Training Your Kitten to Enjoy her Carrier

Cat in Soft CarrierMost cats learn to hate carriers because they associate the carrier with a bad experience – it comes out once a year or so, and means a trip to the vet’s office!

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:

 

  1. 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.
  2. Cat in Hard CarrierMake the carrier attractive to your cat – add some comfy bedding, and then a favorite toy or some catnip.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

 

Things to Consider Before Bringing a Kitten Home

Sunday, March 20 was the first official day of Spring 2016 and a perfect time to bring a new kitten home.  Here are five things to consider when you are considering a kitten for your forever home.

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  1. Make sure that your kitten is at least three months of age. By then, mom has socialized and weaned the kitten so that it can survive.
  2. A healthy kitten has a muscular body, firm to the touch, clear eyes and will move with confidence and strength.
  3. Whether buying from a breeder or whether you get your cat from your local rescue, be sure to find out all you can about the kitten. For a pedigreed cat, talk with your breeder so that you can understand the temperament and pedigree behind the kitten.  For a rescue kitten, be sure to get as much information about the conditions which the kitten was found.
  4. Choose your vet in advance and talk to her about how to keep your kitten happy and healthy. Your vet is the best expert to guide you about proper nutrition and care.
  5. Have fun bonding with your new kitten that will build over time and so that you can become pals for years to come.
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Training Your Kitten to Enjoy the Grooming Routine

3-7 cat with brushRegular brushing and combing are important to make sure that your cat has less hair balls and will leave less hair around the house. For long-haired cats, daily grooming is essential.

The best conditions for training your kitten to get used to the grooming sessions is to gently comb or brush him when he is relaxed or sleepy. Using a gentle approach, don’t insist that grooming take place when the cat is nervous or wanting to play.

Grooming is done the right way of the fur, with the exception of the neck area. Position the comb in a slanted position, and make sure that the teeth are not too sharp. You may take several tries to find your cat’s favorite grooming place. There are plenty of combs on the market, find one that is recommended for your cat’s fur length and texture.

3-7 Robert Groppi1Also, during the grooming process, be sure not to overstimulate your cat so that he becomes rambunctious and aggressive. You want to associate the grooming routine for your cat is time for the two of you to bond and relax.

For some cats, daily grooming may take place several times per day or on a regular basis. Take notice of any “sensitive” areas on your cat and try to avoid those areas. One of my cats does not like having his stomach combed more than a few times.

Grooming is not only essential, but can be an enjoyable activity that you and your cat can share for his entire life.

Five Reasons Why I Love My Cat

It’s Valentine’s Day this coming week and a time to show our love and appreciation for the ones we share our lives with and that must include our cats! I am sure like me, you are grateful for the chance to share your life with four crazy cats. They always make us feel better if I am sad and give me something to laugh about each day.

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Photo: Krysia Reed

The five best things about having a cat are:
1. When you wake up they are happy to see you. Even if they are standing above you on your pillow waiting to eat.
2. They want to be near you when you are working at your computer. I won’t even discuss the amount of hair in my computer!
3. They make me laugh when they are in their crazy moods, racing through the house and playing, just because.
4. They remind me to be curious about everything and that curiosity is good for anyone at any age.
5. They give me peace. Peace of mind and soul.

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Photo: Carol Real

As pet parents, what more can we ask for? Hug Your Cat this Valentine’s Day and don’t forget to show them your love and appreciation.

Yes, You Can Feed Treats to Your Cat

In moderation.  Just like humans, cats can have treats in moderation.  The other day I was getting a treat out of the cupboard for one of my cats and I actually looked a how many treats the manufacturer recommends that I give. My portion control was about right. But, it made me want to be diligent about what kind of treats I should give to my cats.  I want to make sure that the treats I give out are safe, nutritious and can fit into the cat’s daily nutrition requirements.

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Look for low calorie treats. Do not underestimate or ignore the calories in your cat’s daily calorie count. Avoid treats which have high sugar, treats that are meant for dogs, or are high in calorie.

According to Catnip Magazine’s December 2015 issue, “If you are thinking of making your own homemade treats, beware of certain potentially dangerous ingredients such onions and garlic, processed meats, and baby food with additives.”

Giving your cat a treat or two now and then is an excellent way to strengthen the human-animal bond and enhance your relationship with your cat.  Give it a try!

