Looking After Cats

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From overweight pampered felines, raising kittens and feeding fussy eaters, our cat factsheets are here to help.

Talullah walks on the wild side

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Some cats just aren’t meant to be indoors.  This is Talullah who came in to us as a stray and we soon found out why!   She was stressed by life inside and was very difficult to handle.  Even in a house-sized environment she was tempoeramental – watch those claws!   There was no chance of re-homing her and all we want is for her to be happy.  Would a life with complete freedom be the answer?  We gave Tallulah enough time to get used to us and to her surroundings and then opened the door.  We are quite safe and away from traffic so there was no chance of her getting knocked down.  She could come back for a feed or go into the barn, where there is always a supply of biscuits, whenever she liked.

The wide open spaces beckoned and she was off straight away – would she come back though?  The first couple of days were tense and we didn’t see anything of her.  Yesterday she turned up, purring and happy – a diferent cat in fact.  She wanted a fuss (instead of to attack!) and enjoyed a meal and followed us round while we checked the horses.   She looks very well and full of life and energy, Tallulah is a natural hunter and there are plenty of small rodents to keep her busy.  She went round the fields with us and came back to the barn, a snack on some biscuits and she was off again.   Some cats are pets and like to be indoor cats, others can’t bear to be kept confined – Tallulah, the wild hunter, is one of those.

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Enjoying her dinner al fresco!

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Maybe she is a proper wild cat – she does look like one!

Pets who comfort eat

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Dogs and cats don’t need to eat as much when the weather is warmer.  They’ll usually go on munching away and loving their food even though it’s comfort eating, ;they are not hungry any more and its much more than they need.  Just like us humans, pets who overeat are prone to health problems – heart conditions, diabetes and joint pains. The amount of energy they use to keep their bodies warm in summer is less so their nutritional needs are too.

Research done recently at Liverpool University has proved that cats and dogs need more food in cold weather (well, that’s common sense isn’t it?).  It’s just as necessary to adjust their food when it’s hot.  We don’t use set amounts as every dog and cat is different.  Feeding by condition is best.  A dog’s skin should be glossy and supply, their bones well covered but without any overlying fat.

Cat’s soon develop a fat tummy so cutting back their rations and encouraging more exercise, perhaps through play, is helpful.  It’s easy to give a dog more walks but with cats you have to be a bit more subtle.  Try putting small amounts of food in different locations, a few biscuits in a dish upstairs or outside or on a high shelf is good.  Our cats like to climb on roof spars and the top of pens etc.   If you want to know where they are just look upwards – you’ll see cheshire cat faces looking down at you!   It’s a pity when cats don’t have the chance to do this – in most homes they wouldn’t be allowed to do this because the ornaments would be knocked down.  Isn’t it odd how cats tip over the best china and rarely break  a chipped saucer?

We’ve seen specially adapted houses where cat is priority and they have shelves nearly at ceiling height and branch climbing frames running up the walls.  Cat’s love them!  If you cat goes outside he’ll find lots of climbing, up trees and over walls and fences, and will exercise quite naturally.  As they eat a bit less they will get fitter and more adventurous – that’s the theory anyway!

Don’t forget, it’s just as important to increase the rations when winter comes, it;’s quite disturbing to note how many really hungry and thin dogs we see, even though they are in a ‘good’ home situation.   It’s all down to following instructions on bags maybe – instead of looking at the dog’s size, metabolism and condition?

Happy Birthday Mischa

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It’s Mischa’s birthday, she’s 15 years old today and still as beautiful as ever.   She is actually a bit older because we count birthdays according to when cats come in.  Mischa was found in a salt box at the side of the road with four kittens.  She was a devoted mother and we kept one of her kittens with her (re-homed the rest) to keep her company.  Mischa and her daughter Myrtle are still best friends and both have a loving nature.  Visitors to the sanctuary will be used to seeing Mischa who is always around Reception and on ‘duty’ as one of our greeters.   She loves a fuss!

Apart from going to the vets to be vaccinated and spayed, Mischa has never been ill or had to have a consultation for anything.  She is a fit and healthy cat and we put this down to the mostly natural diet we give her.  She has Nature’s Menu all meat and fish cat pouches, these have no additives in and are simply frozen natural ingredients.   Occasionally she’ll enjoy some of the Nature’s Menu frozen nuggets which have a bit of brown rice and vegetables in, again these are raw food and easy to feed, just defrost and that’s it. (Nature’s Menu is sold here and in stock at the sanctuary).

We use safe and natural products only on Mischa avoiding toxic chemicals which can be so dangerous to cats.  Look after the teeth of elderly cats, keeping them free from plaque and strong and healthy is important.  If a cat eats proper food, instead of mush or dry biscuits, then her teeth will stay in good condition.  Eating nothing but biscuits doesn’t keep teeth healthy in our experience – why would it?   If we ate nothing but biscuits would our teeth stay clean? It is good for the pet food manufacturers who sell the biscuits though!   There never used to be cat biscuits – they are recent cat food.    Natural food that has to be chewed is best, just watch a cat eating a piece of meat – raw or cooked and you will see why a cat fed a natural diet will have good teeth.

