“Happy Cats are Healthy Cats”

Lynn Baer, DVM, Cat Specialist, shares her top tips for cat owners to ensure well adjusted, happy cats.  Lynn says, “happy cats are healthy cats and happy cats make owners happier and healthier, too”.

  Tip #1) Recognize the fact that indoor only cats have no choices of their own in life

They are completely reliant on what we offer them.  We choose their litter box size, shape, location and litter substrate. We choose where they are fed, what they are fed out of, and what foods they are offered.  We choose their toys, their beds, their bowls, and everything within their lives.  Cats have few choices of their own.   They would be happier given more choices of their own and once owners understand that and begin to expand their options, cats would remain healthier and happier. 

Tip #2) Bring the outdoors in 

Cats are held captive within four walls for their entire lives.  Open the blinds, open the windows, grow grass, bring leaves and branches in for them to smell. Again for owners to be more aware of the fact that their cats have never walked on grass or soil, experienced changes in temperature, smelled different smells, or had the ability to walk around the block to explore new surroundings.  Owners should evaluate every opportunity to enhance their indoors cat’s lives by bringing new things into the home.  Build catios, window units or other alternative opportunities for cats to experience the outdoors.  At a minimum place window seats around the house (off the ground), build vertical spaces for them to climb, train them to walk on leashes, erect cat proof fences, etc.

 Tip #3) Play, play, play and more play

Indoor cats are bored, depressed and inactive.  Owners don’t generally play with their cats daily.  Cats need exercise, mental stimulation and fun.  Having a basket of toys for cats is not enough.  Owners should actively engage with their pets by using wand toys, laser lights, throwing blankets over furniture to create tents, rotating toys daily.  Adding silvervine, catnip, and valerian to their arsenal of toys will give cats new experiences.  Using foraging toys for food rewards, making cats hunt for some of their food all help to stimulate their body and mind.

Tip #4) Lots of scratch posts – both vertical and horizontal for cats to scratch on. 

I am completely opposed to declawing (having never performed one in my entire career).   Scratching is a form of communication and also gives cats the ability to stretch their muscles.  It is important they have great areas and substrates to scratch on.  It makes them happy.

 Tip #5)  Seek out cat only veterinarians

Don’t allow a veterinarian who declaws to treat your cat.  Take your cat to a vet at least once a year for a good physical exam and blood work.  Cats are notorious for hiding pain and illness and if an owner thinks their cat is sick, they are likely very sick.  Pay attention to any changes (no matter how small) and seek veterinary care immediately.  Age is not a disease and many owners ignore signs of illness as due to advanced aging.  That is not in a cat’s best interest.  Owners need to advocate on behalf of their pets and insure good medical care.  Seek second opinions.  Good veterinarians encourage owners to do so and are never offended by it. 

 Tip #6) Cats need wet food more than dry

Wet food is lower in calories and higher in protein and moisture.  It is extremely important to feed cats at least 5-6 times daily.  Don’t feed one brand or diet only.  Variety is the spice of life and cats are used to eating birds, squirrels, rats, mice, chipmunks, bugs, etc.  One diet or one brand is not normal.  Either is feeding once or twice a day.

 Source:  The Purrington Post

Editors Note:  Find many of the toys, scratchers, outdoor enclosures and cat furniture mentioned in this article right here.

Why hire a cat sitter for a short week end absence?

 

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Companion cats rely on their humans for food, water and the occasional treat. Other than needing food and water, cats seem to prefer an independent life. So why not just set out a three-day supply of it when you leave the house for a long weekend?

Two keys reasons.   First, your cats need companionship, whether it’s yours or whether it’s someone with whom you entrust their care.  Keep their stress levels down by providing them with the attentiveness of a caregiver.  A qualified cat sitter will ensure that your cats have adequate food, water and supervision.  Second, your cat sitter will contact the veterinarian if your cats become ill or injured.

If your cats need special attention or medication, it’s all the more important to make sure your cat sitter visits your home at least once or twice a day.   Administering meds should be as consistent a routine as possible, for the cat’s well being.  A cat’s health can deteriorate quickly (you may have experienced firsthand with your cat) and the right care may save your cat’s life.

According to professional sources, it takes about 30 minutes for a professional cat sitter to care for one cat per visit. During the visit, the sitter will feed and water your cats and change the litter box. A cat sitter also will play with your cats, so be sure to leave plenty of toys — including a few new ones to keep your cats entertained.

If you hire a less experienced person, such as a neighbor or friend, make sure you choose someone reliable who will be able to come by at least once a day for at least 30 minutes.   For cats who don’t need special medical attention, a capable friend is a satisfactory option.

Be sure to ask any cat sitter about their previous cat care experiences.   Keep in mind professionals are typically insured, which provides additional peace of mind.  Professionals should provide you with at least two references and you should follow up with them.  You should also ask them what would they would do if your cat becomes ill or if there is an emergency.

Leave out a full set of care instructions for your cat sitter, including the location and frequency of feeding, litter box cleaning,  locations of toys, treats, and grooming tools.   A complete set of instructions should be provided for medications and where those are kept.  Provide your phone numbers for emergencies and the number of your vet’s office and emergency vet’s office (if different).  Professional sitters should come out to your home ahead of time to meet your cat(s), become familiar with where their things are located and ask questions.

