Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Why do cats hate citrus fruit?

We all know how important it is for us to get our five portions of fruit and veg a day and citrus fruits are one of the most popular fruits available. There is also something very seasonal about the smell of spices and oranges. It reminds us of winter and especially Christmas. Citrus fruits also find their way into our fruit bowls at this time of year with oranges, lemons and limes all ready to be added to a seasonal tipple. It’s also still popular to buy a few satsumas as a traditional Christmas stocking filler!

As the sweet, juicy taste of satsumas, clementines and oranges brings a welcome hit of sweetness to our palates you can be forgiven for thinking that a little segment of fruit will be enjoyed by your cat too. However, cats have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and as citrus fruits are very aromatic, what smells heavenly to us is way too over the top for cats.

This aversion can be turned to an owner’s advantage. As it is known that cats find citrus smells off-putting it is often used as an ingredient (known as citronella) in pet deterent sprays. These sprays are usually used to deter a cat from spraying in a certain area of the house and garden. The smell is just too pungent for them to want to get near to. Interestingly, for cats who have come across these sprays previously, it is likely that they will have an even stronger aversive reaction to citrus fruit than normal.

Fortunately, this natural aversion to strong, citrusy smells means that cats tend to avoid eating it. This is just as well as ingesting citrus fruits can cause cats to experience gastrointestinal discomfort, vomiting and diarrhoea. But don’t panic if your cat does sample a segment or have a lick of your fingers after you have eaten a particularly juicy orange; cats would need to consume an excessive amount to be in danger of any truly severe reactions.

For more information about what to feed your cat, visit www.cats.org.uk/diet 

Friday, 14 December 2018

Home alone or house full this Christmas?

While Christmas can be an exciting time for many, you might notice that your cat isn’t always a fan of the festivities. In fact, unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells can be unsettling for cats, so it’s no surprise that they can appear Grinch-like at this time of year.

Whether you’re leaving your cat home alone or you’ve got various visitors around to enjoy the fun, it’s important to ensure your cat is safe and happy. To ensure all is calm this Christmas, take a look at our advice.

Home alone?

If you’re visiting friends or relatives during the festive season, you might be concerned about what to do with your cat while you’re away. Cats are solo creatures, so most of them will be more than happy to spend Christmas on their own. However, you’ll still need to make sure they’re well cared for.

Choose a friend, family member or neighbour that can visit at least twice a day to ensure they are well-fed and safe. Alternatively, you could book a professional pet sitter to look after them, such as Trusted Housesitters.

Before you leave, make sure you note down everything your cat needs. You’ll need to include enough cat litter, food and medication for the time you’re away, as well as writing down your vet’s details and your emergency contact details.

To make the task easier, we’ve created a cat-sitter checklist. Download it, fill it in and stick it on your fridge – it has everything your cat-sitter needs to know.

House full?

It can be tricky to avoid having a busy house at Christmastime, especially if you have a large family. If faced with lots of noise and unfamiliar people, some cats can become stressed. You might find them exhibiting some unusual behaviour, such as:

• becoming more withdrawn or less tolerant of people
• eating or drinking less
• pacing or appearing restless
• toileting in the house
• over-grooming

If you are worried about your cat’s stress levels, there are things you can do to help reduce anxiety. Keep them calm in the midst of chaos with our five top tips.

1. Provide a hiding place somewhere quiet so they can escape the noise.
2. Offer an additional litter tray away from busy areas.
3. Use a pheromone diffuser to help calm them during stressful times.
4. Designate a special, quiet room for them where they can be left undisturbed.
5. Ask your guests not to ‘crowd’ your cat, which can make them feel threatened.

Whatever you choose to do this Christmas, remember to keep your feline friend safe and happy – it’ll make the holiday season less hassle for you too. For more advice on keeping your cat safe during this time, visit www.cats.org.uk/cats-at-christmas

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Cats Protection ‘movie star’ Kozal needs your votes!

