Friendly cat greeting a humanCats live in a landscape of odors. Odors tell them about their world and its inhabitants. The signature odor or scent can play an important role when introducing a cat to something new – whether it is a another cat, dog, person or a piece of furniture.

Cats and signature scents


The signature scent is a collection of odors secreted by an individual animal. This signature scent is influenced by the individual’s hormones, diet, immune system and other animals that he hangs out with.  Using her superb sense of smell, a cat can learn a surprising amount of information from the signature scent of another animal.

  • gender
  • health status
  • sexual receptivity
  • fitness
  • are you part of my social group?

The signature scent gives the cat a way of identifying an individual animal. But, like the resume submitted by a job applicant, it is not the whole story. There is more to be learned by a physical encounter. A young cat may pick up the signature odor of an older cat with kidney disease and find this scent a little frightening – he has never met a cat that smelled like that before.  After he spends some time with this older cat, he learns that particular odor of disease is not going to hurt him.

Cats and signature scents: learning about other cats


Introducing cats to cats

Free-roaming cats live in colonies if there is enough food in the neighborhood. Each colony has its own signature scent. Members of the colony identify each other by this scent. This colony scent also marks the core territory of the colony, where the members feel safe, can eat, rest and play.

One of the first things we should do to introduce a cat to another cat is to swap scents. Each cat will pick up some of the other’s scent – it is the start to creating a sense of “colony”.

An easy way to do this is to exchange bedding between the two. Why choose bedding? We hope that the cats are relaxed and calm in their beds and so the scents and pheromones in the bedding should convey a message of calm and relaxation in addition to things mentioned above, such as gender and health status. On the other hand, bedding may not be the best choice if the cat is in pain and discomfort when in the bed. See below for other ways to collect your cat’s scent.

Exchange the scented items between the two cats before they have any visual contact. There may be some hissing and growling at the scented object but hopefully this will go away in a few days. You will need to renew the scented item every other day or so. If your cat ignores the item and just walks on by, then she is not disturbed by this new addition so far. You can proceed on to step 2 of Introducing Cats: “time sharing” the common areas and the newcomer’s room.

Collecting Your Cat’s Scent

In The Trainable Cat, Sara Ellis views scent collection as one of 9 key skills that form a foundation for training cats. She recommends getting your cat accustomed to the process.  The goal is to make scent collection part of a pleasurable experience.  There are several ways to collect your cat’s scent – use whichever way suits your kitty.

  • Use a clean, light-weight cotton glove while stroking the cat in front of the ears and under the chin and cheeks (behind the whiskers).
  • You can also collect hair from the brush you’ve used to groom your cat in these areas.
  • As mentioned above, you can place a small piece of cloth on your cat’s bed for him to lie on.

The more you touch/brush these areas or the longer your cat lies on the cloth, the stronger the scent.

from Bradshaw, John W. S. and Sarah L. H. Ellis. “The Trainable Cat: A Practical Guide to Making Life Happier for You and Your Cat.” (2016).

Cats and signature scents: learning about dogs and humans


Scent swapping should be the first step in introducing cats to dogs and even humans.

  • A piece of the dog’s bedding is a way to start the cat-dog introduction. Follow the same steps used for introducing two cats.
  • Let’s say you have a pet sitter coming to care for your cat while you are away – you may feel awkward asking for a T-shirt prior to the pet sitter coming to your home but your cat may appreciate it!

Cats and signature scents: new items in the house


If you are able to collect your cat’s scent, applying it to a new piece of furniture just might keep your cat from scratching that new armchair ( Make sure to put a scratching post nearby!) Take something with your cat’s scent on it and wipe the new piece of furniture with it. Now, that chair or table smells familiar to your cat and its sudden appearance is not so scary.

Remember – Our homes are our cat’s territory; we are members of our cat’s colony. Our homes have the signature scent that makes our cats feel safe and secure. Please make sure to maintain the “colony scent”!

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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!

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Cats and Catnip


cat and catnip plant
Gus enjoys some local catnip.

Cats and catnip- some cats love it; some cats are indifferent to the herb. What’s the story on catnip?

