Tag Archives: Cats

CATS

www.susanshirley.myorganogold.com

I spent some time with my friends Anne Germain and her husband Keith last weekend.  Anne and Keith have four cats, Gizmo, Bilbo (usually referred to as Bo) Simba and Frodo.  Gizzy and Bo are sisters and the boys are brothers.  For the first time in their little lives, the girls willingly allowed me to stroke them. Funny that, because I’ve known them for years. The boys have always been friendly towards me but not the big girls.

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The boys, both gorgeous long haired black cats, had two sisters who have both, sadly, died. Anne tells me that the change in the girls’ behaviour has been since the most recent death.

It started me thinking about my own cats and cat behaviour generally.  I know very well that my beautiful Telesto was not happy with having her teeth scaled last year.  Then earlier this year, she started to exhibit stress related behaviour so I plugged in a Feliway diffuser and crossed everything hoping it would help.

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Amazing stuff, that Feliway, because within two weeks, she was much, much happier and had returned to her old self.  The manufacturers, by the way, say it can take up to six weeks to make a difference, so I was very impressed that it was so quick.

I had discussed her behaviour with my vet who explained that cat behaviours and social structures are very complicated, way too complicated for us humans.  So the change in Anne’s cats is maybe not surprising.

Telesto’s behaviour was also probably not difficult to understand.  Cats are territorial creatures and don’t much like change.  There is a particular cat that comes into my garden; we nicknamed him Dave that she particularly dislikes. In fact, she is scared of him.  A year or so ago, she spent all night awake, sitting on top of a neighbour’s shed because Dave was in my garden and she didn’t want to pass him to come in.  I know this because I kept getting up to check on her.  Even when I shooed him out of the garden, she wouldn’t come in; cats are stubborn too.  Anyway, he kept coming back as soon as I turned my back. Telesto also gets upset when I work long hours and she doesn’t feel that she gets enough of my attention.

It’s not just Telesto who has benefited from the Feliway though.  Oceana has been more relaxed too.  It’s only my little girls who don’t seem to have been affected, but then they don’t seem to be affected by very much. They are happy little souls and apart from the fact that they were abandoned at a couple of weeks old, they have lived with me for all but three months if their lives so clearly have a lot to be happy about!  They are well looked after and loved so don’t have a bad life.

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The little ones don’t go out very much, and if they do, they like me to leave the door open (we don’t do cat flaps). If I close the door they both do an impersonation of a meercat, standing on hind legs looking through the window.  So cute!

Some other interesting cat facts:

  1. On average, cats spend about 16 hours a day sleeping.
  2. Female cats tend to be right pawed. Just watch them to see!
  3. Cats can hear high frequency sounds about two octaves higher than humans. Their hearing is better than that of dogs.
  4. A cat can run at a speed of about 31 mph over a short distance.
  5. A cat can jump about five times its own height in one leap.
  6. When a cat rubs its cheeks against you or objects it’s not just a sign of love, it has glands in its cheeks that mark you or the object with its scent. Its tails and paws also carry the cat’s scent.
  7. In many parts of Europe and North America, black cats are considered to be a sign of bad luck, however, in Britain and Australia, the opposite is the case. However, back in the Middle Ages, they were considered bad luck here.
  8. The reason that cats don’t like water is that their coats do not insulate them well when wet.
  9. Cats usually have twelve whiskers on each side of their face.
  10. Cats don’t have such good colour vision as humans, and can’t see things very close up.
  11. Isaac Newton invented the cat flap.
  12. Cats almost never meow at other cats, they reserve that for humans.

© Susan Shirley 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cat Relief

Remember I wrote about London Poppy Day last week? Lieutenant Victoria Kneale, who was in charge of our collection e-mailed us to tell us that one person had paid over £1000 for a pair of cufflinks, and someone else paid £600 for a poppy!

Remember the homeless man who came up with a bag of coins? There was about £4 in that bag, and to quote Lieutenant Kneale,

“…but the best £4 we made all day!!!!”

That makes me think of the biblical story of the Widow’s Mite. The people of London are amazing!

