Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BONDED PAIRS: A San Francisco Tradition!

By Daniel Quagliozzi

At the San Francisco SPCA, we believe ALL feline bonded pairs should be recognized equally, whether they are one male and one female, two males, two females or even one cat and one dog. Bonded pairs are twice the fun, easier to keep happy through life's unpredictable transitions and let's not forget double the love!

What is a "bonded pair"?

Due to unforeseen circumstances, cats that have lived together for many years are displaced and surrendered to animal shelters, where they are forced to adjust to sudden changes and find a new home. At least they still have each other, right?

Simply put, two cats that will be incomplete without each other are a bonded pair. In some cases, they are un-adoptable on their own. The pain of being alone makes their behavior regress and their life condition take a turn for the worse. Illness, depression and lack of socialization will soon take over, leaving no inkling of the cats they once were together.

In many shelters across the country, keeping two cats together is unrealistic, due to space and time constraints. At The SF/SPCA, our adoption staff will not separate a bonded pair for a quick or convenient housing solution. Our experience has taught us that separating a bonded pair is, quite simply, inhumane. Instead, we do everything in our power to place these animals in a loving home where their bond is respected and where their love (and the human-animal bond) will flourish.

It’s not always easy or cost effective to respect a bonded pair. We accept that we might be criticized for our adoption policy. But this is San Francisco. And if we don’t lead the way, who will?



Sugarfoot & Gus

Like many victims of the poor economy, Sugarfoot & Gus lost their home and were estranged from the people they learned to love together. They wound up at San Francisco Animal Care & Control where they would wait for placement into the SF/SPCA Adoption Program. Shyness, loss of appetite and extreme fear had seemingly taken over for them. With the assistance of our volunteers, staff and Cat Behavior Team; Sugarfoot & Gus baby stepped their way back to the affectionate and quirky couple they once were. They are still looking for a happy ending to this story. Add two more reasons to wake up in the morning to your daily routine.



Defying all odds, Puff Daddy & Norman did not come in to the SF/SPCA as buddies. Instead, they found their precious bond through a life threatening disease called FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) Although FIV cats are compromised and may live shorter lives, it does not change the ties that bond two animals together. It's our job as humans to keep these cats indoors and smothered with love and proper medical attention in order to give them the quality of life that they will need to carry on. The SF/SPCA will pair off cats with FIV to help make room for even more cats that need our attention. Luckily, these two cats, bonded by blood... got along famously!


Puff Daddy gets his very appropriate name because like most "Tom Cats" he came in to shelter life from a prior life outdoors. His male pheromones inflated his cheeks, making his head sort of look like a triangle. Thankfully, it has since deflated. Puff Daddy's charm, zest for play and commitment to his buddy Norman make him a solid addition to a home that wants to watch a zany comedy unfold each day.


Norman is no slouch either. He demands attention from people and will sort of compete with Puff Daddy when it comes to being the center of attention. In the very first picture, you can see Puffy sneering at Norman after a quick argument about lunch. They get over it real fast and will soon be affectionately cleaning each other in the picture window. Norman prefers to go first, of course and won't waste his time unless he has an audience.

The San Francsico SPCA takes great pride in keeping bonded pairs together. Support this great cause by inviting a twosome into your home. Your life will change. I promise you.

If you would like more information about:

Sugarfoot (A7078656) & Gus (A7078619)

Puff Daddy (A7343894) & Norman (A7279115)

Call our Adoption Center at 415-522-3500 and ask for more details about these incredible pairs.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Large and In Charge: Tugboat

By Jamey Walker


As you can see,Tugboat is a full figured cat. He’s 26 pounds to be exact. With his stubby little legs and some encouragement, he makes his way over to you for some full-sized love. His normal greeting is a flop to the side, followed by a roll with full belly exposed. Unlike most cats, you can pet his belly completely while he lays in apparent bliss.


