Our Cat's Place – Living With Cats

thoughts, articles, & information on cats, their behavior, and their relationships with us.

  • Aug 28

    Having moved a few times with a few different cats, both within the same neighborhood and to a new country, I have taken advice from a variety of sources, and have seen what works. I’d like to share some tips and tricks here that can help to make moving with your cat a smoother and more pleasant experience. Since this is a lot of information, I’ve split this into three parts: Preparing for the Move, During the Move, and Settling In to Your New Home.

    Part 1 – Preparing For The Move

    If you are moving to an entirely new area, or especially to a new country, there are a few “official” things that you will need to take care of before you move, in order to ensure that your cat is able to come easily to your new home without the inconvenience of delay or quarantine.

    First, check with the new area to see if there are any documentation requirements for getting in. In our case, when we moved with our cats Felix and Eric from the United States to Canada, we found out that we would need certificates of health as well as documentation of rabies vaccines for our cats. This was easily taken care of with a quick trip to our vet, but if we had not known about these requirements, we could have ended up spending time at the border making phone calls or even needing to leave our cats behind while we sorted things out. This may also be the case if you are moving within the US to a different state.

    Also, find out if your new area has any licensing requirements. A city government office or web site should be able to help you with any of these questions. For us, when we lived in California, cat licenses were not needed. However, once we arrived in Toronto we discovered that they were.

    If you are moving to a different area and will need to go to a new veterinarian, be sure to obtain copies of your pet’s medical records for your new vet. You could also check with your current vet to see if they could fax your pet’s records once you have arrived in your new home. Most veterinarian offices use faxes, and this was what we were able to do. This will save you from having to carry and keep track of your cat’s records during the move.

    If it will be a long trip and your cat tends to be a nervous traveler, ask your vet about possible solutions. S/he may want to prescribe medication for him, but in most cases this should only be used if really necessary, and there are some excellent natural alternatives available. My favorite is “Rescue Remedy”, by Bach Flower Essences. Just a drop or two rubbed on the inside of your cat’s ear or sprinkled into her water dish will have a calming, relaxing effect (you can even use it yourself if you want!). It may be a good idea to try this out ahead of time to be sure that it works for your cat. In our case, Rescue Remedy worked beautifully for Eric, but seemed to have no effect at all on Felix. So just to be prepared, our vet prescribed Felix a small quantity of tranquilizers, which turned out to be a tremendous help later during our trip.

    If you are traveling by car, and the trip will take more than one day, make your overnight arrangements ahead of time and make sure that any hotels you stay at allow cats. It’s a good idea to call the hotel to make the reservations yourself, rather than relying on a Website. Our drive from San Francisco to Toronto took six days, and although most of my chosen accommodations worked out perfectly, there was one place that told us after we arrived, that although their entry on the web said “Pets Allowed”, what they really meant was “dogs only”. We were not allowed to stay there with our cat, and they did not give us a refund. I had to call half a dozen other hotels in the area to find one that did let us stay there, felines and all. I also suggested to the first place that they might want to update their listing!

    If you will be traveling to your new home by air, make arrangements ahead of time if your cat will be going along. Many airlines allow only one pet in the cabin per flight; so if you are traveling with more than one cat, check around to make sure you can be accommodated. Also, check with the airlines to see what the size constraints are for your carrier. When I flew with Eric I got a smaller, airline approved pet carrier for him that met my chosen airline’s requirement.

    Keep very close watch over your cat while you are packing and preparing to move out of your current home. If possible, even see if you can arrange to have your cat stay with a friend while you are packing. It is very upsetting for a cat to watch while his/her entire domain is being taken apart, and this can cause a great deal of stress. Many cats have run away while their humans were preparing for a move, which is what happened to us.

    While packing up the kitchen, my husband inadvertently left the door to the deck open, and Eric slipped out while his back was turned. This was late at night, three days before we left, and all our searching proved to be fruitless. We were extremely fortunate to have dedicated neighbors who staked out the hill behind our house until Eric was found seven weeks later. Many people are not so lucky, please don’t take any chances!

    Likewise, be sure that your cat is well secured while your movers are working. If you do not have a place for her to stay, please have her stay in a secure room that she cannot get out of. Also make sure that the movers know she is in there and that they do not open the door. Put a note on the door as a reminder.

    If your cat is not microchipped yet, this is a great time to get it done, and be sure to register him with the microchip company. If your cat does happen to get away before or during the move, this will be one good way to advertise that he is missing, and many cats are found every year through their microchips.

    Even if you are just moving down the street, keeping a strict watch over your cat before and during the move will help everything go more smoothly and will help to prevent him from getting lost.

    See Part 2 of this Series: During The Move

    See Part 3 of this Series: Settling In to your New Home

    See my Squidoo Lens: How to Move House With Your Cat

  • Dec 29

    There has been an ongoing discussion among cat owners about whether dry or canned food is better. Do you feed your cat canned food? Should you? The answer is a big YES, and here are the top 3 reasons why.

    1. Water Content.

    In canned cat food, the main ingredient is water. This means that canned food is closer to what your cat would eat in his natural habitat. When a cat kills and eats prey, the animal flesh contains the water required to meet the cat’s nutritional needs. This is not the case with dry food.

