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When Cats Hate Each Other

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It’s been one of those nights. Katie and Sizzle had a heated discussion about … well, only they know what they were disagreeing about before Katie turned on her heels and stalked off into another room. Then, Ginger got so annoyed with Belle, she disappeared into the woods, leaving Belle confused and alone outside our door.

My cats have their moments, and I think Katie and Sizzle really do not like each other. But they’ve managed to arrange their lives so they can live happily and in peace with each other, at least most of the time.

But not all cats are so fortunate. Some truly hate each other. And what do they do then? It’s not like mismatched cats can get a divorce.


Subdividing The Turf

I used to pet sit for some cats who hated each other so much they had to live on separate levels of their home. When Lucy and Junior met at the baby gate that divided their territories, they only wanted to kill each other.

Then there was Grace, who lived her entire life on the second floor of her house, separated from the other cats in the family by three baby gates stacked on top of each other at the bottom of the stairs. Three more were stacked at the top.

Despite the blockade, one of the cats sometimes managed to get to the second floor to attack her. I was so afraid Broadway would hurt her, I closed her into the master bedroom when I was pet sitting because I couldn’t be there 24/7 to supervise. 

The separate but equal living arrangements seemed to work well for the cats, even if they were a bit inconvenient for the people. Grace appeared to be happy, as long as Broadway wasn’t vaulting over the baby gates to start a fight. And Lucy and Junior always seemed satisfied with their living arrangements, too. 

Turning Newcomers Into Friends

Broadway and Lucy lived in their houses for a long time before Grace and Junior came along. Unfortunately for newcomers, cats can be very protective of their territory and don’t always welcome new family members when they first move in. That’s why proper introductions are so important

But there are other things you can do to help the cats associate each other with pleasant experiences and learn to like each other, too. Here are some suggestions.

  • Feed the cats together. Nothing says friendship more than sharing a meal. 
  • Give them both special treats. Halo Liv-a-Littles and PureBites are very special.
  • Play with them both with a wand or fishing pole toy. They might form a tag team and work together to catch the toy on the end of the string.
  • If they enjoy being brushed, brush them together. They’ll feel relaxed and content in each other’s presence.
  • Just sit and talk to them, and pet them while you’re talking. Most cats love it when their people do nothing except enjoy their company. 

You can do all of these, even if the new cat is in her own room separated from the others by baby gates. If you feed them together, put the bowls of food close to the gates on either side. When the cats are done eating, put the resident cat’s bowl back in its usual place, and move the new cat’s further into her room. You don’t want them to be afraid to finish their meals because you’re not there to provide reassurance. 

Don’t…

  • Force the cats to be together when they don’t want anything to do with each other at the moment.
  • Intervene unless it’s absolutely necessary. Expect some hissing and growling. That’s how cats establish the new rules of the household.
  • Let them fight. If you see a fight brewing separate the cats by clapping your hands loudly or tossing some toys or treats across the room to distract them. One ugly fight could sour their relationship for life. 

Setting Them Up For Success

​Even cats who are close friends need their own space. Your resident cat and her new friend will be happiest and most likely to get along if they have at least two litter boxes in different locations. Also give them a water bowl in a second location. You want them to be able to get to the necessities without having to deal with each other if they’re not in the mood. 

All cats appreciate having high places for napping and watching the world go by, but that’s especially important when you live with more than one cat. High places, like floor-to-ceiling cat trees, provide an opportunity for each cat to have additional personal space. 

But The Cats Still Hate Each Other

When cats hate each other, one might be happier in a different home.© Tseytlin – Fotolia.com

You’ve done everything you can, and the cats are still not getting along. If one decides she really does not like the others in her family, there’s not much you can do to change her mind. Sometimes the personalities just don’t match. And some cats are unwilling to share their homes and lives with other cats.

You could divide your house into separate living quarters as my clients did. But a happier solution might be to rehome the new cat. Sometimes showing your love and respect for a cat is knowing when to say goodbye.

Of course, this is easier said than done, especially if you adore the cat. I know this from personal experience because Ginger was so miserable when she first came here, I tried to rehome her. My heart was breaking, but I wanted what was best for her. Happily for me, and I hope for her, the right adopter never came along, and four years later, she’s still here. 

