Thursday, 18 October 2018

How to train your cat to lie down on command

In our last cat-training guide we showed you how to teach your cat to sit on command. If you and your moggy have mastered this challenge, you can now move on to the next stage – teaching them to lie down on cue.

While most cats spend a lot of their time lying down when sleeping (cats sleep for 16 hours a day on average!) it can be useful to get them to occasionally lie down when they’re awake too, eg to make grooming them easier.

ginger kitten lying down
Training them to lie down on cue can also provide them with mental stimulation as by giving them positive reinforcement, you can make it an enjoyable experience for them and improve their confidence.

Here we are going to teach you how to train your cat to lie down using a lure, eg treats.

To get started, you will need:
  • a physically able and confident cat (older or infirm cats might struggle) that already known how to sit on command
  • a quiet room with no distractions
  • some tasty treats that don’t require a lot of chewing
  • a bit of patience
Now you can begin training:
  1. Get your cat into a sitting position directly in front of you using the training techniques you learned previously.
  2. Hold a cat treat between the very end of your index finger and thumb with your palm facing upward.
  3. Stand in front of your cat with the treat 1-2cm away from their nose (some cats may prefer it if you sit or kneel so they are not being leant over).
  4. Slowly lower the treat towards the ground in front of them. They should then follow it with their gaze and look down.
  5. Once the treat is just above the ground, start to slowly move it towards you/away from them. If they follow the treat with their gaze they should naturally lower their front legs until they are lying down. It may take them a few seconds to figure this out so hold the treat in position if they don’t lie down straight away.
  6. As soon as your cat is lying down, say ‘yes’ and give them the treat. If your cat is good at following treats, throw the treat a short distance from them so they move and naturally reset their position ready to start again. If not, do not worry, hand feed your cat then move yourself so they stand up and you can restart the process.
  7. If your cat is comfortable with this process, repeat steps 1-6 a couple of times so they learn that lying down will get them a treat.

  8. white cat lying down

  9. Once your cat has mastered this, you can start to reduce the reliance on treats. Put your hand into the treat bag/bowl but don’t actually take one out. Still present your hand to your cat in the same way you did before and repeat the actions. If your cat lies down, say ‘yes’ and then get them a treat – you always need to reward them in some way.
  10. When this technique is working reliably, you can then present your hand without pretending to get a treat beforehand. Hopefully your cat will still lie down in response to your hand movement alone, but make sure you still follow it up by saying ‘yes’ and then giving them a treat.
  11. Now you can start to reduce your hand movement to a simple flick of the wrist. Do this gradually, increasing the distance between your hand and the floor each time you repeat the actions. Eventually you should be able to just hold your hand out in front of you and then bring it down to your side and you cat will recognise this as the cue to lie down.
  12. Next you can start to train them to lie down in response to a verbal cue as well as a visual one. Repeat the process as before but one second before you give the usual hand signal, say your chosen cue word. This can be any word you like, as your cat will only be responding to the sound, not the meaning (eg you could say ‘floor’ or even ‘grapefruit’ or ‘llama’). However, avoid using a word that you have previously used to get them to do something (eg ‘down’ when trying to get them off the sofa) as they will already have an association with this word. After repeating this process a number of times, your cat will begin to pre-empt the hand signal by lying down when you say the cue word instead.
  13. Once your cat is comfortably lying down on cue, you can start to repeat this process while standing at a greater distance from your cat, or encouraging them to stay lying down for longer periods.
black cat lying down

Throughout training, try to keep sessions to a maximum of three minutes long and then give your cat a break. If you can stick to three, three-minute sessions a day, you should hopefully be able to get your cat lying down in response to your verbal cue within seven days. However, it’s important to remember that some cats will take longer to master this than others, and some may not get it at all.

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

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

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

See also:
How to train your cat to sit on command
How to train your cat to respond to their name
How to train your cat to use the litter tray, cat flap and cat carrier
How to train your cat to use a scratch post
How to train your cat to toilet outside
How to train your cat to be comfortable with handling

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Caring cat lovers give stray Toby a new home

When Jagoda and Michael from Norfolk found a poor, flea-infested cat roaming the streets, they were immediately concerned that he had lost his home.

They called up Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre to see if anyone had informed them of a lost cat in the area, but when there was no match with any of the local missing moggies the branch listed him on the Lost & Found section of their website.

Next Jagoda and Michael took the cat to the local vets to get him scanned for a microchipped, and were relieved to find that he did indeed have a chip! However, their excitement turned to disappointment when the contact details listed turned out to be a dead end.

Tabby and white cat

The vets administered flea and worming treatments to help with the poor cat’s infestation and then took some photos of him to post on their Facebook page, in case there were still owners out there to claim him.

