The Right Litter Box Matters

While everyone loves cats, nobody loves having to clean up after cats. Litter boxes offer the easiest and cleanest way of cleaning up your cat’s waste. There are a few different varieties of litter boxes that we will cover in this article. Hopefully after analyzing your options, you will be able to make an informed decision on the best kitty litter box for you. Click here for more information.

You want your litter box to be made from a durable material so that it will last longer. The most common material is plastic, and picking a higher-grade plastic will ensure it lasts for years. Plastic also does not absorb smells, so the cat’s waste will not stink up the box. The size of the box will be determined by how old your cat is. Kittens require much less space than fully grown cats. For kittens, you only really need a litter box that has 2 to 3 inch sides. However, once the cat grows you’ll need to upgrade to a box with 4 inch sides to prevent litter from spilling over the sides. Whatever stage of life your cat is at, the box should be at least 24 inches in diameter to give them adequate space to do their thing. Some cats can be messier than others and will spread litter around. If the box isn’t big enough, the cat could spread litter and potentially waste outside the box.

There are three primary kinds of kitty litter boxes: tray boxes, hooded boxes, and self-cleaning boxes. Tray boxes are the simplest boxes and are the easiest to clean by far. They are also easy for the cat to get in and out of. However, litter can easily spill over the sides causing a bigger mess. Hooded boxes are encased in a hood, similar in appearance to a pet transporter. These help keep the litter inside the box, and keep dogs and children out of the litter box. However, they can be harder to clean and harder to see the waste inside. Self-cleaning boxes are the new wave in cat litter boxes. Self-cleaning boxes automatically clean liter from the box and scoop it into a ready-bag. The only downside to these boxes is their cost, and maintenance. Also, cats can be frightened by the boxes and refuse to use them.

Odor control is one of the primary concerns of a cat owner when managing their cat’s litter. There are a variety of products on the market designed to help you mask your cat’s odor. Knowing how to manage your cat’s odor can save you a lot of headache as your search for a litter box that works for you. When filling the litter box, not every litter is created equal. Some litters have an added odor-controlling agent that will eliminate the nasty smells emanating from the box. This can be really handy if you’re away from home often, as it prevents left waste from building up quickly. Cleaning the box often will help with this.

The bottom line about choosing a style of cat litter box is every cat is different. Some cats will respond best to certain styles of litter boxes versus others. Even more frustrating is when cats will change their litter box preference as they go through different stages of their lives. The only real way to know what your cat responds to is to try a few different varieties of litter boxes and see which your cat prefers. Some stores will allow you to return your products if you feel unsatisfied with your purchase. Try buying a few different litter boxes, set them out, and see which one your cat uses the most. Return the boxes your cat does not use.

How to Stop Your Cat Killing Birds

Cats make wonderful companions, members of the family and friendly but one downside of them can be the threat they pose to your garden birds. Instinct isn’t something that can be overridden, no matter how sociable and friendly your cat is and their instinct tells them to chase and catch birds.

“Bushtits Salem OR” by Scott Catron – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

 

Across the world, cats kill millions of birds every year and with some birds in some areas declining in numbers due to other factors, this extra loss would be great to be avoided. But there are some measures to put into place that can help ease this problem.

Controlling your cat

Training a cat in the way people train a dog just doesn’t happen – they are too strong willed for it and too stubborn! But there are some tricks that can be put into place to help persuade them against doing what you don’t want them to do.

However, the best trick is to keep them indoors and only let them out when you are there to supervise them. This can be beneficial on a few levels because outdoors cats are at greater risk of an accident, an injury or contracting an illness.

Spaying or neutering your cat can help reduce their urges to defend their territory and go hunting and a bell added to a collar can also help make their stealthy approach a thing of the past. This gives the birds a better warning that they are closing in and lets them get away. Some people advocate trimming cat’s claws so they cannot climb trees but this could cause more stress for the animal than any benefit in solving the problem.

