Category Archives: cats

Musings of an Animal Shelter Volunteer

By Kevin Hattori

My wife Tracey and I are often told that volunteering regularly at our local, no-kill animal shelter is “nice” and “selfless,” but we’d venture to say we get just as much – if not more – out of our experiences there than the cats with which we work.

I’ve been volunteering at the Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) for more than 13 years, and Tracey’s been doing so for about seven. We both feel the lessons and rewards that come from working with these incredible animals are exponentially greater than the time we’ve given.

People often ask what motivates us to spend every Saturday and Sunday afternoon socializing the cats of PAWS. Well, first of all, we’re huge proponents of adopting from shelters (something instilled in us from an early age). Growing up, all of our respective families’ pets were rescues, or from shelters. Our current cats Sammy and Moosey were both adopted from PAWS, and our Angel cats – Bitsy, Graphite, Lady Madonna, and Maggie – were all rescues, too.

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How to Make Your Human Do What You Want

By Rocky Williams

I am ecstaticat that my “Warden” is letting me write another guest post here. Well, actually I demanded it, and since I have her wrapped around my little paw, she had to say yes. So today I want to offer a sort of “public service” post for the cats of the world. First things first – all human beans need to click away now – this information is not for you! Don’t make me hunt you down and claw you up, because I will.

Okay…onward. As a cat, I’ve learned many things about how to get my way. Once you understand a few simple rules, your Warden will be putty in your paws, and you’ll be able to do anything you want to.

Rule #1: Be Persistent

When my Warden is lying on her back in bed, her plump tummy makes a very comfy pillow. I climb onto it. “Ooof, Rocky! You’re too heavy,” she says, pushing me off (yes, I am a BIG boy!). Undeterred, I climb back on. She pushes me off, again and again. But here’s the thing: a determined cat will always be able to outlast a human bean. Guaranteed! All you have to do is be persistent, and eventually they will give up. I use this technique for when I want to counter surf too. The Warden knows it’s fruitless to make me get down, because I’ll just get right back up there.


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Ocicats May Look Wild, But They’re Tame at Heart


By Julia Williams

I vividly recall the first time I saw an Ocicat many years ago. I was at a cat show, and we were making the rounds looking at all of the different breeds. I stared at this exquisite spotted cat, certain that it wasn’t a domestic breed but rather, a jungle cat like those I’d seen at a wildlife park. Indeed, the aptly named Ocicat does resemble the ocelot, a wild “big cat” that is currently on the endangered species list. The similarities end there, however, as the domestic Ocicat’s temperament is anything but ferocious.

The French writer Fernand Méry, who penned several books about cats, is quoted as saying “God made the cat in order that humankind might have the pleasure of caressing the tiger.” Indeed, what cat fancier hasn’t entertained thoughts of peacefully co-existing among jungle cats in the wild? The tame-at-heart Ocicat allows us a taste of the exotic without the danger and unpredictable nature of a wild cat. For those who love domestic cats that look wild but will happily curl up on your lap, the beautiful Ocicat is a perfect choice. Had I not been owned by several garden-variety cats, I might well have taken an Ocicat home that day.

History of the Ocicat

The Ocicat is a fairly recent breed of domestic cat. The first Ocicat, a male named Tonga, was born in Berkeley, Michigan in 1964. While trying to produce a Siamese cat with Abyssinian markings, noted CFA breeder Virginia Daly accidentally produced an ivory kitten with golden spots. Upon seeing this unusual “ocelot look-alike,” Mrs. Daly’s daughter suggested they name the spotted kitten an Ocicat, and a new breed was born.

Other breeders soon took on the challenge of refining the breed, mating Ocicats with American Shorthairs. The Ocicat is the only spotted domestic breed of cat selectively bred to emulate its spotted feline cousins in the wild. The Ocicat was recognized for CFA registration in 1966 and was advanced to championship status in 1987. Today, Ocicats are frequently seen at cat shows in the U.S., and some have been exported to other countries where their popularity is steadily rising.