As he was unable to stay at the vets, Jagoda and Michael offered to give the cat a temporary home while the search for his owners continued. They prepared a room in their house that he could have to himself, away from their own pet cat, with all of the resources he would need.

They also continued to put up posters around the local area, but after four weeks had passed, there was still no sign of any owners coming forward.

Having become quite attached to their temporary house guest, Jagoda and Michael made the decision to make him a permanent part of the family. They named him Toby and took him back to the vets to get him checked over and vaccinated, then registered their own details on his microchip.

Tabby and white cat lying on back

Next came the tricky task of introducing Toby to their other cat, Fluffy. Thankfully, Cats Protection was able to help, as by following the steps on our helpful video guide, Jagoda and Michael were able to make sure the introduction went smoothly. They said: “They now get on very well together. They have their moments, but seem to be enjoying each other's company most of the time and even share their food!

“We just wanted to say thank you to Cats Protection’s Downham Market Adoption Centre for listing him on your website and for the advice you've given us on how to help him. We got really attached to him, he's such a friendly and grateful fella.”

If you find a stray cat, follow our advice at www.cats.org.uk/found-a-cat to give them the best chance of a happy reunion or finding a loving new home.

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Black cat stars of movies and TV

Cats Protection finds loving homes for thousands of cats each year, but sadly some moggies often get overlooked by potential adopters.

Black cats can take 13% longer to be rehomed than cats of other colours, yet over 40% of the kitties taken in by our centres are black or black and white.

Some may believe that black cats are boring, but we disagree. You only have to look at the many monochrome moggies that have appeared on the big and small screen to see why.

Here’s our pick of our favourite black cat stars…

Salem (Sabrina The Teenage Witch

via GIPHY

Sabrina’s talking sidekick was always delivering witty one-liners and coming up with plans for world domination, but most remember him for his insatiable hunger and wonderful singing voice – something many cat owners may recognise in their own moggies! Although Salem hasn’t been on our screens for over a decade, he is about to return in Netflix’s upcoming Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, although we’re not yet sure if he has a speaking part!

Binx (Hocus Pocus)

via GIPHY

Although he began the film as a human boy, Thackery Binx was soon transformed into an immortal black cat by the movie’s witchy main stars. Despite his family no longer recognising him, he still guarded their house every Halloween night, hissing at potential spooky intruders. Do you have your own black cat bodyguard?

Sylvester (Looney Tunes

via GIPHY

Whenever Tweety Pie ‘tawt he taw a puddy tat’ it was usually tuxedo moggy Sylvester creeping up on him. The cunning bird often managed to outwit his feline assailant, causing Sylvester to exclaim his classic catchphrase ‘sufferin’ succotash’ – if he’d been chasing a fun fishing rod toy around, he wouldn’t have been left so disappointed!

Snowball II (The Simpsons

via GIPHY

Although the original Snowball was white, the somewhat unimaginative Simpson family decided to keep the snowy name for their second cat, even though she was black. Snowball II was really Lisa’s trusty feline friend but also got on quite well with the family dog, Santa’s Little Helper – proof that sometimes cats and canines can be good friends.

Isis (Star Trek

via GIPHY

There were actually a couple of black cat stars in Star Trek, and they both happened to be shapeshifters. The monochrome moggy called Isis could communicate telepathically when in her feline form, while the cat in episode ‘Catspaw’ switched between being a woman called Sylvia and a mysterious feline that Spock took a shine to. Of course, on Earth the only shapeshifting cats do is to try and fit in their favourite cardboard box.

Figaro (Pinocchio

via GIPHY

First appearing as Mister Geppetto’s cheeky pet in Pinocchio, Figaro went on to star in many other Disney short films on the insistence of Walt Disney himself. Walt loved the little kitten so much, he even made him Minnie Mouse’s own pet moggy. If owning a black cat is good enough for Minnie, it’s certainly good enough for us!

To celebrate the beautiful black cat, get involved in National Black Cat Day on 27 October. Visit www.cats.org.uk/black-cats to download our colour chart to find out your own black cat’s true shade or find a monochrome moggy you can give a loving home.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Kittens rescued from locked car after 2,000 mile voyage from Cyprus to UK

Three tiny kittens have survived a week trapped inside a car with no food or water on a voyage from Cyprus to the UK.

The cruising kittens, who have been named Neptune, Sinbad and Galene, were discovered inside a vehicle on board MV (Military Vessel) Eddystone midway through a 10 day, 2,000 mile journey from Limassol in Cyprus to Southampton.

Tabby kitten
Neptune the kitten. Credit: Kris Bird
After being looked after by the ship’s staff, the kittens were given a clean bill of health by a UK vet and have now begun a three-month stay in quarantine, being paid for by Cats Protection who will find them a new home.

