Tag Archives: Cat

WOULD YOU LIKE TO FOSTER?

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We are always looking for new fosterers so that we can help more cats and kittens. Anyone can apply to be a foster carer after which a volunteer will come round and give a quick homecheck and chat about what is involved, the pros and cons etc. Hopefully you will still want to help and we can find a cat that is suitable. Several of our volunteers have just started by trying out with providing holiday or emergency cover. We are looking for people in all situations with or without children or other pets who will treat the cat as part of the family, vet bills are covered by rescue all you have to provide is love, food and cat litter. It is a requirement that all cats in foster are kept indoors throughout their stay.  If you are interested please email in to the rescue, look at the fostering page on this website or join the facebook page and have a look at what the fosterers do.

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Rehoming your Cat Responsibly

Today’s blog has been written by Sheryl Leonardi, our founder. Amongst other things she deals with all of the rehoming requests for the group, so spends a lot of time advising people on how to rehome their cats safely and responsibly. Please note that if you want us to take your cat into rescue, you need to contact us. Why not read this first and get some tips?

Having to re-home our cat/s is never something we think we may have to do when we add one to our family and is always a heart-breaking decision to make. Every month I read hundreds of e-mails from people who need to re-home their cat for one reason for another. At Lina’s we have a policy which assures people they will never be judged when asking for help for their cat, we will also never ask questions on the circumstances although advice will sometimes be offered if the circumstances are voluntarily disclosed to us.

Unfortunately our waiting lists are long and it is unlikely that you will be offered an immediate space unless the cat is what we would consider to be an emergency.

STEP ONE – IS THERE ANYTHING I CAN DO TO HELP MY CURRENT SITUATION?


Do you really need to re-home your cat? Are there any changes you can make which may mean you can keep your beloved furry family member? The most common reasons for re-homing a cat is as follows:

We are moving house and due to our landlord we are not able to take the cat with us
– If you are dealing with a letting agency, see if you can speak to the landlord directly. Sometimes letting agencies have a blanket policy which is not changed unless the landlord requests it, the landlord may infact be happy for you to have a pet.
– Offer to pay a larger security deposit. A landlord’s primary concern is damage to the property which may be caused by the cats. Offering a larger deposit gives them more security and assures them that it will be able to cover any damage which is caused.
– Suggest the landlord visits your current property for reassurance that your cats are house trained and that you take care of your home.
– Be honest and upfront from the beginning about the fact that you have cats and how many you will be bringing to the property. The landlord is much more likely to come round to the idea of cats in the property if permission is asked for, rather than the discovery that you have broken your contractual agreement by having undisclosed pets in the property.

I/my partner/my child is allergic to the cat
The first step is a visit to your GP to have the allergy diagnosed. There may be medication you can take which eliminates the symptoms, that alongside daily vacuuming may be enough to control the allergy.

I am pregnant and I am worried about toxoplasmosis and the risk to my unborn baby
There is no need to reduce contact with your cat if you are pregnant. Statistically speaking cat owners are not at any more risk than non-cat owners and you are more likely to contract it from raw meat or unwashed vegetables.
The parasite which causes toxoplasmosis is shed in cat faeces but ONLY becomes infectious after a week. This means if you wear gloves, scoop every day and thoroughly disinfect the litter tray every week then you are ruling out all chances of catching toxoplasmosis from your cat.

We just don’t have the time to give her the attention she deserves anymore
Cats are self-sufficient, independent animals. Although they are all different generally (especially in older cats) they will be content with being fed twice a day and a bit of attention after work or when the kids are in bed. If you live in a safe area, allowing outdoor access to your cat via a cat flap can give them free range to come and go as they please throughout the day. They may also appreciate a companion to play with, or perhaps toys that they can play with alone (such as cat trees/climbers, a “Cats Meow”, rotary tracks and cat nip toys).

My cat is toileting outside the litter tray and I just can’t take it anymore!
First of all take your cat to the vets with a fresh urine sample, they will be able to check your cat over and test the urine for any medical causes such as UTI’s, cystitis, etc.
Once this has been ruled out, turn your attention to the cat and your home.

