Cat litter scooping on the regular is more important than you might think.
As you know, your cat is a marvel of consistency. She sleeps in the same place, eats the same amount of food and drinks the same amount of water. Every day. Therefore, this love of routine can make it easy to spot early indicators about your cat’s health. And those telltale signs are often waiting in your cat’s litter box.
We Scoop for Many Reasons
TLC offers regular litter box cleaning as part of our service. But cat litter scooping is more than just changing the litter. Our sitters are trained to monitor the scoops they make each visit. Among the things we look for are color (signs of blood in the urine or stool), odor (anything unusual), size of the urine clump (urinary tract concerns) and parasites in the stool.
Not all the clues reside inside the litter box. If there are not the expected number of urine clumps, our sitters can alert you to this change of behavior. Peeing outside the box can be an expression of misdirected aggression (read this recent article) by your cat. Somehow her environment is not to her liking and you can take steps to correct the situation.
An abnormal litter box does not automatically mean trouble. However, regular monitoring is a sure way help prevent trouble from brewing and keeping your cat happy.
Cat Litter Scooping Made Easy
If you’re like us, finding new gadgets to help us care for our pets is a fun pastime. Have you seen this “Litter-Robot“? It may be a little pricey for some of us. However, there are some equally impressive and less-expensive versions here. And, of course, remember the ever-popular manual cat litter scooper.
You could have the sweetest cat in the world, but no one would ever know if kitty rushes to hide under the bed whenever there’s company! It’s fairly common for cats to be afraid of strangers, especially if they weren’t socialized as kittens or grew up on the streets. If your cat is shy, try the following tips to help your cat feel less shy around strangers.
Provide a Safe Space
Before your company arrives, designate a safe area for your cat. It could be in a back room or a quiet area of your house where your cat usually feels calm and likes to sleep. Then, let your company know about your cat’s safe space. Advise them not to disturb kitty when he or she goes back there to be alone. This will help ease feelings of anxiety in your cat. He or she will know that there’s always a safe escape if things get too exciting.
Avoid Loud Noises
Some cats are afraid of strangers because they associate them with scary noises. Instead of using the doorbell or buzzer, let your guests know ahead of time that they should call or text once they’ve arrived. Try to keep the noise level of your conversation low and laughters down to a quiet chuckle to keep from spooking your cat.
Let the Cat Come to You
It could take several visits before your cat comes out to say hello to your company, and that’s perfectly normal. Don’t force your cat to greet strangers by catching them and holding them once your guests arrive. Alternatively, you can give your visitors a handful of treats to put down if kitty ventures close to them. You can also leave a pile of treats halfway between the safe area and your guests’ area to encourage kitty to come a little closer.
Use the formal feline greeting
Once your kitty feels comfortable approaching your guests, coach them to extend one finger and wait for the cat’s response. Your cat will either brush his or her cheeks on the finger, which means he or she feels comfortable enough to be petted, or simply walk away if not. Once your cat indicates it’s okay to be petted, remind your guests not to overdo it. One gentle chin rub should be enough.
When it comes to cat sitting, it can take a little time for kitties warm up to their sitters, too. Let us know if your cat tends to be shy, and we’ll do everything possible to make him or her feel comfortable and secure during our visits.
A Scottsdale client recently told me a story of how his indoor / outdoor cat came home with scratches and bite marks after spending the night outside. His cat really enjoyed the freedom and stimulation of being outdoors, but after several dangerous encounters, this client decided to keep his kitty indoors.
Many veterinarians agree that indoor cats live longer due to lower incidents of illness, accidents, and stress. For a happier, healthier pet, consider keeping your cat indoors.
Here are 10 reasons to keep your cat safely indoors:
Cat Parasites – Fleas, tapeworms, hookworms, and other parasites live outside.
Accidents – Car accidents are a common cause of injury and death for outdoor cats.
Feline Infection & Disease – Contact with other animals carrying infections and diseases such as: rabies, leukemia virus, and cat AIDS.
Poisoning – Ingestion or exposure of toxic chemicals and plants could occur.
Cat Fights – Fights with other animals such as: cats, dogs, raccoons, and skunks.
Cat Allergies – Some cats may develop allergy symptoms if outdoors for extended periods of time.
Early Detection – If kept indoors, you may quickly notice any changes in your pet’s health and behavior, in order to treat illnesses earlier.
Reduce Stress – The stable environment that only a pet owner can provide while indoors, results in less stress for your beloved cats.