We also put a sprinkle of Plaque Off on Mischa’s food and this helps to keep her teeth in tip top condition.  It’s made in Sweden and contains enzymes that alter the saliva in the mouth and keep gingivitis at bay.  It works and we always keep it in stock.  Pick up a pot from here or we can post out – details on our online shop.

New born kittens

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Twinkle has had her kittens at last, she was wandering round looking huge and we thought she must surely burst1  They arrived quickly and safely and motherhood certainly suits this little tortoiseshell cat.  This picture is when they are just over a day old.  We leave them in the birthing nest for the first twenty four hours and only move them when we can see that mum is settled well with them.

There were no problems with Twinks, she loves her babies and is protective of them and nursing well.  The only time she leaves them is to eat!   There is a ginger and white (the biggest and what’s betting he’s a boy?), a ginger tabby, a fawn tabby and the littlest is, we think, a tortie, just like mum.

We’re not disturbing this new family as yet, she’s doing well and we like to keep it that way.

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Fat little tummies full of milk!

How much sugar are you feeding your cats?

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Cats like sugar.  Just like us, they become addicted to it and most pet food now has it as an added ingredient.  It keeps the cats coming back for more.  Is this why so many cats nowadays have dental problems?  We took one of our cats to the vet to be spayed recently and she had to have two teeth out while she was there.

So many cats now suffer from diabetes as they get older.  It is possible to keep them going for a while but usually it is a slow death for a cat.  In previous years we had never had a cat in with blood sugar problems and we think that is because they didn’t eat processed cat food then.

There was a fishmonger at the end of the street and fish heads were very popular.  Mince from the butcher and meat scraps from the table formed most of the cats’ diet.    Our pets were fit and well in those days and a visit to the vet unheard of except when there had been  an accident.

What about biscuits?   Do they help to keep the cat’s teeth clean?   In spite of all the hype we’re not convinced.  Would a diet of biscuits be good for your teeth?

The best food for cats is meat or fish.  They have to chew it and it keeps teeth naturally strong.  We put a sprinkle of Plaque Off on their food every day.  This is a natural enzyme (from Sweden) and works by dissolving the plaque on the cat’s teeth.   (You can get Plaque Off from us – by post or call in)

If you haven ‘t time to cook meat you can still feed your cat naturally with Nature’s Menu.  This is raw food and cats love it.   There’s two sorts – frozen nuggests that come in different flavours, just take a handful out to defrost and put them in the cat’s dish.  Job done.

Or you can buy Nature’s Menu pouches.and the meat has been minced and then steam cooked in the pouch.  These are very palatable, our cats love them.  They have only natural ingredients and no sugar.   Varieties include chicken and turkey, chicken and salmon and tuna and beef and chicken.   The pouches are 65p each and make a substantial meal – very filling and nutritious.

We have Nature’s Menu frozen and steamed cat food in stock – call and collect or we can  post the pouches out to you.  01246 455777

Opening times – 10.0am to 3.30pm.

Sevvy Comes in from the Cold

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Sevvy is a mystery cat.  We don’t know where he came from, he just appeared here about five years ago.   We’ve never been able to catch him, he is completely wild although he comes every day for food and hangs around generally.  When you approach him – he’s off!

He’s been living in an abandoned fox den under some pens, it’s a deep earth and we’d see him dart there when people were around.  It is the ultimate secure den.  I don’t know what would happen if the foxes came back but think it unlikely, they have moved on to new dens in the hedges down the fields.   Sevvy would probably see them off anyway, he’s a big lad.

Last winter brought a change for Sevvy.   We continued to put food out for him every day, we also put out a Katcabin.   As soon as he discovered this feline hotspot he was in heaven, although he was torn between the warmth and the feeling of being trapped.   He darted out and back into the security of his nearby den if we came too close.

He hasn’[t used his Katcabin so much over the summer, he goes off hunting down the fields and stays out all night.   On impulse I moved it into the stables where some of our permanent residents live.  i leave the door open during the day so that they can have a saunter out.  In late afternoon, pouch time, they are all back and waiting for pate and chopped chicken and a fish and biscuit top up.

A couple of weeks ago I had to look twice when I saw that the Katcabin was occupied.   Sevvy’s handsome face was peering out at me.   As the cats had gone out, he’d ventured in.  He was tense but not moving.   Would he dash out to freedom again?   No way.   He’s staying put.   He must trust me enough to know that I won’t evict him.   He isn’t going to chance losing his place by coming out for food while I am around though.