Catnip is a member of the mint family. Its scientific name is nepeta cataria. Catnip contains a compound called nepetalactone, which induces the “catnip response”:

  1. sniffing
  2. licking and chewing with head shaking
  3. chin and cheek rubbing
  4. rolling over and body rubbing

The catnip response is specific to the Felidae family – other mammals do not respond to nepetalactone. Lions, jaguars, leopards and domestic cats enjoy catnip; most tigers are indifferent to catnip.

About 2/3 of domestic cats show the “catnip response”. Since catnip does not elicit a response from all cats, a genetic element may be involved. Most cats in Australia do not respond to catnip and they come from a relatively closed genetic group.

Kittens show a catnip response  between 3-6 months of age (if they are sensitive). Before then, forget it!

Nepetalactone stimulates the cells lining the nasal cavity and not those of the vomeronasal organ. Smelling the nepetalactone induces the “catnip response”.  Although many cats nibble on catnip, nepetalactone is not effective orally. Cats can be fairly sensitive to catnip and even weak doses of nepetalactone may induce the “catnip response”.

Cats and catnip – why does catnip affect cats?


Catnip produces allomones, chemicals that transmit messages between species. Catnip plants release these allomones (nepetalactone is one of these) into the air to repel insects that may eat the catnip. Nepetalactones can repel insects as well as the synthetic repellent N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide (DEET).  Maybe catnip attracts insect-eating cats… 🙂

Cats and catnip and facial pheromones…


A recent study  that combined nepetalactone extract with feline facial pheromone had an interesting outcome. Cats exposed to the combination did not exhibit the typical catnip response but were more tolerant of human handling and having their blood pressure measured than cats exposed to the pheromone spray alone.

Why does catnip work?  We don’t really know.

  • Does nepetalactone stimulate natural pheromone production?
  • Does it change how pheromones are processed?
  • Does it reinforce the semiochemical message of the pheromones?

For cats not sensitive to nepetalactone


  • Three other plants induce the “catnip response”
  • Silver Vine – a plant from east Asia, has 6 compounds that are similar chemically to nepetalactone.  80% of cats respond to silvervine.
  • Valerian Root – Contains 1 compound with similar chemical structure to nepetalactone.  50% of cats will respond to valerian root.
  • Tartarian Honeysuckle can also elicit a response in cats and is considered safe.   Honeysuckle appeals to about 50% of cats.

Catmint


Catmints are also members of the mint family and belong to the genus nepeta.  They may contain a lower concentration of nepetalactone. While catnip is a leggy weedy plant with whitish flowers, catmints are bushy plants with showy purple or sometimes pink flowers.catmint plant

 

The catmint bush in my backyard does not induce the “kitty crazies” but it is a popular place – the resident and neighboring cats come to rub their heads against the shoots of the plant and sometimes nap in the center.

Cats sensitive to catnip really seem to enjoy it.  The “catnip response” lasts about 10-15 minutes and does not cause any long lasting effects.  If your cat  does not care for catnip, try some silvervine for a “kitty cocktail”!

 

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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?

Aggression Between Cats After a Vet Visit


Zelda, my 5 year old Maine coon cat, went into the vet clinic on a Tuesday to have her teeth cleaned and to finish her lion cut that I started the day before. Zelda did well with anesthesia, teeth cleaning and lion cut. Upon returning home, Zelda stayed in the master bedroom for a few more hours for her anesthesia to wear off.

In the past, there has been some aggression between cats after one of the cats comes back from his or her veterinary visit.  In particular, Gus, my former street cat, has been aggressive towards the other cats when they come home from the hospital.  So, I made sure that the Feliway multi-cat pheromone diffuser was plugged in and bagged up the blanket Gus sleeps on for Zelda to use in her carrier on the way home.

In spite of all my precautions, Gus was agitated and aggressive not only with Zelda, but also with the older cats, Marley and Athena, when I let Zelda out of the bedroom for dinner. Not only did he strike at the other cats when they got too close, he went out of his way to strike at them if they were out of reach.

Cat in his safe place
Gus is in his chair in his safe place, the back office.

The aggression between cats continued into Wednesday and I found myself starting to lose my patience with Gus, who was the instigator. So time for some “tough love” – Gus was asked to go to his safe place. The door was closed and he spent the afternoon in the back office with some treats and his snuffle mat.

His attitude was much better when he was released at dinner time. The next morning, Thursday,  Zelda greeted him with a quick lick that he was not overly enthused about but he accepted.

