An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Feline Early Morning Wake Up: What's A Cat to Do?

Hey Greyce!

Remember me, The Cat Detective? (See Keko Turns Detective, entry of 1/015/10). My peeing problem is solved (thanks for the advice) and I have great news. I have a cat wall! It is a small wall that is covered in carpet from the floor to the ceiling. It’s lots of fun to climb up all the time. And I’m told that Themselves find it quite amusing to watch me.

I’d love to say that things are going well, but . . . “We” have a problem: My very early morning (according to Themselves) energy.

I like to rise around 4:00 or 5:00 a.m. When I slept with Themselves in the bedroom, I thought it was a fine idea for them to rise with me. In fact I insisted on it. So what did they do? Stopped me from sleeping in the bedroom!

I pounded at the door. They covered it in tinfoil to discourage me. I no longer pound on the door. But I surely meow.

The good news is that I now get wet food in the evening, since I very loudly demanded an early morning feeding. We Bengals get hungry, you know.

They play with me a lot (that’s A LOT according to them, but as far as I’m concerned it is barely adequate); and we do get some extra play time in right before bed. And I get a small spoonful of food just before the bedroom door is shut.

So what’s a girl to do? Meow at the door relentlessly, I say. And I do . . . until Themselves finally rise.

It seems that my idea of a reasonable waking hour is quite different than theirs. What do you suggest, Greyce?

Looking forward to your suggestions,


Monday, December 20, 2010

Using Harnesses to Re-introduce Companion Cats: Yoshi & Taro

Dear Greyce,

Months ago we wrote you because we were no longer getting along – after a trip to the groomer. We have carefully followed your advice on re-introductions, time-sharing space on a separated basis with contact through a slightly-wedged door.

I am getting braver at approaching the wedged door especially if lured there by treats. I’m curious about Taro. While he is aggressive, he is less so than before. He'll yowl a little once if I’m on the outside of the door and he still gets antsy when he knows I am there. Usually Themselves can distract him enough that he will behave.

However a few times when I have come right up to the door, Taro would run towards it and scare me away. But as I said, I am getting braver and I usually come right back.

I figure we have passed a milestone because there is no hissing or growling or anything like that.

Why is Taro so disturbed by my presence? I am not in the least aggressive to him. Sometimes when I am on the outside of the wedged door, I just lounge with my back paws out to the side and my front paws tucked in. Occasionally I’ll look inside at Taro. Meanwhile he paces around the room looking distressed. Good thing that he is easily distracted with toys!

My biggest problem, Greyce, is that this has been going on for months during which Themselves have been training us to harness. I guess we're stuck at the harness point.

Here’s the deal: We can tolerate putting the harness on without much difficulty. We can put up with wearing them – though we don’t like it. We crouch down while walking and occasionally flop on the floor and roll around with the harness on. Sometimes we try to chew them off.

Taro is better with the harness than I am. He'll play with the harness on but does sometimes get distracted by it. I mainly just lay down; but I will walk around if enticed with treats.

Are we ready for the big time? How should be proceed?



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Shy Cat Starts to Swat More Assertive Cat Companion

Hi Greyce,
I've been filled with so many questions that you have taken many blog entries to reply.

One last item: My shyer companion, Skeeter, has on occasion taken a swipe at me (like I sometimes do to him) for no provoked reason. Is this a sign that there a battle to come? 

We still get along quite well, though when I am having a bad day or start to hiss at him, he does avoid me.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Introducing Cat Afraid of New Things to a New Person

Hi Again Greyce!
It's me again. And I have yet another problem. You see it's the holiday season and Themselves are likely to bring some new purrsons in for a visit. I don't 'do' new situations well, as you know. Please help!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Introducing a Noisy Appliance to a Cat who is Scared of New Things

Hi Greyce,
I have another question for you. As you know I get VERY VERY anxious when I’m dealing with something new. I get VERY spooked and the effect lasts for a LONG time.

You mentioned that I need to work on becoming more resilient. I plan to take Star of Bethlehem flower remedy. What else do you advise?

Worried about this,


Dear Dash,

I want to give readers a small bit of background first: In our first written contact (which I did not share with readers), you were terrified of the treadmill. And I mean, TERRIFIED. I instructed Themselves to stop using it and cover it up. And it took you a lot of time to even go back near it and try to explore it – even though it has not been used. I’d also suggested a flower essence to help with your resilience – and I’ll get back to that later.

Principles for Introducing You to Something New

Let me review the basic principles of introducing a cat to something new, particularly a cat such as yourself who is anxious and has not been used to what would be termed “normal household items” in your world.

1. Introduce the new thing slowly.

2. Slowly means at your pace (NOT your purrsons’).

3. If the pace is too fast for you, you will show it – usually by dilated pupils, fur standing on end, pacing, cowering, trying to hide, etc. If this happens, they MUST stop; back the process up a bit and proceed even more slowly from there.

Why New Things Can Be Scary

As you know, your territory is the most essential element to your well-being. And you need to explore it, patrol it, and scent mark it on a regular basis to reassure yourself that it is in good order. Changes to territory signal to us cats, a potential change in our resource base; and the mere thought of a sudden lack of food, or water, or safety is enough to send even the most assured of us into anxiety-mode.

When a new thing enters your territory, you need to have the chance to adapt to it and incorporate it. In other words, you need to make it your own. That way, it becomes a part of your normal territory rather than something to get worried about.

The thing most of us cats find most bothersome about appliances and electronic items is the noise they make. Other than the dreaded vacuum cleaner, most of these items stay in one place so we don’t have to worry about them chasing us.

Getting Used to a New Small Appliance

Suppose the new appliance is a blender. I doubt that you will be using it to make your own mouse shakes. Purrhaps you are not even allowed on the counter. However if the appliance is portable and there is a chance you will encounter it, I recommend the following:

1. Get used to the box it arrives in, before it is unpacked. First, put a spritz of Feliway spray on all four sides of the box and wait a few minutes before you encounter it. That way the Feliway will have had the chance to do its job. And when you meet that box, it will smell familiar.

2. Once you are used to the box (no longer react to it) – and this may take a short while or maybe even more than a day - they can unpack it. You can watch. That way you may even get to play in the box from which it came!

3. When ‘the thing’ comes out of the box AND IF it is safe to do so (remember Feliway is flammable), they can give it a spritz of Feliway. Again they need to give you a chance to explore it – assuming it is safe to do so (that is, that it is not something which sharp bits you could be hurt on, etc.) That is more than enough for one day thank you very much.

4. They, of course, will want to operate it. Assuming it makes a noise, I suggest they take all necessary precautions which means they have to introduce you to the noise is makes VERY SLOWLY.

There are two ways to do this: A) with the actual thing in action, and B) with a recording of the thing in action.

A) Getting Used to the Sound of the Actual Thing in Action

The first time they operate it, you need to be in another part of the house. If it is upstairs, you should be downstairs with the door closed. This will muffle the sound.

Someone should be with you to monitor your reactions. I don’t advise that purrson to hover over you like a clucking hen, all worried, or you will worry too. Instead that purrson should be in the same room as you are, either playing with you, petting you or purrhaps just reading or watching TV.

The other purrson should start the appliance BUT only for a FEW SECONDS and then stop. Your monitor can be on the lookout for any stress reaction: dilated pupils, fur standing up, cowering, attempting to hide, etc.

Assuming there is little or no reaction, they can then proceed to the next step – which is to repeat this LATER – at least one hour later. They can try this say, up to 3 times a day, with at least an hour (if not longer) in-between.

Assuming you are okay with this, then the next round (the next day or in a few days) could be to increase the length of the sound – say from 3 seconds to 5 seconds.

The idea is to repeat the sound, with a goodly interval (at least an hour) in between, and to SLOWLY increase the period of operation.

Once you are okay with the noise and they have reached the normal length of the thing’s operation, then they need to repeat the whole process with the door open (between floors) so you can hear it better. Again they start with a few seconds of sound and a long interval of rest; and slowly work up.

And if you have the courage to be on the same floor as the thing when it is operating, then they may need to repeat the process again.

B) Getting Use to a Recording of the Thing in Action

This option may be easier for your purrsons to implement IF they have a tape recorder or whatever modern piece of technology these days does the same thing. Basically they can record the sound and then play it to you.

Just like in hearing the actual thing in operation, someone should be with you to monitor your reaction (and to distract you if they can).

Start with the lowest possible volume. Stop it at the 3 second spot to begin with. Slowly work up the period of exposure – at low volume. In other words, just like with the other methods – start with 3 seconds of sound up to 3 times a day at intervals that are at least an hour apart. As you adapt, they can slowly increase the volume and the length of the interval.

