Feline Holiday Shopping Guide

Still November, still thinking about holiday gifting? Let’s consider what your cat may enjoy receiving this year. Since they are not small dogs, there’s a shift in toy selection. Domestic cat behavior is closer to the behaviors we see in wild cats - hunting, lounging, grooming, scratching. We want to keep them happy and engaged. We want to minimize or redirect their more destructive behaviors. Cats, like dogs, benefit from toys that keep them mentally and physically active. Indoor cats especially benefit from environmental enrichment - it lessens their stress levels, which can lower your risk of having a cat with behavioral issues. Win-win situation!

Hunting

One of a cat’s favorite activities is hunting! Toys that allow cats to track, catch and play with “prey” are key. Toys like Go-Cat Da Bird - feathers on a string attached to a rod, or a strip of fleece attached to a rod, etc - fosters their tracking and catching prey. Successful hunting provides satisfaction (think endorphins). It’s also a way to spend time with your cat. Some toys like the Petstages Tower of Tracks and robotic mice simulate hunting without requiring your participation. Catnip mice allow them to catch and play with their “prey”. Catnip or grass can be grown indoors for your cat to enjoy. The attraction to catnip is genetic, so about 50% of cats will have absolutely no interest in it. There are food puzzles for cats to provide mental stimulation and foster their hunting instinct. These may also be a good idea for cats that binge eat or are overweight.

Lounging

Another thing near and dear to cats is resting in elevated places. We have all seen a photo of a wild cat laying up in a tree - try googling ‘big cat laying in tree images” and it will become clear why your cat is up on your dresser/refrigerator/table. I came home once to find my first cat perched on top of my bedroom door! Big cats will be up in a tree surveying their territory - alert to the possibility of prey, resting and sleeping. Cats sleep a lot, conserving energy for the hunt. So instead of your counters or table, why not invest in some wall perches or hammocks to create some vertical space for your cats? Window perches allow your cat to survey the great outdoors, look for prey and bask in the sunshine. Catastrophic Creations makes perches, mazes and hammocks. Handimania has DIY kitty lofts for those of you who need a fun project!

Cats also enjoy hiding. How many times has an Amazon box become a hideaway for your cat? So this holiday, consider upscaling from empty boxes and paper grocery bags to fun things like cat teepees, tunnels and covered or enclosed beds. Easyology Cat Tunnel provides interactive mental stimulation and a hide away.

Grooming

Petories Double Arched Cat Groomer and Catit Design Senses Massage Center provide some level of massage/grooming as well. Cats spend a lot of awake time grooming - so if you don’t get the aforementioned cat groomer, consider a brush or grooming glove to use when it’s just you and your cat.

Scratching

Cat towers provide opportunities for climbing, perching, hiding as well as play-in models that sport dangling toys. They also provide vertical and horizontal scratching surfaces using sisal, carpet and/or cardboard surfaces. Scratching is a totally normal and daily behavior for most cats so it is important to give them something to work on other than your furniture! Scratching posts and corrugated board scratchers are great and there are a million of them to choose from. Feliway has a new product, FeliScratch, to use on appropriate scratching surfaces to help attract your cat. You can usually train your cat to use these preferentially.

Nature

If you want to enjoy the great outdoors with your cat you may consider pet backpacks or strollers to safely take your cat out. Some cats will accept being walked on a leash - it’s best to use a well-fitted harness here as most cat collars are breakaway ones. Beware of dogs - they may not like your cat and/or your cat may not want to mingle with dogs.

Hope these ideas help make your holiday purrfect! >^.^<

Canine Holiday Shopping Guide

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It’s November already!? There is a busy season ahead, and I bet you are wondering, “What gift to get my pet for the holidays?” Did you know, last year Americans spent nearly as much on toys, apparel, and over-the-counter products for their pets as they did on veterinary care? Food is in a category all its own and twice again as much. If this market research describes you, let us help you spend those dollars wisely. (These are not products we sell but are readily available at local/national pet stores and online.)

Accessories For Activity

Let’s consider what dogs might like first, besides food, dog parks and such. A cute outfit may come to mind, but does it spark joy for them or for us? A spiffy new collar or harness and leash ensemble can be exciting - it can lead to more outings - more walks, and what dog doesn’t love sniffing out new terrain? And we get to show off our perfect pet and our fashion sense.

Dogs benefit from toys that keep their minds or bodies active. So if your dog loves a tennis ball, frisbee, Chuck it Ball Launcher or squeaky toy - why not get a new one? For those times you can’t get outdoors to walk or play with your dog there are a lot of toys out there designed to keep your dog occupied mentally and/or physically. Automatic ball launchers allow activity without your involvement. Dog TV may provide interest to your dog’s day.

