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Playtime! The Very Best Cat Toys + Essential Tips From a Cat Behaviourist

The lifestyle magazine for modern cats and their companions

SPRING · SUMMER 2021

Expert Kitten Advice!

Why Your Cat Needs To Play More

5 Must-Do’s p60

ALL HE OF T ST LE COO TUFF S CAT IDE! INS

Are You A Cat Whisperer? Weird Cat Behaviour Explained

p56

Is Your Cat Happy?

Giveaways Galore! Cancer Fighting Supplements Your Cat’s Tail: An Illustrated Guide

p22

How to Catify Your Life

moderncat.com DISPLAY UNTIL AUG ‘21

$6.95

p74

Miracle Kittens

Is a hidden health issue actually the cause of your cat’s misbehaviour? What to look for on p50


cat

SPRING/SUMMER 2021

VOL 10

38 FEATURES 24

Water Woes: Your Cat's Instinctual Water Drinking Needs Why your cat won't drink water from the bowl. BY MIESHELLE NAGELSCHNEIDER

30 Weird Cat Behaviour Explained Experts unpack and explain the most mystifying of cat behaviours. BY ROSE FROSEK 32

Why Your Cat Needs to Play (And How To Do It Right) How to use play to benefit your cat—and prevent behaviour issues. BY ZAZIE TODD

38

The Evolution of the Social Feline Scientific studies continue to overturn stereotypes of the antisocial cat. BY VIVIEN FELLEGI

50

“Behaviour Problem” or Medical Issue? Is a medical issue actually the root cause of your cat’s challenging behaviour? Here’s what to look for.

BY INGRID JOHNSON

56

Is My Cat Happy? Signs of a content cat.

BY ROSE FROSEK

64

Are You a Cat Whisperer? Young and female quiz takers were most likely to rank as the coveted “cat whisperers”.

BY DARCY MATHESON

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22 THE GOODS 22

Catify Your Life! Cat-tastic designs to thrill both you and your cat!

36

Toy, Toys, Toys! Toys to delight every type of cat, tested and approved!

68

Healthy Paws Solutions for everything from anxiety to itchiness.

36

In USA: MODERNCAT (ISSN 1929-3933) Volume 10, Issue 1. Published semi annually by Modern Cat Inc. at 142 Churchill Drive, Newington, CT 06111-4003. Postage paid at Hartford, CT and additional offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Modern Dog, PO Box 310402, Newington, CT 06131-0402.

NO 1


60 72 44

Picks of the Litter Cat litter choices for every concern and preference.

46

Supplements for Cats With Cancer: Three To Try

48

Safe Outdoor Access for Cats Improve your cat's life with safe access to the outdoors.

REGULAR FEATURES 6 Editor’s Letter 8 Contributors 10 Stuff We Love 12 The Scoop 18 Photo Contest 78 Marketplace

74 COVER CAT Adoptable kitten Bear, two months old, photographed by Shaina Fishman. In New York? Find a kitten like Bear at Social Tees Animal Rescue in Manhattan, NYC. Inset “Miracle Kitten” photo, TinyKittens.

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We’re Giving It Away! We’ve got months of cool cat stuff, from food, toys, and litter to a cat tree condo, up for grabs. Turn to page 20 to see all of the awesome giveaways!

60

5 Tips to Keep Your Kitten Busy! Five fun and easy must-do’s for raising a happy, well- adjusted kitten. BY DR. LIZ BALES

70

Connie’s Book Club Curl up with a good cat and a good book. Editor-in-Chief Connie Wilson’s round up of new must-read cat books.

72

Tiny Cat Stories Cat love in short form: miniature, reader-submitted cat stories of no more than 100 words

74

Miracle Kittens Two kittens overcome incredible challenges and become best friends, delighting the internet.

BY YAUNNA SOMMERSBY

80

What Your Cat’s Tail Position Means An illustrated guide. BY MICHELLE SIMPSON

ILLUSTRATION BY MICHELLE SIMPSON

BODY & SOUL

20

INSET PHOTO TINYKITTENS

CAT LIFE


EDITOR'S LETTER

Social icon

Circle Only use blue and/or white. For more details check out our Brand Guidelines.

CONNIE WILSON WITH DAO DAO, PHOTO TANYA KING

OUR READERS WRITE

Essential Reading For Cats

Getting caught up on my reading! —@calixthemainecoon

S

pring is upon us, and I don’t know if this season of promise and renewal has ever been more welcome. What a blessing our cats have been over this last long, strange, difficult year. Though there have undoubtedly been many challenges, there have been a few bright spots too, such as a surge in pet adoptions—some shelters emptied for the first time ever—and deepened bonds with feline companions through spending so much more time at home with our cats. With this in mind, we dedicate this issue to our amazing feline friends who provide us with endless love, comfort, and entertainment—and sometimes mystify us. Expert cat behaviourist Mieshelle Nagelschneider, aka “The Cat Whisperer,” explains your cats’ weird water-drinking habits and details how to meet their instinctual needs. Discover why your cat needs to play more (and how to do it right!) on page 32 and explore which supplements can help cats fighting cancer. We dove into researching the best cat toys (yes, this is the best job ever) and share the results on page 36. We also debunk the stereotypes of the antisocial cat, curate the coolest finds for the cat-friendly home, provide an illustrated guide to the many moods of your cat’s tail, and generally pack the issue with cat tips, trends, finds, and heartwarming stories. And there’s more; Are you a cat whisperer? Is your cat happy? Flip to page 64 and 56 to find out.

A Little Me(ow) Time

Mornings at Muse Cottage call for reading magazines and sipping tea, none for Impy tho as tea isn't safe for kitties. Impy is partial to @modern_ cat_mag—@rubysmusings

We hope you enjoy the issue. Thank you for being a part of our incredible, inspiring community of cat lovers. Happy Spring! With love,

Just Here For the Photos

Connie Wilson, Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief 6 moderncat

SPRI NG · S UMMER 2021

Hooman got @modern_cat_mag today. I stole a peek. I'm not sure what it says, though.—@kiwikitty.kiwicat


cat

C O N TRIBUT OR S

S P R I N G  ·   S U M M E R 2 0 2 1 VOL 10

Dr. Liz Bales is the Chief

Veterinary Advisor for Modern Cat and an expert in all things cat! She has appeared in these pages, as well as on Fox and Friends, ABC News, and NPR, among others. She’s also the founder of Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co, inventing The Hunting Feeder, which has changed the way veterinarians recommend that cats are fed. In this issue, she shares five fun ways to keep your kitten busy. Turn to page 60 for her expert advice and cute kittens galore.

NO 1

Publisher

Modern Cat Inc. Editor-in-Chief

Connie Wilson Editor & Creative Director

Jennifer Nosek Design & Production

Hayley Schmidt Sales & Marketing

Linda Helme, Amanda Dalla Zanna Comptroller

Cecilia de Roca Chan, CPA, CGA Accounting Services & Subscription Services

Vicki Szivos Marketing & Sales Coordinator

Georgia Riddle-Olsen Audience Development Coordinator

Yaunna Sommersby Subscriptions & Administration

Becky Belzile Office Assistant

Isabelle Orr

Talented Toronto-based freelance illustrator Raz Latif makes his Modern Cat debut in this issue! Focusing on editorial, book, fashion, marketing, and commercial campaigns, Raz utilizes artistic license to challenge the technical boundaries of his art, continually expanding his body of work with vibrant, emotive, and expressive pieces. Find him at razlatif.com, and turn to page 30 for his terrific series of illustrations for “Weird Cat Behaviours Explained.”

INTERESTED IN SUBSCRIBING? Give us a call at 1-800-417-6289 or subscribe online at moderncat.com/subscribe Advertising inquiries call (866) 734-3131 In Canada: MODERNCAT (ISSN 1929-3933) Volume 10, Issue 1. Published semi annually by Modern Cat Inc. at Suite 101 2930 Arbutus St, Vancouver, BC Canada V6J 3Y9 POSTMASTER: send address changes to Modern Cat, Suite 101 - 2930 Arbutus St, Vancouver, BC Canada V6J 3Y9 In USA: MODERNCAT (ISSN 1929-3933) Volume 10, Issue 1. Published semi annually by Modern Cat Inc. at 142 Churchill Drive, Newington, CT 06111-4003. Postage paid at Hartford, CT and additional offices. POSTMASTER: send address changes to Modern Dog, PO Box 310402, Newington, CT 06131-0402. PHONE

Modern Cat regular contributor

Mieshelle Nagelschneider is a world-renowned cat behaviourist and New York Times acclaimed catbehaviour-science author. She is the founder of The Cat Behavior Clinic and an expert on the 37 species of wildcats for NatGEO Wild’s Animals Doing Things with Howie Mandel, as well as for other National Geographic books and television documentaries. She conducts Zoom and phone consultations in over 30 countries. (You can schedule an appointment at thecatbehaviorclinic.com.) Turn to page 24 for her article on meeting your cat’s instinctual water needs.

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(604) 734-3131 OR TOLL FREE (866) 734-3131

FAX

SPRI NG · S UMMER 2021

(604) 734-3031 OR

TOLL FREE

(866) 734-3031

The publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, images, photographs or other materials. By accepting and publishing advertising the publisher in no way recommends, guarantees or endorses the quality of services or products within those advertisements. Copyright 2021 by Modern Cat Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means, electronic or mechanical, including the Internet or photocopying without the written permission of the Publisher. Modern Cat and its logotype are the trademarks of Modern Cat Inc. Modern Cat is published two times a year. Two-year subscription prices: Canada $18CAD, U.S.A. $18USD, foreign $45USD. Subscription orders and customer service inquiries should be sent to Modern Cat Subscription Services, Suite 101 - 2930 Arbutus St, Vancouver, BC Canada V6J 3Y9

PRINTED IN CANADA

www.moderncat.com Publications Mail Agreement Number 42496543 We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada. Nous reconnaissons l'appui financier du gouvernement du Canada.


