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What Does a Cat Signal With Its Ears?

Dolly and her alert ears

Cats are extraordinary creatures and you can tell a lot about how a cat is feeling just by looking at its body and its body language. Even by just observing your cat’s ears, you can deduce quite a bit of information as their ears are so expressive. Cats’ ears are remarkable. They have 20-30 muscles controlling their movement and they can turn 180 degrees and move independently of each other too. Cats’ ears can scan around them like radars for any sounds. Cats’ ears will also adopt postures which reflects the emotional mood of a cat and be a form of communication and signal to each other and to us humans if we know what to look for. You can read more about a cat’s body language here.

Movement

Cats’ ears will manoeuvre and change direction when a cat is listening to sounds coming from different sources and directions. Some cats have tufts of hair which are longer hairs on the tips of their ears. These additional hairs act as senses to detect sound vibrations around them and are common in wild cats to help with hunting and defending themselves. Some domestic cats will have these small tufts on their ears although they are not as developed as on wild cats.

Five ear signals

There are five basic ear signals that are conveyed through a cat’s ears to signal their moods:

  • relaxed
  • alert
  • agitated
  • defensive
  • aggressive

I’m feeling relaxed

In the relaxed state a cat may be just sitting or resting and the apertures of their ears (the part which is the opening of their ear canal) will point slightly outward and forward. In this state, the cat is able to listen for sounds of interest and monitor sounds around him over a long range. Watch next time your cat is relaxed or sleepy and moves and turns his ears when you enter the room.

I’m alert

When a cat becomes interested in something, his ears will switch into alert mode. This is when the resting cat stares at its focus of interest and fully erects and pricks up his ears. The ear apertures are pointed forward towards the point of interest by rotating the ears. The cat can also maintain its focus by maintaining his gaze whilst rotating his ears if he ears something else in the background. Watch when you cat spots something and stares at it intensely, his ears will be pricked up and tall.

I’m feeling agitated

When a cat is agitated the cat will nervously twitch his ears. A cat will be agitated when it is frustrated or in a state of conflict (you can also watch his tail twitching from side to side when a cat is in a state of conflict).

I’m feeling defensive

When a cat is in defensive mode against an aggressor, its ears will be in a fully flattened position. Cleverly, when a cat flattens its ears it is making itself less visible to an attacker and its head will therefor form a more rounded outline. The ears are pressed tightly against the head to protect the ears in a fight. Our cat Leo is in numerous fights with a local cat that invades his territory. His left ear was slightly torn at the tip during a fight.

I’m feeling aggressive

When a cat is aggressive and ready to defend itself in a scrap, the ears are rotated so that the backs of the ears are forward but not flattened against the head. A cat that is hostile to  but not frightened will display this ear posture to an aggressor. This ear posture signals that the cat is between alert and defensive mode and prepared for a fight, as the ears are rotated with the back showing but not flattened to the head.  In effect, the cat is signalling to its aggressor that he is in an aggressive mode, not frightened and will attack if the aggressor attacks.

If you see your cat with the aggressive and defensive ear signals, do not pick them up as they may lash out because they are in these states. Best to spray them with water to break up an impending fight.

Medical issues

Your cat’s ears can also communicate to you that there is an underlying medical issue affecting your cat. If a cat’s ears remain in the same position over a period of time, such as continually twitching or horizontal, and the emotions don’t match then take your cat to your vet to get him checked out. For instance a cat’s ears twitching may be due to an allergy.

 

 

 

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Protect Your Cat on Fireworks Night

Black cat fireworks night advice

Pets are terrified of fireworks and fireworks noises. Cats, when afraid, will show these signs:

  • Soiling in the house
  • Hiding
  • Loss of appetite
  • Panting

Here are some tips to help your cat or kitten on fireworks night.

  • Ensure that you keep your cat and kitten in. Keep then in with plenty of time as fireworks can start late afternoon and early evening.
  • Make sure that you are around and at home during the fireworks season so you can deal with your pet and keep them in your home and safe. We never book  a holiday or are away from home during the first part of November.
  • Don’t fuss and behave as normally as possible. Making a fuss will reinforce and heighten your pet’s fear.
  • Turn up your TV or play music louder so that it drowns out the noise of fireworks.
  • Ensure that your cat or kitten has  a safe place to hide. Our cats will often hide under a bed.
  • Close your curtains or blinds at night.
  • Ensure that your cat or kitten is microchipped in the event they escape, run away or get lost because they are scared.
  • Never punish your cat or kitten if they create any mess because they are fearful. It’s not their fault.

You can also try non-prescription, natural products that will help to reduce stress and anxiety. Feliway will emit a scent that is produced naturally when cats are feeling comfortable and relaxed. It will give your cat a sense of calm and peace and help to reduce stress.

Zylkene is a product that can help support cats and dogs in stressful situations where they need to adapt their behaviour to cope. It is very simple to give your cat with food or as a treat daily. You can also consult your vet for advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bringing a New Kitten into Your Home

Is a cat the right pet for you - 10 top tips

More than one kitten

Having a kitten is a huge responsibility and one thing to consider is how many kittens to adopt. You may have never thought about getting more than one kitten but, just like human children, kittens get bored easily if they do not get enough stimulation. Having two kittens provides the perfect stimulation for each other as they can play together whilst you are out.

It is often found that single kittens who are left alone all day will be far needier when you come home and can get over exuberant during playtime (as they have been bored while on their own), leading to accidental bites and scratches. In fact, single kittens in general tend to bite and scratch more even if you are at home all day because another kitten is the best one to teach the other that biting and scratching hurts.

