How Dogs Eat

Dogs are passionate about food and that’s reflected in how dogs eat and how they drink.  In fact, many dogs will eat anything that doesn’t move faster than they do, and it’s up to owners to ensure the canine diet is appropriate.

How Dogs Eat

The canine style of eating is rooted in evolution.  Dog ancestors hunted in packs and required large animal prey to sustain the group. The mouse or rabbit an individual might catch was eaten outright, but larger animals posed a problem. What wasn’t eaten immediately drew scavengers ready and willing to steal leftovers out of canine mouths. That’s one reason many dogs gobble their food.

That’s why most modern dogs are gorgers.  Like their ancestors, dogs can eat huge quantities of food at one time.  Such a meal would last wild canines several days, which meant they didn’t need to hunt or eat as often.  Modern hunting breeds — Labrador Retrievers and Beagles are notorious — tend to be gorgers that gulp mouthfuls of food without chewing until they reach the bottom of the bowl.

Healthy treats for dog dental health

Dogs enjoy chewing, so a carrot can be a healthy snack.

Dogs Love Veggies!

Dog ancestors also developed the ability to benefit from vegetables, which is why modern canines share the human enthusiasm for sweet foods. Sweetness is the signal that a plant has reached ultimate ripeness and highest nutrient value. This diet flexibility gave dogs an edge in survival by allowing them to eat whatever was at hand.

A dog’s teeth are designed for an omnivorous diet, that is, one composed of both animals and vegetables. Dagger-shaped canine teeth hold and slash prey, while the small incisors across the front of the jaw gnaw flesh from bone. Molars crush bone, shear meat, and grind vegetable matter. Drinking is accomplished by curling the tongue into a backward spoon to suction up liquid.  In this way your dog throws water up into his mouth, and swallows every two to three laps.

FrostyBowlz

Feeding Dogs On Schedule

Dogs are happy to eat anytime — or, all the time — but it’s healthier and easier for you to manage feeding on a routine basis. Feed your dog in the same place and at the same time every day. Most dogs consider eating a social event, and enjoy company while dining.

However, if you have more than one pet, competition may be a problem. Dogs tend to eat more when another pet is present because of their gorger mentality; if I don’t eat it, he will. Make sure each pet has his own bowl, and feed them at separate ends of the kitchen, or even in separate rooms, if necessary. Plenty of clean water should be available at all times.

Great Dane and bloat

Managing meals can reduce the risk of canine bloat in Great Danes and other dogs.

Are your dogs picky eaters? Do they come and go from the food bowl, or gulp mouthfuls at a time? Magic used to get sick and URPS yellow bile if he waits too long to eat. And Bravo would eat everything, then get excited and lose his lunch. Shadow-Pup appears to be a picky eater, and refuses to munch until he’s sure we’ve finished our human meal and there’s nothing for him.

What are your dogs’ eating habits? Do they eat dirt or other weird things? Do tell!

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How Cats Eat

How cats eat and their cat bowl preferences seems the next logical post in a series of blogs that have covered how dogs eat, as well as how cats hunt. The cat that must hunt for his food typically catches small game like mice, rats, or rabbits, crouches over the kill, and swallows small prey headfirst, fur, feathers and all. If the cat is able to rarely nab a bird, it may be plucked first to remove obnoxious tail feathers. Rabbit-size prey are eaten more slowly.

cat huntHow Cats Eat

The cat’s teeth are designed for a carnivorous lifestyle. The dagger-shaped canine teeth are used to kill, while the tiny incisors across the front of the jaw pluck feathers or skin from the prey. Rather than chewing, cats shear off manageable portions of food with their molars, then swallow these chunks. The specialized teeth are located in the side of the cat’s mouth, so Kitty typically tilts his head to the side while eating. Nibbling with incisors and licking with his rough tongue rasps off smaller pieces.

