Our Cat's Place – Living With Cats

thoughts, articles, & information on cats, their behavior, and their relationships with us.

  • Aug 28

    Having moved a few times with a few different cats, both within the same neighborhood and to a new country, I have taken advice from a variety of sources, and have seen what works. I’d like to share some tips and tricks here that can help to make moving with your cat a smoother and more pleasant experience. Since this is a lot of information, I’ve split this into three parts: Preparing for the Move, During the Move, and Settling In to Your New Home.

    Part 1 – Preparing For The Move

    If you are moving to an entirely new area, or especially to a new country, there are a few “official” things that you will need to take care of before you move, in order to ensure that your cat is able to come easily to your new home without the inconvenience of delay or quarantine.

    First, check with the new area to see if there are any documentation requirements for getting in. In our case, when we moved with our cats Felix and Eric from the United States to Canada, we found out that we would need certificates of health as well as documentation of rabies vaccines for our cats. This was easily taken care of with a quick trip to our vet, but if we had not known about these requirements, we could have ended up spending time at the border making phone calls or even needing to leave our cats behind while we sorted things out. This may also be the case if you are moving within the US to a different state.

    Also, find out if your new area has any licensing requirements. A city government office or web site should be able to help you with any of these questions. For us, when we lived in California, cat licenses were not needed. However, once we arrived in Toronto we discovered that they were.

    If you are moving to a different area and will need to go to a new veterinarian, be sure to obtain copies of your pet’s medical records for your new vet. You could also check with your current vet to see if they could fax your pet’s records once you have arrived in your new home. Most veterinarian offices use faxes, and this was what we were able to do. This will save you from having to carry and keep track of your cat’s records during the move.

    If it will be a long trip and your cat tends to be a nervous traveler, ask your vet about possible solutions. S/he may want to prescribe medication for him, but in most cases this should only be used if really necessary, and there are some excellent natural alternatives available. My favorite is “Rescue Remedy”, by Bach Flower Essences. Just a drop or two rubbed on the inside of your cat’s ear or sprinkled into her water dish will have a calming, relaxing effect (you can even use it yourself if you want!). It may be a good idea to try this out ahead of time to be sure that it works for your cat. In our case, Rescue Remedy worked beautifully for Eric, but seemed to have no effect at all on Felix. So just to be prepared, our vet prescribed Felix a small quantity of tranquilizers, which turned out to be a tremendous help later during our trip.

    If you are traveling by car, and the trip will take more than one day, make your overnight arrangements ahead of time and make sure that any hotels you stay at allow cats. It’s a good idea to call the hotel to make the reservations yourself, rather than relying on a Website. Our drive from San Francisco to Toronto took six days, and although most of my chosen accommodations worked out perfectly, there was one place that told us after we arrived, that although their entry on the web said “Pets Allowed”, what they really meant was “dogs only”. We were not allowed to stay there with our cat, and they did not give us a refund. I had to call half a dozen other hotels in the area to find one that did let us stay there, felines and all. I also suggested to the first place that they might want to update their listing!

    If you will be traveling to your new home by air, make arrangements ahead of time if your cat will be going along. Many airlines allow only one pet in the cabin per flight; so if you are traveling with more than one cat, check around to make sure you can be accommodated. Also, check with the airlines to see what the size constraints are for your carrier. When I flew with Eric I got a smaller, airline approved pet carrier for him that met my chosen airline’s requirement.

    Keep very close watch over your cat while you are packing and preparing to move out of your current home. If possible, even see if you can arrange to have your cat stay with a friend while you are packing. It is very upsetting for a cat to watch while his/her entire domain is being taken apart, and this can cause a great deal of stress. Many cats have run away while their humans were preparing for a move, which is what happened to us.

    While packing up the kitchen, my husband inadvertently left the door to the deck open, and Eric slipped out while his back was turned. This was late at night, three days before we left, and all our searching proved to be fruitless. We were extremely fortunate to have dedicated neighbors who staked out the hill behind our house until Eric was found seven weeks later. Many people are not so lucky, please don’t take any chances!

    Likewise, be sure that your cat is well secured while your movers are working. If you do not have a place for her to stay, please have her stay in a secure room that she cannot get out of. Also make sure that the movers know she is in there and that they do not open the door. Put a note on the door as a reminder.

