Finicky cat? Make meals more enticing with these tips

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By Sandie Lee

Cats are notorious for being finicky eaters. They may take one sniff at a perfectly fine dish of food, then turn tail and leave the offending “slop” behind with an air of disgust. This can occur even if the food in her dish has been her favorite up to this point. It’s a cat’s prerogative to change her mind on a moment’s notice, don’t you know?

If this has happened with your feline friend, you’re not alone. Cat owners all over the world have endured this frustration (and probably always will), but there are ways to get Kitty back to the dish.

Is Kitty healthy?

The most important reason a cat may refuse food is illness or stress. Before you try to entice your cat to eat, you have to determine whether it’s simply being picky or has something affecting its physiology. Cats that refuse sustenance for more than 24 hours or exhibit other signs of illness, like vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or weakness should be taken to a veterinarian to determine the underlying source of these symptoms.

Try same brand, different flavors

Unless your cat has a medical reason that prevents it from exploring new foods, changing the flavor of your present brand is sometimes enough to re-ignite your cat’s vigor for dining. If this is not an option, or you’ve run out of possibilities with a certain brand, beware that a sudden change in food brands may cause some diarrhea in your cat. However, it should clear up once your cat’s system has become accustomed to the dietary change.

Nuke it!

Can food that is refrigerated after being opened will become less aromatic. But putting it in the microwave for about 5 to 10 seconds will be enough to bring out its natural smell and flavor. No microwave (or don’t want to stink up the house)? Mix some warm water into the food.

Add some flavor

There are things you can use to enhance the flavor and smell of your cat’s food. Sprinkle a teaspoon of dried catnip over the food to make it more enticing, use products like powdered cat vitamins or dried Bonito flakes (Japanese skip jack tuna) to enhance the food’s taste, or even drizzle some canned salmon juice over dry kibble and mix well.

Keep those kitty dishes clean!

Cats are repelled by the smell of putrid meat, so be sure to wash the food dish after every meal to rid it of any leftover morsels of food. Food left to spoil in dishes will create bacteria and even mold which can cause illness in your cat. In addition, if you use plastic, switch over to ceramic, glass, or metal as these substances are easier to keep clean and also won’t hold onto the scent of your dishwashing liquid.

Try shallower dishes

Some felines don’t care for deep dishes as this constricts their whiskers. Short-snout breeds, such as the Persian and Himalayan, may have trouble eating out of a deeper dish because of the restriction on their airways.

Don’t hide medication in food

Most medications for animals are extremely bitter tasting, so by grinding it up in your cat’s food, you may be inadvertently tainting the taste and smell. Unfortunately, your cat will remember the taste was unpleasant and most likely will not try it again. Some medications now come pet-friendly-flavored, so ask your vet if it is one that could be hidden in food without any negative consequences (such as malabsorption).

Cats crave variety just like people do, so try new flavors and textures with your cat to see which one she prefers. As long as there’s no medical reason for your cat withdrawing from its regular diet, she may just be craving a change. Today, there are many, many different formulas and flavors of food to try, which may be just what your cat has been waiting for. Don’t give up on the search for the perfect food. It’s only a matter of time before you find the right taste profile that Kitty is sure to dive right into….at least for now.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

How to teach your cat to walk on leash

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By Sandie Lee

For some pet parents the thought of letting their beloved kitty outside is enough to send shivers through their body; meanwhile, other folks feel it’s a feline’s right to roam free and untethered.

Of course, any animal wandering at large has the potential to get in harm’s way; however, some still view it as unfair to keep our feline friends totally secluded to our homes.

So what’s the alternative?

Teach your cat to walk on a leash! (Fair warning: your cat may put the kibosh on this idea in no uncertain terms, so before you start – keep your expectations realistic.)

Know your cat

Most cats, especially kittens, can be taught to walk on a leash. However, some older felines may never take to the idea. This is when knowing your cat’s personality comes in handy. If she is set in her ways and hates new situations, then she most likely will not be receptive to the prospects of having this strange object strapped to her.

The equipment

For the safety and security of your cat or kitten, purchase a harness, not a collar.

Harnesses made specifically for cats offer a few advantages: a better fit, more control, and less pressure on the throat (which reduces stress).  Unlike a cat collar, a cat harness won’t break away when tugged on (a feature most cat collars have to prevent the feline from strangling if caught on an object).

Before you try to put the harness on, leave it near the food dish for a few days so that your cat can get used to the sight and smell of it. Try putting a few high value treats in or near the harness while it’s on the floor to create good associations.

