Monday, September 19, 2016

Vaccinations for Cats

Well, we managed to get five of the six felines to the veterinarian this past week. Pierre, our elder statesman, goes to the vet in the spring with Shadow, the dog. The five who went this week include our three outdoor boys, Rocky or former feral feline, and Genghis Khan, our indoor-only boy.

Shy Boy in the garden

The Importance of a Rabies Vaccination

Among all the vaccines for cats available through your veterinarian, the one that should be non-negotiables is the rabies vaccine. Even if your cat is, like Genghis, an indoor-only cat, he needs a rabies vaccination.

Rabies vaccinations are likely required in your locality. Most counties require that dogs, cats and other animals are vaccinated against rabies. In our area, rabies is common - and it's scary. One bite and your pet could be infected.

Even if your cat is indoor only, he should get a rabies vaccination. You never know when a cat will accidentally slip out the door  or find a way outside. All it takes is one mistake, one accident, and you're suddenly facing the hardship of a cat who may have rabies. No one wants that!

In most states, the rabies vaccine is inexpensive - around $10. There's a new 3-year version that's fantastic. One shot and your pet is protected for three years. Ask your pet's veterinarian about rabies vaccinations or look for a local clinic offering very low-cost vaccines.

Vaccinations for Cats

The following vaccinations are available for cats:
  • Rabies: A must for all cats.
  • FBRCP: This protects against rhinotracheitis (R), calici (C), feline distemper or panleukopenia (P).
  • Feline Leukemia - FeLV. Feline leukemia is a dreadful disease. We lost our cat, Raz, to this scourge many years ago. 

There is an FIV or Feline HIV vaccines, but according to our pet's vet, it is temporarily unavailable because the company who makes the vaccine was sold and they aren't producing it yet. 

How often your pet should receive vaccines depends on what his vet says. At a minimum, your pet should go to the veterinarian once a year for a health check and basic vaccines. Preventative medicine is so important to your pet's health!

For more information on vaccines for cats, please see:

Friday, May 20, 2016

June is National Pet Preparedness Month

Sometimes I think there's a "month" for everything. Women's History, Black History, Heart Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness...and now, Pet Preparedness.

What the heck is pet preparedness? It's making sure your beloved furry friend is taken care of in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

Know where to find your cats quickly. Genghis hides in his "room", the bedroom we put him into at night to keep him away from the other cats because he fights with them. So I know where to look for him if he is frightened.

Back in February, we had a close call with a tornado. Tornadoes aren't usual in my part of Virginia. That day we had bad thunderstorms predicted, and my dog was hiding more than usual under my desk. She's more accurate than any meteorologist, so I knew we were in for a bad storm.

But I hadn't counted on THAT bad a storm. I'll never forget the sound of the tornado hitting the power lines on the highway nearby.

Just a few minutes before the tornado roared close by, as the storm clouds gathered and lightning sizzled the air, I called the outdoor cats inside. I quickly did a head count; all six boys were accounted for. I put Genghis into his room so we could find him easily, and made sure I knew where the rest of my boys were.

Later on, I wondered if I would have had enough time to get them all into cat carriers if I had to. We have two average sized carriers, one extra large carrier for Pierre, and a soft-sided dog crate that I use for the outdoor kitties. It might not have been enough time to make sure that everyone was safe.

With this in mind, I started thinking about an emergency preparedness plan for my animals. In the event of a bad storm, a forest fire, or something worse, will you know what to do to keep your pets safe?

When the tornado struck a local town, I had already secured my outdoor cats inside the house. I could have evacuated quickly because I knew where to find them!

The American Humane Society recommends putting together a pet emergency kit. I have my own ideas on a cat owner's emergency kit and emergency preparations.

As part of my emergency preparations, I recommend that all cat owners:

  • Know where you cat's carrier is at all times. If you don't have a cat carrier, GET ONE. In an emergency, you don't want to worry about carrying your cat with you. You want her safe. A carrier can help you lift her into cars, take her onto public transportation, and keep her safe during transit.
  • Make a file for your cat's veterinary records. Keep it someplace where you can grab it quickly if you need it. Include your cat's vaccination records and rabies certification.
  • Into that folder, put hard copies and a thumb drive with electronic copies of your cat's picture. If she gets lost, you can make flyers up no matter where you are!
  • Know where there are pet-friendly hotels or chains in your area. Print out a list. If the power goes out or cell phone service is cut and you can't access the net, you can still find the info quickly.
  • A small litter box. A smaller box that's kept empty can be quickly snatched up and put into the car with your car. Keep a small bag of her regular litter with the box.
  • Food bowl and water bowl. I keep a small plastic container filled with my cat's food in the kitchen because I store food in the closet (the feline pigs figured a way to gnaw through the bags...I have to keep the food enclosed in a closet for their own safety or they'd be 100 pounds each if they had their way.) I could easily grab the food bowl if I needed it.
I don't put collars on my cats. I know, bad cat mama. I've tried it but they grab the ends of the collars and drag each other around and I almost had a strangled cat thanks to his overly exuberant brother who got a claw snagged in the collar. If I did, however, I'd make sure that the collars had disks or tags with my name and address on them. 

In an emergency, you want to grab and go as quickly as possible to get to a place of safety. That includes your pets, too. Having your cat's necessary items on hand can save her life. Take a few minutes now to pull together your cat's emergency kit for National Pet Preparedness month.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Help Cat Behavior Researchers Understand Feline Behavior Better

Researchers at PennVet, the veterinary school at Penn State University, want your help to compile research on feline behavior. They're looking for people to participate in FeBARQ - the Feline Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire.

What Is FeBARQ?

Most cats live inside people's homes. Most people own one cay, maybe two. It's hard for researchers to conduct studies on pet cats because they are spread out in individual homes. And I suspect that when the researchers arrive for their studies, armed with clipboards and smelling of Science with a capital S, the cats dive under the bed and refuse to cooperate. It's a cat-thing.

Enter FeBARQ! It's a study conducted by the Penn Vet hospital intended to help researchers and veterinary scientists uncover what makes cats tick...or the mysteries of normal cat behavior. Yeah, good luck with that one.

Seriously, the scientists have developed a 100-question assessment that asks a lot of questions about kitty behavior. It includes questions about playtime, fear of dogs, purring, trainability and much more. Their goal is to compile a large-scale research study that will help them better understand the average behaviors of cats so that veterinary professionals, trainers, animal shelters and others can better evaluate and work with cats.

