Long haired cats are difficult to groom and quickly learn the success of using their claws to avoid such an encounter. Frequent gentle grooming while they are still kittens accustoms them to the practice. Owners must try and make grooming a positive and rewarding experience rather than a battle. Choose a treat which the cat find hard to resist (shrimp are usually a good bet) and put a tiny bit on your finger and feed the cat. As it concentrates on the food and licking your finger, groom it a little with your other hand. Put on some more shrimp and groom a little more. If there are mats, either cut them out or, if they are not too tightly matted, work from the top of the hair downwards very gently. Don’t pull, as you want this experience to be pleasant. Go very slowly and be patient. Keep going while the cat still has an interest in the food and stop if you get a negative reaction. Leave it for a while and try again when all is calm. Associate grooming with food, warmth, praise and attention. If your cat has too many mats, you may need to take it to the vet so they can anesthetize her and shave her mats off. Back at home, try the grooming while the hair is short to get her used to it.
Cats groom themselves not only to keep them clean and waterproof, but also when disturbed or upset and may lick away the hair and even damage the skin. This self-directed behavior is believed to produce an incnreased state of relaxation. With some cases, the behavior continues at times even when the cat is apparently not anxious but prefers the relaxed state to being bored. With others, the behavior is sporadic and occurs more in response to occasional forms of stress, such as being isolated from the owner or other house cats. When the behavior is almost continuous, the cat may be unable to cope with stresses of its lifestyle, or there may be a general pressure in its environment or social group with which it cannot deal. Finding the source of the stress is obviously vital to treatment.
**Cat furniture in the form of cat litterbox covers is elegant and keeps the litter box out of sight.
Cats do lose their appetites after an accident or injury and it is important to get them eating again so that the body’s system is restrengthening itself rather than breaking down tissue to keep its vital functions going. Heating food to body temperature will release aromas and may encourage the cat to investigate the source. Small pieces of cooked liver, which has a strong smell, may well get the cat interested in food again. Even baby food can come in useful after a cat has had an operation as the patient can lap it up without difficulty and the flavor may be appetizing. Tender loving care is vital to nursing such a cat; keep encouraging and talking to him as you offer food. Make sure new food replaces any that is rejected – cats are very sensitive to the smell of rancid food and will be put off immediately. If a cat does not eat for several days in a row, it can get liver failure.
Some cats like milk. The enzyme in the stomach that breaks down milk sugar is not produced after weaning. While many cats have no problem in drinking milk during adulthood, in others it actually causes upset, as undigested milk passes into the large intestine and ferments, producing gas and diarrhea. Many veterinarian surgeons recommend that cats not have milk. If they are on a balanced diet there is no needcfor extra calcium, and water is a perfectly satisfactory fluid for them to drink. If you do have a cat who loves their milk, pay attention to the litter box to see if there are problems that exist.
**A cat flap pet door allows the convenience of your cat going outside at their will. The pet door can also be installed in your bathroom door, allowing for the bathroom door to be closed and your kitty can pass into the litter room with no problem.
Feeding time is one of those moments when your cat will be most responsive to you. It can be used as an opportunity for learning as well as simply providing dinner, and it is an ideal time for strengthening the bond between you. Behaviorists advise that when you take on a new cat or kitten you feed little and often, each time calling the cdat and letting it encourage youto hand over the food. Later you can feed the cat less frequently or leave the food bowl for it to eat ad lib.
You may notice your cat’s eyes dilate with excitement and anticipation as you fill its dish. It may meow or purr and wind its tail around your legs and rub against you as it did as a kitten trying to encourage its mother to hand over her catch.
A cat that seems to have lost its appetite should be investigated. There can be many reasons, from illness to bad teeth, for this lack of enthusiasm for food. Watch its behavior carefully; if it shows enthusiasm as you fill the bowl but stops eating after a few mouthfuls, it may be that its teeth or gums are diseased and eating is just not worth the pain it causes. Veterinary surgeons can do a great deal now for tooth problems, so a visit to the vet is called for. They may also offer advice on diet, in order both to improve general health and maintain the health of the teeth. Like people, finicky cats are often created rather than born. We make the mistake of pandering to their desire for certain foods instead of trying to feed a balanced diet, and it is often difficult to encourage a cat addicted tol, say, fish to eat anything else. When changing the cat’s diet to am new type or when trying to wean him off a certain flavor, try mixing in a little of the new food with the old and gradually increasing the proportion of the new content. This allows the cat to get used to the new taste and its body to become accustomed to the new food with less of a surprise to the system. A cat will usually eat what is offered after three days, so persist in at least for this long if you are trying to switch your cat on to a more healthy diet.
