For some inspiration setting your own New Year’s Resolutions, let’s take a look at what your cat has decided on…
The behavioral studies team of the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis needs your help!
Please participate in their survey of cat behaviors – the survey is short and completely anonymous.
Click here for the survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/LifeWithYourCat
Food puzzles are a relatively new area of study, and take advantage of cats’ natural instinct to hunt and work for their food – the benefits it provides are mental stimulation, as well as increased physical activity. There are a variety of styles available, and options for both purchasing and DIY.
The article covers some tips on how to introduce food puzzles to your cat, as well as a chart to help you determine the best starter puzzle. There are also tips for troubleshooting potential challenges, such as owner concerns about night-time noise or having food scattered around the home.
Given time, patience and appropriate introduction, most, if not all, cats can adjust to food puzzles.
We know our feline friends love to lounge around in cardboard boxes…. but having lots of empty boxes strewn about your house don’t really make for great interior design (although your kitty may disagree lol).
Here’s a couple of links to some more stylish options to consider, next time you are shopping around for a bed for your kitty:
But a carrier is an important part of life for our feline friends, so here are some tips for helping your cat learn to like the carrier:
- Start by just leaving your carrier out in the house, so your cat can get used to it. Open it up, and block the door, so that your cat can investigate if they want to.
- Make the carrier attractive to your cat – add some comfy bedding, and then a favorite toy or some catnip.
- Once your cat is feeling comfortable with the carrier, try closing the door for a few minutes while she is inside – leave the room, and come back and give her a treat when you open it back up.
- Once she is feeling comfortable with that process, try walking around the house for a few minutes once you have closed the door. Then, set it down, and give her a treat again when you open it back up.
- When that part is going well, try taking for her a short drive – even just around the block – and reward her again with a treat once you’re back inside. Your cat will learn that the carrier and the car don’t always mean a trip to the scary vet.
Owners have the power to greatly influence cat’s behavior from lifestyle to habits and cats, in turn, can greatly influence their owner’s behavior as well.
A Study conducted by the University of Messina’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine for the Journal of Veterinary Behavior found that owners greatly influence their cats, the reverse is true as well.
Cats can influence that habits and lifestyle of their owners. Jane Brunt, DVM, and the executive director of the CATalyst Council, said that humans often adjust our schedules to fit theirs, such as getting up earlier and responding to their needs.
Giuseppe Piccione and part of the team at the University of Messina, pointed out that cats’ food intake is associated with that of their owners which may explain why human and cat obesity rates seem to mirror one another. Also,cats may even match their elimination patterns with those of their owners. If you have the litterbox in the bathroom, did you ever have the cat use the litterbox at the same time while you were “indisposed?”
As a part of the study, researchers observed two groups of cats. Each group received excellent care, in terms of food, medical attention and grooming. The owners of all the cats worked during the day and returned home in the evenings.
The first group of cats lived in smaller homes and stayed closer to their owners. The second group lived more of an indoor/outdoor lifestyle on larger property and were also kept outside at night. As owners serve as roles models, it is important to make sure that they find time for proper play/prey techniques.
Over time, the cats in the first group mirrored the lives of their owners. Their eating, activity and sleeping patterns were very similar. The cats left out at night became more nocturnal, matching the behaviors of semi-dependent farm cats with more feral ways.
In Part One of Home Cat Care, by Sandra Preston, R.N., Ph.D. provided an introduction on caring for a sick cat at home. In this post, she goes more in-depth on record keeping, temperature, relaxation and stress and weight changes.
KEEP RECORDS Keep a diary, in the form of a journal, and/or a calendar where you can write daily details regarding medications, treatments and related symptoms. Monitor your cat’s activity level, weight, appetite, and fluid intake. Is his or her temperature normal? Are bowel movements normal? Is there any vomiting? Does kitty appear nauseated (drools, no appetite )? When you talk with your veterinarian it is important to mention any abnormalities that exist.
