Tuesday, 29 December 2015

'Why is my cat making that noise?' and other behaviour FAQs

In the most recent Facebook Q and A, Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow tackled your questions on feeding habits, bedtime routines and grooming. Read some of her answers here.

Question: My cat always sleeps in my bed, but recently she’s been using bed time as play time. She’s always been really cuddly and can’t wait to get under the covers but for the last few weeks, she’s been knocking my glasses onto the floor and searching for ‘other toys’ like jewellery. Is there any way to get her to stop these little acts of naughtiness?

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has been up to mischief at night time! Cats are naturally crepuscular – meaning they are more active during dawn and dusk. Try giving her several short interactive play sessions during the day using a fishing rod toy (store safely out of reach after use) to use up that excess energy. Give her some special ‘night time’ toys such as soft little ball that are quiet to bat, but also glow in the dark to keep her entertained.

Tortie cat sleeping
Photo by Ella Mullins via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: How can I stop my cats deciding that they want their breakfast between 1.30 and 2.00am, no matter how late I give them their tea? They are then quite happy to wait until 18.00-19.00 for their evening meal!

Answer: I think many owners will identify with this problem! You’d think that the dark mornings would have made more of a difference! Try providing your cat with feeding enrichment toys at night. These are things that provide food in other ways compared to a standard food bowl and require them to use their brain! Start off simply with a cardboard egg box and put a portion of your cat’s daily allowance of dry food in there (if they are fed dry food) and show your cat how to ‘paw’ out the biscuits with your fingers.  You can check out more of our boredom busters on YouTube.

Cat looking hungry
Photo by Kevin N Murphy via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My 18 year old keeps drinking lots of water and is very unbalanced when she walks or shakes. Please help!

Answer:  Cats are more likely to develop certain conditions when they are older and it’s worth taking your cat to the vets more regularly in their senior years to keep an eye on their health. Many practices offer ‘senior cat’ health clinics. Drinking more water, being unbalanced and shaking are all symptoms of possible various medical issues. Contact your vet without delay.

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.

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 session: CP Vet Vanessa Howie will be answering veterinary questions on 31 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Festive cat
Original photo by Brian Fagan via flickr / Creative Commons
We'd like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Thank you to all of our supporters, volunteers and staff for everything you've done through 2015. Your support allows us to help around 200,000 cats and kittens every year.

Here’s to 2016!

Cats Protection xx

Monday, 21 December 2015

A new start for Poppy

Little Poppy was just 14 weeks old when she was signed over to the Gosport Town Branch of Cats Protection. Her owner couldn’t cope with looking after Poppy or her mum, four-year-old Josie.

Poppy was tiny – she was taken straight to the vets for a health check. She was underweight, dirty, infested with fleas and worms and had scabby fur with sore patches on her legs.

Tiny 14-week-old Poppy
Poppy was tiny when she came into our care
With ongoing care from her fosterer Chris, Poppy’s weight had increased to over 500 grams a week later, though her fur was still missing in places. She continued to be weighed regularly and had weekly vet checks because she needed to be monitored carefully. Aside from the fleas, the vet felt Poppy’s skin complaint was due to a poor diet.

After two weeks in CP care Poppy’s weight had doubled. The branch said she looked a picture of health and her confidence was coming on in leaps and bounds.

Kitten Poppy on the scales
Poppy at 1kg
Fosterer Chris said: “Poppy loves to have a 'mad' half an hour in the evenings, racing around and climbing before she snuggles up my shoulder where she feels safe and content. Poppy is doing so well but still has a long way to go until she will be ready for adoption. Her weight now as a four- or five-month-old kitten is still only comparable to an eight-week-old kitten.”

Slowly but surely Poppy progressed and gained weight. She was separated from her mum, so that mum Josie could have a quieter time and rebuild her strength. The vet’s opinion is that Josie has had litter after litter of kittens.

The branch said: “Coming into CP care has given Poppy the chance to find a new home. She now looks and acts like any other young kitten!”

Mum Josie is doing well and has now been adopted by a new owner, while Poppy should be ready for adoption early in the New Year.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Get crafty for cats this Christmas

We all enjoy receiving thoughtful, lovingly-crafted gifts at Christmas time.

So with the big day fast approaching, how about making the moggy in your life a present they will enjoy – or donating it to one of the thousands of cats that will be spending the festive season in our care?

There are loads of handmade designs to choose from, and you don’t have to be nifty with the knitting needles to create something that will be enjoyed by your furry friend.

You could make a Captain Cat-Battler toy for your mog
You could make a Captain Cat-Battler toy for your mog

For those who do like to knit, toys and blankets are always high up on our list for cats’ Christmas present l. One of their favourites is the catnip-powered ‘Captain Cat-Battler’ mouse toy, originally designed by Lauren O’Farrell (www.whodunnknit.com) for Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Our cats have been waging war against these little guys for years now and, while they inevitably emerge victorious from scuffling with their squeaky foes, they are always on the lookout for more woolly rodent challengers.

Click here to download the Captain Cat-Battler pattern.

Cat playing with Captain Cat-Battler toy

If you’re not a knitter, there are a variety of elegant and fun designs that don’t require special skills to construct. In fact our Ferndown Homing Centre produces its very own Catnip Knots, which require absolutely no sewing or knitting.

To make your own catnip toy, at the price of just the catnip, you could fill an old clean unused sock. Just pop catnip inside the sock then tie it at the end and give to your cat to play away! You can refill with any catnip insert you like – organic or varying strengths of catnip, for example.

Whichever design you go for, you can be sure you will be making a cat very happy – and if you do decide to donate any of your creations to Cats Protection, we can promise you they will be welcomed with open paws!

To donate your crafty creations to us, all you need to do is send them to, or drop them off at, your nearest Cats Protection adoption centre (to find out where that is, simply head to the find us page on our website and type your full postcode into the box.

For more homemade toy ideas, read our previous blog posts: Boredom busters for your cat  and Feeding enrichment puzzles for your cat.

