Does Your Cat Have Senile Dementia?


Julie and Janie

Cats are the most delightful and surprising creatures. They can be exasperating and captivating, all within minutes. I have lived with cats almost all my life. When I have had cats, I have wished that I didn’t and when I was without a cat, I could hardly wait until I adopted another one.

I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable about cats, their peculiarities and their antics, but one thing I was not prepared for was the diagnosis of my cat’s problem by the vet. She had already been diagnosed with early stage kidney disease, but I had expected that, since she was somewhere between 12 and 16 years old. The diagnosis for her crazy behavior was -what? Senility.

That was a surprise to me. I had never considered that cats, and dogs too, could live long enough to become senile. It seems that our pets are susceptible to the same diseases and conditions as we are.

Better food, living conditions and treatments for diseases have allowed our pets to live longer and healthier lives. As they grow older, their brainpower can slip.

Signs of senility in Cats

Does your cat have senile dementia? Here are some symptoms to look for: loud vocalizing, not using her litter box, not grooming herself, acting disoriented, staring at nothing, sleeping more and more, does not want to be petted or picked up, not eating food, but eating non-food such as: litter, paper, plastic, sand. (eating non-food is a condition known as pica).

Some of these symptoms also indicate arthritis or kidney disease and deafness or blindness. Cats may suddenly refuse food they have always eaten before. Cats depend upon smell to find their food, and if they have lost a sense of smell, it may be difficult to persuade them to eat what you have put down.

With kidney disease, cats will sometimes suffer from nausea, which drives them to eat non-foods, which, in turn causes them to vomit. After these episodes, they are frantic for food and you are right back to where you were again. By the way, if she has emptied her stomach and is through heaving up, she will beg for food. Go ahead and feed her.

All of these activities will leave your cat full of anxiety.

A Tale of Two Cats: How We Arrived at Feline Dementia

I adopted two female cats through Pet Smart’s adoption program in the fall of 2007. They were litter mates and had been together since birth. One was a tortoise shell and the other was a tuxedo cat. Janie was a cat of all colors, and her sister, Julie, was black with white markings. The story was that they were about two years old and their elderly owner could no longer care for them. Julie, the black and white one, jumped all over the cage and ran her feet up and down the glass to get my attention.

Julie and Janie

She was successful. I took them home. I soon found out that Janie had stomach problems. There were days when she could not eat at all. The vet was puzzled, and so was I. I finally allowed the pet hospital to do an endoscopy. The only thing we could find after the procedure was that she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

I should mention something about the girl’s sizes. Julie, the black one was a small boned cat with a normal weight of about 6 to 7 pounds. Janie was a larger boned cat with a normal weight of 8 to 10 pounds. The Veterinary Hospital I was using didn’t have much to offer on how to treat Janie.


I found a Veterinarian who practiced a blend of holistic and modern medicine. We found that Janie was allergic to almost every kind of food normal cats will eat. We put her on a diet of the foods she wasn’t allergic to and The vet also put her on a low dosage of prednisone. I soon had a brand new happy cat. She gained weight and no more constant vomiting.

I also noticed Julie’s attitude toward Janie. It was one of custodial care. Julie groomed Janie every day from head to toe. She also left some food in her dish, which Janie obligingly ate. Julie slept almost on Janie every day and night as if she was keeping Janie warm and safe.

I started calling Julie, “nurse Julie.” So it continued through the years until finally, last year Janie lost her eyesight and was no longer able to get around the house. She was completely lost. I had no choice but to put her to rest.

I’m not sure what was going through Julie’s mind. We were in the middle of covid and it was difficult getting to the vet’s office. She had a brief bout with a urinary tract infection. She has gained weight, since she isn’t saving food for Janie.

However, she is exhibiting almost all the signs of feline senile dementia, pica included.

Ways to Treat Feline Senile Dementia

There is no one way to treat senility in your cat. It is all trial and error. The first thing I had to do was stop Julie from eating litter. I think she was just licking the litter, but if she got some in her mouth, she swallowed it. She immediately vomited it up, along with anything else in her stomach.

My fear was that with clumping litter she could develop a mass in her stomach that she couldn’t pass. A blockage is serious stuff. I tried shredding newspaper for her box.  She would not use it. I tried just plain paper to line her box. No way would she use it. So I lined her box with newspaper and put just a light covering of litter over the paper. She will use that.

The newspaper lining seems to be discouraging her from trying to lick the litter. Clean up? not too difficult, Lay one complete sheet of paper as your top sheet, then put a light topping of litter over it. After she uses it, I can carefully scoop two or three times before pulling out the soiled paper.

Maintenance is not a big problem. Carefully slide out the soiled paper from the litter. It will sift onto the next layer of paper in the box. When I’m down to the last layer of paper, I clean everything up and re-line the box.

For Julie the trick is to always have food down for her. She is a grazer by nature. That is, she will eat a few bites and leave. Later, she comes and eats a few bites more. I have dry food down all the time, and she will eat it, but that is not her favorite fare. She likes the canned food and the stuff with the gravy on it.

Foods high in antioxidants, vitamin E, Beta Carotene, and fatty acids are recommended for these cats. However, some cats will not eat what you want them to eat.

Whatever your cat’s preference is for food, keep it the same. If she gets picky about the food, just try different things until she settles on a favorite.

Julie has three places to sleep in the apartment and I always look for her in those three places. You will spend quite a bit of time going through the house making sure your cat is not into something that will harm her.

