Mindful Monday – Why Don’t My Cats Get Along?

While I’m certainly no expert on cats, least of all their behavior, I write about them, live with them, advocate for them, and love them. And I get questions, and I attempt to respond. (I do know how to conduct research and I have opinions based on what I’ve observed and experienced—as we all do.)

One Catscapades blog follower asked why her cats don’t get along with each other. She said they’ve been together for a long time and don’t seem to like each other. In fact, she said, they just had a “dust-up” the night before. (I assume that means face-off or spat or swat-fest.)  Here’s basically what I told her:

Do you ever watch Jackson Galaxy’s show ‘Cat From Hell?’ He faced that problem with show guests often and usually was able to help to a degree. He watched the cats’ actions and studied their personality and history to discover what each wanted, how they reacted to people and activities, and what might be lurking in their past to cause them to behave in certain ways. Then he’d try to afford each cat his pleasures–one might prefer being higher–create perches on the walls where he can sit and nap. One cat might have bad eyesight and when the other one comes near, he is startled. There could be any of a hundred reasons why cats rumble. Maybe one of them got the upper paw at some point and has taken advantage of that. Maybe the meeker cat needs more one-on-one human time.

Certainly there are others with this problem. In our household Sophie (14) and Lily (10) only tolerate each other. While Sophie loved playing with Lily when she was a kitten, the two of them are not particularly bonded. They don’t cuddle together, nor are they aggressive with each other. They do however, on occasion, have a “dust-up.” I call it a girl fight. They sit looking at each other for a moment as if saying, “I was here first.” “No I was here first—you move.” Then a paw goes up in a threatening manner. Then a second paw. One or the other (never the same one) will close her eyes and slap. The second cat slaps back. There may be a few additional slaps, then they step off and go about their business as if nothing happened.

Why do cats rumble? Experts say it often has to do with competition—a sense that they are competing for food, space, the human interaction. Of course, Fluffy will resent another cat coming in and disrupting her happy home, but not all cats will make it a huge issue. Most will simply ignore the other cat and maybe display cat-itude once in a while. Others become aggressive and will bully the other cats in the household if they can get away with it.

According to the ASPCA website, a major reason why cats don’t get along is lack of early socialization with other cats. And it generally boils down to fear, change, disruption, being territorial. All cats react to these things differently.

What to do? Here are some things that might help: feed the cats in different areas away from each other, bring in more litter boxes, use pheromones, provide more perches and hidey holes for them and, here’s a biggie, toss them treats when they’re behaving nicely with each other.

Here’s a site with additional information. Let me know if any of these suggestions work in your home. Truly, if this is an issue in your happy home, you will get some constructive ideas here:  https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/aggression-between-cats-your-household

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Frivolous Friday – Cat Toys Are Big Business and Great Behavioral Tools

What do cats do—they sleep, they eat, they play. Sure, they’ll play with just about anything that looks interesting, a blade of grass, one of the grandkids’ toys, a wine cork, a Cheerio they dug out from under the microwave stand… And they’ll usually glom onto certain store-bought toys you bring home or that you make at home.

I once made a cat sleeping bag. I saw them at a cat show and thought I could make one for my cats. One of our cats at the time, Dinah, watched the process of cutting the fabric, pinning, sewing, ripping out and sewing again. She hung with me through the entire few hours. When I finished, I placed it on the floor and stood back to look at it. Immediately, Dinah dove into it and took a long nap. Bingo! Score one for Mama!

But not all of the toys we bring home or devise are a success. Each cat seems to have his/her own faves among the many types of toys (and non-toys the cats pilfer). Never fear, businessmen and women everywhere are listening to our cats and they’re coming up with sturdier, more colorful, more creative and fun toys ever for cats. Yes, cat toys are becoming big business. After all, cats need to play too.

