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Kitty Corner

Sometimes they’re aloof. Sometimes they’re snuggled up right in your lap. Our cats are amazing companions whose health, nutrition and happiness can be complex. We can help with tips and advice on all things feline.

Catnip Crazies

Catnip has provided countless hours of fun and entertainment not only for cats, but for owners as well. Every cat lover enjoys seeing their feline friend turn into a furry ball of frolicking energy. So why is it that cats go crazy for catnip? The answer is in the scent of the catnip leaf.

What is Catnip?

Catnip is a perennial herb from the mint family that induces a euphoric high in most cats. The plant is native to Europe, but is now commonly found in Canada and the United States.

The active ingredient of catnip, found in the oil of the plant, is called Nepetalactone and is easily released into the air. Scientists believe that the chemical may imitate the effects of cat pheromones, the smell of which cause wild behavior changes in cats.

Catnip can be bought fresh, dried or in liquid form, and even toys infused with catnip are available at most pet stores. It is also easy to grow at home.

Crazy Cats

Catnip can turn the most lethargic cat into a playful kitten. Common effects include rolling in and rubbing their cheeks against the catnip, twisting into acrobatic positions, running, jumping and tumbling around the room. The catnip “high” lasts from 10-15 minutes. Wait a couple of hours and the experience can start all over again.

Unfortunately, some cats can’t join the fun. Sensitivity to catnip is a genetically inherited trait and just over 50% of all cats have positive reactions. The age of the cat can also be a factor as catnip does not usually affect kittens under five months old, and the reaction to the herb often diminishes in elderly cats.

A Harmless Habit

Even though the effects of catnip are similar to a drug, it is not addictive or habit forming for your cat. In fact, if cats are overexposed to the herb they can become immune to the euphoria it produces.

Four Uses for Catnip

  1. To stop your cat from scratching your sofa or carpet, try spraying or rubbing catnip oil on a scratching post.
  2. If your cat is very sedentary or overweight, catnip can be a great exercise stimulator to help them shed a few pounds.
  3. The regular use of catnip can help keep your cat from eating other plants in your home.
  4. Use catnip to draw your cat’s attention away from unpleasant experiences, such as a trip to the vet.
  5. Cozy Cat Beds

    As a cat owner there are probably days when you question whether or not your cat has actually moved. Cats sleep a lot. Sometimes up to 20 hours a day! It’s hard work getting all that beauty sleep in and the perfect place for your kitty to catch some z’s is in a thoughtfully placed, cozy cat bed.

    Given that cats seem to be able to curl up and sleep anywhere, sinks and comically small boxes included, some believe that cat beds are an unnecessary luxury. But this isn’t the case; any cat can definitely benefit from having a bed to call its own. A comfortable cat bed will be a welcome addition during the cold winter months, not to mention a fantastic Christmas gift!

    Types of Cat Beds

    There’s no shortage of cat beds out there. The vast selection of styles, shapes, colors and prices can be downright overwhelming. We’ve done some research into the most popular styles for you:

    Cat Mats: This is the cheapest and easiest kind of cat bed to maintain, and they’re made of a variety of materials from plush to sheepskin. These rectangular-shaped mats can be placed on floors and furniture.

    Cuddlers: These beds have high, soft walls and are usually open on top. They are a favorite with the feline species since they offer the much-loved feeling of enclosed sleep.

    Thermo Beds: These beds come in all styles with a removable electric heating pad that will help keep your cat toasty in the winter.

    Sill Perches: These beds are designed for cats that love to laze on the windowsill in the sun – they are easily identified by the Velcro straps used for attaching them to a lofty height.

    Selecting the One that Fits Juuust Right

    With so many options out there for feline shuteye, here are some tips on how to pick a winner:

    • Look for a bed with a removable, machine-washable cover for easy maintenance and hygiene
    • Find a bed made of soft, but sturdy, materials that are fluffy and hold warmth
    • Choose a bed that is the right size for your cat. It should be big enough for the cat to stretch out in, but small enough to make your cat feel sheltered
    • Make sure the bed is easy for your cat to enter and exit. If your cat is a senior, or still a tiny kitten, the walls of the bed should be low and easy to scale
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    Location, Location, Location.

    What’s good for the realtor is also good for the cat. Rule number one is choose a clean, quiet space for the cat bed. The ideal location is also nice and warm in the winter, but cool in the summer. Before giving the cat bed a permanent home, observe your cat’s habits to see if they prefer to sleep in a lofty location overlooking the home or hidden away in a quiet corner. You can also experiment by moving the bed to different areas of the house and seeing where the cat uses it most. However, if your cat already has a preferred spot in the house, by all means place the bed right there.

