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ADVANCE™ is scientifically formulated to help improve pet health.  Read all the latest articles and news, as well as get tips and advice on puppy, kitten, dog and cat nutrition and health care topics.  Brought to you by the experts at ADVANCE™ premium pet food.

Kitten

 

Benefits of having a feline friend

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This is a close up of a cat

A purr-fect buddy

If you already have a cat in your family, you may be familiar with the many ways they help you feel better. 

We've compiled a number of reasons why having a kitty friend is just paw-some!

A purr-fect buddy

If you already have a cat in your family it may be no surprise that having a cat is good for your health and well-being. You know how good it is to come home and be greeted by your excited cat. That second you walk in the door helps you forget what's happened during the day.  Research shows that pets can help us live longer, fuller lives.

Here are some more examples of how cats make us feel better:

Cats help reduce stress

It's been shown that patting a cat can make your blood pressure drop and make you feel more relaxed.  Research has shown that patients with high blood pressure can benefit from having a pet around.  One study found that over a 10-year period cat owners were 30% less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than non-cat owners.

A cat can help alleviate loneliness and depression

A pet provides unconditional love and affection and this has shown to help elderly people live longer and fuller lives. Cats - or all pets, for that matter - can help people deal with many changes and losses in life.

Cats can be teachers

You may think you teach your cat everything, but they can also teach you a thing or two.  Cats can teach nurturing and discipline skills that can be used later on for parenting, while children learn to take responsibility for the health and well-being of cats and learn how to interact with them as well.  Cats also teach the cycle of life-birth, death, loss and grief.

As we've seen, there's many great reasons for having a kitty friend in your life.  Always do your research and consider your lifestyle when choosing the best pet for you.  

 

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Skin and coat health for pets

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This is an image of a dog and cat together.

Gorgeous coat!

It’s a joy to see a pet with a beautiful and glossy coat.  Not only does it look great, but a healthy skin and coat is a good indicator of overall pet health.  What you feed your pet has a direct effect on their skin and coat quality.  For pets with a sensitive skin, diet can play a really important role in their management plan.

Gorgeous coat!

It’s a joy to see a pet with a beautiful and glossy coat.  Not only does it look great, but a healthy skin and coat is a good indicator of overall pet health.

What you feed your pet has a direct effect on their skin and coat quality.  For pets with a sensitive skin, diet can play a really important role in their management plan.

Vital barrier

The skin has a number of important functions including protecting the body from physical, chemical and microbial injury, as well as for sensory perception.

To be able to achieve this, the skin needs to function as an effective barrier.  Diet can play an important role in supporting the barrier function of the skin.

Unlike humans, the skin of dogs and cats plays a minimal role in helping them regulate their body temperature.  This is because dogs and cats have a very limited ability to sweat, so instead they pant to help reduce body heat when they need to cool off.  This is one reason why you need to take extra care when looking after your pet in hot weather.

Skin is an active organ

The skin is a large metabolically active organ, responsible for using around 30% of a dog or cat’s daily protein requirement.  The skin is particularly sensitive to subtle changes in nutrient supply, however its response to dietary changes may take several months to fully appear.

Skin nutrients

A number of different nutrients help support skin and coat health.  These include protein, vitamins and minerals as well as omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.

Signs of a healthy skin and coat:

  • Soft, lustrous and glossy coat (bear in mind that some breeds have different coat types such as those with wiry coats)
  • Skin is free from scurf and dandruff and there are no areas of hair loss or signs of irritation (remember that seasonal moulting or shedding is a normal occurrence for most breeds)

How can I tell if my pet has a skin and coat problem?

A pet with a skin and coat issue may scratch quite a lot, which can lead to irritation, sores and infections.  Their coat may look dull and brittle, and their skin can appear greasy or conversely dry and flaky.

How diet can help

To enhance your pet’s skin and coat health, look for tailored nutrition that offers a specific skin and coat health claim. 

Every ADVANCE™ formula has been specifically formulated to help your pet look their best.  They contain patented levels of essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids, as well as high quality protein, which have been shown to help improve skin and coat condition.

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7 tips to avoid pet obesity

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This is an image of a dog and cat together.