The kittens were found by crew at the end of September during a routine check of the ship’s cargo. They contacted the Sea Mounting Centre in Marchwood, Southampton where the boat was due to dock on 4 October.

black kitten and tabby kitten
Nepture (left) and Sinbad (right). Credit: Kris Bird
“The staff were surprised to see three kittens sitting on the car’s dashboard staring out at them,” said Patrick Fortnum, the ship’s agent who is based at the centre.

“The kittens were about three or four weeks old and were in remarkably good condition considering they’d had no food or water for a week. Their survival is miraculous.

black, tabby and tabby and white kittens
Galene (left) and Sinbad (right) with Neptune in the background. Credit: Kris Bird
“Our staff quarantined them in an empty cabin for four days and kept them fed and warm. The kittens were very friendly, and weren’t timid or shy at all.

“We don’t know how they got into the car and they must have kept very quiet when the car was driven onto the boat because the driver didn’t hear or see anything odd.

tabby kitten and black kitten
Neptune (left) and Sinbad (right). Credit Kris Bird
“The car was locked at the port of Limassol so it’s possible their mum had exited the car sometime before and is still on the island.”

The cost of the kittens’ quarantine, and finding them a new home is likely to reach over £2,000 so Cats Protection would be grateful for any donations towards the cost.


To give to Cats Protection’s Cyprus kittens appeal, please visit www.justgiving.com/cats-protectioncypruscats or text CATZ83 and an amount of £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070. 

Please note all funds raised in excess of the Cyprus appeal will be used to help other cats in the charity’s care.

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Big cat challenge raising money for little cats in the UK

On Saturday 13 October, 10 fabulous Cat Champions will travel to India to trek through the Himalayas and spend time with a tiger conservation project, all to raise money for Cats Protection.

The team have been busy fundraising for the past 18 months and have so far raised an incredible £40,000 to help unwanted moggies in their local communities.

Naomh is going to India in support of her local St Neots, Huntingdon & St Ives Branch and has been getting creative with her fundraising from day one. She has had lots of fun hosting a Pawsome Afternoon Tea, selling items at car boot sales and on eBay and even auctioning off a tiger painting created by a well-known local artist. She also asked people to donate Tigger toys to create a huge Tigger tree display, and then sold the toys to raise funds. All of this amazing work has resulted in Naomh surpassing her fundraising target by £300.

Cats Protection charity stall
Naomh selling items to raise money for Cats Protection
To read more about how the team’s fundraising is going and find out their individual reasons for taking on the challenge, visit their group JustGiving page.

Cats Protection offers supporters the opportunity to take part in a big cat international challenge every year, each time helping to raise in the region of £60,000 for the charity’s important work.

The next challenge will involve a trip to Africa to spend three days canoeing down the Zambezi River and then visit a lion conservation project in Livingstone. You’ll also get the chance to spot other magnificent wild animals on a safari tour.

Elephant and canoes
Sign up for the Zambezi challenge in 2020
To find out more and sign up for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, visit www.cats.org.uk/zambia20

If you’re worried about not raising enough funds for your challenge, Cats Protection’s Events team can help to support you every step of the way.

Still not convinced? Here are some previous big cat challenge Cat Champions to purrsuade you…

Kelly

Kelly Eyre, 27, from Wales was one of the first people to sign up for the 2017 Himalayan trek and tiger conservation project. Kelly worked as a Cat Care Assistant at Cats Protection’s Wrexham Adoption Centre for three years before studying to become a vet nurse. At the time she worked at the vet practice that looks after the cats in the centre’s care and has adopted a couple of unwanted moggies of her own, called Jelly and Smokey.

As well as raising much-needed funds, Kelly motivation was that training for her Indian adventure would also help her to shed a few pounds and improve her fitness.

“Anybody who knows me will know full well that I DO NOT like walking up hills or any slight incline, and I can't even make it to the top of Moel Famau!” said Kelly.

“When this opportunity arose, I thought it was the ideal thing to inspire me to get fit while raising money for Cats Protection at the same time.

“Having worked at the Wrexham Centre I know full well how hard the staff and volunteers work to help cats in need and it will be really nice to give them a much-needed boost.”

Cats Protection 2017 Himalayan trek
The 2017 Himalayan trek team
Roz and Yaz 

Roz, the Assistant Manager of Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre, and local cat lover Yaz also took part in the 2017 Himalayan trek.

“Here at Cats Protection’s Nottingham Adoption Centre, we have average veterinary bills of around £3,000 per month,” said Roz. “This means that we really do rely on people to fundraise for us to help us continue our vital work. The money raised helps us provide a second chance in life for all of the numerous cats in our care. While a new home is sought, we rely on donations and raised funds to ensure every cat is kept warm and loved, is fed and, if necessary, receive veterinary care.

