Understanding The Wild in Your Cat

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catWe’ve got the feline you’re going to need this…Cats in the wild lead an active, interesting life. They sleep in spurts, hunt small prey to feed themselves and hide skillfully to avoid their own predators. When necessary, they defend their home territories with arched backs, purposeful hissing, bared claws and sharp teeth.

House cats share the same instincts as their wilder feline cousins, but inside your house, there are limits to what you can allow your kitty to do. Here are some ways that you can allow your cat to do what comes naturally within practical parameters:

1. Act Wild. A cat left to her devices will catnap throughout a 24-hour period rather than sleep for a long stretch like humans do. Here are a few ideas to keep your catnapper awake longer in the daytime so she may sleep longer (and prowl around your house less) at night:

      a. Fetch for cats: Attach a small toy to a line, throw the toy and pull it back to entice your cat to pursue.

      b. Follow the toy: Attach a toy to a long shoelace and drag it through the house. Does he have a perch or high place where he’s allowed? Pull the toy to the high perch and off again. Keep your kitty hopping!

      c. Doorknob drop: Attach a small toy to a long sturdy string and attach the string to a doorknob. Shake the line to get your cat’s attention.

      d. Treat chaser: Toss a small cat treat or even a piece of dry cat food ahead of your cat and watch her scurry.

2. Bring the Outside In. With a few key pieces, you can create an environment that mimics the wild, but provides your cat with a much safer home.

      a. Scratching posts. You can provide an attractive alternative to your cat scratching your carpet, drapes or furniture. Does she seem to target wood or fabrics? Notice what texture your cat prefers and purchase accordingly. Consider also that a cat depends heavily on his sense of smell and may mark objects, like a scratching post. When the cat rubs against it, he releases scents called pheromones from glands in his forehead, cheeks, tail base and paws.

      b. Pick Perches. Cats like a room with a view too. A window perch can provide your cat with a place to gaze into your garden. A spot on a shelf in your closet can suffice as an out-of-the-way nook to nap. Or you might want to look into commercial cat trees.

3. Think “litter”ally. You cannot be too fastidious with a litter box. A cat in the wild picks a new spot to defecate every time he goes, and then he covers it up with clean dirt. If you want your cat to faithfully use one litter box in your house, keep it very clean. For multiple cats, you need one litter box per cat. Choose your spot carefully. Your bashful cat will want a private place away from noise and folks.

With a few thoughtful additions to your home, you and your pet cat can reach a cheerful compromise between wild and tame. To read more about your cat’s nature and how to better understand her, take a look here.

And if you’ve added a new kitten or cat to your household, give us a call. At Town N Country, we always love meeting the newest member of your family.

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Treat Your Pet to a Spa Day

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unnamedRegularly scheduled grooming not only helps your pet look and feel good, it is also an essential part of maintaining optimal pet health. Spa and grooming services can be scheduled by appointment Monday through Friday, or while your pet is an overnight guest or attending daycare.

By appointment only. At check in, we ask that you spend a few minutes with the groomer to discuss your dog’s history and preferences you may have.

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Feeding Your Cat Naturally

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cat eatingCats in the wild don’t come running at the rattle of a food bag or the sound of a can opener. Their love of meat keeps them prowling their territory – an area that may stretch to the equivalent of 20 city blocks — in search of prey.

One of the best ways to meet your cat’s instinctive desire for meat is with Instinct®’s Raw. Each patty, medallion or chub is flash frozen to ensure optimum taste and nutritional quality.

For many pets, a raw diet markedly improves overall health and immune systems. Benefits include a lush, glossy coat, healthy skin, lean muscle tone, strong bones and teeth and increased energy and vitality.

If you’d like to read what pet owners who switched and fed their pets Instinct® have to say, click here.

If you’re not familiar with a raw diet and wonder how exactly to start, we’d love to help. You may want to start small and see how your pet responds. Town N Country recommends and stocks a great variety of Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Frozen Diets that are available at our freezer section. “Raw” doesn’t have to be all or nothing! Talk to us about the best choice for your kitty.

The next best thing for your meat lover is good quality canned cat food, and we can help with that, too. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your cat’s nutritional needs, give us a call. We’d love to help.

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August Fundraiser Special: $10 Discounted Nail Trim

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Guardian of the Night K9Town and Country will be running a special for the month of August – a $10 Discounted Nail Trim!

Get your pet’s nails trimmed for a great price during our fundraiser to benefit our client Jennifer Schnegg. Ms. Schnegg has been diagnosed with Epilepsy and is currently raising money for the purchase of a service dog through Guardian of the Night K9. Service dogs for Epilepsy patients learn to lie next to someone having a seizure to prevent injury and walk alongside them to provide balance. Ms. Schnegg’s service dog will also be trained to activate an alarm system during seizures, allowing her to obtain prompt medical assistance.

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Fear Not: Making Travel Pleasant for You and Your Pet

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traveling with your petA change of scenery benefits everyone, and that includes your pets. Unfortunately, your pet may fear the change from routine that goes along with traveling the open road. What can you do to make the journey pleasant for all of you?

Take a look at the following 9 tips to help take the fear out of your pet’s summer adventure:

1. BYOCC. Bring your own creature comforts. Carriers provide a comfortable, safe way for your pet to travel. The surrounding crate feels familiar to your dog or cat. Tuck in a favorite toy or pillow for a little reassurance.

