Do cats feel love? Do we get a hormonal boost from loving cats?

When someone I was buying greens from at the farmers market wished me Happy Mother’s Day, she put a caveat on it and said “That is IF you are a mother.” Not one to let poor manners slide I very kindly told her “I’m a mother to 4 cats, 4 bunnies, a business, and I’m motherly to countless people including my husband, and my customers.” While her reaction was not positive, she gave me the stink eye, I’m hoping that if she thought about it later in the day and that she might have changed her closed minded thinking.

After that encounter a fascinating National Geographic article crossed my path about the feel good hormone, Oxytocin, which increases significantly when someone gives birth and takes the newborn into her arms and gazes at her child. The article goes on to tell us that a grandmother will get a similar Oxytocin increase when she sees her grandchild for the first time. And just as exciting, men are absolutely capable of this hormone being released, it takes them a bit longer but it’s a comparable rise as well. Also fascinating is that transgender people in various stages of their transition will get the same increase of Oxytocin with their babies. These numbers were gathered when tests were done before and after contact with the baby was made.

This had me wondering – does the Oxytocin hormone increase in us when we hold or look into the eyes of our cats or other animals? I consulted with good old Dr. Google and found articles about what happens to us when we gaze into the eyes of an animal, any animal, and yes, Oxytocin kicks in when we gaze into the eyes of a cat just as it does for a woman who’s given birth! I know you are thinking “Of course, I could have told you that!” but now we know that it’s not just us crazy cat ladies and crazy cat gents who think so, science confirms it – it’s for real! Our cats give us the Oxytocin feel good hormone, and anything that feels good is healthy and live extending, and we are all about that!

Curious to learn more I went to Professor Google to ask if animals release Oxytocin. I found more articles telling me that yes, they do. The Atlantic says: “That animals of different species induce oxytocin release in each other suggests that they, like us, may be capable of love. It is quite possible that Fido and Boots may feel the same way about you as you do about them. You can even call it love.” You can read the entire article, written by a scientist who is also a cat person! https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/04/does-your-dog-or-cat-actually-love-you/360784/

Here’s the National Geographic article that inspired this newsletter: http://www.nationalgeographic.com.au/science/is-maternal-instinct-only-for-mums-heres-the-science.aspx

Read more about Oxytocin here: http://www.yourhormones.info/hormones/oxytocin/ and here: http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb08/oxytocin.aspx

If you like videos here’s one about Oxytocin that has equal amounts of science and sarcastic humor, and it’s done in a very 1960’s television news style! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acka4SopuAY

One of our favorite customers, The Gettysburg Cat Mom, had this to say:

“I can certainly relate to the feelings we experience when we gaze into our cats’ eyes! Especially my lovely long-haired, blue-eyed beauty. She is superb at looking directly into my eyes without blinking and it is indeed totally relaxing and rejuvenating, the same feeling I get after a really good Qigong session. No words or sounds are necessary, because we’re communicating on a totally different level. Our animals are so much more in touch with the energy in our world that surrounds us. We humans can learn so much from them!”

 
 
 
 

Two cats who healed deeply from our flower essences, crystals and cat beds!

We have an inspiring tale of deep healing to tell you about. Two cats, Fiona and Sunnybelle, like all cats, sensed that Mary their human Cat-Mother was in severe pain, but these two empathic cats reacted in a more extreme way than many cats. Mary was in horrific spinal pain that required surgery which left her in worse condition than before. Her beloved cats reacted: Fiona nearly wasted away and could have died from grief and worry while Sunnybelle was so distraught that she licked and bit off her fur. Using Cat Faeries flower essences, carved Amethyst crystal cats, and a few of our soft comfy beds both cats bounced back! And with great relief we can report that Cat-Mom Mary is also doing better. This is their story.



 
 
Fiona

 
 


 
 
Sunnybelle

 
 


 
 
Sunnybelle kissing the crystal!

 
 

I have the most fascinating story to tell you about the cat beds, the Amethyst carved cats and your flower essences.

