RIP Erica [fr]

Ça peut finir comme ça
Une vie de chat
Au Tierspital
Le jardin a fait place
A une cage à oxygène
La liberté
Aux machines
Tu n’es déjà plus là
Même si ton coeur bat
Tu as fait de ton mieux
Et nous aussi
Mais ça n’a pas suffi

Entre mes larmes
Un festival de “j’aurais pu”
Le doute toujours
On aurait bien pu faire autrement
Mais au final

Tu n’as pas juste fait mieux que rien
Me dit-elle sagement avec amour
Tu as été splendide
Tu as donné tout ce que tu pouvais
Quand il en avait besoin
Sans pour autant te griller complètement
Au point de ne plus pouvoir être là pour toi
Ou pour d’autres qui ont et auront besoin
De ce que tu pourras leur donner
Ce que tu fais est suffisant
Et parfait
Parce que tu l’as fait
Les hypothétiques et les regrets
Feront toujours pâle figure
Face au vrai
Face au réel
Face au fait

Ça peut finir comme ça
Une vie de chat
Pas comme on voudrait
Jamais vraiment comme il faudrait
Avec des regrets et des doutes
Des larmes plein le coeur
Et des nuits sans sommeil.

Erica nous a quittés au petit matin, malgré l’excellente prise en charge dont il a bénéficié nuit et jour toute cette semaine au Tierspital de Berne pour un abcès au foie.

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Feline Diabetes: My Advice for Diabetic Cats [en]

After 2.5 years of dealing daily with feline diabetes (and over two years of managing a French support group), I thought I’d put together an English version of what my best advice for diabetic cat owners is so far, as most of what I’ve written on the subject is in French.

Things to know

I’m starting with this as a sort of FAQ/TL;DR:

  • upto 84% of remissions within six months of diagnosis using Lantus/Levemir and home monitoring (injections do not have to be for life)
  • Lantus/Levemir are far superior to Caninsulin/Prozinc
  • home monitoring makes a huge difference in quality of regulation and reduction of risks, as well as chances of remission
  • a diabetic cat can be well-regulated and lead a normal life
  • FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitors can be used successfully on cats
  • a normal human glucose meter can be used for monitoring, pet meters to not add significant value to the monitoring
  • diabetic ketoacidosis kills more cats than hypoglycemia – at a bare minimum have urine dipsticks to monitor ketones in urine
  • inject twice a day at regular times, and prefer syringes over pens (you can draw insulin from the pen with the syringe)
  • inject a constant dose of insulin (no fiddling with the dose at each injection), and adjust the dose progressively according to the lowest glucose value reached with the previous dose
  • a decently regulated diabetic cat can miss a dose of insulin now and again if necessary
  • a diabetic cat can be fed wet, dry, raw, whatever you want; less carbs and more protein is good, therapeutic “vet” diets are fine; free-feeding dry therapeutic food has huge advantages with Lantus/Levemir
  • never change a cat’s diet without close monitoring if it is under insulin

Getting started

If your cat has just been diagnosed, you’re probably in shock and afraid to lose him or her. The first thing I’d like to tell you is that feline diabetes is a very manageable disease, and that there is no reason for a well-managed diabetic cat to die from diabetes.

The second is that the treatment for diabetes is insulin injections (no way around that), and you will get over your fear of doing them if that is an issue for you. And it does not have to be “for life”. A 2009 study has shown that with the right treatment protocol (Lantus/Levemir insulin and serious home monitoring), upto 84% of newly diagnosed cats (less than six months since diagnosis) could achieve remission. Remission means the diabetic cat doesn’t need insulin injections anymore.

I have seen cats in critical condition upon diagnosis, skin on bones or diabetic ketoacidosis (more on that later), with other illnesses, go on to not only survive but thrive and reach remission. It’s work, of course, but it’s worth it. I have seen owners who were panicked by needles and blood go on to not only give insulin injections without a second thought, but also monitor blood glucose at home multiple times a day, with a little blood prick on the edge of the ear (the cat usually minds way less than the human doing it!)

A well-managed diabetic cat can have normal quality of life and live out the rest of his cat years with no major consequences.


Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. Its job in the body is to make glucose from the bloodstream enter the cells (glucose is fuel/energy for the cells). Diabetes is due to an issue either in insulin production (poor pancreas is sick or damaged and can’t do its job correctly), or what is called “insulin resistance”, meaning that something in the body prevents the insulin from doing its job correctly. The insulin is there but it can’t get the glucose into the cells. This insulin resistance then exhausts the pancreas as it tries to keep up, in vain. Common causes of insulin resistance are obesity, illnesses like acromegaly, or (note the vicious circle) high blood glucose.

To manage diabetes, we are going to give the body extra insulin to help it along and help feed the cells. Insulin is a fragile molecule, and it doesn’t survive going through the stomach, so it has to be injected. The needles used to inject insulin just under the skin are tiny, and cats barely feel the injection once you get the hang of it.

There are four different insulins that are commonly prescribed for cats: Levemir, Lantus, Prozinc and Caninsulin (called Vetsulin in the US). Levemir and Lantus give by far much better results than Prozinc or Caninsulin. With them, cats are easier to regulate, get a better quality regulation, and a higher chance of remission. Remission and correct regulation are possible with Prozinc and Caninsulin, but less likely and more tricky. On the French group, we often help owners discuss switching insulins (French document) with their vet.

If you can get Levemir or Lantus, go for it. Prozinc is better than Caninsulin, but Lantus and Levemir are in a whole other category. If you have a human insulin like NPH or Insulatard, it’s going to behave similarly to Caninsulin. Tresiba (a new, long-lasting human insulin) seems to behave like Lantus and Levemir.

Whatever insulin you are using, you want to inject twice a day, 12 hours apart. With Lantus or Levemir, it’s really 12 hours – give or take 15 minutes. With Caninsulin and Prozinc there is more flexibility (even a couple of hours), but you’ll get better results with regular injection times.

You also want to inject the same dose of insulin continuously. Varying doses or skipping injections regularly make regulation difficult. The best dosing methods involve injecting the same dose of insulin for some time, then evaluating how that dose is performing through blood glucose measurements, and then adjusting the dose by a small increment, and reevaluating again, and so on.

Using syringes rather than pens allows for more precise dosing and also makes the injection itself faster for the cat.

Home monitoring

Home monitoring is the key to managing diabetes well. It’s even more important than the choice of insulin. With a glucose meter, you can easily check your cat’s blood glucose. Regular measurements will help keep your cat safe (both from hypoglycemia and from the consequences of bad regulation) and give you precious information to adjust the insulin dose (with instructions from your vet or by following a time-tested dosing protocol). This will give your cat the maximum chance of remission and, even if you don’t reach remission, the best regulation possible, and therefore the best quality of life and health.

