Frivolous Friday – The Dating Game With Cats

Did you know that behavior traits in cats can be inherited? When we rescue a cat or a kitten without knowing anything about their breeding we’re pretty much taking a chance on the cat. Will she be naughty or nice, full of energy or lazy, pleasant or cranky? If you can identify her breeding background, you might be able to predict something about her temperament. A cat’s or kitten’s coloring and features will sometimes give a clue as to her heritage.

So which breeds are more friendly and sociable, active and so forth? There was a recent study involving nearly 6,000 cats of various breeds focusing on the cat’s activity level, sociability, aggressive behavior, and so forth. Here’s a peek into what they learned: the less cordial/friendly cat breeds are the British shorthair and the Russian blue. Some of the most friendly breeds are the  Korat and the Devon Rex. The most active are known to be the Cornish Rex and the Bengal and the least active are the Ragdoll, Birman, and British Shorthair.

Those of us who’ve been around cats for a long time grew up knowing only two breeds—the Siamese and the Persian. We were conditioned to believe (and some of us learned firsthand) that the Siamese is more vocal and active and clever and teachable. The Persian is quiet, more docile, and sweet.

Today science has taken this concept to much higher levels. Here’s a site showing the behavioral traits of certain breeds.

Here’s a list of the most docile cat breeds.

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Thoughts for Thursday – The Danger of the Recliner Chair for Kittens

One of the most under-considered household dangers in your house for kittens is probably the recliner chair. We have two—one is used every single day for back pain relief. Up and down that thing goes many times each day and night. When our cats were kittens, we were always watching out for them as the recliner chair is more interesting to a kitten than a cardboard box or an expensive cat tree, play tunnel or closet.

Years ago I’m pretty sure that I caught a kitten in our recliner chair. I didn’t realize it until the mother cat began fretting nervously behind the chair. I found her comatose kitten lying there, cold to the touch. This was a time in my life when a veterinarian was a luxury we couldn’t always afford, so I treated her myself and, happily, was successful. Rest and warmth and her mom standing by her for forty-eight hours seemed to do the trick. On the second day, the little girl was up walking around and eating. She survived to live a long life.

Fast-forward about forty years, we have a recliner chair that is, as I said, used constantly. When the cats were kittens, we made sure we knew where they were each time the chair was being moved. It was a horrible worry.

As it turned out, we did have an accident with Lily when she was about ten weeks old, but it had nothing to do with the recliner chair. It was the cat tree—an ultra-sturdy cat tree (we’d had the cat tree for a long time and they made them strong back when). Well, Sophie, who was about two then, and Lily (about ten weeks old) were playing on the cat tree when it toppled and caught Lily between the fallen tree and the fireplace bricks. Yeah, I don’t even know why the cat tree was in that spot at the time. I guess I’d moved it to vacuum or something. But then it didn’t occur to me it would ever fall over. It never had before. Well, Lily had an awful head injury and a long and difficult recovery. After that, we left the cat tree lying on its side for years.

If you’ve never considered the dangers of a recliner for a kitten, here’s a site you should view.

I also recommend that you do some research into safety tips for cat trees before allowing your kitten and a larger cat to frolic on one together. In fact, if you have a kitten or are thinking about adopting one, please refresh your memory about how to make your home safe for a curious kitten. I’ve written many blog posts on this topic over the years. You’ll find them in my archives

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Christmas is Showing Up and the Cats Are Amused

Why is it that anytime something new arrives in your home, the cat claims it as hers? You unpack a box from Amazon and the cat takes it over. You bring in a bag of groceries and the cat climbs inside to take inventory. A new sofa is delivered and the cats morph into an investigation team. And if you like to decorate for the season, I’ll bet your cats want to help you with that too.

I decorated our house last week and Lily and Sophie are still checking out all of the new sights, scents, textures, and even flavors. Oh yes, they have to take a bite. For our girls, it’s part of their routine. If they like it, they might curl up with it; if they don’t, they might try destroying it.

