Cats and Essential Oils: What You Need to Know

Ultrasonic essential oil diffuser

Essential oil diffusers are starting to turn up everywhere. The essential oil industry has been experiencing significant growth over the past few years, and more people than ever before have essential oil diffusers in their homes.

But are essential oil diffusers safe to use around cats?

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are concentrated solutions of volatile aromatic compounds extracted from plants. These volatile aromatic compounds are the source of the plant’s smell and taste. The word “essential” was used to classify these compounds since they contain the “essence” of a plant’s aroma. Each oil, therefore, captures the essence of the plant it was derived from in a concentrated liquid form.

Essential oils are extracted from plants using a variety of different methods, but the two most common methods are distillation and expression (cold-pressing). Once extracted from a plant, essential oils are used to produce scents in soaps, perfumes, cosmetics, and a variety of other products. They are also a fixture in the world of alternative medicine.

Aromatherapy and Alternative Medicine

Essential oils are marketed for use in aromatherapy. Different oils are said to target specific maladies or to offer certain benefits if they are inhaled as a mist or aerosol. Aromatherapists recommend different types of essential oils for improved respiratory health, control of nausea, relaxation, and a whole host of other reasons. The healing properties of essential oils are widely espoused across the aromatherapy community. 

Whether or not essential oils actually do everything that people say they do is an ongoing subject of debate within the scientific and medical communities. Scattered studies have shown that they aren’t bad, but they may not have enough of an impact to be considered truly effective for treatment of many conditions. The way their production and distribution are regulated in the U.S. makes medical evaluation of their effects difficult. Most people enjoy the aromas they produce when diffused, though, and their use can at least have positive mental effects by creating a pleasant atmosphere and sense of well-being.

Essential oil bottles

Regulation of Essential Oils

Essential oils are usually categorized as a cosmetic, a drug, or both by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Essential oils that are categorized as a cosmetic do not require approval by the FDA to be put onto the market. The FDA can step in, however, if they receive credible information that indicates a specific product is not safe or if the product is not labeled correctly. The FDA defines a cosmetic as follows:

  • Articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body or any part thereof for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance [FD&C Act, Section 321(g)(2)(i)(1)]

Essential oils that are categorized as a drug, or as a combination cosmetic / drug, require FDA approval before being sold to consumers. This approval process involves testing for safety and effectiveness of the substance relative to its purported health effects. A large portion of the classification process depends on what the manufacturer of the essential oil claims it is capable of doing. The FDA definition of a drug is as follows:

  • Articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals [FD&C Act, Section 321(g)(1)(B)]
  • Articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals [FD&C Act, Section 321(g)(1)(C)]

If a product’s labeling includes claims that it cures, mitigates, treats, or prevents a disease, the FDA will consider it a drug. As a result, manufacturer’s of essential oils are very careful about what kinds of claims that include on their packaging.

Essential oil diffuser

Medical Research

Selling an essential oil as a cosmetic rather than as a drug is much easier from a regulatory standpoint, and, as a result, many essential oils are produced as cosmetic products. Production of cosmetic products is not standardized, which makes them very difficult to evaluate scientifically as a therapeutic agent. Solutions produced by different manufacturers may contain different essential oil concentrations or levels of purity since production methods are not consistent across the industry. 

Many essential oils are labeled as “therapeutic grade.” There is no regulatory agency or other body that grants this classification. It is used mostly as marketing jargon, and some company’s may define how they classify “therapeutic grade” on their website.Being labeled as “therapeutic grade” does not necessarily mean an essential oil is poor quality. But it is also not a true indicator that an oil is high quality since it is not a regulated term.

Medical research related to the health effects of essential oils in humans is progressing, but it is still relatively scarce and inconclusive. Even less research information is available related to the health impacts of essential oils on cats and other animals. As a result, our knowledge of the medical effects of certain essential oils on cats has been gained through observation of symptoms and detailed reporting to veterinarians.

Essential Oil Diffusers

Essential oil diffusers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. The most popular types of essential oil diffusers include:

Nebulizing Diffuser

Nebulizing diffusers create a very fine mist of oil droplets and diffuse them into the surrounding space. Some of these diffusers use electricity to generate heat, and this heat is used to aid in the diffusion of the essential oils. Other nebulizing diffusers use pressurized air to nebulize and diffuse essential oils. The model shown below uses pressurized air and includes an adjustable airflow dial. 

Essential oil nebulizing diffuser

Ultrasonic Diffuser

Similar to nebulizing diffusers, ultrasonic diffusers also generate a fine mist of oil droplets for diffusion into the surrounding space. They do this by using ultrasonic vibrations to break the oil droplets apart into even smaller droplets. These diffusers require dilution of essential oils with water, creating a more dilute mist.

Ultrasonic essential oil diffuser

Reed Diffuser

Reed diffusers are made up of rattan sticks immersed in essential oils. The oils are pulled up the pores in the sticks by capillary action, and their aromas are released into the surrounding air.

Essential oil reed diffuser
Candle Diffuser

A candle diffuser uses the heat of a candle to warm an essential oil, releasing its fragrance. 

Essential oil candle diffuser

Are Essential Oils Toxic to Cats?

The question of whether or not essential oils are toxic to cats is complicated. While some oils have no observable impacts on cats, others are associated with frequent reports of negative health issues.

The impact an essential oil will have on a cat depends on the type of oil and the concentration the cat is exposed to. The method of exposure also plays a significant role in determining the symptoms of exposure. 

Cats may be exposed to essential oils in the following ways:

  • Inhalation
  • Direct physical contact
  • Ingestion

Most cats will not willingly ingest essential oils. It is very important that you as an owner avoid putting essential oils on anything that your cat may chew on or eat. You should also avoid feeding essential oils to your cat directly. Even having moderate physical contact with essential oils can cause skin irritation in your cat.

Keep essential oils away from areas your cat frequents to avoid having your cat spill a bottle of oil and walk through it or lie down in it. One common way that cats may ingest essential oils is through cleaning them off of their fur.

Specific Essential Oils that are Toxic to Cats

The following list of essential oils that are known to cause poisoning in cats was put together by the Dr. Kia Benson, DVM, for the Pet Poison Helpline:

  • Citrus Oils (Grapefruit Oil, Lemon Oil, etc.)
  • Birch Oil
  • Cinnamon Oil
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Wintergreen Oil
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Pine Oil
  • Eucalyptus Oil
  • Pennyroyal Oil
  • Clove Oil
  • Ylang Ylang Oil

You should avoid using any of these essential oils on or around your cat. This includes diffusion or topical administration.

Symptoms of Essential Oil Toxicity in Cats

The following symptoms may indicate that your cat has been exposed to essential oils and is having an adverse reaction:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Signs of irritation on or around the mouth, including redness
  • Difficulty walking or unsteady gait (ataxia)
  • Muscle tremors
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy

The APSCA lists essential oils as one of the 15 most common causes of muscle tremors in cats.

What to Do if You Think Your Cat is Suffering from Essential Oil Toxicity

Contact your local emergency veterinary care provider or the Pet Poison Helpline (800-213-6680) immediately if you think that your cat may be suffering for essential oil toxicity. Seek treatment as soon as possible. The faster you seek treatment, the better your cat’s chances of recovery. Do not try to make your cat throw up if you think he may have ingested essential oils. Let the veterinarian handle the situation. Also, make sure to bring the packaging for any products that you suspect may be causing the adverse reaction in your cat to the vet.

Cat sitting on kitchen chair

A Word on the Essential Oil Industry

While researching this article, I came across a really nice-looking infographic created by an essential oil dealer that identified a couple of the essential oils included on the list of toxic essential oils provided by the Pet Poison Helpline as “great for pets.” I didn’t want to share it here since I didn’t want to create any confusion. These kinds of false claims are rampant across the internet, especially in the world of alternative medicine. The number one offenders are almost always selling essential oils and related products.

There is widespread misinformation regarding the impact of essential oils on cats coming from several members of the essential oil industry. That’s not to say that all members of this industry are guilty parties. However, the problem is ubiquitous.

Essential oil dealers frequent the comments sections of articles just like this one. Many of them claim to have healed their cat or other animals using essential oils. Similarly, articles are posted on the blogs of essential oil dealers that list essential oils that they claim are beneficial to cats. Don’t be misled by these claims. The primary objective within this industry is to sell essential oils, and not to maintain the health and well-being of your beloved pet. Be on the lookout for these false claims and always trust the opinion of veterinary professionals. 

Final Thoughts

It is my personal opinion that use of essential oil diffusers should be avoided around cats. It isn’t worth risking the potential negative health impacts. If you’re going to use essential oils while living with a cat, take precautions to operate your diffuser in a location that the cat rarely frequents. Avoid placing it by the cat’s food, water, litter box, or favorite nap spots.

Remember though: I’m not a veterinarian, or any kind of medical professional for that matter. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for their opinion about cats and essential oils!

Correcting Bad Cat Behaviors: Do’s and Don’ts

Cat sitting with some toilet paper that he just made a big mess with

Cats will be cats.

Unfortunately, this means that cats will occasionally scratch your arm, wake you up at night, unroll your toilet paper, destroy the corner of your couch, swat your glass off a shelf, and exhibit countless other behaviors that are, from a human viewpoint, problematic. When considering the cat in its natural habitat and not in your living room, it can be a little easier to understand why cats do the things they do.

Cats scratch surfaces as a way of marking their territory and sharpening their claws. They don’t just hate your taste in furniture.

Cats like to be up high so it’s easier to survey their territory and hunt. They aren’t trying to purposefully take down your ceiling fan.

Cats in the wild need to kill small animals to survive. Hunting is pretty important to them. As a result, they practice it all the time. They aren’t trying to ruin your socks or make you bleed.

Breaking cats of some of their most instinctual habits can be difficult. Most people resort to using a spray bottle of water or just yelling at their cat and hoping for the best. But neither of those strategies are good options. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of cat behavior Do’s and Don’ts for some common problematic cat behaviors.

Cat sitting on a laptop

Most Importantly…

These first items are the most important ones on the list. Not to say that there isn’t some great advice on this list. But following these first few pieces of advice is paramount.

DO…
  • Take your cat to the vet if the problem behavior they are expressing may indicate a health problem. Examples of these behaviors include:
    • Excessive meowing
    • High levels of aggression
    • Urinating outside of the litter box frequently
    • Loss of appetite
    • Frequent eating of non-food objects
DON’T…
  • Rely on Google searches to diagnose your cat’s ailments. Always take your cat to a licensed veterinarian if you have a concern that something is wrong.
  • Physically abuse your pet as a means of correcting his behavior. This is the worst thing you can do. Never do this.

General Friskiness (Scratching, Knocking Things Over, etc.)

DO…
  • Make sure your cat has plenty of interesting toys to play with. Otherwise, your cat may start creating “toys” out of your possessions and batting them around the house. Giving your cat plenty of acceptable play options will make it less likely that they will play fight with your shoes or repeatedly knock your glasses off of your nightstand.
  • Provide plenty of acceptable alternatives to unwanted cat behaviors. For example, if your cat is scratching one of your door jambs, make sure your cat has a good vertical scratching post available. Sprinkle it with some catnip to try and entice your cat into finding a new place to scratch. If your cat continues scratching the door jamb, trying moving the scratching post directly in front of the area that is being scratched. If you still catch your cat scratching at the door jamb again, pick up her front paws mid-scratch and move them gently onto the scratching post.
  • Try to get your cat to associate their problematic behaviors with unpleasant sensations that are completely detached from you, the owner. You don’t want your cat to think that an unpleasant condition only occurs when they exhibit the bad behavior around you. You want them to associate the unpleasant condition with the behavior. Examples of ways to create unpleasant conditions include the use of scents and tastes that cats despise as a means of deterring them from specific behaviors. We’ll discuss how to do this effectively further down in the list!

