The Catvocate™ blog

The latest scientific and veterinary feline research to educate cat lovers on how we can best take care of our feline friends. Written by Dr. Liz Bales, VMD.

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Top 3 Mistakes You Are Making When Playing With Your Cat

 

1- You aren’t consistent - Cats thrive on predictable human contact.  Schedule two 5 minute play sessions with your cat daily.  And try to be consistent with your timing. Seriously, you have 10 min in your day to have fun with your cat.  It will be good stress relief for both of you.


2- You are boring - The occasional flipping of the fishing pole toy or rolling of the bell ball at your cat isn’t cutting it.  Your cat loves when you actually simulate the scared mouse he loves to hunt in his predatory dreams.  To maximize your cat’s fun, make the toy act like prey. Start with the toy near your cat and help it flee from your fierce hunter, varying speed and direction - ducking under furniture, and dashing around corners. At the end of each hunt, let your cat catch the toy and savor victory before the next adventure.  


3- You get them all excited and there is no completion - Cats are hard wired to stay excited when they hunt, catch and play.  They know that the hunt is over when they catch and eat their prey - this is their signal to relax.  You can work with your cat’s natural instincts to complete this cycle and end playtime satisfied and relaxed.  When you decide playtime is over, let your cat catch her final prey and reward your hunter with a treat.  

 


Congratulations!  You have just fulfilled feline bliss!

Celebrate National Take your Cat to the Vet Day


Tuesday, Aug 22 is National Take Your Cat to the Vet Day.  These days it seems there is a “National Day” for just about everything, but for your cat, this one is really important.  


Did you know that less than half the cats in America see the vet on a regular basis?  We are doing a much better job getting our dogs to the vet.   8 out of 10 American dogs see the vet annually, so why are we ignoring the health needs of our cats?


It is easy to forget that our cats need regular medical checkups and care, but they do!  Here are the top 4 reasons to make your cat’s vet appointment today.


1)You can’t tell your cat’s health just by looking at it and loving it.

At least once a year, a vet should examine its heart and lungs, dental health, and feel its belly to help keep your cat healthy and catch troubles before they become a big problem.


2)Cats are masters of disguise.  

They don’t show pain and discomfort until it is extreme.  Your vet will perform a physical exam which might find sources of pain and discomfort.  Once identified, the vet can help resolve it.  


3)Vaccines.  

Even if your cat lives indoors only, it needs some vaccines to be healthy and protected under the law.  All cats are required to be up to date on rabies vaccines.  Crazy stuff happens – bats and raccoons can get into your house and put your cat at risk!!!


4)Avoid creepy crawly things.

There are lots of creepy crawly things that can affect cats, like fleas, ticks and heartworms.  Your vet can help you assess the parasites your cat is at risk of carrying and how to prevent them.


So, pick up the phone and make your cat’s appointment today.  If you don’t have one, here’s a great resource.  These vets have had extra training and certification on cat handling practices to make sure that your precious kitty has the best experience possible. https://catfriendly.com/find-a-veterinarian/




Open Letter to Cat Dads

 

Dear Cat Dads,

 

No one likes to be ignored, and you guys have been flying under the radar.

 

I want you to know that I know you are out there, and I am listening.

 

The stereotype of “the cat owner” is strong.  I don’t need to reinforce it here.  And, as stereotypes go, this one is wrong too.  Very wrong. 

 

The cat parent is everyone, from millennials to Gen-X’ers to Baby Boomers.  And, I don’t have to tell you gentlemen, but a lot of cat parents are men.  In fact, almost ½ of all millennial cat parents are men. 

 

It is time to celebrate the Cat Dad! Your cat means a lot to you!  As a veterinarian, writer and speaker on cat care, I want to curate the best information I can to help strengthen the bond between you and your cat, from the basics in cat care to cutting edge science.

