Great Gift Ideas for Pet Owners and Their Pets

Are you looking for some gift ideas for your furry friends? We have some great suggestions to help take the stress out of making decisions in time for the upcoming holiday season!

We all know how much you and your friends love their precious pets, and we know that they usually treat their pooches and kitties with tenderness and affection. If you are a pet owner, you know exactly what I mean!

If you are currently choosing a gift for your own or someone else’s pet, there is a wide range of choices to fit any wallet. If you are looking for a gift for a pet owner, there is an equally wide selection. Gifts are available from pet stores and online, too.

Both Cats and Dogs Will Love These Gifts

If they knew how to write, we’re sure pets would add many of these items to their wish lists:

1. Treats – What pet doesn’t love a yummy treat? That’s right, they all do!

  • Choose from a variety of cat treats or dog treats that are both delicious and nutritious. They are great to use as rewards when training pets (e.g. training them to come when their name is called) and for comforting them when they are in stressful situations (e.g. after meeting new people and animals).
  • An alternative treat idea is a water fountain that both cats and dogs will enjoy and can even use together. Fountains can help a pet stay hydrated and most cats and dogs are attracted to the sound of running water. Pet fountains are usually made of stainless steal or porcelain and are easy to clean when necessary, but any fountain with a low brim that sits on the floor will do.

2. Toys – There are many cat toys and dog toys available that will keep pets amused and active all by themselves, and other toys that will also keep their owners active and amused when they’re playing with them!

  • Both dogs and cats love to chase balls. Even though the game is different for each kitty and pooch, try to find the right type and size of ball and plan on everyone having a good time. Some balls make interesting noises and flash sparking lights to entertain your cat, and others are perfect for tossing through the air for a dog to chase and retrieve. Choose one for your pooch that lights up at night for a fun evening game!
  • Toy choices that will make every pet happy are the chew toys. These can help keep a dog’s teeth healthy, and they’ll keep cats from chewing on electrical cords and wires or other dangerous items.

3. Comfort Gifts – Pamper pets with a cozy bed, or provide an aid for senior pets to make their life easier.

  • Every pet loves to have a bed that is just right for them even if they’re allowed to sleep on their owner’s bed now and then. There are memory foam beds for pets that live with arthritis, and there are thermal cushioned mats for senior pets that use an insulated layer to keep a pet warm using body heat rather than an electrical connection.
  • Pet stairs or pet ramps are a good choice for senior pets with arthritis since they may be no longer able to jump up onto the bed or the couch, or that allow dogs to get up into cars when travelling.
  • Brushing your pet’s coat not only feels good to them, but also it keeps pet hair and fur from building up on every surface in the home. Select a good brush for a pet and everybody wins!

More Gifts to Pamper a Pooch

  • What dog doesn’t love to play with a Frisbee? Even a senior dog will probably not be able to resist trying to catch a spinning Frisbee in the air or on the ground, and running back to their owner with it, chewed and covered with slobber. Good times!
  • Who wants to play tug of war? Dogs do, that’s who! Buy a good tug-of-war rope and you’ll make a dog and their owner very happy.
  • When it’s time to go out for a walk, dogs will appreciate having their paws warm and dry when the weather isn’t. Try finding them water resistant socks or shoes and you’ll make both them and their owner’s walks even better!

More Purr-fect Gifts for Kitty

  • Do cats love chasing wands, wand teasers, and bird feather teasers? Oh, yes, they do! These toys are not only fun for kitties, but also they provide good exercise. Cats will stretch up on their toes or jump up into the air to catch their “prey” whenever you offer them one of these!
  • Cats love to scratch, and scratching posts are welcome gifts for cats and their owners. Add a little catnip to really encourage kitty to scratch the post rather than the furniture.
  • Wind-up toys are always fun! They come in a great variety of small, tempting, “animal-looking” prey to excite and lead kitty on a merry chase.

Gifts That Please Pet Owners

There are a multitude of awesome gifts for pet owners that let them show the world that they love their pets, make playing with their pets easier, and help keep them safe.

  • Pet tote bags with illustrations of cats or dogs are welcome gifts. Owners can carry pet essentials (e.g., food, water, toys) on walks, travels, or visits to friends.
  • Pet owners need a crate for both cats and dogs for long-term travel, and are needed for cats even on short car trips.
  • A litter scoop is an inexpensive gift for a cat owner, and poop bags or a poop bag carrier is an ideal, inexpensive gift for a dog owner.
  • An attractive throw to protect a pet’s favourite sleeping spot on a sofa or comfy chair can make a pet owner very happy!
  • There are a lot of pet gates that will keep a dog (not a cat) out of a room or rooms. Some of them come with a hinged door and some with useful auto-close features that are useful when your hands are full.
  • Dogs love being taken for walks no matter what time of day! For late eveningwear, check out leashes with a light-up LED light or those made from glow-in-the-dark material.
  • A tennis ball holder for playing catch with a dog makes the fun easier on the owner, who may get tired before their dog does.
  • Placemats to put under pet food and water dishes, making cleanup for owners easier, and they aren’t too expensive.
  • Personalize gifts with their pet’s name and a pet owner will be over the moon! You can arrange for pet names to be embroidered on blankets, T-shirts, Christmas stockings, engraved on jewelry, stamped on dog or cat collars, placemats, etc.
  • Pet-themed bins for toys, jars for treats, collars for cats or dogs, owner T-shirts, welcome mats, socks, coffee mugs, phone cases, key chains, coasters—you name it, there will be a cat or dog theme for almost any gift item at a very wide range of prices.
  • Books on pet care, how to interpret a pet’s form of communication, subscriptions to magazines aimed at dog and cat owners, or a book full of humorous dog and cat stories will take care of gifts for pet owners who like to read.