She’s fiercely independent and resourceful, and she’s figured out how to create a lifestyle that’s absolutely perfect for her. But not all cats are as independent and resourceful as she is. And not all cats are able to go outside so they can get far, far away from their annoying or frightening family members. For them, an amicable divorce is often the best option.

Since I started writing this, Ginger has reappeared from the woods, and she and Belle are thinking about how they want to spend the rest of the evening, although they might not spend it together. Sometimes Ginger loves hanging out with her family members; other times she prefers to be by herself in the woods. For her, it’s all about the freedom to make choices, but that’s the way it is with all cats.

One of those choices should be the ability to move on if a cat and her housemates don’t get along. You wouldn’t want to share a home with someone you despise, and neither do out cats!


Can Cats Predict Floods And Natural Disasters?

Do cats know when it's going to rain?juliasudnitskaya – Fotolia.com

Can cats really predict natural disasters and get out of harm’s way? I’ve been hoping against hope that they can since last weekend when the historic district of the town next to ours was devastated by the worst flood in its very long history.

Cars were upended by the rushing water, and historic buildings were destroyed. People escaped from flooding restaurants by climbing up ladders into attics and making their way across rooftops to safety. 

But what about the town cats? Did they

make their way to safety? Cats — and all animals — have ways of knowing disaster is coming, so I’m praying the answer is yes.


How Cats Know When It’s Going To Rain

It would be fun to think our cats have a sixth sense that warns them when disaster is about to strike. But it’s a bit more complicated than that. And no one really knows for sure how cats and other animals know when it’s going to rain or how they can predict natural disasters, like earthquakes.

One theory suggests that cats know a storm is coming because they feel changes in the barometric pressure. That could be the reason why some rub their faces and behind their ears before a storm. The low pressure could be uncomfortable and rubbing a paw across the face or behind the ears might relieve some of that discomfort. 

Another theory is that cats can smell rain coming from miles away. And a third is that they can hear thunder, or perhaps the sound of rushing water, long before we can.

Furry Forecasters

Cats are believed to be such good weather forecasters, fishermen and sailors have been calling on them to predict the weather for hundreds of years. They see cats rubbing a paw across their faces or behind their ears or trying to jump ship as a warning that bad weather is on the way. 

Apparently, not all cats are such good weather forecasters, though. The night the town next to us flooded, we had three inches of rain here (they got more than six inches). My cats sat under a huge bush and waited for it to go away. When they finally agreed to come inside, they were perfectly dry, but I was drenched.

I pray that the Ellicott City cats were paying more attention to their inner forecasters than my cats were and got to high ground in time. And all of us are praying for the business owners and residents of the historic district. It will take months to repair the damage, and in the meantime, all of us will be doing everything we can to help.

To find out how you can help Ellicott City’s flood victims, visit the Howard County Government Facebook page.

The Ways We Love Our Cats

Soda, an orange and white tuxedo cat, shows his love by walking with me outside.Soda — Photo by Christine Krebs

A few weeks ago, I received an anonymous and hurtful email from someone who calls herself nikkin515@aim.com. One of my cats is missing, and she (I’m assuming nikkin515@aim.com is a woman) just had to tell me that if I really loved my cats, I’d keep them inside. 

All of us show love to our cats in different ways. I show love to my cats by thinking of them as equals in our family. I don’t have status above them, and they don’t have status above me. We all make different, but equally valuable, contributions to our household. 

To me, love means letting my family members make their own decisions, even if their decisions are sometimes worrisome to me. After all, they’re adults, and they’re intelligent and a lot more resourceful than I am. So if spending time outside makes them happy and keeps them healthy, I’m willing to respect that decision.

​Of course, we do have an indoor/outdoor schedule and routine because we all need some structure in our lives. And there are some things I know about this world that’s controlled by humans that they don’t. So it’s my responsibility to help them stay safe. But that’s my responsibility indoors, too.

The interesting thing about this is that they also feel responsible for helping me stay safe. That’s Soda’s job. He goes with me when I take out the trash and walks with me when I pet sit in our community to make absolutely certain that I don’t get lost. 

I guess diffeent cats show their love for their people in different ways, too.


How Do You Love Your Cats?

Nikkin515@aim.com said her cat is “well-loved,” and she shows her love by keeping the cat indoors. That wouldn’t be my choice, but decisions about her cat’s lifestyle are between her and her cat.