Cat dancing and being frisky

DON’T…
  • Tempt fate by leaving your house full of clutter that your cat may try to play with. If you leave small objects like paper clips, rubber bands, bottlecaps, and food wrappers around your house, your cat may easily confuse these small items with toys and treat them accordingly. Cats seem to have an extra sense that helps them instantly identify tiny objects that they can bat all around your house. Small objects like these pose a choking risk to cats, and you should prevent your cat from playing with them whenever possible.
  • Encourage bad behavior. If you laugh and pet your kitten after she unrolls an entire roll of toilet paper across your bathroom, she’s probably going to do it again. Don’t provide any sort of physical or psychological reward that your cat may link to her bad behavior. This can be especially difficult when very young kittens begin to nibble on our hands and feet. It’s super cute when this happens, and we tend to reward the kitten with pets and cuddles whenever they do this. Encouraging the behavior in this manner will lead to an adult cat that plays with your hands and feet in the same way, but now with adult-sized teeth and claws. Instead, don’t encourage your kitten when she nibbles at you playfully. You don’t have to discipline her or punish the behavior, but instead put your kitten down and withdraw attention for a couple minutes or so.
  • Yell at your cat to try and correct their behavior. Your cat will not understand. Unless you are yelling at the cat as the bad behavior is being performed, your cat will likely not make the connection between the behavior and the “punishment.” Also, to reiterate, your cat will not understand. He may recognize that you’re heart rate goes up when you are angry and you start making louder, more aggressive noises. But he may confuse it for play. At its best, yelling at your cat will just confuse him. To reiterate a third and final time, your cat will not understand.
  • Use a spray bottle or squirt gun filled with water to try and correct your cat’s behavior. Unless the cat is being sprayed as it is in the middle of performing the bad behavior, she will not link the behavior and the punishment, causing confusion. Also, she will associate the punishing spray of water directly with you, decreasing her trust in you and instilling fear. Your cat will identify the fact that she will only get sprayed if you are around while she is performing the behavior, and she will learn to do it when you are not around. Additionally, there is a good amount of evidence that shows that negative reinforcement (i.e. punishment) is an ineffective training tool, not only for cats but also for people. Animals in general respond much better to positive reinforcement than negative.

Kitten climbing on cat tree

Litter Training

DO
  • Make sure to check with your vet if your cat is frequently going to the bathroom outside of the litter box. There are several medical conditions that can lead to a cat exhibiting this behavior.
  • Have a spare litter box handy. Cats are reluctant to use a litter box that another cat has recently used. To prevent accidents, make sure your cat always has a fresh litter box available. This typically means having at least one more litter box than the number of cats in your household.  
  • See if there’s a specific spot your cat likes to go to the bathroom. If so, try moving his litter box that exact location.
  • Make sure the box is the right size for your cat. A kitten needs a box that is small and easy for them to climb into, while a larger adult cat may need a larger than average litter box to avoid going over the edge by accident.
Cat lying in a litter box

Photo courtesy of Laura LaRose.

DON’T 
  • Get lazy when it comes to scooping your cat’s litter box. Cats hate when their litter box is full. They’re more likely to go off and do their business outside of the box if their litter box is not well maintained. In fact, some cats won’t go in a litter box if there is any waste present at all. Keeping the litter box clean by scooping frequently will ensure that your cats always have a pleasant place to poop.
  • Rely on soap and water when cleaning up cat urine following an accident. Cleaning up cat urine with soap and water may mask the odor of the urine enough for you to find acceptable, but your cat cat smell a lot better than you can. The odor will linger, and since cats like to revisit the same locations when going to the bathroom, you are likely going to have repeat accidents. Instead, use a cleaning product that has been specifically designed for removal of pet odors to neutralize cat urine stains. Make sure to act quickly after observing an accident to prevent any repetition of the behavior. If repeated cleaning is unsuccessful, you may need restrict your cat’s access to the area where accidents keep happening to prevent them in the future. Check out this article for more information about cleaning up cat urine stains.
  • Use a covered litter box. Covered litter boxes are appealing since they (ideally) trap odor, preventing it from spreading around your house. In reality, adding a cover to a litter box introduces a series of other issues. Litter in covered boxes does not dry as quickly as it does in an uncovered box. As a result, it may not clump properly. Your cat will likely find the odor inside the box to be distasteful since covered boxes are typically not ventilated very well. Also, the space provided by a covered litter box puts a cat in a very vulnerable position. Cats like an open litter box since they can see in all directions. In nature, cats are very aware of their vulnerability while going to the bathroom and prefer a location where they can keep an eye on things. Going inside of a box with only one entrance and exit may make your cat nervous, leading to a failure to bury its waste or avoidance of the box altogether.
Cat sitting and looking into a spherical robotic automatic litter box

Photo courtesy of Your Best Digs

Restricting Access:  Keeping Cats Away From Places and Things

DO…
  • Use odors that cats hate to keep them out of certain areas. There are several sprays you can buy that can be applied to furniture and other objects as cat repellants, but these may contain harsh artificial chemicals. There are a number of natural alternatives you may already have around the house that may be worth a try. Here’s a list of smells that cats can’t stand:
    • Citrus – citrus is actually poisonous to cats, but they would need to eat a lot of it in order to have any negative effects. And this is no problem for most cats, since they really hate the smell of citrus.
    • Spicy smells, such as mustard, cloves, cayenne pepper, etc.
    • Eucalyptus oil
    • Wintergreen oil
    • Citronella
  • Take advantage of objects that cats don’t like the feel of, such as aluminum foil, plastic, or sticky surfaces. Placing these materials on or around areas you would like to keep cat-free will discourage your cat from walking there. Cats hate walking on these kinds of materials and will avoid them at all costs.

Cat sitting on a shelf

DON’T…
  • Use mothballs as a cat repellant. Mothballs are highly toxic to cats. They are used for pest control since they act as a pesticide. As a result, you should keep them far away from your cat.
  • Use aloe gel as a way of repelling your cat from places you want them to stay away from. Aloe is poisonous to cats and can cause serious medical problems if even a small amount is ingested. Aloe is one of over 400 plants that are toxic to cats. You can find a complete list of those plants from the ASPCA here.

Cat sitting half in a window, half inside, half outside

The Definitive Guide to Getting Rid of Cat Urine Odors

Blue spray bottle spraying cleaning solution

Every cat owner dreads the smell of cat pee outside of the litter box. When a cat urinates in a litter box, the litter and any odor-absorbing chemicals in the litter help neutralize the smell. Plus, your cat will bury his waste after he’s done going, masking the odor even more. But when a cat goes outside of the litter box and onto something soft and absorbent, the resulting smell can be overpowering.

Why Does Cat Urine Smell So Bad?

Cat urine smells terrible, but in a very specific way. It produces a pungent ammonia odor that worsens as it ages if it is not cleaned up or removed. But why does cat urine smell so much worse than other types of urine?

Diet & Metabolism

Cats eat a lot of protein. In fact, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) recommends that food for adult cats contain at least 26% protein, and that food for kittens contain at least 30%. Some veterinarians recommend even higher protein intake.

The feline digestive system breaks down proteins into a compound called urea. When bacteria break urea down even further, one of the substances that is released is ammonia, the signature aroma of cat urine. As cat urine sits and ages, bacteria break down its constituent compounds even further, releasing mercaptans. Mercaptans are the same compounds that are found in the spray from a skunk. The resulting odor is very, very bad.

Brown tabby cat eating out of a bowl
Hormones

But cat urine doesn’t just contain urea. It also may include hormones. Each cat produces his own unique hormone “cocktail,” and cats use these hormones as a way of marking their territory and signaling to potential mates. The presence of hormones adds an additional (terrible) characteristic to the overall aroma of cat urine,.

Cat urine smells are extremely difficult to remove from fabrics, especially those scents produced by hormones. The scents may be present at  low enough levels that we can’t smell them anymore. But our cat sure can.

When a cat marks a space by urinating on it, he is likely to return to that spot to mark it again in the future. As long as he can still smell the traces of the unique hormone blend that was present in his urine, he will keep returning and attempting to make the smell of his hormones even stronger.

Concentration

Cat urine is highly concentrated compared to human urine or the urine of other species of animals. Having developed in regions with arid climates, cats drink low amounts of water relative to their body size when compared to other mammals. Their bodies are designed to use the water they drink as efficiently as possible. The upside to this is that cats produce a much lower volume of urine relative to their size than other animals, including dogs and humans. The downside to this is that even a small volume of cat urine packs a powerful wallop of smells since it is highly concentrated.

Identifying Cat Urine Stains

Cat urine stains are identifiable by their odor, yellow discoloration, and dampness. If you look at a space and think to yourself, “hey, it looks/smells like a cat peed there,” then he probably did. However, the precise location of a cat urine stain may be difficult to identify if the urine has already dried or if the color of the surface effectively masks any potential discoloration.

One way to locate a cat urine stain that cannot be seen with the naked eye is to use a blacklight or UV light. Cat urine stains will glow white under these types of lights, as will several other types of stains. This may be the only way to identify a stain that has dried or is on a surface that may mask the stain’s appearance.

Cat urine stain on carpet

Getting Rid of Cat Urine Odors

Getting rid of the combination of concentrated ammonia and hormones present in cat urine is challenging. Most normal cleaning products are not powerful enough to fully remove the cat urine odor. After cleaning, your cat, who has a much better smell that you, will still be able to smell his hormones if the site has not been cleaned thoroughly enough or with the right materials. And you’d better believe he’s going to mark it again if he can still smell himself.

You should avoid using any cleaning products that contain ammonia when trying to clean up cat urine. Since the urea in the urine has broken down into ammonia, using an ammonia-based cleaning product is not going to solve your ammonia problem. It will make things worse.

Also, avoid using cleaning products that contain bleach. When bleach and ammonia mix, they release chloramine gas. Chloramine gas is toxic. You should immediately vacate an area where these two chemicals have been mixed and ventilate it to allow the gas to dissipate.

Homemade Cleaning Solutions
White Vinegar & Water

Vinegar is weakly acidic. When it is combined with cat urine, it reacts with the basic salts contained in dried cat urine, neutralizing them.  

Create a solution of white vinegar and water, using one part vinegar for every one part water (50/50 solution). This solution can be rubbed into the cat urine stain using a scrub brush or cloth. Vinegar naturally reacts with ammonia, and using a vinegar cleaning solution will help  to neutralize the painful ammonia smell associated with cat urine. 

The smell of vinegar may remain at the location or on the fabric temporarily after cleaning. It will fade shortly, and the cat urine odor should also be gone by the time the vinegar smell has disappeared.

Apple Cider Vinegar & Water

If the smell of white vinegar is a bit too much for you, you can substitute apple cider vinegar instead.

Apple cider vinegar and white vinegar are produced using the same process and work almost identically to one another as a cleaning agent. Apple cider vinegar tends to be a bit more expensive since it is often sold for consumption in addition to its use as a cleaning agent.

Adding apple cider vinegar to your laundry can help neutralize cat urine odors and remove stains from clothing without add too much of an astringent vinegar smell.

Club Soda and Baking Soda

Using a combination of club soda and baking soda may also help remove cat urine odors.

At least, according to the folks at Arm & Hammer.

Try scrubbing stained carpets and other linens with club soda and allowing it to dry. Then, dust the stain with baking soda and lightly scrub it into the area. Allow the baking soda to react with any of the remaining odors, then vacuum it up.

