Cat Talk- what the meow means

When Your Cat’s Meowing May Be a Red Flag in Disguise

 

By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker

A very common question many pet parents have is, “Why does my cat meow constantly? Is he sick, or is he just trying to drive me nuts?” Even if the crying isn’t constant, it can be frequent enough to be of concern, and sometimes it’s just plain annoying. Just as some dogs bark more than others, some kitties tend to meow a lot (just ask anyone with a Siamese at home). If Mr. Whiskers is otherwise healthy and is meowing right at you, he probably wants something. And that something is usually food or attention.

Cats whose owners answer their meows tend to grow more meow-y over time, until the cat and his human are actually having lengthy conversations. And kitties who learn they get food if they meow will ramp up the behavior — especially around mealtime. Senior and geriatric cats also tend to vocalize more, especially at night.

8 Types of Cat Vocalizations

Cats meow to communicate with other cats as well as with humans, and they actually have a rather extensive range of vocalizations. You may know the difference between your cat’s dinnertime meow, for example, and the way she sounds if she’s frightened or annoyed. But many kitty sounds and intonations are more subtle and don’t fit a particular pattern, which can make them harder to interpret. Here’s a cheat sheet for decoding some common kitty chatter:1

Vocalization How It Sounds What It Means Translation
Meow The classic mee-yoww Usually just a shout-out to whoever is around “Hey there!”
Purr Similar to a low idling motor; made by contracting the muscles of the larynx A sign of contentment in most cats; rarely, a sign of anxiety or illness “Backrub feels great… don’t stop!”
Murmur, trill Soft rhythmic “thump” made on exhalation A request or greeting “Pet me?”
Growl, hiss, spit Low-pitched, severe, “I mean business” sound Kitty is feeling fearful, stressed, defensive or aggressive “Back off!”
Shriek or screech High-pitched, loud, harsh scream Kitty is either in pain or about to cause some “Ouch!”
“Don’t touch me!” “Get away from me!”
Chatter Teeth chattering; jaw vibrating Feline hunting sound; frustration from being unable to hunt visible prey “Let me at it… let me at it… let me at it!”
Howl or yowl Loud, drawn out calls Cognitive dysfunction in older cats; aggression; distress “Where are you?”
“Where am I?”
“Why am I yelling?”
Moan Long, low, throaty cry Prelude to vomiting, bringing up a hairball “Get here quick I’m about to make a mess!”

When to Worry About Your Cat’s Meowing

Since you know your pet better than anyone else, it’s up to you to learn his “normal” when it comes to vocalizations so you can immediately pick up on any change in the way he communicates.

Changes in your cat’s meow can signal an underlying medical condition, such as laryngeal disease, high blood pressure or hyperthyroidism. It can also mean he’s dealing with a painful and potentially life-threatening problem such as a urinary tract blockage, especially if he cries out while in his litterbox.

In older cats, increased meowing can be the result of cognitive dysfunction, which is essentially a form of dementia. If your senior or geriatric kitty also seems disoriented, he could be vocalizing due to stress or confusion.

When to Call the Vet

Generally speaking, almost any feline medical condition that results in physical or mental discomfort can cause your cat to vocalize more often or abnormally. If kitty is typically fairly quiet but suddenly gets talkative, or cries when she jumps onto or off of high surfaces, or when you’re holding or petting her, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.

This is especially true if you’ve noticed other changes, such as a decrease or increase in appetite or sleep patterns, eliminating outside the litterbox, a change in the way she walks or sits or rests, a lack of interest in grooming or a desire to hide away from the rest of the family. Also keep in mind that a normally talkative cat who suddenly grows quiet can also be cause for concern.

Panting in Cats — When Is It a Sign of Trouble?

Panting in Cats — When Is It a Sign of Trouble?

 

By Dr. Becker

Unlike dogs, kitties don’t naturally pant, so it can be disconcerting to see little Fluffy breathless, and rightfully so. In most cases, panting in a cat is a sign of an underlying health concern that requires attention. However, there are a few situations in which panting in cats is harmless and short lived. Some cats pant during or after exercise or to try to cool off. Young, energetic kittens might pant for a short time while playing.

Some kitties who live or spend time outdoors may pant to cool down in warm weather. In addition, a cat who’s enduring a stressful event, for example, a car ride or veterinary visit, might pant.