Photo: Diane and Bruce Alexy
TEMPERATURE Become familiar with what is a normal body temperature for your cat. Cat temperature varies from cat to cat, therefore one temperature does not fit all cats. To determine what the normal temperature of your cat is, take the temperature on three different days when not ill, and then average the three readings to determine what is normal. A second way to do this is to ask your veterinarian to give you the temperature reading from the veterinary record for three different visits when your cat was NOT ill. Cat temperature is generally taken with a rectal reading. You can pick up a digital thermometer at any pharmacy that registers in 15 seconds ( it is important to find a quick registering thermometer to make this a quick procedure for your little one). When you are ready to take the temperature, first apply a tiny amount of vaseline to the tip of the thermometer, you can easily cuddle your kitty on your lap and insert just the thermometer tip into the anus. Also available, are the newer and more expensive ear canal thermometers, however, according to veterinarians they are not found to be as accurate. For cats that have conditions that include fever and require frequent temperature checks, a quick way to know if your cat has a fever is to feel the ears. Although not as accurate as using a thermometer, if kitty has cool ears he probably does not have a fever. Holly, a Bach Flower Remedy which is made from the essence of the holly flower is easy to administer and has no side effects. It is recommended in situations where there is fever. It can be given by placing a few drops on the inner lip, or it can be rubbed into the ear tip or on the paw pad. Bach flower remedies can be purchased at any health food store or online. To find more on Bach flower remedies you can read online.
Photo: Penilane Cattery
RELAXATION-KITTY STRESS CONTROL Should you have a kitty who does not like trips to the doctor, a product called Feliway, or Comfort Zone is available. The products have a cat pheromone which can be sprayed in the carrier before kitty enters to help him/her relax. Should your cat have to be hospitalized for any reason, bring this product and have staff spray the quarters where your cat will be residing. This has a very relaxing effect . There is also a Bach flower remedy, Rescue Remedy. This remedy is helpful with any if administered before travel , and can be used in any situation to reduce stress.
RECORDING WEIGHT CHANGES For the kitty who is not eating well, keeping a weight scale and a record of any weight gain or loss is imperative. To save frequent trips to your vet to monitor weight, the purchase of an appropriate scale can be helpful. The scale that you choose should measure not only in pounds, but also in ounces. Good choices are either a baby scale or a pet digital or analog scale that can be ordered online from a pet supply company. Most digital weight scales available for humans only measure in one half pound increments and are not precise enough to gauge your pets gain or loss.
Next we will discuss appetite issues.
We have a great guest post in three parts by Sandra Preston, R.N., Ph.D.
Sandra will review basic guidelines for caring for your cat at home.
What do you do when you have a kitty that is chronically ill, or suddenly develops a disease that requires constant care? Don’t panic, relax and have the confidence that you can see the situation through, making both you and kitty comfortable in this trying time. With veterinary advice and loving home care, you and your kitty can develop a special bond.
First, be aware that your cat is probably very intuitive and can sense your stress and your calm levels. With a little knowledge of some basic cat care, you can feel confident in providing for kitty’s needs. When you are in a state of calm instead of panic, you can work more effectively.
Once you visit your veterinarian and receive a diagnosis, there are simple basic steps to caring for kitty at home . Of course, it is also very important to follow-up as instructed for diagnostic tests, blood work, and medication supervision as needed. Home care for kitty should be provided as diligently as it would be for any human family member.
A little guidance from a professional, goes a long way when you are at home caring for your pet. You do not need any special skills to provide home care for your cat. You just need to take a deep breath and say, “Kitty, I can do this and make us both more comfortable through this process of illness.”
Remember, your kitty will be aware of your new found confidence and this will enhance his or her relationship with you. And lastly, always ask your veterinarian when you are not sure or need guidance. Report any unusual symptoms or abnormalities you notice when caring for your cat.
The next post will have tips on record keeping and an overview on key health tips.