Showing posts with label full-time indoor cats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label full-time indoor cats. Show all posts

Monday 8 April 2024

In Japan the Maya Nyamber Card for indoor cats brings perks for the owner

Japan is good with domestic cats. They like their cats but they have stray cats like anywhere else and I have always said that stray cats are a symptom of failure in cat domestication. Nobody could dispute that. They can also endanger wildlife. We all know that too.

And on Amami-Oshima island in Kagoshima Prefecture they have wildlife, and it is wildlife which is protected as found in a declared World Natural Heritage site. Therefore the authorities want domestic cats to be kept indoors full-time which actually is quite a trending objective for many municipalities across the world particularly in the West.

Fictional image of an indoor cat on the Japanese island of Amami-Oshima who has his precious Maya Nyamber Card. Image: DALL-E 3

And in order to encourage owners to keep their cats indoors full-time and protect wildlife the authorities are issuing a Maya Nyamber Card, which is a kind of ID card for cats. So the purpose of this card is to encourage cat caregivers to be responsible and prevent their cat from becoming a stray and therefore possibly a feral cat at which point they might endanger precious wildlife on the island.


A cat caregiver will be eligible if there cat is spayed or neutered and kept indoors. The cat will also have to be micro-chipped and registered with the authorities. Five municipal governments: Amami, Setouchi, Tatsugo, Yamato, and Uken are issuing the cards.

On each card there will be the cat's name and address, the colour of their fur, an emergency contact number other than the number of the owner and a photo of the cat.

Fee and Perks

The application fee for this precious card is ¥1000 which works out at about US$7.50. And now for the precious perks. It was hard to find this information but there has to be a perk. There has to be something in it for the cat's owner otherwise they wouldn't do it. And it is said that the perks on offer are: information about cat adoption, photo exhibitions and an annual lottery event with prizes!

If that is the list of perks then I don't think that owners of cats kept indoors full-time will actually apply for this card. It isn't enough. That's my own opinion to which I am entitled.

Naming the card

Last point: the interesting name of this card Maya Nyamber Card is said to be a playful twist on another card called the My Number Card which I believe applies to people and in the cat version the word maya means cats in the local dialect and the word nyamber is a wordplay on "nyan" which is Japanese for a sound that resembled the meowing of a cat apparently. Don't ask me how that works out but that is how the name of the card was decided.


I suppose a last perk would be the fact that a responsible cat caregiver, concerned about wildlife, will have one of these cards and they can proudly tell people about it as a badge that they are excellent cat caregivers. But they can only do that in my opinion if they also enrich the environment of their cat kept indoors full-time. That is an essential element to the concept of full-time indoor cats.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Sunday 31 March 2024

Woman with MS changed her life after leash training her cat

Painting of a man leash walking his cat in the British countryside at sunset. 

MS is multiple sclerosis. This is a story which provokes me into carrying on with leash training my cat. It's a great little story about Jade de Monyé's decision to leash train her cat, Figaro. She says that her walks with her cat have "changed her life".

She says that Figaro loves to go for walks on a leash with her. She never forces him to do anything. He leads the way in effect. She said that, "I'll open the car door with his lead on and it's up to him if he wants to get out. I never push him into anything." Before she felt like staying at home which did not help her mood. It is much better now.

Jade and Figaro. Picture by Jade.

She says the obvious that it is not like walking a dog because cats tend to do what they want to do but I think you can actually go a step further and get a cat to behave somewhat like a dog. For her, she allows Figaro to go where he wants to go but he does like to sit "a lot at the water's edge and just watch all the birds. You can't 100% train a cat, it's just a lot harder".

Agreed. It is limited compared to dog training but it is possible to do it to a sufficient standard to very much enjoy going for walks with your cat in a very safe way for him or her. That's the big advantage. You could almost claim that it should be obligatory for a cat caregiver to leash train their full-time indoor cat. It is the only true way to allow a full-time indoor cat to enjoy the outdoors fully and safely.

That's her story and it's wonderful. I'm going to train my cat on a leash. I started do it many years ago and I'm going to pick up the training programme again and see whether I can get him out into the local park. I think you need a method to deal with dogs that you might encounter on your walks. That's the worry I have.

I think you need to train your cat to jump into your arms or get into a backpack cat carrier if you can foresee a troublesome encounter coming up with a dog. Other than that I think it should be workable in a park, particularly a park which is very large and where there are not many people as is the case me in Richmond Park which is quite near where I live.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 29 March 2024

Arguments for curbing cats' right to roam and counterarguments

Overview: this is an argument between allowing domestic cats to express their natural desires such as being crepuscular hunters and keeping them much safer indoors, away from road traffic, predators and poisons but unable to behave naturally. 

Which argument wins? Safety versus natural behaviour?

Let’s explore the arguments for curbing domestic cats’ right to roam:

  1. Safety Concerns:

    • Cats who have unrestricted outdoor access are at higher risk of road traffic accidents, injuries, and predation by other animals.
    • Exposure to outdoor hazards such as disease, parasites, and toxins can compromise their well-being .
  2. Wildlife Impact:

    • Free-roaming cats are natural hunters, and their instinct to catch small animals and birds can have a significant impact on local wildlife populations.
    • They contribute to the decline of songbirds and other small mammals, which is a concern for conservation efforts.
  3. Public Health and Disease Transmission:

    • Cats allowed to roam freely can spread diseases to both humans and wildlife. This includes diseases like toxoplasmosis.
    • Their interactions with wildlife can create a pathway for disease transmission.
  4. Cat Overpopulation and Abandonment:

    • The lack of control over outdoor cats has led to an ongoing “cat crisis” in many countries, including the UK.
    • Thousands of lost, abandoned, and unwanted cats contribute to the excess cat population.
    • Charities spend significant resources trying to repatriate them and combat indiscriminate breeding.
  5. Perceived Nuisance:

    • Cats’ natural behaviors, such as scratching, toileting habits, and hunting instincts, can be perceived as a nuisance by some people.
    • Their reputation as pests often leads to negative sentiments toward them.
  6. Ethical Considerations:

    • While some cat owners feel that restricting their cats’ movements is unnatural, there is a need to balance their freedom with responsible ownership.
    • Restricting outdoor access may be necessary to protect both cats and wildlife .

In summary, while cats’ right to roam is legally protected in many places, it’s essential to consider the impact on safety, wildlife, public health, and responsible pet ownership. Finding a balance that ensures cat welfare while minimizing negative consequences is crucial. 🐾


Let’s explore the arguments for preserving domestic cats’ right to roam:

  1. Legal Status and Freedom:

    • Unlike most other captive animals, domestic cats have the wonderful status under the laws of many countries, including the UK, of the “right to roam.”
    • In the UK, cats do not have to be securely confined and can roam without fear of legal repercussions for their actions.
    • They cannot trespass, so neither the cats nor their owners are liable for any damage, soiling, or nuisance caused by their roaming.
  2. Safety and Well-Being:

    • While indoor cats tend to live longer (often 15+ years), indoor/outdoor cats probably have a lifespan that is a little shorter due to various threats such as road accidents, killed by predators and poisoning by criminals.
    • Allowing cats to roam freely satisfies their natural instincts and contributes to their overall well-being.
  3. Less Likely to Cause Harm:

    • The law recognizes that cats are less likely to cause injury to people or damage property compared to some other animals e.g. dogs. 
    • This distinction justifies their right to roam without strict confinement.
  4. Enhancing Reputation and Well-Being:

    • Some cat owners feel that restricting their cats’ movements is unnatural. There is a need to let the domestic cat express its hunting desires. These are at the core of feline behaviour.
    • However, they are generally in favour of restricting their right to reproduce, which can help manage the cat population.
  5. Balancing Freedom and Responsibility:

    • While preserving cats’ freedom is essential, responsible ownership involves finding a balance.
    • Encouraging neutering, vaccination, and responsible breeding practices can address the drawbacks associated with unrestricted roaming.