Not enough litter trays is just one of the reasons your cat may toilet inappropriately. Read more about inappropriate toileting here: http://www.catchat.org/urination.html

STEP TWO – OK, I’VE THOUGHT LONG AND HARD AND THERE IS NOTHING I CAN DO WHICH WOULD RESULT IN BEING ABLE TO KEEP THE CAT. NOW I NEED TO CONTACT AS MANY RESCUES AS POSSIBLE


The first port of all in any re-homing situation is to contact as many cat re-homing rescues as possible. Here’s the link to our email so that you can contact us. All will have waiting lists and most of the time will not be able to offer immediate space. Even if you think you may try to rehome the pet yourself first, please contact the rescues anyway. We often have people contact with very short notice because they had made a private arrangement with a friend or family member who have pulled out at the last minute. No rescue will mind if you need to remove your cat from the waiting list because you have found an alternative!

STEP THREE – MY CAT IS ON WAITING LISTS BUT I DON’T REALLY HAVE TIME TO WAIT FOR SPACE TO BECOME AVAILABLE. I WOULD LIKE TO TRY AND RE-HOME THE CAT MYSELF


If you choose to privately re-home your cat, there are steps you can take which will mean you have tried everything you can to make sure your cat goes to a responsible, loving home who is fully committed to the lifetime of your cat. The following steps are very similar to the procedure Lina’s follow when cats are adopted, as the last thing we want is for the adoption to fail.

State a price
Asking a price for the cat is a very important factor in making sure the cat goes to a good home. Putting a price on will discourage impulse buys and spontaneous decisions, it will discourage the less desirable, illegal activities such as dog fighters looking for free “bait” and it will also help to prevent people taking a free cat to sell on for profit.

If you do not want to profit from re-homing your cat then you can donate the money to a charity of your choosing.

Be honest about the cat’s temperament/behaviour
No matter how quickly we need the situation resolving, we have a duty of care to pets we are responsible for and we must make sure that the home they are going to are willing to take on-board any behavioural or medical issues they may have.

Neuter your cat before re-homing
Neutering your cat is the responsible thing to do and will prevent unwanted litters should she escape from the home. It will also in most cases stop males from spraying which is a huge deterrent for people who want to have a cat. Many charities will help with low cost neutering or you could use the cost of the operation as the price to sell your cat for if costing is an issue.

Ask for interested parties to visit the cat in the home
A chance to meet the cat in his home environment will ensure that people are happy with the cat and that the cat is happy with them! It will also give you a chance to talk about the cat and discuss his likes/dislikes and to ask questions about their home and lifestyle to see if it would suit the cat.

After they have visited the cat, ask to visit their home so you can see where the cat will be living
It is best to mention that you would like to visit the home from the off-set so that people are prepared for this and know that if they want to buy your cat they will need to have a home check. It is a great deterrent for anyone who has something to hide or may want the cat for something other than a pet! Consider your own safety first and if you can’t take someone with you make sure you always tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back by. If you do not drive, many rescues may know someone who can go on your behalf using the rescues own home checking procedure.

Things to check/look for during a home visit:

Surrounding area – If the cat is to be let outside check that they do not live near any main roads. Are there any hazards in the immediate area? For example garden ponds?
ID – Are they who they say they are?
Other pets in the home – Ask to see them if they are not visible. Do they look happy, healthy and well looked after? Do they envisage any problems when being introduced to your cat?
Condition of the home – We all have clutter and our kids rooms are always a bit of mess. Dust on skirting boards or mantel pieces shouldn’t bother us, but is the home generally hygienic and are there any hazards that may be a risk to a cat?
Have they re-homed any other pets in the past and why – There are genuine reasons for re-homing our pets, but asking this question will help to reassure you that your cat will not be re-homed for a trivial reason.

Keeping the Peace: The Multi-Cat Household

Today’s blog was written by Alice Hurn, a final year veterinary student at the University of Nottingham. Alice has two dogs and one very spoilt cat named Lord Squilliam. She is interested in feline infectious diseases and dermatology.

The social life of cats

Humans are a social species. Living as a group or pack was necessary for the survival of our ancestors. The cat family however (with the exception of lions) are solitary animals. This means that, even though they can and occasionally do form social groups, they hunt and feed on their own. Our pet cats, the Felis catus species, however have shown to be remarkably adaptive with their social behaviours. Given the correct circumstances, they can adapt to group living by developing social structures, and this is why your cats may live happily together in your household.

 

What can go wrong?

As social creatures, we humans can find it hard to understand our cats’ social life. Though many of our cats are very affectionate and seek our attention, they are largely independent animals and the introduction of a new cat to a household can bring with it many problems.
There are many factors that play key parts in the development of a successful social structure including number of cats in the area, availability of food sources and compatibility of individual cats. If the cats in the household feel uneasy with any of these things, tension can build amongst the group. This tension can lead to chronic stress, which brings with it many other problems including inappropriate behaviours, such as urine spraying and also stress-induced diseases such as cystitis. You may even witness bullying and intimidation between the cats if social structure hasn’t developed properly. Furthermore, if a cat becomes particularly stressed in its environment and he is confident enough, they may even resort to leaving the home to establish a territory elsewhere.
It is therefore very important to provide enough resources, which your cat deems adequate, to fulfil their own needs in a group environment.

