Category Archives: Cat health

A new home for Narla

Kingston upon Thames-20150309-02120I have some rather lovely news about one of my clients, Narla.

Some of you might remember that earlier in the year I used Facebook and Twitter to ask if anyone could help to find her a forever home.

Narla was up for adoption through the Houslow Animal Welfare Society (HAWS)  and was being fostered by a lovely lady called Melanie in Surbiton. Melanie had booked The Staff to fuss and feed Narla several times and we were determined to help find her a permanent home.

I tasked The Staff with talking about her at every opportunity but it seemed that no-one wanted to take on a 10 year puss – no matter how loving and gentle she might be.

Then along came Robin! He’d tried to contact me months ago but dopey Elaine hadn’t found his message (seriously, I sometimes wonder why I just don’t do everything myself). Robin contacted HAWS anyway to find out more.

At the time he had an elderly cat, Topaz who had lost her twin sister and thought Narla would be company for her. However he and the charity decided it wasn’t fair on either Topes or Narla.

Then two things happened. Sadly Topaz passed away and Elaine finally found Robin’s message and got in touch with him. (I made her apologise profusely).

Although he felt he could never go through the pain of losing another cat, he was please to hear Narla was still available for adoption. He got in touch with HAWS again and went round to meet her. She stole his heart there and then.

“I sat beside her, stroking her and she purred her heart out. How could I resist?” He signed the adoption papers and arranged to pick her up the following week when he could take a few days off work to keep her company as she settled into her new home.

“We’re a perfect match,” he laughs. “Getting on a bit, tubby and a little bit lazy – e-Harmony would love it!

“I live in a town house which has three floors, so Narla spent the first few days exploring, making herself at home and finding her paws. She’s already found a few places that she now owns. I think she’s gorgeous!”Huge thanks to Robin for giving Narla a permanent home and to Melanie for looking after her so well for the last 18 months.I hope you’ll be really happy together Robin!


Aaah. I love a happy ending. Mmm… think I’ve got something in my eye…



Surbiton cat thief

The Staff have just had a very disturbing call from one of our Fuss and Feed clients.

She’s seen someone trying to coax her cat into a basket on three occasions now – in broad daylight. This morning she was able to go out and confront him. He ran off. He’s black and around 5’ 8” and has a cat basket with him.

Our clients live in Berrylands, Surbiton so if you are in the area, and have feline friends, please, please be extra vigilant. Please tell any of your friends who share their homes with cats too.

Our called the police who told her someone in Croydon is killing cats in the most horrific ways – they’re not sure if there’s a connection. Here’s the link to the story on SW

The Staff and I would be very grateful if you could spread the word and look out for this guy if you live in Surbiton.


Why cats love catnip

CatnipCatnip (Nepeta cataria) is a well-known cat favourite, and stories abound about its effect on felines – not only house cats but some of my larger cousins too.

It’s easy to grow and strangely enough the plant is quite safe from cats until you pick a few leaves and bruise them to release the smell we love. There are exceptions of course and some cats will dig it up.

catnip-leaves-loNepetalactone is the whoo-hoo stuff that really does the business in catmints. It cleverly attaches to our nose channels, and can cause us temporary euphoria, sometimes it makes us playful or a bit aggressive, and some cats I know just want to roll around in it.

There’s no known danger if a cat eats catnip. If I were to eat too much I might be sick but I wouldn’t be poisoned. As catnip is mildly sedative (for humans too) it might make me rather sleepy –  but it’ll be hard to tell really because me and all the other cats I know can sleep 15 hours a day anyway!

Cat in catnipTypically the reaction to catnip lasts about 5-10 minutes then cats will be quiet and sleep.  We won’t react to catnip for another two hours.

The science boffins say catnip resembles a component of female cat urine odorant MMB. Some people have even suggested it might mimic kitty sex communication pheromones.  Talking of sex, I’m told there’s no difference in reaction whether a cat is male, female or spayed – so there!

But little kittens don’t like the smell and some are even afraid of it.

Noses apart, some of the catmints have nicer flowers and a more human-friendly smell than others. Herb catalogues will be a source of these more exotic catnips. Your cat probably doesn’t care – I know I don’t.

There are other plants we like too but for different reasons. For instance if catmint is my party plant, the indoor spider plant (Chlorophytum comosum) is my salad bowl. Nice to chew on, but it has zilch effect on my mood.

A huge thank you to Valerie Munro of Auntie Planty for helping me write this post and for the scientific bits.

Valerie is a horticulturist who helps people create the garden of their dreams by mentoring them and solving their plant problems. So you’re still in control of the work but you know exactly what you need to do to achieve what you want.

She has two cats – Jack and Buddy and here they are.






Mr Pickles moves to Cornwall

A couple of weeks ago, Elaine was having coffee with her friend Jules.  Jules asked if Elaine knew anyone who would be willing to take on Mr Pickles, a 15-year-old cat who lived outside of Bracknell in Berkshire.

Mr Pickles had semi-adopted Jules’s friends – Stacey and Julie – two years ago. Although he didn’t live with them on a permanent basis, they had an understanding. He would turn up for food, sit with them in the evenings, and he had even allowed them to take him to the, ahem, V.E.T. Mr Pickles and the couple’s young son had become firm friends and would cuddle up together on the sofa.

