Blog posts for May 2019

 

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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Grooming your kitten

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Grooming

If your kitten is a long-haired breed, grooming throughout life will be a must.  However, grooming is recommended for all kittens as it's a great way to build on your relationship.  This is because grooming mimics the social bonds between a mother cat and her babies.  It's best if you try to establish good grooming habits early on, and ensure grooming time is a positive one by using positive reinforcement through treats and praise.   

Grooming 

If your kitten is a long-haired breed, grooming throughout life will be a must.  However, grooming is recommended for all kittens as it's a great way to build on your relationship.  This is because grooming mimics the social bonds between a mother cat and her babies. 

It's best if you try to establish good grooming habits early on, and ensure grooming time is a positive one by using positive reinforcement through treats and praise.   

How to groom your kitten

Ideally you've been handling your kitten regularly, so they're comfortable with having their skin and coat touched.  But don't worry if your kitten seems a bit hesitant when you pull out the brush for the first time. 

Let your kitten become accustomed to a brush and comb by letting them have a play with them first.  Stroke your kitten very gently, so they get comfortable with being handled.

Progress to using a comb through the coat moving from head to tail, being particularly gentle around the head.  Check the condition of the coat and skin, and look for signs of fleas or other parasites.  Then brush the fur to remove any dead hair. 

Be sure to move only at a pace that your kitten can handle.  Slowly build up the amount of time you groom your kitten, so that the experience is a positive one for both of you.

Dealing with tangles

Medium to long haired cats can get tangles in their coat.  Gently tease out any tangled hair with your fingers and remove it before you groom your kitten properly.  If you stick to a regular grooming schedule, tangles shouldn’t happen too often. 

If your kitten has got in a bit of a mess, dip a clean cloth in warm water, squeeze it out, and use it to wipe them down.  Don't use soap as it can irritate a kitten’s sensitive skin.  

Wiping the eyes

If needed, you can give your kitten's eyes a very gentle clean by carefully using a cotton ball moistened with warm water.  Use a different swab for each eye.  If you notice any abnormalities or discharge, be sure to have a check-up with your veterinarian. 

With practice and positive reinforcement, grooming can be bonding time you share while you help keep your kitten looking their best.

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Toilet training? Help is at hand!

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Puppy 03 puppy feeding time from Advancepet on Vimeo.

Toilet training

Toilet training your puppy is a process that will require time and patience.  Like all training, this should be based on a positive reward based training method.  Remember that every puppy is unique, so they all learn at their own pace.  Supervision and regular trips to the toilet area are key when it comes to successful toilet training.  Ideally, you want to avoid mistakes from happening in the first place.  Here we discuss our tips for toilet training success.

Toilet training 

Toilet training your puppy is a process that will require time and patience.  Like all training, this should be based on a positive reward based training method.  Remember that every puppy is unique, so they all learn at their own pace.

Your puppy has a small bladder and bowel so they will need to be taken outdoors to toilet regularly, otherwise accidents will happen!  Supervision and regular trips to the toilet area are key when it comes to successful toilet training.  Ideally, you want to avoid mistakes from happening in the first place.  Here we discuss our tips for toilet training success.

Regular toilet trips

To set your puppy up for success, take them out every hour during the day as well as anytime you see signs they may need to go.  These include sniffing, walking away or in circles, scratching at the floor, waiting by the door or being restless.  When your puppy relieves themselves in their toilet spot be sure to praise and reward them.  Young puppies will need to be taken outdoors to toilet at least every 2 to 3 hours during the night so set your alarm for the next few weeks!

If accidents happen

If you catch your puppy in the process of toileting inside, calmly pick them up and carry them outside.  

Never ever punish your puppy for toileting inside as this will only confuse your puppy and delay the process of toilet training.  These puppies tend to toilet out of sight of their owner for fear of being punished, for example, under the sofa, behind the TV, in another room etc.

Even in the rain

Teach your puppy that it's possible to go to the toilet outside when it's raining or the grass is wet! This means that initially you will have to take your puppy outside in the rain and wait until they go to the toilet.  Praise and reward for a job well done!

When you're out

If you need to leave your puppy alone while you're at work, confine them to an area such as the laundry or kitchen.  You can also create a suitable space using a puppy play pen.  Provide some comfortable bedding or use their crate leaving the door open, fresh water and a range of chew toys. 

Create a toileting area away from the puppy’s bed, as puppies naturally want to toilet away from their sleeping area.  Use whatever surface your puppy will be toileting on long-term.  For puppies that are likely to toilet on grass, use a litter tray containing turf.  For puppies that will live in a more urban environment, you could use a litter tray containing concrete tiles.  Materials such as newspaper or commercial pee pads can be used in a pinch, but they have the disadvantage of not helping the puppy develop a preference for the surface they will eventually be toileting on.  If you can use that type of surface now, you can help your puppy make the connection.

Consistency is key

Ensure that every member of the household is consistent when toilet training.  This will help your puppy learn faster.  Remember to be patient, and if you can maintain a good sense of humour during this period, that's an advantage!

Follow these tips and your puppy will be well on their way to being toilet trained.

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