Resources for the cats

Litter tray
The general rule for the number of litter trays for cats is one per cat plus one. Cats can block others from using litter trays and cats may not use the litter trays if they don’t feel safe. This may lead to stress-related diseases or inappropriate urinating and defaecating. Therefore litter trays should be in private and quiet areas away from communal (e.g. feeding) areas. There are a wide variety of types of litter and trays available. If in doubt provide a choice of facilities and watch to see which one is most popular!

Feeding stations
As solitary hunters and feeders, asking your cats to share food bowls can be an invitation for intimidation and bullying; two things that are important to avoid in a multi-cat household! Therefore each cat in the house requires its own feed bowl. Ideally they should be in their own feeding area separate to the feeding areas of other cats in the house. If this doesn’t suit, provide enough feed bowls per cat in the main feeding area may suffice. Similarly, there should be a water bowl per cat and these should be placed around the house. Cats prefer to drink away from their feeding area but require an area they can still observe any competitors coming. Position the water bowls so they can face any direction while drinking allowing them to remain vigilant.

Hideaways and bed
At times, your cat may feel the need to get away from other cats if he is feeling threatened or if they just need some alone time. It is therefore important to provide areas which your cat can use to hide away. Cats love high perches so make sure there are some high spaces free and accessible in your house. You could even purchase some tall scratch posts that may serve for this purpose. Be sure that there is a quiet dark area such as a covered bed or a cardboard box that will allow your cat to seek for some ‘time out’. Whatever your choice, always consider how safe a bed would feel to cats when providing bedding.
Toys
Play time is leisure time for your cat so it is important that each of your cats can get time to enjoy this. Often if a cat feels intimated by another this will suppress them playing in front of the more confident cats. Play time can also be a welcomed opportunity for conflict. Similarly, the use of scratch posts can lead to tension as they can be an important point for marking territory. To avoid this, try and allow time for you to play with each cat individually. Let your cat dictate when this is happens though- don’t force it! This will also reinforce your bond with your cats. With toys and scratch posts, like litter trays, provide one each plus one more and position them in different locations.
The most important aspect of managing your multi-cat households is considering the individual cats’ personalities and needs. Catering for them as individuals is the best approach and when in doubt just remember ‘one per cat, plus one more!’

Early Neutering- Is It Safe?

Today’s blog was written by our very own Jo Woodnutt. Jo fosters for us, but is also a final year vet student with an interest in feline health and shelter medicine.

 

Lina’s Cat Rescue operates a strict neutering policy and we neuter all cats that come into our care. Thanks to the vets at Saint Leonards, our kittens can now be neutered before they leave us to their new homes… which means there’s much less chance of owners taking them and then not bringing them back to be neutered!

Traditionally, the recommended neutering age for cats has been 6 months. Recently, this has been decreased to 4 months or less, due to the fact that many cats were reaching puberty and becoming pregnant at 4-5 months.

‘Early’ neutering describes the neutering of kittens before they become sexually mature. This generally means neutering at 4 months of age or less. Many vets will neuter any kitten that has reached 1kg, generally at 9-10 weeks. Currently only 4% of owners neuter at this age.

What are the risks?

All neutering carries a risk, as with any surgery. However, in a young and healthy cat this risk is very slight.

Some people are concerned that kittens aged less than 4 months are ‘too young’ to survive surgery, but in fact they make excellent surgical candidates. Because they have not reached puberty, their reproductive organs are very small and poorly vascularised- this means they will bleed less during the surgery, making it quicker and safer. In addition, they often recover faster from the anaesthetic and you can find them bouncing around with their littermates as usual soon after they recover.

Because they are smaller, kittens that are neutered young are more likely to get cold during surgery, but vets overcome this by providing them with hot water bottles and keeping the surgery as quick as possible.

When early neutering was first proposed there were worries that it would result in a reduced immune system and the cats would take longer to reach skeletal maturity. However, several studies suggest that this is not the case, and there are no risks that early neutering will cause any problems in this regard.

What are the benefits?

Obviously, all of the usual benefits of traditional-age neutering- no unwanted pregnancies, no pyometras, no uterine cancers- are the same with early neutering. However, early neutering has been found to provide many extra benefits.

