Water: A Cat’s Friend or Foe?

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Today the forecast is for rain… all day.

For us cats, that means severe depression, all-day napping, and dreams of somewhere dry – like the desert.

See, we don’t exactly hate water, we just don’t like getting wet!

If you have ever left a faucet running or dripping, then you know that our curiosity demands we investigate.

In fact, please take us into the bathroom as you get ready  – the shower is music to our ears.

We love to chase the water droplets down the glass!

Things we love about water:

1. Movement  –  It wiggles when we touch it, but doesn’t get away.

2. Freshness – One water feature that may interest us in drinking more often: the Flowing Pet Fountain!

It plugs into the wall and a small pump circulates water in a constant spinning motion that is fascinating to watch. For hours.  On the box it reads: “the fountain oxygenates the water supply and has a charcoal filter for removing stench and bad taste.” (For cats with more refined taste).cat.fountain

Myths about water: That all cats dislike it.

My wise owner was reading about wild cats and how they enjoy an occasional swim to cool down: “Some big cats in the wild, especially those in hot, arid areas, regularly swim and bathe to stay cool or catch dinner.

The Asian Fishing cat is a skilled swimmer, with partially webbed paws, that dives to nab its prey.”

You mean it goes UNDER the water? Disgusting!

I guarantee you that the Asian Fishing cat is not anywhere in my family tree.

I prefer my fish pre-caught and pre-packaged in a little tin can labeled: TUNA, in oil. (Better for my shiny coat).

So, it is still raining two hours later.

I opened one eye to lazily watch Animal Planet and they were comparing the far superior domesticated cat to the less particular wild cat.

Supposedly, the wild “Turkish Van cat actually delights in getting wet”. (Who got inside this cats head?)

“His ancestors did, too, plunging into lake waters to better cope with the extreme summer heat in the Lake Van region of Turkey, where the breed originated.

They have a unique texture to their cashmere-like coats that make them waterproof which lets them enjoy swimming and other water games.”

This sounded highly suspicious to me, so I checked The International Cat Association (TICA) website to verify a cat LIKING water and found out it was true!

Honestly, what is this world coming to? I believe cats should not swim, our paw-baths are good enough.

Water is not our friend.

When a Cat Discovers Snow!

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I was peering out the window, zeroing in on a tweety-bird, when what to my wondering eyes should appear?

A thousand white, floaty things obscuring my vision!

Are they bugs? Itty bitty birds?

Odd that they only fly down to the ground. Maybe they are edible?

No, my tingly cat-senses tell me these white floaties aren’t alive. I must investigate…

With my tail twitching in anticipation, I leap to the door and meow.

Curiosity is getting the better of me and I must get outside.

First, to verify that the floaties are not edible. Second, to determine if they are dangerous -don’t want to waste one of my nine lives.

After louder, more frequent yeowling my owner finally opens the door, and I advance with caution, tail twitching.

Every smart predator will tell you that half the battle is stalking your prey, anticipating what it will do next. The white floaties have no scent, which is frustrating, so I use my eyes to gage their next move.

They always fall down, and then huddle into piles on the ground.

My best guess is to single out a few in mid-air and catch them in my paw for closer inspection.

I dart out of my hiding place, wildly scrambling on the slippery driveway, all four paws flying through the air.

My surprise attack turns into a skid as I bring down the floaties – but wait!

The minute I catch one, it disappear, leaving behind only a wet spot!

This makes me very angry, and I shake each paw vigorously.

Mommy appears at the doorway, laughing and calling out “Don’t you like the snow, Slider?”

No.

300 Cats and Counting

goathouse

A unique story lies behind why an Italian artist with goats would start a rescue for cats.
Siglinda Scarpa, grew up in Italy, rescuing cats whenever she could.
Her dream was to “have a place where even cats that were unadoptable could live in comfort, with the care, attention and love they deserve.
No cat would be refused due to age, illness or disposition.
The ultimate goal for each cat would be adoption into a loving home.
But the Refuge would be designed so that they could spend ample periods of time living comfortably, awaiting adoption.”

