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Cat Obesity: Symptoms and Prevention

There is no doubt that cats are excellent pets. They are among the most popular pets in America, second only to dogs. Unfortunately one in three felines in America is obese, which can lead to serious health problems if not controlled.  Feline obesity is a major problem affecting our furry companions and consequently us - the parents. As a feline lover and parent, it is crucial to learn how to tell if your cat is overweight or bordering on obesity, what causes it and what you can do about it.  This article will tell you all you need to know, but first, here is a breakdown of what cat obesity is and the dangers.  What is Cat Obesity? When you hear that a cat is obese, the picture that first comes to mind must be that of Garfield. To some extent, obesity in cats is the accumulation of excess fats. When a cat’s body weight is 10-20% above its ideal weight, it is considered overweight. But when it exceeds the 20% mark, the cat is obese.  Obesity is not just a dormant accumulation of fat tissue. Fat cells of obese cats are alive and make obesity a self-sustaining and self-destructive condition. What do we mean when we say fat cells are alive?  Previously, scientists thought that fat cells were inactive parts of the body. The perception was that fat cells only stored fat. But that changed when studies revealed that fat tissues are biologically active and often synthesize several biological compounds that regulate body functions. In other words, fat tissues are alive and can wreak havoc in your cat’s body. The Dangers of Obesity in Cats Obese cats experience several health and lifestyle challenges. They have a higher risk of developing diabetes, feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), osteoarthritis, liver disease, lameness, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal conditions, random and unexpected inflammation, and skin conditions like dandruff.  Other health adversities due to feline obesity include:  Increased risk of hypertension Lower immunity Reduced respiratory function. Possible neurological problems Increased risk of developing cancer  In short, fat cats experience a lower quality of life and a shorter life. Therefore, it is crucial to know the causes and risk factors and try to avoid them. Causes of Obesity in Cats Whenever we see an obese cat, we straightaway think it is overfed and inactive. But the problem is more complicated and has many risk factors. Some factors are specific to the cat, and others relate to the diet and feeding habits. Cat-specific Factors Age: Older cats aged 8-12 years are less active physically and consequently more prone to becoming overweight than younger cats. Gender: Female cats accumulate and store fat faster than their male counterparts. Neutered/Spayed: Fixed cats are also less active and have bigger appetites than their yet-to-be-fixed counterparts. Household: Indoor cats (like cats living in apartments) have fewer opportunities to exercise and burn calories than cats allowed to experience outdoors regularly. Underlying health issues: Unusual gain in weight could also be an indicator of underlying health issues. Some diseases can cause rapid weight gain. They include hypothyroidism, insulinoma, and Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease). On the other hand, conditions like arthritis cause joint pain. They reduce a cat’s physical activity significantly. Diet-specific Factors Type and quantity of food: Dry foods are often rich in calories and promote weight gain more than protein-packed canned foods. Also, improper measurement of food portions can cause the cat to overeat and gain weight faster. So, if your cat eats dry food, make sure to do your research on which brands are best. Poor feeding habits: If your cat feeds too fast, she will moan and cry more often, and you could end up giving more food, off schedule, to keep her quiet. The same happens if you provide only one large meal in a day and not several (small quantity) meals. Too many treats also promote weight gain.  