The Catvocate™ blog

The latest scientific and veterinary feline research to educate cat lovers on how we can best take care of our feline friends. Written by Dr. Liz Bales, VMD.

 

 

 

The multi-cat household can be challenging.  How do you create harmony for all of your beloved cats?  Veterinary behavioral science is in hot pursuit of the answer.  We know that adding environmental enrichment, and multiple and separate resources is the key to happiness in the multicat household.  And cat lovers everywhere want to know more!  A fantastic new study has just come out discussing the impact of adding vertical space to cats’ living space.  


Dr. Sara Ellis, feline behavior specialist with iCatCare does a thorough review of the study here.

https://icatcare.org/icatcare-talks-science-does-shelving-provide-environmental-enrichment-indoor-group-housed-cats


In summary, having places to climb improved relationships between cats, except at mealtimes.  For these cats, meals were fed in bowls.


Dr. Ellis reports “The study has highlighted that arousal may be high around feeding time in cats fed twice a day, leading to increased agonistic interactions. This finding has especially important implications for multi-cat households, and highlights the importance of a cat’s feeding regimen on their behaviour and welfare. Cats are naturally solitary hunters, just like their wild ancestor. Since they hunt alone, their prey are generally small in size, such as small rodents. The average mouse only contains about 30 kilocalories, meaning cats must hunt, kill and eat around ten mice a day in order to meet their daily energy and nutrient requirements. Therefore, cats have adapted to eat multiple small meals over the course of a 24-hour period; this includes eating during the night, when their nocturnal prey are active. Thus feeding cats just twice a day, and out of a bowl which requires no expression of hunting behaviours to acquire their food, may be causing frustration and boredom. In order to mimic the cat’s natural feeding habit of eating little and often, owners should divide their cats’ daily food ration into several portions (iCatCare recommends a minimum of five), which should be fed throughout the 24-hour period. Feeding during the night can be achieved by using puzzle feeders. Puzzle feeders are objects that hold food and must be manipulated in different ways to release this food. These can be filled and left for cats overnight, as well as during the day if the owner is away at work. Puzzle feeders also encourage mental and physical stimulation of cats during feeding, and allow them to express some of their natural hunting behaviour.”


Like all of us, cats need to feel safe in their homes. To best understand what makes a cat feel safe, we look at the life of a cats in nature. In the wild, may cats prefer to live in familiar social groups, but they hunt and eat alone.  When cats feel threatened by another cat, a predator, or other threat, they climb and hide to avoid these perceived dangers.  Fighting is the last resort when all other avoidance techniques have failed.  

Having a safe place to climb and hide is integral to a cat’s well being. Cats like to go vertical.  Height gives cats the ability to survey the area for potential danger and makes them feel secure. If there is more than one cat in the home, there are some extra measures required to provide a safe space. Cats may use the physical space to assert status. As I said, cats prefer hiding and avoidance to conflict.  Conflict between cats intensifies around food, water, litter boxes, and cherished resting places.  And mealtime from a bowl in a multicat household, as highlighted in this study, is a major source of conflict.

Understanding the way that our cats see their world and how they feel safe in it, is the first step to successful cat ownership.  With a few simple additions to our homes, we can create a world where our cat’s natural instincts are met.  


For more information on feeding the multicat household, click here https://nobowlcat.com/pages/multicat-households

We have a very exciting announcement!  The NoBowl Feeding System is helping cats around the globe live healthier happier lives, but we want to do more.  We are partnering with Winn Feline Foundation, to help advance feline research.  Simply use the coupon code CATSWINN at checkout and we will donate 10% of your purchase to Winn Feline Foundation to help cats everywhere. Read More

Well, I have some bad news for you.  Being woken up from a sound sleep in the night or early morning hours by a hungry, nudgy and active cat is less than desirable for a human.  Unfortunately, this undesirable behavior is purrrfectly normal for a cat.  I will tell you why and explain to you what you can do about it.

Let’s start with normal cat behavior.  If your cat lived outdoors, it would need to catch somewhere between 8-13 mice or birds a day to stay fed.  To keep up with this need, your cat would hunt both during the day and night, with lots of recharging naps in between.  Many of your cat’s favorite meals would be most active and available during the night and the early morning hours. So, your clever cat is programed to be alert and in hunting mode at these times…which is precisely when you would like to be hard at work on your REM sleep!

To make matters worse, your schedule likely reinforces this.  Most of our cats have little to no stimulation during the day.  You are at work, the house is quiet, and your cat has nothing to do but sleep.  For your cat, the active day begins when you get home from work and your home springs to life.

So how can you use this knowledge of normal cat behavior to redirect your nudgy cat and get some sleep?!  You can solve this problem in two easy steps.

