Cat FAQs

Feline Diseases to be Aware of:

FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus. It is a slow growing  lente virus and typically causes a weakening of the cats’ immune system.

FIV is spread through deep bites or mating.

Kittens that test positive for FIV are almost always false positives. It is merely the antibodies they are carrying from the mother cat. Kittens should be retested at four to six months. You can usually tell about how old a kitten is by its weight-an average of one pound per month of age.

Generally, we don’t recommend vaccinations against FIV. Once a cat has this vaccine, it will test positive for FIV- even though it has only been vaccinated. Currently there are no markers on the vaccine to differentiate between having been vaccinated and the actual condition. If the cat ever ends up at a shelter and is tested for FIV, it may be killed because it will show positive for FIV.

If a kitten or an adult cat is truly positive, it can go on to live an essentially normal life with a normal or near normal life span. FIV cats are immune suppressed so any health issues should be immediately addressed. Special attention should be paid to their dentition and oral care.

Cats with FIV that are sterilized and do not bite can live together with remote chance of transmission. At Shadow Cats, our non FIV cats and our FIV cats have lived together for over a decade without cross transmission.

“Untested colonies pose no more risks to companion animals than do free-roaming pet cats. There is a common perception that feral cats have a higher rate of FeLV and FIV than do pets. Our research on more than 1,000 feral and pet cats in California and North Carolina, and published research in the veterinary literature show that this is not true. In reality, it is unneutered cats that wander, fight, and reproduce that are most likely to spread these diseases, regardless of whether they are in feral colonies or in private homes.”  Julie K. Levy, DVM, PhD, Diplomate ACVIM

Courtesy of Alley Cat Allies

Rabies is an acute viral infection of the central nervous system.
Rabies viruses can infect most mammals, and are usually spread when saliva from a rabid animal enters the body via a mucous membrane, a puncture wound, or open cut. Once inside the body, the virus travels from the initial point of contact to the nerves, spinal cord, and, finally, the brain. The incubation period between exposure to the virus and onset of symptoms for humans can last for months, and as long as treatment begins before symptoms arise rabies can be completely prevented. However, once symptoms begin, the disease nearly always turns fatal.

Cases of human rabies are exceedingly rare in the U.S.
Over the last decade, the U.S. has averaged one or two cases per year, and wildlife account for the majority of exposures. Only one human rabies case was reported in 2007. Wildlife is the most common source of human exposure.

People most often contract rabies via a bite of a rabid animal.
Rabies is transmitted through the saliva or brain tissue of an infected animal, and this happens most often via the bite of a rabid animal. Infected saliva must enter an open wound or mucous membrane to transmit the virus. Surveillance statistics show that bats are now the number one source of rabies exposure in the U.S., followed by raccoons, skunks, and foxes. “Wildlife is the biggest source of rabies in the U.S.,” says Susan Dicks, DVM, a private practitioner in Albuquerque who also has wildlife experience. In fact, more than 90% of rabies cases occur in wildlife.

Feral cats do not spread rabies.
The last confirmed cat to human transmission of rabies occurred more than 30 years ago. While it’s possible for feral cats to become infected with rabies, feral cat colonies themselves do not generally serve as a source of the disease. “We see rabies more often in raccoons and bats than in the cat population,” says Roberta Lillich, DVM, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
Rabies is caused by a virus that comes in several different varieties, some of which are specially adapted to specific animal species. For instance, dogs can develop canine rabies, and this canine rabies variant can thrive in unvaccinated dog populations, which in turn may serve as an ongoing source of rabies in a community. But rabies has never developed a specific feline variant, and thus cats are merely incidental victims, says Julie Levy, DVM, PhD, at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Cat behavior may explain why rabies is relatively uncommon in felines, says Lillich. “Skunks and raccoons are major sources of rabies, and most cats who are faced with a challenge by a skunk or raccoon will run away, whereas a dog is more likely to attack,” she says. When faced with non-prey animals, “cats are generally defensive animals rather than offensive animals,” Lillich says, and the small rodents such as squirrels, chipmunks, rats, mice and rabbits that feral cats may hunt are rarely infected with rabies. Feral cat colonies managed with Trap-Neuter-Return programs do not harbor rabies, because vaccinations are proven to protect them from the disease for multiple years.

