Toxic Plants

It is true that cats depend mainly on meat for nourishment, but kittens like children are attracted to vegetation and could end up munching on plants you have around your home.

So before you buy that lovely new plant or bring a new fur member into the family, please do some research in what plants are toxic to cats.    A list of some plant species that are toxic to cats can be found on the RSPCA website. 

It is not only ingesting by chewing plants but also what can stick to a cats coat, later to be licked clean that also needs to be considered.

Of course you cant control every plant in your neighborhood but you can select what you have in your own home and garden.

There is a variety of cat friendly grasses available that you can grow yourself to help satisfy kitty's fondness for foliage such as Catnip, Cat Mint, Parsley and Wheat Grass.  These grasses are particularly good for helping with your cats digestive system and to help them remove fur balls.

 
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Scratching Behaviours

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Why Cats scratch

All cats scratch and this is a natural and necessary behaviour.  By scratching, your cat is shedding the outer sheath of its nails to help keep them healthy as well as exercising the muscles in their legs.  In doing this your cat is also marking their territory by leaving their individual scent behind.  All perfectly normal behaviour.

Understanding that scratching is a natural behaviour which cats really enjoy, will help you deal with the situation in keeping them from scratching on or in undesirable places eg. lounge suite.

You won’t be able to stop them scratching, but you can deter them from scratching your favorite things.

Some suggestions that may help:

  • have their nails trimmed on a regular basis by your Vet or learn how to do them safely yourself (ask your Vet) and start as soon as you can, the younger they are the easier it will be for both you and your cat
  • redirecting them to a scratching post, or perhaps a specific mat just for them (we use both in our Cattery)
  • spraying 'No Scratch' on furnishings can deter them but you need to be persistent and follow up regularly
  • spraying 'Cat Nip' on the area that you want them to scratch really does help, but again this needs to be done regularly so they learn that scratching on certain things is o.k. and it becomes second nature to them.  You should find that after a week or two of really persisting that your cat will choose to use the scratching post or mat that you have sprayed.

Just remember scratching is what cats do and they really enjoy it.  They just need to learn what they can and cant scratch.

Good-luck!

 
 

Choosing the right cat for you

Choosing the right cat for you

Some things to keep in mind.

How active are cats?  Some cat breeds have a laid-back attitude and will be content to just lay on your lap and be with you while you read a book or watch TV.  Other cat breeds have a higher activity level, need more stimulation and prefer to be joining in on whatever you are doing eg. working outside, going for walks, hanging out the laundry, anything to “help”.

Do Cats need grooming? All cats need regular grooming whether long or short hair.  Cats with longer hair require frequent brushing to prevent matting or even bathed.  They also shed hair which can take more time to remove from clothes, furniture etc.  Furr-balls can also be more of a problem especially if you don’t keep up with the grooming.

Short hair cats are much easier to look after.  They don’t need as much grooming or take up as much time.

Long hair

Long hair

 
Short hair

Short hair

Do you have children or other pets?  The interaction between children and other pets can vary between cats.   Kittens are usually more accepting of children and other pets and therefore more suitable to a family situation. It can be difficult and may take a lot of patience and time to introduce older cats to children and other pets, especially if they have never interacted with them before. It also depends on the type of home the cat had previously.

What gender to choose?  Obviously a personal choice.  Owners are encouraged to have their cat desexed, be it male or female.   A cat that has not been desexed can have behavioural problems as well as contracting various diseases and cancers. 

Age of the cat?  A kitten's personality is hard to determine within the first few weeks of it's life.  At nine weeks of age a kitten is approximately two years old in human years.  Hmmm terrible two's, that’s food for thought!   In saying that, in raising a kitten, you will have a greater effect on their behaviour and development.  Their environment also has an impact on their “catonality”.

Kitten's do take up a lot more of your time and patience.  As a responsible cat owner you will go through many stages of their development e.g. toileting, climbing (everything from tables to curtains), chewing, scratching and trips to the vet for vaccinations, desexing etc.

Choosing to raise a kitten, for some is a most enjoyable and exciting time, but for others it is all too hard and time consuming. No matter whether you choose a kitten or an older cat, it is a long-term commitment that shouldn’t be taken lightly.  They will be a part of your family for the rest of their life-time!

 
 

What type of cat?  Purebred or Crossbred?  If you have a particular breed in mind make sure you do your research on the breed especially any health problems that may be associated with that particular breed.  Buying from a reputable breeder will help reduce this risk. Research is the key.