Obesity is a more complex problem because fat cells synthesize compounds that make it worse. An obese cat will inadvertently be less interested in physical activities and more prone to ailments. Thus it is crucial to observe and keep tabs on the cat’s weight and take measures to prevent obesity. Symptoms of Obesity Bodyweight alone is not sufficient to tell if your cat is obese. Visit the vet regularly or have vets come over for checkups. Vets employ several techniques to tell if a cat is obese such as Body Condition Score (BCS) charts. These charts give instructions on assessing the look and feel of a cat at specific parts of the body. Some of the assessments are visual, for example, checking if the waistline is visible or not. Other examinations rely on touching. The vet, using the palms, would feel the rib and hip area to determine if they are fat-covered.  As you can see, these tests are somewhat technical, and without training, you could end up with incorrect inferences. What symptoms can you look out for (as a layperson) to determine if your cat is overweight or obese?  Know the average weight of your cat and check it regularly. Depending on the breed, the average weight will differ. Most cats lie in the 9-12 pounds range. But big cats like Maine Coons can weigh as much as 25 lbs. Check their physical activity levels. Cats are generally playful and physically active. If your cat is not interested in play and wants to lie down all day and night, there could be an underlying problem. Stroke the cat around the belly and rib areas; you should feel the ribs. If you cannot, the cat is probably overweight. Take a look at your cat’s body profile. If you cannot see a distinct waistline from above, or if you notice a swinging pouch near the hind legs, the cat could be overweight. Look at the cat’s fur, especially at the backside. Is it neat, or can you see greasy patches, matted hair, and flaky skin? If it is the latter, your cat cannot reach that part of her body and self groom due to excess weight.  If you suspect your cat is overweight, visit the vet for a proper check-up.   Preventing Cat Obesity The best way to treat obesity in cats is to adopt healthy practices and avoid or mitigate the risk factors. Consider ways to improve the cat's life through diet and activity. Here are tips on how you can prevent cat obesity.  Provide correct food: Avoid high-calorie foods. Instead, feed your cat on protein-rich foods and give them the recommended portions at the prescribed frequency (often mentioned on the packaging).  Avoid indulgent feeding: The cat may enjoy treats and scraps of human food like bread. Such foods are often rich in carbs and not part of a cat’s natural diet. Cats are obligate carnivores. Thus, meat should be predominant in their diets. By substituting meat with other foods, especially calorie-rich treats and human foods, you increase the risk of obesity.  Keep your cat mentally active: Like humans, cats often turn to food when bored. In an environment with plenty of food and few activities, a cat is likely to become overweight. But you can restrict access to food and provide mentally stimulating activities to avoid boredom.  Keep your cat physically active: play with your cat often. Provide opportunities to exercise and stretch their limbs. Cats love scratching posts, climbing, chasing little rodent-like toys, and other activities.  Take your cat for regular checkups. If you want to keep cat obesity at bay, you cannot avoid the vet’s office. As we discovered, obesity in cats is not always due to overeating and low physical activity. Certain ailments and health issues can also contribute. Take your cat to the vet for regular checkups. Early diagnosis often makes it easier to deal with such conditions and ailments.   Obesity in Cats, A Final Word Obesity in cats is a problem that generates several health and lifestyle issues. Obese cats are likely to develop chronic ailments and experience a lower quality of life. Obesity is a self-sustaining condition, and treatment requires plenty of guided effort and consistency.  Studies reveal that there could be a close relationship between overweight pets and their owners’ weight issues. The lifestyle and environmental factors underpinning obesity often occur and influence both. Therefore, preventing obesity is beneficial for both the pet and owner. Be on the lookout for the factors that underpin obesity and its symptoms and take proactive steps to avoid it.