Baking Soda and Hydrogen Peroxide + Dish Soap

After cleaning a stain with vinegar but before it has fully dried, sprinkle baking soda across the stain. Combine ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide with 1 tsp. of liquid dish soap and apply to the stain. Scrub the mixture into the stained area, then blot dry.

Make sure you test this stain remedy on a small portion of the carpet before applying it across the entire stain. This will help you make sure that the mixture is not going to cause any discoloration.

Commercial Cleaning Aids

There are a number of enzymatic cleaners on the market that can be used to break down the proteins and other molecules contained in cat urine. Enzymatic cleaners can cause staining or discoloration on some fabrics, so always test the cleaner in a small area before applying it across the entire stain. 

Here are some of the most popular enzymatic cleaners on the market:

 

 

Material-Specific Cleaning Instructions

Carpet

Try to blot up as much of the urine as possible if the stain is still wet. Use a clean cloth and cold water. Do not rub the urine into the carpet, but instead use a blotting motion. Avoid applying heat to the stain.

Next, apply your cleaning solution of choice to the stain. Work the solution into the stain with a scrub brush. The solution should not just sit on top of the carpet. You need to make sure that it is pushed deep into the carpet so it can contact as much cat urine as possible.

Let your cleaning solution soak into the stain for at least 10 minutes. Scrub the stain using a scrub brush, then blot the stain dry using a clean cloth. Try to remove as much cleaning solution as possible through absorption. This will allow the cleaned stain to dry faster.

Avoid using bleach or other harsh cleansers that may discolor the affected area.

Make sure you remember to vacuum the stain area after it has dried. This will remove any remaining dry particles of cat urine or cleaning solution that may still be in the carpet.

You may need to repeat this process a few times to fully remove the cat urine smell. In the event that the urine soaked all the way through your carpet and into the materials below, you may have a difficult time ever getting the space clean. Consider putting something on top of the spot if convenient, like a piece of furniture, to keep your cat away from it.

Black cat lying on a brown carpet

Clothing, Towels, and Linens (Machine Washable)

Rinse the stained area with cold water. Place the stained items in the washing machine and add your normal laundry detergent. Next, add 1 cup of baking soda and ¼ cup of vinegar (apple cider or white) to the washing machine. Run the machine. You may need to repeat the process a few times to fully remove the odor. If baking soda and vinegar aren’t cutting it, consider trying an enzymatic cleaner.

Do not put your clothes in the dryer after you’ve cleaned the stains out of them. The heat from the dryer can permanently trap any remaining odor in the fabric. Allow your clothes to air dry, then check to see if you can still smell the cat urine. Repeat as necessary.

Couches, Chairs, Pillows, Mattresses, etc.

Just like cleaning a carpet, blot up as much of the liquid as you using a clean cloth. Using a cloth dampened with cold water, wet the stained area. Then repeat the blotting process.

Next, apply your cleaning solution across the entire stain. Gently scrub the cleaning solution into the stain using a soft scrub brush. Allow the solution to soak into the stain for at least 10 minutes.

After allowing the stain to soak, use a scrub brush to scrub the stain. Then, blot up the remaining cleaning solution using a clean cloth. Once the area has been dried, you will need to keep the area covered with a cloth until the cleaning process has been repeated enough times to permanently remove the cat urine odor. Make sure to replace the towels regularly, and repeat the cleaning process as many times as needed to get rid of the smell.

Hard Surfaces

Hard surfaces may be cleaned using stronger cleaning products than carpets, upholstery, mattresses, or clothing. Make sure the cleaning solution you use does not contain ammonia or bleach.

Depending on the type of surface, you may not be able to use an acidic cleaner. Fortunately, cat urine smells are easier to remove from hard surfaces than from fabrics. Make sure to clean the spot several time until the odor is no longer detectable.

Cleaner being sprayed onto a wood surface by gloved hands holding a sponge.

Tips for Avoiding Future Accidents

  • Keep the litter box clean
  • If your cat urinates somewhere, you may need to repeat the cleaning procedures above several times before your cat loses interest in urinating there again.
  • Place your cat’s food near the location where he previously urinated. Cats are less likely to go to the bathroom in the same place that they eat.

If your cat continues having accidents outside of the litter box, bring him to your vet immediately for an evaluation. Several medical conditions may cause an adult cat to stop using his litter box. For example, when older cats develop arthritis, they may avoid the litter box because it is painful to enter and exit. The sooner you get your cat checked out, the sooner the problem can be diagnosed accurately.

iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain Review

Cat sitting with iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Fountain with blue Tower.

Cats hate normal water dishes. They may not be telling you directly about how much they hate them, but they will typically tell you in other ways, like constantly drinking out of your toilet or from a leaky bathroom faucet. A healthy cat will not let himself become dehydrated, and he will drink from a low quality water source if he needs to in order to survive. But if you give him a tastier source of drinking water than a stagnant dish, he’s going to go for the tasty source in lieu of the dish every time.

Why Consider a Cat Fountain?

It’s important that your cat drinks plenty of water. Failure to drink enough water can cause a number of medical conditions, including dehydration and disorders of the kidney and urinary tract.

Most cats are somewhat reluctant to drink out of a bowl of stagnant water. Changing the bowl frequently helps a bit, but cats typically prefer moving water. As a result, he may get up onto your kitchen or bathroom counter and try to drink out of your sink, especially if it drips or leaks. He also may lap up fresh puddles of water formed at the bottom of your sink or shower after it has been used. This is because your cat craves fresh water, and the water coming out of the tap is as fresh as it gets.

Encouraging Your Cat to Drink

Cats in the wild don’t drink much water. Most of their water comes from the food they eat, which consists of small animals they hunt and kill. Their wild diet is much higher in moisture than a diet of commercial food, especially dry kibble-type cat foods. When a wild cat does need to drink, such as during very hot weather, he will tend to choose a moving body of water, such as a stream. Cats instinctually find a moving body of water more appetizing than a stagnant body. This carries over into your household.

Providing your cat with a source of fresh, clean water that is constantly moving will encourage your cat to drink more. The simplest moving source of water you can provide for your cat is a small circulating fountain.

Circulating fountains provide constant aeration of the water in their basins, preventing the formation of stagnant, anaerobic conditions in the water that may produce bad odors and tastes. Most fountains designed for cats also filter water as it is circulated. Filtering the water removes any debris that may have entered the water, including cat hair and bits of cat food. This improves the overall quality and taste of the water, which your cat will appreciate.

Cat drinking water out of a bathroom faucet

Image Source: Michel Curi

What to Look For When Choosing a Cat Fountain

There are a ton of cat fountains available on the market, so it can be confusing trying to figure out what separates a good one from a piece of junk. Here is a list of criteria you should keep an eye out for whenever you’re picking out a cat fountain for your cat:

  • Manufactured from a durable material that does not leach BPA or other harmful chemicals
  • Contains dishwasher safe components
  • Easy to clean
  • Pump operates quietly
  • Includes filtration
  • Shape is easy to clean and does not contain several crevices and corners
  • Large capacity and ease of access (for households with multiple pets)
  • Suitable length of electric chord between wall outlet and fountain
iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain

iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain Specifications
  • Material: Porcelain
  • Filtration: Foam Roughing Filter + Carbon Filter
  • Pump Type: IP68 AC Pump
  • Pump Power Consumption: 2W
  • Capacity: 71 oz. (2.1 L)
  • Dimensions: 10.7 x 10.7 x 5.5 inches
  • Weight: 7.1 lbs
  • Cable Length: 6 ft.
Description

The iPettie Tritone fountain, produced by iPettie, consists of a large ceramic bowl approximately 10.7 inches in diameter that forms the fountain’s basin. The center of the bowl contains a small dome known as the Tower. The top piece of the Tower contains an opening that is fitted with a rubber grommet, and there is a small wall surrounding the perimeter of the opening. The walls around the opening have slotted sides, forming a lotus design. A small pump conveys water from the bowl up the center of the Tower. Water cascades from the opening top of the Tower, through the slotted sides, and along the surface of the Tower until it returns to the fountain basin.

The fountain design gives your cat the option of drinking from the fountain basin or lapping up water as it runs down the side of the Tower. As water passes through the slotted sides of the wall surrounding the top opening, it briefly free falls before coming into contact with the Tower. This also gives your cat the option of drinking from a free falling stream of water, which many cats prefer.

The fountain utilizes a dual filtration system. An initial roughing filter is used to remove large debris from water as it is drawn from the fountain basin. This includes cat hair and bits of cat food. After passing through the foam filter, water passes through a second filter that uses activated carbon and charcoal to remove finer solids as well as compounds that may produce bad odors or tastes. Filtered water then exits via the opening at the top of the Tower.

Check out the video below for an introduction to the iPettie Tritone fountain:

 

Assessment
Operation

The pump that circulates water through the iPettie Tritone fountain is nearly silent. You won’t have to worry about it scaring your cat away or keeping you up all night.

The fountain will occasionally need to be cleaned. This includes the foam and carbon filters that are used to improve the fountain water quality. Replacement filters are available for purchase, but the filters that are supplied with the fountain can be used for several months as long as they are cleaned regularly.

Make sure you don’t forget to change the water and clean your fountain regularly. Most of the problems that people encounter with pet fountains are caused by poor maintenance and cleaning. Like all pet fountains, the iPettie Tritone fountain will fail if it is not kept clean. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended cleaning practices and procedures included in the fountain’s instruction manual.  

You can see how the fountain is assembled using the video below:

 

Design

The iPettie Tritone fountain has an attractive appearance. The white ceramic Tower and bowl will match most kitchen decors. The circular shape and large diameter also allow for easy access by multiple pets simultaneously.

One of the biggest benefits of the the iPettie Tritone fountain is its material of construction. Since the fountain is ceramic and not plastic, you don’t have to worry about the presence of any toxic substances that may leach out of a cheap plastic fountain. The ceramic material is also strong, and the fountain is more difficult to break than your typical cheap plastic fountain. Unfortunately, some of the fountain’s internal components are still constructed out of plastic. This plastic is BPA free, and the reduced amount of plastic in the fountain’s overall design makes it a superior alternative to a fountain constructed entirely out of plastic components.

The fountain bowl and Tower are both dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning a breeze. The manufacturer recommends cleaning the pump at least once every two weeks to ensure that it is operating properly. They also recommend not placing the fountain near your cat’s food dish or litter box. Cats prefer that their water source be in a different location than either of these items, so this is a good practice to follow in general when deciding on a place to keep your cat’s water dish.

The video below shows you exactly what you need to do in order to keep the iPettie Tritone fountain clean:

 

Value

As of October 2018, the iPettie Tritone fountain costs just under $80. This price is a bit steep compared to several other fountains that are available. However, the iPettie Tritone fountain’s durable ceramic construction make it worth the additional cost. Many of the cheaper fountains that are on the market are constructed of much less durable materials and will not last as long as the iPettie Tritione.

Repeated costs associated with the fountain include replacement pumps and filters. Fortunately, the fountain comes with a spare pump, which means you should not need to purchase a new one for quite some time after you first begin using it. The fountain also comes with two spare carbon filters.

One of the complaints noted by some owners of the iPettie Tritone fountain is the cost of replacement filters, particularly the foam filter that is used to remove large debris before water passes through the carbon filters. While the carbon filters will need to be replaced occasionally, the foam filter can simply be rinsed out and returned to use for several weeks beyond the recommended replacement frequency.

