Category Archives: Julia Williams

How Do You Know if Your Vet is a Keeper?

By Julia Williams

Of all the things we can do to help our pets live long and happy lives, finding a great veterinarian is definitely near the top of the list. Because we rely on their expertise for basic pet care as well as emergencies, it’s vital to find a vet that both you and your pet are comfortable with, and one that you’re confident will help you make the best decisions for your pet. It can be a challenge, though – just as it can be to find the right doctor for your own healthcare needs. There are many factors that determine whether your pet’s vet is a keeper. Here are some:

Bedside Manner

The way your vet interacts and communicates with you is an important aspect of the relationship. Visits to the vet are often stressful because we are worried about our pet’s health. A good vet will be compassionate and will try to make you feel at ease. They also need to have excellent communication skills, and be able to clearly explain treatment options, test results, medications, at-home procedures and other things relating to your pet’s care. Your vet should also have a good bedside manner with your pet; you should feel as though they really care about your pet.

Willing to Explain

A vet who rushes through the exam as though their primary concern is adhering to a predetermined time limit for the visit, regardless of what might ail your pet, is definitely NOT a keeper. You may be ushered out before you feel your concerns were really heard or before you have a thorough understanding of your pet’s health or care. If any veterinarian makes you feel that way, walk out and never go back.

A good vet takes the time to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision about different treatment options. They explain what the risks or side effects are, what a particular procedure entails and what they feel is the best course of action for your situation.

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Why Cats Bite and How to Prevent the Behavior

By Julia Williams

My girl kitty Annabelle is the sweetest cat I’ve ever known. Normally, she can’t get enough of my lovin’, but if I try to pet her immediately upon waking, she will nip me. Not break-the-skin bites, but a clear signal for me to stop. I don’t know why she hates being touched only at that time, but I joke that “she’s just not a morning cat.” If people can be anti-morning, why not cats? Thankfully, it’s the only time she bites, and as long as I resist the urge to pet her upon awakening, it’s not a problem.

Others aren’t so lucky. According to feline behaviorists, biting is the second most common problem for cat owners (peeing outside the box is the first). This issue needs to be corrected, because cat bites are not only painful when they occur but they can cause serious infections. I’ll discuss three of the most common reasons why cats bite, and what you can do to reduce or eliminate this problem behavior.

Petting Induced Aggression

Scenario: You’re sitting there petting your cat who is purring away and seemingly enjoying the attention when all of a sudden she whirls and sinks her teeth into your hand. What just happened?

First of all, let’s be clear. In most cases, your cat’s transformation from friendly Dr. Jekyll to psychotic Mr. Hyde was not instantaneous. Your cat’s body language was telling you it was time to stop petting; you just missed the signals or misinterpreted them.

These signals include tail lashing or thumping, ears flattened or twitching, shifting body positions, eyes focused on your hand. She stops purring and may even meow or growl.  If you don’t heed your cat’s warning(s) that she’s had enough, she goes to Plan B – the bite – and voila, petting stops.

Some reasons your cat wants the petting session to end:

1. Overstimulation – for some cats, there’s a fine line between what feels good and what doesn’t. They can only handle so much stimulation before sensory overload occurs.

2. Not in the mood – sometimes what your cat wanted was to play, not to be petted. They may tolerate your petting for a little while because they love you, but then they just want it to stop.

3. Sensitivity – some areas of a cat’s body may be more sensitive than others, and being touched there is uncomfortable. Individual cats may also have specific areas of the body where they like being petted and others where they don’t. It’s up to you to figure out which is which, by paying attention to their body language.

Learning the sometimes subtle “stop it” cues your cat gives before they have to resort to biting you, will enable you both to enjoy the petting session and have it end on a positive note.

Play Aggression

Many people unwittingly encourage their cat to develop a habit of biting them during play, by engaging in roughhousing and offering their hands, fingers and toes as “toys.” Sure, it seems really cute and innocent when they’re a tiny kitten, but this type of play has Cat Bite written all over it. Your cat isn’t able to discern how rough is too rough. If you want your cat to stop biting you while playing, never use your body parts as toys. That means no tickling them, no moving your finger for them to chase, no tapping your toes as an invitation to pounce. And pass up products like gloves with balls on the end that encourages your cat to see your hand as a toy – they simply can’t understand that it’s only OK to attack when the gloves are on. Be sure that every family member follows this strict rule, or biting during play will continue, and one day it may go too far.

Cats are natural born hunters, and need to engage in “stalk and pounce” play for mental satisfaction. If your kitty likes to lie in wait and bite your ankles when you walk by, try carrying a small catnip mouse, fuzzy ball or other cat toy that you can toss away from you to redirect their attention. It’s also a good idea to provide plenty of interactive playtime with the appropriate toys (remember – no fingers!).

Redirected Aggression

Sometimes an agitated cat will lash out at a person or another cat in the household that had nothing to do with the reason the cat got upset. This is called redirected aggression. It can occur when your inside cat sees a cat outside – trespassing on “his” territory. It can also occur when you take one cat to the vet and he comes home smelling like “that place.” There are many other reasons that can cause a cat to take out his frustration on you instead of the person or thing that upset him.

Your best strategy is to try to figure out what the stressor is and take steps to remove it. For example, if a trespassing cat has your kitty in an uproar, find a way to either discourage the cat from coming around (such as installing motion activated sprinklers) or keep the curtains closed. It can take some fine detective work to figure out what’s causing the redirected aggression, but don’t give up. Also, don’t try to interact with your cat when he’s highly agitated, as this will almost certainly result in being bitten.