Fiona was at death’s door at the end of last Summer. I had been in the hospital for spinal surgeries twice in the previous year, and this stressed her out extremely. Then, I had to go for a spinal cord rehab for a month afterwards. Like so many cats, Fiona is an empath and can feel my pain. She weighed 13 pounds in August 2016 which is an ideal weight. When I had my second spinal cord surgery in October 2017 her weight went down to 11 pounds.

Unfortunately, one of the screws that they placed in my low back broke and fractured my tail-bone, so I came back home in worse condition than when I went in. I would scream or cry when I sat down on a raised toilet seat. Fiona never left my side. She would lay on the pillow next to me purring with her whole heart, but I could hear her heartbeat rapidly and irregularly and pounding, from worry about me.

A friend took her to the vet because I couldn’t drive. We learned that her weight had dropped down to 10 pounds in one month! That is extremely serious. Remember that Karen Carpenter died of a heart attack from anorexia, and I don’t know the equivalent of losing that amount of body weight percentage wise for a cat, but I knew that Fiona was in deep trouble.

I stayed up with her 24/7 because she could only eat small amounts of food every 2 to 4 hours just like a sick baby. When I stroked her, I could feel her bones. I gave her baby food for the added protein and fat which she needed.

I had purchased a few Cat Faeries carved Amethyst crystal cats for my cats and my daughters cats (who I call my grandchildren!) and I placed one of the Amethyst cats in Fiona’s Cat Faeries bed. Both Sunnybelle and Fiona absolutely love those beds and I have adorable photos of them sleeping side-by-side by their Christmas tree in their new beds. Both cats were very stressed over my illness and they are my nurses who normally sleep with me, but they honestly needed some respite, so I put them in their Cat Faeries beds. When I placed one of the Amethyst cats in Fiona’s new green bed she immediately went over to it and kissed it!

During the same time that Fiona was wasting away Sunnybelle licked all the fur off both sides she gave herself a mohawk haircut. Again, I took her to the vet, changed her diet, changed the type of cat litter we used. She got prednisone pills and prednisone shots, but nothing worked. I started to give her your flower essences on top of the crystals. I was using two Cat Faeries formulas for cats: Emotional Sunshine, Calm and Serene, and several of the single essences including: Buttercup, Blue Eyed Grass, Buddha’s Hands, Catnip, Dracula Orchid, and Borage.

Fiona finally turned the corner a few days after Christmas and her weight went back up to 11 pounds. She is now at 12 pounds and thriving. Sunnybelle has her beautiful calico fur back thanks to Cat Faeries.

God bless you guys your stuff is the best
Mary, Fiona and Sunnybelle

 
 
 
 

Caticons, a gorgeous book that celebrates “4,000 years of Art Imitating Cats”

Sometime in 1996 I discovered a new renegade lipstick company called Urban Decay whose motto was: “Does pink make you puke?” I immediately snapped up tubes in colors called Bruise, Smog, Roach, Plague, and Asphyxia and wore them boldly to cat shows and on the streets of San Francisco while wondering who might be behind this maverick company.

When the San Francisco Chronicle had an article about Sandy Lerner I learned that she was the person who created Urban Decay after she’d co-founded, then sold, Cisco. The article had a photo of Sandy, a top a regal horse, dressed in armor! Turns out that this woman jousts. Totally impressed by this inspiring woman with her horses, cool outfits, brains, and joyful eccentricity I can honestly say she’s been a muse of mine since founding Cat Faeries in 1993. Fast forward to 2017 and we learn that she’s a serious cat-woman with a collection of astonishing museum-quality collection of art pieces from centuries back to modern which depict cats, and a new book to showcase them in. She’s also a major philanthropist who donates heavily to cat welfare and rescue.

There are absolutely no mundane or common objects photographed in Caticons. Every single object photographed is a new experience to the senses. Look at this book time and time again to find overlooked details or grasp something new in Sandy’s writings about a particular piece or era. Caticons a beautiful text book of sorts on the history of cats in art, literature and poetry, music, and culture that does not exist elsewhere. Caticons should be required reading for any student of art and history, and school children everywhere. Sit a child down at a table with this book and watch their eyes and hearts open to the wonders of cats and art – what a great way to study history.