Genghis participated in the study.

What the FeBARQ Is Like

I enrolled Genghis Khan kitty into the FeBARQ study because among our cats, I find him to be the most quirky. He loves people; he shows no fear among strangers. He plays with children in our home. He likes to play with the other cats, but he can be aggressive. He's got so much energy he doesn't know what to do with himself. He sounded like the perfect specimen for the study.

After answering a brief series of questions about Genghis such as his age, gender, neutering history and history in our family, the survey questions appeared. There were 100 questions which took about 15 minutes to answer. I found the questions were easy to understand and there was an option to check if the question did not apply to my cat. For instance, Genghis is an indoor-only cat, so questions about chasing dogs on the street or bringing home prey weren't applicable.

At the end of the survey, you can click a button and see how your cat stacks up to the average for his breed. I wasn't surprised at how much higher on the socialization scale he scored, but I was surprised at how he scored on aggression. I wouldn't peg him as an 'aggressive' cat but when compared to the average, he does show a higher than normal aggression level.

I enjoyed participating in the study and liked knowing a little more about my cat's personality. If you'd like to enroll in the FeBARQ study, visit PennVet. They welcome pet owners' participation for a limited time only, then the study will be open only to trainers, veterinarians, and cat rescuers.

Visit the FeBARQ study page here: FeBARQ from PennVet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Petting-Induced Aggression in Cats

When petting a cat, do not activate the kill cycle,

Does your cat get overstimulated when you pet her? Mine do.

P is for petting a cat on the A to Z blogging challenge!

They look so innocent, don't they? Yet today, I'm sporting an enormous claw-gash-bruise on my leg thanks to Pierre's hind foot digging into my thigh when he got pissed off at me.

Cats never let you forget that they're still partially wild. It is said that a dog, even if raised without human companionship, can become tame, but a cat will always remain feral. I'm not sure that is true, but I do know that too much petting can turn even the friendliest cat into a shredding maniac if you're not careful.

There's actually a name for this condition: petting-induced aggression.  According to the Animal Humane Society, cats have different thresholds for permitting human touch. Some will let you pet them forever. Others lash out almost immediately.

I guess it's the same with people. Some of us don't mind hugs from others, while some people back off like you've got the plague if you want to hug or touch them.

As for our cats, we need to learn to read their body language. Cats do give you a warning sign before the attack. I didn't heed Pierre's warning signs - pinned ears, constricted pupils, even a few growls. Learn how to read your cat's body language to prevent those petting-induced aggression attacks.

Lastly, the furry belly. Ah, the furry belly. I love it when cats roll over and show you their furry belly. Some people say that this is a sign of trust. Cats are predators, and the belly is the area where an attack can be deadly. Exposing the furry belly is a sign of trust.

Others say that it is a sign of impending aggression because it frees all four claws for an attack. With Pierre, that's very true. He loves to shred you when you reach over to touch his belly. He was raised by a man, and he loves my husband John who enjoys rough-housing with him. I don't appreciate it, but I do know that to touch the belly is sudden death for your hands.

Petting-induced aggression includes biting, clawing, and growling when the cat has had enough of being petted. The real key to avoiding injuries is to learning your cat's unique vocabulary and respecting it.

Now if only we can get cats to respect humans.....

P is for petting-induced aggression. A to Z blogging challenge, of which I've been quite lax but I keep plugging away at it...

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Japan's Cat Island

My cats in the garden. We have six cats. On Japan's Cat Island, cats outnumber people six to one!

Japan has an island dedicated to cats. Yes, you read that correctly. Japan's cat island, Aoshima, is one mile long and home to hundreds of cats. Cats out number people on the island 6 to 1. The cats arrived on ships many years ago, and decided to stay. Today, the people of Aoshima feed and care for the cats who seem to thrive on the island.

J is for Japan's Cat Island on today's A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Check out this video of Cat Island. I think I want to move there.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Best Information Websites for Cat Owners

If you're a cat owner, these websites are great to have handy. I is for information on the A to Z blog challenge and today I am sharing with you my favorite cat information sites!

Pierre would like you to note these websites.

Best Cat Information Websites

  • The Cat Site: A huge website dedicate just to cats! The Cat Site contains fun stuff like forums and funny pictures but also informative articles on health, grooming, behavior and more.
  • Web MD Pets: Web MD is my go-to source for health information. Well, there's a pet companion site with a sub-category just for cats. It's written and reviewed by veterinarians and presents all things health-related for our pets.
  • Cornell Veterinary: Cornell's website was the first place I turned when I needed information on feline leukemia when our cat, Raz, was diagnosed. It is written by one of the top veterinarian schools in the nation. It includes very up to date information on many issues pertaining to the health and well-being of cats.
  • Cats at  So I'm a little biased; Franny Syufy, site writer and moderator, featured Monsieur Pierre as her cat of the week in March. But putting that side, it's a terrific website for cat owners lovingly curated by a cat fancier just like myself. She has a friendly, informative writing style that's easy to read yet always interested. Recommended!

So what's your favorite website for cat info? Is it on the list? What should I add? 

I is for INFORMATION on the A to Z blog challenge.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Common Health Problems in Cats

Cats suffer from many different health problems, and it would be impossible to try to write one comprehensive blog post about all of the potential health problems cats can suffer. But knowing which health problems are the most common for cats can help a concerned pet owner understand what's going on with her pet. Please talk to your cat's veterinarian for specific diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Three Common Health Problems in Cats

