How old is your cat?

How old is your cat?

I know it is one of the most frequently asked question among cat lovers. How old is my cat in human age?

When I was at the International Cat Care Cat Weekend, I saw they have these lovely charts on sale. I thought I would share with you their digital version.

 

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Click on the image to download the original image from International Cat Care

I am in shock to find out my Larmlarm is of the grand age of 72 and my Fafa is 48! So both of my cats are older than me no wonder they seem to think they are more wise than me.

So have you found out your cat’s age? Share the result below! I would love to hear from you. 

Cat tips – how to prepare your move with your cat

Cat tips – how to prepare your move with your cat

I have moved with my cat Larm Larm 6 times in the past 14 years. And that includes two international travels from Hong Kong to Paris, and Paris to Dublin. Altogether, we have travelled over 10,000 km together. So I think I know quite a bit about moving with cats.

Today, I am going to share with you some tips on how to make the moving process a bit easier for you human, your cat and everyone else involved (e.g. movers, other family members, etc).

moving with cats

These are my fabulous cat-stomers Piet and Raf. This is them moving from Netherlands to Dublin. Love them!

Cats are territorial animals and they don’t like changes, so moving is something they hate in their nature. The different sound and smell make them very anxious. In order to make the transition a little bit easier, we can try to make the changes in a gradual manner as much as possible. It will involve some planning, but it will make the moving day and the first few days after moving a bit easier for everyone.

Before moving

Plan ahead! If you have access to the new house in advance, prepare a ‘cat room’. This should be a room where it is away from the noise and fuss during the move. A lot of people use the spare bedroom. Put in food bowls, water bowls, cat litter, cat beds, etc. You might want to prepare a few items that are familiar to your cats. If you can move part of the cat furniture in advance to the new house, then set up the cat room in the new place. The idea is, we want the cat to have at least some familiar sight and smell on the arrival to the new place. STICK A BIG SIGN ON THE CAT ROOM DOOR THAT SAYS…

DO NOT OPEN THIS DOOR! 

So that the movers or other family members might not accidentally open this door and let the cat out during the chaos of moving. This is extremely important! I have known people lost their cats this way and I can’t emphasize how important it is to make sure cats are closed in one room and a big sign on the door to warn people not to open the door. Telling them not to open is NOT enough. People can’t remember during the chaos of the move!

In the old house, you will want to prepare a similar room if you plan to move the cat the last. They can stay in the cat room in the old house until all the furniture has been moved and they can leave with you. It is not a good idea to put your cat in the back of the moving van with the rest of the furniture. They would much prefer to stay with you as you can at least give them some reassurance. This might sound obvious but DO NOT PUT THE CAT IN THE BOOT OF THE CAR!

If you have a very nervous cat and they might accidentally urinate during the car journey, you might want to use some plastic liner to protect your car. Cutting up some big bin bags can do the job pretty well unless you want to invest in one of those car seat covers.

Another very important tip, if you cannot set up the cat room in the new place in advance, if you are doing international travel for example, make sure to pack your cat stuff in an accessible place! Don’t leave your cat bowls in the check in luggage! I made that mistake when I travelled from Hong Kong to Paris! When I had 8 hours transit in Seoul, I end up having to use the saucer from the tea cup in the hotel room to give Larm Larm some water! If I were to do another international travel again and expecting a long transit in a hotel, I would also bring a small litter tray with me with small amount of cat litter.


PUTTING CAT IN CARRIER! (OMG!)

A lot of people face a big big problem when it comes to the last moment to put the cat into the carrier. Desensitizing a cat to the carrier will need a separate post in itself! And this should be ideally done since day one when your cat comes into your life! But if you are reading this, you might be moving soon so you might not have enough time to do the full thing. In this case, try to do at least the following in the coming days:

  1. Leave the carrier out for a while before moving. If the lid is possible to be taken off, take it off as use it as a ‘bed’ for a few days
  2. Put the lid back on and use it as a ‘cat cave’ for a few days
  3. Close the door when the cat is in, do nothing, then leave the door open again after a few minutes. Give treats. Do that for a few days.

