Cat Care

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Best Cat Carrier for Nervous Cats

Traveling with your cats should not be a stressful experience for you or them. However, many cats seldom travel, living much of their life at home unless they need to visit the vet. Some cats are confident by nature and these travel easily, while there are others who are nervous when picked up and even more so when put in a cat carrier and driven across town.

If your cat has a problem traveling, or is nervous by nature, then it’s important to look for the best cat carrier for nervous cats. This way you can build up positive association with the carrier and help them to feel confident about going inside it long before you need to use it.

For me personally, I found the top opening Wire Cat Carrier Basket by The Purr Company fabulous! It is large and spacious enough for my big persian cat to sit comfortably, along with turn around if he wants to; and I line it with a soft towel so it’s not uncomfortable for him to sit in. It gives him the option to look around as we’re too’ing and fro’ing from the house and van. Saying this, if I think we may bump into people or dogs then I pop a towel on top so that he’s in darkness and other dogs can’t see him (thus reducing barking and any other behaviour which might frighten him when he’s inside).

Now my cat doesn’t willingly jump into the carrier – he doesn’t love it that much. But he is not nervous when sat inside it as it’s something I got him used to from a kitten. And the beauty of these carriers opening from the top is that scary prying hands from vets or other strangers are not coming at him, rather he is picked up from above in a much more comfortable and non threatening manner.

Don’t forget to check the size of your cat. Not all carriers are made to fit every size of cats. There are some designed for specific breeds, size, and age, so bear this in mind when choosing your cat carrier.

To end .. a picture of my main man – Pancake the cat 🙂

pankee

 

Hairball Prevention in Cats

Don’t be caught off-guard by an unwanted hairball being coughed up around your house this shedding season by reading our 3 top tips!

  • Keep on top of brushing – Cats tend to do a pretty good job of grooming themselves so many people don’t think much about brushing them. But for long haired cats, and during shedding ‘season’ a good daily brushing is a must! The more of that fur you remove with a brush, the less they ingest. Don’t forget to wipe them down with a moist cloth after you brush them to remove any extra loose fur (oh and keep that vacuum cleaner nearby too as their furs will be floating everywhere!) My cat, pictured below, has lots of fur! He’s a short haired Persian so his fur is dense, thick and frankly all over the place. I invested in both the Zoom Groom and the Furminator, though my top choice would be the Furminator for sure – it just gets so much off of him, and he doesn’t seem to mind it at all.
  • Medicines & Supplements – If you think your cat may already have a hairball brewing, pick up an over-the-counter “medicine” to help them pass it. These medicines are often mild laxatives and can help hair pass through your cat’s system normally. Adding extra fiber to your pet’s diet, through food or supplement, is a great preventative change you can make too!
  • Add some Coconut Oil – Mix a small amount of coconut oil in your cat’s food (if they will eat it of course). The oil helps to lubricate their digestive system naturally. Consumption of it can also make their coat shiny! This is a short-term treatment though. Feed oil in moderation over short periods of time, and do consult your vet prior to ensure that it’s suitable for your cat.

pankee grooming

If your cat continually suffers from issues associated with vomiting and you suspect there might be more to it than hairballs than see your vet as there might be a more serious issue at play. And left untreated, hairballs can form intestinal blockages that are very dangerous for your cat.

Cover picture credit: Getty Images

In blog picture credit: Jog My Dog (Pancake cat!)

Things my cat has taught me about life

Sleep is key to success

Do not underestimate the power of sleep. Getting a solid 7 – 8 hours undisturbed rest each night means you’ll be delivering at 100% in your work and personal life. It doesn’t matter where you do your sleep – it could be a chair, your bed (recommended), the floor, your yoga mat .. or – in Pancake’s case – my lap, dad’s shower seat or a grassy patch out in the garden.

Eat well

What you put into your body fuels and energizes you for the day. Give yourself the best foods and supplements you can afford. For Pancake this means raw meat with Felini Complete and extra water. As a obligatory carnivore the healthiest choice or him is a species appropriate raw meat diet. However, this on its own wouldn’t be healthy so I add Felini Complete which has essential nutrients which make a random bag of mixed meat from the butchers a healthy sound choice for him day in and day out. I add extra water because a cat’s kidneys can never have too much water flowing through them! What does a healthy diet for me look like? Well simple really: raw vegetables and fruit,  no processed food and as much water as I can manage .. water is good for all of us 😉

2017 was a difficult year for me and as most of you will relate, we often turn to food as a means of comfort. Interestingly we often choose rubbish food to ‘treat ourselves’. I indulged in more than my fair share of wine, coffee (full of sugar and milk) and carbs – almost in a self sabotaging manner. 2018 is about something else. Just as I am fully aware of what my cat needs to eat in order to thrive, so am I now making a conscious effort to think about what I’m putting in my body and whether it’s helping me perform at my best or pulling me down.