 

So, tell me, you unsung heroes of the feline/human family, what is important to you?  What do you want to know more about?  What do you want to say about being a Cat Dad?  It’s time to step out of the shadows and be heard!

 

I’m listening……

 

It is official.  A new report was released last week. Cat obesity is an epidemic.  https://www.banfield.com/state-of-pet-health/obesity

Without meaning to, are you putting your cat at risk?  Here are the top 3 ways cats are getting fat.

1 – The All Day Buffet packs on the pounds!

Do you fill up the bowl once or twice a day?  Stop feeding giant portions of food at one time.   Did you know that your cat’s stomach is the size of a ping pong ball? Think about how much of a meal a mouse would make. Feeding dry food?  Your cat should eat small portions of food (1-2 TBSP) about 5 times a day.  Feeding wet?  Put out small portions throughout the day and evening.

2- Your cat is a couch potato!

Just like the rest of us, cats need exercise.  Sleeping, laying around and eating all day are a big part of the problem.  The best way to get your cat moving is by engaging their natural instinct to hunt.  Take those 5 portions of food and turn them into your cat’s natural exercise. Hide them!  Your cat will instinctively hunt around your house. This will activate her mind and body at meal time…just like nature intended. The weight will gradually melt away and the result is a happy, healthy cat.

3- You are an automatic treat dispenser.

If you are like most of us, your cat has you well trained to give him treat after treat on demand.  A few meows and an impossibly cute stare, and you are wrist deep in a bag of cat treats. The next time your cat comes looking for treats, grab his favorite toy and play a game.  Finish your play session with just one treat.  Exercise.  Bonding time.  Love….  Mission accomplished.

Follow these three tips and your cat will be defying the statistics in no time.  Bonus – your cat will live a longer, healthier, happier life and you will have fewer vet bills!

 

To many Catvocates, Cats are like potato chips - you can't have just one without going back for more.  Adding one of these irresistible cuties to your current household can be absolute bliss for your solo cat, the added cat company might be exactly what they were secretly wishing for. Other cat pairings are not exactly matches made in heaven.

Cats have an endlessly fascinating social structure.  In nature, they can live alone or in groups, but they always hunt alone.  Experts call them solitary hunters.  Since cats don't depend on each other for food, they can be choosey about the company that they keep. How can you tell if your cats are getting along?  There are 5 key signs that your cat household is zen:

1 -  Bonded cats rub their bodies and faces on each other.  Cats have glands that contain pheromones on their faces and rubbing their faces together co-mingles these pheromones and creates contentment between bonded cats. 

2 - Cats that enjoy each others company will stand next to each other and intertwine their tails.  This may be another way of co-mingling pheromones. 

3 - Let sleeping cats lie. Cats that feel safe and comfortable with one another will rest or sleep cuddled up together.  So nice for them, and so adorable for us to watch.

4 - Cat friends that know each other well can romp and roughhouse without taking things too far.  This sort of play between cats is great for exercise as well as for bonding.

5 - Allogrooming.  Allo-what?  Cats that are bonded will lick and groom each other. Friends that groom together, stick together.

Here's wishing peace and togetherness for all of your multicat households.  If things are not going so well, stay tuned for some help.

 

 

You plan to give your kitten the best of everything.  But, there is one more step to give your kitten the best chance for a healthy life and a strong bond with you.

Read More

 

 

 

The multi-cat household can be challenging.  How do you create harmony for all of your beloved cats?  Veterinary behavioral science is in hot pursuit of the answer.  We know that adding environmental enrichment, and multiple and separate resources is the key to happiness in the multicat household.  And cat lovers everywhere want to know more!  A fantastic new study has just come out discussing the impact of adding vertical space to cats’ living space.  


Dr. Sara Ellis, feline behavior specialist with iCatCare does a thorough review of the study here.

https://icatcare.org/icatcare-talks-science-does-shelving-provide-environmental-enrichment-indoor-group-housed-cats


In summary, having places to climb improved relationships between cats, except at mealtimes.  For these cats, meals were fed in bowls.


