5 things an explorer cat never forgets!

The cat is certainly a curious animal, patrolling its territory to defend it against unwelcome guests, marking the area to stake its claim on the land while – at the same time – knowing the best spots to hide away from prying eyes.

In this article we discover the five things an explorer cat cannot give up!

1) Catching prey

Certainly, one of the favourite activities of a cat is predation! Lying in wait, stalking stealthily and silently, locating the prey’s hiding place using its acute hearing, sharp eyesight and powerful sense of smell, and after a few tense moments – capture! After that, enjoying the feel of the prey between its paws before consuming it… it’s an unforgettable experience for our cat! No matter if the prey is simply a ball or a favourite treat!


2) The warmth of the summer sun and a hot spot in winter

A cat has a real passion for warmth, a visceral love for the sun’s rays and the warmth of radiators. Add to that a high spot to view the world from without being seen or disturbed and the cat will be in kitty heaven!


3) Smelling the world and our emotions

Not only can our cat smell everyday odours they can also smell our emotions thanks to the pheromones we give off. Don’t be surprised, therefore, if your kitty lingers to smell your sweaty feet when you return home. Their slightly opened mouths and scrunched nose, an amusing sight, as they inhale, running the smell over their vomeronasal organ to read our chemical messages. For our cat it is an important sense: it smells us, our scent and also our mood, if we are happy, angry, sad etc.


4) Discovering the different elements (earth, water, snow …)

Let’s not deprive our cats of the opportunity to experience the elements: let them explore with their paws or snout and have fun with the terrain, the freshly fallen snow, the water flowing from the tap etc. Small but wonderful experiences that will enrich their explorer natures.


5) Interacting with other living species

We should remember that our cat is a relational species and that mixing with other cats and other species, such as dogs, man, birds, and fish, can be a rewarding experience for them. Get your cat used mixing with other animals from a young age in order to avoid them being afraid of other species when they’re older!







Cats scratching: how to avoid unpleasant surprises

When cats sharpen their claws on the furniture many owners think that the cat is showing contempt and adopt ‘strong measures’ such as using repellent sprays or reprimands that the cat doesn’t understand. But what is behind this typical cat behaviour and how can we limit the disastrous effects on our furniture? Dr Maria Grazia Calore, veterinary doctor and expert in pet behaviour, helps us to understand.


Cat’s nails and scratches: what you need to know

A cat’s nail grows ‘in layers’ like an onion and never stops growing. For this reason, a feline has to remove the older, external layers by regularly sharpening its claws.

So scratching, is therefore essential to accomplish this painstaking task, and has two main functions: physical and behavioural:

– Keeping nails orderly: in this way, the cat prevents the nail penetrating the fingertip causing pain.

– Communicating: a cat is a relational animal, not a social animal, so it needs to communicate its presence in the territory through a number of signals, including marking with scratches in key areas, like near the place they sleep or near potential access points for unwelcome visitors, such as doors and windows. So, the more the scratches are evident, the more our domestic cat feels safe from external intrusions. 


The scratching post: a solution for cats and owners 

We should accept the fact that cats marking with scratches is a perfectly normal behaviour and can’t be eliminated, however any potential damage to our fixtures and fittings can be addressed by introducing an object such as a scratching post.

Considering a cat’s preference for scratching both horizontal or vertical surfaces we need to choose the most suitable type of post that should have the following specific features:

– Stability: it must be stable enough not to topple over

– Appropriate dimensions: the cat has to be able to fully stretch out to sharpen its claws

– Adequate positioning: it’s better if the post is positioned close to doors or windows or near the place the cat sleeps.

All important details if we want to be sure that our cat uses our gift.

And if you want to replace the scratching post, remember not to remove the old one straight away, it may be unsightly for us but is ‘a thing of beauty’ to our cat. Instead, it’s better to put old and new side by side to make sure that the cat uses the new one before we throw away the old one: in this way we will avoid a lot of stress for our cat!

Why does a cat dirty out of the litter box?

This is a common problem for cat lovers: this article by Dr Maria Grazia Calore, veterinary surgeon and expert in behaviour, will help us to understand and help our four-legged friend. 

You come home after a long day’s work, open the door and say: “Nooo!! Here we go again! This is a scenario some of you will recognise: the smell of cat pee and faeces by front of the door! 

Inappropriate elimination or marking? See the differences.

First of all, we should discuss the behaviour of correct elimination in a cat remembering that, in nature, it is an animal that is both predator and prey.

Normally a cat chooses a soft substrate, digs a hole and ‘evacuates’ sitting down and finally covers its excrement to camouflage its presence from predators. At home, when the cat uses the litter box, it uses exactly the same behaviour.

By contrast, a cat uses urine to mark its territory: in this case, it adopts an upright stance and sprays urine on vertical surfaces so that there is a clear sign of its presence on the territory.

