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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

 

Tips to help your pet cope in the heat

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This is a picture of a dog at the beach

Warmer months

When the weather heats up, it’s vital to consider how prepared your pets are to cope.  Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body temperature through sweating (like we can), which means they’re more susceptible to heat stress than humans.

Read on for our tips to help your pets stay cool during the summer months.

Warmer months

When the weather heats up, it’s vital to consider how prepared your pets are to cope.  Dogs and cats can’t regulate their body temperature through sweating (like we can), which means they’re more susceptible to heat stress than humans.

Do dogs and cats sweat?

Dogs and cats possess only a limited number of sweat glands, and these are mostly located around paw pads.  This means that when a pet’s body temperature starts to rise, sweating alone is insufficient to help cool them down.  Instead, dogs and cat utilise other strategies to help regulate their body temperature.  Dogs pant to dissipate body heat via evaporation of moisture from their tongue and nasal cavity.  For cats however, panting is generally cause for concern and may indicate an underlying medical problem.  If you see your cat panting, it’s best to book a visit with your vet.

Cats help cool themselves down by grooming.  The saliva that evaporates off their skin has a cooling effect.  Both dogs and cats seek out cool areas to lie and reduce their activity to help keep cool.

It’s worth noting that breeds with short noses and flat faces such as the French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pekingese, Pug as well as Persian and Himalayan cats are more susceptible to overheating and heat stroke.  Overweight pets also find it harder to regulate their temperature, so special care needs to be given if this applies.

Cool refuge

On warm and hot weather days, plan for your pet’s comfort accordingly.  Ensure they have access to a cool spot with plenty of shade, and when the weather warrants it, bring your pet indoors.  Keep your pet well hydrated by supplying cool, fresh drinking water with some ice cubes added.  Consider placing multiple water bowls in a few different locations, which also helps if your pet tends to knock over their water bowl.

A cool surface to lay on, such as floor tiles, helps a pet transfer any excess body heat.  Keep blinds shut and use fans and air conditioning to help keep the room cool. 

You can make cool treats by freezing canned pet food in ice cube trays.  This can help pets stay entertained as well as cool!

Plan your walkies

Avoid exercising your dog during the hottest part of the day.  Instead, head out for a stroll during the cooler times of morning or evening.  Carry some water and a collapsible water bowl for an easy drink on the go. This helps avoid heat stress and dehydration.  

It’s also a good idea to take note of how hot the ground feels.  If it’s hot to your touch, there’s the potential it may damage your pet’s paw pads.

Try to avoid car travel with your pets when the weather is hot and never leave your pet unattended in a car.  The temperature within a closed car can rise rapidly and can be lethal.

Heatstroke

If a pet is unable to keep their body temperature within a normal range, they are at risk of heatstroke which can be fatal.

What are the signs of heat stroke?

  • Excessive and heavy panting
  • Agitation and restlessness
  • Increased body temperature (over 40 degrees Celsius)
  • Drooling
  • Gums that appear bright red, bluish or pale
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Dehydration
  • Vomiting or diarrhoea
  • Muscle tremors and seizures

A pet with heat stroke needs immediate veterinary attention.

Follow these tips to help keep your pets cool and comfortable during the warmer months.

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Common kitten feeding queries

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Feeding your kitten

It can be argued that nothing plays a more important role in healthy kitten growth and development as nutrition, so let's look at some common kitten feeding queries.  

Feeding your kitten

It can be argued that nothing plays a more important role in healthy kitten growth and development as nutrition, so let's look at some common kitten feeding queries.  

How much to feed my kitten?

Use the feeding guide found on pet food packaging as a starting point.  This will show you the total daily amount to offer your kitten.  Keen an eye on your kitten's body condition so that you can fine tune the amount fed, if needed.  Have a chat to your veterinarian if you're concerned about your kitten's body condition or growth rate.  

How often to feed my kitten?

In general, younger kittens should be fed smaller meals more frequently.  This is to help allow them take in enough food for growth.  Their stomach capacity is small, therefore they require frequent meals.  

