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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Our secret language of scent

Lucy in a cat pen is marking it, so as to make it smell right.
Lucy marking her cat pen to make it smell like home.
We can leave messages for other cats, and reminders for ourselves, with a secret language - a specialised scent called a pheromone. This is a chemical emitted from glands in own bodies among other places from our cheek and chin.

Ever thought why we cats rub our chin and cheek against something? We are marking it with this pheromone and with our own ordinary body scent (a kind of signature mix). 

If we have rubbed against our human, then that scent of human will also be there. We are making our household territory friendly by making it smell of the family - us, our humans and perhaps another resident cat (if we like him and have rubbed against him too.)

It is like a post-it note to ourselves saying "We live here: this is our home and family." Humans cannot smell this at all: nor can they usually see it.

Occasionally, if we have rubbed in the same place for a long time, our human may notice a sort of dark mark. If they are houseproud, they clean it off. This is very upsetting.

So we have to re-mark it all over again. And again.



Saturday, April 10, 2021

We hear what you cannot

 

Our world is full of tiny high squeaks, squeals and chirps from little rodents, bats and baby birds. We hear the world differently from humans. You humans can't hear these at all.

We can also hear tiny high pitched buzzing and clicking and creaking noises from machinery - from washing machines, dishwashers, smoke detectors, and maybe even radiators. You think these household machines are silent: they are not to us.

So do us a favour. Don't put the litter tray in the utility room where such machines are active. We want some decent quiet and isolation where we urinate or open our bowels. How would you like to have to use the lavatory in the middle of a busy packing factory or a car repair garage? 

You'd hate it. We hate it. So we keep our eliminations to a minimum, which is bad for our kidneys.  Or we just go outside the tray.

Humans, remember this. We can hear what you cannot.

Saturday, April 03, 2021


We see the world quite differently from the way humans do. For a start we are so much smaller. Looking at a hedgerow of long grass and foliage  We look at it straight into it (above).  So much better for spotting small rodents! Humans look down on it from their great height (see below)

We don't see so much colour. That's because we have far fewer colour-perceiving cells, called cones, in our eyes, than humans do. We can just about see the same three primary colours but only dimly.

And everything we see is blurry compared with human sight. These photos don't show that due to human error! Blurriness is partly because the colours are dim but also because we have traded sharp sight during the day for good sight during the night.

We see in the dark much better than humans do because we have far more light-receiving cells, called rods, in our eyes. We also have bigger curved eyes and bigger pupils than humans.  (Please don't go about poking us in the eye to measure it.)


And our eyes glow at night.. because we have a mirror-like tapetum which reflects back the light into the rods, meaning that more light reaches them, though blurry.

That's where we are superior. OK so we can't read The Times but why would we? We can catch mice when they come out in the twilight. Humans can't do that.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Dogs do it. Vicars do it. Should cats do it?

 


Dogs have to wear collars in the UK by law but should cats have to wear them? Dogs don't mind them but dogs are subservient animals. Obviously cats like me don't have to because I am an indoor-only cat. 

What about others? The advantages of a collar are that humans know that you have a human pet. They are less likely to scoop you up and take you into a new home. If our home phone number is on the collar it might help when we are lost (but microchipping is better for that). If the collar is a fluorescent one, it can help car drivers notice us at night and slow down rather than run us over.

But the disadvantages of collars for us cats are many.

If they are too loose, we may get our front paws stuck in them and be unable to walk properly. The collar bites into the flesh of our necks and causes a terrible wound. A loose collar can also get caught up on a branch or wire so that we are trapped and cannot pull free.

Every year cats are taken to the vet for collar injuries. 

Buy one for your human here
If humans think that collars for cats are such a good idea,

why don't they practise what they preach. Wear one themselves. Only a few preachy humans do this - but fair play, at least they are willing to be collared.


Saturday, March 20, 2021

If I eat his, he can eat mine

Post breakfast nap. Toby has eaten her breakfast: she has eaten his.

 Food the other guy has always tastes better. Or so I am told by cats that live together. (I am lucky enough not to have to share my human pet with another cat.)

This gets complicated when cats have a special diet - as many of us now do at vast human expense. Take Tilly and Toby for instance. Tilly is on a special renal diet to delay kidney problems; Toby, who has a delicate stomach, is on a special easily digested diet.

Their bowls are in seperate locations. To begin with. What normally happens is that Toby stops eating his food and wanders off to Tilly's food. She stops eating her food and wanders off to his food.

So Toby eats renal food and Tilly eats a specially digestible diet. 

This is a good way to test human emotional composure before a coffee addict has had the first cup..... try it. Another good human tease.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

"It's just old age."

 

Chester, old with untreated hyperthyroidism

"It's just old age." That's what humans say, when they see us looking scruffy, spending most of the time asleep, losing weight and generally moving more slowly.

