What is it with cats and cardboard boxes?

Cats have a strange affinity for cardboard boxes. But, what is it about a box that’s so fun? Why do they love sitting in boxes, and sleeping in boxes?

A study conducted at Utrecht University in the Netherlands points towards boxes providing relief from stress – they’re likely to feel safe and be left alone when hiding in a box. In the wild, a hiding place like this would be perfect to relax safe from predators.

Another theory is that boxes helps keep cats warm. Cardboard boxes are generally layered and become great insulators that keep cats safe from drafts.

 

Image linked from cutestcatpics.com

Dangerous to pets

Easter Lilies are dangerous to catsMany everyday things that look innocent and are perfectly safe for humans can pose a threat to pets. Easter lilies, for instance, can poison a cat just from the cat rubbing up against a vase, getting spores on the coat, and licking them off.

Here is a list with five categories that should be kept out of reach at all times.

Prescription medications

This includes anti-inflammatory medications, antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, antidepressants, and more. A safe course of action is to assume all medications are dangerous to pets unless specifically prescribed to the pet. This includes items you can buy at the grocery store, like Tylenol. If your pet needs a medication, check with your vet, or at least look the substances up on pet poison helpline.

Insecticides

Most people keep bug poisons, rat poison, ant traps, and similar out of reach for their pets, but also make sure to be careful with flea and tick products. Pay close attention to dosage and never apply a product intended for a dog on a cat. Dogs and cats are very different and their products have different compositions. A dosage appropriate for a dog can be dangerous to a cat, even if the pets are of the same weight.

Household products

This is a wide but important category. Laundry detergent, laundry pods, soap, fertilizer, lawn products, and other cleaning products should all be stored out of reach of pets and children. Be particularly careful with pods filled with detergent – they often look like toys or candy, and cause accidents with children, dogs, and cats every year.

People food

We eat many things that pets can taste, but other things are toxic to cats and dogs. Some items to never give a pet include chocolate, alcohol, xylitol, grapes, raisins, and macadamia nuts.

Plants

Many pets aren’t inclined to eat plants at all, but others are all too happy to munch down on greenery and things on the ground. This naturally goes for whatever they find in neighboring yards and along walks, and not just in your own yard. Examples of toxic plants include sago palms, bulbs of tulips, daffodils, and similar, azaleas, easter lilies, and rhododendrons.

What to do

If you think your pet has eaten something toxic, call your vet at once. The sooner your pet gets the appropriate treatment, the better.

Sunshine story: hero cat saves infant

The Russian winter is harsh and unforgiving, and the chance of an unprotected infant surviving the cold must be close to zero. That is, if it weren’t for cats. 

Masha the cat became a hero recently when she found an abandoned baby in a box. The child had been left with a package of diapers and some baby food. He was well dressed, but alone in the cold.

Masha jumped into the box to keep the baby warm, and meowed for help. She is a communal cat, cared for by the local residents, and known for being friendly and quiet. Her loud outbursts now did not go unnoticed; help finally arrived in the shape of neighbor Irina Lavrova who thought Masha must have been hurt. Imagine her surprise when she found the cat in a box with a baby.

The boy is around two months old and was taken straight to a hospital. Thanks to Masha he will come out of this adventure unscathed – authorities believe she spent hours with him in the box. Masha is now reaping the rewards of being a good cat – she is considered a hero and is getting all her favorite foods.

 

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Be careful with antifreeze

At this time a year pet owners need to watch out for antifreeze spills. Antifreeze for cars is based on ethylene glycol, which is quite toxic and leads to many pet deaths every year. If a pet laps it up and isn’t treated immediately, severe damage to kidneys and nervous system will follow.

In the past all antifreeze solutions had a sweet smell and taste, nowadays some manufacturers have changed the formula to make them less appealing to pets, and some manufacturers make “pet safe” antifreeze. Using the pet safe products helps – they are less toxic than traditional products, but can still be dangerous.

If you see a puddle on the ground when you’re walking your dog, don’t let your pet drink from it or walk through it. If it gets on the paws, odds are the pet will lick it off later to clean itself.

Keep this type of product off the ground and out of reach for pets. If there’s a spill, clean it immediately and rinse the area with lots of water.

If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze – even a small amount – call your veterinarian or the closest pet ER at once.

Three common cat care mistakes

Everyone wants the best for their pets, but since we’re different species it can be difficult to figure out what the best really is. Here are three common cat care mistakes.

1. Never punish or frighten your cat

Cats are sensitive, and they’re definitely not human. Yelling at cats, hitting them, or scaring them does not work to change behavior. It will just leave your cat thinking you’re a horrible thing that should be avoided. Scared cats are stressed, and can lead to illness in the long run.

