PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser
The PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser is a great way of providing foraging and exercise for indoor cats. The nice thing about this puzzle feeder is that it is super easy to use and the holes are adjustable for different size treats/foods. The adjustment can also work to add an extra level of difficulty by closing the holes down smaller and making the cat work harder to get the food out. I like to hide one of these somewhere in my home on days when I’m going to be at work for many hours as it gives my cats something to do.The PetSafe SlimCat Toy is dishwasher safe on the top rack so cleaning is easy. Cats that are new to foraging and puzzle feeders will find The PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy a good place to start.
Does your cat dream of being a big game hunter? Does she feel the pull of the wild?
The wilds are pretty risky so bring the excitement indoors with our hand tied FlyToys. Each exceptional toy is the work of skilled craftspeople and is designed to look and move like insects, reptiles, frog, mice and other small creatures.
Each FlyToy is made of both natural and synthetic materials and is permanently attached to a clear line and clear 18" rod handle. As with all toys please put away when not in use and do not eat any part of any toy.
The MetPet Fly Toys are my absolute favourite cat toys. They are small and lightweight and move like natural cat prey. At first they may look delicate but they are incredibly well made and very durable. My cats love the Fly Toys and play rough with them. Despite this abuse all of my Fly Toys have lasted for several years. I don’t believe I have encountered a cat that has not loved playing with this toy. I always take a Fly Toy on my cat sitting visits because I have found all cats respond to this toy. Even lazy and elderly cats will perk up when I get this toy out. My own cats are so crazy about the Fly Toys they will try to break into the closet where they are kept while not in use. Do keep in mind the MetPet Fly Toy is an interactive toy and should not be left lying around when not in use.
Myth: Cats have nine lives.
Fact: Like all living things, cats only have one life. It is possible that this myth got started because cats do seem able to get themselves out of difficult situations.
Myth: Cats need to drink milk.
Fact: Once weaned, cats do not need milk. Adult cats are often lactose intolerant and cow’s milk can give them diarrhea. If milk is given it should be small amounts infrequently.
Myth: Cats only purr when they are happy.
Fact: Cats often purr when they are content and receiving attention from humans, but it is not the only reason they will purr. Cats have been known to purr when they are in pain and dying to provide comfort to themselves. Cats also purr to comfort their kittens.
Myth: Cats always land on their feet.
Fact: More often than not, cats will land on their feet when they fall from a height. This is because they have what is called a ‘righting reflex’, whereby they’re able to twist around very quickly in the air when falling. They also have very flexible backbones, which help them in doing this. But sadly, this isn’t always the case. Every year animal hospitals treat cats which have fallen from great heights, often out of windows several storeys high. Some recover but many do not.
Myth: Cats are low maintenance pets that don’t require much care.
Fact: Cats may not need to be walked several times a day like dogs, but they still require appropriate nutrition, exercise, medical care, mental stimulation, and human interaction.
Myth: Cats should have one litter of kittens before they are neutered.
Fact: Female cats are less likely to develop certain cancers if they are neutered BEFORE their first heat. There is absolutely no medical or behavioural need for cats to have kittens.
Myth: Cats are nocturnal.
Fact: Cats are crepuscular – which means they are most active at dawn and dusk, when hunting opportunities are rife and there’s enough light for them to see well.
Myth: Cats are cold and aloof. If you want a loving pet get a dog.
Fact: Many cats are very loving. Cats are not dogs, they are very different animals and comparisons don't make much sense. Dogs are by nature pack animals, while cats are more independent. Cats that enjoy the same status in the family as dogs are often just as loving, attentive and present as their canine counterpoints.
Myth: Dry cat food is best for cats because it helps clean their teeth.
Fact: Crunchy food isn't any better at brushing and flossing your cat’s teeth than it is yours. From a nutritional standpoint, dry food is the worst thing you can feed your cat – it is devoid of both the healthful, unadulterated protein and moisture cats need in order to stay healthy.
Myth: Cats are unhappy unless able to roam outdoors.
Fact: While an older cat who has been outdoors for years might be unhappy at being kept inside, cats that grow up indoors, even in apartments, can be very happy, as long as they are provided with plenty of interactive play, scratching posts, window perches for looking outside, and climbing towers for exercise. There are also a number of safe compromises for those times when you (or your cat) want him to be outdoors for fresh air and sunshine.
