How to stop cats scratching carpets and furniture

If you’ve ever wondered how you can stop your cat scratching furniture I can give you a few ideas. One or more of them may even work!
Some cats are more likely to scratch than others. We have a “lucky” black cat which is the worst scratcher we’ve had, and we have a Siamese which hardly ever scratches. It seems to be down to personality.

There are physical, chemical and behavioural remedies available. We have had cats, for more than 40 years, so we think we know a bit about them, but we learn all the time.

Cats scratch because they want to shed the outer layers of their claws, which are rather like onion skins. It sharpens them and it also leaves their scent, marking their territory. They may do it to stretch and exercise. Outdoor cats will scratch trees or fence posts causing no problems. Indoor cats need a place to scratch.

1. Give your cat a scratching post: They are cheap and effective. They do use them and it should reduce their abuse of your carpets.
We have one upstairs and one downstairs.

2. Break their habit when possible. The moment you hear or see your cat scratching carpets or furniture, pick them up and stop them showing a disapproving voice, without making them feel insecure or frightened. If they are using the scratching post, talk to them approvingly so they understand that it is acceptable. They soon learn.

3. Increase their feeling of well-being. Cats do have psychological issues which may result in scratching, over-grooming and other odd behaviour. This can be alleviated by the use of spray or plug-in pheromone dispensers. These calm your cat and we have found them effective.
This is the Feliway cats starter kit plug in:

And this is the Feliway spray for immediate relief:

4. Give your cat toys to play with and play with your cat:
Sometimes cats will scratch just because they are bored. Get some toys and give then something else to do. You can get them from your local cheap shop, pound shops (or “todo” shops in Spain).

5. Clean the carpet where it was scratched.
Because cats like to leave scents from their paws, when it wears off they will do it again. If you clean the carpet with a little carpet shampoo on a cloth, this will remove the scent and the cat will not be attracted back to the same spot.

6. Cutting the claws can be considered as a final option:
Cutting the claws will reduce the short term immediate damage to your carpets. Watch the video at the bottom of this page which shows how to do it correctly.
Remember that cutting claws can split them, which may increase the cat’s desire to scratch and sharpen them again, so may be counter productive. You may end up having to clip the claws every 2 weeks to prevent damage, if you are still having problems after trying the above remedies.

I do hope that you have found this page useful, stopping your cat scratching can be a long uphill struggle.
However, even our “lucky” black cat is reformed and rarely scratches anything apart from her scratching post, which is the number 1 starting point to protecting your carpets and furniture.

If you have any concerns regarding your cat’s health issues please do refer to your veterinary surgeon.

Revised 21 October 2017

How to get rid of black algae

Black algae attack – how I got rid of it some years ago:

Here’s an unedited entry from my diary in July 2007 when I had black algae outbreak in a 10×5 metre pool of classic tiled concrete construction:

“With pump off, I brushed off every bit of black algae that I could see. This took more than 3 hours of hard scrubbing. Whilst doing so I dropped shock chlorine onto the floor in the position where I was working and also used a chlorine tablet on the bottom of the pool, which I placed over really stubborn marks after brushing them. I then went back to the stubborn marks and brushed again until it was all gone. In total I put in 20g/cubic metre 1.5kg in total into the 75 m3 pool. This should have raised the level of free Cl to about 20 ppm (I hope).
The water, incidentally, was crystal clear prior to and during this operation. I found a small reservoir of algae hiding in a skimmer flap. Between the flap and the float chamber was a layer of black algae, this was cleaned and disinfected.
I then vacuumed the pool to waste. I put 4 Cl tablets into the floating dispenser and fully opened the water vents for maximum dispersal.
I am now running the pool pump for 24 hours continuously.
Tomorrow I will check for algae growth and probably vacuum to waste again.”

This did get rid of the black algae, but it is very difficult to eradicate. Eventually the installation of a salt water chlorination system kept it from forming again. I hope this is helpful to anyone battling black algae which normally tries to take root in the grout of tiled pools. Fibre glass pools are not usually so badly affected.

Page reviewed 31 August 2017

Recommended book for learning Spanish grammar

I used this book as did my wife to help us to learn Spanish Grammar:
USO De LA Gramatica Espanola: Nivel Elemental – New Edition 2010 (Revised and in Colour) (Spanish) Paperback
by Francisca Castro Viudez

It made a great difference to us and brought our Spanish up from barely passable to a couple of levels above passable in less than 12 months.

Like all Spanish courses, it requires effort on behalf of the person learning, and there is no “magic” way to learn any language.

I recommend it to you, order from Amazon here:

Gota fria storms and floods, Almeria – December 2016

The recent storms on the weekend of 17th – 18th December 2016, were a late gota fria which are usually a phenomena in Spain  in September or October.
Here are some videos from around the region, (Almería, Murcia, Alicante) showing some of the effects.


Cars and vehicles washed down the street.


Tragically, an old man washed away and drowned in Alicante.


Rio Almanzora at Arboleas, normally a dry river bed!

How did I get the name “knowall”?

