So Dapper

Since we adopted Mau, we purchased a breakaway collar and tag for him. (We also have updated his microchip information.) We debated what color to get for him – should it be red to match Garrus and Charlie or another shade? Ultimately we decided on a vivid cerulean shade to complement his Frank Sinatra eyes. Doesn’t he look extra dapper?

You can see a sliver of his collar in this photo. The light in this photo (taken by Aaron) makes his eyes look a darker shade of blue than usual.

Here you can see his tag!

Mau is doing well. He’s on a medication which will hopefully re-balance the good bacteria in his gut and resolve his diarrhea issue. Whether he is truly a senior at 15 or younger, he’s pretty healthy and active – he loves to play with springs and explore boxes. He gets along well with both Garrus and Charlie, his playmates and snuggle buddies, and continues to be Aaron’s Bro Cat. We’re very happy with our handsome boy.

Do your pets have fun collars? Do they wear bow ties and/or bandannas? Please share in the comments!

Harmony in a Multi-Cat Household Part Two

Some cats prefer to have buddies, as in the case of Charlie and Garrus. Others are happier as solo cats (example: Nala). Still other cats get along better with dogs than cats, as was the case for Boudicca. It depends widely on the cat’s personality, background, age, previous experiences, health, and other factors.

It’s important to remember that cats and dogs have very different social behaviors. Wild cats tend to be solitary, and as a result, they don’t have the complex social relationships and behaviors that other animals, such as dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, and whales, have. Dogs have easily recognized play behaviors, such as the “play bow”. By contrast, cats do not have these ritualized play behaviors. Misunderstandings can occur as a result. Case in point, one cat may chase or swat at another in play but the other cat may interpret this as a threatening action. Consequently, the play session can quickly escalate to a fight.

Garrus, being a bona fide Gentleman Cat, is willing to share the ottoman. Mau takes it as an opportunity to sprawl and flaunt his belly.

In short, cats can be incredibly socially awkward. This has certainly been the case for Mau and, to a lesser extent, Charlie when he tried ever so earnestly to befriend Boudicca every day, regardless of her definite opinions on the subject.

Ahem. Mau appears unaware of the concept of personal space. Garrus, for his part, is again relegated to being another cat’s pillow. (Charlie has done this a few times so this situation is not new.)

There are several factors to consider when keeping a multi-cat household, whether it is introducing a new pet to residents or helping housemates get along. There are several actions you can take to keep things peaceful. They can include:

  1. Background. A cat’s ability to successfully adapt to a new home with housemates depends on the cat’s age, personality, prior experiences, health, and other factors. Where did this cat come from? How did the cat react to other cats in the shelter? Charlie, for example, had no such compunctions and would walk right up to a new cat and roll onto his back. For this reason, the director paired him with the well-mannered Garrus. Since Charlie was so affable, he and Garrus became instant friends.
  2. Space. Cats highly value their personal space, and some feel safer high up or in down low in cave-like environments in which to hide. Make sure you provide ample areas for your cats to hide in, sleep, play in, and call their own. We have multiple sleeping areas (including cat beds, couches, chairs, the bed, and the window seat), the cat tree, and boxes throughout the house.
  3. Decreased competition for resources. This is closely related to #2 and #4. Lessen friction by serving food in separate dishes and providing enough litter boxes. Having a variety of options where to snooze, sunbathe, watch birds, and play also helps, as does providing vertical territory and hiding or safe spots.
  4. Feeding arrangements. In the morning, our cats jauntily escort us into the kitchen in anticipation of breakfast. We have learned that putting a dish in its own position and putting it down in the same spot each time keeps the peace. Garrus, for example, sits like the gentleman he is by the end table while we prepare his meals; he beelines to his spot before we set the dish down. Each cat has their own dish so they don’t have to compete for food.
  5. Calm environment. Sometimes using a calming pheromone diffuser like Feliway helps cats relax and get along better.
  6. Attention. Spend one-on-one time with each of your pets. Play with them. Offer scritches and belly rubs. Have a snuggle. Your attention and affection is also a resource. Don’t have your pets compete for it.

Garrus and Charlie like to share the blue elephant pillow and snuggle.

Harmony in a Multi-Cat Household Part One

I’ve considered myself lucky that Garrus and Charlie were already ironclad cat buddies when we adopted them. Charlie is so characteristically sunny that he enthusiastically wants to make friends with everyone, a trait he demonstrated repeatedly in the shelter before he came into our lives. Garrus, being a bona fide Gentleman Cat, is self-possessed, gives other cats space (and appreciates the favor returned), and is adept at reading other cats’ body and vocal language.

When we decided to foster again and brought home Mau, we focused on ensuring that our cats remained happy and that harmony prevailed. We were fortunate that Mau previously had housemates, and we acclimated everyone to one another slowly. However, sometimes it appears that Mau doesn’t always speak the same “cat language” as Charlie and Garrus do. Because Mau isn’t territorial himself, he doesn’t seem to realize that other cats have their preferred spots, personal space, or things they claim as their own.

