Canning Raw Pet Food – Why Do It?

There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.
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OK, I can hear you raw feeders out there all the way over here. Why on earth would I want to can my raw food, you are asking. There are actually a few reasons why canning raw pet food is not a bad idea. I’m not suggesting you can all the raw food you make, but to have some canned on hand for emergencies is actually a good idea.

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.Last September, when the Butte fire broke out, I was just getting ready to make a batch of raw when the power went out. We got our generators set up and I was going to make it the next day but, before I could, we were evacuated. I’m bad about waiting until the last minute to make the next batch and I had NONE in the freezer.

I had the cats’ things all ready to go except for food! I couldn’t even buy more at our local store because their power was out too and they were closed. In all the chaos, I didn’t think about stopping to buy some when we were down the hill evacuating the horses. Thankfully, (I think the cats were more thankful than I was) I had a big bag of treats and that’s what they had for dinner that night and breakfast the next morning.

That second day, I was able to go down the hill to the pet store in Jackson to buy food. Oh my gosh. I read and agonized over labels for what seemed like hours. I started feeding raw because Christy has chronic diarrhea on canned commercial cat food and I hadn’t really looked at labels in years. I am still looking for a commercial food she can eat for times like this but it hasn’t happened yet.

My friend Kelly’s relatives were kind enough to offer us a place to stay while we were evacuated but they had dogs and there was not a good place for the cats. I have an SUV and decided the best place for them was in the car. I really didn’t want Christy to have an issue with diarrhea in my car so it was especially difficult to decide what to feed them.

As much as I am against feeding dry food to cats, I decided she would be less likely to get diarrhea from it and I hoped it would only be for a short time. So, I settled on what seemed to be a high-quality dry food and that is what they ate for the next few days. If I had a supply of canned raw food on hand, it would have been easy to grab and put in their go boxes and I would have been much less stressed.

Recently, I went to a pet blogging conference and took Christy with me. I knew taking frozen raw food on the trip would be very impractical so I decided to try canning some of her food to take along. I made it a couple of weeks ahead of time to have time to try it out on her. I wanted to be sure she would eat it and she loved it!

Benefits of Canning Raw Pet Food

  • You know exactly what is in it
  • It is the same food your pets are used to eating
  • It’s convenient to have on hand
  • It is safe for human consumption in a pinch

Canning Raw Pet Food - Should you do it? There are a few good reasons why canning raw pet food is something you might want to consider. Read about the benefits of canning raw food.If you want to try this, check out my instructions for canning raw pet food coming next week.


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Pet Peeve: Pet Does Not Mean Dog

Pet Peeve: Pet Does Not Mean Dog
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Do you have pet peeves? I don’t really have anything I would call a pet peeve because if something bothers me, I try to ignore it and move on. No point in wasting energy on something I probably can’t change. However, lately, one thing is becoming a “pet” peeve for me and that thing is the way people use the word pet when they really mean dog.

Pet Peeve: Pet Does Not Mean DogDon’t get me wrong. I love dogs. I have had many over the years and am a sucker for every dog or puppy I meet. I just don’t currently have one. For me, cats fit my current lifestyle better and that’s what brings me to my pet peeve.

I recently attended the BlogPaws pet blogging conference in Chandler, AZ. I wanted to take my cat, Christy Paws (who is the star of her own blog) with me. I wanted to take her last year when the conference was in Nashville but it just didn’t work out. This year, a photo on her blog was nominated for a Nose-to-Nose Award so I thought it would be especially fun to have her there.

I decided to drive for a couple of reasons, but the main one was that I wanted to stop in Orange County to take care of some business and visit some friends. I decided to stay there two nights in each direction.

What Does Pet Friendly Mean?

I started looking for a pet friendly hotel through gopetfriendly.com. Sounds easy, right? Well, it should be. Their website is packed full of info with a great listing of hotels.

I started calling hotels in the area where I wanted to stay. Go Pet Friendly says pet policies change so to confirm with each hotel.

That’s when the fun began and this pet peeve began taking shape. One after one, even though they claimed to be “pet” friendly, said they do not accept cats. In fact, the only “pets” they accept are dogs. Then why don’t you say you are dog friendly and save those of us with other pets some phone calls? One even went so far as to say they only accept service dogs. Um, excuse me, that’s the law, that’s not even dog friendly.

