Kid’s Corner

Cats, puzzles, coloring books, mazes…what more can you ask for?! The Kid’s Corner has plenty of fun resources for children! Click the thumbnails below and download the corresponding PDF’s to keep children entertained with some feline fun!


Coloring Books

Coloring Book – Kitten (Basic)
Coloring Book – Vet (Basic)
Coloring Book – Cats (Advanced)
Coloring Book / Puzzle – Cat
Coloring Book – Cat (Advanced)

Maze

Maze – Cat

Crossword Puzzle

Coloring Book / Crossword Puzzle

DIY Cat Toys / Puzzles

Sitting around your home all day can be boring, and it’s no different for cats! Now is the perfect time to supply your cat with a new toy or food puzzle. Below are instructions and images for three different DIY projects you can make with materials found in your own home!

Please be careful not to leave DIY tools, such as scissors, small items, or potentially toxic materials, in an area easily accessible by your cat.


Easy Cat Toy

This toy is perfect for your cat to swipe, bat, and fling around!

Materials Needed:

  • Sock
  • Paper (Wrapping Paper / Packing Paper).
    • No Plastic or Metallic Papers!
  • Scissors
    • If Needed to Cut Paper.

Easy Food Puzzle

This food puzzle keeps your cat’s body and mind occupied! Cats feel the innate need to hunt, and food puzzles are a perfect solution to fulfill their natural instinct.

Materials Needed:

  • Toilet Paper Cardboard Tubes
  • Scissors or Hole Punch
  • Duct Tape

Medium Difficulty Level Food Puzzle

If the Easy Food Puzzle above doesn’t pose enough difficulty for your feline friend, consider the following Medium Difficulty Level Food Puzzle. The different tube heights will require some extra problem solving!

Materials Needed:

  • Cardboard Tubes (Toilet Paper Tube(s) / Paper Towel Tube(s) / Wrapping Paper Tube(s).
  • Non-Toxic Glue
  • Large Flat Piece of Cardboard
  • Scissors or Box Cutter

 

Meow

We have been taught from an early age that cats make the sound, “meow.” But what does “meow” actually mean?

Cats rarely meow at other cats, usually using hissing or growling as their primary method of communication with other cats. When they are kittens (after they’ve weaned), they meow at their mothers for attention, but this stops once they mature.

Meowing in Mature Cats

Later, the meow is primarily directed at people to get their attention. Cats constantly monitor their surroundings and are highly aware. Humans aren’t as aware of their surroundings, and often are multi-tasking or involved in specific activities, conversations, or distracted by technology (i.e., television, computers, phones, etc.)

However, humans do respond to unusual noises, such as meows. Cats have learned that we will respond to their meows and anticipate this response to get their needs met. Sometimes the response of acknowledgement or petting is reward enough, but cats have also learned precision when it comes to meowing. For example, cats will meow next to a door when they want to go out, or in the middle of the kitchen when they want food.

Some cats will even learn to change the tone and frequency of their meows to get different results! This language between you and your cat is unique and not universal cat-human language. It is usually only a cat’s caregiver that can reliably interpret their cat’s meows.

Different Types of Meows

Cats can alter the sound of their meows to let their owners know the urgency of a need. They do this by altering their pitch and duration:

    • Mid-pitch Meow – might mean a demand for food.
    • High-pitch / Drawn-out Meow – might mean the cat is in pain.
    • Multiple Meows – can show excitement to see their caregivers.

Using trial and error, cats develop a set of meows they learn are effective to communicate with you in different circumstances. The cat and caregiver naturally train one another during this process. The action a cat takes after a meow can indicate the cat’s emotional state or specific need. In meowing, cats communicate and form close relationships with us, much as they do with members of their own feline family!


Meow Tip #1: If your cat meows excessively, it can mean the cat has learned to do this to get what he wants all the time. If this is the case, you can ignore the cat’s cries to let them know that behavior will not be rewarded. For example, wait until the cat is quiet, then feed him. Over time, he will learn to use meows effectively.

