Category: caring for your cat

Charlie ShortTail sitting up

Charlie and the awful tar episode

Charlie ShortTail

Tar on my cat paws

I came home today with tar on my paws. Mama panicked in case they were burnt too.

It was thick, black, sticky, stinky and matted into my fur. Mama held me and dipped my paws into vegetable oil right away as this is supposed to soften the tar.

She was able to get a big lump of it off, but holding me in one arm and trying to clean me wiv the other hand was proving too difficult, if not impossible.

Help from Nan.

So, Mama phoned the Nan (not on da banana fone). Mama wrapped me in a blanket and Nan soaked my paws in oil and used a Qtip to get in between my pads.

I was very good (mostly). After they cleaned what they could, the next stage was to cut off the fur that was really caked in the awful tar.

Nan was worried about which was fur and which was paw, so I shut my eyes and hoped for the best. It was okay she didn’t hurt me at all.

The final clean up

After all this they scrubbed my paws with washing up liquid and then rinsed with lots and lots of warm water.

Mama was much calmer at this point as she could see I had not burnt or hurt my paws.

I was a bit of a mess though! I had streaks of oil in my fur and loads of wet patches. I looked a bit pitiful Mama thought.

The reward

Because I was so good and let mama hold me in the blanket, and let the Nan clean me up without biting or scratching I got a big bowl of tuna.

What happens next?

I’m grounded because no-one knows where the tar was from. Mama says tar is really toxic for cats and we mustn’t be allowed to lick it.

If it hadn’t of come off Mama would have had to cover my paws with something. That would have been trouble so we are all glad it got sorted out.

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Why do cats like sitting in boxes of all sizes and even bags, drawers and bowls?

Charlie ShortTail

Why does your cat like boxes?

Holly O Purr relaxes in her box.

Understanding why your cat like sitting in a box, bag or drawer.

Charlie ShortTail says : Cats like boxes because:

Cats enjoy a feeling of safety and security when sitting or sleeping in a box.

A box can be lovely and warm –the cardboard provides insulation and cats love warmth.

The ideal temperature for a cat is somewhere around 86-97 degrees or 30-36 oC – our homes are generally cooler than this.

 

Play – cats enjoy hiding and then pouncing on unsuspecting prey or toys, and even other pets or family.

A box provides a good place to watch and observe.

A cardboard box is great to scratch and bite.

Lando sat in this little box to play and also hid his favourite mouse toy in the box.

 

Do not disturb – your cat can sleep or rest and not be bothered by you or others.

Cats sleep for around 18-20 hours per day.

A box can provide stress relief – a sort of getting away from it all.

Research by some scientists seems to show that rescue cats given boxes are able to cope better and adjust to new surroundings quicker.

 

Cats are difficult to study and we still do not know all the reasons why cats love boxes, large, small, tiny and of course drawers, suitcases, handbags, bowls and even shoes.

Leo loves to hide away in a bag.

Holly O Purr sitting pretty in the drawer.

Sources and more detailed information on why cats love boxes.

According to the metro.co.uk

‘Studies collated by Bryan Gardiner at Wired.com have revealed the main reasons behind your cats affinity with boxes.

Firstly, they’re a source of stress-relief. Gardiner cites a recent study by veterinarian Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands who monitored the stress levels in shelter cats.

After providing hiding boxes for a group of newly arrived domestic cats while depriving another group of them completely, she found a dramatic difference in stress levels between the two groups.

In a nutshell – cats with boxes became accustomed to their new surroundings faster, seemed less stressed faster and sought human company sooner.

Secondly, your cat prefers to flee, rather than fight and a box might represents the perfect shelter from conflict, or just too much attention.’

The ‘Metro’ also refers to ‘The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour’ : ‘Cats do not appear to develop conflict resolution strategies to the extent that more gregarious species do, so they may attempt to circumvent agonistic encounters by avoiding others or decreasing their activity.’

An article in Cathealth.com refers to a recent study in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science found that boxes can actually help reduce a cat’s stress levels.

Reducing stress for new cats  or for shelter cats

A group of new shelter cats were randomly assigned to either receive a box or not. After just a few days, researchers reported that the cats that were given boxes recovered faster and adapted to their environment more quickly than the cats without boxes.

The dailymail.co.uk also states that according to a report by Bryan Gardiner in Wired.com veterinarian Claudia Vinke of Utrecht University in the Netherlands recently studied stress levels in shelter cats. She discovered that cats who had boxes got used to their new surroundings faster than those who didn’t because the boxes acted as a coping mechanism.

Care2.com refers to an article by Steven B Williams /February 9, 2015

Steve writes that: ‘This box-loving aspect of a cat’s personality has long puzzled their human carers, and it’s also caught the attention of scientists. Researchers, who published their findings in Applied Animal Behaviour, investigated whether hiding in boxes might reduce stress for cats in animal shelters.