Have you seen the Trivago ad about the pet friendly hotel and the rabbit convention? That really hit home for me that there are other traveling pets out there.

Pet Peeve: Just what does pet friendly mean?After a few frustrating phone calls to hotels, I contacted a friend who often travels with her cat, and asked her for a recommendation. I called both Red Roof Inn and La Quinta Inns and Suites. I wasn’t happy with the customer service from Red Roof Inn’s general manager so decided on La Quinta Inns and Suites in Santa Ana. They were over the top friendly, helpful and welcoming to all pets.

My Pet Peeve

This trend of pet means dog isn’t limited to pet friendly hotels. I’ve seen pet photo contests that were just for dogs, pet food that is dog food, and pet product suppliers that only have things for dogs.

So, my pet peeve is this: When did pet become synonymous for dog? If you look up synonyms for dog, pet is not one of them. A pet is any domestic or tamed animal or bird that is kept for companionship or pleasure — not just dogs. Using pet when you mean dog can be frustrating and confusing to pet parents of pets other than dogs. It’s OK to say dog when you mean dog.

If you own cats or other pets, have you experienced this? Am I the only one who has noticed or is frustrated by it?


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Is Lavender Toxic to Cats?

I wanted to know, is lavender toxic to cats? If it is classed as toxic to cats, what exactly does that mean? Is lavender safe to use around my cats?
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I love lavender. I love the flowers, the scent, the color. I love everything about lavender, so imagine my delight when I recently won a gift bag full of lavender scented items. There was a lovely reed diffuser, body wash, moisturizer, even some laundry detergent.

Then someone said, “I hope you don’t have cats!” Oh, but I do. I have three cats. Then I had a little flicker in the back of my mind that reminded me I heard recently lavender is toxic to cats. So I put all those treasures away and didn’t think much more about them.

Then I also remembered that I have been using lavender scented air fresheners around my cats for years. What harm might I have done?

Is lavender toxic to cats? flowers, lavender and titleIs Lavender Toxic to Cats?

The end of June, I went to the BlogPaws pet blogging conference in Chandler, Arizona. BlogPaws and the Cat Writers’ Association joined forces this year to make the conference doubly awesome. We received swag bags loaded with lots of terrific items provided by the sponsors and vendors.

Over the weekend, I finally had some time to thoroughly go through the bags to see what was in them. I needed to decide what Christy Paws would give away on her blog for her birthday/gotcha day celebration.

One of the items included was a calming collar from Sentry. And there, right on the top, it said lavender and chamomile fragrance. Sentry is part of Sergeant’s Pet Care Products and I know Sergeant’s has had issues with their flea medications so immediately a red flag went up. I knew I had to do some research on lavender. I wanted to know, is lavender toxic to cats and if so, what exactly does that mean?

What Exactly Does Toxic Mean?

As with many things on the internet, you’ll find many opinions. I wasn’t interested in opinions. I wanted some facts. Even the ASPCA lists lavender as toxic to cats so there must be some merit to the claim. (When I look at the list of plants toxic to cats, I wonder how they ever survived!) So, the first thing I wanted to know is, what exactly does toxic mean?

Webster’s Dictionary defines toxic as “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.” Is this really true of lavender? Could it kill my cat? Some seem to say yes, don’t let it anywhere near your cat. It will destroy it’s liver. On the other end of the spectrum, an article in Catster says it is safe for your cats to eat.

Does a Plant Have to be Deadly to be Classified as Toxic?

This is where the confusion and varying opinions come in to play. The answer is a resounding NO! Plants don’t have to be deadly to be classified as toxic. Toxic can mean anything from a little will kill to a whole lot will cause an upset stomach. A “toxic plant” list tells you nothing about how much is dangerous.

Lavender falls into the “a whole lot will cause an upset stomach” category. Ingesting the plant or flowers may cause a mild GI upset with nausea and vomiting, according to the ASPCA. Moderation is the key and I think most cats are good at the moderation part on their own.

Can I use

What About Lavender Lotions and Diffusers?

But back to my goodies. I wasn’t planning on feeding lavender to my cats. I don’t even have a lavender plant. I want to use my room deodorizers and reed diffuser. I want to wear the lavender scented lotion. What about those? And what about that calming collar?