The key to all of this is to take it at your pace. They must monitor your reaction. If you do not appear to be bothered, they can continue. If you are bothered, they need to go back a step and proceed more slowly.

In either case: they don’t have to work with you on this each and every day. I assume most such appliances wouldn’t be operated on a daily basis anyway. And I don’t want you to get used to a particular time of operation and then start to expect to hear the sound at that time.

Using Flower Essences to Help

You had also mentioned the use of a flower remedy. I know you had used Rescue Remedy (also known as Five Flower Remedy) before we consulted and I’d suggested Star of Bethlehem.

I have seen many (but not all) cats who have taken such remedies become more resilient. The cat who best shows this is my friend Christmas Blessing (shown in the photo). He was terrified of many things. After over a month of taking Star of Bethlehem he became much more resilient.

Flower remedies take time to work, so don’t expect that a few drops of the stuff will suddenly give you the courage to face the noise. I had suggested the remedy largely to help you recover from the traumas you had endured in your past life, in order to help with your resilience.

In any event, let me know what appliance you need to get used to and how it goes.

And when it is to be the dreaded treadmill, let me know BEFOREHAND and I’ll tweak the plan with some specific, essential details.

Good luck,


Monday, December 13, 2010

Cat Peeing From Over-Excitement or Anxiety: An Update From Dash

Hi Greyce,

Since you last wrote about me (Small Bits of Urine - A Big Problem for Dash on 11/17/10), I have been making progress. Themselves are getting much better at noticing my behaviour and while my scent marking (urine on the stairs) continues upstairs, the frequency has changed. Instead of day-to-day, I have gone for a week or more without feeling the need to mark that spot.

So I am doing well even though I continue peeing outside the litter box at times, mostly in the basement where Skeeter and I stay when Themselves are not home.

There seem to be three triggers:

1. Herself notices that some of my urine spots are fresh when she gets home. She thinks I become really over-excited at hearing the garage door open (signaling her return) and then I just pee.

2. Sometimes if we have been in the basement all day and beyond our usual dinner time, accidents will happen too.

3. Sometimes it is just a sign that the litter boxes are not to my liking. You may remember that we have two basement litter boxes: one on the landing and one on the floor. Skeeter used to use the one on the floor; but he started to use the landing one as well and it would fill rather quickly.

Good news though, both are now downstairs and next to each other. I use both: one for urine and one for feces.

By the way, Themselves also leave us out for most nights (instead of keeping us in the basement) and I either sleep with them on the bed (Skeeter is there too), or I stay on the same floor in my most favorite cat bed. So slowly I am adapting.

Thank you again for your help,


Dear Dash,

It is always good to hear of your progress. I'm going to write about those three triggers for peeing outside the box and offer some suggestions. But first, my dear, ARE making progress. Congratulations on having Themselves improve their observational skills. Careful observation is the first step in gathering the clues by which they can help you adapt even more.

Since the beginning of our consultative relationship, I’ve remarked that you are a most anxious cat. And I do know that it was unlikely that you had household socialization at the proper time in your kitten hood. So developing into a more resilient pet will continue to be your life challenge. Nonetheless you have made significant progress.

You mention three triggers for peeing outside the box when you are in the basement.

1. Over-excitement on Herself’s return. That just shows how anxious a cat you are. Some of us become so happy or relieved that our purrson has returned that we just lose bladder control. Believe me, it can happen to humans, too.

I wonder if Themselves make a fuss over the two of you, both when they leave the house and when they return. If they are doing this (and it would be understandable), then they need to modify their behaviour a bit. Some of us just get so emotionally excited that it becomes a stressor.

I hate to mention it but dogs (yes dogs) with separation anxiety, often react (get stressed) by their purrson’s departures and arrivals. The solution in both cases is to diffuse the emotionality around the going and coming into the home. This simply means that instead of making any fuss when they leave or re-enter, they need to do so is a less emotionally-charged way. For example suppose when they return, they immediately go downstairs and greet the two of you and pet you and cuddle you and dance with you and give you treats. Wow! But that ‘wow’ would be to much for you. Much better if instead they just said, “I’m home” and opened up the basement door to let you come up. And then just went about their chores.

Ditto when they leave. If they are giving you special cuddles and whispers and the like, they are inadvertently having you focus on the fact that they will be gone; and that can be anxiety-provoking. Instead ask them to consider giving you a home-made food puzzle to keep you occupied, then say ‘good-bye’ in a nonchalant way and close the basement door.

Let me know if this is relevant and if the proposed solution is helpful to you.

2. Dinner being late. Yeah, I get it. Any deviation from your expected schedule makes you anxious. It sounds to me like you are wearing your telepathic cat watch and when Themselves are late, you worry that they have been bagged by a predator!

If this is problematic, they MIGHT consider an automatic feeder with a timer, so that dinner can happen at the same time every day and thus becomes less worrisome for you. If you decide to go this route (and is the ONLY an option NOT a directive from me), keep in mind your fear of novelty (which I will address in a separate blog entry) in introducing you to this device.

Another option is to have them start to vary their return times (starting with a five-minute variance) but that is likely too difficult in logistics for them to manage at this time. However, if you are interested in how this would work, let me know.

3. Litter box cleanliness. It sounds like their observational skills are improving. Congratulations for getting them to move the boxes so that you and Skeeter can use the boxes properly. And do make sure they keep to a regular cleaning schedule. A daily clean is what I advocate. Even though I live without the presence of others of my species, I insist on a daily clean so I don’t have to navigate over aromatic lumps and bumps while I attend to my needs.

And as for peeing upstairs. It sounds like that issue is getting under control. I do think much of that is related to over-excitement. You need to have those good workouts and yet be helped to return to a calmer state at the end of them. It’s like doing aerobics at the gym; at the end you need to slow down and stretch or you will continue to be so wound up that you aren’t fit to live with! At least that’s what I understand purrsons go through.

Keep up the good work,


Thursday, December 2, 2010

An Indoor Cat’s Guide to Winter: Tips for Play, Tips for Digestive Matters, and Tips for Handling Your Fur

Hello Everyone,

It’s time for some tips on weathering the winter - 9 in total, one for each of our lives
- 3 tips about toys and playtime,
- 3 tips for deal with digestive issues, and
- 3 tips for handling your fur.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cat Meows and Fusses to Go Outside Late at Night

Dear Greyce,

 I am a seven-year-old, feisty male who was adopted at age six months. I am a loner who likes to be around people while keeping my distance from them. When I was adopted, it took me several months to feel comfortable sitting beside Themselves. I sometimes bite Themselves while they are sleeping, just for the fun of it; and I swat at people as they walk past me. I can’t be left alone with small children, cats or dogs. In other words, I want things my way.

When I joined the household, Themselves attempted to make me an indoor cat. I had other ideas. All attempts to keep me confined to the house have failed. I’ve even escaped from 3rd floor windows and shredded screens in order to make my point. I AM an outdoor cat!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Cat Introductions: Older Cat to Younger Resident Cats - Flounder's Update

Dear Greyce,
I wanted to let you know how everything is working out since your blog entry of November 15th.
This week I am feeling quite good and have even asked to come out of my room! Herself used to have to bring me downstairs, and I would cling to her even if the other cats were locked up. Now she leaves the door open, goes downstairs, and ignores me. I have the option to come out, and I always do now. Herself sits on the couch reading while I explore. The other night I even ran around bipping the catnip toy and playing! I think M. may reappear this weekend, but I am feeling more confident in the space and that will help.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Socializing a Cat: Beauty's Progress

Dear Greyce,

I just wanted to know that I am becoming more comfortable in human surroundings since I wrote you (see Why Do I Have to Socialize? May 26, 2010). It has been taking time and patience, but I'm sure it will be worth it.

Nameless Beauty

Dear Beauty,
I am so pleased that you are making progress.

Interested readers can have a look at Beauty's Progress. There are also some other short videos of her which can be accessed from there.  


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cat Pee on the Bed: Bear's Saga Continues

Dear Greyce,

Since I last wrote (see Continued Urine Marking - Nov. 8, 2010), the spare bed has been decorated twice with my urine.

Herself is just not sure what to do. She is tempted to close our door during the day so we can’t use that room. That said, most recent incidents happened first thing in the morning when they were still home.

They already close their own bedroom door when they are not at home (because I have had a peeing history there) and that is the only other window access room on the ground floor. Well to tell you the truth, there is the front door window but no comfy reclining spots there.
What can I say? I pee on beds! Help!

