It's Kitten Season - Start Your Kitten Off Right
Dr. Elizabeth Bales, Catvocate, Veterinarian and founder of the Feline Environmental Enrichment Design Company
Inventor and veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Bales says it's great to socialize your kitten early, just like a dog. There are even kitten socialization classes. She has some quick tips for enriching your cat's life. Dr. Bale is up next in the Fear Free Pets Expert Series on Animal Radio.
Spring is kitten season and if you're getting a kitten, there's a right way to raise them and a wrong way. Dr. Elizabeth Bales, who's not only a cat expert, but also the inventor of the NoBowl Feeding System for cats, will explain the wrong and right ways.
So why is it always spring when we see all of the kittens being born? Dr. Bales explains that this is because cats are what are called "seasonal induced ovulators." This means based on the daylight cycle, they're ready to start getting pregnant in early spring.
So what is the wrong way to bring up a kitten? Dr. Bales explains it's more of neglect or just lack of good information, which is causing a lot of the problems that we end up seeing in adult cats down the road. Now we have so much exciting and new information on how we handle and expose kittens to new things that really help to shape the rest of our cat's life.
One of those new things is socialization. We use to think that only dogs needed socialization and cats just never hit the radar. But as it turns out, it's really crucial that we socialize cats in a calm and informed way to end up with the kind of cat that is going to be a great companion for life.
So are there socialization classes for cats like there are for dogs? Dr. Bales states that there are, but they're harder to find. The more that people start asking for them, the more you're going to find them. You might want to call your veterinarian, your local humane society or even a cat rescue and ask for them. The more they hear from everyone about how important it is, the more you're going to find that information out there.
What kind of benefits do cats get from early socialization? The most important time for a kitten is it pretty early on, between three and seven weeks. We normally get kittens at six, seven or eight weeks of age. So during that time, we want to just gradually introduce them to new things when they're feeling relaxed and happy. These include things like putting them in a carrier and walking around the house and giving them treats while they are in there. It's also touching their ears and their paws and opening their mouth and making them feel comfortable and happy with that. Even just simple, regular handling by grown-ups and by children is a great benefit. We can teach our kids how to pick up and carry a cat and get the cat comfortable with that. Ultimately, the socialization that we talked about with other cats and even with other species, again, in controlled and relaxed ways that don't start fear but that make our cat feel comfortable and relaxed, is extremely beneficial.
If we don't socialize kittens early, what kind of behavior problems could we see? Just think about a cat that so many of us have come across later in life that hadn't been socialized. When people come over, these cats want to run and hide. They don't want to be carried. You try to pet them and they become afraid. When a cat is feeling fearful, their first instinct is to just get away from that fear by running and hiding. And if they feel that they can't do that successfully, then they can become aggressive and it's really just out of fear. They can also later that day or, or surrounding a stressful event, actually urinate or defecate outside the litter box. They may also be more likely to be aggressive or destructive towards our furniture and even our feet and toes, at a time different other than the stressful event.
What are some tips to enrich our cat's life? Dr. Bales explains that we want to go back to the basic needs of cats.
Cats need places to climb. This is one of those things that is so easily overlooked in our home environment. So the cats end up on the countertops or the kitchen table and other places we don't like. There are so many great options right now for cat shelves and cat trees. And if you have more than one cat, you want to offer multiple places in their favorite rooms for them to climb.
We also want to give our cats places to hide. A covered bed, even a simple box with a towel on the top, will do. You can even get some of those fancy beds that are covered. Just remember, you want to have something for each cat so that they don't have to get aggressive with each other over who gets what.
Our cats also love to play with us. Even as little as five minutes of play a couple times a day is really all your cat needs. Try to schedule two five-minute play sessions with your cat, one in the morning and one in the evening.
And then finally, you've got to give them ways to hunt for their food that doesn't involve us. Cats are actually solitary hunters. They want to hunt and eat alone.
So give your cat places to climb, places to hide, places to scratch, at least five minutes of play twice a day and an opportunity to hunt for their food in the house and you will have a happier, healthier cat.
Visit Fear Free Happy Homes for tips on making your home fear free and to locate a Fear Free Veterinarian near you. Go to Fear Free Pets to become certified.
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Are You A Kitten or a Real Cat!
Stephane Garner, How To Think Like A Cat
Stephane Garnier currently has three cats. He wrote his book, "How To Think Like A Cat," from spending time with his first cat, Ziggy, who he had for 15 years.