Dr. Melissa Shelton, who has pioneered the use of essential oils to treat animals, has used lavender (and other oils) in diffusers for years. When she first started, she watched her kitties closely and did lots of blood work to make sure they were healthy. She continued to monitor them to make sure no abnormalities were developing. Based on this and her observation of her cats’ behavior, she went on to explore further the use of essential oils for cats.

diffuserI feel pretty comfortable that my reed diffuser is fine to use around my cats. Of course, I have made sure they can’t get to it where they might ingest the oil and they can leave the room to get away from it.

If my cats don’t like the way something I have used smells, they let me know by moving away from me or it. It is unlikely that any hand or body lotion would contain enough lavender to create any kind of a problem but, to be safe, some recommend you wait until it is completely absorbed before touching your cat. I do that with any lotion anyway.

And as for that calming collar, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. Sentry says their collar uses “a pheromone that mimics the one mother cats produce to calm their kittens, the collars are clinically proven to reduce or eliminate stress-related behavior such as inappropriate marking, destructive behavior, clawing and anti-social behavior. Collars help alleviate problem behaviors triggered by travel, thunderstorms, fireworks and new social situations.”

The collar ingredients state pheromones (squalene) 6% and inert ingredients of 94%. There’s no mention of the lavender or chamomile so I called the company. They should be getting back to me in a day or two and I will update this post.

Once I hear from them, I might give the collar a try the next time I take Christy in the car. She doesn’t hate the car anymore but she sure doesn’t love it! If the collar could help her be more comfortable, that would be a good thing.

Please note that this post is about LAVENDER. There are other herbs, plants and oils that are detrimental and even deadly to cats. But remember, when you read that something is toxic, you really need more information than that.

Lavender bunch and oil

Why the Concern Over Essential Oils?

Treating cats with essential oils is a totally different subject for another post, but I wanted to address, without going into detail, what the concern over essential oils is.

Essential oils are 500-2,000 times stronger than the flower or plant from which they came. A cat’s liver lacks the enzymes necessary to break down and excrete certain chemicals in many essential oils as well as other substances, like aspirin, and these chemicals can build up to a lethal level.

I want to leave you with this list from Optimum Choices of oils to definitely avoid around cats.

Lemon Lime
Orange Bergamot
Tangerine Pine
Mandarin Spruce
Grapefruit Fir
Cassia (cinnamon) Thyme
Clove Savory
Oregano

I’d love to know about your experiences with lavender. Do you use it around your cats? Do you use essential oils?

 

References:

ASPCA – Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Lavender
Toxic Plants- What Does That Really Mean
University of Maryland Medical Center: Lavender
Is Lavender Poisonous to Cats?
Pet Aromatherapy And Essential Oils: What You Need To Know
JustAnswer.com Cat Veterinary
Forget Everything Bad You’ve Ever Been Told About Essential Oils for Pets


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Tabby Cats to be Celebrated on National Tabby Day

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When I heard about the first ever National Tabby Day, I knew I had to participate. A few years ago, I wrote a post called The Glorious Tabby Cat. That post continues to be my most popular post of all time so I know there are lots of people out there who love tabby cats.

National Tabby Day celebrating tabby cats - April 30th is the first National Tabby Day, a day designated to celebrate tabby cats. It was motivated by a book release and adoption event in Manhattan.

As you probably know, tabby cats are not a breed. Tabby is a coat pattern and comes in several variations. Tabbies originated from the African wild cat which has similar markings that are excellent camouflage. You can read the above post to learn more about tabby patterns, personality and myths.

Famous tabbies include Morris the Cat, spokescat for 9Lives; Garfield; Lil Bub; and Thomas O’ Malley, the tabby in the Disney movie The Aristocats. Maybe Buffy the Cat will join this list!

April 30th this year has been designated to celebrate these much-loved cats. The event was motivated by the release of the book Making the Most of all Nine Lives: The Extraordinary Life of Buffy the Cat. Buffy, of course, is a tabby cat. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Bideawee, and Triumph Books will celebrate the day with a cat adoption event and book signing by author, Sandy Robins, at Bideawee Animal Shelter in Manhattan.

National-Tabby-Day celebrating tabby cats

Today is also National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day so it is a perfect day for the festivities. I hope they have a very successful event and lots of kitties find their forever homes.

