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3 Quick Fixes to Stop Cat Scratching

Published October 17, 2011 in Monthly Care Tips |
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Cats obviously have a compelling need to stretch and sharpen their claws. Cats scratch for multiple reasons, which include territorial marking, stretching tendons, expediting the shedding of their claws’ outer sheath and because it just feels sooo good.  Unfortunately, sharp kitty claws do not upgrade your sofa or Persian rug, but rather quite the opposite.

Declawing kitty was once deemed a reasonable solution, but over time it has become clear that declawing is inhumane and can lead to a plethora of physical, social and emotional problems – and the last thing you need is a weekly bill from a cat psychiatrist!  (For a great overview of all the reasons not to declaw kitty, visit Cats Scratching.)

So your kitty has a full rack of razor sharp claws and you have the frayed furniture to prove it.  Now what?  Think redirect.  To redirect a cat’s naughty scratching patterns, we found that the following methods are useful:

1.  Add tea tree oil or lemon essential oil to water in a spray bottle and heavily mist the furniture and/or rugs that you want kitty to ignore.  You can also apply tea tree or lemon oil directly to darker areas of carpeting.

Do a test spot to make sure your carpet will withstand the tea tree or lemon essential oil application. (FYI: Do not be turned-off by the term “oil.” Essential oils are actually not very oily at all).  The strong scent of lemon or tea tree is distasteful to cats, but it will diminish over time and you will need to reapply weekly or biweekly.

2.  Now that your carpets and furniture are off limits, you must offer an alternative for itchy claws especially for indoor-only cats. Scratching posts are the obvious solution, but not always the solution. We have found three items particularly enticing for kitty claws: jute door mats, carpeted cat furniture and a good old-fashioned log.  Scratching posts made out of sisal also tend to receive feline approval. Whichever item you choose, make sure the item is secure (if it wobbles or topples your cat will likely never look at it again). Also, ensure your cat will be able to stretch about 1 metre when they do their kitty yoga and sharpening.

If you have more than one cat, you may have to offer more than one option as cats, like humans, have individual preferences. Do consider rubbing catnip on as an extra enticer. Do place the new scratching item in an area your kitty favours and that is not in a far-off corner of your house. But remember, part of the desire to scratch is actually a desire to mark their territory (cat paws have scent glands) and they will want to do it in high traffic areas.

3. Next to try would be lightweight vinyl caps that come in an array of sassy colours, which can be placed over each of your cats claws. The end result: your kitty will have the look of a day spa pedicure but they will not be able to scratch.  Such caps are known to prevent many human toddler tears, as kitty just cannot inflict much damage with claws covered in lipstick pink vinyl caps. Your furniture, carpets, curtains and nerves will also be spared.

Adapted from an article by Chrise Udell

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7 Tips to Keep Doggy Brains Youthful

Published October 11, 2011 in Dr Peto Says, Monthly Care Tips |
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Dogs cared for throughout their early years live longer than ever before. It is not unusual for Toy-breed dogs to live into their mid-to-late teens and even big dogs today enjoy a decade or more of happy life with a loving owner. A longer life, though, can leave your dog befuddled when canine brains turn to mush.

Dogs aged 11 to 16 are most likely to develop Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD), sort of the doggy version of Alzheimer’s Disease. CCD is a medical condition in which a starch-like waxy protein called beta amyloid collects in the brain and causes behaviour changes.

Affected dogs become disoriented, wander, cry and pace, and can become lost in the house when out of your sight. Their behaviour can change from confident to frightened, and the awake/sleep cycles may turn upside down. Dogs can forget house training, how to find the door or be unable to tell you when they need to “go.” And most heartbreaking of all, senile dogs lose interest in petting, ignore their beloved owners or furry friends, and might not recognise you.

Treating Doggy Senility

While there’s no cure for CCD, the drug Anipryl (selegiline hydrochloride) is approved to treat cognitive dysfunction in dogs. According to veterinary researchers, about one third of treated dogs return to normal, another one third are somewhat helped and the final one third are not helped at all. There also are special diets designed to help turn back the clock on canine senility. Sadly, even improved dogs eventually revert and again develop senility signs.

7 Tips To Keep Canine Brains Youthful

A longer life is not necessarily a better life, especially if your dog no longer recognises you. But there are ways to help your dog stay connected with the world and ward off signs of CCD, simply by exercising his brain.

Brain function studies in dogs proved that problem-solving activities kept them sharp, connected to the world around them, and even extended their lifespan. Just as with people, canine mental and physical stimulation drastically improves your dog’s cognitive function. “Use it or lose it” applies to dogs just as it does to humans. Here are 10 tips to keep Fido mentally spry into his old age.

Do not delay. Keep dogs both mentally and physically spry from puppyhood on. That helps prevent or at least slow brain ageing changes.

Make Play a Daily Treat. Interactive games keep your dog engaged with you and reward him for responding. Toys do not need to be expensive, either. Old socks become tug toys and used tennis balls work great for fetch. They are even more attractive if old and they smell like the owner.

Slim Pudgy Pooches. Overweight dogs have trouble exercising and avoid moving which can allow joints-and brains-to rust. Opt for a slimming programme that is safe for your overweight canine.

Adopt Another Pet. Proper introductions of a playful younger cat or dog can serve as a furry fountain of youth to an old-fogey dog. Even if he is irked at the young whippersnapper, keeping Junior-Pet in line can keep your dog sharp.

Practise Commands. Just because he is old does not mean he cannot perform. Practise the pleasures that make Fido’s heart leap for joy – for obedience champions, put him through his paces. If he has trouble, adjust the Frisbee toss or vault heights. Make necessary accommodations so he can still succeed and feel like the champion he is.

Treats for Tricks. Teach the old dog new tricks using healthy treat rewards. Make treats smelly so he would not have to strain old eyes to see.

Give a Challenge. Puzzle toys that dispense treats turn meals into fun games. For food fanatics, puzzle toys encourage activity and brain-teasing challenges that exercise problem solving abilities.

We cannot predict any dog’s lifespan. When a special dog reaches senior citizenship, we treasure our time together even more. Keeping your dog mentally active helps keep dogs connected with life – and us. And that ensures their golden years sparkle…

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