Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Give a Christmas gift that keeps on giving

#GivingTuesday is back this year and is bigger than ever. An antidote to the hustle and bustle of the festive season, it gives everyone a chance to commit time and money to doing good stuff on the same day – whether that means volunteering for a charity or tweeting about a cause you feel passionate about.

If you’ve not yet got started on your Christmas shopping, why not purchase a gift that keeps on giving from Cats Protection? You’ll find plenty of great ideas for the cat lover in your life while helping cats in need. To give you a helping hand, here’s some of the ways you can help Cats Protection just by doing your Christmas shopping:

1 - Give the gift of a great read

The Cat magazine Cats Protection

If you’ve got a feline fan to buy for this Christmas, a subscription to The Cat magazine could be the ideal gift. Each issue is packed with news, views and features as well as expert advice from vets. You can subscribe to the magazine for just £15 a year and by doing so, you’ll be contributing to the care of unwanted cats in the UK.

2 - Raise funds by being a VIP

Join the Pets at Home VIP Club and you could raise money for Cats Protection every time you swipe. You’ll also receive exclusive discounts and a free quarterly VIP magazine – perfect if you’re looking to make a pet-themed purchase this Christmas.

3 - Give the gift of becoming a Cats Protection sponsor

Kitten in Christmas hat

Sponsoring a cat pen is an ideal present for the cat lover in your life. Best of all, you’ll know that you’re providing cats in need with shelter, warmth, food and medical care. You can sponsor a cat pen from just £6 a month, making a great gift for someone special. 

4 - Raise free donations simply by shopping online

Sign up to Give as you Live and every time you purchase a product through their website with Cats Protection as your chosen charity, you’ll generate a free donation. With a vast range of retailers including eBay, Expedia and Moonpig, there’s plenty of opportunity for Christmas gifts too.

5 - Get wrapped up in our Christmas shop

Christmas wrapping paper Cats Protection gift shop

Our Christmas shop is packed full of feline-themed cards and gift wrap to add the finishing touches to your gifts, while our gift shop has great present ideas, feline or otherwise. Best of all, every penny in profit goes straight to helping the thousands of cats that need us every year.

What are you planning to do for Cats Protection this #GivingTuesday? Why not tweet us using the hashtag and let us know?

Friday, 25 November 2016

‘How can I get my cat used to their carrier?’ and other behavioural FAQs

In our latest Q&A on Facebook, Cats Protection Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow responded to live questions from cat owners. Here are some of the topics discussed:

Question: My cat is due her annual booster again soon. She is terrified of her cat carrier and travelling. She gets so distressed and aggressive and it takes numerous cancelled and rebooked vet appointments to get her there. I have tried many things including a bigger carrier and even sedation tablets from the vets to no avail. Have you anything you could recommend? She also soils herself on the journey.

Answer: You could see if your vet will do a home visit. Many people face this situation, but there are steps you can take to gradually get your cat used to the cat carrier. However, this does take some time and may not work in time for your cat's booster, depending on how soon it is. This video is the first in a series looking at how to get cats used to carriers:

There is more information found in The Trainable Cat by John Bradshaw and Sarah Ellis. We would recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist (www.apbc.org.uk) too.

Cats relaxing in pet carrier
Photo: Rob Marquardt via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my 18 year old cat cry and face the wall? The cry is really unusual.

Answer: Sorry to hear your cat is crying and facing the wall. I would strongly recommend getting your cat seen by the vet to rule out medical reasons as there are quite a few possible underlying reasons. If you can get a recording of your cat's cry to show the vet even better (although it's amazing how quiet cats get when there's a camera pointed at them). If you can't get a video, an impression can work too! If the vet feels it's behavioural, then I'd recommend a referral to a qualified behaviourist (see link above).

Question: I have a mother and daughter, aged two years and 18 months, and the mother constantly hisses and spits at her daughter. I got them from CP one year ago and they have never been close, although I hoped their relationship would improve. The little one is quite timid. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Thanks for adopting your cats from Cats Protection and I'm sorry to hear they are not getting along at the moment. There are many possible reasons for a break down in a relationship so it is always worth ruling out medical reasons for both cats first. While there are also many behavioural reasons, one possible is that cats go through social maturity between the ages of 18 months and four years of age, and may drift apart or even fall out with one another around this age as they develop their independence. Cats are less likely to experience conflict if they have plenty of resources spaced out all over the house (eg one resource per cat plus one extra, eg three litter trays, three food bowls etc). It would be worth contacting your local Cats Protection branch or adoption centre where you got your cats from for more advice and support. All the best.

Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.

You’ll find more information about cat care and behaviour at www.cats.org.uk/cat-care/cat-behaviour-hub

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 30 December and 12 January; and vet Dr Sarah Elliott on 26 January. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Friday, 18 November 2016

Don’t give grooming the brush off

Our Haslemere Adoption Centre recently had the lovely Autumn brought into their care after she’d spent some time living outside. Her coat was heavily matted because it hadn’t been groomed.
Fur can become matted when a cat’s undercoat sheds (moults) and gets trapped under the top layer of fur. Poor Autumn was in a lot of discomfort but after a much-needed clipping treatment, she is on the road to recovery.