She also said her cat is well cared for, and I imagine that means the cat gets “annual shots,” has a bottomless bowl of dry food and uses an always-clean covered litter box filled to the brim with perfumed litter. Aside from the clean box, those wouldn’t be my choices either. But who’s to say I’m right and she’s wrong? Again, decisions about the cat’s lifestyle are between her and her cat. And if the cat isn’t happy with the decisions, I’m sure she’ll let her human know.

If I were to judge the lifestyles people choose for their cats, I couldn’t work as a cat sitter. Over the years, I’ve learned to keep my thoughts to myself unless I’m asked. 

How We Should All Love Our Cats

​While the ways I show love for my cats may be different from yours, there are some things we should all do to show our cats how much we love them.

  • Share your space. Remember, it’s your cats’ house, too. Put their litter boxes, scratching posts and food in places that are convenient for them, even if those places are slightly inconvenient for you.
  • Accommodate your cat’s needs. For instance, if your cat wants to go out but you want him to stay in, see if you can work out a compromise. Maybe going out on a harness and leash would work for both of you.
  • Make life interesting. This is especially important if your cats live strictly indoors. Even if you crave complete privacy, leave some blinds and curtains open so they can see outside. Open at least one window daily so they can get some fresh air, invest in a floor-to-ceiling cat tree so they can indulge their natural instinct to climb and be up high, and give them stimulating toys and treat balls to keep them active and engaged in life.

Show Your Love For ‘Stray’ Cats By Helping Them Go Home

My beloved Boccelli is still missing, and with every passing day I become more desperate to find him. I miss him so much, my heart is shattered in a million pieces. I would do anything to get my boy back.

By now, I assume someone (nikkin515@aim.com?) has him inside. She (or he) decided her way of showing love to cats is better than mine, so she’s holding him captive indoors. But showing love to cats also means respecting their wishes, and Boccelli hates being inside. He’ll get out eventually, and when he does I pray he’ll either find his way home or let me know where he is so I can go get him.

Here’s something else to think about: When you show love to cats, also show some love and kindness to other people who love them. If you find a “stray” cat assume s/he’s lost, not abandoned, and help him go home, even if you might not approve of the way he lives. After all, who’s to say that you’re absolutely right and his family is absolutely wrong?

Take him to be scanned for a microchip (Boccelli has one). Post him as a found cat in the Pets and Lost and Found sections on Craig’s List.  Put up some found cat fliers in your neighborhood and adjoining neighborhoods. And look for lost cat fliers, too. Helping a lost cat find his way home is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. It’s even more rewarding than “rescuing” a cat who’s outside and making him or her yours when all he wants to do is go home. 

Boccelli, a black and white tuxedo cat. All of us have different ways of showing love to our cats.

Have you seen Boccelli? Call or text 410-530-6538. Reward!

Cat Ladies Forever

Cat ladies forever© John Takai – Fotolia.com

I admit it. I’m a “cat lady” through and through. I love and admire cats for their independence, their resourcefulness and their grace. Nothing makes me feel more at peace than spending a few minutes just sitting quietly with a cat. And while many people would think this is odd, most of my closest friends are cats. I enjoy their company and love the time I spend with them.I realize not everyone feels the way I do, but I was still surprised and sad to read this news. Cat ladies are going to the dogs!

Friends For Life – How To Socialize A Shy Cat

Belle, no longer a shy cat

It’s been three years since Belle came into my life, a tiny, scared kitten from a horrible, high-kill “shelter” in North Carolina. She was supposed to go to my rescue group’s shelter, but I couldn’t imagine such a terrified little one living with 16 other cats. Besides, even at six months, she was a world-class hider, and I was afraid we’d never see her. Oh, and there was another reason she stayed here, too. We fell in love the second we met. But I had to find her first.

For three days, Belle hid on the top shelf of a large walk-through closet between my bedroom and bathroom. I had to stand on a step ladder and feel around in all the bedding stored on the shelf to even touch her. She came down to eat and use her litter box when I wasn’t around, but then she went back to her shelf.

