There is only one universal rule when it comes to good timing with a new cat. Avoid introducing the furry newcomer when there’s a big party taking place, or at a time of year associated with fireworks.
Unfortunately, this one rule is often ignored. Big parties tend to take place at Christmas and birthdays. And when do people usually receive presents, including, possibly, new cats and kittens? Exactly…
The problem is that celebrations involve lots of noise and lots of people, and a cat introduced into this environment is likely to run for cover and stay in hiding for as long as possible. It can take a nervous animal several days to recover from party trauma.
The Best Feline Times
- It is far better to introduce the newcomer when all is quiet on the domestic front. That way, the cat gets an early taste of how everyday life will be with you and your loved ones.
- If the new cat is a birthday or Christmas present for a child, explain to them why the kitten is arriving a day or two ‘late’. The party day itself can then be a time to make the home cat-friendly. Install the scratching post, cat bed, cat flap and litter tray. Stock up on cat food and treats, and get lots of cat toys ready to go. These can all act as surrogate birthday or Christmas presents, paving the way for the new furry arrival a day or two later. Preparing your home in this way is necessary anyway, with or without the excuse of a birthday party.
- Homes need to be cat-proofed too, with toxic house plants and vulnerable ornaments removed.
- The new cat arrival date should be delayed until the person looking after the pet has enough time to do just that. Cats are independent animals, once they settle in, but in the early days you need to offer reassurance, a comfortable lap, and a few sessions of litter-tray training. An older cat may have been toilet trained already, but a kitten will take a while to grasp the idea.
- If the cat is going to be spending time outdoors, it’s a good idea to bring it home when it’s not too cold outside. Although good weather can never be guaranteed, the summer months have a better chance of delivering dry and sunny conditions. The cat won’t be harmed by wind, rain or snow, but if the weather is very bad, the wet pet might decide to head for shelter away from home. If it has not been a household pet for long, it may decide to take up residence in this new abode, and tracking it down won’t always be easy.
- The elderly: It’s a melancholy thought, but many cats outlive their owners. This is not a reason to avoid getting a new cat if you are elderly, but all owners should digest the fact that a cat will live 15, even 20 years, and if basic cat care is going to be an issue, it needs to be discussed. If there is someone who can help out with cat food shopping and litter tray cleaning, even if the cat owner is no longer able to carry out these tasks easily, that solves the problem. Cats are, indeed, a health asset for the elderly, with scientific research suggesting that they are greatly beneficial to mental health and happiness.
- Infants: At the other end of the age scale, it’s recommended to avoid bringing a new cat home if there is a baby in the house. Although incredibly rare, there have been tragic stories of babies accidentally suffocated by cats. A far commoner issue is allergies – some children can develop symptoms such as asthma and skin rashes in the proximity of cats and dogs, and until you know your child is allergy-free, it is best to avoid taking the risk. And even if a child is allergic to cats, there are hypoallergenic breeds – including the Abyssinian, the Cornish Rex and the Bengal – that do not provoke the allergic reactions.
- Children: If the new cat is for a child, it is important that there is someone else who is willing to put in some cat-care hours too. No child under the age of 12 should be given full responsibility for a cat – or indeed any pet.
- The Inbetweenies: Between childhood and old age, there is a time when many of us plan making a new start in new jobs and new homes. If you know this kind of change is imminent, it’s best to delay getting a new cat. Acclimatising them to a new home, and then another new home soon after, is not ideal, and the cat might leave the second home in search of the first one…
So, if you’re looking for a general rule here, it’s this: You can bring a new cat home any time – as long as it’s the right time!
This entry was posted in Cats
A cat’s signature move is the slinky walk with an upright tail. Intriguingly, no other cat species walks like this, and it is not known exactly when pet cats first adopted the posture.
The domestic cat’s ancestor, the African wildcat, hooked up with humans more than 10,000 years ago. They probably adopted us, rather than the other way round, attracted by the surplus of rodents nibbling away at our grain stores. It seems pretty certain that the feline freeloaders soon adapted their body language – tails included – just to please us, quickly securing their place on the sofa.
The following cat-of-nine-tails facts tell you everything you need to know about your pet cat’s swishing tail.
1 – Balancing Act
Cats have fantastic balance. Their tails play a major role in this skill, acting as a counterweight when puss is ‘tightrope walking’ on narrow walls or ledges. The tail also helps cats run and change direction with great agility – and without stumbling. Next time you get the chance, watch a cat run and turn – if a human took some of those feline twists and turns at a similar pace, they would simply fall over.
2 – Tails Tell Tales
Cats communicate with their tails, sending out subtle signals. The most familiar signal is the upright tail, a sign of a happy cat. In moments of great pleasure, the upright tail will quiver at the tip. This is not to be confused with the twitching tail of a resting cat, which means she’s irritated. Once the cat is on her feet and the tail is swinging from side to side, she’s switched from annoyance to anger, so watch out!
3 – Let us Prey
When they’re stalking prey, cats tend to keep their tails low and still, but they may still flick and twitch in excitement as the moment of pouncing draws near. If the hunt is unsuccessful, the tail will twitch restlessly in irritation.
4 – No Tail to Tell
Some breeds, including the Manx, are born without tails, due to a dominant gene. Two tailless Manx cats should never be allowed to breed, however, as a combination of the two dominant genes brings severe health problems to the kittens. The curly tail of the Bobtail breeds doesn’t come with the same potential health problems as the Manx cat gene. Both the Manx and the Bobtails seem to have learnt to balance pretty well without a classic cat tail.
5 – When the Tail Goes Cold
A cat that has lost its tail in an accident, or has injured it in a door or traffic accident, is definitely handicapped. It will not be able to balance as well as before or send out those tail-twitching signals. It is still capable of leading happy life, though – owners just have to look for other body language details to read their pet’s mood.
6 – Inside Story
Cat’s tails have between 19 and 23 vertebrae, depending on the breed (and not counting the tailless Manx!) This represents around 10% of the total number of bones in the cat’s body. These vertebrae give the tail its whiplash flexibility, held together with complex muscles, tendons and ligaments.
7 – Ailing Tails
If your cat is feeling unwell, you can usually see the signs in its tail. It won’t be held upright or twitching excitedly like before. If you notice that the behaviour of your pet’s tail has changed, take it as a sign that she needs a health check. Some cats are prone to dermatitis, sometimes brought on by fleas. This can often be seen in inflamed areas in the region where the tail joins the rump. Some hormonal problems can result in inflammation in the tail too.
8 – Upstanding Felines
The ability to walk with an upright tail is actually unique to domestic cats. All other members of the cat family walk with the tail down, horizontal, or tucked safely between the legs.
9 – Tail End
Cats raise their tails to tell us they’re happy and relaxed, but when prowling amongst other cats the raised tail signal is an invite to come and investigate. Other cats will sniff a cat whose tail is in the air.
It is widely thought that purring is something cats invented just for us – and perhaps that upright happy tail is another one of the ways they won a place in our hearts and homes.
This entry was posted in Cats
Watch a cat stalking through the grass or simply relaxing in the sunshine, and it’s clear that they love being outside. If you live in the countryside, this isn’t much of an issue, and all country cats mix and match the great outdoors and the great indoors. In towns, however, owners may be less keen to let their cat spend a night on the tiles.
Town cats have shorter lifespans than country cats, on average. This is not due to the benefits of fresh air – it’s simply because most premature deaths in the cat population are caused by road accidents, and a town the cat has far more chances of quickly shedding its nine lives.
