Kitty Advice 

We hope that you will find this kitty advice page helpful in handling some common cat issues.  If your cat or kitten is exhibiting unwanted behaviors, keep in mind some behaviors can be corrected with some minor adjustments once you understand the language your kitty is trying to communicate. 

Common cat concerns and advice on how to tackle the solution:

Much like humans, cats can have allergies too.  Cats can be allergic to food, the environment, and fleas.  They can have seasonal allergies.  If your cat is experiencing allergies, they may have the following symptoms:  itchy runny eyes, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, ear infections, excessive scratching, and grooming of their fur.  Their skin may look red or dry and you might notice skin sores, scabbing, and loss of fur. 

There are many different kinds of cat allergies and treatment for cat allergies will depend on your cat’s unique situation, so we recommend taking the cat to the veterinarian for an evaluation.  To help disguise the root cause and provide the best treatment, the vet will review your cat’s medical history and complete a physical exam. 

Cat allergy testing might be recommended with either a blood test or a skin test.  For a blood test, the vet will take a sample of the cat’s blood and send it to a lab for evaluation. For a skin test, small injections are given to the cat just under their skin. If your cat is allergic to a particular substance, a hive will often appear on their skin.  After the vet determines what is causing the allergic reaction, they will prescribe the right solution.  Your vet may give your cat a daily prescription, over-the-counter medications, or dietary supplements. 

If you or a family member is suffering from cat allergies click here for helpful suggestions on how to manage allergy symptoms in humans.

Here are some suggestions to help manage your cat’s environment:

  • Keep your home environment clean of dirt and dust
  • Use an allergen-proof vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency particulate arresting (HEPA) filter. 
  • A central air cleaner and adding filters on the vents can help prevent allergy particles from circulating through the house. 
  • Wash your cat’s bedding regularly. 
  • Clean the litter box often and use a dust-free cat litter.  We recommend using Dr. Elsey’s litter.
  • If you can bathe your cat with an allergy-approved shampoo made for cats to help relieve their itching.
  • Use a veterinarian-approved flea and tick control.  Do not bathe your cat after applying.  Please see the topic below:  fleas and other parasites for additional information.  
  • Cat bowls should be made of ceramic, porcelain, or stainless steel. Stay away from anything plastic because it retains food odor and bacteria that can cause cat acne.
  • Cats with food allergies will benefit from being fed a hydrolyzed diet while doing a food trial to evaluate whether food allergies are contributing to a cat’s itch.  Hydrolyzed diets are prescription pet foods that cannot elicit an allergic response because the proteins in the food have been broken up into such small pieces (amino acids) that the immune system cannot recognize them as foreign proteins, so they don’t trigger the allergic reaction.  See the additional resources below.

Additional Resources

Here are some additional materials on this topic:

Allergies in Cats – VCA Animal Hospital

Why Your Cat is Itchy and What You Can Do – PetMD

What Can I Give My Cat for Allergies? – BeChewy

Food Allergies in Cats – VCA Animal Hospital

Cats are in the middle of the prey-predator food chain so a lot of wild still exists in your cat and sometimes it comes out in different ways.  Knowing the reasons behind your cat’s aggressive outbursts is the best way to understand their behavior and help them adjust. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

If your kitty is biting your hands and ankles, remember cats are natural-born predators.   They want to practice their attack skills on a moving object that is why it is important to actively play with your kitty using toys so that they learn to bite appropriate objects.  Do not use your hands to play with your kitten and always redirect biting to an appropriate toy.   If a kitty is not provided with appropriate prey options like dangling a toy to mimic a bird in flight or tossing a stuffed mouse for them to fetch, then the only potential prey they will see moving around is you!  If there is only one kitty in the home, we suggest getting another kitty for a playmate.

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

Cats can get stressed just like humans.  There are times when your feline friend could use a little zen so you both find some peace of mind.

