Month: February 2014

How to Help Nervous Cats


While most cats are initially wary of unfamiliar noises, people or events, they eventually adapt as they get used to the stimulus. Nervous cats remain anxious. A nervous cat is in a constant state of anxiety. This level of stress can lead to physical illness, especially lower urinary tract disease. Helping your cat overcome her nervousness will not only make her more confident and comfortable, it will also improve her health. Unfortunately, working with nervous cats can be challenging, as cats may express anxiety through aggression.

What makes a cat nervous?

A cat’s personality is shaped by genetics, environment and early life experience. Some cats are naturally more fearful than others. The cat’s genetic make up predisposes her to be cautious. This can be seen especially in feral cats.

Lack of early socialization also contributes to fearfulness in cats. Kittens who have been frequently handled by humans tend to be more confident as they grow up. Kittens who haven’t been socialized before the age of 8 weeks may take longer to acclimate to living with humans, and they may remain fearful.

If the cat had a frightening experience in the past, it will try to avoid it from happening again.

How to help nervous cats

Helping a nervous cat gain confidence requires patience and persistence on the guardian’s part. While it is tempting to reassure the cat when she’s nervous, this merely reinforces the timid behavior. Use positive rewards for calm behavior instead.

Remain calm, and don’t make the cat the focus of the household. Cats are sensitive to the energy in a home, and the tension created by cat guardians tip toeing around the house and speaking in hushed voices so as not to scare the cat will only increase the cat’s anxiety levels. Extracting the cat out of hiding places only serves to increase the cat’s anxiety.

Interactive play can be a great way to bring timid cats out of their shell. Structured play time, 10-15 minutes twice a day, using fishing pole type toys, are a great way to build confidence for the cat and to enhance the bond between cat and human.

Use food treats to create positive associations for the nervous cat. Treats can encourage your cat to explore new areas of the home, or to spend time in the same space with you. Offering treats directly from your hand may increase the bond between you and your cat. Be careful when using treats so you don’t inadvertently reward timid behavior.

Natural remedies to help nervous cats

Synthetic pheromone plug ins such as the Feliway Comfort Zone can help create a sense of safety and familiarity in the home. Natural remedies such as Rescue Remedy or Spirit Essences Stress Stopper can also help.

Enlist the help of a feline behaviorist

In extreme cases, you may want to enlist the help of a feline behaviorist. A behaviorist can evaluate your unique situation and provide strategies to help your cat become less nervous.

This article was previously published on and is republished with permission.

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Do Your Cats Talk, and Do You Talk Back?


One of the primary ways cats communicate is through body language, but they also express themselves vocally. And most cat’s vocal expressions go far beyond just “meow.”

Even though I have no scientific evidence, in my experience, when it comes to being talkative, tortoiseshell cats have most other cats beat. Buckley was one of the most vocal cats I’ve ever come across. She had a range of expression from an almost silent meow to a very loud, demanding cry that almost approached a scream. I often heard her meowing or chattering somewhere in the house. Continue Reading

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Do Cats Respond To or Watch TV? Facts & Alternatives


Many pet guardians leave the TV or radio on when they’re not home. They hope that the background sound will prevent pets from feeling lonely, and provide some stimulation at the same time. Leaving the TV on can be beneficial if it’s used in the right way, but it can also be detrimental. Whether or not to leave the TV on really depends on your cats and your lifestyle.

Many pet guardians leave Animal Planet on for their pets under the assumption that it may make their pets feel as if they had company. I believe that for most cats, this may cause more stress than benefit. Continue Reading

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Cat Scratch Disease: Should You Be Worried?


Last updated January 19, 2018

When you hear the words cat scratch disease, your first thought is probably the popular Ted Nugent song Cat Scratch Fever from 1977. However, cat scratch fever, more commonly known as cat scratch disease, is a very real condition.

Cat scratch disease is a fairly rare self- limiting infectious disease. Approximately 22,000 cases are reported in the United States each year.

What is cat scratch disease?

Cat scratch disease is an infection caused by the Bartonella henselae bacteria. It is transmitted if a cat who is carrying the bacteria bites or scratches a person.

How do cats become carriers?

Cats get the Bartonella bacteria from fleas. Most infected cats do not show any signs of illness. The bacteria is only transmitted from cat to cat if fleas are present. Kittens are more likely to be infected than adult cats.

Symptoms of cat scratch disease

You may notice a small red bump, in addition to the wound, in the area where your cat bit or scratched you. If you have been infected, you may experience a mild fever, loss of appetite, a sore throat, headaches, and a general feeling of malaise. Symptoms may not appear right away, and may last for several weeks. They can vary from mild to severe.

Treatment of cat scratch disease

Most cases of cat scratch fever won’t require medical treatment. In the rare severe case, antibiotic and/or antimicrobial therapy may shorten recovery time.

How to prevent cat scratch disease

  • Be diligent about flea control. To avoid side effects from chemical flea treatments, explore natural options.
  • Avoid rough play with cats that may lead to scratching and biting.
  • Don’t let cats lick any open wounds you may have.
  • Strengthen your own immune system and that of your cat. A strong immune system makes you cat less susceptible to fleas.
  • Do not declaw your cat. Declawing is an inhumane and painful procedure, and it won’t stop your cat from being a carrier of cat scratch disease.

What to do if you are scratched

Always wash any wounds immediately with warm, soapy water. Seek medical attention of the wound if you notice redness, swelling or discharge.

Cat scratch fever might sound scary, but with a low risk factor and usually subtle symptoms, most people won’t even know they have been infected. This rare disease is certainly no reason to avoid the company of cats.

This article was previously published on and is republished with permission.

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