CATio of the Week – from Karen in Chicago

Last week we featured a story about cats and wildlife, and how building a CATio, an enclosed patio just for a cat, can allow your cat fresh air, sunshine, flowers, and their own little garden without hunting and killing birds or bothering other wildlife. A CATio would protect your cat from being harmed by owls, coyotes and other predators – like bad people. Everyone loved it!

This week we feature another great example of a CATio and the happy cats who get to hang out in it!

Our Malcolm is always moving, always into mischief! He loves being able to go outside and enjoy the ever-changing scenery!

Karen from the Chicago area

Here are Rudy (red kitty) and Malcom (black) enjoying their deck time. We have a Cat fence, hinged at the top, all around our deck and along the side of the house. They LOVE being out there!

This CATio is particularly timely – black cats and pumpkins! And it’s really beautiful.

A thought we’d like to add is if you already have a CATio or are planning to build one be sure that the door that leads inside is locked to keep predators of the 2-footed kind from harassing your cats! You might install an alarm to the door too. Some may want a security camera out there as well.

Give your cat an outdoor CATio, save songbirds and wildlife at the same time!

We’ve all read reports that outdoor cats are deadly to wildlife – in particular song birds. Usually those reports are harsh and very anti-cat, sometimes calling for the rounding up and euthanizing of ferals or cats thought to be feral. While we do not agree with such a measure outdoor cats are indeed very much a threat to song birds, migratory birds, other wild birds and small wild animals.

One of the many dangers to outside cats is second-hand poisoning. If a bird or small rodent has eaten “rat poison” then your cat eats that animal you cat can die. It’s been well documented that the use of rat poison has wiped out entire families of owls and other wonderful birds, and other beneficial animals like skunks and opossums both of which eat a staggering amount of insects and small pretty, and without their presence we’d be in trouble. If you are tempted to use rat poison – don’t, you are causing multi species deaths, they are safer ways to keep rat populations down.

A CATio to the rescue! Last week we asked our beloved readers and customers to submit photos of their own CATios which are specially built patios or enclosures make just for cats who want to enjoy the sunshine, a cool breeze, and the great outdoors – even if its suburban!

But before you enjoy those photos we want you to read a carefully and lovingly written article from WildCare of San Rafael, CA about the CATastrophic effects of outdoor cats on wildlife and birds. The author lives with cats and loves cat deeply. Truly, it’s alarming and if you have an outdoor cat and don’t read this article and take it to heart… well, to quote an old 1960’s adage, “if you aren’t part of the solution, then you part of the problem.” Designing and implementing an outdoor CATio customized to suit your cats and your home will be a fun project, the outcome to be enjoyed by all!

Reversing the CATastrophy

by Melanie Piazza, Director of Animal Care, WildCare

(An article reprinted from the WildCare newsletter – Summer 2016)

I grew up in an animal-loving family. Our cats were always indoor-outdoor. It’s just what you did back then. Of course my family’s cats hunted, and I can recall as a child searching the yard with my little sister for bird feathers, skulls and wings – the remnants of unfortunate victims of our cats. It never occurred to us, back then, that this was unfair to wildlife, and preventable by keeping the cats indoors.

I also remember losing two cats to the traffic on the busy road behind our neighbor’s house. We would bury them in our pet and wildlife graveyard in the backyard, all of us sobbing for another beloved companion lost. Again, it never occurred to us that this was unfair to the cats, and preventable by keeping them indoors.

A New Perspective

In 1998 I started working for an animal shelter / vet clinic and wildlife rehabilitation hospital. I saw more hit-by-car, lost-a-fight-with-something now-dying-of-infected-wounds, and suffering cats, both owned and stray, than I had ever imagined. I also discovered something I had not thought about since my childhood – an endless flow of injured, maimed, orphaned wild animals caught by cats.