What is the take-away here?


The smell of the vet clinic is disturbing to Gus – he associates it with unpleasant experiences. I also think he finds it confusing and frightening when his housemates smell like the hospital – he is not sure who they really are and this makes him anxious and afraid. 

The safe place smells familiar and is quiet. It conveys a feeling of calm and safety and this helped Gus change his emotional state. By the time dinner came around, Zelda’s “hospital” smell had faded a bit more and the dinner routine helped reassure Gus. He remained calm and did not go out of his way to swat the other cats.

Going to the safe place is not a like the time-out used with human children. The time-out spot for children is a spot with minimal stimulation and away from other people. The idea is to remove the child from whatever was reinforcing the undesired behavior and have him/her calm down, link his or her behavior to the wrongdoing, and change it. 

Your cat will not link misbehavior with being isolated (human toddlers have trouble with this also). The safe place is not a punishment – it has all your cat’s resources (litter boxes and toys) and allows you to remove him from whatever is stimulating the “bad” behavior, in this case, the aggression between cats. The safe place should convey a feeling of calm to your cat and change his emotional state, from one of possible arousal and fear to one of calm and security. Once your cat feels calm and secure again, you will be able to interact with him and communicate with him – he should be able to respond to any training he has had.  In this case, if reintroduction is not successful after some “quiet time”, you may need to try a more gradual reintroduction.  See Introducing Cats: A Short Guide

Easter Egg

 

Happy Easter from The Feline Purrspective! Click on the egg for cats playing an Easter game!

A lifelong cat owner, I had an indoor-outdoor cat as a child. I continued to have cats as I grew older, gradually spending more and more time with them. When I took a break from work for two years to sail from California to Maryland via the Panama Canal, I took my two siamese cats with me and I am relieved to say that they both made it home and lived to be 17 and 18 years old.

When we moved to Colorado, I began to supervise my cats’ outdoor activities due to the number of predators that were around. For several years, we lived in a house that bordered on an open space. At night, you could the coyotes howling and hunting in the open space behind the house.

Cats could only go out with a human supervisor. At the time, I had two long haired cats that would follow me and stay close by while I gardened; our domestic short hair preferred to stay indoors exclusively.

Cat in a Lion costume

 

Around this time, I read My Pride and Joy by George Adamson of “Born Free” fame.  Adamson was known for rehabilitating captive lions and returning them to a wild existence. He would take groups of these captive-raised unrelated lions and establish artificial prides. One of the daily exercises the “pride” engaged in was a walk. I wondered if walking cats together would help them get along better.

And so started the ritual of walking cats every morning. The townhomes I live in are an impromptu retirement community. The grounds are spacious with older trees and a pond. The roads in the complex are quiet with little traffic.

After several attempts at walking cats on leashes and having to let them climb trees with leashes dangling as they tried to escape the neighbors’ dogs (often on leashes), we changed to a “freedom” walk. The cats were not leashed and followed me around. I reinforced this behavior with treats.

(Update: I have found that I have to leash Gus, my formerly feral cat. He is still inclined to roam and get into cat fights.)

Cats on the morning walk

 

 

None of my cats are littermates. Some of the cats  engage in friendly behavior (grooming each other) but others are aloof from their housemates indoors. Social Groups of Cats

Being outside is a different story. The four cats will band together, for example, if a strange cat approaches. They don’t fight amongst each when the intruder shows up. 

One  cat may growl at another if he is further away, but once close up, they will  touch noses and confirm that they are part of the same group.

 

 

George Adamson established “artificial” prides; we establish “artificial” colonies when we house unrelated cats together. Like a colony of free-roaming cats, the indoor “colony” has its own signature scent which the members recognize each other by.

I guess it is a case of
“Better the Devil You Know than the Devil You Don’t”,
or, from the feline purrspective,
“Better the Devil who Smells Like You than the Devil Who Doesn’t”

Cats are considered mature at 7-10 years, senior at 11-14 years (human age 60-72 years) and Super Senior at 15+ years (human age 76+ years) (Your cat’s age in human years). Here are some tips for caring for your older cat.

Once past 2 years, cats age at a rate of 4 years per every human year. Regular veterinary visits are beneficial for your Mature, Senior and Super Senior cats. Good veterinary care can make your older cat’s senior years golden years.

