Category Archives: cats

Feline Health Concerns

By Suzanne Alicie

Cats seem to be pretty easy pets to care for; all they really ask for are food, water and a clean litter box. But felines in general have many health concerns that responsible pet owners should be aware of and discuss with their veterinarian.

Hairballs – Because cats groom themselves they are always swallowing loose hair. Occasionally this hair forms into a ball and lodges in the cat’s stomach; your cat may do a great deal of coughing and hacking to dislodge the hairball, eventually coughing it up and out. If your cat is unable to expel a hairball then it is time to take action. There are over the counter medications that you can use to help the cat pass the hairball one way or the other, or you can visit your vet and he will administer a treatment after examining the cat to make sure there are no other problems.

Worms – Roundworms, tapeworms, hook worms and even heartworms can affect your cat. If left untreated, worms can be fatal to your feline friend. You can take your cat to the vet to be checked for worms and choose the best treatment for the specific type of worms.

Urinary Tract Infections – Bladder problems are common in both sexes of cats; however male cats risk a life threatening blockage due to urinary and bladder infections. A veterinarian should examine any cat you believe has a UTI or any problems with urination.

Fleas – Flea infestations cause anemia and have been known to kill kittens. Many times you can deal with fleas at home with flea dips and treatments to prevent infestation, but in the case of kittens younger than 6 months you should contact your vet before using any topical treatments. Linda Cole has written two helpful articles on how to fight fleas: Natural Flea Control for Dogs and Cats, and Winter is the Best Time to Fight Fleas.

Cat Flu – This viral infection that affect the upper respiratory tract can make your cat very sick, and can even kill young kittens and older cats. Pus leaking from the eyes, sneezing and thick discharge from the nose, fever or loss of appetite are all symptoms of cat flu. A veterinarian should be consulted immediately if your cat is displaying any of these symptoms.

FIV – Also known as feline AIDS, this disease lowers the cat’s immunity to common infections. A cat that suffers a long list of illnesses is commonly found to have FIV. While there is no vaccine for FIV, all cats should be tested so that preventive steps can be taken.

Feline Leukemia Virus – Thanks to a recent vaccine, FLV is no longer the most common fatal disease in cats. Cats that contract FLV rarely have a long life expectancy, and all cats should be immunized while young before they are in contact with any other cat that may have FLV.

Abscessed Wounds – The skin on a cat is tough and does not tear easily. This means that when a cat gets a scratch or bite the skin heals over quickly, often trapping bacteria underneath. These bacteria can cause your cat to become very ill as the infection spreads. An abscess can rupture on its own releasing thick yellow pus. If you clean this with warm salt water or peroxide the abscess will usually heal with no further problems. If an abscess does not rupture you should take your cat to the vet so that he can drain it and resolve the infection with antibiotics.

By keeping a close eye on your cat and his behavior, you can many times head off any health concerns before they become a problem.

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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How to Bathe a Cat, and Live to Tell About It!

By Julia Williams

Do cats even need baths? Yes and no. For the most part, cats are remarkably self cleaning. However, there are times when you might want to give your cat a bath. Cats that are allowed outside can get things like motor oil and grease on them, and should be bathed immediately so they don’t ingest these toxic substances.

Bathing a cat can help with flea infestations, provided you use other flea control methods too. Some cats are highly sensitive to flea bites, and a single flea can cause extreme itching, scratching and skin irritations. One of mine is, and to combat this I bathe him with an herbal flea shampoo with oatmeal and aloe, which does help.

Most cats loathe getting wet, which makes giving them a bath somewhat problematic. They can turn into screeching beasts that bite and claw wildly in a frantic attempt to get out of the water. If possible, have someone help you. When bathing a cat, four hands are better than two if you want kitty to stay put until you’re done instead of dashing for the bedroom closet.

Although I’ve seen videos of cats who sit calmly and unrestrained while getting a bath, most felines are quite the opposite. For those cats, here’s how to make this experience less traumatic for both of you.

