Understanding Feline Behaviour and Providing Enrichment to Indoor Cats

Play Behaviours of Domestic Cats

Observing feline playtime can be quite entertaining; a statue still, low crouch followed by a tail swish and a butt wiggle, leading up to a most dramatic pounce! It is adorable and maybe even comical to watch. But what do all these actions mean, and what is their purpose? They are all predatory behaviours – yes, even the cute little butt wiggle is the act of a ravenous hunter!

Hunting Behaviours of Feline Predators

For a successful ambush, a predator lies in wait in a concealed spot that prey are likely to wonder by. They must be perfectly still in order to avoid being detected, and driving prey out of reach. While stalking, a predator follows their prey in a low, silent crawl until they are in the optimal position for attack. In preparation for the pounce, the hunting feline must be sure their targeting is accurate. Sometimes prey are also very still and it is difficult to lock in on their location. A slight tail swish can catch the attention of the prey, causing small movements, giving away their exact position. Next, the feline squares up their hind legs by rocking their weight side to side (the butt wiggle), giving them maximum pouncing power! These behaviours are exhibited by wild cats and domestic house kitties alike. The difference being that our house pets are often going after toys or dust bunnies and not actually hunting their food source.

 

Why do Well-Fed House Cats Exhibit Hunting Behaviours?

The hunting instinct ingrained in felines is not driven by momentary hunger; rather it has been established by thousands of years of evolution as a mechanism of food acquisition.  Felines, as obligate carnivores, have evolved as predator animals, and an important part of a predator’s lifestyle is hunting. Being at the top of the food chain comes with a lot of responsibility. Acquiring food depends on hunting – it is a much more involved process than scavenging for others’ leftovers or grazing across an open plain and it requires a very high level of motivation. But why do we still see this instinct in our domestic house cats? If you give a cat a meal, their hunger will be satisfied, but the urge to hunt still lingers. Why, when the need is eliminated, does the desire persist?

To better understand our pet cats, we should better understand how they became our pets in the first place. The process of domestication involves genetic alterations affecting physiology, appearance and behaviour. The transition from a wild animal to a domesticated animal can result in traits lost or gained, depending on which are beneficial in the domestic lifestyle. The domestication of cats began with humans and cats living symbiotically – in a mutually beneficial scenario. The most common theory of feline domestication involves the stored grains during early agriculture attracting small rodents (prey), which in turn attracted small wild cats (predators). Wild cats that were less wary of humans had access to an abundance of prey, and in turn they provided humans with effective pest control. Early in the domestication process, hunting was still the primary manner of food acquisition, so success of the animals relied on a strong motivation to hunt. Even though our house kitties are fed meals in a bowl and no longer need to hunt for food, the instinct is still present, and we must ensure they receive appropriate stimulation in order to preserve a positive state of well-being.

Enrichment for Indoor Cats

Outdoor cats have the opportunity to hunt real prey – the ultimate stimulation; but for those that live exclusively indoors, we must provide the stimulus. Strings tipped with feathers fly through the air like darting birds; toy mice unknowingly wait to be ambushed; bouncing wires dance like hopping insects. There are so many enriching toys available that are engaging and satisfying for our cats. Perhaps the most satisfying are products that allow felines to actually hunt for their food. Available at Global Pet Foods is the indoor hunting feeder from Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co. This product allows your cat to hunt for kibble-filled mice that you’ve hidden around the house. It satisfies their instinctual desires, gives them plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, and enhances overall well-being of your beloved feline.

An under stimulated feline may exhibit destructive behavior; frustration may build up and lead to misbehaviours such as going outside the litter box; a lack of physical exercise can lead to unhealthy weight gain; a lack of satisfaction can prevent relaxation and increase stress. When we provide enrichment for our indoor cats, we provide them with an outlet to express all their natural behaviours, satisfying the deeply ingrained urges they maintained through domestication. In doing this, we prevent them searching for other, less desirable outlets, and most importantly, we make them happy.

Visit your local Global Pet Foods to see all the most innovative feline enrichment products available!

 

Why do our Pets Bring Joy?

With over 160 Global Pet Foods stores across Canada, we see firsthand as to just how much joy pets bring to our customers (and to us!).

 

From the way that people pick out the “right” bed for their dog, a new toy for the cat, or ask the common question of our Healthy Pet Care Specialists, “Is this the best food for my pet?”, we know that our customers want the best for their pets.  And we are more than happy to help because we want the best for your pets too.

 

We love to see the joy your pets bring you.  It’s one of the key reasons why we love what we do.