    If your cat is not microchipped yet, this is a great time to get it done, and be sure to register him with the microchip company. If your cat does happen to get away before or during the move, this will be one good way to advertise that he is missing, and many cats are found every year through their microchips.

    Even if you are just moving down the street, keeping a strict watch over your cat before and during the move will help everything go more smoothly and will help to prevent him from getting lost.

    See Part 2 of this Series: During The Move

    See Part 3 of this Series: Settling In to your New Home

    See my Squidoo Lens: How to Move House With Your Cat

  • Feb 6

    The hosts at Vienna’s Café Neko don’t expect tips, nor will they engage in small talk with customers.

    They might, however, rub up against your leg.

    Five cats, Sonja, Thomas, Moritz, Luca and Momo, interact with customers at the 50-seat coffee house. All rescued from an animal shelter, they freely roam throughout the café.

    It’s the first cat café in Austria, an endeavour that took three years to have approved — hygiene issues were the city officials’ reasonable concerns.

    “Neko” means “cat” in Japanese. Cafe Neko’s owner, Alexander Thuer and his Japanese-born wife Takako Ishimitsu, claim their inspiration “to combine coffee with cats” came from Ishimitsu’s background, Associated Press reports. Cat-friendly establishments, while rare in Europse, are quite common in Asia.

    “Showing unknown Japanese concepts is good for Austria. I had various ideas, and the cat café project was the least difficult to realize. And at the same time, I can do something good for the Vienna animal shelter which I have been supporting for years,” Ishimitsu says.

    In Japan most apartments ban pets, so individuals seeking animal companionship often head to cat cafés, many of which even specialize in specific breeds of cats.

    “Surprisingly, more than 99 per cent the reactions are positive. One of our goals is to provide some happiness to people who cannot have cats on their own, because of their jobs or family members suffering from allergies,” Ishimitsu tells The Telegraph.

    Dogs are required to stay outside. The cats might roam free at Vienna’s Café Neko, but the canines can sip dog-friendly meat-flavoured beer at a pub in Newcastle. It’s a good year to be a four-legged furry friend.

    Watch the news video below reporting on the unusual and fun establishment:

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  • Oct 13
    An orange male classic tabby cat.
    Image via Wikipedia

    Having moved a few times with a few different cats, both within the same neighborhood and to a new country, I have taken advice from a variety of sources, and have seen what works. I’d like to share some tips and tricks here that can help to make moving with your cat a smoother and more pleasant experience. Since this is a lot of information, I’ve split this into three parts: Preparing for the Move, During the Move, and Settling In to Your New Home.

    Part 3 – Settling In to Your New Home

    When you arrive at your new home, bring your cat inside and get her situated before you start moving your own things in. If this was a short move and you were able to bring your cat’s things over ahead of time, that’s great! If not, choose a room for her, like a spare bedroom or enclosed den. Make sure any windows are closed and that the door to the room latches securely so that your cat cannot get out.

    By putting your cat’s familiar things in the room – food dishes, toys, litter box, scratching post, blankets, etc, your cat will begin to feel at home. Another great idea is to use some Feliway Diffusers or Cat Pheremone Spray in the room to give it that “happy cat” smell. Most cats will relax quickly in this environment, and you will be able to get started with moving your things in. Just be sure your cat is securely in the room until the movers are done and the doors to the house can also be kept closed.

    Your cat might prefer to stay in his special room for a while at first, and may even be reluctant to explore the rest of the house for the first day or two. Remember that cats need to be able to establish their territory, and may not be willing to venture out into unknown places right away.

    Once your cats do start wandering around the house, try to keep them inside at least for a time. I have been told that it can take cats up to a month to reset the internal “homing device” that lets then find their way home, and we have all heard stories about cats showing up in their old neighborhoods, weeks or even months after they have moved. Don’t let your cat be one of them!

    Feliway is also quite useful around the house as a whole, especially if you have more than one cat. If your multiple cats are trying to establish territory, it could potentially lead to fighting and/or spraying. The cat pheromones in Feliway will help to calm the cats so that they are less likely to have problems.

    Another thing to watch for in your new home is hiding places, where your cat may go in order to feel safe until the space becomes more familiar to him. Closets, fireplaces, underneath furniture, and other smaller spaces are all likely hiding spots. After one move, when Eric seemed to have disappeared, we combed the house top to bottom, until we finally discovered that he had climbed part way up the chimney. A few hours, a dish of food, and a lot of coaxing later, a very gray cat finally emerged (Eric is an orange tabby!). Cats are masters of finding places to squeeze into!

