Unleash Their Inner Lion: Exercising Your Kitten

Although your new kitten may spend much of their day catnapping, they will likely be up for a few play sessions a day, too. Through regular play cats receive much of the exercise they need, which is not only great for your new kitten’s physical well being but for their mental health, as well.

Cats are natural hunters and their play style mimics these traits by stalking, chasing and catching objects. Although play sessions may only last 10 to 15 minutes at a time, they can happen a few times a day. It is a great idea to encourage these sessions early in the day and again before bed to get your cat into a routine of being active when you are also awake

In the beginning, you may need to encourage play with your new kitten, but as time goes on your kitten will catch on and often be the one to initiate play sessions with you or your family.

with you or your family. Need some ideas on how to keep your cat playful and exercised?

THINK VERTICAL

Cats love to climb. Providing your cat multiple levels to investigate will not only allow them the opportunity to get some exercise but also to see their surroundings from a different angle. To do this you may want to consider purchasing a cat tree, which consists of multi-level platforms for your cat to climb and explore. These are often covered in carpet-type materials which also encourage your cat’s natural need to stretch and scratch their claws.

 

SWITCH UP THEIR TOY SELECTION

Sometimes boredom can set in when it comes to play if the same toys are always available. Make play sessions more interesting by rotating available toys. This is will keep things fresh and exciting.

 

TOYS THAT BRING OUT THEIR NATURAL INSTINCTS

It’s no surprise that cat toys are often fashioned to represent small creatures like mice and birds, which also happen to be the main animals cats hunt. These will be some of your cat’s favourite toys. Small toy mice and feathered toys that your cat can bat around and chase will provide endless opportunity for play.

If you want to interact with your kitten during play, consider feather teaser toys that dangle feathers from a long string on a handle that you can flick, move and drag around the house mimicking a bird.

Laser light toys are also great to use, as long as you keep them out of your kittens eyes and at ground level, to stimulate their hunt and catch instincts. It is amazing that a small light that you control around the room can catch their inquisitive nature by imitating the movements of a bug.

 

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR NATURAL SURROUNDINGS

Cats love to watch birds and are inquisitive about the outdoors in general. It is not uncommon to find them sitting at the window or looking out the screen of a door. This mental stimulation is beneficial for them. You may want to consider installing a cat window perch so they can have abundant nature views.

If you have the space, many cat owners are now installing “cattios” to allow a safe, enclosed space outdoors for their cats to investigate their natural surroundings while being protected from any risks. Cattios consist of an enclosure with multiple levels to explore that is placed outside, beside your home, near a window or door that your cat can access from the inside of your house. Preassembled cattios can be purchased for installation, or they can be easy to create on your own.

 

CAT TREAT DISPENSERS

Treat- or food-dispensing toys are great for keeping your pet’s mind active. These puzzle-type toys provide mental stimulation as your cat tries to figure out how to get a reward out of them.

interactive with your kitten, and it also fosters the bond between you while reinforcing their physical and mental health. A cat with a well-exercised mind and body has the best chance at preventing obesity and negative behaviours, such as house soiling. To learn more about how you can include exercise and play in your kitten’s daily routine, ask your veterinary healthcare team.

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

Thinking Inside The Box

Cats tend to have a strong instinctual drive to bury their feces, and find litter boxes an attractive place in which to do this. Most cats are trained at three to four weeks of age by their mothers to properly eliminate in a litter box. Soon, they follow her lead and begin to eliminate in the litter box on their own.

Some pet owners find litter with additives that attract the cat helpful in piquing their interest in using the box

This is useful for new kittens and cats that have mainly been used to eliminating outdoors. Outdoor cats can also be gradually trained to use a box in the house; start off using potting soil or sand in the box, and then slowly introduce a commercial litter product.

 

PICKING THE RIGHT BOX

There are many available options for litter boxes, including the traditional rectangular THINKING INSIDE THE BOX PHOTO: DEPOSITPHOTOS.COM SIFTING THROUGH THE FACTS ON KITTY LITTER By Kristina Cooper, RVT >> CAT CARE GUIDE 2018 PETS 19 GUIDE TO CAT CARE box, the covered box and self-cleaning variations. Most boxes are constructed of plastics that can be easily cleaned with soap and warm water, but may over time absorb odours and need to be replaced.

