Friday, 29 January 2016

‘Why is my cat scared of my partner?’ and other behaviour FAQs

Do you have a question about your cat’s health or behaviour? Join our regular Facebook Q&As with feline experts, taking your live questions.

Last week Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow answered queries, some of which are highlighted below.

Question: Why is my 11-year-old cat still scared of my husband who has lived with us for seven years?! He feeds her, strokes her (when she very occasionally is brave enough to sit near him), he talks to her, and yet she still runs a mile if she thinks he's going to be anywhere near her. I'm baffled.

Answer: Bless your husband, he sounds very patient! There are a variety of things that could affect her behaviour. Many cats that are fearful of men have not been used to men during their socialisation period when they were young kittens (two to seven weeks of age). If they have only been used to women then this could explain it. Continue to let your cat be in control of all the interactions and always let her come to him. She may feel a bit more secure if he ignores her more too, eg reading a book silently to himself when she's in the room. If you wish to seek the help of a qualified behaviourist, check out www.apbc.org.uk

Tortie cat with man sitting on a sofa
Photo: CP library
Question: Why has my outdoor cat suddenly started peeing near our front door? He still goes out, isn't ill and gets along fine with the other two cats. And it isn't every day. We've tried all sorts to get him to stop.

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has started peeing near the front door. You say he's not ill, has he been to the vets to rule out medical reasons? If not, this is the first port of call and do get a urine sample tested too. Cats are masters of disguise at hiding illness! It's important to differentiate between inappropriate urination (a puddle on the floor) versus spraying (backing up to a vertical surface and spraying a small amount of urine). Each has different motivations. If it's urinating, then once you've checked your cat's health at the vets, try the following:

  • clean litter trays twice a day
  • put litter trays in quiet, private locations
  • use 3cm of soft non-scented sand-sized litter
  • use a large litter tray not kitten, covered as well as open ones for choice
  • don't use odorisers or litter tray liners

Cats sometimes spray short bursts of urine on vertical objects outside to mark territory and leave information for themselves or other cats to ‘read’. If your cat starts to spray inside the home, then it is almost certainly a sign that all is not right in their world. Trying to identify signs of stress or other factors that may cause a cat to spray can be very tricky so we'd recommend that you seek the help of a professional behaviourist (use www.apbc.org.uk).

For more information, check out these blogs posts:


All the best.

Cat standing near door
Photo by Luigi Rosa via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: My younger, more confident cat insists on pouncing on my older, nervous, diabetic cat, jumping on his back and chewing the older guy's neck whenever they're both indoors together. Both are male and neutered. We have used water spray on the young boy and told him 'NO' at the time of each incident but it's not having much effect. Any reason for the younger guy's repeated dominant behaviour? Any idea what we can do to help sort it?

Answer: It's good that both boys are already neutered. It's hard to say for sure without seeing your cats and witnessing their behaviours for myself. Depending on how young your other cat is, he may be feeling very playful and particularly with the bad weather lately, many cats can feel bored, stressed or frustrated from staying indoors more. Try giving your younger cat lots of frequent interactive play sessions with fishing rod toys to keep him occupied and burn off some excess energy. Also give your older boy some quality time with just you (when the younger cat is not around) so he too can enjoy some gentle play and fuss. Toys with feathers on the end are great for all cats but especially nervous ones. Always store the fishing rod toy out of reach after play has finished.

Having evolved from a solitary species, cats are not actually dominant with each other, it could simply be play, or perhaps they might not get along. Either way, water spraying the younger cat will only make things worse. Ensure the older cat has a quiet sanctuary room with all his resources in it to go to when he needs some peace and quiet. You may wish to get a referral to a qualified behaviourist following a vet check – have a look at www.apbc.org.uk


Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.

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 be taking questions on 4 February; Neutering Manager Jane Clements will be hosting on 18 February; and Nicky Trevorrow will be back answering behaviour questions on 3 March. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Cat crazy time explained

Thousands of us love Simon’s Cat videos – they’re funny but it’s more than that: many cat owners can relate to the frolics and everyday situations that the videos show.

But have you ever wondered why Simon’s Cat acts the way it does – and why your own cat may do some of those ‘funny’ things too?

Simon’s Cat is releasing a new series of videos called Simon’s Cat Logic in which Cats Protection’s Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow explains why cats behave in the way Simon’s Cat does. In the first video Nicky is discussing is 'Crazy time', which shows a frenzied feline having a moment of madness.

Why do cats have a ‘crazy’ five minutes?

The domestic cat shares common ancestry with the African wildcat which has a number of hunting episodes a day, whereas our pet cats have a more sedate lifestyle so need to burn off excess energy.

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 – and it’s great fun for you too!