In fact some experts say that play is an anecdote to bad behavior. A cat that is bored is more likely to cause trouble in the household. Enrichment is important for cats, which means switching things up once in a while; introducing new treats, different toys, and fresh activities. http://www.petbusiness.com/April-2019/Cat-Toys/

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Thoughts for Thursday – Kittens in a Pouch

Have you heard of a Kitten Bjorn? It’s a vest you can wear with a pouch for kittens similar to the baby packs moms and dads wear when out and about with their infants. The kittens can hang out in a large mesh pocket with their siblings and see, hear, and feel the presence of a human all the while.

A volunteer at the Animal Rescue League of Boston came up with this idea a few years ago as a hands-free method of socializing kittens for adoption and they’ve found it to be extremely successful.

I’ve seen people carry cats in slings over their shoulder, backpacks, front packs, and push them in strollers, but this is a first for me and I’m fascinated. I thought you would be too. Check it out here:

https://www.thedodo.com/close-to-home/feral-kittens-socialized

 

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Kittens in the Hood

This is the best spring ever. We have kittens living next door. Our neighbors adopted two of the most adorable kittens—sisters. One looks like her Maine coon-type mother and the other one is black-and-white. Their purrsonalities are as different as their coloring. But boy do they love each other. There’s nothing like adoring feline siblings.

Of course, the kittens are living indoors, so I spend a lot of time trying to come up with reasons to visit and get a peek at them. If I’m lucky, I even get to sit and cuddle them for a few minutes. We all work at home and we’re all busy—so I’m careful not to intrude—while, of course, intruding.

This family has bunnies and I give them my vegetable leftovers. Instead of saving them up for one weekly trip, lately I’m delivering them a string bean and a spinach leaf at a time. Thursday we made chicken and dumplings, which we always share with these neighbors. I got to watch the kittens play for a few minutes when we delivered the food and after supper I received a super neat treat. The neighbors came knocking at our door saying they wanted to share dessert. Yup, they brought the kittens over for a cuddling session. Heavenly.

What do Lily and Sophie think of the mini-“thems”? Sophie has no interest in connecting. She hides under the sofa anytime anyone visits with or without kittens. Lily met one of the kittens once. They went nose-to-nose, and she was not impressed. After they left, Lily spent several minutes giving me the “how dare you,” stare. Sorry Lily, Mommy bad.

So will that stop me from getting my kitten fix? No. I’ll just have to be a little sneaker about my visits.

 

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – Kittens in the Hood

This is the best spring ever. We have kittens living next door. Our neighbors adopted two of the most adorable kittens—sisters. One looks like her Maine coon-type mother and the other one is black-and-white. Their purrsonalities are as different as their coloring. But boy do they love each other. There’s nothing like adoring feline siblings.

Of course, the kittens are living indoors, so I spend a lot of time trying to come up with reasons to visit and get a peek at them. If I’m lucky, I even get to sit and cuddle them for a few minutes. We all work at home and we’re all busy—so I’m careful not to intrude—while, of course, intruding.

This family has bunnies and I give them my vegetable leftovers. Instead of saving them up for one weekly trip, lately I’m delivering them a string bean and a spinach leaf at a time. Thursday we made chicken and dumplings, which we always share with these neighbors. I got to watch the kittens play for a few minutes when we delivered the food and after supper I received a super neat treat. The neighbors came knocking at our door saying they wanted to share dessert. Yup, they brought the kittens over for a cuddling session. Heavenly.

What do Lily and Sophie think of the mini-“thems”? Sophie has no interest in connecting. She hides under the sofa anytime anyone visits with or without kittens. Lily met one of the kittens once. They went nose-to-nose, and she was not impressed. After they left, Lily spent several minutes giving me the “how dare you,” stare. Sorry Lily, Mommy bad.

So will that stop me from getting my kitten fix? No. I’ll just have to be a little sneaker about my visits.

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Newsday Tuesday – National Hug Your Cat Day

Now this isn’t a difficult assignment. We live to interact with and love on our cats. They bring us so much joy. And remember, having a cat around is healthy. All cats can be considered therapy or support cats.

