If you have decided that a cat is the right pet for you, then you may think that the decision-making process is complete, but in fact, you are still at the very beginning. Cats, like humans, are all very different and selecting one to suit your needs and lifestyle is vitally important as it will require the commitment of your love, care, and attention for upwards of 10 years. Here is our guide to helping you pick your perfect cat.
Many people instinctively choose kittens over adult cats, and this is largely due to their childlike cuteness, curiosity, and playful behavior. However, they may not realize that they need a great deal of supervision, patience, attention, and training. Leave unsupervised kittens in your sitting room for any period of time and you could be faced with a surprising level of destruction! It is also difficult to know exactly what personality they may develop once they outgrow their kitten traits. She may become a docile companion, or she may continue to be a mischievous and energetic ball of fur.
It is also important to remember that if you are bringing a kitten into a home with very young children, you will need to provide an added amount of supervision. This is because your child may be exhibiting the same curiosity and mischievous behavior as your kittens and will be unlikely to give them the gentle touch that they require.
By comparison, older cats may have outgrown some of that initial cuteness, but the typical behaviors that they exhibit after around the age of one will be a reliable indicator of their regular temperament.
Responsible pet owners always make sure that their pets are well groomed, and in the case of longer hair animals this can prove to be a considerable commitment. Long fur will need to be brushed at least once per day to prevent matting and so if you opt for a long haired, cat then you will need to ensure that you have sufficient time to dedicate to daily grooming.
Not all cats like bring groomed and if your cat doesn’t then you may have to enlist the services of a professional groomer. However, if your cat is one that loves to be pampered then she will come running as soon as she sees her brush!
While pure breed cats tend to conform to what is known as a ‘breed standard,’ meaning that you can predict their expected physical and behavioral characteristics based on breed type, each animal is still unique. Many people believe that purchasing a pure breed will not only guarantee its temperament, but will also ensure it has good health, but sadly this is not the case. Many pure breed animals suffer from genetic health problems due to inter-breeding.
It is also possible to estimate the physical and behavioral traits of mixed breed cats based on the combination of breeds used to create it. For example, combining two short-haired, highly active breeds will be extremely likely to produce another short-haired highly active cat.
As we have said, whether pure or mixed breed, each cat is unique and will require handling to suit their personality. Some are sedentary, some are active, some love to be stroked and handled, and others will only come to you for petting when it suits them. If you are looking for a companion cat, then you would ideally be looking for a sedentary and tactile cat, whereas if you are looking for a cat to play with children, then you should aim for an active breed.
Letting children, especially young children, and pets, especially new ones, play can be a little nerve wracking. The foremost worry is for the safety of the children, of course — it's more likely that an animal would physically hurt a child than the other way around. Unfortunately, kids can hurt pets too, and what's more, they can antagonize a pet to the point the animal will act out.
This is mostly due to two factors. First, children are still growing, learning, and testing boundaries, coupled with still learning how to verbalize their thoughts and needs. Second, pets can't verbalize at all, making it more difficult for them to communicate when they don't like something, want certain behaviors to stop, or are hurting. As a parent, you need to step in and fill this fundamental gap and help them understand each other.
Keep in mind that some animals simply aren't comfortable around children, and that's okay. When adopting a new pet, especially if it's older, make sure to talk to the shelter or rescue organization staff to make sure the animal is safe to live with kids. Similarly, if you already have kids and kid-friendly pets but are ready to adopt a new pet, make sure to ask if the animal is also comfortable with other animals. Bringing a pet into a home where it's uncomfortable will only make them more and more stressed, and thus more likely to hurt someone.
One of the most important parts of responsible equine ownership is caring for their teeth and ensuring they are strong, clean and healthy. This is because oral health can have a significant impact on the overall wellbeing of your animal. Left untreated, dental problems can cause problems with the function of the nervous system, muscular balance, cardiovascular health, imbalance of chemicals in the body, digestive system and the structural stability of the head, neck, and tongue. Most equine dental problems begin as mild and treatable occurrences. However, they can rapidly increase in severity if left untreated. Regular check-ups by an experienced and qualified equine dentist are vital.
One of the reasons that regularly scheduled check-ups are important is because many horses don’t display any clear symptoms of dental issues until they develop into major problems or begin to cause them pain. However, many responsible equine owners can tell when their horse isn’t feeling quite right. If they are unable to establish what is wrong, then there is a good chance that dental problems may be to blame.
Some of the signs and symptoms of equine dental problems that you can look out for include:
Tilting the head when not eating
Head tossing or shaking
Stiffness on one side
Napping, bucking or rearing
Unexplained weight loss
Grass packing in cheeks
Slow to eat or dips feed or hay in drinking water
Nervousness or a dislike of being handled
In some cases, behavior changes can also be a sign of dental problems. These could be mouthing or chewing the bit, unexplained subtle lameness, resisting bridling or even rearing or bolting.
