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4 Hairball Hacks for Hairball Awareness Day April 29 2022, 0 Comments

 

It's Hairball Awareness Day! So, why do hairballs deserve their own PSA day? If you're a cat owner, you're already plenty aware of hairballs. We don't need a whole day to be aware of them.

But for new cat parents, and even seasoned ailurophiles that have cleaned up their fair share of hairballs, it's always good to know ways to help out with these hacked-up chunks.

Hairballs, also known as trichobezoars, are pretty much the bane of every cat's (and cat parent's) existence. They are no fun for your kitties to hack up, and even less fun for us humans to clean up. Despite their repellent, slimy nature, hairballs are a normal, natural result of healthy feline hygiene. It's normal if your cat has the occasional hairball. 

Okay, okay. We know what hairballs are and how they happen. So what are some hairball hacks?  

1. Groom your cat regularly.


It stands to reason that the more fur you remove from your cat, the less fur they'll end up swallowing. Combing or brushing your cat on a daily basis can be an effective way to minimize hairballs, and it can also provide a wonderfully relaxing way to bond with your cat!

Cats are fastidious groomers who lick themselves with their rough tongues to make sure their coats are shiny and dirt-free. Normally, your cat's digestive system can handle all the fluff, which passes through the intestinal tract without worry and ends up in the litter box.  

Longhaired cat breeds such as Maine Coon and Persian cats are more prone to hairballs, as well as anxious or bored cats that can overgroom as a form of self-soothing. 



2. Give your plumpkin some pumpkin! 


Finally, a use for pumpkin outside of Thanksgiving and Halloween! Plain, canned pumpkin (without sugar or flavor) can make an excellent natural hairball remedy.

While it won't completely do away with hairballs, pumpkin is a natural source of fiber for cats, aiding digestion, while also providing a few beneficial vitamins. Many veterinarians turn to pumpkin as a remedy for constipation in feline patients.

Mix between one and four teaspoons of canned pumpkin in your cat's food one to two times a day, or a couple times a week.

It's best to check with your veterinarian first before making any changes to your cat's diet. They can advise you on the proper amount and frequency of pumpkin to serve.  

3. Consider a specialized "hairball formula" foods.

If your cat doesn't take to canned pumpkin, "hairball formula" foods are high-fiber foods designed to improve the health of your cat’s coat, minimize the amount of shedding, and encourage hairballs in cats to pass through the digestive system. As always, check with your vet for recommendations!


4. Give them something fun to do. 

One of our previous foster cats, Louie, playing with our Mouse Hunt Cat Toy!

If your cat is grooming themselves excessively (and producing more hairballs than normal) gift them a new toy or play with them to distract from having to constantly groom. Excessive grooming in cats can be a sign of stress or boredom.

Distracting your cat with new toys not only helps cut down on excessive grooming (and thus hairballs) but also provides you with a great opportunity for social bonding with your cat. 

Note: If you notice that your cat is vomiting frequently with or without hair in the vomit, there may be other health problems and a vet checkup may be required. Abnormal signs and symptoms include vomiting or gagging up more than one hairball a day, constipation, diarrhea, lethargy, or lack of appetite. These symptoms could mean an internal blockage that can potentially be life-threatening.

 


PSA: Easter Lilies Are Extremely Toxic To Cats April 15 2022, 2 Comments

As Easter approaches, those that celebrate this flower-filled holiday may be decorating their home with lilies. While these beautiful flowers make lovely springtime decorations, if you have a cat at home you should opt for roses in your vase instead!

Keep your cats AWAY from lilies. There are plenty of cat-safe decorations you can use to celebrate Easter. 

Many cat owners don't know that these beautiful flowers are 100% toxic to cats of all sizes and ages. 

If a cat eats even a small amount of a leaf or flower petal, or licks a few pollen grains off its fur while grooming, or even laps at water from the vase, it can result in fatal kidney failure in as little as three days

According to the FDA, lilies in the “true lily” and “daylily” families are very dangerous for cats.  The lily plant is toxic in its entirety, including the stems, flowers, leaves, pollen, and even water in the vase.

If your cat is seen consuming any part of a lily, bring your cat (and the plant) immediately to a veterinarian for medical care. When in doubt, call your veterinarian or an animal poison control center for life-saving information. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better and more efficiently the lily poisoning can be treated. 

Not all lilies are highly toxic to cats, some are benign. It is important to know the difference! 

The most dangerous lilies include: 

  • Easter lilies
  • Tiger lilies
  • Day lilies
  • Asiatic hybrid lilies
  • Japanese show lilies
  • Rubrum lilies
  • Stargazer lilies
  • Red lilies
  • Western lilies
  • Wood lilies

Benign lilies include the Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies – these aren’t “true lilies” and don’t come from the Lilium or Hemerocallis species. They pose less of a risk, but can still cause discomfort and illness if ingested.

