Newton’s Purr-spective – When grooming gets out of control

One of the most frustrating feline medical conditions is when our cats over groom, or self-barber. This means they are licking or biting at their fur until bald spots form, and in severe cases bleeding. We’ve tried, and failed at, creating a flower essence formula that would work for all cats who do this. Veterinarians give out drugs but from what customers tell us, they don’t work and in some cases can make it worse. And most people don’t like giving their cats drugs like this, which we understand completely.

We once had a bunny who did this. It was when we gave her less freedom and confined her to her cage more than letting her roam with the other rabbits, she stopped barbering and her fur started to grow back. I’ve never forgotten that and wondered how something like this could help cats.

Recently we received a photo from someone who wanted us to post her cat to Facebook and Pinterest. The cat was wearing a shirt and the person who submitted it said the cat wears it to help with his anxiety.

From Kelly: “This is Roger. You will usually find him wearing some sort of shirt every day. It helps him a little bit with his anxiety issues. Roger found me when he was about a year old. He was living in my neighbor’s back yard. He is now almost 9 years old.”

We assumed that the snugness of made the cat feel secure much like Holly the bunny felt so secure being in her cage rather than being free ranging and thus the self-barbering could stop.

Snugness. There are therapies for children and adults with blankets and hugging that help a variety of emotional conditions, so why not a sweater or a jacket for a cat!

This was such a fascinating theory and solution that we asked our feline friend Newton (who knows everything) to investigate. And this is what he discovered – including a jacket that you can purchase for a cat who’s going overboard with grooming.



Fellow cats: Have you ever heard your person say, “I was so upset I was pulling my hair out”? Hmmm. It sounds rather painful and I can’t imagine it would solve any problems. But people do say strange things when they are angry or stressed. Although we don’t have the pressure of bringing home a paycheck cats get stressed too. By nature we are curious and enjoy intellectual stimulation, but we do value the comfort of basic routines in our daily lives. Change that persists longer than a visit to the vet can really upset our emotional balance.

Examples of stressful situations range from a change in kitty litter to moving across country. A new addition to the family (animal or person) or loss of a beloved companion also increase stress and anxiety.

When we are kittens our birth mom licks and cleans us and makes us feel safe. As adults we find our daily cleaning ritual soothing. It stands to reason that under stress we would groom ourselves to ease anxiety. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can lead to hair loss as the follicles break. Licking the unprotected skin can then cause sores and infections. Since licking is our natural response to heal a wound a vicious circle starts and continues until the stress is alleviated. http://cats.about.com/od/behaviortraining/a/catover-grooming.htm

The pet parent is generally unaware of the damage Fluffy is doing to herself until it is painfully obvious. Stressed cats often hide and do their excessive grooming in private. This is one reason to do regular exams on all your cats to detect problems in their early stages. What should be done if hair loss is discovered?

1. Rule out potential health issues such as skin diseases, parasites or allergies.

2. Determine the source of the stress.

3. Modify the environment to reduce or eliminate the stress.

Well known stress relievers include Feliway® http://www.catfaeries.com/feliway.html, flower essences http://www.catfaeries.com/essences.html, calming music http://www.catfaeries.com/music-for-cats.html, and environmental enrichment.

Another nonpharmaceutical therapy (for animals and people) now widely used is touch. Here are some examples I’ve been reading about.

The Tellington TTouch® has been helping animals and people with anxiety since it was developed in the 1970’s. http://www.ttouch.com/whatisTTouch.shtml

The centuries old practice of wrapping fussy infants in swaddling cloths is still practiced today. Some say the pressure simulates the comfort of being safe in the womb.

Pressure and weighted vests help relieve anxiety in autistic people.

The ThundershirtTM, now available for dogs and cats, exerts gentle pressure to the torso to relieve anxiety. The exact therapeutic mechanism is currently unknown. However, good results have been achieved. http://www.thundershirt.com/Product/ThundershirtForCats.aspx?item_guid=04a62476-dd84-4c67-ae9b-83f2fb67db81

“Wait a minute”, you say. “A shirt on my cat? I’ve been dressing Tiger up as an elf for holiday photos for years and he is definitely NOT relaxed and smiling.”

True, the idea of using pressure to calm cats is relatively new. Many veterinary clinics use a technique called the “kitty burrito”. A nervous cat is firmly wrapped in a towel for examination of a small exposed part. Clothing a cat would wear on a frequent or daily basis is harder to imagine. Actually, the term “shirt” is a bit misleading. The ThundershirtTM looks more like a thin lifevest.

Cats are more sensitive to touch than dogs. The first time wearing the shirt they may freeze or even lie still on their sides. As with any new thing Fluffy needs a gradual period of adjustment to different sensations.

No single method is guaranteed and you may find that a combination is required. Patience and experimentation with the examples I’ve given will help you to discover what works best to reduce Fluffy’s anxiety and restore her fur coat.

You can’t know too much about Anti Icky Poo! A Q&A.

Here is an interesting Q & A between Cat Faeries and a customer which we think you’d like to read. We’ve edited it a bit here and there.

Question: For clean up, I have used vinegar with water spray. A “natural” spray cleaner from a conglomerate chain store. I’ve also used ammonia in a spray bottle.

