Cat Fight After Identifying Friend or Foe


How do I tell if the cat coming toward me is a Friend or Foe? Even us kitties use our gut feeling (instincts) when greeting a new cat. Sure, I could state the obvious: if their claws are out, back arched and fur standing on end – probably Foe. Yet this is also the pose a scared young cat will make to bluff that it is bigger and fiercer (when actually she is quivering and ready to bolt)

One thing to keep in mind: most of the time the Foe is a male trying to stake out new territory or a female cat. So when a new cats stray into my neighborhood, it’s usually a Foe. When a sweet house kitty gets out for a few hours, primarily a Friend. When I encounter these cats, there are only a few moments to decide which one they are. To do this, I use my method of identifying potential threats, called: Slider’s Superior Skills System or “SSSS” and I make that sound when practicing

Step 1: Control the First Impression
Scared Kitten
Make sure to Fluff your fur to MAXIMUM. For the best angle, turn your body sideways but keep your head facing forward. Start flicking your tail back and forth like a whip. Stare-them down.

Step 2: Verbalize
Choose between growling and hissing to verbalize your intention. If they reply in the same tone, the fight is on  If the foe seems particularly tough, an all-out caterwaul is in order “Mrreeooowwwaahh ”

Step 3: Action
Circle each other, striking out with a fully-claw-extended paw. Go for the neck, grabbing ahold to land a solid bite on the back. Finally, kick like crazy at the torso, hoping to drive home the idea “I need to get out of here.”

Of course there can be positive interactions as well – like with my friend Frosty. She is a silver tabby that sits on my front porch, patiently waiting for me to get let outside. We take turns rubbing against the railing beams, marking our scent. Then we roll on the pine-straw, laying side-by-side in the sun. She likes to lean over and lick my ears, cleaning out the dirt and smoothing down my fly-aways. That is a true friend!

BEWARE the Caterpillar


I discovered the oddest creature, it fell right out of the Oak tree onto me! Arching my back, I flung it off onto the wooden planks, where it inched around the big fern. It had long tufts of snow-white hair, lots of little stubby feet, and evil black horns. Unlucky for me, the catepillar stung through my fur. Perhaps it was the odd howl that came next, or the collapse onto my side, eyes rolling and tongue panting. One look at me and my owner shrieked at the kids to call Doctor so-and-so. “Where is that insect identification book when you need it? Go look on the computer, Google “stinging caterpillars and key in the description.”pussmoth

No, it was not a common White-Marked Tussock Moth, they don’t sting. They have a distinctive red head. Also on the porch, flung onto the fern, was a super-hairy Asp. This is a toxic caterpillar
with the sting feeling “often very severe, radiating up a limb and causing burning, swelling… with headache, abdominal pain, skin rashes and blisters, and even chest pain or difficulty breathing.” (Eagleman 2008).

There was now a noticeable swelling on my back, and I was having trouble breathing. Thank goodness we keep Benadryl around. I didn’t even mind when the sticky stuff was squirted down my throat. I was wrapped in a towel and carried to the waiting car. We zoomed off in a haze and I fell asleep. The next thing I remember was a bright light…

No, it wasn’t kitty heaven, I have used up only 3 of my 9 lives. I was recovering in the animal hospital. The Dr. had removed the barb still stuck in my back with tweezers. Using commercial tape, the doctor had repeatedly placed fresh pieces over the wound and slowly pulled them off, removing any remaining hairs. Next, hot soapy water was used to clean the area. A topical antihistamine was applied and then an ice-pack to reduce the swelling. The quick reaction of my owner probably saved my life!

Upon returning home, I went to my favorite book and looked up “Poisonous Caterpillars in North Carolina.” It listed the Asp as the most toxic! A few others to beware of:

1. The bright colored Spiny Oak Slug Caterpillar. The vibrant orange and red stripe across it’s light-green back warn of poisonous spines.

2. The Saddleback Caterpillar, looking very slug-like and found in the garden. This guy has a brown body, green horse-saddle (really, it looks just one) with a distinctive brown spot in the center of it’s back.

3. The Stinging Rose Caterpillar (often found on rose bushes), has beautiful colors of vivid yellows, reds, purples, and oranges. It almost looks like blown glass, smooth with the yellow tendrils sticking out full of poisonous barb.

Cat Scratch Fever

Cute Cat With Closed Eyes Scratching A Scratching Post

Does your cat scratch things you don’t want it to, like the new sofa? Or the curtains?  You are not alone in this vexing problem. Many cat owners seek a way to curb this “bad” cat habit!!