Over time, the number of meals can be gradually reduced so that by the time your kitten reaches adulthood, they will be on one or two meals per day.  Many cats prefer to graze feed throughout the day, and this is acceptable provided they maintain a healthy body condition and are not allowed to become overweight.

Ensure that your kitten has free access to a continual supply of fresh drinking water in a suitable sized container.

Should I feed my kitten a home-made diet?

It can be tempting to feed a pet a diet made up of human food and table scraps.  However, it is a challenge to create a home-made diet that is complete and balanced, especially in the long term.  Kittens need a complete and balanced diet that is specially formulated to support their healthy growth and development.  A high quality super premium pet food such as ADVANCE™ provides this peace of mind.

In addition, some human foods can be toxic to pets such as grapes, raisins, onions and chocolate. 

Should I feed my kitten dry or wet food?

Dry and wet foods are equally nutritious.  The feeding of both dry and wet foods is known as ‘mixed feeding’.  This method of feeding provides a pet with taste and texture variety and enables them to get the benefits that each feeding format offers.

ADVANCE™ kitten diets are suitable for all breeds, so you can be sure there's a diet that’s just right for your kitten.

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Gum disease in cats

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This is an image of a vet examining a cat.

The stats

70% of cats aged over 3 years have some form of gum disease, yet less than 10% of pet parents realise their pet has a dental health issue.  By establishing a good oral health routine from a young age, your cat can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

 

The stats

70% of cats aged over 3 years have some form of gum disease, yet less than 10% of pet parents realise their pet has a dental health issue.  

By establishing a good oral health routine from a young age, your cat can avoid becoming part of this statistic. 

Teething

Kittens start losing their temporary teeth (also known as milk teeth) between 3½ and 4 months of age.  These are replaced by a set of adult teeth. The milk teeth usually fall out easily, but during this time a kitten may have sore gums and eat a bit less than usual.  By the time your kitten is 6 to 7 months old, they should have all of their permanent teeth. 

Gum disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is common in cats, so start dental care while your kitten is young.  

Plaque can form on the teeth which contains bacteria and leads to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).  Plaque can then mineralise to form tartar which leads to bad breath and gum recession.  If left untreated, this painful condition can eventually lead to tooth loss and even systemic disease such as organ failure. 

Tooth brushing

Prevention is better than cure, and the most effective way to prevent tartar deposits is to brush your cat’s teeth daily.  

Step 1: Start with pet toothpaste

Sit your cat in your lap or a favourite resting place.  Using washed hands, apply a small strip of specially designed pet toothpaste to your finger and allow your cat to lick it off.  Repeat a few times.  Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of different pet enticing flavours.  Never use human toothpaste as it’s toxic to pets.

Step 2: Now get your cat accustomed to having their mouth and teeth touched

Apply pet toothpaste to your clean finger, lift your cat’s lip and smear the pet toothpaste on the teeth and gums.  Start slowly progressing only as far into the mouth as your cat is comfortable. Be gentle and patient and use lots of positive reinforcement (treats, verbal praise).  

Step 3: Progress to using a finger-brush and then a cat toothbrush

Prepare the brush with pet toothpaste and gently brush to clean the outside surfaces of the teeth and gums.  Many pets won’t allow you to brush the inside surfaces of the teeth.

Step 4: Toothbrush the back teeth

Be sure to brush the back teeth as they tend to quickly build up tartar.  Progress only at a pace your cat is comfortable, and keep up the positive reward based training.

Gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing your cat’s teeth.  Ideally, toothbrushing should be done every day.

Additional help

Specially designed dental dry food such as ADVANCE™ Dental Cat can be offered when your cat becomes an adult.  Dental treats such as Feline GREENIES™ can be used daily, and fed from 1 year of age.  These products are designed to help reduce plaque and tartar accumulation.  They can be especially helpful for pets who won't allow their teeth to be brushed.  

Follow these tips, to keep your cat’s pearly whites in top shape!

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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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Should I feed wet or dry food?

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This is an image of a dog and cat together.

Wet and dry food

There's an ever increasing range of pet food products available, often in a variety of formats.  Many pet parents wonder if they should be feeding dry food, wet food or a combination.  Each feeding format has specific advantages so let’s take a look at some of them.

