From the Q&A Files

Here are a few questions and answers from my readers.

Q: Why does my cat insist that I eat with him? He won’t eat his food if I’m not nearby, also eating.

A: Has it not occurred to you that your cat loves you? He wants to be with you, share his favorite times with you, maybe even offer you some of his food. If he’s young or you haven’t had him long, he may feel insecure about being away from you, even to go eat…something dangerous could be there, like something he feels would be a threat, and he relies on you for protection at a critical time…meals! If you become angry, yell at him, etc., and refuse to be with him, he will eventually learn to eat alone, but then you’ll be back here asking why your formerly loving cat is now aloof and not affectionate anymore. Or, you could simply schedule both your meals so you’re eating at the same time. If not for companionship, why did you even get a cat?

Q: I just adopted two 6-week-old kittens. I gave them some regular cow’s milk but they don’t want to drink it, even with a syringe.

A: Why would you give them milk that contains lactose? Cats are lactose intolerant. If they’re still in need of nursing, they need KMR , Kitten Milk Replacer, available at most pet supply outlets. Their natural appetite (by instinct) is telling them not to drink what you’re offering. Now, it’s possible they’re ready to start eating solid food, too. Try some canned food and dilute it with warm water or warmed KMR so they can lap it up. This is near the age when some cat mothers begin weaning their babies. Please, also, find some information online on how to raise kittens. Your vet might be a good source, but not necessarily. Read as much as you can from reliable sources.

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My Cat Saved My Life

By Susan F. O’Donnell-Burke

Earlier this year, I almost died. But I’m here to tell the tale

because of my cat, Missy. She saved my life.

My cat, Missy

Dogs aren’t the only pets who are capable of
saving their people.

I adopted Missy 7 years ago from a shelter where she was
scheduled to be euthanized the next day. Now I believe we
were meant to be together.

The black kitten was in rough shape at the local shelter and
the volunteer staff couldn’t seem to get her better. She was
the last of a litter of ten that needed to find a loving home.
I couldn’t let her die.

We are now closely bonded and she looks after me, much to
my surprise initially, because, like many people, I didn’t know she
had it in her. Cats do love us when we care for them with
our love. Don’t let anyone tell you they don’t care. Missy proved
that to me.

I was driving my car along
a coastal highway in California that had signs to “watch for
falling rocks.” Well, a very large “rock” (more like a boulder)
landed on top of my car and punched its way through to the
road, leaving a gaping hole in the back seat area. It stopped
me, of course, and I needed help getting out of the car.

A passing motorist stopped to help and transported
me to a local hospital. But I soon opted to go home to my beloved
cats and called a friend to come get me.

Miraculously, I escaped what could have happened. Had the
boulder crashed into the front seat instead, where I was seated, I would
not be telling this story.

But there was another issue that still threatened my survival.

For several days I could not sleep. Then, on the third night, I fell
asleep as if to never awaken again. My breathing was shallow and

Suddenly, I was awakened by sharp “needles” raking my chest.
It was Missy. I pushed her away and told her to “stop that!”
But this pattern repeated itself many times throughout the night as she
kept waking me up, causing me to resume breathing.

I’m sure I would not have survived the night without my sweet Missy cat
reminding me to breathe! I saved her life 7 years ago and this time, she
saved mine!

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Do Indoor Cats Get Depressed?

The question as to whether cats get depressed is related to lifestyle and how they’re treated and not simply to being kept indoors vs being allowed to roam outside.

Research has settled the fact that cats do have emotions, thanks to the existence of a region in their brain that is very similar to the human brain.

While many cats certainly can live safely and comfortably indoors only, some of them develop emotional problems, such as depression, but it’s probably due to lack of mental stimulation related to lack of attention indoors. As with people, there are wide differences. Some cats don’t mind being alone while others absolutely need and will thrive on companionship and certain activities. This companionship may be with their human, or with another cat or two…or more. Or “all of the above.”