My girls seem to be doing ok too. After a bit of a scare because Telesto’s blood test results didn’t come back quite as expected, so the vet then checked for FIV (the virus that causes cat AIDS). I was quite worried while I awaited the outcome of those tests, but, fortunately, she doesn’t have it (that would have brought its own set of problems!), so the vet thinks it’s just an infection so she is currently on antibiotics.

I’ve never had to give Telesto any kind of tablets before, but the girl just munches on through that food, no matter what is mixed in with it. She feels very special though, when she gets wet food in the evenings as well. I fear there will be tears when this stops in a week’s time, although the others will be happy. The green eyed monster is alive and kicking in our house!

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I do try to make sure that if one has something, they all have it, food-wise, but, now that it looks as though little Rhea just has an allergy to something in the wet food. Although Peter (the vet) thought she might have to go onto a hypoallergenic diet. It just so happens that I had some James Wellbeloved at home, which is a hypoallergenic cat food. Rhea loved it before she realised that was all she was getting for breakfast. I solved the jealousy problem this morning by giving her some cat treats whilst the others were necking their wet food. We may just survive this! Still, it’s been a very expensive few weeks, but the vets have sent the insurance claim off now, so hopefully I will get most of the money back.

Having spent so much time in the vets recently, I’ve learned an awful lot about pets and their allergies – one dog is allergic to being outside, another cat is allergic to all other cats… It’s quite amazing.

I did a bit of research on cats for this post, and found out that there is a protein (an allergen) in cat saliva that causes the biggest problem for human allergy sufferers (and, presumably, for that poor little cat who was allergic to other cats). This protein is called Fel D1, and what happens is, when a cat licks itself, the saliva (containing this little beasty, although that’s a wholly incorrect way of describing it) dries and becomes airborne, and we poor unsuspecting humans (and other cats) give it is nice warm home in our sinuses.

Male cats produce more of this than female cats, and entire males (hmm hmm) produce more than neutered males, and dark coloured cats more than light coloured cats. And, probably as you would expect, kittens less than adults.

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There are seven breeds of cat that are less likely to cause allergic reactions in humans…these are the Balinese (very pretty, looks a bit like a long haired Siamese), Oriental Shorthair (very strange looking creatures, in my opinion, big ears), the Javanese (a bit like a Siamese with bigger ears, but quite attractive), the Devon Rex (they put me in mind of a creature from a Sci-Fi film, but I can’t for the life of me remember the name. I find them strangely cute and attractive.), the Cornish Rex (the same as the Devon Rex but with a broader West Country accent), the Sphynx (the poor little thing has no hair!) and the Siberian (hairy and rather gorgeous).

Oriental Shorthair
Oriental Shorthair

I hate to be cruel to any living animal, but I really struggle with the poor little hairless one. What is that about? Yes, I know that when you have four, like me, you need to keep on top of the vacuuming otherwise it looks like an old fashioned Western with the hair acting like Tumbleweed (Suzette, anytime you feel the need to provide a chamber maid service, please feel free) but the poor little Sphynx is not going to do too well in an English winter, is it?

Anyway, I couldn’t find any royalty free photos for most of these, except for the Oriental Shorthair, so I’ve just gone for cute images and a link to Allposters, where you can find some of them.

www.allposters.com

© Susan Shirley 2014

http://www.zazzle.co.uk/TelestoTitan?rf=238350675788507645

Click on the link for mugs like the one below.

 

I wish I had shares in…

…my vets, my local cab firm and the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture pet meds.  These are the places I am researching for investment purposes.

I’ve written before about my beautiful girls, and at the moment, two of them are undergoing treatment with the vet.

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My poor Telesto has gingivitis and has to have her teeth scaled, which means a general anaesthetic.  Think about it: it’s bad enough being a dentist with some humans (no names, no pack drill!), imagine trying to scale the teeth of a scared cat with very sharp claws and equally sharp canine teeth while she is awake… No, it’s not working for me either.

I booked her in to be done on the same day that Rhea has to go for blood tests, which is next Monday.  Poor little Rhea has a problem with regurgitation, she has had all her life but it’s getting worse. The vet thinks she may have pancreatitis, which is apparently quite common in cats, but we need blood tests to check.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens there.

