To Scruff or Not To Scruff

When cats are kittens, their moms will pick them up by the loose skin at the back of their neck (their scruff) to carry them away from the trouble they were about to cause, this is called scruffing. Some owners will use scruffing as a way to restrain their cats or carry them around. This should NEVER be done by owners to cats or even kittens. Full grown cats are too heavy to be grabbed and carried by their scruff and if you weren’t trained on how to properly scruff you could really hurt your cat or kitten by trying it.

If you’re in a situation where you would normally scruff your cat to restrain or calm them, try blanket wrapping them instead, it is a much more effective and safe technique to use. If you need to, or want to, carry your kitty, they should always be carried with all four legs supported by your arms and held close to your chest with no body parts dangling.

While scruffing is a mother cat’s way to show love and protect her young kitten, it doesn’t go over well with us humans, luckily, we have many other safe and gentle ways to restrain, carry, love and protect our wonderful kitties so we never have to try to scruff!

The Signs of Chronic Stress in Cats and How To De-Stressify

Chronic stress in cats is just as serious of a problem as it is in humans but it is often overlooked because of cat’s reputations of being independent, standoffish and grouchy. To make sure you don’t miss some of the signs that your kitty has chronic stress, here are a few to look out for from cat behaviourist Pam Johnson-Bennett:

  • Eliminating outside of the litter box
  • Increased vocalization
  • Excessive grooming
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Change in social behaviour
  • Decreased appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Increased aggression
Signs of stress won’t always be as clear as angry Riah, you may have to do some detective work!

If you think that your kitty is feeling stressed or is chronically stressed, the most important thing to do is enrich her environment. You can do this by providing spots for your kitty to perch at to look out a window, provide beds that get hit by rays of sun throughout the day, give them lots of safe and social hiding places, feed them with a puzzle feeder and provide them with solo toys that they love. And as always, play, play, play. Interactive play with wand toys, or even fetch, is the number one way to de-stress your cat and keep them happy!

Making Road Trips Less Stressful For You and Your Kitty

Preparing for a road trip with your kitty causes of a lot of stress, for both of you. Getting your cat in to their carrier, the meows and yowls of your scared kitty, and the ball of guilt that will lie in your stomach is a recipe for feeling horribly anxious. While road trips with your cats may never be fun, there are many ways to make them as easy and painless as possible, here are some of those tips:

  • Have a few months before you have to head out? Start to take your cat for a short car ride as often as you can and then slowly make those trips longer and longer. The starting point is home and the destination is also home.
  • Leave the carrier in an area that your cat spends lots of time in for no less than two days before your trip, put a blanket and some treats in it to show her that it isn’t so scary.
  • You will also need to choose an appropriate carrier, it should be able to be buckled in securely and it should be an appropriate size (smaller carriers for shorter drives and larger carriers for longer drives). Extra bedding should be brought along in case of accidents so your kitty stays clean and comfortable.
  • Make sure your cat has updated identification (collars with ID tags and microchips) and have an up to date picture of her. You should also be sure that any hotels or lodgings you may be staying at are cat friendly.
  • Putting a harness and leash on your cat is always a good idea too because then if she tries to run off she will not be able to get too far. -Play with and then feed your kitty close to when you have to leave, this will naturally put her in a more relaxed mood.
  • Put some cat safe anti anxiety/calming drops in your cat’s food to keep stress levels at a low.
  • Cats should also be supplied water, food,and a litter box throughout the trip so you will need to bring along dishes and a box with litter.
  • Once you are travelling, remember that your cat should never be left alone in the car under any circumstances.

Building Friendship Between Kiddos and Kitties

Helping kids become best friends with their cats can be quite the feat. Kids are loud and crazy tornadoes, which cats often find scary and threatening. To build a life-long friendship between the two, it is super important to teach your children how to properly handle, read and act around your cat, here’s how to do it!

The first thing that kids need to understand is that kitties have feelings too. You can explain to them that cats feel sad, happy, excited, etc, just like them! You can then teach your kiddos how to tell how cats are feeling by telling them what certain body language and verbal sounds mean. These are the most important ones:

  • Tails – Up high in the air means the cat is feeling friendly, down or between legs means she is scared, puffed up means angry or scared, twitching means she is getting mad, and wagging means she is very angry.
  • Ears – Upright means kitty is listening, flat means she is scared or angry.
  • Eyes – Wide pupils means she is nervous, small slit pupils means she is relaxed. Avoiding making eye contact means she wants to be left alone, blinking means she is relaxed too.
  • Whiskers – When whiskers are pointing forward or backwards kitty is scared or angry and could bite, when they are relaxed to the side, kitty is also relaxed.
  • Full body postures – Arched back is a scared cat that is ready to fight, body pressed to the ground means she wants to be left alone, belly up means she trusts you and wants attention, but don’t pet her belly! Laying down like she is sleeping means a happy cat.
  • Verbal cues – Typical meows that you hear a lot is just kitty talking to you and getting your attention, purring usually means that she is relaxed and happy but sometimes she can be hurting or frustrated. Growling and hissing mean leave her alone until she calms down.