While most species of dog can adapt to shelter environments relatively quickly, cats often experience high levels of stress. Previous studies have shown that cats prefer areas where they have the ability to hide, but until now scientists have not studied whether so-called “hiding enrichment” might benefit a cat’s sense of well-being and specifically if providing boxes for cats to hide in might help to ease those turbulent first few weeks in a new shelter.

To investigate this, researchers took 19 newly arrived cats in a Dutch animal shelter and randomly split them into two groups, one where the cats would be given access to hiding boxes, and one group who wouldn’t have access. The researchers then observed the cats for 14 days, and they used a scale known as the Kessler and Turner Cat-Stress-Score to estimate, based on visual clues and habits like grooming and eating, how stressed the cats were during this initial settling-in time.

The researchers found that by day three and four there were significant differences in the stress levels exhibited by cats without boxes to those who had boxes, with the cats who had hiding boxes showing a total average stress score lower than their non-box counterparts. An interesting note is that box-access seemed to reduce stress no matter the breed of cat, suggesting that this isn’t just a preference for some but a much more firmly ingrained cat trait.’

Charlie says that a box can be a nice place to relax away from stress and all cats like to feel secure and safe. 

Providing a box or hide-away container can help nervous, new or cats that are in new and strange surroundings.

Charlie would like to thank his furriends Holly, Jo, Lando and Gertie for their gorgeous pictures.

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ginger and tabby cat cuddling up in bed

What to expect as your cat gets older

Charlie ShortTail

Health and behavioural changes in ageing cat

Ageing is a normal process and most cats live long and healthy lives. You can help keep your cat well by understanding how getting older can affect your cat. As your get gets older you may observe some of the symptoms and behaviours below:

  • Changes in usual appetite
  • Drinking more or less
  • Muscle loss, losing weight
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Hearing and sight may be impaired
  • Stiffness and arthritic problems
  • Less grooming and cleaning
  • Tooth decay and gum disease
  • Less physically active
  • Personality changes

How old is old? Senior and Geriatric cats

A cat is considered older (middle-aged) at around 7-8 years of age, at 11-12 years old your cat will be considered a ‘senior’ cat and at 15 years onwards your cat is termed ’geriatric’.

What happens as your cat ages

  • Your cat may have a poorer appetite due to tooth or gum problems, and also due to the fact that older cats have less sense of taste and smell.
  • As eyesight deteriorates your cat may be less confident to go out and may become more easily frightened by noises and new situations.
  • Loss of muscle tone and stiff joints may mean that your cat will jump and run less. The majority of senior cats (12 years and older) will have some degree of arthritis.
  • As in people, a less efficient immune system means they can pick up infections more easily and may find fighting off disease more difficult.
  • Old cats can often drink more water due to kidney and urinary tract problems.
  • Your elderly cat is likely to sleep a lot more, but may not sleep so soundly. Some elderly cats with dementia may have changed sleep patterns.
  • Older cats may find grooming more difficult and their coat may lose shine and condition, also the skin becomes less elastic. Grey/ white hairs will appear as part of a normal ageing process.
  • Some elderly cats may become over-weight as they slow down, but eat the same size portions.
  • Teeth and gum problems are more likely, ask your vet to check your cat. Smelly breath can be an indicator of gum disease (but also other conditions).
  • Your cat’s personality may change – they could become grumpy, although some older cats become more friendly and prefer to be in company and so demand more attention.
  • Older cats may have memory problems –dementia is becoming more common in cats as they live longer. The symptoms can be very similar to humans. * see more detailed post on dementia.
  • Sometimes swallowing can become more difficult for your cat as the mouth gets drier.
  • The internal organs, heart, liver and kidneys may start to deteriorate.
  • Claws can grow if your cat does not go out or use a scratching post; if left they can cause pain by sticking into the paw pads.
  • Hair balls can be a problem as hair ingested during grooming may cause chronic vomiting or constipation due to your cat’s digestive system being less efficient.

Grey and white cat lying down

Helping to care for elderly cats

  • Older cats can lead happy and active lives – your vet can help with regular checks and there are many good treatments and medicines available to help your cat.
  • You can help by providing a suitable diet, lots of interaction and play and ensuring that your cat has easy access to beds, hiding places and also provide a litter tray with shallow sides.
  • Keep up vaccinations, flea treatments and worming.

Weight loss and gain in senior cats

How do I know if my cat is gaining or losing weight?

