Modern Cat Spring/Summer 2024 - US Edition

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Meet the Most Adorably Fluffy Cat Breeds + How to Take Your Cat Everywhere 10 Ways to Get Your Cat to Eat: Expert Tips for Combatting Picky Eating Cat Dementia: and How to Help Your Cat COOL CAT TECH The Best Smart Gadgets for Cats & Cat Lovers America’s Favorite Pet Competition Winner, Ysera! p26 Decode Your Cat’s Expressions Signs Your Cat Thinks You’re Their Mom Or Dad p32 Yes, Your Cat Really Does Love You! p52 CATS Language of INSIDE: GIVEAWAYS GALORE! P20 Aloof? Think Again. Cats Have 276 Facial Expressions—Here’s Why. p26 cat DISPLAY UNTIL AUG 31 ‘24 $7.95


Their Mom or Dad

Does your cat see you as a caretaker, mate, or affiliate?

out which one you are on page 32!


THE GOODS 30 Catify Your Life Cat-tastic designs to thrill both you and your cat! 36 Cool Cat Furniture Modern, minimal design makes these cat pieces welcome in any room. 58 Cat Gear Look Book Your at-a-glance guide to the best stuff for you & your cat. 68 Healthy Paws Solutions for everything from fleas to UTIs! FEATURES 22 The
cats easier
fun! 26 “Aloof”
8 Best Smart Gadgets for Cats and Cat Lovers Innovative pet tech that makes
and more
Cats Have 276 Facial Expressions
thought to be aloof, felines are far more expressive than previously thought. A new study shows that cats have complex expressions and social lives.
Your Cat Thinks
Undiscriminating Dogs and Feline Foodies:
Cats Are Pickier Than Dogs
52 The Love
of Cats
proof. BY
60 Meet
will devour pretty much anything while cats turn
their noses.
Yes, your cat really does love
the Most Adorably Fluffy Cat Breeds & Find Out If They’re Right for

Say hello to Ysera, winner of the 2024 America’s Favourite Pet Contest, photographed Sydney Cisco. Read all about Ysera’s inspiring story on page 70!

Microbiome Magic Why your cat’s gut health matters.
10 Ways to Get Your Cat to Eat Expert tips for combatting picky eating.
10 Meal Toppers Picky Cats Go Crazy For 48 Cat Dementia: Signs and How to Help Your Cat 44 60 In USA: MODERNCAT (ISSN 1929-3933) Volume 13, 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 Cat, PO Box 4767 Blaine, WA 98231-9901. REGULAR FEATURES 6 Editor’s Letter 8 Contributors 10 Stuff We Love 12 The Scoop 18 Photo Contest 79 Marketplace 18 COVER INSET & TOP LEFT PHOTO AESTHETICA/SHUTTERSTOCK; TOP RIGHT PHOTO KATSIARYNA PAKHOMAVA/SHUTTERSTOCK; LEFT INSET GUS SUBMITTED BY PATRICIAT; RIGHT INSET BY CAT LIFE 64 4 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

This just might be my favourite issue to date. There is so much to learn and discover about our feline friends, from fascinating cat trivia to the latest behaviour science. And, of course, the pages are packed with tips, tricks, and ideas for bettering your cat’s life and improving your relationship. Let’s dive in, shall we?

For starters, we’ve rounded up the best smart gadgets for cats and cat lovers. Think things like a tiny collar camera delivering fascinating (and enlightening!) footage of your cat’s day. From smart cat doors to a camera that dishes treats and lets you talk to your cat, these innovative pet tech finds (p 22) make life with cats easier and more fun! Next up, a new study shows that cats, often thought to be aloof, are actually far more expressive than previously thought. Find out what these facial expressions mean on page 26.

Do you consider yourself a cat mom or cat dad? You’re in good company! Check out page 32 for signs your cat thinks of you as a parent. Does your cat see you as a caretaker, mate, or affiliate? You’re about to find out!

We explore the love language of cats—Spoiler alert: Yes, your cat really does love you—and look at why cats are often “picky” eaters. (There’s a very good biological reason!) Find proven strategies for improving your cat’s appetite and tempting them to eat on page 44.

And as usual, you’ll find the coolest cat-approved toys, trees, and more, from modern, minimal cat furniture to cat-tastic designs to thrill both you and your cat!

You’ll also get to know the fluffiest cat breeds, discover solutions to feline health problems, and find months of incredible giveaways. It’s all here. We hope you enjoy the issue as much as we loved putting it together for you. Thank you for being a part of this amazing community of cat lovers!

With love,

We Have the Cutest Readers

Mink loves to read his Modern Cat magazine. Submitted by Laura Bolsen

Cat Back Issues Are the Best!

Found some magazines from 2017 so idk how modern they will be, but I’m reading them all.—@haroldtheinsidecat

Gift for Cats! Magazines Canada spokescat Evan got a gift subscription to @modern_cat_mag that he found quite comfy!–@magscanada
WRITE 6 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024


Sheri Radford has been a writer and editor for many years, covering lifestyle and sustainability topics for a variety of publications. She is also the author of five extremely silly books for children. Her household in downtown Vancouver is ruled by the whims of a large and opinionated Norwegian forest cat.

Sydney McIntyre, the owner of Willow Studios is a pet photographer based in London, ON. Her passion for pets has been a lifelong affair, and she specializes in capturing their beauty via photography. One of her notable subjects is her own photogenic Goldendoodle, Willow, who is always ready to strike a pose for the camera! Find her at, and turn to page 26 to see her lovely captures of cat expressions.

Zazie Todd is the awardwinning author of Purr: The Science of Making Your Cat Happy. She has a PhD in Psychology, is an honours graduate of the prestigious Academy for Dog Trainers, and has an Advanced Certificate of Feline Behaviour (with Distinction) from International Cat Care. Originally from the UK, she lives in Maple Ridge, BC, with her husband, dog, and cat. In this issue, she unpacks how cats, often thought to be aloof, actually make an incredible 276 distinct facial expressions and have rich social lives (p 26).


VOL 13 NO 1

Publisher Modern Cat Inc.


Connie Wilson

Editor & Creative Director

Jennifer Nosek

Design & Production

Megan Carpick


Cecilia de Roca Chan, CPA, CGA

Marketing & Sales Coordinator

Simran Parekh

Audience Development Coordinator

Yaunna Sommersby

Subscriptions & Office Administration

Anna Regino

Administrative Assistant, Sales & Marketing

Aly Stamper

Administrative Assistant Angelie Hizon


Give us a call at 1-800-417-6289 or subscribe online at

Advertising inquiries call (866) 734-3131

In Canada: MODERNCAT (ISSN 1929-3933) Volume 13, Issue 1

Published semi-annually by Modern Cat Inc. at Suite 1012930 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 13, 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 Cat, PO Box 4767 Blaine, WA 98231-9901.

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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 2024 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


Publications Mail Agreement Number 42496543

We acknowledge the financial support of the Government of Canada. Nous reconnaissons l'appui financier du gouvernement du Canada.

8 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

Stuff We Love

Modern Cat staffers’ picks of the litter!

1 Slip into these picture purr-fect BOBS® from Skechers® mosaic sneakers for your next outdoor prowl. They’re super cute, comfy, and Skechers helps save shelter pets with every pair purchased!—Connie (from $55,

2 Bring a reminder of your cat with you everywhere with this lovely, unique nose-print necklace from Robin’s Loving Touch. These sweet necklaces feature a one-of-a-kind pendant made from your cat’s nose print and are available in gold, sterling silver, or solid chrome.—Jennifer (from $277,

3 Refresh those carpets! Chem-Dry Pet Urine Removal Treatment services remove 99.9% of pet urine stains and odours. Their unique, deep cleaning Hot Carbonating Extraction process penetrates carpet fibers and removes liquid and loose urine crystals, banishing smells and stains.—Aly (Learn more at

4 Bust feline boredom and encourage playful, positive behaviour with Cat Crack Organic Catnip! This fresh, all-natural catnip has superior potency and can be used as an enrichment tool. Simply sprinkle on your cat’s scratching accessories or toys.—Simran ($15,

5 Smack Pet Food’s raw, dehydrated superfood for cats offers all the health benefits of raw, but with scoop-and-serve convenience! The Pacific Fish Feast recipe is made with 85 percent wild pacific rockfish and herring (bone-in and organs) plus 15 percent organic fruits and vegetables. Chef’s kiss.—JoJo (from $22,

6 Keep it smelling fresh with UltraPet’s Litter Pearls Probiotic litter, specially formulated to reduce litter box odours! A unique blend of crystal-encapsulated probiotics eliminates odours, activating when the litter is used by your feline friend. Soft on paws, this non-clumping litter is also multi-cat friendly!—Nuit ($25,

7 Don’t get caught unprepared in a cat emergency! The Rayco Cat First Aid Kit has everything from gauze rolls to a tick remover and a reflective cat collar. Compact and easy to store, it is vital to have on hand for everyday use or in case of a disaster!—Yaunna ($30,

8 Cat hair can get everywhere, especially during shedding season! Fur-Zoff is a durable, eco-friendly pet hair remover that easily gets cat hair off of clothes, furniture, carpets, and more.—Angelie ($13,

9 Provide safe outdoor access for your cat! Give your cat freedom to explore with the Cat Fence Conversion kit from Easy Pet Fence. Easily add it onto your existing fence, keeping your cat safely in your yard! Available in two sizes. —Anna (from $400,

10 If your cat prefers a spacious litter box, look no further! The PAW TRAX High Wall Cat Litter Box XL features a high wall design and an anti-tracking grate step that helps prevent spills, spraying accidents, and litter mess. The open top also gives cats of all sizes and ages easy access.—Cecilia ($55,

11 Interested in harness-training your curious cat? Buddy Belts’ Leather Harnesses come in a variety of sizes and colours to comfortably fit your cat, offering a safer and healthier alternative to traditional neck collars.—Rosie (from $42,

12 from Catalyst Pet offers superior clumping and odour control. Choose from Healthy Cat (best for single-cat homes), Unscented, or Multi-Cat formulas for the perfect litter for your crew.

Studies estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3 - 4 billion— yesbillion—birds annually.

Join the Bird Saving Kitty Club!

Patented anti-hunting cat collar shown to reduce songbird death by 87%

Outdoor cat predation of songbirds is a serious conservation issue—and not a small one. In the United States alone, studies estimate that free-ranging domestic cats kill 1.3 - 4 billion—yes billion—birds annually. As cats are an introduced species, it’s up to us to help protect birds from our furry friends.