Can I leave my kitten alone?

We appreciate that owners cannot watch their kitten 24 hours a day (for example, when you are sleeping) but remember that kittens get into all sorts of mischief and your house should be kitten proofed before you bring them home. Kittens love to explore and if you are not there to supervise you may get home to find the kitten missing, crammed into a small space you’d never even imagined a kitten could get into.

We recommend you don’t leave your kitten alone for more than 4 hours at a time and when you do have to go out, keep them safe in one room with the door shut and make sure there are plenty of safe toys for them to play with so they don’t get lonely or bored.  It’s never too early to start them on food enrichment as well, but try a nice easy toy to begin with, such as a toilet roll pyramid. It’s also a good idea to have a play session with them just before you leave to wear them out so they will sleep for a while once you leave. Leaving the radio or TV on will soften out any sudden background noises to minimise the chance of the kitten being startled whilst you are out.

What if I already have a cat?

If you have a cat already and are introducing a new single kitten into the home, be aware that you can’t introduce them to the other cat straight away. The adult cat may not want to play with the kitten as they have different energy levels and different interests and is therefore not an appropriate playmate for a kitten. It would be like asking a 29 year old (equivalent to a 3 year old cat) to play with a 3 year old child!

How can I keep my kitten safe at home?

Remove fragile items from window sills, tidy away wires and block off any small spaces. Some toys are also dangerous to leave with an unaccompanied kitten such as dangly toys with string on them which could get wrapped around your kitten’s neck for example.

Kitten Collars

Also get your kitten used to wearing a kitten collar so that they are used to wearing it and are less likely to want to remove it when they get older. It is not advisable for kittens under 5 months old to wear collars and the collar should be put on them fully supervised with your kitty indoors. This is because they are very agile and can manoeuvre themselves to get the collar off, as well as getting caught up in the collar during their curious adventures.

We make a variety of smaller kitten collars which include smaller cat-size bells, as well as regular size cat collars.

Microchipping

Always makes sure that you kitten is microchipped and has a tag on its collar so that if it gets lost it has every chance of being reunited with you.

Neutering

Kittens can be neutered from as young as 3 months, depending on weight. It is a myth that kittens should be neutered from 6 months of age, as kittens can actually get pregnant from 5 months. Incredibly one litter of four kittens, if let unneutered, can lead to 92,394 cats in just five years.

Neutering cats can stop behavioural problems including urinating and fighting in male cats. When male and female cats are not neutered and in season, they are also at a higher risk of having an accident or road accident as they will do anything they can to find a mate and could cause themself an injury or unfortunately die.

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Spanish Cat Conchita’s Journey

conchita Rescue cat

We received a lovely email from Sarah telling us about her beautiful tortoiseshell cat called Conchita. Sarah has two of our cotton daisy collars for Conchita. Sarah says, “I just wanted to thank you for the two sweet collars (so beautifully wrapped and presented) and to send you a picture of little Conchi wearing the pink one. Also, to tell you the story of how she ended up wearing one …”

Sarah went on to write about Conchita’s amazing story and journey. “For a few years I have been supporting a small group of friends in Seville, Spain, who do an incredible job, with very limited funds, of rescuing, neutering, rehoming and providing veterinary treatment for many of the abandoned and homeless dogs and cats found on the streets of the city where there is a huge problem.

A few weeks ago, a little tortie cat was found, fighting for existence on the streets, with a litter of four kittens.  She was only about a year old, and this was her second litter – all the kittens from both litters had apparently been poisoned, as had she, but she survived. Her main problem, apart from lack of food and a mammary infection, was that she was tame and trusting, so had presumably once been owned by someone who then threw her out.  Generally the girls get the adult feral cats neutered, and if they can’t be rehomed, they return them to their colonies, where they survive quite well, as they’re used to living wild.

It was clear that this little one would not survive for long if she was returned to the streets, and once she’d been neutered and successfully treated for her infection, a huge appeal was circulated to try to find a home for her, with no success.  For some reason, tortoiseshell cats are not popular in Spain, and after many weeks of trying, it became clear that nobody wanted her.  My friend, who had been caring for her at her home, lives in a small flat, where she is already looking after two rescued dogs and two other cats.  She simply didn’t have the space or capacity for any more, and it was looking increasingly likely that the only option was to try to introduce her into an existing colony of feral cats, where her prospects for survival were slim. So, what was I supposed to do?  Four acres of land, a mile from the nearest road?

So, Conchita has now come to live with us, after all the necessary blood tests, rabies jabs, inoculations, microchipping, passport and travel arrangements had been completed – and I flew to Malaga on the 28th July, and brought her home the next day.

And yes, I know there are countless cats in the UK needing adoption, and have helped with that process many times over, as well as taking on a few personally.  This is a one-off, totally impractical act of heart-ruling-head, but I’m happy to be able to offer this one a chance of a nice life.”

Sarah sent us photos of Conchita: before she was rescued with her litter of kittens,  after she arrived in the UK and her cheeky nature started to emerge, and finally wearing her daisy collar which suits her beautifully! Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks to Sarah for sending Conchita’s story and thank goodness Sarah brought her home to give her a loving, forever home. You can donate to the charity that helped Conchita and many more street cats in Spain. Their Facebook page is here and you can donate via PayPal to email address: iah.amores.perros@gmail.com.