Consider to get professional help! If your cat is particularly difficult and you can see he/she is freaking out after you try to close the door of the carrier. Or that your moving date is dead set, the movers will be waiting, there is no space for mistake, you are better off to have professional help. If you are in Dublin, consider using my Cat Catcher service. To be honest, even with an easy cat, putting a cat into a carrier is a two-person job at best of times. One person is holding the cat, another person is dealing with the carrier and the door. With a difficult cat, no chance it can be done with one person! We also work with local vets for extra support if your cat is really nervous and is in need for sedative.


During moving

Make sure the carrier is comfortable. Having smell that are familiar to your cat will have a calming effect. A cat blanket that they use or an older unwashed T-shirt from you could be a good option. You might want to consider using a Feliway Spray.

Feliway Classic is a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone (odourless to people and other animals) that cats leave behind when they rub their faces on the furniture, doorways, people’s legs and other objects in the home. It is clinically proven to support cats during stressful situations. So by spraying it on the carrier, it will help to lower their anxiety level. Spray generous on the carrier and the blankets.

Always wait about 15 minutes before letting your cat near any sprayed area.

If you travel on a hot day, you might want to factor in a few breaks so that you can make sure your cat drinks some water.

If you are travelling on a long journey that involve an overnight stay on the road, make sure to plan ahead to check that your accommodation is cat friendly. You don’t want to end up leaving your cat in the vehicle overnight.

As I mentioned earlier, if you were to take a transit overnight, please make sure your cat stuff are accessible. Don’t put them at the very top of the van! Cat bowls, small amount of cat food, litter tray and small amount of cat litter are all essential. I said small amount of food as you might not want to give them to much food. Stress might give them upset stomach so keep it light!

After moving

When you arrive to your new place, a lot of people make the mistake of opening the carrier and just the cat run free. They imagine the cats will be as excited as we are and will run around exploring their new homes. Nope…this Hollywood happy scene doesn’t actually happen. It’s more likely that your cat takes one cautious step out of the carrier and sniff around and might even go hiding under the sofa. Cats are predators and they are also preys. Being in a new environment full of new smell and new objects don’t excite them, it freaks them out! So please don’t do that to them.

Remember the ‘cat room’ I mentioned earlier? Keep them in there until they calm down and want to explore. They will usually let you know. Plus, the movers might still doing their jobs to move the last bits of things around, all the noise and fuss will stress out the cats. So keeping them away from it all as much as possible is a good idea. And trust me, movers are not going to be careful with the front door, they just want to move the stuff out of the van and into your house as quickly as possible. Leaving the front door open is a risk for your cat. Your cat can make a mad dash out the front door! So please keep them in one room to let them settle down. I can’t emphasise this enough. PLEASE PUT A BIG SIGN ON THE CAT ROOM DOOR THAT SAYS…

DO NOT OPEN THIS DOOR!

It is NOT enough to just tell the movers to not open the door, they WILL NOT remember, they are moving things, they are busy. The sign is ESSENTIAL.

Once the movers are gone and you close the front door. Check on your cats in the cat room. If they are not ready to come out or maybe you need to do some unpacking first, let them stay here. They will let you know when they are ready to explore the rest of the house. You might want to wait a bit before letting them in the kitchen or utility room. A nervous cat might end up hiding behind the fridge, you don’t want that to add to your stress level!

To help to ease your cats into exploring new areas of the house, once technique we can use is the transfer of scent. Use a piece of cotton fabric or cotton glove, rub your cat’s face to pick up the feline facial pheromone, and then rub on the furniture of the new areas of the house where you want to introduce your cats into. A more detailed explanation of this technique can be found in this fabulous book…

Some cats tend to get an upset stomach after the move due to stress. Plain boiled chicken breast usually will settle that. Of course, if you are worried, PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR VET.

Once you are in your new place, let’s the fun begins! Not only it is time to decorate your new nest, it is also fun time to do all the catification for your cats! If you need any inspiration, check out all my post under the ‘catification‘ category.