Feral cats

Feral cats can be another big problem and being that they aren’t your pet, are harder to regulate. Firstly, avoid feeding them so that you don’t have a garden full of hungry cats that are always looking for their next meal.

If you have a large feral cat population in your neighbourhood, it may be worth working with a local animal shelter to get some humane traps. Once the cats are caught, they are sprayed or neutered to help control the population.

Bird habitats

On the turn side of the coin, managing where you feed your garden birds or where you place nest boxes can also help reduce the problem. Make sure feeders and bird baths are around 5 feet away from shrubbery where cats can hide in wait for a bird.

Choose birdhouses that have steep roofs that cats cannot sit on and that don’t have perches on them where baby birds can sit. It may seem a nice idea to learn how to care for baby birds but it is a job for a professional and isn’t easily done. It is better to make sure that the little birds fledge successfully and safely than have to start running a bird clinic.

Finally, use plastic or metal poles to hold the feeders as opposed to wood ones as the cats cannot climb up these to get at the birds above.

Travelling with Your Cat

If you have to travel somewhere and need to take your beloved cat with you, or you are moving home, it can be a very stressful time for your pet. However, the good news is that there are some great tips to help make the process pass smoothly.

“2003-08-10 feather 04″ by User Yiddophile. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Going on a Trip

It may be that you need to take a trip and there’s no one to look after your cat and no suitable place for him or her to go. Therefore, you need to take them with you. No matter where you are travelling, the first step is to get the appropriate travel container.

For cars, a simple pet transport box will do a great job and it can be easily secured in the car with a seatbelt or on the floor behind the front seats where the contained cannot move. Remember to have stops for your cat as well as you and offer them the chance to use a litter tray, which they will probably decline, and take in food and water. Never leave them inside a hot car and make sure there is plenty of airflow during the journey.

If you watch the business travel news, you see people having to jet across the country for business meetings and work related trips and sometimes the cat just has to go with them. Always check out if there are any regulations covering your destination before you leave and make sure your cat has had a health check before leaving. Try to travel in the coolest parts of the day and get as direct a plane as possible to avoid having to change planes. Don’t feed your cat for 2-4 hours before the journey so they don’t get travel sickness.

Moving House

Moving house is stressful for your cat because they are strongly associated with their environment. When moving day comes, isolate your cat to one room with their litter tray, having fed them in the morning. Leave the cat transport box in the room with them and put familiar toys or other items in it so that it smells familiar.

Once you have moved, follow a similar process at the new house. Keep them in one room with familiar items around, feed them and keep them there until all removal people have gone and things have settled down. Let them out of the room, making sure all windows and doors are secured so they can’t escape and allow them access to another room. Once they have their confidence of it, gradually open up other doors so they can explore but you can monitor their progress.

One way of making the rooms seem safe to them is to take a piece of cloth, rub it against their face and tab the scent around the new rooms. This means when they enter it, their scent is already there and will help them settle in.

If your cat goes outside, it is advisable to restrict them to the house for at least two weeks after the move. This lets them feel comfortable in the house before they take on further new environments in the outside world.

Animal Therapy

use a walking cane while exercising

Courtesy of hisashi

Are you among the more than 52 million Americans suffering from the debilitating effects of arthritis? At that figure, it’s no wonder the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention declares arthritis the most common cause of disability. The chronic illness makes everyday activities, such as walking or opening jars, difficult. Of course, there are aids to help out, such as the best walking canes or arthritis gloves, but perhaps one of the most effective therapies available is pet ownership.

Pet owners have long known that their furry family members are great medicine for the heart and soul. Now, it appears the medical community is catching up. Study after study confirms that having a cat or dog around helps people who are dealing with medical issues.