Cats are, of course, safest inside, but if your cat goes outside, get your cat a Birdsbesafe collar and help save birds. Data from an independent U.S. scientific field study found an 87 percent reduction in birds killed when cats wear Birdsbesafe. Seven scientific studies in five countries have

The Birdsbesafe collar is proven to drastically reduce bird casualties.

shown an average of more than 60 percent reduction in birds caught when cats wear Birdsbesafe collar covers. How it works: Songbirds see bright colours exceptionally well, thanks to their unique eye anatomy. The bright colours and patterns on these patented collar covers quickly alerts birds to your cat’s presence, allowing the bird to escape imminent danger. Birdsbesafe attaches to your cat’s breakaway collar and releases under pressure, ensuring your cat’s safety while protecting birds. The Birdsbesafe collar cover is safe, cute, and comfy—cats can eat, drink, and move normally. Plus, reflective trim helps your cat be seen by cars at night. Get your cat a Birdsbesafe collar and be part of the solution! $10, or

12 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

Meet Your New Favourite Artist



Technique, and Pet Portraits: An Artist Finds Her Sweet Spot—and Acclaim


-based artist Alison Friend has something of a cult following. Her paintings, which apply Old Master technique to almost caricature-like portraits of animal characters, evoke a deep response, part nostalgia, part recognition of how we anthropomorphize our own pets. When she posts her work on Instagram, her paintings, say of a cat in a puffy vest or a dog eating a slice of pizza, get upwards of 100,000 likes.

“I’ve been told many times there’s a warmth and nostalgia to my paintings, says Friend. “For me, they evoke memories of my childhood.”

Her father, who used to paint birds and racehorses as a hobby, was “a big animal lover and he passed that on to me—I remember wanting to be just like

him,” she says. Some of her paintings feature interiors from her childhood—or rather, memories of interiors from her childhood.

“I think the nostalgia plays a big part,” she says. “Also, we love to think the animals in our lives have human emotions and my work definitely plays on that idea.”

Friend’s distinctive style was developed over the years of painting and drawing as a profession, working in greeting cards and children’s books. But it wasn’t until Covid and lockdown that she started experimenting with the technique that has become her signature.

“Animals set against old-fashioned interiors is something that I’ve kept going back to for a long time. [But] since starting to paint in oils just before

lockdown, I feel I am achieving the look and feel for these paintings I have always imagined.”

“It’s a fine line to get them just right,” she continues. “The rendering of them in oil paint and the colour palette I use is very traditional and steers them just far enough from being too cartoon and makes them still believable as real characters…I hope!”

At times, the paintings threaten to take over her home.

“I work in my kitchen from my small apartment in the Lake District. There are times close to a show where my son is eating his breakfast completely surrounded by animal faces—all giving him the side eye,” she laughs.

Felines rank close to the top of her favourite characters. “Some of the cats I have painted are high up on my list…My cats always look like they’re very serious even when they’re wearing a trucker hat or a motorcycle helmet.”

Fans stay tuned: Friend hints that a coffee table book may be in the works. In the meantime, visit for more.

14 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

C O F FEE with a Purr-pose

Cats + coffee: Two of our very favourite things, together at last!

IFyou’re crazy about cats and your morning coffee, this new feline-focused coffee company is the GMO-free, single-origin coffee provider of your dreams. Tabby Cat Coffee, founded in 2022 by cat lover Eniko Gondos, takes both cats and coffee very seriously. The goal is to provide cat lovers with freshly roasted specialtygrade coffee while raising public awareness about the value and importance of feline health and wellness.

The venture was inspired by Gondos’ beloved tabby cat, Nefi, who passed due to kidney failure. “I decided that I wanted to help raise awareness for cat health and wellness in some way after I lost Nefi,” she says. “With my passion for coffee, cats, and cat health, the idea for Tabby Cat Coffee Company was born, with the goal for everyone to enjoy great specialty coffee knowing that a great cause is also being supported!”

Five percent of profits are given to cat foundations like EveryCat Health Foundation & Morris Animal Foundation, which support and fund the study of feline health and medicine so cats can live happy, healthy long lives.

“Feline health research remains underfunded compared to many other animals,” says Gondos. “We want to raise as much awareness as we can about this special cause, all while keeping humans caffeinated, educated, and kitties happy.”

Her goal is to become a well-known coffee brand among the cat-loving community as “a fun, cat-centric place to find a wide selection of fresh roasted single origin and natural flavored specialty coffee.” Get your fix and help cats at the same time: find a retailer near you or order directly at


Test your "funny." Create a caption for this cartoon and submit your entry at The most comic captions will be published in the next issue.


“Well Jerry, it looks like I won again.”



“Dang it, Carl, I told you catnip and chess don't mix.”


“I buried your rooks in the litter box.”


“Good job! Now, when they're playing Scrabble, you wait till they have almost all the tiles on the board before you jump up and knock them over.”


“I just knock over all the pieces, and I win. I call it the ‘Fragile Things on the Mantle’ strategy.”


16 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

moderncat’s SMILE!

LILY GUS Awww ! Too cute!


TOAST Adorable
grace the pages of Modern Cat?
your cat's photo at moderncat. com/photo-contest. Not only will he or she be entered to be our Cat of the Week, but
the photos entered will appear on these pages!
your cat ought to

ENTER TO WIN Great Giveaways

We’re giving it away! Enter to win fabulous giveaways May through October. Go to to enter! Lucky readers will win every two weeks.

1st -14th

Win 1 of 2 feline wellness prize packs from Vetericyn! Includes two bottles each of the Vetericyn Plus Feline Antimicrobial Facial Therapy, Hydrogel, Wound & Skin Care, and Ear Rinse solutions.

1st -14th

Win a Steel 70-inch Extra Tall Cat Safety Gate from Richell USA! This durable gate keeps cats safe and the unique design prevents them from climbing, jumping over, or squeezing through.

1st -14th

Win 1 of 3 Classic Cat Trees (Model A4301) from Armarkat! A purrfect vertical space solution for your pampered feline, this durable cat tree is Cat Daddy approved by Jackson Galaxy.


Win 1 of 3 litter care prize packs from Catalyst Pet! Includes a 20 lb bag of Catalyst litter, a premium scoop, and a litter tracking mat.

Win a Large Multiple Tiered CatHaven Cat Tree from! This eye-catching cat tree is handcrafted with soft, silky realistic looking leaves, a sturdy turf base, and three carpeted perches.

15th -30th

Win 1 of 3 plant-powered prize packs for cats from Wondercide! Includes Flea & Tick Spot Ons (year’s supply!), Shampoo, Pet Sprays in four scents, Yard Spray, and soothing Skin Tonic.

15th -31st 15th -31st

Win a cat gear prize pack from Buddy Belts! Includes a matching Buddy Belts Harness, Leash, ID Collar, and Poopurse set.

15th -30th 1st -14th

Win 1 of 10 Bistro Bowl pouches from Whole Life Pet! This hydrating snack for cats is made with human-grade ingredients. Winners will get to choose their cat’s preferred recipe!

Win 1 of 3 HandsOn Gloves—the massage your cat will purr for! These gloves provide a more thorough shedding, bathing, and grooming experience for you and your feline!

Win a one-year supply of ökocat litter! Winners will receive 12 coupons to redeem at their favourite ökocat retailer.

15th -31st

Win 1 of 3 litter prize packs from UltraPet! Includes six 5 pound bags of Ultra Micro Probiotic Crystal litter.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Beginning May 1, 2024 at 12:01 AM (PST) through October 31, 2024 at 11:59 PM (PST), enter each day at 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
September October 20 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024
May June July August


Talking Buttons

Fluent Pet Classic Tester Kit; $40,

Have you ever wished your cat could talk? Well, now they can, thanks to assistive technology for language acquisition. Fluent Pet’s programmable buttons allow your cats to communicate wants, desires, and maybe even bigger thoughts with the push of a button. Designed specifically for pets, the buttons can be recorded with specific words, such as “walk,” “play,” “potty,” “hungry,” “outside,” and other requests you think your cat might want to make. For ease of use, the buttons fit securely into a foam base to prevent them from sliding while your cat is ‘talking’ and include stickers to place on top so you can remember which button is for which cue. The set also comes with a training guide to help you get your cat chatting.

One of the most prominent cats using the communication buttons is Billi. Billi uses the buttons on her Fluent Pet soundboard to form four-word phrases. She can make requests and express emotions. “Mad” is a favourite button. (Be careful what you wish for.)

“Billi had pressed ‘come’ when I was in the middle of watering a plant,” relates her guardian, Dr. Kendra Baker. “So, I said, ‘Mom come soon’ then came over to her board after a couple of minutes. She then pressed ‘mad, mad, before, where, where’ which I interpreted as ‘what the heck was so important you couldn’t come immediately!?’”

“Another time, my boyfriend and I were hugging, and she pressed "all done, mad, pets," Baker laughs.

The buttons give Billi more autonomy over her life and choices, says Baker. “Our animals live in a dictatorship, even if it's a dictatorship built on love…The buttons allow Billi a bit more freedom. She can choose the toy we play with, ask to go outside, or ask for cuddles/pets when I'm in the middle of something. The buttons improve her quality of life.”

The 8 Best Smar t Gadgets for Cats and Cat Lovers

Innovative pet tech that makes life with cats easier and more fun

From the fun to the practical, these high-tech cat gadgets can help you and your cat better understand each other, have more fun together, and even work through challenges. Cat-focused technology can also just be a lot of fun! From a cat’s-eye-view collar camera to communication buttons that allow your cat to ‘talk,’ here are some highly rated smart gadgets designed for cats and the people who love them.


Robot Vacuum

iRobot Roomba; $1399,

Ah, cat hair, the scourge of cat lovers everywhere. Why not let a robot vacuum handle it for you? The Roomba Combo j9 + Robot Vacuum and Mop niftily banishes cat hair with a vacuum/mop combo that ensures no cat hair, dander, or other mess is left behind. It’s so smart that it prioritizes the dirtiest rooms first and avoids obstacles like shoes and cords. It identifies floor type to seamlessly transition from hard floor to carpeting so there are no wet carpet messes. They also have a Pet Owner Official Promise (P.O.O.P)—it won’t pick up pet messes or they’ll replace it for free. When it finishes its rounds, the Roomba returns itself to its dock for recharging and automatic emptying/refilling. An app lets you set custom schedules and clean specific areas. Ingenious!

22 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

Smart Cat Door

cat parents to watch their cats when they aren’t home to supervise. The rotating camera allows for a 360 field of vision without blind spots, and the Furbo smartphone app lets you not only see what your cat is up to but also hear and speak to them. You can even use the app to dispense a treat or play with your cat, thanks to the integrated feather wand toy! Meowing alerts let you know what’s happening in real-time, and auto cat-tracking, two-way audio, and colour-night vision mean you’ll always know what your cat is up to. The bestselling cat cam on Amazon, it’s earned rave reviews: “10/10 recommend. I absolutely love this camera/treat thrower!!! My cat loves it, too!”


Wearable Camera

Mr Petcam; $70,

Get a cat’s eye view—and solve mysteries—with this wearable camera that attaches to your cat’s collar! Mr. Pet Cam’s compact, lightweight collar-mounted HD video camera for cats (or dogs) lets you see what your cat sees at home, in the catio, or on solo adventures if you have an outdoor cat. Set up is easy—just clip and go. The small, lightweight camera attaches securely to your cat’s collar and captures clear audio and HD 1080p video with a 155-degree field of view. The waterproof camera even has night vision, and a motion sensor means it only records while your cat is in motion, extending battery life. The resulting footage is fascinating to watch and ideal for sharing on social media. “The video results have been hilarious and unexpected,” says a reviewer. It can also lead to surprising revelations: “I thought the idea of watching videos from my pet’s perspective was silly until I saw the footage,” reports another user. “I've learned my cat gets food at two other homes in the neighbourhood on a routine basis…Now I know why my cat was putting on weight!”

