Cat Advice | Paws and Effect Advice by cats, for cats and their people Sun, 29 Mar 2015 22:51:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Do You Get An Aggressive Cat To the Vet? Sun, 29 Mar 2015 22:51:25 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Two vet techs restrain a cat for a nail trim.

Restraining a cat for a nail trim. Photo CC-BY-ND Jeffrey Beall

My cat, Graylie, was traumatized during a hospital stay by his treatment and the staff.  He had a really high temperature, so they had him immobilized with an IV and he was sitting on a cold grill that had freezing air under it.  He screamed for the entire two days he was there.

I got him to a vet after that, but he went berserk there and they were very rough with him in order to do his exam and cut his nails. The next time I tried to take him to the vet to get his annual rabies booster, her fought me and I couldn’t get him in the carrier. I’ve bought “calming” stuff at the pet store — various kinds, expensive stuff — and I don’t see that it helps.

I’ve investigated having a vet come to the house, but that vet is going to bring a helper that sounds like muscle to wrestle the cat. I’m not glad to think about Graylie being manhandled in his own home.

What other options do I have? I’ve been told by a vet that sedating him is a bad idea. Do you agree? He is past his time for his rabies protection now; fortunately, he is an indoor cat, but I’m out of compliance with state law. Is there any way I can calm him at home long enough to get him into a carrier?

~ Karen

Siouxsie: We certainly don’t blame poor Graylie for being traumatized by that! Wow, what an ordeal!

Thomas: One of the reasons why cats get to the vet so much less often than dogs is because so many cats don’t like carrier rides and lead their people on a merry chase, which often ends up with the cat disappearing and the person having to call the vet and cancel the appointment.

Bella: House-call vets can be a godsend for people whose cats freak out at the vet, and that may be a good option for your Graylie.

Siouxsie: We understand your concerns about the vet’s assistant being “muscle” to wrestle the cat. However, many restraint techniques may look like wrestling but, when done properly by people who know cat behavior, make the physical exam and treatment safer and less traumatic for owner, vet clinic staff and cat alike.

Thomas:  There are some great videos available on how to handle and restrain fractious cats. Veterinarian and animal behavior pioneer Dr. Sophia Yin (1966-2014) shared this video of correctly restraining a feral cat for an examination.

Bella: In this 10-minute training video from DoveLewis Animal Emergency Hospital in Portland, Oregon, a pair of vet nurses demonstrate safe restraint techniques for a very fractious cat who has been “fired” from two other clinics because of his aggressiveness:

Siouxsie: So, Karen, you can see that vet clinic staff trained in safe, low-stress restraint techniques can keep even a freaked out cat from getting hurt or hurting the people trying to treat him. And probably this is why the house-call vet wants to bring an assistant. Just make sure that both the vet and the assistant are experienced and comfortable with restraining cats — it’s a lot different from restraining dogs!

Thomas: You may know your cat better, but a trained professional will be able to quickly and restrain Graylie in a way that’s not about manhandling but about safety.

Bella: Whether the vet is visiting your home or you’re taking Graylie to the clinic, he’s going to be restrained if he’s as aggressive as he sounds.

Siouxsie: Your vet said sedation is a bad idea. We’re not veterinarians, and even if we were, we don’t know your cat and we don’t have his medical history in front of us, so we can’t make any judgments about that. Some cats are a poor sedation risk because of health issues, but we don’t know if your cat is one of those.

Thomas: Sometimes sedation is required for the cat’s safety as well as that of the clinic’s staff. When Kissy had to have X-rays of her bad leg, the clinic staff had to sedate her because she was screaming and fighting and trying to bite — and she was ordinarily pretty cool at the vet.

Bella: When a cat is sedated for diagnostics or treatment, that cat is carefully monitored by the vet and the techs, and the sedation is reversed as soon as it’s no longer needed.

Siouxsie: You can try some of the restraint techniques on your own if you want to try and get Graylie into a carrier, but Mama has found that the easiest way to get us into the carrier is to take it out the night before she’s going to take us somewhere and leave it open for us to explore.

Thomas: Dr. Patty Khuly wrote a list of tips for getting your cat to like (or at least, accept) the carrier so you can get him to the vet.

Bella: What about you other readers? Have you found house-call vets to be helpful for your skittish or aggressive kitties? What techniques have you used to get your cat to love the carrier? Do you have any other tips to help Karen help Graylie? Please share them in the comments.

