What do you do if a cat tries to bite?

Cats can nip and cats can bite.

A nip is no big deal. It’s superficial, like a scratch.

A puncture wound is a big deal, especially a puncture wound in the hand. Our body’s little helpers can’t get into the deep, protected areas of the hand. They can’t fight the infection.

There’s no shame in wearing protective gear if a cat may bite.

In fact, there’s shame in not wearing protective gear.

It’s stupid to wind up on an IV drip in the hospital for 3 days just because wearing bite gloves looks uncool or feels bulky.

When you go to a construction site, you wear a hard hat.

When you groom a biter, you wear bite gloves.

Lions fight
I am a beast!


Grooming cats to cut down on hairballs

Vomiting up hairballs once in a long while is okay.  Vomiting them up once a week, or even once a month, is too much. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy throwing up.  My guess is that your cat doesn’t either. If your cat lived outdoors, shed fur would be pulled off or blown off by wind, branches, sand, rain and so on. Living inside, your cat winds up eating much more fur than is healthy or comfortable.

Cat grooming really isn’t about show cats and superficial good looks. It’s about health and comfort. If the cat looks more beautiful afterwards, that’s a bonus, but it’s not important, unless you think looks are the most important thing in life.  I know you don’t think that:)

cat_hairball cartoon

Is dry shampoo for cats a scam?

If that’s the only way you’re going to be able to shampoo your cat, it’s better than nothing.


Dry shampoo absorbs oil into a substance that can be brushed or blow-dried out. Cats produce oil.  There will always be oil on their skin. The oil makes fur look dirty.

“Only hydrophobic soils, like natural oils and oil-based styling products, are absorbed by the dry shampoo. Dry shampoo will not remove actual dirt, skin flakes, and other chemicals that can make hair look and feel greasy . . . “

Note: hydrophobic means not dissolvable or wettable by or in water.

Wet shampoo removes dirt, dust AND oil. Chemicals in shampoo bind to the oil AND the dirt. Everything is washed away during rinsing, leaving fur cleaner and less oily.

Some formulators add ingredients to shampoo to soften the fur or make it shinier.

So no, dry shampoo is not a scam. It’s nowhere near as effective as wet shampoo, but it is better than nothing.




Picking up wiggly cats

I got an email asking for a visit to trim the claws of a BIG cat.  Creamy soft fur.  Athletic. In the prime of his life. Friendly.

Put him on the counter. Trimmed a claw.  He rabbit-kicked me, leapt off the counter, and off he went, ha ha. The joke was on me.

Followed him to the hallway.  Wrapped him in my towel, held him on my lap, and snip, snip, claws trimmed. He didn’t mind after all.  Settled into it like a champ.

One of his owners asked, “How did you do that?!”

Just another day in the life . . . .:)

Allergic to cat? Solutions. Part 1


Dander and dandruff.  Let’s not get hung up on the difference.  They’re the same according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, while other sources define dander as specifically the “almost invisible skin cells that flake off.”

“Dander is made up of tiny bits of dried skin that flake off your cat’s body and become airborne. This may sound like dandruff, but it’s actually much, much smaller and invisible to the human eye.”

“These bits of skin contain a protein called FelD1 that is responsible for the allergic reaction. FelD1 is found in a cat’s urine, sebaceous glands, and saliva. When a cat licks their body, the protein attaches itself and dries, and when the dander flakes off, the allergen becomes airborne.”

So a protein called FelD1 (Felis domesticus allergen I) is the problem for people who are allergic to cats. Some cats have less of this protein, but that’s a whole other topic.

What can you do? Avoid or minimize contact with FelD1.

  1. Don’t let your cat on the bed.
  2. Don’t rub your face and hands against your cat’s body, unless you’re going to wash afterwards.
  3. Keep a clean house.
  4. Don’t keep the litter box in an area where you spend a lot of time. Don’t use a dusty litter. Keep the litter box scooped.
  5. Bare floors are better than carpeting. Don’t choose upholstered furniture.
  6. *Vacuuming, air filtration systems. Not convinced either helps much. Some vacuums blow allergens into the air.  The problem with vac & air fit. is that the equipment needs to be maintained. If not maintained, can become a reservoir of allergens.
  7. Bathing and brushing at least once a week.  If you can’t bathe your cat, wipe your cat down with a hypo-allergenic pet wipe or a wet washcloth as often as you can.  You have to do it at least once a week. For real. See below for study.

“Cats carry large quantities of Fel d 1, only a small proportion of which (approximately 0.002%/hr) becomes airborne. Washing cats by immersion will remove significant allergen from the cat and can reduce the quantity of Fel d 1 becoming airborne. However, the decrease is not maintained at 1 week.”  (From J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1997 Sep;100(3):307-12.  Evaluation of different techniques for washing cats: quantitation of allergen removed from the cat and the effect on airborne Fel d 1.)