1-   Make night time hunting time!  Understanding that it is normal for cats to hunt overnight, and eat multiple small meals in the 24 hour period is all the info you need.  Give your cat the opportunity to hunt for their food overnight, instead of eating from a bowl all day!  The best way to do this is with The NoBowl Feeding System™.  Before you turn in for the night, measure your cat’s favorite dry food or treats, split them between the five NoBowls™ and hide them outside of the bedroom.  Now, your hungry cat can fulfill its natural instincts to hunt and eat overnight…and you can finally get some uninterrupted sleep.

2-   Don’t give in.  Your cat has been training you to wake up and amuse or feed him/her for some time now.  So, it might take a few days for your cat to learn this new way of life.  Stay strong! Don’t give in!  Pull the covers over your head and ride it out.  In a few days, your cat will learn that it is way more fun to hunt and eat NoBowls™ than it is to wake up his/her cranky, sleepy human.

Good night!  Sleep tight!

https://nobowlcat.com/collections/shop

 

Here’s something alarming that few cat owners know.  More than half of the cats in America are overweight. And that number has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

Alright America….this is a wake-up call.  While a chubby kitty is adorable, that chub is making them sick.  Overweight cats face a lot of expensive and uncomfortable health struggles including..

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • urinary disease.  

And sadly, overweight cats live shorter lives than cats of a healthy weight.

How we feed our cats is just as important as what we feed our cats.  The way we are doing it now is not working. We have got to change the way we feed our cats to prevent feline obesity.

Here are 7 steps to keep your cat at a healthy weight.  

1 - Know your cat’s weight and what is a healthy weight for your cat. Studies show only 10% of us can tell if our cat is overweight.  It might be time for a trip to the vet to get an objective opinion.

2- Monitor your cat’s weight every couple of months. You see your cat every day.   It is hard to see the changes. We need some facts here to keep things on track.  

3- Know how much food your cat should be eating.  Ask your vet or calculate this based on their weight.  Measure this out in food and treats and you don’t feed more than this in a 24 hour period.

4- Stop being a human automatic treat dispenser.  

The next time you think your cat is asking for extra food or treats, grab their favorite toy and have a play session instead.  Love them with some healthy exercise...not food.

5- Get rid of the all day buffet.

Cats are hunters.  In nature they hunt and eat lots of small prey.  They need activity and multiple small meals throughout the day and night.  Here’s something you probably don’t know.  A cat’s stomach is designed to be the size of a ping-pong ball, just the right size for a mouse.  Not a heaping bowl of food.  

Just putting down a big bowl is not serving your cat’s needs.  This way of feeding is a big part of the obesity problem.  

6 - Feed multiple small portions of food a day - Feed 5 small meals a day.  Remember that measured amount?  Cats are predators.  They are programmed to hunt for their food.  In fact, in nature they spend up to 80% of their waking hours seeking and hunting their food.  For a cat, mealtime is not just about getting food, it’s also the time that your cat needs to act out the hunt. This is their built in exercise.

 

If you are feeding wet food, break the day’s portion up into 5 small meals.  And to get your cat moving, forget about feeding in the same spot in the kitchen every day.  Take the wet food dishes and put them around the house...like up on a bookcase or windowsill.  Now your cat is getting small meals and hunting for them.  

7- To best serve your cat’s dry food meals, use a hunting system, where you split the dry food into 5 portions and hide them.  Your cat has to hunt out its portion of food and play with it to dispense the food before eating it.  

Giving your cat exercise and small portions of food a least 5 times a day is the optimal way to keep your cat happy and healthy.


http://vri.cz/docs/vetmed/61-6-295.pdf


http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/7/1940S.full


http://jarvm.com/articles/Vol3Iss2/LUND.pdf


http://petobesityprevention.org/food-calories-2/




 


So, the new year's finally upon us! We hope you enjoyed the holidays as much as we did, and we wish you the very best for 2017.

Now down to some business. That's right, I'm talking New Year's Resolutions. If you already have a list, that's great! But did you consider your cat?

Read on for 3 of our favorite New Year's resolutions that benefit both you and your cat.

1) Exercise More Often

Exercising more often is near the top of most people's list of resolutions. Exercise is great for our bodies, and we know it brings us a variety of benefits – our health improves, we have more energy, our mood lifts, we just FEEL HEALTHIER! The same goes for your cat. It's especially easy for indoor cats to become inactive and gain weight – and just as in humans – this can take a toll on their physical and mental health. The NoBowl Feeding System™ is a great way to make sure your cat gets the exercise he needs – while enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

2) Fight Boredom

When we're bored, we're less happy. The new year is a great opportunity to take up a fun new hobby, or spend more quality time with family and friends – you’re sure to feel better for it! Don’t overlook the fact that your cat can get bored, too. Just like you, they need ways to lead happier, more fulfilled lives. A boring environment can lead to problems such as anxiety, depression and destructive behaviors. The NoBowl Feeding System™ is a great way to enrich your cat's environment. You can also introduce items such as interactive toys, cat trees and tunnels … and don't forget to set aside some all-important playtime with your cat each day.

