What Purring Means

Purring is not a part of every cat's repertoire of social communication, but it is one of the most common. Not a great deal is known about the mechanics of purring, but purring is generally associated with contentment and happiness in cats.

Interestingly, though, purring is sometimes heard in cats that are severely ill or anxious, perhaps as a self-comforting vocalization.

Vocal cats use vowel sounds to indicate their desires. The subtle differences in sound communicate commands as well as requests and complaints.

In the wild, vowel sounds are restricted to kittens, but the process of domestication has extended this method of communication well into adulthood.

Adult cats also create high-intensity sounds by changing the shape of their mouth. Hisses and grumbling are the most common examples, used primarily between cats as a means of communicating aggressive or defensive intentions. Cats in heat and feral strays also use this form of communication.

How Cats Interact With Us

Cats were domesticated more than 5,000 years ago, when the ancient Egyptians realized cats were deserving of their homes and their devotion. The domesticated cat has come a long way since those days along the Nile, but the responsibility we have to care for and love our cats hasn't diminished.

There's no question that cats love and need us, but often this must be on their own terms. It's important to give your cat the space she needs to be herself. With a new cat, let her get used to your home on her own before you introduce her to the rest of your family. Respect the time it takes a cat to become familiar and feel safe with you. By earning her trust this way, your cat will form a closer bond with you.

With children, a bond develops faster than you could imagine, but you must to establish boundaries for both your children and the cat that limits their time together. Too much time with the kids could suffocate your cat's need to be alone, causing your cat to separate herself from your family as much as possible.

As irresistibly cute as cats are, one cannot help but want to hold them. If you aren't careful, though, you could hurt your cat and cause her to be afraid of you. Your cat will come to you when she wants to snuggle. Let her pick the time.

Five Ways To Make Your Shelter Cat Feel at Home

Adopting a cat from a shelter can be one of the most fun and rewarding adventures. And while you’re probably feeling joyful and excited, it’s important to keep in mind that your new furry friend may have had some tough life experiences before you found each other. Though you may never know if they were living as a stray on the street, or in a chaotic, or even abusive environment, it’s very important to make the transition into your home as calm and smooth as possible.

Here we have five tips to make sure Felix feels that mi casa es su casa.                      

1. For the most part, car rides aren’t fun for cats, so try to make them quick and calm. When driving your cat home, keep her in a carrying case or crate. The confined space will make her feel safer and less stressed. Don’t play loud music, and ask the kids not to bother their new friend during the ride. It’s not a good idea to let the cat roam around during the trip either. You might think they would enjoy that, but what they really want is to feel safe and secure.

2. Give them time to acclimate. During the first few weeks keep the cat indoors so that she starts to think of your house as his home. You will want her to associate being there with positive feelings, as well as the place where he gets food, water and shelter. This way, if you do decide to allow your cat outside, she’ll know to always come back and not run away.

3. Don’t be surprised if your cat hides from you. If your cat hides for the first few days you bring her home, don’t be offended. It doesn’t mean she’s unhappy with you or your home. Cats can be quite nervous after a move, and they calm those nerves by finding a quiet and contained space. She may hide for several days under a bed or couch, or even in a closet. While this can be hard on owners—especially excited kids who have a new adorable pet!—if she’s safe, don’t remove your new cat from that space. Allow her time to gather her courage and come out on her own. But be sure that while she’s hiding, she has access to water, food and her litter box close by. 

4. Baby Steps. It can take cats one to two weeks to get comfortable in a new home. During that time, the best way to ease the transition is by creating a calm environment, which means keeping away children and other pets. Not only will this help your cat feel safe in your house, the less stressed your cat is when she meets your kids, or her new animal siblings, the better that meeting will likely go. In fact, it’s recommended that you find a quiet, safe room in your house and keep your cat contained there until he’s acting a bit more comfortable.

5. Cats need their sleep. Kind of like a teenager, cats do best when they are given ample alone time and can get lots of sleep. Often, they’ll find several favorite spots to catch a snooze. They like dark, quiet, non-drafty spaces. By providing your new cat with a soft bed, you can sometimes guide her to a particular location, but by nature cats are independent, so don’t be surprised if she ends up sleeping on your couch, or even between some books on a bookshelf. Try not to wake your cat when she’s sleeping, and remind your kids to do the same.

Keep these few simple steps in mind when you bring home your shelter cat, and your family will enjoy their new family member in no time at all!

Writers Who Love Their Cats

Writers from mystery novelist P.D. James to science-fiction icon Ray Bradbury and numerous others have at least one thing in common: They all love cats. Why is it that so many literary types gravitate toward felines? Here are a few possible reasons:

1. Cats inspire us.

Recently I met SARK, aka Susan Ariel Rainbow Kennedy, the best-selling author of A Creative Companion and other books. We were at an NPR radio show taping, and she had just finished telling a story about her now-deceased -- yet never forgotten -- cat, Jupiter.

