Hunting is probably the worst thing that most cat owners dislike about their furry, fluffy friends. Who wants to see their cat hunt and kill prey? And then their furry, fluffy friend wants to have their quiet time with you and get all kissy-kissy? NOT. However, cats are born hunters and it is something we must live with if we let our cats outside. Hunting is essentially a simple response to a moving target, a response that is manifested because of a strongly motivated inborn urge, which is refined through acquired skills. These skills come from early experiences when a mother cat will bring home half-dead victims for her kittens to play with, and they learn through trial and error the best methods by which to handle and kill the prey. Experimentation and reacting with its mother and litter-mates and its surroundings all improve and coordinate the cat’s hunting abilities.
Many cat owners are rather disgusted at the way their pets appear to play with their prey, apparently torturing it to death rather than ending its days quickly. If prolonged, such play can indicate that when the cat was young it did not learn how to kill properly — or at all. Maybe the mother was an indoor cat and didn’t know how to handle prey, and therefore couldn’t teach its young. Wolfman, our cat, loves to go out into the garage with Larry and hunt. He’s gotten a few flies and geckos and is extremely proud of himself. His mother was ferule and probably taught him how to kill. But he’s an indoor only cat and the only action he is going to see is the inside of the garage!
Get a cat flap pet door to allow your cat access to the outside.
By twisting and leaning, cats can reach almost all parts of their body by contorting their extra-supple body. But the best way by far to reach all the inaccessible areas around the ears, the back of the neck and under the chin, is to get help from a friend. Friendly cats living together use mutual grooming as an integral part of their social bonding and will approach each other frequently for a bath, returning the favor later if not at the same time. This is a way of creating a group smell, especially after we have petted and rubbed all over them.
We as humans can join in and use grooming and touch, like all cats do, as part of the social bonding process. Grooming using a brush or glove should be started as early on as possible after weaning or getting a new kitten, which continues the mother’s role. Cats are very individual in their likes and dislikes, and some enjoy being brushed. Most enjoy being stroked and tickled around the head. Almost all cats dislike their hair being brushed in the wrong direction – it actually hurts. Mother Nature intended for their hair to stay close to their body, and the hair follicle is made specifically for this purpose.
Consider a cat condo for your cat.
Grooming is an instinctive behavior at which kittens are proficient by six weeks of age. They learn to groom themselves at about 3 weeks, using their barbed tongues like combs – usually before they can walk. They need to care for their coats in order to remove loose hair, stimulate new growth, prevent matting and to spread secretions from glands on the skin so that the coat is kept waterproof and their bodies insulated. Grooming has a second important use, as well. It is a way of keeping cool. Saliva evaporates off the coat and removes excess heat. Cats groom more in warm weather or after strenuous activity and may lose as much fluid through grooming as they do through urinating.
Most cats have their own routine for grooming. Some spend up to one-third of their waking time providing a head-to-toe clean-up, others hardly bother with it. Most groom systematically and symmetrically, using their forepaws to clean their face and behind the ears, covering the foreleg with saliva before wiping the “dirty” area several times in a circular motion from back to front. One scientist believes cats secrete a special “cleaning fluid” which cleans the fur. They certainly smell clean and don’t leave the after effect of doggie breath.
Try a bungalow cat furniture tree condo for your kitties!
A cat deprived of touch may be withdrawn and fearful and may even groom itself in an attempt to compensate for this lack of touch from others. Grooming and touch are vital reassurances to the newborn kittens as it can not see the world or hear very well. Hidden in its mothers nest, it is dependent on touch and smell to survive. Kittens respond to this safety by purring, a behavior they maintain in adulthood in their relationship with us, along with other kitten-like behaviors, in the safety of their homes.