Should they leave a plastic bag on top of the bed linens? Should the litter box sit on top of the bed? Or beside it? (Himself’s fear is that a litter box on the bed will teach me that a bed is an okay place to pee and that might translate to their room too.)

Oh, there has been tons of cuddling and lots of play – as you recommended for dealing with any anxiety. I really like my laser toy. That dot is fun to chase. It is one of the only toys that I will actually go after when my sister is in the room. The rest of the toys need a closed door room and even then I am not so sure about chasing them as I know she is outside the door waiting for her turn.

Thank you for your continued support. So sorry to keep bugging you!


Dear Bear,

You are not bugging me. In fact, you are helping my readers understand how complicated it is to implement behavioural change. Even though general principles apply, every situation is different. And yet success is all in the details.

So I’m grateful that you are providing me with the details that have been difficult for you. If we can clarify those, then we can get on with the program – and hopefully with success.

It seems to me that you feel the need to mark the bed. I know, I know, it’s a lot of urine that you deposit and some would say you are urinating and not marking. As I said to Dash (just today, in the entry, Small Bits of Urine), it is awfully difficult to distinguish some cases of horizontal urine marking from cases of urination. Some cats (and I suspect you are one of them) like to mark as well as pee in the same place – even in their litter boxes. And the solutions to marking and inappropriate elimination problems are different.

I suspect that there is a marking element – that your pheromonal code on that bed has dissipated over time and you are refreshing it with your urine. Purrhaps you see this as part of your daily duty, to mark significant areas as the household rises for the day. It would be wonderful if you would mark with check rubs, instead.

I also suspect that bed peeing has something to do with the fact that beds in both bedrooms – for you have a past history of peeing on both - are near windows with views of your grounds. Most of us feel that windows are areas of vulnerability. Purrsons say they are safe because windows are solid; but there sure don’t look solid to us!

So what do I think? I think you are marking and may even be peeing, too. I think it likely relates to feeling vulnerable and that the windows are a contributing factor. And as for choosing the bed, rather than the window itself? I think it’s largely due to your preferences for soft surfaces and fabrics – like your penchant for peeing on pillows.

I know that peeing on the bed is a difficult issue – both for some cats (like you) and for their purrsons.

Right now it seems as if you and beds are like my Herself and chocolate. Herself has a passion for chocolate especially during the winter months. Even though it is contributing to added pounds and she knows she should not imbibe, its mere presence is such a strong attractant that blind desire obscures all reason. Hence the need to ban chocolate from the premises (even though Himself adores it).

In the same vein, it seems that mere access to the spare bedroom draws you to marking the bed. So for now, I vote for keeping the door closed – at the very least for the times when Themselves are not at home. And yes, I am aware that you’ve peed on the beds in the early morning, when the folks are at home. My prefurrence right now is to see how things will work out if both bedroom doors are kept closed. Of course, we will monitor the situation and adjust as needed.

If they feel the need to keep the door to the spare room open for any period of time, then 1) the litter box should stay beside the bed and 2) the garbage bag – or preferably a liquid-proof bedwetting pad should be over the target area, and 3) they should consider spraying that pad with Feliway (assuming they have some of the spray bottle left over from your last escapades) to discourage you from marking it.

I believe I’d mentioned the box location in my last entry to you. But it was buried in some of my comments and purrhaps you didn’t see it. From what I recall from the floorplan you sent me, they could try the box either beside the part of the bed you most pee on OR on the side of the bed closest to the window (which may be a triggering factor). If they use Feliway on the bed itself, then I suggest the box go on the side nearer the window (just because it will be away from the Feliway).

I’d rather you NOT have a litter box on top of the bed because that is a very difficult location. As a temporary measure it may be fine; but I think we are heading for the long haul, here.

I suggest a box near your ‘decorating’ place but NOT on it because of your history. For example, when you wrote me about your peeing-on-the-stove problem, you then installed a litter box in the kitchen; you were able to use that box instead of the stove top. Now let’s not get into the fact that you’d still really like the stove top. All I’m saying is that given a nearby alternative, you have shown that you will use it. You have been using it, haven’t you?

As for the bed pad and Feliway. I would hope that the Feliway spray (not diffuser) would encourage you to use the nearby box. But that is a hope and not a certainty. Just make sure your folks follow the instructions for clean up (no produces with ammonia, bleach or scent AND using Feliway only once the pad is dry). They also need to pay attention to using Feliway when the bedroom is open and before you come in.

And before I leave the subject of cats and pee on beds, there is one other possible solution but it is very expensive. They could replace the guest bed with a Murphy bed (the link given is only one site) that is, a bed that folds up into the wall when not in use. (It looks like a very attractive wood panel when closed.) It’s a very popular solution in places like New York City where space is at a premium; and it is a way to have the use of the bed when needed, but keep temptation out of your way when not. Now this is quite costly and could affect your toy and catnip supply for some time. So it is not a solution to be taken at all lightly. Try the others, first.

The window viewing issue is an important one. I am not a fan of having you watch through the front door window and with both bedroom doors closed, your options are limited on this floor. Remember, you already have anointed items in the front hall – likely as a result of seeing or smelling roaming cats. But don’t forget, you do have a favourite viewing area at the stairs (that you showed me on your floorplan) so I hope that would do, instead.

If you absolutely must use the front door as your ground floor viewing area, just remember: no pillows for you. If Herself still has some Feliway spray leftover, then suggest she give the door a bit of a spritz at cat level a couple of times a day. You can with the bedroom doors closed, access to the front door window and Feliway first, and see what happens.

Now about that issue with toys and Bailey. There is obviously something about your relationship that intimidates you. Do you think food puzzles would be a solution, as something that might interest you while Bailey is doing other things? Read today's entry to Dash (metioned earlier) which talks about food puzzles among other things, and think about it. It’s just a suggestion, not an order.

And do keep in touch and let me know how things go.

I’m rooting for you Bear,


Small Bits of Cat Urine - A Big Problem for Dash

Dear Greyce,

I have a problem. Recently I have started to pee in the upstairs stairwell (the one that connects the main floor to the upstairs). Before I go into the particulars, I will provide more information about my circumstances.

My Background

I am a neutered male, short-haired tabby with extra claws on my paws (I have 16 front toes and 10 back ones) and am somewhere between 2.5 and 4 years old. I was hosted by the local animal shelter for many months where I was listed as a cat with issues related to anger displacement. But after a thorough veterinary examination, it did not appear that I’d be a threat to my new purrsons. In July (2010) I was fortunate to be adopted along with Skeeter, a 1.5 year-old neutered male tabby to keep me company.

We live in a house which has three storeys: bedrooms on one floor, main (and open) living area on another, and an unfinished walk-out basement where we spend time while our purrsons are away at work and where we sleep at night. Our purrsons are good to us and I have no real complaints.

Skeeter and I get along quite well. We play fight, groom each other, and he often cuddles into me when we sleep. I am the dominant cat and especially like to hog food bowls. But Skeeter takes this philosophically – just backing away when I stick my snout in. I am VERY food-motivated. If I can find it and eat it, then it’s been a great day.

I am very active. I jump on all surfaces and get sprayed by a water bottle for it. It’s okay for me to be on beds or couches.

I am also very curious. I want to climb in the fridge, check out what’s in the sink, go into any open cupboard. I sit on the window ledges on the main floor, look out the back door and check everything out.

But I have a fear of novelty. For example, I was traumatized by the treadmill so much that Themselves covered it up. (I started to pee outside the litter box, get nervous about being in the basement, you name it.) And only recently have I regained the nerve to explore it (thought it’s still covered up as you recommended).

Skeeter likes to play with toys way more than I do. But I love playing in my nylon tent, jumping into boxes and bags and playing with a long string of fleece attached to stick dragged round by Themselves. They play with us every morning while changing their clothes and when they get home at night.

But sometimes our play fighting gets out of hand (or should I say, paw). I grab, bite and pin Skeeter down by holding him at the back of the neck. He hisses in reply. I guess I become over-stimulated. But now Themselves break us up if this happens and we are both given a time-out – just like you advised.

When I contacted you, you gave me lots of good advice: about Feliway, interactive play, and all sorts of things. For the most part, I have been learning to trust my new home and its inhabitants.

Back to The Problem

Recently I have started to pee in the upstairs stairwell (the one the connects the main floor to the upstairs). Themselves have cleaned it with a non-detergent cleaner and sprayed Feliway in the corner. This started about a month ago and so far has happened about four times. It only happens in the evening (since most daytimes we are down the basement when our folks are at work).