Cats tend to be intermittent feeders, or grazers—rather than gorgers (like dogs). Healthy cats eat several small meals throughout the day. A typical meal of dry food might consist of half a dozen kibbles or so—about the nutritional value of a mouse. That’s why I prefer to feed Karma-Kat with feeder like the Doc & Phoebe No Bowl solution. It mimics the way cats hunt. Some food-obsessed cats gobble food, though, which can lead to problems.

how cats drink

How Cats Drink

To drink, the cat uses his water-absorbent tongue curled into a spoon shape. Kitty laps up liquid creating an efficient bio-mechanical process that creates a column of liquid they swallow before gravity sucks it back into the bowl. They swallow after every four or five laps. Larger cats lap more slowly than smaller cats to adjust for the size/process.

A bowl of clean water should be available at all times. A water fountain may be an ideal solution–especially to keep cats from drinking from the toilet! Learn more about kitty drinking technique in this post.

Why Cats Hate Cold Food

Cats relish food that is body or room temperature—the same as prey. Food cooler than this may be refused, or even vomited when eaten cold, so always allow refrigerated foods to warm before serving. A few seconds in the microwave often helps, but don’t overheat.

Do your cats prefer room temp foods or will they gnosh on refrigerated items? For a while just due to easy storage, I kept Seren’s dry food in the freezer and she didn’t seem to mind.

Some cats share food bowls with no problem, but dinner time is less stressful when everyone has his own place. When you have more than one cat, feed them in separate bowls some distance apart to help avoid confrontations.

how cats eatCAT BOWL PREFERENCE

Several bowl choices are available, from trendy designer crockery to paper plates. Consider what the cat likes before making your choice.

Cats dislike chasing a lightweight bowl over the floor. They are turned off by a dirty or smelly dish. Longhaired and flat-faced cats prefer shallow bowls that allow them to eat to the bottom without bending their whiskers or getting their face messy.

Plastic bowls tend to hold odors, are hardest to keep clean, and their light weight allows them to slide around the floor. Some cats may suffer skin problems like acne resulting from plastic food bowls.

United States-made ceramic bowls are better choices because of their solid weight and ease in cleaning. The glazes in ceramic bowls manufactured in some foreign countries, though, may contain lead.

Heavy non-breakable glass bowls are also good choices, and cats may drink more water from glass containers because they like the taste. But care must be taken if the glass is breakable.

Stainless Steel Cat Bowl, the Cats Meow

Stainless steel bowls are the choice of veterinary clinics because they are easily sterilized and are non-breakable. The FrostyBowlz is one of the best products I’ve seen, in which the insert can be frozen to keep food and water chilled and fresh. See what Seren thinks of the bowl, below. Some cats object to the taste of water or food offered in such containers, though. You may need to experiment before finding a safe, practical alternative for your cat.

What sort of bowl or dish do you serve to your cats? Do they care or are they persnickety? Do tell!


 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? 

NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Frig Fails & Dryer Danger! How to Keep Pets Safe From Appliances

Are your pets safe from appliances? Stoves and ovens, dishwashers, clothes dryers, garbage disposals and other appliances are convenient for us but can prove deadly to cats and dogs. While the photos in today’s blog make us smile, the “what if” makes me shiver, because I know they represent tragedy waiting to happen.

Bravo-Dawg does his best to “pre-wash” the dishes, like the puppy in the picture, below. But any small pet could potentially climb inside when you’re distracted. And that could be lethal.

dog in dishwasher

Anything your puppy can reach is potential for problems! Image © Lisa Calvert/Flickr

4 REASONS PETS LOVE APPLIANCES

  1. FOOD & SMELL. Do you give your pets the chance at a “first rinse” before putting dirty dishes in the washer? (raising hand…GUILTY). Just licking off or pawing food-smeared utensils can cut tongues or paws. A tiny pup or kitty could crawl inside after yummies, and be seriously injured or die when the machine turns on.
  2. HEIGHT. Do your cats countertop cruise? A couple of things draw the kitty to scale the heights. Available food, yummy smells, and a GREAT perch lookout.
  3. WARMTH. Stoves, ovens, and clothes dryers draw cats, especially to the warmth. Yep, it can make for some LOL Funny Cat moments, but not if the cat or dog ends up with burned feet or worse.
  4. HIDEY-HOLES. Pets seem drawn to small enclosed spaces for naps or ambushes. Paw-poking into holes is a cat rule, while dogs enjoy nosing into tight spots as well.
cat on stove