In summary, the debate around cats’ right to roam involves weighing their natural instincts, safety, and impact on the environment. Finding a middle ground that protects both cats and their surroundings is crucial. 🐾

Sources: various including: The Conversation, Psyhology Today and


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Sunday 14 January 2024

30% of New Zealand cat owners are opposed to cat confinement and almost 50% are ambivalent

NEWS AND OPINION: This is a recent study from New Zealand about confining cats to the home i.e. full-time indoor cats. It's a modern trend and one that is being discussed in New Zealand as it is in many other developed countries. The objective is twofold (1) to keep the cats safe and (2) to keep wildlife safe from cat predation.

The New Zealand government and local governments within the country are particularly concerned about cat predation on wildlife - native species. They have a mentality which is similar to that found in Australia. It's one in which a focus is placed on protecting native species. The free-roaming domestic cat undermines that objective. But what do the citizens of New Zealand think about domestic cat confinement?

A survey of 395 cat owners as reported online on the Newshub website tells us that 30% of New Zealanders are opposed to keeping their cat inside the home full-time. Only 6% of cat owners in New Zealand do it at the moment while 17% are open to the possibility and 48% are unsure about the concept of full-time indoor cats.

This is not resounding support from cat-owning citizens for keeping cats inside the home. It doesn't surprise me. I've written in the past about the motivation of cat owners in keeping their cats indoors all the time and the prime objective is not to protect wildlife but to protect their cats. And in protecting their cats they avoid the emotional distress of their cat being harmed outside perhaps on the road.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that normally cat owners keep their cats inside to avoid the distress that they will suffer if their cat is harmed on the road for instance. To use a long word it is an example of anthropocentrism.

This, I would argue, explains why the percentages from this study are rather poor for those people in authority who wants to keep cats inside to protect wildlife.

The general trend in New Zealand and Australia is for the authorities to want to change the law or make demands on cat owners to keep their cats inside. This survey represents somewhat of a pushback from that desire.

Cat advocates in New Zealand think that it is impractical to demand that all cat owners keep their cats inside all-time and it might be too expensive in for example having to build a catio or a cat confinement fence all around the back yard (£4,000). Both these options are fairly expensive. Although a mini-catio is cheap and better than no catio:

You can't keep a cat locked up inside your home full-time unless you do something to entertain them which means enriching their environment. Hence the need for a catio. Even then it wouldn't be as good as allowing your cat outside in terms of mental stimulation.

The survey doesn't say this but a lot of cat owners want the best for their cat which means they want them to be happy and a domestic cat is happiest when they are out hunting! That sounds very anti-conservation and it is but if you are focusing on the cat only that is your objective.

New Zealand's cat advocates say that making micro-chipping and sterilisation obligatory would be effective over the long term in protecting wildlife. The problem with that plan is that it will take a very long time and it is difficult to enforce. Both these weaknesses in their plan will upset the authorities because they want something tangible quite quickly because they are elected officials and they need to demonstrate results i.e. success.

My personal view is that it's good that New Zealand is discussing these things but the problem is very hard to totally fix. One plank in the solution that has not been discussed in this news media article is education. If every cat owner was perfect they would microchip their cat, they would sterilise their cat, and they would take their cat outside on a lead or if they confine their cat to the home they would make sure that it was thoroughly enriched for their cat's entertainment. Many cat owners are far from perfect of course.

One issue is a lack of knowledge despite many years of discussion about cat caregiving on the internet. Things have improved by there is work to do.

I think education about cat ownership needs to be in the frame here. I would like to see domestic cat husbandry introduced into schools. It could be wider than that. You could have a course about companion animal husbandry for schoolkids. That should and could be part of the curriculum.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Woman with seven cats trapped in her home surrounded by floodwater

Scotland has been incredibly wet recently. In fact, the whole of the UK is completely sodden and it is raining incessantly at the moment in the south of England. Is this global warming? We didn't used to get it this wet in years gone by. Nowhere near. Scotland has suffered the worst of it and Ms Brown in Brechin, Scotland, says that it is the worst flooding she has seen in 25 years.

Ms Brown trapped in her home with her 7 cats on River Street, Brechin, Scotland
Ms Brown trapped in her home with her 7 cats on River Street, Brechin, Scotland. Image: PA.

She is trapped in her home with her seven cats. It seems fortunate to me that her home is slightly raised with steps leading to the front door. This must have helped to protect her home from flooding inside.

The chaos has been caused by Storm Babet with many residents evacuated from homes and cars and lorries stranded.

I will turn my mind to the problems encountered by Ms Brown, stuck in her home with her seven cats. The question for her will be when she can leave her home to buy some food and other provisions.

And this begs the question as to whether she has sufficient food and cat litter in her home to supply her cats for the foreseeable future. As a rough guess, I would estimate that she won't be able to get out of the house - unless she swims or rescue teams come around in a boat - for about a week.

With seven cats, she needs quite a lot of food and cat litter so unless she has a good supply she will run out.

The story also begs the question as to whether people should have seven cats! A tricky question. I don't think they should. Ms Brown lives on a road, ironically called River Street. I suspect her cats are full-time indoor cats to protect them from road traffic.

I don't think it is viable to keep seven cats inside a home full-time unless you are incredibly well organised which is highly unlikely. You'll get cat smells, poop smells, urine smells, you name it and you've got it in terms of odours. Ammonia comes to mind. That's because it's almost impossible to keep a home with seven cat odour free when they live inside full-time.

It can be done and it has been done but with great expertise and commitment. I'm not saying that Ms Brown has a smelly home. It is likely that she has but is not certain. She may manage her seven cats really well. That said, I still don't think seven cats should be banged up inside a home full-time.

My neighbour has a similar number and they, too, are full-time indoor cats. One of them cried outside in a miserable cat run for about two months and now he has fallen silent. His morale has been crushed by the fact that he knows that he will never get out. So, I am sure that he just curls up and sleeps all day. I find that difficult to accept. I don't like to think about it because it upsets me.

The video below come from the Daily Mail newspaper and I can't guarantee that it will continue to function in the long-term future. If it has stopped functioning, I am sorry.

P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Thursday 28 September 2023

Is it bad for a cat to spend all their time indoors without going outside at all?

A simple example of enriching the cat's environment by a friend's husband who lives in the US.

A person on social media asked the above question. Another asked a very similar question: "How do cats stand staying inside their whole life?"