Once your child understands how to read a cat’s body language, you can teach them about approaching, petting and holding a kitty! This is how to do it:

  • How to approach and pet a cat – When kitty is showing her “yes I want attention” body language and after they’ve asked the owner if they can pet her (if it is a stranger’s cat), they can slowly go up to the cat. Tell them to try not to stare at her and they can even try a slow blink. They can slowly reach out a finger and let her push her head in to it to show them that she wants to be pet, your child can then gently pet down her body to the base of her tail with a relaxed, open hand. Remind them not pet too much and for too long, lots of kitties don’t like that. Almost all cats will like a good head and check scratch though. Each cat has preferences.
  • Picking up and holding a cat – A cat should be picked up under the chest and belly between her legs with both hands. Once kitty is off the ground, your child should pull her to their chest and hold her with one arm supporting her front legs and the other arm supporting her back legs. They need to make sure she feels like she won’t fall and that she is comfortable.

Using a stuffed animal to show your kiddo these things before they try with a real kitty is a great way to make sure they understand how to do everything properly!

Kids get very excited when they see cats, and that’s when the scary tornado can happen, so always remind them, along with everything above, to always be gentle when petting, visiting and playing with a kitty, talk softly when they are with kitties, and don’t bother cats when they are sleeping, eating, using their litterbox, hiding or relaxing up high.

Some more fool proof ways to help your cat and kid become best friends is to teach your child that your cat isn’t an “IT”, it is an object, not a living animal, always use your cat’s name or he or she. You should also intertwine cat and kid routine, including your child in feeding (how much kitty eats and what is good and bad for them), playing (show how to play properly with kitty), grooming, growing catnip and cat grass, and loving will help them understand cats even more and will help your cat see that your child is quite awesome too.

Kids are the future and it’s our responsibility to teach them compassion, kindness and love for cats and all other living beings. This is the first step to doing just that!

Learning a Love for Cats

Are you someone who is a self-declared cat disliker? Or worse… a cat hater? I totally get it, trust me. A lot of cats come off as stubborn, distant, unaffectionate and honestly pretty hard to love if you haven’t loved them since birth like us crazy cat people. But what if I told you that cats can in fact be super friendly and loving animals in their own cat ways. I know, I know, you don’t like cats BECAUSE they’re cats, but just bear with me okay?

It’s almost impossible to know why something is great when you can never actually get to know it, but that’s where I come in. I wrote a short list of some things that make cats awesome that I think you’ll appreciate too. Here it is!

  • They sit like loaves of bread and rotisserie chickens, it’s weird, but funny
  • They purr and it is super relaxing to feel and hear
  • Their eyes get big and their butts wiggle when they play, it’s adorable, and you can’t resist smiling
  • They take care of themselves for the most part
  • They can be taught to go on walks and how to do tricks, they’re just taught different from dogs
  • They are fluffy and soft

Still not convinced that cats aren’t so bad? I wouldn’t doubt it, you can be told all day and all night but you won’t really know until you spend time with them! Don’t worry, I made another list for you. These are some ways to spend time with a cat to get an idea of why us cat people love them so much.

  • Watch them play and learn how to play with them and then do it! A cat that is playing is the silliest and most fun to watch. You’ll also see that they are such amazing little creatures that can run, pounce, sneak, and jump like none other.
  • Feed them, you’ll see that cats do indeed show affection once their food is pulled out.
  • Visit cats in a shelter, almost all of them beg for petting and cuddles and will love you up more than you thought possible.
  • Hang out with a kitten, I can’t even describe the joy this brings to absolutely anyone. If a kitten can’t make you smile then I don’t think anything ever will.

The best part about cats for people who don’t like them is that they already really like you! Cats gravitate towards people who ignore them and who don’t want anything to do with them because they hate how overbearing and “up in their business” cat lovers can be. They like that they can calmly sit by you and not have to worry about being constantly pet and cooed at. So as much as you may want to disagree, you may already have a cat friend!

I know not everyone can be converted to cat lovers, but even just a general neutral feeling about them is all I’m asking you to get from this blog post. Who knows? Maybe one day you’ll be given the chance to own your own cat and you’ll have to learn to love them, and if that day comes, you can use what you’ve learned here to help you along the way!