Please note that if you are knitting a toy or blanket for a feline friend, it’s best to avoid the use of stretchy yarns or small plastic items – such as those that can be used for mouse eyes – to reduce the risk of inadvertent injury/ingestion. Loose-weave blanket patterns involving the use of large needles are also best avoided. Any knitted toys should be avoided for cats known to be wool-chewers. Please supervise play with your cat and don’t leave your cat unattended with toys which could be shredded and eaten or cause entanglement. Check toys regularly for signs of wear, replacing when appropriate.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

‘Will neutering calm my kitten down?’ and other neutering FAQs

Want to know more about neutering your cat? Have a read of this blog post which contains some of the answers provided by Cats Protection’s Neutering Manager Jane Clements in our recent neutering Q&A.

Question: I have three cats – the oldest two are neutered but the youngest isn't. He’s not like the other two, he climbs the curtains and runs riot. Will having him ‘done’ calm him down a little? They are all indoor cats.

Answer: It sounds like he is just exhibiting normal kitten behaviour at the moment! Neutering will certainly prevent him from displaying mating behaviours and he will grow out of his kitten behaviours in time.

Our neutering poster outlines some of the other benefits of neutering:

To enlarge, click on the image
See this leaflet for some ideas on stimulation for indoor cats: Indoor and outdoor cats

Question: I have a stray tom who I think has adopted us which is lovely. He needs to be neutered but I don't want to upset him. What do you think?

Answer: Firstly it will be important that you check he is a stray by advertising locally for any owners who may come forward – take him to a vet to check for a microchip, advertise in local shops, social media etc. Do contact your local Cats Protection branch too (obtain contact details here). This article contains more tips about what to do if you find a stray cat. If no-one comes forward and you would like to give him a home after two weeks of looking for an owner, it certainly won't upset him to get him neutered. You can find out more in our Neutering leaflet.

Neutering FAQs
Kittens can breed from four months old; photo by Susan Dobbs
Question: How old do kittens have to be to get pregnant? I want to neuter mine before this happens, she is nearly five months old now.

Answer: Kittens can reach puberty at four months of age and we would recommend neutering once she reaches this age. You can find a vet near you who will neuter from four months using our Kitten Neutering Vet Database.

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.

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 session: Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow will be answering questions on 17 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Monday, 14 December 2015

London to Paris cycle challenge for Cats Protection

From 20-24 July 2016, veterinary surgeon Francisco Gomez, Cats Protection supporter Wayne Gregory and Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre Manager Kev Owen will be taking on the 295 mile London to Paris cycle challenge. 

Francisco made the mistake of once saying in front of Kev that he would like to do a hard challenge to help raise funds.  As soon as the London to Paris challenge was announced Kev set about talking Francisco into taking part.  To be fair to Francisco, he not only readily agreed to take part, he immediately upped the ante by adding an extra 500km to the challenge! 

Francisco decided that 295miles (500km) was not enough of a challenge, so he came up with the #letourdefran challenge which entails riding several stages (Tour De France style) before the trio even sets off for Paris. 

Soon after Francisco signed up, Adoption Centre Manager Kev’s training partner Wayne Gregory decided that if he was going to be riding several hundreds of miles helping Kev to train, he might as well do the challenge too. 

Fran, Wayne and Kev will be cycling 295 miles for Cats Protection
Fran, Wayne and Kev will be cycling 295 miles for Cats Protection
Both Kev and Wayne are cycling to raise funds for Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre, while Francisco has pledged to cycle for three charities: Guide Dogs, Medical Detection Dogs and Cats Protection Nottingham Adoption Centre.  The three charities will all receive an equal share from Francisco’s efforts.

Between them, Francisco, Wayne and Kev hope to raise over £6,000 for the three charities – and have already raised over £4,000!  

The three of them have a combined age of over 133 years so they hope that their supporters will forgive them for not riding up the Champs Elysées to the Arc de Triomphe quite as quickly as their Tour De France heroes.

The progress of #letourdefran can be followed at: www.thegovet.org/letourdefran

If you’d like to donate, you can sponsor Francisco here or Kev and Wayne here (Kev and Wayne are raising funds as a joint effort for Nottingham Adoption Centre).

Friday, 11 December 2015

Petplan lends a hand at our new Mitcham Homing Centre

In July employees from our partner Petplan and the wider Allianz community kindly spent the day helping prepare our new Mitcham Homing Centre for its grand opening.  This was an opportunity for staff from their different offices to meet and work together assisting the set-up of the innovative homing centre (read more about the opening of the centre here).
“I thought it was a great day away from the usual office routine, utilising different skills, working with different colleagues and where you got a sense that your efforts made a real-time difference in the run up to the opening of their new cat homing centre in Mitcham. A really worthwhile and life-affirming day for me.” - Cathy Cutler
On the day the volunteers were split into two groups. One group helped the staff at the centre get the pens ready for the arrival of some cats arriving at lunchtime. This involved cleaning the pen area, setting up beds, food and water bowls and litter trays.
“I really enjoyed our productive day; cleaning, hoovering, setting up leaflet racks, removing packing waste for recycling but lots of hands made light work. It was an amazing insight into the amount of effort and dedication it takes to maintain high quality cleanliness and support in an animal homing centre. The staff manage a perfect balance of professionalism and real affection for the cats in their care. When I was in touch with the centre more recently, I was delighted to hear that 20 cats were homed in the first month. I like to think it was the 20 who were there from the start.” - Julie Gallagher
The second group helped centre staff start building a row of shelving units for the store room. This is a vital area for the centre as it stores all the cat food, cat litter, toys etc. Other volunteers were preparing the reception area with leaflets and cleaning the windows. The support on the day was a great help. Even after leaving the centre the volunteers were still helping as they kindly posted leaflets in the local area to help promote the new centre!
“I thought the day was very rewarding. It was great how we all worked as a team to build the shelving unit and get the cat beds ready for the arrival of lots of cute fluffy cats which we got to pet at the end of the day.” - Michelle Williamson
Petplan team at Cats Protection
L-R: Mandy Halls, Commercial Woking, Manuela Georgieva, Finance Woking and Michelle Williamson, Commercial GHO
A big thank you to the employees from Petplan and Allianz for dedicating their time helping to get our new Mitcham Homing Centre ready for launch.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Support cats with our first unique boutique

Christmas Day is edging ever closer and it's time to start thinking about gifts for your loved ones. If you're the kind of person that leaves your present-buying to the last minute or you're seeking something special, you're in luck.