Why do cats like being outdoors?
Do you like spending time in the sunshine, with the fresh air in your lungs and a gentle breeze on your face? Cats are exactly the same. Like you, they get a buzz from life beyond the four walls. They are stimulated by movement, sounds and scents, and even the humblest garden has these in abundance. Cats will investigate whatever the world has to offer, and this gives them both mental and physical stimulation, a combination that results in a happy and healthy cat.
Research has shown that certain sounds, including the squeaks of rodents and the twittering of birds, is particularly stimulating for cats. They find these things satisfying and engaging on an instinctive level, and all animals need to keep their instincts happy.
If given the chance, cats will make full use of the possibilities of life in the fresh air – not just the immediate vicinity, but the much wider local area, sometimes prowling a territory with a radius of one mile from their home. They will form all kinds of relationships in this territory, some friendly and some not, but all part of the rich tapestry of cat life.
What this means is that access to the outdoors is a great stress reliever, giving a cat many of the things it needs in order to stay alert and content, and to allow it to chill in its natural habitat.
However, owners who want to keep their pets indoors should not be put off by this. They can still provide their pet with most of the benefits of the outdoor life.
How to bring the outdoors indoors
Breed – and therefore personality – plays a big part in a cat’s contentment. Some breeds – including the Burmese, the Siamese, the Korat, the Oriental and the Abyssinian – need the outdoors in the same way as a piano player needs a piano, and they will not be happy if denied access to nature. Others – including the Persian, the Russian Blue and the Ragdoll – seem to have been bred for a life on the sofa, and will not miss being outdoors one little bit. Most crossbreed cats like to enjoy the best of both worlds, so if your cat is going to live indoors, you will need to make the domestic space a bit more ‘wild’.
Providing stimulation with toys, including ones filled with catnip, is half the battle. You should also open your windows wide enough to let the fresh air and the scents and sounds indoors, without giving an escape route for the cat. Failing that, opening the door to the garden while closing off the inner doors will allow the fresh air to circulate.
If space allows, a cat run is a great option. This can be linked to the house via a cat flap on the door, allowing your pet to spend as much time outdoors as it wants. If the cat run is not connected to the house, you can let the cat spend time on the run while you’re out in the garden as well. Or, if you start early, you may be able to train your cat to walk on a lead. This needs careful planning, though, as avoiding dogs out on their walks is an important detail!
Even if you live in a flat it’s possible to allow your cat some fresh air, providing you have a balcony. Omlet’s Cat Balcony Enclosure fits most balconies, and will give your cat a safe space to feel the wind in their fur.
The main takeaways from this are that cats need fresh air, and all the things it represents. But at the same time, town cats who are happy with a life on the sofa can enjoy most of the fun and stimulation of the outdoors by staying indoors.
This entry was posted in Cats
The closest ancestors of the domestic cats were solitary wildcat species that didn’t have to, and in most cases didn’t want to, draw attention to how they were feeling. Showing weakness would potentially expose you as an easier target for predators or competing cats. This is still present in cats today; in most cases they will try to hide what they are feeling from you.
With that being said, they do of course communicate. With other felines, and with us. They use scents and vocalisations, but also a lot of visual cues in the form of body language.
When you’re trying to analyse and understand your cat’s body language it’s important to use the context of the whole situation rather than just looking at one thing. Check the surroundings and try to work out what factors might affect your cat. Is there anything that might make the cat stressed, angry or worried? This might make it easier to understand the cat’s, not always crystal clear, signals.
There are five things to focus on when trying to read your cat’s body language. Eyes, ears, face, body and tail!
- Slow blinking – Eyes that blink slowly or are half closed indicate that your cat is really relaxed and trusts that the situation is not threatening. Try blinking back in the same slow way to mimic the cat’s behaviour. This is a great bonding exercise for the two of you.
- Dilated pupils – Given it’s not extremely dark in the room, large pupils indicate that your cat is feeling surprised, or scared and anxious. Normally the eyes will also be open wide, and the cat will not blink.
- Constricted pupils – If the pupils on the other hand are very small and constricted, your cat will most likely feel tense, possibly bordering on aggressive.
- Staring – If your pet locks their eyes on something or something, it is likely to be a challenge. If it’s you the cat is staring at – best not to approach!
- Pointing slightly up and forward – A content and relaxed cat will keep its ears held upright and pointing forward. This is the default ear position, and the ears will probably move somewhat as the cat follows familiar sounds in the room.
- Pointing straight up – This is a sign of a cat who is alert and ready to go. They might have heard something they want to investigate, but will first listen out a bit longer.
- Pointing in different directions – If one ear is angled to the side and the other one points backwards it is possible that the cat is nervous and trying to assess the situation to get as much information as possible.
- Pointing back, lying flat against the head – This is a sign of an annoyed, angry and potentially aggressive cat who is ready to pounce. It’s best to leave them alone.
- A relaxed and happy cat will have relaxed whiskers pointing going out from the face. Many cats also have a relaxed facial expression that resembles a smile.
- An anxious or scared cat will pull its whiskers back along the side of the face to take up as little space as possible and not seem like a threat. Or if they are on high alert, the whiskers will point forwards.
- If the whiskers stand erect pointing away from the face, or forwards, it’s a sign that the cat is angry. He or she might show their teeth and hiss or growl.
- The neutral body stance for a cat is relaxed and even, with no tension. If they are lying down, they will be stretched out or curled up into a ball with their paws tucked in under the body. Often this might be followed by purring, a sign that the cat is content and relaxed.
- An anxious or scared cat will in most cases just run away and hide somewhere away from what is frightening them, but if it’s not possible they will crouch very still on the ground with their head held low.
- An angry cat will try to make itself look as big as possible, with the fur pointing away from the body, straightened front legs and an arched back.
- It’s worth noting that a cat that’s lying on its back might not want a belly rub. Just as dogs they are trying to show submission, but would in most cases prefer just to be left alone.
- Held upright – This is a sign of a happy cat that wants attention and company. The tail can also be relaxed, but normally doesn’t move.
- Held straight down – This should be a sign that the cat is scared or upset. A scared cat can also hold its tail under its body.
- Wagging – A wagging tail does not mean the same for cats as it does for dogs. If the tail is moving quickly from side to side, the cat is likely annoyed and would like to be left alone. If the cat instead wags the tail slowly, they are trying to assess the situation and deciding what to do. The cat might be a bit worried, so if you can, try to reassure him or her.
- Big, bushy tail held out straight from the body – Do not approach! This is an angry cat that is trying to look as scary as possible to potential threats.
This entry was posted in Cats
We’ve all been asked the age-old question at some point in our lives… “Are you a cat person, or a dog person?”
For those who reply “cat person” you will likely have had the confusing but unsurprising reply of “No way! I HATE cats!”
But why? So many people have strong feelings against cats, and most of the time can’t even justify their negativity. While some reasons can be understandable, others are just plain unreasonable! Here are a few reasons why our feline friends gained so many haters…
Myths and history
If we look back into Ancient Egyptian history, we will see that cats were considered magical beings, protectors and a sign of good luck by the Egyptians, and they even worshipped a Cat Goddess, named Bastet.
So how have we become a world completely split over whether cats are good or bad?
