Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
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(Parking via Gillott Street)
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Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Cousin, sibling or enemy?

Thursday, December 13, 2018
                   

Today Annie allowed young Jack onto her bed while she was in it. They are not quite touching, although Jack has taken possession of Annie's tail. Annie regards him as a bit of a pest but about the equivalent of a cousin.

If she accepted him as a little brother she would allow him to cuddle up much closer and maybe even groom him. Perhaps it'll come to that over the next few weeks - or perhaps not.... After all they've only known each other for 10 days.

She plays with him but spends most of the day watching he doesn't come any closer. He is tolerated.

At home my daughter's tabby, Isabella, affectionately known as Fizzy Izzy by her staff, regards him with open hostility. He cowers when he sees her and she thinks nothing of giving him a good swipe to keep him in his place. It'll be many months, if ever, before she tolerates him in the same room.

We hope that Isabella won't show signs of anxiety. In the past she has over-groomed and urinated on the curtains when she has been unhappy. If she does we will plug in a Feliway diffuser or put some Zylkene natural calming supplement in her food.


The sense of smell

Saturday, October 28, 2017

The lining of cats’ noses has a large surface area for trapping smells. It’s 5 times as big as ours. They also have large olfactory bulbs, which are the part of the brain where smells are initially analysed. Cats are very sensitive to scent and can discriminate more scents than they are likely to meet in a lifetime. As a result we have to minimise the number of strong scents we present to our cats as they are easily overwhelmed by them.

Mice leave scent marks to let other mice know they are about. Cats locate the mice using these scent marks, especially at night when vision is less reliable. When the cat finds the mark the marking mouse is long gone so the cat waits patiently for the next mouse to come along and sniff the mark - then he pounces on the poor mouse

Cats use scent to mark their own territories, too. An anxious cat will urinate around the house to warn other cats off. Less threatened cats rub their faces onto objects leaving a pheromone behind. This makes them feel more comfortable and lets other cats know they are there. Feliway is an analogue of this pheromone and we recommend it for cats who are anxious or taking a while to settle in to a new environment.

Cats also have a sense that we lack. While we are not quite sure what they are sensing, we think that odours from other cats are dissolved in saliva and moved up two tubes in the roof of the mouth to the vomeronasal organ. When you see a cat pulling up its top lip in a funny way while apparently sniffing an object she’s probably sensing another cat has been there.

 

New Year's Eve terrors

Friday, December 30, 2016

 

New Year's Eve is a time of anxiety for many cats. Flashing lights, crashing and clapping fireworks send them into the cupboard or over the fence. With just a few practical changes at home around the time of fireworks, your cat should feel much more calm and relaxed. Here are 10 top tips to ensure your cat's New Year's Eve doesn't go off with a bang:

  1. If your cat hides on top of cupboards or under furniture, leave him alone and do not try to coax him out. This 'bolthole' is where he will feel most secure. It is important that your pet can access his favourite bolthole at all times
  2. On New Year's Eve, make sure your cat is safely inside and the doors, windows and cat flaps are closed.
  3. Plug a Feliway diffuser in the room where the cat spends most of his time 48 hours before the festivities begin.
  4. Make sure your cat is microchipped so that if he escapes he can be easily identified and returned to you.
  5. Provide your cat with a litter tray
  6. Draw the curtains to reduce noise from outside and play music or have the TV on to mask the noise of fireworks
  7. Ignore any fearful behaviour and do not try to comfort your cat. More importantly, do not try to pick him up or restrain him. Fearful cats prefer to be left to cope on their own.
  8. Try not to go out during the fireworks. . Stay calm and act normally
  9. In multi-cat households intercat tensions may rise. Feliway and multiple hiding places will help avoid disharmony
  10. If you are worried that your cat is taking a long time to recover from the festivities call us.

Are your cats friends or foes?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Urine marking

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

This cat is marking his or her territory. A cat squatting to urinate outside the litter box is more likely to have a medical problem like a bladder infection but could also be stressed. As Dr Helen told us last Thursday night at our indoor cat night, urine marking is normal behaviour in cats, particularly if they are anxious about other cats in their environment. To avoid increasing our own stress levels it is vital to reduce this anxiety as much as possible.

Household cats must have their own separate resources ie their own food and water bowls, and litter trays. These should be in quiet, non-trafficked areas.

Ensure that your cat cannot see or smell other cats in your yard. Even if your cat doesn't venture out he or she will be stressed by seeing other cats out of the window. One of our clients came up with the idea of these attractive decals - the light can get in but their cat cannot see out.

 

Every cat is an individual and trying to work out what is stressing him or her can take some detective work. Dr Helen and Dr Georgia at Canberra Cat Vet are available to help you through the maze. In the meantime more information on urine spraying is available at iCatcare.