Wet and dry food

There's an ever increasing range of pet food products available, often in a variety of formats.  Many pet parents wonder if they should be feeding dry food, wet food or a combination. 

Each feeding format offers specific advantages so let’s take a look at some of them.

Wet food

• Comes in a variety of packaging types such as tray, pouch and can

• Provides variety to a pet’s diet through flavour and texture

• Food is sterilised through cooking, so no preservatives are added

• Easy to chew texture can help puppies and kittens, as well as senior pets

• Provides additional moisture, especially beneficial to the pet when the weather is warm

• Aromas and texture can help tempt fussy eaters

• High moisture content helps maintain lower urinary tract health

• Less calorie dense than dry food, so can assist with weight loss and healthy weight management

Dry food:

• Concentrated nutrition, so you feed less

• Economical

• Convenient to use and store

• Crunchy kibbles may help improve dental health and freshen breath

• May contain active ingredients such as stabilised Green Lipped Mussel powder for joint health

Should I feed wet or dry food?

Wet and dry foods are equally nutritious.  The important thing is that you offer your pet a diet that is complete and balanced for their life-stage.

The feeding of both wet and dry food formats together is known as ‘mixed feeding’.  This method of feeding provides a pet with taste and texture variety and enables them to get the benefits that each feeding format offers.  In other words, mixed feeding provides a pet with the best of both worlds, so it's a great choice. 

When feeding both ADVANCE™ wet and dry food, simply halve the recommended quantities of each product and let your pet enjoy the advantages of both formats.

What about home prepared and raw feeding?

Some pet parents want to feed the wild nature of their cats and dogs, but it’s important to remember that our couch-dwelling pets have evolved quite a bit from their days as wolves and free-roaming cats. 

Cats and dogs require about 40 essential nutrients, each in the right form and in the right amount (balanced) to deliver complete nutrition.  Formulating a pet’s diet means ensuring that the minimum and maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals are met – and that adds an extra element of risk to home-prepared or raw meals.

While raw meat can be a novelty for your pet, it has to be very fresh.  A recent study, published in Vet Record, has found that raw meat can contain high levels of bacteria that may pose health risks for your pet.  The researchers also explain that such food could present a health risk to you, or others in your household if their immune system is compromised (children, the elderly or anyone using immune system suppressant medication for a health condition).

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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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Biting and scratching in kittens

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Natural born hunter

Kittens begin to develop play behaviour at an early age, and this includes mastering the use of their sharp teeth and claws!  Here we take a look at the basis for these play behaviours, and what you can do if your kitten’s play is a little overzealous!

Natural born hunter

Kittens begin to develop play behaviour at an early age, and this includes mastering the use of their sharp teeth and claws! 

Young kittens love to stalk, chase and pounce.  They also wrestle, bite and scratch their littermates and mother - all in the name of fun.  This behaviour is helping the kitten learn the hunting behaviours that used to be essential for survival.  Luckily, your kitten can now depend on you for their next meal, but their instincts run deep!  In fact, your kitten's instinct to hunt is so strong that they'll do it even when they aren’t hungry. 

Bite inhibition

Kittens learn to inhibit any overly aggressive behaviour while they are still with their littermates and mother.  If play is too rough, a sibling or mum will let the offending kitten know by way of a growl or a well-placed swipe, and play might stop.  Through this process, kittens learn to control aggressive behaviour.

Proper socialisation

Socialisation helps a kitten learn how to interact appropriately with humans and other animals.  Kittens who are poorly socialised or handled roughly by people may develop behaviours that are aggressive and don’t learn to control their biting intensity.

Help!  My kitten is biting and scratching me

While your kitten is young, all those little bites and scratches are really just playfulness.  But if you find your kitten is coming on a bit too strong, try interrupting the game and ignoring them for a while. 

If your kitten bites you, make a short sharp yelping sound.  At the same time withdraw your attention from your kitten and ignore it.  This shows your kitten that when they bite, the fun and play stops.  When your kitten is calm, gently praise and reward them. 

