Belly rubs for cats

“My cat rolls over but if I try to rub her belly, she will scratch and bite, why does she do this?” is a question I am often asked by cat owners. People who are familiar with dogs and have experienced the dog that rolls over to have his belly scratched, assume that cats want the same thing.

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When a cat, rolls over it is a defensive position that they use when they cannot out run an attacker. This allows them to use the claws on all four feet for defense.

However, some cats do roll over and lay on their back because they enjoy it. They will do this when they feel comfortable enough in their environment to expose their vital organs.

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If you have a kitten, you can get the kitten used to being handled and petted by gently handling all their body parts in a caressing manner. This will allow a veterinarian and you to examine the cat for lumps, bumps and injuries without too much stress to the cat.

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If you gently pet a kitten sometimes the kitten will allow you to rub its belly. If the kitten seems to enjoy this, you can do it as a sign of affection. Often a kitten will playfully hit your hand with its front and hind feet. As long as it is playful and no teeth and claws scratch or bite, this can be a fun time for the kitten and owner. But if the cat offers its belly but does not like to be touched there, it is best to accept the friendly gesture as a compliment and do not try to rub their belly.

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Rat bite fever

Many people have rodents as pets and they can make wonderful pets for people who do not have room for a larger pet or cannot have a dog, cat or bird. However, although it is rare, rat bite fever can be transmitted by pet rodents, either through a bite or scratch. Rats, gerbils, mice, guinea pigs and ferrets are capable of transmitting rat bite fever. Rat bite fever is an old disease that has been recorded for over 2300 years.

Rat bite fever is caused by Streptobacillus moniliformis which is the most common cause. The symptoms include fever, pain in joints, nausea, rash and vomiting and can be fatal if not treated.

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Children, pet store workers, veterinary technicians, veterinarians and laboratory technicians are in the higher risk group since they handle rodents on a regular basis. People who frequently handle rodents can wear protective gloves to prevent being bitten.  Parents should monitor children who have rodents as pets and if they are bitten or scratched, notify your pediatrician.

Socializing a pet rodent is a precautionary measure that will reduce the chance of being bitten. Rodents can be trained using clicker training methods which will also help to reduce the chances of being bitten by teaching the rodent to come to you.

Always be careful not to frighten or startle a rodent. Avoid trying to handle a rodent that is sleeping. A tap on the cage or talking to the rodent before handling it can calm the rodent and allow the pet to be aware that it is going to be handled. Using common sense will help prevent being bitten and avoid rat bite fever. 

Keep in mind that rat bite fever can also be transmitted by wild rodents. If there are wild rodents in your area and they are trapped, use caution in removing them or handling predators that might have caught and killed a rodent.

 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/12/151223141151.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fplants_animals%2Fanimals+%28Animals+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1797630/

Chronic kidney disease in cats

If your cat is ten years old or older, there is a 33% chance that your cat will get chronic kidney disease, (CKD). Cats that have CKD often have a number of signs and complications which include, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, anemia, hypertension and urinary tract infections (UTI).

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Because standard tests can be iffy, diagnosing CKD may not be easy for a veterinarian. To help veterinarians, cats and their owners, the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of International Cat Care, formed an international panel of veterinarians from the UK, France, Australia and North America to analyze CKD.

They found that dietary management is one of the best therapies, but often it is difficult to get a cat to eat the prescription diets. They also found that routine blood pressure monitoring and the use of antihypertension medications helped reduce damage to other organs such as the eyes and heart, thus prolonging the quality of the cat’s life. While there is no cure as yet, it is heartening that veterinarians continue to search for ways to help our pets live longer, quality lives.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160302121038.htm

Large carnivore attacks on humans

Studies have shown that at least half of the attacks on humans by brown bear, black bear, polar bear, puma, wolf and coyote are due to risks that humans take. Most are due to the fact that people do not understand how to act in areas where these animals live. This is not limited to North America, the studies have been conducted since 1955 in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Spain.

If you are going hiking, camping, hunting or visiting areas where these animals live do not go jogging at night, leave children unattended, approach a female with young, walk a dog unleashed.