Anyway, the family were emigrating to Australia and knew Mr Pickles, elderly gent that he was, probably wouldn’t survive the flight let alone the quarantine. They were desperate to find him a good home.

They’d asked around the village but no-one knew where he’d come from.  A few people suggested he lived in a shed, but none of them were willing to give him a home.

Jules told all this to Elaine one Friday – Jules and Stacey were emigrating the following week!

So Elaine set to work – with my help of course. I Tweeted and put it on my Facebook page. I also suggested she contact our lovely Cornish friends – David and Paula. These fabulous people have six lady cats!

Turns out they were on holiday in Greece, but Paula answered E’s message and said her postman, Simon may take Mr P. She messaged him and he said yes straightaway.

So The Plight of Mr P went from Bracknell to Surbiton to Greece to Cornwall in a matter of minutes!  Elaine gave Jules Simon’s phone number and she passed it to her friends.

They contacted him the very next day and on the Thursday, the day before he was due to emigrate, Jules’s friend Stacey set out at 6am and drove Mr Pickles to Redruth, Cornwall.

Simon loves all animals, which is why Paula thought of him immediately. Simon had been semi-adopted by Doofus – a neighbour’s cat who used to come in for food and to sleep. Sadly he died suddenly not long ago at the young age of seven.

“It was a big loss,” says Simon. “He was a real companion. So naturally when Mr Pickles came a calling, I jumped at the chance to help someone else and to welcome a new companion into my home.”

Mr Pickles

Simon reports that Mr Pickles is settling in well after a week of staying in while he got used to his new surroundings. Simon has had him micro chipped and has put in a cat flap so he can come and go as he pleases.

“He has realised this is his home now and seems quite content here,” says Simon.

Ahhhh. I love a happy ending – don’t you? Huge thanks to Simon for having such a big heart and taking on this lovely elderly gentleman. And to Jules, her friends Julie and Stacey for doing the right thing by him, and of course to Paula for thinking of Simon.

Mr Pickles 2 Elaine and Graham tell me Cornwall is very beautiful. They get all misty eyed when they talk about it so I’m sure Mr P’s twilight years will be very happy in such a wonderful place.








What to do if your cat gets a scratch

The Staff have had their first Fuss and Feed V.E.T. drama. In fact, Monday evening turned out to be quite a round.

At the first house they discovered the clients had decided they were fed-up with Whiskers and had begun to prepare their own supper by placing a small (dead) bird in one of their bowls.

The second house was the scene of the drama – more later – and at the last house there was vomit.  Nice.

But back to the House of Drama. Three of our clients live there – two lady cats and a street-wise, battle-scarred wily old campaigner. Well, it looked like he had lost this particular campaign and The Staff are not unconvinced that one of the lady cats was responsible. Meow.

He had a nasty scratch over one eye heading towards his ear. So, much to his disgust, The Staff gently cleaned it with saline solution. This is the best thing to use and here’s why.

Most of our minor wounds will heal on their own but it’s really important to keep them clean to avoid infections.

Use a saline solution to clean the wound. It will disinfect the wound without stinging and it doesn’t have side effects.

Completely dissolve 1/4 teaspoon of table salt in 237ml (1/2 pint) of room-temperature water. Use cotton wool to gently bathe the wound with the solution three or four times a day until it heals.

Make sure you make a new solution each time though because bacteria can form if it’s been sitting around. And of course use new cotton wool balls or pad for every treatment.  

Please don’t use an antiseptic that you’d use on yourself though. We cats do like to lick ourselves clean and human antiseptics can be toxic to us. Apparently Savlon and Dettol can give us a chemical burn on our tongues.  And they are too abrasive for our skin if it’s broken so please do avoid antiseptics intended for humans.

The Staff bathed the scratch again the next day but decided it would be sensible to take Mr Scrapper (not his real name) to the vet. They asked themselves what they would do if it had happened to me and of course they would bundle me into my carrier and take me off to see He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.

Happy to report Mr Scrapper is fine and doesn’t even have to wear The Collar of Shame. He did, however, get an antibiotic injection and a course of tablets for his troubles.

So, if you’re in the slightest bit concerned about a scratch or wound on your cat, or one you’re looking after, clean it with mild salty water first, then always consult your vet.

The Staff report that, despite being carted off to the V.E.T. this morning, Mr Scrapper came running to greet them this evening so he’s obviously forgiven them.





Why loud noises make your cat jumpy – and how to help

I don’t like loud noises. The sound of the ironing board being set up. Graham blowing his nose or sneezing (he’s very loud). Elaine yelling at football matches on TV (again, very loud. And most unladylike). Thunder. Fireworks. They all make me jumpy and distressed.

It’s hardly surprising really when you consider cats’ hearing is supremely acute. Apparently my hearing goes up to something called ultrasonic which means I can pick up very high-pitched sounds. Cats’ ears swivel like satellite dishes to pinpoint the source of a sound, and our ear-flaps can independently point backwards, forwards and sideways.