Tips and products to calm a cat who is scared or stressed:

  • If the kitty is receptive, give the kitty a relaxing massage for about 5 to 10 minutes on areas when they like to be petted such as on the head, cheeks, neck, back, and base of the tail. Gentle pressure using your fingertips in a delicate gentle circular movement. The checks, behind the ears, and the chin are the most delicate areas.
  • Catnip can have a sedative effect on some cats if it’s eaten rather than sniffed.  Plenty of owners choose to give their cat some catnip as a way to reduce anxiety or stress and encourage their cat to relax.
  • Music can have a calming effect on cats and they can be soothed by listening to classical music.  Recent research has shown that music made especially for cats can help calm their nerves.  Check out the music from iCalmPet.
  • Cat TV is also another great way to calm your cat.
  • Cat calming diffusers like the Feliway plug-in diffuser can help with cat anxiety by emitting a synthetic version of the feline facial pheromones. Cat calming diffusers like the Feliway MultiCat are specifically made to help calm multi-cat households and promote harmony amongst cats. These diffusers use a synthetic version of the pheromone given off by mother cats while nursing kittens.  One diffuser will cover up to 700 square feet.  Refills can last up to 30 days, and then should be replaced.
  • The pheromones in cat calming collars such as Sentry cat calming collar mimic those that mother cats produce to calm and soothe kittens, and they can also help to calm adult cats. Please keep in mind with cat collars, some owners may have difficulty putting a collar on their cat.
  • The Thundershirt for cats is a kitty-sized compression vest that applies gentle, constant pressure, much like swaddling a baby.  This pressure can calm anxious and stressed-out cats. It is important to know how much your cat can be handled and is amenable to wearing clothes when considering purchasing this item.
  • A great on-the-go solution that will leave your cat feeling calm when traveling is using a pheromone like Feliway Wipes.
  • Rescue Remedy is an all-natural drop that can be placed directly in your cat’s water or on the paws, nose, or ears.
  • Giving your cat some treats can have a calming effect, especially a cat calming treat like Composure cat chews.

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

Thinking about bringing a kitten into your life, then make it a double especially if there is no younger resident cat waiting at home.  The companionship two kittens can provide each other helps minimize future behavior problems stemming from boredom or separation anxiety. Kittens will burn off energy chasing, pouncing, and playing with each other which gives them an outlet to direct their kitten crazies meaning less energy to engage in destructive behaviors.  They will also learn social behavior from each other and the bond between two cats who have grown up together becomes very strong and special over time. 

It’s a myth that cats are solitary animals and do not crave companionship.  Just like dogs, cats have a social structure.  Most cats benefit and thrive when they have a feline buddy.  If you have an older cat, we strongly suggest getting two younger kittens who will be able to match each other’s energy level; otherwise, you will annoy an older cat who is unable to keep up with the crazy antics of a younger kitten.  

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

Our cats and kittens are fully vetted at the time of adoption to their new homes.   They have been dewormed, and treated for fleas. We recommend to continue using Revolution, a monthly topical solution that is placed on the cat’s skin at the base of the neck. Revolution kills fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching. It also prevents heartworm disease, ear mites, and intestinal hookworms. Revolution Plus does the same thing but with the added ability to eliminate ticks. These products no longer require a vet’s prescription and can be purchased on Pet Bucket. Please make sure to select the right one according to your cat’s weight.

Fleas are so easy to get, especially during the warmer months, and takes time to get rid of them. One flea can lay 50 eggs in one day! If fleas are in the home your flea treatment will need to kill the entire life cycle of the fleas, otherwise; fleas will come back once the eggs hatch. We recommend using Fleabusters Rx which is an odorless powder to use on the carpets in your home. It also kills roaches and ants. Please remove the cat when treating the area.

If a cat swallows an infected flea while grooming, the tapeworm larva will develop into an adult tapeworm.  Any cat with fleas will most likely have a tapeworm infestation and will need a deworming medication called an anthelmintic that may be given as a tablet or an injection.

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

How do you get rid of fleas on an adult cat? (A Vet Explains) – All About Cats

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Cats – PetMD

Flea Control in Cats – VCA Animal Hospital

Tapeworm Infection in Cats – VCA Animal Hospital

How to Get Rid of Fleas in the House Fast? – How to House

Hairballs can develop due to your cat’s healthy and fastidious grooming routine. Some cat hair can pass through the cat’s digestive tract with no issues but some of it can stay in the stomach forming a hairball and the only way to get rid of it is for the cat to vomit up the hairball.

While you don’t need to worry about the occasional hairball, there are some rare cases where hairballs can present dangers if the clump of fur in the cat’s stomach becomes too large to pass or gets lodged in their digestive tract creating a blockage. In those rare cases, surgery may be required to remove the hairball.

