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Top Tips for Keeping Your Pet’s Heart Healthy

* From my partners at katzenworld.co.uk

The heart is one of the most important organs in the body, not only for humans, but for our furry family members too. It’s therefore crucial to keep it strong and healthy – anything that stops the heart from functioning as normal, such as changes in size, shape or rhythm, can cause problems.

PDSA Vet Nurse, Nina Downing, said “Heart problems can be fairly common and cause a wide range of symptoms – some animals can live with a heart condition for years with minimal impact on their life, while others may have severe, life-threatening symptoms. There are several things you can do to support the heart health of your four-legged friend.

Watching out for symptoms 

“There are important signs of heart disease to look out for in pets which, sadly, may worsen over time. While heart disease can’t be cured, there are treatments which can help to manage your furry family member’s symptoms and slow the progression of the disease. Things to look out for include your pet stopping or slowing down while exercising, breathing faster than normal when they are sleeping, taking a while to catch their breath after exercise, low energy, panting for longer or more often, coughing or, for cats in particular, breathing with an open mouth.  Pets struggling with a heart condition may also collapse.

Maintaining a healthy weight 

“If your furry family member is carrying extra weight, their heart has to work harder, which adds a lot of strain. Making small changes, such as weighing out their food, cutting back on unhealthy treats, and not giving in to puppy dog eyes at the table, are small changes you can make to help them maintain a healthy weight. Talk through any concerns about your pet’s weight with your vet – they may suggest a weight clinic to help support you.

Getting enough exercise 

“Exercise is a key part in keeping your pet’s heart healthy. Making sure your pooch is going for daily walks, suitable for their size, weight, and fitness ability, is really important. In between walks, have fun and play games together to help keep dogs moving.

“Cats enjoy playtime too – even if your cat is active and enjoys roaming outdoors, they will still enjoy special time with you, which will motivate them to exercise, and it’s great for bonding. If they are slightly overweight or more reluctant to move around, short play sessions are a great way to introduce a new exercise regime. You can increase the length of activities, as your cat gets fitter and more enthusiastic.

“Engaging your cat with toys, such as balls, teaser toys, wind-up chase toys, will also encourage their natural hunting instincts.

Regular vet checks  

“Catching heart problems early can make a big difference to your furry family member’s long-term health. Regular check-ups with the vet, where they can listen to your pet’s heart, can help pick up a problem before it develops.

“If you are concerned about your pet’s health, or they display any worrying symptoms between check-ups, always book an appointment so your vet can offer advice and treatment to keep your pet happy and healthy.”

From the life of a cat sitter

As you may have read before, I also work as a cat sitter.

People ask me whether I just feed and clean litter trays all day. Well, yes and no. I mean I do feed cats and clean litter trays, but there’s much more to it.
In the series of posts I’ll share some anecdotes from my life as a cat sitter. I promise these stories are all true, though the cat’s names have sometimes been changed to protect their identity 😉

Today: the cat version of Eastenders

Cats are sometimes quite literally the talk of the neighbourhood!

Jinxy is one such example. She is quite a vocal cat, always meowing for attention.

I was looking after her when I received a text from a friend who lives in the same street. The neighbours had been chatting about a cat that seemed lost and was meowing a lot. My friend wondered if I knew the cat. I said, yes that’s Jinxy and she’s not lost and she is also being fed and cuddled.

Well, the neighbours weren’t too sure as she stayed in a garden at the end of the road for quote a long time and was very vocal (did I mention she’s a chatty one?)

I’ve known Jinxy for several years and she was fine when I saw her on the morning, but still. Things happen so I thought it better to go round and check on her on my way home.

Sure enough when I arrived Jinxy was no longer on the garden at the end of the road, but people thought she’d gone into someone else’s garden. No, not there either. I went to Jinxy’s home and guess who was not lost after all? She was quite happily snoozing in her own home.

She’s been the talk of the neighbourhood on various occasions since then. Somehow I suspect she’s loving the attention…

Guide to a Cat’s Vision

* Originally written by William O’Brien for ProtectaPet

One of the first features you notice on a cat is their dazzling eyes. Not only the gorgeous colours, but the way they use them. When you see your cat trying to hunt something down, whether that be prey or a toy you are playing with, it is clear that a cat has a quality of vision that allows it to be a successfully stealthy animal. 

The quality of the eyesight of cats has been widely discussed and over time, thanks to science, we know more and more about if they can distinguish between different colours, how well they can see and the differences between the eyesight of a cat and a human.  