Stuff We Love

Modern Cat staffers’ picks of the litter! 1 My Bengals Leo and Ellie are very clever and naturally curious! The Sliders interactive treat puzzle from Cat Amazing keeps them active and encourages them to play together while also engaging their prey drive.—Amanda ($25, catamazing.com) 2 Whether you are taking your cat to the vet or taking them along on a trip, the PopUp Kennel from Sturdi Products can be adapted for your cat’s needs! Available in a variety of sizes and models, these kennels are a great way to make sure your cat is comfortable and safe while on-the-go.—Yaunna (from $110, sturdiproducts.com) 3 Cats are intelligent and just as trainable as dogs—you just need the right lure! The freeze-dried 100% Salmon Treats from Ageless Paws are, as the name suggests, made of just salmon. High in protein and Omegas and sustainably sourced, they make a great training treat.—Becky ($11, agelesspaws.com) 4 Looking for a cat sitter? Kitten Sittin’ offers professional, in-home cat sitting from cat lovers who are committed to your kitty’s wellbeing while you are away. You can relax knowing their sitters customize their visits to meet your cat’s medical, dietary, and playtime needs.—Linda (kittensittin.biz) 5 If your cat has sensitive skin and irritations around their face, the Vetericyn Plus Feline Antimicrobial Facial Therapy could help! This liquid formula helps clean and soothe the affected areas while also preventing infection. I love that it is antibiotic and steroid-free!—Vicki ($13, vetericyn.com) 6 Honour the special bond between you and your feline friend with a delightful custom cushion from Everything About Animals! Simply send them a photo and they will make you a custom cushion featuring your cat made with organic and eco-friendly fabric and ink.—Cecilia (from $55, everythingaboutanimals.com) 7 Cat hair can find its way into everything! Fur-Zoff is a durable, eco-friendly pet hair remover that gets cat hair off of clothes, furniture, and carpets.—Isabelle ($13, furzoff.net) 8 Looking for a wet food for your picky kitty? Merrick’s discerning cat approved Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Bon Appétits gravies and morsels are available in chicken, salmon, turkey, and beef recipes. A great way to add extra sources of protein, veggies, and moisture into your cat’s diet.—Linda ($1.40 a pouch, merrickpetcare.com) 9 Unexpected vet visits lead to unexpected vet bills! Nationwide Pet Insurance coverage allows you to see any vet and then get your money back on those vet bills, giving you peace of mind and helping keep your cat healthy.—Connie (Plans start at $35 a month, petinsurance.com) 10 If your cat has a sensitive stomach, single ingredient treats are the way to go! These whole minnow treats from Jack’s Premium are delicious, crunchy, and responsibly sourced. Your cat will be purring for more!—Jennifer ($20, jackspremium.com) 11 The scrunchie you didn’t know your cat needed! The Scrunchie cat collars from Pepper Sky Pet are handmade with comfort and safety in mind. The stretchy collars are soft on fur, feature a side release or breakaway buckle, and come in fun patterns, colours, and fabrics.—Georgia ($15, pepperskypets.com) 12 My cat Beavis loves to carry his favourite toys, like the Crinkle Ball, around in his mouth. Durable, soft, and lightweight, it makes a crinkle sound cats love and is a great toy to teach your cat how to fetch while boosting play!—Hayley ($2.50, crinkleball.com)


H O U S E B R O K E N © 20 2 1 B Y K A P I T A L E N T E R T A I N M E N T A N D F O X M E D I A L L C

THE SCOOP

Pet Therapy Could your cat benefit from a therapy group? New animated show Housebroken explores just that

F

riends fans, Lisa Kudrow is back—as a pet! Airing this spring, irreverent animated comedy Housebroken follows a group of neighbourhood pets as they work through their issues inside and outside their therapy group. Kudrow voices Honey, a Poodle who hosts the group and struggles with her own problems, such as her arranged (by her human) marriage to Chief, a sloppy St. Bernard who enjoys eating socks and licking himself. Honey opens her living room for the group to come and support each other through the mayhem and majesty that is being a pet. The group includes a chonky, co-dependent cat named Chico, an aging Persian cat beauty queen, a street-smart cat who has his one eye on Tabitha, an anxious, sweater-wearing terrier, and a power hungry, know-it-all Corgi and fake service dog, among others (like a hamster, and George Clooney’s pig). Co-creator and Executive Producer Clea DuVall came up with the idea for the show based on her complicated relationship with her cat.

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“I am obsessed with our cats Pilot and Twig. I talk to them and about them all day, every day,” laughs DuVall. “My female cat, Twig, is very complicated. She went through a phase where she would lie on the TV stand and stare at me as I watched TV. It felt like there was something she wanted and was trying to communicate it to me but was disappointed because I just wasn’t getting it. I wished we could go to therapy together.” Featuring the voices of Lisa Kudrow, Will Forte, Clea DuVall, Nat Faxon, Sharon Horgan, Tony Hale, Sam Richardson, and Jason Mantzoukas, Housebroken promises a hilarious look at human behaviour told through the lens of a quirky group of pets and their dysfunctional relationships. We can’t wait for it to air. Housebroken premieres Monday, May 31st at 9PM ET/PT on FOX.


THE SCOOP Looking For Love Adopt these cats!

When Your Cat’s Your Co-Worker, This is The Desk You Want! The work-from-home desk you’ve been wishing for, cat beds included

“W

orking from home” is undoubtedly having a moment. When COVID hit last March and the hashtag #wfh began trending, the home office became the only office for many. After a year of working from often makeshift home-office environs, there is finally an elegant and ergonomic desk solution that takes into account that your co-worker is now your cat. Andrew Bilezikian founded his petinclusive furniture company, Habitable, during the pandemic to help those working remotely share spaces with their pets. His furniture is built upon the idea that the places we frequent should be able to accommodate those we love most—our cats, obviously. “I wanted to build a company made up of a community of users passionate about pets, committed to great design, and open to the idea of a shared ecosystem that equitably and intentionally meets the needs of people and animals in the home-office environment,” says Andrew.

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The first piece of furniture he designed was the Theo Desk, aptly named after Andrew’s Norwegian Forest Cat, Theo. It takes into account how animals occupy our work environments.

Trisha Best Friends Salt Lake City, Utah Trisha is a beautiful, long-whiskered, curious, vocal, special cat. She is an expert biscuit maker who loves to tell you all about her day. She’s also known to jump on the bed to see how you're sleeping, and she adores treats. Interested in setting up a virtual meet and greet with Trisha? Email utahadoptions@bestfriends.org

“We’ve created strategies and solutions that bring a level of comfort and calm to both their workday and yours,” says Andrew. Safety is, of course, a first priority. Included with each desk is a wiremanagement system to keep electrical cords away from pet-integrated areas. Just some of the nifty features include integrated pet beds with removable, washable covers and a storage bin for their toys and your home-office necessities. Customizable configurations take into account the needs of pets as they age or as we adopt new members of our family. “This consideration for the room our pets might require is what makes the Theo Desk so special,” says Andrew. “It provides the space necessary for us to share our moments with those we love.” (from $600, shophabitable.com)

Teller Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah Teller is a sweet, big boy and an absolute doll. Friendly and mellow, he approaches anyone entering the room and is quick to claim any available lap. He likes to go for harness walks and stroller rides. He also enjoys chasing laser lights. Teller enjoys the company of most other cats and snuggles with his cat friends. Email adoptions@bestfriends.org if you have room in your home for this cuddly cat.


THE SCOOP CAPTION THIS! Test your "funny." Create a caption for this cartoon and submit your entry at moderncat.com/cartooncaption. The most comic captions will be published in the next issue.

A Cat Anticipated to Join the Bidens in the White House!

CARTOON BY JOHN KLOSSNER; JKLOSSNER.COM

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE BIDEN CAMPAIGN

pending addition?

And the winning captions from last issue are…

After more than a decade’s absence, a cat is hopefully returning to the Oval Office It looks like Major and Champ, German Shepherds of the President-Elect Joe Biden, will have some feline company in the White House! While running for president, Joseph R. Biden Jr. said it was time for a pet to be put back in the White House and he seems intent on following through—The New York Times reports that Biden is said to be bringing a cat to the White House after a feline absence of more than a decade. The last presidential cat— named India—belonged to George W. Bush. This will certainly add an air of elegance to the Oval Office—but as cat owners know, when there’s a cat around, we’re not really in charge!

“Welp, guess we’re down to 8 lives now after THAT catastrophe.”

Lincoln is hailed as the first president to live among cats—two felines named Dixie and Tabby—back in 1860. This feline duo was succeeded by a series of other presidential cats belonging to Roosevelt, Coolidge, Ford, Carter, Clinton, and Bush. The most famous presidential cat was Clinton’s, an adopted stray named Socks. Socks was the subject of children’s books and the face of the children’s website for the White House.

SUBMITTED BY SARAH ELIZABETH

Much like the presence of dogs in the White House, cats (and pets of all kinds) serve to make presidents more relatable and down-to-earth. Having both makes for a well-rounded home, and a happy wife—Dr. Jill Biden told Angie Goff with Fox 5 that she’d “love to get a cat” after inauguration. No news on the arrival date, breed or name of the Biden’s future cat, but we’ll take your guesses!

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RUNNER-UP CAPTIONS “You're right, Margret, the litter box seats ARE the best seats in the house!!” SUBMITTED BY DEB GARNER

“It's so annoying when they cast an old tom as the love interest of a much younger queen.” SUBMITTED BY DEBBIE FERGUSON

“Did you want anything from the merch table? Catnip mouse, plastic ball, milk dish?” SUBMITTED BY DARLA BRAGG


R E SUP ! E T U C

PHOTO CONTEST WINNERS

ron

mars

yoko

pepper & poppins

loki

monkeymon grumpy kitzia

olie mittens

sonny

winston


pablo

tiguidou

pippa

lucky luna

molly macy j

cat molly

george

thor

mr. tiggy

tinkerbelle

Think your cat ought to grace the pages of Modern Cat?

sadie

oscar

zelda

Upload your cat's photo at moderncat.com/photocontest. Not only will he or she be entered to be our Cat of the Week, but a selection of the photos entered will appear on these pages!


ENTER TO WIN

We’re giving it away! Enter to win fabulous giveaways April through September. Go to moderncat.com/giveaways to enter! Lucky readers will win every two weeks.

april

may

1st-14th

Win 1 of 12 FurZoff, the new and better way to remove pet hair from your home and vehicles. Made in USA of 90% recycled material, it’s 100% durable!

15th-30th

Win a Unique Wooden Cat Tree Condo from Morris Animal Foundation! Not only will your cat love this tree, but it will also look great in any home.

june

1st-14th

Win 1 of 3 feline wellness packs from Vetericyn. Includes a bottle each of their Antimicrobial Feline Facial Therapy, Hydrogel, and Wound & Skin care.

15th-31st

Win one of six 12-pack cases of Intrepid Grain-Free Indoor cat food. Our exclusive 1.4 lb vacuum packages maximize nutritional value and keep the kibble fresh by preventing oxidation.

july

1st-14th

Win Armarkat’s Model F5502 cat tree! It’s Cat Daddy approved by Jackson Galaxy and holds 60 pounds of your favourite cats.

august

1st-14th

Win 1 of 4 kitty litter prize packs from Neon Litter! The prize pack contains 6 bags of litter and a neon litter scoop. It comes in 5 bright colours, has zero dust and is soft-on-paws!

15th-30th

Win 1 of 15 Satin Scrunchie Cat Collars from Pepper Sky Pets! This luxurious collar is handcrafted with ultra-soft fabric and a breakaway buckle to keep your cat safe and comfortable.

15th -31st

Win 1 of 3 SLIDERS from Cat Amazing! This vet recommended interactive puzzle feeder will keep your kitty busy and active while slowing down their eating.

1st-14th

Win 1 of 3 Sleep and Go 3-in-1 Cat Carriers and Bed from Doc & Phoebe! It acts as a cozy bed at home, a stress-free carrier, and comforting spot for vet visits.

15th-31st

4 lucky winners will receive a 3-month supply of highperforming, sustainable litter from Catalyst Pet. Choose from three different formulas.

september

1st-14th

Win a Pura Villa Litter Box and 3-month supply of Tofu Litter from Instachew! The litter box is easy to clean and the litter is made of all-natural, food-grade soy pulp.

15th-30th

Win 1 of 5 CBD pet health support soft chew remedy prize packs from HempVet! Includes their Immunity Support, Calm Support, and Joint Support for Cats.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Beginning April 1, 2021 at 12:01 AM (PST) through September 30, 2021 at 11:59 PM (PST), enter each day at moderncat.com/giveaways. Each biweekly giveaway ends at 11:59 PM (PST). Every two weeks, the specified number of winners for that giveaway will win the prize featured in the giveaway calendar (ARV: $200). Odds of winning depend on the number of entries received. Contest is open to legal Canadian and/or US residents 18 and older as of date of entry. Void in Puerto Rico and where prohibited by law. Giveaway subject to complete official rules available at moderncat.com/giveaways.

