Cat Chat with KittySitty

Cat Chat

Hello to everyone and welcome to the latest edition of Cat Chat with Amanda at Kitysitty

Week 4

Nicola Amie Curtis asked This is Alfie & his constant meowing is getting worse as he gets older (currently 15). He will walk round the house howling & crying even if he can see us. As you can see butter wouldn’t melt but I would love to know why he does this?? We have a plug in, catnip, try to give him plenty of attention & food so would love anyone’s advice xxx

Hi Nicola and Alfie- this is a common situation that I get asked about so many times. Firstly, you need to take Alfie to the vets to get blood profiles done, this is the first step to a better understanding of what is going on. Older cats may vocalise excessively for several reasons, including disorientation, loss of hearing and pain due to one or more medical conditions, so its imperative that this is done initially.

You didn’t say when the vocalization takes place. Many senior cats yowl at night-time, which can be very disruptive to their owner’s sleep. Yowling cats with vision or hearing impairment can benefit from a night light or sleeping in a smaller safe place with the ventilation fan or a radio or Alexa turned on to provide soothing background white noise. A Feliway plug-in or cat remedy diffuser releases a pheromone that helps these cats relax and feel secure.

Some senior cats vocalize because they’re hungry in case this is the problem try feeding a high protein, low-carbohydrate meal just before bedtime, or offer a timed snack in a feeding station with compartments that open on a timer.

Hyperthyroidism that isn’t well regulated can cause any-time vocalisation, and it and other diseases can cause hypertension, which also can induce this awful distressing sound, Pain from arthritis or dental disease makes cats cry at night, when there’s little to distract them from their discomfort. If Alfie isn’t taking pain medicine for any dental disease or arthritis, again talk with your vet about pain management. Therefore, it’s so important to get the groundwork done at the vets first. Lastly the most obvious cause is dementia or SCD senile cognitive dysfunction One-third of cats, ages 11 to 14 (and half of all cats 15 and over), develop dementia, a common cause of vocalisation.

These cats are helped by the environmental enrichment methods mentioned above, nutritional treatment, supplements and medication. But the best overall treatment for seniors is extra love, extra reassurance and extra time spent with them. They aren’t with us for ever so spend the time with them to make them feel safe Hope this helps and please let me know how you get on – Best of Luck

Eve at Sleapy Cat Rescue asks I just want a bit of advice about a feral that came here about 18 months ago and I’m trying to get mine to get along with him but they keep chasing him off. He’s come so far as I couldn’t get near him to start with, trapped him and got him castrated and released back here thinking I wouldn’t see him again, but he came back that night for his tea. He’s a little unpredictable and I have the scars to prove it but he will now have a good fuss and even sits on my lap in the porch. He is not the aggressor, my Murphy and Cheeko are, Harvey takes no notice of him, you think you’re making progress and they are behaving then Murphy will chase him.

Hi Eve, you don’t say whether this lucky feral is now living with you and cheeko and Murphy or he is still very much an outdoor cat. Assuming he is still outside or maybe living in the periphery of your home – I think sensibly if its working as it is now and he is still getting care and food then maybe this is the best you are going to get without disrupting your two boys too much. To try and integrate into your home and their social group is a whole other topic which I am happy to discuss with you if you feel appropriate. In the meantime, do what works for you and the cats- either feeding at the same time in fairly close proximity or totally separate. Do what causes the least stress to everyone you included!

Sorry I cannot be more specific, but I really need all the goals and objectives of your circumstances to expand further, but if you need me you know where I am.

Zoe Curtis asks My cat Lily pulls this face when she plays and none of my cats have done it before, she rolls about the floor doing it not closing her mouth. She looks crazy, is it a funny quirk or does it mean something?.

I think what Lilly is doing is called the Flehman response and is totally normal. The Cat Flehmen response is a reaction of our cat to a certain smell and it looks really funny. You can recognize it by the funny sneer or grimace face expression your cat does.