Now I have to admit I can’t get enough of this cat. Tugboat makes me giggle every time I see him and if I need to take a break and unwind, I usually make my way to his room and all my stress vanishes. Tugboat is a cat that we picked up from Animal Care and Control. His owner passed away and he was left homeless as a result.

While I’m sure Tugboat’s owner loved him immensely, his weight is nothing to joke about, as it’s also a life threatening condition for him. Now I love a fat cat as much as the rest of us, but if Tugboat ever needed to be put under anesthesia, he would have a much higher mortality rate than a cat of appropriate weight.

Our plan of action for our beloved Tugboat is diet and exercise. We have him on a lower calorie food and have volunteers and staff giving him lots of playtime. He doesn’t run and jump around like most cats, but he is starting to move around more and more every day. In fact, he’s lost a half pound already!

If you’d like to adopt this charming guy, come by the SF SPCA and ask for him or call 415 522-3500.
UPDATE 5/30/09:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Velcro Kitties: Pointers for 9 to 5 guardians and their over-attached cats

By Daniel Quagliozzi


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

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

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

Signs Of Feline Separation Anxiety

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


  • Distress as the owner prepares to depart: This can take many forms, but some of the more common reactions are meowing, sulking, apparent depression, slinking away and hiding. (No, seriously it's true!)


  • Vocalization (crying, yowling, meowing) right after the owner has left or even when you are sleeping.

  • Anorexia – the affected cat is often too anxious to eat when left alone.

  • Inappropriate elimination – often in the form of urine marking. Deposits of urine or feces are often near to the door from which the owner has departed or are on that person’s clothing, bed sheets, or places like bath mats, rugs and behind or under furniture.

  • overgrooming2

  • Excessive self-grooming. This starts as a displacement behavior but can progress to compulsive self-grooming if unchecked. See: Don't Lose Any Hair Over It


  • Destructive behavior – rare, but some cats may claw and scratch door edges presumably in an attempt to escape their solitude. This can also happen while you are sleeping to get you to wake up and give them attention.

  • Exuberant greeting behavior – as if greeting you after you left on a long vacation. ( Where have you been ?!?!?!)

Here come the solutions!

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


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

Strategically position bird feeders near the windows with a view.


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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Let The SF/SPCA Cat Behavior Team trim those daggers for you!


Our bi-monthly Cat Claw Clipping Clinic is happening Wednesday, May 20Th 2009 at 6pm to 7pm

Each month, we offer a Cat Claw Clipping Clinic for guardians who need regular assistance keeping kitty’s claws clipped. (Try saying that three times fast.)

Clinics are the first Sunday of each month from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m., and on the third Wednesday of each month from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Clinics are conducted at The SF/SPCA Spay Neuter Clinic located in the Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center, 201 Alabama St.

No appointment is necessary, but you must confine cats in carriers.
The cost is $10.00 for the front claws and $15.00 for all four feet.

* Mention "Litter Did You Know" and get $5 off your total! *

*Black Cat Bonanza*


Can you believe it? At just 5 years old, our black beauty Scarlett has been waiting for a special person to come along and give her a home since February 19, 2009. She's a very unique cat, despite her everyday black cat cuteness. Scarlett likes to call the shots when it comes to petting and playtime, but doesn't let that stop her from totally owning you! She has this magnetism that kind of catches you off guard. This flirtatious feline also has FIV, which limits her availability to homes without cats or those that already have FIV playmates.

What is FIV? See our blog on FIV AWARENESS.


Oh, Miss Otis! We all know someone who has a cat like this. She`s a 10 year old who knows exactly what she wants and can be a little "persnickety" at times. For some, this is no biggie, almost not worth mentioning. Miss Otis is looking for those very people who understand her limitations. She has been in our care since February 02, 2009

Here`s her deal: She`s very affectionate, wants to be near you and enjoys petting but doesn't want you to go overboard or anything This is your dance space, this is her dance space right? Honestly to know her is to love her. She rolls and shows you her over-developed belly. Her purr has a cute squeak and she has one giant long white whisker. How can you resist?