A massive amount of work went into creating this book. It was very intensive and therefore very expensive to produce. It was a true labor of love. The miniscule amount of profit from sales of Caticons are personally guaranteed by Sandy to go directly to her ongoing donations to cat and animal welfare.

Sandy still jousts and raises those beautiful shire horses she rides when jousting. She practices this intriguing sport at her ranch in Upperville, Virginia. Urban Decay and Cisco are memories now as her thoughts and work are 100% devoted to organic, stewardship and regenerative based farming, and to cats. Her philanthropy ranges far and wide. Her heart is generous and kind. Sandy Lerner has many irons in the fire, always creating new and exciting projects, often involving the betterment of cats, other animals like horses, environment, and promoting land stewardship, regenerative farming, and preserving our food supply.

If you are stumped about what to give to a dear cat loving friend, or what to reward yourself for being a good cat-parent this year we’ve found the ideal gift, “Caticons, 4,000 Years of Art Imitating Cats”. A few of Cat Faeries catnip toys or an Amethyst cat shaped crystal will make the season even merrier!

A few of Cat Faeries’ favorite pages:

  • Page 14 is her first mention of her fixation on all things blue, including blue porcelain cats.
  • Page 17, Sandy tells us what the word Caticons means and how it originated
  • Page 171 has a cat chess set
  • Page 200 has a yummy double scent bottle with a cat’s head on each end from 1880
  • Page 203 shows “Purple Princess Flats” divine ladies’ footwear from Spain, a stunning cat on each foot
  • Page 212 and 213 show portraits two regal ladies each with her cat
  • Page 216 begins a few pages of cat themed sewing implements
  • Page 240 for an ink, pastel and watercolor on paper called A Study of Kittens by Henriette Rozner-Knip circa 1896
  • Page 251 has a porcelain Meiseen from 1730 or so of a cat carrying her kitten
  • Page 296 is the last page before the Endnotes with a painting of Sandy and her cat Ratty (on roller skates!) painted by Carolina Gronholm in 2016.
  • Lastly, Page 288 has a Georgian era brooch of a cat. Such jewelry from the Georgian and Victorian eras with cats are extremely rare – dogs are more common. Should you ever stumble upon one like it notify Auntie Cat Faerie immediately!

 
 
 
 

How Hemingway’s six-toed cats in Key West survived Irma unscathed

When Hurricane Irma did a direct hit on the Florida keys last weekend, it could have been very dangerous for the colony of 54 cats that live at the Hemingway House and Museum in Key West. Many of the cats have six toes and are reportedly descendants of Snowball, a six-toed white cat given to Hemingway by a ship’s captain in the 1930’s.

But as you know, cats are very smart. The Hemingway cats knew when it was time to take shelter in the museum, along with 10 people. All the cats and people made it through Irma unhurt.

You can find out more and see more pictures in the article at the Washington Post website – Hemingway’s six-toed cats survive Irma, still have nine lives

 

 

 
 
 
 

A Reader’s Experience Working At A No-Kill Cat Shelter

Trisha has written for us before. She’s charming young lady who’s always got something to say. This time it’s about her experience as a volunteer at a no-kill cat shelter with some tips on how a volunteer can ease the load for employees so they can get more done.

As a former volunteer I’ll add a bit about how being a cat shelter volunteer has hidden perks for people. During my orientation at the San Francisco SPCA they said that many volunteers reported that their time there was better than therapy. I took that to mean: “Walk in depressed, walk out happy and at peace.” One high school aged girl who was trapped at her abusive parent’s house until she turned 18 said she could tell the cats all of her problems which became less of a burden because the cats listened. Others said that it gave them a mental health break from their own mind’s chatter. And dog walkers reported significant weight loss.


My Experience Working At A No-Kill Cat Shelter

By Trisha Miller

For the last 8 months I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering weekly at a no-kill cat shelter near me, called Simply Cats. Due to time constraints I’ve had to stop volunteering for the time being, but I enjoyed every second of it. If you have a few hours of your day to dedicate to a shelter in your area, I highly suggest that you do so. Even if on a small scale, I knew that I was making a difference in these cats’ lives. I was helping to provide them with a safe, clean home and did my best to provide them comfort. What’s more, I helped to relieve some of the full-time staff so they were able to attend to critical matters that demanded their attention. If you’re wondering if volunteering is right for you, I’d like to share my experience with you and hopefully help you form your own conclusion.

