No Manners

I bought Pete some diced beef from the supermarket reduced shelf today. When I got it home I portioned it into freezer bags and stuck it in the freezer, and put the container in the bin. The bin was full so I removed the bag sat it on the kitchen floor until I could be bothered taking it out. I didn’t tie the binbag shut, and next thing I know, Pete was sitting in the bag, licking the beef container. Not standing on the floor sticking his head into the bag; he climbed right in.

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LeopetCat Scratching Post Ceiling High Cat Tree Climbing Activity Scratcher Centre Toy Play Cat Furniture

Got the Leopet Cat Tower for Pete in December, for £45, from Amazon. It was a bit of a pain to put together, but I eventually managed. I might have done it more quickly, but Pete tried to help.

It’s not great.

One of the cylinder bits won’t attach because the hole has been drilled badly and the screw won’t screw through. I emailed the retailer and they asked me to send photos so they could sort it out, and I never got round to it. Pete doesn’t really use the one that is on it though (he’s too big and too long) so no matter. The posts don’t fit together very firmly, and to get them to fit properly you have to leave them slightly unscrewed, which makes the whole thing quite wobbly. If you tighten them up, it shortens the length of the posts so they don’t fit properly. The fabric covering isn’t very good quality and it’s coming loose already, after only 4 months of daily use. The sisal for scratching on is pretty tough though, as are the play ropes.

The hammocky baskets seem very flimsy, but they are standing up well to my big heavy boy, and he loves lying in them, especially when they’re bathed in sunlight.

 

The top platforms make great look-out perches, and the house bit is a good hiding spot.

 

Unfortunately the top of the pole doesn’t reach to my ceilings (which aren’t very high) so it’s not very stable, and it wobbles a lot when Pete climbs up and down. He found this very disconcerting at first, and although he’s got used to it, sometimes he still meows and meows because he’s worried about getting down. It’s easy to rotate the platforms on their posts, but they don’t seem to be in the right places for cats to easily get down after getting up; some of the drops are nearly vertical. Pete deals with this by jumping into the hammocks, but I don’t know how long they’ll take that.

My flat is tiny and this tower doesn’t take up too much floor space but gives him a good range of heights to climb and stretch on. He likes it much more than I do – I think the quality is a bit ropey in places, the flat platforms are slightly too small, and the whole thing is too wobbly for a large cat. If you have small, light cats and very low ceilings, this is probably a good buy for as long as the fabric lasts. For owners of bigger, heavier cats, the cats will think it’s better than you do.

Exploration

When Pete first came to live with me, I did hope that he would have fun romping around in the grassed areas and wooded areas at the back of where I live. However, he’s proved to be much more interested in snoozing than in going out to play. Since the vet trip last week, I’ve been trying to encourage him to go out and get more exercise, but he’s quite wary about going too far. So, I’ve been picking him up and carrying him to the Engine Shed car park, which has grass and trees, and to the area at St Leonards Bank which is ideal for cats to play in.

He’s loved it! He scampers and runs and tries to climb trees, and pounces, and sniffs, and jumps onto fences and slinks along them, and generally behaves like a proper cat. It can be an effort getting him to come back home sometimes! We haven’t been out every day, because weather, but most days.

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Fat Cat with a Stinky Bum

Pete and I went to the vet yesterday for his annual checkup and booster jags. I’m pretty skint this month and didn’t want to pay £15-20 for taxis there and back, so we got the bus. Getting him to the bus stop was the most difficult bit because he’s heavy and what is usually a 5 minute walk took nearly 15. He was really good on the bus though, a bit anxious to start with but once he’d realised there was nothing scary happening, he settled down and lay down in his carrier and just looked around quite calmly.

The vet (Edinburgh Cat Clinic) gave him a good checkup and said his heart and lungs are fine and his teeth are in good condition. The main issue is his weight. Although I haven’t increased his food, he’s put on about a pound in the last five months and he’s now 2lb overweight, which is a lot for a cat. He is a big cat, and we think about 6kg would be right for him, but he’s currently just over 7kg. I don’t know what else to do to reduce it – he gets on pouch of wet food in the morning, usually the 100g pouches but I mix in some of the 85g a couple of times a week, and he gets 30g of Thrive dry food which is 90% meat and about 190kCal per 100g. So he’s on a maximum of about 170kCal per day, and all the research I can find says to get him to 6kg he needs to be on about 200 per day! The vet says I’m doing all the right things, putting his dry food around the flat on the windowsills, on his platforms and in his activity feeders, so he has to go and look for it if he wants it, so the only thing I can try now is reducing his intake even further. I’m really worried he’ll eat my face in the night. We are wondering if he’s getting food elsewhere, but he doesn’t go out very often, and although the neighbours have been known to sneak him bits of steak bake (!) and the odd dish of milk, I don’t think they do it regularly. Because he’s so fat, the vet couldn’t examine his abdomen, but he seems healthy and happy so we’re assuming he’s ok.