Answer: OH NO! Ammonia is the worst! And this is why: Cat urine, in fact all urine from any species, has an ammonia like quality. Our housecats instinctively seek out the smell of ammonia, which ideally is only detected in the litter boxes. This tells the cat: “it’s ok to pee here! This is where we cats are to urinate.”

What you accidently did was spread the smell of ammonia around your home! But don’t feel bad or beat yourself up, today is a new day, we begin anew! We will conquer this problem together!

Vinegar does nothing other than in the short run it’s nice to clean up a fresh puddle. But it will not eradicate the smell or the urine proteins and gases, or that ammonia.

That’s why it’s imperative to use a product like Anti Icky Poo which does not mask the odor, but actually eats urine’s proteins and gases, thus eradicating it completely.

Q: The peeing and spraying is happening in living room, kitchen, dining area, pantry, and porch. A few spots in each room- example, the fire hearth, in front of refrigerator door, by dog treat bin in pantry, on treadmill. Since I’ve got cat urine all over my home, and I’ve probably put the smell of ammonia throughout my house too, what can I do?

A: Do you recall how in your Feliway handout we talk about using it in each room “here and there”?
You are going to do something similar with Anti Icky Poo – PLUS – use it on the spots that you know have been hit. These are methods that we created based on our many years of experience.

The reason for Here and There with Anti Icky Poo is that when we suspect that there is urine in places you don’t know about we want to cover our bases.

When a cat sprays they do one of two things:

  • They empty their tank on one surface or wall
  • They can spray little drops or a fine mist on multiple things to claim the entire house or garden as IT”S MINE! Therefore it could be worse than your nose tells you.

Go through your home with your bottle of Anti Icky Poo with the sprayer intact. Approach a variety of surfaces and objects and give a fine baby misting of Anti Icky Poo “here and there.” Do this for a few days. After a few days this should de-stink and allow you to reclaim your home!

Q: They both used the litter boxes until old cat passed, and now young female won’t always let other old male on the porch to use litter boxes.

A: When an older cat dies it’s always best to get new litter boxes. There could be lingering smells. A good example is the awful smell of impending death when an old cat is ready to pass. This can freak out any remaining animals “I could be next!” And this can be the trigger for spraying or not urinating in a litter box.

A point we always like to make about why we don’t like having multiple litter boxes throughout a house, particularly a smaller house. When boxes are scattered throughout a house the smell of ammonia is in every room that a box is in. This tells the cat it’s ok to deposit urine in multiple rooms, and the sight of litter boxes everywhere and the odor cannot be pleasant for you! Cats don’t avoid their litter box because they are too lazy to walk over to where the boxes are.

Q: The flooring of our home is completely tiled and they have urinated on it.

A: You are very lucky to have such wonderful floors! My dad was a tile setter so I grew up with tile floors. Urine can penetrate the grout especially if it’s modern grout as opposed to 1960’s grout which was indestructible. Probably a few days of treating the tile with Anti Icky Poo will eradicate any urine which may have penetrated the tiles or grout.

Q: I was confusing the flower essences for essential oils – sorry! How many drops per gallon of water? We change the water twice a day, but we need to use big water bowl because big dog drinks a lot.

A: Most people have smaller water bowls and we suggest 3 to 5 drops. For your big bowl start with 5 drops for the gallon. You may need a few more drops. In addition to adding drops to the water bowl rub some on her head, ears, back when you have the time.

Keeping cats calm during the holidays

Ah, this time of year can be a flurry of visitors, more activity than usual, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and so much more. Do yourself a favor, keep your cat calm which in turn will make you calmer because you aren’t worrying about your cat’s nerves or possible naughty behavior.

Here are our tips:

Company is coming! How to train your guests and visitors to be cat friendly!

We sure love our guests. It’s fun to plan for them, to feed and water them, and create new experiences and memories. Some cats love having new people around, they can thrive on it. But for other cats it’s a disaster! “Who are these people and why won’t they leave?!” Their noise can be upsetting, their smells can be unfamiliar, they might bring a dog or children and heaven forbid they might sit in the cat’s favorite chair! The last thing we want is a stressed out cat – this can lead to vomiting, not eating, being a bit aggressive, or the worst of the worst: litter box avoidance.

Tips for training house guests which will help keep kitty calm and allow you to be the perfect hostess who enjoys your guests.

  • Visitors should be asked to not approach your cats. Let the cat’s curiosity kick in so that if your cats want to be petted it will be asked for.
  • No rough housing! No vigorous petting unless that’s something your cat likes.
  • Give your visitors a favorite Cat Faeries catnip toy so they can interact with the cat. The cat will view your catnip toting guest as a friend!
  • This may sound nutty, but it works. Make the visitor endearing to your cat via sense of smell. A spray or two of our Cat Faerie Catnip Mist on clothing works wonders! You can also give a spray or two of Comfort Zone with Feliway to clothing or shoes. Really! This works!
  • If your cat likes to hide in a back room, let it be. If the cat wants to join the holiday festivities, it should happen when the cat wants it, and on the cat’s terms.
  • Show children how to play gently with the cat. Children should know to not bother a hiding, sleeping or eating cat. Loud exclamations like “THAT CAT IS SO CUTE!” can frighten a cat who’s not used to hearing loud voices.
  • If you’ve got several Comfort Zone with Feliway Diffusers, place them all in the room that your cat spends the most time in. The beauty of the diffusers is that you can move them around.
  • Don’t change the cat’s feeding times. Even a half hour can worry or upset a cat.