Throughout history, other countries have had mixed thoughts on the symbolism of cats. The main myth that has been carried through to the present day is most damaging to the reputation of the black cat. Some say if a black cat crosses your path you will have bad luck, others believe black cats are actually witches in disguise. Despite neither of these conspiracies holding any weight in truth, they still impact black cat adoption rates to this day, and may go somehow in explaining why so many people feel uneasy around cats of any colour.
A common reason for the hate towards cats is related back to bad experiences that may have happened as early as childhood. It normally follows a story of visiting a family or friends house as a kid, and being swiped, bit, scratched or hissed at by the resident cat, with rarely any mention of what the disrespectful child-self may have done to provoke said cat.
Some people fear dogs for the same reason too so it definitely isn’t the main cause of hostility. We can only hope that someday these people may come around to the fact that it is very rare for a cat to attack for no reason, as an adult you are going to be better at reading the signals of a cat who would like some space.
Yes, okay, sometimes cats aren’t as affectionate as dogs but this is because they are typically more independent. However, the notion suggested by some cat-haters that cats aren’t capable of loving their owners at all, is just plain silly.
Some cats who have bad experiences with humans, may be more wary or even fearful of us, and will likely have got used to their own company and learnt to fend for themselves. But even the most frightened and isolated cats learn to enjoy human company again, after lots of love, care and affection.
There are lots of fascinating ways that cats show they love their owners and you can read all about those here.
If your neighbour’s cat is causing a mess in your garden or terrorising your chickens, it is understandable that some anger may develop towards the whole species. However, that behaviour is not a reflection on all cats, so don’t paint them all with the same brush!
You might, however, like to place the responsibility on the cats’ owners and suggest solutions to prevent upsetting neighbours, such as an outdoor pet enclosure for cats to spend time outdoors without getting up to mischief. Some people even walk their cats on a lead when they are new to an area to show them where they can go – whether this works or not is debatable.
“Dogs are cuter”
Some people are just die hard dog fans and we have to accept that, but the argument of which pet is “cuter” is entirely subjective and shouldn’t be taken as truth. If you think cats are cuter, then good for you! Cats should have as much chance as any other pet in finding a happy and loving home for life, and if you give them everything they need to be safe and content, they will love you right back.
This entry was posted in Cats
When a cat scratches a wall or post, it’s a sign that strong winds are about to rattle the rafters. If the cat scratches the legs of your table, it mean a change in the weather. According to old British folklore, that is…
In reality, cats scratch for personal reasons – not to alert you to things your weather app may have missed! But the folklore underline something very true – the fact that cats will happily run its claws up and down your household treasures. That’s why a tailor-made scratching post is a must for all pet cats.
There’s no doubt that cats enjoy the sensation of scratching. But there are two practical reasons for the behavior. Cats trim their nails by clawing against hard or rough surfaces, so a scratching post is a kind of manicure station. Scratching also lets them have a good, general body stretch.
Cats also have scent glands in their paws (to match the ones on their cheeks – that’s what they’re up to when thy brush against your legs). When scratching, they are also scent-marking, to tell the world that this particular territory belongs to them.
It’s not just domestic cats that do this. Tigers, for example, scent-mark trees, gouging them with their enormous claws as they do so.
Learning From Scratch
Pet cats that spend a lot of time outdoors will not scratch as much in the home. Their nails will be kept in good shape the natural way as the animal roams its wider territory. Cats will also, like tigers, take advantage of trees and other natural scratching stations.
If your cat spends little time outdoors, the urge for indoor scratching will be strong. You can reinforce desirable scratching behaviour by showering the cat with praise and affection when it uses the scratching post, and gently discouraging it if it tries to get its claws up close and personal to the furniture. It’s important not to simply cuddle the cat to stop it clawing, as your pet may interpret this as attention. The assumption “My Claws + Your Furniture = Quality Time With You” is one you need to discourage.
Cat Scratch Posts – Feline Groovy
A persistent furniture- or curtain-scratcher will need to break the habit. Covering the cat’s favorite table leg, sofa arm, etc., with kitchen foil, double-sided sticky tape or shiny plastic sheeting usually does the trick. The cat doesn’t like the feel of its claws on these surfaces.
Odors can deter persistent scratchers too. Citrus and menthol are two scents that most moggies will keep away from.
Another trick is to buy (or make) a scratching post and place it next to the piece of furniture the cat has been scratching. A sprinkle of catnip will make the new scratch post irresistible. Once the cat has engaged, the post can be moved somewhere more convenient.
It’s important that the scratching post is appealing to your pet. It will need a wide, heavy base to prevent it from wobbling or falling over during clawing, and should be tall enough to accommodate your cat at full stretch – between 60cm and 90cm. Make sure the material attached to the post has vertical grooves, rather than horizontal. Corrugated fibre boards work well, or materials with a vertical weave. This will ease the scratching process, and also minimise the chance of a claw snagging in the material (something to be aware of if you’re making your own post).
A scratching mat is another option, although many cats seem to prefer stretching upwards to scratch. This may be something to do with getting their scent spread at optimal height for feline passers-by to sniff at.
Identifying the Claws of Stress
Cats sometimes claw when they’re stressed, and that’s when your furniture is in real danger from cat-scratch-fever. Identifying the source of stress is important. It could be another cat, another pet (usually a dog), or even a child in the house whose rough handling has freaked out the poor puss. On the other hand it could be a noisy household appliance, or some regular noise from outside the home, such as aircraft or hyperactive car alarms.
As far as possible, remove or minimise the source of stress. Provide a second scratch post too. If you have more than one cat, it’s a good idea to give them each a separate post to call their own.
And just out of interest, next time your cat has a prolonged scratch at its post, take a look outside. Is it getting windier? Is the weather on the change? After all, those weather apps don’t get it right every time.
This entry was posted in Cats
Have you ever looked at your pets’ paws and wondered why? Why don’t they have hands and fingers like us? The answer dates back thousands of years and is the result of our pets’ ancestors adapting to the independent and wild lives they once lived in an environment which was very different to your safe, warm home.
The History of the Paw
Before our pets were domesticated, they had to defend themselves to stay alive while hunting for their own food. Many of the traits that helped them do that haven’t changed, staying with the species’ throughout evolution. This includes the paw.
Dogs and cats are the main paw-ed animals that may come to mind. But before we had house cats and dogs, there were generations of wild cats and wolves. The purpose of the paw is largely related to sound and shock absorption. The fatty tissue inside the pads helps animals jump and land without pain or noise, especially helpful for silently hunting prey in the wild while protecting limbs from impact.
The paw pads are also much rougher when the animal is subject to extreme surfaces day in, day out. This assists with grip in treacherous or slippery conditions, working in a similar way to human shoes. For our domestic pets, the paw pads are often much smoother as conditions are easier underfoot. Some dog breeds still have webbed feet to help them swim, an adaptation that wolves passed on and still benefit from.
While paws are well adapted for walking and jumping around, debris can sometimes get stuck in the paw pads and cause pain. If you spot your pet chewing at their paw or limping and lifting it off the ground, carefully check their paw pad for any stones or splinters that may need removing. If your rabbit or guinea pigs paws look sore it could be a sign that their bedding is too scratchy.
What can the paw tell us?
Did you know, that some animals use their paw pads to keep cool and release sweat? So damp paw prints could mean your pet needs some help cooling down.
Pet’s paws can sometimes tell us a little bit about how they are feeling, too. For example, cats will knead blankets, beds, pillows and even humans with their paws when they are feeling happy and content. There’s lots of reasons why this may be; it might remind them of nursing from their Mother, they could be trying to create a cosy spot to sleep, or they could be using the scent glands in their paw pads to mark their territory.