“Cats Protection’s national commitment to a wide range of programmes that include vaccination, microchipping, neutering and passing on the need for responsible cat care to owners of all ages, would not be possible at our local level without the help of people like Yaz fundraising for us.

“I first met Yaz last December at our adoption centre's Christmas Fayre, where I had invited her to have a stall to help with her fundraising. We've since done a lot of fundraising together and have become very firm friends, so much so that we are going travelling for a week together in Nepal, after the Himalayan Trek.”

For more information about how you can take part in an event to raise money for Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/events

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Thirteen cats dumped on a road in Wigan

Thirteen cats that were dumped out of the back of a vehicle on Edge Green Road in Wigan are being cared for by a group of cat-loving volunteers.

tabby cat with bad eye

Cats Protection’s Atherton & Wigan Metro Areas Branch is currently caring for the cats, none of which were microchipped, and is appealing for the public’s help to raise the necessary funds to cover the cost of their veterinary treatment and time in care.

Around one third of all the cats taken in by Cats Protection across the UK are stray or abandoned, so it is a problem the charity’s volunteers are desperate to highlight.

black and white cat with bad eye

A spokesperson from the Atherton & Wigan Metro Areas Branch, said: “We were alerted to this case by the owners of a nearby farm who spotted the cats at night while driving. Luckily, they were able to catch these thirteen but we suspect there may be one or more still to be trapped.

“Each of the cats was suffering from a combination of signs of cat flu, dehydration, malnutrition and flea infestations. Four of the cats have very serious eye injuries but we are doing our best to save their sight. However, it is looking likely that one cat will have to have one eye removed.

black cat with bad eye

“The number of cats being dumped is a major problem for us because it can take weeks and sometimes hundreds of pounds to nurse just one unfortunate cat back to health.

“We seem to be living in a throwaway society where some people think nothing of just dumping cats.”

grey cat with bad eye

The branch is appealing to raise a total of £1,300 to cover the costs of veterinary treatment and care. Donations towards these costs can be made on the branch's JustGiving page. Any donations will go a long way to getting these cats back on their paws.

The charity urges all owners to get their pet cats neutered, as they are such prolific breeders. Just one unneutered cat can produce up to 18 kittens in one year.

For more information about neutering, visit www.cats.org.uk/neutering

Pet Plaques commemorate the UK’s amazing cats

TrustedHousesitters, the world’s biggest house and pet sitting business and official Cats Protection partner, has launched a new scheme dedicated to celebrating the nation’s most amazing animals.

Green Pet Plaques, complete with ears, are being attached to houses up and down the country, commemorating the achievements of the amazing animal living inside.

TrustedHousesitters green pet plaque
TrustedHousesitters has launched its green Pet Plaques 
Commemorative plaques such as the English Heritage blue plaque scheme, have honoured notable men and women for over a hundred years by placing a marker on the homes they worked or lived in, but there has never been a similar scheme solely dedicated to animals.

Pet owners across the country can now nominate their own pets to be honoured with a plaque, and some of the first animals to be recognised are previous winners and nominees of Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards.

Tabby cat Smudge
Smudge the cat protected his owner from bullies
Smudge the cat was nominated for the 2014 National Cat Awards Hero Cat category after he helped protect his owner from bullies.

When nine-year-old Ethan Fenton was being picked on, his heroic cat Smudge took action, pouncing on the chest of one of the bigger bullies who had pushed frightened Ethan to the ground. Shocked by Smudge’s smart move, the boy and his friends then ran away finally leaving Ethan alone.

Ethan Fenton, his mum and cat Smudge with green pet plaque
Ethan Fenton with his mum, cat Smudge and their Pet Plaque
Tim Lyons, Managing Director at TrustedHousesitters said: “There are countless stories across the country of pets who have a special bond with their owners or do something incredibly heroic.

“For over a hundred years we have honoured deserving people with blue plaques, we felt it was time to celebrate the nation’s love for our animals by honouring them in a similar way. We’re now looking forward to hearing more inspirational tales of cherished pets as the scheme continues to grow.”

Over 20 plaques have so far been placed on homes all over the UK. For stories and locations of the current markers, or to nominate your own pet to be one of the next in line to receive a plaque, please visit: www.trustedhousesitters.com/pet-plaques
 

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Arthur the cat helps his owner cope with mental health issues

Due to her serious mental health issues, Emily Hatton from Sandbach, Cheshire was told that she would never be able to live in the community on her own.

That was before she found gorgeous black-and-white moggy Arthur.

