Halloween Cat Safety Tips

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Halloween is a fun day for humans, but cats may become spooked (no pun intended!) by the altered appearance of their families. If your cat does not appear to recognize you and your children when you’re in costume, use caution when approaching him or her.

Dressing up pets in costumes

Some people like to dress up not only themselves, but their kitties, too, for Halloween (or other holidays). Because wearing a costume might be uncomfortable or frightening to your cat, introduce the costume slowly. Start by taking the costume out of the packaging and allow it to air out. Costumes may have strong smells that cats can be sensitive to. Lay the costume on the floor and allow all house pets to sniff it. If your pet avoids the costume, shows no interest, or is fearful, put treats or a favorite toy near the costume to make it a positive experience for your pet. If your pet walks up to the costume, praise him/her and provide treats. Wait until your pet is comfortable with the costume before attempting to dress your pet. If you have multiple pets, put the pets who aren’t going to dress up in a secured room. The reason for this is that your other pets may become stressed or fearful and have unexpected defensive behavior during the dressing-up process. The process of dressing your pet should be done in steps and using repetition. If the costume has more than one piece, try one piece a day. For example, on the first day practice putting on the cape, and repeat. On the following day, practice putting on the hat and repeat. The next day, try putting on the cape and the hat. During this process, remember to provide praise, encouragement and treats. If your pet demonstrates fear, stress, and/or defensive behavior during the process, your pet may not be comfortable dressing up. Be respectful to your pet.

Cats and Halloween candy

You probably know that candy can make your pets sick, which means you should always keep it out of reach of your pets, but be especially cautious on this holiday, when there’s so much of it around. You can encourage pet involvement in Halloween by making homemade cat treats for your own animals and for other people’s pets. (Just make sure they’re clearly labeled as pet treats.)

Keeping pets inside and safe on Halloween

Finally, cats should be kept inside on Halloween. If a lot of people will be coming to your door, put your pets in a quiet room with the door shut, perhaps with some soothing music playing, to prevent them from escaping into the night. Keeping them in a closed room will also minimize the fright they might get from loud voices and wild costumes.

Saving Kittens with Artificial Intelligence


Saving Kittens with Artificial Intelligence

Our Research and Development team has been working on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence systems to help save orphaned kittens – They launched their beta script in March 2018.

The program dubbed “CATbot” is an AI system that is designed to assist individuals who have no experience with caring for neonatal kittens or even what to do when they find an orphaned kitten.

CATbot is built with a Machine Learning algorithm that learns with each new interaction – both positive and negative. The algorithm uses dialogue flows to direct the users in the right direction: i.e. “I found a Kitten. What do I do?” which, in turn will execute a particular set of commands to properly “walk” the user through the steps necessary on what to do with the given situation.

Users can ask it a variety of questions using natural speech as well as use prompts given by CATbot incase it doesn’t understand that you’re asking it to do. If you ask it something and it doesn’t answer correctly, it’ll try and learn it and get add it to it’s database. It’ll also prompt the developers to teach it more information centered around what users have asked and it failed to answer.

CATbot is still in beta testing but is available to the public. A few things it can assist you with range from How to Bottle Feed a Kitten, how to Make Emergency Formula, and has an array of “signs & symptoms” on kitten illness and diseases. Though it’s still in beta, I highly recommend everyone to go and try it out. Ask it questions, and play around. The more interaction it gets the better it gets. And the more it learns, the better service it can provide to assist in saving abandoned kittens.

I’m really excited and proud to have been a part of this the development of this project, and look forward to the impact it has on saving the lives of abandoned kittens. CATbot’s framework is currently built for Orphaned Kittens, but is in development to include adult cats protocols, feral, TNR, and  general feline information.

If you’d like to help CATbot learn new information and save more orphaned kittens, visit the link below and start a conversation within CATbot’s Facebook Messenger.

➡ Chat with CATbot Meow ⬅

How Long Do Cats Live? And How to Help Your Cat Live Longer

If you’re a cat owner, particularly a new cat owner, it’s natural to wonder how long your feline friend will be with you. Just how long does the average cat live?

With advances in medicine and nutrition, cats are living longer than ever before. It’s not unusual today to see a cat live well into its 20s. As a health care provider, that’s encouraging and heartening. The cats that currently live with me are only now starting to approach their early teens. However, several of the cats that I’ve shared my life with lived into their late teens, with one approaching 23 years old before he passed.

Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats

It’s difficult to discuss average life span for a pet cat without first discussing the differences between a pet cat that lives indoors and a cat that lives or spends a great deal of time outdoors unsupervised. For these cats, the life span can be much shorter. An outdoor life exposes your cat to a number of dangers that a cat living indoors simply doesn’t face. These risks include infectious diseases, poisons, exposure to the elements, and injuries from vehicles, dogs, wild animals, or even people. Cats living outdoors are also prey to some of the wild animals that now live even in our more urban communities.