As the founder of The Goat House Refuge seven years ago, Siglinda uses her own acreage and previous pottery studio to house the cats.
The Refuge name refers to several goats living on her property and the Goathouse Pottery Studio in back
that are housed on the property.
There are approximately 300 cats at any given time, with kittens being housed in a self-contained “Kitty Cabana”.
They can roam the outdoor, fenced acreage or enter through a kitty-door into the main “Cat House”.
Sick cats, old cats (Grandma currently holds the record at 19 years of age!), cats awaiting surgery – these are cared for by volunteers and veterinarians that donate their services.

“Our goal is to connect every animal with a loving family who wants to share their life with a wonderful feline companion.
Typically, 10-20 cats are adopted every month from our facility.”
The Refuge visiting hours are from 12:00 to 3:00 pm every day of the year.
Volunteer staff answer questions about each cat’s personality, age and if it enjoys being around other cats/dogs or would be better as an “only child.”

Siglinda donates proceeds from her pottery and special line of coffee to care for the cats.
She is having a special 40% off Valentine’s Sale on Feb 15 and 16 from 11 am to 4 pm at her Goathouse Gallery.
Her famous cat mugs, heart-shaped plates, and sculptures will be on display.

If you are interested in visiting the Gallery, her address is: 680 Alton Alston Road, Pittsboro, NC.
Here is the event flyer.

If you would like to visit the pottery gallery, adopt a cat, or volunteer, please check out her website:  Goathouse Refuge

You just have to see it to believe it!!

Thanks so much to Nicole Beatty  one of our pet sitters for writing this article. You can find Nicole and her daughter volunteering at the Goathouse.

What’s In That BIG BOX?

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Cat entertainment can be really affordable – my winter favorite is called the  BIG BOX.

To find this novelty, please stop by any grocery/drug store and ask for a BIG cardboard box, at least three feet wide.
When you bring it home, tip it sideways and open the flaps part way.
You see, I am curious by nature, and this provides a new space for me to explore.
A fortress to hide inside, a place to attack from, a different napping spot – boxes are so versatile!

Please cut a hole in the box side so that I can peek out, or perhaps slide a paw through and swipe at anything that passes by!

Two more features you can add to the BIG BOX that I simply adore:

1. Taping a piece of string to the side and dangling it over the opening
2. Rubbing cat-nip onto a toy and tossing it inside the box

Did you know that a cat’s sense of smell is 1,000 times that of a human?
The smell of the box to me is exotic and interesting.
With one sniff I can identify what was inside and who handled the box.

Fascinating fact: “ The human nose has about 5 million olfactory receptors, microscopic proteins that allow us to detect odors.
With 45 million to 80 million receptors, cats have a far better sense of smell—but they can’t measure up to the average dog, whose snout holds between 149 million and 300 million receptors.”

So if I seem bored with my same old toys, grab a box or three the next time you are out shopping!
Four Paws Pet Sitting Services has some really good and fun cat sitters.
Call them! 919-388-PAWS

Tennis For Dogs

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Today was sunny with a light breeze and I headed out with my owner for a few games of tennis.

Now, I have an important role and it’s called “Retriever”.

Anyone with a medium to large sized dog can play this version:

Step 1: Owners hit the tennis ball back and forth inside the gate and you follow it with your eyes (great neck exercise) outside the gate.

Step 2: When the yellow tennis ball goes outside the court, you must hunt it down (mental challenge and nose exercise)

Step 3: Grab ball in mouth and carry back to tennis court (strengthening jaw/neck muscles)

Step 4: Occasionally, I find a mystery ball that doesn’t have my owners scent. This one is called a “keeper” and I get to keep it all to myself!!

For dog owners everywhere, there is a great toy that accompanies tennis balls and makes it easier to reach down, scoop it up, and throw it farther: Chuckit! Sport Launcher found in most pet stores and on-line.