Meow Tip #2: Changes in meow tone and increases or decreases in vocalization could indicate a medical problem. If you notice these types of changes, pet owners should have their feline friend checked by their veterinarian.

Affection

You love your cat and want to show her affection! However, doing so properly requires an understanding of unique feline behaviors and each individual cat’s preferences.

Below are some tips on how to show your feline friend affection in a way that you both benefit from the experience. We’ve also included additional resources on how to pet and handle your cat and playing with your cat to help you build a healthy and loving relationship with your beloved feline companion.

How to Show Your Cat Affection:

  • Let her approach you. Many cats will nuzzle or rub up against you, making it clear they want an embrace or to be pet. They may brush their face against yours, for example. In some cats, it may be more challenging to understand if they want affection.
  • Watch out for signs that she is stressed by the interaction, which include:
    • a tense body
    • dilated pupils
    • ears back
    • or worse yet, hissing or crying out
  • Do not force cats to be pet. Sometimes giving her space and providing her favorite toy and a good play session (when calm), are better options and show your affection just as well.
  • If your cat is comfortable with being picked up, make sure you do so with both hands, securing her back legs and behind. Be sure to have her as close to your body as possible so that she feels safe and is not dangling in the air.
  • Avoid holding her with a tight grip since this will cause anxiety.
  • Never lift her by the scruff. It could be painful for them.
  • Most cats prefer to be petted on the head and neck and may get upset when touched elsewhere. Most cats prefer not to have their feet touched.
  • Cats have limits as we all do, and they can become aroused if you pet them for too long.

Other Things to Watch Out For:

Watch for the signs mentioned above that your feline friend is done with the petting experience. If it goes on too long, they will often nip or claw at you to indicate they have had enough. Cats don’t interact the way we do – long dinners or coffee conversations – they prefer short interactions that occur more often.

If your cat rubs up against you or an object nearby, licks your arm or leg or curls up beside you, this is the time for a good petting session.

Follow these tips and watch your cat purr with affection for you!


For more details on the above tips, please see these other pages:

How to Pet & Handle Cats

Playing with Your Cat

Purr

It’s an age old mystery – why do cats purr? What are they trying to tell us? Scientists still don’t fully understand all aspects of the mechanisms, or system of parts that work together, and produce purring and all its’ variations.  However, we’ve got some interesting scientific facts to help us understand some key aspects about purring.

To Purr or Not to Purr

Domestic cats, cheetahs, pumas, ocelots, servals, and lynxes all purr. Lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars cannot purr. It is believed that the ability to purr may be related to the structure of the larynx or voice box. Cats who can purr have flexible bones that support their voice box and have a shorter larynx than cats who cannot purr.

Purring CatWhat Do My Cat’s Purrs Mean?

In general, cats purr to communicate their presence and/or emotional state to another cat or person.

Kittens

  • The queen, or mother cat, purrs to tell her kittens “I’m here.
  • For kittens, the meaning of purring changes as they grow older.

Adults

  • Adult cats’ purrs show how they are feeling.
  • They may purr when content, either when they are alone or when they are with someone. This purr is pleasant or melodious.
  • Often adult cats also show signs of happiness by kneading or bunting. They will act this way when they’re with a favorite person or animal.
  • If they are anxious or trying to appease a dominant cat, cats may purr at a higher pitch in a tight body posture. This purr may lessen tension for cats like nail biting, whistling, or a tight smile does for some people.

How Different Purring Sounds Are Produced

  • In general, cats’ emotions stimulate an area in the base of the brain called the infundibulum, which has been called “the purring center” in the cat’s brain1
  • Vibrations start and the nerves send this vibration to the larynx, the opening to the windpipe where the vocal cords are, and diaphragm.
  • This causes a change in the tension in cats’ voice boxes (glottis) in a repeatable pattern or sequence.