Emily Hatton with black and white cat Arthur
Emily Hatton and her cat Arthur
Arthur arrived in Emily’s life in 2017, just after she had been discharged from a mental health unit. Since then, Emily has been able to live independently for the longest period in her adult life – an achievement she credits Arthur with making possible.

“Arthur is proof that cats can change people’s lives because he’s changed mine,” said Emily. “Since the age of 16 I’ve been in and out of mental health wards, with 18 admissions up to the age of 21. 

“Last year I came out of hospital after a three-and-a-half year admission to a mental health unit. That’s when I got Arthur and since then I’ve not been back in hospital once with my mental health.

black and white cat Arthur
Arthur has transformed Emily life
“He’s always there, he’s my best friend. Coming out of hospital after so long, I needed a best friend and that’s what he became.

“He’s there to welcome me when I get in, so I never return to an empty home, and he’s there to help me through the dark days. He’s a reason to get up and he’s always there to listen to me.”

In August 2018, Arthur won the Most Caring Cat award at Cats Protection’s National Cat Awards because of his positive impact on Emily’s life. After collecting the award on Arthur’s behalf.

Emily Hatton with black and white cat Arthur
Emily nominated Arthur for a National Cat Award
Emily said: “I’m over the moon that Arthur has won this award as he has really changed my life. I hope our story will help more people understand just how much cats can help people with mental health issues.

“Winning this award means I can give something back to him and I’m thrilled other people can see how special he is.”

Arthur was chosen as the winner by celebrity judge Deborah Meaden, who presented Emily with the award at a star-studded ceremony at London’s Savoy Hotel.

Deborah Meaden and Emily Hatton at National Cat Awards
Deborah Meaden presenting Emily Hatton with Arthur's award
Deborah said: “Emily and Arthur were the choice for me as I have a sense of the ongoing and daily support that Emily has from Arthur in simply living her everyday life.

“Emily has problems facing the world and Arthur supports her every mood and every moment simply by being there and connecting her to the world.”

Related stories:
How becoming a volunteer can help with mental health
Rescued cat saves his new owner's life
2018 National Cat Awards in quotes

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

How to train your cat to sit on command

It’s often thought that cats cannot be trained to respond to commands like dogs can, but that isn’t true. With a bit of patience and a few tasty treats you can teach your clever cat to do all sorts of things, such as respond to their name and even sit or lie down when prompted.

Training your cat to sit can be very useful for many things, including introducing grooming and handling, and getting them to stay still while you’re preparing their dinner! Here we are going to teach you how to train your cat to sit using a lure, eg treats.

black and white cat sitting

To get started, you will need:
  • a physically able and confident cat (older or infirm cats might struggle)
  • a quiet room with no distractions
  • some tasty treats that don’t require a lot of chewing
  • a bit of patience
Now you can begin training:
  1. Hold a cat treat between the very end of your index finger and thumb with your palm facing upward.
  2. Stand in front of your cat with the treat 1-2cm away from their nose (some cats may prefer it if you sit or kneel so they are not being leant over).
  3. Slowly lift the treat up from your cat’s nose. They should then follow it with their gaze and look upwards.
  4. Once the treat has been raised by about five centimetres, start to slowly move it a few centimetres back towards your cat’s tail. If they follow the treat with their gaze they should naturally go into a seated position. It may take them a few seconds to figure this out so hold the treat in position if they don’t sit straight away.
  5. As soon as your cat is sitting down, say ‘yes’ and give them the treat. If your cat is good at following treats, throw the treat a short distance from them so they move and naturally reset their position ready to start again. If not, do not worry, hand feed your cat then move yourself so they stand up and you can restart the process.
  6. If your cat is comfortable with this process, repeat steps 1-6 a couple of times so they learn that sitting on the floor will get them a treat.

  7. ginger kitten sitting

  8. Once your training sessions are consistently successful, you can gradually alter your hand movement. Put your hand holding the treat in front of your cat and then flick your wrist up to signal for your cat to sit. When they sit, say ‘yes’ and give them the treat.
  9. When your cat has mastered this signal, you can start to reduce reliance on the treats. Put your hand into the treat bag/bowl but don’t actually take one out. Still present your hand to your cat in the same way you did before and repeat the actions. If your cat sits, say ‘Yes’ and then get them a treat – you always need to reward them in some way.
  10. Once this has worked a few times, you can then present your hand without pretending to get a treat beforehand. Hopefully your cat will still sit in response to your hand signal alone, but make sure you still follow it up by saying ‘yes’ and then giving them a treat.
  11. Now they have worked out that sitting will get them a treat, you can start to train them to sit in response to a verbal cue as well as a visual one. Repeat the process as before but one second before you give the usual hand signal, say your chosen cue word. This can be any word you like, as your cat will only be responding to the sound, not the meaning (eg you could say ‘sit’ or even ‘flamingo’ or ‘banana’, anything will work). After repeating this a number of times, your cat will begin to associate the noise with sitting and pre-empt the hand signal by sitting when you say the cue word.
  12. Once your cat is comfortably sitting on cue, you can start to repeat this process while standing at a greater distance from your cat, or encouraging them to stay sitting for longer periods.
If you don't believe it can be done, here's a video of a cat that has mastered it...