The questions go to that eternal debate about the necessity - it is believed by many - to keep domestic cats indoors full-time for their safety, for their owner's peace of mind and to protect wildlife.

Many more people are keeping their cats indoors full-time nowadays than in the past. If you go back far enough into the past, nobody kept their cat inside full-time. And in certain parts of the world, most domestic cat are community cats. They mingle between different owners. It is a very were loose relationship and they are all outdoor cats.

Cat domestication is still on a journey which started 10,000 years ago. It's evolving and it will be very different in 10,000 years' time.

I suspect that in 10,000 years' time all domestic cats will be full-time indoor cats. And I hope at that time cat owners will have done something about a major failing that is apparent to me nowadays.

This is that you can't just keep cats indoors full-time by locking the doors and windows on them. You can do that but if your cat is used to going outside, they will be unhappy. They will be confused.

But if you raise a kitten from scratch i.e. as a newborn and they begin their life indoors and they remain indoors it is more likely that they will be happy staying indoors all their lives. That's because of the obvious reason that they only know life indoors. That is their world.

So, the starting point is important. And equally important is how enjoyable you make the indoors for your cat. You must have heard the phrase "environmental enrichment". If you haven't it means converting the inside of your home to be equally suitable for humans and cats!

This is how the indoors should be for full-time indoor cats! Very few cat caregivers go this far. The words in the image are those of the constructor of the cat runs. Image in the public domain.

Very few people do that by which I mean making it equally good for both species. But some people do make the interior of their home more interesting for their cat companion. This would include variously:

  • Providing lots of climbing materials such as cat trees, some of which might go to the ceiling;
  • Providing cat runs which traverse the walls and go up to the ceiling!
  • Providing little hidey-hole places where they can hide and sleep. They should be high up sometimes where they will feel more secure.
  • Providing toys to play with and then playing with your cat frequently.
  • Building a catio, which is a small enclosure attached to the home with a wire grill to the exterior so the cat can smell and see the exterior more easily. They can employ their senses to pick up all that is going on in the exterior.

Cats need to be able to travel vertically as well as horizontally. They need a den the sleeping which is covered. Cats like something over their heads when they sleep ideally. That is not an absolute requirement but it's a good recommendation.

So, the answer to the question is you can keep cats indoors full-time but there is an added obligation on the owner to make sure that their cat does not become bored. There are tens of millions of very bored full-time indoor cats in America and elsewhere. And they end up pleasure eating to relieve the boredom which leads to obesity which in turn leads to illnesses such as feline diabetes.

When people say their indoor cat sleeps all the time, it is no surprise to me because they have nothing else to do. They are not actually in deep sleep. They are simply snoozing, killing time, resting and zoning out. It is incumbent upon cat owners to really rise to this very difficult challenge of enriching their cat's environment if they are confined to it.

When they do it is not bad to keep a cat indoors all the time. If they don't rise to the challenge, it is bad! It is down to the caregiver to make it work. Thus far I have not seen enough - anywhere near enough - commitment to enriching a cat's indoor environment.

There are some secondary issues which are perhaps obvious. It's much easier for a full-time indoor cat to live in a big house with many rooms. Lots more space. It's much harder for a cat to live in a bedsit in a high-rise apartment block. It's much harder to make the latter environment enriched compared to the former.

And also, there's the question of how often the owner is around. I believe that it's important that the caregiver is around a lot to ensure that the indoor cat is entertained. Perhaps I'm being too demanding and expecting to high a standard. But this goes back to the original issue about the added responsibility placed upon the caregiver of full-time indoor cats.

Tuesday 12 September 2023

Keeping cats indoors is a rare solution where everybody wins including the cat. Is this correct?

Full-time indoors
Full-time indoors. Image: MikeB (Canva).

In The Guardian today there is an article written by Calla Wahlquist which says that keeping cats indoors is a solution where everybody wins. By "everybody" I presume she means people and cats. She is goes on to state that "cats should be kept indoors for the sake of cats".

For full-time indoor cats their behaviour is neutered as is their anatomy. It is the modern way to turn cats into fluffy plush feline toys. - MikeB

How does she know? How does she know what is good for cats? Is she mind reading domestic cats? No, she's not. All she is doing is stating that when cats are kept indoors, they are protected and therefore safer. But that might not be the same thing as being what's good for cats. Domestic cats might like to take risks. They might not mind being injured or hurt or killed. Perhaps their normal lifestyle is to take risks? Perhaps they are happier when they take risks.

Perhaps they need to be predators outside unsupervised. Perhaps being happy and living a life which is shorter is better than being unhappy and living a life which is longer. A lot of people think that statement is true.

And there is a big hole in her argument. People do keep cats indoors a lot nowadays to protect wildlife and keep their cat safe but they do not enrich the interior of their homes to ensure that their full-time indoor cats are kept entertained; kept happy. They just close the doors on them and confine them to what is a list zoo-like but entirely human environment. Somewhat sterile. Perhaps very sterile.

And that's why you often see people saying that their cat sleeps all day. Absolutely! That's all he or she can do. There is nothing else to do but to sleep/snooze because the poor thing is confined to the indoors all the time and the owner is not entertaining them. He or she is not playing with them. There is no way to express their character. The natural drives are neutered as are they. There is no cat companion to play with. Is that better for the cat?

The reason why people keep cats indoors all the time is for their peace of mind. That is the primary purpose. The secondary purpose is to keep wildlife safe but you will find in studies that the vast majority of people don't really care about keeping wildlife safe. They want to keep their cats safe because they don't want to be anxious about their cat being hurt outside. Or lost or stolen.

The decision to keep a cat indoors full-time is human-centric. It is about human emotions primarily. And in Australia where there is a trend towards keeping cats indoors full-time or curfews on keeping cats indoors at night, this changing human behaviour is a directive from the authorities. It is the conservationists of Australia who are telling the authorities to do all they can to stop domestic cat preying on native mammals and marsupials, especially the small ones. 

And so, the authorities dictate to people to keep the cats indoors. If it wasn't for that directive, I don't think they would do it. Unless of course they've being fully indoctrinated about protecting wildlife which actually might be the case.

I can't even be bothered to read Calla's article because I know what it states before I read it. It's just talking about protecting wildlife and then arguing back from there to say that it's better for cats anyway to keep them indoors. Frankly, it isn't. 

If we really wanted to make the domestic cat's life better, we would allow them to go outside perhaps into a large enclosure which encompasses the entire backyard full of games for the cat to play and trees to climb. No one will do that because it's too expensive. They will just close the front and back door and call the job done. I get it. I understand what's going on but Calla is wrong when she confidently says that everybody wins.

When you keep cats indoors full-time the cat does not win. They lose. They lose their life. They lose a chance to express that predatory drive. To hunt, to chase the feel alive. Their behaviour is neutered as well as their anatomy.

Monday 4 September 2023

Japanese islands issue ID cards to all the cats

The Amami Islands to the south of mainland Japan, are considered to be a living fossil because it is cut off from the rest of the world and has great wildlife and for that reason. The local government has decided to issue ID cards to all the cats on the islands. ID cards are already issued to their owners. This, therefore, is an extension of the scheme.