Cats are known for being notoriously fussy creatures. They demand attention when it suits them, but reject snuggling with their owner when it doesn’t. They are picky eaters, can appear aloof and indifferent to their owners and seem pretty happy to go it alone most of the time.
This fussy attitude often even extends to their sleeping habits, and many owners have gone out and spent a considerable amount of their hard-earned cash to provide a large, plush and expensive cat bed, only to find that their pampered pussy refuses to sleep in it. But is she just being fussy, or is there an ulterior motive for this behaviour?
According to animal behaviour experts, most cats prefer to sleep and hang out in places with good vantage points. It comes from their instinct to protect their themselves, and a high position for sleeping or resting gives them an aerial advantage for spotting any potential dangers around them. Much of this instinct comes from their ancestry. Early cats were hunters that lived in the wild, and their climbing ability meant that they had somewhere to retreat to away from larger predators, plus the capability of attacking smaller prey high up in the branches. Therefore, climbing and being up high was natural, and this has been passed down to the cats that we keep as pets today.
Chewing is a natural part of life for any dog. It helps to keep their teeth healthy, and is a way for them to play and explore. Some dogs also chew when they are particularly anxious or lonely. However natural it is, there is no escaping the frustration that accompanies returning home from work to find your favourite slippers, remote control or some other household object chewed beyond all recognition. Some breeds of dogs are more aggressive than others when it comes to getting their teeth into things, and even specially designed chew toys can be turned to rubber mulch in just a few days. To save you from spending heaps on toys that just won’t stand up to your dog’s teeth, we have put together this list of the best virtually indestructible dog toys for aggressive chewers.
This ultra-durable ball has a tug-o-war rope at each end too, making an extremely versatile play as well as chew toy. Its clever design means that the
ball floats even when it has a puncture, so is perfect for water-based fun.
The Romp-n-Roll ball is available in three sizes based on the weight of your dog and ranging from 4.5” to 8” diameter, there is really is one for every
chewing champion out there.
Check out their website to find your nearest local stockist.
The Goughnut ring is an extremely strong rubber chew toy that was designed with safety in mind by means of a ‘chew toy safety indicator’. The concept behind the Goughnut is that when your dog chews through to the inner red layer, the toy should be and will be replaced under the Goughnuts guarantee.
There are three sizes of ring available, starting at 3.75 inches and going up to 6.25 inches’ diameter. There are no weak points and despite its durability, it even floats!
Find out more about the Goughnut by visiting their website.
A healthy and balanced diet is essential for a healthy and happy pet. Not only will it provide your pet with enough energy for his day to day activities, but it is also vital for proper brain function. An adequate diet is also particularly important for animals in the early stages of their development.
One of the most important things to remember when it comes to feeding your pet is to feed them by ‘life-stage’. Different animals, and in particular cats and dogs, require different nutrition at different stages of their life. For example, puppies around 12 weeks of age will require around 3 meals a day and it is not until they reach around 6 months of age that this amount should be reduced. That said, your animal may prefer smaller and more frequent meals. They key to feeding your pet properly is understanding what works best for them.
A popular method of feeding is known as ‘free-feeding’. This is where a bowl of food is left out so that a pet can eat as much or as little and as frequently as they prefer. This works best for dry foods since they do not spoil as quickly as the wet variety. Some studies show that this method results in over-eating and subsequent pet obesity. However it may be the best option for you if you cannot stick to a feeding schedule.
Scheduled portioned feeding requires a strict routine that you need to be able to guarantee to stick to. Your pet will know when meal times are and ensure that they are ready for them, with cats coming indoors specifically at these times. This method limits the amount that your pet eats either by portion size or by time as some pet owners prefer to give their animals a specific time frame in which they must eat. This method also works well if you have pets that require medication to be mixed with their food, or have an animal on a calorie-controlled diet.
If you are unsure which method is right for your pet, consult with your veterinarian who will be more than happy to provide advice.
Do NOT offer home cooked meals. These may not meet the complex nutritional needs of your pet. Instead stick to especially formulated pet foods.
Once your pet has settled into your home it is a good idea to think about training. Training your pet can help ensure that the behaviors that they exhibit are primarily desirable ones. Dogs in particular like to please their owners and doing so will help retain a lifelong bond between you.
Whilst dogs have earned a reputation as ‘man’s best friend’ thanks to their loyal and affectionate nature, just like their human counterparts they can sometimes possess annoying habits or personality traits that make them difficult to live with.
Training your dog will be hugely beneficial to your dog learning to live harmoniously alongside his human family. It will strengthen the bond between you and ensure his safety when out and about. Many dogs also find training to be a fun activity.