Appearance of the Ocicat

The Ocicat is a medium to large size feline with long legs and an athletic appearance: well muscled and broad chested, yet lithe and graceful. It has a wedge-shaped face with almond-shaped eyes, a short nose, and widely spaced ears that are sometimes tufted. Ocicats have the tabby “M” marking on their forehead, mascara markings around the eyes and on their cheeks, and rows of round spots that run along the spine from their shoulder blade to their tail. Spots are also scattered across their shoulders and hindquarters, extending down the legs.

The Ocicat’s short coat has a glossy sheen that beautifully shows off its spots and muscles. There are twelve accepted Ocicat colors: tawny, chocolate, cinnamon, blue, lavender, fawn, silver, chocolate silver, cinnamon silver, blue silver, lavender silver, and fawn silver.

Personality of the Ocicat

The Ocicat is a confident, playful, active and affectionate breed that loves human company, so much so that they often follow people from room to room observing them as they go about their daily routine. Most are not afraid of new experiences and are quite extroverted around strangers. They also usually get along with children, dogs and other cats. Because of their sociable nature, Ocicats do better in a household where they are not left alone for extended periods.

The Ocicat is a very intelligent breed that is easily trained. Some have even learned how to open doors and perform characteristically “dog-like” behaviors like fetching and walking on a leash. The Ocicat’s mellow nature, coupled with the ability to easily adapt to changes in their environment, make them a wonderful show cat and fine travel companion. There are no genetic health problems associated with the Ocicat breed.

If you love the “jungle cat look” but want a laid-back, friendly feline, the Ocicat is the perfect breed for you. I know I am smitten by them, and if I ever do decide to get a purebred, the Ocicat is high on my list.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Keep the Peace in a Multi-Cat Household


By Julia Williams

I have been a multi-cat household for most of my adult life. Though some of my cats have not been the “best of friends,” most of the time they peacefully co-exist. There have been times, though, when I returned home to find what seemed like half a cat’s worth of fur on the carpet – telltale remnants of a feline quarrel. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often, but no matter how well two cats may seem to get along, I think there will always be minor squabbles now and then. Cats are relatively solitary creatures by nature, and turf tiffs may be an unavoidable occurrence in multiple-cat homes.

Cats who usually get along may sometimes clash out of jealousy. This happens in my household when I pay too much attention to my female cat who is, admittedly, my favorite. It seems like every time I finish brushing Belle, one or both of my two male cats will chase her until she cowers under the table, hissing and growling. I’ve no doubt that if she didn’t run and hide, this altercation would turn into a fight. I used to scold the male cats, but this only made them angry and more aggressive towards Belle. My solution is to either give the two male cats attention first, or brush Belle when they are sleeping soundly in the other room. This usually works, but if they do happen to become aggressive towards her, I simply clap my hands or give a loud, high-pitched “Hey!” or “No!” Another good way to break up a minor cat spat is with a squirt of water. It startles them but doesn’t hurt them, and their hatred of H2O trumps their desire to fight.

Cat fights are usually about dominance and asserting “top cat” status as well as defending their perceived territory. There may also be an “alpha cat” issue in a multi-cat household. Although most people think of dogs and wolves when they hear the term “alpha,” there are alpha cats too. This is readily apparent in feral colonies, where alpha cats are seen being very aggressive to the other cats, which enables them to get more food. Alpha cats are very headstrong and always want their own way. They may bite and scratch their owner or other animals as a way to control them, so that they get what they want.

Proper introductions can go a long way toward creating a peaceful multi-cat household. Don’t bring a new cat home and simply plop them together and say, “Meet your new friend!” This will never turn out well. The cats need to have separate living, eating and sleeping quarters until they become adjusted to this new change in their routine. Some say it need only be a few days, while others maintain it should be at least a week to ten days. It may also help to swap their bedding and toys so they can become accustomed to the other’s scent. The last step before putting them together (supervised of course), is to switch areas, i.e. let the newcomer explore the house for a few hours while confining your other cat(s) to the new cat’s room.

