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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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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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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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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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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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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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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