Lando Enzo tabby cat

Arthritis and Osteoarthritis in Cats

Charlie ShortTail

Arthritis explained

Arthritis is a degenerate joint disease. In simple terms it means that the cartilage around the bones has worn away causing the bones to rub together; this causes inflammation, swelling and pain. Arthritis used to be thought to be uncommon in cats, but this is mainly because cats mask weakness or pain very well and therefore we may be unaware that they are suffering.

X-ray of cat bone

Why do cats get arthritis?

Arthritis can result from an old injury, such as a sprain or fracture or be caused from a bite into the joint which in turn causes infection. This type of arthritis may be seen in younger cats who have suffered a trauma. Older cats are more likely to be suffering from wear and tear to the joints – cruciate ligament damage or deterioration of the cartilage. Many of the arthritis drugs (such as aspirin and phenylbutazone) given to humans and dogs are poisonous to cats so don’t be tempted to give your cat any medication you might be taking yourself.

Osteoarthritis in older cats

This is a chronic condition resulting in the degeneration of the joint which causes erosion (wearing away) of the cartilage. New bone forms around the edges of the joint; the joint swells and becomes painful, the normal cartilage that cushions and protects the joints has degenerated.

For more information on what to expect as your cat gets older

Did you know?

A cat’s skeleton has about 10% more bones than a human body. The skeleton of a feline needs to be strong and flexible but also light.

cat skeleton

The spine – spondylosis

Spondylosis can be due to an excess of vitamin A in the diet (an all liver diet can be a cause as liver is very high in Vitamin A). With more knowledge and a wide variety of quality cat foods this is now rarely seen.

Diagnosis of spondylosis

An x-ray can show if there are bony lesions visible; these lesions will be permanent and require treatment. Anti- inflammatory medication and pain relief can be prescribed by your vet.

How can I tell if my cat has arthritis?

Symptoms of arthritis in cats:

  • Spending more time laying down and sleeping. Being less active.
  • Not being able to jump or climb up stairs
  • Lameness or limping after sleeping,
  • Difficulty using a litter tray
  • Stiffness or swollen joints
  • Not playing as much
  • Not interacting with the family as much
  • Decreased flexibility
  • Less agile
  • Stiff or less active in colder and wetter weather
  • Abyssinian cat lying down

Fact

Arthritis is a progressive and painful condition and can seriously affect your cat’s quality of life.
If you think your cat may have arthritis you should seek advice from your vet.

Diagnosis of arthritis in cats

 

  • Your vet can observe your cat’s movements and examine the cat for flexibility. By manipulating the joints, the vet can detect any stiffness or rigidity
  • X-ray
  • Analysis of samples taken from the affected joints
  • Blood sampling

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Treatment for arthritis in cats

  • Pain relief
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Supplements – for example glucosamine
  • Hydrotherapy
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Maintaining a healthy weight

Pain relief

Metacam (meloxicam) is a licenced treatment for pain relief in cats that your vet can prescribe for chronic pain.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy and gentle massage may help to keep your cats’ joints more mobile.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a complementary treatment that may be of help if your cat is amenable to handling and would tolerate the treatment.

Adequan

This is a product that your vet can inject into the painful joints to help relieve arthritis.

Always seek advice from your vet as to the best way to treat your cat.

Exercise

Gentle exercise can also help to keep the joints mobile.

Dietary supplements

  • Glucosamine and chondroitin
  • Essential fatty acids
  • Turmeric

The above is usually given in combination, for example, Seraquin is a supplement suitable for cats which can be crumbled into food or hidden in treats; it is chewable and has a chicken flavour.

How to make a cat with arthritis more comfortable

Simple steps can help to make life easier and more comfortable for your feline friend.

