Archive for Ava

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.

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

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MidWest Critter Nation Animal Habitat with Stand, Double Unit, 36 Inches by 24 Inches by 63 Inches (Misc.)


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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.

Dr. Catsby’s Food Bowl for Whisker Relief (Misc.)


List Price: $19.99 USD
New From: $6.66 USD In Stock
Used from: $17.99 USD In Stock

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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Pine Pellet Litter and a DIY Litter Box

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Pine (Wood) Pellet Litter and a DIY Litter BoxAs a pet sitter, I see and experience lots of different pet products, from food and treats to toys and even litter. Yes, litter.

I try to go green whenever possible so I prefer biodegradable litter which is available in pine pellets, recycled newspaper pellets, and litter based on corn, wheat, walnut shells and safflower seeds. The litter I personally have been using for almost a year is corn based and you can buy it here. A 9-pound bag easily lasts as long as 30-pounds of clay litter and, in my opinion, controls odor much better.

Biodegradable Litter

  • Comes from a renewable, sustainable source
  • Virtually dust free
  • Weighs about half as much as clumping clay litter
  • Superior odor control
  • No silica dust so healthier for your cat
  • Safe if ingested during grooming

Biodegradable litters can be composted if you are so inclined. I wrote about that, well, actually my cat wrote about that, here. Even if you use biodegradable litter, it still stays in the landfill pretty much forever if you dispose of it in a plastic bag.

Clay Litter

  • Strip-mined
  • Non-renewable
  • Non-biodegradable (it sits in a landfill forever)
  • Heavy
  • Contains silica dust which can cause health problems for your cat when inhaled
  • Dust gets all over everything
  • Doesn’t control odor very well
  • Can build up in your cat’s digestive system

Pine Pellet Litter

Recently, I began caring for some cats who use pine pellet litter. I am always glad when I find a client using biodegradable litter.

While I was cleaning the litter box, I remembered that I had tried pine pellet litter once many years ago and quit using it because it is so hard to scoop. Unlike other types of litter where you scoop out the clumps, the pine litter falls apart as it absorbs liquids. The litter needs to be sifted rather than scooped and this is very time consuming in a traditional litter box.

Special sifting litter boxes are intended to remedy this. These double boxes allow the wet litter to fall through an insert which holds the intact pellets. I tried one of these, too, many years ago and found them somewhat unsatisfactory. Mostly, they were just plain too small and the sides were too low, which is the case with litter boxes in general.

DIY Pine Pellet Litter Box

What actually prompted me to write this post is a pin I saw on Pinterest. The blogger at Meow Lifestyle created her own wood pellet litter box. She used plastic storage boxes, similar to the ones I’ve used for my litter boxes for years, so I really like the project. The boxes are large and the sides are high which gives your cat plenty of room and keeps more litter in the box. Click on the link for complete instructions.

Pine Pellet Litter and a DIY Wood Pellet Litter Box

Photo courtesy Meow Lifestyle

 

What type of litter do you use? If you use biodegradable, do you compost it? If you try this project, let me know how it works for you.

If you are not up for making your own box, here are a few suggestions.

 

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Homemade Dog Treat Recipe Roundup

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Dog Treat Recipe Roundup photoI love cooking but I’m the only human in the house and can consume only so much food. As a result, my cats and my client’s and friend’s cats and dogs sometimes become the guinea pigs for my pet recipe creations when I feel the need to cook.

I don’t make treats very often but when I do, I like for them to be as healthy as possible but, after all, they ARE treats!

Here are a few recipes I found recently that I want to give a try so I put them in this dog treat recipe roundup. They sound yummy. Pop some of these treats in a homemade treat jar and you have an inexpensive gift for a four-legged pal.

If you try, or have tried, any of these recipes, be sure to let me know what you thought in the comments.

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe Roundup–

Just in Time for Holiday Giving

 

Gingerbread Cookies For Dogs – Easy and Yummy!

 

DIY Homemade Peanut Butter Pumpkin Dog Treats

 

DIY Dog Treats: Mutt Mojito from Pretty Fluffy

 

Dog and sweet potato

Make Your Own Homemade Sweet Potato Dog Treats in the Microwave (Recipe)

 

treats in hand

The Secret to Quick Non-Crumbly Homemade Dog Treats

 

HomemadeDogTreats

Homemade Dog Treats from A Cozy Kitchen

And you know how you you’re supposed to give guests, like, a little gift bag or something? Well, I’d want to give the animals gifts too.  I’d probably give the pigs the leftovers from the reception, the miniature horses would get some sweet apples, I’d give the cats some private time…and the dogs, well, I’d make them these homemade treats.  I bet they’d really like them because I gave them a try and they’re not half bad. Sooo if your dog is peering over your shoulder as you’re reading this blog post, you can tell them this: these treats have… continue reading.