When cats sense a new and interesting smell, they will curl back their upper lip. Usually their teeth will be exposed after doing this. This causes them to look a bit funny, especially if they sniff on something strange. For example, a cat sniffing the foot of someone new might end up hilarious. When they do this, they will have their mouth open in order to pick up more of the new scent. Some cats will expose their lower teeth and will have a bit of an open mouth. Others however will curl up their upper lip on one side and will look like they are going to sneeze. Either way Lilly is picking up an interesting scent from somewhere. If it is on the carpet maybe someone has brought in a secret message from outdoors. It is normal behaviour and seen in big cats, horses, giraffes and even pandas do it too! So next time she does it grab your camera and tell her to strike a pose!

Anna Ridout asks what’s the best way to help and stop an early weaned kitten now 10 months old from sucking on my clothes when I’m wearing them? I’ve tried distracting him but sometimes he doesn’t want to play but launches back into kneading and sucking. Am attempting to get him to self-comfort with a blanket but only something on me will do still.

Hi Anna, I love this question and you may find my answer to be quite strange. I think if this kitten is getting comfort from you then allow it and how privileged you are that he has decided you are good enough to be his chosen mum!

I can understand the frustration about your fabric getting ruined however so maybe only wear your Sunday best when you are going out! He won’t do it forever! I know some suggestions was made to aversion therapy to smell etc but don’t do this you could open a whole other can of worms; this little chap just wants soothing and reassurance, so give it him in abundance. Some breeds are especially programmed to suckle on anything, normally the exotics- however if a kitten is weaned too soon he may still exhibit this need to suckle behaviour too. Whatever happens don’t try anything to stop him especially nasty tasting or smelling scents, that’s like sticking mustard on a crying baby’s soother!

Just cherish this time because he will soon outgrow this and may only occasionally self soothe.

Now for a cat fact – Have you ever noticed that cats walk like camels and giraffes? Their walking sequence is both right feet first, followed by both left feet, so they move half of their body forward at once. Camels and giraffes are the only other animals to walk this way


Week 3

Mike from Ellesmere asked – Our cat is a fair-weather outdoor cat. On days like the ones we are having over Easter he likes to be out all day. When the weather is less good, he will spend time asleep inside. He will always go out at some point in the day and never uses his litter tray. He’s very good about coming back in the evening and staying in overnight. He has a problem with crystals in his urinary tract and so has special dry food recommended by the Vet which also contains something which helps him to be less stressed. He is doing very well on this. Once or twice we have had to collect a urine sample for the vet which has meant confining him for a couple of days until he was forced to use his litter tray. The vet has agreed with us that the stress involved this should probably be avoided in future. How can we prepare him for staying indoors if we need to because of the Coronavirus?

Hi Mike, You did not say how old your kitty is but don’t worry, you can teach any cat any age to adjust to a new environment. Here are a few ideas for you to try. They all revolve around distraction and enrichment for your cat. Believe it or not YOU are more likely to suffer more from the transition than the cat!! We all know that cats train their owners so you may have to retrain your signal/reaction behaviours too!

Install a perch indoors near a sunny window; padded perches can be purchased at many pet supplies stores or through online retailers such as Catipilla or Cat Tree. Another option is an enclosure that sits in a window frame (catio) and provides a secure space in which your kitty can hang out. Larger perches can attach to the side of a house or ground-floor apartment patio. The catio is of course the costliest of all the suggestions.

Buy a ready-made cat tree- these are in various sizes or make your own. A cat tree can be short or may stretch from floor to ceiling. It provides great climbing opportunities and, in multi-cat households, creates more play and rest areas by taking advantage of vertical space. If you can, locate the cat tree next to a window so your cat can watch the action outdoors.

Play with your cat each day. Try different types of toys that allow your cat to stalk, chase, pounce and kick. When you’ve tired out your cat, store toys that could harm them (such as toys with strings attached) out of reach. When you can’t be there to supervise, leave out “toys” such as paper bags (with the handles removed) or cardboard boxes. Be sure to switch the toys from time to time so that they seem “new” and more interesting to your cat. You can spray cat nip onto older toys and place in a plastic bag to invigorate the scent and make it appealing once again.

Bring the outdoors in by planting cat grass (available from pet supply stores) in indoor pots so your feline can graze safely.

Lastly but most importantly, if you are having trouble slowly transitioning your cat to a happy life indoors, it may be better to go “cold turkey.” Letting your cat outdoors occasionally may only reinforce their pestering behaviour, so keep them indoors all the time.

