One of the most frequent reasons that cats are surrendered to shelters is for litterbox issues. In many cases, this happens because the human doesn’t speak cat and doesn’t understand the cause of the litterbox issue. We have compiled a list of things your cat may be saying by going outside the box.
This past week, a friend who works in rescue and has been fostering cats for many years posted this to Facebook: “Lesson learned today. Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye is contagious from cats to humans!!! Who would have thought.”
Conjunctivitis can be contagious from cats to humans, depending on the cause. The word conjunctivitis describes inflammation of the pink membrane of the eye, which lines the white part (sclera) and the inner eyelid. This inflammation in a cat usually has an underlying cause, and the underlying cause is what might be transmissible to humans.
The most common cause of feline conjunctivitis is Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR), which is caused by the feline herpes virus type-1. This virus is very specific to cats, and though both domestic and wild cats can catch it, you can’t get conjunctivitis from your cat if it was caused by FVR.
The second most common cause of feline conjunctivitis is Chlamydiosis (Chlamydia felis), causing about 30% of chronic cases. Although this can be transmitted to humans, it is very rare. A 2004 study in the Australian Veterinary Journal found only seven case reports of feline-to-human transmission.
Chlamydia felis does not survive in the environment, so washing with soap and running water after handling cats carrying the organism. Since it requires direct contact between cats to spread, as irresistible as a sick kitten may be, cuddle the little one away from your face to decrease the transmission risk.
The Center for Food Security & Public Health, Feline Routes of Transmission
Merck Veterinary Manual, Overview of Chalmydial Conjunctivitis
Australian Veterinary Journal, Is Chlamydophila felis a significant zoonotic pathogen?
University of Sydney Centre for Veterinary Education, Chlamydophila spp
Photo courtesy Donna Brown on Flickr
Did you know that there are five key needs to a healthy environment for your cat? The Association for Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) call these “five pillars,” and just like a pillar supports a building, each of these supports helping keep your cats feeling healthy, comfortable, and confident in their environment.
A Safe Place
A place that makes your cat feel safe is somewhere she can retreat to feel protected. For many cats, this is a high place, though some cats prefer to make their hiding places at ground level, especially older cats who may difficulty jumping or climbing due to arthritis, and your kitty should be able to retreat somewhere outside of the high-traffic area of your home. There need to be enough safe places so that each cat can have their own, since although cats may choose to spend time with each other, they need to have a retreat all of their own, too.
Cats like to have high sides on their safe place rather than being out in the open. A cat carrier lined with a favorite blanket tucked into a quiet corner may work for some cats, while others may enjoy a perch at the top of a cat tree. Even a cardboard box can make a safe place for a cat, provided it is in a location where they can relax and sleep while feeling they have some control over their environment.
Separated Key Environmental Resources
To your cat, key environmental resources include feeding, drinking, litter box, claw scratching, play, and resting areas. Your cat prefers they be spread out, separate from each other. You probably don’t want to eat next to your toilet, and neither does your cat! Separating these also enlarges your cat’s environment, encouraging both exploration and exercise.
If you have multiple cats in your home, provide multiple resources. Private eating locations reduces stress and allows your cats to feel like they don’t have to compete for food. In smaller spaces, you can even use visual separation to help cats feel they have private spaces, by feeding them around the corner from each other rather than in the open in the same room.
Opportunity for Play and Predatory Behavior
Wild cats spend a significant portion of their day hunting for and and catching prey in order to survive, and your cat needs the mental engagement that activity provides. Make sure he has toys that let him stalk and pounce. If your cat likes wand toys, this is a great way to bond with your cat while also fulfilling one of his needs to stalk, chase, and pounce the way that his wild ancestors did.
Cats who don’t have opportunities for predatory-type behaviors can get bored act out in frustration. On the other hand, cats who do get vigorous play time are less likely to become obese. Predatory play helps your cat stay fit both mentally and physically.
Positive, Consistent, Predictable Human-Cat Social Interaction
Positive interaction with humans from a young age is important to helping cats avoid stress or even fear when interacting with humans. This is critical for kitten socialization, but it continues throughout your cat’s life with you to reinforce your bond with each other. In a multi-cat household, make sure every cat gets individual attention and isn’t left out or crowded away from you by other cats.
Interaction in the form of play is fun for both you and your cat, but as your cat gets older, she may not want to play as hard or as long. Pay attention to your cat and keep it positive. If your cat doesn’t enjoy being picked up, that’s something at adds to their stress rather than building a happy environment for her. Make sure you are providing positive social interaction the way the cat prefers.
Environment Respecting the Cat’s Sense of Smell
Cats have a sens of smell much stronger than ours, and it’s easy to forget that they are experiencing the world in part through that sense. When your cat rubs against the corners of furniture or walls, he is depositing scent there, marking an area where he feels safe and secure. If you can avoid it, don’t wash these marks away.
