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Why do cats chatter their teeth when they spot prey?

Many owners will have heard and seen their cat chattering when they spot prey. Indoor cats do it too even if they have never hunted.
So why do they do this? Is it because they can’t get to the prey?

In fact, this is normal hunting behaviour. Your cat’s instincts are kicking in – even if they have never hunted they still have those instincts. Experts used to believe cats were excited or frustrated when they chatter or that they were mimicking their prey’s sounds. Cats hunt for a large variety of prey, though, and most of them sound nothing like a cat’s chattering.
Most experts now think that the chattering jaw movements are similar to the killing bite. Your cat is eagerly anticipating having a good bite.

Perhaps we can satisfy indoor cats by giving them a toy to chase & catch after the prey has left and give the cat a treat 😉

I think the noise is very funny. I laugh whenever I hear Dirk do it and it’s usually when he sees birds nearby (pigeons seem to love teasing him by sitting on the balcony railing).

Cats’ personalities: do they become like their owners?

I think most of you are familiar with pictures joking about the physical similarities between owners and their pets. Do pets start to look like their owners or did the owner choose a pet that looks like them?
The more interesting question is whether owners’ and pets’ characters are similar. Research suggests cats and owners strongly influence each other’s behaviour, especially if the cat lives indoor only and if the owner is a woman!

The study also showed that cats remember when they are treated kindly and this directly affects how they react to their owners’ wishes. Cats were more likely to respond to their owner’s request for affection when that person had taken care of their needs in the past.

“A relationship between a cat and a human can involve mutual attraction, personality compatibility, ease of interaction, play, affection and social support,” said co-author Dorothy Gracey of the University of Vienna. “A human and a cat mutually develop complex ritualized interactions that show substantial mutual understanding of each other’s inclinations and preferences.”

While cats have plenty of male admirers, and vice versa, this study and others reveal that women tend to interact with their cats… more than men do.

“In response, the cats approach female owners more frequently, and initiate contact more frequently (such as jumping on laps) than they do with male owners,” co-author Manuela Wedl of the University of Vienna told Discovery News, adding that “female owners have more intense relationships with their cats than do male owners.”

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Do Cat Fences Really Work?

* Originally written by Rebecca Owens for ProtectaPet

This is a question we get from cat owners all the time. When you first see an outdoor fence system designed to contain pets without a roof barrier, people are left scratching their heads as to why their cat can’t climb over. Let us tell you how it works!

The science

The movement required to climb over our cleverly designed overhang fencing doesn’t come naturally to a cat. In order to do so, a cat would need to climb and then flip over the lip of the fence.

Although cat’s are arboreal creatures and it’s in their nature to climb trees, we still hear of countless tales of cats becoming stuck and unable to get back down again. This is a similar problem for cats when it comes to cat fencing.

PetMD.com says; “It’s really easy for cats to climb trees—cat claws are the ideal tools for propelling them upwards… “A cat in a tree may have trouble coordinating their hind and front feet when they try to back down. It’s just not a movement cats normally do,” says Susan Bulanda, a canine and feline ethologist, author, and search and rescue trainer who lives in Maryland.”  

This doesn’t mean they won’t try! Your determined feline friend may try to get over the fence, but after a couple of failed attempts and a damaged ego, normally cats quickly become comfortable within their safe territory. 

Patented technology

We created our intuitive design to save pets out of love for our own. You can read more about out story here. Our products are patented and designed by international-leaders in cat proofing. We have been constantly improving our design of cat fence barriers and other containment systems since 2009.

The ProtectaPet® logo on your fencing brackets acts as an assurance of quality that you are receiving the very best in cat fencing solutions. 

Agile and strong breeds

We have developed the ‘Bengal Bend’ on our 70cm overhang. The double bend in the bracket gives enhanced protection for the strongest and most agile breeds.

If you’re concerned about your cat being able to break through the mesh or brackets due to strength, you can be assured in knowing that we use powder-coated steel for strength, sleek aesthetics and durability. The fencing is low maintenance and long life in use. The mesh is exclusively manufactured for ProtectaPet, so you won’t find it anywhere else!

ProtectaPet Disclaimer

We have kept over 17,000 cats safe within their garden, if you read our reviews you will be hard pushed to find an example of a cat escaping over the cat fence barrier. Escapes can happen if the barrier is not fitted according to the manual: there must be at least 6ft between the ground and the barrier and no plant pots or wheelie bins that could provide leap points. There are a few rare examples of particularly agile cats that have managed to get over the barrier. If you’re concerned that your cat would be able to get over the barrier after reading this post, then please get in touch for a bespoke quote for a catio or other mesh roofed solution.

How to help our arthritic cats

I’ve published this before but want to share it with you again to mark World Arthritis Day.

arthritis day 12 October

* Originally written by me for citikiti.co.uk

From the ICatCare Conference

Like people and dogs, aging cats can suffer from arthritis. In itself this doesn’t sound too surprising, but this disease has been under-diagnosed. In part, this is because cats rarely show signs of illness unless and until they are seriously ill; in part this is because symptoms of arthritis can easily be dismissed as signs of ‘old age’. Astonishingly, research has shown that around 90% of cats older than 12 years suffer from joint disease.