Do your best not to give in to their requests to go out and distract their attention with play. Your vet may also prescribe a short course of anti-anxiety medication or homeopathic therapy to help your cat through the transition period.

Kate Cooper asked, Thanks to KittySitty for answering the questions! Won’t be able to try the plug-ins until after lockdown as unable to get anywhere and no post! But its sporadic that he does the spraying so should cope till then!

Same cat different problem! What is it with their love of anything elastic!!?! Does it mean he is lacking in something?

I’m much tidier now but if I forget he will happily munch through and digest hair bands, the elastic from pants, bra straps, strappy top bits and shoelaces! I get that they may look like something to play with but they don’t move! Obviously not good for him as have to help it out the other. Jai is an Arabian Mau, and has always had a love for eating these things since he was young, so not linked to the spraying which is only a recent occurrence.

This is known as Pica and can result from many reasons and its interesting you mention Jai is an exotic cat as Oriental cats are more predisposed to this type of behaviour.

Many kittens will nurse on wool and start pre weaning to adore the feeling of sucking on fuzzy blankets etc this habit also may appear in cats that were weaned too early. The younger a cat is weaned, the stronger its drive to nurse and the more likely the cat is to suck on wool — or its owner’s arms, earlobes, or hair. Although some cats may only suck on such fuzzy items as wool, fleece, and stuffed animals, others progress to eating these fabrics. And some cats move on to eating stranger items such as shoelaces, paper, plastic goods like grocery bags and shower curtains, and even electrical cords. I had a cat that adored plastic bread ties and cable clips and Tesco was his preferred bag to munch on given the chance!

Cat pica may be caused by many things, including:

Dietary deficiencies– Some cats will eat their cat litter if they’re anaemic. It’s normal for cats to eat a little grass, eating a lot of plant material may indicate something’s missing from the cat’s diet.

Medical problems – Cat pica is also associated with feline leukaemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, and it may be triggered by conditions like diabetes or brain tumours.

Genetic predisposition – For some cats, pica appears to be in their genes eg wool sucking, sometimes a precursor to pica, is seen more frequently in exotics like Siamese, Sphynx, Mau and Birman breeds.

Environmental factors– Is your cat bored or seeking attention? Does he need more mental or physical stimulation? “Some cats require more environmental stimulation than others, especially the exotics from my experience.

If a cat simply sucks on wool or other soft and fuzzy items, that’s usually not a problem, but other objects can cause obstruction within the intestinal tract and then you have a major emergency.

I think it’s important to have blood works done first just to rule out any deficiency etc. but, in the meantime, try to remove targeted items. The easiest solution may be simply to hide the clothes, plants, or other items your cat loves to chew.

Give your cat something else to chew. Divert and distract your cat’s need to chew toward safer, more appropriate things like cat toys inside which you can hide an edible treat, or some other appealing item made specifically for cats. To keep grass-eating cats from sampling houseplants, try growing catnip or a small pot of grass for your cat to nibble on.

Play with your cat. Some cats that chew maybe just bored or lonely, so make time for any attention-starved kitty by giving them more mental or physical stimulation. I am guessing this is not the case with Jai but this may be the issue for another reader.

Make appealing items unappealing. Applying strong-smelling substances like citrus air-freshener or foul-tasting things like hot sauce but no garlic as this is toxic!

Get rid of dangerous plants. If your cat is attracted to houseplants, get rid of those that are considered toxic to pets. Lazy flora does a section of plants non-toxic to cats so you can have the best of both worlds. I intend to cover an issue of toxicity in plants soon, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Be patient- both with yourself and your cat. Its human nature to want a quick result but this retraining can take months. Just remember you cannot eat an elephant in one go, but you can piece by piece!! Please keep the questions coming in, no matter how silly it may sound, you may be helping another cat owner who has the same issue.

Week 2

Valerie asked – I’d love to know why my 8 year old girl Florence pees everywhere, on curtains, furniture, even the fridge is going rusty. She was found in the river as a kitten and lives with her brother, who as another rescue cat came to me at the same time. They love each other. I give her as much love and reassurance as I can. I’ve tried Feliway with no effect. She has a clean litter tray and constant access to the garden. I would be grateful for any suggestions thank you.

