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Nepetalactone for Catnip fun and catnip play

Nepetalactone 

Nepetalactone means catnip fun and play for your cat.

Anyone recognize that name? Nepalactone comprises from 70 to 99% of the essential oil of the catnip plant. It is the stuff that makes your cat rub, lick, and roll.

I recently ran across an interesting article that talked about catnip that I wanted to share with you. Some things I knew, some facts I didn’t.

The Look

As a cat lover/owner, you already know what happens to most cats when they are exposed to, and get that whiff of catnip.

Yep, they get that “Look”, and then decide to go chase their tail, or some other absurdly and ridiculous activity.

The kitty in the photo above is Hermes. He was originally Charlotte’s cat, but has somehow managed to find his home here with us. Thanks Charlotte. (Charlotte presently runs the Kabul Small Animal Rescue (KSAR) in Kabul, Afghanistan. And by the way, Charlotte and I want to say thanks to all of you Cat Purrs Newsletter Readers for your help and support)

Hermes was not “Nipped Out” when I took this picture. He actually has a pair of strikingly large eyes. He can be a sweetheart, but is more often than not, a pain – literally (he scratches and bites if he’s not a “Happy Camper” – kind of like me when I’m not happy).

Back to the catnip.

Who Does What?

It seems that even lions like catnip, but tigers may not be affected.

The affects that catnip has on a cat are passed down through genetics, which is why some cats do not respond, and are seemingly disinterested in catnip.

Catnip Fun, Play, and Curative?

Originally, catnip was used by people to cure, or help, everything from headaches and insanity, to hemorrhoids and infant colic.

People used to smoke the leaves, or infuse it as a tea (many still do), to ease tensions, as a medicine, or possibly to get high. The leaves of the plant can also be chewed. These methods supposedly offer a calming effect.

What I did not know was that if you chewed the root, it has the opposite affect of calming, and can cause an amphetamine like reaction whereby it acts as a stimulant in people.

Originally, catnip was used by people to cure, or help, everything from headaches and insanity, to hemorrhoids and infant colic.

People used to smoke the leaves, or infuse it as a tea (many still do), to ease tensions, as a medicine, or possibly to get high. The leaves of the plant can also be chewed. These methods supposedly offer a calming effect.

What I did not know was that if you chewed the root, it has the opposite affect, causing an amphetamine like reaction whereby it acts as a stimulant in people.

Ways To Give Your Cat Catnip

How many of you have cats?

Do you give your cats catnip. 

Order from Chewy.com

There are several ways that you can give your cat the pleasure of having a “Catnip High”.
And, by the way, the effects do not last that long. 10-15 minutes is the usual duration that
your cat will be a “Nutcase”.

I know there are a couple schools of thought on whether catnip is good for a cat or not, but I have not come across any negative research (and I do research the things that I write about) indicating that it is unhealthy in any way for a cat to enjoy a bit of “Nip” every now and then.

TIP: It’s easy to grow! You can grow catnip outside or inside.

Another TIP: If you grow it inside, grow it in a place where your cats can’t get to it until you want them to. HUGE mistake if you do.

Keep on petting!

Dangerous decisions that your cats make

Dangerous decisions that cats make

So, what does go through your cats mind when it decides to
eat a dangerous flower such as a lily?

When Charlotte’s (Kabul Small Animal Rescue) cat Hermes was living with her,
she had her PhD graduation party. One of the gifts brought to
her was a bouquet of flowers. It just so happens that there
were a couple of lillies stashed in between the rest of the flora.
Lillies are usually deadly to cats if eaten.

Hermes, one of her two cats who lived mostly in the kitchen cabinets,
utensil drawers, and even the occasional empty
refrigerator shelf,
decided he wanted to check things out.

Well Hermes, for some reason, was drawn to these lillies, and
he decided to taste test one of them.  He did more than just taste,
he ate muc of the lily. Bad decision.


With all the commotion (and adult beverage) of the occasion, no one noticed
Hermes until he was getting sick, which was several hours later.

An emergency room visit later, a stomach flush, and lots of I.V. fluids
given, he managed to use up another of his many lives. He survived – barely.

Today is Hermes is fine, and he is kept away from ALL flowers. He no longer lives
with Charlotte, but with us. Charlotte is busy in Afghanistan rescuing
cats and dogs (Kabul Small Animal Rescue). Hermes, and his step sibling Gracy,
were Charlotte’s rescues
from Greece about 11 years ago when she was
a graduate student, and they are both about the same age.

This is Hermes

                    HERMES

Here is another example.

