Cats - What to Expect
Outside Cats, Inside Cats
Should a cat be kept indoors or allowed to roam freely outdoors? Every cat owner has an opinion. While cats on a farm maybe kept as working animals (destroying pests), most veterinarians will recommend that you keep your cat indoors.
The world outside can be hostile in the city. Cats face the dangers of traffic, unappreciative neighbours, dangerous animals and deadly diseases. Not to mention the fact that cats like to get into and investigate small spaces, such as the under bed of cars and trucks.
Many cities, such as Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Saskatoon and Winnipeg have animal control bylaws, controlling cats at large. Any cat that is off the owner’s premises, and not under the control of the owner, is considered “at large.” Please check the bylaws in your home town.
Another benefit of keeping your cat indoors is that they cannot breed unchecked. There are far too many unwanted kittens, which can be remedied by being a responsible cat owner. For every cat that is allowed to roam freely, there is one litter of kittens! This unchecked breeding is not fair to the kittens, the cat or the animal shelter that ends up looking after these unwanted cats. Regardless if you plan to have an indoor or outdoor cat, always have them spayed or neutered first. Please speak to a pet counsellor to learn more about Petland’s spay and neuter program.
Should you allow your cat to go outside, keep her in the yard on a tie-out. Tie-outs come in lengths of up to 30 feet (9.14 meters), allowing your cat a great deal of freedom. Cotton tie-outs are best for cats, as they are light and allow them to move freely. The tie-out, which is attached to a harness (not a collar) can be secured on a stake or on a clothesline (which allows more range for your cat). There are various other alternatives to keep your cat in the yard. Ask a pet counsellor for more suggestions.
Is It Normal For Cats To Eat Grass?
If you do decide to bring your cat outdoors, she may display some unusual behaviour, such as eating grass! No one really knows why a cat (or dog) eats grass. The old belief is that the grass helps to settle an upset stomach or induces vomiting. Many cats eat grass without any adverse side effects and they seem to really enjoy it. Cats are carnivores, which means that the admission of grass is not a nutritional need, but likely a behavioural one.
Some cats do not stop at grass, but move onto plants. If your cat has a taste for plants, you will need to “cat proof” your house and yard. Some plants can be poisonous to cats, and pesticides sprayed outdoors can be lethal. The answer is to provide your cat with her own cat grass. Petland sells cat grass in an easy-to-grow container. To deter your cat from eating houseplants, use a spray repellent or wrap sticky tape or tinfoil around the leaves.
If She’s Thirsty She’ll Drink–Or Will She?
Most cats do not drink enough water. Dehydration in cats is a common problem. Chronically dehydrated cats can develop kidney disease and suffer other health problems as a result. Always having fresh water available is particularly important for cats. Most cats tend to drink more if the water is fresh, clean or moving (e.g. dripping from a tap). Cats seem to be very aware of the temperature and taste of water. Some cats do not like the taste of tap water. If you live in an area where water has a significant odour or taste (chlorine, iron, sulfur, etc.), consider giving your cat bottled or Brita® water. Also consider refrigerating the tap water to improve its taste. Some cats enjoy ice cubes made from flavoured broth (tuna or salmon juice mixed with water and frozen).
Make sure the water bowl (glass, ceramic or stainless steel are recommended) is filled to the brim at all times. Cats have very sensitive whiskers and do not like putting their face into a bowl; a bigger bowl may be necessary. Keep the water bowl clean (cats have a keen sense of smell and are easily turned off by odours on the edge of the bowl). The water dish should be washed at least every other day, and kept away from the litter box area.
If your cat prefers to drink water from a tap, make sure she can always get to the tap (don’t lock her out of the bathroom if that is where she likes to drink). If your schedule permits, turn the tap on for your cats as often as possible throughout the day.
A drinking fountain for cats may be the key to a healthier pet. Select a fountain water dish with a carbon filter, since cats are more sensitive to odours and tastes than we are! The Catit® Design Fresh & Clear® Drinking Fountain responds to your pet’s need for a continuous supply of water. Re-circulating water with greater exposure to oxygen provides fresh-tasting, cool, filtered water, which your cat will most likely enjoy.
Canned food is an excellent way to encourage water consumption, because it is high in water content and most cats love the taste. For a fussy cat, warm it up in the microwave to enhance its smell. As long as there isn’t a weight management concern, try to feed canned food two to three times a day. Water also may be added to the canned food (do so slowly).
