Tuesday 25 March 2014

Kansas Animal Shelters Looking to Place Cats In Businesses

This is an imaginative new program by the Great Plains SPCA to place shelter cats into businesses such as The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence KS. There are several things that I like about this program.

It is imaginative. It seeks new ways to save the lives of shelter cats. It is time to do this sort of thing: to think out of the box. Also,  cats placed in businesses become working cats, really, and I like it when cats become really useful. It creates a pleasant balance between the domestic cat and the person and I think this is a healthy balance because in almost all cases the domestic cat is cared for by a cat guardian. Perhaps cats like to be useful.

Another benefit of this program is that, provided the business is enlightened enough, they discover that having a cat around improves work productivity and if the business is a shop or store it improves the ambience in the outlet and customers generally welcome it.

The presence of a domestic cat totally changes the feel of a place. It makes a place calm and gives it a soul. That might be a philosophical exaggeration but I think people will understand what I am getting at. One thing for sure is that the presence of a domestic cat makes people feel better.

So we can save the lives of cats and improve the lives of people under this program. This has to be a good thing.

Obviously there are things to think about and concerns about how to make it work. Some people are allergic to cats and some people don't like cats. And the cat requires maintenance. There has to be somebody on hand to look after the cat and there has to be teamwork within the business to ensure that a cat is content, happy and well looked after in his workplace. There is, therefore, some organisation to do but like all benefits to a business there has to be some input and work to achieve those benefits and this is a case in point.

The sort of businesses that particularly suit the presence of a domestic cat are bookshops and coffee shops (the cat cafe immediately comes to mind, of course). But there are also workplaces, offices, where a cat can make employees more productive. Certainly businesses that are involved with the Internet and writing code would suit the presence of a cat, in my opinion. These are semi-unstructured workplaces. They are modern thinking workplaces and therefore should be open to the possibility of having a domestic cat joining them.

I really hope that this program does well and I would like to see lots of shelter cats, some of which will be destined for euthanasia, finding their way into local businesses. It is worth remembering, I think, that this program probably suits adult cats more than young cats because adult cats are more stable and experienced therefore more able to cope with the change of environment.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Feral Cats Are Part of the Ecosystem

Yes, we need to remind ourselves that feral cats are part of the ecosystem. They are integrated into the wildlife. They prey on certain wildlife and certain wildlife preys on them and if that is disturbed there may be unforeseen consequences down the food chain. The feral cat primarily feeds on rodents such as mice and rats. It is a myth that feral cats prey on birds in large numbers. Some people want to get rid of the feral cat completely. I don't think they have thought through the consequences of that objective. What would happen to the rat population?

Some people like to shoot feral cats and these people would like to see all feral cats eradicated. But we know that as feral cats are part of the ecosystem and they prey on rats they cannot be eradicated without massive unforeseen and possibly disastrous consequences. In which case they should not shoot feral cats at all because they shoot them with intention of the long-term objective of eradicating them which, as I just stated, is impossible and unwise.

An example of the unwise nature of trying to eradicate an animal that is considered a pest or a nuisance is the long-term attempt to eradicate the dingo in Australia. If Australians do not wish to eradicate the dingo then they at least they wish to hunt it in large numbers to reduce the population size.

The 70 year hunt of the dingo in Australia going forward will damage native wildlife species and in some cases endangered species. This is the conclusion of a study by the New South Wales University published in The Proceedings of the Royal Society.

The dingo preys on animals such as kangaroos, foxes and possums and these animals prey on other animals such as native rodents. If you kill the dingo there are more animals that can prey on rodents therefore the rodent population falls. However there are other animals such as bandicoots that are preyed upon by these animals. As can be seen in trying to exterminate the dingo there is a knock-on effect which can lead unforeseen and detrimental consequences.

The feral cat preys on rodents as mentioned. If you exterminate the feral cat in Australia, logically that should lead to a sharp increase in the population numbers of bush and swamp rats. Rats can kill native wild life.

Another interesting aspect of the attempt to exterminate animals that are perceived as pests is that you end up with conflicting consequences. Exterminating the dingo results of a fall in the rat population, it seems, while exterminating the feral cat results in a rise in the population numbers of rats. If the authorities wish to exterminate both feral cats and dingos in Australia the consequences will conflict and surely that indicates that there has been a lack of foresight as to the consequences.