The bond between people and their pets is really unlike no other bond.  Yes, children bring their parents and extended family joy too.  But children grow up and, in most cases, lead independent lives, whereas our pets depend on us for their entire lifetime.  We are their sole providers and caregivers.

 

There’s no question of the tremendous pain that people go through when their pets are ill or have passed over the “Rainbow Bridge”.  It is the same pain akin to losing a spouse or a child.  For most people, they cannot imagine their lives without their pets.  Our pets bring joy to our lives.

But how? And why?

Our pets do not discriminate.  Our gender, race, appearance, wealth (or lack thereof), where we live, what we do, or how we dress means absolutely nothing to our pets.  They just love us – plain and simple – unconditionally.  Unconditional love is very difficult to find in humans.

 

Our pets are forgiving.  There is rarely a conflict among packs of animals.  They solve their problems and move on.  They don’t hold grudges or worry about what happened yesterday.  Yes, dogs and cats may have excellent memories, but veterinarian and animal behaviourist,

Alexandra Horowtiz states that the cerebral cortex in a dog’s brain, the part responsible for higher-order though functions and language, is not sufficiently developed to support human-like conceptual thinking.  The same anatomical feature which makes our dogs incapable of feeling guilt also allows them to forgive easily because they don’t have the framework of language to help them structure and retrieve memories in any detail.

 

Our pets teach us to live for today.  As humans, we wish for things that we don’t have, or spend time regretting what we have done or not done.  We spend a lot of time worrying, don’t we?  Our pets?  They live for today!  Every day is a new day and they simply live it and they love living it with us, whether it’s curled up beside us or sitting on our laps, or going for a walk.  What a great world it would be if we lived like our pets!

There isn’t a better feeling than when we come home and our pets are so excited to see us.  Our pets greet us every day as if we have been away for days or years.  It’s a great feeling, isn’t it?

 

Watching our fish tank at night relaxes us.  Petting our ferret, rabbit, hamster, lizard, puppy or dog, kitten or cat, calms us.

Our pets love us unconditionally.  And that brings us joy.

All you Need is Love…and a Cat!

While many cats are “house” cats, they still require some special attention during the summer months in order to keep them healthy, safe and content. Visit your Global Pet Foods store for product recommendations and more tips.

 

Water, water, everywhere!

Your cat needs to drink lots of water when the temperature heats up. Please ensure that there’s always fresh water available in several different shaded spots throughout your home, and on your porch or in the backyard if your cat spends time outdoors.

 

If your home is not air-conditioned, and you’re away during the day, freeze a plastic dish of water overnight, and put it out in the morning, in addition to the regular water dish.  This way, your cat will have a continual source of cool water throughout the day. A water fountain with an add-on reservoir is a great alternative to a water bowl and it does a better job of providing your cat with a constant source of fresh water.

 

It’s extremely important to keep senior cats hydrated as they tend to have compromised kidney and thyroid functions. Since they tend to nap a lot, this means they’re not eating or drinking as often as they should. Ensure that you or someone in your household encourages them to drink and eat a few times through the day.

 

On really hot days, wipe your cat down with a cool washcloth or towel, especially if your home is not air-conditioned.

 

Cool place to rest:

Make sure that your cat has access to areas with tile floors or rooms that don’t get much sun. Cats will naturally gravitate to the most comfortable sleeping area that they can find and a bed that’s comfortably cool can really hit the spot. Make a “cooling” bed by placing a packet of frozen peas under a blanket or your cat’s bed cover.  Your cat will enjoy this cool spot.

 

Grooming:

Shedding is considered a sign of health in cats, and your cat will shed to remove dead hair from her body.  Since dead hair can cause skin irritation, it needs to be removed.  It’s also important to ensure that your cat’s fur does not mat since matted fur traps in heat, which can cause her great discomfort in the summer.  Grooming your cat daily will help to prevent fur from becoming matted and also allows air to flow freely through it, keeping her cool in the summer months. This is very important for long-haired cats.  Regular grooming of your cat is also key to the prevention of hairballs. Signs of a major hairball problem and possible impaction are: retching, inability to poop, diarrhea, loss of appetite, or a swollen abdomen.

See your veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat is impacted.

Playtime and exercise:

Cats need daily play and exercise. If your home is not air-conditioned, their exercise time should take place during the cooler hours of the day, early morning and evening. This is especially important for young kittens and seniors, both of whom are very vulnerable to heatstroke.  Please be sure to give your cats time to digest their food before you engage them in exercise.

