Saturday, 28 March 2020

How to make friends with a nervous cat

While some particularly confident cats may be happy to approach a total stranger for a fuss, many cats will be wary of new people.

ginger cat peeking over the top of a cushion

If you’ve just brought a shy cat home, or want to become best buddies with a friend or family member’s cat, there are some simple tricks you can use to gain their trust.

Although they may never be comfortable with cuddles, with a bit of patience and understanding you will hopefully be rewarded with the ultimate sign of love, a head bump!

1. Let them come to you 


brown tabby cat sitting on the floor

The most important role when making friends with a cat is to do everything on their terms. Forcing your affection on them is only going to make them stressed, and even if they stay put, they won’t necessarily be enjoying the fuss you’re giving them. It may take a bit of time, but wait for them to approach you first and always let them get away if they want to.

2. Be small and quiet 


girl with brown hair sitting on floor and stroking black cat

Having a human towering over them is going to be quite frightening for a cat, so try sitting down on the floor or a chair nearby so you don’t look so scary. Similarly, any loud noises and sudden movements may spook the cat, so move slowly and quietly around them but make sure you don’t sneak up on them if they don’t know you’re there.


3. Slow blink at them 


side view of white cat with eyes closed

When the cat is looking at you, avoid staring back at them as this may make them more nervous. Instead, try slowly blinking your eyes at them. This lets them know that you trust them enough to close your eyes in their presence, which is a big deal for a cat. Hopefully they will then return the gesture by slow blinking back, letting you know that they trust you too.

4. Offer out a hand 


tabby-and-white cat sniffing an outstretched hand

If the cat seems comfortable around you, try casually holding out your hand a few inches to the side of them to see if they give it a sniff. Still keep your distance and monitor the cat’s body language. If their weight is shifted onto their front or back legs then they may still be unsure and any further contact may startle them. However, if their body language is more neutral and they rub their face on you this is a good sign, as they will be marking you with their own scent (which only cats can smell) via glands in their cheeks. You can then progress to giving them a gentle head rub or chin stroke.

5. Don’t touch their tummy 


brown-and-white cat lying on back and getting a chin scratch

Once the cat starts to become friendly with you, they may roll over onto their back and show you their tummy. No matter how tempting it may be, try to resist touching their tummy when they do this. By showing you their tummy they are letting you know they trust you enough not to touch it, so if you go in for a stroke, that would be the ultimate betrayal. Instead, just stroke their head or chin to show them you appreciate the gesture.

6. Encourage them to play 


grey-and-white cat lying on floor with a cat fishing rod toy

Some cats may never be keen on being stroked, but they might enjoy playing some games with you instead. Try slowly moving a fishing rod toy across the floor a meter or two away from them to see if they stalk it, or slowly bat a ping pong ball towards them to see if they chase it. Catching toys releases happy hormones in cats’ brains and so playtime is a great way to bond with them and may lead to head bumps eventually!

For more information on helping shy cats to become more confident, visit www.cats.org.uk/shy-cats

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

How to keep your cat entertained if you’re self-isolating

With coronavirus (COVID-19) at the forefront of many people’s minds, cat owners may be concerned about what it all means for their pets.

tabby-and-white cat in front of yellow background

To find Cats Protection’s most up-to-date guidance on cats and coronavirus, visit our dedicated webpage featuring useful FAQs to put your mind at rest.

Currently it’s advised that if you’re self-isolating due to COVID-19, you should minimise the amount of time your cat spends outdoors unsupervised if possible. If your cat usually spends a lot of time roaming outside, you might be concerned about how to try and keep them happy if you decide to keep them indoors, so here are some things you can try.

Top tips for keeping your outdoor cat happy indoors 


Get them a scratch post 
You may have one already, but if not then a scratch post is a great investment if you want to protect your furniture from your cat’s claws. Get a post that’s tall enough for your cat to stretch out on, but sturdy enough not to topple over under their weight. There are lots of great cat products available to order online and get delivered straight to your door. For more tips on how to make sure your cat uses the post instead of your sofa, visit www.cats.org.uk/scratching

tabby cat lying next to scratch post


Set up a litter tray 
If your cat is usually used to toileting outdoors, they’ll now need access to an indoor toilet to use whenever nature calls. Set them up with a nice big litter tray in a quiet area of the home and add in 3cm of soft cat litter for them to dig. If you have more than one cat, they’ll ideally need one tray each plus one spare so they don’t have to share. For more advice on setting up your cat’s perfect loo, visit www.cats.org.uk/toileting