Outside of momentary episodes with an obvious cause, panting in cats indicates there’s an underlying problem involving either the respiratory tract or the heart. In older kitties who start panting, a potential cause is congestive heart failure. In younger cats, especially those who are also coughing, the more likely cause is a respiratory disorder such as feline asthma.

Congestive Heart Failure as a Cause of Panting in Kitties

When a cat’s heart can’t pump enough blood to the body, fluid backs up into the lungs, and congestive heart failure is the result. There are many causes of congestive heart failure in cats, but most often it results from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Thyroid disease, high blood pressure, birth defects and other conditions can also cause congestive heart failure.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) is by far the most common type of primary heart disease in kitties, accounting for 85 to 90 percent of all cases. The word “hypertrophic” means thickened, so this is a condition in which the walls and ventricles of the heart become too thick, or hypertrophied.

HCM is often inherited in cats. In fact, there’s a test available now for a specific gene mutation in Maine Coons and Ragdolls. Purebred cats such as the Persian, other oriental breeds and American shorthairs are also predisposed to develop the condition. However, it’s the regular house cat that is most commonly diagnosed with HCM. Cats usually develop the condition in midlife, but it can occur at any age.

Symptoms of feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy vary and depend to some extent on the severity of the disease. Cats with mild disease don’t necessarily have symptoms. But in a kitty with significant HCM, there are usually obvious signs.

As we know, kitties mask illness very well, so until this condition is severe, even a cat with significant disease may have no symptoms, or very mild symptoms that don’t seem to be indicative of heart disease. In cats with obvious symptoms, there can be respiratory distress caused by congestive heart failure, or leg paralysis due to a blood clot.

Cats suffering congestive heart failure don’t cough like people or dogs do. Instead, they tend to breathe through an open mouth, and sometimes they pant. You should watch for breathing difficulties during exertion. Some kitties with HCM and congestive heart failure have a hard time walking any distance without stopping to rest and recuperate.

Feline Asthma Can Also Cause Panting

Feline asthma, also called bronchial asthma, allergic bronchitis and chronic bronchitis, affects cats of all ages worldwide. Asthma is a condition in which there is recurring constriction of the airways to the lungs.

Excessive amounts of mucus form in the airways, which causes them to become inflamed and sometimes ulcerated. This situation leads to spasms of the muscles of the airways, which is what causes the constriction or narrowing. Kitties with asthma can’t draw a deep breath.

Symptoms to watch for include a dry hack, which often sounds like gagging or retching. In fact, it’s not unheard of for an asthmatic cat to be diagnosed with hairballs. Wheezing, which can sound like a high-pitched sigh or a whistle, is another classic symptom. Labored breathing and exercise intolerance are also signs.

Even if your cat has a dry cough as her only symptom, it’s not necessarily a measure of the severity of her asthma. Kitties can have really serious asthma but very few symptoms. Some cats have no symptoms at all, except they suddenly are unable to breathe. An acute asthma attack such as this can occur any time and obviously can be life-threatening for your cat.

Cats with serious asthma can also suffer obvious symptoms like panting or open-mouthed breathing. Brachycephalic cats with pushed in faces, such as Persians and Himalayans, are especially susceptible to breathing problems, including asthma. Sudden airway constriction can occur for no apparent reason. It can also result from an allergic reaction to inhaled triggers like grasses, pollens, ragweed, aerosol sprays, smoke, mildew, molds, dust mites, household chemicals — even kitty litter dust.

How to Tell If Your Cat’s Panting Is Cause for Concern

To determine if there’s a problem, it’s important to pay attention to how often your kitty pants. Obviously, panting that is continuous or recurs is cause for concern. Persistent panting, especially in a cat with other behavior changes such as lack of appetite or lethargy, means it’s time to call your veterinarian for an appointment.

The 3 Stages of Your Senior Cat’s Life, and What to Expect of Each

 

By Dr. Becker

By the time your cat reaches the age of 10, she’s officially a feline senior citizen. The good news is that many cats today are living into their late teens and even early 20s. With the proper care, a kitty in good health at 10 can easily live another 8, 10, or even 12 years.

So there’s no need to panic if your purr-y companion is getting older, but it IS time to start taking some steps to insure your pet stays as happy and healthy as possible throughout her senior and geriatric years.

But first, let’s take a look at how cats show signs of aging and what you can expect as your kitty gets older.