  • Weigh your elderly cat every couple of months (weigh yourself and then hold your cat and weigh again is one possible solution if your cat is not co-operative). Weight loss can be a sign of illness, so it may be a good idea to keep a record. A sore mouth due to gum disease or infected teeth could be another reason for poor eating. It is common for older cats to develop medical conditions that cause them to lose weight, such as kidney and thyroid disease. If your cat has a poor appetite feeding small amounts more often may help.
  • If your cat is losing weight, it is important to consult your vet as soon as possible so you can rule out any possible health issues. Should your cat have a disease or illness, if diagnosed early swift treatment will help to alleviate symptoms, pain and manage the issues more easily than if it has developed over a longer period of time.
  • Overweight cats are unlikely to live as long as their slimmer friends and they are more prone to serious illnesses such as kidney disease, diabetes and arthritis- again very similar to us humans. Get advice from your vet and try to avoid giving too many treats. Older cats may forget they have just eaten.
  • Never put your cat on a strict diet as this can be dangerous for cats – gentle and slower changes are more sensible and in the long term more effective.
  • It may be better to follow one of the many senior diets, as they are lower in calories and reduce the likelihood of weight gain. Choose a good quality product without too much carbohydrate. Protein restriction has not been proven to be beneficial for healthy cats, however is helpful for cats with kidney problems. Ask your vet for advice on a suitable diet.

Kidney disease and cats

  • Cats’ kidneys are responsible for filtering the waste products from their blood into their urine. Older cats may be affected by kidney disease caused by infections, blockages, tumours or toxins as well as age-related changes. Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidney function deteriorates gradually over a period of time. Treatment depends on the cause and the extent of damage, but usually begins by flushing the kidneys using fluids, followed by special diets and medications. Unfortunately, kidney disease is irreversible, but with the right support many cats can enjoy a pretty normal life.
  • Anti-freeze is well-known for causing many kidney/ poisoning problems in cats.
  • Get your cat checked by a vet if they are drinking a lot more than usual.

Grooming and the older cat

  • If your cat is looking unkempt or developing matted fur, go to the vet for a check-up. There may be dental disease or joint problems that are affecting his or her ability to groom. Regular grooming is important for your cat. Help your cat by daily brushing and grooming. This will also help keep a strong bond between you and your cat.
  • If your cat is longhaired and is having difficulties keeping itself clean, it may be helpful to trim the fur around its anus, underside of the tail and back legs to avoid soiling or matting.
  • Also check your cat’s ears as some older cats produce a lot of ear wax. Clean with cooled boiled water, but never poke into the ear canal.

sleepy white cat

Dementia in older cats

  • Cats can suffer from reduced brain function as they age. With dementia your cat may seem confused, change personality, sleep poorly, meow more and have accidents. A blood test is required and similar drugs to those used with Alzheimer’s disease have been used in cats – and for some patients they work very well.
  • *Other medical disorders also produce these symptoms, so your vet needs to examine your pet.
  • Older cats can also suffer from diabetes. Symptoms may be difficult to interpret so always get expert advice.

Cat flaps and outdoor spaces

  • Some elderly cats may stop going out as a result of difficulty negotiating the cat flap. It may be helpful to build a step or leave objects they can use, both inside and outside to make it easier for your pet to remain independent. Eventually you may need to escort your cat in and out of the garden.
  • There are a number of reasons why your cat may stop going outside as it gets older. A significant influence could be other cats in the neighbourhood – your older cat will not be able to defend his or her ‘patch’ and therefore may be nervous. Spending time outside with you may alleviate this problem.

Caring for your cat’s teeth and gums as they get older

  • The bacteria from infected gums can spread around the body and damage the liver and kidneys.
  • If your cat is willing, brush the teeth and also feed some dry food to try to limit the build-up of plaque. Tooth or gum problems become common as a cat gets older, so they may not be able to chew harder foods which is why senior dry foods often have smaller, softer pellets.
  • Take your cat for regular check-ups; if your cat does need treatment, with modern anaesthetics, age itself, is not necessarily a problem. Dental care under anaesthetic is now commonly carried out on older cats, once they have been checked out for any underlying diseases.

siamese cat meows

Things to look out for in an older cat

 Go to the vet if your cat:

  • is eating less
  • not drinking
  • is drinking more than normal
  • has smelly breath
  • has lost weight
  • is stiff, limping, or having difficulty in jumping up onto things
  • you find any lumps or bumps
  • has become a lot less active
  • is having trouble passing urine or faeces, or is soiling or passing water indoors
  • is disorientated or is having trouble with balance
  • seems confused or starts getting lost

If you feel something is not right –consult your vet. You know your cat best.

Older cats love comfort

  • Older cats love their creature comforts, and will spend a lot of time sleeping in a warm and comfy spots. Beds that can be hung off radiators are often very popular; and if your cat is used to using a higher sleeping area he/she may appreciate some sort of step to enable them to climb up more easily. Cats like to hide away and a nice warm, safe place will always be appreciated.
  • They can also enjoy more time spent with you and the stimulation of playing with new toys and activities.

Finally: Don’t forget to keep up vaccinations, flea treatments and worming.

Charlie says ‘Older cats make lovely companions’.

 

 

 

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older cat egyptian mau

Dementia in older cats – symptoms, care and treatment

Charlie ShortTail

Dementia in older cats is becoming more common as our pets live longer

Cat dementia (feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome)

As cats start to reach an old age they often become susceptible to both mental and physical problems.

