Feline Lifestyle

Meet StovePipe The Traveling Cat


StovePipeCat is one lucky kitten. With less than an hour left to live at a Los Angeles, CA “shelter,” the little kitten was rescued by a volunteer who fostered him and his two biological sisters, and who rescued three other cats while she was at it. Two weeks later, StovePipeCat was adopted to a married couple with grown children and a step-sister cat. Little did StovePipeCat know how much his life would change.Continue Reading

A Farewell to Cat Fancy Magazine


Earlier this week, I received Cat Fancy’s 50th Anniversary issue in the mail. It’s also, sadly, the magazine’s final issue. I had known about the magazine’s demise since the beginning of December, when I received a call from editor Susan Logan-McCracken. As a contributing writer, I very much appreciated that Susan took the time for this personal notification.Continue Reading

It’s National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day


Cats communicate in many different ways. Their primary means of communication is body language, but they also communicate vocally. It’s up to us as their guardians to learn how to interpret their communications, but no matter how well trained a human may be in learning to speak feline, sometimes, we all wish our cats could talk. Apparently, somebody felt that this wish for better interspecies understanding deserved a national holiday, because believe it or not, today is National Answer Your Cat’s Question Day.Continue Reading

Kitten Bowl Returns to Hallmark Channel


Now that this year’s Super Bowl is set to take place in Arizone between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots, we can all star to focus on the game that really matters: Kitten Bowl II will premiere on the Hallmark Channel on Super Bowl Sunday! This is the biggest showdown in feline sports, and you don’t want to miss the cuteness!Continue Reading

2014 in Review

2014 year end review

2014 has been a very good year for all of us here at The Conscious Cat. Our readership and fan base grew rapidly, thanks to all of you who read this blog every day, comment here and on our Facebook page, and share what you read with your friends and followers. Allegra, Ruby and I appreciate your support more than words can say.

With more than 365 posts, it’s hard to highlight only a handful of posts. I choose some of our most popular ones for this year end review.Continue Reading

Cat Photography Q&A with Michele West


Michele West has been a photographer most of her life. She considers herself fortunate to have studied photography early when it was still “film” and in the style of the great masters. Henri Cartier-Bresson, who is considered the father of photo journalism, and who coined the term, “the decisive moment,” was one of her great inspirations.  The decisive moment is waiting for all the elements to come perfectly together.Continue Reading

Santa Paws Drive Brings Holiday Joy to Shelter Cats


The Santa Paws Drive 2014 is now open for donations! For the past five years, this amazing organization has raised more than $55,00o in toys, treats and donations for 28 shelters around the world. This year, the drive will benefit two organizations that work together to save animals in kill shelters by transporting them to forever homes and no-kill rescues where there is greater demand for adoptions: Good Karma Cat Rescue in South Florida, and Cute Transport Network, an all volunteer network of drivers who transport cats all over the United States.Continue Reading

Reducing Stress for Cats in a Boarding Facility


This article was originally published in Pet Boarding and Daycare Magazine. While the article was written for operators of cat boarding and grooming establishments, the tips I provided can also help cat guardians in choosing a good boarding facility for cats.

Cats have a reputation for being independent, which often leads people to believe that they’ll do just fine on their own when their guardians have to go away for a few days. As long as someone comes in and leaves fresh food and water, that’s all they need, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. Accidents happen. Cats could stop eating while their guardians are away, or become ill. Cats need more than just food and water to thrive – they need human interaction, and a chance to play.

Generally, there are two options cat owners who have to travel: having a friend, neighbor or professional pet sitter come to the house, or boarding the cat at a boarding facility. Since cats dislike change, boarding can be a stressful experience. Boarding facilities who wish to attract cat owners need to be aware of cats’ unique needs, and take measures to reduce stress for their feline guests.

Select a boarding facility designed for cats

Providing a low-stress environment for cats starts with the selection of the actual boarding kennel. When Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, designed the boarding section of her cat clinics in Chico, CA and Portland, OR, she made sure that all design decision and selections were made with cats’ needs in mind. “We have a large boarding room with sleeping benches in each enclosure, and a view of the garden from the back of each enclosure,” says Colleran.

Cat kennels or condos should be spacious enough to accommodate separate areas for the cat’s litter box, food, and lounging areas. In order to minimize noise as well as stress, cat boarding areas should be separate from dog boarding kennels. Most cats will find the sound of barking dogs distressing. Cat boarding areas should also be kept away from the main traffic flow of the facility. Cats should not be able to see other cats from their cage or condo. Since cats are territorial animals, the sight of another cat can be stressful and cause aggression toward kennel staff and other cats in the facility.

Environmental enrichment features

Enriching the kennel with features such as resting boards, cardboard hiding boxes, bedding and toys can go a long way toward making cats more comfortable. Offering a view of the outside can be an added bonus: “Bird TV” can keep cats entertained during the day. Playing soft music throughout the day can provide a “white noise” effect. Studies have shown that classical music, or music specifically designed to calm pets, can have beneficial effects on cats’ stress levels.

Pheromone sprays and plug ins can help reduce anxiety in kennel areas. Cages and bedding should be sprayed every day. The use of pheromone plug ins in all areas of the kennel where cats will be housed can help keep feline boarders calm. Holistic remedies such as Rescue Remedy or Spirit Essences Stress Stopper can be beneficial as well.

Common social areas – yes or no?

If a boarding facility provides common social areas for cats, it is critical to only allow cats from the same family into the area at the same time, and only if prior approval is obtained from the cat’s owner. Common areas, as well as individual cages, need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between cats to minimize the potential for exposure to spread illness Even seemingly healthy cats can be carriers of feline viruses without exhibiting signs of disease. “There is a balance between cleanliness/disinfection and the elaborateness of the enclosures and common areas,” says Dr. Colleran. “I chose to keep them very simple so that we would never have a problem with viruses.”

Give cats time to acclimate

A boarding facility can be frightening for cats, especially those who have not been away from home before. Cats will need time to acclimate to a new environment. Most cats will adjust with two or three days. They may not eat much during the adjustment period, and it is critical that food intake is monitored closely. A cat who doesn’t eat for more than 24-48 hours is at risk for hepatic lipidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Staff needs to be trained in proper handling of cats

Staff should be trained in proper handling of cats and in how to read a cat’s body language to avoid inadvertently stressing cats. “We watch for the behaviors we know indicate that cats are settling in,” explains Dr. Colleran, “especially how soon they eat, where they sit in the enclosure and how willing they are to curl up and sleep.”
Cats are highly sensitive to energy. A study conducted at the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine demonstrated a connection between stress and illness in cats. Researchers found that they had to manage their own stress levels when they were around the cats. “I had to be careful if I was having a bad day so it didn’t rub off on the cats,” says Judi Stella, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher at Purdue University, who participated in the study. Staff should approach cats slowly and speak in soft voices. They should understand that forcing human contact does not accelerate a cat’s acclimation period. Cats need to be allowed to relax at their own pace.

Personal belongings with the scent of home

Allow cat owners to bring their cat’s personal belongings. “We invite people to bring familiar bedding and familiar toys, food or treats,” says Dr. Colleran. A blanket, article of clothing with the owner’s scent on it or a favorite toy may go a long way toward making a cat feel more secure.

Web cameras

Consider installing web cameras in cat boarding areas so clients can monitor their cats while they’re away. Webcams are easy to set up and allow cat owners to watch live streaming video of their feline family members on the boarding facility’s website. Most pet parents love being able to see their cat while they’re away from. “The web cams give me the opportunity to check on my cat Smoky 24/7,’ says Maureen Carnevale, who boards her cat at Olde Town Pet Resort in Springfield, VA. “Additionally, I can also observe the staff and the care Smoky receives in my absence. This gives me a lot of comfort and peace of mind.”

Boarding facilities can greatly reduce stress for their feline clients by keeping cats’ unique needs in mind during facility design and when developing operating procedures.

Photo by Rocky Mountain Cat Rescue, Flickr Creative Commons

Video Contest: Your Cat Video Could Go Viral and Win $1,000


If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ve watched some of the cat videos that have gone viral and thought “my cat is way cuter or funnier than this!” Well, now you have a chance to prove this, and earn some money at the same time.

MOZAYIC, a new YouTube focused business dedicated to helping filmmakers create exciting content that is presented and promoted to audiences worldwide, wants to help your video go viral. Simply send in your cat videos and your cat could be the next feline internet sensation.Continue Reading

Keep Your Cats Safe and Happy at Halloween


I bet if cats had their say, they’d abolish Halloween. From a cat’s perspective, there’s not much to love about a holiday when strangers come knocking at your door, your humans dress up in weird outfits and scary looking masks, and some  humans even try to put you in costumes. The following tips will help you reduce the stress of this holiday for your feline family members and keep them safe so everyone can have a happy Halloween.Continue Reading