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Feline Frolics

Posted: Thursday, April 19, 2012 at 9:42:00 AM EST by Cam Day

Eleven Magic Methods to Amuse Your Manic Moggie

You all know about curiosity and the cat. While many a cat is a lazy Couch Slouch, others are active, curious party animals. When they are out and about, the Party Animal Puss Cats are looking  for a good time. These rascals are set for a night on the tiles, travelling like roaming Romeos looking for mischief in all the wrong places and sticking their noses into other peoples' business.

Cool Cat SmallestEven within the home, some cats are devils on four furred feet. Owners regularly report that, as they walk through the house,  their cat will ambush them and will spring like a caged leopard to attack their legs. These cats then run off to hide, their black eyes shining with evil intent.

If your cat fits into the 'party animal' category, giving it things to do apart from ripping living human flesh from passing legs will be of immense benefit.

The Feline Frolics techniques described below will allow you to play with your cat without being attacked. It will also give your cat lots of other things to do in a day to enrich its lifestyle and to blast away boredom. Even for normal, friendly cats, playing games with them and providing a variety of toys and stimuli will give additional richness to their lifestyle. And, if you have decided to confine your Party Animal Puss Cat to the house and/or a garden cattery, the techniques below will compensate for the fact that you feline fiend can't get 'out and about'.


The Feline Frolics List:

1.  Fan Fare

If you have an overhead fan in your house, then providing fun for your cat is easy. Attach a length of elastic with a piece of  folded paper, or a cork with feathers glued to it, to the hub of your fan. Turn it on to a slow speed and let your cat chase the 'clattering paper mouse' as it flies around the room. Remove any delicate china first! As the cat learns the game, move the elastic further out along the blade of the fan so that it moves faster. Just be sure to monitor the game for safety.

2.  Patty Pan Party

Hide titbits of tasty food in and around the house so that the cat has to hunt for them. This appeals to their hunting instinct, stimulates exploration and fortifies the notion that the house is a fun area to be in.

Do this by securing half a dozen paper cake patty pans in various high and low locations around your house. Place a blob of blue-tac under each patty pan so that they don't move.

Now place a small quantity of your cat's normal dry food in each and a 'cherry' on the cake by also including a flavoured dry food treat such as a Whiskas Craver or similar. There are lots of taste varieties 

As the cat mooches around for the food, he or she will find a different reward for their exploratory exploits each time it unearths a new patty pan.

3.  Kong Toys               

Kong Toys are wonderful. They are rubber, cone-shaped 'balls' that resemble the Michelin Man without his arms and legs. Due to their shape, they roll around the floor and bounce unpredictably. Cats find that stimulating. The Kong also has a hole in the middle. This can be packed with food rewards such as dried liver treats or dried fish or you can smear Anchovette Paste or Liverwurst in the hole. The cat's job is to work out how to get the food out.

4.  Magic Milk Carton  

A milk carton can mimic a Kong Toy. Cut the bottom off a plastic 2 litre milk carton. Open the cap and smear Liverwurst or Anchovette paste inside the lid.

catfoodreward200

Replace the lid and watch the cat attempt to lick and find the food treat by jumping head first into the milk carton. You can also cut a paw-sized hole or two in the side of a milk carton and place food treats inside. The cat will roll the carton around trying to work out how to get the food out. Try putting a rubber band from the base of the carton through to the cap. Place a paddle pop stick or a feather or two in

the rubber band. The paddle pop stick should be long enough to just catch the edge of the milk carton. Wind it up the rubber band and when Puss puts is paw in the hole to get the food the paddle pop stick will move a few times. Puss will be fascinated.

5.  Frozen Cows

Next time they are on special, buy several lactose-free milk packs from the pet section of your supermarket. Throw them in your freezer. As you leave for work, cut a large slash in the carton and leave it in the cat's food dish. The milk will slowly melt into the dish and provide a delayed release reward for the cat.

