Are You Thinking of Getting a Cat? Questions to Ask Yourself

* Adapted from katzenworld.co.uk

Cats are wonderful companions – just being around them is beneficial for both your physical and mental health. Stroking a cat causes your brain to release serotonin and dopamine, which helps you to feel more relaxed. Cats are also relatively low maintenance compared to other pets, although they do still need care and attention. It’s important to do your research and evaluate your lifestyle before committing to giving a cat a home, particularly if you’re considering a kitten as they can be more work than you’d expect.

Before getting a cat, ask yourself the following questions:

Do you have a stable home environment?

If you don’t own your own home, it may not be the best time to get a cat. Even if you’re renting and you’re lucky enough that your current place allows pets, it’s still risky. Renting can be unpredictable and you could be forced to move at any time, which is not only stressful for a cat, but it can be very difficult to find another home that accepts pets. You could then be faced with rehoming your cat which is heartbreaking for everyone.

Do you have enough space?

Many cat rescues or shelters will require that home inspections are carried out before they allow you to adopt a cat. They will typically have a list of criteria you have to meet – some common ones are having a cat flap, living away from any busy roads and having enough space for a cat to explore.

If you live in a small flat or apartment, you’ll need to ensure that you’re getting a breed that will be happy living indoors and doesn’t require much space to run around. This really varies depending on the cat, so it’s important to do your research.

Do you have enough time?

Although cats don’t need to be taken on daily walks, they do still need stimulation to live a healthy life. It’s up to you whether your cat is allowed outdoors or stays indoors, but if they are indoors, they will need plenty of toys and playtime to keep them entertained.

Kittens are especially time consuming. They need a lot of attention from you and a lot of play. Make sure you have plenty of safe toys for your kitten and if your kitten would be home alone all day then consider either getting an older cat or having someone come over to play with your kitten while you are at work.

Can you afford the upkeep?

With a cat comes many new expenses – food, beds, toys and vet bills. It’s a good idea to get some rough costs for each item and add up the monthly estimate to ensure that you can afford it. Vet bills are typically one-offs and can be hard to plan for, but you can make the costs more manageable and predictable by taking advantage of pet insurance.

Does anyone in your household have allergies?

If you have any doubts about a household member having a cat allergy, we would recommend trying to visit a friend with a cat or getting tested before committing to getting a cat. Cat allergies can have quite serious implications for some people and could force you to rehome your cat should someone be allergic. You can avoid this heartbreak by finding out beforehand.

If you feel you are ready for a cat, contact a breeder or cat rescue centre to help you find a cat that is best suited to living with you. After all, it is not just about your happiness, your cay’s happiness is equally important!

“Suffering Dental Pain in Silence”: A Case Study

February is Pet Dental Awareness Month, an issue close to my heart as my own cat suffers from tooth resorption. All my blog posts this month will be dedicated to dental health in cats to highlight the importance of this issue.

* Adapted from katzenworld.co.uk

Skye, an 8-year old cat with a heart murmur, who came into the Bermondsey based clinic for an oral examination, is a typical case of advanced dental issues. Her gums were very inflamed and some of the teeth were broken due to ‘tooth resorption’ where the body’s own cells destroy tooth structure.

Dr. Campbell says: “Tooth resorption is a common dental disease in cats over 4 years of age and this case highlighted how much cat’s hide their pain particularly dental pain. Skye had a very healthy appetite and had no problems with eating or ‘hunting’. Her owner is a wonderfully observant and attentive carer but it is impossible to see this far back in the mouth of even the most malleable cat without a proper oral examination by your vet or nurse.”

Dr. Campbell recommended that Skye come in for a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT)*. First, he performed a non-invasive cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography) and chest radiographs (x-rays) to investigate the cause of Skye’s heart murmur and to assess risks prior to a general anaesthetic. She was found to have structural changes in the left side of her heart but was considered to be low risk for an anaesthetic adverse event. Skye’s anaesthetic protocol was tailored to her conditions and designed to keep her heart rate nice and relaxed and lungs well oxygenated. She was placed into an oxygen tent for 30 minutes before her anaesthetic to allow her to take in the very rich oxygenated air.

The clinic’s nurses use a multi-parameter monitor for constant monitoring of the heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and breathing (capnography) allowing any alterations to be made minute-by-minute. Dental nerve blocks were used, which reduce intra and post-operative pain and the amount of overall general anaesthetic required which is even better for the heart. Full mouth x-rays were taken which are essential to determine disease below the gumline and a dental chart was completed recording all details for every tooth. Skye had four teeth removed in total, and is now making a good recovery.

* Full details about COHAT available here: http://www.thelondoncatclinic.co.uk/cohats-comprehensive-oral-health-assessment-and-treatments/

Vet Warns That Cat Population is “Suffering Dental Pain in Silence”

February is Pet Dental Awareness Month, an issue close to my heart as my own cat suffers from tooth resorption. All my blog posts this month will be dedicated to dental health in cats to highlight the importance of this issue.

* Originally published by katzenworld.co.uk

Around 85% of cats aged over three suffer from some degree of dental disease, and regular brushing of the pet’s teeth can help, says a leading London-based feline vet.

Dr. Jeremy Campbell, Clinical Director at The London Cat Clinic, one of only a handful of practices in the UK that is cat-only, recommends tooth brushing together with 6-monthly to yearly dental checks to spot disease early. This can help prevent the formation of tartar, which can slow the progression of diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

Dr. Campbell explains: “One thing that pet owners can do at home to help reduce the progression of dental disease in their cat is brushing the teeth regularly where possible. This isn’t easy with cats and they need to be trained from kitten-hood but it is possible.

“Owners are often under the impression that feeding 100% dry food will ‘clean’ their teeth sufficiently. However, recent studies have shown that regular dry food has little abrasive qualities, as cats tend to chew too quickly for any real impact. Any effect it has is at the tip of the tooth and most diseases in cats are at the gum level or below the gum line much higher up.”

The London Cat Clinic offers a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment (COHAT), including dental radiography.*

A further problem contributing to “the silent suffering”, explains Dr. Campbell, is that cats also tend to ‘hide’ dental disease from their owners, so dental disease may go undiagnosed until the animal is more likely to be in severe pain.

Symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, bad breath and inactivity. Left untreated, dental disease can affect the organs, causing damage to the kidney and liver.

Many pet owners are also concerned about the risks of subjecting their pet to a general anaesthetic – particularly if they have an existing medical condition.

Dr. Campbell says: “Pet owners whose cats have underlying diseases or are elderly are often reluctant to bring in their cats in for a dental examination, as they are concerned that their cat will not be a good candidate for general anaesthetic. Often, however, this is not the case. We carry out checks appropriate to their age and any existing problems to allow us to assess risks and to plan accordingly.”

He added: “Cats should ideally have their teeth examined by a vet or nurse at least once every 12 months. Cats that have had dental problems should be examined once every 3-6 months depending on their condition.

“Generally, the sooner the problem is identified, the easier and quicker it is to treat. Even if the cat’s mouth is being examined every day, dental disease will develop and gradually progress. Cats will quite often not show clinical signs until the disease is advanced, by which time many teeth may need to be extracted.”

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.”

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.