I’ve had cats forever. In fact, I don’t even remember a time when I didn’t have a cat!
You’d think I’d be some cat expert by now. As it turns out, not even close. I am always AMAZED at the amount of new info I pick up when talking to a vet or reading a cat-themed entry in a magazine.
Since I am never beyond learning, when I recently took my cats for their yearly check-up, I brought a long a list of questions I had as well.
Dr. Ray runs Ellwood Animal Hospital in Abbotsford, BC, so locals in BC, Canada, this is a place I indeed highly recommend. I’ve taken my pets there for years. BTW, this is not a sponsored post.
And I was surprised to hear so many answers I actually didn’t expect!
The biggest surprise being how to get a cat into a cat carrier, since I couldn’t get one of my cats in to the vet that day!
Once I got home, I was nearly bursting at the seams to share all the new stuff I learned.
Ready to get cat educated on indoor food tips, what dandruff may really mean, what to do with them while vacationing, encouraging higher water intake, and a bunch more tips I learned by fluke on my own?
Here you go!
This post contains Amazon (affiliate) links so you can find the same stuff I love.
How to get a cat in the carrier
One of my cats defeated me this past vet round. I could not entice her in that carrier no matter what. Luckily, she crouched low to the floor in the back of the truck all the way there. But not ideal at all.
The other cat, no issue. I put some treats inside the carrier and he walked right in.
So as I carried separate cat and carrier into the vet office, the first thing I asked was how to entice her in so she was safe. And I was pretty surprised at the answer.
“Have I ever told you about the ‘loaf of bread’ maneuver?”
“No! Do tell….”
Ray picked up Skye, then turned her backwards, tucking her paws into his arms until she resembled a loaf of bread, then simply slipped her into the carrier backwards with no issues.
The trick was to go backwards! Duh duh duh!
He said, “Think about it. What’s the first thing a cat will do when afraid? They crouch backwards. Forward will never work.”
My cat WILL be safely in the carrier next round!
How to get them to comply to matting / brushing
My two cats are polar opposites. Male / female. Short hair / long hair. Skittish / cuddly. I love that they are so different!
However there is one thing that is a little trying to deal with, and that’s Skye’s gorgeous long fur coat. Every summer, it doesn’t seem to matter how much I attempt to brush her, she always ends up with matts.
One way I work them out that doesn’t frighten her is to hold her while I massage a matt, then gently pull it apart. Great TV watching activity… 🙂
However, I always look forward to a summer vet visit because they have a special shaver that does the job quick!
As I marvelled at how perfect she just sat there while Ray did a few little matt removals, I asked him how he got so lucky.
“If I tried this in my own living room with my own cat, it wouldn’t work. Notice how ‘frozen’ she is? It’s because of her new surroundings. So if you wish to attempt to administer something that you can’t normally, take them into a new room or even your vehicle. They will become ‘frozen’ too.”
This ‘frozen tip’ would work with many other things as well, such as medication intake, etc. Bring them into your vehicle and you will have a different cat.
Our fav brushes – ConarPro Cat for long hair, Lil’ Pals brush for short hair
Why a lion-shave is good for summer
Ray also mentioned something I would NEVER have done in a million years.
“Do you ever get Skye lion shaved during summer? They just LOVE that!”
One of my past cats had a health issue, and she came home with a very rough vet lion shave for medical reasons. But I had never ever thought to intentionally do that at a groomer!
Apparently cat breeds have been manipulated over the centuries to create this gorgeous down-like long hair that doesn’t even make them outdoor worthy in nature. So these types of cats do best indoors, and love a good shave when the weather is hot.
“You will find her sprawled all over the floor with this shave. It really helps keep them cool.”
I do believe my long haired kitty is overdue for a big cat spa treat next summer!
Why two is best
I’ve had one cat before. Then I grew it to two. Once upon a time I even had up to three.
However this last round with cats, I knew it was two or none. I desired to travel and wanted them to have a companion when I did. So I came home with a brother and sister.
Turns out that was the BEST move.
“By the way, never get a third cat. One will always be left out. Two is always best. They do desire companions so two greatly helps.”
Something I actually did right this round without even knowing it!
What to feed indoor cats
Being that my ‘fat cats’ are indoors only, yes, they gain a little weight. I’ve attempted a low fat quality food or two in the past, but they hated it so I always went back to the regular.
I also don’t like the idea of rationing food at a certain time. I live on my own and if anything happened to me, I don’t want them to starve! Yes, that’s how I think.
So… what to do?
Ray says, “The best way is to transition to a lower fat food is giving each cat 3/4 cup a day.”
“However, since your cats are use to free eating, I would suggest to still leave it out, but mix the low fat with their regular. That way they still enjoy their food, but will also fill up on something more suitable for indoor-only cats.
Their fav cat food – Go Daily Defence.
However we will be adding a low fat food to the mix.
How to entice water intake
Cats and water are a critical mix.
If they don’t get enough, a leading health issue is kidney failure. I went through this with one cat and I hope to never have to watch a cat live through that again. It’s generally fixable through meds for awhile, but not always long term.
Knowing how important water intake is, especially males, I pull out all the tricks to entice lots of water intake.
Running water fountain
Some ways I’ve encouraged great water intake is to have a running cat water fountain so it appears ‘fresh’ to them all the time.
When I travel though, I turn the fountain off in case the power goes out and open up the lid and have a secondary standing bowl somewhere else too.
It’s for this reason that I suggest trying a fountain where the fountain pours water into sitting open access water. Some fountains require electricity to share ANY water and although they work, it’s risky if they stop.
