Cat Owners Confidential

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Why Do White Cats Make Poor Mothers?

Posted by Jane on June 12, 2008

Surely the color of your pet’s fur doesn’t affect her parenting skills?

Surprisingly, it does!

However, it’s not quite as straightforward as simply being the color of her fur. Many white cats are deaf and simply cannot hear the mewling of their kittens when they call to her, so she appears to be indifferent to their cries.

She really would be a good mother – if only she knew that her motherly attentions were needed.

But the story doesn’t end there. As fascinating as it is to discover that white cats are frequently deaf – it is only the blue-eyed white cats that are afflicted. Orange-eyed white cats don’t seem to suffer in the same way.

Even more spooky, cats who are born with one blue eye and one orange eye are deaf in the ear on the blue eye side – the other ear hears perfectly!

The defect is genetic. Shortly after birth, the cochlea in the ear starts to fail and this deterioration cannot be halted or reversed. This failing can be passed on to any kittens she may have so it’s probably best not to breed from a deaf cat.

If you are wondering if your white cat is deaf – try rustling some paper behind her and out of her sight to see if she reacts. Banging, clapping or stamping won’t be useful as a test as deaf cats are expert at detecting vibration in the air and will react to that, rather than the noise.

Could You Run a Boarding Cattery?

Posted by Jane on June 11, 2008

Ever fancied making money out of your hobby? Or better still, out of something that you already willingly do every day?

As a cat owner, you have practically all the skills you need to run a boarding cattery and potentially have a second income – all without leaving your own home!

Many people extend their love of cats to looking after other people’s pets whilst they are away from home.  Thousands of neighbours think nothing of caring for a friend’s cat during the holiday period but few consider making it into a business.

There are three business models – build a small number of boarding ‘chalets’ in your own back garden,  purchase an existing boarding establishment or offer a home visiting service , caring for pets in their own homes.

Below is an extract from this week’s Cat Owners Confidential newsletter on this very subject. Read through it and leave a comment letting me know whether it’s the sort of thing you’d like to do yourself and if you don’t already receive your copy of the newsletter, sign up in the box provided – you’ll be glad you did!

 …….

So, what would you need to run your own boarding cattery business? Well, firstly, you would need to think long and hard about how it would fit into your life – or rather, how your life would fit around your business! Look at your daily routine with your own cat.  

  • Morning feed – the earlier the better, as far as your cat is concerned!
  • Cleaning the litter box, if you have one.
  • Administering any medication, if necessary.
  • Play.
  • Taking the day off – your cat, that is, not you!

 Nothing much happens then until you come home from work and start the evening’s round of cat-care. 

  • Evening feed.
  • Clean the litter box.
  • Administer medication, I necessary.
  • Play.

 Nothing too taxing there, you might think. But with a boarding cattery you will need to multiply all that by 10, 20, 30 or even 50!  It’s quite a time commitment, isn’t it? Factor in need to answer the telephone taking bookings and enquiries. You’ll need an office – or at least permanent space in your home for your paperwork, phone and computer. You will need to work out a system for receiving cats when they are being booked in and collected. Will you deal with incoming and outgoing clients whenever you are available, or at specified times each day? How about weekends? Most of your clients will need to bring their pets to you when they are not at work and that means that you will need to be available when it suits your clients – not you! Of course, if you have staff, all these inconveniences can be covered by them but staff means that you need to be making the sort of profit that will enable you to pay them.  As I told you last week, once the owner loses the personal touch, the cats sometimes aren’t cared for as well as you would like them to be cared for……. All the above points need to be carefully thought about even before getting out of your chair to search for a suitable property, or plan to build a cattery in your own back garden. But before all that, there is one burning question that I am sure you would like answered –  How Much Money Can I Make From Running a Boarding Cattery? Well, as a rule of thumb, here in the UK you can realistically expect to produce around £1000 ($2000) per year, per chalet.  So, if you have a total of 25 chalets in your cattery, (which would be a small to medium sized establishment),  you can expect to produce an income of around £25000 ($50000) per annum.  Not bad for a job that you are already skilled for and that doesn’t require you to join the daily commute from home to some concrete jungle. And often, running a cattery is a secondary income for a household. Not bad for doing something you already do, just on a grander scale, don’t you think?

Boarding Catteries – A Necessary Evil?