Raven entered our shelter on February 15, 2009. At just 3 year of age, like most black cats in shelters, Raven has been overlooked for the very things that make her stand out from the rest. The love she shares with her human companion is immeasurable along with a chirpy purr and a penchant for chasing a fake mouse like it's a the most valuable object ever to cross her path. Raven needs a special person to take her away from the boring shelter routines and give her adventures to occupy her attention and time.

Monday, May 18, 2009

No Rest For The Weary: The kitten storm has landed

By Daniel Quagliozzi

Kittens, kittens, kittens.....aren't they so cute? Everytime I see one, and let me tell you...I see my fair share everyday, I just want to kiss em' all! A kitten never gets dull. They just keep coming in like gremlins after you spill water on them. *Poof* there's another one!

Stanley DSC_0106

The problem with all of the kittens flooding our shelter is that they take much needed space away from our adult cats that trickle in at a "slower" but steady speed all year round. Not to mention... the impact it has on our staff that tends to their feeding, cleaning and welfare. This is the way it goes every year when the California sun gets hotter and the days get longer. We are the animal welfare warriors that brave the storms and come back for more and more and more.

The following video explains The commitment of the San Francisco SPCA. Grab a tissue and a loved one. This is going to make you emotional. I ask that you take the time to watch it all the way through and reflect on it afterwards. Our dedication to the homeless animals of San Francisco is only possible with your help.

If you are interested in Fospice or Adoption, please come to The San Francisco SPCA and help us find homes for the older and special needs cats that are being overlooked.

There are currently 78 cats looking for loving homes at our shelter!!!!!!

Click to see these amazing felines.

Did you know that there is no national SPCA or parent or umbrella organization that provides financial support to The SF/SPCA? Each SPCA and Humane Society are completely unrelated organizations. We are a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, independently chartered organization that is not affiliated with any other "SPCA" or humane society. When you make the choice to give a donation this year, please consider contributing to the SF/SPCA directly. The animals we care for really need your help. DONATE NOW!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

By Daniel Quagliozzi


Our recent blog, My Cat Made Me Do It and My Alarm Clock Is Hungry sparked some seriously interesting replies from our readers. It's good to know that I am not alone in my situation with Matilda, the 18 year old tortie-terror.

As promised, I have compiled a lot of the replies that I found most intriguing and have posted them below. What amazes me the most about your emails and comments is the popularity of cats that drink from glasses, sinks and non-pet specified decanters. Maybe we're on to something here? Enjoy the comments and thanks to all of you for contributing to LDYK!


Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink...

My little Matilda's name was Klarizza, big gold eyes and black she owned me! Also not only did she drink from the glass she would cup her paw in the glass and drink that way. But what I still miss is I couldn't figure out why I didn't always here the alarm. Because Missy Klarizza would walk on or around my head and stand with her from legs on the snooze button and then go back to her pillow and back to sleep. That was my girl and I still miss her.

~ SFGATE comment


Double ditto on the water glass. And if the water level is too low for the little pink tongue to reach it, in goes a cupped paw to get the water up to tongue level. Cats have staff.

~ Heandi


Daniel has Matilda the cat. My roommate Karole has Betsy. Betsy drinks out of a medium sized blue mug located on top of Karole's bookcase. Usually she dips her front paw into the water and then licks it off. Over time Karole has tried to replace it with other styles of mugs, but Betsy refuses to drink from them. Betsy also likes to collect random objects from all over the house and deposit them on Karole's bed. Yesterday's haul was a plastic straw and a quarter.
~ Jamey


I am currently the owner of two adorable, large, quirky cats. They are both physically eccentric, which makes me even more fond of them, and in my eyes very enjoyable to watch in their day to day activities. One of my favorite things to watch these little rug rats do is drink water. I swear, I have tried every shaped water dish for cats you could find. They refuse to drink out of water bowls, it's just not in their nature. They eat of out normal cat dishes, but when you place the water next to it, they could really care less. Usually, they just pig out and get food in the water, thus turning them off even more.