In my opinion, it is foolhardy to mess with an ecosystem. If Australians wish to conserve native wildlife than they could achieve much more and in a far more humane manner if they analysed more accurately the impact that they, themselves have on native wildlife species including habitat destruction and take steps to remedy that.

The human is the greatest danger to native wild species in Australia or anywhere else. People should stop passing the buck to animals. It only delays what has to be done. The modern human has a habit of evading responsibility for his actions.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Why does a cat sleep so much?

The domestic cat sleeps no longer than a teenage person, in my opinion. In other words, the domestic cat sleeps for a total of about 8 hours daily, perhaps a little more and the rest of the time the cat is snoozing and resting. You only have to look at the cat's ears while they are “sleeping" to realise that they are not actually sleeping. The slightest noise or disturbance and the ears of a cat prick up immediately and the cat awakens almost instantly. No one can tell me that a cat is genuinely asleep under those circumstances.

F1 Savannah cats snoozing. Photo copyright A1 Savannahs

I believe that there is a lot of incorrect information on the Internet with one author copying from another ad infinitum and eventually creating fact out of fiction.

As far as I'm aware, there has only been one definitive assessment as to how long a cat sleeps and that was with respect to the lion and the lion slept for about 9 hours daily on average. There is a lot of discussion on the Internet about how long the lion sleeps, as well, and that discussion is misleading because you will see times as long as 19 hours and people claiming that the lion sleeps the longest of all the world's cats. I don't believe it. It is more or less Internet chatter.

The conventional viewpoint is that the domestic cat sleeps for around 14 or 15 hours per day. As I mentioned, the domestic cat will only sleep a total of about 8 hours per day and this is made up of small sessions of sleep. It is not continuous as is the case for people.

Some domestic cats, particularly full-time indoor cats, will spend a lot more than 15 hours a day apparently sleeping when in fact they are simply killing time by resting because often there is little to do and the owner of the cat is probably too busy and preoccupied with other things to provide entertainment and stimulation.

I have written a page about this topic which expands on what I have written here.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Why does my cat bury his faeces?

When a cat buries her faeces it is not because the cat is being tidy and clean etc. but because she wishes to make sure that the smell of her faeces is not recognised. Cats nearly always use urine as a way to mark territory but sometimes cats use feces to do the same job.

A cat lives in the human world: it is a world of giants and although we look after our cats we are very large compared to them and we should recognise that. Although we can be very gentle towards our cats, from their perspective we are dominant and they are subservient and when cat is subservient he or she will display subservient behaviour, an example of which is to bury her feces.

You will find that dominant males in feral cat colonies do not bury their faeces because they want to send out a signal that they are the boss and that this is their territory.

Accordingly, when a cat buries her faeces she is doing it because she feels subservient and is playing out a subservient role to us, the caretaker.

Sometimes when a cat uses a litter tray in the home she may not bury her faeces. I would take this as an indication that she does not feel subservient to you and is relaxed, which I would take as a compliment. It would indicate that the person who looks after her cat is a 1st class cat caretaker because one of the 1st objectives of a cat caretaker is to make the cat's environment stress free, friendly, and rich in stimulants. Another less praiseworthy reason for not burying feces in the litter tray is because of practical difficulties. Perhaps the tray is too small, for example.

Why does my cat rub my leg?

Why does my cat rub my leg? This was a very common question about cat behaviour. People may still ask the question and the answer is quite straightforward, so I will keep it short.

Cats also rub against objects to leave scent to make
the place more friendly. Photo by Drab Makyo

When a cat rubs against our legs she transfers some of her scent that is on her to us and some of our scent is transferred to her. This is called “sent exchange". So why do cats do it? Well, cats depend upon their sense of smell far more than we do. If the place smells friendly it is friendly. For us, if the place looks friendly, it is friendly, or it usually is and we use our eyes to ascertain that, whereas the cat uses her nose. Perhaps the cat uses her nose because it is more sensitive than her eyes. The domestic cat's nose is far more sensitive than ours but the domestic cat's eyesight is less good than ours.

The cat deposits her scent on us to make the environment in which she lives more friendly. Our sent on her is a merging of body odour which is an act of friendship, which once again makes the place where she lives more friendly. Perhaps, sent exchange is is analogous to a kiss between human beings as that too is an exchange and a merger.

In short, therefore, the cat rubs against our legs to make the place where she lives more friendly and the relationship between us and her also more friendly. It is often called an act of friendship but is a little bit more than that, in fact.