Posted by Jane on June 2, 2008

You’ve booked your holiday of a lifetime, chosen your new beachwear and laid in ample supplies of suntan lotion – but what about your cat? What arrangements will you make for his care whilst you are away? Many people have good friends or neighbors who will pop in twice a day and feed your pet but many owners don’t have this luxury. Their only option is to book their cat into a cattery.  And here’s the problem. Many business owners care more for their balance sheet than for the cats in their care and often poor regulation means that operating procedures are badly thought through. A lack of understanding of proper cat care inevitably results in unhappy and unhealthy conditions. No loving owner wants that for their pet!   So what should you look for when choosing a boarding cattery for your lovely cat?  Here are my top five recommendations: 

  1. An Owner-run establishment. Not just a name on a letterhead but real hands-on involvement. If the owner is willing to put in the work, they obviously get pleasure from building up a relationship with each individual animal – cuddles included!
  2. High-quality, suitable and clean accommodation. Each chalet should have an indoor area with clean, separate bedding for each cat. There should be a heat source for cold periods – after all, what cat doesn’t appreciate a bit of warmth to snooze in?  There should be access to an enclosed run and there should be ‘sneeze barriers’ to prevent the spread of any infection to other cats. THERE SHOULD BE NO POSSIBILITY OF DIRECT CONTACT WITH CATS IN ADJOINING CHALETS AT ALL!
  3. Access to clean water at all times and regular food of a type that your cat enjoys. All this should be noted as a matter of routine at the time of booking. Also, litter trays should be placed away from feeding bowls and cleaned twice a day.
  4. A willingness to administer any necessary medication by the owner/staff who are competent to do so.
  5. And finally, a happy and open attitude from the owner or staff. This doesn’t really form part of ‘How To Run a Cattery’, of course but if the people you come into contact with are chatty and open, then you can all but guarantee that they will care for your cat willingly and well during your absence.

If you can cover all these points, your cat should have a happy stay and be returned to you as healthy as when they went into the cattery. You will have enjoyed your break secure in the knowledge that your pet is being well cared for and loved and will be pleased to see you on your return. Post a comment about your experiences of boarding catteries – good or bad – so that other owners will know what to look out for in the future

Is Your Cat a Happy Cat?

Posted by Jane on May 20, 2008

Can we really know whether our cats are happy? Are there any signs we can look for to reassure ourselves that we are doing our best for our pets? I’ve been doing some research and I’ve come up with what I think are the Top Ten Ways to Make Your Cat  Happy. 

  1. Feed your cat at a distance from other cats in your household. By having feeding bowls too close to other cats causes stress whilst eating and you may often see one cat take a swipe at another. Cats can certainly be fed at the same time, in the same place but just far enough away to be able to observe each other comfortably.
  2. Position your cat’s scratching post in a permanent place so that he can return to the same spot to manicure his claws and simultaneously mark it with scent from the glands in his paws. This will help him feel secure and happy.
  3. Keep your cat’s routine regular. He will be much happier if he knows what is expected of him and just when things will happen. Feeding, grooming, toileting and indoor or outdoor access will all be managed much more easily if they form a regular and reliable part of your cat’s day.
  4. Provide some mental stimulation for your cat. You may think that lazing around all day, sleeping whenever you wish is highly desirable but even cats can get bored. Try hiding a few tasty treats around the house or a toy or two. If your cat enjoys catnip, try rubbing some into their playthings – it’ll turbo charge their playtime!
  5. Always keep an eye on your cat’s behavior. No, not to make sure that he’s not up to mischief but to make sure that you spot any unusual changes. Cats are very bad at communicating distress – emotional or physical – and it is up to us to spot the clues that all is not well in our cat’s world. If you have any concerns, always seek help before small problems turn into big ones. A healthy cat is a happy cat.
  6. Learn to interact with your cat on his level. Take some time to understand what motivates him and you will avoid causing him unhappiness by your lack of thought. For instance, don’t scold him when he catches a mouse and presents it to you – he’s showing his love and respect for you and won’t understand why you yell at him. Would you be happy if you brought your best friend a gift and they shouted angrily at you?
  7. Spend enough time with your cat to boost his happiness levels sky high! He is a living being who feels all the basic emotions that you do and needs the warmth of your love and companionship – particularly if he is an only cat.
  8. If your cat needs to be away from home, in a boarding cattery or a stay at the vet’s for example, make sure that he has a familiar blanket and toy with him. We all feel distressed when we are out of our normal environment, how much more then, will your cat? Having his ‘comfort’ smells around him will help calm him a little.
  9. Be aware that your cat needs to have his territory and work with him in maintaining it. Moving furniture around, introducing new things (or people!) into your cat’s world, decorating, having tradesmen in to do jobs, bringing home a new kitten – all these things will unsettle your cat. Try to make the changes as easy on him as possible, with disruption kept to a minimum.
  10. And finally, what’s the single most important thing you can do to make your cat happy? Just love him!

