When I visited the community cat colonies living at the UWC campus in Cape Town this year, it warmed my heart to witness the dedication of the volunteers and staff of TUCAT (The University Feral cat Project). That Spring, the University got caught up in student protests on campus and as always, it’s the innocent animals that suffer the consequences that follow. Some cats went missing or were displaced, and with the student holidays and skeleton staff, it was a challenge trying to track them down and ensure that all the cat colonies were fed. But with the help of everyone from the volunteers, campus caretakers, and the security guards, the cats never missed a meal. The TUFCAT campus cats call this university their home and are loved by many!
There is nothing more annoying than that overzealous friend wanting you to join her for Zumba at the crack of dawn and all you want to do is sleep in. And what about that roommate who oversteps the boundaries and helps himself to your week’s supply of yogurt in one sitting? When it comes to our cats, their relationships with each other are no different. So what’s a cat to do when his housemate wants to play and he wants to sleep? Well, you scratch a sticky note text on your scratching post, of course! Read More
October 16 is Global Cat Day, initiated by Alley Cat Allies since 2001 is intended to rally people around the world to take a pledge to show compassion and kindness to our community cats everywhere. I love that they have renamed it Global Cat Day to expand their reach and message with the realization that community cats all over the world are faced with the same obstacles: local laws advocating the removal or killing of community cats from their natural habitats, in many cases using inhumane and cruel practices such as shooting and poisoning. Luckily there are individuals and dedicated guardian angels working against all odds to protect and improve the lives of feral cats around the world. Earlier this year I have had the pleasure to have met up with one such cat guardian angel, sociologist and lecturer, Sharyn Spicer at the University of Western Cape, South Africa.
There is no doubt cats are one of the most pampered pets on the planet. We dote on their little darling faces, they walk all over us and they have programmed us to adhere to their feeding schedules. Whether it’s free-feeding all day long or convincing us with sweet songs of ‘Acatpella’ that they will certainly die of starvation if not fed this minute, we cater to every feline whim and fancy. But serving them on silver platters is doing them more harm than good. Feline obesity in cats is on the rise and that spells bad news for their health and wellbeing. October 11 is National Pet Obesity Awareness Day so we thought It’s time to bring out your cat’s “inner cat” and make him do what comes naturally – hunt for his food.
A scratching post is a vital communication tool used by cats and is also their podium for leaving little scent messages for their fellow feline housemates.
The Silent Treatment
Cats display an array of vocalizations for cat-human communication but when it comes to communicating with other cats, they give each other the silent treatment. In the world of cats this is not a bad thing, in fact, their world is rich with scent messages and stimuli which they are busy decoding every second. Imagine how rich their scent vocabulary must be to be able to establish their little cat hierarchies and time-sharing schedules in their multi-cat homes. Cats will generally avoid confrontation and would rather just leave a little scent message to their housemates to get a point across. They certainly do have lots to say to each other and in order to live happy and enriched lives with their feline housemates and people, they need a platform to communicate their feelings, viewpoints, and grievances.
It seems that cats have it made. The internet worships them and judging by those viral Youtube videos, they rule their households with a firm furry paw.
“Hey Mr. Dog, I need your bed if you don’t mind, thanks, you’re too kind!”
But despite this overall perception of a cat’s elevated status as Ruler of the Drooler, cats are still largely misunderstood. Cats are viewed as independent, aloof and in need of less medical and preventative care than dogs, but this could not be further from the truth. September is Happy Cat Month, an event in its 7th year running, created by the Catalyst Council, to help promote the health and well-being of our purry felines, focusing on the different ways to ensure your cat is happy, enriched and healthy. Read More
We are delighted to be teaming up with Helen Woodward Animal Center for a very special event, Remember Me Thursday®, to be held on September 28, 2017. This unique worldwide event honors those pets who have lost their lives while waiting for their forever homes and shines a light on those still waiting. Here at the Chirpy Cats household, we get excited and emotional when talking about pet adoption, since we have 8 adopted cats abandoned for various reasons and we want to spread the word and meow it from the
rooftops cat trees! Read More
We recently posted a review on SmartCat All Natural litter from Pioneer®Pet Products, the greener choice of cat litter made from 100% U.S. grass. Easier to carry, easier to scoop, easier to clean, we were eager for one lucky reader to let their kitties dig their paws into this stuff.
There are many reasons why we really like this litter, but if you asked me to think of just one, it would be that it’s 99% dust free, and we’re not kidding! Kitties and pet parents, remove your dust masks and breathe freely; no more kicking up toxic clay residue on soft pawsies!