“The goal in resolving scratching problems is to redirect the behavior onto acceptable objects” Suzanne Hechts, Ph.D. Strategically placing a scratching post, an old rug, or a cardboard box can redirect your cat’s scratching area. You may be wondering “W hy do they do it in the first place?”

There are several reasons why a cat scratches:

1. To stretch their kitty limbs and flex their feet!
2. To mark an area (cats have scent glands on their feet that deposit a smell on the scratched object)
3. To get the dead outer layer of skin off their claws
4. To show dominance in front of another cat

And the reason they choose to claw your favorite chair, the one you spend the most time in?
Simply, kitty is marking you as his or her human and since that chair smells like you (or bed, or sofa).

So now we know why they scratch, let’s go over how we can get them to do it only in specific, acceptable places.

1. Cover objects you don’t’ want scratched with something kitty won’t like:
a. Double-sided sticky tape
b.  aluminum foil
c. sheets of sandpaper
You will need to leave these up for several weeks until kitty develops the new habit.

2. Buy a vertical scratching surface, one tall enough for kitty to fully stretch out while scratching
The post ideally should  be similar to tree bark, and many have sisal fiber rope wound around, that is coarse and perfect for kitty claws

3. Have more than one scratching post. Especially if you have more than one cat! Ideally, you should place one near where they sleep so that when they wake up and stretch, they have a place to flex their muscles. “Placing a scratching post in a prominent location in the most used room in the house, even directly in front of the piece of furniture the cat has shown a preference for, will often encourage the cat to scratch the post to mark his territory”-Petfinder.

Some recommended scratching posts include:
•    Carpeted board/ Tree perch (you can make this yourself by wrapping scrap carpet on a 4 by 4
•     Sisal Cat Scratching Post
•    Horizontal Super Scratcher made from cardboard

Every Rose Has It’s Thorn

Rose Closeup

The doorbell rang this morning and a delivery man brought something exciting into my house – a new plant!  How I do love all things green and leafy – can’t wait to destroy this one. Closing the door,  my owner cradled the plant like a baby and exclaimed “A dozen roses, oh honey you shouldn’t have!”

“The flowers are for mother’s day,  my sweetheart. Of course I should, and probably much more often ” he replied. After they were set on the table, I jumped up to investigate. My nose twitched with excitement, they smelled really good – like honey. I tried to get some of that heavenly scent on my fur and rubbed-up against them. OUCH! The deceptive rose has nasty pointy objects hidden on its stem. Those evil spikes impaled my beautiful fur and I wailed until mom came over.

“Oh Slider, what now!” Seeing the red drops of blood blooming in my fur, she brought over tweezers and told me I had just gotten a thorn in my side. I informed her that this new plant had to go, taking a swat at it a few moments later. “No Slider, look how you’ve knocked the Peach Petals off! Shoo!”

Later, as I lay glaring over at the new plant, my owner brought over a magazine FULL OF ROSES!  She tried to interest me in the horrid plant, and spoke about getting a bunch for the garden. I opened my mouth real wide, a giant yawn, to demonstrate my level of interest. “Now Slider, I know how you love learning. See, here is a diagram about  the meaning behind each color of rose. I was given the Peach plant variety.  Please try and find what out what this color means for me.” She continued to look at me expectantly, so I finally scanned the page. Eight different colors of roses, each with a description after it – curiously interesting:

Dark Pink: Appreciation and Gratitude
Light Pink: Admiration, Sympathy and Sweetness
Yellow: Friendship, New Beginnings, HappinessSlippity
Red: Love, Courage, Respect
White: Purity, Innocence
Peach: Appreciation and Sincerity
Lavender: Enchantment, Love at First Sight
Orange: Fascination, Desire

I weighed in on her Peach roses and the appreciation/sincerity they signified with a heartfelt “Meoooow.”

“Good old Slider. ” She smiled as if she understood.

Home Alone


At first I was devastated when you left me alone. I would meow and wail and whine. Pace around the house and claw your favorite chair out of spite. Throw myself on the bed in defeat and wait agonizingly for your return.

But then one day it dawned on me – you weren’t there. You couldn’t scold me, or stop me from doing anything that I wanted to do. I could counter surf, taste the crumbs on the tabletop, pee in the plant, or drink from the toilet and NO ONE WOULD KNOW! How liberating.

Now, I look for signs of when you might be leaving: tension in the air, family members rounded- up. Then the shoes and coats come out of the closet. Finally, the jangle of keys and slap of the door as it closes behind you. My excitement level rises up as the car pulls down the driveway.

Warning! Read no further if you want to remain ignorant of how the cat plays while the mice (or owners) are away.

