Thursday, 25 August 2016

‘Which cat is spraying in my house?’ and other behaviour FAQs


In our latest live Facebook FAQ event, Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow took over our national Facebook page and answered behavioural questions from cat owners and supporters.

Don’t worry if you missed out, our feline specialists will return again soon. Have a look at the bottom of this post for upcoming dates to pop in your diary.

Here are some of the questions that Nicky answered:

Question: I have three sibling cats and have in the last three years taken on two strays, so now have a total of five cats. At first they seemed to get along ok but we now have a sprayer or sprayers. How do we find out which is the sprayer? We are at our wits’ end to know how to deal with this!

Answer: Sorry to hear that you've got cats spraying in the house. The first thing to do is to identify the sprayer/s. You can either set up a camera to spot who's doing it, or you can chat to your vet about getting some fluorescein to put in capsules. This will make the spray glow under UV light. It needs to be given to the cat that is LEAST likely to spray, and working through the group systemically (leaving a few days between changing cats) to the next one least likely to spray, until you find out who's doing it.

These cats will then need to be health-checked including a urine sample to rule out medical reasons for the behaviour. For more information about dealing with spraying check out our blog post on spraying and our leaflet Managing your cat’s behaviour.

Feline spraying behaviour
Question: I have a two-year-old rescue cat who was born prematurely and hand-reared, she is a bit small (3kg) and can't miaow or purr normally but seems very well generally. I have trained her to sit, ‘beg’ and ‘shake’ (tap my hand to get a treat), and am trying to train her not to be afraid of the vacuum cleaner. She wasn't afraid of it, but then there was an incident and now she runs away. Any advice?

Answer: Wow, what a clever kitty! She sounds lovely! Sadly, many cats are afraid of the vacuum cleaner. As long as she doesn't have any medical problems, then I would suggest trying a very gradual desensitisation programme. Start with the sound of a vacuum cleaner on your phone played really, really quietly so you can barely hear it and make sure your phone is well away from your cat but that you can see her behaviour. She should be calm and not bothered by it. If she is upset by it, then you'd need to use even more baby steps. Play the sound for a few seconds and then stop, and reward her with a small treat for calm behaviour. For more advice on the rest of a desensitisation programme, contact a qualified behaviourist who can guide you through the process tailored just for her (www.apbc.org.uk).

Question: My eight-year-old rescue cat can be really lovely but doesn't understand claws hurt! Is there any way to make him understand not to get his claws out all the time?

Answer: It depends whether he's getting his claws out when kneading his paws, whether he's a bit over the top during play or whether he's showing aggressive behaviour. If it's aggressive behaviour, then I'd recommend having him health-checked by the vet to rule out medical problems and then getting a referral to a qualified behaviourist such as an APBC member (www.apbc.org.uk). If it's play, then have a read of our blog post on inappropriate play.

Cat playing with a mouse toy
Cats can get over-excited during play
Question: I have a rescue cat with a vague history and I'm baffled as she doesn't seem to like being stroked! Any ideas?

Answer: Have you mentioned this to your vet? There could be a medical problem that causes your cat to not want to be touched. Behaviourally, being stroked is something that cats learn to like during the kitten socialisation period of two to seven weeks of age. All cats are individuals so some cats may seem to tolerate or in some cases, even appear to like be touched in some of these areas. In general cats like quite brief, low intensity interactions that are quite frequent. When cats greet each other in the same social group, it tends to be a brief head rub. Unfortunately, humans are the opposite! Our interactions are generally less frequent, but high intensity and prolonged. This is often another source of confusion.

Question: My five-year-old male Bengal cat makes a very strange meow – he only does it when he is by himself and I usually go very quickly to check what's going on and he stops. It is a very deep loud noise, it sounds more like “auuuuu auuuuuu”. I can't seem to find anything on it on Google!

Answer: If he’s making a different noise than what’s normal for him (obviously Bengals can be quite chatty at the best of times) then I would recommend trying to take a video/recording of the sound to show your vet, as well as taking your cat to the vets for health check to rule out medical reasons. Has he been neutered? There are lots of different medical conditions that can cause a change in vocalisation. Behaviourally, there could be all sorts of different reasons including attention seeking. 

Try introducing him to feeding enrichment:



For Bengals in particular, try a clean litter tray, half filled with water and pop in a few ping pong balls for a fun toy!

Question: We have a 10-year-old cat we rehomed nearly three years ago. After she has used her litter box for a number two she always wipes her bum on the carpet outside the bathroom. She is wormed and our vet has checked her glands on each visit... how can we discourage this?
Answer: Sorry to hear this and it's good that she's been to the vets. As she doesn't have any fur around her bottom area, it's likely that her tough tongue feels pretty sore on the delicate skin. I would suggest where possible, you could try and wipe her bottom for her using cotton wool pads with warm water on (while wearing gloves of course!).


Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.
Check out the behaviour section on our website for further advice: www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-behaviour-hub

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: chat with vet Sarah Elliott on 1 September; Neutering Manager Jane Clements on 22 September; and Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 29 September. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A tragic tale leads to a happy ending

Last month a lady called Sian posted a heart-breaking note on our national Facebook page about her mum’s cat, Pepper who had fallen into an open water butt and drowned.

