Pet News

Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?

Cats are such beautiful pets and each cat has his own personality, look, and temperament.   All cats do have many of the same physical traits and attributes, such as your cats’ whiskers.  And most cat owners, including myself, love the look a cat’s whiskers but have never really thought about why cats actually have whiskers. 

Cats use their whiskers for a wide variety of functions. Whiskers provide some of the most important way for cats to gather information about their environment. Cats also use whiskers to communicate their emotions.  Further, cats use their whiskers as a sort of navigational tool which is why it is critical to never trim or cut them off.

Some fun and useful facts about your cat’s whiskers!

Cats use their whiskers to navigate and feel their way around

Whiskers help a cat feel his way around. Whiskers are so sensitive that they can detect the slightest change in an air current or breeze. The air current in a room changes according to where things are located. As a cat walks through a room and approaches a couch, chair or table, your cat knows which direction to turn based on the change in the air current and/or direction of the furniture.

 

 

Whiskers help measure openings

Whiskers also help our cats measure an opening.  Our kitties love to climb through things and in and out of closets, doorways and narrow areas.  The whiskers give our cats the information they need to make sure that they can fit through the opening.  Most cats’ whiskers are approximately the diameter of his or her body width.

Whiskers are used to communicate and are a mood indicator

Cats communicate with their whiskers and are also a great mood indicator. Understanding or being able to monitor your cat's whiskers will give you some good information about your cat's mood and if they are open to playing or want to be left alone.

When a cat is angry or feels defensive, his or her whiskers will be pulled back. Frightened cats hold their whiskers back against their cheeks to appear less threatening, while angry cats also pull back their whiskers. Otherwise, when the cat is happy, curious or content, the whiskers will be more relaxed and pushed forward.  This is a good time to play, cuddle and hang out with your feline friend.

Cats are unable to function without whiskers

Without whiskers, cats can become confused and often get lost. Whiskers help guide them in the dark to avoid running into objects.  Whiskers are a vital part of a cat’s mobility and sense of security. Without whiskers, cats would not be able jump around and/or protect themselves from dangerous situations.

Never cut your cat’s whiskers!

It is important to leave your cat's whiskers alone and never cut them. Cats are at a great disadvantage without their whiskers as they depend on them for so many things.  Your cat may lose whiskers from time to time, but not to worry. Whiskers normally shed like other hairs in your cat's coat.

 

New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pets? The Must Have Checklist!

The New Year has arrived and most of us like to start the year off with goals and resolutions.  We want to eat better, make sure to exercise, and improve our health.  Now it’s time to make some resolutions for your pets so they can start off the year on the right paw!  It’s a good time to reassess all factors in your cat or dog’s lives and how you can improve them.

Below are 6 things to look out for to get your pets’ healthy and happy.

1.  Are you feeding your cat or dog the right food?

 As we start the year and try to eat healthy, it’s important to make sure your pets are eating good, healthy food.  Does your pet’s food have more protein and less additives?  Protein should be the first ingredient in your dog or cat’s food.  How about some veggies?  Nothing wrong with grinding up some vegetables and adding it to the food to balance out your pets’ diet.

 2.  Is your cat or dog drinking enough water?

Just as in humans, drinking water is very important for your pets too. Water keeps your pets’ hydrated, fur shiny and aids with digestion.  Dogs tend to drink water on their own without much encouragement but make sure to add fresh water twice a day.  Cats aren’t always the best drinkers.  If you don’t see your cat’s drinking water, try purchasing a water fountain to entice your cat to play and drink from it.  Some cats even like drinking from a glass.

 

 

3.  Make sure your dogs and cats are getting enough exercise

With winter here, it’s not as easy to just go for a long walk, but do your best to get them outside at least once a day.  As for your cats, make sure they keep moving.  Play some games with them. Throw a mouse around the house or whatever entices your cat to run.  Work out with your pets and you can all enjoy the benefits!

4.  Schedule your annual vet appointment

It’s that time of year!  Look in your calendar to see when you need to take your dogs or cats to the vet for their annual check-up.  It’s always a good idea to have at least one visit a year to make sure there aren’t any changes in your pets’ condition.

5.  Have your checked your pets teeth lately?

February is dental health month and a good reminder to have your dogs and cat’s scheduled for a cleaning.  At the very least, if you can implement a brushing of your cat’s or dog’s teeth, once a week, that can only improve your pets’ dental health.