Stretching for days

If you haven’t seen a cat wake from a lazy nap and stretch out every limb of their body then you really are missing out on something special – this is stretching at its absolute best! Everyone seems to be into yoga these days and for good reason. But our pets do this as part of an innate ‘feel good system’ type behaviour. Full body stretching is performed multiple times per day: after waking, after sitting in the same position for awhile … you get the idea. But how often are we stretching and keeping our limbs supple? Not often enough I’d bet.

At only 33 I should still be able to run with ease, stand on one foot without toppling over and sit on my knees. But in all honesty – I can’t. My ankles have been damaged so that one wrong move on the pavement and I’m out for days, my knees are so cramped up from laying the wrong way in bed (accommodating our pets), and because I haven’t made time to balance and stretch these last couple years I am just a wound up ball of knots.

There are plenty of great Yoga and Pilates classes across the city, but for busy people who either have no time before or after work to attend group sessions then I can highly recommend YogaGlo. This is an online platform with 1000s of different classes to suit every level. And even better, there are times for everyone with the shortest session just 10 minutes, I mean who doesn’t have time for that!

Drink more water

A cat with inadequate hydration will not thrive. The body of the cat is made up of about 70% water and the natural prey that they would catch also contain approximately that same amount of water.  The cat’s ancestors came from a desert environment and relied on getting adequate amounts of water in the food they ate which means if you are feeding dry kibble then regardless of how many bowls of water you leave around the house, they will not be able to consume sufficient water to keep their kidneys in tip top shape.

A cat fed predominately dry food from a kitten will be somewhat ‘addicted’ and hard to transition to wet or raw; however, it is not impossible and simply requires time, dedication and patience. But if you are new to getting a cat, why not start them on the best possible food for them – raw! There are so many fantastic resources online now which guide you through the process. But if this still scares you then the next best option is a good quality wet food which is high in protein and low in sugars and empty calories such as carbs or vege. Cats are carnivores and they do not require vegetable or grains whatsoever.

And we too should be drinking more water. It’s recommended to have at least 2ltrs a day, but if you are extremely active or live in warm temperatures then you will need to drink more. I personally fill up a huge 2ltr bottle every morning, with either diluted green tea or just plain tap water. I leave this on the counter during the day and sip from it regularly. If I am out and about with the dogs then the bottle comes with me in the van. You’ll be surprised how much more you drink when it’s measured out like this; and your skin, hair, nails and overall energy levels will thank you for it!

 

Pancake Sprays in the House

So something interesting happened this morning. Pancake sprayed in the house for the first time in his 4 years of life.

Why do I call his behaviour interesting rather than annoying, stressful or gross? Because urine spraying in cats is directly linked to their emotional health, it is their stress calling card if you will. So Pancake spraying urine all over the kitchen cupboards right in front of my eyes was and is fascinating. He’s giving me a visual and olfactory clue as to his current state of mind. It is up to me to listen.

Cats spray during socially stressful situations, possibly to increase their self-assurance, or as a coping strategy for stress or even as a form of displacement activity. You may be confused about this statement as there is a good chance you will have seen cats outside spraying urine against bushes, fences and other objects. It is normal behaviour for a cat to spray urine under these circumstances, however, if a cat starts to spray urine indoors this indicates that it doesn’t feel secure and that something is causing it to become stressed.

What does it look like when a cat sprays urine?

Some urine marking can take place on horizontal surfaces (usually objects or items of clothing on the floor), either in a squatting posture or by standing and spraying. But the more classical presentation for urine spraying involves the cat backing up to a vertical surface, often after sniffing the area intensely and showing a flehmen response. The cat stands with its tail erect and quivering and raises its hindquarters. The cat may or may not tread with its hind paws while squirting a stream of urine (usually less than 2ml). What is a flehmen response? It is a behavior in which the cat curls back its upper lip exposing its front teeth, inhales with the nostrils usually closed and then often holds this position for several seconds.

I’ll be honest, this morning I didn’t notice Pancake’s flehmen response. It may or may not have happened as I wasn’t paying close enough attention. He got into the litter tray as normal but instead of leaning forward in his semi squat position his tail went straight up and he sprayed.

pankee

The reason behind the behaviour

So what could have caused this? The most obvious clue would be our house move. Approximately four weeks ago we moved from our three bed house with a large garden to a flat. Pancake still has access to his secure garden as I ferry him back and forth twice a day. And while I may feel his stress levels should be low considering his time spent in the garden is essentially the same, what is easy to ignore are all the other stressful factors involved in going back and forth each day.

