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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.

Adult Cat

 

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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Ways to pamper your cat on their birthday

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This is an image of a cat.

Many happy returns

If your kitty has a birthday or anniversary coming up, we know you’re going to want to celebrate!  Our cats are special family members, so here’s some fun ways you can make the day memorable. 

Many happy returns

If your kitty has a birthday or anniversary coming up, we know you’re going to want to celebrate!  Our cats are special family members, so here’s some fun ways you can make the day memorable. 

Gift time

Buy your furry friend a gift to show them how much you care! 

Does your cat need a snazzy new collar, or maybe something to snuggle up with in their basket? 

Perhaps your cat needs a new toy they can chase and pounce on?  Playtime is an essential daily activity for all cats, and for those that live indoors, it may be their main source of exercise.  Play helps a kitty condition their muscles and joints which supports physical health.  It also provides much needed mental stimulation helping your cat keep their mind sharp.  New toys bring the novelty factor, and can encourage even the most snoozy of felines to get active!

Also consider a puzzle feeder toy as these provide mental stimulation to help keep your pet occupied when you’re not home. 

Book a pamper appointment

Perhaps your kitty could do with some spa treatment and a bit of a makeover?  Book them a pamper session at a local groomer to get the tangles out, as well as a nail trim, so they can look and feel great for their special day!

Make a cat-friendly ‘birthday cake’

Create a cat-friendly ‘birthday cake’ using a few tasty wet cat food trays layered up.  Choose flavours that your kitty loves, and you can also sprinkle some dry food kibble between the layers and decorate with cat treats on the top.  Don’t forget to sing happy birthday!

Have a snooze together

Take some time out from your busy schedule, and follow your cat’s lead … all the way to a quiet, sunny spot.  Take a birthday nap together, or get cozy on the couch for a movie.  You’ll feel like it’s your birthday too!

Photo shoot

Capture the special day on film, by booking a professional photo shoot.  That way you can both enjoy the session, without any frustrations!  A good pet photographer will design the session around your cat’s personality and comfort levels.  If your cat is shy and timid, the photographer can work with your cat and at a pace that suits them.  You’re sure to get the photos you want.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate your best friend’s special day, the main thing is that your feline buddy gets to spend extra time with you.  That will be the best present in the world!

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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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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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Indoor or outdoor cat?

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Lifestyle choice

Will your kitten be an indoor cat, outdoor cat or perhaps a mixture of the two?  Here we take a look at the various pros and cons of each living arrangement.

Lifestyle choice

Will your kitten be an indoor cat, outdoor cat or perhaps a mixture of the two? 

Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons for indoor and outdoor living.

Territory

Firstly, let’s define what is meant by a cat’s 'territory'. 

In the wild, a cat's territory is usually divided into a home range, and then extending beyond that, a hunting range. 

For domestic cats, a kitten's home range is your home.  So for indoor cats, their largest range extends to the boundary of where you will let them venture.  For outdoor cats, their territory is determined by a number of things such as the territories of other cats and the availability of resources such as food.  Your cat's territory can sometimes be surprisingly large!

Outdoor living

Pros:

• Plenty of ways to exercise such as climbing, scratching and hunting

• Lots of mental stimulation such as exploring and watching the world go by

• Opportunity to establish their own territory and patrol it

Cons:

• Hazards and dangers in the outside world such as other cats, dogs, cars etc

• May get into fights with other cats and be at risk of injury, as well as disease such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

• May be frightened by weather events such as thunderstorms and become lost

If you’re going to let your cat roam outside, make sure they’ve been microchipped and are equipped with identification such as an elasticated collar with a name tag.  Check with your council to see if there are cat curfews in place.

Thunderstorms, fireworks and loud parties can all be scary for a little kitten.  If you know events like these are happening in your area, keep your feline friend safe and secure inside. 

Indoor living

Pros:

• You are more able to control the environment, which technically should mean it's safer

However, the home harbours its own hazards for curious kittens such as fireplaces and chimneys, unsecured windows and household appliances such as washing machines and tumble driers.  Make sure you check such places regularly and keep them closed when not in use. 

Cons:

• Harder to get exercise, so indoor cats are at risk of obesity and are less mentally stimulated - so you'll need to provide the entertainment! 

Ensure your kitten has plenty of toys (rotated regularly) a scratching post and climbing equipment.  The general rule for the number of litter trays you’ll need is one extra to the number of cats in the house.  So for a single cat home, you’ll need 2 litter trays.

Best of both worlds

If you’d like your kitten to experience a mix of indoor and outdoor living, consider installing a cat enclosure at home.  That way your cat gets some exposure to the outside world, while staying safe.

You can also train your kitten to walk on a harness.

By considering each type of living arrangement, you can make the choice that will best suit you and your cat.

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Hunting behaviour in cats

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This is an image of a cat stalking.

Capable hunter

Your cute and adorable kitten was born to be a formidable hunter.  Stalking and catching prey is a big part of your kitten's natural behaviour.  If your kitten has access to the outside world, there’s a good chance that your feline friend will sometimes bring prey items home.