A Word on Filters

Carbon filters work by attracting dissolved compounds in the water to the surface of the carbon granules. The compounds stick to the pieces of carbon until they eventually clog up all of the carbon pieces’ pores. When this happens, the filter needs to be replaced. The foam filter, on the other hand, is a mechanical filter, meaning that it works by simply trapping solid material in its pores. Rinsing the filter in a stream of fast-moving water should be sufficient to dislodge any materials that have been captured by the foam filter. The rinsed filter can then be reused.

If you use filtered water to fill the bowl to begin with, the additional carbon filtration is not essential. The main compounds removed by carbon filtration are disinfectants such as chlorine and chloramine, sediments, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may cause bad taste and odor. If you are already running your drinking water through a carbon filtration system, these compounds should already be removed from the water.

If filtered water is used, any compounds that may cause bad tastes or odors will be the result of bacterial growth within the fountain. This may occur if the water is not changed regularly or if the fountain is not cleaned. Tastes and odors caused by bacteria growing on the wetted surfaces of the fountain will not be fully removed by the carbon filter since the filter cannot impact the growth of bacteria on fountain surfaces. As a result, if you supply the fountain with filtered water, you should be able to run it without the carbon filter and achieve sufficient water quality to keep your cat happy. This will save you money on expensive replacement filters. Just make sure to change the water and clean the fountain regularly.

Quality & Durability

The iPettie Tritone fountain is constructed of ceramic materials, making it stronger and more durable than most plastic fountains. However, it is more vulnerable to shattering if it is dropped from a height than a plastic fountain. As long as you don’t drop the iPettie Tritone off of your kitchen counter while you are cleaning it or filling it, it should last a very long time.   

The iPettie Tritone fountain also comes with a spare pump. This will be useful in the event that your pump stops working for any reason. If you make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance instructions for the pump and filters, you should not need to worry about your pump breaking down.

iPettie Tritone Ceramic Pet Drinking Fountain components

Pros
  • Encourages your cat to drink more water, keeping him hydrated and preventing medical conditions that may be arise from dehydration
  • Extremely quiet pump operation (you won’t even know it’s there!)
  • Attractive appearance
  • 360° access for multiple pets
  • Large storage volume
  • Dishwasher safe components
  • Decreased concern about leaching of BPA or other harmful substances into your pet’s water supply when compared to fountains manufactured entirely out of plastic.
Cons
  • Fountain may shatter if  dropped from a height.
  • A bit more expensive than fountains made out of cheaper materials such as plastic
  • Limited color options available (white or blue Tower only)
  • Pump does not have an automatic shutoff, which means you will need to keep the fountain filled with plenty of water. If the pump runs dry, it may burn itself out and stop working.

Final Verdict

Based on our assessment, the iPettie Tritone fountain scores an impressive 8.4 / 10.0. We highly recommend going with this fountain if you are in the market for a durable, long-lasting fountain that will keep your cat coming back for more. Check it out on Amazon!

10 Ways to Keep Your Cat Off of the Kitchen Counter

Cat standing on a kitchen counter, looking especially guilty.

It’s 6:30 PM. You’re grating some cheese to top off a nice fish stew that you’ve been working on for the past three hours. Your turn your back on your cooking for a second to check your recipe. When you get back, behold!

Your cat is up in your business, eating your fish and cheese! Drat!

But what do you do? How do you stop your cat from constantly ruining your fish and cheese dinners by jumping up onto your kitchen counters?

It may not hurt to consider just why it is your cat feels compelled to get onto your counter. Maybe your tasty-smelling chow was enough to entice him up there in this case. But there may be other times when you’ve found him on the counter, sunning himself or knocking around a salt shaker, seemingly with no motivation other than to get on your nerves.

Why Do Cats Jump on Counters?

Cats keep a short list of reasons for jumping up on kitchen counters written on a small piece of paper folded nicely and placed in their vest pocket. Unfortunately, most cats forget to wear their vest on a daily basis. The ones who remember to wear their vest typically have butlers that dry clean their clothing for them, so their owners never think to check the pocket for any secret lists. But we’ve managed to intercept a copy, and here it is.

Instinctual Love of Heights

By their very nature, cats are attracted to heights. They are natural born climbers, and if there’s something in your house that looks like it can be scaled, your cat is probably going to give it a shot. There’s not much you can do to stop them either.

A cat’s love of heights comes from the fact that he typically hunts for his food. A cat can survey a larger area if he’s perched up high than he can when he’s crouching in the tall grass. A high lookout post also prevents predators from attacking or sneaking up on a cat, keeping them safe. As a result, cats tend to seek out high spaces for the associated feeling of security they provide. Also, cats probably just like to feel superior to their human owners. 

Interesting / Delicious Stuff

There are a lot of interesting items on your countertop, including food and small items that your cat would love to bat around. Delicious foods may be enough to tempt even the most well-behaved cat into jumping up onto your kitchen counter. There may be other items up there that are especially interesting to cats, including spice bottle, utensils, and other small things that a cat would love to bat around like an artificial mouse.

Access to Fresh Water

Cats love running water. In the wild, a cat would never drink out of a stagnant puddle formed in the mud. They would find a stream or spring, drinking from a source of running water.

While this may be simply because running water tastes better, it also serves to protect a cat’s health, as stagnant water is much more likely to contain bacteria or insects that may cause illness. This is why it’s so important to keep your cat’s water dish clean and to change the water regularly.

If your kitchen counter is connected to a sink, your cat is probably going to want to check that sink out. Whether he’s lapping up the remaining drops on the sink basin floor after you’ve just rinsed the dishes or drinking greedily from a leaking faucet, your cat is probably going to show your kitchen sink more interest than an ordinary bowl of stagnant water. And he’s going to need to hop up onto your kitchen counter to do it.

Boredom / Attention

Maybe your cat is just bored, so he’s jumping up onto the counter looking for excitement. This may be excitement in the form of exploring the countertop surfaces, or it may be excitement derived in the frantic response the jump elicits in you, the owner.

Cats can very easily confuse our responses to their unwanted behavior as invitations to play. Cats regularly play fight with one another, so for you to quickly pick a cat up and set them on the ground after they’ve jumped up onto the kitchen counter may be construed as a play fight initiation. Your cat may be jumping up on the counter to get you to pay attention to them or to play with them.

How Do I Keep My Cat off of the Counter?

Try the methods listed below the next time your cat gets in the way while you’re chopping up some salmon:

1. Start Early

Don’t let your cat get into the habit of getting onto the counter before working to correct the behavior. The sooner you choose to confront your cat about the situation, the easier it will be to correct the behavior. This means refusing to pet your cat or award them with affection whenever they jump onto the kitchen counter, no matter how difficult that may seem. 

2. Keep Your Counters Clean

Don’t leave any spare food out on the counter. Make sure to put away any small objects, especially sharp knives that may potentially hurt your cat. If your counters are full of little trinkets and scraps of food, your cat may confuse these items for toys and snacks. But if your counters are empty, your cat will probably get bored with them pretty quickly.

3. Give Your Cat Climbing Alternatives

Cats are gonna climb, and there’s not much you can do to stop them. Why not give them something that they’re allowed to climb all over? Provide your cat with climbing alternatives such as cat trees and other types of cat furniture and he will be less interested in climbing onto your kitchen counters.

4. Use Commercial Repellants

There are a number of commercial repellents available that can be used to keep your cat out of areas where you don’t want him to be. These repellents can be useful if you have a particularly determined cat who is unfazed by some of the other methods proposed on this list.

Here are a couple of commercial repellents that work well for keeping cats off of kitchen counters:

 SENTRY Stop That! For Cats

 

PetSafe SSSCAT Spray Pet Deterrent

5. Evaluate Your Cat’s Feeding Schedule

Hungry cats are much more likely to show interest in the food on your counters, especially during meal preparation. If your cat tends to jump up on your counter while you’re preparing dinner, consider feeding your cat right before you start cooking. Your cat will be too distracted with his own meal to bother you while you prepare yours.

Once your cat finishes eating, he’ll probably groom himself and take a nap. This gives you plenty of time to finish fixing your meal without any interruptions from your cat.

6. Provide Sufficient Entertainment

Make sure your cat has plenty of toys and other things to keep him busy. Also, make sure you’re spending plenty of time playing with him. A cat that jumps up onto counters may just be looking for attention from you, or trying to get you to play with him. Try to beat him to the counter jump, playing with him beforehand and tiring him out so he’s less inclined to get onto your counters.

If your cat is not particularly interested in toys, consider getting him a food puzzle. If your cat is still interested in food that may be stored on your kitchen counter, a food puzzle may be enough to keep him entertained while resting on an acceptable surface, such as the floor.

7. Restrict Access

If your cat simply cannot resist the smell of food while you’re cooking, you may need keep him out of the kitchen during meal preparation. This may mean shutting the doors, or enclosing your cat in another room temporarily.

Once you have finished your work in the kitchen and cleaned off your counters, you can let your cat back in. If your cat is only interested in your food, then he should have lost interest in the kitchen counters once the food has been put away.

8. Use Positive Reinforcement

Reward your cat whenever you observe him jumping up onto cat furniture in lieu of the kitchen counters. Use treats and affection, giving your cat plenty of pets. Your cat will begin to associate his behavior with treats and will do it automatically, abandoning his previous fascination with your countertops.

Orange cat sitting on a kitchen counter

White kitchen sink interior

9. Modify the Counter Surface

Modify the surface of the counter using a material that your cat hates to walk on. Examples including aluminum foil, double-sided tape, or plastic matting. Ideally, the surface should be modified as close to the counter edge as possible. This way the modified surface is the first thing your cat comes into contact with when he tries to jump onto the counter. If he dislikes the surface, he will jump down immediately.

Aluminum foil is a good option since it is cheap and accessible, but it doesn’t look very nice. Plastic mats work well since they are easily cleanable and are less ugly than aluminum foil. Double-sided tape placed on the outer perimeter of the counter also works well, but make sure to choose a brand that won’t leave a residue and won’t tear off part of your counter. You may want to test out the tape on a part of the counter that is not usually visible before using the tape across the entire countertop.

10. Don’t Resort to Punishment

Don’t try to punish your cat. Negative reinforcement is not an effective training method. Avoid using a spray bottle, yelling at your cat, or tossing your cat off the counter angrily. All of these things will just scare and confuse your cat, and they will not address the behavior effectively. 

Deep Cat Questions – Why Do Cats Meow?

Cat meowing loudly

There’s nothing quite like the sound of a cat’s meow. With just one seemingly simple vocalization, cats are able to convey a whole range of emotions to their owners, including hunger, fear, or just a simple desire to be noticed. But where did this behavior come from, and why do cats do it?

The Origin of Meowing

Kittens begin meowing very shortly after birth. They use meowing as a way of getting their mother’s attention, signaling their presence so that the mother can keep tabs on each member of her litter. They also use it to indicate when they are hungry, allowing the mother cat to respond by feeding them.

Interestingly, meowing and similar vocalizations, such as purring, are common among newborns from a variety of wildcat species. However, only domesticated cats (Felis catus) retain this behavior into adulthood. This is an example of a phenomenon known as neoteny. We discussed this phenomenon in our article about kneading, another behavior that wildcats abandon as kittens but that adult domestic cats keep doing over the course of their lives.

While cats meow at people with varying frequency, they don’t usually meow at each other in a friendly manner. Cats use a variety of other vocalizations to communicate with one another, including yowls, hisses, and growls, but they refrain from using the variety of casual meows that we as humans are used to hearing. Cats typically only meow at each other out of immediacy, such as when they are in a confrontation with one another or when they are play fighting and one cat begins biting the other a little bit too hard.

