Our feline friends might not feel well, and as cat owners, it can be difficult to tell if our cat is just being finicky. Unlike dogs, cats are a little more subtle at hiding their illness and it can be hard to figure out the cause. As we know, each of our cats looks and behaves differently and might even react in their own way to what illness they might encounter.
Below are some signs that your cat could be sick:
Your cat stops eating or drinking
If your cat has lost his or her appetite for more than a day, he or she could be sick. We know our cats are finicky, so only you will know if this is unusual for your cat. The same applies to water. If your cat is drinking excessive amounts of water, it could be a sign of diabetes and/or kidney disease. Kidney disease is very common in older cats.
Your cat misses the litter box
If your cat starts to miss the litter box, then this is a sign that he might have a kidney issue or maybe just an internal flu. If it happens once, then there is really no need to be alarmed. If it becomes frequent, than make sure to see your vet for some blood tests.
Your cat seems listless
We know most of our cats sleep and/or nap between 16 and 18 hours each day (what a life!) If they start sleeping more and/or are seemingly less active, this is indicative of pain, illness or internal discomfort. If this lasts for more than a few days, make sure to take your cat to the vet.
Your cat loses weight
If your cat suddenly loses a lot of weight, it can be a sign of hyperthyroidism, diabetes, pancreatitis and many other conditions. Weight loss generally occurs in older cats; however, it should not be significant enough that it is noticeable.
Your cat is losing his or her hair
If your cat is suddenly losing patches of hair of his fur has a matted appearance, there might be an underlying medical issue. This also extends to grooming. Cats that have difficulty grooming often suffer from obesity and joint disease, while excessive grooming may indicate skin disease, anxiety and other compulsive behavior.
Your cat seems stressed
Stressed cats may have difficulty socializing and may hide more. Sometimes this change in behavior can be related to a physical disease. Further, if your normally social cat starts to retreat more than usual or isn’t interacting with you and your friends in his or her normal pattern, it could be that he is hurting inside and wants you to know!
Of course, there are other signs and signals that your cat will display that let you know he or she is uncomfortable. Only you, as the cat owner, will know whether this cat behavior is typical for your feline. If any of the above lasts for more than a couple days, it is best to schedule an appointment with your vet.
As a cat or dog owner, we need to take our ‘kids’ to the vet annually for a check up or if they have some other ailment. While both dogs and cats aren’t fans of going to the vet, most cats dread it. In fact, they get so stressed out that it is sometimes an ordeal to even get them to go. Below are some tips to help you and your cat make the trip and the preamble to the trip that much easier.
Make your cat carrier a comfortable resting place
Try to make your cat carrier a fun, comfortable go-to- location. In order to do this, make sure that your carrier is out and accessible at all times not just when you’re getting ready to take your cat somewhere. Put a soft blanket or an old t-shirt of yours inside the carrier. Try putting some treats inside as well. If your cat plays inside the carrier and is comfortable there, he or she will be much less intimidated when you are ready to take him or her to the vet.
Cats love bags and hiding places
As all cat owners know, cats love to hide. As I mentioned above, put a blanket inside to make the carrier comfortable for your cat. You might even try placing another towel or blanket over the outside part of the carrier. Cats feel more secure when they have a place to hide. This could even help when you are waiting for your vet as your cat will feel more secure thinking he is hiding.
Give yourself plenty of prep time
Before heading to a veterinary appointment, give yourself plenty of time to get the cat into the carrier. If he or she hasn’t been accustomed to playing in it, take it out and let your cat sniff and explore inside it. Then, when your cat is ready, he or she will gladly walk inside it and you are on your way!
Make sure your cat is comfortable traveling
Get your cat used to riding in the car when he or she is a kitten. Start by getting your cat into the carrier and carrying it around your house. Then gradually get your cat into the cat carrier and take him or her for short drives around the block. While this seems like a lot to do for just a vet visit, it can be helpful if you ever move or take your cat on a road trip with you.
Make sure your cat doesn’t eat before your trip
Cats can get motion sickness. If you avoid feeding your cat before traveling, it will decrease the chance that your cat will get sick. Feeding your cat before the visit can also make him or her excited and energetic and then more resistant to getting in the carrier.