Use a fishing rod toy 
Cats have a natural instinct to stalk, pounce and catch moving objects so if they can no longer do this outdoors, they’ll need something to hunt indoors instead. Fishing rod toys, particularly ones with feathers, are fantastic for this and they also allow you to play with your cat from a safe distance. To find out more about how to play with your cat visit www.cats.org.uk/cats-and-play

tabby-and-white cat sniffing pink and yellow feather toy


Get creative at feeding time
If your cat is spending more time indoors, you’ll need to make sure they’re getting enough mental and physical stimulation to keep their mind and body active. A great way to do this is to make them work a bit for their food using puzzle/enrichment feeders. There are many different products you can order from pet retailers, or you can have a go at making your own at home.

Create some hiding places
A change to your cat’s normal routine can be stressful for them, so they’ll appreciate some quiet places they can hide away and feel safe. Cardboard boxes make excellent cosy hiding places, especially with a nice blanket tucked inside. Try also giving your cat somewhere they can get up high to hide, such as a high shelf or on top of a wardrobe. To find out more about why cats hide, visit www.cats.org.uk/cats-hiding

black-and-white cat stretched out inside cardboard box


Plug in a pheromone diffuser 
Another great way to calm a stressed out moggy is to use a synthetic pheromone diffuser such as FELIWAY® CLASSIC, which you can order online. This will release calming cat pheromones into your home that only your cat will be able to detect, providing them with a familiar scent that will put them at ease.

Be patient with your cat 
Whether it’s restricted outside access or having a busier household, any change in routine and environment can be stressful for your cat, especially as they don’t understand why it is happening. It’s important to remain calm and patient with them as they learn to adjust, as it may take them several days or weeks to get used to their new way of living. If you follow all of the steps above, you can help to make the change as stress-free as possible.

For lots more information about keeping indoor cats happy, visit www.cats.org.uk/indoor-cats 

Of course, your own wellbeing is also important during these challenging times, so if you’re looking for the purrfect way to de-stress, follow Cats Protection on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for lots of adorable cat content to make you smile. We’d also love to hear about how you and your moggy are doing at home!

Monday, 23 March 2020

Why has my cat suddenly become shy?

Even if you have a confident cat who loves to weave around your legs and sit on you at the most inconvenient times, they may still appear nervous from time to time.

Cats don’t always make it obvious why they’ve suddenly become shy or withdrawn, but there will usually be a reason, even if it’s a subtle one.

Once you know the cause of their change in behaviour, it’s much easier to fix the problem and get your cat back to being their usual confident and happy self.

Here are some of the most common reasons your cat may have suddenly become shy…

They could be in pain 



If your cat has become injured or ill, it might not always be easy to tell. Unfortunately they can’t tell you they’re in pain so they may simply hide away and avoid any human contact. This is a behaviour retained from their ancestor, the African wildcat.

In the wild, these cats would have hid away when they were sick or injured as it would make them less vulnerable to predators when they were not as quick at running away. Although your cat doesn’t have any predators in the home, they may still prefer to hide.

If your cat does show a sudden change in behaviour, it’s always a good idea to take them to the vet to get them checked over, just in case there’s a medical problem that needs attention. 

They could be frightened



This may sound obvious, but sometimes you may not be aware of what has frightened your cat and so their change in behaviour can seem completely random.

Think carefully about whether something could have recently scared them; perhaps a neighbour’s cat may have chased them off, or a loud noise such as drilling or fireworks could have startled them. It could even be that you may have lost your temper and shouted at them for scratching the carpet.

All of these scenarios could cause your cat stress, so it’s best if they can be avoided. If they cannot be avoided, such as fireworks and home improvements, then click the links for advice on how to keep your cat as calm as possible.

They could be struggling with change 



Cats are creatures of habit, so a change in their routine or home environment can cause them to feel nervous and shy away. If you’ve recently had a new baby, got a new cat or other pet, moved home or redecorated, your cat may be feeling unsettled.

The best way to reduce their stress is to make the change as gradual as possible so that your cat is prepared. Click on the links to discover lots of useful advice on how to introduce your cat to these changes.


They could have learnt to avoid something or someone 



If your cat has suddenly started avoiding a particular person or room, it could be that they now associate that person or room with something negative.