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INSET PHOTO: MOCHI SUBMITTED BY RIKA

s y a w a e v i G t a Gre


FAV FINDS

40

$

Your cat will love this Oasis Kardboard Cat House hideaway from Kitty Kardboard! Made with sturdy cardboard, it's easily assembled by simply folding and tucking. Ingenious! kittykardboard.com

from

63

$

The Artisan Double Wood Feeder from Bowsers Pet Products is a stylish and handcrafted elevated feeding solution! Available in three heights, it comes with dishwasher-safe ceramic bowls too. bowsers.com

Catify Your Life!

Cat-tastic designs to thrill both you and your cat!

209

$

Cat trees are a purrfect way to provide your cat with much needed vertical space. The easy to assemble Armarkat Classic Cat Tree features a ramp, several cozy hiding spots, and perches too! armarkat.com

50

$

Give your cat an outlet for instinctual scratching and encourage play with the Petkit Flying Fish Cat Scratcher featuring durable, high-quality sisal and two fish attached to springs! instachew.com

70

$

Let your house panther survey their domain from the CheekyCatz Window Hammock. This minimal, stylish window-mounted lookout will be your cat’s new favourite spot! cheekypetz.com

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90

$

Made from sustainable lanolin wool, the adorable Owl Caves from Dharma Dog Karma Cat are naturally odourresistant, machine washable, and cats LOVE them. karmacat.com


Water Woes:

Your Cat’s Instinctual Water Drinking Needs Why your cat won’t drink from her water bowl By Mieshelle Nagelschneider, cat behaviourist, cat-behaviour-science author, and founder of The Cat Behavior Clinic

Cats possess evolved wildcat survival traits that include drinking clean water that is not contaminated with bacteria.

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“Ever wonder why your cat prefers to drink out of your glass? Or from anywhere other than the water bowl next to his food? Instinctively, cats prefer to drink water that’s located away from their dead prey which, in nature, may contaminate their water with bacteria. To honour their survival instinct, separate their ‘dead prey’—which in this case is their store-bought food—from their water”. —Excerpt from Mieshelle Nagelschneider’s feline behavior science book, The Cat Whisperer.

M

any cat owners I have worked with over the last two decades have always been somewhat proud that their cats love drinking water out of the kitchen or bathroom faucet. “He must really be part wildcat to want that fresh running water!”, they tell me. This could not be more accurate. Incredibly, the genetic differences among African and European Wildcats and domestic cats are no greater than the difference between any two domestic cats. Domestic cats differ genetically from their Wildcat cousins almost solely in hair colour and, in some breeds, in a few other superficial physical differences that result from selective breeding. I’m also told by cat owners that becoming a slave to their cat’s “faucet fetish” several times a day isn’t all that bad, but many are worried their cats may not be drinking enough water (or any water at all) when the cat is home alone, and no one is manning the “watering hole.” Some say their cats will go as far as completely ignoring their water bowl and wait until someone turns on the sink faucet.


Multi-Cat Households: Other Advantages of Separating Food and Water Resources Another way to avoid creating a water intake issue is to have multiple water stations for a multi-cat household instead of just one. Can you imagine the issues that might arise if seven human roommates were forced to share one water glass every day? Cats are territorial over resources to varying degrees and even more territorial than dogs because claiming important resources like food and water areas are how cats structure their social hierarchy. “As with the food bowl, all it takes is one cat sitting next to the water bowl or on the pathway to it to intimidate another cat. So spread the water wealth.”—Excerpt from Mieshelle’s book, The Cat Whisperer.

Canned Cat Food:

Yes, cats love fresh, running water. They are intelligent creatures that possess evolved wildcat survival traits that include drinking clean water that is not contaminated with bacteria—hence the fresh running kitchen faucet water is probably safer than the stagnant water in their water bowl. This bacteria worry is especially prominent if the owner has located the cat’s water next to their food source. Again, this survival instinct in cats means they will innately think their water is contaminated with bacteria by their “dead prey,” which in this case is the cat food that was delivered by Amazon. I’ve even seen cats that are so discouraged with drinking water out of their own water bowl that they will gravitate to the dog’s water bowl instead. As unappetizing as that might sound to most of us cat owners, to a cat, the dog’s water is fresher because it’s not next to the cat’s food source. This is even more true if the dog’s water bowl is away from his own food source. Cats will commonly search out clean and safe water resources which commonly include your glass of water

(many cat owners have an “aha” moment right here), any sink or bathtub faucet in the home, the toilet, or the water on the shower floor. A simple solution to all this, as with remedying so many other cat “behaviour issues,” is to provide for the cat’s instinctual needs. Ready? Move the water bowl away from the cat’s food bowl. Not just a few feet away (however, this would be better than nothing), but 10 feet away or more, or even against an opposite wall of the same room. Try running a mini cat experiment by placing several water bowls filled to the brim with fresh water in different locations around your home and watch what happens. You will soon learn your cat’s favourite “watering holes” by paying attention to the water levels. I’ve seen many cats prefer a water bowl over a cat water fountain because the fountain was located next to the cat’s food area and the water bowl wasn’t. Cat owners have even come to believe their cats are afraid of the newly purchased water fountain when in all actuality, the cat just did not like its placement next to the food resource.

If your cat already eats canned cat food every day, mix in a small amount of water into each meal. If your cat only eats dry food, speak to your veterinarian about adding canned food into his diet. There are important health benefits to not feeding your cat only dry cat food. The next time you see your cat attempt to drink out of your water glass, you will now understand and hopefully appreciate the little “wildcat” that shares a home with you. 

Staff favourite! Cats are naturally attracted to running water. The Catit LED Flower Fountain comes with a triple-action filter and the petal top allows your cat to drink even when the fountain is off! Beloved by staff cats Rosie and Nuit. ($38, catit.ca) moderncat.com

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Suzy Smith

Maggie Fosdick

Shana Singleton

Jessica Hillman

CATTOOS

Lori De Boer

We're here with your cattoo (aka cat tattoo) inspiration via these inked tributes to feline best friends.

Rachel Trotman

Nicole Ashe Social icon

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BEHAVIOUR

WEIRD CAT BEHAVIOUR EXPLAINED

The actions of our enigmatic feline friends frequently leave cat parents confused or concerned. Here, cat experts unpack and explain commonly mystifying cat behaviours. By Rose Frosek | Illustrations by Raz Latif

Q

Q

Why does my cat suck on and knead blankets? “When cats engage in the behaviour of suckling and/or kneading on soft items such as blankets, it's a holdover from kittenhood when they would nurse on the mother cat,” explains pioneer cat-behaviourist Pam JohnsonBennett and star of the Animal Planet UK series Psycho Kitty. “It's not unusual for adult cats to still retain those behaviours well beyond the kitten stage. Kneading is an especially common behaviour when a cat is relaxed and comfortable. Suckling can occur when a cat is happy and content but can also be displayed when stressed.”

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Why does my cat lick me?

“Primarily, if your cat is licking you, you can take it as a show of affection,” says Dr. Marci Kolski, a certified feline behaviour and training consultant at Feline Behavior Solutions. “Bonded cats will groom each other, and cats who enjoy the company of their people will groom them as well. They may also lick you as a way to ‘mark’ you, and put their scent on you, much the same way cats rub up against people using their cheeks and forehead (called ‘head bunting’). When cats live together, there's typically an ‘allogroomer’ who will groom all the cats so that they develop a kind of group scent; your cat could be attempting to incorporate you into the group as well. And don't discount that your cat might actually like the way you taste—for example, if you've been working out and are a little sweaty, your kitty may like the salty taste of your skin—or just be trying to let you know it's time for a shower!”

does my cat Q Why chatter? A cat’s chirps and chatter are preydirected sounds, explains Dr. Susanne Schötz, a Swedish phonetics expert and cat sounds researcher. These vocalizations are part of the cat’s hunting instinct. The cat is copying the calls of their prey. Riveted by the sounds a bird or insect makes, the cat starts to chirp, tweet, and chatter in response.


Q

Why is my cat sneezing?

“There are several things that can cause cats to sneeze, says Dr. Katherine Kramer, Medical Director at VCACanada Vancouver Animal Wellness Hospital. “Occasional sneezes can occur due to dust, odours or other airborne allergens. Constant sneezing is more of a concern and warrants more investigation since it could indicate: 1. An upper respiratory infection: There are several types of respiratory infections (bacterial, viral, fungal) that can affect cats. Even indoor cats can be vulnerable as most of these agents are highly contagious.  2. Inflammatory disease: Cats can develop chronic sinusitis or rhinitis and even develop polyps that can cause sneezing and breathing problems.  3. Foreign body: Cats that eat grass can occasionally have a blade or seed that migrates under the soft palate into the nasal cavity. In our practice, we've had some success using a homeopathic remedy, silica, to cause the kitty to sneeze out the foreign body.  4. Tooth root abscess: Abscessed tooth roots can cause infections to spread to the sinuses and nasal cavity, causing sneezing, purulent nasal discharge, and halitosis.  5. Cancer: Although rare, cats can develop tumors of the bone that invade the sinuses and nasal passages.   “Please consult your veterinarian if your cat is sneezing constantly, your cat has nasal discharge or congestion, or your cat is not eating,” she advises. “A cat's desire to eat is motivated by his/her sense of smell and an anorexic cat is nothing to sneeze at!”

Q

Q

Why does my cat rub his face on me/my feet?

“Cats communicate through smell and pheromones,” explains veterinarian Dr. Liz Bales. Cats produce pheromones in glands on their face. When they rub their face on you, they are depositing their smell and their pheromones on you. They are claiming you as ‘their person!’”

Why does my cat meow so much?

“Meowing is a form of communication,” says Mikel Delgado, Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis. “Kittens meow and cry for mom when they need help or feel insecure. But adult cats don't typically meow at one another. Meowing is something reserved for adult cats who want to communicate with us! If you have an excessively vocal cat, the first thing to do is make sure all of their needs are met and you aren't dealing with a medical issue that can lead to more vocalizations. This is relatively common in older cats. “In most cases, the meowing is a learned behaviour. Cats figure out quickly that meowing gets them something they want—your attention, food, a door opened! Your responses can reinforce meowing behaviour and your cat will make the connection that meowing is a great way to control YOUR behaviour. Specific breeds (such as Siamese) are known for being chatty, and some cats are likely more communicative by nature (sounds like some humans you know?). “Some cat guardians really enjoy the back-and-forth conversations with their kitty, but some folks really don't enjoy being woken up in the middle of the night to a cat ‘singing the song of their people,’ so be aware of how you respond to your cat when they are meowing and think about rewarding them when they are being quiet instead!” moderncat.com

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Why Your Cat Needs to Play and How To Do It Right! How to use play to benefit your cat— and prevent behaviour issues By Zazie Todd

MY

tortoiseshell cat, Melina, loves to play soccer. Anything of an appropriate size will do, whether it’s a piece of scrunched up paper or an official cat toy. Her favourite is a ball with a bell that goes tinkle, tinkle as she dribbles it across the room. Solo play like this is important to cats, but so is interactive play with us; providing opportunities for play is one of the central tenets of good cat welfare. But can play help to prevent or reduce behaviour problems? And why is it so important? “We see play across the animal kingdom,” says Dr. Mikel Delgado, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Minds and Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. “We believe that play serves functions for animals including allowing them to practice behaviours that they might need later. Those could be social

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interactions like fighting or they could be more day-to-day survival type interactions like hunting. We think that cats practice hunting through what we consider play.” Making time to play with your cat every day is important. In a study reported in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior, people who played with their cat for five minutes at a time were less likely to say their cat has a behaviour problem than those who only played with their cat for one minute. The frequency of play did not make a difference in this study. Even so, it’s important to think about your own cat and what they need, says Dr. Beth Strickler, veterinary behaviourist at Veterinary Behavior Solutions in Tennessee and co-author of this research. “Every cat is an individual, and a cat has individual preferences for not only type of play but for the duration of their play,” she says.