 

Turkey-Dog-Biscuit-1

Turkey Dog Biscuit Recipe from Budget Earth

After spending hours online, I couldn’t find a recipe that did exactly what I wanted. In the end, I took about five recipes, picked the things I liked most from them, modified that mix with the ingredients we had in the house, and got to work. In the end, I had a recipe unlike anything else I could find, and… continue reading.

 

Coconut-Sunbutter-Dog-Treat-Recipe

Coconut Sunbutter Dog Treat Recipe from Budget Earth

While I do buy them sometimes when we travel, I am not a huge fan of buying dog treats. Many of the dog treats on the market contain ingredients I couldn’t even imagine feeding to my dog. To me, dogs deserve to have treats that contain not only healthy ingredients, but are made to be yummy to humans as well. Let’s face it, dogs love table scraps because they taste good and aren’t boring like their own dog food. Since it’s hard to find treats that meet our criteria for… continue reading.

 

Kohl's Leftover Love

Tasty Tuesday: Leftover Love from Kol’s Notes

Leftovers, done right, can easily be made into delicious, wholesome and healthy treats. Take last night’s meal, as an example: Mom made roast chicken, baked sweet potato, green beans and a salad. With almost no extra work, these leftovers can easily become SNACKS FOR ME ~and there is NOTHING, I love more than snacks for me~… continue reading.

 

Remember to let me know in the comments if you’ve tried any of the recipes in this dog treat recipe roundup. Do you have a favorite treat recipe for your dog?


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The 2 Most Dangerous Things About Dry Food

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Tabby cat - 2 most dangerous things about dry foodIf you feed your cats dry food, the best thing you can do for their health is to STOP. I know it is convenient. I know it is less expensive. I know your cat loves it. But it is not good for your cat. Here are, in my opinion, the two most dangerous things about dry food.

Too Little Moisture

The ancestors of our domestic house cats were desert-dwelling wild cats of the Middle East. These ancestors passed down to our pets super-efficient kidneys designed to extract the maximum amount of water possible from their prey. Cats have a low thirst drive and usually don’t drink until they are about 3% dehydrated. This may not sound that bad but it is a level at which many veterinarians would consider giving supplemental fluids.

A cat’s natural prey, the mouse, is about 65-75% water. Dry food is less than 10% water. When all sources of fluid intake are added together, what’s in their food and what they drink, cats eating a dry food diet consume less than half the water of a cat on a canned or raw diet. On a dry food diet, minerals from the kibble and metabolism build up in the bladder because of the reduced frequency of urination, producing hyper-concentrated, over-saturated urine leading finally to blockage. In addition to urinary crystals and stones, this chronic dehydration is responsible for or contributes to many other health issues including bladder infections, constipation, and kidney disease.

Too Many Carbohydrates

Dry foods, no matter how premium or even prescription, are mostly grain-based (or now, other inappropriate carbohydrate sources like potato and pea flour) and contain about 25 to 50% carbohydrates. Cats have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates and feeding them a diet high in carbohydrates is detrimental to their health.

Pet manufacturers may tell you their pet food contains carbohydrates for energy. Humans use carbohydrates for energy but cats use protein and fat and have little ability to digest carbohydrates. When cats process carbohydrates, they are turned directly to fat which promotes obesity. Obesity leads to many other health issues like high blood pressure, pancreatitis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and so much more.

Carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels higher and faster than other nutrients and trigger the release of insulin. When cats have dry food available all the time, they nibble multiple times a day causing multiple sharp swings in blood sugar and the release of insulin. Over secretion of insulin causes cells to become insulin resistant. That’s just one reason dry food is a major contributor to feline diabetes.

Give Your Cat the Gift of Health

So, no matter how healthy your cat may seem on a dry food diet, consider what it may doing in the long term. If your cat is a dry food addict, there are many articles on the internet to help you transition your cat to a wet or raw food diet. It might take a good amount of time but don’t give up. Your cat’s health depends on it.

 

Additional reading:

Live Science: House Cats’ Wild Ancestor Found

Little Big Cat: 10 Reasons Why Dry Food is Bad for Cats & Dogs

Feline Nutrition Foundation: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat’s Pee

 

Keep your pets hydrated and active!