If none of the above work, consult your veterinarian
If your cat does not take to any of the above, your veterinarian might be able to give you some tips or check if there is something else bothering your cat. If your cat does not calm down when you are at the vet, he or she might prescribe a temporary sedative. However, this should only be done if your cat needs some extensive lab work that is being inhibited by your cat’s anxiety.
With practice and patience, you can get your cat to accept going to the vet. Who knows, one day, your cat might even enjoy it!
My friend, Eileen, has a dog named Buster, who has the habit of barking any time she leaves the house. Buster used to do this when he was a puppy and now that Eileen is back to work full time, he has started barking any time she leaves the house. Like any old habit, Buster needs to learn to accept that his Mom is leaving and to try to be happy in his own home without her.
Most dogs bark when their owners leave because they are either bored or have some separation anxiety. However, like any pet, after the owner is gone for even fifteen minutes, the barking will stop as does the anxiety. Below are some tips to make your leaving the house less stressful for your dog and to make him happier when you are away.
Leave your dog for short periods of time
Try to get your dog used to your leaving by doing some practice runs (or exits). Start by leaving your dog alone for fifteen minutes or so when you go out on a short errand. Gradually work up to leaving your dog alone for longer periods of time so that your dog understands that when you leave, you always come back home. No need to bark!
Make sure your dog has a comfortable ‘home’
If you provide your dog with a comfortable room or even a crate that he enjoys, your pup will know to retreat there when you leave. Sometimes a dog barks when you leave because he is afraid or has nothing better to do. If you have a little place where your dog feels comfortable, this will lessen the anxiety that he or she feels.
Some dogs do enjoy crates and crate training and if that is the case, it is an easy solution for you and your pup. However, before you confine your dog to a crate, make sure that your pup is comfortable and happy there.
Leave toys out for your dog
Make sure to leave toys and maybe a few treats out while you are away. This will give your dog something productive to do while you are out of the house that does not include barking. Make sure the toy or treat is something very safe that your dog won’t choke. There are many different treats that are specifically designed to keep your dog busy for long periods of time. A Kong is a great toy for a dog that keeps him or her chewing, happy, and distracted.
Test out some background noise
Try leaving the radio or television on for your dog. Dogs like comfort and companionship. A radio playing music or a television with people speaking can be very comforting to a dog that is left alone. Some of my friends leave the Animal Planet on and think their dogs love it!
When you return home, don’t make a big deal of it
As excited as you are to see your dog when you get home, you should enter in a low-key manner. If you become excited upon your return, so will your dog. And this will only make your leaving in the morning that much more stressful for your dog. Of course, you will want to say hello and give him a big hug, but maybe try to lessen the ‘hello’ a bit.
If you try all of the above, it should minimize your dog’s barking when you leave and make his day go by faster. Good luck!
As winter is upon us, we need to make sure to take care of ourselves and our pets. In climates that are very cold, it is especially important for dog owners (and those who have outdoor cats) to take the extra precautions to keep your dogs healthy and happy.
Below are 6 simple tips to keep your dog healthy in the winter.
1.Exercise your dogs
Most dogs will not exercise by themselves, although they may play with another pet/family member or entertain themselves briefly with toys. So, it is your job to help keep your pups active by increasing household activities. Take advantage of breaks in the weather by taking short walks with your dog. Even a few minutes of exercise will help make a difference. It keeps your dogs’ blood flowing and healthy.
2.Keep your dogs outside for a short time
Don't leave your dog outside for a long time because low body temperature (hypothermia) can lead to death. If the wind chill index is below 20 degrees, do not take small pets, older dogs and cats, or short-haired dogs outside. However, if you need to take your pup out, dress them in a knit sweater to help them curb the chill. You would never leave the house without a jacket?!?
3. Watch your dog’s shedding
Every winter, dogs shed their summer coat and grow a nice thick for the winter season. If the shedding is excessive in the winter, it might be wise to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Make sure that your dog doesn’t have any parasites like fleas, ticks, mange or allergy, hormonal imbalance, bacterial or yeast infection that causes hair loss.