  1. Feline lower urinary tract disease: (FLUTD): I wish I understood why cats are prone to urinary problems. I thought it was merely a problem with boy cats, but other research I've done seems to indicate that both male and female cats can get urinary problems. Males tend to be prone to FLUTD, especially neutered cats. One of the veterinarians who treats our cats recommended leaving the males intact as long as possible before neutering; he speculated that a smaller, less developed urinary system might make passage of crystals more difficult. He did say it was pure speculation and anecdotal evidence, but we tried to wait until our boys were at least 8 months old before neutering. Anyway, what is FLUTD? It's a constellation of urinary diseases among cats that can cause them to have difficult urinary, form blood in the urine, or at worst case, make them unable to urinate at all. Anytime your cat has blood in the urine or can't urinate, call your vet immediately. It's an emergency. A burst bladder can be fatal, and cats can be in agony before they show signs of problems. Most problems are caused by crystals forming in the urine. These mineral crystals irritate the lining of the bladder and the ureter and can cause bloody urine. Bladder and kidney stones can also form, causing difficult urinating for cats. 
  2. Vomiting: Cats vomit. A lot. At least my cats do. Most of the time it is harmless. Cats have a short digestive tract from the mouth to the stomach, and because it is horizontal while they eat, the food can regurgitate if they eat too quickly or drink rapidly after eating. (This is what happens to our Pierre, so we have to give him smaller portions than the other kitties to keep him from being a glutton and throwing it all back up.) Cats will also vomit up hairballs, grass, and foreign substances they eat, not to mention bones, feathers and indigestible parts of prey they've caught if you have an outdoor cat. So when should you call the vet? Because vomiting can also be a sign of diabetes, urinary infections, or ingesting something poisonous, it's a good idea to call the vet when your cat vomits a lot or you see other symptoms. Whenever you aren't sure, bring your cat to the vet. Drooling, lethargy, hiding and other symptoms mean something is wrong beyond the usual hairballs and calls for a vet visit.
  3. Parasites: Cats who spend time outdoors often contract parasites. It's nasty, and no one wants to think about parasites, but tapeworms and hook worms are two of the most common parasites in cats. Tapeworms are transmitted from fleas, so if you treat your cats for fleas you can prevent tapeworms. To tell if your cat has a tapeworm, look for signs such as weight loss and vomiting. Small grains of what looks like rice may be in the feces or near the anus; these are segments from active tapeworms. Your best recourse if you suspect a tapeworm is to take a fecal sample to your vet for a reading, and have your vet treat any parasites you find. Your vet will also know more about local parasite problems and will help plan a proactive treatment for your pets. For example, in our part of Virginia, ticks and fleas are an awful menace, especially ticks. Tapeworms and hook worms are also prevalent. He checks for these parasites and proactively worms our cats at each visit. We also use a topical treatment to kill fleas and ticks, which greatly reduces their chance of getting these parasites and tapeworms. It's all part of good cat ownership and keeping your cats healthy.
Pierre and Whitey outside

Remember, to keep your cat healthy, make your pet's veterinarian your partner. Talk to your cat's vet if you have any problems, questions or concerns about your cat's health.

H is for Health and Common Health Problems in Cats on the A to Z blog challenge!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Routine Grooming Tasks for Cats

Do you groom your cats? Cats are self-grooming. They do groom themselves constantly, bathing themselves after eating, sleeping or even sometimes just moving around! But there are certain grooming steps you should take as a responsible cat owner.
Bath time for Groucho and Genghis? No. They were just hungry and waiting for me in the bathroom!

Grooming Your Cat: Basics

Domestic short hair cats and similar breeds require very little grooming. The basics of good cat grooming include daily brushing and monthly nail trims.

Brushing a Cat
I like to use a special cat brush for my guys. The brush has long bristles with a knobbed, rounded end to keep them from pulling or pinching kitty's skin, and a very soft bristle brush on the opposite site.

I start brushing with the more open, knobbed bristle side first, especially on some of my cats with plush coats. Shy Boy sheds a lot, as does Pierre and Rocky, and they love the knobby brush! They come running to me when they see the brush because they love the attention.

Begin with long, soft strokes down the cat's back. Use only the soft sided brush on the face and belly, and go very gently on ticklish spots. If your cat starts biting the brush or otherwise squirming, time to stop. It's better to stop sooner rather than later when grooming your cat.

Nail Clipping
I've written about clipping claws this month. I give my kitties a pedicure once a month. We use a two-person method. I hold the cat using the scuff (clipnosis) method, while my husband uses human-type nail clippers on the extended claws. We have all of our cats used to the clippers now, but sometimes it takes a few tries to catch Pierre and get him to hold still for his toenail trims. He really hates it :(

Bathing a Cat
I do not bathe my cats. Some people believe in regular baths. My cats take dust baths. They often roll around in the rocks or gravel on the driveway. Most of the time it's because they're itchy from shedding. We treat our cats monthly with flea and tick medicine prescribed by their veterinarian, so they do not get flea baths.

Teeth Brushing
Most of the websites I looked at when researching how to groom a cat recommend brushing their teeth. Frankly, I value my life, so no, I'm not going to try to brush those chompers. If their vet ever says I have to brush their teeth, I will, but in the meantime I rely on dry food and annual vet visits to keep their dental health in order.

Professional Grooming
Long-haired cat breeds benefit from a trip to the professional pet grooming salon. A special comb, used to comb long, fluffy hair, can be used on Persians and other long-haired breeds to keep the coat tangle-free.

Do you groom your cat yourself, or do you use a professional groomer? Cats are really quite clean animals. Minimal grooming is required, but they do benefit from those brushing sessions.

G is for Grooming on the A to Z blog challenge today!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What Should You Feed Your Cats?

Feeding cats is a hot topic among cat fanciers...mostly because the cats themselves demand that we humans pay special attention to their dietary needs.

On today's A to Z blog challenge, "F" is for "feeding" or "food for felines." Let's dispels some myths and facts about feeding cats and discuss proper feline nutrition.
Even as a kitten, we fed Pierre a blend of wet and dry food, giving him a choice to eat what he liked.

Feeding Cats: What Should You Feed Cats?

Cats, according to the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine website, are obligate carnivores. An obligate carnivore means that their bodies are adapted to a strictly carnivorous or meat-based diet.

So you know all those ads you see for vegan cat food? Throw them out and ignore them. Your cat cannot be a vegan or vegetarian, so please don't impose your own value set on your pet. Cats are born to kill. Humans and even dogs are omnivorous, and humans can exist fine without meat, but cats cannot. Cats need meat. Period.

In their natural habitat, cats eat a variety of rodents, birds, reptiles and insects. Their diet consists primarily of high amounts of protein, some fat, and minimal carbohydrates. The best diet for cats mimics their natural diet as much as possible. Keep this in mind when shopping for cat food.

Cats also need water in their diet. Their natural diet provides them with water from fresh kills. Many cats are finicky about their water sources and do not drink enough. Those who are prone to bladder and urinary track problems, like my kitty Shy Boy, must actually drink even more water, so giving cats food that contains added water such as canned cat food is often a good idea.
Shy Boy suffers from urinary crystals, so he gets a medicated food recommended by his vet.