Right now Julie is on Gabapentin twice a day to help with her arthritis pain. She sleeps a lot during the day, but will be up and about in the evening. If your senile cat suffers from Arthritis, your vet can prescribe something to lessen the pain.

I also have bought a diffuser with an essential pet remedy oil that seems to calm her. In addition, I have a rescue remedy that can be sprayed into the air, or rubbed directly on the cat’s head (just a drop or two), or put into her water bowl (just 3 or 4 drops).These are available through your vet, or at any pet store, or online.


If your cat is 14 or older and is exhibiting strange behavior-yowling, missing the box, eating non-food items, not grooming– she may be exhibiting the beginnings of senility. Check with your vet to make sure there is nothing physically wrong, before you decide she is just getting old.

Remember, along with old age, cats will have arthritis and possibly kidney disease. The vet can treat other physical causes in older cats as well.

These things you can do to help your cat cope with old age: Feed them their favorite foods, keep litter boxes clean, use a diffuser with essential oils to calm your cat, or a topical rescue remedy. Don’t change the furniture around. Leave everything in exactly the same place. Your cat may be losing her sight, but if everything is in the same place, she should be able to maneuver around.

She may not be able to jump up to her favorite spots because of arthritis, –your bed, or the couch, or in the window. In that case, set out a stool or steps, so she can climb up to her favorite place. Pet her and hold her, if she wants and lightly groom her if she likes it.  Above all, be patient. If you have had a good relationship with your cat, she will come to you, when things are not going well for her.

Squabbling over making the bed


Pictures are old. They were taken when the cats were young.

I’m Barbara Nelson, and I hope you enjoyed this story of my two cats. Feline Senility was new to me and I wanted to let cat lovers  know that it may happen to your older fur babies.

My thanks to,, and Animal  Health and Healing in St. Louis for information for this post.

3. Is there a bond between felines and humans?


Cats at play

It seems logical that all mammals would have a certain bond that holds them together because of certain similarities. In the scientific world, Man is included in the animal kingdom in the class Mammalia.

We have the same attributes that other mammals have; that is, we bear young alive, and we produce milk for them. Continue reading “3. Is there a bond between felines and humans?”

Understanding a cat’s body Language


My last post concentrated on the sounds and voices that cats use to communicate with each other and their humans. After finishing that post, I decided that I needed to go further and point out actual body language that cats use in conjunction with their voices.

Cats are complex creatures. There is nothing simple about cats. That most likely comes from cats being meat eaters and therefore predators by  Continue reading “Understanding a cat’s body Language”

Why Do Cats Act Weird?

INTRO: Why do cats act weird?

Fill my bowl, please

If you own a cat, and happen to have a friend that also owns a cat, the two of you may often start a conversation about the crazy things your cat does.

When human beings progressed to the point of raising animals for meat, fur and hides; they also discovered that dogs made good herding animals.

Humans also found that dogs would stay with them for food and a place to get in out of the weather. They discovered that dogs could be trained to herd animals and bark to warn for predators. Dogs could even be taught to attack certain animals and not others. Continue reading “Why Do Cats Act Weird?”

Choosing the Right Food for your Cat


It’s rather easy to obtain a pet. Sometimes a cat or a dog will simply show up at your doorstep. And you, being a soft touch for those big begging eyes, open the door and let the creature in–to your house and your heart.

The other way to obtain a pet is to first decide what you want — cat or dog– and then go looking at the local shelters for that certain creature that will share your living space for ten to 15 years.

That is where I found my two cats. They are litter mates and I adopted them in 2007. They were about two years old and according to the shelter people their owner could no longer care for them. We went home and began the process of settling in.

Julie, a tuxedo(Black and white), ate whatever came her way, and turned the hallway between living room and bedroom into a runway. Janie, a tortoise shell was a willing accomplice to whatever Julie decided to get into.

It wasn’t long until I realized that Janie had food problems.

Julie and Janie in my big chair

She literally could not digest most food I set out for her. That bit of knowledge started a thirteen year battle with food–what could she eat ? what would she keep down? I have read dozens of food labels, numerous articles on food; we have visited vets, studied food allergies.etc.

I found out so much about cat foods, the best ingredients, raw foods, home cooked foods, specialty foods, cheap foods, expensive foods, brand name foods.  There are certain ingredients in foods that cats need for good health, good coats and long life. I began to realize that choosing the right food for your cat, and my cat, is more than price and advertising.

Choosing the right food for your cat- meat eaters

Simply put, cats are carnivores, more to the point, obligate carnivores-that is meat eaters. Originally, cats were tolerated  around the farm and in the barns because they were death to the mice.  Cats could live on small rodents and birds as their sole food before humans began to invent such things as mouse traps and poisons to kill rodents.

Years ago. I remember walking by the isles of foods with my mother and there was one all purpose food for cats and dogs labled Ideal dog and cat food. Mother bought several cans every week for our cat and dog.  A daily treat was milk. In addition, the pets got trimmings off chicken and beefs cuts.

Today, the dog and cat sections are separate, with all kinds of branded foods. Foods  of all kinds and flavors designed to take care of any and all kinds of special problems that your cat might have. We have all spent so much time time reading labels, so as to be sure we are getting the right thing for our beloved pet.

