Skip to content

Our Cats Rely on Our Emotional Cues, Report Claims

February 15, 2015

The next time your cats face a new situation, take a minute to evaluate your own reaction — it may help them deal with the situation too — or so claims a new study.

IMG_2698Researchers wanted to find out if cats use the emotional information provided by their owners about a new or unfamiliar object to guide their own behavior toward it. To test this theory, the researchers found 24 owners and their cats, and then allowed each cat to explore an unfamiliar room (that had a fan in it) with their owner. Some owners were asked to regard the fans with fear — to back away and use fearful expressions and tones, while the other half of owners were asked to use happy expressions and tones.

Nearly 80 percent of the cats looked between their owner and the fan before the experiment began, which proved that cats (like dogs in a similar experiment) rely on us when faced with unfamiliarity. Cats in the negative group were far more likely to look toward their way out of the room and started to move toward it earlier than the cats in the positive group.

While the researchers say more research needs to be done, it does provide us a good reminder that our cats rely on us more than we may think.

And, the other night, Matt and I decided to give this a try.

We were using a new kitchen gadget that buzzed when its timer was up. Neither of us knew that this would happen, but the moment it started buzzing, the cats became upset. Immediately, Matt knelt down to their level and used a happy tone of voice — I followed suit. CG, although a little frightened, remained in the room. Ellie ran to the living room, but after a little coaxing, was back in the kitchen doing fine.

While some things will likely always freak out the cats (like our overzealous smoke detectors), this is a great reminder that we play a role in our cats’ safety. In addition to reminding them that they’re safe and secure, reacting appropriately may also cut back on CH-related injuries while trying to escape a fearful situation. I can’t tell you how many times a frightening situation has lead to them leaping off furniture (and landing awkwardly) or running away (and into a wall) or trying to race upstairs (and losing their grasp and falling). But maybe, just maybe, minding our reactions will help cut back on some of these in the future.

What do you think? Do you think your cats look to you for emotional cues? Please share in the comments!

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

January 31, 2015

So I hope to get back into blogging – but here’s a minor setback: You know it’s a problem when none of your browsers auto fill the name of your website when you start typing.

To be honest, I feel a little of the same — disconnected. As I mentioned earlier, living with two CH cats is …normal for me. At first, when we adopted our cats, it was easy to come up with post topics. Everything was new. I had so many questions and wanted answers. Every day we would face challenges and find ways to overcome them. Or deal with them. Or, sometimes, cry through them.

Over time, those challenges have lessened – or at least have become normal, which is OK in my book, too. (We all do crazy things for love.) And I think that’s a good thing. I hope it’ll encourage those new CH cat parents who aren’t sure if they can do this (you can).

Here’s a little of what I mean:
– We still have litter box accidents now and then. Someone will miss or fall and a mess will ensue. But that’s OK. Stuff is just stuff, and when I come running with a towel, the kitties know it’s so I can help them. (It also helps to keep a roll of TP near the litter box.)

– I carry (read: coddle) Ellie often. She can totally handle the stairs, but more often than not, we give her a lift because sometimes, just sometimes, she does tumble down them, and while she’s OK, the overprotective mom in me wants to keep her safe.

– And when she does manage the stairs on her own, we have precautions (mat at the bottom, gate at the top) which make things a little safer.

To be honest, I’m blessed enough to say I struggled coming up with that list. We still have challenges (chipped teeth, pulled nails, banged heads), but we’re more equipped (emotionally, in terms of safety precautions, rationally) so they’re not as huge deals as they once were. I don’t want to come off as insensitive; I’m still ridiculously in tune with them and love them to the moon and back, it’s just that everything has become more familiar over time.

It’s a good place to be in. Really good. It may sound odd to some, but we’ve grown as a little family. Things may not be “normal,” but they’re somewhat normal to us.

So take heart, those who are starting down this road. It may never be easy, but things do change. And while I may not be writing about personal questions or struggles I have, I encourage you all to share, ask and discuss. I like to think of this site as a little community/resource, so please use it as one — as a way to help and encourage one another and get help and be encouraged, too.