Here’s why:

• Mood Booster Stress is a real detriment to many chronic conditions because it aggravates symptoms. So to de-stress, chill out with your kitty. Spending quality one-on-one time with a pet sends signals to your brain to release serotonin, a feel-good chemical, to battle back levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

• Yoga Instruction Take a few moments to watch your cat and see how often he or she stretches. Felines are notorious for striking a pose, kind of like their own version of yoga. Well, doing stretches like the kind your cat does can help treat your arthritis. Every time your cat makes a yoga-like move, try to imitate it.

• Dutiful Distraction Chronic conditions are labeled chronic because you feel their effects regularly. Some days are better than others, and it’s on those bad days that the disease can consume your focus and energy. That adds stress, which amplifies symptoms and a vicious cycle begins. Research reveals that pets can distract you from that negative tunnel vision. Some animals can even sense when you aren’t feeling well and will step up the attention they give you in response.

• Stroke Prevention While researchers are exactly sure why, studies have shown that cat owners experience fewer strokes than non-cat-owners. It could be because cats calm humans, which leads to better circulation.

• Healthy Hearts A 20-year study followed both cat owners and people who never owned a cat and the results were heart-stopping. The group that never owned or cared for a cat was 40 times more likely to die after a heart attack. In fact, evidence indicates that all kinds of pet owners had a lower risk of dying from cardiac disease.

• Cholesterol Control Maybe one of the reasons why cat lovers have better heart health is because they have lower cholesterol. Separate studies have recorded lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides among pet owners (not specific to cats), than those deprived of the love and affection of a four-legged friend. There’s also proof that pet owners are better at keeping their blood pressure in check. So the next time you catch yourself petting your cat and wondering if you should be doing something “more productive,” remind yourself that you’re actually doing something good for your health.

Play It Up!

Playing with your pets

Courtesy of Cyberbry

When you are home alone with nothing to do, you get bored, right? Well so does your pet, and that’s when trouble can get started. Keeping cats occupied keeps them away from tearing up your furniture and possessions. That’s why having a toy collection for your kitty is important. Whether you want to buy out the pet store of its cat-approved gadgets or sew some cloth ones of your own, having a variety of toys will have your feline active and playful in all the right ways. (Before purchasing a new sewing machine to make one-of-a-kind cat toys, check out some sewing machine reviews first.)

 

Toys to the Rescue

Just like some toys help young children learn various skills, so do toys for pets. What looks like random yet playful activity could actually be a teaching moment for your feline.

 

1. Entertainment and energy expenditure

Of course, toys entertain cats, but when felines are occupied with something fun, they are expending energy. That physical activity is as good for their health as it is for your health. They burn calories, which will keep their muscles better toned and they are less likely to become overweight.

 

2. Alleviate temptation and reduce stress

When pets are bored they are tempted to get into mischief, and that can lead to stress. Boredom and stress might prompt kitties to take our their frustration on your chair legs, curtains and window screens. When they have toys to bat around, they are replacing that boredom and stress with positive, stimulating behavior.

 

Toy Tester

Pet parents should evaluate the toys before they present them to their felines. Make sure they are appropriate in size and content. Cats are not as muscular as dogs, and therefore, should have smaller, more lightweight toys.

 

Plus avoid toys with strings, especially when the cat is unsupervised. Strings pose an entanglement hazard.

 

Also, sometimes simple is best. Your cat may be as happy batting around a ping-pong ball as they are playing with specially designed toys. Then again, your cat may like both. Test out different versions to see what your pet prefers.

 

Something New Again

But just as children can tire of a toy after a while so can your cat. The key to keeping it interested is to rotate the toys in and out. After a week with a ball, take the ball away and replace it with a stuffed creature. The next week, take the stuffed creature away and introduce something else for them to bat at and so on.

 

Also store toys in different locations from time to time. Keep smaller items in their cat condos and larger ones in a cat bed in a different room. This way, when your cat is roaming the house, it will be surprised when he/she finds the toys.