If you were going to let your cat outside, please wait for 6 weeks before doing so, so that they can get used to the new house. And this is very important – make sure you have updated the microchip information with the new address!

Then you can sit back and relax, and enjoy your new home with your feline friends!

Have you moved with your cat? How did it go? If you have any personal tip, please be in touch! I would love to hear from you. 

Catification – a ‘Mud Room’ for the cat flap, integrated into the kitchen!

Catification – a ‘Mud Room’ for the cat flap, integrated into the kitchen!

In the cat behaviour world, we know that cat flaps can sometimes be the source of anxiety for cats. Of course, cat flap is a very handy for cats to go in and out by themselves. However, other cats can also come in and out by themselves. These days, a lot of cat flaps work with microchip so this prevent other cats from coming in. However, I have worked with cats who have anxiety issues because they don’t know that other cats can’t come in! Plus, the cat flap can bring in smell and noise from the outside. So to some cats, cat flap is the breach of the safety to their castle and that could create lots of anxiety issues to some cats.

Today, we are going to look at an example how some human solve this problem.

There it is, a ‘Mud Room’ for the cat flap integrated into the kitchen cupboard…

This is such a good idea! This little box provides some buffer for any cats that are going in and going out of the cat flap. I can imagine they feel much safer being able to check out the environment before diving into the outside world. Also, if any cat from the outside does sneak in, this buffer zone also gives the inside cat a change to project their castle by guarding this place.

I can imagine, it will be a particularly good set up in house where they are dogs and toddlers. In case the cat is coming into the house, there won’t be a chance that the dog or the toddler accidentally blocking their entrance or poking their head out to spook the cat, etc.

As an additional advantage, this mud room does catch mud! It will be easy to clean in one confined area than to have cats drag mud all over the place, especially if you have light colour decoration around the house.

Now, let’s meet the lucky users of this amazing catification project!

Say hi to Polo…He is a little shy and I haven’t been working with him long yet so you can see he is a bit alarm by me taking photo of him.

Here is Gaby, who is also from Hong Kong just like my Larmlarm! It’s not often I get to meet a cat from my home town!

This family also has an under staircase private kitty bathroom, similar to the one what I have featured recently.

Have you done any catification project? If you have, please be in touch! I would love to feature you on here! 

How to introduce new cat to your home?

How to introduce new cat to your home?

I must have answered this question a million times, so I decide to put everything down in writing once and for all.

A lot of first time cat parent imagine this – they adopt a cat from the shelter, they took the cat home, the cat will be overjoyed to have a new family. They will run straight into the home, jump around exploring, run back into their arms, give them a big hug, purring because they are grateful to be given a new home. And they live happily ever after…

Basically, Hollywood style happy ending.

It could potentially be the case with a dog, but I can guarantee you in 99% of the cats, it wouldn’t be the case.

It will be more like this…

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Yes, – you open the cat carrier, they might smell around for a few second, dash to seek cover, and end up behind the sofa.

When Adam in Tallinn took Laima home from a shelter, he didn’t expect Laima to be hiding behind the sofa like this. He contacted me through Facebook and asked me for advice.

That’s the wonderful thing about the internet, I can get to connect with cat lovers around the world and help them with their cat problems!

I explained Adam, hiding is a normal cat behaviour when moving to a new family, we need to let them hide until they feel secure. The more we try to get them out of hiding the more they will retreat. The only thing we could do is make Laima’s hiding experience more comfortable.

So I asked Adam if it is possible to set up a quiet room for Laima for her to settle down. A lot of cats need to hide to feel secure. They will eventually come out to explore when they feel they are secured (i.e. they slowly realise no one is going to kill them!) She will come out to join the rest of the family when she is ready.

Funny enough, in a very Estonian style, the only quiet room in the house is the sauna!! The rest of the house is modern open plan design!

I explained to Adam, if he wants Laime to come out from behind the sofa, he needs to make the ‘cat sauna’ super attractive from a cat point of view. It means, cat cave, food, water, litter tray, maybe even toys though most cats don’t feel like playing at this stage since they are too nervous.