Reading labels-Selecting Brands

There are so many brand labels that it takes an expert to choose the right food for your cat. It takes a while to figure out what is inside the can. Two label sections that must be read carefully in order to learn what is inside the mystery can are the Ingredients and Guaranteed analysis.

Labels and ingredients on food cans

Ingredients:   Lists water, meats, veggies, vitamins and minerals in each serving. Ingredients are listed in reverse order of amount in each can. For instance, if water is listed first, then water(sufficient for processing) is the largest ingredient, then next largest amount is pork,then chicken,etc all the way down to supplements to trace minerals.

Guaranteed Analysis: lists protein, fat, fiber, moisture, ash, and other items depending upon what category the prepared food is designed for such as weight management, sensitive skin, digestive system, urinary tract, etc.

Somewhere on the label you should find that this food meets nutritional standards of AAFCO cat food nutrient profile. You will also find the manufacturer’s name and address. Look them up online for more details.

When shopping for cat food, protein should be the highest percentage. Fiber and fat should be lesser percentages and ash should be small percentage such as 1 to 2.5, 2.8% or at most 3.2 %. It is believed that  a smaller percentage of ash is better for keeping the urinary tract healthy.

If your kitty is a healthy, happy cat, that plays a lot, eats well, and gets a good health review from her vet, you should not have too much difficulty finding good healthy food for your furry buddy.  Grocery stores usually carry two or three brand name canned and dry foods.

You can usually find, for a moderate price, Friskies, Purina, Blue Buffalo, and other brands in your grocery stores. You have the information on the labels to help you select good food for your cat. You will also have the choice of dry or canned food.

Your cat may have a preference.   A lot of working people like the convenience of dry food. It can be left out all day and your cat can eat at will. Be sure you have a water bowl close by. Cats need to drink lots of water with dry food.

Pet stores carry more brands of cat food than all purpose grocery stores. Some carry their own brand which is a little less expensive than specialty brands. You will find a full line of Purina, Blue Buffalo, Hills, Royal Canin, and several others.

Of all the  brands you will find, my preference are the brands I have mentioned. I have always been able to find good nutritional food that my cats like with these brands.

But what about Janie and her special food problem?

Specialty Foods, Prescription Diet Foods

Choosing the right foods for my cat turned out to be a life-long search. I had an excellent Veterinary service in my town, and we went through numerous tests and trials of different foods. Nothing stayed down. It got to the point that I wanted to scream when I heard that retching sound that came shortly after she ate.

She was losing weight. Through tests we eliminated everything but the possibility of IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease). Finally the vet suggested that we do an Endoscopy to see if anything was growing in the digestive area or a malfunction.

I left her overnight and came back for her the next afternoon. By process of elimination, the diagnosis was IBD. The vet suggested Hill’s prescription diet food.

I have to tell you, Janie is a fighter. She is a normal sized adult female cat with a normal weight of 8 to 10 pounds. She weighed just a lttle over 4 pounds when I took her home after her endoscopy. I made a bed for her on the foot of my bed. She stayed there for 3 days-only getting down to go use the litter box- then back up to the bed.

Hill’s Prescription Diet didn’t help and I decided I needed a different Vet with some different solutions.I found a Holistic vet that uses both natural remedies with latest trends.

First we did a check of food allergies-found out Janie was allergic to almost all foods normal cats eat! Beef, Duck,Lamb, potatoes, milk, oats, plus some additional items with very small allergic reactions. She wasn’t allergic to eggs, fish,chicken, turkey, rice, venison, peas.

That’s when I learned to read ingredients. The surprise for me was how many processed cat foods have potatoes as a base that holds foods together. We put her on venison- in fact Julie ate venison too- for a long time and Janie gained her normal weight back (10 lbs). I no longer heard that awful retching sound.

Janie did well for several years with Venison and other “wild” meats that I could get through my Veterinarian. We also had her on a probiotic and an Omega-3 fish oil. She began to build up an intolerance to the food that had worked so well and she was back to being unable to hold anything down.

By now Janie was 10 or 11 years old. My vet put her on prednisolone.

Janie curled around her water bowl

That is where she is today. The only thing that keeps her from vomiting everything she eats is the prednisolone. She is 15.

Choosing the right food for your cat- many choices for many situations

Some owners today want to tailor their pet’s diet for special nutritional needs:breed, size, health conditions and other defining traits. Personalized pet food is beginning to emerge as the latest trend in specialized diets.Big-brand names are looking at developing foods that address certain diseases that haven’t been included before.

Special grain-friendly foods are being developed to minimize allergies  and skin disorders. The food industry is also looking at special food formulas that will calm anxiety issues.

There is no end to specialized foods that are tailored for life stages and genetics.There are also plenty of dry foods available for pets , but some  owners are opting for fresh,human grade diets.

Most of these personalized food choices are for dogs at this point, but the demand for similar specialties for cats is in the wings. One company  —Smalls, out of New York,is offering fresh, freeze-dried,and kibble cat food subscriptions.

As long as we have cute little kittens and puppies that are looking for a home and people who fall in love with these adorable little fur balls, we will have companies working on foods that will appeal to the palates of these delightful babies, and also appeal to their owners.

I hope that the information in this article is helpful for people who have pets with dietary problems, as well as pets who just like to eat and entertain their owners. Keep reading those labels.

I’m Barbara Nelson and I would love to hear from my readers, Janie and Julie would love to hear from you, too.