Blast From the Past: Hi From Amanda at Life with CH Cats

January 24, 2015

Hi all – Long time no post.

A dear friend reached out the other day, mentioning the lack of posts lately. I really appreciated it. It’s something I truly think about every day – including remembering all of you – however, due to all sorts of things, this blog has taken a back seat for a while. When the new year came and went, I toyed with the idea of resolving to post more often here. We’ll see how that pans out; perhaps this is a start.

Anyway, I just wanted to write a quick post to say, yes, I’m still here and think about all of you often. It’s impossible not to. Even though I may not be posting regularly, every moment of my life is filled with my being a cat mom to two wonderful CH kitties. It’s just a part of who I am – who we are – and perhaps the things that make us different (living with special needs cats) have become so second nature to me that I don’t think about them much any more.

But I want that to change. I know we all have stories and experiences to share – and I think even when these things become second nature, that can be encouraging to new CH cat parents, too. Geez, I hope this all makes sense.

I’ll try to craft another update soon – hopefully that will be a bit clearer. In the meantime, I hope you’re all doing very well.



Remembering Shakey Puddin’ Pie and Her Endless Impact

September 3, 2014

People say cats have nine lives. For some that’s certainly true, but it’s really just a saying, and those nine lives are always wrapped up in one lifetime. But sometimes one life can have the impact of nine lives — if not more.

That’s why I wanted to post today. There’s a special cat you need to know about. Her name was Shakey Puddin’ Pie, and I’m so sorry to share that today she passed over Rainbow Bridge.

ShakeyShakey was one of the most popular and important CH cats I’ll ever have known. She was the heart — the reason — behind all of the love and effort CH cat adoption expert Deb Martin put into her work. Deb did it for love. Deb did it because of her love for Shakey.

As I was thinking about this post, I knew I wanted it to be a celebration of Shakey’s life. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn’t a celebration of just her life, but how Shakey opened the door for hundreds — if not thousands of lives (CH cats and other special needs creatures) — that otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance. Shakey and Deb saved lives. Shakey and Deb helped pets find forever homes. Shakey and Deb changed lives. How do I know this? Because it happened to me.

Deb changed my life. First by being a great friend (even though we’ve never met) — and second by helping me adopt my little girl, one of the greatest joys in the world. And it’s all thanks to Deb. Thanks to Shakey.

And as I learned of this solemn news today, I couldn’t help but imagine what it would be like to lose my little one. My heart simply breaks at the thought of what Deb and her family must be going through. And even though this time may be incredibly tough to live through, and even though sweet Shakey’s life has come to an end, here’s what I really wanted to share:

Deb, Shakey’s impact will never die. Every day I see your love for Shakey — the reason that brought me and Ellie together — in my Ellie. Every day people all over the nation, heck, the world, will think of what you’ve done for them and thank you for it. You have changed our lives for the better, and we will always remember that. We’ll always remember Shakey.

Lots of love to you and your family.

Consider Helping CH Cats via This Fundraising Opportunity

August 8, 2014

Hi all –

I wanted to share with you a fundraising opportunity my good friend Deb sent my way. As you may know, every so often, there’s a CH kitty who’s in need. Deb, with her infinite compassion, is always willing to help, but sometimes she needs our help, too.

Today, I’m sharing about CH cat Bailey, who’s very ill. Recent tests showed that Bailey has feline leukemia, and his pet parents could use some help with the bills. While the fundraiser below typically goes to helping the CH kitties listed farther down this page, Deb has kindly offered to help provide some assistance to Bailey’s family for the time being.

If you’re interested in helping, or just want a cool CH cat shirt, click here! There’s no pressure, I just wanted to share this opportunity with you to help get the word out. Thanks!

Better Safe Than Sorry with Annual Visits

July 28, 2014

I don’t know about you, but I feel like it can be impossible to schedule doctors visits. I have one that’s been rescheduled multiple times, and I have a feeling it may get rescheduled again, too!