No, it isn't "just old age."

Elderly humans get help for old age. They go to doctors and have tests. They get pain killers for arthritis, treatment for thyroid problems, medicine for high blood pressure and even treatment for cancer.

What do we get. "It's just old age."

Not good enough, humans. Wise up on cat diseases. Do as you would be done by. Give us some quality of life by getting proper treatment for our aches and pains.

You can start by reading this book. Caring for an Elderly Cat by Sarah Caney and Vicky Halls.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Humans and feline loyalty.... huh

 
Another human misunderstanding... Apparently they think we should be loyal to them? Loyal. Yes, it's incredible to realise how dumb these humans are.

Some nosey "scientists" set up an experiment, whereby a stranger behaved negatively towards a cat's human and another stranger was helpful to the cat's human. A third person just stood by being neutral.

Then all three offered the cat a piece of food. Naturally the cat took food from all three. Of course. Why not? From this ridiculous experiment the 'scientists' concluded that cats lacked "social evaluation" because they were not disposed to co-operate with humans.

Apparently dogs avoid humans that behave negatively towards their humans. What does that show? That dogs are stupid enough to side with their humans when there is free food going. 

That's called loyalty. I call it downright idiocy.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Fat cat shaming.....


 "Fat cats" is a human insult towards other humans that are paid too much. That phrase has unfortunately been used in connection with my own shape. Inaccurate, because my boxy shape is just the fact that I am a pedigree British type.

Obesity - not just a bit of chubbiness - is a common problem for cats (and humans). Particularly those of us who live indoors and are not allowed out to go hunting and killing. There just isn't much to do except eat.

My friend, Boomer, pictured above was such a cat His human suffered from Alzheimers and couldn't remember if she had fed him or not. So Boomer ate many meals every day. 

He finally had to go on a diet. The vet prescribed a diet food that was weighed out every day and he got nothing extra. What he did get, however, was the fun of "hunting" it. Nothing was put in a bowl: it was scattered over the floor or put in a food dispenser.

He had to get his food from home made dispensers - a tennis ball with a hole cut in it, pizza package with wholes, a cardboard pill container with the food just put inside, a large box which he had to jump inside, the windowsill so he had to jump up to it, a plastic water bottle with holes in it and lavatory rolls with holes.

He frequently asked for more food and his requests were not ignored. Instead, he was offered games with fishing rod toys. 

His before photo is at the top of this blog: his after photo at the bottom. There are more photos at www.catexpert.co.uk under the heading of "Indoor only cats."



Saturday, February 20, 2021

Adopt, don't buy. Older cats have more serenity.

 

Humans in lockdown have been paying silly prices for puppies and kittens. Just for the fun of caring for an exciteable cute companion.

As a qualified human behaviour counsellor, this fills me with despair.

Some, perhaps many, of these furry babies will end up in an animal shelter when their owners get bored or have to go back to work outside the home. 

Meanwhile there are plenty of beautiful adult cats needing homes. How do we get the message across to dumb humans, that these need homes too and have plenty of love to give. If the human goes  back to work, most adult cats can cope very well as long as they have a cat flap. 

The advantages of adoption are obvious. It costs less. If a human adopts an adult cat, it will know more about the cat's individual temperament (you can't tell with a kitten). There is a greater choice. The cat has already been spayed and neutered. She/he has been vet checked and should be free of disease.

Humans should check out the animal rescue before adoption. Charities will be registered with the UK Charity Commission and can be checked online. If the rescue is not among these, don't go to it.

Rescue places that have rabbit hutches, old cages or crates with cats should be reported to the RSPCA. So should any human who is operating from a house with more than 20 cats in it. Report these to the RSPCA so that the cats can be rescued and rehomed via a reputable charity.

 


 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Purrlease.... a big enough litterbox

 


Look how much space is needed for a really good dig before elimination. This is the space we want. This is the space we choose when we have the option of going out of doors on a nicely prepared seed bed in a garden.

Now look at what most people give their cat - a miserably small


litter tray. We often have to stand outside the tray in order to have the room to do a proper dig. Sometimes it is even worse and the small tray has a top to it so that we can barely turn out. 

And turning to look at what we have done, before neatly covering it up, is natural behaviour.

Worse still a recent survey of UK pet owners showed that 64% of the owners who had more than one cat only put down one litter tray. Normal deposits for a litter tray would be between 3-5 dumps (both kinds) so a single tray would be filthy very soon.

Give us one tray per cat. And one extra just in case.

Give us the space we need..... 

And, purlease, clean up twice a day. 


Saturday, February 06, 2021

Dogs.... crawling sycophants everywhere.


 There are dogs everywhere I look. Most of them still puppies or juveniles. Feline friends of mine have had their lives ruined by dogs suddenly appearing in their household.

Am I being unfair to another species?