Dr. Ellis reports “The study has highlighted that arousal may be high around feeding time in cats fed twice a day, leading to increased agonistic interactions. This finding has especially important implications for multi-cat households, and highlights the importance of a cat’s feeding regimen on their behaviour and welfare. Cats are naturally solitary hunters, just like their wild ancestor. Since they hunt alone, their prey are generally small in size, such as small rodents. The average mouse only contains about 30 kilocalories, meaning cats must hunt, kill and eat around ten mice a day in order to meet their daily energy and nutrient requirements. Therefore, cats have adapted to eat multiple small meals over the course of a 24-hour period; this includes eating during the night, when their nocturnal prey are active. Thus feeding cats just twice a day, and out of a bowl which requires no expression of hunting behaviours to acquire their food, may be causing frustration and boredom. In order to mimic the cat’s natural feeding habit of eating little and often, owners should divide their cats’ daily food ration into several portions (iCatCare recommends a minimum of five), which should be fed throughout the 24-hour period. Feeding during the night can be achieved by using puzzle feeders. Puzzle feeders are objects that hold food and must be manipulated in different ways to release this food. These can be filled and left for cats overnight, as well as during the day if the owner is away at work. Puzzle feeders also encourage mental and physical stimulation of cats during feeding, and allow them to express some of their natural hunting behaviour.”


Like all of us, cats need to feel safe in their homes. To best understand what makes a cat feel safe, we look at the life of a cats in nature. In the wild, may cats prefer to live in familiar social groups, but they hunt and eat alone.  When cats feel threatened by another cat, a predator, or other threat, they climb and hide to avoid these perceived dangers.  Fighting is the last resort when all other avoidance techniques have failed.  

Having a safe place to climb and hide is integral to a cat’s well being. Cats like to go vertical.  Height gives cats the ability to survey the area for potential danger and makes them feel secure. If there is more than one cat in the home, there are some extra measures required to provide a safe space. Cats may use the physical space to assert status. As I said, cats prefer hiding and avoidance to conflict.  Conflict between cats intensifies around food, water, litter boxes, and cherished resting places.  And mealtime from a bowl in a multicat household, as highlighted in this study, is a major source of conflict.

Understanding the way that our cats see their world and how they feel safe in it, is the first step to successful cat ownership.  With a few simple additions to our homes, we can create a world where our cats natural instincts are met.  


For more information on feeding the multicat household, click here https://nobowlcat.com/pages/multicat-households

We have a very exciting announcement!  The NoBowl Feeding System is helping cats around the globe live healthier happier lives, but we want to do more.  We are partnering with Winn Feline Foundation, to help advance feline research.  Simply use the coupon code CATSWINN at checkout and we will donate 10% of your purchase to Winn Feline Foundation to help cats everywhere. Read More

Well, I have some bad news for you.  Being woken up from a sound sleep in the night or early morning hours by a hungry, nudgy and active cat is less than desirable for a human.  Unfortunately, this undesirable behavior is purrrfectly normal for a cat.  I will tell you why and explain to you what you can do about it.

Let’s start with normal cat behavior.  If your cat lived outdoors, it would need to catch somewhere between 8-13 mice or birds a day to stay fed.  To keep up with this need, your cat would hunt both during the day and night, with lots of recharging naps in between.  Many of your cat’s favorite meals would be most active and available during the night and the early morning hours. So, your clever cat is programed to be alert and in hunting mode at these times…which is precisely when you would like to be hard at work on your REM sleep!

To make matters worse, your schedule likely reinforces this.  Most of our cats have little to no stimulation during the day.  You are at work, the house is quiet, and your cat has nothing to do but sleep.  For your cat, the active day begins when you get home from work and your home springs to life.

So how can you use this knowledge of normal cat behavior to redirect your nudgy cat and get some sleep?!  You can solve this problem in two easy steps.