There is also a website for affordable bulk dog tennis balls that don’t have wool so I will not get hairballs: Pet Tennis Balls

Do you need a pet sitter in the Raleigh, Cary Apex, NC area?

We would be honored to be your fur baby’s sitter or dog walker and we love to play games and throw balls.

Call Four Paws Pet Sitting Services! 919- 388-PAWS

How To Get Your Pooch To Stop Jumping On People

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Why do dogs jump up on people? If it is a visitor, they are curious and want to smell who has come into their space. If it is their owner, they are excited and want to greet you.

As pack leader of your household, you will need to consistently check your dog, moving them away from guests into a sitting position until the dog calms down . Using a leash reinforces  not being able to jump-up by controlling their movement.

“As humans, the strongest scents we project comes from our genital areas and from our mouths. We’ve all had the experience of a less-than-well-mannered dog sniffing our crotch areas – though within the dog world, sniffing genitals is good manners! Since we tend to cover our genital areas with clothes, the next strongest scent for a dog to check out is coming from our mouths…. this will make dogs  want to jump up to get closer to our faces and find out what’s going on there, ” Cesar Millan.

Make sure that the consequence of your dog sitting down is that you come over and praise them, giving affection. Conversely, the consequence of your dog coming over and jumping up is that you move away and ignore them.

1. With Visitors:
Management behavior training: putting your dog on a leash every time there is a visitor so that you control their ability to jump up. They can’t practice this bad behavior, so they learn that if they sit, the person will still come over and give them attention.

Turning your back and greet them when they calm down.
Let the dog say hello for 3-5 seconds, then gently pull them back and reward calmly with a treat.
Good behavior equals saying hello to guest, bad behavior equals moving away from a guest.
It may take 4-6 weeks of consistently repeating this controlled greeting.

2. With owner:
Alternate behavior training: When you see that your dog is ready to launch up at you, turn your body away from him, stand straight and do not look at him. Then, give him something else to do with a command of: “Sit.” This is asserting dog obedience, leader of the pack behavior on your part. At the very least, it deflects him off you. During this process don’t make any eye contact with your dog and don’t say a thing. Ignore your dog and make it clear to him that when he jumps he gets nothing from you.

When your dog has settled down and stops jumping, you then initiate contact with him. Get down to his level and lavish him with praise and back scratch. If you are consistent, your dog will learn the new behavior.

It will take frequent  practice to perfect the proper greeting routine, and may require you to leave through one door ( back or garage doors) and return through the front door over and over again.

New Year’s Resolution For Me, Slider the Cat

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“Slider, have you made a New Year’s Resolution for 2014?”, my owner asked last night. I paused, contemplating my ample belly rolls, and weakly meowed “Yes”.  Maybe dropping a couple pounds by Valentine’s day could be the start of my resolution: to fit under the sofa so that I can catch the laser dot!

How to begin? A cat, by nature, does not walk, run, or do any form of exercise unless motivated by food! It is so misleading, one TINY Fancy Feast Tuna  treat  has 34 calories! Snacks now being my nemesis, I vowed to stick with healthy dry Purina and get regular exercise… chasing the LASER DOT.

Hate to admit it, but I rather enjoy racing after the taunting red light as it darts around the carpet, up the wall, and then under the sofa. It always ends up hiding under furniture in the living room – does it know I am a few pounds too wide to fit?

This new exercise regiment I will fondly call: “Couch to Laser-thin.”

The strategy is:

1. First, stalk the light, tail twitching for maximum calorie burning.

2. Next, pounce using 10 Joules of energy for effect. This causes the laser dot to jolt forward, surprised by the power of the pounce!

3. Finally, race after the demon dot for 20 seconds, building up by 10 second intervals daily.
I promise, you WILL catch it… one of these days!!

(Note to my person: I get annoyed when I cannot catch the laser dot so you may want to have it end up on something I can attack, like a toy or scratching post!)