Have realistic expectations

Anyone that has ever been owned by a cat knows that they’re independent creatures with very definite opinions. So when trying out the harness and leash for the first time, have realistic expectations.

Your cat will most likely not want anything to do with this strange apparatus and may even kick, roll, or try to get away when you embark on the challenge of fitting her with the harness for the first time.

This is perfectly normal, so have patience and get ready for the bribe!

Reward training

Better known as “bribing,” food rewards work well for most cats, especially when they’re hungry. With this in mind, do short training sessions with your cat when it is most likely to be craving some tasty treats…or dinner. And don’t forget to make those treats stinky and high value – the average cat won’t work for just kibble. 

Now comes the fun part: put the harness on your cat in the house. Make sure it is snug, but not too tight as to be uncomfortable. Once you have the harness on give Kitty a treat and praise her.

Then, let her go. If she takes a step in the harness, give her a treat and praise her. Keep repeating this step is she continues to move around in the harness.

However, if she immediately drops to the floor, wait a moment to see if she will move; if she does, praise, reward, and repeat.

If she doesn’t move or is freaking out and trying to run away, remove the harness immediately and try again later.

Attach the leash

Once Kitty is used to the harness (it may take a while), attach a light leash and let her walk around with that for a few more days, so that she can get used to the extra weight. You can attach the regular leash when you’re ready to start holding it while walking.

Practice, practice, practice 

Depending on each individual cat, you may have to practice indoors for days before your cat is comfortable and confident in the harness and leash.

As your cat learns to tolerate the harness and leash for longer periods-of-time, be sure to continue the verbal and physical praise and the reward treats.

If at any time she drops or her tail is swishing and her demeanor changes, immediately remove the harness and leash, give her a treat and try again later. It’s best to end the session before Kitty starts getting upset; you always want to end training periods on an up note. 

The great outdoors

Now that your cat is used to the harness and leash, it’s time to embark on the adventure of the great outdoors. Depending on the temperament of your feline friend, you could spend weeks just getting down the front walk, or you could be going for real walks in a matter of minutes.

Most likely your cat will want to drop and roll around on the soft grass, so give her the time she needs to take in her surroundings. Try to view the environment through your cat’s eyes. Is it noisy with lots of traffic, barking dogs and other distractions? These may be viewed as threatening to a newly outdoored kitty, so take her to a quieter place where she will feel less exposed until she feels comfortable.

Beware of the dangers, and be a considerate visitor

When your cat is exploring, be sure to watch her closely so she doesn’t lick, chew, or swallow something that could be poisonous or dangerous for cats. Don’t let Kitty run up a tree, and never leave your feline tied up and unattended (even for a moment) as this can prove to be hazardous if she were to be attacked by another animal or to escape.

 

DO NOT let your cat chase birds or other animals while you’re outside; remember that it’s their home that you’re visiting, and it’s not a fun game for them to be attacked by dangerous predators, harnessed or not. 

 

Don’t give up!

When walking a cat on a leash they can become easily spooked, so an area that was okay yesterday may terrify your cat today. If this happens, go back to the last place she felt comfortable and start again. Also, unless your cat is in harm’s way, try to resist the urge to pick her up and soothe her. Cats learn confidence while working through a situation, so let her be.

Taking your cat for a walk on a leash is a fun and safe way for her to explore the outdoors. Follow these steps, and be patient while Kitty is learning the “leash.”

What is catnip (and why does my cat love it so much)?

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By Sandie Lee

You’ve heard stories about the effects of catnip — the flipping! the rubbing! the drooling!— so you may not be sure if it’s something you want to give to your cat. Can something that provokes such a strong response be safe (or legal)?

Not to worry – these are all perfectly normal concerns many pet parents have when it comes to this intoxicating kitty herb.  Let’s explore the properties of catnip and how it works so you can decide if it is right for your feline overlord.

Catnip has a scientific name — Nepeta cataria — but it is also called catswort and catmint. It is in the mint family (Lamiaceae) and grows between 20 and 39 inches tall (50 to 100 centimeters) with downy, heart-shaped, jagged leaves and purple-spotted white flowers. It is native to the southern and eastern parts of Europe, the Middle East, central Asia and parts of China.  And even though it’s not indigenous to North America and New Zealand, it was brought over by settlers and now grows and spreads throughout these areas with the ease of a weed.  In addition, many people love to grow this plant in their gardens for its beauty and insect-repellant properties.