Try playing short games of a minute or two throughout the day to mimic your cat’s natural hunting activity. Cats are crepuscular which means that they are most active during dawn and dusk (when prey is also most active) so cats naturally feel wide awake and ready to start the day in the early hours. It can be useful to have extra play sessions during these times to use up their extra energy.

Always let your cat catch and 'kill' the toy to avoid frustration and store toys safely out of reach after use.

Feline fact: Hunting behaviour is not influenced by hunger, which is why a cat will hunt even after eating. Each part of the hunting activity – the stalk, pounce, play and kill – releases feel-good hormones called endorphins.



You can find out more about why a cat may wake and disturb you through the night by reading our night time waking behaviour focus blog post.

Does your cat have a ‘crazy’ time too? Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #SimonsCatLogic.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The privilege of feline love

This post has been written by blogger Vikki Patis

In 2009, during a particularly turbulent time in my life, a friend of my mum's found herself with a litter of kittens. Her tiny cat had given birth to five balls of fluff, and, in a house with four small children and a boisterous dog, the family couldn't keep them all. They were all adorable, but I could only choose one. Nala, the girl cat who we later discovered was a boy, had the biggest eyes in a tiny face, and clawed his way up my arm during our first meeting. It was love at first sight.

A few months later, in late November, Nala came home with us. His personality soon started to shine through; he was naughty, gorgeous, and fussy with cuddles. Even now, he won't tolerate being picked up; he has to approach you, for the privilege of Nala love. But when you get it, it's always super special.

Nala cat snuggling
Nala
Not long after Nala came to live with us, my mum told me that one of his sisters didn't have a home to go to. We went back to the house to find her snuggled up with her mum and the one kitten they were keeping. I picked her up, and she snuggled straight into my arms. She looked up as if to say, "what took you so long?", and her eyes worked their magic on my mum. She came home with us, and I named her Kiara.

Despite being siblings, Nala and Kiara are so different. Kiara loves cuddles more than anything else in the world (except maybe Dreamies!), and, where Nala can be grumpy and lash out at times, she's incredibly tolerant and loving. She follows me around the house, and often spends the entire weekend curled up on my lap.

My partner and I have recently moved into our own house, and of course the kitties came with us. The only problem is, Kiara often finds it difficult to choose who to cuddle with! When we still lived separately and my partner would come to visit, Kiara would greet him at the door, and attempt to hide in his bag before he left.

Nala and Kiara
Nala and Kiara
Nala has always liked to sleep upstairs with me. Bedtime is the best time for Nala cuddles! He often tries to lead me upstairs for a nap, no matter the time of day, and doesn't quite understand why we have to go to work (although, come to think of it, neither do I!).

Getting the cats when I did really helped me through a difficult time in my life. I'll never understand the stereotypes about cats – while Nala can be typically standoffish, there's usually a reason for it, and he's also sweet and loving. And Kiara is, without doubt, the most loyal cat I've ever known. They still play like kittens (either with each other or with straws, their toy of choice!); they have daily cuddles and try to trick us into feeding them more often than they need it! Kiara will take a walk with us, bounding along beside us, never straying too far away, and Nala likes to follow us into the bathroom.

Having cats has allowed me to be brought out of myself. They've taught me about caring for others, and brought joy into my life for six years. Above all, they've taught me that love really can be unconditional. I couldn't be more grateful to them.

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

Monday, 18 January 2016

Blue Monday? Colour meow beautiful!

Once published exclusively for children, colouring books are starting to find their way from school bags onto the office desks and coffee tables of adults in pursuit of ‘mindfulness’.

Prized for its stress-busting abilities, the simplicity and repetitive nature of colouring in is said to stave off negativity and contribute to a state of inner peace.

Of course it’s long been known that having furry friends in the family yields many of the same benefits. Much like colouring in, the simple act of stroking a beloved moggy produces a similarly relaxed state-of-mind.

In fact, whether they are helping combat the crippling effects of loneliness or filling the air with the soothing sound of contented purring, cats seem to have an innate ability to alleviate anxieties in us humans (see our blog post: A purr a day will keep the blues away).

So as it’s Blue Monday, reportedly the most depressing day of the year, we thought we'd prescribe a double dose of tension relief, with a downloadable colouring page featuring a ‘clowder’ of cute cats.

Simply right-click on the image below, print it out, grab some crayons and a cuppa and scribble away those post-Christmas blues.
To enlarge, click on the image

Colour by numbers


Here are some feline-related figures to muse on while you're keeping it inside the lines.
  1. A 2008 study suggested that owning a cat can reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by over 33 per cent
  2. A total of seven different genes are thought to control the colours and markings of a cat’s coat
  3. Despite a cat's fur colour being nothing more than a genetic quirk, superstition surrounding black and black-and-white cats is thought to contribute to them taking 13 per cent longer to home

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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Pearl gets a second chance

This post has been written by Brenda Greysmith, volunteer cat fosterer at Cats Protection’s Torquay Branch

Just occasionally a Cats Protection rehoming doesn't take. This was the unfortunate situation with Pearl. As a pregnant stray, she’d come in to another fosterer in early 2015, been cared for as she gave birth to four healthy kittens. When the kittens were weaned and mum neutered she went to a new home. But unexpected things happen and her new owner’s circumstances changed, so the branch was asked if they could find another new owner.