Myth: Indoor cats cannot get diseases and thus don’t require veterinary care.
Fact: Indoor cats are still exposed to organisms that are carried through the air or brought in on a cat owner's shoes or clothing. Even indoor cats can suffer from kidney disease, cystitis, hyperthyroidism and any number of other diseases and disorders. Preventive veterinary care is needed for all cats.
Myth: Neutered cats automatically gain weight.
Fact: Most cats are neutered around six months of age, a time when their metabolisms are naturally slowing down and they no longer require the frequent feedings of kitten hood. If the cat continues to eat the same amount, it may gain weight. Cat guardians can help their cats stay fit by providing exercise and not over-feeding.
Myth: Declawing is not harmful to the cat.
Fact: Declawing is a multiple amputation of the claws, claw bed, and the first joint. Studies have shown that declawed cats suffer from lifelong pain, are prone to lifelong problems with litter box use, are more likely to bite and lack confidence. Declawing is mutilation and is banned in many countries.
As a behaviour consultant and cat sitter I have been going into cat guardians’ homes for 15 years and I have noticed that several basic feline welfare mistakes tend to crop up again and again. It is not that cat guardians don’t care about their cats rather they don’t take the time to view their homes from a cat’s perspective.
Litter Boxes-are by far the area where most cat guardians will make mistakes. Usually this involves cleanliness. Whenever I ask a cat guardian how often he or she scoops out the litter box the answer is almost always 'daily'. Yet, when I go into the home I find litter boxes that have obviously not been scooped for several days. Occasionally I find litter boxes that are in truly appalling conditions. I once encountered one that had not been scooped in so long that the stools were covered in white mould.
Cats are extremely clean creatures. They do not like to step into dirty litter boxes any more than we want to use an unflushed toilet. Indeed, some cats are so fastidious that they won’t step into anything but a freshly scooped litter box, and there are cats who prefer to have one litter box for urine and another one for stool. If the litter box is dirty the cat will likely find somewhere else in the home to eliminate. It is always best to be proactive where litter boxes are concerned. Preventing litter box avoidance is always the best option.
Another common mistake cat guardians make with litter boxes is not locating them in cat friendly areas. Litter boxes are tucked away in basements, laundry rooms, closets, and bathrooms. This isn’t necessarily bad, unless the litter box in the basement is so out of sight that it rarely gets cleaned, or the litter box in the laundry room is near loud appliances that may frighten a cat. No one wants a litter box right in the middle of their living room, and it is true that it is best not to locate the litter box in highly trafficked areas, but one key factor that is high on a cat’s list while eliminating is being able to see escape routes while in the litter box. In nature cats are vulnerable to predators when eliminating. Being able to see escape routes is a hardwired survival mechanism.
Not having enough litter boxes is another common mistake of the cat guardian. The general rule of thumb is one box per cat plus one. So, if you have one cat you should have two litter boxes and those two litter boxes should not be placed right next to each other or in the same general area. If you have three cats you should ideally have four litter boxes, and again these should be located in different areas of the home. Another litter box mistake I often see is litter boxes that are too small for normal sized adult cats. Cats prefer the litter box to be 1.5 times the length of their body (from tip of nose to base of the tail).
Food and water issues are another area where I see repeated mistakes. Humans tend to think that cats prefer their food and water dishes next to each other, because that is what we would want. But cats do not like to eat near their water source. Again, this is a hardwired survival technique. Cats do not wish to foul their water source with their food or attract predators to their water. Nor do cats want either their food or water located near the litter box or sleeping areas.
Not cleaning the food and water dishes daily. I have had clients tell me I don’t have to bother cleaning the food dish after each meal. Who wants to eat off a dirty dish? Cats don’t, they possess 200 million scent receptors compared to a humans’ meager 5 million. Foul odours in the food dish can even cause some cats to become anorexic and this can lead to serious medical problems.
Leaving dry food out at all times. Cats are not cattle being fattened on feed lots but sadly many cat guardian’s are feeding their cats as if they are. Firstly, dry food is not a species appropriate food for cats. It is too low in protein, too high in carbs and far too low in moisture. Secondly, dry food left out all day does go stale and in humid climates can become rancid. If you must feed your cat dry food feed very small amounts (as a treat) and make the cat ‘hunt’ for the food by using a treat ball or food puzzle. This is a far more natural way for a cat to eat dry food. In nature cats will eat multiple small meals each day AFTER having spent energy hunting that meal down and not every hunt is successful.