If you can, I highly recommend using a FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitor for your cat. The monitor is attached to the cat’s skin with a sticker. It lasts upto 14 days and each time you scan it (with your cellphone or a dedicated reader) you get the last 8 hours of readings (4 readings per hour). This means you never miss any information on how the blood glucose is evolving, and you can relax about when to check it. It’s also a great solution if you’re away from home a lot, need to board your cat or have somebody looking after him or her that cannot do “ear prick” tests, or if your cat is hard to test (I’ve had one, I know some cats can be impossible). Here is a video demonstrating how to apply the FreeStyle Libre sensor, and providing some explanations. (See on Facebook.) Many owners apply the sensor themselves at home.

One thing you should absolutely be monitoring, whether you monitor glucose or not, is ketones. An unregulated diabetic cat can develop ketones (if his cells are starving so much that he starts metabolising fats to get energy). Ketones accumulate in the blood and the cat ends up developing diabetic ketoacidosis, a deadly complication. Cats with DKA (diabetic ketoacidosis) can be treated and saved, but in my experience many vets are not equipped to manage it, as it requires 24/7 intensive care for a number of days. I have seen way more cats die from ketones and DKA than from hypoglycemia.

Keeping an eye open for early traces of ketones is therefore absolutely necessary, both for your cat’s life and your bank account. It can be done in two ways: either with a glucose meter which also measures ketones, or with urine dipsticks (photo below). If you’re not monitoring blood glucose, get the urine sticks. They have colour codes which will also tell you how much glucose is in the urine, a precious indication if you’re not monitoring blood glucose. If you are monitoring blood glucose, then a meter is a better choice, because it is more precise, and you do not need to wait for the cat to pee. If your cat has already had ketones or DKA, she or he has a one in three chance of developing ketones again. In that case too, you really should have a meter. (Note that the FreeStyle Libre reader also doubles as a glucose and ketone meter.)

So, if you’re not monitoring blood glucose, the absolute minimum you should be doing is monitoring glucose and ketones in urine, if not daily, at least a few times a week.

If for some reason you cannot monitor blood glucose or install a FreeStyle Libre, you can monitor water intake, weight (weekly), amount of food eaten (if free-feeding), and general clinical signs like play, purring, grooming, habits, etc.

You will want some kind of notebook or spreadsheet to track your monitoring, whatever form it takes. A shared online spreadsheet using Google Sheets is a great solution (see below).


Don’t do this alone. Managing feline diabetes is a marathon, and can feel overwhelming at first. Your vet cannot give you the day-to-day support you will get from an online support group, where you will benefit from the experience of those who have gone through what you are going through now, and (often) 24/7 support, either for technical questions or simply to cheer you up or hold your hand.

If you speak French, join the group I manage on Facebook, Diabète félin: apprendre à gérer son chat diabétique (groupe de soutien). If you speak German, join the Diabetes-Katzen Forum (where the tight regulation protocol published by Roomp and Rand in 2009 was developed). If you are an English-speaker, join the FDMB (Feline Diabetes Message Board).

Of course there are both cultural and “technical” differences between these support communities, in addition to language. So the advice you will get will not be exactly the same. Here are a few key points on where the views you will find in the French community (therefore mine) differ from those you will find on the FDMB (as this is an English article):

  • In the French group we do not insist on feeding a wet food diet even if tight glycemic control is desired, our experience being that it is perfectly possible on dry food, and we have a good opinion of therapeutic (ie, “diabetic/veterinary”) diets over commercial ones.
  • We recommend starting insulin first, and worrying about diet later, rather than postponing the start of insulin therapy to put in place a diet change.
  • When glucose values are high we increase insulin at an accelerated rate, depending on how much monitoring the caregiver can provide (in line with discussions I have had on the German forum).
  • We encourage the use of FreeStyle Libre continuous glucose monitors whenever possible, as they offer less stressful monitoring for owners. The continuous monitoring allows for more assertive dosing decisions as there is no uncertainty regarding past glucose values.
  • Our management of low glycemic values (50 mg/dl and below on a human meter) is slightly more relaxed than on the FDMB, more in line with the German site. Same for dose reductions, as long as there is sufficient monitoring and owner experience.
  • We don’t give a lot of importance to removing food 2 hours prior to pre-shot glucose tests, and are OK with free feeding.


Food is one arm of diabetes treatment. Feeding a cat a diet with less carbs is going to help bring blood glucose numbers down. But beware: less carbs is not the only thing that counts. The overall quality of protein in the food is important, and some therapeutic diets are formulated to help keep the blood glucose stable (the whole question of which carbs).

This is where my advice strays from the lot of what you will find online. On the French group we have very good experiences with dry diabetes-formulated therapeutic food, in particular Hill’s m/d. The huge advantage of dry food is that you can free-feed the cat (use a food silo – the cat should never see the bottom of the bowl, and shouldn’t know the human is the food distributor). Of course, if you have a cat who likes wet food, that is fine too. Do what works best for your cat and you.

If for some reason or another you need to give your cat another diet (food intolerances or other illness that requires a special diet), it is still possible to get its diabetes regulated. It will just probably require more insulin. Remember that the goal is not to give as little insulin as possible: it is to keep the blood glucose low and stable.

If you are giving Caninsulin or Prozinc, you’ll want to make sure your cat eats a reasonably good meal just before or around injection time, and has the same amount and kind of food over each 12-hour period following an insulin injection.

If on Levemir or Lantus, nibbling throughout the day works fine (total free-feeding). We have seen cats that were very bouncy and hard to regulate on very low-carb wet food become much easier to regulate (with more insulin, but who cares?) and less bouncy on a free-fed dry therapeutic diet.

For some cats, of course, reducing carbs to the max will allow them to be diet-regulated and go off insulin. But pay very close attention to the quality of the food in question – quality is not just about carbs, ingredients (or lack of certain ingredients), or form (wet/dry/raw). It is about nutriments.

I don’t recommend changing the diet before starting insulin. A diet change can bring along a host of problems and with a diabetic cat, you want to start insulin as soon as possible and get clinical improvement quickly. If and when you change food:

  1. do it progressively, over a week
  2. monitor blood glucose levels closely, as they might drop and you might have to reduce the insulin dose

Never change the diet of a cat that is on insulin without close monitoring. It can go into hypoglycemia and die.


Having a diabetic cat comes with a certain number of constraints, the most obvious of which is being there twice a day 12 hours apart for insulin injections, every day.


  • Prozinc and Caninsulin allow flexibility in injection times, up to a few hours, as long as blood glucose is high enough at injection time
  • A well-regulated cat can skip and injection now and then
  • With Lantus or Levemir, if you can’t inject at the normal time, injecting approximately 6 hours after what would have been injection time (give or take a few hours) and skipping the next injection mitigates the “damage” due to the skipped injection
  • It is possible to find (or train) pet-sitters to give injections
  • Some diabetic cat owners take their cat with them on holiday
  • Some places will board diabetic cats
  • If you are not there to monitor blood glucose (the person replacing you will do injections but not monitor glucose) consider putting a FreeStyle Libre continuous blood glucose monitor on your cat.