I suppose I could have gotten her down and closed her into the bathroom where she couldn’t hide. But over the years, I’ve discovered that I can’t force a cat to trust me or be my friend. Like all relationships, friendships with cats have to be built on mutual affection and trust and building affection and trust often takes time


Shy Cats Deserve Homes, Too

Belle’s shyness almost cost her her life. At shelters, it’s the friendly cats bursting with personality and rubbing against every hand within reach who go home first. Not many people notice the shy, scared cats like Belle hiding in the backs of their cages. And even if they do, they want an instant buddy, not an introvert.

But if you have the patience and love, turning a very timid cat into a brave, confident friend is one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. Over the years, I’ve befriended many shy cats, and this way has always worked for me.

  • When you bring your cat home, set her up in her own room with a comfy bed, litter box, food and toys. Make sure it’s a nice room with sunny windows so she can see outside. Get rid of the clutter in the closet and under the bed! She’ll want a place to hide, but if she’s wedged between storage boxes, you won’t be able to have any contact with her at all.
  • Put up a screen door or stack baby gates at the door. It’s important for her to know there’s a whole world waiting for her to explore when she’s ready. And complete isolation behind a closed door can just build anxiety.
  • Put Rescue Remedy in her water. It will take the edge off her fearfulness.
  • Visit often. Even if she insists on staying under the bed at first, she’ll get used to having you around and will appreciate your company. Don’t try to touch her if she doesn’t want you to. Sit on the floor, so you’re not towering over her, and read or listen to soft music.
  • Give her treats. Put some under the bed for her, so she associates you with something she really likes. As she comes to trust you, make a trail of treats from her hiding place into the room. If you do this a few times, she should eat her way from under the bed to you.
  • Speak her language. Blinking at her tells her you love her and want to be her friend. Looking her straight in the eye sends an aggressive message. She’ll think you want to fight! Reach out to her with your palm down so she can sniff your fingers. But don’t try to touch her. Let her touch you first.
  • Play. Put a long shoelace or wand or fishing pole toy under the bed and drag it out into the room. Cats love to chase things that wiggle and squirm, and when she’s feeling brave enough, she’ll follow it into the room.
  • When you become friends and she trusts you, take down the baby gates or screen door so she can venture out of her room. But don’t force her to leave. She’ll come out when she’s ready. And don’t pick her up and put her down in another part of the house. Cats create signposts for themselves with the scent glands in their front paw pads and cheeks. If she can’t create signposts, she could become very frightened because she won’t know how to get back to her safe room.

Convincing a shy cat to love and trust you could take days or even weeks. But you’ll find that it’s worth every minute because the bond you create with the cat will be one you’ll never forget.

Make Her Everyone’s Friend

After you and your cat have become close friends, it’s time to help her develop friendships with everyone else. She’ll be happier and safer if she’s not a one-person cat. After all, she’s going to have to deal with vets, cat sitters and house guests throughout her life.

Leave a television or radio on so she can get used to the sounds of different voices. And invite your friends over to visit your cat. Ask them to follow the same process you used. Tell them talk to her but not touch her until she approaches them and make sure they have lots of treats to offer as an incentive for her to come close.

My Brave Belle

Belle - how I socialized my cat

Belle is nearly four years old now, but she still looks like a kitten. She’s a tiny “torbi” with the cutest squeaky purr. Her favorite things to do are play in the woods with her friend, Boccelli, and go for walks with the other cats and me. She’ll never be a social butterfly and rub against the legs of every person she meets. But it’s good for cats to be cautious.

Her transformation from terrified kitten to confident cat took nearly a year. For the first week she was here, I spent evenings on the floor in my closet reading and tossing treats in her direction. She sat in her bed on the vanity in the bathroom watching me and happily eating the treats. Then, one evening, she ate her way from the vanity to my lap, and we’ve been cuddle buddies ever since.
But there was another hurdle to overcome. Belle was used to small spaces and wouldn’t venture beyond my closet doorway. Gradually, she began to chase a toy out of the closet into my bedroom, then into a hallway and finally into the living room. This took three weeks!

When she was comfortable in the living room, we started going out on the balcony. But if she heard a noise or saw people walking on the path behind our condo, she ran back inside. It took her nearly a month to realize that the people on the path couldn’t possibly come close to her on the balcony.