Cleaner Home – By reducing your cats’ exposure to the outdoors, you are ridding your home of possibly harmful elements such as: dirt, disease, and bacteria.
Longer, Happier Life – The facts are simple. By reducing the exposure to risks and stresses of the outdoors, you are providing a longer and happier life for your cat.
Making the decision to keep your cat indoors for safety and health reasons is a very personal choice – for you and your cat. In Scottsdale, we have coyotes, feral cats and homeless dogs, raccoons and other hungry animals roaming about – not to mention the occasional rattlesnake! Give us a call at TLC Pet Sitter for tips and advice for keeping your cat safe.
In order to understand the basics of feline diabetes it is best to understand how diabetes develops. When a body eats it converts food into energy. The pancreas, an organ lying deep in the abdomen below the stomach, aids in this conversion by secreting enzymes and hormones to regulate digestion. One of the hormones the pancreas secretes is insulin which helps to balance and regulate blood sugar levels.
Just as in human diabetes, there are different types of feline diabetes, mainly type 1 and type 2. Type 1 diabetes occurs when insulin is not produced. When insulin is not present there is no regulation of blood sugar levels and instead of the glucose being utilized as energy in the body’s cells glucose ends up in the bloodstream. In type 2 diabetes insulin is produced; however, the body is not able to utilize the insulin, and again too much sugar ends up in the bloodstream.
Sometimes a cat is genetically predisposed to getting feline diabetes; however, one of the causes of diabetes in cats is the same as the cause of diabetes in humans, obesity. Eating a high carbohydrate diet increases fat cells which in turn secrete a substance that decreases a body’s response to insulin and creates sugar imbalances. Furthermore, cats are designed for metabolizing proteins and fats, not carbohydrates. Controlling the amount of carbohydrate intake your cat has can be an effective method of controlling diabetes. High fiber and high-complex carbohydrate diets have also been useful in helping overweight cats reach their goal weight. Proper nutrition is vital and nutrition counseling for your specific cat should be discussed and planned with your veterinarian in order to achieve optimal results.
Other risk factors for feline diabetes includes age (older cats are more likely to get feline diabetes than younger cats), gender (males more likely than females), hormone imbalances, chronic pancreatitis, and certain medications.
The most common symptoms of feline diabetes are an increase in appetite, an increase in thirst, an increase in urine production, and weight loss. Lethargy may also be reported. Left untreated feline diabetes can lead to ketoacidosis, liver disease, bacterial infections, unhealthy skin, and neuropathy. Feline diabetes does not cause the kidney disease and blood vessel disease than most people associate with human diabetes. A diagnosis of feline diabetes can cause a shortened life span; however, feline diabetes does not have to be a death sentence as with proper care and management of the condition a cat may lead a normal life and even have temporary remissions from the disease.
The diagnosis of feline diabetes requires blood testing and urine testing. Once diagnosed, treatment should begin immediately. Treatment for feline diabetes depends on the severity of the presentation. For more advanced cases, fluid therapy and insulin injections are needed. For less severe cases, oral medications, insulin injections, and dietary changes are needed, with twice daily insulin injections being the most commonly recommended treatment protocol. At home blood monitoring and insulin injections need to be performed on a relatively strict schedule. Graze feeding is not recommended as careful monitoring of dietary intake is essential in determining if there is a shift in the cat’s eating or drinking habits. Weight and urine production also need to be monitored closely for any variations that may indicate the diabetes is progressing. Periodic veterinary examinations are also necessary.
Early detection is a key in maintaining your cat’s health. If feline diabetes is detected early enough a low carbohydrate diet may allow the pancreas to recover and start producing enough insulin to regulate blood sugar levels again. This may lead to remissions and temporary discontinuation of medication. While there is no cure for diabetes, with proper veterinary treatment and consistent, loving home care a cat can lead a normal, happy, and healthy life.
Cats are instinctively clean animals that are internally motivated to use a clean, private litter box. They require very little if any potty training. So why is it that your cat chooses to relieve himself outside of the litter box? There are several reasons for you to consider.
If your cat is uncharacteristically eliminating waste outside of the litter box, it is important to understand that this behavior is common when there is a medical problem present. Urinary tract infections and crystals make urination painful for a cat. They may relate the painful experience to the litter box, and begin to avoid it. Before considering other possibilities for this behavior, first speak to your veterinarian about your cat’s health.