We hope our suggestions help you find the perfect gifts for pet owners and their pets in time for the upcoming holiday season. Look for these items in your local pet store or online. Whatever gift you get them, we know your friends and their pets will love them. Have fun!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Older Cats Need Love, Too! 8 Reasons for Adopting One

Older cats make great pets! Their need for love and their willingness to return love so readily is only one of eight reasons to adopt an older cat. We love kittens just as much because they are so cute and cuddly, and it’s easy to lose our hearts to them even though, in many cases, an older cat might be a better choice for your household.

Why There Are Many Older Cats Available for Adoption

Older cats may be given up for adoption for a few reasons. Usually it’s because the owners:

  • are downsizing to an apartment that won’t accept pets
  • no longer want a cat after a baby is born into the family
  • have someone moving into the home who suffers from a cat allergy
  • develop asthma or some other allergy to cats
  • are moving to another area with accommodations and conditions unsuitable for pets
  • accept a new job that involves extensive travel and can no longer care for a pet
  • are moving into a seniors’ complex that doesn’t allow pets
  • become too sick to care for a pet, or are hospitalized for an indefinite time, or pass away

Older cats are often not chosen for adoption because people seeking a cat as a pet don’t realize the many benefits of choosing an older one, so they pick a cute little kitten instead. Lonely older cats yearning for a loving home may end their days in an animal shelter.

An older cat can be defined as any full-grown cat, which means it has reached the age of 18 months and, for some large breeds (e.g., a Maine Coon), at ages two to four years old. You can consider a cat to be a “senior” at approximately seven years old—again, depending on their breed. Most people consider a cat to be an “older cat” when the animal is beyond the cute kitten stage.

Whatever the definition, an older cat needs love just as much as a kitten does. Without further ado, here are the advantages of adopting an older cat.

1. Lower Costs

Most older cats have already received their vaccinations as kittens and may have had some of the booster shots as well. They have usually been spayed or neutered already as well. All these procedures have basic costs, which have been paid for by their previous owners, and it means that the costs of cat ownership are lowered by a lot for new owners. Your new cat needs to be registered and examined by a veterinarian where you can pass along all the information about her or him from the previous owner and/or shelter where you obtained ownership and you can ask questions about how to care for an older cat.

2. Easy Care

Speaking of care, it is a lot less work to care for an older cat than a kitten. You merely have to introduce your cat to the location of his or her litter box and you are free from the necessity of training your cat to use it. Also, you won’t need to entertain or play with an older cat as frequently as you must with a kitten since kittens require a lot of interaction. An older cat usually already knows the terms “no,” “down,” and “off,” and is more likely to come when called by name. Older cats have been socialized and are anxious to become part of a family.

3. Great With Kids

Young children have to be cautioned many times about being gentle with a kitten but often forget, or don’t really know what “gentle” means and, in some cases, don’t have the motor skills needed to be gentle “enough.” Kittens don’t understand acceptable behavior either, and they might often bite or scratch children without realizing their claws and teeth hurt, so they must learn to be gentle as well. Older cats already know how to keep their teeth and claws to themselves, have much more patience, will break free of children who hurt them rather than fight back, and will still love their little owners.

4. Great With Seniors, Too

An older cat is a great companion for an older adult. Senior cats as well as senior owners are more relaxed and move more slowly. Older cats have lower energy levels and are much less likely to do anything destructive, like trying to claw their way up the drapes or jump up on tables where there isn’t room for them. Older cats sleep a lot and enjoy households where the pace of living is slow and relaxing.

5. Great With Other Pets, Three

If you own other cats and want to introduce a new pet into your household, it is a lot easier if you choose a mature cat rather than a kitten. Kittens want to play, not only with you but also with your other pets. Kittens can create a lot of stress, especially for older cats who like their established lifestyle and routines and don’t want to deal with an energetic, playful kitten. It is also better to select an older cat that has lived in a household with other pets and has learned to live with them as well as with humans.

6. An Established Personality

When you choose a kitten as a pet, you have no idea what your pet will be like as an adult cat. Maybe your kitten will grow up to be absolutely delightful and a good companion for you, or may become an unfriendly annoyance who leaps on you from the top of the fridge or scratches your ankle from under the bed, or launches an assault on you while you’re sleeping (this is rare, though, and if present kittens will outgrow this behaviour). Former owners can describe their cat’s behaviour and staff at a shelter will know whether or not a cat gets along well with other animals and if it is friendly with people. You want to choose a cat who will be happy in your household, and you can make a more informed choice if it is an adult with an established personality.

7. Experienced and Wise

No matter how cute and sweet kittens may be, they require a lot of work to keep up with their energy. Kittens need time to learn how to use their litter boxes, not to jump up on tables and counters, not to climb up the curtains, and not to get into trouble when you leave the house. Older cats know how to use a litter box, understand how households run, don’t care if you leave them alone for most of the day, are happy on their own, are happy if you are there with them, and come when they are called.

8. Immense Love

Older cats are so grateful to be in a family household after living without an owner and/or in a shelter. It’s so easy to love a kitten at first sight, but it takes a lot of work to care for them and raise them when you have a busy schedule. An older cat needs love and gives tons of love back when they’re adopted. Any older cats who have been denied such a warm and loving environment for so long will be very happy to have found a new home and will love their new owners at once. You can count on them for devotion and to remain attached to you for the rest of their lives.

Even a senior cat can be a delightful companion. Many age-related health problems such as arthritis can be managed with good care. As long as they have the right owners, senior cats can live full and happy lives and prove to be perfect pets for many cat lovers.

There are many good reasons for adopting an older cat, even cats who have reached their senior years, and they have lots of love to give. Let your heart be your guide—as well as recommendations from animal shelter staff!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Prevention Tips for a Safe and Happy Halloween for Your Cat

October is a busy time of year, isn’t it? Not only do we have Thanksgiving to celebrate (for us Canadians, anyway), but also Halloween! We get turkey and treats in the same month. How cool is that?