Not everyone is equipped to handle a solitary life, including cats, who may need emotional outlets for normal feline behaviors. If they are unable to express these needs, they may become depressed and will demonstrate what we call problem behaviors, such as scratching everything in sight, urinating outside the litter box, hiding, excess shedding, over-grooming, and even sleeping beyond the normal 16 or so hours per day. They may overeat or refuse to eat. They may vomit more often.

In fact, my cats do not sleep that much. For one thing, which helps a lot, they have numerous housemates, who often become playmates. They have me, a very involved cat guardian. They need to play often and get some exercise. I provide toys, cat-friendly furniture they may climb, and interactive games. They are given a wide variety of foods to satisfy even the pickiest appetites, and novel items to chew on, such as “cat grass” and raw bones. Others may prefer one of the many cat chew toys available these days.

These activities are often regarded as more easily achieved if they can go outdoors regularly, or even at will. Many countries favor allowing cats to satisfy their desires with easy access to the great outdoors. U.S. cats are more likely to be kept indoors by cautious and concerned owners to prevent unhappy outcomes, such as accidents, predator attacks, mean human attacks, and potential disease from contact with strays who may be ill.

Indoors, we have many opportunities for activities such as outdoor viewing from window perches, boxes to hide in or play hide-n-seek with the others, chasing a laser pointer, and the frequent favorite, catnip, though not all cats relate to it.

If going outdoors is important for your cat’s emotional well-being, consider supervised walks on a leash. Using a harness is preferable to a collar, as most cats have little trouble shrugging out of them. Just condition them to its use while still inside the house!

Another option is to build an outdoor enclosure, called a “catio.” I’m working on one this summer.

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Cats Have Feelings

About 30 years ago, long before I became a rescue and shelter director, and ultimately a certified cat behavior consultant, I learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, my three cats were the involuntary, unwitting, unwilling and unintentional victims of what happened. My family had planned a one-month vacation and had motel reservations lined up in advance along the planned itinerary. We left on time, for once, and were feeling confident we would make all arranged stops on schedule.

And then it happened:

As we pulled out of the driveway, the cell phone rang. Our pet sitter called and canceled at the literal last minute. Gasp!

Unable to find replacement help despite frantic calls to everyone we knew, we felt we had only one choice: Go back inside and set things up for the cats’ extended needs. We didn’t know as much about cats at the time as we later learned, so we figured the new arrangements would work. Cats are independent, right? They sleep all the time, right? They’re low maintenance, right?

We filled the bathtub with water and left a sink faucet dripping slowly. We opened two 25-pound bags of kibble in a large box. We poured 50 pounds of litter into two large metal pans in the basement. And we left a radio playing and toys all over the floor.

We took our new kitten with us, and she had a ball. But there simply was no room for three adult cats in our camper van, too. We continued on our journey and “a good time was had by all.”

We had misgivings, but with everything “set in stone,” we forced ourselves to hold onto an optimistic mindset. Plus, we used the phone every few days to ask neighbors to stop by and peek in the windows. We discovered on our return, however, no one had had the time to do that.

When we came home, we got quite the wake-up call. My three cats, two Siamese and one calico, were beyond upset. They were virtually insane. Yowling constantly for the next three days in the crawl space, they refused to come out. They stopped eating. The litter box was being used, but they couldn’t stop “yelling at us” for leaving them alone. They finally went hoarse and couldn’t say anything anymore.

This is the part that amazes me: I was raised during a time of “great scientific revelation” and was taught that animals do not have feelings; they are simply reflexively acting on instincts and reacting to anything unfamiliar. Even my science teachers in school taught that animals don’t feel pain! It’s “just a reflex” if they flinch or howl. But now I could no longer accept that thinking. This was not “reactive reflexes.” This was gut-wrenching emotion! Watching my fur-babies in such distress, I actually shouted out, “On my gosh, cats have FEELINGS,” and I vowed to never hurt them again! How could I have missed that? But a lot of people do.