Dangerous thinking of my cat

I was vacuuming out some ductwork in the house a few years ago when one of our cats
(Harlequin) decided to check out the inside of the duct. She crawed into the vent (I should never have turned my back) and proceeded to explore.

Fortunately, I have a basement and it was not too hard finding the correct vent opening
that she had disappeared into. The problem was that now she was not happy, and was
trying to find her way out. This meant that she was on the move.

Now, that would not have been a problem, except for the fact that all of this
ductwork is connected to a furnace (which I made sure was turned off).
Fortunately, she did not find her way to the main part of the furnace where 
she could have gotten hurt.

Long story short – she got stuck, but after about two hours of coaxing, calling,
begging, pleading, and frustration, I did finally get her out.  Believe me when I say
that dismantling ductwork is no fun – especially when your cat is inside of the duct!


                             Harlequin


So, what IS your cat thinking?

Cats do think. they are actually smarter in many ways than most of us,
but they do get shortchanged by most people when it comes to the
“Smarts” category. Sometimes they do seem to do some really 
“Dumb” things, but how many “Dumb” things have you ever done?
I’m still doing them, and more often then my cats.

Off the top of my head I was going to say that much of what cats do
will relate to their instincts. Then I began thinking. 

“What was I thinking?” It dawned on me, why just instinct?
Some activity is instinct, but maybe cats like to find out what is around
them just like you do.

  1. When considering the purchase of a new house, or moving into another
    apartment, don’t you want to see it before you make a commitment?

  2. Do you want to drive a car before you buy it?

  3. You might be interested in meeting the person you are going to marry
    (though I am aware that does not happen in some cultures).

Cats don’t usually have choices as to where they live. When you give them
a home, they depend on you to feed them and keep them safe.
But, they also want to know all of their possible “Escape Routes” just in case
this new place doesn’t work out – Like Harlequin. I just remembered that
she had not been in the house for very long. 

Something else to consider, and that is how adventurous your cat might be.
Younger cats tend to be busier, but not always. The same goes for the
older generation of cats, except that they tend to be more laid back, but
again, not always.

Do you like adventure in your life? Sure you do. What makes you think that your
cat doesn’t like a little adventure, stimulation, and to be exposed to different
things in his/her life?

As a matter of fact, research has been done showing that cats actually do like a bit of
novelty in their lives. This was demonstrated by a test where cats were given a 
choice of familiar toys, or new and novel toys. Cats showed a higher than expected
tendency to choose the novel toys.

Just as you do things on impulse, so do your cats, and when you act on impulse,
it can often lead you into circumstances that you did not expect to encounter.

You may even ask yourself, “Why did I make such a dangerous decision?”

If you own a cat (and you probably already know, and do this), but it is important
to pay attention to your environment’s surroundings. Your cat cannot always
see some of the dangers that are obvious to you. Therefore it is up to you
to remove as many dangers to your cat as you can identify. 

Your cat, just like you, is likely to get into trouble on occasion. Think of these times 
not as your cat has caused you trouble, but that your cat has taught you something
about him or her.

We have been pretty lucky with our cats. Hermes did get out once and managed
somehow to get to where our dogs stay. Well, one of our dogs almost lost her eye.
He just got scared as both dogs came over to see what the commotion was
all about.

Hermes has always been a bit of a “Problem Child”, but is still a pretty sweet cat.

We can  only be so careful, and can only do so much to keep things safe.
One more thing that you may wish to do in case the unthinkable happens,
and that is to keep your vet’s (and emergency vet’s) phone numbers handy.

On occasions where you have visitors stay overnight, this can disrupt, and
provide additional opportunities for your cat to get into things he/she 
shouldn’t. Never be afraid to educate your guests on your “Cat Proofing”
procedures. The last thing that your guests want is to spend their time
with you in the vet’s office rather than over that leisurely cup of coffee.

Always be on the alert for harmful situations that your cat might find interesting,
so that any decisions your cat makes will not be dangerous ones.

 

Cat Social Play And How It Benefits Kittens and Cats

Cat social play is often overlooked, and taken for granted.

Even if you don’t own a cat, you will still find yourself looking
at those videos of cats and kittens doing the silly, to the amazing.
If you are a cat owner, especially if you have had kittens around,
then you know that kittens and cats loooove to play.

Research coming out of Cornell University in New York suggests
that cat social play may benefit kittens and cats.

Basically, these researchers watched kittens play with each other.
Now, who wouldn’t want a job like that?

For those of you who have been around cats, or have raised more two or more
kittens or younger cats at the same time, you likely already know
that kittens really like to show off and display their dominance.
Especially the boys! Not so unlike the human species.