What to Expect at 10 to 12 Years

By the time most kitties turn 10, they have slowed down a little (or a lot, depending on how high-energy they were as youngsters). You might notice your cat isn’t jumping up on high surfaces as much anymore, or isn’t climbing to the uppermost spot on the cat tree.

And while all cats, regardless of age, do best with a consistent daily routine, older cats can become especially stressed when presented with anything new or different in their environment.

You might also notice your kitty doesn’t always run right out to greet you when you get home. He may not initiate play as often as he once did, and he may take more naps.  

Many cats also become more vocal as they age, and more fearful of strange or loud noises and unfamiliar people.

Older cats can also suffer from many of the same health challenges older humans face, including arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems, and kidney disease, so it’s really important to bring your cat for twice-yearly wellness visits with your veterinarian. The sooner a change in your kitty’s health is identified and addressed, the easier it will be to resolve or manage the problem.

At veterinary visits, be sure to mention any and all behavior changes you’ve noticed in your cat, no matter how minor, as these can provide important clues about health problems that may be brewing under the surface. It’s also important you and your vet keep regular tabs on your cat’s weight, to assure she isn’t gaining or shrinking over time.

What to Expect at 13 to 15 Years

From 13 to 15 years of age, not only are most cats moving quite a bit slower than they once did, many are also experiencing at least some loss of vision and hearing. They may also have less tolerance for cold temperatures.

Elderly cats can develop age-related dementia, making small changes in their environment or routine increasingly stressful. Some older kitties are also easily confused.

Along with more napping and less activity, your senior cat may grow a bit cranky and easily irritated. If your household includes young children or a rambunctious dog, everyone will need to learn to approach kitty in a quiet, non-aggressive manner. And if yours is a multi-pet household, it’s important not to allow your aging cat to be bullied by younger pets who may sense a change in the natural pecking order.

You may also notice that your cat prefers to spend more time alone these days. You can enhance his feelings of safety and security by making his favorite hideout a warm, comfy little spot he can retreat to whenever he likes. But keep in mind that senior cats still need to interact with their humans regularly, so set aside some time each day to spend with your pet. You can engage him in gentle play, an ear scratching session, or some brushing or combing.

As I mentioned earlier, your cat is now at the age where twice-yearly veterinary checkups are essential in order to safeguard his health. Your vet will perform a geriatric workup, including a physical exam and blood, urine, and stool sample tests. The results of these tests will provide a snapshot of how well your cat’s organs are functioning, and point to any potential problems.

Your vet will also check the condition of your kitty’s coat and skin, his footpads and nails, and his teeth and gums.

What to Expect at 16 Years and Older

If you’re lucky enough to share your life with a cat of 16 or more, first of all, congratulations! Either you’ve done a bang-up job raising your kitty to a ripe old age, or you’ve opened your heart to an elderly cat in need of a loving home in her final years. Regardless, you did good!

As a point of reference, you can reasonably compare your cat at 16 to an 80-year-old human. She’s moving and thinking more slowly these days, and she may have an assortment of age-related health challenges. She’s probably not as alert or responsive as she once was, and at times she may seem quite confused.

Even if she’s still in good health, chances are she’s sleeping and vocalizing more, and interacting with family members less. She may not be as perfectly groomed as she was in her younger years, and even the most well-mannered geriatric cat may occasionally forget to use her litter box.

As long as your cat is seeing the vet at least twice a year for checkups, and between visits you’re keeping an eye out for significant or sudden behavior or health changes, there’s no reason to be alarmed. Try not to hover, as your cat is still a cat and prefers attention on her own terms. Do make every effort to keep her comfortable, secure and relaxed by maintaining a consistent daily routine and providing her with a quiet, cozy hideaway equipped with comfy bedding and a familiar toy or two.

At your regular vet visits, you’ll want to mention any changes you’ve noticed in your pet, including increased or decreased appetite or water consumption, constipation or incontinence, aggressive behavior, or mental confusion. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for signs that your cat is in pain, which can include hiding, teeth grinding, panting, shortness of breath, loss of interest in food, or reluctance to move around.

10 Tips for Helping Your Senior Cat Sail Through Old Age

1.    Feed a balanced, antioxidant rich species-appropriate diet. Your kitty’s diet should include omega-3 essential fats, such as krill oil. Moisture is an aging cat’s best friend, so encourage adequate hydration by offering a variety of water bowls around the house or a drinking fountain, in addition to minimizing dry food. If your cat is addicted to terrible food, adding a whole body supplement, such as Feline Whole Body Support is a good idea.

