How to Keep Your Cat's Coat Healthy and Minimize Hairballs
Is your cat’s coat dull? Hairballs galore? Don’t worry - in this article, we’ll outline everything you need to know about keeping your cat's coat healthy!
Ultimate Guide To Kitten Care: Nutrition, Health, and Hygiene
One has to have a heart of stone not to fall in love with a kitten. My first cat came into my life when I was seven years old. Minky was a tri-colored farm cat. We fed our cats milk, which they shared with a nocturnal hedgehog family that lived in our shoe closet. How we look after young kittens and adult cats has changed drastically. We’ve learned so much about kitten nutrition, good hygiene, and health. Kittens provide a lifetime of companionship and contribute to our well-being. Here’s what you should know if you decide to make a kitten part of the family. Crucial Factors to Consider Before Bringing a Kitten Home Kittens are easier than puppies. True. However, that doesn’t mean that choosing a kitten is easy sailing. Kittens need the following: Balanced nutrition (solid food, canned or wet meat protein kitten food) Feed-free feeding or a controlled feeding style; it works for most kittens Safe drinking water Veterinarian access to checkups and vaccination Sanitation access to litter Love and affection Undivided attention Basic understanding of feline needs In return, you’ll get to watch them grow rapidly into loving, playful cats. Ultimate Guide to Kitten Care Here are a few tips to get you going: Make your home kitten friendly Cats and kittens tend to be curious and playful. Therefore, ordinary household objects can be harmful. Remove and store these items: Fragile items that your new kitten might knock over Remove and safely secure household chemicals, alcohol, perfumes Store delicate fabrics to prevent clawing Read up on house plants as some are poisonous Put up barriers to prevent escaping Have a cat bed Prepare a sanitation station litter box Have suitable clean water and feeding bowls Bring kitten necessities Kittens and cats have basic needs. You can save on toys by providing safe household items to play with, like cardboard boxes, paper rolls, and strings to entertain a kitten. But you can’t scrimp on proper nutrition and veterinarian health care facilities. These are the must-haves: Age-appropriate food fit for a cat or kitten's diet that is low on plant-based sources Access to clean drinking water A litter box or device A cat bed (though the kitten will more than likely make do with a sunny spot or your lap) Some toys Caring for a kitten (we hope you opted for one from an animal shelter) takes time. Luckily, there is a bunch of new tech gadgets for pet owners that provide convenience, peace of mind, and enhanced care for pets. According to World Animal Foundation, an automated litter box is one such device that offers several benefits for both cats and their owners. It saves time and effort by automatically scooping and disposing of waste, ensuring a clean litter box environment. Find a vet Being a pet owner means having a good rapport with veterinarians and their staff. A vet should make you and your feline comfortable and answer your questions and concerns. A vet not only provides basic health care like: Routine physical health checks Vaccinations Microchipping Flea and tick remedies Grooming advice Veterinarians are also an excellent resource to help you decide on a diet for your kitten and tips on understanding the complicated nuances of feline parenting. Start following a proper hygiene routine When your kitten enters your home, introduce them to the litter box. Cats are super easy to train, but you must provide the resources. Kittens take quickly to automated litter boxes, and it’s the perfect time to introduce them. Automated litter devices make your life easier. Here are some litter options: Clumping and non-clumping Wood Paper Clay Pine Wheat Grass Corn Walnut shell Hygiene isn’t just about litter. It’s also about grooming, getting the kitten used to your touch, and handling its ears, toes, nails, and all parts of its body. Caressing your cat is therapeutic for both of you. Don’t overlook the socialization thing Cats get pigeonholed as solitary creatures. They need socialization and contact with others at different stages of their life. You can introduce a kitten to your neighbors, friends, and the family dog. When you bring a kitten into a pet family, the introduction should be slow. Have a plan. Train your Kitten Cats are trainable despite what dog people say. A cat learns its name, and I suggest sticking to a simple two-syllable name. Repeat the name but don’t overuse it. Basic obedience training Cats respond well to methods like clicker training, positive reinforcement, and auditory markers to initiate your cat to words like ‘good cat,’ ‘yes or no,’ and other positive commands followed with affection. Set these conditions for training: The cat is awake and engaged Limit training to 1 to 5 minutes only Reward with treats or praise Repeat but don’t overwhelm the cat Train before supper but never withhold food Teach one skill Litter training Many pet parents can appreciate how easy it is to litter train a kitten. Provide a safe, accessible, yet private place for the litter box or automatic device that the kitten can access freely. Keep it away from noisy or high-traffic areas. Once you introduce a kitten to the area and box, they’ll remember. Tip: Keep the litter box tidy. It’s unhygienic for the entire family. Mental Stimulation Needs and Exercise Cats are good at entertaining themselves with their tail. But here is what you can do to make life fun for your furry