6.  The Food Sprinkler

From your pet shop, purchase a Cat Mate automatic pet feeder. There are several similar products, and they all operate on the same principle. They contain a food tray which is sealed with a flap. The flap is controlled by a timer that will open the flap and give access to the food at the time you set. That's interesting for a bored Puss Cat. However there is a deluxe version. Use velcro to fasten the unit upside down under a table or on a beam inside your house. Now place a rubber door mat (the type with big holes in it) under the unit. Why Because when the flap opens some hours after you leave, the food will drop to the mat and sink into the holes. Puss will be delighted with the challenge that you have presented!

7.  Carton maze

Make a maze from some old shoe boxes or other cardboard boxes. Have some 'poke and peep' holes in each box. Poke pencils through the holes or pull a piece of string with a paper  mouse on the end through the maze. Your  cat is likely to chase the mice, attack pencils placed through the holes and generally have fun exploring. Put some food titbits in the maze to stimulate exploration.

8.  Paper Bag Park

Scatter a selection of paper bags around the house. Have holes in them for 'peeping and poking'.

9.  Laser Light Leaping

If you have access to a laser pointer, flash this around the walls to get your cat to chase it. Commercial versions of this are now available for cats. Just be sure not to shine the laser into the cat's eyes.

10.  Weasel Whumping

If you can find one, purchase a wiggly Weasel Ball. These act like a 'virtual-mouse' for your cats. The weasel is attached, by its nose,  to a ball containing a battery, and when turned on, the ball rotates and rolls around the house with the weasel attached, looking like it is being chased. They are made by Dah Yang Toy Industrial Co., Ltd  and are identified with the code number 8038H.

11. Paper Mouse Mauling

This is the old, but effective, standard cat game. Attach a paper 'mouse' to a piece of string and drag it through the house. Some creative folk attach these to a radio-controlled car and drive the mouse around the house. Feathers on corks are also much loved.

If that doesn't satisfy your Puss Cat, visit your local pet shop. You will find a range of cat toys designed to satisfy the most fastidious and fanatic of fractious felines - but meanwhile, don't forget to hug your pet.


Click here to go to the Aggressive Cat Pet Pick

Keeping Pets Safe from household chemicals

Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012 at 11:57:30 AM EST by Cam Day

Household Poisons That Can Kill Your Cat

Curiosity killed the cat they say!

A wise sage probably coined this cliché to describe the sensitivity of cats to poisons around the home. Cats are much more susceptible to poisons than are dogs so this article contains some timely warnings about cats and poisons that affect them.

Pain Killers - A Feline's Foe

The common painkillers Paracetamol and Aspirin are wonderful drugs for your own pain and discomfort,  but when it comes your cat, they are extremely dangerous.

Kitten_BurmeseThese drugs are all too commonly given to cats by their owners.  They are incorrectly used as a home remedy for many feline illnesses. This is an extremely dangerous practice and can result in the death of the pet.

Paracetamol causes extreme breathlessness by dangerously altering the red blood cells. It changes the red pigment of the blood (haemoglobin) into a compound known as methaemoglobin. This substance does not carry oxygen and results in the animal's gums and lips turning blue. Fluid-like swelling occurs around the face and the cat is lethargic and gasping for breath.

Aspirin is also a danger. It causes intense irritation of the intestines and a lose of appetite, vomiting and depression. The cat is not able to balance or stand. Its head may be wobbling or swaying from side to side.

These drugs are dangerous and you should not give them to your cat - unless your veterinarian advises that you do so.  

Other human medications that you should keep away from your cat include any containing phenylbutazone, indomethacin, ibuprofen, naproxen, acetominophen and codeine

Household Horrors

Many household substances can seriously affect cats too.

Any tar derivatives such as Creosote and some tar-based shampoos are dangerous.  Creosote is extremely corrosive and is toxic to cats. By  being absorbed through its skin, a cat easily takes creosote into its body. A cat may also try to lick creosote from its body, thus ingesting the tar through its mouth.

Tar derivatives cause a violent gastroenteritis in cats, with severe abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea.  Tar is a therapeutic agent used in some dog shampoos. Ensure any shampoo used on your cat is 'feline friendly' - read the label!

Household chemicals such as turpentine, kerosene and petrol can make a cat very ill.  These products are still sometimes incorrectly  used as a bushie's remedy for ticks and fleas. This is dangerous and you should keep these products away from your cat.woman_with_cat_200

Even if you wash it off, your cat will still readily absorb turpentine through its skin. It causes nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea and nervous signs, such as restlessness and hyperexcitability.

