Tag Archives: cat care

Rescue Kittens Review Tigga Teaser Toys from The Pet Business!

tigga teasers lion lure from the pet business

The Pet Business very kindly sent me some Tigga Teasers Lion Lures to donate to my local Celia Hammond Animal Trust (CHAT) rescue centre.  (And also one for the HQ Cats to check out.)

Tigga Teasers Lion Lures are very safe and durable fishing rod toys.  Safe because the fake fur lure is attached to the rod with a length of wire rather than *cord; and durable because the rods are made from acrylic, which is slightly flexible but strong enough to withstand anything even the largest cat can throw at it.  They are also handmade in the USA to a high standard, and used by none other than Mr Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell fame – a pretty impressive recommendation, I’m sure you’ll agree!

lionlure copy

As soon as I set eyes on the Tigga Teasers Lion Lures I thought of Kay, who is the volunteer photographer at CHAT Lewisham and also runs the associated Catwalk Photo website and Facebook page.  Kay is an expert at operating her camera one-handed while cat-and-kitten-wrangling with the other.  But (as anyone who’s ever tried to photograph a feline friend will know) getting them to look in the right direction is often extremely blimmin’ difficult!

So me and a selection of Lion Lures gate crashed one of Kay’s rescue kitten shoots, to see if we could persuade said kitties to maybe please look in the direction of the camera while they were being snapped…  And it worked a treat!  The mouse-like fake fur lure and bell piqued the curiosity of even the shyest kittens, and I was easily able to keep the ‘mouse’ out of shot because it’s attached to wire and not dangling uncontrollably from a length of cord.

Kay took a couple of pics with the Lion Lure in shot for the purposes of this review.  Kittens Ashley and Pringle (top & below) were proving a bit camera shy, but once I whipped out a Lion Lure they soon changed their minds.  I love this action shot where little Ashley appears to have a giant paw!

Ashley and Pringle are looking for a forever home together.  If you live in South East London, and are interested in adopting them, you can visit the CHAT Lewisham branch any Saturday between 1pm & 5pm (no appt. necessary),  or call 020 8694 6545 or email  lewisham@celiahammond.org

tigga teasers lion lure from the pet business

The Lion Lures are now part of Kay’s rescue cat photography kit, and will make the job of capturing rescue cats on camera that much easier.  Quality adoption portraits are very important for rescue centre websites – appealing photos really help generate offers of forever homes for cats and kittens in need.  Thanks to The Pet Business for such a useful donation!

lionlure copy

But what did the HQ Cats make of their Tigga Teaser Lion Lure?  Immediately I opened the box, Alfie dived in and ran off with an orange Lion Lure, which he has now claimed as his and his alone (he carries the lure round in his mouth with the rod dragging behind him!), although he does sometimes let me play too.  I like the fact that the lure is attached to a long rod with a length of wire, rather than cord, as this allows for greater control; and with a little practice I was soon able to muster up a convincing impression of a mouse unwittingly going about his daily business in the presence of a Mighty Hunter.  Alfie loves it when I manoeuvre the lure behind a chair leg, or under a door, and let it twitch ever-so slightly while he goes into stalking mode.  Then, just as he thinks he has his prey cornered, a flick of the wrist sends the pesky ‘mouse’ whizzing off again, with Alfie in hot pursuit.  Sometimes, the mouse even takes to the air, which is, like, amazing!

Tigga Teasers Lion Lures are available from The Pet Business for £8.95.

Measurements: rod – 60cm; wire – 25cm; lure – 2.5cm x 5cm

*Traditional cord-type fishing rods are great for interactive play between you and your cat, but should never be used for unsupervised play, as, when playing solo, cats – particularly kittens – can become entangled in the cord, with potentially fatal consequences.

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!

Cats vs Garden Birds

There’s been a bit of a debate in the British media recently concerning the impact our domestic cats and dogs have on UK wildlife populations.  I couldn’t possibly comment on what our canine friends get up to in their spare time, as I’ve never owned a dog; but as a life-long cat lover I feel reasonably qualified to offer an opinion on the hunting behaviours of Britain’s moggies.  I’m going to focus my attention on urban-dwelling cats and garden birds, as it’s this issue which seems to cause the most conflict between cat owners and wildlife enthusiasts.

cat with bird in mouth

As both a cat owner and someone who has been fascinated by nature ever since I can remember, I resent the assumption, made by some people, that cat ownership and an appreciation of wildlife are mutually exclusive.  But I also feel that we cat owners have a duty to try and reduce the number of fatalities caused by our feline friends.

cat with mouse in mouthDomestic cats kill an estimated 200 million creatures (including insects) in Britain each year.  Urban wildife populations are more affected, due to the high numbers of cats present in our towns and cities.  I’ve always lived in an urban environment, and in my experience most people are happy to tolerate – and even welcome – cats despatching mice and rats with impunity; but cats killing garden birds is another matter entirely, proving to be an emotive issue which often invokes the word ‘murder’.

I think it’s important for non-cat lovers to view cats’ hunting activities in a more scientific way: cats are not ‘murderers’, they are merely carnivores near the top of the food chain who have evolved to hunt other animals lower down the chain.  Another popular misconception is that all cats spend every waking hour outside killing things.  Whereas we cat owners know that the desire to hunt can vary quite considerably: some cats will indeed kill anything that moves, while others – literally – wouldn’t hurt a fly, and the majority of cats fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

However, cat owners can be guilty of turning a blind eye to the fact that they are sharing their homes with highly efficient predators: the cute and cuddly kitty who loves a tummy tickle when she’s stretched out on your bed can transform into a gimlet-eyed assasin the moment her hunting instinct kicks in.

cat on top of nest box

I think many cat owners also underestimate the amount of emotion people invest in their garden birds; and although I never enjoy receiving a load of earache from an irate bird lover who’s convinced that I’m harbouring a gang of serial killers, I can understand why they feel so strongly.  For instance, if someone has installed a nest box in their garden and then derived a great deal of pleasure from watching a pair of birds raise a family, it’s not difficult to imagine how traumatic it would be to witness the resulting fledglings being picked off one by one by the local moggies.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!  You’ll be pleased to hear that we cat owners can actually do quite a lot to reduce the carnage going on in our back yards.