Sprout apparently hasn’t had enough coffee! Image Copr Kim Smith/Flickr Commons

Funny–NOT Funny! Keep Pets Safe From Appliances

When I edited one of the stories in Chicken Soup for the Cat Lover’s Soul, it made me turn green–and we had to preface the story with the note that “it’s a happy ending!” or folks likely wouldn’t have wanted to read it. The cat in that story went head-first into the garbage disposal after fishy leavings and got his head stuck. They had to remove the entire sink and take it to the vet clinic for the cat to be sedated, oiled up, and extricated. Funny story when it’s a happy ending. I’ve caught Karma-Kat sticking his paw down into the garbage disposal, too, yikes!

Sadly, not all funny stories end so well.

cat in dryer

As far as I know, Audley’s adventure in the tumble dryer turned out fine. Image Copr. RaGeBe/Flickr

Cats And Dryers

My friend Mary McCauley sent me a message last week that broke my heart. This post is for Mary and her kitty friend, Boo:

“Amy, a few weeks ago our beautiful young cat had climbed into the dryer. My son turned it on. I heard a loud thumping and thought the washing machine was out of balance. I found Boo in the dryer. Blood was coming out of her mouth. She was convulsing. I ran up the stairs to get my keys, but she died in my arm. I tried rescue breathing and cardiac resuscitation with two fingers, but she was gone. I cried for two days. Please warn your readers about this danger. My son felt so guilty for a few weeks.”

Accidents happen, and our pets can get into trouble in the flick of a whisker. Cats are furry heat-seeking missiles and I have no doubt that Karma-Kat would do the same thing, given the opportunity. Even Bravo loves to dive into the pile of fresh-from-the-dryer clean clothes dumped onto my bed for folding. A ride inside the dryer could cause not only head and body injuries but also heatstroke.
cat in refrigerator

Pets In Freezers? Oh no!

A day after I got Mary’s message, my husband called me into the kitchen to shoot this photo (below) of Karma-Kat. He’s a door dasher and often sprints into the pantry to gnaw through the dog food container–but the frig fail was new.

Karma is big enough, the chance of shutting him inside the frig is small–but it could happen. Left overnight in the refrigerator–or worse, inside the freezer!–could quickly result in hypothermia and death. I’m just hoping he doesn’t learn to open the frig himself. I know of one owner who resorted to a bungee cord around the frig to keep her cats out of the goodies.

Pet Proofing Appliances

So what’s a responsible pet parent to do? Pet proofing your home is job one, especially when you have a clueless puppy or kitten. But it doesn’t stop when the cat or dog grows up. Pets are endlessly curious and always find new ways to get into trouble and push our buttons. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your pets safe around modern conveniences.

  1. Baby gates keep pets away from danger zones. I lock the fur-kids out of the kitchen when cooking and clearing up, to prevent paw burns on stovetops or me spilling something hot on them when they wind around my feet.
  2. Double-check washing machines and clothes dryers before hitting the “start” button. If your pet is inside, don’t pull them out immediately. Instead, BANG-BANG-BANG on the top to make a horrendous scary racket and watch them rocket out. Most pets won’t get near that scary thing ever again.
  3. If you have hard-case pets, make a sign to stick on doors of appliances to remind kids, spouses, and guests to CHECK FOR CAT. That’ll be a fun conversation starter, too. 🙂
  4. Invest in stovetop covers to protect kitty feet. One of the best ways to keep pets from cruising counters and stoves is to give them a cat tree that’s higher than the counters. Make the stovetop uncomfortable by spreading aluminum foil across the top, for instance.

Have you ever caught your dog or cat up close and personal with one of your appliances? How did you handle the situation, and prevent future problems? Do tell!

And please–if you love your cats and dogs as much as Mary loved Boo–share this warning far and wide and tell folks it’s in memory of a special Boo-kitty.

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers.   Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE

Cat Litter-ary Choices: History of Cat Litter

The innovation of cat litter meant our kitties could move inside, permanently. Today, there are many cat litter options, but that wasn’t always the case. Cat litter choices can make or break a kitty-human relationship. Litter box problems plague many cat lovers. What goes in your cat box? I’m not talking about Sheba’s “creative efforts” or the dog diving for those special kitty treats, but the substrate she likes to dig.