I am leaving small bits of urine there. But I continue to use our litter boxes: one on the basement stairwell which I use faithfully, and one in the basement itself.

Sometimes they catch me in the act and sometimes they just notice the scent when I have left. Once I was caught about to do it, and was encouraged successfully to use my litter box instead.

They say thee pee events happen when I am ‘off’ – I’ve either gotten carried away with Skeeter and we’ve had to be separated, or I’ve hissed at Skeeter, or I’ve made growling noises when one of them has picked me up.

Why am I doing this Greyce? I love these stairs. I have particular steps on which I like to sleep. Am I jealous of Skeeter’s independent play since he is much more playful – even though we both get daily play sessions?

Just so you know, Greyce, we have three Feliway diffusers (one for each floor) and Themselves use Feliway spray on the stairs and surrounding walls.

Any advice you can give me would be appreciated.

Dear Dash,

First of all, congratulations on your excellent progress in adjusting to you new home! You have been through a great deal of change and are handling it well. You have special needs and will likely be less resilient than many, which means you need some special care and lots of patience.

Now let me cut to the chase, and get on to the topic at hand: Urine marking.

What Urine Marking Is

Small bits of urine indicate urine marking, rather than urination. At least they do to me. In other words, you are engaged in marking behaviour rather than urination (going to the bathroom, so to speak). Marking is a time-honoured method by which we purrsonalize our territory, communicate with other cats, and help us orient and feel comfortable. As you know, there are four kinds of marking – rubbing against things, scratching things, spraying or depositing small bits of urine, and depositing feces without burial. And they are arranged in order, meaning that we usually rub against things; but if we become more anxious (or concerned about asserting dominance) than we go up a notch or two – to scratching or urine deposition. So the bottom line is that urine marking gives you confidence by surrounding you with your own smell. It can be use to demonstrated dominance or to alleviate anxiety.

The Clues

Obviously we have to figure out the reason for doing this.

You have given me some clues.

First, you mark in an area of great importance to you – the first landing on the stairs leading from the main floor to the upstairs. I understand that you love to sleep on specific stair treads, namely the fourth step from the main floor and the fourth step to the second floor. And frankly I can’t quite figure out the relationship between these particular steps and where you are urine marking so please bear with me. Stairs are important connecting corridors as well as places of height, and thus have significance for cat safety and defense. And I think you find these stairs quite a safe area if you are prepared to sleep on some of the treads. In other words, this seems to be an area of safely/security for you.

Second, you already use a litter box in a similar part of the other set of stairs (the basement stairs). And you prefurr it to using the box on the basement floor itself. So there is something about peeing on stair landings (heights) that pleases you.

Third, the incidents occur when you are ‘off’ which I take to mean, out of sorts. This has two versions:

Version 1: when you have been over-stimulated in playing with Skeeter (and are then separated). For Skeeter’s and your safety, you need to be separated when things go over the top. Most cats would then just settle down quietly, given separation and time. Skeeter seems to manage this but it is more difficult for you. Over-stimulation raises your anxiety level and I gather you have these high anxiety levels which are not coming down quickly enough, and so you mitigate them by depositing some urine for comfort in an area that is a significant source of security for you (the stairs).

I am assuming that if this is the cause of your urine marking, the incident occurs shortly after your time-out. Does it? Because if it does, then maybe one of Themselves could settle somewhere on the stairs at that time (that is, around the time that you may be due to mark) and just talk to you quietly. This is called a security bridge – something or someone who gives you an added sense of comfort and safety, thereby reducing your anxiety level. Sometimes the presence of the purrson you trust is all that it takes. Of course, IF you will allow petting then gentle, slow strokes will help calm you as well.

Version 2: when someone gets too close to you and you are not in the mood (e.g. hissing and being picked up). The examples given of your ‘not being in the mood’ suggest a higher anxiety level as well. So the explanation above would apply here, too. Obviously in this case, however, everyone needs to keep their distance from you rather than try to offer you support. However, I’d still recommend the purrson sitting on the stairs trick, but with the purrson ignoring you (say, reading a magazine) and leaving it up to you to choose to interact or not.

There is also the concern that even watching Skeeter play might trigger this. It is possible but I cannot comment on this further without visiting you in purrson (and we know that we are separated by a great distance). But in case this is a trigger, here are some things to try:

a) Is it possible for one of Themselves to encourage you to leave the area where the playing is taking place. Purrhaps the two of you could go elsewhere? Out of sight, out of mind. And you could do a food puzzle in your new location (see below). (You could also do it while Skeeter plays, in his presence.)

b) Ever tried food puzzles? I know you are very food-motivated. There are a variety of food puzzles that make you hunt and might just be the motivation you need to keep you occupied and intellectually satisfied while Skeeter is playing with his toys. That would be a lot more fun for you than just watching him at play. I have listed some resources at the end of this blog for further information on food puzzles.

Feliway. It is wonderful that your folks are using their funds to install diffusers on each floor of the house as well as spray for the stair area. And obviously they are conscientious about spot clean up. I do wonder, however, if they are following the instructions carefully enough. Just as a reminder:

a) In terms of marking, Feliway works best for spray marking, that is, urine deposition on walls or vertical surfaces. Is any of your marking of this nature? Because Feliway makes no claims for horizontal marking. Now that may be because most people cannot distinguish between horizontal marking and urination. I don’t know. So I’d continue with the Feliway spray just in case, but without huge expectations of miracles. The diffusers are serving another purpose and should be maintained anyway

b) While Themselves can clean up your marking with water or an odourless solution, make sure that whatever they use does not contain ammonia or bleach and scent as any of these elements can interfere with Feliway’s ability to do its job. I would normally recommend Stink Free as a cleaner (since Bud of Brandon gives it four paws up) but I’m not sure if it meets these criteria. So for whatever Themselves use, please make sure they check the ingredients list.

c) The area over which Feliway spray is used, must be clean and dry before Feliway itself is applied.

The Challenge of Horizontal Urine Marking

Horizontal marking is often confused with inappropriate elimination. The reasons for this are complex. Both kinds of urine can look the same. And many of us mark INSIDE out litter boxes as well as using them for urination. So it isn’t always easy to figure out. The bottom line is that we need to rule out two possibilities. One is that you really are just wanting to use the litter box and like that particular location. The reason I say that is not only because one of the most famous veterinary behaviourists (Dr. Karen Overall) says so but also because you’ve already shared your enjoyment of using the litter box on the downstairs’ landing. The other is that you may be amenable to doing your marking in a litter box is one is in the area. The way to test this out, it to put a litter box over the area in question and see if you use it. So please ask your folks to go ahead with this now.

A Summary of My Advice

1. Use a purrson as a security bridge on the stairs if and when it is practical to do so

2. Consider removing yourself from the scene if Skeeter’s play bothers you. Or distract yourself with food puzzles.

3. Make sure your purrsons are using the right kind of urine cleaner.

4. Make sure your purrsons are using Feliway correctly.

5. Install a litter box where you like to mark.

Now keep me posted and we’ll take it from there.

Oh, I almost forgot! Here is a list of resources about food puzzles (some of which can be purchased and some which your folks can make for you).

Resources for Food Puzzles

Frederick Cat Vet Frederick Cat Vet Recommended:This site is by a veterinarian and this entry has 3 food puzzle toys that your folks can easily and inexpensively make for you - complete with photos!

Pet Place (This site has many articles and this particular one is by Dr. Dodman, a behaviourist. Scroll down to the part on food puzzles where he gives some suggestions of ones you can have your slaves make for you.


 Alyona Russian Blues After watching interminable videos on You Tube, I found this excellent one on food puzzles. Be patient and watch the whole thing, because you will see many different puzzles - some you can buy (at least in Europe though I'm trying to find out if they are available in North America) and some you can make. Just be careful about the egg carton one; I'm concerned about the string for those of us who just can't resist such stuff and could get tangled or ingest it if not supervised. However, I'm confident there are other ways to seal the egg carton that could work just as well - so figure it out! All in all a worthwhile viewing - especially since these cats have a coat colour similar to mine.

Some Food Puzzles You Can Buy (in no particular order)

Note: Many food puzzles were first designed as a way of dealing with feline obesity. Don't take that purrsonally! Food puzzles provide intellectual stimulation and give you a chance to use your predatory drive. As such they are part of a program of overall environmental enrichment and can help alleviate both boredome and anxiety.

 Pipolino (This site has various videos of cats using the product as well as one on how Themselves can fill the toy with food. There is a user guide which can be downloaded, a store locator and an on-line store if the product is not available in your area.)