Microchip Cat Door Connect from Sure Petcare; from $216*, ModernCatDoor

If you have a catio, securely contained backyard, litter box room, or want to allow your cat outdoor access, a cat door is the obvious solution. But traditional cat doors risk other animals (raccoons and other uninvited guests) gaining access to your home. They also can’t keep some pets inside while allowing others outdoors. The SureFlap Microchip Cat Door Connect, from Sure Petcare, is an app-connected cat door that only opens for your assigned cat’s (or cats’) microchip. The Cat Door Connect scans your cats for their existing microchip or Sure Petcare RFID collar tag ($25, sold separately), allowing them access into or out of the door based on permissions you set in the Sure Petcare app. From the app, you can also remotely lock/ unlock, set a curfew, view activity reports, and receive alerts when your cat(s) enter and exit. *Requires connection to The Hub ($84; sold separately). Sure Petcare products are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent diseases or conditions and do not replace veterinary care.

modern cat .com 23

6 Automatic Feeder

GPS Collar

Tractive; $40 + $13 monthly subscription fee,

With unlimited range and support, Tractive’s CAT Mini wearable GPS tracker allows you to always know your cat’s exact location, providing unparalleled peace of mind. With live GPS tracking and escape alerts, you never have to worry about your cat going missing. A featherweight 25g, it's a fit for all adult cats. This waterproof GPS collar connects to AT&T, Verizon, and TMobile LTE networks across the United States, enabling your cat’s collar to communicate where your cat is located anywhere there is cell coverage. You can track your cat live with no distance limit, set virtual fences to keep them safe and discover their past routes and favourite spots. Updates are sent to your phone, regardless of how far away you might be—even across the world. The Tractive phone app also notifies cat parents anytime their cat leaves home and monitors activity and sleep. The activity-tracking functions of the app can help spot patterns as they develop and alert you to changes in your cat’s energy and exercise levels.


Instachew PureChew Sight Smart Pet Feeder; $100,

If you have long days or a cat with a health condition that necessitates a very strict feeding schedule, a smart feeder can prove indispensable. The Instachew PureChew Sight Smart Pet Feeder makes sure your cat gets their food exactly when they are supposed to. This sleek feeder not only allows you to automatically feed your cat and control portions while you do so but also looks beautiful in your home. The feeder features an HD camera with built-in night vision, letting you see your cat. Two-way audio allows you to hear and talk to them as they eat. The accompanying app lets you schedule mealtimes or feed with the touch of a button when you aren’t home. If you have an early-rising cat that insists on being fed at 4:30 am, this is the solution you’ve been looking for. No more feline alarm clock!


Smart, Self-Cleaning Litter Box

Leo’s Loo Too; $650,

Imagine never scooping the litter box again! Say so long to this universally disliked task, thanks to a high-tech solution that guarantees a fresh and clean litter box experience with every use. Leo’s Loo Too, a smart, self-cleaning litter box, automatically sifts waste into an enclosed, capacious waste drawer after every use. A connected app alerts you when the waste drawer (liner bags provided) needs to be emptied. It also lets you know when your cat has used the litter box and how much your cat currently weighs. Whisper quiet operation means noise is a non-issue, and a UV light sterilization kills germs and bacteria, eliminating any odour. Cat lovers offer rave reviews: “My cats love it! Leo’s Loo was an investment that I would make over and over. With two kitties, we were going through kitty litter more than we should have been. So many pros to having the Leo's Loo Too. Saving money on kitty litter, less dust, less mess, no stinky lingering scent masked by kitty litter. Most of all, my two male cats are so much happier!”

24 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

Cats Have 276 Facial Expressions

Frequently thought to be aloof, felines are far more expressive than previously thought. A new study shows that cats have complex social lives.

Cats have a reputation for being inscrutable and unexpressive, but according to a new study, that’s simply not true. Researchers found that cats, in fact, make 276 different facial expressions.

The research, published in Behavioural Processes, demonstrated that cats have a wide array of both friendly and unfriendly facial expressions, belying the idea that cats are not social creatures. The study unpacks how cats interact with each other and with us.

Your Cat’s Face Can Tell You If They Are Feeling Friendly or Not

Whether your cat is feeling friendly (or not) toward another cat is all shown on their face. One of the fascinating things about domestic cats is that they exist on a spectrum, from solitary cats to those who live in small or large social groups. In colonies of free-roaming cats, female cats cooperate with each other to raise their kittens. But housecats, depending in part on their early life experiences, may prefer to be the only feline, while others happily live with multiple cats. Given this

variance, it makes sense for cats to have facial expressions that tell other cats when they are feeling friendly—but scientists had not looked at it before now. It turns out that cats have a much wider range of expressions than they have previously been credited with.

Brittany Florkiewicz, PhD, second author of the study and an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Lyon College in Arkansas tells us, “We know that cats are very social. What the results of our study show is that to navigate different social interactions and different social structures, they’re using a wide variety of facial expressions.”

In fact, they found 26 different facial movements that were used to make a total of 276 combinations. 46 percent were only used in a friendly context, 37 percent in an unfriendly context, and the remainder in both kinds of situations. The number of facial expressions is very complex—more like chimps (with 357 documented expressions) than gibbons (with about 80).

“One of the most interesting things is just the huge variety of these individual muscle movements that they observed during the interactions,” says Mikel Delgado, PhD,


that clustered together into two distinct groups: a set of feline facial movements

movements associated with unfriendly

important to notice the eyes, whiskers,

How to Tell If Your Cat’s Facial Expression is Friendly to Another Cat


• Ears move to the middle of the head

• Ears move forward

• Whiskers move forward

• Eyes are closed


• Ears are rotated

• Ears are flattened to the head

• Pupils are constricted (narrow)

• The tongue wipes the lip

should look for in friendly cat-cat relations, like the tail-up signal (the tail straight up, often with a little hook at the end) or cats rubbing on each other, lying together, and choosing to spend time in close proximity.

However, the study found that there was no difference in the complexity of affiliative and nonaffiliative facial expressions; in other words, there were no differences in the number of facial muscles involved in each type of signal, friendly or otherwise.

Play Face

Some of the friendly interactions that were recorded in the study involved cats playing with each other, and that led to another exciting finding: cats have a specific facial expression related to play, known as play face. This has previously been found in other mammals like dogs, humans, monkeys, apes, and sun bears, and it was thought to exist in cats—but this is the first time it has been clearly shown from a scientific perspective.

Yeti Cooper Photo by Sydney McIntyre
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Whiskers are an incredibly good indicator: Content or happy cats almost always point their whiskers forward.

Across many mammals, play face involves the same kind of facial muscles. In dogs, these expressions can vary in intensity, but essentially, the lips are parted, the corners of the lips are pulled back, the jaw is relaxed, and the mouth is open. This is sometimes accompanied by panting or a sound like human laughter. It turns out that cats, too, have a similar play face that can vary in intensity and be accompanied by similar sounds.

“Play faces are really beneficial because play is great for the development of cognitive ability, social abilities, and finetuned motor skills, so being able to play has lots of benefits,” says Florkiewicz. “But it’s also potentially risky because play can always go south, right? You know, if a cat gets a little bit too into the play bout, maybe there’s a little bit too much rough and tumble… So play faces are great because they help cats to modulate play in terms of changing intensity and in terms of changing the behaviours, going from rough and tumble to chase and vice versa.”

It’s really interesting that cats seem to share a common play face with other species and that they use it in a similar

“I’d say the quick and easy way to tell them apart,” says Delgado, “is really, just, are they screaming or is it mostly just quiet, because play does tend to be very silent and fighting is not a pleasant sound.”

Other signs that indicate cats are playing include role reversals in play (for example, the cat who is chasing becoming the cat who is chased), changes in activity (such as from wrestling to chasing), and no overt signs of fighting (claws in!). Some of the movements you might see in cat-cat play include a side-step with an arched back and the tail curled up, one cat lying belly-up with all their legs pointing up, a bouncy running gait, and a face-off in which one cat sits facing the other with a paw raised and moving towards them.

Feline Facial Expressions and Domestication

This study posited that these feline facial expressions— and the ability to produce them—must have evolved for a reason. Domestic cats are a lot more social than their wildcat relatives, and they engage in various social behaviours, such as grooming each other, rubbing their heads together, resting together, and playing together. When animals (including cats) are domesticated, they don’t just become more tolerant of people, they also become more tolerant of each other because they have to share space. It’s possible that cats’ large variety of friendly facial expressions has developed as a result of the domestication process, even though they’ve only had a short domestication period (around 10,000 years).

“It might be attributed to the fact that cats have become very socially tolerant and affiliated with one another, and they’re using facial expressions to navigate social interactions,” says Florkiewicz. In research that she and her team have done, as well as studies from other researchers, she says that domesticated animals have more complex social lives, which in turn means they have different facial expressions.

How They Did The Study

The data was collected at the CatCafé Lounge in Los Angeles over a period of 10 months. The first author of the research, Lauren Scott, was an anthropology student at UCLA at the time (she’s now a medical student at the University of Kansas School of Medicine). Scott recorded cats on video after hours when all the people had gone home. The cats were filmed in the two main rooms of the café—the lounge and the catio— where the cats were able to move around and mingle with each other as they wished. In total, 27 female and 26 male domestic shorthair cats took part in the study, with 688 facial signals to other cats recorded over the 10 months.

Once the data was collected, it was analyzed using a system called catFACS (cat Facial Action Coding System).

Yorkshire Puddington
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Photo by Sydney McIntyre

You have to learn a lot of feline anatomy to be able to use catFACS. The analysis just looked at facial signals aimed at another cat; things like breathing, yawning, and moving the head did not count. The scientists looked in detail at facial movements such as ears forward, nose lick, half blink, and so on.

Florkiewicz has even seen these signs at home after adding a second feline to her household. “When my cats were first introduced to each other and became more friendly over time, you notice that the ears are going forward, the whiskers are going forward, and the eyes are closing,” she said. “They’re purring, they’re rubbing each other. It’s very clear that they have a good relationship. You can see that affiliation coming through with the facial expression.”

This study tells us that there’s much more to feline faces than previously thought. The results may be useful to shelters, veterinarians, and cat guardians. For example, being able to spot these facial expressions might help a shelter know whether a particular cat should be adopted out on their own or to a home with another cat. Most of us don’t have the time or inclination to study the catFACS, but all of us can pay more attention to our kitties’ facial expressions. In a multi-cat home, it will help us to know how friendly the cats actually are with each other.

This research is not the only new development in learning how to read cats’ faces. In recent years, scientists have developed a feline grimace scale which identifies the facial movements associated with acute pain in cats. Cat guardians and veterinarians can now reference the facial grimace scale website or download the app and use it to see if there are signs of pain on their cat’s face. This can help veterinarians know when to prescribe painkillers for feline patients.

