What’s Up With My Kitten’s Weird Bedtime Behavior?

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Hannah's kitten goes nuts at bedtime, and she wants to know why. We have some answers in this week's post.

Photo by Freddie Marriage via Unsplash

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I’m really worried about my cat. His behavior when it comes to bed time is extremely strange. I have had my kitten for about a month now. I found him outside and he was skin and bones, so I decided to keep him. Louie is about 6 months old, my vet said. Every night it’s the same thing: he whines and paces around my room until I turn some sort of light source on and bites my arms and feet when I comfort him. This behavior, like I said earlier, is only at night. I don’t know if he is scared of the dark or has some sort of PTSD. But I’m worried.

~ Hannah

Thomas: Well, Hannah, we think what your kitten might need is some pre-bedtime play.

Bella: You see, cats are crepuscular–which means they’re most active at dawn and dusk–and this is especially true of kittens.

Tara: And the best way to resolve bedtime behavior problems is to help your kitten “get his ya-yas out,” so to speak.

Thomas: Bella’s five years old, and she still gets the ya-yas at dawn and dusk. Sometimes I wonder if she’ll ever grow out of it.

Bella: Thomas! That’s not nice! I can’t help it if I’m a naturally high-energy cat. Besides, you chase Tara, and that’s not nice, either.

Tara: Yeah, that’s not nice!

Thomas: Oh, Tara, I just want to be your friend. I’ll try harder to stop chasing you.

Tara: I know, Thomas. It’s just that I need a slow approach.

Bella: Anyway, Hannah. A kitten that does biting and scratching behavior is definitely one who needs some positive re-training. And we think that if you give him a good play session before bed, he’ll go to sleep and do so without biting you.

Thomas: Now, you’d think that playing with a cat would be an easy thing to do, but there are some proper ways to play.

Bella: First of all, never use your hands and feet as toys. We don’t think you’re doing that on purpose; we just think your kitten’s got so much energy that he’s biting at whatever is moving.

Tara: So the first thing you’ll need to do is get a couple of “thing on a string” toys. Our favorites include Da Bird and Neko Flies, but any good, lightweight string toy will do.

Neko Flies are great toys, especially for high-energy cats and kittens.

This is the Neko Flies “Kittenator” toy. It’s super-fun! Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

Thomas: Now, how do you play with a cat? It’s a bit more complicated than flinging the toy everywhere.

Bella: You have to make the toy act like prey. Jiggle it around on the floor, make it run when it “sees” your kitten coming in for the pounce.

Tara: And let your kitten catch the toy and “kill” it with all his might.

Thomas: Make him run and jump as you move the toy like a mouse or a bird. Get him panting and worn out!

Bella: Then give him a little bit of food.

Tara: Playing and then a bit of food allows your kitten to exercise his prey drive in the natural “hunt, kill, eat, sleep” pattern. Since you’ve given him hunt, kill, and eat, he should go to sleep shortly after that.

Thomas: So, Hannah, if you give your little guy a good, tiring play session just before bedtime, followed by a little snack, he should calm down and go to sleep for you.

Bella: But keep in mind that the snack shouldn’t be extra food. Take the snack out of his usual daily ration in order to keep his weight at a good level. So, let’s say you feed him half a cup of dry food a day. Take some of the kibbles out of his evening meal and save them for after the play session.

Tara: Likewise, if you feed one can of wet food a day, leave a spoonful in the can for his after-play treat.

Thomas: By letting your kitten exercise his natural hunting and playing behavior, you should be able to resolve his behavior issues.

Bella: What about you other readers? Have you had a cat that whined and cried at bedtime, and then bit you while you were going to sleep? What did you do to solve the problem?

Tara: Please share your thoughts in the comments!

The post What’s Up With My Kitten’s Weird Bedtime Behavior? appeared first on Cat Advice | Paws and Effect.

Why Is My Sister’s Blind Cat Suddenly Getting Beaten Up?

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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My sister’s cats are about 11 years old. One cat, Dusty, has suddenly become blind. She is adjusting well to her new condition. But sometimes she walks into doors, furniture, etc. Occasionally she will bump into her sister, BB. BB gets very upset and growls and hisses at her poor blind sister. Why is she suddenly hissing and fighting with her blind sister? She never had a problem with her in the past.