Cats are very particular about the cleanliness of the area in which they choose to go potty. It must be clean (by their standards). If the litter box is soiled, your cat may prefer to “go” elsewhere. Be sure to clean your kitty’s litter box at least once a day. If there are multiple cats, you may need to consider more frequent cleaning.
A common cause for elimination outside of the litter box is stress. If you notice your cat is going potty in random places, take note of the environment. Are stressful events triggering this behavior? Some stressful events that could cause your kitty to “go” are: a new pet in the home, loud or boisterous kids in the home, or unusually loud noises around the home. Whenever possible, pinpoint the origin of your kitty’s stress and find a solution for it.
Cats prefer a quiet, safe, and private location for their litter box. They also prefer to eliminate waste far away from where they eat. If the litter box is in a location that is noisy, high-traffic, or there is a chance that other household animals may disturb their peace, they may choose another safer location to do their “business”. Be sure to choose a quiet, safe location for your kitty’s litter box, so he will feel comfortable while using it. Also, place your cat’s food in a separate room from his litter box.
Studies show that cats prefer litter that has a “sand-like” consistency and is odor free. Litter that is highly perfumed may be offensive to your cat and therefore, your cat may reject his litter box. So, consider using litter that contains fewer harsh odors. (Remember that clumping litters are NOT recommended for kittens ages 4 months and younger, as they may have a tendency to swallow litter). Also, when cleaning your cats litter box, use the same consideration with regards to cleaning products. Furthermore, allowing the litter box to dry in the sun will help to kill germs and provide a fresh, clean scent.
Also, litter box liners tend to be an annoyance to kitties and they may avoid the litter box because of it. Although you may enjoy the convenience of the clean-up, your kitty may not appreciate it. Consider ditching the liners to prevent your cat from avoiding the litter box.
It is common for cats to prefer two different locations for #1’s and #2’s. If you feel that this may be the case for your kitty, you should have 2 litter boxes. Keep them in separate locations. If you have a two-story home, keep one litter box on each floor.
Inviting a new cat into the home, or moving can cause behaviors such as marking the territory and stress-related elimination. If you have a new cat or a new home, you should confine your cat in one room including the litter box, bed, food and water. This will allow the cat to feel safe and secure while getting used to his new surroundings. Once the cat has used the litter box multiple times, and is showing signs that he is curious about exploring the rest of the house, you can then let him do so.
Once you determine the location of your cat’s litter box, don’t move it or change it (except to clean it of course)! Cats need the consistency and they resist change.
10. If you find your cat in the middle of “going” somewhere in the house, don’t punish him. Instead, do something to interrupt him like making a startling noise. Then immediately direct your cat to the litter box. Since cats often times relieve themselves outside of the litter box only in times of stress, by punishing them, you will only add to their stress and cause more accidents in the future. Instead of punishment, try to discover the reason why your cat is eliminating outside of the litter box. Only then, will you be able to alter the behavior.
On certain occasions such as nail trimming or administering medications, you may find it necessary to restrain your cat in order to protect yourself and your pet from harm. Experts say that wrapping your cat in a towel may be the simplest, safest and most effective way to do so. Cats are generally less social than dogs, and have a natural tendency to use their claws and dexterity to escape. A large bath towel is a safe and humane solution to restraining your cat when necessary.
Here are a few tips for properly restraining your cat in a towel, offered in an article entitled “Toweling Your Cat,” in the February 2011 edition of Catnip.
Introduce your cat to the towel in a passive way, using positive reinforcement. For example, entice your cat to sit or lay down on the towel by offering a can of cat food or a toy to play with while on the towel.
Gently wrap the towel over the cat’s back while he is distracted by eating or playing.
Allow your cat to feel free to leave the towel whenever he likes.
Your cat is able to sense your frustration and nervousness. So, remain calm throughout the process.
When you are ready to wrap your cat, gently place your cat on the towel, near the center, with his head just a few inches from the edge of the towel.
Wrap one end of the towel around the cat’s neck like a scarf, allowing his head to be free while his paws are wrapped snuggly inside the towel.
Continue to wrap the towel around the cat’s back, so only your cat’s head is exposed.
After one half of the towel is wrapped all the way around the cat’s body, continue the process by wrapping the other half of the towel around in the other direction.
Make sure the wrap is snug, so as to protect yourself and your cat from any attempt to escape.
A large bathroom towel is a common household item that will allow you to restrain your cat safely and humanely whenever necessary. When used properly, it will enable you to trim your cats nails or administer medication much more easily.
