Cats are the most common household pets in the United States and it is no surprise. They are lithe, flexible, compact and self-reliant. There are many benefits to raising kids in a household with pets. Pets can:
Teach compassion and empathy
Provide loyalty, affection and love
Foster your child’s self-esteem
Encourage your kids to be more physically active
Children have a natural affinity for cats, but you need to lay down a few ground rules before you get them to socialize. If your toddler is overzealous, he could end up hurting the kitten. It goes without saying that cat bites and scratches can pose serious risks to the health of your child.
Babies and cats
Generally, cats tend to stay away from infants, whose smells and sounds seem alien to them. They’re much more likely to be upset by the changes in the house because of the baby. What are the precautions you need to take?
Don’t let your infant sleep with a cat. Make sure that you use a baby monitor and keep the nursery door closed. If you prefer leaving the door open, install a handy screen door.
Introduce baby bedding, furniture and equipment weeks before your baby arrives to the house. When your newborn is in the hospital, bring home an onesie or nursery blanket with your baby’s scent. This will acclimatize your cat to your baby’s smell when he comes home.
Even if you get busy with the baby, make sure you set aside a few minutes each day to play with your cat. This will reassure your cat.
Encourage your feline friend to investigate as you feed or hold the baby. Reassure him and encourage him to sniff around and investigate. This will help your cat form positive associations with the new family member.
Toddlers and cats
Toddlers regard cats as mobile stuff toys that are waiting to be prodded, squeezed and chased. Y0ou children are incapable of reading a cat’s body language and they are also not very good at reigning in their own aggressive or angry feelings.
Never leave a cat and a toddler together unsupervised.
Teach your kid to interact with the cat the right way. Show him how to gently stroke the cat’s neck and head and avoid the more sensitive areas like the belly, feet and tail. Explain to him that squeezing, poking or pulling at the tail, fur and ears is not acceptable.
Instruct your child never to put his face near the pet. Bites and scratches of the neck and head are very common and quite dangerous.
Teach your kid never to touch the cat when he is sleeping or eating.
Watch their body language closely. If you see either the toddler or the cat getting worked up, it is time for you to separate them.
Conventional wisdom has it that having a cat can increase your child’s predisposition to allergies. However, new research has indicated that the opposite is true. One of the studies demonstrated that having a couple of cats and dogs during the first year reduced a child’s chance of having an allergy by the time they reach the age of seven.
The gestation period for pregnant cats is about nine weeks, and the onslaught of pregnancy is associated with both physical and behavioral changes. If you can spot the changes, it can help you figure out if your cat is pregnant.
Recognizing fertility signs
Is your cat fertile? – If your cat’s fertile and has been in heat, it is quite possible that she may be pregnant. a. Domestic female cats become sexually active as the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, usually between spring and fall. b. They will go into heat as the weather gets warmer and when they reach 80 percent of their adult weight. In some unusual cases, they can go into heat as early as four months.
Keep an eye out for mating behavior – Once your cat goes into heat, she will display behavioral changes that are meant to attract potential mates. The usual signs include: a. Restlessness, increased appetite and affection b. Frequent and insistent mewling or meowing
Understand the implications – If your cat is in heat, odd behavior is not the only side effect. There is a good chance that she might have gotten pregnant. a. Once your cat is has been in heat anytime in the recent past, you should make it a point to test her for pregnancy b. If you want to avoid unwanted pregnancies, make sure you spay her as soon as possible.
Enlarged nipples – The nipples will become enlarged and red a few days into the pregnancy a. Her breasts will grow bigger and she might secrete a milky fluid. b. Bear in mind that enlarged nipples are also an indicator of your cat being in heat, and they are not an exclusive sign of pregnancy.
Look for the “burro” shape – Pregnant cats look swaybacked from the side with a round, bulging abdomen. a. Most of the female cats assume this shape at a late stage in the pregnancy. b. If your cat is overweight, she will have thicker legs and neck, not just a thick abdomen.
Nesting Behavior – A few days before she is about to give birth, your cat will start to prepare the nest for her litter. a. She will go to a quiet place and start arranging towels, blankets and other fabric to make room for her kittens. b. If you see nesting behavior and did not know that your cat was pregnant before, take her to the veterinarian as soon as possible for a prenatal checkup. The vet will confirm the diagnosis with an ultrasound.
Avoid deworming, getting vaccinations and giving other medication to your cat when she is pregnant. If she falls prey to an infection while she is pregnant, consult with the vet before you put her on medication.
Pet owners face a lot of separation anxiety when they have to leave their cats alone – most of it has nothing to do with the cat themselves, but with their own feelings of guilt about the fact that they have to leave their cats to fend for themselves. Here are a few ways you can keep your cats occupied while you are away; after all, they cannot nap all day long.
Build a fun zone – Whenever your cat is ready to play, he needs to have a zone that is exclusively dedicated for that purpose. That does not mean that you need to have an extra room for that purpose. Just a window or a room corner will suffice. Set up a nice scratching post that is designed for claw and climbing exercises. If there is a perch that overlooks the backyard, it will give your cat a lot of free and mundane entertainment. Go for a DIY hack by building a sitting ledge on the window sill using brackets, a shelf and some fabric. If you don’t have the time to build one yourself, you can purchase a perch online. You can also build an enclosure outside the window so that your cat feels like he his outdoors while he is still within the confines of the house.
Get a play buddy – If your cat is a lonely child, then you might want to consider adopting a feline sister or brother for him. It can be quite difficult to integrate a new pet into your household, especially if your cat is used to being alone. However, there is no denying the fact that it is worth the effort to get a companion for your cat. When two cats hit it on, playtime is sure to be productive and a lot of fun. Between the two of them, they will invent games of their own even if you are not at home to witness it when it happens.
