Thursday, 16 May 2019

Should I clean my cat’s teeth?

Brushing your teeth is a key part of the morning routine, but many cat owners probably wouldn’t consider giving their moggy’s teeth a clean too.

Just as we suffer from dental problems, cats can also get a build-up of plaque on their teeth and develop dental diseases that can cause them a lot of pain and even lead to other conditions, such as kidney disease. Therefore, it’s important to make sure their teeth are as clean and healthy as possible.

Spotting the signs of tooth pain 


tabby cat yawning and showing teeth

Cats are particularly good at hiding pain, so it can be difficult to tell if they are suffering with dental problems. Here are some of the signs to look out for:

  • not eating as much as normal 
  • favouring soft wet food over dry biscuits 
  • only eating on one side of their mouth 
  • bad breath (worse than normal!)
  • an increase in dribbling (maybe accompanied by blood in the saliva)  
  • difficulty grooming themselves 
  • a change in their behaviour (eg hiding more, not interacting with you as much) 

If you spot any of these signs, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible to get their teeth checked.


How to brush your cat’s teeth 


tabby and white cat meowing showing teeth

Approaching your cat’s teeth with a brush might seem like a daunting task but it will often be the best way to keep their teeth healthy. Not all cats will tolerate it, but most will be able to get used to it if you introduce the process gradually. Follow our simple steps to find out how.

1. Ask your vet to recommend a toothbrush and toothpaste 

Don’t be tempted to use a brush or toothpaste meant for humans – a human toothbrush will be too large for your cat’s mouth and they are unlikely to enjoy the minty flavour of human toothpaste, which may also contain ingredients that are harmful to cats. Your vet should be able to recommend a soft rubber finger brush and some meat or fish flavoured toothpaste you can use. If you have more than one cat, make sure they each have their own toothbrush to avoid transferring bacteria between them.

2. Wait until your cat is six months old 

Cats younger than six months are likely to still be teething, so will find teeth brushing painful.

3. Get them used to having their mouth touched 

Before you approach them with the toothbrush, make sure your cat is comfortable with you touching their face and mouth with your fingers. Follow the steps in our training guide, focusing on their mouth and taking the process nice and slowly. You can start this process when they are a young kitten in preparation for introducing them to the toothbrush when they are six months old.

4. Leave the toothbrush and toothpaste out 

To encourage your cat to not see the toothbrush and toothpaste as scary objects, leave them out somewhere where your cat can approach them of their own accord and have a sniff. You can also let them lick a bit of the toothpaste off of your finger so they get used to the taste.

5. Introduce the brush 

Repeat the steps in our training guide, this time using the toothbrush instead of your fingers. Start by touching your cat with the brush in an area they are comfortable being touched, and then gradually move it towards their mouth.

6. Start brushing 

If, after a few days or weeks, your cat is comfortable with having their mouth touched, you can start applying the toothpaste to their teeth with the brush. Apply the bristles to the teeth at a 45-degree angle, reaching both the tooth surface and just beneath the gum margin.

7. Stick to a routine 

Try to brush your cat’s teeth at the same time every day as cats like routine. Find a time when you are both calm and comfortable and always be gentle with the brush. Make sure you stop if your cat becomes stressed or tries to run away.

Other tips for keeping your cat’s teeth healthy 


tabby cat yawning and showing teeth

If your cat is not happy to have their teeth brushed or you’re worried about the safety of your fingers, there are a few other things you can do to reduce the risk of your cat having dental problems.

1. Book a regular dental check

Get your veterinary surgeon to do a full assessment of your cat’s teeth once or twice a year so they can spot any problems before they become serious. These dental checks can be done at the same time as annual health checks.

2. Don’t give them too many treats 

Much like many human treats, cat treats can be high in sugar which isn’t good for their teeth. Keep the number of treats you give them to a minimum, making sure their main source of food is a good-quality complete cat food in wet or dry form.

3. Feed them a special dental diet 

If your cat is prone to dental problems, your vet will be able to recommend a specific diet to feed them that will help to keep their teeth healthy.

