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

  • Dec 14

    Cats can be elusive creatures, and sometimes the task of getting them to come when called can seem daunting. However, if you approach this in the right way and with the right attitude, it can be much easier than you think! These are the steps that can be taken.

    • Step 1: Begin by making it a habit to talk to your cat often, and create a strong bond with her through petting, brushing, and spending time together. Take every opportunity to give her your love and attention. Having a good relationship with your cat is very important.
    • Step 2: Find a special dry treat that she really loves. This should be something that she doesn’t have very often, and it will only be used for this purpose. While you are training her to come when called, make sure you don’t give her this particular treat at any other time. Please choose something small and nutritious. A snack that is good for your cat’s teeth would be ideal.
    • Step 3: Find a special word that will be used for training her to come. This will become a word that she associates only with this special treat, so think of something that she won’t often hear at other times.
    • Step 4: The next time you give your cat a snack, use the special word. Put one treat in her empty food bowl while speaking the word out loud.
    • Step 5: Say the word again after she eats the treat. Then give her another of the same treat, and use the word again in the same way.
    • Step 6: Step away from your cat now. If she protests that she is “starving” you can say the word again and give her one more piece. Then leave the room.
    • Step 7: About 4 minutes later, repeat the entire process again. Your cat will begin to learn to associate the special word with her special treat.
    • Step 8: Continue doing this a few times a day for the next several days. Eventually, your cat will learn to come to you when you say the special word.
    • Step 9: When your cat starts coming to you every time you say the special word, start giving her the treat only once in a while. The rest of the time, give her lots of attention (petting, scratches, playing with a toy, whatever she likes) for a few minutes. Then let her go. Repeat this process a few minutes later.
    • Step 10: If you have created a strong bond with your cat, and if you have followed the above procedures correctly, your cat will now associate your special word with the extra attention and loves she gets from you. She should now be coming to you when she hears you say the word.

    Please remember, the treat must be a small and nutritious snack, not something large, or a whole bowl of food. She will be eating a fair number of these during training, and we don’t want her to gain extra weight!

    Make sure that you use the special word every day, just so that she will come to you for affection and hugs. If you use it only when it is time to take her to the vet or give her a bath, she will learn to associate the word with unpleasant times and it can undermine the effects of your training. When these types of occasions do come up, give your cat the treat and then wait a little bit before following through with your “hidden motive”.

    So why does this technique work so well?

    What this all boils down to is conditioning your cat to associate your special word with getting attention from you. The word becomes the trigger, to which she responds in order to get something she wants. Once this happens, any time you say the special word your cat comes because she knows she will be rewarded.

    As you can see, the bond you form with your cat is the most important aspect of getting her to come when you call. When your cat knows that she will get love and affection from being close to you, then she will WANT to come to you any time she can.

    I learned these tips and many others from Mary Matthews’ book “Ultimate Cat Secrets”. If you would like to enjoy a loving relationship with a perfectly well behaved cat, this is well worth a read!

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

  • Mar 18
    A cat at the Seattle Animal Shelter

    Image via Wikipedia

    As someone who once lost a cat, only days before we moved out of town, I absolutely understand the fear and even panic that can grip a cat lover when his cat is nowhere to be found. We were very lucky, our cat Eric finally returned unharmed. I would like to see every lost cat come back to his loving owner and home. Here are some tips that can help.

    1. If your cat just ran out the door and you can’t see him, leave the door open. There is a good chance he will find his way back. We also left a bowl of food just outside the door.

    2. If your cat is microchipped, report his disappearance immediately. The sooner you get the word out, the more likely your cat will be found quickly.

    3. Call your cat’s name as you wander slowly around the area. Your cat is probably very scared, and is unlikely to come out. However, he may meow or cry for help and then you would be able to tell where he is hiding.

    4. Try shaking a bag of your cat’s food (if dry), or opening a can with a can opener (if moist). If he hears the familiar sounds of food being prepared, that alone may bring him running back.

    5. Leave a cardboard box in your yard, some distance from your house. Put familiar smelling things in it, like a worn and unwashed T-shirt of yours. Your cat will be attracted to the scent and if he is close by, is likely to curl up in the box to feel safe. Check the box at night and first thing in the morning.

