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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.

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: kittens! Who doesn’t love kittens?! But they come with challenges too. They need far more entertainment to keep them happy and kittenproofing the home is not easy. After all, what was impossible for the kitten yesterday is suddenly possible. Jumping on kitchen worktops for example. Sometimes what was possible yesterday is suddenly no longer possible, such as crawling underneath the sofa without getting stuck.

Kittens are curious and they will try almost everything. Knocking over plants, chewing plants, eating rubber bands or plastic or even their litter, cotton buds are great toys / chews as well, your sofa is the ideal scratching post, the list goes on and on. So yes, raising a kitten is hard work. Good thing it is a lot of fun too 🙂

How to take care of cats with kidney disease

* Originally written by me for citikiti.co.uk

From the ICatCare Conference

Chronic kidney disease is a common disease that affects over 30-40% of cats over 10 years old. This percentage is even higher in cats that are 15 years or older. Although the average lifespan of cats is roughly 12-14 years, more and more cats are now living beyond the age of 15 years (which roughly equates to a human age of 76).

My own cat is approximately 14 years old now – he is a rescue cat so we don’t know his exact age. As our cats enter into the senior stage of their life they are more prone to many diseases, chronic kidney disease being one of the most prevalent examples.

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but we can slow down the progression of the disease and cats with chronic kidney disease can still have a good quality of life.

Before discussing how we can help cats with kidney disease, let’s first briefly look at the most common symptoms of kidney disease: increased drinking and urination, reduced appetite, weight loss and lethargy. You may also notice vomiting or a bad breath.
Chronic kidney disease is diagnosed through an analysis of blood and urine samples. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prospects are of preventing further kidney injury, managing the complications and slowing the progression of the disease.

If your cat has kidney disease then your vet will discuss a plan of action with you. This will depend on the stage of progression of the disease and your cat’s specific complications. Treatment of chronic kidney disease will mainly focus on feeding your cat a specific type of diet as this is the only type of treatment we currently have that prolongs life in cats with chronic kidney disease.
What else can we do at home to make sure our cats are comfortable?

Make sure your cat is drinking plenty of water. Find out what your cat prefers. This could be drinking from a running tap or the shower, a water fountain or providing a different type of water bowl (most cats like drinking from a wide brimmed ceramic bowl. If your cat goes outside, put a ceramic bowl in the garden: quite a few cats prefer rainwater over tap water.

As cats with chronic kidney disease tend to urinate more often it is good to make sure you have multiple litter trays in various quiet places around the house. Some cats refuse to use a litter tray that isn’t clean. If you have multiple trays then your cat has multiple appropriate options when you’re at work.

And last, but not least: make sure their lives are as happy & stress-free as possible. Give your cat warm, comfortable places to hide & rest and engage with them: play with them, groom them, stroke them, etc. Remember though, you ill cat is still a cat and wants to be in charge of his life as much as possible: let him initiate the quantity and quality of your interaction and don’t overwhelm them with love

For more information about kidney disease in cats see International Cat Care’s website.