Wet Food or Dry Food?

There's a lot of debate about whether you should feed your cat wet food or dry food. Both are nutritious, and there are pros and cons to each.

  • Dry food is made from meat, poultry and fish meal and by products, with added fiber, some grains and fats, food coloring and flavor enhancers. It's mashed together and extruded into dried, bite sized pieces, often coated with flavorings to mimic tuna, beef or whatever your cat likes.  Some people feel that dried cat food keeps a cat's teeth clean. I've found research disputing this, so it's up to you whether or not you feed your cats dried food. It's easy to feed, keeps for a long time, and is nutritionally balanced. It is also less expensive. 

  • Canned cat food or wet cat food contains about 75 percent water and meat, fish or poultry plus byproducts. Some types include bits of greens like spinach, egg or cheese added. Some brands of cat food include liver and organ meats that cats would eat in the wild. While many canned cat food varieties are nutritionally complete, not all are, so read the labels to make sure that if you are feeding your cats primarily canned food it contains all of their vitamins, minerals and protein needs.

My own cats are all fed a blend of both dry and wet cat food. Five of the six love wet cat food the best, but Pierre is the holdout. If he had his way, it would be Friskies Griller's Blend dried cat food night, day and in between.

All of our cats receive either Friskies dried food (the indoor crew) or Nine Lives Plus Care for urinary health (the outdoor crew). The outdoor boys are brothers from the same litter, and two of them have had urinary issues. Shy Boy has ended up at the veterinarian's office several times with difficult urinating and blood in his urine, so she has him on a permanent medicated diet. The medication in the cat food keeps his urine pH at a level that prevents the formation of crystals, which he tends to get easily.  So far, knock wood, it's worked.

We also give the outdoor cats filtered water to remove as many of the minerals from our well water as we can. The vet said that this would also help Shy Boy, so it is what we do. The outdoor cats actually prefer to drink the most disgusting water they can find. Water from the bird bath, fountains, or the small lotus pond in the garden are all preferable to their sparkling filtered water. Go figure.

We feed a blend of dried and wet food, about 75 percent dry and 25 percent wet. For treats, Genghis Khan kitty gets to lick tuna fish cans. He's our only cat who loves tuna. Whitey loves milk and toast, so he gets a few crumbs and a lick of milk when he can grab it. As for Pierre, well my spoiled kitty loves ice cream. He only takes a few licks, really tiny laps, but he always has to share my cone or dish with me. Vanilla all the way for my boy!

Do Cat Food Brands Really Matter?

Does the brand of cat food really matter? Yes, and no. Cats do seem to have a fondness or a preference for one brand or another. We've tried our boys on other flavors and brands of dried food, and they do have preferences, so we stick with them.

Many of the special, medical brands like Hill's Science Diet and Purina's medicated foods are very high in nutrients as well as specially blended for medical conditions. If your cat's veterinarian recommends a specific diet, as ours did with Shy Boy, take her advice. A good diet is so important for feline health!

A healthy diet keeps your cats active and strong! Shy Boy and his brother, Groucho.

F Is for Feeding Felines in the A to Z Blog Challenge

This post is part of the A to Z blog challenge....F is for Feline Feeding! I hope you enjoyed your visit to Six Cats and Counting. The cats hope you come back again someday!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Easy Cat Toy Pattern

I managed to miss the letter D yesterday in the A to Z blogging challenge, but nothing could stop me from the letter E...for this easy cat toy pattern! I have made this cat toy and I can say for certain that it is cat-tested and approved. If you'd like to make this easy cat toy, please feel free to download the pattern.

Catnip mouse made from a scrap of calico, felt, and dried catnip I grew on our farm.

Easy Cat Toy Pattern

This pattern is basically a heart-shaped piece of fabric.

Good fabrics to use are denim (I cut up old pairs of jeans to make cat toys) or cotton fabric. If using cotton fabric and making a catnip mouse, your cat may chew on the toy. Genghis Khan kitty loves to chew on the calico mouse I made for him to get to the nip.

To sew a cat toy mouse:

  1. Print the attached cat toy mouse pattern.
  2. Cut a swatch of fabric about 6 inches x 6 inches or however large you want to make your mouse.
  3. Fold the fabric in half.
  4. Fold the pattern in half along the dotted line.
  5. Pin the dotted line to the fold in the fabric.
  6. Cut out the half-heart.
  7. Remove pins and pattern.
  8. Open up the full heart-shaped piece of fabric.
  9. The pointy end will be the mouse's nose, the round end its bottom.
  10. Fold fabric inside-out. Pin it back into the half-heart shape.
  11. Sew from the pointed edge to halfway on the round end.
  12. Turn it inside out so that the right side of the fabric is on the outside.
  13. Use a chopstick or a knitting needle to push the fabric into shape.
  14. Stuff with catnip or cotton batting.
  15. Cut a small section of yarn for the mouse's tail.
  16. Pin the tail into place.
  17. Sew the end of the mouse shut by hand, sewing the tail into place.

To make the mouse's ears:

  1. Use a nickel or quarter coin as a pattern.
  2. Cut two circles of felt.
  3. Fold in half.
  4. Sew into place on the mouse's head with the open side facing forward or out.

To make the nose, whiskers and eyes:

  1. Draw them on with a black Sharpie marker.

How I made the mouse shown here:

I fold the fabric in half and use the fold line as the bottom of the toy. The toy is then sewn inside out, with a small hole left to stuff the mouse with either cotton batting or cat nip. I turn the toy inside out, using a stick to push the fabric into place, stuff the toy, sew it shut, and sow on two half-moon circles of felt for the ears. The tail is a piece of yarn with a knot in the end that is sown into the base of the mouse's bottom. Lastly, I use a black magic marker to draw on eyes, nose and whiskers.

Cats can sometimes open up the toys, but if you stuff them with catnip, there's no harm done except for a bit of a mess.


Here is Genghis playing with his mouse!

Download the cat toy pattern here: Easy Cat Toy Pattern.

A to Z Blog Challenge: E is for EASY Cat Toy Pattern

Monday, April 4, 2016

Clipping a Cat's Claws

Clipping a cat's claws should be part of your cat's regular care. Do you clip your kitty's claws? It's not easy, but it can be done.