 

Avoid heatstroke:

Keep tabs on your cats during the hot weather and monitor them for signs of heatstroke. Heatstroke is life-threatening, and learning proper first aid can save your cat’s life.  The symptoms of heatstroke in cats can include:

 

If you suspect that your cat is a victim of heatstroke, take her temperature. It should be between 100.5 and 101.5 F. A temperature above 104 is a definite warning sign of hyperthermia.  If you believe that your cat is suffering from heat stroke, you must quickly take steps to cool her down. Move her to a cool area immediately and try to lower the temperature by wetting towels with cool or lukewarm water, and wipe her down.  Then increase air movement around her with a fan (low setting). You need to take your cat to a veterinarian right away.

 

NOTE: Using very cold water can actually be counterproductive. Cooling your cat too quickly, which may result in lowering his body temperature too low can cause other life-threatening medical conditions. Allow your cat free access to cool water but don`t force feed your cat, as they may inhale it and choke.  Snub-nosed breeds (like Persians and Himalayans) are especially vulnerable to heat stroke.

Natural Probiotics to the Rescue

Recently, many pet foods manufacturers are promoting the probiotics in their pet food, which is more commonly found in dog food. While we certainly support the use of probiotics in pet food, we recommend that you give your pet a probiotic supplement instead. Probiotics are sensitive to moisture and heat so if they’re added to pet food (especially kibble) they will have little effect by the time they make it into your pet’s digestive tract.  The bacteria in a probiotic must be live and be able to reproduce in order to provide your pet with any health benefit.

 

Probiotics can be used for the following:

First of all, what are probiotics, anyway? Everyone knows they help optimize our gut flora (the bacteria occurring naturally in the intestine), but really, what are these things? Where do they come from?

 

Probiotics are living microbes which have a beneficial effect on the host animal by contributing to its intestinal microbial balance. Acidophilus and bifidobacteria are the most common types of microbes used as probiotics, but there are over 30,000 species of microbes that interact to maintain a healthy intestinal environment! Probiotics tip the balance in the gut toward friendly bacteria and away from pathogenic bacteria which can cause gas, bloating, pain, diarrhea, skin and coat problems and other illness. They’re great for helping dogs and cats recover from most digestive disturbances, both chronic and acute.

 

Although there are lots of commercial products on the market in pill and liquid form for high retail prices, probiotics are naturally found in foods such as fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, and kimchee) and sprouted seeds, for example. These are proven to be, by far, much more effective than the lab-made strains available in bottles.

 

Why? Because science cannot imitate the naturally complex relationships of all of the species of microbes that interact in the gut to maintain a healthy intestinal environment. Neither has science yet discovered all the ways the body interacts with each of these species to produce the beneficial effect. But most importantly, recent research shows that if the probiotic microorganisms are allowed to establish their own symbiotic environment prior to being ingested by the host body, they are ‘hardier’, more able to re-establish their dominance, more able to withstand the heat and acid environment of the gut.

 

And finally, commercial probiotics are created by isolating individual strains of microorganisms which are then artificially stimulated to reproduce in a laboratory. In the final product, the selected probiotics have been separated from their intrinsic supporting microbes that were present in the original natural state. These supporting microbes are critical to the survival of the selected strain, so the absorption and use of the finished probiotic by the body will be greatly and significantly reduced.

 

This means that when a native probiotic found in food is ingested while still in its natural host environment it remains supported by the full range of original microorganisms that allow it to function. It will stay healthy, viable and be much more bio-available for absorption within the animal’s intestine. Now that’s something to toot about!

Keeping your cat Safe & Healthy

Sharing your life with a cat is a rewarding and enriching experience. Cats have so much to offer including love and companionship. Some people view cats as being aloof and not needing a lot of attention.  But just like dogs, there is great responsibility in caring for a cat’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Cats will get sick from time to time, but there are ways to reduce the chances of this happening.

Below are some suggestions.

Other common dangers include: poisons, hot stoves, toilets, washing machines and tumble dryers, string, ribbon, electrical cords and more.  You should know where your cats are at all times if they are at risk to be injured.

Keep Your Cat Healthy

Cats are fascinating animals. They are fun, loving and intuitive, but they can also be temperamental and unpredictable.

 

A bored cat may become destructive and aggressive, and result in excessive grooming or inappropriate litter box use, ie. urinate in other areas of your home.

