When Cats Amuse Themselves

Experts talk a lot about the need for interactive playtime, which is when you play with your cats using toys. Waving a wand around, or rolling a small ball across the floor, are great ways to play with your cat, and help enrich his life. However, cats amuse themselves, too, and watching cats amuse themselves is, well, amusing. It can also provide a different type of enrichment for your cat.

I have no idea about anybody reading this blog, but I love watching my cats amuse themselves. To me, it’s hilarious. They still get their interactive playtime, but all four of them are capable of finding something with which to amuse themselves. Sometimes, their antics are the best thing for me when I’m feeling low, because they’re so silly about their personal playtime that I can’t help but laugh.

Watch Chase quietly amuse himself with the little foam ball off a microphone boom below:

Cats amuse themselves because they have imagination

It’s amazing the imagination that pets have, and how easily cats amuse themselves. Linda Cole, writing on Canidae, not only swears that her cats spy on her neighbors (I’m pretty sure mine do, too), but she also says that one of her cats would take the end of a new roll of toilet paper and wind it around the house. She always managed to do that without tearing it, but since she’d wind it around the legs of tables and chairs, that must have been so much fun to clean up.

Sometimes I’ll find Kali up on top of the refrigerator when there’s a bug crawling on the kitchen light. She never jumps for it (I think she knows she can’t make it), but she’ll sit there until she’s sure the bug is gone. I’ve seen her sit up there, as straight and alert as possible, for an hour before she was sure the bug was gone.

Cats will always need interactive playtime; it’s never a good idea to assume that they can always amuse themselves. But when you’re lucky enough to see cats amuse themselves, it’s a treat for both you and them.

Cat People May Share Distinct Personality Traits

If you’re a cat person, you probably have some personality traits in common with other cat people. Some new research shows, in fact, that just having a cat can say a lot about a person’s health, character, and even their dating life. So what are some of these personality traits that cat people share? As a cat person, I know that I’ve got some of them myself.

What cat people tend to have in common with each other

Cat people tend to be introverted, meaning they prefer to spend time alone (or with their cats), and that being around other people for too long can be exhausting. This is definitely true of me. I’ll go to parties, and I’ll go out with friends, but none of this happens very often because I prefer my alone time. People are just flat-out exhausting for me, but my cats aren’t.

Some studies have suggested that cat people are, on average, smarter than dog people. We also tend to be more sensitive and less conforming than non-cat people. That last one is sort of me; I don’t like going with the flow, but I will follow the rules to the letter, at least until I learn how to bend them.

Why I prefer my cats to (most) people

One of the biggest reasons I prefer my cats is because, while I joke that cats sit in their ivory towers, casting all sorts of judgment down upon us, the truth is that my cats don’t make me feel judged. They don’t make me feel like I’m a horrible person because I’ve made a mistake the way that people can. They don’t tell me what I should and should not think (there’s another aspect of non-conformity).

Many cat people I know both personally, and online, feel the same way.

All of that can fall under both introversion and non-conformity. As far as cat people being more sensitive, I’m not sure what that means in this context, but I do have strong empathy (for people and for cats). It can get me into trouble with people, because their feelings can “rub off” on me, and alter my own feelings about something.

It’s interesting, but perhaps not surprising, that cat people would share some personality traits, as would dog people and people who prefer other animals. So what personality traits do all you cat people out there have in common?

Brussels Lockdown Spurs Adorable Tourism Video Full of Cats

The Brussels lockdown was a harrowing event for the residents of Belgium’s capital city, as authorities closed everything down while they hunted for terrorists. Brussels residents responded to a request from authorities that they not discuss movements on social media by posting pictures—lots and lots of pictures—of cats. Now, tourism authorities are capitalizing on this to help revitalize their tourism industry.

How the Brussels lockdown may eventually bring tourists back to Brussels

#BrusselsLockdown quickly trended on social media, as people tweeted cat photos and memes that involved old favorites, new silliness, and even some residents’ own cats. What happened on social media during the Brussels lockdown was so sensational that now, three of Belgium’s tourist authorities have released a 20-second video featuring cats, in an effort to showcase Brussels with a bit of humor.

The video, which is below, is only about 20 seconds long. They have cats that are dressed up, and cats that are dressed down, on and around some of Brussels’ most famous landmarks. Not all of the cats came from the #BrusselsLockdown posts, though. Some of them are well known cat memes, like Piano Cat and the skateboarding cat of Australia.

Since the video is supposed to take place during the Brussels lockdown, it shows deserted streets, as everyone was supposed to stay indoors during that time. A saxophone can be heard, and intrepid cats are blatantly flouting the lockdown while enjoying themselves in the empty streets of Brussels.

Brussels has been on high alert for a week now, after reports came out saying that Brussels could possibly be a target for terrorism. Tourism is a major industry for many cities, and things like this will always scare tourists away. Cities have to be innovative to bring them back, and using the Brussels lockdown as the reason for why people should come, instead of stay away, is as innovative as it gets.

Watch the cute, short video below, and check out #BrusselsLockdown on Twitter to see some of the hilarious photos.

