Monthly Archives: February 2014

Buying A Cat?

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Buying a Cat?

Thinking of buying a cat? Before you rush out looking at the cute kittens in the pet shop, please consider adopting a cat or kitten from a shelter or rescue center. You would be literally saving a cat or kittens life!

Before you jump in the car though, please consider what you will need to give your new family member the care that it needs. There are quite a few things to be aware of and some cost involved, besides the initial purchase price.

The first consideration may be young or old… Some people prefer to save older cats from shelters as they know that they will have little chance of being adopted, next to those cute kittens. The aim here is to give them a happy and peaceful last few years of their life.

Some Issues to Think About

Consider the other pets you already own, will they adapt to another member of the family and will a new member adapt to them. If you have no other animals then loneliness may be an issue.. you may need to get two cats.

Where do you live? Are you in a confined area with no yard or on a busy road? Are there any restriction on the number of pets a household can own? Will you be keeping your cat indoors or outdoors or a combination of both?

How busy is the family, is there anyone home during the day or night and are there long absences? Do you have the time to feed and groom a cat (if long haired)? Is anyone in the household asthmatic or allergic to cat hair? These are important things to consider before getting a cat, and outlined below is a list of other considerations.

The Cost of Owning a Cat

Once the family has agreed and made a decision to get a cat, then there are many things to organize, most of which will entail some cost on your part.

When purchasing your cat you will be given a record of vaccinations given and those due. Spaying or Neutering may have been performed depending on the cats age. If you have purchased a kitten, then you will need to note when it needs to be done and ensure that it is carried out.

Flea and worming treatments will have been commenced and it is up to you to continue according to the instructions that you are given at the time of purchase. Please make a note of next due dates.

Micro-chipping may have been carried out by the shelter or veterinarian prior to purchase, if not you should arrange for the veterinarian to do this procedure. You should receive a record of this with the actual number. The microchip number can be registered with an online agency in your area, which means your cat can be identified easily if lost. File the microchip number away in case it is needed.

If your municipal office states that all pets must be licensed then kitty must be licensed. There is a tiered cost associated with this and you will have to prove vaccinations, age & spaying or neutering to get the right license. You will be issued with a tag to be fitted to the collar to prove that the animal is licensed. In some cases you can register online as well and also keep your details up to date. If kitty does get picked up by the pound then this license will re-unite you both.

Things to Buy

Food is going to be a continual purchase, however don’t stock up too much in the beginning. It will take a while to know what kitty likes, when you find something, then it may make sense to purchase in bulk.

Food bowls come in all shapes and sizes, some dispense dry food automatically. These can come in handy if kitty tends to eat sporadically through the day.

Water bowls are just as important as most cats like fresh water through out the day and in some cases a water dispenser might meet your needs.

Blanket and bedding may or may not be needed as cats tend to sleep anywhere it is dark and private.

Cat scratch poles help to create a point of curiosity for the cat and give it something to sharpen the claws on. This will save your furniture, rugs and carpet.

Collars are handy to hang bells and registration tags on however it must have elastic inserted to enable the collar to stretch should the cat be a tree climber.

Toys help to promote curiosity and play, however having said that, sometimes a scrunched up piece of foil can elicit just as much excitement.

Pet toothpaste and pet toothbrush are a must to managed your cats’ dental hygiene.

Pet combs and flea combs may be required depending on the cats hair length.

Pet chews may assist in controlling tartar build up and help to keep teeth clean between brushing.

Cat carrier container for transporting kitty to veterinarian appointments is a must and the earlier you train your cat to get used to this the less stressful it will become.

Cat flap for the door if kitty will be an indoors/outdoors cat.

Cat run for when you want kitty to have a taste of the outdoors without the hazards. Compare prices on the the internet as these are a specialist product and are not cheap.

Other Points to Consider

Research and compare pet insurance policies on the internet, they are quite cheap compared to the human equivalent and necessary due to the high cost of veterinarian care.

Document all appointments for vaccinations, spaying/neutering & micro-chipping etc. Also, don’t forget annual check-ups and vaccinations.

Document when worming and flea treatments are due and compare products and prices for future purchases.

Find a good local veterinarian, the best way is usually by recommendations from others. Otherwise use the internet to find a local veterinarian, by the end of your cats’ first consultation you should have a sense of their knowledge and compassion. If you are happy with the service then make sure that you keep their number handy for everyone in the family to see, in case of an emergency in the future.

Locate a cattery if you anticipate future vacations, and keep that number handy. Have a prepared summary of kitty’s care to give to them, including the important numbers (license, Microchip & Veterinarian) and due dates of treatments (worming & fleas).

Above all, if you move house please ensure that you notify any agencies that you have your cat registered with e.g. licence and microchip and update your contact details and get a new license if necessary. If you lose kitty at the new house then you can both be re-united quickly.

Finally

Owning a cat is not a short term or temporary prospect, cats can have quite a long lifespan so it is important to be fully aware of what responsible pet ownership entails. Responsible pet care ensures that your cat is able to enjoy a happy and healthy life.

