Cat Advice | Paws and Effect Advice by cats, for cats and their people Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:57:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Can I Get My Cat to Like Her Carrier? Sun, 02 Aug 2015 14:57:58 +0000 [...] ]]> A tabby cat lies down in a plastic carrier. Photo taken through the wire carrier door.

Photo CC-BY-SA pjmorse

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I had to take my cat to the vet and as she hates the carrier, I had to trap her in the kitchen and grab her. Since then she will not come into the house even for food. She just runs when she sees me or my husband and hides, staying out all day. What can I do?

~ Sarah

Thomas: Well, Sarah, your first trick is going to be to get your cat inside. Then you’re going to want to get her used to the carrier.

Bella: Did you know the most common reason people don’t take their cats to the vet is because they get stressed out over getting their cats into the carrier, into a car, and to the clinic?

Thomas: But regular vet care is so important in keeping your cat healthy that it’s crucial you get her used to the carrier before you need to grab her and get her to the kitty doctor.

Bella: So … to get her inside, you’re going to need to enlist the aid of a person your cat likes and who isn’t afraid to safely restrain your cat if needed to get her back in the house. You’ll also need to make sure she can’t get out again once she’s in, and for this purpose you may need a room with a door that closes. This room should have some of your cat’s favorite things — her bed, some toys, maybe a cat tree or scratch post — as well as a litter box, food and water dishes.

Thomas: Your friend should want to spend some time outdoors in your yard. He or she should be out there with a can of your cat’s favorite food (or if he’s not used to eating canned food, something really smelly like cheap tuna-flavored cat food is great temptation for a nervous and hungry cat) or her favorite treats.

Bella: Your cat could be at least as nervous about being outdoors as she is about you, so your friend should slowly coax your cat into his or her lap, then pick her up and restrain her as he or she brings her inside to the room you’ve set up.

Thomas: Keep her in that room for a couple of days until she settles back into her indoor life, and be sure to visit her regularly. If she won’t come to you, just hang out in the room and read, watch TV or play on your laptop if you have one. Get her used to your company again. She will come around.

Bella: After this, keep her indoors. It’s the safest thing for your kitty — she doesn’t run the risk of encountering predators, angry cats, road traffic or humans who might not have her best interests at heart.

Thomas: Now, about the carrier. First, you may need to get a new carrier so she doesn’t associate it with the trauma of the old one. Make sure it’s big enough for your cat to stand, sit and lie down in.

Bella: Just leave the carrier out in the house. Take the door off if it’s a plastic carrier. Make it a piece of cat furniture. Put a comfortable blanket or towel in it and spray the interior with some Feliway to attract her into the carrier.

Thomas: The more the carrier becomes just another piece of furniture, the less threatening it will be to your cat.

Bella: Put a couple of her favorite treats in the carrier so she goes into it to get those treats. Keep doing this for as long as it takes for your cat to comfortably settle in. This may take a few weeks.

Thomas: Once she’s comfortable going into the carrier and staying there, put the door back on. Be sure it stays open. Leave it like this for a while, until she’s comfortably sitting in it again.

Bella: Spray more Feliway into the carrier while your cat’s not inside, then close the door while she’s in there. Don’t latch the door — open it right back up before she gets scared and ready to bolt. Do this a bunch of times over a period of about a week until she’s comfortable with the door being closed.

Thomas: Then you’re going to latch the door and leave it closed for a little while. Monitor her while she’s in the carrier and get her used to being in there for a few minutes with the door closed.

Bella: The next step is to move the carrier with her in it. Take it across the room and back, then put the carrier down in its usual place and open the door. If this freaks her out, you may need to back up a step or two.

Thomas: Once she’s comfortable being moved in the carrier, spray some more Feliway in the carrier, put her in the car and take her for a ride around the block. Bring her back in, place the carrier in its usual place, give her treats and open the door. Do this a couple of times a week for several weeks until she’s comfortable in the car. She’s then going to know that the carrier doesn’t always mean a trip to the vet, which will make it much easier to bring her to the vet when you have to do so.