So what did he learn from Ziggy and his philosophy? A lot of things! Stephane tells us that one night he just saw Ziggy as more like a human. Ziggy was always happy and Stephane couldn't understand how he was happy all of the time! Stephane then went on a quest to find out just what Ziggy was doing every day. This is when he learned about 40 qualities that you need to feel good.
One of these things was how to start the day off right. How does a cat start out and how can we do the same? To Stephane this is very simple. Think about it. We are awakened by an alarm; we then jump out of bed and start running in every direction because we're always late for something. But think of the cat. When they awaken, they yawn and stretch in their bed and get up in a peaceful and relaxing way to start off the day right. This is an automatic reflex done by cats.
Surprisingly, Stephane has heard from people who have tried this. They ended up feeling better and were able to start their day more relaxed and Zen like. Stephane explains that it has to do with chemicals. When you yawn long and stretch in your bed, you're releasing chemicals in the brain that makes you happy. Stephane explains that we just have to take the time, and if you have cats, watch how they do it.
Another thing is that a dog is very eager to please a person, but cats don't seem to care and seem selfish by only wanting to please themselves. According to Stephane, cats are not selfish and this behavior is an example of the big differences between dogs and cats. Calling cats selfish is a human label that we have stuck to them without really understanding their attitude. In reality, cats think about their well-being first before giving to others. So for us, we must keep in mind that in order to be useful to others, we must already know how to give to ourselves. That's the same thing for love. We can't really love somebody if we don't love ourselves first. Therefore a cat is independent, but not selfish.
At the end of the book, Stephan has created a test called, "Asses Your Cat Quotient," which contains the 40 qualities that he describes in the book. You will learn how you to make some changes in your life and live better like a cat. Take the test and find out if you are a kitten or a real cat!
Mindy Sterling, Comedian/Actress
Comedian/Actress Mindy Sterling (Austin Powers) is doing a mewsical about cats along with Fred Willard, Emily Deschanel and Nicole Sullivan. These are only a smattering of celebrities that will be singing their heart out. Mindy is our guest this week.
Mindy Sterling tells us about CATSTRAVAGANZA, a very special "mewsical," presented by the Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, which is happening tonight in Los Angeles. Mindy will be one of the singers. Along side her will be Fred Willard (Modern Family), Emily Deschanel (Bones), Mindy Sterling (Con Man), Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds), Nicole Sullivan (Black-ish), Bethany Joy Lenz (Dexter), Elaine Hendrix (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll), Carla Jimenez (The Mick), Brendan Robinson (Pretty Little Liars), Lori Alan (Sponge Bob Square Pants) and Maiara Walsh (Switched at Birth). Along with singing, there will be dancers, children and even a kitty. There will be a little Hamilton as well as a lot of other types of music.
Consistently scoring two un-opposable thumbs up, Hamilton's Cats tells the story of a small-town cat rescue that decides to put on the musical Cats as a fundraiser for their organization. Sadly, no one is interested until they discover Andrew Lloyd Webber plans to attend. Now everyone wants in on the action!
CATSTRAVAGANZA raises money for The Kitty Bungalow Charm School for Wayward Cats, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that rescues, neuters, socializes and finds homes for feral kittens while providing outreach, education and Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) services in Los Angeles. 100-percent of all sales go to help rescue more homeless animals, thanks to the generous support of their sponsor, Solid Gold Pet Nutrition. Additional thanks go to Fizzion Concentrated Cleaners and Michelson Found Animals.
Come enjoy a world premiere of a new musical comedy spoof written and performed by some of your favorite funny people. You'll see stars and save kittens in one feline swoop on Saturday, April 21st at the Montalban Theater at 1615 Vine Street. Doors open at 7, featuring live music from Almond & Olive and magic by Fantastic Fig and his cat, Newton. Curtains go up at 8pm and the party continues until midnight (the kittens' purfew, when they turn back into pumpkins).
Mindy is a big animal lover and tells us that she has two cats and a dog and they all hate each other. She does say that she allows them to sleep in bed with her, because what's the point of having animals if they can't sleep with you! She does state, however, that she has to see a chiropractor every two weeks from sleeping in weird positions to accommodate her pets, but she doesn't care!