I hope that this hasn’t put you off owning a cat or kitten because despite the responsibility, it may prove to be one of the most enjoyable aspects of your life.

Cats and Dental Care

Orange Kitty

Orange Kitty

The Importance of Preventative Dental Care

A part of owning a cat means that you have responsibility to maintain your cats’ health. In particular, the dental care that you implement at home is a form of preventative care that, together with dental check-ups will ensure that your cat will live a long, healthy and pain free life. Ignoring your cats’ dental care can result in costly veterinarian bills and unfortunately may result in pain or a shorter life expectancy for your cat. Regular assessment and care should become a routine for you and Kitty.

Assessment Of Your Cats’ Dental Health

Generally your cats’ mouth and gums should be pink and smell slightly fishy. The teeth should be white and clean.

Breath:
Smell your cats’ breath, if there are any strong abnormal odor then this may be indicative of underlying problems such as gingivitis, tooth decay or digestive abnormalities. Take your cat to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
Gums:
Check gums for signs of redness, swelling, bleeding, ulcers and a dark red line along the gums. Also check to see if the gums are receding away from teeth.
Teeth:
Look for signs of a tartar build up. This will present as brown stains on the teeth and where the tooth meets the gum line and at worst covering most of the affected tooth/teeth. Check for loose and broken teeth.
Pain:
Observe for any signs of pain which may present, such as the cat retreating when you touch his or her mouth, clawing or rubbing their face, drooling, trouble eating or total loss of appetite.
Mouth:

Check the condition of your cats’ mouth in general including their tongue, and palate. If you find any of the following signs of redness, swelling, bleeding, drooling, ulcers, pus, signs of pain, loss of appetite or inability to eat please consult with your veterinarian immediately.

Regular Dental Care:

Assess your cats’ mouth on a regular basis and if you do notice anything unusual, take Kitty to the veterinarian and let them know.

Brushing Teeth:
Brush teeth and massage gums regularly using pet products only. If you are the owner of a kitten then get them used to this as soon as you bring them home using a cotton swab, gauze or your fingers. There is no need to brush their teeth yet, as they still have their milk teeth, however getting them used to someone rubbing their teeth and gums will help once their lose their milk teeth. Try rubbing some flavored toothpaste on their gums so they can taste it, then introduce a toothbrush designed for cats or a finger brush. If you have an older cat there is no harm in trying to form this new habit, however ensure that they have been checked by the vet first. If they become distressed with brushing, there are other methods. Brushing should ideally be done on a daily basis, otherwise several times per week will suffice.

Special biscuits:
Dental chews which may help in reducing tartar build-up may be of some help. Read instructions as some of these products are not for everyday use.

Diet / Bones:
Special diet formulas of cat food can be purchased which are supposed to assist with tartar control. A combination of canned, raw and dry foods is recommended. Raw animal bones have been recommended by some and not others, because of the tendency for bones to cause damage. Do not give your cat pork, chicken or fish bones as they are more likely to shatter and splinter.

Specialty Products:
Products specially formulated for tartar build-up are available from specialty pet stores online and offline, some are grit based and can be added to food and others are gels or liquids poured into Kittys’ drinking water or food. Plaque removal products are also available in liquid or gel formulas. Please read labels first and check for reviews on websites if available.

Dental check-up:
When you visit your veterinarian for the first time after getting your cat, ask them how often you should bring your cat in for a dental check-up. Put this in your diary or on the calendar and keep to these recommended visits.

Finally

Implementing a good preventative dental care regime is the best thing that you can do for your cat as well as a regular assessment. This should ensure that if issues arise they can be treated promptly and should not cause any long term health issues with your cat. Remember prevention is better than a cure and considerably cheaper too.

Chemical Flea Treatments

Although most cat owners would prefer to use a non-chemical means to rid their Kitty of fleas and indeed the house, there are sometimes instances when we need to use chemical treatments. Owning several animals in the same household and large flea infestations may require a more serious intervention. Overall the suffering of an animal may outweigh the potential harm and side effects of using chemical treatments.

When treating your cat for fleas it is important that the house and other animals be treated at the same time. This is covered in the previous blog post and therefore, I won’t repeat all of those instructions here, word for word. Ensure that your cat, it’s bedding, your other animals and your house are all treated on the same day.

Vacuum all flooring, including under, over and around furniture, skirting boards, corners and curtains. Spray the vacuum filter afterwards with a flea spray to prevent the escape of larvae or eggs next time you vacuum. Dispose of the bag in a sealed plastic bag or empty and wash the dust collector.