What gives it the “nip”?

The zing comes from a chemical called nepetalactone, which is found in the tiny bulbs located on the leaves of the catnip plant, as well as in the stems and seedpods.

To produce the classic ‘nutty’ effect, your kitty will need to actually sniff the catnip. Once inhaled, the nepetalactone stimulates sensory neurons, sending signals to the brain.  

According to Scientific American, several brain regions are affected, including the amygdala (located in your cat’s midbrain & controls emotional responses) and the hypothalamus (the brain’s “master gland” that regulates hormones which affect things like hunger and emotions).  In a nutshell, the nepetalactone inside the cat’s brain mimics a pheromone, which can alter the animal’s behavior.

How will my cat react?

No one really knows how their cat will react to catnip until they try it.  Studies show that 70–80% of felines are genetically predisposed to respond in some way to catnip.

The common effects are usually licking, chewing, rolling, meowing, drooling or running around the house. Others may get aggressive, and do things like swat or growl. 

Dr. Kari Addante at the Village Vets in Decatur, Georgia is particularly interested in feline medicine and behaviors. She provides some great insight on the topic of catnip below:

Catnip is an herb known for its intoxicating effects on cats: it is completely safe medically and non-addictive for your cat to smell and ingest. The ability to respond to catnip is hereditary and about 70% of domestic cats carry this trait (which is autosomal dominant).

The behavior that results varies among individuals so that some cats appear euphoric while others demonstrate aggression.  After 15 minutes or so, the effects diminish and most cats won’t react again for an hour or two.  Elderly cats, kittens, and fearful or stressed cats may not respond to catnip at all.

If you have decided to give catnip a try with your feline, you’ve got a few options:

Purchase toys that are already stuffed with dried catnip. These are readily available at pet retailers and can simply be given to your cat at any time.  

Catnip spray. This is useful for when you are trying to attract your cat to a certain object, like a scratching post, a new pet bed or toy (providing they respond to the herb).

Catnip-infused bubble solution. This is one of the newer and more creative uses of this plant. Catnip bubbles are just like the soap bubbles children blow with bubble wands, but infused with catnip for an extra interactive twist when the bubble pops.

Catnip can be given to your pet fresh from the plant or dried. How much is too much? Cats seem to know when they’ve had enough; it’s unlikely that they’ll overdose by inhalation. However, digestive upset can happen if too much is eaten, so limit Kitty to just a sprinkling (one-quarter-teaspoon or less) on the floor or its favorite kibble. Also note, if you cat eats catnip the behavioral changes are not as marked because it is being digested through the stomach.

Although catnip has no long-term addictive properties, like any other product use this herb in small doses to ensure you can gauge its effect. Ultimately, to catnip or not to catnip is up to each individual pet parent. Unless your feline has had it before, the effects of the herb may just surprise you—so be ready!

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

 

 

Ancient cat breeds

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By Sandie Lee

Have you ever wondered where all the different cat breeds come from?

There’s the Russian Blue and the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Himalayan and the Siamese, and the Domestic Short and Long-haired felines.  Although there are over 70 specific cat breeds recognized today, they can all trace their lineage back to the Felis Sylvestris or the Middle Eastern Wildcat.

It was in the Middle East, some 12,000 years ago, that people began to recognize cats’ usefulness in keeping vermin under control. The ancient Egyptians even elevated the feline to the status of a god, a trait which seems to have followed this independent creature throughout time.

Let’s claw back the curtain of history to uncover some fascinating facts about our feline friends.

Nature or Nurture?

Did you know 95% of cats in the U.S. are randomly bred and are called American Domestics, while the other 5% are pedigreed? That’s a whole lot of nature being responsible for the majority of our cat population. Nature has also done some amazing things to help the feline species cope with and adapt to its surroundings.

For example, Maine Coon cats often have extra toes, a completely harmless condition known as polydactylism. These extra digits not only look adorable, but gives the cat greater abilities while hunting and over snowy terrain.

As cats became more and more popular, man took it upon himself to encourage traits in our felines that were naturally occurring in some litters.

A completely hairless kitten sparked the idea of a cat that would be more suitable for those who suffer with allergies and later became known as the Sphynx, while half a litter of kittens born with super-short legs inspired the Munchkin breed.

These are relatively new breeds to the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA), but there are ancient breeds that have been around for hundreds and even thousands of years.

