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Cats Gain Weight after Spaying

About 80% of American household cats are spayed or neutered, which is invaluable for the many health and social benefits. However, most studies have found that cats gain weight after spaying. But it’s possible you didn’t notice many changes if your cat was spayed when she was a kitten, since she was still growing. Though, if you had your cat spayed as an adult, you might have discovered that she’s heavier than she once was.

Even if you have a cat that put on some extra pounds post-spay, nevertheless, with your help, they aren’t destined to become obese. Continue reading for ways to combat the weight gain, and to keep obesity at bay.

tortoiseshell shorthair cat trying to drink out of fountain outside
Meow Meow is too heavy to lift herself up enough to drink out of the fountain!

Why Cats Gain Weight After being Spayed

cat eating big bowl of cat food out of blue bowl outside
Photo by itsmeseher on Pexels.com

I never experienced a cat in heat before Itty. But just to recap feline estrous: female cats are in heat every few days for at least 10 solid months of the year! Plus, their hormones are raging, which includes estrogen being released, on and off, during this 10 month long period.

Thus, when Itty was in heat, she had no time for food. Because she was distracted. And it wasn’t until she was out of heat that she would finally eat food. However, a few days later she would be back into her heat cycle. Until she was spayed. Since she no longer has all those hormones driving her other needs, I have theories about what caused her starvation after surgery, then over-eating, and therefore, weight gain.

Regardless of my theories, multiple studies have revealed that cats gain weight after being spayed because:

  • they lose estrogen, which decreases metabolic rate
  • metabolic rate is decreased, thus their energy needs are decreased
  • plus, spayed cats need about 20-25% less food than intact cats for ideal weight
  • in addition, appetites can increase because estrogen has been shown to decrease appetite
  • and finally, some spayed cats are under-exercised and over-fed.

Age Cat is Spayed is a Factor in Weight Gain Post-Spay

person in scrubs performs surgery on sedated cat
Photo by Pranidchakan Boonrom on Pexels.com

This might actually surprise you, but adult cats are more at-risk for gaining weight, resulting in obesity, post-spay than kittens. Although, depending on which site you look at, you might get a totally different answer. But I was suspicious of this myself, after witnessing the effects of hormones during Itty’s estrous cycles. And considering that spaying a cat is similar to a human hysterectomy, it has to be such a shock to their systems.

In any case, this study published in 2017, involved only kittens (15-52 weeks). And the purpose was to determine their total energy needs by inspecting the significance of spaying, age when spayed on intake, and body weight. Given the study only included kittens, half were spayed/neutered early compared to the rest, which was conventional. Or they were spayed/neutered at a later date, when they hit puberty.

The results revealed that the kittens spayed/neutered early, before reaching sexual maturity and their first heat cycle, gradually gained weight through normal growth. Whereas the kittens spayed/neutered after sexual maturity showed sudden increases in feeding, hence gaining weight more quickly, and becoming overweight. 

A Word About Hyperphagia and Leptin Resistance

Digital image of calico cat eating a big steak dinner
Digital Art, Courtesy of Sarah Smith

Hyper-what? Well, up till now I’ve just been referring to Itty’s need for food post-spay starvation. Though, it turns out there’s an actual word for the condition. Also, it appears that other pet parents are unaware of this term as well. Because when I looked up this issue about starving cat post surgery, there were tons of others with the same problem. They just didn’t have a word for it either. However, it is most commonly associated with injury to the hypothalamus.

But there’s also leptin, which is a hormone that helps our bodies maintain normal weight on a long-term basis. While normally leptin increases when food is eaten, signaling the hypothalamus to tell the brain that we and our pets are satisfied, mammals with too much or too little leptin don’t get those signals. Additionally, those with higher levels of leptin, who eat more and gain more weight, indicate leptin resistance. Therefore, from what I’ve read, there’s obviously a connection between spaying/neutering and leptin resistance. For instance, this 2002 article from The Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism says:

One means through which estrogen may affect energy balance is through influencing synthesis of the hormone leptin. Leptin is a hormone produced by adipocytes (10) that is thought to affect energy intake and expenditure (1113). 

Leptin in Postmenopausal Women: Influence of Hormone Therapy, Insulin, and Fat Distribution* 
B. A. Gower,  T. R. Nagy,  M. I. Goran,  A. Smith,  E. Kent

Scientists used to think it was just cats eating too much. Or that their owners were too lazy to play with them. However, with more research done on leptin and its function, it makes more sense that something else is going on. For example, all the starving cats post-spay. It’s the classic chicken or egg question: which came first, the eating disorder or the starving cat? Since I’ve experienced this firsthand, and I know how small Itty was prior to spaying, I can tell you how off the charts hungry she has been. She has no idea that she’s full. Thus, once cats hit puberty and are then spayed, hormonally something happens. Or doesn’t happen like it’s supposed to. And so cats eat. And eat, because they don’t know they’re full.

