Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Colorado Springs

Management of Feline Stress

From the late 20th century to the present, Stress has become a catchword of a generation. For humans, it has become a lifestyle – and indeed the amount we have to do, and the pressure we are under, are worn with pride as a statement of our importance. The cats with whom we share our lives are also not immune to stress, however they do not have the same choices that we do to minimise or manage it. Cats are known to be great stress relievers for humans, lowering blood pressure and decreasing anxiety and depression…it is only fair that we return the favour!
Stress and anxiety are actually adaptive responses designed to save life. The burst of energy given by adrenaline facilitates the “fight or flight response” which can either get you out of danger or allow you to stand up to your adversary. The excess hormones provided were never intended to be used in the body for an extended period, and they can be harmful if present in the case of chronic stress. The harmful effects over time can include reduced immune functioning; therefore it is most important that chronic stress is relieved. What follows is a brief overview of issues in stress: At the end are included a number of possible strategies for its management. Responses from different cats may be variable. However these are the commonly available ones that can be followed up if they seem appropriate for your cats.

The Management of Stress Has Three Components:

Diagnosis – Common Manifestations of Stress in Cats

  • Spraying (even in neuters)
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Pacing back and forth at perimeters of fences
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pulling out of fur
  • Trembling
  • Excessive meowing
  • Hiding from the world, under beds, behind curtains etc
  • Physical symptoms and illness – some illnesses and disorders (such as acne) have been associated with stress. Stress can also be a response to physical illness, so it is most important to check with your vet to rule out a medical condition

Assessment of Situational Factors – Common Causes of Stress

  • Medical conditions/injury
  • Confinement
  • Overcrowding in multi-cat households
  • New family member (human or animal)
  • New cat in the neighbourhood
  • Moving House
  • Travel
  • Parties/visitors
  • Cat Shows
  • Change of any kind. Cats differ in their responses to stress. Some may take major changes without batting an eyelid, while others may fall apart at the sight of an earwig. Their inherited temperament and early socialisation play a role.

Intervention – Common Methods of Stress Management

  • Change the situation causing the stress
  • Change the response of the cat
  • Combination of 1 & 2

Changing the Situation

Changing the situation may be easy – it is often appropriate if the cat shows stress in a specific situation but seems fine the rest of the time. Removing the stressor or removing the cat from the situation may sometimes be the simplest option. For example, this may involve re-homing the cat if the cat is not suited to a multi-cat environment.

Changing the Response of the Cat

Vet Prescribed / Pharmacological – Discuss with your vet; reserve for severe and chronic problems

  • Clomicalm- (Clomipramine) is commonly used by vets to treat anxiety disorders: it is an anti depressant that works best as a long term treatment combined with behavioural therapy.
  • Valium- (Diazepam) a tranquilizer. But can have a paradoxical effect that makes the cat more agitated.

Non Vet Prescribed / Behaviors

  • Feliway – A synthetic analogue of facial (friendly) pheromones. Especially recommended for spraying problems or inappropriate urination. Can also be used to make areas less threatening.
  • Aromatherapy – Lavender essential oil can be relaxing – can be used in a burner as long as the room is well ventilated.
  • Massage – Good to use on a daily basis for stressed cats.
  • T-touch – A form of tactile therapy often using circular movements of the fingers on the skin. Can induce a trance-like state in some cats, or can send them to sleep.
  • Herbal therapies – Valerian is sometimes used to calm cats.
  • Homeopathic – Best known is probably Rescue Remedy flower essence.
  • Nutritional supplements – B group-vitamins are reputed to reduce anxiety – many cats like the yeast supplements that provide these. There are also liquid and tablet preparations combing ingredients reputed to be relaxing, including amino acid tryptophan and b vitamins.
  • Behavioural therapy – Classical conditioning techniques can help the cat to break a negative association with a situation or object by counter conditioning, desensitisation and graded exposure. Cats are presented to the feared stimulus / situation at the same time as being presented with a pleasant stimulus or being relaxed by massage. Operant conditioning techniques of reinforcement and shaping can help cats to relearn responses to stressors. These techniques can be combined easily with other therapies or greater efficacy.