    6. Search around your neighborhood late at night. You should also ask your neighbors to keep an eye out for him. This was actually how we got our cat back, by enlisting willing neighbors to help. If any of your neighbors have outdoor cats that they leave food for outside, this is another excellent place to look.

    7. If there are woods around your home check there as well. Your cat may have gone there in search of small prey.

    8. If you have moved recently, go back to your old neighborhood and look around there. Cats will often return to their previous home if they have lived in the new one for less than a month.

    9. Don’t be afraid to put up posters all over the place. Hand them out to people in the area. Be sure to make small tear off tabs at the bottom with the cat’s name and description, any identifying marks, your name and your phone number. This gave us the results we needed when some people who were just out for a walk saw our poster, saw Eric, and called right away (we are still grateful to them!).

    10. If there is an animal shelter or animal control agency in the area that brings in lost cats, check with them every day. It would also be a good idea to provide them with one of your posters. You must check with them each day, because chances are they do not have enough people on staff to check in with you.

    If your cat is currently lost, don’t give up, and don’t lose hope. It took seven weeks before Eric was found. And even then, apart from a broken tooth, he was fine. My sister also found a lost cat of hers after three weeks. Keep your thoughts positive!

    Beth

    P.S. If your cat is not microchipped, and he is not currently lost, do it NOW! If he is lost, do it as soon as he returns. A microchip is an identification device inserted beneath your cat’s skin. All humane societies and agencies have scanners to read the chip. I highly recommend their use.

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  • Nov 13

    Cat Close-Up - HD Desktop/photosFrom: Dr Andrew Jones, DVM

    No one knows for sure why a domestic cat purrs, but many people interpret the sound as one of contentment. Our understanding of how a domestic cat purrs is becoming more complete; most scientists agree that the larynx (voice box), laryngeal muscles, and a neural oscillator are involved.

    Kittens learn how to purr when they are a couple of days old. Veterinarians suggest that this purring tells ‘Mom’ that “I am okay” and that “I am here.” It also indicates a bonding mechanism between kitten and mother.

    As the kitten grows into adulthood, purring continues. Many suggest a cat purrs from contentment and pleasure. But a cat also purrs when it is injured and in pain. Dr. Elizabeth Von Muggenthaler has suggested that the purr, with its low frequency vibrations, is a “natural healing mechanism.” Purring may be linked to the strengthening and repairing of bones, relief of pain, and wound healing

    This is a link to that paper:

    http://www.animalvoice.com/catpur.htm

    Purring is a unique vocal feature in the domestic cat. However, other species in the Felidae family also purr: Bobcat, Cheetah, Eurasian Lynx, Puma, and Wild Cat (Complete list in Peters, 2002). Although some big cats like lions exhibit a purr-like sound, studies show that the Patherinae subfamily: Lion, Leopard, Jaguar, Tiger, Snow Leopard, and Clouded Leopard do not exhibit true purring (Peters, 2002).”

    What makes the purr distinctive from other cat vocalizations is that it is produced during the entire respiratory cycle (inhaling and exhaling). Other vocalizations such as the “meow” are limited to the expiration of the breath.

    It was once thought that the purr was produced from blood surging through the inferior vena cava, but as research continues it seems that the intrinsic (internal) laryngeal muscles are the likely source for the purr. Moreover, there is an absence of purring in a cat with laryngeal paralysis. The laryngeal muscles are responsible for the opening and closing of the glottis (space between the vocal chords), which results in a separation of the vocal chords, and thus the purr sound. Studies have shown, that the movement of the laryngeal muscles is signaled from a unique “neural oscillator” (Frazer-Sisson, Rice, and Peters, 1991 & Remmers and Gautier, 1972) in the cat’s brain.

    Source: Library of Congress

  • Jun 8
    Indoor Cat in the Outside World
    Image by DWRose via Flickr

    With the improvements in veterinary technology in recent years, it isn’t unusual at all for a cat to live to be well over 18 years of age. As cat owners, there are many things we can do to help ensure that our cats live long and healthy lives. Here are a few of them.

