Meezer Musings: October 2021
Witchery, Signs and Portents...

Happy Halloween! Tricks, treats, witches and pumpkins are in plentiful supply this weekend as we reach the end of October. Whether you enjoy it or not, Halloween marks a shift in the year for most of us, when thoughts turn to winter and to nesting and staying warm and comfortable indoors.

Residents of Australia, New Zealand and other countries in the southern hemisphere are perhaps more likely to be looking out their summer clothes and firing up their barbecues - but here in the UK the clocks change to winter time this weekend, as they do next weekend in the USA and Canada. Winter beckons!

Whether you're planning to be out trick-or-treating or avoiding the mayhem and enjoying a peaceful evening indoors, I hope you enjoy all the Halloween decorations (and candy!) and the spirit of the season. And, in that spirit, here's one of our Facebook visitors to start us off - gorgeous Snowshoe Elara, who is perhaps wondering how to carve her equally beautiful pumpkin.

Dark seal point Snowshoe Siamese cat sitting on porch, looking at a giant pumpkinSnowshoe Elara, with Halloween Pumpkin
Photo with thanks to and copyright © Kathleen Eberle

This month's Meezer Musings is loosely themed around the signs cats give us to indicate how they're feeling, and we begin with a follow-up to September's question about cats and how they react to mirrors, before continuing with another question - do cats dream? Do they have nightmares? And if so, what are the signs?

While we're looking at signs and symptoms, we also take a look at those that could be telling you your cat might need a visit to the vet, and finally, because it's Halloween (and because the UK firework season is coming up) we have some topical tips to help keep your Meezers quiet, safe and comfortable during what can be a distressing time for all pets, including cats.

Who's That Cat?

If you read last month's Meezer Musings you may remember the piece about Cafra, and the question of whether and how Siamese cats reacted to their reflections in mirrors, illustrated by Cafra, below, who tends to turn his back on himself!

Siamese cat on chair deliberately turns away from the mirror behind itCafra
Photo with thanks to and copyright © Kerri Pothier

Not long after I sent that newsletter out I stumbled quite by accident across this video on YouTube featuring a (non-Siamese) rescue cat called Perseus, who clearly doesn't recognize himself and takes an extreme dislike to his reflection in a bathroom mirror.

The video is worth watching (skip the ads at the beginning), both for the cat's reaction and for the family's concern for Perseus and the things they do to try and distract him and get him safely away from the mirror, before they eventually arrive at a simple and effective solution.

(As an aside, it's never a good idea to touch a cat in this state. The cat will likely lash out at anything that touches him, and in this situation I might even have waited a little longer before lifting Perseus down off the countertop.)

Dreaming in the Dark

Early on in the life of this website I wrote a page called 'Do Cats Dream?'

I was reminded of it recently when I came across a question in one of the Siamese cat groups on Facebook, asking whether other Siamese owners had experienced their cats having nightmares.

In that case, the cat, a young rescue, displayed many signs that he was having a bad dream - growling, licking his lips, body twitches, 'running' with his legs, and a bottlebrush, puffed-up tail.

All of which I'd seen for myself with Bandit, all those years ago.

Siamese cat fast asleep on a dog bed with the words 'Snoozzzeee Dog' on it.Bandit - enjoying a comfortable snooze on a stolen dog bed!

Replies to the question indicated that other owners had seen the same or similar signs in their cats, including the puffed-up tail, something that happens when a cat is excited or frightened.

To me, this is a sure sign that a cat is dreaming, and, together with the growling, would certainly seem to indicate that the cat is having a bad dream or a nightmare.

Is My Cat in Pain?

I belong to a variety of online cat groups and some of the most frequent questions are the ones from people wondering whether or not their cat should be seen by a vet.

A cat's behavior can tell us many things about how it's feeling, and most of us are able to tell when our cats feel unwell, but cats are masters at disguising pain. So how can you tell for sure when something might need investigation or treatment?

A veterinary study published in 2016 asked a panel of expert cat vets to come up with a consensus on ways in which a cat shows pain. Their findings identified twenty-five common signs, which are listed below to help you check for potential problems.