friend. Engage your kitty in puzzle games Puzzle games are a beneficial activity for cats. It provides mental and physical stimulation and echoes a feline’s natural hunting and stalking instinct. Further, it’s a great way to exercise a cat. Cat obesity is rising and leads to many health and joint issues. Puzzles make them work for their food. Play hide-and-seek Cats are natural game players. Hide and seek comes naturally to them, and don’t be surprised if they lurk behind furniture to pounce on you and yell 'Surprise!' Engaging cats and kittens in hide-and-seek can work both ways: they hide and you seek, or you hide and they seek. You can get their attention by calling their name or rattling their favorite toy or snack. Daily walk and exercise Harnessing and walking cats has become a popular activity. Training a kitten to a harness is easier than asking a senior cat. A senior cat will likely convey their discontent through body language. Train a kitten to walk in a harness by: Starting at a young age Getting a proper and secure harness that is escape proof Building a routine Making it fun Health Checkups This is the most expensive part of cat ownership. Though most cats are healthy and only require essential medical attention, there are a few musts. Vaccinations Protect your cat from diseases by keeping their vaccinations current, even if they're house cats. Animal healthcare professionals define vaccines as core and lifestyle vaccines. Core vaccines and lifestyle vaccines are routinely administered starting at 6 to 8 weeks. Some shots are also required by law. FVRCP Rabies FeLV Spaying/neutering Sadly, our shelters are full of loving cats. In the US alone, we have roughly 58.3 million pet cats and 30 to 80 million feral cats. Repeat this worldwide. Please spay and neuter your cat and consider rescuing it from your local shelter. Spaying and neutering not only protect from overpopulation but also promotes animal health. Tip: A spayed and neutered cat will not spray your bedding or soft furnishings with urine. No amount of cleaning or disinfecting will get rid of this odor completely. Grooming Needs Cats are famous for grooming themselves and have flexible and compression ribcages to reach tough spots. Brushing Helping your cat by brushing its fur promotes bonding and a healthy, shiny coat and removes excess fur. Start brushing your kitten to get used to the habit. They may make a game of capturing the brush. Bathing Good luck! Leave bathing cats to professionals. Cats don’t need to be bathed; they can swim but are not fussed about getting wet. Exceptions, of course, exist, and cats like to make liars out of us. Oral and dental care A healthy diet with crunchy food to help clean teeth is a good start, but cats can also develop tartar and gum disease. We recommend that kittens get used to having their teeth brushed; after all, all the cleaning they do with their cat tongues invites bacteria. Ask your vet how to establish a routine. Conclusion Nutrition, health, and hygiene are the foundation of kitten and cat parenthood. When you bring a kitten home, you promise to commit to its lifetime with love, patience, and ongoing care. Don’t forget to take advantage of the hundreds of valuable tips from vetted organizations.Read More
Top Reasons to Adopt a Bunny and What You Need to Know
Now that most covid restrictions are over and many of us are returning back to the office or school, local humane and rescues have seen a big influx of small animals, including rabbits. By adopting a rabbit or two from a rescue, not only are you saving them, but the staff and volunteers there can be a huge help and a continual resource, especially if you are a new rabbit parent. Rabbits can make great indoor pets and can free roam in your home with the right precautions. They are one of the most popular exotic pets and make adorable companions. But with unique care needs and behaviors, they’re definitely not the same as cats or dogs! They are definitely NOT a low maintenance pet and young children should have adult supervision at all times. The volunteers and fosters will take the time to acclimate rabbits to living indoors and sometimes even litter box train them. Some rabbits that are surrendered have only spent time outdoors in hutches or other enclosure. Plus, rabbit rescues usually have a partnership with local vets who will spay or neuter them and also give them a complete health check. Rescue staff and volunteers are very knowledgeable and can help you understand the behavior and needs of your rabbit will be essential to creating a rewarding, long-term relationship. Before leaving you on your own with your new companion, they will make sure you know how to properly care for your bunny. What you need to know before adopting rabbits 1. Rabbits are a great pet for small quarters like an apartment They don't take up a lot of space and don't need to go outside, plus they make very little noise, unlike a barking dog or cat that meows all the time. However, they do shed and they need brushing to prevent matting, and their nails trimmed every four to six weeks. The Holland Lop Rabbit has a 14-year lifespan, weighs only four pounds, with irresistible floppy ears, making this dwarf bunny the ultimate pet for city dwellers. 2. Rabbits live a long time = long-term commitment With proper care and diet and indoor living, rabbits can live 8-12 years or more, longer than most small animal pets. Before you adopt, make sure you are prepared to take care of them for many years as a companion. 