Tag Archives: cats

Upcoming posts


In 2014 I covered A-Z of dog breeds, with some basic facts and other titbits. The posts covering the A-Z of dog breeds can be found by clicking the lettered categories A-CD-F, G-IJ-L, M-O, P-R, S-V, and W-Z – in which the breed you’re searching for is found in.

Border Collie dog - own image
Border Collie dog – own image

If the breed you’re looking for has not been covered, but you would like it covering, please get in touch, using the information in bold at the end of this post.

Following on from dog breeds, I will now (over 8 weeks) cover cat breeds.

Domestic Short-hair cat - own image
Domestic Short-hair cat – own image

If you have a cat, and would like me to include the breed in the upcoming post, please get in touch with the breed of your cat, using the information in bold below.


If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of my social media pages…
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Common Behavioural Problems: Spraying (cats)


Behaviour Banner

Spraying – a form of communication, territorial marking, to signal mating status, indicator of health, and to show dominance. Spraying is a naturalnormal behaviour. It becomes a problem when it becomes excessive, and often in inappropriate places.

Cats will back up to a vertical surface (wall, table/chair leg, couch, door, bed, television…) twitch tail, and spray urine against the vertical surface.

Potential Causes:-
(a) Territorial Behaviour:
– another cat brought into a single-cat household
– a multi-cat household
– moving house/ getting an extension
– redecorating
– new cat(s) in the neighbourhood/territory

(b) Anxiety
– lack of owner attention (for attention)
– jealousy of other pet(s)/children/etc.
– change in routine
– social stressors
– environmental stressors
– new/unusual, (fairly) consistent smells (even as simple as new air freshener)
– negative encounters
– not enough litter trays for amount of cats

(c) Underlying Medical Problem
– consult vet ASAP
– urine crystals
– cystitis
– urolithiasis; struvites (urinary tract stones)
– other…

Cat Zoe
Happy Cat

Treatment Options:
Firstly, determine whether or not this is being caused by a medical issue, and your vet will be able to determine the best course of treatment. If there is no medical issue, then it is likely to be a behavioural issue. Successful treatment of this requires identification of the cause, and fixing of the cause or acceptance (from the animal) of the cause.

If you have a multi-cat household, to reduce the likelihood of unwanted spraying behaviour (and unwanted defecation), ensure that every cat has its own litter tray, and that there is a spare litter tray (or multiple spares for a larger group of cats). Ensure litter trays are in quiet places, not busy or open places; cats like privacy when going to the toilet.

Neutering is a big help, but will not eliminate the problem. Spraying is less common in neutered cats, but it will not prevent spraying. Males also spray more than females, but females do spray.

Feliway pheromone diffuser plug ins and sprays are also available. The release of pheromones helps to calm and reassure, especially in multi-cat households; it can relieve tension between cats.  The pheromone release relieves stress and can help stop your cat spraying; stop the behavioural issue.

Acceptance of the cause; teaching your cat(s) to accept a new addition – whether this is another cat, a dog, a rabbit (i.e. another pet), or a new baby or even just a new couch. You can help this by not comforting your cat when it initially freaks out. Do not berate your cat for this either. Just act normal, like the new addition is completely normal. If you comfort your cat, (s)he will believe (s)he’s being comforted because there is a reason to be freaked out and anxious about this new addition. Normal behaviour on your part will help your cat realise (s)he can behave normally despite this new addition too.

Multi-cat household
Multi-cat household

Cats that get along are less competitive, and far less likely to spray. You can encourage cats to get along by playing with your cats together; giving each one equal attention. Feed them together, and try to encourage them to sleep near to each other – not necessarily sharing the same bed, but within the same room. Provide differently levels for your cats within the home; the more dominant cat will sit higher up than the subordinate(s) – being able to show dominance/ hierarchy in this way is likely to reduce other dominant displays.

Try to keep routine, at least for your cat even if not for yourself – because, let’s face it, we quite often need to mix up our routine; but cats, no, cats like routine. They will patrol the same bit of their territory at (roughly) the same time, daily.  They will sleep, hunt, etc. at (roughly) the same times each day. Feeding, grooming/brushing, and other activities your cat requires you for should be kept in some kind of routine for your cat too.