Use Insecticides with Caution

Be careful when washing cats in insecticide.  Many insecticides on the market that are designed to kill fleas and ticks are quite safe when used on dogs but are deadly to cats. Insecticides containing organo-phosphate chemicals such as dichlorvos, diazinon and coumaphos are still available as dog washes but they are lethal for cats. The labels contain warnings against their use in cats, but many people forget to read the instructions!

The use of these types of insecticides is reducing in favour of the newer and kinder insecticides that are now commonly available through your veterinarian and pet shop.

Chlorinated hydrocarbons such as aldrin, DDT, dieldrin and lindane are especially dangerous in cats. These compounds are seldom used nowadays, but, while they are well controlled, some rural properties still have such preparations in storage.

Accidental poisoning with any of these insecticides can produce vomiting, diarrhoea, salivation, muscle   tremors and convulsions.

Caution When Renovating

With many glorious Colonial and Queenslander houses being restored nowadays, poisoning from lead-based paint is still a problem. The main difficulty occurs when you sand the lead paint. The lead dust on the ground is picked up on your cat's feet or fur and your cat could ingest enough to make it sick.

Lead causes extreme hyperexcitability. Your cat will hysterically rush around the house in an uncoordinated fashion. It will show paralysis or muscle weakness and convulsions are common. You may also notice gastrointestinal signs such as  loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea or constipation.

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, your best remedy is an emergency visit to your veterinarian. Be careful because a cat that is in convulsions or that is fitting is very dangerous and difficult to handle. It will not recognize you as its owner and you are likely to get bitten or scratched severely. Place your cat in a cardboard box or cat carry cage, ring your veterinarian and proceed with cautious haste. If you know what substance poisoned your cat, take a sample of it to your veterinarian.

The Season of Sensuality

Posted: Friday, August 3, 2012 at 11:24:23 AM EST by Cam Day

Making Scents

Spring is nearly upon us and summer is just a sniff away. The days are getting longer and the animal kingdom is waking to a new 'season of sensuality'. I find that the start of the Ekka in Brisbane marks the start of this season of sensuality. It's not only the flowers that blossom and send out their wonderful perfumes at this time of year but many species of animals also send out their own seasonal scents in spring. The most important of these scents are pheromones.

Pheromones Cats sniffing each other are extremely widespread in the animal kingdom. They are like hormones in some aspects. However, while hormones stay within the body of the animal that produces them and thus affect only that animal's behaviour, pheromones are released from one animal and, when detected by another animal of the same species, have a significant effect on the behaviour of that receiving animal.

Pheromones come in many forms. Some relate to sexual identification, some help animals to mark territory, some serve as warnings to other animals and some relate to familiarisation and attachment.

They are released from various glands of an animal's body, including those around the face and on the footpads, from sweat glands (especially on the abdomen) and from the animal's anal sacs. In cats, three main types of pheromones have been studied - those relating to territorial marking, alarm warnings and to familiarisation with others of the same species.

In dogs, the dog appeasing pheromone is one that has been studied extensively. This pheromone is normally produced in bitches three to five days after they have whelped. It is secreted by the skin around the bitch's mammary glands and serves to create attachment of the newborn puppies to the dam.  A similar pheromone is also released by adult dogs from the skin around their ears. When released by pack leaders, this pheromone has a similar role, but on a wider basis, to the pheromone produced by a dam - it creates attachment of young animals to the leaders and makes the pack cohesive.

While that may sound complicated, the good news is that cat, and more recently, dog pheromones are now produced synthetically and placed in bottles to help pet owners better manage their pet's behaviour. This is a very new and exciting form of science. With dogs the dog appeasing pheromone (DAP or Adaptil) is used to aid the treatment of anxiety disorders and fears. For cats, the pheromone Feliway is readily available and is used to stop cats spraying, as well as in assisting cats to become comfortable when moving into a new residence.