Feeding Frenzy (This toy is somewhat like Pipolino. The site has a video, FAQs, and the ability to order the toy on-line).

Cat Activity Fun Board (This site is from Germany. Make sure you choose English unless you speak German, of course. In the search box put Cat Activity Fun Board - otherwise you will have quite the time trying to find it. I'm not sure about availability in North America but this one is highly recommended for environmental enrichment. If I'm lucky, purrhaps Herself will get me one for the holidays (hint, hint) and then I can tell you more.

 Peek A Prize (Several different versions available, this is a high-end model of a simple puzzle box. While pricey, some of you might consider it IF you are 'hard' on toys or live with other cats who will give it a workout. My colleague Kahlua endorses this and she lives with several other cats.)

Best of luck Dash,

Monday, November 15, 2010

Introducing an Older Cat to a Younger Cat Household: Introductions Gone Wrong

Dear Greyce,

I recently discovered your blog with great relief, as I am having difficulties adjusting to a multi-cat household. I am a 14-year-old orange female (an anomaly!) who may be part Maine Coon. I am very loyal, not much of a jumper, and like to sleep pressed against my humans. I prefer to be in whichever room of a house has people, even if it's a party. I am also very vocal and friendly and like to charm people who claim not to like cats. I prove them wrong every time!

I have been an only cat for most of the last ten years. Herself took me in when I was five and my previous purrson had become disabled. Until that point I'd lived with other cats, dogs, babies, you name it. Once Herself adopted me, I had one two-year interlude with a horrible beast of a cat who reduced me to a howling, screeching wreck who was leaving blood in the litterbox. It took me six months to get the nerve to whip him good and we did fine after that. I will still so glad when he left though. I had Herself all to myself which, in my view, is ideal. However . . .

For the past two months we have been in a much larger apartment with another woman and her two cats – M and D, both of whom are females and only a few years old (compared to my authoritative status of 14 years).

Monday, November 8, 2010

Continued Urine Marking and Peeing on the Bed is Just TOO Much!

I'm A Sensitive Guy
Dear Greyce,

I’m urine marking and peeing outside the box, yet again. I’ve marked towels near the door and in the kitchen, pillows on the bench by the door, picture frames, Himself’s desk, slippers, the microwave and the stove. I’ve also peed on the stove, the dining room table, and the spare bed.

You remember that I used to be a great stove marker and pee-er in response to the stand-off that my sister, Bailey, and I would have in the kitchen. Mom has left the stove covered with cooking pots and pans to discourage me and it usually works. One time I decided to fill a frying pan with pee; she has since replaced that pan with a tall covered pot. And she doesn’t have the courage to remove all the stuff and see if I will ignore the stove top. (I think she is smart about this, because that stove top really tempts me.)

What is concerning Themselves most is my wish to use the bed in the front bedroom as a urine depot. Mom has now covered the front bed with one of those plastic ‘thingys’ you get at a linen store (she did that before you wrote your article about the shower curtains). Out of desperation, she placed a litter box on the bed in the spot that I like to pee on. She put a large green plastic bag under the litter box to protect the bed linens. I decided that I liked peeing on the bag instead of the box. I’ve done this twice now. She’s okay with that - not thrilled; but it is easy for her to fold up the bag and toss it out - far easier that massive washloads.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tiggy & Nala: More Progress

Dear Greyce,

We were so pleased to be featured recently that we wanted to give you another update. (Note: Tiggy and Nala were just featured - check the entry just before this one).

We put in a big screen door in the bedroom hallway yesterday. It goes all the way to the ceiling since I like to climb it. Themselves only have the bedroom door open while they are home and only for small periods of time - so Tiggy doesn't feel hunted. Both us cats watch each other but neither of us are running away or hissing. I even leave for quite a while, so Tiggy can have some privacy.

I am told that it will be a while longer before Tiggy and I meet without the screen door. Themselves put Tiggy in her carrier to bring her out of the room so we could swap spaces for a little while (I'd go to the bedroom and she would have the rest of the place); but she hides under the bed when she sees the carrier, so we feel that she is not ready yet. We are on the road to a happy family without screen doors, but we know there are most likely many more months before we get there!

There are bigger improvements a-foot - so should I say, a-paw? Tiggy has much more confidence. I have gained more trust in Themselves (they really are quite nice, you know) and am even friendly to house guests. And best of all, we can now make ourselves understood to Herself because she has learned cat language. She is becoming tri-lingual: tail, eyes and ears. Thank you for those cat communication resources.

Yours, Nala

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Tiggy & Nala: On the Right Track

Dear Greyce,

Remember us? You wrote about each of us: Tiggy's Trial and also Is Nala A Nuisance? both posted on August 16, 2010.

Oh well, purrhaps you get questions from a lot of cats who don’t get along and don’t quite have our names at the tip of your pink tongue. But we wanted to let you know how well we are doing.

As the elder cat, I (Tiggy) will go first: I am gaining confidence and getting a little vocal about coming out of the bedroom (where I am sequestered). My purrson and I have at least two long play sessions a day, as well as some down-time together. I even wake her up early for a play session!

I am out from under the bed and now usually perch on top of the dresser. Sometimes I’m at the bedroom door waiting for my folks. I also have a delightful private space under a table that has a table cloth that goes all the way to the floor.

Great news! Our purrson made us a fishing-pole toy out from a long pole and butcher’s string. Nala and I both love it.

Now over to Nala: I think my folks have learned a lot about cat communication because they seem to understand me better. I still nip a little but I must admit to getting more comfortable in my new home. I love to play and play and play. At times I will nuzzle on the lap of my purrson when she is on the couch with a soft blanket over her.

So Greyce, we are doing much, much better after following your advice. We will keep you posted.

Purrs from Tiggy and Nala

Dear Tiggy and Nala, Congratulations on your progress. By the time this entry gets posted I’m sure you will have advanced even more. Keep up the good work.

With purrs of encouragement,


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Filou's Diary

Dear Readers,

You may recall a handsome cat called Filou who was trying to welcome a new companion, Molly. Molly was having difficulty adjusting to her new circumstances. Their story has been told in several blog entries:
I've Been Kidnapped (4/6/10)
Molly's Adventure (5/6/10)
Possessiveness on the Rise (6/1/10)
Molly Takes A Big Step (6/10/10)

I’m pleased to report that all is going very well. And to give you some idea of the progress that has been made, Filou agreed to share selected entries from his diary.

Over to you Filou.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Dealing with a Pest

Dear Greyce,

I am a stunningly beautiful 10-year-old tortie (that's me on the right with the lovely red collar) who lives in a two-floor townhouse: the main floor is open plan (with my food and water in the kitchen) and the bedrooms and laundry room are upstairs. There is a cat door to the bedroom, as well as one to the laundry room where the litter box resides. I enjoy full use of my home including a lovely cat perch and a multi-level cat tree. And I have access to the outdoors, on a leash and harness.

For many years I shared this home with a distinguished Siamese companion named Basil. We were the best of friends and did everything together. Last year Basil left his physical form and I mourned him deeply. But I adjusted, for I had my purrson all to myself.

Because I was missing feline friendship, Herself thought she would do me a favour. This so-called favour arrived in a cat carrier in May (a year after Basil’s death). I sniffed both it and its contents and because I didn’t seem distressed, they opened it up and out came a kitten.

Lucy is a rambunctious calico who is now five months of age. She is intact; I am spayed.

When she is not eating or sleeping, she is playing. She has toys to keep her occupied: mice which she fetches and a laser pointer to chase after; but she also insists on bugging me ALL THE TIME and most often in the living room where we hang out. She runs at me, chases me, silently pounces on me, and bites - all day long! In retaliation, I hiss and scream at her; but I never use my claws. Greyce, this brat is getting on my nerves!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Friendship Gone Sour

Dear Greyce, We are handsome cats, Taro (age 3) and Yoshi (age 4), and have been together splendidly for three years.

Yoshi is a cuddler who is initially fearful of human visitors but soon becomes friends as long as children are not involved. He prefurrs to be up high on his favourite cat tree.

I have more leadership skills. I’m not a lap cat – though I love to be petted. I’m a man of action; I initiate our mutual play (though he is the first to stop). I prefurr to be closer to the ground and underneath things; height is not my thing. For example, I like to nap underneath the table or inside cardboard boxes.

Yoshi is much more playful when I am not around. For example, I hide from the dreaded vacuum cleaner and he doesn’t. Instead he takes the opportunity to find his spring toy and chase it!

I like attention from Themselves and tell them when it is time to play with me. And if I see them giving Yoshi attention, I will stop what I’m doing and encourage them to attend to me.