However, we must remember that not everyone is enthusiastic about this time of the year. In this case, we’re talking about our feline friends. Halloween may mean trick-or-treating to some, but Halloween for your cat could mean being alarmed by the sound of fireworks going off, fake cobwebs to get tangled in, and even treats that can make them sick. Not to mention just because you think kitty looks adorable in a witch’s hat, that doesn’t mean your kitty will agree!

There are all sorts of problems you may not realize can be a hazard to your kitty as well as to you, the owner, on this holiday. That’s why we’re here to help. If you want to keep your kitty happy and safe this Halloween, here are our top prevention tips to do just that.

Scenario #1: Escaping from Home

If your door is constantly opening and closing as you give out candy to trick-or-treaters, your cat may feel tempted to escape from your home. On a night when lots of people in costume are walking around and traffic grows heavier at night, it can be frightening to find out your cat has run away from home—and in the dark, it’s almost impossible to find them.

Solution: Prevent your kitty from having the chance to escape by keeping them in a room away from the front door; a bedroom should do fine. This can be their haven for the evening, complete with food, water, a clean litter box, toys, and bedding. It’s a good idea as well to check up on your kitty occasionally while they’re shut inside of the room so they don’t feel too lonely or unhappy.

If you know your cat is definitely going to want to escape, have them wear a collar with identification or get a microchip or a tattoo placed on your cat by your veterinarian. If your cat escaping is a huge concern, consider overnight cat boarding as an option instead, or not indulging in trick or treating.

Scenario #2: Noise Phobia

Halloween is fun for everyone unless loud noises are a problem…and for cats, that’s a big one! Noise phobia is exactly what you think it is: the fear of loud noises. Cats are exceptionally sensitive to sound given how excellent their hearing can be. If your cat has noise phobia, they may reveal the following signs: excessive pacing, shivering, hiding, and even drooling in some cases. If you’re having guests over for a Halloween party, too many people and noises in the room will definitely be too much for kitty to handle (especially if your guests love cats!).

Solution: Remember that room we mentioned before? Try giving your kitty a specific box or a designated area where they can hide in. Cats prefer to be as far away from stressful situations and loud sounds as possible, and tend to go into hiding when they’re stressed, in pain, or scared. If their noise phobia is especially bad, try giving them other solutions such as a natural pheromone collar or spray, anti-anxiety medication prescribed by your veterinarian, and of course a lot of TLC!

In the case of guests, it may be disappointing to let them know kitty won’t be joining them. Of course it’s okay to let your kitty socialize or let them come out of the room if there are a few people, but again, keep an eye on them in case your guests leave the front door open or if they’re getting overly anxious. Don’t force your kitty to be social if they don’t want to be. When all the excitement has died down, that’s when you can let your cat out of the room to roam around as usual.

Scenario #3: Black Cats

We love kitties of all sizes and colours; black cats are no exception! The black cat is one of many iconic Halloween symbols; in pictures you either see them riding on a broomstick with a witch or lying next to a jack ‘o lantern. Unfortunately black cats still have quite the reputation for being perceived as bad luck, and even the sweetest, gentlest black cat may fall victim to pranks being pulled on them, or worse. If a black cat ends up escaping out of the house, they’re as good as invisible outside at night, making them prone to all sorts of dangers.

Solution: Like with any cat, if your cat’s coat is black or dark-coloured, you should keep them situated in a room in your home safe from the outside. You can also make sure their collar is bright and colourful (neon yellow would work best, or a reflective neon orange if you want to be festive and safe!) so that they are more visible in the event they do escape outside. Again, a microchip and ID will work wonders if your black cat gets lost.

Scenario #4: Decorations

As the saying goes, “Curiosity killed the cat” and nothing makes a cat more curious than the different Halloween decorations on display in your home. Fake cobwebs, streamers, lit jack o’ lanterns…all these things are likely to cause kitty to try to play with them. This is a problem in many ways; most Halloween decorations are made of foil and plastic, all of which spell trouble if your kitty wants to nibble! Fake cobwebs in particular can be a problem because the ones you buy in the store are usually made of cotton balls or strings, or spray from a bottle—all of which are toxic or dangerous to cats. And don’t get us started on the dangers of cats and lit candles! Thankfully, there is also the saying “Cats have nine lives!”

Solution: Try getting creative with your decorations this year by skipping the cotton cobwebs and go for rubber instead; avoid them altogether if your kitty is prone to chewing on certain types of objects as chewing on rubber would be just as big of a hazard. For your jack o’ lantern, ditch the candle this time and use an LED light you can find at the store. If you simply cannot live without decorations, make sure they are all out of your cat’s reach and away from their climbable perches. You can distract kitty from any decoration by giving them their regular toys.

Scenario #5: Treats

Treats that are okay for kids and adults on Halloween night are more like tricks if your kitty gets hold of them! Plastic wrap has that crinkly sound that cats can’t resist since it’s also the sound accompanying their bag of cat treats. Batting those wrappers around could lead to swallowing them by accident, and that’s not something you want to deal with! And you may think dogs are the only ones who go after chocolate, but unfortunately so too do some cats, and it’s just as toxic to either pet.

Solution: Basic supervision should be enough to deter your kitty from nibbling on snacks that aren’t good for them. If you have kids, teach them about the sorts of treats that are good versus not good for their cat so in the event they want to spoil kitty, they won’t give them their own treats by accident! Store away any treats wrapped in plastic in the cupboard that you think your cat will be tempted to snack on. Keep any treats for trick-or-treaters sealed; a mixing bowl with a lid should work just fine. As for good treats, only offer the kind you know are good for kitty such as dental chews or other vet-recommended treats.

Scenario #6: Costumes

Like we said before, just because a witch’s hat looks cute in photo ops doesn’t mean your kitty will agree with you. Trying to dress them in costume may work for some kitties, but it all really depends on their personality or comfort level with foreign objects being placed on them. Most of the time once you put a hat on their head, they will do everything in their power to get it off of them! And if you’re thinking of dressing them up as ghosts, please don’t; not all kitties like being wrapped in sheets or towels. The idea may seem cute, but in actuality not being able to see is terrifying to them.