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Reduce Your Waste - How to Compost ökocat Litter

Did you know that ökocat litter is 100% biodegradable and compostable? ökocat litter is an all-natural plant-based cat litter, which allows it to be returned from where it came—the earth! Not only are we committed to making sustainable products, but we also strive to produce minimal waste and help you do the same! Did you know that roughly 80% of the items buried in landfills in the United States could be recycled or composted? Landfills are one of the largest contributors to soil pollution. Traditionally when cleaning the litter box it is common to simply toss the old litter into the trash. However, composting has recently become a great way to reduce household waste. ökocat litter users who compost their old litter can sleep better at night knowing that they are creating a smaller carbon footprint for your furry friend. How does it work? Organic waste will break down naturally if given enough access to oxygen, allowing microorganisms to feed on the organic materials, breaking it down into usable compost! This is called aerobic decomposition, organic materials converted to compost can be used as a soil amendment, improving the quality of your soil by adding essential plant nutrients. In landfills, waste lacks access to oxygen causing decomposition to take much longer and producing lots of greenhouse gasses like methane and takes up so much space! How do I start a home compost? If you are interested in starting a home composting system, do your research to find the right composting system for your home – there are tons of methods out there that will require different amounts of space and even work on your end. The basic principles of creating healthy compost are the same, it’s critical to practice good composting standards for optimal aerobic decomposition. This means stirring, turning, watering, checking the temperature, and covering your compost every few days. Make sure there isn’t too much of one type of organic material in your compost pile, you want an overall balanced content. Variety is the spice of life, and that holds true to your compost pile as well! It does take some effort but it’s well worth it in the end and after a few months, your compost will be ready to be used in your happy and healthy garden. If you have any questions or concerns regarding composting at home, we recommend checking your local ag regulations, reading more through the tips at EPA.gov, or checking your state regulations. Can I compost poo?  It depends. Many of the compost blends you can buy on the market will contain manure from animals like cows and horses. These animals are herbivores, meaning their waste will only contain plant matter and this creates amazing compost! So the rules of thumb for composting your pet’s waste is: herbivores only! That, unfortunately, means no for composting your cat's poo. Cat parents can still compost their excess litter but should remove the solid waste from the used litter and properly dispose of with the use of a biodegradable bag. The feces of any carnivorous animal may contain harmful bacteria and should NOT come in contact with anything edible. After removing any solid waste, you can safely compost the rest of the litter. Composting How-to: Place litter on your compost heap, add some straw and mix it all together. Allow this to sit with other compostable items, turning the compost as needed to allow for proper aerobic decomposition. Each composting system has different requirements for turning and tending, so make sure to tailor these steps to your specific system. Depending on the size of your pile and your method of composting, it can take anywhere from two to six months for your compost to be ready to use and mixed into your garden. Important Tips for Success: Do not compost the waste of any animals who are ill, contagious, or taking medication, as these unwanted elements may wind up in your soil. Do not compost the feces of carnivores or omnivores Keep your compost pile balanced Don’t want to Start your Own Composting System? What if I don’t want to start a home compost, but don’t want to throw my excess litter into the garbage? If you are not interested in creating your own home compost bin or don’t have the available space, you may be able to use a yard waste bin or simply bring your compostable materials to local farms or a nearby community garden. Be sure to ask first if they will accept compostable materials with pet waste and what the requirements are. Most waste management companies have a commercial composting facility, especially if you live in a larger town or city. If you are struggling to locate one, we simply recommend googling “composting facilities near me”, give them a call and ask: If they provide a waste-management bin and the times they pick up compost If they do not pick up, when and how your compostable materials can be dropped off Any regulations of what should/should not be included in your compost materials The cost associated with working the yard-waste management Any additional benefits they provide (such as finished compost at a reduced price). So what are you waiting for? Start composting your used ökocat litter today!