  • Make sure that your cat has a comfortable bed or soft blanket in a position which is easily reachable to the cat. The cat also needs to feel safe so the ‘igloo’ style bed is ideal for a cat with painful joints as the cat can curl up inside and feel comfy and secure.
  • Ensure that food and water are easy to access.
  • If you provide a litter tray for your cat, make sure it has shallow sides or side so that the cat can use it without causing pain.
  • Cold, damp weather can make the chronic pain worse so make sure your pet is kept nice and warm.
  • Check that your cat can use the cat flap without difficulty – you may need to add a little step if it seems hard for your cat to manoeuvre.
  • If your cat has a special place that it likes but cannot get to (due to not being able to jump) consider providing a ramp for the cat to walk up.
  • Give your cat a gentle massage if he or she is happy to be handled.
  • Groom your pet as a cat with painful joints may find this difficult to do for themselves.
  • Keep your cat a healthy weight to prevent undue strain on the joints. Your vet can weigh your cat and advise if the cat needs to lose weight or if indeed your cat is a good, healthy weight to be maintained. Just as with people being overweight can make the symptoms worse.

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Older cats (senior cats) with arthritis

More than 80% of elderly cats (over the age of 10 years) and 90% of cats over the age of 12 years old will have some level of osteoarthritis. If you think that your cat is just getting slower and sleeping more due to age, then it may be that your cat has chronic pain due to arthritis. Consider taking your cat to the vet to have him or her checked.
The hips, shoulders, spine and elbows are most likely to be affected by wear and tear and degeneration of the cartilage between the joints. This means that the bones rub together causing pain, swelling and stiffness.

Symptoms of arthritis in older cats

    • More time sleeping, resting and less active
    • Stiffness, lameness
    • Inability to jump or climb
    • Not grooming or overgrooming the affected joint
    • Less interaction
    • Irritable when petted or handled

With less activity, some cats may develop overgrown claws so do check your cat, especially if you have an indoor cat.
Keep your cat comfortable, at a healthy weight, adapt his surroundings to suit his mobility and seek medical help from your vet to alleviate the pain of arthritic joints and ease inflammation. Our cats are living longer and there is much we can do to ensure that they have a good quality of life in their senior years.

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Which breeds of cat are more prone to get arthritis?

  • Devon Rex
  • Abyssian
  • Persian
  • Siamese

two persian kittens

You may also like What to expect as your cat gets older

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Grey cat with yellow eyes

Do cats see in colour?

Charlie ShortTail

How does your cat view the world, and can your cat see in colour?

Until recently it was thought that cats did not see colours and were ‘colour blind’. Cats do not see in the same way as dogs, who can see only blue and yellow colours (hues). Indeed, your cat does not see colours in the same way that you do. However, cats have been trained to distinguish between colours and it was shown that the cats were able to tell the difference between red and blue, red and green, blue and yellow and red, yellow and green from grey. Cats do see in colour.

Test your cat to see if he or she can tell the difference between the primary colours.

You will need three identical objects (the same size and shape, but one in red, one in blue and one in yellow). A box is a good object to use. Keep the boxes in the same location for a week. To start the training show your cat that there is a favourite treat in one box (choose red or blue colour) and over a 5 days keep putting the treat in there and show and help your cat to retrieve the treat. After 5 days move the order of the boxes (but leave them in the same place). Does your cat go the correct colour box? This is fun to do especially if you have more than one cat. Some cats are quicker than others so if your cat does not pick the correct box go back to the initial training and then repeat the test. Ask your friends to do the same with their cats and compare results.
Why red or blue? Cats can distinguish red and blue more easily than yellow.

How does a cat’s eye work?

Let’s look at the cat’s eye and the structure of the feline eye.

cats eye

Ocular abilities in cats – why your cat is so good at seeing in the dark

Cats have specialised eyes, being well adapted to their hunting requirements. Cats can see much better in dim light than people, a skill important for night hunting. This enhanced night vision is because the cat’s eye has firstly more rods than in a human eye, but fewer cones. Rods and cones are receptor cells in the retina of the eye, having more rods gives better vision at night although having fewer cones means the image is less sharp. The shape of the reflector cells gives the nerve cells their names – rods and cones.