    Because cats have evolved to get most of their water from the prey they hunt and eat, they are not well accustomed to drinking water from a bowl. Many cats do not get enough water if they are on a dry food diet, and easily become dehydrated. This can contribute to common feline diseases such as Urinary Tract Crystals, which often lead to kidney and liver problems.

    2. Animal Protein

    Most canned cat foods contain significant amounts of animal protein, and this is generally the second ingredient, after water, and before any carbohydrate content. Canned cat foods do not generally contain much carbohydrate, while dry foods usually contain a great deal.

    Is this important? Very much so! Too much carbohydrate for a cat can cause all sorts of problems, including a higher chance of developing Diabetes, more likelihood of becoming obese, and greater risk of Pancreatitis. A better understanding of cat nutrition tells us that lower carbohydrate and higher animal protein is a much healthier diet.

    3. Digestion

    Canned food is already partially broken down when the cat eats it. This makes it much easier to digest in the cat’s stomach and intestines. What this can mean for your cat is reduced incidents of vomiting and intestinal gas, and less risk of Bloat.

    I know it can seem inconvenient to deal with canned food, when with dry all you need to do is pour a little into a bowl each day. Maybe you dislike the smell of canned food. The tins and bowls are messy and they need to be cleaned or recycled. But once you know what your cat really needs for optimum health, you understand that it’s worth it. And think how much more inconvenient it would be if your cat develops diabetes or kidney problems, and you need to give him insulin injections or subcutaneous fluids each day! Not to mention how this would affect your cat’s happiness and sense of well being.

    So keep your cat’s health in mind, and consider making the switch if you have not already!

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

    P.S. For a deeper understanding of how your cat’s diet can affect his health, download this free, full veterinarian’s report on cat nutrition, by Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM.

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  • May 7

    jumping-cute-playing-animals

    From the time a kitten is born, their instinct for play is very strong. At first, baby kittens play with the others in their litter as a way to learn about cat social structure. After a few months, they start to play with the things around them. A young cat loves to play with just about anything! This is how they develop their ability to stalk, pounce, kick, and wrestle, which are all important motor skills involved in hunting.

    In fact, for cats in nature, playing is actually how they learn hunting skills. But even a domestic indoor cat has the built-in instinct and need for play; it is part of the feline nature. As cat owners, we need to understand this in order to raise a happy and healthy cat.

    Young kittens will learn that it is not OK to scratch or bite humans, as long as they have a toy mouse or bird to play with. Kittens have almost unbelievable stores of energy that can be redirected to chasing a cat toy. Some of my cat’s favorites have included small cardboard “sticks” attached to the end of a long wire, and feathers on a string attached to a long stick. They love to chase these around and will do so for long periods until they finally get worn out! For the cat, this play exercises their hunting and “prey” drive, while for the cat owners, it helps us bond with our cats, and can also help save the furniture from being scratched or climbed!

    Grown cats still have the need to play. Playing provides good exercise for your cat, benefiting his overall health and fitness. It also allows them to use their mental abilities associated with stalking and hunting prey. I often play with my cat before feeding him. If he successfully catches his toy mouse on a string a few times, he might feel more like he has “earned” his dinner, and we both enjoy the bonding time together.

    In fact, play has been found to be a successful method of therapy for cats that have been misbehaving. If this is done correctly and consistently over time, play can help a cat be less aggressive, more accepting of new pets or humans in the household, adapting to a new home, and even to stop urinating outside the litter box.

    What are the best toys for cats? Well, this really depends on the cat and his environment.
    Young kittens often like to have a stuffed animal to cuddle with, the way young human children do. And even adult cats can enjoy these! Another type of toy is the kind that encourages the cat to figure out a problem or puzzle. This would include the toys where the cat must figure out how to get a small ball or toy out of a box full of holes, or a treat out of a dispenser. These can keep your cat entertained for quite some time, and might be a good toy to have if you are away from the house a lot.

    But the overall favorite cat toys are those that allow the cat to play at hunting prey. Something that moves, whether on it’s own or with help from you, is best. The mouse or bird on a stick, as mentioned above, is great, but also try one of those laser pointers that you can run around on the floor or up and down a wall. Many cats go absolutely nuts playing with these (mine does!), and they can provide loads of fun for both you and your cat. Try running a toy or a light beam around through a cardboard box or cat-climbing tree for extra excitement. Your cat will feel like a mighty hunter indeed when he catches one of these!

    Before you give your cat a toy to play with, make sure it’s safe for him. Don’t give your cat a toy with very small parts that he might bite off and choke on. Also avoid anything with ribbons or small pieces of plastic that could get stuck in your cat’s stomach if he swallowed them. Cats always enjoy new things to play with, so it’s a good idea to remove some of his toys and “rotate” them so that he always has something different. If you run out of ideas, just put some empty cardboard boxes or paper bags on the floor and watch your cat go! It doesn’t matter so much what they toy is, more that your cat has something to play with and on. Cats simply need and love to play!