The rabies vaccine has helped to make rabies a public health victory.
“The rabies vaccine has been one of the big public health successes of the past 50 years,” says Dicks. Studies show that rabies vaccines induce a long-lasting immunity, and widespread immunization campaigns, education programs, and state and local laws have come close to eliminating the disease in cats and dogs. The fact that wildlife, not domestic cats and dogs, now serve as the prime sources of rabies exposure in the U.S. is proof that vaccination programs work. “Rabies will never be controlled or eliminated in the U.S. until effective programs to eradicate rabies in wildlife are carried out,” says Levy.

Rabies vaccines outlast their expiration dates.
“Even a single dose of rabies vaccination provides years of protection against rabies infection,” says Levy. In one study*, 12-week-old kittens given a single rabies vaccine were completely protected against rabies four years later when they were exposed to the rabies virus, she says. “There is solid evidence that a single rabies vaccine produces multi-year immunity.” (*Note: Alley Cat Allies is against testing on animals, as it is against all cruelty toward animals. There are better alternatives to animal testing—including mathematical and computer modeling or using cultures from cells, organs, or tissues—that are precise and sophisticated.)

Vaccination schedules that require one or three year boosters are based on state and local laws, not evidence about the vaccines’ efficacy, says Lillich. Most local laws require rabies vaccination either yearly or every three years and so vaccine manufacturers tailor their studies and products to these time periods. In fact, one vaccine manufacturer produces multiple versions of the identical vaccine with different labels according to the locally mandated vaccination schedules.
Studies suggest that the vaccines last a minimum of three years, but due to expense and logistics, large-scale studies have never been extended past three years, Lillich says. Some trials suggest that the vaccines last beyond three years, and the Rabies Challenge Fund (RCF) was founded in 2005 to determine the duration of immunity that rabies vaccines provide in hopes of convincing lawmakers to change laws mandating excessive vaccinations. The RCF aims to extend the required interval for rabies boosters to at least seven years.

A person bitten by a rabid animal can easily be treated to avoid contracting rabies.
Treatment for humans who have been exposed to the rabies virus, called post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP), is completely effective when begun before the onset of symptoms. The incubation period in humans generally lasts three to eight weeks, but can extend even longer if the infected bite occurred distant from the brain, for instance in a foot.

Rabies shots do not involve a bunch of painful shots in the stomach anymore.
While it’s true that rabies shots given after an exposure once consisted of numerous injections to the stomach, those days are long over. Today, rabies shots are given in the arm and are no more painful than a flu shot. The number of doses required has also changed. In June of 2009, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revised their guidelines to recommend a single dose of human rabies immune globulin followed by four booster shots, rather than the five boosters previously recommended.

Trap-Neuter-Return programs help control rabies.
By vaccinating feral cats against rabies, Trap-Neuter-Return programs, also known as TNR, prevent rabies from infecting feral cat colonies. Rabies vaccinations provide multi-year immunity, and since feral cats involved in TNR programs are vaccinated and therefore cannot acquire or transmit the virus, they pose no threats to humans or other animals.

Causes of inappropriate urination in cats:

Litter tray:

The first explanation is that the litter box is not being cleaned frequently enough. Remember that a cat’s sense of smell is about one thousand times greater than our own. Cats will not want to go near a litter box that smells offensive any more than we would want to use a filthy toilet. The litter box should be scooped out at least once a day and cleaned with soap and hot water at least once a week for a house with one cat. Do not use strong smelling detergents that may be too harsh on a cat’s nose. Rinsing with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water followed by air drying will help kill odor causing bacteria. Houses with multiple cats should have multiple litter boxes. A general rule of thumb is one litter tray per cat. Placement of the litter tray is also important. Just as humans like privacy, so do cats. Placing the litter tray in a busy area may result in your cat’s refusal to use the litter tray. Also, some cats will enjoy the privacy of a fully covered litter tray, while this may be too confining for other cats. Generally I prefer to have a combination of both trays to suit my cat’s different preferences.