Coyotes Stalking our Neighborhoods - Dr. Debbie
I just saw a scraggly coyote in front of my house this morning - the second coyote sighting in my neighborhood this week. I feared what could have happened if my 15 pound terrier was outdoors alone. Wildlife is beautiful, but when my little terrier, Boss, is in harm's way - my doggie momma protective instincts kick in. While not a threat to be exaggerated, the coyote nonetheless poses a risk to our pet's safety.
Coyotes are increasingly becoming a concern in urban areas - some are displaced by the urban sprawl that consumes their potential habitat. But other coyotes become urbanized savvy to living, feeding and thriving within city environments. Coyotes are born opportunists and dine on what they find available. They eat small animals like rabbits and rodents, but also consume ample vegetable matter with up to 40-percent of their diet consisting of seeds, grasses, fruits and flowers.
The most serious coyote concern for pets is injury and predation. As a veterinarian, I can recall many a client whose pet was brought in injured by unknown wildlife or whose cat just one day reportedly just vanished. While many might believe their cat was stolen, in reality these cats most likely fell victim to coyote predation. Likewise, small to medium sized dogs can be injured or lost to the same fate as their feline counterparts.
Steps to Keep Your Pet Safe
Whether you have pets or not, it's important not to feed coyotes. Intentional feeding of coyotes makes them dependent on humans and less fearful which increases the chance of an unwanted, dangerous interaction with people or pets. Just leaving unsecured garbage is invitation enough for these opportunists. Secure all garbage in closing containers and avoid leaving bagged garbage at the curb overnight. Pick up uneaten pet food as soon as your pet has finished eating.
Pet owners should take precautions to keep their household pets protected as well. Keep cats indoors and maintain all pets on leash control when outdoors. Ensure your dogs and cats are up to date on their rabies vaccines. Even indoor cats that do not venture outdoors should be current on this vaccine for both pet and human safety.
Besides rabies, keep your pets current on other vaccinations, deworming and preventatives as recommended by your veterinarian. Coyotes are known to harbor carry skin mites, canine distemper virus, canine parvovirus, adenovirus and heartworm disease. So even if your dog never leaves your yard, there is potential for infectious disease crossover between wildlife and your pet.
These wild canids are masters at adapting to their changing world, and it's unrealistic they are going away on their own. As humans we are the ones that need to change to make urban areas less appealing, removing easy feeding sites, and by raising awareness to the potential crossover between wildlife and pets.
Featured veterinarian known as "Dr. Debbie" on national pet radio program, Animal Radio. Ebook author of "Yorkshire Terriers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Pugs: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; "Mini Schnauzers: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend"; and "Shih Tzu: How to Be Your Dog's Best Friend." Dr. Debbie's books.
The Dogfather's Grooming Tip with Joey Villani
How to Remove Urine Smell For Your Pets and Repel Fleas at the Same Time
Joey tells us about a client of his who left their three dogs for a week in the care of someone they found from Rover.com. It seemed to go really well; the dogs seemed happy and the owners received updates and pictures. However, when the dogs were returned, they were soaked in urine smell.
Joey explains that any dog left with him would never be returned to an owner smelling like urine. However, when a dog is kept in any kind of kennel, they usually don't come back smelling all that great.
In this situation, the owner was actually a professional groomer as well. When she got her dogs back, she bathed them three times and could not get the smell out. She called Joey in a panic asking what could be done.
Of course Joey always has a good remedy. He states if you ever have this situation, you want to get yourself some apple cider vinegar. You will dilute one cup of the apple cider vinegar into a cup of distilled water. If you don't have any distilled water, plain tap water will work. However, distill water will work better because it doesn't have the minerals in it that tap water contains, which can discolor some coats. Next put in a couple of drops of degreaser. This can be any type of detergent, like Dawn Dish Detergent. Remember, you only need a couple of drops of degreaser. The degreaser will then give the water and vinegar substance to hold on. If you don't add a degreaser, the water and vinegar will just rinse away and not stay on your pet. When you have added all of the ingredients, shake the mixture really well.
When applying it to your dog, don't get in the eyes because it will irritate them. You should stay away from the head or at least stay a few inches back from the eyes, because the fumes sometimes can get a little bit tough.
Before you apply this mixture, bathe your pet with your regular dog shampoo. When you are done, pour the mixture on your pet. When it dries, it's going to remove the urine odor. You may smell some of the vinegar, but that smell will go away within an hour after drying.