Cats Protection's first concept shop, Cattitude, launches in Bewdley in Worcestershire this December. Promising a unique selection of ladies' clothing and accessories, the boutique presents the ideal opportunity to purchase fantastic fashion items and great gifts, with all the money spent in-store going directly to help cats and kittens across the country. What's more, Manager Dawn Harvey and her team will be offering customers a personalised shopping experience - perfect if you're looking for a unique gift this Christmas!

Poster for Cattitude boutique store in Bewdley

Deputy Store Manager Yvonne Dawson said: "We are very excited to be the first Cattitude shop in the country. This is a great place for people to buy their loved ones some high quality, fantastic gifts at great prices, especially if, like me, they leave their shopping to the last minute."

For those with a passion for felines and fashion, there's also the opportunity to volunteer in the flagship charity shop. From window dressing and visual merchandising to stock selection and providing customer service, there are plenty of roles available for anyone looking to gain new skills, meet new people and help cats in the process. If you're looking to spare as little as a few hours a week, head along to Cattitude's volunteer recruitment session on Thursday 3 December from 12.30-3pm at St George's Hall, Bewley to find out more.

The boutique will be officially opened at 10am on 18 December, where the first 50 lucky shoppers will receive goody bags. Cattitude's opening hours will be 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. If Cattitude is successful, there is hope that more charity boutiques will open in 2016. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Giving Tuesday: how you can help us

After its arrival in the UK last year, #GivingTuesday is back, providing a chance for us all to take a break from the stresses and strains of Christmas preparations and offer our time, money and voices to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

We’re really grateful to everyone who went out of their way to help Cats Protection last time around. For those who want to get involved this year, here’s a reminder of the many ways in which you can help us:

1. Fundraising

Our work helping thousands of cats each year depends solely on donations. We have between 5,000 and 6,000 cats in our care at any one time across the UK which is why fundraising is so important to the charity as it enables us to help the many cats that need our support. Every cat that comes into our care is given a health check, vaccinations and all CP cats which are old enough are neutered prior to being rehomed, which costs us an average of £180 per cat. Cats stay with us for as long as it takes to find them loving new homes and we never put a healthy cat to sleep.

There are many ways that you can help us with our work. You can sponsor a cat pen, leave a gift in your will, make regular donations through your pay (deducted from your pay before tax is taken), sign up to our weekly lottery, donate items to our charity shops and so much more – read all the different ways you can fundraise on our Support us page.

You can also now donate to us quickly and easily via your mobile phone by texting CATS1 to 70907 to make a one-off £3 donation (see the terms and conditions).

Skydive for Cats Protection
Why not do a sponsored challenge like a skydive for Cats Protection?
We welcome more unconventional ways of raising funds too – in the past our supporters have adopted their inner wild cat and faced their fears by abseiling, zip wiring, skydiving and much more. For 2016 and beyond we are very pleased to offer a huge portfolio of challenge events and have something to appeal to everyone, from mountain treks in the UK to volunteering with a tiger conservation project in India, you can run, jump, fly, climb, cycle or even swim to show your support to Cats Protection! Visit our Events page for a full list.

2. Volunteering

When people think about voluntary work at Cats Protection, many automatically picture roles such as fosterers and fundraisers. As vital as these responsibilities are, however, there are loads more ways for people to donate their time and skills.

Whether your expertise lies in administration, education, retail, PR, or something completely different, there are often ways you can help us out. What’s more, with many roles capable of being fitted around busy lives and some able to be performed from home, volunteering for Cats Protection need not be a big commitment.

As well as generating a huge sense of satisfaction and being a lot of fun, it also allows people to pick up a range of new skills. Twenty-two-year-old broadcasting, journalism and media communications student Indi Leigh began helping out in our Wrexham Charity Shop last summer, before becoming a fundraiser for the Wrexham & District Branch:
“Beginning with general shop work, using the till and tagging clothes, I started getting involved in the fashion shows that Sharon, the shop manager, put together. This gave me great experience in marketing and events co-ordination, the career I am trying to pursue. Now I am organising my first event, a Christmas Extravaganza, on behalf of Cats Protection. Volunteering with them is honestly one of the best things I have ever done.”
Cats Protection volunteer at the Llangollen fairy festival
Volunteer Indi running a CP stall at the Llangollen fairy festival 
The work we do simply wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of volunteers like Indi. To discover all the ways in which you can help us, visit the Ways to volunteer page on our website. To search for roles currently being advertised, use our Volunteer opportunities search tool.

3. Raising awareness

Cats Protection was set up in 1927 to inform and educate the general public about cats and the issues they faced, and this is still at the heart of what we do.

We try to spread the word about cat welfare whenever and wherever we can, through national and regional press, via television and radio, and on our website and social media channels. We also regularly address schoolchildren, community groups and veterinary professionals and engage with politicians and other decision makers.

However there are always more people to reach, and there are many ways you can help us reach them, including:

  • subscribing to this blog and our official supporter magazine, The Cat
  • liking us on Facebook 
  • retweeting tweets from our Twitter page
  • subscribing to our YouTube channel and sharing our videos

Cats Protection national Facebook page
Join our 341,000 fans and like our Facebook page
It’s simple acts of support like this that helped make our recent National Black Cat Day such a success and contributed to tackling the inequalities experienced by black cats waiting for new homes.

National Black Cat Day in numbers

  • Our ‘Black Cats: 5 Common Misconceptions’ YouTube video reached 3.8 million people
  • #BlackCatDay trended on Twitter on the day itself with over 47,000 mentions
  • The Black Cat Champion competition on Facebook received around 2,500 entries
  • The day saw a significant spike in new ‘Likes’ and ‘Follows’ for our social media pages

Whatever you can do to help us, whether it’s fundraising, volunteering our sharing our message with others, you can be sure you’re making a difference.

To discover even more ways you can help Cats Protection, head to the Get involved page on our website.

Meanwhile, why not leave a comment below to tell us what you plan to do for Cats Protection this #GivingTuesday?