Why do my cats’ eyes glow in the dark?

In the cat’s eyes is a special light-conserving unit called the ‘tapetum lucidum’. This reflects any light which is not absorbed as it passes through the retina. This mechanism is also why your cat’s eyes glow in the dark – the light hits the cat’s eyes at a certain angle and the cat’s eyes appear to glow in the dark. This ‘glow’ will happen when the cat’s pupil is at its widest.

 

Cats eyes versus human eyes

Cats and humans both have the same type of colour-sensitive cone nerve cells in their eyes. People have about ten times more than cats do – so humans can identify many more subtle shades and colour variations (hues) than cats can.
Humans have better colour vision, although cats do have better colour vision than dogs.
Cats have more rod nerve cells in their eyes and have better sensitivity in dim light.
Cats have a specialised mechanism to reflect more light into the eye. Cats see better in the dark (we all knew that!)
Cats have binocular vision. This means that parts of the field of vision of each eye overlap. Binocular vision is essential for hunting so that the cat can judge distance, depth and size. In simple terms, the cat has three- dimensional vision. Humans also have binocular vision.
Cats are also much more near-sighted than people so humans can see much better at seeing detail close to them. A cat’s vision will be much blurrier when looking at objects very close to them. Cats, however, are much better at spotting movement at a close range – think about when you play with your cat and how quick they are to spot a flick or swish of a cat toy. It also explains why your cat may not see something very close to his or her face.
Cats can see best at around 20 feet away – essential to spot prey. Objects in the distance appear blurry around the edges to cats, helping them focus on the important task of finding prey.

cats eyes blue
Cat’s eyes are less forward-facing and spaced more widely than in humans, this gives the cat a wider range of view, useful for spotting predators. People have a narrower field of vision, but we are better at judging distance and depth.
The cat’s pupil can dilate and change in size dramatically, much more than in humans. This is all about catching as much light as possible. Cats see best at dusk and at dawn – when hunting cats are generally most successful.

Which eyesight is better cat or human?

A cat needs a wide range of vision and better night vision.
Humans need to be able to distinguish between tiny details and be able to judge height, distance and depth accurately. We need to be able to see a wide variety of colour and shades.
We have both adapted to our needs; eyesight is a specialised trait in both cats and humans.

Why do Siamese cats have poorer vision than other cats?

The Siamese cat has a gene which causes abnormal nerve connections between the brain and the eyes. This means that Siamese cats have less developed three-dimensional vision.

 

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ginger cat at the vets

Symptoms and Care of Cat (feline) Asthma

Charlie ShortTail

What is cat (feline) asthma?

Feline asthma is an immunity-related disease and can be triggered by an allergy (environmental or food) or brought on by stress.

It is an allergic respiratory condition which causes chronic inflammation of the small passageways in the lungs (bronchioles) leading to the tightening of the bronchioles causing breathing difficulties.

Symptoms of cat asthma include wheezing, difficulty or laboured breathing and a persistent cough. A cough is a reflex action, triggering the forcing out of air from the chest. Inflammation of the lungs and larynx results in the cat coughing.

It is incurable but the condition is manageable with the right care and medication and cats with the condition normally lead happy and active lives.

IMG_4152

What causes asthma in cats?

Asthma in cats is an immunity-related condition and attacks can often be brought on by an allergy or stress. Possible triggers include pollen, grass, dust mites, tobacco smoke, cat litter, candles, wax melts, cleaning products, mould spores, dyes, smoke from fireplaces, and reactions to some foods – very similar to humans.

This allergic respiratory response often develops between the ages of two and eight years old, with slightly more female cats diagnosed than males; it is less common in older cats. The average age of diagnosis of asthma in cats is between 4 and 5 years old. It is thought that between 1 – 5% of cats suffer from asthma and related respiratory diseases.

What are the symptoms of feline (cat) asthma?