It’s no exaggeration to say this awakening jolt completely changed my life. I vowed to devote the rest of my life to saving and respecting them in the process. As a result, I now have tamed numerous so-called ferals, strays-gone-wild and unmanageable cats with behavior problems. I started my shelter in 2002 and have been rescuing and rehoming mostly cats (over 1,000) since then. I took in many dogs, too, but I am a quintessential Cat Lady now. I will never live without cats.

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Whisker Stress

peachesupcloseWhat is “Whisker Stress?”

Of all the animals that have whiskers, few seem as interesting as the cat. Maybe this is why some people have been drawn to clipping them off. If they just want to see what happens, I have a better way of figuring out what whiskers mean to your cat.

You don’t hear about dog whiskers being cut off, and I’m pretty sure no one is going after rat whiskers. But cats certainly have well designed and attractive ones. There are a lot of articles online that describe and explain them, and people should read these to appreciate their value to the cat.

One thing I did as a kid that instantly gave me a better understanding and appreciation of these “feelers” was to “try them on.” Anyone who has cats knows they shed hair, and whiskers are shed, too, as they are a specialized type of hair. When you find one somewhere, save it, and the next one. Rinse them in water or alcohol or something if you think they’re “dirty,” then put these two whiskers lightly into the corners of your mouth, root first. Now close your eyes and just feel your surroundings. You can feel subtle air currents, anything that comes close to you, and definitely if anything touches one. In fact, just touch one yourself. Try different weights of touch, from just barely to pretty strongly. Imagine if they are attached. You would not enjoy having them pulled on or pulled out.

Look at the whisker. Note that it is tapered. The thicker end is attached, by its follicle, to the extraordinarily sensitive lip area, and it narrows to almost nothing at the outer end. Feel it. It’s fairly thick at the base and very thin at the end. Try bending it. Brush one against your skin, your lip, your face.

Once you see and feel all the things that whiskers do, just imagine how much your cat depends on them. My blind cat kept hers pointed forward any time she was on the move, as they served her much like a blind person’s white cane.

Why would anyone want to take this special, often crucial, sense away from an animal?

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A Catscapade Tale

By Patricia Fry

I’ve met, written about, and shared my home with some amazing cats over the years. This is the story of one such cat.

Have you ever noticed that the cat who is scheduled to go to the vet, to the groomer, or to be boarded, is nowhere to be found when it’s time to leave? Any other day, you can walk up to her and pet her or pick her up. But if you have a plan that involves a ride in the car, the cat darts under the bed. Right? Why? How do they know? Maybe this story will shed some light on the mystery.

It was not on Daisy’s agenda that hot summer day to see the groomer. She, no doubt, planned a day of lolling on the linoleum floor watching birds through the window. She didn’t know about her appointment with the groomer…or did she? She’d certainly made herself scarce all morning.

I’d lugged the heavy wire cat carrier from the garage and discreetly placed it just outside the back door. Rule number one: Don’t let the cat see the carrier or you’ll never get her near it. “Oh, there you are, girl. Come to Mama,” I crooned as I casually walked into the back bedroom where she lay curled up on a bed.

She looked up at me with sheer terror in her eyes and quickly disappeared under the bed. “How does she know?” I wondered. I probed the darkness with my hands where only dust bunnies and frightened cats go. But Daisy avoided capture.

When she thought the coast was clear, she crept out from under the far side of the bed and slunk down the hallway toward the kitchen. The gig was up—there was no place else where she could hide out of my range. This is going to be easy, I thought. But, in true feline style, the cagey cat outsmarted me again. Hugging her belly to the floor, she scurried into the living room. I knew better than to chase her, but I followed her just in time to see her silky tail disappear under a corner table. I scratched my head in disbelief. The little scamp had managed to position herself a scant few inches from my longest reach.

Obviously, this wasn’t working. And I knew full well that a cat that doesn’t want to be caught is usually a cat that won’t have to go to the groomer. Then I remembered something I’d read recently about using mind talk with animals. Could I communicate with Daisy through thoughts like J. Allen Boone had done with a dog and even ants and a gnat in his book, Kinship With All Life? Could I actually convince her to adopt my point of view? My options were few. What did I have to lose except, perhaps, a measure of dignity?

