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Did Stefan snap at Arya at all? He seems like such a mellow guy.

He’s such a good guy, and he doesn’t snap at the kittens at all. Occasionally he’ll get a little overzealous and the kittens will get all screamy (he never ever hurts them, but sometimes he wants to play and they don’t), which is when I make him go out onto the side stoop and think about what he’s done. He will sit out there and stare off into space and get a handle on himself, then go over the fence and come back inside when he’s ready to behave.

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I got this banner today: “Barrett, Sad Eyes, Smitty, and Little Cal” Adorable, but who the heck are they? I had to go look it up (instead of heading out to work). Barrett became Tom Cullen and Sad Eyes became Sugarbutt! Somehow I feel as though I’ve peered through the mists of time!

Barrett (who became Tom Cullen), Sad Eyes (who became Sugarbutt), Smitty, and Little Cal
(Click on the banner to see the full-sized version.)

I didn’t actually name the litter, just so y’all know – they’re one of the few litters who came to me already named. They were our third litter, and oh BOY was Sugarbutt a hot mess. Impacted anal glands, diarrhea, giardia, coccidia, I thought I was NEVER going to get him healthy. The day the litter was set to go off to Petsmart, Tommy started limping, so we opted to keep him home an extra day ’til he was over it. By the next morning, I’d talked Fred into keeping Tommy (which wasn’t hard to do). And then a few days later Sugarbutt was returned by the person who’d adopted him, and I brought him home ’til he was done with the medication he needed. Then Fred got attached to him, too.

Adopting Tommy and Sugarbutt is why we didn’t foster for most of 2006, because when Fred agreed that we should keep the boys (in late 2005), he stipulated that we’d take time off from fostering, and we took almost a year off.

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Cats in tiny handmade hats! I feel you must show this to Hodor as he seems he’d enjoy a good hat.

I LOVE Books of Adam, and those tiny hats have been cracking me up! If I had the skills to make tiny handmade hats, I would totally be doing that. I think Hodor needs a fascinator.

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Is Norbert your wallpaper? Is that why he looks so smug?

Norbert was my wallpaper – and then my new computer arrived, and in the course of switching computers I lost track of that picture (I’ve still got it, I just didn’t get around to searching for it), so went back to this picture of Puff.

My wallpaper changes every so often – usually when I’m looking at a picture in Windows Photo Viewer and accidentally click on “Set as Desktop Background.” 🙂

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I wanted to ask if you’d tried out the Precious Cat litter yet. I decided to try a bag of the Precious Cat Ultra because of the cloud of dust that comes with every bag of Fresh Step. It’s definitely less dusty, it clumps really well, and the cats seem to like it OK. However, the odor control is TERRIBLE. I scoop the boxes at least once a day, so they aren’t sitting around full for very long. I was curious if you had noticed that as well (maybe I just have really stinky cats), or if the activated charcoal you had mentioned had helped at all with odor.

For now, it’s looking like I’m going to stick with Arm & Hammer. It’s less dusty than Fresh Step (though not as good as the PC). It’s more expensive and odor control isn’t as good, but both are still better than Precious Cat (for me at least). Let us know if the charcoal helps…I may try that out with the A&H.

I haven’t tried the Precious Cat yet, mostly because when I stocked up on Cat Attract, I STOCKED UP in a big way on it. I’m still not even close to being out of it yet, but I will do my very best to mention whether I have any issues when I do give it a try. I plan to keep on with the activated charcoal (I have a hard time not calling it “Carbonated Charcoal” for some reason!), because so far it’s working well for us.

I lament having to stop using Fresh Step, though – it was so inexpensive and worked so well for so long for us, but my lungs finally begged me to give it a rest! Grrr, Fresh Step!

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Say, I have a question that I know is frequently asked, so my apologies ahead of time (ever think about doing a FAQ on cat care, Robyn, with input on best practices from readers? 🙂 ). A colleague (“K”) has three cats. For a while she had a fourth, whom she had taken in when another colleague became very ill. Both the other colleague and the cat have since passed away, but one of her permanent residents has, ever since the fourth cat’s arrival, been peeing in various places where it shouldn’t. She’s had him/her (not sure) checked out by a vet, who found some evidence of crystals in the urine, but it’s not a serious issue and is being treated with diet. The problem seems to be behavioral. She asked me what I would suggest doing, and I mentioned a few things:

1) Getting a third litterbox (K has two for the three cats).
2) Adding Cat Attract to the litterboxes.
3) Using Nature’s Miracle to get rid of the pee smell.
4) Using a Feliway plug-in (I figure it can’t hurt).
5) Re-training the cat to use the litterbox through isolation.

