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
Fluffy
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
Boots
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
Frizzle
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!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Behaviour focus: hiding

In this week’s behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why a cat may hide more frequently.

My cat has recently started hiding more. I’ve tried to reassure her but it doesn’t seem to help.

It is important to ensure that there are no medical reasons that could be causing this behaviour, especially as this is a recent change. Cats are very subtle in their behaviour when something is wrong and it is very easy to overlook an increase in hiding behaviour. This stems from also being a prey animal as well as a predator so they try to hide signs of vulnerability. Discuss the change in your cat’s behaviour with your vet as they will have access to their medical history. Hiding behaviour could just be one sign and it is possible that your cat could have a number of behavioural and/or medical problems. If the vet has ruled out medical reasons then there could be a number of behavioural reasons that could cause a change in your cat’s behaviour. The best way to identify the underlying cause is to get a referral from your vet to a qualified behaviourist such as a member of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors (www.apbc.org.uk).

Cat hiding on shelf
Cats are likely to get up high if they feel stressed. Photo by Napolean_70 via flickr / Creative Commons
In the meantime, general measures that you can take to help your cat feel safe include providing your cat with lots of opportunities to hide and get up high to elevated perches. Try not to disturb cats when they are hiding. You can easily provide extra hiding places by placing lots of cardboard boxes around the house.

Cats can hide more frequently for all kinds of reasons. A common reason is stress caused by the presence of other cats. If your cat is worried about another cat in the garden, then check the cat’s entry and exit points. You may not even notice another cat as they can be very sneaky! They could even be entering the house without you realising. If you have an ordinary cat flap, it is an open invitation for other cats in the neighbourhood to grab an extra meal. Protect your cat’s territory with a microchip cat flap that reads your cat’s unique microchip number and will only let your cat back into the house. Alternatively, you could try a magnetic cat flap, whereby the cat wears the accompanying magnet on a quick release collar.

Scared cat looking out window
This cat is being vigilant for other cats in the neighbourhood. Photo by Eric Walli via flickr / Creative Commons
Think about additional ways that other cats could gain access to the house too. Be careful to keep doors and windows shut. You may need to block your cat flap with a solid panel on the inside and outside of the flap. This helps to give a clear message to both the resident cat and the intruder that the house is secure. In the absence of free access, you will need to be the door monitor for your cat and often the bodyguard in the garden to protect them from other cats.

Cats that are feeling threatened by other cats will often spend a lot of time being vigilant at windows and cat flaps. It can therefore help to cover the windows, at cat height (don’t live in the dark!), with something opaque so your cat can’t see other cats.

 Cats Protection's Feline Fort® is designed to minimise stress. Photo by Bridgend Adoption Centre
Many owners try to cuddle or fuss their cat to try and reassure them. While this is a natural thing to want to do as it would often reassure fellow humans, cats are very different to us. They would prefer to run away, get up high and hide, and research indicates that by doing these things, cats’ stress levels will reduce. It may seem unnatural or even unkind to us, but the best way to help your cat is to provide plenty of hiding places, escape routes and elevated perches and, most importantly, let them hide.

For more information, check out our leaflet Managing your cat’s behaviour and the free Cats Protection online behaviour course: http://learnonline.cats.org.uk/ufo

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

New home for abattoir cat

Ten-month-old Priscilla was found by a volunteer at our Atherton & Wigan Branch while she was living at an abattoir. Sadly she managed to get her leg caught in some machinery resulting in the loss of her paw, so she was rushed straight to a vet. Her leg needed to be amputated.

Despite her difficult start to life, Priscilla has recovered from her ordeal and has a lovely new home where she’s settled well!

Abattoir cat finds a new home

Beautiful tortie Priscilla

Friday, 2 October 2015

Behaviour focus: social groups

In this week’s behaviour focus post, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains how to recognise feline social groups.

My cats are very close – they’re good friends but every now and then one attacks the other. Why is this? 

Firstly it is worth ascertaining whether the cats are fighting or play fighting and whether they were in the same social group to start with. It can be very hard to tell with cats as they have not evolved the complex facial muscles to show a wide variety of facial expressions. Cats struggle with each other too as they don’t have much in the way of appeasement signals to smooth things over.

