Pet Talk: July 22, 2020
Columns, Pet Talk

Pet Talk: July 22, 2020

July 22, 2020

In this week’s Pet Talk, Maneka gives tips on stopping cats from biting, their aging signs & bathing them

By Maneka Gandhi

How to stop cats from biting?

Try substituting cat toys for your fingers when you’re playing and save your fingers for gentle petting. Make sure all family members (and visitors) are aware of these guidelines so the cat will receive a consistent message. 

Trim the Claws:  Claw trimming, unlike declawing, does not injure your cat and should be done regularly.

Redirect the Kitten’s Attention:  Often playful biting of hands or feet occurs simply because your cat is bored and is looking for a play object. In addition to the active play, a scratching post (or two) are a positive addition to your home. To the kitten, these are now the places where scratching is encouraged. Try both horizontal and vertical posts and ones with different textures to find the type your kitten likes best.

What to expect when cat ages and becomes a senior?

As a rule of thumb, a senior cat is aged 7 to 10 years old or older. Slowing down – your kitty has lost some pep in its step. Other signs of slowing down include a cat that takes longer cat naps and may sleep for longer stretches. You may even notice if your cat has some difficulty going up and down flights of stairs. Some of these changes may be normal, but they can also be a sign of arthritis.

Reduced Hearing: Just like humans, cats can experience hearing loss. The rate of loss is variable. For some cats, hearing loss may be barely noticeable, or it can be total.

Cloudy Eyes: Like dogs, cats’ eyes often show a bluish transparent haze in the pupil area. This is a normal effect of aging. The medical term for this is lenticular sclerosis. Vision does not appear to be affected.

Thinning of the Iris: Iris atrophy, or thinning of the iris, may occur in some cats’ eyes, particularly those with irises lighter in colour, like blue-eyed cats. The eye’s iris may appear to have splotches or appear “moth-eaten.” Except for in extreme cases, this condition usually does not affect vision.

Muscle Loss: Loss of muscle mass, called muscle atrophy, may occur in old age. You may notice this, especially in the hind legs or along the spine. Muscle loss be a normal part of aging, but it can also be a symptom of other diseases such as an overactive thyroid, kidney or heart disease, or cancer.

How can I get my cat to enjoy baths?

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A cat will never enjoy a bath, but how can you minimise the stress? To get your cat comfortable with water, try acclimatising her to the tub weeks before a bath, so she can get used to the space. Place your cat in an empty tub or sink with toys, catnip, or treats so that she makes positive associations with the location. 

Try treats, like a small amount of squeeze cheese, whip cream, or anchovy paste, and spread it on the tub for your cat to lick. Once your cat is comfortable with playing and eating treats in the sink or tub, fill the tub with an inch or two of warm water and scatter toys throughout the bath so she can have some fun with them. Encourage your cat to play with the toys and reinforce her with praise and treats when she does.

Have everything ready prior to bathing the cat. Be prepared with everything you need. This includes shampoo specifically made for cats, special treats and toys your cat loves, warm towels, a plastic cup for pouring water over your cat, and a non-slip surface such as a rubber liner, and a bath mat or towel to place in the sink or bathtub for your cat to stand on.

Create a calm environment. Close the door and keep noises to a minimum. Be calm and speak softly. If your spray attachment is noisy, rinse your cat with cups of water instead. If you are stressed, your cat will be too!

Why do cats hate water so much?

Not all cats dislike water. Cats who have had positive experiences around and in water, especially during their key socialisation period (early socialisation occurs between 3 and 8 weeks, late socialisation between 9 and 16 weeks), often like water.

Cats also maintain a higher body temperature and cleaning themselves helps maintain and regulate their body temperature. When a cat’s coat becomes soaked, it becomes quite heavy, making it hard for them to return to a dry, warm state quickly. A wet coat can also make the cat feel slow and not as nimble as usual, which results in an uncomfortable sensation of not being able to quickly get out of a situation.

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How to know if your cat is sick?

The most common sign of illness in some cats is hiding in a quiet, out-of-the-way place. Sick cats often lie quietly in a hunched position. They might neglect grooming. They may be purring, which cats do, not only when they’re happy, but also when they’re sick or in pain.

Why do cats lick their paws after eating?

Cats are often cleaner than the food they eat, especially the wet food products that can splatter tiny particles and leave oils and food smells around the mouth, in the whiskers, and on the face or even the front legs.  Cats are fastidious animals, and they groom themselves several times a day.

Why does my cat lick me?

Cats usually lick themselves in order to groom. Mother cats will lick their kittens as a part of the grooming process. However, cats will also lick each other and you as a sign of affection. Kittens especially will use licking to ease anxiety the way a human might use hugs.

How to stop cats from sucking wool?

Remove all throws, blankets, and clothing that have been your cat’s favourite sucking objects and lock them away. Out of sight, out of mind.

Offer a substitute: A soft terrycloth toy might provide a safe target for your cat’s attention. It can be a comfortable “buddy” to snuggle with when your kitty is feeling a little stressed and a safe outlet when it feels the need to suckle.

Distract your cat: You can try tapping your cat lightly on the nose and then offering a treat as a reward when it stops sucking wool. Likewise, putting your cat on the floor and engaging in an interactive game, such as hide and seek or wand play, may divert its attention long enough for the impulse to pass.

Relieve stress: It’s important to try to remove or correct the source of the stress first. But if your cat still seems to need suckling, try a natural anti-stress remedy such as flower essences or a homeopathic remedy.

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