 

Why does a cat roll onto its back for you?

Posted by Jane on May 11, 2008

Does your cat do this for you? When you enter a room where your cat is lying asleep, you may see them roll onto their back, stretch out their legs right down to their toes, yawn, utter a small vocal greeting and then stare intently at you – upside down!

Minnie does. But when I take up the obvious invitation to stroke her tummy, her stare turns into a glare, she utters a very disgruntled protest and flips over as fast as she can. No amount of coaxing and cooing will persuade her to return for a bit of affectionate ear scratching. 

A cat’s soft belly is the most vulnerable part of their body and by exposing it to you they are sending a very strong signal of trust.

However, you may see a slight twitching of the tail, even while their belly is exposed. This indicates that your cat is experiencing a fairly strong conflicting emotion – to stay exposed and trusting, or to go with their instinct and protect their vulnerable underside?

Because of this conflict, the act of touching their tummy as you go to stroke it proves too much and instinct drives your cat to flip over – like Minnie – or to lash out and swipe at your hand!

So as you mop up the blood from multiple scratches don’t scold your cat – praise them for the trust they place in you! Spite and malice played no part in their attack – it is simply the irresistible power of their instinct driving them to protect them in their vulnerability.

Does Your Vet Have Your Cat’s Best Interests at Heart?

Posted by Jane on April 30, 2008

For the first time in her life, Minnie had to have a dental clean-up at the vet’s this week. This, of course, involved a genreal anaesthetic and we were warned that she may have to have an extraction or two if her teeth were too badly affected by the build up of tartar.

 Fair enough.  Quite a few of our cats have had teeth extracted over the years. But what isn’t fair is the charges different vets make for the same procedure.

Our regular vet quoted  $600 (£300)  to carry out the dental work but recommended that Minnie should have a heart ultrasound scan beforehand – both for her and their protection they said - as the vet had detected a small heart murmur. The additional cost for that would be $400 (£200).  In total, we would be looking at a massive $1000 bill for a dental clean and tooth extraction. Wow!

I complained long and loud to all my cat-owning friends and it’s a jolly good thing I did, too. One of my long-suffering chums told me about her vet who seemed to be considerably cheaper. One phone call later, I had managed to ‘save’ myself $700 on the deal as this new vet only charged $300 for the same procedure.

Editor’s Note: For those of you who read the Cat Owners Confidential Newsletter, you’ll notice a small discrepency in     the  sums quoted there and in this blog – well, I did warn you that my maths could be described as ‘freestyle’ ! I actually saved myself more than I thought……

Minnie had her operation successfully, no teeth required extraction and she certainly hadn’t required an ultrasound scan of her heart beforehand. Apart from Charm hissing at her every time she caught a whiff of lingering ‘vet smell’, everything has been fine.

 But the whole issue of fees has left a very nasty taste in my mouth. I feel ripped off by a vet who has had our regular business for some considerable time and on whose expert guidence pet owners rely. Is it fair to exploit the love and care pet owners have for their animals at a time when they are open to following any advice and recommendations their vet gives them? What pet owner would not want to do the very best they could for their sick animal? And how many times would an owner turn to their vet and ask, ‘what would you do in my situation?’ – and then follow their advice to the letter?

You might guess that I am not going back to my old vet and, in spite of a considerably longer journey to get to the new one, I shall be taking my business there when ever my two lovely cats need medical care. 

Do you have any tales to tell of vet’s putting their financial interests before the health interests of your cat? Are you happy with your vet’s fees? Have you got insurance to cover your financial costs?

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment. 

Shocking ‘Stop Your Cat Spraying’ Secret Revealed!

