• General
  • Which Make Better Pets – Cats or Dogs?: Cat and Dog Studies and Statistics – A Comparison

    Kate Douglas of New Scientist outlines the results of a series of studies designed to answer the age-old question: Which make better pets – cats or dogs? Some of the highlights are as follows.

    Shared History with Humans – Dogs Were Domesticated First

    Researchers have traced the origin of the dog to the domestication of wolves in China between 11,500 and 16,300 years ago. However, they suggest that dogs were probably used as food sources rather than companions initially.

    Cats were first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent at least 9,500 years ago, most likely because their rodent-catching abilities were beneficial in protecting stored food.

    Bonding – Dogs Are Easier to Study Than Cats

    Dogs appear to bond with their owners much like human babies, showing happiness and courage in strange situations when their “parent” is present, and distress when the parent leaves. Putting dogs through the “strange situation test,” animal researcher Adam Miklósi of Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, Hungary, found that they behaved much in the same way as securely attached human babies would. Although Miklósi suspects that cats bond in a similar way, he was unable to persuade them to cooperate for the test because they found the laboratory setting too distressing.

    Popularity – Cats Have Surpassed Dogs as the Most Popular Pets

    In recent years, cats have become the number one pet, with nearly 204 million felines in the top 10 cat-owning countries (U.S., Russia, China, Brazil, France, Italy, UK, Ukraine, Japan, and Germany) compared to fewer than 173 million dogs in the top dog-owning countries (U.S., Brazil, China, Japan, Russia, South Africa, France, Italy, Poland, and Thailand) (Countries with the Most Pet Animal Population).

    Although ownership statistics give some indication of how much cats and dogs are liked, it should be noted that cats are far more convenient, and many people who find cats and dogs equally appealing may choose cats over dogs simply because they don’t have time to walk a dog every day, can’t afford to pay the higher food and veterinary costs that dogs require, or live in small apartments that are not conducive to dog ownership. Thus, ownership statistics don’t necessarily indicate that cats are liked by more people than dogs.

    Tractability – Dogs are Easier to Control and Teach

    The question of whether tractability is positively or negatively correlated with intelligence is up for debate. However, few would argue that most dogs are far more biddable and generally cooperative than most cats, learning human rules more easily and showing a greater motivation to obey them.

    Animals such as dolphins, chimpanzees, and cats usually learn by emulating other individuals, whereas dogs learn more like human infants, through direct teaching. Cats can be taught using rewards in much the same way as dogs, but this requires more patience on the part of the trainer, as cats are less motivated to please.

    Usefulness – Dogs can Fulfill More Functions

    Dogs can do a lot of useful things for people, including drug and bomb sniffing, guiding the blind, pulling sleds, and finding avalanche victims. Both dogs and cats can provide their owners with significant health benefits, but dogs have the added benefit of forcing their owners to go outside and get some exercise.

    Cats have been used along with dogs as therapy animals, and cats have proven particularly therapeutic in prisons. However, the greatest historical use for cats has been rodent control. While this job was critical in the past, it’s not so important in modern times.

    Eco-Friendliness – Cats Are Greener Pets Than Dogs

    Studies of wildlife disturbance and predation, as well as statistics on the ecological footprints for North America’s most popular pets, indicate that cats are more environmentally friendly than dogs.

  • General
  • Alternatives to Declawing Your Cat

    Don't declaw your cats

    We know that every cat has a normal behavior of scratching and they usually scratch not for destroying your favorite wooden furniture or carpet, rather scratches for different reasons. While stretching their muscles or marking any region or sometimes when they try to remove their claw’s dead husks the cats do the unwanted scratching. Usually, the cats start their scratching from 8 weeks old. Declawing cats is a very controversial process through which the cat’s nails are being removed by a simple surgery. Many countries banned this process as they think, it is an animal cruelty because through this process the last bone of each toe is amputated. According to scientists the declawing process is unnecessary and it doesn’t give any medical benefits to the cats rather after the surgery when the cats try to restart her normal activities, she may experience so much pain.

    So it is not only advised to stop declawing but also American Veterinary Medical Association in short AVMA very recently changed their policy on destructive declawing cats. Instead of doing destructive declawing cats there are some kind alternatives of declawing process.

    #1 : Cat trees & Scratchers :

    This is the best alternative of declawing cats. Scratching is a very natural habit for all the cats, even after declawing process cats always try to go through the scratching motion as it is their natural behavior. It is almost impossible to change their habit of scratching, instead if you provide a suitable place for them to scratch then that would be an excellent alternative for declawing process. All you have to do is arranging a proper litter box or a catbox for your cat and train them in such a way that they always scratch on the cat scratchers. This training will teach them where to scratch and where not. It absolutely depends on you whether you bought the cat scratchers from a store or use a home-made cat scratcher made of wood, sisal rope, and carpet. The cat scratchers are also not expensive ones. But the main thing you have to look after while purchasing or making a cat scratcher is that it should be quite tall enough. If your cat scratcher is not tall enough then your cat can’t stretch on it and scratch.