Please be sure to contact your veterinarian, if you notice your cat exhibiting the following symptoms:

  • Ongoing vomiting, gagging, retching, or hacking without ever producing a hairball
  • Vomits phlegm or bile
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bloated, hard abdomen
  • Having trouble defecating

Here are some suggestions to help manage hairballs:

  • Use a hairball product or laxative like Vetoquinol Laxatone or a petroleum alternative like Nutri-Vet.
  • Brush your cat regularly to remove excess fur and reduce the amount of cat hair they will ingest.  After brushing your cat, use unscented and hypoallergenic baby wipes or a damp paper towel to wipe down your cat’s coat.  The damp paper towel or baby wipe will remove any remaining loose fur after your grooming session. Please see the shedding topic for more information on grooming tools.
  • Use cat food or cat treats that are formulated for hairballs.
  • Increase cat’s water intake to make sure they stay well-hydrated.
  • Incorporating oil into your cat’s diet can help lubricate the digestive tract, making it easier for cat hair to pass through naturally. Add a teaspoon of olive oil to your cat’s food once a week. Provide your cat with a small amount of canned tuna or sardines occasionally or you can add fish oil to your cat’s food.

Additional Resources

Here are some additional materials on this topic:

A cat may stop using the litter box for a multitude of reasons. 

  1. Rule out a medical issue by taking the cat to the veterinarian to ensure there is no medical reason why the cat is not using the litter box.
  2. Once the medical issue is ruled out, then take a look at the cat’s environment.  Have there been any changes such as a new pet, new home, or new relationship?  Any changes to the litter box like a different litter, type of litter box, or even the location of the litter box?  Are there any threatening animals coming around preventing your cat from using the litter box, this may include animals in view from outside a window.

Helpful tips on proper cat litter box setup: 

  • One litter box per cat plus one is recommended.  The litter box size should be 1 1/2 times the length of the adult cat, from the tip of the nose to the end of the rump.  Most standard litter boxes are not large enough.  A concrete mixing tub or a large storage container are good options, especially for cats that like to pee up the sides.  
  • A soft clay litter that is clumping unscented is preferred.  Avoid using plastic liners or litter additives.  Maintain a 2-3″ level of litter in the litter box.  
  • The litter box should be scooped twice a day.   If using a scoopable litter, the litter box should be emptied, scrubbed, and refilled with fresh litter once a month. If using non-clumping litter, the litter box should be scrubbed and refilled weekly.  Replace any litter box that is worn or scratched as needed.
  • Multiple litter box placement throughout the house is essential in a multiple cat home.  Make sure the cat is not being bullied or feeling threatened while using the litter box and if so, that cat will need an easy escape route from the other kitty. Do not place the litter box in front of a window if there are cats outside upsetting the resident cat. 
  • Dogs love to eat cat poop and these acts can have disastrous behavioral backlashes from the cat.  Not only is it the worst invasion of a cat’s territory but if the dog happens to nose into the litter box while the cat is using it, that will constitute an ambush.  These acts will lead to a lack of confidence in using the litter box and a preference to use someplace else so they will have a better view to see the dog coming.  If you have a dog, solve this problem by putting the litter box behind a baby gate with a small cat door or a Door Buddy that only the cat can access and the dog cannot.  Remember that an ambush can also occur outside the cat door so please train your dog not to lie in wait for the cat to come out of the litter box area. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

A cat’s natural circadian rhythm is to hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom and sleep.   Experts believe that putting the cat on a feeding schedule and making sure to feed their last meal an hour and a half before your bedtime will help them adjust to your schedule.  We suggest playing with your kitty daily using interactive toys most especially right before bedtime so your kitty will be tired and more likely to sleep at night.  Make sure to rotate the toys so that they do not become bored with them.  Put a toy away and reintroduce it in a few weeks. Not all toys have to be bought as there are a number of great homemade cat toys that you can make using toilet paper rolls, wine corks, or food puzzles.  As a precaution, please do not leave out any feather toys, strings, or rubber hair bands unattended that the kitty could swallow.  We have seen our share of expensive emergency vet surgery that could have been avoided. If there is only one kitty in the home, we also suggest getting another kitty for a playmate. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos on this topic:

It is not uncommon for cats to get overstimulated while being petted and act out in aggression. Every cat’s tolerance level for cuddling and receiving pets from their humans is different. Some cats may be more sensitive to touch and have a lower threshold for contact than others.