The least expensive and most accepted style tends to be the traditional plastic, rectangular box. Select one with enough room for your cat to move around without touching the sides too easily. Because these boxes are not covered, they are less confining and provide more air circulation. Their downside is that litter may be pushed out of the box if your cat is an aggressive digger. If the box isn’t large enough for your cat, or your cat has bad aim, they may also inadvertently eliminate outside the side of the box.

The covered boxes are moderately priced, and are especially fancied by those who have inquisitive dogs or whose cats may have bad aim. These boxes greatly reduce the amount of litter that is spilled outside of the box during digging. One downfall of this design is less air circulation, potentially resulting in odour buildup. They can also be too confining for larger cats.

The automatic self-cleaning boxes are the priciest option. These products automatically rake or sift the litter and remove clumps of urine and feces, depositing them into a reservoir that the owner can later empty. Although these boxes can cut down on cleaning time for busy cat guardians, the rakes can sometimes become stuck. Some versions tend to be a little noisy, as well.

 

LITTER BOX LOCATION

Cats are very selective creatures when it comes to eliminating, and do not enjoy an audience. The location of your litter box should be inviting, where there is both privacy and a low traffic flow. Keep in mind the location should be easily accessible to your cat, and the area should generally be quiet. Inadvertent noises (such as a furnace motor or clothes dryer buzzer) may startle your cat while in its box, which can result in an aversion to its use.

 

MOST CATS ARE VERY PARTICULAR ABOUT THE CLEANLINESS OF THEIR LITTER BOXES. SOME CATS EVEN PREFER TO URINATE IN ONE BOX AND DEFECATE IN ANOTHER, AND SO YOU MAY BE WELL OFF TO PROVIDE TWO BOXES.

 

LITTER TYPES

Clumping litter products are most commonly used. These litters clump around feces and urine, sealing it off from the fresh litter and allowing for easy scooping and removal. Although clay clumping litter appears to provide the strongest clumping action and is most widely used, some people prefer to use the newer pine-, corn- or wheat-based products. These litters tend to be lighter, and because they can be flushed or composted are more environmentally friendly. The downside of corn and wheat litters is that they may strike your cat’s fancy as a food source. And, although humans tend to associate the smell of pine with cleanliness, pine litters may be too strongly scented for cats and can lead to litter box aversion. There is a certain amount of dust to be expected with any clumping product, but some brands are less dusty than others.

Also available in pets stores are crystalline products containing indicators that alert you when its time to change the litter. These crystals, often made of silica, absorb urine and eliminate odours. They also have low dust levels. Feces must be scooped daily when using these products, and the crystals must be mixed to prevent any pooling of urine at the bottom of the box. Note that these litters can often be expensive, and that some cats find the sensation of standing in them unpleasant.

There are also litters that are made of recycled newspaper formed into pellets. These products are often used after surgery and declawing procedures to avoid contamination and infection. These litters do not clump, nor do they provide much odour control — meaning the litter box must be cleaned more frequently.

CLEANING THE BOX

Most cats are very particular about the cleanliness of their litter boxes. Some cats even prefer to urinate in one box and defecate in another, and so you may be well off to provide two boxes. In multi-cat households, some cats will not eliminate in a box used by another cat. Multi-cat households should have at least one box per cat, plus one extra, to meet their needs. It is paramount that your cat’s box be kept as clean as possible — remember that cats have a much stronger sense of smell than we do!

When using clumping litter, the box should be scooped daily and new litter added to top it up. Depending on the use of the box, it should be completely emptied, washed and refilled with fresh litter every few weeks. In the case of traditional claytype litters that don’t clump, it is best to completely empty, wash and refill with fresh litter on a daily basis. Silica crystal litters that don’t have a change indicator should be disposed of after one month. The box should then be thoroughly cleaned and refilled with fresh litter.

Although scented litters and deodorizers are appealing to people, use them with caution. They can be extremely strong and offensive to a cat, causing them to eliminate elsewhere. Unscented litters will retain their freshness as long as they are frequently cleaned.