#BrusselsLockdown Filled With Cat Pics During Belgian Terrorism Raids

Brussels went under lockdown after a terror alert was issued, and people who were stuck in their homes decided to contact the world by tweeting cat photos. Cats currently rule the Internet, and hundreds of cat photos were tweeted out with the hashtag #BrusselsLockdown. The hilarious thing is that many Twitter users were using the photos to create a cute, fictitious narrative about what was happening in their city.

#BrusselsLockdown evolution

#BrusselsLockdown was originally the hashtag to use if you wanted to discuss what was happening in Belgium. However, the cat pictures took the hashtag over as people started tweeting cat pics after the Belgian federal police requested that people not discuss authorities’ movements.

NBC News speculated that this was, perhaps, the only way for the Internet to respond to a request not to discuss the raids on social media, and it quickly went viral. The cats on #BrusselsLockdown actually had three effects: The first was enforcing the radio silence, the second was quickly burying any tweets that did mention the raids, and the third was lightening the mood in a frightened city.

Besides, when the Internet has a vacuum somewhere—anywhere—its users will fill that vacuum with cats. That’s just a fact. #BrusselsLockdown was no exception. It received over 170,000 uses in 24 hours, with an awful lot of those uses including cats.

#BrusselsLockdown was a fantastic demonstration of how people can band together for a cause in which they may not even be aware they’re engaging. Many no doubt were just having some fun, which proved to be beneficial to the whole situation. As of this morning, Brussels had reopened after a total of four days under lockdown. Troops remain on the street, however, in a sign that the city is still on very high alert.

Catios: Not Just for Keeping Your Cats Safe

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Cats

Thanksgiving is coming up next week, and it’s a fun time with family and friends, but not always for your cats. While some foods are okay for cats, like bite-sized pieces of boneless turkey meat, other things, such as bread dough, sweets and vegetables aren’t so good for them. Below are some Thanksgiving safety tips for cats.

Image by Satya Murthy, under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr

Why only boneless pieces of turkey?

While cats in the wild can, and do, swallow the bones of their prey, remember that this turkey has been cooked all the way through. That means the bones are brittle and will shatter into sharp pieces, which can lacerate your cat’s digestive tract. Turkey bones are also thicker and heavier than the bones of, say, sparrows and mice, meaning your cat could choke on them.

Turkey giblets are safe for your cat, but make sure you do not include the neck bone with this particular set of scraps. Gravy is salty and fatty, and should be kept away from your cats as much as possible to avoid gastrointestinal upset.

No bread dough

Have you ever eaten enough bread dough to get really bloated and crampy afterward? Imagine your cat eating what you think is just a tiny bit of dough. This is possibly one of the most important Thanksgiving safety tips for cats out there. The yeast will continue to work, which causes a lot of painful gas. Besides that, yeast can ferment, which can result in drunkenness in your poor kitty that could result in a trip to the emergency vet. Bread dough is a huge no-no.

No onions, garlic or chives either

This includes powders, and is also very important when it comes to Thanksgiving safety tips for cats. Many people like to make garlic mashed potatoes, put sour cream and chives on baked potatoes, put onions or onion powder in their stuffing, and the like. These things cause gastrointestinal upset in cats, and they can also lead to red blood cell damage. So anything that might contain onions, chives and garlic should be kept out of reach of your cats this Thanksgiving.

Sweets

Chocolate contains both methylxanthines and theobromines, both of which are dangerous for cats. Methylxanthines can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting, while theobromines can cause heart attacks. Nuts are very fatty and can cause gastrointestinal upset, and coconut has oils that can also cause diarrhea.

Thanksgiving safety tips for cats that don’t include food

There are other important Thanksgiving safety tips for cats out there, too. The most important of these is creating a safe place for your cats to go if they get stressed when there are lots of people and noise. Make sure she’s got her food and water, a clean litter box, and her favorite blankets and toys in that place.

Hopefully, these tips will help you and your cat have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

The Fascinating Roots of the Crazy Cat Lady

You’ve heard the term “crazy cat lady.” We all have. Some of us even consider ourselves crazy cat ladies, whether we fit the stereotype or not. However, as it turns out, there’s a history to the crazy cat lady that we may not be aware of.

First off, I definitely consider myself a crazy cat lady. I’d have a lot more cats in this house if it weren’t for my husband tempering me. He’s right to do so; our house is small, and it’s hard enough keeping the four we’ve got nice and calm because they don’t really have enough territory here. Too many cats in a cramped space is cruel, so we have four cats, and that is that (for now).

Where the crazy cat lady has her roots

A story on IO9 says that the true crazy cat lady has her own house, even as far back as the Middle Ages, when a woman could have her own house if she was a spinster or a wealthy widow. Cats were useful to have around, especially in outbuildings, because they hunted the rodents that made their homes in those buildings.

This is, in fact, the way that the relationship between humans and cats got started. Cats began congregating near human settlements because of the abundant food supply. It’s actually only quite recent that we started keeping cats as actual pets inside our houses.