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How Can I Keep My Kitten From Freaking Out When I’m Away? Sun, 22 Mar 2015 22:26:23 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a male Bombay kitten that I’m crazy over. I spoil him rotten. I get worried when I’m not home, as I am always with him. He is 7 weeks old now. How can I assure he doesn’t freak out when I go to my doctor appointments and leave him alone? He already has a huge cat tower and toys. 

~ Maria

Siouxsie: Well, Maria, it depends a lot on how long you’re away from home.

Thomas: If you’re away for a few hours at a time, or even most of the day, many cats will be all right because we do spend quite a bit of time sleeping.

Bella: That said, at 7 weeks old, he’s not even old enough to be fully weaned yet.

Siouxsie: If he was a bottle baby (orphaned by his mother or something like that), he’s always going to be very attached to people — and particularly you, if you’re the one who nursed him from infancy.

Thomas: Most of the time, we recommend that especially if you’re going to get a kitten, you get two of them so they can keep one another entertained. So if you’ve got room in your home and your budget, you may want to adopt another kitten about the same age so he has a playmate.

Bella: I love chasing my kitty roommates all around the house!

Siouxsie: I know you do, and I hate it when you chase me. *grumble*

Thomas: I tolerate it, but sometimes I wish you’d spend more time snuggling with me and less time ambushing me, Bella.

Bella: *sniffle* But I just want to have some fun!

Siouxsie: Anyway, Maria, we’re not sure how confident and outgoing your little guy is, but if he’s not freaked out by unexpected noises and the like, you could get him some toys that will move around on their own as he bats them.

Thomas: You can also get puzzle feeders and toys which release small amounts of food when operated correctly. Toys like this can challenge your cat’s intelligence and provide him something fun to play with when you’re away.

Bella: Our friends at and The Conscious Cat have reviewed a number of puzzle feeders and games for cats; check out the links to see what they tried and what they like.

Siouxsie: And you can find some tips to build a DIY cat puzzle toys over at Hauspanther (they’ve got some really nice stuff for cats, including my favorite bed, too, so be sure to visit the shop while you’re over there).

Thomas: You can also rotate his toys by putting some away and leaving others out, and then in a week or so, put away the toys that are out and bring out some that are stored away. This provides some changes in routine that your cat might enjoy.

Bella sitting in a window perch made by Kitty Cot.

I love this window perch from Kitty Cot! ~ Bella

Bella: A window perch can be really nice, too. Mama put one of these in our window at our old apartment, and I spent a lot of time there.

Siouxsie: If you get a perch like the one in this photo, you can move it around to various windows and provide more environmental stimulation, too.

Thomas: So, there are lots of things you can do to keep your cat entertained while you’re away, even if you can’t get another kitty.

Bella: If you are going to get a new cat, be sure to do a proper introduction to make sure things go well between the two of them. When Mama brings new cats home, she uses this technique she learned from cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett. Works every time!

Siouxsie: What about you other readers? Do you have any tips for Maria on how to keep her kitten from getting lonely or bored, or developing separation anxiety? Please share them in the comments.

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#FoodShelterLove Is Great, But Don’t Overdo the Food Thu, 19 Mar 2015 11:00:57 +0000 [...] ]]> This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love™ Program, but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

A lot of people think fat cats are cute, but obesity is actually a huge problem (pardon the pun) among cats. Some of this has to do with a lack of understanding of how many calories a cat needs in order to maintain a healthy body weight, some has to do with not knowing or misunderstanding the feeding recommendations provided by the cat food manufacturer, and some has to do with a “set it and forget it” mentality.

A cat sniffs at a camera lens as if in search of food

Isn’t there some food here for me?

According to this article from All Feline Hospital the average indoor cat only needs 20 calories per pound to maintain a stable weight, so if your cat weighs 10 pounds, he should only be eating 200 calories a day. Keep in mind that cats vary in their metabolism, activity level, and so on, so if you’re feeding your cat 200 calories a day and he’s gaining weight, reduce the amount you feed him.

All cat foods are labeled with guidelines about how much food to feed per day. Some people misinterpret the amount to feed per day as the amount to feed per meal, and that can lead to weight gain. If you’re following the manufacturer’s recommendations and your cat is getting heavier, cut back on the food.

Part of the reason cats are considered such low-maintenance pets is because you can theoretically just throw down a dish full of food and go about your day. But cats eat out of boredom and stress too, and a cat that has nothing to do but eat will quickly gain weight — and all those pounds are eventually going to lead to trouble.

An animal shelter volunteer holds a long-haired tortoiseshell cat

Wilma was one of my favorite diabetic kitties. She was a bit chunky when she came to us, but she was already starting to lose weight when I met her.