Do you have a tabby cat? I have one tabby and two others with some tabby markings. Will you be celebrating National Tabby Day? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

#NationalTabbyDay

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How to Prevent Cat Hairballs

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If you have had a cat for any length of time, you have most likely experienced it. You are sound asleep when you are jolted awake by the sound of your cat hacking, gagging and retching. You know when you turn on the light you will be greeted by the sight of a hairball.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Close up of cat's tongue licking paw

The tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach

Hairballs are the by-product of your cat doing what it does naturally – grooming. When cats groom, the tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach. Most of the hair passes undigested through the digestive tract in the feces, but some stays behind in the stomach and eventually forms a hairball.

An occasional hairball, once every week or two, is nothing to worry about. If your cat is refusing to eat, lethargic or has repeated episodes of unproductive retching, you should consult your veterinarian as these could be signs of something more serious.

Hairballs, a by-product of what your cat does naturally. When they groom, they ingest loose hair. Click To Tweet
Ocean grooming Echo

Some cats, like Ocean, feel the need to groom every cat in the house, making them even more susceptible to hairballs

The Best Ways to Prevent or Reduce Hairballs in Cats

Make Sure Your Cat is Getting Enough Moisture

If your cat is eating an all-dry diet, she is not getting enough water. Since cats get most of their water from their food, your cat is living in a constant state of dehydration and her digestive system is working harder than it should to process all that dry stuff. Her GI tract is less able to move the fur and other debris through than a well-hydrated cat. Consider feeding your cat a more species appropriate diet.

Add Omega-3s to Your Cat’s Diet

Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s, is a commonly seen nutritional deficiency in cats. Commercial pet food often provides more omega-6 than they need and not enough omega-3. A healty balance of fatty acids will not only improve your cat’s coat and skin, but it will help her digestive system deal with the hair and other debris she swallows. Krill oil is the optimum source of omega-3.

Brush Your Cats OftenHairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Removing the hair before it is ingested is the best prevention of hairballs. Brush your cats at least once a week and more during shedding season, even daily. The more you brush the less time it will take each time making it more tolerable for your cat. Some cats are not fond of brushing. As with most things, the younger you start brushing your cat the better. If you have a long-haired cat, tangles can be an issue but if you brush often, these should be eliminated.

I have three cats and each takes to brushing differently. Ocean tolerates it but swishes his tail the entire time. Christy enjoys it and lays patiently while I maneuver her around to get the best angles. Echo, when he sees me brushing one of the others, comes and begs me to brush him and tries to take over the grooming spot.

The added benefit of brushing, besides preventing hairballs, is that you will have less hair floating around your house to vacuum up. Speaking of vacuuming, be sure to keep string, thread, and other materials off the floor that could become dangerous if swallowed and entwined in a hairball. I have to be especially careful of this with Echo — he is a string chewer.

Choosing a Brush or Comb

There are many types of brushes and combs on the market. You should use whatever works best for you and your cat. Some prefer one over the other. Combing is more efficient at removing loose hair but brushing is usually more soothing. When you are finished brushing or combing, rub a damp paper towel over your cat to pick up any remaining loose hair.

What I Use

When I discovered FURminator deShedding Tools a few years ago, I got rid of all my other combs and brushes. I had heard how great they were but the price kept me from getting one for a long time. I wondered if they were really worth it. I finally got one on sale and haven’t used anything else since.

FURminator claims to reduce shedding by 90% and I believe it. Your cat ingests less hair, reducing the chance of hairballs significantly. It also stimulates your pet’s natural oil production, which protects the skin and promotes healthy, shiny coats. And less loose hair means a reduction in airborne allergens.

National Hairball Awareness DayTo celebrate Hairball Awareness Day on April 29th, I’m hosting a giveaway for a FURminator. I have not been compensated for this post in any way. I just love FURminator and want to share one with one of my readers. The FURminator in the giveaway is designated for long hair; however, I have both long and short-haired cats and use the long-haired version on both. It works great!

The giveaway will end May 2, 2016 at 12:00 am. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only who are 18+ years old. The winner will be contacted by email to confirm shipping address. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you can’t wait to see if you win, you can purchase a FURminator now!