Litter and Litter Boxes–A Review

General overview

If you have a cat, you have a  litter box(es) with litter in it(them).  There are as many litter boxes and kinds of litter as there are cats–or it seems that way. Walk into any  full size pet store and you will find a full wall of litter products and varieties of boxes to hold the litter.

Store litter section

If you have one cat, you will certainly have one litter box, or perhaps two, if you listen to the experts. Experts say that for every cat in the household, you should have one litter box per cat plus one. Translation: If you have 2 cats, you should have 3 boxes. Realistically: one cat, one box; two cats, two boxes etc.

A Review of Litter Boxes

Since there are not quite as many box designs as there are litter varieties, I am going to  review boxes first. Go into any pet store and you will find:

  •   Self-cleaning boxes that drop down the solids for easy extraction
  • Throw away boxes made of a heavy cardboard that can be discarded with the litter – designed for a short term stay
  • Plastic boxes designed for corner areas
  • Small boxes with low sides- designed for small areas- and small kitties.
  • Boxes with high sides-designed to keep litter in the box and not on the floor outside the box
  • High sided boxes with low cut entrance for easy access by kitty
  • Robot boxes  that you apparently never have to touch
  •  Closed top boxes for Kitty privacy

Prices run any where from $10 to $40. A lot depends on where you intend to put the box and how much you feel like spending. Remember it needs to be scooped at least once a day. The box needs to be completely cleaned once a week– that is– old litter dumped, box washed out with plain water, dried and refilled with fresh litter.

Unless you are totally into the latest high tech items on the market, I recommend keeping things simple. Your cat wants a place to go when nature demands it. If you have a large cat(10+lbs.) get a large box–regular rectangular, or high- sided( if your cat is young and agile and you don’t want to sweep litter everyday). Remember, one cat-one litter box; two cats- two litter boxes.

Litter box station

Litter boxes should be placed well away from the feeding area and in a low traffic area. Cats like privacy. If you live in a small, one-bedroom apartment as I do with no enclosed porch, your bathroom becomes the cats’ bathroom as well.

A review of what goes in the box

Again, I’m going to list the kinds of litter, by that I mean, the additives that go into the litter for review.  But first a little history.  Before World War II, most cats were outside animals, mostly because of the bathroom situation.

Cats traditionally dig a hole in loose sand or dirt, do their business and then cover it up. It’s tidy, but not for indoor living. People who really wanted to keep their cats indoors were relegated to using sand or dirt and ashes.  This led to an everyday major cleaning job.

An enterprising gentleman by the name of Ed Lowe was introducing  “Fullers Earth” or Kiln dried clay to people with chickens  and wondered if it would answer the cat problem. In 1947 he filled 5 lb. sacks with his clay and marked it “Kitty Litter “and charged 69 cents.

It sold. That was the beginning of the company Tidy Cat. Many companies with special reasons why you should buy their litter have come on the market since then.

Besides clay litter, there are other products on the market for Kitty’s use: wheat litter, wood chips litter, that all tout a cleaner way to take care of your cat’s bathroom chores.

The first litter was just that: litter. No additives, no clumping, no deodorant. Just plain litter. You put it in a pan and set it on the floor, in a corner. You could scoop out the solids, but you stirred the rest to let the litter dry out.

When the smell got to be too much, you took the pan outside and dumped the smelly litter somewhere in the weeds or in the bushes.

Then someone invented a way to make litter clump. When the cat urinates in the litter box an additive causes the wet litter to clump into a firm ball. It’s a simple non odorous way to scoop up the clump and the solids and toss into the garbage.

Kinds of Litter

  • Non -clumping Litter
  • Clumping Litter
  • Flushable Litter

Clumping litter is the most popular type of litter, so I’m saving that to explore last.

Non-Clumping Litter is usually clay with no clumping additive.  It can also be made with paper, pine sawdust, even grass. The trouble with non-clumping litter is that urine can pool under the litter  and cause a bad smell.

Litter can also be made from crystals that change color if your cat has a kidney or bladder infection.  For cats prone to this problem, a litter that can give you an early signal that something is wrong, is worth using.

Flushable Litter is a great environmentally friendly choice. Flushable litters are made from corn, wood, or wheat, or walnut shells. When your cat uses the litter box, just flush the mess down the toilet and forget it.

Clumping Litters are probably most used. Litter is mostly made of clay, but can be made of wheat or walnut -shells. You have a large list of additives to choose from:

  • Dust-free
  • Scent-free
  • odor-free
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • fresh scent
  • Multi-cat
  • Lightweight
  • Ultra attractant

Some of these are self explanatory. We will talk about those in a minute. Some may not be so clear. Most cats know what a litter box is and how and when to use it. Some cats have a little trouble learning to use a litter box so some litters have an attractant ( a smell that tells them this is the place).

If you are having trouble litter-box training your kitten, you will definitely want a litter with an Ultra Attractant added .

Some companies have come up with a litter that will clump better, be more odor free and whatever else you want a litter to do when there are several cats in the house. These are labeled Multi-Cat.

Lightweight--Let’s face it, litter is heavy, so at least one company has come up with a lightweight version of  a ten or 15 lb. container of litter. Supposed to work as well as the heavyweight kind. You might use more, which means that you might be buying it more often.

Cats are peculiar about scents. Some will accept a scent added to the litter, others will absolutely not. You will have to work that out with the cat.

Litter Recommendations for Cat Households

The cost of a container of litter varies, depending on what you want the litter to do. Clay litters are less expensive than the environmentally friendly ones. Containers come in a variety of sizes: 10, 12, 15, 20 lbs.