Using Pheromones to Improve a Dog's Behaviour 

The dog appeasing pheromone aids in the treatment of fears and anxieties in dogs and can be part of the therapy for:

Complete range of Adaptil products
  • settling a new puppy into a home

  • separation anxieties or similar disorders

  • noise fears and phobias

  • treating fears from various origins.

For instance, to determine the effects of the dog appeasing pheromone, a study was conducted on 26 dogs where 20 were destructive, 18 were vocalising excessively and 12 were house-soiling. After 28 days of pheromone use, the behaviour of approximately 75% of the dogs had either improved or resolved.

The commercial version of the dog appeasing pheromone has just been released and while that's good news, it's the method of delivery that really makes this product shine. It is simply delivered via a diffuser that is plugged into a power point in a manner similar to air fresheners.

Used for a month or longer, this pheromone can be very important in helping a dog resolve its anxieties.

Using Pheromones to Improve a Cat's Behaviour

The feline pheromones that are associated with familiarisation help to convey a message of well being and a feeling of security to cats.

The Feliway Pheromone range.The synthetically manufactured version of this pheromone (Feliway) helps when moving house with cats, or when new cats are introduced to a cat household. The pheromone also helps to reduce spraying behaviour and to calm aggressive cats when many cats are present in the same household.

The pheromones used to achieve such changes in behaviour are synthetic versions of a cat's facial pheromones. These are the same scents that a cat rubs on its owner when 'bunting' in greeting.

For cats that spray urine inside their owner's homes, cleaning the soiled area and then marking the area with the synthetic pheromone helps to solve the urine spraying behaviour. The calming function of the facial pheromones has a preventative effect on urine marking,

In addition, these facial pheromones help to settle cats into new homes, promoting exploration and calmness and establishment of normal feeding behaviour more rapidly than when the cat is placed in a new home with no pheromones.

Just like Adaptil's dog appeasing pheromone, Feliway's cat facial pheromone is now also available in a plug-in diffuser that makes it very easy to use.

These products are now available but for more information click here.

Hot Dogs and Cool Cats

Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 12:53:30 PM EST by Cam Day

Hot Dogs and Cool Cats

FINAL COOL CAT


We have wonderful weather in this Sunshine State and over the holiday period we are likely to be out and about more with our pets.

However, the sunshine can cause another state - heat stress.  You need to be careful that you don't put your pets at risk over the next few months.

Helping your pet to keep its cool this summer is vital and there are some 'tricks of the trade' that will help you to do just that.


The Hair of the Dog

It's easy for us to shed unwanted clothes in summer but not so easy for long-haired dogs and cats to shed their coats.

Having your pet clipped now is a good idea and there are many grooming parlours around town that will do the job for you.

Most pets are shedding their coats at this time of year and daily grooming to remove unwanted hair will make your pet more comfortable and will help it to shed excess heat.

Grooming aids, such as Slicker brushes, that are designed to strip loose hair from your pet's coat, can be found at your pet shop and veterinary surgery.

A Cool Abode

It is essential that your pets have adequate shade to rest in at this time of year. It's the afternoon sun that's the killer and therefore you should ensure that a dogdrinkingshady spot is provided on the eastern side of your house so that the house itself provides shade. Kennels on the western side are nothing but hot boxes.

The coolest area in your home is underneath the house, and thankfully our Queenslander and Colonial houses provide just the spot for a pet's afternoon snooze.

This is the spot where your pet's water bowls (more than one) should be situated so that they remain cool.

Icy Solutions

To help your pet keep its cool while you are at work, provide some frozen treats for it.

It's a good idea to freeze a cup or two of water and place them in your dog's water bowl in the morning to keep the water cool.

Also, in a plastic lunch box, margarine container or similar, make a nutritious soup by placing a pet multivitamin mixture into some Vegemite broth. Then throw in some chunks of fresh meat, some liver treats and a few veges and freeze the whole lot.

When you go to work, remove the frozen delight from its container and place it into your pet's bowl. It will provide your pet with a stimulating and nutritious boredom blaster during the day that will also keep your hot dog cool.

Pooling Resources

2860090A clam shell sand pit in a shady spot is a great summer treat for a hot dog. Fill one half of the sand pit with sand and wet the sand in the morning. This will give poochie a cool bed to snooze on. Fill the other half with water and poochie can drink it, sit or paddle in it or play in it, just like a kid at the beach.