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Reduce your Waste - How to Compost carefresh Bedding

Did you know that carefresh bedding is 100% biodegradable and compostable? carefresh is a made from scratch small pet paper bedding, which allows it to be returned from where it came—the earth! Not only are we committed to making sustainable products, but we also strive to produce minimal waste and help you do the same! Did you know that roughly 80% of the items buried in landfills in the United States could be recycled or composted? Landfills are one of the largest contributors to soil pollution. In the past when cleaning out a small pet’s home, it has been common to simply toss the old bedding into the trash. However, composting has recently become a great way to reduce household waste. Small pet parents who compost their old bedding can sleep better at night knowing that they are creating a smaller carbon footprint for your furry friend. How does it work? Organic waste will break down naturally if given enough access to oxygen, allowing microorganisms to feed on the organic materials, breaking it down into usable compost! This is called aerobic decomposition, organic materials converted to compost can be used as a soil amendment, improving the quality of your soil by adding essential plant nutrients. In landfills, waste lacks access to oxygen causing decomposition to take much longer and producing lots of greenhouse gasses like methane and takes up so much space! How do I start a home compost? If you are interested in starting a home composting system, do your research to find the right composting system for your home – there are tons of methods out there that will require different amounts of space and even work on your end. The basic principles of creating healthy compost are the same, it’s critical to practice good composting standards for optimal aerobic decomposition. This means stirring, turning, watering, checking the temperature, and covering your compost every few days. Make sure there isn’t too much of one type of organic material in your compost pile, you want an overall balanced content. Variety is the spice of life, and that holds true to your compost pile as well! It does take some effort but it’s well worth it in the end and after a few months, your compost will be ready to be used in your happy and healthy garden. If you have any questions or concerns regarding composting at home, we recommend checking your local ag regulations, reading more through the tips at EPA.gov, or checking your state regulations. Can I compost poo?  It depends. Many of the compost blends you can buy on the market will contain manure from animals like cows and horses. These animals are herbivores, meaning their waste will only contain plant matter and this creates amazing compost! So the rules of thumb for composting your pet’s waste is: herbivores only! Rabbit, guinea pig, or chinchilla feces are a great addition to your compost piles. Parents of omnivore or carnivore pets can still compost their excess carefresh bedding, but we recommend removing the solid waste from the used litter and properly disposing with the use of a biodegradable bag. The feces of any omnivorous or carnivorous animals may contain harmful bacteria and should NOT come in contact with anything edible. After removing any solid waste, you can safely compost the rest of the litter. Composting How-to: Place the droppings and used bedding on your compost heap, add some straw and mix it all together. Allow this to sit with other compostable items, turning the compost as needed to allow for proper aerobic decomposition. Each composting system has different requirements for turning and tending, so make sure to tailor these steps to your specific system. Depending on the size of your pile and your method of composting, it can take anywhere from two to six months for your compost to be ready to use and mixed into your garden. Important Tips for Success: Do not compost the waste of any animals who are ill, contagious, or taking medication, as these unwanted elements may wind up in your soil. Do not compost the feces of carnivores or omnivores Keep your compost pile balanced Don’t want to Start your Own Composting System? What if I don’t want to start a home compost, but don’t want to throw my excess bedding into the garbage? If you are not interested in creating your own home compost bin or don’t have the available space, you may be able to use a yard waste bin or simply bring your compostable materials to local farms or a nearby community garden. Be sure to ask first if they will accept compostable materials with pet waste and what the requirements are. Most waste management companies have a commercial composting facility, especially if you live in a larger town or city. If you are struggling to locate one, we simply recommend googling “composting facilities near me”, give them a call and ask: If they provide a waste-management bin and the times they pick up compost If they do not pick up, when and how your compostable materials can be dropped off Any regulations of what should/should not be included in your compost materials The cost associated with working the yard-waste management Any additional benefits they provide (such as finished compost at a reduced price).  So what are you waiting for? Start composting your used carefresh bedding today!    