ID cards for cats on Amami Islands
ID cards for cats on Amami Islands. Image: Kazuaki Kanda.

But unlike for humans, the cats won't be getting the cards for social security and tax purposes but, instead, to ensure that they are registered and thereby improve cat ownership with the subsequent benefit of less predation on wildlife. The government wants the cat owners of these islands to keep their cats inside full-time.

A government spokesperson said that, "By issuing the card, we want to increase the number of owners who keep their cats indoors and accelerate momentum to eliminate unwanted cats". Comment: they feel that they have a cat problem and a predation on native wildlife problem it seems to me. This move seems to be a reflection of the general trend worldwide to keep domestic cats indoors full-time more often to protect wildlife. There is a greater sensitivity to the protection of wildlife in many jurisdictions in 2023.

In every country or every jurisdiction there comes a moment when the government takes steps, quite severe steps, to protect wildlife from domestic cat predation. That moment has arrived on the Amami Islands.

Feral cats have been a persistent problem on the island because they prey on the Amami rabbit which is designated a "special natural treasure" by the government. And there are other species that the government was to protect from predation.

The card issued to people is called "My Number Card". For cats it will be "Maya Nyamber Card"

This is a play on words because "nyan" means cats in the local dialect while "nyamber" is a wordplay on "nyan" which sounds a bit like the meowing of a cat.

The inspiration for this seems to have come from a very popular video published in 2011. Nyan Cat is a YouTube video uploaded in April 2011, which became an internet meme. The video merged a Japanese pop song with an animated cartoon cat with a Pop-Tart for a torso flying through space and leaving a rainbow trail behind. The video ranked at number five on the list of most viewed YouTube videos in 2011.

The card will bear the name of the cat, their address and details about their appearance such as the colour of their coat. The card will carry a photograph of the cat and an emergency contact number other than the number of the owner.

Currently around 2500 cats are registered on the island. There are approximately 1600 strays. More than 90% of domestic cats have been spayed and neutered and 73% have been micro-chipped.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

You can't check your cat's poop without difficulty if she is an indoor/outdoor cat

This is an aspect of looking after an indoor/outdoor cat which genuinely concerns me. Indoor/outdoor cats go to the toilet outside. Normally you never see it happen. I don't see my cat going to the toilet. I sort of know when he is gone to the toilet because he does it at a similar time each day and I can smell actually that he has just been but I don't know where and I don't see his poop.

And to be perfectly honest I am failing my cat in this respect because at a very simple level it is useful for a cat caregiver to check their cat's poop from time to time. It is a good diagnostic tool. And of course, if your cat is an indoor cat, you will be looking at your cat's poop every day when you clean out the litter tray. It's an automatic, quick check on your cat's digestive system and general health.

A lot of illnesses result in diarrhoea. Diarrhoea, as you no doubt know, is not a disease but a symptom. A common cause is overfeeding because the colon cannot deal with the quantity of food provided.

Food in the small intestine takes about eight hours to get to the colon. The bulk of the food is absorbed at this stage. 80% of water is absorbed in the small bowel. The colon concentrates and stores the waste and at the end of the process a well-formed stool is evacuated containing no mucous, blood or undigested food.

But if the food passes through the intestinal tract rapidly it is incompletely digested and arrives at the rectum in a liquid state. This is diarrhoea. And the transit time down the gastrointestinal tract can be speeded up because the cat has eaten some irritating substances including (this is not a complete list):

  • Dead birds, rodents and other dead animals; 
  • decaying food and garbage;
  • foods that are too rich, salts, spices and fat;
  • indigestible items such as plastic, paper, cloth et cetera;
  • intestine or parasites (endoparasites).

Although it can happen, it is uncommon for a cat to have diarrhoea from eating toxic substances. This is because cats are quite careful about what they eat and they tend to eat slowly. But sometimes toxic substances can be ingested when their cat grooms themselves and clean their feet. These toxic substances can be toxic to the stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhoea. The substances include, for example:

  • Tar derivatives, oil, kerosene gasoline;
  • refrigerants and cleaning fluids;
  • toilet bowl cleaner inserts, bleaches, insecticide;
  • mushrooms, ornamental plants and wild plants;
  • and building materials such as paints, lime and cement.

Some adult cats and kittens are unable to digest milk and milk byproducts. This is because they are lactose intolerant. Most domestic cats are lactose intolerant because they lack adequate amounts of the enzyme lactase. It causes diarrhea and for kittens it can be very serious because it dehydrates and ultimately it can kill kittens if the problem is left unaddressed.

Finally, some cats experience emotional diarrhoea when they are excited or stressed. If you want to narrow the search for the cause of the diarrhoea you begin by examining the colour, frequency of stools and the odour and consistency.

It is notable that veterinarians suggest that you bring to a veterinary clinic appointment a sample of your cat's stool as it will be useful to your veterinarian in diagnosing illness

Analysing diarrhoea, although it sounds horrible, is a very good way to diagnose the where it has happened in the intestines such as rapid transit or a bacterial infection or malabsorption and then from that you may be able to get a handle on the underlying cause.

  1. For example, if there are several small stools in an hour with straining the likely location is the colon and the likely cause is colitis according to my veterinary handbook.
  2. If, in another example, the diarrhoea is putrid, the likely location where this happens is the small bowel and the likely cause is an intestinal infection with bleeding.
  3. In a third example, if the colour and appearance of the stool is soft and bulky, the location where this occurs is a small bowel (rapid transit) and the likely cause is due to overfeeding or poor-quality diet, high in fibre.

My suggestion if you want to take me up on this would be to occasionally place a litter tray in the home or outside the home with fresh litter substrate in the tray to encourage your cat to use it at which time you will be able to check on their poop.

Of course, you can make an outdoor toilet with sand or some other suitable substance but there's no guarantee that your cat will use it and they might have a variety of locations where they go to the toilet of which you are unaware. 

It is very convenient for the caregiver if their cat goes to the toilet outside. Perhaps it is too convenient because you tend to accept it and forget about the advantages of cleaning the litter tray. That's sounds extraordinary but there are advantages in terms of monitoring your cat's health.

Monday 17 July 2023

Marketa Vondrousova's Sphynx cat kept her husband at home until the Wimbledon final

Well, for me, it is nice to know that the Wimbledon champion likes cats even if she bought a hairless one - a Sphynx - which is a little controversial as some people think that some cat breeds should not have been created because they are too unnatural and require specialist care as does the Sphynx. It is called torture breeding in Germany.

It is nice that Vondrousova's husband stayed behind in the Czech Republic to care for their cat Frankie while she was battling her way to the final.

The couple decided that he should come over for the final and arranged for a cat sitter to take his place. It worked out for them.

Sphynx cats are normally indoor cats as UVB light can harm them as they have no skin protection from fur. 

Also, they need cleaning regularly as the oils from their sebaceous glands sits on their skin and not on the fur where it protects it and makes it feel silky. 

When the oil is on exposed skin it attracts grime. The skin becomes dirty and needs regular cleaning. The Sphynx ears also need regular cleaning as they become.