Gather Your Supplies

Prior to bathing your cat, you’ll want to obtain:

● Cat shampoo (human shampoo and soap are too harsh for a cat’s skin).
● Ophthalmic ointment, to keep the shampoo from irritating their eyes.
● Rubber anti-slip mat, to keep your cat from sliding around in the sink.
● Grooming comb or brush; cotton balls
● Large unbreakable cup for scooping water
● Soft towel and (optional) blow drier

Before the Bath

Groom your cat to remove any mats and loose fur, and be sure to brush out the thick undercoat of long-haired cats. This is also a good time to check for any lumps, sores or other skin problems. The most crucial pre-bath procedure, however, is clipping your cat’s nails. I don’t recommend ever skipping this step, because there’s a very good chance your skin will be shredded by sharp claws if you do.

Next, assemble the supplies next to your chosen bathing area. I use my kitchen sink because it’s large and at a good height. Make sure the air temperature is comfortably warm and that your cat will also have a warm place to dry after the bath.

Just prior to the bath, place cotton balls in your cat’s ears and apply the eye ointment. Mix a small amount of the cat shampoo in some warm water; this will help you lather up your cat, and isn’t as shocking as cold shampoo.

During the Bath

Fill the sink with lukewarm water – three or four inches should suffice. Hold your cat firmly with both hands and gently lower them into the water. It may help to speak soothing words to your cat, who probably won’t appreciate being put into the water and may try to kick, bite and scratch her way out of the sink. If this happens, try to stay as calm as possible, because your cat will pick up on your anxiety, which will only make the situation worse.

Using the large cup, pour lukewarm water over your cat from the neck down. Cats generally dislike sprays, so I don’t recommend using the sink’s sprayer attachment to wet them down. Next, pour the diluted shampoo over them and gently lather up their back, neck, legs, tail and belly. If needed, a dab of shampoo on a wet washcloth can be used to gently clean their face. Rinse the cloth well and use it to remove soap residue. Be careful not to get shampoo in their eyes, nose, mouth or ears, and never pour water over your cat’s head.

Rinsing thoroughly to remove all traces of soap residue is a vital step in giving a cat a bath. I usually drain the sink and pour lukewarm water over my cat using my large cup, at least five or six times. The longer the hair, the more you will need to rinse.

After the Bath

Wrap your cat in a dry towel and blot their fur. You might want to warm the towel in the dryer first, to make it more soothing. Short-haired cats can get by with a good towel drying, provided they have a nice warm spot to retreat to until fully dry. Long-haired cats should really be completely dried and brushed before being let loose. A low-noise blowdrier with a low-heat setting is useful for finishing the drying process, although many cats find it too frightening.

Because you probably won’t need to give your cat a bath very often, they may never get used to it, and likely won’t enjoy it. But if you follow these suggestions for how to bathe a cat, both of you should be able to survive the experience relatively unscathed!

Photo courtesy of Gayle Lindgren

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Are “Dog People” and “Cat People” Really Different?

By Linda Cole

We are attracted to certain types of pets just as we are to specific types of people. All animals are worthy of our compassion, and choosing either a dog or cat to share our home with is a reflection on our personality.

There’s something mystical about a cat. They cuddle with us on their terms. Most will come when called, but only if they think there’s something in it for them. I’m pretty sure mine enjoy seeing their frantic owner comb every known hiding spot in the house looking for them as they watch from a newly discovered spot. I love a cat’s independence and how the intensity in her body grows as she watches a squirrel or bird perch on a tree branch in front of the window separating them.

Dog people and cat people do have good reasons why they prefer one over the other. But as much as I love cats, dogs also have a special place in my heart. I love how a dog greets you no matter how long you’ve been gone. Cats miss us too, but they are often too proud to let us know. A dog wants to be with us all the time and they always have a smile in their eyes. I don’t think of myself as a dog or cat person, just an animal person.

According to a study that was done in 2008 by the American Veterinary Medical Association, “cat people” are more likely to be single with multiple cats; “dog people” are typically married with kids and have just one dog in the home. But with so many variables in the equation, this generalization seems rather pointless.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recently conducted an online survey to find out if there really is a difference between cat people and dog people. Their study is called the Gosling-Potter Internet Personality Project, and they asked participants questions to measure five different personality traits. Around 4,500 people answered questions that measured openness, agreeableness, neuroticism, conscientiousness and extraversion (this spelling is correct and is the same as extrovert). The researchers used these five personality traits in earlier studies to measure responses, and believe most people fall into one of the categories.