What You can do to Prevent Obesity Post-Spay

If your cat was spayed recently, or is going to be, just know that she is going to gain some weight. It’s a given, at least with everything I’ve read. Despite that, to prevent obesity

2 cats eating out of huge bowls outside by red door
Photo by Arzum Kaya on Pexels.com

Instead figure out your cat’s daily caloric needs using this site. And then adjust their food intake by giving your cat several smaller, measured meals throughout the day.

  • Also, avoid feeding your fur baby table scraps or treats
white cat eating from crystal bowl on fully furnished table
Photo by cottonbro studio on Pexels.com

Most of the time cats seem finicky. Until they get spayed. Next, they appear starving. And then any type of food is fair game to them then. Be strong, my friend. Be strong.

  • And promote physical activity.
2 different cats playing on big multi-level cat scratching post
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels.com

Get some toys and play with your cat. Or even explore your backyard together. But do something that distracts them from wanting to eat all the time.

Before Itty went into her very first heat cycle, she and I would play together all the time. However, once she hit puberty, she was no longer herself due to those crazy hormones. While Itty is now spayed and no longer distracted, she’s up to playing and exploring again.

  • Lastly, make an appointment with the vet.
2 different people holding and examining a white cat
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

If after all of these steps and you’re still fighting the daily hyperphagia, or starvation, then it’s time to see the vet. You can’t do this on your own; you need some help.

In fact, I’m planning on making an appointment for Itty as well. Because I’ve already changed her diet. Though, I’m not sure how much fat content I’m supposed to cut out of her diet, since fat is vital to their diet. And I suspect she has leptin resistance. The good news on that is there is treatment to reverse leptin resistance. But the vet probably needs blood work before starting any treatment.

In Conclusion

Most cats gain weight after being spayed due to the loss of estrogen. And the hormone leptin experiences resistance after spay as well, which leads cats to eating more, and thus, gaining more weight. However, there’s things we can do to help our cats from becoming obese: providing smaller meals, encouraging exercise, and talking with the veterinarian.

If you’ve already had your cat spayed for some time, did your cat experience hyperphagia? Also, did she gain weight? And how did you handle the changes?

If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and please don’t forget to follow!

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Extras non fowl

How to Tell if Your Cat is in Heat

Cats have their first reproductive, or heat cycle when they reach sexual maturity. And for some breeds that can be as early as 4 months old. While for others, that could be as late as 18 months. However the average age is typically ~ 6 months old. (Itty was 10 months old when she had her first heat.) And cats display some signs that they are in season, so you will notice them acting differently. Continue reading to find out how to tell if your cat is in heat and how you can help her.

9 month calendar on white background
Digital art, Courtesy Sarah Smith

Cats are seasonally polyestrous, which means they’ll have multiple heat cycles during breeding season. Thus, in the US, February through October is considered the perfect breeding season. Therefore, your cat will likely cycle every 14-21 days from February to October if they aren’t already spayed or pregnant.

But how long does a cycle last? Each heat cycle lasts several days. Also, if the queen, or intact female cat, is not mated during the heat cycle, then she’ll go out of heat. For example, when Itty had her first heat, it lasted about a week. Or so I thought, because 3 or 4 days later it returned with a vengeance.

Signs Your Cat is in Heat

  • She’s extremely vocal
colorful cat meowing on sofa in patio
Photo by Dids on Pexels.com

This is one of the signs many pet parents notice first. Whether it’s yowling, caterwauling, or meowing when there was barely a mew before, cats in heat make all kinds of new noises.

Take Itty, for example, who, 2 days before we realized she was in heat, started meowing at me in the middle of the night. Full on meowing, while most of the time she only has little mews, that don’t even qualify as meowing. I thought she wanted to play with me or needed something. Or just loved me. Then the other signs started showing up.

  • She’s more loving than the dog
woman cuddling her cat on the bed
Photo by Sam Lion on Pexels.com

The second clue your cat’s in heat is that she’s more loving than your dog, if you have one.

For instance, she lets you pet her, she rubs against you, and wants your attention and affection, whereas before maybe she was elusive. If your cat isn’t spayed, and she’s now extremely affectionate, it could just be she’s in heat.

  • Change in eating habits

She may eat less when she first starts her heat cycle than she was before. However she might return to her normal feeding schedule in time; that’s how it’s been for Itty.

  • A lot of floor action; ie, her tail and rear seem to always be up in the air. Plus, she rolls around on the floor more than she used to
an orange tabby cat rolling around in a cardboard box
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels.com

Female cats in the first position, called lordosis, are signaling that they are ready to mate. And by rolling on the floor, she’s releasing her pheromones all over the place. She’s just hoping it will catch some cat’s fancy.

