If you are contemplating having a cat, or are a relatively new owner, there is a section just for you with Basic Cat Products. Click on it on the right hand side.
For ‘advanced users’, here’s a few quick considerations on some of the latest gadgets and gizmos:
Cat Collars – new snap opens designs
Although still a everyday product in pet supply stores, cat care organisations (1) advise traditional collars can be dangerous. Collars featuring elastic straps can stretch and move to under the cat’s ‘armpit’ or around the jaw, causing injury. New safety release designs are available – plastic ‘snap open’ fastenings that do just that if the collar becomes caught on anything. Bells and tags on collars are also not a great idea – they can become caught on objects, or the cat can get its claws stuck in them. You can now buy collars that have your contact details printed into the collar, and any instructions (e.g. “Special Diet Do Not Feed”, etc). All collars must be free of sharp edges, anything sharp that could becomes dislodged, with good quality stitching.
Synthetic Feline Pheromones
We have to admit it, initially, sounds like a load of old marketing – pheromones bring to mind dodgy ‘perfumes’ designed to turn us all into ‘love gods’ & ‘goddesses’.- but your local vet may indeed recommend one of these products!
Synthetic Feline Pheromone diffusers: these look more like a ‘plug in’ style air freshener. The diffused liquid should be odourless & undetectable to all except Monsieur or Madame Moggie. It’s designed to mimic naturally occurring facial pheromones, the chemical ‘scents’ cats use to denote their territory with. The idea is to help your kitty relax in now very familiar-feeling surroundings. Cats, believe it or not, can suffer from stress in some situations – in a multi-cat household, when travelling in a carrier box, when moving into a new home or even if you’re moving furniture around redecorating (basic motto: familiar is good, unfamiliar not so good).
Synthetic Feline Pheromone sprays: again, not so much ‘Eau De Tom Cat’ as ‘Oh ok, my house is cool now’. Can be used to spray furniture aiming to deter urine marking, scratching; to make travelling more comfortable and to ‘anoint’ the floor of a cattery or friend’s house that kitty will be staying in while you are on holidays.
[We personally rate these products, as our cat clearly becomes more relaxed when the diffuser device is plugged in. When we first tried it, the effect was fairly comical. Within 3 days, as our cat went from “Oh my gosh, new house, quick, hide under the sofa” to lying helpfully in the bedroom doorway, stretched out as though on a beach in a nice Hawaiian shirt and aviator shades].
Synthetic Feline Pheromone collars – claim to help keep cats calm but check out the collar overall design carefully – the good news is, we have seen these for sale online with saftey release designs. Some brands also claim to have been clinically proven to calm behaviour, like the sprays and diffusers.
The Feline Advisory Bureau advises brushing longhaired cats daily and shorthaireds once a week. For longhaired cats, its vital to avoid tangled fur become too matted – as this means a trip to the vet to have the fur removed. It may also help ‘shedding’, where you’ll find your home covered in long hairs as the cat sheds old hair! We also suggest upgrading to a powerful vacuum for your home to maintain good hygiene and from experience of being temporarily knee deep in cat hair when our old vacuum couldn’t cope and our kitty was having none of teh dreaded brushie, not even the nice softie one wiv added treats. (That’s what happens if you don’t get them used to it while they’re young kittys, we’re guessing – brush-o-phobia rears its head in later life ?) Check back soon for a whole section of the progress on that one!
There seems to have been an explosion in cat toys since we were young cat peeps.
- Boingy string toys – feature a ‘wand’ for you to hold, a length of elastic and something for the cat to chase. Get one with soft elastic that won’t snap back and hurt your kitty, and watch out for small bits that kitty could pose a choking risk – cats may destroy their ‘catch’ over time. [We know a happy cat who regularly trashes his toys].
- Catnip toys – (Nepeta cataria) herb contains aromatic oil nepetalactone which cats react to for several minutes – often looking like they’re in cat heaven, rolling blissfully around.
- Not all cats respond, some seem to be genetically predisposed immune to effects
- Some cats may exhibit aggressive behaviour = not a good toy for them (2)
- Cat Valerian toys – pieces of dried root of this herb act as a ‘nervine’ for cats and may help cats to relax. Now marketed often alongside more traditional catnip toys.
- Cat Tunnels – fabric tubes held open by rings, which make excellent places for cats to hide in, ‘hunt’ the boing string toys in, hang out in and, um, roll around in. They come in crinkly, plush, felt, with or without mobiles, with or without a hole to ‘hunt’ through, hidden ‘rustling’ foils…
- Automatic toys
Various battery powered designs: generally featuring moving string and/or something for kitty to catch. Check for saftey, and do not leave unattended – could be popular but not a ‘kitty babysitter’!
Wind-up or battery powered ‘mousies’: again good fun but beware of chewing (never leave unattended) – or anywhere you can trip over, especialy first thing in the morning (from our experience…)
- Cat gyms – usually multi-level and covered in carpet fabric or similar, can feature sisal (rope sometimes used in cat scratching posts). Aim to encourage exercise, play and possibly non-destructive scratching. Literally hundreds of designs out there.
- Laser toys – you hold and move it around to spin a laser light around for kitties to chase. Most products carry warnings to not shine directly in the eyes as this can cause permanent damage. Hmm.
One top tip:
Don’t leave your cat unattended with anything with a string on it in case a playful cat becomes painfully/dangerously tangled up in it while you’re out and can’t rescue them. Cat proof your home to avoid anything similarly dangly. While this may not apply to all cats, probably best to take no chances!
Now in a mind boggling array of designs – cat sofas, cat ‘sleeping bag’ style, triangular foam designs… Keep clean by vacuuming and washing to guard against parasites. One way to thin about it is you would always want a clean bed yourself, his or her cat bed should also always be kept clean.
IMPORTANT: yep, you guessed it – this is the bit where we respectfully advise:
No information here can ever be a substitute for vetinary advice – all animal health and living needs issues should be taken to the vet. We regret we therefore cannot answer any individual queries on cat care.
Posted by Joe De Bloom
1. Feline Advisory Bureau. Cats and Collars. [online] Feline Advisory Bureau.
2. Feline Advisory Bureau. What Is Catnip? [online] Feline Advisory Bureau