3. Rabbits are social creatures Their habitat or living area should be in a quiet place but not too far from rest of the family. Rabbits are easily bored and need plenty of playtime and exercise with enrichment activities. If you can adopt a bonded pair of rabbits that is optimal so they have a companion at all times. 4. Rabbits need a large space and/or free roam with daily exercise Even though they’re sold as complete rabbit “starter kits,” most pet store cages are not ideal. They are way too small to properly house a rabbit. You can easily make a large habitat from inexpensive materials. Two designs that cost about the same as an “extra large” pet store cage can be made from either a dog exercise pen or wire storage cubes. Either design provides three times the bunny space.If you are going to do free roam, it's very important to "bunny proof" your entire home or wherever they have access to. Bunnies LOVE to chew, and that means any exposed cords, cables and wires. Also remove any hazards like poisonous plants or anything else they shouldn't chew on like important books or papers. Be sure to put out plenty of litter boxes for them in corners if they are free roaming, especially when first starting to litter box train. Put a layer of carefresh bedding or carefresh rabbit litter followed by a fresh layer of hay. Read more on how to litter box train your rabbit. 5. Rabbits Need a High-Fiber Diet to Stay Healthy Rabbits should have unlimited access to a high-quality grass hay like Timothy or Orchard, at all times. Hay is essential for digestion and also help with their teeth. Fresh dark green leafy vegetables are also good, but only feed fruits and carrots in very small amounts. A great resource is the House Rabbit Society’s article about diet, which discusses the appropriate amounts as well as types of food to give your rabbit from youth to old age. 6. Rabbits need regular Veterinary Care If your rabbit wasn't examined by the rescue or shelter, make sure to take them to a Vet right away. They should also have annual preventative care to ensure a long and healthy life. Read more about rabbit health from our Vet, Dr Ruth MacPete Adopt Don't Shop! If you’ve done all your research and feel sure that you and your family can properly care for a bunny, please adopt a rabbit from a rescue or shelter instead of purchasing one from a breeder or pet store.Read More
How can you tell if your cat loves you - 8 Ways your cat says, 'I Love You'
You love your cat to the fullest but do you ever wonder if she really loves you back? Unlike dogs who mostly wear their love on their face at all times and show it by giving you sloppy kisses, wagging their tails and snuggling, cats can be a little standoffish. They are more subtle in showing their love and of course, only when THEY want to. It's really all about building trust and understanding their love language as well as their boundaries. A study by neuroscientist Dr. Paul J. Zak, Ph.D., for a BBC2 documentary, “Cats v Dogs,” showed that cats’ oxytocin levels (the hug, cuddle, bonding, trust hormone released in a mother bonding with an infant) increased by 12 percent after 10 minutes of playtime with their pet parents. Watching their body language is very important when it comes to understanding how much your cat loves you or another person. 8 Signs Your Cat Loves You 1. Kneading with their front paws This is something they usually start doing when they are a kitten and nursing to stimulate milk flow. Kneading is also a way for cats to activate the sweat glands in their paws and mark you as their own. 2. Purring One of the most obvious signs your cat loves you is purring. It's also a sign of happiness and contentment. Some cats definitely have louder "motors" than others, but we all associate that familiar sound with love. “Cats show their love by rubbing against you, purring when petted and of course curling up next to you,” says Dr. Ruth MacPete, DVM, The Pet Vet. 3. Head butts or "bunting" Cat bunting is usually perceived as a sign of affection. However, you may notice they also head butt inanimate objects around you too, including an okocat litter box! This is mainly to rub their scent onto you and to create a colony scent that only cats would be able to detect. But cats don’t just do this to just anyone and they certainly have to think highly of you to bunt to show their love. 4. A slow blink, blink Unlike some animals where it means aggression, cats will use direct eye contact with their human to show affection and trust. Half-closed eyes and or a slow blink is known as a "cat kiss" and shows they are very relaxed and feeling adoration towards you. Try doing it back! 5. Bringing you "presents" All of us cat parents have probably experienced this a time or two, especially if your cat goes outdoors. A lovely "gift" left on the doorstep, a mouse or bird that hopefully does not end up in the house too. I once had to capture a bat that our tuxedo cat had "gifted" us. Try to remember, this is a sign of love and your cat just wants to reward you. 6. Following you...everywhere & snuggling Can you not even go to the bathroom without your cat wanting in? Paws under the door? Or when you come home, she walks between your legs, rubbing, meowing and purring because she is so happy to see you. These are all signs of love and that they miss you when you are gone, or even when they can't see you. 7. Belly up Dogs do this all the time but for cats it's an ultimate sign of love and trust. Just make sure they are relaxed before you start petting that belly, because some cats will roll on their back to get their claws ready for attack! 8. Love licks or bites Who doesn't love a kitty kiss? Licking is similar to the grooming they would perform on their feline friends and allows for marking of each other. Grooming builds a bond between cat and human. Sometimes they will even try to lick or chew your hair. When a cat gifts you with a gentle nibble–or love bite–it's still considered a playful sign of love. But when the nibbling crosses into painful territory or gets too aggressive, it's no longer a love bite! It's super important to pay close attention to your cat's mood and back off if you see signs that they want to be left alone. “The purr is very important. It’s the purr that does it every time. It’s the purr that makes up for the Things Under the Bed, the occasional pungency, the 4 a.m. yowl. Other creatures went in for big teeth, long legs or over-active brains, while cats just settled for a noise that tells the world they’re feeling happy.” ― Terry PratchettRead More