Friday 21 February 2014

Why does my cat knead my legs?

 This question has been asked 1 million times on the Internet and there are 2 million answers! Therefore, I will not go into this at length. When the cat kneads your legs he or she is doing what she did when she was a kitten at her mother's nipple drinking her mother's milk. In order to make sure the milk flowed the kitten would knead the area around the nipple.

So this behaviour is the behaviour of a kitten in relation to her mother. We conclude therefore that a person's adult cat has a relationship with her human caretaker that is of a kitten to a mother cat. And when the adult cat kneads the person it is a reflex action that takes place automatically because at that particular moment the kitten is physically in a very similar position in relation to the person that she was in when she was suckling at her mother's breast.

You could say that the cat is confused or you could just say that it is something akin to what we do as humans when we seek comfort in the actions that we make such as lining up a cigarette when talking to somebody or grabbing a glass and sipping wine when we are at a party or biting our nails or doing any other of the things that make us feel more comfortable.

I think the important thing is this that the person at the receiving end must and I stress must totally accepted it because to reject it may damage the bond between cat and person as it would seem to be a rejection by the mother cat of her kitten.

Wednesday 19 February 2014

Why does my cat roll over onto her back exposing her belly?

When a cat rolls over onto her back to expose her belly it looks as if she wants her belly rubbed. It may be true that she does want her belly rubbed for awhile, but it should not be overdone, but the more likely reason for this is that your cat is presenting to you a submissive position which is linked to a greeting.

I believe it is a sort of combination action: both a greeting, a submission, and a possible request for her tummy rub which in effect will be an exchange of scent from you to her and vice versa. Scent exchange is also part of a friendly greeting and it makes the place, the home, more friendly for the cat.

However, underpinning this particular behaviour is this submissive position which is indicative of the fact that the cat sees us as the dominant partner.

As mentioned, stroking cats really should be done gently and the amount of it should be limited. The cat might like it but after awhile she may change her mind because it is a position of great vulnerability for a cat which can make her feel slightly anxious and the anxiety clicks in after a while overcoming the pleasure she receives from the stroking.

Tuesday 18 February 2014

Injections to calm down your allergic reaction to cats

Yes, injections to calm down your allergic reaction to cats! This is the holy grail of the cat world. An injection which allows you to live with your cat when you are allergic without sniffling, sneezing and scratching.

But does it work? Well, it is too early to know. And how healthy is it? There are lots of unknowns. At the moment we know that for this new product four injections are required compared to the usual 40 which is obviously a huge advancement.

The product is called CATPAD. It is not yet approved by the FDA. However, it has been studied before and at the moment more work is being carried out on the product to make it more effective and safer.

At the moment the researchers into this product are looking for people who have a cat allergy to participate in this new study.

Apparently, about 10% of the population are allergic to cats. It is a terrible twist of nature that many people who love cats are unable to live with their cats without some discomfort.

The best known method of tackling an allergy to cats is to buy a cat that does not produce the cat allergen. That cat is meant to be an Allerca cat.

There was at one time a lot of discussion about that cat. I think we can say that the business was discredited. Their top branded cat (Ashera GD) was in fact a Savannah cat, first generation. As it happens, there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that first generation Savannah cats are to a certain extent hypo-allergenic.

Anyway, if you are allergic to cats and you want to take part in the study I would suggest that you Google CATPAD STUDY and take it from there. Click on this link to get started:


Good luck.

This video explains how the cat allergy happens. I expect Catpad works in the way described in the video:

Why does my cat scratch my chair?

It is probably fair to say that by now the whole world knows the answer to this question. A cat does not scratch a person's chair out of spite or simply to be destructive. A cat scratches a chair to (A) slough off the outer layout of keratin that makes up the dead part of the claws and (B) to stretch his or her back and (C) to deposit some scent on the chair as a way of marking territory and making her home more friendly.

You will see wildcat species marking territory by scratching the ground and scratching tree trunks etc.. It is vital that domestic cats are allowed to scratch. The best object to scratch is a large and heavy cat scratching post.

It is important that the post is solid and immovable as this provides a natural substitute for a tree. It feels better for a cat and therefore a cat will be more likely to use it.

Why does my cat bring in live mice?