There are several “Play” positions that these researchers felt were
important. These are:

1. Belly up
2. Standing up
3. Vertical stance
4. Horizontal leap
5. Pounce
6. Face off
7. Side step
8. Chasing


Belly up during cat social play

These folks came to the conclusion that the incredible frequency
of the “Belly up”, and “Stand up” positions, and the various combinations
of these positions, indicated that the goal of the kittens and cats social play was
was to initiate physical contact. DO YA’ THINK?

cat social play
Belly Up Cat Play

Anyone who has observed two cats or kittens playing for
more than about 20 seconds would probably come to the same conclusion – that
there was a definite desire to initiate physical contact. But research is research,
and they (hopefully) did things by “The Book”. I just hope they read it (The book that is).

When in the Belly Up (BU) position, a kitten will paw at the other kitten.
The researchers attirbuted this to just wanting to make physical contact with
the other kitten on the head, neck, or ventrally.


Kitten and cat social play – Stand Up Position (SU)

The stand up position (note the previous photo) would certainly be considered the dominant position, and the standing cat will taunt, nip, and “Bite” the kitten
who is in the submissive (Belly up) position.

The cats/kittens will often switch places with one another throughout
a play session. This behavior is often seen as both kittens tend to roll
about in unison as one entity while switching places several times.

The Face Off position during social play of the cat (FO)

The Face Off position is characterized by a switching tail, a taunting paw, and
the kittens “Steely Gaze” being directed at the other cat or kitten.

There also might be a simultaneous “Face Off” by both kittens.
(It sounds to me like things are getting serious).

The Vertical Stance (VS)

I’m not certain that I can explain the Vertical Stance position very well,
so here is the researchers explanation:

“The kitten assumes a sitting position, lifts its front paws off the ground
and stretches them out perpendicular to its body. The kitten also extends

its back legs so that it is in a stationary bi-pedal position.

I think what is happening is that the cat/kitten is basically standing
on its back legs looking like it is ready to box.

The horizontal leap (HL) during kittens social play

This next one is also difficult to visualize, so here is the researchers
description of the “Horizontal Leap”:

“The kitten assumes a lateral position, with respect to another kitten, arches back slightly and curves its tail upwards and towards its body then leaps off the ground.”

I am thinking that this may be when the kitten or cat gets along side of
another kitten, and appears to take off like a rocket – straight up! Then,
from what I usually remember seeing, they usually scamper away (but this
is not noted in this research).


Side Step (SS) during social play

This is a very common sight, especially among kittens. The kitten has
its back arched, and appears to walk sideways in its “Tippy-Paws” while
continuing to eye its “Prey”. The cat will kind of circle its victim.

The researchers description:
“The kitten arches its back, curls its tail up- wards and walks sideways toward or around another kitten or object.”

Pounce (P)

Anyone who has been around any cat will recognize the “Pounce”.

The cat/kitten may crouch, or drop its chest to the floor with its
back end and tail (which is usually swishing from side-to-side) up
in the air, and the there is the “Pounce”, a very quick jump and landing
on (or near) the target.

Again, here is how the researchers describe things :
“The kitten crouches with its head held low or touching the ground and its back legs tucked in and its tail straight back. The tail may be moved back and forth. The kitten
moves its hindquarters back and forth and moves forward, the thrust coming from the extension of its back legs.”

The last pattern of behavior that these researchers identify is the Chase.
This is another social (or anti-social) bit of behavior that the researchers
saw in most of the interactions that took place during their research.


Chase (CH)

The Chase is exactly what the word describes. One cat or kitten takes off
after another. One chases and the other one runs away.

One thing that I find rather amusing in their description is – well, here.
You read it for yourself. It may give you a chuckle.

“Of all the patterns, this one moves the animal through the most area.”

Two animals running after each other covering the most ground? Genius!

Again, the researchers did note it as part of the behavior, and did not take
for granted that the movements covering a large area would be acknowledged
by their readers.

To us cat owners, its a “Well, DUH!”.
Their analysis was that these Cat social play behaviors occur from 4 weeks to
about 4 months of age. Also, the older the kitten becomes, the fewer of these
social play interactions will take place. Hey, they grow up.

You may be reading this and recognize the resemblence to actual cat fighting.
These researcher note that the differences between the fighting and the play is
that during play there are specific combinations of these elements, and these
combinations are different during play versus an actual fighting situation.

For instance, in a play situation, the Belly Up is usually preceded by a Pounce.
During an actual fight the Pounce is replaced by the defensive “Arched- back, posture” which is never seen in a play situation.