Shape your cat’s behavior with praise and treats. Cats like calm and predictable environments where they can be relaxed and happy while enjoying their calm and predictable humans.

2. Don’t use products made for humans, dogs, or horses on your cat

Cats have specific needs, and they’re sensitive to many things we don’t give a second thought. Only use products labeled for cats, and read the label carefully. Products created for adult cats might not be safe for kittens.

Never give a cat aspirin or tylenol, or flea-control products made for dogs. Also keep an eye on how your cat behaves around plants – many plants and flowers are toxic to cats. If your cat shows a tendency to chew plants, provide some safe cat grass.

3. Don’t overfeed your cat

Obesity is a huge problem for pets in the USA, and overfeeding leads to a wide variety of problems from diabetes to arthritis. If your cat is overweight, make sure that you measure the cat food, only feed cat food, and say no to begging. Keeping your cat’s weight in check can add years to his or her life span.

It is also important to know that dogs can eat cat food, but cats should not eat dog food. Cats have very specific nutrient needs that can only be satisfied through eating meat – they lack the ability to create some nutrients.

eating cat

Why do cats meow at humans?

Black catCats in the wild have a wide range of vocal expressions; they hiss, growl, spit, and scream. The regular “meow” a cat gives a human is different, and some cat experts believe the sound developed partly to communicate with people. We associate it with the cry of an infant, and meowing gives results.

Cats are good at varying their meows, and the cat owner learns to distinguish a meow saying “I want to go outside” from a content cuddle meow. Cats can vary the frequency, pitch, volume, tone, and length of their meows, and no two cats sound exactly the same.

If your cat starts meowing obsessively or exhibits other sudden changes in behavior, you need to take him or her to a vet, just to be on the safe side. Other than that, enjoy learning the language of your cat. It’s possible to learn to communicate well with them, and knowing what your furry friend wants opens a new dimension to your relation.

New laws for animal protection

With the new year comes some new laws and statutes for animal protection. Some are practical, others sound a bit goofy but are clearly needed.

It might seem self evident that getting close enough to lions, tigers, and other big cats to take a selfie is a bad idea. Self-portraits with this type of animals have still become more and more popular online, and starting February 2015 it will be illegal to pose for this type of photo in New York. The new rule specifically prohibits contact between members of the public and big cats at animal shows.

New York is one of over 20 states with a ban on private citizens owning exotic animals, but all over the country it is believed that more exotic pets live in American homes than in American zoos. Seven states have no requirement of a license or permit to keep exotic animals. In these states you might need a license to own a dog, but you can buy a lion without thinking twice about it.

Naturally, many who own exotic pets are responsible and give the pets great care, others are less careful. There is no firm definition of the term exotic pet – in some states it refers to any wildlife kept in a human household, or to a pet that’s more unusual than a dog or cat.

In 2015, New York also makes it illegal to tattoo and pierce pets. This law allegedly came about a after a woman attempted to sell gothic kittens with piercings, and a man tattooed his dog. The only exception is markings done by a veterinarian for a medial reason or identifications.

On the other side of the USA, California takes a stand for farm animals. A new law requires that egg-laying hens, breeding sows, and veal calves have enough space to move around. It is no longer allowed to keep them in cramped cages. California also has a law that extends the space requirements for egg-laying hens for out of state suppliers.

Five New Year’s Resolutions for your pets

A Coton de Tulear needs a medium PlexiDor dog doorMany use the new year holiday to reflect on the year that has passed, and to look forward on what they want to change. Top new year’s resolutions for humans often include to exercise more, lose weight, and stop smoking. The new year can be a fresh start for your pets too. Here are five ideas for New Year’s Resolutions for your pet.

1. Measure your pet’s food. Every time

Over half of pets living in the USA are overweight. Measure your pet’s  food every meal to make sure you’re not overfeeding your furry friends. Keeping a healthy weight can decrease the risk of serious diseases and increase the pet’s life span.

2. Do something new together

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Try something new – go hiking, take your dog to dogs, or try a dog sport. This is fun, a great way to bond, gives your pet important socialization, and you both get some exercise.

3. Groom your pet and brush their teeth

A daily session does more than help your pet look great – it builds the bond between you. Brushing your pet can help alleviate your stress, and show him or her that you love them. Brushing teeth can be more of an ordeal until you both get used to it, but keeping pets’ teeth clean is important to their overall health. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste meant for pets.

4. Teach your dog some new tricks

Mental stimulation helps keep your pets healthy and happy. Practice tricks your dog already knows, and learn something new. Puzzle feeders and toys are also great to help keep your pet entertained and alert.