Have you also noticed your cat doesn’t like their paws to be touched? This is because the pads are extremely sensitive to touch, but some cats can be trained to tolerate their paws being touched, often easier if done from a young age, so if your cat does let you touch their paws it could be a sign of trust.
More info here and here.
This entry was posted in Cats
One of the great things about the Omlet Outdoor Cat Run is how extremely versatile it is. The run in itself can be modified to fit the space you’ve got and the need of your cats, but it doesn’t stop there! We constantly see creative and and fun ways of using the run, and we thought we might share some that could inspire you, whether you’re getting a run for the first time, or are just looking for ways to getting the run ready for spring!
When it comes to decorating the cat run there are practically no limits. Allow your cats to do all the things like like on the run, whether it is climbing, playing, running, scratching, hiding, or just lounging in a hammock. You can make the run even more practical with run covers that allow you cat enjoy the run in all weathers, or a chair for you to sit on while you’re spending time with your furbabies. We also love all the (catfriendly) flowers and plants that customers add to the run to make it blend in to the garden even more!
CONNECT IT TO THE HOUSE
The cat run comes with four walls, but is robust enough to be stable with only three of them. If you manage to find a way to secure the open end to the house, this is another way of allowing the cats to move between inside and outside at their own will. This amazing set up is from a customer in Denmark, with a special kitty entrance from the basement into the run in the garden, where by the looks of things both humans and felines will enjoy spending time. By combining clear and heavy duty covers they have also made sure the cats are safe from both rain and sun while out on the run.
WORK WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT
This German customer decided to build their run around a small tree in the garden. This way you get around most of the decorating of the run, as the tree will act as both a climbing post, and provide shade during sunny days. Ideal!
RUN ON WHEELS
The modular design of the cat run does mean that it’s possible to move it whenever needed. If you just want to shift it to a different spot in the garden you can invite some neighbours around and lift the whole run, and if you’re moving house or want to use the space for something else for a while, you can take it down and pack it up into pieces that are easy to store, ready for when it’s next needed.
However, this French customer didn’t think either of these solutions were good enough, and decided to build a platform with wheels, so that the run can be pushed around on the patio to find the perfect sun/shade ratio, or have the cat either relaxing in a corner away from the hustle and bustle, or close to the house for a more sociable time in the fresh air.
Again, a DIY specialist will be able to help you find what you need for this. Our advice would be to make sure you fasten the run on the platform, and that you choose wheels which can be locked to stop the run from rolling into the neighbours’ garden in strong winds!
If you run out of space in one direction – turn a corner! This amazing feline haven might just be the best thing we’ve ever seen! The different resting places, the play tunnels, the toys, the decorative pebbled outline – who wouldn’t want to spend their days here?
Have you got a cat run? Send us photos of your set up, and you can feature in future posts!
This entry was posted in Cats
Cats love trees, they love things that hang and dangle, and they love shiny objects. With this said it’s not difficult to understand how your beautifully decorated Christmas Tree will seem like a wonderful playground to your furry friend. But a toppled tree will not only make a lot of mess, it can also hurt your cat, so it’s best to do everything you can to keep your curious cat away from your holiday evergreen. Here are our best tips:
Choose the right tree and the right position
If you’re having a real tree, choose one with sharp needles, like a Scots Pine, that the cat will want to keep their paws far away from. Hoover up the fallen pine needles every day, as they can cause serious pain if they get stuck between paw pads.
Place the tree somewhere away from bookcases, sofas and other furniture that the cats might use as a platform to pounce from.
Secure the tree
To make sure the tree doesn’t topple over and fall if the cats were to get hold of it, make sure you choose a stand with a wide base that can take some potential swinging. Depending on your set up, you might also be able to tie a piece of strong fishing line to the top of the tree and connect it to the ceiling.
Don’t tempt fate
When you’re at work, or in bed, close the door to the room with the tree to stop the cat from playing with it. Ideally you will be able to give the cat access to the rest of the house, but if you have to lock them in a room, make sure it’s big enough for them and that they have everything they need.
Go top heavy on the ornaments
Try not to place too many ornaments at the bottom of the tree where you cat can reach, especially not ones that are precious to you, or that would automatically break if they fell off. One idea is to get ornaments that make noises, like bells, and place them on the lower half of the tree. Not only will this potentially stop your cat from going further up the tree, you will also hear when the cat has approached, and can interfere before any damage is done.
You can also secure ornaments by using wire hangers, or plier ones that you can clamp around the branch. These will be more difficult for your cat to pull off.
Things cats don’t like
Cats hate the scent of oranges, so to discourage them from approaching the tree, you can put orange peels around the base. You can also wrap tin foil around the trunk of the tree. Cats don’t like the sensation of putting their paws on it or the crinkling noise it makes. This works better if you have a kitten or a younger cat, but it’s worth trying.
Secure the electrics
Some cats will nibble on the cables to the lights, which can hurt them or become potential fire hazards. Consider investing in pet-proof cord protectors, use duct tape to secure the cables to the floor or the wall, or use battery powered lights without long cables.
Skip the tinsel
Don’t use tinsel if you have a cat in the house. Tinsel is extremely attractive to cats, and they will pull it down and spread it all over the house. If ingested, it can also cause the cat serious injuries, so it’s best avoided.
This entry was posted in Cats
Is your friend or someone in your family what some might refer to as a crazy cat person? Or are you struggling to find something to give a dog, or a dog owner, for Christmas? Fur-tunately we have some paw-fect gifts for all budgets!
Everyone knows that a dog is for life, not for Christmas, but if you or someone close to you are introducing a four-legged friend to the family in the new year you will be able to give the dog the warmest of welcomes with a Fido Nook, the world’s most luxurious dog bed. The Nook will be a safe spot for your dog to return to for a nap or just some peace and quiet, and you can add the removable crate if you’re planning to crate train your puppy.
The neat freak who gets stressed about mess in the house will fully appreciate the Nook’s integrated wardrobe, which allows you to store all your dog’s things in one place. No more treats in kitchen drawers, tennis balls under sofa cushions or leads on the hallway floor! The pawfect present for both human and canine!
Are you buying for someone who’s already got a Nook for their dog? Fill the wardrobe with any of the Nook accessories: the bed, clothes rail, storage box, shelf, bowl or mirror, now all with 25% off!
You could also get them some other bits and bobs to decorate the den for Christmas, such as fairy lights or a mini wreath.
Does your mum come down to breakfast in the morning complaining about how the cat kept her up all night moving around on the bed? If you treat her to the luxury indoor cat house Maya Nook this Christmas, the cat will get a secure den of their own to sleep in, and your mum’s beauty sleep won’t be disturbed. The optional curtains are not just a beautiful decorative touch, they also provide the cat with a secluded space to fully relax in. Choose the stylish charcoal grey fabric, or use our custom made pattern and a Christmassy fabric of your choice to add a festive touch to the home.
The practical wardrobe for the Maya Nook can be used to store all things cat, like toys, food, treats and grooming products, so that clearing up for that Christmas party will be quicker than ever.
Not all cats are able to roam the streets at their leisure, whether it’s because of old age, illness or some particularly nasty neighbours. Does your cat loving friend however still want their cat to breathe fresh air, hear bird song and feel the breeze in their fur? Then Omlet’s Outdoor Cat Run might be the best gift they have ever received. This run provides a fully secure and escape proof space for the cat to enjoy, fits all types of gardens or patios, and is big enough for your friend to spend time together with their cat outside in the sunshine.