Another thing to remember is that cats do not like to go to the toilet near where they eat. So make sure the litter box is placed far from your cat’s food and water.


Stress is another major cause of inappropriate urination in cats. Factors causing stress in cats can be moving house, the introduction of a new family member (pet or human), a neighbour’s cat roaming your garden etc. Helping your cat overcome these stresses may well result in the inappropriate urination stopping, however this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the behavior can become so ingrained in the cat that even once the stress has been removed, the behavior continues. If this is the case it is a good idea to seek advice from your veterinarian as to how to re-train your cat. Some cat owners have had great success using Rescue Remedy on their cats, although this isn’t advisable until you have spoken to your vet.

Of course, there are other reasons that a cat may urinate in an improper place. ”Spraying” when a cat sprays urine on a vertical surface, is a way that cats communicate with other cats. What they are essentially doing is marking their territory. Therefore it is very important to clean these ”marked” areas properly with an enzymatic cleaner that will remove every trace of urine scent (see our article on removing cat urine odors). Cats will continue to spray over areas that have already been marked with urine. This marking behavior is found most common in male cats, although female cats have been known to spray also. Neutering your cat should greatly reduce the spraying problem. You may also want to use a spray-on cat repellent in the areas most frequently marked by your cat.


Declawing sometimes leads to refusal to use a litter box. Often the cat’s paws are tender and scratching around in cat litter can lead to pain and discomfort. In this case it is advisable to find a softer litter which is less harsh on your cat’s feet.

Medical problems:

There are several conditions that can lead to inappropriate urination in cats. These include;

  • Bladder stones
  • Bladder tumor
  • Cystitis

How to deal with a cat urinating inappropriately:

If you do catch your cat urinating in an inappropriate spot, quickly move the cat and gently place him in the litter tray. Never use physical punishment on your cat, this will make your cat afraid of you and may well make the behavior worse as it will stress the cat further.

Confining your cat to a small room such as the laundry can often help matters. Once your cat is using the litter tray, gradually increase the area.

Make sure litter trays are cleaned regularly and there are enough trays for the number of cats. As a rule of thumb, you should have one tray per cat, plus one tray extra. So, if you have two cats, you should have three trays. Understandably, not every home can accommodate lots of trays. If you are limited in how many trays you can have, make sure you remove solids and urine several times a day, and fully empty/disinfect at least once a week.


Please bear in mind that as the cat ages the frequency of inappropriate urination may increase. Conditions such as arthritis may make it painful to enter and exit the litter tray, especially if it has high sides. Poor eyesight, dementia and incontinence may also be contributing factors. Again, if it is always best to seek advice from your veterinarian on these matters as he/she will be able to best advise you on how to help your cat in old age.

More Information

It is a crime to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:  Torture, cruelly kill, or cause serious injury to any dog or cat, including strays and ferals. Kill, poison or causing bodily injury to an animal without the owner’s consent; Abandon or fail to provide food, water, care or shelter to any animal in your custody; or transport or confine an animal in a cruel manner. Read More

Responsibilities & Safety of Your Cat

There are many common worries that mothers-to-be who are also cat owners have. That initial feeling of panic, prompting some women to get rid of their cats, is not only misinformed and misguided but unnecessary and a great disservice to them and their cats. Read More Here.

Thank you for contacting Shadow Cats. If you are asking if we take in cats, we do not take cats in from the public -our mission is the trapping, sterilizing and releasing of free-roaming cats (TNR) and providing long term or hospice care to ill or injured cats as we have space available, but we can give you information and resources to help you find a solution.

You’ve made the decision to re-home your pet and now you need to start the process. First of all, give yourself plenty of time. Few reputable organizations can respond to you immediately.

There are not enough homes for all the cats we come across or are asked about. Therefore, the best chance for your cat is to remain with you. However, if that is not possible, consider these options:

Local No Kill sheltering options:

“The P.A.S.S. Program was created to help people help their pets to find new homes or to stay in their current homes. APA! works together with you to determine and implement the best solution for you and your pet. They offer advice and assistance with solving behavioral or medical issues, and limited assistance with rehoming your pet. If you have a question about a dog you adopted or want to adopt, go to their website or call 512-961-6519. The P.A.S.S. program is staffed solely by dedicated volunteers.”