When I get crushed ice out of my fridge, I discovered my cats dashed for the floor underneath to catch a few stray cubes. I now place some crushed or cubed ice in a flat saucer with a little water, so they get their ice fix as well. The crackling sound of the cubes in water appears to entice them to drink!
Always leave the toilet seat up!
Every so often I see one of my cats jump up to snoop out a toilet bowl right after flushing. I knew it was the fresh water thing, so I just leave them up, especially when I travel.
Ray actually heavily endorsed leaving the toilet seats up, because water intake is just that important. As long as it’s clean of course…
Favourite cat toys
My cats love cat toys, especially while I pet or play with them. They love grabbing one, flopping down then waiting for a good back rub. Nice life, huh?
So when I’m at the local hardware store, I love picking up a locally handmade new catnip stuffed pillow now and then. They go a little nutso over the newer ones because the catnip is fresher.
They also ADORE crinkly balls that I toss down the stairs (crunch crunch crunch on every step!)
But their ultimate fav is the flittering Da Bird cat toy, which is a special bundled feather tip that hooks onto a fishing pole of sorts, that sounds like a real bird flying around when you wave it in the air. It’s pretty wild!
Why they must scratch and on what
I was joking with Ray about one of my cats scratching my ‘good’ sawhorse living room furniture side table. I tease that she is helping me distress the piece. It just makes me laugh.
Which is a blessing I didn’t even realize.
“Cats HAVE to scratch. If you stop them from scratching everything, all kinds of behaviour issues come into play like depression and anxiety. They have to scratch, so if you can live with sawdust on your floor every day around that sawhorse, do it!”
Consider it done.
They have also shredded a cat condo and one cat adores a slip covered chair I’ve yet to address.
They also love these flat laying cardboard things. I place one flat in a basket so it becomes a little adventure for them to jump into which also helps to hide the shreddings as well.
Their fav scratcher… a cardboard Double Cat Scratcher (similar to THIS) by Kong Naturals. I love that it’s 2-sided to get more out of it. And the cats can’t stay off of it!
Why they choose height
As you’ve probably noticed, cats love height. It’s a predator instinct. They can simply scope out their surroundings and safety from a higher vantage point.
Cats also love heat, so they may be jumping high on things to stay warmer, as heat rises.
For this reason, I have one of ‘those’ cat condos. They aren’t gorgeous to look at, however the cats do live on ours.
We place ours in front of our large picture window so they can watch the birds in the trees pretty much head on. Our fav cat condo was made locally with a rounded top and stacking platforms so they both have the ability to sit high but on a level by themselves.
However I also have a cat that has named an empty crate on a wall shelf as one of his beds. It’s near the ceiling, so it’s pretty much ultimate Cat Heaven! But they use the condo the most.
I suggest to visit Cat Condos at THIS LINK. There are some pretty hilarious options!
Why a spotless litter box matters
It never fails. Whenever I clean the litter box and top it up with fresh litter, a cat will jump in right away!
Which is actually a really GOOD thing.
Cats tend to ‘hold it’ if their litter boxes are not clean, which is one of the biggest cause for kidney disease. They must drink lots of water, and they must use the box regularly, especially male cats.
For this reason, I’m a little fanatical about a spotless box. I use to store it in the basement when I had another cat, however sometimes I forgot to clean it every day. Now I have it in a place that I have to walk past several times a day. Much better!
I do find adding a little fresh (unscented) litter upon every clean a huge enticement though. They love new litter the best!
It’s also best to have a litter box per each cat even if they do share. This just ensures that if one cat uses one, there’s still another that is spotless.
Our fav litter boxes are shallow and open topped, using clumping litter.
Why shallow cat dishes are best
When my cats eat dry food, they tend to take a mouthful, then drop it on the floor and eat from there instead.
I never knew why… until I happened upon a cat magazine article that better explained…
It’s because the eating surface is flat. Cats don’t like to push their whiskers inside a slim bowl, so they are not enticed to eat if they have to dig deep for it.
This is why cat dishes or bowls are made so shallow. Some bowls are labeled as ‘whisker-fatigue free!”
A friend of mine verified this one. She couldn’t figure out why her cats only ate from their dry food when she piled it up pyramid style.
And now you know.
Our fav kitty bowl – a flat enamel dish found at the flea market or a plain flat saucer.
Or the floor. Heh.
What dandruff may really mean
I’ve noticed my ‘fat cat’ always had dandruff on his back and hind end. I thought it was the time of year or perhaps the food didn’t have enough moisture.
Turns out it’s a grooming issue! Once a cat reaches a certain weight, they can’t groom themselves in that area!
Oh dear. Is there a kitty treadmill anywhere?
I asked if I wiped his back down with a wet cloth on occasion, would that be good? I pretty much got a vet standing ovation.
What to do while on vacation
So, since I knew I was going to travel, I got the two cats. Turns out that was a VERY good move. Cats need a buddy, otherwise they can become depressed.
However, it’s still equally important to provide cats with what they are use to. Apparently upholding their routine is key.
TV watcher in the PM? Turn a TV or music on with a timer so it isn’t so silent all the time. I never thought of this!
I also have a pet sitter visit for at least one hour a day (Netflix highly encouraged!) for their needed human stimulation. It staves off depression and kills the quiet atmosphere for a spell.
I hope this post provided you with a few good tidbits you didn’t know about! Which tip surprised you the most? Do you have any other good ones to share as well?
Love cats too?
Make sure you visit When Cats Photobomb… it’s a post loaded with crazy cat lady goodness!
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