This is a highly active, monkey-like cat breed. And they are intelligent. They've described affectionately as 'part monkey, part dog'!

Despite having almost no fur, they do have some; a downy soft coat like you see on peaches! This is why the breed has coat markings. There is also the fact that the pigment producing cells in the skin follow the pattern so we see coat patterns on this hairless cat which is a little strange.

Frankie has a brindled-like coat. The whiskers are typical of a Sphynx; broken, short and curly with some missing. This another aspect of the cat's unnaturalness. The whiskers are an important part of a cat's anatomy.

Frankie Sphynx cat
Frankie Sphynx cat. Image: Vondrousova.

Friday 16 June 2023

10 best cats for apartments??

You are going to see lots of articles on the Internet about the best cat breeds for apartment living. They are all baloney if we are honest. It's all mumbo-jumbo. Believe me. Don't believe them. There might be one or two cat breeds which are slightly better predisposed to living in a confined space for their lives such as the Ragdoll or British Shorthair but by-and-large the confident statements by these authors are simply misplaced.

Young British Shorthair. Photo: atquintessence
Young British Shorthair. Photo: atquintessence.

Here is a cat breed selector I made years ago. My research then pointed to the British Shorthair as the best for apartment living but that's not to say they are fine with apartment living. I don't think any domestic cat is, purebred or non-purebred. It is too unnatural. Too confined. I am not criticising. Just saying it the way I see it.

Cat breeders don't create cats for apartment living. They create domestic cats of a certain breed. And all domestic cats have the same fundamental attributes. They are a barely domesticated wildcat. The wildcat persona is just below the surface.

Selective breeding for character??

Certainly, selective breeding over many generations can create cats with a predisposition to a certain sort of character. But that said, cat breeders focus on the appearance of their cats not their character.

The character is somewhat incidental in their breeding programs. Authors who write about cat breeds like to try and distinguish the personalities of the cat breeds, one from another. But they struggle to do this. Their language is rather gray and vague because what they are describing is a domestic cat.

One of the great difficulties in creating new cat breeds is creating one which can be distinguished visually clearly from another. There is not enough space left in the spectrum of cat breeds to create a new one!

The Persian is another cat which might be somewhat suited to apartment living because they been described as bits of furniture. They are kind of decorative. But they are nervous and can sometimes have litter box problems. I don't see them as any more suitable to apartment living as any other breed of cat or non-purebred cat.


In fact, you might do better with a non-purebred cat, a rescue cat, a moggy who has adapted to apartment living. This is the point. Domestic cats are adaptable. If they are forced to live in an apartment, they will object to it initially. They will meow and complain but eventually they will give up and learn to live within this confined space.

They will entertain themselves by looking out of the window. They will snooze and sleep most of the time. That's why you read another improbability which is that domestic cats sleep for 20 hours a day and this sort of thing. If they do snooze but not sleep for long periods it is because they are bored and have nothing to do.

They are snoozing for survival. Some cat caregivers think that domestic cats like to snooze all day long but they don't. They would rather be out exploring, hunting, chasing wildlife. Yes, I know that's not particularly popular and we can't condone the hunting of small mammals by domestic cats but that is what we have achieved in domesticating the wildcat.

Rescue cat adapted to apartment living

If you want to adopt a cat for apartment dwelling you will have to adopt a cat with a suitable personality. Each cat is different. If you are fortunate enough to find a rescue cat adapted to apartment dwelling and who has a personality suited to apartment dwelling then you've got your cat. I would ask your local cat shelter about this. Seek their advice.

But I don't think you can with great confidence say that that a particular breed such as an American Shorthair or Burmese or Birman will be great for apartment living. You can't. Don't be fooled by these authors and these websites. Be more critical. Dig around. But be critical and inquisitive. Find a good rescue cat who has lived in an apartment before. That's my advice.

Friday 9 June 2023

Cute apartment cat races to the front door to greet their human

This is what it means to an apartment cat when their owner comes home. In this case there are 2 owners - a couple. I can say that with certainty as one of them (I believe the female partner) videoed their cat racing to the front door when the guy returns home from what appears to be a day at work.

It is very cute to see a cat race to greet their human companion after separation for 10 hours or so. I am guessing as he might be working part-time.

The video is from the TikTok account of Big Alfred.

It reminds us that if an apartment cat - a full-time indoor cat - is home alone all day it is tough for them. There are two forces at play: it is hard to make apartment life mentally stimulating for a domestic cat because it is hard to 'catify' (Jackson Galaxy language) the home i.e., make is highly suitable for a domestic cat.

You can't build a catio (normally). Or a window box. All they've got is cat television (looking out the window). And that's not going to be any good in a high rise building as there are very few birds and no ground dwelling animals outside to gawp at and think about hunting.

It is a cultural desert for the cat.  They are bound to become bored. This is one reason why this cute, moustached cat races to greet the man. He is seeking entertainment, some sort of mental stimulation.

And of course, to be close to their human companion/caregiver as they obviously have a nice bond. The other problem is that the owner has to earn a living! That means not being there if they are not permitted to work from home.

This in turn means separation anxiety on a daily basis. How long can you leave a cat alone? A good question. 

There is an article on the internet today written by a vet and dog expert. Link to my article on this aspect of dog ownership. He says that dogs should not be left alone at home for more than four hours at a time! How many owners break that rule?!

Cats are not that different, really. Yes, they are not pack animals and inherently solitary but they are domesticated and form close ties to their caregiver. 

When you temporarily break that tie to go to work it's going to be stressful for the cat. It depends on the cat's personality as to how stressful. But it'll be there.

Millions of people leave their cat alone every day for more than 4 hours! Some cat owners are unsuited to caring for a cat because their lifestyle simply prevents it being done properly.

People need to be tough on themselves when deciding to adopt a cat. Can you do it to a high standard? Any doubts don't do it.

Monday 22 May 2023

There are deficiencies in indoor cat housing causing multiple behavioural problems

The title comes from a study dated 1997 of around 1200 cats living indoors full-time.

Many more domestic cats are full-time indoor cats today, 2023, then there were 20 years ago. There is a trend towards keeping domestic cat indoors full-time. 

The domestic cat, it is said, is barely domesticated. They retain, underneath the surface, their wild cat behaviours. This includes the size of their home range and all the other behaviours to do with a solitary, predatory lifestyle.

Full-time indoor cat superhighway. An important aspect of creating a good indoor environment
Full-time indoor cat superhighway. An important aspect of creating a good indoor environment. Image in public domain.

In 1997, a study assessed the behaviour of just under 1200 full-time indoor cats owned by 550 owners. A total of 65% of the cats were standard random-bred cats described as "domestic European shorthairs". 

Just under 80% were sterilized animals. Comment: this is a quite a high percentage of unsterilised domestic cats which may have had an effect on the conclusions because unsterilised gets retain more of their wild cat inherited behaviours all of which will be unwanted by a human.

87 percent of the owners were female and 59% of the household had more than one cat with an average of 2.2 cats per household.

On average, an individual cat used 34 m² of living space and had five different resting places.

Cat walks
Cat walks. Important for full-time indoor cats. Image in public domain.