 

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Does Your Pet Have a Protein Intolerance?

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When I first started feeding my cats a homemade raw diet, I used Dr. Lisa Pierson’s chicken recipe from catinfo.org. Once I had my grinder, the recipe was pretty easy, especially the more I made it.

This website doesn’t talk about rotating proteins so my cats ate chicken for probably three years or more. Even though I thought about giving them something different for variety, I didn’t have any other recipes and didn’t know how to make sure another protein was properly balanced.

Avoid a Protein Intolerance

As I did more research on raw feeding, I learned that feeding theTitle image - Protein Intolerance: How to Avoid It - photo of raw chicken in a bowl same protein over and over can cause allergies or at least an intolerance to that protein. So, several months ago, I started rotating their proteins.

Now, my cats eat a way better variety of meat than I do. Some of them I’d love to have for myself but they aren’t available or are too expensive. They have had rabbit, venison, turkey, duck, pork, bison and beef. I buy rabbit, duck, venison and bison from my local raw food supplier, Excel K9. I buy frozen ground turkey in bulk (5 lbs.) at the grocery store. I buy large, whole beef or pork roasts and grind them myself.

Shortly before I started rotating proteins, Christy started throwing up several times a week but I didn’t think that much of it. She’s the reason I started feeding raw since she has always had a sensitive digestive system. I didn’t give it anymore thought since she stopped when I changed her food and all seemed well.

When it was time for chicken again, I made my usual batch. Right away, Christy started throwing up again, this time pretty much every meal. I conducted a little test. I gave her canned tuna and it stayed down. I gave her pork and it stayed down. Another meal of chicken and up it came. This could all be coincidence but it seems she has probably developed an intolerance. And, of course, I have 40 pounds of chicken thighs in my freezer! That’s okay, though. No more chicken for Christy. At least not for a long time.

I want to make it clear that this is not just a raw food issue. Feeding the same protein over and over in any form; canned, dry or raw, can cause allergies or an intolerance. It is important to rotate the proteins and even the brands in your pets diet.

Have you had an experience with a protein intolerance or allergy? How have you dealt with it?


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Are Pet Rats a Good Fit for Me?

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Welcome to my new monthly series featuring pocket pets, birds and reptiles. Each month, an expert will give you the pros and cons to help you decide if a particular pet is a good fit for you. I’m excited to have Abby Chesnut as my first guest, telling you about pet rats. I have had pet rats in the past and just adored them.

green stripeAre Pet Rats a Good Fit for Me?

So you have seen all the cute photos and videos of these fluffy, smart, and whiskery rodents and you are thinking about getting some as pets. Don’t get me wrong, they make wonderful pets, but there are a few pros and cons you should know before diving into the world of pet rats.

Things to consider before purchasing pet rats

  • Lifespan – The average for rats are around 2-4 years. Rats age very quickly compared to cats or dogs and this can be disheartening for many, but I like to think of that quote where they say for you, your pet might not be your whole life, but for your pet you are his whole life. Just gives you more reason to spoil them, right?
  • Health – Depending on where you get your rat (pet store or breeder) you will most likely run into some health problems that require you going to a vet. Before you decide that you want to have a pet rat please make sure that there is an exotic vet in your area that sees them. Costs can get high depending on where you live so it is always nice to have money stored up for an emergency.
Pet rats, brothers Delmar and Everett

Pet rat brothers Delmar and Everett

  • Social Animals – Rats need buddies so it is very frowned upon to get just a single rat. They live happier healthier lives when they have another rat to cuddle and interact with. The only thing I would say is more costly about having 2 rats compared to 1 is higher vet bills. Food doesn’t cost much and I mean come on, who doesn’t look cool with a rat on each shoulder?
Double Critter Nation Rat Cage

Double Critter Nation Rat Cage

    • Environment – Rats love to climb so they need enclosures that are more tall than long. Aquariums are not ventilated and can harm their fragile respiratory system so wire cages that are similar to bird cages but made for small pets like rats are the best. There are many cage calculators online that can help you find out if a cage is big enough, but overall for price and ease of use I always recommend the Critter Nation cage. Cleaning is important as well (they can get smelly), and you will need to clean your cage at least 1-2 weeks depending on how litter box trained they are (yes, it is possible), what bedding you use, and how big your cage is. Don’t forget that you will need to fill your cage up with toys, huts, hammocks, chew toys, a litter box, bedding, water bottle, and food!