“Lost our old black cat since Tuesday. Last seen on our front porch.”
Whenever I see these lost cat posters stuck on our mail box I feel sad for the owners and their cats. But this one stopped me in my tracks. I knew the cat in this poster. Cachou is a regular visitor to our backyard, but strange, I had not seen him in weeks.
Out in the Serengeti, Sly Pie’s friends are not quite sure about the watering hole.
Water is the essence of life on earth. 71 Percent of the earth’s surface is water, 50-65% of the average human body is made up of water. But did you know that the body water content of your cat is as high as 70-80%? Our pets need 1 ounce of water per pound of body weight for optimal health, cell and organ function, but most domestics cats are nowhere near that quota. Why is this the case?
Our four-pawed fluffy house hunters are descended from the African wild cat (Felis Sylvestris Lybica) living in and around the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. They have evolved to derive most of their water requirements from the prey they consume and have adapted to conserve water efficiently; resting in shaded bushes during the heat of the day, hunting in the early evening or morning and drinking water when available. Our domestic cats have kept many of these traits despite living in an environment far removed from the wild. For this reason, we have to offer up some inviting hydration “watering hole” solutions to prevent dehydration, which can lead to many serious complications and illnesses.
When your cat goes around giving everyone in his path a powder puff for no reason, it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s aggressive. There’s one in every multicat household and through no fault of his own, he’s labeled the “bully cat.” When we add more cats to an already established group, it causes a shift in the cat hierarchy. The shift may be as obvious as a stare down and a brawl with fur flying or it may be very subtle, such as blocking the pathway to a litter box. The resident high ranking cat may or may not relinquish his title as Top Cat … at first, or maybe never.
Mr. Jack, watch your back!
But that doesn’t stop the cat with ambitions to keep trying by asserting his dominance to the rest of the clan through undesirable behaviors. This could include anything from relentlessly ambushing and chasing a timid, docile cat, guarding litter boxes, taking ownership of toys, games, sun puddles and refusing to timeshare.
Have you ever felt like you needed to break free from your comfort zone and push yourself to the next level? Do you remember how accomplished you felt when you finally achieved that goal? Comfort zones are hard to break through; after all, that is why they’re called comfort zones. Why explore or push the boundaries when everything around you is ‘just so’?
But today I think Sly Pie had an epiphany which prompted him to break out of his comfort zone. It’s well documented in other posts that he is a bona fide ground or bush dweller. Everything about him says,
“I like to be grounded, I feel safe in my small horizontal world. I don’t need to survey my territory and display my dominance. There’s a myriad of wonderful and exciting creepy crawlies that emerge from the earth’s belly, such as earthworms after a thunderstorm. There is no better place to be than way down here.”
His build is stocky with a short tail, not built for jumping and climbing. He is nimble and quick with his paws and will display his efficient mousing skills by only engaging in ground games with a mouse toy. Forget about the Da Bird. He never explores the bridge, or the high ramps indoors or in the catio. One could say that Sly Pie has his paws firmly on the ground. He was the only cat who knew what to do with a real live mouse when the other cats were flabbergasted in uncertainty.
The aftermath of Canada day, July 1st brings with it, a different reality for cats and dogs. No, it’s not the fireworks, or revelry of celebrations. It’s the sad situation of cats and dogs being left behind when their owners move house.
In the province of Quebec, where housing leases expire on the same day every year, this just means a mass exodus of people moving on the same day. Consequently, there is a larger number of abandoned pets due to new rental leases not allowing pets. A few of the Chirpies are “July 1 cats” as I call them and last year we shared brofurs Ollie and Baggy’s story about being abandoned in an apartment. Our local veterinary hospital is overrun every year with mostly cats that were left behind like unwanted goods, either found in an apartment or let out to roam the streets. But after July 1 there is a significant spike in the number of cats and dogs who are abandoned in Quebec. Speaking to my vet recently, there might be a flicker of hope. Generally, there is a greater awareness of the problem and more responsible owners. They are seeing a reduction in abandoned cats over the years but still, a lot has to be done in terms of educating prospective pet owners about responsible pet ownership and promoting the idea that your cat is not just an “until cat” but a “forever part of the family cat.”
Providing the right number of litter boxes per cat is one of the key factors in preventing inappropriate elimination or spraying behaviors before they start. Litter box aversion is one of the top reasons cats are surrendered to shelters.