In people and pets, keeping the brain active helps delay the onset of dementia. Toys can also help keep your dog mentally engaged, less bored, and therefore less anxious or destructive while you’re busy working to afford the lifestyle to which your dog has become accustomed!

Food dispensing toys can keep your dog more physically active as well as engage them mentally. Sniffing for food releases dopamine in dogs which makes them feel more relaxed and happier. Many of the toys also help promote dental health, and we know how important that is to overall health (if you don’t, we will cover that in the near future). There are several different Kong toys which vary in difficulty that dispense kibble or treats. The Kong Wobbler is a favorite with many trainers. There are several Nina Ottosson dog puzzles which your dog must figure out what to uncover or slide to obtain a treat. Her Dog Tornado interactive toy is more difficult. The Kong Stuff-a-Ball and the Trixie Dog Activity Chess have multiple levels of difficulty. The Kong one also helps clean teeth.  It is important to start with easier puzzles so your dog gets rewarded and is not frustrated or loses interest if the game is too challenging. These feeding toys can benefit all dogs, including those who eat too fast, become bored or anxious easily, or spend a lot of time alone as they take time and energy to solve and provide mental stimulation.

There are toys that make noises or light up, etc. which can be fun for your dog as well. Choose carefully (annoyance factor) or put these toys away so you can sleep at night.

Your dog really loves spending quality time with you most of all, so why not sign up for a class together? Obedience, agility, frisbee, dock diving come to mind. There are even camps for owners and pets to do daily activities together like yoga, hiking, ballroom dancing!  If this is too much, consider using that new leash set and getting a group dog walk going in your neighborhood. These gifts allow you to make memories together, get out to meet other pets and their owners, gets you off the couch and out the door… possibly lowering your blood pressure, stress levels and releasing some endorphins. Perhaps these ideas for gifts aren’t just for the dogs!

Whatever you choose, by all means, enjoy the season… with your dog!

Happy holidays.

Pet Hurricane Preparedness

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The looming threat of Hurricane Florence is a great early reminder that hurricane season is fully upon us. There is plenty we could and should do to ready our homes and families, pets being a part of that equation. Both Hurricanes Matthew and Irma sparked widespread evacuations throughout the Lowcounty in 2016 and 2017. In the days prior, our practice was overwhelmed with urgent last minute calls to update vaccines, fill anxiety medication, and send records for travel and boarding.

This year, take "Vet Visit" off your frenzied to do list prior to evacuation and check your wellness due dates now. You can review your pet's exam and vaccine status anytime by logging into your Pet Portal. A copy can be printed by clicking your pet’s photo, then vaccine certificate. Contact our office for copies to be emailed/faxed directly to your boarding facility.

Vaccine Requirements for Boarding

When hurricanes are threatening our coast, boarding facilities within a 300 mile radius fill to capacity quickly. Vaccines and other wellness requirements vary from one to the next, including:

Dogs - Rabies Vaccine, DHPP aka DAP Vaccine, and Bordetella Vaccine
(additional requirements could include an Influenza Vaccine, Fecal Parasite Screen, and/or Heartworm Test)

Cats - Rabies Vaccine, FVRCP aka HCP Vaccine
(additional requirements could include a Feline Leukemia Vaccine and/or Fecal Parasite Screen)

Medication for Storm and Travel Anxiety

Over-the-counter and prescription drugs are available to help pets cope with the stressors of thunderstorms and lengthy car rides. These medications have varying effects on pets and finding the right drug and dosage sometimes requires a few attempts. If anxiety medication is something you feel your pet may need but has never taken before, we recommend contacting our office well in advance to allow for home trials.

As with administering vaccinations, dispensing/prescribing prescription medications requires a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) which is defined as having an exam with one of our doctors within the past 12 months. If you have fallen behind on wellness visits for any of your pets, now is the time to catch up!

Additional Evacuation/Shelter-in-Place Considerations

While we hope storms blow over with minimal damage and evacuations are lifted quickly, best practice is to prepare for extended time away from home and without local services. For pets this includes:

  • Sufficient supply of food, water, litter, and chronic medications

  • Easy access to crates, leashes, litter pans, and collars with ID tags

  • Registered microchip with current contact information

  • Copy of pertinent veterinary records

A more inclusive list of disaster preparedness guidelines can be found on the ASPCA website: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

We aim to be a valuable resource for your family's pet-related needs. Please do not hesitate to let us know how we can best serve you.