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August 11, 2020

Being Green is Good… but

This blog entry is not for the faint of heart… if you are sensitive to issues pertaining to cat excrement, you might want to not read this.

I support the green movement whenever possible. I’m glad to see people are concerned about what they are throwing away and how it impacts the environment. Having said that, sometimes the implications of being green has some disturbing consequences. Recently I’ve noticed a trend that is causing many cats to avoid using their litter boxes.

Most people understand the importance of scooping litter boxes on a daily basis. Cats do not like soiled litter boxes because the smell can theoretically attract predators and scare away potential prey. This means boxes need to be scooped daily. When cleaning cat boxes, the excrement is typically scooped into plastic bags and then thrown away. Before people started living green, the bags were removed immediately after each scooping. Times they are a-changing…

Some people, in their efforts to preserve the environment and not drown it in plastic bags are collecting the excrement in containers, dumping only after the containers have filled up. Typically, the containers are placed either next to the cat boxes, for convenience, or in the same room as the boxes. Some of the containers are open waste baskets lined with plastic bags—others are semi-closed boxes or bags. The containers are dumped when they are full—sometimes once a week, others once a month. One client was dumping every three months. The cat boxes are immaculately clean, but the rooms smell terrible.

From the cat’s perspective, there is no difference between a dirty cat box and a cleaned cat box that has an open container of excrement sitting next to it or nearby. They both smell and they both have the same consequences—cats choosing to not use their litter boxes.

And yes, there is a solution that will make both cats and people happy. There are environmentally friendly bags available from pet stores, specifically manufactured for this purpose. They can be thrown away every day. Litter lockers can also work, but only if they have good seals on them that prevent odors from escaping. So people, please think through what it means to be green. How is it impacting your cat?

Bok Choi, a Special Boy

One of my Bengals, Bok Choi was diagnosed last night with a large tumor in his lower intestine. He is very sick, the tumor is fast growing. I’m very sad. Bok Choi had a very rough life, was dealt a bad genetic hand, has HCM, disintegrating spine along with some other disorders and to top it off, the previous owner had him 4 pawed declawed and abused him.

Bok Choi is my special boy. Through the years he’s lived with me, he’s been my teacher. I know that sounds a little odd, but he has had just about every behavior problem known and unknown to cat. He has taught me to think out of the box and look at creative solutions. He’s a wonderful boy, I love him dearly and he will be so missed by me and his best buddy Kingsley.

My veterinarian doesn’t think it’s his time yet, but it’s soon. He’s now home, so he can enjoy his last few days with his best friend.

You can see a picture of him in my blog entry about Bengals and litter boxes.

 

Tall Tails

Cats have evolved a complex and effective communication system. Every part of a cat is a perfect little communication device, broadcasting messages to their world about their intentions and their emotional and physical states. A cat can communicate more effectively then an iPhone with just a simple movement of the head, a flattening of a whisker or a shift in body position. Sometimes their communications are subtle with slight nuances, other times it’s loud and wakes the neighbors.

Cat body language is complex. A series of books dedicated to it would still only scratch the surface. With that in mind, this blog entry will address one complex communication signal that is transmitted by the tail. I am calling this signal the “Happy Tail Dance”. Most of you have seen this. Sometimes it’s confused with the signals a cat gives when she sprays. Usually the cat half closes her eyes. Her tail is held high, with a slight curve at the top and it starts quivering. It can be somewhat alarming at first. The Happy Tail Dance is never accompanied by spraying and is broadcasting a different message to the world.

The language difference is subtle. Check out the base of the tail when a cat does a Happy Tail Dance. Usually the fur at the base of the tail is fluffed up. Just the fur at the base, closest to the cat’s back. Usually cats vocalize and have conversations during the Happy Tail Dance. And, the big difference… no spraying…

I can count on my cats to do happy tail dances on a daily schedule. Sudan, my Savannah always runs ahead of me and does the Happy Tail Dance on doors I’m about to open (inside, of course). He especially loves closets and likes to help me pick out my clothes every day. He shows me this with a happy tail dance. Maulee rushes to meet me when I come home, doing a happy tail dance on the cabinet. Olivia jumps on my lap and does a happy tail dance when she wants me to play fetch. The way she fluffs her tail, makes her tail look like a little pyramid. All of my cats do the Happy Tail Dance just as I’m about to do a clicker training session with them.

Check it out next time… look at the subtle tail language. Next time you see the Happy Tail Dance, don’t put your cat in the bathroom because you think she’s about to spray.

Oh… if she sprays, it’s not the Happy Tail Dance… you didn’t quite get what she was saying…