The Types Of Toys Your Cat Should Have “Thinking about the most common prey types that cats hunt can help you choose your toy collection,” says Dr. Delgado. That means things that look like mice, birds, snakes, insects, and rabbits or squirrels. And interactive toys, called wand toys or teasers, are great fun too. In Dr. Strickler’s study, a furry toy mouse was the most popular cat toy and remains a firm favourite. But since that research was completed, there are “all these phenomenal cognitive toys that we have now,” says Dr. Strickler, such as puzzle toys that make cats work to get food out. Before spending a lot of money, she recommends to “ask yourself what the cat likes to do. Does the cat like to play with its paws and move things around? Does the cat like to get inside things and hide? Does the cat like to jump across things? Is it more of a physical cat? Does it like to pounce on things?” That information can help you to choose toys. And you don’t have to spend a lot of money. “Cats love a crinkledup ball of paper or a bottle cap more than many commercial toys!” says Ingrid Johnson, Certified Cat Behavior Consultant of Fundamentally Feline in Atlanta, GA. Cats also like novelty when it comes to toys, so it is also a good idea to rotate them. “To bring life to old toys, I recommend marinating them in your cat’s scent enrichment of choice: catnip, silvervine, valerian, Tatarian honeysuckle etc.,” she says.

IF YOUR CAT IS BORED, YOU MAY SEE BEHAVIOURAL PROBLEMS SUCH AS: · Increased stress and anxiety

· Decreased activity · Aggression to other cats in the home

· Aggression to family members

· Excessive or decreased grooming

Play can help with various issues, from a shy or despondent cat to aggression. Always see your vet first because behaviour problems can have a medical cause.

Another easy option is a cardboard box. “Environmental changes such as brown paper bags, cardboard boxes, moving a cat condo to a new window (with a bird feeder) can be stimulating,” says Ingrid. Dr. Strickler says she loves boxes as places to put things in and hide things for the cat to find.  moderncat.com

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6

TIPS FOR ENGAGING YOUR CAT IN PLAY FROM DR. MIKEL DELGADO Rotate toys within and between play sessions: Cats can get bored with the same toy, so make play sessions more effective by changing out toys every few minutes, or when your cat seems to lose interest. For many cats, you will see a renewal in excitement to play!

1

It’s not just visual: Don’t forget to engage all of your cat’s senses while playing. Move the toy in tissue paper to create exciting rustling sounds. Let your cat hold the toy briefly from time to time so they can fully inspect how it feels and smells (or even tastes!).

2

Act like prey: What would a bird or mouse do? Try to mimic those behaviours with the toy. Vary your movements, try to hide behind or under objects, flutter around, freeze in fear, and most importantly...don’t just poke your cat with the toy. No bird or mouse would wittingly walk up to their predator.

3

Go slow: Sometimes less is more. Cats are stalk-and-rush hunters and enjoy the “watching” part of play. Try slowing the toy down, and more importantly, varying your speed. You’ll know your cat is hooked when you see them staring, sneaking up, and doing the infamous pre-pounce “butt wiggle.”  

4

Play on a routine: Cats thrive on stability in their environment. Try to play on a rough schedule each day so your cat can look forward to this daily interaction with you.

5

Put away interactive toys when not in use: Toys with strings and wires are not safe to leave out with your cat. Always secure them in a closet, drawer or toy chest when you aren’t actively using them.

6

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Play Is Needed Throughout Your Cat’s Life Play is fun for cats of all ages. Though it’s easier to play with kittens—they’re more physically active, jumping around, climbing, doing backflips, and so on—even senior cats like to play, notes Dr. Delgado. And while it’s especially important to think of safety with kittens, it matters to all cats. Always put interactive toys away when not in use so there is no risk of the cat getting tangled in or strangled by the string. Many cats like toys that make a noise, like those with bells or squeaks, but shy cats may prefer quiet toys, such as bug-like toys. For cats that are obese or not used to moving around very much, Dr. Strickler suggests starting with a lickable type of toy, where they will have the sensory experience of licking food off a textured surface. Another great option for these cats is clicker-training them to move from one spot to another (e.g. to follow your hand or a target stick). In general, kittens and young cats will need longer play sessions, although some older cats may surprise you with their enthusiasm. Since a typical hunting sequence is five to 10 minutes, that’s a good length of time to aim for, but senior cats may like longer but less intense sessions. Whatever the age of your cat, begin to slow things down as you get near the end of the session. Then, instead of abruptly taking the toy away, always let your cat catch their “prey.” It’s a good idea to give your cat a toy mouse, a food puzzle toy, or a treat if you prefer, so that they actually get something at the end. Cats seem to play more when hungry, so timing play sessions for just before mealtime is a good idea. Try to make time to play with your cat two to three times a day for young cats and at least once a day for an older cat, and then adjust if needed.


How To Tell If Your Cat Needs More Play “Most people need to do more,” says Dr. Strickler. Play can be especially helpful for cats that are stressed. And when a cat has behaviour issues, such as aggression between cats in a multi-cat home or attention-seeking behaviours, more play is part of the behaviour plan because it counts as enrichment. Behaviour modification and medication will likely also be needed for behaviour problems, and for cats who are aggressive to people, care should be taken to ensure play is safe. But what are the signs a cat guardian should look out for that mean they need more play? “Attacking your ankles!” says Dr. Delgado. Learning to read your cat’s body language will help you determine how much play time your cat needs. Sometimes people think their cat is soliciting petting when actually they would prefer to play. In addition to ensuring cats have toys to play with on their own—like Melina and her soccer toys—we should make time for interactive play with our cats, as well as make small, interesting changes to their environment, like adding a cardboard box. And remember, it’s not just about the chase, but the seeking, hiding, stalking, and pawing too. So, relax, take your time, and watch your cat having fun. 

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DISCOVER

The Evolution of the Social Feline Scientific studies continue to overturn stereotypes of the antisocial cat By Vivien Fellegi | Illustration by Michelle Simpson

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T

oronto-based freelance writer Paul Lima, recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, struggles to stay awake and finish his story. But a wave of fatigue submerges his will, and he collapses onto the couch seconds before passing out.

When Paul awakes, he registers a deep, content purr vibrating throughout his rib cage. As his eyes flutter open, he sees his blond-hued cat, Champagne, carefully kneading his chest. He is touched by the devotion. “It’s like the cat knew Paul needs company, Paul needs comfort,” he says. “She made a conscious choice to tend to me.” Paul scratches her under the chin, and Champagne lifts her head so he can reach in further. Then he inches upright and shuffles into the kitchen to find her a treat. Stories like these refute the prevailing stereotypes of frosty felines. “The dog is man’s best friend, whereas cats are seen as…self-sufficient, (not) caring about their humans,” says Dr. Emma Grigg, Lecturer and Research Associate at UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine. The latest research on feline social savvy, however, has been chipping away at these biases. “There’s a lot of individual variation with cats—some are very solitary but many are not,” says Dr. Grigg. Though cats’ brains retain the imprint of their lone wildcat ancestor, most cats, especially kittens socialized early, can identify our gestures, emotions, voices, and requests. Perhaps it’s this mix of feral and friendly elements that makes our synchrony even more special. “It is amazing that we have this predator living in our house and it can bond so closely with people,” says Dr. Grigg. The exploration of feline social cognition (how cats think about others) is a relatively new field. Domestic animals were not even deemed worthy of study in this regard until Hungarian ethologist Dr. Adam Miklosi, Professor, Eotvos Lorand University (Budapest) began investigating human-dog communication in the early 2000’s. A few years later it was the cat’s turn to shine. The resultant research on feline social graces is shedding light on the cat-human kinship. In order to grasp the workings of the cat mind, we have to trace the evolution of their brainpower, says Dr. Grigg. The African wildcat was an independent hunter with rudimentary social acumen. Aside from scent marking to claim his territory, Felis Sylvestris Lybica had little more to share. Domestication, which began 8,000-10,000 years ago with the advent of agriculture, gradually civilized these boorish feline forbears. When people started storing grain in barns and attracting rodents, cats took advantage of the freebie meals, slinking in for midnight raids. The farmers were nothing more than meal tickets at this time. “Humans are huge and scary, so initially (the cats) avoided them,” says Dr. Grigg.  moderncat.com

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Those who ignore their cats reap what they sow. “They’re producing a cat who doesn’t seek them out.”

Over time, the more outgoing animals who could tolerate our presence scored more rats than their timid feline fellows. “(These) cats stuck around, bred with one another, and produced more cats less afraid,” explains Dr. Kristyn Vitale, Assistant Professor at Unity College in Maine. Humans were likely charmed by these creatures and invited them into their homes as companions. Importantly, these new pets could relate to their owners. A frightened animal can’t look at our faces or learn our communicative signals, says Dr. Grigg, whereas cats more tolerant of humans have the presence to learn our social cues. These changes in temperament were likely accompanied by physiological and anatomical alterations. We know that domestication developed dogs’ brains in the regions used for social interaction, says Dr, Grigg. Though it hasn’t been documented, cats’ minds likely evolved in a similar fashion, equipping felines with the cognitive tools to process human signals.

Though cats have moved along the spectrum from savage to civilized, the process has not touched each animal equally. Because their domestication is so recent, the most congenial pussycat still harbors a touch of wildcat. Additionally, the house cat’s gene pool continues to mix with that of its closer-to-wild ancestor when pets mate with stray or feral cats. Early handling (preferably between two and seven weeks) can, however, temper the nature of these wildlings and help them vibe with humans. All these factors have spawned an animal whose affability varies widely. The cat can operate solo, or it can play like a dog, says Dr. Miklosi. “We like variation—cats are an exciting animal to study,” he says. Dr. Miklosi kicked off the Hungarian study of feline social cognition in 2005, when he compared cats’ and dogs’ responsiveness to human gestures. After hiding treats in one of two bowls, the experimenters pointed towards the invisible food. The pets who headed to the dish that was indicated were rewarded with the snacks. Dr. Miklosi concluded that the two companion animals were equally competent at deciphering human body language.

