Avoid Black Friday: Six Free Holiday Gifts Cats Crave.
This is our gift to you for being here now. To all our subscribers, thank you from the bottom of our furry, purring hearts. Happy Thanksgiving from our feline family to yours!
The ultimate gift every shelter cat is a home. It does our heart good to see the amazing bonanza of adopted cats including our new feline family member Clyde featured at Animal Shelter Volunteer Take a peek for a moment of aw…share and feel good. It’s a shelter that’s doing all the right things.
The holiday season now stretches from Halloween to Thanksgiving, peaking with Christmas, Hanukkah and ending with New Year’s Eve. Black Friday on November 23, 2018 promises bargains and headaches. Consumers spent over 350 million on Halloween pet costumes alone this year and many pets will receive holiday gifts this year.
Before wrapping Fluffy in a hot dog costume or gift-wrapping Fluffy a new toy, stop to consider what the true meaning of the season is. And what will actually make your cat happy. Americans are naturally generous at heart and pets, more than ever are the recipients of their largess. In our eagerness to please our pets, it’s easy to lose sight of what they want and need.
Never Mind Black Friday: These are the six Holiday Gifts Cats Crave.
While cats enjoy new toys and treats any time, they don’t understand of the concept of the holiday season. What is a fun, exciting time of celebration can be a stressful, over-stimulating or lonely time for cats.
This year in the collective spirit of joy and generosity let’s turn our thoughts to kindness, compassion and gratitude towards our cats. The greatest gift we can give our cats this holiday season doesn’t cost dime. It’s the gift of awareness and it’s the gift that keeps on giving in purrs of thanks from our cats. Awareness is the sister of compassion and the end result is a deepening of the feline-human bond
Science has proven how simply petting a cat helps reduce stress and lower blood pressure. Cat lovers have always known a happy cat makes happy home. Learning what makes our mysterious feline friends tick will help us gain self-knowledge as well.
Do you want To make your cat happy? Cultivate the gift of awareness through a Cat’s Six Senses
Cats live in our world and homes but we also live in their world. They have invisible boundaries and territories (more so in multi-cat or pet homes) we aren’t privy to. Our worlds and their territories are in a constant state of flux. Behavioral issues often result when the two worlds don’t intersect harmoniously.
Cats’ senses are more developed than ours and its far too easy to over-stimulate a cat. An overwhelmed cat will react with a fight-or-flight aggressive or defensive response. They will hiss, bite or scratch or run away and hide. It’s up to us to learn their language and be aware of changes in their moods and decode their body language. Despite living with humans for over 9,000 years cats are not fully domesticated. Researchers from Washington University in St. Louis who recently sequenced and analyzed the cat genome discovered little had changed in a cat’s DNA during their evolution. All cat senses are designed for hunting prey and survival.
A cat’s eyes see more and communicate more than our eyes. They see in a wider degree and range of the light spectrum up to ultra-violet. Their vision is enhanced in low light to take advantage of ideal hunting times: dawn and dusk. Their pupils can enlarge to inky pools of fear or anger or close into slits from calm to predatory. The eyes slow blink with our gaze to show we aren’t a threat, grow soft when relaxed and sleepy or wide-eyed in surprise. Staring, blinking, glowing or growing a cat’s eyes are fine tuned to respond to their environment.
Be aware about light this holiday season. Flickering candles, flashing tree ornaments and glowing Christmas lights may over-stimulate. Be careful if using laser “red dot” types of toys and never shine lasers in their eyes.
A cat’s hearing far exceeds a human’s into the ultrasonic range, again to help locate prey. Not only do cats hear what we can’t, their “satellite” ears rotate to pinpoint, funnel and amplify sounds with precision.
What we may consider the sounds of holiday cheer and merriment, loud parties and music are likely to have a “Bah humbug” response from a cat causing them to play hide and not seek. If entertaining make sure they have a safe, quiet zone or hideaway. Closets, especially a linen closet are usually well insulated from noise or an open dresser drawer is a cozy spot to hide you do don’t mind a little cat hair.
There are CDs of instrumental music designed to calm cats. One of the presenters at the recent Purina summit I attended, Joshua Leeds, a sound researcher in the emerging field of psychoacoustics-the study of the effect of music and sound on the human nervous system, and bioacoustics-how human sound affects other living beings. He produces acoustically enhanced music for calming cats. We had a long phone chat last week and I’ve been experimenting playing his Relaxing and Stimulating CDs with my cats. I’m learning to notice more what sounds the cats respond to whether man made or natural; why certain, sounds or music on the TV or radio attracts them, perks them up or soothes them.