Mau initially claimed the top platform as his spot while Charlie kept his spot. But Mau would occasionally bop Charlie on the head, apparently in play. Charlie wasn’t a fan though; up until then Charlie had been the one doing the bopping (to Garrus).

Mau took Charlie’s spot! He’s unrepentant about it too.

Charlie and Garrus like to share the car seat, though one could argue that Charlie tends to hog the chair and Garrus gets squished.

I found a most handsome box monster. All the cats wanted to check out this new box but Mau got into it first.

National Disaster Preparedness Month

Disasters happen and they’re terrible, but you, as a responsible citizen, can take steps to prepare for such situations in case they do occur. As a responsible pet owner, you should also include pets into these plans. Here are a few action items to consider:

Proper identification. Microchip your pets and ensure they wear identification tags with current, easy-to-read information.

Photo courtesy of Ready.gov

Evacuation destination. Know where to go where you can take your pets with you. Have a list of options and contact numbers ready.

Photo courtesy of Ready.gov

Stay together. Make sure your dog is leashed when you are transporting them and a few days after a disaster in order to keep them away from harm. Put cats in carriers for their own safety, as scared cats can bolt and hide in unbelievably small spaces.

Photo courtesy of Ready.gov

Emergency pet kit. Make like a Boy Scout and be prepared! Essential items for your kit can include: food, water, extra medication, vet record copies, poop bags, cat litter and pan, leashes, collars, first aid kit (useful for humans too!), list of pet friendly hotels and evacuation centers, dishes, and toys.

Check out additional disaster preparedness tips from FEMA (preparing your pets for disaster, protecting your pets, evacuating with your pets), Ready.gov, Pet Sitters International, and the ASPCA.

National Holistic Pet Day

When we humans think about our health, we think of mind, body, and spirit or heart. We strive to be healthy and find fulfillment in our lives. As responsible pet owners, we can extend that kind of thinking to our pets as well. When I say “holistic”, I’m talking about the whole, as in the mind, body, and spirit or heart of your pet.

Holistic health begins with good nutrition, physical exercise, and mental stimulation. Is your pet at a healthy weight? Does your pet get enough exercise? Do you think your pet is bored? These are only three questions to consider. As a caring and responsible pet owner, having a healthy and happy pet probably means that you’re happy for your pet too. Everyone wins.

Photo courtesy of Pexels

Here are some activities you can do today to celebrate National Holistic Pet Day:

  1. Have an adventure. Take your dog to a new park. Arrange a playdate with a new doggy friend. Bringing your dog to new places, combined with reinforced training, help your dog to be well-socialized and more confident.
  2. Play, play, play. Exercise can be therapeutic for pets and beneficial mentally as well as physically. By regularly playing with your pet, you strengthen pet-owner bonds, let your pet hone skills (fetching, tracking, pouncing, hunting, etc.), and reduce stress.
  3. Enrichment. Mixing things up a bit and encouraging pets to use their minds as well as their paws and noses can help pets, especially indoor ones, stave off boredom. Consider these ideas: food-dispensing puzzle toys; sensory enrichment (i.e. window perch for birdwatching, pet-directed videos); climbing posts, trees, and shelves for cats; novel objects like boxes, paper bags, pop-up tunnels, and bacon-flavored bubbles for dogs. Seriously!

Photo courtesy of Pexels

National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day

August 22nd is National Take (or Bring) Your Cat to the Vet Day! I’m sure cats across the world are saying, most emphatically, “NOPE!” but please bear with me. Part of responsible pet ownership or guardianship involves ensuring your pet is healthy, up to date on shots, and given appropriate medical care, and that any health or behavior-related questions or concerns are addressed.

Side-eye alert. Garrus is never thrilled about going to the vet but he certainly appreciates being able to eat normally now that his stomatitis is under control.

Why is regular veterinary care so important? Here are a few reasons to remember:

  1. Cats age faster than humans. A one-year-old cat is the equivalent of 15 in human years and a two-year-old is 24. After that, cats age 4 “cat years” for every calendar year. So much can happen in one year, so that is why an annual checkup at the vet is crucial.
  2. Cats hide illness and pain. Many cats are true stoics and don’t let on that they’re sick. By taking your cat to a vet at least once a year, any problem that may crop up can be treated early.
  3. Fat cat. According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, over 50% of cats are overweight or obese. This extra weight can put cats at risk for diabetes, arthritis, heart, respiratory, and kidney disease, and more.
  4. Something’s up. If your cat’s eating patterns or litter box usage suddenly changes, that can indicate a health issue. Note changes in weight, activity level, sleeping patterns, socialness, mood, etc. and share any concerns you have with your vet.
  5. Preventative care. Having a baseline and an up-to-date medical history can help avoid medical emergencies and allow vets to detect and treat health conditions earlier rather than later.

Mau lets everyone know his name once we put him in the carrier. He does NOT like traveling in the car but he too needed to go to the vet to address his dental disease.