Thoughts for Thursday – Cats in Trouble

Oh my, the predicaments cats can get into. Once, when Lily was about six or eight months old, she was playing with a sheet of newspaper, rolling around on it. Pretty soon, she managed to get herself rolled up into the paper fairly tightly with her paws inside. All that was sticking out were her tail and her head. She looked like a burrito. And she was actually stuck. She could not free herself. Sorry, I didn’t get a picture. I was laughing, but also eager to help her out of her dilemma. Poor little thing. What cat does that?

Cats are agile, creative, and curious. Despite common belief, they can get themselves into serious trouble. Cats get stuck in trees. They can climb up a tree like nobody’s business. But climbing down can be a problem for a cat. The way their claws are designed, climbing down is awkward and can be frightening for the cat. So what do you do when a cat gets stuck in a tree? You can sometimes coax the kitty down by showing her where to step or jump to next. You can climb the tree and help her down. It is my understanding that local fire departments no longer go out on cat-in-the-tree calls. I’m told that if you see a cat stuck in a tree, you should call animal control.

Cats can get themselves into trouble, that’s for sure. Once, a friend of my daughter’s brought her small kitten to our house and lost him. We looked everywhere for that kitten and could not find him. When it was time for the child to go home, I told her the kitten would show up and when we found him, we’d return him. Do you know where I found the kitten? Sleeping on the lazy Susan where I stored our canned goods. I twirled it around to pick out a can of something to use in our supper and there was the sleeping kitten taking a ride on the merry-go-round.

Cats get into all sorts of dilemmas. They tantalize dogs and end up sometimes getting hurt. They fall, they get locked into places when snooping, they chew on and eat things that are harmful to them, they get hit by cars and bicycles. There was a kitten in Pennsylvania a while back who got stuck in a garbage disposal. The police came to his rescue using an array of tools to dismantle the disposal and a little coconut oil. Yes, it’s a good thing cats have 9 lives.

Then there are natural disasters. Many animals suffer any number of maladies when there’s a fire, flood, or serious storm. What’s the best course of action to take in these situations. Being prepared is always best. For example, I always have cat carriers for the number of cats I currently have in case we need to evacuate quickly for any reason.

Here’s a site that lists supplies you should have on hand for your cat in case of disaster. A disaster kit for cats.

Here’s another disasters preparedness plan for cats.


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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Cats and Chaos

Do your cats object to having strangers in and around your house? Do they react when someone is coming up your walkway? Some cats, when visitors arrive, rush to the door to greet them, while others head under the bed.

Cats can be relied upon as an alert system. Almost any cat will react in some way to a prowler, for example. They might not do anything to protect you when the masher breaks in. But they’ll let you know he’s coming. How? By tensing up and either quickly finding a hiding place or peering out the window with a worried expression or simple curiosity. But a cat will do this whether it is a malicious human lurking with ill intentions or a raccoon or neighborhood cat wandering through your yard.

What about when you’re having work done at your house? How do your cats handle the intrusion of people with noisy vacuum cleaners, drills, hammers and so forth? This activity freaks out our cats. When we’re going to have work done, we always devise a plan ahead of time hoping to make it as stress-free as possible for our kitties.

How do you help your cat through frightening experiences? If you’ve had the cat for a while you know how she’ll react to something like this—something that interrupts her routine and her peace. Some cats would do better when you’re entertaining, or having major work done around the home if you were to board them. This could be especially successful for the cat who is accustomed to the boarding facility. Some people use pheromone spray to help calm their cat in stressful situations. When we expect an invasion of guests or workers, we help our kitties to find their areas of comfort and make them as comfortable as possible.

We just had a restoration company come in and clean our home from top to bottom after the horrendous wildfire we had here in Ojai in December. They cleaned every inch of the house inside and out—even replaced the insulation in the attic and spent a full week doing it. In anticipation of this, we knew it meant it could be a stressful week for Lily and Sophie.

We weighed our options. We were pretty sure, after Sophie’s experience with the evacuation, that boarding her would be too hard on her. So we decided to keep both cats at home. First, we communicated with the crew leader to make sure he knew we had scaredy cats that are not allowed outside to manage throughout the cleaning ordeal. We needed the crew to work with us by letting us know where they’d be working each day. They knew we needed one of the three rooms with doors each day where Lily could hide out. Sophie doesn’t do well behind a closed door unless we’re inside with her. She needs to be free to find her safe place and she did so that week under our watchful eye.