6.  How is your dog or cat’s weight?

Your vet can usually tell you the ideal weight for your dog or cat.  For a self-check at home, you should not be able to grab more than half inch of fur around their abdomen.  When looking down at your dog or cat, you want to see the formation of the ribs but not the point where you can see the individual ribs. Overweight pets have a tendency to develop diabetes and joint problems.

Let’s get 2016 started with making sure we and our pets stay healthy and happy!

 

What You Should Do With Your Cat(s) When You Are Away?

If you have a cat and tend to travel frequently or just want to take a vacation, you will need to make sure your cat is cared for properly while you are away.  Unlike dogs, cats, for the most part, don’t like to be away from their known surroundings.  Therefore, it’s best to keep them at home where they feel comfortable.  Then the next decision is how best to care for them while you are away.

Cats are usually OK on their own for one day

Cats are usually OK if you leave them alone for a day with a clean litter box, fresh food and water.  If your cats only eat wet food, than you should make sure to leave some food in the morning before you go away.  If your trip is more than a day or so, there are various option for you and your kitty.  And, of course, each cat is different and it’s best to judge according to your kitty’s temperament what suits them best.

 

 

Have a trusted neighbor or family member look after your kitty

If you have a family member or a friend (or even neighbor) that can stop by on a daily basis, this is a great option as most cats like to stay home and not vary their routine.  Cats are pretty self-sufficient, so all your friend or family member has to do is make sure that your cats have enough food, some water, and they need to scoop out the ‘droppings’ from the litter box.  And, of course, a little rub down and attention to your cat is also required.  Hopefully, whoever is watching your cat has a pet so you can return the favor.

If you are going on a long vacation, a pet sitter is a great option

If you don’t have a friend that can take care of your kitty or you are going on an extended vacation, there are many pet sitters who can take care of your cat.  A pet sitter is a great alternative (although you do have to pay them) as they are trained to be with cats and know what your cat needs and/or any special care for your kitty.  Get recommendations from friends and/or your veterinarian. If you do have a cat that needs medication of any sort, a pet sitter is the way to go.  It is too much pressure for a friend or even family member to know how to give your kitties medication when you are away.

Make sure whoever watches your cat has your vet’s number and emergency contacts

Make sure your pet sitter (or anyone who watches over your cat) is given all the emergency telephone numbers, just in case. Leave a number where he or she can reach you, and write down your veterinarian’s telephone number and the nearest emergency hospital as well.  Always better to be prepared.

If you can’t find a pet sitter or neighbor, you can take your cat to a pet boarding facility

If you don’t have any other option, try to locate a pet boarding facility where your cat will be housed away from dogs. A nice large confinement area is preferred. At a minimum, a litter box should be provided along with other essentials such as toys and food games to help keep your cat comfortable and occupied. A hiding place within the confinement area is also a good idea so your cat can have his privacy if he prefers. 

Your cat will be OK when you go away as long as you have prepared to have him tended to.  And you will certainly know when you get home if your kitty was well tended to and/or if they behaved appropriately by how your kitty looks and how he responds to you!

 

Feral Cats Are Not Scary and Can Be Cared For with Caution!

There are many misconceptions about feral cats that make them out to be scary and dangerous.  A feral cat is simply one that has not been domesticated and was born outdoors with usually no human interaction.  A stray cat, on the other hand, is typically one that was a ‘house’ cat and was either abandoned by his owner or lost.  Both have to get used to surviving outdoors and can be afraid of people depending on their surroundings. Most strays tend to gravitate near homes because they remember that humans feed them. 

What should you do if you encounter a stray or feral cat?

When approaching a new cat, always take caution because both stray and feral cats might lash out of fear.  Usually, a stray cat will be friendlier and not seem too scared when someone approaches.  If you think you have found a stray cat, please take the kitty to your veterinarian.  Hopefully, they have been microchipped and you can return the cat to its owner and everyone will be happy!

 

Make sure to approach a feral cat with care and caution

If you decide to care for a feral cat, you can do so without necessarily inviting the cat into your home.  You can provide shelter and food and for the cat(s) so they can come by, eat and might even stay in the home you provided.  Most feral cats are afraid of people so be very careful when approaching the cat.  Let the cat come to you and live his life on his or her own terms. 