This post contains Amazon Associate links which means we receive a small commission if you click from our site and make a purchase. Thanks for your support!


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Homemade Grain-free Dog Treats

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I haven’t had dogs of my own for a while now but I have friends and clients who do. Most of them are pretty savvy and try to do the best for their dogs by feeding them healthy food. These grain-free dog treats are a perfect gift for them.

Healathy, homemade, grain-free dog treats in DIY treat jar

At the holidays, I am better at giving gifts to the pets I know than their human caretakers. When I make treats, I want them to be as healthy as possible so, this year, I developed these grain-free treats.

The dough can be a little tricky to work with but all my taste testers unanimously give paws up for the finished product.

Just 5 healthy ingredients: coconut flour, applesauce, nut butter, eggs and coconut oil

Just 5 healthy ingredients and a few supplies is all it takes.

Mixing ingredients

Stir all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Ball of dough

Form the dough into a ball and chill for about 10 minutes.

Patted out dough

I pat the dough out quite a bit before I start rolling

Rolled out dough

Dust with coconut flour and roll out the dough. I do half of it at a time. That usually fills one cookie sheet.

Dough cut with dog bone shaped cutter

Cut out the dough with your favorite shape cutter.

The finished grain-free dog treats on a cookie sheet

Bake until golden brown and thoroughly dry.

Healthy, Grain-Free Dog Treats

Nutty Biscuits

Ingredients

1½ cups coconut flour
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup peanut butter (or any nut butter of your choice)
4 eggsJust 5 healthy ingredients in these grain-free dog treats
½ cup coconut oil

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Combine all ingredients and form into a ball. Dough will be soft but not sticky.

3. Roll out between parchment or on a silicon mat to about ¼ inch or a less. Thickness will determine baking time.

4. Add a little coconut flour as needed to prevent sticking. Chilling for about 10 minutes will also help prevent sticking. I roll out half at a time and leave the other half in the fridge.

5. Cut in desired shape(s) with cookie cutter(s).

6. If you are lucky, they will stick in the cutter and you can pick them up like that. If not, lift up bottom paper or mat and let cutout fall into your hand one at a time.

7. Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicon mat.

8. Bake 30-45 minutes or until hard. Gently press the center with your finger to test. Adjust your temperature if necessary. Better to cook them long and low rather than over-brown them before they are dry.

9. Turn every 15 minutes or so for even browning. They should be very lightly browned. Dough is still very fragile so turn carefully. I use my hands.

I like to turn off the oven and leave them in until they are completely cool. The drier the treats are, the longer they will keep at room temperature. If they are not completely dry, they should be stored in the refrigerator. Remember, these treats contain no preservatives.

This recipe made about 50 pieces using a 3″ bone cutter plus a dozen 1″ pieces.

Put these yummy, grain-free dog treats in a homemade treat jar and you have a fun gift for a special pet.


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DIY Pet Treat Jar — Repurposed Plastic Container

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DIY Pet Treat Jar finishedI try to be green whenever possible. I recycle, compost and try to reuse whatever I can. When I have an especially cool and useful-seeming plastic or glass container, it makes me crazy to put it in the recycle bin. So I have a collection of glass and plastic containers that I try to find ways to reuse. This DIY pet treat jar is a fun way to use them.

I like to give my clients a little something at this time of year and many of my saved containers are perfect for holding healthy, homemade pet treats. If you aren’t into making treats, you can always fill them with store bought treats for the pets in your Flourworld.

This square plastic container is one of my favorites. The ones I have came from Costco with shredded cheese in them. I use them to hold things like partial bags of baking chips, small amounts of flour, etc. They are also a good size for treats for a medium to large dog or cat treats for a multiple cat household.

DIY Pet Treat Jar Instructions

1. Remove the label from the container by running it under hot water for a few minutes then gently pulling it off. If you are going to cover the entire area with another label like in this project, you don’t even need to worry about getting the residual glue off. If you are going to decorate in another manner, you can get the glue off by rubbing it with cooking oil. It may take a little while, but it should all come off. Wash and dry your container.

2. Measure the area for your label. This container’s label is 7½ inches by 3¼ inches. I created a document in Photoshop with those dimensions. I always take a lot of pictures of my clients’ pets so I had plenty of photos to choose from. I laid out the design and added the text. If you are artsy, you can simply draw your design on the label which would probably be even more appreciated by the human recipient. I’m not an artist so I stick with Photoshop!DIY Pet Treat Jar project laid out

3. I printed out a test on regular paper and cut it out to see how the placement worked. I made a few adjustment to the layout and printed on a full sheet of label paper.