The other issue is that after he’s used his litter tray, he often has a stinky mess down “the back of his trousers.” (Is it just me who loves cats’ fluffy britches?) So I asked Simon to check his anal glands. Pete did not enjoy having his glands checked and was quite happy to say so, but it didn’t take long. The right one was fine, but the left one has some infection in it, so Simon got it all out, and we’re going back in 4 weeks for another check, and I will keep an eye on it meantime. Simon does think though that some of the mess is because of Pete’s size, making it difficult for him to poo cleanly or wash himself properly afterwards. I think it’s all about his glands, his poo is firm and seems to come out cleanly, and the mess on the back of his legs is greeny and stinky, so I’m sure it’s exudate/secretions. While he was giving the injection, Simon found a lump on Pete’s back, which he thinks is just a lipoma, but we’ll keep an eye on it.

The other thing we did was a nail trim, to blunt his scimitar-like claws and protect my legs a bit. I try to do it at home but I only ever manage one claw, then he wakes up and attacks the clippers.

On the way home, partly because he’s heavy to carry, and partly to give him a bit more exercise, I let him out of his carrier as we got to the police station instead of waiting till we got in the stair, and he trotted along behind me quite happily. He had a bit of a run around in the evening as well, scampering up and down the stairs, and I took him over the road to see if he would romp in the grass, but a seagull swooped on us, and it got very windy, and he really wasn’t keen so we came back in.

He was very sleepy last night and still this morning, and not pestering for food quite as much, which I think is a reaction to the vaccination. He was the same after his first ones last year.

7th of July was the first anniversary of Pete coming to live with me. I’m so glad he picked me.

What to Feed Cats

I’ve just read Your Cat by Elizabeth Hodgkins who is an American vet who specialised in treating cats before she retired, particularly seriously overweight and/or diabetic cats. She’s not advocating raw food, although she says it’s good for cats, but she is advocating wet food.

Her reasoning is that the majority of dry food is made predominantly of carbohydrate, plant sources coated in fat and flavour to make it palatable to cats. But cats’ natural diet is protein and fat from killed animals, with very little plant material or other carbs, and dry food doesn’t replicate it at all. She says that wet food is much more suitable for cats and replicates their natural diet better.

She gives multiple case studies throughout the book of overweight and/or diabetic cats who were fed predominantly on dry food, including “diet” or “light” food. She reports that switching the cats to wet food facilitated much better weight loss and in most cases, got their diabetes under control so well the cats no longer needed insulin, and when they did still need it, their blood sugars were more stable and they needed lower doses.

I’ve lent the book to a friend so I can’t give more detail, but it’s worth a read if you’re interested in cat diets. It’s convinced me to switch Pete from dry breakfasts and wet dinners to two wet meals with a small amount of high protein dry food in his activity feeder.

It’s also worth looking at the calorie and nutritional content of dry food compared to wet. I emailed Iams, Purina, Pets at Home and Go Cat about the calorie content of their food (which isn’t on the packaging) and even the diet stuff is over 300 kcal per 100g, with protein content of under 30% for most of them. On the other hand, Thrive 90% chicken dry food is 186 kcal per 100g and has a protein content of over 80%. The wet foods I’ve investigated – Felix, Kitekat, Iams, Whiskas and Tesco – are all between 70-95 kcal per 100g pouch, with well over 80% protein.

As far as raw food goes, she says that many people worry about food poisoning for cats who eat raw diets, but she points out that cats who would otherwise be killing live prey and eating it, perhaps caching a large kill and eating it over several days, are unlikely to get food poisoning from meat.

The book made sense to me, and I’m comfortable that a wet food diet with a small amount of dry, and raw meat with the bone in once or twice a week is the right thing for Pete. I’ve also scrapped the Dreamies after I saw him gagging on the dryness of one but still desperately trying to eat it, and his treats now are Thrive freeze-dried meat and fish pieces.

The Feather Frenzy With Mouse Attachment

As blogged here, I got Pete a Feather Frenzy toy the other week. We’ve used it on average once a day – sometimes not at all, sometimes two or three or four times a day. He hasn’t got tired of it yet. I tend to go out of the flat into the common stair to play with it with him, because my flat is small and he likes to run around with it. It does a great job at exciting his predator instincts: he stalks, hides, pounces, runs, jumps, and when he catches it, he runs off to his dish to chew it. And thus the feather part has fallen apart – being dragged through the catflap did it no good at all. 😀

So today I replaced the feather attachment with a mouse attachment, and I’m pleased to say he reacts to it in just the same way. He shows no signs of getting bored with it at all, and sometimes he goes out into the stair and waits for me to bring it to him. This is a second floor flat, and when we’re playing it’s easy to get him to run all the way down to the ground floor, back up, up to the top floor, and down again to the first or ground floor stalking and pouncing all the way, and rolling and stretching on the ground when he catches it. I’m delighted to see him getting so much exercise with it, and even better, delighted to see him exercising in a way that encourages him to use his natural instincts and display natural behaviour. It’s a great toy and I’d recommend it to any cat owner.