Human Interpretation of Cat Meows

Meowing can seem complex language between cats and humans. Cats use meows to communicate a variety of needs and desires, and it’s up to their human owners to decipher their specific meaning. Fortunately, this process is not as difficult as it sounds, and cats are able to get their message across pretty effectively.

Most cat owners can tell the difference between a “let’s play” meow, an “I’m hungry” meow, and a “well, hello” meow. Cats use meows to let us know when they want us to open a door for them, feed them, play with them, pick them up, give them a treat, scratch them, scoop their litter box, and a litany of other tasks. Or, they may also use meows to let us know that they’ve witnessed a murder. It depends on the situation.

Since cats aren’t learning English anytime soon, this is their most effective way of getting us to pay attention to them and to do what they want. Cats constantly signal their presence by meowing at humans, perhaps as a way of avoiding getting stepped on or kicked by mistake since they sit below a human’s normal eye level.

Cat Conversations

In 2015, researchers from the UK published a study that evaluated how humans respond to cat meows and how well we are able to tell what our cat is trying to indicate based on the meow alone. The study found that cat owners are able to predict the context of their cat’s meows slightly more than chance would predict. However, individuals were not able to predict the context of the meows of other, unidentified cats.

In other words, we can get good at figuring out what our own cat means when she meows, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to other cats. Other cats may meow differently than ours under an identical context. You need to have familiarity with a cat to be able to decipher the intent behind her meows.

Types of Cat Meows and Their Meanings

Cats are able to adjust the tonality of their meow to indicate different things. They can adjust the pitch, volume, and frequency of their meows to match the intensity of their need and their current emotional state. A cat that hasn’t been fed in a while may meow intensely, frequently, and at a high pitch. On the other hand, a cat that would just like a few scratches on the back may meow much more casually at a lower pitch, indicating that the need to be filled is not quite as urgent.

The following list is far from exhaustive, but we’ve tried to assemble some of the most common meows that cats typically make.

Hunger / Feeding Meows

Cat owners are very familiar with the sound of a cat begging for food. Here’s an example of a young cat meowing in anticipation of being fed:

 

As a cat’s hunger and desire to be fed increases, the pitch, volume, and frequency of their meows will increase as well.

Casual Greeting Meows

Many cats will meow when their owner enters a room after a period of absence. They may also meow upon entering a room. As far as we can tell, the purpose of these meows is simply to get a human’s attention and to make them known of the cat’s presence. These meows often blur into other cat vocalizations, including trills and purrs. The common thread behind these meows is that they are delivered with a low frequency, moderate volume, and at a moderate pitch, indicating the lack of a sense of urgency.

Here’s an example of a cat meowing casually as a greeting to their owner:

 

Fear / Anger / Pain Meows

Cats meow aggressively whenever they feel threatened, upset, or hurt. These types of meows are often very easy to identify by their screeching, piercing tone, high volume, and rapid frequency. They’re usually combined with other vocalizations, including growling, hissing, and spitting/snorting.  

Here is a compilation of angry cat sounds (WARNING: Be careful playing the sound from this video over your computer speakers if your cat is around. He may respond as though there’s an angry cat in the room and become angry and defensive himself):

 

Invitation to Play Meows

Cats will also meow at their owners when they are ready to play or when they are craving affection. These meows are similar to those exhibited as a casual greeting or when demanding to be fed. They tend to be lower in tone and can vary in frequency.

Here is an example of a cat meowing as an invitation to give them some scratches:

 

Loneliness/Anxiety Meows

Sometimes, a cat may meow out of loneliness. This is especially true for cats who have been left alone for an extended period of time. These types of meows are common during the middle of the night, especially among younger cats. Since they are still full of energy but their owner is asleep, they may feel as though they are alone and begin meowing for companionship.

Here is an example of a cat meowing out of loneliness:

 

How Much Meowing is Too Much?

Cats are like people: some of them are noisier than others. You may be the owner of a particularly chatty cat, or a very quiet cat that rarely meows audibly. Factors that may impact the frequency and tonality of your cat’s meow include breed, anatomy, environment, andpersonality.

Cat meowing behaviors can change over time as your cat ages or goes through lifestyle changes. I have personally experienced cat meowing behaviors changing with age and environmental conditions. My household cat growing up, Rocket, meowed infrequently until she passed the age of ten. In her old age, she became much more vocal, meowing casually as a greeting and whenever she was hungry and ready to be fed.

My current cat, Hunter, also experienced something similar. He spent his entire life with another companion cat, Keanu, who was the loudmouth of the pair. Unfortunately, Keanu was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2016 and had to be put to sleep shortly thereafter. After Keanu’s passing, Hunter gradually became more vocal, taking on the role of meowing in anticipation of feeding that Keanu used to fill. He also delivers far more casual greeting meows than he used to when Keanu was around.

Impact of Breed on Frequency of Meowing

Cat “talkativeness” also varies based on breed. As a rule of thumb, short-haired breeds tend to be a bit noisier than long-haired breeds. Of course, breed alone does not determine how often a cat will meow. There are plenty of examples of noisy long-haired breeds and quiet short-haired breeds. Here is a list of cat breeds that are known to be traditionally quiet or talkative:

  • Quiet Cats:  Persians, Blue Chartreux, Russian Blue, Norwegian Forest Cat, Bengals, British Shorthairs
  • Talkative Cats: Siamese, Oriental Shorthairs, Burmese, Tonkinese, Japanese Bobtail, Sphinx
Potential Health Issues That May Result in Frequent Meowing

While some cats may meow frequently just to hear the sounds of their own voices, as a cat owner you should be on the lookout for any changes to your cat’s usual meowing patterns. There are several medical conditions which may cause your cat to meow more frequently than normal, including:

  • Deafness: In the same way that a human who is going deaf will begin speaking more loudly, a cat who is going deaf will begin meowing more loudly
  • Feline Alzheimer’s: Cats may begin meowing if they become confused or disoriented as a result of cognitive impairment.
  • Separation Anxiety: Cats will meow when they are lonely
  • Thyroid, Kidney, or Heart Disorders: Each of these conditions may cause increased vocalizations

Cats may also experience increased hunger or thirst as a result of an ailment, or they may be in physical pain. Each of these symptoms may cause a cat to meow more frequently.

If you are concerned about your cat’s meowing frequency, you should bring them to a vet immediately. This is especially true if you have noticed a recent change in your cat’s typical meowing patterns. Cats can suffer from laryngitis if they meow too frequently, as may be the case if they are in pain or distress. Keep in mind that many cats meow frequently by nature, including healthy, playful kittens and cats that are adapting to new environments or recent changes to their lifestyle. Still, if you have a concern, ask your veterinarian to take a look.

Meowing at Night

Sometimes, cats will engage in frequent midnight meow sessions. Even worse, these “midnight” sessions actually occur closer to 4 AM. There are a number of reasons why cats do this.

Instinct

Cats are instinctually programmed to hunt in the early, pre-dawn morning. It’s cooler, allowing them to expend energy and recover more quickly than they would in the afternoon heat. This is also when they’re typically starting to get pretty hungry if they haven’t eaten for a while. A cat that wants to hunt but can’t may meow in frustration.

Hunger

A hungry cat will meow as a way of getting its owner to feed him. If your cat is meowing for their early morning meal at 4 AM, you may want to consider giving them a later feeding time the evening beforehand.

Recent Change in Lifestyle

If you just moved to a new location, got a new pet, lost a long-time pet, or have instituted some other major lifestyle change, your cat may respond with night meowing.

Should I Meow Back?

Many cat owners talk to their cats. In fact, we tend to adopt certain patterns and types of speech when addressing our cat, similar to the way we may speak to a baby or small child. We tend to speak more musically and with a higher pitch when talking to cats than when speaking with other humans. But little is currently known about the vocal interactions between humans and cats and their associated impact on cat vocalizations.

In 2016, a research team in Sweden received funding to complete a study that focuses entirely on the vocal exchanges that occur between humans and cats. The project, entitled “Meowsic,” aims to evaluate melody in human-cat communication. They plan on observing how cats and humans use prosody, or patterns of rhythm, tone, and sound, when communicating with one another. This study will help us understand the complexities behind human-feline communications.

Other Cat Vocalizations

Meows are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cat vocalizations. It’s difficult to talk about meowing without discussing the other sounds that cats make. This is because meowing often blends into other vocalizations, making it difficult to distinguish between the two.

Chatter

The most common place to hear a cat chatter is on a windowsill. Cats typically only chatter when potential prey is in sight, usually a bird. Chattering resembles the sound a bird makes. There are a number of theories as to why cats chatter, but the prevailing reasons are: anticipation of a hunt, frustration, or excitement.

 

Trill / Chirrup / Murmur

Trilling (or chirruping) is a mix between a purr and a meow. Cats usually do it when they’re in a good mood, and they use it as a casual greet or an invitation to scratch or play. Unlike meowing, cats do not trill to get attention.

 

Growl /  Snarl

Cats growl or snarl if they feel threatened. It is usually a precursor to aggression, and it is used as a warning that a cat is about to attack. Be careful around a growling cat. Cats may growl out of territorial possessiveness, irritation, anger, or fear.

 

Hiss

Like growling, cats hiss when they are feeling upset or threatened. Always observe caution around a hissing cat.

 

Caterwaul

Caterwauling is a sound that resembles howling or wailing. There are a few reasons why a cat may make a caterwaul noise, including a desire to breed (if the cat is not spayed or neutered), pain, or fear. Caterwauling and yowling are very similar, but caterwauling has the distinction of being associated with breeding.

 

Purr

Cats purr whenever they’re feeling happy and content. Purring is another example of neoteny, and it is only rarely observed among wildcats. Purring can also signal that a cat is in extreme pain or distress, so be aware if you notice your cat purring much more than usual. Typically, though, a purring cat is a happy cat.

 

Yowl

Cats yowl when they are feeling lonely or upset. The yowl is another common vocalization among cats that are preparing to be aggressive.

 

 

KittyTwister Trio Cat Litter Box Review

KittyTwister Trio sifting cat litter box

Litter box issues are among the most common behavior concerns among cat owners. If a cat is adopted from a shelter, the shelter may have provided some rudimentary litter training. However, as soon as you bring your cat home for the first time, it’s up to you to make sure she knows where the litter box is and how to use it. But that’s not where the litter training should stop.

It’s up to you to pay attention to how your cat seems to respond to the litter and litter box you’ve selected. Do they seem happy and content using it, or do they bolt out of it as soon as they’re done, leaving their waste unburied? Do they seem to purposefully avoid the litter box at all costs, even if it’s clean? 

Speaking of a clean litter box, how much effort do you have to put into keeping your litter box clean? While selecting a litter that works great for your cat is essential, choosing a litter box that works in your favor is equally as crucial. A poor litter box design means that your cat will be more skittish about using the box, leading to more accidents. A bad litter box design may also mean poor ventilation, leading to litter clumping problems.

Choosing a Litter Box

So, what should you look for when selecting a litter box? Here are a few ideas for starters:

Critical Considerations
  • Is it difficult to scoop used litter out of the box?
  • Does it contain corners or crevices that a scoop can’t reach?
  • Is it sized appropriately for your cat?
  • Are the sides too low or too high for your cat?
  • Is it covered? Covered litter boxes are typically not a great idea.
  • Does it feel strong and durable? Ideally, it should be constructed out of heavy duty plastic
  • Is it easy to enter and exit?
  • Does your cat hate it? If so, pick another box.

Ideally, your litter box should work for you, right? It should be a breeze for your cat to use, it shouldn’t smell terrible, and it should make the whole cleaning process easier on both you and your cat. So if a litter box was designed to help make cleaning easier without all of the complexity of a fully automatic self-cleaning model (i.e. the Cat Genie), why wouldn’t you want to give it a try?