There are countless studies and reports attempting to quantify just how many wild animals free-roaming domestic cats kill each year. The most impressive study I have seen so far is ongoing, and being conducted by National Geographic and the University of Georgia. This study put cameras around cats’ necks to record their actions outside the home. Cat guardians who were in denial about their cat’s death count were shocked to see the truth, and scientists gathered invaluable information. You can learn about it at:

From Our Own Experience

Depending on which special interest groups fund a study, the number of killed-by-cat wildlife can vary greatly, so I will speak from what I know firsthand. At WildCare alone we treat roughly 500 wild animals a year that have been the victims of cat attacks. This number encompasses not just birds, but mammals, reptiles and amphibians as well. And these are only the animals that cat owners find alive and bring to us. Regardless of where you stand on the topic, the number of wild animals that free roaming cats kill, injure and orphan is staggering, and is putting many of our wild species at risk. Any wildlife rehabilitator can tell you how maddening and heartbreaking it is to treat or have to euthanize the never-ending flow of mangled and suffering animals that are caught by well-fed and well-loved cats year after year.

Addressing this topic puts WildCare in a challenging position. We are grateful to be available to give these animals the medical care they need and the second chance they deserve, so we are thankful for the rescuers who bring them to us. We work hard to be mindful of walking the balance of not offending cat guardians because we want everyone to feel that they can bring wildlife in need of assistance to us, and we love cats too! But as wildlife advocates we must have conversations with those whose cats have caused damage (especially repeat offenders), in the hope of changing human understanding and behaviors. I wish someone had taught me about this years earlier!

Cats and Hunting

It is obviously a natural instinct for a cat to hunt. What is not natural is that our cats are domestic animals introduced into a wild food chain. In the wild, when a local prey population, of, say, rabbits, grows large in number, the local predator population, let’s say hawks, grows as well. More hawks may move into the area, and all the wellfed hawks have more young. As the predator population continues to grow, they gradually reduce the prey population. With less food available, some hawks starve and die, some are forced to move out of the area in search of food elsewhere and their own breeding is not as successful. During this downswing in hawk numbers, rabbits have a chance to repopulate. The prey population recovers so well that eventually the predator population booms again.

This cycle is repeated over and over. Now introduce domestic cats. Cats are housed and fed by their guardians, their every need taken care of. They can live up to 20 years in the same territory. There are multiple cats in the area and more are added every year. Nothing brings cat populations down. Cats don’t need to hunt to survive, but do it for fun. Prey animal populations never have a chance to recover.

Another common argument is that wildlife should evolve to be able to avoid cats. If they do not, they “should” be taken out of the gene pool anyway. In truth, evolution is the result of
species evolving side-by-side over untold years, affecting each other in the process. Wildlife cannot evolve fast enough to respond to a domesticated species. Free-roaming cats killing wildlife is, in fact, an unfair and unnatural situation from which many species cannot recover. Another point to make about the “food chain” that is important for pet guardians to realize, is that once you allow your pet outdoors unprotected, natural or not, they have entered the food chain where not only can they hunt, but they too can be hunted.

The best news regarding the topic of free-roaming cats and wildlife is that the carnage is preventable! There are many resources online to teach you how you can slowly acclimate your free-roaming cat to an indoor life and/or how you can keep an indoor cat happy and healthy.

A Better Alternative

A lifetime of lessons later, my personal favorite compromise lets me keep both wildlife and my cat safe, and still offers my feline friend the fresh air and sunshine she loves – the CATIO! A catio can be any size, shape or configuration to fit your house or apartment and just about any budget. From something as simple as a window box to a screened-in patio area with multiple level pathways, your imagination is the limit. You can build your own or purchase prefab kits. There are numerous photos in this article of catios belonging to WildCare staff members and volunteers (including my own) and you can also find more ideas online. Visit for a list of resources.

And in a final note, I realize that some cats will not adjust to being kept indoors. They will yowl non-stop, shootingshooting outside at any chance. If this is your cat, then the best we can ask is that you do everything in your power to mitigate the damage that he or she can do.

Here are some ideas:

  • Utilize online resources that will teach you how to slowly acclimate an outdoor cat to an indoor life.
  • Do not allow cats outdoors during dawn and dusk when wildlife is most active, both for your cat’s and wildlife’s safety.
  • Harness and leash-train your cat for supervised walks.
  • Try products such as The Cat Bib and BirdsBeSafe collars, both available in WildCare’s gift shop.

Note: Bells do not work. Cats learn to walk without ringing them and fledglings who cannot fly still cannot escape, even if they hear the bell. If you see a fledgling in your yard, please keep your cat indoors for the few days this baby bird will need to learn how to fly.

“If Not This Cat, Then the Next”

“If not this cat, then the next” is a great message from an amazing (if unlikely) coalition between the Audubon Society of Portland and the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon. For those who currently have an adult cat for whom all attempts at keeping indoors have failed, we encourage you to make the pledge that the NEXT cat(s) you adopt will be indoor only.