Each day we’d put food water and litter box in one of the bedrooms with Lily and I’d visit her often throughout the day. Each day, Sophie would find a corner, usually close to where we were hanging out. One day, we all stayed in a room at the back of the house together.

Each evening, once it was quiet, the cats would creep out and spend several minutes sniffing and checking out what had been changed, who had been in the house, etc. It’s over now and both cats are back to their normal. Lily is in my lap as I type this. We all made it through the ordeal unscathed.

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Newsday Tuesday – How to Make Shelter Cats More Adoptable

I love this story. Do you know who Jackson Galaxy is? He’s known for his TV show, My Cat From Hell. Well, he has launched a program called Cat Positive wherein shelter directors are urged to teach shelter cats to follow simple commands. Makes sense. When you’re in the market for a cat, wouldn’t you be intrigued by one who reaches out to you with a high five or would show that he could sit on command, for example?

Think about it, this is also good for the cat, who might be a little frightened or feel lost. A cat tends to come out of his shell a little when someone spends time with him. A cat who learns to pay attention and listen and react, not only makes a good impression on shelter visitors, but the cat benefits, too. She begins to feel more secure in her surroundings and with people.

Photography is another way to help a cat or a dog get adopted. My friend, Ruth retired from doing photo shoots and began volunteering to take candid shots of shelter animals to help make them more adoptable. In case you know a shelter director who could benefit from these ideas, here’s an article with 20 tips for helping to make more cats adopted. Here’s another site with 10 really good ideas:

A Brag

Yesterday, my Certificates of Excellence arrived from the Cat Writer’s Association Contest for the best articles, stories, blogs, etc., related to cats for 2017. I received these for a series of blog posts I wrote on traveling with cats and another series on keeping your cats healthy. I’ll attend the awards banquet in June where I’ll be in competition to win a Muse Medallion. There are some amazing animal professionals in this organization and, while I’ve received the Certificate of Excellence over the years, I’ve never made it to the Muse Medallion level. Crossing my fingers.

Would love it if you would point out particular posts that you think are outstanding in some way so I can consider entering them in next year’s contest.



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Mindful Monday – Pets and Higher Education

Did you have a cat in your dorm room when you went to college? More and more colleges are assisting students in making the transition from home to the higher education community by allowing them to bring their pets. Colleges in North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, and other states have opened their doors to pets and they allow most any small animal. One university even housed a pair of ducks for a pair of roommates one year.

Evidently colleges already allow support animals for students with physical and emotional disabilities. But for many, the idea of welcoming pets for the general population is new. So if your child or grandchild is heading off to college and having trouble with the idea of leaving the family, you might look into the possibility of him or her packing up the family dog or cat to keep them company.

Naturally, there are rules and regulations. For example, the pet-friendly dorms are separate from the rest of the community of dorms. There are certain rules to protect students who are allergic to animals, such as, you must wash the pet’s bedding in a designated area so as not to endanger students with serious allergies.

The array of pets students keep is rather surprising. Aside from the usual cats and dogs, students are relying on pet ferrets, fish, gerbils, rabbits, and lizards for companionship and comfort. There are even tortoises, snakes, rats, and spiders sharing dorms with students.

Did any of you have a pet while attending college? I mean legally—legitimately. If you could have had one, what would you choose?


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Frivolous Friday – Sometimes There Just Aren’t Enough Cats

Too few cats? That’s not generally a problem we hear about these days. Instead, we read articles and see news reports of neighborhoods and cities and especially shelters being overrun by unwanted cats. But evidently there is a cat shortage in London. Suddenly, more and more people are wanting cats of their own.

Some say this is because of the rising popularity of Larry and Palmerston, two mousing cats currently living on Downing Street. Larry is mouser for the Cabinet Office and Palmerston works in the Foreign Affairs offices. However, all is not calm and peaceful. The two cats have been fighting—even to the point that one of them needed veterinary care.

Anyway, it’s speculated that these two cats have inspired a greater interest in cats in London, but there are few to be had. So a shelter in Yorkshire has been shipping cats to a shelter in London because of the sudden need. It’s an unusual story with a lot of happy endings.

Read about Larry and Palmerton here:

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Thoughts for Thursday – Is the Cat Trained or is it Conditioning?

