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.


How to De-Skunk a Cat (or You) with Anti Icky Poo

Recently a customer wrote to ask if Anti Icky Poo would remove skunk musk from her cat’s fur. The cat probably wasn’t actually sprayed by the skunk, instead kitty probably rubbed up against a plant or bush that the skunk sprayed during a mating ritual to mark territory (sound familiar?) or to appear sexy. We at Cat Faeries adore skunks, in particular we love Skunkie who lives below ground in our front garden! And as you might expect every night we leave food and water for our gorgeous fluffy friend – did you know they are fond of cat food? Skunks are not particularly fussy eaters (cats, take note and learn from this!) however our dear Skunkie does not like rice but enjoys everything else we set out. We often see Skunkie and an outside cat sitting near each other in complete harmony. More on that below.

Since we are FOS (friends of skunks) we wanted to give our customer and you the best answer and solutions to this smelly problem.

But before we tell you how to de-skunk cat fur, dog fur, or you and you clothes let us tell you a few things about skunks. They are shy and very passive, and like cats, they are curious. They don’t seek to spray anyone and only do so when provoked or frightened – this is truly a last resort and if they fear they might be killed. They are solitary animals who would prefer peacefully keeping your garden free of small rodents, and harmful insects, worms and grub worms which might be in your soil eating away your greens and vegetables. Skunks are a healthy garden’s friend who come out to visit and hunt at dawn and dusk. If you are lucky you might see a mama skunk with babies in Spring. After the baby skunks are grown they leave their mother to strike out on their own, again, as solitary animals. Baby skunks are called kits… baby cats are called kittens… the similarities continue!

So far it seems that skunks and cats are compatible, or least they can co-exist well. We are told that skunks and outside cats will share a food bowl! We’ve observed Skunkie and a lovely pastel tortoiseshell cat sitting about 7 feet apart in the evening. Here’s a video of a cat and skunk caught on surveillance camera with infra-red.

Skunks are most active at dusk and dawn. Is it coincidence that your cat wants to eat at dusk and dawn too and run around like a crazy person?

How do you know if you are about to be “skunked?” Simultaneously the skunk’s back will be towards you and his head turned looking over his shoulder so he can see you (for good aim!) You might see red anal scent glands depending upon how light it is. With excellent aim and propulsion of up to 10 feet – BAM! – you’ve been skunked!

Here is how to de-skunk using Anti Icky Poo:

1) DO NOT PRE RINSE THE CAT! This spreads the oily skunk spray. Tomato juice will not work… you’ll have a cat that smells of tomatoes and skunk spray

2) Soak a large rag with Anti Icky Poo so that it’s very wet. Wipe down the cat (or dog) and allow to dry. Of you could take the cat’s brush which you’ve soaked in Anti Icky Poo then brush it through the fur. With either method you’ll re-apply in 2 hours. This should take care of it, if not, apply a third time. Rinse with another water soaked rag or a fresh brush to finish the treatment. Discard the rags and brushes. Please only use the unscented version as the fragrance can be irritating to skin, lungs, and eyes.

3) If it’s you who got skunked, soak your clothes in the washing machine with ½ cup of Anti Icky Poo and cold or warm water for a few hours or overnight. After you soak and rinse, wash the clothes with clothe soap and ¼ cup more of Anti Icky Poo. You could even wash your hair with Anti Icky Poo if you wish.

Here you can see a mama skunk and her adorable progeny approaching a man who stopped his bicycle to watch and video them. He’s perfectly respectful and quiet therefore there is no spraying of skunk musk proving that skunks would rather not spray. Also, aren’t their squeaks beyond cute?


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?


How I Coped With My Cat’s Death

How I Coped With My Cat’s Death

By Trisha Miller

About 10 years ago my cat Loki passed away. Sadly, he ingested some antifreeze and was poisoned. We are still unsure as to how exactly he got into the product, but there was nothing that could be done.

I raised Loki from kittenhood two years prior to the incident. He was a very kind, but independent, cat. He loved to play and hunt outside most days, but would snuggle up to me at a moment’s notice.

One night I noticed that Loki was howling in a strange manner. It sounded like he was calling for me, but not out of pain, more out of confusion or panic. When I found him he was walking jaggedly down the hall, almost as if he was drunk. I comforted him and tried to give him some food and water, which he refused to take.

I stayed up all night doing research online trying to determine exactly what was happening to him. After hours of searching the web I was fairly certain that his symptoms resembled antifreeze poisoning.