Physical changes can be easier to spot; however mental changes may be a little less obvious.

A cat becomes a senior citizen around the age of 11 or 12 years.

Although older cats don’t get Alzheimer’s disease as such, they can suffer from feline dementia, also known as feline cognitive dysfunction (CDS).

Advancing age in cats often leads to more diseases and disorders, although cats are generally healthier than dogs.

Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (dementia) is a condition that is directly related to the ageing of a cat’s brain.

When the brain is not working normally this can lead to changes in awareness of the surroundings, problems in learning and memory, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli – such as play and interaction with the family. Although the initial symptoms of the disorder are mild, they gradually worsen over time, also known as “cognitive decline.”

prettycat

Symptoms of dementia in senior/ ageing cats

Your cat may have some or most of these symptoms if he or she is suffering from dementia.

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Increased irritability
  • Change in personality or character
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Less desire to play
  • Slow to learn new tasks
  • Inability to follow familiar routines
  • Getting lost
  • Lack of self-grooming
  • Faecal and urinary incontinence
  • Apparent disregard for previously learned house rules
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive licking

According to an article in the Telegraph newspaper “By Laura Donnelly, Health Correspondent (2008)

“Conditions like Alzheimer’s are becoming increasingly common and now affect one million felines.

Vets have reported seeing an increase of cases but fear that many owners do not pick up on the symptoms because they do not associate the condition with their pets.

As in humans, dementia leaves the animals confused and distressed. The progressive condition, caused by degeneration of the brain, can cause them to get lost more often or become reclusive.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh now believe half of all cats over the age of 15 and a quarter aged 11 to 14, are suffering from “geriatric onset behavioural problems”.

Dr Danielle Gunn-Moore, professor of feline medicine at the university, said: “When we look at cats of all ages, we believe about 10 per cent will be affected, which represents about one million cats in Britain.”

shorthair cat sleeping

Why are cats getting Dementia?

Just like people cats are living longer, and, as in people they have better diets and have better medical care than in the past so are reaching longer lifespans.

The longer we or cats live the higher the risk of suffering from dementia.

Cats with dementia show the same amyloid protein present in their brains as is found in human dementia suffers. Symptoms may be mild or more concerning.

What are amyloid proteins?

Amyloid proteins and dementia:

Plaques form when protein pieces called beta-amyloid clump together.

Beta-amyloid comes from a larger protein found in the fatty membrane surrounding nerve cells. Beta-amyloid is chemically “sticky” and gradually builds up into plaques.

The most damaging form of beta-amyloid may be groups of a few pieces rather than the plaques themselves. The small clumps may block cell-to-cell signalling at synapses. They may also activate immune system cells that trigger inflammation and devour disabled cells.

Source: Alzheimer’s Association

What age might cats get dementia?

Just as in people, old age in cats doesn’t always mean dementia.

Cats between ages 11 and 14 may show some signs of cognitive dysfunction – changes in behaviour or personality.

In cats 15 and older it is much more common.

However, some medical conditions or behavioural problems unrelated to dementia might show the same signs as dementia, so your vet must exclude these possibilities beforehand.

Abyssinian cat lying down

 

Symptoms of dementia in senior/ ageing cats

Confusion or disorientation in ageing cats

Is your cat may be behaving oddly?

Does your cat seem disoriented or confused? just like people, cats with dementia may not understand familiar settings or may start to get lost when they go out. Your cat may start to stay indoors more.

Is she/ he behaving strangely – staring at walls, forgetting there is food in the dish or perhaps interacting differently with a cat mate that she or he knows well?

Does your cat appear to forget where familiar things are – the cat flap, litter tray, food for instance; this can all lead to stress for your cat.

Anxiety/restlessness

Is your cat pacing around, wandering aimlessly, staring at a wall for no apparent reason?

Your cat may also demand a lot more attention to try to alleviate feelings of anxiety.

Change in personality

A cat’s personality could change from sweet, friendly and loving to become more aggressive, less likely to want to be cuddled or just plain grumpy.

Cats that usually like to cuddle up or love being stroked tend to keep this behaviour throughout their lives. Therefore if your older cat begins to back away from being stroked and starts to become easily irritated, then this may be a sign of cognitive deterioration; with severe cases of dementia a cat may, at times, not recognise you.

lando-green-eyes

Loud meowing and howling behaviour in old cats

Is your cat meowing or howling a lot for no particular reason?

Loud crying at night may be a possible indication of cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS).

Altered sleeping patterns

Instead of sleeping most of the night, your cat may be wandering around the house, often meowing.

Is your cat aimlessly wandering around your home?

Does your cat seem unsettled at night?

Has their usual routine changed?

Sleepy white older cat
sleepy white cat

Loss of appetite

Cats suffering from senile dementia may “forget” to eat. Of course, there are many reasons why a cat could have a decrease in appetite or discontinue eating all together.