In addition, cat social play is usually two cat or kittens appearing to kill each other,
but seem to be on equal terms. Whereas in an actual fight situation you will usually
see one cat being dominant over the other, and the exhibiting of fear in the cat
that is being dominated.


Kitten benefits of cat social play

The Cat Social Play provides:

1. Exercise
2. Promotion of bonding with litter mates
3. Keeps the litter of cats together for “Easy” mom access
4. Preparation for when kittens must be on their own


More of the researchers thoughts:

“This period can be characterized as one of social living, dependency upon a from the living area. Kittens, at this age, parent for food and protection and confinement of activities to a relatively small area. The movements of the young are first re- stricted by the kitten’s inability to travel and later by the necessity that they be available to the female for nourishment and protection from environmental dangers. It is while the kitten is living under such conditions that social play occurs as frequent and regular activity.”

Research is one of those things that will often be absolutely confusing
as, well, cat behavior. Then there is the research that is so straight
forward (like this study) that leaves you wondering why someone
wold go to the trouble of doing it at all.

The fact is, why cats behave the way they do is a total mystery, other
than the simple fact that they have many instinctual habits that are
just inherent, and basic. They my seem primitive, but we have them too.

Cats are considered to be more solitary by nature than say dogs.
Dogs have succumbed to domestication more easily also.
However, cats do like social interaction, just not in the same ways.

I am not going into anything deeper here. I will give more of my
thoughts in next months Cat Purrs publication. This was actually
an interesting study in many ways. Sign up (above right) and find out
what those ways are.

Fresh Water For Outside Cats During Hot Or Cold Days

Are your outside cats getting enough fresh water?

Pets during extreme hot or cold days do not usually fare very well.
The major reason is that many animals (Pets) living outdoors do not
have access to a consistent water supply.

If an outside cat is lucky enough to live near a stream, then it is
going to be okay – that is until the stream dries up on those
extremely hot days. Of course, winter will likely freeze what
water is flowing, unless the stream is large and moves well. 

If the weather goes to freezing,  then it is not easy for outside cats, dogs,
and other outside animals to always find the water that they need to stay alive.
This is where you, as the human caretaker come in if you are helping
out the needy (neighborhood kitties).

Drink This!

Handling Outside Water During Summer

Our pets (cats, dogs, raccoons, birds, et.al.), whatever form and species
they may be, require water to stay healthy.

An overheated dog or cat can just as easily suffer from the heat
as we can. The difference is that we can get a drink of water whenever
we please just by turning on the faucet.  Maybe an inside cat can manage
to find the spigot, but of course an outside dog or cat cannot.

Winter Water Weather

Winter water is different than summer water. A summer water bowl is usually empty due to the outside pets drinking it, and evaporation.

On cold winter days the water bowl will usually still have water in it – in the form of ice.

An iced over water bowl is pretty much the same thing as an emptly water bowl to a thirsty cat as it can’t drink from either of them. Frozen water does not lap up as
well as the stuff that is wet.

I was just thinking, do you remember the cartoons and movies that depict
some little kid with their tongue stuck to some metal post? They were going
to lick some ice or something? Well, I have no research, and I’m sure that
cats are not that stupid to intentionally engage in “Tongue Sticking”, but I
wonder if a cat’s tongue can get stuck on ice?

Yet another reason for keeping outside water fresh!

You have undoubtedly heard this mantra many times before as
it is easy to forget to keep checking outside water bowls for empty, or
frozen dishes.  However,
we all know that forgetting does not excuse us
from that responsibility,  and
therefore it is important that we do our
part to keep fresh water available for our cats no matter what the
outside climate might be doing.

Are your pets afraid of you?

Maybe you don’t think that your pets are afraid of you, and
hopefully you are right. Unfortunately, I have never really
met anyone who has a pet that there is never some fear
coming from the cat or dog. This includes – yours truly.

I always consider myself to be rather good with most
pets that I encounter. Many of you do also. 

Your pet(s) may not always be skittish of you, but
there are usually times when things may not be going
just right, and your pet (cat especially) may not be
anxious to come out to see you. 

Think, your dog comes when it’s called, your cat
jumps up on your lap when you sit down, expecting
to be petted – and you willingly oblige.

Think again. Do you ever get angry? Do you ever raise your voice?
Do you ever drop things (intentionally or unintentionally), and
do these “Things” create loud noises when they arrive on the
floor, either in pieces, or lucky to still be alive?