Ancient Cat Breeds

There’s a catalogue of cats that have been known throughout history. See if your favorite breed can count itself as “ancient.”

Turkish angoraTurkish Angora –  This fluffy breed can trace its documented lineage back as far as the 1600s in France. However, it is quite possible that the Turkish Angora originated in the mountainous regions of Turkey, where it developed an unusually soft, medium-long coat for protection against the harsh winters.

In addition, long-haired cats were also present as far back as the 1400s in Europe. In the early 1900s, this breed was used indiscriminately in breeding programs with the Persian cat to improve on the quality of the coats in the offspring. This almost lead to the demise of the entire Turkish Angora breed; fortunately, a breeding program was set up in Turkey to preserve the cat.

Today, all purebred Turkish Angoras must be able to trace their lineage back to Turkey to be registered with the CFA.

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Persian –  Another long haired feline, the Persian, also makes the list for being one of the oldest cat breeds known today.

Way back in the 1600s this cat was smuggled out of Persia (modern day Iran) by European explorers, along with spices and jewels. It then went on to grace the castles and courtyards of royalty in France, Italy, and England.

In fact, this breed was favored by Queen Victoria and Florence Nightingale. Experts believe the Persian can trace its lineage all the way back to the wild cat, Felis Libyca, which are still found in Africa and Asia today.

siamese catSiamese –  The elegance of the Siamese breed can trace its roots back to Thailand (formerly Siam); in fact, a detailed description of a cat resembling the Siamese was found in a book that was believed to be written between 1350 and 1767.

As this breed gained popularity, President Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) and his wife Lucy were the recipients of a Siamese cat shipped to them in 1878 by David B. Sickels, a U.S. diplomat stationed at the consulate in Thailand. The letter detailing the feline gift is still on file at the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio.

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Korat –  Thought to bring good luck to those that own one, the Korat can also trace its ancestry back to Thailand and was documented in The Cat-Book of Poems or Smud Khoi in the 1300s.

Its piercing green eyes and silver coat were highly valued and were the qualities that were believed to bring prosperity to its owners, both hundreds of years ago and even today to newlyweds and farmers in Thailand.

Siberian forestSiberian Forest – This centuries-old breed dates back hundreds of years to Russia. It was fondly mentioned in children’s fairy tales and books, as well as officially named in 1889 in a book by Harrison Wier called Our Cats and All About Them.

Not only was the Siberian Forest cat talked and written about, it was also highly prized for its natural hunting abilities, which helped keep the rodent population under control on the local farms.

After the Cold War, the Siberian cat was imported into other countries and finally made its way into the United States in the early 90s.

norwegian forestNorwegian Forest – Another long-haired breed makes the ancient list as the Norwegian Forest cat can trace its furry roots back centuries to the area of Norway. It was featured in their folk tales and mythology and was referred to as the “Skogkatt” (which means “forest cat”.)

It is thought this cat was most likely used on the ships of Vikings to keep the rodent population under control, the same role they played on the Norwegian farms.

Abyssinian (see photo at the top of the article) –  Although researchers are not entirely sure just how far back the Abyssinian breed dates, there are depictions of cats resembling the Abyssinian in Near Eastern art and sculptures. However, recent genetic testing now suggests the breed most likely originated in Southeast Asia on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

According to the CFA, the first mention of the Abyssinian was in the Harper’s Weekly (January 27, 1872 issue) where the 3rd prize in the December 1871 Crystal Palace show was taken by the Abyssinian Cat “captured in the late Abyssinian War.”

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Egyptian Mau – Perhaps the most “ancient” of them all, the Egyptian Mau was found mummified in the tombs of the Egyptian Pharaohs and Kings.

In addition, papyri and frescoes dating back as far as 1550 B.C. depict spotted cats. Many documents found from the dawn of the New Kingdom make it well know that this breed was an integral part of daily life.

This cat is thought to have been used to aid hunters. It still retains the skill of being the fastest cat alive, reaching speeds of up to 30 mph!

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

 

What’s up with those kitty whiskers?

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By Sandie Lee

Why DO cats have whiskers, anyway? Sure, they’re great for tickling your nose early in the morning when you’d rather be sleeping, but those long thick strands of hair (also known as vibrissae or tactile hairs), found on your cat’s face and on the back of its front legs (above the paws) serve some other [also very important] purposes.