Arthritis is very painful, but many cats will try to hide the fact they are suffering. However, there are signs your cat may be suffering from arthritis. One of the things you may notice is that your cat no longer jumps up or down or is quite hesitant to do so. You may notice their legs are stiff, especially after the cat has been resting for a while.

They may sleep more and play less. Your cat may be a bit grumpy when you pick him up or stroke him. And because their joints are painful it may be difficult for them to use the litter tray: you may notice ‘bum sticking out’ types of litter tray accidents or an accident near the tray because the cat couldn’t manage to posture correctly inside the tray.

International Cat Care has created a checklist that you can use if you suspect your cat may be suffering from joint disease: https://icatcare.org/…/kcfin…/images/mobility_check-list.pdf

Obviously, a vet needs to make the diagnosis and will discuss treatment with you.

Besides medical treatment there are many things we can do at home to make our aging cats’ lives a bit easier.
• Make sure the cat’s sleeping & hiding places are easily accessible: either build steps or a ramp so your cat doesn’t have to jump to get to his favourite resting places. And give your cat soft and warm beds.
• Provide a large litter tray that is easy to step in to and out of: either make sure the litter tray has a lowered side so your cat doesn’t have to lift its legs too much or build a ramp for easy access. Use sandy litter, that is nice and soft underneath their feet.
• Food and water should be within easy reach: provide raised bowls so they don’t have to stretch their neck too much to reach it.
• Food, water and litter trays should preferably be available on every level of the house so your cat doesn’t have to go up- or downstairs to use these essential resources. Walking up and down the stairs can be quite painful for the arthritic cat.
• If your cat uses a cat flap: provide steps or a ramp on either side of the cat flap for easy access.
• Maintain a healthy weight: extra weight just put more pressure on those painful joints.

And let’s not forget some TLC: groom and play with your cat. Your cat will have more difficulty grooming himself, but most cats enjoy feeling prim and proper. They will be quite grateful to receive some gentile grooming with a soft brush.

Play with your cats too. Cats are naturally playful and frequent short play sessions will help ease the pain in their joints. Hunting style games are interactive and mimic the cat’s natural behaviour, so he will surely appreciate this. And of course it’s fun for you too

For more information about arthritis in cats see International Cat Care’s website.

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Giving your cat pills

As a cat sitter I regularly need to give pills to my clients’ cats. Some cats have a reputation for spitting out the pills even when they have seemingly swallowed it. They walk away and when you walk over to see them a few minutes later there’s a pill on the floor. Other cats are very relaxed about it: they just eat a pill when it’s mixed in with their food (dry or wet) or hidden inside a treat.

And then there’s my own cat…. He’s generally placid, as those of you who regularly read about Dirk will know, but try giving him worm treatment…. You can hide it in his wet food (which he only gets as a treat) and he won’t touch it. He won’t even eat it if I crush the pill into a very fine powder and then mix it into his food – which works fine with his fibre supplement. I brush his teeth so he is quite used to me restraining him, opening his jaw and putting a toothbrush in his mouth so that can’t really be it either.

In fairness to Dirk – or perhaps just to make myself feel better – I blame the size of the pills. He needs XL sized worm tablets as he is over 4kg. Or perhaps it is the smell and/or taste because breaking the pills into two doesn’t help much either. Maybe this is his one act of defiance, his one thing to show me he’s still a wild cat at heart 🙂

Because Dirk is such a tricky customer when it comes to worm treatment I have tried a lot of things! Everything works once; second time I try it Dirk is having none of it. However, these might work for you so here’s what I’ve tried so far.

My husband restrained Dirk anrestraind I tilted his head back just as is shown in the video on International Cat Care’s website. I put the pill inside and then released my grip on his head but kept his mouth closed. What happened next? Foaming at the mouth, angry growling noises, he was doing everything he could to escape. I was afraid that I’d hurt him because I saw blood in his mouth only to discover that is was MY blood because he’d bitten my fingers! It started with all of us being calm and I was gently reassuring Dirk that everything was going to be all right but it ended with everyone being upset and the pill on the floor.

popperThe pill popper was a promising idea. My fingers wouldn’t need to go inside Dirk’s mouth and you can put the popper in the back of the throat so the cat is more likely to swallow it whole. The vet showed me how to do it and it worked. However, the warning signs were there as Dirk had the most angry look on his face afterwards. Needless to say it didn’t work when we tried it at home a few months later.

pocket

Next we tried the pill pocket. I’ve been using this quite a lot with clients’ cats so I was optimistic. I broke the pill into two halves and put each half inside a pocket. I first gave Dirk an empty pocket so he could taste it and see it as a treat. He loved it! I was a bit worried he’d smell the pill inside, but he ate the first pocket with half a pill inside without problems. Great! Except he then refused to eat the second half.
Back to the vet for more ideas.

paste
The vet nurse recommended a sort of paste. She said it had made her life so much easier as she sometimes was the only one on shift and needed to administer pills by herself. Just warm the paste in your hand and them wrap it around the pill and the cat will happily eat it. Well true enough, Dirk happily ate it…. Just the once. Now he won’t even eat the paste itself.

 

As Dirk is an indoor only cat we’ve resorted to the vet giving him his worm treatment during his check-ups. Dirk goes every 6 months because he’s getting a bit older so now he gets worm treatment twice a year. Not ideal, but we keep his flea treatment up to date so the vet is OK with this worm treatment regime.