2.    Keep your pet’s body and mind active with regular exercise appropriate for your cat’s age and physical condition, and mental stimulation (puzzles and treat-release toys can be beneficial). Think of creative ways to enrich your cat’s indoor environment and if your kitty never touches the earth’s surface directly (most housecats don’t), consider a grounding pad to help reduce the buildup of EMFs.

3.    Provide your kitty with a SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) supplement as a safe and effective way to stall or improve mental decline, improve mobility, as well as assist in liver detoxification. Consult your holistic veterinarian for the right dose size. Periodic detoxification with the herbs milk thistle and dandelion can also be very beneficial, as can providing super green foods in the form of fresh “cat grass” to nibble on. Chlorophyll, chlorella, or spirulina can also be offered in supplement form to enhance your cat’s detoxification processes.

4.    Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to be safe for cats and can improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older pets. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs and may also reduce hairball issues. I recommend 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for basic MCT support, if your cat will voluntarily eat it.

5.    For aging kitties who prowl the house all night and vocalize, consider low dose melatonin, which is not only a sedative with a calming effect, but also an antioxidant. I also use Rhodiola, chamomile, and l-theanine with good results.

6.    If your cat seems disoriented, consider limiting her access to certain parts of the house. Keep doors closed so she can’t wander into a closet or any place where she might be unable to get herself out.

7.    Set aside time each day to interact with your kitty. Make sure meals are provided on a consistent schedule, along with playtime and petting/lap time. If your cat tolerates being brushed or combed, work that into the daily schedule as well, to help her with grooming chores. Trimming hair around her perineal area reduces her grooming chores and is usually much appreciated by retired cats.

8.    If your cat has turned into a midnight prowler, if possible, try gently waking him up from naps during the day. The more active you can keep him during daylight hours, the more likely he’ll be to sleep on your schedule.

9.    Sometimes all a vocalizing cat needs to quiet down is to hear his owner’s voice, so try calling your kitty’s name when he starts to vocalize from another room or in the middle of the night. If that doesn’t do the trick and the nighttime crying is really a problem for you, consider earplugs. Flower essences and homeopathics (such as low potency Belladonna) may also reduce yowling.

10. If eliminating outside the litter box is an issue, try putting additional boxes around the house. Also insure it’s comfortable for your cat to get into and out of the box. Cats are very adept at hiding arthritis and other aches and pains, which can limit their ability to climb into high-sided boxes, or boxes kept in bathtubs or up a flight of stairs, for example.

As you can see taking care of a senior cat can be challenging but they are well worth it.  If you wonder if you are doing something incorrectly or need help knowing what may be bothering them please contact me, Diane Weinmann, animal communicator and holistic healer at dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com

 

The EYES have it!

by Joshua Corn

Is Your Dog or Cat’s Vision Deteriorating? Most Likely YES!

It’s often said that eyes are the window to the soul, and your pet’s eyes are certainly no exception.

Maintaining healthy vision is vital for the well-being of dogs and cats as they age. Our pets use their eyes to communicate with us, and to navigate the world around them.

Did you know that your pet relies on their eyes to communicate with you? That’s right, the results of a new study found that dogs especially rely on establishing eye contact with you in order to communicate.[4]

Vision Loss Is Your Pet’s Worst Enemy, Too

Dogs and cats, like us humans, experience eye changes as they age, such as retinal and lens functional decline, hardening and clouding of the lens, and accumulated oxidative damage due to environmental factors (like UV radiation from the sun).[1,2]

Along with the many external factors that can speed up deterioration, genetics play a large role in your pet’s eye health, too. And unfortunately, many breeds have predispositions to certain eye conditions (more on that later).[3]

So if you want to take one big step toward helping your beloved furry friend stay healthy and active for years to come, then please don’t ignore the problem of vision loss.