And they’re fussy about where I put things, too. I can’t tell you how many decorations have ended up on the floor or in someone’s gift bag.

Each cat’s different. They have different degrees of curiosity and different tastes. While Lily might play with a ribbon or a fluffy bow on a package, Sophie has a serious addiction problem to metallic bows and pieces of string, rattan, and ribbon. We cannot use bows or ribbons on packages in this household because of Sophie. Have you ever seen the results of a cat nibbling on metallic Christmas bows? It’s a bloody mess, I’ll tell you. Lily likes to chew on plastic—tape, bubble wrap, and such. This year she tried to devour a decorative pot of artificial greenery. I consider that the cats’ way of helping me decide where to put things.

Well, here’s where I put some things. The artificial greenery is going outside and I gave all of my bows and ribbon away.

At least our girls aren’t inclined to climb the Christmas tree—not yet, anyway.

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Newsday Tuesday – The Value of a Chip—and I Don’t Mean the Chocolate Chip

Don’t you just love to hear stories of lost or runaway cats being reunited with their family? And these reunions are made possible most often by the microchip.

There was a story in the news last week about a cat named Ashes. He rode shotgun for a truck-driver. On one of their long-haul runs, Ashes evidently left the safety of the truck while at a truck stop and went missing. After five months, Ashes was reunited with his buddy and all because of a microchip.

Cats go missing often while on vacation with their owner. They even escape from their home. Sometimes a cat will see an opportunity—an open door or window—and just go out for a little adventure. If they don’t get picked up by someone or frightened away into an area they aren’t familiar with, they may come home later that day or the next.

A cat can get locked in a neighbor’s shed or garage without the homeowner knowing it. He might take shelter in a car, truck, or delivery van and be taken miles away from home. If it’s a nice cat, she might find someone else to take care of her. Or she’ll be trapped and taken to a local shelter.

Cats and dogs are often victims of a house or apartment fire, earthquake or flood. Some find a new home around the corner, others might run as far away from the disaster as they can, avoiding humans along the way.

In many cases, the cat will eventually be noticed and approached. If she has a microchip with the owner’s current contact information, it is extremely likely that she will be returned. This is definitely something we should all be considering—a nice holiday gift for you and your cat.

Here are a few sites where you can learn more about the microchip for cats.

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Mindful Monday – Cats Get PTSD Too

Have you ever heard of a cat with PTSD? When you consider the stress homeless, neglected, and abused cats are under day in and day out, it’s not hard to imagine that their constant fear could affect their bodies and their psyche. But some cats have a higher stress level than others. Even well-loved and protected cats can suffer from anxiety.

I read last week that the office cat working at the

Foreign Affairs building on King Charles Street in the UK is back to work after a lengthy stress leave. Yes, stress leave. The black-and-white cat had been working there for four years after being rescued from a local cat shelter. But about six months ago, his veterinarian suggested he take a stress leave. He was overweight and he was over-grooming—most notably licking the fur off of his front legs.

After a six month leave, Palmerston is back—this time with a smaller territory to manage (sometimes a cat can be overwhelmed when his space is too large), and orders to the rest of the staff not to engage him without his permission. Too much attention can cause anxiety in some cats. Palmerston was also overweight, so his coworkers have been asked to stop giving him treats. His chief caregiver announced into the building when he returned with the cat, “Watch out, mice, Palmerston is back.”

Our cat, Sophie suffered from PTSD after the Thomas Fire burned through the Ojai Valley exactly two years ago. We were one of many neighborhoods required to evacuate. Sophie was not a happy kitty. We returned to our home safely, but a month later or so we noticed that Sophie was losing fur on one hip. The veterinarian’s first question was about Sophie’s evacuation experience during the fire.

I told her that Sophie was not a happy camper, but nothing awful happened to her or Lily. We kept them safe. Her diagnosis, though, was PTSD. The trauma of the car ride and two nights in a strange place had affected Sophie more than we realized.