    Getting Your Cat to Snuggle Up

    It’s perfectly normal for you to bring home a deluxe cat bed and have your cat completely ignore it. The secret is making the bed as tempting and attractive as possible:

    • Sneaky, and smart, owners will put a little bit of catnip or catnip spray around the bed
    • Putting a few small treats in the bed on a regular basis will work wonders
    • Fill the bed with your cat’s favorite toys and pillows
    • Always give you cat praise and love when they use their new bed

    Create Your Own Cat Fitness Plan

    Just like their human counterparts, cats are living large these days. Studies show that half of all the cats and dogs in the United States are considered overweight! Obesity is just as dangerous for cats as it is for humans, causing a myriad of illnesses and health conditions like liver damage, arthritis and diabetes.

    Your cat doesn’t have to be part of the increasingly scary feline obesity statistics, and a diet of both RedMoon food and healthy treats will definitely make your cat’s ideal weight easier to achieve. While the rest of us humans will have to kick off our New Year’s resolution on the treadmill, we’ve got a way to get your cat active that’s fun for you both.

    Fitness Plan Step One: Determine if Your Cat Is Overweight

    Because the average size and weight of cats can vary significantly from breed to breed, the best way to tell if your cat is overweight is by doing both a visual and tactile assessment.

    First, move your hands gently along the sides of your cat’s body to feel their ribs. If your cat is of average weight you should be able to count the ribs easily and feel a small layer of fat over them. If there is a thick layer of fat covering the ribs, or you can’t count them, then your cat is probably overweight.

    Second, look at your cat from above. When viewed from above, a cat of average weight has a slight waist, or indent, behind their ribs. An overweight cat will have no waist or a rounded shape behind the ribs.

    Third, look at your cat from the side to check for abdominal tuck. This is an area behind the ribs that is smaller in diameter than the chest. Overweight cats sadly have no abdominal tuck.

    Fitness Plan Step Two: Talk to Your Vet

    If your cat is indeed overweight, the next step is to schedule a visit to the vet. Your vet will be able to determine if your cat’s weight problem is caused by a more serious condition or a simple lack of exercise and/or overeating. If the case is the latter, and we certainly hope it is, your vet will be able to give you some helpful recommendations regarding modifications to your cat’s diet and exercise regime.

    With your vet’s advice in mind, be sure to keep a careful eye on your cat’s weight loss progress. Losing more than half a pound a month can cause your cat to develop hepatic lipidosis - aka feline fatty liver syndrome. This is a serious liver disease that has real potential to kill your cat! Slow weight loss is much more beneficial, and usually longer lasting, for cats and humans alike.

    Fitness Plan Step Three: Schedule in ‘Workouts’

    Luckily for cats, physical activity is really just another name for playtime, and they need to engage in tail fluffing, long leaping play daily. Cats have short bursts of intense energy (hence the 10-hour long naps); so two 10-15 minute play periods each day are recommended.

    Time of day will make a difference in how willing your feline is to play. As you’ve no doubt noticed, your cat is likely to be more active late at night. This is instinctual behaviour that relates back to a wild cat’s normal hunting hours taking place after midnight. If you’re a night owl yourself, this can be a great time to play with your cat.

    Fitness Plan Step Four: Get Moving!

    Now comes the fun part for you and your cat, playtime! We’ve got five ways to get your cat moving:

    1. Happy Hunting

      There’s no doubt that cats love to hunt, so toys that resemble prey are good choices. Try a toy like Da Bird, a feathery toy attached to a rod that lets your cat mimic chasing a bird. The Cat Charmer, a flexible wand with a brightly coloured tail is another popular choice. Cats find this kind of toy so irresistible that owners usually have to hide them when not in use.

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    3. Catnip Crazy

      Catnip has the power to give cats a euphoric (and completely safe) ‘high’ that has them bouncing off the walls and burning calories for up to 20 minutes.

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    5. Indoor Games

      One of the simplest and most effective games you can play with your cat is good old-fashioned hide and seek. You’ll be surprised at how long this will keep your cat active and entertained.

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    7. Cat Trees

      Climbing is second nature to your cat and provides a great strength workout. Cat trees and gyms provide ample opportunity for climbing, jumping and scratching. Cats will use these on their own, making them a good option for solo exercise.

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    9. Laser Toys

      Cats can’t get enough of pursuing the tiny dots of light given off by laser toys and pointers. We promise you’ll enjoy the show too.

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