Purring Facts

  • When the cat inhales and exhales, air moves in and out across the voice box, and creates the purring sound.
  • Cats’ purrs produce a sound every 30-40 milliseconds and lasts for 10-15 milliseconds. So, they can produce about 250 sounds per second!
  • Purrs change in volume, length, and frequency according to their state of mind. Humans may or may not hear all the sounds cats make because our hearing is not as sensitive or sharp, but other cats do.
  • Sick or injured cats may purr at different frequencies to help heal themselves to varying effects.

1. Gibbs, E.L., Gibbs, F.A., (1936, August) A Purring Center in the Cat’s Brain, The Journal of Comparative Neurology

Territory

Do you ever feel like your cat has spaces in your home that he owns or that are his territory – a space that he is prepared to defend? Why does your cat feel more comfortable in certain spaces and not others?

To start, there are a few different kinds of territories (with the activities your cat can exhibit indicated in the parentheses below):

Core Territory – the area where your cat feels safe and secure (sleeping and toileting)

Hunting Territory – the area your cat claims as his to hunt (eating and drinking)

Shared/Common Territory – the area that is shared with others (people, dogs, and/ or other cats) in a household (hanging out, watching, waiting, and socializing)

Why Is My Cat Territorial?

  • In the wild, cats only survive if they are successful hunters, and if they have a safe and secure individual home range and territory.
  • Consequently, cats are usually cautious and concerned about intrusions into their area, especially at certain times such as dawn and dusk.
  • Even if your cat is indoor-only, he still has a strong natural instinct to hunt and establish territories.
  • Your cat is fed on a regular basis and does not have a need to hunt for his food, but due to his natural instinct to establish a territory, your home must provide an environment that meets all of his needs including territorial marking.

How Does My Cat Claim His Territory?cat-lying-down-red-coloring-istock

  • Usually the area where your cat spends the majority of his time is his territory.
  • To define their territory, cats exhibit natural marking behaviors like scent rubbing and scratching.
    • Your cat marks his scent by rubbing his face and body, which deposits natural pheromones to establish boundaries within which he feels safe and secure.
    • You probably have noticed your cat rubbing up against you, the furniture, and other items in your home. He is scent marking you and these items as part of his territory.
    • Scratching produces both a visible mark and a scent mark which cats use to avoid conflict when sharing space, especially with other cats.
  • Spraying urine can be a problematic marking behavior that your cat may express. Often the method chosen by your cat to scent mark is determined by his emotional state at the time. Contact your veterinarian if your cat is marking its territory by spraying urine.
  • If your cat’s marking behavior is causing a problem in your household, contact your veterinarian to discuss in length. They can offer advise on ways to create a mutually agreeable solution. Often, negative marking behaviors are a sign that your cat does not feel safe.

How Does this Affect the Way I Care for My Cat?

  • Make sure that your cat has an enriched environment which allows him to define and engage in the activities associated with all three types of territories listed above. Indoor-only cats especially need areas and items in the household to encourage play, as well as mental and physical stimulation. Such items may include cat trees, climbing areas, and items that allow them to explore such as food puzzles.
  • Cats need an outlet to exhibit natural marking behaviors such as scent rubbing and scratching. You need to provide your cat with suitable scratching areas and alternatives.
  • Some cats like to have access to soft resting places up high where they can observe their territory and feel safe.

Multi-Cat Homes

  • Just because two cats live in the same home does not mean they are going to get along. Cats are more likely to merely tolerate one another unless they are siblings or from the same social group.
  • To reduce conflict, cats often set-up separate, sometimes overlapping, territories within the home, but may continue to scrap with each other sporadically. Mostly both cats will avoid each other if they can.
  • Signs your cats need to have separate territories within your home. You will notice your cats:
    • run away from each other
    • hiss or spit when they encounter one another
    • avoid each other
    • sleep far apart
    • act aggressively towards one another
    • stare at each other or watch tensely
  • If your cats have successfully established individual territories and a comfortable way to share common space, you should see very little aggression of conflict. The multi-cat home suggestions below show ways you can help your cats set-up individual territories within the same home.

