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Should I Microchip My Indoor Cat?

Q: Dear Nora,
I found a young cat in a parking lot last week and I’m going to keep her. She has an appointment to get spayed next week and my veterinarian has suggested that I get her microchipped at the same time, while she is already under anesthesia. She’s going to be an indoor-only cat so I don’t know if microchipping is necessary. What are your thoughts on microchipping indoor-only animals?

A: Microchipping is a great idea, whether or not you ever intend for your cat to be outside. If this is your first cat you may not know this yet but… cats are really sneaky. We slip unnoticed through open doors, we push out the screens from windows, we convince your unsuspecting houseguests that we are outside cats so they feel like they’re doing a good deed when they hold the door open for us. If we want to get out, we will. It’s just a matter of time. If or when your cat does find her way outside, a microchip will identify her if she is found and taken to a shelter or veterinarian’s office. A microchipped cat is MUCH more likely to find her way back home.

Your veterinarian’s suggestion of doing the procedure while your cat is already under anesthesia for spaying is also a great idea. Your cat won’t even know it happened!

Should I Adopt a Kitten?

Q: Dear Nora,
I want to liven up my home, so I have been thinking about getting a kitten. The thing is that I work a lot and my schedule is unpredictable. But kittens are so cute and I really want one! What do you think?

A: You’re right. Kittens are cute. You know what else kittens are? Little, wild, mischievous, needy, balls of energy that need near-constant attention. My mom worked from home when I was a kitten and even then I was barely tameable. Kittens are fun, and they can be sweet (Sometimes. After they are done being monsters), but it’s not fair to the kitten if you don’t have a lot of time to play and nurture. Instead, consider adopting a cat who is over a year old. She won’t require as much attention and will still be excited about playtime and snuggles when you’re home from work. Plus, older cats have a harder time getting adopted from shelters, so you’d really be saving a life. Contact your local shelter, meet a few, and see who you click with.

Is My Sleepy Cat Depressed?

Q: Dear Nora,
My cat sleeps a lot. Sometimes it seems like he sleeps almost all day. Is this normal? I’m worried that he’s depressed.

A: Day-long catnaps aren’t necessarily a sign of depression. On average, a healthy cat can sleep between 15-20 hours per day! Despite being domesticated, cats are still wild at heart and are hard-wired to sleep during the day and hunt at night. Your sleepy cat may very well be up chasing and pouncing at night while you are sound asleep. Try interesting him in some daytime hunting and playing with a wand toy or laser pointer.

Excessive sleeping may signal depression, though, if this is new behavior. Be on the lookout for lethargy, a change in personality or grooming habits, hiding, or aggression. Try this checklist from CatChannel.com to help you determine if your cat may be depressed. If you suspect depression or your cat’s behavior has changed, see your vet for options.

Can Cats Have Seasonal Allergies?

Q: Dear Nora,
My cat’s eyes have been watery and itchy lately. It has occurred to me that maybe she has allergies, since it’s springtime and I’ve recently opened up all the windows. Can cats have springtime allergies?

A: Yes, cats can have environmental allergies just like humans. Watery and itchy eyes are the most common allergy symptoms cats experience. If your cat has seasonal allergies you may also notice nasal congestion, sneezing, and red eyes.

Seasonal allergies themselves aren’t that big of a deal and can be easily solved with a vet-prescribed anti-histamine. The problem is that it can be hard for many people to tell the difference between the symptoms of an allergy and an eye infection. Eye infections can get out of control fast and cause long-term or permanent damage, so I’d suggest speaking to your vet if you aren’t sure. You vet will have suggestions and treatments to help your cat feel better, no matter the cause of the watery eyes.

Why Does My Cat Poop on My Bed When I’m Away?

Q: Dear Nora,
My 2-year old cat is generally great about using the litter box. We never have any problems except for when we go away for more than two nights. Although we have someone check on him and feed him while we are gone, he has always pooped on our bed when we return. We have three litter boxes in the house and this never happens when we are home. I’m sure he’s just upset with us, but how to I get him to stop?

A: The problem isn’t that your cat is upset with you. Cats don’t think like that. Your cat is likely either just stressed because you are gone and he doesn’t understand why you aren’t there, or there is something missing from his routine while you’re away (attention, playtime, etc.) and he’s making a statement about feeling neglected.

To deal with stress, I am a big fan of the Feliway plug-in (it comes in a spray version too. But the plug-in would be best if you’re out of town for a few days). Feliway mimics the pheromones that cats create when they are happy and content. It helps cats stay calm and comfortable even when their environments change.

I see that you have people check on him and feed him while you’re gone, but how long are they sticking around? Is he getting proper attention? Cuddles? Play time? Consider hiring an actual professional pet sitter who will be sure to give him the proper amount of time and affection while you’re away.

Should I Shave My Cat This Summer?