  • Wheezing or blue lips and gums
  • Fast, shallow or difficulty breathing
  • A persistent cough (sometimes with frothy mucus)
  • Gagging (like with a hairball)
  • Difficulty breathing (dyspnoea) after exertion
  • Mouth breathing
  • Neck held upwards and gasping for breath
  • Overall weakness and lethargy (no energy)
  • Gurgling in the cat’s throat
  • Increased swallowing
  • Vomiting

What to do if your cats shows symptoms of asthma

If your cat shows any of the symptoms above, even if they come and go this could be an indication that your cat may have asthma or another respiratory condition; you should speak to your vet and get specialist advice.

Any cough or wheezing is a serious health issue,  it happens because the lungs are inflamed and irritated and are therefore at risk of developing permanent scars on them, causing long-term damage to the small airways.

Asthma can be a life-threatening, causing constriction and obstruction of the airways just as in humans.

When resting or sleeping a cat will normally take in 24 to 30 breaths per minute – anything over 40 may need medical attention (cats may breathe quicker when excited, after exertion or purring). There are apps you can download onto your phone to monitor your cat’s breathing rate. This is also helpful if your cats suffers from heart disease. A cat’s normal breathing or respiratory rate can range from 10 – 30 breaths per minute depending upon, age, breed and state of health.

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Diagnosing feline/ cat asthma

There is no definitive test to accurately diagnose asthma. Other conditions which have similar symptoms will initially need to be ruled out, including heart disease, respiratory infections such as Laryngitis, bronchitis and tracheitis and also heart and lungworm. (Lungworm is a common parasite that the cat can get from eating birds or rodents which are infested with this parasite; symptoms include a dry persistent cough.)

Your vet will listen to your cat’s chest with a stethoscope and may sometimes take a blood test to look for a high concentration of white blood cells, which can be linked to the condition as this a marker for an allergic reaction. Radiographs (X-rays) may also help with the diagnosis, a CT scan is another option your vet may explore in finding a diagnosis.

If the blood test suggests your cat could be suffering from asthma, a chest X-ray can then be used to look at the lungs – although it isn’t always possible to obtain an X-ray if your pet is having a bad attack. Trying to restrain your cat or give sedation could be very dangerous for them and therefore is not a viable option until the cat is breathing more normally. Your vet can advise you on the best course of action as to whether treatment should be given or if diagnostic tests should be attempted. In the early stages of the disease, an x-ray may show up as normal.

There is also a test called Bronchoalveolar Lavage (BAL), which involves taking a mucus sample under anaesthetic from the small airways and studying it under a microscope to look for a specific type of white blood cell.

Your cat may also be prescribed a course of corticosteroids and bronchodilators to see if the symptoms clear up, which if they do, also suggest the presence of feline asthma. Your vet will make a judgement after examining your cat and carrying out the tests most deemed to be appropriate. When a conclusion has been reached treatment can be prescribed to help keep your cat healthy and enjoy a good quality of life.

What are the signs of a feline/ cat asthma attack?

During a minor attack, your cat will normally start coughing and struggle to stop. They are likely to hold their neck out straight and keep their head close to the ground while coughing, and you may be able to hear wheezing.

Asthma causes spasms in the bronchi which in turn leads to swelling in the lining of the airways.

When your cat is having a full-blown asthma attack breathing becomes difficult and your cat’s sides will very visibly heave in and out. They will be unable to do anything else, and in extreme cases can start panting, look frightened and start coughing up mucus as well as drooling. If this happens it’s very important to call the vet right away.

What should I do if my cat has an asthma attack?

If your cat has an attack keep calm, give any medication prescribed by your vet and ensure your cat is kept in a nice cool area with good ventilation; try to reassure your cat.

If your cat is having a severe attack, then contact your vet straight away.

If you need to drive your cat to the surgery, make sure your car is well ventilated, leave the window open to let in plenty of fresh air.

Your cat will be very frightened so try not to add to the stress.