These two organizations have joined forces in an attempt to reach more people who disagree on the topic of free-roaming cats and their impact on wildlife. By bringing together both cats and wildlife lovers, they hope that more people will be open to conversations and suggestions from both sides, which is what WildCare strives for as well.

Resources for CATios – lots of great photos of CATios for you to order or to inspire your creativity

Based in Canada – they ship all over North America –

Based in Austin, Texas – – has excellent designs for delivery to the Austin area only

More CATios in upcoming newsletters! Send us yours!

Last week we asked you to send us pictures of your CATio. We heard from many innovative people and received their wonderful CATio photos – the first of which is shown in this newsletter with the others to come in a new feature called “CATio of the Week.” As we promised last week, the people who submitted their submissions before October 7th will get 4 cat toys – we won’t be able to do that again, but YOUR CATio will be seen, praised, and admired by thousands of fans and friends!

So don’t feel bad if you didn’t get a chance to send in your photo the first time around, there’s much more time do so. Send your CATio photos to to inspire our readers. We ask that you use this in the subject line so we can keep track of the photos: “My CATio” – the pictures should be at least 640×480 and included as email attachments (rather than embedded in the body of the email).

Do you professionally build CATios? We want to see them too and we’ll link to your website! Be sure to put MyCATio in the subject line.

Our first CATio of the Week comes from Pat, owner of owner of Kitten Sittin’ ( in Tampa, FL.


The Importance of the Food Bowl to Your Cat


The above video was intended to be funny. It sort of is (sort of) but for us at Cat Faeries we are all about harmonizing multi cat households and we know that each cat needs their own food bowl to keep fighting and stress levels down. Food bowls should also be as far apart as possible for privacy because most cats need the feeling of safety and knowing that others can’t steal their food.

Carnivores don’t like sharing food. It’s upsetting to them and goes against their nature. Stresses like this in the home can lead cats to fighting, spraying, and peeing outside of the box. And you know how unpleasant that is, for everyone!

If you have a cat or two that are particularly territorial or if you have hissing and swatting in the designated dining area consider feeding a cat separately in a bed room with the door closed. Allow the cats enough time to finish their meal before you collect and wash the bowls – usually 30 minutes is more than enough time.

If you do feed a cat in another room it should not have a litter box present. We’ve all heard the expression that “animals don’t eat where they poop.” Would you like eating by the toilet? I didn’t think so!

A bonus to feeding cats is separate rooms is that this is a great way to help a chubby cat lose a few ounces! No sneaking food from other food bowls! In fact to trick the cat into thinking they are getting extra food – divide the portion into two dishes! The cat will feel special because of the illusion that it’s twice as much!

Lastly, food bowls or dishes should be several things: 1) Wide enough for the cat’s face, 2) Made from a safe material and that means NEVER plastic or lead based ceramic: we like clear Pyrex glass bowls. 3) Washed thoroughly with soapy water or in the dish washer each time the cat has eaten to prevent biofilm from accumulating.

What is biofilm you ask? Here’s an article we wrote about it from last year: Your cat’s water bowl – do you know about biofilm?


The Hidden Risks of Stress in Cats – Become a Zen Kitty!

Newton’s Purrspective – The Hidden Risks of Stress – Become a Zen Kitty!

Most cats prefer a predictable routine. We like our meals on time, favorite napping spots available when needed and toys where we can find them. (Yes, I know sometimes we bat toys under the furniture, but then it is a human’s job to retrieve them. That’s not really too much to ask, is it?) Going to the vet is obviously a high stress activity. But stressors can be much more subtle. A partial list includes: addition of a new family member (human or furry), trimming nails at home, new furniture, different food, weather conditions, and the overall emotional environment in the home.

Isaac Newton


A cat’s ability to handle stress can be described as a continuum. At one end Zen Cat takes all change in stride. At the opposite end a new pillow on the couch might have Frazzled Feline hiding under the bed for a week. Cats in the middle are affected by stress, but may not show any outward signs – until they get sick with symptoms of an infectious disease.