  • Fit a bell to your cat’s collar – this measure has been shown to reduce kills by up to a third.  If you fancy going hi-tech, then you could always invest in a audio-visual alarm collar, which senses when your cat goes into stalk mode and activates an alarm, thus alerting birds to the danger present.  These gadgets are available from Petcetera for £9.99.  (It’s worth noting that the alarm unit is attached to an elasticated collar, so it must be transferred to a safey-release collar prior to use, for the sake of your cat’s well-being.)
  • Keep your cat indoors at night – this reduces the number of kills by around 50%.  In addition to saving the lives of small mammals and amphibians, this simple measure provides vital protection for birds: they are at their most vulnerable around dawn and dusk, when they are busy re-fuelling after a long period without food or stocking up in order to get through the night ahead.
  • The main reason given for not keeping cats in at night is ‘I don’t want to have to deal with a litter tray.’  Well, tough; even if you’re not bothered about protecting local wildlife, in order to provide proper care for your cat you need a litter tray, it’s a simple as that.  Cats should be kept indoors at night for their own safety too: your cat will probably wander much further afield under the cover of darkness, and so is far more likely to be involved in a road traffic accident or a fight with another cat.
  • Keep an eye out for families of birds with newly-fledged chicks, and if you see any, shut your cat in until the chicks have got the hang of the whole flying think.  I do this every year, and yes, my cats do resent being stuck inside (especially when they can see baby birds through the window!), but it only adds up to a few days spent indoors each year, and it does save a lot of feathery lives.
  • It’s essential that cats are neutered.  Not only are there far too many unwanted cats in the UK already, but un-neutered cats of both sexes often wander a long way from home and become lost.  A lost tom will more than likely live out the rest of his life as a stray.  While a pregnant female unable to find her way home will find a safe place outdoors to give birth.  If the cat and her kittens aren’t lucky enough to be rescued by an animal charity (and most won’t be), this one family can rapidly become a feral cat colony (cats breed like rabbits, in case you didn’t know).  Although I’m not aware of any studies carried out in this area, I think it’s safe to assume that strays and ferals pose much more of a threat to urban birdlife than our pampered moggies, as they need to hunt in order to survive.

Neutering has numerous other benefits which you can read more about here.

If, like me, you enjoy providing refreshments for the birds in your garden, the following tips are useful for preventing them from falling prey to the local cats.

  • Do not ground feed, unless you’re lucky enough to have a truly massive lawn which makes it possible for birds to spot a stalking cat before it has time to pounce – unlikely in urban areas.  I get round this problem by placing food for ground feeders, such as blackbirds and dunnocks, on my shed roof – it works a treat.  Warning: do ensure that cats aren’t able to access your shed roof surreptitiously before trying this at home.
  • Bear in mind that a cat can scale fences and tree trunks in a Spiderman stylee and cover up to six times its own body length in a single leap, and position your nest boxes and feeders accordingly.
  • If you plant berried shrubs to provide winter food, use plants with a dense, thorny growth habit, such as holly, hawthorn or pyracantha.  Cats don’t like climbing these (who would?), and so birds will be able to enjoy the berries in peace.
  • Ensure that bird baths and ponds are safe from ambush too.

I’ve found these measures to be highly effective; I genuinely don’t recall my cats catching any garden birds in the last five years.  We do suffer the odd bird fatality from time to time, but that’s down to neighbours allowing their cats 24hr outside access.

So there you have it.  All it takes is for us cat owners to show a little consideration towards our local birdlife, and for bird lovers to exercise a little common sense when it comes to providing food and shelter for their feathered friends, and we could all live together for ever and ever in perfect harmony.  Well, maybe I wouldn’t go that far; but you get the general idea.

baby owl with kitten

(Images: cat & mouse and cat & long-tailed tit via catbehaviour. blogs.lincoln.ac.uk; cat on nest box via dobbies.co.uk; cats watching woodpigeon via ladyoftheloch.co.uk; house sparrow on bird feeder via gardennature.co.uk; kitten & owl via arbroath.blogspot.com )

Garden Birds Can Benefit from Your Cat!

Great tit chicks

While I can’t speak for the rest of the country, here in Sarf London spring has most definitely sprung; which means that birds are busy nest building.  Many of our feathered friends like to line their nests with a soft insulating material, and this is where your cat can help out: cat hair keeps eggs and chicks super-snug.

 

So next time you groom your cat, or hoover cat hair off your furniture, instead of throwing the resulting fluff away, put it out in the garden for your local birds to use.

I use this homemade cat fur dispenser (simple to make with heavy-gauge garden wire and a pair of pliers), which I hang in a tree a few feet from my bird feeder, and it’s always a big hit with the local blue and great tits.

 

 

But if you don’t have the time to make your own, a fat ball dispenser, like this one from Pets at Home would do the job just as well.  (Please don’t use plastic netting to dispense either cat hair or fat balls, as birds can become entangled in the mesh by their tongues or feet, with tragic consequences.)

So why not give it a go?  It’s not only the birds who’ll benefit: your cat will look smart from all the extra grooming you’ll be doing to keep up with demand, and every time you spy a small bird leaving your garden with a beakful of cat fur you’ll smile at the irony!

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