What’s THAT on my carpet?! Hairball Prevention…
Cats are extremely clean animals; they are constantly grooming themselves. Although this extensive grooming makes your cat look good, it can present a problem.
As a cat licks her coat, the loose hair gets caught on her rough tongue and is ingested. Since a cat cannot digest this matter, she needs to get it out of her system. How that happens, most commonly, is a hairball. Your cat may pass some of the hair or it may get caught in the intestine and cause a blockage.
Daily brushing of your cat is the best way to remove the bulk of the extra hair. For medium to long hair cats, use a slicker brush or the FURminator®. For short hair cats, use a natural bristle brush or a rubber brush. Another great reason to brush everyday is to stay familiar with the quality of your cat’s coat.
As the seasons change, so may your cat’s coat. The coat may become dry and the skin may begin to flake. This may be caused by the dry climate of winter. Supplements like Vitacoat® for Cats, The Missing Link® Feline Formula™ or Johnny Be Good® Coat Booster® have a dramatic effect on coat quality, shedding and flaky skin.
Even with brushing and a great diet, the possibility of your cat getting a hairball still exists. The best way to deal with hairballs is to use a hairball remedy paste twice a week, which will help your cat to pass the hairball through her system. If your cat is opposed to hairball paste, there are hairball treats, and hairball remedies in the form of treats that are usually readily accepted by cats.
The quality of your cat’s diet also has a lot to do with the quality of her coat. A high quality diet will directly affect the texture and sheen of your cat’s coat. A quality premium cat food includes essential vitamins and minerals, which nourishes your cat’s skin and coat, and helps to promote a healthy renewal of her coat after normal shedding.
Hey! That’s My Couch You’re Scratching!
One of the most common frustrations regarding cats is, “How do I keep my cat from scratching my couch, carpet, chair, etc.?” This is probably the most undesirable cat behaviour.
It helps to know why cats scratch. As a cat’s claws grow, the outer layer loosens and peels off. To help in this nail shedding, cats look to find something to sink their claws into and pull off this outer layer. Cats will also scratch to leave their personal mark in order to let other cats know that this is their area. Cats have scent glands located between their pads and on the pads. When they scratch, their personal identification mark (smell) is left behind. Although people can’t smell their mark, other cats and animals can.
Each cat has their own preference of what they want to scratch. Scratching is a behaviour that cannot be eliminated, so what you need to do is manage it. That means your cat needs to be directed to what is appropriate to scratch. A scratching post must be supplied otherwise your furniture will be chosen. Scratching posts are most effective if brought into the home at the same time as your new cat.
If your cat does not take to the scratching post right away, rub some catnip, spray catnip or honeysuckle on the post every other day for a week (sometimes catnip will not work for young kittens).
The scratching post should be placed near your kitten’s favourite sleeping place or near the litter box. Cats often scratch immediately after a nap or using the litter box. If the scratching post is positioned in a convenient place for your cat, when she gets the urge to scratch, she’ll be more likely to use it. Reward the cat when she uses the post. If your cat is choosing to use your furniture, some sort of negative reinforcement needs to be used.
A few ideas to discourage your cat are:
- A long distance water gun (don’t let your cat see you!)
- Attaching tinfoil to the area scratched on furniture as a deterrent (tinfoil feels about as good on your cat’s pads as it does on your fillings)
- Sticky pads or tape
- Repellent sprays
- Cat claw scissors and coagulant. Your cat’s claws need to be kept clipped every few weeks.
- A loud noise when your cat is in the process of scratching the wrong area. Petland carries products that release a high-pitched sound (and if selected a pressurized blast of air), which instantly discourages your cat to be in the area.
Should I Declaw My Cat?
Declawing is a surgical procedure to permanently remove the claws. When a cat is declawed, a part of her paw is actually amputated in order to completely remove the nail. It would be the same as removing your finger at the first joint. It is painful for a cat physically, as well as mentally. Cats have a natural survival instinct and by declawing her, she is losing her defense mechanism and her ability to provide for herself. There are risks that are also involved with this type of procedure. Therefore declawing is a last resort alternative.
Cleanliness and Safety
All pets must be kept in a clean environment to avoid the spread of dirt and contaminants to yourself and others. Always keep your pet's home clean, and wash your hands before and after handling your pet or cleaning his home.
Please remember that all pets may bite or scratch, and may transmit diseases to humans. Young children, infants, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and the elderly are at greater risk of infections and should use caution when in contact with pets or their homes.