Monday, May 21, 2012

Protecting Your Cat During a Natural Disaster

Hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, and more. In most areas of the world, natural disasters happen on occasion. And with these disasters often comes the recommendation (or order) to evacuate. But many people do not heed these warnings out of a desire to protect their pets. During an evacuation, it can be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to take your cat with you, and most shelters will not accept pets during an evacuation.

Natural disasters of all kinds, including tornadoes and wildfires, can leave your feline companions stranded or even lost. The best thing you can do is to be prepared just in case you and your cat are separated during a natural disaster.

Before disaster strikes, get ready. Get a collar for your pet and make sure that collar has a visible ID tag. This tag should have a phone number, but during a natural disaster, phone lines might be out. Choose a cell phone number or an out-of-area number for the tag instead. Also consider adding a tag to all carriers and necessary supplies, just in case. You might want to microchip your cat as an added identification.

Go out and purchase a decent carrier and leash for each cat. In fact, all your pets should have their own individual carrier and leash, labelled with the pet's name, your name, and a phone number. This way you'll be ready to take your cat with you. But also plan to be separated and keep a small file in your purse to help you identify your cat. This file should have photos, health certificates, and anything else you can use to prove your cat is actually your cat.

You may have to make arrangements for your cat to stay elsewhere during a natural disaster. Make a list of friends and family who are willing to care for your cat and also create a comprehensive list of kennels and other boarding facilities. There are also many hotels that will accept patrons with pets. However, many of these facilities require that you provide proof of up-to-date vaccinations. Keep your cat's shots current and keep that proof in the file in your purse.

Have a kit with a week's worth of supplies ready for transport. This kit should include food, water, cat litter, bedding, and any medication your cat requires. You should take your cat with you during an evacuation if at all possible. Remember, if it's not safe for you to stay home, it's not safe for your cat.

If you do not have to evacuate, keep your cat indoors. And do not leave your cat in the basement. Basements are the first place to flood during a natural disaster and you cat could drown. Locate the safest place in your home and put the cat's carrier there.

Becoming separated from your cat is a real possibility during a natural disaster. If this happens to you, don't panic. When you return home, call your local animals shelters immediately. They may have picked up your cat at some point. Also look around your neighborhood. Your cat may not have gone far or might be camping out at a friend's.

Natural disasters are frightening for both you and your pets. However, if you plan ahead and keep a level head, you and your pets should come out the other side of whatever disaster befalls you with a minimum amount of anguish.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cat Food Palatability

Palatability is one of those large words that describes something very simple. It describes how well an animal, in this case a cat, likes the aroma, texture, and flavor of a food. It might be assumes that taste and aroma are the most important part of a well-liked cat food. However, texture and shape are just as important to your cat. Let's talk about each component of cat food in the order your cat will appreciate them.

A cat will first smell the cat food. Does it have a scent at all? Is that scent overpowering or tantalizing? If it smells foul, the cat will walk away. The cat will make a snap decision based on the scent of the cat food. If it passes the sniff test, the cat will continue to check out the food.

When the cat finally tastes the food, there will be three things that will determine whether the cat will continue eating. Taste, texture, and shape will all be evaluated at roughly the same time. If your cat doesn't like the taste, he'll likely walk away after that first bite. It may take a couple more bites for your feline companion to evaluate the texture of the food. If your cat chews akwardly and has no medical problems contributing to this, then the shape is probably less than accepable.

If the food you're serving doesn't meet your cats expectations in regards to aroma, texture, taste, or shape, consider a different food. Sticking with a food your cat does not consider palatable is very like forcing someone who hates mushrooms to eat an entire plateful. Take your cat's preferences seriously and he'll thank you for it later.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lawn and Garden Hazards for Cats

Spring rolls around and we find ourselves wandering down the lawn & garden aisle of our local home improvement store. Maybe we even take a trip to the local nursery. But as you stroll through these areas, take a look at many of the products offered. Most of them will be toxic to cats and other animals, so you'll have to be careful when it comes to the products you use on your lawn and in your garden. Some of these products can kill your cat while others can bring on serious illness.

Almost all insecticides are highly toxic to felines in any concentration. These products, used to reduce or eliminate the number of annoying and damaging insects, should be used sparringly. Try some natural alternatives to insecticides first, such as soap and water.

Herbicides and fertilizers are also highly toxic, but usually only in their concentrated form. If you must use them, keep the bags and containers out of reach of your cats. Once applied to your lawn, keep your cats out of the area for at least an hour. After that, your pets should be able to safely walk on the lawn. However, you should read the manufacturer's directions first, as they may recommend a longer wait time before permitting pets on the lawn.

Many gardeners have a problem with pests of the larger variety. But beware. Poisons designed to kill mice, rats, gophers, moles, and other vermin will also kill your cat. Even the smallest amount of these products can kill or seriously injure your cat and there is usually nothing your local vet can do to safe your poor kitty. Keep them safely tucked away. When you must use them, place them only in areas your cat cannot access. This same rule applies for snail and slug baits.

Mulch is normally safe enough, but check the ingredient list. Mulches that contain cacoa bean can be toxic. Unfortunately, they also smell great, especially to cats. When you first lay it down, your cats may not be able to resist the delicious chocolately aroma. Keep your cats away from it until after a heavy rainfall, which usually reduces both the aroma and the toxicity of the mulch.

One product that many people think nothing of is citronella candles. They're great for keeping away the mosquitos but if a cat starts to eat a candle, there can be serious and lifethreatening problems. Sometimes even the gas emitted from a burning candle can cause a problem, so don't let kitty sit right next to a burning candle.

Setting up your garden in the spring shouldn't be fraught with dangers for your feline companions. Read all warning labels before you purchase any product and apply only according to the manufacturer's directions. When it doubt, keep it away from kitty, because even seemingly innocent products can cause illness or even death for your cat.