    Find many more great tips on cat behavior and caring for cats in Mary Matthew’s book “Ultimate Cat Secrets”.

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

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  • May 3
    Winterkost

    Image via Wikipedia

    Cats, unlike dogs, are obligate carnivores, which means that they must eat animal protein in order to survive and thrive. In addition, a lot of the diseases that cats frequently suffer can be caused by mistakenly feeding cats the same way as dogs. Until recently, even veterinary science treated cats, nutritionally at least, as if they simply another type of small dog.

    The majority of cat owners feed their cats:

    – dry cat food
    – cat food with too much carbohydrate content
    – the wrong kind of protein, and/or not enough of it

    Cats are their own creatures, and deserve to be treated as the unique animals they are!

    So what exactly does it mean when we say that a cat is an “obligate carnivore”?

    Felines in their various forms and species have been around for millions of years, and as hunters of live prey, their bodies have developed specialized ways to digest and use the food they eat. Imagine what the nutritional content of the cat’s natural diet would consist of. There would be lots of animal protein, and a fair amount of fat. Also, there would be a certain amount of carbohydrate (consider the grainy contents of a mouse’s stomach!), but carbohydrate would be a relatively small part of the cat’s natural diet. Thinking about what a cat would eat in nature gives us lots of great clues to feline nutritional needs.

    Cats who are domesticated and living with humans depend upon us to feed them and to supply them with the nutritional elements they need. Many packaged cat foods are inadequate nutritionally, and in some cases even harmful. Also, until recently, most cats lived on the prey they caught. So because animal flesh is moist, cats did not drink much water. Cats who are fed only dry food must be sure to drink adequate water as well, which may not always come naturally to them.

    Many commercial pet foods contain primarily grain and fat, which do not provide many of the vitamins and minerals that a cat needs for good health. Grain filler is often used in order to lower the cost of manufacturing (animal protein is much more expensive). Also, grains help to bind the various ingredients of the food together, so it becomes easier to make the dry kibble.

    Luckily, pet food companies are becoming more familiar with the issues common to commercial cat food, and there are now a number of very high quality cat foods on the market. Be sure to check the ingredients carefully when you are buying food for your cat, or even consider making your own! You may also want to consult with your veterinarian about using a nutritional supplement formulated especially for cats.

    ’til next time,
    Beth

    P.S. To learn more about feline nutritional needs, and how a cat’s diet can affect his health, be sure to download your copy of this free, complete veterinarian’s report on cat nutrition by Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM.

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  • Mar 18
    A cat at the Seattle Animal Shelter

    Image via Wikipedia

    As someone who once lost a cat, only days before we moved out of town, I absolutely understand the fear and even panic that can grip a cat lover when his cat is nowhere to be found. We were very lucky, our cat Eric finally returned unharmed. I would like to see every lost cat come back to his loving owner and home. Here are some tips that can help.

    1. If your cat just ran out the door and you can’t see him, leave the door open. There is a good chance he will find his way back. We also left a bowl of food just outside the door.

    2. If your cat is microchipped, report his disappearance immediately. The sooner you get the word out, the more likely your cat will be found quickly.

    3. Call your cat’s name as you wander slowly around the area. Your cat is probably very scared, and is unlikely to come out. However, he may meow or cry for help and then you would be able to tell where he is hiding.

    4. Try shaking a bag of your cat’s food (if dry), or opening a can with a can opener (if moist). If he hears the familiar sounds of food being prepared, that alone may bring him running back.

    5. Leave a cardboard box in your yard, some distance from your house. Put familiar smelling things in it, like a worn and unwashed T-shirt of yours. Your cat will be attracted to the scent and if he is close by, is likely to curl up in the box to feel safe. Check the box at night and first thing in the morning.

    6. Search around your neighborhood late at night. You should also ask your neighbors to keep an eye out for him. This was actually how we got our cat back, by enlisting willing neighbors to help. If any of your neighbors have outdoor cats that they leave food for outside, this is another excellent place to look.

    7. If there are woods around your home check there as well. Your cat may have gone there in search of small prey.

    8. If you have moved recently, go back to your old neighborhood and look around there. Cats will often return to their previous home if they have lived in the new one for less than a month.

    9. Don’t be afraid to put up posters all over the place. Hand them out to people in the area. Be sure to make small tear off tabs at the bottom with the cat’s name and description, any identifying marks, your name and your phone number. This gave us the results we needed when some people who were just out for a walk saw our poster, saw Eric, and called right away (we are still grateful to them!).

    10. If there is an animal shelter or animal control agency in the area that brings in lost cats, check with them every day. It would also be a good idea to provide them with one of your posters. You must check with them each day, because chances are they do not have enough people on staff to check in with you.

    If your cat is currently lost, don’t give up, and don’t lose hope. It took seven weeks before Eric was found. And even then, apart from a broken tooth, he was fine. My sister also found a lost cat of hers after three weeks. Keep your thoughts positive!

    Beth

    P.S. If your cat is not microchipped, and he is not currently lost, do it NOW! If he is lost, do it as soon as he returns. A microchip is an identification device inserted beneath your cat’s skin. All humane societies and agencies have scanners to read the chip. I highly recommend their use.