Baby Delmar and Everett playing in their wheel (click the picture to see the video)

  • Exercise – When I first had my rats as babies they would go so crazy at night on their wheel! It was definitely hard to sleep at first, but what really helped that over the years is getting them out of their cage to release some of their energy. A lot of people put them on their bed with a dedicated rat blanket, or let them roam the bathroom, and even some people have their own rat rooms (a girl can dream). With many dogs and cats in my household, I put cardboard boxes on top of their cage and they go and play there while still being able to go back in for potty breaks and getting water. No dogs can get to them, and I supervise when one of my rat crazy cats is around. My point is that you can get creative, but exercise is very important for pet rats.

So I have touched on some major points to consider when you decide that you are serious about getting a pet rat (or two, or seven). Let us look at what makes them great pets!

Clicker training Delmar and Everett to spin (click the picture to see the video)

What makes rats great pets

  • Super smart – Some people have compared them to dogs when it comes to smarts, and they aren’t wrong. Did you know that rats were the first animal to be clicker trained? Mine actually love to do tricks, even though they only know two (spin and stand up) and they were so quick to catch on that it surprised me.
Pet rat Delmar - male rat

Delmar

  • Adorable – Rats are super cute! Despite the horrible stigma people have against them, those big eyes and whiskery noses are the best things to come home to after a long day. They will greet you at their cage door to say hi and eagerly await dinner. Afterwards, they very well would probably enjoy a shoulder rub! (I know my Delmar does) Rats do this cool thing where they brux (grind their teeth) and boggle (eyes bulge out because of the brux) when they are content. Some people think it is creepy, but I see it as a sign of a happy rat!
Pet rat Delmar being held by a young female attendee at the pet parade

Delmar spreading the love at a pet parade

  • Just Plain Cool – Have you ever walked around and seen a person with a rat on their shoulder? No? Well, you could be the next. I love to go to public events like pet parades and pet shows to educate the public about how amazing rats can be. So many people think that they are disgusting, once they learn how much grooming they do (as much as a cat) and pet them a little bit, you can change minds.

Overall, I think rats can make a great pet for older children (rats claws can be sharp and their bodies are fragile) and people of all ages can enjoy them just as well. If you aren’t ready for the big commitment for a dog or cat, but looking for a great small pet I think rats make a great animal companion!

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Abby ChesnutAbby Chesnut is a pet product influencer on her blog The Chesnut Mutts which has been around since November 2014. Jada and Bailey are her two mutts who have mostly taken over her blog with high-quality pet product reviews and giveaways, but her cat Shipoopi, pet rats Everett and Delmar, Emilio the betta fish, Tyrone the Apple Snail, and other household sharing dogs & cats pop in frequently. She loves to make people smile and laugh either by her photography, videos, or just her humorous and laid-back reviews.

You can follow Abbey and The Chesnut Mutts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

green stripe

If you are a blogger and interested in contributing to this series, please email me at info@savvypetcare.com.

green stripe

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Feline Chin Acne: Does Your Cat Have It?

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As a foster for hundreds of cats and kittens over a period of more than five years, I learned a great deal about a lot of diseases and ailments. One I had not heard of prior to fostering was feline chin acne.

I was fostering my now adopted cat, Ocean, who was frequently scratching at his chin. When I looked closely, it seemed very dirty so I tried to clean it with a wet paper towel. I thought it was dried on food. A few specks came off but most of the black spots remained. Some even started to bleed a little. The area seemed greasy. I told the medical director for the rescue about it and was told it was probably chin acne, also called feline acne or kitty acne.

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can effect any cat regardless of age, sex, or breed. Learn the symptoms and treatment.

What is Feline Chin Acne?

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can be a one time occurrence, come and go, or be a chronic, difficult to treat condition. It can effect either sex of any breed at any age, although some sources say it is more common between 2-4 years of age due to hormones.

The chin of a cat has lots of sebaceous (oil) glands that connect to the hair follicles. These glands get plugged up with oil and form blackheads. In some cases, the blackheads can turn to pimples and eventually abscesses that rupture. Secondary bacterial infections are common at that point.

What Causes Chin Acne?