Throughout training, try to keep sessions to a maximum of three minutes long and then give your cat a break. If you can stick to three, three-minute sessions a day, you should hopefully be able to get your cat sitting in response to your verbal cue within seven days. However, it’s important to remember that some cats will take longer to master this than others, and some may not get it at all.

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

Come back next week to find out how to train your cat to lie down on command.

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

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

See also:
How to train your cat to lie down on command
How to train your cat to respond to their name
How to train your cat to use the litter tray, cat flap and cat carrier
How to train your cat to use a scratch post
How to train your cat to toilet outside
How to train your cat to be comfortable with handling

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Moving house with Simon's Cat Logic

Anyone who has moved house will be aware of how stressful it can be. And while moving house can be stressful for humans, it can be difficult for cats too. This is the focus of the latest Simon’s Cat Logic animation, Moving house, in which creator Simon Tofield and Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow discuss how best to prepare your cat for a new home.

As Nicky points out: “Moving house can be a big deal for cats. Much of their feelings of security and the ability to relax comes from having familiar sights, scents and sounds.”

So how can you prepare your cat for their new environment?



Plan your next move

As Nicky advises, there are two options for moving day. You can choose to either book your cat into a cattery or take them with you as you move. This depends on your own personal preferences as well as your cat’s character as every cat is different.

If you do book your cat into a cattery a few days beforehand, you won’t have to worry about them. You’ll need to be organised well in advance and get your cat’s vaccinations up to date.

● First, allocate a room in your home that can be cleared of furniture a few weeks before the move. Next, choose a room in the new home that you can place your cat in as soon as you arrive. Ideally, both rooms will be out of the way so that your cat can be undisturbed

● If you have more than one cat, you’ll need for them to have their own resources – litter tray, food bowl, water bowl etc. If they don’t get along, they may need a room each

● Anxious cats will need more help. As Nicky says: “We’d recommend putting synthetic pheromones in the cat basket and in the new rooms.” Synthetic products can emulate these pheromone effects and can be utilised by cat owners to reduce stress symptoms and encourage positive behaviours. Speak to your vet for more advice

Moving in

● Once you’ve arrived in your new home, take your cat to the new room with all their familiar resources. You might want to give them something that smells of you, such as unwashed clothing. Shut the door and leave your cat in this room for a while. They might need a few days to settle in before having access to the rest of the house – your cat will soon let you know when they’re ready to explore

● Ideally, keep your cat indoors for three to four weeks, enough time to view the new house as a safe and secure territory

As Nicky says: “Some cats go missing as their owners move house and they let them out a little bit too soon. Only let them out for a few moments at a time at first. You can build this time outside gradually until you feel confident that they can come and go as they please.”

Simon’s animation Nut again! is inspired by his cats enjoying his new home. He explains that “having four cats is a lot of animals to bring to a new neighbourhood! There were a few cat squabbles to begin with, before they sorted out their territory.”

To learn more about moving house with your cat, go to www.cats.org.uk/moving-home

Friday, 5 October 2018

How to tell if your cat is happy

When we’re feeling happy, a cheery smile is usually enough to let others know, but our moggy companions don’t communicate their emotions in the same way.

Although it can sometimes look like our cats are smiling at us, with the sides of their mouths upturned (as you can see from the fantastic readers' photos on this page!), experts are undecided as to whether this is actually a sign of happiness.

black and white cat smiling
Hyde giving his best smile 
Cats have evolved from a solitary species and so they have less need to communicate in close contact using complex facial expressions like we do. As a result they actually have fewer facial muscles than social species such as humans or dogs.

Instead, they have a range of other body language cues that let us know when they’re feeling content. Here are some of the main cat equivalents of a smile to look out for.

Bengal cat smiling
Phoenix having a smiley snooze
Slow blinking

If your cat looks at you and slowly closes and opens their eyes, this shows that they are feeling relaxed and happy in your presence. If you want to let them know you’re happy too, try slow blinking back.

Social roll 

A cat’s tummy is a very vulnerable area, so if they lie on their back and show it to you, it means they trust you enough not to give them a belly rub. They often use this as a way of saying a happy hello so a simple fuss on the head will be a welcome response.