There’s a long line for every situation in life; the line at the grocery check-out, the line at the boarding gate and that inevitably long line in the women’s restroom when intermission is about to end. Don’t you hate that? But there’s a restroom of a different kind in your multi-cat household, the litter box, where waiting in line should never be the norm. It’s a well-known fact that the key to a happy and confident cat is providing ample space for each cat to own, more so when they’re co-existing with fellow feline housemates. And even more so when it comes to their toileting habits. When one of your cats start spraying ‘cat-fiti’ on your walls or doors or gifting you with puddles on your hardwood floor, take that as more than a hint that you need to make some litter box adjustments. Having too few litter boxes for multiple cats is like playing musical chairs; except in this instance, the eliminated cat becomes the eliminator, or rather, the inappropriate eliminator! Yes, that viscous yellow liquid under the chair in the kitchen is not your toddler’s spilled orange juice! (horror of horrors)
There are various factors that may cause a cat to avoid the litter box such as location, size, type (covered vs. uncovered), type of litter substrate, how often it gets scooped and cleaned, stress and the number of boxes. Read More
A sweet peck on the cheeks, a nose to nose greeting, perhaps a game of chase a bit later. One of them is twice the size of the other but in recent months, Charlie and Sarabi have formed a friendship that is quite odd, yet endearing to watch.
At 20 pounds, with a large set head, cheeks and jaw line that resembles an unneutered Tom’s, this large lad could easily rule the Chirpy roost. Instead, Charlie is a huge cuddle bug and chief biscuit maker, always bowing his head in submission to the Chief Social Facilitator, Mr. Jack, asking for head boops and grooms. His physique bears testimony to the much-touted phrase “he’s not fat, he’s just big-boned, because, well, he truly is big boned!
The cats are sleeping, the house is quiet. Oh, I forgot, it’s noon and it’s sleepy kitty time, that explains the absence of paws over my keyboard. Either that or perhaps the Chirpies are sleeping off the effects of the impromptu catnip pawty that happened upon my return from the BlogPaws conference in Myrtle Beach yesterday. As soon as I unzipped my suitcase, cats came rushing from all corners to investigate.
Mr. Jack, (CCSF) Chief Chirpy Social Facilitator, was the first to grab hold of the catnip banana and catnip ball still in the packaging. This catnip candy was the bee’s knees and all the cats got into something or other, seemingly forgiving me for leaving them for a few days.
“If this is what you bring home Lady Cat, then you have our approval to attend in the future!”
There is nothing like reading a good bit of nonsense verse to take you away from the swirling vortex of insanity in which our busy lives have us entrapped! Just like watching a YouTube cat video or a funny cat meme gives you the chuckles, a funny limerick always lightens the mood. Today is National Limerick Day which honors the birthday of English artist, author, poet and illustrator, Edward Lear, born in 1812. Limericks were popularized in his “Book of Nonsense” in 1846 and in it, “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” stands out as one of the more memorable verses from my childhood. Why would a carnivore and a bird want to marry and sail away in a pea green boat? Were they eloping? Were they just free-spirited bohemians who defied society’s conventions? The ambiguity and quirkiness of these poems make it all the more silly and has prompted me to write a few of my own. The protagonist for my limericks is none other than our resident class clown, Mr. Jack. Why him? Because if he were sitting in that pea green boat, they would never have “sailed away for a year and a day”. No, he would have blown the five-pound note on catnip and partied all night long with his friends.
“What did those last grains of rice do to you?”
To this day I hear my mother’s voice in my head, chastising us for leaving the last few morsels of food on our plates. She used to make frozen food parcels for the homeless from good leftovers. The parcels were even personalized for those whom she knew had dogs and would be labeled, “for Terrance and McGuyver (his dog)”. This duo was one of our regulars and they used to sit on the curb enjoying whatever it was, that was once a family meal. In our home, food and water wastage were a big no-no.
As a teenager, I used to roll my eyes and think what a nuisance they are, these vagabonds, who kept coming back like a colony of stray cats. Grumbling under my breath, I would be ordered to make them peanut butter sandwiches when there were no leftovers to give. How selfish was I, who thought that only my little bubble was all that mattered?
He goes by many names, each suited to his build and demeanor. In the early days, he was Ninhsy, Fat Boy Slim, then just Slim. His confidence earned him the nicknames ‘Lion King’ and ‘Puma Boy’ for his gorgeous silver ‘eyeliner’. These days he is Earl Grey. The latter, not just because of coat coloring, but because if he could, he would be sipping tea, reading the Catnip Times through thick-rimmed spectacles. And he would even call it that.
But today is his 16th Birthday and the cat with many names wears his crown with pride.