Max, our formerly feral snow-shoe-type cat urinated outside the litter box often over his seventeen years with us. I know it was behavioral—perhaps a territorial thing—but now I’m wondering if it was also a case of lifelong PTSD. Maybe he just never got over the trauma of being plucked from his safe place in our wood shed from his mother. We “rescued” the kittens. While Max’s sisters adjusted nicely and while Max certainly learned to be somewhat content with us (he loved a good snuggle session), he must have had an underlying measure of PTSD and couldn’t help leaving his mark around the house.

I think I still have PTSD from Max’s behavior. But I also miss the sweet old boy.

If your cat is engaging in unusual behavior—over-grooming, poor or obnoxious litter box habits, a seemingly unnatural fear, it could be that he is suffering from stress. Here’s a site where you can learn more about PTSD in cats.


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Frivolous Friday – When Your Cat Won’t Accept Your Gift

Just about every home with a cat also has at least one cat tree or other device intended for your cat to use for clawing instead of your furniture or your Persian rug or even your antique lampshade. Oh yes, cats can be creative.

We have a short, sturdy cat tree for Sophie and Lily in our living room. It was also used by Max, Katie, Dinah, Winfield, Daisy…oh yes, it’s been around for a while. It was built when they used real wood and plush carpeting. But it has become an eyesore. I decided it was time for a new, modern cat tree with maybe some interesting aspects for the cats. Not only did I envision the cats loving the extra cubbies, the higher platform, the more enticing sisal for clawing, and even an attached toy to play with, I was eager to have something less ratty-looking in the living room.

Well, we’ve had the thing for a few weeks now and it isn’t getting the attention I expected. So I used some of my intuition and ingenuity based on what I know about cats and I did some research. Here’s what we’ve done to help the cats shift their love of the old cat tree to the new one:

1: We’ve sprinkled catnip all over it. Sophie and Lily love catnip, and they went after it, but they still wouldn’t climb onto the new cat tree. They’d only put their paws on it and reach out for the catnip from a distance.

2: I rubbed their scent from their toys and their blankets on it. This caused them to spend a little time that afternoon sniffing the new cat tree, but it didn’t convince them to embrace it.

3: I moved the old cat tree up against the new one thinking they might walk from one to the other. Yeah, it happened a couple of times, but they wouldn’t own the new one. They’d step on it, sniff it, maybe stand on it, but then settle down more comfortably on the old one. They even continue to scratch on the old one.

4: They have not tried to clew the sisal. They’ve never seen or used sisal. I guess they don’t know it’s the latest thing for cats to use for clawing. Last night I rubbed catnip on the sisal part of the new cat tree. Lily sniffed it, but didn’t use it.

We did catch Sophie in one of the cubbies on the new cat tree one night and Lily sat on top of it last night and took her bath. So I guess we’re making progress. I’m considering moving the old cat tree out this week. But I’m a little surprised at my reaction to that. I’m almost as reluctant to let go of it as the cats seem to be. Why? Maybe because so many of my beloved cats have loved it. Now I’m not sure what I’ll do. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, here are some sites designed to help introduce a new cat tree to your cats, in case you’re also facing this dilemma.

A week has gone by since I wrote this post and the old cat tree is still sitting next to the new one. The new one has still not been accepted. Next step–I think I’ll move the old one into another room.

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Thoughts for Thursday – More About Marmalades, Gingers, Reds

Yesterday I shared with you the stunning news about Smokey’s heritage—at least where he got his coloring from. If you have a red/orange cat or you’ve ever had one or you know someone with one, you may have done some research on this cat color. If not, some of my findings might surprise you.

Orange/red cats are called marmalade or ginger and all orange cats are tabbies. There are four basic tabby patterns, classic, mackerel, ticked, and spotted. Some orange cats have white accents on their feet, throat, tummy. Others do not. And many of them have the tabby M on their forehead.

Orange is not a breed, but simply a color. Some of the most common breeds that produce cats with an orange coat include the British shorthair, Persian, Munchkin and American Bobtail. Also, the eye color of a ginger cat is almost always gold or green.

These cats typically have great personalities if you like a friendly and often lazy cat. They love to eat and often have a weight problem.