Tabby cat smiling
Fidget's fantastic grin
Hop up 

Cats that love a fuss may hop up on their back legs to meet your hand. This is a very warm welcome and may even be accompanied by a friendly chirrup sound, which is their way of saying hi.

Tail up 

The position of a cat’s tail will usually give away a lot about their mood. If they approach you with their tail up in the air and a slight curve at the tip, this shows that they’re happy to see you.

Black cat smiling
Penny smiling in the sunshine
Head butt/cheek rub 

If your cats starts rubbing their head or cheek on you, they’re actually leaving behind their own unique scent via glands on their skin. Scent is an important method of communication for cats and this behaviour can leave a message for the cat to let them know that it’s a calm, safe place and help you smell more like part of their social group.

Purring and kneading 

The gentle rumble of a cat’s purr usually signals that they are feeling relaxed and happy, and may also be accompanied by kneading. Although having their claws digging into your lap may not feel very relaxing for you, it is actually a sign of cat contentment left over from kittenhood.

To find out more about cat body language, watch our video below and take a look at our other cat behaviour guides on YouTube.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The history of cats - explained

If you’re a cat-lover, you’ll be only too aware that they make the best pets. Affectionate, easy to look after and the perfect partner for snuggling up on the sofa – there’s nothing quite like having a cat to come home to.

But while cats are the much-loved pets of many, you might not know about their notable roles throughout history. In celebration of World Animal Day, we’re delving into the history of our favourite animal, from its origins in Ancient Egypt to the marvellous moggies we know today.

Download our timeline to learn more.


Around 12 million years ago – Prehistoric times


During prehistoric times, distant ancestors of the African wildcat roamed the savannah in search of food to eat.

9000-4000 BC – Ancient Egypt



In Ancient Egypt, a time when pharaohs rule the land, the African wildcat enters towns looking for food. They find mice to hunt in the grain stores and for the first time, begin to live alongside humans.

Around 2000 BC



Some African wildcats evolve to become domesticated, living with humans quite happily. The Ancient Egyptians believe that cats are lucky, especially as they keep the snakes away.

1000 BC



Domesticated cats are sold across the world in secret. Many cats live in India and across the whole of Asia.

400AD – The Roman Empire



Ancient Rome, a powerful and important civilisation, is now getting bigger. The Romans introduce cats to Europe. They think of them as sacred animals and let them wander freely around the city’s holy temples.

1400s – Medieval Europe


Cats are no longer sacred animals. Instead, they are associated with witchcraft and treated badly. Those who own cats are considered to be witches and usually burned alive.

1700s – New America



Adventurers discover the Americas, and with it, a huge plague of rats! Cats are sent across on large ships to control the problem and become popular with the American people.

1800s – Victorian Britain

During Victorian times, cats become popular pets in Britain. Sadly, cats are still cruelly mistreated and abandoned and many live on the streets.

1914-1918 – First World War


Cats became heroes, serving in the First World War. They have important jobs, like sniffing out poisonous gas on the battlefield and controlling rats on war ships.

1927 – The beginning of Cats Protection



As cruelty is still a problem, Cats Protection is created to help teach people about how to look after cats. They also begin to home unwanted cats, placing them in happy homes with new owners.

Today



Cats are one of the most popular pets. There are over eight million of them in homes across the UK! Although the African wildcat looks different to our pet cats, they share some of the same behaviours even today – from hunting and sleeping to the need to be alone.

This resource has been designed as part of our new Education site, intended for teachers and children.

To learn more, visit www.cats.org.uk/education

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

How to train your cat to be comfortable with handling

Some cats love a cuddle and will happily let you pick them up, particularly if they have a close bond with you already. However, not all felines favour such close contact.

There are many reasons why they could be wary of being touched, including that they have not been properly socialised as a kitten, or that they are in pain. If your cat shows any signs of discomfort with handling, get them checked by a vet first to rule out any medical problems.

Whether your cat loves a fuss or not, it’s important to remember that most moggies like to be in control of any human contact they get so it’s best to let them come to you and give them the choice to move away if they want to.



tortoiseshell cat having chin rub
Try presenting your hand to your cat to see if they come forward for a fuss
Sometimes though, handling your cat is a necessity, such as when it’s time for a visit to the vet or you need to give them some medication.

The secret to stress-free handling, for both cat and owner, is to make it a predictable and cooperative process. By giving your cat some warning that you are going to approach them, you will reduce the chance of them becoming scared.

