How To Keep Your Cat Happy At Home Alone
As much as we would all like to spend every minute of the day with our beloved kitties, we all have other things to do. It’s a familiar feeling: we head out to work and feel a little tug on our heartstrings – will the cats be ok whilst we are out? Will they have enough to do? Will they get bored? Will they remember that I even exist when I get home in 6 hours time? Well, just for you, here are some tips for keeping your cat happy at home alone:
Heading out to work
If you are just going to be away for the day, your cat will be just fine. Leave them some toys and plenty of fresh water, feed them before you leave and when you get back you have the perfect routine they will look forward to. In fact, as cats are crepuscular mammals (a fancy phrase for ‘animals that wake up when twilight falls’) they will probably spend the day sleeping and wake up just in time for your arrival home in the evening.
The above holds for adult cats and kittens over 4 months old. Cats and kittens over 4 months of age can be left comfortably for between 6 and 8 hours at home alone. Younger kittens need more supervision though, and although they should be ok alone for around 5 hours, you could consider popping home during your lunch break to give them a stroke and some loving attention. Kittens left alone for long periods of time can become neurotic cats!
Heading out on vacation
If you are going on vacation and leaving your cats there are a few more things to consider. For 1-2 days your adult cats (not young kittens!) should be just fine without you as long as you give them a lot of TLC when you return and leave them enough food. Remove all hazards (e.g. bottles of hair colorant that could be tipped over by an inquisitive little cat) and lock them away. Make sure they have plenty of bowls of fresh water and (if they are indoor cats) consider leaving a faucet dripping for them to lap from if something happens to make their water bowls undrinkable. Leave them lots to keep occupied with: catnip toys, treat dispensers and more!
An electronic food dispenser is a good idea if you can afford one. These handy little devices keep food fresh and are on a timer so the lids will pop open to reveal the food at breakfast and dinner time each day. With some snazzy machines you can even record a message for your cats which will play at a set time each day!
For longer vacations, have a friend or a pet sitter look in on your precious felines. They will need to change their water, replenish their food, and scoop out the sandbox. Leaving cats completely alone with no-one to look in on them for longer than a few days is not a good idea – male cats especially can suffer from urinary tract blockages that become fatal if left unnoticed.
But, take precautions, and you can leave your cats home alone with complete peace of mind!
Download our 10 fun exercises and toy that will entertain your cat.
Meow for now… Kristian Taylor
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5 Best Tips For Managing Allergies To Cats
Ach-oo! Do you have a cat allergy? Or perhaps your partner, child or housemate does and you feel that this is preventing you from getting the cute furry pet you have always dreamed of. Allergies to cats do not need to get in the way of your relationship with cuddly felines! Read on to get some hot tips on managing allergies to cats.
What causes allergies to cats?
The answer may surprise you. Many people think that cat allergies are caused by cat fur, but in fact this is not the case. Rather, it is the protein in cats urine saliva and dander (dander is the name for dried flakes of skin) that cause the allergy. The symptoms of cat allergies include an itchy throat, a runny nose, and swollen reddened eyes – not much fun, huh? These symptoms are due to your immune system over-reacting to the aforementioned proteins. If you want the technical name for these proteins, the most common is referred to as ‘Fel d 1’.
Experts estimate that cat allergies are twice as common as allergies to dogs. But, for many people, cats are way more than twice as cute as dogs! What can you do? Well, there are several options for ensuring that those pesky proteins don’t stop you enjoying all of the kitty hugs you want…
Yes, you heard right: some cat breeds are considered hypoallergenic. That is because certain breeds of cat simply produce less of those proteins associated with allergies. So, if you have an allergy to regular cats but still want a kitty around the home, you can simply opt for one of these breeds. Luckily, the hypoallergenic cat breeds include some of the most majestic and elegant kitties you have ever seen.
Hypoallergenic cat breeds include: Bengal cats, the Russian Blue, the Oriental Shorthair and the Burmese, Siberian and Balinese cats. If you want a cat that sounds like a dinosaur but is also hypoallergenic then may I recommend the Devon Rex or the Cornish Rex?
If you have a very strong cat allergy, you may still get a slight reaction from these cat breeds, but it will generally be much less strong than the reaction you would get with a cat breed that is not considered hypoallergenic.
Cat urine is a big source of allergens, so one way to manage your cat allergy is simply to practice good hygiene. Train your kitties to go to the bathroom out in the yard and you won’t have any of that irritating protein hanging around the sandbox. If your cats simply must have a sandbox indoors, get a member of the household who does not suffer from a cat allergy to clean it regularly. Place the sandbox well away from where you humans spend most of your time (for instance in the basement or the spare room).