Taking Care of a Dog's Paws: Everything You Need to Know
Our dogs rely on us for their health and safety, which is a big responsibility that must be taken seriously. Owning a dog doesn’t start nor end with bringing your dogs to companion animal registrations which to some people could already be daunting. While most people will be on top of the major areas of concern, such as diet, training and socialisation, there is one area that often gets overlooked. Your dog’s paws are one of the most important parts of their body, and it is crucial to take proper care of them. Not only do your dog’s paws allow them to move around, they also provide protection from rough terrain and hot surfaces. Taking care of your dog’s paws is an essential part of keeping them healthy, so here are some tips on how to make sure you’re doing everything right. 1. Check Your Dog's Paws Regularly Just like humans have different skin types, dogs have different paw pads. Some may be tougher than others while some may be more sensitive. You should regularly check your dog’s paws for any signs of injury or infection. Look for any cuts, scrapes, redness or swelling. Also check between the toes and pads of the feet for any dirt or foreign objects that may have become lodged there. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your vet immediately as it could be an indication of a more serious problem. 2. Trim Their Nails Another important part of caring for your dog’s paws is making sure their nails are trimmed regularly. Unkempt nails can lead to discomfort and pain when walking, so it is vital that you keep them trimmed regularly. Around once every two weeks is typical for most dogs kept as house pets. If you are unsure how to do this on your own at home, it is best to seek assistance from a professional groomer or veterinarian who can show you how to do it properly and safely. 3. Protect Their Paws from Hot Surfaces During the summer months especially, hot pavement and even asphalt can cause serious damage to your pup’s sensitive feet if not protected properly from the heat. While we owners will have shoes to protect ourselves from burning-hot sidewalks, our dogs are not so lucky. It’s best to check the temperature of the ground before you take your dog out for a walk. You can either just use your own fingers to check or go the extra mile and get an infrared thermometer. Be sure that you always carry water with you when out on walks with your pup in order to cool down their feet after stepping on hot surfaces. You may also opt to put on some special booties that provide extra protection against hot surfaces or stay inside and have them use a dog litter like Puppy Go Potty. 4. Moisturize Their Pads Keeping your pooch’s paw pads moisturized is key in preventing dryness and cracking which can lead to infection or other issues over time. There are many different products available specifically designed for this purpose; however, using a natural moisturizer such as coconut oil will work just as well! Simply massage a small amount into each paw pad at least once a week (or more depending on need) and then wipe off any excess with a soft cloth or towel afterwards. A well moisturized and cared-for pad often makes a great shot in a professional pet photography session, along with close ups of their snout. They always look stunning in black and white. 5. Clean After Walks and Visits to the Park One of the most common causes of infection in dogs is dirt or debris getting stuck between their paw pads or underneath their nails. This often occurs when they walk through mud or grassy areas outside. These areas can contain bacteria or parasites which can easily get transferred onto their feet if not cleaned regularly enough afterwards! To help prevent this problem from occurring, be sure that you clean your pup’s feet after every walk outside by wiping them down with warm water and mild soap. There are also commercially available dog wipes that are specially formulated to be gentle on their paws. 6. Pay Attention to Paw Odor If you notice an unusual odor coming from your dog’s paw pads, then there could be something wrong with their feet such as an infection or irritation due to allergies or parasites like fleas or ticks. If this is the case, then it is best to take them to see a vet as soon as possible so that they get the proper care and treatment. Even if it’s not a major problem, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. By following these simple steps outlined above, you will be able to keep your dog’s paws healthy and strong throughout their life. As always though, if you have any concerns regarding the health of your pet's feet then it is best practice to consult with a qualified veterinarian who can give further advice tailored specifically towards your dog.Read More