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Cats commune with us in many other ways as well. They have a knack for training their owners to heed their ever-expanding vocabulary used to voice different desires. “Cats learn…which sounds will get what they want from their humans,” says Dr. Grigg. Cats also read their owners’ emotions. Like human infants, cats use their caregivers’ reactions to evaluate unfamiliar and scary situations, a behaviour known as social referencing. In a 2015 study undertaken by Isabella Mercola, cats and owners watched as a fan with plastic green ribbons was turned on. As the streamers waved and whirred, most of the felines (79 percent) gazed anxiously back and forth between their owners and the menacing machine. When the humans acted worried, the cats eyed the room’s exit, seemingly hatching an escape plan. When the owners smiled at the fan, the cats relaxed. The investigation confirmed that cats follow the lead of their owners when navigating potentially dangerous environments. This tactic is advantageous, says Dr. Vitale. “That could lead to your survival.” Cats’ sensitivity to our feelings has also been documented by behavioural biologist Dr. Dennis Turner, Research Director, Institute for Applied Ethology and Animal Psychology in Zurich, Switzerland. “Most cat owners are convinced that cats can read their moods,” he says. In a 2001 paper, he showed that cats were clued in to their owners’ crises. When their caregivers felt down, the animals tried to console them by rubbing against their legs, gazing into their eyes, and vocalizing. Their efforts paid off. “The more the cats did that the better the…mood,” says Dr. Turner. This attunement to human signals demonstrates the value cats place on the relationship with their caretakers. “When you see someone as the source of care and security… he becomes important to you,” says Dr. Grigg. This affiliation between caregivers and their dependent cats resembles the tie between parents and children. In this relationship, known as attachment, infants rely on their parents for basic requirements like food and protection. 


for something and they reciprocate…we become fond of them,” says Dr. Grigg. Cats also boost our self-esteem when they greet us with a “meow” and follow us around the house. Also, “there is no judgement…that is hugely valuable for us,” notes Dr. Grigg.

Dr. Vitale wondered if this dynamic existed between cats and caregivers. In a 2019 experiment, cats and their owners entered an unfamiliar space. When their humans left the room, the cats began crying and scoured every corner for their missing caretakers. When the humans returned, 64 percent of the cats greeted them joyfully, then took off to explore, mirroring the findings of the parentchild attachment study.

As science continues to overturn negative stereotypes of cats’ affability, experts like Dr. Vitale feel vindicated. “Most people would think cats aren’t social…This is not supported by our research,” she says. Far from acting self-sufficient, cats master our messages, sit in our laps, and purr to show their contentment. “All are social behaviours indicating there is a…relationship between individuals.”

The study was the first to demonstrate attachment between cats and humans. “The majority of cats use humans as a source of comfort,” says Dr. Vitale. The cats’ desolation when they were parted from their owners parallels separation anxiety found amongst human babies. Like securely bonded children, the cats bounced back quickly after their caregivers returned. The prevalence of secure attachment amongst cats and owners (64 percent) was almost identical to that amongst humans (65 percent).

These conclusions have real world implications. “If you have outdated perceptions about cats…you would have a weaker bond with (them),” says Dr. Grigg. Suppose you think your cat is low maintenance, for instance. You might then ignore him. But even the most reclusive cats require a modicum of regard and recreation. When these essentials are missing, bored cats may vent their frustration on your furniture or on a fellow feline. These misbehaviours can create further rifts between owners and pets.

Cats’ craving for closeness was documented in another study published by Dr. Vitale in 2017. In the experiment, shelter cats and pets were offered four options simultaneously: a toy, a treat, a scent, or human interaction. Experimenters clocked the amount of time the animals spent engaging with each. Fully half of all cats devoted most of their time to human company, favouring this possibility over all the others, including food. “The fact that cats prefer social interaction…indicate(s) that this is important,” says Dr. Vitale. “They do care.”

Another common belief is that felines aren’t trainable, says Dr. Grigg. But cats can, in fact, be taught to sit, walk in a harness, or even to lie still in a kayak. “Shared activity is an important component of the bond between human and companion animal,” says Dr. Grigg.

Though they prize our presence, our cats keep their distance when we’re distracted. In a 2018 experiment, cat owners were instructed to either sit listlessly on the floor or call and caress their cats. The felines ventured closer to their caregivers and spent more time with them when their overtures were requited. When the protocol was repeated with shelter cats, these animals were hungrier for companionship, pursuing contact with strangers even when rebuffed. The paper’s take home message is that house cats want to hobnob with their humans, but only if we’re responsive. In other words, those who ignore their cats reap what they sow. “They’re producing a cat who doesn’t seek… them out,” says Dr. Vitale. Most humans, fortunately, are gratified by their cats’ attention and return their devotion. “When we care

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Laurel Jones, from Monte Lake, BC, found solace when she shared her grief with her cat. Before her husband Skip Jones died of a brain bleed in 2017, their “tough-looking” tortoiseshell cat ignored her completely. “She would cuddle with him…but wouldn’t have anything to do with me,” says Laurel. That changed overnight after Skip’s passing. The once oblivious cat tuned into her anguish and offered comfort. “I had really black times when I just didn’t feel life was worth anything anymore,” says Laurel. Evenings were the worst. There were no distractions, and she couldn’t fall asleep in her half-empty bed. A floor below, Bella pricked up her ears to Laurel’s sobs and would pad upstairs to the bedroom and leap onto the bed. The rich rumble of her purr gradually penetrated through the pain. Laurel’s heartbeat would slow and her tense limbs loosen, until finally, finally, she’d slip into slumber. “Bella was my nighttime lifeline,” says Laurel. 

ILLUSTRATION BY MICHELLE SIMPSON

When these needs are met consistently, the child ventures into the world with confidence, knowing he can retreat to his secure base if threatened. A secure attachment forms in 65 percent of all parent-child relationships.


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Save yourself from schlepping home heavy litter from the pet store! A subscription to Kitty Poo Club delivers litter, accessories like litter boxes and scoops, and even toys and treats right to your door! Choose from their selection of fine-grain, silica, clay, and organic soy litters, add in any desired extras, and have it all delivered to your home, on schedule. Litter made effortless! (Subscription plans start at $22, kittypooclub.com)

Crystal Clear Snappy Tom’s Natural Non-Clumping Lavender Crystal cat litter is superabsorbent, long-lasting, lightweight, and non-toxic. Made of silica, this crystal litter prevents bacteria growth by absorbing moisture, keeping things dry—no clumps or saturation to clean! ($24, snappytom.com)


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BODY & SOUL

3T

Supplements for Cats With Cancer

hough there are supplements that can help cats and dogs in their fight against cancer—including medicinal mushrooms, lactoferrin, ashwagandha, green tea extract, milk thistle, and turmeric—they don't often get used for cats due to the taste and aroma, says Dr. Katherine Kramer, Medical Director at VCA-Canada Vancouver Animal Wellness Hopsital and Director of the Canadian Association of Veterinary Cannabinoid Medicine. “Cats are so much more difficult to medicate and often cats with cancer are not eating well anyway so I hesitate to add anything that may cause them to turn away from food,” Dr. Kramer says. “For cats I find I rely more on CBD and essential fatty acids but I do have some cats that will take TCVM herbs.”

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Omega-3 essential fatty acids

serve as natural anti-inflammatories in cells. There is evidence that these fatty acids can reduce postoperative infections and acute radiation side effects in human cancer patients, as well as being able to kill cancer directly and reduce the proliferation of cancer cells. “Multiple studies highlight the benefits of omega-3s for not only cancer, but many inflammatory diseases,” says Dr. Kramer. “It is important to look for a quality product and introduce it gradually since high doses can cause diarrhea.”

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CBD,

2 a hemp-derived cannabinoid, has become very popular for its health benefits for humans and pets. “CBD can be very helpful in relieving pain and nausea and stimulating appetite in most cats,” says Dr. Kramer. “This can be very beneficial for providing not only palliative care but relieving the side effects of chemotherapy. There is also a large body of evidence that suggests CBD and many of the other chemicals in cannabis have specific anti-cancer effects. There are several very exciting studies underway looking at the effects of CBD on specific dog cancers.” Although veterinary cannabinoid medicine has come a long way, and while CBD is legal in both the U.S. and Canada, veterinarians in Canada and the U.S. are not allowed to recommend, prescribe or dispense cannabis or CBD products. “However, veterinarians can engage in harm reduction education and advise on how to find regulated CBD products and how to use them safely,” says Dr. Kramer. “A majority of my geriatric and cancer patients receive a CBD supplement.” (Always talk to your vet as there are potential drug reactions that could make chemotherapy less effective.)

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) 3

There are several formulas that may benefit cats with cancer, says Dr. Kramer. “Common cancer preparations are Hoxsey formula, Stasis breaker, HSA formula, and Xue Fu Zhu Yu Tang. Herbal formulas typically contain multiple herbs and have complex mechanisms of action. Recommendations for a specific formula is tailored to the individual patient. Combining herbs with other aspects of TCVM (acupuncture, massage, food therapy) can be quite effective,” she says.


Help For Cats Fighting Cancer

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The Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in Sammy’s Shiny Coat from Stengel Oils will keep your cat’s coat and skin healthy, while helping with cognitive function! Omegas are also known to help with inflammation and immune system support. sammysshinycoat.com

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Suzie’s CBD Bites for Cats are made with full-spectrum, human-grade, and organic hemp grown on their USDA organic farm, and the chicken and tuna flavour makes it easy to deliver the benefits of CBD. suziespettreats.com

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Made with broad-spectrum, non-GMO hemp with naturally occurring CBD, HempVet’s fishflavoured Immunity Support for Cats soft chews support antibody and lymphocyte production and immune system function. hempvet.pet moderncat.com

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BODY & SOUL

Safe Outdoor Access For Cats Improve your cat’s life with safe access to the outdoors

C

ats undoubtedly love exploring outside, stretching in the sunshine and enjoying the fresh air. But allowing your cat to roam freely can have a detrimental effect on lifespan. According to UCDavis Veterinary Medicine, cats with free, uncontained access to the outdoors live shorter lives on average and are in danger of being hit by vehicles and attacked by dogs or even predatory birds. Outdoor cats also have the opportunity to contract infectious diseases from other felines, get into catfights, come across poisonous substances, or cross paths with people with a distaste for their kind. Even though your cat may be “street smart,” cats are natural predators, with some studies estimating that cats in the contiguous United States annually kill between 1.3 to 4 billion birds. Avid birdwatcher or not, one cannot dismiss the effect domestic felines have on natural wildlife. But sometimes keeping a cat completely indoors is not an option. That’s where catproofing comes in. With a little DIY skill and finesse, you can create a safe area where your cat can enjoy the benefits of being outdoors without the risks. One option is Cat Fence In, “keeping cats safe since 1990.” For those with a backyard and substantial fence, Cat Fence In is a netting attachment that runs along the top of the structure, effectively preventing cats from climbing or jumping over. Cat Fence In “fits on any height wood, vinyl, masonry, wire or chain link fence.”

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They also provide Tree Guards which prevent your cat from scaling any tree. The best part? Cat Fence In offers a one year satisfaction guarantee. Easy Pet Fence has another option, offering Cat Fence Kits like the Kitty Corral to allow your pet to soak up the sun, no existing fence required. In this complete solution, the fencing is made from poly mesh which discourages climbing. Different sizes can be set up with simple installation that doesn’t require the help of professionals. They also offer completely covered cat enclosures in a range of sizes for extra peace of mind. Easy Pet Fence offers free samples so you can get to know the material up close before making your purchase and provides DIY instructions for set-up. Whether you’re looking to safely expand your indoor cat’s horizons or restrict your cat’s current no-holds-barred access to the outdoors for their protection, there are solutions and options available! Enrich your cat’s life with safe outdoor access and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air together. —Becky Belzile Check out catfencein.com and easypetfence.com.