Mature, Senior and Super Senior cats have the same needs as younger animals.


Caring for Your Older Cat: The “Senior” Cat Friendly Home


Safe Places


 

Steps to bed for older cat
A step ladder gives Athena easy access to the bed.

 

 

An older cat needs private and secure places to retreat to, to rest and take a break from household activity. Steps or ramps provide easy access to higher places. A heated bed with extra padding can be a real hit for an older cat stiff from arthritis.

Resources – Food, Water, Litter Boxes


Ice cube tray as a food puzzle
This older cat is getting lunch from an ice cube tray.

 

Still a hunter at heart, your older cat is designed to eat small meals, frequently during the day.  Feeding stations throughout the house will encourage her to prowl and “hunt” her food, stimulating her physically and mentally.

 

Your old cat will most likely drink more than he did when he was young. Locate water sources throughout the house. If your cat seems stiff, try raising his food and water up so that he does not have to crouch down as much to eat and drink.

Litter Box from storage tote
A storage tote has been repurposed as a litter box. The front opening is low and was cut with heavy duty shears and a hacksaw. A trash can for scooping is nearby.

THE LITTER BOX

  • Large enough for your cat to turn around.
  • Entrance has a low sill for easy access.
  • On each floor of the house
  • In areas that are secluded and private
  • Finer textured litter may be more comfortable for older kitty paws.

Play is still important


Older cats can still can benefit from swatting at a wand toy or chasing treats. Daily play time close to early morning or early evening mimics the cat’s natural rhythms – prey is most active at these times.

Human Interaction


A familiar predictable routine reduces anxiety for all cats. Caring for your older cat should include grooming as well as play time. Grooming becomes more challenging for older cats as their flexibility decreases.

  • Make grooming sessions frequent and short.
  • Cats often groom after eating. This is a good time to gently comb or brush the older cat.
  • Regular nail trims are important for older kitties – the nails of older cats can sometimes grow into their paw pads, which is painful.
  • Older cats still need access to scratching areas – horizontal and angled scratchers may be easier for them to use

Your Cat’s Sense of Smell


Cats have a sense of smell that is 14x more sensitive than ours.

  • Diffusers containing facial pheromones placed near some of your older cat’s resting places will convey the messages of familiarity and safety
  • Scratching releases pheromones from glands in your cat’s paws that help mark his territory- have scratchers available to your older cat
  • Avoid using scented litters and strong smelling cleaners

Outdoor Access


 

A Cat enjoys a walk in a stroller

SAFE outdoor access is stimulating for older cats as well as young cats. Your cat may like some supervised outdoor time with you – the daily “walk” can provide quality time for both cat and owner.

IF you are lucky enough to live in a quiet neighborhood or have access to a quiet park, a cat stroller can get you and your old friend out. 

  • Get her used to the stroller first – offer some food in it, let her nap in it
  • Start with SHORT walks in QUIET places at QUIET times.
  • Increase the walking time IF she is enjoying it.

Cat in Carrier

A Better Vet Visit for Your Cat


From Your Cat’s Purrspective…

 

You know something’s up – your carrier is out. You hide under the bed but your human pulls you out and proceeds to squeeze you into the dreaded box.

You swing along in the air and then are loaded into a larger box that moves and smells funny.

You finally stop moving and swing through the air some more and arrive at another house where you smell lots of other animals. Oh no, not this place again! You can smell other cats – most of these cats too are afraid. As you move through the fog of smells, you arrive in a small room with a metal table.

A strange human opens your carrier door and tries to coax you to come out – you’re not sure what is out there but now your carrier seems like a good place to stay. Suddenly, your world tilts and you slide out of the carrier onto the cold, hard table.

You hiss your displeasure. Another strange human proceeds to look into your eyes, put a hard plastic thing in your ears, and presses a cold metal disc against your chest. Then, the strange human pokes you with a needle and you are finally allowed to escape back into the dreaded carrier – at least, it has taken you back home before.

A Better Vet Visit for Your Cat – What We Can Do


Cat Carrier Comes Apart

CHOOSING A CARRIER.