One day, the results of the current study may lead to a new tool to help people read their cat’s expressions. “I’m not going to be surprised if, in the near future, you can feed a video or photo of your cat to an app that will help you identify some of these facial movements that AI can probably identify easier than we can,” says Delgado. 


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Signs Your Cat Thinks You’re Their Mom or Dad

Does your cat see you as a caretaker, mate, or affiliate? Read on to find out which one you are!

There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this article, you love cats. And as a cat lover, you’ve likely wondered what your cat thinks of you. Can a cat love a human? With all the nurturing and care we give our cats, is it possible they think of us as their mom or dad?

Cats, far from being loners, often engage in intricate social behaviours with their feline companions. They form colonies where they establish hierarchies, share resources, and even engage in communal activities such as grooming. This social structure, deeply rooted in their evolutionary history, highlights their inclination toward a rich social life. Cats, it seems, have evolved not only to coexist but to thrive in the

company of other cats and humans alike. Understanding the nuances of these social connections adds depth to the relationship between humans and their feline friends.

Does your cat consider you a Caretaker, Mate, or Preferred Affiliate? Read on to unpack each role and determine what your cat thinks of you!

We know that cats instinctively develop specific roles within their cat communities. These roles can also be developed between cats and other species and very easily with humans. Cats don’t just see us as mere roommates. Oh no, they’ve categorized us into distinct roles, as they do with their feline companions.

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ROLE #1: The Caretaker, aka Mom

First up, we have the caretaker, or in human terms, the mom (or dad for you cat dads out there). The caretaker is the provider of sustenance, the keeper of the elusive red dot/feather wanded toys, and the designated cleaner of litter boxes. To a cat, the caretaker is more than just a vending machine for cat treats; they’re the feline equivalent of a benevolent parent, a confidant in the complex world of whisker twitches and tail flicks.

ROLE #2: Mates

But wait, there’s more. Cats, in their infinite wisdom, also see humans as potential mates. Now, before you conjure images of feline romance, let’s clarify—it’s not about moonlit dinners or sharing a Churu squeezeup treat. No, it’s a desire for companionship, a craving for the warmth of connection. Cats seek not just the provider but a partner in crime, a sidekick in the grand adventure of knocking things off shelves and chasing imaginary foes. It’s this depth of emotional connection cats can forge, seeking not just care and affection from us but also companionship akin to a familial bond.

“In the last decade, research on many animals has shown they lead rich emotional lives. Beyond mere fear and anxiety, they are capable of grieving the loss of their humans or animal companions; they can become depressed; they can experience anticipation and pleasure. They can also experience dramatic emotional responses to changes in their environment. Cat share with humans the same neurochemistry that allows us to feel.”—Excerpt from Mieshelle Nagelschneider’s cat behaviour science book, The Cat Whisperer, Random


Then, there’s the category of preferred affiliate or friend. Cats, the discerning socialites that they are, make a distinction between mere acquaintances and true-blue friends. This affiliate distinction goes beyond the basic

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aspects of caretaking and mating, encompassing a genuine fondness for human companionship. Cats display affection, seek attention, and engage in playful behaviours, mirroring the dynamics of cat-to-cat friendship. Preferred Affiliates may be the humans who get the privilege of belly rubs, the chosen recipients of the elusive purr serenade, and the confidantes privy to the sacred art of play fighting—or with humans, mock play fighting with wand-toy play or hiding around the corner so their cat can pretend to stalk them. Being deemed a friend in the feline world is an honour akin to receiving a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory—exclusive and coveted.

Is One Role Better Than Another?

Although cats may initially share a special bond with their parents, like other species, they eventually depart from the nest, entering new relationships characterized by different levels of interaction. The most prominent social bonds, arguably, tend to revolve around mates and preferred affiliates.

As we unravel the layers of feline social dynamics, the complexities of their interactions with both cats and humans become evident. Every tail flick and purr carries deeper significance. Cats, it seems, are not the solitary figures we often imagine; instead, they have evolved to embrace a multifaceted social existence that enriches the bonds they form with both their feline peers and their human companions. Understanding these intricate layers offers a glimpse into the world of feline relationships and what they might actually think of us humans.

So, next time you catch your cat orchestrating a play-fighting event in the evening or giving you the slow blink of approval, remember—you’re not just a bystander. It’s very likely you’re an integral part of the feline ensemble, playing your role within the confines of your home.

Cat Behaviourist Mieshelle Nagelschneider is the founder of The Cat Behavior Clinic, in practice for 28 years, and author of the cat behaviour science book, The Cat Whisperer from Random House Publishing. You can schedule a Zoom cat behaviour appointment with Mieshelle at

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Undiscriminating DOGS and FELINE FOODIES:

Why Cats Are Pickier Than Dogs

38 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024
Dogs will devour pretty much anything while cats turn up their noses—experts explain why.

Any pet owner who has ever watched their cat refuse to eat the priciest storebought food—while their dog happily devours rocks, shoes, dirty socks, and nuggets unearthed from the litter box—has pondered the polar-opposite tastes of their feline and canine companions. What causes these differences in our furry friends?

Omnivores and Carnivores

From the smallest housecat to the largest tiger, all cats are obligate carnivores: they require meat for their survival and cannot properly digest plants. Meat makes up more than 70 percent of a cat’s diet, which means that cats also belong to a small group of creatures called hypercarnivores. (Other members of this exclusive group include owls, snakes, spiders, and most sharks.)

UK veterinary surgeon Daisy May points out that cats, as obligate carnivores, have very particular dietary needs. “They’re finely tuned to seek out high-protein, meat-based meals. Their fussiness often stems from this biological predisposition. A cat may turn its nose up at certain foods because it simply doesn’t meet their nutritional requirements,” she says. “So, in a way, their pickiness is a survival instinct, ensuring they get the nutrients they need to thrive.”

Domestic dogs, by contrast, are omnivores. Like humans, dogs can remain healthy eating everything from meat and plants to (some) fungi and algae. “Cats evolved to be more fastidious, specialized hunters, whereas dogs evolved more as opportunistic scavengers, giving them each different survival strategies around food,” explains Emma Fulton, a veterinarian in the UK. “Dogs are less discerning and more willing to eat whatever food sources are available to them. Their survival instincts drive

them to take advantage of any potential meal, even if it’s rotten or unappealing to human sensibilities.” This drive to survive, she notes, can sometimes “override their good judgement and lead them to eat things that may cause gastrointestinal upset or even toxicity.”

For cats, freshly killed small prey such as rodents and birds are the ultimate in enticing fare. “This reliance on fresh meat likely made them more wary of spoiled foods,” Fulton says. “A key difference from cats is that dogs have evolved more robust digestive systems to handle eating spoiled or rotten foods. Their stomachs are quite acidic, with a pH close to 1, which helps destroy pathogenic microbes. Their short digestive tracts also move food through more quickly. So, while eating questionable foods is still risky, dogs are better equipped to consume things that would make cats and humans ill.” This all goes a long way toward explaining why an animal carcass washed up on a beach is unappetizing to a cat but may be pure ambrosia to a dog.

Taste Sensations

Also playing key roles in the differing preferences of cats and dogs are the taste sensations of bitterness, sweetness, and umami. “Cats have a much stronger sense of taste than dogs thanks to having more bitter taste receptors. Foods that taste bland or even pleasant to dogs and humans can taste quite bitter and unappealing to cats,” Fulton says. A study published in 2015 in the journal BMC Neuroscience compared the bitter receptors of domestic cats with those of humans and concluded that cats are much more sensitive to bitterness. Fulton notes that rotten or toxic foods can seem especially unappealing to cats, given their powerful sense of taste. Dogs, though, “are drawn to strong tastes like sweetness and umami, which signal calories and protein. Even foods that

taste bitter to them may still be appealing if hungry enough.”

And, says Texas veterinarian Michael Thompson, who is an expert on animal nutrition, “Cats are shown to lack the taste receptors for sweetness that many animals, including dogs, possess.” Scientists examined the DNA of several healthy domestic cats, along with some tigers and cheetahs, analyzing the Tas1r2 and Tas1r3 genes that usually work together to allow sweetness to be detected. The study’s results, published in 2005 in the journal PLOS/Genetics, indicate that the Tas1r3 gene in cats works fine, but the Tas1r2 gene does not, causing cats to be unable to perceive sweetness. Thompson says, “This may make cats naturally picky since their flavour palette is limited.”

Cats don’t like bitterness and can’t taste sweetness, but they can’t get enough umami. Sometimes called savouriness, umami is the rich, meaty flavour characteristic of cheese, mushrooms, wine, broth, and cooked meats. Researchers studied umami taste perception in domestic cats, and their results, published in 2023 in the journal Chem Senses, show that umami is by far the strongest taste preference for cats.

Joshua Errett, founder of Noochies! Cultivated Pet Food in California, acknowledges how fussy cats are, saying, “They have the reputation for being very picky animals for a reason.” He also knows firsthand how powerful their desire for umami can be. Errett was at home, trying to create a dog treat out of a nutritional yeast blend, when his cats became extremely interested in the yeast. “They kept coming into my room,” he says. “I had it in a box, and they were trying to get in the box.” After he put some yeast powder in a bowl for them, his cats eagerly licked it up.

Cats have “almost a little laboratory in their noses and mouths and tongues,” Errett says. “They can sense

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what benefit the food has for them.”

Dogs rely mainly on smell, but not cats: “It’s not all olfactory. Their tongues do a lot of the work.” They’re also very good at determining “what has that specific amino acid profile they like.” The umami of Noochies nutritional yeast is such a hit with cats and dogs alike that the company is making freeze-dried yeast treats for both.

Routines and Adventures

Cats are known for disliking change, while dogs are viewed as more adventurous. These tendencies can extend to food preferences. Cats, says Fulton, “take great comfort in familiarity and routine. An abrupt change in their diet can lead to finicky eating or refusal to eat the new food.”

Thompson agrees, saying, “Cats are creatures of habit, meaning they may reject unexpected changes if they are used to a particular food. Dogs, however, can be conditioned to eat various types of food due to their historical roles as scavengers.” Cats rely on familiarity and consistency to feel secure. “They develop daily habits around feeding, grooming, and playtime. Any disruption to their routine can cause stress and anxiety.”

Plus, Thompson says, “Cats have keen senses, especially their sense of smell and hearing. They can be highly sensitive to new scents, sounds, and environments. Unexpected changes may introduce unfamiliar scents or noises that can make them feel on edge.” As naturally risk-averse creatures, cats may see changes as possible threats. “Their instinct is to be cautious and avoid unfamiliar situations to protect themselves.”

Introducing New Foods

Any pet, whether a cat or a dog, might need some encouragement to try eating something new. “Dogs are generally more easygoing with their meals, and we often see them happily chow down on whatever’s in their bowl,” says Mark Sapir, Chief Marketing Officer of Open Farm. The Colorado company makes ethical, sustainable food for pets. “Cats,

This all goes a long way toward explaining why an animal carcass washed up on a beach is unappetizing to a cat but may be pure ambrosia to a dog.

on the other hand, tend to be a bit more particular. They like sticking to what they know and are less adventurous. When it comes to wet food, they have specific texture and animal protein preferences, making it a bit challenging to introduce new foods. Once you find something they love, they’re usually hooked.”

