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How to Pick a Cat

 

Getting a cat can be an exciting and intimidating experience, but with some guidance and tips the process can be easy and rewarding. There are a few key factors that will help you choose a new pet, such as age, and personality.

  • Age can be a huge factor.

There are benefits to adopting a kitten or an adult cat.

Kittens are a great addition to a family with children or dogs. Younger kitties are more accepting of new circumstances and easier to adapt. However, many kittens at the time of adoption (usually 8-10 weeks old) have not fully grown into their personality. Any feline you adopt from a shelter at this age should already be fixed and have gotten their first few vaccinations. Yet, they will still need their rabies vaccination and other vaccinations. These can added to the upfront medical cost of the kitten.

One benefit to older cats is that their personality is fully developed. Additionally, adult felines are usually already fixed. Plus up to date on all of their vaccinations for the year. Senior cats are a good addition to many families; most seniors are calm and just want to spend their golden years giving you their affection.

  • Choosing the personality is very important.

Just like humans, cats can have many personalities.

What temperament you choose depends on what type of companion you are looking for. Do you want a cat that will play with you? A cat who loves to sit in your lap? Or a cat who is independent? Shelter staff should be able to tell you more about a cat’s personality.

If you are looking for a playful cat, look for cats who come to the front of their cage to greet you and are interested in toys. For a lap companion look for those who seem to enjoy being rubbed. For a calmer, independent cat look for a cat who seems relaxed.

Some felines do not show their true personality in a shelter setting (being in a shelter is pretty stressful), so it is helpful to spend the most amount of time with them as possible. If they were in foster care, you may be able to talk to the foster family about their behavior in home setting. How a cat acts in a shelter is a good preview of how the cat will act at home.

Adopting a new feline family member is a huge decision, but with these tips and the help of shelter staff, you should be able to pick out the perfect best friend.

How do I Know if my Pet is Overheating?

 

As we prepare for the start of school it easy to think that summer is almost, but the hot weather still pounds down and the heatstroke is still very real.

So, how do you know if your pet is overheating? And even more importantly what do you do if it’s happening to your pet.

How do I spot overheating in my pet? 

  • Constant panting
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty walking, weakness or wobbliness
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Collapse
  • Bright red, grey, bluish or purple gums
  • Seizures

 

What do I do if I realize that my pet is suffering from heatstroke?

  • Remove them from heat immediately, but be careful not to over cool your dog too quickly.  
  • Lay them on a cool surface, like a tile floor in an air conditioned room.
  • Use cold compresses on their neck, armpits, and groin areas.
  • Gently wet their paws and ears with a sponge or washcloth
  • Take their rectal temperature to give to the vet
  • Get your pet to ANY vet ASAP. Call your vet on the way, but at this moment the closest vet is the best vet.
  • If you are not at home alone, have one person find the closest vet near by while you do the above subtle cooling techniques.
  • Call your vet and let them know of the situation in case you need a follow up appointment.

Things you want to make sure NOT to do:

Do not use cold water or ice, over cooling can cause blood vessels to constrict which traps the excess heat in the body’s core and can end up doing more harm than good.

Do not force your dog to drink, give them a fresh bowl of water, but do not force it if they are not interested.

Do not leave them unattended or let them “sleep it off.” Similar to any other trauma, letting them sleep it off or giving the time to relax alone can be detrimental. They can easily end up worse off in this situation.

 

The dog days of summer may be upon on us, but it doesn’t mean that we have to suffer with over heating. Check back next week to find out how to keep your Fort Collins pet safe in the sun!

What are the Best Pet Sitting Options for My Older Cat?

 

Leaving our pets at home can add stress to any trip, but when your older cat is the one being left at home, it can make it all the more stressful. Luckily, there are a few good pet sitting options for your older cat.

Let’s take a look at a few of these options:

  • Hire a pet sitter

This is by far the best option, but sometimes people tend to think it is too expensive. But making sure your cat has the best care while being in the comfort of home is worth it. Older cats don’t like to be taken away from their comfort zone, so bringing the caretaker to them is a great option.