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So far, so good, except that I had to ‘phone the vets yesterday, about something unrelated, and they told me that it would be a good idea for Telesto to have blood tests done before the surgery, as she is, how can I say this politely?  A lady of a certain age.  Telesto is ten, which makes her about 56 in human years. I rather wish I’d known this earlier, but hey ho.

This meant that I had to take time off work this morning to take her up to the vets this morning, to get the tests done in time for Monday.  Blood tests meant that she was not allowed to eat after 9pm last night.  And if you have to starve one cat, you have to starve four.

Last night was not as bad as I had feared.  I had visions of being pounced on every hour on the hour, but cats are a little more subtle than that. And they had obviously all had a good munch before I took up the remaining biscuits.  This morning, however, was a whole different ball game.

For some reason, Artemis stayed downstairs last night (she usually sleeps on the bed), but I had a visitation from both her and Rhea once they realised that there was no food.  Although they are sisters, they have a very different approach to getting what they want.  It’s like they’re playing “good cat, bad cat.”  Artemis jumps on me and hits me; Rhea makes a huge fuss of me, cuddling and purring.

As you would expect, Telesto becomes my shadow and Oceana maintains a very dignified distance as though she doesn’t care one way or the other.  I did put biscuits down for the three of them once I’d put Telesto in the carrier, but strangely, they all went into hiding. Did they think I was trying to “chick” them, as we say in the office, or were they just showing “the sisterhood?” You never really know with cats.

On the occasions that I take two of them to the vets, I get a cab each way, but with only one, I thought I’d get the bus (I haven’t explained why I need shares in these companies yet).  That would have been an excellent idea, except that the buses were all full at 8.30am.  So I walked.  My darling Telesto weighs around 4.5 kilos and would not keep still, and my vets is around a mile and a half, a mile and three quarters from home.  I can’t say it was the easiest walk I’ve ever done but, on the plus side, I did my aerobic, cardio and weights all in one hit.

It was plain sailing once we got there, she was in Dianne’s words, “a little Angel,” and we did manage to get a bus home part of the way. Well, two stops actually, but, as I said, it’s good exercise.

As soon as I let her out of the carrier, Telesto dived into the biscuits, she was so happy. I should get the blood test results on Thursday, so hopefully, that will be ok. I think she is in pretty good health.

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The bit I haven’t told you yet is that the cost of the bloods for both of them and the surgery is over £400 and this is why I think I need shares in these companies.  What a money spinner! I don’t begrudge one penny of it, nothing is too good for my girls.  In fact, in the scheme of things, I think it’s pretty good value, but when you think how many people there are like me out there, who only want the best for their little babies… I think I should do a Victor Kiam….

 

 

 

 

Cats Shouldn’t Eat… first published earlier this year

I am an animal lover.  I admit it unashamedly.  Anyone and everyone who knows me, even slightly, will know that. My first, as yet, unpublished, book is about my cats.  So, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am signed up to a number of blogs, etc, about animals.

I received an e-mail today that told me about a number of common foodstuffs that cause cats a problem if they eat it.  That got me thinking.

Four cats, all with different tastes in food.  All with different eating habits.

Rhea, for example, loves a spider plant.   She’ll have a little chew whenever she can.  I tell you, I can put a Sergeant Major to shame now, for my shouting abilities.  I’m sure that isn’t good for her,
“You ‘orrible little cat, get off that plant!”

Artemis: Pretty much anything that is edible goes where she is concerned.

Oceana: she is convinced that she’s human, except of course, when she is bringing mice home.  And is very keen to take food off of my plate (or anyone else’s, come to that).  Even the bones of sprats, which was one occurrence.

Telesto: I think she comfort eats.  For a cat that doesn’t much like humans, she certainly finds enough humans to feed her.  Anyone who puts food out for stray cats or the foxes, Telesto finds her way to their homes and then comes back her for seconds.  I seriously thought she was suffering from bulimia when she vomited over my freshly changed bed linen on Monday morning.