5. Check your pet’s tags and microchip information

When something changes – be it a phone number, an address, or even your name – there’s a lot to think about, and the pet’s information is often forgotten. If any of your information has changed, update your pet’s tags and microchip information.

2014 kitten names

KittensYesterday we talked about the most popular puppy names during 2014, and today it’s time for the kittens. The list is compiled by the website vetstreet.com.

Bella has been the most popular name for female puppies since 2006, and the most popular name for female kittens since 2007. Media absolutely has an effect on how we choose names for our furry friends; Elsa wasn’t even on the top 50 last year, and this year the name of the main character in Frozen sits at number 5.

The number one choice for male kittens has been Oliver for a few years, and Oliver stays in the lead.

Most popular names for girl kittens in 2014:

  1. Bella
  2. Luna
  3. Lucy
  4. Kitty
  5. Elsa
  6. Daisy
  7. Lily
  8. Callie
  9. Lilly
  10. Gracie

Most popular names for boy kittens in 2014:

  1. Oliver
  2. Milo
  3. Leo
  4. Charlie
  5. Max
  6. Simba
  7. Tiger
  8. Smokey
  9. Jack
  10. Kitty

Don’t give pets as surprise gifts

KittensChristmas is a holiday of giving, but if you’re considering giving away a puppy, kitten, hamster, rabbit, ferret, guinea pig, or other animal, pause and think about it some more.

Pets give immense joy, but they require commitment too, and once the holiday is over shelters all around the country will overflow with abandoned animals.

If you really want a pet and everyone in the family is onboard with the idea, you can go to a shelter and adopt one once the holidays are over. For Christmas morning, you can give the kids a stuffed toy as a promise you’ll go to the shelter and look.

Every pet deserves a good home where they are loved and receive proper care.

If you want to surprise your own children with a pet, be aware that you as an adult will have the final responsibility to care for it. This includes ensuring the children respect it and aren’t too rough with it. If you want to surprise someone else’s child with a pet, discuss with the adults in the family and make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Christmas morning isn’t a good time for new pets

Even if all the adults in the family are on the same page, Christmas morning isn’t the best time a year to get a new pet. Everyone’s tearing into gifts, there are loud toys, potentially dangerous ribbons everywhere, chocolate, and general chaos.

A new pet needs to land in calm environment where he or she can feel safe. You don’t want a frightened, cowering animal that is overwhelmed by all the sudden attention, children squealing with excitement, and almost battling each other to hold it.

Important things to consider before getting a pet:

Different animals have different tempers and needs. Research the type of pet you’re considering, and make sure the animal is right for your family. If you’re getting a dog, research breeds and get a breed that fits your lifestyle.

  • Do you have enough space? Enough money to get the equipment you need?
  • Are you prepared for a lifetime commitment? Even small pets like guinea pigs can live for five years. Dogs can live for fifteen years, and some other types of pets live for decades. If you can’t deal with someone being dependent on you every day for that amount of time, don’t get a pet.
  • All pets require attention, care, and training. Discuss the pet’s schedule with the family.
  • If you’re getting a dog, he or she will need walks every day. Puppies need to go out every time they eat, sleep, or play – even if it’s raining or in the middle of your favorite TV show.
  • Make a budget. Include food, toys, treats, vet costs, kitty litter, straw, and whatever else your new pet will need.
  • Plan for emergencies. Who can care for your pet if everyone in your family needs to travel somewhere?
  • Create an emergency fund in case something happens and your pet needs urgent care.
  • A child should not be sole caretaker of a pet. As an adult, the pet is your responsibility.

Will you celebrate cat herders’ day?

Today is Cat Herders’ Day – a whimsical holiday dedicated to all those who feel like they’re battling an impossible task. Whether you’re literally trying to herd cats – a task that have been attempted by many herding dogs – or you’re struggling with something else, today is your day. 

For cat people, the day means promoting everyone’s efforts to improve the lives of stray and homeless cats and other animals, and to take some time to appreciate the cats in our lives. If you don’t have a cat, adopting one and listening to its soothing purr might help alleviate the stress of managing the unmanageable.

If you’ve never seen a herding dog at work, check out this Youtube video of two Border Collies working together to bring in the sheep. Those dogs can run!

 

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Holiday decoration safety tips for pets

Puppy santaHoliday decorations are a big part of the season, and lights and cheerful colors spread joy in the winter darkness. Everything new in the house brings new dangers to pets as well, and here are some safety tips for little things that can make a big difference.