We shared the post to encourage fellow cat lovers to ensure their own water butts are covered to stop the same thing happening. There was a real outpouring of support with lots of people offering their condolences.

Warning about the safety of water butts

Sian saw the supportive messages and told her mum, Marion, who then came onto our page to read them. While she was on our page, she spotted an appeal for a Tiggy, a five-year-old black cat who needed a home. It was love at first sight!

“My mum, a little bit of a Facebook dinosaur, came onto the page to see all the lovely comments from our post,” says Sian.

“In doing so, she spotted that a day or two before, you had shared a plea for a cat called Tiggy from the Macclesfield Branch whom she contacted and, well, the rest is history!

Tiggy being hugged by her new owner Marion

 “Mum says: ‘My lovely new furry baby. Thanks Anita and Cats Protection Macclesfield for letting us adopt her. Tiggy is settling in wonderfully and has picked her spot on the settee already xx’

“Thanks for sharing our Pepper's story, and also for uniting my mum with Tiggy.

“From Sian, Cats Protection Crawley xx”

Tiggy has picked her spot on the sofa

If you’re interested in adopting a cat, you can search using our Find-a-cat tool at www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat

Friday, 19 August 2016

Simon's Cat feeding time

Have you checked out the Simon’s Cat Logic series of videos? Creator Simon Tofield and Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow team up to talk about one of the Simon’s Cat videos and explain why cats do what they do.

In the latest video in the series, they’re exploring Simon’s Cat’s behaviour in the video ‘Feed me!’ telling us about feeding habits and getting your cat to work for its food!



Simon explains: “Feeding and getting fed is such an important thing in a cat’s life that I had to do a film about it. The film catches a lot of the little mannerisms that cats do when they’re getting fed, getting under your feet, they get in the way, they’re so impatient to be fed that there’s loads of comic value there.”

Nicky says: “Some cats are so clever that they can make associations between particular noises and the association of food. One particular cat knew the sound of tuna. If the owner had lots of other tins that were larger tins they’d make a different sound on the worktop compared to the tuna tin that makes a different lighter sound.

“Many owners wonder why their cats jump on the kitchen worktops, it’s often because that’s where we prepare the cat’s food, that’s why the cat is so interested. Equally we might have other things on our worktop such as a cooked chicken that’s just too tempting for that cat.

“I’d recommend preparing the cat’s food in a different location, perhaps even on the floor close to the cat’s food bowl to stop them jumping up on the kitchen worktops.”

Simon talks about his cat Jess who has taken to jumping on the counter for food. “This happened after I’d made the film so it was like seeing my film come into life which is very strange.”

If you want to learn more about cat behaviour, check out our free e-learning guide: Understanding Feline Origins.

Does your cat go into a feeding frenzy? Tell us on Twitter @catsprotection and use the hashtag #SimonsCatLogic

Thursday, 11 August 2016

A gift from heaven

This post has been written by our Anglia Coastal Branch

Angel came into our care after her owner had to move away for work and couldn’t take her with her. She was in our care for quite a while. A vet check showed she was healthy but she didn’t like being stroked for long and would suddenly lash out when she was feeling anxious. For that reason we wanted to home her to a family without children.

We were so pleased when she was eventually taken on by a couple called Linda and Russell. They had previously been looking after a feral cat, which naturally they hadn’t been able to touch but provided food for the cat. So Linda contacted us after deciding to try and rehome a ‘challenging’ cat! She explained that she wanted to give another cat the same chance as the feral cat she had been looking after.

Angel enjoying her new garden
Angel relaxing in her new garden
Linda spotted Angel on our website and decided to give her a loving environment but where she didn’t feel the pressure of being a family cat. She explained to us that Angel would have access to the outhouse with her own cat flap, bed and all other resources she needed.

When they adopted Angel home and took her home – and, being aware she needed to be kept in for a while to adjust to her new surroundings – they was amazed when Angel instantly took to Linda's husband, Russell! They sent me some photos of Angel happily cuddled up on his lap!

Anxious white cat Angel found a new home
Angel enjoying Russell's company
Angel happy with her new family
Angel at home with her new owner Russell
They discovered that with lots of stimulation with her cat toys,* she became less likely to lash out at them. This is because mental stimulation is a great stress reliever. Although Linda was the one who fed her etc, she still preferred Russell!

It just goes to show how a dedicated cat owner can really transform the lives of some of the most difficult cats!


Veterinary note: It’s great to hear that with a little patience and sensitivity, Linda and Russell were able to help Angel to overcome her anxiety. Some cats are naturally more anxious than others, but timid behaviour can also be caused by a lack of contact with humans, especially during the socialisation period (during their first eight weeks of life) or a previous frightening experience that has made the cat fearful.

*Small toys you can gently throw, such as balls of foil, scrunched up paper or ping pong balls are great to start with – and fishing rod toys with feathers at the end allow the cat to interact without them feeling threatened by close contact. It helps to form positive associations with the owner and over time create a bond between them.