4. I used a rotary cutter to cut it out so the edges would be nice and smooth but scissors will work just as well.

5. Carefully place the label and smooth out any air bubbles.DIY Pet Treat Jar lid

6. The lid also has a label that you can leave on if you are going to cover it up or remove as above if you are going to embellish the lid in some other manner. I cut out a circle the size of the lid and used a rubber stamp and embossing powder to decorate it.

7. You can continue embellishing with raffia, ribbon, stickers, tags or whatever else strikes your fancy. A gift tag will be my finishing touch on this DIY pet treat jar once it is full of homemade treats.

Left side of pet treat jar
Right side of pet treat jar

Now I’m off to the kitchen to make those treats. Look for the recipe next time along with a roundup of my favorite treats on the internet.


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Cat Whiskers — 12 Interesting Facts

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When you marvel at a blind cat whizzing around the room, Cat Whiskers 12 Interesting Facts avoiding all obstacles, you can give the cat’s whiskers the credit. Some people mistakenly think that whiskers are like human hair but this is not the case. Here are 12 interesting facts about whiskers.

Facts About Cat Whiskers

1. Whiskers are very sensitive
Have you ever noticed your cat quickly moving away from your hand if you bump its whiskers or turn its head if you try to stroke them? Whiskers, which are two to three times thicker than hair, are actually touch receptors. The follicles that hold these long, stiff hairs, called vibrissae, are deep with lots of nerve endings that send information to the cat’s brain.

2. There are whiskers on the muzzle
The whiskers found in horizontal rows on either side of the muzzle are called mystacial whiskers. There are usually 12 on each side but the number can vary. These whiskers are connected to muscles that allow the cat to move them.

Muzzle, eyebrow, chin3. They are not just on the muzzle
Most often, we think of whiskers on the muzzle, but that’s not the only place you’ll find them. Cats also have whiskers above the eyes, on the jaw and behind the front legs near the feet.

4. The whiskers on the legs
The whiskers on the front legs help cats when climbing and to position their prey for the killing bite.

5. Whiskers help the cat “see” in the dark
At the tips of the whiskers is an organ called a proprioceptor which sends signals to the brain and nervous system. This helps the cat know where every part of its body is. It can sense even small changes in air current, which is very helpful in the dark (feeling air flow change around furniture) or when chasing prey.

6. Whiskers let the cat know if it will fit
Do you ever cringe, like me, when you see a cat go into a tiny space, wondering if it will be able to get out? A cat’s whiskers are about as long as the cat is wide. This helps the cat know if it can fit through a narrow space. You might see a cat put its head through an opening several times before entering as it judges the size. Cats don’t have a true collar bone so they can twist around and fit in small spaces. 

7. Whiskers help cats measure distance
Whiskers help a cat visually measure distance. This is how they are able to jump so gracefully on to a high ledge or precisely leap on prey.

8. They are an indicator of your cat’s mood
When a cat is angry or defensive, they will pull their whisker straight back against their face. When a cat is curious or on the hunt, they will be pushed slightly forward. Whiskers that are still and sticking straight out mean your cat is happy and relaxed.

Curious cat whiskers slightly forward

9. The longest cat whiskers
The title for the longest whiskers in the world is currently held by Missi, a Maine coon from Finland who boasts 19 cm (7.5 ins) long whiskers and has held the record since 2005.

10. Unusual whiskers
Not all cats have long, straight whiskers. Some have long whiskers that curl in all directions. Some breeds, like the Devon Rex and the Cornish Rex, have very short, curly whiskers.

11. Don’t cut or trim your cat’s whiskers
No matter what your cat’s whiskers look like, don’t ever cut or trim them. They will fall out and grow back naturally, but cutting them will confuse and disorient your cat. It would be like blindfolding us or taking away our sense of touch.

12. Whisker stress or fatigue
Does your cat pull food out of its dish to eat? Does it only eat part of the food and still act hungry? It could be whisker stress. Since cats’ whiskers are so sensitive, it can be uncomfortable for them to eat from narrow dishes. The easy solution is to feed your cat from a wide, shallow dish.

Eating from small dish with cat whiskers touching side

Sources:

How Stuff Works: Why do cats have whiskers?
WebMD: Why do cats have whiskers?
mnn (Mother Nature Network): 13 things you didn’t know about cat whiskers
LiveScience: Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?
PetMD: Why Do Cats Have Whiskers?
PetMeds.com: Help your cat avoid “whisker stress”
Guinness World Records: Longest cat whiskers


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