What Is 'Normal' for a Cat?
1, Sleeping all day, chasing shadows all night, getting high on mysterious herbs -- that may be delinquent behavior for a teenager, but it's run of the mill for a cat. Learn more about the peculiarities of feline protocol so you can sort harmless kitty quirks from cat behaviors that could spell trouble.
2. A cat rubbing their face on you is a sign of affection. Cats have glands on their cheeks and the corners of their mouths. When they rub up against your leg or other body part, they leave some of their scent on you. According to feline etiquette, that's a compliment.
3. Bringing You 'Gifts
You've politely told your little predator, "No, thanks." But your cat insists on showering you with gifts of dead mice, birds, or lizards. Bringing you dead animals is normal, but it's best to keep your cat inside. Prowling cats can have a devastating impact on ground-nesting birds and hunting can also be a source of parasites and bacterial disease. Instead, give your cat toys they can hunt for inside. It will give them an outlet for their predator behavior -- and keep wildlife safe.
4. Drinking From Toilets
You've watched your cat's painstaking grooming ritual. Why would they go to all that trouble keeping themselves clean and then drink out of the toilet? No one is sure why cats do this. Toilet water may taste fresher than stagnant water because it's changed with each flush. Don't worry about it unless you keep chemical cleaners in the tank. And if it really bothers you, keep the lid down.
5. Eating Plants
Eating small amounts of grass can be nutritious for cats. In larger quantities, it can have a laxative effect or cause vomiting. If your cat is drawn to eating greenery, take inventory of your houseplants. Many species are toxic to felines, such as aloe and philodendron, and Easter lilies, which are deadly. You can easily find whether a plant is toxic to your cat by checking online.
6. Eating Wool
In rare cases, cats are compelled to eat the inedible. For unknown reasons, wool is particularly appealing. Some suck on it. Some actually eat it. Some cats may even eat big holes out of sweaters. This behavior is considered compulsive and is most common in indoor-only cats. Talk to your vet about behavior modification. It may help to provide tasty alternatives, like catnip, grass, lettuce, or rawhide.
7. Sleeping All Day
It may seem lazy, but sleeping or lounging around the whole day is a survival trait if you're a cat. As they evolved in the wild, felines developed a pattern for conserving energy. They hunt for a short period and spend the rest of the day sleeping. In house cats, the pattern is similar. A kitten will eat and play in brief bursts, but spend most of their time at rest.
8. Motor Mouth
Just like people, some cats are more "talkative" than others. They may meow and whine throughout the day. Asian breeds, particularly Siamese cats, are prone to vocalizing. As long as your cat doesn't seem anxious or in pain, being a chatterbox is no cause for alarm. However, a quiet cat that suddenly begins vocalizing should be examined. The change in behavior could signal a medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism.
Your new slacks may suffer a few snags, but your cat means well. When Tiger jumps on your lap to knead your legs, it means they are feeling relaxed, comfortable and secure. Kneading is learned very early in a cat's life. It's something most kittens do while nursing.
10. Finger Licking
If your cat makes a habit of licking your fingers, there are several possible reasons. The first is that your cat simply likes the taste of your sweat or hand lotion. In some cases, licking can be a comforting behavior; it may be linked to nursing. If your cat licks you excessively and shows other signs of anxiety, check with your vet.
11. Getting High
If a pinch of catnip sends Fluffy into a state of bliss, you might wonder if your innocent fur-ball is getting high. The answer is yes. Chemicals in catnip produce a response similar to intoxication. Because there's a genetic basis for it, some cats show an extreme attraction. Others show no reaction at all. In some cats, this naughty herb may even cause hallucinations. Catnip is not toxic to cats. However, eating large amounts can lead to vomiting or diarrhea. Catnip shouldn't be given to pregnant cats.
Like people, cats are vulnerable to allergies, sinus irritation, and upper respiratory infections. Symptoms may include sneezing and a runny nose. Sneezing in cats is most often caused by a viral infection picked up from being around other infected cats. Other causes of sneezing may include inhaled allergens, blades of grass, or even tumors. If sneezing continues for more than a few days, check with your vet.
13. Playing All Night
Cats naturally tend to be active at night, when their superior vision lets them sneak up on prey. Most domesticated cats adjust their schedule to be active when people are awake, but this doesn't always happen. If your darling is a night owl, try providing an intense play session and a meal right before bedtime. The burst of activity should wear Dracula out, so you can both get a good night's sleep. But if your older cat suddenly stays awake all night, check with your vet: It might be a sign of hyperthyroidism.
14. Glow-in-the-Dark Eyes
Many cultures, such as the ancient Egyptians, have admired cats as divine beings. The fact that their eyes glow in the dark only adds to the mystique. As it turns out, there's a fairly mundane explanation for this phenomenon. Feline eyes have a layer of tissue called the tapetum lucidum, which reflects light back through the retina. It helps facilitate their exceptional night vision.
How You Handle Pet Food Could Be Making Your Dog—And You—Sick / By Amanda Loudin, April 12, 2022, Fetch by WebMD
– Patrick McIntyre loves his two labs, ages 5 and 6. So much so that he and his wife make their own dog food to provide them with the best nutrition possible for long and healthy lives. Part of that approach involves handling food safely, just as the couple would handle their own food.