So it’s critical you take special care of your pet’s eyes over the years and look out for any signs of trouble. As a loving pet owner, be sure to watch out for these symptoms:[3]

Signs Your Pet’s Eye Health is in Danger

  •  Squinting
  •  Eye drainage
  •  Rubbing of eyes
  •  Swelling around eyes
  •  Visible third eyelid
  •  Reduced playfulness
  •  Change in eye color
  •  Cloudy eyes
  •  Unequal pupil size
  • Eye redness

These all-too-prevalent signs can be indicators of…

Common Eye Problems in Aging Pets

Any changes in your pet’s eyes, or behaviors that signify ocular irritations, need to be examined as soon as possible, because they can indicate a severe underlying problem.

Widespread vision ailments in pets include:

Retinal Issues: A leading cause of abrupt vision loss in dogs, retinal problems plague thousands of dogs per year.[5,6] These alarming issues typically go unnoticed by pet owners due to their slow development — it can take months for visual lesions or warnings of vision deterioration to become apparent. And then, blindness can suddenly ensue. Retinal problems have infected many different breeds (including felines), and are more common in middle-aged dogs.[7]

Increased Eye Pressure: This common issue is marked by an increase in pressure in the eye leading to blindness, and it can be highly painful for your dog or cat. Certain dog breeds are innately predisposed to the problem including Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Jack Russell Terriers, but an increase in eye pressure can also result from inflammation, trauma, tumors, oxidative stress and more. Unfortunately, in most cases, it can go undetected until it’s too late.[7,8]

Lens Issues: Classified as opacities of the lens, these can decrease vision, cause inflammation in the eye, and even result in blindness.[9] Lens issues are common in dogs, and many breeds are genetically predisposed to them including Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Huskies and terriers. Additional causes of these problems include blood sugar imbalances, trauma and inflammation.[7,10]

Dry Eye: This all-too-common health issue is the result of inadequate tear production. It is prevalent in various dog breeds including Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, Shih Tzus, Schnauzers and West Highland White Terriers (“Westies”). When left untreated, prolonged eye dryness can severely disrupt the cornea and ultimately result in impaired eyesight.[7]

With the alarming abundance of hidden vision traumas in pets, it’s important to remember that it’s never too early to start caring for your pet’s eye health.

 

Is your Cat Depressed?

by Jessica Vogelsang, DVM and comments by Diane Weinmann

 

You’re probably familiar with Grumpy Cat, the little feline whose frown has made her famous across the internet. You may also be familiar with your own grumpy cat, if you happen to have a particularly temperamental one at home.

 

Cats are known for their diverse, often feisty, personalities; some are anxious, some reserved, others inquisitive. But what does it mean if your cat is acting depressed? Do cats even suffer from depression? Well, yes and no.

 

How is Depression in Cats Defined?

 

Certainly cats can exhibit depressed behavior, but the general consensus is that they do not experience the same emotional changes associated with clinical depression in humans.

 

“In general, depression in humans is considered a multifactorial disease,” says Dr. Lynn Hendrix, the owner of Beloved Pet Mobile Vet in Davis, California and a palliative care expert. Depression can be situational, caused by a stressful situation, or medical, due to chemical imbalances in the brain. The diagnosis is based on self-reported symptoms, says Hendrix, meaning that the symptoms can be expressed verbally to the doctor or psychologist.

 

Those diagnostic criteria are not available to veterinarians. Since  most people  can’t ask cats exactly what they are feeling, whether they’re sad or angry or anxious or joyous, they must rely on the clues that the cat gives us through their behavior and daily activities and make our assessments based on that.  If  you talk with an animal communicator you can find out for sure.

 

“The clinical signs we see tend to be loss of appetite, avoidance behavior, less active, and abnormal behavior, like hissing,” says Hendrix. Some cats may show changes in litterbox usage, while others have disturbed sleep patterns.

 

Other Causes for Symptoms of Depression in Cats

 

Unfortunately, those symptoms are caused by a wide variety of conditions in felines, so getting to the root of the problem usually involves a visit to the veterinarian to rule out other problems. Medical problems such as kidney disease or GI cancer can cause nausea and decreased appetite that mimic depression.

 

According to Hendrix, pain is one of the most underdiagnosed conditions in cats, seniors in particular, and is one of the leading causes of clinical signs of depression. “Most of the time, there is pain or physical disease causing a cat to act ‘depressed’,” she says.

 

In Hendrix’s experience, many pet owners who are dealing with terminally cats are concerned that their cat is experiencing depression, often mirroring their own sadness about a pet’s illness. Hendrix encourages those owners to consider medical causes instead. Often, “it is sick behavior,” she says. “Their terminal illness [is] making them feel sick, nauseous, painful.”

