Comfort for Critters

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games to play with your kitty

Games to Play with Kitty!

There’s nothing more fun than hanging out and playing with your kitty! Kittens demand this, but older cats can sometimes get forgotten. No more! Here are some fun ideas for ways to play with your kitty, of any age.

Elastic is your best friend! Tie one of your cat’s favorite toys to the end of short piece of stretchy elastic and tie the other end to a door knob. Make sure you don’t make it too long. You want the toy to dangle, but not drag on the ground. It’s also necessary to do this in an area where you can supervise the little one. You don’t want them getting all tangled up!

Bells are great too! Tucking a jingly bell into a larger ball or any round object will make a great toy for your kitty. The sound will attract them from across the house as you roll it across the floor or bounce it down stairs.

Rotate!  Rather than putting out every toy, put most of them away and just bring out a few at time. Tuck them into spots where your cat hangs out, but may not expect to see a toy. Rotate them occasionally, to keep them interested.

Simple objects can entertain! There are many commercial cat toys on the market, but sometimes it’s the homemade items that are the most fun.

  • A rolled up ball of foil can entertain kitties for hours.
  • When you’re unpacking the groceries, toss a few of the plastic grocery bags on the ground to get their attention (be sure to supervise).
  • Almost any box will be of interest to your cat. Be sure to leave an open end facing sideways for easy access. It’ll be their personal hide-out!

After playtime…  Once kitty is tired out, nothing will be better for them than a scratching post, cat-hammock or your lap. Be sure to allow them to stretch out and take a nice long nap!

Cats & Dehydration – What you should know!

Water makes up 80% of your kitty’s body and when its volume gets out of balance it can severely affect their overall health. Since cats in the wild are carnivorous in nature, most of their water intake comes from the prey they eat. For this reason, they’ve developed a low thirst drive and can become dehydrated rather quickly.  It’s important for all cat-companions to know the signs, the causes, and most of all the solutions to dehydration in cats.

Dehydration is fairly simple. It results when your cat is taking in too little water, or losing too much. To make sure your cat gets enough water, it’s important to give your cat access to fresh, clean water at all times. You may need to change it often (at least once a day), since most cats love “fresh” water. Some cats enjoy “moving” water, so consider investing in a cat water fountain! Keep in mind that if your cat only eats dry food, this contains 7-12% water, versus canned food that can have up to 80% water! So if you’re concerned about dehydration, add moist food to their diet (the smellier the better, if they’re finicky).

For kitties that seem uninterested in drinking enough water, try offering them the liquid portion of a can of tuna (only the type packed in water) or mix some clam juice into their water. Some pet food companies sell “milk” that is lactose free and usually tasty for cats. You may also want to moisten their dry food with a bit of water or add Pedialyte to their water bowl.

There are also specific events which may cause your cat to lose too much water. If the weather is extremely hot for an extended period of time or if they have a fever they are at risk of dehydration. If they have vomited or experienced diarrhea, this could be a risk factor as well. If they excessively drool, urinate, are nursing or have diabetes they are also at risk.

Here’s what to specifically look for, in order to diagnose dehydration:

  • Panting
  • Lethargy
  • Coat lacks “luster”
  • Sunken eyes
  • No desire to eat
  • Fast heart rate
  • Less skin elasticity

Another way you may be able to detect dehydration, is by performing the skin turgor test.  Gently grab and then softly lift the skin, between the shoulder blades, on the back of your cat’s neck (forming a “tent”). If it immediately snaps back, once you let go, it is not indicating dehydration. If it stays lifted, or only slowly goes back down, you should call your veterinarian immediately.

Most importantly, dehydration can be a sign of an underlying health problem. So if you suspect your cat is dehydrated, there is no substitute for taking them to their veterinarian right away. Once they check out as healthy, you can take steps to help them drink more liquids and protect their overall health!

Understanding TNR: Trap-Neuter-Return

The issue of pet overpopulation is not just visible in the hundreds of animal shelters across the US, but also in the millions of community cats which live short lives in this country. CFC blankets are only provided to animal shelters and foster care systems, but understanding TNR programs (a close cousin to the shelter system) can allow us to help these other homeless cats in our community.  (Read more here)

How old is your cat (really)?