You will need to take your cat to see a vet to have other physical problems rules out first.

Not going out/ getting lost

If you have had to go out to find your cat, or neighbours are finding your cat you may be wise to keep your cat confined to your own garden (cat run) or home.

Your cat may alternately be unwilling to go out.

A word of caution though – your cat may just be getting lazier or less tolerant of cold weather; arthritis or joint problems might discourage your cat from outdoor adventures. Kidney disease, brain tumours, deafness and blindness can also cause similar symptoms.

Always consult your vet for advice.

House Soiling

Your cat may urinate or defecate outside of their litter box or exhibit incontinence.

Your cat may be having accidents outside of the litter box, or even just relieving him or herself wherever the cat happens to be such as on a bed or near food areas.

Your cat may forget where the litter tray is; you may need to provide more than one, especially if your cat has access to more than one floor level.

Lack of grooming/ excessive licking.

Your cat may no longer wash and groom him or herself well.

Try to brush your cat each day to help keep their coat in good condition. Brushing may also help maintain a good bond with your cat.

Excessive licking can be a sign of anxiety and stress.

older russian blue cat face

What can I do to help my cat – care of cats with dementia.

If your cat does have dementia, you can do some things to make life easier for him or her and your family.

  • Feeding your cat – stick to a regular routine so they know what to expect and when.
  • Increase the number of food bowls, water dishes and litter trays to make them more accessible from wherever the cat may be in the house.
  • Litter trays should be wide with shallow rims to allow easier access. Keep more than one litter tray if your cats has problems finding the tray.
  • Try to keep their environment unchanged (especially for those cats who may also be blind or deaf) as change creates confusion, which in turn increases anxiety and stress.
  • If changes do need to be made, try to introduce them slowly and gradually.
  • If you have visitors your cat may feel safer being in a different room.
  • A Pet Remedy plug-in or spray can help an anxious cat cope with daily life.
  • Provide several nicely padded and comfortable resting/hiding places throughout the house and again make them easy for your cat to get to.
  • Give your cat the attention and reassurance they seek, but do not fuss too much as they also appreciate time to themselves.
  • Like people, cats need to be stimulated to keep using their brains- play games with your cat, this will also help to keep their impulses sharp.  Activities can include new toys, exercise, and training for new skills – this can all help to improve your cat’s memory and brain function.

Getting the symptoms of dementia diagnosed in ageing cats

For a vet to diagnose dementia symptoms in cat, a full examination will be needed; this includes blood tests, X-rays, hormone level testing and urinalysis.

There is though, the possibility of good news in that your vet might discover a treatable condition, such as hyperthyroidism or diabetes.

Some of the dementia type symptoms might be caused by hearing or vision loss.

Treatment of dementia in cats (felines)

Medication for dementia

Your vet might prescribe medication which aids in combating cognitive dysfunction, such as psychoactive drugs.

Certain supplements, such as vitamin E capsules, might also help, as can prescription anti-anxiety medications.

Never attempt to diagnose or give over the counter medicines yourself – always consult a vet.

Do not buy drugs on the internet and administer them yourself as this could be dangerous for your cat.

Diet Change to help dementia

Your vet will be able to provide recommendations for foods and dietary supplements that promote brain health. They will most likely include the following ingredients, which are all great for cognitive function: antioxidants, vitamins C and E, beta carotene, carnitine, carotenoids, Omega-3, flavonoids, and selenium. As with all supplements the correct dosage is vital as too much of some vitamins can cause adverse reactions.

If you are concerned about your cat always seek professional help from your vet.

Charlie says we all love our old cats…

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offering a grey cat food

A good diet for my cat

Charlie ShortTail

A healthy diet for your cat

What should I feed my cat? How can I give my cat a healthy diet?

We all want to our best for our cats and kittens, learning a little bit about your cat’s dietary needs will help you keep your loved one healthy.

Cats need meat

Cats are carnivorous, this means they eat meat and have little need for carbohydrates (cereals and vegetables). Hunting cats will eat a variety of prey – mice, voles, birds, rabbits etc. Cats eat the muscles, organs, skin and bones of prey; this is a diet high in protein and fat. Cats need three times more protein than dogs.

ginger cat with prey
Cat with prey

Cats and cereals

Cats have little need for cereals and vegetables (about 2-3% in a natural diet).

Many dry cat foods contain up to 35-50% starches. Your cat does not have the metabolic adaptation to digest all this carbohydrate and so it is turned into fat. Feeding a lot of dry food may mean your cat is more likely to get overweight.

Cats with a history of urinary tract infection may be best fed with wet foods, although some premium dry foods containing cranberry are good.

Cats with diabetes should avoid dry foods with a high carbohydrate content. Always get specialist advice if your cats has diabetes.

What should I feed my cat?

Prepared wet cat foods are a reliable way to give your cat a balanced diet, but can cause tooth decay if they contain sugars.