Sapir shares some advice to follow when introducing new foods. “For dogs, it’s all about making the meal special. If your pup isn’t enthusiastic about their regular food, try topping it with something extra, like freeze-dried treats, wet food, or a savory broth. These additions can pique their interest and get those tails wagging,” he says. “Cats are a little trickier. Patience is key here. Take it slow and introduce new foods gradually. Discover the texture and protein they adore and stick with it.” He lists the company’s most popular flavours: chicken and beef for dogs, poultry and fish for cats. “That said, dogs are generally more open to variety and can enjoy rotating flavours.”

Daisy May, the UK veterinary surgeon, points out that some cats are actually quite adventurous eaters, while some dogs can be more hesitant. “We all know cats go crazy for meat, but some are totally down to try other foods too, especially if they’ve been exposed to a variety from a young age. And get this—cats can pick up habits from each other! If they see another feline or even a human family member munching on something, their curiosity might just get the best of them,” she says. “With dogs, a bad experience with a certain food can be a turn-off if it led to an upset stomach. Some pups are naturally more cautious and need time to warm up to new treats and textures.”

As always, the key to understanding any specific dog or cat is remembering that each one is an individual. May says, “The main thing is that each animal has their own unique personality and history that shapes their preferences.” 

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Ahealthy microbiome is crucial to good guts and more. But what is the microbiome anyway, and how does it affect your cat’s health?

The microbiome is the diverse collection of microscopic organisms that share our—and our cat’s—bodies. A plethora of studies show that the composition of the gut microbiome has a profound effect on overall health—and not just GI health. The microbiome influences disease states and even mood! Improving gut health has been shown to help with anxiety and depression.

So, what affects the microbiome? Diet is huge. Things like stress, antibiotics, and second-hand smoke can negatively impact your cat’s microbiome as well.


Diet has a major impact on gut bacteria. Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers that act as food for the pre-existing good bacteria, stimulating growth. Metabolizing prebiotics

“The microbiome influences disease states and even mood! Improving gut health has been shown to help with anxiety and depression.”

like fiber generates substances that keep the microbes and the cells of the intestinal tract in our cats’ guts happy. Research shows that high-fiber diets have been associated with greater diversity and number of gut bacteria in people. Ask your veterinarian if your cat would benefit from dietary fiber supplementation, suggests the Morris Animal Foundation, a non-profit at the forefront of microbiome research.

Decreasing a cat’s exposure to second-hand smoke, as well as providing adequate exercise and rest, might be important factors in not only keeping cats healthy but keeping their microscopic friends happy, too.

Other researchers are looking at using oral probiotic cocktails to influence gut microorganisms, and still others are looking at how diet alterations might change the microbiome. Exciting stuff!



10 Ways to Get Your Cat to Eat

Expert tips for combatting your cat’s picky eating!


Heat up your cat’s food. Smell is the first factor cats use to determine if they will even try a food. Warming your cat’s food to enhance its smell can be a very effective way to entice cats to eat.


Try a tasty, high-value addition. If you feed your cat dry food, try adding canned food, chicken broth (low or no sodium), or tuna (in moderation due to mercury concerns) to your cat’s meal to improve the smell.



Make sure your cat’s plate or bowl is clean. The smell of old, remnant food could be turning your cat off.

Check to see if it’s gone stale. If you feed dry food, make sure it isn’t stale and hasn’t absorbed moisture. If your cat has suddenly gone off their dry food, this could be the culprit. The expiration date noted on bags of dry cat food only applies to unopened bags. Once the bag is opened, it can begin to oxidize and go rancid within as little as 14 days. To prevent this, buy smaller bags of cat food or store your cat’s kibble in the freezer.

#5 Experiment with different cat foods. Switch dry for wet, or try a different flavour/ protein source and see what tempts your cat.


Change your cat’s feeding location. Is the location of your cat’s food dish stressing them out? Are other pets or little kids terrorizing your cat while eating? Perhaps it’s too high traffic or too isolated. It could also feel unsafe if your cat feels backed into a corner while eating. Cats also prefer to have their food and water sources separate rather than side by side.

#7 Is your cat being bullied? If you have multiple cats, make sure one cat isn’t preventing the other from accessing their food. To prevent this from happening, make sure there are ample resources/dining areas for both cats.


Give your cat individual access for a stress-free mealtime. If your cat won’t eat because other pets are stealing their food (looking at you Rover!), try a smart feeder such as the SureFeed® Microchip Pet Feeder ($199, ModernFeeder). The SureFeed Feeder only opens for your cat’s existing microchip or RFID tag ($25 – sold separately) and closes when they are finished eating, locking out other pets. Use the included Split Bowl that holds both wet and dry food to help keep your cat’s meal fresher for longer.


Don’t let wet food sit out. Toss wet food that has been sitting out for a while. How long it can sit out depends on the climate, but most experts agree it should be tossed after 1-2 hours and certainly if it has sat out for four hours. If it has formed a dry crust, it’s not fresh and the dry exterior is likely dissuading your cat from eating their food. Wet food that has sat out could have had flies lay eggs in it (eww).


Work up an appetite. Exercising your cat through play provides important mental and physical stimulation and can help stimulate your cat’s appetite.


If your cat is not eating as they do normally, consult your vet right away to ensure an underlying illness isn’t at play. Dental pain issues can also cause cats to be reluctant to eat.


10 Meal Toppers Picky Cats Go Crazy For



toppers to tempt picky cats to actually, you know, eat their dinner | By

Add the following healthy, cat-approved foods and toppers to your cat’s regular meal and improve smell, palatability, and your cat’s enthusiasm!

#1 Sardines. Wild caught, unsalted sardines packed in spring water. Cats love them, and they’re a food topper with longevity benefits! Sardines are incredibly nutrient-dense. They’re packed with Omega-3s and vitamin D, both of which are cancer preventatives. They’re also a rich source of selenium, which promotes thyroid health and helps neutralize free radicals, protecting the organs from damage. Not only that, but sardines are an incredible source of CoQ10, a powerhouse coenzyme renowned for its antioxidant properties and a favourite supplement of longevity scientists.

Plus, sardines are sustainable and supply the lowest levels of mercury

and the highest levels of EPA and DHA of any fish. These essential fatty acids decrease inflammation and promote healthy skin function. And cats love them! You can give your cat half a sardine for every 10 pounds of body weight, 1 – 2 times per week. Buy sardines packed in water or fresh if you can find them! (Avoid farmed fish).

#2 Tuna or Tuna Water. This is an easy win. If you open a can of water-packed tuna, save the tuna water—and maybe a morsel or two of the tuna itself—for your cat. Added to their regular food, the fishy smell helps tempt your cat to eat, and the water content helps keep cats, notorious for low water consumption, hydrated.


#3 Coconut oil.

of coconut oil. Start small—just day added to your cat’s dinner. (Too much, and you risk causing diarrhea.) Adding coconut oil to your cat’s diet can benefit their immune system, help with hairballs, reduce arthritis inflammation, improve bad breath, and help with a healthy stomach, says Dr. Anna Gardner, a holistic veterinarian in Washington. It can also help with constipation.



Bonito Flakes

are a healthy, nutritious supplement that you can sprinkle on your cat’s meals daily to make your cat’s food more appetizing. Derived from a single protein source—the tissue-paper-thin dried, smoked shavings of skipjack tuna—bonito flakes have an intense umami flavour, so a little goes a long way. High in protein and low in calories and fat, they’re a healthy and effective way to tempt picky cats.

#5 Catnip. You may not know this, but cats can actually eat catnip. Try sprinkling a bit of dried catnip over your picky cat’s dinner. It may spark the interest needed to entice them to eat. It’s perfectly safe to ingest and good for their digestion too! Plus, eating catnip can have a calming effect, useful for anxious cats.

Plain meat baby food is a great way to tempt cats. It’s devoid of salt, onions, artificial flavours, and other things that are bad for cats, and its pureed texture makes it perfect for mixing into cat food.

#8 Fish oil.

Fish oil not only lends a flavour and fish scent many cats love, but it’s an excellent health booster. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, fish oil can improve your cat’s skin and coat health and support joints and cognitive function. If your cat weighs 15 pounds or less, give them ¼ to ½ teaspoon a day right on their food.

#9 Nutritional Yeast Powder.

A lot of cats love the cheese-like flavour of nutritional yeast powder. Unlike regular yeast, it’ cats because it contains no leavening agents. It’s packed with B vitamins and protein and can strengthen your cat’s immune system, promote skin and coat health, and give your cat an energy boost. Try dusting a bit on your cat’s food to perk up their regular offering.

#6 Churu. Cats love Churu meal toppers and creamy treats. Adding a bit to your cat’s regular food can be just the thing to tempt your food-adverse kitty to eat. Made of wholesome ingredients without grains, preservatives, or artificial flavours, you can feel good about adding a Churu topper or creamy treat to your cat’s regular meal. They’re low-calorie, too! (from $4,

#10 Grated cheese.parmesan

Many cats find cheese irresistible. Harder, aged cheeses, like parmesan, are considered safe for cats because they're low in lactose. (Soft cheeses, like mozzarella, which can be higher in lactose, are on the no list.) Parmesan is still high in fat and salt, though, so it should be an occasional treat. Sprinkling a little on your cat’s dinner can do wonders to entice them to eat.



Just like humans, cats can develop dementia. In cats, it’s called Feline Cognitive Dysfunction. It’s most often noticed in senior cats, with symptoms similar to those of people with Alzheimer’s. The feline brain starts to decline at around 10-15 years old, so cat dementia is more likely to occur after age 10.

This Acronym Helps Spot the Early Signs of Dementia

in Cats Researchers from the University of Edinburgh have come up with a useful acronym that can help cat owners spot the signs of dementia: VISHDAAL.

V Excessive Vocalization: Is your cat making far more noise than usual?

I Changes in Social Interaction: Is your cat becoming distant or less playful?

S Changes in Sleep Patterns: Is your cat sleeping more or less than usual?

HHouse soiling: Is your cat peeing or pooing inside the house when formerly litter-trained?

Cat Dementia Signs & How to Help Your Cat

D Disorientation: Is your cat becoming lost or easily confused?

A Changes in Activity: Is your cat more docile or slower than before?

A Increased Anxiety: Is your cat more stressed or aggressive?

L Learning and/or memory defects: Is your cat forgetting their name or the names of their favorite toys?

Use this acronym to help remember and spot the signs of Feline Cognitive Dysfunction. If you suspect your cat has dementia, speak to your vet and implement some easy-to-make changes in your home to help you and your cat adjust.


Things That Can Help Cats Suffering From Dementia

1. Avoid changing the location of food, litter, or favourite rest spots.

2. Keep your cat’s brain active with lots of puzzles and engaging cat toys. We like Catit̓s Play Treat Puzzle ($29, Hide cat treats or food in the six unique treat puzzle layouts to challenge and entertain your cat!