She loves the balcony now and could sleep out there on her favorite chair for hours, no matter what’s going on beneath her. She’s come a long, long way from that terrified shelter cat. I’m so proud of her, and I imagine she’s very proud of herself!


Today’s Recommendation
Belle loves Liv-A-Littles treats.
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What Were The Most Popular Cat Names In 2015?

Beautiful white cat with blue eyeskasto – Fotolia.com

The results are in, and the most popular cat names in 2015 were… Bella and Charlie! Really? I rarely fit in with the crowd, but my feral cat is Charlie, and I live with a petite little house cat named Belle. Does that count? Maybe not, since we left off the “a” when she and I decided on her name.

If anyone has a good handle on companion animal names, it’s Veterinary Pet Insurance (now Nationwide pet insurance). Every year, staffers dig through the records of the company’s 550,000 insured animals to find the most popular and most unusual names. 

While Bella has been the most popular name for female cats for 10 years, other names are now climbing to the top of the list.
Many people name their cats for favorite characters in books and movies. But millennials, it seems, have different heroes and heroines than the rest of us. 

“Our data shows that the next generation of pet owners is using different methods and references” to name their animal companions says Curtis Steinhoff, director of pet insurance communications for Nationwide.

Darn. I really like the way some of these soon-to-be-passe names sound. Along with Bella, the most popular cat names in 2015 were Max, Oliver, Chloe, Lucy, Lily, Charlie, Sophie, Tiger and Shadow.

Among the most unusual were Leonardo DiCatprio, Sophistikitty, Sir Theodorable Purrsalot, Dudley Dowrong, Fuzzbucket, Ms.Tuftytoes and Rumblemuffin.


What’s In A (Cat) Name

Except for Belle, all of my cats came with their names. I never would have named a cat Soda L’Orange! It’s sort of embarrassing to stand on the sidewalk yelling, “Soda! Come eat!,” but my neighbors are used to the name now and have stopped either giggling or feeling sorry for the cat with the silly name.

I didn’t change Soda’s name when he came here because I’ve never been very good at choosing cat names. But if you’re adopting a cat, or if you’ve just adopted one, it’s okay to change the cat’s name. Many people think a new name represents a fresh start as the cat begins a new and happier life.

So here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re thinking about names for your new cat.

  • Choose a name you can say with love and respect. Even if your cat has just moved in from outside and smells to high heaven, resist the urge to call him something like Stinker. Cats pick up on our thoughts, and every time he hears the name Stinker, he’ll get the image of a dirty, smelly cat.
  • Keep it short. Sir Theodorable Purrsalot is cute, but that’s a lot of words and syllables to say when you’re calling someone in to dinner. If you and the cat really want a long name, come up with a short call version that he’ll recognize and that you can say quickly.
  • Pick a name that will last a lifetime. Baby fits a kitten, but when your cat’s a dignified adult, she’s not going to appreciate being called a baby. Again, cats pick up on our thoughts and the mental images we send them.
  • Cats seem to like the sound of “s” and usually respond well to names that end with “eee.”

It’s The Thought That Counts

I’ve always wondered what cats call themselves and each other. I’m pretty sure Soda’s friends don’t call him Soda L’Orange! And maybe it’s not the name that matters as much as the way we way it. So when I stand on the sidewalk and say, “Soda! Come eat,” maybe he hears the love in my voice as much as the name. And “come eat” always gets his attention. He’s a boy who really likes his food!
Today’s Recommendation
This book sounds like fun.
Cat Names book

Finding Help For Sick Cats Online

Cat with red eyes, finding help for sick cats onlineFotolia.com

Some friends had a terrible tragedy a couple of weeks ago. They lost one of their community cats to feline leukemia. He was one of those very special, once-in-a-lifetime cats, a gift from the universe to the people who were lucky enough to be his close friends. He touched their lives in amazing ways, and I know they will always love him and miss him.

During a life that was much too short, my friends’ cat had many health challenges. But the feline leukemia was an unexpected blow, and they were desperate for information.

When they asked me, I didn’t have much information to share because I’ve had very little experience with this dreaded disease. So I suggested my friends do the same thing I advise everyone with a very sick cat to do: “Go online and do a lot of research because the vets don’t always get it right.”