Autumn before her clip
Autumn before her clip – her whole body was a solid hard lump!
Clipping Autumn's cat hair
Starting to clip along Autumn’s back
Matted cat fur coming away
The whole side of her coat coming away in a complete matt
One side of matted cat hair removed
One side removed
Why longhaired cats need daily grooming
This picture really shows how trapped poor little Autumn was under the matts
Matted longhair from a Persian cat
The matted hair
Matted hair can swamp a cat if not groomed
With all this fur off, the tiny underweight cat is revealed underneath
Underside of cat pelt removed
The underside of all the pelt removed 
Top of removed cat pelt
The top of the removed pelt
These pictures really stress the importance of grooming longhaired cats regularly. If you struggle to groom your cat, ask your vet for advice.

To find out more about cat care, read our Caring for your cat leaflet

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

‘Should I bathe my cat?’ and other veterinary FAQs

In our latest live veterinary Q&A on Facebook, Cats Protection vet Dr Sarah Elliott answered a variety of questions from curious cat owners. Here are just some of the topics discussed:

Question: Should I bathe my cat?

Answer: There isn't much need to bathe a cat. They often will keep themselves clean and tidy, but occasionally they may need help with grooming by brushing them, especially if longhaired (longhaired cats should be brushed daily). Bathing can strip the coat of essential oils which are needed to promote skin health and add a layer of waterproofing. Also if you are using topical flea control products, you might risk removing these during bathing.

Cats like to groom themselves; Photo: Takashi Hososhima via flickr / Creative Commons
Question: Why does my cat scratch the floor around her bowl after she's finished eating?

Answer: Cats can do this as a way of disguising what they view as 'uneaten prey'. In the wild, any uneaten food could draw the attention of bigger predators or other cats that could pose a threat, so cats may feel this instinct kicking in and want to hide uneaten food.

Question: My cat has a hanging ‘pouch’ of very loose skin under her belly, in front of her hind legs. I read that it's normal, especially in spayed cats, and more pronounced as they get older, but wanted to make sure before I take her to the vet for nothing (very stressful for her!).

Answer: Many cats develop a ‘dewlap’ – a hanging apron of skin on their belly. It is a place for fat storage and is a normal feature. As you describe it, I'd say this was nothing to worry about but keep an eye on her weight, especially as she gets older and less active.

Question: What is the best way to reduce the risk of gingivitis and plaque build-up? We adopted our cat as a stray when she was around three years old and she had many teeth removed due to plaque. We still have her and her two daughters, and at the most recent vets appointment, they said they had gingivitis, and if it got worse they would put her on antibiotics. What would you suggest is the best way to help with this? To me, 'just waiting' until she needs antibiotics certainly does not solve the problem! I must also add that we regularly give them Dental Bites and have been putting some plaque prevention stuff in her food once a day to see if it helps.

Answer: Your little stray is lucky to have found you! There are a number of things you can do to help keep your cat's teeth healthy. Brushing teeth daily with a toothpaste specifically designed for cats will help to reduce the build of plaque and tartar and help to keep the gums healthy. There is a variety of toothbrushes to choose from, finger brushes, microfibre clothes for your finger through to full length pet toothbrushes. There are specific dental diets designed with bigger kibble available from your vets to help clean teeth, along with solutions and natural supplements to add to your cat's food and water which may help prevent dental disease. Although I find that the stuff added to water doesn't always work to well and it can put some cats off from drinking enough water. I'd recommend speaking to your vet for more information and you may find our Teeth and oral health leaflet useful.

Veterinary note: Please note that we are unable to give specific advice on your cat's health or any change in behaviour observed. For medical problems, consult your vet who will have access to your cat's medical history and will be able to examine them.

Would you like to ask one of Cats Protection's feline experts a question about your cat? Don't miss the next live Facebook Q&A sessions: chat with Behaviour Manager Nicky Trevorrow on 17 November; or vet Dr Sarah Elliot on 26 January. All Q&As are held on Cats Protection's national Facebook page from 2-3pm. See you there!

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A wonderful ending for Walter

This post has been written by our Colwyn & District Branch

You may remember that back in March we wrote about Walter, who got his leg caught in his collar, causing a very deep wound.

Walter on admission to Cats Protection
Walter on admission
The healed wound
Walter's wound has now healed
Unfortunately his owner no longer wanted him so we kept him in our care until the treatment was complete and we could find him a suitable new home.

At long last Walter has a home. He has a large garden giving him safe access to the outside world, and a mum and dad all to himself. We were sad to see him go but know he will be quite happy in his new home.

Walter's progress
Walter's made brilliant progress
Walter has recovered from his ordeal
We know he'll be a happy chappy in his new home
This video shows just how well he is doing now:

Friday, 11 November 2016

What happens to cats during puberty?