    1. Every year, take your cat to the veterinarian for a full checkup exam. If your vet has some recommendations for you, please take the advice you are given. Your vet is a trained professional who has your cat’s best interest at heart. Giving your cat everything he needs for optimum health and prevention of disease is the first and most critical thing you can do for him.

    2. Cats who are neutered or spayed tend to live longer and with less stress than those who are not. For a male cat, neutering will reduce the tendency to wander and fight. For a female cat, giving birth repeatedly to litters of kittens can cause premature aging and stress.

    3. Experts have seen that indoor cats live far longer than cats who spend most of their time outside. Keeping your cat in helps to mitigate the risk of picking up diseases from other cats, getting into accidents or fights, being hit by a car, or “catnapped”.

    4. Cats have their own specific nutritional needs, different from humans or even dogs. Provide your cat with food that is nutritious and high in quality, and that contains the elements that cats specifically require for maintaining their health.

    5. Help your cat avoid becoming obese. In addition to good nutrition, give him exercise each day by playing with him and providing him with good scratching posts and climbing trees. An overweight cat is far more prone to diabetes and other feline diseases.

    6. Ask your veterinarian about supplements for your cat. Additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber added to your cat’s diet can also be very helpful for disease prevention.

    7. During each annual checkup with the vet, be sure that they check your cat’s teeth. If they recommend a professional cleaning, please do it. Keeping your cat’s teeth clean can help prevent kidney problems, one leading cause of sickness and early death for cats.

    8. Get into the habit of brushing and combing your cat every day. While you are grooming him, check for anything unusual in his body or skin. See your vet right away if you find anything that seems suspicious.

    9. Check the cleaners you use around the house for any dangerous chemicals or pesticides. Even a little bit on your cat’s fur or feet can cause serious effects for your cat if they are licked and swallowed. If at all possible, use only non-toxic cleaning supplies around your home. Also, check your house for any poisonous plants like poinsettias, and keep your cat away from them.

    10. Give your cat a quiet place to rest and relax, and to be away from anything in your home that might cause stress for him. This could include other animals, small children, or loud noises.

    11. If your cat is getting older, he will appreciate warmth and heat. Try a heating pad on a lower setting, or a sunny spot in a quite room. My 15-year-old cat loves to stretch out in our sunroom on a bright afternoon. You may see quite a change in his behavior.

    12. Give your cat lots of attention and affection every day. Even though cats can act very independent, they do love getting attention from the humans they love. When a cat knows that he is loved and well cared for, his emotional and physical health both benefit.

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

    P.S. You can ind many more great tips on cat behavior and caring for cats in Mary Matthew’s book “Ultimate Cat Secrets”.

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  • May 1
    cat communication

    Image by PJAR72 via Flickr

    As a fellow cat lover, I know how much you love your cat. And I’m sure you do everything you can to show her. I’m sure she knows how much you love her too! But wouldn’t it be great if you could say “I Love You” to your cat in actual cat language?

    Believe it or not, there are ways that you can communicate with your cat using the same signals that the cat would use to talk to you. By observing cats behavior and paying close attention to how they communicate with you, it isn’t too hard to pick up a few things. Here’s one that I have learned from my cats over the years.

    Have you ever noticed your cat looking at you with his eyes narrowed, almost squinting? That’s his way of “flirting” with you! Or maybe he looks at you and slowly closes his eyes, then just as slowly opens them again? That’s your cat’s way of saying “I Love You”. You can send him the same message, the same way. First, look at your cat directly in the eyes, but be careful not to stare, let your eyes go a little unfocused.

    Slowly close your eyes, while continuing to gaze at him, then as soon as your eyes are shut, slowly open them again. Be sure you don’t shut your eyes tightly, or keep them closed. Just use a very slow, soft close and then open, as if you were blinking in slow motion. Send him the thought “I Love You” at the same time to reinforce the message.

    Won’t your cat be surprised? It is likely that she will return the same gesture to you right away, my cat often does! It’s a very simple and charming bit of cats behavior to learn. This is something I try to say frequently to my cat, even just in passing. It doesn’t take long, it isn’t difficult, but your cat does understand. It’s a loving expression to receive from your cat, and just as loving to give.