They’re great navigational aids. Have you ever tried to make your way around a dark room? It’s tricky, isn’t it? Well, instead of bumping into things like us clumsy humans, a cat uses its whiskers to navigate dark areas.The whiskers allow cats to detect changes in air currents, which in turn keeps the animal from smacking into that bookshelf or footstool. Cats also use their whiskers to hunt, because they can detect the air currents around its prey.

If the whiskers fit… If you’ve noticed your cat poking her head through an opening and pausing, she’s doing more than just checking out what’s inside – she’sactually gauging if she’ll fit without getting stuck.

The whiskers on a cat’s muzzle are approximately the same length as the cat’s width (this may not apply to overweight cats). So if the whiskers fit into that opening without bending, then the cat knows it’s safe to proceed. 

Whisker fun fact: a cat’s muzzle has four rows of whiskers on each side. The two top rows can move independently of the bottom two rows.

They protect the eyes. When a cat is out in the tall grass or an area with lots of brush, the whiskers above the eyes serve as an automatic blinking trigger. If a foreign object touches these top whiskers, it immediately makes the cat blink. This serves to protect the eyes from debris or punctures.

Wait – cats have whiskers on their legs? We’ve already learned the cat’s muzzle-whiskers can detect the shift in air currents when hunting prey, but did you know the carpal whiskers (located just above the cat’s wrists on the front legs) also help it when hunting?

When a cat has its prey captured between its front paws, the carpal whiskers help her determine movement and which direction the animal is facing. Once the cat has this information, it can make an accurate killing bite.

They’re mood detectors. Don’t wait for kitty to give you a good swat to find out she’s in a bad mood – just take a look at her whiskers!

Loosely hanging whiskers mean “I’m relaxed.” A battle-ready or frightened cat’s whiskers will lie flat against the face to prevent damage, while forward-facing whiskers mean that the cat is in hunting mode.

However, don’t rely just on the whiskers before going in for a cuddle; be sure to read your cat’s other body language signs to help determine its mood or availability for some quality snuggle time.

No touching! Never cut or tamper with a cat’s whiskers. This will not only cause disorientation, but also fear, stress, and even pain due to their extreme sensitivity.

Now that you know how important whiskers are, take notice of all the ways your cat uses them. Whether he’s hunting, making his way through a dark room, or just telling you how much he loves your company, those whiskers are as much a part of your cat’s makeup as his endearing purr.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

When your cat is a hat

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By Mary Beth Miller

Snuggled up in bed you begin to drift off to sleep, just to be woken up by a face full of cat fur. You love your cat, so you kindly remove Fluffy from your face and go back to sleep.

Ten minutes later, you feel a tail tickling your nose and Fluffy not on your face, but on top of your head. What a crazy kitty! Why does my cat want to sleep on my head at night?

Feline experts are not 100% sure as to why cats find the head of their owners an inviting place to catch some shuteye, but they do have a few theories.

Your head is warm

It’s no secret that cats love to seek out warm places in the house. That is why we often find our easy going felines basking in the sun or curled up in a fresh batch of laundry. As humans, we lose the majority of our body heat through our heads, so when the sun goes down, our cats see our noggins as a warm and cozy place to be in the chill of the night.

You provide a feeling of safety

Every living, breathing thing in this world needs to feel safe – including your cat. Your cat looks to you for protection and he knows that nothing could possibly hurt him in the presence of his human. Think of your head as an early warning system – if you are startled by a noise in the night, your head will jolt up, waking your cat so he can get out of the way of possible danger.

The calming scents & sounds that are you

The scent of your hair, the distant thrum of your beating heart, and the soothing sound of your breath all bring your cat to a zen state. Fluffy associates these smells or sounds with companionship, care, and peace. Snuggled under the covers, your head may just be your cat’s happy place.

Your cat loves you

Left alone while you are at work, your cat misses you and wants to spend time with you at the end of the day. There are only a few hours between the time you get home and bedtime, so your cat takes advantage of every second he can get. Those purrs, head rubs, and kitty kisses are his way of saying he adores you. Jumping into bed and snuggling up next to you is just another way of showing his affection, so wear your cat hat with pride!

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mary-beth-miller-pawedinMary Beth Miller is a registered veterinary technician from southeast Iowa. She works in a large/small animal veterinary clinic and also volunteers at the local Humane Society, Emergency Animal Care Center, as well as the Iowa Parrot Rescue. Her passion lies in helping save the lives of animals. Mary Beth has three dogs, a Siberian husky named Rocky and two rescue dogs named Sambita and Nina.

What does the cat say?