Treatment for feline/ cat asthma

There are two main types of treatment to manage asthma in cats – anti-inflammatory drugs such as corticosteroids to reduce the inflammation which leads to the symptoms, and bronchodilator medication which helps to widen a feline’s air passage when needed. Antihistamine drugs may also be used when cats haven’t responded to other treatments.

Medication is often administered through an inhaler but can also be given in tablet or injection form.  If an inhaler is recommended then make sure you are clear on how to use it. Inhalers for cats are different from human inhalers – you cannot tell a cat to inhale deeply!

Can asthma in cats be prevented?

With a little care and planning some of the triggers for an asthma attack can be avoided:

  • Do not smoke around your pet
  • Don’t spray cleaning products, perfumes, air fresheners or any aerosol products as they can worsen the condition
  • Do not use dusty types or scented cat litters
  • Stress can bring on attacks so try to keep your cat relaxed (if there are other pets in your home make sure your cat has a safe place to hide)

If your cat is overweight this can make the symptoms worse so keep your cat a healthy weight (ask your vet to advise you).

Take a video on your phone to show the vet (it may be upsetting for you, but it will help the vet prescribe the best medication).

Keep a diary of episodes/ attacks and how bad they were to try and build up a picture of what is causing the attacks (triggers).

ginger cat meows welcome to Lovecats
Lovecats

Charlie says:

Remember your cat can have a happy and normal life!

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Why is my cat aggressive?

Charlie ShortTail

11 reasons why your cat may be aggressive:

Fear – your cat may be frightened (you can recognise fear by observing if the ears are held back, if the pupils are dilated, the body may be crouched with the tail tucked underneath).

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Pain – your cat may be in pain (liver or kidney disorders, hormonal problems, arthritis, dental decay, abscesses, bite wounds, infections and high blood pressure can all be medical causes of aggressive behaviour).

egyptian mau cat

Possessive – of food or toys or even of a family member.

cat playing with toy mouse

Territorial – cats are territorial and will defend their territory and you! If you have a new partner your cat may display hissing, staring and growling to show his or her ownership.

Competitive – if you have more than one cat or your cat is in competition with a family member.

Felix sleeping with baby Felix

Maternal – mothers with kittens will be on guard and display aggressive behaviour if they feel threatened or sense danger.

cat with kittens feeding

Dominance – one cat may behave aggressively to show dominance over other family cats or intruders (or visiting pets of friends).

Older black and white cat

Play – your cat may get over stimulated when playing and revert to aggressive hunting behaviour.

Predatory – if your cats is in hunting mode he or she may show aggressive tendencies to others.

catandprey

Pathophysiological – due to an injury or undiagnosed cause or in older cats dementia can cause aggression as the cat becomes disorientated.

Redirected aggression – when your cat is frustrated or agitated then turns on you.

Checklist to help identify causes of aggression in your cat

If your cat is behaving out of character a trip to your vet can help allay any fear that your cat is unwell or in pain.

  • Any recent changes to your home (building works or re-decoration) may upset your cat.
  • Has a family member been absent – cats miss people and may become anxious?
  • A tomcat will benefit from castration to solve any aggressive tendencies.
  • Do you have a new pet? Bringing a new cat or dog into your home could trigger aggressive behaviour as your cat tries to make sure the new arrival understands the pecking order.
  • If your cat is getting agitated by watching another cat or dog outside try blocking the view (closing the curtains or blinds) and allowing the cat to calm down. They may be frustrated as they cannot get to this other animal.

Why is my cat aggressive towards my new partner?

If your cat is displaying attacking behaviour towards your new girl or boyfriend it is probably because your cat is fearful, anxious or confused by the new addition to the household.

