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Feline Friday: Ask Amy–Why Does My Cat Spray?

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"Mine don't stink--it smells GOO-OOOOD!"

Why does my cat spray? For the same reason that dogs leg-cock and “baptize” objects. Cats use urine to mark territory. But it goes beyond that.

To the cat, his own urine smells like him/her. Think of it as kitty cologne and spritzing that familiar scent all around makes the cat feel happy and comforted the same way you entering Grandma’s house and smelling cookies baking “reminds” you of familiar safe things. So that means when your cat feels stressed, a way to calm upset kitty feelings is to turn on the (ahem) water works.

I’ve also known cats that spray over top of smells that either frighten them or that they associate with with something or someone they love. The cat who sprays the new boyfriend’s shoes, for instance, might be trying to make him smell “safe” while spraying your pillow could simply mean “I own this space because it smells like my beloved so other cats STAY AWAY!”

Whatever the meaning or the cause, spraying can lose cats their homes or lives. People rarely consider spraying to be the back-handed compliment it is. Hit or miss potty behaviors are the top behavior complaint I receive and the number one cause of cats ending up in shelters. When I was a contributing writer for my colleague Franny Syufy’s outstanding site I wrote a whole series of articles on the subject so you can learn more here. Often the spraying arises due to conflicts between multiple cats sorting out their social standing, and my book PETiQuette offers specific help for multiple cat homes.

The Ask Amy video offers several suggestions for helping with this issue. My colleague Marilyn Krieger specializes in Bengal kitties and can be contacted for specific advice regarding this glorious breed. What are some other suggestions that have worked for you with your cats?

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: 6-Packs, Faithful Friends & Honoring Heroes

Monday Mentions is the mash-up-day of all the neato-torpedo links and blogs and writer-icity crappiocca collected over the past week. Since last week was a holiday, today covers two weeks’ worth.

Please don’t be shy about sending me your own links or suggestions for others to highlight. Today’s blog is a major shout-out and SNOOPY-DANCE-’O-JOY! to a whole passel of pet-savvy writers and animal advocates doing the work of the angels–and to a few angels as well.
Last year Found Animals held a city-wide casting call for cat-loving men to be featured in a calendar. 6 Packs/9 Lives is the result, an effort to increase cat adoptions and awareness. Found Animals will be donating thousands of copies to local shelters, rescue groups and other cat-oriented organizations, which in turn will be sold as a fundraising tool for those respective organizations. The calendar is now available on Amazon; a generous portion of all sales will go towards Found Animals’ ongoing cat initiatives

Check out this cool title from Purdue University Libraries by Dr. Phil Zeltzman and Dr. Rebecca Johnson. You can slim down and your dog will love you for it at the same time! Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound, written by an expert veterinary surgeon and leading nurse researcher, helps you move from a food-centered relationship with dogs to an exercise-centered relationship. This volume is designed for dog lovers, dog owners, and families. Based on the latest scientific findings, it will also help professionals (including physicians, veterinarians, and physical therapists) fight obesity and promote fitness in both people and pets.

5 week old rat

He's just a baby rat...5 weeks old. Ain't he cute?

Parasite Purrsuades Rats to Become Cat Food and boy, I can see some neat plot twists using this little nugget!

Another Anti-Pit Bull Legislation Dust Up, covered by excellent blogger and veterinarian RayyaTheVet.

Jimmy Chew’s Blog, A Meowmoir, features a most photogenic cat who blogs about his life and passions (including catnip cupcakes and other kitties)–a delightful feline fix!

Kitty Advice Extraordinaire! from my colleague Marilyn Krieger over at She was most generous and even recommended my book Complete Kitten Care in this particular post.

You’ve slipped on the headphones. You’re facing the microphone, and the talk radio show host has just introduced you. You’re live. On the air. The next few seconds will determine whether thousands of listeners will think you’re smart and articulate — or boring and amateur. The talk show host will decide then and there whether they’ll ever invite you back. What will you do? My colleague David Congalton has help for you with his new book, The Talk Radio Guest Book.

Random House Moves to All-Digital Catalogs In 2012beginning with the summer 2012 children’s lists (for which the selling season begins in early January) and the fall 2012 adult lists. The site will feature searchable, sortable information for the trade on forthcoming titles, and the divisional consumer sites will integrate and display new title data as well. PDF downloads will be available as well.BookEnds, LLC–A Literary Agency, offers their new strategy for Ebook publishing.  Wow, do you think they’re crossing the line?My blogging buddy Gene Lempp has a totally awesome zoo-licious post here that should inspire writers with his weekly series Designing From Bones.

