Tagged with " hunting"

Kittens, in their “formative weeks”

Apr 6, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior

training a kitten

Kittens are born with their eyes closed and just basically sleep and nurse, and sometimes meow loudly. The queen stimulates their elimination, and they are completely dependent upon her for their first few weeks. They will communicate with the queen vocally on day 1; and by 4 days they can clumsily walk to their preferred teat for nursing. Because olfactory sensation is working very well right at birth, it is their main sense along with the tactile stimulation of touch, especially on their face. A feral queen can teach her kittens to be afraid of anything (especially humans) as early as 2 days old. There will be differences in socialization toward humans that extend into adulthood when a kitten spends these first few days with a truly feral mom! Eyes open around 7-10 days; and, between weeks 2 and 3, the ears open (although they do hear with closed ears by day 4) and those senses now contribute in the transition to the next phase, the development of the ultimate predator. Speaking of, those needle baby teeth begin to bud between weeks 2 and 3! Poor mom…

The socialization phase is vitally important; and, it proceeds separately with each species. First and most importantly, cat on cat socialization is being learned. Kittens are responsible for all gait patterns, adult locomotion, and most body postures by weeks 6 to 7. So interacting with others begins immediately! Or it does not, based on the individual’s environment and exposure, and on a species to species basis. But remember that no experience equals a bad experience. So if a kitten is isolated early, their socialization could suffer greatly. Kittens that do not hang out with other cats at this young age will develop very little social skills for the group setting. They also learn by visual inspection, so grooming and even hunting skills (through play) are being learned as early as one month of age! Starting at 4 weeks, mom is getting sick of the nursing; but, sometimes she does not completely quit until they are 7-8 weeks of age. At the age of 2 months, most kittens are eating solid foods or prey items brought by mom. And studies have shown that the earlier they stop nursing, the more effective hunters they become! The budding stars are helping her eat her prey items by week 4, and stop nursing immediately. They will all follow the queen on her hunts by weeks 15- 18, and most kittens are self-sufficient predators by 6 months of age! Cats usually have a “specialty” or preference in what they hunt, and mom’s influence is huge in this decision.

Now it is time to leave the house, especially for the young boys. And unless resources allow for succession planning, the little queens must also leave home! The best chance of any cat having a lifelong social mate is by teaming up with a littermate. These are often same sex pairs, 2 boys or 2-3 girls, in the barn cat setting. And though some genetic tendencies, like a “boldness gene”, do contribute these first few months are vital to shaping the level of socialization in each cat’s life. If they do not meet dogs until they are 6 months, the acceptance of a dog will be limited throughout their life. If you adopt a feral kitten that has had little to no human contact at the age of 6 months, socialization with humans may be greatly limited. So lots of exposure to a variety of animals and to a variety of people results in the most favorably socialized pet cats. And this process should begin as early as possible. Interestingly enough, the little toms become sexually mature as early as 6 months of age in the pet setting, or with the breeder, but as late as 18 months in the wild. I guess they have to put it on hold until they can fight for their right to mate? Or maybe it takes about a year to find a good place? Or maybe it is just like being a freshman in high school; none of the girls pay attention that year!

A general rule of thumb in animals is that the longer time spent with their mother, the more intelligent the species. And although post-college children living at home may challenge that rule, it is generally true. So, as I often tell clients, the cat is more instinctual and predictable and intelligence is just not their game. Although some are smarter than others, the primal nature of their behavior is one of the most beautiful things they offer us as a species. They are simultaneously the perfect predator and a perfect model for meditation and yoga masters. They can be so peaceful as they rest and groom, and so seemingly vicious during a hunt. And we all know that no one consistently acts as cool as a cat. And on a pound for pound basis, they are the most powerful, the fastest and the most aggressive athlete that has ever lived… and number 2 is not even close! I am always amazed that this is all learned in 6 months, and a good chunk of it by 3 months! So enjoy kitten season and keep this information in mind during the formative weeks.

Dr Michael Ray

Dr. Ray is a Marietta Georgia native and graduate of Osborne High School. He received his bachelor of science at Georgia Southern University, and went on to graduate with his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida in 1997. After graduation, Dr. Ray completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Animal Specialty Group in Los Angeles.