Cat Litter History: In the Beginning…

Did you know that indoor cat toilets are a relatively recent innovation? Most cats spent time outside and did their business in the dirt. The inside felines might be accommodated with a box of sand or perhaps ashes. Can you imagine the sooty footprints?

Teach kittens early to do the right thing…in the box! Find out more about kitten litter box training here.

The First Cat Litter

Back in the winter of 1947 in Cassopolis, Michigan, a cat owner’s sand pile froze, and she got tired of using ashes for her pet. She visited the local hardware that sold industrial absorbents including sawdust and filler’s earth (a type of clay). Edward Lowe suggested using clay instead of sand for the cat–and it turned into a multi-billion dollar industry after his introduction of the original Kitty Litter, and later Tidy Cats and Scamp. Purina bought the brands much later and expanded the market even further.

From humble beginnings at 65-cents per 5-pound bag, today cat owners find a smorgasbord of litter choices. But what you like and what Sheba prefers may not agree. We’re all about odor control and convenience. Cats just want something soft to dig in, that doesn’t offend their noses. Strong perfumes and dust can turn them off. And we all know what happens when Sheba shuns the box–we have to change the carpet!

2-cat litter comparison-1-30-08

There are 14 different kinds of litter–and I took that photo about 20 years ago, when writing a litter comparison article. Just imagine how many MORE kinds now!

Kinds of Cat Litter

You can still find plain clay litter. Cats love the clumping clay litters because of their fine texture. Humans love ‘em for their ease of scooping waste. But clay litters get dusty–they’re dirt, after all. The finer stuff tracks more, too, especially if it catches in very furry cat feet. The most common additive to make it clump, called sodium bentonite, can pose a risk to mouthy kittens that taste everything or to dogs intent on raiding the box.

To answer the demands of eco-friendly owners, you can find edible and biodegradable litters made from corn, wheat, paper, cedar chips, and even citrus. I’m a bit perplexed, frankly, by the citrus litters since most cats hate the smell and I recommend citrus as a feline deterrent. *shrug* Some of the corn and wheat products cats accept pretty well. Next week I’ve got a post about a new kind that Seren’s testing…so far, so good.

Cat Litter Reviews & More

I’ve reviewed a number of cat litter products that promote odor control to innovative lightweight versions. Now if they could just invent a cat litter that cats loved but repelled dogs to keep the canines from eating poop! (If you’ve got that problem, check out this solution that works for my house!). If the cat misses the mark, you’ll want to read these tips on eliminating carpet smell and stains.

Bottom line–the best litter in the world ain’t worth spit if your kitten or cat won’t use it. Litter with a strong odor, too much dust, or other issues may turn your litter into a forbidden zone. Cats love routine, so if your cat’s happy with the facilities and tends to be persnickity, don’t mess with success. Unless you want new carpets.

What kinds of litter does your cat prefer? Would you rather use something else–environmentally conscious paper, perhaps? How do you reconcile the cat’s needs with your own $$ or other concerns? Do tell!

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Cat Grooming Tips: How To Bathe Cats

Bathe cats, are you INSANE?! Well…not really. Besides, I found that picture and just had to share. But just because the cat says, “No way!” doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Karma-Kat is a weenie when it comes to getting wet. He’s gotten into the bad habit of standing on top of his “puddles” while digging to cover them in the litter box. As a result, one rear paw gets nasty-wet with litter stuck halfway up his leg, and just dunking that foot sends Karma into near-hysterics.

I’m sharing this information from my GROOMING entry from Cat Facts, The Series 7 (G): The Pet Parent’s A-to-Z Home Care Encyclopedia which includes these topics:

Geriatric Cat, Giardia, Gingivitis, Glaucoma, Grass (Eating), Grief, and Grooming.

I’ve broken the massive CAT FACTS book into catnip-size alpha-chapter sections. Folks can choose which ones they most need. Each chapter will release every week or so, but ONLY for subscribers on my Pets Peeves Newsletter. Of course, you can still get the entire CAT FACTS book either in Kindle or 540+ pages of print.

