I am giving myself a virtual pat on the back for continuing to write my semi-new feature, Cat Bits & Bytes, on my home page every Tuesday. I have imposed my own rules for my Cat Bytes. My rules have made my Cat Bytes both fun to write and at times turns them into a challenging game. Rule number one is obvious. Cat Bits & Bytes have to contain information that focuses mainly on cats. No surprises there. The second rule is that they are understandable, as well as informative. Rule number three is more challenging—Cat Bits & Bytes can’t be more than four lines long. I broke rule number three in this week’s Halloween Fryte Byte. Its five lines long though the last line is only one word. Rule number three can be a challenge since I can be a bit expansive in my descriptions. Rule number three forces me to simplify. Some of the bytes take lots of rewrites, until they are the obligatory length, informative and hopefully understandable. Rule number four takes the Bytes to a different game level—word and letter play. Whenever possible I play with words in the title. Halloween Fryte Byte, my Byte for this week is a good example of word and letter play. I had fun with that one. You can read it on my home page. All of the Cat Bytes, to date, can be read on the Cat Behavior Bits & Bytes page.
Candy is toxic for cats, dogs and other animals. Make sure that candies, cookies and other people food are not accessible to your resident companion animals. And while you’re at it, recycle the candy wrappers. If ingested, they can cause intestinal obstructions in cats and other animals.
Cats can feel trapped in covered litter boxes. Covered litter boxes also retain odors and most are too small for cats. Instead, use large, translucent plastic storage containers without lids as cat litter boxes.
Cats have an acute sense of smell. Scent is one of the ways that they relate and understand their environment. Scents can make or break new relationships. I preach scent exchanges when introducing cats to each other. Scent exchanges can either encourage friendships, or if forced upon cats can lead to violence and stress.
There are some sources on the internet that counsel forced scent exchanges by applying the scent of one cat directly on another when introducing a new cat to the resident cat or when working with inter-cat aggression. I highly recommend not exchanging scents in this fashion. Doing so can stress the cat wearing the other’s scent and result in their hating or fearing each other—they cannot retreat away from the other’s scent. There is a more peaceful way of conducting scent exchanges. Instead of forced scent exchanges, gently pet each cat’s cheek with a different sock or soft towel and then put the scented towels or socks in the other’s confinement area, while the cats remain separated from each other. That way the cats have the choice of checking it out on their own schedule. If the cats don’t feel secure to venture near the scent-laced objects, then they don’t have to. They can wait until the smell dissipates in strength and then investigate it. It’s about choice. And it’s about reducing stress.
Not only does this pertain to cat scents, but also to calming collars and scents that well-meaning people sometimes put on their cats. Cats often find the scents and calming collars annoying or threatening but have no way of escaping them since they are wearing them.
Always use toys when playing with cats—never use hands! Cats who are played with using hands often have boundary issues. They do not understand why it’s OK to use their mouths and claws while playing and yet it’s not acceptable to bite or scratch at other times.