Last year Cats Protection created a tear-jerking film telling the true story of a gorgeous ginger moggy and his search for a home in time for Christmas.

Sixteen-year-old Kozal had spent seven months at our National Cat Adoption Centre in Sussex as he kept being overlooked by adopters again and again.

Then, in December, he was finally given a home by caring cat lover Jill Cash, and settled in straight away. Now he is getting ready to spend his second festive season in his forever home and Jill has kindly sent us another update on how he is doing.

ginger cat grooming his stomach
Kozal giving his fluffy tummy a groom
She said: “The 'movie star' is doing very well as you can see from the recent photos. His tummy was bald and pink when I got him but it is now fully grown over with white fur. He enjoyed the long hot summer lounging in the garden.

ginger cat on man's lap
Kozal loves a lap and a snuggle 
“He picked up a serious tummy bug in August which took three weeks of medication, jabs and love to clear up. Since then he seems to have mellowed even more and has even got himself a little tabby 'girlfriend' that he allows to visit. He loves to sit on any lap that is available and has successfully evicted me from my armchair. I think you could say he has definitely found his forever home.”

tabby cat in garden
Kozal's new 'girlfriend'
Kozal’s Christmas film has been viewed over 900,000 times since it was first released and it could now even win an award!

Cast your vote at www.charityfilmawards.com/videos/kozals-christmas-a-festive-tale-from-cats-protection and Kozal could be shortlisted for this year’s Charity Film Awards, giving him some much-deserved recognition!

Then you can sit back, relax and enjoy this year’s Christmas film, another true story featuring 12-year-old Evie and her special bond with a cat called Genie.

If you can offer a cat a cosy home in time for Christmas, visit www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat and see the moggies ready for a home in your area.

Monday, 10 December 2018

How to train your cat to roll over

If you’ve been following our ‘How to train your cat’ series, you may have already mastered getting your moggy to sit and lie down on command.

The next step you can try is to get them to go from lying down to rolling over onto their side or back. As well as being fun for you, this training will help to keep your cat mentally stimulated and by using positive reinforcement will hopefully boost their confidence too.

black cat rolling over

To get started, you will need:
  • a physically able and confident cat (older or infirm cats may struggle) 
  • a cat that already knows how to lie down on cue 
  • a quiet room with no distractions 
  • tasty treats that don’t require a lot of chewing 
  • patience and the ability to get low to the ground 
Now you can begin training.
  1. Get your cat to lie down directly in front of you. You may find it easier to be sitting or kneeling at this stage. 
  2. Hold the treat between the very end of your index finger and thumb with your palm facing downward. 
  3. Sit in front of your cat with the treat 1-2cm away from their nose. 
  4. If you want your cat to roll to your right/their left, slowly arc the treat on a slight incline towards their right ear. If you want them to roll to your left/their right, move it towards their left ear. Your cat may have a preference or find one side easier so if they are struggling, try the other direction. Once you have found their preferred side, it’s best to stick with it. If your cat moves their head forwards to investigate the treat, this is fine. However, if they keep getting up, try a smaller movement so they are not over-stimulated. 
  5. With the treat in front of your cat’s ear, slowly move the treat diagonally towards the middle of their back. Their eyes should follow the treat so that they look over their shoulder. Often the slower you move the treat, the easier your cat will be able to follow it. 
  6. Continue to move the treat diagonally and your cat should roll over onto their side. As soon as they do this, give them some verbal praise and offer the treat. Repeat steps 1-6 until they successfully roll over every time. 