The tree

Whether you use an artificial tree or a reason, make sure it’s securely anchored so your pets can’t knock it over. Especially cats are tempted to climb into the tree. Also clean up any tree needles regularly – they’re sharp and can get stuck in your pet’s throat or paws.

Tinsel

Pets love to play with and eat tinsel and ribbons. These can cause a lot of damage if swallowed, and even require surgery. Keep tinsel and ribbons off the floor.

Baubles

Many pets, particularly cats, see baubles as irresistible play things. Try to use decorations that won’t shatter if they hit the floor, and that aren’t too small. You don’t want your pet to accidentally swallow a decoration.

Power cords

Protect cords so your pet can’t play with them or chew on them.

New house plants

Many of the season’s house plants are poisonous. Most people think the poinsettia is very dangerous, but it is only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. Pets shouldn’t be encouraged to eat it of course, but the poinsettia’s reputation is quite exaggerated. Mistletoe, rosemary, and holly can be dangerous to cats and dogs. Keep them out of reach, and contact a veterinarian if you think your pet has ingested any type of holly.

What pet owners really want to do for the holidays

The holiday season is great for visiting with friends and family, but vetiq.com made a survey to find out what pet owners really want to do for the holidays. The results are both thought-worthy and amusing.

A vast majority – 96 percent – answer that they would prefer to spend the holidays at home alone with their pet instead of leaving their pet at home to celebrate with in-laws.

85 percent of pet owners think a kiss under the mistletoe is okay for pets too. 85 percent also think their pets have been nice during the year. The survey doesn’t report whether the 15 percent of naughty pets are the same 15 percent that won’t get kisses…

Only 24 percent of pet owners plan to travel with their pets during the holiday, and 97 percent of those who do will go by car.

54 percent say Santa Claus best describes their pet’s holiday personality. 32 percent say Frosty, and 14 percent The Grinch.

 

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Cat gets personal trainer – Dennis the dog

Ulric is Britain’s fattest cat and weighs as much as an average three year old child. The Norwegian forest cat has been placed on strict diets and even entered a pet slimming competition where everything he ate was weighed. He still didn’t lose any weight. 

When his owner realized Ulric was quite good at stealing his sister’s food she tried to take him for walks to lose some weight, but he refused to go along with that.

What is a cat lover to do?

Uric’s owner enrolled help from a dog. Dennis is a five month old pug-cross who has turned into Ulric’s personal trainer. The puppy chases the cat around the yard, plays, and wrestles, and after three months with the dog, Ulric has lost more weight than in 16 months of dieting.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

The big eating holiday is finally here, and odds are tempting smells are pulling both humans and pets towards the kitchen. Yesterday we shared some tips of Thanksgiving foods that are okay for dogs and cats to eat, and some they shouldn’t have.

If you really want to share the holiday spirit and make your furry friends something special, we have a couple of ideas.

Pumpkin Smoothie for dogs

This is really easy to make, and most dogs love it. Mix equal parts plain nonfat yogurt and canned pumpkin puree. (Make sure it’s not pie filling – the cans look quiet similar.) Serve as  a liquid, or freeze for handy, cool treats.

Turkey Meatballs for dogs

  • 6 ounces ground turkey
  • 0.5 cup finely chopped carrots
  • 0.5 cup quinoa or oatmeal
  • A pinch of kelp powder

Place the carrots and turkey in a food processor and blend until smooth. Add quinoa/oatmeal and the kelp powder and blend some more. Roll into meatballs (it’s easier if you wet your hands with cold water) and bake in 400 F on a non-stick cookie sheet. They need around 15 minutes in the oven.

Happy Thanksgiving for dogs and cats

Pet feeding tips for Thanksgiving

contestThis is a great season for family get-togethers, and everyone enjoys the Thanksgiving dinner table. Make sure the holiday flows smoothly and safely for the pets too with our handy tips.

Dogs and cats can nibble on some boneless and well cooked turkey. They shouldn’t have raw turkey, undercooked turkey, skin, or bones. It is also okay to share some unsalted and unbuttered vegetables.

Dogs and cats cannot eat onions, garlic, leeks, or scallions. They also shouldn’t have grapes or raisins.

A taste of mashed potatoes is fine. Just consider that mashed potatoes can contain other ingredients than just potatoes. If your pet is lactose intolerant, cheese, butter, and milk in mashed potatoes can cause problems.

A taste of macaroni and cheese is also fine, if your pet can handle dairy.

Cranberry sauce is fine for pets, but there can be a lot of sugar in it, so limit the amount.