  • Moving her hind end and treading her hind feet when her back is petted

At this stage of her heat cycle, she’s very receptive to being mated, and might try anything to achieve her ends.

calico cat treading her hind paws next to an Australian shepherd lying on the floor
  • Begging to go outside (if an indoor cat)
calico cat standing up looking out a window
She longs to go outside.

Or she’ll try to sneak out if you’re not careful. And you might even start seeing toms, or male cats, gathering around your home in search of your cat.

digital drawing of a black cat with labeled scent glands

Some queens will either urinate more often or spray urine on objects. Since cat urine contains both pheromones and hormones, this signals to other cats that they are in heat.

However this isn’t the only way that cats mark their territory; the other way is by scent rubbing against objects. (I’m thankful that Itty doesn’t spray.)

  • Another sign your cat is in heat is if she’s even more of a fastidious groomer than before
brown tabby cat grooming itself
Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels.com

If you notice your fur baby grooming her lady bits round the clock, chances are pretty high that she’s in heat.

  • And the last sign your cat is in heat, is that she flirts with your other pet(s)
calico cat on floor while Australian Shepherd licks her
This is an action shot, so unfortunately you don’t really get the effect. But I assure you, Itty started it.

Rather than just reserving all of her lovey dovey behavior for you, your cat may treat the dog or rabbit the same way; maybe even more so. You’ve caught them almost having inter-species relations! (Gasp!)

That’s what Itty does with Sophie, in spite of the dog’s protests.

What You can do for Your Cat

kids on a bed playing with white cat
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Even though they make a lot of noise and act like they’re suffering, the feline cycle is different to human women. Typically cats in heat don’t bleed; that’s because they reabsorb the uterine lining instead of bleeding it out. And experts believe cats in heat aren’t in pain when they make all their racket; it’s just their mating calls.

Although, what you can do is have a heating pad out for your cat, and see if she uses it. Itty didn’t use ours. But the trick that always seems to help her is when I play with her. And she’s good at trying to distract herself too.

Also, definitely keep your cat away from male cats if you don’t want her to get pregnant. And

  • try giving your fur baby some catnip
  • use Feliway or other cat pheromones throughout your home
  • and keep the litter box(es) clean

If your cat isn’t spayed and she hasn’t had her first heat cycle, talk to your vet about the best time to get her spayed. Some sites claim that veterinarians can still perform the surgery even while cats are in heat. However, just because they can do something doesn’t mean they will. For instance, we had to postpone Itty’s spay until mid-summer to see whether her heat cycle is waning. It should be a lot better than when it first started. But we’ll see.

Assuming you have a cat, did you get her spayed before she started her heat cycle? Or did you wait until she already started it? If you waited, did she have any or all of the signs I listed? Alternatively, did she exhibit extra ones? Your comments are appreciated.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. And if you enjoyed it, please like, share, and don’t forget to follow!

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All animals Chicks Extras Hens non fowl Roosters

Signs You’re a Crazy Pet Parent

We spend a lot on our pets. Not just in money, but also in time. Americans reportedly spend ~$2300 annually just on their cats and dogs alone. And that doesn’t even take into account chicken, rabbit, and reptile lovers. But there are more signs you’re a crazy pet parent than spending money on your pet.

While there are plenty of “crazy lady” memes, I use the term crazy a bit more endearing. Additionally, I don’t single out just women, because I’ve found that men can be just as fond of their pets. However, what does “pet parent” even mean?

The term pet parent is considered by some people concerned with the rights of animals to be more acceptable than owner

Collins English Dictionary

But it’s really just someone who looks after and cares for their pet.

Now I’ve broken this up into three sections. And the first set of signs you’re a crazy pet parent that we’re going to examine is the cat lover. Cats are mysterious. And they can be elusive or playful. Maybe you’re guilty of being crazy for cats. Or you know someone who’s heading down that path? Just continue reading to find out.