Many cats reach remission, which means an end to injections. Some cats are so well-regulated that although they don’t reach remission, they can move down to one injection a day (Lantus/Levemir) and skip injections regularly.

Financially: to make a budget, do not look at sticker prices, but calculate how much insulin, food, strips etc. will cost for a month. Dry food is cheaper than wet food, for equal quality. Not all insulin is the same price. Regarding test strips, in Canada the One Drop unlimited subscription is really the cheapest option. In France, we calculated that the One Drop is cheaper if you’re using 5 strips a day or more on average. Do the math for your country! In France, it costs less than 100€/month to give your diabetic cat 5-star treatment. Generally, home monitoring costs less than doing curves at the vet, and decreases the chances you will need to spend a lot of money on an emergency.

Risks and caution

Most people are afraid of hypoglycemia. It is indeed a risk that comes with insulin therapy, but if you are home monitoring, increasing the insulin dose gradually, following safety guidelines and avoiding brutal diet changes, the risk is very small. Having access to food further decreases this risk.

Most serious hypoglycemic episodes I have witnessed or heard of occur after a diet change with no monitoring, large dose increases with insufficient data to justify them, or long periods of injecting the same dose with no monitoring.

What people are unfortunately not afraid of enough is diabetic ketoacidosis, probably because it is a complicated word and “ketones” (despite the popularity of “keto” diets) are not part of our everyday vocabulary or life experience.

I have seen more cats than I can remember die from diabetic ketoacidosis. This is in particular a danger for newly diagnosed cats or badly regulated cats. The absolute first thing one needs to be doing with a diabetic cat is checking urine for traces of ketones.

It is often recommended to skip the insulin dose if the cat is not eating. This advice can be dangerous, as one of the first visible symptoms of ketones will be loss of appetite. Skipping insulin for a cat with ketones will make the situation worse and things have a high chance of spiralling out of control. This is why at the bare minimum glucose and ketone urine checks should be made. On the other hand, injecting a full dose of insulin on a fasting cat who is normally well-regulated can be disastrous too (hypoglycemia).

High doses of insulin are not dangerous as of themselves, and some cats need them. The only risk of “too much insulin” is hypoglycemia, so if you are monitoring to stay safe on that side, there is no reason to be worried about the number of units you are injecting – considered you reached that number progressively and with adequate monitoring.

If you are injecting Lantus or Levemir, injection time is very important (give or take 15 minutes). Injecting less than 12h after the previous injection can lead to hypoglycemia.

What if I don’t treat my cat’s diabetes ?

Not treating a diabetic cat shouldn’t be an option. If it is lucky, the cat will waste away to be just skin and bones, starving and drinking like a fish the whole time. It is not comfortable. If it is not lucky it will start producing ketones and die of diabetic ketoacidosis.

If your cat is diabetic, it needs insulin. What I describe in this article is my “best advice”, but if the alternative is no treatment, then anything is better than nothing – even one injection a day with scarce monitoring.

Many people don’t believe they will be capable of caring for a diabetic cat, be it for needles, constraints, or finances. But trust me, solutions are found, and many people caring very well for their diabetic cat today didn’t think they would be capable of doing it when they got the diagnosis.

Diabetes can really be very well managed, so it’s absolutely worth giving your diabetic cat a chance at life.

My vet doesn’t agree

The advantage of online support groups is that we have the luxury of paying attention to just one illness, whereas a vet has to know everything on everything – and for more than one species. Feline diabetes is a very niche condition, and vets are generally not very familiar with it, and dread it – cat owner reactions tend to range from panic, despair, to asking for euthanasia.

So, vets are generalists, but people in feline diabetes support groups have probably read more on feline diabetes and followed more diabetic cats than most vets, though of course their knowledge on anything outside that field is certainly going to be lacking.

Vets tend to have an approach to treating feline diabetes that makes it as easy as possible on the owner: no home monitoring, just injections, drop the cat off every now and again to check blood glucose (a curve, or in some cases, a single spot test). The consequence is that they aim for an improvement of clinical signs: the cat stops losing weight, stops eating as if it were starving and drinking like a fish, doesn’t go into DKA or hypoglycemia. With home monitoring, however, we can do much better, and aim for remission or great blood glucose regulation, rather than just a stabilisation of clinical signs.

Also, vets, like other medical professionals, are often faced with people who have “found information online”. 99% of the time, the information in question is crap. So, don’t assume your vet is going to take seriously your “online research” on feline diabetes, even if you can see that it is solid.

Links and conclusion

I’ll probably add to this article as I remember things I have forgotten to include. I hope you found some useful information here! To finish, here are links to some recent publications on feline diabetes if you want to read more.

Photo: Quintus and Oscar, my two diabetic boys (one in remission, the other with a FreeStyle Libre)

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Des cours sur les chats et leur comportement [fr]

[en] An inventory of the (now numerous) courses I have followed on feline behavior. The next one is on ageing cats, in two weeks.

Note: ne ratez pas le cours le chat âgé, le 12 juillet 19-22h à Semsales, près de Châtel-St-Denis! 60.- le cours; je fais le trajet en voiture depuis Lausanne et peux prendre du monde.

Si vous aimez les chats, si cet animal vous intéresse, que vous désirez mieux comprendre votre félin, améliorer votre relation avec lui, voire résoudre des problèmes de comportement: je ne peux que vous encourager à vous intéresser à une série de cours que j’ai suivis avec grand intérêt.

Bien sûr, j’avais l’intention de faire ici des comptes-rendus à mesure, mais vous savez comme c’est. Alors je vais vous faire un petit inventaire synthétique et aussi vous signaler le prochain cours, sur le chat âgé, qui a lieu le 12 juillet 2018. Il reste encore de la place. Les cours sont donnés par le vétérinaire comportementaliste que j’avais consulté à l’époque pour les problèmes de marquage de Tounsi.

Mon amie Claire, une blogueuse bien plus rigoureuse que moi, a écrit toute une série d’articles suite à ces cours que nous avons suivis ensemble. Je vais donc sans autre forme de procès vous aiguiller sur ses articles.