Maybe you’ve noticed how rare orange female cats are. That’s because for some reason, 80 percent of cats wearing the marmalade fur are males.

Probably the most well-known orange tabbies were Garfield and Morris,

Here’s additional information about the beautiful orange tabby:

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday –Who’s the Daddy–A Ginger????

Interesting/shocking fact: Smokey’s sire is probably an orange tabby!

Yesterday we talked about cat genetics. And I told you I’ve been dabbling in this topic a little for a future Klepto Cat Mystery. Well, during my search, I connected with a cat DNA specialist who’s on staff at a major university and I discovered that Smokey’s (aka Rags’s) sire (a roaming neighborhood cat) was probably a red (orange, ginger, marmalade) cat. Now that was a surprise.

As some of you may know, Smokey’s mother was a Ragdoll. Some of the kittens looked like Mama, there was a calico and there were a few solid grey kittens and Smokey—dark grey-and-white.

My sister-in-law (who owned the Ragdoll) saw an orange shorthair in the neighborhood at the time of perceived conception, and a black cat. I would have thought what most of you are probably thinking—yeah, Smokey is probably a product of the black cat.

But the scientist ran the numbers—the formula related to cat coloring—and she has determined that Smokey’s father is most likely the orange cat my sister-in-law saw or another orange cat—not the black one. Now I’m trying to figure out how to use that tidbit in Book 41. Oh, do I have fun writing these stories for you.

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Newsday Tuesday – The Fascinating World of Cat Genetics

One of my upcoming books—Book 41—will be unusual in that Savannah wants to locate Rags’s siblings and possibly his parents. To prepare for this story, I’ve been researching cat genetics. Did you know that you can swab your cat and learn something about his heritage? Evidently all domestic cats came from one of eight regions and these cats still carry some of the DNA from their original wild cat ancestors. These cats make up the breeds we know today.

My findings show that all domestic cat breeds come from only four cat races in these eight geographic regions and some of the DNA tests you see advertised can identify a cat’s origin and race, thus it’s possible breeding background.

The eight geographic regions are Western Europe, Egypt, Eastern Mediterranean, Iran/Iraq, Arabian Sea, India, South Asia and East Asia.

Learn more about what experts know about the domestic cat’s ancestry here:

If you’re interested in having your cat’s DNA tested, check out these sites. The cost, as I understand it, is around $100—some less, some more.

If you’ve ever had your cat’s DNA tested, I’d love to hear about it. If you decide to do it, let us know. Why do it? For fun. It could be a neat conversation topic among other cat people. You might get some sort of bragging rights—“My cat comes from around the great Egyptian pyramids,” or “My cat’s ancestors may have traveled across the ocean to America with early explorers or the pilgrims…”

Who knows, you might get enough interesting information to write your own book.

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Mindful Monday – National Cat Lovers Month

It seems unnecessary to set aside a time to love and appreciate your cat. Aren’t our cats always, consistently, continuously our first and foremost concern every day of the year? Don’t they get more of what they crave than any other family member—except maybe the dog? Isn’t your cat(s) the first to greet you each morning and the last to tell you good night? Lily puts me to bed every night and makes sure I follow my evening routine, too. She’s always a few steps ahead of me as I close up the house for the night and prepare for bed.

I think that’s one reason why cats make such great companions. They connect with us in a way no other animal (or human) does. And they follow us (or lead us) into places no one else is allowed.

You’ll be busy this month thinking about others, but don’t forget to put your cat at least near the top of the list. She doesn’t know it’s December and that your mind is on giving and celebrations. All she knows is that she loves and depends on you.

While you’re at it, you might consider giving to less fortunate cats. Find out what your local shelters need this season and consider dropping some of it off (cash, toys for the kittens, blankets, etc…). Visit a cat café or a shelter (most cats at the café have come from a shelter). Take pictures and post them on your social media pages. Someone just might be inspired to adopt. Here are two sites offering ideas for celebrating National Cat Lovers’ Month. Maybe you can think of others. Share your comments here.


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