Signs You’re a Crazy Pet Parent: for Cats

You might be a crazy cat person if you

  • hardly go on vacation, because…what would happen to your cats?
  • may even read fiction books about cats with your kids
book titled Warriors with a black cat on the cover
  • talk to your cats, and reply to them when they meow
  • have more than a couple of cats
2 cats on a multi-colored and geometric bedspread covering 4 poster bed
  • gladly make room for your cat to be comfortable on your bed; BUT if some human tries the same, you push back
tortoiseshell cat lying on a person's lap while they're asleep
This is Meow Meow, when she still lived in the house and there was only Moses to deal with. She liked to sleep on me.
  • buy your cats presents
  • don’t get mad if your cat steps on your laptop keyboard, because she wanted to be near you and get your attention; however, now you just anticipate her and close your laptop to prevent any mess-ups
calico cat resting on a red bag
Whenever I’m working, Poppy joins me. But sometimes she tries to get me to stop.
  • sleep with cat food on the nightstand so the kitty knows where it is; cats are creatures of habit, right?
corner shot of multi-colored bed with bowl of animal food on nightstand
This is a daytime shot, however Poppy’s food does stay on the nightstand all night for her to find. It’s been like that since she was little.
  • don’t mind if the cat scratches the furniture
shredded textiles on footboard of bed
  • get them special treats
  • have cat themed items
  • FaceTime your cat in the event you’re ever away
  • celebrate your cat’s birthday
  • sing to your cat or make up songs about your cat
  • and if your cat takes your chair when you vacate it, it’s ok; you just take another one and move all of your stuff over

The second set of signs you’re a crazy pet parent that we’re going to investigate is the chicken lover. Chicken popularity has been going strong since Covid. So that means more crazy chicken parents. And the newer parents you are, the crazier you are. Trust me, I know. But that doesn’t mean that old chicken parents stop being crazy for their backyard birds. We just share our joys with fellow crazies.

Signs You’re a Crazy Chicken Parent

You might be a crazy chicken person if you

  • talk to your chickens
  • don’t run the chickens out of the garden even if you’re spouse tells you to
mixed flock of chickens in raised planter near a wooden and wire fence outside
  • make special treats for them
  • cook oatmeal for your family; and then make extra for your chickens, because they love it
oatmeal with raisins in metal pot
  • thank the chickens after they eat the treats
  • name all of your chickens
mixed flock of chickens and one guinea outside next to a house and fence
Percy, Sakura, Astrid, Sunshine, Dopey, Rex, Plo, Chopper, Smiley, Megs in the distance, Monday, Tuesday, the guinea Kurapika, and Soundwave. But I can’t really tell who’s on the other side of the fence besides Tiny Nuts.
  • have chicken t-shirts and wear them proudly
person wearing a purple and pink chicken t-shirt
  • read chicken blogs
  • have chicken themed items in and out of your house
  • save food for your birds, and ask others to do so as well
brown plate filled with spaghetti and salad with tomatoes
  • encourage the rooster; and believe that he actually listens
Ameraucana Maran mix rooster in a pet crate
This was Baby Nay a week after he beat up Megatron; and immediately after they both continuously fought. We had to separate them, then re-home Baby Nay. Hardest decision I had to make, because I loved them both. And they were both good roos.
  • are happier seeing and watching your chickens than TV; and they think you’re pretty darn special too
  • talk about your chickens to anyone who will listen, but you’re starting to notice their eyes glaze over
  • might have even let a weak baby chick sleep in your bed, snuggled in a hand towel
newly hatched chick on dull red towel
  • and when you go outside, your backyard birds flock to you

Finally, the last signs that you’re a crazy pet parent we’re going to consider is the dog lover. Dogs have been man’s best friend since, what seems, the beginning of time. They’re faithful, loving, and trustworthy. What’s not to like?

Signs You’re a Crazy Pet Parent: for Dogs

You might be a crazy dog person if you

  • set up play dates with your friends’ dogs
tri color beagle and west highland white terrier puppies playing on lawn grass
Photo by Hilary Halliwell on Pexels.com
  • FaceTime with your dog when you’re ever away
  • leave TV or music on for your dog when you’re ever away
  • buy your dog toys
a dog lying on the floor chewing on a toy, surrounded by toys
Photo by Mathew Coulton on Pexels.com
  • flavor your dog’s food, because they don’t like plain dog food
  • take your dog on outings
sable Shetland sheepdog in the driver's seat of a vehicle
This was when we were moving from Dallas; of course he wasn’t really driving! That would be crazy!
  • let your dog sleep on your bed, even if they take up most of the bed
black, white, and brown dog asleep on multiple blankets next to a person
  • spell words out so your dog won’t understand
  • don’t mind dog hair on your clothes, furniture, or the occasional fur in your food
strands of pet fur on glossy wooden surface
  • baby-talk to your dog, no matter their age
  • love giving your dog belly rubs, and your dog loves it too
Australian Shepherd on her back on the grass
  • let your dog chew on you, because it’s how they say, “I love you”
Australian Shepherd has a person's hand in its mouth
Before I knew and loved Sophie as much as I do now, this behavior bugged me; now I know she’s just trying to hold my hand and get as much of me as she can when she’s excited.
  • have birthday parties for your dog
cute dogs in cones at birthday holiday
Photo by Sam Lion on Pexels.com
  • usually don’t go out of town for long, or go far
  • ignore anything your dog does that could be construed as bad behavior, because you love your dog; and “they’re such a good dog,” you say in the baby voice
  • and if you’ve ever stayed at a non dog-friendly hotel before, you might’ve snuck your dog in. Don’t worry. I won’t tell, if you won’t
sable Shetland sheepdog getting out of a black suitcase

There are some common traits all of these pet parents have in common that I have yet to list. Therefore, if you have cats, dogs, and chickens, please keep reading.