Thursday, 26 November 2015

All in a day’s work

This post has been written by Myra Allison, Publicity Volunteer at Cats Protection’s Wrexham & District Adoption Centre

The shop is often the first point of contact for any charity and in the Wrexham Cats Protection Charity Shop we aim to give a friendly and warm welcome to our customers, encouraging them to return to the shop, to purchase goods that help fund the Wrexham & District Adoption Centre.

The longest serving volunteer in the Wrexham Charity Shop (15 years!) is Delia Jackson. This popular lady is always very helpful to customers and is known for going that extra mile to find items customers ask for, to which she says “it’s all in a day’s work for Cats Protection”.

Shop volunteers going above and beyond
Long serving volunteer Delia Jackson
It was not surprising then, when a letter was sent to the shop by a grateful customer thanking Delia for her help. This letter told the story of a customer who came into the shop when Delia was working, and asked if she could sit down as she felt unwell.

Delia, chair to the ready, made the customer comfortable and she soon began to feel better. After a cup of tea and before leaving the shop, Delia offered to take the customer’s blood pressure with a blood pressure machine she’d been checking that had just been donated to sell.

The customer’s blood pressure reading was very high on this machine, Delia didn’t tell her how why so not to worry her, but advised the lady to visit her doctor and have her blood pressure checked. The customer left the shop with her purchases, feeling better and thanking Delia for her kindness and care.

A few weeks passed by and then a letter was sent to the Shop Manager Sharon Jones, thanking Delia so much for looking after her and her good advice. The customer did go to her doctor and is now taking tablets to control her high blood pressure, which she was previously not aware of.

Delia said: “We always try to help whoever comes into our shop in whatever way we can, so it was all in a day’s work for Cats Protection”.

Well done Delia, another very satisfied customer who was pleased that she came into the Wrexham Cats Protection Charity Shop that day in more ways than one.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Feline first aid FAQs

Want to brush up on your feline first aid? Have a read of this blog post, summarising some of Cats Protection vet Vanessa Howie’s answers to our recent live first aid Q&A on Facebook.

Question: With winter coming, what are the key symptoms of antifreeze poisoning to watch out for and can we do anything to stop the damage before the animal has to be put to sleep?

Answer: Antifreeze poisoning usually leads to kidney failure. The signs to look out for include increased urination, increased drinking, vomiting, depression, lethargy (being abnormally sleepy), appearing drunk and uncoordinated, seizures (fitting), abnormally fast heartbeat and very fast, shallow breathing. If antifreeze poisoning is suspected, the sooner that you can get your cat to the vet to be put on intravenous fluids to try and help the kidneys, the better the chances of survival. Unfortunately if left untreated cats will suffer and die.

Please take a look at our poster on common poisonings:

To enlarge, click on the image
There’s more information in our blog post: How to recognise the symptoms of cat poisoning.

Question: My cat has a small cut on his head, should I leave it uncovered or cover it with something?

Answer: I would recommend that you get your cat checked out by the vet if you are worried about the cut. Usually in cats we tend to leave small wounds such as those seen from fighting or cat bite abscesses open. This allows them to drain and makes it easier for you to keep the wound clean. Cats don't tend to tolerate having a dressing on their head all that well either!

Question: My cat has recently developed a very snotty nose and a watery eye. Can you suggest what may be the cause? She seems fine in herself.

Answer: I would recommend that you get your cat checked over by the vet if you have not already done so. A snotty nose indicates that there is an infection of some sort and your cat may require antibiotics. Your cat may have cat flu or if your cat has had cat flu in the past, it may be that that this has caused some damage in the nose and has allowed an infection to set up. Discharge from the eyes and nose are commonly seen in cats that have or have had cat flu. Please have a look at our leaflet on cat flu too. There may be other less common causes such as polyps or tumours in the nose which will cause similar signs.

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.

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: Neutering Manager Jane Clements will answer questions on 3 December; and behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow will be offering advice on 17 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Ringo is a star!

Beautiful little Ringo Kitten was very poorly when she came into the care of Cats Protection’s Dereham Adoption Centre, along with her six siblings at seven weeks old.

She was very thin, lethargic and covered in ringworm. Sam at the adoption centre says: “The ringworm spores were the most I've seen on a cat let alone small kittens.”

Tabby kitten Ringo
Photo: CP Library
After extensive treatment and isolated care she was finally given the all clear at six months of age.

The centre says: “She is all fit and well and has grown up so much. She is very affectionate and loves to play, all she wants now is a loving home to enjoy the rest of her days.”

We’re very pleased to report that on 3 October she went to a new home!

Beautiful tabby kitten Ringo
Photo: CP Library
Ringo Kitten is just one of the many thousands of cats and kittens we help every year. To find out more about Cats Protection and our work, visit www.cats.org.uk

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Lost cat – what to do if your cat goes missing

If your cat hasn’t come home, don’t panic! Cats will often go ‘missing’ only to arrive home later that evening – or in some cases months later – as though nothing has happened!

Follow the advice in this guide:

To enlarge, click on the image

Thoroughly check every nook and cranny of your house and any outdoor buildings such as garages and sheds. Let your neighbours know and ask them to do the same.

Create flyers and posters including a good description of your cat, the gender, age, colour, eye colour and any distinguishing features they may have. Include a photo and a phone number. Distribute them around the local area. You can download a free template at: www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-care-downloads

Post details of your missing cat on cat-related social media pages and groups too, like the national Cats Protection Facebook page. Pages relevant to your area are even better as locals can keep their eyes peeled. Post photos on your own social media profiles too to notify all your friends.

Contact local vets – all practices in the area, not just your own.

If your cat is microchipped, inform Petlog and they will automatically send out an alert to animal professionals (who have signed up for the service) within a 30 mile radius of where your cat went missing.

Check local rescues to see if your cat has been handed in. Find your local Cats Protection’s contact details by entering your postcode at www.cats.org.uk/find-us

Keep your cat safe. Ensure they’re vaccinated, neutered and microchipped to protect them if they do wander away from home.