Commercial canned cat food and sachets are higher in protein than dry foods and therefore may be suitable; although quality varies a lot between brands.

Varieties with gravy will contain more starchy stuff (and probably more salt and sugar) than the jelly type (jelly is made from the bones and ligaments of animals).

Canned foods usually contain around 8-10% carbohydrate and so this is nearer to a natural diet; canned foods do though contain a lot of water.

Cats eat a variety of prey in the wild, so your cat can quickly get bored with the same flavours of cat food.

Add variety to your cat’s diet with some:

  • Cooked meat (beef, lamb, pork, rabbit, turkey, chicken), be careful to remove all the bones though and cut the meat into small chunks or use minced meat. Cats do not chew.
  • Canned sardines, herring or mackerel make a good, nutritious treat.
  • Lightly scrambled egg is good as a light meal (never give cats raw egg white).

Don’t feed your cat

  • Too much liver – this can upset the bowels.
  • Too much fish – can lead to vitamin B1 deficiency.
  • Too much lean meat – cats need fat too.
  • Raw egg white –it contains avidin which can affect vitamin B absorption.
  • Dog food- it is too low in protein and too high in carbohydrates.
  • Anything salty.

Dry cat food and your cats diet

There are some good quality complete dry cats foods on the market which do not contain high levels of carbohydrate; look for products which are grain free.

High quality dry foods will be easier to digest than brands containing more starchy material. Dry foods containing a lot of starch can cause bowel problems as cats are not designed to eat grains.

Cranberry extract, often added to dry food is good for your cat’s urinary tract health.

Dry food may be less likely to cause tooth decay.

An obese cat

An overweight cat has a shorter life expectancy and is more likely to get diabetes.

Cats usually prefer a number of smaller meals, rather than one large meal.

Wet foods may better than dried food for heavy cats as they contain a lot of water, although there are specialist dry foods for older and overweight cats.

Lazy cats will need less food than active cats.

Ask your vet for advice; weighing dried food will help with portion size.

Safe human foods for snacks or treats for your cat

Occasional treats are fine:
  1. Hard cheese (in small amounts)
  2. Cooked scrambled egg
  3. Poached fish (bones removed)
  4. Canned tuna (not in brine –salted water)
  5. Cooked broccoli, pumpkin and carrot

Human foods toxic or likely to cause upset stomach in cats

  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Citrus fruits
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot, cherry, peach
  • Avocado
  • Cooked bones
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee, tea, alcohol
  • Grapes, raisins
  • Mushrooms
  • Salt

Foods to avoid:

Milk can cause tummy upsets as cats are often lactose intolerant; so may be best avoided.

Don’t feed too much tuna (excessive amounts of this can lead to ‘yellow fat’ disease).

Food allergies in cats

Some cats may develop an allergy to something in the content of their food.

Itchy skin is a common symptom of food allergy or intolerance.

A diet free from wheat and added carbohydrates may benefit your cat.

Check the labels on cat food carefully.

If you have any concerns about your cat contact your vet for advice.

And finally..

Of course your cat may be guilty of visiting other homes for an extra meal!

 

 

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Cat Behaviour – understanding your cat

Charlie ShortTail

Understanding your cat’s behaviour

Why does my cat behave like this?

Watch and observe your cat:

Kissy eyes – cats squeeze their eyes shut when they are happy.

kissy eyes

Happy cats will greet you with the tail held high and the tip slightly bent.

happytailsillouette

Cats thrash their tails when they are annoyed or in a bad mood.

A flicking tail indicates that your cat is feeling tension.

An aggressive or nervous cat may pull it’s ears back and show the teeth and claws.

earsback

Cats scratch to release a scent from the pads in their paws.

scratchpaw

Cats brush up against you to release scent.

They have glands around the face and also on the tail area and paws.

Cats purr

Purring for pleasure – a low frequency sound that is made from the cat’s chest, not from the vocal chords.

Whilst cats usually purr when relaxed and happy they can purr when in pain to try and comfort themselves.

shorthair cat sleeping

Loving cats

A cat’s affection has to be earned, but they are loving and once trust is established they are loyal and can make devoted companions.

Cats have helped many children, adults and other animals.

 

Playing with your cat

Playing with your cat will continue to strengthen the bond between you.

cat playing with toy mouse

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siberian cat in grass

House plants that are toxic to cats

Charlie ShortTail

Which house plants are harmful to cats?

Common house plants can be poisonous or cause allergies to your cat.