Lack of daily interactive play. Cats need to stalk, pounce, run and leap and cat guardians can provide for these needs by playing with their cats with interactive ‘wand’ type toys on a daily basis. Several scheduled 10-15 minute play sessions will make a world of difference in the mental and physical well being of your cat. I see many behaviour problems that are solved in part by implementing routine play sessions. Play alleviates stress and anxiety and helps build confidence. Interactive play is therapy for cats!
Lack of vertical space. Just as cats need to play they also need to jump and climb. Cats are able to jump 5 times their own height. Getting up high helps cats feel safer and more in control of their environment. Adding vertical space in the form of cat trees and climbing shelves is adding valuable territory for your cat and can help alleviate tensions in multi-cat households.
Lack of veterinary care. All cats should be examined by a veterinarian (but not necessarily vaccinated) once a year. Even if your cat seems perfectly healthy an annual trip to the vet is important. Cats are masters at hiding illness and are able to hide serious illnesses and disease processes until it is too late to affect treatment. As cats age they should be examined more frequently so that problems can be picked up and treated before they reach crisis point. There are many reasons why caring cat guardians don’t take their cats in for annual exams the most common being that it is such an unpleasant experience for both cat and guardian and causes much stress. In these cases the cat guardian should look into the possibility of a house call veterinarian. Most larger cities and towns have veterinarians who specialize in house-calls.
Just as human medical recommendations change based on the most recent scientific findings, so do Veterinary medical recommendations. Within the past few years, veterinary science has discovered a link between several serious disease processes and dry cat food.
Until recently, dry food with considered the 'best' food to feed cats, and was advertised aggressively to consumers and veterinarians. This opinion has changed as it has been found that feeding dry food may actually have a detrimental effect on the health of your cat. An increasing number of American Veterinary Medical Association members, including board certified veterinary internists, are now strongly recommending canned food for cats instead of dry food.
As obligate (strict) carnivores, cats are very different from other species in their nutritional needs. Cats rely mainly on nutrients found in animals- high protein, moderate fat, and minimal carbohydrates to meet their nutritional needs. Animal based proteins also provide complete amino acids such as taurine, arginine, cysteine, and methionine. These are essential for cats whose bodies don't make them in adequate amounts.
Cats in the wild thrive on a high-protein, low carb diet consisting of approximately 1 to 2% carbohydrates as part of their daily diet. Dry cat food diets contain as much as 45 - 50% more carbohydrates. Canned cat food contains a far smaller carbohydrate content, some as low as 3 - 4%.
Compared to dogs and humans, cats require a much higher amount of animal-based protein in their diet. This stems from the cats' inability to break down liver enzymes. If a diet is not high enough in protein, the body will begin to utilize and attack the protein in the cat's own muscle, leading to muscle wasting. Because it is without the fillers of carbohydrates, such as wheat, grain and corn, canned cat food has a higher protein content.
Having evolved on the deserts of Africa, cats adapted to the environment by having their water requirements met mostly by the moisture found in their prey. This natural diet contained at least 65% water. Commercial dry food contains no more than 10% moisture. Having low thirst drives, cats typically don't drink enough water to make up for what they're getting and what they need. By contrast, commercially prepared canned food typically contains 40 - 45% water.
Dry food diets have been shown to contribute to many potentially life-threatening problems in cats. The feline inability to metabolize the high-levels of carbohydrates in dry food wrecks havoc on blood sugar levels and can lead to diabetes. Many insulin-dependent diabetic cats have gone into remission when transitioned to a low-carbohydrate 100% canned food diet.
Kidney disease is probably the leading cause of mortality in the feline. Cats being fed a primarily dry food diet are chronically dehydrated. Chronic dehydration plays a large role in kidney failure.
Bladder and kidney stones are very common in cats and can be life-threatening. When a cat is on a diet of water depleted dry food they produce a highly concentrated urine. This increases the chance of these crystals forming into stones. A canned food diet will keep the proper amount of water flowing through the urinary tract system and help maintain health.
Being unable to metabolize high levels of carbohydrates can lead to feline inflammatory bowel disease IBD which can cause chronic vomiting and diarrhea and or constipation.
