Friday, July 31, 2009

Ensuring a Healthy Diet for your Rabbit

It is important to give your rabbit the right greens as to ensure a healthy pet. This can be done by including greens daily into your rabbit’s diet; these greens may include spinach, broccoli and herbs. Fruit should be given to your rabbit as a treat only, as too much fruit may lead to an obese rabbit, as well as dental disease. Try to buy pellets and hay from your local vet as it is usually fresher than the products carried at supermarkets and/or pet stores. Important to note when changing your rabbit’s diet, is to do it slowly! This avoids sudden changes in the types of bacteria in the gut of the rabbit. A sudden change in diet may also prove fatal to young rabbits, so do take care. Ensure that your rabbit always has access to clean, fresh water and that that your rabbit has access to unlimited amounts of high fiber, good quality grass hay.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Belly Up

I recently had to say ‘goodbye’ to my dear goldfish ‘Goopy’ after a long and surely uncomfortable battle with ‘Flip-over’ disease. Unfortunately this is not the first goldfish I have owned that has suffered this fate, but I thought it was time to draw the line and investigate this goldfish disease! Flip-over disease is actually a symptom of one or more goldfish diseases that affect buoyancy. In other words, if your fish is unable to swim up right, floats the top of the tank, or sinks to the bottom it probably has flip-over disease. If your little buddy is suffering from this symptom, it could indicate a problem with its swim bladder, intestinal tract, organs situated near to the swim bladder, tumours in the abdomen or as a result of failure of the mechanism that controls gas pressure in the swim bladder. A bad diet and/or poor water quality may also result in flip-over disease. If it is as a result of poor diet or water quality it is quite easy to treat, however if the problem is internal there is little one can do for the goldfish. It should be noted though, that surgery is an option. Don’t think my Vet will take me too seriously though.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cat Scratch Fever

Are you tired of having your kitty scratch her way through your carpet, blinds, and the back of your newly upholstered furniture? Well firstly, it is important that you provide your cat with a scratching post. Cats scratch either to mark their territory, sharpen their claws or to stretch their legs, therefore providing them with a suitable post on which to do this is important. It is suggested that you avoid making use of posts covered in carpeting as the cat cannot dissociate the scratching post with your Persian rug. However, posts covered in sisal rope or corrugated board should do the trick. You can also clip your cat’s nails if necessary (a human nail clipper will do) but do be sure not to cut the nail into the quick. You don’t want to hurt your kitty! If all else fails, and you catch your pet sharpen its claws on your blinds, fill a sprits bottle with some water. It should deter them from doing it again.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Origin of the Domesticated Cat

Did you know that until recently the domesticated cat was thought to have originated from ancient Egypt? However this is not so, in 2004 a grave was excavated in Cyprus and it was discovered that the skeleton of a cat that had been buried with its owner. The grave was approximately 5000 years older than that of the earliest depictions of cats in Egypt. It is suspected that unlike dogs, cats were probably not domesticated through the hands of people but that they adapted to urban environments. Their stubborn and independent natures usually mean that cats are rather difficult to train, however with a little patience and perseverance an owner might be able to over come this wild nature, and in some cases even have one’s cat walking on a leash (although this might only be as a result of training from an early age)! Hence you can take a cat out of the wild, but it certainly will be a challenge taking the ‘wild’ out of your cat.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Pet Love – Conditionally unconditional

It’s a routine. Every morning I wake up, switch off my alarm, get up and open my door. And every morning there she waits, wagging her tail anticipating my return from the kitchen. My dog, a Yorkshire terrier, although independent loves me like no other. Once I’ve made myself a cup of coffee and climbed back into bed, she sits back in my arms pleading for her morning scratch. This ritual continues until she is in a deep sleep accompanied with an even deeper and louder snore of sorts. Twitching dreamily in my arms, we sit there as only two best friends can, content in each other’s company. Important to note though, is that this ritual is on her terms and her terms only. Let’s not forget who the boss is! A scratch too long, or too much movement and that’s it! She’s out of here, and with a sigh laden with utter annoyance she moves off to the far corner of the bed to inspect her garden for cats.