    cat rolling over on side

  7. Once they have mastered this, repeat the process using smaller hand movements, keeping the treat closer to your cat’s head. If your cat still rolls onto its side, move the treat further off to the side so that they continue to follow it and rolls onto their back. When they do, give them some verbal praise and offer the treat. 
  8. Next you can try getting them to roll all the way over onto their other side by continuing to move the treat off to the side when they are on their back. Again, repeat this process a few times, giving them verbal praise and the treat each time they get it right. 
  9. When they are happily rolling over every time, you can start to reduce the reliance on the lure of treats by only pretending to get a treat out of the bag each time. Still present your cat with your hand and use the same movements, then when they successfully roll over still give them verbal praise and a treat. 
  10. After a few successful attempts, you can start to use the hand movements without pretending to take a treat, but always give them verbal praise and a treat if they get it right. 
  11. Finally, you can try getting them to respond to a verbal cue instead of your hand signal. Keep going with the same process, but say your chosen cue word (eg ‘roll over’) one second before you make your hand movements. Eventually your cat will learn to associate the verbal cue with the action and do it before you move your hand. Remember, always give them visual praise and a treat when they do it right. 
Throughout training, try to keep sessions to a maximum of three minutes long and then give your cat a break. If you can stick to three, three-minute sessions a day, you should hopefully be able to get your cat rolling over in response to your verbal cue within seven days. However, it’s important to remember that some cats will take longer to master this than others, and some may not get it at all.

Be patient and if you find yourself getting frustrated, take a break and come back to it later. It’s important not to physically force your cat into position, as this will cause them to become stressed and could lead to behavioural or medical problems. Training should be a fun experience for both you and your cat, so always use positive reinforcement and make sure they have the choice to stop if they want to.

Have you managed to successfully train your cat to roll over on command? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

If you have any problems training your cat, take a look at our advice on the Cats Protection website or contact a qualified behaviourist.

Sunday, 9 December 2018

What do cats see when they watch TV?

If you’ve ever noticed your moggy staring at the television, seemingly captivated by what’s on the screen, you may have wondered what it is they actually see. While some cats are not bothered by the small screen, others will watch intently, particularly programmes featuring other animals.

Some studies have indicated that cats are able to identify imagery on TV, as we know that they can distinguish between outlines, patterns and textures. However, we do not know with certainty what they perceive the images to be. Cats rely much more on other senses, such as hearing and smell, to understand the world around them, so for some cats it may just be the noises they hear and fast movements that see that attract their attention towards the screen.

tabby and white cat in basket

Cats that are more active hunters may show more interest in the TV than others. If they appear to be watching the action and have their eyes open with narrow pupils and their ears and whiskers pointed forward, they could be stimulated by what's coming from the TV. However, if they are watching with dilated pupils and flatter ears, this could indicate that they are more concerned and stressed by what is on the screen, and so should be given the opportunity to run away if needed.

Why are some cats particularly interested in big cats on TV? 

All of the different species of the cat family that are around today have evolved from one common ancestor, and although our domestic moggies split from their lion and tiger cousins a long time ago they may still be able to recognise their feline outline or facial features on screen. However, even if they can identify other cats on television, the majority of cats are unlikely to feel threatened by them as they would a neighbour’s cat, because they cannot detect their scent or other cues that tell them it is a real cat. It could also be that owners are more likely to pick up on their cats watching other cats on television because of their own associations when actually their cat watches TV at other times too.

To find out more about cat behaviour, visit the Cats Protection website

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Are you an expert on keeping your cat safe in winter?

With winter well and truly underway, you might be concerned about how you can keep your cat safe at this time of year. Plummeting temperatures, darker nights and icy weather can all present a risk to cats. 

To find out if you know how to keep your cat safe and happy during the colder months, take our quiz. Focusing on everything from calming your cat during fireworks season to keeping them warm during colder spells, you can find out whether you’re a cat expert.

Don’t worry if you don’t get full marks – you’ll pick up some great top tips along the way!