Multi-Cat Home Suggestions to Help Your Cats Set-up Individual Territories:

  • If you have more than one cat, you should feed them in different locations and have several litter boxes available in different locations, away from the food and water stations.
  • Remember that each of your cats need their own set of resources in order to feel safe and secure in your home.
  • These resources should be placed away from high traffic areas and in locations where your cat can get away easily (i.e. not backed into a corner, small room, or end of a hallway).
  • Consider using a pheromone product that can help cats remain calm in a social group or reduce conflict, such as Feliway Multicat.
  • Multi-cat households should also have safe places in each cat’s territory where your cats can retreat to so they feel protected or which can be used as a resting area.

How Do I Know If My Cat Is In Pain?

Download Brochure

Behavior changes in your cat are the primary indicator of pain. As the person who knows your cat best, you are an important member of their healthcare team and key in helping to detect the signs of pain as soon as possible. The signs of pain may be subtle because cats hide signs of discomfort and illness which could make them appear vulnerable to their enemies. This trait comes from their wild ancestors who needed to avoid becoming another animal’s prey. This can make it difficult to recognize if your cat is sick or in pain. Veterinary professionals have been trained to evaluate these subtle behaviors and physical health changes.

Categories of Pain

Acute pain
  • This type of pain occurs in conjunction with inflammation and healing after an injury and can last for up to 3 months.
  • It can be caused by injury, trauma, surgery, and acute medical conditions and diseases.
  • Acute pain generally begins suddenly and usually doesn’t last long.
Chronic pain
  • This is usually described as either pain that lasts beyond the normal healing time or pain that lasts in conditions where healing has not or will not occur.
  • Degenerative joint disease (DJD), also known as feline arthritis, is an extremely common, chronic, painful disease in cats, with as many as 92% of all cats showing some signs of this disease. It is also one of the most significant and under-diagnosed diseases in cats.
Persistent pain
  • Cats with persistent pain may need palliative care.
  • Palliative care is the all encompassing approach that provides cats, who have a disease that is not responsive to curative treatment, with a plan to provide an improved quality of life with pain control being the principal feature.

During regular check-ups your veterinarian talks with you about your cat and obtains a patient history. Regular check-ups should occur a minimum of once yearly, and more frequently for senior cats and those with chronic conditions. So, when you notice changes in how your cat is behaving, interacting, or his daily routine, contact your veterinarian.

Signs and Symptoms

It is important for you to know your cat’s normal temperament and behavior. Just the slightest change could be a sign that your cat is sick or in pain. Since your cat is nonverbal and can’t tell you he is in pain, your veterinarian relies on you to determine if there are any abnormal behavior patterns that may be pain related. If your cat displays any of the following changes, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • Decreased appetite or no interest in food
  • Withdrawn or hiding
  • Reduced movement or mobility, or hesitation to climb steps or jump
  • Diminished exercise tolerance and general activity
  • Difficulty getting up, standing, or walking
  • Decreased grooming
  • Changes in urination or defecation habits
  • Squinting
  • Hunched or tucked-up position instead of curled-up when sleeping
  • Sensitivity or vocalization to petting or touch
  • Temperament or other substantial behavior changes for your cat (e.g. seeking solitude, aggression, loss of appetite)

Management of Your Cat’s Pain

Your cat’s pain management plan that you develop with your veterinarian may include:

  • Medication
  • Physical Therapy
  • Environmental changes such as using special bedding or ramps

Your veterinarian is committed to developing a strategy with you that provides your cat with compassionate care; optimum recovery from illness, injury, or surgery; and enhanced quality of life.

Monitoring

Once a veterinary plan has been developed, you may be asked to monitor your cat at home. It is important that you receive verbal instructions, written instructions, and ask for a hands-on demonstration of how to administer medications and handle your cat at home.

When you are monitoring your cat at home, we recommend that you:

  • Use a notebook to record your observations.
  • Include any changes in behavior, activities, or routine even if they seem minor.
  • Schedule follow up appointments with your veterinarian to share your observations.
  • Alert your veterinary practice right away if there are changes, you have questions, or you notice early signs of adverse reactions.