In time, depending on the cat’s background, the kitty will start to trust you, especially with daily feedings.  Try sitting down at his or her level so you’re not as threatening.  Let the kitty come and sit by you when he or she is ready.  A stray cat tends to be more socialized since they have been around humans during their life and will typically be friendlier.

Feral cats that are unusually loud have not been spayed or neutered

If you hear a cat fighting and howling from protecting their territory or mating, the feral cat needs to be spayed/neutered. You can reach out to local nonprofit groups for help who will humanely trap the cats and get them spayed/neutered. This is one of the reasons why it’s important to have all house cats spayed and neutered including indoor cats. You never know when one will escape or get lost and it’s just better for their overall health.

Feral cats can be adoptable or socialized if they are young enough and are spayed

Feral-born kittens can be adoptable the earlier they are removed from the colony and the more quickly they can be socialized to people and life in a human household. Volunteer organizations that manage feral cat colonies, do what they can to try to pleasantly trap feral cats, spay or neutering them, notch their ears to indicate they are spayed or neutered, and then either adopt them out if they are still young and have any social skills, or returning them to their colony to live out their lives without reproducing.

There are many misunderstandings and prejudice against feral cats.  They are not mean or vicious but are just afraid and haven’t had the proper domestication or socialization provided to them.  Their life span is thereby shortened as they have to care for themselves in the wild.  

If you happen to find a stray cat and would like to build them an outdoor shelter, take a look at my other article on Building a Feral Cat Shelter

 

8 Tips to Keep Your Costs Down for Your Pets!

There is nothing better than having a dog, cat or even hamster to come home to everyday.  We love how pets bring so much joy to our lives, unconditional love and become integral members of our family.  While we don’t have to put them through pre-school or college, our pets can get expensive!  Below are eight tips that can help reduce the costs of pet ownership:

1.  Spaying and Neutering Your Pet
 
Spaying and neutering your pet will have a dramatic impact on your pet’s health.  Spaying and/or neutering can dramatically reduce the potential for breast and ovarian cancer in cats and uterine cancer can almost disappear in most male dogs.  It also helps potential behavioral issues in both cats and dogs.
 

 

2.  Keep up with regular vet visits

Veterinary exams can catch potential health crises early on and can save you a lot of time and money. Some of the treatment usually includes heartworm treatment, flea and tick control, and a thorough check-up of your pet’s gums, teeth, heart, lungs and internal organs. If it’s been a year or more since your pet has seen a vet, make an appointment soon!

3.  Learn how to give your pets a weekly check up!

Weekly home checkups are a great way to check for potential health problems.  Check under your pet’s fur for lumps, bumps, flakes or scabs. Check your pet’s ears and eyes for signs of redness or discharge. Brush your pets’ teeth for dental hygeine. Make note of any changes in her eating or drinking habits. If something seems off, call your vet right away.

4.  Vaccinate carefully

Before subjecting your cat or dog to the general vaccinations, ask your veterinarian which vaccines he or she recommends.  An indoor cat might not need the same vaccinations as an outdoor dog. If you have a good vet, they will be up front about the necessary vaccinations and/or shots and then you can determine if they are necessary.

5.  Pet Insurance helps!

Unforseen accidents or medical conditions can be costly for our pets. Pet insurance is one way to take some sting out of the bill. The cost of a typical pet insurance policy runs about $250-$400 per year and many cover both regular and emergency visits. Get a free quote from a reliable insurance carrier and compare the different plans and options. 

6.  Buy high- quaility pet food

If you spend a little more money on a good, healthy dog or cat food, that can help your pet’s overall health.  A high quality pet food has less digestible filler material and artificial colors that offer no nutrients and can contribute to allergies and digestive problems. A high-quality, age-appropriate food results in a healthy, slimmer pet! 

7.  Buy pet supplies online or in bulk

Buy supplies online or in large supply. Keep in mind that it’s wise to get product recommendations from your vet first. Online or store-bought products that you know nothing about could prove to be harmful or of poor quality.  There are sites like http://www.chewy.com that offer great prices and no sales tax.

8.  Use items around the house for toys

While toys for both dogs and cats are very imporant for training and exercise, they can get costly.  Cats love string, boxes, even paper bags or a $2 toy mouse.  Give a dog a tennis ball and he will munch and play with that for days. Or even a kong will keep him occupied.  Toys don’t need to be expensive for our pets to enjoy them.