CG and Ellie on their way to the vet.

But when it comes to my kitties, I try to make sure their visits are regular. We go once a year — unless there’s an emergency or another significant issue — just to make sure things are OK.

This past weekend we took them in. I say they, because we actually took in both at once, and it worked out nicely. We went in with a game plan — an acronym to remember what we needed to discuss with the vet, and came up with PFEET. I know, not the best, but it was memorable. It was an acronym for: prescription food, Ellie’s eyes and teeth.

During our visit, we got the prescription renewed, the doctor gave us some tips for Ellie (one of her eyes gets runny every so often), and the vet checked their teeth. CG’s molars aren’t so great — this was news to me since I really only check his front teeth regularly. Ellie’s continues to chip away, but other than that, the doctor said she had beautiful teeth (?!).

The doctor continued their check-ups, and when it came to listening to Ellie’s heart, she paused. After listening a bit more, she told us she heard a heart murmur at first, but not again.

We chatted a bit about what that means and decided we’d bring her back in a month so the doctor could listen again.

Overall, the kitties behaved well and were in great shape. I have no idea how this murmur thing may pan out, but I’m not worried. If it’s something, I’ll be glad we caught it. If we don’t hear it again, we can move on — while of course remembering this just in case in the future.

I’m just so glad we keep up with their appointments. It can be expensive, but it really is a great form of preventative care; a way of staying on top of current and potential issues. It was the best money I spent that week — if not month.

Meet Twitch

June 16, 2014

One thing I never tire hearing about are the stories of how a CH cat has changed someone’s life. I know exactly how you all feel — adopting our two CH cats changed my life in inconceivable ways.

That’s why I love the story Kelly sent in about her and her 4-year-old moderately severe CH girl, Twitch. Just loving her has not only made Kelly more patient, but has provided opportunities for Kelly to show Twitch love by finding ways to make Twitch’s day-to-day safer, easier and more fulfilling. Learn more about them here:

Does she have certain limitations? 

She can’t go up or down stairs, so she has to stay on one main level of the house, which is the top floor where my room is. She also gets muscle spasms from time to time (they seem to happen when she gets really excited). Her body will just tense/freeze, and you just have to hold her so that she doesn’t end up jumping all over the place.

Twitch1How does she manage the litter box? Eating and drinking? Do you do anything special to help? 

We cut out the very front of her litter box. We discovered when she was a kitten that she had trouble stepping into the litter box, so we cut it so that it looks like a kitty ramp. I also put puppy pads (the kind that you’d use to house train a dog) underneath and around the litter box area. Sometimes if she can’t make it to the litter box, or has difficulty staying up, she will use the pads to go to the bathroom.

What’s one funny story about her (related to CH)? Or share a story about how she figured out how to do something CH cats “can’t” do.

She is a climber and very, very proud of it. She will climb up on my bed with her claws, and sometimes if you learn forward to pick her up to help her, she gets really determined and tries to do it herself before you’re able to. She’s very strong!

Has she ever hurt herself because of her CH? 

Not that I can think of. I try to cushion the area around where she plays. She did hit her head once against my door, so I try to leave my door open now when she’s in there so she doesn’t hurt herself.  Read more…

Dealing with the Transition from Kitten to Adult

June 12, 2014
tags: ,

Ellie turned 3-years-old on June 2.

I love celebrating our cats’ birthdays. In fact, I love finding any reason to celebrate them. They bring so much joy to our lives, that it’s only natural I’d want them to know how much I adore them.

Ellie with Natural Pet Company ToyBut for some reason, this birthday was harder to take than most. For some reason, in my mind, the 3-year-old mark is the transition between kitten and adult. Yes, she may be a young adult, but I now feel odd calling her a kitten — at least when it comes to her age.

Perhaps that’s because for me, Ellie is a permakitten. Not only in size (she’s not tiny, but certainly petite) and ability (compared to CG she’s less capable), but also in personality. Ellie loves with her whole body, from the tip of her tail — which curves over the back of her body when she feels particularly happy — to the tip of her nose, which always reaches up to tap my lips whenever I make kissy noises at her.