Why Volunteer?

I started volunteering at my local shelter simply because I’m a cat lover and I had a free day each week with nothing to do. Why not help out some cats and make the lives of the shelter employees a little bit easier. In addition, one of my two cats is a rescue cat, and sadly was not living at a no kill shelter. If I wouldn’t have chosen to take him home I’m afraid the worst possible imaginable scenario might have taken place. That being said, I have a soft spot in my heart for rescued animals.

If your local shelter is anything like mine, then you’ll agree that shelter employees have very little time to do so many tasks, and can really use the help. Running the shelter, greeting guests, accepting cats, and trying to organize events is more than enough to make an employee feel overwhelmed, I’m sure.

On top of all of that, my local shelter has about 20 individual rooms that house cats in each. These rooms need to be attended to twice per day. When you have, on average, two or more cats in each room, the room gets messy in a hurry. They need someone to clean up the mess and to just be with the cats and comfort them during their stay.

My Job Duties

My assignment at my particular no kill shelter was to clean the rooms of the cats. As I mentioned before, this needed to be done twice per day. So, I stepped in for an earlier shift on my off day, which only took up about 2 hours of my day. I would scoop litter, clean all surfaces, sweep and mop, and make sure the cats had fresh water. After I was done making sure their living area was sparkling clean, I was able to just enjoy my time with the kitties, play with them, and pet them (the best part!).

As volunteers we also had the opportunity to spread awareness about the shelter via social media and throughout the community. My shelter has regular events that we were encouraged to attend in order to help raise funds to keep the shelter open and get the cats all the necessities for maintaining a fulfilled and happy life while they are at the shelter.

What You Need to Know

A friend of mine recommended that I volunteer at the shelter because she is currently a volunteer as well. We discussed the possibility back and forth and among my many other delights, I was especially happy to volunteer for a no-kill shelter. However, even if you choose to volunteer at a no-kill shelter, you should prepare yourself for some things you might see or learn during your stay.

Some cats do come from hoarding or abuse situations. My local shelter has a veterinary staff on hand to help any kitties that need medical attention. You may come into contact with cats that have illnesses or impairments due to their neglect or abuse. So, you’ll want to mentally prepare for that before you walk in the door. As heartbreaking as it is to see, all of the cats that I encountered with illnesses or impairments were completely healed, thanks to the dutiful veterinary staff, and were as full of life as any other cat I came across in the shelter.

All in all it was an absolutely wonderful experience that I am sad has come to a temporary close. I plan on volunteering again as soon as my schedule opens up again and I suggest that you do the same if you are able. There is simply no experience like it. It is extremely gratifying, fulfilling, and rewarding!

Have you volunteered at a shelter? I’d love to hear about your experience 🙂
 
 
 
 

All About 3-Legged Cats

One of our favorite customers, Kelleen (Kelly) has a feline-family of 4 “tripod” cats a clever name for cats who have only 3 legs. She was delighted to share their story and photos with our customers and readers. Here’s her story about her tripod cats!

Read more:



 
From Kelly: Elixir

 
 

Tripod cats have a special place in my heart, and a big place in our family. Between myself and my daughter, we now have four three-legged cats – as well as one four-legger!

In our minds and theirs, our tripods are just cats – active, curious, playful, and loving. Missing body parts or no, these resilient little beings are amazing, gorgeous animals, each with their own distinct personality, deserving of love and pleased to give it in return. They don’t have any pain related to their missing limbs, and are not bothered at all by their differences, still approaching everything with a cat’s “can-do” attitude.