I recommend that you get a dust-free, good clumping, scent-free litter.  That is the minimum that you will want to use for your cats.

Store Refill Station

There is one other choice of a dust-free, clumping, scent-free litter that is easy on the pocketbook and it is offered at a well-known pet chain. All you have to do is to return to the store with your container and refill it. You can buy a 16lb or 32lb container of litter. You get a dollar off for a refill. You can do this as long as you have cats. I currently pay $6 for a 16lb container once a week. I have two cats.

Scent-free, dust-free and good clumping litter is good for most cat households. I recommend a litter with these three  components, nothing less, to be the necessary elements to look for in any litter. Other additives will depend on any special needs you may have for your household.

Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know what you think of my litter review. Leave your comments below. Barbara Nelson











What Are the Differences between Feral and Domesticated Cats?

Cats are Cats

Regardless of the conditions where cats live, they are pretty much the same as far as personality and mannerisms are concerned. Cats are opinionated. Cats do what appeals to them. Cats protect their territory. You will see these characteristics in both feral and domesticated cats.

Cats love food. No matter how many times you have fed your cat, she will come back for more. Food says “home” to cats. Cats approach food in one of two ways.

cats Eating

Some cats operate on the theory that food must be devoured immediately because it may be the last meal they will be given. Other cats ration it out over a long period of time- eat some now, save the rest for later, because it may be the last meal they will be given.

Cats like to be clean. They approach cleanliness in unique ways. Nature gave them a scrub brush and located it in their mouths.They use their tongues to clean out foreign stuff in their coats, work out snags in their fur and clean between their toes.They wash their paws and then use their paws to scrub their faces.

Mother cats will groom their kittens several times a day. Grown cats that live in the same household will often groom each other.

Feral Cats vs Domesticated Cats

The word “feral” means wild, a wild animal. A true feral cat is a cat that is born into a feral colony. But, what are the differences between Feral and Domesticated cats?

Male feral cats tend to be larger than male domesticated cats. Feral males are heavy, muscular animals with scars on their faces, ears and hind legs.

Feral cats tend to collect in colonies. They are safer in groups and kittens are safer with several females to look after them. Female feral cats are devoted mothers. Feral cats are mostly nocturnal. They sleep all day and roam after nightfall. Feral cats are smart, social among themselves, and good problem solvers.

Most adult Feral cats never make good house pets. They are always on high alert and spook easily. They don’t transition well from living outside to becoming inside pets.

All cats are very protective of food. If there are several cats in the household, each one will watch the others while they are eating to make sure no one tries to grab another’s meal.

Cat with Food

Cats in the wild often rip off their portion of a kill and carry it off so they can eat while watching the others.

Some people have found a fairly docile cat among a feral colony and point to this as proof that feral cats can be tamed. More likely they probably have found a domesticated cat that was lost from or abandoned by their owners.

Strays will join a feral colony for safety, and these strays will remember their better days. Strays that are found in a feral colony will readily submit to petting and may be happy to become a house cat once again.

Turning Feral into Domesticated Cats

I just got through saying in a paragraph above that feral cats seldom make good indoor pets. But, if you see a cat you really want, and you have lots of time on your hands we can explore the possibility of turning a feral cat into a domesticated creature. Well, it is possible. But you, my friend, must have infinite patience, and you must let the cat think it is her idea.

Even though feral cats are wary of human beings, they can be coaxed with food. All cats love food and they will follow, at a safe distance, out of curiosity, to see where you’ re going with the food.

If you have one, for whatever reason, follow you home, don’t expect her to come in the house, or even come up on the porch. In fact, after you put down the food, the cat may disappear. Later, you will also notice that the food has disappeared, too. You can follow this routine for days, or weeks, before she will eat the food with you there.
cat eating

Then, one day, to your surprise, she will show up at your door. No more going out to find her and guide her to your house with the food. She has taken the next step-she now comes to you for food. She may let you sit with her while she eats.

Now is the time to make a little bed on the porch or patio, or near the back door–where ever she comes for her meal. Make a little lean to or someplace where she can get in out of the elements.This may be as far as the relationship goes. She will trust you for food and shelter and she will make a great outdoor pet.

When she trusts you enough to let you pick her up and brush and pet her make arrangements with a vet to have her neutered or spayed. I use the pronoun “she” in reference to the cat, but male or female, your life will be easier –no kittens or no male yowls. After that little operation, she may be wiling to come inside upon occasion.

Domesticating a feral cat is a long process and takes patience.


Some compassionate people that hate to see feral cat populations wiped out by rounding up and euthanizing all the adults have instituted a program called T-N-R -Trap Neuter Return. T-N-R is considered a humane approach to the feral cat overpopulation. This program takes some veterinarians, willing to give their services and volunteers willing to give their time, so that feral cats can live in their colonies without continuing to increase the population.

It’s a simple action. Volunteers round up the males primarily, and take them to a veterinarian for a simple, quick operation, that they recover from quickly. They are returned to the colony and the colony continues without a continuous increase in kittens.

Cat and volunteer

Simply put, if you feed and water outdoor cats, you have to get them fixed. Female cats can have 2 to 3 litters each year. Each litter will have 5 to 6 kittens. The female kittens from those litters can breed at 6 months of age. It doesn’t take long to be overrun with kitties. Spaying and neutering can stop the over breeding, as well as the yowling, spraying and fighting.