  • The plain-vanilla plastic carrier sometimes is the best option – safe and secure, easy to clean, and sturdy.
  • For your veterinary team, the removable top is a bonus. It allows your vet team to work with your cat in a place he knows – the bottom of his carrier.

 

cats with carrier and treats

MAKE YOUR CAT’S CARRIER A SAFE PLACE.


  • It should  have a comfortable blanket or towel in it that smells like her.
  • Leave the carrier out a home – your cat may nap or play in the carrier.
  • Offer some food close by or in the carrier for her to enjoy. 
  • Play games in and around the carrier.

 

Cat and Car
Athena is ready to get in her carrier for a ride!

TAKE KITTY FOR SOME RIDES THAT DON’T END UP AT THE VET.


  • Start with short rides, maybe just around the block.
  • Work up to longer rides to pleasant places – if you have a cat stroller, you could work up to going for walks in the park.
  • ALWAYS move at your cat’s pace – if he is hunched up and hiding, slow down and shorten the ride.

 

HANDLE  AT HOME FOR A BETTER VET VISIT FOR YOUR CAT


  • Take time at home to handle her feet and head
  •  Work up to gently lifting her upper lip to look at her teeth.
  • Get her used to being picked up.
  • Make sure to reward her with tasty treats!

 

Spray Carrier Facial Pheromones
Spraying the carrier with feline facial pheromones signals that this a familiar place.

SPRAY THE CARRIER WITH SYNTHETIC PHEROMONES 20 MINUTES BEFORE THE RIDE


 

Treats to reward cats

BRING SOME TREATS ALONG TO MAKE THE VISIT MORE PLEASANT.


  • Limit kitty’s food prior to the appointment
  • he will be more willing to eat some treats

The Cat Friendly Home: Maintain the Colony Scent

Odors not only tell cats about their world ; they also carry messages from other cats.

Free-roaming cats live in colonies if there is enough food in the neighborhood. Each colony has its own signature scent. Members of the colony identify each other by this scent. This colony scent also marks the core territory of the colony, where the members feel safe, can eat, rest and play.

Our homes are our cat’s territory; we are members of our cat’s colony. Our homes have the colony scent that makes our cats feel safe and secure.

How do we maintain the colony scent in our homes?


Marley marks the corner wall at the top of the stairs.

 

Scratching post near the litter box.

Cats deposit pheromones  and signature scents using glands on their faces. You may see your cat rubbing the corner of a wall or furniture; you may also see him rub the same place again later the next day – he is marking the area as safe and familiar.

Pheromones and communication

Placing scratching posts around your home at windows, doors, and near where your kitty sleeps also provides boundary marking. Glands in kitty’s feet release pheromones and odors when she scratches which are deposited on the scratching posts.

Scratching Basics

Litter boxes are also part of the kitty network – urine and feces can carry messages and identify individual cats within the house.

Litter Box Basics

Disturbances in the Scent…


Marley marks the corner wall at the top of the stairs.
A well marked wall.

Cleaners


  • Avoid using strong smelling disinfectant or scented cleaners.
  • Some of the disinfectant cleaners linger on surfaces for a long time after you have used them for cleaning. Cats can be notorious counter surfers and they lick their paws.
  • Also avoid cleaners with essential oils – most essential oils are toxic to cats.
  • Visit the Environmental Working Group site to learn more about the cleaners you’re using.

Environmental Working Group

“Whisker Walls”


It is best to leave those “whisker walls” where the kitties rub their cheeks untouched for as long as you can. If they are just too unsightly, try unscented castile soap (made out of plant sources) followed with a rinse. After cleaning, spray with Feliway Classic (Comfort Zone Calming)

 

Litter Boxes


Cleaning the litter tray can be done with mild cleaners, for example, dishwashing soap. If you do use bleach, make sure to dilute it and rinse the tray thoroughly. The CDC recommends diluting 1/3 cup unscented household bleach with 1 gallon of water for cleaning surfaces.

Avoid cleaning all the litter boxes at once – stagger the cleanings. Scooping daily if you use clumping litter, will allow you to empty and clean the litter box ever 2-4 weeks.

Hydrogen peroxide (3%) has good disinfecting properties and breaks down into just oxygen and water.

  1. Start with a box that has had all solid waste and old litter removed.
  2. Spray a fine coating of hydrogen peroxide on the inside of the box. Allow it to sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Scrub the inside thoroughly. Completely rinse the hydrogen peroxide out and dry the litter box before replacing the litter.