Feline body language - fear and anxiety

Friday, November 04, 2016

Peeing blood

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Finding blood in the litter tray or, worse still, on the carpet is guaranteed to trigger concern. A cat running back to the litter tray every 5 minutes and sitting with a concentrated look on the face is also a major worry.

In a young male or desexed male it is an emergency as he may have a blocked or semi-blocked urethra and be unable to pass urine. The bladder rapidly fills and the cat can become toxic in a matter of hours.

The main cause of blood in the urine is stress and the resulting pain from an inflamed bladder. Stress or anxiety cause the inflammation which is painful, causing more stress... and the vicious circle goes on. Common causes of stress are moving house, new people or pets in the household, tradies or visitors in the house, conflict between household cats, or any change in routine.

In older cats, especially those with kidney disease, diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, a urinary tract infection is more likely. Occasionally bladder stones cause blood in the urine.

After a chat with you and a physical examination of your cat, your vet will take a urine sample to sort out what is the most likely cause of the problem.

 

Help! My cat is urinating indoors

Friday, June 27, 2014

Marking or toileting?

Spraying small amounts of urine against vertical objects such as chairs or walls is a territorial marking behaviour. Entire male cats are the most likely to spray. 

Male and female cats urinate in a squatting position leaving a greater volume of liquid.
Medical problems such as cystitis, diabetes, kidney disease and obesity exacerbate abnormal toileting behaviour. 

Why do cats spray or mark?

Anxiety and stress are the most common causes of spraying. Cats are creatures of habit and like to have their own space and toys. Even though they are willing to share a house and bed with you they need places and things of their own to be happy. If they think that something that belongs to them is being taken over by someone else they feel threatened. They have to let everyone know that it is theirs. The natural way to stake their claim is to mark it with the facial scent glands or urine. This is like writing their name on their things. Putting urine or facial scent on a thing or place makes a cat feel secure, especially if they feel out of place, nervous or afraid.

What makes cats anxious?

• A new cat or kitten. Introduce a new pet into the household gradually. Let them get used to each other through a screen or glass door. Exchange their bedding and let them sniff and sleep on it. Remember to reassure and cuddle the established pet as well as the cute new one.

• A new baby. Let your cat hear the sounds and sniff the clothes of a new family member from a safe, private place. Give the cat lots of attention.

Changes in furniture or carpets and disruptions such as building or painting. Lock your cat in a room well away from tradesmen and the strange sounds and smells associated with their work.

• A strange cat wandering in the garden or even through the cat flap.

• The loss of a human or animal companion. Strongly bonded cats will need extra care and attention if mourning a friend who has moved or passed away.

Incompatible cats, especially if a lot of cats live together. Determine which cats do not get along and keep them in separate parts of the home with their own litter and sleeping areas.

Stress.

Enriching a cat’s environment minimises stress

Cat scratching posts, toys that mimic prey, tunnels, outside runs and a variety of high spots and hideouts will keep your cat happy and stimulated. Vertical space is often more important than horizontal space. Some cats appreciate an indoor garden sown with grass, cat nip and cat mint. Find several toys they like and rotate them regularly. Your company is important. Even an old cat will appreciate a game with a ribbon on a stick or a glittery ball. Make your cat work for food by hiding it in various locations around the house or in food puzzles such as plastic containers with holes cut in the sides. 

Routine is important for some cats. Ten minutes each day play and grooming your cat to provide regular predictable attention that helps reduce their anxiety. Feed them at a set time.

What if I can’t identify or remove the source of the anxiety?

If you cannot identify or remove the source of the anxiety then provide your cat with a safe haven. A room where your cat can safely retreat or relax without fear of disturbance is ideal. A small, enclosed and elevated space lined with your worn clothes is also good. Most cats will mark a limited space with facial rubbing and bunting only.

Clean urine marked areas with a special enzymatic cleaner like Urine Off, available at Canberra Cat Vet, that eliminates the scent. If your cat can smell urine he will mark it again. You may have to lock him out of the room for a while to help him forget it.

Protect a habitual spraying site by placing dry food or a bed at the base. Cats are usually reluctant to spray their own key resources. Food and beds are also reassuring and may reduce anxiety. However, a stressed cat may move to other areas and mark there instead.

A natural pheromone spray called Feliway calms some cats and reduces the urge to spray and mark. Spray it on previously marked areas or plug a Feliway diffuser in or near the area he most marks.

You might find useful more hints on The Litterbox Guru

Never punish cats. If caught in the act they can be picked up and placed on the litter tray, stroked and calmed. Never ‘rub the cat’s nose in it’ as this will make a nervous cat even more likely to toilet indoors.

Cats with anxiety related behaviours like spraying often need evaluation for anti-anxiety medications in addition to the above changes to resolve the problem. Call us on 6251 1444 for a behaviour consultation if you cannot sort it out.


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A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

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