  • Board them at the vet

Boarding is also good for a cat that doesn’t mind being away from home. It can be hard for cats to adapt to the sterilized, yet loving environment; but it doesn’t mean it’s not a good option. Older cats sometimes have medical conditions that can be best left attended to a veterinarian while you are away.

  • Have a dependable friend/family watch them

This is often popular decision because it’s pretty inexpensive. This can work when you have a really close friend care for them as one of their own. The problem with this option is that sometimes is when an emergency happens. If they have a flat tire, accident or aother situation, your pet may take a back seat to their situation. Pet sitters and boarding facilities have systems in place to ensure that your pet has care, no matter what emergencies arise.

As you can see, there are a lot of different pet sitting options all with their own respective pro’s and con’s. It will always come down to your specific situation, but we are always here to help!

If you’re looking for a pet sitter don’t hesitate to give us a call and set up an appointment! 

 

 

Fun Things to Do with Your Cat on a Nice Day

 

Flowers are popping up, the life and fragrances of spring are all around us. The sun practically begs you to get outside and play. It’s easy to get your dog out to the park for some fun in the sun, but what about the poor kitty stuck inside watching sunny days pass from their perch? Animals love to be outside, it’s in their nature, but if your cat is indoor only they don’t get as much or any time to enjoy it.

That doesn’t always have to be the case. If you think your feline fur baby is feeling left out, there are some great fun and safe outdoor activities you can enjoy with your cat on a nice day.

Visit the vet for a check up

Update shots if needed and talk to them about flea, tick and mosquito treatments along with any other health risks. Let them know your plans and ask for any special vet tips they may have up their sleeve.

Stock up on supplies

Cats are creatures of comfort any way you slice it. They are also a flight risk when outside, so make sure to get a nice harness and leash. Bring a bag full of treats, water, travel bowls, disposable litter box and anything else you think would help them enjoy the day. Also, make sure they have an updated tag and new collar if the old one was worn.

Leash training basics

A few weeks before your outdoor adventure get your cat used to the leash and harness or walking jacket. Leave it out around the house, play with it and give them treats when you try to slip it on so they think of it in a positive way. Also, never hook a leash just to a collar, cats need a harness or jacket to keep their neck safe and avoid them slipping out. Once they are used to it, start to take him or her around the yard or on the patio; somewhere quiet and close to home. 

Now your cat is ready to spend some time outside with you on a nice day, but what should you do?

  • Take them for a walk – even if they don’t like walking with the harness, they would probably love being strolled around like the diva baby they are.
  • Pet Festivals or Stores – Many stores and pet advocacy groups hold spring festivals that would be perfect to bring your favorite feline.
  • Day Trip – Take them to the beach, the park or even hiking. Whether they are on a leash and harness or in a stroller, taking in the fresh air and wildlife is always great.

No matter what you choose, just make sure you stay with your cat at all times. Watch for dehydration if it gets warm during the day or if you’re on a long walk. You know your cat better than anyone, if she seems stressed out then it may be time to call it a day and try something less adventurous next time. But I bet sooner or later they will learn to love their new outdoor side of life.  

What are some fun things you do with your cat on a nice day? Sound off below and let us know!

 

Valentine’s Day Gifts For Cats

 

Is your kitty your Valentine this year? What do you get him or her? Cats generally don’t like chocolate or roses, but these gifts are sure to win your cat’s heart over. Here are some great Valentine’s Day gifts for cats.

Catnip 

Most kitties love catnip! Catnip can be a great Valentine’s Day gift for cats. For a gift sure to please buy or make your kitty a catnip toy. Making a catnip toy at home is easy.

Catnip sock toy:

  1. Start with a children’s or small sock, catnip and a needle and thread
  2. Fill the sock with catnip
  3. Sew the top of the sock closed with the needle and thread
  4. Give the sock to your kitty

Another great catnip gift is fresh catnip. You can find fresh catnip at pet stores or grow it from seeds.