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What does your cat track outside of the litter box? BoxiePro products contain deep cleaning probiotics to prevent unseen waste from spreading to other areas of the home. The BoxiePro line includes clumping clay litter, BoxiePro Air lightweight, plantbased clumping litter and BoxiePro Litter Extender. Cleaner Paws = Cleaner Home. boxiecat.com/pro

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UKIUKI Freeze-Dried cat food is made with high-quality ingredients and without the use of corn, preservatives, additives, or artificial flavours and colours. It contains a high proteincontent and is available in a selection of proteins like duck, beef, and lamb that your cat will love! amazon.com/UKIUKI Gain valuable insight into your cat’s genetic health with My CatScan, the largest and most accurate genetic screen on the market. Test for more than 80 diseases and traits commonly found in cats, with quick results in 14 days or less. Safe, easy and purr-fect for every breed! mycatscan.com Support your cat’s vision with ophthalmologist formulated Ocu-GLO Soft Chews! New from Animal Necessity, the worldwide leader in vision health, these chews deliver the same high quality antioxidants you’ve come to know in the original Ocu-GLO formula. Mature cats weighing at least 5lbs will love these flavourful Ocu-GLO Soft Chews! animalnecessity.com

Cats get asthma too! Like children with inhalers, medicating just their airways is preferred to limit the side-effects of steroid pills that may halt play, harm health, and change behaviour. Rated easierto-administer by pet parents, the AeroKat Chamber targets medication to the lungs to help coughing cats breathe better. Does your cat have asthma? TrudellAnimalHealth.com/cat-quiz moderncat.com

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“Behaviour Problem” or Medical Issue? Is a medical issue actually the root cause of your cat’s challenging behaviour? Here’s what to look for By Ingrid Johnson

C

ats are masters of disguise. In the animal kingdom, cats win the gold medal for their ability to mask and hide pain. Their outward appearing symptoms can be so subtle that oftentimes changes in behaviour are the only signal that something is amiss. Sadly, the root cause of the behaviour changes frequently go unrecognized by many human caregivers until they are blatantly obvious or difficult to live with. There are myriad behaviours that are in fact caused by underlying medical issues. Here are some of the most common.

PROBLEM:  Pooping Outside the Box

Elimination outside of the litter box may have absolutely nothing to do with the cat not liking the box, its location, or the cleanliness, factors often discussed as potential causes of problem elimination cases. An often overlooked cause is discomfort while using the box due to an underlying medically based pain, which can result in long-term litter box avoidance. This avoidance can persist long after the medical problem has been resolved.

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POSSIBLE CAUSES:  Constipation

Typically, cats who are constipated defecate only one to two hard, dry fecal balls at a time. The stools are usually deposited in a trail around the house. Activity aids peristalsis (colonic movement) and creates that sudden urge to go. Usually, these cats urinate in the box and are normal in most every other way. Cats who are constipated will often urinate while straining and pushing. These cats typically start off in the litter box. They strain and push, dig, and even cover as if they are “done.” They then walk a room or two away from the box, and that activity aids the movement of the bowels, so out comes another random fecal ball. This fecal ball may be nestled in a small puddle of urine. Or perhaps only urine is found with no feces at all. Could the family dog have eaten it? Or did nothing else make it out but urine? Another sign of constipation can be vomiting, though this is secondary to straining. The cat is too full of feces, which puts pressure on the stomach and does not allow enough room for food, thus causing the cat to vomit. Some cats develop perianal hernias caused by long-term straining and pushing. Until constipation and motility needs are addressed, the “behaviour problem” cannot be resolved. The cat will associate any changes made to the box, its location, etc. with the same underlying discomfort.

 Full Anal Glands

Full or impacted anal sacs could be making the stool painful to push out, creating a negative association with the litter box or simply creating straining. Scooting is another common complaint that is often caused by an anal gland issue or a situation in which the cat is simply too large or arthritic to be able to reach their rear and effectively groom after eliminating.


PROBLEM:  Urinating Outside the Box

Urinary crystals, bladder stones, bacterial infections, cystitis, vaginitis, urethritis, or just having a dirty tush can all be reasons for a cat to urinate outside the box. It could even be logistics.

POSSIBLE MEDICAL CAUSES:  Logistics

Does the diabetic cat or chronic kidney disease cat have a behaviour problem if they choose to urinate on the dining room rug? In most cases, they really don’t. These cats need to urinate more frequently and more volume. Oftentimes, the box they have been provided is too full, so from their perspective, there is no clean place to stand so they find a place that is absorbent and clean.

In many cases, this problem can be resolved by: ✓ Scooping the litter box more often

✓ Replacing the current box with a larger one ✓ Adding more litter boxes throughout the home— especially where the cat has chosen to urinate ✓ Offering a puppy pad as an option if a substrate preference has already developed

 Urinary Crystals

Cats who are urinating outside the litter box could have a recurrence of a previously diagnosed urinary crystal issue, one that, from the owner’s perspective, was addressed and resolved. Prescription urinary food is now this cat’s medicine. It is to be fed for life or until that individual’s needs change. If the cat goes back to eating what they were eating when they were diagnosed with struvite crystals specifically, the problem is likely to recur.

 Urinary Cystitis

Cats with cystitis are often acutely treated but not medically managed for the long haul, which is key to getting the cat back in the litter box. Cystitis usually requires long-term chronic pain management and environmental modification, as stress is the most common reason for this medical problem. They may require anti-anxiety medications to help them cope, but they need to play more, be challenged, eat from food puzzles, and be offered an enriched environment. Cats need to feel in control. That gives them great comfort, hence decreasing stress, lessening bladder pain, and in turn, increasing litter box compliance.

 Arthritis

Arthritis is grossly under-diagnosed and under-treated in cats because their symptoms are more subtle. 

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What are the symptoms of arthritis in a cat?

✓ Elimination outside the box ✓ Lack of grooming, especially the posterior half of the body and along the spine ✓ Reluctance to be petted, especially along the posterior half of the body ✓ Irritability ✓ Limping ✓ Lack of ability to jump directly up onto things that were previously a breeze to achieve ✓ Think about what it will be like to walk on the beach when you are 85 years old. It is tough to posture on sand when hips and knees do not work the way they used to. Hence, stable carpet is chosen!

 Declawing

The paws are arguably one of the most sensitive parts of a cat’s body. Cats bear 60 percent of their body weight on their front limbs. After an onychectomy, the technical term for declawing, humans ask these amputees to walk on gravel, pine nuggets, crystal silica litter, and compressed newspaper pellets. Declawed cats may choose to eliminate on carpets, beds, couches, laundry piles, or other soft surfaces. Sometimes, anything smooth that is unlike the painful texture of litter will suffice. A declawed cat a handicapped cat. These cats need pain control, arthritis support, and soft substrates.

 Obesity and

Arthritis as They Relate to Elimination Outside the Box

Many clients think their cat is peeing or pooping outside the box when in reality, all the cat is doing is overshooting the

pan! The puddle of urine or the feces that is right outside the edge of the litter box is not a behavior problem. The box is too small, the cat is too large, or both. The senior cat with arthritis is often to blame. They cannot squat as low to urinate as they once could, so some goes over the edge, or they mis-aim while defecating. Get a bigger box with high sides, cut a low opening to ease access, and treat the cat’s arthritis! How about the obese cat who hasn’t seen their rear in years? That cat is not eliminating outside the box due to a behaviour problem. She is itchy, uncomfortable, and needs to have a sanitary shave and to lose weight! Their cat parents need to learn to clean their tushes at home!

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PROBLEM:  Over-Grooming POSSIBLE CAUSES:

Most of us are aware that cats may groom over sources of pain. It is a self-soothing behaviour. If a cat who is eliminating outside the box has a bald belly, please have their urine checked, and be assessed for constipation/GI abnormality, and check under their tail. They may simply be too large to reach, so they groom their belly bald doing the best they can! Symmetrical over-grooming is a coping mechanism for stress, but not always. A cat with barbered hair and thin “racing stripes” down their back on either side of their tail may have an anal gland problem. Or, if the cat is overweight, they may be unable to reach any further. Symmetrical over-grooming of the forelimbs is commonly stress-related but could also easily be arthritis pain or post-declaw pain. 


“Petting can be painful or overstimulating, resulting in biting & swatting.” PROBLEM:  Aggression

Pain is often related to aggression. Cats may be irritable and may lash out at humans and their feline housemates due to pain, itch, or overall discomfort. This manifests as a behaviour problem, but we need to look at the whole picture.

POSSIBLE CAUSES:

Is the cat obese? Perhaps they have not been able to reach their back with their own tongue to groom in years. The result is petting-induced aggression. Petting can be painful or overstimulating, resulting in biting and swatting at the human who is doing the petting. Cats with fleas are itchy, irritable, and have a shorter fuse, resulting in petting intolerance and aggression among housemates. Overweight cats with fleas suffer more. Thin cats can groom away all evidence of fleas, but obese cats cannot reach to self-sooth and groom away the ectoparasites. If petting-induced aggression persists, the patient may have petting intolerance or hyperesthesia syndrome requiring further vet care and recommendations. Regardless, it is best to leave these cats wanting more. If five strokes gets you bitten, stop at three. Leave them longing to be touched rather than pushing them over the edge! Stick to the head, neck and chin where most cats prefer to be pet.

PROBLEM:  Excessive Vocalization POSSIBLE CAUSES:

Excessive vocalization is one of the most common symptoms of hyperthyroidism in cats. Hypertension is another disease process that is still often undertreated and causes classic signs of irritability and excessive vocalization. Cognitive dysfunction and/or deafness are other reasons that a cat could become excessively vocal. For cognitive dysfunction, early intervention is key to slowing and controlling the symptoms. Increasing enrichment (food puzzles and novel environmental changes) are great for this. While it is true that many cats have good old-fashioned behaviour challenges that their human caregivers cannot tolerate, in many cases, these behaviours started due to an underlying undiagnosed or undertreated medical problem. Behavioural therapy may very well be needed and indicated, but a thorough work up and medical evaluation are required if successful resolution is to be achieved. 

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Is My Cat

Signs of a content cat By Rose Frosek

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ike us, cat’s express their mental state through body language and vocalizations. Though each cat is an individual and expresses itself in unique ways, there are general cues to watch for that will let you know how your cat is feeling. Look for these traits to ensure your cat is feeling fine.

SIGNS OF A HAPPY CAT

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The Eyes Have It

Wide open eyes and dilated pupils indicate an alert, trusting, happy cat. The slow blink: if your cat looks at you with sleepy-looking eyes and slowly blinks, this a sign of great affection. Try looking at your cat with a relaxed gaze and blinking back.

Vocal Clues: Your Cat is Talking To You. Are You Listening?

Your cat’s vocalizations have meaning and can let you know how they’re feeling. Adult cats mainly meow to humans, and seldom to other cats so your cat is definitely communicating with you! Meows can be assertive, plaintive, friendly, bold, welcoming, attention soliciting, demanding, or complaining, sad, or even be silent, notes Swedish phonetics expert and cat sounds researcher Dr. Susanne Schötz. High-pitched meows and the "prrrrupttt!" sound many cats make is a good indication of a happy cat. Trills, chirrs, chirrups, grunts, and murmurs are used during friendly approach, greetings, and play. Grunts and murmurs are usually more low-pitched, while trills or chirr(ups) are more high-pitched. Remember that though purring is often a sign of contentment or even bliss, it’s not always a sign of a happy cat. Cats purr to self-soothe in stressful situations or even when in pain. Dr. Schötz says purring probably signals, “I do not pose a threat.”

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3

Ears To You

Happy ears face forward and are tilted back just slightly.

Ear position can tell you a lot about how your cat is feeling.


Adult cats mainly meow to humans, and seldom to other cats so your cat is definitely communicating with you!

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A Tidy Appearance

Cats that feel good keep themselves neat and tidy. If your cat has ceased grooming herself and her coat looks unkept, it is often a sign of depression, illness or pain. See your vet.