Dr. Ray has spent most of his career working in Feline Only hospitals, and is very excited to have the opportunity to own his own cat practice. Dr. Ray has been the Medical Director of The Cat Clinic of Roswell since March 2008.

The Cat Clinic of Roswell
1002 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075

Phone: 770-552-PURR (7877)
Fax: 770-552-8855
Email: info@catclinicofroswell.com

Website: http://www.catclinicofroswell.com/
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I am a Mighty Bug Hunter!

Jul 15, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

My name is Cleo. I live in Grand Rapids, MI. I live inside the house with 3 other cats. My mom is a vet. She doesn’t let me outside because she says there are too many risks in our area between traffic and getting into fights with other cats in our neighborhood. I know I would win those fights but she doesn’t trust me! So, instead I like to hunt in our house for bugs. We have air conditioning, but we still get some mosquitoes, moths, and other flying toys in the house periodically. Sometimes the mosquitoes bite me, but I don’t care. I keep hoping we get a bat in the house so I can catch a big flying toy- my mom says she sees that several times a year in her patients.

My favorites though are the bugs that crawl on the ground.  Spiders, sow bugs, the occasional cricket and other creepy crawlies give me hours of entertainment. After I catch them and play with them for a while, I like to eat them. (I even caught a mouse last year and left the best part (the head) for my mom. She wasn’t too thrilled. Sometimes I get no appreciation for all my efforts. Sigh.

Most of the time my mom never even sees what I am hunting as I find the basement and other out of the way spots are the best places to find my prey. When she sees me playing with what I catch, my mom usually takes them away from me before I eat them. She says I can get parasites and other infections from them. I am not sure what parasites are, but mom says they can make me sick. Those parasites are why she keeps me on a monthly parasite medication year around, and keeps my vaccines up to date even though I don’t go outside. She says I can even get some parasites from walking through dirt or digging in potting soil and then washing my feet afterward.  This is what she says I can get from:

  • Mosquitoes- heartworms
  • Fleas- tapeworms, Bartonella infection (cat scratch fever)
  • Mice and other rodents such as voles, rats: tapeworms, roundworms, lung flukes, and toxoplasmosis
  • Earthworms- roundworms
  • Cockroaches- roundworms
  • Snails and slugs- lungworms
  • Crayfish- lung flukes
  • Ticks- Bob cat fever (Cytauxzoon felis), Ehrlichia, Lyme disease
  • Dirt and potting soil- roundworms, hookworms
  • Outdoor water- Giardia
  • Bats- rabies

I figure I am not going to worry about those things because my mom does the worrying for me and keeps me protected with the monthly parasite preventative and my yearly vaccines. Bugs of the world be very afraid- Cleo the bug hunter is on the prowl!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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Poop Kentucky Derby

Mar 24, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Personal Opinion

Ever wonder why your cat sprints out of the litter box after voiding or even around the house out of the blue?

Cats have different types of behaviors, but certainly play behaviors are one of the most interesting.  Different play behaviors will begin as early as 2 weeks of age. Chasing type behaviors manifest around 5 weeks of age and serve to improve hunting skills, social interactions with other cats and general exercise.

Most owners have seen their cats sprint around the house as if they are chasing or being chased by another cat with their pupils dilated and perhaps even pausing to yowl or chortle.

This type of behavior is termed “hallucinatory” behavior and often occurs immediately after your cat urinates or defecates.  There are different theories as to why the behavior occurs upon exiting the box, including a feeling of well being and increased energy after evacuation, a sense of empowerment after creating their characteristic scent, or a reminder of natural instincts requiring leaving the scene and scent behind quickly to prevent being preyed upon.

However, sometimes the behavior can be associated with dislike of the box size or location, dislike of the type of litter, fear of attack by other cats in the household, pain associated with urination or defecation or sometimes fecal matter adhering to the hair after defecation.