They’re Not Vets, But…

My favorite online resources for health information are the condition-specific email lists and the websites written by laypeople, not veterinarians. By the time I’ve processed the bad news that my cat is very, very sick, I’ve already heard enough vet-speak. I’ve been told the prognosis (always grim) and heard about the treatment options, none of which sound very encouraging because they’ve been explained in a language I don’t really understand. My head is spinning with information, but none of it seems to fit into neat, actionable pieces. So I go online hoping for help as I try to sort it all out only to find more of the same. And that’s where the websites written by laypeople and the email lists come in.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against vets. Well, maybe I do, but that’s not the purpose of this post. And not everyone who writes online will give you reliable, correct information. As the saying goes, “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet.” It’s always a good idea to discuss the information you find online with your vet. I’m very fortunate that mine is open to new ideas and considering things she hadn’t thought of. If yours isn’t, I’d urge you to find someone else.

For many of the chronic health issues that plague our cats, there are laypeople who have done, and continue to do, endless research because they’re passionate about helping cats. Usually, they’re people whose cats had the disease they’re writing about. When their vets’ treatment plans didn’t work, they struck out on their own to find the solutions they needed. The result is huge bodies of knowledge gathered from many sources and sometimes after some trial and error.

Self-Made Experts

Unlike vets, who treat many species and illnesses and can’t possibly know everything there is to know about all of them, the laypeople make themselves experts on one specific condition. If you want to know about the newest treatments, you’ll might find out about them on the websites, before you hear about them in the vet’s office. These are large websites with way too many pages to read in one sitting. But chances are, your cat’s condition is going to last for a long time, so you can digest the information in bits and pieces and use it as you need it.

To put your mind at ease, there’s usually at least one vet in the background to advise and fact check. But unlike the veterinarians’ own websites, these sites are written in language we all understand and provide information in actionable pieces. Some of the sites I like best and rely on most include…

These are my go-to websites written by veterinarians.

  • Cat Info.org. Look here for everything you need to know about feline nutrition. This is important information and well worth the read.
  • 2ndchance.info: I just like the way this doc writes. He manages to avoid vet-speak while providing lots of information, and he usually sounds optimistic about what to do to help the cat.
  • Veterinary Partner.com: This site is written by the experts who contribute to the Veterinary Information Network, a veterinary database and community for vets. The articles don’t bog you down with all the teeny, tiny details, but provide all the information you need about specific conditions and treatments.
  • DVM360: DVM360 is a group of publications for veterinarians. The articles for owners are written by professional journalists and veterinarians who are experts in their specialties. There’s no vet-speak here, just articles that are well done and provide information you need and can use.
  • Little Big Cat: Holistic veterinarian Jean Hofe writes this site. Look here for alternatives to conventional medicine.

The Office Is Always Open

While I love the websites written by laypeople, the disease-specific email lists are my favorites. Like the people who write the websites, there are list members who have studied and researched and made themselves experts on the list’s topic. And over the years, they’ve seen hundreds of cats online, so what may seem unusual to your vet is common to them.

Online, the office is open 24/7, so if you have a question or need reassurance in the middle of the night, someone on the list will be there to help.

These are some of the email lists I read and use. Over the years, some of them have saved my cats’ lives.

Do you have a favorite condition-specific website or email list? Post it in the comments below, and I’ll add it to this list.

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Nature of Animal Healing Book

Cats Can Keep Older Adults Healthy

Older adult holding a cat© Budimir Jevtic – Fotolia.com

I was happy to hear about a new study showing that living with cats and dogs is good for older adults’ health. But then I read excerpts from the study, and it seems to be mostly about dogs!

How disappointing. It confirmed my suspicions, once again, that although more people share their homes with cats than dogs, we are living in a Black Lab World.

Not that I mind sharing my world with black and yellow labs and other canine friends. But I was disappointed that the study didn’t give equal attention to the health benefits of living with cats.

I’m no spring chicken, and I wanted to know why having all these cats rubbing around my feet and sitting on my lap while I’m trying to type is good for me.

So without benefit of scientific research, I’d like to list just a few reasons why I think cats are good for my health.