**A cat condo keeps your cat happy and offers hours of play and lounging.
Plants Most cats eat more plant material than we realize, probably in an effort to obtain a quickly digestible source of vitamins, minerals and roughage. Some regurgitate grass with or without a portion of their dinner, and this is believed to be a natural method of self-worming or of helping the ejection of hairballs. In general, cats are very fastidious about what they eat. Most are at liberty in gardens and houses and do not eat any poisonous plants. However, cats kept indoors permanently, and inquisitive kittens, may sample house plants out of a need for vegetation or just out of boredom or curiosity. Indoor cats should be provided with a tub of seedling grass sprouts to munch on, to discourage the consumption of house plants. These tubs of grass are available from pet shops and, being more attractive to cats than most house plants, are readily consumed in preference. If you do have an indoor or partially confined cat which seems fond of chewing plants, check carefully that there are not poisonous plants in the house or cat run – the Feline Advisory Bureau has a list of poisonous plants which you can send for.
Other Bizarre Diets The chewing of electric cables is obviously potentially fatal to the cat and dangerous to property, and is even less well understood. Obviously the habit must be stopped at almost any cost. Encouraging play indoors with a range of toys, perhaps laced with catnip, or letting the cat spend more time outdoors may help divert its attentions. Make cables as inaccessible as possible and other wires as unappetizing as possible using eucalyptus oil – and unplug them from the mains when not in use.
**A Bungalow cat furniture tree condo could help curve bizarre appetites by providing hours of playtime and lounging. Place it so that it blocks any outlets.
Wool Eating, continued
One theory as to the origins of fabric eating has it that, like wool sucking, the behavior is linked to a continuing infantile disposition in what are traditionally sensitive breeds which are well nurtured and cosseted by their owners.
The best chance for curing the problem seems to lie with dietary management. Most fabric eaters have a perfectly normal, healthy intake of their proper food and their appetite is usually unaffected by having a stomach full of nylon sweaters or woolen scarfs. By providing a constantly available source of dry cat food in addition to offering the usual diet, the desire to eat fabric can be redirected towards more nutritional targets, and apparently without risk of weight gain. Most cats simply snack all day on the dry food and cut down voluntarily on the intake at usual mealtimes. Sometimes it helps to cease mealtimes altogether and instead simply leave a never-ending supply of dry food for the cat.
**An automatic pet feeder is an option for those who don’t want to leave food down for food grazing.
Cats are obligate carnivores – they must eat meat and are not usually interested in much else. A few do indulge in the occasional piece of cake, cheese or even chocolate, but others enjoy a rather more bizarre side-dish to their main course.
Wool Eaters Why some cats should want or need to eat wool, and indeed other fabrics, is not understood. the fact that they do is beyond doubt as many owners of clothes, carpets and furniture covers with holes in them can testify. Some fabric eaters do stick to consuming wool, and where this is the case perhaps the smell or texture of wool acts as the initial trigger to the behavior. But the majority broaden their appetite and will consume all fabrics, from wool to cotton and synthetics. Items of clothing, preferably worn, bed linen and towels are especially popular.
When eating any fabric, the cat appears to be totally engrossed in its activities, and sometimes in a trance-like state. Intervention by hissing or yelling or even throwing water at the cat may cause it to stop, but often it will simply go straight back to the item or look for another one in a quieter place. The cat will often take in the wool with its canine and incisor teeth, but having obtained a good mouthful, will start to grind it up using its shearing molars at the back of the mouth. The volume of fabric consumed by some cats is truly remarkable, the more so when one considers that it usually passes through the cat unaltered without causing nay harm. Some do unfortunately suffer blockag3es in the stomach or further down the digestive system and, sadly, for a few euthanasia must be carried out because of the resulting damage. Others manage to live long healthy lives, eating wool or other fabric every day without any repercussions.
