Pet advice

Cats

For more advice on how to look after your cat, please visit http://icatcare.org./ where you will find lot of useful advice, tips and information about cat behaviour and health

What should you consider before getting a cat?

Cats make great pets. Whether you're looking for a lap cat who demands attention or a friendly cat who is happy to do their own thing,there is a cat out there for you! Before you get a cat though, please consider the following points.

·        Cats can live for over 20 years.

·        Cats need proper nutrition, with good quality food and in the right amount to keep them healthy and at an appropriate weight.

·        Cats need annual vaccinations and veterinary check ups, as well as proper medical care should they become sick or injured.

·        Cats need exercise and stimulation in order to keep them happy and to help prevent behavioural problems.

·        Cats require one litter tray per cat in the home, plus one spare in order to help prevent problems with using the litter tray.

·        Cats need human attention and affection. Some cats may not like to be picked up and cuddled, but most do appreciate having their humans devote time to showing them affection, even if it's playing a game together or cuddling on the sofa. Even if there are other animals in the house, cats need attention from their humans.

·        Cats that like to go outdoors, are used to going outdoors and are old enough to be let out alone should have access to the outdoors and be allowed to come in at night. Lincs Ark highly recommends that cats are kept in at night for their safety. Be aware, that some cats like to hunt and may bring you 'presents' of mice and birds or other small animals.

·        Cats will need someone to look after them if you go on holiday, whether it's a trustworthy neighbour, a professional pet sitter or a cattery.

Can babies and cats live in the same house?

Yes! Cats can and do live happily together with babies and children in many homes. It is a myth that cats are not good with babies and in fact, some studies have shown that babies who live in a home with a cat get sick less often than those living in a pet-free home.
For more advice, please click here.

I am pregnant, do I need to give up my cat?

No, you do not need to rehome your cat because you are pregnant.  As long as you wear gloves when cleaning the litter tray and use antibacterial gel afterwards you will be fine.  Cats will not smell breast milk and attack you either. For more advice, please click here.

Is there any way to help allergies to cats?

There are many ways to help when someone in the home is allergic to cats. These are just some of the ways:

·        If at all possible, keep the cat out of the bedrooms.

·        A surfactant based lotion can be rubbed onto the pet weekly to reduce the allergens on the coat of the animal. Petal Cleanse is a product that is available for this and the manufacturer claims that it is effective in over 90% of cat allergy sufferers and it works immediately on contact allergies.

·        Vigorous cleaning strategies should include vacuuming with a high efficiency vacuum cleaner and damp dusting. Wash any washable fabric cushions and pillows and keep carpets and furnishings to a minimum.

·        Ventilate the house as much as possible.

·        Use a HEPA filter or one of the other high quality air cleaners available. This will remove the allergen from the air and help to maintain lower levels of allergen in the environment. For more advice, please click here.

Common Litter Tray Problems and Solutions

Why won't the cat use her litter tray?

Some cats only use the great outdoors to do their toileting. However, some cats prefer to use an indoor litter tray. If your cat is not comfortable with her litter tray or can’t easily access it, she probably will not use it. The following common litter tray problems might cause her to toilet outside of the tray, in undesirable areas:

·        The litter tray isn't cleaned often out thoroughly enough. A litter tray should be cleaned of any soiled material and faeces at least once per day. The length of time between completely emptying and washing the litter tray depends on the type of litter being used. Clumping litter will generally need to be changed less often than non-clumping litter. However, if you notice that the litter tray smells strongly and looks like it needs a change, then it needs to be changed. Remember, cats have a sense of smell 14 times stronger than humans so if you can smell it, they definitely can and it might put them off using the litter tray.

·        There aren't enough litter trays for the number of cats in the household. There should be one tray per cat plus one extra.

·        The litter tray is too small or high for the cat. Make sure the tray isn't too small or too high to get into, especially for elderly cats and kittens.

·        The cat can't access the litter tray easily.Make sure the trays are kept in areas that the cat can easily reach and where it doesn't have to get past an obstacle like a loud washing machine or TV.

·        The litter tray is not in an area that is private enough for the cat. Ensure that the tray is located in an area where the cat will have some peace to do its business, but that also has escape routes so she doesn't feel cornered.

·        The litter tray is beside the food and/or water bowl. Just like we wouldn't like to eat in the toilet, cats don't either. Make sure you place the litter tray(s) as far away from their food and water as possible.

·        The litter tray has a hood that the cat does not like. Or conversely, it doesn't have a hood. Some cats prefer one over the other. Try swapping.