You Might be a Crazy Pet Parent if

  • On occasion, you’ve been known to spend more on pet food, bedding, litter, etc, than on your own groceries.
black wallet with dollar banknotes
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com
  • Furthermore, you have more pictures of your pets than your children.
  • And you talk more about your pets than your kids. In addition, you’re more animated when you share about your pets.
  • Additionally, you post more on social media regarding your pets.
  • Also, going out of town for any type of vacation is difficult, because of all of your pets. So you don’t even know what a vacation is anymore. But it’s worth it, because who will love your pets like you do?
woman embracing the labrador retriever dog tightly
Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels.com
  • And you admit that the word “fret” is in your vocabulary regarding your pets occasionally.
  • Finally, you might be a crazy pet parent if your neighbors are constantly trying to bring you strays.

Conclusion

This concludes the signs you’re a crazy pet parent. And I confess that I’m guilty of 98% of them. But it’s ok, because I love my pets. And if it turns out that you’re a crazy pet parent, it’s perfectly ok. Because, you’re accepted.

Also, I’m going on vacation next week for 10 days. So I might not post. We haven’t had a real vacation in 4 years. But back then we didn’t have the extra cats and our dog that we have now. We had Moses, but he was allowed to come on vacation with us then.

ocean under cloudy sky
Photo by Julia Kuzenkov on Pexels.com

In addition, the place where we’re going now is not pet-friendly. Although, that hardly matters, because Sophie would need tranquilizers to go on vacation. Anyway, this will be the first time that we left Sophie and Poppy for an extended time. So we have some anxiety about that. Therefore, if you think of it, please pray for our pets and neighbors. We have a lot of pets. Over 30, and some chicks that we’ll eventually sell. Thus, it’s a huge responsibility, however we have great neighbors.

Are you a fellow crazy pet parent? Do you struggle with going out of town because of your fur or feather babies? Or do you have awesome neighbors who help you out? Let me know how you handle these issues in a comment. And thanks for taking the time to read this post. Also, if you enjoyed this piece, please like, and follow for more.

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All animals Extras non fowl

Meet Our Newest Pet

In July of this year (2021) we got a new member of our household. She’s an Australian Shepherd Mix. The ‘mix’ is part miniature Aussie. And she’s about 7 1/2 months old. I briefly mentioned her before, however not in any detail. So, without further ado, I want you to meet our newest pet: Sophie!

Not that we didn’t have enough animals to keep us busy. But there was still a hole to be filled for my husband and middle daughter, because our last dog passed away around the beginning of last year (2020).

Shetland Sheepdog by someone's legs

For the longest time the only kind of animal we had was a dog. And it was usually the same kind of dog for the past 20 years. But obviously not the same dog. And since our Sheltie, Moses, died last year, Paul and Hannah have wanted another one. Even though we have enough animals to go around.

At first Hannah looked through ads or Googled similar animals to Moses. However that soon proved to be cost prohibitive. Think thousands of dollars.

Two Shetland Sheepdogs with my a toddler in a backyard

When Paul and I first married, he already had a Sheltie. So we got another one, which was the runt of the litter. But she only cost us ~$350. Then when both of them passed away, (due to old age and an accident), we got Moses. Again he was the last of the litter. And we got him for the swinging deal of $200. That was in 2006.

Fast forward to present day, and we realized quickly that the cost of dogs is definitely not the same. It seemed like every dog we were interested in or called about had AKC papers. Although we could care less about such things. Because we would’ve been interested in another runt without papers. What do breeders do with those dogs?

We toyed with the idea of getting one from a shelter. However we weren’t certain we’d be able to find a dog that would match our home: We have chickens, ducks, 3 cats, and an 11 year old. And we also had a bunny at the time.

scam alert letting text on black background
Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Several months and a scam later, one of our neighbor’s connected us to an older couple. They had Sophie originally and very likely realized they couldn’t take care of her or meet her energy requirements. So they asked our neighbor, their friend, if they knew anyone who wanted a dog.

Man holding an Australian Shepherd

And that’s how we acquired Sophie. The only stipulation her previous owners charged us with was that we kept her name the same. Thus we left her name untouched.

Being an Aussie, she has boundless energy, from 5 am till 9 pm or later. She’s definitely rarin’ to go before the sun rises. And she can outrun any of us. Additionally she’s an exceptional acrobat.