Basically, Greyce, things have gone well between us.

We Got Along Well Until . . .

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Design Ideas Help Cats Become Friends Again

Dear Greyce, Remember us? The Tonkinese who started to fight after seeing an invading cat (Tonkinese in Trouble - August 5, 2010)? Well we took your advice and it worked!

Within day of the dreaded incident, we had gotten to the point of being fine together – sleeping together, grooming each other, eating together - as long as we were not near the scene of the crime. Then you suggested that we get desensitized to that area.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Tiggy's Trial

Dear Greyce,

I am an almost-two-year old, female tortoiseshell who has lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the city since I was six months old. I shared my home with an elder feline (eight-year-old male) named Oli who stayed with us for a year before returning to his purrsons. The day before he left, a hooligan named Nala joined the household. She is a feisty, three-year-old female. Since then my life has been hell.

For a few days, Nala lived in the bathroom. When she returned from visiting the vet, she was given the bedroom and I had the rest of the place. Themselves installed a screen door at the entrance to the bedroom; it was used when they were at home to help us two cats to get used to the sight of one another. But it was too much for me. I was terrified when I saw Nala and so I hid behind the TV cabinet for hours even when the door was shut!

Is Nala A Nuisance?

Dear Greyce,

I am a healthy three-year-old, female tabby who is feisty, playful and curious – what you call a high-energy girl who just loves to tear around. I like to wrap a plastic dry cleaning bag around my cat tree and then attack it with my whole body; sometimes I just run around the house with it in my mouth; but my folks take it away from me when they are not around. Sorry . . . I get so excited about play that I forget the purpose of writing you in the first place! So let me get back to telling you about my situation.

While I have a tattoo by which my identity and household can be traced, none of my former humans in the several households in which I’ve resided wishes to have me back. And now I have joined a new home (one-bedroom apartment in the city, actually) after living as a stray.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Getting Used to Someone New

Dear Greyce, I am a beautiful, six-year-old female Ragdoll. I prefurr not to be touched by most people (though I do enjoy a morning massage from Herself). I fear loud noises (like when our roof was re-shingled) and get upset by changes in my routine. I used to live with an older cat (who was bossy especially when it came to food) but she is no longer here.

My Lovely Life: For a time, I had the house to myself. It has an open concept design (meaning that there are very few fully separated spaces, especially on the main floor). It has three floors: an upstairs where there are bedrooms, a main floor and a basement which houses my two litter boxes. On the main floor there is a kitchen, family room, dining room, living room and office which has a glass French door.

My routine revolves around my two favourite spots. During the day, I spent a lot of time in my first favourite spot: on the floor in the living room under the window between two potted plants. A cat tree used to be there but I no longer use it so it was moved upstairs (but I don’t use it there, either). When Herself goes upstairs in the evening, I follow her to my absolutely favourite space: her bedroom - and I jump on the bed. I don’t have access to this room during the day because Herself doesn’t want me to isolate myself which I am prone to do. In the morning, she gives me a long face, ear and tummy rub; I really like this time together. And if she has an afternoon nap, I get to join her again!

I don’t remember the last time I played on my own. Recently Herself bought Da Bird (a fishing-pole type toy with feather at the end) and I love it. We have a great time playing together.

So Greyce, I had my routine and everything in order and then another cat arrived!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tonkinese in Trouble

Dear Greyce, We are two-year-old Tonkinese brothers named Zeus and Ukko. Usually we are incredibly affectionate with each other (though Zeus is more the alpha cat). We were fine until two nights ago when a strange cat entered our backyard and came up to the screen door where we were sitting. We started hissing, growling and attacking at each other.

Ukko has been the main aggressor so he is now confined to a spare bedroom. It’s really hard on him because he likes to be out with everyone; but he keeps on attacking me (Zeus) whenever I get near him.

We both love being with our humans. And we used to love being with each other.

How can we reconcile? I've read that this could take months. Does that mean Ukko has to be locked away for months? We are dismayed! Zeus & Ukko

Monday, August 2, 2010

Introductory Disaster

Dear Greyce, I am a 14 years old Burmese-cross and managed to tolerate another of my species in my home until she died last year. All was going well until Herself returned from a trip - with another cat!  I was furious! I gave Herself the cold shoulder for several days.

When I finally consented to acknowledge Herself, she rewarded me by letting the intruder out of her separate room on a leash. You’d think the hooligan would be grateful but instead she attacked me. Himself pulled her off me and took her back to her room. I ran under the bed of my room.

Since then, I have not been feeling my best and I haven’t used the cat litter. Will this nightmare ever end?

You’d think they’d get the message but over the past two weeks they have persisted. They continue to bring this intruder out on a leash. We hiss and then I retreat to my room. To add insult to injury they have given her a name similar to mine: Lola.

Wait for it Greyce, it gets worse: Last night they decided to let the hooligan out without her leash. She pounced on me hard. They broke it up. Again I hid under the bed.

Believe me Greyce since that pest came into my home, I have been feeling unwell. While I’m youthful for a senior, I do have problems with my kidneys and my urinary tract and thus have days when I am not feeling my best. Did I mention that the intruder is a two year old Bengal? To add to the problem, they really don’t want to give this hooligan back though to their credit, they are afraid that I may not defend myself and will end up badly hurt. Why me, Greyce?

What are our chances of making this work? Lula

Friday, July 30, 2010

Cat Tree Alternative for Cat Wanting to Look Out the Window

Dear Greyce, 

I live in a small, comfortable home with a decent purrson. We have a lovely dining room with a large window that gets lots of sunlight. I love the warmth and really enjoy looking into the yard because there are large trees and visiting birds. The best viewing spot is on the dining table and here is where the trouble begins.

Herself does not want me on the table. Every time I attempt to jump there she shoos me away. So I have to wait until she is out of the house before I can rest in my favourite spot. Needless to say, this greatly upsets my routine.

Having read your column, I know what solution you will propose: a cat tree near that window. While that would be ideal, Herself thinks such furniture is ugly and refuses to have one in the house. 

So what’s a cat to do? 

Puzzled in Ponoka

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Inter-species Feeding Station: Cats and Dog

Dear Readers,

Discerning cats have suffered long enough. You know what I'm talking about: living in quarters that were designed for humans with nary a thought for us! Thank goodness that is over.

And just to show it, the New York Times posted an article, Raising the Bar on Pet Decor. Put your paw on the mouse and click.

I apologize in advance for items related to growlers. But do have a look at the slide show as well a read the text - most especially check out the pet feeding station designed by one caregiver who has both dogs and cats. It's a great idea.

Here's to happier inter-species meals,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hampered by a Four-Paw Declaw

Dear Greyce, We are two adorable shelter graduates who get along well together and have recently consented to join a new home. Our new purrson, however, was surprised to find that all four of our paws (for each of us that is – yep, eight paws in all) have been declawed. We’d love a cat tree but she is afraid to get us one for fear that we won’t be able to climb it. What do you think? Could you please advise on appropriate cat toys as well? We are biters and need a little something on which to work our frustration. Just let us know what to do and we will ensure to aim her credit card in the right direction! Your Feline Fans in Michigan

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Moby's News

Dear Readers, You might remember Moby, the cat who was having difficulty with his companion, Mick and was also a champion indoor sprayer (blog entry, The Pungent Scents of Comfort. Urine Marking #4 - January 26, 2010). Here is his latest news.

Dear Greyce, I just wanted to update you on my progress.  I have been off my meds for two months and I have been using a new litter which is scented - for two weeks. And these last two weeks, I have been urinating INSIDE the box!

Mick and I still have our moments. Also I hang out with a couple of neighbor cats but we don't fight. I don't wander very much anymore because I prefurr to hang with my human family and Mick.

Best wishes, Moby

Moby My Man! Congratulations!! You are making excellent progress. I will keep my paws crossed that your prefurrence for your new litter becomes permanent and that you continue using the box. You've come a long way. I'm so proud of you I'm going to roll in some catnip! Greyce

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hard Poop

Dear Greyce, Remember me? I was the subject of your blog entry, Guess Why I Won't Use the Box? (3/14/10). I'm happy to say that my problem is solved. HOWEVER I have another one: I'm having a difficult time passing my stools which are so hard that I have to strain and that makes me pee a little. I've been checked by my vet (blood panel, too) and have been given a clean bill of health. Herself bought Laxatone but that seems to only work on fur balls and I don't have problems with those. I'd appreciate any suggestions you could give so that I can fianlly poop like I used to. Yours, Max

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Suzi is Stressed

Dear Readers, You may remember Suzi, a lovely cat who lives in Bulgaria, and shares her home with two other permanent felines (her brother Koko and her nemesis Sissi), two foster cats (Jack and Rijko) and one human. She has been the topic of several blog entries beginning with Stuck in the Kitchen (4/21/10); to follow her situation see also entries of the 4/26 - 29 inclusive/10. Suzi has been singled out for bullying: One of the foster cats (Jack) is quite aggressive to her and one of the other permanent residents, Sissi, hunts for her and attacks. Suzi can’t even go to the litter box in peace!