Strategies to help to build a bond between your cat and your new partner

cat stepping down the stairs

  • Ask your partner not to force their attention on the cat
  • Tell your partner not to stare at the cat (this can be perceived by your cat as aggressive and challenging behaviour)
  • Suggest to your partner that they feed the cat and give any treats (positive reinforcement of good associations each time the cat is fed)
  • Go slowly and at the cat’s pace with all interactions and gradually encourage your partner to play with the cat to help with the bonding process
  • Patience usually pays off – if your partner is kind the cat will usually start to accept him or her
  • Keep to the usual routines to reassure your cat that everything else in their world is stable

Charlie says:

ginger cat meows welcome to Lovecats
Lovecats

Never punish your cat; look for ways to help your cat become happy, relaxed and at ease with everyone in your household.

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white cat walks along path

Why are cats called ‘cats’?

Charlie ShortTail

Definition of ‘cat’.

A cat is a small domesticated mammal kept as a pet and also found as feral (wild) in the countryside. A cat has soft fur, four legs and a tail and is a predatory animal catching mice and other small creatures.

white cat with heart

‘Cat’ name in different European countries

There are many similar variations of the name ‘cat’ for instance:
French: chat
Swedish: katt
Norwegian: katt
German: Katze
Italian: Gatto
Dutch: Kat
There are many other slight variations of the name ‘cat’  used throughout Europe.

Turkish Van cat showing colours

In Turkey the word for cat is ‘kedi’ which may be where our word ‘kitty’ is derived from.
The word ‘puss’ or ‘pussy’ is linked back to the Egyptian cat goddess ‘Pasht’.
It is widely believed that the Egyptians domesticated cats descended from the North African wild cat (Felix Lybica).
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‘Cat’ refers to domesticated felines and also wild cats such as lions, tigers, panthers, leopards and forest cats.

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cats teeth and mouth

Do cats have lips?

Charlie ShortTail

Cats do have lips

Our feline friends do indeed have lips. As mammals, they are born with the ability to suck or suckle (this is known as a primary reflex). This is instinctive behaviour and does not need to be learned.

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Cats lips

The lips tend to be small and may be hidden with fur. The bottom lip is fuller, whilst the top lip is quite thin and not clearly visible. The lips contain a scent gland; this gland is used for marking territory. Your cat may also rub against you to mark you as his or her own. If you bring something new into to your home your cat will rub against it and leave it’s scent on the new object.

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If a cat has a swollen lip he or she may have been stung by an insect or have rubbed against a plant causing an allergic reaction.

The colour of cat lips

White and lighter coloured cats, including ginger cats tend to have pink lips. Black, grey and tabby cats generally have black lips, although some cats may have lips which are pink and black (common in tortoiseshell cats).

 

mewcat

The pink lower lip of this cat is clearly seen, whilst the thinner upper lip is covered in fur.

 

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Cats with sixth sense

Do cats have a sixth sense?

Charlie ShortTail

Does your cat have extra-sensory powers?

Would most cats owners’ answer ‘yes’?

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Everything is calm and quiet, there is no noise or movement yet your cat or kitty raises it’s hackles. The term ‘hackles’ means to have the back arched, fur standing up, ears held back, eyes with the pupils dilated, tail twitching and possibly matched with hissing. The cat is in extra-sensory perception arousal, listening, detecting smells and other signals which we are not aware of. Cats can be aware of approaching danger (such as storms, vibrations – including volcanic eruptions, or approaching animals or strangers). Our cats are simply using their finely tuned senses to monitor their surroundings. Cats have amazing brains and intelligence; they may not be ‘mystic’ or have ESP but they are truly astonishing.

forest-cat


In Medieval times cats were linked to witchcraft and were very misunderstood. Some people believed that witches could turn themselves into cats. There are old-wives tales of cats smothering babies and yet a cat would not deliberately harm a baby; they are naturally curious and may want to check out the new arrival to the family. Black cats have been thought to be unlucky and still to this day black cats are harder to re-home than other types of cat. Black cats are magnificent and are as loving as any other type of cat.

Havana cat

Cats have well-developed senses, impressive homing abilities and should never be underestimated.

