Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bringing a New Kitten Home

By Kirk McKay Courtesy of PetsMatter Newsletter
Bringing a new kitten home is exciting. The following guidelines will help you and your kitten adjust to this big change in your lives.
Kittens can leave their mother and littermates after they have been weaned, usually at eight to ten weeks of age. Like human babies, kittens require special care, including veterinary care, feeding and socialization. The best time to bring a kitten home is when you have at least one or two days to focus on helping him adjust to new surroundings.
To transport your new kitten home safely, you’ll need a carrier. Leaving mom is a big deal for your kitten; a carrier will help her feel more secure. Don’t use another pet’s carrier because its smell could be stressful to your kitten. Place a towel in the carrier for warmth and to absorb urine in case of an accident, and be sure to carry an extra towel.
Kitten Supplies
  • High quality brand-name kitten food with the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the bag or label
  • Food and water bowls; ceramic and metal are preferred because some pets are sensitive to plastic
  • Cat toys that don’t have small parts or string that can come off and be swallowed
  • Cat brush; brush your kitten gently twice weekly
  • Cat toothpaste and toothbrush; it’s best to start toothbrushing during kittenhood; aim for at least three times per week
  • Breakaway collar and identification tag, and ideally, a microchip placed by your veterinarian as well
  • Scratching post and/or pad; when your kitten uses it, reward him with praise and/or a feline treat
  • Litterbox
  • Litter; low-dust, unscented scoopable litter is best
  • Cat carrier
  • Cat bed
Before your kitten has contact with other cats, he needs to visit the veterinarian to be tested for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus, given a physical examination, tested and treated for parasites, and vaccinated. This will prevent the spread of a disease or parasites to other pets. If you have other pets, talk to your veterinarian about how to introduce your kitten to them.
Before you bring your kitten home, prepare a small room or space that will be her own for the first few days or weeks. Having a smaller area to explore at first will help your kitten get comfortable with her new home. Be sure to secure all electrical and blind cords because they can cause harm to your new kitten. Have all the supplies needed available and ready, such as water and food bowls, kitten food, a litterbox, a scratching post, safe toys, a bed, a breakaway collar and nail trimmers.
Cats don’t like to eat next to the litterbox, so place the litterbox on one side of the room and the food and water dishes on the other. Make sure that your kitten can get in and out of the litterbox without help; it might be necessary to provide a litterbox with low sides. To help your kitten feel secure, make sure that the room has hiding places. If there isn’t furniture to hide beneath, place cardboard boxes on their sides or cut doorways into them. Providing a warm and comfortable bed is essential. You can purchase a pet bed or line a box with something soft; using a sweatshirt that you’ve worn will help your kitten get used to your scent.
When you bring your kitten home, put the carrier in the room you’ve prepared. Open the carrier door, but let your kitten come out when he is ready. After your kitten comes out, leave the carrier in the corner as another hiding place. Each day, scoop out the litterbox and provide fresh food and water.
Your kitten may hide at first, but she will explore when no one is watching, becoming more comfortable with her new home. Your kitten will likely want plenty of attention from you — after all, you are her new mother/littermate!
Women Kitten Kiss Kitten Green Blanket
After your kitten has been checked by a veterinarian, becomes comfortable in his room and develops a regular routine of eating, drinking and using the litterbox, you can let him venture out into the rest of your house. At this point, you need to make sure that your kitten stays safe and has enough privacy to eat, sleep and use the litterbox. Keep your kitten’s bed, litterbox and food/water dishes in the same place so that he knows where to find them.
Veterinary Care
Kittens receive some immunity (protection against disease) from their mothers at birth and through nursing. Because this immunity slowly wears off, kittens should be vaccinated against various diseases on a schedule, beginning at two to three months of age. Eight weeks is the best time to start vaccines. Ask your veterinarian for details.
Intestinal parasites are common in kittens. Fecal examinations and treatments (dewormings) are usually repeated until two consecutive fecal examinations have negative results. External parasites (fleas, ticks and mites) are treated with products approved for use on kittens.
Kittens should be spayed or neutered by six months of age. This helps to control pet overpopulation and reduces the chance of behavior problems and some medical conditions. Have your kitten microchipped as well when he or she gets neutered or spayed.
Proper nutrition is especially important for kittens because they need two to three times as many calories and nutrients as adult cats. A mother cat’s milk provides everything a kitten needs during the first four weeks of life. Cow’s milk (the kind most likely in your refrigerator) should never be given to kittens or cats because it can give them diarrhea. Most kittens are completely weaned between eight and ten weeks of age. At six to seven weeks of age, kittens should be able to chew dry food. Feed her a high quality, name-brand kitten food with the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on the bag or label until she is approximately nine to twelve months old. The AAFCO seal indicates that the diet has been shown to contain the proper nutrition for kittens. Talk with your veterinarian to determine to right type of food to feed your kitten. When your kitten is between three and six months old, feed her three times per day, and once she turns six months old, you can start feeding her twice daily.
Cats learn how to socialize with each other from their mother and littermates; therefore, if possible, kittens should remain with their mother and/or littermates until they are about eight to ten weeks old. Kittens that have human contact before they are ten to 12 weeks old are more likely to interact well with people throughout their lives. Handling and playing with your kitten can help you bond with him. Feral (wild) cats haven’t been socialized with people as kittens and may fear and avoid people throughout their lives. Your kitten should be gradually introduced to other pets with care and supervision. Ask your veterinarian for advice on the best way to do this.
Enjoy your new kitten, and let your veterinarian know if you have any questions.  If you are in need of pet sitting services for your new kitty call Fluffs of Luv Pet Sitting!