How can this happen when Kitty lives inside and has not come in contact with sick cats? Many kittens (particularly those from shelters) have at least a mild upper respiratory infection early in life. Once the symptoms are gone, however, they may be carriers of two potentially serious viruses: Calicivirus ( ) and Herpesvirus
( Although usually dormant, the symptoms can reappear under stressful conditions such as those listed above or due to the presence of another disease. All lower the immune response resulting in an outbreak. The hallmark symptoms for Calici and Herpes are sores in the mouth and eye inflammation respectively.

Mycoplasma is a bacteria so it does not lurk in the body once a cat has recovered. However, stressed cats are more susceptible to infection to this bacteria in the environment. Some symptoms are similar to Herpes and Calici, so a veterinarian should be consulted to rule out multiple infections which require different treatments.

  • Coughing, sniffling and sneezing
  • Frequent urination or problems evacuating the bladder
  • Bloody urine
  • Colitis, which causes mucoid or bloody diarrhea
  • Lethargy, weakness, depression and fatigue
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Lesions or abscesses on the skin

Viral infections typically require support therapy during the illness followed by supplements that can inhibit viral activity (e.g. L-Lysine, an amino acid). Antibiotics are most commonly prescribed for bacterial infections. There is no vaccine for Mycoplasma.

Your cat can become a Zen Kitty! In addition to all the things you do to keep your cat healthy, reducing stress in the environment can help keep Kitty’s immune system strong to fight off infection. Cat Faeries has a number of products to decrease stress e.g. Calm and Serene, Multi Cat Household, Elder Support, Kidney Kitty, and Convivial House Cat.

Music played for cats also provides a soothing environment with pitches and tones known for calming and health enhancing qualities. I enjoy Ball of Twine and am looking forward to the latest CD Forever a Kitten which Cat Faeries stocks.


Cat Faeries’ Eleven Commandments for Living with Cats

Cats really and truly want nothing more than to be loved. They want our approval and acceptance. They want us to care for them as if they are the most precious thing in our lives. Cats are highly sensitive and emotional. When they are upset or scared, or annoyed, they let us know in many ways including peeing on something. They just don’t know that this action completely freaks a person out and for good reason, the smell is horrible, and there is the worry that it was happen again and again.

We bumped into this “A Cat’s Ten Commandments” on Facebook. It’s good but we wanted to put our own spin and viewpoint on it. We hope you like it. Share it far and wide if you do like it.

Cat Faeries’ Eleven Commandments for Living with Cats

  1. My life time here on Earth will be anywhere from 8 years to over 22 years. During that time I need you to love me and care for me as best you can.
  2. Be patient with me and understand that I am an animal who is trying to live in a home. I’m trying to be well behaved. I am not a child with the perspective of a human. While my brain might be like that of a 3 or 4 year child I have the instincts and temperament of a feline. I may do things that you do not understand, but please try to. I’m my own species.
  3. Should you lose your temper with me and yell at me, hit me, kick me or throw me remember that your brain is much bigger than mine, that you weigh at least 15 times more than I do, and that you have the ability to rationalize and forgive what I did. You can walk away or calmly address it. You can open your mind and heart to see that I am different from you…
  4. I need the respect of all who enter our home, no matter their age, personality, or status. I need the respect of all who dwell in our home – without exception. They don’t have to love me, but to accept me and be kind to me at all times. Do not allow any form of abuse in our home, ever.
  5. Do not abandon me. Do not dump me on the streets or in a shelter. Do not choose me over a baby or boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife. I am family. I am part of your family. I add enrichment to our family.
  6. I will grow old, frail, and weak – as will you. Would you like it if someone “got rid of” you? Promise me you’ll erase the phrase “got rid of” from your vocabulary about me and other animals.
  7. Pay attention to me. Pet me, but not too much – know when I’ve had too much. Keep my nails trim, my fur brushed, my teeth looked at by a veterinarian.
  8. Food is everything to a cat. We may not be rich but please buy me or make me the best food that you can. Do not buy cheap lifeless food because it’s cheap. Do your best. Food is both my pleasure and sustenance.
  9. If you must leave me to spend hours away from home hunting for those green pieces of paper that buy cat food and pay bills, know that I worry about you. You could be pounced on by a bigger animal while you are out hunting. If your hunt means you are gone for a few days please have a kind person come to feed me and talk to me in your absence. It will help my delicate nerves and ultimately my health and well-being.
  10. Provide for me some great toys, warm soft places to sleep, and as much quiet and peace as you can create in our home. Remember, if our home is healthful and safe for me that it is healthful and safe for you too.
  11. The time will come when my body gives out and it’s time for me to go, to cross The Rainbow Bridge. Please be with me up until the end. Stroke my fur. Talk to me. Remind me of our good times together. Remind me of our love for each other. Tell me that you look forward to seeing me again when your time comes. I loved you with all of my heart.