There is of course the cost factor.  Purebred’s, depending on their blood lines and breed, may cost between $250.00 to over $2.000.00.  Domestic crossbreeds are often free or can be adopted from an animal shelter at a nominal adoption fee which includes desexing and vaccination.  There are so many unwanted kittens and older cats at shelters and it is a good feeling knowing that you have been able to give a loving home to one or more of these beautiful animals.

Whatever your choice, give them lots of love and affection and you will be greatly rewarded.

Choosing the right Cattery/Cat Hotel

A good place to start is to make a list of catteries/cat boarding facilities or cat boarding hotels to visit.   It may be helpful to ask fellow cat owners, neighbours, family, friends, pet businesses and local vets as they may be able to make a recommendation. 

As good boarding facilities fill up quickly, it is advisable to book ahead especially during school holiday periods as this is usually the busiest time for most catteries/cat hotels.

Once you have made a list of catteries,make sure you pay them a visit well in advance to avoid missing out on your preferred booking dates.

Be prepared!  Put together a list of questions that are important to you and make a time with the owner or staff member to visit and have a chat about the accommodation they offer.

Some questions to consider:

  • Does the accommodation look and smell clean?
  • Indoor/Outdoor? Consider whether your cat is used to being indoors or outdoors. Cats who are used to being indoors may find the different smells and noises of the outdoors too stressful and cats that are usually outside may feel trapped and too confined if they can’t access an external garden area.
  • Is the accommodation area large enough for the cat to climb and play?
  • Do guests have constant access to fresh, clean water?
  • Does the cattery/cat hotel have access to an on-call Veterinarian? 
  • Is the internal environment well ventilated, air-conditioned, heated and well lit?
  • All good catteries will require proof of current vaccination against cat flu to prevent cross-infection.  If they do not ask for proof, they are not following the Code of Practice for all Boarding Facilities, best to find another cattery/cat hotel.  http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/pets/domestic-animal-businesses/boarding-establishments/code-of-practice-for-the-operation-of-boarding-establishments
  • Can you provide your own food for your cat?  Some catteries may discourage this, but on the whole most catteries are happy to oblige but this usually doesn’t affect the cost per day.
  • If the cattery/cat hotel provides accommodation with varying levels, ask to be shown all of these.   If you choose the highest level of care for your cat, it is nice to be assured that all cats are being well cared for no matter what level of accommodation they are in.
  • It is really important for you to feel comfortable with, and trust the staff you leave your cat with.
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Now that you are happy with the cattery/cat hotel you have chosen,  good preparation is the key to reduce stress for both you and your cat.

  • Book in early as the best catteries/cat hotels are booked out well in advance, especially around school holiday times.
  • Make sure your cat’s vaccination is current.  F3 is the minimum catteries will accept for boarding and is required prior to check-in.  If you do not provide proof, your cat may be refused boarding.
  • To help reduce your cat’s stress, familiar smells like bedding or clothing they usually sleep on may be beneficial, but please don’t wash them just before boarding as the items will lose the “familiar” smell.
  • Before taking your cat to the cattery/cat hotel, it is advisable 3 or 4 days beforehand to leave the carrier near their favourite place in the house and place some of their bedding inside to encourage them to sleep in there.  The carrier will be able to be left in the accommodation you have chosen and your cat will be able to retreat to it if need be and be comfortable with the familiar smells.  A favourite toy is also a good item to leave with your cat.
  • Good catteries/cat hotels will have owners fill in a profile about your cat's personal likes and dislikes, if they enjoy belly rubs, lots of pats and cuddles or prefer being left alone.  Fill in as much information as you can as this helps staff get to know your cat quicker and make for a more pleasurable experience for them.
  • With cats that have special dietary needs, it is recommended that you provide enough food for the entire stay and that the cattery staff are happy to accommodate your request.
  • If your cat requires any type of medication make sure you discuss this before booking to ensure that staff are qualified or capable of administering it and make sure you provide enough for the entire stay.  Some catteries/cat hotels are happy to give medication orally but not injectable medication so discuss this before booking.
  • Make sure your chosen cattery has your usual Veterinary name and contact details. 

All set!   Now you can relax and enjoy your holiday and so will your cat!