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Charlie relaxes on the sofa

Charlie ShortTail and the Horrid Creature

Charlie ShortTail

 

 

Charlie ShortTail has a scary encounter with “the Horrid Creature”.

I was out for a nice, relaxing evening stroll and then I saw it, the horrid creature.🙀

Charlie on evening walk

It was smelly, hairy and it had slobber drooling from it’s mouth.

I cringed, drew back and felt the fur on my back rise and bristle. My tiny (but very cute) tail bushed up in fear.

It was the man next door!

I ran quickly to hide under the bushes. Lando was nowhere to be seen. He’s supposed to be on guard.

The creature’s big feet thumped along the path to Mama’s house; the man rang the door bell. What could he want? I hoped I could sneak into the shadows and climb over the wall to safety. With a swift jump I was gone! I couldn’t risk him seeing me. What if he tried to touch me?

The creature spoke in a loud, deep voice but I couldn’t understand what the man was saying.

It got worse, the ‘Dad’ opened the door and let the horrid creature into Mama’s  house.

The creatures clothes were tatty, dirty, smelly and oily. He had huge, scary boots. What could he possibly want?

I leapt quickly over the side roof, and ran along the hedges to the back garden to warn Lando.

This was a disaster. When would it be safe to go home?

Mama came into the garden and called us. “Charlie”, “Lando” she called; we crept out of the thick bushes with trepidation.

“What is wrong?” She asked. We looked towards the house…. Mama knows we are scared of him.

Oh! Him, he has just bought some eggs for us … “come in you two”.

I let Mama carry me, and Lando walked close to Mama.

Always trust your instincts me and Lando think. We don’t trust him….What do you think?

 

Read about Charlie’s awful tar episode…

 

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Charlie ShortTail sitting up

Charlie and the awful tar episode

Charlie ShortTail

Tar on my cat paws

I came home today with tar on my paws. Mama panicked in case they were burnt too.

It was thick, black, sticky, stinky and matted into my fur. Mama held me and dipped my paws into vegetable oil right away as this is supposed to soften the tar.

She was able to get a big lump of it off, but holding me in one arm and trying to clean me wiv the other hand was proving too difficult, if not impossible.

Help from Nan.

So, Mama phoned the Nan (not on da banana fone). Mama wrapped me in a blanket and Nan soaked my paws in oil and used a Qtip to get in between my pads.

I was very good (mostly). After they cleaned what they could, the next stage was to cut off the fur that was really caked in the awful tar.

Nan was worried about which was fur and which was paw, so I shut my eyes and hoped for the best. It was okay she didn’t hurt me at all.

The final clean up

After all this they scrubbed my paws with washing up liquid and then rinsed with lots and lots of warm water.

Mama was much calmer at this point as she could see I had not burnt or hurt my paws.

I was a bit of a mess though! I had streaks of oil in my fur and loads of wet patches. I looked a bit pitiful Mama thought.

The reward

Because I was so good and let mama hold me in the blanket, and let the Nan clean me up without biting or scratching I got a big bowl of tuna.

What happens next?

I’m grounded because no-one knows where the tar was from. Mama says tar is really toxic for cats and we mustn’t be allowed to lick it.

If it hadn’t of come off Mama would have had to cover my paws with something. That would have been trouble so we are all glad it got sorted out.

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Why do cats like sitting in boxes of all sizes and even bags, drawers and bowls?

Charlie ShortTail

Why does your cat like boxes?

Holly O Purr relaxes in her box.

Understanding why your cat like sitting in a box, bag or drawer.

Charlie ShortTail says : Cats like boxes because:

Cats enjoy a feeling of safety and security when sitting or sleeping in a box.

A box can be lovely and warm –the cardboard provides insulation and cats love warmth.

The ideal temperature for a cat is somewhere around 86-97 degrees or 30-36 oC – our homes are generally cooler than this.

 

Play – cats enjoy hiding and then pouncing on unsuspecting prey or toys, and even other pets or family.