As all tom cat owners know, as male kittens grow up they start to spray urine wherever they can. Whilst for them this is an important way of marking their territory, for people who suffer from cat allergies it is a nightmare. Having your male kitten neutered as soon as possible (make sure to consult with your veterinarian about what might be an appropriate age) will help to rid them of this habit (often overnight, just like magic!).
If you need to, you can always have medication on hand for when your cat allergies get bad. Often, these allergies will go in cycles, and you will have long periods of feeling fine before your allergy flares up for a while. As long as you are only using the medication to deal with momentary flare ups (rather than relying on it all the time) it can be an appropriate way to deal with your allergy.
Simply don’t get too close
Keeping your distance from cats is probably the simplest way of managing an allergy to felines. Learn what works for you, and how long you can cuddle with a kitty without starting to sneeze. Or, just wash your hands as soon as you have petted your cat to rid your skin of dander.
So there you have it. Cat allergies can be inconvenient, but if you know how to manage them you can enjoy a rewarding friendship with your furry companion!
Meow for now… Kristian Taylor
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Cat Behaviour: Kneading, What you Need to Know And Why
Kneading can be cute or highly annoying. Often this depends on whether the cat is doing it to your old thick-piled jumper or your bare arm! Kneading is when a cat uses their paws and claws to push forward and back rhythmically, alternating between the left and right paw. But why do they do it? Surely every cat owner has found themselves asking this question at least once in their life: just why do cats knead?
Kneading is pretty mysterious.
Let’s make that clear before we start. Though there are several plausible hypotheses about why cats knead, no-one knows exactly why it happens. Perhaps it is a combination of factors. That said, there are three probable reasons why cats knead:
Remembering their infancy
If you have ever seen a mother cat feeding her newborn kittens, you will likely have noticed the kittens using their paws to knead the mother’s mammary glands. This is a helpful instinct for baby kittens as it helps to stimulate the flow of milk, enabling them to get all of the nutrition that they need.
So, the theory goes, as cats grow up they continue to associate kneading with comfort. That is why, when you are cuddling them, they may start purring and kneading your jumper (or your bare flesh!). Cats also often suckle your jumper as they knead too – have you noticed? If your cat starts doing so, it might be because they see you as a maternal figure…awww.
The dead leaf theory
OK this one is less cute but still plausible. Have you ever seen a dog scratching the carpet and turning round a few times before lying down to sleep? The common explanation for this is that dogs have hard wired instincts to prepare the ground that they sleep on because dogs evolved to create themselves beds out of dried leaves or grass which needed scratching and scraping and crushing to make into the perfect nest.
Some people extrapolate this theory to encompass cats as well. They argue that kneading is part of a cat’s way of preparing its bedding, pressing it down to make a flat space to lie on. What do you think?
Finally, the ‘you’re mine’ theory
Cats are covered in scent glands. They have scent glands where you would not imagine it. One example is on top of their eyebrows: cats love rubbing their foreheads on your legs and the furniture because it releases their scent all over the surface they press against and tells other cats that this is their territory. We humans cannot smell this scent of course as we do not have such a sharp sense of smell as our kitties do. But rest assured, your home and your legs are well and truly smeared with your cat’s scent!
Another place that cats are known to have scent glands is in their paws. So (yes, you’ve probably guessed it by now) one theory goes that cats knead because it enables them to release the scent in these glands on their paws. It is their way of claiming you for their own. Whether you find that cute or creepy is up to you I guess!
Whatever interpretation you impose on kneading, one thing you can deduce if your cat starts to knead is that it is feeling happy, secure and safe. Whether it sees you as a pile of dead leaves, a piece of property to be marked with an invisible odor, or its mom (or a mixture of the three), there is no doubt that if your cat starts kneading your clothing or your leg as it lies on your lap it is showing you that it is enjoying the experience!
Does your cat knead? If so why not watch it and try and decide between the three theories of kneading presented here. Many cats dribble too when they are super happy – have you noticed your kitty doing that too?
One thing that has always struck me about feline kneading behavior is its rhythmic quality. This is especially prominent when you consider the rhythmic nature of purring, which also often accompanies kneading. I have sometimes heard that cat cannot understand the rhythms of human music, but when you watch them kneading and purring away, moving their left paw and then their right, it is easy to feel that cats have a rhythm all of their own.
Meow for now … Kristian Taylor
Celebrating Christmas With Your Cats: Safety And Fun
Christmas is a time for all the family, and for many of us, those families most definitely include cats. Cats can really enjoy Christmas too, though it is essential to remember that they have slightly different needs to humans. So without further ado, here are a few hints and tips to help you to enjoy the festive season with your kitties to the max:
Things cats enjoy about Christmas
From scrabbling around in torn up wrapping paper to unwrapping their own gifts with their claws to reveal a juicy fish treat or some catnip toys, there are plenty of things about the festive season that kitties just love! To ensure that they can enjoy the delights of torn paper and catnip in a safe environment, make sure that the room you are all going to be hanging out in this Christmas is cat-proofed.
