Category Archives: Fascinating cats

Surbiton Festival Congratulations

A huge thanks to everyone who took part in the competitions The Staff organised (under my instructions of course) at The Surbiton Festival in September. And many congratulations to our winners.

Sorry it’s taken so long – you can blame the talented under 10s who took part in our draw a cat competition! Their entries were so good The Staff and I had a hard job judging them. So good in fact,  we decided to award honourable mention prizes. Without further ado, here they are:

Under 10s


We all loved this amusing drawing of a very evil looking cat by Leo Cox – winner of the under 10s section. Turns out his name is Blackie and he’s not evil at all. Thank you Leo – you get my paw of approval for making us smile! Leo won a set of art materials.

And here are the honourable mentions who each won either a pastel, paint or pencil set.



Congratulations to Georgina Standerwick for winning this category. The Staff told me she spent ages on this lovely drawing. In fact they thought she’d disappeared until they found her sitting on the pavement drawing away.

Well done everyone! We hope you make lots more fab drawings. Maybe one day you’ll join the talented professional artists in my Emporium!

Caption competition

Say Ahhhhh

The winner of our caption competition with was Steve Burniston who was born and bred in Surbiton but now lives in Teddington.

His winning caption was ‘How long do I have to say ‘aaaaaaghhhhhh?’

Here’s Steve with his prize – a Jane Adams ceramic sculpture called ‘Laughing Cat’.  Jane is one of my Emporium artists and you can see other examples of her work here.

Steve the winner

Prize draw

On the day, The Staff asked people to pin the names of their cats onto a map of Surbiton which we named ‘The Mappa Monti (get it?!). We wanted to find the most exotically named cats in Surbiton. We think Caramelo takes that title!

People who took part in this survey were invited to enter a prize draw to win a Kickeroo (my favourite toy) for their feline friend.

The lucky winner was Charlie who lives with the Duncan family.  Congratulations Charlie! I hope you love your Kickeroo as much as I love mine. It was a good day for the Duncans because their daughter, Bailey was one of our highly commended artists.

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.






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  





The hard working cats of Exeter Cathedral

Somehow we felines have earned a reputation for not doing much. You humans seem to think we spend our days sleeping, only waking to eat and allow ourselves to be stroked by our adoring humans.

Well let me tell you we are some of the hardest working creatures you’ll find. We’re just incredibly intelligent when it comes to conserving our energy, which means we carry out tasks with precision, efficiency and a cool head.

Down the centuries we’ve been on the payroll of many famous organisations. Take Exeter Cathedral for instance.

The Cathedral is home to an astronomical clock that was fitted in 1484. Fourteen. Eighty. Four. Wow that’s old!

Anyway, the clock developed a rather squeaky problem. A squeaky problem with big teeth and long tails. Yup. Rats. They gnawed away at the ropes in the clock’s inner workings, which were lubricated with animal fat – nectar to rodents.  Something had to be done.

So a hole was made in the door that led to the inside of the clock, big enough to allow a cat to get in and deal with the problem. 

These cats were official cathedral employee, paid one shiny penny a week for their troubles. Imagine the amount of Dreamies that would buy in today’s money!

Exeter Cathedral catOne brave feline employee, Tom, lost an eye in a fight with an owl over a rat and there’s a little stone carving of him inside the Cathedral.

Thanks to Fiona Bruce (I do like Fiona) for sharing this story on Antiques Roadshow!