In 1989, SARK wrote down some inspirational thoughts about “How to Be an Artist.” They included lines like, “Stay loose” and “Invite someone dangerous to tea.” She put them on a scrap of paper and placed it on a wall in her home. Every morning, Jupiter would paw at the list, until one day it fell down. SARK paid attention and created a poster using the list. It sold more than 1,000 copies in a week and led to a lucrative publishing company contract.

2. Cats and authors admire each other.

Canadian novelist and playwright Robertson Davies famously once wrote, “Authors like cats because they are such quiet, loveable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons.”

Publisher Janet Mills named her Amber-Allen Publishing company after one of her beloved cats, Amber, and her good friend Marc Allen. Mills published all of don Miguel Ruiz’s best sellers, books by Deepak Chopra, and has also written popular books, such as The Power of a Woman: Timeless Thoughts on a Woman’s Inner Strengths. “Cats represent the most beautiful qualities. They exude wisdom, calm, grace and pride,” said Mills.

3. Cats give us permission to play and laugh.

Mills joked that her cat Anjali “silently lets me know that the house needs cleaning when she squeezes under furniture and comes out looking like a dust mop. She makes me laugh.”

Such pleasures appear to be timeless. During the Renaissance period, French author Michel de Montaigne used to take breaks to spend time with his cat. He later wrote, “When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her?” When poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott constructed a house in Italy, he made it an exact replica of his original home to avoid upsetting the comforting routine he and his cat shared.

4. Cats help us to confront challenges.

Routines, however, can be upset by unwanted happenings, such as illness. Nancy Carleton, editor of famous works by Dan Millman, Lynn Andrews, John Robbins, Sanaya Roman, Terry Lynn Taylor and many other well-known authors, is also a talented writer who has contributed to Taylor’s Angel books. In recent years, Carleton has been fighting a serious illness, but has gained strength from cats and other pets.

Carleton specifically talked about Luna, a cat that came into the hearts of her and healthmate Susan Hunter one dark and stormy night. She also recalled Sheba, a “beautiful black, long-haired cat” who was with her and Hunter during the last year or two of Sheba’s life. The cat was very elderly when she chose to live in Carleton’s home.

Carleton was present when Sheba had to be euthanized, something she’d experienced before with another cat named Tappy. “It was a very moving experience being with both of them and giving them love and blessings as they left their bodies,” she said. The moments helped her to “never doubt that the spirit goes on after death.”

The author/cat connection therefore runs very deep. Many of your favorite books were probably written and published by individuals who had a cat nearby for inspiration, companionship, comfort and so much more. Don’t discount the cat contribution either. As poet Dilys Laing once wrote, “I put down my book, The Meaning of Zen, and see the cat smiling into her fur as she delicately combs it with her rough pink tongue. ‘Cat, I would lend you this book to study but it appears you have already read it.’ She looks up and gives me her full gaze. ‘Don't be ridiculous,’ she purrs, ‘I wrote it.’”

7 Ways to Pamper Your Cat

If you’re being completely honest, those reindeer antlers you made Oscar wear during the holidays were probably more for your benefit than his. And while there’s no doubt he looked adorable, it might be time to think of some ways to gain back favor with your favorite feline.

Have no fear; we found seven ways to spoil your cat that he’s sure to love.

1.    Keep your cat active by engaging in fun activities every day. Play fetch with small crumpled up pieces of tin foil or paper, or have him chase a toy, a string or a piece of yarn. Remember, even our most docile house pets actually come from a long line of wild cats, and it’s in their DNA to want to hunt, chase and pounce.

2.    While it may make us squirm, giving your cat a piece of raw meat (poultry or beef that has been deboned) will improve his teeth and gum health, and he’ll really enjoy it. Just be sure to always check with your vet before you add to or change your cat’s diet.

3.    Brushing and petting your cat is good for her coat and helps to cut down on hairballs. Additionally, most cats love it. Try petting your cat behind the ear, under the chin and on her back above her tail. She’ll let you know you’re doing a good job by purring and/or nudging you for more.

4.    If you’ve ever found furry friend lounging in your suitcase before a trip, you know that cats love to explore and snuggle in small spaces. Give your kitty hours or play by providing her with an old shoebox, packing box or paper grocery bag.

5.    The flowering herb known as catnip is in the mint family, and it provides seventy percent of cats with a blissed-out 10 to 15 minutes of fun. When presented with catnip or a catnip-filled toy, many cats will purr, drool, roll around and/or meow. Some cats get a little sillier after catnip, while others get very mellow. Once the initial reaction is through, the cat won’t have a similar reaction to catnip again for about an hour or so.

6.    Allow them a safe spot to perch and look out windows. Cats love to observe, and this is never more true than when they get to watch birds and butterflies outside. If there’s a chair or couch in front of your window that you’re worried will get dirty or full of fur, put down an easy-to-wash blanket where the cat can sit and be occupied for hours.

7.    Cats love to scratch, so be sure you have a designated scratching post or surface for them to use. Not only does scratching help them maintain their claws, but it’s also a way that they mark their territory. Cats actually have scent glands in their paws, and by scratching they leave behind their odor for other cats to pick up. Also, it feels good! Scratching gives cats a full-body stretch, which you’ll often see them do after they get up from a nap.