The next day I took him to the vet and was devastated by the news I received. The vet explained that there were tests that she could perform, but it was too late at this point. His body was already flooded with the poison and he would either flush it out in a few days or unfortunately he would pass away. She said that even with testing they might not be able to truly ascertain for certain what he had gotten into, which makes any kind of treatment very risky. In the end, she gave Loki a painkiller in hopes that he could remain calm and comfortable in order to hopefully rid himself of the toxin.

A full week later Loki passed away. His body deteriorated due to his inability to eat or drink and tragically he lost his battle with the poison.

I now know that I did the best that I could to comfort him and ease his pain before the eventually passed. However, my recovery and ultimate decision to adopt again took time. The guilt that I felt for years stuck with me and kept me from loving any other animal.

Grieving the loss of a cat or dog is a very difficult thing for any animal lover to go through. Feelings of guilt, loneliness, and desperation are common for anyone experiencing loss.

Your Feelings Are Valid

Just because your feelings of grief are associated with a cat or dog instead of a human, doesn’t mean they are any less real. Many of us see our animals as tiny humans, brothers, sisters, and babies that help us live life to the fullest each day. The bond a furry friend and owner share is truly indescribable and unbreakable.

Don’t ever let yourself feel ashamed for feeling legitimate sadness and loss over your loved one. Whether you’ve had your animal for a short period of time or years, it makes no difference. Animals are there for us in ways that humans just cannot fulfill. It’s okay to feel a little emptiness after they’re gone.

It’s Not Your Fault

It’s very easy to be hard on ourselves when a beloved animal develops an illness or sustains an injury. Unfortunately, these types of scenarios are quite common in most animals. Almost every breed of dog and cat has their own set of genetic characteristics, some of which come with potentially fatal attributes. Often times, there is nothing that you as the owner can do to stop this type of situation from happening.

In addition, animals are inherently curious, sometimes to a lethal fault. As was the case with Loki, there was nothing that could be done. Not to say that you shouldn’t always keep an eye on your animals, but this was a freak accident that no one could have predicted or controlled. These types of things happen and it is absolutely heartbreaking to have to go through. However, no one is to blame for an accident like this. Remember to give yourself some slack. You’re doing the best that you can for yourself and your animal.

Healing Takes Time

It is perfectly normal to feel the loss of your friend for some time. Personally, it took me about 3 years to feel at peace with Loki’s death. Don’t feel the need to rush yourself into accepting the loss until you are ready. It’s okay to go through every step of the grieving process during your time of healing.

What’s more, recovering from an animal’s passing does not also equate to forgetting them altogether. Memorialize your cat or dog in whatever way feels good to you. Some owners choose to keep photos, others may create a small memorial, and some do none of the above. Everyone mourns in a separate way.

Thinking About Future Adoptions

When/if you do feel ready to bring another animal into your life, there are some areas to consider. I strongly suggest doing as much research as possible on the breed and gender you are considering in conjunction with your living situation. For example, some breeds work better in apartments with a large family and others only do well in homes with very little distraction. Finding an animal that fits your lifestyle is essential to ensuring that they will live a happy and healthy life to its fullest.

I would also strongly recommend animal adoption over purchasing a newborn. There are so many lovely cats and dogs out there that still need a forever home. Of course, you should still do research on eat individual animal to assure a blissful transition, but adult and young animals are guaranteed to give you just as much love as a newborn for the rest of their lives.

Trisha Miller

Trisha is a writer from Boise, Idaho. She is a dedicated vegan who promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle. You can find her on twitter @thatdangvegan or read her blog:


Celebrating 20 years of Kidney Kitty, a flower essence formula for cats to support kidneys

One day, shortly before Halloween in 1996 a customer called, in tears, devastated because the veterinarian had just given her cat a few months to live from renal failure. She pleaded with us to try to create something with flower essences to help. At that time we were only formulating flower essences for emotional assistance, not health care. But we took her request very seriously and researched the Kidney Meridian according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. We poured over our collection of flower essences to see which ones would be ideal for a formula.

We sent a bottle of our first attempt to this customer to try. She received it early November 1996. Thanksgiving came and went, Christmas came and went, and we did not hear from her. Assuming it had failed we put the formula away. Shortly after New Year’s she called apologizing for not getting back in touch. We could hear excitement in her every word! Not only had the cat survived but she had grown strong again, her fur was coming back, her appetite was back, and the big shocker – this cat had taken over as alpha cat bossing around the other 4 cats. The cat lived another two years.

Kidney Kitty flower essence formula supports the kidneys of cats – and at any age. It’s not too soon to start a younger cat on the drops which support these organs which are vulnerable to shrinking and not functioning well as a cat ages! Our own cats have lived very long lives and only succumbed to kidney failure at very advanced ages. We wish the same for your cats!