Even faeces may be used for this function if it is deposited on a raised area or if it is not covered.

So if you have a cat that dirties out of the box, you should observe its behaviour to find out whether it is inappropriate elimination or marking. Let’s see how to understand it:

  • If your cat looks for a flat place (couch, bed, carpet, boxes, clothes etc.) to ‘do its business’, if it adopts a squatting position to go, and if, after elimination, it tries to cover its discharge in some way, then we are talking about INAPPROPRIATE ELIMINATION.
  • If the cat sprays vertical surfaces, such as door jambs, corners of the wall, table legs, with urine or if he deposits faeces in passageways and does not try to cover it in any way, we can almost certainly say that they are MARKINGS.

Why does my cat soil out of the litter box?

First, I want to clarify that the cat is not messing out of spite but that such behaviour expresses discomfort. So it is pointless punishing the animal!

Let’s see the possible causes of inappropriate elimination:

  • Physical discomfort: the cat may have cystitis or bladder stones that make it painful to pee, so the first thing to do visit your veterinarian for a urine test. If the cat dirties with faeces, it could have an intestinal problem so again, you must go to the vet for a stool test.
  • The cat may not like the litter tray that we have provided or the litter that we use. Very often we use perfumed litter or litter marked by the manufacturer as low maintenance. In reality, these choices often do not match the needs of our cat, which will show its discomfort by not using the litter box.
  • The cat may also associate the box with stressful events and then use it reluctantly, for example, if it is attacked by another cat when it goes out or if we are going to deliver therapies that it does not like, such as combing, cutting nails, giving it a pill etc.

In the case of marking, the behaviour is used to announce the cat’s presence in the territory and can therefore appear in the following cases:

  • A male, unneutered cat tends to mark his territory with urine to expel other males; more rarely, the female can also mark with urine for the same reason.
  • A neutered pet may mark with urine or faeces in its territory if it spots another cat in the area, if you introduce a new member into the existing group or if your cat loses its usual marking references because you have painted the walls or changed the furniture.
  • A cat in a state of anxiety can mark with faeces or urine; in this case, the marking has a reassuring effect on the cat.

How to solve this problem?

With this, more than many other cases, you must request the help of an expert in behaviour who, once they have analysed the situation, will give you the best tips. However, some methods can immediately be applied as they can be used both for inappropriate elimination and marking cases. These include:

We should choose appropriate cleaning products: avoid the use of bleach or ammonia to clean because, for the cat, they have an odour similar to urine meaning the cat will tend to repeat the behaviour in an attempt to cover up the smell of another cat! It’s much better to use products containing “enzymes” that are capable of destroying the odour. You can find them in specialised stores where you buy detergents.

Leave the cat its odour references: try to not clean the furniture with chemicals at least 20cm from the ground so as not to remove the pheromones deposited by the cat. Also provide it with a scratching post because if these markings disappear, the cat will probably start marking with urine or faeces again.

We should avoid punishments: they are useless and damaging. Your cat will not understand the reason he is being punished and will face anxiety that may even make the problem worse!

Why do cats love boxes?

Cats and boxes: a seemingly perfect combination for going viral as evidenced by the sheer number of ‘cat in box’ videos or pictures that get shared across the web and social networks on a daily basis. But why can’t cats, no matter how refined, resist the lure of the common cardboard box? Dr Maria Grazia Calore, veterinary doctor and expert in pet behaviour, helps us lift the lid on this popular cat obsession.

A perfect hiding place!

In nature the cat is a formidable predator. Ambushing its prey by assuming a crouched, ‘soldier in the trenches-style’ position, thereby appearing virtually invisible to its target, is a common tactic to achieve the element of surprise. So what could be more perfect than a box, from which to spring or attack with one or more paw, to perfect their hunting skills?

Furthermore, in the wild a cat is also a potential prey because of its small size: so its natural instinct leads it to find a safe refuge in which to hide or relax. In a home setting, boxes can also be useful to avoid clashes or stress caused by forced cohabitation with the other members of the family, be they of the animal or human variety!

Cardboard, what a passion!

Another reason cats love boxes is precisely the material they are made of, cardboard. It is a great surface for the cat to scratch as it’s soft enough to mark with very little effort compared to wood or fabrics, it also retains the cat’s scent-marking pheromones just as well.

Support and warmth

In addition to representing a ‘perfect island retreat’ for your feline, boxes are also an excellent way for them to avoid losing heat, especially if the box is of a similar size to the cat. So in winter, our cat will consider a box a very comfortable, insulated spot within the house to sleep in.

A treasure hunt

If the box is not empty, the cat can explore it to discover new or familiar smells, or unearth hidden ‘riches’, such as balls, pen caps, hair bands or food. For this reason, a simple cardboard box filled with balled up newspaper or other toys can become a perfect mental activation game for our kitty!