~ Cathy

Thomas: Well, Cathy, there are probably a couple of things going on here. The first of these is that Dusty is still getting used to being blind. That’s why she’s still walking into things–including her sister.

Bella: Before we get started with our explanation, we want to make sure that your sister has taken her blind cat to the vet to find out what’s going on.

Tara: The most common causes of blindness in cats are high blood pressure and glaucoma. High blood pressure can be secondary to kidney disease, so we’d definitely recommend a vet check if Dusty hasn’t had one yet.

Thomas: Now, back to the meat of your question. Will the growling and hissing ever stop?

Bella: We think the answer is yes. And here’s why.

Tara: First of all, Dusty has lost the ability to interpret the visual cues cats usually give each other.

Thomas: Most inter-cat communication is done in the form of body language. A blind cat doesn’t have that reference point anymore. That means Dusty and her sister are going to have to get used to communicating in other ways.

Bella: And BB understandably gets grumpy when Dusty bumps into her. That’s why she’s hissing and growling, not because she suddenly hates Dusty.

Tara: You see, BB now has to get used to living with a blind cat, something she’s never had to deal with before.

Thomas: Dusty and BB are both going to have to adapt to Dusty’s disability. We suspect that with time and patience, this will happen.

Bella: I like to think that if Thomas went blind, I wouldn’t growl and hiss at him if he bumped into me, but it’s hard to say!

Tara: I might like it because Thomas wouldn’t chase me around anymore.

Thomas: Tara, that’s mean! I just want to be your friend! You don’t have to wish me blind. *sniffle*

Bella: There, there, Thomas, it’s all right. I’m sure Tara wasn’t wishing blindness on you.

Tara: Anyway, Cathy, don’t despair for Dusty and BB’s relationship. Once they figure out a new way to communicate, we bet they’ll be friends again.

Thomas: Meanwhile, you can decrease the stress level in your home by investing in some pheromone diffusers. These are marketed under the brand name Feliway or Comfort Zone. You can get them at pet stores and vets’ offices, as well as online.

Bella: Although they’re sold as a remedy for inappropriate urination, the way they do that is by decreasing cats’ stress levels.

Tara: And when their stress levels go down, we suspect that Dusty and BB will gradually become good friends again.

Thomas: As time goes on, Dusty will learn to navigate her surroundings using her hearing, sense of smell, and her whiskers.

Bella: Did you know, cats’ whiskers are so sensitive they can detect even tiny changes in air currents? The whiskers are a very important part of Dusty’s “radar,” and she’ll eventually learn to use all those other senses to navigate around your sister’s home…

Tara: …and around BB as well!

Thomas: If you ever want to read a lovely story about a blind cat, we strongly recommend Homer’s Odyssey by Gwen Cooper. It’s a great story about an incredibly smart, brave, and wise kitty who just happens to be blind.

Bella: Do any of you other readers live with a blind cat and a sighted cat? What other tips do you have for Cathy and her sister? Please share them in the comments!

The post Why Is My Sister’s Blind Cat Suddenly Getting Beaten Up? appeared first on Cat Advice | Paws and Effect.

How Do I Know When My Cat Will Give Birth?

http://paws-and-effect.com/cat-give-birth-signs-labor-delivery/

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What are some of the signs that a cat is getting ready to give birth? Get our answers in this post!

There are signs to look for as a cat gets closer to giving birth. Photo CC-BY-NC-ND Kami Jo

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

There is a colony of feral cats near where I live. We put food out to try and help hem. They will all come and eat but won’t stay or be petted. I think they prefer their life outdoors. One fairly young female became more friendly in the last couple of weeks and decided to come in the house. It turns out she is pregnant. She is really rather large. Her nipples don’t appear swollen and aren’t dropping milk but she is very round and we can see kittens moving. We have set her up a box and bed and tray and food and water in our downstairs bathroom and she likes to stay in there. We closed off the doorway with a child gate and she makes no attempt to get out. She purrs all the time and always wants love. She head rubs us and meows too. I have no idea how pregnant she is and whether I should let her out to do her thing. I feel like I should keep her and the babies in until they are old enough to be spayed/neutered. Any idea how to tell when she will give birth? We already have several rescued cats from the colony all fixed, but the local centers wont take the cat and babies without putting them down. I don’t want that! Help!

