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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.

Why Does My Cat Stick Her Butt In My Face?

Q: Dear Nora,
Over the past year, my cat has become a bit more grumpy than usual. She spends about 90% of her day in bed sleeping on my pillow on my side of the bed. She begrudgingly moves at night so I can get into bed, only to return later to insist on sharing the pillow with me. The struggle to share the bed can be annoying but the part that gets real bad is her insistence to put her butt directly in my face. Not just pointed in my direction, but RIGHT IN MY FACE. Does she just hate me?

A: Actually, given the information I have, I’d say your cat loves you quite a lot.

First off all, she is choosing your pillow because she likes the smell of you. You represent comfort and security to her.

As for the butt thing, I know it’s hard to understand how a butt in your face can equal love. But cat language is often subtle, and therefore misunderstood. Cats have glands on several parts of their body—their cheeks, their paws, and yes, even near their butts at the base of the tail. They use these glands to mark things that are safe and comfortable. In this case, you. When your cat does this, she’s basically saying you are part of her colony.

Try putting your old stinky pillowcase on another pillow and placing it next to the pillow you want to sleep on at night. You may be able to at least convince her to scoot over a but to make sleeping more comfortable.

How Can I Keep My Cat From Sleeping In My Plant?

Q: Dear Nora,

My cats have started sleeping in the potted plants on my balcony, despite having many comfy spots to sleep elsewhere. How can I get them to stop crushing my lovely balcony plants?

A: The best way to get cats to do anything is to figure out what’s so desirable to them about whatever they are doing, then offer them something even more desirable. In this case, I suspect there are three things that are desirable to your cats about the plants:

  1. They are outside in the fresh air, where all the birds and insects and squirrels are.
  2. They are outside in the sunshine. We all know that’s the best place to take a nap.
  3. We love dirt and plants– napping in them, gnawing on them, whatever.

Given these assumptions, I’d suggest two things. First, try creating a few potted plants just for them. These should include soil, sunshine, and air. Try planting something like catgrass in the pot instead of something that will get crushed. Place these pots beside your crushed ones, so your cat is able to see clearly why the new pot is a better option. Second, make your other plants less desirable by topping the soil with a layer of rocks. Water will still drain into them, but it won’t be as cozy to your cats.

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?


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?


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.

Keep Your Animal Friends Safe on the 4th of July

More animals go missing on the 4th of July than any other day of the year. The loud sounds of fireworks and crowds of people can cause distress in your animal friend, and cause them to be disoriented if outside. Here are some helpful tips to keep your friends safe:

:: Keep them inside, and stay with them if possible.

:: Make them feel safe by providing access to a safe hiding space– under your bed, in a closet, etc. Check in every once in a while to give love and treats.

:: Dull the noise by closing your windows and playing music or watching a movie.

:: Go about business as usual. Your kitties will use you as a barometer to determine how stressed out they should be. They’ll be more comfortable if you are upbeat, confident, and calm.

::  Give treats. Generously.

Battery Operated Toys

simoneQ: Dear Nora,
What do you think of battery operated interactive toys? My job keeps me out of my home for many hours every day, and I’m searching for ways to keep my cat stimulated while I’m away.

A: Cats are natural hunters and need that instinct to be stimulated somehow. If you don’t have the time to have interactive play sessions with your cats on a regular basis, battery operated toys are a great alternative! My favorite is the Motion-activated Mouse Chase Cat Toy. There is a mouse inside for me to swat at AND it has a scratch pad!

While you’re searching for toys, don’t rule out the ones that aren’t battery operated. I know lots of cats who love the Stimulo Activity Food Center. The Stimulo was technically designed to slow down eating to help cats with weight and digestion problems, but it’s also a puzzle that will keep your cat entertained for hours. The Turbo Scratcher is also great. It’s such a hit at my house that we have TWO! I like to bat the ball around, then pounce on it! Plus the scratch pad in the middle keeps my claws nice and sharp. Sometimes my mom sprinkles catnip into the scratch pad for some extra fun.

Choose My Future Cat


Q: Dear Nora,
My girlfriend and I are moving in together and are thinking about adopting a feline at some point. We’d like you to pick the breed for us. The challenge is that she is somewhat allergic to cats, so it needs to be as hypoallergenic as possible. Any ideas?

A: People who are allergic to cats are specifically allergic to a protein in feline saliva, called Fel d 1. Basically, we lick our coats while grooming, the allergen in our saliva dries and becomes airborne, and that is what causes your girlfriend to have a reaction. There are a few factors that affect how much Fel d 1 a cat produces.

:: Female cats produce less than males
:: Neutered males produce less than intact ones
:: Light-colored cats tend to produce less than dark-colored ones

There are several breeds, as well, that produce fewer allergens: Oriental Shorthair, Javanese, Devon Rex, Balinese, Sphynx, Cornish Rex, and Siberian. Thought not completely “hypoallergenic”, these breeds have lived successfully with sensitive people.

As a rescue cat myself, I can’t in good conscience recommend a breed from this list, as you’d generally need to visit a breeder to find one. I hope, instead, that you will take the time to visit shelters and hold out until a allergy-friendly cat comes to you in a more compassionate way.