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Tag Search: roaming

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Marauding Moggies

Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012 at 11:29:06 AM EST by Cam Day

Curious Cats

They are a free spirit and masters of their own destiny. Being curious creatures, cats will roam wherever they please. But, the roaming of cats is one trait that can certainly cause problems for the owners of the cat, the neighbours of the cat, and the cat itself.

Roaming cats cause community disharmony. They are at risk themselves from injury, both accidental and malicious, and from diseases that they can both catch and spread. They can also harm wildlife such as marsupials, birds and reptiles. On the other hand, they do help to control rodents.

Why do Cats Roam?

cathunting200Cats roam because they can. What's happening in their neck of the woods is discovered during their reconnaissance missions and they find out what other cats are up to as well. Cats that are not desexed do roam more than their responsibly desexed cousins. The romance-deprived hormones of 'entire' male and female cats will make the moody moggies roam for kilometres looking for a 'like-minded' suitor.

If your cat roams, then having it desexed will keep it at home more.

Cats use their territories in a special way too. They have what is best described as a 'timesharing' arrangement for their overlapping territories. If an overlapping territory is in your back yard, then brawls, noisy caterwauling and the acrid odour of cat urine sprayed around the garden are likely to be common and annoying problems.

What Can Happen if a Cat Roams?

When cats are claiming their land rights, they will fight. This is where injuries and the spread of disease occur.

Due to the stiletto-like shape of a cat's canine teeth and the dangerous bacteria that live in and around the cat's teeth and gums, a bite wound will often intercat_aggression-home200result in a Cat Fight Abscess. As they bite, they force bacteria from their teeth under the skin. Pus is produced in the wound and this usually erupts from the bite wound like a volcano when the wound has 'matured' for a few days.

Cat Fight Abscesses are painful for the cat and when they burst, the smell is awful.

Veterinary treatment is essential. A course of antibiotics will usually clear the infection quickly but your cat may need an anaesthetic or surgery.

When it fights, an infected cat will also spread Feline AIDS, an auto-immune disease similar in many ways to human AIDS. Feline AIDS is only transmitted by saliva and, therefore, by the bite of a cat. It is not spread by sexual contact. Because they are more aggressive, entire male cats are much more likely to carry the Feline AIDS virus. The virus is also often found in desexed cats allowed to roam extensively.

If your cat is the victim of another that is roaming, the injuries and the visits to the vet have probably frustrated you. The danger of disease is another worry and the visiting cat is likely to spray urine around your house in its attempts to declare your house and garden as its territory. Even your own cat may be house-soiling or spraying in response to the challenges left by the visiting cat. By soiling inside the house, your cat is attempting to declare your house as its own territory. This makes it feel better and we presume your cat is hoping that the smell will frighten off the other cat.

However, your own cat's reaction to the visiting cat can be extreme. High level anxiety is a common problem and if you have more than one cat, you may find the more anxious cat is transferring its aggression to others that it lives with.

A third problem caused by roaming cats it the effect on non-cat owners. They get justifiably angry about their garden being used as a 'no-man's-land' - an arena used by the neighbourhood moggies for their calamitous clashes. The noise, the odour around the garden beds that the cats may be using as a latrine and the stench of urine spray are intolerable for most non-cat owners.

What can be Done to Prevent a Cat Roaming?

Nowadays, responsible cat owners are doing all they can to control their cat's roaming. Desexing cats when they are young is important but, in addition, many cat owners are deciding to confine their cats inside their homes, either at night or continuously, to prevent roaming.

catlookingoutwindow200Some are successful in confining their cats to a room or two inside the house while others choose to allow their cats to roam the whole house but do not allow them outside. However, most cats will be happier if their housing includes a Fun Park on an enclosed balcony or veranda, or a purpose built enclosure in the back yard.

What your cat really wants is a semi-outside area where, via a cat door, it can come inside for kisses, cuddles and food and go outside to satisfy its need for exploration and exercise.

New products on the market make the construction of such an enclosure even easier. One product I have seen is a soft, pre-stretched polyethylene netting that is flexible enough to enclose anything from verandas to whole garden areas, including the trees! The netting is such that it is almost invisible when installed and therefore it doesn't make the house and yard look like a prison.

Cats love to explore - it's in their nature. Our job as responsible pet owners is to ensure that both our pets and the wildlife outside remain safe and free from harm.

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.

Pheromones for Pets

Posted: Friday, September 7, 2012 at 3:40:41 PM EST by Cam Day

What are Pheromones?

contentkittiePheromones 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 are important to many living creatures including insects and mammals. For instance, queen bees produce pheromones that inhibit other queens from developing.  In insects and animals pheromones also act as sex attractants and have many other functions.

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.

Availability in Australia

The Feliway Pheromone range.Synthetic pheromones are now available in Australia for dogs and cats.

The dog pheromone is known as the Dog Appeasing Pheromone (Adaptil) and the cat pheromones in known as Feliway.

Adaptil is available commercially in Australia as a plug-in diffuser.

Feliway is available as a plug-in diffuser and as a spray bottle.