Beautiful Pearl
Beautiful Pearl has been given a second chance at a happy home
Pearl was an adaptable soul, used to being in a pen and meeting different people, so she settled in within minutes and was soon jumping up on our laps. It can be very relaxing sitting in the garden pen in the company of a friendly cat – and she was certainly that.

As she had been chipped and neutered when previously in CP's care, there were no vet visits to schedule. And as she was so loving and laid-back, we had a few weeks of just routine feeding, cleaning up and providing company till we could find her a new home.

Then the ideal owner contacted us – a retired lady at home all day. Her cat had recently died and she missed the companionship. As soon as Pearl arrived she was playing with the cat toys, cuddling up on the sofa and in seventh heaven.

For more information on the work of the Torquay Branch of Cats Protection visit their website: www.torquay.cats.org.uk

This post was originally shared on the Torquay Branch’s blog: https://catpenblog.wordpress.com 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Keeping your cat safe in winter

For many, winter in the UK wouldn't be complete without a seasonal frost or sprinkling of snow. However if you’re enjoying serene, white vistas from the comfort of your living room and planning how you’re going to stay on your feet when you eventually emerge from the warmth of your home, consider how much greater the challenge would be if you were under a foot tall, enjoyed spending time in the great outdoors and only owned one coat, courtesy of Mother Nature.

For most of us, the problems posed by a temperature drop represent little more than an inconvenience. For cats, however, the risks can be far greater – especially if there’s ice or snow on the ground and they aren't used to their new environment.

Cat running in snow
A snowy garden can be a whole new world! Photo by Tambako The Jaguar via flickr / Creative Commons
To find out how you can keep your beloved pet safe when the temperatures plummet, check out our top tips below.
  • If your cat is experiencing icy ground for the first time, consider letting them wander in a safe, enclosed area such as a back garden to allow them to get used to their new terrain. Stay with them as they explore, just in case they have any difficulties
  • Even if you’re confident your cat is happy with their new environment, it’s a good idea to ensure they only head out during the day when temperatures are at their highest (and traffic volume/risk of road traffic accidents are at their lowest)
  • If you haven’t already done so, consider taking out pet insurance to cover the greater risk posed to your cat by the winter weather. Also, make sure they are microchipped, to increase your chances of being reunited with your cat should they go missing
  • If you have a cat flap, make sure you check it regularly to ensure it hasn’t frozen over or become blocked by snow. If your cat has an outdoor water source, make sure it doesn’t freeze – and always provide an alternative source indoors
  • It's always advisable to provide your cat with somewhere they can take refuge from the elements, whether it’s a purpose-built shelter or a sturdy cardboard box partially covered with plastic sheeting
  • Cats in search of warmth and shelter may find their way into outbuildings, garden sheds and even vehicle engine bays. Be sure to keep outbuilding doors closed (or wedged open) and check under the bonnet before setting off on a car journey. Once back in the house, ensure your cat is sufficiently protected from open fireplaces, wood stoves and heaters

Cat in shelter in the snow
Provide a place to shelter from the elements. Photo by Julie Krawczyk (German) via flickr / Creative Commons
  • When your cat does come in from the ice and snow, wipe away any substances that may be stuck to them (road grit, in particular, can irritate paws) and be sure to check their paws and ears for signs of frostbite
  • Antifreeze, which can spill from car radiators during the winter, poses a huge risk to your cat’s health. If you suspect your cat has ingested antifreeze (first signs of intoxication include the appearance of being ‘drunk’) take them straight to a vet. Read more about how to spot the signs in our advice graphic, How to recognise the symptoms of poisoning in your cat
  • If your cat is arthritic, take special care as the cold can severely affect inflamed joints. Provide additional warm, comfortable places for them to rest and ensure their favourite resting places and toileting sites are easily accessible
For more advice on looking after cats during the winter months, check out the advice graphic below and remember, if you have a question on any aspect of cat safety, you can always call our national Helpline on 03000 12 12 12 or contact us via our website.

To enlarge, click on the image

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Wednesday, 6 January 2016

‘What’s a cat’s ideal weight?’ and other feline veterinary FAQs

Want to know more about your cat’s health? Vet Vanessa Howie answered live questions from cat owners on our national Facebook page. Here’s a round-up of some of the queries she answered.