The first thing I do is get a refreshing sip of toilet water. Then over to the kitchen to clean the countertops. If the butter is left out, I might lick the top once for good luck. Next, a casual stroll across your pillows, pausing to scratch my ears and fling random fur. I will proceed to press my cute little nose against every window, exhaling briefly to make the maximum smudge mark.

Finally, I seek out any bug/mouse/old stinky thing I can find and scoop it into my mouth, carry it over to your clothes basket, and bury it inside. You won’t find it before washing and it will give your clothes a nice pungent smell.

If you are starting to sweat and worry, may I suggest investing in a kitty cam? I hear that Dropcam is affordable, has high-definition video, and can be accessed with a smart phone, tablet or computer.

If you are going away for more than a day, please make sure you have my favorite pet sitter from Four Paws come visit me and give me tasty treats!
She loves to play with me and she will let you know if I have done anything bad but more than anything you will know I am safe and sound.

Bird Brain


Do you know why cats love to watch birds?

Because they make the best high-pitched noises!

They are jumpy, quirky and never still!

Most of all, they appeal to our  predator instincts!

Their movements are startling and they come right up to the window (!) oblivious to my twitching kitty whiskers pressed close.

The bright red Cardinal is the state bird of North Carolina, so easy to see against the dreary brown branches of winter.Male-Northern-Cardinal

If you hear me emit a low growl as I bird watch, it’s the excitement bubbling out my throat and I just can’t control what will happen next!

I might jump at the window, or sit for hours with my tail twitching, as I visualize the soft feathery neck between my teeth.

A bird like toy you may want to pick up for me: Da Bird.

This cat toy consists of a 36″ rod, nylon string and feathers that mimic the action of a real bird in flight. It costs around $3 and can be found at any pet store, including :
Natural Pet Discount Super Store

I do have one worry: They said on the news that “New studies have shown that several songbird species have been suffering badly as a result of rising levels of predation.

Population declines of the tree sparrow (down 89 per cent), bullfinch (down 56 per cent) and house sparrow (down 74 per cent) have all been blamed on (increased predators) and the resurgence of the sparrowhawk in both rural and urban areas.”

Oh no! Will I look out my window one day and see only grey branches?

Do your part, pet owners, and PLEASE keep your kitties inside.

If they insist on venturing out, make sure they wear a bell on their collar to warn birds of their approach.

Hey, I don’t want to be bossy, but do I also don’t want to lose my whistling, chirping, hopping BIRDIES!!

Water: A Cat’s Friend or Foe?


Today the forecast is for rain… all day.

For us cats, that means severe depression, all-day napping, and dreams of somewhere dry – like the desert.

See, we don’t exactly hate water, we just don’t like getting wet!

If you have ever left a faucet running or dripping, then you know that our curiosity demands we investigate.

In fact, please take us into the bathroom as you get ready  – the shower is music to our ears.

We love to chase the water droplets down the glass!

Things we love about water:

1. Movement  –  It wiggles when we touch it, but doesn’t get away.

2. Freshness – One water feature that may interest us in drinking more often: the Flowing Pet Fountain!

It plugs into the wall and a small pump circulates water in a constant spinning motion that is fascinating to watch. For hours.  On the box it reads: “the fountain oxygenates the water supply and has a charcoal filter for removing stench and bad taste.” (For cats with more refined taste).cat.fountain

Myths about water: That all cats dislike it.

My wise owner was reading about wild cats and how they enjoy an occasional swim to cool down: “Some big cats in the wild, especially those in hot, arid areas, regularly swim and bathe to stay cool or catch dinner.

The Asian Fishing cat is a skilled swimmer, with partially webbed paws, that dives to nab its prey.”

You mean it goes UNDER the water? Disgusting!

I guarantee you that the Asian Fishing cat is not anywhere in my family tree.

I prefer my fish pre-caught and pre-packaged in a little tin can labeled: TUNA, in oil. (Better for my shiny coat).

So, it is still raining two hours later.

I opened one eye to lazily watch Animal Planet and they were comparing the far superior domesticated cat to the less particular wild cat.

Supposedly, the wild “Turkish Van cat actually delights in getting wet”. (Who got inside this cats head?)

“His ancestors did, too, plunging into lake waters to better cope with the extreme summer heat in the Lake Van region of Turkey, where the breed originated.

They have a unique texture to their cashmere-like coats that make them waterproof which lets them enjoy swimming and other water games.”

This sounded highly suspicious to me, so I checked The International Cat Association (TICA) website to verify a cat LIKING water and found out it was true!

Honestly, what is this world coming to? I believe cats should not swim, our paw-baths are good enough.

Water is not our friend.

When a Cat Discovers Snow!


I was peering out the window, zeroing in on a tweety-bird, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?