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  • Jan 16
    filipCats are curious by nature, and they often gather information by smelling or tasting the objects around them. Electrical cords present a serious potential danger to cats. If they manage to bite through the cord with their sharp teeth, they may be burned or shocked, causing issues with breathing or even stopping their heart. Kittens who are teething are especially at risk because they seek out tough things to chew on. Let’s talk about a few ways to prevent your kitten or cat from being hurt by chewing on an electrical cord.

    1. Keep the cords neatly taped to the wall if possible. This will not only keep your cat from chewing on them, it will also prevent humans from tripping!

    2. Make sure that any excess cord is out of sight to your cat. If a cord is hanging off a table, your cat is likely to play with it, thinking it’s a toy.

    3. Wrap tin foil around the cords. This will make them less attractive to your cat, and even if he does happen to bite it, the tin foil will taste unpleasant to him and he will stop right away.

    4. Put sticky paper or two-way tape around the cords. This will keep your cat from getting too close to the cords, as the stickiness feels unpleasant to a cat.

    5. Try putting bad tasting liquids or sprays on the cords, so that you cat will not want to chew on them. Some of the best things to use are bitter apple spray, toothpaste, lemon juice, and mouthwash. And something that has always worked for me is rubbing the cords with a bar of moist bath soap (I don’t like the taste of that either!)

    6. Keep your cat’s favorite toys near the cords, so that they will chew on those instead of the cords.

    7. If all else fails, keep your cat out of the room where the cords are until they either grow out of kittenhood or just lose interest in chewing them.

    By keeping your kittens and cats from chewing on electrical cords, you will eliminate one serious risk, and will greatly help to keep your feline companions safe and happy.

    Many great cat tips can be found in Mary Matthew’s book “Ultimate Cat Secrets”. Check it now to learn more about dealing with cats behavior.

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth
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  • Jun 8
    Indoor Cat in the Outside World
    Image by DWRose via Flickr

    With the improvements in veterinary technology in recent years, it isn’t unusual at all for a cat to live to be well over 18 years of age. As cat owners, there are many things we can do to help ensure that our cats live long and healthy lives. Here are a few of them.

    1. Every year, take your cat to the veterinarian for a full checkup exam. If your vet has some recommendations for you, please take the advice you are given. Your vet is a trained professional who has your cat’s best interest at heart. Giving your cat everything he needs for optimum health and prevention of disease is the first and most critical thing you can do for him.

    2. Cats who are neutered or spayed tend to live longer and with less stress than those who are not. For a male cat, neutering will reduce the tendency to wander and fight. For a female cat, giving birth repeatedly to litters of kittens can cause premature aging and stress.

    3. Experts have seen that indoor cats live far longer than cats who spend most of their time outside. Keeping your cat in helps to mitigate the risk of picking up diseases from other cats, getting into accidents or fights, being hit by a car, or “catnapped”.

    4. Cats have their own specific nutritional needs, different from humans or even dogs. Provide your cat with food that is nutritious and high in quality, and that contains the elements that cats specifically require for maintaining their health.

    5. Help your cat avoid becoming obese. In addition to good nutrition, give him exercise each day by playing with him and providing him with good scratching posts and climbing trees. An overweight cat is far more prone to diabetes and other feline diseases.

    6. Ask your veterinarian about supplements for your cat. Additional vitamins, minerals, and fiber added to your cat’s diet can also be very helpful for disease prevention.

    7. During each annual checkup with the vet, be sure that they check your cat’s teeth. If they recommend a professional cleaning, please do it. Keeping your cat’s teeth clean can help prevent kidney problems, one leading cause of sickness and early death for cats.

    8. Get into the habit of brushing and combing your cat every day. While you are grooming him, check for anything unusual in his body or skin. See your vet right away if you find anything that seems suspicious.

    9. Check the cleaners you use around the house for any dangerous chemicals or pesticides. Even a little bit on your cat’s fur or feet can cause serious effects for your cat if they are licked and swallowed. If at all possible, use only non-toxic cleaning supplies around your home. Also, check your house for any poisonous plants like poinsettias, and keep your cat away from them.

    10. Give your cat a quiet place to rest and relax, and to be away from anything in your home that might cause stress for him. This could include other animals, small children, or loud noises.

    11. If your cat is getting older, he will appreciate warmth and heat. Try a heating pad on a lower setting, or a sunny spot in a quite room. My 15-year-old cat loves to stretch out in our sunroom on a bright afternoon. You may see quite a change in his behavior.

    12. Give your cat lots of attention and affection every day. Even though cats can act very independent, they do love getting attention from the humans they love. When a cat knows that he is loved and well cared for, his emotional and physical health both benefit.

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

    P.S. You can ind many more great tips on cat behavior and caring for cats in Mary Matthew’s book “Ultimate Cat Secrets”.

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  • May 1
    cat communication

    Image by PJAR72 via Flickr

    As a fellow cat lover, I know how much you love your cat. And I’m sure you do everything you can to show her. I’m sure she knows how much you love her too! But wouldn’t it be great if you could say “I Love You” to your cat in actual cat language?