**Airline approved cat carriers are required when traveling by airlines.
Some cats can be extremely irritating in their demands and seem to change their minds or want one thing after another, one minute asking to be let out and the next demanding to be let in again. While it may simply be that the cat hasn’t learned to enjoy outdoor life, usually such behavior occurs because the cat discovers that by calling out its owner, the owner will quickly appear and offer the comfort of his or her physical presence or better, will provide actual contact and petting. From the cat’s point of view, having its owner around is better than being alone and either resolves the conflict of whether or not to go out or offers instant reassurance if it feels worried. Night time is when a cat is likely to feel most vulnerable, but once you have been trained to get up at the sound of its calls, there is no further need for it to worry! If you are understandably unwilling to endure the noise, it is vital that the cat’s calling no longer meets with success in order for you to ‘untrain’ it. Endure it if you can (have a stiff nightcap before retiring and with any luck you may even sleep through it). Alternatively you could let the cat sleep in the bedroom with you, of course, but then it will probably demand that you stay awake all night or at least get up early to serve its breakfast.
Some vets do not recommend this, but we give our cats a little less than 1 cup of Blue Buffalo Indoor cat food every day. They graze when they need to, and the breakfast issue is resolved because there is some left over for breakfast. There is usually some left when it is time to refill their bowls.
**A telescoping pet ramp may be necessary for your handicapped kitty to be able to get from the floor to the couch or the top of the couch, or even the windowsill. A regular pet ramp would do, but if you want something that alters from one size to another, the telescoping pet ramp is the way to go.
Owners often get very worried when their female kitten starts to make loud distressed sounding noises and to behave in a restless manner, eating less and urinating more. She may crouch in front of other cats with her tail pulled over to one side and with her rear end raised up, at the same time treading with her front paws and ‘crooning’. Facially, she may look angry or fearful, with ears back and pupils dilated. She will also lick the area under her tail frequently. These loud monotone vocal sounds are termed ‘calling’ and are a sign that the cat has reached sexual maturity and is trying to attract local toms to mate with her. It can happen from as early as three months of age or as late as up to eighteen months, and so may cat some owners off guard who do intend to spay their kitten but have not yet got around to it.
Although veterinarians prefer to spay a female before or after their season, they will spay during the time your cat is in heat. This may be your best option if she is calling quite frequently. Oriental breeds are the worst offenders for calling.
**Cats love cat scratchers, or sisal cat scratch. It allows them to sharpen their claws and it removes the dead sheaths.
Remember, too, another and equally important safety matter: small furry cat toys and cat furniture that may topple over (the scratching post, for example) can be very dangerous to the udordinated crawler, so it would be wise to keep them out of the way while the baby is down on the floor. Cat toys could be a delight to a little crawler as they put everything into their mouths. They may get a taste of catnip, which should be harmless. But kitty may not like the slobber left behind on his favorite play toy!
As the baby grows up and starts to toddle, his behavior becomes more coordinated and predictable for the cat, which may then respond to the child much more as if he were an adult. Also many ofo the ground level dangers such as the litter pan, lose interest as the child finds objects on the higher plane of head-height to investigate. The cat may need to find even higher escape zones, but by the time the child can reach the cat on the window sill he should be well versed in the dos and don’ts of reacting with the cat and be more responsive to mom’s instructions if the cat looks threatened. At this stage, the child could even help mom with feeding time by placing the cat’s food bowl on the ground. This child may become the next generation of cat lovers!
**A scat mat will keep your cat away from and off of anything you want.
So don’t panic; let the cat get used to the new arrival – most cope very well. Often cats are indifferent to a young baby after the initial curiosity value has worn off. Problems are far more likely to crop up when the baby starts to crawl. Suddenly all the cat’s traditional bolt-holes under the sideboard or on the chair under the dining table, and its resting place in the sun by the hall window, are subject to periodic gurgling invasions. Many will learn to retreat to higher and therefore safer spots, perhaps on the window sill or atop a cabinet, but it is more important to make sure that the cat has somewhere to use as a childproof refuge in every room, and especially that there is a warm, covered bed well out of reach of the rapidly developing grasp of the young child. At this stage in the child’s development it is essential that parents guide the child’s hand and encourage him or her to touch the cat and stroke it gently. Short frequent socialization will start to teach the crawling child the methods of communication he or she can use confidently with the cat and will also make the cat aware of the child’s right to approach under supervision and with increasing competence at doing so.
Hygiene is always important and particularly at this age, crawling babies with inquiring fingers may discover the delights of the cat’s litter box. It may be worth installing a cat-flap door into the bathroom or utility room where the litter box is kept. This way the door can remain closed and the cat can still access the litter box with no possible access by the little one. Remember to keep the cat regularly wormed and the baby’s hands frequently washed.
**A Petsafe In Ground Fence allows your cat go go outside, but remain only in the confines of your yard. Kitty can’t get lost!