Although spraying is a very obvious behaviour; know your cat(s) and learn to tell when (s)he is acting out of the ordinary so as to pick up on behavioural issues early.


If you have any questions or comments, or would like any more information regarding this post; or if you have anything specific you would like me to cover in a future post, then either leave a comment below, or contact me via one of my social media pages:-
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International Cat Day


8th August 2014 – International Cat Day

Google defines a cat as “a [small, domesticated,] carnivorous mammal with soft fur, a short snout, and retractile claws”. However for this post, I am also including Big Cats.

Cats are loved world-wide.
Bigger cats were (and in some places, unfortunately, still are) hunted for various reasons, however a lot are now in zoo’s and safari parks – with people working to protect the various species.
Domestic cats, starting in ancient Egypt, were once worshipped; now they are loved pets and hilarious internet sensations!

Nyan Cat, Pusheen and Stormy, Keyboard Cat, Grumpy Cat… and all the other cats on the internet doing funny things – trying to fit in a hamster ball, attacking that stranger cat in the mirror, being tickled in a really cute way, and so many more things plastered on the internet!

Even dogs are coming around to the idea of cats – one dog in particular really wants a kitty! Some dogs still hold onto that ancient dog vs. cat thing – pushing cats into bathtubs and the like…

Enjoy these cat pictures to celebrate International Cat Day!

 

 

 

“Did You Know?” Cats


How well do you know your cat?! Here are some interesting facts about cats you may not have known…


  • Cats hear at a higher frequency – higher than dogs or cats
  • The sense of smell of a cat is less sensitive than that of a dog
  • The sensitivity of cats ears are 3x better than a humans
  • Cats can smell odours 1000x lower than a human can detect
  • Whiskers are also known as vibrissae
  • Vibrissae help to detect the proximity of objects
  • Whiskers are used to help detect prey
  • Mother cats may chew the whiskers short or off their kittens, so that they cannot wander off too far (they will grow back)
  • Proper vibrissae do not develop until a cat is 5-6 months old
  • A female cat can be known as a Queen or a Molly – the term Queen is more common for a mother/ nursing cat
  • Males are called Tomcats, and occupy a larger territory than females
  • Cats have scent glands on their face, between their toes, their rump, their shoulders and neck
  • Cats can tell age, gender, and health from smelling the spray of another cat – as well as how long ago the cat made the scent spray
  • This is used to mark territory – and can be done by both genders, neutered or not
  • A cat may spray due to anxiety and stress – even in the home

  • Cats are an altricial species – born blind, deaf, and fur-less (require nourishment and more development after birth before they can move around much on their own)
  • Kittens can get food preferences from their mother whilst in the womb and when suckling
  • Cats are nocturnal or crepuscular hunters – so don’t be surprised if they wander off during the night or dawn/ dusk
  • They have spectacular night vision
  • When you see a cats eyes “shine” in the darkness, this is due to the tapetum behind the the eye which reflects the light
  • If humans had eyes the same size as a cats in comparison to their size, our eyes would be 20cm in diameter!
  • Cats sleep around 15 hours per day – that’s two thirds of their lives!
  • Cats switch between dozing and deep sleeping – sleeping deeply for approximately 5 minutes in between 15-30 minutes of dozing
  • Dozing cats are ready to jump into action if necessary with minimal warning
Zzz
Zzz

 

Curious About Cross-Breeds!


Cross-Breed or Hybrid

Cross-breed means the animal is of mixed blood; the animal is often a mix of two different breeds, or a mix of several breeds. These are often referred to as mongrels for dogs, or moggies for cats, mules in sheep, or just known as a cross-breed with other species. Cross-breeds often display traits from all the breeds that make up the mix. Cross-breeds can reproduce, as they are just different types of the same species.