Calico kitten and Australian Shepherd share a couch

Also, she likes to scare the birds, including my chickens and ducks. But her best friend, other than Hannah, is my kitty, Itty Bitty. They play with each other. And often times they can be seen napping near one another.

Sophie is easily trained when food is at stake. So far she has learned to beg and dance for her dinner. No, just kidding. But seriously, she can walk across the room on 2 paws. All for food. And she’s also house broken.

Australian Shepherd on a blanket outside in a backyard

Though there are other things she picks up on. For example, when my kids play with her: They’ll end up playing hide and seek after they throw her ball or toy. And after a couple of throws, Sophie realizes the kids are disappearing. Which makes her hesitate to run after her toy. Or she tries to keep an eye on them.

She’s certainly a lot of fun to watch. But she has way more energy than I do. Since she’s supposed to be a work animal, I’ve joked that Paul should put her to work. Then she’d be worn out by bedtime. And he said he was going to make a comic out of that. One where she’s mowing the lawn.

Thanks for stopping by! And if you liked this post, please click like or leave a comment and share!

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Extras non fowl

Why is My Cat Eating My Hair

If you have cats, or have had cats, you’re probably familiar with their behaviors. They typically don’t like big groups, unlike dogs. But that doesn’t make them loners. And they often get a bad rap as being nasty. Again, compared to dogs. However I have yet to meet an unfriendly feline. Also cats do some pretty amazing things. And some pretty strange things. For instance, have you ever asked, why is my cat eating my hair? Well, today I explore some possible reasons, while also suggesting ways to discourage this behavior.

We added a new cat to our household around the end of May. Yet at the time I didn’t know she was going to end up being ours. A neighbor found her in the road and brought her to us. And I even included her in one of my cute animal posts. Since raising this kitten, I’ve learned so much more about cats. Some I already knew about, but others I’m just sort of learning at each stage. For example, my newest feline nibbles my hair when I sleep.

Certainly a hair-eating cat was something I had not witnessed before. I have two other cats, one that is much older, so she moves around a lot less. And the other one is ~ 2 years old. Otherwise Cake and Meow Meow act pretty alike. But no hair eating habits between them.

Calico kitten hiding in a closet of shoes
This is Poppy, the hair eating, aka grooming, culprit.

Reasons Why My Cat is Eating My Hair

  • Stress

The first possible explanation that your kitty is chewing on your hair is due to stress. Especially if it just started, (it’s new), or the frequency has increased. Cats, like people, will try different methods to calm themselves down. And eating or chewing on your hair could be a coping strategy.

  • Oral fixations

Another possibility is that your cat is self-soothing, not unlike thumb sucking in infants. It’s believed that cats that were weaned early start this behavior. If it’s an oral fixation, then it begins as self-soothing until it becomes a habit.

  • Play
tabby kittens playing on floral comforter
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is especially true for kittens, who make playtime out of anything. And long hair is no exception. But your cat may also just want your attention.

  • Attraction

If your feline friend licks or chews your hair when you get out of the shower, then they might like your shampoo. Or whatever else you put on your hair. Like mousse or gel.

  • Medical condition

Additionally there are some medical conditions, like pica or thyroid issues, that could make cats eat or chew on human hair.

cats grooming each other
Photo by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

In most cases your cat will simply be grooming you, because he or she considers you special. They’re marking you in one more way to let others know you belong to them. In the wild cats groom each other; typically this is a close family group. So when your cat eats your hair, it’s a sign of affection.

How to Discourage Your Cat from Eating Your Hair

  • First, determine why your kitten is eating your hair.
black cat kissing girls head
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Is stress the culprit? Did you recently move? Or possibly get a new pet? There are tons of reasons a cat could get stressed. Even though they’re considered predators, they’re small, and they know it. And they know there are threats out in the world to them. This is a great article to find out more about stress in cats if you’re not sure.

If you do find that stress is the factor, then depending on what’s causing the stress, will determine how you deal with it. So if you recently got a new animal, introduce them to each other slowly. Petsmart usually has great info on that. But if you moved recently, then make sure you have some toys from your old place. They need their familiar smells around them.

  • Now suppose your cat is attracted to the types of products you put in your hair, then switch to something citrus-y.

It’s believed that cats don’t like citrus, so you might try something with orange or lemon scent.

  • For self soothing, grooming, and play, you would pretty much do the same thing: either move away or redirect.
brown tabby cat wearing shower cap
Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

The only thing you can do in any of those 3 situations is move away from your kitty or re-direct or distract her. Self soothing is going to become a habit, so it needs to be stopped. And unless you want your cat playing or grooming your hair, you need to keep moving away from or getting a toy for your cat, until they get the idea. Which they will.