Can't tell the difference? When in doubt, just don't bring lilies into your home or opt for a fake lily instead - or a safer, cat-friendly houseplant. It's worth it to protect your feline family member. 

As cats are naturally curious, inquisitive creatures that actually do like to munch on plants, cats are capable of jumping up onto the taller spots where you might attempt to keep the lilies out of reach, like on a mantle, window, counter, and even fridge top. It is better to keep lilies completely out of your home if you have a cat.

Pet Poison Control Centers

To ensure you and your cat(s) have a safe and happy Easter, don't bring lilies into your home! Please spread the word with fellow cat lovers who may not know. 

 


Tips On Building a Feral Cat Shelter This Winter February 08 2022, 0 Comments

The Humane Society of the United States estimates that there are tens of millions of feral cats in United States. Thanks to their efficient survival skills of scavenging and hunting, outdoor cats are often well suited to survival in a variety of climates, locations, and conditions. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need our help. When it comes to winter, things get much more difficult for these cats. 

Here are a few things you can do to help the feral cats in your community, whether you're helping TNR a cat colony, or helping out the cats in your neighborhood that you've been feeding. 

Sure, cats have their thick, fluffy coats to help keep warm – but they need shelter to keep them dry and warm and out of the elements. Providing community cats with shelters during the winter is a great way to help them escape the snow and wind chill.

Constructing your own shelter can be relatively easy, and animal rescue organizations have provided plenty of options for building inexpensive cat shelters.

Here is a simple example from Alley Cat Allies!

When it comes to building your own cat shelter, they don’t need to be overly big or complicated. It can be as simple as an insulated cardboard box or even a plastic storage bin!

  • Consider Size. In bigger cat shelters, heat disperses more quickly. The ideal size is about two feet by three feet, at least big enough to accommodate roughly three to five cats.

    The smaller the shelter and the closer the cats, the easier it is for the box to stay warm.

    The entrance to the shelter should only be big enough for cats; putting a flap over the doorway can also help to keep out predators, and the elements (wind, rain, snow).

  • Insulation. It’s also important to use proper insulation materials to help trap as much heat as possible. In climates with extreme cold, it might be necessary to line the shelters with Mylar blankets. But generally, less expensive insulation materials are available. Avoid using blankets, towels, and hay as insulators.

    Straw (which is actually different from hay—who knew?) is an ideal insulator, as it is loose, dry, and doesn’t readily absorb and hold moisture.

    Blankets, towels, and hay are not ideal as they easily draw in moisture and can freeze, but also grow mildew and mold which can cause illness.

  • Placement. Placement is just as important as the construction materials, because they can only do so much against the elements - and it may help your feral cats go into the shelter more readily.

    - Situate the shelter out of the wind and in a spot that gets the most sun exposure, to help keep it out of the elements as much as possible. The sun can also help it warm up, and dry it out.

    - Place your shelter against (or under) a structure, whether it's against a house, fence, or porch; under a bush or tree could also work.

    - Raised structures are ideal to help keep them out of puddles and avoid water or snow damage. Consider using bricks, or even a pallet to raise the cat shelter - but make sure it is stable and doesn't wobble! 

    - Most TNR recommend placing two shelters facing each other, about 1.5-2 feet apart. Placing a plank of wood on top of the two cat shelters, or in front of (at a slant) to prevent the elements from getting in, but not blocking the cats.

    - Face the entry way of the shelter facing toward a wall, so that only cats can get in and out. 

    -  Avoid high traffic areas (such as people, dogs, other wildlife) as this may cause the cats to avoid the shelter as they may feel threatened. 

    - If you've been observing the cat (or cats) for a while, try to put the shelter in an area you know they favor, that they might be willing to investigate!

    - Place near a feeding station the cats prefer, but not directly next to the food. Cats know that food attracts other animals (that could be potential predators) and instinctively do not often wish to sleep next to food. 

    - When in doubt, sprinkle with catnip (or silver vine). Both are cat-safe cat attractants that may tempt the kitties inside. And bonus - it won't attract any other animals that food/treats might!

For more in-depth DIY cat shelter ideas, you can check out Alley Cat Allies or Neighborhood Cats for excellent tutorials and suggestions! You can even check YouTube for instructional videos, like the one below.

And a big thank you to everyone who takes it upon themselves to build shelters for these cats in need!


Senior Cat Checklist: Caring for Kitties in their Golden Years February 04 2022, 6 Comments

Cats are considered "senior" if they're over 11 years old, though they may begin to exhibit signs of aging prior. It all depends on your cat! Just like humans, when cats age there will be changes to their bodies, mental state, and needs. But their human guardians can intervene and help these mature cats remain as healthy and happy as possible in their later years. Here are some ways to help - and keep your furry family member feline fine! 