Some other things to watch out for are xylitol, sage (common in stuffing), and raw bread dough. The bread dough seems harmless, but it will continue to expand when eaten, and this can be very dangerous

Lost New Mexico cat found in Maine

Spice is a cat from New Mexico who bolted from her home when her human opened the door for trick-or-treaters on Halloween. The kitty didn’t return home, and she was nowhere to be found. That is, until she showed in in Maine a few days later – 2,500 miles away.

Spice was found in a duffle bag with food and kitty litter, and when she was turned in to an animal refuge they tracked her owner down through the microchip.

Spice is currently being treated for a mild respiratory infection, and a Maine businessman has promised to pay the cat’s transportation cost back to New Mexico. Hopes are, she’ll be home for the holidays.

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The Bengal – a big cat in small format

Bengal catMany people are attracted to big cats, and their beauty, strength, and independence holds an irresistible allure. Lions, tigers, cheetahs, and bobcats don’t make good pets, but that hasn’t stopped people from trying, and the Bengal was developed to create a cat with the wild look in a safe and domestic package. The first Bengals were bred in the 1960s, and come from small Asian Leopard Cats and domestic shorthairs. 

The typical Bengal is extremely intelligent, active, and curious, and these cats want a lot of interaction and attention. Translated to dog people, a Bengal cat is like a Border Collie in cat shape – if not properly stimulated the Bengal will get bored, and they’re quite able to open drawers and cabinets to see what’s inside, or dismantle things to see how they work.

Bengals love to climb – the higher the better – and they love playing with water. Don’t be surprised if your Bengal wants to join you in the shower. Unlike many other cat breeds, Bengals like to learn tricks and games, and enjoy puzzle games.

Each cat is an individual, but the average Bengal gets along fine with dogs. They are affectionate, energetic, and overall healthy.

Like cats and dogs?

catanddogMany believe that dogs and cats are natural enemies. That’s not true – whether a cat and a dog will get along or not depends on the individuals, but also on the socialization they’ve received earlier in life. Many cats and dogs are great friends.

Whether your cat and dog will get along or not usually depends on the dog. Many dogs will chase small animals that run, and this is particularly a problem amongst herding breeds and those with strong prey instinct. Of course, the cat won’t appreciate being chased, and the more kitty runs, the more the dog will give chase.

  • Make sure the cat can get away and hide if it wants to. It’s great to give kitty access to an elevated resting place the dog can’t reach.
  • Keep your dog restrained during introductions. He or she shouldn’t be able to chase, even if the cat runs.
  • Baby gates are a great way to gradually introduce dogs and cats.
  • Let them take their time.

Don’t force physical closeness. If you pick up the cat and hold it in the dog’s face to introduce them, odds are the cat will scratch the dog, and the dog won’t like the cat. Let introductions be slow and supervised, and watch for any potential problems.

It can take weeks for a cat and dog to get used to each other, and to learn to communicate.  If they don’t seem to tolerate each other even after a few weeks, consider seeking help from a professional trainer.

Keep your cat safe today

Black catHalloween is a favorite holiday for many humans, but it also brings a number of dangers for pets. Here are five tips for keeping your cats safe:

1. Keep black cats indoors.

This is a time of the year when superstition runs high. Some people are outright cruel to black cats, and others are just thoughtless. This has escalated to a point where some shelters won’t adopt out black cats during the month of October. It also happens that people take black cats indoors as a neat decoration, not giving a second thought to the cat’s wellbeing or home. Keep your black cat indoors until the holiday is over.

It is also wise to confine cats. Ringing doorbells, people shouting “trick or treat” and the front door repeatedly opening and closing can be scary to a cat. It’s better to keep kitty locked in a back room than a panicked cat rushing through the door.

2. Hang decorations high

Candy wrappers, tinsel, and decoration are irresistible to cats. Keep decorations out of reach and throw all candy wrappers away at once. Cats might not immediately want to eat wrappers, but if they play with them they might accidentally ingest one anyway. Wrappers and tinsel can cause intestinal blockage and require surgery.

3. Keep human candy out of reach

Human candy is bad for cats and dogs. Chocolate, xylitol, and other substances that we enjoy are highly toxic to pets. Also watch out with the carved pumpkin. Unsweetened canned pumpkin is great for pets, but the carved pumpkin that’s been on the porch for days can be rife with bacteria.

4. Be careful with candles

There are many fun and cute Halloween candles. Don’t keep lit candles in the same room as the cat – cats and fire make a recipe for disaster.

5. Watch out for electric cords

Many halloween decorations come with lights, and electric cords can seem like a lot of fun to a cat. Chewing on cords can cause electrocution and burns. Also keep batteries out of reach and sight. Cats love to swat batteries around, but that game can get really dangerous if they bite they battery.

Stay safe, and Happy Halloween!