 

As a hospice and palliative care veterinarian, Hendrix is able to address those specific symptoms and help cats feel much more comfortable, even during the end of life process. In some cases, owners who were considering euthanasia actually postponed their decision due to the improvement in their pet’s temperament once proper treatment was instituted. For that reason, she recommends people seek veterinary care for pets exhibiting depressed behavior, as accurate diagnosis and treatment can significantly improve quality of life.

 

The Evaluation Process for Depression in Cats

 

Veterinarians will begin the evaluation by taking a full history of the symptoms and performing a complete physical examination.

 

“Bloodwork, chest x-rays, and abdominal ultrasound may be suggested by your veterinarian,” says Hendrix. Those baseline tests usually provide a good overall look at a pet’s health and organ function. Depending on the results, other tests may be recommended.  Infections, tumors, and inflammatory diseases of the nervous system can result in significant behavioral changes in cats. Changes due solely to stress and anxiety can be difficult to differentiate from medical conditions, so it is often a process of elimination to reach a diagnosis in cats.

 

Again, if the issue is physical in nature these tests will help; however, if the cause of the depression is emotional, you will learn nothing.  At that point you should consult an animal communicator, like Diane Weinmann, to determine how to proceed.

 

Although cats tend to be independent and resilient, they can suffer from anxiety due to changes in routine, feeling threatened, or the addition or loss of family members. Anxiety is, in fact, one of the major behavioral conditions seen by veterinarians. Chronic stress can have an impact on a pet’s emotional, and even physical, health. Self-inflicted hair loss, aggression, or changes in litterbox usage are often traced back to anxiety.

 

Treating the Cat’s Stress Instead of Depression

 

If a stressor can be identified and eliminated, often the symptoms will improve or resolve. A veterinarian, trainer or animal communicator experienced in cat behavior can help with recommendations to make a home environment less stressful to an anxious cat. A cat that feels exposed and doesn’t have a place to hide, for example, may respond to more covered furniture or additional vertical spaces in the house so he or she feels more in control of the environment.

 

Competition in multi-cat households can also cause stress. Depending on the situation, owners may need to add resources in the form of additional litterboxes and food bowls, or even separate cats that are not getting along.

 

As another environmental modification, some cats respond to pheromone diffusers such as Feliway, which can have a calming effect.  Diane has had success with essential oils and bach flower essences to alleviate emotional issues.

 

Using Medication to Treat Stress in Cats

 

For more severe cases, veterinarians can prescribe prescription medications which have been known to help with anxiety in some cats. Trazodone, gabapentin, alprazolam, and midazolam are just some of the options that a veterinarian may recommend, depending on the situation.

 

Regardless of the cause, a cat showing signs of depression can benefit greatly from a prompt evaluation by a veterinarian. If we resist applying the human definitions of mood disorders to our feline friends and instead evaluate them strictly from a cat-friendly perspective, there is often much we can do to make our beloved kitties happier and healthier!  If the issue doesn’t seem to be physical—call an animal communicator (like Diane Weinmann-  www.theloveofanimals.com)

 

 

Cats and Urine Accidents

Cats and Urine Accidents

By Dr. Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

On occasion (and in some cases, more than occasionally), cat urine winds up somewhere other than the litterbox — usually on a soft absorbent surface like carpeting, an area rug, a pile of clothes or even your bed.

Obviously, this is a problem that must be tackled from a few different angles, the most important of which is to sort out why little Fluffy isn’t confining her potty habits to her litterbox. There are a number of reasons she might relieve herself outside the box. Here are a few of the most common:

• The box isn’t scooped and/or disinfected often enough. Cats are fastidious creatures who don’t enjoy a dirty, stinky bathroom any more than we do. That’s why you must be extremely disciplined about scooping the box. As in, once or twice a day scooping of all poop and urine clumps.

Also remove any litter stuck to the sides or bottom of the box with a damp paper towel. Dry the area thoroughly before scooping dry litter back over it. Keeping the sides and floor of the box clean and dry may help extend the time between full box clean-outs. Dispose of all used litter and clean the box at least weekly.

It’s important to wash the litterbox thoroughly to remove as much odor as possible so your cat doesn’t get turned off by the smell and decide not to use it. Wash the box using hot water and fragrance-free soap. Avoid scented cleaners and products containing potential toxins.