 

Family Fun

Finally, enjoy the fun with your feline. Get down on the cat’s level to play. This interaction helps cement the bond between the animal and its human family. What’s more, it’s fun.

To Sleep or Not to Sleep with Your Cat

Pillows and Sleeping With Your Cat

Courtesy of John Haro

Should your beloved feline friend be allowed to crawl in bed with you or not? This certainly isn’t a new question, and how you answer really boils down to a preference. It’s a personal choice, kind of like how you choose a pillow: Do you pick one based on stuffing and size or do you want the best pillow for neck pain? One person might say stuffing and size while another says neck pain.

 

Cat Bed Pros

If you allow your cat to sleep in bed with you, you’re not alone. According to the American Pet Products Association, 62% of adult cat owners make that decision and another 13% of children snuggle up with their cats.

 

There are definitely some rewards that come from cuddling up to your kitty. Plenty of studies have proven that interaction with your pet is a de-stressing mechanism. Not only can petting your cat and hearing it purr in response help you unwind after a long, busy day, there are physical benefits, too. For example, one research study discovered that people with hypertension lowered their blood pressure when caring for pets.

 

Felines reap rewards, too. Cats continue to be convinced of their importance in your lives. Sleeping together provides that contact. It also may help cats stay warm during cold winter nights.

 

Cat Bed Cons

On the flip side, sleeping with the family cat can be anything but restful. These creatures are known to sleep up to 16 hours a day, but the term “catnap” exists for a reason. Those hours are divided up into many mini chunks. The species just isn’t programmed to snooze for eight hours at a time like us humans. Therefore, your kitty might wake during the night, fidget in bed, or even walk across your body on his or her way to a nighttime adventure.

 

According to a Mayo Clinic survey, more than half of the people who admit to catching zzzzs with their pets experience disrupted sleep, and that can affect human health, such as a lack of attentiveness during the day.

 

Also, health experts cautioned against allowing outdoor cats into your bed. These felines are more susceptible to encountering fleas and worms and then introducing them to the bed, not to mention bringing in dirt and “unexpected gifts” of kills. There is less concern for cats that remain indoors.

 

Bedtime Choices

If you choose to let your cat climb in bed with you or a family member, make sure it’s up to date on all vaccinations and flea treatments. Also, wash the sheets frequently. Not only will human inhabitants appreciate the freshness, but felines like to sleep in clean places, too.

 

And, if you like to have your cat nearby, but not in bed with you, think about putting a cat condo in the bedroom. Tip: Put the unit near a window so the cat can be entertained by the nightlife outside and not mess with your sleep.

Types of Cat Litter

 Selecting the  best cat litter for your cat is a big decision many cat owners wrestle with. Some are cheap and easy to find, but others can be very messy, and some are convenient, but others can be very expensive. Some litter boxes are designed for use by one can and others are best for multiple cats. Other systems are designed with convenience in mind and others are best for budget minded cat owners. There is a lot of information to sift through so here is a general break down of the different cat litter options that are available to you.

 Scoopablehooded litter box

The most common type of litter these are typically used in traditional pan type litter boxes. You pour the litter into the tray and as your cat uses the litter box the litter clumps, making it easier- in theory- to clean the box each day. It is easy to find and is relatively cheap. However this type of litter; has the tendency to get everywhere when your cat digs and it can be tracked around the house by your cat’s paws and fur.  Also some types of scoopable litter creates a lot of dust which can cause problems for both your cat and your family.

 Natural and Biodegradable

Some litters are made of materials that are completely biodegradable. The benefit to this type of cat litter is that it usually is very absorbent so cleaning is made easier and it is also able to be flushed down the toilet or tossed outside. He drawback is that is can be a bit on the expensive side and you will generally have to change the litter out more frequently than with standard cat litter.

automatic cat litter boxCrystal Litter Liners

Crystal Litter Liners: Newer cat litter boxes implement a new and unique system for litter. Many of these litter boxes now use specially designed liners instead of loose gradual litter. The benefits of this is that there is no litter to scoop or worry about getting scattered around the house. Also you simply have to remove the tray line and snap a new one in place. The down side is these are some of the most expensive types of litter tray options, but they are very convenient and are some of the best for odor control and easy cleaning.