Sevvy looks to be apermanent resident now and is already looking much fatter and better.   He was a raggedy cat in his wild outdoor days.   He has plenty of opportunity to escape but obviously doesn ‘t want to.   I’m guessing that he eats at night when there’s no one around.   Will we ever get to stroke him?   Pick him up even?  It didn’t seem likely a few months ago – now, thanks to the Katcasbin (kindly donated by one of our Pet Samaritan friends) who knows?

 

Tonkinese cat is our new resident

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She’s called Tamba, an exotic sounding name that suits this beautiful senior lady cat perfectly. Her arrival here is tinged with sadness as Tamba’a owner has passed away.  No one else in the family was able to take her in, she isn’t used to dogs or going outside.  Tamba has been an indoor cat all her life.

Tamba is a pedigree cat, a Cappucino Tonkinese.  Isn’t that grand.  She has a lovely temperament and is settling in quickly.   She has soon discovered the outdoor run and is enjoying watching the world go by.  The other cats keep coming up to say hello.  I don’t think she is used to neighbours and doesn’t quite know what to make of them.   A dish of petit pate went down well though so she has a good appetite.

Tamba is beautiful and certainly something special but what actually is is a Tonkinese cat?   These cats are a cross between a Siamese and a Burmese and started off as a result of deliberate matings.  Now they are a breed in their own right – the best of both worlds most enthusiasts think.

Why Tonkinese then?   From the land of Tonka perhaps?   No, it’s more romantic than that.  If you’ve watched the musical South Pacific you may find the answer.  Tonkanese is the island where half-breeds are not discriminated against!   Are there creamy coloured cats there?

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Character kitten

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Most kittens are a bit clingy when they are this small (four weeks) but this is a confident little fella with an adventurous personality.   He’s a mommy’s boy when it’s time to nurse and then, when he’s had a cuddle, he’s off – climbing, roaming and playing with youngsters who are ten times bigger than he is.

It’s not usual for a cat to have just one kitten and we think that there were others but that they didn’t survive.  This boykit is getting all the milk now and he’s doing really well on it.

We like to give the kits the best start in life and feed Royal Canin Babycat biscuits ad lib, they are small and very appetizing.   We also offer kitten pouches and fresh food, a bit of mince, some cooked chicken cut up really small, poached white fish.   If kittens get used to a variety of food when they are small they will be less picky when they’re older.  Well, that’s the theory anyway!

How sociable are our cats?

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Mischa and Myrtle are mother and daughter so they are best friends but most cats find it difficult to maintain a relationship with a cat they don’t know and will avoid contact if possible.  Integrating a new cat into the group is not easy.  Cats find their own friends and it’s usually through family connections or from when they were smal that they form affection.

Kittens growing up together will make friends but even then the bond isn’t so strong as that of brothers and sisters.  Very often when a cat just disappears it’s because it can’t cope with another cat being in its territory any longer.   The one who moves away will try to find a new home where there aren’t any cats – this is usually what happens when a cat turns up ‘out of the blue’.

Cats, unlike dogs, mostly seem incapable of making sociable, friendly relationships with other cats.  If not openly  aggessive, they are mostly aloof.   All the sanctuary cats live in separate groups or on their own.  At best, they ignore one another – occasionally it’s open warfare!

cats - pebbles in dress 2Pebbles likes to do her own thing and ignores everyone else.

cats - timothy 10Timmy is nervous of all the other cats, he keeps well away of them..

Bing and Grondhal are sisters, they are fine together.  Patrick can go in the kitchen with them so long as he doesn’t intrude too much.

cats - bing & grondhal  But when Cilla comes in they all hiss and glare at her.

 

When a cat stops grooming

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Pebbles is an elderly lady cat who has been with us for about a year.  She is a lovely cat and very pretty, small and dainty and with one blue eye and one green.  Her coat was matted when she came in and it’s become worse.   We asked the vet about it when Pebbles had a health check earlier this year.  It was too cold to do anything about it then, a coat with knots was better than having it all shaved off.

We’ve been trying to cut the knots out but this has proved to be extremely difficult.  Whilst Pebbles is laid back and lovely for most of the time, she has lightning fast reactions if anyone tries to cut a knot away.   Ouch!  Her claws are razor sharp. No matter how gentle we try to be there will be a lot of discomfort in de-tangling her.

An anaesthetic is not without risks for such an old cat but there seems little option.  The decision has been made and Pebbles is going in to the vets on Thursday.   They’ll check her out first and not go ahead unless they are happy with her general condition.   Then it’s an anaesthetic and the actual shaving won’t take long.   We’ll be glad when it’s over and we have little Pebbles back home with us.  Then we’ll have to start getting her used to being groomed.   Long haired cats need to be brushed and combed out every day.   So long as it doesn’t hurt they usually tolerate it.  It’s the knots they don’t like.