    Try this with your cat today!

    Beth
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  • Sep 6

    new-natural-cat“The Natural Cat”, by Anitra Frazier with Norma Eckroate, does cats and their humans a big service by providing this comprehensive encyclopedia of all things related to caring for cats the holistic way. I first purchased the previous version of this book in 1995 just after I brought my two cats home to live, and I have been using it ever since as a source of information and understanding. Surely this information packed resource should be an important part of every cat care library!

    Anitra Frazier understands so many things about cat behavior and how to communicate with your cats, from the slow blink that says “I Love You” in cat language, to what cats really need in their diet, exercise and grooming, the right kind of scratching post to use, and just generally how to make your life with your cats the best it can be. Her love for cats and genuine concern for their well-being shines through in every page, and her knowledge amassed over years of caring for cats is apparent. I have given this book as a gift to many friends who have just adopted a cat, and each time they have commented on how much they have learned and how often they refer back to the book when they have a question. Anyone who has a cat or loves cats will want to read this book. It is especially a must for those who are living with a cat for the first time.

    The Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care

  • May 14
    Panther, a cat using toilet, photographed in S...

    Image via Wikipedia

    For many owners, daily litter box duties are one of the less pleasant aspects of caring for a cat.  Some cats love to dig and scratch in the litter, and can fling it outside the box and onto to the floor.  And it’s very easy for the cat to get litter stuck in his paws and track it all over the house.  Then, there’s the scooping and cleaning….

    So for some people who have the time and patience to put into it, toilet training cats is an ideal solution.  Be aware from the start that this won’t happen right away, and that you will need to be watchful and diligent as you go through the process.  But in the end, won’t it be wonderful to have a cat who willingly uses the toilet?  No more litter boxes, no more cleaning, no more litter tracked all over the floor.  Sound great?  Read on!

    If at all possible, have the family use a separate bathroom while you are training your cat.  This may not be an option for you, but if it is, it will make things that much easier.

    The first step will be to move your cat’s litter box into the bathroom and next to the toilet.  It will be important for all family members to be sure that they always leave the toilet seat down and the lid up, so that your cat will become accustomed to being next to the open toilet.  Next, begin slowly raising the litter box up to the level of the toilet by placing newspapers or other flat and stable items underneath.  Be sure not to use anything slippery, as this could scare your cat and defeat all your good efforts!  Do this gradually over a period of many days.  At first your cat will climb into the box, but as it gets higher up, he will probably jump onto the toilet seat before stepping into the box.  When this happens you are on your way!

    Once the litter box has been raised to the level of the toilet seat, the real work begins.  At this point, get a metal bowl that fits inside the toilet bowl and under the seat.  Make sure it doesn’t slide around when your cat jumps up on the seat.  You can use tape or another method to get it to stay if necessary.  Fill the bowl halfway with litter, so that it is similar to the litter box.  Remove the actual litter box from the bathroom at this point.  When your cat jumps up on the toilet bowl, he will see the litter in the bowl and should begin to use it for elimination.  Now, gradually reduce the amount of litter in the bowl (warning – this is the most unpleasant part of the process of toilet training cats – it will get VERY smelly for a while, hang in there!).  Encourage your cat to stand on the toilet seat instead of in the bowl, by gently moving his paws onto the seat.  Be sure the seat isn’t too slippery for him to stand on.  A cushioned toilet seat may be a good investment at this point!

    Finally, when you have reduced the amount of litter in the bowl to nothing, start putting in water, little by little so your cat can get used to it gradually.  Once you are filling the bowl part way with water, remove the bowl from the toilet altogether so that your cat stands on the seat and does his business directly into the toilet.

    Hopefully this will be a smooth process for you, but there are lots of things that can go wrong and your cat may refuse to cooperate.  There are some very useful resources on toilet training cats that you may want to refer to in this case.  One good one can be found in Mike Whyte’s book “Thinking Outside the Box”, a book on litter box issues with cats, that includes a chapter on toilet training along with how to deal with some of the potential pitfalls.  The techniques for toilet training cats are wonderful, and if you are having any other litter box issues with your cat, this guide is indispensible!