Cats don’t deal with change well. Unlike dogs, just “being with their human” is not the be all and end all for them. Cats that are loners by nature and enjoy their own space will suffer even more, as the daily human interactions will have increased. In Pancake’s case, the stressors for him include:

  • Travelling in the van
  • Going in and out of his cat crate (associated with ‘scary’ vet trips)
  • The sight of other dogs and humans as I carry him from the van to the garden
  • A smaller environment in our flat, fewer quiet areas for him to get away

Now this final point is an interesting one. As I have seen Pancake demonstrate an increased desire to be with us in the front room of our open plan flat. There are other rooms for him to sit in – the bedroom, the bathroom and two storage cupboards of ample size. Yet he, of his own will, has chosen to sit in the living room with us, either sprawled on the floor or under the couch. I believed this to show that he was no longer stressed. I am wrong. He is still stressed as this morning’s urine spray has proven.

Pancake has been on Zylkene – a product that can help support dogs and cats in situations where they find they need to adapt their behaviour to cope. He’s also received additional attention in the form of play time and general fussing.

So what is going wrong? To be honest, I am not entirely sure yet. His overall stress levels could be stacking instead of reducing. So although on a day to day basis I may feel he’s relaxed, deep inside he may feel far from it. He, along with our dog Grizzle, live within a highly emotional home as their dad is terminally ill. And while they may not understand what’s going on, they will feel the stress and fear we’re experiencing. They will know within their beings that something is not right and try as we might to be strong every day and be happy for each other, for them .. we are human and weak. Some days we will get upset, sad or angry and these emotions will trigger stress in our pets.

pancake 1

Reflecting

I asked myself whilst walking Grizzle this morning what might be stressing me out at this moment in time. What could I be transmitting to my pets. Yesterday I received an email about a possible exchange date for the house. This would be the final date Pancake could use his garden. The final day he would have a garden. Although I will be cat proofing his balcony it will of course not be the same. He’ll never get to chase, hunt or kill a mouse again. He’ll never see a bird land in front of him and watch it fly away as he pounces upon it. He’ll never get to eat a butterfly or other insect. Does this upset me? Yes! I can’t tell you how sad I feel on his behalf yet how impossible a situation we’re in whereby a balcony is the best we will have for many years.

So on reflection I do believe that my stressful feelings overnight may have impacted his mood this morning. Did he pick up on my fear and anxiety? Yes I think so. Sobering.

What else was different about this morning? Two things come to mind:

1) I forgot to defrost his usual bag of raw meat. For about a month I have been trying (unsuccessfully I might add) to transition him to Paleo Ridge raw mince as it would make my life a lot easier. Cats are notoriously hard to change in terms of food preference and Pancake has been stubborn as anything, refusing the new mince even though it’s the same type of meat, just in a new format (minced not chunks). So after turning his nose up at that I defrosted some white fish he’s never had before. But fish is fish .. isn’t it? Not to a cat apparently! Pancake loves tuna and salmon. Why wouldn’t he like cod? For so many reasons, unbeknownst to me of course. Whatever the reason – possibly one change too far! – he refused the second plate of food and promptly went to use the toilet. Which is when he sprayed.

2) Grizzle and I were both in the kitchen, quite near to his litter box, when he went in to do his business.

See why I started the blog off by saying it was interesting behaviour?

So many cat owners experience situations like this with their cat and dismiss it as ‘naughty behaviour’, their cat is being a jerk, acting out, trying to punish them, being annoying and all those other human explanations we apply to our pets when they are not doing as we think they should.

When you pick away at WHY they may be doing what they’re doing the results can be quite surprising. And upsetting. Our pets have hugely complex emotions and will be telling us how they are feeling in subtle ways, if only more people spent the time to observe and listen to what they tell us, perhaps fewer animals would end up in rescues.

I’m somewhat preaching to myself here. I pride myself on really knowing my cat and while I feel confident I know a heck of a lot more than most cat owners I’m clearly still getting something wrong.

Making changes

Two immediate changes I made today were moving the litter tray out of the kitchen (into the dark cupboard in the hall) and giving up on the idea of transitioning him from the meat he’s always eaten to something else. I’m hoping that having his tray in a quiet dark cupboard will alleviate any stress he may have felt by having to go toilet in front of everyone. This is really obvious and I’m pretty disappointed in myself for ever putting it in the kitchen. Sure it’s not ‘busy’ in the true sense, but I chose it for MY convenience (easier to vacuum a hard wood floor than carpets), instead of it really being the best location for my cat. And not putting him under pressure to come to like a new food type, whilst dealing with all the other changes, is just kindness. Cats love routine and consistency, it’s what makes them feel safe and secure. So why did I think it would be a good time to change up what he’s eaten for the last four and a half years I’m not really sure … another selfish move on my part. Mince meat in packs is less messy than raw meat in bags I have to chop up.

The next couple of weeks and months will bring new changes and increased stress for both the pets, and I’m hoping that with more quiet contemplation I’ll get more things right than wrong. I hope you will join us on our journey and as always if you have anything to contribute pop a comment below. And if you feel the topic resonates with you or anyone you know then please do share on social media.

Till next time …

pankee mary