A Letter Regarding Hairballs

Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker!
Long-haired-cat-hairball

A beautiful piece of artwork gifted to my human

Dear Baker,

My humans seem to regard my hairballs as “messy” and “gross.” I don’t understand it. What, aside from a half-eaten sparrow, could be a better symbol of my affection for them? I consider my hairballs a multimedia form of feline artistic expression: the sound, the odour, even the look of these objects d’art meld together to provide a commentary on my innermost feelings. But my humans continuously refer to them as “disgusting furry piles of vomit.” I try to encourage my humans to make full use of my gifts, collect them and perhaps build sculptural pieces, but now my humans have begun discussing a “remedy” for these wonderful little things. Please help, Baker.

Your fan,

Fluffy McFurcloud

cat grooming

Lance demonstrates a good licking

Dear FF,

While it certainly is difficult to comprehend the thoughts that must be going through the minds of our humans, I have good news for you regarding your hairball horror: this “remedy” your humans seek may actually be your free ticket to a better life!

Causes of Hairballs

Cats get hairballs in a good way – through our regular and fastidious grooming routine. The cleaner you keep yourself, the more hair you’ll swallow. Most of our swallowed hair passes through our digestive tract, but occasionally it will accumulate in our belly. When your belly is full of hair, you don’t have room for tuna, so you have to vomit it up.

Remedies for Hairballs

  1. cat brush filled with fluff

    Get rid of excess fur before you swallow it!

    Human assistance with grooming.

If your humans don’t want you swallowing and subsequently barfing up your hair when you groom, they can remove it daily with a brush. This is a win-win situation: you get a daily scritchy massage, and your humans can collect your excess hair before it becomes a sticky, vomity mess.

2. Dietary Changes

taste of the wild

This food is delicious, it makes your coat smooth and shiny, and it has a picture of a mountain lion on it! Yum!

Your coat will improve with an improved diet. Have your humans talk to your vet about purchasing an “indoor” or “hairball” formula. A healthier diet leads to healthier skin, less shedding, and better digestion. Also, it’s yummier! I recommend Royal Canin or Taste of the Wild. Your humans may also be able to give you supplements to aid with your digestion, so your hair passes through more effectively and doesn’t accumulate in your tum.

 

3. Vet visit

Much as I hate to recommend a trip to the vet, where you are likely to get poked with needles and such, if you suspect that you have a grooming problem (too much grooming), it could be a symptom of an underlining psychological or physiological cause. In other words, if you lick yourself too much, have your human take you to the vet for a thorough examination. You may have a skin condition or a parasite, or you might be an overly stressed cat.

So there you have it, you fluffy beast. A few good ways to improve your life and cut down on the hairballs that your humans hate so much!

Baker - ask me anything byline

Have a question about cat life? Ask Baker.

Your pal,

Baker

 

A Letter Regarding Cat Meal and Playtime Schedules

Humans erroneously sleep at night and do stuff during the day.

Dear Baker,

My human is getting on my nerves. She gets angry with us when we wake her up to feed us breakfast, and she doesn’t seem to enjoy midnight play time. Could really use some advice.

Signed,

Hungry in the Morning

baker hiding spot the kitty 2

Baker takes time out from hiding to answer a fan’s advice letter.

Dear Hungry,

It sounds to us like you and your human need to get your schedules in sync. We had the same problem with our human before.

The first problem is getting hungry in the morning. You see, your human feeds you first thing in the morning, so you associate her getting out of bed with your breakfast. Tell your human she needs to schedule your breakfast to occur last in her morning routine, not first. That way you will get used to her shuffling around, making coffee, spraying water on her face, and doing all those bizarre human rituals before you get fed. Then you will realize there’s no point in trying to get her out of bed to feed you.

If humans would learn to sleep all day like normal animals, we wouldn't have so many problems getting them to do stuff at night.

If humans would learn to sleep all day like normal animals, we wouldn’t have so many problems getting them to do stuff at night.