A variety of methods is often the most effective. The environment can be changed, but sometimes the cat has learned the stress response so well that it can remain even when the stressor is removed. Cats can vary in their response to some of these methods and therefore it may be necessary to trial a variety of them to find what works for your cat. Some techniques, particularly the tactile ones of massage and t-touch are very useful for human-cat bonding and can also be relaxing for the human practitioner. Cats are intelligent and sensitive beings, and respond to the situation in the household, picking up tension and anxiety in their humans. Therefore, management of our own anxiety and stress is integral to minimising the stress felt by our feline friends.

By Rita Bruche

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Colorado Springs

Common Feline Health Concerns

Mixed Breed Health Concerns

Non-purebred cats are usually referred to as mixed breeds, but these cats are not “mutts” or mixes of different breeds. All of the characteristics found in purebreds are actually derived from mixed breed cats, which are actually the most authentic or “pure” breed.
Historians now believe that all domesticated cats, which first appeared in ancient Egypt, once had tabby coats. And since all cats carry these ancestral tabby genes, all domestic cats are still genetically tabbies. The cat breeds that don’t look like tabbies simply carry other types of genes that prevent the tabby coat pattern from appearing. This helps to explain the enormous variety of colors and patterns found in cats today.

Breed Related Health Concerns

Every cat breed carries a distinct set of genetic advantages and health risk factors. The most common diseases found in mixed breeds, as well as problems that can affect all breeds, both mixed and pure, are listed below. Hopefully, your cat will not face these problems. However, early detection and preventive healthcare can make all the difference in helping your cat live a longer, happier life.

adultKitten (birth to 1 year)

  • Behavior problems
  • Diarrhea
  • External parasites
  • Eye infections
  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
  • Upper respiratory tract infections

Adult (1 to 6 years)

  • Cat fight abscess
  • Dental disease
  • Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Liver disease
  • seniorObesity

Senior (7 years and older)

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Kidney disease


For specific information of these diseases go to:

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Colorado Springs

Declawing – From a Cat

Hey Einstein,
Dear Einstein, I don’t know what happened. One minute I was having the time of my life ripping up the couch and the next minute I’m waking up and my feet feel like they’re on fire. It’s been a week and it doesn’t burn as bad now, but those huge paper pellets my humans put in my pan hurt my paws whenever I use it. I don’t want to go anywhere near that box cuz I’m afraid it will hurt me again. Now my humans scream at me because I use the soft carpet instead.
No Longer Claus, just de-Claus

Dear De-Claus,
People think that declawing a cat is just an extreme nail trim, but that’s like saying Marie Antoinette had a short haircut. It’s an amputation, or rather ten individual amputations all done at the same time. I wouldn’t do that to a dog. It’s the human equivalent of cutting off all ten of their fingers at the first knuckle. Let’s see your humans work a computer keyboard like that. Or they should try walking with the first knuckle of their toes cut off.

A cat named Descartes once said, “I scratch, therefore I am.” After all, scratching is a natural part of being a cat. If you were a wild cat you’d use your claws to protect yourself, and catch your dinner. You’d also use them to climb trees, mark your territory, stretch and keep your muscles toned.

We kitties are one of the few creatures designed to walk on our toes instead of the flat part of the foot. If part of the toes disappears, that changes the way we walk. A couple of vets told me they see more arthritis in declawed kitties. We can’t balance on things like we used to and we can’t grasp with our non-existent claws, so we fall a lot.

The truth is, your people may have opened a big can of worms, and I’m not talking about the intestinal kind. Many of the kitties dumped at shelters are there cuz of problems that developed after their claws were ripped out.

In one study a large percentage of the toeless kitties left at the pound peed outside the box. As you said, that clunky cat litter they made you use right after your surgery really smarts. (I don’t know many humans who have to walk on gravel with cuts on their feet every time they need to pee.) You figured out real quick that your litter box was causing the pain. To protect your paws you found a quiet little corner where you could relieve yourself pain-free. Some cats go back to the box when their feet stop hurting, others don’t.

Other cats change from Dr. Jeckyll to Mr. Hyde after the surgery. We kitties rely on our claws as our primary means of defense. Without claws to occasionally provide a gentle reminder to stop bothering you, you have no choice but to start with the big guns or rather the canines. Even a minor encounter with the three-year-old kid could end with a bite cuz there’s no gentler way to say, “Don’t pull my tail.” Kitties who enjoyed hanging out with their humans may hide after their toe-ectomy.