Buy Quality Cat Food

Providing a high-quality, balanced, and complete diet is one of the most important things you can do to keep your cat healthy and ensure a long life. The diet should also be appropriate for your cat’s life stage and lifestyle. For instance, a kitten should be consuming a diet that supports growth while an older cat may require fewer calories or even have health issues that require dietary restrictions or additions. The nutritional needs of each cat are different. In addition, it is important to avoid overfeeding your cat. Your veterinarian can help you choose a diet appropriate for your individual cat based on his age, reproductive status (i.e., neutered or spayed), health, and other factors.

Water Consumption is Important, Too!

You may not have thought of this before, but many cats do not consume adequate amounts of water without encouragement. Encourage water consumption for your cat through the use of canned foods (which have a higher moisture content than kibble), water fountains, dripping faucets, or by adding water to the dry cat food.

Don’t Forget to Exercise

Keeping your cat lean and fit is another contributing factor to giving your cat a long and healthy life. Overweight cats are prone to a number of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, skin disease, respiratory disease, and more. Put aside time each day to encourage your cat to exercise through interactive play. You can also encourage exercise through the use of food puzzles.

Unsure if your cat is overweight? Try out petMD’s Healthy Weight tool.

Considering Spaying/Neutering Your Cat (if You Haven’t Already)

Spaying and neutering increases the life span of cats, according to the 2013 Banfield Pet Hospital Report. An added benefit for cats that are spayed or neutered is a lower tendency for developing annoying or even intolerable behavioral issues such as marking or spraying.

Provide Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat

Environmental enrichment is a must for all cats, especially indoor cats. Living indoors, though safer than living outside, can also contribute to boredom for your cat. Enrichment includes scratching posts, perches, toys, and other things that stimulate your cat’s mind and alleviate boredom.

Keep Your Cat’s Teeth Clean

Oral care is frequently overlooked, particularly for cats. However, it is extremely important to look after your cat’s teeth and mouth. The majority of cats over the age of three already have some degree of dental disease. Dental disease can be painful and may even prevent your cat from eating normally.

Proper oral care involves both home care as well as regular veterinary care. It’s likely your veterinarian will need to anesthetize your cat in order to do a thorough oral examination and properly clean your cat’s teeth. Cats can have dental problems that occur under the gum line and cause pain, which may go unnoticed as cats tend to hide the fact that they are in pain. Without anesthesia, it is impossible for your veterinarian to find these problems and treat them to relieve any dental pain your cat may be experiencing. Your veterinarian can also help you establish a home care routine for your cat. This may include brushing the teeth, oral wipes, oral rinses, and other options.

Regular Veterinary Visits Are Necessary

All cats require regular veterinary visits, not only for dental examinations but for a thorough examination of your cat from nose to tail. Cats are masters of disguise when it comes to disease. Even the most observant cat owner may be unable to spot the early signs of illness. However, your veterinarian is trained to look for these signs. Your veterinarian also has the advantage of being able to perform blood, urine, fecal, and other testing that you cannot do at home for your cat. Help your cat live longer and schedule annual veterinary checkups.

5 Dangerous Foods for Cats

While we may consider cats to be members of our family, treating them as such at mealtimes can cause more injury to them than just spoiling their dinners. Here’s a look at the five most dangerous foods for your cat, how they affect their bodies, and what to do in case of an emergency.

1. Onions/Garlic

Onions and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells and lead to anemia in cats, Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center says. “Cats tend to be much pickier eaters as opposed to dogs, but we’ve seen cats eat an entire cup of caramelized onions.”

Although the size of the dose determines the level of poisoning, lethargy and a reduced appetite can be symptoms of a toxic reaction. The sooner you diagnose potential poisoning in cats the better, so if they’re acting strangely don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.

2. Raw Eggs

Similarly to people, consumption of raw eggs can lead to salmonella in cats, according to Dr. Wismer. Symptoms of the disease will vary but can include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Salmonella can also be transmitted to humans from animals, making it even more important to keep your cat away from eggs and to properly wash your hands after baking or cooking with raw eggs.

3. Alcohol

Cats tend to be attracted to drinks with milk or cream in them, Dr. Wismer says, making your holiday White Russian a potentially toxic substance if consumed by your pet. Cocktails aside, alcohol can also be found in desserts and can be created in your cat’s stomach if they ingest homemade or store bought yeast dough used in making bread, rolls, and pizza. Even small amount of alcohol (both ingested through alcoholic beverages and produced in the stomach) can be life threatening, making it important to call your vet before you notice any serious poisoning symptoms like seizures.

4. Raw Fish

Like raw eggs, raw meat and fish can cause food poisoning in cats. Additionally, raw fish contains a compound that breaks down thiamine, an important B1 vitamin for cats that, when missing, can cause serious neurological problems in your cat, Dr. Wismer says.

“Pets aren’t just small, fluffy humans,” says Dr. Wismer. “They have different dietary requirements and metabolize things differently [than people]. Talk to your vet about the things you should or shouldn’t feed your pets.”

5. Tuna

A diet rich in tuna can not only cause mercury poisoning in your cat (just like people) but can also leave them malnourished because it doesn’t contain all of the important vitamins and minerals your cat needs, Dr. Wismer says. A bite now and then won’t hurt them, but it’s best to steer clear of tuna as a main source of your cat’s diet.

If you believe you pet has ingested a toxic substance, call the ASPCA animal poison control center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-213-6680. Both phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.