Clipping a Cat's Claws

I shared pictures, above, of Monsieur Pierre. He is our oldest cat and the second cat that I have ever owned.

He's also an absolute couch potato...most of the time. When he hears the drawer open where we keep the kitty toenail clippers (people-sized clippers we reserve just for the cats) he turns into a demonic, crazy, fire breathing, bucking bronco cat.

All of this stems from when he was a mere 8 weeks old. His tiny little claws were so sharp that we were all getting scratched. We asked our veterinarian if we could clip Pierre's claws, and Dr. Gates said, "Sure, absolutely!"  So I held Pierre and Hubby snipped the nails. Hubby had years of practice clipping cat claws from our old, dearly departed cat, Baloo. Baloo was a black cat and clipping her jet black nails was difficult but Hubby always did a fine job.

That is, until Pierre.

Then the unthinkable happened. Tiny kitten Pierre squirmed...and we clipped one tiny back toenail too short. One. Tiny. Toe. It bled. It bled a little, but we stopped the bleeding.

You would have thought we tried to amputate his entire leg.

Since then, Pierre has never, ever forgotten the moment. Eight years have passed. No matter. It could have been yesterday.

In his mind, toenails are never to be clipped. End of story.

Or...not quite.

Clipnosis and Nail Clipping

I shared the video I found of a technique called clipnosis. Clipnosis is actually using a cat's natural instinct to go limp when the mother cat grabs them in her mouth by the scruff of the kitten's neck. You simply scruff the cat, or hold them firmly by the scruff. In 9 out of 10 cats, the cat goes limp.

Pierre, by the way, is that 1 out of 10 who doesn't.

With all six of our cats, I am in charge of scruffing. We bring the cat to the bed and lay him on his side. I firmly but gently scruff him. Some of the cats, I also use my hand to hold the front shoulder forward. This immobilizes kitty and lets Hubby get to work with the nail clippers. 

We extend the claws by pressing the foot pad gently under each nail. The claw is extended, and we can snip the sharp points off.

We only trim the indoor boys' nails. The outdoor cats need all the sharp little claws they can get, and even though they have plenty of time inside, they do not shred anything when they come in. Our furniture has suffered from the occasional scratch from a back claw, but it's to be expected with six cats and counting.

It's important to clip a cat's nails to keep them from growing too long. Too-long claws not only scratch you and your furniture, but can actually catch on carpet or upholstery. A ripped off toenail isn't pretty and can lead to infection.

How to Clip a Cat's Claws: Video

This blog post is part of the A to Z blogging challenge for April. C is for Clipping Claws!

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Birds and Cats

What is it with birds and cats? From the cartoons to real life, we see that our feathered friends are sooo very attractive to cats. Why?

B is for Birds: Birds and Cats

As part of the A to Z blogging challenge, today's letter is: B. My topic today is Birds and Cats.

Cat's Fascination with Birds

It's a little after eight in the morning, and already I've chased Groucho off of the bluebird house in our backyard. The man who built our home (and who we consider a friend now) gave us a lovely handmade bluebird house as a gift after we moved in. Another friend gave me a bluebird house, and my husband built me several. We placed them around the yard and lovingly watched our new tenants.

Until this happened:

At first, we thought it was funny. Then one morning I looked out of my kitchen window and saw to my horror that Groucho, our tiniest cat, was on top of the bird house like his brother Whitey above. Except that Grouch leaned over and very casually fished into the birdhouse, snagging a baby bluebird which he was drawing very carefully from the nest.

I raced outside and managed to unhook the terrified bird from his claws and shove it back into the nest. Scruffed, cuffed and I hope chastened, Groucho was marched into the house, where he eagerly watched the birdhouse from the windows for another hour.

He's still a menace to the birds. He tried it again this morning, except that the nest was empty.

The scene of the crime....

Birds and Cats

According to the Perfect Paws website, all cats are born with a hunting instinct. Whether that instinct is strong or weak depends on the individual cat. It doesn't matter how well-fed or domesticated the cat. Motion, such as the fluttering of wings or the scampering of rodent feet, attracts the attention of cats.

Once their attention is caught, cats go into the stalk-pounce-grab mode. The stalking mode is familiar to pet parents everywhere. The cat's pupils dilate, and it goes into the hunter's crouch. The hindquarters may wiggle as the cat's muscles twitch in anticipation of the pounce. (Known to us in this house as: wiggle butt.)

Then, when the moment is right, the cat springs into action. The pouncing, grab, kill motion completes the cycle whether a cat is stalking a bird, a mouse, or his favorite toy.

Preventing Bird Deaths from Cats

The only way that I know of to prevent cats from killing songbirds in the garden is to put a collar with a bell on the cat. If you do put a collar on your cat, make sure it is the 'breakaway' kind that if caught on a branch or fence, stretches or opens so as not to harm your cat. The bell tinkles as the cat moves, warning birds of impending doom.

Now this is all well and good, but I find I can't take my own advice. The last time I tried to put collars on the outdoor cats, Shy Boy, Groucho's brother, thought it was great fun to grab the end of the collar tab and pull. I caught him just in time as he was choking his brother with Groucho's own collar. So much for collars. Whitey is like Houdini, wriggling out of his collar seconds after it's on and Shy Shy wants to kill his brother in play. So I'm safer without them.

I am home most of the time. I work from home, and so when I spy Groucho stalking his prey, or climbing on top of the bluebird house the way Whitey did above, I can catch him and bring him indoors. Usually after an hour or so he settles down for a nap on my bed and forgets all about the bluebirds.

Until next time.

Cats and birds...what's your experience? Leave a comment below!

Groucho, adorable but a confirmed bird hunter.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Attitude: Why People Think Cats are Aloof

Why do cats have the reputation for being aloof? Today marks the start of the infamous "A to Z" blogging challenge. I've entered Six Cats and Counting into the challenge. Each day, excluding Sundays, I have to post an article starting with the letter "A" and ending with "Z" on April 30th.

Today...attitude and aloof, two words that even cat lovers acknowledge are often appended to their favorite felines.

But why do people perceive cats as aloof? Are they really so aloof, or are they just harder to understand than dogs?

Whitey's expression may seem aloof...

...until you get to know his crazy personality!

Are Cats Really Aloof?

Leave it to the Japanese, known worldwide for their special love of cats, to do some research to actually prove that cats aren't as aloof as people make them out to be.