 

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

The Backyard Hazards Series Are You In The Loop On Ringworm

The Backyard Hazards series of articles focuses on the diseases that you or your pet may be at risk of contracting, right in your own backyard.

Don’t let the name fool you: this condition is not caused by a worm at all. Ringworm is a fungal infection that gets its name from the red, itchy ring-like rash that it causes. Also known as dermatophytosis, this fungus can be transmitted from pets to humans. In fact, humans can also acquire an infection without the help of animals — in this case, it’s better known as athlete’s foot.

SYMPTOMS OF RINGWORM

Fungi known as dermatophytes are to blame for this condition. Those infected (both people and animals) can display the following symptoms:

  • Red circular rash;
  • Itchiness;
  • Scaly and crusty skin; and
  • Broken, brittle hair and hair loss in affected areas.

HOW IS RINGWORM TRANSMITTED?

Ringworm can be easily transmitted among animals and people when direct contact with infected skin or hair occurs. It is also possible to contract ringworm by touching contaminated blankets and other objects that an infected animal has been using. In pets, signs can begin to show at one to four weeks from infection. It can take up to two weeks for you to show signs of being infected with ringworm from your pet.

 

HOW IS RINGWORM TREATED?

Ringworm can be treated in both animals and people with oral and topical antifungals, including shampoos and creams prescribed by your veterinarian and family doctor.

It is important to ensure you are eliminating as many of the fungal spores in the environment, as well, by cleaning areas your pet frequents often and washing their laundry to prevent re-infection.

Ringworm can be eliminated in the environment with the use of household cleaners, such as bleach at a dilution of one part bleach to 10 parts water. It is important to remember that a one-time cleaning will not suffice. Thorough cleaning needs to be maintained until you and your pet are both free of the infection, as spores can continue to be shed in the environment while the infection is active.

 

PREVENTION OF RINGWORM

If you bring a new animal into your home that may have ringworm, it is important to keep them isolated from the other animals in your home until they have been cleared of the infection by your veterinarian.

To keep yourself protected, consider the following:

 

  • Wash your hands after you handle your pet;
  • Consider wearing gloves and long-sleeved shirts and pants when handling your pet;
  • Vacuum regularly to get rid of dander and hair that may be infected;
  • Wash and disinfect pets’ bedding and toys frequently to cut down on the fungal load in their environment;
  • If you are immune compromised, have another member of your family handle your infected pet.

 

If you suspect your pet may have ringworm, your best bet is to make an appointment with your veterinarian to receive a proper diagnosis and treatment. It is also wise to have all of the animals in your home examined to ensure they are free of the fungal infection due to its ease of transmission.

 

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

How Smoking Harms Your Pet

Research has long told us that smoking is harmful to humans, and not only those who smoke. Both second- and third-hand smoke can be bothersome at best and disease-causing at worst. This is no different for pets who are exposed to household environmental tobacco smoke.

WHY IS TOBACCO SMOKE HARMFUL?

According the Government of Canada “Tobacco contains more than 4,000 chemicals and more than 70 of these chemicals are known to cause, initiate and promote cancer.” Smoking not only causes cancer, but also increases the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in both humans and animals.

WHAT IS SECOND-HAND SMOKE?

Second-hand smoke is the smoke that is either exhaled by tobacco smokers or created from burning tobacco. When exhaled, smoke contains particles of chemicals that are heavier than air and will naturally fall instead of rise in the environment. This means these chemicals are falling into the space your pets occupy, causing them to breath in this toxic mixture.

WHAT IS THIRD-HAND SMOKE?

Third-hand smoke is the nicotine and other chemical residues that can be left behind on such things as carpets, curtains, furniture and pet bedding inside a home where smoking occurs. Pets are self groomers and lick their fur to keep themselves clean. It is easy for these residues to stick to pet fur, creating an opportunity for toxins to be ingested.

WHAT DISEASES CAN SECOND-HAND AND THIRD-HAND SMOKE CAUSE IN PETS?

Studies have shown that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can cause the following increased risks in pets:

  • Lymphoma;
  • Oral cancer;
  • Nasal, sinus and lung cancers;
  • Allergy- or asthma-related; breathing problems;
  • Allergic skin conditions;
  • Eye problems; and
  • Heart problems.