If you keep the remaining mixture in a spray bottle, it only has a shelf life for about a week or two before it starts to sour. Before throwing the remainder out, you should know it also repels fleas. You can spritz your dog before talking them out on a walk and it will repel the fleas naturally.
This mixture will keep your dog smelling good and itchy free. And if you have a cat and need to remove a urine smell or repel fleas on them, since they don't like spray bottles, put it on a sponge and wipe them down with it.
Animal Radio News - Lori Brooks
Does Your Dog Prefer Strangers Over You?
Whether your pet wants to be around you or a stranger depends on the situation, according to a new study. Scientists already knew that dogs interact with objects and explore a room more in the presence of their owner than with a stranger. And pets greet their owners longer and more enthusiastically than non-owners after a period of separation. A new study has shown, though, that how dogs behave with their owners vs. strangers may depend on the context and the task. Researchers in Florida gave pet dogs recruited from homes a choice of getting petted by their owner or by a stranger in different situations. One group was tested with their owner and a stranger in a familiar place, a room in their own home. Another was tested with their owner and a stranger in an unfamiliar place. The dogs were free to do whatever they wanted. If they approached a human, the person petted them for as long as they were close. Turns out it is all about location. In an unfamiliar place, the dogs spent more of their interaction time with their owners, nearly 80 percent. But in a familiar place such as in their own home, the animals spent more with the stranger, around 70-percent. You can read more about it in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.
UK Bans Ivory Sales
The United Kingdom will introduce a new ban on ivory sales, which will be one of the strictest in the world allowing for only narrow exceptions. Violators will face up to five years in jail or an unlimited fine. While much of the demand for ivory comes from Asia, Europe also has a large market.
Smucker Buys Rachael Ray Pet Food
There are more big changes in the world of pet food. The J.M. Smucker Co. has announced it will buy Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, maker of Rachael Ray's Nutrish brand. The deal is valued at about $1.7 billion. Smucker expects Ainsworth to contribute net sales of about $800 million in the first full year after closing the deal.
Police Department Adopts New Crime Fighter
The Troy Police Department in Michigan has chosen its new crime fighter, a cat. The police department put out a Twitter challenge stating, "If we get 10,000 followers by April, we want a police cat." It reached the goal very fast and they adopted a kitten from a nearby shelter. The kitten will be living with an officer who already has two adult cats at home. So what about a name? That will be done via a contest with kids at the city's public schools. Once it's old enough, the cat will also be go out for community outreach and will also visit the Troy Police Department to hang out with other officers.
Family Receives $75,00 after Deputy Shoots Dog
There may finally be closure for the owners of a dog that was shot and killed by a sheriff's deputy in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The family will receive $75,000 in connection with the settlement of a lawsuit. The deputy's body camera captured part of the encounter with the large dog two and a half years ago. The video showed the deputy saying, "Dog, you're about the die, you understand me? You're about to die," before chuckling. But the recording ends before the deputy shot the dog in the owner's yard. The deputy said the 2-year-old Presa Canario named Tank leapt at him, but that wasn't seen on video because the body cam had been turned off. The sheriff's office fired the deputy for his "untruthfulness" in an unrelated incident that happened on the same day Tank was killed.
Aquarium Sickens Entire Family
In Steventon, England, after an entire family and their pets became sick, they quickly realized the incident was connected to the father having cleaned their fish aquarium the night before. During the cleaning process, the dad unknowingly scrubbed a piece of coral, which released a toxin. The toxin is known as a Palytoxin and it can be life-threatening if you breathe in the fumes or get it on your skin. Their symptoms were similar to pneumonia. Realizing coral may have been the culprit, they called the local police and first responders showed up including a HAZMAT team. The house was tented to get rid of the toxin and is back to normal now. Turns out the offending coral is something similar to a weed, it only grows where you can't get anything else to thrive.
Woman Donates Dog Vest in Memory of Husband and Dog
A woman's memories of her recently deceased husband and dog will live on through a potentially lifesaving donation to the Windsor Locks Police Department in Connecticut. Responding to an online fundraiser, the woman decided to foot the bill for a protective vest for Rocko, one of the department's police dogs. Her husband died last summer and their dog, 17-year-old Buddy, died just 3 months later. She said she hopes this donation will bring attention to the work and the needs of police dogs because they do such important work and do it fearlessly. She stated, "We should do everything we can to protect them."
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