Bears are attracted to food, so find out the safe ways to have food if you are camping. Local rangers can advise you what works in their area. Do not feed wild animals, this teaches them to approach humans.

Recently in certain parts of the United States and Canada, coyotes and wolves have interbred creating the coywolf.

These animals are typically bolder than wolves and no one is sure what the mix of wolf or coyote they are, if they are more of one or the other. If they are in the area where you live, you must take precautions if you have pets, especially outdoor cats, since they prey on small dogs and cats. If you live in a rural area where there is a large population of feral cats you can expect that coyotes and coywolves are in the area.

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This makes it important to understand how to protect yourself, pets and family from these animals. Often if an animal attacks a human, the animal must be destroyed, even if the attack was defensive and not aggressive. By being careful and avoiding confrontation, you are protecting yourself and saving the life of the animal.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160204111357.htm

Moving with a pet By Cindy Aldridge guest blogger

Whether it’s across town or across the country, moving is one of the most difficult, most stressful processes of our lives. Finding a new place; selling the old place; purging, packing, unpacking; redecorating, setting up utilities, change-of- address forms. And those are just the logistics. Never mind the mental and emotional toll moving can have on a person… or a pet.

Us humans? We know exactly what is happening. While a move may be stressful, we’ve probably done it (multiple times) before. Plus, we can take comfort in the fact that it will all be over soon enough. With some guidance, even young children can understand that, in a few days or weeks, they will be settling into a new home surrounded by all the possessions and people they love.

Our pets, on the other hand, have no idea what’s going on or what to expect. Animals, much like people, are creatures of habit. For this reason, a big transition can cause them just as much stress as it does us. That’s why it is important to take extra care of your furry friends throughout the moving process.

Tip # 1 – Keep your pet healthy.

Even the healthiest pets need extra care in the midst of a move. If you’re traveling to your new home via car, transport your small pets in a secure, well-ventilated carrier. Large dogs that cannot be contained in a crate should be kept on a leash at all times. You should also pay close attention to temperature, and never leave your pet in the car for extended periods of time. If possible, let your pet eat, drink, and exercise according to his or her normal schedule, and stop frequently for potty breaks.

If you think your pet may suffer from motion sickness, there are medications that can make his or her trip more comfortable. Check with your veterinarian for an over-the- counter recommendation or prescription. He or she should also be able to provide guidance when it comes to dosage amounts and frequency. For pets that suffer from chronic illness or disease, keep medications on hand.

Tip # 2 – Keep your pet safe.

From pet hazards at the new home to the increased likelihood of losing a pet, moving presents a variety of safety concerns of which every pet owner should be aware. First and foremost, you should create a safe space at your new home for your pets. The space should be free of possible poisons, electrical or heat sources, choking hazards, falling objects, and escape routes. It should be full of items that bring your pet comfort, like favorite toys and familiar bedding or blankets.

In the event your pet were to escape or run away from your new home, a little advance preparation could go a long way when it comes to getting your furry friend back safe and sound.

Purchase and attach new tags to your pet’s collar prior to your move, and don’t forget to register your microchip with your new information. (Hint: Use a cell phone number and email address that won’t change, instead of a landline or physical address.)

Tip # 3 – Keep your pet happy.

Once you’re in your new home, it will take some time for your pet to adapt. You can help them adapt to their new normal simply by spending time showing them around their new home. Once all the boxes are unpacked and everything is in its place, take your pet on a guided tour of their new space. Show them where they’ll eat, sleep, and play. And don’t forget the outdoors. For the first few weeks, some pets may try to find their way back to their old home. Keeping them on a leash while they explore their new surroundings will ensure they stay close.

Finally, don’t forget to show your pets lots of love. Reward them with treats, playtime, and cuddles when they do well, and be consistent with their new routine. In a few weeks time, just like the rest of the family, your pets should acclimate to their new home and any stress or anxiety caused by the move should be relieved.

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Image via Pexels

Pet treats, food and health insurance

In my post about finding the right dog food I listed a very informative link to a site that evaluates dog food. I have since learned that these evaluators have links to cat food, cat treats, dog treats and pet insurance. It is just as important to feed your dog or cat quality treats as it is to feed them quality food, especially if you give them a lot of treats.