Hills Food, Shelter, Love logo and Science Diet logoObesity is a leading cause of diabetes in cats. I saw this firsthand in the time when I volunteered at a no-kill animal shelter in Maine. We had a room full of diabetic kitties, and many of them were overweight when they came to us. After being fed an appropriate diet and getting lots of love and exercise, many of our “sugar kitties” shed those extra pounds and went into remission as a result.

Hill's Perfect Weight dry foodObesity is surprisingly common in shelter kitties: the combination of stress and a sedentary lifestyle, particularly in shelters where cats spend a large part of the day in cages, can pack on the pounds. Fortunately, Hills’ Food, Shelter & Love program has been helping many rescues get their charges back in shape and ready for adoption.

As a participant in the Food, Shelter & Love program, the Denver Dumb Friends League has been feeding its chunky kitties Hill’s Perfect Weight cat food. They’ve seen 70 percent of their fat cats lose weight in 10 weeks when they were fed this nutrition, and because it works for cats of different breeds and weights, they don’t have to worry about the challenge of feeding overweight and normal-weight cats in the same space.

Check out the the happy tale of Stoli, one of DDFL’s Perfect Weight cat food success stories.

If you’re interested in trying Hill’s Perfect Weight cat food, you can buy it here. It comes in both dry and canned varieties, and your purchase will help to support the Food, Shelter & Love program.

In the long run, I don’t think it matters what food you give your cat, as long as you’re feeding appropriate amounts of it. That, along with environmental enrichment and daily exercise, will go a long way toward keeping your furry friend in fine form.

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How Can I Stop My Cats From Chewing Wires? Sun, 15 Mar 2015 21:03:33 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have two cats who like to chew on cords. They will be three years old in May. We use as many cord covers as possible but they chew on those too. I’ve read lots of ideas on this but wonder what your suggestion is. I thought they would outgrow this by now. We feel like we have to watch their every move and it’s frustrating sometimes. What do you suggest? Thanks.

~ Teresa

Siouxsie: Wire chewing is pretty darn frustrating, Teresa. And Mama should know: Bella’s chewed through three headset cords and done her best to wreck the cord to her LED Christmas lights.

Bella: That’s not fair! They tasted good, and besides, they weren’t plugged in at the time!

Thomas: Bella, you know better.

Bella: I only did it ’cause I was bored and nokitty was paying attention to me.

Siouxsie: That brings up one point about why cats chew on wires: They’re bored. Make sure your cats have plenty of environmental stimulation — vertical space like tall cat trees, catnip toys, little bouncy balls and the like.

Thomas: If your kitties like to chew things, consider getting them one of those rubbery dog chew bones. (They can’t read, so they won’t know the bones are designed for dogs. Tee hee hee!)

Bella: Sometimes cats chew on wires because they’re having mouth discomfort and the chewing makes them feel better, so you may want to get your kitties to the vet to have their teeth checked.

Siouxsie: So there you have the main reasons why cats like to chew. Now what do you do to deter that behavior?

Thomas: You said you already use cord covers, which is great, but there’s one special kind of cord cover that might help them to lose interest in cords altogether.

Bella: It’s called Crittercord [be warned: this is just about the most annoying website ever because everything is a pop-up], and it’s a clear, flexible cord cover just a little bit bigger than the wires themselves, which is infused with a citrus flavor that cats are supposed to dislike. If you buy it online, you might see it listed as Marshall Cord Protector.

Siouxsie: Bitter apple spray is an old standby. Again, the nasty taste is supposed to stop cats from chewing on wires. Other options include Vicks VapoRub, Tabasco sauce, rubbing the wires with a moistened bar of soap, or using double-sided tape to make cord chewing extra-unpleasant.

Thomas: If you’re away a lot, get your cats some fun toys they can use while you’re not in the house. Wall-mounted toys they can bat at or motion-activated cat toys are great.

Bella: If there are certain cords your cats can’t resist chewing, consider getting a deterrent that gets them before they start chewing. Ssscat is a motion-activated device that squirts out an odorless, harmless spray if the cat passes a certain threshold.

Siouxsie: It’s going to take a lot of patience for you to retrain your kitties not to chew wires, but if you keep it up, you will get there.

Thomas: It may take more than one of these methods to get your cats’ teeth off your cords, but it’ll be worth the time for reducing the damage … and the fire hazard potential.

Bella: What about you other readers? Have you had a wire chewer in your household? What did you do to stop the behavior and prevent damage to your wires? Please tell us in the comments!

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