Looking After Cats

RSS feed for this section

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

How much sugar are you feeding your cats?

cats - sevvy 5

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

cats - sevvy 17

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

cats - Tamba 3

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?

cats - Tamba 6

Character kitten

kittens - solo

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?

cats - mischa & myrtle 20

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

cats - pebbles 20

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.

Should I cut my cat’s nails

Cats Nails Trimming

We regularly trim the nails of our dog.   Our cat claws the furniture and makes a dreadful mess, can we cut his nails too?  

We’re often asked this, mostly because cats like to sharpen their claws and it does a lot of damage.  If your cat doesn’t attack the sofa it isn’t usually necessary to trim the nails – cats can be trained not to scratch the furniture.   Give them a sisal mat or a proper scratching post – even a log by the bark door will often be liked.

It’s a good idea to examine your cat’s paws from time to time and then you can decide whether to trim the nails.  At the same time check for splinters and sore places in between the toes.   If you persuade your cat to lie on his side it will be the easiest way to do the examination.   A light pressure on the front of the paw makes the claws protrude.

If you think they are excessively long you can trim a little bit from the tip – use a pair of nail trimmers.   Be careful you don’t cut the pink ‘quick’ in the centre of the nail – this would be very painful and bleed a lot.

If your cat has access to outdoors it would be best to leave the claws as they are – nice and sharp.  Cats use them to climb and also to defend themselves from predators.   If their claws are blunt they might not be able to get out of reach up a tree.  If a hungry fox is hot on their heels they might be prey rather than be a smug high-climber.

Cheaper pet care tips for Budget Day

ginger kit 2

It was white over with snow again this morning, the cost of living goes up and up and for most of us, keeping going is a balancing act. We don’t want our pets to suffer or go without but what can we do to cut the cost of pet care?

Lower pet food costs -CatsShop around for different brands – even cats who won’t eat some low priced chunks will say ‘yummy’ to another type.  We’ve found that most cats like Lidl’s own make.  Morrisons own brand is also popular with our sanctuary team of tasty cat food testers.

Most felines also enjoy a bit of toasted and buttered brown bread, cut up into very small chunks and with a bit of milk and a tiny sprinkle of sugar on top.   A pint of goat’s milk goes a long way, cats like it and it’s good for them too.  A small portion of white fish, lightly cooked in goat’s milk (cow’s milk isn’t good for cats) and mixed with brown bread crumbs, makes a substantial meal for a hungry cat.   You can make it into portions and freeze it for another day – kittykat ready meals.   Fish fingers are popular when cut up very small – the cheapest brands are fine – they are fresh fish just the same but not the types we recognize.

Dogs- If you want to feed complete then Dr.John’s is one of the best low cost brands around.   It’s by appointment to H.M.The Queen – the Royal Warrant so it must be good.   It’s palatable, good for sensitive tummies and with New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel as an ingredient, it’s excellent for keeping joints in good condition.   We’ve seen a difference in an arthritic dog within a few weeks.   And the price?   £14.59 for a 15 kg bag.  You can’t get much better than that for a quality dog food – we always have it in stock and every bag sold helps the sanctuary animals.

Keeping pets healthy - is one of the best ways to beat the budget – vet bills are a major worry if you are not insured.   A lot of people can ‘t afford insurance costs these days so it’s even more important to make sure your pet  is healthy.   There are many simple home remedies that work just as well as expensive ones – it’s always best to consult a vet though if you aren’t sure what is wrong with your pet.Cold tea – We use cold tea as a simple eye remedy.   Use a cotton wool pad and bathe the eyes, it’s very soothing.

Foot care -   we put Vaseline on dogs feet when their pads are dry, keeps them nice and soft and less likely to get sore..

Olive oil – We find that olive oil is good for dry itchy skin and encourages the hair to grow again on bald patches.  We put a drop or two of olive oil on our dogs dinners, they like it and it gives them a glossy coat.  It’s good to put a small amount on a dry nose too.

Turmeric – (yes, the spice you put in a curry) is a natural antiseptic, used through out the world on wounds, sores and grazes – we put it on small cuts and find they heal up quickly.   It’s good for skin irritation too – we put a pinch in the dog’s food and pat it into the sore skin for internal and external use.

Tea Tree oil – we use this as a natural flea deterrent – dilute with almond oil as it’s quite strong and then sprinkle on a rag and rub over your dog – he’ll smell nice to you but the fleas will hate it.    A few drops in his basket and on his bedding is good also.

Ears – we clean them out with witch hazel or olive oil.  We put a few drops on a cotton pad and clean the outer area – this works with dogs and cats.   Don’t poke in the ear though or you might do some damage.

Cardboard boxes for cats, cut price fleeces for dog blankets – we have lots more saving money pet tips coming soon …………….

Long haired cats need a lot of grooming

Daphne 3

This is Delilah who likes to get out in the fresh air and isn’t bothered about the cold because she has such a thick, long coat.   Her attempts at grooming herself are haphazard and if we don’t give her a daily brushing she will develop knots.  Our Zoom Groom cat groomer is perfect for keeping her coat tangle free, it gives a massage effect as well and Delilah just loves it!

This lovely cat has been here since a kitten, she was abandoned when she was just a few weeks old.  Delilah is one of our permanent sanctuary residents.   We get lots of long-haired cats brought in and it’s usually because their coat is in such a mess that only the vet can sort it out.  A general anaesthetic and having it all clipped off is the only answer.   When the knots pull, it hurts and the cat can’t bear it, so once the coat has become tangled then having it clipped off is the best solution.   It needs to be done in warm weather because to suddenly be naked is a shock to the feline system!

If you have to get it done in winter then a polo neck jumper (the sleeve of a cardigan will do) will keep your cat a bit warmer.


Check that cat collars aren’t too tight

cats - tight collar2

A cat came in to us this week whose collar was on so tight that we had to cut it off and this was done with difficulty.   The collar must have been fastened round this poor cat’s neck for months, if not years.   The skin is rubbed away and sore all the way round. It’s actually a lot worse than the photo shows.  What a relief she must feel now she is rid of it.   The collar itself is tiny so we don’t know how long it has been on.

This is not the first time we’ve seen this.  Tight collars on cats are commonplace and we’ve seen worse than this.  The collar on one cat we had in was right under the skin and barely detectable.   The cat didn’t eat and was very thin.  It couldn’t eat and that was the problem.  We had to pick the dead skin away to get at the collar and cut it free.

When the collar is removed it takes a while for the skin and tissues to recover, so the cat may not make an immediate recovery.   She will feel lots better though.   If you’ve put a collar on your cat please check it daily.  The weight of a cat can fluctuate and cause the collar to tighten up.   Better still – don’t put a collar on.   It’s not a natural thing and can be dangerous unless it’s loose enough to slip over the cat’s head if she gets caught up.  It’s much better to have your cat microchipped and then there’s no need for a collar.