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The Head-butt

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Relaxed Body Language

Cats that head-butt you are showing trust and perhaps even love.

The ultimate sign of a relaxed, happy cat? An exposed belly. Similarly, sleeping with paws tucked under is a sign of a cat that feels at home. Your cat’s tail is an excellent barometer of how she is feeling. A happy cat’s tail will be held straight up with the very tip crooked to greet friends.

Allogrooming, the technical term for when cats groom each other, is a sign of well bonded cats. If your cat licks you, it’s a sign of trust and affection.

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Play Time!

Willingness to play (with you and other cats in the household) indicates happiness, trust, and bonding.

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Sleep Spot

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A Healthy Appetite

Note where your cat chooses to sleep. If your cat’s chosen nap spot is with you or other cats, this shows positive, happy relationships. Cats sleep a lot but a depressed cat may sleep more than usual.

A good appetite generally shows your cat feels good. If your cat wends around your ankles, meows, and tries to lead you to their bowl to be fed, this shows they know who provides the good stuff (you!), that they trust you, and that they’re great at manipulation. Smart cat! moderncat.com

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EXPERT ADVICE

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Tips to Keep Your Kitten Busy!

Five fun and easy must-do’s for raising a happy, well adjusted kitten | By Dr. Liz Bales

Kittens are a lot of fun… or a lot of trouble, depending on how you look at it. They are full of energy and eager to practice their predatory behaviour all day and all night! Without a plan, this could mean your hands and feet become prey and your temper becomes short. Directing this energy and practice predation into acceptable channels is the key to a positive, lifelong relationship with your new cat.

Give your kitten places to explore, climb, and hide in their environment.

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Lure them by putting treats where you want them to go. This will help them establish a routine of going where you want them to go to rest and relax.

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2

Play with your kitten twice a day for five to 15 minutes.

Never make direct contact with your body a part of the game. Kittens need the consistent message that flesh is not for teeth or claws. Use toys to reenact the chase for your kitten. Use something lightweight, like a crumpled up piece of paper, or use a fishing pole toy as the “mouse!” Start with the toy near your kitten and then jerk it away. Cats are innately attracted to short, skittery movements away from their body. Beware of hair ties, ribbon, string, tinsel—these become dangerous intestinal obstructions if accidentally consumed. Always end your play session by letting the kitten catch their prey and then give them a treat. Cats need to complete the hunt-catch-playeat cycle to relax and know that playtime is over. Otherwise, they will become frustrated.

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Another kitten!

Two kittens that can play together is the very best way to keep them occupied and happy. And, if you want more than one cat, adding a cat to an established household is very tricky. Raising two kittens together is the best way to have multiple cats live in harmony.


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Make your kitten's carrier her favourite bed.

Get a carrier that you love to look at and leave it out in your kitten’s favourite room 24/7. Hide a treat in the back of the carrier every day. Your kitten will enjoy the game and will associate the carrier with safety and happy times. Your travel and vet visits will get off to a good start! {Editor’s Pick} The ultimate carrier! The stylish and cozy Sleepypod can be used as a pet bed, carrier, and car seat. ($200, sleepypod.com)

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Never miss the opportunity to re-create the hunt.

Food in a bowl is a wasted opportunity. Split the day's food into many small portions and use hunting feeders to hide their food around the house and puzzle feeders to keep them on the engaged. Save half of the day's food to hide overnight; this way they can hunt and you can sleep! The Indoor Hunting Feeder or Wet Feeder from Doc & Phoebe lets you engage your kitten’s inner hunter to keep her occupied and engaged. (from $9, docandphoebe.com) moderncat.com

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PROBLEM: STINKY LITTER BOX SOLUTION: Sustainably Yours cat litter clumps and absorbs humidity so fast that bacteria cannot thrive, naturally killing the ammonia odor and leaving a fresh litter box. Cat Daddy approved! sylitter.com

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PROBLEM: CAT HAIR EVERYWHERE SOLUTION: Use an Andis

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PROBLEM: DIRTY CAT CARRIER

PROBLEM: FINDING A SUSTAINABLE LITTER THAT REALLY WORKS! SOLUTION: This high performing, sustainable litter also has unrivaled cat acceptance! Catalyst Pet is 4 times more efficient than leading clumping clay litters, making it easy on both the planet and wallet. catalystpet.com 62 moderncat

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SOLUTION: The SturdiBag Pro 2.0 is now fully machine washable, so you can keep your cat’s carrier clean! It also features an EZ insert rod system, making it comfortable for both you and your pet. sturdiproducts.com


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DISCOVER

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Are You a Cat Whisperer? A Few Adept People Can Read Feline Expressions Young and female quiz takers were most likely to rank as the coveted “cat whisperers” By Darcy Matheson

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livia Canlas knows a thing or two about cats. As the CEO of Meowbox, a curated monthly cat subscription box company, she has met hundreds, if not thousands, of pretty kitties. “I am constantly inundated with cats,” she laughs. It’s not just ones she’s meeting in real life either. She also oversees Meowbox’s Instagram account, which is all things cats. With 728,000 followers and growing, she’s constantly interacting with cats and cat lovers. “Digitally I can’t count how many cat videos and photos I’ve looked at. All day long it's cats cats cats cats cats,” Olivia says. So when she took a now-viral test that gauges how well people can “read” feline facial expressions, she was not surprised to get a very high score. “I think it surprised me more that I could recognize what was going on— the small nuances were the things I picked up on,” she says.

The Test

Canadian researchers at the University of Guelph created a “Cat Faces Quiz” to see how well people can decipher facial expressions of cats. Those who excel are deemed, you guessed it, cat whisperers. The researchers compiled 20 short online cat videos, mostly from YouTube, showing felines in a range of positive and negative situations and emotional states, like happiness or fear or anger. That could be a cat seeking out being petted or getting treats, or experiencing health problems or a stressful situation—like a vet’s office—where they were trying to flee. Then people taking the quiz were asked to decipher whether the cat was feeling positive or negative. To make sure people were only able to judge facial expressions, the videos purposefully focused on the cat’s face, including its eyes, muzzle and mouth, and kept their body out of frame. Other, more well understood external expressions like bared teeth, flattened ears were not used. And the clips were kept silent so you couldn’t hear verbal cues like hissing or purring. 

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“Women are better at reading facial expressions and for whatever reason be it training or biology we have an edge when it comes to humans and that extrapolates to cats.” “We were specifically interested in facial expression so we had to obscure the other points so that you couldn’t see the tail position and body. In reality, you’d be reading an array of body cues but we got rid of those, and background cues, like if a cat was in a sunny windowsill or vet’s office,” said researcher and behavioural biologist Georgia Mason. Mason wanted to create the test because until then, researchers hadn’t looked closely at positive expressions in cats and the research was mostly focused on pain. Initially, the online video questionnaire was completed by 6,329 people from 85 countries in late 2019. But what the researchers didn’t expect was that the interactive online Cat Faces Quiz it created for fun based on its published research would blow up and go viral. They started getting a thousand results each day since it went live. Now at least 300,000 people have taken it.

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“It’s gone all around the world,” says Mason. “It’s absolutely remarkable. Every now and again I get random emails from Taiwan.”

The Results

Because people chose to take the initial test, what is called “self selected” in the academic world, there were hardly any cat indifferent people who completed the quiz. But being a cat owner or absolutely loving cats had no bearing on the test results, says Mason. Results were wide ranging. The average score on the initial test was 12 out of 20, which works out to being just above chance. Most found the test challenging. Only 13 percent of respondents correctly answered 15 or better, what researchers considered outstanding, and informally referred to as “cat whisperers.” Young and female quiz takers were most likely to rank as the coveted “cat whisperers,” and not surprisingly,

veterinarians and veterinary technicians were most likely to succeed. But surprisingly, cat ownership didn’t affect the ability to interpret cat emotion. Researchers weren’t surprised about women scoring higher, saying it falls into line with previous studies that show women are better at decoding nonverbal emotional displays. “Women are better at reading facial expressions and for whatever reason be it training or biology we have an edge when it comes to humans and that extrapolates to cats,” says Mason. In terms of people with a veterinary staff background having a higher skill level at decoding facial expressions, Mason chalks it up to an “order of magnitude.” And also a job necessity, when you are scrutinizing the behaviour of cats to identify pain and sickness, and also to avoid being bitten or scratched by a vexed feline patient. “Vets would see cats in a range of different emotions and the more grim end of things. Like radiation, figuring out is treatment complete, is the pain med dosage correct? They’re making decisions where reading expression matters where for most of us the stakes are really lower,” she says. “Whether they ‘just know’ or whether instead they can explicitly articulate what they’re identifying, we simply don’t know as yet.” Pilot data—aka anecdotes—from cat lovers suggested that people who answered based on “gut feel” seem to score better results. That was true for Olivia as well. “It felt pretty instinctive. Like I have seen all those cat behaviours and for me I was recognizing something I've seen before,” she said. In addition to the cats she sees through work, online, and in real life, she’s also the “cat mom” to Zac and Harvey, and has spent even more time with them through the COVID-19 lockdown months. “Being home all day, they’re all over me, all the time,” she jokes. “We spend a lot of time together.”


Where do we go meow?

With researchers concluding that cats—like humans—change their facial expressions based on their emotional state, the question now is how that can be extrapolated to help and guide pet owners. If you could be trained to read your cat’s facial expressions you could potentially strengthen the humananimal bond, and as a waterfall effect, improve cat care and welfare. After the viral success of the cat faces quiz, Mason and Dr Lee Niel, who runs a Companion Animal Welfare Research Lab at UoG, are hoping to recruit graduate students to follow up on the research and build on it. They believe someone could go through and score the videos to formally characterize the subtle changes in expression. From there they could create videos: little crib sheets or “how to” explainers that could help pet owners read their pet. “And we could see if that even works. Are cat whisperers born or made? If it’s learned, can training help or does it have to be via real live on-thejob experience?” says Mason. “Either way, we’d love to know what subtle things cats are doing with their faces, that the skilled can read— but most of us can’t. It could teach us more about the evolution of facial expressions.” But don’t expect to see any more cat-related research from Mason on the horizon, unfortunately. “I mainly work on mice, ironically,” she says.  Take a shortened version of the Interactive Cat Faces Quiz here: moderncat.com/catfacesquiz moderncat.com

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Healthy PAWS

Solutions for everything from anxiety to itchy skin

BRIGHT EYES Formulated with Grapeseed Extract, Lutein, and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Ocu-GLO Soft Chews are designed to boost and support feline and canine eye health. A unique combination of 12 different antioxidants help protect vital eye cells and prevent damage. ($60, animalnecessity.com)

FINE DINING The Adult Cat Salmon and Brown Rice Recipe from Chicken Soup Pets is filled with high-quality ingredients like salmon, peas, blueberries, and Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids to help keep your hungry cat healthy. ($35, chickensouppets.com)

BREATHE EASY Does your cat struggle with asthma or other respiratory issues? The AeroKat Chamber makes administering inhaled medication easy through a small mask and chamber that their inhaler can be attached to, ensuring they get their medication. ($62, aerokat.com)

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ANXIETY CALMED Keep your cat calm through thunderstorms, vet visits, or car rides with the Furbliss Calming Spray. A unique blend of botanical extracts and cat-safe essential oils, this spray is easy to use and vet recommended. Works for dogs too. ($7, vetniquelabs.com)

DENTAL HEATH HELPER Help your cat keep their breath fresh and prevent periodontal disease and gingivitis with the Pet Dental Spray from Oxyfresh! Alcohol and flavour-free, this spray is safe for cats and fights plaque and tartar. ($8, oxyfresh.com)

IRRITATED SKIN SOLUTION Does your cat have itchy or irritated skin? The Vetericyn Plus Hot Spot Antimicrobial Hydrogel is safe to use on sensitive skin and can help protect and heal rashes, burns, sores, dermatitis, and other irritations. ($18, vetericyn.com)


Editor-in-Chief Connie Wilson’s selection of must-read books for cat lovers Hemingway’s Cats By Lindsey Hooper

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s love of polydactyl cats, new novel Hemingway’s Cats follows recent college graduate Laura Lange as she journeys to Key West to work as a tour guide at the famous Hemingway House. What she’s not expecting is her trip and new job to completely change her life. Full of colourful feline and human characters alike and filled with humour, romance, and adventure, this story charms and delights.