Continuous management is required for chronically painful conditions, and for acute conditions until pain is resolved. When pain is not recognized or managed, it can result in what may be considered unfavorable behavior changes.

Please remember – cats do not act out of spite, and any behavior change can be a sign of pain or another health problem. Being able to recognize and manage your cat’s pain can be as life preserving as any other veterinary medical treatment.

 

What Is Normal?

    CLICK TO VIEW LARGER

Your cat is unique, as you already know. So, it is best to know what is normal for your specific cat and not just what is average for all cats.

Start by paying attention to your cat’s daily routine and write it down so you can refer back to it as needed. Try to add in some general details of their routine so you know when something has changes. This will help alert you to early signs that something may be wrong. When you notice changes in your cat’s normal routines – even small changes, speak with your veterinarian before it turns into a bigger problem. Here’s a list of common signs and symptoms that mean you need to bring your cat to the veterinarian.

Eating

  • Know the typical amount of food your cat eats in a 24 hour period.
  • Measure out portions of food, especially dry food. Keep track of any treats or snacks you offer your cat. This is the only way to really know how much food your cat eats daily.
  • Once you know the usual amount of food your cat or cats eat, you don’t have to obsess over it. Just stay observant.

Drinking

  • Know where and from what type of container your cat likes to drink (bowl, fountain, glass on the nightstand, bathroom faucet, etc…).
  • It is not as easy to measure exactly how much water your cat drinks as it is to measure how much food they eat. However, you can look for changes in their drinking behavior. The average daily volume of water your cat may drink from water resources can vary widely.
  • If your cat eats dry food (primarily or exclusively), they will probably drink more water than cats that eat canned/wet food. A good indicator of “normal” water consumption is consistent urine volume.

Urinating

  • Know how often and how much urine your cat produces daily.
  • If you use clumping litter, it is very easy to know how many times your cat urinates and the size of their urinations. If you use absorbent litter, you can note the number and size of wet spots before you scoop the poop and stir the litter.
  • For households with more than one cat and more than one litter box, you can still know the total amount of urine produced each day. Just divide by the number of cats and it should be close to the average.
  • An average adult cat produces 2-3 handful size urine balls per day.
  • Cats are creatures of habit, so if you stay observant you can have a pretty good idea of which cat is urinating in which area of each box.
  • Be sure to clean all litter boxes at least once per day.
  • The idea is for you to know what “normal” looks like for your cat so you can notice any changes.

Defecating

  • Know how often and how much your cat defecates every day.
  • No matter what type of litter you are using, bowel movements should be scooped at least daily.
  • Notice color, shape, and consistency – it only takes a moment as you transfer it to a trash bag or the toilet to flush.
  • An average adult cat defecates once every 24 to 36 hours and produces a stool about the size of an old fashioned Tootsie Roll candy bar. It should be a dark brown color, well formed, moist enough that the litter will stick to it, and emits an odor, that while not pleasant, should not drive you from the room.

Sleeping and Nappingorange-cat-in-winter-givin

  • Know where your cat or cats spends their time.
  • Most cats nap where the sun is or the action is (at a window, on your desk, in the TV room, etc.). They sleep where it is safe, warm, and quiet (often in a bedroom).
  • An average indoor adult cat will sleep 14-16 hours a day and will have 3-4 favorite napping spots. Favorite spots may change with time of day or may change randomly.
  • Cats look luxuriously comfortable at rest.
  • A napping cat should be alert and responsive when something interesting happens. A sleeping cat will look a bit groggy when disturbed.
  • Cats withdraw rather than complain when they don’t feel well. So if your cat is not spending time in her usual places, she may have a problem. Consult your veterinarian and share your observations.

Action and Interaction

  • Know your cat’s typical daily activity. Does she greet you at the door, wake you in the morning, follow you to the bathroom, play with toys, play with housemates, groom, or watch outdoor activity from a window?
  • If you keep cat toys in a box, are they eventually found scattered around the house? If your cat is usually active, are the throw rugs rumpled and out of place when you get home?
  • Any change to your cat’s usual routine means you should do a little investigation and discuss the changes with your veterinarian.