BACKSPACE WRITERS DEADLINE EXTENDED! Because many people’s plans were disrupted due to power outages and storm damage from Hurricane Irene (including the conference’s registrar), Backspace has EXTENDED the early registration discount through September 15. Save $120! Backspace Agent-Author Seminar – November 3 & 4, 2011 – New York City. Two days of panel discussions and small-group workshops with more than 25 literary agents on the program! Attendance limited to 100 authors.

My colleague, pet writer and canine/feline ethologist Susan Bulanda has released a new book. She writes, “When I read Diary of Anne Frank, I was impressed that the families risked their lives to hide their cat with them. According to the account, the families had to remain completely quiet during the day so that the workers below would not hear them. This means that they had to keep their cat quiet as well. It made me think that there had to be other stories and I spent a number of years searching and collecting these stories. This is a one-of-a-kind book that tells about an aspect of the Holocaust that has not been told before. It is a beautiful account of the human-animal bond.”

Susan is also the author of Ready! The Training of the Search and Rescue Dog, which seems incredibly appropriate for a Monday Mentions blog the day after 9-11 remembrances.

As we honor the human victims and heroes of 9-11, let’s not forget the animal companion victims–and the heroes–who offered a healing presence with purrs, wags and unwavering love in the hours, days, months and even years following the tragedy.

Many working canines were injured or became ill as a result of their service during the rescue and recovery efforts. The AKC community purchased and transported a portable x-ray machine and medical equipment to lower Manhattan two days after the call for help. AKC supporters covered 100% of the veterinarian bills for those dogs injured working the pile searching for survivors. This video from the American Kennel Club honors that effort.

Bless be those who protect the innocent.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!

Monday Mentions: Planet Dog and Dogged Journalist

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 Mickey, 10 yr old rescue, Brian Lowney

I have the best job in the world. I not only get to write about pets, but also interview terrific pet people, and read their work. This past week I had the distinct honor to review two fantastic new books by my colleagues, both about cat behavior and helping owners better understand their furry wonders. I also got to interview the Executive Director of “Planet Dog Foundation.” And I just read a terrific feature by a dogged journalist (also a friend and colleague). Today’s blog has something for everyone, the best of what the pet writing world has to offer.

My Pet Peeves radio show this week features Kristen Smith, Brand Ambassador for Planet Dog and the Executive Director of Planet Dog Foundation. She describes some of the terrific pet-dreams their organization has helped come true! By the way, my Magical-Dawg is a big fan of Planet Dog toys—and each time you purchase a toy, you make a donation to a worthy doggy cause! Learn how Planet Dog Foundation is “playing” it forward. 

Marilyn Krieger’s terrific new book challenges the assumption that cats can’t be trained. She describes the most common cat behavior complaints, why cats indulge in “naughty” behavior, and explains how training can resolve these issues using positive training methods including clicker training. Visit Marilyn’s “The Cat Coach” website and read the review of this outstanding book, Naughty No More.

Finally, my friend Brian Lowney is a talented pet journalist who has been writing about pets for more than a decade. He is a past president of the Wampanoag Kennel Club, an active dog show judge and shares his home with two shelter-adopted cats. All of Brian’s columns are available online at He writes,

“I have had pets all of my life and each one was loving and unique. These animals have inspired me as a writer and journalist, and have led me on a a fascinating journey filled with fun, excitement and wonderful people. Pictured here is Mickey, my 10 year-old rescue cat.”

Here’s Brian’s latest article, on diabetic alert dogs—oh, and in a former life I had the pleasure of teaching Katie Jane mentioned in the article. Small world!

“For diabetics, an alert service dog could truly be their best friend. Katie Jane Brashier, 15, is a typical high school sophomore who’s involved in many activities at school and in the community. Four years ago, she was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. A diabetic alert dog named Shots warns the active teen when her blood glucose level is too high or low. Read the rest of the article here.

If your furry muse inspires your writing, please drop me a line–love to give you a shout out!

Purrs & Wags


To stay up to date on all the latest cat-egorical or dog-matic content, subscribe to this blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!