Category Archives: cats

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.

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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.

How to Bathe a Cat, and Live to Tell About It!

By Julia Williams

Do cats even need baths? Yes and no. For the most part, cats are remarkably self cleaning. However, there are times when you might want to give your cat a bath. Cats that are allowed outside can get things like motor oil and grease on them, and should be bathed immediately so they don’t ingest these toxic substances.

Bathing a cat can help with flea infestations, provided you use other flea control methods too. Some cats are highly sensitive to flea bites, and a single flea can cause extreme itching, scratching and skin irritations. One of mine is, and to combat this I bathe him with an herbal flea shampoo with oatmeal and aloe, which does help.

Most cats loathe getting wet, which makes giving them a bath somewhat problematic. They can turn into screeching beasts that bite and claw wildly in a frantic attempt to get out of the water. If possible, have someone help you. When bathing a cat, four hands are better than two if you want kitty to stay put until you’re done instead of dashing for the bedroom closet.

Although I’ve seen videos of cats who sit calmly and unrestrained while getting a bath, most felines are quite the opposite. For those cats, here’s how to make this experience less traumatic for both of you.

Gather Your Supplies

Prior to bathing your cat, you’ll want to obtain:

● Cat shampoo (human shampoo and soap are too harsh for a cat’s skin).
● Ophthalmic ointment, to keep the shampoo from irritating their eyes.
● Rubber anti-slip mat, to keep your cat from sliding around in the sink.
● Grooming comb or brush; cotton balls
● Large unbreakable cup for scooping water
● Soft towel and (optional) blow drier

Before the Bath

Groom your cat to remove any mats and loose fur, and be sure to brush out the thick undercoat of long-haired cats. This is also a good time to check for any lumps, sores or other skin problems. The most crucial pre-bath procedure, however, is clipping your cat’s nails. I don’t recommend ever skipping this step, because there’s a very good chance your skin will be shredded by sharp claws if you do.

Next, assemble the supplies next to your chosen bathing area. I use my kitchen sink because it’s large and at a good height. Make sure the air temperature is comfortably warm and that your cat will also have a warm place to dry after the bath.

Just prior to the bath, place cotton balls in your cat’s ears and apply the eye ointment. Mix a small amount of the cat shampoo in some warm water; this will help you lather up your cat, and isn’t as shocking as cold shampoo.

During the Bath

Fill the sink with lukewarm water – three or four inches should suffice. Hold your cat firmly with both hands and gently lower them into the water. It may help to speak soothing words to your cat, who probably won’t appreciate being put into the water and may try to kick, bite and scratch her way out of the sink. If this happens, try to stay as calm as possible, because your cat will pick up on your anxiety, which will only make the situation worse.

Using the large cup, pour lukewarm water over your cat from the neck down. Cats generally dislike sprays, so I don’t recommend using the sink’s sprayer attachment to wet them down. Next, pour the diluted shampoo over them and gently lather up their back, neck, legs, tail and belly. If needed, a dab of shampoo on a wet washcloth can be used to gently clean their face. Rinse the cloth well and use it to remove soap residue. Be careful not to get shampoo in their eyes, nose, mouth or ears, and never pour water over your cat’s head.

Rinsing thoroughly to remove all traces of soap residue is a vital step in giving a cat a bath. I usually drain the sink and pour lukewarm water over my cat using my large cup, at least five or six times. The longer the hair, the more you will need to rinse.

After the Bath

Wrap your cat in a dry towel and blot their fur. You might want to warm the towel in the dryer first, to make it more soothing. Short-haired cats can get by with a good towel drying, provided they have a nice warm spot to retreat to until fully dry. Long-haired cats should really be completely dried and brushed before being let loose. A low-noise blowdrier with a low-heat setting is useful for finishing the drying process, although many cats find it too frightening.

Because you probably won’t need to give your cat a bath very often, they may never get used to it, and likely won’t enjoy it. But if you follow these suggestions for how to bathe a cat, both of you should be able to survive the experience relatively unscathed!

Photo courtesy of Gayle Lindgren

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.

Are “Dog People” and “Cat People” Really Different?

By Linda Cole

We are attracted to certain types of pets just as we are to specific types of people. All animals are worthy of our compassion, and choosing either a dog or cat to share our home with is a reflection on our personality.

There’s something mystical about a cat. They cuddle with us on their terms. Most will come when called, but only if they think there’s something in it for them. I’m pretty sure mine enjoy seeing their frantic owner comb every known hiding spot in the house looking for them as they watch from a newly discovered spot. I love a cat’s independence and how the intensity in her body grows as she watches a squirrel or bird perch on a tree branch in front of the window separating them.

Dog people and cat people do have good reasons why they prefer one over the other. But as much as I love cats, dogs also have a special place in my heart. I love how a dog greets you no matter how long you’ve been gone. Cats miss us too, but they are often too proud to let us know. A dog wants to be with us all the time and they always have a smile in their eyes. I don’t think of myself as a dog or cat person, just an animal person.

According to a study that was done in 2008 by the American Veterinary Medical Association, “cat people” are more likely to be single with multiple cats; “dog people” are typically married with kids and have just one dog in the home. But with so many variables in the equation, this generalization seems rather pointless.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recently conducted an online survey to find out if there really is a difference between cat people and dog people. Their study is called the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project, and they asked participants questions to measure five different personality traits. Around 4,500 people answered questions that measured openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness and extraversion (this spelling is correct and is the same as extrovert). The researchers used these five personality traits in earlier studies to measure responses, and believe most people fall into one of the categories.

What they found was that people who consider themselves to be dog people tend to be more outgoing and social. Cat people, according to their study, are more neurotic yet open. The openness in this case means creative, philosophical, curious, imaginative, or more in touch with their own feelings.

The University of Texas at Austin study has not been published yet, so I’ll reserve judgment until it’s available to the public to read. The small bit of general information that has already been released has created controversy and defensive reactions from pet owners. Neurotic, after all, is a pretty strong word to label cat people with. The information that’s been released is more of a generalization of the five personality types. The study was only for differences between dog people and cat people based on how they viewed themselves. Some considered themselves to be dog people but they own cats, or cat people with dogs. Some of the respondents didn’t even own a pet.

What’s useful about the Texas study is when matching up a therapy animal with a patient, understanding a person’s preference can make a difference by using an animal the person relates to best. But do we really want to stereotype someone based on their choice in pets? And where do households with both dogs and cats fit into the study?

The study also found that some people may prefer dogs, but have cats because that’s the pet that fits best into their lifestyle or work schedule at the moment. Cat people may have a certain breed of dog because that’s the pet that works best for someone in the home with allergies.

Studies are useful in providing an insight into how people see themselves. However, I’m not convinced that placing a label on a person from a generalized statement is convincing as far as determining a difference between dog people and cat people. The way I see it, we are pet parents who are enriched with the love we give and receive from our pets. A preference does play a role in our choice, but regardless of whether we have cats or dogs, labels mean nothing to them and they accept us for who we are. And so should we.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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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.