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By Emily Bruer

If you are the human companion to a cat, it’s likely that you’ve heard your feline friend make a plethora of sounds. What do these sounds mean? From chirping to purring, growling to hissing, and everything in between, we’ve got you covered on kitty language basics!

While some cats are more vocal than others, they all make their fair share of noises.

Like us, each cat has his or her own voice, so pitch and volume will be different from cat to cat, but one thing is always the same—the reason behind your kitty’s sounds.

Meowing – This is a broad category, as cats meow for a myriad of reasons. Be it an empty food bowl, a greeting, a friendly wake up call, or a warning—different tones can signal different meanings.

The best way to know what your cat means when she meows is to pay attention to the context and her body language at the time of the noise. For instance, if you just walked through the door after a day at work there is a good chance your cat’s meow means “hello.”

If you are aggressively rubbing her belly and she is giving you a crankier sounding meow, it’s likely a threat that she intends to bite you if you don’t stop immediately.

One theory is that cats developed their meow as a means of communication with their newfound human friends, way back in the day. Some scientists believe that cats see humans as large helpless creatures that are incapable of hunting, which is why some cats will bring us prey like mice and birds. They don’t want their helpless friends to starve!

Trills and chirps – Many scientists believe that trills and chirps are a mother cat’s way of getting her kittens to follow her. So if you cat is chirping at you while she walks toward her food bowl she is likely saying “follow me to my food bowl and feed me,” or if she chirps while she is walking out the door she may be trying to lead you to something she found outside.

While this is a great theory, another is that cats simply trill and chirp when they are feeling extremely excited and happy. It could be that both theories are correct, the only way to know for sure is to watch your cat and try to figure out what she is telling you!

Purring – The majority of the time cats purr when they are comfortable and happy. The frequency of the vibrations in cats while purring is soothing to humans, other cats, and your cat herself.

So when a cat is happy she purrs as a way of not only making herself even happier and more relaxed, but also to make those around her happier.

Another reasons cats purr is to self-sooth. If a cat is extremely stressed out, you may find her purring as a way to calm herself down. Often times when a cat is extremely stressed they may also pant.

In kittens, purring can actually be a means of self defense. The same frequencies of vibration that we find soothing is also soothing to predators. So if a predator has a kitten in its mouth and is preparing to eat it, a kitten may begin purring in the hopes that the predator will decide she is simply too adorable to eat and release her.

Growling, hissing, and spitting –  A cat that is exhibiting any of these vocalizations or behaviors is one that should be left alone.

The cat may be extremely fearful, or it may be trying to defend its territory. Either way, the cat is likely to enter fight or flight mode if it isn’t left alone, and nothing good can come from being the recipient of a cat bite.

While your cat may love you and would never consider hurting you on normal terms, a scared cat doesn’t always use its normal decision-making skills. It may hurt you without even realizing who you are simply because the primal instincts have taken over to ensure survival.

The best thing to do in this situation is make sure you cat has a suitable place to hide if she feels the need and then leave her alone to calm down.

Chattering – You may notice your cat making a chattering noise while she is looking out the window at birds or chipmunks. This in my opinion) is one of the cutest noises cats can make.(

Unfortunately, the reason is far from cute. Experts believe that cats chatter while watching prey because her instincts are telling her how to make the killing bite. While our domestic kitties may not get the opportunity to hunt much anymore, their ancestors were fierce predators.

Our feline friends have since exaggerated their killing move and made it into more of an excited chatter. They are imagining themselves on the hunt, and chattering as they kill their intended prey.

Cats are beautiful, mysterious creatures and we are lucky to have them enriching our lives. While we will never know exactly what cats mean when they make noises, we can develop a pretty good grasp of the general idea if we pay attention.

I hope this guide helps you to better understand your feline friends; hopefully, they aren’t secretly laughing at our attempts to figure them out. (Editor’s note: you know they are. 🙂

Get the scoop on all things cat with a subscription to FetchFind Monthly Pro! Developed by behavior expert Arden Moore, this content will help you (and your employees) learn more about our fabulous feline friends!

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5 reasons why you should adopt an older cat

 

By Emily Bruer

If you’re thinking about adding a new feline friend to the family, you’ve probably been tempted by the idea of getting a kitten. While kittens can be fun, they are also a Lot. Of. Work. Older cats are generally much easier to handle, and if you are considering adopting during the #CleartheShelters event this weekend, here are some great reasons to  welcome a more mature kitty into your home:

Personality

What most people don’t realize is that kittens are like babies (because they are!), and their true personalities won’t be fully developed until they reach maturity at about 2-3 years of age. When you adopt an older cat you pretty much know what you’re getting. If the cat is extremely friendly it will likely be that way the rest of its life (barring trauma or illness). 