The exact cause of chin acne in cats is unknown but some of the factors may include:

  • hyperactive sebaceous glands
  • poor grooming habits
  • sensitivity to food or chemicals in the diet
  • compromised immune system
  • stress
  • contact or atopic dermatitis (allergies)
  • hormone imbalances

How is Feline Chin Acne Treated?

There are some conditions like mange, yeast infections and ringworm that look similar to feline chin acne. Skin scrapings may be necessary to rule these conditions out.

Mild cases of blackheads may only need to be disinfected with Betadine or cleaned with a gentle soap. My veterinarian also told me the area could be dabbed with witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide once a week or so.

You need to keep an eye on the blackheads to make sure the condition is not progressing to a more serious stage when bacterial infection becomes a concern. Severe cases might require antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications.

Speaking of bacterial infection, it was once thought that plastic food dishes could be a cause of chin acne. However, it is now thought that the bacteria on the plastic dishes is the culprit and not the plastic itself. Since it is porous, plastic is very hard to disinfect so glass or stainless steel feeding dishes are a better choice.

Does a Dish Really Make a Difference?

A while back, I received a Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief to try out. Christy Paws told you all about whisker fatigue and reviewed the bowl on her blog.

Since we only had one bowl (and three cats) and Ocean had the chin acne issue, I decided it would be his bowl to see if it made any difference for him. Since we received the bowl in January, he has been eating from it exclusively. I stopped cleaning and disinfecting the area to be able to test only the bowl. After 7 or 8 weeks, I do see a definite reduction in the number of blackheads.

Although I can’t be sure the bowl is responsible for the improvement for Ocean, I know he does eat from it differently than his old bowl. He kind of shoveled the food out of his old bowl with his chin. He doesn’t do that with the Dr. Catsby’s bowl.

Ocean only has blackheads and no open lesions. I believe using a glass or stainless bowl is very important for cats with this more severe condition to help avoid infection.

Ocean's improved chin

When I told the folks at Dr. Catsby that I wanted to write about the results of this little experiment, they offered to give me a bowl to give away to one lucky reader. If you don’t know about whisker fatigue, which is a whole different subject, and Dr. Catsby’s Bowl, click on the link above to read about whisker fatigue and Christy’s review.

Ocean with Dr. Catsby's Bowl for Whisher Fatigue

The giveaway will end March 28, 2016 at 12:00 am. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only who are 18+ years old. The winner will be contacted by email to confirm shipping address. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclaimer: I received a Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Fatigue to try and review. This review was posted on Christy Paws. I have received no compensation for this post. I only review products I have tried or use and feel might be of value to my readers. All opinions are my own.

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If My Cats Had a Bucket List

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Ocean and Christy watching the bird feeder - environmental enrichmentI recently read a post on GoPetFriendly.com that really got me thinking. The author mentioned the stories you may have seen recently about people who took their dogs on great adventures after learning their dogs were terminally ill. The post was really about living life to the fullest every moment–starting right NOW. After dealing with a life-threatening illness, surgery and chemo therapy, this post really struck a chord with me.

As part of my healing, I retired early and moved to a beautiful place with few pressures left in my life. I’m doing what I love, spending time with animals, my own and my pet sitting clients’ pets.

What that post really got me thinking about was my cats. Are their lives as full and rich as they could be? Dogs, to me, are easy. They are gregarious animals that love going on adventures with their humans. But what about cats? If my cats had a bucket list, what would be on it?

So I started thinking about what cats like: eating, sleeping, hunting, climbing, and hiding. These were the main things that came to mind. I started assessing how I am doing in each area and how I could improve it — what I could add to their bucket list.

Eating

I feed a homemade raw diet. I am constantly researching to make sure I’m feeding a nutritionally balanced diet that is the best it can be. I rotate the proteins I feed. They eat better and more exotic than I do! I know they would like me to add more treats to their list. OK, maybe.

Sleeping

There’s lots of sleeping going on here and there are beds all over the house. I think we are good there. In spite of all the beds, they prefer to cuddle with me, at least when it is cold, so there will continue to be lots of that.

Environmental Enrichment

The things that are left, hunting, climbing and hiding, all fall in the category of environmental enrichment and where I feel I fall a little short. Here’s where I could add some great things to their bucket list.