  1. Le premier cours qu’on avait suivi, Entre chat et moi, était le seul donné par une autre comportementaliste. J’avais trouvé extrêmement intéressant. D’où vient le chat, côté évolution? Comment vit-il? Comment fonctionne-t-il? En gros, qu’est-ce qu’un chat? (les notes de Claire). [note: j’ai commencé à mettre ici certains des points qui m’avaient frappé, mais ce sera pour un article séparé…]
  2. Le deuxième cours portait sur les jeux, activités, et occupations du chat. C’est suite à ce cours que j’avais écrit Le chat, animal si pratique, mais qui s’ennuie “à dormir” dans nos maisons, et fait une longue vidéo live sur Facebook. Comment occuper son chat, conçu pour passer une dizaine d’heures par jour à chasser, et enfermé la plupart du temps dans une cage dorée où la nourriture est servie sur gamelle? J’en étais ressortie avec plein d’idées pratiques pour améliorer le quotidien des mes chats, même s’ils sortaient déjà, ce qui enrichit déjà largement leur environnement. Lire les comptes-rendus de Claire: partie 1 (nourriture), partie 2 (jeux et activités), partie 3 (espace).
  3. Nous avons ensuite fait un petit détour par la nutrition (générale et thérapeutique). C’était fascinant aussi! La nourriture est vite un sujet de débat “religieux” parmi les propriétaires de chats, donc c’était bien d’avoir quelques notions de base, des outils, et un peu de science à laquelle se raccrocher pour garder son esprit critique. Ce que j’ai apprécié particulièrement lors de ce cours est qu’il n’avait pas pour but de débattre si cru, croquettes, humides, ou rations maison étaient “le mieux”, mais de clarifier quels sont les besoins nutritionnels du chat et nous aider à déterminer si tel ou tel régime est équilibré. La preuve, tant Claire que moi avons trouvé ce cours intéressant: elle donne de la nourriture crue à ses chats et moi des croquettes! Voici d’ailleurs deux articles qu’elle a écrits suite à ce cours: l’alimentation du chat, introduction et les conséquences d’un déséquilibre alimentaire.
  4. Le cours sur le développement du comportement du chat, même s’il se focalise pas mal sur le chaton, était aussi utile pour comprendre comment un chat devient un chat, et ainsi mieux rentrer dans sa “logique de chat”. Comme tout le monde, j’adore les chatons, mais je fais aussi campagne pour que les gens adoptent les adultes qui se morfondent dans les refuges plutôt que de simplement craquer pour un “chaton cromignon”, et donc je n’ai pas de grande expérience (ou intérêt) côté reproduction, mise à part m’être occupée de trois orphelins il y a déjà pas mal d’années de ça. Ce cours a abordé en particulier les questions d’inné et d’acquis, le mode d’apprentissage du chat, sa socialisation (à l’espèce féline et aux autres espèces). Claire a écrit Comment se développe le comportement du chat et Le développement du chaton, partie 1 et partie 2.
  5. Nombre de problèmes comportementaux sont dûs au stress et à l’anxiété, donc c’était utile de suivre un cours sur le sujet. Comme les humains ne sont pas stressés par les mêmes choses que les chats ou les chiens, on évalue souvent mal ce qui est source de stress pour notre animal. Avoir les clés, c’est précieux. D’une part pour que notre animal se sente bien, d’autre part pour réduire certains comportements non-désirés qui sont dûs à des stress évitables.
  6. Septième cours suivi (!): la communication féline. Un inventaire très utile des différents signaux émis par le chat (sonores, visuels, olfactifs, posturaux, etc) et leur interprétation. C’est plutôt complexe, mais vraiment intéressant. Depuis, je vois les soucis que la cécité de Quintus pose dans ses (rares) interactions avec Erica, quand ils se croisent dehors. J’ai aussi découvert les différentes fractions de phéromones, l’importance d’observer des choses comme la position des oreilles ou le diamètre des pupilles vu que les odeurs et les phéromones ne nous sont pas accessibles, et on a aussi parlé de l’impact de la “socialisation forcée” chez les chats obligés à cohabiter. Claire a écrit La communication féline pour débutants suite à ce cours.
  7. Dernier cours en date, la douleur chez le chat et le chien. Là aussi, sujet hyper important vu que le chat masque sa douleur et ne s’en plaint pas, et donc que celle-ci va se manifester à travers son comportement, qu’il s’agira d’interpréter correctement. Vous imaginez que c’est un sujet qui me tenait particulièrement à coeur, avec Quintus et toute son arthrose. Mieux comprendre les éléments physiologiques de la douleur m’a permis de comprendre un peu mieux comment agissent les différents médicaments qu’on a pour agir dessus. Comme toujours, Claire a été bien plus organisée que moi et elle a publié Qu’est-ce que la douleur chez le chat? Comment la repérer? Comment la soulager?

Dans deux semaines, je me réjouis vraiment d’aller suivre le cours sur le chat âgé. Quintus a 17 ans, âgé depuis un moment, et il présente plein de problématiques de vieux chats: douleur et maladie, handicap (cécité et difficultés de mobilité), activité réduite, un peu de désorientation… Je suis déjà relativement bien équipée pour m’occuper de lui, mais je me réjouis de compléter les lacunes dans mon “éducation féline”! Cet automne, j’ai prévu de suivre le cours sur l’intelligence des chats, chiens, et autres animaux. Et je me tâte même pour aller faire un petit tour chez le chien, animal que je connais moins bien que le chat mais qu’il m’intéresse aussi de comprendre.

Faites-moi signe si vous vous inscrivez au cours du 12 juillet!

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The Speed of Time [en]

[fr] Réflexion sur le temps au travail et le temps à la maison, les chats malades et l'hiver.

Routine is settling in. As I have mentioned, my time seems to be shrinking. Or speeding up. It’s a good sign when time flies by, but it scares me. I look at my colleagues, some of whom have been in the same position, doing pretty much the same job, for decades — and try to imagine waking up ten years from now, getting up at the same time in the morning, going to the same place, doing the same thing with the same people. This is the life of many, but there’s something scary about it for me.

A year has passed since Tounsi started being ill. It was early November. He had his MRI early December. He died January 1st. It still feels very recent. His ashes are still in a little box in my bookcase — I haven’t felt ready to spread them in the garden yet. I think I should just do it.

Quintus hasn’t been well lately. I took him for a checkup before starting my new job. He has pancreatitis, and developed diabetes as a result. He’s on insulin now (it’s been 10 days) and we are hoping to get the pancreatits under control. He’s been improving, slowly, with a bit of back and forth. But I have to face things: he’s an old cat, going on 17, and we’re lucky he’s still around. I treasure every extra week I get with him, and hope it will be months. But there are no certainties.

And so I face another winter with the prospect of possibly losing a cat. Bagha died just before Christmas, too. I don’t believe in magic, so I’m not scared winter is “more dangerous” for my cats than any other time of the year. But it does mean that I have had some difficult winters — including the one following my mother’s death when I was a child.

My preoccupation with Quintus makes me feel my hours away from home with a particular awareness. My days at work don’t feel long, but my time at home feels short. A week is a handful of waking hours. I’ve become somebody who doesn’t want to spend any more time away from home than absolutely necessary.

My professional ambition right now is a job that allows me to come back home for lunch. That would be just wonderful.


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Routine and Freedom [en]

[fr] La liberté, et la routine. Trop de liberté ne rend pas forcément plus heureux. Et si la liberté c'était de pouvoir choisir ses contraintes? Retour sur mon histoire avec la liberté et les habitudes.

Kites @ KepongPhoto credit: Phalinn Ooi

I think about routine a lot. I spent a lot of time when I was at university trying to be free. I was quite free, actually. Habits and routine are something we can get stuck in and that might shield us from seeing things we need to see — but I naturally gravitate to the other end of the spectrum, the introspective one, the one who thinks too much, wonders too much, asks herself too many questions. It was clear to me, already back then, that routine/habits had their use: they allowed us to lighten the load of thinking and deciding when it comes to our lives.