 

Cat Show Etiquette

So, you have never been to a CFA cat show and are planning on going this year?

Shows are listed on catshows.us as well as on CFA’s site. Note that the CFA site has contact info for the most part and has the complete schedule.  Catshows.us has three months listed at a time.

Below are some things to keep in mind before going to the show.

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Photo: Larry Johnson

If you are looking for a particular breed, you can look up the show flyer on CFA’s catshows.us site and email the entry clerk to see if any breeders of that breed have entered. They will usually know by mid-week.  The flyer will also have contact info for other show personnel as well as starting and closing times and admission fees.

When you are visiting what we call the “benching area” or the area where the cats and owners are seated when not being judged, you will want to talk to the breeders in this area. Don’t be discouraged if the breeder cannot talk because s/he is either getting the cat ready or to a ring.  Ask when would be a good time to come back. Each breeder has his or own process for placing their cats. There may even be kittens or cats for sale at the show.

You can look for orange cages in the benching area if you have general questions about the show.  The cages are homes for CFA’s Ambassador Cats. Feel free to ask questions of the CFA Ambassador– that is the person with the ASK ME button on. The Ambassador cat is also a cat to pet and visit.

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Photo: Mark Hannon

The benching area is the cat’s resting, safe area.  Do not open cages without permission and please  ask permission of the owner before petting the cat.

Note that the judging ring is for judges and cats who are being judges.  Spectators are not allowed in the area behind the judges and in front of the cages.  There is a place to sit in front of the ring.  Some judges converse while they are judging, while others do not.  If you do have a question, you can ask the judge’s assistant, known as the clerk who is seated at the table with the judge.  S/he will be able to guide you.

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Photo: Kathleen Landy

Most of all, have fun while you are visiting our show!  We look forward to seeing you!

 

CFA Blog Talks to Dr. Andrea Sanchez About Naughty & Nice Holiday Foods

I had the privilege of talking to Dr. Andrea Sanchez from Banfield Animal Hospital about foods to avoid and foods you can give your cat during the holidays.

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The first thing she reminded me about was, “To remember that the holidays could be stressful for kitty and to make sure I had a “safe” room where your cat can go and rest.” She explained that by giving kitty her own room it keeps her away from open doors and does not upset her so she is not part of the confusion of holiday visitors.

She recommends to be in touch with your vet for an appointment at least twice a year because our cat’s rate of aging is so much faster than ours, it is good to stay on top of any health issues by seeing your vet twice a year, you can be proactive and address health issues as they arise.  Your vet can do blood work and give your cat a complete exam.  Be sure you talk to your vet about holiday eating habits and whether your cat can eat a few treats during the holiday season.

Here is a summary of naughty and nice foods.  Two foods Dr. Sanchez said to avoid:  Gravy and Animal Skin.  She said that cats are way more prone to  Pancreatitis, an inflammation of the pancreas, which can be stimulated by high fat foods. Skin from the Turkey or Chicken are also high in fat and can sometimes have seasoning which can make your cat sick.  The best option, with your vet’s permission, is to consider a boneless chicken breast which has been boiled or poached. Portion control is key.  Take a look at your cat’s paw and give her one half the size of her paw for a treat once per day.  Again, Dr. Sanchez stressed as long as your own veterinarian approves.  She also mentioned that pumpkin is high in fiber and can enhance flavor.

 

At the end of the interview I asked Dr. Sanchez what made her go into veterinary medicine.  She said, “My cat Tabitha inspired me when I was eight years old, I had a cat names Matilda.  She inspired me.  She was always there when I needed her and I became a vet to thank her and pay her back for what she did for me.”

Dr. Sanchez also talked with me about the work she does in Puerto Rico where she used her veterinary and Spanish-speaking skills to lead a volunteer trip to that country, where a team of ten, spent a week providing necessary medical care for more than 400 pets and teaching empathy and responsible pet ownership to 800 school children. She said, “We have saved over 20,000 animals with our program.”

Dr. Andrea Sanchez serves as Banfield Pet Hospital’s senior manager of hospital operations and initiatives, supporting ongoing improvement efforts aimed at the wellbeing of clients, doctors and associates at Banfield. She has worked in veterinary medicine for 16 years, and has been a veterinarian in small animal general practice since 2007. In addition to her current role, she also provides care for pets in Banfield’s Portland area hospitals and regularly volunteers her time to work with pets of low income owners. She is the proud pet owner of four rescue animals: cats Danny, Pablo and Felix, and dog Frankie.