If you want to get very technical, we cats can hear 100,000 hertz compared to you humans who can only hear 20,000.  That’s a big difference isn’t it?

It’s perfect for hunting; not so good when Elaine is watching football or Graham has a cold. And don’t mention the vacuum cleaner, although that doesn’t come out very often.

This hot weather has brought a couple of storms, and I’ll admit I was pretty scared.

Then there’s fireworks, which I’ve noticed you don’t just bring out on bonfire night. Any excuse isn’t it? Especially during the summer when you seem to like setting them off at concerts and festivals.

So please spare a thought for the cat in your life. Here are some things you can do to help us through thunder and fireworks, and other dins.

1) Stay calm. Try to distract your feline friend with their favourite toys – my Kickeroo and laser pointer would do it for me.

2) Some of us hide under the bed or behind the sofa because it muffles the sound. If your cat hasn’t found anywhere in particular, encourage them into a nice dark hiding place by putting their favourite treats there.

3) You could try a pheromone spray or plug-in. They help to relieve stress and you can get them from pet shops or the V.E.T.

4) The best thing you can do though is be reassuring, soothing, and make your cat feel safe and secure.

Thanks to the following sites for the information:

The Nest

Love Meow


Keeping it cool for cats

Lounging 2


Now we cats are highly intelligent creatures and we can cope with most situations – including hot weather. We’ll find the coolest spots in the house and garden but there are one or two things you humans can do to help make sure we’re nice and comfortable when the temperatures rise.

Here are some of my top tips

1) Make sure there are nice, dark cool places around the house. I like lying on the bed during the morning, so my staff keep the bedroom curtains closed when it’s hot and sunny. It’s hard to snooze with the sun in your eyes!

I also like to curl up and nap under a shady plant in a large pot in the garden – the soil keeps me nice and cool.

In the plant pot

You could find a nice box, pop a towel in it and place it somewhere nice and cool, for your cat to snooze in. And you could wrap an ice pack in a towel and put that in the box for extra coolness.

In the box

Or dampen a towel with nice cold water and leave it on the floor. We’ll know when it’s right for us to lie on so don’t try to force us. Ha ha – as if you could!

The main thing here is not to leave us in excessively hot conditions such as an unventilated room. And be careful if you need to take us to the V. E. T.  – don’t cover our carry cases no matter how much noise we make. Try the ice pack in a towel trick to make sure we stay cool.


Cool and shady

Cool and shady

2) Another way you can help to keep us cool is by dampening a cloth and stroking from the top of the head and down the back. You can do this a couple of times during a hot day. Well, you can try…

Our tummies, pads, armpits, under the chin and on the outside of our ears are where we get the warmest, so please focus on keeping these spots cool!

3) Most of us like to be combed and for good reasons. Did you know that matted fur traps heat? So by combing us you’re making sure air flows freely through our fur which will help to keep us cool. I’m a short-haired chap but I can imagine how horrible it would be to have long fur with tangles and knots in it.

4) Just like humans, we cats can become dehydrated during hot weather. So please make sure our water bowls are kept full. Leave some extra bowls around as well and in the garden too.

5) I’m a playful kind of chap and I like nothing more than chasing the laser dot. But my staff are under strict instructions not to encourage me to run around in the heat. I’ve told them it’s best to help me stay calm by sitting and stroking me. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

6) We are very susceptible to heatstroke in excessive heat conditions. That’s because we have small body weight compared to a high surface area. I’ve already mentioned how to avoid excessive heat conditions but just in case you think your cat has a problem, here are the symptoms to look out for

  • Panting like a dog
  • Anxiety, possibly demonstrated by pacing
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Hyperventilated breathing or heaving
  • Dark red gums
  • Lethargy, weakness and or wobbliness

7) Don’t be concerned if we sleep more on hot days. We need 16 hours a day and are likely to nap more when it’s hot rather than rushing around like mad things.

8) You may notice your cat grooming more than usual. Again, no cause for concern – it helps us to cool down. It’s a bit like sweating in humans only not as unpleasant.

9) Take notice of your cat’s feet. We have sweat glands on our paws, so if we leave wet prints, we’re sweating and will need to top up our fluids. You can try cooling us down by dipping our paws in water, but you may not get a good reaction!

10) We don’t pant very often – certainly not as much as dogs, but we will pant to take on cooler air if we are very hot. But keep an eye on it because heavy panting could be a symptom of heat stroke (see above).

11) Fleas – little parasites – who needs them? Certainly not us cats. Please make sure you protect us with monthly parasite control. Even if we make a fuss… My staff got me a one-off injection at the V.E.T. to see me through the year.  Er, thanks guys.

12) Did you know that outdoor cats can become sunburned, particularly on the tips of their noses, ears and other less hairy bits?  And white cats are more susceptible. So apply a pet sunscreen, which can’t be licked off, to the nose and ears of pale-coloured cats when they do go outside. Check with your V.E.T. first though to make sure the sunscreen you choose is safe for cats.

Of course, you do realise it will start pouring with rain the minute I post this don’t you? Well, that’s another post for another day :)

with fan

 Thank you to:
Franny Syufy of Cats
Rachel Dixon – The
Care 2