You might wonder why I chose the nom de plume “knowall”…

It’s quite simple. When we moved to Spain, we would often have visitors who were interested in our new life. Some even wanted to try it themselves and they had so many questions to ask.
I would answer them as best as I could. I didn’t know it all then and I don’t know it all now!

I would say that with all these questions being answered people might think I’m a right know-all, so when I joined the Arboleas forum about 2005? – I chose the name knowall and used this avatar of “Baby Einstein” (Not my image, I really don’t know who owns it).

My intention was to post facts and reliable information and to challenge falsehoods. This made knowall a bit of a “Marmite” character. I was a moderator for a while, whilst the forum was owned by Jason Mitchell.

Although I don’t use the name knowall any more, I am still a member of that forum, but rarely post. I think that forums, generally, are reducing in popularity as Facebook and Twitter are much more up to the minute interactive social media.  My own forum has been going since 2010.
There is a lot of useful information there, but this website brings it all into one place.

So, now you know!

Fly tipping and dumping in Arboleas and Almería

Fly tipping is a problem wherever there are people who have waste, and that is pretty much everywhere. So it does need to be discouraged by laws and by practical steps:

rambla-rambliza-rubbish
Fly tipping near El Toyo

On a recent visit to Almería I was disgusted at the state of the “Rambla Rambliza” near El Toyo. The rambla was filled with waste, from building materials, dug up pavements, ASBESTOS roofing (a clear health danger), toys, hundreds of pairs of shoes and everything in between.

In Arboleas, where we have lived, there is now a new “Punto Limpio” which is a proper recycling centre. It does make a small charge for the disposal of some types of waste.
The problems seem to come, when people are charged, however small the cost, they will take any opportunity to fly-tip, or dispose of inappropriate waste in the dumpsters meant for domestic waste at the sides of the road.

Perhaps there would be much less of this kind of behaviour if the recycling centre stopped up front charges and added a few Euros to the local IBI bill. That way, people would still think the service is “free” – even if they are actually paying through their local town hall taxes.

It would also remove the administrative burden of collecting cash at the Punto Limpio.
——————-
Try composting some of your garden waste:

Do I need to wear a cycle helmet in Spain?

I saw this question posed on a local forum and researched it:
DO I NEED TO WEAR A HELMET WHEN CYCLING IN SPAIN?

The short answer is YES, all cycle users should wear a helmet, children and adults.

Cycle_Helmet

The longer answer is that according to the latest law, it is compulsory that those under 16, as riders always use bicycle helmet protection wherever they ride.
For riders over 16 years of age, the use of helmets is compulsory on intercity (out of town) roads and it is advisable in urban areas.

As with many Spanish laws, this makes interpretation a little difficult. How I understand it is, if you are out of town (speed limit generally over 50 kph) wearing a helmet (casco) is compulsory as an adult.

Knowall’s advice: If you value your life and your head, wear a cycle helmet at all times when cycling, in or out of town. I do!

Source of info: DGT Ministerio del Interior website

Good Nature books for Spain

Here is a list of nature reference books useful for people living in or visiting Spain.
If you have been looking for books about birds, snakes, spiders, butterflies, for use in Almería or Spain and Mediterranean Europe, here they are:
Amazon links are included for your convenience.

Birds:
RSPB Birds of Britain & Europe

Snakes, Reptiles and Lizards:
Field Guide to the Amphibians and Reptiles of Britain and Europe

Wild Flowers:
Wild Flowers of the Mediterranean: A Complete Guide to the Islands and Coastal Regions

Butterflies:
Collins Field Guide – Butterflies of Britain and Europe

Insects:
Insects of Britain and Western Europe: 3rd Edition (Field Guide)

Gardening in Spain:
Garden Plants for Mediterranean Climates

I hope that you found this list useful. If you know of other books which would be even better, please do let me know.

Advice to UK residents in Spain after the “Brexit” referendum

It’s easy to understand why any UK expats resident in Spain will be nervous at the result of the June 23rd referendum, where the people of the UK voted to leave the European Union.

However, my advice is not to panic at all, as there has been absolutely no change yet in any laws, rights or regulations.

I would recommend that you guard any existing paperwork which proves your entitlement to residency. It is almost certain that the UK and Spain will do everything possible to protect the residence rights of all Spanish citizens in the UK and vice versa.
It could be that you will need to show that you had that right prior to a certain date, so if you do not have a “Certificado de registro como residente comunitario” saying that you have residence “con cáracter permanente” I suggest that you get one now.

The government are unlikely to trigger article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty until the end of the year and it will be 2 years more until the UK actually leaves. Politicians in the UK are currently talking about January 2019 as a possible target date for the exit of the UK from the EU.

If you intend to return to live in the UK, the uncertainty is likely to affect any sale of Spanish property to UK buyers, but many buyers of property in Spain are now from other European countries, such as Belgium, Ireland and Northern Europe, so there is still a good chance of a sale. Ensure that your agent is targeting countries in Europe, as well as the UK.

So, please don’t worry, nothing has changed yet and there will be lots of notice and negotiation prior to any significant changes taking place.  This whole process is going to take a lot of time.

Information, blog and forum – life in Almería, Spain