  • Atsuko Saito, co-researcher at the University of Tokyo, explained that while cats were never trained to follow commands the way that dogs were, they do indeed recognize and acknowledge their owners' voices.

  • Saito studied cats' response to recordings of their owners' voices and strangers' voices. The results indicate that cats do indeed recognize us.

    But do they love us? A dog's face is easy to read. When Shadow, my German shepherd, sees me after I've been gone for a few hours, the joy practically radiates from her dark eyes. She trembles from nose to tail, her whole body wagging.

    Yet standing behind her on line to greet me at the back door is usually Pierre and Rocky, my two indoor house cats. They don't shake with joy, but their ears are pricked forward, and they look interested in what I'm doing. It's as if they are more curious than happy to see me.

    Cats express themselves through the position of their ears. This is called orienting. They do not move their facial or body muscles in the same way that a dog can. Dogs can "smile" and express happiness through the mobile of their faces. Cats, on the other hand, lack similar flexibility, so we must look for other more subtle clues to determine whether or not they are interested and engaged in interactions with us.

    Another clue as to whether or not cats like and respond to us is pupil dilation. According to Discovery, pupil dilation reflects extreme excitement in cats. It may be a reaction to a hunting instinct or it may be happiness at seeing their humans come home from work.

    Cats Evolved to Hide Emotions

    Another fascinating insight from Dr. Saito's research is the reminder that cats and dogs evolved differently. Dogs, like wolves and coyotes, are pack animals. They hunt in packs, and wolves have been known to protect pack members and care for them.

    Cats, on the other hand,  evolved as solitary hunters. Solitary hunters evolved characteristics that hide their emotions. While a wolf or a dog might whimper to get the attention of pack members, cats have no one to come to their aid in the wild. Therefore they evolved to be quiet, and hide their emotions. This is why when cats are sick, they often hide under furniture or mask their symptoms, making it hard for owners to understand what's wrong. Because they are predators, they know instinctively that any sign of weakness can make they themselves the prey.

    Does My Cat Love Me?

    Cats are social animals. Their social structure differs from other animals, but they do like company. Given Dr. Saito's research and other observations by cat behaviorists, I'd venture to say that they do form strong bonds with their human caregivers.

    I don't know if your cat loves you, but I'm convinced that my cats do love me and care about me. In their own way, of course. But something has to explain why, in this house, when it's just me home alone with the two indoor cats and the dog, all three animals will sit practically on top of me. They could go anywhere in the house. They have many soft beds and couches to choose from, but they choose to sleep on top of the hard surface of my work desk just to be close to me.

    If that's not love, then what is?

    Thursday, March 24, 2016

    Watch Out for Easter Dangers to Cats

    Photo credit: pippalou from

    Watch out for Easter dangers to cats! There are many things that can be dangerous to your cat at Easter.  Be on the alert for:

    • Lilies: All parts of the lily flower are poisonous to cats. The Pet Poison Helpline lists the Easter lily as "moderate to severe" poison for kitties. Unfortunately, there is also no antidote! So if your cat ingests Easter lilies it can be a huge problem. I don't plant these in the garden or bring them inside. If you own cats, be aware of the problem of Easter lily poisoning.
    • Easter basket grass: The fake plastic grass, like the stuff in the photo above, is so enticing to cats. They love nothing better than to pull it out of the basket and chomp on it as if it were real grass. Unfortunately, it either 1) passes through the digestive tract, dangling from the nether regions like an extra tail covered in nasty stuff that will mar your house with disgustingness or 2) tangle in the cat's stomach, causing a giant hairball to end all hairballs 3) tangle in the intestines, causing kitty massive amounts of pain and causing you extensive pain in the wallet as you pay for emergency surgery. Paper grass isn't much better, but cats seem to eat it less. Instead of lining your child's Easter basket with plastic Easter grass, try pieces of green fabric or green napkins folded into fans. You can also simply spread green or Easter patterned fabric in the bottom of the basket for a festive look that won't hurt your cats.
    • Small toys: Tiny fluffy stuffed chickens, fluffy bunny toys and the like are adorable. If they're big enough, the worst trouble your cat may get into is hauling them around the house (I have one cat that loves to grab stuffed animals, the bigger the better, and take them with him!). Smaller toys can become lodged in the cat's throat. 
    • Chocolate: Dogs are much more likely to eat chocolate than cats, but the sweet stuff is poison to both species, so be careful when keeping chocolate around the house. Keep it in cupboards or drawers that your pets haven't figured out how to open yet, and make sure that your children know not to feed chocolate to the pets.
    Easter is a beautiful spiritual holiday for Christians and a fun holiday for children of all faiths. Celebrate it, enjoy it, have a piece of chocolate, but keep those kitties safe!

    Friday, February 26, 2016

    Have You Heard of Clipnosis?

    Have you ever heard of clipnosis for cats? It's sort of like hypnosis - but with a binder clip. It's a humane and simple method of holdings cat still so that you have both hands free.

    Genghis Khan the binder clip. You'll see it again next nail clipping time.

    Sounds crazy. Sounds cruel. Actually, veterinarians at the Ohio State College of Veterinary Medicine tested the technique of using binder clips on the scruff of a cat's neck to get them to relax. They found in their examination that 30 out of 31 cats responded favorably to the clip technique than to other kinds of restraints. In fact, some cats would lie down and purr when they saw the clips coming!

    The idea is simple: the vets took a two inch binder clip, the same kind found around any home or office, and placed it on the scruff of the cat's neck. It's the same spot where a mother cat would hold her kittens to carry them.

    The vets speculate that the clip induces the same limp, totally relaxed state in adult cats overcomes kittens when Mom cat grabs them by the scruff. It's a simple automatic reflex that can save a kitten's life when the mother cat needs to move her babies out of harm's way. The same reflect can be harnessed in adult cats to simplify veterinary procedures or even help cats relax while their nails are clipped.

    I actually do "scruff" my cats during nail clipping. I place the cat on our bed, and grasp the scruff firmly but gently while John uses nail clippers to trim all of the nails on all four feet. It only takes a few seconds, but the person doing the clipping has to have a very steady hand. Once kitty is done, he's released. All of our cats scream and growl while we clip their nails, but it's all bluff. Once scruffed, they're calm as can be.

    It's good to know that my scruffing technique on the cats works with clipnosis!