Solution: Ditch the costume ideas altogether if your cat is uncomfortable with wearing one. Opt instead for a festive collar. That way your cat will be able to see where they’re going and they won’t be hindered from moving around. A bowtie is okay (so long as it’s not too tight) and can make for some cute photos!

Halloween for your cat should be fun, not stressful. We hope our prevention tips ensure you both have a great time. Happy Halloween!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

How to Train Your Cat to Walk on a Leash

Yes, it’s true! Your cat can be trained to walk on a leash. While letting your cat outdoors is not something we recommend, if your cat insists on going outside and you live in an area where it isn’t safe to let cats outside on their own because of traffic or other dangers, the only way you and your cat can have fun outside is to train them to walk on a leash. It’s not difficult to introduce your cat to the leash and if your pet is familiar with it, you can enjoy frequent outings together.

Will Your Indoor Cat Enjoy Going Outdoors?

You can let a cat outdoors on a leash if it absolutely insists on going outside. You need to be vigilant, of course, and make sure your pet is protected as much as possible against various bacteria, parasites, poisons, and the usual outdoor dangers that they may encounter. You also have to accept the fact that outdoor cats are never as safe as indoor cats because of the dangers. This is why we don’t recommend letting cats outdoors in the first place. Having your cat on a leash is the safest way to protect them if they want to be outdoors.

You may decide that you want your cat to remain indoors unless on a leash. The question is, will going outside be a treat and will the leash be accepted by your cat?

Maybe – Cats that are trained to walk on a leash generally enjoy being outdoors and exploring. As long as cats are trained slowly and at an early age, most of them can adjust to the outdoor experience. Walking on a leash can keep them from becoming bored and lazy. It allows them to have regular exercise, which helps to maintain their health and weight. It can also be fun for both of you!

Maybe Not – Some cats are never comfortable walking on a leash because of their personalities, their age, or their health. If you spend a lot of time slowly and patiently introducing the harness and leash with plenty of treats and praise, but your cat continues to resist, it is time to give up. Accept your cat’s decision to not walk on a leash and play indoor games instead.

How to Train Your Cat

When training your cat, each stage requires treats, praise, and patience.

1. Purchase the Right Equipment – The “right equipment” means a harness, not a collar. Cats can slip right out of a collar, so make sure you buy the correct sized harness, preferably one that is adjustable. 

2. Introduce the Harness – Leave the harness near the food dish so your cat associates it with something nice—food, of course! If the harness makes a snapping sound or the characteristic Velcro sound when the harness is adjusted, make those sounds with the harness multiple times for several days so that your cat is used to the sound before you try fitting it on. After a few days to two weeks, put the harness on your cat right before mealtime, and take it off afterwards. Repeat for several days.

Once your cat is used to the harness, try adjusting it for size—you need to be able to fit two fingers under the harness. Leave it on for a few minutes and offer your cat a treat, some praise, and a pat on the head before taking it off.

3. Introduce the Leash – Your cat may not mind wearing the harness or it may take several days or weeks before it is accepted; take your time. When your cat is used to wearing and walking around with it, attach the leash. Let it drag on the floor while you feed your cat treats, give praise and a pat on the head, play for a bit, and then take it and the harness off.

After the leash is accepted, pick up the end and follow your cat around the house with the leash slack in your hand. Don’t forget the praise and treats! Then try gently coaxing your cat with a treat while guiding the harness. Don’t allow your cat to back out of the harness because you don’t want that to happen when you are out on a walk. Repeat this exercise daily for a few days.

4. Take Your Cat For Walks Outside – With the harness and leash attached, pick your cat up in your arms and walk out of the house. Never allow your cat to walk out or your cat will be streaking out the door whenever it is opened. Carry a towel with you in case your cat gets scared when you put them down on the ground. That way, you can quickly wrap up your cat in the towel to avoid being bitten or scratched before taking them back into the house.

Try going outside each day for an hour, always staying close to the door so that you can go back inside at a moment’s notice. After building their confidence while outside, your cat will soon enjoy going for walks. If at any point your cat drops to the ground with tail twitching and ears flattened back, stop the training session or the walk. Your cat is always the boss and you do whatever the boss wants!

Useful Hints

  • Don’t tie up your cat outside and leave your pet unattended. A cat can be tangled up in the leash in no time or be spooked by another animal or a person and can’t get away.
  • Keep your cat from picking up items and licking or chewing anything. Have some treats handy as a distraction.
  • Remember that you are walking a cat, not a dog. Cats tend to be less inclined to be guided by a leash and they may decide for no obvious reason that today is not a good day for a walk. Or they may decide a walk is fine, but not at the same place as before, even though it was a perfectly acceptable place yesterday.

Most cats can be trained to walk on a leash, but not all. If you live in an area where it isn’t safe to let a cat outside and your cat refuses to cooperate with your training efforts, resign yourself to enjoying only indoor adventures with your pet. Again, we don’t advise letting cats outdoors, but if you need to then using a harness and leash is the safest way.

However, you could be lucky. Purchase a cat harness and leash and try training your pet. It may take many weeks of effort or you could be out walking with your cat quite soon. You’ll never know until you try!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

How to Prepare for Your Kitten’s First Veterinary Appointment

First of all, congratulations on becoming a new kitten parent! However, there is a lot that needs to be done other than providing the new kitty with lots of cuddles and playtime. There is new food to get for the kitten, new toys to provide so he or she doesn’t get bored, a new litter box to be set up…and a new veterinary appointment to book.

There is nothing to be nervous about on your part, but that may not mean the same for your kitten! They are likely still trying to adjust to all of the new sights and smells you are exposing them to on a daily basis. From a kitten’s point of view, meeting the vet can be a scary thing! However, there are ways in which you can make their first veterinary appointment a smooth one. Here are some tips.