Buy the cat run, now with 10% off in our Star Buys!
This entry was posted in Cats
Let’s start with the most important thing – the turkey. The smell of the bird is going to be irresistible to pets, and they will try anything to get their paws on some meat. Never give your pet raw turkey, due to the high risk of salmonella from raw poultry. If you want to give your pet something, limit the treat to small amounts of cooked meat, but it’s best avoided completely.
The carcass will be almost as tempting, especially when it comes to dogs, but the bones could cause serious injuries to their digestive system. Never leave the carcass out on the kitchen counter or in a trash bag on the floor where your determined dog or cat can get to it. To minimise the risk of illness and injuries, it’s best to dispose of the carcass in a secure trash bag and take it out as soon as you’ve finished with it. Remember to add any wrapping or string that the bird came with or that you have used while cooking it. Don’t underestimate how nice that smell is to your pets, and how hard they will try to get to it!
OTHER HUMAN FOOD
Too much people food can cause stomach problems, and in bad cases inflammation of the pancreas. Our festive food is often too fatty, too salty and too sugary for pets (not to mention poisonous in some cases), and they are better off not having any of it.
If you want to spoil your pet for Thanksgiving, why not give them a new toy or a nutritious treat that has been especially designed for their species?
If you’re crossing state lines or international borders, your pet will need an updated health certificate from your vet. Read up on the requirements for the states you will be visiting or passing through, and make sure your pet is good to go. Ideally this should be done a few weeks in advance so you have time to get an appointment with your vet.
While traveling, take regular breaks and make sure that you’re pet is safe and comfortable while you’re on the move. Depending on how long you’re going to be away for and what pet you have, it might be more convenient for both you and your pet to leave them behind and ask a neighbor or a friend to check in on them while you’re away.
UPDATED TAGS AND MICROCHIPS
Whether you’re travelling somewhere your pet hasn’t been before or you have guests going in and out of your home over the holidays, the risk of them getting lost or running away is much greater than normal. Make sure your pet is chipped and that the information is up to date.
While some absolutely love it, a lot of pets can get nervous when lots of new, unfamiliar people visit. If your pet is on the nervous side you might want to make sure they have somewhere set aside for them where they can go if they’re feeling stressed or need a break from all the hustle and bustle.
A crate is a perfect place of safety for a dog, but a cat will also love a cosy den to curl up in. Give them their favourite toy and some water, and let them relax in their pet haven for a while.
If you have people coming over, make sure they are aware of the rules concerning the pets. Show them which doors and windows need to be shut, tell them when they should leave your pet alone and when it’s okay to approach, and let them know that they should not feed the pets leftovers.
Lots of plants and flowers that we use for decorations around Thanksgiving can be harmful to pets. Cats are often more at risk as they can reach most decorations, and are more likely to try to nibble a centrepiece, or that bouquet you put on the side table, but dogs and smaller animals like rabbits and hamsters can also suffer.
Try to choose flowers that are not poisonous, or that don’t cause gastrointestinal upset. When it comes to decorations such as pine cones, cornucopias, candles and flameless lights, be sure to keep them out of pets’ reach as much as possible. Never leave your pets unsupervised in a room with candles or an open fire.
This entry was posted in Cats
Contact neighbours to check sheds and garages
Before you go for a full search party, try contacting your neighbours and ask them to check their garages and sheds to see if your cat has accidentally got locked in. As you’re walking around the neighbourhood, call the cat’s name and listen out if you can hear a cry from any garages.
Make sure someone is home
If you don’t have a cat flap, make sure someone is at home while you’re out searching just in case your cat decides to come back. Some cats do just like to go for a walkabout for a few days. If the weather takes a turn and it starts to rain, it can be heartbreaking to think of your pet out in the cold weather, but actually bad weather can help as it will drive your cat home as it seeks shelter.
Go out searching
If you know your cat, you will know where their favourite hang out is. Make sure you head along to their most frequented spots and take a box of treats with you to loudly shake and call their name.
Put up posters
Make sure you put up posters locally, including lampposts, notice boards in shops and post through peoples doors to spread the word and make them more aware.
Make sure they are collared and chipped
If your cat is chipped, then if they’re taken to a vets the vet can call you and reunite you asap. If they are not, make sure you call all of the local vets and check your cat hasn’t been brought in.
Put up a post on your social media similar to your physical poster and ask friends and family to share it. Also message your local community Facebook groups to get them to post about the missing cat.
Let your other cat help
If you have another cat, it can be tempting to keep them locked in whilst the other one is missing due to your worry. Don’t do this! Make sure your other cat is allowed out exploring as they normally do, more often than not they will lead you to your other cat who might potentially be trapped or injured. Also if you follow your other cat it will give you an idea where they normally spend their days.
Use smart front door cameras
Front door cameras such as Nest and Ring will often pick up any movement going past their house including animals. Check with your neighbours if anyone has one and ask them to look at motion alerts from the time you last saw your cat.
If you move house
To avoid your cat getting lost when you move house, keep them indoors for at least 3 weeks to avoid them getting disoriented or trying to head back to their previous territory. This time indoors allows them to settle and regard the new house as ‘home’ marking their scent.
You can also rub butter on your cats paws on the first day you arrive, instead of stressing and trying to dart out the door your cat will enjoy sitting down and licking the butter off its paws thereby slowly becoming familiar with their surroundings.
Whilst they’re kept indoors, keep sprinkling some of their used cat litter around the garden so that it warns off other cats and also is a familiar scent for them when you do let them outdoors. Once you do let them out, do it just before a usual mealtime, if they’re hungry they will more likely come back to the sound of dinner rattling in the box or packet.
The need and want to return to their old home can be very strong for a cat, particularly if the house isn’t very far away. Make sure the new owners have your contact details in case your cat returns.
This entry was posted in Cats
Some cats would rather have an early night on a warm sofa than a long night out on the tiles. The Persian, the Ragdoll and the Russian Blue, for example, all view the world beyond the window as a hazard rather than something irresistible on the other side of the cat flap.
Breeds such as the hairless Sphynx and the thin-coated Cornish Rex and Devon Rex struggle at both ends of the weather scale, burning in strong sunlight and shivering in the cold.
Other breeds, such as Burmese, Korat and Siamese love being outside and will soon become stressed and destructive if forced to live behind closed doors.
Many others mix and match as the mood takes them. For example, you’ll never see an Abyssinian cat more content than when she’s curled up in a favourite armchair – until you’ve seen her rolling blissfully on the lawn.
But no matter where your feline friend sits on the Coach Potato/Great Outdoors scale, one thing they all love is warmth. For an outdoor cat in the UK this is no problem from – let’s be optimistic – the back end of March to the middle of October. But when the temperature drops and the frosty mornings bite, every cat needs somewhere to warm its paws.
An Indoor Haven
You don’t need to have the central heating blasting out to keep your cat from shivering. A cosy spot to curl up in, away from drafts, hustle and bustle, will do the trick. It could be something as simple as a box with a blanket, or a safe space under the cupboard – or even on top of it. Best of all, a tailor-made cat bed will maximise cosiness and heat retention.