  • Like people walking dogs, I get exercise walking with my cats. Okay, so walking with cats isn’t exactly power walking. We have to stop every few minutes and wait for someone to climb a tree or chase a bug. But even strolling is exercise, isn’t it? 
  •  Also like people walking dogs, I socialize with neighbors while I’m walking with my cats. Usually the conversation is limited to, “Are those cats walking with you?” “Well, yes they are. We love to walk together.” Bemused look. End of conversation. But still… conversation is conversation. 
  •  I sleep better with cats on my bed. Katie purrs in my ear, and Muffitt licks my hand until one of us falls asleep. But then, everyone knows cats are way better than sleeping pills. 

I did some research and here are some more ways living with cats improves older adults’ health.

  • The companionship of a cat can help older adults overcome loneliness and depression. 
  • Caring for a cat can give an older person who lives alone a sense of purpose. “Because cats need us to care for them by scooping their boxes, feeding them and giving them fresh water, cats get us up and moving whether we want to or not,” the American Humane Association says on its website. 
  • Cat care also requires a daily routine, something that might be missing in an older adult’s life. 
  • Several studies show that living with cats really does lower blood pressure. 
  • This is interesting: Even people who are allergic to cats tend to become less allergic as they get older. 

The excerpts of the study I read suggested some areas that need further research. One was helping older adults find the resources they need to help them keep their cats and dogs when caring for them becomes difficult. That’s something for rescue groups and shelters with teams of volunteers to think about.

Just like it takes a village to raise a child, it might take a village to keep companion animals in their homes and older adults healthy and happy.

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This stand-up scoop makes litter box chores easy.

For Love Of Community Cats

Feral Tabby Cat Face

After what felt like a very long weekend, my beloved feral Charlie cat is back outside sporting an ear tip and, although it’s not visible to anyone, that all-important microchip. His date at the spay/neuter clinic was long overdue, and getting him there took help from many friends. Sometimes it takes a village, or a community of people who care, to help our feral friends.

Charlie’s a gentle soul and very smart. He eluded my traps many times. But this weekend, we had lots of help. A friend borrowed a drop trap from one of her friends. And when another friend tried to help me trap him with no luck, she came to Charlie’s patch of woods and pulled the string on the trap to close it while he was inside. Yet another friend drove him to his early morning appointment at the spay/neuter clinic because, night person that I am, I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up on time.

He could have gone to a closer clinic. But a fourth friend runs the one I chose. I trust her and the vet who does her surgeries to take good care of the cats while they’re at the clinic. Besides, although she hadn’t met him until Sunday, she is part of Charlie’s community.

Community Cats ‘Belong’ To All Of Us
Years ago, free-roaming cats were called strays. People thought of them as homeless, and they were pretty much left to their own devices unless they were lucky enough to come across a kind human who was willing to give them daily meals.

But a lot has changed in the last 10 years or so. Now we trap/neuter/return because we know that’s the most effective and humane solution to the feral cat “problem.” And we no longer think of free-roaming cats as homeless. We realize they have homes in the woods behind our own homes, in shopping center parking lots and in the alleys of our cities.

​​Something else that has changed is the way we care for them. While just one person may feed a free-roaming cat or an entire colony, we’ve come to realize that they “belong” to the entire community, and it’s the entire community’s responsibility to keep an eye on them to make sure they’re safe, healthy and not being a nuisance.


Although no one can touch Charlie, my neighbors let me know when he shows up on their patios. When I didn’t see him for days, they helped me look for him. He is truly a community cat. ​People love him and watch for him, although they can’t get near him.

We have other trapped/neutered/returned community cats in this neighborhood, too. Neighbors let them use their patios for their cold weather shelters and feeding stations.​ They see them as a group responsibility.

Advocating For Community Cats
It took a couple of years for our neighbors to accept our free-roaming cats as part of the community. They thought all cats belong inside. They were concerned about our cats in the winter, although they have heavily insulated cold weather shelters. They said the cats annoyed their dogs when they were going for walks. And most of all, they worried that there would be more kittens, or that the cats would attract more cats.