It is known that sitting with a cat can lower your blood pressure. I don’t know about you, but just looking into my cats’ eyes makes me smile. And watching them at play makes me laugh. Laughter is healthy. Cats can create a more pleasurable and fun environment.

So today, give each of your cats a little one-on-one love and wrap them in a sweet bear hug. That is unless your cat doesn’t warm up to hugs.

Do you have a cat who can be considered aloof or at least a little or a lot resistant or downright opposed to hugs? This morning I felt the urge to cuddle with Lily and since this show of affection wasn’t her idea and since she was more interested in me getting right into the kitchen and feeding her, she protested by stiffening up and struggling in my arms and she even dug a claw into me. So much for Lily’s National Hug Your Cat Day hug.

It’s true, not all cats care to be confined in the arms of a human unless it is on their terms. Lily will curl up in my lap, but only when I’m wearing my robe and in front of my computer. She adores petting and affectionate scratches around the neck, but only when she wants it. Otherwise, she will duck and sway away from my attempt to pet her. One of 15 kittens to three feral mother cats that year, I don’t think she got much human affection. Such a shame. But she does love us on her terms. She keeps me in her sight almost 24-hours a day and she’s often close to me—at my feet, mostly.

I heard recently that the grace period for socializing kittens is 3-7 weeks. Not much of a window of time. We adopted Lily at about the 7-week mark as close as we can figure.

Sophie came straight off the street at 10-weeks and she was untouchable at first. We still cannot pick her up. Try and she becomes Jello. But boy does she love a warm lap and loving hands. She’ll turn inside out for some nice petting and even a hug if we do it to her liking.

So if you have a cat who shuns a hug, you can still lavish affection on her, just approach her from her good side. Make it a hands only hug. Caress her. Give her head and neck scratches. Just remind her who loves her.

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Mindful Monday – Who Are Your Cat’s Friends

You’ve probably noticed that your cat will avoid certain people and animals and they may seem fascinated by others. While your kitty may ignore most visitors, she always approaches Aunt Mary, for example. Fluffy and Puffy might watch a wandering dog through the window with great interest, but hiss and growl every time they see Sparky, the neighborhood feral cat.

Even within the pet family, cats will have favorites. She might always curl up and cuddle with a sibling or the largest family dog, but stay clear of the other critters in the household. What is it that creates friendships within the animal kingdom? This is an interesting question because we’ve all seen cute pictures of a cat allowing a deer to lick her face, a kitten snuggled under the wings of a momma duck, a gorilla gently holding a kitten, a cat hanging out with a calf and so forth.

Many cats make friends with the household dog when adopted, which is pretty smart on the cat’s part. You sure don’t want to get on a dog’s bad side when he outweighs you by thirty pounds. But some cats even become best buddies with a pet bird or a wild bird. There are certainly a lot of videos and photos online showing best bud birds and cats. It’s absolutely charming. Just type in “cat and bird friends” at the search prompt and you’ll be treated to some of the most adorable videos and stories.

In my Klepto Cat Mystery Book 36—which I’m currently working on—I’ve brought in a Image result for birds and catscouple of different types of birds for Rags to interact with. I think you’ll find the stories around his acceptance and even friendship with these birds refreshing and entertaining. No spoiler alert here. Book 36—“A Whisker of Truth” should be out for your summer reading pleasure sometime in July.

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Frivolous Friday – If Cats Ran a Contest

Is your cat competitive? It seems that some cats are more so than others. They vie for attention, see who can run the fastest up and down the hallway, compete for food and treats, and stage friendly battles over the first morning shard of light.

As humans, we have contests for everything in practically every topic or activity—sports, the arts (fine art, music, theater, writing, photography, etc.), crafts, cooking, automotive, animals…the list is long. Personally I’ve been involved in competing in horse shows, photography, writing, sewing/needlework, art (that was a long time ago), pool, softball, and distance walking. I’ve watched many horse competitions of various types—endurance rides, rodeo, equitation, racing—as well as dog shows and cat shows.