Another custom-made option is the Maya Nook. This transforms your cat’s cosy corner into a piece of attractive furniture, providing snuggling space for your pets, and with curtains that keep it all nice and private. The Maya Nook also has an optional wardrobe attachment, for keeping cat food, toys and other feline bits and pieces tidied away.
Even without the heating cranked up, the enclosed nature of the Maya Nook makes it the perfect hot spot at any time of the year.
An Outdoor Haven
If you have the kind of cat who craves the outdoors no matter what the weather, and who sometimes likes to sleep rough in the garden, there are things you can do to make their life a little comfier.
A box-with-a-blanket in a shed or other outbuilding, or a covered area in a quiet corner, can all give the bare minimum of cosiness that no outdoor cat can resist. Even a little dry area under a trampoline or climbing frame can do the trick.
If you have an Omlet Cat Run, you can put a covered snoozing area in one of the corners. That keeps things snug and safe for a cat who likes being outside, but who has a tendency to disappear or wonder into danger.
If your cat still suffers the shivers in winter, you could buy a cat jacket. These can be particularly useful for hairless breeds such as the Sphynx.
Best of all, though, there is that perennial favourite warm spot that can help a cat through the longest of winters – your lap!
This entry was posted in Cats
Cats have a reputation for being aloof, and for not getting over-excited when they see you. All this really means is that they’re not like dogs! Cats actually form very strong bonds with their beloved owners, and the subtlety of their affection is all part of the feline charm. So, you know it’s true love if your cat…
1. Greets you when you open the door.
The welcoming meow, the erect tale, the eager trot towards you… if that’s not a happy cat, we don’t know what is! Some cats even acquire an uncanny knack for predicting your arrival, sitting by door or window and waiting for you before there’s any sight or sound of you in the street. But you’ll need to verify that psychic trick with one of the other humans in the house…
2. Enjoys being stroked.
While it’s true that some cats just love being stroked no matter who’s doing the stroking, many don’t like being manhandled at all. If your cat shies away from an over-friendly stranger or discourages them with a claw or two, but lets you stroke her, that’s definitely love.
3. Grooms you.
You might not particularly like being licked by your cat’s sandpaper-like tongue, but it’s a sign of affection nonetheless. It means your cat sees you as her family, a parent figure.
4. Gazes at you.
If your cat looks into your eyes without turning away, she is completely relaxed in your company. A long, slow blink is a good sign too. A cat will normally interpret staring as a sign of aggression, and will look away (or run away). If she’s relaxed enough to meet your gaze lovingly, take it as a great compliment!
5. Head-butts you.
Cats rub against humans and furniture with little discrimination. However, a full-on head-butt rub is a sign of affection, and doesn’t just mean she wants some food!
6. Brings you presents.
Okay, this isn’t your cat’s most endearing habit, but the ‘gift’ of rodents – dead, half-dead or very much alive – is a sign that they feel secure and at home, according to some experts. There’s also a school of thought that interprets it as affection. Sort of. It’s something a mother cat would do for her kittens, teaching them how to handle prey.
7. Meows a lot.
Cats are thought to have a special ‘meow’ for humans. If your cat mews, gurgles and vocalises a lot in your presence, she’s telling you how much she loves you.
8. Gives you the twitchy tail treatment.
When your cat walks up to you, tail erect and twitching, she’s letting you know how pleased she is to see you. Sometimes it’s because she knows its food time, but it’s often simple affection.
9. Falls asleep on you.
Cats are always wary, and need to feel super-secure when choosing a sleeping spot. If they choose you as their bed, take it as a sign of complete trust and contentment.
10. Sticks her bottom in your face.
Cats have scent glands on their rear ends, a kind of scented ID. If your pet presents you with her behind, it means you’re a friend. Don’t feel you have to reciprocate, though…
11. Shows her belly.
A cat that rolls on its back and invites you to rub its tummy is very chilled, and views you as a friend and playmate. But that doesn’t mean she won’t use her claws in the belly-rubbing game that follows, so watch out!
Cats purr for their kittens, and for their human friends. No on else.
13. Gently nibbles you.
The soft nibble of a friendly cat is very different from an aggressive bite. Some cats use this oral greeting as a means of bonding with their human friends. Some owners, however, discourage it, as even a gentle nibble can be a little uncomfortable if the cat gets over enthusiastic.
14. Follows at your heels.
If it’s not food time, this behaviour is a sign of pure affection. The cat simply wants to be with you. Some cats tag along with their owners outdoors, and many are very happy to follow their best friends to bed. Once you’ve let them adopt this habit, it’s a hard one to break!
15. Kneads you.
If your cat needs you, she may also knead you… This behaviour is thought to originate in kittens, pawing their mums to stimulate milk flow. If your cat does it to you, take it as a sign of affection, bonding and trust. Love, in other words!
This entry was posted in Cats
Have you ever found your dog or cat curled up in some tiny, enclosed places around the house when the weather gets cold? Perhaps under the bed, behind the sofa, or even in an empty box? This is because when the temperature drops, most of their usual snoozing spots become very cold and are exposed to chilly drafts. You can help your pet find a more comfortable and warm space for naps in winter by creating a snuggly den that they can call their own. Read on to find out how…
Find a cosy corner of your home
Keep an eye on your pet’s favourite places to curl up for naps, they will probably be showing you their preferred spot for feeling secure so they can completely relax without keeping one eye open. This should be in a warm room in your house where they will have some company, but not so much that they will be kept awake or interrupted frequently. If you have young children in the house, you might want to consider a room that the little ones have little access to.
Find the perfect bed
Sleeping on your bed or sofa might be your dog or cat’s usual spot for comfort and cosiness, but unless they sneak under the covers, they will likely still be exposed to those pesky drafts, never mind the fact your bed will be victim to muddy paw prints! Placing their bed within something else to create a ‘den’ is an ideal solution.
The Fido Nook Dog House and Maya Nook Cat House offer just that. Designed like a piece of furniture, the Nook offers a much more secure space where your pet’s bed can be slightly raised off the ground and concealed further by the roof to limit drafts and maximize comfort. The Nook is also available with curtains which can be attached to the front and back for further warmth and cosiness. For more anxious pet’s who may get worried by loud noises and fireworks, the curtains provide extra security and the feeling of being hidden, without your pet needing to get stuck behind the sofa!
To complete your pet’s new den, you need to carefully pick the perfect cosy bed for them. You probably already have some idea of what your pet does and doesn’t like to sleep on. The Classic Fido bed offers a simple, mattress-like bed for your pet to relax into without feeling enclosed or overheating.
Add the finishing touches
A cosy den isn’t complete without blankets and cushions. Finally, pop your pet’s favorite cuddly toy inside to make the new den really feel like home!
This entry was posted in Cats
When your cat has access to the outdoors it will usually manage to get plenty of exercise by him or herself. If this is not the case and you decide to keep your cat indoors, you will probably need to encourage your pet to exercise. Ensuring your cat is getting enough exercise, in combination with a complete and balanced diet, is vital for their health and happiness. A cat won’t exercise as readily as a dog, but there are a few strategies that will help you keep your cat active and mobile.
Cat trees and scratching posts
Cat trees and scratching posts are ideal places for play (and sleeping…). You can encourage playing and climbing by placing your cat’s favorite treats on various levels of the tree. If you don’t want to use food as an encouragement, you can hang your cat’s favorite toy just high enough so he needs to climb the tree to reach the toy.