There are opponents to T-N-R. They say it just doesn’t work. Cats may not make as many kittens, but they are susceptible to rabies and other diseases from being on the streets. Also, volunteers get tired of feeding and watering them over the long haul. Helping strays is a long term commitment. Outdoor cats can live five to 8 years depending upon the hazards they encounter.


The only real way the help lower the cat overpopulation is to educate humans to be responsible for their pets. Cats should be taken to the vet to be altered anytime after 6 months of age. Cats should be seen by a vet at least once a year and they should be given the necessary shots. Above all, they should be kept inside.

It may seem romantic to let the cat roam free but it isn’t. It’s irresponsible. Pets cannot take care of themselves. We have made them dependent upon us for everything.

For those who would like to read up on cats, roaming and otherwise, an English Veterinarian, James Heriot, has written a number of books on his encounters with pets and farm animals as well as their humans. The book I recommend is: All Creatures Great and Small. Any bookstore can get it for you. For information on T-N-R, check on Google.

I’m Barbara Nelson I’d like to hear from my readers. Let me know what you think.


Traveling with a Cat in the Car

In the Beginning

Cats don’t like to travel. Ask any self-respecting cat if she would like to take a ride and you’ll get a definite answer- with a paw swipe on any part of your body she can reach. Cats are tied to their living space- a house, an apartment, the barn, etc. Unless she was born in a house trailer or a boat, she will not take easily to a moving vehicle.

That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you, her owner and loving friend. She just doesn’t understand why you have to be traveling around all the time. She thinks you should be as content with your home as she is.

Truth of the matter is : your cat probably suffers from motion sickness. When cats look out the window of a moving car, they see a moving world from a static place. That would make almost anyone slightly nauseous. That doesn’t mean that cats can’t travel, it means that if you’re traveling with a cat in the car you just have to work with them.

Planning for the Trip

Before we get too deep into the trip planning, I need to clarify a few things. First, Don’t plan to take your cat on your vacation trip, unless you have no other option. Cats really don’t like to travel, they prefer to say home.

Try to find someone you trust to come over once or twice a day to clean the litter box, put out fresh water and put food down. The other option is to find a good, clean boarding facility for pets. Go check it out first. Plan on boarding your cat with her own bed or favorite “blankie.” Provide enough of her favorite food for the time you will be gone.

Now, back to getting your cat ready to travel, if necessary. This is not going to be easy, but find a harness for your cat and put it on her. Allow yourself some time. If you can, have another person to help you because you can be sure kitty won’t cooperate.

Be sure the harness is snug and your protesting cat can’t wiggle her head or a couple of legs out. She will be lying down with all this activity and she is determined not to get up and stand on her four feet, or walk for that matter. You patiently stand her up and gently pull on the leash to get her to walk. She will immediately flop down on her side while you end up dragging her across the floor.

You will be doing this activity for quite some time. Several days, or several weeks, depending upon how stubborn your cat is. Some cats will never tolerate a harness. In that case she will have to travel in a carrier. Get a carrier that is roomy enough for your cat to turn around in.

Take your cat for short rides in the car. Put her harness on or put her in her carrier and take some short rides. See if she will eventually learn to ride without panic. Make a trip to the veterinarian with your cat. Make sure she is in good health and all her vaccinations are current. The vet can also suggest medication that will keep your cat calm while traveling.

Ready for Travel

Now that you have done everything for travel with the cat, it is now time to get the rest of the family ready for the trip. On the day of departure, pack the cat in the car first. Feed your cat several hours before you put her in the car. Now you can pack out everything else that is needed without trying to keep track of the cat. Keep kitty confined in the back seat of the car in her harness or carrier while the car is moving.

If you were able to teach her to tolerate a harness, you can let her move around in the back seat. Be sure a leash is hooked to her harness, so you can control where she roams. Other things you will need for your cat include a litter box, a bowl for water, a food dish, litter, and her favorite food.

When you pull into a rest stop, let your harnessed cat out. Stay right with her and stay near the car. She is not a dog. You’re not going to take her for a walk.

Show your cat the litter box and a bowl of water. She will probably refuse both and will immediately want back into the safety of the car. If your cat is in a carrier, let her move around loose in the car until you are ready to resume traveling.

Do not be surprised if your cat refuses to use her litter box or drink or eat until you have stopped for the day. Let her get used to her new surroundings before offering her food. Show her where her litter box and water bowl are.

If you are taking your cat on your trip- make it a short trip. Cats just don’t travel well. Now if you must travel because of a job change, preparation for travel is much the same. A lot will depend upon how much time you have to get ready or where you are going. If you are going to a totally different climate, you need to be aware what your cat will need to acclimate herself.

In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do some advance shopping for the whole family. Find out what grocery stores, what department stores and pharmacies are available. Take extra medications with you that any of the family regularly takes.

If you are going to be on the road for a couple of nights, make reservations at a good motel for the family. Let them know that you have a cat, so that you won’t be turned away.

At the End of the Day

When you reach your destination at the end of each day, take the cat in first. You may want to confine her to an inside room or the bathroom while you unpack the car. When you are in for good, let your cat out to inspect her new digs. She will go over the place with great care. When she finally settles down, feed her and let her settle wherever she wants.

I would love to hear from you. Did I miss anything? Do you have an experience traveling with a cat?  you might notice I always refer to cats as of the female gender. It’s because they seem more female in character and actions.