Making the Appointment

Depending on when you adopted your new kitten, you need to bring them in to see a veterinarian within 48 hours of adoption. The standard age a kitten should be brought in is between 8 and 12 weeks old.

Though the 48 hour timeline is the usual recommended time to bring a new kitten in to the veterinary clinic, you should bring your kitten to the vet sooner if they seem ill. Signs of illness you should look out for include the following:

  • Watery eyes or tear ducts
  • Sneezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Breathing problems

Making the appointment is easy: pick up the phone and call the vet! Your new cat’s veterinarian may ask you some questions prior to the appointment.

You will also need to provide paperwork detailing your kitten’s medical history. Kittens from animal shelters can be released after 8 weeks and it’s very likely they will already have received their first round of vaccinations. The shelter will tell you if your vet needs to provide your new kitten with a booster shot.

Before the Appointment

Before bringing your new kitten to the veterinary clinic, you need to make sure you have a secure, appropriately sized cat carrier in which your kitten can travel. Your kitten may not like the carrier at first, so you need to get them used to it. The carrier should also be big enough for when your kitten becomes fully grown.

Place the carrier on the floor and leave the door open so the kitten can sniff inside and walk in and out of it. It wouldn’t hurt to place down a small blanket or even treats inside of the carrier! That way, the kitten will associate it with something pleasant rather than fearful. Depending on the kitten itself, it may or may not even choose to sleep inside (this would be a great thing to happen! Again, you want to make sure its mode of transportation is pleasant).

Once the kitten is used to the carrier, try closing the door behind them. Then when they’re inside, lift and move the carrier into another room before letting them out and give them a treat. Repeat this until the kitten is used to the motion. Take short trips in the car with the carrier, followed by a treat so that, again, the kitten will not grow to hate their carrier.

When it’s time to leave and go to the vet clinic, talk to your kitten soothingly when they need to go into the carrier. Never raise your voice or get angry with the kitten if they still don’t like the carrier; some cats never get used to it despite our best efforts. When the kitten is inside, add a few more treats and keep talking to them as soothingly as possible before, during, and after traveling to the vet.

During the Appointment

Allow your kitten to explore the exam room when you bring them in for their appointment so that they get used to the strange, new smells and surroundings. Let them look around until it’s time for your vet to properly examine kitty.

A physical examination of the kitten should be expected at every veterinary appointment. Your vet will check the kitten’s ears for mites, their eyes for watering or crusty areas around their eyelids, and their mouth, teeth, and tongue for oral problems. They will also listen to their heartbeat to check for any murmurs and gently palpate their stomach for abnormalities. Your vet will need to take your kitten’s temperature rectally to ensure they don’t have a fever or underlying problem as well. Allow your kitten to walk around so your vet can make sure their joints and muscles are normal and that there’s nothing wrong with your kitten’s knees or mobility.

A fecal examination may be performed to ensure there are no parasites such as roundworms, hookworms or tapeworms living inside your kitten’s body; depending on their previous environment your vet may ask you to bring in a stool sample. Your kitten’s vet will also comb through their fur to ensure no fleas or eggs are present on your kitten.

If your new kitten was not spayed or neutered prior to their first veterinary appointment, now is the time to bring it up. Spaying or neutering cats is helpful in preventing them from contributing to the over population of cats. It will also discourage certain behaviours such as spraying if done at the correct time. A follow-up appointment may be required if your new kitten is in fact not spayed or neutered; again, talk to your veterinarian about this.

Vaccinations for your kitten will be provided usually when they are around 8 weeks of age, with boosters at ages 12 and 16 weeks. Feline distemper (FVRCPC) is a typical vaccination for your kitten to receive during their first veterinary appointment. Your veterinarian will discuss with you if it’s necessary to provide vaccinations against FELV (feline leukemia) and rabies based on your kitten’s new lifestyle.

After the Appointment

Never hesitate to ask your vet any questions that were not covered during the appointment! The more they know about your kitten, the better they can help them lead a happy and healthy life.

If your kitten is given a clean bill of health from your vet and their required vaccines are all up to date, you’ll be advised to do a follow-up exam next year and then be sent home.

Once the kitten is brought back into your home, be sure to give them cuddles, treats, and playtime! Enjoy being with your new kitten!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Planning a Trip? How to Treat a Cat with Travel Anxiety

Does your cat hate riding in the car? It’s very common for cats to generally dislike travel of any kind by any means. However, with a few simple tricks, you can reduce kitty’s travel anxiety by a lot, even if he or she never seems particularly happy on a trip.

Unless you happen to live within walking distance of a veterinarian, your cat has to travel now and then. It pays big dividends to help your cat accept travel as best as possible. It’s a better strategy than trying to capture and thrust your struggling, furious kitty into a carrier or crate when a trip is necessary!

How to Help Your Cat Develop a Positive Travel/Carrier Attitude

It is important to introduce your cat to its travel carrier or crate well before he or she needs to take a trip. That way, kitty views this important item as comfortable and familiar instead of strange and unpleasant. It’s not wise to travel with kitty using anything other than a regular crate or a carrier. Cats can slip through very small holes and will be obsessed with finding a way out of any box or homemade restraint. This can be a serious hazard to the driver if kitty runs loose in the car!

To prepare your cat for travel, have the carrier sitting out for several days with the door open. Leave it in a room where kitty spends a lot of time, such as near his or her favourite napping place or a window.

Place one of kitty’s favourite toys and a treat inside the carrier, which will usually excite a cat’s curiosity and cause it to go inside.

After your cat has had a few days to become familiar and comfortable with going in and out of the carrier, close the door and carry it to another room, set it down, and open the door so that he or she can leave.

A day or two later, put your cat into its carrier, close the door, and take it out to the car and take a short trip. Talk to him or her and put a treat inside the carrier before you start the engine. Look back after the engine has started and talk to your cat again so that he or she is reassured by your calm voice.

A few short trips should help reduce a cat’s anxiety about going inside the carrier and travelling by car. He or she may still not like travelling, but at least you won’t have a fight on your hands every time you try to put kitty into the carrier.