Capable hunter

Your cute and adorable kitten was born to be a formidable hunter. 

Stalking and catching prey is a big part of your kitten's natural behaviour, and kittens start to perfect these skills early on when playing with their littermates.

In the wild, mothers bring their kittens dead prey to eat.  As their kittens start to get a bit older, mum starts bringing home live prey instead.  This helps the kittens learn how to hunt and kill, setting them up with the survival skills they'll need when they're on their own.

Why is my cat leaving 'presents' on the door step? 

While your kitten can rely on you for their next meal, their instincts run deep.

If your kitten has access to the outside world, there’s a good chance that your feline friend will sometimes bring prey items home.  You might find these on the door step and be tempted to think you're being offered little 'presents'.

However, the main reason your kitten brings prey back home is actually to finish off the hunt.  When a cat first catches their prey, they grab it anywhere on its body they can.  However, to kill it, they need to bite its neck.  Your kitten can’t let go of their prey to do this, because there's no pack to stand guard.

So rather than adjusting their grip in the place where they caught their prey, your kitten carries it back home instead.  That way, if the prey should happen to escape, your kitten has a home ground advantage, and will be much more confident about catching it again.

If your kitten turns up on the doorstep carrying something they've caught, remember that your little hunter is simply following their natural instincts.  They're finishing off their hunt in a place where they feel safe, and won’t be disturbed by other predators. 

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Urine marking in cats

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This is an image of a cat relaxing.

Communication

In the wild, cats are mostly solitary, they rarely meet with other cats.  However, they still need ways to communicate effectively with each other.  Urine marking, or spraying, is one clever they can exchange information.

Communication

In the wild, cats are mostly solitary, they rarely meet with other cats.  However, they still need ways to communicate effectively with each other, such as to establish territory or indicate a willingness to mate.  Cats also try to avoid conflict. 

One communication method they use is via a system of scent-based ‘signposts’ using urine marking or spraying.  

Your kitten or cat may display urine marking behaviour too, and what's more, these signposts are continually refreshed to keep them up to date.

Spraying or a litter tray problem?

It’s important to work out if your cat is urine marking or having an issue with using their litter tray.  Remember that cats who urine mark will also urinate in their litter trays.  However, there are some clues to look for to help you work out what’s going on.

Vertical surfaces

Urine marking usually occurs on vertical surfaces.  A cat about to spray tends to back up to a vertical object such as a wall and displays an erect body posture with tail pointing straight up in the air.  Urine is then sprayed onto the vertical surface.  It’s not uncommon to see the cat’s tail and even their whole body twitch while they’re spraying.

Volume

The amount of urine that a cat releases for marking purposes is usually less than the amount they void when urinating in their litter tray.

Smell

As marking is a form of communication for cats, sprayed urine is particularly strong smelling.  This is because it contains chemicals including pheromones that help to convey additional information.

What should I do if my cat is spraying?

In some cases, urine marking can be a sign that your kitten or cat is feeling insecure, perhaps believing their territory is under threat.  If you’re having to deal with unwanted wee, don’t worry – there are lots of things you can do to help prevent it:

• Have your cat desexed to reduce their desire to urine mark.  Desexed cats of either gender can still spray, but entire male cats tend to do it the most

• Avoid using ammonia and chlorine cleaners as these smell similar to cat urine and may actually encourage marking behaviour

• Try not to clean up the wee while your cat is around as disrupting the scent might make them more stressed

• Clean the affected area with a 10% solution of biological washing powder, and spray it with an alcohol such as surgical spirit

• Soon after you’ve cleaned the area, encourage your cat to play there as this will help them feel more secure

If the problem continues, talk to your veterinarian for further advice.

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What your cat's tail is telling you

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This is an image of a cat walking.

Tail Talk

Would you like to know what your kitten is really thinking?  Well, there's a way to get inside your kitten's head and that's by becoming aware of their body language.  Here we'll take a look at what your kitten's tail movements can tell you about how they're feeling. 

Tail Talk

Would you like to know what your kitten is really thinking? 

Well, there's a way to get inside your kitten's head and that's by becoming aware of their body language.  In fact, your kitten's busy little tail is one of their most effective ways to communicate their mood.

Here’s our guide to what your kitten’s tail is telling you:

• Tail held high – your kitten is feeling happy and confident

• Wiggling at the base or tip – your kitten is saying a friendly “hello”

• Curled under their body – your kitten is feeling submissive

• Curled around another cat's tail or human legs - your kitten is being friendly

• Fluffed to more than twice its size – your kitten is scared, threatened and defensive  (if your kitten is also displaying an arched back, hair standing on end and unfurled claws then you should give them some space!)

• Rapid flicking – your kitten is agitated

• Wagging – your kitten is irritated (note that this is the opposite of a dog’s wagging tail!)

• Thumping – your kitten is highly frustrated, and may even attack

• Slowly twitching tail tip – your kitten is curious or excited (you’ll often see this when they're crouching)

So keep your eye on your kitten's tail.  You'll start to notice a wide repertoire of tail movements, and get to know you're kitten on a whole new level!

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