Most cats like being pet on the back of their head and under their chin.  Some cats enjoy long strokes down their back towards their tail.  The hair follicles on a cat’s belly are very sensitive to touch.  Stroking the belly area may provide too much tactile sensation which is why a petting session can go from docile to hostile.

Figure out your cat’s preferred petting boundaries by trying each area briefly and watching your kitty’s reaction to determine whether they enjoy that spot being touched. When your cat’s overstimulation threshold kicks in, please make sure to respect your kitty by no longer petting them in that area. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

A cat’s natural instinct is to scratch.  They will scratch to clean the exterior sheath of their nails, remove cuticles, and sharpen their claws.  It is so important to provide your kitty with appropriate items to scratch.  Think of it as a feline manicure!  

Tips and products to help with scratching:

  • Cats love scratching items made of carpet, sisal rope, and cardboard.  Sprinkle catnip to attract them to scratch.  Most cats love silvervine catnip or use a catnip spray like KONG.
  • Get a tall sturdy scratching post to give the kitty a good stretch while they are scratching and make sure it is not wobbly when the cat rubs against it.  We recommend SmartCat Pioneer scratching post, Animals Favorite cat scratching post, Trixie Baza cat tree, and Go Pet Club cat tree.  Fundamentally Feline makes their own scratching posts which are amazing! 
  • Make sure to trim the kitty’s nails using nail clippers every 2-4 weeks so they do not get stuck in items.  
  • Many cats don’t like to scratch sofa fabric made of microfiber, faux suede, or chantelle fabric.  We like using Sticky Paws on items you don’t want kitty to scratch and couch guard self-adhesive protector pads.  Double-sided carpet tape like YYXLIFE can work on areas where they are scratching plus it does not hurt furniture or rugs.
  • Take a spray bottle and fill it with orange peels and water. Let the peels soak. Spray it on anything that you want the cat to stay away from as citrus is a natural cat repellent.  Be sure to test out a small area on any fabric to make sure it does not stain.
  • As a last resort, try Soft Claws which are rubber tips that can be applied to the cat’s nails by a vet or groomer.  They last a few weeks before needing to be replaced.

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

Shedding is how a cat will replenish its fur and keep it in good condition. Cats in the wild generally shed their coats twice a year. During spring to lose the heavy winter undercoat and during the fall in preparation for the “grow-in” of the next winter’s undercoat. Shedding in cats is affected by light availability. The year-round artificial light inside our homes has altered the way that an indoor cat will shed. You may not see heavy shedding twice a year but rather a lighter more constant shedding all year long. 

Helpful tips on how to control cat shedding are listed below:

  • Feed your cat a high-quality digestible protein and fewer carbohydrates.  Canned food is highly recommended over dry food for better nutrients and moisture content.  Keeping your cat hydrated will mean less hair falling out.
  • Adding omega-3 fatty acids to the cat’s diet is helpful in keeping a cat’s skin and fur healthy. It will also help to reduce cat dander.  Cats that have healthy fur coats tend to shed less.  Omega fatty acids can be found in wet cat foods that contain salmon oil or flax oil.  You can also buy fish oil like Welactin which can be added to the food or given internally.
  • Regular brushing will remove loose fur which will help keep the excess fur from being ingested by the cat as well as off the furniture.  Check out these grooming tools: FURminator, brush, comb, and rake (removing mats and tangles).  After brushing your cat, use unscented and hypoallergenic baby wipes or a damp paper towel to wipe down your cat’s coat. The damp paper towel or baby wipe will remove any remaining loose fur after your grooming session. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

What Type of Brush Is Best for My Cat? – Katie Finlay

Seven Steps to Stop Cat Shedding – Dr. Andrew Jones

Let’s Talk about SHEDDING – Cat Lady Fitness

Spraying (urine marking) is a cat’s way of communicating to other cats or new people to back off without a direct confrontation. Spraying is urinating against vertical surfaces while urinating involves squatting and urinating on horizontal surfaces.  Most often spraying is caused by underlying stress or anxiety when the cat feels threatened to defend a territory, to attract a mate, or discomfort from a medical issue.

A cat may spray for a multitude of reasons. 