For out of the area resources, contact the Best Friends Network.

Ask friends and neighbors if they can help you. Contact your veterinarian. You may be able to put up a flyer. Please remember to ask for an adoption fee and screen applicants to help ensure your cat gets a good home.

Contact your local humane shelters. In our area the shelters work closely with rescue organizations and maintain a list of rescue partners.

Contact Pet Supplies Plus, Petsmart, Petco, and other organizations that allow their stores to operate as venues for pet adoption. They will have a list of organizations that adopt animals through their stores.

After having identified the list of organizations you are going to consider you can start the process of evaluation. Not every organization is a reputable one nor does every organization have your pet’s best interest at heart. It is up to you to be the investigator and advocate for your pet. You are his only line of defense.
Make a list of the bullet points you want to ask or tell about.

Offer a donation. It WILL help. Most organizations operate on a shoe string and funding for any new animal often times hinges on funds to care for it. If they organization is a non profit, you may be able to consider it tax deductible (consult your tax advisor). Another option is to make a donation to their veterinarian of choice in your pets name for continued care.

If the organization accepts your pet, ask to visit the facility or foster home. If the person speaking to you becomes resistant or will not consider this, run, do not walk, away. Any reputable organization will allow you to see for yourself the environment the pet will live in. Ask to see other animals in their care. If they will not do this, you can pretty much be assured something is amiss.

Ask plenty of questions such as what veterinarian they use, about their adoption policies—do they allow declawing, outdoor homes, do they spay and neuter all animals prior to adoption, do they do home visits, etc. Ask to see their adoption application and contract.

Never meet someone at a public place to transfer your pet to them. Always deliver your pet to the shelter, facility or foster home and inspect the facility and the animals being cared for there.

Finally, verify they are truly No Kill. If your pet becomes sick or ill or stops eating, what is their policy and ability to provide veterinary care?

If you find an alternative to a rescue organization or a no kill shelter, such as a friend, friend of a friend, or a responder from an ad listing, screen thoroughly. Many of the considerations above will apply to individuals. Check their veterinary references.

Never advertise or give away “free to good home”. These ads are quick to attract animal predators. Many of these animals end up in research facilities, used as live bait or other adverse circumstances. The people that respond to these ads are often seemingly kind and compassionate. THIS IS THEIR JOB- they are con men and women- sometimes even bringing children along. These people make their living off the lives and suffering of animals.

Ask for an adoption fee. This may help against predators because they don’t want to pay for the animals as it cuts down on their profit margin. However, don’t let an adoption fee stand in the way of what you may know is an excellent home. Adoption fees have their place but they should not be the deciding factor in placing your companion.

There are many reputable organizations and individuals. There are also some that are not reputable or are in over their capability to care for the animals. Research each organization or each person fully before you make a final decision for your pet. You may be their last voice if you don’t.

Lastly, if there is any way you can responsibly keep your pet, please do. There are so many animals and too few homes. Please consider keeping your pet safe with you if at all possible.

Born Free USA is the source of this material and the following information has been reprinted with permission. All copyright is preserved.

There are many myths, misunderstandings, and strong opinions about declawing. If you are considering having this surgery done on your cat, or if your veterinarian has suggested it, please take a few minutes to learn about this major surgical procedure before you make a decision.

Declawing is not a routine surgery and should never be done as a “preventive.” Despite their reputation for independence, cats can readily be trained to use a scratching post instead of the sofa, curtains, or rugs. Using surgery to prevent or correct a behavioral problem is expedient, but it is not the wisest, kindest, or best solution for your cat. Your veterinarian has an obligation to educate you as to the nature of the procedure, the risks of anesthesia and surgery, and the potential for complications.

Why do people declaw their cats?