Information provided by “Toweling Your Cat,” Catnip, February 2011.
The general public, scientists and veterinarians have recommended for years to feed cats like dogs; free choice dry food or meals of dry with some wet. Finally after years of this misaligned thinking, food standards for cats have changed. To understand why our standards have changed, we must understand cats.
Cats are “obligate” carnivores which means they depend on nutrients solely from animal flesh for their survival. They are hunters of meat and would eat small rodents and birds multiple times daily if they were not domesticated. A cat’s stomach is designed for these small frequent meals. Cats get their water from the animals they eat and do not drink much in the wild. They also lack specific digestive enzymes which make them less able to digest and absorb energy from carbohydrates compared to proteins. Due to these facts, we recommend a canned grain free diet with protein as the number one ingredient and that they should eat many small meals throughout the day. Cats can eat dry food, but should get most of their water from wet food rather than drinking.
Our recommendations for feeding cats are as follows:
Feed small frequent meals throughout the day.
Ideally 3+ meals of a GRAIN-FREE canned food.
If it is not possible to do only canned food multiple times throughout the day,
then we recommend keeping a dry grain free food out for your cat at all times.
This allows them to have so they snacks or small meals along with their 2 canned meals a day.
In order for cats to get enough essential fatty acids in their diet
we recommend feeding them 1 can of wild caught canned salmon per week
OR supplementing their diet with pure DHA
(omega 3 fatty acids—we carry a couple of quality products here).
Your cat needs regular exercise and mental stimulation daily. The veterinarians at vetinfo.com recommend 3 different types of cat exercise toys, which will help your cat to maintain his or her weight, improve overall health, fight off illness, and spend quality time bonding with you.
1. “Fishing Rod” – This classic cat toy allows for hours of healthy play with your cat. It is comprised of any small cat toy attached by a string to a wand or rod that the owner holds. The rod allows for a safe distance between cat and owner, so the cat is free to jump and chase the toy.
2. “Spring Toys” – These plastic coated spring toys which are designed to entertain cats, allows cats to bounce the toy around the room and carry their “prey” in their mouths.
3. “Lasers” – Lasers can provide both mental stimulation and healthy exercise if used properly. Cats enjoy chasing lasers around the room endlessly. Owners should use lasers responsibly and remember not to shine them in any cat’s or human’s eyes. Also, when ending the game, owners should redirect their cat’s attention because many cats will simply wait and watch for a laser to reappear for hours. Lastly, owners should be sure to point the laser only where it is safe for the cat to follow and never in hard to reach or dangerous places.
For more information on this topic as well as many others, please visit: www.vetinfo.com
When choosing a family pet, it is wise to take into consideration your child’s abilities and level of understanding in caring of your family pet. The ASPCA offers some advice on choosing an age appropriate pet for your child as well as pointers on creating a positive relationship between your pet and your child.
Infants- If you already have a pet or if you acquire one while your child is an infant, be sure to closely monitor the time spent between your pet and baby. They need time to spend short amounts of time together in order to get adjusted to each other. The amount of time they are together can be increased over time, as they become more comfortable with each other. Before bringing a new baby home to your pet, some suggest leaving one of the baby’s blankets with the pet, so they can become familiar with the new smell.
Toddlers, Age 1-3- Most toddlers will grab and pull on the ears, fur, legs and tail of your pet. When adopting a new pet, keep this in mind and select a pet that has a high tolerance for this kind of interaction. If adopting an older pet, be sure to choose one with a history of living with children. Also, remember that your toddler will naturally be curious about the food dishes, water bowls, litter boxes, and fish tank equipment. Keeping these things out of reach will allow for a safer environment for your pet and child.
Young Children, Age 3-5– Your young child may be interested in helping to care for your pet and is learning to develop empathy. If you already have a pet, allowing your young child to assist you with feeding, brushing, and cleaning the pet will further develop these skills as well as strengthen the bond between your child and pet. When considering a pet for your young child, ASPCA suggests you consider a guinea pig for your family pet. They generally don’t bite, they love to be held, and they typically squeal or whistle when they are happy, which can be quite amusing for a young child.
Children Age 5-10– Children at this age are very interested in caring for their pets, with a parent’s supervision. As they assist in feeding, cleaning, and grooming chores, parents are encouraged to reinforce good hygiene for both the pets and themselves. When choosing a pet for a child at this age, the ASPCA recommends small pets such as gerbils or fish, as children this age tend to have “inconsistent attention spans.”