    Believe it or not, there are ways that you can communicate with your cat using the same signals that the cat would use to talk to you. By observing cats behavior and paying close attention to how they communicate with you, it isn’t too hard to pick up a few things. Here’s one that I have learned from my cats over the years.

    Have you ever noticed your cat looking at you with his eyes narrowed, almost squinting? That’s his way of “flirting” with you! Or maybe he looks at you and slowly closes his eyes, then just as slowly opens them again? That’s your cat’s way of saying “I Love You”. You can send him the same message, the same way. First, look at your cat directly in the eyes, but be careful not to stare, let your eyes go a little unfocused.

    Slowly close your eyes, while continuing to gaze at him, then as soon as your eyes are shut, slowly open them again. Be sure you don’t shut your eyes tightly, or keep them closed. Just use a very slow, soft close and then open, as if you were blinking in slow motion. Send him the thought “I Love You” at the same time to reinforce the message.

    Won’t your cat be surprised? It is likely that she will return the same gesture to you right away, my cat often does! It’s a very simple and charming bit of cats behavior to learn. This is something I try to say frequently to my cat, even just in passing. It doesn’t take long, it isn’t difficult, but your cat does understand. It’s a loving expression to receive from your cat, and just as loving to give.

    Try this with your cat today!

    Beth
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  • Apr 4

    By Pat Lemmons

    catpkI love the notion that “cats are like potato chips, you can’t have just one.” From the playful kitten, which is the epitome of “cute”, to the adult cat, that is the ultimate in beauty, prowess and “cool”. How many you should have depends on several factors.

    1. How many can you afford to feed?

    You need to provide well rounded nutrition for proper development of your cats growth. This usually includes a canned food at least once a day, which also provides moisture. This is especially important if your cat does not drink a substantial amount of water each day. For your own convenience, you might want to make dry food available for when you can’t be there to provide a regular feeding. Don’t forget the cat treats, for good behavior rewards, which will surely endear your cat to you! Make sure your budget can withstand the cost.

    2. How many can you provide good medical care?

    Hopefully, you won’t have any extraordinary medical bills due to injury or illness, although this cannot be guaranteed. However, there will be an annual expense of vaccinations to keep your kitty healthy. These are normally in the range of $100 per cat, depending on the type your veterinarian recommends.

    3. How many can comfortably fit in your home size?

    I have read estimates of 1000 square feet per cat, although I don’t believe that is necessarily required. More important is how well your cats get along. Two could be too many in a large house if they don’t like each other. While five could fit well into a smaller home if all were good natured or at least not antagonistic toward each other. The more room the better for those who like to roughhouse. Better yet, provide them with an outdoor enclosure to give them a space of their own and some fresh air.

    4. How many can you provide with toys, cat trees, litter boxes, etc?

    A litter box is required! I have seen different opinions of how many you should have with multiple cats. One opinion was one per cat, plus one. Another was one for every two cats. It’s difficult to keep up with all of them and their bathroom habits.

    I, personally, subscribe to the latter and find an automatic litter box works best in a multiple cat household. These generally cost in the neighborhood of $100 each but can run much higher.

    All cats need places to climb and one cat tree, strategically placed by a window will bring great satisfaction to one cat or maybe two. If you have multiple cats, you might want to consider two cat condos/trees to provide them plenty of room to nap and play and a view of the outside world for all of them. These can cost, depending on size, quality, etc, anywhere from $50 to $1,000. I really don’t think the cats care how much it cost, as long as it is theirs. Now having it fit in with your home décor is another consideration, entirely. There are some very colorful ones in the marketplace and surely one will look nice in your home. Other toys to keep them occupied are relatively inexpensive and should include things they can slap around and chase, like catnip scented play mice, small balls and anything with bells.

    5.How many can you guarantee safety and shelter?

    Safety would entail keeping them inside, away from the dangers of cars, poisons, the cruelty of others and keeping them safe by training young children in the proper way to handle them.

    6. How many do you have “Time” for?

    Just like children, cats need attention. You need to play with each one, either separately or together, each and everyday. A wand toy with a feather for them to swat, a lazer light beam for them to chase, or just sitting in the floor & playing with them. Attention is important to them and keeps them from becoming bored. Boredom can breed depression in a cat. It can also bring on behavior problems which can become destructive.

    You have to gauge the size of your home, the size of your wallet, but most important, the size of your heart. Then, you’re good to go and take it from someone who knows, the more the merrier!

    The author, Pat Lemmons aka Miss Kitty is a 67 year old woman who has owned cats for 12 years, knows cats and operates a retail web site for cat products. The product prices are discounted for maximum savings and monthly donations are made to two animal shelters from sales on the site. The site features the latest technological products such as unique automatic litter boxes, the best quality cat & kitty beds, pet doors, litter box furniture covers, pet carriers, crates and containment, unique artist t-shirts, sweatshirts & nightshirts, and a large selection of kitty condos, trees, scratching posts, outdoor cat kennels and houses, cat toys and treats. Nothing but the best for the pampered feline. http://www.kittystoreonline.com

    Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Pat_Lemmons

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  • Jan 9

    Many cat owners dread trimming their cat’s nails. And frankly if this is done wrong it can be very difficult and painful for both you and the cat! I’d like to share a process that works for me in trimming my own cat’s nails. This is an important part of caring for cats that if done properly can actually be very easy.