Feline Philosophy By John Gray

The Divine Feline By Belinda Alexandra In The Divine Feline, author Belinda Alexandra celebrates the exceptional bond between women and their cats. Sharing her experiences as a cat fancier along with stories of women and cats throughout history, she sheds light on behavioural and philosophical issues faced in the cat world. The ultimate nod to cat ladies and their fierce little companions!

Let’s Talk About Cats By Anita Kelsey Cats can be mysterious creatures! Let’s Talk About Cats features interviews and conversations with feline experts such as Jackson Galaxy and shares fascinating case studies that illuminate confounding and challenging behaviours.

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There’s a lot to be learned from cats, as John Gray’s Feline Philosophy reveals. Gray explores the similarities humans and cats share and, in examining these traits, illustrates how humans can learn to embrace and endure life’s highs and lows and take life in stride as our cats do.

Four Cuts Too Many By Debra H. Goldstein Cozy mystery fans will delight in Four Cuts Too Many, the latest installment in the Sarah Blair mystery series. Between her job as a law firm receptionist, co-owning a restaurant with her twin sister, and caring for her pets, Siamese cat RahRah and rescue pup Fluffy, Sarah has a busy schedule. Still, she finds herself needing to make time to sharpen her sleuthing skills in order to clear her friend’s name after a local culinary school director is found with a knife in his back. Will Sarah solve this delicious mystery? You’ll have fun finding out.

THE DIVINE FELINE IMAGE NERYL WALKER/THE JACKY WINTER GROUP

CONNIE’S BOOK CLUB


LOVE LETTERS

My Ins-purr-ation Parents teach us about life, but no one has taught me better than Chester. At sixteen years old, my tuxedo Chester persists in his nightly ritual of slowly, methodically climbing his little cat stairs up to my bed to tuck me in. The ravaging effects of arthritis don’t stop Chester—it’s his self- appointed duty and he relentlessly follows through. He sits calmly by my head for ten minutes until he thinks I am asleep, then quietly retreats to his favorite napping spot in my closet. Such consistent love and devotion are rare, but not for my Chester. —Carolyn Kozlowski

Tiny Cat Stories Cat love in short form: miniature, reader-submitted cat stories of no more than 100 words.

My Special Ferals It all started with one black cat at our apartment block. My husband and I saw a cat and her kitten one morning, and we gave them some ham.

Tommy's Story We'd gone to the shelter that day to donate items in memory of the cat we'd recently lost, our handsome long-haired ginger. It was a bittersweet visit. Surrounded by the smell of pine cleaner and curious gaze of resident cats, we pet every one of them we could. We were leaving when a staff member told us there was one room we missed. He went up to you right away, his round aqua eyes the most sincere and gentle I'd ever seen. He rubbed against your knee. You both looked at me, and I knew we were taking him home. —Melissa Hall Andela

Sewer Surprise

We eventually built a home, and the remaining cats moved with us. They are now in paradise, and so well behaved. The love we have for these cats is priceless, and each one is a precious treasure.

During my early morning dog walk, I heard the faint squeals of a kitten. I followed the sounds and discovered Eve trapped in the sewer below, a tiny face looking up at me through the holes in the street grate. With the help of the NYPD, we got her out of there. She was drenched in motor oil and fit in the palm of my hand. As he handed her over, the officer asked, “what are you going to do now?” “Take her home and love her,” I replied. And I did, for 15 years until she passed away.

—Debbie Yunnie

—Christy Ann Coppola

From that day on, and for the next six years, I fed the feral cats on our premises. We endured many a dispute with the Body Corporate, but I persisted with feeding them.

Living with FIV Stanley tested positive for FIV in 2017 at only three months old. The organization that brought him in had chosen to have him euthanized. Knowing that FIV is only transmittable through deep bite wounds and that it could be a false positive at that age, I took him home and retested him at six months. He was still positive, but I certainly didn’t care and neither did his other FIV positive brother, his FIV negative brother or his big canine sister. FIV is not a death sentence. Education saves lives! #fivpositivelyloved—Lauren Early

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Fred & George Our cats, Fred and George, were added to our family when our two Dachshunds, Tilly and Willy, were in their senior years. Tilly began to go blind as she aged. She would wander in the yard unsure how to return to the house. Both cats learned to help Tilly find the house. They would go to Tilly and gently nudge her back to the house. After Tilly passed away, we allowed the cats to watch us bury her in the backyard. We would catch them sitting on her grave during the day. When Willy passed away, the same thing happened.—Monica Johnson


“He went up to you right away, his round aqua eyes the most sincere and gentle I'd ever seen. He rubbed against your knee. You both looked at me, and I knew we were taking him home.” Suzy (née King Kong) Suzy was our Siamese cat. She and her sister were acquired for my older brothers Jim and Steve. Steve, at three years of age, wanted to name his kitten King Kong, and our Mom "helped him" name his kitten Suzy. Suzy was our cherished housecat for 17 years. She had this strange habit of chewing on our Dad's dress socks. She never wanted to chew on one of us kids' socks, go figure! Suzy was a very intuitive cat. If you were upset about something, she instinctively knew to come near and sit next to you for your comfort.—Jennifer Cazee

Reuben the Hero I always knew Reuben was smart. I didn't know just how smart. I was about to switch on the drier, something I'd done many times before, but today Reuben jumped up and stopped me. I petted him and again put my finger on the “on” switch ready to press it. Reuben stopped me again. I looked down and to my horror saw Filipos, my Greek rescue cat, looking through the glass in the drier. I quickly let him out. Reuben saved Filipos' life. He is a feline hero.— Rose Moss

In-Office vs. WorkFrom-Home Assistant Barnie is the best office assistant ever, except maybe for my in-office colleague Marilyn, who never meowed when I was on Zoom or pawed at my pants for attention. Barnie trots to my workfrom-home office each morning, and, unlike Marilyn, curls up at my feet and, if it’s chilly, on my feet. Barnie leaves only to answer nature’s call or to snack, but she’s back in a flash. She doesn’t charge overtime. But unlike Marilyn, she’s lousy at tech support, and she doesn’t share office gossip. Plus, Marilyn doesn’t shed. If I had to choose one, I couldn’t.— Catharine Hamm

Wish Upon a Star Once there was a little girl who wanted a cat so much that she pretended her pillow was a cat. Everywhere she went she would carry her grey pillow with a white star. She talked to her pillow in her small, high pitched voice and saw her cat staring up at her. She petted her pillow and could hear her cat purring. Every night she wished with everything in her small, child heart for a cat. Then one morning she awoke, her head not on her pillow, but resting on a small, grey cat with a white star. —Heidi Jones

Get published in Modern Cat! Submit your cat story of no more than 100 words (word count strictly enforced) to tinycatstories@moderncat.com. By submitting you are consenting to publication of your story.

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PHOTOS TINYKITTENS

Miracle Kittens Two kittens overcome incredible challenges and become best friends, delighting the Internet By Yaunna Sommersby

W

hen kittens Cassidy and Aura made their appearance on a live stream of rescue cats, no one at TinyKittens, a Langley, BC-based rescue group, expected them to become Internet famous. But the duo’s incredible story, perseverance and, yes, super-cuteness made them instant stars. The adorable pair have racked up over 2.7 million views on YouTube alone. Born into a feral colony, Cassidy was missing both his back legs below the knee. Worse yet, it was soon discovered he had severe infections in both stumps.

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“When I did Cassidy’s intake exam, I was heartbroken,” says Shelly Roche, founder of the non-profit focused on helping feral cat communities. “He shouldn’t have been alive, but he refused to give up.” Shelly rushed him to the emergency vet, and Cassidy’s journey of healing began. She was determined to make sure this tiny, starving kitten experienced love, a full tummy, and freedom from pain. “Against all odds and every rule of science, Cassidy survived his first night and I brought him home with a long list of instructions, bandages,

meds, fluids, and a catheter, which I had to learn how to flush,” Shelly explains. Cassidy’s fortitude got him through to meeting his best feline friend, Aura, who was born to a feral mom at Shelly’s house. The last of five kittens to be born, Shelly noticed Aura had difficulty nursing and wasn’t gaining weight. “I opened her mouth to check her palate, and my heart just dropped. She had an enormous hole in the roof of her mouth, which is why she wasn’t able to latch on and nurse,” Shelly says. 


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PHOTOS TINYKITTENS

Cassidy

Aura and Cassidy today.

TinyKittens founder Shelly Roche with Aura.

But like Cassidy, against the odds, Aura pulled through with a few sinus infections (not aspiration pneumonia as was feared), pleasantly surprising both Shelly and the vet. Cassidy was curious about Aura from the beginning and they were slowly introduced. Their experiences brought them together as playful companions who have fur-sibling moments of hilarity and rowdiness. “Aura and Cassidy share the same tenacity, resilience, and unsinkable will to live. They seem to sense that in each other, and were fascinated by each other from the time Aura was first introduced,” says Shelly. “Aura has become Cassidy’s emotional support kitten, traveling with him any time he has to go somewhere. She even came along on a trip to see a specialist in Madison, WI about his hips. Her confidence and snuggles bring him comfort, and she loves going on adventures.”

Aura

Shelly shares the kitten’s tenacity, not letting adversity stand in her way. There were unexpected challenges, extra vet visits, surgeries, and a

home in need of adapting in order to keep Cassidy and Aura comfortable and safe. Plus, big scares: after more than 267 tube feedings, Aura bit her feeding tube in half and swallowed it. She had to have surgery to remove it after it became lodged in her esophagus. While he isn’t a candidate for prosthetics, Cassidy has tested mobility support prototypes, tiny wheelchairs, stump covers, and other clever solutions. But his stumps healed well enough and he is comfortable scooting around without mobility aids. When she was big enough, Aura also had a palate repair using a donor dog bone, completed in a single surgery. “I marvel at the obstacles they’ve overcome, their resilience, and their courage,” says Shelly. “During those agonizing early days, it was difficult to picture what their lives could be like, but now I get to see the incredibly full lives they are both living, and that they were worth saving. That’s the greatest gift ever.” 


Must-haves for you & your cat

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Profile for Modern Cat Magazine

Modern Cat Spring/Summer 2021 - US  

We dedicate this issue to our amazing feline friends who provide us with endless love, comfort, and entertainment—and sometimes mystify us....

Modern Cat Spring/Summer 2021 - US  

We dedicate this issue to our amazing feline friends who provide us with endless love, comfort, and entertainment—and sometimes mystify us....

Profile for moderncat

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