Pre-Teen Age 10-13– Preteen youths are often times very engaged in caring for their pets and are fully capable of doing so. At this age, a pre-teen is usually ready to care for a pet which requires a significant amount of care and attention such as: a dog, cat, rabbit, etc. Parental supervision is encouraged to ensure pets are not neglected. When choosing a pet for your child at this age, consider your child’s lifestyle and interests. Active pre-teens should be paired with active pets, such as a playful puppy. Children who are looking for a pet to love, groom, pet, etc. would be better paired with an older dog or cat that is friendly with children.
Teens Age 13-17– Your teen may love pets and be responsible enough to care for a pet on their own. At this age, one thing to keep in mind is that your teen may have a very busy lifestyle, with little time to care for a pet. Also, when selecting a teen’s pet, consider the expected life-span of that pet, and plans for that pet’s care when your teen leaves the home for college. Some pets such as: lizards and fish may be the perfect pet for your teen and their busy, on-the-go lifestyle.
By understanding how to create a positive relationship between your children and pets, you will allow for a happier, safer home for your entire family.
For more information on this topic and many others, please visit the ASPCA website at: www.aspca.org
Cats and kittens can carry an intestinal parasite known as Toxoplasma in their stool, which does not necessarily pose health risks to the cats but can cause birth defects in unborn human babies. The same parasite can be found in meats that are undercooked or uncooked as well. Pregnant women who own cats should avoid exposure to the parasite by allowing others to
clean their pet’s litter box. Although the disease in cats is rare, it is always best to take extra precautions when pregnant.
What to do About Feral Cats in Your Scottsdale Community
The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are as many as 50 million feral cats in the United States. It’s vital to reduce their numbers whether you’re concerned about them, indifferent, or annoyed by them. (HSUS website, 4/27/10)
What is the difference between a stray cat and a feral cat?
A stray cat is a pet that is lost or abandoned and often tries to make a home near humans (i.e. in a garage, porch or backyard.) Feral cats are the offspring of lost, abandoned, or feral cats that are not spayed or neutered. Unlike stray cats which are generally tame, feral cats are not accustomed to people making them fearful and too wild to be handled. Stray cats may be reunited with their families or adopted into new homes. Feral cats do not easily adapt or may never adapt to living as a pet. They live in groups called colonies, and take refuge wherever they can find food, such as: rodents, other small animals, and garbage. “Ear-tipping” is one way to identify feral cats. “Ear-tipping is the humane surgical removal of 1/4 tip of the left ear to let people know that a cat has been spayed or neutered already to prevent any additional surgeries”. (Humane Society of the United States Online Publication, 4/27/10).
Female cats can reproduce as young as 5 months old and have kittens two to three times a year. Many feral cats don’t survive, and if they do, their lives are not easy without humane caretakers. They may only live two years, but with the help of humans they can live up to ten years or more. Feral cats are forced to endure extreme weather, be it cold, rainy, or hot. They also struggle with starvation, infections, and attacks from other animals. “Feral cats also face eradication by humans—poison, trapping, gassing, and steel leg-hold traps are all ways humans, including some animal control and government agencies, try to kill off feral cat populations.” (ASCPA website F.AQ)
There are many things you can do to help improve the health and quality of life of feral cats:
Take the necessary steps to find the owners of stray cats or a suitable permanent home for them.
Some may believe that feeding a feral cat is the most humane solution. Instead, the ideal solution for handling a feral cat should be to: Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR). Many who are against feeding feral cats, may assume that if there is no food available, the cats will go away. However, this is not true. Feral cats are territorial animals that can survive for weeks without food, and will not easily or quickly leave their territory to search for new food sources.
Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) is the most humane, efficient, and least expensive way of controlling feral cat colonies. TNR entails trapping cats, having them spayed or neutered, vaccinating them for rabies, and then returning them to their colony. Once returned, a caretaker should provide food and adequate shelter while monitoring the cats’ health.
“TNR helps the community by stabilizing the population of the feral colony and, over time, reducing it. At the same time, nuisance behaviors such as spraying, loud noise and fighting are largely eliminated and no more kittens are born.” (APSCA website, F.AQ) TNR also aids communities by reducing the number of unadoptable kittens ending up in shelters in order to make space for the cats and kittens who are adoptable. In addition, feral cats that have been spayed or neutered may actually benefit communities because they provided a natural rodent control.