Temperament

  • Your cat’s basic approach to life remains pretty consistent.  It is important to know whether your cat prefers to “run first ask questions later,” “boldly go where angels fear to tread,” “go along to get along,” or “take charge.”
  • Provide a sanctuary for a cautious cat and a “cat proof” environment for an adventurous trouble maker.

How to Pet & Handle Cats

We’ve gathered helpful information from our feline veterinarians on how to approach, handle, and pet cats as well as how best to deal with difficult cats.  These tips will help you to be more caring and respectful when it comes to handling cats.

Behavior Basicscanstockphoto11663661

  • How your cat interacts with you and other people depends on his disposition, past experiences, and the current circumstances.
  • Shy cats will adapt to unfamiliar people and environments with greater difficulty and are more likely to react fearfully in new situations.
  • Kittens go through a critical learning phase between the ages of 2 to 7 weeks, called the sensitive period of socialization. During this time, kittens learn to accept contact with other species, such as dogs and humans, as well as unrelated cats. By the time you adopt a kitten and bring it home, this period is usually finished.
  • Kittens who have not received regular friendly handling by humans during 2-7 weeks of age may remain uneasy with human contact all their lives.

How to Approach a Cat

  • When approaching your cat, it is best to let him make the first move and approach you.
  • Imagine yourself faced with a 50-foot-tall giant and then you can start to understand a cat’s perspective.
  • There are small things you can do to appear less intimidating:
    • Avoid loud noises and abrupt movements that might startle your cat.
    • Refrain from looming over him, since it makes you appear larger and potentially threatening. Instead sit down on the floor to put yourself at his level.
    • Try inviting your cat into your space instead of moving into his space.
    • Avoid chasing after your cat because this can cause him to become fearful, an experience that can negatively color future interactions with you.
  • Approaching an unfamiliar cat is always a potentially risky proposition since he is not familiar to you. Although the unknown cat might act friendly, a sudden noise or movement could trigger an aggressive response towards you.
  • When visiting someone’s home, it’s always good to inquire about their cat’s behavior towards strangers. If this cat is friendly towards strangers, put your fingers out for this cat to smell and approach you before attempting to pet him.
  • Do not approach an outdoor cat if you are not familiar with him. This will protect you from potential bites, scratches, and infectious diseases such as rabies and cat scratch disease.
  • If this unknown cat is allowed outdoors, there’s the added risk of transmission of infectious diseases to consider before having physical contact.
    • Rabies is a deadly viral disease that can be transmitted through a bite.
    • Upper respiratory viruses and feline distemper (feline panleukopenia virus) are not contagious to people, but can be carried on hands and clothes to potentially vulnerable cats at home.
    • Fleas and flea eggs can also hitch a ride on someone’s clothes or shoes.

Picking Up Cats

  • When you pick up your cat, he experiences a sudden loss of control and his entire sense of security is altered. Some cats – especially if fearful in a new environment or more anxious cats – should not be picked up if at all possible to avoid further stress to him and potential injury to you. Signs that your cat is stressed include: a tense body, dilated pupils, ears back, and hissing or crying out.
  • When you want or need to pick up your cat, you should always do your best to provide him with a sense of security while you’re handling him.
  • If your cat is feeling anxious or stressed, then he might struggle, potentially harming himself or you.
  • Different cats have varying levels of tolerance to being held by people. Unless necessary, try to limit handling to your cat’s tolerance level.
  • Instead of picking him up, entice your cat with treats or toys to get him where you want or need him to be.
  • If it is necessary to pick up your cat to put into a carrier or to remove from danger, have the carrier close by and calmly move towards your cat from behind or the side because coming from the front is often threatening. Carrier training prevents or greatly reduces the need to pick up your cat to put him into the carrier.
  • As a general rule, you should use both hands to pick up your cat. One hand should scoop up his behind while the other hand supports his front chest.
  • Limit the amount of time your cat is dangling mid-air and provide your cat with as much body contact as possible to hold him securely.
  • Avoid holding your cat in a death grip since this will cause anxiety.
  • Lifting your cat by the scruff is never recommended. Females only carry kittens by their scruff in the first few weeks of life. Although some cats don’t mind being scruffed, many find it stressful even if they do not struggle.Heavier cats might even find being lifted by the scruff painful.
  • The better you know your cat, the better you will be able to read his subtle body language and predict the right time to set him down again.
  • Your cat may respond negatively to odors, such as menthol or strong perfumes and will attempt to get away from these odors.