My question(s): Has anyone successfully done #5? What steps worked for you? Does anyone have any other suggestions? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

I haven’t retrained a cat who was peeing outside the litter box, but I have retrained a kitten who was pooping outside the litter box, and it worked really well for me. I mentioned it in a post at some point in the past, and recently I went and put that section of the post on a page by itself. Did I link to anywhere? Well, I haven’t gotten that far yet (eventually I’m going to have a list of links to pages under the heading “More than you wanted to know about…”, but obviously haven’t done that yet). But anyway, this is the page, and that’s how I did the retraining with the outside-the-litter-box-pooper. I think that’s probably the way to do it with peeing, too.

Also, I’d like to suggest that K talk to her vet about Prozac (for the cat, that is). I’ll write it about it at length at some point in the future, but long story short, we solved a YEARS-long spraying issue with two cats by putting them on Prozac earlier this year. The vet said that some cats need to stay on Prozac for the long-term, but other cats can stay on the Prozac for a couple of months, be weaned off, and never have the issue again. As it turns out, it looks like one of our cats will need to stay on Prozac, but the other will be able to go without. Fingers crossed!

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I’m having a problem with a 12-week old bottle baby I’ve raised. He’s a biter and I don’t know how to stop him from that. Before he learned that soft paws are good, I felt like a pincushion. My arms and legs were shredded. He finally got control of the claws and is good about not scratching people, but he’s the mouthiest cat I’ve ever been around. Even when he’s asleep across my arm, he wants his mouth open on my skin. He’s not ornery, he’s grabby. We’ve been working on “no bite” and he seems to know what it means, his bites are more like pinches now. I’ve tried flicking him on the nose, that just makes him hang on harder. It’s so frustrating. He’ll want to cuddle against my neck and he’ll lay there and purr for a minute, then he has my chin or my ear in his mouth. He’s not sucking, he’s not mad or defensive, he’s just there. Of course when I go to move him, he closes down and pinches. I was hoping to find him a home, but even I find him annoying and I don’t want someone else booting him out on the street when he wears out his welcome. Any ideas?

Kelly said: I have found that most animals HATE when you blow in their noses. They will jerk their heads away from the breeze rather quickly. Perhaps it would give you enough time to move him and simultaneously teach him not to latch on?

Leonore said: Have you tried scruffing him? It mimics the way mother cats discipline the kittens. Maybe when he starts, just scruff him (not too hard but firm enough that it doesn’t feel like petting) and say whatever phrase you want to use that will eventually become the signal. I used a simple “No!” with my girls when they were about the same age. Once he lets go and closes his mouth, then let go and start petting. Hopefully it won’t be too long that he gets the idea that biting gets him scruffed but not biting gets him pettings. After a while, then just the same phrase you use (be consistent) should be enough without the scruffing.

This was something I read in a cat behavior book when I first got kittens (which I’d never dealt with up until that point). It worked pretty great for me and I’ve also known other people with cats who use scruffing from time to time for discipline or behavioral training. It’s all about mimicking the cat mama.

And Connie said: They do it because it gets a reaction out of you. They want to play, you are giving that to him.

Kittens who play with each other bite ALL THE TIME.. when they bite their sibling too hard they cry out with an ‘ow’ meow and stop playing. The one who bit will then stop, and lick his victim with an ‘I’m sorry’ lick.

You can mimic that by saying ‘ow’ in a high pitched meow like tone, and stop all movement. If the kitty doesn’t immediately lick you, put him on the ground away from you. He’ll run right back and start playing again and that is fine, but the minute he bites you again say the ‘ow’ and repeat as necessary.

He’ll learn that he can’t bite you as hard as he has, and will bite with less force. You need to decide what you will tolerate. For the worst offenders I don’t tolerate ANY biting and will keep it up until he starts playing nice. For those that don’t bite all that often I save it for those bites that hurt.

I know most people will tell you not to hand play with kittens, but I think it is essential when done right. At some point in this cat’s life there is a darn good chance that someone is going to do something to him that he is going to feel needs a warning bite. If he does not know how hard a warning bite is, he could do some serious damage. The Hand Monster/ Hand Play.

I didn’t even have to weigh in on this one, because my commenters are THE BEST! Thanks, Kelly, Leonore and Connie!

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Norbie in the pillows.. my new favorite photo.. you so need that on canvas!!

Isn’t he the cutest? He always looks amazed by everything!