A thousand white, floaty things obscuring my vision!

Are they bugs? Itty bitty birds?

Odd that they only fly down to the ground. Maybe they are edible?

No, my tingly cat-senses tell me these white floaties aren’t alive. I must investigate…

With my tail twitching in anticipation, I leap to the door and meow.

Curiosity is getting the better of me and I must get outside.

First, to verify that the floaties are not edible. Second, to determine if they are dangerous -don’t want to waste one of my nine lives.

After louder, more frequent yeowling my owner finally opens the door, and I advance with caution, tail twitching.

Every smart predator will tell you that half the battle is stalking your prey, anticipating what it will do next. The white floaties have no scent, which is frustrating, so I use my eyes to gage their next move.

They always fall down, and then huddle into piles on the ground.

My best guess is to single out a few in mid-air and catch them in my paw for closer inspection.

I dart out of my hiding place, wildly scrambling on the slippery driveway, all four paws flying through the air.

My surprise attack turns into a skid as I bring down the floaties – but wait!

The minute I catch one, it disappear, leaving behind only a wet spot!

This makes me very angry, and I shake each paw vigorously.

Mommy appears at the doorway, laughing and calling out “Don’t you like the snow, Slider?”


300 Cats and Counting


A unique story lies behind why an Italian artist with goats would start a rescue for cats.
Siglinda Scarpa, grew up in Italy, rescuing cats whenever she could.
Her dream was to “have a place where even cats that were unadoptable could live in comfort, with the care, attention and love they deserve.
No cat would be refused due to age, illness or disposition.
The ultimate goal for each cat would be adoption into a loving home.
But the Refuge would be designed so that they could spend ample periods of time living comfortably, awaiting adoption.”

As the founder of The Goat House Refuge seven years ago, Siglinda uses her own acreage and previous pottery studio to house the cats.
The Refuge name refers to several goats living on her property and the Goathouse Pottery Studio in back
that are housed on the property.
There are approximately 300 cats at any given time, with kittens being housed in a self-contained “Kitty Cabana”.
They can roam the outdoor, fenced acreage or enter through a kitty-door into the main “Cat House”.
Sick cats, old cats (Grandma currently holds the record at 19 years of age!), cats awaiting surgery – these are cared for by volunteers and veterinarians that donate their services.

“Our goal is to connect every animal with a loving family who wants to share their life with a wonderful feline companion.
Typically, 10-20 cats are adopted every month from our facility.”
The Refuge visiting hours are from 12:00 to 3:00 pm every day of the year.
Volunteer staff answer questions about each cat’s personality, age and if it enjoys being around other cats/dogs or would be better as an “only child.”

Siglinda donates proceeds from her pottery and special line of coffee to care for the cats.
She is having a special 40% off Valentine’s Sale on Feb 15 and 16 from 11 am to 4 pm at her Goathouse Gallery.
Her famous cat mugs, heart-shaped plates, and sculptures will be on display.

If you are interested in visiting the Gallery, her address is: 680 Alton Alston Road, Pittsboro, NC.
Here is the event flyer.

If you would like to visit the pottery gallery, adopt a cat, or volunteer, please check out her website:  Goathouse Refuge

You just have to see it to believe it!!

Thanks so much to Nicole Beatty  one of our pet sitters for writing this article. You can find Nicole and her daughter volunteering at the Goathouse.

What’s In That BIG BOX?

Cat entertainment can be really affordable – my winter favorite is called the  BIG BOX.

To find this novelty, please stop by any grocery/drug store and ask for a BIG cardboard box, at least three feet wide.
When you bring it home, tip it sideways and open the flaps part way.
You see, I am curious by nature, and this provides a new space for me to explore.
A fortress to hide inside, a place to attack from, a different napping spot – boxes are so versatile!

Please cut a hole in the box side so that I can peek out, or perhaps slide a paw through and swipe at anything that passes by!

Two more features you can add to the BIG BOX that I simply adore:

1. Taping a piece of string to the side and dangling it over the opening
2. Rubbing cat-nip onto a toy and tossing it inside the box

Did you know that a cat’s sense of smell is 1,000 times that of a human?
The smell of the box to me is exotic and interesting.
With one sniff I can identify what was inside and who handled the box.

Fascinating fact: “ The human nose has about 5 million olfactory receptors, microscopic proteins that allow us to detect odors.
With 45 million to 80 million receptors, cats have a far better sense of smell—but they can’t measure up to the average dog, whose snout holds between 149 million and 300 million receptors.”

So if I seem bored with my same old toys, grab a box or three the next time you are out shopping!
Four Paws Pet Sitting Services has some really good and fun cat sitters.
Call them! 919-388-PAWS