Expert Explores Unexplained Animal Behavior

By Ben Williams courtesy of Pets Matter
Why do animals yawn? Why do cats eat grass? Why do they purr? And why on Earth does my pet eat poop? Benjamin Hart, DVM, PhD, DACVB, and distinguished professor emeritus at the University of California – Davis, addressed some of the more inexplicable behaviors of companion animals in his talk at the American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) conference this year: “Why do they do that? Purring, yawning, flipping out on catnip, and eating poop.”
Why do cats eat grass?
Hart cited statistics that said about 80% of cats eat plants of some kind or another. It is commonly thought that grass eating in cats is linked to intestinal distress. However, in a web-based study of more than 2,500 cat owners, Hart said only 5% of plant-eating cats showed signs of illness, although 32% vomited after eating grass. About half of the cats in the survey ate mostly grass as opposed to other plants.
The results were much different for younger cats (less than 1 year old). Among these cats, only 1% to 2% showed signs of illness, and only 2% vomited after eating grass or plants. Also, about 80% of young cats ate plants other than grass.
Hart concluded that grass eating among cats is normal and may have some ongoing health-related effects, such as expulsion of intestinal worms. However, a sudden increase in grass-eating behavior could signal intestinal distress, he said, so the behavior should be monitored.
Close Up Grass Eating Distant Grass Eating
Why do cats purr?
The sound of a purring cat is music to many cat owners’ ears. But the fact is that no one really knows why this behavior occurs. Lions and tigers and other roaring species cannot purr, and purring species like domestic cats, cheetahs, jaguars and bobcats cannot roar. Roaring and purring probably serve different evolutionary purposes, Hart said.
Cats purr when they seem to be happy, but also when they are sick, injured or even giving birth. Some of the latest theories say that purring is a way to repair muscles and tendons after a vigorous chase. Hart cited research that said purring occurs in the range of 25 Hz, which is identical to the frequency that promotes healing of wounds and tissue. Inactive cats that lie around on the couch all day may also purr in order to keep up their muscle mass.
Why do animals yawn?
Hart said that although the common belief is that yawning expands the lungs and oxygenates the brain, many animals yawn without low oxygen levels.
The current leading hypothesis is that yawning cools the brain, Hart said. During inactivity, cerebral circulation slows and the brain warms up. Yawning cools arterial blood via the nasal countercurrent veins, and thus cools off the brain, allowing it to function better.
Dog Bed Yawn
The contagious nature of yawning could also be explained with this theory. If one member of a group yawns, it signals the others that action is imminent so the others need to cool their brains as well. A recent study found that yawns are contagious between humans and dogs. Hart speculates that coevolution between dog and man has led to this phenomenon.
Why does my dog eat poop?
Coprophagia has grossed out and confounded many pet owners and veterinarians for a long time. Unfortunately, there does not seem to be an effective way to stop dogs from eating their poop, although Hart did offer some interesting statistics on the topic.
He cited a recent, unpublished study that included information from nearly 1,500 pet owners with dogs that had been seen eating feces daily or weekly at least 10 times. According to the survey, the top five feces-eating dog breeds were the Labrador retriever (10.4%), golden retriever (5.8%), Basset hound (5.5%), German shepherd (5.3%) and Shetland sheepdog (4.7%).
About 10% of the dogs ate only their own stool, whereas 32% ate the feces of others, and nearly half of all dogs who ate feces didn’t care who it belonged to. “Most dogs ate any ol’ stool,” Hart said.
Other findings included:
  • Female dogs were more likely than male dogs to engage in this behavior (60% vs. 40%).
  • The behavior does not reflect poor den sanitation: 82% of dogs in the survey almost never soiled their own house.
  • Almost all dogs opted for fresh feces as opposed to aged feces.
  • Neither behavior modification techniques nor food additives seemed to be effective in changing the behavior.
Contact Fluffs of Luv for your pet sitting needs.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pet Cystitis- Female Dogs Suffer More