    #2 : Nail covers :

    As the name depicts nail covers are nothing but small caps made from latex and these nail covers are being fixed on the top portion of the cat’s claw. These nail covers usually unsharpened the claws such a way that they can’t do much damage. The cat’s nails grow out, so the nail covers and after lasting for 30 days those nail covers finally break off. You can choose a variety of colors for your cat’s nail cover. It is advised to trim your cat’s claws first and then after taking an appointment with your pet’s vet you can use those nail covers.

    #3 : Trimmed the nails :

    If you trim your cat’s claws quite often then it will definitely reduce the effect of damage due to scratching. You can do the trim by your own and it doesn’t need much, only the tip. You can also take the help of your cat’s vet for the trimming process.

  • General
  • Cat Behaviour: Socialisation for Dummies

    A well socialised kitten will be a pleasant companion, with good manners. It seems as though everything I read about getting a kitten says that the breeder should have raised it to be a nice, friendly, and to be a well behaved pet. I couldn’t agree more, and if you bought your kitten from a responsible breeder, this would have happened.

    But what if it was your own little girl who fell pregnant before you’d realised that she was old enough?  What will you do to socialise the kittens?

    Vets tell me that they frequently deal with pet mogs who have unplanned pregnancies. As I write this (early spring) my complex is being visited by a tabby kitten who is very much overdue to spaying. You do not have to wait until your cat is six months old to spay her (or neuter him – it takes two to make kittens). You may have to look around to find a vet who is willing to do it, but it can be done as early as 10 weeks, with certain precautions. If the cat weighs over two kilograms there should be no difficulties. But if you slipped up, and you do have an unplanned litter of kittens, here are some guidelines.

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    What is “SOCIALISING?”

    The modern term for a pet is “companion animal” and this says it all. A well socialised kitten will be a pleasant companion, with good manners. But how do you teach your kittens manners?  When and where do you start?
    Mom-cat is in charge: If you were to visit a responsible breeder who has tiny kittens, you might well hear them say to the mother cat “may I look at your babies?”  This attitude recognises that the mother cat is charge. If she is comfortable with you looking at her babies, even handling them, that is fine. If she is not, you must leave them alone.   If you have children, you may have to be very strict, but they must leave the kittens alone.  It is a good idea if one person, whom the mother cat trusts, weighs the kittens once a day, as the first sign of a problem will be weight loss. Bedding must be changed daily, and the bed kept warm, and most new mothers enjoy being stroked and told how clever they are, but the baby kittens should be left to do nothing but eat, sleep and grow.

    Mom-cat and babies should have a box in a quiet room, where they will feel safe.

    Don’t be alarmed by the screaming kittens when Mom-cat returns to her nursery (they are demanding milk), but do check if they cry at other times, and make sure that one kitten is not consistently being pushed off the nipple by stronger kittens (this is one reason for weighing the kittens).

    At around five to seven days old, the kittens’ eyes will open. Keep the lighting dim, to avoid damage to the new eyes.

    By two to three weeks of age, the kittens will be able to control their own body temperature, can hear and will begin to explore. You can begin to handle them a little more, picking them up and holding them close to you, singing lullabies, and so forth.   As you want them to grow up loving humans, and wanting contact with humans, it is important that their interactions with you are pleasant. If Mom-cat demands that you put the kittens back in their box, that is what you do.

    By four weeks, you will have a boxful of tiny hooligans. They’ll be constantly trying to escape, wrestling with each other, and ready to learn how to be wonderful cats.  Remember, though, that they still needs lots of sleep, and must be left to sleep as much as they want.   In fact, you may sometimes need to insist that they nap – just like human children!

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    How to Be a Good Pet?

    Think about what most people want from their cats: to live in their homes, be friendly, and easy to handle. This sounds obvious, but these are all learned behaviours.

    Your kittens must be exposed to household activities. Noises such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners must be as familiar as their mother’s purr, so don’t wrap them in cotton wool. Be very careful, though – they’ll be into everything, and they’ll chew everything as their teeth erupt. Keep electrical cords covered (Cable Twirly is useful), keep the toilet seat down (kittens are likely to drown if they fall in the toilet) and never start the washing machine without doing a head count.

    They must get used to all kinds of people and animals. If you have other cats, dogs and a constant flow of visitors, this will be easy. If you are a bit of a recluse, you will have to work harder, borrow children and make sure that the kittens meet everyone who comes to your house. I once had a somewhat shy Burmese whom I wanted to show.   When I needed a plumber, his rather surprised assistant found himself holding my kitten (Phoebe went on to compete at Cat of the Year).

  • General
  • Persian Cats From A to Z

    When you are owned by a Persian, grooming is not optional – it should form part of your daily routine. Persians’ eyes should be wiped with a lukewarm facecloth once a day as their large eyes can attract a lot of dust and other irritants, which causes the eyes to run.

    Contrary to popular belief, Persians should not be brushed. Another myth is that Persians should be combed or brushed on a daily basis.

