Category Archives: Cat Welfare

I Got Interviewed About Cat Stuff!

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Lucy, who writes the blog for the splendid online cat and dog boutique, Oz & Mr Curious, has very kindly published an interview she did with me recently.  So, if you’d like to experience me wittering on about all things cat, head on over to the Oz & Mr Curious Blog.

Lucy asked for a pic of me with one of the HQ Cats, but, seeing as my lot are all so uncooperative, I could only supply a photo of me with a foster kitten.  This is the pic I use for my cat-sitting website, and I was aiming for the Trustworthy, Caring and Responsible look.  But it ended up more Bored Woman Strangles Kitten.  For the record, I would just like to state that I am not trying to strangle that kitten: she lived to see another day and was adopted, along with one of her sisters, by a very nice family in Hither Green.

Everday Heroes – the RSPCA’s Inspectors & How You Can Help Them to Save Animals from Cruelty

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For us animal lovers, the RSPCA is the fourth emergency service.  I have the charity’s Cruelty Line number (0300 1234 999) saved on my mobile, so that if I see an animal in distress anywhere in the UK I can report it to the RSPCA and feel confident that the animal will receive the help it needs.  It’s the RSPCA’s inspectors who investigate complaints of cruelty, and deal with incidents ranging from unintentional neglect due to lack of animal care knowledge, to horrific cruelty cases such as organised dog fighting and badger baiting.

EVERY DAY HEROES is the RSPCA’s latest campaign, which aims to highlight the invaluable work carried out by their inspectors.  A call is made to the Cruelty Line every 30 seconds, with 28,741 reports of abandonment and 220,421 reports of animal abuse needing to be investigated.  Times are tough at the moment, and the RSPCA desperately needs your help to enable their inspectors to save animals from cruelty.

The simplest way to help is by texting HERO to 88010 – this will give £3 (you’ll also be charged your standard network message rate).  You can donate online, or request a fundraising pack – check out the Everyday Heroes page to find out more.  You could also help spread the word about the campaign by sharing the Everyday Heroes page on social media.

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I have nothing but admiration for RSPCA inspectors: in addition to dealing with sometimes harrowing cases of animal cruelty, the inspectors can find themselves in dangerous situations, including being threatened with weapons such as knives and shotguns.  They truly are everyday heroes.

Here’s Steve Walker, an experienced RSPCA inspector, talking about his job, the dangers he sometimes faces and what keeps him motivated.

Disclosure: this is a sponsored blog post (fee will be donated to the Celia Hammond Animal Trust).

Win Goodies for You and Your Cat in the BUAV ‘Our Best Friends’ Photo Competition!

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UK charity, the BUAV, has been campaigning peacefully for over a hundred years to ‘create a world where nobody wants or believes that we need to experiment on animals.’

Our Best Friends is the BUAV’s new campaign to raise awareness of and end the use of cats and dogs as research animals in the UK.  Sadly, each year in the UK hundreds of cats and thousands of dogs are experimented on for research purposes.  If you’d like to join the campaign to save them, check out the Our Best Friends page on the BUAV website – the campaign has the support of several animal-loving celebrities including Ricky Gervais, Miranda Richardson, Paul O’Grady and Chris Packham.

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To help spread the word about the Our Best Friends campaign, the BUAV are running an exciting photo competition.  To enter you need to ‘like’ the Our Best Friends Facebook page, and then submit a photo of your cat (or dog!), and a brief explanation of just what it is that makes your cat (or dog) so special.  The competition will be judged by Sue Parslow, editor of Your Cat magazine, and Rachael Millar, from Your Dog magazine.  Entries must be in by 16th December 2013.

‘But what’s the prize?’ I hear you ask.  Well, the winning cat will receive a rather fabulous goody bag which includes a pet portrait of the winning photograph, a 3 months’ supply of cat food, a pet pamper hamper worth over £65, cat toys and some cruelty free cosmetics for their humble human servant.  (The winning dog will receive a doggy version of the same prize.)  Sounds fab, doesn’t it?  Best of luck to everyone who enters!  And whether you decide to enter or not, it would be great if you could help publicise the campaign and competition by sharing the Our Best Friends page on social media.

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Caturday Cat Pics #19 – New Foster Family!

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Meet Foster Cats No’s 24 – 26, more affectionately known as Doris, Edward and Peter.  Doris and her 12-week-old sons Edward (black) and Peter (tabby) were rescued by the Celia Hammond Animal Trust from a car park behind a block of flats in South London.  Another small group of cats had been rescued from the same location a few days previously; sadly this group included a kitten with a broken leg.  A dead kitten was also found at the scene.

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No one knows for sure how these cats ended up in the car park, but it’s most likely that they were dumped there.  A kind resident of the block of flats had been leaving food and water out for the homeless cats and kittens, but other residents objected to their presence and were removing the food and water and chasing the cats away.