Another option, for if your cat is grooming your hair, (especially if it’s at night), is wearing a cap to sleep. I know, this doesn’t sound like a great idea! However it will save your hair while also allowing you to sleep. And in the long run, your kitten will learn he can’t get to your hair through the hair cap. Which means, he’ll eventually leave your hair alone. At least at night.

  • If, on the other hand, your cat eats your hair off the floor, this could indicate pica. Which is where cats eat non-food items. And it’s very dangerous. So if that’s what’s going on, or you’re not sure, then get an appointment with a veterinarian.

Most of the time cats will eat or chew hair out of affection. But there are definitely times they will get stressed, which could also trigger a hair eating episode. All that being said, I know my newest cat did it out of that pack mentality. She sleeps on my pillow. And after she grooms herself, she proceeds to eat my hair. AKA grooming.

Strands of hair on a counter
My hair that came out when I started combing it.

Initially I thought she just wanted to play with my ponytail, because every time I wore it to bed, she would start chewing on it. Or my hair. However a few weeks ago, when I pulled the ponytail out in the morning, some hair fell out. I started combing my hair, and 2 inch chunks of hair came out. (Thankfully I don’t have any bald spots.) And then I thought she just wanted my hair down, like a hairdresser. But now I’m really honored that she loves me so much to groom me. Although what is proper cat etiquette? Does she expect me to return the favor?

To sum up, there are a few reasons your cat would eat or chew on your hair. But the most common reason is he or she considers you one of them. (A cat.) So he/she is grooming you. Though if you’re not sure, you could always take your kitty to the vet for a check-up.

Thanks so much for stopping by! And please don’t hesitate to ask a question or leave a comment!

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How to Help Abandoned Animals

This post is about how to help abandoned animals and how to help stop animal abandonment. It’s something I feel especially passionate about. It might have something to do with the number of animals I personally own. And maybe even how much I love animals and have always loved them.

But regardless, I think it’s important. Because I’ve heard of at least 4 separate kittens, all under 5 weeks old, who’ve been rescued recently. (Including the one we now have as of 5 weeks ago.) All of the kittens I’ve heard about were found either in the middle of the road or under bridges on the highway. Which means they were most likely thrown out of moving vehicles. At least the ones found on the highways were.

HOW TO DETERMINE IF AN ANIMAL IS ABANDONED

abandoned calico kitten and how to help an abandoned animals
This is the kitten a neighbor found in the middle of a major road, and subsequently brought her to us.

First, let’s go over how to know if an animal you’ve found is actually abandoned. How do you recognize animal abandonment and cruelty? Well, in the cases of the 4 kittens I listed above, it was easy to identify. The kittens were all without their mothers, too young to be on their own, and in the middle of the road or highways.

However, if the animal or animals are still living in a home or a yard, most animal abandonment or cruelty, is in the manner of neglect. Though, other things to look out for include

  • Animal negligence, which is a lack of veterinary care, food and water, and/or shelter. A pet might have open wounds and appear malnourished.
  • Also, you might witness direct acts of abuse against an animal. Such as the owner throws objects or strikes their pet in any way that is violent.
  • Or hoarding–there are too many animals on the property for the owner to properly take care of them all.
  • Chained or tethered animals. Animals that are tethered or chained non-stop experience a lot of pain and isolation. And if they don’t have adequate shelter, they’re subjected to all of the hazards of the weather and predators. They could also get infections around the chains or tethers.
  • And finally, animals abandoned by their owners. The homeowners left or vacated their house, leaving behind their pets. You might hear meowing or howling, indicating animals have been left behind.

HOW TO HELP ABANDONED OR ORPHANED ANIMALS

Hopefully you’ll never see any of the above things in your neighborhood. But if you were to observe any or all of them, for the most part, you have the law on your side, since every state has laws prohibiting animal abuse. So, if you know of animals or have seen animals abandoned by their owners or neglected, call animal control. Although, if you live somewhere that doesn’t have animal control, like me, then contact the humane society on this page.

a once abandoned cat
This cat was found and rescued from a trash dumpster.

HOW TO HELP AN ANIMAL YOU FOUND

Now, if you find a stray kitten or dog on the road or in your yard:

  • Try using food to coax the animal to you.
  • And for securing a dog, you need a leash. Or something similar.
  • But since cats typically don’t like being held, you should have a crate or a pet carrier.

Don’t put yourself in unnecessary danger. Older cats, especially if they’ve been on their own for a while, could be feral. So, be cautious and alert.

WARNING: If the animal runs off, appears ill, foaming at the mouth, or is showing signs of aggression, call animal control. And give them the street address where the animal was seen last. And don’t go near the animal.