Pets don’t choose where to urinate maliciously, they pick what will work best for them at any given point in time. As youngsters most cats are “hard wired” to pee in a loose, textured substrate like soil, sand, or cat litter. Hence, we don’t have to train kittens to use the litter box, we just show them where it is, and they take it from there. But when anything changes a cat’s feeling of harmony it can create a change in behaviour, and for cats this is seen predominantly in toileting, in other words when circumstances change a cat will alter their behaviour accordingly.

There are several main reasons why cats pee outside of the litter box. Let’s take a look at them in order of priority:

Medical Issues: This is the first thing to worry about. Certain medical problems make cats produce more urine than normal (e.g. kidney failure or diabetes mellitus) or have an increased sense of urgency associated with urination (e.g. feline interstitial cystitis, bladder stones, bladder crystals, urinary tract infections, etc.). In these cases a cat may experience an urgency or even pain that prevents them from reaching the litter tray. So, your first step, as I mentioned last week, is a trip (under covid restrictions) to your vet who are well versed in dealing with this type of issue.

Unclean Toilet stations: Assuming all is well health wise with your cat, then you need to look at the hygiene of the boxes. Boxes must be cleaned out regularly, and for some cats that’s after each use! Be kind to your cat and always clean out the trays after each use. Cats are very fastidious, and many will not go into a box that smells bad, or that is soiled. Would you?

Type of litter: If your cat is uber fussy maybe he doesn’t like the hard wood pellets on his paws, maybe he doesn’t appreciate the new cotton fresh or lavender litter you purchased thinking it would eradicate the smell of cat wee in your home! Maybe you changed the litter and this has resulted in a change of equilibrium in kitty’s bathroom!

Location Location Location: Putting the box where it suits you is not necessarily where the cat would choose to carry out their call of nature. Next to a whirring washing machine or busy corridor is not going to sit well with your cat. Make sure the tray is not at the end of a one way in and out area, i.e., can the cat escape from monsters after his poop or pee if needed, or will he be stuck in a ‘no way out’ situation. This may sound bizarre to you, but this is how instinct tells a cat they will be most vulnerable from predators when concentrating on doing their business. If you have ever watched your cat’s expression when they poop you will see they are on poop planet and not ready to flee from any danger.

Multiple Boxes: In a multiple cat household, a bad experience associated with the box, like being attacked by a housemate while inside (think location above) may prevent or deter use of the box. For each cat you should have one box and one extra. Ideally in different locations.

Stress and Anxiety: This can be brought on by any of the above, along with a new housemate, or the arrival of a baby, or a house move. Even a new cat in the neighbourhood can create stress. Last week I mentioned different stress diffusers or sprays etc you could also try Caroline’s calming blend of herbs which you can find here.

Given enough time, a cat that urinates on the rug or other unsuitable surfaces will start to feel that this is normal behaviour. It can be difficult to get these cats to start using cat litter again, so owners need to deal with inappropriate urination as quickly as possible. Prevention is better than cure, but if it does happen, then check out some of the odour removing suggestions I made on last week’s Cat Chat below.

Abby asked – Kittysity what can I do to help my cat Pendle be more confident with other people who come into the house? I live on my own, so she’s only really used to me being there for the vast majority of the time. I’m married and although me and my husband don’t yet live together (long story!), she’s completely fine with him when he comes round and also with my adult teenage stepdaughter.

However, anyone else, like my parents or other family and friends, she immediately runs and hides under the bed or sofa and refuses to come out. I’m not sure if it’s anything to do with an early experience we had trying to introduce her to my 3 nieces and nephew, who are all under 10 and were quite overexcited about meeting her and couldn’t understand the need to respect her boundaries. They didn’t hurt her in any way, but did try to crawl under the bed and lift the sofa to stroke her, even when I asked them not to 😿 I’d love to be able to introduce her properly to people and let them see what a sweet girl she is, but she just won’t have it!

She’s nearly one year old, I’ve had her for 9 months and she seems to have always been like this. Forgot to say, she’s also quite nervous and jumpy about other things, inside and outside the house – for instance she seems really scared of the recent “Clap for Carers” and growls and clings to me throughout and often jumps at the slightest noise. I’m currently experimenting with Feliway plug-ins, but have only been using them for a few weeks and obviously haven’t been able to have any visitors during that time.