For this, it’s helpful to have a special mat or towel that you only bring out for handling training. You can also use a special word or phrase, eg ‘touch’, that you say before each time you handle your cat, to prepare them for what comes next.


black and white cat having ear scratch
Behind the ears or under the chin are good cat fussing spots
In fact, to make the training more amusing for yourself, you could even pick whichever word you like as your cat will only hear the sound, not understand the meaning. Pineapple, spatula, tambourine…whatever takes your fancy, just make sure you stick to the same word throughout.
  1. To begin training, pick a moment when your cat is feeling relaxed and in a familiar, safe environment with no distractions. Then set your training mat/towel out on the floor and sit at your cat’s level with a small pot of treats beside you.
  2. If your cat approaches and is calm (preferably standing still or sitting) say your chosen word, eg ‘touch’, and then move your hand to touch the cat in an area they like being touched, eg the side of the neck, for one second. To build a strong positive association to being touched, give them a treat directly afterwards.
  3. If your cat is comfortable with the handling, repeat steps one and two during short sessions that last a maximum of two minutes.
  4. Once your cat is comfortable with this, start moving your hand towards an area the cat is less comfortable with being touched. For example, move your hand from the side of the neck to the back of the neck. Again, repeat this process during short sessions that last a maximum of two minutes.
  5. When they are comfortable with this, you can then start to build up the duration of the handling from one second each time to two or three seconds.
  6. Once your cat is comfortable with this, you can then move the training session to different environments, eg on the table to prepare them for vet visits. Remember to keep using the training mat/towel.
  7. When you next take your cat to the vet, take the mat/towel with you and explain to your vet what you have been doing so they can work with you to hopefully make the check up a stress-free experience for everyone.
cat having vet check up
Getting your cat comfortable with handling should make vet visits easier
If, during training, your cat does indicate that they are uncomfortable, it means that you have moved too quickly and should go back a step. Make sure your moggy always has the option to move away throughout the training, never restrain them.

This training is only for cats who have a good bond with their owner but are uncomfortable with some areas of handling. It is not suitable for fearful cats that hide away from humans or show aggression towards them. In these instances, you should contact a qualified behaviourist for advice.

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

See also:
How to train your cat to respond to their name
How to train your cat to use the litter tray, cat flap and cat carrier
How to train your cat to use a scratch post
How to train your cat to toilet outside
How to train your cat to sit on command
How to train your cat to lie down on command

Monday, 1 October 2018

Kids become cat experts with new classroom talks

While you might know that Cats Protection helps to both care for cats and find them a forever home, you might not be aware of the excellent work from some of our teams behind the scenes.

One of our key aims is education, helping people within the community understand cats’ welfare needs, as well as explaining why they behave the way they do. In the quest to educate others on all things feline, our dedicated team of Community Education Officers and Education Volunteers travel around the country, offering interesting and informative talks to schools and community groups.

Since the end of last year, the Education team has been working hard to create and deliver new talks and workshops. Catering to different ages and groups and even including talks for adults, the new sessions feature knowledgeable speakers alongside fun animations, videos and activities – great ways to interact with a young audience!


Community Education Officer Kelly Matthews and Volunteer Education Speaker Helen Davies visited Lewis Girls’ School in Ystrad Mynach, Caerphilly, in July to deliver a new PSHE and careers workshop to the secondary school students there. Handily, Helen is also a teacher at the school and the session produced some interesting work from the pupils.

The PSHE and careers workshop features four different videos documenting a ‘day in the life’ of some of the key careers at Cats Protection – including Cat Care Assistant, Neutering Officer and Vet Nurse. The videos linked to a quiz, where the students were asked questions about what they’d seen, reinforcing learning as well as highlighting the range of jobs available in animal welfare.

Kelly said: "These new career videos are such a fun way to show the children the different careers within the charity. It’s lovely to see the reactions and interest we get from the pupils."

After watching and learning, it was time for the students to put pen to paper and showcase their creative talents. They were asked to try out an activity relating to their best career match. Those keen on becoming Neutering Officers were asked to create posters persuading people to neuter their cats, while those matched as a Media Officer were encouraged to create a press release promoting a hard-to-home cat.

The results were particularly impressive. The girls had lots of wonderful ideas, coming up with some great work.

 
Helen Davies comments: "The pupils really enjoyed this session. It gave them lots to think about and they found the activities engaging. As a teacher I can see this workshop being invaluable to secondary schools, and as a Volunteer Education Speaker, I look forward to delivering this workshop to pupils in other schools."

 For the students that chose to head down the career path of Neutering Officer and create a persuasive poster, there were some particularly funny and poignant pieces of work. Others chose the Media Officer role, writing some excellent hard-to-home stories for cats.

 
Kelly says: "The pupils enjoyed their activity session, learning about the various careers to be found at Cats Protection and the welfare needs of all cats. They also had great fun and went home feeling really happy with their creations."

If you are a teacher or run a community group and are interested in a free talk or workshop from Cats Protection, visit www.cats.org.uk/book-a-talk to learn more.