Color and Breed Influences Cat and Dog Personalities Part 2: Cats


When I started this project, I had no idea it would expand to two articles. But when I began to put it together, I realized I had much too much material for just one article. So, both Cats and Dogs will get equal time. Personality wise, the dogs wouldn’t care or take offense, but the cats would expect equal time as their right.

A cat’s coat color can tell us something about her personality. I didn’t just make that statement up. As early as 1872 people have tried to link certain cat colors and patterns with certain personality types. We heard such descriptions as, “Temperamental Torties,” “Placid Tabbies,” or “White Mousers.”

Today’s domestic cats descended from one small group of African wildcats, who domesticated themselves about 10,000 years ago. They were all gray tabby cats resembling today’s African Wildcats- which would indicate that this color gene is dominant and carries through from generation to generation. Feral cats in rural areas in Europe and the USA usually have the same fur patterns.

You will notice that the rise of domestication in cats started much later than in dogs. Might be one reason our sweet little furry kitties sometimes act like crazy wild things. If you are a serious cat watcher, you might also see that every cat, no matter the color, or the circumstances of their lifestyle, believes that Royal blood courses through their veins.

Cat Colorization

We are going to start with the cats that have coats of many colors: The Tortoiseshell and Calico. Torties have no white in their black, red, cream coats, while calicoes have a generous smattering of white mixed with black, red and cream. Torties and Calicoes are usually female; it is rare to find a male calico. Torties are vocal about everything. Calico’s are lively and loving. In Japan, Calico’s are thought to bring good luck.

Orange cats- are more likely to be male- about one female to every five males is the ratio. These cats are lovable, but also assertive and aggressive. These male cats can also reach a good size–about ten to fifteen or more pounds and husky in build.

Red or Ginger colored cats are sweet, sassy and unpredictable. They may have the tabby markings as well.

Gray cats are the sophisticates of the cat world-secretly they like to be let loose to let the wild side out.

Tabby -these are lovers of the good life. They can be various shades of gray and black with the true lines and circles that label them tabbies. They are good-natured and friendly.

Tuxedo cats- They are always dressed for any party occasion-Black with white vest, four white feet, and some times a little white on the face, or white whiskers.They lovable, but independent creatures. If let out, they will roam far from home.

Black cats– their personality traits are closely related to their wild ancestors. Black cats were first seen in the wild. They are unpredictable and can roam far from home.

Chocolate Cats- are intelligent, playful, friendly and vocal.

White cats– are timid cats-they are at risk of congenital deafness. In

fact, many white cats are born deaf. Some white cats are born with blue eyes, or one blue and one green eye. They may also have poor vision. For these reasons white cats are usually home body’s, electing to stay close to their owner and close to home.


Siamese cats– Color Point and Seal Point- These cats are usually sleek in build, with long legs. They are assertive and vocal, to the point of driving you crazy.




The muted colors, blue, cream, gray and lilac are usually the Persian cats. These cats are playful, mischievous,and curious. They will run from one end of the house to the other, chasing invisible prey.


A couple of traits that are usually consistent in all cat color variations are the eyes and the white in almost all coats. Cats usually have green eyes or yellow eyes. The exceptions are the Siamese and  the white cats with blue eyes, or one blue eye and one green eye.

As to major colors, almost all cats have some white in their coats. Most usually the white occurs around the under side of the cat and the paws. Sort of looks like each cat stood at attention while someone poured paint over their backs, and as the color ran down their sides, it left the underside white, and missed the paws.

Now after singling out these color coded cats, those of us who own cats know that there are as many color combinations as there are cats.

Cats that I have owned

I have owned a number of cats during my adult years. My first cat was a calico- female. She was a loving cat–to me. She wouldn’t tolerate anyone else.  She barely tolerated my son and my husband. The vet got the spit and yowl treatment.

My in-laws lived on a farm in the state of Kansas. Now, there are usually cats around the farm and my father-in-law’s farm was no different. There were plenty of cats around. Most stayed in the barn, to get fresh milk at milking time, and to keep the mouse population down. However, once in a while a cat ,or cats would catch my father-in-law’s eye, and they were promoted to life in the house.

One summer when we were visiting, I noticed two orange and white cats up at the house that were unusual. They had almost exact color markings.  One had a white blaze down his forehead and the other one was a boxer-that is he would stand on his hind feet and box with his front feet. I fell in love.  My in-laws let us bring them home to St. Louis. My mother-in-law said she was sending them off to college. We named the one “Blaze” and the boxer-what else?-Ali. Blaze died from a kidney problem at three; Ali lived to thirteen.

Jake came to live with me a few years later. Jake’s owner said she was allergic to him. I think she was scared of him. He weighed in at 16+pounds. He was gorgeous. All white long hair with a flowing black tail and a couple of black spots on his ears made up this cat from hell.

He had been declawed  and then let outside to fend for himself. He wanted to be petted and loved but I never knew when he would turn on me and scratch me with his hind claws. Finally, he figured out that it was just me and him and  I wasn’t afraid of him, so we settled in together. Jake lived to be 16, and I’ll never forget him.

The two cats I have now are sisters. Janie is a Tortoiseshell and Julie is a Tuxedo. I adopted them when they were about 2 years old. They are now 13. Janie is allergic to all kinds of foods that cats would normally eat. The only way she can keep food down is to take prednisolone every day. I keep a vaporizer going all day and night to keep her from sneezing her head off.