After bringing the wire carrier in, setting it in plain sight and opening the little door, I implemented my plan. I sprawled out on the floor and looked through the dimness under the table into Daisy’s large sea-green eyes. She stared back and I immediately began creating mind pictures. I visualized the plump calico standing up and walking toward the carrier, which sat empty a few feet away from me. I envisioned her stepping into the carrier then my closing the door and latching it behind her. I pictured the two of us going by car to the groomer where she would be lavished with attention. And then I created images of picking her up from the groomer and bringing her home flea-free, mat-free and just feeling wonderfully comfortable.

To my amazement, the moment I completed this mind-video, Daisy stood up, walked toward the carrier and, without hesitation, stepped inside. I lay there stunned as she moved to the back of the carrier and turned around until her tail was free of the little wooden door. Then she sat down and looked at me as if to say, “Well, close the door and let’s get on with it.”

Did I actually communicate through those mind pictures so Daisy understood? Did she choose to go to the groomer that day? Or was her compliance a fluke? I guess we’ll never know. But I can tell you that I’ve witnessed numerous incidents since that day to indicate that we can communicate with our cats. I’m sure you have, too. Now if we’d just learn to listen to what they have to say…

Patricia Fry is the author of the Klepto Cat Mystery series, cozy mysteries involving cats. The main cat character is Rags, an ordinary cat with some extraordinary habits. He can’t keep his paws off other people’s things and sometimes what he takes turns out to be a clue in the current mystery. Number 13 in the series is our first Christmas story—A Picture-Purrfect Christmas. It’s harrowing and it’s touching. Reviewers warn to have a box of tissues handy for the heart-warming ending. Available in print and for your Kindle here:

(For ages 18 to 118).

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Robot cats by Hasbro offer companionship for seniors

I can’t tell you how many cats I’ve rescued from homes where their senior owners passed away and the families were either unable or unwilling to deal with “Mom’s cats.” Worse, many seniors are forced to give up their beloved pets when they must move to assisted living or a nursing home. Sometimes this is required even when they move in with their children, who may not appreciate or have room for Mom’s cat.

Now there is a great option: robotic cats. No messy litter box. No trips to the vet. No pet food costs. No hair balls on the bed. And while it can be difficult to accept the fact that sometimes one’s memory can fail, it won’t harm the Robo Cat if it misses too many meals.

This is a cat you can truly “put on the shelf till you’re ready to play with it.” Real cats require regular and consistent care and attention, which often proves to be a major challenge to the very young as well as older folks.

Children have been playing with stuffed toy cats and other animals for years. Now it’s Grandma’s and Grandpa’s turn!

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Enjoy our new products and help the cats, too!

Tap or click this Zazzle page link to find fun products featuring some of the cats here, and help generate a little help to keep them in food, litter and vet care:

create & buy custom products at Zazzle

Thanks for visiting our new project page!

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Two New Books, Just Published!

I’ve been busy this year with books and have managed to make two of them available on Kindle, and one ebook is now in print format. I also created a “blank book” for people who like to keep diaries or journals, called Some Incredibly Important Notes To Myself.  This can be used to journal about your cats, too.

You can see all the cat books listed on the Book List page (click Book List above), but for your convenience, here is a “quick list” of all the links:

Some Incredibly Important Notes to Myself   (a blank book for journaling about anything)

Making Cat Ownership Fun and Simple  (a transcript of an interview)

Moving With Pets  (newly formatted for Kindle)

Cat Lady Collection  (newly formatted for print)

Our Amazing Cats

Our Amazing Cats, Vol. 2

How to Make Your Cat Adore You

7 Steps to 9 Lives



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Our Amazing Cats, Volume 2

Thanks to a great group of authors, Volume 2 is now available for sale at these links:

Thanks to everyone for encouraging and supporting this project.

Volume 1 is available here:

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