I spent ten years at university. Ten. Being a student. Three years studying chemistry (and finally failing), and seven years in what we call “Lettres”, studying History of Religions, Philosophy, and French. One of those years was spent in India. I then spent a lot of time not writing my dissertation. All in all, I spent many years with very long holidays and a very do-it-yourself schedule. It was a good time of my life. It was difficult to see it end.

Is freedom so important to me because of this slice of life, or did I hang out in that context so long because of how important it is to me?

Over the years, I’ve realised that “too much freedom” in the way I live my days does not make me happy. By that I mean complete lack of routine. Was it the first or second summer I was living alone in my first flat? A friend had used the kite metaphor: when you’re free, you let the string out and the kite can fly far, far up high. And I had let my kites go out a bit too far. University resumed, I drew my kites in.

In 2009, it felt like I had got my shit together. My life felt “under control”, in a good way. I wasn’t scrambling after things. If I remember correctly I was even doing my accounting regularly (that’s saying something). And I remember that during that year, I had a pretty solid morning routine. I actually would set my alarm clock. I would wake up at 7:30, and at 9:00 I would be at eclau to work, having pedalled on my stationary bicycle for a good half-hour.

Then 2010 happened. During my catless year, in 2011, I travelled way too much. I made up for all the previous years of no holidays. 2012 was chaotic. All that to say I never got back to where I was in 2009. Briefly, yes. But not consistently. And I know very well how important it is for me to have routines and good habits, so it’s something that’s often top of my mind. But I find myself coming short.

Things might be changing right now. This morning I wrote my first Morning Pages. (Loïc’s fault for mentioning them.) Last week, I got confirmation that Quintus is pretty much completely blind, and so I’ve been actively thinking about how to stabilise his environment — space and time. Quintus is a very routine-oriented cat. All cats are, to some degree, of course.

Blind Quintus Taking a Stroll

So between Morning Pages, cat-related routine, no money to travel (keeps me at home!) and wanting to get back on track when it comes to physical exercise (judo injury in March and slightly expanding waistline that doesn’t fit into favorite winter trousers anymore), the time seems ripe.

I’ve also been wondering recently if I’m not sleeping too much. One of my precious freedoms is not setting an alarm clock in the morning: I sleep as much as I want/need. But I still feel tired. So I think I’ll go with the 7:30 alarm for a bit and see if it changes anything. I’ll report back.

On another note, I sometimes feel like I spent a huge amount of my time in the kitchen dealing with food. I like cooking, and I like eating. But maybe I should limit the number of times I actually cook during the day. I eat a “normal meal” at breakfast, so I sometimes end up cooking three proper meals a day. I should probably reheat or throw something quickly together for morning and lunch, and just cook in the evening.

The biggest freedom might be the freedom to determine your own constraints.

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Facebook: Sharing or Showing Off? [en]

[fr] Une prise de conscience d'une part de l'effet négatif que peuvent avoir sur moi les publications positives de mes amis sur Facebook (je suis contente pour eux, mais en comparaison, suivant mon humeur, ça peut faire ressortir à mes yeux mon inadéquation), et d'autre part du fait que je contribue peut-être à cet effet chez les autres avec mes partages (de tout mon temps passé au chalet dans un cadre magnifique, mes voyages, la voile...).

A few months ago, I realised that certain posts that showed up in my timeline on Facebook didn’t make me feel very good.

  • another of my friends was writing a book
  • somebody else was hanging out with exciting “famous” people
  • yet another was pregnant
  • somebody had a new exciting professional gig

I felt happy for all these people, of course. Amongst my peers, I’ve been reasonably conservative about connecting with people on Facebook, and bar a few exceptions (that’s life), I’ve only friended people I like. So, when people I like are happy, or have a new exciting job, or are about to be parents, or lead exciting lives, I’m happy for them.

Neige et chalet 129 2015-01-18 17h45

But during times when I’m not feeling too good about myself or my situation, or going through a tough spot, or suffering a bout of self-doubt, learning about these good things in my friends’ lives actually brings me down.

The explanation is quite simple: social comparison. We tend to do that. Some more than others. We compare ourselves to others. It’s a background process, really, and I personally have a lot of trouble turning it off or at least down.

I’m somebody who is on the whole positive/optimistic about the internet, the digital world, social media. I think it is overall a good thing. For us as a society, and for us as people. So I’ve always looked at articles like this one with a bit of skepticism.

What I see described in some of these “facebook envy articles” doesn’t really fit with what I observe on Facebook. They sometimes paint a picture where people are actively putting their best foot forward and showing off the highlights of their lives, and others spend their time actively stalking their friends lives, seething with envy. I’m exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.

Kolkata Streets 2015 38

When I noticed that learning good news about my friends’ lives was bringing me down, it took me a while to realise I was experiencing some form of Facebook envy — because the mechanisms I could see didn’t fit with what I had been (half-heartedly) reading about.

I didn’t see my friends as bragging. They were just sharing stuff about their lives. And of course, people are more likely to share “Yay got the book deal!” than “ate a cheese sandwich for lunch”. Or maybe they also share the cheese sandwich, but more people are going to like the book deal and comment on it. And so Facebook’s algorithm is going to push it to the top and make it appear in my newsfeed, rather than the cheese sandwich.

I also didn’t see myself as actively trying to compare myself with others. This was just part of the “keeping passively in touch” role that Facebook plays for me. Catching up asynchronously, and probably also asymmetrically. But behind the scenes, social comparison was working overtime.

Sailing in Spain

I learned to take time out. Leave Facebook for a while and go do something else. It didn’t spiral out of control. Yay me.

As I was becoming aware of what my friends’ posts was sometimes doing to me, I started having second thoughts about some of the things I was posting. You see, I have a chalet in the mountains, in a really picturesque area in the Alps. I go there quite often during winter, as I take a season ski pass. And I share photos.

What’s going on in my mind is not really “see how lucky I am”, but more “I’m aware how lucky I am and I want you to get to experience some of this too”. My intention is generous. It is to share so that others can benefit too.

But I’ve realised lately that this may not be the impact my posts have on others. My sometimes seemingly endless chalet and mountain photos might be for others what book deals and professional success in my newsfeed are to me.


People with families, or two weeks of holiday per year, or who live in parts of the world that make travel more difficult or simply don’t have the means to move from where they are might feel (rightly) envious of some aspects of my life. I travel quite a bit. Aside from the chalet, I have a boat on the lake, go to India regularly. My freelance life has drawbacks, but one of the advantages is have is that I have quite a bit of freedom with my time and where I am, as some parts of my work are location-independant. And I live in Switzerland, for heaven’s sake.

Of course, I try to share the good things about my life, because I’m aware I’m privileged, and I don’t want to spend my time whining or complaining. I do complain, but about the small things, usually. Like people saying “blog” to mean “blog post”. The big things that bring me down are also much more difficult to talk about, and so I don’t often mention them. But I’m generally happy with my life and that is what I try to express.