Treating The House

There are a variety of products on the market to assist in treating the house and your cat. The most commonly used products are sprays or flea bombs. Flea bombs and some foggers can be placed in the middle of the room and set off. Be vigilant in following instructions as some products direct that the power to the house be turned off prior to using and rooms need to be shut off for a minimum of 2 hours prior to re-entering. Sprays and some foggers can be used to spray under beds, heavy furniture and pet bedding, however please read the instructions prior to use. Some sprays also require that you don’t vacuum for a long period afterwards due to the ongoing effects of the sprays used. Also, exercise caution when using sprays or bombs when children or other pets are present… don’t forget fish, birds etc… Treating outside the house includes all of the practical tips included in the previous blog post. An insect spray or fogger may be used to spray directly at entry and exit points that your cat uses, porches or places where your cat may rest outside.

Treating Your Cat

Typical chemical treatments used for your cat may include pet shampoos, flea collars, flea powders and flea sprays. These treatments are widely available from Vets, Online and Supermarkets. Ensure that you use the product as intended and strictly follow instructions.

The most useful of all of the chemical treatments, are the flea treatments either applied directly to the cats’ skin or ingested. There are a variety of products on the market with some including an insect growth regulator which impedes the growth cycle of the flea, reducing infestations quite quickly. These treatments usually last one month and together with household treatment are usually sufficient to stop the flea cycle. It is important to be aware of the ingredients of the product (insect growth regulator or insecticide) to know how effective the treatment will be and what the product actually treats. Some products treat cats for fleas only, whilst other products prevent fleas, ticks, lice and different types of worms.

It may be worth considering the total cost of flea and worm prevention on a monthly basis then comparing this to an all in one product or two products. Once you have decided which product to use then it is possible to compare costs of that product with another.

Final Tips

Once you have treated all animals and the house, check your cat for fleas during the first couple of days to assess the effectiveness of the treatment.

When you instigate treatment ensure that your yard is secure and that no other animals visit in the first two weeks at least.

Repeat the process of treating the house in 2 weeks time, as sometimes infestation may re-occur due to the fact that pupae which were missed in the first clean out, have come out of their cocoon and grown into adult fleas.

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How to Get Rid of Fleas – The Non-Chemical Way

How to Get Rid of Fleas – The Non-Chemical Way

Fleas can not only be annoying they can also be a health hazard to Kitty as well. There are two methods of getting rid of fleas from your cat, around the house and yard. The methods are either chemcial or non-chemical based. It is thought that the only way to truly eliminate fleas is to use chemcials, this may be true, however some people are unable to tolerate the use of chemicals or may simply wish to avoid their use. So, let’s examine the chemically free alternative for ridding your cat and house of fleas.

Has Kitty Got Fleas?

Treat all animals and the house on the same day.

The House

Wash all animal bedding on a hot wash cycle and hang out in the sun to dry.

Vacuum all hard floors, carpets, rugs and under rugs. Then sprinkle the floors with either Borax or Diatomaceous earth, both will dehydrate the fleas. Only use Food Grade – not Pool Grade Diatomaceous earth as it is poisonous and use a face mask as the dust can be inhaled easily. Leave either of the powders to sit for an hour then vacuum thoroughly. Pay particular attention to corners, skirting boards, under furniture and any other confined places, especially special nesting spots where your cat hides or sleeps. Also vacuum furniture, curtains and don’t forget the couch, chairs, pillows and throw rugs. If you don’t want to use the Diatomaceous earth or Borax, vacuum twice to be on the safe side.
Remove the bag from the vacuum cleaner and dispose or remove the dust collector from the vacuum and empty into a bag and seal. Wash out the dust collector before re-attaching to the vacuum cleaner.

Water traps may help, leave a small dish or tub of soapy water under a night light or television set (turned on). Fleas are attracted to the light and when they jump they land in the water. An electric flea trap or sticky flea trap may also be useful alternatives.

Your Cat

If your cat is used to being bathed or put under the shower with you then this is highly recommended. Try sourcing a organic cat shampoo product, and always wet around the neck first to stop fleas from escaping to the head.
If your cat despises water then using a dry shampoo may help. Comb the cat’s hair first then sprinkle Baking soda over your cats body let it sit for five minutes then comb off the excess.

Use a flea comb, and dip after using in a small tub of soapy water you can also spread some petroleum jelly along the combs teeth to trap the fleas. If you do this daily you will be able to determine how bad the flea infestation is and with close monitoring hopefully avoid a flea epidemic in your household.

Do not give your cat any garlic or essential oils as both are toxic.

Repeat the whole process in two weeks time, as fleas in pupae stage may have emerged.

Outside the House

Minimise or stop contact with other animals, this may mean no visiting animals and keeping your animals secure in the yard.

Clean the yard and remove any piles of sticks, branches, if you can’t move them ensure that they are in the sun. Keep the lawn mowed and watered. Ensure that any compost bins are located well away from the house. Spread some nematodes (roundworms) as these critters feast on flea larvae. Place cedar chips near Kitty’s favourite resting spots. Diatomaceous earth placed in areas around the yard can also prevent fleas and ticks from moving close to the house.

If you implement all of the steps then you should confident in knowing how to get rid of fleas the non-chemical way in the future, should you have a flea invasion again.