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.

Ordinary things that are toxic for cats

cats - lucky 11

Cats like lots of things that are bad for them.  Some are definitely toxic and can lead to serious illness and even death.  Others take a while to take affect or give mild symptoms.  Here are some of the most common:

Anti-freeze – make sure you have put it away in a locked cupboard.  If any of it spills and your cat laps it up (and she might well do this as it is sweet and palatable) she will become ill quite quickly and recovery is unlikely.   Only your vet can help and may recommend euthanasia as anti-freeze poisoning is a slow and painful death.

Liver – most cats love eating liver.  A small amount is good for them but eat too much and their bones can fuse together.  It’s bizarre but it does happen, we’ve seen cats who look arthiritic and can only hobble around – indulging on liver is the cause.  It’s a treat for high days and holidays only.

Cod Liver Oil - it’s fine for dogs (and people) it’s an anti-inflammatory and can help with the pain from arthritis.   It’s a no-no for cats though, it has too much Vitamin A and this is not good for our feline friends.   Better to use a few drops of salmon oil (for shiny coat) and follow the dosage on the bottle.   Sardines and oily fish are alright for tea from time to time though.

Cut flowers – If you have a bunch of flowers and there are lilies in it make sure you put your floral arrangement well away from cats.  If they brush against the pollen it can make them ill.  It isn’t a contact contaminant – the trouble starts if the cat washes herself and ingest some of the lily dust.   Keep lilies away from cats.  This could also happen if you grow them in the garden.

Green water – standing water can have algae growing in it – you’ll see a surface ‘bloom’ of green or yellow or blu-ish colour.   Our fastidious cats aren’t so bothered about drinking stagnant water so this isn’t usually a problem, but if they do decide to slurp some up you’ll be taking them to the vet.  It’s extremely toxic and some pets don’t survive.  It’s usually dogs who succumb, even paddling in it can cause fatalities.  Fresh water every day is the only answer.

Pusscat is settling in

cats - pusscat 2

A comfy bed, a good night’s sleep and what a difference a day makes.  Pusscat enjoyed her fishy breakfast and is settling well.  This timid little cat who was hiding and cringing when she first saw us is coming out of her nest and saying ‘hi folks’ straight away.  She is a sweet and affectionate cat and loves to be fussed.   She was so stressed and frightened when she first came in but now she is gaining in confidence and showing us her loving nature.  It must feel good not to be itching now that she has been de-flea-ed (we used Advocate which zaps fleas, worms and ear mites).   She’s had soothing aloe vera on all her sore places and she’s looking much happier.   Now all we have to do is fatten her up – and get her vaccinated – that’s on tomorrow’s list.

If anyone can buy us some Advocate (get it from the vet) we would be very grateful.  It isn’t the cheapest but we’ve found it to be the most effective, easiest to use and the safest.

cats - pusscat 6

Pusscat is so sad

cats - pusscat 1

This pretty little cat came in because her elderly owner could no longer care for her.  Ill health of owners often means that the pets are neglected, it’s a problem and we are seeing more and more cats and dogs in this state.   Pusscat is quite thin and was covered in fleas (we treated her straight away).  The infestation has left scabs and scores all over her body and round her eyes.   Now the parasites are gone she will soon heal.   It makes cats (and any animal) feel very uncomfortable though, the fleas itch and suck blood so she may be anaemic.  Raw meat, which she likes, will help.

Pusscat is an affectionate little girl but is also timid.  She has to gain confidence at present.   Her ears are dry and crackly with little hair, this may be due to her general lack of condition.  Somebody has cut some of her whiskers off.   It’s something that should never be done to a cat, whiskers are part of their senses.   They will grow again but it will be slow.   So her problems are not life threatening (we hope!) and she will recover given time.

Pusscat is a lovely looking cat, possibly young middle aged, well marked, she is clean and gentle and purrs nicely when she knows she is safe.  We were told when she was brought in that she had been spayed and she will go to be vaccinated later this week.

She has a lovely expression and the most beautiful limpid lemon coloured eyes.  Adoption anyone?

cats - pusscat 6

Fat Cats how to slim them down

cats - ginger tina 5

Although Tina, who came in recently with her sister, has a small pretty face, she has a big body and is overweight.  Too long being a couch potato before she came here perhaps.  Both of these sisters were indoor cats and this can make the problem worse.  They eat and sleep and have a fuss and then do it all again!   Cats who go out chasing birds, hunting mice and eyeing up the fella next door use up a lot of energy and stay slim.

Get some exercise -  We don’t like the idea of frantic playing, it can lead to personality changes.  Making cats run round till they are dizzy may help them to lose weight but it can become addictive.  Chasing a feather duster is fun – for a few minutes at a time.   Provide toys but make sure they are natural and haven’t cost the earth (imports from the other side of the world?   No way)   Few cats can resist some screwed up silver paper or a cotton bobbin on a piece of string.  Playtime will help but it isn’t the complete answer to feline weight loss.

