Hayley Matthews: Feline stressed? So was I after 4am mess

Nobody wants cat poop in their bed. Picture: Getty
Nobody wants cat poop in their bed. Picture: Getty
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Picture the scene, its 4am and one of the cats darts off the bed in a panic. It can mean only one thing – ­either we have a mouse, or he’s running away from something that’s vacated his back end.

There is suddenly a whiff of cat poop and we get out of bed to check. Not finding anything Mr Hayley and I went back to bed.

Adamant that there was a foreign body somewhere in the room, Mr ­Hayley checked again only to be met with the sheer horror that one of the cats had been caught short with the runs, under the covers! We’d all been rolling in it, including our son who was about four at the time. Showering a four-year-old at 4am is not fun!

If you’re still reading, well done because that’s the worst over. Poor little Maxi cat had been quite unwell with what was apparently a strain of tonsillitis that we’d passed on to him and which caused him to poop the bed. According to the vet, there is one kind of tonsillitis that can be passed on from human to cat and he had it.

Ever since this episode and whenever Maxi gets a little stressed he either gets the runs or a urine ­infection, which can be a costly event. Knowing that we had a newborn on the way I wanted to try and do some damage limitation with the stress ­situation for little Maxi.

We also have a very forward and pushy cat a few doors down who has been at the window with his suitcase pleading to move in with us.

This pushiness, along with the cry of a newborn, has just about pushed little Maxi to some toilet traumas. On discussing this situation with a ­fellow cat lover, he suggested trying a ­pheromone plug in from Feliway.

I called them to find out if they would be useful in my situation and was put in touch with their vet Andew Fullerton.

He gave me some great advice and being a fellow human servant to a cat, he understood my situation and how much these hairy little beings mean to us.

He suggested using the Feliway ­Classic and Feliway Friends, which basically chill the cats out and stop them hissing at each other or getting stressed. I’m also quite keen to see if it makes a difference to the New Year fireworks that we can hear from the kitchen. Andrew gave me some good advice, so if you’re using a pheromone plug in for your cats during fireworks or busy parties (apparently cats don’t like loud Christmas music and ­prosecco) here are a few tips.

Plug in the diffusers in the room where your cats spend most of their time, make sure there is at least 1.2m free space above it to allow it to work properly, make sure each diffuser has a separate socket, and avoid putting it next to an open window (it will just blow out).

I certainly see a difference to their behaviour and they seem a lot less jumpy. I also read somewhere that they are less likely to rip your ­furniture to shreds if they feel relaxed, which is always a bonus.

I think it must be similar to that feeling when you first have a glass of wine at night, or first step in to a warm bubble bath. That “ahhhh” feeling. And who doesn’t enjoy that? I’m pleased to report that we haven’t had any more accidents under the covers yet and Maxi seems like a happy little pussy cat.

Giving to those who are in need should be the cornerstone of our Christmas

They say the power of social media is huge and I always try and use it for the best, so thought I’d use my column inches to help a friend spread the word.

My Facebook friend George is always posting and sharing about how to help others in time of need and I saw recently that he was asking for friends to spread the word that Cornerstone Café, below St John’s Episcopal Church Princes St, in association with Socks For The Street – Edinburgh, is offering a free food service and giving out fresh clothing between noon and 3pm on December. Donations are always welcome, to be distributed on the day.

I’m hoping that this will get out for two reasons. Firstly, so that those of us who are able can donate something to the cafe in the hope that it gets to someone who could make good use of it on these bitter cold winter days, and secondly, so that instead of the majority of us walking past those in need who are out on the street, with very little and nowhere to go, we can point them in the direction of where to get some shelter, warm food and a hot cup of tea.

Just remember, it’s at the Cornerstone Café, noon-3pm on December 28.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get the word out and do some good, giving the gift of salutation instead of walking on by?

I’m in the mood for a bit of light winter relief

My best friend Susan is a busy woman and we always keep each other up to date on new discoveries. I trust her judgement and always want to try out anything that she’s discovered. Think things that make you feel better, or make you feel good.

We’ve tried everything together, from spirulina powder to hatha yoga, to replacing our strong morning coffee with warm water (I gave up on that one very quickly).

But her latest discovery is one that I think I’ll use every day until it breaks. It’s something that I’ve always liked the sound of but have never got round to trying one – it’s called a light box.

Susuan told me how it made a real difference to the dark mornings and nights and that feeling that comes with the lack of sunshine. I’m sure you know the one I’m talking about, that pining for the summer and a little daylight, sometimes known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

She treated herself with some John Lewis vouchers however, my budget was on the lower side so I had a look about.

I found a great one in Lloyds chemist for under £60 and I was delighted, as I had previously only found ones retailing from £99.

Being no stranger to depression and low moods I was really keen to see if it brightened up my day, quite literally.

It’s called the Bright Light ‘mini’ SAD light box and is actually a decent size. As my friend had told me, it feels really bright to start off with but you will soon get used to it.

Think of going outside on a really sunny day and feeling awake. I’ll have it on all winter and won’t be SAD about the dark dreary days to come in January.