Catsong, a 2007 Merial Human-Animal Bond Award winner, is back with more stories, more poetry, and more – what else? – cats. This charming and delightful collection of stories about special cats and the impact they had on the author’s life celebrates the immense love, joy and comfort they have brought, each in his or her own individual and special way.Continue Reading
Note: This article covers a recall that occurred in 2014. For up-to-date information on current pet food recalls, please visit the FDA’s recall website.
In 2014, Natura Pet Products initiated a limited, voluntary recall of certain dry cat and dry ferret food lots produced in its Fremont, Nebraska facility. Due to a formulation error, these products contained insufficient levels of vitamins and excess minerals.Continue Reading
Animal Tales is one of the most fun apps I’ve come across. Created by the same folks who brought you the successful ResQWalk, this free IOS app allows you to create custom story books featuring your cats. The storybooks can be created and shared for free, or printed for $12 with 20% of proceeds going to animal rescue.
“Our vision with Animal Tales was to create a unique, easy to use product for animal lovers to have fun with,” said Animal Tales Founder Bailey Schroeder. I got to try the app and created two books, one for Ruby and one for Allegra (I didn’t want one of them feel left out!)Continue Reading
This article was originally published in Pet Boarding and Daycare Magazine. While the article was written for operators of cat boarding and grooming establishments, the tips I provided can also help cat guardians in choosing a good boarding facility for cats.
Cats have a reputation for being independent, which often leads people to believe that they’ll do just fine on their own when their guardians have to go away for a few days. As long as someone comes in and leaves fresh food and water, that’s all they need, right? Nothing could be further from the truth. Accidents happen. Cats could stop eating while their guardians are away, or become ill. Cats need more than just food and water to thrive – they need human interaction, and a chance to play.
Generally, there are two options cat owners who have to travel: having a friend, neighbor or professional pet sitter come to the house, or boarding the cat at a boarding facility. Since cats dislike change, boarding can be a stressful experience. Boarding facilities who wish to attract cat owners need to be aware of cats’ unique needs, and take measures to reduce stress for their feline guests.
Select a boarding facility designed for cats
Providing a low-stress environment for cats starts with the selection of the actual boarding kennel. When Elizabeth Colleran, DVM, designed the boarding section of her cat clinics in Chico, CA and Portland, OR, she made sure that all design decision and selections were made with cats’ needs in mind. “We have a large boarding room with sleeping benches in each enclosure, and a view of the garden from the back of each enclosure,” says Colleran.
Cat kennels or condos should be spacious enough to accommodate separate areas for the cat’s litter box, food, and lounging areas. In order to minimize noise as well as stress, cat boarding areas should be separate from dog boarding kennels. Most cats will find the sound of barking dogs distressing. Cat boarding areas should also be kept away from the main traffic flow of the facility. Cats should not be able to see other cats from their cage or condo. Since cats are territorial animals, the sight of another cat can be stressful and cause aggression toward kennel staff and other cats in the facility.
Environmental enrichment features
Enriching the kennel with features such as resting boards, cardboard hiding boxes, bedding and toys can go a long way toward making cats more comfortable. Offering a view of the outside can be an added bonus: “Bird TV” can keep cats entertained during the day. Playing soft music throughout the day can provide a “white noise” effect. Studies have shown that classical music, or music specifically designed to calm pets, can have beneficial effects on cats’ stress levels.
Pheromone sprays and plug ins can help reduce anxiety in kennel areas. Cages and bedding should be sprayed every day. The use of pheromone plug ins in all areas of the kennel where cats will be housed can help keep feline boarders calm. Holistic remedies such as Rescue Remedy or Spirit Essences Stress Stopper can be beneficial as well.
Common social areas – yes or no?
If a boarding facility provides common social areas for cats, it is critical to only allow cats from the same family into the area at the same time, and only if prior approval is obtained from the cat’s owner. Common areas, as well as individual cages, need to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between cats to minimize the potential for exposure to spread illness Even seemingly healthy cats can be carriers of feline viruses without exhibiting signs of disease. “There is a balance between cleanliness/disinfection and the elaborateness of the enclosures and common areas,” says Dr. Colleran. “I chose to keep them very simple so that we would never have a problem with viruses.”