I recently read about another method of “encouraging” cats to get along. I hesitate to mention it since I’ve not tried it myself, but I find the idea intriguing, if a bit odd. Supposedly, if you smear both cats with the juice from a can of tuna and put them together in a room, they’ll engage in a mutual lick-fest which results in good feelings that carry over to their daily lives. Knowing how much cats love that stinky tuna juice, it might be worth a try, but only with cats who are not overly aggressive towards each other. Regardless, you should stay in the room with them to carefully monitor their behavior.

Other suggestions for keeping the peace in a multi-cat household include:

• Neuter male cats to help curb aggressive tendencies.
• Separate their resources by keeping each cat’s food bowls, bed and litter box in a different room.
• Provide cat trees and perches for them in different rooms so they can have some space when they want it.
• Reward your cats with praise or treats when they interact in a friendly manner.
• Pheromones and homeopathic remedies may reduce the stress levels of two cats who aren’t getting along.
• Consult a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist to evaluate the problem. You can find a list here.
• Read Cat Vs. Cat: Keeping Peace When You Have More Than One Cat, by Pam Johnson-Bennett. I just ordered this book because it sounds great and has gotten really good reviews. The book purports to show “how to plan, set up, and maintain a home environment that will help multiple cats—and their owners—live in peace.” The book also covers how to diffuse tension, prevent squabbles and ambushes, and blend two families. It sounds like a terrific resource that every responsible pet owner with cats should read.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Why Cats Paint…and Why Paint Cats?


By Julia Williams

I recently received an email from a friend that had dozens of pictures of elaborately painted cats. The email claimed that many pet owners were partaking in a new fad of having their cats painted by professional artists. Supposedly, people paid as much as $15,000 to have their cats painted, and the paint jobs would need to be repeated every three months as the cat’s fur grew out.

My first thoughts were (in this order): gosh, that can’t be healthy for the cats to lick the paint off their fur; $60 grand a year to paint your cat? Some people have too much disposable income; and finally – this can’t be real…can it? With that last thought, I realized I had to consult my good friend “Mr. Google” to ferret out the truth.

I discovered that this email featuring stunningly painted felines, like so many other emails, is a hoax. It’s an offshoot of two “art” books about cats by Heather Busch and Burton Silver. The first was Why Cats Paint: A Theory of Feline Aesthetics. Following the huge success of this first book, the authors released a second title, Why Paint Cats: the Ethics of Feline Aesthetics. Whereas the first book discussed cats as artists, the follow-up featured cats as canvasses.

These books are widely believed to be well-crafted spoofs, but they’re written so convincingly that many people, including some professional book reviewers, have taken them seriously. The first book purports to be “an unprecedented photographic record of cat creativity that will intrigue cat-lovers and art-lovers alike.” In a style that persuasively mimics art criticism, Why Cats Paint discusses the many different aspects of feline creativity, with representative works from the best known cat artists around the world. The authors allege that cats who paint are aesthetically motivated, and their works should be regarded as genuine art.

That sounds a lot like the stuffy high-brow world of art criticism, doesn’t it? But then the authors come up with this little gem: “While we hope this book will inspire readers to carefully examine paw patterns in litter trays for examples of aesthetic intent…it is not our intention to give instruction on methods of encouraging cats to paint.” In other words, be on the lookout for “art” when you’re cleaning your cat’s litter box. Haha! That image is amusing enough, but this Newsweek quote made me giggle: “Yes, cats can paint. The phenomenon has to do with territorial marking, acrylic paint smelling a little like cat pee, and a lot of pet spare time.”

The second book, Why Paint Cats: the Ethics of Feline Aesthetics, has spawned countless discussions about the propriety and potentially harmful effects of painting designs onto a cat’s fur. Although the authors will not admit that the pictures were achieved through computer imaging (i.e., photoshop magic), it’s pretty hard to imagine that anyone would really think painting their cat is a good idea. For one thing, how are you supposed to keep them still long enough to a) paint them and b) allow the paint to dry?