It was a pleasure to talk to Dr. Sanchez and we thank her dedication and willingness to share information.

 

Top Five Tips for Working with a Breeder

So, good for you! You have decided you want a pedigreed cat?

Research the behaviors and characteristics of pedigreed cat breeds so you can see what breeds fit in with your family, your lifestyle and personalities.  There has to be a match on all levels.

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Photo: Larry Johnson

Attending a CFA cat show in your area is the best way to observe the different breeds and to talk to breeders about their cats.

Remember, do not be offended if the breeder wants more information from you about your search, what you are looking for a male or female kitten or retired adult.  The breeder may also want to know information about your household, your lifestyle, veterinary and pet sitter information and how many animals you have currently.  They are placing one of their babies into your home and just want to make sure their cats are going to be taken care of.

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Photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28652129@N06/”>Anne Worner</a> via <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>CC BY-SA</a>

Below are some good questions/discussions with the breeder:

  1. Cost-depends upon the breed and is determined by the value the breeder places on the pedigree.  The cost  is really a contract between the two of you and is no one else’s business.
  2. Quality-Top show, show quality, breeder quality, pet quality.  If you are interested in showing the cat, be sure that the breeder knows you are interested.
  3. Spay/neuter requirement-is the expectation that the kitten will come to you without being neutered or spayed? Be sure you understand what this requirement is so you can include in any costs/budgeting.
  4. Vet visits for shots and health check
  5. Age for release-  Most breeders release their kittens anywhere from 12-16 weeks of age.

If you have never purchased a pedigreed cat, you will want to understand the protocols ahead of time to make your journey a lot less stressful and a process you will treasure and remember for years to come!

 

 

 

 

Caring for the Senior Cat

I have an almost 13 year old who is in failing health. We are in constant communication with his vet and it does reassure me that I am doing the right thing.  My last cat was 19 when he passed and I had forgotten how different it is to care for a senior citizen.   In many cases, nature will take its course and at each stage, most likely, there will be an opportunity to assess your cat’s health with your vet and make decisions accordingly.  It is never easy saying good-by, but by paying special attention to your cat’s needs now, you can make him more comfortable and even happy in his senior years and perhaps, extend his life and your time with him, that much longer.

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Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/hellie55/6014069408/”>hehaden</a> / <a href=”http://foter.com/”>Foter.com</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>CC BY-NC</a>

Generally, any cat over the age of 7-10, a cat is considered to be a senior. Here are some tips to help you care for your senior cat:

  1. Schedule regular check-ups with your vet.  Rather than the yearly check up, consider quarterly or twice a year so that your vet can make adjustments as necessary, especially with diet and nutrition.  Working with your vet on proper diet and nutrition can really make a big difference. I regularly email my vet with questions or observations to make sure I am not ignoring any signs.
  2. Make sure your cat has plenty of water.  I am now leaving water bowls around the house so that he does not have to go too far to drink.  He still likes drinking from the bathroom faucet, but needs our assistance to get up on the sink to drink.
  3. He is urinating more which is a sign that his kidneys are showing signs of age. We have also purchased litter boxes that have lower sides so that he does not have to climb over the sides.  Of course, the other cats use these litter boxes as well!
  4. I also monitor my other cats with my senior cat.  I want to make sure that they are not rough-housing or bullying him.  I do have one that is showing signs of being the “alpha” male…and I am constantly monitoring his actions with the older cat.  You may see the dynamic with your other cats’behavior and reactions change as well.
  5. While he has little interest in playing with toys, he does still like our attention. We have noticed some vision loss but can still follow a toy if it is up close.  Both my husband and I make sure we spend some time each day talking and sitting and petting him without any interruption from our other cats.  A retired show cat, we have now also decreased the number of baths we give him and instead have focused on combing, and washing his face on a daily basis.  We also make sure his nails are trimmed regularly as well.

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Trusted and faithful companions, it is our responsibility to monitor our cat’s health and take care of them as their needs change due to age.  You will find the process very rewarding and your cat will show you his love and loyalty that will stay in your heart forever.