Why does my cat bring in live mice? This behaviour mimics the behaviour of a wild cat mother who brings her prey back to the den for her cubs to interact with, perhaps kill, perhaps play with but in any event the prey is brought back to the den to introduce the cubs to the hunting process.

It is part of the training process. Perhaps sometime in the near future after this event the mother will take her cubs out of the den on a hunting trip and that would be the next stage in her training of her cubs to hunt prey. Some people say that a domestic cat sees a human companion as one of her kittens when they bring home prey. I don't think this is the case. Domestic cats see us as other domestic cats albeit much larger.

It is not always the case that the mother leaves the prey for her cubs to play with and kill. Perhaps she will kill the prey herself and this sometimes happens with domestic cats when they bring mice and other prey home. They may kill and eat a mouse once brought back to the home.

Also, it is not always the case that a cat brings home live mice. A cat that is preying on wildlife outside in the garden or in the vicinity may well kill the prey where it has been attacked. Indeed the cat may eat or partially prey at the site of the attack.

Monday 17 February 2014

Cat Urinating and Defecating in the Wrong Place

Dealing with a cat who poops and pees in the wrong place is largely a matter of common sense. There is, however, a difference between the reasons behind defecating and urinating in the wrong place.

If a cat is urinating in the wrong place there are two equally important reasons that this. The first thing to do is to check whether your cat has a health problem. Typically a health problem that results in a cat urinating in the wrong place is an infection of the urinary tract. Cystitis is a typical feline infection that causes him or her to urinate in inappropriate places. Cystitis is a bacterial infection of the bladder. You should, therefore, see your veterinary surgeon first before taking steps to try and stop your cat from your urinating in inappropriate places. You need to make sure that your cat is healthy before moving on to the next phase.

On the basis that your cat is healthy, you should then make sure that her litter tray is always clean. That invariably means cleaning it daily at least. Then you should check that the material used is acceptable to your cat. That will mean changing it to see whether it makes any difference. Then you should check that the tray is in the right place. The tray should not be in a busy location. Choose somewhere quiet and out of the way. Change its position and see what happens.

On the assumption that you have the right material in the tray, the right position of the tray and the tray is clean, if your cat still refuses to use the tray you should ask yourself whether declawing your cat is a factor. We know that declawed cats, because of tenderness in their claws, can have difficulty in using conventional material. This problem probably goes away after a while but it is a point worth checking.

Urinating in the wrong place is not the same thing as spraying which is marking territory. I'm sure you are aware of what that means. Normally male or female domestic cats do not spray vertically against objects in the home. Cats that have not been neutered are more likely to mark territory by spraying horizontally. A cat owner should accept it as normal. If they cannot accept it they should get their cats neutered. Therefore, owners should be aware of the difference between marking territory through spraying and urinating in inappropriate places.

Cats also mark territory by defecating at a certain place. This happens less often than urinating against a vertical object. Incidentally, cats also mark territory by rubbing their bodies against objects including very typically the sides of their face where there are glands that secrete a liquid that is then deposited on the object.

However, a cat may defecate on places such as your bed. This is a form of marking territory and an expression of stress because marking territory is a reassuring process. Accordingly, if your cat is defecating in inappropriate places you should ask yourself whether there are reasons why your cat is stressed. This may be because you are absent a lot. Incidentally, stress is also behind urinating in the wrong place due to cystitis.

There are also health reasons why your cat may defecate in inappropriate places. For example, your cat may be incontinent. You will clearly need to take your cat to your veterinary surgeon for a health check before asking yourself whether things that you do, your behaviour, is causing the problem.

These then are, in basic terms, the underlying reasons why a cat may defecate and urinate in the wrong place. There are many articles on this website which deal with this subject, which is one of the most typical so-called behavioural problems that people complain about in relation to their cat companion.

The key to resolving these problems is to check health first then your behaviour and patterns of behaviour second, particularly in relation to whether it causes your cat to be stressed.

It is important to do one's best to avoid resorting to drugs such as Valium and Prozac, mood enhancers that can help cats, before dealing with simple a more healthy issues first. Using mood enhancing drugs is a last resort for both people and cats.

Cats naturally look to a litter tray to defecate and urinate before using any other area in the home. Therefore, you could argue that if a cat defecates or urinates on household furnishings it is because he or she is being forced to do so. It will be a natural consequence of the circumstances under which he finds himself and therefore we could logically say that it is not inappropriate from the cat's perspective.

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