The Conscious Cat was awarded four Certificates of Excellence in the Cat Writers’ Association’s annual contest! The contest showcases the very best in the feline field of professional writers, broadcasters, photographers and graphic artists.
The Conscious Cat received a certificate for the “Website” category.
I also received Certificates of Excellence for three individual articles in the categories of “Online Article – Health and General Care” and “Online Article – Behavior and Training.” The winning articles are:
I frequently get questions about behavior problems with cats who live in multi-cat households. Whether it’s cat to cat introductions, litter box problems, or aggression, these types of issues can be extremely challenging for cat guardians, and sadly, they often result in cats being relinquished to shelters.
Amy Shojai, a certified animal behavior consultant and award winning author of more than twp dozen pet care books, put together a comprehensive guide for cat guardians facing these challenges. ComPetability: Solving Behavior Problems In Your Multi-Cat Household helps cat parents understand why cats do the things they do, and how to create a peaceful multi-cat household.
This comprehensive guide covers how to
• Recognize and diffuse cat-to-cat aggression
• Settle disputes over territory, potty problems and mealtime woesContinue Reading
Cats are masters at not showing pain. This instinct to hide pain is a legacy of their wild origins. In the wild, an animal that appears to be sick or disabled is vulnerable to attack from predators, and survival instinct dictates to act as if nothing is wrong, even when something most definitely is.
This presents a challenge for cat guardians trying to assess whether their cats are experiencing acute, or even chronic, pain. Often, subtle behavior changes are the only clue that something is wrong. Look for the following:
The other day, I was sitting in my living room reading when I heard a commotion on the landing below. I got up to check, and found Allegra and Ruby intently following the movements of a small moth, and occasionally pouncing on it. They rarely play together, so even though I felt sorry for the moth, it was delightful to see the two of them in cahoots like this.
True to form, Allegra mostly watched and waited, while Ruby batted the moth around. Occasionally, Allegra would take a half-hearted swat at it, but she seemed to have more fun watching Ruby play. After a minute or two, I went to get the camera.
As I was filming the video below, I reflected on how this was a reminder of our housecats’ true natureContinue Reading
I often write about the uniqueness of felines. Your kitty is not only very different from dogs – she stands apart from most other species.
Her physiology is distinctive. Her nutritional requirements are unique among mammals. Even the way her body is constructed – her incredible physical flexibility – is distinct from most other creatures.
Another thing that is very unusual about our kitty companions is their tendency to develop a weird disorder called feline hyperesthesia. This is a medical term for what is more commonly referred to as “rippling skin syndrome,” “rolling skin syndrome,” or “twitchy cat syndrome.” Other technical names for the condition include neuritis and atypical neurodermatitis.
Signs and Symptoms of Feline Hyperesthesia
The word hyperesthesia means “abnormally increased sensitivity of the skin.” It’s a condition in which the skin on a cat’s back ripples from the shoulders all the way to the tail. Continue Reading
The scenario plays out with cat guardians everywhere: the cat is always getting into something, like jumping onto counters, climbing up screen doors or drapes…and the list goes on. It seems like everyone these days is armed with a handy squirt bottle or squirt gun; sometimes, as I’ve seen in clients’ homes, in every room of the house. Somewhere along the line, this punishing tool has become as prevalent and acceptable as just saying a loud “NO!” In response, we’ve had many queries, both on line and in consultations, about the efficacy of this method.
I believe that the squirt bottle is NOT an effective way of changing a cat’s behavior. When I say this, often I’m met with quizzical or defensive looks. The guardian might say, “But, I’ve seen it work. I squirt, and Tigger jumps off the counter. Nowadays, he just has to see the bottle in my hands, and he runs away.” Yes, exactly my point. Tigger is responding, but is it for the right reasons? No.
What is the cat actually learning in this scenario? Is he learning that the counter is a bad place to be be? No.Continue Reading
Learning how to read feline body language is one of the best ways to understand your cat. Even though cats express themselves vocally, they primarily use their face, tail and body to communicate with each other and with the humans in their lives.
Watching a cat’s eyes, ears and tail can speak volumes about what the cat is trying to tell humans or other cats.
A cat’s eyes can give you many clues about her emotional and mental state. Wide open eyes are an indication of trust. Eyes that stare without blinking can be an attempt at dominance. A slit-eyed look can be a sign of aggression or fear. This is different from the sleepy-eyed look, when a cat appears to blink at you, which is generally thought to be a sign of affection.Continue Reading
One of the primary ways cats commuicate 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. At first, I always went looking for her, concerned that maybe something was wrong. I soon realized that she just loved to “talk.” It was almost as if she felt compelled to provide a running commentary on her activities: “I think I’ll go in the bedroom now.” “Oh, maybe I’ll jump up on the window perch. That looks like fun.” “Oh, look! There’s a big blue bird by the feeder!” It seemed that her constant delight at everything in her life needed to be expressed out loud.Continue Reading
Some cats go wild for laser toys, chasing the little red dot around the house, up and down furniture, and, in Ruby’s case, even up walls. Well, she tries, anyway. Allegra will chase any reflection of light, even if it’s just the sun reflecting off my watch on the wall, so the laser is definitely a hit with her as well.
But are laser toys really such a good idea to use with cats? And more importantly, are they safe?
How to use a laser toy the right way
I consider laser toys the lazy cat guardian’s toy – and don’t think I haven’t used them occasionally. After all, all you have to do is sit and point, and your cat does the rest. But is it really as much fun for your cats as it seems to be? It can be, if you use the laser toy the right way.Continue Reading
When I first adopted Allegra in April of 2010, she came to me with some behavioral challenges, namely, play and petting aggression. Most of her play aggression was directed at me and demonstrated mostly by Allegra attacking my ankles every chance she got. The petting aggression manifested in a typical pattern of low tolerance for extended petting sessions.
These issues intensified after Amber passed away. I found myself with a single, high-energy only kitten (Allegra was seven months old at the time) while grieving the loss of my 12-year-old soul cat. I knew that one fairly simple fix would have been getting Allegra a playmate closer to her in age and temperament, but I wasn’t ready to even think about a new cat at that time. So I had to step up and work with Allegra and be her substitute playmate.
I consulted with Marilyn Krieger, the cat behaviorist who has a regular column in CatFancy magazine. Marilyn advised me on how to enrich Allegra’s environment and increase vertical space. She also introduced me to the concept of play therapy. I learned a lot from that consult, and began working with Allegra. Continue Reading
If you’ve ever had a cat with behavior problems, whether it’s territorial aggression, urinary marking, or simply a stressful trip to the vet’s, you may have been told to try Comfort Zone with Feliway® to help your kitty calm down.
Comfort Zone with Feliway® is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, used by cats to mark their territory as safe and secure. By mimicking the cat’s natural facial pheromones, Feliway® creates a state of familiarity and security in the cat’s local environment. As a result, Feliway® can be used to help comfort and reassure cats while they cope with a challenging situation and help prevent or reduce the stress caused by a change in their environment.Continue Reading