Perhaps that person keeps touching their tummy when they don’t want them to, or maybe every time they go into that room there’s a loud noise (eg from the washing machine).

Removing these stressors, for example by asking that person not to touch your cat’s tummy or closing off that room when the washing machine is on, will hopefully remove those associations for your cat so that they have no need to feel scared and nervous.

For more help and advice on caring for a shy cat, visit www.cats.org.uk/shy-cats

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Meowvellous Mother’s Day cards for cat-loving mums

Looking for the purrfect card to give to your cat-mad mum this Mother’s Day? Or perhaps you’re looking for a card to send to your favourite cat mum from their cat?

We’ve created three fun card designs celebrating mums and cat mums this Mother’s Day, and best of all, they’re completely free!

Download the cards via the links below to print at home or send via the internet. You could then use the money you’ve saved for something truly worthwhile – helping cats!

We have thousands of cats in our care who don’t have a home to call their own, so any money you can donate will help us make sure they have everything they need throughout their time with us.

If you’re still looking for a pawsome Mother’s Day gift to go with your card, then we can help with that too! You could sign your mum up to sponsor a cat, so she’ll get regular updates about the cats she's helping, or get her a pawsome cat-themed pressie from our online shop.


Download our free Mother’s Day cards


Just click on the card to download it and print a copy at home!






Kind-hearted volunteer gives Marvin his retirement home

Poorly cat Marvin was looking at spending his final days in a centre until a kind cat lover stepped in and took him home.

When the nine-year-old moggy arrived at Cats Protection’s Tyneside Adoption Centre he initially appeared well.

ginger-and-white cat in a cat pen
Marvin in his pen at the adoption centre
He was a little overweight so was put on a diet, but he began to lose weight quicker than expected. He was also drinking more frequently, so the concerned centre team took him to the vet.

After undergoing a few tests, Marvin was diagnosed with stage two kidney disease, a condition which sadly cannot be cured.

Centre Manager Emzi Frater said: “Speaking to the veterinary team it was unknown how long he had left; it could be a few months or a year, but his condition would certainly be chronic with no treatment options other than special renal food to support.

“In challenging situations such as his, the best we could hope for was a caring person to come forward and offer him a safe, warm home to spend the rest of his days.”

That’s when kind-hearted Karen Hobbs, a volunteer at the centre, stepped in. She had been following Marvin’s journey and had fallen in love with him.

brunette woman in pink jumper with cat carrier containing ginger-and-white cat
Karen Hobbs ready to take Marvin home
“I’d met Marvin in my capacity as Cats Protection volunteer,” said Karen. “I found him to be such a sweet, affectionate boy with a lovely temperament, and as he is in need of end of life care due to his condition, I decided to adopt him.

“Marvin settled very quickly and seems such a happy boy. He is an absolute pleasure and has made us smile so much.”

Emzi added: “The whole team are thrilled that by joining Karen’s family, Marvin has an experienced cat carer who will be able to meet his welfare needs, including regular veterinary check-ups, to help make the right decisions about his ongoing care and keep him comfortable and pain-free.

ginger-and-white cat lying on bed
Marvin making himself comfortable in his new home
“Each and every cat that comes in to us is treated with care and kindness and, though sometimes difficult decisions do need to be made, we always do what is in the best interest of the cat’s welfare.

“We often take cats into care with health conditions and ensure excellent veterinary care and advice is given for each cat so owners know what to expect going forward. We ask people to not rule out rehoming a cat with a health condition as they can be very rewarding.”

If you would like to offer a cat a safe and loving home, visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat to find cats available for adoption in your area. 

For lots of advice on caring for a cat no matter what their age and health status, visit www.cats.org.uk/help-and-advice

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Family of feral cats has a brighter future thanks to Cats Protection

Three homeless cats in Nottingham are now living a happier and healthier life after an eagle-eyed cat lover called in Cats Protection for help.

Thomas Curtis noticed the three cats in his garden last summer, naming the mum cat Tabitha and her two young kittens Memphis and Phoenix.

tabby cat and two tabby kittens sitting on shed roof
The feral family sitting on Thomas' shed. Credit: Thomas Curtis
“I’d seen the mum cat around for a while and assumed she had an owner,” says Thomas. “However one day I noticed her and her two kittens sitting on the roof of my shed and realised they weren’t owned because the kittens were far too small and were suffering with appalling eye injuries.