We talked about training cats yesterday and I asked if you’d taught your cat anything. I believe that most of us have rituals with our cats and routines that involve them. Is that training or conditioning? What is the difference? Does it matter? I mean, if you have a sweet routine with your cat that the two of you enjoy, it really doesn’t matter if it’s training or conditioning. It’s sweet. And it helps to endear you to your cat and vice versa.

That’s the theme of today’s blog post. But first, I’d like to share a link to one of my recipes. Yes, I said recipe. It’s off topic, I know. But Kaycee at My Crafty Zoo expressed an interest in my Klepto Cat Mysteries. She’s a reviewer of books and other things. She posts reviews, giveaways and recipes. So I submitted a recipe for Quinoa Squash Soup. Here it is if you’re interested:

In the meantime, here are some of the things I’ve enjoyed with my cats that may be considered conditioning, training, or simply habit. My Himalayan, Katy, used to tuck me into bed. She’d come and “get me” when it was my usual bedtime, accompany me to the bathroom, then the bedroom and hop up onto the bed with me. She’d lay on my pillow for a few minutes with one paw on my shoulder. After several minutes, she’d take off to parts unknown. It was like a doting mother putting her baby to bed.

Winfield, our white odd-eye cat, always checked his water and food bowls when we started closing down the house, lights, etc. preparing for bed. If they were low, he’d sit next to them and wait for us to walk by and notice. I’d say he had us trained.

Lily comes into the living room about 15 minutes before bedtime and stares at me with big eyes. When I head in to go to bed, she follows me through my night-time routine, watching, waiting. As soon as I get into bed, she takes one last bite of kibbles and sip of water, then joins me.

Sophie, on the other hand, waits and watches for me to leave my spot on the sofa, then she curls up there for a couple of hours sleep.

Of course, every cat I’ve had quickly learns my wake-up time and routine. And if I don’t wake up on schedule, they will start a plan to wake me. Does your cat do that?

I find it interesting that a cat will change her routine from time to time. Lily, for example, will come into my office after eating in the morning and curl up in my lap. I call it our cuddle time. She’ll do that for weeks, then stop all of a sudden. I used to think it was the weather—if it was chilly, she’d cuddle, if not, she wouldn’t. This week, however, we’ve had some extreme heat (for this time of year). And she’s been requesting early morning lap time. We’re also having workers around the house during the day this week and that scares the bejeebers out of her. So she might be seeking comfort by curling up in my lap.

Experts say it’s good to establish a routine when you have cats. It can actually help you to train them. I guess you might say that I’ve trained Lily in a way. She’s a beggar. Well, that’s my fault and I’ll take the blame. Lily LOVES food and eating. But it wasn’t always that way. She had a period where she stopped eating. She was a very sick little girl. And we tried every ploy and enticing food we could think of (as directed by a team of veterinarians) to get her to eat. I think it was then that we created our little monster glutton. Now she wants every morsel of food in sight, including whatever I’m eating.

At least I’ve trained her or conditioned her to sit and wait until I’m almost finished. If it is something okay for her to have (no heavily seasoned food, etc.), I’ll leave a tiny morsel for her at the edge of my plate and she gently reaches over and takes it only when I give her the okay. I love that little fur-girl.

Here’s an interesting article on the value of routines for cats.

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Trained Cat—an Oxymoron?

Yesterday we talked about the fact that there’s more research going on related to dogs than cats. One theory is that scientists shy away from working with cats because they can’t be trained. Say what? Then why do you suppose there are so many products out there designed to train a cat? There are toilet kits to teach cats to use the human toilet, for example. Heck, even the litter box and kitty litter can be training tools, as are cat toys designed to encourage a cat to replicate a hunting instinct (for those who may not have the instinct innately).

Clicker training can be successfully used on cats. There’s also a technique I have not heard of before called target training. You use an object—a pencil or wooden spoon, for example, and touch it to the cat’s nose. When the target object touches her nose, she gets a treat. I imagine the purpose in this is to get the cat’s attention. Wow, that would be a challenge. The only time my cats pay attention to me is when I’m opening a can of cat food or rattling a package of their treats. Yes, they’re food trained! It’s time to eat and they come running. I rattle a treat bag and they’re under foot.

Just yesterday I saw a clip on Facebook showing ordinary household cats who had been “treat” trained. They would sit, lie down, give a high five, rub their ears, and follow other commands for a treat. Entertaining and CUTE!

Yes, cats can be trained. Just look at the success Samantha Martin has had training cats for the Amazing Acro-Cat Circus. Here’s a great article about the Acro-Cat Circus and what Ms. Martin has contributed to the plight of homeless cats.