Dealing with the unconfident cat: Cats that have not socialised within the first ten weeks of kittenhood generally tend to be more timid of household visitors that they unaccustomed to. Some cats are genetically timid than others, just as humans, we have introvert and extrovert personalities.

When a cat starts to retreat and exhibits caving behaviour the first thing you need to do is to control their environment by removing or blocking access to their cave. You can do this by having a cat tunnel which you place under the bed or sofa. Let her get used to retreating into the tunnel. You can then after a short time move the tunnel into the middle of the room so she can still hide and adopt the ‘I can’t see you so you aren’t there’ cat theory, but YOU have control of the hiding place.

Then start to block off her hiding areas. Try the Kong spaces haven and then progress to the tunnel, which you can place in the middle of the room. This may sound a little harsh stopping her from hiding, but it is forcing her to grow in confidence. Obviously with exuberant children most cats other than the extremely confident, would go and hide, so you will have to cut her a little slack on those visits in these early days and perhaps just move her into another room whilst they visit until her confidence has grown.

Lots of play therapy when visitors arrive with added treats thrown in, so positively reinforcing that when visitors come around great things happen!!

Have you ever wondered why people who hate cats complain that the cats seem to be attracted to them? This is because the cats don’t see them as a threat as they are not engaging, maintaining any form of eye contact, etc., as the human is doing their best to ignore the cat. However, curiosity killed the cat! They become curious as to “who is this human?”, “This human doesn’t seem to see I’m here, so they must be safe to check out”.

Initially, tell all your visitors to blatantly ignore Pendle! No eye contact, no pspspspspspsp! Just plain rudely ignore her.

When I go to visit a cat for the first time with their owners for a meet and greet session, the first thing I do is ignore the cat!!! The owner can’t wait to introduce the new caretaker to their beloved cat so I do have to explain my logic in my actions many times much to the amazement and relief of the client!

Teach your visitors to slow blink at Pendle if she has ventured out – in cat language that’s a welcome smile.

Lastly, try essence solutions as have been already mentioned such as ‘safe space’, ‘pet remedy’,’ scaredy cat’ to name but a few. Get your guests to wipe pet remedy on their hands or shoes so that it will seem inviting to kitty, so she pops out to have a treat and a bit of play therapy when guests arrive.

To conclude, visitor time is a treat and playtime!!

Week 1

Karon asked “I have a question, how can I persuade Pebble that once he’s in for the night, he’s in and that’s it?! He will spray (despite being neutered, and litter trained) to try to get his own way. He only does it when he wants to go back out, but I’m not letting him out at 10pm! Litter trays all cleaned and topped up, and big trays (big cat :)), he’ll use it if I literally put him on one. Think he has me well trained…”

Hi Karon, you answered your own question really! Pebble has you trained to his actions. A few things are worth mentioning first, rule out any urinary tract infections or bladder stones with your vet. However, if you are sure he only commits this crime when he decided ‘he’ wants to go out that’s a whole different ball game.

My advice would be to structure his day slightly differently so that his reward i.e. play and or food comes in the evening before you go to bed. If he starts to want to go out and you are still around try to distract him with a new toy or play and then give him his food before you go to bed leaving him to his own devices.

The areas that he is spraying thoroughly clean with a specific disinfectant that eradicates the faintest of odours such as FRESH PET available on amazon. Once that is done go for a spray or a wipe of PET REMEDY again on amazon this is way more effective than FELIWAY in my humble opinion and you can see a visible difference right away – this will counter
any anxiety Pebble may have if it is a separation issue with you leaving him at bedtime.

Hope this helps and please let me know how you get on – Best of Luck

Emily-Jo asked “Ok, a question for Kittysitty! I’ve seen multitudes of conflicting advice for trying to control cat zoomed at night. We would let them zoom to their heart’s content if we could, but we live in a second floor flat and are worried about the noise below, especially as we have a very large boy who sounds like a child running up and down the corridor. Do you have any one piece of advice you think is most valuable for limiting this behaviour?