    Keep in mind that if you don’t trim your cat’s nails, they will figure out other ways of keeping them shortened, like scratching your furniture for instance? This is one more reason to have a good cat scratching post available, as well as keeping their nails trimmed! Here are some steps that work well:

    Step One: From the time you bring your cat home, you should practice holding and handling his paws, so that he gets used to the feeling. When you are cuddling and bonding with your cat, just hold and rub each paw a little bit.

    Step Two: When you are ready to trim your cat’s nails, be sure there is good, strong light in the room. This will help you be able to see better, and to make sure that you aren’t cutting too close to your cat’s blood vessels.

    Step Three: Get your cat grooming tools together before you call your cat. She won’t like it if she has to wait for you to gather things!

    Step Four: Hold your cat closely next to you, holding the first paw in your hand. I usually put my cat on my left side and start with his left paw, but I am right handed. You can do these in whichever order works best for you. If you wish you can wrap your cat in a soft towel, which helps him sit still while you are trimming.

    Step Five: Hold each toe between your thumb and pointer finger, and press softly together. This will cause the cat’s nail to emerge, and it will be easy to see where to cut. The nail will stay out until you let go.

    Step Six: Cut each nail at the point where it begins to curve. It is best to use trimmers that were especially designed for cats. I personally use the “guillotine” style, but you may want to try different styles to find one that works well for you. Some people prefer a regular human nail clipper.

    Step Seven: When you first start trimming your cat’s nails, try doing just a few at each sitting. This may help her get used to it faster. Be sure to give your cat lots of pets as you are trimming, and wait a moment in between each nail, to make the experience as pleasant as you can.

    Step Eight: If you do accidentally cut into the quick of your cat’s nail and it begins to bleed, press on the tip of her nail with styptic powder (if you have it available), or talcum powder.

    Step Nine: Eventually you will be able to clip all of your cat’s nails at one time. Be sure to reward him for good behavior with lots of affection or maybe a little treat.

    Lots of great tips about communicating with and caring for cats can be found in Mary Matthew’s book “Ultimate Cat Secrets”. I have been using this as a resource for many occasions and always find it very helpful. You can learn more about Mary Matthew’s book by visiting her official web site, at Ultimate Cat Secrets.

    Wishing all the best to you and your cats!

    Beth
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  • Sep 6

    new-natural-cat“The Natural Cat”, by Anitra Frazier with Norma Eckroate, does cats and their humans a big service by providing this comprehensive encyclopedia of all things related to caring for cats the holistic way. I first purchased the previous version of this book in 1995 just after I brought my two cats home to live, and I have been using it ever since as a source of information and understanding. Surely this information packed resource should be an important part of every cat care library!

    Anitra Frazier understands so many things about cat behavior and how to communicate with your cats, from the slow blink that says “I Love You” in cat language, to what cats really need in their diet, exercise and grooming, the right kind of scratching post to use, and just generally how to make your life with your cats the best it can be. Her love for cats and genuine concern for their well-being shines through in every page, and her knowledge amassed over years of caring for cats is apparent. I have given this book as a gift to many friends who have just adopted a cat, and each time they have commented on how much they have learned and how often they refer back to the book when they have a question. Anyone who has a cat or loves cats will want to read this book. It is especially a must for those who are living with a cat for the first time.

    The Natural Cat: The Comprehensive Guide to Optimum Care

  • Jun 6

    When it comes to illness, cats are masters of disguise. Think about this – in nature, if a cat allows himself to look or act sick, larger animals will see him as weaker and will be more likely to attack. So it is in a cat’s own best interest to keep any illness or pain he feels well hidden. It is up to us as cat owners to be aware of some of the more subtle signs of illness in our cats, so that they can be addressed quickly, with the least possible impact to our cat’s health.

    For instance, if your cat suddenly refuses to use the litter box and is urinating other places, a medical issue may be causing this, especially if it is happening along with any of the other symptoms listed below. Watch your cat for other changes in behavior, such as disinterest in eating, lack of or change in grooming, and vomiting. If your cat appears to be struggling to pee, or unable to control his peeing, these can also be symptoms of illness. Inappropriate urination issues can often be corrected by addressing these symptoms with your vet.

    Here is a list of Cat Illness Symptoms that may be serious. You should schedule a visit with the veterinarian if your cat shows any of these:

    – Inappropriate Urination, especially if it happens suddenly, for no obvious reason
    – Urine or excrement contains blood
    – Loss of appetite
    – Disinterest in grooming
    – Suddenly gaining or losing a great deal of weight
    – Runny nose
    – Prolonged bouts of sneezing
    – Drinking much more or much less water
    – Peeing more or less frequently
    – Coat appears messy or loses its shine
    – Lack of energy
    – Inability to control urination
    – Apparent distress during urination
    – Excessive vomiting

    For ourselves, we often will give it a few days when we begin to feel ill, assuming that our bodies will heal naturally without seeing the doctor. But with a cat, because they keep their illness so secret, we may not even be aware that our cat is sick until it becomes much worse. A cat who is sick can appear to have a sudden onset of a serious disease, but chances are the symptoms have been there some time and they are just now becoming apparent to humans. Once a cat is obviously sick, his health may be threatened, and a trip to the vet may be very time critical. Even though it may seem expensive, it will be less expensive if done in the beginning; the vet may be able to begin treatment right away and you may be able to ward off more serious issues.