3) Eat Better

Most of us could benefit from eating better – but it can be tough to pass on our favorite treats and choose a healthy salad! We realize that our health is tied to eating better, and the new year is a great time to put some healthy eating habits in place. We all know that avoiding fatty, sugary and processed foods, and sticking to a healthy diet can prevent weight gain and health problems. And it's the same for our cats. Cats benefit from eating small, frequent, and healthy meals throughout the day, just like they would in nature. It is not natural for a cat to eat one or two large meals a day. If you're already using the NoBowl Feeding System™, you'll know the benefits include easier weight control and prevention of vomiting from gorging - "scarf and barf" - that can be a problem with bowl feeding.


Do you have a favorite New Year's resolution for cat parents we didn't mention? Let us know in the comments.

In the previous blogs, we reviewed the types of cat marking behavior as well as the four basic causes. Unfortunately, owners of house-soiling cats frequently abandon or give up their pets to shelters where many are un-adoptable and are eventually euthanized. However, there are several things that can be done to remedy cat marking behavior.

Guidelines developed by the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM) propose two universal suggestions for the management of all cases of house-soiling. The first one is optimizing the litter box/tray. Litter boxes should be provided in multiple, low-traffic areas so that each social group has an adequate number of toileting sites in different places. You should have more more litter boxes than you do cats, and they should all be in different locations within the house...not all grouped together in one location.  The litter box should be 1 ½ times the size of the cat from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail.  Additionally, the litter box should be scooped daily and completely replace the litter into a clean box once a week to help reduce the offending scent of the “other cat.”

The second strategy is fulfilling the "five pillars" of feline environmental for your cat. These include providing a safe place for your cats to climb and hide; providing multiple and separated resources such as food, water, toileting areas (again, yes, that’s important!), play areas and resting or sleeping areas; provide opportunity for play and predatory behavior; provide positive and predictable human-cat social interactions; and provide an environment that respects the importance of the cat's sense of smell. 

Additionally, because marking is often a sign of stress or anxiety, behavioral therapy can provide additional treatment help. Your veterinarian or an animal behavior expert can evaluate your cat’s behavior problem and help you develop a treatment plan.

In households where there are multiple cats determining who’s misbehaving may be a little tricky and you may need to do some investigating before you attempt to remedy any marking behavior. Isolating one cat at a time to see if the marking behavior stops while he’s in isolation may provide some answers. This process of elimination is not guaranteed, especially if the culprit’s behavior is stress-induced. In this case, isolation is only removing him from the source of stress and the inappropriate behavior may not occur.

Your veterinarian can provide you with specific treatment suggestions for each diagnostic category, take-home instructions for cat owners, and what steps practitioners can take if the frustrated client is considering euthanasia. House-soiling and spraying is a challenging and emotionally charged issue. Effectively managing this common behavioral problem can reinforce veterinarian-client-patient relationships and ultimately help reduce the number of cats who are abandoned, sent to shelters and euthanized.

 

Sources:

  1. http://www.catvets.com/public/PDFs/ClientBrochures/HouseSoiling-B&W.pdf

  2. http://www.catvets.com/guidelines/practice-guidelines/house-soiling

  3. http://jfm.sagepub.com/content/16/7/579.full.pdf+html

  4. http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/cats/tips/marking_territory.html

  5. http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/urine-marking-cats

https://indoorpet.osu.edu/cats/problemsolving/spraying-and-marking

Exciting news – as of Friday December 9th, The NoBowl Feeding System is launched in the UK with Pets at Home.

Pets at Home is the United Kingdom's largest pet supplies retailer, with a hugely popular online store, and more than 370 physical locations.  

The NoBowl Feeding System™ is available to buy now on their website. Check it out here: http://www.petsathome.com/shop/en/pets/nobowl-indoor-hunting-feeding-system-for-cats

We know the United Kingdom is a nation of cat lovers, and we're very proud to introduce The NoBowl Feeding System™ to our friends across the pond – just in time for Christmas! 