What they found was that people who consider themselves to be dog people tend to be more outgoing and social. Cat people, according to their study, are more neurotic yet open. The openness in this case means creative, philosophical, curious, imaginative, or more in touch with their own feelings.

The University of Texas at Austin study has not been published yet, so I’ll reserve judgment until it’s available to the public to read. The small bit of general information that has already been released has created controversy and defensive reactions from pet owners. Neurotic, after all, is a pretty strong word to label cat people with. The information that’s been released is more of a generalization of the five personality types. The study was only for differences between dog people and cat people based on how they viewed themselves. Some considered themselves to be dog people but they own cats, or cat people with dogs. Some of the respondents didn’t even own a pet.

What’s useful about the Texas study is when matching up a therapy animal with a patient, understanding a person’s preference can make a difference by using an animal the person relates to best. But do we really want to stereotype someone based on their choice in pets? And where do households with both dogs and cats fit into the study?

The study also found that some people may prefer dogs, but have cats because that’s the pet that fits best into their lifestyle or work schedule at the moment. Cat people may have a certain breed of dog because that’s the pet that works best for someone in the home with allergies.

Studies are useful in providing an insight into how people see themselves. However, I’m not convinced that placing a label on a person from a generalized statement is convincing as far as determining a difference between dog people and cat people. The way I see it, we are pet parents who are enriched with the love we give and receive from our pets. A preference does play a role in our choice, but regardless of whether we have cats or dogs, labels mean nothing to them and they accept us for who we are. And so should we.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Must-See Classic Movies for Cat Lovers

By Julia Williams

Although I can recall dozens of good movies about dogs off the top of my head, it’s not nearly so easy when it comes to good movies for cat lovers. The number of “felines in film” is quite limited, most likely due to a cat’s independent nature and their dislike of performing on command. Generally, felines don’t seek to please their master because they consider themselves to be the master, i.e., “top cat.” Cats certainly can be trained to do things, but not without a great deal of patience and time (cat treats help too). Dogs are far easier to train, and easier for directors, actors and film crews to work with. Nevertheless, here are a few classic cat movies that I think are worth watching.

That Darn Cat (1965)

This family-friendly cat movie from Walt Disney Productions features a wily Siamese cat named D.C. (Darn Cat) who inadvertently becomes an undercover cop for the FBI. It is laugh-out-loud funny, and good clean fun for all ages.

Synopsis: Robbers holding a bank employee hostage let D.C. into their hideout. Left alone with the cat, the hostage scratches “help” into a watch wristband and places it around his neck. D.C. returns home, whereupon the FBI decides to track the cat’s every move, in the hopes that he might lead them back to the crook’s hideout and help them crack the case.

Dean Jones stars as the good-hearted (but highly allergic to cats) FBI agent assigned to the case, and Hayley Mills plays D.C.’s doting owner and wannabe sleuth. After much sneezing, slapstick comedy and funny feline antics, the robbers are caught, the hostage is rescued, and all ends well. The feline star of That Darn Cat got rave reviews for his performance. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, “The feline that plays the informant, as the F.B.I. puts it, is superb. Clark Gable at the peak of his performing never played a tom cat more winningly.”

There was a 1997 remake of this Disney classic, also titled That Darn Cat, starring Cristina Ricci and Doug E. Doug, with a cameo appearance by Dean Jones.

Rhubarb (1951)

This baseball comedy is an okay film that’s amusing and pleasant enough to watch. But what makes it a good movie for cat lovers in my opinion, is its outstanding feline star. Orangey was, as you might expect, an orange tabby cat. He was also a fine “actor,” garnering his first of two Patsy Awards, (Picture Animal Top Star of the Year, the animal equivalent of the Oscar).

