Fun Things to Do With Your Cats

While cats may have a reputation for being independent, that is not entirely accurate. Cats are social creatures; they enjoy play and interaction both with people and other cats. Here are just a few things you might want to try with the cat in your life.

Self-Play Toys: While there are many cute toys that cats love available for sale, from catnip-filled toys to toys that make tingling or crackling sounds when they move, many cats are pleased with even very simple, homemade toys.

 

One of our Nevada Humane Society office cats, Petey, loves crumpled balls of paper. Crumple some paper and Petey comes running; toss it and he will retrieve it for you. (Petey also has been known to swipe sticky notes from my desk when he is bored.) Homemade toys like foil balls and plastic rings from milk jugs are popular with cats and the price is right. Catnip can be purchased loose or you can easily grow it in your own garden.

 

If your cat is food-motivated, there are toys that dispense treats to encourage play. There are several different versions on the market, but you could make your own treat-dispensing toy by making a hole in a tennis ball or small, lidded container. Fill it with dry kibble or treats and your kitty will be kept busy.

 

Cats especially love feather toys because they move in such an enticing way. There are also battery-powered toys, mice that run around a track or moving parts to entertain your cat. Some cats like dangling toys that can be affixed to a door frame or mounted on a wall.

 

Interactive Toys: Wand or fishing-rod type toys are a huge hit with cats and add to your amusement as you watch your kitty pounce and dash after the toy. These too can be made at home. When I was a kid my mother used to tie a folded piece of paper, shaped vaguely like a butterfly, onto the end of a length of yarn. The cats were thrilled with this and all these years later, they still love it.

 

Of course, you need to be sure that any toys you offer are safe. Toys should be large enough so that your cat will not ingest them and string should be used only when you are there to supervise your kitty’s activities.

 

Many cats enjoy laser pointers; chasing the point of light around the house can be an easy way to give kitty a work out while you sit in one place. Take care not to let the light shine into your cat’s eyes though, as it can damage your cat’s vision.

 

Perches: Cats love being able to get up high to survey their turf and they also love looking out windows to watch the world. There are all kinds of window perches and cat trees available, but it could be as simple as putting a large chair or some other surface by the window so kitty can sit on the back of it and peer out.

 

Videos: There are several great videos and DVDs on the market for cats that show footage of mice, birds, insects and fish along with the sounds of nature. Not only do they give hours of pleasure to your cats while you are away, but watching your cats watch the videos will provide plenty of amusement for you, too. Some cats will come running when they hear the start of their favorite video.

 

Tricks: Cats can be taught any number of tricks including, sitting, lying down, waving and even speaking. The trick is motivating your cat to do these things on cue. Positive reinforcement techniques, like Clicker Training, work well with cats. One woman I know trained her cat to jump though a hoop. The kitty loved salami, and for a little piece, he was happy to perform. I met another cat who played a little piano for his favorite treats.

 

Scratching Posts: Giving your cat an appropriate place to scratch is important both for their physical and emotional well being. There are many wonderful posts or cat trees available for purchase, but you can also make your own. Some cats prefer carpeted surfaces while others prefer sisal or natural wood. You can also buy inexpensive cardboard scratching pads for your cat. The placement of the scratching post is important; cats like their post to be in a prominent place, not hidden away.

 

Great Outdoors: If you want your cat to enjoy the outdoors, be sure that their vaccines are up to date. A surprising number of cats can learn to walk on a leash with a kitty harness. While your dog is probably happy to go where you wish, a walk with a cat goes best if you follow where they want to go. My neighbor has a nice stroller that is fully enclosed and her two cats love going for a ride in it.

 

Another great option is to create an outdoor cat enclosure. Plans for building your own cat enclosure can be found on the internet. There are also several excellent cat-fence kits available for sale, including models that attach to an existing fence to keep your cats in your yard.

 

Feline Friends: Another great thing to do for your kitty is to get a new friend. While most cats need time to adjust to a new cat companion, nearly all cats come to enjoy having a feline friend. Proper introductions are the key to success. Adopting a cat from a shelter is a great way to help a cat who needs a home. Shelter staff members are experienced in making cat introductions and they can offer information and support.

 

While they may show it in subtle ways, cats truly value their time with you. I think you will find that the more time you spend with your cat the more rewarding and enjoyable you will find their companionship to be.