It’s too late to put your nails back where they belong, but your humans could help you with the box situation by putting you in a small room or a cage and substitute a cardboard box for your old litter pan. The different smell and appearance might help you overcome your fear of it. Dr. Elsey’s Precious Senior Cat Litter has a very soft and comfortable texture on sensitive toes and it has a special attractant that makes kitties want to pee in it. They should put your food and water on the opposite side of the room cuz nobody, especially a cat, wants to eat near their bathroom.

Your humans should have talked to me before they cut off your toes. I could have given them some advice about how to keep both your feet and their furniture in tact. It takes a multi-faceted approach by a determined human to redirect a determined furniture scratcher. Most kitties will abandon the furniture if their humans give something they’d like to scratch in a prominent location while making scratching the furniture un-fun, and by giving you regular exercise and something to do during the day.

Contrary to human assumption, cats aren’t really sharpening their claws when they scratch the furniture. We’re conditioning them by removing the outer sheath and bringing to bear that really sharp new nail underneath. We’re also getting some exercise while we’re marking the furniture as ours. Oh yeah, we scratch cuz it just feels good.

Because humans are olfactorially-challenged, they don’t realize that when kitties scratch something they’re marking it with scent from their paws. In nature, cats often scratch trees as a warning of danger to other cats. Other times, they’re depositing their scent and leaving visual marks—kind of like gang graffiti. It’s not unusual for declawed kitties to start using the other end to mark, which humans don’t like either.

While we kitties are yanking on the upholstery, we’re keeping our bodies toned. If your people had ever taken time to watch you scratch, they might have noticed that you work every muscle group. I’ve observed that some of our humans could use a little of that same kind of toning.
The most important thing to consider when humans buy cat furniture is it must be heavy enough to support climbing and stretching. When we’re working toward those hard bodies, we don’t want a scratcher that wobbles. We need something that’s going to stay put no matter how much energy we put into it. After all, when your humans go to the gym, they avoid machines that totter. If you sink your claws into a post and it tips, you’ll say “Hasta la vista, baby.” A scratching post is a waste of money unless it stands at least thirty inches and has a heavy, stable base.

Kitties need an acceptable tree substitute. Planting a small forest in the living room would certainly give a cat incentive to abandon the sofa. And while green may be in, that may be more green than most décors can stand. A log with the bark still attached gives kitty the feel of the real thing. And despite their size, kitties also love cardboard scratchers.

If kitty’s giving a sturdy scratcher the cold shoulder, he may not like the way it feels. After all, cats have texture preferences. If a kitty isn’t into carpet, he might like sisal (rope). Others prefer wood or bark, others like fabrics with knobby, looser weaves, still others go after cardboard.
There’s a lot of bad information out there about how to get a kitty to use a scratching post or pad. Humans shouldn’t grab him and put his paws on the officially-approved scratcher to show him. After being manhandled, any self-respecting kitty’s going to say, “That ain’t happening.” Humans are more likely to entice cooperative scratching by running their own fingernails across the scratcher. Kitty’s going to think, “Oh, they’re scratching it; it must be good.” Any cat tree, post or pad should be spiked with catnip. And give him a treat every time he uses it.

A Realtor will tell you, one of the most important selling features of any a house is location. So the humans should put the post right next to the cat’s favorite couch. Once he begins using the scratching post on a regular basis, they can move it a few inches a day in the direction where they want it to rest, preferably in a high profile spot.

Humans have to take time to make your old scratching grounds unattractive. If it’s no longer fun, you’ll abandon it for something more satisfying. Since cats hate touching sticky stuff, double-sided tape like Sticky Paws (which is non-toxic and made especially for upholstery) makes the site un-fun. For really determined scratchers some humans use the adhesive in tandem with spray repellents. Humans think of the sprays as a magical force field like on the Enterprise, but they’re not. They have to constantly be reapplied.

A handful of kitties lose their toes cuz of scratching of the human kind. Kitty might attack hands and ankles cuz he’s got too much predatory energy. Sometimes scratching or biting humans is a habit that’s the human’s fault. It’s cute to let a six-week old kitten take a swipe at you. Not so much when he’s two years old and 10 pounds with machete-sharp claws. So smart humans won’t let a kitty think it’s okay to swat no matter his age.