What do you do if your plump pet doesn’t want to play?    An overweight cat will probably just yawn.  He can’t be bothered.   You’ll have to make him  ‘hunt’ for his food.   Put a few mouthfuls of chicken on a saucer and put it at the top of the stairs or in the attic.   The porch?  Garage?  Different locations provide interest and exercise.  No more every ready meals and dishes full of factory made mosh waiting in the kitchen.  It encourages him to sit down and slurp it all up.  There’s a lot of sugar in pet food and the cats love it.  Is it good for them though?   It’s why so many cats are unwell – heart disease, diabetes, shortness of breath, allergies………..

Cut out the carbs    –   Small amounts of lean fresh food – chicken, lamb, beef, ham, fish, sardines, mackerel etc. all help to keep his weight down.  A few teaspoonfuls for each meal. Sometimes finely chopped, other times in chunks for chewing.   Only a few biscuits (if any) they are not a natural food and are full of carbs. Isn’t it a myth that biscuits are good for the teeth – does eating biscuits mean that we don’t have to go to the dentist?   Cats keep their teeth in good shape by chewing chunks of meat so don’t cut it all up too fine.  We put ‘Plaque Off’ on all the cats (and dogs) food – the enzymes in it stop plaque developing and help fetch it off if the teeth are already coated.  (We always have it in stock – it’s invaluable).  Cat biscuits are a factory made convenience food and cats have managed to thrive and stay healthy for thousands of years without them!

Dainty dishes –  Change the size of his dish, no more huge plastic bowls – a dainty china saucer is best for a fat cat – it will encourage you to give him less too.   So what about the actual food?   Shoud you buy special weight-watchers menu even if it is more expensive?   We don’t do this because it doesn’t work, it’s factory made processed convenience food and can leave cats feeling disatissfied.  It’s the quality of food that counts.   Cats haven’t evolved to eat dry biscuits or something out of can or pouch!   Fresh food is best for them and a small, lean piece of protein is more satisfying and beneficial than a dish of moshed up carbohydrates and additives. A cat in his wild state is a carnivore, a mouse for breakfast, some flies as an aperitif, a small bird for lunch and a baby bunny for supper.

Small amounts –  Lean meat or fish will help your cat to slim down, he’ll love it too.  Try chicken, lamb or ham occasionally.  Cooked or raw is fine so long as you don’t give too much.   Feed fish as often as you like, cheap cuts, sardines and mackerel are all good for him and he won’t put on weight.  Don’t forget, it’s small portions only.   A cat needs three meals a day, breakfast, dinner and an evening meal.  A good quality pouch of meat or fish will do if you haven’t any fresh meat in. When he’s back to a svelte shape and is feeling more energetic he could have a full pouch for every meal.

While he’s still a fatty you could hide  a small dish with a sardine in a corner of the spare room – he’ll have to find it – and he will when he’s hungry enough.

cats - ginger tina 6

 

Derbyshire Times Featuring the Sanctuary

derbys times Dec 14

‘Cats are not just for Christmas’ is the headline in today’s Derbyshire Times – it’s a feature about the dozens of stray cats who have been brought in or dumped here in the run-up to Christmas.  The photo shows volunteer Jodie (on the left) with Leo (a Maine Coon) and Jo, who is a Sanctuary Manageress and also Adoptions Co-ordinator.

Jo is holding Sapphire who was left for dead in our yard a few weeks ago.   Thankfully both cats are recovering now.   A big thank you to the Derbyshire Times who have highlighted the plight of the unwanted cats and featured our need for cat food and donations to help care for them.

Another abandoned cat

cats - leo 2

Isn’t it cruel to just dump a cat somewhere he doesn’t know and where he might not be found?   Last week we had a young cat left out in the rain in our yard.  She was thin and soaking wet, close to death when we found her.   This one has fared a little better, at lest he was put inside.  We found him shut in Reception.   He’s very thin, starving hungry and completely bewildered – Where am I?

Wr urgently need help to feed all these extra mouths – donations of cat food would be very helpful.  Alsoi we have so many cats to take to the vet – vaccinations, health checks, neutering and spaying – even a small donation would be a great help.  Many thanks

He shot up onto a high ledge when we put him in a pen – then came down and began to eat ravenously.   He’s a lovely cat, massive, as bit fluffy, magnificent whiskers.   He has a friendly (although a bit scred at present) temperament.   He looks like a Maine Coone, very handsome and especially lsrge feet.   We’ve called him Leo – he looks a king of the jungle – although not in temperament.  He’s a bit of a wimp!  Where did he come from?   We’d love to know.

 

Talullah walks on the wild side

cats - tallulah

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.

cats - tallulah 20

Enjoying her dinner al fresco!

cats - tallulah 21

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

Pets who comfort eat

IMG_5252

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

cats - mischa 20

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

cats - twinks kits 2

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.

cats - twinks kits 3

Fat little tummies full of milk!