 

Caring for a cat is a big responsibility as it’s difficult to keep them healthy in the same manner as dogs, who head outside for walks every day.  Many pet parents keep their cats indoors for safety reasons (it helps to reduce death, injury and disease), which can pose other health risks for them if they’re not receiving enough physical and mental stimulation.

 

Cats need more than just the basic – food, water, litter pan.  While your cat may do a great deal of sleeping it`s critical that you provide regular mental stimulation and exercise, which will enhance their living environment and help them live a happy and healthy life.

 

The onus is on you, and/or other members of your family, to help indoor cats keep their minds alert and sharp.  Failure to do so may cause your cat physical and emotional stress which in turn can lead to physical health issues.

 

Keep your cat active by creating a stimulating environment with these tips below:

 

And finally, the greatest stimulation that you can provide your cat is simply spending time with them each and every day.  This special time will improve your cat’s quality of life.  Research shows that spending 30 minutes of quality time with a cat can calm your nerves and boost your mood. Time spent with a cat can increase your body’s production of serotonin, a chemical that boosts feelings of well-being, and decrease your cortisol levels.  Like high pressure, cortisol is caused by stress which may lead to high cholesterol and hypertension. Not only will the quality time spent with your cat keep you healthier, but your cat will  benefit greatly from the time spent with you too!

High-Rise Syndrome

Many pet parents live in condos and apartment buildings and for those of us without the luxury of air conditioning, we rely on open windows and balcony doors to help keep us cool during the hot summer nights.  You may, however, be putting your pets at risk.  Unscreened windows and doors pose a real danger to dogs and, more often, cats, as they can fall out of them.  There is a term that has been recently associated with this: High-Rise Syndrome.  It’s more common than you think.  Veterinarians see cases on a weekly basis whereby the family pets have fallen from an open window or from the balcony.   Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises, and even death.

 

Cats have excellent survival instincts, and they don’t deliberately “jump” from high places that would be dangerous.  Cats have an incredible ability to focus their attention on whatever interests them.  However, they can become so distracted by a bird or another animal that they lose their balance and fall.  And that’s where the “High-Rise Syndrome” applies – when cats fall accidentally from high-rise windows, terraces or fire escapes.

 

  1. People often assume that cats can take care of themselves since they seem to have little fear of heights and enjoy perching in high places. However, even though cats can cling to the bark of trees with their claws, it`s much more difficult for them to cling to surfaces like window ledges, concrete or brick.

 

  1. Cats don’t land squarely on their feet when they fall from a high place. They land with their feet slightly splayed apart, which can cause severe head and pelvis injuries.

 

  1. It’s a misconception that cats can’t be injured when they fall from one- or two-story buildings. Cats may actually be at greater risk for injury when falling a shorter distance than falling a longer distance. Shorter distances do not give them enough time to adjust their body posture to fall

 

  1. When cats fall from high-rise buildings, they may end up on sidewalks or streets that are dangerous and unfamiliar to them. Never assume that the animal has not survived the fall; immediately rush the animal to the nearest animal hospital or to your veterinarian. There is a 90% survival rate for cats who are high-rise victims if they receive immediate and proper medical attention.

 

High-Rise Syndrome is 100-Percent Preventable.  We recommend that you do the following to keep your pets safe this summer:

 

  1. Install snug and sturdy screens in all of your windows.

 

  1. Make sure that adjustable screens are tightly wedged into window frames.

 

  1. Cats can slip through childproof window guards so please do not assume that they provide adequate protection.

 

And finally, if you have a cat (or multiple cats) you may want to keep them indoors to protect them from additional dangers such as cars, other animals and disease.  Purchase full-screen enclosures for backyards and terraces if you want to provide your cats with outdoor stimulation.

Always know where your pets are in the house when you’re home.  Just as you would do when you have children in your home, know where your pets are at all times so that you can keep them safe.

Emergency Planning for Your Cat

A flood, a tornado, loss of electricity. Disasters do happen and they can strike when we least expect them. Planning ahead is the key to keeping you, your family and your pets safe when a disaster happens. Here are some tips to create your Emergency Plan so that you are prepared:

 

 

Ideally, you should have 2 emergency kits for your household – one for everyone in your family, and the second for your pet(s). Keep in mind that when an emergency strikes, you won’t have time to gather everything together. Having the kits ready to go means that you’ll have the essentials you need to keep your family safe and together over a period of time. As anyone who has been through this before knows, being prepared provides you with some peace of mind to know that you’ll be able to weather the storm.