Hire a qualified cat sitter and give yourself and your cats the gift of peace of mind when you need to go away.

What Makes Your Cat Happy?

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In these gray, cold, winter months, we’re always looking for ways to lighten up our spirits.   We should also keep our cats’ well being in mind.  Cats are intelligent, athletic creatures, always looking for physically and mentally stimulating activities.  When cats don’t have these, their attention turns to activities of their own choosing that we tend to think of as “bad behaviors”.

Case in point:  Have you ever caught your cat chewing or scratching something like your favorite upholstered chair?  Bad behavior = BOREDOM! 

Here’s how you can make sure your cat has plenty of great things to do.

  • Provide a variety of ways for your cat to explore.   Cats love discovering new places and objects.  They love smaller, stimulating toys.  There are smaller toys you can lay around the house, such as catnip-infused toys, with feathers, strings, corrugated cardboard, suede and other safe, chewable and kickable parts.

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Then there are the interactive toys, automated toys designed to be activated by your cats, using their own curiosity and intellect.  Some of these toys can be suspended on doors, such as the Fling-ama-String, Play N Squeak Batting Practice, or the Tiger Mobile toy.  Others lie flat on the floor, with balls and other moving parts, such as our Cat Hurricane, Peek N Prize, Cats Meow Undercover toy and Kitty Go Round toy. 

  • Provide your cats access to levels other than just the floor.  Cats love climbing to high places and feeling like they are “in charge” of their environment.  Having a higher vantage point for your cats to watch the great outdoors (safely) or observe indoor goings-on provides hours of entertainment.  Cat trees and cat window perches are great solutions. Place cat trees by windows for your cats’ optimal viewing pleasure.  SIDE BENEFIT:  Cat trees are made with scratch-able materials such as sisal.  They really do use these vertical scratching surfaces, and it helps to keep them from scratching that favorite upholstered chair. 

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  • Provide hideaways for your cat.  Cats love discovering places to hide.  Think of times when you’ve had to search for your cat, only to find him under the bed, behind the furnace, or in other unfortunate places.  Invest in a cat condo that is designed especially to meet the privacy needs of your cats.  You’ll be able to find them as well!  

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  • Play with your cat.  In your cat’s mind, it’s their favorite
    kind of play. During daily play sessions with you, your cat can enjoy a greater degree of intellectual stimulation and aerobic activity. In particular, consider activities that allow your cat to exercise her hunting instincts. Toys that resemble prey, such as mice and birds, are ideal. Wand toys offer a perfect way for you to lure your cat into “the thrill of the chase”.

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We’ve also taught our cats some fun tricks, such as fetching toy balls.  The toy ball should be light weight and small, such as a Loopies toy or a tinsel mouse.    Reward your cats with their favorite treats to encourage repetition.

Now, go make your cat happy!

 

 

Dear Pet: I Love You, but … Dear Visitors: I Love My Pets more….

I received this amongst the blitz of emails today. The author is unknown, but I thought you might enjoy!

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE PETS, THIS IS A TRUE STORY.

FOR THOSE THAT DON’T, IT’S ALSO A TRUE STORY.

The following was found posted very low on a refrigerator door.

Dear Dogs and Cats: The dishes on the floor with the paw prints are yours and contain your food. The other dishes are mine and contain my food. Placing a paw print in the middle of my plate does not mean that is suddenly your food, nor do I find that aesthetically pleasing in the slightest.

The stairway was not designed by NASCAR and is not a racetrack. Racing me to the top of the stairs is not the object. Tripping me doesn’t help because I fall faster than you can run.

I cannot buy anything bigger than a king sized bed. I am very sorry about this. Do not think I will continue sleeping on the couch to ensure your comfort. Dogs and cats can actually curl up in a ball when they sleep. It Is not necessary to sleep perpendicular to each other, stretched out to the fullest extent possible. I also know that sticking tails straight out and having tongues hanging out on the other end to maximize space that you are taking up, is nothing but sarcasm.

For the last time, there is no secret exit from the bathroom! If, by some miracle, I beat you there and manage to get the door shut, it is not necessary to claw, whine, meow, try to turn the knob or get your paw under the edge in an attempt to open the door. I must exit through the same door I entered. Also, I have been using the bathroom for years – canine/feline attendance is not required.

The proper order for kissing is: Kiss me first, then go smell the other dog or cat’s butt. I cannot stress this enough.

Finally, in fairness, dear pets, I have posted the following message on the front door:

TO ALL NON-PET OWNERS WHO VISIT AND COMPLAIN
(1) They live here….you don’t.

(2) If you don’t want their hair on your clothes, stay off the furniture.

That’s why they call it “fur”-niture.

(3) I like my pets a lot better than I like most people.

(4) To you, they are animals. To me, they are adopted sons/daughters who are short, hairy, walk on all fours and don’t speak clearly.

Cats on Leashes? Click the link below, read the article and then vote in our Reader’s Poll (under Pages menu on left margin)

Link to Vermont Cat Leash Article:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100616/ap_on_re_us/us_cat_leash_law