Obesity is one of the most common health problems in cats today and is directly related to high carb, calorie dry Foods. Most cats will lose weight rather easily when fed a 100% canned diet.
Long-standing claims that cats have less dental disease when fed dry food versus canned food are grossly overrated, inaccurate, and not supported by recent studies. For optimal oral health, most veterinarians are recommending daily tooth brushing and a once a year professional cleaning.
It can be difficult to transition a dry food addict onto a more healthy and natural canned diet. The single biggest mistake humans make is to say that their cat 'won't touch' the new canned food then panic and fill the bowl with dry food.
Transitioning a cat from a dry food diet to a canned food diet takes time and patience. Cats are typically very resistant to such a drastic change in the texture of their food.
If your cat has been eating a dry food on a free choice basis, take up the food and establish a schedule of two feedings per day. Leave the food dry or canned down for 20 minutes, then remove the uneaten portion. Repeat in 8 to 12 hours. Once the cat is on a schedule he will be more enthusiastic about food during the scheduled meal times and will be more inclined to try something new canned food.
Patience and persistence on the guardian's part are key elements in successfully transitioning a cat to a 100% canned food diet. It can be a very slow process and can often take several months or longer to make the transition, but in terms of overall, long term health it is well worth the effort.
Trixie Poker Box Activity for Cats
I love the Trixie Poker Box Activity for Cats. It has 5 different puzzles that cats have to figure out in order to get to the treats/food. What might be an easy puzzle for one cat will prove challenging for another, so this toy offers a great deal of versitility. I have had the Trixie Poker Box for several months now and my Mensa smart Burmese still has not figured out one of the puzzles. The Poker Box is also easy to take apart and clean-an important feature for me. It is said to be dishwasher safe, but I have not yet tested this claim.
I am fortunate to have such a special cat. Van Gogh is a red European Burmese and a registered therapy cat. He is registered with the Love on a Leash foundation and is one of fewer than 200 registered therapy cats in the United States.
Therapy cats participate in animal assisted therapy (AAT) where they visit people in nursing homes, rehab centres, hospitals, schools, libraries and other facilities. A therapy pet's job is to brighten someone's day, help lift depression, and assist in learning and communication.
Therapy cats must have a special temperament in order to do their job well and not be stressed by different surroundings, travel, and being handled by many people.
Van Gogh is an exceptional therapy cat. He loves people of all ages and like most Burmese cats he is very tolerant. Van likes nothing better than to be held by someone who loves animals. Before Van became a therapy cat he worked as an art model in my drawing classes, and has twice donated blood for critically ill cats.
litter box basics
A cat’s relationship with the litter box is more complex than many cat guardians realize. We typically assume the litter box to be a place where a cat simply eliminates. It’s the place we want the cat's waste to be exclusively deposited and as long as the cat follows the plan, everyone is happy. For the cat though, the relationship to the litter box is more complicated than just an elimination spot.
It’s important to look at your cat’s litter box set-up from his perspective to make sure it meets his needs and not just our convenience. The needs of a young kitten may be different from the needs of an adult. The needs of an overweight or senior cat may be different from those of an active young cat. If you live with more than one cat, the litter box needs will be different than when there was just one kitty. You have to make sure the set-up works for YOUR cat.
When it comes to the litter box, there are certainly more than just 8 mistakes that cat guardians can make but here are the ones I tend to see most often during my consultations.
1. The Wrong Sized Litter Box
A mistake I commonly see is that a cat guardian will purchase a particular litter box in order to fit it into a tiny or cramped spot so it can remain out of sight. The size of the litter box should be determined based on the size of the cat.
Here is my general recommendation: the box should be 1 ½ times the length of your cat from nose to base of tail. Many commercially made litter boxes are too small for adult cats. Sometimes plastic storage boxes or plastic under bed boxes work well as cat litter boxes.
2. A Litter Box That isn’t Cleaned Enough
I’ve said it many times over the years – a dirty litter box is like an unflushed toilet – but yet many cat guardians don’t seem to understand how a dirty box is just as unappealing to a cat as a dirty toilet would be for us.
The litter box should be scooped at least twice a day. If using scoopable litter, the entire box should be emptied, scrubbed and refilled with fresh litter at least once a month. If using non-clumping litter then the box should be scrubbed and refilled weekly.