What is the best method to train my dog?
There are many different schools of thought as to how best to train a dog. Some owners prefer strict training with punishments for non-compliance, whilst others prefer to praise positive behavior and ignore undesirable reactions. Studies have shown that as a general rule the latter method works best, but however you decide to train your dog, in order to do so effectively you need to consistently control the consequences of your dogs’ behavior.
Dogs cannot relate events that are separated by time and so the consequences to behavior need to be immediate. You cannot praise your dog several minutes after returning to you when called as he will not understand why he is receiving it. The easiest way to train a dog is to reward the behaviors that you like and not reward those that you don’t.
If your dog likes the consequence you give them they will be more likely to repeat that behavior so they get the consequence again i.e. love, attention and praise.
If they dislike the consequences then they will do the behavior less often.
It really is that simple, but being consistent is vital otherwise you will send mixed messages to your pet. For example, if you do not want your pet to jump up at you (which they do to get your attention) then ignore them until they calm down. Praise and make a fuss of them as soon as they have returned to calm behavior. They will then learn that this is the way that you prefer them to behave. It may take several days or weeks of doing this, but your dog will soon learn the correct behavior to exhibit.
Regular vaccinations and examinations will help keep your pet healthy and happy. Your veterinarian will be able to advise you of the frequency that your pet should be examined, but most recommend either annual or six-monthly visits. This is because pets age an average of 7 times faster than humans and so by the time they reach 6/7 years old they are considered middle-aged. Larger breeds of dogs are often considered to be seniors by the time they reach 8.
Typical components of a wellness examination include:
Checking the central nervous center
Checking and cleaning the ears, treating if required
Checking joints and mobility
Checking skin and condition of coat
Checking urinary and reproductive systems
Listen to the heart
Listen to the lungs
Observation of alertness and response
Palpate the abdomen checking for painful areas and/or growths or tumors
Physical examination of the rest of the body for unusual lumps
Other tests that your pet may be given include:
Heartworm testing (otherwise known as blood parasite screening)
Fecal testing. This allows the veterinarian to check for the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.
Blood work. Blood tests screen for infection or disease that may not otherwise be detected through a physical examination. Blood work also allows a veterinarian a comprehensive assessment of your pets’ health.
Sadly thousands of pets every year suffer from the accidental ingestion of harmful substances, many of them household poisons. Poisoning can cause extreme health problems and even death, but these can be prevented by understanding which common household toxins may harm your pet and how to poison-proof your home. This guide will also explain some of the symptoms you should look out for and what you should do if you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance.
We have taken information from the Pet Poison Helpline website to bring you information on some of the most common for cats and dogs. Please be aware that these lists are in no specific order and the toxicity levels for these poisons are variable.
Top Ten most commonly reported cat poisons:
1. Topical spot-on insecticides
2. Household cleaners
5. Insoluble oxalate plants
6. Human and veterinary NSAIDS
7. Cold and flu medication (e.g. Tylenol)
8. Glow sticks
9. ADHD/ADD medications and amphetamines
10. Mouse and rat poison
Top Ten most commonly reported dog poisons:
Plants that are poisonous to pets Although there are thousands of species of plants, there are a few that are highly toxic to pets. This list represents some of the most poisonous plants to pets.
Also known as CPV, Canine Parvovirus is a highly contagious viral illness that can be debilitating and even fatal. It has two main forms, the more common intestinal variety and the less common cardiac variety. Puppies aged between 6 weeks and 6 months old are most commonly affected, but early vaccinations can significantly reduce the risk of contracting CPV.
CPV is resistant to the majority of cleaning products and household bleach is the only known way to eradicate it.
The CPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with an infected animal, or indirectly through contact with the stools of an infected dog which contain a heavy concentration of the virus. This contact can include inhalation as well as touch. The virus can also live in the ground for up to a year where it can be brought into contact with a dog by way of shoes.
Certain breeds of dog are more susceptible to CPV. These are: Alaskan Sled Dogs, Dobermans Pinschers, English Springer Spaniels, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Pitbulls and Rottweilers. Dogs that take immunosuppressant medication or have not had adequate vaccinations are also more likely to contract CPV.
As with most contagious diseases, animal shelters and kennels are much more likely to be contaminated.
The intestinal variety of CPV affects an animals’ ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This means that an infected dog will rapidly become dehydrated and weak.
The primary symptoms of intestinal CPV include but are not limited to:
Anorexia / severe weight loss
Pain, particularly if the abdomen is touched
Wet tissue of eyes and mouth becomes red and inflamed
In rare cases of CPV a dog may exhibit symptoms consistent with hypothermia rather than a high fever. Cardiac CPV is extremely rare and usually only seen in very young puppies where it attacks their heart muscles. Cardiac CPV almost always results in death.