Synopsis: an eccentric millionaire dies and leaves his fortune – and his pro baseball team – to his feisty cat. This sets in motion a comedic plot involving baseball, romance, court battles with disgruntled relatives who aim to prove that the cat is mentally unfit to control the old man’s money, and crooked gamblers who become “catnappers.”

Orangey, sometimes billed as Rhubarb the Cat and later named Minerva, was trained by the famous animal handler Frank Inn. Orangey won his second Patsy Award ten years after his breakout role in Rhubarb, for his portrayal of “Cat” in the classic 1961 Audrey Hepburn film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Harry and T0nto (1974)

Art Carney won both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of Harry in this great movie. Harry and Tonto was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture.

Synopsis: Harry, a retired teacher and widower in his 70s, lives in New York City with his best friend, an orange tabby cat named Tonto. When the building is condemned, Harry and Tonto begin an adventuresome journey across the United States. They visit his children, make new friends, and meet all sorts of bizarre characters from all walks of life.

Harry and Tonto is a wonderful film that children and adults, cat lovers, and fans of thoughtful, heartfelt movies will all enjoy. Incidentally, the other Oscar nominees for Best Actor that year included Jack Nicholson (Chinatown), Al Pacino (Godfather Part II), and Dustin Hoffman (Lenny). Many people, including Art Carney himself, were astonished that he won.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

How to Read the Body Language of Cats

By Julia Williams

We’ve discussed the body language of dogs many times on this blog, and it’s a popular topic on other websites and in print. Responsible dog owners know how important it is to learn to “read” the various signals of their canine companion, and to act accordingly. Not much is said about the body language of cats, but understanding a feline’s nonverbal communication is equally important – especially if you don’t want to be bitten or scratched. A cat’s body language can also tell you things about their health and how they feel.

I’ve heard people say that their cat “just attacked them without warning.” While this may be true in some cases, I’m convinced that most of the time the cat gave ample warning it wanted to be left alone. However, if you aren’t familiar with the body language of cats, you can easily misread their nonverbal signals, which might make it seem like your normally friendly cat suddenly went psycho on you.

Although a cat may hiss and growl when it wants you to stop petting them and leave them alone, they may also use tail twitching. This can be confusing to those who think a cat’s swishing tail is similar to the wagging tail of a happy dog. It is the exact opposite; moreover, you can use the speed of the twitching tail to gauge just how ticked off the cat is with your behavior. If they are only mildly annoyed, their tail will swish slowly back and forth, like a pendulum. As they get more irritated with you, the speed and ferocity of their tail movement increases until it is eventually thrashing like an out-of-control whip. If it has progressed to this “whip” stage, a wise human will immediately leave the cat alone, because a bite or scratch is imminent.

To further complicate matters, a cat will sometimes use slow tail twitching to signal that they’re feeling playful. Thus, it can be difficult for even the most astute cat whisperer to distinguish between the annoyed slow twitch and the playful slow twitch. One difference worth noting is that the “I’m ready to play” tail twitch typically occurs when the cat is not in contact with you, such as when they are lying on their side or sitting on the floor, away from you.

Cats also use their tail to communicate other emotions. When a cat’s tail is standing straight up, it means they are happy to see you, they feel safe, and all is well in their world. When their tail is upright and quivering, they are ecstatic. A puffed up tail that resembles a bottle brush indicates a fearful, defensive and emotionally charged cat. It’s usually accompanied by an arched back and fur that’s standing up – the message here is “I want to appear much bigger than I actually am.” Cats will also assume this posture when preparing to “play fight” with another cat. They will face each other and “puff up” before one launches himself sideways onto the other, signaling the start of their roughhousing.

Cats show possessiveness with flattened ears, laid-back whiskers, a lowered tail and slightly crouched body position. You’ll see this posture when your cat or kitten has a toy (especially one with feathers or fur, which resembles prey) and you try to take it away from them. Cats display interest in something by tilting their ears forward to hear better, directing their whiskers forward, and widening their eyes.