Today we’re going to be discussing a litter box that attempts to be your personal litter assistant:  The KittyTwister Trio!

KittyTwister Trio Cat Litter Box

Specifications
  • Material:  PP / PE Plastic
  • Interior Diameter: 18 in.
  • Height: 19 in.
  • Overall Dimensions: 19.8 x 19.8 x 19 in.
  • Weight: 8.3 lbs.
Description

The KittyTwister Trio Cat Litter Box, designed by Haspi Products, looks a bit like a small barrel, but the kind of small barrel you might find in an Apple store. It’s glossy white and contains a hole on its outer surface for your cat to enter.

The KittyTwister Trio contains three pieces: The top tray, the bottom tray, and the litter sifter. The top and bottom trays are identical and can be used interchangeably. This will be an important thing to remember when we discuss the cleaning process.

The pièce de résistance of the KittyTwister is its sifting tray. The sifting tray sits suspended in the litter, which is contained in the bottom tray. Your cat goes to the bathroom in the litter above the sifting tray. Whenever you go to clean the litter box out, you simply pick up the sifter to remove the clumped waste, twist it to shake off any excess litter (hence the name, KittyTwister), and remove the waste. Then you can replace the sifter and start all over again!

If you’re not interested in the sifting tray, Haspi Products also makes an identical version of the Trio that leaves the sifting tray out. It’s basically just a circular, covered litter box, and it’s called the KittyTwister Duo. But for now, we’re going to focus on the Trio, sifting tray and all.

Here’s a video to show you how the KittyTwister Trio works:

Assessment

 

Design

Although the makers of the KittyTwister Trio brag about its size, it ends up feeling a little claustrophobic due to its circular shape. The bottom tray is deep, and a large volume of litter is needed to make sure that the litter level is high enough above not only the bottom tray, but also the sifting tray which sits above it. Overall, the circular shape does not maximize the efficiency of the space it occupies. 

The biggest advantage of the KittyTwister Trio is the distance it maintains between you and the litter during the changing process. The size of the box and the height of the walls give you quite a comfortable buffer of space to separate you from your cat’s waste. This may be ideal for cat owners who are a bit more squeamish when it comes to scooping a litter box with a small scooper.

Unfortunately, not all of your cat’s waste will be caught by the sifting tray. Some of it will pass through, failing to clump immediately. Urine, for example, may not clump in the upper layers of the litter. Instead, it may collect in the lower layers, below the sifter, and form a clump there over time. As a result, you may need to scoop out the bottom of the box from time to time. The difficulty of this process is compounded by the box’s circular shape, which makes it difficult to remove clumps collected around the edges.

Covered vs. Uncovered Litter Boxes

Under most circumstances, a covered litter box is a bad idea. Unfortunately, the KittyTwister Trio does not earn the right to be an exception to this rule. Covered litter boxes have limited ventilation, leading to a host of problems, including poor litter clumping and odor containment. For your cat, a covered litter box is analogous to a poorly-maintained Port-a-John in people world. As a result, cats don’t like them too much.

Another problem with covered litter boxes is that they don’t allow cats the opportunity to survey their surroundings while they’re doing their business. Going to the bathroom puts a cat in a very vulnerable position, and cats in the wild prefer to have a full range of vision to keep an eye out for attackers while going to the bathroom. 

A covered litter box operates counter to your cat’s instinctual desire for an open field of vision, leaving your cat isolated in a small, confined area where they may feel vulnerable to attack. Giving the litter box only one exit / entrance may make your cat extremely nervous. This may cause your cat to avoid the litter box altogether, or to quickly flee it as soon as they are done going to the bathroom, leaving their waste uncovered.

While the default configuration of the KittyTwister Trio is with both the top and bottom trays attached, you also have the option of just using the bottom and sifting trays. This is preferable since it will allow for better clumping of the litter, which will translate into improved performance of the sifting tray. 

Ease of Use

In theory, the KittyTwister is easy to use. You simply pop off the top tray whenever you want to clean the box, pick up the sifting tray, twist, dump, and replace.

However, you can’t just put the top back on. Instead, you need to use the top tray as the bottom tray for the clean box. You can then place the sifting tray in the the empty bottom tray and dump your clean litter over it, using the old bottom tray as the new top tray. Confusing, right? It’s actually not so bad, once you’ve done it a couple of times.

While the cleaning process seems to take advantage of the litter box’s unique design, it is cumbersome in practice. It can be difficult to transfer the waste from the sifting tray to a trash can without spilling extra pieces of litter all over the floor. You almost always end up making a mess during the process, which means you have to clean up afterwards. This adds additional time to the cleaning process, which is a bad thing considering the box is supposed to be saving you time on cleaning. Also, since the KittyTwister Trio is large, the bottom tray can be pretty heavy when it’s full of litter. This can make it difficult to pour the litter over the sifting tray and into the empty bottom tray after a cleaning.

The plastic latches that secure the top and bottom trays together are somewhat difficult to fasten. They take a little getting used to, but are fairly easy to use once you have become familiar with how they operate.

Quality and Durability

The KittyTwister Trio is manufactured entirely out of plastic. Fortunately, the plastic is fairly heavy duty. It does not feel easily breakable, and it is capable of handling the rough toll that litter (and your cat) will place on it. However, while the plastic is strong and durable, the KittyTwister Trio gets handled a bit more roughly than a typical litter box. This is a byproduct of its cleaning process. As a result, the high strength plastic is essential to make sure the box can hold up through several cleanings.

Value

The current price of the KittyTwister as of October, 2018, is just a smidge under $90. Of course, prices are subject to change. But at its current price, the KittyTwister does not present a fantastic value. It’s a fairly high price to pay for a plastic container. It will be interesting to see if this box goes on sale for a heavily reduced price in the future.

The KittyTwister Trio is also larger than the average litter box. As a result, it takes more litter to fill it. Since the litter will still need to be changed occasionally, this means that you’re going to end up using more litter with this box than you would with a standard model.

Pros:
  • Consolidates the litter scooping process
  • Keeps you further away from the litter during cleaning
  • Appears sleek and modern
  • Outperforms other sifting litter boxes
Cons:
  • Covered litter box
  • Users more litter
  • Poorer ventilation, leading to internal odor and poorer clumping
  • Small opening size and overall claustrophobic feeling, making it bad for large cats
  • Makes a mess during cleanings
  • Complicated cleaning process
  • Circular shape, making it difficult to scoop pieces of waste that fall through the sifter

Final Verdict

Based on our assessment, the KittyTwister Trio scores a 6.0 / 10.0. Truthfully, there are better litter boxes out there for your money. If the KittyTwister shape is really your thing or the idea of twisting a big bowl to clean your cat’s litter sounds fun to you, by all means, give the KittyTwister Trio a spin. But most people may be better off going with something a bit more basic.

The 6 Best Automatic Cat Feeders [2018 Buyer’s Guide]

PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder

If you own a cat, there’s a pretty good chance your cat has woken you up to beg for food on at least one occasion. A hungry cat doesn’t care if you’re supposed to get a couple extra hours of sleep on Saturday morning. He knows when his food comes, and if it’s late, he’s going to let you know about it.

Cats crave regularity. Keeping your cat on a regular feeding schedule has a ton of benefits. If your cat gets fed according to a set schedule, he’s way less likely to beg you to feed him. This means fewer morning wake-up calls, fewer coincidental strolls in front of the TV, and fewer items swatted off of tables. Controlling your cat’s feeding time also can help control when they nap, since cats tend to take pretty heavy naps following a meal. Feeding your cat at night before you go to bed can help your cat sleep while you sleep. Plus, scheduled feeding can help you manage your cat’s weight more effectively by maintaining set portions.

For many of us, maintaining a regular feeding schedule for our cat can be a challenge since our own schedules are full of irregularity. That’s where an automatic cat feeder can be a huge help.

Reasons for Using an Automatic Feeder
  • Allows you to leave your cat unattended for a bit
  • Lets you feed your cat at regular times even if work keeps you out of the house during irregular hours
  • Allows you to manage feeding of multiple cats, feeding different foods to different cats at different times
  • In multi-pet homes, prevents food stealing from other pets
  • Prevents your cat from eating all of his food too quickly
  • Keeps you cat’s food fresh right up until the moment it’s served
Critical Considerations When Choosing an Automatic Feeder
  • Wet vs. Dry: Most models can handle dry food, but only a few can handle wet food
  • Size: Make sure the feeder is capable of handling the kibble size of your cat’s favorite foods. If your cat likes a food with large kibble chunks, make sure to keep this in mind when choosing a feeder
  • Capacity: How much can your feeder hold?
  • Timer: Can you program exactly when feeding occurs?
  • Ease of Use: How hard is it to program the feeder?
  • Power: Is it battery powered or do you need to plug it in?

 

The 6 Best Automatic Cat Feeders of 2018

We’ve assembled a list of the six best automatic cat feeders that are currently on the market in 2018. We plan on keeping this list updated as new models are released, so stay posted!

6. Super Feeder Automatic Cat Feeder CSF-3

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 11 x 10 x 15 in.
  • Weight: 5 lbs
  • Power: AC Adapter
  • Wet Food Compatible?: No
  • Dry Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Capacity: 4.75 cups
Description

The Super Feeder Automatic Cat Feeder (developed by Super Feeder) has a much more mechanical looking design than the other feeders on this list. It doesn’t hold quite as much as some of the other feeders, but it also has some pretty unique features. It can even be connected to a home automation system such as Alexa.

By default, the Super Feeder is equipped to hold up to 4.75 cups of dry food. However, you can purchase an extension that increases the feeder’s storage capacity. Food is kept safely within the chamber using a polycarbonate lid. It works best with kibbles that are 0.25” in diameter.

The Super Feeder does not give you the option to operate it using batteries. This may be a problem if your cat’s feeding area is in an area where there are no convenient power outlets.

One of the biggest downsides of the Super Feeder is that it cannot be programmed digitally. Instead, you have to use a separate analog timer piece that plugs into your wall outlet. However, the use of the analog timer gives you the ability to program up to 48 feedings per day. That’s way more feedings than you should ever need, but it’s nice to know you have that kind of flexibility.

>> Check it out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value: 7
  • Design: 6
  • Quality & Durability: 7
  • Special Features: 7
  • Easy of Use: 7
Final Rating:  6.2 / 10.0

 

5.  WOpet 7L Pet Feeder

 

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 13.7 x 9.8 x 15.3 in.
  • Weight: 6 lbs
  • Power: 3 D Batteries or AC Adapter
  • Wet Food Compatible?: No
  • Dry Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Capacity: 7 L
Description

The WOpet 7L Pet Feeder has the highest capacity of any of the feeders on our list. This feeder gives you the option of setting the volume of food to be dispensed at a feeding. You can choose a portion size ranging from 2 teaspoons to up to 4.5 cups. The feeder lets you choose what times during the day it should release food. You can set it to provide up to four meals per day.

The WOpet also gives you the option of recording a custom message to play whenever your cat’s food is released. It comes with a built in microphone and lets you record up to 10 seconds, so feel free to be creative.

The capacity of the WOpet feeder is one of its nicest features. Additionally, the feeding tray is dishwasher safe, and you can remove the food storage container for easy cleaning.