  • to protect furniture or other property
  • they don’t want to try to train the cat
  • their other cat is declawed
  • to stop the cat from scratching the
  • their friend’s or neighbor’s cat is declawed
  • they have always had declawed cats

Many people report that they are happier with their cats after declawing, because it makes the cats “better pets.” Unfortunately, many people have also discovered — too late — that declawing frequently causes far worse problems than it solves. There is no way to know ahead of time into which category your cat might fall! There are other ways to solve behavior problems than radical and irreversible surgery.

What is declawing?
Declawing itself is the amputation of each front toe at the first joint (hind foot declaws are not commonly done). This is equivalent to you losing the entire tip of every finger at the first knuckle. It is so excruciatingly painful that it was once used as a technique of torture, and even today it is used to test the effectiveness of pain medications. Recovery takes a few weeks, but even after the surgical wounds have healed, there may be other long-term physical and psychological effects.

Are claws important to a cat’s well-being?

Claws perform a number of functions for the cat. By scratching various surfaces, cats create a visual and scent identification mark for their territory. Claws provide psychological comfort through kneading, help the cat climb to safety or a secure vantage point, build strength, and help the cat fully stretch his back and legs. A declawed cat never again experiences the head-to-toe satisfaction of a full body stretch.

What are the potential complications of declawing?

  • Post-surgical complications. Lameness, abscesses, and claw regrowth can occur days or weeks or many years after surgery. In one study that followed cats for only 5 months after surgery, about 25% of cats developed complications from both declaw and tenectomy surgeries (digital tenectomy or tendonectomy is a procedure, sometimes promoted as an “alternative” to declaw, where the tendons that extend the toes are cut).
  • Pain. It is impossible to know how much chronic pain and suffering declawing causes. However, we can look at similar procedures in people. Almost all human amputees report “phantom” sensations from the amputated part, ranging from merely strange to extremely painful. Because declawing involves ten separate amputations, it is virtually certain that all declawed cats experience phantom pain in one or more toes. In humans, these sensations continue for life, and there is no physiological reason that this would not be true for cats. Cats typically conceal pain or illness until it becomes overwhelming. With chronic pain, it may be that they simply learn to live with it. Their behavior may appear normal, but a lack of overt signs of pain does not mean they are pain-free.
  •  Joint Stiffness. In declawed (and tenectomized) cats, the tendons that control the toe joints retract after the surgery, and over time these joints become essentially “frozen.” The toes can no longer be extended, but remain fully contracted for the lifetime of the cat. In cats that have been declawed for many years, these joints cannot be moved, even under deep anesthesia. The fact that most cats continue to “scratch” after they are declawed is often said to “prove” that the cat does not “miss” her claws. However, this could also be explained by the cat’s desperate desire to stretch those stiff, contracted joints.
  • Arthritis. Researchers have shown that, in the immediate post-operative period, newly declawed cats shift their body weight backward onto the large central pad of the front feet and off the toes. This effect was significant even when strong pain medication was given, and remained apparent for the duration of the study (up to 40 hours after surgery). If this altered gait persists over time, it would cause stress on the leg joints and spine, and could lead to damage and arthritic changes in multiple joints.
  • Litterbox Problems. Experts say that declawed cats have more litterbox problems than clawed cats. Not many people would choose urine-soaked carpeting (or floorboards, sofa cushions, drywall, bedding or mattresses) over scratch marks, but this is a distressingly common outcome. In one survey, 95% of calls about declawed cats related to litterbox problems, while only 46% of clawed cats had such problems — and most of those were older cats, many with physical ailments that accounted for the behavior. Some households with declawed cats have spent thousands of dollars to repair urine damage.
  • Biting. Some experts believe that naturally aggressive cats who are declawed are likely to become biters.
  • Death. There is always a small but real risk of death from any general anesthesia, as well as from hemorrhage or other surgical complications. Declawing that results in biting or inappropriate elimination may result in the cat being up locked in a basement, dumped at a shelter, or simply abandoned. If taken to shelters, such behaviors make them unadoptable, and they will be destroyed. Many cats are exiled to a life outdoors because of these unwanted behaviors, even though declawed cats should not be allowed outside — their ability to defend themselves, and to escape danger by climbing, is seriously impaired. They also risk injury or death by dogs, cars, coyotes, poison, and other hazards of outdoor life. It is unfortunately common to have outdoor cats stolen and used as live bait to train fighting dogs, or sold to laboratories or biological suppliers.