Question: My cat is two years old and a tad on the porky side apparently: 5.6kgs. What is his 'ideal' weight?

Answer: Depending on the overall size and body frame of your cat the average UK moggy is generally 4kg in weight. Using your cat's body condition score (BCS) is generally a better way of determining whether your cat is under or overweight for his frame. Check out the PFMA (Pet Food Manufacturer's Association) Cat Size-O-Meter.

Cat eating dry food
The average UK moggy is generally 4kg in weight; photo by the National Cat Adoption Centre
Question: My cat has lost her miaow, what should I do? She's eating well.

Answer: Sorry to hear that your cat has lost her miaow. This is most commonly caused by inflammation of the larynx, which includes the voice box. I'd recommend that you get her checked over by your vet to make sure it's nothing more serious than a simple cold-like infection.

Question: My cat suffers from ulcers in his ears, gets cold sores and very sore paws (sometimes bleeding). I've been told that he has an autoimmune deficiency disease. Could it be anything else?

Answer: Autoimmune skin disease known as the Pemphigus complex can cause the signs you describe in cats. Other allergic skin disease or infectious skin diseases may also cause similar signs. If not already done, I would recommend getting your cat examined by your vet, who may want to carry out further tests if appropriate to diagnose the skin condition your cat is suffering from. Our leaflet on feline skin disorders may be helpful.

Question: I got my male cat back from the vets yesterday after he was having trouble passing wee. There were no crystals in his wee when they checked it. I need to make sure he’s drinking plenty of water, so what's the best way to make him drink more?

Answer: Here are a few ideas to try and increase the amount of water your cat is consuming:
  1. Changing your cat’s diet to tinned food, or moistening dry food – talk to your vet if they have prescribed a special urinary diet before doing this
  2. Using water fountains
  3. Leaving a tap dripping
  4. Using ceramic bowls instead of plastic or metal, as these may taint the water
  5. Supplying multiple bowls or glasses of water
  6. Using distilled/bottled water or flavoured broths – check with your vet to ensure the flavouring is safe for short or long-term use
Also see our Cool for cats blog post about keeping your cats cool in the summer. The visual guide below offers some tips on ensuring your cat drinks plenty of water.

Click image to enlarge
Take a look at our leaflet on feline lower urinary tract disease for further information.

Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.

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: Nicky Trevorrow will be responding to behaviour queries on 21 January; Vet Vanessa Howie will be back on 4 February; and our Neutering Manager Jane Clements will be hosting the Q&A on 18 February. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Friday, 1 January 2016

We’ll help you hit your goals in 2016

New Year’s resolutions: We've all made them… and we've all broken them. However if you’re one of the millions of people around the world who have set goals in the last few days to improve your wellbeing, help those less fortunate or try something new in 2016, we’re here to help.

Cats Protection fundraising events provide a multitude of ways in which you can build up your fitness and enjoy fresh experiences – and, of course, by taking part in them you’re helping the thousands of cats and kittens in our care.

Run for Cats Protection in 2016
Fancy running for Cats Protection in 2016?

Running events

If your primary goal in 2016 is to get fit, the runs, races, half marathons and marathons on our running events page could be right up your street.

We have charity places in many runs, including the Royal Parks Foundation half marathon, various runs in the Great Run series including the Great North Run and the Great South Run and the sell-out Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon to name but a few. We are also taking applications now for our gold bond places in the iconic London Marathon in 2017 so please email events@cats.org.uk if you are interested in entering on our behalf.

There is plenty of time to train and raise minimum sponsorship for all of our running events, so if you are a beginner or seasoned runner we will have an event for you.

If you already have a ballot place in any UK run, race or marathon and would like to raise funds for Cats Protection, we’d love to hear from you too!

Abseil for Cats Protection
You can raise money for us in all sorts of ways

Challenge events

As the name suggests, challenge events provide unbeatable opportunities to push your boundaries and enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences including abseiling, bungee jumping and sky diving.

If you’re looking to challenge yourself for Cats Protection in 2016, drop us an email at events@cats.org.uk and we’ll do whatever we can to help you with your fundraising, as well as providing support on the day.

If you need some on-the-edge inspiration, check out the challenge events page on our website. Here you can sign up for activities including an Avon Gorge abseil in Bristol (13 March), the challenging Brecon Beacons National Park TrekFest (4-5 June) and one of the three Nightrider cycling experiences taking place in London (4-5 June), Bristol (25-26 June) and Liverpool (16-17 July) this year.

And if you’re really up for a challenge of a lifetime, you can sign up for a Himalayan trek and tiger conservation experience (October 2017) – find out more here .

Himalayas trek with Cats Protection
Join us on a four-day trek and tiger conservation project in India
Whatever you get up to, Cats Protection wish you a happy and healthy 2016 – and the best of luck with sticking to all your resolutions!