 

INCREASE: VETERINARY VISITS

Unfortunately, with age comes the possibility of more ailments and diseases. By increasing regular veterinary check-ups, certain cancers, organ diseases and the like might be detected earlier rather than later when it’s more difficult to treat such ailments. Older cats can also be more susceptible to issues related to a weakened immune system as well as mobility issues.

It is recommended that senior cats be seen by veterinarian every six months.  Six months in a mature cat’s life is equivalent to 2 years in a human, and a lot of physical changes can take place during that time.

 

CONSIDER: COMFORT

As cats get older, they may spend more time sleeping than when they were younger - and that's saying something considering cats normally sleep 15-17 hours a day! Aging kitties can suffer from stiffness and arthritis, so the more comfortable places they can sleep the better. Comfortable cat beds and blankets at their favorite napping places will be much appreciated. Older cats will also most likely be more sensitive to the heat and cold than their younger selves. Self-warming beds or heated beds can be wonderful for older cats, especially in the wintertime. Keeping them cool in the summer and warm in the winter goes a long way to providing comfort. 

If your cat's favorite places to sleep happen to be up high and they struggle to jump like they used to, a kitty ramp or cat stairs is a great way to ease the strain on your cat's sensitive joints and bones.

WATCH: CHANGES IN WEIGHT

Significant changes in weight, either an increase or decrease, can be a sign that something is wrong with your cat and should warrant a visit to the veterinarian. Weight loss, especially if rapid, can signal diseases such as diabetes, intestinal diseases, and hyperthyroidism. While weight gain can be linked to a shortened life span and chronic diseases in cats.

 

OBSERVE: LITTER BOX BEHAVIOR

The litter box is a good place to monitor potential health problems with your senior cat. Urinating or defecating outside the litter box is a good indication of a problem that needs to be addressed. Constipation, muscle weakness, arthritis, and urinary tract infections are just some of the potential issues that could be related to ‘litter box misses’. An increase of your cat urinating could also be a sign of diabetes, kidney issues, or stress.

If you notice your older cat struggling to get in and out of a high-sided litter box, it might be time to consider lowering the barriers. If your cat doesn't feel comfortable or struggles to get into the litter box, they might start eliminating outside the box (which no one wants, not even your cat!) You might even consider adding additional litter boxes around the house to really spoil your golden-aged feline. 

 

 

CHANGE: DIET

As cats get older their dietary needs change as well. Your veterinarian should be able to provide you with dietary recommendations as your cat ages. It’s also a good idea to monitor your cat’s food intake, especially if you have multiple cats in your house, to provide the best information to your veterinarian.

 

GET PLENTY OF EXERCISE! 

Even though your cat is getting older, regular exercise can be even more important to remain happy and healthy for the long term. While you don't want to play too rough with them, don't forget that senior cats are often still as ready to play as they were when they were a kitten!  In fact, they might even be bored. Try giving them some new toys to pique their interest. Those filled with catnip are a great choice, as the strong scents stimulate and encourage exercise.  And don't forget the benefits of "brain games" — use food puzzles to keep her body moving and her mind active.

 


New Year's Resolutions You Can Make With Your Cat December 30 2021, 0 Comments

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4 Common Holiday Plants That Are Poisonous for Pets December 16 2021, 0 Comments



Many folks are busy transforming their homes into a winter wonderland for the holidays. One of the hap-happiest times of the year calls for decorations, after all! Unfortunately for our four-legged friends, these festive decorations often include decking the halls with a few boughs of holly - which might be more dangerous than you think. While decking the halls with boughs of holly might ensure plenty of fa la la la-ing, pet owners might want to reconsider decorating with these traditional holiday plants. 

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What Is 'Kitten Season', And How Can You Help? April 16 2021, 2 Comments


 

Kitten season is here! Here's how you can help ...


What To Do If You Find an Abandoned Kitten April 14 2021, 2 Comments

 

Kitten season is in full swing, and with it tons of new kittens being born. Unfortunately, some of them will be abandoned by their mother, for one reason or another. So, what do you do if you find one of these abandoned kittens? We've got a helpful starter's guide. 

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Cat Pooping Outside the Litter Box? Here Are 5 Possible Reasons Why January 25 2018, 95 Comments

cat litter box newspaper

Has your cat suddenly started burying their "treasure" outside the litter box? It can be frustrating and downright gross to have to repeatedly pick up your cat's, uh, "treasure" off the carpet. Most cat owners have experienced this issue at least once or twice. 

It's important to remember that your cat isn't doing this to spite you; cats aren't vengeful creatures. Mr. Whiskers is trying to communicate with you in one of the only ways he can. Here are five possible reasons your cat might be avoiding the litter box. 

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