Treats 

Treats are awesome Valentine’s Day gifts for cats. A cool new treat is flaked tuna. These are thin flakes of freeze dried tuna that can be fed as treats or as a topping for food. For some homemade treat ideas, check out our previous blog posts on Valentine’s Day treats for cats.

Collars 

A new collar is a fun Valentine’s Day gift for cats. Many cats will love a collar with hearts on it (and maybe a bell). Be sure to fit the collar correctly to keep your cat safe.

Furniture 

A cat tree is a sure win for Valentine’s Day gifts for cats. For a new cat tree check out your local petstore. For a smaller gift try a new cat bed or scratching post. Want to make a homemade cat bed? Take a small box and decorate it, with lots of hearts using construction paper and child-safe markers. Place a pillow in the box and you have a wonderful DIY cat bed.

Valentine’s Day can be a great holiday to share with your cat. These Valentine’s Day gifts for cats are sure to make your cat’s day.

How to Get Your Cat to Play

 

Playing with fido or fluffy is one of the best parts of being a pet parent. There are a million different ways to play. Here are some that we have found most helpful for playing with your cat.

Many people find playing with your cat to a bit more difficult than playing with their dogs. Some cats love to play, others need to be coaxed into it. Play is so important to your cat’s health and your relationship with your cat. It is recommended that you play with you adult cat for at least 15 minutes a day.

 

Find a toy your cat likes. There are a million cat toys on the market, so there is one that your cat will like (or you can make on, see our article on cat enrichment). As a pet sitter, a toy I find is commonly liked is the feather/ball on a stick toy. These are available all over or can be made at home by tieing a toy or feather onto a piece of string. Many cats also like toys with catnip in them. These can easily be found at the pet store or can be made at home.

Learn how your cat likes to play. Cats have different play styles. Some like to stalk, some like to bat, others like to chase. Start with a stick toy and wave it in front of him. Start slowly then move the toy around of the floor. Your cat will likely try to bat at it and possibly catch in in his mouth.Ideally your cat will get up and chase the toy. This is the chase play style. If your cat sees the toy and slowly moves toward it before pouncing, this is the stalk play style. Try balls and stick or string toys with chase players. For stalk players use a laser pointer or long string with a toy tied on the end that you move slowly around the room.

 

Why is play important? 

Play has physical and mental benefits for you and your cats. In the United States, it is estimated that 58% of cats are overweight or obese. Playing is a great way to trick your cat into exercising. Using chase toys are a great way to get your cat up and moving. Start with short, slow play sessions then build up to longer and higher intensity play sessions. Play also helps mentally stimulate your cat. Many behavioral problems in cats are associated with your kitty being bored or under- stimulated. Playing helps activate your kitty’s brain. Try a catnip filled toy, thrown or hidden around the house to help activate your cat’s mind.

 

Play is very important for your cat, and one of my favorite parts of being your pet sitter!

 

Can a Pet Help with My Kid’s Autism?

 

One of my favorite parts of being a pet parent is the comfort I receive from my animals. Many people feel similarly, in fact animal assisted therapy has become significantly more common in the past five years.This positive effect is seen and well studied in children with autism.With the rate of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) among children increasing worldwide, it’s comforting to know your family’s fuzzy friend can be of service to your diagnosed child.

A recent Purdue University study monitored the impact of Guinea pigs in classrooms. The new study took it a step further and studied the impact of interacting animals with ASD children; they wanted to prove playing with Guinea pigs would reduce the children’s social stress. Study groups included a mix of “typical” kids and ASD kids and monitored their reactions to multiple conditions, both with and without the Guinea pigs. The researchers believed the ASD kids would show high levels of anxiety when the Guinea pigs were not included in their activity, and they were right on! Activities that incorporated the pigs resulted in lower levels of stress and produced a remarkable calming effect.