3. Use ramps, pet stairs, or boxes to help make getting around easier.

4. Use nightlights or dimmer lights to encourage better sleeping patterns.

5. Introduce supplements and dietary changes. Omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are known to help

modulate the inflammatory process and can help a cat with dementia, says VCA Animal Hospital.

6. Choose litter boxes with low, easy-access fronts that make it easier for older cats to get in and out of.

7. Try a plug-in or spray pheromone diffuser to help your cat relax.

8. Stick to a daily routine, such as keeping the same mealtimes. A timed cat feeder, such as the PETLIBRO Automatic Cat Feeder ($70,, can help with this.

9. Offer additional beds and rest spots.

10. Understand “accidents” happen—realize your cat is not doing it on purpose. If your cat is suddenly soiling one area in particular, try adding a litter box in that location.

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Our feline friends deserve the best nutrition! Elevate mealtime by building a custom bowl that’s sure to delight with new functional recipes from Go! Solutions. Combine Go! Solutions Sensitivities Limited Ingredient Grain-Free Salmon Recipe with a wet food topper using a Go! Solutions Booster recipe for a delicious, nutritionpacked feast.

Packing all original Flower Fountain features, as well as a premium-quality stainless steel top, the Catit Flower Fountain is more than qualified to keep your cat hydrated 24/7. The shallow, hygienic top is dishwasher safe and doesn’t irritate your cat’s whiskers or skin! Available on

Help your cat live their best life with these wellness products!

Privy Kitty provides an outdoor litter box for indoor cats eliminates all the undesirable elements that come with having a litter box. Mounting securely to the exterior of your house, Privy Kitty lets you keep the litter box outside, your home clean, and your cat safe.

Essiac Pet Drops support your pet’s long term vitality and overall wellbeing! This organic, herbal supplement can be given daily to strengthen your cat’s immune system, improve digestion, and promote bone, joint, and muscle health and function. Essiac also helps clear the body of free radicals by detoxifying the blood, liver, and lymph nodes.

Manage cat acne, cuts, mouth sores, and more! Use Vetericyn’s Feline Facial Therapy to remove irritants, clean discharge in and around eyes and nose, reduce inflammation, and soothe the itch and irritation associated with allergies.

entirely within the United States. Designed to serve as rotational meals or tantalizing toppers and featuring whole-food, limited ingredients, they are easily digestible and ideal for cats with digestive sensitivities!

50 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

The LoveLanguage of Cats

Yes, your cat really does love you—science has proof

With their wagging tails and slobbery kisses, dogs show their affection in easy-tounderstand ways. But any feline fanatic will argue that cats display just as much love, albeit in a less obvious manner. Turns out, science has proven what we cat lovers have known all along.

Kristyn Vitale, an assistant professor in animal health and behaviour at Unity Environmental University in Maine, has spent the last decade debunking the myth that cats are antisocial.

A study she undertook in 2019, published in the journal Current Biology, examined the bonds that cats form with their human caregivers. Researchers observed while each cat and their owner spent two minutes together in an unfamiliar room. The cat’s owner then left for two minutes before the pair was reunited. Like dogs and human babies, most cats demonstrated strong attachment: casting glances back at their caregiver for reassurance, acting stressed when their caregiver exited the room, then relaxing again when reunited. The

researchers concluded that cats, like dogs, form an attachment bond with their human owners just like that seen between a human parent and child.

Low-key Love Cues

“Each species has its own universal love language, and its way of expressing it,” says Doaa Kat, a holistic pet trainer in Vancouver, BC. “Hugs and kisses are a universal love language for humans. Tail wagging and running toward us is a universal love language for dogs. The universal love language for cats is by far subtler affection,” asserts Kat, who’s also known as Catffeinated The Pet Mom. “A part of our role as cat parents is to be fully aware of our cat’s unique love languages and know how to reciprocate it.”

Veterinarian Carlo Siracusa gives a historical perspective as to why cats’ cues can be harder to read than those of dogs. “Domestic cats have evolved from wild cats that are solitary animals,” says Siracusa, who is also the Chief of Animal

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Behaviour Service at the University of Pennsylvania. “Even though the domestic cat is a social animal, they did not evolve a sophisticated body and facial language to communicate with other individuals, as dogs did. This is why their social behaviour relies a lot on more subtle behaviours that are sometimes missed by humans.”

Subtle Love Behaviours of

Cats According to Researchers & Behaviourists


Staying Nearby Proximity is probably the strongest indicator of a cat’s affection. “Cats use distance versus proximity to express how much they feel comfortable around someone,” Siracusa says. “They tend to spend a higher amount of time close to their ‘preferred associates,’ aka best buddies, towards whom they also display more affiliative behaviours, like rubbing and grooming.”

Bailey Eagan is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia who studies animal welfare, and she has a particular interest in cats. She notes that domestic cats have been staying in close proximity to their preferred humans for a very long time. “When we look back historically in ancient Egyptian art, it’s the same thing. Cats are sitting under the chairs or just a little bit off,” she says. “Behavioural progress for a cat might be one day they’re comfortable with you at three feet of a distance, but then the next day they might be comfortable eating off your hand.”

All of which helps to explain why friendly feline faces were popping up (and stealing the show) in every online meeting during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Housecats were sticking close to their favourite newly housebound humans.


explain in an email the meaning of this behaviour: “If your cat meows to you, that is a strong indicator of love. Past kittenhood, cats do not meow, and they don’t communicate with each other with meows. It’s reserved just for us humans.”

Humans have become quite adept at interpreting those feline sounds. In a 2014 study conducted at Lund University in Sweden, listeners showed a high degree of accuracy at differentiating between meows recorded during feeding time and ones recorded while waiting at the vet. But we humans are far less able to interpret the subtle ways that adult cats communicate with each other, which include scent, physical contact, facial expressions, and body language, such as tail posture.


Purring “Cats are subtle. They show love quietly,” says Olivia Kepner, a zookeeper in San Diego. Compared to dogs, “cats express love in quieter ways, like purring and nuzzling.”

Researcher Eagan has conducted studies in animal shelters, and she laments that she rarely encounters a purring cat at work, only while at home with her own pet. She notes that

Meowing Many pet owners don’t realize that adult cats rarely meow to each other. Linda Hall and Rita Reimers, the pair of Certified Cat Behaviourists behind the 19 Cats and Counting podcast,

Although cats sometimes do purr in stressful situations, such as when experiencing pain, illness, or fear, the endearing low-pitched rumble occurs most often when a cat feels contented. Clever kitties have even figured out a way to add further layers

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of communication to the common purr. A 2009 study conducted at the University of Sussex in the UK showed that domestic cats use a special type of purr to solicit food, and this purr is easily identified—even by people who have never owned a cat—as both less pleasing and more urgent than a typical purr. It says, in effect, “Feed me now.”


Giving Slow Blinks One of the most interesting—but frequently overlooked—ways that cats communicate affection is through the slow blink. Eagan describes this as “a cool, lovely, kind of secret messaging that we have with cats.”

UK veterinary surgeon Daisy May explains the meaning of this behaviour. “When your cat slowly blinks at you, it is communicating trust and contentment,” she says. “It lets the cat say they feel good around you.” Unfortunately, since a slow blink is much less dramatic than a dog’s eager jumps, barks, and wagging tail, it can be easy to miss this small but meaningful expression of a cat’s love.

5 Scent Marking Cats use their scent to mark their favourite humans. “Nuzzling against you mixes their scent with yours, a territorial sign of acceptance and belonging,” May says.

Eagan agrees that sharing scent is an important way for cats to demonstrate affection. “Head rubbing is a big one that I see,” she says, and she also mentions that cats use “the scent glands that they have in their cheeks and face and flanks.” A cat’s gentle head-butting, also known as head-

bunting, is both marking their scent on you and seeking your loving attention in return.


Kneading Kittens knead to stimulate their mothers’ milk during nursing, and most cats continue this soothing act of “making biscuits” into adulthood. Scientists don’t entirely understand why cats knead. Perhaps it’s to mimic the comforting feeling of being cared for as a kitten, perhaps to create a soft place for sleeping, perhaps to mark territory. As Eagan points out, “There’s also scent glands in their paws.” One fact beyond dispute, however, is that a cat kneading on your lap is conveying trust, contentment, and love.


Grooming Another way that cats display love is by grooming their preferred humans and other pets in the household. Hall and Reimers explain in their email: “Once a cat begins to trust you, he will give you slow blinks to indicate trust, will rub up against you to mark you with their scent, and will also groom you to show you belong to their family.” This behaviour hearkens back to the allogrooming (cleaning a member of the same species) that a mother cat does for her kittens, which teaches the kittens how to clean themselves, displays her affection for them, and strengthens their bond. Creatures as different as mammals (including humans), birds, fish, and insects all

the veterinary surgeon, explains the meaning of such offerings. “Cats also demonstrate caring by sharing ‘gifts’ of prey, even if the deceased mouse on your doorstep may not be welcomed! It’s not welcoming for us, but for them, being an evolutionary creature that domesticated itself, well… It’s quite a nice gesture when you think about it,” she says. “It shows they see you as family and they trust you.” In addition to sharing their food, your generous kitty might be trying to teach you how to hunt, an important survival skill for cats in the wild. When viewed this way, that


Showing Trust


Bringing Gifts Anyone who’s ever lived with an outdoor cat has, at some point, undoubtedly been presented with a rodent or bird carcass. Daisy May,

Behaviours Hall and Reimers point out a key difference between cats and dogs: “Most cats aren’t quick to trust—a person must earn their trust and love. We like to say that dogs love and trust until you give them a reason not to, but cats don’t love and trust until they are given a reason to do so.”

A loving cat clearly displays this trust. “Each cat is unique. Just like people, they may show their love in different ways,” says LeeAnna Buis, a Certified Feline Training and Behaviour Consultant in the Pacific Northwest. “The primary thing I look for is trust. If your cat acts in ways that show they trust you, that’s the best sign of love in my book—whether it’s showing their belly, sleeping with you, or even just sticking close to you during a stress event because they feel more secure with you than hiding under the bed.” By exposing areas such as the stomach

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and throat, or falling asleep on you, the cat becomes extremely vulnerable, which an animal only does willingly when feeling the utmost trust and love.


Playing One way to identify love behaviours in cats is to analyze scenarios where those behaviours are absent. In Eagan’s research with shelter cats, she usually sees the creatures when they are feeling very little trust, comfort, or love. “What behaviours are

we never seeing when cats are scared?” she asks. Scared cats rarely display any of the nine love behaviours listed above, nor do they play much. In contrast, cats that feel loved demand regular playtimes with their owners. Playing allows cats to socialize and exercise, it strengthens social bonds, and it keeps the cats engaged, not bored.

5 Ways To Return Your Cat’s Love

Now that you can identify some of the subtle ways that cats demonstrate their love, it’s time to return that affection in ways they understand. “Pay attention to your cat’s body language, how they act around you, communicate with you, look at you, spend time with you, and how they seek your company,” says Doaa Kat, the holistic pet trainer. “Understand your cat’s personality, physical boundaries, and unique needs and wants, then properly respond to them.”