How can I stop unwanted scratching behavior without declawing?

Cats of any age can be trained not to scratch furniture or other objects — including people — although it is easier if the cat is trained as a kitten. Amazingly, many people do not even know that they should provide a scratching post for their cats. Because scratching is a deeply ingrained instinct in cats, if there is no appropriate spot, they will be forced to substitute furniture or other objects.

A vertical scratching post should be at least 28-36″ high to allow the cat to stretch to his full height. Many cats prefer natural soft wood, such as a cedar or redwood plank, or posts covered with sisal rope. Some cats like to scratch on a horizontal surface; inexpensive cardboard scratchers are popular with these cats. Rubbing the surface with catnip, or using a catnip spray, may enhance the attractiveness of the post. For the more adventurous types, there are cat trees in dozens of sizes and colors, with features such as hidey-holes, lounging platforms, hanging toys, and other creative amenities.

There are many other options as well, such as clear sticky strips to apply to the furniture, and other deterrents, as well as a multitude of climbing trees, mats, and other distractions that will protect your possessions. Adequate exercise, especially interactive play sessions, will also help channel kitty energy.

For aggressive scratching, conscientious nail-trimming or soft plastic caps for the claws (“Soft Paws”) are a good beginning. Remember, never play or roughhouse with your kitten or cat using your bare hands. You don’t want her to get the idea that biting or scratching human skin is okay. And while it’s fun to watch the kitten attack your wiggling toes under a blanket, when he’s 15 pounds with inch-long canine teeth, it’s not nearly as amusing. Serious aggression problems require assistance from your veterinarian or a professional behavior consultant.

Is LASER declawing okay?

Laser declawing causes less bleeding and swelling than other techniques. This reduces pain and complications in the first few days after surgery, but the long-term implications of the procedure remain the same.

Why did my veterinarian suggest declawing my cat?

Many veterinarians in the U.S. have become accustomed to performing the declawing procedure without thinking about — or recognizing — the consequences. Some even recommend routinely declawing kittens at the same time they are spayed or neutered, whether or not they have developed destructive scratching behavior. However, top U.S. veterinary behaviorists and the American Veterinary Medical Association agree that declawing should not even be considered until after all other options, such as training or deterrents, have been tried.

Who says declawing is a bad idea?

Declawing is illegal or considered inhumane in many countries around the world, including England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Since animal shelters and humane societies are prime dumping grounds for cats with behavior problems, they should have a realistic and practical view about whether declawing keeps cats in their homes, or creates worse difficulties. API surveyed major shelters and humane societies around the country about their policies on declawing. The American SPCA, Humane Society of the United States, Massachusetts SPCA, Denver Dumb Friends League, San Francisco SPCA, SPCA of Texas, F.L.O.C.K. (For Love of Cats and Kittens, Las Vegas, NV), the Animal Welfare League (the Midwest’s largest humane society, Chicago), and many others are firmly against declawing. Some will not even adopt a cat to a person who intends to declaw him. The SPCA of Los Angeles puts it in no uncertain terms: “We do NOT support, nor condone, the act of declawing cats. It is cruel, unnecessary, and inhumane.”

Last but not least . . .

There are a few individuals who will always declaw their cats. Their own convenience and the safety of their belongings is their top priority, and whether or not it causes suffering to the cat is not a significant concern. Fortunately, most people love their feline companions, and want to do what is best for all concerned. If you are one of these, please make the humane choice — do not declaw!

The Surgery

The cat is put under general anesthesia and the toes prepared with antiseptic soap. A tourniquet is placed on the cat’s leg just under the elbow and tightened to prevent excessive bleeding. In the scalpel technique, the surgeon grips the tip of the claw with a hemostat, and use the scalpel to carve out the third toe bone, cutting through the skin and severing skin, ligaments, tendons, nerves, and blood vessels. In the guillotine blade technique, a sterilized veterinary nail clipper is used to cut the tissues instead. A scalpel may be used to remove the last piece. The wound is then closed with sutures or surgical glue. Bandages are usually applied. While the veterinary profession is finally recognizing the need to control the severe post-operative pain that accompanies declawing, pain medications are not always provided.