 

amaryllis toxic plant to cats
Amaryllis

Amaryllis – a popular present at Christmas (keep out of your pets reach)

Aphelandra

Azalea

Castor Oil Plant

Christmas Cherry

Chrysanthemum

Codiaeum

croton house plant toxic to cats
Toxic house plant -croton

Croton

cyclamen toxic plant to cats
Cyclamen

 

Cyclamen

Devil’s Ivy

Dieffenbachia

Elephant’s ear,

Caladium)

FernsHolly

Hypoestes phyllostachya

Hyacinthus Ivy ( Hedera)

Kalanchoe

mistletoe toxic plant to cats
Mistletoe

 

Mistletoe

 

oleander plant toxic to cats
Oleander

 

Oleander

Ornithogalum

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

peace lily
Peace lily

Poinsettia

Senecio

Spotted dumb cane

Star of Bethlehem

Umbellatum
Umbrella Plant

Zebra Plant

Cats and allergies to plants

Plants may cause blistering or itching of the mouth and gums.

Sneezing and eye problems can also be caused through contact with plants.
Contact with the leaves of food plants such as tomato, strawberry, rhubarb, parsnips, carrot, celery, marrow and cucumbers can cause irritation.
Geranium and Primula leaves can also cause similar skin problems.
Many plants that are poisonous when eaten may also have the potential to cause skin irritation on contact with their leaves or sap.
ginger and white cat sleeping
If you think your cat is unwell contact your vet for advice.
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ginger cat at the vets

First aid for cats and kittens

Charlie ShortTail

Simple first aid for cats and advice on looking after your cat or kitten

First aid kit for cats and kittens

If your cat is injured, then it is best to seek medical attention from your vet.

Phone your vet for immediate advice on whether to take your cat to the vet or treat at home.

Many pet insurers have a free helpline for advice which may also helpful.

Keep your pet warm and in a safe place.

If your pet is unwell always seek advice from your vet as soon as possible.

 What to keep at home – first aid for cats

greywhitecat

Minor injuries in cats

A clean blanket

If you need to give first aid to your cat it can be easier to wrap your cat in a blanket, as no matter how docile and friendly, if hurt the cat may be scared and so be unwilling to cooperate.

Minor cuts and abrasions

Minor cuts and abrasions should be cleaned as soon as possible to avoid the risk of infection.

For small cuts, stings and general care you can help your cat by knowing some simple and safe remedies.

Cleaning cuts – saline solution

Use a simple saline (salt solution) – 1 teaspoon of salt to 500ml of water. Cooled boiled water is ideal. This saline solution is as good as any antiseptic cream or lotion.

This solution can also be used to clean your cat’s ears, though you should never poke or push

near the ear canal.

If you use cotton wool dampen it first otherwise it will stick to the wound.

 Re-hydration fluid for a cat

Re-hydration fluid for a cat who has been ill can be made from one litre of warm water mixed with 1 teaspoon of table salt and 1 tablespoon of glucose powder (available from your pharmacist).

 Tweezers

Tweezers- to remove foreign bodies. These should have rounded points so avoid injuring your cat. Do not attempt to remove ticks with tweezers.

 Surgical spirit

Surgical spirit can be used to remove ticks.

Ticks can look like swollen grains of rice and may be difficult to spot in long fur.

The most common tick to affect cats is the sheep tick. Ticks carry harmful bacteria and a range of diseases. Ticks may be caught from other cats and dogs or from vegetation which is infested with ticks.

Ticks attach themselves by their mouthparts to feed on your cat and so care must be taken to ensure the mouthparts are completely removed otherwise infection can occur.

Never pull a tick out.

Apply surgical spirit to the tick itself by painting it on with a small brush (a child’s paintbrush works well). This should kill the tick and it should fall off within 24 hours. You can alternately take your cat to the vet where the tick can be removed using specialist forceps. If there are many ticks, then you should seek medical care from your vet.

Some flea treatments give protection against ticks. Ask your vet to recommend a reputable product to use on your cat.

tick that attached and feeds off a cat

 

Fleas

Fleas bite your cat to feed on the blood. They secrete saliva to stop the blood clotting.

A nasty flea infestation can cause anaemia, especially in small kittens. Some cats are also allergies to the saliva from the fleas, this is called ‘flea allergic dermatitis’. Regular treatment with a recommended product (ask your vet) can prevent fleas.

Wash your cats bedding on a hot wash. You may also need to treat your carpet or home with a flea spray.

Fleas can become immune to some flea treatments so always check your cat for the evidence of fleas or flea dirt.

flea

Eye injuries

Eye injuries – never try to treat an eye injury yourself always seek help from your vet.

Dirty areas around the eye can be cleaned with saline solution or cooled, boiled water.

Fur balls

Your cats self-grooming can cause an accumulation of fur in a packed ball shape to form in the stomach; the cat may cough or vomit it up. Sometimes fur balls can cause a mild blockage in the cat’s intestine. If your cat has a long coat or has been moulting a lot a teaspoon of liquid paraffin may help to prevent blockages. Always seek advice from your vet.

friendly personality Maine Coon cat

Cats with long coats should be rushed daily to help prevent a build of loose fur and also to stop matting of the fur.