Signs of cats being the same social group
  • Mutual grooming (known as allogrooming)
  • Mutual rubbing (known as allorubbing)
  • Sleeping together touching, often with interlocking paws
  • Choosing to spend a lot of time in close proximity
  • Greeting one another with a tail up, touching noses
  • Play fighting with each other
  • Communal nursing of young (more commonly seen in related female cats in feral colonies)
You may not necessarily see all of these signs in your cats. Generally if you see the top three signs, your cats are likely to be in the same social group. The absence of social behaviours could mean that your cats are just tolerating each other.

Intertwined kittens
Kittens having a play fight! Photo by Martin Dewhurst
Signs of cats NOT being in the same social group
  • Time sharing resources such as a favourite sofa. One cat may use it in the morning and the other cat may use it in the afternoon
  • Emotionally blocking access to resources. One cat may look too anxious to approach unless the other cat is not around. Cat flaps and litter trays commonly get blocked by cats
  • Living in separate areas of the house. One cat may live predominantly upstairs, while the other mostly lives downstairs
  • Recurrent stress related illnesses, such as cystitis, over-grooming and skin conditions
  • Behaviour problems like inappropriate toileting, spraying and aggressive behaviour
Many owners feel that their cats are friends if they do not see any fighting or hissing. However, fighting is a last resort for cats. They would much rather avoid conflict by avoiding one another. If you are regularly seeing any of the negative behaviours, then your cats are likely to be foes.

It can be hard to identify play fighting, especially in adult cats. Many people think cats are play fighting when in fact they are actually fighting and vice versa. Play fighting is often silent, the claws are sheathed, the cats generally take it in turns and it looks like a bit of a rough and tumble. Compare this now with real fighting whereby the fur is really flying, cats are more likely to vocalise such as hissing, spitting and growling, the claws are out, there may be a lot of posturing beforehand (to try and avoid overt aggressive behaviour) and it may occur in particular ‘hot spots’ of the house where the space is narrow so it is difficult for the cats to avoid each other.

This video shows a cat and kitten play fighting:



If you feel that your cats are fighting one another, then it could be that one or both of the cats have a medical problem. While it is tempting to think that a cat looks fine and doesn't seem in pain, remember that cats are the masters of disguise! Talk about the change in the behaviour of your cats to your vet.

If your vet feels that it is behavioural, then there are a wide variety of possible causes. The key to resolving it is to identify the underlying cause for your specific cats. Getting a referral to a qualified behaviourist, such as the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors is the best way and do get it sorted out sooner rather than later. Just wishing the cats would get along, or leaving them to ‘sort it out themselves’ is not going to resolve the problem and it could even get worse if behaviour measures are not put in place. Equally, do not be tempted to tell off the cat that appears to be starting the fights. Things may not be as they seem and again it is likely to make things worse.

Allorubbing cats
These cats are allorubbing or mutual rubbing; photo by Gemma Lovegrove
Cats are territorial and therefore are not great at sharing. Reduce conflict by providing plenty of resources in different areas of the home. Ideally, the golden rule is one resource per cat plus one extra as a spare.

In each space, provide each cat with the following essential resources:

  • food and water (cats like to drink away from where they eat, so place the food and water bowls in separate areas)
  • somewhere to hide, such as a cardboard box on its side or under the bed
  • somewhere to get up high to view surrounds in safety (on top of a wardrobe, shelves, window sills, stools) and this creates extra territory
  • somewhere to sleep (igloo beds, cardboard box, blankets in elevated places)
  • toys
  • a scratch post (try placing near to where the cat sleeps as cats often like to stretch and scratch after they wake up)
  • litter tray (place this away from food and water)
  • multiple entry and exit points so cats can’t block the only cat flap in the house

To learn more about cat social groups, check out our Friends or foes animation video and the Cats Protection leaflet – Cats living together.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

On the prowl for a Black Cat Champion

Is your monochrome moggy utterly brilliant?

Cats Protection's National ‪Black Cat Day‬ 2015 is on 27 October and we’re once again on the prowl for this year’s Black Cat Champion in our brand new competition.

Win a prize for your monochrome moggy

To enter, visit our national Facebook page and post a photo and description of your rescue black or black-and-white feline in the comments below our pinned post. We’ll shortlist our favourites and then open the vote to the public - before announcing our new champion on National Black Cat Day itself.

The winner will receive lots of cat-themed goodies for them and their cat - good luck!

Here are the full terms and conditions.