Second, get your human to feed you dinner at about dusk. Humans do not naturally play in the dark like normal animals. They prefer to sleep when it’s dark. If they could learn to sleep all day like we do, we wouldn’t have this problem, but the reality is that many cats all over the world have a scheduling conflict with their humans when it comes to playtime. My point is, if your human feeds you dinner at dusk, then she will have a few hours of darkness with which to play with you before she gets into bed. If you play with your human between dinner and human bed time, you’ll be far less likely to wake up for crazy kitty play time later in the night.

Make sure you have a talk with your human about scheduling. I’m sure it will solve all your problems with her.

Sincerely,

Baker

A Letter regarding Litter Boxes…

lance-in-a-box

Dear Baker,

Recently I’ve been getting these crazy urges to poop outside the box. I hop up onto my human’s bed and the first thing that pops into my mind is, “Here’s a good place to poop!” I know this is wrong, because the goldfish told me the previous cat of the house was kicked out for pooping outside the box. But the litter box is just so unappealing to me! What should I do?

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Please help!

Your fan,

Fluffy, North Carolina

Dear Fluffy,

This “outside the box” dilemma is more common than you might think! First of all, you need to understand that there is nothing wrong with you. You aren’t a naughty or vindictive cat. You’re not trying to use psychology on your humans or punish them. It is possible that you have a urinary tract infection or other physical problem that is making it difficult to get to the litter box in time, so the first step is convincing your humans to take you to the vet.

If there is nothing wrong with your plumbing system, then the next step is to analyze the litter situation in your house. My humans once went on a vacation in Egypt to see the greatest cat of all time, the Sphinx! They report that while on a bus trip they were allowed out of the bus to use the bus-station bathroom, but were appalled at the state of the bathroom — no toilet, just a hole in the floor to squat over, no flusher, just a bucket of water and a scoop, no toilet paper, no soap, no towels, and the smell! My humans were not able to use this third-world plumbing nightmare, and decided to squat in the desert behind the building to do their business instead. Since that trip, they have been much more understanding about our cat litter plights and have provided us with litter boxes that we enjoy using.

If you think the litter in your house could use an upgrade, print off the information below and leave it somewhere your humans are likely to find it, such as on the fridge door or a pillow.

The Three Facets of Pleasant Pooping

1. Location

Your litter box should be easily accessible from all areas of the home and have a good view of the surrounding area.
Humans like to have the litter box hidden away, out of sight, and out of smell, perhaps thinking that cats, like their human friends, like to poop in privacy. But cats prefer to poop out in the open so that while they are in the very vulnerable position required, they can keep a wary eye on their surroundings. This is especially important to large wild cats like lions and pumas, but housecats have the same instincts as their wild cousins and like to be able to scan the house for intruders while squatting.
Plus, if the litter box is located in the basement behind the furnace, it might be too far for some cats, especially the elderly or young, to go when they hear the call of nature. A good litter box is an accessible litter box. If your house is very large, you may choose to have two litter boxes in different areas of the house, perhaps one upstairs and one downstairs, for example.

2. The Box

Litter boxes should be large and open with high sides to keep litter in, and a lower doorway area to allow easy access.
Humans prefer a covered box, to keep the smell from reaching their delicate noses, but they don’t always realize that the cat’s nose is even more delicate than theirs. A covered litter box is not pleasing to many cats. As well as for the reason mentioned above (personal safety), no cat wants to sit in a dark, stinky cave to do his business. The best way to keep the litter box from getting stinky is to remove poop every day and replace all litter at least once a week. A clean litter box doesn’t need a cover.
A multi-cat household should have more than one litter box, and these boxes should be strategically placed around the house. Some cats don’t mind sharing a litter box, but others prefer to have their own pooping territory. Also, some cats are impatient when it comes to pooping and will find another place to answer the call rather than wait their turn. A general rule is one box per cat plus one extra.
If your humans have had the same boxes available for your pooping pleasure for many years, they might just be getting old and scratched up, or permeated with a smell that will not wash out. I recommend purchasing new litter boxes from time to time.
While it is helpful to periodically clean the litter box, fresh water and a scrub with a brush will suffice. Most kitties will turn up their noses at the strong smell of Dettol, bleach, or Pinesol in the box.