1Respond on Their Level

“Meeting them where they’re at” is how Eagan describes this. “The energy that they’re usually giving off is what you’re trying to match,” she says. Get down on the floor with your cat, mimic their body language, return their slow blinks, and speak in a cat-friendly way. A 2022 study in

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the journal Animal Cognition showed that cats react positively to their owners’ cat-directed speech, which is higher-pitched than normal speech, similar to how adults talk to human babies. Eagan also suggests using your cat’s name frequently, explaining that “we have research showing that cats recognize and respond to their names.”

LeeAnna Buis mentions another key point: “The most important thing is to use your cat’s love language—not yours.”

2 Respect Their Boundaries

not be as excited by that. Think about what your cat loves and respect their boundaries,” Buis says. “Show your cat that when they give you a little love, you’ll give it right back in ways they enjoy and not ways that make them want to squirm out of your arms and get out of there. Cats are high-frequency, low-intensity interactors—the opposite of humans, who are low-frequency, high-intensity. So, don’t overdo it. Keep it simple.”

3 Provide an Appealing Home

that “they really like routine and having agency and control over the situation, like being able to leave if they want to.”

Hall and Reimers offer other important advice: “Be sure you have toys and cat trees for them in places where you spend time, not off in another room. Your cats want to be where you are.”

4 Pet Them Gently

Hall and Reimers mention how important petting can be in creating a loving bond: “Gentle touch will show your cat that they can trust you, which, of course is the foundation for love.” Petting involves showing attention, exchanging scents, and reinforcing social bonds—plus, it simply feels good for both cats and humans.


Play with Your Cat

Respond positively when your cat initiates playtime (or any other type of interaction). According to a 1991 ethological study by the Institute of Zoology in Zurich, more time is spent interacting overall when the cat initiates the interaction than when the human does. To maximize your cat’s playtime enjoyment, use a prey-like toy, such as a wand toy, for a few minutes before rewarding the cat with treats.

Daisy May says, “Creating a calm home, respecting their space, and engaging in gentle play are all important ways to reciprocate your cat’s understated but meaningful affection. While different from a dog’s overt displays, understanding your cat’s unique love language and properly interpreting their subtle signals allows for a close companionship. 

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modern cat .com 57


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Meet the Mos t Adorably Fluf f y Cat Breeds

& Find Out If They’re Right for You! PHOTO LIFE ON WHITE/BIGSTOCK 60 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024

1Let’s meet some of the most adorably fluffycoated cat breeds and find out if they’re right for you! Teresa Keiger, a cat expert with The Cat Fanciers’ Association and CFA allbreed judge, shares the hallmark attributes and personalities of the fluffiest cat breeds.

The Persian

When one mentions “fluffy cat,” the first image that likely comes to mind is the Persian. With their long coat, short body, and their large, round eyes set wide apart in a large, round head, this breed is the epitome of elegance. Their flowing coat reaches down to the floor (although having short legs helps with that…) and can be in any colour and/or pattern. Their personality is sweet and gentle, and they love to lounge around.

Love the sweet look of the Persian, but afraid of all that long hair? Look no further than its short-haired hybrid, the Exotic! It was developed by breeders to have the same short body

and round features of the Persian, but with a short coat. But what a coat! Dense and plush and full of life, the coat still requires regular grooming, but not to the extent that the Persian does. The Exotic’s personality is very similar to the Persian’s. This is a sweet, quiet, gentle, and affectionate cat.


The Maine Coon Cat

You say that you love long hair AND a large cat? The Maine Coon Cat is all that and more! The Maine Coon Cat is CFA’s largest breed, with males averaging 20 to 23 pounds and females proportionally smaller. The Maine Coon’s coat is unique in that it grows in layers—you can readily see the visibly shaggy coat. This breed’s easygoing nature make the Maine Coon easy to love, especially as they like to follow their owners around. They come in many colours and patterns. The icing on this shaggy cake are enormous whiskers and (often) irresistible tufts of fur at the ear tips.

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a wide range of colours and patterns, but the similarities end there. The Norwegian Forest Cat has a triangular head consisting of flat planes, and their ears continue along those planes. It is the only breed which can go down a tree headfirst. They are extremely outgoing, playful, and sweet. The Siberian is a slow to mature cat, not reaching full maturity until four to five years old. They have a muscular, barrelchested body and a head which is a modified wedge with a fully rounded muzzle. They are loyal and affectionate cats that love cuddling.


The British Shorthair

Shorthaired breeds can ALSO be fluffy, and a great example is the British Shorthair. This breed’s coat is the densest of all breeds with about 300 hairs per square inch. You can run your hand through their coat, and it will spring right back, leaving no

trace of a handprint. Although solid blue is the most popular colour, the British Shorthair comes in a wide variety of other colours and patterns. Their dense coat does require regular combing to remove the dead hair it sheds (just as all cats do). This large-bodied cat has a gentle disposition and an intelligent nature—so intelligent that they’ve often been used in TV and movies.


The Selkirk Rex Another fluffy

So, what makes a fluffy cat breed different from shorthaired (non-fluffy) breeds? A cat breed might be considered fluffy if their hair is more than one inch long. Some fluffy cat breeds have even longer hair. Coats can come in variety of lengths, such as the floor-length Persian and the shaggy-coated Maine Coon Cat or the shorter-coated Exotic and British Shorthair. Some breeds, such as the Norwegian Forest Cat, have double coats which consist of a longer outercoat and a shorter, denser undercoat, while the Siberian has as a semilong to long triple coat.

Find out how to properly care for fluffy cat coats at

The Siberian
62 modern cat SPRING   SUMMER 2024
The Norwegian Forest Cat


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modern cat .com 63

How To Take Your Cat


Learn how to take your cat on adventures—from someone who does it!

MYlife in Barcelona was as comfortable as it was predictable. A life that, in the eyes of people around me, was everything one could wish for. Beneath the surface, I felt restless. Something in me was telling me that I was not supposed to settle yet. The world was too big and too unknown not to go on adventures.

That feeling of not belonging in that comfortable lifestyle crystallized into an opportunity to leave my hometown—a

professional leap across the ocean to New York. In New York City, dreams are both made and tested. In January 2019, I moved to the U.S. with my partner by my side. It felt like the start of a grand adventure. But life, as it often does, unraveled in unexpected ways.

In just three months, my four-year relationship ended. I found myself living alone in a foreign and expensive city, without many friends, on a new job, and without any comfort. By August, grief made my breakup feel unimportant as I faced the

single most defining moment of my adulthood: losing my father to cancer. The urge to retreat to Spain was powerful. I had very few reasons to stay in the U.S., and my ability to overcome my loneliness was limited. Then, the world turned inward during the global pandemic, and the American dream I’d chased started to look like a challenge too big for me to achieve on my own.

I decided that I needed a companion. Like many others during the pandemic, I sought emotional shelter by bringing


a cat into my life, but only after a lot of deliberation because I’m allergic to cats. Mia, a Bengal cat, came into my life like a tsunami. Within weeks, she exhibited a Houdini-like knack for cabinet exploration, climbed up curtains, shattered glasses, and woke me up in the middle of the night with crazy zoomies.

Mia challenged my preconceptions of feline independence. She demanded my company, lots of engagement, and packed a lot of responsibility into my days. Contrary to making me anxious, her very existence forced me to be present and work out of the harsh emotions that had piled up in my head. She was a pivotal driver of change in my depression.

I wanted to improve my cat communication, improve my ability to understand her needs, and correct her misbehavior without punishing her. However, I didn’t know how to get there. I started reading about positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, and clicker training. While the amount of information on operant conditioning in general was overwhelming, there was very little specific to cat training.

We were in the midst of the pandemic, spending most of our time indoors and taking life one day at a time. With all the free time, I adapted dog and horse training principles to create some routine and learn to communicate with her. Clicker training became our shared language, a bridge between species. The bonding that resulted from learning together really helped pull me out of my slump.

I soon realized that I could not teach what I wanted without first building a foundation. I started with easy tricks that would enable me to teach one with more complexity. Mia started behaving a lot better, and my ability to help her understand what was acceptable vs. not also improved. But I did not want to stop there. I wanted to continue enjoying the bonding opportunities that training created, so we continued building a repertoire of tricks and behaviors that took our bond to a level I never thought was possible. Without realizing, I created a framework for training cats that was foundational, practical, and bonding.

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Clicker training is a fun and effective way to communicate with your feline friend. Let's break it down into three simple steps:


Transition from Free-Feeding: Cats who have constant access to food might be less motivated to earn treats during training sessions. Instead, have set mealtimes. This way, treats become a more valuable commodity.


Charge the Clicker: For the clicker to mean anything to your cat, you must give it value. Start by creating an association between the clicking sound and something good. Click and immediately give your cat a treat. Repeat this until your cat perks up at the sound of the click, expecting a treat. This process can take a few sessions.


Mark Desired Behaviours: Now that your cat understands the click is positive, start using it to mark behaviours you like. When your cat does something you want them to repeat, click at that exact moment, then treat. Be consistent, and with time, your cat will start offering those behaviours more frequently to get that satisfying click and treat.

Teaching your cat to walk allows you and your kitty to explore the outdoors safely. Here’s how to get started:

Introduce the Harness: Let your cat get used to the harness by placing it near their sleeping or feeding area. This can help your cat form a positive association. The harness will get impregnated with your cat’s pheromones. Once your cat seems comfortable around the harness, you can gently put it on while indoors. Ensure a proper fit—not too tight, not too loose. Let them wear it for short periods while engaging in enjoyable activities like playing or eating.

Indoor Practice: Before venturing outside, get your cat used to the feeling of a leash. Attach the leash to the harness and let your cat roam around the house. Keep the leash slack and follow your cat around. Practice picking up the leash and following your cat with it. Offer treats and praise to encourage them.

Take Baby Steps Outside: Choose a quiet, safe outdoor area to begin. Carry your cat outside or use a cat carrier. At first, just let them explore a little with the harness and leash on. Gradually, as they become more comfortable, you can start to guide them with gentle tugs on the leash. Always use positive reinforcement, like treats or affection, when they respond well to the leash.

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‘‘Clicker training became our shared language, a bridge between species.

As Covid restrictions started to open, I was eager to go outdoors, but I felt it was unfair to leave Mia behind after what she had done for me. I taught her to walk on a leash and to sit on my shoulder. Before I knew it, she was riding along with me on my bike. She turned into my adventure buddy, always eager to join me on the next outing.

During 2020 and 2021, we embraced the work-from-home lifestyle while saying yes to all trip opportunities for those two years. Our adventures took us across borders in almost every means of transportation. We found kinship with fellow travelers and their feline companions. We moved to the Caribbean with Veronica and Peter and their calico cat Khalessy, and we learned how to sail alongside dolphins with Mariana and Alex and their bobtail and Abyssinian cat Coyote. Each journey, each challenge, was a step further into a companionship and a bond I didn’t know was possible between cats and humans.