·        The litter tray has a liner. Some cats do not like liners in their trays and this could make them avoid using them.

·        The litter is scented. Some cats do not like scented litter and it puts them off using the tray.

·        Too much litter in the tray or not enough. Generally, cats like one or two inches of litter in their tray.

·        The cat does not like the type of litter being used. Try changing to another type. Cats often like finer litters like silica sand over more lumpy litter like wood pellets. There are so many different types of litter available, there is sure to be one your cat will approve of.  You could try putting a layer of garden soil on top of the litter to get them used to using a tray. For more information, please click here

·        Remember: You want to make using the litter tray as comfortable and convenient for your cat as possible so ensure it is big enough. Think of how you would like it if your bathroom smelled bad, was rarely cleaned, was too small and was located in an area where you felt uncomfortable! If you have checked everything off the list, but your cat is still not using their litter tray, consider the following information.

Inappropriate toileting related to health issues or age.

Sometimes cats can associate the litter tray with pain, such as when they find it painful to urinate or defecate. This pain could be caused by an underlying health complaint so be sure to visit the vet with your cat to rule out any health related concerns.

Elderly cats, like humans, can have trouble with being able to hold their urine and faeces or they could become senile which affects their use of the tray. Make sure the litter tray is in an easily accessible area and that it is not too high for the cat to step in and out of. Some elderly cats that have limited mobility would really appreciate a litter tray located near to their usual snoozing spot. Just make sure it is regularly cleaned so the smell doesn't put kitty off.

Kittens can sometimes require a little training to get them used to using a litter tray. For the first few weeks of a kitten's life, their mum does all the work when it comes to toileting. After that, the kittens must learn to toilet on their own. Some kittens instinctively know what the litter tray is for and use it straight away without any problems. However, some need extra help. When you adopt your kitten, make sure you show them where the litter tray is by placing them in the tray. You can do this a couple of times so they know where to go. Kittens usually get the hang of it really easily, so if for any reason they are not using their litter tray, refer to the reasons above as to why they may not be using it. NEVER scold a kitten or cat for toileting outside the box and especially do not rub their nose in it. If you do that, they will not learn not to go outside of the tray, but they may learn to fear you!

Inappropriate toileting related to a new cat in the home.

Sometimes when a new cat is added to the family, the resident cat (or cats) can become upset and stressed. This can occasionally lead to the cat(s) toileting in areas that are not appropriate. Make sure there is at least one litter tray per cat, plus one extra. Ensure the trays are placed in different areas of the house so that the cats do not have to pass each other in order to get to a tray and that no one can guard the tray, preventing its use by another cat. Cat pheromone diffusers, such as Feliway, can also help reduce the stress and anxiety in the home and may assist with getting your cat(s) back to using the litter tray as they should.

How can you stop a cat from scratching the furniture or carpet?

·        Cats like to scratch. They scratch during play. They scratch while stretching. They scratch to mark territory or as a threatening signal to other cats. And because cats’ claws need regular sharpening, cats scratch on things to remove frayed, worn outer claws and expose new, sharper claws. The best way to get your cat not to scratch things he shouldn't is to get him to love scratching things he can! Follow these tips to get kitty to scratch where you want him to:

·    Provide a variety of scratching posts with different surfaces such as cardboard and sisal. Some experts recommend that scratching posts made of carpet are not used because cats might get mixed messages about scratching on carpets.

·        Try different angles of scratching posts. Some cats like flat, horizontal scratching posts and some like angled or tall posts. Whatever type you get, ensure that it is long or tall enough for the cat to get a good stretch while scratching. If it is too short, they may not use it.

·    Encourage your cat to use the posts by putting catnip on them, hanging toys from them or putting them in areas where they will be inclined to climb on them.

·    To discourage scratching on a sofa or other inappropriate area, put the scratching post in front of it. This will encourage them to use the right item to scratch on instead of one that they are not allowed to.

·    If you see your cat scratching something they should not be, clap your hands loudly or give them a squirt from a water bottle. That is usually enough to deliver the message that they should not be scratching there. NEVER hit your cat for misbehaving. This will just lead to them learning to fear you.

·    Products such as Sticky Paws are sticky pieces of clear plastic that you can put on carpets, sofas or any other surface to discourage your cat from scratching on it. Cats do not like the sticky feeling on their paws and will not use that area for scratching.

Even though it may look unsightly, try to keep the old, tattered scratching post as long as possible. Cats love to get their claws into their scratching posts and the familiar scent will keep them coming back for more! For more information, please click here.

Rabbits

For a wealth of information on how to properly care for your rabbit, please visit Rabbit Welfare.