Katz Tales: Furry feline fluff

At the crack of dawn, Target refuses to get up. Photos: Ellen Whyte

Cats have a reputation for being aloof but one of our cats hasn't read the manual.

When I put out a nice top, brush my hair, and fetch my shoes, the furries know instantly I plan to go out.

Target sighs, demands an ear rub, and goes to bed. Inkie rushes to check his food bowl and asks for top-ups. The boys know my absence is temporary because there are no suitcases involved, so they are practical.

Tic Tac lies in front of the door and wails. Our girl is convinced that a family needs to stay together. Preferably in the same room. On the same sofa.

I try to reassure her but it makes no difference. At my efforts to go out, Tic Tac cries pitifully. If I open the door a crack, she flings herself at my feet.

We go through this drama each time, even if I am only nipping out to the supermarket for 20 minutes.

It's always a wrench, the guilt runs hot, so I pick her up and give her kisses before I go.

It’s a soap opera but recently there's an extra and practical issue: fur. When I pick up our princess and cuddle her, she marks me with a delicate sprinkle of white hair.

Usually, I put her down and then go on my way, patting myself down and picking off the odd stray hair.

But recently, the sprinkling has intensified.

I noticed it on the bus last week. It was a little busy, and when a lady sat next to me, clutching two bunches of flowers, her nose wrinkled and she wheezed.

She blamed pollen, but I was uncomfortably aware that she’d been perfectly okay paying the driver, walking down the aisle – and possibly at the bus stop too because she wasn’t clutching any tissues.

As I sneaked a look at my top, I spotted several tufts of Tic Tac's fur. My flower lady was oblivious as she snuffled. Then her eyes started running. Finally, there was a sneeze.

Because of my day job, I always carry tissues. I whipped them out and as she buried her nose into the snowy layers, I quietly pulled my coat closed, hiding the evidence.

Thankfully, we were decanted at the bus stop shortly after. I rushed off, hid in a side street, and inspected my blouse. Despite the customary pat and go, there was fur clustered all over the front.

As I brushed and picked, the truth was inescapable: Tic Tac is shedding the winter coat she worked so hard at growing.

It was odd, but having acknowledged it, the extra fur became super visible.

Tic Tac is shedding fur like a mini snow storm.Tic Tac is shedding fur like a mini snow storm.

When I returned home, cuddling our scolding but relieved princess, I noted the mini snow storm marking our reunion. Inkie was the same. Rubbing his long furry spine provoked a fur shower that made him and Tic Tac sneeze.

As for our old boy, Target is out-shedding them both.

We have a daily ritual where Target sits on the footstool, demanding chin and ear rubs. Like a fool, I upholstered it in black velvet. Stray orange fur is visible under the best of circumstances, so I’ve been giving it a regular pat down. It’s so automatic that I hadn’t noticed I’ve been giving it pat downs a few times a day.

When I patted him this time, I saw that Target left a perfect furry outline of his bottom, paws and tail. Thick and layered, it looked like a Tom and Jerry crime scene.

Frankly, I was baffled. Moving to a country with four seasons, we might have expected our pets to grow and shed winter coats. However, although it is June, it is still cold.

Given I’m wearing socks, leggings, a long-sleeved tee and a cardigan, I was mystified as to why the cats should suddenly regulate their protection according to the calendar rather than the temperature.

Looking into the science, I learned that scientists are still not entirely certain what triggers cats to shed their winter coats. What they do know is that it’s a mix of genetics and environment, but rather than it being temperature that’s key, studies show that sunlight is what really matters. As the days grow longer, animals shed their winter coats.

Now that makes sense because the sun comes up at 4.30am. It blasts up over the horizon flooding our bedroom with beams of yellow light.

Tic Tac loves it. As the birds start singing, our girl is running around busily, looking out the window for wrens and bluetits using our bird feeder, and keeping an eye out for the fox that trots about sometimes.

Inkie is invested in early breakfasts, and so he is up and about at the crack of dawn, standing on us and meowing pitifully about his starvation.

Target is the only sensible cat in the house. He slides deeper under the duvet, pretending he’s fast asleep.

When Inkie stands on him, heavily, Target moans, puts a paw over his eyes, and kicks me, hoping I will get up, entice fat Inkie away and leave a senior cat to his rest.

So much for summer! Where I envisioned pub beer gardens and BBQs, the reality is super early starts, and extra hoovering. In addition, I’m concerned about hairballs.

As cats wash themselves, they ingest fur. Some cats throw up hairballs and some pass them out the other end. But it can also cause health issues. (See sidebar below)

To help our pets along, I’m now brushing them twice a day. The cats love it and thanks to our friend Sharon who gardens, there’s an extra boon.

In Britain, birds usually breed in the spring and summer but some live in nests all year round. And guess what’s the perfect luxury material for nest lining? Cat fur!

So I pet the fuzzies, collect their fluff and put it outside. With the masses we’re offering, the birds in our neighbourhood will soon have gorgeously luxurious nests lined with fancy white, black and orange fur.

That’s something to purr about.

Adopt Me

Lenny was born in May 2023, so he’s a big kitten. This boy is fully vaccinated, neutered and healthy.

Lenny enjoys belly rubs and he is also very sassy. He loves people and adores our attention. However, he doesn’t like other cats.
Photo: SPCA Penang/Lily LengPhoto: SPCA Penang/Lily Leng
Lenny wants a loving home where he can be the only cat.

Interested adopters please contact SPCA Penang, Jalan Jeti Jelutong, 11600 Jelutong, Pulau Pinang at 04-281 6559 or visit spca-penang.net.

Follow us on our official WhatsApp channel for breaking news alerts and key updates!

Next In Family

Money issue: Should adult children be responsible for their parents' finances?
Babies listen to more speech than melodies, research says
Creating opportunities for young people to train as caregivers for seniors
Does Alfred Adler's birth order theory influence your love life?
Could Kamala Harris be making Her-story
Report: Air pollution linked to deaths of 700,000 children aged 5 and under
Dear Thelma: My husband won’t have sex with me but I have my needs
Depression around childbirth poses future heart risk to mums
Malaysian shoe company spearheads campaign to provide 1,000 shoes to B40 and Orang Asli students
Playdate politics: How parents can discuss rules, habits and expectations

Others Also Read