I don’t experience what I do on Facebook as “self-promotion”. Every now and again I “do self-promotion”. I write a post that really has to do with my professional area of expertise, or I share information about something I’m working on. But that’s far from the majority of my postings. Most of the time, it’s really just “oh, look at this, I want you to enjoy it too!”

Now, however, I’m more and more aware of the part I may be playing in fuelling other people’s social comparison blues. Am I going to post yet another photo of how beautiful the mountains are from the chalet balcony? Or showing that I’m sailing on the lake? Or that I’m hanging out with the cats again?

Furry Boys

I don’t know if I’m going through a realisation that will change what I post about or not. But it’s definitely changing how I think and feel, to some extent.

What about you? Do you get “bad feelings” seeing what your friends are upto? And do you think about what “bad feelings” you may unwittingly be eliciting amongst your friends through your postings?

And what is the solution to this?

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Bad Cat Photos (And Links. Non-Cat Links.) [en]

[fr] Des liens. Surtout.

I still haven’t found the magic solution to grab interesting links on-the-fly and collect them for a future blog post. I easily share to facebook, G+ and Twitter from any device. Anything shared on Twitter ends up in delicious, and so does everything shared to facebook (albeit privately). I stuff things in Pocket when I don’t have time to read them and the tabs start piling up. I’ve started sticking things in Pocket that I have read but want to blog about. It’s going to be messy.

The Basket is a Little Tight

I hardly got through the first item in my notes with my last post. So, sorry for the somewhat stream-of-consciousness blogging. Welcome inside my head.

A facebook friend of mine asked us what we thought about couples who have shared email or facebook accounts. The reactions were mostly swift and strong: eeeeeeew! Mine was too.

Online, your account is your identity. Are you “one” with your significant other? Joint accounts, for me, point to symbiotic relationships, which I really don’t consider healthy. Are you nothing without your SO? Do you have no individuality or identity aside from “spouse of”?

This reminds me of how in certain communities the “second” of a couple (ie, not the primary member of the community) sometimes feels a bit like a satellite-person, using the “primary” as a proxy for interacting with the rest of the community. This bothers me.

It bothers me all the more that the “second” is (oh surprise) generally the woman of the couple. It’s a man’s world, isn’t it, and women just tag along. Enough said. A bit of reading. Not necessarily related. And in no particular order.

In “offline” news, I’ve been redoing some of the furniture in my living-room. (“Cheese sandwich”, here we come.) One part of trying to solve Tounsi’s indoor spraying problem is getting rid of the furniture he irremediably soiled, and that was the opportunity for some changes.

New Furniture

The picture is bad, but you see the idea. Huge cat tree on one side, and “cat ladder” created out of two LACK bookshelves from IKEA (don’t put all the shelves in). More for Tounsi than for Quintus, clearly, who is more comfy in the ground-level basket I brought back with him from England three years ago. His elbows aren’t what they used to be, so jumping down from anywhere is a bit of a pain.

Basket for Quintus

Yes, today comes with a lot of bad cat photos. Sorry.

Anyway, I had to remove all my books from my bookcase to move it over one metre, which gave me the opportunity to start sorting, now that I’ve gone all digital with my kindle. I’m finding it very liberating. All those kilogrammes of books I’ve been carrying with me for 20 years! I can now feel free to let go of all but the most meaningful or precious. My Calibre library only takes up space on my hard drive — and hardly any.

(The WordPress editor is doing horrible things to the formatting in this post. My apologies.)

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A Post About Many Things [en]

[fr] Des choses en vrac!

It happened again. As time goes by and things to say pile up, the pile weighs heavy on my fingers and blog posts don’t get written. Been there, done that, will happen again.

First, a heartfelt thanks to all the people who reacted to my post about being single and childless, here and on facebook. Rest assured that I actually rather like the life I have — it’s full of good things. But it’s very different from the one I imagined. I will write more on this, but exactly when and what I am not sure yet. Also, one can grieve not being a mother but not want to adopt or be a single parent. There is a whole spectrum of “child desire”, and it’s not at all as clear-cut as “no way” and “I’ll do anything”. Check out “50 Ways to Not Be a Mother“.

Most of my working hours are devoted to running Open Ears and a series of digital literacy workshops at Sonova. I’m still way behind on my accounting.

Tounsi (and his pal Quintus) went to see an animal behaviour specialist, because I was starting to get really fed up cleaning after Tounsi’s almost daily spraying in the flat (thankfully his pee doesn’t smell too strongly and I’m good at spotting and cleaning). I plan to write a detailed article on the experience in French, but it was fascinating and I regret not going earlier. As of now, spraying is pretty much under control, and I’m in the process of finally chucking and replacing two pieces of furniture which are soiled beyond salvation.

What I learned:

  • outdoor cats can also need stimulation (play, hunting…)
  • even a 20-second “play session” where the cat lifts his head to watch a paper ball but doesn’t chase it can make a difference, if this kind of thing is repeated throughout the day.
  • making cats “work” for their food can be taken much further than feeding balls or mazes: change where the food is all the time (I wouldn’t have dared do that, didn’t know if it was a good idea or not, but it is); hide kibble under upturned yoghurt cups; throw pieces of kibble one by one for the cat to run after (another thing to do “all the time”); use an empty egg-box to make kibble harder to get to; etc. etc.
  • clicker training for things like touching a reluctant cat: my baby steps were way too big and my sessions way too long
  • Feliway spray is way more efficient than the diffusor (at least to stop spraying)
  • cleaning with water (or water and neutral soap) is really not enough, there are products to spray on soiled areas which break down urine molecules (even if you can’t smell anything, the cat can)
  • spraying can simply be a “vicious circle” — it seems to be the case with Tounsi: he sprays in the flat because it’s a habit, and because there are “marking sign-posts” (ie, smell) everywhere

While we’re on the topic of cats, I’m playing cat-rescuer and looking for homes for Capsule and Mystik (together, used to living indoors but that could change) and Erika (has been living outdoors for 5 years but super friendly).

I don’t think I mentioned StartUp podcast or Gimlet Media here yet. Anyway: want great podcasts? Listen to Startup, Reply All, and Mystery Show. And in addition to Invisibilia and those I mention in that article, grab Planet Money (I swear, they make it interesting even for me!), Snap Judgement (great storytelling), and This American Life.

Reading? Spin, Axis, and Vortex, by Robert Charles Wilson.

Something I need to remember to tell people about blogging: write down stuff that’s in your head. It works way better than doing research to write on something you think might be interesting for people.

Procrastinating and generally disorganised, as I am? Two recent articles by James Clear that I like: one on “temptation bundling” to help yourself do stuff while keeping in mind future rewards (delayed gratification, anybody?) and the other on a super simple productivity “method”. I read about it this morning and am going to try it.

