Your cat’s sensitive whiskers and “whisker stress”

A food bowl that’s too small for a cat’s face to fit in could be breaking off whiskers or causing facial discomfort. Before you dismiss this as nutty consider the millions of women who sleep on silk pillowcases which they feel protects their hair from breakage which cotton or flannel pillowcases could cause.

The authors of this story point out that if we notice our cats scooping their food from the bowl on to the floor to eat it’s because the bowl is too small to comfortably accommodate whiskers. The sensation of feline whiskers against a small bowl could be very unpleasant and lead to stress, and maybe even fighting among cats. Isn’t this interesting!

http://consciouscompanion2012.com/2013/01/10/whisker-stress/

Yes, Madame Cat Faerie has a silk pillowcase! If we’ve tickled your curiosity about them here’s where she bought hers:

https://www.energeticnutrition.com/silk-lady/organic-silk-pillowcase.html

Scientists Prove Sitting in Boxes Calms Cats

Cats and boxes. Has your cat ever met a box it didn’t like (other than a teeny tiny box that a fabulous piece of jewelry came in)? Cats love boxes. Even boxes that appear to be too small for them, somehow your cat will squeeze into it and be blissful.

We found an article on Wired.com about fascinating scientists who have researched why cats love boxes so much, and from one in particular you’ll learn why boxes are a good thing. Claudia Vinke, a Dutch Ethologist* worked with cats in a Dutch shelter. She provided boxes for a newly arrived group of cats while not giving boxes to another group. She found a significant difference in stress levels between cats that had the boxes and those that didn’t. The cats with boxes got used to their new surroundings faster, were far less stressed early on, and were more interested in interacting with humans.

The article on Wired.com has more fascinating scientifically proven reasons for why cats love boxes – and actually need boxes. This has us thinking about our recent article about cats, stress, over grooming and the benefits of wearing a jacket or sweater for purposes of calming. We at Cat Faeries wonder: would cats who are self-barbering or over grooming not just benefit from a sweater, but also from having several boxes in the home to hang out in? It’s certainly an experiment that’s virtually free of cost, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and your cat could love it and be happier. What do you think?

Here’s the article about cats and boxes at Wired: http://www.wired.com/2015/02/whats-up-with-cats-and-boxes/

Here’s a link to our our story about cats and sweaters written by Cat Faeries’ friend, Newton, a cat who knows everything – http://www.catfaeries.com/blog/newtons-purr-spective-when-grooming-gets-out-of-control/

* Ethology is the scientific and objective study of animal behavior, usually with a focus on behavior under natural conditions. Behaviorism is a term that also describes the scientific and objective study of animal behavior, but it usually refers to the study of trained behavioral responses in a laboratory context.

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.

Do cats get depressed? They do – how you can help.


(Bizarro is one of our favorite comic strips!)

 
 

The recent suicide of comic genius Robin Williams has gotten a lot people talking about depression and keeping a closer eye on friends and relations who suffer from depression. But what about our cats, do they sometimes get depressed?

Well, they do. Generally feline depression can be overcome fairly quickly. So many things can trigger it. A death in the family (and that can be family with two feet and no tail, or four feet and a tail) is a big one. Cats can mourn anywhere from a few hours or days, to weeks into months. Any big changes to the home can be a trigger. If your cat feels neglected depression can set in.

Many years ago when we brought Torti home, our other tortoiseshell cat Tasha, let out a cry that was more like a wail a heartbreaking sound that we’d never heard before or ever heard again. It was as if she thought she was being replaced with another cat that looked like her, but was younger. It took loving work, but Tasha snapped out of it a week later and the two girls became inseparable until they both crossed The Rainbow Bridge.

Here are some of the warning signs that Kitty is depressed:

  • Not eating at all or eating much less than usual is number one.
  • Not grooming is probably the second sign that something is wrong (either depression or illness)
  • Hiding. Not engaging with you or the other cats.
  • Your cat could start to sleep noticeably more.
  • Your cat could become very quiet, not meowing, or purring.
  • On the flip side of that your cat could start to yowl which is comparable to us sobbing.
  • Walking with tail and head down, whiskers seem to droop,
  • They may become aggressive towards you or others in the home. They might hiss or bite, or swat.
  • They might stop using the litter box for either pooping or peeing, perhaps even both.
  • The cat may use the litter box but might not bury their droppings.
  • Loss of interest in toys, and affection from you.

Here is how Cat Faeries can help you to help your depressed cat.

A Ball of Twine, a calming music CD created just for cats to be played while you are not at home. The composer has studied the effects of sound on the brain, heart, and cells of the body so this music is truly medicinal.

Comfort Zone with Feliway – Diffusers can be installed in the room or rooms that this cat spends the most time in. That pheromone was intended to stop cats from peeing outside of the box but when it was created in the late 1990’s it was discovered that it calms cats and snaps them out of funks.

Catnip Mist can be sprayed on your cat’s bedding or favorite resting or hiding places. Most cats find the aroma of catnip hard to resist!

Our flower essence formulas. So many good ones to choose from: Moves and Changes, Calm and Serene, Multi Cat Household, Past Abuse, Forget Me Not (for mourning). One formula can go into the food and/or water bowl while another one is lovingly massaged on the cat’s head and ears.

Comb your cat – green uses for cat hair!

cat-and-fur

Spring is here and our furry 4 footed friends are shedding their fur, or in the case of Winston our bunny – it’s an outright molting!

When you brush of comb your cat (or dog or rabbit) don’t throw away the fur. Use it in creative green ways:

  • Bird nests: Grab a basket you don’t use and put the fur inside along with twigs, strips of bark, pine needles, and wood shavings. The birds will grab the bits and pieces which they want to build a nest. Cat fur will add some warmth to the nest
  • Compost: The nitrogen in fur and hair is wonderful for your compost bin. But since it takes a while for fur or hair to break down cut it into 1/8 inch bits, you could also toss it around your garden or let it the breeze take it to add nitrogen to your soil.
  • Pesky Critter Repellent: Putting wads of combed out cat fur around the garden near special plants can deter snails and slugs. Wads of cat fur put down a gopher hole could scare off the critter. It can also keep squirrels, hares, chipmunks, and deer away.

For these projects to do effective and safe, don’t use cat or other animal fur that was treated for fleas as the chemicals could kill or harm birds, and you would be adding poison to your compost.

Clipping your cat’s nails

Its easy! With a bit of practice after a lesson with your vet or a tech at your vet’s office you’ll be a pro!

Number one reason to trim nails – so that they don’t grow uncontrolled and curve under and into the cat’s foot. OUCH!

Feliway spray can “somewhat’ deter a cat from scratching at your furniture. But its not perfect and you need to apply it daily.

But if you trim your cat’s nails every 10 or 12 days they will be short, and if your cat does scratch at a sofa not much damage, if any, will occur.

You can find nice clippers in shops or you can use a good quality human toe nail clipper.

We suggest you sit someplace comfortable for you with good lighting – that could be the bathroom, on the toilet seat which you put down. Clip as many nails in one sitting as the cat will allow.

Some cats are comfortable if you softly drape a towel over their head. Other cats are comfortable if you wrap them like a “burrito.” And yet other cats are comfortable being held free on your lap, sort of like a baby, on their back.

A cat is never too old to learn to get used to twice a month nail trims. Gentle handling, showering the cat with praise will really help. And of course treat yourself to something special in honor of a job well done after!