Bella: This process is going to take time and patience, but it’ll be worth it when you can get your kitty into the carrier and into the car without an epic struggle and tons of stress and fear.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you had to train a cat to tolerate the carrier? What did you do and how long did it take?

Bella: How about coaxing a scared cat back inside? Have you done that, and how? Please tell us — and Sarah — all about it in the comments!

]]> 0
Are Tabbies More Intelligent Than Other Cats? Sun, 26 Jul 2015 21:23:06 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Thomas with a thought bubble full of differential equations

Photo © JaneA Kelley

I have a male mackerel (striped) tabby named Charlie. He walks twice a day on a harness and leash, he tells me when he wants to eat and go out by touching the door knob. When he gets kicked out of our bedroom at night, he continues to try to turn the door knob to get back in. He is a very small tabby cat with intelligence far superior to his size. Are tabbies typically this intelligent? I heard someone say it might have something to do with the amount of black in their mouths. Is this true?

~ Cynthia

Thomas: Well, of course! As a tabby cat, I can tell you that tabbies are far superior in intelligence when compared to other cats!

Bella: Oh, stop it, Thomas! You know black cats like me are the smartest of all!

Thomas: Actually, Cynthia, intelligence in cats is no more determined by our fur color than your intelligence is determined by your hair color.

Bella: So, what does determine intelligence? The intelligence of the parents, for one thing, and good nutrition both while inside the mother and in young kittenhood while the brain is developing.

Thomas: We’re quite certain that catnip use during pregnancy does not influence feline intelligence, so if you’re fostering a pregnant kitty, don’t be shy about giving her a bit of the ‘nip!

Bella: Intellectual stimulation during kittenhood can encourage brain development, so we encourage interactive play and some toys like puzzle feeders.

Thomas: We’ve also never heard of any correlation between the amount of black pigment in a cat’s mouth and intelligence.

Bella: Put simply, most humans are not foolish enough to believe that there’s any correlation between humans’ appearance and their intelligence level. The same thing is true of cats.

Thomas: There’s a philosophy phrase, correlation does not equal causation. What that means is, you may know a tabby cat who is exceptionally smart, but that does not mean the tabby coloration caused the intelligence, or vice versa.

Bella: The genes that code for intelligence have very little if any association with the genes that code for pigmentation of the skin and fur.

Thomas: So although I’d like to think that I’m exceptionally smart, the only thing my tabby and white coloration does for me is to make me strikingly handsome.

Bella: And humble, too.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Do you have any experience with exceptionally intelligent cats or families of cats? Do you know enough about genetics to comment on any connection between appearance and intelligence in cats? Tell us about it, and.

Bella: Oh, and tell us about the smartest — or the dumbest — cat you ever met!

]]> 4
My Cat Is a Holy Terror. Help! Sun, 19 Jul 2015 17:40:13 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My cat can be perfect. She sits on my lap and sleeps, she cuddles with me in bed. But she can also be an absolute terror — flying all over the house jumping, climbing everything and, worst of all, scratching everything! She has a scratching post, but she also likes my leather couches and the grandparents’ dining chairs, not to mention my hands and feet! I try to spray her with water but it doesn’t seem to deter her. What else can I do? I also struggle a lot with trimming her claws. Help!

~ Erin

Bella: Well, Erin, scratching is perfectly natural behavior, and cats physically need to scratch. Scratching helps cats mark their territory and shuck off old claw sheaths.

Thomas: You see, claws grow in layers, and when one layer gets worn out, scratching helps the cat get rid of that old layer and reveal the sharp new layer underneath.

Bella: Because scratching is natural behavior, no amount of yelling, can-shaking or water spraying is going to stop your kitty from doing it.

Thomas: But that’s not the only issue. Because your kitty is such a vigorous scratcher, she may need more than one scratching post surface.

Bella: And those scratching posts should be next to the places where your kitty likes to scratch. As celebrity cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy says, for every “no,” you need to provide a “yes.”

A tall cat tower with sisal scratching posts stands next to a couch.

We love our scratch tower!

Thomas: For example, as you can see in this photo, Mama put our cat tower (which has great sisal scratch posts, by the way) right next to the couch. And guess what? We never scratch the couch because the posts are so much better!