Related, but not by Clear: How to Get Yourself to Do Things. Read it, but here’s the takeaway: when you procrastinate, the guilt builds up and you feel worse and worse. But as soon as you start doing it gets better. And so the worst you’ll ever feel about not doing something is just before you start. Understanding this is helping me loads.

Enough for today. More soon, or less soon.

Thanks to Marie-Aude who gave me a nudge to get back to this blog. I’d been in the “omg should write an article” state for weeks, and her little contribution the other day certainly played a role in me putting “write CTTS article” in my list of 6 things for the day. Merci 🙂

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Adopting a New Cat: 10 Tips for Newbies [en]

[fr] Quelques conseils et tuyaux pour les personnes peu familières avec les chats.

Not everybody is familiar with cats. Here are some tips and advice for those of you who might find themselves a little at loss with their first adopted cat (or first “real” cat you have the full responsibility of).

Cats (2013 11) -- Mon petit panier de légumes

1. Cat psychology

The main thing to understand about cats is that they are naturally shy animals. They like sheltered places (under then bed) rather than big empty spaces (in the middle of the living room).

If your cat is spooked, leave it alone. It will end up exploring and coming to you, even though it might take weeks. The worst thing you can do is chase after a spooked cat to try and make friends with it. It’s said that cats like those who don’t like them, and there is some truth in there: people who don’t like cats leave them alone.

Cats don’t either like loud noises or brusque movements. To make yourself cat-friendly, avoid speaking too loudly and making scary noises. Move gently. (This is why cats often have trouble with children, who traditionally make a lot of noise and tear about the place ;-))

2. Cat language

Some cats are talkative and meow, others don’t. Meowing is a way of communicating with humans, so if a cat is meowing, chances are it wants something. Usually one of:

  • food
  • water
  • litter
  • to be let out of where they are
  • reassurance (which might not necessarily mean being scooped up and carried, but maybe just visual contact and hearing your voice)

Sushi en septembre 2

Cat body-language is unlike the dog’s: tail flapping is usually sign of annoyance or discontent (again, some cats have more wavy tails than others and might whip their tail around even when purring — but generally less tail movement = better). Ears backwards is fear. Big dilated pupils too. (Or anger.) Purring is usually good, growling and hissing isn’t.

3. How a cat explores

Most cats will explore only at the speed they’re comfortable. They might spend a lot of time exploring with their eyes/ears/nose first before coming out of their hidey-place. They’ll explore a little and then retreat to safety.

Cuisery 24

You and other humans are part of the territory to explore. If you’re away during the day, be sure the cat is making good use of that time to explore — or sleep!

4. Food, drink, and litter

At the beginning make sure that food, drink, and litter are close at hand for the cat. You don’t want it to go days without food because it’s scared (cats actually don’t do well without food for anything more than 24 hours). If the cat is not eating try and tempt him with something specially tasty.

Keep the litter tray as far as possible from the food and water. The cat might take a while to use it (they’re champions at “holding it in”, specially the “big business”, for what might be days). If you’re worried about time passing by and not enough going in or out of the cat, call a vet for advice with the specifics, they’ll be able to tell you if the cat needs medical attention or just a bit more time.

Most cats don’t like their water near their food. More than one water bowl is a good idea (I spread them around the flat). Avoid plastic for food/water bowls as many cats are allergic and develop acne on their chins.

Keep the litter tray very clean (remove whatever the cat does in it as soon as you see it). Open litter trays are more appreciated than covered ones. A few drops of bleach in the litter will encourage the cat to use it. (Remember, what smells nice to you doesn’t smell nice to the cat, so go gently on those litter deodorants or perfumed litter.)

5. Petting and carrying your cat

Cats usually like to be petted once they’re comfortable (and it can reassure them). Not all cats like to be carried. Scratching under the chin, on the head, stroking on the shoulders is usually safe. Scratching the lower back can be either much appreciated or set the cat off. Bellies are best avoided until you know for sure the cat wants it (rolling and showing you its belly does not always imply it wants you to touch it).

When you carry a cat, make sure you support its behind with one hand. Cats have their habits, so maybe your cat has been used to being carried a certain way. Try and see what your cat does when you pick it up and listen to its body-language, it might give you hints.

If your cat hits you or bites you when you pet it, it might mean

  • that it’s not comfortable enough with you yet (specially if it’s at the beginning and it’s still scared)
  • that it’s “over-stimulated” — there is a fine line between pleasant contact and contact that feels like an agression. In that case, learn to stop petting before it becomes unpleasant for the cat. Watch out for flicking tail, ears backwards, dilated pupils. With time (months/years) you will learn to know when to stop, and the cat will gently stretch out its comfort zone.

Max et Lilly à Saint-Prex -- Max

6. Approaching your cat

If your cat is shy, and even if it isn’t, avoid standing full height when you first approach it. Also avoid looking at it directly (staring is an agressive attitude). Look at the cat, look away, look at the cat, blink, look away, etc. Gently stretch an arm forward as far as you can and point your index finger at cat-height in direction of your cat — as if your finger was another cat’s nose.

Cats greet each other by touching noses, and you can mimic that with a finger. Approach your cat with your finger, very gently, and let it do the last bit (don’t ram your finger in its nose, leave your finger a few centimetres away and let your cat do the last bit). If your cat is scared and retreats, retreat too and try again later. Speak gently/softly when you do this.

Once the cat has touched your finger it will probably retreat a bit, or come and rub its head against your hand. Let it do it a bit, and then see if you can pet it a bit with a finger or scratch head or cheeks!

7. Enrichment: toys, outdoors, cat tree

Cats are hunters. They sleep a lot (upto 16 hours a day, mostly when you’re not around). If your cat is an indoor cat you are going to have to play with it every day. Here’s an article (in French) about how to care properly for an indoor cat. Expensive toys are not necessary (they bring more pleasure to you than the cat, so spend wisely). A piece of string or a rolled ball of paper you can throw are fine. Corks on a string and ping-pong balls are great. Fishing-rod style toys are good as they really help you be active with your cat. Clicker training is also something you might consider, as it’s a nice cat-human activity, and it can do wonders in getting a shy/less-sociable cat to bond with you.

An indoor cat absolutely needs a scratching post. It should be really sturdy and tall enough for the cat to stretch out completely when scratching (that can be over 1m high for a big cat!)

If your cat is going outdoors, wait at least 3 weeks to a month before letting it out. More if the cat is still not comfortable with you, doesn’t come when called, or is not quite at ease indoors. Here is an article (in French) that explains how I proceed for letting my cats outdoors.

A cat is going to be happier in a cluttered environment than in a place full of open spaces. It doesn’t mean you need to live in a mess, but particularly at the beginning if you can leave paper bags and cardboard boxes lying around, or a chair in the hallway, etc., it will make it easier on the cat (you’re creating hiding-places). It’s also important that the cat has somewhere to look outside. They’ll spend a lot of time “virtually hunting” just by observing the outside world.