    So for the sake of your beloved cat’s health, learn to watch for these cat illness symptoms, and be ready to act quickly with a trip to the vet.

    from one cat lover to another,

    Beth
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  • Dec 5

    As the companion of a cat who is living with feline kidney disease, there are many small things that you can do on a daily basis, that will help your furry friend feel better, and be more comfortable.  This can do a great deal to improve his overall quality of life, and help extend your time together. 

    Environment

    – Try to protect your cat from stressful situations, and give him a calm and warm place to stay.  Provide him with blankets and a warm sofa or bed to lie on.  If you have a fireplace, he will most likely gravitate to it when you light a fire.  Make sure that he doesn’t get too cold, and please keep him safely inside the house!

    – Handle your cat gently.  Cats with chronic kidney disease tend to feel nauseous, so soft and light hugs and strokes that won’t jar his stomach are best.

    – A cat who is not feeling his best may not groom as much as he should.  You can help by brushing and combing him regularly, but always remember to be gentle, especially if he is receiving any injections or subcutaneous fluids.

    Food and Water

    – Watch how much your cat eats and drinks each day.  This will be useful for your vet to know at your next appointment.

    – If your cat doesn’t’ seem to be eating enough, it may help to place his food in a part of the house that is quiet and peaceful, so that he can relax while he eats.

    –  Canned food will be more appealing to your cat if you warm it up a little in the microwave before serving, especially if it has been stored in the refrigerator.

    –  If your cat is older, he may have problems chewing his food.  You can help by shaping his food into more of a mound, rather then leaving it flat in his dish.  This makes the food easier for your cat to access.

    –  Clean the food dishes well each day.  The smell of stale food can be very unpleasant, especially to a cat that is not feeling well.

    –  Since drinking enough water is crucial for the health of a cat with kidney disease, you can help by having two or more bowls of fresh water in different part of the house.  Make sure that the bowls are cleaned and refilled every day, since water can collect dust, bacteria, and dead insects if it is left standing for too long.   Depending on the quality of the water in your area, you might consider giving your cat bottled water instead, since it won’t have as much of the chemicals that are often found in tap water.

    – Cats often prefer to drink running water.   He may be attracted to the sink or toilet bowl.  If this is the case, please make sure that these are kept spotlessly clean.  Also, do not use chemical cleaners or deodorizers that can poison your cat.  You may want to get an automatic water dispenser that delivers a steady stream of flowing water.  Some cats seem to prefer these, and it can encourage them to drink more.  If your cat has an upset stomach from the kidney disease, serve the water at room temperature rather than cold.

    Mobility

    – As feline kidney disease progresses, your cat’s potassium level might become low.  This can make it difficult for him to jump into his favorite places, or even to climb stairs easily.

    – You can help by placing small boxes, ramps, or “pet stairs” next to the sofa, bed, or windowsill, so that your cat can still access his special spots.

    –  If your cat has difficulty climbing into his litter box, look for a new one with lower sides, so that he can continue his regular routine more easily.

    –  Encourage your cat to play if he is still able, but keep in mind that he probably gets tired faster.  Play with him as much as he is able, but be careful not to overdo it!

    And mostly, give your cat plenty of affection and love.  Just be there for him when he needs you, and let him know that you care.  Value every precious minute that you can spend together!

    to the health of your cats,

    Beth

    Related Posts:

    Feline Kidney Disease – Common Causes and Symptoms

    What You Need to Know About Cat Food For Kidney Disease

    How to Get a Cat to Eat when he has Kidney Disease

    Treating a Cat With Kidney Disease Using Subcutaneous Fluids

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  • Nov 21
    Catnip blossoms (Nepeta cataria)

    Image via Wikipedia

    When a cat has kidney disease, he may feel very lethargic and may not feel much like eating.  And to add to the problem, the foods that are often prescribed for cats with kidney disease tend to be blander and therefore less appealing to the cat’s senses.  So because you definitely want your cat to keep his weight up, you might need to get a little more creative with his feeding.  Here are a few tips.

