Blog posts for February 2019

 

Importance of quality nutrition for kittens

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This is an image of a kitten playing.

Big changes

Kittenhood is an amazing time of change and development, both physically and mentally.  Fuelling the incredible changes that you see in your kitten is the nutrition you provide.  It can be argued that no other factor plays such a crucial role in the overall health and wellbeing of pets as a nutritionally balanced diet.  So choosing the right diet is vitally important. 

Big changes

Kittenhood is an amazing time of change and development, both physically and mentally.

Fuelling the incredible changes that you see in your kitten is the nutrition you provide.  It can be argued that no other factor plays such a crucial role in the overall health and wellbeing of pets as a nutritionally balanced diet.  So choosing the right diet is vitally important. 

How long should I feed kitten food for?

Cats are considered adult at around 12 months of age, and can then be transitioned to an adult cat formula.  Until then, keep your kitten on a complete and balanced growth formula, and ensure they maintain a healthy body condition.

How can ADVANCE™ support my kitten's health? 

ADVANCE™ has been formulated to support multiple pet health indicators.  This is achieved through high quality ingredients, potent actives as well as synergetic complexes of nutrients.

ADVANCE™ Kitten dry food contains:

• Colostrum to help protect the developing gut.

• Antioxidants which help prevent cellular damage and provide a natural defence for your pet against Australia’s harsh climatic conditions.

• Enhanced levels of zinc and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids for a healthy skin and shiny coat.

• Smart start – fish oil (natural source of DHA) and enhanced levels of Choline to help support brain development.

• Yucca extract to reduce litterbox odour.

Every ingredient in ADVANCE™ serves a precise purpose to deliver the superior nutrition your kitten needs. 

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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Indoor or outdoor cat?

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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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Digestive upset in kittens

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Bellyache

Did you know that digestive upset is common in kittens?  Rapid dietary change and the stress associated with moving to a new home, plus other causes such as infectious agents, can lead to loose faeces, diarrhoea or vomiting. 

Bellyache

Did you know that digestive upset is common in kittens? 

Rapid dietary change and the stress associated with moving to a new home, plus other causes such as infectious agents, can lead to loose faeces, diarrhoea or vomiting. 

Avoid milk

Once kittens are weaned from their mother, they no longer require milk as part of their diet.  The feeding of cow’s milk to kittens can lead to digestive upset, and should be avoided.  Lactose-free pet milk is an option, but a complete and balanced kitten diet will supply all the essential nutrition your kitten needs. 

How can I avoid my kitten getting an upset tummy?

  • Ensure that your kitten's vaccinations and worming treatments are up to date
  • Avoid access to food scraps and garbage
  • Offer small, frequent meals
  • Make any diet changes gradual, over a period of 7 days.  Add a small proportion of the new diet to the kitten’s regular diet on the first day.  The proportion of the new diet should be gradually increased each day, so that it makes up half of the kitten’s food on day 4 and the whole meal by day 7.

When to call the Vet

If your kitten is experiencing diarrhoea, vomiting or lethargy be sure to take them for a check-up at the Vet.  Dehydration can occur quickly in youngsters.  Signs of dehydration include dry skin that lacks elasticity such as neck skin that stays tented when gently pinched, lethargy, increased heart rate, high fever and a dry mouth.

By feeding a high quality, highly digestible kitten food you will reduce the chance of an upset tummy in your kitten.                                                                                 

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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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Scratching behaviour in cats

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Scratching

Scratching is a normal feline behaviour that serves a range of important functions for a cat.  However, in the interest of a happy co-existence with your kitty, it’s important that this behaviour is directed onto appropriate surfaces.  Training is best started early on in kittenhood.  Read on for tips to help save your furniture.

Why do cats scratch?

Scratching is a normal feline behaviour. 

It’s used to groom nails, for marking territory (both visual as well as scent signals) and to help cats stretch and condition their muscles.  Most cats have 5 claws on each front leg and 4 claws on each hind leg, for a grand total of 18 claws.

Given that scratching serves a range of functions for a cat, it’s not a behaviour that can be stopped.  It is however a behaviour that needs to be directed onto appropriate surfaces.  Your kitten needs you to help them understand what is okay to scratch and what isn’t.  The effort you put in will be a life saver for your furniture and other valuables.

What do cats like to scratch?

In general, cats are attracted to textured surfaces and items they can sink their claws into.  However, different cats prefer different scratching surfaces, so initially you might like to offer a range of surfaces and see what your kitty is fond of.  Common materials to try are sisal rope, cardboard, carpet, rough fabrics and wood. 

Cats will often have a scratch after they wake from a nap and when they want to mark their territory.  They also like to scratch when they’re excited about something.

How do I prevent my cat scratching the furniture?

Ideally begin training to use the scratching post while your cat is young.  Supply both vertical and horizontal surfaces covered with your cat’s preferred material.  Make the scratching surfaces desirable by placing catnip or treats on them and train your cat by encouraging them with a toy held part way up, and reward the cat for using it.

If the cat prefers another material, such as the couch, attempt to get an appropriate item covered in a similar material.

Never punish your kitten or cat if you see them scratching an item they shouldn’t, as this will only teach them that scratching the item while you are around is scary.  Your cat will likely continue to scratch it when you are gone.

A better method is to cover the inappropriate item in double sided sticky tape or another material such as plastic which makes the item aversive at all times.  Meanwhile, positively reinforce the cat with praise and treats when they scratch the appropriate item.

Nail care can also help reduce inappropriate scratching.  Pair nail trims with positive reinforcement eg treats to create a positive association for your cat.

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Socialising your kitten

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This is an image of two kittens playing.

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your kitten                                                              

What your kitten experiences in their first few months will influence the rest of their life.  In fact, their early experiences shape their future character.  Cats that are under socialised may become shy and fearful.  In contrast, kittens that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident adults.   

Positive socialisation practices are critical for your kitten                                                              

What your kitten experiences in their first few months will influence the rest of their life.  In fact, their early experiences shape their future character.  Cats that have been well socialised generally grow into happy, confident adults.  

Socialising your kitten involves introducing them to a whole range of new experiences including meeting different types of people, other animals, places, smells and noises. 

Positive socialisation

Be sure to present socialisation experiences in a gentle way that helps your kitten become accustomed to them.  Reward your kitten for calm behaviour and move only at a pace your kitten can handle.  If your kitten seems nervous or fearful, that's your cue to slow things down.  The aim is for new experiences to be presented in a positive way so that your kitten can develop into a relaxed, confident cat.  

Remember that it's still important that socialisation continues throughout your cat's life. 

Here are some typical situations in which kittens should be socialised:

Environment

  • Drive in the car
  • Trips to the vet.  Have your kitten weighed, handled and restrained for a health check
  • Using a cat carrier
  • At home, exposure to different floor surfaces, steps, tools, cleaning, working, music, pram
  • Outside (while on a harness) exposure to bicycles, gardening

Other animals

  • Other cats and kittens (all well-socialised and fully vaccinated)
  • Dogs (only cat-friendly ones)
  • Farm animals
  • Birds (in a manner where the bird is safely able to get away)
  • Any other animal they may come in contact with during their lifetime

Situations

  • Visitors in the home,
  • Being groomed
  • Having a picture taken
  • Being held (in a manner where they are never afraid and never dropped)
  • Tooth brushing
  • Nails clipped
  • Playing with a variety of toys

People

  • Children
  • People wearing glasses, hats
  • People with beards
  • Loud and timid people 

By providing your kitten with a wide range of positive socialisation experiences, you'll help them develop into a sociable and well-adjusted cat.

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