Can Cats See Colour?

It used to be widely believed that our feline friends are colour blind, only being able to see the world in black and white. Over the years, this theory has been proven wrong by scientists and we now know much more about what colours cats are able to detect with their striking eyes. 

There are two different types of colour receptors (cones and rods)  found within the eyes of both cats and humans. The cone receptors are linked to what we can see in the daytime and how we perceive the colours around us. The rod receptors are associated with what we can see in the dark and also our peripheral vision. Cats possess a larger amount  of rod receptors and a lower amount of cone receptors whereas humans are the opposite way round. This is why humans can’t see as well in the dark but can recognise and detect colours much better than cats.

The major difference between cats and humans is that we have three cone receptors, whereas cats have two. This is why cats won’t be able to see the world as vivid and clear as we can, however, this doesn’t mean that they are completely colour blind. The main colours that cats see is a range of blues and yellows, as well as some greens (along with white, black and grey). 

The colours that cats struggle to register are found within the orange-red spectrum, this was discovered through certain food-reward related tests which opened our eyes to what cats can and can’t see. 

What are the advantages of a cat’s vision? 

Although we may have one more cone receptor than cats do, they have more rod receptors within their eyes which makes them have excellent night vision. Cats have incredibly intelligent constructed eyes, and they are able to adapt to low light settings in a plethora of different ways. 

If you’d like to know more, check out this article about the superior night vision of a cat.

They also have a wider field of view than humans, we have a peripheral vision of 180 degrees whereas cats can see up to a 200 degree view. 

This makes them excellent hunters and of course, especially at night time. So although they may not see the vibrant array of colours that our world has to offer, they have plenty of other advantages and features related to their vision that show that they are an incredibly successful species. 

No tummy rubs, thank you

Research by Finka et al (2022) has demonstrated that many ‘cat people’ tend to pet their cats in areas the cat does not like. Their tummy being one such example. I know a cat’s tummy is soft and it is tempting to give them a tummy rub, but the vast majority of cats do not like this and will scratch you. When they lie on their backs it is a sign of trust, not an invitation to pet them. In fact, petting the tummy could be perceived as a betrayal of that trust.

From the researchers:

“Tactile interactions with cats are considered to have therapeutic benefits to humans and are increasingly included within interventional contexts to improve human wellbeing. However, cats are not considered an inherently social or highly tactile species and may have specific preferences for the ways in which they like to be touched and interacted with. Despite this, the common occurrence of human-directed aggression during interactions suggests humans’ understanding of cat behaviour and appropriate styles of interactions with cats may be limited. To address this, in a recent study, we incorporated expert understanding of ‘best practice’ styles of interactions with cats into an educational intervention for humans to use during unstructured social interactions with cats. By encouraging humans to engage in styles of interactions with cats which provided the cat with greater levels of autonomy and also emphasised focusing on the cat’s behaviour and comfort, cats responded with increased human-directed affiliative and positively-valanced behaviour, in addition to decreased rates of human-directed aggression and signs of negative affect.”

Gus & Bella’s Halloween Box

* Originally written by me for Katzenworld

It’s October and that means it’s time for Gus & Bella’s Spooky Halloween Box! This has to be my absolute favourite of all their themed boxes.

And good news for those of us who are more lazy about trick-or-treating: Gus & Bella have us covered. There’s a super cute and warm pair of black cat slippers, black cat earrings and chocolate. I’m all set for Halloween!

The food in this box is from Arden Grange. I am a big fan of these sample packages of cat food because we all know how fussy cats can be about their food. Sometimes it takes a little while to get them used to new food so you can mix the new with the old. Sample size bags can also help you decide which one your cat likes best or needs (perhaps they have a sensitive tummy or are a little bit overweight). It’s always good to try before you buy.

One thing Dirk tried (and I will definitely have to buy) is the Arden Grange Tasty Liver Treat. Careful, because the claws will come out for this treat! Dirk absolutely loves it.

Now, the best part: the cat toys! Gus & Bella always put much thought into choosing toys for different types of play behaviour. This box contains a cuddle toy, a toy to chase or bat around and a feather wand which is ideal for interactive play and hunting behaviour. Perhaps needless to say they are all Halloween themed.

Some cats have a preferred style of play of type of toys, others like all of them. In any case, it is good to switch toys every now and again because that is more stimulating and will keep your cat entertained for longer. The cuddly toy has Valerian which helps keep cats calm, not a bad idea with Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night coming up!

To get your box or order one for a friend or loved one check out Gus & Bella’s website.