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We’ll never know what Doris and sons went through prior to being rescued, but whatever it was has left them absolutely traumatised.  They were so utterly exhausted and shell-shocked that they barely moved for the first few days they were here; toys remained untouched and bedding completely unruffled.  When you consider how lively a pair of 12-week-old kittens should be, it really puts the extent of the family’s trauma into perspective.  Edward and Peter just didn’t seem to know how to play, and poor Doris was permanently rigid with fear.

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The family has been here for eight days now, and I’m pleased to report that they’re making progress.  Yesterday evening Edward and Peter were coaxed into a game with a feather stick, and this morning their bedding was all over the place and the water bowl had been upturned – a sign that they’d probably been wrestling each other overnight.  So it looks as if the two boys have learned how to play!  Doris (pictured above) no longer tries to hide behind her sons when I enter the room, and is now either sprawled out relaxing, or right at the front of the pen waiting for some food.  She’s also started to tolerate being stroked, and even stuck her head forward for a chin rub today!  No purrs yet, but I suspect she’s been on the verge a couple of times.

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This family of three have got quite a long way to go before they can learn to trust us humans, but they’ve make good progress in the last eight days, and I’m confident that they’ll be ready for their forever home in a few weeks.  So far young Peter is proving to be the bravest member of the family – even though he’s the smallest!

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Stylish Ceramic Drinking Fountains from Lucky-Kitty

ceramic cat drinking fountain from lucky-kitty

Most cat drinking fountains are distinctly unattractive plastic affairs.  Not so this ceramic number from German company, Lucky-Kitty.  The sleek, modern design (which brings to mind a cross between a butler sink and a urinal, yet still manages to look rather lovely!) would compliment most interiors.  This ceramic fountain is more hygienic than its plastic counterparts, and is also very low maintenance compared with other brands: it doesn’t require a filter and the manufacturers recommend cleaning every 3-5 days under running water or in a dishwasher.  Apparently cleaning by hand takes two minutes!

ceramic cat drinking fountain from lucky-kitty

Some drinking fountains can be quite noisy, which is annoying for us and can be off-putting for cats of a nervous disposition.  Lucky-Kitty took this into account when designing their fountain, and claim the water pump they use is virtually silent – a claim which seems to be substantiated by customer reviews of the product.

The Lucky-Kitty Ceramic Cat Drinking Fountain is available in white, blue and green for €54.90 (approx £47.00 at current exchange rates).  Delivery to the UK is €9.90 (£8.50).

Also available directly from the UK in white for £49.90 (free UK delivery) from ZooplusUK, and in all three colours from My Pet Superstore for £49.90  (£5.99 next day UK delivery).

(Via Hauspanther)

But are cat drinking fountains really necessary?  Read on to find out more…

I must admit that I’ve always considered cat drinking fountains to be a bit of a gimmick: surely cats can instinctively regulate their own fluid intake, and so as long as they have access to a bowl or two of fresh water they’ll be fine.  Well, generally speaking, yes they will; but having done some research on cats and hydration I’ve discovered that there are health benefits attached to encouraging our cats to drink more water.

Cats who are prone to cystitis and urinary tract infections, cats with chronic kidney disease and elderly cats will all certainly benefit from an increased fluid intake.  While encouraging younger healthy cats to increase their water consumption could help prevent urinary tract and kidney disease – particularly if your cat eats a dry food diet.

And it turns out that drinking fountains can be a useful way to get your cat to drink more water – there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence around on internet cat forums to suggest that cats seem to be attracted to running water and enjoy drinking from fountains.

So I’m no longer a drinking fountain cynic.  In fact, I’ve made a complete u-turn and am now thinking of buying one!

How to Keep Your Cat Cool During a Heatwave

"If I close my eyes and count to ten, will the heatwave go away?"

“If I close my eyes and count to ten, will the heatwave go away?”

As we’re now into the second week of a national heatwave (or is it third – I’m so hot I can’t remember), I thought I’d put together some information about how we can help our cats stay cool.

The first thing I should point out is that you don’t need to panic – your cat will not be suffering nearly as much as you are in this heat!  Domestic cats are descended from a desert species and so have evolved to cope with very hot conditions: a cat’s normal body temperature is higher than that of a mere human – an average of 38.6°C/101.5°F for felines compared with 37°C/98.6°F for their human slaves, which gives an increased ability to withstand high external temperatures.  Plus, when you take into account a cat’s natural tendency to comfort-seek (warm spots in winter, cool in summer), and inclination to remain motionless for long periods of time, you can get an idea of a heatwave from your cat’s perspective.  Most moggies are probably wondering what all the fuss is about!  I say most, because elderly, very young and sick cats are more vulnerable to the effects of extreme temperatures than healthy adults, and should be cared for accordingly – I’d strongly advise you to contact your vet if you have any concerns.

Sometimes, when it's really hot outside, you're better off staying indoors with your rat.

Sometimes, when it’s really hot outside, you’re better off staying indoors with your rat.