Pet loving nation

With just over half of Australian households having a cat and/or a dog, it’s clear we love our pets!  But did you know it’s estimated that 41% of dogs and 32% of cats are considered overweight or obese?  We now know that by carrying that extra weight, a pet's lifespan may be reduced. 

To help your pet live a longer and healthier life, here are our top 7 tips for helping to avoid pet obesity.

Pet loving nation

With just over half of Australian households having a cat and/or a dog, it’s clear we love our pets!  But did you know it’s estimated that 41% of dogs and 32% of cats are considered overweight or obese?  We now know that by carrying that extra weight, a pet's lifespan may be reduced

To help your pet live a longer and healthier life, here are our top 7 tips for helping to avoid pet obesity.

Start with feeding guides

Feeding guides found on pet food packaging are the best place to start when deciding how much to feed your pet.  However, these are guides only and the actual amount fed will need to be tailored over time.  This is done by monitoring your pet’s body condition and then making any feeding adjustments accordingly.

Measure out portions

When you’re reading the feeding guide, be sure to measure out the amount of food rather than estimating it.  It can be surprising what different people guess half a cup of food looks like!  Try to measure out portions in a consistent way.

Stick to mealtimes

Some pet parents ‘free feed’ their pet, whereby they keep their pet’s bowl full at all times.  This practice can lead to overeating and weight gain, particularly if the pet is bored or not getting much exercise.  A much better idea is to feed your pet set portions at designated mealtimes.  That way you can better monitor the amount your pet is eating. 

Ignore begging

Did you know that a recent international study showed that over half of cat and dog owners give their pet food if they beg for it?  We know how hard it is not to give in when those gorgeous big eyes look at you that way, but it’s a habit that can lead to pet weight gain.  It’s best from the start not to encourage begging behaviour and a helpful rule is to have pets out of the room during family mealtimes.  This also avoids inadvertently feeding a pet any human foods that may be toxic to them.

Monitor treats

While treats can be especially helpful for training, you should keep a close eye on how many your pet is getting.  As a general rule, no more than 10% of the calories in your pet’s diet should come from treats.  Remember that food isn’t the only way to reward your pet.  Verbal praise, a tickle on the belly and playing with a toy are non-food ways to help train your pet and show them how much you love them!

Get active together

Everyone needs activity to help keep them fit, as well as their joints and muscles healthy.  Get out on daily walks with your dog and play games together to keep things fun.  Cats need places to climb and will enjoy activities that stimulate their hunting instinct.  Playing with your pets is also great bonding time, helping to deepen your relationship.

Consider weight control formulas

If your pet has a tendency to gain weight easily, you might like to consider offering them a weight control formula.  These type of diets provide less calories per meal but are still nutritionally complete and balanced.  The ADVANCE™ pet food range offers tasty weight control diets for dogs and cats in both dry and wet food formats.

Follow these tips to avoid pet obesity and you’ll help your pet live a longer and healthier life.  If you have any queries regarding your pet’s weight or general health be sure to chat with your veterinarian.

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Pet safety when entertaining

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This is an image of a dog at a party.

Party time

Got some plans to party at your place? 

While you’re making preparations, it’s worth considering the safety of your pets when entertaining.  A busy house with new people, sights and sounds, as well as tempting human foods and drinks, presents a range of hazards for furry guests.

Make sure everyone enjoys the festivities with our top party tips for pet safety when entertaining.

Party time

Got some plans to party at your place? 

While you’re making preparations, it’s worth considering the safety of your pets when entertaining.  A busy house with new people, sights and sounds, as well as tempting human foods and drinks, presents a range of hazards for furry guests.

Make sure everyone enjoys the festivities with our top party tips for pet safety when entertaining.

Party animal?

Consider each of your pets – how have they reacted to gatherings in the past?  Have they shown any signs of fear, anxiety or aggression?  Even if they’ve previously been the life of the party, it makes sense to provide them with a retreat space in case they start to feel overwhelmed.  

If you think your pet won’t cope well with a party, consider boarding them with a responsible family member or friend, or a professional boarding facility.