Cats that are neutered before 6 months of age have a 91% reduction in the risk of mammary cancers. Since these are often malignant in cats, this is an excellent benefit. One study found that cats neutered before puberty were also less likely to suffer with asthma or gingivitis than those neutered at a normal age.

Neutering at any age reduces the incidence of undesirable behaviours such as spraying, but this is much more effective if the cat has not ‘learnt’ this behaviour- so neutering at an early age drastically reduces these problems. Other hormonal behaviours- such as fighting and roaming- are also reduced.

 

Want to know more?

The following papers give more information about early-age neutering.

  • Help stop teenage pregnancy! Early-age neutering in cats by Joyce A, Yates D. Can be found here
  • A quick fact sheet from the American Association of Feline Practitioners is here (opens as PDF)
  • Long-term outcome of gonadectomy performed at an early age or traditional age in cats by Howe et al. Can be found here
  • The Cat Group statement has loads of succinct information about the pros and cons and can be found here.
  • This is an article from a veterinary magazine. It is aimed at vets and has some rather graphic photos of some of the things that can go wrong in labour… and in comparison, how easy it is to neuter early.

Want to get your cat neutered ‘early’?

  • Phone your vets and talk to them. Many vets now offer this service, or are open to persuasion.
  • Go to the Cat’s Protection Kitten Neutering Database (KiND) which helps you locate the nearest vets that neuter from 4 months of age.

Travelling with your cat: Anxiety and Stress

This week’s blog has been written by Joanna Woodnutt, our ‘tame’ vet student. Jo is a final year student who has an interest in feline medicine, and is currently fostering ‘Sophie’ for us.

Good morning and welcome to the second in our ‘Travelling with your Cat’ series. This time we will be discussing anxiety and stress in the travelling cat.

The first thing to remember is that cats don’t like change. Change can bring about all sorts of stress-related illnesses and behaviours, which is why it’s really important not to force your cat to go anywhere- if they hate it, and you can avoid it, please don’t force them to travel!

Here are some top tips to help you get your cat ready for his journey:

Desensitisation

It’s not as obvious as it is with dogs, but it’s really important to get your cat used to his carrier before he heads off on his journey. A dog crate makes an excellent carrier and by leaving it in the house with his bed in it you’ll get him used to it. You can feed him in his carrier, and then start to take him on short car journeys, rewarding him when he returns- this can teach him that the carrier isn’t such a scary thing after all.

Sprays and Scents

One way to relax your cat without resorting to drugs is to use a scent or spray designed to relax cats. There are two types of sprays- those with calming natural oils, and those with pheromones. Feliway contains pheromones that cats release when they are happy, tricking the cat into thinking they’re relaxed. Feliway comes in a spray which is perfect for cat carriers.
A more natural alternative is the essential oils scents (like Rescue Remedy), which can calm a stressed cat using nice plants- a bit like lavender baths for humans!

Medication

Medicating your cat is not a good way to deal with anxiety in the long term, or if you travel often, but it is good for a one-off trip for instance if you’re moving house. You can talk to your vet who may be able to give you tablets to sedate your cat for the journey.

 

Hopefully this has helped you to understand some of the ways to help your cat relax before travel. Please join us in a fortnight for our final post in the series: Travel Sickness in Your Cat.

Travelling with your Cat: The Law

Today’s blog was written by our tame vet student Jo Woodnutt. Jo is one of our fosterers and is currently fostering ‘Sophie’- she’s very attached and we expect her to ‘fail’ sometime soon!

Welcome to the ‘Travelling with your Cat’ blog series. This first is about the law when travelling with your cat, and explains what your cat needs to do to be allowed to travel outside of the UK.

Photo by Amelia Hunt

Photo by Amelia Hunt

First, you must look up the entry requirements for the country you are visiting. Some will not allow any pets, others may allow pets under the P.E.T.S scheme. Others will have their own quarantine procedures. You don’t want to do a Johnny Depp and find the Australian Government on your back (read story here)!

Then there are specific rules to follow if you want your cat to come back to the UK with you. If you are going to an EU country or one listed in these guidelines, you must

  • Get a Pet Passport from a vet
  • Have a rabies vaccination (for your cat, not you!)
  • Have a microchip (plus read here for a lot of other reasons you should have one)
  • Use an ‘approved route‘ to travel back into the UK.

The Pet Passport

The ‘Pet Passport’ is a document that shows that your pet has had the necessary vaccinations and requirements for travel. Not all vets can provide one- they have to register as an ‘Official Veterinarian’ with APHA- but lots do, so check your usual vet practice and see whether they can help you. If not, your nearest APHA office should have the necessary details.