For more advice on keeping your cat’s teeth clean, visit www.cats.org.uk/dental-care

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Philip Bloom isn’t ashamed to be a cat dad

British filmmaker Philip Bloom wants to see an end to the misconceptions about moggy-loving men and explains why cats can be man’s best friend… 

Do some people make a quick judgement about me when they learn I have cats? Some do for sure. I have had the odd comment on photos and videos of my cats asking if I was gay, some tell me to get a life, but most people either don’t state their opinion or find it lovely that I do love cats so much.

man cuddling tortie and white cat with one eye
Philip Bloom with his cat Harriet
It’s not like it is just cats, I love animals full stop. It’s just since cats came into my life with my first girlfriend 26 years ago I loved everything about them. They were beautiful, funny, calming, wonderful companions and some are happy to be left alone all day, unlike dogs. At the time I worked in TV news so my life was very unpredictable but it was comforting to know they would be OK if I had a long day at work or if I went away I knew they could be looked after easily.

man with grey cat sitting in his chest
Philip loves all animals, but particularly cats!
Over the years my love of cats has grown and grown. A big part of that was my beloved girl Noodle who came into my life in early 2000. Through almost two decades she was by my side, my constant companion. She always came to me when I called her, even though I rarely needed to as the moment I sat down she was on me. The moment I went to bed she tucked herself into my armpit. She was there through so many important years of my life and during the times when I was suffering from depression I am certain she helped me get through it. I always talked to her about things that were bothering me and she was a great listener although not a great talker, she just meowed a lot!

grey oriental cat being held with light bokeh in background
Philip's cat Lollipop
When she passed away in October last year it hit me hard. She had a long, amazing life and I was lucky to have had her for that time but it didn’t make it easier. She absolutely adored her brothers Bert and Percy. Percy seemed very upset for a number of months, going from room to room howling loudly for her, it was really upsetting. Only recently has he stopped doing it. It is at times like this that I wish they could understand me so I could try and make him feel better.

man holding three tortie and white kittens
Philip helps stray cats in Greece with his video work
In the past three years I have also started helping a rescue charity on the lovely Greek island of Skiathos. They do amazing work helping the cat population and for the most part the strays on the island are pretty healthy, which is rare in Greece. I started helping initially by taking photos for them for their cat calendars. When they were hit by a big financial crisis I decided to put my skills as a documentary filmmaker to good use and go over there to make a film about the work they do to try and help raise awareness and hopefully lead to some successful fundraising.

man kissing black kitten on the head
Philip with his cat Jimmy
Since the first film last January I have made three more additional films and last month I went back again to do a follow-up film. When I was there last summer for the second set of films I became really attached to a number of strays and found it really hard seeing the lives some of them have to look forward to. If I could rescue them all I would!

man with two brown cats sitting on his chest
Philip believes men shouldn't be judged for loving moggies 
Having cats sadly does seem to affect how people perceive you. For men it seems that many perceive you as less masculine, whether this is more from women than men I cannot be sure. I have heard remarks from both but I honestly don’t care what people think. Will this be amplified since the arrival of Harriet, Jimmy and Lollipop late last year, bringing my total of cats to five? Yes, it is more than likely.

man cuddling black cat
Jimmy and Philip having a cuddle
While I love all of them I wouldn’t recommend getting as many as me. It is a lot of cats for a man living alone, two or three is a great number as you can really give them all the attention they crave. It’s quite time-consuming making sure all five get equal cuddles! That being said I wouldn’t change things for the world, each one brings me so much joy and I know I have given them a better chance at a happy and long life. Showing animals love is a positive thing and if we can be kind to animals then perhaps that will help us be kind to each other.

man with three cats on his chest
Philip is proud to be a cat dad
Cats are amazing and I cannot imagine ever being without them in my life. They make everything that little bit better and when I go away with work or on holidays, not having them around does make me sad. At least I have a remote camera so I can still interact with them. Does this make me a crazy cat man? Nah, it makes me a truly loving cat dad and I would never be ashamed of that.

Are you a proud cat dad? Share a photo of you and your cat using #CatMenDo and find out more about our campaign at www.cats.org.uk/cat-men-do

6 reasons why all men should own a cat

You are probably familiar with the phrase ‘dogs are a man’s best friend’ but we think it’s time to bust the stereotype and start a cat man revolution.

New research by Cats Protection shows that men who like dogs are still seen as more masculine than those who like cats, but we want to put an end to this misconception.

white cat and man with beard at desk
Credit: iStock
The findings came from a survey that asked 2,000 men to assign attributes to a man in two photos – one with a cat and one with a dog. The man with the dog was more likely to be seen as masculine whereas the man with the cat was more likely to be seen as sensitive.

However, as any pet owner will know, owning either animal requires the same compassionate qualities and so there should be no judgement for men who wish to welcome a moggy into their lives.
If you’re considering becoming a cat dad but still need some convincing, here are some reasons why moggies make the best pets...