A cross-breed is different to what is referred to as a hybrid. A hybrid is cross between different species, as with cross-breeds, hybrids often display both physical and personality traits from both parents species. However, hybrids tend to be infertile (they cannot reproduce their own young) and therefore the only way to get the particular hybrid is to cross the 2 original species. A few hybrid animal examples are:

  • Mule (female donkey x male horse)
  • Hinny (male donkey x female horse)
  • Liger (male lion x tigress)
  • Tigon (lioness x male tiger)
  • Leopon (lion x leopard)
  • Beefalo (buffalo x domestic cow)
  • Dzo (yak x domestic cow)
  • Cama (camel x llama)
  • Zorse (zebra x horse)
  • Donkra (zebra x donkey)
Tigon
Tigon (lioness x male tiger)

Cross-Breed Dogs

It is important to think about this when acquiring a cross-breed as a pet; if the mix of breeds is known, you can research into them to see the likely physical characteristics, as well as the likely personality traits you may see in your pet.

Cross-breeds are becoming increasingly popular with dogs, and cross-bred dogs are being sold as designer breeds. Some of the more popular designer dog breeds are:

  • Labradoodle (Labrador x Poodle)
  • Cockapoo (Cocker Spaniel x Poodle)
  • Chorkie (Chihuahua x Yorkshire Terrier)
  • Puggle (Pug x Beagle)

As you may have noticed, these  deisgner  breeds have been given their own, new name that combines the 2 breeds they have been crossed with.

Chihuahua x Yorkie
Chihuahua x Yorkie

Due to the fact that cross-breeds have ability to reproduce, there is dispute about designer breeds and what makes them up. Take the Labradoodle for example, most breeders will only accept a dog as being a Labradoodle if it is the first generation; i.e. one parent is a Poodle, the other parent is a Labrador. If 2 Labradoodles have offspring, most breeders do not class the puppies as Labradoodles, but rather as mongrels. If one parent is a Labradoodle, and the other is either a Poodle or a Labrador, the offspring is also termed as being mongrels along most breeders of the designer breed.

Labradoodle
Labradoodle

Aside from the designer cross-breeds, most cross-breeds are not recognised as “breeds”, but rather just referred to as crosses. The crosses from just 2 different breeds that are not designer dogs are easily differentiated by the fact they are referred to as cross-breeds, and do not have their own “breed name”.

Often cross-breeds are similar breeds that have been mated, such as the Scottish Terrier and the West Highland Terrier. These are 2 similar looking breeds; similar height, coat, ears, face, as well as having a similar temperament.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (2 breeds crossed)

However, due to the ability to reproduce, cross-breeds become more and more diluted in breed terms and eventually just get termed as a mongrel. A lot of mongrels are so mixed with breeds that a similarity to any one breed is very hard to see, others have a distinct breed that stands out; such as the Alsatian mix and the Tibetan Terrier mix, pictured below.

Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)
Cross-breed
Cross-breed dog (Mongrel)

All breeds, including the ones that are now classified as pedigree breeds, have come about from mixing different kinds of canines to get the desired appearance and/ or personality out of the animal that the breeder desired. The Bedlington Terrier for example, is thought to be a mix of; the Rothbury Terrier, Kerry Blue Terrier, Wheaten Terrier,  Otterhound, Poodle and the Dandie Dinmont Terrier… so basically a mongrel with a lot of breeds mixed in! However, nowadays it is its own recognised breed, a pedigree.

Bedlington Terrier
Bedlington Terrier

Other Cross-Breed Animals

Dogs may be the most popular animals to mix breeds, but they are certainly not the only ones! Cats, birds, fish, rabbits, rodents, reptiles, sheep, cows, pigs, horses and ponies can all be cross bred; but some species cross-breeds are more common than others. For example, cross-breed rabbits are fairly common, often due to un-neutered pets having accidental litters!

Cats cross-breed often too, however in one litter there can be a different father for each kitten, so the crosses cannot always be determined and may not be known – unless the cross-breeding was intentional and artificially selected. Cats are usually bred via artificial selection for their pedigree, so in the way we get designer dog breeds, it is not the same with cats. Some cat crosses  can be seen clearly, but most are unsure and just get termed as a moggie.