Another kitten behavior which is often continued is kneading. Cats usually purr very enthusiastically as they are stroked on our laps, closely in rhythm with the paddling or shifting of their feet as they draw their claws in and out. This behavior stems back to the kittens suckling period when kneading on their mother’s stomach around the nipples stimulated milk flow. Even though many years old, cats may revert to this behavior with us, and we should be overcome with joy that they obviously feel secure and content to relax and become defenseless kittens on our laps.
Automatic cat feeders come in handy when you will be away at normal feeding time.
Many cats love being touched, and show much pleasure at being groomed by another cat or being stroked by us. They rub enthusiastically and purr in a strong rhythm, oozing immeasurable enjoyment. It is thought that touch stimulates the release of chemicals in the brain called endophines, which give a feeling of pleasure or well-being, and even helps to overcome pain. It is also thought that the cat has a very active endorphine system, backed up by the occurrence of accidents and cats and them not appearing as if they are in pain. Maybe this is why some of them manage to drag themselves away from road accidents to somewhere quiet; the pain killing effect allows them to move away to safety without causing further hurt. If stroking our cats releases these strong pyscho-active chemicals, no wonder they purr.
Touch being the primal source of affection, it is known that a human child, bear, or pup may not thrive and may even die in the absence of reassuring and loving touch. The same is definitely true for the kitten – the very survival of a newborn kitten is dependent on its mother’s touch. She must stimulate the stomach and under the tail with licks in order for the kitten to b able to open its bladder and bowel. She licks and cleans the kittens regularly, making sure the bedding area does not become wet or soiled, conditions that could reduce the survival chances of the kittens.
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When you choose a site for her bed, bear in mind her need for security and warmth because she will choose her own spot if not satisfied. Height provides security, especially if there are curious young children or puppies around. Cats usually climb up to where they can safely watch the world and strike out with a paw should danger cone from below. this is one of the reasons they absolutely love cat trees. They need safe niches for a peaceful snooze, which is why you may find them on a kitchen shelf, a bedroom closet shelf or nook, or in a hidey-hole they have found where even you can’t find them if you don’t have a cat tree! You may get lucky and have a cat who loves the bed you bought and placed in the living room and usually sleeps there, or you may have a cat like Wolfman who likes to sleep and nap in various places.
Upon waking, cats usually take a moment or two to stretch and restore their circulation to all parts of the body. With an amazing suppleness that would make even a yoga expert cry, they stretch their joints and muscles from tip to toe, often digging their claws into the carpet for extra anchorage, arching the body and raising their bottoms high into the air to stretch the hind legs and tail. A few yawns later and a quick face wash, they are ready to go.
Did You Know? A Majestic cat tree is perfect for cat napping and watching the world go by. It provides height and perches and sometimes tunnels, and always with sisal wrapped poles for sharpening their claws.
A napping cat is well aware that you are around or when you are approaching because her ears will still be on ‘radar patrol’, scanning for any sounds. A cat that is sound asleep will get a huge shock if awakened by a loud noise or sudden prod, so if you need to awaken her, treat her as you would like to be awoken yourself — with a soft touch, gentle whisper, and a reassurance that everything is okay.
Cats are often used in advertising to symbolize warmth, security and comfort within a loving family and are pictured curled up and cozy in front of a roaring fire. A German animal specialist studied more than 400 sleeping cats and could determine the temperature in the room based upon the cats’ positions they took while sleeping. At less than 55 degrees, the cat was curled up with its head and tail tightly tucked into the body. As the temperature rose, the cat’s body shape opened up. At over 70 degrees, the cats were uncurled with their paws in front of them. Cats may end up with their feet in the air or they may lie flat on their sides if they feel both safe and very warm. Each cat may have its own peculiar sleeping position, which their owners would recognize. Wolfman likes to sleep on the floor on his back with his tummy exposed and paws in the air, which makes him look huge. Toodles prefers to curl up in a loose ball like a lady.
Did You Know? Airline approved pet carriers are becoming more popular, but are more expensive as well.