The Bark Space

Veterinary visits and hospitalization


When your cat goes to the vet, make sure that some of her familiar bedding goes with her for reassurance. If you have other cats, take along some other bedding the other cats sleep on in a plastic bag for the trip home. Ask that it be put in your cat’s carrier before picking her up. This helps maintain the colony scent when your cat is on her way home.

My youngest cat formerly was a street cat. He will be aggressive with the older cats returning from a day at the vet if we do not include some of his bedding for his roommate to come home with. I also make sure that the Feliway multi-cat diffusers are working in the common areas.

Managing new smells at the front door…


  • Place footwear and shopping bags at the door when you return home – allow the cats to examine these items before moving them further into the house
  • Wash your hands before greeting your cat or cats
  • Change your clothing if you have been in contact with strange cats and dogs

Pheromones help maintain the colony scent…


  • Feliway Classic (ComfortZone Calming) diffusers help the cats feel safe in their sleeping and litter areas
  • Multicat diffusers keep harmony in the common areas.
  • Wipe down new items with a cloth sprayed with the Classic or Calming  pheromone.

The Cat Friendly Home: Predictable and Positive Interactions Between Cats and Humans

What is the predictable and positive way to greet a cat?

What makes cat-human interactions predictable and positive?

Greet your cat in his language…


When there is sufficient food in an area, free-roaming cats will often live in colonies. Cat colonies are groups of related cats. The core of the colony is the mother cat, her kittens, her sisters and their kittens.

Each cat colony has a scent…


Cats live in a landscape of odors – their sense of smell is 1000 x more sensitive than ours and they communicate by scent. The cat colony has its own scent – each member has this scent.

 

Scent identifies members…


 Colony members often greet each other by touching noses, confirming the “colony” scent.

They also groom each other (allo-grooming) mostly on the head and rub against each other (allo-rubbing). All of these actions exchange scent, confirming the “colony odor” and membership in the colony.

You are part of your cat’s “colony” and share the “colony” scent, marking you as a colony member. You also have your “signature scent”, that identifies you as an individual to your cat. Greet your cat by letting her smell you and confirm that you belong to the colony.

Your cat may be a highly skilled hunter but he is also a small animal who is prey for larger carnivores such as dogs and coyotes. We are much larger than he is and don’t want to scare him and make him feel like prey. If you get on your cat’s level, you will seem smaller and not as threatening.

Meet and Greet – A Predictable and Positive Hello


 

 

 

Athena accepts a greeting by rubbing her face against my hand

Get on your cat’s level by bending down or by interacting with her on a higher surface. Extend a hand or a finger and allow her to smell you.

  •  If she wishes to continue the interaction, she will rub against your hand (allo-rub).
  • Handle your cat on her head at first. This mimics the “allo-grooming” of friendly cats, where they groom each others’ heads.
  • A friendly or bonded kitty may allow her back to be stroked after accepting a head rub – like the “allo-rubbing” of colony cats.
  • Your colony membership is up to date!

If you cat does not lean into your hand or rub your hand on greeting, save the petting session for later – like us, there are times your cat does not want to be touched.

Other Predictable and Positive Interactions between cats and humans…


  • grooming, treat time or play time – Make this POSITIVE – choose something your cat enjoys
  • have a session the same time each day, say, after dinner or before bedtime
  • cats are in tune to the household rituals that mark the passing of the day more than the time on the clock.
  • this “schedule” allows you to communicate with your cat. He will be looking for the clues that tell him that treat time is around the corner – he may show up and solicit the interaction with a chirrup or meow.
Athena sniffs her comb prior to being groomed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have more than one cat?  Make sure each kitty gets some premium time!

These activities will strengthen the owner-pet bond. This time can also be used to train behaviors that are beneficial to both owner and cat – for example, conditioning your cat to accept kibble in treats to reduce stress when she needs oral medication.

Do you ever wonder why cats like us?


People are the ultimate resource – we provide food, shelter, play and safety.
To our cats , we may seem to be large, clumsy and somewhat unpredictable cats.
Let’s eliminate the unpredictability by greeting our cats in their language and providing positive interactions that they can predict.