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Not sure how long it’s been like this, but I just noticed the border around Hodor’s picture in the sidebar. I truly have no idea what his only saying “Hodor” means, but it’s adorable in a kitten 😉

I cracked myself up when I did that and I love it that every couple of days someone notices it. Hodor, the character from Game of Thrones, only says “hodor”, so that’s what they call him (his actual name is Walder.)

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I like that shorter (blue) cat condo/scratcher… it reminds me of an office inbox, FOR KITTEHS!

I actually bought it (from Overstock), because I thought Corbie might like to use it to get up on the bigger cat tree, or he could hang out on the top platform. As it turns out, he seems to prefer curling up and sleeping on the middle level. It’s certainly been a hit with all the other cats, too. We’ve practically had to draw up a schedule so everyone can have some time on it.

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And SO MUCH LAUGHTER on the bag thing. I’ve had a cat or two do that and you feel so bad for the cat because you know they’re terrified, the poor dears, but it’s sooo funny.

This reminds me of an incident from years ago, back when we lived in our first house in Madison (for those who don’t know, we lived in our first house in Madison for 4 1/2 years, then we sold that and bought our second house in Madison and lived there for 5 1/2 years; then we sold that house and bought the one where we currently live, where we’ve been for 6 1/2 years).

So anyway, Fred was walking toward the kitchen and I was putting laundry away in the bedroom, and Fred said something to me. I looked up to see what he wanted, and saw a plastic grocery bag at ground level, flying toward me. For some reason, I got it in my head that he’d tossed the bag at me, and as I watched, the bag picked up speed and flew in a curve as it headed for the bed. All I could think was “How did he get it to CURVE like that?!” Finally (once the bag went under the bed), I realized that it was caught around poor Spanky’s neck and he was TERRIFIED. (But I laughed and laughed and laaaaaaughed as I was removing it from him. Poor Spanky!)

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Robyn – thought your community would like to know of this, if they haven’t seen it already.

This is the description for anyone who doesn’t want to click on the link; it’s an automatic feeder:

*Convenient infrared feeder easily, automatically makes your cat’s food accessible only to her
*Feeder opens and closes with the accompanying lightweight infrared key, which your cat simply wears on her collar
*Smooth, quiet, battery-powered automatic feeder ideal for cats on special diets, or for use in multiple-pet homes

Very cool!

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Arya, showing off her pretty colors.

And Brandon, showing off his pretty spots.

Jon Snow, in the sun.

Smug Hodor.

Brandon and Hodor like to live dangerously.

Jon Snow in the sun, again.

Jon Snow has the giggles.

Hodor has such a serious little face.

Mr. Innocent. No one is fooled by that face, Jon Snow. NO ONE.

“Hodor,” he said seriously.

First, Hodor bites…

And then he licks. Awwww, sweet boy.

And then Jon Snow has had enough of THAT.

Arya, sharpening her claws.


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Corbie snoozing on the patio in the back yard. MOST BEAUTIFUL BOY EVERRRRRRRRR.


2012: Then they were all like “Hmph. We ain’t skeered.”
2011: “Can’t they TELL what an awesome kitten she is?!” he says.
2010: No entry.
2009: Hoyt registers a complaint with the management.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: No entry.
2005: And licks and licks and licks.



9-6-13 — 37 Comments

  1. LOL on the Spanky story! Poor dear. But you can’t help but laugh because even though you know it’s not funny to them, it’s hilarious to the humans.

    Another sort-of-related story – one of my hobbies is tabletop roleplaying games in the nature of Dungeons and Dragons and so forth. Games of this type use dice of a number of odd shapes and types, and it’s typical for long-time gamers to collect them. Dice bags are typically big enough for your fist – or as I discovered one day, big enough for a cat’s head. I’d emptied my bag onto the table and thrown it on the floor; that’s usually easier when you’re running the game than hunting in the bag for the dice you need. I look up at one point and my black cat Sheba is sitting in the corner with the bag over her head, looking around like “wait what?” (These are not plastic bags, mine is leather and breathable, so no worries on her suffocating.) The game stopped and the whole table was howling with laughter as I pulled the bag off her head. I will never forget that.

    • I called my cat the Caped Crusader after he zoomed around trying to rid himself of the dread plastic bag. But only a long time afterward — the poor boy was so terrified and so hard to catch.

  2. I don’t see how Jon Snow has not been snatched up yet – he has the most fabulous striped tail that is in SUCH contrast to his white body. Love it! Good thing I don’t live in Alabama!

    We had a cat (my dear departed JR) who got his head caught in a plastic bag and he ran all over the back yard trying to get away from it. We finally caught and rescued him and the bag was covered in pee – literally scared it out of him. We still laugh over that even though it was about 8 years ago.