 

These are three of the most common types of cat litter options that are available for you. Selecting the best cat litter can be a bit of a daunting task but there are some key factors to keep in mind. If you have several cats that use the litter box, you may be better off with a biodegradable litter or the new crystal liners.  If you have one cat and don’t mind the occasional piece of litter getting into other rooms, then regular scoopable litter is fine for your cat.  Ultimately, it is you and you cat that can decide which is the best cat litter for you both.

Reason For Sneezin’

tiger catsIt is normal for your feline friend to let loose an occasional sneeze or to have a little sneezing fit now and then. But if your cat is sneezing a lot, it may be time to ask your vet about possible causes and treatments. In some cases, the vet may need to take blood or saliva samples to be tested. You will also likely be asked questions about when your cat sneezes the most to see if it is being caused by a particular trigger. Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections may cause problems and it could be that your cat has an upper respiratory infection. Allergies may also be a trigger for a cat sneezing.

 Viral Infections

Viral infections that might be the cause sneezing in cats include:

Feline herpesvirus, Feline calcivirus, Feline infectious peritonitis, Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV), Feline leukemia,Chlamydia, Bordetella and Mycoplasma.

 Maybe It’s This

If your cat is only sneezing on occasion or in certain situations or in certain rooms, or during certain events then allergies might be the underlying cause of the cat sneezing fits. The most common allergens include things like:

Cigarette Smoke

Mold or Mildew

Perfume

Carpet Shampoo

Pest Sprays

Dust

Cat Litter

Air Pollution

Cleaning agents

Candles or Incense

Pollen

Fertilizer

 

 Sneezing Fits

There are many other potential causes that might trigger cat sneezing fits. Sometimes it can be something as simple as an outside stimulus irritating your feline or other times the sneezing can be a sign of a more serious problem.  Symptoms that can cause or be associated with sneezing in cats may be the result of an infections or some other problems. These symptoms may include:

litter of kittensEye problems such as discharge, swelling, or ulcers, excessive nasal discharge, fever, drooling, fatigue or depression, decrease in normal appetite, unexplained or sudden weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, unexplained lumps or knots, wheezing or coughing, dirty and dingy coat, trouble breathing, diarrhea or vomiting,

The occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about, especially if your cat looks and acts normal. Chances are something is irritating their noses and it will clear up in a few days. Make sure you keep your cat indoors and monitor them closely throughout the day to note any changes. It is important to call the vet if there are serious or drastic changes to how your cat is behaving when they are sneezing. Call the vet if  the sneezing is continuous or very frequent, if they sneeze blood, or if any of the symptoms mentioned above are present. They may be signs of an illness or condition that needs veterinary care.

Veterinary Care

Treatment depends on what is causing the condition that is bringing on the sneezing. Medicines and antibiotics might be prescribed, changes in diet and living environment may be needed, or in some cases surgery might be required. You will not know what is causing the cat sneezing fits unless you see your vet, so do not put it off if you are worried about your feline friend.

Cat Illnesses

Aside from the illnesses every cat owner knows about such as colds and liver failure, these are three common cat illnesses that many cat owners do not think of as often as they should. These are issues many owners will have to deal with at some point and time but ones that they might not be as ready or prepared for. These include FIV, FLV, and cancer.

white kittenFIV

Cats that are infected with FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus, may not show any obvious symptoms until many years later, and often the symptoms are noticed far too late to do much to help the cats. Although the virus is slow-acting, the cat’s immune system becomes very compromised and they become more susceptible to other infections or diseases. Many cat owners have routine FIV checks done by their vets, especially if their cat has spent any time outdoors or has gotten into fights with other cats.

