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.

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!