What Is Whisker Stress?

We have recently came across a term that we thought might be interesting to research. Whisker stress is a real thing and there is a lot of information on it out there. When you first hear “whisker stress”, you may not be aware there really is such a thing. You may ask yourself, “how can a whisker be stressed”. To understand what it is, we need to learn about a cat’s whiskers.

We all know that the long hair that sticks out around a cat’s muzzle are called whiskers. Maybe some may even realizes the the hair above their eyes, or the eyebrows, are whiskers, as well, but did you know that cats have whiskers on the wrists of their forearms? These “hairs” can be up to three times as thick as their fur. They are very sensitive because they are located in areas that are full of blood and nerves.
The most important “job” that the whiskers around a cat’s muzzle is navigation. This is because their whiskers allow them to measure air currents and therefore the cat can “feel” objects that are in their path. Their whiskers, from tip to tip, are about the same width as the cat’s whole body. Have you ever noticed that the whiskers on a bigger cat, like the Maine Coon, are much longer than a smaller cat, like a Siamese? This is to make sure that a cat can fit in a place without getting “stuck”. In these ways, whiskers are essential for navigating. That’s why, some mother cats will chew off the whiskers off of her young kittens. She doesn’t want them to wander off, but to stay close by her. Of course, they will grow back in.
Whiskers also can tell you what your cat is feeling. If they are back against his face, the cat is angry. When they are slightly forward and the tips are pointing down, they are relaxed, happy, “kickin’ back”, as they say. If you notice that his whiskers are tense and pointing forward, he is showing his aggression. This happens mostly when he is hunting.
If the cat senses some sort of danger, the whiskers above his eyes will go into action and tell him to close his eyes, there is danger ahead. In other words, they act as a second set of eyes.
The whiskers on the forearm are used in climbing trees and hunting prey.

Signs of Whisker Stress

Whisker stress is brought on when the nerves in the whiskers are over-stimulated by touch. It is most obvious when the cat eats. If he picks his food out of his dish, one piece at a time, drops it on the floor, and then eats from there, most likely he is suffering from whisker stress, brought on by a dish that is too deep, and his whisker can’t clear its edges. Another way that a cat deals with this problem is to stick his paw in the dish and scoop up a “pawful” of kibble and eat it from the floor. If your cat takes one bite of food, walks away, then a few minutes later comes back again, most likely this is a sign of whisker stress. If he paces in front of his dish, he is telling you that he is not comfortable eating or drinking from that dish. The answer to this problem is, of course, to simply buy a wider dish. Not all cats are bothered by whisker stress.
My Misha has super sensitive whiskers and therefore requires a flatter food dish. Since the water is shared by both cats and Misha has whisker stress, I need to keep the bowl full to the very brim. However, my other cat BoBo, doesn’t suffer from it, so he will eat or drink from any dish.

We cannot express how important it is not to cut or damage the whiskers of a cat in any way. They are nature’s way for a cat to defend themselves, to navigate around, especially at night, and to distinguish if he can or cannot clear a space.

We thank:

Trendy Pet

The Nest

How Stuff Works

Web MD

Cat World

Pets Weekly

Pam Johnson-Bennet

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A Special Story From Cole and Marmalade

Last summer I was contacted by a lady in Dubai who had rescued two kittens off the street and was wondering if we could help find them a home using our social presence… During our messages back and forth I learned a lot about animal welfare in the UAE that was disturbing and made me want…

via Rescuing 2 Cats in Dubai — Cole & Marmalade

How Do Cats Benefit You?

 

tasha21

“What greater gift than the love of a cat.” ~ Charles Dickens

 

Some may think, “We don’t own cats, they own us”, while others think, “Cats are just animals, for goodness sake! ” Those that think the latter, have never been owned by a cat. True, cats are animals, BUT a cat’s nature is such that he will be owned by no one…least of all you! So, I like to think of the relationship I have with my cats as being guardian and cat, not necessarily in that order. I take care of my cats, but as they are not possessions,  they do NOT owe me anything. As long as I remember this fact, we’ll live in harmony. That being said, I will tell you the benefits that my cats bring to me.
For the past 20 years, there have been at least two cats in my household. Why two, you may ask? Some cats are needy and tend to get bossy about your attention.  They want to be the only one in your life.  In other words, the world revolves around them. If I am writing, there is a 99% chance that the cat will try to get my attention, usually by standing on my keyboard. Every time Monkeyface, who was my first cat, felt a little neglected, he would get into the toilet paper, as a form of protest. Then, when I finally came out of my office, toilet paper would be strewn from one end of the house to the other and Monkey would be looking innocently up at me. It was not fun cleaning up, and the expense was got outrageous! That’s when Tiffany Marie came onto the scene.
The two cats had fun together. They would chase each other through the house, playing with their toys (usually fighting over who owns them). Because Monkeyface was a 25 pound furball who didn’t like confrontation, Tiff, a 10 pound Siamese, usually won. Sometimes Tiff, (my ‘living on the edge cat’), would instigate an antic for which she knew, in the end, Monkey would take the blame.   I’d swear, on these occasions, I saw her sit back, snickering, like a bad little kid. So, I had my hands full most of the time, but at least they stayed off of my keyboard.