• Your cat doesn’t like your choice of litter or the box is in a high-traffic area or is difficult to get into or out of

• She has a medical condition like FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), or another chronic illness

• Your kitty is a senior citizen or is experiencing cognitive decline

If your cat suddenly starts peeing outside her well-maintained litterbox and you haven’t moved the box or changed the type of litter she prefers, I recommend making an appointment with your veterinarian to check for an underlying physical or cognitive issue that may be contributing to the problem.

How to Pinpoint Where Your Cat’s Been Peeing

The next thing you’ll want to do is to get rid of urine odors for your own sanity, and so your kitty won’t continually return to the scene of the crime and reoffend. Some people tend to believe cat urine smells worse or is harder to extinguish than the urine of other animals, but I’m not convinced.

Often when a cat urinates outside the litterbox, no one notices right away because it’s a small spot that dries quickly or it’s somewhat hidden. As the bacteria in the urine decomposes, it gives off that telltale ammonia-like odor we all know and don’t love. Older kitties whose kidneys aren’t working at 100 percent efficiency can have more potent-smelling urine than younger cats, as well as intact males whose urine contains testosterone.

If you discover your cat has been peeing in a spot outside his litterbox, it’s a good idea to find out if he’s doing it in other areas of the house as well. The quickest way to do this is with a black light. Urine stains appear in a lovely shade of neon green when illuminated with a black light, so darken your house and walk around shining the light on floors, baseboards and anywhere there are suspicious stains or smells.

Once you find he definitely is urinating outside his box you need to determine why.  A vet visit may be in order or you may have a kitty with an emotional issue.  If this is the case, you can call Diane Weinmann, an animal communicator to obtain info from your cat as to why a change has occurred. Contact Diane at Dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com.

Removing Urine Stains and Smells

For dried urine spots, treatment will depend on the type of surface you’re dealing with. Hard materials such as tile, wood flooring and baseboards can be cleaned using a safe, natural solution like 1 part hydrogen peroxide and 2 parts water, or undiluted white vinegar. Liberally spray the solution on the urine stain, wipe and repeat as often as necessary to eliminate any lingering odor. If the smell remains despite your best efforts, I recommend purchasing an enzyme-based cleaner as described below and re-treating the area(s).

Cleaning carpeting, upholstery or another absorbent surface requires a bit more effort. Cat urine is composed of several different chemicals, strains of bacteria and other substances. And while natural cleaners like hydrogen peroxide, vinegar or baking soda can deal with some urine odors, they don’t deal with them all.

That’s why it’s important to have an enzyme cleaner on hand to deal with the uric acid in cat urine stains. Take these steps to thoroughly clean urine stains and odors from carpets, rugs and other absorbent surfaces:

1. If the spot is still wet, use paper towels or another absorbent material like a rag or cloth and blot up as much of the urine as possible before moving to step 2.

2. Pour plain water over the spot and soak up the moisture, again using clean, white cloths or paper towels — continue blotting until no yellow appears on the towels.

3. Saturate the spot with a commercially available enzyme-based “digester” solution and let it sit for the prescribed amount of time. Thoroughly saturate the soiled areas, including carpet padding, if you suspect the urine has soaked all the way through.

4. Use more clean paper towels to blot up as much moisture as you can and then allow the spot to air-dry. Protecting the just-treated area is a good idea to prevent humans from walking through it and kitty from finding it and re-soiling. You can place aluminum foil loosely over the spots or use upside-down laundry baskets, bowls, baking sheets or similar items.

If the urine spot has been there awhile, you may need to repeat the last two steps at least once. Depending on the scope of the problem, be prepared to make this a multi-week project as you soak the spots, blot them, allow them to dry and then repeat the process as many times as necessary to completely remove stains and odor.

Additional Suggestions

Do yourself a favor and DO NOT make the mistake of using any old carpet-cleaning product you have on hand instead of a specialized pet formula. The products sold specifically for pet messes contain bacteria and enzyme digesters that are extremely effectively at eliminating stains and odor in both carpet and padding, without damaging or discoloring most flooring materials.

If you try something else on the spot first, then use a specialized pet formula, you may not get the same good result you can achieve using the pet product only. Also, no matter how bad the stain may look or smell when you discover it, resist the urge to use a harsh scrubbing motion to remove the spot, as this can quickly destroy the texture of your carpet or rug, and scrubbing really isn’t necessary.