1. Cats provide endless entertainment 


grey and white cat sticking tongue out

Every cat has their own unique purrsonality complete with quirky traits that will amuse and baffle you in equal measure.

Whether they like to snooze in strange places, go crazy for catnip or bring you odd items they’ve found on their expeditions, you’ll always be kept on your toes.

2. Cats can fit around your busy lifestyle… 


brown and white tabby cat upside down on bed

Most cats are ok with being left along for a little while, so you don’t need to worry about leaving them when you go to work or visit your friends for the day.

If you have a cat flap then they can come and go as they please, or if your cat is happy to stay indoors then they will be there waiting for you when you get home.

3. …or be a pawsome excuse to stay home 

tabby cat and man drinking coffee on sofa

If you’d rather have a night in on the sofa with a takeaway, many moggy pals will happily keep you company while you watch your favourite TV show or do some gaming. They won’t mind if you hog the remote or binge watch an entire series, as long as you give them a chin rub every now and then.

There’s also no danger of them letting slip any Game of Thrones spoilers before you’ve had a chance to watch the next episode, unlike some other friends you might know!

4. Cats can help you get a date


man with glasses holding tabby kitten

Owning a cat shows that you are caring and responsible, both attractive qualities to a potential partner. Try including a photo with your kitty on your dating profile and you’re sure to get plenty of swipes in the right direction!

If you do manage to bag a date, you’ll have plenty of cute cat photos and stories to share as an ice breaker, and after browsing this blog you’ll be able to wow them with some fascinating feline facts too!

5. Cats can help you chill out 


grey and white cat sleeping under duvet

When life gets busy and stressful, having a moggy at home will encourage you to take some time for yourself.

Everyone knows that when a cat sits on your lap, you’re not allowed to get up so there’s nothing you can do but relax. Plus, there’s nothing more calming than a cat’s gentle purr.

 6. You’ll be joining a cat-loving community 


man stroking ginger cat sitting on wall
Credit: iStock
Around of quarter of UK adults own a cat, so you’ll be joining a community of millions of people that you’ll have at least one thing in common with…a love of cats!

To start a conversation with fellow cat dads, follow our #CatMenDo campaign and spread the word about man’s new best friend!

Visit www.cats.org.uk/cat-men-do to find out more.

Monday, 13 May 2019

Can I feed my cat a vegetarian diet?

With more and more people exploring the benefits of vegetarian and plant-based diets, thoughts are naturally turning to whether it might be possible to extend this type of diet to pets.

While humans can exist perfectly well on a plant based diet, the same cannot be said for our feline companions. Due to their origins as desert dwelling hunters, and after many thousands of years existing on a diet of small mammals, cats’ anatomy and metabolism has evolved to digest a purely carnivorous diet.

Why are cats carnivores?

light ginger cat eating from a food bowl

A diet consisting mostly of small prey is higher in fat and protein, and so cat’s digestive systems have developed to process such diets: their gastrointestinal system is comparatively shorter than species which have to digest fibrous plant material.

Cats also do not possess the enzymes needed to produce many essential nutrients themselves and are subsequently a lot less flexible when it comes to the diet they are fed. They need meat in their diet to provide the necessary proteins, vitamins and essential fatty acids.

A plant-based diet is unlikely to be high in fat and may not be as high in protein (and certainly will constitute very different proteins). It is likely to be higher in carbohydrates and for these carbohydrates to be broken down a specific enzyme called amylase is required. In the saliva, the pancreas and the gut, cats have far less amylase than other species (such as humans and dogs). Therefore these diets will be much harder for a cat to digest and extract nutrients from.

Twenty two different amino acids form the building blocks of all proteins within the body. Essential amino acids are those which an animal cannot synthesise themselves, they have to source them from their diet. There are 11 essential amino acids in cats and one of the most important is called taurine. This amino acid is found exclusively in meat and fish.

What would a veggie diet do to my cat? 


assorted vegetables on black background

One of the issues with trying to feed a vegetarian or vegan diet to cats is that while humans are able to synthesise taurine from sources other than animal proteins, cats cannot. Without a good supply of taurine and other essential nutrients only found in animal proteins, a cat’s health will start to deteriorate as various parts of the body struggle to function. A taurine deficiency will have serious consequences.