In the end, it was time and the cats themselves that won them over. ​But these are some of the myths and objections we overcame before they came to see the cats as theirs as well as ours.
Myth: Cats belong inside. 
Fact: Not all cats can live successfully indoors. And feral cats belong outside. They’re afraid of humans and live their lives in constant fear indoors in close proximity to people. Would you force a raccoon or squirrel to live indoors? Then why would you want to do that to a wild cat?
Myth: The cats’ food will attract more cats, rodents and other animals.
Fact: ​​​ A stable colony of trapped/neutered/returned cats generally runs off other cats, so newcomers will not be welcome at the cats’ feeding station. The other animals, like raccoons, are there anyway. The cats’ food won’t attract more. And about those rodents. Cats eat rodents!
Myth: If you relocate the cats to homes or barns, everyone will be happy.
Fact: When one group of cats vacates a food source, another group comes. Relocation rarely works and hardly ever creates a cat-free zone forever.
Myth:
 The cats will kill all the birds.
Fact:
Most cats are specialists and like to hunt for either mice or birds. Most prefer mice because they’re better suited to the cat’s stalk/watch/pounce hunting style.​​​​
Objection: They’ll fight all night and keep us awake.
Fact:
Most cats hate to fight and will avoid a physical confrontation at all costs. And neutered cats rarely fight.
Objection: They’ll use our flower beds as litter boxes and sit on our cars.
Fact: True, but scent and electronic deterrents can discourage them from doing both. ​​​​While our community cats and neighbors were getting used to each other, we used many scent and electronic deterrents!

Do you advocate for community cats? Here are more talking points. And here’s some information on what to do if you find a cat outside.

All’s Well That Ends Well
Like most cats, Charlie lives very much in the present, and his long weekend is now but a distant memory. He met me at the beginning of the path leading to his feeding station today, and we walked together into the woods. Then I sat with him while he ate. I love my time with him in the woods. Although I can’t touch him, we’re close friends, and the few minutes we spend together each day are very special for both of us.

Today’s Recommendation
This is my favorite outdoor cat deterrent.

Are Cats Allergic To People?

Long-Haired Calico Cat Face© wildshots4u – Fotolia.com

If you’re sneezing and your eyes are itching, you might be more likely to blame the cat than all that pollen drifting around outside. But when your cat coughs and sneezes, does he blame you? Maybe he should because cats, some veterinarians say, can be allergic to people.

It’s estimated that one in six Americans is allergic to cats, dogs or both. How many cats are allergic to people? No one seems to know for sure. But in allergy testing cats and dogs in his practice, one veterinarian found that about five-10 percent have an allergic reaction to human dander.


Human dander? That would be flakes of skin and hair that land everyplace, including on the cat.

It’s not the dander itself that causes humans to be allergic to cats. The real culprit is fel d 1, a glycoprotein that’s found in cats’ saliva and is also secreted by the sebaceous glands. Those glands are located at the base of the hair follicles and are the oily lubricants that keep the skin supple.

As cats groom themselves, they cover their bodies with the fel d 1 in their saliva, and those tiny but potent glycoprotiens drift all over everywhere, sticking to clothing, curtains, rugs and even walls.

While there have been many studies on why humans are allergic to cats, few scientists have looked at why some cats are allergic to humans. But veterinarian Nicki Reed and other researchers at the University of Edinburgh’s Hospital for Small Animals looked at the causes of asthma in cats and came up with a list that includes human dandruff, household dust and cigarette smoke.

Dusty, scented cat litter was another culprit. Reed told National Geographic News the number of cats with asthma is increasing as more and more cats are kept inside and are unable to escape the irritants that cause those coughing spells.

If your cat has asthma, just making some changes in his environment might be all he needs to feel better. In addition to household dust and cigarette smoke, these are some common triggers of asthma in cats.

  • Scented, dusty cat litter 
  • Cleaning products 
  • Perfumed laundry detergents 
  • Perfume and hair spray Dryer sheets 
  • Carpet fresheners 
  • Air fresheners 
  • Scented candles 
  •  Feather pillows 
  • Ragweed, grass and tree pollens 
  • Mold 
  • Fireplace smoke 

Cats between the ages of two and eight are the most likely to develop asthma, and female cats are twice as likely to become asthmatic as male cats are. Siamese and Himalayan breeds seem to get asthma more often than other breeds.

It’s been years since I’ve used commercial cleaning products or air fresheners or burned scented candles because I know they can be toxic to cats. It make sense that they could also cause asthma.

But it never occurred to me that cats could be allergic to human dander until I stumbled across an article online. Not sure what to do about that. Cats shed, and apparently humans do, too.

Today’s Recommendation
My cats love this litter, and it creates no dust.