Create a pet retreat

Ensure that each pet has their own cosy and secure retreat space, so they can feel safe.  Prepare the space ahead of time, perhaps in a bedroom or laundry, using their crate and some comfortable bedding.  Provide food and water as well as some interactive toys to help keep them busy.  You might like to provide some background noise such as from a radio to drown out any noises coming from the party.

Pre-party exercise

Plan to exercise your pets before the first guest arrives.  This will help them be relaxed and more likely to have a snooze once the party gets going.

Keep decorations out of reach

Kittens and puppies, as well as pets with a curious nature can end up in all sorts of tangles with party decorations.  Plastic and glass items can be chewed and broken causing injury. Fairy lights also pose a choking or electrocution risk, while candles can be knocked over causing burns, or be toxic if eaten.  Keep this in mind when decorating your party space and keep things out of your pet’s reach.

Talk to your guests

As each guest arrives, let them know there are pets in the house.  Your guests can let you know if they have any allergies or are afraid of animals, and you can talk about pet safety.

Security

With guests coming and going, ensure the safety of your pets with adequate security.  Limit the doors your guests can use to help prevent any pets making an escape.  Put signs on doors and gates to remind guests to ensure they are properly closed.  Even if your pet doesn’t normally try to get loose, remember that pets can behave differently if they become stressed by the party.

Tasty temptations

Some human foods are toxic to dogs and cats.  Common party foods to keep away from pets include chocolate, caffeinated beverages, onion, cooked bones, avocado, nuts, grapes, sultanas, raisins, gravy, alcohol as well as any diet foods and drinks (containing artificial sweeteners).

Remind all of your guests (including children) not to feed your pets anything, and don’t give your pets any left-overs.  Regularly walk around the party to gather and clear up any left-over food and drink.  Also make sure that your pets can’t gain access to any garbage bins. 

Sudden dietary changes can cause digestive upset and the feeding of fatty scraps can contribute to the onset of serious conditions such as pancreatitis.  Keep an eye on your pets for any changes to their behaviour or appearance, and if you think they’ve eaten something they shouldn’t have it’s best to get them to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Some planning and preparation will help keep your pets safe when entertaining.  That way everyone can relax and have a good time!

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Taking a pet on holiday

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This is an image of two dogs at the beach.

Road trip anyone? 

If you’re feeling the call to pack your bags (and your pet) and head off on holiday, here are some tips to help.

Road trip anyone? 

The decision to take your pet with you on holiday will come down to the individual pet’s circumstances as well as what your holiday entails.  Consider your pet’s personality and health, and whether you think it would be an enriching experience for them.  Some pets aren’t suited for travel or don’t cope well with change.  In these situations, making alternative arrangements for their care while you are away may be in their best interest.  If in doubt, speak to your veterinarian for advice.

Book a vet check

If you decide that your pet is coming along for the ride, then some additional planning is crucial.  Arrange a thorough vet check-up a month or so before departure.  Ensure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, as well as other preventive care such as for parasites like fleas and worms.

Check if there are any health considerations for the areas you plan to visit, such as paralysis tick which can be deadly.  Talk to your veterinarian and commence any necessary preventive treatments before you go.

Make a check-list

Plan ahead to ensure you pack everything that your pet will need such as a food and water bowl, plenty of pet food, treats, leash, toys and some bedding.  Cats will appreciate a cozy igloo bed where they can gain some respite when needed.  Some home comforts will also help your pet settle into their holiday home quickly.  If your pet is on a specific diet, be sure to pack what you will need in case it can’t be sourced where you are going or contact a local supplier ahead of time.  If your pet needs any medication, be sure to also pack this before you go.  Pet shampoo and grooming equipment is a good idea if you are holidaying by the beach or anywhere your pet is likely to get muddy. 

Keep plenty of bottled water on hand in case tap water isn't available, to avoid dehydration.  A portable water bowl that folds up is a handy accessory for offering a refreshing drink on the go.

Pet identification

Ensure that your pet’s microchip details are up to date and they are wearing an ID tag with your holiday contact number.  This is imperative in case they got lost while you are away.  It’s a good idea to get the contact information for the vet clinic and a pet supplies store local to your holiday destination, so that you have it on hand.

Car trip

Plan your journey thoroughly and be sure to allow extra travel time for toilet stops and exercise breaks.  Dogs will enjoy a chance to stretch their legs and break up their journey.