Maybe the drop gets cushioned by something that has
the capability of creating an even greater mess for you
to clean up?

angry coffee

At this point are you really going to ask what all this has to
do with whether or not your pets are afraid of you?
Well, okay. If you insist. Here we go, even though you may
not wish to come along.

Tip: You can get items that will help your pet during his/her
stressful times, whatever they may be. Some of the best items
I have found to reduce stress in cats are the Pheromone products.  


Loud Noise

Most cats do not like loud noises. So what’s different from you or I?
You don’t wish to be next to railroad tracks (although many are), or 
an airport (many more are), and isn’t it nice to get away to a quiet
place where you can relax? Kind of like taking a vacation.

Well, your kitties kind of like things to be on the quiet side too.
In case you haven’t noticed, when there is a loud disturbance,
most cats (there are always exceptions) will find a place to hide.

=> Yelling – if you yell, that is raising the decibel level of what
     your cat is likely used to hearing. If there is a lot of yelling
     and screaming, your cat could become fearful which may manifest
     itself in the behavior of your cat(s) – other cats may be affected also.

=> Punish with noise – Most people don’t want to hurt their pets when,
     disciplining, but what I have heard is that some people will take a newpaper,
     or some object, and slap it against their hand in order to make
     loud “Clapping” type sounds. This likely will scare your cat and will eventually
     make it fearful of you if you do this very often.
     Remember – Cats also remember!

=> Angry with yourself – How often have you managed to screw something
up unexpectedly, and found yourself stating expletives that you thought
you had forgotten long ago. And you thought you had a bad memory.

During these stressful times, your voice may raise (your blood pressure does),
you may say things out loud that are louder than usual, 

I don’t need to go on about the noise thing. I do think that you get the
idea of why ou should be careful when you discipline your cat. You can 
discipline your cat without resorting to destructive methods – yelling,
hitting (any physical punishment), or withholding food.

Learn about your cat’s habits and instinctual behaviors.  You and your 
cat will be much happier for it.

What you need to know about Covid-19 and your pets

=> Can your pets get Covid-19?

=> Are you at risk of getting it from your cat or dog?

=> Will your pet contract Covid-19 from you?

=> If my pet does get sick, how sick?

There are many questions and concerns about personal, and pet,
safety that cat and dog owners have these days due to the present
problems caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the scientific community, this virus is called SARS-CoV-2.
I happened to be at the vet today taking my older dog to
get her heartworm test. My vet told me that there are
many Covid diseases that pets get, but the symptoms
are so mild that they don’t even treat the pet.

Hopefully, things will soon settle down, and normalcy will
once again be established. However, with so many viewpoints
and political interests, it may take a while for that to happen.

#1 Can your pet get this Covid-19 virus?

By now you have probably heard that dogs can get this virus.
Where do they get it from? Their owners – YOU! But never fret,
dogs don’t get very sick, if they do at all.

And your cats? Yep. Cats too can get this virus. Your cat will exhibit
even fewer symptoms than your dog, but your kitty seems to be
more contagious to other cats than your infected dog is to
other dogs.

Generally, animals will not contract covid -19. The number of cases of pets
getting this virus is extremely small. This is mostly spread among the
human population through some kind of contact.

#2 Can you catch this stuff (Covid) from your pet?

There have been studies done suggesting that indicate that
you likely cannot get this virus from your pet. These researchers
always put in the caveat the it still might be possible, but
the chances of you getting this from your pet are slim to none.

You don’t even hear anything on the news about Covid-19
being spread by animals. This virus originally came from some
animal (Bat seems to be the most pointed to), but animals
don’t generally seem to be guilty of spreading this disease to humans.

#3 Can your pet get this from you?

Well, in case you missed it earlier, I did “Spill the beans” so to speak.
“Where do they get it from? Their owners – YOU!” is what I wrote earlier.
So, I guess the answer is YES. Actually, people are the culprits when it
comes to transmitting this to animals.

By now you have also probably heard about the tiger at the Bronx zoo
testing positive for Covid -19, and making it the first “Cat” to test positive
for this virus. The finger seems to be pointed at one of the cat’s keepers
who had the virus.

Since then, many cats have tested positive for Covid-19, as well as
dogs, ferrets, mink, and some farm animals.

The bottom line is that some people are getting rid of their pets, or
boarding them for fear of either getting infected, or giving the
infection to their pet(s).

There is no logical reason to not keep your pet. Even if your pet
did get sick (which is quite rare), your pet would likely not have
severe problems, and would definitely not die.

I found a really good article on the American Veterinary Medical Association’s
website that explains a lot about the research being done with animals,
and why fear does not have to be a part of your life with your pet.
Check the article out here.