Moving can be hectic and stressful for both people and pets. When you move your cat, he is uprooted from his territory, a place where he feels safe and secure – where he can rest, has shelter, and is safe from predators. What do you need to consider when unloading the boxes and positioning the furniture?

Setting up a cat-friendly home can help reduce the stress of the move and help your cat quickly establish her new territory.

setting up a cat-friendly home


The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) list five things that make a healthy environment for a cat.

  1. Resources : food, water, litter box, shelter
  2. Safe access to resources
  3. Environment that respects the cat’s sense of smell: territory
  4. Human interaction: predictable
  5. Predatory behavior

Needs of Domestic cats

  1. If we organize these needs in a pyramid diagram, the lowest tier includes those needs essential to survival: food, water, and litter boxes.
  2. The next level ensures that these essential resources are available to each cat to use safely, without fear. We cat owners must provide multiple, separate feeding and watering stations and litter boxes.
  3. Another of the AAFP requirements is that the environment respects the cat’s sense of smell.  Such an environment is the cat’s territory. Cats will mark walls and furniture in the home with scents from glands in their faces and mark scratching posts with scents released when scratching. Your cat belongs to his territory.
  4. The final two tiers deal with how we interact with our cats and…
  5. Offering them an opportunity to exercise their hunting skills.

The first three tiers are ones that are physically affected by moving from one place to another.

  • Where do you locate litter boxes and feeding stations in your new home?
  • Where can you locate safe places for your cat to chill, nap and keep on an eye on the household?
  • How do you help your cat establish a territory and maintain the scent profile of the home?

I have recently moved from my townhome of 13 years into a 2 story, unattached house. Placing cat resources is a work still in progress – here is my “first cut”. Join me and take a look at the placement of my cats’ resources and the pros and cons of my choices. I hope you enjoy The Purrade of My Home!

Want to keep up with the world of cats? Subscribe to The Feline Purrspective!

 

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Cats have 40 x the number of odor sensitive cells in their noses as we humans do. They also have a vomeronasal organ in the roof of their mouths to process odors. Cats communicate by smell.

For a cat, odors can be associated with a particular place or individual animal, identifying that place or animal.

Another way cats communicate by smell is through semiochemicals. Odors can contain semiochemicals, molecules that carry “messages” from one organism to another. The organism receiving the “message” responds with a change in physiology or behavior. 

Semiochemicals that carry “messages” between members of the same species are called pheromones. For cats, pheromones are used to mark territorial boundaries, advertise that a cat is ready to mate, or send greetings. Lactating mother cats also produce a blend of “appeasing” pheromones,  that make kittens feel safe and reassured when their mothers are nearby.

Cats release pheromones from glands in their bodies. These glands can be found in…

  • the lips
  • the cheeks
  • the pads of the feet
  • at the base of the tail
  • the area surrounding the teats in females.
Glands producing pheromones
Locations of the glands that produce pheromones in the cat.

 

Cats communicate by smell


When your cat rubs his cheeks against furniture or that corner wall, he deposits pheromones there. Researchers have separated secretions from the sebaceous glands in your cat’s face into 5 pheromone-containing fractions. The “F3 fraction” is thought to be a friendly greeting, marking the area as safe.

Cat Appeasing Pheromone (CAP) is released when the mother cat nurses her kittens. It is a message to the kittens that they are safe and secure – after all, mom is there!

Cats also release pheromones when they scratch, marking territory with another pheromone, FIS or feline interdigital semiochemical. The cat making the scratch marks also leaves behind his own individual scent, giving the next cat who comes along an idea of who left the pheromone message. As time goes on, the pheromones/scents change. This change in pheromones/scents  notifies the incoming cat when the previous cat was there.

You can buy synthetic versions of feline pheromones

  • Facial marking pheromones: Feliway Classic or Comfort Zone Calming
  • CAP: Feliway Multicat or Comfort Zone Multicat.

Using Pheromones to Communicate with Your Cat


Synthetic versions of the F3 fraction of the facial pheromones and CAP have been made with the intention of calming cats and reducing conflict in multi-cat households. 

Facial Pheromones F3 Fraction


  • Diffuser or spray
  • Diffuser: place in areas you want your cat to identify as safe and secure, for example, sleeping areas.  You may not need to use the diffusers all the time – after all, your cat or cats are most likely marking these areas themselves. However, the diffuser could give an added boost in times of increased stress, such as home renovation.
  • F3 spray can help with  urine marking. Clean the marked spots with enzyme cleaners (eg. Tide), followed by rubbing alcohol. When dry, spray the spot with one of the F3 sprays.
  • The F3 spray is also useful to discourage scratching. Try spraying the area you DON’T want scratched with the F3 spray and place a scratching post nearby.