Now suspend a hose above the sand pit and connect it to a clockwork hose timer on the tap. Set it to turn on during sprinkler times and the oscillating hose will cool your pooch and provide a watery wonder world.

Heated Arguments

Apart from keeping your pets cool at home, be very careful about their care when they are out and about with you because mistakes are too easy to make.

The saddest mistake of all is when a dog dies in a hot car.

The rules are simple. At this time of year, your dog should not travel with you if you are going to stop anywhere other than at your final destination. Many say "But I'm only going into the shop for a litre of milk - I'll be just a minute". The 'just a minute' extends very quickly if the shop is busy or if you happen to meet a talkative friend.

The highest temperatures are reached in cars of dark colour and with large glass areas. Hatchback cars are the worst, with temperatures quickly exceeding 70 degrees centigrade. This is lethal for any living being, including children, as we have seen recently.

Short nosed breeds of dogs, such as Bull Dogs, Pugs and the Pekingese, are very susceptible to heat stress.  Obese dogs and cats are at risk too, especially 'small fat' dogs. Dogs or cats with poor circulation and dogs with any respiratory disease are also susceptible.

Jogging Dogs walkingadog210

I cringe when I see people cycling or jogging with their dogs struggling behind. A dog is so faithful that it will try to keep up when it should stop and rest. The owner knows when he or she is getting too hot. However, the dog is so faithful it will ignore the messages from its body that say 'stop'.

The dog's tongue is dangling in a futile attempt to cool its body and it is obviously struggling to keep up. Dogs like this often collapse from circulatory failure.

Heat stress is a major concern over summer but a little common sense is all that is required to help your pets keep their cool. Please be careful.

Cat question solved!

Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 1:13:39 PM EST by Cam Day

Q  Hello Dr Cam,

I haveFree to roam moved from a leafy large residence where my cat was able to spend her days investigating the creek that ran behind my house to a busy suburban residence that has a lot of foot and road traffic.

So now, she is really restricted to the areas that she can go to ‘investigate’. She has since become very ‘cuddly’ and will follow me around and talk to me continually while I am at home.

I try to play with her and provide her with toys around the house but she isn’t interested in the toys and as I work so much I don’t go and play with her outside during the week.

Can you suggest any solutions?

Kelly, NSW.


 

A  Hi Kelly,

With cats, it’s hard to compete with the wonders of the outside world.  Cats that are allowed to roam benefit from the broad tapestry of challenges life gives them – a rich lifestyle maybe - but usually very short and risk-laden.

Cats kept indoors are much safer and live longer and suffer less disease – but the downside if that is, yes, boredom can be a problem.

So, there's a sensible balance that's needed.

Indoors funThe answer is to give the cat the largest territory possible but the safest and the environmentally richest one you can manage.

Cagey Cats

There are various cat enclosure systems that will allow your cat outside access with safety.

Catmax and Cat Nip are two well-established brands but there are others.  Many cat owners will make their own by, for instance, enclosing a deck, veranda or pagoda.

If an enclosure is not possible then you need to work hard to provide a rich lifestyle for your cat where things change on a regular basis.

Feline Frolics

Playing with your cat is important when you are home and a bamboo garden stake with a bootlace attached makes a good ‘fly-fishing rod’  where you can flick the boot lace back and forth to stimulate your cat's predatory instincts.

When you are not at home, look at various ways in which you can provide change during a cat’s boring day.

Timer activated food bowls are readily available. Some cat owners use our DIY Sneaky Leaky Milk Carton Timer to deliver toys, food items and, yes, Kong toys, to their cats.

We often advise cat owners to use a process called Fan Fare Fun. Place a pedestal fan on a timer plug so it turns on and off during the day. Place the fan at table height and make it ‘blow’ interesting items such as ping pong balls and feathers off the table during your absence. Crazy!

The Phun of Pheromones

To make your cat more content in its new home, also consider the use of Feliway Pheromones

More information on boredom relief for cats can be found on this link

Thanks Kelly!


Cam

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