Now if cats were to engage in organized competitions of their choice, what do you think it would be? What skills and talents do cats embrace and seem to take pride in? I’m thinking, endurance napping, creative begging, longest period of time spent ignoring the human, litter scattering, fur flinging, fur ball urfing (largest, most yukky, most interesting yakking method). Oh yes, and there’s litter art. Lily often creates little (and large) shaped clumps for me—in heart shapes, duck shapes, and once I’m sure her intention was a replica of Mickey Mouse. Best litter art would be a very popular contest for most cats as would best clawing art not related to the scratching post.

How about longest stare, best napping technique or position or most interesting napping place.

Additional competitions might include bird watching without drooling, escape techniques, creative hide-and-seek methods, and, for the more adventurous cat, most precarious perch reached inside or outside the house.

Can you imagine your cat participating in some of these competitions? What’s his or her expertise?

 

 

 

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Thoughts for Thursday – You Are Your Cat’s Lifeline

While at the Cat Writers Conference last week, I met a lot of cat experts—experts in cat travel, cat safety, cat training, veterinary care, healthy diets for cats, cat rescue, specific cat breeds, the cat show circuit, judging cat shows, and so forth. But I like to think of myself as a cat expert. After all, I write about cats and most importantly I own cats.

Like many of you, I’ve lived with cats for most of my life and I’ve loved them forever. Certainly that makes me an expert on certain issues related to the cats I’ve cared for. I became an expert in my relationship with each of my cats. No one knew Katy, Max, Winfield, Daisy, Molly, Pom-Pom or any of the rest of my cats like I did. And no one knows Lily and Sophie as intimately as Dennis and I do. In my mind that makes us experts on Lily and Sophie and the issues that come up with them.

This is not to say that we don’t call in experts in specific fields when we need to, such as veterinarians and second-third-fourth opinion veterinarians where it makes sense. I’ve done a lot of research over the years to resolve and understand issues that have come up. And I’ve called on professionals in many areas—behavior, holistic remedies, ordinary cat owners who’ve experienced similar problems, groomers, cat dietary experts, and even a cat psychic.

It seems to me that while our cats are personal to us—they’re our babies, our source of comfort, our companions—it takes a village to keep them happy and healthy. Don’t be hesitant to reach out in order to learn more about caring for the cats you love. They depend on you.

 

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Wild (and Sometimes Crazy) Wednesday – It’s Still Kitten Season

Have you seen ads in your newspaper and messages in your email and snail mail boxes lately about the abundance of kittens needing homes or assistance? Shelters are begging for help of all kinds. More kittens are showing up at your local pet stores. Perhaps you visit your shelter with small children to see the array of kittens and even help socialize them. It’s likely that you know someone with a litter or families who have recently adopted one or more kittens.

Individuals are also posting pleas for help with their unwanted kittens. Others are happily announcing their adoption of a homeless kitten. One of my adult granddaughters adopted a kitten found in a wall at the restaurant where she works. There were several young kittens in there along with their mother, who had died. Sad. But then there are many sad stories told this time of year along with the beautiful stories of forever homes for deserving and wonderful kittens.

This is the time of year that you can make a difference.

Adopt a kitten.

Foster kittens.

Volunteer at a local shelter.

Donate to a local shelter.

Donate more than usual this year.

Write letters to the editor about the need for volunteers and adoptive families.

Put up flyers reminding citizens to focus on the kittens this spring.

Post notices on your facebook page.

And while you’re at it, educate the ignorant about spay/neuter programs.

It appears to be a serious kitten season everywhere. Pleas for help are coming from Orange County, CA; Chicago; Houston; Kauai (Hawaiian Islands); Asheville, NC; Grand Junction, CO; Yuma, AZ, and probably in your community too.

I would love to hear back from you about your experience helping with kitten season this year. Remember, it’s not the kittens’ fault they’re here and so needy.

 

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