Infected cats who are well taken care of and live indoors and have a stress free environment to live in can have a long happy life. In most cases, FIV is passed from cat to cat mostly through bite wounds such as those associated with outdoor cat fights. Another, less common mode of transmission for this cat illness is from a mother to her kittens. There does not seem to be any evidence that sharing food bowls and litter boxes, or other friendly interaction with cats can transfer FIV.

FLV

Though it has been around for some time, it was not until the 1960s that feline leukemia virus, FLV, was first officially discovered. It is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that attacks a cat’s immune system, much like FIV but to a different extent. It is among the leading causes of death upside down black catin domesticated house cats. Because the virus may not produce visible symptoms for some time, any sick cat should be tested for the condition. It is contagious to other cats, but not to humans or other animals species. Other cats that live with an infected cat can contract feline leukemia. It is a common cat illness that can be passed through litter boxes and shared food and water dishes.

Cancer

The prevalence and cases of feline cancer has been steadily increasing for the past decade. Advances in veterinary medicine make it easier to keep our feline friends healthier for longer and in many cases cancers are not seen in younger healthier cats. It is when they get old that cancer diagnoses seems to increase. This is paradox that may owners run into- they can have their cats live longer, free of other cat illnesses, but they are more likely to die from cancer. While the cause of most cancers remains unknown, environmental factors and genetic dispositions can make cancer more likely in some cats. Cancers can be classified as benign or malignant and while a cat may be able to live several years after a cancer diagnosis, both diagnosis can cause long term problems for the feline.

Most cat owners know to look for cat illnesses like colds and liver disease and digestion issues but these are some of the common illnesses that cat owners need to be on the lookout for.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure

It is estimated that as many as 16 out of 1,000 cats seen by a vet will have chronic renal disease.  All cats are susceptible but some breeds have a harder time with it and older cats are often the ones to develop this condition. Kidney failure in cats can take place slowly so symptoms are not noticed right away and when they finally are it may be too late for any effective treatments.

 long hair catSymptoms

Symptoms can come on gradually over months or years and they also may vary and some symptoms may be in one cat with kidney disease and may not be present with kidney failure in cats at other times. The most common symptoms are:

 

  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Blood in the urine
  • cats playingSeizures and comas
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Acute blindness

Causes

Causes of kidney failure are far reaching and can vary greatly. It can include kidney disease, urinary blockage or abnormal growth, some medications, lymphoma, diabetes, and a number of genetic factors. Owners of Abyssinian or Persian cats need to pay special attention as these breeds are known for being susceptible to chronic kidney problems at all ages.

Diagnosis 

Kidney failure in cats can be treated with different methods and procedures. Your cat will likely be diagnosed by your vet and will then undergo a complete blood and urinary work up to get a full diagnosis. The vet will also likely ask you questions about the cat’s habits and behaviors to see what is out of the ordinary. X-ray or ultrasounds might also be required to get a more detailed idea of what is going on inside your cat’s body. Often, the kidneys will become abnormally small because of the chronic kidney issues. These are the sort of factors that the vet will look for.

 

meows in a rowTreatment

Long term kidney failure in cats can lead to sever dehydration and related problems so that will be addressed as part of the treatments. Dietary protein might also be restricted, since it can make the problem much worse. Although there is no cure for chronic renal failure, your vet can help you make your feline friend as comfortable as possible and still give them a good life. Maintaining hydration is critical. You must always make sure your cat has enough clean fresh water available to keep from having to use IV fluids.

 

Living and Management

Chronic kidney failure in cats is a progressive disease. Cats that have been diagnosed with this disease should be monitored constantly and have routine check ups to look for any changes. Your cat’s prognosis can be impacted on the age, breed, and lifestyle of the feline. Sometimes you will need to make adjustments to your cat’s daily life to ensure they stay safe, happy, and hea