Posted by Jane on April 15, 2008

One of the biggest problems cat owners face is the rather unpleasant one of their beloved cat spraying in their own home. And one of the biggest lies owners will fall for is from the sellers of all those commercial products that promise to remove the odor and stop your cat spraying forever. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on odor and stain removal products each year and the sad fact is, most of it is a complete waste of time and money. Even worse than that – many of the commercial products available actually make the problem worse!  But all those ‘experts’ don’t mind at all – after all, it’s not in their interest to solve your problem is it? They would rather be selling you more and more of their product each time your cat re-offends! You may think that the unpleasant smell of your cat’s spray has been eliminated but in reality, many products compel – yes, actually compel, your cat to continue to spray his scent around your home and often with increased frequency. So, if the commercial stuff doesn’t solve the problem, what can you do to reclaim your home? Unfortunately, many owners become so frustrated with their inability to stop this anti social behavior, that they take the drastic step of abandoning their pets to fend for themselves or worse, euthanize them. 

And, as a cat lover, this is what makes me so MAD.

 The real and only way,as far as I am concerned, to stop your cat spraying in your home is to fully understand what made them start in the first place and address that trigger. Cats spray to mark their territory – period. They don’t spray to empty their bladder (they are far too fastidious to do that!), they use spraying as a means of communication their ownership of a certain area and if they are spraying indoors, that is the area they are claiming ownership to. The scent that we owners object to so strongly, carries complex messages to other cat noses – primarily ‘Keep Out! This is Mine!’ If other cats enter a territory, they can deposit smelly messages in reply to the territory owner’s message. This might just be saying,  ‘Hi, I’m just passing through – hey, nice place you’ve got here…’ or it might be, ‘Watch your back, punk, I’m going to beat you to a pulp when I see you and claim your kingdom for my own!’ If your cat receives a challenge along the lines of the one above, he’s going to be pretty unhappy about the situation and it is this upset emotional state that is the root trigger for his spraying indoors. What your cat is doing is retreating to his ‘core’ territory – the absolute center of his world and the part that he feels compelled to protect at all costs. So, he marks his core territory with the strongest message he can manage, in the hope that this alone will be enough to repel any challenge for ownership.  Also, a secondary effect of surrounding himself with his own scent is that he will feel reassured and comforted by that familiar smell – just like you or me having a favorite blanket to wrap ourselves in when we feel ill or upset. So, to remove the reason for your cat spraying in your home, you have to turn detective and find out whay had upset his emotional balance. Once you’ve done that and taken steps to remove the cause of the upset, you then need to remove all traces of your cat’s own scent from his core territory.Why? Well, even though it’s your cat’s own scent, if he detects that his message is fading, his instinct motivates him to replenish the weakening odor by laying down fresh scent. And this is why commercial products don’t work – in fact they make the situation worse. Most products simply cover up your cat’s odor by masking it with a more pleasant, stronger scent  – to us, that is. Your cat’s sense of smell is far better than ours, so he just thinks that a new, bigger animal has come along to leave a new scent marker. So what is your cat’s response to all this? More spraying and a more fragile emotional state as he is now firm in his belief that he has yet another, strangly scented challenger to deal with!

 For much more detailed information, including an effective cleaning solution that you can make yourself for pennies, take a look at the Special Report in the Cat Owners Confidential Products Category.

And when you discover the depths of ‘Stop Your Cat Spraying’ lie, you’ll be mad too.

How To Keep Your Cat Happy When He’s Home Alone.

Posted by Jane on April 14, 2008

Many of us work full time.  And who doesn’t, when life is getting so expensive?

However, the result is that there are hundreds of thousands of solitary pet cats who find themselves left Home Alone between the hours of 8am and 6pm.

 Now I know that most cats sleep for a large chunk of the day – but what happens where they wake and don’t find you there? As owners, we need to be as aware of our pet’s mental health as we are of their physical well-being and a bored cat can quickly develop behavioral problems. Problems such as scratching and chewing your prized possessions and furniture, overturning bins in a search for something tasty to eat, soiling outside their litter tray or even in extreme cases, self-harming by pulling their fur out in clumps or by grooming excessively to the point of soreness and infection.

 So here are a few tips for making sure that your pampered pet remains happy:

  • An acceptable scratching post – one that your cat will actually be happy using!
  • Food – use an automatic feeder, leave dried food available or ‘hide’ titbits around the house for him to discover.
  • Buy an activity center or a cat tree. Again, hide treats inside from time to time to keep him interested.
  • Be imaginative in the toys you buy him. Bouncy ones, dangly ones, ones with noises, furry, feathery, rolling ones.

And once you return home, remember that your cat will be pleased to see you and not just for your can-opening skills – so be sure to make a fuss of him.  Spend quality time together watching your favorite TV show.

