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Category Archives: Cats

Gift Guide – For the Crazy Cat People & The Dog Lovers

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!

Fido Nook

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. 

Indoor Cat House Maya Nook with wardrobe and curtains

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. 

Outdoor Cat Run

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! 

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How to Keep Your Pets Safe This Thanksgiving

TURKEY

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?

TRAVELS

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.

SAFE SPACE

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.

RULES

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.

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What to do if Your Cat Goes Missing

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. 

Social media

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. 

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How To Make Sure Your Cat Keeps Warm This Winter

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!

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15 Signs That Your Cat Loves You

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!

12. Purrrrrrrrrs!

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!

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How to Make a Cosy Den for your Pet

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!

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How Can I Make My Lazy Cat Exercise?

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
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.

Food games
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.

Cat toys
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.

Catnip
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.

Lasers toys
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.

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How Do Cats Communicate With Each Other?

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.

Talking Cat-to-Cat

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.

Smelly Messages

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!

 

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10 Cutest Cats to Follow on Instagram

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…

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Pretty little girl 😽💕

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Nathan is cat mom goals! 

Be prepared to get incredibly jealous of this classy cat’s moustache…

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Happy Easter everyone! #mustachecat

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Get lost in these Russian Blues’ green eyes…

So soft! So fluffy!

Zappa is cooler than all of us. No arguments.

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Goodbye dear @karllagerfeld 🖤

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We are envious of these guys’ cattitude.

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Are you ready??? 🙊🙊 We have another Challenge…..😹😹 . I am the first on earth.. The second in heaven . . . . I appear twice in a week, though you can only see me once in a year .. . . WHAT AM I??🙊😹😹 . . And meowmy don’t know the answer…..😹😹 She hope you can tell her…..🙊😂 . . . Happy Double Tongue Out Tuesday ❤️. . . . . Follow #charlie_mollybirma and never miss any of our posts again😸. . . . . ———————————————- #challange #tongueout #tongueouttuesday #meowedtongueout #catswiththeirtonguesout #tot #cat #cats_of_instagram #cats_of_world #cat_delight #catoftheday #catloversclub #meowed #meow #magnificent_meowdels #bestcats_oftheworld #bestmeow #kitties #instagramcats #ilovemycat #lovecats #instacat @cat_delight @cats_of_instagram @catswiththeirtonguesout @cats_of_world_ @bestcats_oftheworld @catloversclub @cats_of_world_ @bestmeow @instacat_meows @meowed @magnificent.meowdels @kitties #kitten #cutecat #mylove #doubleup #love #mycat #twins

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Can we be best friends with Mr Pickles, please?

Last but not least, the incredible Maine Coon Queens!

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The Best Pets For Older People

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.

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Introducing A New Baby To Pet Cats And Dogs

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.

Reset Schedules

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.

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How Clever Is Your Cat? – The Omlet Cat IQ Test

Cats are famous for several things. Independence, hunting and purring, for example. But intelligence? That’s a word more commonly handed out to dogs and parrots.

But that doesn’t mean cats aren’t smart. It’s simply that they don’t show off or shout about it. Under that cool exterior, there may be a lot of brain power.

So, do you have a feline Einstein, or more of a Tired Tom?

To find out how your pet’s grey matter measures up, we’ve put together this fun Cat IQ test. Put puss through her paces and see how she compares to the other brain-fit felines out there! Add up your results in the points column and share them with your friends!


The Omlet Cat IQ Test

1 . How old is your cat?

Less than 1 year
1-5 years
5-10 years
10-15 years
Older than 15
0
1
2
1
0

The years of peak feline fitness are matched by peak brain power.

2 . Does your cat respond to its name?

Yes
No
Sometimes
Yes – along with any other word I say!
3
1
2
1

No zero points here, as a cat that knows its own name may sometimes simply choose to ignore it!

3 . Does your cat sit in the middle of the street?

Often
Sometimes
Never
0
1
2

Basic knowledge of what constitutes a dangerous place is key to cat intelligence.

4 . Does your cat run out in front of cars?

Often
Occasionally
Never
We live away from busy roads, so it’s hard to tell
0
1
2
1

Awareness of danger sorts the smart cat from the not-so-smart.

5 . Does your cat stalk and kill small animals?

Often
Occasionally
Never
Hunts, but doesn’t usually catch anything
3
2
0
1

For a cat, a hunting brain equals a clever brain.

6 . What is your cat like around people?

Loves everyone
Likes family and friends, dislikes strangers
Seems scared of everyone
Has certain people she seems to hate
Doesn’t seem interested in anybody
1
3
1
2
0

A cat that can differentiate between people is a smart puss.

7 . How does your cat react when you come home?

Pleased to see you, rubbing and meowing
Comes to check who it is, but leaves it at that
No reaction (but make sure the cat’s actually in the house before reaching this conclusion!)
3
2
1

Bright cats will be pleased to see you. 

8 . How does your pet respond to other cats in the neighbourhood?

In a friendly way
Cautiously
Aggressively
Submissively
Ignores them
1
3
2
1
0

Clever cats need to work out their place in the feline hierarchy. 

9 . How does your cat respond to strange dogs?  

Runs away
Stands its ground and hisses
Attacks
Ignores them
3
2
1
0

A smart puss knows an enemy when it sees one, and also knows when a fight isn’t worth it!

10 . Present your cat with food she’s not tried before. How does she react?  

Refuses to eat it
Sniffs cautiously, possibly with an experimental bite
Eats happily
2
3
1

Not everything is edible, and a sensible cat will show a certain amount of caution.

11 . At feeding time, put an unopened tin of food next to the food bowl. What does the cat do? 

Sits and looks at the tin, and then at you
Sniffs and/or rubs against the tin and meows
Examines the tin cautiously and then walks away
Shows no interest in the tin
3
2
1
0

Interaction with the tin suggests that the cat knows it contains food.

12 . Hold one of the cat’s favourite toys in front of her for a few seconds, and then hide it. Make sure your pet is watching as you do this. What does she then do?

Look for the toy, and find it
Look for the toy, but fail to find it
Remain sitting impassively
Walk away
3
2
0
1

Cats don’t always want to ‘play ball’, so it might be worth trying this one a few times before deciding on the result.

13 . Place a windup toy on the floor and let it ‘run’ under a chair, sofa, or other piece of furniture. What does your cat do?

Anticipates were it will emerge, either by moving there or simply watching the space
Looks at you expectantly
Gazes at the place where the toy first set off on its journey
Walks away
Looks away and takes no interest
4
3
2
1
1

A bright puss can deduce where the toy will emerge. But she might just not be in the mood!

14 . Put your shoes and coat on, as if you were about to leave. What is the cat’s reaction?

Meows or rubs against you
Goes to a window ledge to watch you leave
Seems uninterested, or walks away
2
3
1

Observant cats will recognise the clues that mean you’re about to leave the building. 

15 . Has your cat learned to – or tried to – open doors, cupboards, windows, etc?

Yes
No
2
0

Clever cats watch and work it out, soon learning that things can be opened.


Scores

The smartest cats are thought to have an IQ equivalent to a 2- or 3-year-old human. How did yours do?

5-10 – Not-So-Cool Cat – Your pet barely has a claw on the IQ scale – less catnip and more training required!

11-19 – Tired Tom – Maybe your cat was feeling a bit lazy today… and every other day, come to that!

20-28 – Purrfect Puss – nothing wrong with this score, although if your cat keeps on looking and listening it might learn even more.

29-37 – Moggy Mastermind – your pet is well above the average when it comes to knowing how the world ticks.

38-42 – Feline Einstein – only a tiny percentage of cats are this clever!

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