Snacks and puzzles – If your cat loves treats and snacks, treat puzzle toys are a great way to keep him busy. These usually are in the form of ball shaped toys that are stuffed with treats which are released only when your cat figures out how to undo the catch. It is perfect for stimulating both the muscles and the brain of your cat.
Soothing sounds – If you have ever observed your cat responding to different styles of music, you can get more of it and set up a playlist for him while you are away. If you are not sure, classical music is always a good choice. Stick with the softer pieces that featuring strings and piano more than drums and trumpets. Meditation music is a good choice as well. Just don’t be surprised if you come back home and find your cat in the lotus pose.
Cats love spending time alone. They like to take their time to rest after spending the night resting. But that does not mean that visual distraction, extra toys, companions or music will not help them with it.
Tapeworms and roundworms are the most common intestinal worms that infect cats. Most of the worm infested cats do not show any external signs. However, when the worms start to multiply, it usually results in diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and an itchy anus. Tapeworms can also be passed on to human beings, which can be quite deadly as they can remain dormant for a long time and hitch a ride to the brain.
Types of worms
Roundworms – They are the most common intestinal parasites and their eggs are passed through feces. They can remain dormant in the external environment for years. If your cat eats eggs from a contaminated environment or eats another contaminated animal, he/she can get infected. Once your cat is infested with roundworms, some of the larvae can remain dormant in his/her body tissues. It is especially risky in the case of female cats as the eggs can migrate to their mammary glands and get excreted through the milk they produce, infecting the kittens in the process.
Hookworms – They are intestinal roundworms that damage the intestinal lining and cause bleeding, weight loss and anemia. Cats can get infected by hookworms when they ingest eggs from their surroundings. This can happen if they eat an intermediary host or if the larvae present in the environment manage to burrow their way through their skin.
Tapeworms – These are multi-segmented worms that are long and flat. They need the mediating presence of an intermediary host to complete their life cycle. They will only get infected by eating an intermediary host. If they accidentally ingest fleas while they groom themselves or if they eat an infected rodent, they stand a good chance of contracting tapeworms.
De-worming your cat
Roundworms are very common in kittens as they can pick up the infection from their mothers’ mammary glands. It is safe to assume that all newborn kittens are infected and start treating them at a very young age.
Treat your kittens for a roundworm infection once every 2 weeks starting from when they are three weeks old till they turn six months old.
Treat adult cats once a month.
Tapeworms are usually more common in senior cats. However, in rare instances, even kittens can fall prey to a flea infestation.
Adult cats need to be treated once every month with a product that can effectively combat both roundworms and tapeworms.
Kittens need to be treated once every 2 weeks.
What deworming product should you use?
There are a number of deworming products available in the market, and the availability of a drug varies between countries. If you are in doubt, seek the advice of your pet’s veterinarian. He/she will be able to draw up a treatment plan that is suited to your cat’s needs. The deworming products found on the shelves of supermarkets are not that effective and the ones sold in veterinary pharmacies are quite costly. It is better to buy them online if you want to save money without compromising on the quality. You can go for both topical creams and pills. The topical creams are designed to enter your cat’s blood stream through his/her hair follicles. They are also easier to administer than a pill or an injection. If your vet gives you the go ahead, they are the easiest deworming option.
Cats have nine lives, sure, but what happens when they reach the end of their tether? This is something that pet owners often ponder and it is the question that veterinarians end up getting asked the most. Of course, it is difficult to tell how long an individual will live, but statistics can give you a pretty fair idea.
The average feline life expectancy is around 15 years. Cats that are left unsupervised and roam about freely outdoors tend to have an average lifespan of 7 years, whereas indoor cats make it to the age of 15. Outdoor cats are susceptible to dog attacks, vehicle accidents and life threatening viruses.
Before you start protesting, remember that these numbers are what we typically see across the entire spectrum. Most of the owners who pamper their cats think that these projections are too low, but you have to factor in the cats that die from accident or disease. However, with the improvements in veterinary medicine and nutrition, their life expectancy has increased considerably.
What happens as your cat grows older?
The aging process is accompanied by a number of behavioral and physical changes:
Their immune system grows weak and they are not able to fend off foreign invaders as well as they could when they were young.
Their skin loses elasticity and becomes thinner, their blood circulation slows down and they become more prone to infection.
Older cats also groom themselves less frequently than younger cats and this can result in skin odor, hair matting and inflammation.
Their claws become long and brittle, and will have to be clipped more regularly.
Cats that are really old also suffer from hearing loss.
Hazy eyes are commonly observed in older cats. However, it does not impact their vision in most of the cases. On the other hand, if your cat suffers from high blood pressure, then it can severely impact his ability to see.
Dental diseases are common in senior cats and it can cause a lot of pain. If your cat seems to have lost his appetite with age, you need to take him to the vet to have his teeth and gums checked.
Cats also lose their sense of smell with age and this can lead to appetite loss. However, dental disease is the more common cause behind their reluctance to eat.
Kidney failure is quite common in older cats and the signs can be extremely varied. Preventative kidney monitoring will ensure that they have a better quality of life.
Arthritis and degenerative joint disease is common in senior cats. Although most of the arthritic cats do not become completely lame, they experience a lot of difficulty getting into their litter boxes, especially if they have to climb up the stairs to get to them. A litter box with steps will make it easier for him.
With proper hygiene and exercise, you can ensure that your cat lives for a long time. Make sure that he is fed high quality food that is wholesome and free of additives.