Living with tripod cats is not much different from living with their 4-legged counterparts, except they are perhaps a bit noisier as they thump around the house and scrabble to climb things. There are a few factors to consider, though, when deciding to adopt one (or if your cat is injured and loses a limb). For example:

  • Litter boxes need to be larger because they can lose their balance and go outside the box – but at the same time, the sides can’t be too high because they need easier access.
  • It’s important not to overfeed tripods, as too much body weight will make it much more difficult for them to remain active and navigate their surroundings on 3 legs.
  • It is more difficult for three-leggers to run or climb to get away from predators, so it’s best for them to be indoor-only cats. I built a fully enclosed catio outside my back door so my four can spend time in the sun being cats – chasing snakes and voles, watching birds, climbing tree limbs, and relaxing in the grass – while they remain safe from our resident eagles, raccoons and neighborhood dogs.
  • Some toys are better – for example, all three of mine, who are each missing a rear leg, love the Kitty Kicker-style toys that they grab with their front legs and kick at with that extra-strong back leg of theirs. They love ground-level scurrying toys they can “catch and kill” also. Toys that dangle in the air are not so enjoyable because with only one rear leg tripods can’t stand up and swat or jump up to bat them out of the air.

Not all tripod cats are the same, of course, or have the same needs. Cats missing a front leg are sometimes more likely to hide or to use their teeth – just as cats who have been declawed may – because they feel they can’t protect themselves or communicate their displeasure with their claws. Cats missing rear legs have a harder time climbing, balancing on narrow walkways, and “landing” gracefully when they jump. There are also differences between those who lost limbs as adults and those who grew up already missing a limb. Our three who lost limbs as adults sometimes still try to jump/climb on things that they can’t handle because they seem to forget that the leg is missing!

The wonderful characters of our quartet of tripods and the enjoyment they have brought into our lives make it well worth the bit of extra thought and work involved in creating a fun, healthy, safe environment for them. They may be missing some parts, but they make our family whole!


Here is some background on our tripod family:

Our family’s very first cat was a tripod who lived in a home with too many animals that bullied and terrorized the little 3-legger who couldn’t get away or fend the others off from his food. My daughter, who has always had a soft spot for the underdog (or undercat, as it were), asked the family if she could have him, and brought him home so he would have a loving, quiet home where he would be protected and cherished. Although I had always been a “dog person” (who liked cats but had no particular interest in having one as a pet), I soon fell in love with little Prince Arcane and was on my way to becoming a “cat person” as well!


 
Arcane

 
 

Because Arcane was officially my daughter’s cat, I adopted a lovely little silver tuxedo girl of my own (who still has the use of all four of her legs), but Juju was not a very feline-social cat and wanted little to do with Arcane, who always wanted to play with her. I watched him trying to play, and her rebuffing him and simply removing herself to someplace he couldn’t get to, and I always felt badly for him. When I saw a feisty young male flame-point come in to the shelter who needed to have his back leg amputated (it had been broken in multiple places and the previous owners had tried to set the leg themselves instead of taking him to a veterinarian), I thought how perfect it would be for both of the tripod boys to have someone to play with, so Ozymandias joined our family. The two boys became fast friends and wrestling partners, thumping around the house after each other and taking each other down with WWE-like body slams.


 
Juju

 
 


 
Ozymandias

 
 

Since then, my daughter moved out with a roommate, taking Arcane with her. I knew Ozzie would drive Juju crazy chasing her around wanting to play, and wanted a playmate for him. Since I already had the house catified and the catio designed for the needs of 3-legged cats, it was a given that I might take in another tripod if the right one happened along. Coincidentally, a litter of 4-month-old kittens had been brought in from a local feral colony a couple of months before. The entire litter was ear-tipped and placed into the shelter’s barn cat program, but one was found to have an injured leg that would not heal and had to undergo amputation. Although she was still very skittish, she could not go to a barn home due to her missing leg, so one of our cattery volunteers, knowing my setup at home, suggested I meet her. Though my plan had been to get an adult male cat as a companion for Ozzie, I could not pass on little Alchemy once I met her. She came home with me, and after an extended introduction period she and Ozymandias are the playmates and bosom buddies I had hoped they would be!


 
Alchemy

 
 

My daughter noticed that Arcane seemed at a loss alone at their new home, and her roommate had always wanted a cat of his own, so when just a few months later another laid-back young black male cat had to undergo an amputation of a shattered rear leg, I immediately offered to help the kids adopt him. Elixir is now comfortably ensconced in his new home and gradually becoming friends and playmates with his “brother from another mother.”
 
 


 
Elixir