My opinion is that shampooing is going to be more effective at decreasing dander than just soaking a cat in water. Why? Shampooing makes cats less oily. Allergens stick to oil.  How do I come to that conclusion? Everything sticks to oil. I don’t need a study to prove this:)

I’m better at shampooing than most owners, so what makes sense is to schedule a bath once a month or as often as you can, while wiping the cat down as often as you can.








More on how to hold a cat . . .

“How to hold a cat who is wiggly” is a hot topic among readers of my blog.  People come to this site in search of answers.

The image below will help you to understand the logic behind safe and comfortable cat restraint. I often review this book. Since I spend my work hours handling cats, knowing their anatomy definitely helps.

First, notice that cats walk on their fingers and toes, both of which are called phalanges.

Walking on their toes gives cats grace and lightness.

Second, notice that cats crouch when they walk.  The front legs (humerus, radius and ulna) are in a wide V shape, as are the rear legs (femur, tibia and fibula).

The crouching walk is part of what enables cats to perform an explosive jump, propelling them from the floor to the top of a cabinet.  They are perpetually in a pre-jump position.  There is power in those bent legs, particularly the rear legs.  Cats use rabbit-kicks to pummel opponents during battles and play time.

If you look at photos of runners at a starting line, you will notice that they are in a similar position to the cat below.  They are poised for explosive movement forward or upward.

Which explains this.

Keep feline anatomy in mind so that you won’t be surprised if your cat suddenly leaps up and out of your arms.  If they are positioned to be able to successfully kick at you, you’ve probably already lost your chance to restrain them.


Cat Doesn’t Like It When You Scruff Her?

I know that holding on to a wiggling cat seems like it shouldn’t be that hard. All you do is grab their scruff, right?

Not so fast there, little buddy.

Cats use their ENTIRE body. Not only that, they easily move three-dimensionally.

Humans use our hands mostly, and occasionally our feet.  We usually move forward, backwards and sideways. We usually don’t spin and flip, unless our name is Jackie Chan. So we don’t really understand cats, because they truly live in another dimension.

Holding on to the scruff stabilizes one small portion of the cat’s body.  The rest of the body is free to flip, flop and spin, with claws out! That gets messy.

Try this.

Quietly and quickly pick up your cat. Don’t talk or hesitate. Just pick up your cat, one hand under the belly, one hand on the scruff.

Hold your cat close against your body at your waist height.

Don’t squeeze the scruff or twist it. You’re holding, not punishing.

So many people hold their cat at arm’s length.  Understandably, the cat doesn’t like being suspended in the air with nothing to hold on to.  Close is better.

Good luck.

If you can’t do it, don’t feel bad. Just call a groomer.








How often should I groom my cat?

How often do you comb your hair? Once a year? Once a month?

You comb it every day.

You comb your hair every day to maintain it.

You wouldn’t accept even one mat in your hair.

You like the feel and look of combed hair.

You enjoy feeling clean.

So does everyone you meet.

If your cat has long fur, why assume that she never needs to be combed?

“Cats groom themselves.” “Even the vet says that.”

We used to believe that the earth was flat.

Someone tested that belief.  The rest is history.

Don’t believe what you’re told, even if you’re told by an “expert.”

Experts usually have big gaps in their knowledge.  No one is an expert about everything.

Put it back


Cat fur feels stiff or dry

When cat fur gets coated with cat skin oil, the fur can feel stiff or gluey.  All that’s happening is grease + fur = stiffness.  To fix the situation, you can use ball-tip scissors and carefully, CAREFULLLLLLY, trim off the oiled-up fur. The skin underneath will still be oily, so you can use a wet wipe made for cats/dogs. That will help a little.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can use a diluted degreaser like Dawn or Palmolive — unscented original versions, diluted heavily — to wash the greasy skin and fur.  Be SURE to rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse some more because you don’t want your cat to lick that soap.

A common place to find stiff, oiled-up fur is between the shoulder blades.  I can’t believe how gluey and sticky this area can be.  Very hard to degrease without washing a few times.

If fur is dry, that’s different. Could be that the fur was washed with a degreasing shampoo too many times in too short a time. More likely it’s not related to grooming but to some other situation.  I’m not a vet, so I don’t know what would cause dry fur.  I’ve never seen dried-out fur on a cat. I’ve seen oily fur many times.

Red is my color.



Winter Allergy Cats Uh Oh. sneezes, red eyes, meow!

Sitting inside watching the snow — yes, it’s pretty! — while breathing in dander, dandruff and cat fluff?  Windows closed. Heat pouring out of vents. Dry skin and dry nose. Perfect time for major allergy flare-ups.

Grooming decreases shed fur, cleans off dandruff, and washes away dander (temporarily).  If I had cat allergies, I’d be on meds and would have my cat groomed at least every 3 months.  If you can’t schedule a cat grooming, try wiping your cat with fragrance-free cat wipes. Do that once a day.