Teaching Mia to embrace the outdoors was rather easy. The real challenge hit when things started to go back to normal— the call to return to office life, to reintegrate into a world that now felt foreign. It was a crossroads between the life I was supposed to live and the pull of a life less ordinary.

Our story and adventures began to resonate with a growing social media audience that wanted to see more. Mia and I found our calling via the questions that constantly came our way from our community. Through videos and stories, we shared our knowledge, hoping to educate and inspire others to find the same joy through deepening their bond with their cat. We started to develop training methods and tools—a cat harness, cat treats, and training aids—to help cat parents do more with their cats. Our mission is to help share what we’ve learned in order to help others do the same.

Mia, in her grace and curiosity, has been my saviour, my teacher, my muse, and the reason to live a life where every challenge is a chance to grow and every goodbye a step toward a new and thrilling adventure. See you outdoors!

PHOTOS OUTDOOR BENGAL modern cat .com 67

Healthy PAWS

Solutions for everything from fleas to UTIs!


Boost your cat’s gut health and immune system with FeliOtic, the only daily liquid probiotic developed from cats and for cats! The lactobacillus reuteri in FeliOtic is feline-sourced and helps to replenish your cat’s natural gut flora with good bacteria. ($24,


If your cat suffers from itchy, irritated ears, try Zymox Advanced Enzymatic Ear Wipes. These safe, non-toxic wipes easily remove residue/odour, maintain ear health, and provide relief. Aloe vera and menthyl lactate soothe sensitive ears! ($19,


Safely and effectively protect your cat from fleas with Praventa for Cats! This vet-quality, broadspectrum topical treatment is specifically designed to repel and kill fleas, flea eggs, and flea larvae on contact. Best for cats eight weeks or older and available in doses for small and large cats! (from $20,


Dealing with feline acne or facial irritation? The Vetericyn Plus Feline Antimicrobial Facial Therapy cleans, soothes, and prevents potential infection. Antibiotic and steroid-free, it’s safe if licked or ingested and won’t sting! ($14,

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Provide your cat with delicious, homestyle wet food from Portland Pet Food Company! Made with just eight wholesome ingredients and no hormones, synthetics, antibiotics, supplements, or additives, these Chicken N’ Pumpkin or Tuna N’ Pumpkin meals are suitable for all cats, particularly those with specific dietary needs. (from $14,


Cats love the Churu Hairball Control lickable treats from Inaba! You’ll love fewer hairballs. This irresistible treat is made with premium proteins, zero bad stuff like artificial colours, and has an added insoluble vegetable fiber that supports healthy digestion and controls hairballs. (from $4,


Formulated specifically for feline urinary tract issues, the Goodbye UTI drops from Suzie’s Pet Treats combine full spectrum CBD oil with dandelion root, cranberry seed extract, and marshmallow root to promote healthy function and soothe discomfort. A base of wild Alaskan salmon oil makes it easy to give your cat! ($30,


Tantalize your cat's tastebuds with the Bistro Bowl pouches from Whole Life Pet! Simply scoop out a serving and add water for an instant hydrating snack. Made with human-grade ingredients and tuna, chicken, or salmon proteins! ($24,


Suitical’s vet-recommended feline Recovery Suit is a welcome alternative to the medical cone, comfortably protecting cats as they recover from veterinary procedures, skin conditions, and more! Available in two different fabric patterns. (from $31,


Does your cat have sensitive paws? The Featherweight Clumping Natural Wood Cat Litter from ökocat has a soft texture designed to protect delicate paws. This lightweight, biodegradable litter also stops odour in its tracks and is 99% dust-free. (from $22,


Don’t skip the brushing—your cat’s dental health has a major impact on their overall wellness. Make the job easier with Oxyfresh’s Premium Pet Toothpaste. Odourless and tasteless, it removes plaque, improves gum health, and freshens breath. ($12,


As the seasons change, so does your cat’s coat! The HandsOn Grooming Gloves can be used dry or wet to de-shed your cat’s fur while distributing natural oils for skin and coat health. Best of all, cats love being pet with these gloves! ($25,


Working on litter box training a kitten? Dr. Elsey’s Kitten Attract clumping litter boasts a blend of natural clay and kitten-safe herbs that attract cats to their litter box! Plus, the unique texture and particle size make this an effective training litter. (from $20,

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Who doesn’t love floofy, mischievous cats?! In this hilarious and adorable storybook, written and illustrated by Heidi McKinnon, Floof has a very busy day being a cat and getting up to typical feline antics. A delightful read for young and old cat lovers alike!

My Beloved Monster

Author Caleb Carr has always had special bonds with the felines in his life, but none more so than Masha, the half-wild Siberian Forest cat he rescued as a kitten. This poignant and beautiful memoir details their incomparable bond over the 17 years they shared together. An inspirational and heartwarming story of the deep feline-human bond and of navigating grief.

Cocktails with My Cat

Illustrated by Rae Ritchie

Learn how to make tasty drinks and discover fun feline trivia with Cocktails with My Cat! Featuring 60+ easy-to-make drink recipes, this whimsical mixology book also has chapters about rescue cats, famous cats, feline history, and cheersworthy quotes about cats mixed in.


Editor-in-Chief Connie Wilson’s selection of must-read books for cat lovers

Mickey: The Cat Who Raised Me

In this heartwarming memoir, bestselling author Helen Brown recounts her childhood growing up in a quirky household in 1960s New Zealand. 12, lonely, and feeling lost, she receives a beloved, inquisitive, and rambunctious kitten who helps her navigate the awkwardness of early adolescence. A lovely real-life story illustrating the magic of growing up with cats.

The Cat’s Meow

How did domestic cats find their way into our homes? And just how closely connected are they to wild cats? Evolutionary biologist and cat lover Jonathan B. Losos explores the history and evolution of cats, examining current research to give readers a fascinating look at wild and domestic felines.

Play With Your Cat!

If your cat seems bored or uninterested in playing, this book can help! Cat behaviour expert Mikel Delgado highlights why play is so important for cats, offering tips and tricks for engaging your cat in interactive play. This complete guide to feline play behaviour is packed with fun illustrations and valuable information that will improve your cat’s life.

From Floof by Heidi McKinnon
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Let’s Go Get Waffles

We had finally moved into an animal friendly apartment. I looked at my partner and said, “We have to go get Waffles.” Waffles was a tuxedo cat in the adoption center where I volunteered. He had been up for adoption for eight months. Waffles hated everything and had scared off both adopters and volunteers. “No one else is going

That was 12 years ago, and it has all been worth it. He is not a lap cat and never will be, but that is okay. All cats deserve love and give it back in their own ways. —Emily J. Petrarca

Tiny Cat Stories

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

Angry Orange

The Story Of Simon

My daughter was heartbroken when she lost her cat. One night, when she was sad and unable to sleep, I told her to pray and ask God to send her a cat. That next night, while we enjoyed the warm summer evening, we heard stirring in the bushes and a meow. She ran over and in that bush was the sweetest tuxedo cat. She got treats, and he came to her. He was so affectionate. She named him Simon. He liked fishing, watching hockey, and cuddles. He was the most special gift because he came from a child’s prayers. —Nichole Whelpley

Within two weeks of adopting Miso, he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition. In 14 years, he’s been diagnosed with asthma, urinary crystals, anaphylactic shock, inflammatory bowel disease, and most recently, diabetes. Luckily, Miso has the attitude of a tiger crossed with an ill-tempered toddler and refuses to back down. His anger and bad attitude have kept him alive all these years, along with a great vet team and pet parents willing to sacrifice vacations and a whole lot of money. My greatest achievement has been keeping this guy alive, and he’s still bitter as ever. —Krista Carboni

Forever Companions

Not to make this a sad story by any means, but living in the country, we are able to bury our beloved fur babies on our property. When my husband and I met almost 20 years ago, we both had cats that grew up together. So now my 19-year-old has joined his 18-and-ahalf-year-old in their little cemetery filled with cat ornaments. We like to think they are both continuing to keep each other company. —Cindy Moore

Barn Cat Trades Up

I first saw him on one of my trips to the barn where I board my donkey; a tiny black kitten with his left ear still healing from a TNR tip. The other barn cats bullied him, and he seemed starved for attention, so I wound up bringing him home. He was more than happy to turn in his barn cat card and has taken to indoor-only life like a duck to water! There was never a sweeter, funnier, snugglier cat. I guess some cats just aren’t cut out to be barn cats. Hitchcock is definitely

Leroy Jethro Gibbs

Jethro was a huge, gentle, loving Maine Coon cat. My teenaged daughter brought home a new boyfriend, David. He seemed nice. While we made lunch in the kitchen, he waited on the sofa. We returned with lunch just in time to see Jethro rearing up on the sofa behind David's head boxing his ears. THWACK, THWACK!

After getting over the shock, I picked up the item David dropped during his assault. It was MY wallet! Jethro caught him stealing from my purse and came to the rescue! We never saw David again. Jethro lived another 14 years. —Roberta Kerr

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

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Try these cat facts to get the conversation flowing!

Cats Don’t Get Cavities

Due to the pointed shape of their teeth, cats don’t get cavities like people do. But that doesn’t mean they don’t get dental disease. The Cornell University Feline Health Center found that 50 to 90 percent of cats older than four years of age suffer from dental disease. Common dental issues in cats include gingivitis, periodontal disease, and tooth resorption. A yearly check-up is recommended, as most cats do not show obvious symptoms of dental disease, but the consequences are serious.

Your Cat Can See 8x Better Than You in the Dark

Cats can see very well in the dark. This is due to the fact that they have more rods, a.k.a. darkspecializing cells, as well as the reflective tapetum at the back of their eye. Together, this allows cats to see in eight times dimmer light than humans can.

A Cat’s Dewclaws Serve a Purpose

That tiny claw on the inner wrist of your cat? Your cat needs it. Cats use dewclaws to help them grip. Though not opposable, the dewclaw functions much like the human thumb. Cats use the dewclaw to hold onto prey or grip when climbing. Dewclaws on cats are rarely problematic, but they usually need to be trimmed regularly to prevent growing inward. Like all other cat claws, they serve a purpose your cat would miss, so they should not be removed.

Egyptian Cat Love

Ancient Egyptians would shave off their eyebrows when their cats died. Herodotus wrote in 440BC that when a pet cat died in Ancient Egyptian times, the family members would shave off their eyebrows in mourning, reports Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Cat Whiskers Are Super Sensitive

A cat’s whiskers are as sensitive as human fingertips and are an essential part of how cats navigate their world. Cat whiskers are thicker than regular fur and rooted three times deeper. Most cats have 12 whiskers arranged in four rows on each cheek, although the number of whiskers varies by breed. This purposeful placement provides essential sensory feedback that helps your cat in everything they do.

Cats Are Near-Sighted

Cats can’t focus on anything less than one foot in front of them. Cats are nearsighted due to their large eye size and forward eye placement. Luckily, their sensitive whiskers help them compensate. Cats can swing their whiskers forward and use them to feel in front of them.

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