Importantly, the owner's bed was the favourite resting place in 52% of the cases. Comment: this is because the owner's bed carries the most body odour of any other area in the home. And body odour is very important to domestic cats. It's also why sometimes domestic cats defecate on their owner's bed when they are stressed. They want to merge their scent in their faeces with the scent of their owner to reassure themselves.

RELATED: Every full-time indoor cat should have a window box (at least).

55% of the owners let the cat out under various levels of control. 79% fed their cats in the kitchen and 24% of the cats had communal food bowls.

A total of 51% of the cats had to share their cat toilet. Comment: this is a very bad policy. Jackson Galaxy, the well-known American cat behaviourist advises that there should be one cat litter per cat plus one extra. 

You do not want resource guarding behaviour by a dominant cat over a subservient cat which might take place if there isn't enough litter trays. And to share food bowls will help promote the same problem.

22% of the cat were fed in the same room as their toilet. That means that one-fifth of cases the food bowl was in the same room as the litter tray which is also a very bad idea.

The picture painted by the study is that the owners were not doing a great job looking after their full-time indoor cats. This is probably why in 54.7% of the households the owners complained of one or more behavioural problems with their cats.

The owners were given self-assessment questionnaires. The most often mentioned cat behaviour problems were:

  • A state of anxiety in 16.7% of the cats,
  • 15.2% of the cat scratched furniture,
  • Feeding problems accounted for 10.9% of complaints,
  • 10.5% of cat owners complained about cat aggression
  • 8.2% of the owners complained about inappropriate urination and urine spraying
  • And defecation in the home was a problem in 5.2% of the cases.

They concluded that neutered females exhibited problems most often. Owners with children complained more often about cat behaviour. Comment: probably because the kids were mishandling the cats and getting scratched and the cats were getting stressed.

When the owner spent more time interacting with their cat i.e. for several hours spread over the day they mentioned problems less often.

Cat owners spent less effort trying to resolve cat anxiety problems and scratching furniture problems than other problems.

In many cases the owners were unable to solve the problems on their own

The overall conclusion was that "there are deficiencies in indoor cat housing and that owners need help to correct them."

RELATED: The big flaw that is never admitted in keeping cats indoors full-time.

I have said it before; with the trend for full-time indoor cats not enough is being done in parallel with this to ensure that the environment is adequate as a good substitute for the indoor/outdoor environment. This is going to cause behavioural problems. This may in turn lead to an increase in cats being abandoned to shelters or simply dumped.

Study: Housing conditions and behavioural problems of indoor cats as assessed by their owners. Link:

Friday 13 January 2023

Cat ownership in Finland. What is it like?

I wanted to discover some definitive laws about cat ownership in Finland, specifically with regard to whether domestic cats can go outside and wander around freely. I wanted to ask this question because Finland to an outsider is a cold place. It would seem to be inhospitable to domestic cats to be outside. Of course, I am stereotyping but what is the general rule about letting cats go outside?

Domestic cat in Finnish weather
Domestic cat in Finnish weather. Image in public domain.

I couldn't find any really good specific details but people who have lived in Finland say this.

They say that outside of the cities free roaming cats are quite common. The same applies to semi-feral barn cats and what the Finish called "summer cats". These are cats which have been adopted during summer months and then abandoned when winter arrives. That sounds rather unpleasant I must say. I would have expected better from the Finish.

I don't know of any specific law which states that domestic cats living in Finnish cities have to be kept indoors. I don't think they exist. I think the general rule is that domestic cats can't wander into certain places. To achieve this, they should be under supervision when outside the home.

Apparently, the law is "pretty clear" as per a person who has lived in Finland. They state that "any animal free roaming is supposed to be supervised by its owner. Any animal without its owner close by can be considered abandoned and, for example, a free roaming cat without its owner found on the property of someone else, might be killed."

They further state that there are hunters in the countryside shooting at stray and feral cats. They have the right to do this provided the cat in question is unsupervised and therefore the owner is not nearby and, further, they don't have a collar with an identification tag.

The general consensus in Finland appears to be that domestic cats in cities should be kept indoors and those that live in the countryside can roam freely or it is tolerated despite what I've said in the last paragraph!

I think, judging from my reading of this topic, the situation is rather vague and untidy. I could not find specific laws about indoor/outdoor cats. And I'm good at researching on the Internet.

People who have lived in Finland provide rather vague answers to the question whether domestic cats are allowed outside unsupervised.

This appears to be leading to the shooting of cats without sanction from the authorities. On that topic, if there is a law regarding keeping cats indoors, it is apparently unenforced or enforced poorly.

As in other countries, the Finish apparently are drifting towards the idea of full-time indoor cats. Although, you still see indoor/outdoor cats outside in the bigger cities. But it is apparently "technically illegal".

My research also indicates that sterilising domestic cats is not mandatory, which leaves many indoor/outdoor cats living in the countryside unsterilised, free to breed and procreate thereby encouraging shooters to take pot shots.

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Should you let your Bengal cat outside? Answer: it depends!

I have just visited my doctor's surgery. I walked down to the clinic (about 25 minutes) and on the way back I saw a beautiful Bengal cat on the sidewalk and then crossing the road before entering the grounds of his home through the grille of a fence where he marked his territory against an object in the front garden. It got me thinking. Why was this Bengal cat outside wandering freely? Should you let your Bengal cat outside? And the answer is, it depends.

Here is the cat I describe. It is a poor quality picture I am afraid:

Bengal cat wandering outside in Kingston Upon Thames
Bengal cat wandering outside in Kingston Upon Thames. Image: MikeB

I do not believe that you can let your Bengal cat go outside in the way that I saw today, to roam freely at will wherever they want to. Bengals are too glamorous and too enticing to steal. The cat I saw was beautiful and stood out.


However, I do believe that Bengal cats should be allowed outside under supervision. This means that if, in the instance I refer to above, you live in a city, it must mean on a lead and harness. You can teach your Bengal cat to accept a lead and harness. This is much easier if you do it when they are young and ideally a kitten.

Most domestic cats need training to accept a harness and lead. Once you do they will generally walk with you although not like a dog. You are going to need a lot of patience and going nowhere for a while they investigate their immediate surroundings. Taking a smart phone with you to surf the internet will help with your patience 😃✔️. But keep a look out for dangers such as dogs.

Also, you can allow a Bengal cat outside if you have a backyard without trees and around which you can place a cat confinement fence. This may be very effective. I think, however, that it will be less effective than a harness and lead.

The reason is that a Bengal cat might be able to escape a cat confinement fence even if it is customised and cleverly constructed. Bengal cats are very athletic, inquisitive and determined. Of all the domestic cats the Bengal is the most likely to escape a cat confinement fence around a backyard.

A third option is a catio which allows a Bengal cat to smell the air and perhaps feel some grass under their feet. Catios are a good compromise between keeping a domestic cat indoors full-time and allowing them to have some sense of nature and stimulation from nature.


The need to stimulate a domestic cat is particularly important with Bengals because they are wildcat hybrids. Wildcat hybrids are generally slightly more intelligent than your typical domestic cat because they inherit their intelligence from their wild cat counterpart which for the Bengal cat is the Asiatic leopard cat.