Use These Steps to Reduce Travel Stress

As well as helping your kitty become used to being in its travel carrier and to being in the car, prepare for other travel difficulties and emergencies:

  1. If your cat is very unhappy with even short trips in the car, try putting a towel over the carrier so that he or she feels “hidden.” This may help kitty feel more secure.
  2. Talk to your kitty using its name and try singing to it during your trips as well. Playing soft music may also soothe him or her.
  3. Make sure you are prepared for the unthinkable and that, somehow, kitty gets out of the carrier and makes its escape from the car or the final destination. Make sure your cat is wearing a collar with its name and yours, plus your phone number. An additional safety measure is to have an ID microchip inserted painlessly by your veterinarian just under the skin of your pet’s shoulder area. Make sure the number is registered under your name and information with the microchip company.
  4. You can offer kitty some catnip when you are at home and see how he or she reacts to it. Some cats like it a lot, some become excitable, others become mellow, and others don’t react at all. If your kitty likes it and calms down, you can use it as a travel aid. However, if it doesn’t have the desired effect, talk to your veterinarian about what other mild, natural sedatives are harmless and available.

Three Ways to Make a Trip More Enjoyable for You and Kitty

Before starting a trip, put your cat in the bathroom with the door closed and the carrier or crate open while you make your trip preparations. Close up your home so that your cat doesn’t become alarmed by the activity. When everything is ready, place kitty in the crate and take him or her out to the car. 

Make sure you have packed everything your cat will need:

  • A leash to secure your cat if you want to take him or her out of the carrier to urinate or defecate, or to clean up the cage if it becomes sick, or to take him or her with you if you are going to leave the car and aren’t sure how long you will be
  • Regular food and treats, any necessary medication, and two bowls—one for food and one for water
  • Litter, a scoop, a litter pan, and some garbage bags
  • Kitty’s usual blanket and a toy or two

Always place the carrier in the back of the car, preferably where your cat can see you. At traffic stops, turn around and speak to him or her and make eye contact. If you can, place your hand low on the carrier so your cat can rub against your fingers when you have stopped.

At reasonable intervals, stop and let your cat out on the leash so that he or she can get some exercise, have a drink of water, and use the litter pan, and then put a treat and another toy into the carrier before putting your cat back inside and continuing your trip.

How to Ease Your Cat’s Arrival at a Destination

When you arrive at a location for the night or at your journey’s end, take the carrier into the bathroom along with your cat’s litter and litter pan, some food, and some water. Open the carrier so that your cat can come out when he or she feels comfortable, and then leave and close the bathroom door. You will be free to unload the car and become comfortable yourself while your cat becomes accustomed to the new environment for an hour or so.

Here are Some Final Reminders

Remember that your car is not a comfortable place for kitty to be by itself on either a hot day or a cold day. In fact, it can be a very dangerous place for pets if they are left in the car for too long. Get used to the idea that if you are going to stop and leave the car for anything, assume your return may be delayed and take your cat with you in the carrier or on a leash.

No matter how much you try and prepare your cat for travel, don’t feel that you didn’t do your job well enough if your cat seems unhappy—some cats never fully get used to travel. Do your best to reduce its travel anxiety as much as possible, and even though he or she may not show it, you will have made kitty’s life happier for the effort. Safe travels!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

Common Mistakes to Avoid Making as a Cat Parent

On our recent summer vacation, my wife and I met a lot of animal lovers, strangers, and relatives included. It was mostly a discussion on the happiness pets brings to our lives, how each is different, and an odd medical opinion on their pet. We were fairly taken aback when one of our relatives mentioned to my wife (also a veterinarian) that she had given her injured kitten Rosie, a dose Diclofenac (a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) to help with pain management. We both got progressively more concerned as she went on to tell us that the kitten has been very tired and had inappetance (she wasn’t eating) since.

Very quickly, our primary concern had become the dose of diclofenac, and what potential damage it may have caused to her kidneys. Was Rosie not acting lively due to discomfort from pain or was it due to adverse effects of human painkillers given to cats? Did you know that indiscriminate use of pain medications have huge potential to cause GI ulcers, kidney damage and blood abnormalities in cats?

This episode helped reiterate the fact that there are so many things we may do (or not do!) for our pets that are actually harmful to them, without realizing the true potential of it. Thankfully, Rosie did very well within a few days of rehydrating her body and a lot of loving care from her family.

Following is a list of some other common mistakes to avoid as a cat parent:

  1. Leaving stringy toys and hairbands unmonitored in the house – can cause cats to accidentally swallow them and lead to serious intestinal obstructions.
  2. Using leftover antibiotics from before – is never ok, as you may not know the adequate dose or length of course needed. Also, as different antibiotics target different bugs it may not be a good antibiotic choice. Such indiscriminate use can lead to resistant infections and nasty superbugs.
  3. Allowing an outdoor lifestyle, without taking precautions for outdoor hazards such as fleas, worms, and viral infections (feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus) – be sure to keep your outdoor cat up to date on outdoor cat vaccines, deworming, and monthly flea prevention year-round.
  4. Feeding dry food (kibble) exclusively – this was considered ideal for cats till a few years back, but it is now recognized that a large portion of a cats’ diet should be canned or soft moist food.
  5. Believing that cats are not perturbed by environmental changes – on the contrary, cats are very sensitive to changes in their routine or environment. We should always consider and pursue environmental enrichment for these sensitive critters when it is time for a move, introduction of a new pet, upcoming childbirth, etc.

By – Dr. Jangi Bajwa,
Veterinarian at Hastings Veterinary Clinic, Burnaby.

5 Reasons Why Cats Make Great Pets

There are five major reasons that make cats the first choice as a great pet for many, many people! When you are looking to adopt a new pet, consider your lifestyle and the characteristics of cats when going through the adoption process. Rest assured, cats make wonderful pets and can adapt to almost any situation!