Julie is smaller than her sister, but she actually rules the household. She plays all the time and runs through the house like a maniac She also is a nurse to Janie. Julie grooms Janie every day and sleeps next to her to keep her warm. It is amazing to see the level of devotion the little tuxedo has for her ailing sister.


Our pets can teach us something about living from day to day and in the moment. That is what they do. Each day to them is the only day to be concerned about. Forget about yesterday and tomorrow isn’t here yet. The only day we have any control over is today. Live in the now.

I would love to hear from my readers. Let me know what you liked and what I missed.

Information for this article came from:; The Thought Co.; Dog; Dog Reflections, May 2008 by Dan; Pet Wellbeing;

My-Pet-Toys-and-Stuff:The Cat Litter Box and Litter


Every indoor cat needs a box with litter in it. It is an absolute necessity. However, it is usually the very last thing a new cat owner buys. You’ve got the cat, feeding dishes, water bowl, flea collar, sleeping bed, comb, brush, food- wet and dry. You’re on your way home when suddenly you panic. You don’t have a litter box or any Litter. Well how hard can that  be? A cat box  and Litter? 

How Many Kinds Can there Be?

You stop at a pet store  and are suddenly overwhelmed by all kinds of boxes: small ones, large ones, corner boxes, boxes with lids, self-cleaning boxes, all in  variety of colors. Well, you make a selection, anything will do for now. You walk over to the Litter section and are  shocked by the number and kinds of Litter. Clumping, non-clumping, scent controlled,  low-tracking, no dust, low -dust, a variety of Litters now made from plants, and a litter that changes color so you can see whether your cat has an infection or not. You grab a bag, the cheapest, pay for your purchases and head home.

Which Box Is Best?

What kind of box to get and where do you put it in the house? These are the main questions you have to answer before you go shopping. Cats want a box that is large enough to turn around in and do some serious digging and covering. They don’t care what color it is.That is your concern.

Where will you put the box? Cats like a secluded area, away from household traffic. Also, cats need to find the box, and have an uncluttered path to it. If you put it in the basement, be sure the door is always open, or cut  a cat door in the basement door  so your cat can go through.

There are on the market, cat boxes that have covers over them, presumably to give Kitty cat privacy. I don’t think your cat cares. Some will like the cover, some will not. Personally, I don’t fiddle with the extra lids. I think it is just that, something extra. You should consider, however, a box with high sides. Some cats like to scratch a lot, and the high sides will keep the litter inside the box.  A corner box? That is personal decision. As long as the cat has full access, I doubt it will make a difference.

You want a box large enough to accommodate a fair amount of litter and give the cat room to maneuver.

What Kind of Litter?

There are many different kinds of litter, supposedly to cover many different kinds of problems. Basically, your cat just wants something to plant her business in, and proceed to hide it by covering it up .By the way, do you know why cats are so meticulous about covering? It ‘s a carry over from the wild. Cats cover, so that other cats and predators can’t track them.

You want to pick out a clumping litter, it’s easier to clean out the box and Kitty doesn’t care. Don’t buy a scented litter. Some cats will refuse to use it. And you don’t want to deal with a cat that is not happy with her litter box.

Be sure to get a low-dust litter. The dust from some litters can aggravate allergies for cats and for people.

Litter can become a big expense. And obviously, you are always throwing it out, and getting more. So do some price shopping and buy the least expensive litter that has all the additives you need, and buy in large quantities. One company even has a refill program that helps the pocket book.

You want to buy a clumping, low-dust, non-scented litter.  Scoop out the litter box every day, at least once, and completely replace litter once a week. Wash the litter box with clear warm water, dry and refill. That way, you’ll never have cat box odors in your house or apartment. You also will have a happy cat that always uses her box.

Why Cats Refuse to use Litter Box

Every year, a few cats are returned to shelters,or given up to the Humane Society, or turned out of the house because of Litter Box problems. These problems stem from misunderstandings between cat and owner, and needs to be cleared up for the good of both.

First of all,take a good look around the Litter box area. Is it kept clean? Is there anything that could upset your cat? An open window with outside noises, or a curtain flapping? Do you have another animal in the house, or small children ? These sound like crazy questions, but distractions will discourage your cat from using her box.

A stray cat outside can upset your cat inside. If everything is clean and quiet around the Litter box area, then make an appointment with the vet for a checkup for your cat. She may have a urinary infection and, in her mind, the box may be causing her the discomfort.

If that is ruled out, try a different litter. Be sure to clean the soiled area very carefully and put something over the area, so she can’t use it again. After checking all the above situations, you and your cat very likely have found the solution to the problem.

Whatever you do, don’t resort to the old punishment of grabbing the cat, rubbing her nose in the soiled area  and whipping her with your hand or a newspaper. That will only strike fear in your cat and it will do no good. She doesn’t equate the punishment with the mishap. Besides, it is cruel.

All is well

It has been about a week now since you brought home your new beautiful, furry cat, and everybody seems to be settling into a routine.Your cat knows where everything in the house is located. She has picked out her sleeping place–not the lovely cat bed you bought her–at the foot of your bed. All is well. You have a loyal pet to keep you company for a good ten or more years.

Some of you may think that this topic is a strange one to write about but everybody wants a 

healthy cat, and the whole digestive system is the secret to good health.

Tell me what you think. Would love to hear from my readers.  Barbara