The first area to be affected is the eye – photoreceptor cells in the retina, the area at the back of the eye, require taurine to work correctly, so blindness may be one of the early symptoms of taurine deficiency. The muscle of the heart depends on taurine also, so over time a lack of taurine in the diet will reduce the ability of the heart to pump blood which in time can lead to significant heart disease and in many cases death. Taurine deficiency can also lead to developmental problems in kittens, suppression of the immune system and can also increase the risk of blood clots developing.

What should I feed my cat? 


tabby cat sitting on dining table

As taurine deficiency can be so life threatening it is always important to feed a complete, meat or fish-based cat food. All cat food manufacturers registered with the Pet Food Manufacturers Association will ensure that adequate taurine is present in their complete diets.

Vegan and vegetarian cat owners need not despair at the realisation that cats need to be fed a meat-based diet. By feeding your cat in this way you should not feel you are falling short in your personal beliefs and your quest to do no harm to animals or the environment. On the contrary, by feeding your cat meat, you are providing them with what they have evolved to need to stay healthy and happy, which as pet owners, is our ultimate goal.

For more advice about feeding your cat, visit www.cats.org.uk/diet

Friday, 10 May 2019

Kittens found close to death in a greenhouse

Two kittens are lucky to be alive after they were rescued from a greenhouse in Southampton by Cats Protection volunteers.

The litter had been abandoned at just a few hours old and sadly, one of the kittens had already died when the volunteers arrived, leaving them very concerned about the remaining two.

calico kitten wrapped in towel in human hand

“They were underweight, cold and weak and we were very worried they wouldn’t make it through the night,” said Lorri Seymour, who is fostering the kittens.

“The tiny kittens were only about three hours old when they were found and weighed just 100g each. It was touch and go.”

black and white kitten being bottle fed

Lorri, who is hand-rearing the kittens, was initially feeding them every 30 minutes to help them gain weight and build their strength. Thankfully their condition quickly improved.

Now named Nigel and Nellie after dogs belonging to BBC2’s Gardeners’ World presenter Monty Don, the kittens are now growing quickly and have healthy appetites.

calico kitten wrapped in towel

Lorri said: “Poor Nellie didn’t know how to suckle and it took her 24 hours to get the hang of it.

“I’ve been looking after the kittens for just over a week now and I’m hopeful they’ll be okay. They’re guzzling their food down and are becoming stronger.

black and white kitten wrapped in towel

“At first I was feeding them every 30 minutes throughout the day and night. They’re now being fed every 90 minutes.”

Black-and-white boy Nigel and calico girl Nellie will be bottle fed until they are weaned at between four and five weeks old.

calico kitten on towel

Cats Protection volunteers continue to search for the kittens’ mother in the vicinity of the greenhouse where they were found so she can be health-checked and neutered.

“There has been no sign of their mum so far – we think she might be a stray or feral cat with another litter of kittens somewhere. She may have been struggling to look after all her babies, so she sadly had no choice but to leave these behind,” Lorrie said.

black and white kitten on blanket

Cats Protection’s Fareham Branch has a waiting list of people who would like to adopt kittens, so don’t need offers of homes for Nigel and Nellie. They will hopefully go home with their new owners when they are about nine weeks old.

However, the branch – which is run entirely by volunteers – is extremely busy and currently has 14 kittens and eight adult cats in its care, three of which are pregnant.

Anyone wishing to help the branch care for the cats and kittens can buy items from the branch’s Amazon wish list donate via JustGiving.

If you would like to adopt a new feline friend, search for cats looking for homes in your area at www.cats.org.uk/adopt-a-cat

Monday, 6 May 2019

Should I put sunscreen on my cat?

As the summer months approach and we start to see the sun more and more, slapping on the sunscreen becomes a common ritual for many Brits. However, should we be covering our cats in sunscreen too?

Even though most cats have a protective layer of fur, their skin is still at risk of sunburn, particularly if their fur, ears or nose are white.

Nancy, a cat currently in the care of Cats Protection’s Tendring & District Branch, knows this all too well.

 tabby-and-white cat with stitches on ears
Nancy with stitches in her ears after her operation
Having spent most of her life living outdoors, this tabby-and-white cat suffered serious sun damage to her ears. This had also produced pre-cancerous cells, resulting in Nancy having to have the tops of her ears removed to prevent the risk of cancer developing.

“Poor Nancy was in quite a state when she first arrived in our care, with both ears having sustained serious sun damage,” said Julie Clouting, Nancy’s fosterer.