“Please note that while they are indoor cats have a world of toys and a giant cat tree and are interacted with constantly, so in theory shouldn’t want for stimulation!!

“One thing we are considering is shutting them in the bedroom with us. If we do that, how might we discourage them from banging on the door for hours to get out? Our doors are heavy and Victorian and make a hell of a noise when bashed!”

Hi Emily-Jo and thank you for your question! Zoomies are the best to watch aren’t they? Pre poo/post poo/just cause they can zoomies . But it can get a little hairy especially when they start looking for the mother ship on the ceiling to land!!

Again without knowing your structure and routine with your furbabies I would suggest a meal at bedtime and a spray of PET REMEDY to calm before the onset of the zooms! How about a laser pointer to tire them out before the bedtime zoomies if you can of course depending on the time and how bad the noise is for your flat neighbours.

Another thing you could consider is vertical staging so they engage going up rather than across. ZOOPLUS and CAT TREE UK do some fabulous vertical high wall staging that you could do to ‘catify’ your home. So in a nutshell give them more direction to travel rather than horizontal.

How about a cardboard box castle easy to make it will be great in the short term to break the time of the zoomies but cats will be cats and it’s their way of releasing that energy burst that makes them feel good so if you can allow them this release at at time and in a way that is more social for you and your neighbours then it’s a win win!

Lastly my suggestion would be a cat wheel if you have the space . They can be costly and there are cheap ones available but cheap is not always the safest so if you do go down this route and they do work for all breeds but if you have a high energy kitty then these are fantastic. Check out CAZAMI CAT EXERCISE WHEEL on the web.

In response to keeping them shut away in your bedroom, you will just end up with frustrated and pent up kitties so think how you can let them be more cat but in the ways I have suggested. Good Luck and let me know how your work on this.

Emily asked “I have a question! My cat – female 7y spade. Keeps peeing in the bath, or on cushions etc. Yesterday she peed in a box of Lego!! What can I do?”

Hi Emily! Thank you for your question. It’s a bit of a repeat answer in so much as firstly rule out any UTI after speaking with your vet, don’t underestimate the importance of this.

Has anything changed in her world? a new pet or maybe a neighbour’s new cat in the area? is any cat getting into her home and making her anxious? If so, a chip activated cat flap may be the answer or maybe the threat is outside and making her reluctant to go out to do her number ones!

Once she has found a nice place to pee you are going to have to get the cattery grade odour eliminator as I mentioned previously to eradicate her smell. Once you have done this maybe consider a litter tray to see if her problem is outside.

With regards to the plug hole again disinfect with the odour eliminator don’t use bleach as the ammonia mimics cat urine and can attract them to pee in an area that you use bleach in and around.

If you think about the box and the bath, they are both enclosed areas that she has used so my guess would be this is a stress response to her outside world if she has only recently doing this. Give her lots of fuss and attention and remember you cannot scold a cat like you can a dog. She won’t understand and will only exacerbate the issue if she is feeling insecure. Do get a PET REMEDY plug in diffuser to put in the home where she spends most of her time, as I have said before this is much better than FELIWAY in my opinion.

Good luck with your girl, try to be patient and put in place my suggestions and be sure to let me know how it goes.

Kate has much the same problem! “I have a multi cat household and recently my 5-year-old neutered male who gets along with the other cats has started peeing/spraying on things mainly cushions and my bed! I’ve heard it’s sometimes through stress but not sure what he could be stressed about!”

Liz said: “I have this problem too with my 3 yo neutered Male, hes so chilled but then randomly pees in places like my work tops and in baskets. I wondered if the other Male Tom’s who pass by our house “bother” him to make him territorial!”

Hi to both Liz and Kate to which the same reply really to Emily is relevant to you and your boys, glad to see they are both neutered and again it does seem like a stress response so action the above steps and see how you go and be sure to check back in and let me know.

Now for a cat fact – Don’t place your cats food next to their water, it discourages them from drinking and cats can be hard creatures to drink water at the best of times and with the hard kibble diet that some cats are exclusively fed its extremely important that they drink.

In the wild food next to water would be considered to have contaminated the water therefore instinct would prevail, and they would avoid drinking unless they had to.

That’s all for now cat lovers! Remember to be more cat!

Until next time …………………..