Friday, July 24, 2009

What to feed your Budgie

Although wild Budgies eat grass seeds almost exclusively, it is recommended that captive birds' diets be supplemented with fresh fruits and vegetables, sprouted seeds, pasta, whole grain bread, as well as pellets formulated for small parrots. Adding these foods provides additional nutrients to your budgie’s diet. Initially your bird might be quite picky, but patience and perseverance should pay off. Involve the kids when making a budgie food mix. It is easy and fun. Mix some berries (don’t include the stones if using cherries) and some pellets together for your pet, or scour the internet for some ‘bird biscuit’ recipes and use cookie cutters to shape them. There are a number of foods that are considered toxic to these little birds and they include: avocado (and their pits); chocolate; alcohol; coffee; peanuts and canned veggies. So do steer clear of these foods in order to ensure that your budgie lives a long and happy life.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Secret Lives of Cats

Ariel, who is of no particular feline bloodline, belongs to a very good friend of mine. In four years I have not actually seen this cat. She greets my friend with a punctual and frantic ‘meow’ nine o’clock every evening, and slinks out of the house before anyone has even cracked an eyelid. My question is… ‘Where does Ariel go’? (Or should it be ‘Is Ariel real??). As a dog owner myself, I can’t imagine not seeing, let alone not being greeted by my adorable canine, but cats are something else! I have a secret desire to strap a ‘cat cam’ to the feline’s neck and to review the evidence. However, I doubt that my friend will entertain this notion as enthusiastically as I have. For now I can only imagine the storm drains frequented, the households scavenged for catnip, and the birds terrorised by this little cat.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Indoor Mess, Owner’s Mistake?

While on the topic of house-training, I thought it important that you, as a dog owner, are aware of what NOT to do when house-training your puppy. Firstly, it is recommended that one does not punish the dog when it messes indoors, at least one should not punish while still in the early stages of house-training. Punishing a puppy before it really understands where it is supposed to relieve itself may cause the puppy to relieve itself when no one is looking. Secondly, is very important that one only punishes the puppy when it was actually caught in the act. Punishing your dog, when it can’t understand what the punishment is for, only makes it confused and upset. The puppy will not associate the punishment with its earlier action. Rubbing your dog’s nose in its own mess is considered particularly counter productive as it suggests your dog that it should continue relieving itself in that particular spot.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pet Peeve

Anyone that has ever owned a Yorkshire terrier will know that it is nearly impossible to ‘potty train’ this little dog. However, house-training the new member of the family need not be so challenging! Make sure that the puppy is given the opportunity to relieve itself at least every 3 to 4 hours, and particularly after meals. If you do catch your puppy in the act indoors, make a loud and sharp noise as to surprise it. Be sure to take it outside immediately, using the same entrance every time, in order for it to finish its business outside. The trick is to get your puppy to associate the outdoors with the chosen, and correct area for relieving itself. Oh, and please don’t forget to praise your pet and offer it a treat once it has successfully relieved itself outside! If your puppy has nothing to gain, the chances of the training being a success surely will be slim.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Choosing the right pet for you: rabbits

Rabbits can make great pets, but just make sure you give them plenty of room in which to live. You’ll need to try create a partition in your garden, because if you let your rabbit loose the chances are he’ll eat every leafy plant you have! Keeping a rabbit cramped up in a hutch the whole day, however, is a bit cruel. Include lots of leafy, green produce for him to munch on like lettuce and spinach as well as a good supply of carrots and cabbage. If it suits you, you can add a tortoise to the partition. It creates a nice effect to your garden, giving a sense of openness and liveliness. If you have a dog, you need to ensure that he either gets on really well with your rabbit or that the rabbit is well protected.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Long live cat worship

Cats have always attracted some degree of reverence. The Ancient Egyptians would worship the cat, and set up temples in its honour. One thinks of the Batman’s villain, Catwoman. In Tim Burton’s Batman Returns, it is the cat which provides an otherwise meek and timid woman with a villainous, dangerous, and menacing streak. The suggestion is that cats have a mythical, magical, and somewhat unnerving quality to them. The most obvious exception to this in popular culture would be Garfield. Garfield is for all intents and purposes a feline couch potato. He makes no excuses for his lazily laissez faire approach to life, which includes regular servings of lasagna and constant pranks on Odi, his live-in hound. Garfield gives us a glimpse of a mythical, powerful creature that has become unapologetically ordinary and quotidian.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The African Grey Parrot

A family relative of mine has what I think is the most tame parrot in the world. The parrot she has is called an African Grey - its wings are grey with red tips or edges to it. Like most parrots, the African Grey is highly intelligent, and can repeat sounds and speech patterns. This particular parrot, however, has been with its owner since a very young age so they’ve had a long time to bond with each other. So tame is this parrot that it allows its owner to place it on its back and tickle its stomach! I’ve never seen anything like it. Most people can barely go near the parrot for fear of being bitten by its powerful beak. But the parrot loves and trusts its owner so much that it always allows her to do anything to it. Such is the trust that our pets can give us.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Common [kitty] sense

Did you know that the classic, and somewhat sentimental, image of the fireman being called to rescue the kitten from the tree is a complete farce. Cats are far more acrobatic and daring than some of us give them credit for. A cat’s agility, in fact, is one of its most important survival mechanisms. There are not many other mammals that can climb trees with such aplomb as your average housecat. This ability allows them to escape predators who might be chasing them on the ground. And, perhaps just as importantly, it can be a tool of attack that helps a cat disguise itself when stalking prey. The fact of the matter is that if a cat can climb up the tree, it doesn’t need a fireman with a really long ladder to rescue it. The cat can just as easily jump down on its own – literally “running down” until it hits the ground. It’s part of the way cats are designed.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Home-made kitty litter