Petting Catsistock_000001214306medium-copy-2

  • Despite evolving as solitary hunters, cats are very social and will form colonies, or social groups, when resources (food, water, shelter) are abundant. Within a colony, cats rub against one another and groom each other to strengthen their bonds and to maintain a group odor for easier recognition. You engage in this behavior when you pet your cat.
  • When your cat rubs against you, this can sometimes be misinterpreted as a request for food. In some cases, overconsumption of food and weight gain may result from this miscommunication.
  • Most cats prefer to be touched on the head and neck. Your cat may become upset and even aggressive when people attempt to pet him in other areas.
  • Certain cats will become aroused when you pet them for extended periods of time. They will often nip or catch your hand with their claws in warning when they have reached their limit.
  • The best remedy is to avoid reaching that tipping point by reading the subtle cues in your cat’s body language. Your cat will go very still with only the tip of the tail twitching. His ears might be slightly lowered and to the sides and sometimes his back will ripple a bit.
  • If your cat is on someone’s lap and he is already upset, rather than attempting to pick up your cat it is best to simply get up and walk away.

What if my Cat Becomes Difficult to Handle?

  • As a species, cats are not well equipped  to handle conflict. Your cat will attempt to avoid an upsetting situation by running away and hiding. If this is not possible, your cat may become aggressive, even with you! If your cat becomes upset, he can remain so for hours and possibly days before calming down. Therefore, it is imperative to avoid triggering such stress whenever possible.
  • Do not insist on interacting with your upset cat as this may simply escalate his reactions. Instead simply remove yourself from the situation by going into another room and closing the door.
  • A fairly common cause of your cat becoming very upset is seeing an unfamiliar cat outdoors. It is important not to touch your cat in this situation, but rather try to distract him with loud noises or throwing a large blanket over your cat to distract him from the stressful situation. Remove yourself and any other animals from the room.
  • When your cat is calmer, reward the calmer behavior with treats or toys, and calm praise.
  • If your cat is already upset and the situation is not urgent, it is best to wait until your cat has completely calmed down before trying to handle him. If it is not possible to wait, such as a medical emergency, you should stack two thick bathroom towels on top of one another and use them to gently catch and wrap your upset cat up. Make sure to cover his head as well as the rest of his body. The towels provide you with protection and some cats will even calm down somewhat because the towels provide them with some cover.
  • Before you attempt to catch your upset cat, be sure to close the doors to rooms and block all potential hiding places.
  • Your cat may try to avoid being handled and may even become aggressive towards you for a number of reasons, including fear, pain, and illness. For example, most senior cats suffer from some degree of arthritis which can make regular handling and petting potentially painful.
  • Please discuss this with your veterinarian and ask for any additional assistance you might need to ensure you are handling your cat respectfully and in a cat-friendly manner.

 

PLAYING WITH YOUR CAT

Spray

Are you having an issue with your cat spraying urine around your house? We’ve got some explanations to this unpleasant, but natural cat behavior as well as some recommendations on how to address it in your home. Remember not to punish your cat for urine spraying. Punishment can lead to fear-related aggression, reduces the bond with your cat, and encourages your cat to urine mark in less conspicuous areas.