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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

‘Why won’t my cat sleep in his bed?’ and other behaviour FAQs

In the most recent Facebook Q&A, Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow answered questions about feline sleeping places, kitten socialisation, feeding habits and more. Read some of her answers here:

Question: Do you have any tips on getting my cat to sleep in his bed? He used to sleep there but now won't. We shut three cats in at night all in the kitchen, dining and living room. There should be enough room for them all. One is currently sleeping on the top of the kitchen cabinets, another on one of the sofas but my boy doesn't seem to want to sleep anywhere cosy. At the moment he's perched on a cushion on a dining chair. It looks like he's going to fall off at any moment... and yet there is a comfy bed next to the chair! Any hints?

Answer: Cats do have a habit of choosing places to sleep that we wouldn't think were that comfortable! One thing many people don't realise is that cats like to rotate their sleeping place. This goes back to African wildcat behaviour where they also rotate their sleeping place, we think, as a way of reducing external parasites. In general, cats like to sleep up high and somewhere warm. It sounds like he's happy to sleep on the dining room chair, so I wouldn't worry too much. If he changes his sleeping habits, eg sleeping more or less than usual, consult your vet for more advice. Check out our free behaviour course for more info on sleeping behaviour - www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/e-learning-ufo-care

Cat sleeping on top of printer
Cats do sleep in strange places! Photo by Daviddje via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: We have had our cat for a month and she was very nervous when she came to us. She is feeling at home now and is happy to accept a fuss from me and will sit on my lap and loves attention. However, when my partner tries to give her a fuss, she runs away. If my partner slowly and gently tries to 'join in' when I am making a fuss of her she will still run away. Any thoughts?

Answer: Often it can come down to what socialisation to people she received during the kitten socialisation period of two-seven weeks of age. I would suggest that initially your partner ignores her and simply sits quietly on the floor nearby reading a book (to therefore avoid eye contact with the cat) while you are fussing her. This will help your cat to see your partner as non-threatening from her perspective. Also try getting your partner to feed your cat so she forms positive associations with them. If you have any problems then we'd recommend a referral to a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (APBC). Best of luck.

Question: Our rescue cat that we've had for five months keeps jumping on the worktop and pinching bread (and cake if there is any!). At first we noticed he was hiding it and going back to it to eat but now he may have just a nibble and leave it. He was a stray from Cats Protection so we don't know any history. He is quite a big cat, he’s neutered and about 18 months old. He gets fed a pouch of meat in the morning, a small amount of biscuits mid-afternoon then another pouch of meat at about 10pm. Any ideas why he does this?

Answer: Sorry to hear you've got a food thief! While it could be his stray background, I would recommend getting him health checked by a vet to rule out medical reasons for the behaviour. It would be worth chatting to your vet about your cat's diet. For example, a satiety diet where the cat feels full and has a larger amount for the same calories as a light diet could be considered. Also think about introducing feeding enrichment so he gets to use his fabulous brain in a more productive way! Check out our boredom busters and feeding enrichment puzzles. Good luck!

Cat sitting on kitchen counter
A satiety diet helps manage hunger between meals. Photo by drew_anywhere via flickr / Creative Commons

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.

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: Vet Vanessa Howie will answer veterinary questions on 18 November; Neutering Manager Jane Clements will host the Q&A on 3 December; and behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow returns on 17 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Friday, 6 November 2015

“Does neutering stop spraying?” and other neutering FAQs

Would you like to know more about neutering? Cats Protection’s Neutering Manager Jane Clements recently took to our Facebook page to answer questions on neutering and you can read some of the queries she answered below:

Question: Do male cats still spray after they have been neutered?

Answer: Neutering can help to alleviate behaviours such as this; however it isn't a guaranteed solution on its own. Speak to your vet about neutering and the behaviour he is showing in case there are other reasons for this.

White and tortie kitten
Neutered males are less likely to spray smelly urine; photo by Susan Dobbs
Question: My male cat was neutered at four months. He still tries to mount my female cat and any cuddly toys that are about. Why is he doing this?

Answer: It can take at least four weeks for the sperm to leave the system following neutering. If it’s been longer since neutering, take your cat to the vets for a health check, discussing the humping behaviour, as your vet may wish to check the penile spines have reduced or perform a blood test to check testosterone levels. If the vet feels the problem is behavioural, then we would recommend getting a referral to a qualified behaviourist (www.apbc.org.uk) as there are a number of different underlying reasons that can cause this behaviour.

Question: Is it morally right to deny a cat the joys of motherhood/fatherhood?

Answer: Mating behaviour in cats is purely a biological hormonal response. They aren't aware that this will lead to a litter of kittens from a female’s perspective and tom cats do not get involved with parenting the litter anyway. It is a myth that a cat should be allowed to have one litter. However, cats do enjoy the freedom of being able to go outside and play – being neutered allows them to do this, giving them freedom from the biological need to mate and the risk of contracting infectious diseases. Read more in our cat neutering leaflet.

Cats don't need 'just one litter' before being spayed; photo by Susan Dobbs
Question: I’m having a male kitten neutered tomorrow, is it likely to change his behaviour much? He is a very playful friendly chap usually.

Answer: It shouldn't change his playful character at all! Neutering will stop him from showing mating behaviours and roaming, making him happier to sit by the fire with you.

If you require neutering advice, our Neutering leaflet answers some of the most common questions. If you would like to enquire about neutering vouchers, please call our neutering line on 03000 12 12 12 option 2), Monday-Friday, 9.30am-1pm.

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.

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: Behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow will be chatting on 5 November; CP vet Vanessa Howie will answer veterinary questions on 18 November; and Neutering Manager Jane Clements will be back on 3 December. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Friday, 30 October 2015

A bright Spark

Poor Sparky turned up as a stray at local stables. The owner of the stables could see there was something wrong with his mouth but it was 10 days before she could catch him and alert her local Cats Protection, the North Ayrshire Branch.

Black cat Sparky with broken jaw
Poor Sparky was found with a broken jaw
The branch took Sparky straight to the vets where he was found to have a badly broken jaw. He was unable to eat food or lap liquids so he was absolutely starving and filthy as he hadn't been able to groom himself.

We never put a healthy cat to sleep so he went in for surgery the next day. It was a success, he was then was able to eat again and put some weight on. Sparky became a very loving and alert boy, always ready to purr and play. He's only about eight months old so he's a real live wire!

Sparky has settled well in his new home and is much loved.