Keep in mind that snacking a lot can make a pet put on weight. So, if you are using a lot of treats, especially when training your pet, you may want to decrease their food to compensate. Also, keep in mind that as your pet gets older, they will tend to put on weight (the same as many people do). If your pet tends to put on weight, look for a treat that has few calories. Some treats have only 3 or so calories.

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Health insurance is another very confusing issue for many pet owners. There are so many options and prices. However, considering how expensive veterinarian bills can be, especially for catastrophic illnesses, it is a good idea to have insurance. What options you pick will depend on what you can afford to pay for without insurance. When choosing the right policy for you, take into consideration what your income will be at the end of your pet’s life. This is the time when your pet may need the most veterinarian care. Cost consideration is especially important if you will be retired or near retirement as your pet ages. Taking the time to research treats, food, and insurance will benefit you and your pet in the long run.

Cat food: https://www.reviews.com/cat-food/​
Cat treats: https://www.reviews.com/cat-treats/​
Dog treats: https://www.reviews.com/dog-treats/
Pet insurance: https://www.reviews.com/pet-insurance/

 

Finding the right dog food

In my many years working as a dog trainer and then a certified canine and feline behavior consultant, I have seen how many people do not understand the value of quality food for their pets. Many people believe the ads that they see on TV, most of those brands are not considered good. The food that you can buy at a discount store or supermarket are not the best either. But how to sort through the many foods available.

To begin with, you have to understand the labels. While it is true that the first ingredient has to be the largest percent in the food, what is not clear is that it is usually the smallest percent of the food. For example, the first ingredient is listed as chicken at 10%, then next ingredient and all subsequent ingredients are each less than 10%, but put together they equal 90% of the food. This makes the rest of the ingredients more important than the main ingredient.

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Labels can be misleading, for example, unspecified meat can be anything including diseased animals or road kill. Another issue with food is the source of the fat. Some food companies use the leftover fat from restaurants that has been stored in 55 gallon drums and has turned rancid. The pet food companies are allowed to use this fat if they process it in a certain way. Companies that produce food for human consumption also may use the leftovers from the human food production, such as cereal fines. Another consideration are the fillers in the food. Many times, they are indigestible roughage that does not have any nutritional value. You can see the results of these foods by the amount of stool that the pet produces. High quality food usually reduces the amount of stool by half. By having a large amount of indigestible roughage, the pet has to eat more food to get the nutritional value that their body needs, and guess what, you have to buy twice as much food.

Often people will tell me that they cannot afford the higher priced quality food. But in reality since the pet will have to eat much less of the better food, the cost per serving is usually less than the cheap food. Also, the savings in veterinarian bills makes the better food a real value.

In terms of good health, young dogs and cats can look healthy on poor quality food, but in the long term they will not be as healthy and from middle to old age they may have more health issues from living on a poor diet. In some cases, they may not live as long as they could have on better food. The effects of poor food are evident at a younger age in working dogs, such as police, detection and search dogs.

Last but not least, a pet’s behavior can reflect a poor diet. When I was mentoring a future dog trainer, on the first night of group training, I would point out the dogs that were being fed poor quality food and was correct 99% of the time. I was able to tell by the dog’s behavior alone. When I told the class to switch to a better brand, the ones that did would always come back the next week amazed at the difference in their dog’s behavior. When I work with dogs or cats that have behavior issues, their diet is always one of the first things I evaluate.

The good news is that there is now a site that evaluates dog food and does a good job. If the dog food brands listed also sell cat food, it is safe to say that the cat food will be a high quality as well. Go to the site below and read the criteria that they used to select quality foods. Please spread the word about this post so that as many pet owners as possible can feed their pets the right food.

 http://www.reviews.com/dog-food/#Top_Picks

Where did our domestic cats come from?

Paleogeneticist Claudio Ottoni and his colleagues from KU Leuven (University of Leuven) and the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences did a study to determine the ancestor of the modern domestic cat. There are five subspecies of the wildcat Felis silvestris that are known today, but all skeletal remains look the same.