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

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  • Apr 3

    If you are a cat lover like me, you do your best to understand your cats, and to make their home and their life with you as pleasant and carefree as possible. But because we are different creatures after all, sometimes conflicts and unpleasant problems occur that can interfere with your enjoyment of your feline friends. One of the most frustrating cat behavior problems is when your cat suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) refuses to use his litter box, and instead pees all over the house. It can make your entire life miserable, and you feel you would do anything to make the problem go away. I am here to let you know about a wonderful and effective solution that helped me, and I’m sure it can work for you and your cat too.

    In our home, we had two neutered male cats, Eric and Felix, who we absolutely adored. Both were friendly and affectionate, well behaved cats. Then, not so long ago, my husband was asked to be out of town for work for an extended period. Although this did cause some stress in our house, it was not an insurmountable problem. I now had sole responsibility for taking care of my daughter and the two cats for the duration of his trip, along with my ongoing responsibilities in my own full time job. It wasn’t always easy. Of course my daughter and I missed my husband very much and lived in anticipation of the few occasions when we were able to get together for a visit.

    Thank goodness we had our two sweet cats to help us get through this time! Eric, being the dominant cat, took on my husband’s role as “man of the house”. He would make his rounds each day and night, making sure that we were all OK, and that nothing was amiss inside our home. At night he would curl up on my husband’s side of the bed, and often he would even snore! Felix, being the softer and gentler one, seemed to take it all in stride, although he did seek even more attention than normal, which we were only too happy to provide.

    The real cat behavior problems started when my husband finally returned home permanently. Eric had grown to see himself as the “alpha male”, and was now being threatened by the returning human. He began spraying and peeing outside the litter box, and at times he would even attack Felix and provoke fights. It didn’t take long before Felix was peeing on the floor and the furniture too. Our home had become a battleground, and our life inside it a constant struggle. Based on what I already knew about cats, I could tell that some kind of territorial issue was happening, but I had no idea how to deal with it or make it stop. We tried being extra affectionate with both cats, we tried punishing them when we caught them peeing inappropriately, but it didn’t make any difference. We found ourselves in a constant mode of cleaning up stains, yelling at the cats, yelling at each other. Our bills for having the furniture and rugs constantly cleaned were getting out of hand, and we couldn’t get the smell of cat pee out of the house. We were too embarrassed to have friends over, or to entertain the way we liked to do. Life had become unbearable, and I was desperate for any solution.

    It was while I was doing some research on the Web that I found Mike Whyte’s book “Thinking Outside The Box” (How to Stop Your Cat Peeing Outside The Litter Box). Mike also had gone through some very painful and expensive issues with inappropriate urination by his own cat, and it seemed like he really understood how desperate this kind of situation could be. Because he offered a 100% money back guarantee, I thought I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying his system myself. So I downloaded the book and bonuses and read them cover-to-cover. I was able to gain a great deal of insight into what was causing our cat behavior problems and how to deal with it. Then, by putting into practice just a few of the tips that Mike offered, we were able to start turning our situation around almost immediately. One thing we did was to get a second litter box, which allowed each of our cats to have his own space. We also started using the cat pheromone “Feliway” strategically. Within just a few days, our cats had stopped using the floor and furniture to pee, and were using the litter boxes just as they should. The few occasional slips were now easy to deal with, and before long they ended altogether. We were finally able to get the house clean, keep it clean, and restore order to our lives.

    In our case, it was the territorial issues, changes in our household and the competition that Eric felt with my husband that were the main problem. But in “Thinking Outside The Box”, Mike Whyte also goes into great detail about many other possible causes of inappropriate urination, including medical problems, issues with the litter or the box itself, placement of the litter box, multiple cat issues, and issues unique to outdoor cats. He even provides a section on how to toilet train your cat, if you feel that would be a good alternative to litter.

    After seeing how well Mike’s tips worked for us, I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough. I strongly urge everyone who is struggling with cat behavior problems like having their cat peeing outside the litter box to pick up a copy now!

    Here’s wishing all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

  • 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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