To help make your cat more comfortable during holidays, plug in a Comfort Zone with Feliway Diffuser a day or two in advance. The diffuser will last for four weeks (so you may need more than one to keep your cat comfortable through the festivities), and helps your cat adjust to a changing environment. Stress behavior (vertical scratching, urine spraying, etc.) is usually a result of stress, and using Comfort Zone products with Feliway can help keep your cat happy and your home safe. Feliway is used and recommended by veterinarians nationwide.

Cat Faeries recommends:

Comfort Zone with Feliway – DIFFUSER
Plug it in and forget about it (until 4 weeks later when it’s time to install another refill of the pheromone) Fills a 600 square foot room with the calming scent. You may need two per room which is a good idea especially this time of year.

The Spray
The Comfort Zone with Feliway Spray makes it easy for you to go from room to room and spot treat furniture and other surfaces putting the calming pheromone right on places that the cat likes to sit or rest. It will also deter urinating or spraying urine.

Calm and Serene Flower Essence Formula for Cats
A few drops of this magic liquid in the water bowl or in food works wonders to calm down a cat. You can also rub a few drops on ears and top of the cat’s head.

Moves and Changes Flower Essence Formula for Cats
This formula will be helpful if your visitors will be staying for awhile! Cats don’t like change, even if it’s Aunt Martha who’s occupying the spare room for a few weeks! Even moving furniture around for the holiday can upset an otherwise calm cat.

Calm and Serene and Moves and Changes are on sale!

They’ve been marked down on our website.

Cats eat 15% more food in Winter

We people know that chilly weather makes us hungry for more food. This time of year we begin to crave roasted vegetables and meats, and we hunt for new recipes for stews and soups. Hot food warms our bones and hearts!

Often we don’t realize that our cats respond to weather changes like we do. During Summer while we are eating salad our carnivore friends might leave food behind in the bowl. But in Winter the bowl is licked clean and they meow for more.

How much more? A study that we found told us that in Winter cats will eat about 15% more food than during the rest of the year.

Be a rock star Feline Chef and don’t grab food for your cat from the fridge and serve it cold. Steam it for a minute or two, or warm it up in a pan with a bit of water so it won’t stick.

Warming up or steaming cat food does some nice things for your cats:

  • If the cat has a cold or a respiratory problem warming the food brings out the aroma. Cats only eat what they can smell.
  • Increases digestibility especially for older cats with slower digestive systems
  • Nice for cats who are missing teeth
  • Kittens and cats of any age will be reminded of warm mother’s milk. The food will be much more appealing and soothing to any cat.

Four years and 38 cats later a study by the University of Liverpool School of Veterinary Science revealed some interesting things about cats.

Veterinarian and study author, Dr Alex German, said: “Cats, like many humans are more inclined to comfort eat when it’s cold outside but, in their case, it’s likely to be due to the extra energy they need to keep warm when out and about.”

Seasonal food intake has been examined in the past on farm animals, such as dairy cows, to establish new ways of increasing milk production, but this is the largest study that has yet taken place with domestic cats.
Dr German said: “People should consider the amount of food their cats need at different times of year as this can be part of helping them to maintain a healthy weight.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2014-05-cats-winter.html#jCp

Sale on Urine Cleaning Products Still On!

All Anti Icky Poo cleaning products (Anti Icky Poo, P-Bath, Stain Remover) are still on sale!

But act fast, the sale ends in 3 days at midnight
on Thursday October 2.

 

If you’ve used Anti Icky Poo urine cleaner before, you know it works! If you are new, get ready to be delighted – this is THE ONE that really works. How and why does it work? It literally eats the urine proteins and gases, which means odor is gone baby gone! For your nose and the cat’s nose. You might need P Bath to pre treat if you used anything anti microbial in the past or if the stains is especially old and gross. Generally Anti Icky Poo alone is enough to remove the yellow, but if it wasn’t enough, then get Stain Remover. Reclaim your home! Get rid of that awful kennel smell!

Sale on Urine Cleaning Products!

All Anti Icky Poo cleaning products (Anti Icky Poo, P-Bath, Stain Remover) are on sale! But act fast, the sale ends in 10 days at midnight on Thursday October 2.

If you’ve used Anti Icky Poo urine cleaner before, you know it works! If you are new, get ready to be delighted – this is THE ONE that really works. How and why does it work? It literally eats the urine proteins and gases, which means odor is gone baby gone! For your nose and the cat’s nose. You might need P Bath to pre treat if you used anything anti microbial in the past or if the stains is especially old and gross. Generally Anti Icky Poo alone is enough to remove the yellow, but if it wasn’t enough, then get Stain Remover. Reclaim your home! Get rid of that awful kennel smell!