The passport becomes valid 21 days after the rabies vaccination and will remain valid for life provided subsequent vaccinations are kept up-to-date.

The Microchip

If you don’t already have a microchip, the vet will need to implant one. This is to ensure that each animal can be identified and tied to its passport- and therefore you can prove it has met all the necessary requirements to enter or re-enter the UK.

If your pet already has a microchip, the vet needs to read it and record the number on the pet passport and vaccination card. If there is a failure with the microchip, the vet can implant another but must fill out the necessary section in the passport.

The Rabies Vaccination

  • Your pet MUST receive a rabies vaccination before the passport is signed, even if they’ve had one in the past but no passport was produced.
  • Pets must be 12 weeks old or older at the time of the vaccination
  • Your pet must be microchipped BEFORE it has its vaccine, or it may have to be re-vaccinated!

An Approved Route

Sorry sailors, no private boats here- these routes have been approved by APHA to ensure they are safe and the appropriate customs officials are there too. A list of the routes is available from APHA. Please note that these routes are not obliged to carry your pet and this will be done at their discretion. Some will not allow more than one animal on at once, and others may restrict how many pets can travel with a passenger. Some routes may also require a ‘fitness to travel’ certificate from your vet, or a vet in the country that you have been visiting.

If you are not accompanying your pet (i.e if they are on a different flight), you must arrive within 5 days of your pet.

 

Travelling with your pet can be very rewarding if done in the right way. For more information please see this website which sets out all the rules and provides information about taking your pet outside of the EU, which carries its own set of problems.

Please head back in a fortnight to read the next in our series: Anxiety whilst Travelling

Microchipping 101

This blog article was written by our tame vet student and blogger Joanna Woodnutt. Jo loves fostering for us and sits on our administrative board amongst her vet school duties. She has an interest in preventative feline care.

 

All cats and kittens from Lina’s Cat Rescue are fitted with a microchip. But there are a lot of myths about microchips that can lead to them being useless!

Myth 1: A microchip means your cat can be returned to you if it’s found.
FALSE. A microchip means your cat can be returned to you only if your data is up to date! If you’ve lost that phone or moved house it’ll be useless!

Myth 2: A microchip will help you to find a lost pet.
FALSE. It is not a GPS signal- it only helps if your pet is found and scanned. For this reason it’s a good idea to have them wear a collar saying that they’re chipped!

Myth 3: Only dogs, not cats, need to be microchipped.
FALSE. Although it is true that the new law only states that dogs must be microchipped, it is cats that are more likely to stray. They’re also less likely to tolerate collars, so the chip is an essential back-up!

Ok, so we’ve debunked some myths, but that raises more questions…

How does a microchip work?

A tiny chip,MICROCHIP about the size of a grain of rice, is injected under the animal’s skin just between the shoulder blades. This chip contains a unique number which can be read using a handheld scanner.

This number is held on one of a couple of national databases, and they can correlate the number with the data they have on file for that chip- such as a phone number and address.

So why do we use them?

If your cat is found, any vet, police station or charity should be able to scan him and look up the number. They can then use the data the company holds to get hold of you and return your pet. A pet can’t lose a microchip like they lose a collar, so it’s a great way of finding out who they belong to.

Microchips are invaluble to us as vets. Just the other day somebody brought in a cat that they had found and we reuinted him with his owner within the day. It’s so lovely to see. But all too often we phone the number on the file and it’s not listed, and we contact the address and there are new people living there… it’s heartbreaking that a simple mistake means this cat won’t get to go home- Joanna Woodnutt, vet student

So please remember: A microchip is only as good as the data on it. If you move house, update the data. If you change phone numbers, update the data. If it’s been a year since you last looked, why not phone them up or log in online and just double-check that it’s all correct? One day, you might be very glad you did.

So how do I change my information?

Here are some companies that hold databases and can help you to change your information:

PetLog
PETrak
Anibase

You’ll need your microchip number, which will be on your cat’s paperwork and is 10 or 15 digits long. It may look like a barcode. If your cat has a passport, it may be in there, or it might be written into their vaccination card.

If you can’t find that, try calling your vets as they might have it on their records. Or, if you know where your pet was originally chipped, try calling that vets- they may still have the chip number in their database!

If all of that fails, don’t fret! Get in contact with the companies anyway and ask them to check the pet’s details. It will take a lot longer but they should be able to trace them for you!