“I left water and food in spots where the three could eat safely and contacted Cats Protection for advice.”

tabby kitten licking tabby cat's face
Wash time for Pheonix and Tabitha. Credit: Thomas Curtis
It soon became evident that Tabitha was a feral cat, meaning she had grown up in the wild and was fearful of human contact. Carol Hallam, a volunteer with our Nottingham Adoption Centre, went round with her humane cat trap and with a lot of patience, managed to trap them and get them to a vet.

tabby cat sitting on shed roof
Mum Tabitha would not be suited to living indoors. Credit: Thomas Curtis
“It took over a month to catch all three as they were incredibly skittish,” says Carole. “Thankfully the mum cat Tabitha was ok health-wise but the kittens’ eye injuries were caused by a combination of conjunctivitis and cat flu so we were pleased to have got to them when we did.

“We found a fourth feral cat who we think was the dad of the family but sadly he had to be put to sleep as he was seriously ill.”

tabby kitten with injured eye sitting on fence
Pheonix the kitten had his eye fixed up. Credit: Thomas Curtis
Two-year-old Tabitha was neutered, vaccinated and given a health check, then returned to her familiar territory where Thomas will continue to keep an eye on her and give her food.

The kittens Memphis and Pheonix were found to be around eight to 10 weeks old and were much more comfortable with human contact than their mum. After being neutered, vaccinated and microchipped, they went on to become much-loved pets with new owners.

tabby kitten sitting behind white cat food bowl
Memphis the kitten received all the care she needed. Credit: Thomas Curtis
“Though we were able to bring about a happy outcome it should be remembered that feral cats like Tabitha, Phoenix and Memphis are the offspring of stray cats or abandoned domestic cats,” says Carole.

“So if owners neuter their pet cats they can assist us to drive down the number of feral cats needing help in the future.

two tabby kittens sitting on fence
Pheonix and Memphis are now safe and cosy in loving homes. Credit: Thomas Curtis
“Bear in mind too that Cats Protection can help some owners on limited incomes with the costs of neutering their pet so we hope this adds an incentive for cat owners to do the right thing now.”

For advice on neutering and to find out if you are eligible for any financial support, please visit www.cats.org.uk/neutering


Thursday, 12 March 2020

Harley’s amazing transformation from shy cat to his owner’s shadow

When six-year-old Harley arrived at Gosport Cats Protection in January 2018, he was rarely seen by his fosterer, Heather Wood.

Her very first foster cat, he would spend his days hiding away in a cardboard cat house in his pen, only coming out at night to eat and use his litter tray.

brown cat sitting inside cardboard cat house
Harley in his cardboard cat house
Then Heather noticed that he had some problems with his mouth. “We had no choice but to put him through two major operations, removing all his teeth,” said Heather. “There were numerous vet visits which meant I had to encourage him from his house into a basket. Returning from the vets, Harley would jump out of the basket and go straight back in his house.” 

brown cat sitting at the back of a cat hide
Harley liked to hide away from people
This shy behaviour continued and Heather made sure to give him plenty of space, until all of a sudden, Harley did the unexpected.

“I took him back to the vets for a check-up and when I brought him back to the pen, instead of going back into his house, Harley jumped out the basket and rubbed round my legs! I started stroking him and there was loud purring and a lot of dribbling.

“The next evening, I went and sat in the pen and Harley came out of his house and onto my lap, drooling and purring and rubbing against me for all he was worth. I have to admit, there were tears in my eyes as I realised Harley had put his trust in me and felt more relaxed in my presence.”

brown cat sitting on wooden floor
Harley Blue in his new home
As he recovered from his operations, Heather set about finding a forever home for Harley with an owner who would give this special boy the time to settle in at his own pace.

“Helen came forward and was happy to visit Harley in the pen while he was recovering from his operations, even though he wouldn't come out of his house.”

By Easter, Harley was considered ready to rehome and Helen adopted him. She took his cardboard house with him so he would have something familiar in his new home, and she also gave him a new name, Harley Blue, to mark his new start.

Brown cat lying on spotty bed covers
Harley Blue loves following his new owner around 
“It took time and patience, but Harley Blue has come out of his shell with Helen, following her around the house and sitting on her lap. He's very content just to be with Helen, rarely visiting the garden even though he has access. He's even occasionally begun to greet visitors to her house!”

For more advice on caring for a shy cat, visit www.cats.org.uk/shy-cats or to find out how to become a Cats Protection fosterer visit www.cats.org.uk/volunteering