And Dreamies.  They will do almost anything for Dreamies.  Or the supermarket home brand equivalent.  Rattle a bag of Dreamies and I can do anything.  Actually, I’m a bit surprised that they still fall for that one, but they do.  Polythene bags.  What is the fascination for polythene bags?  Rhea loves a little chew of them; Artemis tries to sit in them.  (I know, I know…)

Cats are curious.  Whatever it is, they want to know all about it.  This morning, Artemis was standing like a meerkat, sniffing the bottom of my coat.  (That will be the dogs I stroke on the way to work.)  They even go through the waste bins, just in case I have inadvertently thrown away some food that might be essential for their survival.  I can’t have a glass of wine without them checking that it’s not something they might like.

Telesto knows that she doesn’t like peanut butter, but it doesn’t stop her from holding a full inspection of my breakfast every morning.  Just in case something might have changed.
So I’m not surprised that cats often eat things that they shouldn’t. I’m only surprised that they stop where they do.

©Susan Shirley 2014

Guard Cat Rhea and Cat Language

Regular readers know that I have four cats and love them dearly. Sometimes they do things that really confuse me, other times, they just make me laugh. Rhea’s behaviour when someone comes to the front door is an example of this.
I first noticed it a few weeks ago. Someone knocked on the door and she ran to door growling. I’d never seen this in a cat before.
“Does she think she’s a dog?” I wondered.
Nothing else in her behaviour changed, she’s a very loving little thing, so I thought no more about it. Until it happened again. And again. It now happens every time someone knocks on the door. Wherever she is in the house, she runs to the front door, growling.
One of the reasons that cats growl is that they feel insecure or threatened, and it is actually not as an uncommon as I thought for cats to growl when someone comes to the door. It’s their way of saying,
“Go away, you’re not welcome here.”
Cats also growl when they are angry. And if they start hissing and spitting, leave them well alone.
Why has she just recently started this behaviour? I don’t know for sure, but I think it is because she is predominately a house cat. She will occasionally go outside, if the weather is nice and I leave the back door open, she’ll stay out for a while. But the moment that door closes, she is like a little Meerkat, standing on her hind legs at the door, until I let her back in. She has never stayed out over night and shows no signs of wanting to do so. (Which is just as well, I don’t like my girls being out overnight.)
So, because she is in the house most of the time, it’s her domain, her territory. And she’s very fussy about who comes in. The funny thing is, if someone comes in, she will usually hide. As I said, she can be a little timid.
Rhea is a great talker. If I pick her up, she says “yes” or “no.” Seriously. That’s exactly what the noises she makes sound like. In fact, all of my girls like a little chat. Particularly when they see birds in the garden. I’ve always called the noise they make when they see birds chattering, but it’s also known as chirruping or chirping. It’s a very distinctive sound, and only ever use this when they are watching birds.
I’m pleased to say that they all purr. My Titan had the loudest purr. I even recorded it and used it as my ‘phone ring tone, it was so loud. Most times it’s a good sound, but did you know that cats sometimes purr when they are distressed or in pain. It seems that it is the cat equivalent of sucking a thumb or some other similar comfort gesture.
Then there’s the meow. I think cats must be Italian, because, in the same way that in Italian, the same word can have several meanings, cats do this with meow. It can mean,
“Hurry up and feed me,” or
“I’m not in the mood for you to stroke me, I’m annoyed with you,” or
“Cuddle me.”
And then there is the yowl. Usually, this means the cat is in some sort of distress. However, quite often, male cats will make this noise when they are engaged in a turf war. Two of the male cats around here sit in my garden making this noise for hours. It’s also, apparently, a noise they make in mating behaviour. Obviously, I wouldn’t know about that, my cats are just not those type of girls.
Cats also use body language to communicate, but that’s the subject of another post. So, for now,
“Miaow.”

 

©Susan Shirley 2014

Follow me at www.wizzley.com/Telesto

Cats shouldn’t eat….