 

Dogs VS Cats

  1. Dogs can be trained quickly, some in a matter of minutes, to obey basic commands like ‘come’ and ‘sit.’
    Most cats are difficult if not impossible to train to respond to directives.
  2. Most dogs take considerably longer to housebreak, and some just never get all the way there. Unlike with Fluffy, housebreaking a pup is usually a hands-on, time intensive project.
    Cats can be house-trained in an instant as long as they have access to a litter box. There’s really no training to it, in fact. It’s instinct.
  3. Dogs are social beings. They want to be with their pack, wherever their pack may be.
    Cats are solitary by comparison and their primary attachment (when forced to choose) is to their territory rather than other two or four-legged animals.
  4. Dogs have 42 teeth. Cats have 30.
  5. Cats can jump and climb, giving them more options when they need to hunt for food, or when they feel threatened.
    Dogs are  earthbound, so they need their pack to hunt effectively.  And when a threat triggers their fight-or-flight response, they are more likely to react with aggression because their ability to flee from a predator is limited.
  6. Dogs are scavenging carnivores, which means although they are primarily meat-eaters, if necessary they can survive on plant material alone (remember, surviving is different than thriving).
    Cats are obligate or strict carnivores. Cats cannot sustain life without eating meat in some form.

  7. Dogs in the wild catch their prey by running it down. They are long distance runners, not sprinters.
    Cats creep up on their prey and catch it by surprise. They are sprinters, not distance runners.

  8. Cats cannot be fasted and should not be dieted down too quickly. Cats don’t efficiently burn fat reserves as an energy source. Instead, without food, their bodies break down non-fatty tissues for energy. This can lead to a life-threatening liver condition called hepatic lipidosis.
    Dogs are much better at using their fat reserves and can tolerate a lack of food for much longer than cats.
  1. Cats have retractable claws that stay sharp because they are protected inside the toes.
    Dogs claws are always extended and become blunt from constant contact with the ground when they walk.

 

  1. Cats can remember up to 16 hours.
    A dog’s memory is only about five minutes long.

Say Cheese!

You clearly recognize the importance and benefits of having a mouth full of healthy teeth and gums. Did you know a lack of regular and attentive care to your cat’s teeth can result in serious health implications? Prevention is the key. Studies show that cats with poor oral health also have a higher risk of heart, kidney and liver problems, which can lead to an early death.

 

People often underestimate the steps that need to be taken with their cat’s teeth in order to maintain good health. To ensure that oral health problems do not interfere with your cat’s quality of life, cats should have their teeth brushed on a regular basis.  Don’t assume that you will know when your cat’s teeth are hurting him or her. Cats will continue to eat even if they have tooth pain simply due to hunger. If you are stressed about the process or are concerned about whether you are brushing your cat’s teeth properly, ask one of our Healthy Pet Care specialists at your neighborhood
Global Pet Foods store to demonstrate the proper technique for daily brushing.

 

Signs and symptoms of Dental Diseases:

 

Please also note the following:

  1. Dental care is critical for your cat’s health. If you are not able to brush your cat’s teeth, there are other options when you’re in between vet visits. Consider using oral rinses made especially for cats. You’ll find a wide variety of oral care products for cats at Global Pet Foods stores.
  2. Never use human toothpaste because the foaming agents can pose health risks to cats.
  3. Do not give your cat any type of candy, ever!
  4. While many brands of dry cat food incorporate dental benefits, giving your cat special dental treats formulated to reduce tartar, plaque build-up and stains is another option to help prevent oral health problems.
  5. Contact your veterinarian if you note changes in your cat’s behaviour or health. The following usually indicates an issue that must be addressed by a professional: your cat stops eating, they have bad breath, their gums are inflamed, or their teeth are visibily demaged or they’ve lost a tooth (or teeth). Failure to obtain professional care for dental problems can result in serious health problems.

 

SLURP’N’FRESH:

From toothbrushes to rinses. Slurp N’ Fresh, a dental care product, is made in Canada. Slurp N’ Fresh uses a unique blend of natural plant extracts to eliminated odour causing compounds in the mouth which cause bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease. This all-natural product will eliminate bad breath, reduce plaque & tartar, and protect your cat’s natural oral environment. Clear, unscented, with NO alcohol, artificial flavors, coloring, dyes, or harmful chemicals. Economical to use each time you change your cat’s water.

 

Looking after your cat’s teeth and gums is one key factor in keeping them healthy and happy for many years. You’ll find a wide variety of new and improved dental products for cat in your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store. Let our Healthy Pet Care Specialists help you improve and maintain your cat’s dental health. We want to see your cat smile!