Signs of Pain in Cats

  • Lameness, limping
  • Finding it hard to jump
  • Abnormal gait
  • Reluctance to move
  • Adverse reaction to being touched (applying light pressure)
  • Withdrawing or hiding
  • Not grooming
  • Playing less
  • Lower appetite
  • Lower activity levels
  • Less rubbing against people
  • Change in general mood
  • Change in temperament
  • Hunched-up posture
  • Shifting of weight
  • Licking a particular area of the body
  • Lowered head posture
  • Squinting
  • Straining to urinate (and defecate, in my opinion)
  • Tail flicking
  • Changes in feeding behavior*
  • Hiding away, avoiding bright areas*
  • Growling*
  • Groaning*
  • Closed eyes*

It's a comprehensive list. Most of these might indicate only low levels of pain, but the final five (marked with an asterisk*) were thought to indicate higher pain levels and potentially more serious problems, so watch out for those.

We tend to know our cats' behavior well enough to quickly spot any problems or changes, but if you're at all unsure, speak to your vet.

Vet holding a cat and preparing to give medicationAlways better to be safe than sorry
photo: © iStockphoto | Dennis Guyitt

Is It an Emergency?

Following on from the signs above, here's a further list of 'red flag' situations. These indicate potential emergencies, when you should take your cat to the vet urgently.

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Persistent coughing
  • Runny or watery eyes or nose
  • Bleeding/pus from a wound or anywhere else on the body
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Repeated diarrhea
  • Not eating (especially if for longer than 24 hours)
  • Not drinking
  • Fitting, seizures or repeated twitching
  • One or both pupils don't respond to light
  • Unable to stand upright or walk normally
  • Walking in circles or bumping into things
  • Increase in drinking and urinating
  • Trouble urinating, or peeing outside the litter box
  • Unexpected weight gain or weight loss
  • Appearance of any unidentified lumps or bumps
  • Loose skin or an 'open' coat
  • Generally looks unwell, uncomfortable, not responsive
  • Difficulty giving birth when pregnant

I hope the lists above are helpful. If you're in any doubt, it's always best to have your cat seen by a vet - to receive prompt treatment if it's needed, and to put your mind at rest if not.

And now back to our Halloween weekend ...

Topical Tips for Halloween

Decorated houses, trick-or-treating, excited visitors, noise, masks, costumes, candy, pumpkins and spiders galore ... Halloween is all great fun for those taking part! But there's often a lot of unusual activity and it can be a confusing, even frightening time for pets.

Here in the UK we have an additional celebration, Guy Fawkes' Night on November 5th, involving bonfires and fireworks. What used to be purely a one-night event often now turns into several weeks of firework displays, starting at the end of October and continuing well into November.

But whether you're celebrating on October 31st or November 5th or some other time completely - all of it can cause a great deal of extra stress and anxiety for our pets.

So before you head off to enjoy some seasonal fun, here are our topical tips for keeping your cats calm, happy and safe.

  • Where are your cats? At Halloween you're likely to be opening your front door more often than usual, and it's easy to forget to check where your cats are. So make sure, before the fun begins, that they're safely enclosed in a room where they won't be affected by all the comings and goings and, most importantly, won't be able to escape.
  • Make them a hideout. Make a safe space in your quietest room with beds, toys, food, water, litter tray and any other comforts to keep your cats happy and away from the commotion.
  • Keep them quiet and calm. Close windows and doors and draw curtains or blinds to help limit the noise that comes into the house. Pheromone plug-ins or sprays like Feliway can help keep cats calm - spray it in your safe space. Staying calm yourself and not reacting to loud noises also helps to reassure your cat that nothing is badly wrong.
  • Check decorations and costumes. Lighted candles and lanterns should be placed out of your pet's reach to avoid them being knocked over. Pet costumes, while cute, should be checked to make sure they're comfortable, allow your pet to see and breathe easily, and only used for a very short time.
  • Candy can be toxic. Chocolate and any (usually sugar-free) candy containing xylitol are poisonous to cats and dogs, so keep all candy out of reach of your pets. It's a very good excuse to eat any leftovers yourself!

Tail End ...

Have a safe and happy weekend! In last month's Meezer Musings I mentioned our special 'Siamese Cats at Halloween' page, which proved popular so in case you missed it, you can find it here.

And if you're still looking for a calendar for 2022, I've updated our Siamese Cat Calendars page, so be sure to check that out!

That's all for this month but I'll be back at the end of November when, in a festive frame of mind, we'll be taking a look at Siamese-themed gifts, cards, decorations and other joyful goodies in our traditional Christmas Meezer Musings.


Missed a Meezer Musings? A list of previous newsletters can be found here.

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