1-   Make night time hunting time!  Understanding that it is normal for cats to hunt overnight, and eat multiple small meals in the 24 hour period is all the info you need.  Give your cat the opportunity to hunt for their food overnight, instead of eating from a bowl all day!  The best way to do this is with The NoBowl Feeding System™.  Before you turn in for the night, measure your cat’s favorite dry food or treats, split them between the five NoBowls™ and hide them outside of the bedroom.  Now, your hungry cat can fulfill its natural instincts to hunt and eat overnight…and you can finally get some uninterrupted sleep.

2-   Don’t give in.  Your cat has been training you to wake up and amuse or feed him/her for some time now.  So, it might take a few days for your cat to learn this new way of life.  Stay strong! Don’t give in!  Pull the covers over your head and ride it out.  In a few days, your cat will learn that it is way more fun to hunt and eat NoBowls™ than it is to wake up his/her cranky, sleepy human.

Good night!  Sleep tight!

https://nobowlcat.com/collections/shop

 

Here’s something alarming that few cat owners know.  More than half of the cats in America are overweight. And that number has nearly doubled in the past 10 years.

Alright America….this is a wake-up call.  While a chubby kitty is adorable, that chub is making them sick.  Overweight cats face a lot of expensive and uncomfortable health struggles including..

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • urinary disease.  

And sadly, overweight cats live shorter lives than cats of a healthy weight.

How we feed our cats is just as important as what we feed our cats.  The way we are doing it now is not working. We have got to change the way we feed our cats to prevent feline obesity.

Here are 7 steps to keep your cat at a healthy weight.  

1 - Know your cat’s weight and what is a healthy weight for your cat. Studies show only 10% of us can tell if our cat is overweight.  It might be time for a trip to the vet to get an objective opinion.

2- Monitor your cat’s weight every couple of months. You see your cat every day.   It is hard to see the changes. We need some facts here to keep things on track.  

3- Know how much food your cat should be eating.  Ask your vet or calculate this based on their weight.  Measure this out in food and treats and you don’t feed more than this in a 24 hour period.

4- Stop being a human automatic treat dispenser.  

The next time you think your cat is asking for extra food or treats, grab their favorite toy and have a play session instead.  Love them with some healthy exercise...not food.

5- Get rid of the all day buffet.

Cats are hunters.  In nature they hunt and eat lots of small prey.  They need activity and multiple small meals throughout the day and night.  Here’s something you probably don’t know.  A cat’s stomach is designed to be the size of a ping-pong ball, just the right size for a mouse.  Not a heaping bowl of food.  

Just putting down a big bowl is not serving your cat’s needs.  This way of feeding is a big part of the obesity problem.  

6 - Feed multiple small portions of food a day - Feed 5 small meals a day.  Remember that measured amount?  Cats are predators.  They are programmed to hunt for their food.  In fact, in nature they spend up to 80% of their waking hours seeking and hunting their food.  For a cat, mealtime is not just about getting food, it’s also the time that your cat needs to act out the hunt. This is their built in exercise.

 

If you are feeding wet food, break the day’s portion up into 5 small meals.  And to get your cat moving, forget about feeding in the same spot in the kitchen every day.  Take the wet food dishes and put them around the house...like up on a bookcase or windowsill.  Now your cat is getting small meals and hunting for them.  

7- To best serve your cat’s dry food meals, use a hunting system, where you split the dry food into 5 portions and hide them.  Your cat has to hunt out its portion of food and play with it to dispense the food before eating it.  

Giving your cat exercise and small portions of food a least 5 times a day is the optimal way to keep your cat happy and healthy.


http://vri.cz/docs/vetmed/61-6-295.pdf


http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/7/1940S.full


http://jarvm.com/articles/Vol3Iss2/LUND.pdf


http://petobesityprevention.org/food-calories-2/




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