And because they are confined to the indoors full-time they are likely to get bored and they might become a bit difficult. Plenty of stimulation which means playing with them and customising the interior of your home with, for example, a catio, and climbers is the way forward.

Harness and lead

Personally, I would go for adopting a Bengal kitten and immediately train them to accept a harness and lead from the get go and take them out. The harness should be a thick and secure one. You do not want your Bengal cat wriggling free. Some of the earlier harnesses and the cheaper ones are not, in my opinion, secure enough to stop an anxious Bengal cat wriggling out and running away.

Sometimes domestic cats become anxious and excitable when in a harness on a lead. This can make them do stupid things and in the wrong environment those stupid actions can lead to harm.

Good training when young and sensible supervision when on a lead is the answer.

Dr Bruce Fogle

Dr. Bruce Fogle, the UK's number one veterinarian/author, boldly and confidently states that training your cat is logical. Domestic cats train themselves very often and they sometimes train their owner as well. It is a mutual form of training.

In one of his books, Complete Cat Care he says that when cat owners come into his veterinary clinic it is pretty normal for them to feel guilty about not letting their cats go outdoors. And he recommends what I recommend by saying that:

"If you want to give your cat the option of going outdoors, and it too dangerous for it to do so on its own, training it to walk on a lead is an option for any relaxed cat that's not fearful of the outdoors."

Bengal cats are normally pretty confident and therefore should not be fearful of the outdoors. You can go online, I would suggest Amazon, to find a thoroughly sound harness and lead. Some harnesses are much easier to get into than others. I would pick one of those because it can be difficult to get a cat into a harness! But there again if they are trained from kittenhood it shouldn't be a problem.

Bruce has some lead-training tips and here they are:

  • Training a cat to walk on a lead takes patience. It is designed for confident cats who are not frightened of the outdoors. Note: confidence can be built up and taking your cat for a walk on lead will get them used to the outside safely.
  • If you decide to train your cat to walk on a lead you should continue to do so because once they experience the outside on a lead they will possibly find the indoors boring and it would be unfair on your cat.
  • You should never apply tension to the lead as it is not designed to direct a cat but to simply keep them safe.
  • You should avoid parks with dogs or noisy frightening places. A quiet, possibly fenced area, is the best.
  • During a training session to walk on a lead, if your cat pulls on it wanting to go somewhere, go with the flow and don't pull back as your instincts might direct you. I think that this is where it is different between a dog and a cat. You can't really train a cat like a dog. Cats are trainable but there needs to be a little more flexibility in how you walk a cat on a lead compared to a dog.
  • While walking outside with your cat on a lead, if you don't want to go where your cat wants to go, instead of pulling back, just pick your cat up, move elsewhere and start lead walking again.

Saturday 6 August 2022

Best dry food for indoor cats?

This is a question on by a mum who has started to foster cats. Here is her question:

Hello, I've recently started fostering & have a neutered male who the vet thinks is about three. Because he's being fostered, he has to stay inside, so I'm making sure he gets as much exercise & entertainment as possible while he's here - climbing up to reach treats, jumping & chasing when we play with his toys, etc.

I've been giving him Go-Cat for indoor cats because that's what he was on when he came here, but a friend's just told me this is linked to UTIs. What would the Litter Tray experts recommend?
Image in public domain.

The answer has to be something like this:

Go-Cat is cheap and nasty. There is no effective difference in the dry cat food requirements of indoor or indoor/outdoor cats. The worst cat food is cheap dry cat food only 24/7. That is not good enough. There are stories of cats on cheap dry developing type 2 diabetes and then being cured entirely in time by going onto a canned food. These are normally obese, inactive indoor cats eating too much cheap dry. That is a bad combination.

RELATED: How much cat food by weight should I feed my adult cat daily?

High quality we cat food either commercially prepared or homemade raw must be the default food for all domestic cats but homemade raw requires real skill and knowledge of storing raw foods as there are risks with bacterial contamination and pathogens like Toxoplasma gondii. If you are good at homemade raw, I'd use it or at least test it. A lot of people say that it cures a lot of health issues such as diarrhea issues or gut issues. But it must be balanced with supplements and prepared and stored correctly. It is quite technical. Click this for some pointers.

RELATED: 3 diabetic cats cured with an exclusive wet cat food diet.

To this default food you can add a high quality dry for grazing at night. I use Hill's Dental Care. It is large kibble which is better for teeth cleaning. There is a big question mark over whether dry cleans teeth but if it is large there is chance that it does. 

But it should ideally be a secondary food. The wet is the default because it is more natural in terms of water content. It should have a high genuine meat content too. Insect based dry cat food is coming onto the market now and it looks good. That's natural too as a raw material as cats eat insects.

RELATED: Best cat food – informative overview discussion.

Even dry cat food made from plant material (plant protein) is okay in my book as the manufacturers add in supplements to ensure that it is fully balanced. Don't shy away from plant based dry cat food because you believe that they have to eat 'meat'. That is a fallacy. But don't try and turn your cat into a vegan or vegetarian either. That could be fatal.

RELATED: Auckland vegan cat owner says that her cat is healthier and happier on a vegan pet food diet.

A third type of food would be the occasional human food treat such as a chicken wing with bones. Dr Fogle DVM recommends that. I guess you could try it raw too. The bones clean the teeth. There is a slight risk with the bones but if Dr Fogle recommends it I'm okay with it too.

Friday 24 June 2022

Improving the olfactory and visual environment of full-time indoor cats

I have just bumped into something that I think is interesting and which is particularly pertinent today with so many full-time indoor cats. I believe that often these cats are under-stimulated. I'm not apportioning blame. I just think that you can't bring cats in from the outside and confine them to the inside and leave it at that. The human caregiver has more to do and here are two examples.

RELATED: The big flaw that is never admitted in keeping cats indoors full-time.


This tip applies more to shelter cats than to full-time indoor domestic cats in homes but I think it is relevant. It is called "olfactory enrichment". The experts believe that it is relatively underused in animal housing perhaps because humans have a relatively poor sense of smell compared to cats and other animals.

Catnip gives your cat pleasure
Catnip gives your cat pleasure. Image: Johnsons veterinary products.

We know that you can buy catnip spray. I think that if you use catnip spray from time to time to spray into the environment you will find that there will be an increasing amount of time that the cat in that home is active because they will be stimulated by the chemical, nepetalactone, which we know excites and stimulates domestic cats.

A study examined the effect of introducing four odours on the behaviour of six zoo-housed black-footed cats. These are small wild cats are known to be the most prolific hunters of all the cats as it happens. The odours that were introduced were nutmeg, catnip, body odour of prey (quail) and no artificial odour and control. They found that there was an increase in their activity with all of the genuine odours with nutmeg causing less of an effect than catnip or odour of prey. As mentioned, catnip is a known stimulant for cats. Although not all cats are affected similarly.


In a cat's life there are two forms of cat television. There is the human television or perhaps iPad through which you can show images which may help to stimulate your cat. I've seen many videos of cats watching television with great interest. I am sure that you can buy programs for a television designed for cats. You'll need a CD player attached to the TV if you can't access programs provided in the usual way.