Even though most of us don’t need to worry too much about our cats in this weather, it’s still sensible to take a few measures to reduce the effects of the heat on our feline friends, so here are some handy tips:

General Cat Care

1.  It’s very important that our cats stay hydrated in this weather, and this particularly applies to cats who are on a dry food only diet.  Make sure your cat always has access to fresh water – place extra water bowls around the house and in the garden to encourage drinking.  You may wish to consider investing in a drinking fountain; I’ve never used one with my cats, but I’ve heard anecdotal evidence which suggests they encourage cats to drink more frequently.

Another good way to increase your cat’s fluid intake (although probably unnecessary for the majority of healthy cats) is to mix water in with their food – I’ve found most cats will happily tolerate at least a tablespoon of water added to wet food, providing it’s mixed and mushed enough to resemble a gravy.  Some cats will eat dry food which has been allowed to absorb added water, other cats will (understandably in my book) turn their noses up at soggy biscuits.

While we’re on the subject of food and water, I’ve noticed a fair amount of advice being given on social media at the moment about adding ice cubes to water and food and/or chilling food in the fridge in order to cool cats down.  In my opinion this is completely unnecessary – cats like their food and water to be at room temperature.  In fact food straight from the fridge can cause problems for cats with sensitive stomachs, leading them to vomit.  (I always allow any food I’ve stored in the fridge to come back up to room temperature before dishing it up for my lot.)  So save the ice cubes for your own drinks!

It’s perfectly natural for our cats’ appetites to be reduced during hot spells, but should your cat go without food or have a very significantly reduced food intake for 24 hours, always consult your vet.

2.  Make sure food bowls are kept clean, particularly those containing wet food.  Even tiny scraps of food stuck to the side of the bowl can rapidly become smelly enough to put your cats off their dinner in this weather.  Also, throw any uneaten wet food away immediately – it can very quickly become fly-blown during summer months.

3.  Keep your cat well-groomed, particularly long-haired floofballs – cats moult more profusely during hot spells, and a build up of hair will retain heat.

4.  The cooling effects of placing damp towels, and/or freezer cool packs (well wrapped in towels or old clothes) near to your cat’s preferred snoozing spots may be appreciated.  Or your efforts may be completely snubbed – sometimes being a cat servant can be a thankless task!

5.  Try to keep your cat calm – any running around in this weather will quickly result in canine-like tongue lolling and panting as your cat tries to cool down again afterwards.  Most cats don’t need any encouragement when it comes to taking it easy, but if you and your cat enjoying playing games together keep the games gentle, and play them at night when temperatures have dropped a few degrees.

6.  Cats with white ears and noses have an increased likelihood of contracting skin cancer, and should really wear sunblock when outdoors.  If you’re worried that your cat may be in the at risk group, contact your vet who will be happy to advise you on non-toxic products suitable for cats.

Martha panting after foolishly deciding to scale a 20ft wall of ivy during a heatwave.

Martha panting after foolishly deciding to scale a 20ft wall of ivy during a heatwave.

Household Hints

1.  Keep your curtains and blinds closed during the day to prevent the sun from showing its evil face inside your home.  (Can you tell I’m not a big hot weather fan?)  This simple measure really does help reduce indoor temperatures, benefiting you as well as your cat!

2.  Of course you’ll want the windows open as wide as possible at the moment, but be please extra vigilant around upper storey windows where your cat is concerned.  Even the most cautious of cats is capable of reacting instinctively to a passing bird or butterfly spotted through an open window – with potentially fatal consequences.

3.  Your cat will currently be seeking out cool spots around your home; cosy cat beds will shunned in favour of ceramic tiles and lino, so try and leave doors open to provide access to such areas.  Sinks, baths and shower trays also prove popular during hot spells, so make sure you rinse any cleaning products away thoroughly to prevent your cat from ingesting them when grooming.  Or do as I do and just give up on housework until the weather cools down.

Outdoor Tips

1.  Be very very vigilant around sheds and greenhouses – any cat accidentally shut inside one of these enclosed spaces will be subjected to horrendously high temperatures, resulting in extreme suffering and even death.

2.  If your garden is mainly given over to grass and lacks mature shrubs and trees, or maybe you have a paved/decked courtyard, your cat will probably appreciate some outdoor shade.  This can be easily accomplished with garden furniture.  Even if you have plants which give shade, it’s always worth providing a bit extra – thanks to Cool for Cats UK reader, Melanie Georgiou, who left this tip on the Facebook page: ‘Our cat’s favourite bit of shade is always underneath one of our folding chairs so we leave one out for him all day on hot days even though we have several trees providing shade.  Apparently chair shade is best.’

So, in summary: don’t worry too much, as long as your cat remains hydrated, and you remain vigilant regarding open windows, sheds etc., your cat should have no problems coping with the sort of heatwave we have here in the UK.  However, if you have any concerns whatsoever about your cat’s health during a hot spell (or at any other time) always consult your vet.

Please feel free to add any tips of your own in the comments section!

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