Exercise wheels are a relatively new cat product which provide both mental and physical stimulation. The wheels are entirely cat-driven, so by using it your cat will train his muscles and burn calories. It often requires training for your cat to build up confidence and to learn how to use the indoor cat wheel. High energy breeds like Bengals and Sphynx tend to learn the easiest.
In their natural environment, cats have to hunt for their food and eat about twelve times a day. Most cat owners just put food into a bowl and walk away. You can add some excitement and activity into feeding time by using a food ball. This is a ball the size of a tennis ball, in which you can put dried cat food. As the cat pushes and bats the ball the food will gradually fall out.
An indoor cat will need plenty of stimulation and play to prevent them becoming bored. Even the simplest toys can provide hours of entertainment. Cats play to mimic their natural hunting behavior, although not all cats have the same motivation to play. Just find out what toys your cat likes and dislikes by trying toys with different textures, shapes, sizes, noises and scents. Most cats enjoy interacting with their owner and playtime is a great way to develop the bond between you and your pet.
Nepeta Cataria is a plant that is commonly known as catnip or catmint because of the intense attraction about two-thirds of cats, especially males, have towards it. The response seems to be a kind of euphoria, similar to how humans respond to hallucinogenic drugs, although catnip is neither harmful nor addictive for felines. You can make classic cat toys more interesting by filling them with catnip or using a catnip spray. Usually the effects of catnip last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, depending on the cat.
Some cats go wild for laser toys. The intensity and length of the sessions should depend on the cat’s age and physical condition. Don’t shine laser pointers directly into your cat’s eyes and at the end of the playtime, gradually slow down the beam until it comes to rest on a soft toy the cat can catch to avoid frustration.
This entry was posted in Cats
Cats are busy sending messages to each other even when they’re silent. They live in a world of visual clues and scents, and sound is only one piece of the puzzle.
Fascinatingly, it seems that the familiar meowing and purring is something they have developed mainly to communicate with humans, not fellow cats. Studies of feral cats show that they meow and purr far less frequently when there are no people around.
These specifically feline-to-human modes of communication show just how long our two species have been together. Thousands of years, in fact.
Cats have a trilling meow, used as a general greeting for other cats, and also used by mums to call their kittens. They also produce a trilling-chirruping sound when watching potential prey or stalking. The pleading, drawn-out “mee-owww!” is something they reserve for us – to get our attention and encourage us to interact with them.
Cats are loners at heart. They growl and yowl at each other, usually to say “back off!”, or “Here I am!” At its most extreme this vocalisation becomes a wailing scream, when two tomcats face off in the street. A female cat in heat also produces a piercing ‘caterwaul’.
A commoner sound of anger or anxiety is the hiss, sometimes escalating into a growling, spitting sound – usually culminating in an attack. Cats will also yowl when they are in physical distress.
A Tale of Cat Tails
For everyday communication, the body is used more than the vocal cords. A cat’s tail acts like a flag waved on a stick. If it’s upright, the cat is feeling chilled out and friendly. Cats often bend the tip of their upright tail forward when approaching a cat they like. A full tail twitch means the cat is feeling indecisive, but if the upright tail swings back and forth, the animal is relaxed.
If the tail lashes back and forth the cat is stalking something, or is curious. A swishing tail can also indicate the early stages of anger.
It’s when the tail fluffs out, and the cat’s hair stands on end as if it has received an electric shock, that the cat is at its most stressed. The cat is feeling threatened, and the hair-standing-on-end response is an attempt to make the animal look bigger, to scare away other cats, dogs, or whatever else is freaking out the furious feline.
If the cat is not yet sure of the various signals from its fellow felines, and therefore feeling a bit uncertain or uncomfortable, it will crouch down with its tail tucked tightly in by its side. It will stay in this position while it weighs up the situation. Alternatively, the cat might decide that discretion is the better part of valor and simply leg it!
A truly chilled and submissive cat will roll over and show her belly to the other cat. This is a signal familiar in dogs too.
The Eyes Have It
Cats also signal their mood with their eyes. A hard stare means they are focused on a danger or prey, and may also mean that they haven’t decided whether it’s a ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ situation.
A slow blink is a sign of affection, and also of submission. What it generally means is “I’m no threat to you, you’re no threat to me, and I like it that way!”
If the cat blinks, looks away and crouches with flattened ears and a nervous licking of the lips, it means she’s feeling threatened or scared.
The flattened ears are a general sign of uncertainty or anger. A happy cat has relaxed ears; and when focused on a toy, a sound or prey, the ears are erect and face forward.
Mutual grooming, nose-touching and gentle, friendly bites are happier forms of physical cat communication.
Scent is important to cats. They leave pheromone signals across their territory, both in the home and outside, by rubbing things with their scent glands. These are found on the cat’s cheeks, which is why it likes rubbing its head on your leg. This is a form of affection, you could argue, but its main aim is to spread the pheromone messages. Cats also have scent glands where the tail joins the body, which is a less appealing region to be rubbed by!
Tom cats will often spray urine in their territory. Indoors this is uncommon, thankfully, but may become an issue if a strange cat has ventured into the building. Neutering usually brings an end to this macho, territorial habit.
Much of this communication behavior stems from the fact that cats are not pack animals. They need their personal space, and only invite others into it – feline or human – when they’re in the mood. How Do Cats Communicate With Each Other?
Learn to recognize the animal’s vocal and body language, and you’ll soon be able to ‘speak cat’ yourself, to a certain extent!
This entry was posted in Cats
Fill your Instagram feed with these purrfect kitties and get double tapping!
Dewy’s big, beautiful eyes will have you smitten kitten!
Ever felt infurior to a beautiful cat? Look away now…
Nathan is cat mom goals!
Be prepared to get incredibly jealous of this classy cat’s moustache…
Get lost in these Russian Blues’ green eyes…
So soft! So fluffy!
Zappa is cooler than all of us. No arguments.
We are envious of these guys’ cattitude.
Can we be best friends with Mr Pickles, please?
Last but not least, the incredible Maine Coon Queens!
This entry was posted in Cats
Elderly pet-owners will need a little help looking after their furry or feathered friends. Shopping for pet food, training, grooming, and cleaning out cages and litter trays are all factors to be considered.
If a pet falls ill, it will need taking to a vet, or medication may have to be given. Lack of transport and shaky hands can suddenly become problems in these circumstances.
The level of assistance needed will, of course, depend very much on the physical and mental health of the pet owner.
But in spite of these considerations, pets and older people are a perfect match – as long as you get the right pet!
Pets to Avoid
For many older people, owning a pet is all about companionship. So, although an iguana, goldfish or tarantula may be low maintenance, they don’t exactly exude personality and friendship. Reptiles, fish and insects can therefore be placed in the category ‘Dedicated Enthusiasts Only’.
Rodents are not ideal choices, either. They are fast moving, and can easily escape from an open cage. Some, such as the hamster, are largely nocturnal too, losing several points on the ‘companionship’ scale.
The Best Bird Companions
Small cage birds make good pets for seniors. Larger species such as parrots are long-lived, and this can present mounting problems if an owner becomes increasingly frail with the passing years.
A budgie is a good option. These birds are intelligent, easily hand-tamed, and once trained they will return to their cage unassisted after playing and flying indoors. Some also learn to talk, which reinforces the companionship enormously. Add to this the fact that their cages can be kept on holders at shoulder-height, with easy access for cleaning and feeding, and you have the perfect pet for older people.