The most important benefit, to me, was the companionship that my cats bring the me. When I would kick back at night, listening to some soft music,  they would sit quietly, just being content to lay next to me and purr away the day’s cares.  Whenever I was ill, they would take turns laying beside me and purr.  Other times, when I was upset, they would know just what to do. Tiff would come to me and touch her nose to mine, while Monkey just sat there and purred.  On the other hand, there were nights when I would be watching a mystery on the television, and invariably at the part when the killer was stalking the girl (who was wearing 7″ high heels and trying to run in them) through a darkened house, my cats would chase each other through the room like a flash and scare me to death; but it was all good.  I love them and I know that they love me.  But I digress.
It’s is thought by some in the medical field that people can often benefit from being a companion to either a cat or a dog in a host of ways. Below are just a few:

  1. Pets can help to lower a person’s cholesterol
  2. Reduce stress, therefore decrease blood pressure
  3. They can even predict seizures and episodes of hypoglycemia
  4. They have extraordinary powers to help a person’s emotional well being.  Just petting a cat and hearing it purr, has a calming effect on both you and your cat.

Why, I have even heard of one cat saving his guardians life when he detected a carbon dioxide leak in the house.  He woke his person and insisted that she get out of the house by banging himself against the glass door.  In the end, both cat and guardian were safe, and it was all on account of “Super Cat”.

I sure know that my life has been enriched by the love my cats. The benefits are countless. They make me laugh, they give me solace when I’m feeling blue, and most important of all, they are there when I need a friend. It is for these reasons, that I couldn’t live without my cats. Everyone knows that, as long as you have the companionship and love of a cat, the rest will come easy. more

If you are thinking of adopting a pet, don’t think that a dog is the only choice; look into having a cat. Choose wisely; when adopting that special pet, make sure they fit your lifestyle. I will touch on adopting a pet later.

 

Picture:  I Have Cat (single in the city, with cat(s)

Thanks to : Doctors Forster and Smith

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a cat behaviorist, vet, or an expert of any kind. Therefore, I can only claim that the statements made in this blog are based on my personal research and my 20 years of experience as a cat guardian only.

Massage Your Cat’s Blues Away

 

A great way to make your cat purr his cares away, is to massage him. You know how a good massage lightens your mood and kicks your cares to the curb? Well, it is the same for your cat. You should know a couple of things before you try it. Some cats do not like massages. Don’t worry: he will let you know. Just use your cat speak. Your cat will communicate his wishes to you if you just watch him.First, there are a few things which you need to avoid.

Do not touch his whiskers

Your cat’s whiskers are very sensitive. They use them for many things. As an example, damaged whiskers can make navigation hard in their surroundings. The least bit of touch, (like if their food and/or water bowl s are too small for them and their whiskers touch the sides) can cause pain and disorientation.

Do not squeeze

Remember, he is a cat, not a piece of fruit. You need a soft touch. You would not squeeze a baby, so don’t squeeze your cat.

Do not massage if you not relaxed

If you are tense, perturbed, rushed, etc., don’t try to massage your cat. Cats are very sensitive, and can pick up on your moods. So, if you massage him while you are agitated, he will get agitated, too, and he will not get the full benefit of the massage. (Neither will you,  for that matter.)

Do not interrupt him

If he is busy doing something, like grooming himself or sleeping, leave him alone. We all need a little privacy sometimes. He usually will be more receptive if he is relaxed and just laying at your feet (or wherever you cat lays). When he is happy to be with you, that’s the time to share the massage.

Do not massage him right after he eats

Wait about two hours to let his food digest.

Do not push him

If he doesn’t want it, then back off. Give him his space. He will let you know with his body language, how he feels at the moment. Use your cat speak.

Now, we got the don’ts out of the way, let’s dig into the dos.

1) Talk or sing softly to him in a normal voice relax him. No one likes to be squealed at, especially when trying to relax.

2) Start with petting him in his favorite place. My cat likes to be scratched behind his ears. So, whether, be it a full body pet or a scratch  under the chin, start there to help him relax. Apply gentle pressure. Too soft, and he may not feel the massage, and where’s the benefit in that. (You don’t have to use two hands, one is just fine.)

3) Use your whole hand for the body.

4) Next, the head. Using the palm of your hand, massage in slow, gentle circles.

5) With your fingertips, massage slowly, lightly around the ears. When you have finished the ears, move down to the neck and chin and massage with slow, gentle circle using your fingertips. (Do not press the neck). When the neck is done, then the cheeks and face.   Don’t be concerned if he drools or looks a little daze. This tells you that your are on the right track.