Cat-proofing the room
Some Christmas decorations are harmful to cats, so make sure to do a little research before you hang them on the tree. Read our piece on cat proofing Christmas trees for further advice: tips here include using citrus scents to keep your cat away from the tree, opting for a tree with a firm base and staying away from long thin stringy decorations that your cat could swallow.
When unwrapping your own gifts,make sure to quickly remove anything small that cats might want to play with or even eat (such as sparkly earrings) far away from the cat’s sight.
Christmas can get pretty noisy, especially if their are kids around. Add to that the use of Christmas crackers and fireworks, and you have a recipe for a stressed out kitty. Always leave the door ajar so that your cat can seek a quieter place to be at any time. And, if you know that the festivities are going to get noisy, just gently carry your cats out of the room beforehand.
Keep rich Christmas food away from cats, as it can irritate their stomachs and leave them feeling sick. That will not make for a fun Christmas for either cats or humans! But, you can always give your kitty a special treat for Christmas, such as a piece of freshly caught fish or simply some cat treats from the pet store. Changing a cat’s usual diet too much can cause some cats stomach upsets though, so be careful!
Some people like to dress their kitties in costumes for the festive season, and a quick search online will show you that you can turn your cat into anything, from a pirate to a dinosaur. Some cats are used to wearing clothing and many breeds even need clothing to keep themselves warm when the cold weather hits. However, other felines can find wearing a costume stressful, particularly costumes which wrap around their heads as it can leave them feeling uncomfortably hot and confined.
Test out your kitty’s costume early – if they hate it, there are always other options you can try, such as purchasing them a sparkly collar instead.
Meow for now… Kristian Taylor
I love hearing your feedback, comments and ideas on what you would like me to write about. Leave a comment below or on our facebook page.
Curiosity Killed The Cat: Why Cats Hate Water
All cat lovers have seen the often hilarious results that occur when cats come into contact with water, now all your questions are answered about why cats hate water. Whether it is a glass of water spilled accidentally on your precious feline’s carefully groomed fur, or the sight of your devoted cat dancing carefully around the edge of a full bathtub as you soak in there with a good book, we have all seen our furry friends express their distaste for water. But why is this?
No-one likes feeling soggy
How would you like to walk around in soaking wet clothes? Pretty uncomfortable, huh? As anyone who has got caught in a shower of rain knows, it’s pretty uncomfortable, and that is just how most domestic cats feel when they get covered in water. It can also be very cold for cats, and especially kittens, which isn’t something that they like! (link to keeping cats cool in summer).
Most of the water that a domestic cat will come into contact with will come from the faucet. As we all know, cats have very highly developed senses of smell and the chemicals that make faucet water fit for human consumption can smell very bad to cats. So, as well as the horrible cold, wet feeling, many cats just hate the way that indoor water like this smells.
So don’t be surprised if your kitty seems ok with the rain but hates the tiny splash of faucet water on their paws. Perhaps the rain just smells ‘cleaner’ to them. Which brings us on to my next point…
Some cats do love water! (natural water that is)
Yes, you heard right – there is a specific breed of cat that adores swimming. This is the wild Turkish Van Cat, which is named after its favorite swimming spot: Lake Van in Turkey. This breed of cat actually developed around the lake, and the animals clearly lived in symbiosis with the large body of water beside which they had made their home. This perhaps lends strength to the argument that domestic cats have evolved to hate water as we have bred those cats in conditions where shelter from the rain is a norm. So, for the regular domestic cat a bath or a shower of rain is a scary and strange experience to be avoided at all costs!
Quick Fact: The Turkish Van Cat is also known as ‘the swimming cat’. There are several other species of wild cats which love water. The Norwegian wild cat for instance actually hunts for fish in lakes and streams, often getting thoroughly wet in the process. This is one of the ways these cats play!
How about your cat? Are you regularly scrubbing him or her down with some pampering feline shampoo? Or, do they simply prefer to curl up by the fire and watch the rain, staying well away from all water that is not in their water bowl?
With an ever expanding range of cat bathing products on the market, it is clear that many people *are* opting to introduce their cat to water on a regular basis. My view is that as long as your moggy is happy that is all that matters. Bathing a cat is not essential – many cat owners never ever bathe their felines – but some cats do (it seems) like to wet their whiskers now and again.
Do you know of a cat who likes water? I would love to hear your story. Leave a comment below or contact me so we can feature your story.
Meow for now … Kristian Taylor