Vomiting

This may be due to a change in diet or bacterial infection. Occasional vomiting is normal, however if it is recurring you should seek medical assistance. Diabetes, liver problems, high worm infestations and blockages are some causes of vomiting.

It may just be down to your cat hunting or savaging food. Ensure your cat has clean water to drink and introduce a light diet as your pet improves.

Small portions of boiled chicken or scrambled egg may be given. If you are worried about your pet or your cat is not drinking do speak to your vet.

It is vital that your cat does not get dehydrated.

Sometimes your cat may eat grass to help an upset stomach and to induce vomiting.

Broken teeth

Broken teeth must always be treated by your vet.

cats mouth open to show the teeth
Open wide!

Cat bites

If your cat has had a fight with another cat and has been bitten these bites often get infected.

two cats jumping and playing together
Just playing…

Clean the area with saline solution. You may need to snip away some fur (remember to dip your scissors, cotton wool in water first to stop them sticking to the fur), after cleaning apply some antiseptic cream to the wound. If it shows signs of infection speak to your vet.

Your cat may need an anti-biotic as cat bites can sometimes be serious  – remember always check and get advice fr0m your vet.

sleepycat

And finally:

Ensure your cat is regularly wormed and treated for fleas.

Keep up vaccinations and have your cat neutered; these cats are less antisocial and also suffer from less disease than full ‘toms’ and ‘queens’.

Charlie says “If your pet is unwell always seek advice from your vet as soon as possible.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ginger cat grooming itself

All you need to know about cat fleas and how to get rid of them

Charlie ShortTail

Cats and Fleas

You can prevent fleas becoming a problem by regularly treating both your cat and your home.

Basic facts about cat fleas:

flea

Fleas have four life stages: egg, lava, pupa and finally biting adult.

Fleas feed on the blood of their host – cats, dog, humans, birds and reptiles.

About 95 per cent of flea eggs and larvae live in the environment; your home – on beds, rugs, carpets and sofas – not on your cat.

The female flea can lay 2,000 eggs in her lifetime.

A flea can live more than 100 days without a blood meal.

Female cat fleas can lay 20 to 50 eggs per day, which hatch in 2 to 5 days.

A flea can live up to one year.

Female cat fleas can lay 20 to 50 eggs per day.

The female flea consumes 15 times her own body weight in blood daily.

A flea can jump up to 8 inches high, or approximately 150 times its own height.

Under ideal conditions, a cat flea can complete its entire lifecycle in just two weeks.

Cat Fleas and your home

Cat fleas like warm and humid environments, so your nice, warm home is ideal.

Adult fleas spend their entire lives on your cat; eating, living, and mating before the female produces eggs.

The eggs fall off into the environment, where they hatch into larvae.

Has my cat got fleas?

Cat fleas love the warm, moist, safe home that is provided in a cats soft, furry coat.

The main way to tell if fleas are making a meal out of your cat is to take note of whether they are scratching or biting their skin and fur.

If you think that your cat has fleas, check the skin around the base of its tail or under the legs for tiny, moving black dots.

Using a flea comb is the easiest way to check for fleas – comb the fur and wipe the comb on a damp piece of kitchen towel; any reddish marks are from the flea dirt.

Preventing Cat Fleas and Treating Your Home

Stop cat fleas from taking over your home or pet by not giving them a chance in the first place.

In your home and garden you can help prevent a cat flea infestation by regularly cleaning out the areas where your pet rests.

Wash all pet bedding on a hot wash.

Vacuum regularly.

Treat your cat each month with a product recommended by your vet.

Flea Bite Hypersensitivity in Cats

Flea allergy dermatitis

Some cats may develop an allergy to flea saliva, which causes severe irritation and itchiness.

Fleas regurgitate digestive juices onto the skin of a bite site while they suck blood from their host, and sometimes cats can have serious allergies to this juice.

This allergy is called fleabite allergic dermatitis and can be developed over the course of a cats lifetime.

Cats that are allergic to flea bites (flea allergy dermatitis) can show excessive grooming and scratching from even just a single bite.

Flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergic dermatitis causes severe itching.

This condition is called pruritis.

As only one or two flea bites a week can cause pruritis, symptoms will often persist even after some form of flea treatment has been applied to your cat.

Most cat owners will first notice frequent and severe itching and scratching, hair loss, and scabs on their cat’s skin.

Fleas or flea dirt may not be easily visible.

Only a few fleas can cause problems to sensitive cats.

Only ever use products made for cats –dog flea treatment can be highly toxic to cats.

Flea anaemia

Tiny ginger kitten

Fleas feed on blood, so young kittens, frail or older animals can become weak and even die as a result of blood loss. This is called flea anaemia.

Lethargy, disinterest in food, pale gums and low weight are some of the symptoms.

Flea larvae can become infected with tapeworm eggs. If your cat has fleas you should also make sure he/she is treated for worms.

A bad flea infestation can cause a lot of distress but is easily treated:

homeless cat with fleas

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