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Feline facts and nutrition
Dr. Zita Doeschner
Cats are special, unique and often mysterious animals.
Test your feline knowledge with this short quizz!
1. True domestication of cats started:
a) about 10000 years ago in the Middle East
b) in Egypt about 3600 years ago
c) in Scandinavia about 2000 years ago
2. At age 1 a cat's age in human years is:
a) 4-5 years
b) 8-10 years
c) 15-18 years
3. Cats adult teeth start erupting at the age of:
a) 1 month
b) 3.5 – 6 months
c) 7-9 months
4. One of the best toys for a cat is:
a) a fishing pole toy
b) stuffy mouse
c) rubber ball
5. The territory of the average domestic cat is roughly the size of:
a) a living room
b) a soccer field
c) cats are not very territorial
6. A cat's natural diet in the wild consists of:
a) one large meal every second day
b) 8-10 small meals per day
c) 2 medium sized meals per day
7. Arthritis often develops in cats over the age of
c) cats don't get arthritis
8. Cats are most receptive to forming human bonds and learning new things at the age of:
a) 2-8 weeks
b) 3-4 months
c) 6-9 months
How did you do?
Here are the correct answers:
The earliest true record of feline domestication comes from a cat that was found deliberately buried with its owner in a grave in cyprus about 9500 years ago!
Cats age rapidly during their first year of life- up to 18 cat years in human terms. Then their maturity slows to approximately 3-5 cat years for every human year. So a 5 year old cat is about 32 in human terms whereas a 13 year old cat is around 65!
The middle upper incisor teeth start changing at 14-16 weeks. The last adult teeth to come in are the largest premolar teeth at about 6 months of age.
Cats are play hunters. Fishing pole toys are the most fun and provide lots of exercise especially for indoor cats. The toy at the end can imitate the noise of a flapping bird's wings. Allow your cat to pounce, catch it and bat it around (but watch that especially kittens won't ingest the string), then start again. Feed your cat some canned food after to mimic what would happen after a real hunt!
Cats are very territorial animals and like to have lots of space- to themselves!
Be aware that they will want to defend their territory and will not necessarily tolerate other cats in the same household or neighbourhood.
Therefore it might be difficult for multiple cats to live in one household especially if they don't have access to the outdoors. Signs of cats not getting along include urine spraying (they might be trying to tell you that they don't feel secure any longer and that something is causing them to become stressed) or inter-cat aggression. So consider it carefully before introducing another cat into your household. Follow the rule 'one per cat plus one extra' in regards to all their resources (feeding/water bowls, litter boxes, resting places and spaces, toys etc) if you already have multiple cats.
Cats prefer to eat multiple small meals high in protein and fat throughout the day (and night!).They are strict carnivores. In the wilderness their diet would consist of about 80% rodents (and the occasional bird) and 20% insects. The average kibble is 2-3 kcal vs the average calorie content of a mouse is 20-30 kcal. With that logic your cat would need about 8 meals per day consisting of 10-12 kibble!
Feeding balls (for example 'play-n-Treat' balls) or puzzle feeders are a great way to provide multiple small meals in a playful way. They will stimulate your cats natural curiosity while providing extra exercise, which is particularly important for indoor cats.
Also consider feeding your cat some wet food, which is higher in protein and has a high water content mimicking their natural diet. It will keep your cat full for longer and better hydrated, which is particularly important for male cats. In addition, feeding good quality canned food will often help overweight cats to lose weight.
Studies have shown that 90 % of cats over 12 years of age have arthritic changes in their joints.
Cats are masters at hiding illness and pain so signs of arthritis can be very subtle. Some of the signs include: reluctance or hesitation to jump up or down, difficulty using the litter box or cat door, stiffness when waking up, increased time spent sleeping and indoors, irritability or grumpiness. Limping is (in comparison to dogs) not a common sign of arthritis in cats.
Kittens which don't experience people or human activities during their first 8 weeks of life may never be able to accept them as part of their normal life. So a young kitten which hasn't been handled by several people and experienced everyday things like different noises, smells, car rides, other pets etc. may automatically see them as something threatening later on in life.
Introducing different shapes of kibbles as well as wet food at an early age will help cats to accept changes in their diet easier later on in life. Introducing different kinds of non-scented litters is also a good idea.
Www.icatcare.org is an excellent website, which will answer all your questions about feline health, behaviour and wellbeing.
Eco-Friendly Ways to Keep Cats Out of Your Garden
(excerpts from the David Suzuki Foundation Queen of Green)
Cats prefer to walk on soft surfaces and will avoid prickly surfaces. Make your garden into a less inviting litter box with the following prickly solutions:
- Cover the garden in twigs places a few inches apart throughout
- Push pine cones or other prickly yard trimmings into the soil around your plants
- Lay chicken wire over the beds or re-use the mesh produce bags from onions or potatoes by spreading them on the garden and anchoring with twigs.
- Push wooden chopsticks down into the soil creating an obstacle course
Use Scent to Keep the Cats Away
- Interplant in the garden. Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender & pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme. Plant a few of these throughout the garden space.
- Cats steer clear of strong citrus scents. Place citrus peels directly on the garden
- The scent of human hair deters cats. Empty your brushes onto the garden.
- DO NOT USE MOTHBALLS – they are toxic to humans and cats.
- Use predator urine like wolf or coyote to keep cats away.
Make a Cat-Away Spray
- Mix up 1 tsp each of black pepper, dry mustard & cinnamon in a spray bottle with a few drops of citrus essential oil and a crushed garlic clove. Fill to the top with water and spray onto your garden beds.
Create an Outdoor Litter Box
- Cats love mint, honeysuckle & catnip. Why not plant a small, separate, cat-friendly garden that includes a variety of these plants? You can place a small sandbox nearby for the kitties to use as a litter box. You’ll still have to clean it out but it will help keep the cats out of your gardens.