However, it is good to keep in mind that many animals will not act themselves in the shelter environment. If a cat has lived with one family its entire life and suddenly finds itself in a loud, busy shelter, chances are they will be overwhelmed and either withdraw or lash out. Be sure to ask shelter staff about which cats they think would be the best fit for your home, and take their advice into consideration. Most staff members know the animals in their care very well and will be able to point you in the right direction.

Save a life

No matter what age the cat you adopt is, you will be saving a life. But if you adopt an older cat you know you are making a huge difference in that animal’s life. Kittens tend to get adopted quickly, while older cats are left waiting (sometimes for a year or more) for the right home to come along.

After they have been waiting a while cats tend to get depressed, and it’s a downhill battle from there for staff to keep them alive. A depressed cat will often stop eating and refuse any specialty foods offered to it. The sooner an adult cat can get out of the shelter and into a home the better.

Calm

Kittens are [adorable] maniacs. They are into everything, climbing everything they can, pouncing on your feet, and just enjoying exploring everything in the world. On the other hand, adult cats are much more laid back, and they’re more likely to sleep through the night instead of bouncing off your head like it’s a trampoline at 2am. They are more interested in napping at your feet than chasing the lights from passing cars across the room.

Better in pairs

If you are open to adopting two cats, ask shelter staff if they have any bonded pairs. Pairs of cats frequently enter the shelter together when their owners pass away or move. Pairs can be hard to adopt out together, but many of these cats will stop eating without their best friend around to keep them company. Two bonded cats are about the same amount of work as one, so you might as well go for it!

Grateful 

Adult cats tend to bond more closely with their new people than kittens. I believe this is because they are grateful to have a stable home and a loving environment. They felt the fear and uncertainty of the shelter, and when you came their life immediately improved. They will always associate you with their rescue, and will love you dearly for it.

Adopting an older cat is a great way to get an amazing kitty without all the work of kittenhood. Be sure to check around the shelters in your area to find a cat that speaks to you, and don’t be afraid to visit several times before making your final decision.

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

Introducing Kitty to Baby

Chinese Baby with Tiger Patterned Cat

By Sandie Lee

Cats are creatures of habit, so it can be very upsetting when a new schedule-changer (aka, Baby) turns its world upside down. But there are ways to soften the emotional turmoil and prepare your cat for the new family member.

Keep a consistent kitty schedule

Babies are hectic, demanding little humans, and their needs can disrupt the entire household. Before your baby arrives, make sure your cat already has a regular, predictable routine for feeding, litter box cleaning, medication (as needed), and play time.

If you feel you may have trouble keeping Kitty’s schedule, enlist the help of those around you and invest in an automatic food dispenser. Having consistent times for daily activities will help your cat be more resilient when everything else gets crazy.

Slowly introduce new sights, sounds, and smells

Humans may take for granted all the new sights, sounds, and smells a new baby brings with it. But for cats (who – let’s face it – like to have things their way), all the strange, loud stimuli can be quite overwhelming.

To help conquer this, let your cat sniff the new baby items as you bring them into your home. Let Kitty rub her face on the items (marking) so they will be just a part of the home to her. After the baby is born, bring home an item from the hospital that the baby has been in contact with and let your cat sniff and mark it. This allows your cat to become used to the smell of the new baby before he comes into the house.

Did you know there’s a CD of baby sounds? (You can also download baby sounds for pets on iTunes.) This is excellent to play in the background so your cat can become accustomed to all the odd sounds a baby makes. Play this when your cat is relaxed or you’re cuddling with her so she knows there’s nothing to be afraid of.

No extra attention

As much as we may want to pre-emptively assuage our feelings of guilt, we have to resist the temptation to heap on extra attention to Kitty before the baby arrives.

Remember, cats are routine-based animals, so if you load on the affection to make up for a later deficit, she will come to expect this every day. To help ease Kitty into the “lesser” role, introduce more toys that will have her playing on her own, but still be sure to give her some one-on-one time as per your new schedule.

Allow exploration of the baby’s room

Don’t keep the baby’s room “off limits” before the child arrives; allow your cat to investigate so she becomes familiar with the baby’s items.