>> Check it out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value: 8
  • Design: 7
  • Quality & Durability: 6
  • Special Features: 7
  • Easy of Use: 7
Final Rating:  7.0 / 10.0

 

4HoneyGuaridan A26 Automatic Pet Feeder

 

Specifications
  • Weight: 4.3 lbs
  • Power: 3 D Batteries or AC Adapter
  • Wet Food Compatible?: No
  • Dry Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Capacity: 12 cups
Description

The HoneyGuaridan A26 Automatic Pet Feeder is one of the coolest looking feeders on our list, resembling a small robot. This feeder, developed by HoneyGuaridan, allows you to program in your cat’s portion size, giving you the option of setting a meal size anywhere from 1/32 cup to 4 cups.

The dispenser on the HoneyGuaridan feeder has a twist lock to prevent your cat from prying it open and stealing all of the food. You can program it to feed your cat up to six times per day. It also comes with an infrared sensor that is used to detect the amount of food in the bowl at any given time. If the sensor detects that the bowl is full, it will stop dispensing until the level of the food in the bowl drops.

Check out this video to learn more about how the HoneyGuaridan works:

 

Like the WOpet feeder which also appears on this list, the HoneyGuaridan feeder lets you record a custom greeting to play each time your cat is fed. The built in recorder gives you up to 12 seconds of recording time.

The HoneyGuaridan feeder is not equipped to handle food larger than 0.39” x 0.39”, making it unsuitable for larger kibble sizes. It comes with a one-year warranty.

>> Check it out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value: 7
  • Design: 8
  • Quality & Durability: 6
  • Special Features: 7
  • Easy of Use: 7
Final Rating:  7.0 / 10.0

 

3.  PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 15 x 5 x 18 in.
  • Weight: 3.28 lbs
  • Power: 4 D Batteries
  • Wet Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Dry Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Capacity: Approx. 5 x 1-cup compartments
Description

If you’re looking for a bargain automatic feeder, the PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder should definitely be your go-to. Developed by PetSafe, it’s easily the cheapest automatic feeder on this list, and it costs less than half the price of the next cheapest feeder. That being said, it also has a lot very positive feedback from tons of satisfied customers. If your cat doesn’t need all the bells and whistles of a fancier feeder, then PetSafe 5-Meal feeder may be perfect for you.

As the name suggests, the PetSafe 5-Meal feeder can hold up to five meals at once. Unfortunately, one of those meals is going to be exposed to your pet as soon as the feeder is set up, meaning that, in reality, you can automatically feed your cat four meals in addition to one manual feeding. On the plus side, it’s wet food compatible, and it’s dishwasher safe.

The PetSafe 5-Meal feeder is fully programmable and allows you to select what time each meal is made available to your cat. You can program the feeder for up to four meals within a single day or for a single meal delivered at the same time on four consecutive days.

One word of caution regarding this feeder: if your cat is particularly motivated, he may be able to force the feeder to advance with his paw. However, for most cats, the feeder is strong enough to prevent your cat from forcing the bowl to advance.

Considering how much less expensive it is than the other feeders on this list, the PetSafe 5-Meal feeder is pretty slick. It gives you just enough flexibility to allow you to regiment your cat’s feeding schedule without crushing your wallet. 

>> Check it out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value: 9
  • Design: 8
  • Quality & Durability: 7
  • Special Features: 5
  • Easy of Use: 9
Final Rating:  7.6 / 10.0

 

2.  SureFeed Microchip Feeder

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 12.6 x 9.1 x 7.9 in.
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Power: 4 C Batteries
  • Wet Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Dry Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Capacity: Approx. 0.5 oz (14.8 mL)
Description

The SureFeed Microchip Feeder, developed by Sure Petcare,  is unlike any other feeder on this list. It interacts with an RFID chip installed on your cat’s collar. Whenever a cat sticks his head through the entrance ring mounted on the front end of the feeder, the feeder automatically scans the cat’s RFID chip.

Using data that has been programmed into the feeder based on your specific cat’s RFID chip, the feeder will open automatically, letting your cat have his dinner. If your cat’s RFID chip does not match the feeder’s programming, the food chamber stays shut. This feeder is perfect for households with multiple cats, especially if one cat is on a restricted diet or is taking a prescription food. The feeder “knows” which cat is trying to eat food at any given time, allowing it to prevent your cats from stealing each others food.

 

You can either use a pre-existing microchip that has been implanted in your cat, or you can use a microchip embedded in a collar that comes with the feeder. In total, the SureFeed is capable of holding data for up to 32 different pets.

One of the downsides of the SureChip feeder is that it has a pretty small capacity. Some of the other feeders on this list are definitely more appropriate if you want your feeder to operate for several meals. However, the SureChip feeder is wet-food compatible, which gives it a large advantage.

The SureFeed isn’t cheap, but at least it comes with a 3-year warranty. It’s also the only feeder on the market that uses RFID technology to identify specific cats and respond accordingly, making it worthy of its price tag.

>> Check it out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value: 6
  • Design: 9
  • Quality & Durability: 9
  • Special Features: 9
  • Easy of Use: 8
Final Rating:  8.2 / 10.0

 

1.  PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder

 

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 20.3 x 9.4 x 5.65 in.
  • Weight: 5.65 lbs
  • Power: 4 D Batteries or AC Adapter
  • Wet Food Compatible?: No
  • Dry Food Compatible?: Yes
  • Capacity: 24 cups
Description

The PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder is a cat feeder for the 21st century. It’s jam-packed with ultra-modern features and capabilities. Plus it also holds a large amount of food, so it can be used for an extended period of time.

Check out this video for a brief introduction to the PetSafe Smart Feed feeder.

 

The PetSafe Smart Feed feeder includes a Slow Feed option that gradually dispenses food over a 15 minute period. This is perfect if you have a cat like mine that tends to eat too quickly whenever he’s particularly hungry. This reduces the chance that your cat may throw up after eating too quickly. 

You can program this feeder to provide up to 12 meals per day, ranging in size from ⅛ cup to 4 cups per meal. Food is stored in a hopper with a locking lid and is deposited into the bowl via a cat-proof dispenser to prevent your cat from fishing out extra food. The feeder’s lid, hopper, bowl, and bowl holder area all dishwasher safe.

One of the coolest features of the PetSafe Smart Feed feeder is that it can send you alerts to let it know whenever it has completed a feeding. You can program it by connecting it to your phone using Wi-Fi. Be aware, though, that Wi-Fi is required to program the feeder. If a Wi-Fi signal is lost after it has been programmed, you may not receive alerts, but your cat will still be fed as programmed.

The PetSafe Smart Feed feeder is a bit more expensive than your average automatic feeder. Fortunately, it boasts more unique features than any of the other feeders on our list, making it well worth the price.

>> Check it out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value: 6
  • Design: 10
  • Quality & Durability: 9
  • Special Features: 10
  • Easy of Use: 8
Final Rating:  8.6 / 10.0

 

Final Verdict

Based on our assessment, the PetSafe Smart Feed Automatic Dog and Cat Feeder  (8.6 / 10.0) is the best feeder on the market right now. It’s a little pricey for some, which makes PetSafe’s other offering, the PetSafe 5-Meal Pet Feeder (7.6 / 10.0), a great alternative for the budget-conscious. If you have a multi-cat household and you’re struggling with keeping your cats from eating each other’s food, the SureFeed Microchip Feeder (8.2 / 10.0) may make your life easier. If you really want to greet your pet with a recording, the WOpet 7L Pet Feeder (7.0 / 10.0) or the HoneyGuaridan A26 Automatic Pet Feeder (7.0 / 10.0) will make a fine choice. And the Super Feeder Automatic Cat Feeder (6.2 / 10.0) will be your best bet if you need to schedule several very small feedings throughout the day.

The 5 Best Soft Sided Cat Carriers [2018]

PetLuv "Happy Cat" Premium Cat Carrier

Taking your cat on a trip can be a stressful experience. Unless your kitty is unusually bold or is a seasoned travel veteran, she’s probably not going to be super thrilled about the whole “trip” thing. Especially if there are vehicles involved. Cats typically don’t like carriers, and traveling around to unfamiliar locations with lots of strange smells and sounds will put most cats in a bad state of mind. The last thing you need to be worrying about in this situation is whether or not your cat’s carrier is going to hold up.

Having a solid carrier that you can trust makes every travel experience with your cat ten times easier on both of you. But picking a carrier can be tricky. There are hundreds of options floating around on the internet, and most of them look like junk.

Choosing a Carrier

When deciding which carrier will work best for you and your cat, make sure to consider a backpack carrier. A backpack carrier lets you distribute your cats weight over your back and keeps you from having to use too much arm strength while carrying your cat around. That being said, backpack carriers are not for everyone. If you’re set on a handheld carrier, you’re going to need to decide whether you want hard or soft sides.

Hard or Soft?

Picking between hard and soft sided carriers boils down to storage, weight, and cat comfort. Most soft carriers are collapsable, making them easy to store under a bed or in a closet. Hard carriers require more storage space, and they are typically heavier than soft carriers. Also, a hard carrier may also require the addition of some blankets or pads to make it more hospitable to your kitty, while many soft carriers have matting built in. Hard sided carriers are a bit easier to clean up, but they’re also bulky and awkward to carry around. Plus, most soft sided carriers are washable.

A hard carrier may be worth looking into if your cat is on the heavy side or if you are planning on transporting multiple cats together. But if you’re looking for a lightweight, flexible carrier that’s easy to store and that will keep your cat comfortable, a soft sided carrier is the way to go.

To help make your cat carrier selection process a little easier, we’ve assembled five of the best soft sided carriers on Amazon that we could find. Enjoy!

Critical Features of a Soft Sided Cat Carrier 

Here are some of the most important features we looked for when choosing which carriers to include on this list and how to assess them:

  • Includes a Shoulder Strap and Hand Straps
  • Interior Leash Tether
  • Side and Top Loading Options
  • Within the Carry-on Size Guidelines of Most Major Airlines
  • Constructed of Strong, Durable, Waterproof Material
  • Good Value
  • Holds its Shape
  • Easily Storable
  • Well Ventilated
  • Provides a Comfortable Space For Your Cat

 

Best Soft Sided Cat Carriers

 

5. Pet Magasin Soft Sided Pet Travel Carrier

Specifications 
  • Dimensions: 18” x 11” x 10”
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece interior base
Description 

We included Pet Magasin’s Lambo Backpack Carrier as part of our 5 Best Backpack Carriers list, but their soft sided character is an entirely different animal. While the Lambo was designed to provide your cat with ample space, the Pet Magasin soft sided carrier is much more compact. This carrier is better suited for small cats and kittens than larger adult cats. 

The Pet Magasin has a unique appearance compared to several other characters. However, this comes at the sacrifice of more space for your cat to stretch out in. This shape also makes the carrier somewhat awkward to carry.

The carrier is supported by a wire frame that keeps it from collapsing in on itself. It folds up tightly for easy storage when not in use. There’s one mesh pocket on the back side of the carrier, but no zippered pockets.

One of the features that the Pet Magasin carrier is lacking is the inclusion of a removal fleece pad on the carrier bottom. Having a removable bottom pad makes cleanup after a trip much easier. The Pet Magasin still has a padded floor though, so it’s certainly not going to be an uncomfortable ride for your cat. It’s just a bit less luxurious than fleece.

Check out this video from the folks at Pet Magasin:

>>Check it Out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value:  9
  • Design:  5
  • Strength & Durability:  6
  • Comfort:  6
Final Rating:  6.5 / 10.0

 

4.  Pawfect Pets Soft-Sided Pet Travel Carrier

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 17.5” x 10” x 11”
  • Weight: 2.67 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece padded mats
Description 

The Pawfect Pets Travel Carrier is perfect for a bunch of different of cat travel applications, ranging from a quick trip to the vet to a cross-country flight. Like most of the carriers on this list, the Pawfect Pets carrier is designed for use as an airplane carry-on and is within the size limits for most major airlines. 