Cats have been used in several scientific studies of sleep due to their being superior sleepers. Their brains show similar electrical activity to humans during sleep. During the first fifteen to twenty minutes, cats remain fairly tense around the neck and head and are instantly awakened by clicks, squeaks or sudden noises. They then relax and may even roll onto their sides for several minutes, and their whiskers, tail and paws may twitch, perhaps in dreaming. Cats do exhibit REM (rapid eye movement), a characteristic of deep sleep in humans. They may return to a shallow period of sleep for a short period before dreaming again. This deep sleep takes up about 15 percent of their lives, while shallow sleep accounts for about 45 percent. Kittens do not shallow sleep in their first month of life because the center in the brain which controls this lighter sleep does not develop fully until they are about five weeks old. As mentioned in Part 1, this is when the kittens take to adult sleep patterns.
When catnapping, cats will lay on any spot and close their eyes while remaining fairly alert. However, prior to settling into a deeper sleep, they need to find a place where they feel warm and secure. This is when they ‘switch off’ entirely and need to be relaxed and safe. Cats’ temperatures drop during sleep, so they often look for a warm place in the sun or in a hidey-hole where they will be snug and safe.
Did You Know? A telescoping pet ramp allows a handicapped kitty who cannot jump to get up onto whatever surface you want them on- couches, beds, chairs, etc.
Sleeping away 60 percent of their lives, cats are the world’s best sleepers. They spend twice as long sleeping than mot other mammals. A typical day encompasses over fifteen hours of sleeping and dozing, almost six hours washing and playing, and hunting, eating and exploring make up the rest of the day. Lions will sleep a great deal after eating because their meals are meat – rich in calories and nutrients. Herbivores eat all day just to get in all the vegetation requirements their bodies need, and therefore do not sleep as long. Domestic cats, being well fed by their owners, have sparse time in which they sleep. It is thought the investment in rest goes a long way to explaining their longevity when compared with other larger mammals like the dog. Of course, cats are more active if it is cold or they are hungry, or if they are courting and mating. Newborn kittens sleep 90 percent of the time, but by the time they are four weeks old, they convert to adult levels. Old cats, like older people, sleep or snooze more often. Cats, like us, also sleep more if warm, secure, and well fed. They fall into the schedule of their owners, sleeping during the day while no one is home, and being more active in the morning and evenings when we are around. On weekends they return to short periods of catnaps, and have periods of deeper sleep when they feel safe knowing we are at hand for anything that might arise if required.
Did You Know? A sisal cat scratch is for the cat to exercise their nails on, which takes away the dead sheath of their nails while allowing them to work and sharpen their nails. This is much less expensive than replacing your couch, chair or carpeting if they don’t have something to sharpen and work their nails on! Honestly the best thing I have experienced with my cats is a cat tree with sisal rope bound posts. Just look on our site under cat trees.
How should a cat that is strange to us or slightly nervous be approached? If cat meetings are not friendly, paws are often used…maybe it is best to keep our hands to ourselves initially. Friendly cats greet head to head, so it would be best to get down to the cat’s level to begin with and approach face-t0-face. Watch the cat with half-closed eyes and blink to reassure the cat. Don’t stare as that is an aggressive action between cats. Let the cat come forward and sniff, and extend your hand slowly at cat shoulder height – not a jerk from above. The cat will probably stretch his face forward a little once he is sure that your intentions are friendly. Then rub his chin and head to interact some. If you can, try to purr. The cat determines if you get lucky or not, your animal loving nature notwithstanding.
It is a mystery as to why cats always go to the non-cat lover and sit in their lap. It is thought that the reactions of the non-cat lover are exactly what the cat is looking for — blinking, not looking directly at them, laid back, hoping not to attract attention. They could also be giving off vibrations or smells that actually attract the cat. On the flip side, a cat lover who is moving too fast and trying to coax it into their lap before the cat has had a chance to check them out will make the cat flee and hide.
Did you know? A scat mat keeps your cat off of and away from areas you don’t want him/her on or in – like counters and Christmas trees.