1. Cats are Loving Companions

Forget what you’ve heard about cats being so independent that they don’t love their owners and don’t need attention—it is simply not true.

Cats love to be held and petted, and are very loyal. They will let you know that their lives revolve around you and many cats run to the door to greet their owners when they come home. They follow you around and sleep near you if you are busy—they may even try to sleep on the keyboard of your computer while you are trying to work and on your bed while you are sleeping!

Their independence is a wonderful characteristic for many reasons. It certainly does not prevent them from showing their love and appreciation for their owners. This marvelous characteristic of cats allows them to respond to affection to the same degree that it is offered to them.

2. Cats are Low Maintenance

Cats are not only inexpensive to adopt, but also they are much less expensive to maintain than dogs, and it requires very little work to look after them:

  • They are easily entertained, even with only an empty cardboard box, meaning you don’t need as many toys for playtime.
  • There is no long, grueling housetraining to worry about as there is with dogs. Cats can be trained to use a litter box within a couple of days or so. There will be no accidents unless kitty is ill. You don’t have to take cats out for walks in the rain, sleet, and snow, and you don’t have to get out of bed early in the morning to take them outside when they must heed the call of nature.
  • Depending on their breed and age, you don’t have to bathe a cat with water or worry too much about your pet’s cleanliness. Cats are incessant self-groomers. Even as kittens they take care of bathing all by themselves. They will still need your help to groom knots and tangles out of their fur however, as well as provide them with regular oral care.
  • You don’t have to worry or stress about a cat when you leave for work or go out in the evening. Cats are self-sufficient and there will be no worrisome whimpering or loud cries to disturb the neighbours when they are left on their own. Adult cats sleep about 15 hours a day. Your absence simply means a longer nap time for them.
  • As long as they have access to food, water, and a litter box, you can even leave your cat for a day or two if it’s really needed.

3. Cats Keep You Healthy

The companionship of a cat helps create health and happiness in your household:

  • Children who have a cat at home learn responsibility and empathy. Cats thrive in homes with children and will help them cope with unhappiness and loneliness.
  • Cats also help adults deal with stress and unhappiness. Studies show that cats notice when their owners are sad or worried, so they’ll often rub against their cat parents more aggressively and purr more loudly to comfort them when they sense their human is anxious. (Also, cats are so cute they cheer you up just by being around!)
  • Purring is considered by many people to be downright therapeutic. You can find online videos of cats purring used by people who find the soothing purrs help them fall asleep.
  • Research shows that owning a cat lowers a person’s blood pressure and reduces stress, which lessens the possibility of suffering a stroke or a heart attack by older owners and for people who are ill.

4. Cats Can Be Trained (Or Not)

Cats can be trained and have good memories. You don’t have to train cats to be quiet because they are quiet. They don’t create a loud ruckus when the doorbell rings, or when someone outside walks by the door, or when left on their own. All of these makes them ideal pets for apartment owners and for anyone living in a quiet neighbourhood.

It’s a good idea to train your cat to come when you call their name, which is especially important if you have an outdoor cat that likes to wander out of your yard and out of sight. Cats can also be trained to scratch a scratching post rather than your furniture, and to stay off of food preparation and eating areas such as counters and tables. You can train a dog to obey with a clicker and treats; you can train a cat the same way.

Make sure everyone in the household is on board with your training program and it will go much faster and more easily.

5. Many Miscellaneous Benefits

The following advantages of cat ownership may not fit into any particular category, but cat owners appreciate them:

  • Cats hate bugs and spiders as much as you do! These critter problems disappear when you bring a cat into your home (if there are too many critters to find, however, you should call an exterminator).
  • Cats usually dislike travelling, but they are easy to transport when you have to take them to the veterinarian or if you need to move to a new home. Purchase carriers for them and away you go! You can also walk a cat using a collar and leash, which is very nice if you have an indoor cat and live near a busy street or in a rural area with lots of natural cat enemies. Kitty can get some fresh air while staying safely by your side.
  • It is heartbreaking to lose a pet. That’s why it is comforting to know that cats have reasonably long life spans so you can expect them to live longer than most dogs do.
  • During the darker and colder seasons, it’s seriously wonderful to have a warm cat cuddled up on your lap or wrapped around your neck.
  • A cat will love to play with you, but not for so long that you become bored. They don’t show any disappointment when you have had enough and want to stop.

If you want a pet that is easy to care for, gentle with children, enjoys playing but sleeps a lot, and is good for your health and disposition, adopt a cat. Cats make great pets; you won’t be disappointed!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.

How to Have a Great Summer With Your Cat

As the weather gets warmer, seasonal care for cats is needed. There is a way to plan a summer of fun with your cat and ensure they are safe, healthy, and happy! To do that you will need to know the seasonal conditions worth preparing for. You can also check out activities to keep you and your kitty entertained.

If your cat is an outdoor one, it’s crucial you anticipate and prepare for the risks that exist whenever he or she goes out to play. Even if he or she is an indoor cat, there is the possibility it may decide to stop lazing about and rush outside when an unscreened door opens or when an open window invites it to find freedom.

