Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Ouch - Why did you bite me?

I am pretty sure most cat owners have been bitten from time to time.  If biting is happening regularly though, it’s not good.  This post will give you 7 tips to help you discover why the cat is biting and how you can train away this behaviour.

The first thing to ask yourself is;


You can’t really address this problem until you understand why your cat is biting you.  There are many reasons but common ones include; getting over-excited whilst playing, boredom or frustration, maybe your cat is scared, or even ill.  Once you understand this, you can hatch a plan to get it under control.


If your cat is biting during play, he is probably getting over-excited and not meaning to hurt you at all.  Try to always play with toys and never use your hand as the toy.  Toys like feather sticks etc are great for this as your hand is kept at a safe distance.  You may get nipped accidentally from time to time but you are looking out for him actually going for your hand.


If your cat does bite you during play, and you can see that he did this on purpose then call a time out.  The best way to do this with a cat is to stop playing immediately.  Ignore him completely for at least 1 minute and then turn back and make friends.  You can continue this cycle multiple times and he will catch on, eventually!


If your cats is randomly biting outside of play, chances are he is bored or frustrated. After the initial bite, ignore him for at least one minute (as above) and then find a toy and play with him until he is worn out.  You should play with your cat every day anyway – it is a great way to bond as well as helping him exercise and use up some energy.  Some cats like specific toys more than others so try a selection of toys until you learn what he likes.  Sometimes cats will play as soon as you start waggling a toy – others need you to persevere for a bit longer!  With Melly Boy you need quite a lot of patience!


Transferred aggression means that your cat is stressed or anxious about something unrelated to you, but they are taking it out on you.  It could be a multitude of different thing; not being able to go out due to horrid weather, territory problems with another cat (Melly Boy had this problem for a while), changes to the home, work being carried out etc.  Try to find the source of the problem to eradicate it, if you can.  Where this is not possible you can try Feliway which is a plug in diffuser that secrets a synthetic pheromone.  This can be very effective with many cats.


Sometimes cats can bite when they are startled (this has happened with MellyBoy a few times as you’ll have seen from my other blogs).  Try not to reach over his body to pet him.  If he is a nervous cat as he may feel threatened by this.  For instance, with Melly Boy, I have to approach his face from the front/side with the back of my hand rather than going to the top of his head.  Then, when he relaxes I can stroke him anywhere (apart from his tummy!).

Also remember, cats don’t always want to be handled all of the time so learn to understand his body language and when he wants some time on his own, respect that.  This picture may help – Cats Body Language


There are two good reasons to speak to your vet in this situation.  The first is that the aggression could be caused by your cat being ill so it is important that your vet give him a full check-up.  Secondly, if there are no medical issues and the problem is persisting, your vet can sometimes prescribe special food or medication to calm your cats mood.

Cheeky Melly Boy - This bite isn't aggressive - he is asking for attention!

Friday, 18 March 2016

Cats Living Together

Melly Boy is an only child and as much as I would love to have lots of cats, I understand his needs and I just don’t think he would cope with a feline friend.  He is king of the castle and I know he would not welcome a newcomer trying to take attention away from him.

Another one of our volunteers has 6 cats who all cohabit the same house quite peacefully.
At Cats Protection, we are often asked to help rehome cats when a new cat is introduced to a household and it doesn’t work out.

There are hints to why this can be a problem, when you look at our cats ancestry.  Our domestic cats share ancestry with African Wildcats, which can still be found in North Africa today, and these wild cats are solitary.  African Wildcats are very territorial and protect their area to ensure that they have enough food and resources.

So, our domestic moggies can have similar behaviour, however, in some cases they can live very well together.  These cases tend to be where the cats perceive themselves to be in the same social group, and where there are sufficient resources to avoid competition.

So, if you have a cat or cats, and want to introduce a new cat to the family – what do you do?

Firstly, I would think long and hard about this.  Just because cats have lived together before, doesn’t mean that they will do it again but it can work and handling the introduction of a new cat in a managed way can mean the difference between success and failure.  Cats Protection have produced an Essential Guide which will help talk you through the process of introduction as well as give you some great advice on how to spot trouble, and deal with it quickly and efficiently.
King of the Castle AKA Melly Boy

Friday, 4 March 2016

Introduction to Victoria

In August 2015, we welcomed a new committee member to our team.  Here is a little introduction from Victoria, our new treasurer. 

In October 2014, following obtaining my ACA qualification, I decided to take a break from the world of finance.  I have always loved animals but sadly was never allowed any growing up, so this was the perfect opportunity for me to fill my time doing something I loved.  I heard about cat fostering online and it sounded perfect.  I could help cats in need, while fulfilling my own dream of having an animal in my home.  I met with Chris, the branch co-ordinator, one morning and by the afternoon I was set up with a room full of supplies, just waiting for that phone call.

My first foster cats were Danny and Arnold, two eleven week old kittens.  They were two frightened little balls of fur at first, but before long they came out of their shell and were bouncing around the flat.  I enjoyed the experience immensely, and I also learned a lot.  We had the kittens for six weeks before a lovely family took them into their forever home.  It was sad to see them go, but I felt proud that I had provided a shelter when they needed it.

My second foster cat was Joseph.  I had been warned beforehand that it may end up being quite a long term foster as Joseph was an older cat, and a cat flu carrier.  Well as it turned out, my partner and I fell in love with him, and when after two months he had not had any interest, we took the decision to adopt him ourselves.  

While we were over the moon to have Joseph in our lives permanently, it did mean I had to stop fostering as we just didn’t have the room.  I was very keen to continue helping out in any way I could, particularly with the finance side of the charity, and soon I was in discussions with the Cats Protection Camberley team about me taking over as Treasurer for the branch.  I am very proud to have been given this role, and I look forward to many more years of helping cats, both directly and indirectly.

As well as Cats Protection, I also volunteer for a dog rescue called Rescue Remedies.  My main role is as a dog walker, which I try to do a few times a week, but I also take dogs out of kennels for a day or a few days break.   The dogs really respond to time away from the kennels and it is lovely to see them in a more relaxed environment.  Once we have a house and we have more room, and with Joseph’s permission of course, we are hoping to give a home to a lovely doggie too.
Victoria with handsome Joseph