Give cats time to acclimate
A boarding facility can be frightening for cats, especially those who have not been away from home before. Cats will need time to acclimate to a new environment. Most cats will adjust with two or three days. They may not eat much during the adjustment period, and it is critical that food intake is monitored closely. A cat who doesn’t eat for more than 24-48 hours is at risk for hepatic lipidosis, a potentially life-threatening condition.
Staff needs to be trained in proper handling of cats
Staff should be trained in proper handling of cats and in how to read a cat’s body language to avoid inadvertently stressing cats. “We watch for the behaviors we know indicate that cats are settling in,” explains Dr. Colleran, “especially how soon they eat, where they sit in the enclosure and how willing they are to curl up and sleep.”
Cats are highly sensitive to energy. A study conducted at the Ohio State University School of Veterinary Medicine demonstrated a connection between stress and illness in cats. Researchers found that they had to manage their own stress levels when they were around the cats. “I had to be careful if I was having a bad day so it didn’t rub off on the cats,” says Judi Stella, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher at Purdue University, who participated in the study. Staff should approach cats slowly and speak in soft voices. They should understand that forcing human contact does not accelerate a cat’s acclimation period. Cats need to be allowed to relax at their own pace.
Personal belongings with the scent of home
Allow cat owners to bring their cat’s personal belongings. “We invite people to bring familiar bedding and familiar toys, food or treats,” says Dr. Colleran. A blanket, article of clothing with the owner’s scent on it or a favorite toy may go a long way toward making a cat feel more secure.
Consider installing web cameras in cat boarding areas so clients can monitor their cats while they’re away. Webcams are easy to set up and allow cat owners to watch live streaming video of their feline family members on the boarding facility’s website. Most pet parents love being able to see their cat while they’re away from. “The web cams give me the opportunity to check on my cat Smoky 24/7,’ says Maureen Carnevale, who boards her cat at Olde Town Pet Resort in Springfield, VA. “Additionally, I can also observe the staff and the care Smoky receives in my absence. This gives me a lot of comfort and peace of mind.”
Boarding facilities can greatly reduce stress for their feline clients by keeping cats’ unique needs in mind during facility design and when developing operating procedures.
Featured Image Credit: Bussakorn Ewesakul, Shutterstock
If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m passionate about bio-appropriate nutrition for cats. Cats are obligate carnivores, and they need meat not only to survive, but to thrive. The optimal diet for a cat is a properly formulated raw, home-cooked or grain-free canned diet.
Allegra, Ruby and I recently had the opportunity to evaluate Holistic Select’s new line of canned paté recipes. Continue Reading
Losing a beloved cat is devastating, no matter what the circumstances. Grief is a very individual experience, and no two cat guardians will grieve in exactly the same way. Rituals can play an important role in the healing process. There is something about acknowledging grief through a tangible action that can help soothe raw emotions.
Rituals can take many different forms. The best ritual is the one that has the most meaning for you. Find something that resonates with you, and add your own personal expression to it.Continue Reading
I’m not a huge fan of reading Fantasy, so The Savage Kingdom by Simon David Eden was a bit of a stretch for me, and I’ll be honest, the only reason I even picked it up was that the cover, along with a lovely pitch by the author, totally reeled me in. And I have to say, I’m glad I did.Continue Reading
There’s no question that indoor cats live longer, healthier lives. It is imperative that cat guardians provide a stimulating environment for indoor cats. Cat behaviorist Jackson Galaxy has coined the term “catification,” which means creating a cat-friendly environment that provides outlets for a cat’s natural instincts to hunt, catch, kill and eat his prey, followed by grooming and sleeping.Continue Reading
I love products that combine function with design – especially when it comes to cat products. The Peach Industries Kitty Lounger was what happened when an industrial designer married an animal crazy registered veterinary technician. Mike and Georgia Barbush, like so many pet guardians, found it challenging to maintain a sleek asthetic amid all the toys, scratchers and beds. That’s why they decided to turn their home into a design-conscious heaven of pet comfort and entertainment.Continue Reading
Pet food labels should be a useful tool to help cat guardians decide which foods to select. Unfortunately, unless you know how to interpret the often confusing information on the labels, they may only add to the confusion. I’ve previously written about how to read a pet food label, but it turns out that you may not be able to trust the information on the label. Continue Reading