Balancing Style & Purrspective

By Daniel “DQ” Quagliozzi

Your home is a sacred place for both you and your cats. It’s where you retreat, recharge and relax. If you’re a cat person, it means so much more. Let’s face it, some of us are home a lot. So, why not create an environment that exemplifies your style, keeps your stuff organized and allows your cats to share the same space with you, while still calling it their own? It can be done….even in your tiny apartment!

I think most people are hesitant to add cat furniture to their homes, because the choices we are used to are bleak and unattractive. I mean, beige on beige carpet is cool and all, but we’re living in modern times. We ARE doing so much better with cat enrichment and design. You just have to take the time to create the design. Manifest the vision. It’s meow or never.

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My consult in Mountain View with my clients, Sean & Bonnie and their cats, Dudley, Xena & Clyde was a total blast! I just had to feature their catification project on my blog, because I think it really combines aesthetic style, attention to comfort, cat logistics and just straight up consideration for the happiness of their cats. Virtually every nook and cranny in this house has thoughtful cat enrichment of some kind, paying extra attention to scent soaked areas like scratch pads, posts and perches.

Using Kate Benjamin & Jackson Galaxy’s book, “Catify to Satisfy” as a guide, the preferences of each cat to get up off the ground and into the mix have been embraced and catered to with modern elegance and kitsch. They added cabinets and shelves to areas that had the most social significance, like home offices, workshops and of course, the living room and bedroom areas.

Check out their hard work below. Most of the cabinets are Ikea models and the climbing pole was DIY, based on the book referenced above.

Does Your Senior Cat Really Want to Live with a Kitten?

When Animals Go Mad!!!

I am super excited to announce the release of a truly amazing and inspiring book that aligns with my own philosophies about animal emotion and how we interpret it as humans Today, ANIMAL MADNESS, by Laurel Braitman is available to the world. It was an honor to contribute to this book and the hilarious trailer that you see above. My cat Cubby even makes an appearance. Grab a copy on Amazon or wherever badass animal behavior books are sold.

“Acknowledging parallels between human and other animal mental health is a bit like recognizing capacities for language, tool use, and culture in other creatures. That is, it’s a blow to the idea that humans are the only animals to feel or express emotion in complex and surprising ways. It is also anthropomorphic, the projection of human emotions, characteristics, and desires onto nonhuman beings or things. We can choose, though, to anthropomorphize well and, by doing so, make more accurate interpretations of animals’ behavior and emotional lives. Instead of self-centered projection, anthropomorphism can be a recognition of bits and pieces of our human selves in other animals and vice versa.” ~ Laurel Braitman

 

Velcro kitties: Tips for 9 to 5 guardians with over-attached cats

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For those of us lucky enough to be working these days, a nine to five gig is a blessing, but for our housebound feline room mates, this time of the day can be downright traumatic. The consequence of forming a tight and routine bond with our animals can often be displayed as anxiety when we leave the inner sanctum and decide to leave for the day.

Cats are solitary by nature. They can get along just fine without the company of another cat, although there are many exceptions to the rule. While maintaining a life of independence, they tend to bond strongly with their human caretakers, even when they are paired off. After all, we are EVERYTHING to them! Humans are the providers of love, conversation, physical comfort, food, water and interactive play. Another cat simply can not provide this.

How do you know if your cat is stuck to you like Velcro? My guess is…. you won’t even have to ask this question!

Signs Of Feline Separation Anxiety

  • Over-attachment to the owner such as following the person to every room of the house (heal chasing).

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    • Distress as the owner prepares to depart: This can take many forms, but some of the more common reactions are meowing, sulking, apparent depression, slinking away and hiding. (No, seriously it’s true!)cat-kitten-cute-picture-photo-meow-closeup
    • Vocalization (crying, yowling, meowing) right after the owner has left or even when you are sleeping.
    • Anorexia – the affected cat is often too anxious to eat when left alone.
    • Inappropriate elimination – often in the form of urine marking. Deposits of urine or feces are often near to the door from which the owner has departed or are on that person’s clothing, bed sheets, or places like bath mats, rugs and behind or under furniture.

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    • Excessive self-grooming. This starts as a displacement behavior but can progress to compulsive self-grooming if unchecked.

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    • Destructive behavior – rare, but some cats may claw and scratch door edges presumably in an attempt to escape their solitude. This can also happen while you are sleeping to get you to wake up and give them attention.
  • Exuberant greeting behavior – as if greeting you after you left on a long vacation. ( Where have you been ?!?!?!)

Here come the solutions!

Enriching the cat’s “home alone” environment is the key to success! This can be achieved by means of:

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Giving the cat a view of the outside world! Add climbing structures, cat trees, open windows with screens.

Strategically position bird feeders near the windows with a view.

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Leave toys all over the house and change it up every now and again. The same defeated mouse that your cat played with two days ago is no longer a challenge. Hide toys in creative places like the peek-a-boo box above.

Putting the day’s ration of dry food in a puzzle toy will keep your cat focused on eating instead of your absence. Although cats with separation anxiety tend not to eat when left alone, hunger is a great motivator when other sources (YOU) are no longer available. Some caveats apply if cats refuse to eat for more than a day or so. Consult your local vet if this turns out to be the case and try to work out some kind of compromise. It can get tricky.

Leave the radio on. The “white noise” effect of the radio drowns out the otherwise perturbing sound of silence. We find that classical music has positive effects on loneliness.

If behavior modification by independence training and environmental enrichment do not work it may be necessary to resort to anti-anxiety medication for the cat for a while. Consult with a veterinarian about the use of drugs like Prozac to help calm an anxious kitty.

Ok, Now go to work and rest assured that kitty is not making long distance calls, ordering pizza or rearranging your apartment while you are away.