    • First, do your best to get your cat to eat the special kidney diet that your veterinarian has prescribed.  These foods are lower in phosphorus than regular food, so they produce less waste and are kinder to your cat’s kidneys.  The same goes for homemade cat food.  Although this is probably the most nutritious food you can be giving your cat, especially when he is sick, he may not be interested in trying anything new right now.
    • The most critical thing to remember with feline kidney disease is that getting him to eat any food at all is much better than his not eating!   Look up the ingredients on any food that you buy and try to find those with the lowest phosphorus content.
    • Your cat may respond to a little catnip sprinkled into his food.  Catnip has a strong smell and taste, and most cats can’t resist it!
    • Try warming up the food a little in your microwave.  If the food is heated, the smell and flavor will become slightly stronger, which makes it more appealing to your cat.  Stir or mash up the food before serving it, to make sure it isn’t too hot.
    • While you are giving food to your cat, try holding her and touching or petting her gently.  Cats usually respond well to physical affection and encouragement, and this can help put her in a better state of mind, more receptive to your suggestions that she eat something.
    • You can also try adding a little strong flavored liquid to your cat’s food.  Things that work well are the water from a can of tuna, clam juice, or the liquid from a can of anchovies.   In addition to enhancing the scent and flavor of the food, this also adds moisture, which helps your cat stay better hydrated.
    • Rub a tiny bit of warm canned food onto your cat’s paw.  This will get him to groom himself by licking the food off.   If you have a small bowl of the same food right there, he may go from licking it off his paw to eating it out of the bowl.
    • Something else that can work well for a cat with kidney disease is to feed him by hand.  Put just a small amount of food on the palm of your hand, and let your cat smell it and lick it before deciding to eat.  Sometimes just the extra love and affection that you give your cat at this time can make a big difference in his appetite.

    There are other medical options that you may want to discuss with your vet if you cannot get your cat to eat with these other ideas.  He may be able to give you an appetite stimulant, which can be a good short-term solution.  Another thing that often helps a cat feel better and more like eating is subcutaneous fluids, that help your cat to be better hydrated.  If all else fails you may need to feed your cat with a syringe for a time.  Your vet is the best person to advise you on these alternatives.

    to the health of our cats,

    Beth

    Related Posts:

    Feline Kidney Disease – Common Causes and Symptoms

    What You Need to Know About Cat Food For Kidney Disease

    Treating a Cat With Kidney Disease Using Subcutaneous Fluids

    Living Day to Day With Feline Kidney Disease

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  • Oct 13
    An orange male classic tabby cat.
    Image via Wikipedia

    Having moved a few times with a few different cats, both within the same neighborhood and to a new country, I have taken advice from a variety of sources, and have seen what works. I’d like to share some tips and tricks here that can help to make moving with your cat a smoother and more pleasant experience. Since this is a lot of information, I’ve split this into three parts: Preparing for the Move, During the Move, and Settling In to Your New Home.

    Part 3 – Settling In to Your New Home

    When you arrive at your new home, bring your cat inside and get her situated before you start moving your own things in. If this was a short move and you were able to bring your cat’s things over ahead of time, that’s great! If not, choose a room for her, like a spare bedroom or enclosed den. Make sure any windows are closed and that the door to the room latches securely so that your cat cannot get out.

    By putting your cat’s familiar things in the room – food dishes, toys, litter box, scratching post, blankets, etc, your cat will begin to feel at home. Another great idea is to use some Feliway Diffusers or Cat Pheremone Spray in the room to give it that “happy cat” smell. Most cats will relax quickly in this environment, and you will be able to get started with moving your things in. Just be sure your cat is securely in the room until the movers are done and the doors to the house can also be kept closed.

    Your cat might prefer to stay in his special room for a while at first, and may even be reluctant to explore the rest of the house for the first day or two. Remember that cats need to be able to establish their territory, and may not be willing to venture out into unknown places right away.

    Once your cats do start wandering around the house, try to keep them inside at least for a time. I have been told that it can take cats up to a month to reset the internal “homing device” that lets then find their way home, and we have all heard stories about cats showing up in their old neighborhoods, weeks or even months after they have moved. Don’t let your cat be one of them!

    Feliway is also quite useful around the house as a whole, especially if you have more than one cat. If your multiple cats are trying to establish territory, it could potentially lead to fighting and/or spraying. The cat pheromones in Feliway will help to calm the cats so that they are less likely to have problems.

    Another thing to watch for in your new home is hiding places, where your cat may go in order to feel safe until the space becomes more familiar to him. Closets, fireplaces, underneath furniture, and other smaller spaces are all likely hiding spots. After one move, when Eric seemed to have disappeared, we combed the house top to bottom, until we finally discovered that he had climbed part way up the chimney. A few hours, a dish of food, and a lot of coaxing later, a very gray cat finally emerged (Eric is an orange tabby!). Cats are masters of finding places to squeeze into!

    Once you have a chance, look for a good veterinarian in your new neighborhood. Neighbors, local acquaintances, or even your old vet can be great sources of recommendations. But if you don’t know where to go, check out some of the review sites like yelp.com or local websites for reviews. Feel free to visit and interview a few different vets in the area if you have more than one to choose from. You should be sure you feel comfortable both with the doctors and the offices. Once you have chosen, bring in your records from your previous vet, or have them faxed or mailed. Schedule a checkup so that you and your cat can get more acquainted with the new vet. Also remember to change your address on any microchip registrations, pet insurance, or anyone else that needs your pet’s information.

    Cats generally adapt very well to new places once they have a little time to get settled in. A happy cat truly helps to make your new house feel like home!

    See Part 1 of this series: Preparing For The Move

    See Part 2 of this series: During The Move

    See my Squidoo Lens – How to Move House With Your Cat

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