Bella: You can also get corrugated cardboard scratch pads to put on the floor, and scratch surfaces that hang off door knobs — there are all kinds of choices. Just make sure the scratching surface is secure, long enough for your cat to get a good stretch, and won’t fall over when your cat uses it.

Thomas: Now, about all that climbing and running. Erin, what you have here is a cat that needs interactive play, and lots of it!

Bella: Young cats, especially, have lots of energy to burn off, and if they don’t have enough interactive play to get rid of that energy, they’re going to take it out on people — and furniture.

Thomas: We recommend that you buy a few different types of interactive toys based on the “thing on a string” concept. You can get your cat really excited to chase these toys by moving them around like prey animals.

Bella: Yeah. Don’t just fling them around! Move them across the floor as if they’re mice, or make them flutter in the air and “land” on surfaces like birds. See what kind of hunting your cat prefers and really get her going!

Thomas: If your kitty is healthy, a good, intense play session that gets her panting is exactly what she needs. Run her until she’s had enough.

Bella: We recommend you do the most vigorous play sessions just before meals. Why? Because cats hunt (and they use up a lot of energy), then they eat what they catch, then they groom themselves, and then they go to sleep.

Thomas: By working with your cat’s instincts, you’ll be able to modify her behavior so that it works for her and for you.

Bella: As far as claw trimming goes, that can be tough for new cat caretakers. We recommend you ask your vet to show you how to do it.

Thomas: But if you can’t do that, this video is a great little tutorial that even helped Mama improve her technique!

Bella: Nail caps are another scratching solution, but they’re more complicated to put on and may require an assistant or your veterinarian in order to get it done.

Thomas: Good luck, Erin, and we hope this has been some help.

Bella: What about you other readers? What tips do you have for Erin on how to deal with the scratching, climbing and hunting? Please share them in the comments.

]]> 2
Is It Normal for Black Cats to Turn Brown? Sun, 12 Jul 2015 17:35:20 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I rescued a young kitten about 4 years ago, who was eating from our trash can. She’s adapted really well and has been spayed, stays up-to-date on all shots, etc., and seems to be in perfect health. She used to be a black and white “tuxedo” cat, but this year all of her black fur is turning brown. I’ve never heard of a cat changing color before. Is this normal at all? Is it caused by some sort of condition she may have?

~ Sylvia

Thomas: Well, Sylvia, black cats can “rust” for a variety of reasons, the most common of which is sun exposure.

Bella: You know how it is with you humans — when you spend a lot of time in the sun, your head fur gets lighter in color? The same kind of thing happens to cats, but it’s a lot more obvious with black cats!

Thomas: And it seems to happen more in long-haired cats than in short-haired cats. Maybe it’s related somehow to the texture of long fur, which seems to be softer than short fur in a lot of cases.

Bella: One interesting reason a cat’s fur may change color has to do with amino acids, which are the building blocks of life.

Thomas: If your cat’s diet doesn’t have enough of an amino acid called tyrosine, that can cause a black cat’s fur to turn reddish. You see, tyrosine is required to make melanin, the pigment that turns a black cat’s fur black.

Bella: Apparently too little copper and too much zinc in the diet can cause black kitties’ fur to get lighter, too.

Thomas: But be sure to talk to your vet before adding vitamins and minerals to your cat’s diet, because there can be other reasons her fur is getting lighter.

Bella: These things are more common to older cats, but sometimes kidney, liver or thyroid problems can cause black cats’ fur to turn brown.

Thomas: Most likely your cat’s color change is due to sitting in the sun. That black color tends to fade really quickly.

Bella: Even I sometimes look brown in the sun, and Mama says you can see my ghost tabby stripes too!

Thomas: I think a lot of black cats are black-on-black tabbies. And of course, as a tabby cat myself, I totally approve!

Bella: So, Sylvia, the first course of action we’d suggest is switching to a high-protein canned cat food diet in order to make sure your kitty gets enough amino acids in her diet.

Thomas: We’d also suggest you take her in for a checkup if she hasn’t been in recently, and ask your veterinarian about why your beautiful tuxedo girl may be getting rusty.