So how do my cats stay hydrated? My bathroom sink! I could hire Mr. Clean and I still would have a consistent amount of kitty paw prints on my sink counter. Lily literally wedges her entire body into the sink, head towards the faucet, only to enjoy just the smallest dribble of water. I can be doing my make up, brushing my teeth or cleaning and she will still just get all up in the sink, like she owns it. I guess it's therapeutic for her? She reminds of a fat raccoon washing in a stream - except it's my big girl cat who knows she's getting her way.

~ Jessica


Soze balances on the toilet ledge, using his one front arm to steady himself, and then dunks his head into the water. I mean full on facial dunk into the toilet, like he needs a refreshing dip with his beverage? He will also meow/howl if the toilet seat is down, only to stop once you lift the lid for him (don't assume I'm rude b/c my toilet seat is always up!). He also gets annoyed if the toilet is in use, because apparently toilets only exist to keep my cat's thirst at bay (for the record, he only drinks clean toilet water!).

I suppose this is bad kitty behavior, but I have literally tried to detour them, and it just won't work. It also doesn't help that they can open doors, so shutting them out of the bathroom is just a joke to them. All in all, they are good kitties, and I am a sucker so therefore they get their way. I must admit, it's pretty entertaining to see 12+ lb cats wedge and dunk in my bathroom, when they could just simply lap out of a water dish. Although, I must admit, life is pretty good when the only living thing hogging your bathroom is your cat....

~ Stacey

It doesn't end with water. Some people shared all kinds of stories with us...

My number one cat had a list of tricks to play on me, seventeen pages long, single-spaced. She never had to go beyond page one. One of my current cats came to me when he was eight years old. He is still training me; I am so stupid.

~ SFGATE comment

I had a cat like Matilda. Her name was Gina. Funny, also a torti. And funnier still - with that exact behavior of turning in circles under the covers until she found her exact comfy spot. One cute thing she did was she would curl up around my neck and let me wrap an arm around her to which she would raise her arm and drape over my arm. God, I miss that.May she rest in peace 1989-2007

~ Tortimom

My 14+ year old 16 pounder also has her list of commands, which include: 1) I should stay home all day every day (it's a challenge, what with the full time job and all) 2) Water in the same locale Matilda prefers--and it had better be fresh! 3) Shade pulled up JUST enough to let her see out and make maximum use of afternoon sun 4) food bowl NEVER EVER SHOWING THE WHITE AT THE BOTTOM! 5) litter box cleaned WAY more than I do it. Apparently I am still not quite fully trained, but I'm working on it! God I love cats.

~ SFGATE comment

My feline companion, LittleBit, comes to me in the afternoons and demands I tuck him into bed. He will sit there and cry, then race to the bedroom and proceed to burrow under the covers by my feet. I have to stay put for at least 10 minutes or he gets cranky. He also let's me know when the kitty litter is getting nasty by having me follow him to the back, placing one paw in the litterbox, then looking up at me. He's such a good boo.

~ SFGATE comment


First off, I would like to commend your most recent blog about Matilda's quirks, it was a very fun read and it's nice to know that my cat wasn't the only one to demand cold water out of a glass :) Missy hated anything and everything with a strong odor. So I suppose it goes without saying that everything scented had to go. No more lotions, perfume, hair products, air fresheners, incense, smoking, even gum - it all had to go. She was blessed with many crazy quirks, which can never be duplicated quite the same, and despite her passing last year I still plan on keeping my house ever more scent free...

~ Kirsten

And FINALLY, We saved the BEST for Last...

My cat Violet was born to a feral mother who lived somewhere among the runways at SFO. She's never been a particularly affectionate cat (with humans, that is. She loves her cat companion, Junie, like crazy), but she has ways of asking for the kind of attention she's comfortable with.