Outside Risks

Ideally, it’s best to raise your cat as an indoor one so that the risks of being outside can be avoided altogether. However, if your cat insists on enjoying the warm weather outside and there’s little to no traffic around, prepare yourself and your cat for the call of the wild:

  • Teach it its name. Use its name often and always when you call to it for dinner. Cats can be hyper aware of the sound of dinner preparations—the noise of the can opener, the crinkle of the dry food bag, and the clatter of silverware tapped against their food bowl—so you should call his or her name whenever you go to get food so he or she connects the name with the pleasure of eating. Also, call him or her at various times and have a treat in your hand. He or she’ll catch on so when he or she is outside and hears his or her name being called, he or she’ll probably come.
  • Make sure your cat has received the vaccinations he or she needs such as rabies and de-worming preventatives so he or she can play outside without risk.
  • Equip your cat with an ID collar. If he or she has not had preventative flea treatment from his or her veterinarian, get treatment right away and then put the ID on an easily detachable collar. If he or she gets lost, anyone who finds him or her can contact you, and the collar will prevent your kitty from being caught in a dangerous situation.
  • Have an ID microchip registered with your cat’s name, your name, and your phone number embedded under the skin. This is a simple, painless procedure that your veterinarian will be happy to perform at your cat’s next checkup or if you call ahead before an appointment. Shelters and animal hospitals always scan for microchips when lost or injured cats are brought to them and they will contact you.
  • If you are travelling with your cat, don’t leave it alone in the car. Take it with you in a travel case even if it becomes awkward to carry. You probably don’t need another reminder of why you must do that, but here is another one anyway: if you leave your pet for only a minute and circumstances turn that minute into an hour, your beloved pet may be trapped in a dangerously hot car, and possible heat stroke can occur.
  • If your cat is in accident, a fight with another animal, or shows unexpected symptoms of illness or poisoning, take him or her to a cat clinic or hospital as soon as possible. Have the phone number and address handy at home, or on your phone so there will be no delay.

Make sure you know the common symptoms of problems, illnesses, or poisoning for which you need professional help. It’s a good idea to be familiar with basic first aid too such as how to keep a frightened, injured cat from biting you and how to transport an injured kitty to a cat hospital.

Remember that cats will try and conceal pain because it shows weakness to their enemies in the wilds and makes them targets for attack. This instinct is so strong that they will not show their distress to their loving owners either. Be alert. If your cat comes into the house and immediately hides, or if an indoor cat hides and won’t come when called or to eat, it may be in pain. Examine it carefully and give it whatever help it needs. 

Keep Kitty Cool Indoors and Out

Cats love warm weather but older cats and kittens are less tolerant of the heat and sun. Watch out for conditions that could cause heat stroke or dehydration for cats of any age.

  1. Water – Keep your cat’s water bowl full and check it often as he or she will need more water than usual when the weather is warm. It is a good idea to have more than one bowl of water available. Check out our blog post if you’re not sure just how much water your kitty will need.
  1. Sun – Your cat is better off inside on very hot days or during the hottest time of the day (between 10am and 3pm). Once the temperature has lowered and he or she insists on going outside as usual, make sure a water bowl goes outside with him or her, and make sure there is shade he or she can reach when he or she wants to get out of the sun. A cardboard box on its side can do the trick.
  1. Inside the House – When your cat is indoors, make sure it’s not trapped in a room that gets too hot for comfort. Cool tiled floors, open screened windows, fans and air conditioning, and closing blinds and curtains and windows during the hottest time of the day can all help keep kitty cool inside.
  1. Walks – If you take your indoor cat outside for a walk, choose the coolest time of day and stay off the hot pavement and sidewalks. Test these with the back of your hand for five seconds, and if the surface is too hot for your hand, it’s too hot for your cat.
  1. Cooling Suggestions – Try putting cold water in a hot water bottle or cool a towel in the freezer and put it on their bed so kitty can lie on it. You can also put an ice cube in his or her water bowl to give him or her something to play with while also staying cool.

Healthy Cat Checklist

  1. Pest Protection – Keep your cat safe from outdoor pests, even if he or she is an indoor cat. Fleas and other parasites can be carried indoors on footwear and clothing and if other pets are visiting. Even indoor cats can suffer from flea allergy dermatitis. Check outdoor cats carefully for ticks when you are grooming them and bring them to a vet ASAP if you find any that have latched on! Make sure your pets are protected from all parasites with regular treatments from your vet. Check out our blog post on the subject if you’re looking for prevention tips.
  1. Vaccination Schedules – As we mentioned before, it’s a good idea to keep your cat’s vaccinations up to date. Diseases don’t take a vacation and your outdoor or indoor cat needs his or her booster vaccinations for protection. Your kitty may also need booster shots for non-core vaccinations (e.g., leukemia) if it is receiving them. Don’t let vacation plans interfere with kitty’s healthcare!
  1. Cat Disease Safety for Humans – Be alert for diseases that can spread from cats to humans, especially if you have children in your house. Caution them against touching cat feces, touching cat litter (and be careful yourself!), or playing in sandboxes that are not covered. Keep your cat off of surfaces in your home where food is prepared or eaten.
  1. Hairball Problems – Cats develop hairballs more frequently in the summer months because they lick themselves in an attempt to stay cool, and when playing outside, they want to keep themselves clean. You can cut down on the hairball problem with daily brushing and combing, and feeding your cat food that is high in fiber, often called “hairball formula.”

Let’s Have Some Fun!

  1. Toys – Cats love toys that appeal to their hunter instincts such as mice, bugs, and birds. You can attach a toy to a length of string and take your cat on a merry chase. Use a laser pointer to skip along on the floor like a bug does. Expect your cat to get bored quickly and be ready with another toy to replace it. Let it catch something now and then and put a treat someplace where the toy or the laser takes it in order to keep kitty entertained. An empty box provides amusement for a long time!
  1. Training – Take time in the summer to train your cat. Work on having it come when you call, teach it to stay off of furniture (like the table where you eat), or to stop scratching couches or climbing curtains.
  1. New Experiences
  • You can take your indoor cat on walks using a leash.
  • Try to help your cat adjust to riding in the car by letting it get used to their travel carrier in the house. Put some toys or treats inside so kitty can go in and out and get used to it before taking him or her out to the car. When you take kitty out on a ride, give it a treat just before you start the engine.
  • Blow bubbles from a non-toxic solution outside in a safe area where your cat can jump, chase, and catch them.
  • Show your cat a treat and place it under a plastic cup so he or she has to figure out how to knock it over.

With some preparation, you can have a fun summer with your cat while making sure he or she stays safe, healthy, and happy, and in turn makes your summer more enjoyable, too!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Hastings Veterinary Clinic and a clickable link back to this page.