  3. I’ll be interested to hear about anyone else’s experience with the Precious Cat litter, because we are switching to it from super dusty Tidy Cat. The dust was literally on every surface near the boxes and I just couldn’t deal.
    Also, Hodor.

    • I have used it for years and really like it. When my girls were kittens, they both got conjunctivitis and the dust from the Fresh Step made it a lot worse. I switched to Precious Cat because it was the one that was really as dust-free as they claim. In three years, the girls have never had a flare-up (once they have conjunctivitis, it doesn’t go away but just lies dormant). And I find the odor control to be just fine. The only time I really smell anything is if I walk past the litter box right after one of them has used it, or if I have been neglectful in my cleaning of the box.

      • Thanks!! Do you use the unscented or scented?
        Hopefully the cats won’t suddenly start dropping bombs again. Better food has cut down on that by 1000x.

        • I use the unscented. I’m afraid that the perfumes in the scented would be bad for their eyes. It’s probably find to use the scented – I’ve used an Arm and Hammer litter box powder on occasion and that probably has perfumes in it, and it didn’t seem to bother them. Now as I’m typing, I think I might try the scented to see if it bothers them and how it compares with odor control.

          • I use the Precious Cat multicat and really like it though it is expensive. I tried the scented version but thought it was too strong and florally.

  4. None of my cats have ever gotten stuck in a bag handle, but I always cut the handles anyway. I am always horribly afraid of less funny incidents involving a bag handle getting stuck around their little necks.

    But…like most cats, my girls are fascinated by both bags and boxes, and Mrs.Parker, who is a burrower, has gotten her head stuck in empty tissue boxes. I know I should ‘rescue’ her and I certainly do if she looks like she’s starting to get really scared. But it’s too damn funny! And she actually knows how to kick the box off her head, but once she does, she’ll often just stick her head right back in it. I think it’s kind of fun for her. Here’s proof: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFNGP8-XyiQ (Please ignore me giggling like a lunatic in the background.)

  5. We also recently made the switch to Precious Cat litter and I really like it. We had been using EverClean (good odor control and clumping, but SO dusty) and had experimented with Swheat Scoop and World’s Best (less dust, great for the environment, but not great odor-wise). I don’t find PC problematic on the odor front, but I suppose you could add in some baking soda if you wanted. And there is so little dust — it’s great!

    • I’m seriously excited for the lack of dust. It was insane! I’ll keep baking soda or activated charcoal on standby just in case.

  6. Robyn, I’m curious, have you ever had a mother cat scruff her kittens when they were acting up? I never have, they simply get up and walk away or start to play rougher with them..

    • I actually have – Maggie did that a few times and so did Khaleesi, and the kitten would just freeze. But for the most part, they do tend to either walk away or do some serious butt-kicking.

      • interesting.. and good to know. I’ve always seen people say mother cats do that, but i’ve never seen nor actually heard of a mother cat doing that..

  7. Here’s an interesting (or not) fact: the same company makes Fresh Step, Scoopaway, and Everclean. Fresh Step is the dustiest; next is Scoopaway; and then there’s Everclean which is least dustiest of the three but costs twice as much.

    I’ve been using Scoopaway forever, especially because it’s so cheap at Costco, but I think the litter has gotten dustier over the years. I don’t ever remember so much dust in the room as we see now. I did buy some Everclean and it’s better, but with my picky picky picky furball, any time I try something different she won’t go until she’s ready to explode! Arm & Hammer stinks at odor control, as did Precious Cat, and she hated any variant of Tidy Cat. ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

    • Maxie, have you ever considered giving crystals a try? I know that Elayne has mentioned how well they work for her, and if it weren’t for the fact that we usually have kittens here, I’d probably give it a try, too.

    • Have to agree – and you kept referring to her as “the kitten”. Was this before she was named?? Nice houses, but I love Crooked Acres the best!

  8. Love that feeder. I was just telling my husband yesterday how I wish we were able to provide a safe place that just Bander could get to so he could eat in peace. He’s had some eating issues lately and will only eat soft food, the others all get dry, but of course would rather have his. So we have to lock him in a room and stay with him or he won’t eat. And there’s times that it takes him a half hour or more to do so. With the feeder we could put it on a shelf in a way that he’d only be able to get to it. Hmmm, something to think about. Thanks for sharing!!

    We’ve had bag scares with several of the cats over the years and always get a kick out of it. Poor babies.

  9. Aww! I just love that sweet picture of my baby boy! I love being able to go back and see his tiny baby pictures. He is already getting so big!! I can’t believe I’ve almost had him a month.