4. Make sure your dog’s sleeping area is warm
Check your pup’s sleeping area to make sure there aren’t any drafts of cold air coming through to your beloved pup. You can also buy your dog a heat pad or blanket to keep your dog warm during the cold winter nights. There are many bedding options for your dog during the winter such as pads, blankets or quilts and straw or hay. Dog owners are also encouraged to add a thick blanket to your dog’s bed. Not only will this add extra warmth, it will also provide extra padding for painful joints.
5. Older dogs feel the chill more
Older dogs are usually more vulnerable to the adverse effects of winters. Dogs with health conditions like a hormone imbalance, heart problems, kidney disease or diabetes are not able to regulate their body heat appropriately.
Older dogs who are suffering from arthritis can experience considerable discomfort as cold weather can make their stiff joints stiffer. Talk to your vet about medication, treatment options, and ways to keep your arthritic dog fit and warm through winter.
6. Groom your dog
Don't forget to groom your dog in the winter. It is important for their overall health and to keep their fur and skin parasite free.
Your dog probably won't get as dirty in the winter as in the summer, but with a regular grooming, it is important that you keep your dogs warm after the shower. Towel your dog dry, or use a good dryer, and don't let them your dogs go outside until they are dry. Instead of bathing them with water, you could try 'dry' bathing by brushing corn starch or baby powder.
If you follow the above six tips, your dog should feel happy and healthy during the cold winter months.
My sister has two kittens, Gracie & Wyatt, who are now approaching eight months old. She has been feeding them both wet food- a measured amount and dry food all day long. Her kitties are thriving! She is concerned, however, that Wyatt, the boy, might be getting too chunky and wants to know if she is over-feeding her kittens.
Below are some of the general guidelines for feeding your kittens.
Kitten’s nutritional needs
A kitten’s weight may double or even triple during the first few weeks of life. To support this explosive growth, your kitten might have triple the energy needs of an adult cat. In fact, kittens have a higher requirement for protein, amino acids, and minerals, as well as for some vitamins. Kittens should get about 30% of their energy from protein.
For these reasons, most experts recommend you feed your kitten specially formulated kitten food until they are one years old. Although some cat foods are labeled as appropriate for kittens and cats of all life stages, these aren’t appropriate for your kitten unless feeding tests support the label claim. And don’t forget to provide plenty of fresh water -- it’s a key to keeping cats of all ages healthy.
Buy a high-quality cat food
Make sure that your cat food has the right amount of protein, fat and other carbohydrates for your cat. Your veterinarian can give you a recommendation or someone at your local pet store can help you.
Ultimately, you and your kitten are the judge. If your kitten enjoys the food, wet or dry, that is the ultimate test. And if your kitten is healthy and alert, has a steady weight gain, and a clean, glossy coat, your food is working well. If not, check with your veterinarian about possible diet changes or ruling out any health problems.
Wet or Dry Food
It’s important that very young kittens have at least some canned food to eat as part of their diet. Very small kittens have very small teeth and can’t chew dry food well. Without some canned food, they won’t get enough nutrition to grow properly. If you are feeding your kitten both dry and canned foods, then twice a day canned feedings are sufficient. If they’re only eating canned food, they should be fed four times daily.
Feeding Schedule for Kittens
Young kittens are encouraged to eat freely and have unlimited kitten food available to them all day long, and then to transition to meal eating around four to six months of age. Free-choice feeding has the additional benefit of reducing stomach distention resulting from rapid meal eating. It also helps underweight or slow-growing kittens.
Of course, it’s not the best option for overweight or obese kittens. For these kittens, measured portions offered as meals or until gone is a better choice. Check packages for suggested amounts. Even with the energy needs of kittens, overfeeding can become a big problem.
In summary, you can over-feed your kittens. As mentioned above, in Wyatt’s case, who is becoming a little chunky, my sister might need to ration the dry food during the day. Since she is not home all day, the best method would be to put a controlled amount of wet and dry food in the morning and feed both cats again, only dry food, when she arrives home.