Cat Appeasing Pheromone


  • Diffuser
  • This product can be useful in multi-cat households when introducing a new cat. Place the diffuser in the common areas where all the cats will congregate.
  • You may not need to use this diffuser all the time but it can give a boost during times of stress, for example, when one cat returns from a veterinary visit.

A product called Feliscratch contained a synthetic version of FIS. Feliscratch was applied to the scratching post to encourage cats to use it.  Although this product was effective, it has recently been pulled off the market due to flagging sales.

No Feliscratch?

  • Make scratchers appealing with treats or catnip
  • If your cat will knead a small fleece blanket, it is possible that this blanket may have FIS deposited on it.
  • Placing the blanket near a new scratching post may attract your cat to the scratcher.

How effective are pheromones in communicating messages to cats?


How receptive an individual cat is to pheromone signals may depend upon her experience.  A free-roaming cat or cat who is a member of a multi-cat household will use the signals more than an indoor cat who lives alone.

You can think of pheromones as those signs in the library asking you to KEEP QUIET or the NO SMOKING signs – there is always someone who is talking or smoking. Compliance is never 100%.

Since cats communicate by smell, synthetic cat pheromones allow us to add some basic messages when we are trying to change a cat’s behavior. Pheromones are best used in conjunction with other behavior modifications.

Like what you see?

The Cat Friendly Home: Guiding Your Cat’s Scratching Behavior

You know that scratching is a normal cat behavior – but does she have to scratch the new sofa you spent hundreds of dollars on? Should you have her declawed?

Sharing Your Home with a Clawed Cat…


Synthetic feline pheromones can be purchased from pet stores.

To guide your cat’s scratching behavior, we have to communicate with him and let him know where to scratch.

Cats communicate in a large part by smell ( A Cat’s world: Smell)  Pheromones  are chemicals that convey messages between members of the same species – they are detected by smell. There are several feline pheromones that have been synthesized and are commercially available.

 

 

We can use facial pheromones and interdigital pheromones to guide your cat’s scratching behavior.

 

 

Getting the message across..


Feliway Classic tells your cat that this is familiar territory and there is no need to mark it – DON’T SCRATCH HERE
Feliscratch gives an olfactory as well as visual message (scratch marks) that says – SCRATCH HERE

 

The Plan…


  • Place a scratching post near the area that is being scratched.
  • Apply Feliscratch to the scratching post
  • Using Feliway Classic (or Comfort Zone Calming) spray, spray the areas where scratching is not desired. You may wish to spray a towel or throw and place this on or near the scratched area.
  • You will need to apply these daily for at least a week. After a week you can apply as needed.

Facial Pheromones

This pheromone is released when your cat rubs his cheeks against things, say the corner wall. He is marking the area as a safe place.

Feliway Classic and ComfortZone Calming come in diffusers and spray.

Appeasing Pheromones

There are synthetic versions of the pheromones released by the nursing mother cat. This pheromone assures the kittens,  blind at first and unable to move fast,  of their mother’s presence.  It helps the litter mates to bond together. This has practical uses – it helps keep the kittens together if Mom needs to go hunt.

Feliway Multicat and ComfortZone Multicat control come in diffusers.

Interdigital Pheromone

This pheromone is released by glands in your cat’s paws when he scratches. It helps mark boundaries and, combined with your cat’s signature scent, lets other cats know “Mr. Fuzzy was here at noon”

Feliscratch comes in a box of pipettes. The liquid in the pipettes is applied to a scratching post to encourage your cat to scratch.

Spray the scratched area with Feliway/ComfortZone

 

Apply Feliscratch to the scratcher you have chosen to be near the scratched place.

 

Marley checks out the “Feliscratched” scratcher.

 

Marley scratches the new scratcher.

 

During the Training period, you may wish to have nail caps (Soft Paws) applied to your cat’s claws. These are soft plastic caps that are glued onto your cat’s nails.

  • Applied every 4-6 weeks
  • Use permanent adhesive
  • But…some cats just don’t like them and chew them off!

Nail Trims for the Comfort and Safety of You and Your Cat…


Gently extend your cats claw.
Trim the end of the claw. Avoid clipping the pink area.
  • Start nail trimming early in life
  • Use positive reinforcement: treats, play, grooming, head rubs
  • Trim every 4-6 weeks
  • When trimming some cats, trim 1-2 nails at a time and do the trim over a week
  • As cats get older, their nails may get thicker and their joints stiffer, so they don’t groom as much. The nails can grow into the paw pad. Nail trims can improve these cats’ quality of life!