  10. Regarding retraining your cat to use the box, I have successfully done # 5 using a large crate. I put it in my bedroom against a window so Sammy (the “felon”) had a view and could be by me at night. She was crated for about 4 weeks. In the beginning she had just a few accidents in the crate outside the box. I used puppy pee pads on the crate floor so it was easy clean up. She also had a wood shelf that gave her the perfect spot to look out the window and she spent most of her time there. The first week or so I let her out only briefly. I watched her litterbox habits and her like a hawk. If I’d just seen her use the box, especially #1 and #2 I let her out for a while. I also gave her treats for using the box and for going in the crate. By the end of her “incarceration” she was spending several hours uncrated, but only when I was at home. The first week she did have a few accidents also outside the crate when she was free. After 4 weeks, I gave her freedom on the weekend when I knew I’d be around. I left the crate in my room with the door open and the other cats (I have 5) gradually started to use that litter box, too. I finally folded the crate away a month later. Sammy hasn’t had a relapse in 2 months now.

    I have used Tidy Cats litter for several years. When I started Sammy in the crate, I mixed the TC with Cat Attract and gradually back to just TC. I was religious about scooping that box and keeping it clean for her. Prior to this, with 5 cats, they did fine sharing two covered litter boxes. I’ve now added a 3rd box and none of them are hooded. None of my cats are small. I just have to put up with more litter getting flung out of the boxes.

    I also changed their food. She had this problem for months and as time went on, her stool got worse and worse. I knew she was uncomfortable. I got her changed over to Nutro Natural Choice senior and her stool got firmer and firmer and less smelly and she seemed to have an easier time of it. Now all the cats are on it and my senior guy who had gotten a little too thin in my opinion, has filled out some.

    Sammy had been checked at the vet for both urinary tract and bowel issues (including parasites) and was clean.

    • P.S. I tried additional boxes and Feliway and neither worked before I had to crate her. I still have no rugs out where she can get to them and she ruined several before getting crated. My floors are hardwood and tile, which was a blessing during this because that’s relatively easy to clean though she did potty on the bottom of both cat trees AND my bed (several times and twice with me in the bed!). I have a foam mattress topper. I had to take it off at least twice to clean with Odor Mute (powder mixed with warm water). I also had to treat my mattress. I finally got a waterproof mattress cover so the mattress was protected and then put the foam topper on top of that (recently took the mattress cover off because it makes the topper slide some). She also peed a few times on one of my couches and I had to take the cushions off and clean them with Odor Mute (that stuff works – highly recommend it). Sammy is very lucky her mommy loves her very much!!!

  11. WHAT?!?! No new kittens?!? I have been gone almost a whole WEEK! I waited special because I wanted an extra big litter, or either bottle babies this time. Robyn! You’re slackin’, lady… (c;

    • It’s probably because Fred has stolen – STOLEN, I SAY! – my second foster room to use as his office now that he’s working from home. I did have a chance at two bottle babies, but someone else snapped ’em up before I could claim them (which is probably for the best, because I don’t know where I would have put them!) 🙂

  12. Robyn, can I ask a question about the Prozac? I have a cat who has been on it for months to control self-mutiliation which started after a UTI. I’ve tried to wean her off a couple of times but it’s been unsuccessful so far. Bunny is on a 5mg dose and it has been compounded by a pet pharmacy since my vet wasn’t comfortable with me splitting a 10mg pill because he is afraid the dosage won’t be exactly right. Do you get yours at a regular pharmacy or is yours compounded as well? It’s not cheap to have it compounded. Every time I have to get it refilled I tell Bunny she’s the most expensive free cat ever.

    • We get our Prozac from the vet, actually. They give us 10 mg pills, and we split them in half ourselves. They’re actually scored down the center, so it’s pretty easy to split them (I’ve done it both with a pill splitter and with a sharp knife, depending on my mood). I can understand the vet’s concern, but I… think it’s pretty simple to split them evenly. Maybe talk to your vet about getting the pills and trying those, while you still have some of the compounded meds on hand – I would think that if the dosage isn’t right, you’d be able to tell pretty quickly, and you could go back to the compounded stuff. I hear you about expensive cat meds – the stuff we’re giving Tommy is pretty expensive, and we were hoping to be able to wean him off it, but NAY. He’s lucky he’s such a good guy and I love his expensive self. 🙂

  13. I use Precious Cat because it is wonderfully dustless…however….I mix in a bit of Fresh Step for odor control. It was a good compromise. I recommend it!