Make sure that you are consistent in how you interact with your kitten.  Don't allow your kitten to play roughly with you so that you aren't encouraging biting and scratching behaviour.  

Be mindful of the signals you (and others) send if you do play wrestle with your kitten.  Don't let them nip or scratch you just because they're cute and small.  They will grow and get bigger and stronger!  It’s a good idea to encourage your kitten to wrestle with a toy, rather than you. 

Thankfully, most kittens grow out of the aggressive stage and develop into lovely natured cats, more interested to smooch than to bite you.

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Make playtime awesome!

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Prioritise play

Playtime is an essential daily activity for all kittens, especially those that live indoors.  Here we offer some great playtime ideas to keep your feline buddy entertained.

Prioritise play

Playtime is an essential daily activity for all kittens, especially those that live indoors.

Play helps a kitten condition their muscles and joints which supports physical health.  It also provides much needed mental stimulation helping a kitten keep their mind sharp. 

When you get involved in playtime, you both get to share wonderful bonding time as well as the opportunity to create precious memories.  By stimulating their hunting instinct, your kitten won't be able to resist joining in by pouncing and jumping. 

 

Great playtime ideas

• Playful kittens adore anything that you can make move, twitch or disappear out of sight! 

• Toys with feathers or anything on a string will bring out your kitten's natural hunting instincts:

Watch as your kitten stalks and pounces, but beware of those sharp little claws!  Be sure to let your kitten catch their 'prey' now and then, otherwise playtime will lead to a build-up of frustration.  This can be an issue particularly with laser style cat toys.  To combat this, ensure your play session ends by allowing your cat to hunt and catch an actual, physical toy. 

• Other toys a cat will love include catnip mice and sacks, bouncy balls and balls filled with toys

• Treat dispensing toys are great and can also be used by cats.  Be sure to account for this food in your cat's daily ration and let your cat 'play' for their meal. 

• Consider cutting a hole in a cardboard box, and see how your kitten enjoys playing and hiding in it.

• A cardboard tube will give you and your kitten endless entertainment, especially if something pops out of the end!

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Bringing your kitten home

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Settling in

Lots of kittens can seem timid when they first move to a new home.  It's understandable, as leaving the only family they've ever known to start another life with a new family is a pretty big deal!  Here we offer our tips for helping your new arrival feel at home in no time.

Settling in

Lots of kittens can seem timid when they first move to a new home.  

It's understandable, as leaving the only family they've ever known to start another life with a new family is a pretty big deal!  Here are our tips for helping your new arrival feel at home in no time.

Take it slow

Don't be in a rush to remove the cat carrier your kitten was transported in.  Instead, leave it in the corner of the room where your kitten will sleep to create a familiar refuge.  Initially, a new kitten might hide quite a bit until they become more accustomed to their new home.  Don’t worry, it won’t be long before they will be out and about exploring their new surroundings.

Essential items

Provide your kitten with a litter tray on one side of the room and a fresh bowl of food and water on the other.  You might like to also supply a few other hiding places such as a cardboard box (a perennial kitten favourite!) to help your kitten feel safe and secure. 

Leave your kitten's food and water bowls, as well as litter tray in the same spot so they can be located easily.

Keep things quiet

In order for your kitten to adapt to a new environment and settle into a regular feeding and sleeping routine, the household should be kept relatively quiet and visitors kept to a minimum for the first two weeks.  Children should be reminded that the new kitten needs lots of rest and should not be over-handled. 

Wait before making introductions

If you have other pets at home, it’s best not to introduce them just yet.  Provide your kitten with their own space for the first few days or weeks.  This will help boost your kitten's confidence levels.

Exploring the home

Once your kitten has settled in, and developed a regular routine of eating, drinking and using the litter tray, they will become curious about their new home and be keen to start to explore.  Ensure this is well supervised, and limit your kitten to the areas of your home where you spend the most time.  This provides the opportunity to reinforce desirable behaviour.                 

Finally, remember not to let your kitten outside until they are fully vaccinated.  If they arrived fully vaccinated, it's still best to keep your kitten indoors for the first 2 to 3 weeks.

Other pets in the home can then be introduced very slowly and only under close supervision.

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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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