Cross-breed cat
Cross-breed cat

Just to clarify – the terms horse and pony refers to the height of the same animal. They are measure in hands high (hh) – horses are 14.2hh+, whereas ponies are up to (and including) 14.1hh. Horses and ponies are usually selected for their pedigree too, due to needing pure bloodlines for race and show animals. However, there are a few recognised cross-breeds:

  • Welera (Welsh pony x Arabian horse)
  • National Show Horse (American Saddlebred x Arabian horse)
  • Morab (Morgan x Arabian horse)
  • Appendix Quarter Horse (Quarter horse x Thoroughbred)
  • Quarab (Quarter horse x Arabian horse)
  • Walkaloosa (Tennessee walking horse x Appaloosa)
Cross-breed horse
Cross-breed horse

There is also a mongrel of horses – a mix breed of many breeds that has come to be recognised as a breed, the Pony of the Americas (POA).

Mix breed horse (POA)
Mix breed horse (POA)

A lot of people do not believe birds and fish can be cross bred, however this is just due to the occurrence of this being very low (lower in fish than birds). Birds can cross breed as long as they belong to the same sub-species; for example, 2 of the same type (such as 2 conures, or 2 cockatoos) of parrot can have offspring, 2 of the same type of aviary bird (such as a pair of different finch types) can have offspring, 2 different chicken types can have offspring… And the list goes on. It is just uncommon, but the ability is there.

 So really… they’re all mongrels and moggies and mixed breeds, our pets! But whatever we have, we love them regardless!
 Any questions or comments?
Please use either contact page, thoughts comment box below, or social media site (Facebook, Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn).

Top Tips on Nail Clips!


Last week I was round at a friends house to clip the nails of their 2 little guinea pigs – Smudge and Caspian. Lovely friendly guinea pigs, each with their own little personalities – and challenges!

Smudge is the slightly larger of the 2 and is a little wriggler! She dislikes sitting still for too long, making nail clipping a bit more of a challenge.  To combat this, if she wanted to pull her paw away and have a little wriggle or move about, I let her. Simply. This way I could clip her nails without the risk of damage; whilst she was still I clipped, whilst she wriggled I left her to it. This meant that clipping her nails took a little longer than anticipated but it got done, and no harm was done!

photo (8)
Smudge, Guinea Pig

Caspian on the other hand is slightly smaller than Smudge; she is also a little more timid but less of a wriggler! I cooed and talked in a soothing voice more with Caspian as this helped her to relax (she knows my voice despite not being my pet) and she settled quite quickly. She was a little nervous about the nail clippers but allowed me to clip her nails, rarely pulling away. Again, if she pulled away I allowed her a moment before starting again. I got through clipping her nails quicker than with Smudge as she was quieter and kept still for longer.

Caspian, Guinea Pig
Caspian, Guinea Pig

Both guinea pigs were pleasant to nail clip and received a lot of fussing, cuddling and even a little treat each when their nails were done – so that the experience is not seen as a negative one. For their first time having their nails clipped they were lovely – and the inspiration for this post!

Nail clipping is an important part of pet grooming that sometimes gets overlooked, due to being seen as quite a daunting task, that can cause both pet and owner to become anxious! Many people take their pet to the vets and pay to have their pets’ nails clipped – but when you know how to clip your pets’ nails it’s easy and simple enough to do yourself!

Whether you do it yourself or take your pet to the vets, nail clipping needs to be kept on top of as overgrown nails can cause pain and discomfort, irregular gait (walking), broken nails, and (if left long enough) can cause long-term skeletal problems.

 

Which Clippers?

Guillotine or scissor clippers?

There are 2 kinds of pet nail clippers – the standard scissor type pet nail clippers (image 1), and guillotine type pet nail clippers (image 2). The scissor type nail clippers are used for small animals, cats and dogs. The guillotine nail clippers are usually only found for, medium and larger, dog breeds.

image 1, image 2
image 1 – scissor             image 2 – guillotine

When buying nail clippers buy the ones for your pet, if you use large dog nail clippers on a small animal (not only will the clippers be very large compared to the tiny nail but) they may be too strong and cause damage to the nail/ your pet. Similarly, small animal nail clippers will be too small and weak to cut your dogs’ nails.