 After all, there’s really nothing better than settling down to relax with your warm, furry and loving companion, is there?

Is Your Cat Treading on Her Bedding? Get Ready For Kittens!

Posted by Jane on April 13, 2008

So your extremely round cat has been lying around the house for the past two weeks, eating enough food to keep a small donkey alive and generally looking very, very pregnant. For some time now, you’ve been able to see her kittens moving about in her belly quite clearly and you think that you have a fairly good idea of when she is due to give birth.

But if there was just one sign to alert you to the start of her labor, what would it be? For most of us, it would have to be something pretty unmistakable – few of us owners have the experience of overseeing the birth of several litters of kittens..

All the experts will give you a long list of ‘possibles’ to choose from. You can find them all in ‘Hey Mom! Fat Fred’s Having Kittens!’ :)

For example, your cat will start calling to you and your first reaction will probably be that she asking for more food. I know that my two cats take the opportunity to hassle me for sustenence every time they hear me in the kitchen!

But with your pregnant cat,  you’ll find that she has no interest in the tasty morsels that you put down for her.

Don’t be puzzled by her apparantly unusual behavior. Bide your time and wait for just a short while longer until you see her seek out her chosen birthing place – her nesting box.

Of course, as a well-prepared owner, you have already constructed a suitable nesting box, haven’t you?  If not, you may have to give up your bed for awhile, if your cat has decided that this is where she will be giving birth!

But wherever your cat has chosen to have her kittens, she will make a bee-line for it and begin to ‘tread’ on her bedding. Once you witness this behavior, you can be 100% certain that her kittens are on their way.

I can just about guarantee that any owner, however inexperienced, will certainly recognise this unmistakable behavior as looks like a cross between digging in her litter box and the kneading action you see when she is relaxed and purring.

Why does a cat do it? Well, even  the experts don’t really know why cats tread their bedding immediately prior to the onset of their labor. But if you ask me, it’s probably no more complicated than a desire to arrange their immediate environment to their liking.

After all, your cat will be putting in a lot of hard work over the coming few hours and it’s just common sense that she will want to make herself as comfortable as possible!

Whatever the reason, treading on her bedding is a major sign that your cat’s labor is about to begin and it’s one that you simply miss.

She’s telling you ready – are you?

Cat Birth

Posted by Jane on April 11, 2008

Cat birth can occur at any time after 58 days gestation. Before that, kittens are unlikly to be born alive and your vet will class the birth as a miscarriage. However, cat birth is generally a straightforward and trouble-free process as long as you are aware of what is considered a normal course of events and remain alert to any problems that may arise.

Should you be anxious about any aspect of your cat’s birth, it is always advisable to consult your vet.

The first stage of any cat birth can last as long as six hours and contractions will be building up during this time. Your cat will instinctively go to her chosen place of birth, panting and purring. Her rapid breathing might give you the impression that she is stressed but after a closer look you’ll see that she’s not in any distress.

During this stage of cat birth You will also see a clear, vaginal discharge which may become bloodier as the second stage of cat birth approaches.

The second stage is much shorter than the first and a normal cat birth should not last more than 90 minutes for the emergence of each kitten. In fact, this stage of cat birth can be over in as little as 10 minutes! Your cat will be ‘bearing down’ as she strives to give birth to her kitten. She will be licking her vulva and her contractions will be coming closer together. You will see the sac surrounding the kitten emerge and grow in size and finally her kitten will be pushed out.

Following the birth of her kitten, the third stage of cat birth is the expulsion of the placenta. Your cat will bite off the umbilical cord, lick her newborn kitten to stimulate breathing and may eat the placenta. All this is quite normal and should not be cause for concern.

The birth of each kitten follows these three stages of cat birth but don’t be surprised at the length of time between the birth of each. A period of between five minutes and two hours is considered to be normal and a female cat can even suspend the delivery of some of her kittens for up to 24 hours before re-starting the stages of cat birth.

Should you suspect that this is the case, if your mother cat is alert, relaxed and nursing her new kittens without problems there should be no cause for concern. If, however, she seems disinterested and fatigued, call your vet immediately as he will need to intervene to save the remaining kittens and their mother.

Cat birth is a truly wonderful event! As long as you are fully prepared and know what to expect, there is no reason why your cat shouldn’t give birth to a beautiful litter of healthy kittens easily, swiftly and successfully.