Stop Ankle Attacks (Feline)

If your cat frequently attacks your ankles, most likely you are reinforcing the behavior by giving him the attention he’s craving. Sure, cats need to play, but an ankle is not an appropriate plaything. So how do you get him to stop?

Make sure that he is getting multiple play sessions each day. Never use your hands as a toy. Encourage him to pounce on the toy by dragging it away from him. Follow the last catch with either food or a treat. Make sure your cat has plenty of places to climb onto, cat scratchers and toys to play with.

The most important thing to reduce the behavior is to give him a timeout when he gets overstimulated and attacks. Block his view of your ankles with an object or cardboard, go into another room and close the door. Keep a timeout super short; a few seconds is plenty. Your cat will soon learn that when he attacks, his favorite person/people disappear and stop attacking you.

Need a Kitty Vacation?

Below are vacation spots where you can go to get a feline fix.

  • The Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum in Key West, Florida — About 40 to 50 polydactyl cats (Hemingway’s favorite) live and reside there
  • The island of Tashirojima, Japan — Known as cat island; a large number of cats, shrines and monuments and cat-shaped buildings are found on the island
  • The island of Aoshima, Japan — Known as Japan’s lesser known cat island; the residents continue the feed the cats hoping for good luck and prosperity
  • Largo di Torre Argentina, Rome — 250 feral cats reside among the ruins where Julius Caesar was assassinated
  • Protestant Cemetery, Rome — This is the home of Rome’s most famous semi-feral cat colony
  • Houtong Coal Mine Ecological Park, Taiwan — The train station’s footbridge, that looks like a cat, connects to Cat Village, where 80 cats live
  • Turquoise Coast, Kalkan, Turkey — A large number of cats wander by the old mosque and walk along the Kalkan beach
  • Neko Bar, Akanasu, Tokyo — The world’s first kitty pub
  • Calico, Tokyo — The largest and oldest cat café in Tokyo is home to 28 felines
  • Cat’s Store, Tokyo — Tokyo’s very first cat café is still going strong
  • Cats Theatre, Moscow — Watch the talented felines perform astounding acrobatic feats
  • Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London — Named after Alice in Wonderland’s cat, this was London’s first cat café and is home to 11 feline residents
  • Le Bristol, Paris — Fa-Raon and Kleopatre, the resident felines watch over this Parisian palace hotel
  • The Algonquin Hotel, New York City — Matilda, the resident feline can be found at this hotel
  • Kishi Station, Japan — Tama works four days a week and has her own office at the Wakayama Electric Railway; Tama even has an official title, she is the station master
  • Le Café des Chats, Paris — 12 cats live at this café
  • KitTea, San Francisco — KitTea is San Francisco’s first cat café where you can see 10 to 12 cats
  • The Cat Town Café, Oakland, California — The Cat Town Café was the first cat café in the U.S. and still stands as the only non-profit café. At any time, there are 8 to 24 free roaming cats available for adoption

13 Tips for a Successful Cat & New Baby Introduction

When a new baby is due to come home, there are a lot of things to be done. Setting up the nursery, picking out all the baby paraphernalia and setting up the house, but don’t forget there’s other family members that need to be readied for this new family member. Cats crave routine and need to be in familiar surroundings, a new baby can cause them stress if they’re unprepared. Below are 13 ways to prep kitty for the new baby.

BEFORE THE BABY IS BORN

  1. Keep a consistent schedule. If baby may change kitty’s feeding times, gradually change kitty’s schedule now so he’ll be ready for the new routine.
  2. Allow kitty to touch, sniff and investigate all the new baby gear. Unless all your baby’s gear will always remain in the nursery, your cat will probably see all this new stuff regularly. Let him investigate everything so he can be comfortable around them. You can even take it a step further and dab toiletries, such as baby powder, on yourself so your cat can get used to the new scents.
  3. Decide what you will allow the cat to do and start enforcing it early. If your cat won’t be allowed in the nursery, keep him out from the very beginning. If you want to allow him, put a cat tree in the corner so he can observe all the action from an out-of-the-way perch.
  4. Acclimate kitty to baby noises. Find CDs of babies crying and various other baby noises and start playing them softly at first and gradually increase the volume to get your cat used to the loud sounds your baby will make.
  5. Have a baby visit. Bringing in a live baby will help prep your cat for what a baby will do. Don’t force your cat to interact or the cat may react badly. Try to give him treats to keep him in the same room. This will encourage your cat to hang around and not to be afraid and associate the baby with positive things like treats.

INTRODUCING BABY

  1. Don’t force an introduction. If you were able to bring in a baby visitor before your baby was born, the same rules apply. If you weren’t, don’t force an introduction between baby and kitty. Retrieving your cat from his safe spot is stressful for your cat on its own, and he may associate baby with these negative feelings.
  2. Use familiar furnishings or blankets when you introduce kitty and baby. When you cat has had a previous opportunity to investigate baby’s furniture, this can help your cat accept the new baby. If your baby is on a blanket when kitty comes to say hi, if the blanket smells like you or another family member, this can help to create positive associations.
  3. Use treats. If your cat is shy or nervous, treat him to lure in the room with the baby to ease into the introduction. Cats associate food with good things, so treats may be a great push.
  4. Monitor all interactions between kitty and baby. Both your cat and baby will be curious about each other and will want to interact. Babies kick and pull and cats lick. Neither will realize why they shouldn’t, so be present to be able to supervise.