It is important to remember that it is not just dogs and cats being affected by the negative effects of tobacco smoke. According to the FDA, pet birds, guinea pigs and even fish are also very sensitive to these toxins.

TOBACCO TOXICITY FROM ACCIDENTAL INGESTION

Having ashtrays and packages of cigarettes accessible to pets can pose the risk of ingestion to a curious pet. According to ASPCA Poison Control, tobacco toxicity can result in hyperexcitability then depression, vomiting, incoordination, paralysis and possibly death. If you suspect your pet has ingested nicotine, you should contact your veterinarian immediately

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO MINIMIZE YOUR PET’S EXPOSURE TO TOBACCO SMOKE?

The best thing you can do for both you and your pet’s health is to quit smoking. Other alternatives include:

  • Limiting smoking to outdoors only;
  • When smoking indoors, keep the area well ventilated;
  • Try limiting smoking indoors to a room that you can keep your pet out of; and
  • Wash your pet’s bedding and toys frequently to eliminate chemical residues that results from smoking.

For more information on how you can quit smoking, visit www.breakitoff.ca.

 

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com

Prime Time For Veterinary Care

With the addition of a new puppy or kitten to your family, life has no doubt become exciting! Keeping their health in tip-top shape is sure to be on your mind as you embark on new adventures in your life together. Here is a timeline of major milestones in your new relationship that should involve your veterinarian.

RIGHT AFTER YOU PICK UP YOUR NEW FAMILY MEMBER

If you know ahead of time what your pickup arrangements are, you may want to consider calling ahead to your veterinary clinic to book your first appointment on the way home. Most kittens/puppies arrive home at six to eight weeks of age. Having your new fluffy family member examined soon after pickup will help to ensure your new friend is healthy (and not showing any signs of contagious disease that may be transmitted to other pets you may already have at home). In some cases, a health exam may be required within the first 72 hours for an adoption contract to be valid. An early meeting at this young age with a veterinarian will also start your pet on the right path to feeling comfortable in the clinic environment, which will help to foster positive experiences in the visits to come.

EIGHT WEEKS OF AGE

Your new pet’s eight-week examination is important to ensure that they are developing properly. This visit will also include the first series of vaccinations given to provide immunity to your new pet against common contagious diseases, as the maternal immunity their mom provided in young kitten/puppyhood has now waned. Parasite control will also be discussed and treated for both internal and external parasites, such as fleas and intestinal worms. Don’t forget to bring along a fresh fecal sample for testing!

12 WEEKS OF AGE

The 12-week checkup helps your veterinarian make sure everything is still on track with your pet’s development. This visit will also include a set of booster vaccinations to ensure your pet’s immunity is still effective and that any potential parasites are under control. Another fecal sample should be tested.

16 WEEKS OF AGE

At 16 weeks of age, your new friend will begin losing their baby teeth and adult teeth will erupt. Your veterinarian will make sure this is going smoothly (see page 18 for more on dental care), on top of performing another physical exam. This visit will also include the final booster vaccine for your pet, as well as a rabies vaccine. A final fecal exam will be done to check one more time to make sure your pet is parasite free. This test may be done multiple times to cover the prepatent period of multiple parasites, as they do not all follow the same schedule of showing signs of infection.

SIX MONTHS OF AGE

Now that your pet has matured six months, it is the prime time to discuss having your pet spayed/neutered. Spaying/neutering will prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as decrease the chances of reproductive organ diseases, such as potentially fatal infections and cancer. This surgical procedure can also help to decrease territorial behaviours. Once the surgery has been performed, a return visit in 10–14 days will be necessary to ensure the surgical site is healing well and so sutures can be removed if necessary. See page 14 for a story on what can happen when you don’t spay/neuter pets!

ONE-YEAR VACCINE ANNIVERSARY

Your furry family member has celebrated their first year milestone and is likely a happy and healthy member of your family. As a young adult, your pet should make an annual trip to the veterinary office to have a complete physical exam (and receive any annual booster vaccines needed) to ensure they remain healthy for years to come. Examinations provide the opportunity for your veterinary staff to observe any underlying disease at an early stage and start treatment to halt or delay its progression.

 

Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health, she is currently the provincial manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at krizzteena@hotmail.com.