Black cat Sparky
Sparky is settled in his new home
To find cats needing homes near you, use our find-a-cat search at www.cats.org.uk

This story was first published in The Cat magazine, Autumn 2015

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Can you offer an unwanted black cat a home?

We have between 5,000-6,000 cats and kittens in our care at any one time and sadly black cats are often left behind, spending a week longer waiting for a new family to adopt them.

Just one of those cats currently looking for a home is three-year-old Fluffy, pictured below, who is in the care of our Tenterden & District Branch. He’s a handsome boy who came from a former breeding home. He is a very sociable and confident cat, and would be perfectly suited for a family household.  If you live in the area and think you can offer Fluffy a loving home then please call the branch on 01797 366 379.

Black cat Fluffy needs a home
Boots, previously a stray, is now waiting patiently to be adopted at our North Ayrshire Branch. Volunteers haven't been able to trace her previous owners. She has a lovely friendly nature, is only about a year old, and would make a great family pet. Boots would like access to the outdoors once she's settled in and she is easy to care for, so would be perfectly fine for people that are new to looking after cats. If you live in the North Ayrshire area and think you can offer Boots a loving home then please call the branch/centre on 0345 371 4218.

Boots is looking for a home
One-year-old Frizzle, pictured below, arrived at CP’s Hemel Hempstead & Berkhamsted Branch with her siblings and very young mother, who have now all been rehomed. She has taken a while to gain her confidence but has progressed significantly since her arrival. Frizzle is quite feisty-minded, and would need to be given the time to relax and come out of herself – it will not happen overnight, but the rewards will be numerous. She would be quite able to cope in a household with children and other cats, but ideally not babies or toddlers. If you live in the Hemel Hempstead and Berkhamsted area and would be interested in meeting Frizzle please ring 0345 371 1851.

Black cat Frizzle needs a home
To see other cats in need of homes in your area, please visit www.cats.org.uk

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Long-stay cat Panjo finds a new family

When three-and-a-half-year-old Panjo was found living in a shed in July 2014, she was in a terrible condition – her skin was sore and weepy all over her body. She was taken in to Cats Protection’s Exeter Axhayes Adoption Centre where she had extensive medical care including a skin biopsy and numerous different medications to try to calm her skin down. She began eating hypoallergenic food and taking on-going medication which helped.

Panjo's sore legs
Poor Panjo's skin was very sore when she came into our care
“We got her to the point where she was looking really good and found her a new home,” says Adoption Centre Manager, Mark Magee. “She left the centre in February 2015, but sadly after four weeks she went out and was missing for about three weeks. Those three weeks she went without any of her medication. When the owners finally found her she was in a terrible state again and they returned her to the centre. We had to start all over again.”

Beautiful Panjo in her pen
Beautiful Panjo in her pen
Panjo with a moggy massager arch
Panjo enjoying a moggy massager arch!
Despite her troubles, a new course of medication helped Panjo to make a great recovery and a couple came into the centre and fell in love with her. After being the adoption centre’s longest staying resident, she was adopted on 23 September 2015.

“We saw a picture of Panjo on Facebook,” says her new owner Anna. “She looked lovely and we thought we could give her a good home.”

Panjo being handed over to new owners
Cat Care Assistant Christie handing over Panjo to her new owners
Mark says: “She has had a bit of rough time over the last year so hopefully this is a new beginning for her. We wish her a very happy future and are sure she will be loved very much by this lovely couple who have just returned from honeymoon. We look forward to seeing more pictures of her enjoying home comforts after spending more than a year in the centre. A big thank you to them for giving her a home.”

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Black cats: five common misconceptions

People think black cats look bad in selfies, that they're boring or bad luck. They’re all total myths! But black cats in Cats Protection’s care do take 13 per cent longer to be adopted than other colours.

To celebrate monochrome cats on National Black Cat Day, we've created this fun video busting the myths about black cats.

Share this video with your friends to dispel some black cat misconceptions!

Find out more about how you can support National Black Cat Day and have a look at all of the beautiful black cats currently available for rehoming near you at www.cats.org.uk/find-a-cat

Monday, 26 October 2015

Bigging up black cats

Cats Protection’s annual celebration of black and black-and-white cats is back on Tuesday 27 October 2015 to encourage the adoption of monochrome moggies.

Black cats in CP care are often overlooked by potential adopters and take on average a week longer to find a new home than their more colourful counterparts.

Our recent research shows that the myth that black cats are unlucky seems to be taking hold with the younger generation who perhaps are being influenced by American attitudes. A notable 12 per cent of those surveyed aged 18 to 24 stated that they think black cats are unlucky, while only two per cent of those aged over 55 agreed with this view.

Gemma Smith, Social Media Manager at Cats Protection says: “Black and black-and-white cats are just as deserving of a loving home as any other colour so we’d urge people to give them a chance and not just walk past their pen in an adoption centre. They’re just as funny, sweet and wonderful as any other cat.”

To celebrate we ran a Black Cat Champion competition on our national social media accounts which invited our supporters to share their black cat photos and stories. The competition is now closed but the winner will be announced tomorrow on Black Cat Day!

Here’s how you can support our campaign:

Black Cat Day Champion 2014
Photo by More Than Paws

Pictured above is Bobby, the beautiful Black Cat Day Champion of 2014, who sadly passed away due to suspected poisoning earlier this year. Bobby won the hearts of our supporters, with his competition entry receiving nearly 1,000 Facebook likes.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Behaviour focus: when cats attack

In this week’s behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why cats can suddenly attack.

Sometimes when I fuss my cat they seem to be enjoying it then suddenly attack me! Why? 

Many people experience this with their cats and find it very confusing or upsetting as the cat appears to have asked for a fuss, only to then find that the cat shows ‘random’ aggressive behaviour. As we’ve seen in previous behaviour focus blog posts, cats don’t behave randomly or do things out of the blue, even if we can’t see a logical explanation. We need to look at things from the cat’s perspective, which can be very different to our own.

Person stroking ginger cat
Photo by Adam Heath via flickr / Creative Commons
To be stroked by a human is not a natural behaviour for a cat to accept (they learn interactions with people during the kitten socialisation period) and some cats are more naturally reactive than others. This can also be directly related to the amount of human interaction the cat has had during the key sensitive period of two to seven weeks of age. The more positive interaction carried out during this time, the more likely the kitten will be well adjusted to everyday life and human interactions.