And so Suzi spends most of her time on top of the kitchen cupboards except for a few hours in the evening when she and her brother, Koko, have most of the place to themselves (and the other cats are locked in another room).

I provided some advice but it doesn’t appear to be working - which just goes to show that even though I’m extremely knowledgeable and very intelligent, I am not purrfect.

I want to share Suzi’s letter with you. Be assured that I’m not yet ready to give up on the situation, so don’t forget to read my reply as well. Greyce.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dear Readers,

From time to time an article comes to my attention that I think is worth passing on. This time its from New York - The New York Times that is with it's article, Catios Bring Cats Outdoors. In this article is the link to another worthwhile website for those of you interested in the best of feline design: which might give you some ideas for what to ask for - for your next birthday!

Just think of sniffing the breezes! Greyce

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Educating Humans

Listen Up Fellow Felines, I have an idea to share with you.

Herself likes to borrow DVDs from the local library so I put the bug in her ear to get Roger Tabor's Understanding Cats (PBS Home Video - Call# DVD 636.8 TAB if your human uses the Edmonton Public Library). We watched 80 minutes of pure education to refresh Herself's knowledge of the superior species - about kittens, about territory, and about so-called bad habits. I must admit that it is one of the better such pieces I've watched - probably because Tabor knows his stuff (as much as a human can know about us). He's famous for his studies of feral cat colonies.

So if your human is in need of a refresher, consider this DVD as a relatively painless way to get him or her back on track!  Yours, Greyce

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Molly Takes a Big Step

Readers, you may recall Molly (of Molly and Ivy, not Molly and Filou) a painfully shy cat who is trying her best to become a full-fledged member of her household. See also Oil & Water (11/10/09), Molly's Update (28/12/09) and Molly's Good News (2/22/10). Here is latest report.

Dear Greyce, Here is another update on my progress.

I'm continuing to become a bit more outgoing. With the warmer weather, Ivy spends most of her time outdoors which means I have the run of the house. And I'm now able to use a litter box in the basement (rather than restricting myself exclusively to the bedroom - my safe room). But I do have my limits: I still distrust sudden moves and loud noises.

But here is my best news: I've come to enjoy sitting on Herself's lap in the afternoon.

Just thought you'd like to know. Molly

Dear Molly, How wonderful that you are able to enjoy the warmth of human companionship - quite literally. You have made remarkable progress in a very patient and caring household. And don't fret about your limits. Even I, who consider myself to be most purrfect, have been known to have limitations. And given your history and temperament, fearing sudden moves and loud noises is purrfectly understandable. Let's raise a glass to catnip wine to your remarkable progress. Purrs and whisker kisses, Greyce.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Jack's Dilemma

Hi Greyce, I’m a big, nine year old guy who is adjusting to a new home and I have a LOT of questions for you, related to three different matters: urine marking, a canine surprise, and feline rivalry. But first I’ll tell you a bit about myself.

I’d been in the SPCA shelter for several months housed together with Annabelle, a much smaller and somewhat older cat (age 10 years). Because shelter staff said we get along and because my new purrsons thought I could use the company, Annabelle and I moved together – about 10 days ago.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Possessiveness on the Rise

Hello Greyce, Although things have improved dramatically since we first contacted you (about Molly and me - See Molly's Adventure 5/6/10), we still have a long way to go. I accepted my new companion from the get-go while she has been taking her time. Still, she is getting bolder with each passing week.

Having Molly on the premises 24/7 has also brought out the Tigger in me. Just like my hero (from Winnie the Pooh) I like to sneak up and pounce on her. Truth be told, I really don't like to share Herself with Molly, even if She gives me a truckload of Filou-only snuggles. And while I understand Molly can't just stay in the corner all the time, it really is bugging me.

Can you help me get over my petty possessiveness? Filou

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Poop in the Flower Beds

Dear Greyce, We are distressed by the actions of a neighbour’s cat who uses our garden for a toilet. As a cat, surely you must know what should be done to discourage such action. We have tried sprinkling cayenne on the ‘gifts’ and have scattered moth balls around, all to no avail. We weighted down plastic netting over a previously gifted area and that seemed to work but we cannot cover the whole garden with netting. And so we’re baffled and could use some cat intuition. Your fans.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why Do I Have to Socialize?

Dear Greyce, As you can see from my photo, I am a Bulgarian beauty and I am in search both of a name by which humans can address me and a permanent residence. About a month ago, I was humanely trapped and spayed and then went to live with my rescuer. Unfortunately the large dog who lives with her gave me a hard time. I solved the problem by staying in the basement and roaming the yard. You can imagine what my life had been like on the streets, for I never went outside that yard.

I am not a social cat. I prefurr to stay by myself. However this did not meet with her approval. “How will you ever get adopted if you continue to behave that way?” she would say to me. Frankly I didn’t care. Life was fine as it was.

In the hopes of preparing me for adoption, she placed me for fostering in an apartment with a young couple. I’ve been here about three weeks and I have it just the way I like it.

I live in the bedroom. When they return in the evening, I hide. Then at night when they are asleep, I start to play.

I’m fed wet and dry food and have come to enjoy both. Sometimes when Herself serves my dinner, I let her touch me on the head. And sometimes I will watch Themselves lie on the bed or sleep, until one of them moves – when I leave immediately.

I am not aggressive but I fear noise and movement that is unexpected (or loud), and I do NOT like to be touched. I have a litter box which I use faithfully.

In other words, I am not much trouble at all. So why do I have to become more able to interact with human beings? I like things as they are. Nameless Beauty

Thursday, May 20, 2010

This Yard IS Mine! (Indoors or Out Series 8)

Finally I get to tell you all about my cat fence. I bet you can't even see the cat fence in this picture but I assure you it IS there!

It all started because I was a stray - on my own for about a month when Herself found me sitting on the ice in an early December. I had been an indoor-only cat but I owhad a taste of the outdoors. Don't get me wrong. I love central heating and secure shelter. But it wanted to go outside, too!

As winter turned to spring and I became increasingly interested in the outdoors, my friend, Nuit, offered the loan of her Figure 8 harness and lead so I could try it. I wanted to go outside so badly that I adapted to it like a duck to water. The folks were so delighted that they indulged my needs with a minimum of twice-daily walks around the premises. I walk like a curious catwhich means I wander, sit and watch, sit on the fence and watch, ponder, go down the back lane to check on the sassy tortie a few doors down, and go back to my driveway and eat grass, and maybe return to the front yard and sit on the steps. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes at a time -- when 'they' are in a hurry. Most times, I'm released into the backyard (where my cat fence is) and then I'm one my own, once my leash and harness are removed.

As the hours of daylight increased, I wanted to go outside more often. To make things easier, Herself tried tethering me. As I mentioned before, first I escaped from the harness itself and had a lovely wander around the yard; the next time, I pulled up the stake to which my lead was tethered and just dragged it with me.

It was time for Themselves to take action. They debated. Herself was for an enclosure off the deck. But Himself, my true love, insisted that I be free to help him with the vegetable garden. They fenced in all parts of the yard and then proceeded to install a cat fence. The kind they got does not let me get out and does not let other cats in. That's it on the right in all its glory.

Of course, the same need for variety and change applies to using the backyard as to using an enclosure. A yard without plantings or wildlife or action is boring.

Once we got the wrinkles ironed out of it, it worked like a charm. The first wrinkle was that they hadn't completely secured the space between the regular fence and the ground. So with a bit of searching on my part, I found ways to get underneath and out into the back lane. The installation of river rock (the kind of rock used for garden rockeries) along the border put a stop to that.

The next wrinkle occurred later when a rather persistent cat insisted on getting up on our gate and trying to insert himself through a narrow opening between the gate and the garage wall. (I was convinced he was attracted by my good looks; but Herself says it was the large catmint bush that 'called' to him.) That problem was remedied with the insertion of a small bit of additional net.