    Once you have a chance, look for a good veterinarian in your new neighborhood. Neighbors, local acquaintances, or even your old vet can be great sources of recommendations. But if you don’t know where to go, check out some of the review sites like yelp.com or local websites for reviews. Feel free to visit and interview a few different vets in the area if you have more than one to choose from. You should be sure you feel comfortable both with the doctors and the offices. Once you have chosen, bring in your records from your previous vet, or have them faxed or mailed. Schedule a checkup so that you and your cat can get more acquainted with the new vet. Also remember to change your address on any microchip registrations, pet insurance, or anyone else that needs your pet’s information.

    Cats generally adapt very well to new places once they have a little time to get settled in. A happy cat truly helps to make your new house feel like home!

    See Part 1 of this series: Preparing For The Move

    See Part 2 of this series: During The Move

    See my Squidoo Lens – How to Move House With Your Cat

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  • Oct 2

    Having moved a few times with a few different cats, both within the same neighborhood and to a new country, I have taken advice from a variety of sources, and have seen what works. I’d like to share some tips and tricks here that can help to make moving with your cat a smoother and more pleasant experience. Since this is a lot of information, I’ve split this into three parts: Preparing for the Move, During the Move, and Settling In to Your New Home.

    Part 2 – During The Move

    Depending on the length of your move, you may be moving your cat with a short car trip (or even a walk!), a long car trip, or maybe by plane.  Each type of move can have it’s own challenges, and I’d like to talk about some ways that you can help make any move with your cat go more smoothly.

    If this is a short move, to a new place not far from your current home, there are a few things you can do that will help make it easier for your cat to adjust.

    If you are able, try to arrange for your cat to stay with a friend while you are moving. Just like with packing, the actual move can be disconcerting to a cat, who feels a sense of ownership in his home, and he may attempt to run away during this time. If he can stay somewhere else during the move, he can avoid a lot of stress. Then, once you have moved your things, your cat will be able to see and smell his familiar possessions in your new home, which will help him feel more at ease.

    However, even if your cat will need to move right along with you, here is a process that has worked well for me, and I recommend doing this if possible.

    Before you start moving furniture and your belongings, choose a small room in your new home. It should be entirely enclosed once the door is shut, and be sure the door latches tight. An extra bedroom works very well for this purpose. Them, before moving your own things, set this room up with your cat’s food and water, toys, and litter box (make sure the litter box is on the opposite side of the room from his food and water). Allow your cat to wander around this room, getting familiar with the new place. The presence of his familiar things will help him feel at home. Close the door and have your cat stay in his “special room” until after you have finished moving your things in.

    If you will be taking your cat on a long car trip, it’s especially important that you have a good quality carrier. Remember that you will be using the carrier not only as a place for your cat to ride during the trip, but also to carry him in and out of your lodging at night. Be sure that the carrier is very secure, stays closed, and is roomy enough for your cat to move around in. Some carriers come with a soft fleece or carpet floor, which help to keep her comfortable and cozy. If not, it’s a nice idea to put a blanket or towel inside. You may even want to look for one of the carriers that have clips for a seat belt. This way, the carrier will not slip around and will be held in place even in the event of an accident.

    If your cat isn’t used to riding in a carrier, try to get him accustomed to it before the trip, by taking him out on a few shorter trips ahead of time. However, some cats never seem to enjoy riding in the car or carrier, and may continue to complain loudly for some time. It may help to put something of yours inside, like an old T-shirt that will smell familiar and help him get settled more quickly.

    Normally it is best to have your cat stay inside the carrier for the entire time that you are driving. This helps to protect her from getting hurt in case of an accident, and prevents her from suddenly leaping up on the driver’s neck. But the truth is that this is not always practical. Since cats usually dislike driving or being in their carriers for such a long period, once you are on the road you may want to let him get out and find his own place to settle down. With our two cats, we found this to be the easiest for everyone. Eric tends to make his spot under one of the front seats, while Felix generally preferred to ride on our daughter’s lap in the back seat. If your cats can manage to find a place where they are happiest, the drive will be far more pleasant. Just make sure he stays away from the driver.