So, for all you UK cat lovers, here's a quick rundown of the top 5 reasons people are buying the NoBowl …

 

1) They are looking for a way to engage their cat while they're not at home

As much as we may prefer otherwise, we can't always stay at home with our cats! But when you're out of the house, your cat can easily become bored and anxious if there's a lack of stimulation. This can lead to all kinds of undesirable behaviors such as compulsive overeating or over-grooming, and destructive chewing or clawing around the house. The NoBowl Feeding System™ creates an environment where your cat's instinctual need to hunt is met. It's the perfect solution to keep your cat engaged and active throughout the day – even when you can't be there.  

 

2) Their cat "scarfs and barfs" at least once a week

"Scarf and barf" is when your cat eats too much too fast, and as a result, vomits undigested food. It's a messy and unpleasant problem, and results in wasted food and a cat that's still hungry. Your cat's stomach is made for small, frequent meals spaced out over the day. Bowl feeding can actually encourage cats to gorge on their food – leading to the dreaded "scarf and barf". The NoBowl Feeding System™ portions out your cat's food, preventing gorging and unnecessary vomiting. I think you'll agree – it's a much less icky alternative!  

 

3) Their veterinarian recommended Environmental Enrichment for their cat

What is Environmental Enrichment (EE), and why might your vet recommend it for your cat? Simply put, it's creating an indoor environment that meets your cat's instinctual needs. Why? Because mounting research by cat veterinarians and behavior experts shows a strong link between a sub-par living environment, and a long list of medical and behavioral problems in cats. The NoBowl Feeding System™ was designed with the principles of EE in mind. It helps alleviate stress and boredom - for a healthier, happier cat.  

 

4) Their cat wakes them up early looking for food

Does your cat wake you up early in the morning, while you're sound asleep and cozy in bed? Chances are they're hungry! In nature, cats hunt between 9 and 20 times daily. Their bodies have a drive to hunt and eat small meals at all hours of the day and night. A great way to make sure you get your beauty sleep is to support your cat's natural hunting instinct throughout the night. The NoBowl Feeding System™ is designed to make this simple – just hide a few NoBowls™ around your house before you go to bed. Your cat will be happy to hunt for food during nocturnal hours, leaving you to get a good night's sleep.

 

5) They’re looking for a way to feed in a portion-controlled way to maintain a healthy weight

It's all too easy to reward our cats with treats, and to pour out an overly generous portion of food. Most modern cats receive food with minimal effort. The truth is that pet owners may be killing their cats with kindness. The NoBowl Feeding System™ is the natural solution to a healthier, more energetic cat - in tune with their environment and free from lethargy and the problems associated with overweight and obese pets. When we give our cats the opportunity to fulfil their natural instincts, the benefits are immediate and wide-ranging.

 

So there you have it … the top 5 reasons people are choosing to lose the bowl, and adopt a NoBowl way of life. We hope you'll join us, and we look forward to hearing your success stories!  Please email me at liz@nobowlcat.com to share your story.

Seriously????  A snow globe?  Yep.  A snow globe can be dangerous to your cat.  I have to admit, this was new information for me too.  

The liquid in a snow globes have been found to contain Ethylene Glycol, better known as anti-freeze. You may be more familiar, as I was, with anti-freeze appearing as puddles of green liquid that leaks out of cars in parking lots (which this Catvocate insists get cleaned up quickly and safely when I see them around town.) 

Anti-freeze is sweet and tasty and deadly.  The course of this intoxication can be reversed if you see your cat ingest anti-freeze and you get them to your vet right away.  But, usually the ingestion happens without the pet parent’s knowledge.  The symptoms of this deadly intoxication can be a mystery if you don’t see your cat drink it.  First, your cat can appear nauseous, twitchy or wobbly on its feet.  If untreated, irreversible and fatal kidney failure is inevitable within 3 days.

So, if you are very attached to your snow globe collection, keep it in a safe place where your cat cannot knock one over and break it open.  If an accident should occur, keep your cat safe and clean it up right away.

And, help keep outdoor animals safe.  If you see that green liquid in a puddle in a parking lot, make sure it gets cleaned up!  Those outdoor cats (and dogs and other wildlife) will thank you.

 

While humans look forward to this time of year, it can be a tough season for our cats.  The holiday season brings lots of changes to our home environment.  Many of us decorate with exciting new things, cook different foods and have a flurry of visitors into our homes to celebrate our respective holidays.  All of these changes might be distressing to your cat, so what can you do to help?

Read More

Feeding the multicat household is difficult.  Cats in the same house may be eating different diets, eat at different rate, and get into fights around the feeding station.  What is a concerned cat parent to do?

To best understand this complex problem, we look to the natural feeding  behavior for cats and how that works in a group situation for our answer. Lucky for us, there is good scientific understanding about how cats act naturally.

Read More
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