A cat’s sense of smell is perhaps their finest sense. Cats have about 200 million olfactory receptor cells compared to a human’s 5 million. A cat’s super sniffer is 14 times stronger than a human’s and is “turbo-charged” by the Jacobsen’s organ found on the roof of their month. When we see a cat open their mouth and grimace while sniffing the air, they aren’t angry, it’s the flehman response, which allows scent molecules to pass over the roof of the mouth. In an instant, the scent molecules transmit information to the brain indicating friend or prey, pleasure or danger.
A large part of a cat’s communication with their world is via scent molecules called pheromones which they naturally produce and secrete from various parts of their face and tail. It’s how the mark their territory which includes us, other pets, furniture, stairs, door jambs and other places in the home or garden.
During the holiday season there is a cornucopia of new or scents both natural and synthetic from holiday baking, mulled wine or cider, scented candles, Christmas trees and garlands (real or fake), wood fires, holiday decorations plus more visitors to the home bringing their own scents and perfumes. We may think our homes smell festive but our cats may think scent overload.
Be aware of scent excess. Artificial scents can cause allergies or plain annoyance to feline members of the family. For indoor only cats in colder climes who are missing the smell of the outdoors, a whiff of a pine cone or piece of bark can bring welcome sensory enrichment. There are safe, synthetic pheromone products (sprays, plugins or collars) that are calming and help cats feel safe. They mimic the F-3 facial pheromones cats naturally produce from scent glands in their cheeks to mark their territory and feel good.
Taste is a cat’s weakest sense. They have about 500 taste buds to a human’s 10,000 and cats can’t detect sweetness. It’s why cats rely on their sense of smell and always sniff their food first. They prefer food at room temperature, ideally 86 degrees, the temperature of their tongue. The holiday season is time to indulge but careful kitty doesn’t have more than a nibble smoked salmon pate or caviar. Alcohol in any form is toxic and that includes methyl alcohol found in antifreeze and snow globes. Yes, if kitty knocks over and breaks a snow globe and drinks the liquid it can be lethal.
A stressed cat is more likely to develop pica, a behavior of ingesting non-food material like plastic bags or chewing on electrical cords. All the more reason to keep a check on sensory overload.
Cats are naturally tactile and responsive to touch. Most cats revel in chin rubs, petting and rolling around on the floor but within reason. Many parts of a cat’s body are sensitive; from their delicate paw pads, nose, ears and belly to their 24 whiskers which helps them navigate their world in any light. Even a cat who adores being petted and snuggled can become over-stimulated during the holiday melee and a purr can turn into a protest nip. All cats have their favored locations for petting with the belly being the more sensitive and unpredictable.
Always respect a cat’s limits and watch for body language signs of annoyance like a swishing tail, sudden muscular tension, warning hiss or light swat. Allow the cat to approach guests. Tell visitors especially young children to play nice.
Cats have a reputation and mystique for being mysterious. Part of their appeal is their uncanny ability to read humans. Most cat lovers have stories of cats coming to their aid, offering comfort when ill, waiting by the door or behavior bordering on intuitive. Cats have a way of mirroring the emotions of those who share their lives. Science has proven the healing benefits of petting and keeping cats.
The holiday season can be intense, exhausting and stressful. Cats can help reduce our stress but when we are crazy busy and over-extended our cats notice and may respond with unwanted behavior.
Remember, cats don’t know what a holiday is; they just know things are different and cats like consistency. A stressed cat may have litter box issues, inter-cat aggression, be more clingy or more inclined to hide. Even if a cat appears nonplussed may be internalizing the stress. All cats are sensitive on every level and live in a world governed by their senses.
The greatest gift we can give our cats this holiday season is to show compassion, acceptance and respect. Consider their needs.
Does your cat really want to wear reindeer antlers? I don’t think so.
- If you can resist a silly cat costume, at least leave their ears uncovered and make sure the garment is comfortable, safe and not flammable.
- Do not leave a cat wearing a costume unattended.
- While getting your home ready for entertaining or house guests, consider what decorations might be hazardous like tinsel and ribbon.
- If traveling, make arrangements well in advance for a reliable or professional cat sitter.
Be aware. Imagine what your cat would experience from every vantage point. They experience much of their world from a height of 8 inches. Do a floor to ceiling, room to room survey.
- If moving furniture around, are there still places for kitty to hide, perch, climb, nap, play?
- Are the litter boxes in safe, easy to access locations with exit routes?
- Are the food and water bowls in places where they won’t be knocked over during a party?
- Imagine what they not you would enjoy.
Cats give us so much to be grateful for every day. They are beloved companions, nonjudgmental friends, furry foot and lap warmers, social media assistants and source of endless entertainment and wonder.
Happy Thanksgiving or Catsgiving! We hope your holidays or meowlidays are purrfect!