This video shows her engaging in her nightly bid for some "buttbone-bumping" with my foot:

~ Dennis

Wait....before you click to see Violet's Ritual, take note of the two links below it. Ok, now you can watch the video.

We love your stories. Keep them coming! Email any stories or requests for Cat Behavior advice topics to

Also, don't forget to visit to get up to speed on EVERYTHING The San Francisco SPCA is doing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Wow, every week "Litter Did You Know" seems to be gaining popularity. We give our heart felt thanks to the editors of for featuring "My Cat Made Me Do it" on the front page of their site. It has generated a huge interest in our blog and created a worldwide fanbase for my 18 year old cat , Matilda. We both thank you dearly.





The Art for AAT auction will be held on May 16th at 201 Alabama Street. Come meet AAT volunteers and therapy animals and hear about the real impact of our work firsthand. The auction will feature Bay Area artists and collectors who have donated beautiful items in support of The SF/SPCA AAT Programs. There will be dozens of pieces in a range of prices. For donors, including first time donors, we will have two special talks on Parrots and Therapy and our new MESCAAT program. All proceeds benefit The SF/SPCA AAT Programs.

What is Animal Assited Therapy?

At The San Francisco SPCA our Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Programs started in 1981, making us the oldest program operating within a larger animal welfare organization. We currently have more than 100 volunteer teams making visits to locations throughout San Francisco. Working with their own friendly dogs, cats, small animals and birds, our busy volunteers share the human-companion animal bond with more than 40,000 people annually.
The Animal Assisted Therapy Department operates two programs: the General AAT Program and the Puppy Dog Tales Reading Program. Both programs are designed to facilitate communication, healing, and motivation by bringing the love of companion animals to people in mental and physical healthcare facilities, libraries and schools.

For more information on becoming an AAT volunteer please call 415.554.3060 or email to request an application.


Zynga Partners with San Francisco SPCA to Raise Awareness for Helping Homeless Animals

Zynga (, the largest developer of social games, and The San Francisco SPCA today announced their recent successful partnership, which has resulted in more than $20,000 in donations for the animal welfare agency. Through virtual transactions of real-world in-game currency in Zynga's highly popular virtual world game, YoVille, players can adopt special SF/SPCA shelter cats and dogs from the in-game shelter through virtual transactions paid with real-word money.


YoVille is a free-to-play online virtual world game that is located on Facebook and MySpace. Users create custom characters and apartments, and can invite their real-world friends to play and interact with them in the YoVille universe. Through the newly added Pet Shelter, players are able to adopt a bulldog wearing an SF/SPCA vest with YoCash, YoVille's real-world in-game currency. The sale of each bulldog donates $2 to The SF/SPCA. Players receive an in-game philanthropy badge for adopting their SF/SPCA companion animals and are able to take them to their YoVille home to care for them and play with them. In addition to the bulldog, players are now also able to adopt a special SF/SPCA cat.

"Zynga builds games for social networks, and one focus for social networks is altruism and philanthropy," said Mark Pincus, CEO, Zynga. "We had been looking for ways to help users of Facebook and MySpace give back to society while interacting with their favorite social network game. In YoVille and The SF/SPCA , we found the perfect match."
"We are thrilled to partner with Zynga," said SF/SPCA President, Jan McHugh-Smith. "By reaching out to the virtual world, Zynga helps raise awareness about adopting shelter animals and, at the same time, supports the local community by selecting the San Francisco SPCA as the designated non-proft receiving this generous support."


Despite our best effort to get Maya adopted on "CINCO DE MAYA", she is still here looking for a home. To help you get a better idea of Maya's amazing personality, we have posted a video clip below:

If you are interested in adopting Maya, give The SF/SPCA a call at 415- 522-3500

Monday, May 11, 2009

When Cat Meets Dog....The road ahead can be rocky

By Daniel Quagliozzi


In all my years of working with cats in a shelter environment, perhaps the most popular question asked is; "Can you help me find a cat that will get along with my dog?" As simple as this question may appear to be, it's a huge math equation that requires a predictive approach to finding the answer. It involves guess work, prior knowledge about the independence and gregariousness of the cat and also some background on the resident dog. To put it frankly, it's very hard to answer without thumbing through an entire list of animals and trying to imagine them adapting.