(Second note: Did you know the Kong Laser Cat toy is only $2.60 on one of my favorite websites: www.chewy.com)

Yawn, I’ll just play laser on my iPhone, hehe.

How to Get That Healthy Winter Fur Coat (for your dog, not you)!

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What is a dog owner to do with the havoc this weather wrecks on your dog’s fur coat? This winter the temperature is swinging between sunny/60  and windy/17 degrees! Here are three things to consider for a healthy fur coat: bathing, grooming, and diet.

1. BATHING
Dogs should really only be bathed twice a year – overbathing drys the skin and coat.
You can always go the easy route and do a quick wash-cloth wipe down for your furry baby. One commercial wipe is Earthbath All Natural Hypo-Allergenic and Fragrance Free or use plain old baby wipes.

When washing, use either a dog shampoo or a baby shampoo. These won’t hurt their eyes and is non-toxic. Vet’s recommend shampoos like: Burt’s Bees Oatmeal Shampoo,  Halo Cloud Nine herbal shampoo, Vet Solutions Aloe and Oatmeal Shampoo, and 1-800-Pet meds even has their own moisture shampoo!

The ASPCA has the following statement:
” Because of their activities, breed types, or individual skin or coat types, some dogs need baths more often than others. Other dogs spend lots of time outdoors and get dirty fast. However, if you bathe your dog too often, you might cause skin irritation and flaking, so be sure to check with your dog’s veterinarian to find out how frequently you should give your dog baths”.

It is recommended by Cesar Millan (the Dog Whisperer) that you “bathe a dog with normal skin once a month with dog shampoo or human baby shampoo. If you want to bathe more often than that, use a soap-free or moisturizing shampoo to prevent the skin from becoming dry. Unless a dog has skin problems, there is no specific need to bathe the dog except to make him a more enjoyable (smelling) companion.”

2.GROOMING
Your dog’s coat has natural oils on his skin, and brushing every day helps spread those oils throughout the coat,  keeps it shiny, and removes any dirt/burrs. Bristle brushes can be used on all fur. For short fur, Four Paws Magic Coat Red Pet Love Glove or a close-spaced bristle brush. For Medium fur, a pin brush to get the strays or a slicker brush with fine wire bristles to remove mats and tangles. For Long fur, a wire pin brush or medium bristle work best, although, there is the Furminator Deshedder if you really want to get the undercoat fur.

3. DIET
You don’t want a dull coat or dandruff, so making sure your dog EATS well is important. Healthy fats play an important role in keeping your dog’s coat in good condition. If your dog has dry skin in the winter, try adding Olive Oil to his food. Vegetable oils are also a source of omega-6 fatty acids. Pet stores sell omega-6 supplements, but “honestly, sunflower oil or safflower oil works fine,”Veterinary Partner.com says. For a small dog, stir in one teaspoon of oil per meal. For a large dog, give one tablespoon per meal.

If you need pet sitting in the Raleigh, Cary, Apex, NC area…

Call Four Paws Pet Sitting Services (919) 388-PAWS

Our Vacation visits include lots of love and brushing too!

Thank you Nicole B., one of our pet sitters in Cary, NC for writing this article.

Helping Cats Live In Harmony

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Cats, like people, don’t always get along with one another. Before you bring home a new cat talk to your vet or pet sitter. These professional animal lovers can help you decide if a new cat will get along with your current pets. In most cases, the pets work things out amongst themselves. Here are some tips that you can use to increase the peace among your cat friends.

When you introduce a new feline member of the family, you can expect some personality conflicts. Kittens are going to annoy older cats, and mischievous cats will thoroughly enjoy taunting the more easy-going cats in the family. This behavior is normal. You can try to head off problems by gradually introducing the new cat or cats to established pets in the household. You may put the new cat in a crate or spare bedroom and let the cats hear and smell each other before they meet face to face. Next, try to allow the cats to see one another without being able to interact. This gives the cats a chance to get used to the idea of a new friend.