Are pheromones suitable for your pet?

Pheromones such as the Dog Appeasing Pheromone (Adaptil) and Feliway are wonderful products because they are easy to use and side-effect free.

But they certainly are not a cure for all behavioural problems. 

If you are uncertain about purchasing pheromones for your pet, complete our Pheromone Inquiry Form and we will review your submission.

We will then respond to that by email or by telephone as needed.

Click here to inquire if pheromones are suitable for your pet's behaviour

How to Purchase Pheromones

Pheromones can be purchased from our office or, if you are certain the are correct for your pet, the can be purchased online here.

Click here to purchase pheromones


More information

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

Halloween, Australia, and our pets

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 12:10:01 PM EST by Cam Day

Halloween, Australia, and our pets

6836-101413-gs6836

Halloween, the 31st of October, is a time bound deep in American history. Traditionally, it is the time when Americans remember those who have passed, and ‘laugh’ in the face of death. Although it has long been an American holiday, it is becoming bigger and more popular in Australia with each passing year.

Today, Halloween has lost most of its original meaning, and the day is instead a time to delve in to the humorously macabre by watching scary movies, telling scary stories, and dressing up in all manner of ghouls and ghosts.

While that may be fun and exciting for us humans, it can be a completely different story for our beloved pets.

Pets and Superstitions

Take superstitions for example – we’re happily told from a young age not to walk under a ladder, crack a mirror, or even to let an innocent black cat cross your path.

Now, I have a big soft spot for black cats. I have two of my own and I love them to bits – my family calls them black panthers. They’re gorgeous. However, black cats are popular targets for sick ‘celebrations’ of Halloween traditions. A lot of black cats are abused, tortured and even killed on Halloween. In America, it has become common for people to adopt a black cat a few days prior to Halloween, only to return it a few days later, once the day has passed – these are considered the ‘lucky’ cats. Some American shelters have even banned black cat adoption during the entire month of October to prevent this from happening.

What do I do?

If you’re worried that your pet may be targeted, keep your pet out of harm’s reach.

  • Temporarily restrict your dog’s access to boundary fences
  • Keep your cat inside until the frivolity of the day has passed

Celebrating Halloween – Australian style

Australians love to have a good time, whether it’s a simple barbecue at the park, a beer with a friend, or dressing up in crazy costumes just because you can. Halloween in Australia is no exception.

6842-101413-gs6842With multiple parties at various entertainment and private venues celebrating everything Halloween, people are going to be acting and dressing differently. For instance, we already know that the family barbecue is a trigger for serious Resource-Guarding Aggression problems. So combine the barbecue with people in crazy costumes, people acting differently, and people under the effect of alcohol, and it’s a recipe for disaster for the family pet.

There may even be noisy celebrations such as fireworks and firecrackers. For anxious pets, this can all be cause for concern. Pets don’t understand that it’s just a bit of fun and games for us humans and that everything will be back to normal the next day. Pets don’t understand that fireworks aren’t going to hurt you, that they’ll be gone in just a few minutes. Pets don’t know that people are deliberately walking weird (as zombies), hissing (vampires, witches), or howling (ghosts, ghouls, werewolves). To pets, these loud noises are catastrophic and these people really are the monsters they are imitating, and it’s all very scary.

Scared and fearful pets are unpredictable. This is where the age-old notion of “fight/flight” comes in to play. If pets can’t run away, which they likely can’t if they’re confined in an area that has easy access to these “monsters”, they can become aggressive and that’s when disaster strikes.

What do I do?

If you’re having a get-together, have a plan in place to ensure your pet’s happiness and your visitors’ safety.

This can include:

  • Creating a sound-proof den if fireworks are going to be used nearby
  • Using a calmative if needed, such as Adaptil or Homeopet Storm Stress
  • Restricting your pet’s access to food preparation and eating areas
  • Keeping your pet away from the activity and ‘scary’ people
  • Ensuring your pet’s identification is up to date, in case they do escape your home

Trick or Treating

The most well-known part of celebrating Halloween is Trick-or-Treating. Kids of all ages dress up in their spookiest garb and travel their Puppy on cushion sad.jpgneighbourhood in packs, targeting their friendly neighbours with the cry “trick or treat!”

While this is great fun for humans, the constant traffic to and from the front door and the repetitive ringing of the doorbell may cause increasing levels of mood arousal, stress or anxiety in some pets. Combine this with the known factors of young children in costumes and crazy get-up and you could be in for a tough night.

And while we’re on the topic of Trick or Treating, just be mindful of the types of treats that could be within reaching distance of your pet.

What do I do?

While not every neighbourhood will be brimming with costumed kids wanting treats, it’s best to again have a plan in place.

  • Make the entrance area to your home a “no-go” zone for the night by closing doors or using baby gates
  • Place your pet in another part of the house where the sounds of the front door are muffled
  • Keep chocolates and other human treats away from your pets

Further reading:

The Denning Principle

Noise Fear Pet Pick

Resource-Guarding Aggression

Changing Moods

Human Foods that Poison Pets

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