A box provides a good place to watch and observe.

A cardboard box is great to scratch and bite.

Lando sat in this little box to play and also hid his favourite mouse toy in the box.

 

Do not disturb – your cat can sleep or rest and not be bothered by you or others.

Cats sleep for around 18-20 hours per day.

A box can provide stress relief – a sort of getting away from it all.

Research by some scientists seems to show that rescue cats given boxes are able to cope better and adjust to new surroundings quicker.

 

Cats are difficult to study and we still do not know all the reasons why cats love boxes, large, small, tiny and of course drawers, suitcases, handbags, bowls and even shoes.

Leo loves to hide away in a bag.

Holly O Purr sitting pretty in the drawer.

Sources and more detailed information on why cats love boxes.

According to the metro.co.uk

‘Studies collated by Bryan Gardiner at Wired.com have revealed the main reasons behind your cats affinity with boxes.

Firstly, they’re a source of stress-relief. Gardiner cites a recent study by veterinarian Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands who monitored the stress levels in shelter cats.

After providing hiding boxes for a group of newly arrived domestic cats while depriving another group of them completely, she found a dramatic difference in stress levels between the two groups.

In a nutshell – cats with boxes became accustomed to their new surroundings faster, seemed less stressed faster and sought human company sooner.

Secondly, your cat prefers to flee, rather than fight and a box might represents the perfect shelter from conflict, or just too much attention.’

The ‘Metro’ also refers to ‘The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour’ : ‘Cats do not appear to develop conflict resolution strategies to the extent that more gregarious species do, so they may attempt to circumvent agonistic encounters by avoiding others or decreasing their activity.’

An article in Cathealth.com refers to a recent study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that boxes can actually help reduce a cat’s stress levels.

Reducing stress for new cats  or for shelter cats

A group of new shelter cats were randomly assigned to either receive a box or not. After just a few days, researchers reported that the cats that were given boxes recovered faster and adapted to their environment more quickly than the cats without boxes.

The dailymail.co.uk also states that according to a report by Bryan Gardiner in Wired.com veterinarian Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands recently studied stress levels in shelter cats. She discovered that cats who had boxes got used to their new surroundings faster than those who didn’t because the boxes acted as a coping mechanism.

Care2.com refers to an article by Steven B Williams /February 9, 2015

Steve writes that: ‘This box-loving aspect of a cat’s personality has long puzzled their human carers, and it’s also caught the attention of scientists. Researchers, who published their findings in Applied Animal Behaviour, investigated whether hiding in boxes might reduce stress for cats in animal shelters.

While most species of dog can adapt to shelter environments relatively quickly, cats often experience high levels of stress. Previous studies have shown that cats prefer areas where they have the ability to hide, but until now scientists have not studied whether so-called “hiding enrichment” might benefit a cat’s sense of well-being and specifically if providing boxes for cats to hide in might help to ease those turbulent first few weeks in a new shelter.

To investigate this, researchers took 19 newly arrived cats in a Dutch animal shelter and randomly split them into two groups, one where the cats would be given access to hiding boxes, and one group who wouldn’t have access. The researchers then observed the cats for 14 days, and they used a scale known as the Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress-Score to estimate, based on visual clues and habits like grooming and eating, how stressed the cats were during this initial settling-in time.

The researchers found that by day three and four there were significant differences in the stress levels exhibited by cats without boxes to those who had boxes, with the cats who had hiding boxes showing a total average stress score lower than their non-box counterparts. An interesting note is that box-access seemed to reduce stress no matter the breed of cat, suggesting that this isn’t just a preference for some but a much more firmly ingrained cat trait.’

Charlie says that a box can be a nice place to relax away from stress and all cats like to feel secure and safe. 

Providing a box or hide-away container can help nervous, new or cats that are in new and strange surroundings.

Charlie would like to thank his furriends Holly, Jo, Lando and Gertie for their gorgeous pictures.

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