    Here's a video showing a vet using a binder clip. Neat, isn't it?

    Cats are amazing!

    Monday, February 22, 2016

    Cats' Instinctive Behavior

    Cats' instinctive behaviors are fascinating. Why do some cats climb trees while others hide when they're frightened? Why do some run away and others stay? Watching my six cats has given me insights into what cats do...but I'd still love to know why.

    This morning around 6:30 we were awakened by the rumble of the propane delivery truck. I had called the company on Thursday for a delivery and told it would be made "Monday or Tuesday morning." Okay...but that's not necessarily 6:30 a.m. on Monday.

    Normally when we get deliveries of any kind, we get all of our outdoor kitties in. We have three boys, brothers, who live outside most of the year. They only come in when it's cold, snowy or icy. I don't like them outside when we get propane deliveries because these two shown in the picture above love to investigate delivery trucks. The plumber called us outside once to show us Groucho sitting in the driver's seat of his truck, paws up on the steering wheel as if he wanted to drive away. The plumber had left the window open on his pickup truck open. We've had both of them jump on top of visiting cars and trucks, and my nightmare situation is to have one of them hide inside a delivery van and disappear forever.


    This morning's delivery truck woke us up, so there wasn't time to get the cats into the house. But I knew exactly where they would go.

    • Groucho would dash up a tree, climbing perhaps 20-30 feet, and wait until the coast was clear, then carefully back his way down.
    • Shy Boy would hide, probably under the porch steps. He'd be the last to come out.
    • Whitey would run as far as he could, then crouch low behind a tree or a rock. He'd be the first one back.

    It continues to puzzle me why my cats behave as they do. Groucho has always been our tree climber. My first glimpse of his little face was up a tree. We were walking the dog, and she started barking into the woods. There was new trash in the cutout lane as if someone had just been there. We saw movement and there was a kitten climbing a tree. Groucho. His brother Whitey peeked out from the woods. We coaxed them all out, tucking them into jacket pockets, then turned to walk home. We almost left Shy Boy because he was the last to come out of hiding, finally mewing plaintively and running to catch up with us. They've been this way since birth - one climbs trees, one runs and hides, the other just hunkers down to hide wherever he is and stays put until he's satisfied all danger is past.

    Inside the house, my three indoor boys also exhibit their own unique behavior patterns. When the vacuum cleaned comes out, Pierre goes insane. He hates it. He runs in circles. He jumps onto a shelf in the closet and hides. He won't come out for hours. 

    Genghis Khan is much, much bolder. He will wait until the vacuum cleaner is right by the chair where he's sitting. Only when it comes within one to two feet will he dash away. He'll be back out from his hiding spot as soon as he's convinced the evil vacuum cleaner has moved away.

    Rocky, on the other hand, looks disdainfully at the vacuum cleaner and refuses to budge. I've yet to find out what frightens this cat other than a hug (he hates being confined.) You can vacuum right under his chair and he just stares at you as if he's simply pissed off that you woke him up.

    Genghis loves to perch on the back of chairs so he's higher than the other cats. 

    Cats and Behavior: Tree Dweller or Bush Dweller?
    I finally found what I think is the answer to my cats' behavior from cat psychologist Jackson Galaxy. He calls tree climbers "tree dwellers" and others "bush dwellers."

    Tree dwellers, or those who prefer heights like my Groucho and Genghis, feel safer when they are up high. They climb. They perch. Genghis is definitely one of these cats. Even though he's an indoor only boy, he loves to be up, up, and up, as high in the room as he can be. Rocky likes that too. The tree climbers in my cat family are Genghis, Groucho and Rocky, and each seems to move vertically when frightened. 

    The bush dwellers, on the other hand, like to be down low. Shy Boy and Whitey are most definitely bush dwellers, and Pierre is sort of in the middle. He feels safer up, but not too high. He'll sit on a chair in my office rather than on the floor, but he'd rather not exert himself.

    If you have a tree climber, you know it. Your cat will perch on top of the refrigerator and the tallest dresser in your bedroom. Tree climbers need high perches. A big cat tower or a cat "highway" mounted in the house is an excellent way to please your tree climbers (and to keep them from climbing the drapes).

    On the other hand (or paw), the bush dwellers need secure spaces below. They need warm cat beds on the floor, cat cubes, cardboard boxes with holes cut out to hide in. These are the ones who prefer those squishy cat beds and don't know what to do with a cat tower.

    It's two hours after the propane delivery, and all three outdoor boys have returned for breakfast. Shy Boy was, of course, the last to emerge from the woods. I didn't see Groucho climb a tree, but he emerged from the edge of the pines on our farm, so I assume he went up rather than into the woods. I'm just happy to have all of my fur babies accounted for. They're quite happy for the propane delivery. It means we can put the gas fireplace on tonight...their favorite things!

    Of course the cats are happy about the propane delivery. It means I can turn the gas fireplace on tonight!

    Are you cats bush dwellers or tree climbers? Leave a comment!

    Wednesday, February 10, 2016

    Using a Black Light to Clean Pet Accidents

    Did you know that you can use an inexpensive black light to detect cat pee? If you think your cats are peeing outside the litter box, chances are good that they are. Here's how to use a black light detector.

    This adorable cat is Shy Boy. His nickname is Pee Boy. Poor Shy Boy was diagnosed with urinary crystals when he was just a year old. He would pee and cry. His urine was bloody. I rushed him to the vet. He was on medication for many months, and now eats a special diet to maintain his urine's pH in a range that hopefully won't produce the crystals again. 

    Unfortunately, the months leading up to the diagnosis must have been painful for my boy. He won't pee in a litter box. Actually, I'm not sure he can. He pees standing up, in small amounts, outside.

    Now most of the time, that's all fine. It's when we have a cold night that I bring all of my cats inside...and that leads to accidents. With six boy cats all in one house, it gives new meaning to the word p--- ing contests. You know what I'm talking about.

    Some of the accidents are easy to spot, and these can be cleaned up quickly. However, some of the cats can be quite sneaky about hiding their accidents. Often, you can't even smell them.

    Black lights work for dog or cat stain detection.

    A black light becomes a very useful tool for detecting pet accidents. I bought my black light at Lowe's. It's a small flashlight about six inches long that runs on 3 "AAA" batteries. It has to be used in pitch darkness. A black light produces ultraviolet light. When it strikes biological substances, it emits a glow.