If your cat spends at least 15-20 seconds scratching or burying in the box, chances are they are happy with their litter.  Cats that have pain on urination or defecation will often times vocalize in a distressed manner and may urinate or defecate outside the box as well.   Occasionally small drops of blood may even be seen. Inappropriate elimination, (urinating or defecating in locations other than the box), will also tend to occur if the box is not clean enough, or if there is fear of another cat in the household. Long haired or overweight cats that have trouble removing fecal matter during or after defecation may rush out of the box and then stop suddenly and begin grooming the perineal area or scooting to remove the fecal matter.

Regular veterinary exams and laboratory evaluations can help rule out pain secondary to arthritis, gastrointestinal problems such as parasites or inflammatory bowel diseases, urinary disorders and even behavior problems within the household.

Keeping your cat healthy and fit will improve activity and provide years of fun for the whole family watching these fast and furious felines as they “run for the roses”.

Dr Cindy McManis

Dr. Cynthia McManis received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from Texas A&M University in 1985. She developed her interest in cats during her first year post-graduation. She began to actively pursue more education and information regarding feline health care and joined the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1989. When the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners approved feline practice as a specialty board in 1995, she was in the first class to sit for the exam. She is 1 of 90 board certified feline practitioners in the country at this time. Dr. McManis founded Just Cats Veterinary Services in 1994.

Outside of her clinic cases, she is a feline internal medicine consultant for Veterinary Information Network, a web based resource for veterinarians all over the world. She has also served on several committees within the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). She established an ABVP residency site at Just Cats in 2008 and mentors new graduates as well as seasoned practitioners who are interested in achieving ABVP certification.

Dr. McManis is an avid triathlete and is constantly training for races. She completed her first Iron Man in May of 2012. She is owned by 2 home kitties- Amante (“Monty”) and La Mariquita (“Mari”), and 2 hospital kitties- Momma Kitty and O’Malley.

Just Cats Veterinary Services
1015 Evergreen Circle
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: (281) 367-2287
Email: vets@justcatsvets.com

Website: http://www.justcatsvets.com/
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Cat Toys – How Curiosity Kills the Roll

Nov 28, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

My cat Bo has an irritating behavior that I have learned to live with. When he can, he will unravel all the toilet paper on the dispenser and spread it all over the floor of the bathroom. He does it because it is fun and each time he grabs the roll more paper unravels which is reward enough to keep doing it. He never tires of the trick.

Toys for cats should be like that, interesting and rewarding. Playing with your cat is not only a pleasure for you but an important part of life for your cat. Some people complain that their cat will walk away after playing for only a few minutes. Play is a mimic for the hunting behavior that is part of all cats’ normal repertoire. Each hunt is brief and intense, so play periods should be the same. He is not losing interest, just taking a break. Many short play periods through the day are just what they need to spend big bursts of energy. Playing for a little while and often is perfect.

Cats are naturally curious. Anything that looks different, moves rapidly or sounds intriguing are worthy of investigation. A variety of toys that move or sound like mice or birds can keep their attention. Many toys are free and quite satisfying for a cat. A paper bag on the floor can be just the thing to climb into and investigate.

Play is essential, almost as much as eating and drinking. Stimulating toys available in safe places in the house are key.  A scratching post with toys attached, a cat tree high enough to play safely away from unfamiliar animals or people, and interactive play with people make a great difference in quality of life for cats indoors.

Our domesticated cats are closer to their original ancestors from 10,000 years ago than any other domesticated animal. That means they are the same wild cats just in a dramatically different  environment, our homes. So providing them the opportunity to act out their normal feline behavior in ways that are safe and acceptable to us is a critical part of life and mean that our cats will have wonderful, emotionally satisfying lives.

Dr Elizabeth Colleran

Diplomate ABVP Specialty in Feline Practice

Dr Colleran attained both her Masters (in Animals and Public Policy) and Doctorate from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Chico Hospital for Cats in 1998 and the Cat Hospital of Portland in 2003. In 2011, she became President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Dr Colleran is a member with: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitionesr.

Chico Hospital for Cats
548 W East Ave,
Chico, CA

Phone: 530-892-2287‎

Website: http://chicocats.com/
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Cat Hospital of Portland
8065 SE 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-235-7005
Fax: 503-234-0042

Website: http://portlandcats.net/
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