So, to make things simpler for all of you to make these decisions on your own, I have compiled some tips to help you out with the search for the ultimate dog-friendly-feline.

Smoothing Out the Rocky Road Ahead:

The best predictor of how cats and dogs will get along together is their background. Have you walked past a cat with your dog? Did it growl, bark or lunge, or did it just get curious or not care? Audition your dog on leash with a willing cat that already has dog experience – they are less likely to run away and pee on your brand new Ikea sofa. It’s also good to try out the same cat on more than one occasion and to try out more than one cat. The trick will be finding this brave and un-frazzled feline. Some cats, or shall I say most cats ...will want nothing to do with this experiment.


Read up on the cats past history. If you are adopting from a shelter, ask the adoption staff to dig up any information on the cats prior experiences. This will be essential in trying to imagine how it will be effected by a dogs approach, play and general cohabitation.

Be aware that certain dog breeds are hard wired to chase small prey. A feisty terrier that digs holes in your yard and brings home dead critters may not be a good companion for a 2 month old kitten. Predatory types are much more stressful for cats and must be constantly managed when around the cat if they are to live with one. Predation is not something a dog can be easily trained not to do as it is deeply ingrained.


Cats who have not been socialized to dogs will almost always behave defensively, by fleeing and/or with an aggressive display the first time they encounter a new dog. If the dog does not come on too strong, and if the cat is given dog-free zones to retreatto, many cats will gradually get used to the dog and sometimes even become bonded.

Ok, So you did it. You combined a cat and a dog. What should you do to make your home more appealing to both?


  • Have a “safety room” or rooms as well as high places the cat can access but the dog cannot. Baby-gates, cat doors and clearing high surfaces can accomplish this. It is important that the cat can retreat to regroup and relax away from the dog and then venture forward into “dog territory” at her own pace. The cat should have access to food, water and litter in this area so no interactions with the dog are forced.


  • Never force the cat (or dog) into proximity by holding them, caging them or otherwise restricting them from escaping. This is defintely not going to help matters. Aside from it being inhumane, stress is a common reason for cats to break litter box training and nobody wants that!

  • For the first introduction, have the dog on leash in case he decides to chase. If it seems to be going well, take the leash off and supervise closely.

  • If the dog is behaving in a friendly and/or cautious way, try to not intervene in their interactions, except to praise and reward the dog for his good manners.


  • Interrupt any intense chasing and try to redirect the dog’s attention to another activity – this is very difficult so you may be forced in future to manage the dog on-leash around the cat until you have worked out a routine or divided up the house.


  • In the first few weeks, observe the trend: are things getting better or worse? Monitor interactions until there is a pattern or plateau in their relationship.


  • If the dog is the newcomer, be sure to give plenty of extra attention to the cat so she does not associate this change with reduced attention and affection. If the newcomer is a cat, it’s also a good idea to make sure the dog associates the new intruder with good things for him. Shoot for positive associations always.


  • Dogs should not have access to the cat litterbox – it is too stressful for the cat and the dog may eat cat feces and litter. Most dogs will also eat cat food the cat leaves behind – we suggest feeding cats in the cat’s “safe” room or on a high surface.


If you are successful with getting the dog and cat to live in harmony, perhaps you want to try adding a rat for good measure?

P.S. we purposely chose pictures for this blog where the cat had the upper hand over the dog. Sorry dog lovers, Litter Did You Know is all about the CATS!!!!!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Cat Made Me Do It

By Daniel Quagliozzi


One of the things that I find truly fascinating about cats is there keen ability to train human beings to do their bidding, no matter how inconvenient the task may be. We go to all sorts of lengths to keep our cats happy, eating, drinking and using their litter boxes, even if it means displacing ourselves in our own homes.

