Courtesy of Ingrid KingImage

“Cats have a reputation for being low maintenance, which is probably one of the many reasons why they have surpassed dogs as the most popular pet in America. Unfortunately, because of this reputation, many people think cats don’t need as much attention as dogs do. They couldn’t be more wrong. 

Play is vitally important to a cat’s mental and physical health, and it’s especially important for indoor cats. Even though cats may sleep up to 16 hours a day, when they’re awake, they need stimulation, and the best way to accomplish this is with play. In the wild, when lions, tigers and other wild cats aren’t sleeping, they’re either hunting, or teaching their young to hunt. And play is nothing more than channelling your domestic tiger’s hunting instinct into play.

Benefits of Play

  • Exercise. Obesity is the number one health problem in cats. According to a recent survey, 55% of America’s cats are overweight or obese. In addition to feeding a species-appropriate raw or canned diet, exercise is the best way to keep your feline charges fit and trim.
  • Relief of boredom. Cats who don’t get challenged or entertained get bored, which can lead to depression. This can be a problem especially for single cats. I learned this the hard way when Amber died shortly after I adopted Allegra as a 7-month-old kitten. We both learned together what it takes to keep a single cat happy.
  • Stress relief. You may wonder what our pampered house cats could possibly be stressed about. Feline stressors range from changes in their environment to picking up on stress from their humans. One of the best ways to counteract stress in cats is through regular playtime.
  • Help with behavioral challenges. If you watch Jackson Galaxy on My Cat from Hell, you will have noticed that “play therapy” is part of Jackson’s recommendations in almost every case he tackles.
  • Increase of the bond between cat and human, and between cats in the same household. Cats chasing each other and playing with each other is a great way to build a bond between cats in the same household. Playing with interactive toys is a wonderful way to increase the bond between you and your cat.

Creative Playtime for Cats

Toys that simulate play and satisfy a cat’s innate hunting drive will be most effective for creating a fun play experience for your cat that also helps her burn off excess energy. Even though there are lots of cute little catnip filled toys on the market, simply placing one in front of your cat and hoping that she’ll play with it doesn’t work with most cats. Interactive, fishing pole type toys such as theNeko Flies or DaBird are the best way to get your cat playing with you, and to satisfy her hunt/prey instinct. 

Certified Cat Behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett provides wonderful advice on how to make all the right moves with interactive toys in her article on Interactive Play Therapy:

How you move the interactive toy is important. Don’t wave it around frantically just to give your cat an aerobic workout. That’s not how cats naturally hunt. Stick to what’s natural for your cat. In the wild, a cat would stalk her prey while staying as quiet and invisible as possible. She would inch closer and closer and then, when she gets within striking distance, she would pounce. Cats don’t have the lung capacity to chase to exhaustion so don’t conduct marathons throughout the house. Move the toy like prey, alternating between fast and slow motions so it gives your cat time to plan her next move. Here’s a tip: movements that go away from or across your cat’s visual field will trigger her prey drive. Don’t dangle the toy in her face or move it toward her.

 

Interactive puzzle toys can be a great way to keep your cats entertained and mentally stimulated when you can’t play with them. The toys are designed to be filled with treats, and they challenge kitty to retrieve the treats through varied openings in the toys. 

Rotate toys in and out. Don’t keep the same toys out in the same spot all the time – this will almost guarantee that your cats will get bored with them. Put some toys away for a week or two, and then bring them out again. Your cats will think they got a brand new toy. Of course, you don’t want to do this if your cat has a favorite toy that she plays with all the time. I’ve turned my family room into a giant kitty playroom. There’s is no human furniture in the room, only cat trees, scratchers, and a ton of cat toys. Every once in a while, I’ll take some things away, bring out others, and rearrange everything to keep Allegra and Ruby interested. 

Cat toys don’t need to be expensive. To a cat, almost everything can become a toy: grocery bags with the handles cut off, boxes, toilet paper rolls, milk carton tops, tissue paper – in a cat’s mind, these were all just made to be played with. Some cats enjoy chasing bubbles, or batting Q-tips around the bathtub. Think like a cat, and you may be surprised at the things you already have in your home that make the purr-fect cat toy. 

Make time for one or two play sessions, 10-20 minutes in length, each day. You and your kitties will find that you’ll look forward to these session every day.   

 

©Ingrid King 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

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Cars were trapped for up to 20 hours during this dangerous Snow Storm

Cars were trapped for up to 20 hours during this dangerous Snow Storm

Atlanta Winter Storm January 2014 Update

Atlanta Neighborhood Pet Sitters, Your Neighborhood Pet Sitters able to assist Atlanta Pet Owners trapped in their cars or at work on January 29th 2014 Winter storm. Letting your pet sitter or dog walker keep your key on file can is a wise idea in case of emergencies. We keep our clients keys in a safe when we are not using them. Call us instead of a locksmith and it will be much quicker and cheaper! 404-478-7206

     Most people don’t understand the relationship between pack structure and dogs.  Because of this, dogs are out of control within their own packs and therefore unpredictable when encountering new dogs and packs.  Pack instincts are pivotal in all family pets.  These drives become heightened when dogs are out of their own trusted environment and placed into the mix of strange dogs.

     New dogs are even more at risk.  Dogs that have visit the park regularly have established a level of consistent habits and also see this as their territory.  New dogs more often are seen as intruders as opposed to new friends.  Territorial aggression, fear aggression and dominance aggression can flare up quickly in these situations.

     The first incorrect assumption is that every dog in the park is well-mannered and or trained.  Observing play between other dogs does not mean your dog will be extended the welcome mat.  Within these groups, the issue of rank has already been settled and rules established.  Your dog does not know the rules and is extremely vulnerable to attack.