I was browsing the Internet some time ago, and I came across this really inventive recipe for homemade kitty litter. Conventional litter can have some horrendous chemicals in them to neutralize bad odors. So if this worries you, then making your own litter is quite easy. You start by shredding some newspaper and collecting it all in an unused litter box. You then soak the paper in warm water with some gentle, biodegradable dishwashing liquid. The shredded paper will take on a kind of cooked oatmeal consistency. You then drain the water (using an old colander, perhaps) and repeat the soaking process but this time WITHOUT the soap. Proceed to sprinkle some baking soda on the wet paper, kneading it into the mixture. Then squeeze the remaining moisture out until it’s as dry as possible. Once it’s dry, put about two inches of paper crumbles into the litter box. You’d need to scoop up solids every day, but the litter only needs changing once a week. It takes about half an hour to make a two to three supply of litter, and with the exception of the baking soda it’s virtually free to make.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pet sterilisation

At what point should you get your cat or dog spade or neutered? Well, it all depends on whether or you’re ready to have kittens/puppies. If you’re not ready, having new offspring can be a real burden: you need to find homes for them and then there’s always the logistical issue of their tearing around your house. Generally, vets advise you to get your animal spayed/neutered at one year old. Some owners of male pets, however, insist that neutering their pets changes their (the pet’s) disposition - probably something to do with less testosterone flowing through their body. Generally, neutering is far less complex than spaying. But either way, if you’re not ready to handle the responsibility and extra chores of having little offspring around your home, you should not delay in sterilizing your pet.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vet check-ups

It’s important to take your pet for regular check-ups at your local veterinarian. They should go for consultations at least once a year, where they can receive injections that protect them against a whole array of feline diseases, as well as vitamin and immune boosters. It also gives your vet a chance to inspect any other potential issues such as dental hygiene. When I last took my cat to the vet, the vet noticed that her teeth were unusually yellow, and there was some evidence of early deterioration. She suggested that I change her food to something specifically tailored towards oral care. The food she’s on now actually cleans her teeth and acts like a kind of toothbrush every time she bites into it. I’ve noticed a lot of differences: her breath smells fresher, which is good for both her and me.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Play time!

Ever notice how much cats love playing, hunting, and stalking? Sometimes, I think my cat would chase anything that moves, provided of course that it’s smaller than her. My cat and I have this game: we stalk each other around the lounge area. She hides behind the couch thinking I can’t see her (when in fact I can make out her tail quite clearly). I slowly stalk her, and she starts stalking me. She wiggles her bum and eventually leaps into the air. I pretend that I’m surprised and run away. She eventually comes round the corner strutting her stuff because she’s the hunter now (and very proud of herself). But sometimes I’m not around, so I leave some nice toys to entertain her while I’m not there. A really clever invention I saw the other day is a furry mouse model filled with catnip. My cat goes nuts for it!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What should you do if your cat’s claws start getting a bit long?

What should you do if your cat’s claws start getting a bit long? It’s a good idea to clip your cat’s claws every now and then: certainly it’s far more humane and caring that declawing. Your cat needs its claws for protection, for climbing up trees and other hard to reach places (both when hunting and fleeing from danger). Trimming down your cat’s claw every now and then can, however, save your furniture some serious damage. Make sure your cat is relaxed when you approach him or her. Hold your cat gently but firmly, and systematically go from claw to claw. If the cat struggles, don’t force it too much. Sometimes you have to do these things in stages. Remember not to clip them too short. What also works is having a friend (someone the cat knows and trusts) tickle or stroke her back while you get on with business of cutting. This helps distract the cat.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Is it true that a cat will always manage to land on its feet?

Is it true that a cat will always manage to land on its feet? In 1894, Etienne-Jules Marey, a French physiologist, held a cat upside down by its legs and dropped it. The film he took, which captured sixty images per second, showed how a cat lands on its feet. As the cat falls, there is an automatic twisting action. The cat maneuvers its head, back, legs and tail to lessen the impact of its fall. Studies show that up to ninety percent of cats that fall from skyscrapers survive, albeit with broken bones. Obviously, if dropped from too high a height, a cat, like any mortal species, will be dead on impact. According to legend, Baldwin III, Count of Ypres, threw some cats from a tower in AD 962. It became something of a tradition to throw cats from a seventy metre tower until 1817. Today, the tradition continues, though toy cats are used. But in 1817, when the last real cats were thrown, the keeper of the town noted that, “in spite of the height of the fall, the animal ran off quickly so that it might never be caught again in a similar ceremony.”