Once the cats have seen each other from afar, you can let them be together in a neutral room while you are present. Make sure that the new cat has its own food dish and litter box. This can prevent territorial arguments. Be prepared for hissing, spitting, swiping, or a total lack of acknowledgment. Cats will not fight to the death as dogs do. If they fight, they will give it their best shot and then someone will back down. It is advisable to make sure that cats with claws have had a nail trim before being exposed to new pets.

Make sure that you don’t ignore your other pets when you bring a new one home. Jealously is a major reason that fights start. If anything, give your established pet more attention, while the new one explores his/her new home. You can also provide distraction by using toys to play with the cats. Having fun is a relaxing way to break the ice.

If you need to go away, have a pet sitter come to your home rather than boarding your cats. They will be happier and much more comfortable in their own surrounding. It is stressful, especially for a new pet to go to another new environment, even for a brief period of time.

If a cat begins to exhibit aggressive behavior for no apparent reason, the owner needs to watch their pet carefully to determine what the cause of the problem is. Observe carefully to see if you can pinpoint a pattern to the aggression. For example, does it happen around mealtimes or when you are giving attention to the cats. If the conflict seems to be over food, attention, or sleeping quarters, try to provide a variety of options. Increase the number of food bowls, cat beds, and litter boxes. Offer plenty of vertical spaces and hiding places such as cat trees. Something as simple as a cardboard box may be appreciated. Remember that cats enjoy quiet, secluded places to relax. If conflicts are not about food, you can use food, treats, and mealtimes to help the cats develop a positive association with being near one another. Feed close to one another if they will tolerate it and reward them with treats for not showing aggression.

Feline pheromones such as Feliway can help calm cats and facilitate their acceptance of other cats. If you cannot figure out why your cat is exhibiting aggression, consult your veterinarian. Your pet may be ill and need medical attention. Aggression is a common sign of discomfort or pain. You should separate your cats if any of the following occurs:

  • The cats have injured one another, requiring medical care.
  • One cat becomes ill because of stress from being bullied.
  • One cat begins to hide, and a medical condition has been ruled out.

Looking for a cat sitter in the Raleigh, Cary, NC area?

Call Four Paws Pet Sitting Services! (919) 388-PAWS

My Dog is Destructive, Help!

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Destructive behavior comes in many forms, from chewing a plant to total destruction of a room. It is one of the leading causes of overcrowded animal shelters.

Try to determine why your dog is being destructive

  • Boredom is the number one cause of destructive behavior. Many suburban dogs lack the opportunities to explore and socialize
  • Young dogs will frequently chew due to teething. They don’t know the difference between an expensive piece of furniture and any other piece of wood.
  • Playing tug of war excessively with an excitable dog or with a breed which has a tendency to hang onto things (ie. Terriers) will make a dog much more likely to play tug of war with household curtains, rugs, etc!
  • Walk your dog at least once per day, even if you have a fenced area
  • Exercise your dog off-lead whenever possible in a safe area, or use a long lead
  • Try to go to different places with your dog to allow for variety and a opportunity to explore
  • Train your dog regularly to give him/her work to do
  • Allow your dog regular contact with other dogs to allow him/her social interaction with peers
  • Play with your dog regularly and spend quality time with him/her
  • If you work long hours, consider having a pet sitter or neighbor come over to play with your dog
  • Provide lots of mental stimulation via exercise, toys, and social opportunities
  • Consider putting in a dog door
  • Consider leaving a radio or television on
  • Think about getting a companion dog or cat if you have a single dog household.

Prevention and Cure

Remember that dogs are social and emotional beings.

They need stimulation and opportunities to interact with other animals and people.

If you provide activities for your dog, you will keep them so busy that they will have less time or inclination to exhibit destructive behavior.

If you work long hours, consider hiring a professional dog walker. This will really help with breaking up the boredom for your pup and give him much needed exercise.

Make sure your are using a company that is reliable, bonded and insured.