Kitties may scratch toddlers because the kid won’t leave him alone. Shame on the parents for allowing the kid to torment the cat. Kitty should have lots of high up places where they can escape a little tail puller. While there’s a rug rat learning curve, kids need to be taught early on feline manners. When a cat doesn’t want to be held, a cat doesn’t want to be held. Until kids can be taught feline etiquette, your humans should have kept your claws trimmed. Sometime in flesh-ripping situations, nail caps can help, but owners will have to pay the vet for the pet-icure if kitty doesn’t tolerate nail trimming well.

Some cats get into interior re-design when they’re stressed or bored, which is an occupational hazard of the indoor kitty. In the wild kitties sleep 16 hours a day, but when we’re working, we’re really working. We climb trees, sprint after mice, leap for birds, and scratch up bark. We may not be punching a clock, but that’s a lot of work. A strictly indoor cat scratches furniture, stalks human feet, and climbs the drapes—activities similar to what he would be doing in the wild.

Humans can cut down on aggressive boredom and furniture shredding by getting a toy like DaBird ( and playing like crazy for 10 minutes twice a day. People often say, “Oh, my cat has toys.” But we need toys that do everything a live mouse or bird does. The only thing that can fill that need is a real mouse (filled with parasites) or a human with a really cool toy. When your human are away at work, they can put your kibble in a treat ball so you have to push it around to eat. That way you’d be focusing on getting your food (like a wild cat would) and you’d have less for mischief.

A decent scratching post, along with praise and treats for good behavior, would have had you eating right out of human’s hands.

De-Claude, I hope your people can help you become friends with your litter box again. If they’re patient and give you a chance, I bet you and your litter box and your humans can all live in harmony.

Ask Einstein: “Declaw”- Advice Column
Sourced from: Dusty Rainbolt’s Cat Einstein

why not to declaw the cat

Declawing – From a Vet

If you are considering declawing your cat, please read this. It will only take a moment, and it will give you valuable information to help you in your decision.

First, you should know that declawing is pretty much an American thing, it’s something people do for their own convenience without realizing what actually happens to their beloved cat. In England declawing is termed “inhumane” and “unnecessary mutilation.” I agree. In many European countries it is illegal. I applaud their attitude.

Before you make the decision to declaw your cat, there are some important facts you should know. Declawing is not like a manicure. It is serious surgery. Your cat’s claw is not a toenail. It is actually closely adhered to the bone. So closely adhered that to remove the claw, the last bone of your the cat’s claw has to be removed. Declawing is actually an amputation of the last joint of your cat’s “toes”. When you envision that, it becomes clear why declawing is not a humane act. It is a painful surgery, with a painful recovery period. And remember that during the time of recuperation from the surgery your cat would still have to use its feet to walk, jump, and scratch in its litter box regardless of the pain it is experiencing. Wheelchairs and bedpans are not an option for a cat.

No cat lover would doubt that cats–whose senses are much keener than ours–suffer pain. They may, however, hide it better. Not only are they proud, they instinctively know that they are at risk when in a weakened position, and by nature will attempt to hide it. But make no mistake. This is not a surgery to be taken lightly.

Your cat’s body is perfectly designed to give it the grace, agility and beauty that is unique to felines. Its claws are an important part of this design. Amputating the important part of their anatomy that contains the claws drastically alters the conformation of their feet. The cat is also deprived of its primary means of defense, leaving it prey to predators if it ever escapes to the outdoors.

The anatomy of the feline claw must be understood before one can appreciate the severity of declawing. The cat’s claw is not a nail as is a human fingernail, it is part of the last bone (distal phalanx) in the cat’s toe.

I have also had people tell me that their cat’s personality changed after being declawed. Although, the medical community does not recognize this as potential side effect.

Okay, so now you realize that declawing is too drastic a solution, but you’re still concerned about keeping your household furnishings intact. Is there an acceptable solution? Happily, the answer is yes. A big, joyful, humane YES! Actually there are several. The following website “Cat Scratching Solutions” provides many solutions as well as and insight into the psychology of why cats scratch.

by Dr. Christianne Schelling, Copyright 1998 – 2009 All Rights Reserved