LIVING TOGETHER

  1. Be consistent. The rules were made before baby came home so try not to change them now. Your cat just used to the new changes and more changes will confuse and possibly stress kitty.
  2. Let your cat retreat. When your cat has had enough and is feeling overwhelmed, he needs to be able to escape and recharge. If he doesn’t have any, now is a good time to provide him with some tall cat trees. He can retreat to them but still be able to oversee the family’s goings-on.
  3. Clip kitty’s claws or use claw sheaths. To avoid an accidental scratch from being startled by a loud noise or other surprise, keep your cat’s claws regularly or use claw sheaths.
  4. Don’t be afraid to enlist help. If your cat remains tense around baby, there are pheromones or supplements you can obtain to help your cat adjust. Consult your veterinarian or a certified cat behavior consultant.

Helping Your Blind Cat Adjust

Some of the biggest misconceptions about blind cats are they’re approaching the end of their life and that they are suffering. In reality, cats have an easier adjustment to losing their sight than humans do; they simply take it in stride. Below are some easy tips to help your blind kitty adjust even better.

1. Familiarity

Your cat will need to rely on the memories of his home in order to navigate. Resist the urge to play interior decorator and move furnishings, his food and water dishes, his litter box, his scratching post, etc. This will help give your cat an easier adjustment and build confidence. You’ll also need to resist giving in to your inner slob and not leave things laying around. (Good news, your kids will have to start picking up their own toys!) When a cat rubs his face against objects, he is actually “marking” his spot with a facial pheromone, which he can then rely on later to help him navigate. Try to place the litter box and the food dishes near each other so he can easily fulfill his basic needs in one location. If you have multiple levels in your home, place the necessary objects on both floors. Until he is completely adjusted to his blindness, block off access to stairs and high places to avoid injury. Avoid carrying your cat around as much as possible. The most important component of his ability to adjust is making a map of his environment. If you are constantly carrying him from place to place, he will have difficulty being able to figure out where he is.

Establishing a routine is also very important: an afternoon play session in the living room or a snack in the kitchen before bed. An established routine can help to alleviate stress and help him feel more comfortable.

2. Training

Yes, training is still a possibility, it may be more time-consuming, but all cats need some degree of training. If your cat is motivated by food, when he performs a desired behavior, he gets a treat. Trigger words are also easy. For your blind cat, he’ll need to respond to spoken cues or clickers. When your cat is hiding in a super-secret location someday and you can’t find him, you’ll be glad if you can train him to come when called. Try to avoid teaching him any tricks that involve jumping. If he has one bad experience, he will be unlikely to engage in the behavior again.

3. Other Heightened Senses

Cats already have heightened smell, touch and auditory senses, when you add in a loss of vision, their other senses and their memory become their means to survival. Once the vision is lost, a cat is forced to rely on his other senses. Since he can’t see you approach, speak softly to him when you come near to avoid scaring him. Avoid loud noises. He won’t be able to see the source and can become quickly disoriented. If your home includes multiple pets, give his playmates bells on their collars so they can’t sneak up on him either. Give him scent-based catnip toys, or rattling and squeaky toys. As time goes on, he will get used to your natural scent and the scents of each room.

In summary, your cat’s quality of life will not decrease if blindness occurs. It will require a period of adjustment on both parts, but can create an amazing bonding experience. Once the adjustment period is complete, you’ll probably find yourself amazed at how fully he will return to normal: running through the house at top speed or playing Spider-Man jumping from furniture pieces.

Cat Eyes

Cats see better in the dark than they do during the daylight hours. Since most cats hunt at night, they need to see better at night than humans do. There are three reasons why.

A cat’s retina are predominated by rod-type photoreceptors. Cats have three times more rods in their eyes than humans. Cats have 100 rods to I cone, while humans have 20 rods to 1 cone. Rods are responsible for detecting and processing movement and short wavelength light. Cones are responsible for providing more detail and longer wavelengths of light. Therefore, cats cannot detect colors in the dark, but can detect movement.

Cats have elliptical shaped pupils to allow more light to be directed toward their retinas. Finally, cats have an area full of specialized cells behind their retinas called the tapetum lucidum. When the light reaches the tapetum it is reflected back to the retina and allows the eye to absorb more light. It is the tapetum that is responsible for the “glow” of a cat’s eyes in the dark.

During the day or night, cats aren’t able to see colors as well as humans. This is due to a difference in the cone. Humans can see a large spectrum of colors because they have three types of cones in their eyes. Cats only have two. Cats do see the world in world, but it’s not in as much vibrancy. Dogs are red/green colorblind and it’s thought that cats are the same since both dogs and cats have similar photoreceptors.

Human cones detect green, red and blue. The two cones in the feline eye detect blue and green with red spectrum being the least detectable. (Red objects likely appear gray to them.) Blue or purple objects are most easily detectable for them.

Cats have a third eyelid. (So do dogs, birds and a multitude of other animals.) The third eyelid moves from the corner of the eye and across the cornea. It is believed to provide the eye with an additional protective layer, especially when cats are hunting prey through tall grass or get into a fight with another feline. The eyelid helps to spread tears across the entire surface of the eye and to remove particles, such as dirt, dust or other debris. When a cat is ill or has sustained damage to the eye, the third eyelid can become visible and protrude. When a cat is ill, if the eyelid does protrude, it usually occurs in both eyes.

Does the eye color play a role in a cat’s vision? For the most part, no, but about 67% of blue-eyed cats are deaf. This is not caused by the eye color itself, but from genetics. Blue-eyed cats have a greater capacity to carry one or more defects that can cause deafness.