Previous studies showed children with ASD demonstrated improved social skills after only a few months of interacting with Guinea pigs. And a separate study found the children talk, laugh and smile more and cry, whine and frown less in the presence of the playful pigs.

Any animal can have positive emotional affects on you and your child, but furry animals tend to work best.

If you are the parent of an ASD child as well as a furry one, be sure to give the furry one an extra treat and a nice cuddle as a “thank you” for his fortuitous friendship.

5 Tips to Stop Cat Scratching

 

Cats scratch for a variety of reasons, such as scent marking, excitement, boredom or simply stretching. However, this natural behavior can turn destructive if another outlet for scratching behavior is not provided. The following are 5 tips for help stop cat scratching at your house.

1. Buy a scratching post

There are many types of scratching posts on the market. Some are upright and others are on the ground. There are also a variety of materials, such cardboard and twine. Try different options to see what your cat likes to try and stop cat scratching on your furniture.

2. Make your scratching post interesting

Cats have scent glands in their claws, which is why scratching is used to mark territory. Often times cats will be attracted to scratch something that smells like their pheromones. Catnip mimics the pheromone cats release, so it attracts your cat to the scratching post. Rubbing some into the part your cat scratches can help get your cat started. There are also some artificial pheromone sprays that work very well, such as Feliway. With the spays follow the same procedure as the cat nip.

3. Provide entertainment

Scratching can be related to boredom or anxiety, so providing other outlets can minimize scratching. Provide a cat window (see our article on cat enrichment), or give interactive toys.

4. Discourage scratching

Scratching can be discouraged on certain things (like your $1000 dollar couch), but it still needs to be redirected. There are some common and simple methods for discouraging scratching. One of the more popular methods is putting tin foil on the surface being scratched. If your cat likes to scratch the couch arms, tape tin foil on the couch arm to stop cat scratching. The cats generally don’t like the feel and sound scratching the foil makes, so they will find something better to scratch. Double sided tape can also be used to discourage scratching.These methods are good at discouraging scratching but be sure to provide a scratching post to redirect your cat to.

5. Give your cat a paw-decure

Cats often turn to scratching to shorten their nails, like using a nail file. Often this can be solved by simply trimming your cat’s nails. Chat with your vet about the proper length for your cat’s nails and how to trim them. If you do not want to do frequent nail trims check out soft claws. These are plastic tips you place on your cat’s nails.With the tips on your cat cannot destructively scratch. These tips are glued on, and last about 3-6 weeks. Many people have their vet put the soft claws on, but they are fairly easy to apply at home.

 

If scratching has become a problem you can’t solve, talk to your vet. There may be a medical condition underlying this behavior. Declawing is never a good option to deal with scratching. Declawing is an invasive and painful procedure for your cat, and causes medical issues later in life.

While scratching can become a problem behavior, with these tips you should be able to solve most destructive scratching behaviors.

How to Find the Best Price for Pet Medications

 

Owning a pet is a rewarding but costly commitment. Veterinary care can be expensive and the medications used for treatments can really add up. In most cases buying the medication directly from your vet (if they carry it) is the most expensive option. However there are some good options to cut pet medication costs while getting the same quality medication.These options include human pharmacies, online pharmacies and compounding pharmacies.  Check out these tips on how to find the best price for pet medications.

Human Pharmacies 

Many pet medications are human medications in different doses. I have had good luck with the King Soopers pharmacy, Walmart pharmacy and Costco pharmacy for pet medications. As a bonus Costco pharmacies usually carry pet specific medications like Frontline and Heartguard. When trying to find a medication at a human pharmacy make sure that they can give you a dose small enough for your pet. Check out GoodRx( http://www.goodrx.com/), this is a site that compares prices of a certian medication at pharmaices in your area.