  • Once you have the animal secured, check for a pet ID tag. If the animal is wearing a tag, contact the owner, so they can be reunited.

However, if you can’t reach the owner, or have to leave a message, file a found report with your local animal shelter. This is in case the owner goes there to look for their pet.

  • The pet might have a microchip and, if taken to an animal shelter, could get scanned there. And then it would quickly be reunited with its owner.

If you live somewhere that doesn’t have an animal shelter, consider taking the dog or cat to a local vet. The veterinarian would then be able to scan the animal for a microchip.

  • Finally, post fliers with the animal’s picture, description, and where you found it. You can also look up info and place ads on Craigslist, Nextdoor, and Petfinder about the animal.

WHAT TO DO IF NO ONE CLAIMS THE ABANDONED ANIMAL

3 dogs in a pen
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

Supposing you live in a rural area and don’t have animal control or even an animal shelter, you might decide to just keep the cat or dog. And even after all of your other efforts and still no one has collected it, these are the steps to take.

  • If you already have your own pets, keep the stray cat or dog quarantined. It could have worms, illnesses, fleas, or ticks. Not to mention, it and your current pets would have to meet over a period of time to get used to each other.

It’s generally not a good idea to just throw a new pet into your mix of current pets. It’s stressful to both sets of animals. Which produces fear in cats and possibly urinary tract infections.

Until you get the stray dog or cat seen by a veterinarian, be sure to wash your hands each time you handle it.

  • Next, make sure you inform people in your neighborhood about finding a lost or stray animal. And post fliers.

The law favors the owner if you fail to do this. There’s a holding period for strays that varies by state before anyone else can own that pet. Also, it could be difficult on the dog or cat, if years down the road, they get uprooted to go back to their original owners for your failure to tell people and post the required info.

  • After covering your bases, make a veterinary appointment for the animal, if you haven’t already. Get it seen and make sure it’s healthy. It might need vaccines or de-worming.

Sometimes this step is in conjunction with the step above. If the pet is staying in an animal shelter, you might have to provide veterinary care until you can own it. But if you don’t have an animal shelter where you live, there’s more leeway. However, there’s still a time-frame before you can legally own someone else’s pet. Especially if you haven’t made any attempts to reunite them.

  • And provide the appropriate food for your new pet, along with clean, fresh water, and bedding. If your new pet is a cat, provide a litter box as well.
a dog at a veterinarian's office visit to help stop animal abandonment
how to help abandoned animals

A COUPLE OF FACTS ABOUT ANIMAL ABANDONMENT

Somewhere ~ 1.5 million healthy cats and dogs are euthanized each year in the United States. And statistics from animal shelters from 2020 indicate that ~70 million strays are living on the streets at any moment. However, just ~6.5 million cats and dogs combined enter shelters. While the rest survive the best they can, some suffer heat exhaustion in the summer. And others freeze during winter.

U.S. citizens pay ~$2 billion annually for the cost of maintaining animal shelters. While pet owners make up ~30% of the animals left behind in those shelters. And only approximately 10% of the animals in shelters are spayed or neutered.

So one of the primary ways you can help stop animal abandonment is to spay or neuter your pet, if you have one. Pets that aren’t spayed or neutered quickly overpopulate shelters. And also the streets.

HOW TO STOP ANIMAL ABANDONMENT

In addition to fixing your pets, you can also

  • Be an advocate for lost pets. Rather than dropping that lost animal you found off at animal control, try locating the owner first.
  • Avoid buying animals from pet stores and puppy mills. Instead, adopt a pet!

~ 3.2 million cats and dogs are adopted from shelters each year. And during the Pandemic we just experienced, adoptions for dogs were on the rise. However, on average, the Covid-19 pandemic affected pet adoptions last year. And the percentage of adopted cats was rising until the pandemic occurred.

  • Donate to a reputable animal rescue group. There are animal shelters, but there are also many different animal rescue groups.

They can cater to specific animals, types, breeds, etc. Helping these groups financially is necessary to keeping them operational. But also to provide veterinary care and other essentials for the animals.

  • Another way you can help stop animal abandonment and help abandoned animals is to volunteer at a local animal shelter. Not only will you see firsthand the ins and outs of shelter-life for unwanted or stray animals. But you can spend time with them. And oftentimes help them not feel so lonely.
  • Be a foster parent to a pet. Foster parents allow for less animals to be euthanized, which gives those pets more time to find permanent homes. Because, as a foster parent, your home is a temporary refuge for that pet as you help socialize and care for it.
  • Speak up or report animal abuse and neglect.
  • Lastly, be a responsible pet owner. Microchip your pets, update their tags, spay or neuter them, and only adopt another one if you’re in it for the long-haul.
2 people volunteering to help stop animal abandonment
Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. Your comments are appreciated.