The Pawfect Pets carrier is made of reinforced polyester with mesh panels on all four sides of the carrier and its roof. Each of the side openings and the top opening can be used for loading and unloading your cat into the carrier. A zipper pocket is mounted on the long side of the carrier for storage of treats, food, or other small items. There is also a quick access opening on the side of the carrier so that you can comfort your cat with some pets or slip her a quick treat.

You can carry the Pawfect Pets carrier using either the padded shoulder strap or handles. The carrier also includes a name tag for identification of your pet while traveling via airplane.

The zippers on the carrier contain small buckles, allowing you to fasten zippers together to prevent your cat from getting out. There are seat belt buckles located on the outside of the carrier, allowing you to strap your cat in while she’s riding with you in the car.

The carrier includes two removable fleece mats that can be placed on its bottom, giving your cat a comfortable surface to lie down on during trips. These mats are hand washable, so you can clean them if your pet gets a little scared and has an accident during your trip. Plus, the entire carrier is collapsable for convenient storage.

One of the downsides of the Pawfect Pets carrier is that it is only suitable for small cats under 17”. However, this is one of the drawbacks of getting a carrier that is suitable for use as a carry-on. It dramatically limits the amount of space you can give your cat.

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value:  8
  • Design:  6 
  • Strength & Durability:  7
  • Comfort:  8
Final Rating:  7.25 / 10.0

 

3.  Mr. Peanut’s Airline Approved Soft Sided Pet Carrier

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 18” x 10.5” x 11”
  • Weight: 2.9 lbs
  • Material: Oxford 900D polyester and mesh with fleece padded mats
Description 

Mr. Peanut’s Soft Sided carrier isn’t going to impress anyone with its unique appearance, but it certainly gets the job done when it comes to transporting your cat. It’s constructed of waterproof materials, and it includes mesh paneling on all four sides and the top for ventilation. Within the carrier is a fleece pad for you cat to lie down on during travel. The pad is removable for easy washing.

In a lot of ways, this carrier is very similar to the Pawfect Pets carrier. The two look very similar in terms of design, but Mr. Peanut’s carrier includes some additional features. The carrier is still top-loadable, but you also have the option of zipping closed a cloth panel over the loading area to keep your cat out of direct sunlight. The straps and trim also have a faux-leather material, making them a bit more stylish than the Pawfect Pets carrier.

Mr. Peanut’s carrier comes with a shoulder strap, padded hand straps, interior leash strap, ID tag, and metal locking clasps on the zippers to make sure the carrier stays closed at all times during travel. It also includes a side pocket for storage of treats, leashes, or other goodies, and it has seatbelt straps so that it can be stabilized in a car seat. It has a capacity of up to 14 lbs. 

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value:  8
  • Design:  7
  • Strength & Durability:  7
  • Comfort:  8
Final Rating:  7.5 / 10.0

 

2.  Pet Peppy Expandable Pet Carrier

 

Specifications 
  • Dimensions: 18” x 11” x 11”
  • Weight: 3.09 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece interior base
Description

This carrier is pretty awesome! One of the coolest features of the Pet Peppy carrier is its ability to expand laterally using two extendable panels. Each of the panels folds down accordion style, giving your cat some extra room to lie down whenever you’re stationary. This carrier is a very good option for larger cats, especially for owners who plan on taking their cat on occasional airplane rides. Most cat carriers are designed to meet requirements for carry-ons on most major airlines. As a result, carrier size options are pretty limited. This is one of the few options available that gives your cat some extra room to spread out but still can be brought on board a commercial airplane.

The Pet Peppy carrier includes an internal leash clasp, top and side loading capabilities, plenty of mesh panels for ventilation, and pockets for storing treats. It features self-locking zippers, but no buckles or latches that allow you to fasten your zippers together. It comes with a shoulder strap and padded hand straps, but it also includes a fabric side strap that lets you strap the carrier onto a rolling suitcase. As an added bonus, the Pet Peppy carrier comes with a collapsible plastic bowl so that you can give your cat a quick drink during your trip.

The Pet Peppy carrier folds down to a very small size when not in use. This requires separate storage of the fleece pad, but it allows the carrier to be compressed for convenient storage.

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value:  8
  • Design:  8
  • Strength & Durability:  8
  • Comfort:  7
Final Rating:  7.75 / 10.0

 

1.  PetLuv “Happy Cat” Premium Cat Carrier

 

Specifications
  • Dimensions: 20″ x 13″ x 13″ (Small)
    • NOTE:  Also available in Large size (24″ x 16″ x 16″)
  • Weight: 8.7 lbs
  • Material: Polyester and mesh with fleece interior base
Description

The PetLuv “Happy Cat” Premium Cat Carrier is a different breed of carrier than the others on this list. Rather than complying with major airline requirements for use as a carry-on during flights, the PetLuv carrier is designed for spaciousness, making this the ideal carrier for trips that don’t involve an airport. You can actually choose between two different sizes for this carrier (Small and Large), making it perfect for accommodating larger felines. The Small carrier can hold cats up to 15 lbs, while the Large is capable of holding cats up to 25 lbs.

The PetLuv carrier has multiple roll-down panels on its sides and top, allowing you to provide your cat with varying degrees of privacy. You can leave the panels full open when the carrier is safe at home, or you can roll down the closed mesh panels to give your cat a window to the outside world during trips. Finally, you can pull down the solid cloth panels when your cat to give your cat some privacy during stressful trips.  It’s supported by a strong steel frame, but it’s fully collapsable and can be folded flat for storage. It gives you both top and side loading capabilities, and it includes an adjustable padded shoulder strap.

The carrier design includes seat belt loops, allowing you to strap it into your car. The interior polyester pillow that comes with this carrier is very nice, and your cat will love it. It’s both removable and washable, making post-trip cleanup a breeze.

>> Check it Out on Amazon!

Ratings
  • Value:  7
  • Design:  9
  • Strength & Durability:  10
  • Comfort:  9
Final Rating:  8.75 / 10.0

 

Final Verdict 

Based on an evaluation of overall carrier value, design, strength, and comfort, we’ve determined that the PetLuv “Happy Cat” Carrier is the best carrier on the market right now! This carrier works great for most people since it has plenty of space and is very well built. However, if you plan on taking your cat on a lot of airplane rides, you may want to consider one of the other options on our list, especially the Pet Peppy Carrier. It’s compact enough for most major airlines, but you can expand it whenever you’re on the ground to give your cat some extra leg room. Hopefully these tips will help you as you decide which carrier is perfect for your cat.

Deep Cat Questions – Why Do Cats Knead?

A kitten named Milton kneading a blanket

Nothing is quite as soothing as the sight of a kneading cat. Cats like to knead before they go to sleep, and they seem to have a pretty nice time doing it. They’re usually wearing a blissful, half-asleep expression, and sometimes their eyes are fully closed. They may even be drooling a little bit.

But have you ever stopped and wondered why cats knead? It’s a very strange behavior, and it doesn’t seem to have any clear purpose. Maybe they’re trying to soften up a space before they lie in it? Maybe their stretching out their paws before bed? Maybe they just like the feeling of digging their claws into something soft? 

What Does it Look Like When a Cat Kneads?

Before we get started, it’s extremely important that we all know what kneading looks like. I advise that you drop everything you are doing immediately and watch the following, er, educational video to get a solid, academic understanding of what cat kneading looks like:

Feel free to watch that a few times to really let it sink in.

Feel smarter? Good.  I knew the only reason you clicked on this article was in the hope that there would be a 2-minute video of non-stop cat kneading. Now that we’ve cleared that up, we may proceed.

Why Do Cats Knead?

When kittens are first born, their only source of nutrition is their mother’s milk. They are still blind and deaf, and they rely heavily on their other senses to survive. This includes their sense of touch. During nursing, newborn kittens gather around their mother and begin pressing on the mother’s teats to stimulate milk production. They churn their paws back and forth, extending and retracting their claws. This is their first introduction to the kneading process, and they are able to do it before they learn to hear or see. Kittens will continue to knead throughout the weening process. But they don’t stop there. Instead, they continue kneading well into their adult lives.

The theory that kneading is an instinctual behavior related to stimulation of milk production during kittenhood makes sense, but why would cats continue kneading long after they have stopped relying on their mother for food? Why wouldn’t they just grow out of it if it serves no function to an adult cat?

According to researchers, one of the side effects of domestication of cats is the persistence of juvenile, or “kitten-like,” behaviors. Wild cats tend to abandon juvenile behaviors as they mature into adulthood. Domestic cats, however, hang onto them, and many behaviors that domestic cats learn as kittens persist throughout their entire adult lives. The retention of juvenile behaviors into adulthood is known as neoteny, and it’s not just observed in cats. A variety of other domesticated animal species, including dogs and horses, exhibit varying degrees of neoteny as well.

A cat kneading a blanket

Photo courtesy of Rich More on Flickr

Examples of Neoteny in Cats

Examples of other juvenile behaviors that domesticated cats retain into adulthood include:

  • Friendliness towards other species: Kittens can be trained to be friendly with birds, dogs, and even squirrels well into adulthood, even though they would normally become mortal enemies with these species in the wild.
  • Meowing: Wildcats meow as kittens, but rarely meow as adults.
  • Greeting you calmly with a tail facing straight up: This gesture is typically only done by wildcat kittens when greeting their mother. Wildcats drop this behavior as they enter adulthood, but adult domesticated cats continue using it as a friendly greeting.
  • Kitten-like physical features, such as big eyes: In some cases, species of cats have been bred by humans to retain kitten-like features. For example, Scottish Folds have large eyes, and their folded ears are very similar to the ears of a kitten.

In a natural environment, behaviors and characteristics such as these may leave a wildcat vulnerable to attack by an enemy. But in a domesticated environment, your cat can continue to exhibit them without any fear of repercussion.

So, the next time someone asks you why cats knead, you can answer them in one word: neoteny!

What Does it Mean When My Adult Cat Kneads?

Cats tend to knead when they are on very soft surfaces that may resemble a mother cat’s belly. Also, kneading is very often a precursor to sleep. After feeding from their mother, kittens typically go right to sleep. There is a very high probability that cats use kneading as a sort of pre-sleep ritual, and the process itself makes them tired since their sense memory links the motion to the post-feeding sleepiness they experienced as kittens.

Cats seem to use kneading as a means of showing affection towards their owners and other people they like. It’s a behavior they would never do to a person they don’t trust, since it places them in a very vulnerable position. It’s their way of saying, “hey, you remind me of my mother, and that makes me feel good!” So the next time a cat kneads on you, remember that they’re just being friendly and try to ignore their claws digging in to your thigh.

Kneading probably feels pretty good to the cat too. Similar to the way a cat seems to associate purring with a feeling of contentedness, cats seem to associate kneading with a feeling of safety, security, and general well-being. It also gives them a chance to stretch out their muscles, which can help them relax before settling down for a quick (or long) nap.

Some cats may even get a little bit carried away when kneading. Several cats are known to drool during the process. It’s very cute to think about them becoming so blissed out while they’re kneading that they just start to drool in ecstasy, like a kitty-cat version of Homer Simpson.

A cat kneading a blanket

Photo courtesy of Johanna on Flickr.

What Do You Call a Cat Kneading?

No no, that’s not the start of a joke. People have quite a few names for cat kneading. Here’s a list of some of the more common ones:

  • Making Biscuits
  • Making Muffins
  • Making Bread
  • Happy Paws
  • Tenderizing
  • Paw Paddling

Have any other names for cat kneading? Leave them in the comments!