Top photo by Tnarik Innael/Flickr
Middle photo by Sam Howzit/Flickr
Bottom photo by d.i.o.d.e./Flickr

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A Spooktacular Howl-o-ween Photo Contest!

By Julia Williams

Fright night is finally here! Are you ready for all the haunting fun? More importantly, is your four-legged friend ready?

Do you have a captivatingly creepy monster costume for your pet? Or maybe you prefer to go the cute route and dress your pet like a clown or a pirate? Or perhaps just a simple pair of devil horns suits your little “angel” best?

No matter what kind of bewitching getup your pet will be wearing today – even if it’s au naturel – CANIDAE wants to see their photo, and there are pet food prizes!

Once you’ve snapped a great photo of your pet, entering the contest is easy peasy. Just visit the CANIDAE Facebook contest page to upload a photo of your pet in their booootiful Halloween costume (or just celebrating the holiday), and you might win 6 months free CANIDAE.

Prizes to be awarded:

• 6 months free CANIDAE to the pet with the most online votes
• 6 months free CANIDAE to the dog chosen by our pet-loving panel
• 6 months free CANIDAE to the cat chosen by our pet-loving panel

Contest ends at midnight PST on November 3rd. See rules for eligibility and voting information. Pets who have won any CANIDAE contest within the last 12 months are not eligible. Votes are welcome from other countries, but entries must be from the US or Canada, due to shipping restrictions.

Let the Halloween revelry begin!

Dear Cat: (Things Your Human Needs You to Know)

dear cat cloudzillaBy Julia Williams

Last week my cat, Rocky, shared his “Dear Human” list with you. Since I am the sole two legged servant for this cheeky feline, one can reasonably assume I was the human he was addressing. Although amusing, Rocky’s anecdotes weren’t really what you’d call “fact based reporting.” To be clear, he made most of that stuff up. That cat does seem to like telling tall tales (tails?). I, on the other hand, have a journalism degree and so I have a code of ethics to uphold. No fables from me!

Right.

So…just as felines obviously have lots of things they want their human (aka the Butler) to know, we Cat People have things we need our furry companions to know. Here are a few.

Dear Cat: I have a very dependable alarm clock. If I need to get up at 5 a.m., the clock will let me know. I do NOT need your help. I don’t need you to lick my face, jump on my stomach, pull my hair, scratch the carpet, whine incessantly, or knock things off the dresser in an attempt to rouse me. When it’s time for your CANIDAE breakfast, you’ll be the first to know.

Dear Cat: Please stop swishing your big fluffy tail in my Caramel Macchiato coffee drink. I happen to like the taste of the caramel foam FAR more than I like cleaning it off the wall after you flick it there with your tail. I know you’re just trying to help me diet, but come on… the caramel foam is off limits!

Dear Cat: I appreciate that you want to help me with my housework by licking all the dirty dishes in the sink. I really do. But – and this is a BIG but – you leave a slimy residue on them, which pretty much defeats the purpose.
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Dear Human: (Things Your Cat Wants You to Know)

By Rocky Williams, Feline Guest Blogger

Hello! It’s your favorite feline scribe, here to spill the secrets of cats. Well, perhaps not all cats but one in particular – a handsome black mancat that just might be looking at you in the photo to your left. Why yes, that’s me. Aren’t I the best looking furry beast you’ve ever seen?

Oops. I’ve gotten off track already and I haven’t even begun. Today I’m going to discuss some of the things I want my human, aka “Warden,” to know. It might help you understand what your own cat wants you to know, but there’s no guarantee because like snowflakes, no two felines are ever alike. We’re individuals, baby!

Onward. Recently I overheard the Warden telling her friend about this book she was reading. The main character, Brianna, supposedly had psychic abilities; she could “hear” animals talking to her. A friend’s cat was desperately trying to get Brianna to tell his owner he didn’t like his food and wanted something different. Brianna wasn’t comfortable revealing her Dr. Dolittle ability, so she said nothing, but for days she could still hear the cat talking to her and begging her to help him.

I had to laugh, for several reasons. One, it upset the Warden that Brianna didn’t help the distraught cat. I was like, “Warden, it’s a novel! The cat isn’t real.” LOL. Two, every cat knows that when we don’t like our food, our human will be told. They won’t need to be psychic either, because we cats don’t pussyfoot around when it comes to getting the stinky goodness we love (my purrsonal favorites are the CANIDAE grain free Pure recipes).

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Do Pets Make Us Happier?

happy cats niels kliimBy Julia Williams

If you’re a pet lover like me, you probably think that asking if pets make us happier is a pretty dumb question. You may have even uttered something sarcastic like “well duh.” I thought the same thing, until I happened upon a blog post where there was quite a debate going on about that very question.

“Debate? What’s to debate?” I naturally thought. My cats keep my Happy Meter so full, there’s simply no question their furry presence makes me not only happier, but healthier – body, mind and spirit.

The arguments against pets making us happier spoke of things like the hassle of caring for a pet (personally, I’ve never considered caring for my beloved cats a hassle, but whatever); the stress that can arise when they’re sick or injured; the agitation that occurs when your dog shreds your couch cushion or your cat deposits a hairball on the new carpet. I’ll give them points on the stress and agitation issues. No one likes those things. However, I still believe that all of the positives of having a pet far outweigh any negatives.

In my article, How Do You Keep Your Pet Happy?, my furiend Guido the Italian Kitty made an astute observation when he said “My Meowster self thinks your article should be titled How does your PET keep YOU Happy?” It was obvious that all of the things I do to keep my cats happy also make ME happy. I don’t do things that make my cats happy for the sole purpose of my own happiness, but it’s definitely a fringe benefit. I am reminded of that over-used saying: Happy wife, happy life. My version would be: Happy cats, happy me.

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