“Nancy can be a bit shy at first but despite all she’s been through, she is such a sweet and caring cat who needs a second-chance at finding her forever home. Now fully recovered from her surgery, we are desperate to find her a home, with patient owners, where she can be the only pet needing love and attention.”


 tabby-and-white cat with no ears
Nancy after her stitches had been removed 
Protecting your cat from the sun 

To keep your cat safe from the sun’s harmful UV rays, there are a number of precautions you can take. However, before you start applying your own sunscreen to your moggy, speak to your vet first. They will be able to advise you on a sunscreen that is suitable for cats, as moggies can be sensitive to some of the chemicals in human sunscreens and may lick them off of their fur.

Another way you can keep your cat safe, is to keep them indoors during the hottest parts of the day, or provide them with some shade outdoors – plants, trees or cardboard boxes all create purrfect shady spots for a snooze.

tortoiseshell and white cat lying in the shade

Spotting the signs of skin cancer 

Skin cancer is a common consequence of too much sun exposure in cats so it’s important to be vigilant and look out for the signs if your cat likes to snooze in the sun.

The first indication is a dark crusty legion or a wound that won’t heal, commonly forming on the nose or ears. This can then progress to ulcerated areas that can spread around the cat’s face.

If you spot these signs then take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. It is possible to treat these symptoms with surgery, radiation therapy or cryosurgery (using liquid nitrogen to freeze the affected area) to remove the cancer and get your cat back on their paws.

For more advice about keeping your cat safe in the sun, visit www.cats.org.uk/cats-and-warm-weather 

If you think you could be the perfect companion for no-eared Nancy please contact Tendring & District Branch on 01255 744 014 or email enquiries@tendring.cats.org.uk

Friday, 3 May 2019

Exeter woman finds dream job – all thanks to her cat

Tracie Atkin was inspired to change her lifestyle and career when someone new came into her life – her cat Bella.

Having worked in banking and insurance for many years, Tracie began working from home as a mortgage adviser and decided to get a cat for company.

Woman in Cats Protection t-shirt holding white cat

“I’d had cats in the past, but because I was frequently away from home for work, I wasn’t able to have one.

“Then, when I became a mortgage adviser, I got Bella. She was such a fantastic companion she inspired me to give something back and do more to help cats,” said 53-year-old Tracie.

“I contacted Cats Protection’s Exeter Axhayes Adoption Centre about becoming a volunteer and before long I was helping out as a cat care assistant.

“I loved being able to give something back and it was a welcome distraction from my stressful job as a mortgage adviser.”

Cats Protection woman at Exeter Axhayes Adoption Centre

Soon a job for a volunteer team leader became available. Tracie successfully applied for it and, a year later, she says she doesn’t miss mortgage advising for a minute.

Tracie’s role is now funded thanks to players of People’s Postcode Lottery who have raised over £1 million of support for the charity to date to help fund both volunteer team leader and cat care assistant roles across England, Scotland and Wales.

She said: “I can honestly say ‘I love my job’. We have a terrific group of volunteers who not only help look after our cats, but also help with fundraising.

“I look after 98 volunteers and 11 of these are supported volunteers who come in with their carer. They help with cat socialisation and find this really helps with their mental wellbeing.

Woman sat on Cats Protection bench

“Now I’ve settled into my job as volunteer team leader at the Exeter Axhayes Adoption Centre and the Taunton Homing & Information Centre, I want to do even more for Cats Protection, so I’ve decided to do a parachute jump to raise as much money as possible for the cats and kittens at the centre – a skydive has also always been on my ‘bucket list’.

“I have no fears about doing it as I’m a bit of an adrenalin junkie and love rollercoaster rides. I just hope the weather is good on the day and we can raise lots of money for Cats Protection’s Exeter Axhayes Adoption Centre.

“I’m thrilled that volunteers Will and Abi are also taking part in the challenge – and we’d love it if anyone else would also like to join our skydive team!”

The skydive – either tandem or a solo static line jump – will take place on Saturday 14 September 2019 at Dunkeswell Airfield, near Honiton, Devon.

Tracie and the team will reach speeds of 120mph and freefall for up to two miles. As they descend they’ll enjoy views of the Devon coastline as well as Cornwall, Somerset, the Bristol Channel and South Wales.

You can sponsor Tracie via her JustGiving fundraising page. If you would like to take part in the skydive and help raise funds for your local Cats Protection branch or centre, you can contact the fundraising Events team on 01825 741 960 or email events@cats.org.uk 

To find out more about joining Cats Protection as a volunteer or employee, visit www.cats.org.uk