For safe car travel, cats and small dogs should be confined in a crate, while larger dogs can be harnessed.  Ideally, when your pet is young, get them used to a crate and car travel.  Start with lots of short trips and slowly build up to longer ones. 

Arriving at your destination

When you arrive at your holiday accommodation take some time walking your dog on a lead around the rooms and outdoor areas to explore the new space together.  This will help them become comfortable with their new surroundings.  If your cat is trained to use the lead, you can gently show them around once they have settled.  However, in most cases holidaying with a cat will mean that they are kept indoors for safety reasons.

Plan well in advance and you’ll set yourself and your pets up for holiday fun!

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Foods your pet should avoid

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This is an image of a dog and cat together.

Tempting tidbits

While some pets are happy to tuck into just about anything, it’s worth knowing which ‘human’ food and drink items can make your pet unwell, and even be dangerous. Here we take a look at some of the common foods and drinks your pet needs to avoid getting their paws on.

Tempting tidbits

While some pets are happy to tuck into just about anything, it’s worth knowing which ‘human’ food and drink items can make your pet unwell, and even be dangerous.

Here we take a look at some of the common foods and drinks your pet needs to avoid getting their paws on.

Those eyes!

Picture yourself happily munching away on a snack, or sitting down to eat a meal.  Next thing you hear the pitter patter of paws, and your pet is suddenly on the scene.  Their keen nose has sensed that something good (and tasty) is happening, and they’d like a piece of the action, pretty please!

Sound familiar?  When your pet looks at you with those big adorable eyes and that goofy grin, it can be hard to resist.  Before you toss them a tasty morsel, it’s worth considering if that’s actually a safe thing to do. 

Could a little something from the dinner table really hurt your pet?  The answer to that depends on what food it is and what’s in it.  While some foods are safe for pets to eat, others shouldn’t be on the menu.  Some common foods and drinks can cause discomfort and an upset tummy, while others can contribute to choking and intestinal obstruction.  Some foods are even toxic to pets, and can be lethal.

Food and drinks your pet needs to avoid

The following is a list of common foods and drinks that should be avoided by dogs and cats, some of which might even surprise you. 

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list, so always check with your veterinarian if in doubt.

  • Alcoholic drinks and foods containing alcohol
  • Apple seeds
  • Apricot and peach pits
  • Avocado
  • Caffeinated drinks such as cola, coffee, energy drinks
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits such as limes, lemons and grapefruits
  • Cooked bones
  • Corn cobs
  • Fatty foods
  • Fruit with pits such as cherry, plum, peach
  • Garlic, onions and shallots
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Milk and dairy items – most pets are lactose intolerant
  • Onions
  • Potatoes with growths or sprouts
  • Raw and under-cooked meat and eggs
  • Sultanas and raisins
  • Diet food and drinks (including candy and gum) containing artificial sweeteners
  • Yeast dough (expanding dough can cause digestive pain and bloat)

If you suspect your pet has eaten any of these items, contact your veterinarian right away.  It’s helpful if you know how much they have consumed. 

For peace of mind, it’s best to stick to only feeding a quality pet food such as ADVANCE™ as well as treats specifically formulated for pets.  Also avoid offering cats anything that has been designed for dogs, and vice-versa.  This will help keep your pet safe and healthy.

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How can I tell if my cat is overweight?

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This is an image of a cat sharpening their claws.

A weighty issue

Did you know that around a third of Australian cats are considered above their ideal weight?  Pet obesity is a serious issue, and globally it's on the rise.  As with humans, overweight pets are at an increased risk of serious health consequences, which may be life threatening.  In addition, obesity may exacerbate existing medical conditions in pets.

A weighty issue

Did you know that around a third of Australian cats are considered above their ideal weight? 

Pet obesity is a serious issue, and globally it's on the rise.  As with humans, overweight pets are at an increased risk of serious health consequences, which may be life threatening.  In addition, obesity may exacerbate existing medical conditions in pets.

Overweight pets have a reduced quality of life and are more likely to be disinterested in exercise and play.  They tire quickly when they do exercise and might appear to walk with a waddle. 