You’re taking your dog for a walk. She stops more than usual to do her business, and you notice she is straining to urinate. You might even notice a little blood in the urine as she finishes.

Contact your veterinarian. Your dog could be displaying signs of cystitis—an increasingly common bladder condition affecting dogs.

Female Dogs Suffer More

Cystitis, or inflammation or infection of the bladder, is more common in female dogs but can be more serious in male dogs. Male dogs have a narrower urethra than female dogs, making it easier for it to become blocked by bladder stones.

The Cause of Cystitis

Cystitis is generally caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria usually enters the bladder from the fecal area. It can also travel from the kidneys or through an infection elsewhere in the body and enter the bloodstream.

Bladder stones, polyps and tumors can also cause cystitis.

Your veterinarian will test the urine and look for bacteria. Cystitis is commonly treated with antibiotics.

More than $3.5 million in veterinary claims for cystitis were filed by VPI Pet Insurance policyholders in 2007, making it the sixth most common health condition treated for dogs.

Preventing Cystitis

Make sure your dog is not holding his bladder for long periods of time. Allow your dog ample opportunity to go outside to urinate.

If your dog has had cystitis, your veterinarian might recommend adding salt to his food to make him consume more water, thus causing frequent urination to flush his system. Canned food also contains extra water.

Keep your dog at a healthy weight. If your dog is obese, the area around the genitals becomes fatty and makes it harder to keep clean. This can allow bacteria to build up and eventually make its way into the bladder.

As always, ask your veterinarian for the best way to keep your dog happy and healthy.

This article was provided by Veterinary Pet Insurance. Call a licensed VPI pet insurance specialist (800) 874-0718 or visit to take advantage of PSI’s group discount today!

Benadryl and Pets

Drug is Used to Treat Allergic Skin Disease Among Other Symptoms
Benadryl is one of many brand names of Diphenhydramine, an antihistimine commonly used in humans for the treatment of allergy symptoms, hay fever and the common cold.

In pets, diphenhydramine can be used to treat bee and hornet stings and insect bites, as well as treating allergic skin disease.

While Benadryl can be a good emergency drug to give your pet should the need arise — such as while out camping or hiking with your pooch — it’s important to speak with your veterinarian beforehand to ensure Max is prescribed a dose based on his age, weight and health history.