Ellie has the personality of a kitten who has never faced hardship in her life. I think perhaps her “darkest” day was when she got a “new” family back in 2011. (Backstory: When Matt and I went on our honeymoon in 2011, Ellie and CG stayed at my mom’s place. When we brought her back to our apartment, we were convinced Ellie’s goldfish-like memory couldn’t remember that she used to live with us, since she once got lost on her way to the food bowl! Consequently, we joke that we became her new family that day!)

She’s truly lived a life full of love, laughter, snuggles — and had a mom who’s always there to help her down the stairs, pick her up (with a kiss) after a tumble or carry her up to bed. She’s my little girl and I love her.

And I think that’s why I’m having a bit of a hard time accepting that she’s getting older. Ellie’s such a kitten, in so many ways, that I can’t imagine her as an older cat.  Read more…

Meet Willow

June 8, 2014

Do you want to know something I’m thankful for today? I never cease to be amazed and thankful for all of you.

A few months ago, Lori wrote in and shared that ever since she adopted her CH cat Willow a few years ago, she’s been reading the blog and has picked up a number of great tips. Consequently, she felt it was time to share Willow’s story. Here we go!

Willow1“I have two other cats, one of which is special needs with a missing foot. I was looking for another special needs kitten when I ran across an entry in for three sibling kittens that were being fostered in Chehalis, Wash., about an hour and a half drive south of Seattle.

I emailed the foster mom and got more information about the kittens. She mentioned that they had cerebellar hypoplasia and had motor skills challenges. Not knowing anything about CH, I got online and read everything I could find about it. I decided that it was a handicap that I could manage, so I make an appointment to meet the foster mom and the three kittens.

It was very hard to choose only one, but there was a definite connection between us, so I chose Willow, a female dilute Siamese, and took her home. It didn’t take me very long to wonder what I had gotten myself into. She was 12-weeks-old at the time, but she was very small for her age at 2.5 lbs. I was mostly concerned about her lack of strength, and that she might get hurt while I was at work or away from home.

That same day I went to Babies-R-Us and purchased a “play pen” so she could be contained, but have enough room to move around. It also gave my other two cats the opportunity to get to know her better, but have some separation so they didn’t feel imposed upon. Read more…

Meet Leia

May 18, 2014

It was love at first sight for Kayleigh and Leia — or perhaps it would be more appropriate to say love at first peck. 

Leia1Kayleigh visited Petco one afternoon in between her shifts at work. It just so happened to be an adoption day, and Kayleigh hoped to find a cat who could accompany her to her new apartment — even though that was a month off.

She approached one cage that contained three cats and stuck a finger in the cage to try to pet them.

“That’s when a petite torti started to lick my finger, well, tried to anyways. I was confused at first because she was almost pecking at my finger. I knew I wanted her,” Kayleigh said. 

She spoke to a woman from the shelter, who told her the kitten was a special needs cat with balance issues. That didn’t bother Kayleigh at all, and in a few weeks once Kayleigh had moved into her new home, the kitten, Leia, came too. 

“She was purring non-stop, and I knew I found my purrfect cat!”

Leia, who was about a year and a half old in March, has moderate CH. Kayleigh says being surrounded by another cat without her condition motivates her to work on her walking and climbing.

When it comes to the litter box, Leia is perfectly capable. She can use one with a hood and has a second without one — but if she uses it, she may make a big mess if she loses her balance and falls, which can lead to litter being flung everywhere.

When she eats, she uses her paw as a scoop to fling food onto the floor where she can peck at it. Drinking is no different than other cat, she’s just a little loud! To help her, Kayleigh bought elevated bowls. Kayleigh also owns a platform bed so Leia doesn’t fall far when she accidentally rolls off. 

Recently, Leia conquered her fear of falling down stairs by surprising Kayleigh in the basement one day! It went so smoothly, Kayleigh didn’t even hear her wobble her way down! Read more…

%d bloggers like this: