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Jackson Galaxy On His Work With Lux, “The “911 Cat”

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This Saturday on My Cat From Hell, Jackson Galaxy will take on what he calls the most challenging case in the 15 years he has worked with cats: Lux, the Portland cat whose guardians barricaded themselves, their baby and their dog in the bedroom of their apartment and called 911 to request assistance when Lux became severely aggressive.

When the story broke last March, it unleashed a firestorm of reaction among cat lovers, with many, as is so common with these types of stories, jumping to judgment about the situation and Lux’s guardians without knowing all the facts. But there is more to this story than what the 911 tapes revealed.Continue Reading

How to Recognize If Your Cat is Stressed

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Guest Post by Jai Patel for Vet-Medic

Stress is the body’s response to a stimulus, such as fear or pain, that interferes with normal physiological equilibrium. It can include physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension. And just like humans, cats experience stress. Experiences such as moving house, abuse, injury or death in the family can all cause stress. However, there can also more subtle stress triggers, such as visitors in the home, other cats, or even something as seemingly simple as installing new carpet.

Unlike humans, cats can’t tell us when they’re stressed, so it’s up to us to recognize the signs. Any noticeable change in behavior can be an indication that something isn’t quite right.Continue Reading

Canned Cat Food May Not Contain Enough Thiamine

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When you buy canned cat food – any brand of canned cat food – you will see a statement on the label that says that the food is “complete and balanced” according to AAFCO standards. This would lead you to assume that the food has all the nutrients your cat needs, right? This is not necessarily true.

What does “complete and balanced” really mean?

AAFCO, the American Association of Feed Control Officials, is the organization which is charged with establishing and enforcing animal feed requirements across all fifty state governments.  Its primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of feed for human food producing livestock.  The AAFCO statement on most pet food labels indicates that the food has been tested and approved as “complete and balanced for the life of a pet.”   This is sadly misleading. Continue Reading

Don’t Take Cat Bites Lightly

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The information in this post is not a substitute for medical care. If you have been bitten by a cat, see your doctor or visit an urgent care facility. We cannot answer questions about whether your bite needs medical attention in the comments section. 

It can happen even with the most loving, docile cat: an overexcited cat nips her guardian while playing, or accidentally bites her guardian’s finger while accepting a treat. In more extreme cases, redirected aggression can cause a cat to lash out at her guardian and cause severe damage. And of course, most of us will pet stray cats we meet along the way, but not all seemingly friendly cats remain friendly after being approached by strangers. Regardless of how a cat bite happens, it is not something to take lightly.

Why cat bites can be dangerous

Cat bites only account for 10-15% of animal bites reported by emergency rooms, but they pose a much greater risk of infection. Continue Reading

How to Help Nervous Cats

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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 Answers.com and is republished with permission.

Chiropractic Care Can Bring Out the Best in Your Cat

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Guest Post by Alissa Grover, DC, CAC

As an animal chiropractor, I have worked with a variety of species including dogs, cats, horses, goats, rabbits, and more. Chiropractic is a holistic branch of health care that specializes in the health of the spine and joints of the body without drugs or surgery. Chiropractors provide adjustments to restore proper alignment of the spine and joints, thus allowing the entire body to function better and quality of life to improve. Animal chiropractic is becoming more utilized in both the horse and dog communities. While fewer cat guardians utilize chiropractic care, some of my most amazing experiences have been with cats.

A gentle, effective modality with multiple applications

Recently, a cat was brought into our clinic for unexplained fatigue and lack of appetite of several weeks duration. Continue Reading

Do Cats Respond to TV?

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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

Conscious Cat Sunday: The Gift of Jealousy

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To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is: a dissatisfaction with self. – Joan Didion

Jealousy is a complex emotion that everyone experiences at one time or another. It’s human nature to compare ourselves to others. And yes, cats get jealous, too.

Jealousy can be toxic. It makes you feel small and petty. On the face of it, jealousy seems to be directed at the other person, but ultimately, the only one suffering is you. It’s not easy to admit to being jealous, because it means facing your own insecurities and fears. Jealousy feels awful, and allowing yourself to indulge in it will almost always damage your soul.Continue Reading

Is Your Cat A Tree Dweller or A Bush Dweller?

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If you’ve watched Jackson Galaxy work his magic with challenging cats on Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, you know that one of the concepts he frequently explains to cat guardians is the difference between cats who are “tree dwellers” and cats who are “bush dwellers.”

Tree dwellers need vertical space. These are the cats that like to jump up on counters, sit on top of the refrigerator, climb curtains or bookshelves. Bush dwellers, on the other hand, prefer to stay low to the ground. They tend to seek out spots that are hidden, such as under an end table, or even under the sofa or bed.

In multi-cat households, it is critical that you understand your cats’ preferences, and provide options to accommodate both behavior styles.Continue Reading

Review: Outsmarting Cats by Wendy Christensen

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When it comes to understanding felines, few people know these lovable, but sometimes frustrating, creatures as well as Wendy Christensen. Wendy spent her entire life with cats, and has gained a deep appreciation of the many sides of feline behavior. She shares her wealth of knowledge in Outsmarting Cats: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to Do What You Want.

This book was first published in 2004. This second, revised edition was published in March of this year, and contains updated information as well as a comprehensive resource listing for everything from cat safe cleaners to cat furniture. Just like the original, this book addresses behavioral challenges ranging from aggression to litter box problems to scratching. The new, expanded edition also includes the latest scientific information on cats, high-tech solutions to feline behavior problems, a new section on TNR (trap, neuter, release) and fostering cats, and lots of new photos and illustrations.

Wendy’s focus is on nurturing the best possible relationshipContinue Reading

2012 in review, one blog post at a time

2012 Year in Review

2012 has been a wonderful year for all of us here at The Conscious Cat. We won multiple awards, and our readership and fanbase grew rapidly. None of it would have happened without 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.

I thought it would be fun to look back over the year and share some of my favorite posts. I hope you enjoy this look back on a great year!

January
Sleeping with cats

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This post about sleeping with cats generated a lively discussion among readers who share my point of view: I simply can’t imagine not sleeping with my cats. Even though some people suggest that you should lock your cats out of the bedroom so you can get a good night’s sleep, that’s never going to happen at my house. I’ll wear my dark circles proudly, thank you very much. What’s a little lost sleep, compared to spending the night with a cat or two snuggled up in bed with you?

FebruaryContinue Reading