Healthy Feline Weight and How to Achieve It

Newton’s Purrspective – Healthy Feline Weight

People often complain that they put on extra pounds during the winter. Indoor cats may have the same problem – too many treats and not enough exercise. Although we do not have any incentive to prepare for swimsuit season, being overweight is a problem and can be a serious health concern. Feline obesity can lead to:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Joint disease
  • Skin problems
  • Shorter life

Isaac Newton


The demands of increased body mass may exceed the body’s ability to produce insulin. Obese cats are 2-4 times more likely to develop diabetes.

The liver is a vital organ that supports nearly every other organ in the body. Excess fat stored in the liver (hepatic lipidosis) decreases liver function and can be life threatening.

Of course, excess weight puts stress on joints. If movement is painful Kitty is even less likely to play and burn off calories.

Overweight cats cannot groom themselves properly. The extra weight makes us less flexible and we just can’t reach all the places that need attention. Consequently we may have dry flaky skin and dull fur, even if we have a high quality diet.

Before starting a weight loss program Kitty should have a complete exam. Weight needs to be taken off slowly and should be done through a combination of diet and exercise. The body can’t cope with rapid release of toxins and certain vitamins stored in fat.

FUN FACT – Did you know that, unlike people, cats must get all their vitamin D from food? It is stored in fat, and blood concentrations of vitamin D can be a predictor of feline health.

Your vet may suggest a special weight loss diet or simply smaller portions of Kitty’s regular high protein food. (Obesity in Cats… and What to do About an Overweight Cat – PetMD) Cats are obligate carnivores. We just don’t have the ability to digest carbohydrates the way people and dogs do. We need protein. Under natural conditions our meals would be small and unpredictable.

In fact – one mouse is the perfect meal for an average sized cat! A typical mouse is made of 20 percent protein, 9 percent fat and lots of moisture.

This is a difficult concept for many humans. Food is equated with love and cats have a way of looking “so hungry” we must need at least a small treat. Free feeding (leaving a full food dish out all day) is the human equivalent of sitting next to a large bag of snack food. Kitty may be eating more due to boredom than because she is hungry. Feeding small meals throughout the day has an added advantage of showing exactly how much is eaten (or not).

Follow your vet’s recommendations for portions and number of feedings per day. Weight should be checked at monthly intervals. Toys are a great way to increase activity — everyone in my family loves Cat Faeries toys. But some cats just aren’t interested in catnip. (It is genetically determined and does not mean anything is wrong.) In that case interactive toys (e.g. feathers on a wand), cat furniture for climbing, or even a playmate may help.

Once Kitty has reached a healthy weight follow your vet’s recommendations for maintenance. (Remember, being too thin is also unhealthy. If your cat is losing weight despite eating normally or has stopped eating do not delay in seeking professional help.) Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the ways to increase the chance of a long and happy life for your cat.

Some advice from your Cat Faerie – how to help a chubby cat in a multi cat household lose weight.

First, free feeding is never a good idea. To prevent over eating cats should have two meals a day. Breakfast and dinner. Each cat should have their own food bowl spread out to allow for space between the cats.

Tell your vet how much the plump cat weighs. Ask what the ideal weight for that particular cat is. Ask the vet how many calories a day the cat needs to slowly (and we do mean slowly, quick weight loss leads to liver failure in cats) drop the weight. Ask your vet for a realistic time frame for the weight to come off safely. Call the cat food company and ask how many calories are in the food, so you know exactly how much to measure.

For a chubby cat who needs to lose a few pounds we’ve created a very successful method ~ you will feed that cat in a room separately from the other cats with the door shut. To make this even better – split that cat’s food portion into TWO BOWLS! The cat will be overjoyed first because of the special room but also thinking it’s twice as much food because it’s in two bowls! Allow 20 minutes for all of the cats to eat. Collect the food bowls of the cats in the kitchen first, then the bowl of the cat who’s behind a closed door and let the cat out. Wash in hot soapy water to remove food bits and bio film.