Then again, we’ve all seen people do incredibly dumb things, so is painting cats as farfetched as it might seem? I don’t know. I do know that, photoshopped or not, I really enjoyed looking at the amazing pictures of the painted cats. Cats are transformed into butterflies, belly dancers, the night sky and American flags. They sport rainbow colors on their faces and flanks, and clowns on their backsides. Which, by the way, was probably the inspiration for this: “By the time you finish flipping through Why Paint Cats…you’ll have more questions than answers. Seeing Charlie Chaplin’s face painted on a cat’s rump has that effect.”—Heather McKinnon, Seattle Times.

If you are a fan of felines, I think you would really enjoy reading Why Cats Paint and Why Paint Cats. I must offer two caveats about these books though. First, look for the large, coffee table editions and not the miniaturized ones, as the downsizing does significantly reduce their overall amusement. Secondly, please do not attempt to paint your own cat. Besides endangering your beloved feline, you risk great peril to your own limbs, which would surely be scratched and clawed to bits during such a foolish endeavor.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Feline Health Concerns


By Suzanne Alicie

Cats seem to be pretty easy pets to care for; all they really ask for are food, water and a clean litter box. But felines in general have many health concerns that responsible pet owners should be aware of and discuss with their veterinarian.

Hairballs – Because cats groom themselves they are always swallowing loose hair. Occasionally this hair forms into a ball and lodges in the cat’s stomach; your cat may do a great deal of coughing and hacking to dislodge the hairball, eventually coughing it up and out. If your cat is unable to expel a hairball then it is time to take action. There are over the counter medications that you can use to help the cat pass the hairball one way or the other, or you can visit your vet and he will administer a treatment after examining the cat to make sure there are no other problems.

Worms – Roundworms, tapeworms, hook worms and even heartworms can affect your cat. If left untreated, worms can be fatal to your feline friend. You can take your cat to the vet to be checked for worms and choose the best treatment for the specific type of worms.

Urinary Tract Infections – Bladder problems are common in both sexes of cats; however male cats risk a life threatening blockage due to urinary and bladder infections. A veterinarian should examine any cat you believe has a UTI or any problems with urination.

Fleas – Flea infestations cause anemia and have been known to kill kittens. Many times you can deal with fleas at home with flea dips and treatments to prevent infestation, but in the case of kittens younger than 6 months you should contact your vet before using any topical treatments. Linda Cole has written two helpful articles on how to fight fleas: Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats, and Winter is the Best Time to Fight Fleas.

Cat Flu – This viral infection that affect the upper respiratory tract can make your cat very sick, and can even kill young kittens and older cats. Pus leaking from the eyes, sneezing and thick discharge from the nose, fever or loss of appetite are all symptoms of cat flu. A veterinarian should be consulted immediately if your cat is displaying any of these symptoms.

FIV – Also known as feline AIDS, this disease lowers the cat’s immunity to common infections. A cat that suffers a long list of illnesses is commonly found to have FIV. While there is no vaccine for FIV, all cats should be tested so that preventive steps can be taken.

Feline Leukemia Virus – Thanks to a recent vaccine, FLV is no longer the most common fatal disease in cats. Cats that contract FLV rarely have a long life expectancy, and all cats should be immunized while young before they are in contact with any other cat that may have FLV.

Abscessed Wounds – The skin on a cat is tough and does not tear easily. This means that when a cat gets a scratch or bite the skin heals over quickly, often trapping bacteria underneath. These bacteria can cause your cat to become very ill as the infection spreads. An abscess can rupture on its own releasing thick yellow pus. If you clean this with warm salt water or peroxide the abscess will usually heal with no further problems. If an abscess does not rupture you should take your cat to the vet so that he can drain it and resolve the infection with antibiotics.

By keeping a close eye on your cat and his behavior, you can many times head off any health concerns before they become a problem.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.