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Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Feliway calms your cat

Sunday, October 22, 2017


Feliway is a copy of the pheromone that cats naturally rub around their environment to make them feel comfortable. It is odourless to us - but a potent calmer for cats.

Every time a cat rubs the side of its face against objects in the home, it leaves behind a pheromone to mark its territory. This pheromone helps them feel at home and happy.

Changes in and around your home can upset your cats and prevent them from following their normal routine of rubbing this pheromone around their area. They then feel less secure, and become stressed.

Activities such as redecorating, moving the furniture, having guests or tradesmen in, going to the cattery and moving home remove these natural pheromones from around the cat and cause stress.

Any change in your home organisation and schedule disturbs your cat, for example: a newborn baby, toddler or a new partner, a new work roster. Cats are very sensitive to routine and crave a stable environment.

A stressed cat may hide, scratch furniture, urinate outside the litter box, spray the curtains or become aggressive to other cats in the household.

Feliway helps maintain the scent that gives your cat a feeling of peace and calm, and reduces the stress that your cat is experiencing.

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.

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.

 

Dreading the vet visit???

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bringing your cat to the vet can be a stressful experience for you, your cat, the vet and the nurse.

 

Some cats yowl as soon as the car starts, others pee in the carrier every trip.

 

An upset cat is difficult for your vet to examine and stress skews some blood tests.

 

How do we make visits to the vet less stressful for all concerned?

 

Leave the carrier out permanently in your home.  Many cats will rest or hide in it or use it as a play thing, particularly if it has been about since they were kittens. Pop some treats in the carrier so that your cat associates it with a pleasant experience.

 

Apply Feliway spray to bedding in the carrier regularly and just before transport. Feliway contains a natural pheromone that relaxes cats.  Lining the carrier with a favourite person's clothing may also calm your cat.

 

Withhold food before travel to prevent travel sickness and consequent negative feelings about car rides.

 

Short practice rides followed by a good experience such as a favourite food help some cats to relax in the car.

 

Cover the carrier with a towel or blanket, or place one over the cat in the carrier so that she can hide if she needs to.

 

In the waiting room place the carrier up off the ground on a seat or bench and well away from other cats. If your cat is wide-eyed, trembling, or huddled at the back of the carrier ask the receptionist to put her in a spare quiet room.

 

Because cats hide illness and pain so well they need regular, scheduled visits to the vet to ferret out problems like arthritis, thyroid and kidney disease and liver and heart decline. Annual visits are adequate for cats less than 8 years old. Older cats need checks more often, especially if any problems have been identified.

 

Unfortunately, cats often don’t show us they’re sick until it’s almost too late.

 

Reducing the stress of vet visits means more frequent checkups and a longer, healthier, and more comfortable life for your feline friend.

 

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.

All in the family

Monday, February 10, 2014

Are the cats in your household stressed by each other? 

In their natural state cats live with their relatives - their mothers, siblings and offspring. But we expect them to live in close quarters with total strangers and then wonder why they mark indoors, have bladder problems and overgroom - all signs of stress.

You know your cats consider each other family if they sleep together and groom each other, paying particular attention to each other’s heads. When all the cats in your household think of each other as family stress levels are low. 

More often in multi-cat households each cat considers the other as just another tenant of the house and would rather not share dining, toilet and rest areas. When forced to share tension levels between the cats will rise and fall. Occasionally we see outright aggression between housemates. Sometimes the only sign is the occasional spray of urine up the curtain or recurrent cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).

Check out your cats’ sleeping arrangements. If they are sleeping separately and not grooming each other with complete ease then make sure you have multiple resources available so that each ‘family’ can eat, drink and toilet in private. If you have three cats who do not groom each other then you will need feeding and water bowls, and a litter tray in three separate areas.


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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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