6) Next, the forehead. Don’t forget the place just above the eyes. Use your fingertips to massage in circular motions. Remember: softness is the key.

7) Spend a few seconds to pet your cat, from head to tail, as you would normally, then go back to the gentle touch for his head, body and tail.

8) Massage the sides of his body, using your full hand. This should be a firm touch, but remember, do not squeeze.

9) The shoulders need some attention, too. You should first use gentle, circular motions, followed by a soft, but firm, rub down, so to speak. Include his back and sides.

10) Now, go back to using the gentle circular motion to rub him from shoulders to tail. Be very careful around his tail. Some cat’s hips and tail are sensitive.

11) If your cat will allow you to touch his belly, go ahead. Now is the time, since he is nice and relaxed. Caution: This area is very sensitive, so even if he will let you rub it, do not rub too hard. A very light touch with your fingertips is called for here. Do it while you are working another part of his body,for example, his shoulders.
12) The very last step of the massage is his tail. Like his whiskers, his tail is sensitive. Starting at the rump, use a slow gentle touch until you reach the end of his tail. Then pet him as normal for minute or two.

If he’s whips his tail to and fro, stop.  He is probably over stimulated.

This may seem like a long process, but once you and your cat get into it, it seems to end too soon. For more info: Video on massaging your cat

We give our deepest thanks to:

Cat Behavior Associates

Wiki

Petfinder

DISCLAIMER: I am not a cat behaviorist, vet, or an expert of any kind. Therefore, I can only claim that the statements made in this blog are based on my personal research and my 20 years of experience as a cat guardian only.

Does Your Cat Speak to You?

Good question! It has been shown that cats do, indeed have their ways of speaking to you. All you have to do is to learn cat. In the past, people thought that cats were just cats, arrogant and independent. Like their brothers and sisters in the wild, it was thought that they hunted, bathed themselves and slept; then they would wake and start this process all over again. A cat would only grace us with their company when they wanted something, like food. They were good for hunting and killing mice, but not much more .
Pretty dull existence, huh? However, experts have found that all cats do not have just one cookie-cutter personality. Like dogs, they each have their own personality, their needs and desires, and each communicates what is going through their heads differently. Recently, those who have studied the cat-human communication have found that there is a “language” used by cats. If you watch and listen to your cat, the bond your bond with him will become even tighter than before. These examples are just general ways that a cat might communicate. more

Purring as a way of cat communication

First, I want to make it clear that when a cat purrs, it does not always mean they are contented. While, it’s true that this is sometimes the case , there are times when purring means something altogether different. When your cat purrs, watch him. Look at his stance. Are his muscles tense? Is his hair standing on end? Are his eyes dilated and ears back? Most likely, this is a sign of anger and sometimes anger will be accompanied by purring. Another reason for communication by purring is that he is sick and is trying to heal himself. Several year ago, I was seriously ill. I had two cats and, each taking turns, they would lay beside, purring to comfort me.

It’s all in the tail

Other ways of cat-speak is in the tail. That’s right, I said tail. Have you ever noticed how your cat’s tail moves? That is him trying to speak to you (and to other cats). Different ways of cat-communication are, as they say, all in the tail. Cats quite often use their tails to tell you what they want. If it’s erect and the fur is laying down flat and still, he’s happy, alert, and/or inquisitive. He is comfortable in his territory.  If the fur on the tail is bushy, he is angry or afraid. Like a dog, if the tail is held low and between the legs, he is anxious or insecure. If it is thrashing to and fro, he is agitated; leave him alone. The more agitated he gets, the more chances that he will scratch or bite you, or both. If the tail is straight up and quivering, it be one of two things; either he is excited or, if he/she is not neutered/spayed, the cat is likely spraying. more

Eyes

Watch the eyes. The cat uses them to communicate a host of feelings. These are a few ways you can know what your he is trying to tell you. If pupils aren’t dilated, it is normally a sign of contentment. If the pupils become dilated, it can mean that he is angry or terrified. Keep your “eye” on the tail for further clues.

Body

There are a few things you need to know about the body communication. If it’s arched with fur standing on end, he may be scared or angry, but if it is arched and the fur is flat, he is telling you that he wants a pet from you. Laying on his back means he is relaxed. It is also a sign of trust, especially when he allows you to rub his belly. If he is hunched down, with his hind haunches quivering, look out. He might be getting ready to strike, in either anger or play.  Again, watch that tail.

There are, of course, many other ways your cat speaks to you, and we will cover them in later posts.

For more information on communication between you and you cat, please visit:   Man’s Other Best Friend

Our thanks go out to:  Cat Chat, Catster and New York Magazine

DISCLAIMER: I am not a cat behaviorist, vet, or an expert of any kind. Therefore, I can only claim that the statements made in this blog are based on my personal New Nresearch and my 20 years of experience as a cat guardian only.

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