Cats are quirky animals. They could even be described as eccentric in their methods. Sure, human beings are particular about things too, but cats seem to boggle the mind when it comes to their likes, dislikes and habits. No one ever said that living with a cat would be easy. As long as you are trainable, a cat will have no worries at all.


Let's use my very own Matilda for example. As a product of her old age and experience, Matilda has decided that there are certain conditions that she must have in order to get through the day. Most of these conditions happen at the our expense.


1. Matilda must have very cold water presented to her in a drinking glass, located on the night stand next to our bed. (We found this out the hard way when my wife set a glass out for herself in case she got thirsty during the night)


2. Matilda must sleep under the covers and on top of my chest... the moment I lay down for bed each night. This requires me to lift my comforter up so that she can spin around several times on my chest and get comfortable. Other times, she prefers to be tucked in like a human.

cat in bathrobe

3. In the absence of a blanket, Matilda will attempt to crawl under my bathrobe. As you can see, this is only partly successful as there is only so much bathrobe to go around and I am wearing most of it.


4. Matilda asks that her wet food be served exactly at 7:00 Am and 9:30 PM and will resort to trampling all over me (See: My Alarm Clock is Hungry blog) until I finally give in to her cries for attention and her standing on my wind pipe. Her night time demands are more subtle but still effective.


5. Once the food is served, Matilda will have three or four bites of the food, walk away and make herself comfortable in the now empty master bed. She will remain in our bed until roughly 7 pm when we return home.


6. For her daily work out session, Matilda requires that a shoe lace attached to a stick be forever dangling from the same night stand she perches on for water. She has decided that she does not need us for this activity. I guess we can't be counted on.

matilda scare

Cat guardians across the country can relate to Matilda's story. Her needs, although not that outlandish... are still her own. Some cats have color preferences, while others may like the way something feels when they lay on it. Ever wonder why a cat will choose to sit on a magazine when there are so many other places to sit? Freedom of choice is a cats prime directive. They do what they want, when they want and there's nothing you can do about it.

Have an interesting and unique story about your cat and its eccentricities? Email it to and we will post it in our upcoming blog!!

And now, a word from a guest blogger:


by Rod Kilpatrick
SF/SPCA Cat Volunteer

We've all said it. "Oohh, who's a pretty kitty? You're a pretty kittty! Oh, yes yes yes!"
My own cats, Gary and Sponge, finally divulged to me a closely-held feline secret: They find this kind of talk rather condescending. They'll tolerate it, if it eventually results in a treat or a belly rub. After all, cats are nothing if not realistic. They tell us what they want, what they need, what they love and what they're afraid of, and if we're smart enough to understand, they'll get what they're asking for.

Of course, cat communication is far more subtle than that. If we pay attention to their tone of voice, their body language, their ears and their eyes, we can learn a lot more about what they have to say.

But here's what's really interesting: it's a two-way street. Cats don't speak human any better than we speak cat, so they pick up the very same kinds of non-verbal cues from us that we pick up from them.

Want proof? Well, if you're lucky enough to be owned by a cat, try this. The next time you have a good day, or a bad day, or any kind of day, sit down and talk to your cat about it. Not in some kind of made-up cat language, but in your own language, whether it's English or Espanol or Francais. Exactly the way you'd say it to a human friend.

Your cat may at first look at you as if you're crazy. But keep at it. Eventually, your voice, your face and your body will automatically communicate to your cat in ways that transcend spoken language. And while you might not find answers, I guarantee you'll find at least two sympathetic ears.

So try it. Have a chat with your cat. They always get the last word anyway.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009



Litter Did You Know... does it Again!!! For the second month in a row, the official blog of the San Francisco SPCA Cat Behavior Program has broken records and gained even more notoriety. According to LDYK is among the top 5 most recommended blogs and also listed as one of the top 10 most read blogs on their site for the month of April.