If you’re patient and follow the steps listed above for stain removal, even if you have to repeat the process a few times to get all the stain out, there’s a very good chance you won’t notice the spot after it dries thoroughly. Even light-colored carpeting and rugs can be returned to good condition with the right cleaning agent and technique.

Once the urine is completely removed from a spot your cat has repeatedly soiled, try applying a few drops of a pure essential oil (I’ve used lemon, tangerine and lavender) on the area as a deterrent.

Unfortunately, urine occasionally soaks all the way through carpet and padding into the subfloor. If you can’t get rid the smell despite all your best cleaning efforts, you’ll need to remove that area of carpet and padding, neutralize the odor with an oil-based, stain-blocking primer on the subfloor and then replace the padding and carpet.

 

Cat Scoot—is this a new dance??

Cat Scoot—is this a new dance??

 

By Geoff Williams and comments by Diane Weinmann

If you have ever tried to explain the concept of cat scooting to your friends, you probably quickly realized that there is no graceful way to put it. If your cat is scooting, your cat’s butt is dragging along the carpet or ground.

 

Scooting or butt dragging is a problem far more common among dog owners, but it does occasionally happen to cats. And while it may look funny or strange, cat scooting could signal a medical problem that needs to be addressed.

 

Why do Cats Scoot?

“Scooting is normally associated with pruritus of the posterior end,” says Jim Lowe, a technical services veterinarian with Tomlyn, a company that makes pet healthcare products. Pruritus is a medical term for severe itching of the skin.

 

While it’s fairly rare, this can happen to any cat—there is no particular breed that experiences it more than another. And the reasons your cat’s bottom is itching, Lowe says, might be due to a number of factors, including parasites, impacted anal glands and allergies.

 

Cat Scooting and Parasites

If your cat is dragging its bottom on the carpet, there’s a chance your cat has worms. Parasitic worms, such as tapeworms, can cause irritation to the posterior area. And while you may check your cat’s stool for worms, you may not be able to see them.

 

“Just because the owner doesn’t see the worms doesn’t mean that they aren’t there,” says Dr. Carol Osborne, who owns the Chagrin Falls Veterinary Center and Pet Clinic in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Most worms only become visible in the stool after deworming, and sometimes not even then.

 

And if you do see worms, your cat is likely experiencing discomfort, Osborne says. In other words, get your cat to a vet immediately.

Cat Scooting and Impacted Anal Sacs

All cats have anal sacs located near the opening of the anus. Inside those sacs is a dark, smelly and slightly oily liquid.

 

“The anal sacs typically release their contents when a cat defecates,” says Laura Pletz, a St. Charles, Missouri-based veterinarian.

 

But when the sacs get clogged, they are considered impacted. That means the sacs don’t express when your cat goes to the bathroom, and the area becomes irritated, potentially causing your cat to scoot. In severe cases, a cat’s anal sacs can become infected, which is even more painful.

 

Cat Scooting and Allergies

If you see your cat dragging his or her bottom, there may be something in or around your home affecting the feline.

 

“Environmental allergies are caused by many things, such as dust mites, grasses, molds or fleas,” Pletz says.

 

The problem may also be due to whatever you’re feeding your cat. “Food allergies are typically an allergy to a particular protein source, such as chicken or beef,” Pletz says.

 

Pletz says that there are medical therapies that can help with scooting caused by environmental allergies, but if there is a food allergy contributing, your veterinarian will likely be putting your cat on a new diet.

 

What You Should Do if You See Your Cat Scooting

Your cat scooting action plan is pretty simple—if you don’t want to rush to the vet, start by taking a close look underneath your cat’s tail. Maybe there are some dried feces or another irritant there that is causing your cat to scoot. If so, simply wash gently underneath your cat’s tail and monitor his or her behavior to watch for scooting.

 

But if you don’t see an obvious culprit for your cat’s scooting, then contact your vet and get your pet checked out. Your vet may be able to express your cat’s anal sacs, check for problem-causing parasites, recommend a different diet or prescribe antibiotics or anti-itch medications.

 

My mother-in-law’s cat is constantly leaving a poop trail on the floors in her kitchen, living room and bedroom.  Obviously a vet visit will be required to fix this situation.  But I must admit, it’s a hoot to watch him slide around on the floor.  Wonder if he could ride a skate board??