A Cat's Body Language

A Cat's Body Language

What is my cat`s body language telling me?  A cats temperament can change quickly between having fun and attack if over stimulated so be careful not to push it too far especially if you don`t know the cat you are playing with. Cats are stimulus driven predators by nature so if you start pressing their buttons they may move in for the attack.  If the cat is past the point of playing and has reached attack mode simply stop and this will end pursuit mode.

Why do cats stare? Most cats will stare as a first reaction to something they feel uncomfortable about or something new to them such as a stranger walking into the room. Once they are comfortable in the situation the staring usually ceases. If the cat is focusing on something new the pupils will dilate, becoming like saucers or bug eyed and they will refrain from blinking but if the cat is becoming angry the pupils will contract and be more focused on one narrow area rather than a whole area.

Why do cats hiss? A cat hissing, especially if the front paw is raised in readiness, signifies a very unhappy cat indeed!  Best to leave it alone until the cat becomes more relaxed around you.  Be patient, this may take time.

 

Do cats like belly rubs?  Cats are very protective of their soft underbelly so when dealing with a cat you are not familiar with, don`t assume they want a belly rub as they may reserve this type of attention for the ones they trust completely.

Is my cat happy to see me?  When a cat uses long slow movements to blink their eyes it is telling you "I am happy to be here with you". If you return the gesture to your cat you are letting them know that you feel the same way. Most cats don`t like direct eye contact so either show the cat quick glances or slow blinking movements

What is a cat’s tail telling me?  A cat’s tail is the most obvious sign as to how they are feeling. Holding their tail high is showing confidence. If a cat is curling its tail around your leg it is spreading it's scent on you in a friendly and affectionate way. A cat holding its tail between its legs shows anxiety. If the cat feels threatened the most common response is to fluff out its tail like a brush and arch it's back sometimes claws may even be unsheathed. This is not the time for cuddles, but best to leave them alone.

Interactive Cat Toy's

Interactive toys are a great way to mentally stimulate your cat.  We use them all the time and have found that a variety of toys can really excite and burn off that excess energy and also tire them out for a nice quiet night.

Laser lights (eg. FroliCat) are lots of fun for you and your cat.  We have found that just a 10 minute burst will work wonders and leave your cat feeling happy and contented for hours. 

Flashing, moving balls are also great and the ones that roll inside tracks make it easy for pack-up.  No searching for lost balls after a play session as they are well contained in the toy.

Do cats watch TV? Ours do and they love it.  Some cat's will love it and others may not be interested.  You can find DVD’s made especially for cat's and the longer ones with changing scenes are the ones we found to be the most interactive.   Sometimes it takes a little longer for them to become engaged, but be patient it can be so much fun for you and your cat!

Cat Trend: Cat Cafés

Can I shares your drink?

Can I shares your drink?

In this day and age everyone is so busy – so many people love animals, but are circumstantially unable to have one of their own. There is now an alternative for cat lovers – cat cafes! These specialty cafes enable you to get your crazy cat person on and get your fix.

So what exactly IS a cat café? Well, quite as the name suggests, it is a place where you can enjoy your cup of tea, coffee, or anything else that you can get at a regular café, but with the company of cats.

The world’s first cat café was built in Taiwan in 1998, and the idea has since taken the world by storm. Japan has particularly adopted the concept, with over 50 in Tokyo alone, and now Australia is starting to jump on the trend, with shops popping up around the country very quickly.

Most cat cafés get their cats from adoption agencies, rescuing stray or unwanted cats that may otherwise have been put down, but others have a range of purebred cats to educate people on the different breeds. Some cat cafés work with adoption agencies, fostering cats until one of their customers falls in love with them and adopts them as their own.

Get in some play time at a cat cafe

Get in some play time at a cat cafe

It is a great concept to give many cats a second chance at life and a fur-ever home. They are all regularly checked by vets, up to date on their vaccinations and are monitored closely at all times to ensure the cat’s safety.  

The cats are very well cared for, and are able to choose whether they hang out with humans or spend a quiet time by themselves in a secluded place. They are not made to perform; they just come and go as they please between customers and seem very relaxed and happy. There are also a lot of visitor rules to make the cats more comfortable. Common ones include:

·         No flash photography

·         Do not disturb sleeping cats

·         Do not pick cats up – if they jump on you that’s ok

·         No children under 8

·         Do not feed cats

 The cafés also have to pass stringent health regulations and guidelines to operate, so don’t be concerned about hygiene and cleanliness!

If you are interested in checking a cat café out, make sure you book in advance because these places are always full!