Be sure to spread the word about our blog. If you would like us to cover a topic, please email Daniel & Jamey at


Would you be willing to give a home to a hospice cat? We are currently taking care of a number of cats that have terminal medical issues. These delicate cats would thrive in the comforts of a home environment and would be much happier having someone special to care for them until the very end. It takes a strong and understanding person to take on this role, but the importance of what you are doing is immeasurable. Do you have room in you heart for a special cat?

If you are interested in being a Fospice volunteer, please contact Alison lane at or call (415) 522-3642


"The Cat Made Me Do It" starring Matilda the cat .... Are you being trained to do strange tasks to accommodate your cat?

With Guest Blogger SF/SPCA Volunteer Rod Kilpatrick

Cats & Kids ....How to select the perfect cat for your household

Cats & Dogs .... Introducing your new feline addition to a resident canine companion

Haven't been to the new Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center? Check out the new digs from a pet's eye view!

Leanne B. Roberts Animal Care Center

201 Alabama StreetSan Francisco, CA 94103


Open Seven Days a Week8 a.m. - 6 p.m (except holidays)

View Map »

Free Client Parking in The SF/SPCA Lot at Alabama & Treat Streets.

Monday, May 4, 2009


By Daniel Quagliozzi


We devote today's blog to an extraordinary little lady that needs your help. Maya, an older, more reserved brown tabby female is an equisite creature with a dynamic personality that has warmed the hearts of so many people, yet no one has made the decision to take her home. Like many homeless cats, you might say the odds have not been in her favor. Today we roll the dice for Maya!


You may remember Maya from several blogs ago. She has made many transitions since she first arrived as a surrender to Animal Care and Control of San Francisco. Maya spent weeks living in the Cat Behavior Office as our Shelter vets worked to get a handle on her arthritis, which was causing her to limp when she attempted to walk. In our opinion, the slight limp and smirky look on her face only made her that much cuter. I am not embarrassed to say, Maya really touched me and actually made me "do the math" about bringing her home to my resident cat. It just wasn't realistic and I'm sure my Matilda would have been mad at me for doing so.

Now, after a few months of maintenance on her joints, Maya is walking a lot better but still has a rough time getting up after she has been sleeping off another one of her victorious play sessions. Despite her aches and pains, she remains to be the most awesome cat anyone could ask for. The question is, who's asking?


Beautifully mature cats like Maya are often over-looked when shelters are bracing for the storm of young and vibrant kittens that arrive when the weather gets warm and the rain subsides. While it's still an admirable thing to adopt a kitten from your local shelter, please do not forget the older cats that need your home as well. They have a prior life and a story to tell, a quality that no kitten can relate to.

Older cats are deeply effected by the change of losing everything that they once held close in exchange for a strange and unfamiliar kennel space and the company of one stranger after another. Kittens adapt a lot faster and stay in shelters for as little as two days to a week before they find a home. An adult cat may spend anywhere from one week to five months living in a shelter environment.


At the age of 10, Maya is the perfect example. She ended up in a shelter due to circumstances beyond her control. Her life and well being are now under the watchful eye of many caring individuals at the SF/SPCA. What's missing in her life is the love of one or many people who will wake up everyday and include her in their lives. Maya craves a day that she can predict and a human guardian that she can call her own. She needs a home with guardians that will keep her on top of her game and watch over her health. An environment with steps or high levels to climb may be too much for her stubby little legs. However an inventive person might create a place for her that makes getting up high an easier task to accomplish. Maya prefers to be a people's cat and not a cat friendly cat. She was actually adopted once but was unfortunately returned to the shelter because she did'nt appreciate the company of other cats.

Today is MAYA MONDAY and tomorrow is CINCO DE MAYA ...but the reality is that every day of the year is dedicated to those cats who do not have the voice to ask for help. Will you be there for Maya?

Make the month of May the month for Maya!

If you are interested in adopting this amazing feline friend, please contact the SF/SPCA by calling 415 522-3500 or come to Maddies Adoption Center at 250 Florida Street, SF, Ca 94103