Q: Dear Nora,

My cat has fairly long hair and has been pretty sluggish over the past few days from the heat. I’m considering trimming his hair, but I don’t know if it’s the best thing to do. I’ve been reading that cats regulate their own body heat naturally and I don’t want to mess with that. Thoughts? And, what are other things I can do to help my cat be less miserable in the summer?

A: I agree that your cat’s coat is actually helping him stay cooler in the heat. Not only that, but his coat will also help him stay safe from the sun if he likes to lounge in windows like I do. His coat can protect him from sunburns and skin cancer. There are a few things you can do instead though.

  • If your cat has an exceptionally thick coat you can brush him more regularly to remove extra detached fur. You can also use a thinning tool such as the Furmintaor. Careful with that thing though; you can easily and quickly overdo it.
  • Sounds like it’s time to get an air conditioner. If you don’t want or can’t have a window unit, consider a smaller, more portable version. Also, close the curtains or blinds during the day. Simply blocking out the sun can make such a difference.
  • If your cat tends to sleep in the same bed or area during the day, point a fan in his direction.
  • Make sure there is plenty of fresh water available. Hydration is key. I really like it when my mama puts ice cubes in my water during the summer.
  • I’m not a fan of this myself, but my sister Pippi used to really like being rubbed down with a washcloth soaked in cool water. She looked like a drowned rat, but it kept her cool.

In extreme heat conditions, keep an eye out for symptoms that may indicate that your cat is overheating—heavy panting, vomiting, staggering and drooling, skin that’s hot to the touch, and glazed eyes. Rush your cat to his veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, as they can result in death.

P.S. If you disregard my advice and decide to shave your cat anyway, please hire a professional to do it. Cat skin is very thin and can be easily nicked by someone who isn’t trained.

The Winners Have Been Chosen!

productThanks to all of the cat mamas who entered the Dear Nora/Tidy Cats Mother’s Day Giveaway this week! We heard so many great stories, and your wild, dedicated love to your furkids is crystal clear. You all deserve a big Mother’s Day surprise, but in the end we could only choose ten. The winners were notified by email this morning and will be receiving their special gift (including Tidy Cats litter, of course) later this week.

Keep watching Dear Nora for more Tidy Cats news and giveaways! As Tidy Cats Insiders, we’ve got some exciting announcements up our sleeves!

Happy Mother’s Day, Cat Mamas! Let Us Celebrate You with Special Gifts!

TidyCatsLogo-newHappy Mother’s Day, cat mamas! I’m excited to announce that we’ve partnered with Tidy Cats to bring Dear Nora readers an exclusive inside scoop on Tidy Cats news and new products!

This Mother’s Day, you deserve to be pampered! We’d like to show our appreciation for all of the love and devotion you give so freely to your furkids by offering you a chance to win some special gifts and, of course, Tidy Cats litter!

There are a lot of great reasons to love being a cat mom. My mama says her favorite part has been watching me grow into a big, healthy, strong-willed cat from the scared, tiny kitten I was when she found me.

What’s your favorite part of being a cat mama? Let us know in the comments for a chance to win special gifts and Tidy Cats litter.

Act fast—ten winners will be chosen and notified on May 6th!

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Is it Safe For My Cat to Drink Out of the Toilet?

Pyoko
Pyoko

Q: Dear Nora,
I catch my cat drinking out of the toilet a few times a week. He hasn’t gotten sick from it, but it squicks me out to think about. Why does he think toilet water is so delicious, and could he get sick from it?

A: Cats lick their own butts several times every single day. Drinking toilet water is the least of your problems if you’re scared of germs. That being said, if your cat’s love for toilet water is causing you real distress, you can simply get into the habit of putting the toilet lid down when you’re done doing your business.

Your cat is likely attracted to the water in the toilet because it’s cold, fresh, and not stagnant. Are you refreshing his water bowl enough? An easy solution is to invest in a watering fountain. That way your cat will always have access to fresh moving water and won’t be so bummed to see the toilet lid down.

What Kind of Dishes are Safest For My Cat?

Carlito
Carlito

Q: Dear Nora,
I recently adopted a new cat and want to give him the best life I can. I’m confused about all of the options for food and water dishes. When it comes to my cat’s dishes and safety, is there really a difference between plastic and stainless steel?

A: First of all, congrats to you and your cat!

When it comes to materials for your cat’s dishes, there is in fact a difference between plastic and stainless steel, and the stainless steel is worth paying a bit more for. Plastic gathers nicks and scratches easily. They may be too small for you to even notice, but those scratches can become breeding grounds for bacteria. Plus, many cats are allergic to plastic and can break out with small bumps on their chins.

Most veterinarians recommend stainless steel bowls because they are easy to clean, unbreakable, and don’t harbor bacteria. Ceramic dishes are also a good choice as long as you make sure they have a lead-free glaze. If the cost hike is prohibitive, you can often find stainless steel bowls at thrift stores for a fraction of the cost.