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like setting myself up for failure. One thing I did decide at the beginning of the year, though, was that I would play with my cats more. I know they don’t get enough exercise. They rarely play on their own but come to life when the wand or laser toys are brought out. I’m already falling down on that since the first of the year so I need to work harder at it.

They have a lot of small toys for play on their own but there are things I could do to make them more fun. I could put toys in a box with a small hole or in a bag to shake around. There are lots of great toys on the market aimed at this play drive.

They have multiple cat trees and window shelves, including one that is heated. I have put a couple of shelves on the wall to give them even more vertical space. I have two more shelves that have been sitting around since last summer and a remodel I want to do on a large cat tree. Sounds like a good project for this rainy weather we’ve been having.

I’ve put bird feeders at several windows and hummingbird feeders on the deck. I find it interesting that these feeders don’t see much action in the winter. When the birds are scarce, I could try one of the cat entertainment DVDs that showcase prey.

They have boxes and cubes that they can hide in and there’s always the furniture to hide under in a pinch or for an ambush. Mine aren’t into hiding that much. I’ll usually find them in one of the boxes when it is chilly and they are trying to keep warm while they are sleeping. I do want to cover and decorate one of their boxes that is just a cardboard box they love.

I think one of the best things I can do for my cats is to get them outdoors. I have big plans for a catio in the spring and I hope they love it. In the meantime, I bring the outdoors in by growing grass (not often enough) and occasionally giving them leaves to play with.

Ocean eating grass, Echo watching - environmental enrichment

Keeping cats mentally stimulated reduces stress, depression and aggression. Click To Tweet

My Cats’ Bucket List

So here’s what I think my cats would like to see on their bucket list. I’ll evaluate it periodically to see how I’m doing and what else I can add to it.

My Cats' Bucket List with lots of things for environmental enrichment

 

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3 Reasons to Rotate Proteins in Your Pet’s Diet

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How many of us have found a food our pets like and eat well so we stick with that? We feed them the same thing at every meal, day in and day out. How would that go over with you? How healthy do you think your diet would be if you ate like that? I doubt we would choose that for ourselves, yet we choose it for our pets.

3 reasons to Rotate Proteins

3 Reasons to Rotate Proteins

Alleviate Boredom

I think this one is pretty obvious once you think about it. We would find eating the same food every day pretty boring, at least eventually. I realize we are not dogs or cats, but in the wild, our pets’ ancestors did not eat the same thing every day. They are designed to eat multiple sources of protein to meet their nutritional needs. Different tastes and textures will make mealtime more exciting for your pet and reduce the chance of them becoming a picky eater. Once they are used to the same thing over and over they are less likely to want to try new foods.

More Complete Nutrition The 3 Reasons to rotate proteins in your pet's diet

Just like we need a variety of foods for complete nutrition, so do our pets. All pet food on the market must meet the standards set by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials); however, it is unlikely that any one formula is the ideal food for the life of your pet. No matter how complete and balanced a food claims to be, it is unlikely it contains everything all dogs or cats need for their entire lifetime. If a formula is low in a particular nutrient, your pet could become dangerously deficient. Nutrients like amino acids, fatty acids and minerals all vary from protein to protein. Varying what your pet eats means they will get a better balance of nutrients.

Prevent or Heal Food Allergies and Intolerances

Pet food allergies develop due to overexposure. For decades, pet food has been made from chicken and beef which, by no coincidence, are the most common pet allergens. In order to make pet food cheaper, animal protein was partially replaced with plant protein from corn and wheat, the two most common grain allergens. By rotating proteins and feeding foods that are grain-free you will reduce the risk of your pet developing a food allergy or intolerance and can likely heal an existing one.

 

You can rotate proteins in your pet’s diet using a combination of canned, freeze dried, and raw. I don’t recommend dry food but at least dogs don’t have the hydration issue with dry that cats do. Rotate brands as well as protein sources.

Remember to change food gradually if your pet has a sensitive stomach and is used to one food. I feed my cats homemade raw food and change their protein with every batch I make — about every 10 days. They are used to eating a variety and don’t require a gradual change.

Rotating proteins will help your pet live a longer, healthier life.

Are you already feeding your pet a rotation diet? How does it work for you? If not, have you considered it?


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