The crazy cat lady has her roots in this, but her reputation for weirdness comes from medieval Europe. Even before their association with witches, cats were considered soulless creatures, and much cruelty resulted from that belief (which I’m not going to describe here). This is why women who liked cats were thought of as odd – why would anybody like a creature with no soul?

Crazy cat ladies became witches later on, and we all know what happened to witches in medieval Europe, and even early in the U.S.’s history. That eventually gave way to mockery, with people using cats to mock the women’s suffrage movement. The crazy cat lady was still thought of as an odd spinster with whom people just did not want to associate.

Today’s crazy cat lady is not so crazy

IO9 points out that now, with marriage rates declining and marriage no longer a driving priority for younger generations, the crazy cat lady image is coming into fashion.

She might have a house full of cats instead of a husband and children, but as long as the cats are well cared for, then remember, the crazy cat lady doesn’t need anybody or anything. She can take care of herself.

Cats and Cucumbers: WHAT is the Story?

What is up with cats and cucumbers? Videos have been making the rounds of the Internet, showing cats that get freaked out by strategically placed cucumbers. They don’t smell especially strong, and they’re not exactly big and towering, and yet, when cats see them, they freak. What on earth is going on?

Image via screen capture from embedded video

Cats and cucumbers is like cats and circles made of tape

It’s like the cat circles phenomenon, where people would try to “trap” their cats inside circles made of tape, ribbon, rope, or anything else cats could step over easily. It doesn’t work with all cats, but it does work with enough that it became an Internet phenomenon. Cats and cucumbers is very much like this; many cats react, but some don’t. Watch the compilation below to see the ways that some cats react to cucumbers.

This brings up the main question: What is it about cucumbers that’s so scary?

There are a few theories, one of which has to do with a possible resemblance to snakes. Seeing a cucumber appear behind them might trigger some sort of reflex to avoid snakes. It’s also possible that the cucumber is an object that just magically appeared, from the cat’s perspective, and that alone is enough to startle cats.

This is such a popular phenomenon that there’s even an entire subReddit devoted to it. It comes complete with a disclaimer that, sadly, applies to us and our cats: “This is /r/CucumbersScaringCats, not /r/CucumbersNOTScaringCats. If the cat isn’t scared, it doesn’t belong here.” Maybe some have tried to prove there that cats and cucumbers aren’t always a thing?

Image via screen capture from embedded video

Cats and cucumbers are hilarious, but this is not necessarily a good thing

However, it’s not a good thing that this is taking the Internet by storm. National Geographic ran an article about this, which went after people who were intentionally scaring their cats with cucumbers. Jill Goldman, a behaviorist in Southern California, says that if you’re causing your cats stress this way, then it’s probably not a good thing no matter how funny it seems.

One of the problems is that people are putting the cucumbers behind their cats while they’re eating. Cats associate their feeding stations with safety and security, according to the National Geographic piece, and people are intentionally scaring their cats in those places. That’s cruel, and could potentially cause behavior problems.

So, while cats and cucumbers take the Internet by storm, beware of doing this to your cats. Cats’ fear reactions can be funny, but in the end, are not really worth it. You want them to feel as safe as possible.

Cats Crashed the G20 Summit in Turkey

The G20 summit is taking place in Antalya, Turkey, this year, but some interesting individuals decided to crash the summit before it got underway. Before major world leaders began arriving, some stray cats decided they would try and steal the spotlight. That’s right, a small group of cats crashed the G20 summit.

These cats crashed the G20 summit and loved it:

One could consider the cats a security breach, since these cats crashed the G20 summit by sneaking passed security. Some people appeared on Twitter saying that the cats were really extra security, rather than gate-crashers. Others complained that the summit wasn’t being held in “Catstantinople,” according to an Australian news source.

Turkey gives a certain reverence to cats

Stray cats in Turkey enjoy a status that they don’t here in the U.S. Universities, rescue groups, and everyday people put out food and water for them. They’re beneficiaries of Facebook campaigns that gather supplies for them. President Obama, in a visit to Turkey’s capital a few years ago, stopped to pet a tabby cat.

Here in the U.S., strays and ferals receive care, but there is a deepening rift between caregivers and rescue groups, and people who just want cats exterminated. Despite that, if cats crashed the G20 summit as it was being held in the U.S., we’d hear cheers and laughter, and maybe some halfhearted jeers. Unless you’re a hardcore cat-hater, it’s hard not to find the humor in cats crashing a major world summit like that.

In Turkey, cats are regularly caught, neutered and then released. Turkey’s policy is TNR, as they work to further animal rights and uphold Muslim tradition. Catster says that, according to legend, a cat stopped a poisonous snake from biting the Prophet Muhammed. That’s why cats are held in such high regard there.

However, the animals aren’t totally safe. There are poisonings, which suggests there are people who just don’t care about the law.

So cats crashed the G20 summit, and it was cute and hilarious. Perhaps they’ll be invited to stay and participate in the proceedings, or at least provide extra security.

Kitty Litter’s Fascinating History