And since then, the only mishap we've had was at 3:00 a.m. when a cat, new to the neighbourhood, hopped the neighbour's fence. He didn't see the cat fence and so he tumbled into it and it deposited him squarely into our garden. All went well until I ventured forth around 6:00 a.m. and started to wail. I was ushered back inside and the gate was left opened. He raced for it! And he has never returned.

So all in all my folks are pleased with their efforts. Even though it was made in Texas, my fence survives Edmonton winters very well. They check from time to time so make sure the supports haven't loosened but other than the occasional adjustment, all is well. It gives them peace of mind that I am safe. Thank goodness for that, because that means I get the entire backyard for my purrsonal use most times I want it.

In the good weather (and after the vole and bird breeding season), they are pretty good about leaving the cat door open for me whenever they are home and awake. But during those seasons, they resent being disturbed by the sight of me bringing home lunch so the cat door is closed and they provide door service. (I'm a good catcher but never manage the killing bite; so with their help, most of my food cache is able to be released.)

Am I happy? That depends.

I'm pleased to have outdoor access and generous access at that. Coupled with several leash walks a day (at least two), my needs are reasonably satisfied.

But still, I really wish they'd buy the 12 surrounding properties and evict all the pets and kids who live in them, so I could have the place all to my self. I can't imagine why they don't consider it.

If you are interested in cat fences, check the resources below for ones made with net and ones made with PVC pipe. Also check out  as well as the ones listed in the blog entry from this series on cat enclosures (#7) because many of the enclosure sites include various kinds of cat fences, too. And there is LOTS to choose from!


Net Systems

PVC Tube Systems

Monday, May 17, 2010

Pet Doors (Indoors or Out Series 7)

As promised, I wanted to provide some information about pet doors for those of you thinking about enclosures. A pet door is an ideal way of getting from your home to your enclosure without requiring door service from a human. If your enclosure abuts your home, then the door is the means of direct access. If it is a distance from your home, you may still want to use a pet door that connects to a netted or cat tunnel leading to the enclosure itself. (One website for net tunnels is and I'd encourage you to also consider wire ones, shown in some of the enclosure resources I listed in #6 of this series.) It's all a matter of prefurrence.

You can probably get a pet door at your local pet supply store. But before you do, I encourage you to look at some websites and acquaint yourself with the various options.
Some work with regular doors.
Some work with windows.
Some work with sash windows.
Some work with sliding glass or patio doors.
Some work with screens.
And if you want to get fancy, there are motorized, electronic, infrared and magnetized ones.
If you are Rubenesque, you might want to check the sizing recommendations and stick to doors made for larger cats.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tibby's Cat Enclosure (Indoors or Out Series 6)

My friend Tibby has a lovely outdoor enclosure that was made by a company that usually makes outdoor dog kennels. But since Tibby (and his companions) were so very special, they got something for cats instead. It's made of heavy duty frost fencing and is very stable and heavy. There is a door leading to the grounds so Herself can visit or tidy up; it is usually padlocked to keep visitors out. In the summer it is surrounded on the outside by plants and vines, offering shelter, privacy and added wildlife - butterflies.

Monday, May 10, 2010

An Outdoor Room for Cats (Indoors or Out Series 5)

Many of my friends have cat enclosures - even those with apartment balconies. I'm talking about a separate outdoor space to which you have access, that has walls and a roof. The walls are constructed of material that allows you to see out while keeping you inside the structure.

This is a way for you to enjoy the outdoors safely. Depending upon the house rules, you may have access to it 24/7, only when your folks are awake, or only when they are home. It lets you enjoy the scents the waft in on the breezes, watch the wildlife and hear their sounds, purrhaps even catch a bug or two. So for those of you who are housebound, an enclosure provides environmental stimulation par excellence.

Because all cat enclosures are not created equal, I’m going to give you a checklist of what to look for BEFORE you use your catnip allowance to either buy one ready-made or convince your people to make one.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Molly's Adventure - Getting Used to Her New Home

Dear Greyce, Thank you for helping me understand my situation (in your article, I've Been Kidnapped - 4/6/10). I realize that I have been re-homed and while this was done without my purrmission, it has several benefits the biggest of which is that I am away from that terrorizing toddler. I am also getting used to my feline companion, Filou, who has been most patient with me; and I'm starting to enjoy my new Herself.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Going for A Walk (Indoors or Out Series 4)

Going out on a leash and harness accompanied by your valued purrson can be a fulfilling experience. It allows you to sniff the breezes and inhale the many scents wafting through the air, improve your birdwatching skills, not to mention chase the odd bug. Along with the environmental stimulation this can provide, going out will give you some badly-needed exercise (physical and intellectual) - to keep you in top shape.

But Is Walking on Leash and Harness Right For You?

In spite of all the benefits, not every cat likes to go outside on leash and harness. As with most things, we adapt better when we are kittens than when we are adults. And some, like those of us who cannot stand touch or are very anxious, may find that harness training just doesn’t cut it. There is no point in pursuing something that doesn’t suit you. But you might just want to give it a try first – before you dig your claws in and refuse to budge.

Of course to do so you will need the cooperation (and longer-term commitment) of your purrson, both to help you adapt and then to accompany you on excursions. The adaptation phase can take up to several months so make sure you choose the more patient human family member and enlist him or her in this process.

The biggest hurdle deals with the harness. Those of you in need of harness selection and adaptation can refer to Harness Facts (April 26/10).

It's likely that your folks will purchase a leash along with the harness. Basically there are two types of interest: one that is a fixed length and one that is flexible. I started with a fixed length lead first until I got more confident in exploring; then I graduated to a flexi-lead (also know as a retractable lead). Each of us is different and each of our folks is different too. The flexi-lead requires more control and vigilance on the part of your purrson (so that the lead doesn't suddenly snap back, for example). So make sure your purrson is well-trained in the fine art of lead management.

Leading Up To Your Walk

When your are comfortable in the harness, your purrson should attach the leash and take you for a walk IN your home. Now most humans think they are walking a dog and so they will attempt to take the lead. Fat chance! The smart human will go where want to go, at your pace. A small but very delicious food treat placed about a foot in front of you will encourage you to walk there and get it.

Once this has been accomplished you are ready to try it outdoors. And by trying it outdoors, I mean going for a walk. Get fastened up - leash and human attached - and have a brief outdoor trip, starting with short periods of time and working to longer periods as you are able to tolerate it. Again your human will have to learn that you are NOT a dog and thus that you will set the pace and the direction for the walk. It may only be a few metres (yards in American), followed by a pause to sniff carefully and purrhaps reassess the situation. But so what? It will also be wise to start this at a quiet time of the day, when distractions (loud traffic, inquiring children, and bossy dogs are not about).

Thanks to the proper training of my humans, I now have leisurely strolls about the property and near neighbourhood, accompanied by my human. This version of going outside does have some advantages. First, I have whoever gets the honour of the moment all to myself. Second, I have the chance to instruct them on matters of importance, like that caragana bush the wild hare brushes past and the corner of my house that is marked by other cats. And third, I have someone to protect me should a growler come along.

And I have taught my humans very valuable lessons. They used to think they could multi-task while walking me. The minute Herself got her nose in her book while out with me, I leapt over the neighbour’s fence. Now she focuses on the details around me, watching for cues that I’m about to be up to no good. When I demand a walk she may moan about having to go outside, but once we are there she gives up all thought of the tasks she wanted to accomplish and plunges herself into the moment. I understand humans pay a lot to learn how to de-stress and focus on the present. You’d think she’d give me an extra helping of catnip for teaching her – for free!

Should your humans so require it, I've listed a few more resources to help the process. The first ones are those also mentioned in the entry Harness Facts. But there are several others which show cats in action - walking - and they are also worth a look.

The article, Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash (article available at ) is reasonably clear and complete.

Teach Your Cat to Walk on a Leash Tutorial by FBBMyspace. Click on the link Cat Walking Tutorial to see the best video, by far. The purrson stresses the importance of patience and the length of time involved (about 2 to 3 months of training) and the demonstrations are clear and careful. The cat wears a walking jacket, so it's a good demo of how that works, too.
Vega's Walk (Cat on a Walk) by IACBY. Vega's Walk has wonderful footage (or is it paw-age) of Vega the cat getting ready for then going on a walk. Vega ponders when the door is open, sizing up her options. She stops and starts depending on whim. It's real and it's obvious she has a caring purrson. Four paws up!

For those of you of the Oriental purrsuasion (Siamese, Tonkinese, Burmese, Abysinian), My Cat Walks (really, my cat runs or trots) and Kira Walks show another facet of the experience.

So if you are eager for outdoor experience, this is one option to try. I'll write later about cat enclosures and fences because, of course, we cats love choice!