Find out more about nervous or aggressive cats in our Managing your cat’s behaviour leaflet.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Raja enjoys his new home

This post has been written by new cat owner Rachel 

Hello, I just wanted to send you a message to say thank you. We adopted gorgeous Raja last August and he's settled in so well. Our bond with him gets stronger every day as we find out more about each other.

Lovely cat Raja enjoying his new home

He was a little afraid at first and would lash out. Now he knows that we are here to love and care for him, he's a big softy. He loves to ‘help’ me in the garden, playing with my prunings and climbing around. He's bought a lot of joy to our lives. As I'm writing this, I'm having a lie-in with him curled up next to me.

Black-and-white cat Raja in his garden

Thank you team Chelwood Gate for our big bear. Keep up the good work!

Rachel, Liam and Raja


This post has been written by a guest blogger. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Cats Protection.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Behind the scenes at the National Cat Awards

A room full of cat lovers, bright lights and flashing cameras, tears of laughter and joy… it can only mean one thing – the return of Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards. Sponsored by Purina®, the awards celebrate the extraordinary tales of survival, companionship and bravery in the cat world.

National Cat Awards backstage
The beautiful table decorations and feline-themed props
National Cat Awards at The Savoy, London
Guests arriving at The Savoy, London
It was a wonderful day that saw Tink, who raised the alarm as a fire engulfed her family home, being crowned National Cat of the Year. Tink was first chosen as the winner of the Hero Cat category by celebrity judge, actress Anita Dobson, before being chosen as overall winner by a panel of former celebrity judges.

Anita said: “Tink’s story stood out because it really tugged on my heartstrings, particularly the part where she passed out and had to be resuscitated by firefighters. She is a true hero!”

Anita Dobson at the National Cat Awards
Anita Dobson, judge of the Hero Cat category
Celebrity judges at the National Cat Awards
Rick Wakeman, Saffron Sprackling and Paul Copley with Tink's owner Claire Hopkinson
Tink beat four other finalists to take the top prize – Houdini who helps an autistic schoolboy cope with anxiety, Jessie who gave her owners a reason to carry on after the death of their teenage daughter, Spike who helps his owner cope when a rare illness left her paralysed and Smokie who helped a teenage boy come to terms with the death of his stepfather.

There was also a Special Recognition Award for a rescue cat from Dundee who helped her owner overcome serious mental health issues.

The event was held at the prestigious Savoy Hotel in London and welcomed a number of celebrities including our host BBC announcer and “voice of the balls” Alan Dedicoat as well as musician Rick Wakeman, actor Paul Copley and writer and broadcaster Andrew Collins.

National Cat Awards at The Savoy Hotel
The Ballroom of The Savoy Hotel
National Cat Awards guests
Guests pose with Tweetybooth props
Tink's owners at the National Cat Awards
National Cat of the Year Tink's owners, Claire and Russell Hopkinson
Presenter Tim Vincent was our roaming reporter for the day, taking us backstage through Facebook live videos, interviewing finalists, celebrities and our Chief Executive Peter Hepburn.



We also had a ‘Tweetybooth’ which was a photobooth set up in the ceremony adorned with feline-themed props that linked to users’ Twitter accounts. It definitely proved popular and had queues of people waiting to have a go throughout the day!

Tim Vincent with Peter Hepburn
Tim Vincent chatting to Cats Protection's Chief Executive Peter Hepburn
National Cat Awards 2016 winners and judges
All the happy winners and judges
It was a brilliant day and I think it’s fair to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Here’s to the next awards!

All photos by Philippa Gedge Photography

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Volunteers raise a staggering £40,000 for their local branch

Two dedicated Cats Protection volunteers and supporters have raised a huge £40,000 for their local branch by running car boot sales over 13 years.

Jacquie and David Lowe adopted two cats from the Milton Keynes Branch in 2003 and then decided they wanted to help the charity a little more.

CP supporters raise £40k by car boot sales
The branch gave the couple a cat sculpture to say thank you for their fantastic achievement
“We have always loved doing and visiting car boot sales and knew there were so many cats that needed help,” says Jacqui. “We noticed other charity stalls, but nothing for cats, so we attended a committee meeting to put our ideas forward.

“We generally do car boots from approximately March through to about October, as outside these times, it does get too dark and cold. We try to keep up the fundraising during the winter by selling items on Facebook and Gumtree.”

She goes on to explain that they even look for opportunities when they are on holiday.

“We have not had a holiday for ourselves for 14 years now, but all we care about is raising as much as possible for cats that desperately need our help.”

As a token of their appreciation, the branch gave the couple a cat sculpture to mark the achievement.

Branch Co-ordinator Aimee Purnell says: “Jacquie and Dave are remarkable people. Their dedication and commitment to raise such a staggering amount of money is unquestionable. They have helped so many cats and kittens receive life-saving treatment, the best care possible and starting them off on the right food to their wonderful new homes.

“The awards and gifts were the committee’s way of saying a massive thank you to the pair for the hours of work they give to the branch. They get up at all hours to visit car boots and when they are not doing that they are selling items on social media and other selling websites.

“Saying thank you really isn't enough for this special couple. The branch, me and more importantly the cats and kittens are incredibly lucky to have them.”