Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Stick to Real Food, Kitty

I used to work at a Cat Clinic, so I've seen a lot of cute Christmas cards showing cats drinking from a saucer of milk and kittens rolling around with balls of yarn. They are all adorable! As a technician, I still see these as cute, but I also know that feeding milk to adult cats can cause stomach upset. Playing with yarn (or string or dental floss or tinsel) leads to eating yarn which leads to intestinal obstruction which leads to exploratory surgery. How do we find safe toys for our cats?

First, we want to discourage our cats from chewing on anything inappropriate, most particularly plants, as many household plants can be poisonous for cats. Cayenne pepper,'bitter apple' spray from the pet store, or lemon extract can be spread on surfaces to discourage kittens. If you sew, you should know that we often see cats (even adult cats) who have swallowed needles and thread. Offer appropriate toys so your cats can find something better for playtime.

Cat toys with feathers or sparklies on the end of a string are some of the best toys for cats to play with under supervision. They stimulate natural predatory play and provide exercise for even the fattest lap cat. Even these toys, though, are best used only when supervised. Fun toys often end up in pieces after a very short time, and some of those pieces can need to be surgically removed from your cat. We once had a client arrive home to see her kitten tangled up in a springy toy hanging from a door. Luckily, her kitten was O.K., but that toy came right down. If you keep a fun toy hidden until playtime, it seems new and exciting every time! Last but not least, actively playing with your cat strengthens your bond.

Kelley Wagner, CVT

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