    It may even be a good idea to put your cat in a harness that attaches to his collar, so that you can hold onto it if you need to open the car for a moment. However, it’s even better to put the cat back in the carrier before you open the car door. You absolutely do not want to risk having your cat bolt away in an unfamiliar place!

    We’re found that our cats would not eat much or use the litter box while traveling. However, it’s good to offer some food and water, and litter pan just in case. Usually our cats would have only a few bites of kibble when offered, and would have their main meals at the hotel.

    Likewise with using the litter box. Our veterinarian assured me that a cat can “hold it” for up to 12 hours with no ill effect. Once we stopped at our hotel for the night, food, drink, and box were the first orders of business. You may want to check out the hotel room for possible hiding places. We had a couple of incidents of coming back from dinner to have the cat nowhere to be seen, then find him hiding behind the bed and having to coax him out, with difficulty. Putting some rolled up towels to block entrance to this spot solved the problem. However, your cat may still look for a safe spot behind the curtains or in a closet. Cats are masters of hiding when they want to be!

    I’ll reiterate this – be sure your cat has ID! At least a collar with tag if nothing else, and be sure the tag has a number where you can be reached, not your old number at your previous house! Again, micro chipping is an excellent thing to do if you have not already, and make sure your cat is registered!

    If your cat is just not able to adapt to being on the road, this is where the Bach “Rescue Remedy” or even the tranquilizer from your vet may come in handy. Try rubbing a couple drops of Rescue Remedy inside your nervous cat’s ear to see if that will calm him down. This is effective for most cats, and it works well for our Eric. if this doesn’t work, then try giving him just a bit of the tranquilizer. When we traveled across the country with Felix in the car, he spent the entire first day meowing loudly, and unfortunately he was not helped by the Rescue Remedy as Eric was. Not only was this very unpleasant for all of us, but it was obvious that Felix was stressed and tired, since he had been unable to sleep at all in the car. That night we gave him just a fraction of one of the pills his vet had prescribed for us, and it worked like a charm. Felix got a good night sleep, was relaxed and happy the next day, and then he settled down for the rest of the six day trip, never even needing another pill. Of course, every cat is different, and you may find a different solution for your cat.

    If you will be moving with your cat by plane, here are some things to keep in mind. I flew with Eric from San Francisco to Indianapolis, en route to Toronto, with a stop in Denver for good measure! Eric did great, but I was very thankful for the advice I had been given from our veterinarian and a few friends with experience flying with their pets.

    Be sure you have made the necessary arrangements with the airline, and that they have approved your cat for traveling in the passenger area if this what you intend to do. Most airlines allow only one animal per flight, so it’s important to make sure you are on their record! Get an airline approved carrier, one that will fit under the seat ahead of you. Your pet carrier will count as a carry on item, so make sure you are still within the airline limits and that you will be able to check your other things. I brought along a large backpack for my trip with Eric, and put my purse in it along with some food for Eric, a bag of litter and a very small litter tray. This way I was able to bring a “personal” bag as well as the carrier, and still have everything I needed available.

    I checked in at the counter and informed the agent that I was bringing my cat along in the passenger area. She checked and saw that I had made the arrangements ahead of time, so everything went very smoothly.

    Going through security, you will need to take your cat out of the carrier. This is where a cat harness is critical! If you are simply holding your cat in your arms, and he gets spooked by the noise or crowds, he could easily slip away and get lost in the masses. I’ve been told this happens on occasion. But if you have your cat securely in a harness and you are holding tightly to both the harness and the cat, he will not be able to get away, and you should have no problem at all. I could tell that Eric was nervous, but he knew that I was holding him tightly and never even tried to escape.

    Once you are on the plane, place the carrier under the seat in front of you for the flight. You will not want to take your cat out while flying, but you can lean over to give her a few reassuring words. I found that once we were in the air, Eric relaxed and seemed very comfortable during the trip.

    During our stopover, I took Eric to a large bathroom stall and tried setting up the litter box and food for him. But like on our long car trips, he preferred to wait until we got to our destination.

    Overall, with a little preparation, traveling with your cat can be done fairly easily, and whichever way you are using can work very well.

    See Part 1 of this series – Preparing for the Move

    See Part 3 of this series – Settling In To Your New Home

    See my Squidoo Lens – How to Move House With Your Cat

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