Bella: What about you other readers? Have you had black cats that turned brown? Did you ask your vet about it? Did you change anything in your faded cat’s diet, and did that bring her fur back to black? Please share your answers in the comments.

]]> 1
The CatLadyBox May Just Be the Best Subscription Ever Wed, 08 Jul 2015 11:00:57 +0000 [...] ]]> Disclaimer: Although I did not get paid for this review, the founder of CatLadyBox is a personal friend and fellow cat blogger. However, Paws and Effect only shares information or products we feel will be relevant to our readers. 

You know what made my week? When this showed up at my office:

Cat Lady Box

I’d been anxiously awaiting my CatLadyBox for a couple of weeks, with ever-increasing anticipation, as I tracked my package along its cross-country journey. And when I opened it, I found that it was totally worth the wait.

CatLadyBox is a subscription service that provides monthly shipments of two to three high-quality handcrafted cat-oriented items that can’t be found in retail stores. Some of the items’ creators also include discount codes for people interested in buying more of their products.

The first item I saw was this card, designed by fellow cat blogger and artist Bz Tat of Bz Tat Studios, which contained a description of the items in the box.

Thomas sniffs the box

Thomas checks out the box contents.

The biggest item in the box was a high-quality, heavy-duty Living in the Meow canvas tote bag, created by Living in the Meow, a company that creates apparel and accessories for cat lovers. It was sewn and screen printed in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’s just the right size for a grocery run or for carrying my laptop to my favorite “remote office” to work amidst the hiss of espresso machines and the hubbub of conversation. This tote bag has a retail value of $28, and it came with a promo code that offers 20% off my next purchase from the Living In the Meow website.

Living In the Meow tote bag

Bella checks out the Living in the Meow tote bag.

Under the tote bag were two equally awesome items: A handmade cuff and a mini-spritzer of Black Cat perfume. The Crazy Cat Lady hand-stamped aluminum cuff was made by Marlayna Jackson of Designs By Marlayna, exclusively for CatLadyBox. Working from her Ohio home, she creates jewelry that has personal meaning for her customers. The cuff also comes with a promo code for a 15% discount at the Designs By Marlayna Etsy shop. The retail value of the Crazy Cat Lady cuff is $14.

The Black Cat artisan perfume is made by Wylde Ivy. Scent artist Ashlee Kramme loves to create unique scents, and Black Cat is just that: Dark and mysterious, captivating and spellbinding, this perfume has elements of black vanilla, exotic spices, white patchouli, and musk topped off with a hint of sugar dust and jasmine petals. Delicious! And quite alluring to wear. The mini spritzer has a retail value of $4.25.

Black cat perfume and Crazy Cat Lady cuff

Black Cat perfume and Crazy Cat Lady cuff.

A monthly subscription to CatLadyBox is $34.95, but you can save money by paying ahead for three or six months of boxes. You can also get an enhanced version, the CRAZY CatLadyBox, which not only includes 2-3 items for you, but at least two surprises for your cats as well. A CRAZY CatLadyBox subscription is $39.99 a month. (I went with the regular CatLadyBox because Thomas and Bella already have far more toys than they need — shh! Don’t tell them I said that!)

Finally, the box contained a note from CatLadyBox founder Dorian Wagner introducing herself, her cats, and the products in this month’s delivery, as well as a couple of small temporary CatLadyBox tattoos.

Bella sniffs at the CatLadyBox

Bella had to take the first sniff.

Considering that the retail value of the three items in the box is $46.95, I’d say saving $12 to have three awesome cat-oriented gifts delivered to my door is a win all around. I’m particularly glad that the box doesn’t contain a single piece of what I call “Holly Hobbie crap” — the cutesy, twee kind of cat lady stuff that really marks you as a crazy cat lady, and not in a good way.

You can feel good about subscribing to CatLadyBox because Dorian will donate 5% of her profits to cat rescue groups.

If you want to spoil yourself, CatLadyBox is a great way to do it. And yes, you can buy CatLadyBox subscriptions as gifts for your cat-loving friends, too. I’m looking forward to what Dorian will find to include in future CatLadyBox shipments.

My review: Four Paws Up!
]]> 4