Scratching Solutions

1) Scratching Post

Essential for every cat, providing the right surface to scratch is the key to living with claws. Contrary to the usual selection available at the pet store, those short little carpeted scratching posts are not very attractive to cats. A good scratching post is at least 3 feet high, to allow an adult cat to stretch completely. Sisal rope is often a better choice for covering than carpet. The post must be very sturdy and stable. If it wobbles, your cat won’t use it. Commercial posts may be expensive; but you can find plans for easy-to-make posts on the Internet or in many cat books. Don’t be too quick to re-cover or discard a shabby, well-worn post — that’s when they are most cat-attractive! Some cats prefer plain softwood; perhaps it most closely approximates the tree bark they would normally use in nature. A log, tree branch, or plank of 1 x 6 redwood may do the trick. Inexpensive cardboard scratchers that lie on the floor at great for cats who go for area rugs or other horizontal surfaces. Be sure to replace them periodically so they provide an adequate anchor and resistance to the claws. If your cat likes catnip, rubbing the post with it, or using catnip spray, will be an extra incentive to scratch in the right place. Location is very important; start with the post near kitty’s favorite scratching object, and gradually move it to its final destination.

2) Sticky Paws

Similar to double-sided transparent tape, Sticky Paws is applied directly to the item your cat is scratching, such as front of the sofa. It has a special adhesive that does not hurt the furniture, but feels disgusting to the cat’s sensitive paw pads. It may need to be replaced every 6 weeks or so as dust and hair accumulate and cover the sticky surface; but for many cats, one or two applications is enough to dissuade them permanently. A 24-foot roll sell for about $10. Sticky Paws is a good way to get your cat to quit using the furniture and try the post instead.

3) Soft Paws

These are blunt plastic caps that slide on over the claws. The cat will still scratch, but can do no damage. Of your cat is amenable to having her feet handled, these may be a perfect solution for you. The caps can be applied by your veterinarian the first time, but you should be able to replace them as they fall off; usually in 4 to 6 weeks. One box (40 caps) will provide protection for up to six months for less than $20. They come in fashionable colors, too!

4) Trimming the Claws

This will not prevent scratching, but it will minimize the damage that kitty can do to fabrics and furniture.

Check with your veterinarian. Most clinics will do free nail trims if you are a client.

Post flyers everywhere.

Contact all area shelters and animal control departments. Physically go look for your pet- don’t take someone’s word.

Put ads in papers, flyers up, contact pet recovery agencies, advertise through social media, contact rescue groups, veterinary clinics and anywhere else you can think.

Contact the company you have your cat microchipped with to let them know your cat is lost and update all contact info if not already done.

Physically look under sheds, in garages and other hiding areas. Cats are often on one side of their home or the other and usually will not come when they are called. YOU have to find THEM.

Leave food and water for them.

Sprinkle the litter from their litter box in your yard. Put clothes with your and their scent in an area they might normally go to.

Set a trap. They will be scared and may need your help to return.

Have the neighborhood kids look for your pet with their parent’s permission. Caution to NEVER touch or attempt to capture.

DON’T give up! Your pet is out there. They just need to be found.

Helpful Links/Contact Information

(800) 984-8638 National Pet Recovery Hotline (fees may apply)

How to Build a Shadow Cats Cat Tree

By popular request here are the general plans for building the Shadow Cats cat trees that you’ve seen at our sanctuary. In a group setting like ours with a lot of cats using our cat trees, and some with unfortunate spraying habits, traditional carpeted trees with carpet or sisal posts just don’t hold up. They tear up quickly and also absorb odors and are impossible to clean. So I resorted to designing and building our own, and we’ve been very happy with them. We’ve found that our cats are perfectly happy with the heavy carpet pads and wooden lip around the edges of the platforms – they don’t mind at all not having the soft carpeted edges and curves common on most commercial cat trees. Read More Here.