Body condition scores

You can learn to assess the body condition of your cat and this also helps let you know if you're feeding them the right amount of food.

Take a look at your cat from both a side-on, as well as an aerial view (ie from above looking down) and check:

• Can you see and feel your cat’s ribs, as well as the bones along their spine and over their hips?

• When looking down on your cat, can you see an obvious ‘waist’?

• Look at the area behind the ribs.  Can you see a tuck of the abdomen? 

A cat in ideal body condition has:

• Ribs which can be felt without excess fat covering them.

• A ‘waist’ which can be seen behind the ribs when viewed from above

• The abdomen is tucked up when viewed from the side. 

Once a pet is overweight, it becomes more difficult to feel their ribs due to a padding of excess fat.  Their ‘waist’ becomes less obvious and their abdominal tuck decreases.

All packets of ADVANCE™ cat food display a 5-point body condition scoring chart that you can use to help condition score your cat.

On a 5-point body condition scoring chart, a score of 3 is considered ideal.  A score of 1 or 2 indicates that the cat is underweight, while a score of 4 or 5 indicates that the cat is overweight.

 

 

Getting back in shape

Overweight pets need a tailored diet and exercise plan, and this is best managed under supervision by your Veterinarian.  Feeding a lower calorie or ‘light’ diet can be helpful, as they provide less calories per meal.  In addition, a tailored exercise program that is appropriate for the cat helps burn calories and build muscle.

 

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Stress in cats

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This is an image of a cat relaxing in a cubby.

Stressed out

Just like us, stress can affect kittens and cats.  Here we take a look at some of the ways stress may be expressed by cats.  If your kitten is suddenly acting differently and you're concerned, it's always best to get advice from your vet, who may if necessary, suggest referral to an animal behaviourist.   

Stressed out

Just like us, stress can affect kittens and cats.

There are a number of ways stress may be expressed by cats.  If you're concerned about any sudden behaviour changes, it's always best to get advice from your vet, who may if necessary, suggest referral to an animal behaviourist.   

It’s worth noting that certain feline behaviours such as scratching and scent-marking, might be perfectly normal from your kitty's point of view, just not so acceptable from yours!

Here are some ways a stressed cat may act:

Anxious behaviour

If your cat crouches low to the ground, with a tense body and dilated pupils, they may be feeling anxious.  If so, they may also pant, and lick themselves more than usual.

Aggression

If your usually friendly cat starts to bite and scratch, they may be feeling bored or threatened.  If a cat’s hunting instincts aren't met through play, they'll start to look for it in other places.  A cat might also behave like this if they think their territory is under threat.

Hiding

Cats like some degree of ‘alone time’.  However, if your cat starts hiding from everyone in the house, and particularly if this is not usual behaviour for them, head to the vet.

Excessive meows

Some cats are ‘talkers’, but unusual episodes of increased vocalisation shouldn’t be ignored.

Off their food

If your cat suddenly seems disinterested in their food or stops eating altogether, it’s best to book a visit to the vet.

Indoor urine marking

Changes to a cat’s normal routine, or the introduction of a new cat in the home, can lead to urine marking behaviour. 

Avoid using ammonia and chlorine cleaners as these smell similar to cat urine and may actually encourage marking behaviour.  Clean the affected area with a 10% solution of biological washing powder, and spray it with an alcohol such as surgical spirit.  Offer your cat lots of love and reassurance.

Not using the litter tray

If your kitten is otherwise healthy, eliminating outside the litter tray could be a sign of stress.  It’s still important to rule out any underlying medical issues, so book a check-up with your vet.  

Cats don’t stop using their litter tray out of spite, so consider if you’ve made any changes such as using a new type of litter.  Also assess whether your litter tray cleaning schedule is up to scratch.  Provide one more litter tray than the number of cats in the household and ensure all cats have free access to litter trays.

Nervous grooming

Stressed cats may over-groom themselves by continually licking and scratching a particular area of their coat.  This can lead to hair loss and a skin infection, so head to your vet for advice.

Chewing wool

Obsessive wool chewing and sucking behaviours can occur, and amongst other causes, can be stress-related.  Items such as blankets, jumpers and carpets are commonly targeted, and this behaviour tends to be more often seen in Oriental breeds such as the Siamese and Burmese. 