Although the idea of a cat “stealing a baby’s breathe” is a myth, it’s not a good idea to let your cat sleep with a new baby as they can curl up too close and restrict an infant’s airway. Some more jealous cats have even been known to urinate inside the crib, so to prevent these unwanted incidents, use a baby crib tent to keep your infant safe while your cat can still see what’s going on.

High-up getaways

Cats love to be high up in the air, so invest in a tall scratch post that Kitty can call her own. This allows your cat to flee from a situation she may perceive as “too much” but still allows her to be a part of the goings-on of the family. Tall cat trees are also perfect perches for when baby becomes a toddler and may become too “grabby” for Kitty’s comfort.

Talk to your doctor about toxoplasmosis

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis is to keep your cat indoors. The Centers for Disease Control state that you’re more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from raw meat or gardening than from your cat, but talk to your doctor about your concerns to be on the safe side. You can also educate yourself by reading more about the disease here and here.

Still  my baby

Cats are sensitive creatures, so even after the baby arrives be sure not to ignore or shoo away your feline pal. Up to this point, she may have been the center of attention and now she will have to get used to not getting the lion’s share of affection. Give your cat the love she craves when the baby is napping or when someone else in the household is tending to the baby.

Working out the time issues between Baby and Kitty will take some effort, but it will be well worth it when your child grows up with a loving pet that may just turn into a best friend.

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sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

 

How to toilet train your cat

cat-on-toilet

By Emily Bruer

Do you hate cleaning the litter box every day? Are you sick of finding litter all over your house? Do you have trouble masking that pervasive litter box smell? If so, it’s time for you to toilet train your cat.

While toilet training a cat may sound difficult (especially because they don’t have opposable thumbs), with the right tools your cat will be out of the box and onto the pot in no time!

1. The first step in toilet training your cat is simply moving the litter box into the bathroom. This will get your cat used to going into the bathroom to do his business and it will get him used to the noises and sounds of toilet flushing and the shower.

If your cat’s box is already in the bathroom skip to step 2. If not, wait a week before moving on.

2. Before you move to the toilet phase, you will want to get your cat transitioned to a flushable litter like a grass or corn litter. You will want to slowly transition your cat to the new litter by slowly mixing it in with the current over the course of a week. Every day take out a scoop of the old and add in a scoop of the new until only the new is in the box. 

If you were already using a flushable litter, skip to Step 3.

3. This step is the messiest, but don’t give up yet! For this step you will need either an aluminum roasting pan or a Litter Kwitter.

If you chose an aluminum roasting pan you will need to duct tape it to your toilet and cover any gaps with plastic wrap, then fill the bottom of the pan or the Litter Kwitter with the flushable litter.

It’s likely that your cat will get litter all over the place during this stage as she is jumping up and potentially trying to dig more than she needs to.

Move to step 4 after about a week.

4. Cut a small hole in the center of your roasting pan or remove the first section of the Litter Kwitter. Be sure there is still litter surrounding the new hole as having no litter will confuse your kitty.

Give her about a week to 10 days to get used to this and then move on to step 5.

5. Cut a slightly larger hole in the center of the roasting pan and remove the second section of the Litter Kwitter. You will leave it like this for about a week to 10 days, and then repeat. Continue cutting and removing pieces of the Litter Kwitter until the hole is the same size as the toilet’s opening.

Proceed to Step 6.

6. Now that there isn’t any litter left in the pan (or the Litter Kwitter), you can remove either apparatus and let your kitty use the toilet.

Keep in mind during this process that your kitty may have accidents or struggle a bit. If you find your cat is struggling don’t be afraid to go back a step or two until she is comfortable.

No one wants potty time to be stressful, and if your cat is too stressed out by her new potty arrangements she could develop bad habits. If your cat is older, getting steps that lead up to the toilet can be helpful as arthritic joints may have trouble jumping up. Getting a toilet seat cover that has some texture to it can help as well. Be sure to always leave the lid up after toilet training your cat or she will likely have accidents.

While some cats take quickly to toilet training, others can take a little longer, so be patient. Toilet training in a multi-cat household can be a bit of a challenge, too, so don’t be afraid to wait a little longer between steps. If you cat is extremely skittish, she may never adjust to using the toilet. In that case, try out some of the covered or auto-cleaning litter boxes that are on the market.

With a lot of patience, a little luck, and some dedication your kitty could be the next toilet trained sensation in your neighborhood. Good luck and never give up on your feline friend.

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emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.