Canaries and other pet finches can be good choices too, but it has to be said that they lack the big personality, trainability and talkativeness of budgies. There are other plus points, though, notably the beautiful song of the canary.
The Best Cat Companions
In many ways the cat is an ideal pet for seniors. But it isn’t just a question of arriving at Gran’s door with a kitten and expecting everything to be fine!
A kitten will need to be house-trained, and won’t instantly be the placid lap-loving cat that many elderly owners will be looking for. An older cat, on the other hand, will have ‘grown in’ to its personality. You could choose a placid, indoor-loving coach-potato breed such as the Persian, Russian Blue or Ragdoll if laps and cuddles are the priority.
Ideally the cat should still be given access to the outdoors to prevent the chore of cleaning a litter tray every day. In this respect one of the ideal breeds is the Abyssinian. Super-friendly and incredibly tame, they are also lovers of the great outdoors, mixing and matching house and garden perfectly.
If a cat is being adopted from a previous home, you will be able to find out all about its personality. Many ‘moggies’ of a non-specific breed turn out to be the perfect pet for seniors, after a little investigation into the animal’s background.
Bear in mind, though, that cats can live up to 20 years – a big time commitment if someone is already worrying about health and mobility in later life. But once again, this is where the animal’s independence becomes a great asset. Most cats, even though they love their owners, can pretty much look after themselves.
The Best Dog Companions
For an elderly person with mobility, dogs are a great pet choice. Several breeds thrive with just a little daily exercise. Many of these are at the smaller end of the scale – dogs such as the Miniature Poodle, Shih Tzu, Maltese, Bichon Frise, and good-natured individuals from the West Highland and Yorkshire Terrier families. Smaller dogs have smaller appetites too – a major consideration if money is an issue.
However, some smaller dogs can be very yappy or snappy – not a great combination. Breeds to beware of for these reasons include Chihuahua, Jack Russell, and Dachshund.
If the owner is still able to walk a mile or two a day, a Golden Retriever makes a great choice. But with all breeds you need to bear in mind longevity – a dog that needs walking at six months old may still be demanding walkies at 15.
Pets For Therapy
It’s a well known fact that pets are therapeutic. Some care homes hold regular pet therapy sessions in which residents spend quality time with cats, dogs, and other tame animals.
Pets bring positive benefits for mental health across all age groups, and can also prevent loneliness becoming a problem. We all need affection, and pets deliver it with no questions asked!
However, having a pet-handling session in a care home is a different proposition to an elderly person keeping a pet in their own home. All animals need a certain amount of looking after, and if mobility is an issue, even a simple chore such as cleaning a cage can become difficult. In these circumstances, seniors will need a little assistance.
But if you get it right, a pet can bring so many positives into an elderly person’s life – companionship, stimulation, stress relief, and that most important human need of all: love.
This entry was posted in Cats
The arrival of a baby in a household turns things upside down. That’s certainly how it can seem to your pets. A dog may find there’s less time for walks and playing, and a cat may suddenly be ousted from her favorite sleeping places in the bedroom or on your lap, due to the presence of the baby.
It’s important to get your pets used to the idea of having the newcomer around, along with the changes in routine that go with it. And ideally the preparation needs to start before the baby is born.
Prenatal Pet Training
In the months leading up to the birth, spend slightly less time with your cat or dog – particularly if they are used to lazing in your lap or sitting by your feet demanding attention.
If your dog is not fully trained at this point, fill in the gaps with some training sessions. Get an expert in to help out, if necessary. Your dog needs to know the basic ‘Sit’, ‘Stay’ and ‘Leave it’ commands, at the very least. It’s essential that the humans in the house reinforce their roles as Alphas in the pack.
A new baby will bring new sounds and smells to the house. You can get your pets ready for this by inviting mums and dads with babies or toddlers to call in for coffee. Play a recording of a crying baby to acclimatize pets’ ears, and switch on any noisy new toys, mobiles, swings or other baby-related apparatus. Let your pets sniff a nappy and a cloth with a few drops of baby oil on it. Familiarity is half the battle.
Get Your Pet Vet-Ready
A neutered pet is a calmer pet, and less likely to bite. This is especially true with males. When neutered, they are less likely to view the baby as a rival. Arrange for a vet to perform the operation, if the pet is not yet neutered. And while you’re there, make sure Puss and Fido are up to date with their vaccinations, worm-free, and generally in tip top health.
Babies bring lots of unpredictability to a household, and old routines soon break down. There’s nothing wrong with this, but a pet who’s set in his ways may not take kindly to sudden change. Break him in by varying feeding times, blocking off no-go areas with a baby gate, or perhaps hiring a dog walker.
If the human mum-to-be has always been the pet’s chief companion, it’s handy if you can introduce another ‘favourite’ into its life. This could be a partner, older child or friend – anyone able to spend quality time with the animal.
Introducing the Baby
Before letting a dog or cat see the baby, let them sniff a blanket and a soiled nappy. Try not to show any nervousness when bringing the baby into the house for the first time, as pets will pick up on the bad vibes.
To make the first introduction, sit with the baby in your arms – ideally in a ‘neutral’ room, one where the pet doesn’t usually go – and let the dog or cat approach in its own good time (and one at a time, if you have multiple pets). Don’t force the issue. Have some treats ready to reward good behavior.
You can reinforce the positive associations by treating a dog whenever it’s around you and the baby. That way your pet will come to associate the baby with good things (i.e. food!) A cat will need less fuss in this respect, and will simply equate the baby with you, logging it as something not to worry about.
Whenever there’s any interaction between baby/toddler and pet, make sure there’s an adult around to keep an eye on the situation.
Special Notes For Cats
A docile cat needs to get used to the new baby, and to keep away when it’s asleep. A more flighty cat should simply be kept away. Toddlers seem to have an instinct for grabbing handfuls of pet fur, and a nervous cat may react by scratching. A cat flap with a lock can be handy in the early days, to keep puss outdoors at key times.
Many cats dislike a baby’s crying, and will disappear when the screaming begins. This is very handy! Make sure there’s a quiet, safe spot for them, away from the mayhem. The Maya Nook is a perfect solution to give your cat some privacy.
Cats feel exposed and nervous when they eat, so you should keep a toddler away from the place where your pet is feeding. It should also go without saying that you should prevent young ‘uns from rummaging in the litter tray too!
Special Notes For Dogs
All dogs will need to be well-trained, in a situation where trust is so fundamental. Some dog breeds are very rarely going to be friendly with children, though. A dog bred over hundreds of years for aggression is NOT a dog you should have in the family home. ‘Snappy’ breeds such as Jack Russel, Dachshund or Chihuahua can be problematic too, but you probably know your dog best.
A treat-based puzzle toy such as a Kong ball is a useful distraction. You can give it to your dog while you spend time tending to the baby, to divert the pet’s attention.
It’s important not to abandon dog walks, as that will lead to doggy stress and frustration. It’s a case of ‘business as usual’, where ‘usual’ has simply undergone a few changes.
The dog/child relationship is a two-way process, and youngsters need training too. Teach them to be gentle with the dog, and they will have the basis for a good relationship.
And the importance of that relationship shouldn’t be underestimated. Children learn lots about friendship, respect and responsibility from interacting with animals. There is also evidence that allergies are less of an issue in kids who have been brought up with pets.
So – you’ve replaced your ‘pet baby’ with the real thing. That means big change. But when handled properly it’s a positive change, the beginning of a new chapter in the happy family home.
This entry was posted in Cats