Try to discourage your cat from doing this, and if possible remove or reduce access to the tempting material.  Redirect your cat through puzzle feeders and toys, and ensure your cat has scratching posts and other ways to stay entertained.

Cats don't all display the same signs when it comes to stress.  Always talk to your vet so that you can rule out any underlying health issues.  Then you can focus on ensuring that your home and routine helps your cat feel safe and reassured.

 

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Cat doors

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This is an image of a cat coming through a cat door.

Benefits

Cat doors, also known as cat flaps, provide a means for your cat to come and go between the indoors and outdoors.  A basic cat door is generally inexpensive and easy to install.  Learn about the various types of lockable cat doors that are available, as well as how to help your kitty get used to using one.

 

Benefits

Cat doors, also known as cat flaps, provide a means for your cat to come and go between the indoors and outdoors.  A basic cat door is generally inexpensive and easy to install.

Cat doors offer designs with a wide range of features, such as to be able to adjust the access available.  For example, you might only want the cat door open during the day and locked at night.  Or, you might want the cat door to only operate in one direction at a certain time. 

Types of lockable cat doors

• Simple locking cat door – you operate the lock yourself, choosing when to let your kitten in or out.  This type of cat door doesn't discriminate between who can use it.  That means the neighbour's cat might also pay your home a visit!

• Electro-magnetic cat door – activated automatically by a special magnet on your kitten’s collar.  This type of cat door does rely on your cat not losing their collar.  

• Micro-chip cat door – activated automatically by your kitten’s unique micro-chip.  This has the advantage of not relying on a special tag on your cat's collar as their microchip is under their skin. 

Early wariness

Some kittens can be a little suspicious of the cat door at first, and might need your help to gain confidence when using it.  The noise the door makes as it shuts can be scary, as can the feel of the door as it touches the cat’s back on the way through. 

Tips to help

• Fit the cat door at the right height for your kitten to step through – this is usually about 6cm above the bottom of the door

• Let your kitten have a good sniff and explore around the area

• To begin with, prop open the cat door slightly and tempt your kitten through it with treats and food

• Try gently lifting your kitten up towards the cat door to demonstrate what you expect them to do

With a little practice, and lots of positive reinforcement, your kitten will soon be using their cat door.  A whole new world of feline adventures await!

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Caring for your cat's claws

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This is an image of a cat sharpening their claws.

Claw care

Your kitten's sharp little claws are amazing.  They help them balance on smooth and slippery surfaces, and give them a good, strong grip when they’re climbing and holding onto things.  It’s important that your kitten’s claws stay in good condition.

Claw care

Your kitten's sharp little claws are amazing.  They help them balance on smooth and slippery surfaces, and give them a good, strong grip when they’re climbing and holding onto things.  

It’s important that your kitten’s claws stay in good condition.

Regular checks

Because your kitten’s claws are protected by special sheaths, they rarely get damaged.  However, it's a good idea to check them regularly to make sure they haven't grown too long.  Outdoor kittens usually keep their claws trim by scratching on trees or fences, but if your kitten lives indoors you may want to check their claws more frequently.

Scratching post

When it comes to caring for your cat’s claws, their scratching post will act as a nail file.  However, your cat is likely to need a nail clip when they get older.  To help get your cat used to that idea, start handling their paws early on so that they'll be more accepting of a trim when the time comes. 

Remember that a scratching post is a great outlet for your cat’s natural scratching behaviour, and it's better for your furniture as well!

Ask your vet

The first time you notice that your kitten’s claws have grown long, you might prefer to take them to the vet.  That way, you can watch how the expert does it, and decide whether you want to carry on trimming your cat’s claws yourself.

How to trim your cat’s claws

If you decide claw trimming is for you, it helps to be well organised.  Make sure you work in good light and find a comfortable place where your cat can be gently restrained.  Use a pet claw trimmer and trim each claw back a little at a time until you get close to the quick, the pink part where the blood supply is.  You can see where this is on white claws, but you’ll need to use your judgement on dark coloured claws.

Be sure to pair this exercise with food treats to ensure a positive association with claw trimming. 

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