    To use your black light detector:

    • Purchase a black light flashlight. They're easy to find at big box stores or hardware stores.
    • They have to be used in pitch darkness. Too much light makes it hard to see the spots they detect.
    • Pet accidents and some other substances, such as grease, will glow "white" in the light.
    • Use post-it notes or painter's tape to mark the areas to clean.
    • Clean the marked spots using warm water and an enzyme-based cleaner, or white vinegar and water. I also use Lysol floor cleaner on baseboards and tile floors. The citrus scent seems to repel the cats after cleaning up an accident.

    Black light will glow on pet accidents, such as urine stains on carpet or tile. It will also make grease stains in the kitchen glow too, which is useful for finding those areas you miss!

    The first time I used the black light in the kitchen, I gasped because I thought the cats had actually had accidents in some very unlikely places. On closer inspection, I realized it was spatter on the splash guard behind my stove. Small particles of grease had accumulated in certain areas. Some cleanser and elbow grease later and my stove was clean again.

    Other areas did indeed highlight places my cats like to "mark" in the house. Doorways, doors and similar vertical surfaces appear to be popular places. The cats tend to mark the same areas over and over again, so I've been working hard to clean them.

    When cleaning up cat urine spots, do not use any produce that contains ammonia. It will make the scent stronger to your cats. Another tip is to never use steam cleaning on fabrics. Steam also makes the odor "set" into the fabric. Instead, look for cleanser with enzyme-based cleaning action that are marked for pet accidents. These destroy the scent odors in the area that give off signals to the cats that it is okay to pee there.

    Please don't get the idea that my house is one giant litter box. Of course it is not. But every cat owner probably has at least one or two spots around the house that cats have marked.

    Neutered boy cats and spayed females are said to have less accidents. My boys are all neutered, but some of them still seem to think it's up to them to alert every other cat in the neighborhood that they live there. It's up to me to be vigilant and clean the problem areas when they arise.

    One thing to note: if you're playing carpet detective and you find that your cat is really having a lot of accidents or refusing to use the litter box, it's time to investigate. Shy Boy let me know about his urinary pain by purposely going in front of me. In the box, it was hard to distinguish the discolored spots on the clay litter I use. On the ivory colored tiles, it was easy to see that he had a serious problem and needed immediate veterinary attention. You may consider taking your cat in for an exam if he or she is having a lot of accidents!

    Thursday, January 28, 2016

    Smelly Stools in Cats

    Ah, cats. Not only does their pee smell foul, but their poo can, too. Folks, let's get real today. We're going to talk about smelly stools in cats, and I'm going to embarrass our newest cat, Rocky, by using him as an example.

    I don't think Rocky likes being the example in this story.

    Rocky, as many of you know, was a wild thing who we assumed was a feral cat. He terrorized the neighborhood cats for at least a year or two, including our own outdoor guys. He seemed to live in the woods and descend at night, slinking among the garden shrubs and running at the first sound of human footsteps. It took us a year to tame him enough to feed him on the porch and many months before we could get him to trust us enough to let us touch him. Finally, this past November, Rocky went to the vet where he was pronounced healthy, neutered, and given his vaccinations.

    Today, he has chosen his forever home...ours. He moved in. The formerly wild cat is now a model house cat, calm and content.

    His favorite spot:

    That's Rocky on the couch by the fireplace with his buddy, another of our house cats, Pierre, up on the arm of the couch.

    Now you'd think that all's well that ends well with Rocky. But not quite. You see, the poor old former tom cat has an issue. A digestive issue. As in, when he uses the litter box for number two, it lights up the house like a Christmas tree. I've never smelled anything quite like this. And it's big, folks. I'm talking dog-sized big.

    He does this twice a day.

    Even after I remove it from the litter box, I have to turn on the plug-in air freshener. It's that bad. The scent just barrels through the house. 

    (Now none of you are ever going to want to visit me. That's okay. I understand.)

    So what's up? Rocky went to the vet. He was dewormed. He's on the same diet as the other cats: a mixed diet of dried Friskies Grillers Blend and Friskies canned cat food, usually beef or chicken.

    Since he has already been to the vet in the past month and been dewormed, my thought was that the parasites he may have had as an outdoor cat are already gone. The vet didn't find anything wrong with him. But there is one potential issue: parasites called giardia.

    Giardia, according to the CDC, is a microscopic parasite that lives in water or soil and is transmitted by host animals. In humans, it causes intestinal distress such as gas and diarrhea. In cats, it can cause the same, but it can also simply cause foul-smelling stools.

    Rocky may have picked up giardia from simply living outside. The vet's office doesn't test for it, but when he returns for his booster shots, I may ask them to test for it. 

    In the meantime, if your cat has stinky stools...I mean really bad, not just the usual...Dr. Mike over at the Pet Health Network has a few suggestions about the causes:

    • Diet: Pierre, our gray cat above, was called "stink bomb" as a kitten for his super power-like ability to fart non stop. It turned out the cat food we were feeding him disagreed with his tummy. If your cat has these issues, and you've switched his food recently, you may want to consult with your pet's veterinarian about changing his diet. Too little or too much fiber in the diet can also cause this problem.
    • Parasites: I hate parasites. They skeeve me out big time. Cats can get a whole bunch of them, too, especially if they are outdoor cats. Your pet's veterinarian needs to check a stool sample for parasites. Don't rely on folk remedies to treat it. Get your pet to the vet, get it tested, and get the right MEDICAL treatment for parasites. There are good, effective pharmaceutical remedies that kill those bugs right off.  
    • Disease: If your cat suddenly experiences stinky stools, diarrhea, vomiting or blood in the stool, pack him in his carrier and take him to the vet IMMEDIATELY. It can be a sign of a serious illness.

    Your pet's vet, folks, is the best person to say what's causing that awful smell. A few days of yuckiness may be a lovely treat your cat found and ate, such as a piece of bologna that fell behind the kitchen table, but if it goes on longer than a few days, or is accompanies by other signs of gastrointestinal stress or illness, get thee to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

    On behalf of Rocky, I apologize to my squeamish readers. But in the spirit of scientific inquiry and education, Rock and I agreed that sharing his litter box habits might help other kitties, so he was all for it.

    Now please excuse me. I have to go scoop the litter box. Again.

    Rocky and three of our other cats.