Are you interested in trying to train your cat? Or have you trained your cat to do something specific? Here’s a great site for teaching your cat how to stop doing things—changing bad behavior.

Dr. Joanne Righetti has a great blog where you can learn all kinds of tips for healthy and happy pets. She is also skilled at training cats.

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Newsday Tuesday – Here We Go Again—Cats Versus Dogs

Even though it seems that the Internet has gone hog wild with videos of and information about cats, dogs still come out on top in most competition. For example, there are around 400 breeds of dogs and only about 40 cat breeds. And dogs are still studied more than cats are. According to researchers, dogs have been domesticated longer than cats—which actually should make cats more intriguing. Don’t you think so? Yes, more research is being done with regard to dog behavior, health, ailments, genetics, and so forth. While cats are chosen when it comes to researching certain diseases—cancer, for example, they just aren’t as interesting to most researchers for a variety of reasons.

Some say that cats are more difficult to study because they don’t cooperate. They don’t do what they’re told. Which is also why some of us are attracted to cats, don’t you think so? However, it may surprise you to know that cats can be trained. Stay tuned. That’s going to be my theme for tomorrow’s blog post.

So is it true that dogs rule the Internet over cats? According to a simple search by James Gorman, author of an article published in the New York Times in February, there were 2,850,000 results for dogs and only 1,670,000 for cats. That surprises me, actually. It seems like the Internet is brimming with cats. But perhaps I’m thinking of cute videos and the reporter was searching for something more specific.

Anyway, I think you’ll enjoy reading this fascinating article. I loved the comment by one of the people Gorman interviewed. When asked why there are more studies related to dogs than cats, he said, “Probably because cats won’t consent.”

Hmmm, I wonder if there are more jokes, sayings, phrases, quotes about cats than about dogs? Anyone want to do the research to find that out?

Here’s the link to the NY Times article. Enjoy:

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Mindful Monday – What the Internet is Teaching us About Cats

Cats seem to be taking over the Internet. Is it just me or has there been an enormous increase in cat-related posts, articles, videos, and so forth? I still maintain that the Internet has been good for the cat. People, who may have never paid much attention to cats are learning volumes about them. They’re smiling and even laughing at the sweet videos and photos of cats and kittens. They’re feeling sympathy toward abused and forgotten cats and understanding more about the species.

Knowledge leads to questions, thus we learn even more. And the more we learn about a topic, the more invested we might become in it.

I’d really like to know how many former non-cat people have adopted a cat or two because of the Internet. Are people looking at the stray cats in their neighborhood with more kindness and, perhaps, offering a little help? And what have you learned about your fluffy housemate since the Internet came into play?

Certainly, I’ve picked up a ton of information since I’ve been writing this Catscapades blog. Just about every time I post here I learn something new from an expert or professional or just by talking about some of my own experiences and thoughts. Another thing I learn every time I post is how much more I have to learn. How about you? How has the Internet influenced your relationship with your own cats, the way you look at the species, and/or your level of interest in a particular cat-related issue or breed, for example?

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Frivolous Friday – Cats and Flowers

Cats and flowers seem to go together. A bouquet or garden of flowers is just the right background or foreground for cat photography. And a picture of flowers really comes to life when there’s a cat present.

This is the time of year when we tend to bring flowers into the house to enjoy the beauty and the scent. But beware. Many—I mean MANY plants and flowers are toxic to cats. A few years ago, I visited a nursery to purchase a plant for my office. I told the proprietor, “I have cats. It will have to be nontoxic to cats.” So she began looking up the various plants we thought would work and most of them claimed to be toxic to cats. Needless to say, I went home empty-handed. In fact, I bought an artificial plant to use in my office.

We know that lilies are poison to cats, as are poinsettias. But were you aware that chrysanthemums, daisies, and amaryllis are toxic to cats? And gardenias, iris, jade plant, pothos, tulip and narcissus bulbs as well as daffodils and—yes, it’s true—marijuana.

The ASPCA gives an extensive list of plants toxic to animals—choose “cats” to view those plants you don’t want to bring into your home if you have cats. They list 417 of them.

Now it has been my experience that if these plants are growing out of doors, cats will generally avoid them. But you really have to be careful when bringing a bouquet or a potted plant inside. If your cats are indoor-only, they are interested in everything you bring in and if it is green and living, even more so. Protect your precious kitties—educate yourself about the dangers.

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