    Brushing breaks the hair and also removes the undercoat. If your cat is bathed regularly and the coat is clean, grease free and healthy, minimal combing will be required. The comb should be a steel wide tooth comb only.

    persian-cat

    Bathing your Persian is however a necessity. A Persian should be bathed at least twice a month (coupled with combing, as described above, every second or third day). Preferably a Persian should be bathed once a week. Knots, tangles or mats are not only unsightly; they are also very uncomfortable for the cat, tug at their skin and they are painful to remove.The moral of the story – clean hair doesn’t knot, tangle or mat, so bath more and comb less to keep your Persian’s luxurious coat in perfect condition.

    Warning

    Persians are not “streetwise”; they do not have “9-lives”! Cars, dogs, and so forth are very real dangers to them and they will not be able to escape these dangers as effortlessly as other cats.

    Persian babies are also very curious and will wander and investigate, just like any other kitten, but they are very trusting and will gladly be picked up by a stranger. The scary fact is that Persians are frequently stolen.

    Personality

    If you are looking for highly active cat that will entertain you with their antics and high-speed chases … the Persian is NOT the breed for you.

    Persians are more the “love me”, “feed me”, “never leave me” kind of cats…like Garfield if you will.

    This is one cat that is unlikely to climb up your curtains, jump on your kitchen counters, or perch on top of your refrigerator. Persians are far too dignified for such behaviour and they will happily rule their kingdom from a grounded position or from the best seat in the house.

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    Persians have a sweet, gentle nature and have a laidback approach to life. They are creatures of habit and they prefer a calm, serene environment – noisy environments are not a Persian’s style. They are a very affectionate breed and enjoy attention.

    Persians are quiet cats, very easy going, and they get along well with other pets and family members.They eagerly play with toys or a teaser; but they are equally happy to drape themselves decoratively over ones lap or in a favourite spot.

    Don’t be fooled by their good looks – they are not just “pretty faces”. Persians are extremely intelligent which also helps them adapt to performing well in show rings.

    Buyer Advice

    Never buy a kitten over the phone or internet. You need to see the baby and make sure that he/she is strong and healthy.

    Demand to see the baby’s mom and dad. It is your right to see if the parents are healthy and in a good condition.

    It is also your right to ask if the parents have been tested for FIV, FeVL and PKD.

    Demand the baby’s original pedigree, if you are buying a registered kitten (which all Persians should be) there is no reason for the breeder to hold back the pedigree.

    Ask for grooming lessons. If you don’t know how to properly groom your new baby, that beautiful ball of fluff will soon be a miserable matted little being.

  • Breeds
  • Breed Focus: The Persian cat

    The Persian is a very contented and beautiful breed. In the first cat show in 1871 the main exhibits were Persian and Angora cats, both longhairs with the Persians being the bigger and stronger variety, with a dense harsh coat. The Angoras had longer noses and ears and a flowing silky coat. The Modern Persian is a fusion of the two although with a flat nose but flowing silky coat. This is due to the breeding with long haired cats from India and Russia.

    persian cat
    Appearance

    The Persian should be a solid, large well balanced cat, with a large head in proportion to its body, which should be short and cobby with a broad chest, short sturdy legs, large paws, and a short full tail. The cats coat should be long and flowing. Detractors will say that the flat face looks as though it ran into the back of a bus. Unfortunately with some breeding the cats nose can become blocked and appear between the eyes and this is a serious defect as the cat has difficulty breathing. There are many good breeders in South Africa due to the fact that this is a popular cat on the show bench.  They are the famous chocolate box cats and one cannot disagree that a well groomed Persian is absolutely beautiful to behold.

    Personality

    Most Persians are very laid back with excellent temperament. This is possibly due to the fact they need constant grooming to prevent their fur knotting and so they are used to being handled. They love the attention grooming takes and make excellent lap cats. On the whole they do not gallop about the house as much as Siamese or the more agile breeds do, but they have their moments playing with toys, especially the tinsel wands. The Persian is a very contented and beautiful breed.

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    Types, Colors & Patterns

    There are five coat colour and patterns recognised and also the Chinchilla Persian and its offshoot the Golden Persian. The five recognised colours and patterns are – self, patterned, patched, silver, and pointed.

    • Chinchilla Persian – perhaps the most captivating with its white undercoat and black tipping on its back, flank, head, ears and tail giving it a sparkling silver effect.
    • Golden Persian – instead of the white undercoat it has an apricot undercoat, sometimes deepening to gold, and with the tipping appearance of flowing gold.
    • Self (only one colour) including – white, black, blue, red, cream, lilac, chocolate.
    • Patterned or tabby Persians – comes in all the above colours but has three distinct patterns; classic, mackerel, and spotted.
    • Patched – which means it has a colour plus white, for example black and white, red and white and the calico (red, black and white).
    • Silver – there are three degrees of silver –  shell, shaded and smoke. (Chinchillas can be put in this category).
    • Pointed – these are Colour-points (known as Himalayans in the rest of the World). It has colour on its face (mask), ears, legs, feet and tail.