I am an animal lover.  I admit it unashamedly.  Anyone and everyone who knows me, even slightly, will know that.  My first, as yet, unpublished, book is about my cats.  So, it will come as no surprise to you to learn that I am signed up to a number of blogs, etc, about animals.

I received an e-mail today that told me about a number of common foodstuffs that cause cats a problem if they eat it.  That got me thinking.

Four cats, all with different tastes in food.  All with different eating habits.

Rhea, for example, loves a spider plant.  She’ll have a little chew whenever she can.  I tell you, I can put a Sergeant Major to shame now, for my shouting abilities. I’m sure that isn’t good for her,

“You ‘orrible little cat, get off that plant!”

Artemis:  Pretty much anything that is edible goes where she is concerned.

Oceana: she is convinced that she’s human, except of course, when she is bringing mice home.  And is very keen to take food off of my plate (or anyone else’s, come to that).  Even the bones of sprats, which was one occurrence.

Telesto: I think she comfort eats.  For a cat that doesn’t much like humans, she certainly finds enough humans to feed her.  Anyone who puts food out for stray cats or the foxes, Telesto finds her way to their homes and then comes back her for seconds.  I seriously thought she was suffering from bulimia when she vomited over my freshly changed bed linen on Monday morning.

And Dreamies.  They will do almost anything for Dreamies.  Or the supermarket home brand equivalent.    Rattle a bag of Dreamies and I can do anything.  Actually, I’m a bit surprised that they still fall for that one, but they do.  Polythene bags.  What is the fascination for polythene bags?  Rhea loves a little chew of them; Artemis tries to sit in them.  (I know, I know…)

Cats are curious.  Whatever it is, they want to know all about it.  This morning, Artemis was standing like a meerkat, sniffing the bottom of my coat.  (That will be the dogs I stroke on the way to work.)  They even go through the waste bins, just in case I have inadvertently thrown away some food that might be essential for their survival.  I can’t have a glass of wine without them checking that it’s not something they might like.

Telesto knows that she doesn’t like peanut butter, but it doesn’t stop her from holding a full inspection of my breakfast every morning.  Just in case something might have changed.

So I’m not surprised that cats often eat things that they shouldn’t.  I’m only surprised that they stop where they do.

©Susan Shirley 2014

The Secret Life of Cats

The BBC is screening “The Secret Life of Cats” tonight on BBC2.  The scientists doing the research say that we know more about the big cats than we do our domestic cats, although it seems, from the trailers, that some of the cat owners don’t agree with that.  One owner says he can tell what his cat wants from the purr.

I have four cats and I think I know a bit about them, so it comes as no surprise to me to learn that they are opportunistic, manipulative, devious thieves.  And adorable.   Don’t forget adorable.  I’ve owned dogs as well as cats, and I love them both, but they are very, very different.  Cats aren’t necessarily less loving, they just don’t need the same kind of approbation that dogs do.  (But they do need love and attention, and my four are testament to that.  More jealousy than in a sophomore’s dorm.)  They are far more self-sufficient than dogs, and don’t ever want anyone to think they make a mistake.

Only today, my little Telesto was playing Mad Hatters (that’s the game when she chases some imaginary creature and then kills it), and then caught herself up in the duvet as I was trying to change the bed linen.  She ended up falling off the bed, still caught up in the duvet and scared herself half to death because she struggled to get out.  She ran and hid for hours after that little turn out.

Then, because my friend Kate had come to stay, she and her sister showed off and wouldn’t come into the house for several hours – and several treats.  Well, why not manipulate the situation a bit more?  Funny how once the food came out, they were over us like a rash.

They all have their own little characters, and their own funny little ways, but never doubt that they want love and affection because they do, and it isn’t all cupboard love.  I’m sure they do line up a second home in case they need to move out – actually, I don’t blame them for that.  I’ve done the same myself in the past.  They are special little creatures who have their own particular needs, and if we humans can’t fulfil them, they’ll go elsewhere.

I’d love to get my girls wearing those mice-cams, but I know they’d only last a couple of hours.  I might not be able to follow them everywhere, but I do know a bit about the way they live their lives, and how they know exactly which side their bread is buttered.

 

©Susan Shirley 2013