Spraying/Scent Marking

Cats use scent marking as a means of social communication – usually to keep other cats at a distance. Cats also have a phenomenal sense of smell. When we smell urine-spray, all we detect is ammonia. Cats can smell so much more: male or female; in heat or not; friend or foe; calm or afraid. You may also notice that your cat deposits urine, usually but not always, on a vertical surface, such as a wall. Your cat can also mark with feces, although this is less common.

Cats commonly urine-spray when they want or feel they need to mark their territory, when they feel threatened, or due to a medical condition. -Dr .Evelyn Richer, DVM

Reasons Why Cats Spray

  • Territorial/Natural Behavior
    • Cats commonly urine-spray when they want or feel they need to mark their territory. A cat’s territory is basically the area they’re prepared to defend. Another cat coming into or sharing that territory will know who the cat is and when she or he was there.
    • In the wild, a cat’s survival and hunting success depends on the integrity of its territory. Consequently cats are usually cautious and concerned about intrusions into their area, especially at certain times of the day such as dawn and dusk. As beloved household pets, cats are fed by their caregivers and they don’t need to hunt to survive, however they still have a strong drive to hunt and establish territories and ranges.
    • In your home, your cat is fed on a regular basis and your home becomes their safe core area within their territory. Your cat cannot have a complete view within your house and outside at the same time so, just like their wild ancestors, they scent mark.
  • Perceived Threat
    • Your cat might also mark when there is a perceived threat inside your home, such as new pets, strange and boisterous people, or remodeling noise and confusion.
    • Some territorial scent marking, (i.e. spraying, urination, defecation, and sometimes scratching) can be a sign that your cat does not feel safe.
    • Scent marking indoors is not a sign that your cat is “dirty,” but is a response to changes in emotional state and often happens when your cat feels threatened.
  • Litter Box Issues
    • If your cat urinates outside her litter box, she might not be spraying. Instead, she might not like something about her litter box. It might be too small or the location too noisy, or your cat might feel trapped by another cat.
    • The texture or smell of the cat litter might not be right: too much perfume or too dirty. Remember, cats have an exceptional sense of smell, what smells OK to us might smell horrible to them.
    • Your cat might also urinate outside the litter box because she is in pain or have come to associate their litter box with pain. They might have a strong urge to go but cannot get to the litter box fast enough. This is especially true for very young, very old cats, or cats with urinary system disease.
    • When a cat is not using the litter box, always consult your veterinarian to make sure there is not an underlying medical problem

Ways to Address Spraying/ Scent Marking

  • Consult a feline-friendly veterinarian to get information about the best way to determine why your cat is spraying or scent-marking inappropriately. This may include diagnostic testing to identify any medical issues.
  • Ensure that all of your cat’s needs are being met including safety, key resources, opportunity for play, positive social interaction with humans, and an environment that allows them to appropriately scent mark with their face and body.
  • You can look into neutering or spaying your cat. This will physiologically eliminate sexually-related marking behavior. You should consult with your veterinarian to see if this is recommended for your cat and this situation.
  • Reduce the possibility that other cats may be encroaching on your cat’s territory and triggering this marking behavior.
    • Tip: If your cat is an indoor-only cat, you can look into using motion activated water sprinklers to make your yard unattractive to other cats.
    • Tip: Lay plastic carpet protectors upside down in front of sliding glass doors to create an uncomfortable surface. This may dissuade other cats from sitting close to your house and intimidating your cat.
    • Tip: Remove or block all cat doors that allow other roaming cats to enter your home. Use microchip or magnet operated devices to only allow access to your cat.
  • Continuously clean any urine-marked areas. This will reduce your cat’s habit of refreshing their scent on the marking site. You can use a black light (UV) to find soiled areas. Make sure to clean the soiled areas with a good quality urine odor and stain remover according to the type of surface that your cat has soiled. Be sure to test the products on an inconspicuous area first, and clean a sufficiently large area to remove the odor, which may be up to three times of the size of the soiled area. You should avoid using any ammonia-based cleaners, because they smell like urine to your cat.
  • Consider using synthetic pheromones which can be comforting and reinforce your cat’s sense of security.