To read more about dog park behaviors, click on the links below: 

http://leerburg.com/dogparks.htm

 http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/aggression-dogs

***Noteworthy on this topic is also the topic of dogs getting attacked in doggy day care.  A friend of mine managed a doggy day care here in Atlanta and relayed a tragic story of a small dog getting killed by a larger dog.  Please follow the link below to learn more about choosing the right place for your loved pet.

http://caninekinshipmaine.blogspot.com/2010/11/dangerous-daycares.html

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Warning! Cocoa Mulch from Target is toxic to dogs and cats!!
http://midwestdogblog.tumblr.com/post/50960136050/please-tell-every-dog-or-cat-owner-you-know-even

Cocoa Shell Mulch sold at target is toxic to dogs and cats

Cocoa Shell Mulch sold at target is toxic to dogs and cats

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I wanted to bring some attention to a rare cancer in dogs because a client of Your Neighborhood Pet Sitter in Atlanta has been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.  When the owner of Marley the Cocker Spaniel first contacted me to hire me as a pet sitter, she mentioned that she had just taken Marley in for testing.  Marley is only 7 and had been having trouble holding his pee and needing to pee more often.  This was atypical behavior for a very well behaved dog.  After she received the test results, she let me know that Marley had been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and given six months to live.  In the meantime, we are helping out by being there for Marley on days when her owner has long days at work and giving her and her buddy Bocca as much love and care as we can.  Below are some early warning signs of prostate cancer in dogs.

posted courtsesy of PetWave.com, “Cancer of the prostate gland, also called prostatic neoplasia, is an uncommon but extremely serious disease that can affect both neutered and intact male dogs. Prostate tumors are aggressive, highly invasive, space-occupying masses that usually have spread to the spine, pelvis, lymph nodes, lungs and/or other remote locations by the time they are detected.  Symptoms of prostate cancer tend to develop gradually and include urination abnormalities, straining to defecate, constipation, scooting, bloody discharge from the penis, lameness, lethargy, appetite and weight loss, weakness and depression. Affected dogs can exhibit one, some, all or none of these symptoms. Owners who notice some of these symptoms should take their dog to a veterinarian as quickly as possible for diagnosis and treatment.”

Fact of the day from the Animal Planet TV Show, “Must Love Cats”.  Why do cats like to climb trees?  It is a place of safety for them because they can see the territory below them for predators and hunting.  http://www.facebook.com/mustlovecatsfanpageImage

http://www.facebook.com/AnimalPlanet?fref=ts

Key Search Words

Zip codes served in Georgia

30328, Sandy Springs, 30338  Dunwoody

30350,  Sandy Springs, Roswell, 30075

30076 Old Alabama, Riverside

30346, Alpharetta, Duluth, Norcross, Johns Creek, Country Club of the South

DuffyWhen we visit Duffy in her home, we give her a dose of her asthma treatment.

Courtesy of petMD

The lower respiratory tract, or lower airways, includes the bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli. The bronchi begin at the end of the trachea, where they split off into two branches. From there they split off into smaller branches, called the bronchioles. The alveoli are the terminal portion of the lower respiratory tract, within the lungs, where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place.

Bronchitis is the term used to denote inflammation of the bronchi and bronchioles. Chronic bronchitis is a long-standing inflammation of the lower respiratory tract. The condition of asthma includes both sudden (acute) and long-term (chronic) inflammation of the lower airways due to increased sensitivity to various stimuli, including allergens, narrowing of the airways, and an accumulation of specific cells – seen commonly in inflammation and allergic reactions – within these airways. In cats, both acute and chronic inflammation of the lower airways is denoted collectively as feline bronchitis, or feline bronchopulmonary disease (FBD). Chronic inflammation in the lower airways, if left untreated, may leads to fibrosis (excess fibrous tissue in the lungs) and lung atelectasis (a disease in which the lungs are not able to inflate). This disease can occur in cat of any age, but is most common between the ages of 2-8 years.

Symptoms and Types

Due to the acute and chronic nature of this disease, the following symptoms may be seen for variable period of time:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing (some cats will breath with an open mouth)
  • Poor appetite
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Fast breathing with effort
  • Blue discoloration of skin and mucous membranes

Causes

  • The exact cause of bronchial inflammation is often unknown
  • Cigarette smoke, hair sprays, air fresheners, new furniture, and dusty cat litter may initiate an episode
  • Parasitic lung infections (lungworm) are also suspected

Diagnosis

Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. You will be asked about your cat’s diet, addition of new furniture into the home, and other related questions. An exact cause for this disease is not known, and finding the initiating factor is often a daunting task. Sometimes, something as simple as a new air-freshener is found to be responsible for a sudden episode of this disease, but often the exact cause will remain elusive. After a detailed physical examination has been conducted, treatment for acute cases is started immediately (see Treatment).

In the meantime, your veterinarian will take blood and urine samples for laboratory testing. These blood tests will help to establish the diagnosis, and also to characterize whether the problem is acute or chronic in nature. Fecal samples will also be taken for laboratory examination to see if parasites are present. Your veterinarian may also take samples for bacterial culture to see if infection is involved. X-ray imaging may help in diagnosing the nature, extent, and type of changes in the lung parenchyma (the functional parts of the lung) due to inflammation.

At some hospitals, specific allergy testing facilities are available to find which type of allergen is involved, if any. There are also some specific tests that can be used to take samples from the lungs, which can reveal detailed information about the disease.

Here is a YouTube Video showing treatment