10 Signs Your Cat Loves You

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How to Know if Your Cat is in Pain

One of the most frustrating experiences in any pet parent’s life is when they think, or find out, their cat is in pain. Sometimes pain is suspected, due to an injury or recent surgery. Other times it’s a complete surprise, happening when the veterinarian notices a condition that is surely causing pain, but the pet parent remained completely unaware. (Read more)

Why Do Cats Purr?

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The Tail Tells all!

One of my favorite things about living with cats is learning how they communicate and trying to understand what they are “saying” to me.  Dogs are a bit more obvious about their interests and intentions. Cats make us work for it, which is so much more fun!

One way, almost all cats communicate, is through their tail. Emotions are expressed in a simple swoosh, or a tightly tucked, tail. It’s important to understand what their tail is signaling, so that you can better understand your own companion. It’s also helpful if you encounter an unfamiliar kitty. You’ll know when they are agreeable to interaction, and when its best to leave them alone.

There are eight common messages that cats express with their tails. Of course, these eight are not all encompassing! Your companion likely has their own, unique way of expressing themselves, which is deciphered by you over time. These eight simply offer a quick guide to the most likely message a cat is trying to communicate. Enjoy getting to know these “critters” a bit better…

If a cat’s tail is…

It’s expressing…

Swishing back and forth, rather quickly

Something has grabbed their attention! It may be expressing anger, or just ready to pounce on a toy or mouse. It’s safest to leave the kitty alone and give them time to relax.

Upright, with just a bit of movement back and forth

Happiness! If the tip of the tail is curled slightly they are a friendly kitty, showing that they are happy to see you.

Wrapped around another cat

Friendship! This is like putting your arm around a friend.

Tucked between the legs

Fear or pain. Something is surely making them scared or uncomfortable, and they are showing signs of submission.

Up but on an angle, moving back and forth

Excitement! Be warned, it could be good or bad excitement. They may simply be focused on something very exciting, or may be “freaking out” over something. Check out the ears to determine which.  If the ears are back, they indicate fear…ears up, all is well.

Puffed up

Fear. They are clearly scared by something and trying to make themselves as big as possible.

Down at a 90-degree angle

Ready to attack. This is almost always a sign of aggression and should be taken seriously. Give this kitty some space!

Shaped like a question mark

Ready for play.  A tail that looks like a question mark is asking you….”Would you like to play?” Consider taking a break from whatever you’re doing and have some fun. You’ll both enjoy the break!

Love Languages of Cats

Humans clearly have “love languages” – defined as the way they express, and like to receive, love. So why not cats? Your kitty expresses themselves each and every day….are you missing their signals or receiving them loud and clear? Check out the three “love languages” of cats and see which your little one prefers (or maybe they like all three)...

(Read more)

How to Grow, Harvest & Store Catnip

If you live with a kitty who just loves catnip, it can be expensive to keep up! Even a small bag at a pet store can be $5 or more, and it doesn’t last long. Another solution is to grow your own catnip, from just a handful of seeds. A one-time small investment can pay off year after year. It’s easy to grow, harvest, dry and store, but you do need to know a few tricks….

Growing Catnip

Catnip is a perennial herb and member of the mint family. It grows in many environments and soil types. It loves full sun, but can also grow in partial shade. Wait until all danger of frost has passed and the weather is warming up. You’ll want to pick a spot where you can easily “contain” this aggressive herb. It will take over as much land as you allow!

Once you have your spot, just moisten the soil and sprinkled the seeds on top. Then cover them with a thin layer of additional soil. You’ll want to keep the soil moist for the first two weeks, but don’t over-water. Just lightly spray a mist over the area once a day for 10 to 14 days.

Continue to keep the soil moist until the plants have about 6 full leaves. Then thin the plants so that they are about 18 inches apart. In most environments, the plants will take off on their own at this point, and will no longer need watering. Just treat it as you would any other garden plant.