 

 

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First Aid for Your Pet

If your pet is ever injured, your quick action can make a lifesaving difference. Of course, first aid is only the first step; the goal is to get your pet to a veterinarian as quickly as possible. Putting the phone number of your veterinarian and the nearest veterinary emergency center in speed dial on your phone can save crucial minutes.

Obviously, we can only give very general guidelines here. In an emergency, you will need to use your own good judgment and seek your veterinarian’s advice.

When your pet is injured, the first order of business is to move your pet away from any immediate danger while ensuring your own safety. Then call your veterinarian or emergency clinic. Letting the clinic know that you are on the way and what to expect enables them to be ready for your pet.

Protecting Yourself

Even the gentlest pet can bite or scratch their favorite person when the animal is injured or frightened. Muzzling your dog is the safest way to ensure that your dog cannot bite and will be able to get needed help quickly. You can create a muzzle with a strip of cloth, necktie, or nylon stocking. Wrap it around the nose and under the chin and then tie it behind the ears. Do not muzzle a dog that is vomiting. Once the dog has been moved, you can loosen or remove the muzzle.

Cats and small pets are best handled by wrapping them in a towel or placing a towel over their head temporarily. Be sure that your pet is able to breathe.

Transporting an Injured Animal

If an animal has sustained trauma, such as a car accident, you can help prevent further injury by minimizing movement of an animal’s body. Gently lay your pet on a flat surface for support. A board or similar flat surface or a rug or blanket held taught by two people, can function as a makeshift stretcher.

A carrier may be workable for a smaller animal. Taking the top off to put the pet inside and then replacing the top can minimize movement for the injured animal.

Fractures or Dislocations

If your pet is holding a limb in an unnatural way, this may indicate a fracture. During transport to the clinic, try to move or handle the animal as little as possible. Don’t try to apply a splint since it will most often only inflict greater pain.

Bleeding Wounds

If a wound is bleeding profusely, apply firm pressure to the area with a clean cotton cloth to slow the bleeding. Do not use a tourniquet. If it bleeds through the fabric, apply more cloth over the pad rather than removing it. Meanwhile, arrange transport to your veterinarian. If you are alone, you can tie the compress in place. It should be snug, but not cut off circulation. Waste no time getting your pet to the veterinarian. A wound does not need to be large to become infected so it is best to seek care even if the wound stops bleeding quickly.

An animal that is bleeding from their nose, mouth, or rectum may be bleeding internally. Pale gums, weakness and collapse are other symptoms of internal bleeding. Keep the animal warm and rush to a veterinarian.

Shock. Shock can accompany injuries. An animal in shock will be weak, have pale gums and rapid breathing. Keep the animal warm and get to a vet clinic right away.

Poisoning. Products that are harmful for people to consume are also harmful for pets, but sometimes pets can also be sensitive to other substances. Symptoms of poisoning may include weakness, vomiting, convulsions, difficulty breathing, or loss of consciousness. Telephone your veterinarian immediately, or if you know what your pet has consumed, you can call the Animal Poison Control Center hotline (888-426-4435) that is available around the clock, 365 days a year (there is a fee for the consultation). Treatment depends on the substance, so keep the product label at hand.

Collect any material your pet may have vomited or chewed in a plastic sealable bag, this may help your veterinarian determine what was consumed. If poisoning is detected soon enough it may be possible for your veterinarian to eliminate the poison before serious harm occurs.

If your pet’s skin or eyes are exposed to a toxic product, check the label for the instructions for human exposure and follow those instructions. Call your veterinarian immediately as further treatment may be needed.

Seizures

Move the pet away from furniture or anything that could harm them during the seizure. You can use a blanket for padding, but do not restrain the pet during the seizure. Time the seizure; they usually do not exceed three minutes. Afterwards, keep the animal calm and call your veterinarian immediately.

Choking

If your pet is having difficulty breathing, pawing at the mouth, blue lips or tongue, you need to act quickly. Be aware that your pet may be frightened and more likely to bite. If your pet can still breathe, get them to a veterinarian as quickly as possible.

If your pet cannot breathe, look into their mouth to see if the object is visible in the throat and can be removed with your fingers, tweezers, or pliers. Take care not to push it farther down the throat. If it is lodged too deeply or if the pet collapses, place your hands on both sides of the animal’s rib cage and apply firm, quick pressure or place the animal on its side and using the palm of your hand, strike the side of the rib cage firmly three or four times. If you can force air up from the lungs, you may be able to expel the object. Keep trying until the object is dislodged or you arrive at the veterinarian’s office.

 

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