This post has been written by Dr Sarah Elliott BVetMed MRCVS, Central Veterinary Officer at Cats Protection

It is tough growing up, particularly when puberty strikes and hormones go haywire.

But did you know that some cats experience puberty from only four months of age? And there are plenty of feline teenage mums out there who are not having a great time!

Cats reach puberty at around four months of age

When puberty hits, a cat becomes capable of reproducing. They will start exhibiting certain behaviours which will let other cats know that they are looking for a mate. A female cat may ‘call’ for a mate, and become more restless or affectionate. This behaviour last for around five to 10 days and will continue every couple of weeks until she successfully finds a mate. Male cats may start to roam further away from home and become more territorial, getting into late night fights and spraying their territories with strong-smelling urine.

After puberty, cats will become prolific breeders. One female cat may give birth to up to 18 kittens in a year! Young mums are particularly at risk as they are physically underdeveloped and too inexperienced to successfully raise their kittens. The mother’s own health can suffer as a result of carrying a pregnancy when still so young.

Fortunately, cats can be neutered before puberty begins. Neutering from four months of age is hugely beneficial for cats from a social, health and population control perspective. Four months is the age at which neutering recommended by Cats Protection, The Cat Group and many other veterinary bodies.

To find out more about neutering, visit www.cats.org.uk/neutering or speak to your vet for advice.

Friday, 4 November 2016

A life-changing canoeing and wildlife challenge in Zambia

This post has been written by Amy Rutter, Publications & Digital Officer at Cats Protection

When I signed up for the Zambezi River and Big Cat Project, I don’t think I realised just how gruelling it would be. It would be a challenge – I always knew that – but even more so in 42 degree heat. The days were long and tiring, there was lots of travelling and lots of information to process.

But I also didn’t realise quite how much wildlife we’d see, how well we’d connect as a group and how much we’d all learn.

A giraffe in Zambia
Watch out: giraffe crossing
 When we arrived in Lusaka (via Johannesburg) after more than 24 hours of travelling, we were taken to a campsite – our first home, for that night at least – and introduced to our canoeing guides, TK and Martin. It was dark so they welcomed us with a hot meal they’d whipped up by campfire and we then discovered that the Zambezi was only about 10 feet behind our tents. They said we were likely to have some visitors in the night – hippos most likely – but that they were there to listen out, protect us and shoo them away.

Camping in Zambia
Setting up our tents alongside elephants
Sure enough, a number of us awoke to the sound of snorting and the rustling of canvas just metres from our heads. Wide eyed, I tried not to make a sound. In the morning, TK told us a hippo was in the camp and they had to politely send him on his way.

The great thing was, no matter how many wild animals we or they (often by moonlight without our knowledge) came across, they made us feel absolutely safe.

Cats Protection Zambezi canoeing
Championing the CP banner!

Finding a lion paw in Zambia
Finding a lion paw in the wild
I thought we’d be lucky to see a single hippo or crocodile. We saw hundreds of hippos in the river; we were constantly steering our canoes around them to avoid disturbing them. We saw many a crocodile too – the largest looked around 4.5 metres long – and beamed in amazement when we came across herds of elephants bathing in the water.

Canoeing was hard work, especially at points in the day when the wind picked up and we’d get carried by the current. We all got very sore thumbs too; the paddles are not kind to your hands! We’d have to use all our combined power in our two- and three-manned canoes to stay within the safe zones of the water, out of harm’s way.

Elephants in the Zambezi
Spot the elephant!
After three days of canoeing a total of 70km down the Lower Zambezi, we travelled by coach to Livingstone for the next part of our adventure, volunteering at a wildlife and environmental conservation and research project.

The project’s aim is to ensure the future of Africa’s wildlife and one program rehabilitates and reintroduces the offspring of captive-born African lions back into the wild. We fed the lions and also helped with data collection – observing the pride to evaluate whether they were functioning as wild-born lions do. We collected data on a variety of social, territorial and hunting behaviours of the pride – it sounds very easy but it was difficult to not get distracted and keep an eye on which lion was your own when they all look so similar!

Lions drinking from a waterhole
Monitoring lion behaviour; photo by Helena Peck
We also searched for and monitored wild elephants, buffalo and waterbuck to understand their impact on the ecosystem and conflict with rural communities; and accompanied our guides on a snare sweep (we found over 40 between us) to stop poaching of wildlife.

On one of the mornings we also visited a school to meet the local children. We played games with them for a while and delivered a lesson, helping them to learn English and encouraging them to talk to us and their peers. Educating the local community on conservation and managing their environment, as well as teaching basic life skills helps the locals to understand the advantages of living alongside and conserving the local wildlife and habitat.

Saturday club school in Zambia
Playing with schoolchildren
The whole trip was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and our participants worked hard to raise over £60,000 between them, which will make a huge difference in helping the thousands of cats and kittens in our care.

If you’re thinking about signing up to our next big cat challenge and want to read the stories of all those who took part please visit the group fundraising page here.

If you want to find out more about our 2020 Zambia challenge, visit www.cats.org.uk/zambia20