Pros:

  • Prescriptions can be filled the same day (usually)
  • They are generally cheaper than the vet’s office
  • Some have membership deals

Cons:

  • The dose you need may not be available
  • Only human medications are carried

 

Online Pet Pharmacies 

There are over 20 online pet pharmacies that you can order from today, but not all are safe. Many of these fake or non-accredited pharmacies will provide expired medication, incorrect doses or the incorrect medication. These can all have negative consequences on your pet’s health. The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy has a list of certified and trusted online pharmacies to use (http://www.awarerx.org/get-informed/safe-acquisition/recommended-vet-vipps-online-pharmacies). Most of the time your vet will have you fill out a liability form before they will send prescriptions to an online pharmacy. This works if you have a pet with a chronic condition (like hypothyroidism) and are good at planning ahead.

Pros:

  • Usually the cheapest option
  • Medication is made specifically for pets

Cons:

  • Medication needs to be shipped after it is ordered ( there is a delay)
  • Requires planning ahead
  • Temperature sensitive medications could go bad in the mail

 

Compounding 

Compounding is done at special pharmacies called compounding pharmacies. They create medications at specific doses and in specific mediums. Many pet parents need drugs compounded when the dose they need is smaller than what is commonly offered.

Pros:

  • Specific dose to what your pet needs
  • More limited ingredients

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Compounding pharmacies can be hard to find

Finding inexpensive, effective and safe pet medications can be a challenge, but with the help of these tips it should be a breeze. Once you have gotten the medication you get to move on to the fun part, administering the medication to your pet. Don’t worry though, your Sidehill Sitter is a pro at giving medication to pets!

 

10 Plants to Avoid With Your Pets

 

Many people have homes filled with plants toxic to dogs and cats.  Because these plants commonly sold at the garden center, they are assumed to be safe. Many people never have an issue with a toxic plant and their pets. These issues tend to occur if the animal is bored or stressed and finds the plants to chew on. Here is a list of ten plants to avoid with your pets, or put out of reach of your pet.

  1. Aloe: aloe and its sap are both toxic to dogs and cats
  2. Lilies: they are very toxic even in small doses and can cause kidney problems
  3. Marijuana: this is pretty intuitive but Colorado has seen a rise in marijuana related pet poisoning in the recent years
  4. Amaryllis: ingestion can cause vomiting,GI distress and tremors
  5. Sago Plant: all parts of the prickly tree are poisonous but the seeds are the most toxic
  6. Tulip: the bulb is the most toxic portion of the plant, this poison can cause cardiac issues
  7. English Ivy: all parts of this plant are poisonous, and can cause GI issues
  8. Pathos: this common houseplant causes swelling on the mouth and tongue
  9. Chrysanthemum: these pretty flowers can skin issues if your pet comes in contact with it and its sap, and can cause vomiting if eaten
  10. Fruit trees: some part of the fruit tree can harm your pet (this includes citrus, apple seeds, and grapes)

 

What to do if you suspect poisoning?

Most toxic plants cause gastrointestinal issues when ingested. Be on the look out for any vomiting, diarrhea or not wanting to eat in your pet. Also check to see if your pet has chewed the plant or there is other evidence your pet got into the plant.

The ASPCA has a free pet poison control line.This line is open 24/7 and can advise on any type of poison. They will generally direct you to the vet once you figure out if what your pet ate is poisonous. Get to the vet as quickly as possible.

Poison control line (888) 426-4435 

What can I do to prevent pet poisoning? 

The best thing you can do is be aware. Be on the look out for signs your pet is interested in the plant, like sniffing and licking it. Also be aware of your pet’s mood. Many poisoning issues occur when your pet is bored or stressed.

If you have a particularly adventurous pet who likes to eat new things, try to avoid these plants in general.Choose plants that are pet safe, like most mint plants.

 

Pet poisoning turns fatally when treatment is not received quickly. Unfortunately it takes many owners too long to notice the symptoms and suspect poisoning, so it is too late by the time they seek treatment for their pet. Always be aware of the poison risks in your house and look for signs of plant ingestion if your animal is acting odd.