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Kitten Care 101: Bringing Home your New Kitten

So you’ve decided the time is right to welcome in a new furry member of the family? Who doesn’t want a kitten – they are a lot of fun and there is definitely no shortage on cuteness, but they are a big responsibility as well. Some things you’ll want to consider before adopting your net cat; would a mature cat be better suited to your lifestyle or do you have the time and energy needed to raise a kitten? Should you adopt more than one cat to offer them some companionship? Are you willing to commit to being a pet parent for the full length of a cats life? The average lifespan for an indoor cat is around 15 years! So before you decide between adopting a kitten or a more mature cat – make sure you are prepared for the commitment that comes with raising a kitten. So what do you need to know to make sure you start off on the right paw with your new kitten? Follow along and we will make sure you are set up for success! Before Adoption Before you bring home your new kitten, there are some things you will want to get squared away to ensure a smooth transition into your home and family! Find a vet One of the most important steps to take first is to get set up with a good veterinarian. It is a really good idea to take your new kitten in for an exam right away. They will be able to check your cat for any health concerns and answer any lingering questions you may have on providing your kitten with the very best care – like selecting the most nutritional food or litter training tips. Supplies Before you bring home your new kitten, you will want to make sure you are well stocked on everything your new friend will need. Cat food: do your research or consult your vet to select the perfect food for your kitten Cat box & litter: ökocat wood clumping cat litter has you covered with 4 different varieties to meet your needs as a new kitten parent. ökocat super soft is a great litter to start with for new kittens and their tender paws ökocat dust free for kitties with sensitive noses or allergies Cat carrier: essential item for safe travel and trips to the vet Scratching post: avoid your cat tearing up your furniture by offering them a scratching post or cat tree Toys: toys provide your cat with a great way to get out their kitten energy, form bonds with you, and redirect their uses to play by scratching you or your furniture Food & water bowls Collar with bell and ID tags: especially important if you plan to let your cat outside, the bell will help warn away any birds in your yard Grooming supplies: a brush and nail clippers are essential tools to keep your cat’s fur unmated and their claws trimmed to avoid nasty scratches Ready your home One last thing to check of the “To Do List” before you bring your kitten home, is to make sure your space it ready for them! Kittens are wild little creatures. They are curious, feisty, and full of energy and will be sure to keep you on your feet. So take stock of your home, and put away breakables and anything that looks like an accident waiting to happen. Those wiley cats love to munch on those houseplants, but there are many that can be toxic to cats. Luckily ASPCA has created a list of toxic houseplants to help you keep your fur friends safe.   Welcome Home It is finally time to welcome your new kitten into their forever home! It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of having a new pet, but remember to go slow. Your kitten will need to time to adjust and feel safe and comfortable in their new home. The best way to help them with this transition is to set up a designated space for them to get acclimated to before you let them roam freely. This area should be away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the house and full of any essentials they will need to be comfortable – food and water, a comfy bed, and a litter box. Start by placing their carrier in the room, leaving the door open for them to leave when they feel ready. Patience will be the golden rule here. Give your new friend the time and space they need to get used to their surroundings and their new family – you will all be cuddling and playing together in no time!
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Best Tips for Adopting a Pet Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are super sweet and social and can be fun, wonderful pets to add to your family. They generally enjoy people and other guinea pigs but are also independent and easy going, while also being curious and inquisitive. They are very social so they should have a companion guinea pig at all times. Here are a few tips to think about before deciding to bring a guinea pig home: What to consider:  Guinea Pigs can live between 4 and 8 years, some even older. This is a longer life expectancy than other small pets such as gerbils or hamsters that only live 1-2 years, so be sure you are committed to care for them that long.  They need a companion so be prepared to adopt at least two.  It is best to adopt the same gender only, however some males will fight.    Do you have enough space to provide a large habitat for them? Please adopt responsibly. There are usually plenty of guinea pigs available at your local humane society or an animal rescue.  Make sure they are spayed so they cannot reproduce and have them checked by a Vet for any healthy issues if possible.  