If you are clipping nails for a dog, find which nail clippers you feel most comfortable and confident using and get some added to your grooming kit! Most nail clippers will say what animals they are suitable for use on, and often even have pictures.
DO NOT use human nail clippers as these may split the nail of your pet.

Styptic Powder

This sterilised the nail and helps to stop the bleeding faster, if you do cut the nail too short – to the quick. Some nail clippers have this included inserted in the handle, however you can buy this as a separate product. The nail just needs to be dipped into the powder and left.

 

How Often?

Walking dogs on pavement, letting your cat out, putting your small animal(s) in a run on the patio (so they HAVE to stay on the pavement for a bit) will help naturally wear down nails and reduce the frequency in which nails need to be clipped – but watch out for dew claws, if they does not reach the ground they will not get worn down and will need trimming even when the other nails do not!

Dew Claw
Dew Claw

You handle your pet often and this makes your pet comfortable with you – use this to your advantage to health check your pet and check out those nails! Some pets may need a little encouragement to allow you near their feet, this can be accomplished by distracting your pet with their favourite toy or a treat, and similarly rewarding them with a play or a treat after they have let you inspect their nails.

When checking out your pets’ nails during a handling or fussing time check the length and feel if you think the nails are becoming too long. If the nails are beginning to curl back on themselves it is probably quite likely that nail clipping ought to be done quite soon! Again, remember to check the dew claws if your pet has these, as these may need clipping more often. If it is just a routine nail clip, take approximately 2mm off end of claw, if the claws are very long a bit more may need taking off. Check your pets nails weekly to ensure you keep on top of nail clipping.

 

How?

Getting used to the clippers

First, your pet needs to be okay with the nail clippers and you using them. The same process for getting your pet to allow you to check out their feet, can be done to get the pet used to the nail clippers too:
– Put the clippers near your pets’ toes but do not use them, then reward your pet.
– Put the clippers (closed) on your pets’ nails, then reward your pet.
(This can be done over a few days or a week at regular intervals)
Your pet will soon become accustomed to the clippers, and rewards can be given after nail clipping has been done too.

The Quick

The quick is the blood vessel in the nail. This can be seen very easily in white nails as the pink bit running part the way down from the foot, however black nails are a problem as the quick cannot be seen and is therefore harder to avoid with the nail clippers.

If your pet has both white an black claws on the same foot, the black claws can be clipped using the already clipped white claws as a guide as to where the quick ends. If, like my little Bedlington, your pet has no white claws, then clip only a little bit off the end (use your own judgement based on the length of the claw).

Black nails, cannot see quick
Black nails, cannot see quick

If bleeding occurs, it usually stops in around 5 minutes. Do not put small animals back into shavings (bedding) until bleeding has stopped so the substrate does not get stuck to the nail.

Nail Clipping

Using the proper nail clippers for your pet species, clip the nail approximately 2mm away from the quick. Clip at approximately a 45° angle, one nail at a time. Take your time and if your pet wants to have a wriggle, and pull its’ paw away from you, let it! A little break may be what is needed before continuing.

If you and your pet are calm enough then nail clipping can be accomplished just you and your pet. If you and/ or your pet feel better with a second person then nail clip with a trusted second.

clip nails
Nail

 

A Few Tips
  • Talking to your pet in a soothing voice helps your pet to relax; they know your voice and are comforted by it
  • Put your pet on your lap or a non-slip floor for clipping
  • Tightly wrapping a wriggly or nervous animal, in a towel or blanket, with only the desired paw (and head) sticking out can help, as the tightness helps the animal feel secure
  • A towel or blanket can also be used as a non-slip area under your pet that will catch the nail clippings, so the clippings are not lost in your carpet
  • If necessary, get someone else to hold the animal for you, whilst you clip the nails
  • There is NO point fighting with a wriggly animal as it’ll be okay for clipping again once it has calmed back down
  • DO NOT tell off or punish your pet, this will make the experience of nail clipping a negative one and your pet may be more nervous or fearful the next time
  • Reward your pet after with a treat, fussing or a favourite toy – this way your pet will associate the experience as a positive one, and will be less nervous or fearful next time