As it grows, you may want to pinch off the tips of the shoots. This will encourage a “bushier” plant. Do not use fertilizer, as this will decrease the potency of the herb. Also, to control its spread, be sure to remove the flowers before they go to seed! A bit less water will also keep it from spreading too far.

Harvesting Catnip

Catnip is a very hardy plant that loves to be harvested! Just cut the entire stem where the plant meets the soil. By cutting it completely down, rather than just removing a portion, it will regrow much quicker.

You can feel free to harvest at any time during the growing season. However, when the plant is flowering the oils (which are really what your cat craves) are at their peak!

Drying Catnip

The easiest method is to bundle a group of cut stems together and hang them, upside down, in a cool, dark place to dry. If you’re in a hurry, you can also put them in the oven on a very low heat. Just be sure to keep an eye on them as they dry!

Once it’s dried, crumble off the leaves and flowers (both will be loved) and discard the stems. Continue to crumble, or crush, the leaves and flowers until they are broken down into small pieces – like the expensive stuff in the pet store!

Storing Catnip

Catnip should be stored in an airtight container to keep all moisture out. Plastic bags (with “zipper” seals) work well. Store it away from heat or sunlight, which will draw the potency out of the herb. A cool, dry place (away from kitties) is perfect. You can also store the sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer, to extend shelf-life. Dried catnip will last for several months, at a minimum, before the smell in the oils begins to fade.

Be aware that you may attract other cats into your yard, so keep this in mind when you’re planning the location of the garden. It’s great fun to see it grow and then prepare it for your kitty. What a treat they will have, after all your work!

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Catnip Fun for Cats!

Catnip is one of those things, that for some cats, can make an old toy new, and a rainy day a bit more exciting. Have you ever wondered though if all that extra playtime comes at a cost? Is it healthy for them, or addicting? Why do only some cats seem effected?

Catnip is one of hundreds of species in the mint family... (Read more here)

Cat Scratching - Friend or Foe?




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Kitty Cat Fun!

Love Languages of Cats

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Why Cats Climb

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Why Cats "Knead"

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Savannah Cats - A Dog Lover's Feline

Is It Okay for Cats to Eat Grass?

Anyone who has a feline companion has probably noticed them munching on grass, and has dreaded the inevitable regurgitation. Not fun for anyone! Have you ever wondered if this is normal behavior or if something is not quite right? While we always encourage you to ask your veterinarian if you ever have a concern about your kitty’s health, odds are that all is well and this behavior is nothing to worry about.

Most veterinarians agree that eating grass will not harm your cat, and in some ways it may be beneficial. However, if they eat even a bit too much, it’s likely to “come back up” since cats lack the necessary enzyme to digest vegetable matter, including grass, in large amounts. However, the process of throwing up, just may be the point to this weird behavior.

By eating the grass and then throwing it back up, they are also cleansing their system of other items, such as fur (indoor cats), parasites (indoor or outdoor cats) , or feathers and bones (outdoor cats). These are all indigestible content, so when you cat rids itself of any of these, they are sure to feel much better!

Some experts theorize that because the juices contained in grass hold a fair amount of folic acid, an essential vitamin for cats, they may be chewing grass to gain this nutrient. Once that’s absorbed, there’s no need to hold onto the indigestible parts of the grass. Another theory says that the grass is eaten by cats who already have a bit of a stomach ache. By eating and regurgitating they are relieving their symptoms, and in the end, making themselves feel much better.

A few warnings however, are in order. If you live with an indoor cat, always make sure all your indoor plants are non-toxic. You may even consider purchasing some “indoor grass”, grown in small containers, specifically designed for cats to chew.

If you allow your cat to go outside, also make sure all your garden plants are non-toxic. You should also never use pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals on the grass or plants in your yard, if there’s even a chance your kitty will be chewing on them. If they wander outside your yard (never recommended) you are opening them up to whatever chemicals exist in your neighbor’s yard too!

However you allow them experience the world, just be sure to keep their world as safe as possible. Of course, when in doubt, check it out! Always ask your veterinarian for the most expert guidance on the kitty in your care!