Your cat may need to be able to feel more secure with physical attention. Sit quietly with them when you won't be interrupted and keep very calm. Keep interactions very short and stop before the cat reacts. Some cats don’t appreciate long cuddles and lots of stroking, and would prefer to spend time playing and running around so games and play are a better way of spending time with these kinds of cats than cuddles. Try not to provoke a reaction – stop stroking when you notice twitching or backwards-facing ears, dilated pupils or sudden tensing. Reward the cat with a tiny titbit and praise for behaving in a relaxed way and then leave them alone. Never punish the cat, including verbal and physical punishment – this will only encourage further aggressive behaviour, especially if the cat has an underlying anxiety.

Hand stroking head of tabby cat
Photo by Michael Broad via flickr / Creative Commons

Sensitive areas

As with any behavioural change, it is crucial to rule out medical problems, especially pain. Remember that cats are the masters of disguise when they are in pain so it can be really tricky to tell. If your vet says your cat doesn’t have any medical reasons that would cause him or her to be aggressive while being picked up or stroked, then here are a few behavioural tips with interacting with cats.

Cats can get quite stimulated or excited when they are playing or in ‘hunting mode’, and it is generally not advisable to touch any cat in this state. Even when touching a calm, relaxed cat, there are many places on the body that are quite vulnerable or sensitive and as a general rule, many cats don’t like to be touched in these places. The vulnerable or sensitive areas include:

  1. Belly (which for some cats can include their sides and chest too)
  2. Paws
  3. Under legs (ie armpits)
  4. Legs (‘trousers’ or back legs)
  5. Stroking the fur against the normal direction
  6. Bottom half of back (particularly if stiff or painful)
  7. Base of tail (cats are divided on this area though!)
  8. Genital area

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. However, as a general rule, cats don’t tend to be like being touched in these areas. It is a common misconception that cats that roll on to their backs and expose their belly want it to be touched. This behaviour is often seen after a period of separation and is used as a greeting. When cats do this they are communicating that they feel relaxed in the person’s presence, enough to expose such a vulnerable area. The best way to address this behaviour is to verbally acknowledge the cat’s greeting, which is all the cat needs. For a cat that is resting on the floor with their belly exposed, if someone really wanted to stroke the cat, I would recommend only stroking the head, or if you know the cat well, you may be able to stroke their neck and back too. 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.

In this video, I talk a bit more about this:

If the cat has bitten or scratched anyone, where the bite or scratch breaks the skin or causes bleeding, then medical advice should be sought without delay. A course of antibiotics may be required. It is important to immediately clean the site whether the skin has been broken or not:

  • Clean the area for at least five minutes with a soapy solution under a free-flowing tap
  • Gently clean around the wound with a brush or cloth but do not scrub as this will cause bruising
  • Cover the wound with a loose dressing to prevent further contamination
  • Once the wound has been cleaned, apply pressure to stop the bleeding

Even if the skin is unbroken, if the person experiences fever or headaches, together with localised swelling, redness, and pain soon after the bite, then medical advice should be sought urgently.

If you are experiencing a behavioural problem with your cat, then firstly get your cat health checked by your vet and then get a referral to a qualified behaviourist such as the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Why we celebrate black cats

Next week, on 27 October is National Black Cat Day, Cats Protection’s official annual celebration of black and black-and-white cats.

Our Social Media Manager, Gemma Smith has been interviewed by website Days of the Year, which brings together all of the world’s weird, funny, wonderful and bizarre holidays under one roof.

Gemma Smith, Social Media Manager at Cats Protection
Gemma Smith, Social Media Manager

Read her interview about why we organise National Black Cat Day here.

Find out more about this year’s event and how you can support it on our website: www.cats.org.uk/black-cats

Friday, 16 October 2015

Behaviour focus: inappropriate play

In this week’s behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why a cat may show misdirected predatory play behaviour.

Why does my cat attack people’s legs when they walk past? 

If you've read any of my other behaviour focus blog posts in this series, you've probably guessed what the first thing I'm going say is! It doesn't matter what the behaviour problem is or what change in behaviour you've noticed in your cat, the first port of call is always the vets to rule out medical problems. This is vital as behaviour measures can be useless or even dangerously mask the problem if medical conditions are not addressed. As always, describe the behaviours you are seeing and in what context, rather than being tempted to explain why the cat is showing the behaviour. For example, does the cat grab people’s leg with their paws and/or are they biting? If the cat is biting, what pressure does the cat use and is it breaking the skin? What facial expressions and body postures does the cat show before, during and after going for someone’s legs? It is really easy to miss these signs and many people feel that this behaviour is out of blue, random or unprovoked.

If there’s just one thing you take away from this post (other than the importance of getting a vet check and qualified behaviourist to help), it is that cats are not random. Everything happens for a reason. It is just that it is not usually obvious what that is! So look out for the position of your cat’s ears and whether their pupils are constricted or dilated. These all help to piece together the underlying emotional state of the cat and point towards the underlying reason/s for the behaviour. It is really useful to keep a diary to document everything to look for patterns in context and behaviour.

Ginger cat playing with mouse toy
Image by Exeter Adoption Centre
A common problem that many people experience is inappropriate play behaviour. One of the reasons it is so frequently seen is that so many people play with kittens in particular using their fingers and toes as part of a game. While it may seem fun while the kitten is young, the appeal quickly wears off as the kitten grows into an adult and becomes more painful. This is in effect a learned response whereby a kitten or young cat learns that this is a good way of interacting with people. During normal development, kittens start to develop social play with each other at four weeks of age, as a way of practising hunting behaviours. Between five to six weeks of age, kittens will show hiding and searching behaviours that are directed either at another kitten or an object in their environment. Direct object play starts a little later and is particularly noticeable during seven-eight weeks of age. To start with, this is directed to all sorts of objects; but as they develop, their mothers provide opportunities to direct their behaviour towards appropriate prey items. Object play helps kittens to develop their eye-paw coordination. At this age, it also develops their balance and coordination as they become more mobile. Social play, including chasing behaviour, continues until it peaks at approximately 12-14 weeks.