Our top 10 tips for keeping your cat safe in winter

1. During cold weather, make sure your cat comes inside at night. Provide them with warm, comfortable and safe places to sleep.
2. Make sure your cat is microchipped in case they stray. That way, they can easily be traced back to your address.
3. Provide a litter tray somewhere private so that your cat doesn’t have to head out into the cold to toilet.
4. During fireworks season, keep your cat in after dark and make sure that your cat flap, windows and doors are closed so that your cat doesn’t panic and escape.
5. Screen off open fireplaces and supervise your cat if you have lit a fire.
6. Cats that are outdoors may crawl into a warm car engine to get warm – check your car before you start up your engine.
7. Avoid using anti-freeze to clear your car windscreen of ice. De-icers and screen washes use Ethylene glycol, a chemical that can prove deadly to cats if they ingest it.
8. As the evenings get darker, reduced visibility makes traffic conditions riskier for outdoor cats. If you’re worried, keep your cat inside.
9. Regularly check sheds, outhouses and garages to ensure your cat isn’t locked inside.
10. Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water indoors, in case any outside sources freeze.

For more advice on keeping your cat safe during the winter, visit www.cats.org.uk/cats-and-cold-weather

Monday, 3 December 2018

Christmas gifts for you and your cat

With a winter chill in the air and twinkling decorations already appearing in the streets, it’s time to start thinking about what to put under your Christmas tree for friends, family and felines!

If you’re stuck for ideas of what to get the cat lovers (and cats) in your life this year and then we’ve put together a handy guide of the latest moggy must-haves from our own Cats Protection online shop.

The best bit is, by shopping with us you’ll be supporting our work helping kitties across the UK, helping us to make sure they all have a very meowy Christmas and a happy Mew Year too.

Make sure you get your orders in by 10 December to make sure they arrive by the big day!

If crafting is more your thing at Christmas then we’ve also got some fantastic presents you can make for your own moggy or for the cats in our care.

Gifts for humans 

Cats Calendar 2019 - £5 

Give your loved ones a whole year of magnificent moggies with the official Cats Protection calendar, featuring gorgeous photos of some of the cats we’ve helped.

Catwalk socks - £13.50 

Everyone loves getting socks at Christmas, and this set features colourful cat designs. Purrfect for mixing and matching!

Simon’s Cat bag - £6.50 

This stylish shopper features everyone’s favourite cartoon cat and is sure to have you ‘feline good’, especially if you fill it with lots of goodies!

Cats scarf - £9.99 

The perfect accessory for your winter outfit, this soft scarf features a fashionable rose gold cat print to let everyone know felines are your favourite.

Cat cushion - £11.99 

Make sure all your visitors know which seat is reserved for the cat with this fun and functional cushion.

Cat coaster set - £7.99 

Add a splash of colour to your coffee table with these cute coasters featuring peeking cats of many shades.

Gifts for cats 

Christmas stocking - £4.99 

Get your kitty their very own Christmas stocking and fill it with fun toys that will keep them active over the festive season. 

Crinkle catnip snowman - £2.99 

If your cat goes crazy for catnip then they will have hours of fun with this happy snowman toy.

Teddy bear ears cat bed - £19.99 

Keep your cat cosy in the winter months with this soft cat bed that’s ideal for catnaps.

Scratch post - £22.99 

Help your cat keep their claws trim and mark their territory with this sturdy scratch post that’s tall enough for them to really stretch out on.

Peeking cat bowl - £8.99 

While you’re tucking in to Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, make sure your cat has their own tasty bowl of cat food.

Light up festive cat ball - £4.50 

Your kitty will be mesmerised by this fun festive toy that lights up as it moves across the floor.

Make your own cat toys 

Christmas can be an expensive time of year, so if you would like to still treat your cat but keep the costs down, why not have a go at making them a present instead. Take a look at our Feline Crafty videos on YouTube to find out how to make a cosy cat tent, fun cat toys, a super scratch post and much more using common household items!

You could even make some presents for the cats in our care to make sure they don’t feel left out at Christmas. Get in touch with your local Cats Protection to find out how you can donate your crafty creations.