So Adam and I worked together to set up the first ever cat sauna in my career!

Of course, we wouldn’t turn the sauna on due to safety reason, but the sauna is in a quiet part of the house, the light is dim and the atmosphere is cozy. So Adam did this…

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As you can see in the picture, a cat cave bed is set up, scratching post, food and water.

Ideally, a cat room like this should be set up before the cat’s arrival, so that we can open the cat carrier and let the cat straight into this.

However, Adam already missed the boat, so now the question is, how to get Laima out from behind the sofa and moved into this beautiful cat room/sauna?

There are two ways to go about this, we could either actively pick up Laima and moves her or we can let her go into this room in her own accord.

Obviously, the latter is preferred. Not only trying to pick up a nervous cat newly come out from shelter might give you a few scratches, it will also increase their anxiety level. You don’t want to start your relationship with your cat on the wrong foot!

So we decided to go for the second option – luring Laime to move into this cat room/sauna/paradise (haha).

To make it super attractive to Laima so that she will come out from behind the sofa and move into this sauna instead, I advised Adam to make a box cat cave as well. We all know cats LOVE boxes. Adam was puzzled because he got a beautiful store brought fluffy cat cave already! I said to him, Laima will probably use the fluffy cat cave in the future, but a box, for some reasons will do some magic.

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I also advised Adam to put down some extra yummy food to attract Laima to move into the sauna. Extra yummy food could be things like – luxury wet food, tuna, chicken breast, etc. Not things they eat on day to day basis but food that cats very rarely can resist.

As I have predicted, very shortly, Laima came out from the sofa and moved into the cat sauna.

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I was overjoyed when Adam set me this above photo shortly after our chat on Facebook!

In a few days time, Laima settled in the new family really well. The photo is below is take just 2 days after.

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As you can see by her body language, she was still a bit anxious. But she was not hiding anymore. Her facial expression was still shy but curious, which is a good sign towards the right direction.

A few days after…Laima was finally HOME.

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One month after…

Laima now sleeps on Adam’s bed every night and she is not spooked whenever Adam walked past her anymore.

As for the cat cave Adam carefully picked up and spent money on?

Unused.

We cat lovers have all been there, welcome to the club, Adam!

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And now is a happy ending.

So to recap…

before

How to introduce a new cat to your home: 

  1. Set up a cat room before your cat’s arrival
  2. Set up food, water, litter tray, cat bed, cat hiding places. If you don’t have a store bought cat cave, use a box and put in some blanket.
  3. On cat’s arrival, let him/her in the cat room
  4. Close the door behind you to let him/her settle down if cat is very nervous
  5. In a few hours time, you can leave the door ajar. When cat is ready, he/she will come out to explore.
  6. For at least the first few days of the settle down period, make sure this cat room is accessible to them as they might retreat back to this room if they feel anxious again. If you are not lack of space, consider to leave the cat room set up for longer period of time.
  7. Cat room is also a valuable practice during festival period, or when you have house guests, or you have builders in to do work around the house or having a newborn baby, etc.

A special shout out to the shelter where Adam got Laima.logo13

Just like most animal charities around the world, funding is never enough. Please pop over and give them some support.

Website: http://www.pets.ee/eng/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hoiupaik/

 

Do you remember how it was when you took your cat home the first time? I would love to hear your story! Talk to me! 

 

 

Cat Cafe: Nurri Kassikohvik – Tallinn, Estonia

Cat Cafe: Nurri Kassikohvik – Tallinn, Estonia

Guys! I am now a contributor on the famous Katzenworld!

My first post has just gone up!

I had the pleasure to be invited last October to visit Nurri Kassikohvik – the cat cafe in Tallinn, Estonia. Not only I got to visit the cafe, I was also invited to give a talk on the subject of cat!

Nurri Kassikohvik situates in a super handy city centre location in Tallinn in the heart of one of the major shopping areas. It is a short walk away from the Old Town. So you really have no excuse not to visit if you are a tourist in Tallinn!

Read the full post here!