  1. Rule out a medical issue by taking the cat to the veterinarian to ensure there is no medical reason why the cat is spraying.
  2. Once the medical issue is ruled out, then take a look at the cat’s environment.  Have there been any changes such as a new pet, new home, or new relationship?  Any changes to the litter box like a different litter, location of the litter box, or even the type of litter box?  Are there any outdoor cats coming around the house that would make your cat feel the need to mark their territory?

Additional Resources

Here are some great videos and materials on this topic:

How to Stop Your Cat Spraying Everywhere! Our Pets Health

Cat Spraying: Why Cats Do It and How to Stop It – PetMD

Why Cats Spray – Pam Johnson-Bennett

Can Male Cats Still Spray After Being Neutered? Animal Path

A cat’s tail is an excellent way to gain additional insight into the current feelings of your kitty and it is easy to decipher with just a little observation. 

Additional Resources

Here are some great materials on this topic:

Cats will vomit on occasion even the healthiest cat. Cat vomiting is common and, in many cases, there is no cause for alarm. The additional resources below will help identify the reasons why a cat vomits, the treatments available, and when it is best to take the cat to the vet.

If your cat gags and throws up whatever it has recently ingested more frequently than once per week or shows signs of lethargy, weakness, decreased appetite, blood in the vomitus, increased thirst, increased or decreased urination, or simultaneous diarrhea, we recommend your cat be evaluated by a veterinarian immediately. Diagnosing the cause of frequent vomiting in cats begins with a thorough history from the owner, a physical examination of the cat, bloodwork, and fecal examination to rule out possible toxicities, parasites, and metabolic diseases. If everything checks out normal, x-rays and ultrasound may be recommended to help find masses, foreign objects, and other gastrointestinal tract problems. If these are not fruitful, a biopsy of the intestinal tract to rule out cancer or inflammatory bowel disease may be pursued.

Additional Resources

Here are some additional materials on this topic:

Additional Resources

If you are experiencing cat behavior problems that you have unsuccessfully tried to resolve, consider the following: 

Get advice from a cat behavior consultant.  Many of them have great online resources offering a wide range of educational videos and tutorials to help you better understand your kitty and help correct unwanted behaviors.   

Here are some recommended books on feline behavior:   

Here are some great cat podcasts you should check out:

  • Nine Lives with Dr. Kat – You have heard all the cat myths. Do cats have nine lives? You have watched your cat do quirky things. Why does your cat follow you to the bathroom? We live with these tiny predators, yet we do not truly know them. What do they really need to eat? How do their minds work? Cats are still an enigma. How do you keep your cat fit and healthy? If it is related to cats, Dr. Kat will relate it to you! Together we will explore all aspects of the ‘cat-o-sphere’ and learn everything we can about cats from all kinds of cats-perts and me, Dr. Kat! Let’s laugh and learn and make cat lives better together on Nine Lives with Dr. Kat.
  • Cat Cafe – A fun and informative series hosted by two of the world’s leading feline experts, Dr. Susan Little and Dr. Jolle Kirpensteijn. In each episode, the hosts chat with a guest about all things cats, from kitten care to feline health to cat behavior.
  • Cat Talk Radio – All about cats, what makes them do what they do, why they occasionally misbehave, and what cat guardians can do to fix it. We educate you on how to modify unwanted cat behavior by providing the proper environment and stimulation, enabling cats to express their natural behaviors in ways that are preferable for both humans and cats. You will learn how to have fun with your cat, fascinating cat facts, and be inspired to try new things, which will lead to a happier relationship and closer bond with your cat.
  • In a Purrfect World – Figure out what your cat is thinking from author and blogger Pamela Merritt, from the Way of Cats. Learn how to build their Perfect World, because understanding their nature is the key to both affection and training. Discover that “a happy cat is an obedient cat” and learn how to make the right gestures, like Cat Kisses, the Fist of Friendship, the Drape, and the Shift. Each show discusses a cat challenge, shares pertinent Human Tricks for better communication, and explores ways we can advance the cat/human relationship. After thirty years of cat rescue experience, there’s plenty of stories to tell.
  • The Purrrcast – Hosts Sara Lyer and Steven Ray Morris talk everything cat.  The hosts will share all their experiences about cat breeds, give up-to-date advice on cat health, and much more.
  • The Community Cats Podcast – Host Stacy LeBaron is on a mission to provide education, information, and dialogue that will create a supportive environment that empowers people to help cats in their community.  You will definitely like this podcast if you want to help cats in our world.
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