Benadryl Toxicity

It’s essential for pet owners to remember that although diphenhydramine is relatively safe for most pets, when mixed with other medications it can be lethal.

For example, Benadryl comes in many different formulations — allergy, sinus, headache, etc. — and can also contain other medications, such as acetaminophen (the type of drug used for humans to relieve fever, headaches, and other minor aches and pains), which can be toxic to a pet.

Well-Intended Pet Owners Unknowingly Poison their Pets

Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) recently ranked the top toxic substances by the number of medical claims received in 2007. Shockingly, the most dangerous poisons by far are human medications intentionally given to pets by their owners.

VPI received more claims for drug reactions than all other poisoning claims combined in 2007. Many of these claims involved pets given drugs intended for human consumption, such as over-the-counter pain relievers. Pet owners often give pets over-the-counter or prescription drugs for their ailments, unaware that even given in small amounts, many of these drugs cannot be metabolized by pets fast enough to prevent an overdose.

Use Benadryl Wisely

Dr. Cori Gross, a field veterinarian for VPI, recommends that before pet owners treat their pets with Benadryl, they should buy the medication and take the package into their veterinarian’s office to ensure they are using the correct product.

In addition to being proactive with their pet’s health and practicing responsible pet ownership, Gross explains that, “Diphenhydramine isn’t ideal for every pet, so it’s very important for pet owners to consult with their veterinarian to make sure they are being properly treated for their ailments.”

As always, all medications should be kept out of the reach of pets. If you suspect your pet is ill or if your pet is showing signs of poisoning, seek veterinarian help immediately.

This article was provided by Veterinary Pet Insurance. Call a licensed VPI pet insurance specialist (800) 874-0718 or visit to take advantage of PSI’s group discount today!

Wellness Wet Cat Food Recalled

If you feed your kitty Wellness Wet food be sure to read the below important information.
Taken from an email sent from WellPet LLC
March 1, 2011

Dear Pet Parents,

My name is Tim Callahan and I'm the CEO of WellPet, makers of Wellness® natural pet food. Over the years, we at WellPet have worked hard to earn the reputation of being a company that does everything possible for the pets that depend on us.

WellPet is committed to delivering the very best in pet food nutrition, as nothing is more important than the well-being of our dogs and cats. So when we found through product quality testing that specific product runs of our Wellness canned cat food might contain less than adequate levels of thiamine (also known as Vitamin B1), we decided to voluntarily recall them.

Please know, the vast majority of products tested had the appropriate levels of thiamine; however, with the number of recipes we offer, we did not want to make this more confusing. Therefore to avoid confusion and in an abundance of caution, we have decided to recall all canned cat products with the specific date codes noted below. Cats fed only product with inadequate levels of thiamine for several weeks may be at risk for developing a thiamine deficiency. If treated promptly, thiamine deficiency is typically reversible.

Though the chance of developing this deficiency is remote, withdrawing these products is the right thing to do and we are removing it from retailers' shelves.

Wellness Canned Cat (all flavors and sizes) with best by dates from 14APR 13 through 30SEP13;

Wellness Canned Cat Chicken & Herring (all sizes) with best by date of 10NOV13 and 17NOV13.

If you have cat food from these lots, you should stop feeding it to your cats. You may call WellPet at 1-877-227-9587 to arrange for return of the product and reimbursement.

No other Wellness products that your pets currently enjoy are impacted, so you can continue to feed your pets Wellness with full confidence. This is an isolated situation, as we have had only one reported issue. We are taking all the necessary steps to ensure it does not happen again.

Speaking on behalf of our entire Company, I apologize for any concerns this may have caused you. As a parent of a yellow lab named Hope, I understand the sense of responsibility we all share for our dogs and cats. Rest assured, product quality and safety will always be our top priority.

WellPet LLC
200 Ames Pond Drive
Tewksbury MA 01876