“We clean up after making and serving them food, don’t leave food out after they’ve eaten it, and wash their dishes after every meal,” says McIntyre. “I wouldn’t want to leave my bowls sitting out on the floor, so why would I leave my dogs’ bowls there?”
While the McIntyres’ approach might seem time-consuming and over the top, it turns out they’re onto something. According to a new analysis published in the journal PLOS One, in-home pet food handling and food dish hygiene practices can have bad health effects for both humans and pets.
Despite the concern for contamination, the study found that few guidelines exist for pet dish hygiene and safe food handling.
“In my clinical experience, I don’t think many people consider safe food handling with their pets,” says Stephanie Sheen, a doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) at Fuzzy Pet Health, an online pet health service.
And while some tenets of safe food handling carry over from the human side of the equation, some do not, says Sheen.
“There are many food safety issues that apply to pets and not humans,” she says. “For starters, dogs eat directly from their bowls, and their mouths have high bacteria levels.”
It’s the contamination that can happen in pet food bowls that puts them at highest risk for bad effects from poor practices. This applies to both the bowls and the food that goes into them. When it comes to food safety and your pets, there’s a lot to learn.
The reality is, pet owners are pretty lax about cleaning their pet’s bowls, and here’s why that matters: “Studies have shown that pet food bowls are on the top-10 list of most contaminated and dirty items in a household,” says Lindsay Butzer, DVM, from PetMeds, a pharmacy for pets. “One small chore that many pet owners neglect now that they’re heading back to the office or simply getting out of the house more is cleaning their pet’s food bowls.”
When bowls are left uncleaned, residue from food and your dog’s saliva is left behind, providing a breeding ground for potentially dangerous bacteria. “Common bacteria that can easily grow on day-old dog food includes salmonella and E. coli,” says Butzer, which can upset your dog’s stomach if eaten daily.
According to the PLOS One analysis, an earlier study performed cultures on household objects and found staph bacteria in 15% of pet food bowls. Antibiotic-resistant staph bacteria – or MRSA – was present in 3% of samples.
While the food bowls are most at risk for contamination, don’t neglect changing out and washing your pet’s water bowls as well, says Sheen. “Your dog’s saliva builds up over time in the bowls they use, which can create a film over bacteria, allowing it space to breed,” she says.
This is particularly true with plastic or ceramic bowls. “The concerns here are scratches or chips in the surfaces, which provide a harbor for bacteria,” says Sheen. “You can’t get into these spots for a good washing. If you do use these types of bowls, it’s best to replace them once they get damaged.”
Consider using stainless steel bowls, which are more resistant to damage and which you can easily throw in the dishwasher after a feeding. “You should also disinfect them once a week with two tablespoons of bleach in a gallon of water,” Sheen says.
Better Food Handling
According to Sheen, most people feed their pets one of three types of diets: raw, fresh-cooked, or commercial. Of the three, a raw-food diet is most likely to result in contamination.
“There can be really bad strains of bacteria in a raw diet, even antibiotic-resistant bacteria,” she says. “It’s very important to clean these bowls after each meal, as the residue is more likely to stick to the bowls and attract bacteria. Make sure you wash your hands well with soap and water after handling raw food, too.”
With dry food, your risk is lower, but it still requires safe handling practices. Wash the bowls out once a day, and avoid scooping up the dry food with the bowl your pet will eat from, as this can transfer any contamination from the bowl to the bag.
With wet, canned food, anything your dog doesn’t eat should be removed after 2 hours and thrown out, before it can become a bacteria breeding ground. Leftovers should go into the refrigerator, where they can safely stay for about 2 to 3 days.
Finally, with fresh-cooked foods, “think of them as you would your own meats, keeping them for about 3 days before discarding,” says Sheen.
The PLOS One survey found that most pet owners fail in this area, storing pet food against FDA and most manufacturers’ recommendations.
The good news is that for most healthy, young dogs older than 6 months, the risks of poor food handling are generally low.
The most common signs of contaminated food bowls are diarrhea, loss of appetite, and vomiting, says Butzer. “Death is extremely rare unless the bacteria have built up over several weeks and your dog eats a very large amount.”
The concerns for safe food handling go beyond your pet’s health. Because of your close, daily interactions with them, your pet can easily share their bacteria with you.
While it’s not pleasant to think about, some dogs love eating feces on walks; they then return to your house and lick your face, potentially spreading contamination. The same holds true if they pick up bad bacteria from poor food handling and then again share their sloppy kisses with you.
“For people over 65, children under 5, or those who are immune-compromised, this can be risky,” says Sheen. “This especially holds true with dogs who eat raw-food diets – dog therapy groups don’t allow these dogs, for that reason.”
At the end of the day, a little effort goes a long way to protect both your pet and your family.
For the McIntyre family, where Patrick’s wife has a severe gluten allergy, food safety is second nature, and it pays off for everyone involved. “We’re responsible for our dogs’ health as well as ours,” he says. “We’ve got a set of food safety rules for everyone involved.”
The 4th of July can mean fun, food, friends and fireworks for people, but for our pets, it can feel more like a scary alien invasion! In fact, July 5th is the busiest day of the year for animal shelters, which fill up quickly with animals who panic and flee the bright lights and loud noises of holiday celebrations. Make July 4th a pet-riotic holiday by following these steps for a stress free day for both you and your fur-kids.