Window box for indoor cats
Window box for indoor cats. Image in public domain.

Perhaps a better form of cat television is the humble window. Full-time indoor cats spend a lot of time at windows looking out. They can get an awful lot of enjoyment doing that. There should be access to a window or windows in the home of a full-time indoor cat. 

To improve the arrangement you can build or buy window boxes which are inserted into the window and which overhang on the outside of the house. The front of the window box should not be glazed but should be open to the elements with a grill. In this way the cat can both see and smell the outside.

Window box is a firm favorite
Window box is a firm favorite. Image in the public domain.

I would have thought that such a construction would be a fundamental necessity for any full-time indoor cat or cats. I would have thought where there are more than one indoor cat you could build more than one window box arrangement. They are like mini-catios and you see a whole range of designs. How many households have them? I would say very few relative to the number of indoor cats.

They are actually decorative as well and improve the appearance and ambience of a house.

Friday 11 March 2022

How to avoid getting toxoplasmosis from your indoor cat's faeces

I believe that the disease toxoplasmosis is somewhat underrated by many cat caregivers probably because the symptoms in people and cats are often all but invisible. But many are asymptomatically infected. 

The 24-hour window

Toxoplasmosis is one of the most prominent detriments to the overwhelming benefits of living with a domestic cat companion. A lot has been spoken about the danger of getting toxoplasmosis from your cat's faeces. This comes from the fact that domestic cats being the primary vector of the disease shed toxoplasma gondii oocysts in faeces for a short period of time after they been exposed to it.

Toxoplasma gondii oocyst
Toxoplasma gondii oocyst

Although this is a one-off event covering a 2-week period it does happen, which is why domestic cats are heavily criticised by people who dislike cats. But the CDC in America tells us something very important about the shedding of oocysts in cat faeces and it is this. They say that they are only infective (i.e. capable of passing on the disease) after they've been in the environment i.e. outside of the domestic cat for more than one day and between 1-5 days.

Therefore, there is a window between the moment a domestic cat defecates in the cat litter to 24 hours later when their faeces are not infective in terms of the toxoplasma gondii protozoan. That being accepted, if a cat owner cleans out the litter tray every day within 24 hours of it being used by their cat, they will not be exposed to infective toxoplasma oocysts.

This is provided they have been careful in cleaning the litter tray the day before and ensured that no faeces remain. To recap, if a cat caregiver ensures that they thoroughly clean the litter tray daily (on a strict basis) they should pretty well eliminate the possibility of being infected by this zoonotic disease through contact with a cat's faeces. I think that is quite an important statement because it deals effectively with this mode of transmission which has been discussed a lot on the Internet.

No raw treats or unpasteurised milk

And what I said above can be supported by this further information. If you only provide an indoor cat with commercially manufactured cat food there is no possibility that they can ingest the protozoan in food. However, if you feed them raw pork or beef or unpasteurised dairy products which might contain the toxoplasma organism, and they might contract the disease. So, there's two sides to this preventative process. You don't let your cat ingest the protozoan and you prevent them transmitting the protozoan through their faeces as described above. Tackled this way I don't perceive a problem with this disease for a family who looks after a full-time indoor cat.

Clean it every 24 hours for indoor cats to avoid a toxoplasma gondii infection from cat feces
Clean it every 24 hours for indoor cats to avoid a toxoplasma gondii infection from cat feces. Photo: Warren Photographic.

Children exposed to cats and mental health when adults

Today, I also read about a study which stated that, on my interpretation, children exposed to the family's domestic cat are 8 percent more likely to suffer from some sort of mental health problem when they are an adult compared to those adults who were not exposed to a domestic cat when there are children. 

In round terms, what the study concluded is that due to the possibility of being infected with toxoplasmosis when they are children, they are more likely to have mental health problems because of the presence of this disease in the brain when they are adults. It's a relatively small added risk but it is, at 8%, recognisable.

Please click on this link when you have finished reading this page for a cross-post on this topic.

We don't need to believe in the study but we should at least take note of it. Clearly, the tip about the cat litter that I mention above is significant in eliminating this added risk. Particularly as it is probably not unlikely that children will be assisting the household by cleaning out the cat litter tray. 

If they follow the method that I have mentioned it should all but eliminate the risk and place children with cats on a par with other children who don't come into contact with a cat in terms of mental health when they are adults.

Thursday 2 December 2021

Domestic cats are not selectively bred to live indoors 24 hours a day

Some people might find the title provocative. There is a movement towards confining cats to inside the home 24 hours a day. I'm told that in the US about 40% of cats are now full-time indoor cats. I'm a fan of full-time indoor cats because it's peace of mind for the cat owner, safety for the cat and wildlife is not attacked. It's a triple winning method of cat caregiving.

Domestic cats are not selectively bred to live indoors 24 hours a day
Domestic cats are not selectively bred to live indoors 24 hours a day. Bored 24/7 indoor cat snoozes his life away. Photo:Pixabay (modified by MikeB).

The only problem is how domestic cats adapt to full-time indoor living. Domestic cats are adaptable, we know that. Therefore most do accept confinement 24/7. The question is: what are they feeling? What's going through their mind? As mentioned, they are not selectively bred to live like that.

They are made to roam over up to 100 acres or more. In Australia feral cats can have home ranges of 500 acres and more. Indoor domestic cats have to adapt to living in 1/4 of an acre.

The weakness I see in this method of cat caregiving is that cat owners don't really realise the responsibilities that they have to counteract the mental problems that can emanate from confinement. You won't notice those mental problems, probably. They may be manifested in signs of boredom and the cat crazies as they are euphemistically called.

RELATED: Cat breeders should selectively breed for cat confinement.

There may be signs of stress sometimes with inappropriate elimination. There may be cystitis causing inappropriate elimination. All may seem well. But cats are very good at hiding their mental state.

I think I can say with complete certainty that 99% of the inside of homes of full-time indoor cats have not been modified in any way to make it more suited for a domestic cat. In short, there's been very little environmental enrichment. 

RELATED: Extreme breeding of cats creates misleading facial expressions.

But cat confinement demands environmental enrichment. Can owners really have to dispense with the usual notions of what the inside of their home should look like. It should look like a cat jungle of some sort. It should be an amalgam of what a human wants and what a cat wants and needs. But they aren't. They never are. They are human homes designed for humans to live in and the cat has to adapt to it whether they like it or not.

In the UK, the Animal Welfare Act 2006 is based upon a cat owner's duty of care. Anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure their animal's welfare needs are met. When you confine a cat to a home you have to consider their welfare needs.

The life of a cat is centred around hunting. It's in their DNA. It is inherited as part of their memory. The do it instinctively. The need to hunt to be whole. We know that. How is a cat going to hunt inside a three-bedroom semi-detached home? There is only one way: play-hunting. And a cat owner has to set up that form of play. If the owner doesn't, they are not meeting the welfare needs of their cat. And 99% of cat owners don't meet those needs. I'm painting a black picture but I'm convinced that I am correct.

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i hate cats

i hate cats, no i hate f**k**g cats is what some people say when they dislike cats. But they nearly always don't explain why. It appe...

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