Guinea Pig Diet: Fresh water must be provided at all times. Use a water bottle or a water dish that does not tip over easily. Two sources is best.  Guinea pigs are herbivores meaning they only eat plant material. Fresh greens and vegetables are an essential part of a guinea pigs diet, especially as a source of Vitamin C, which they cannot make on their own.  Fruit can be given but in moderation, no more than once or twice a week Hay MUST be available at all times. Grass hay, preferably Timothy Hay, provides the fiber guinea pigs need for digestion and helps grind their constantly growing teeth. They should be eating a pile of hay that is about twice the size of their body each day.  A pellet based food especially formulated for guinea pigs should be given every day. Make sure it does not have "fillers" like nuts, seeds, etc. Vitamin C is very important for their overall health. Guinea pigs are unable to make or store their own vitamin C so the best way to make sure they receive their daily vitamins is with a delicious offering of vitamin-rich vegetables. Red and green peppers, rosehips, parsley, kale and other dark leafy greens are all excellent sources of vitamin C. Read more  Treats can be given in moderation, just make sure they do not have added sugar or fattening ingredients like nuts and seeds. NO chocolate, it poisonous for guinea pigs.  Their Habitat Needs: Make sure their home is large enough to move around and get enough exercise, with appropriate hidey spots and enrichment like chewy toys.  We like the Midwest habitats (pictured below) that are both expandable and easy to clean. Total size depends on number of guinea pigs kept together but should be at least 10.5 sq ft for two.  Place the habitat in an area that is free of drafts and stays between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep in mind that guinea pigs can be most active at night so be sure to place in an area where they won't disturb your sleep. Use a super absorbent bedding like carefresh for the bottom as guinea pigs like to poop and pee a lot! Spot cleaning every day is best, with a total refresh once a week.  Guinea pigs should also have access to additional space or play yard a few times a day for exercise.  A pet playpen works great for this.      Other Supplies:  Your guinea pig will need some fun things to do to keep them entertained safely.   There are lots of safe toys at pet supply stores. Always ensure they are meant for guinea pigs and don’t contain any toxic ingredients or hazardous materials that could be dangerous for the pig to chew on or ingest.   Guinea Pig’s teeth grow constantly. They need to chew a lot to keep their teeth in proper condition. If their teeth grow too long or crooked, it can impact their health and their ability to properly ingest food.   Safe guinea pig chewable toys include wood, apple sticks and some fibers. Be sure to only give your guinea pig items that are safe. Sticking with items from pet supply stores is the best way to ensure your pig’s safety.   Here is a basic list of supplies that you will need to get and setup before bringing your new pet guinea pig home.  Large Habitat & play yard – safe and secure and big enough for them to move around and get exercise Water Bottle or bowl – most guinea pigs will drink out of a water bottle with spout. Two sources.  Hay feeder – Some guinea pigs enjoy pulling the hay out of the hay feeder and it can help to keep the hay sanitary. Some guinea pigs will pull all the hay out and it will just end up on the floor of the enclosure. Heavy Food Bowl – Check that it is shallow enough for your guinea pig to dip their face into  Hay & pellet food, greens, vegetables, source of Vitamin C Enrichment/Chew Toys – apple sticks, woven fiber, wooden chew toys are all great options Igloo or Hidey Hut – Make sure it is big enough for your pig to turn around in. If you are adopting a young pig, they may grow, and you may end up needing a bigger hidey hut. Grooming – Small guinea pig nail trimmers, brush *Note – if you are adopting a long-haired guinea pig, consult your veterinarian regarding grooming needs as some long-haired varieties need regular bathing, brushing and grooming to stay healthy.   Bedding:   carefresh natural paper bedding is a great option and is safe, absorbent and easy to clean with little dust for them to breathe in. Plus there are lots of fun colors to choose from for a fun habitat theme.  Since guinea pigs are herbivores, their bedding along with their poop is compostable! Learn how >>> Composting Tips Do not use wood shavings of any kind as these can emit odors and dust that can be harmful for your guinea pig’s respiratory system.     Socializing Some guinea pigs enjoy being cuddled or snuggled. Others prefer to be left alone. Since they are prey animals, they naturally try to avoid being picked up. Getting down on the floor with them with regular quiet contact and slow approaches with patting and gentle picking up over time will get them used to their owner and help them realize that they are safe. Still, some piggies will prefer to be left alone and that is ok. Learn more They may all sorts of fun and silly noises. Sometimes to communicate that they are hungry or excited to get a treat. Sometimes they chutter or make a clicking noise when they are unhappy or stressed.    
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