Try to avoid using cleaners or cat litter that disrupts the cat’s sense of smell. A sudden, strange smell in the house can make the house feel less secure to your cat, whether it is from a new cat litter or from something you tracked in on your shoes. The synthetic pheromone product Feliway helps reduce anxiety in your cat by introducing a scent like the one your cat deposits throughout his familiar territory, and it is one scent you can introduce that can help reduce anxiety in your cats, especially in stressful situations.
Cats like to feel like they are safe and in control of their environment, and you can use these five pillars of feline environmental needs as a checklist to find little adjustments you can make around the house that can make a bit difference for your cat’s feeling of security in her environment.
Reference: AAFP and ISM Environmental Needs Guidelines
Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link, which means we get a small commission for our cat treat fund if you purchase after clicking the link on this page.
No one likes hearing their cat is fat. One of the things I learned recently while in a room full of veterinarians is that they dread having to tell you that your cat is overweight, too. But cat obesity is on the rise. A 1970s study found 6.5 – 12% of cats were overweight, while more recent studies report 40 to as many as 67% of cats are tipping the scales farther than they should. No wonder vets dread having to tell you your cat is overweight. They’ve had to deliver that news far too often recently.
Being overweight brings health hazards you want to avoid for your cat, such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Some abdominal cancers
Any human who has decided to diet knows that the principle of weight loss is simple: more exercise, less calories. Anyone who has tried their own diet also knows it’s never that simple.
First of all, see your vet before putting your cat on a diet on your own accord. Cats who do not eat, or who eat extremely little, can develop hepatic lipidosis, which is life-threatening. You need to be sure that you’re not restricting their calories too much, and your vet can help you figure out what a good goal weight. For obesee cats, this might be a weight higher than an ideal cat for a cat their size and frame. From that, you and your vet can agree on the daily calories for your cat.
The basic daily calories are calculated by determining the cat’s resting calorie requirement at their ideal weight. The resting energy requirement formula is:
[70 x (ideal weight in kg)]3/4
This formula is an estimate of how many calories your cat needs to hang out around the house all day but doesn’t include any exercise. Your vet will help you calculate how many less calories than this are necessary for safe weight loss for your kitty, whether it’s at or under her resting energy requirement. (You didn’t want to do that math anyhow, did you?)
Avoiding the Things that Make Cat Diets Fail
You may have fallen off of the diet wagon in the past, so you know that diets can fail to produce the hoped-for results. Did you hope that the chocolate cupcake after midnight didn’t count? Unfortunately, it did. For your kitty, cat treats count. So do whatever they mooch from you while you’re eating your dinner. So does that cheez doodle your cat grabbed while you were packing your lunch. With a much smaller calorie intake necessary than ours, your cat’s cheating on their diet can cause it to fail without your realizing they are eating very much extra food.
Hungry cats can be whiny cats. If your cat learns you will shake “just a little” extra kibble into their bowl when they give you that forlorn expression and meow, your kitty has won, and the diet has lost. Using an automated feeder may help cut down on the begging between feeding times because you aren’t seen as the bringer of the food.
Having multiple cats in the house hold can present special challenges. The cat with a higher metabolism who isn’t prone to obesity may take longer to eat their larger portion and be bullied away from their bowl by the dieting cat, who seems to spend all of their time asking, “Are you gonna finish that?” Feeding in separate rooms or putting the non-dieting cat’s food in an inaccessible location can help. You can put the food up high in a location that the heavy cat can’t reach by jumping but the skinny cat can. You can even set up a cat door between rooms in your house that recognizes individual cats either by a collar tag or their microchip to only allow access to the non-dieting cat.
Finally, some cats are just couch potatoes. (Looking at you again, Ashton!) It’s time for your cat to get a little more exercise! As little as ten minutes of play a day chasing the laser pointer, a feather wand, or other favorite toy can make a big difference in your cat’s weight loss.
Talk to Your Vet
Every cat is unique, and their metabolisms aren’t all the same, either. The diet that your friend’s cat’s vet recommended for his cat isn’t necessarily the right thing for yours. Calculating the resting energy requirement for a given weight is no substitute for a visit to your vet to discuss healthy diet options for your cat. So pay your vet a visit and be ready to have a chat about your cat being overweight. Your vet will appreciate how proactive you are, and your cat can be healthier and happier.
International Journal of Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine, Prevalence and Risk factors for Obesity in Adult Cats from Private US Veterinary Practices
Preventative Veterinary Medicine, A cross-sectional study to compare changes in the prevalence and risk factors for feline obesity between 1993 and 2007 in New Zealand