Butt dragging

legs. Simply put, the animal’s anus itches terribly, and she doesn’t have fingers to scratch it. The itching is caused by worms, so your cat requires medicine, administered either by you or your vet. (But by all means, get your camcorder out while the cat is still dragging, for it makes a great video.)

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“Honest as the cat”

Some people hate cats because of their habit of snitching meat—and “meat” might also include pet birds and fish. Well, why not? To a cat, if the meat is available, it is there to be eaten, even if you had intended to have it for your supper.

Essentially, no cat can be trusted if meat is within reach. Hence the old proverb about someone who is “honest as the cat when the meat is out of reach.” In other words, that person can be trusted only when there is nothing around to tempt him.

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Cat meets skunk

Wild skunks are the most easygoing, amiable animals in the world. They can afford to be, for they don’t need to bite or scratch their enemies, since their malodorous spray is excellent protection. Occasionally a cat gets sprayed by a skunk, and removing the smell is no picnic.

First the cat needs a good water bath (which most of them will resist tooth and nail), then a good thorough soaking in either milk or tomato juice, which needs to stay on the coat for at least ten minutes before being rinsed with water.

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Cat massage

Massage is very “in” these days, with people sometimes paying high prices for the supposed benefits of getting a relaxing massage from a professional. Humans have a way of pushing their trends onto their pets, of course, so there are books explaining the “right” way to massage your cat.

The less trendy among us are more inclined to do what people have done for centuries: rubbing and stroking our cats without giving a thought to “technique” just being aware that the cats enjoy it tremendously, and so do we.

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Some good ole chemical additives

food, including vitamins and minerals. Some people are fussy about such things, not even wanting additives in their pets’ food. But pet food manufacturers haven’t been shy about adding nutritional supplements to cat food.

One amino acid that has been added to most cat food since the 1980s is taurine, which has been found useful in preventing blindness and heart disease. As time goes by and we learn more about animal nutrition, it is likely that more additives will be found in pet foods.

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Bowl and collar technology

If you have more than one cat in your home, you may be aware of the problems of feeding them: one cat may hog the food, one may insist on eating before the others, they may (because of age differences or other factors) require different types of food and so on.

In past times, owners worked out their own ways of dealing with these problems, but, of course, the pet product manufacturers have come up with their own clever high-tech solutions. One is a food bowl that links up electronically with a special collar worn by the cats you don’t want eating from that bowl. If a cat wearing the collar nears the bowl, the bowl emits a tone that makes the cat skedaddle. (Are human beings clever, or what?)

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The lactose problem

milk. The end result (pardon the pun) is usually diarrhea, for either the person or the cat.

This needs to be kept in mind by doting cat owners who like to reward their pets with milk or cream, which all cats love. Most cats have no persoalan at all with milk, but owners who notice a milk-diarrhea connection ought to do the obvious thing and cut back or eliminate the milk they give to their pets.

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The dreaded hairball!

digestive tract.

Some cats never get them (my own hasn’t—knock on wood); some cats get them rarely and vomit them up with no harm to themselves (though perhaps some harm to your upholstery or carpet). The reason owners need to monitor hairballs is that occasionally they can lead to serious digestive problems, sometimes requiring surgery. Pet store shelves are well stocked with hairball preventatives, and most of the pet food manufacturers now market certain foods as “hairball preventers.”

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“Cat on a hot tin roof”

The playwright Tennessee Williams immortalized this phrase in the title of one of his dramas, even though the cat in his play was a woman, not an actual cat. The meaning of the phrase is obvious enough: an extremely uncomfortable or unpleasant situation. A cat on a hot tin roof would not be able to stand still for more than a second.

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Chatoyancy

Here’s a fancy French word, and if you know that chat is French for “cat,” you may have a clue what chatoyancy means: “shining like a cat’s eye.” The word refers to a quality of certain gemstones, not only cat’s-eye but moonstone and many others.

Something that is chatoyant possesses a changeable luster and has a narrow band of white light. If you change the position of the stone, the band of light seems to move across the surface.

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“Rusting” of black cats

black car, you know it isn’t going to stay very sleek if you leave it outside where it will experience all kinds of weather. In effect the same thing happens to black cats, specifically the long-haired ones. If exposed to the elements—including sunlight—a longhaired black cat’s fur tends to “rust”—not literally the rust that forms on iron, but the effect is the same in that the cat’s hair turns a kind of reddish-brown. It’s bound to happen to any black longhair who spends a lot of time outdoors. Needless to say, folks who exhibit their pets in cat shows are fussy about keeping black longhairs indoors and away from too much sun.

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