~ Kat

Thomas: Thank you so much for taking in this mama cat and wanting to care for her kittens until they’re old enough to find homes of their own. That’s a wonderful thing you’re doing!

Bella: Now, it sounds like what you’ve got there isn’t a truly feral cat. Maybe she was kicked out of her house before she was spayed, or maybe she was kicked out because she was pregnant. You’ll never know for sure how she got there and ended up in a feral cat colony, but it sure sounds like she’s been around people before!

Tara: The average cat pregnancy lasts between 60 and 65 days, or about nine weeks. From your description, it sounds like she may be about seven to eight weeks into her pregnancy.

Thomas: At seven weeks, a mama cat is getting quite round, and at week eight, it’s easy to feel the kittens inside her.

Bella: Another thing you’ll notice at the seven-week stage is that your mama cat will have a huge appetite! She’s eating everything she can in order to build up stores of nutrition for nursing her kittens.

Tara: Start giving her kitten food if you’re not doing so already. Kitten food has a lot more calories and nutrition and will help her get ready to feed her babies.

Thomas: During the eighth week of pregnancy, your cat will go into “nesting mode,” looking for a safe space to give birth to her babies. If you haven’t already done so, provide her with a “kittening box.”

Bella: A kittening box can be as simple as a cardboard box lined with towels. Basically, you’re making a place where mama feels safe delivering her kittens and the kittens are safe when she goes off to eat or use the litter box.

Tara: About a week before your cat gives birth, her nipples will enlarge noticeably and may begin dripping milk. Although the milk-dripping thing doesn’t always happen!

Thomas: She’ll also start grooming herself a lot, and some of the hair on her belly might fall out in preparation for nursing.

Bella: Her appetite may go down a bit, or she may take to eating small amounts frequently, since the kittens are pressing on her stomach and other organs.

Tara: Your cat will stop eating a day or two before she goes into labor. This is totally natural, so don’t worry about it. You may also see some slight discharge, possibly a bit reddish, from her vulva. As long as it doesn’t smell bad or look like pus, it should be fine.

Thomas: As the blessed moment arrives, your cat will start seriously nesting and will probably spend most of her time in the kittening box you’ve given her.

Bella: As labor becomes imminent, your cat will start licking her genitals, and may even make some anxious noises. The first kitten should be born about an hour after labor begins. Subsequent kittens should come every 15 to 20 minutes thereafter, until she’s done giving birth. When each kitten is born, she’ll lick it clean and eat the placenta.

Tara: Yes, it’s kind of gross, but it’s very important to let her eat the placentas. They’ll give her the nutrition she needs to continue her birthing. The placentas also contain hormones that help keep the labor process going.

Thomas: About 99.999999 percent of the time, everything goes smoothly during feline labor and delivery. But there are a couple of signs to watch out for. First, if you’re sure there are more kittens inside her and she goes more than an hour without delivering–especially if she starts acting more anxious–then you need to get her to a vet. There may be a kitten stuck in the birth canal.

Bella: Kittens need to stay with their mama for at least eight weeks in order to be fully weaned, but 12 weeks is better. This will also give you a chance to socialize mama and kittens and help them to be nice and adoptable.

Tara: You can have mama cat spayed at about 8 to 10 weeks after she gives birth. In fact, as soon as the kittens are born, we’d recommend making an appointment to get her spayed about eight weeks from that day, because cats can go into heat again pretty quickly once their kittens are weaned.

Thomas: The bottom line: Don’t let her outside while she’s pregnant. She’ll find a nest somewhere, and it may not be as safe as your bathroom. Kittens born outdoors can easily get fleas and other parasites, which could actually kill them.

Bella: Then get her spayed once the kittens are weaned. See if you can work with a trap-neuter-return group or a local shelter to foster and spay/neuter the kittens. They may also be able to find homes for the kittens so they don’t have to grow up as ferals.

Tara: So, how close is your cat to giving birth? We’d say she’s probably a week or two out.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Do you have other tips to help Kat get ready for her cat to give birth? Please share them in the comments!

The post How Do I Know When My Cat Will Give Birth? appeared first on Cat Advice | Paws and Effect.