Max et Lilly à Saint-Prex -- Attentive

You can create more “space” for your cat inside by thinking in 3D: where can the cat climb? This adds surface to its territory.

And indoor cat should have access to “cat grass” (usually wheat). You can get it in supermarkets or pet stores depending on your area or plant it yourself. They use it to purge themselves of the fur they ingest while grooming.

8. Education

The golden rule of education is: be firm and consistent. Imitate a mother cat with her kittens: if you decide your cat is not allowed on the kitchen table, a sharp “no!” and swift removal of the cat should work (just pick it up and put it on the floor, or if it’s skittish enough, chase it off with your hand — or it might just jump off as you approach). I usually continue saying “no!” in a stern tone until the cat is back in “permitted” territory. (Be reasonable though: a cat needs to be allowed on the furniture in general!)

It’s usually unnecessary (just sayin’!) to hit your cat. If you have a specially stubborn cat like my Tounsi you might have to swat it on the top of the head with two fingers (imitate a cat paw coming down sharply) but use this with care and circumspection.

What works better for cats who insist on getting into trouble (destroying your houseplants for example) is to run/walk fast towards them, yell or make a huge hissing sound when you get near (like an angry cat), and when they move, chase them away by running after them. This is really imitating what another cat would do.

This technique can also be used for a cat who does not know play limits and bites or scratches you. Stop interacting immediately, hiss and chase the cat away. Then ignore it.

Clicker training can also be a very useful tool for education. (Watch videos on YouTube if you don’t know what it can do.) It can help replace unwanted behaviours by wanted behaviours. Not to mention it can help with useful things like getting a cat into a carrier or having it let you examine its paws.

Quintus has no shame, comfort before everything 1

9. Safety

Open windows and unsecured balconies. Cats do fall from windows and balconies and injure themselves (the cat never getting hurt by a fall is a myth). Tilt open windows are dangerous for cats as they might try and get out through them and get caught in the crack (and die).

Some plants are toxic to cats (famously, lilies — Google will serve you umpteen lists). Antifreeze is very attractive to them, and deadly.

Be careful with power cords (risk of electric shock) and electric/ceramic cookers (burns). Don’t let them swallow string or ribbons (risk of intestinal occlusion).

Chocolate is toxic to cats. So are tomatoes and a whole lot of other human food that doesn’t agree with them well. Cats don’t digest milk, it gives them diarrhoea. They are strict carnivores and should normally not eat anything besides high-quality cat food. (Ask your vet for advice. Supermarket cat-food is usually suboptimal but some brands are good.)

Permethrin, which is found in some insecticides (including dog anti-flea products) is deadly for cats.

A cat which has not eaten for 24 hours is a medical emergency (risk of hepatic lipidosis).

10. Vet and carrier box

If you can, make sure you can get your cat into the carrier box before you need it (but don’t over-spook an already spooked cat by doing it unnecessarily). Leave the carrier outside for a few days instead of taking it out of wherever it is just when you use it. Lure the cat inside with treats. Let it come back out. Put a treat in the back of the carrier, close the door, give a treat, open the door again to let it out. With a bit of practice chances are you’ll have a cat that runs into its carrier to get a treat.

Ask your cat friends for a vet recommendation before you need one. If your cat seems to be settling ok, it can be a good thing to take it to the vet for an initial check-up. Like that the vet gets to meet the cat when it’s in good health and doesn’t need to be tortured too much 😉

Safran aime mon jardin palette 3

Eye issues shouldn’t wait before seeing a vet. Cats are fragile with colds, so a coughing, sneezing, or sniffling cat should see a vet quickly. Cats hide pain very well, so often the first sign you will notice of a cat not being well is that it’s more quiet, doesn’t want to play, isn’t eating much — or simply doesn’t follow its usual habits. If you notice such changes in behaviour, call your vet for advice and probably a check-up. It’s better to catch something minor early than wait too long and end up with a dead cat (sorry to be dramatic but these things happen).

Have fun with your cat!

There, I think I’ve covered the essentials. If you have any questions, use the comments. And have fun with your new cat 🙂

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Fiddling With Video: Lightroom, YouTube, and iMovie [en]

[fr] Je m'amuse avec iMovie. Ça donne une vidéo de chats, bien sûr.

In November, I had Thierry Weber come and give my SAWI students a short practical course about YouTube and online video. It gave me a kick in the pants to (1) accept that YouTube has grown up a lot since its early days and is now a nice platform and (2) decide to put more video material out there.

I still have issues with video: either you edit heavily, and it takes hours of work to get a few minutes out of the door, or you share raw, unedited clips and it takes a long time to consume, requiring the viewer’s undivided attention. Also, like audio, there is no way to really speed through video: if it’s an hour long, that’s the time it’ll take you to watch it. You have way less freedom than with text regarding which bits you skip, pay attention to, go back to, or pay little attention to.

I have hours of video shot in India in 2004 that I have not yet done anything with. And that’s just one example.

So, between the kick in the pants, the HD iPhone always at hands, and cats (the primary source of all online content), I’ve been doing more video these last months. Some of them have ended up on my YouTube channel, but not many (can you imagine I actually have the username “steph” on YouTube? yeah.) But most of them are sitting on my hard drive due to logistical difficulties in turning them into something. (Ugly sentence, sorry.)

Today I had made enough progress sorting my photographs that I felt it was time to tackle my videos. Here’s a peek at how I’m doing things.

  • Firstly, I import all videos into Lightroom with my photos, be they from the iPhone or my proper camera.
  • I use Lightroom to organise them in a separate folder than the photos (per month) and topical subfolders if needed. This means that in my 2013/03/ photos folder, in addition to the various photos subfolders I may have (2013/03/Cats at the chalet or 2013/03/Mountains) I will have a folder named 2013/03/videos 03.2013 which might contain 2013/03/videos 03.2013/Cats in chalet garden and a few others, feline-themed or not.
  • If anything needs trashing, I do it in Lightroom, ditto for renaming. Clips can also be trimmed in Lightroom if I haven’t done it before on my iPhone (oh, a note about that: a clip trimmed on the iPhone isn’t recognised for import by Lightroom; it seems that restarting the phone gets rid of the issue.) If I’m going to upload individual clips to YouTube I keyword them “YouTube” and upload them directly to YouTube from the website.
  • For stuff I want to edit: I import the clips I need into iMovie (hopefully I will have collected the clips needed for one project into one single directory in Lightroom, like 2013/01/videos 01.2013/India snippets and keyword them with “iMovie” in Lightroom. This means they exist twice on my hard drive, but I don’t think there is a good way to avoid that (except maybe trash the Lightroom versions, which I’m loathe to do because I like the idea of having all my video stuff organised somewhere, and I like the way Lightroom does it better than iMovie).
  • My video editing skills are extremely limited: today I figured out (without access to iMovie help, which is online!) how to add a title and credits to my little series of clips stuck together end-to-end to create a mini-movie. Head over to YouTube to see my cats explore the big outdoors are the chalet for the first time.

There we go, more cat videos on the internets from my part!

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