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Therefore, Ottoni studied the DNA from bones, teeth, skin, and hair from cats found at archaeological sites in the Near East, Africa and Europe. The cat remains were from 100 to 9000 years old.

What they discovered was that all domestic cats descended from the African wildcat Felis silvestris lybica, found in North Africa and the Near East. What Ottoni could not determine is if the cats from Egypt were a separate group of cats or if they descended from the African wildcat.

What is interesting is that most if not all the ancient cats were striped. Few if any had spots or blotches such as today’s tortoise shell or “tortie” cat. Spotted cats did not show up until the Middle Ages. Since cats were taken on ships to control the rodents, they spread across the world and remains have been found at Viking sites near the Baltic sea.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170619125825.htm

A new study about co-sleeping with your pets

A recent study examined the practice of sharing a bedroom or bed with a dog. While the authors suggest that more research is needed, they compared sleeping with a dog to the practice of sharing a bed or bedroom with a child.

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The current concern about co-sleeping with a child focuses on the child suffering from poor health, impaired functioning, developing problematic behavior and sexual dysfunction. However, there is not enough evidence to determine if there are negative effects of co-sleeping with dogs or other pets.

According to the study, the benefit of co-sleeping with both pets and children are saving resources, keeping warm, and feeling safe. It is a practice that has been going on for many years.

When it comes to sharing a bedroom with a dog, as an animal behavior consultant, I recommend letting a puppy sleep in a crate in the bedroom to help the puppy bond with the family and feel safer in a new environment. After the dog is trained and under control, it can be allowed to sleep on the bed with a family member. However, if the dog is not trained it can become possessive of the bed or other furniture to the point of becoming aggressive if a family member wants to move the dog. Whether it is good or not depends on many factors, including the dog’s temperament and the owners ability to train and control the dog.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622104001.htm

 

 

 

Keeping cats safe outdoors

Many cats enjoy being outdoors as much as dogs do, but unfortunately it is not safe to allow a cat to roam outdoors. There are many dangers a cat faces while outdoors that do not necessarily threaten a dog. Cats can be prey for large canines, including dogs, coyotes, wolves and even a fox.

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They are exposed to parasites of all types, including ticks, fleas, and various worms. This is especially risky if the cat catches small rodents.

Feral cats can also pose a problem by attacking and passing diseases to your cat. So what is a cat owner to do?

One option is to teach your cat to walk on a leash. Some cats enjoy doing this if they are taught properly. The first step is to be sure that your cat has a collar with ID tags or is micro chipped in the event that the cat should get away from you. Since cats do not like having pressure on their necks, you should use a harness for the cat.

The first step is to get the cat used to the harness indoors. You can do this by putting it on while you give the cat a special treat that they love and only get for wearing the harness. Clicker training the cat also works very well.

Once the cat is used to wearing the harness, you can lure the cat around your house with the special treat to get the cat used to walking with the harness on. As soon as the cat is used to that, you can attach a leash to the harness and lure the cat with the treat.

It is important to avoid pulling on the leash to get the cat to follow you, rather lure the cat with the treat.

Once the cat is willing to follow you, try doing it outside near your home or in your backyard. Gradually increase the distance that you walk with your cat. It is OK if you can only walk your cat in the backyard.

Keep in mind that your cat may be frightened by the outdoors and only feel comfortable in your backyard. Cats typically do not like noise and strange people if they are too close.

If your cat does not enjoy being outdoors on a leash you have other options. A nice window or enclosed porch can be enjoyable for a cat, or a cat “pen.” See https://www.pinterest.com/explore/outdoor-cat-enclosure/?lp=true for some ideas. Keep in mind that if you use a cat pen, you need to protect your cat from hawks as well, especially if the cat is small or a kitten.

Never force a cat to go outdoors if they do not enjoy being there. Some cats never get used to being on a harness. It is important to pay close attention to see if your cat is enjoying the experience. Some cats are very happy being an indoor only cat with a large window to look out of.

If your cat is one of those who do enjoy being outdoors, make sure that you check with your veterinarian to get tick and flea as well as parasite prevention measures to keep your cat safe. All of your cat’s yearly shots must be up-to-date as well.

Happy cat walking!