 

Declawing – an amputation


 

 

The Details of Declawing

  • Removal of the last bone of the cat’s toe
  • There are “good” and “bad” declaws: “good” declaws disarticulate the last (3rd) joint
  • Risk of lameness and behavior problems due to nerve damage
  • Weight is no longer supported by the junction of the 2nd and 3rd bones – it is supported by the end of the second bone which is painful.

 

 

What’s inside your cat’s toes – claw is sheathed when cat is relaxed. He must extend his claws to use them.
In a declaw surgery, the bone with the nail bed is removed.

 

A Final Word…


 

Guiding your cat’s scratching behavior can be a rewarding experience – after all, YOU are communicating with ANOTHER species!

Offer a variety of scratching stations located in strategic places:
Near doors and windows
Where the people hang out
Near the litter box
Near the sleeping area

The Cat Friendly Home: Scratching Basics


Our soft, cuddly (sometimes) kitties have some sharp ends to them – their claws! When your cat is relaxed, his claws are covered by a sheath of skin. He extends them to grab on to his favorite catnip mouse.

Your cat’s paws are sensitive to touch and pressure – she can feel the vibrations of your footsteps through her feet; she knows by feel just how hard to hold that wiggling mouse.My cat’s sense of touch

Marley holds a toy mouse tightly – his claws are extended.

 

Why does your cat scratch?


What’s inside your cat’s toes – claw is sheathed when cat is relaxed. He must extend his claws to use them.
  • She uses her claws to hold on to prey so it is best that they be sharp – scratching sheds old nails to allow new, sharper ones to grow in.
  • She will scratch defending herself when she feels threatened by another cat, a person,  or animal.
  • Scratching is also a way of communicating with other cats.
  • Scratching is great way to stretch!

YOU MIGHT GET SCRATCHED… when playing with your cat. Remember quick motions trigger his hunting instinct and those claws come out to hold on to the prey – which could be your hand!

  • Use toys to play with your kitty, preferably ones that keep your hands and feet out of the “line of fire”. Fishing pole toys such as Da Bird keep you safe while kitty practices his hunting skills
  • Play “dead” if you get caught in “clawed embrace”. Once he stops trying to scratch you, you can gently move the paws

YOU MIGHT GET SCRATCHED…if your cat does not want to be handled (self-defense)

  • Watch your cat’s body language –What does my cat feel?
  • Allow her to decline interactions if she is not in the mood
  • Use a towel or blanket if she is upset and you HAVE to get her

Scratching Basics: The Feline Message Board


Pheromones

Pheromones are chemicals that convey “messages” between members of the same species. Your cat has glands in his feet that release pheromones.

 

Messaging

Your cat scratches a post and deposits pheromones and his own “signature scent” on it. Another cat comes by later and smells the claw marks. The pheromone smell has faded a bit, so the newcomer knows that “Mr. Fuzzy” was here earlier, say around noon.

 

Pheromones and communication

The Feline Message Board

The free-roaming cat is a solitary hunter. If he is injured, it will be harder to hunt and feed himself. Scratching gives cats a way of signaling each other so that they can avoid meeting and possibly fighting.

 

 

The Message Board is active for indoor cats as well as outdoor cats. Having a number of scratching posts around your home can make your cat feel secure – after all, he can check for intruders! In multi-cat homes, it may help cats “time-share” resources.

The Ideal Scratching Post…


 

  • Narrow upright scratching posts that are 3 feet or taller are popular
  • Cats will scratch flat surfaces as well as vertical or angled ones.
  • Sisal rope, carpet and cardboard are popular materials for scratchers 
  • Logs with the bark still on may  appeal to your cat.
  • Preferences can change – some studies showed that older cats choose carpet over sisal rope while younger cats like the sisal rope better.
  • OFFER A VARIETY OF SCRATCHERS!

Where to Put Those Scratching Posts!


 

  • near doors and windows (territory marking)
  • near the sleeping areas (stretching)
  • near the litter box (stretching, marking)
  • near the living area where the humans hangout (stretching, marking)
Scratching post by a patio window.

 

Athena checks for other scent marks as she adds her own. This post is part of a larger cat tree.

 

Scratching post near the litter box.

Declawed cats need scratching posts too. They still have glands in their paws that produce pheromones.  They appreciate a good stretch and the opportunity  to leave scent messages.

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