3. The Litter

A decent layer, not too thick, of your substrate of choice will make pooping more pleasurable.
Some humans like a plain white toilet, while others prefer one with a wooden seat, fluffy seat cover, or even a seat heater. Once, my humans had a clear resin toilet seat with seashells and plastic fish inside. My point is, every cat has his preference when it comes to the litter he squats in. What is my personal favourite, you ask? Crystals. They absorb liquid and odour. Some cats prefer to dig in a smaller substrate and others prefer larger pieces. Humans seem to be fond of clumping litter, but not all cats are comfortable with digging through the lumps. The trick here is to try a variety of different litters until you find the one that you like most, and then stick to it. Multi-cat households might have different litters in different boxes to appeal to the varying personalities of those who will dig and squat in them.

Most cats prefer one and a half to two inches of litter. Too much litter in the box can be overwhelming.

Many cats are turned off by scented litters or air fresheners. Again, the scent of a clean, well-scooped litter box is most pleasing to a cat’s nose. If your litter of choice is not very good at hiding or eliminating odours, your humans should try sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda into the box before adding the litter.

Oddly, many humans do not like to have little bits of cat litter treaded throughout the house, although I personally find them decorative and fun to play with. The solution is to put a mat outside the litter box to catch bits from between the toes. My humans have a robot vacuum which picks up the stray bits of litter, and is fun to watch.

If your humans have tried everything listed above and you still feel the urge to poop outside the box, you may need to visit a cat behaviourist. Your vet should be able to hook you up. Good luck, and happy pooping!

Your pal,

Baker

– By K.I Borrowman

The Spot the Kitty Nail Cutting Guide…

Step 1 – Preparing preparations for the purrrfect kitty cat prevents panicking…

The day of days is here: nail cutting day. For most cat owners, this is a very happy day as it means that the little rascal kitty will finally stop clawing at furniture and be less scratchy to play with. For cats, on the other hand, this day is dreaded as it means that they will no longer be able to claw at furniture or scratch their humans. By now you and your cat should be fairly comfortable with one another because in order to do this, trust and calmness is a must. However, it is important to establish a manicure routine with your cat from a young age so he/she will get used to it.
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You will need:

  • A pair of nail clippers
  • A supply of your kitty’s favorite treats

    You can buy nail clippers from the vet that are specifically designed for trimming animal nails, or you can use household clippers (as long as they are clean, sharp, and in good working condition).

    Kitties love routine, so, if you choose a place to cut the kitties nails that you both find comfortable, you can use this spot again and again as this will establish a routine and will be less stressful on your cat when you cut their nails in the future. After finding a comfortable spot, give the kitty a treat and lay it on its back, paws up, on your lap like so…

baker-from-spot-the-kitty-about-to-get-his-claws-clipped

 Step 2 – The Cat owner’s Everest…

Now that your kitty cat is on its back and has been fed a treat, gently lift its paw and squeeze gently until the nail protrudes outwards and is fully exposed. Using your nail clippers, only clip the very tip of the nail, as clipping any deeper may expose the quick of the nail, which is very painful for the cat and can lead to infection. You can see the quick through the nail as the nails are translucent. The quick should be dark pink. Avoid cutting the quick. Give treats after you trim the nails on each paw and encourage your kitty with soothing words using the same tone of voice that you would to speak to a crying child.

If you do cut the quick, the nail will bleed. Stop the bleeding with a styptic stick or powder, which can be purchased at a drug store in the shaving section. Cornstarch can also be applied to a bleeding kitty nail.

where-to-cut

after-cutting

Step 3 – That wasn’t so hard, was it?

kitty-treats-nom-nom-nom

Enjoy your accomplishment and give your kitty his or her favorite treat – hard treats or some tinned food – for being so brave! That is of course, after you give yourself a big pat on the back for doing what many people pay professional groomers to do.

Monitor your kitty cat and make sure to take him/her to the vet if there is any damage (bleeding, etc…) to their claws. Generally speaking, if you followed the steps then Fluffy should be fine.

– By K.I Borrowman

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