Staring directly at a cat is interpreted as aggression. And if they stare straight at you or another cat, this is meant as a challenge. A cat who exhibits a “bug eyed” look is frightened. Cats also communicate with their eyes by blinking, which is said to be a form of greeting and an indication that they like you. There is a “blinking experiment” you can try with your cat, wherein you sit with them when they are relaxed and then slowly open and close your eyes. Many times, the cat will do it along with you. When I heard about this my initial reaction was “Yeah, right.” But I tried it with my cats and was surprised to learn that they actually will blink back at me. Of course, felines being the independent creatures they are, they don’t do it all of the time.

A confident and content cat will hold their head high and assume an upright posture. A cat who lowers her head and turns it sideways to avoid eye contact indicates lack of interest or passiveness. When a cat feels relaxed in her surroundings, she will lie on her side or back and show you her belly. Unless the cat trusts you completely, they won’t assume this posture in your presence.

Learning how to read the body language of your cat can tell you a great deal about how they are feeling. Their tail, ears, eyes, whiskers and legs are all trying to communicate with you – don’t you want to know what they are saying?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

Indoor Games to Play with Pets on a Cold Winter Day

By Julia Williams

If you live in a frigid winter climate like I do now, you’re probably getting pretty tired of the cold and the snow. I know I am. I started dreaming of warm spring days in early November, and I think my cats did too. We’re used to mild California winters, where spending time outdoors in December is a pleasant experience. Not so these Montana winters!

So how do we keep our pets entertained when being outdoors seems more foolhardy than fun? Play games indoors! There are lots of indoor games you can play with your dog or cat that can help them burn off some energy and keep them stimulated. In addition to alleviating boredom, playing games with your pet can deepen your bond.

Indoor Games to Play With Dogs

Hide And Seek: Yes, the classic game that all children love is a blast for dogs too. Sneak away from your dog and go find a good hiding spot in your home. Once hidden, call your dog and stay there until they “discover” you (and perhaps get a tasty dog treat as their reward).

Find The Treat: This game entails hiding a biscuit or other treat somewhere in your home, and then asking your dog to find it. You’ll need to show your dog how this game works the first few times, but soon they’ll be sniffing out the treat on their own.

Dog Sports: Soccer balls and basketballs are ideal for some sporty fun indoors with your four-legged friend. Roll the ball, and encourage your dog to push it along with their nose or paws. Most dogs quickly comprehend that the object of the game is to roll the ball to you.

Indoor Agility: If you have a big basement or a large playroom, you can set up a mini agility course for your dog. Who knows, you might both enjoy this so much that, come spring, you decide to take up this wonderful outdoor dog sport!

Bubble Chase: You’ll need a lot of space for this great energy-burning game as well. However, leaping and pouncing at bacon-scented bubbles is something that every dog enjoys.

Teach A Trick: Cold winter days are the perfect time to teach your dog a new trick or two – indoors where it’s cozy and warm, of course. Although not exactly a “game,” teaching your dog tricks is a lot of fun and very rewarding.

Indoor Games to Play With Cats

Kitty Whack-a-Mouse: A youtube video inspired me to make one of these fun games for my cats. It’s basically a feline version of the classic Whack-a-Mole found at every carnival. You remember that game, right? To make one for your cats, take an extra large box and cut some holes in the bottom panel, big enough for you to fit your hand through. Put the box on its side and call your cat over to it. Stick a furry mouse cat toy through one of the holes, wiggling it to entice them to grab it. (Wear a thick glove or an oven mitt to protect your hand). Try to pull it back before your cat can get the toy, and immediately stick it out another hole. This game will entertain you, your cat and anyone watching.

Interactive Toys: you can buy a wide variety of cat toys designed for you and your kitty to play together. At the dollar store, I found a furry mouse on a string that was attached to a long wand. I bought a dozen because I was sure that the game of “chase the mouse” would go over well at my house, and it did. Another feline favorite is the “fishing pole” with feathers or a soft toy on the end.

Stairway Ball Toss: I play this energy-burning game with my friend’s kitten who loves to chase things. I throw a small cat toy ball up the stairs and she runs up after it. When she bats at the ball it rolls down the stairs, and she chases it all the way to the bottom.

With a little imagination, there’s virtually no end to the indoor games you can invent to play with your pets. I hope these suggestions inspire you, and help you to entertain your pets during the dead of winter.

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.