Bathe cats

When & Why to Bathe Cats

Why risk life and limb bathing your cat? Does it really matter that she’s gray instead of snowy white? Well, if the kitty gets into something, you may need to suds her up. A bath stimulates the skin and removes excess oil, dander, and shed hair. But bathing too often can dry the skin. As a good rule of “paw” bathe shorthaired cats no oftener than every six weeks; two to three times a year during shedding season should suffice unless Kitty gets really grubby, or is a show cat. Longhaired cats benefit from more frequent baths, and felines appearing in shows learn as kittens to accept baths.

Karma is a fastidious boy and usually keeps himself spiffy, but this new bad habit means he tracks “stuff” around. And, I’m not a fan of him having to lick off/ingest the soiled litter, either.

Kittens should not be bathed until they are at least four weeks old–learn more about kitten care in my book. Elderly cats or extremely ill cats may be stressed by bathing so follow your veterinarian’s recommendation in these instances. These days Seren plays the “age” card to keep her fur dry.

How To Bathe Cats–Plan Ahead

Should you decide to take the plunge–pun intended–your cat should be thoroughly brushed and/or combed ahead of time. All mats must be removed before bathing, because water will just cement mats in place.

  • The bath area should be warm and draft free. The bathtub will do, but your knees will thank you for using a waist-high sink. Move all breakables out of reach, and push drapes or shower curtains out of the way or they may spook your cat and end up shredded.
  • For routine cleaning, you only need a simple grooming shampoo labeled specifically for cats. Human baby shampoo or dog products can be too harsh and dry the skin or in some cases prove toxic. 
  • Assemble your shampoo, several towels, and washcloth near the sink or tub, and run warm water (about 102 degrees, or cat body temperature) before you bring in the cat.
  • Wear old clothes. Expect to get wet. Seren clutches my shirt, pressing her face to me as I wet and soap the rest of her.
  • Also, close the door to the bathing area, or you risk having a soapy cat escape and leave suds and a wet cat print trail throughout your spanking-clean house.
  • Cats hate the insecure footing of the slippery surfaces so place a towel or rubber mat in the bottom of your tub or sink. That does wonders for cat confidence and often reduces yowls and struggles by half.

How to Bathe Cats With The Bucket Method

For small kitties the bucket method of bathing often works best. Use the double sink in the kitchen, two or more large roasting pans, or a couple of buckets or wastebaskets set in the bathtub. Fill each with warm water.

  1. Gently lower your cat into the first container to get her wet. Let your kitty stand on her hind legs and clutch the edge of the container as you thoroughly wet the fur.
  2. Then lift her out onto one of your towels, and apply the shampoo to her body.
  3. After lathering, dip the cat back into the first container to rinse. Get as much soap off as possible before removing and sluice off excess water before rinsing in subsequent containers of clean water or use a low-level spray closed to the body with the sink attachment.
  4. If the cat acts scared of being dunked or the spray attachment, use a cup or ladle to dip water. Use the washcloth to wet, soap and rinse the face area. Keep one hand on the cat at all times to prevent escapes.
  5. Rinse beginning at the neck and down Sheba’s back; don’t neglect beneath the tail or tummy. When the water finally runs clear and you know she’s clean, rinse once more just to be sure.
  6. Wrap the squeaky-clean cat in a dry towel. Shorthaired cats dry quickly, but longhaired felines may need two or more towels to blot away most of the water. Seren prefers to dry her
    self. If your cat tolerates or enjoys the blow dryer, use only the lowest setting to avoid burning the cat. Combing long fur as you blow dry will give “oomph” to the longhaired coat.

KARMA SOLUTION

For Karma, I’ve found it works best to use the nozzle sprayer. He hates being “dunked” and the water coming from the faucet intimidates him. Go figure…he’s a sink cat and loves sitting in the empty basin, but that’s HIS choice, LOL!

Have you ever bathed your cat? What would cause you to dare the impossible? I used to bathe Seren at least once a year just to prove to us both it could be done. She’s now only
5 pounds so I figure that I’m the biggest “cat” in the house…but I think this year she may win the contest.


 

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? NOTE: Some links to books or other products may be to affiliates, from which I may earn a small percentage of sales, but I do not recommend anything unless I feel it would benefit readers. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!