Cat playing with feather toy
Photo: CP library
Often this type of predatory aggression appears as ‘ambushing’ where the cat lies in wait, ready to attack as soon as someone walks by. To avoid this, don’t encourage your cat to play with your hair, fingers or toes. For a cat already showing misdirected predatory play behaviour, identify the common places that the cat uses as a launch pad for the predatory attacks and block these areas off. Ensure all members of the household wear thick clothing, particularly covering the ankles, legs and arms. These can gradually be weaned off over time as the cat learns to direct their behaviour to more appropriate play items. Feet can be protected by wearing thick boots indoors. If the cat tries to pounce on them, try to keep perfectly still and very quiet, so there is nothing exciting for them to chase. Also avoid picking the cat up when in this playful state. Where possible, get another person to distract the cat with a toy, so you can escape. Provide a variety of toys, such as ping pong balls and fishing rod toys to direct this behaviour towards – although remember don’t leave the cat unsupervised with toys which might be shredded and/or eaten.

Feline predatory play with feather toy
Photo: CP library
Cats showing this type of behaviour often don’t have many other things to do in their environment. They must be provided with lots of appropriate things to attack as this provides great mental stimulation and physical exercise – there are many suitable toys available. It is particularly important to allow the cat to regularly ‘catch and attack’ the toy to help prevent frustration and release happy hormones – endorphins. Time should be spent playing with the kitten or cat but the games should be distant from the body – for example, using ‘fishing rod’ type toys. Rotate the toys often to keep the games interesting. Keep your cat amused with toys like these, climbing towers or activity centres. They can be bought or made – a cardboard box with holes cut into it or a ball of tin foil can be perfectly adequate.

Cats are frequently attracted to high pitched toys and the hunting instinct is often triggered by movement, so toys that move such as fishing rod toys with feathers are a useful way to provide pet cats with this outlet, as well as great fun for you too. Short games of a minute or two throughout the day are best to mimic the cat’s natural hunting activity. Cats are generally most active during dawn and dusk (as this is normally when their prey is most active), so it can be useful to have extra play sessions during these times to use up that extra energy. Cats in the wild spend a lot of their time on short, frequent hunting expeditions. In comparison, our domestic cats are given food bowls, so a meal doesn't take long to eat and doesn't make use of their great senses. Create interest at meal times by hiding food around the house for your cat to search out, make a pyramid out of cardboard toilet roll tubes and hide food in the tubes, or use a puzzle ball.

Inappropriate play behaviour is just one of the many possibilities to explain this type of behaviour and often it could be a combination of factors. If you are experiencing a problem with your cat, please get a referral from your vet to a suitably qualified behaviourist such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (www.apbc.org.uk).

Monday, 12 October 2015

‘Why is my cat urinating so often?’ and other veterinary FAQs

Does your cat suffer with urinary problems? Our recent veterinary Q&A on Facebook focused on urinary problems such as cystitis and kidney disease. CP vet, Vanessa Howie answered supporters’ questions on this topic, which are summarised below:

Question: Our cat is 15 years old. We took her to the vet to be treated for cystitis recently and since then she has been drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating an awful lot. Any advice?

Answer: I would definitely recommend that you take your cat back to the vets for a follow up examination. In older cats it's more usual for cystitis to be caused by a bacterial infection. Conditions such as kidney disease or diabetes which tend to cause a cat to drink more and hence have more dilute urine can make older cats more prone to bacterial cystitis. Your vet will be able to run tests to rule out concurrent disease if they feel it is necessary. Our leaflet on urinary problems may be helpful: Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Cat with water bowl
Photo by jahofker via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My cat always used to have 'accidents' on our old leather sofa. We have moved home and she never did it in our old flat, we now however have new sofas which are leather but with throws on. Any idea why she would do that? She was depressed and now the old sofa has gone she is back to her normal self!

Answer: There may be a number of reasons why your cat urinated on your old sofa. Finding out why she was depressed may help you to understand why she urinated on the sofa. Take a look at our recent blog post, Behaviour focus: litter trays which may give you some answers.

Question: My cat Daisy suffered from cystitis and was treated by the vet. While she was poorly we put out a litter tray for her to use indoors when she was shut in at night but now she has recovered she continues to use it. How can we train her to go outside to go to the toilet again? Thank you.

Answer: Although you may prefer not to have a litter tray indoors, you may find that Daisy is more comfortable toileting inside. Cystitis is often caused by stress and it is important to try and minimise stress for your cat. Providing a 'safe' toilet area in your garden, with Daisy's preferred cat litter or a soft sand/soil may encourage her to go outside. The following leaflet gives some ideas on encouraging your cat to toilet outside: Indoor and outdoor cats. Our recent litter tray visual guide also offers advice on litter trays.

Question: My cat is 10 and she has kidney disease. She’s on a special diet prescribed by my vet. She has had two tests to see how it's going over the last two years and each time I have been told to keep her on the same diet. I love my cat dearly but this time when I went to the vets I declined having the same test repeated. She appears fine in herself and eats and drinks – the vet told me she would advise me to have the test repeated but I simply cannot afford it. I also do not have insurance as I took her on and it was a pre-existing condition so not covered anyway. As I said I love my cat with all my heart but I would like advice as to whether I'm doing the right thing with choosing to not go ahead with further tests or treatment. I would hate her to be in any discomfort and just want to know what happens as the kidney disease progresses. Thank you.

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat is suffering from kidney disease. The blood tests that are carried out tend to monitor the progression of the kidney disease by looking at the levels of Urea, Creatinine and Phosphorous in your cat's blood. Unfortunately these levels do not give any information on prognosis but merely whether the disease is getting better or worse. The signs that your cat is showing will also be a good indicator for you as to whether the disease is getting worse. Look out for how much she drinks and urinates along with any sickness or changes to her appetite. Keeping her on the prescribed diet is the most important factor. Please take a look at our leaflet on feline kidney disease.

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.

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: Neutering Manager Jane Clements will answer questions on 19 October; feline behaviourist Nicky Trevorrow will host on 5 November; while CP vet Vanessa Howie will return to answer veterinary questions on 18 November. All our Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!