3. Choosing the Wrong Location for the Litter Box
The first rule is to never place the litter box near the feeding station because no one likes to eat next to the toilet. For cats, the separation of the feeding station and elimination location is also based in survival. Cats eliminate away from where they live to avoid attracting predators.
When it comes to location it’s also important to look at what’s convenient and easy to access for the cat. A litter box in the basement may be unappealing because of the dampness or because of the discomfort of going up and down stairs if a cat is older or less mobile.
A cat shouldn’t have to travel too far to find a place to eliminate. There should be litter box availability on each floor of your home. The box should be a location that’s safe and will allow the cat to eliminate without being disturbed or startled. At the same time, the litter box should not be located in an area that would fall into the category of 'out of sight out of mind'.
4. Too Few Litter Boxes in a Multicat Household
If you have more than one cat you need more than one litter box. The general rule of thumb is to have more litter boxes than you have cats. Usually one extra will do, but that also depends on the dynamics without your home.
The litter boxes should be scattered throughout the home so one cat doesn’t have to pass through another cat’s preferred area. One of the ways to keep peace in a multicat home is to not force cats to compete for resources.
If you have five cats it may not seem like much fun to have to scoop six litter boxes but it’s better than having some or all of the cats stressed out and maybe ending up with a litter box avoidance problem. Cleaning a litter box is easier than cleaning soiled carpet.
5. Unappealing Litter in the Box
A cat may have a preference in terms of texture or even scent (or lack of). In general, cats prefer a soft, sandy texture and that’s where most of the scoopable litters are ideal. Stay away from scented litter because a cat’s nose is very sensitive and he may not want to get a sensory assault of roses or perfume when he steps into the litter box.
Cats are creatures of habit so if you decide to change types or brands of litter, do it gradually over the course of about five days by mixing the new kind into the current litter.
If you’re completely unsure what type of litter your cat likes, set out a litter box buffet with a different brand in each box. Your cat will let you know which one is the winner.
6. Not Enough or Too Much Litter in the Box
Although I’ve seen cat guardians use not enough litter in the box, what I see most often is too much litter being used. There needs to be enough litter in the box to absorb liquid and therefore absorb the odor, but not so much that cleaning the box becomes a monumental task. Three to four inches of litter is the correct amount.
7. A covered and Cramped Litter Box
Covered litter boxes are popular with cat guardians because they do tend to help keep the litter fairly contained within the box, particularly if you have a cat that likes to dig vigorously. They also hold the appeal of providing privacy, something important to humans, but less so to cats.
With all that said, a covered box has more negatives than positives. Most covered boxes are too small and most cats feel cramped in there. As a result, you may find half of your cat sticking out of the box entrance during elimination. If you’re lucky, the front end is the part sticking out and if you’re not so lucky, it’s the business end.
Covered boxes also don’t allow for efficient drying of the litter and although you may not be able to smell anything, your cat certainly will whenever he steps into the box. The covered box may also not get scooped as often as needed because it’s more inconvenient to remove the lid in order to clean it.
While the covered box does provide privacy, it also lacks escape potential. It’s important, especially in a multiple cat household, for the cat in the box to not feel trapped or to ever be vulnerable to an ambush. The quickest way to a litter box problem is for a cat to not feel safe in there.
8. Punishment and Assumptions
It’s very sad to see a cat guardian punish a cat for a litter box avoidance problem because it will only lead to a bigger problem and increase the stress already felt by the kitty. Cats don’t eliminate outside of the litter box out of spite or as a misbehavior.
If a cat doesn’t use the box it’s because he can’t for some reason. Don’t immediately assume a missed litter box elimination is behavioral and don’t reprimand the cat. Very often, the reason a cat goes outside of the box is due to an underlying medical condition. Make sure your cat is checked by the veterinarian before assuming it’s a behavior problem.
Once the cat gets a clean bill of health you can work on figuring out what’s keeping him away from the box. It may be the box set-up, lack of maintenance, something going on in the household, multicat issues or any of the other things previously mentioned in this article.
Instead of punishing the cat which is counter-productive and possibly damaging to your relationship, look at the environment from his perspective and you may surprise yourself in what you’ll discover.
Elizabeth Llewellyn is a feline welfare and behaviour specialist with 30 years experience working with cats in a variety of settings including rescue, breeding, boarding, grooming and veterinary. She lives in Chittenden County Vermont with her three cats.