A dog in the household, under proper control by the cat, can provide valuable services - a warm body to sleep near or even on top, garden security to see off other cat intruders into the house, and a greater choice of beds. 

Even the smallest kitten must make her dominance evident from the start.

But the sudden intrusion, into a hitherto happy home, is nevertheless upsetting. Threesomes are not to every cat's taste.

Disloyal humans, in search of a more sycophantic pet, may enjoy canine companionship. We often don't.

It won't end well for the dogs.


Saturday, January 30, 2021

Human response to vaccination


My human experienced for the first time the hell of vaccination. If she wasn't so dumb, I could have told her that vaccinations occasionally make me feel rather ill.

Not only do I hate going to the vet. Always a stressfulI experience. And sometimes I feel rather ill after a vaccination - depending on which kind I get. 

Well, this time it happened to her. Now she knows what it can be like. I didn't gloat. Well, I did. But only a little. She totally failed to do her secretarial work with this blog.

So that is why there was no blog from me. My paws can do a little on the keyboard but I don't like doing more than a single sentence. 

So there was no blog. Sorry, fellow cats. Not the first time that humans have disappointed us.  

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Litter tray problems are due to humans

 

It's time to be clear. So-called cat problems are nothing of the kind. True, they may be problems for humans: but they are not problems for us.

It's natural and sensible for a sensitive cat to stop using a tiny litter tray, or a litter tray filled with the wrong kind of litter, or a tiny tray which we cannot dig properly. Or a tray with such a mean amount of litter that we scrape our claws against the plastic.

I mean, what do they expect us to do?

Would they like a lavatory full of poop and pee? Or one that they could not flush (the human equivalent of digging)? Or one that didn't flush enough water? Would they like a toilet so small that their bottoms spread over the side? 

Come off it, humans. It's time for you to take responsibility. What do we want? 

Large litter trays, familiar litter, enough of it so we can dig properly, and cleaning. Yes, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. At least twice a day.

Friday, January 08, 2021

Are you suffering from whisker fatigue?

 

It's not generally known but we cats can suffer from whisker fatique. These wonderful strong hairs (so much more mobile and sensitive than the human beard) take important messages to the brain. And if they are over-stimulated they get tired.

Tired of what? Tired of being pushed out of place each time we eat or drink. In the real world this rarely happens. While we are drinking from a stream or a puddle our whiskers are not confined. When we are eating a mouse, we move the whiskers to where we want them to be - backwards if they are getting in the way of crunching up the rodent or forward to monitor its movement if our meal is still wriggling.

Humans don't get this at all. So they purrsist in putting our food in high sided bowls. We have to push our faces down to eat, and our whiskers are twanging and brushing against the side of the bowl. The same thing happens with bowls of water particularly if the water level is low.

Sensitive cats with sensitive whiskers dislike this. Does whisker fatique hurt us? Not normally, but it is unpleasant and sometimes even stressful.

So get your humans to give you shallow food bowls and water bowls large enough for our whiskers not to touch the sides. There is a vet article about this here.

Friday, January 01, 2021

It's a fur fur better thing.....

 

Shedding. It's what I and other cats do. Some of us, living in centrally heated homes, shed a little at a time. Those of us living outside shed in the spring, getting rid of spare hair ready for the hot weather. 


My friend, Toby, however, decided to do a big full-on shed just after Christmas. As you can see he has sort of wispy hair which is described as "semi-long hair." Just before the coldest time in the UK, the first and second week in January, he shed much of his coat - photographed here.

He's trained his human to brush him daily, when he lies down and exposes his tummy for the flea comb. In the course of these four post Christmas days, this is what she combed out. Had she been more conscientious (humans always try to avoid work) she might have combed out even more.

I asked him why? He said that he was trying to regain the natural life of his ancestors, Felis silvestris catus, when they first moved in with humans living in the Middle East.  January, he explained, is quite warm in Baghdad, the so called Fertile Crescent when during the first Neolithic settlements cats domesticated humans.

He added that he wanted to test his human's combing ability, which he admitted was not bad...

Help for cats whose humans show behaviour problems.

This blog is devoted to the study of human behaviour. We cats, who live with this sometimes unpredictable and always feeble minded species, can benefit from seeing their behaviour in its proper scientific context. The study of feline dilemmas, training problems, and difficulties with humans, can only benefit all of us. All of us train our humans - to buy the right food, for instance, but many of us do not have knowledge of how to improve our training methods. The human species is obviously not as intelligent as the cat, but nevertheless can learn quite a lot - if properly managed. Topics of interest include the use of claw and order, purring as a human reward, rubbing your human up the right way, when to bite, spraying as a method of making our wishes known, ignoring the human, human harassment, human inattention and sheer human stupidity. I welcome your questions. Photos can be sent via my secretary's website, www.celiahaddon.com This blog has been chosen as one of the top 50 feline blogs by Online VetTechprogramms.org