2. Test drive. Before you drive across the country, try a short trip or two first to help your pet become accustomed to travel by car.

3. No pet left behind. Wherever you wander, don’t leave your pet in a parked car. You would be astounded by how quickly temperatures inside a parked car can rise, putting your pet in danger of overheating.

4. Daily breads, meds, and leads. You know what your pet needs on a daily basis – pack all medications, special foods, and favorite toys. Don’t forget your dog’s lead, and a small first aid kit to help you handle an emergency.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff. If your pet exhibits symptoms of stress, you might consider Adaptil, available in collars, diffusers or sprays. Pheromones are hormones released by lactating mammals to comfort and soothe puppies. They work well to soothe a harried traveler like your pet and are available at Town N Country.

6. A way home. A microchip can help ensure your pet’s returned to you should the unthinkable happen and you’re separated. Also ensure that tags are up to date.

7. Traveling tummies. Nothing’s more miserable that an upset stomach on the road. Prevent potential problems by offering bottled water only once your journey’s begun. You may want to talk to your vet about Cerenia, a medicine for motion sickness.

8. A lighter fare. Give your pet a light meal three to four hours prior to your departure. Even on a longer trip, don’t feed your pet in a moving vehicle.

9. Shot records. Bringing along a copy of vaccination records (maybe on your smart phone) is a prudent idea. While you hope to never have to pull them out, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Before you go, make a pit stop at Town N Country. You can make sure all immunizations are up to date and talk to us about any medications your pet may need to travel before you start your journey.

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Surviving Stormy Summer Nights

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thunderstormYou know the dog that hides in your closet is terrified of thunder and lightning, but you might not recognize these subtle signs of astraphobia, which is a fancy way of saying abnormal fear of storms:

1. Excessive panting
2. Trembling
3. Pacing
4. Vocalizing
5. Being destructive

Between 15% and 30% of all dogs exhibit symptoms of fear during storms. Dogs with only a mild reaction to the storm may be distracted with an indoor game of fetch-the-ball or simple obedience exercises. Others may feel more comfortable with the routine of going to their kennel or bed.

Some dogs consistently react to the drop in barometric pressure and aren’t so easily distracted. For dogs that perpetually find storms an anxiety-packed event, consider these strategies:

1. Thundershirts. For many of our clients, the gentle pressure of Thundershirts can calm and give relief in stressful situations. You can also make your own like this.
2. Desensitization. Playing recordings of thunderstorms quietly for your dog can help desensitize her. Every few days, play the recording a little louder. Reassure your dog with a routine that might comfort, like going to his kennel or bed.
3. Adaptil®. This product available in a spray, diffuser or collar can soothe a nervous pet thanks to a synthetic version of the pheromones found in a mother’s milk. Talk to us vet about a product that’s worked well for many adult dogs and puppies.
4. Short term medicines. When you know a storm is predicted or brewing, a short-acting sedative can bring your pet quick relief.
5. Longer term anti-anxiety medicines. If it’s the season for storms, you may want to consider anti-anxiety meds for a month or so rather than administering sedatives every day or two. With this sort of medicine, you won’t worry about not being home when a storm hits.

A visit with us can help you find the best solution for your pacing Poodle, disappearing Doberman, or bellowing Beagle. Give us a call and let’s set up a time to meet. With the right approach, you can help your dog overcome fearful, anxious behavior.

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Do Fireworks Put Your Pet “Under the Sofa”?

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fourth of july and dog(to the tune of Under the Boardwalk)

Under the sofa (she’s not having fun)
Under the sofa (she’s not the only one)
Under the sofa (fireworks popping above)
Under the sofa (please help my love!)
Under the sofa, sofa!

Oh when the firecrackers pop
On the Fourth of July and scare your pet
And she cries so much
You wish her sensitive ears were noise-proof!
Under the sofa
Down past the TV (yeah)
That’s where you’ll find my furry baby
Trembling violently

Does your furry baby’s angst over the fourth’s fireworks give you material for a new hit song? Before the big fourth celebration, take a look at these 10 calming strategies that can help your pet overcome seasonal or noise-related anxieties and breathe easier:

1. Prep your space. If you know that community fireworks will be heard in your home, take the time to close windows and even curtains to minimize noise. You can also play music or the TV to cover up some of the popping sound.

2. Prep your pet’s space. Some pets may bolt outside when frightened. Take the time to confine your cat or dog in a safe area in your home. If your pet’s accustomed to a kennel and finds that a safe place, make it accessible to him.

3. Watch yourself. It’s easy to jump up and comfort a frightened pet, but you may be setting up a pattern you don’t want continued. Carry on as usual when the fireworks start, and your dog may do the same.

4. Desensitize. A recording of thunderstorms or fireworks played low and gradually increased could desensitize your pet from reacting to these noises.

5. Distract. Another strategy is to distract her with a new toy or treat or even a trick.

6. Power walk. July 4th is a great day for exercise, exercise and more exercise. Wear your dog out with an extra long walk or a little longer time playing fetch. By the time the sun goes down, your dog may be more focused on settling down to sleep than on jumping up to hide.

7. Dress your pet courageously. With the premise that thunder and loud noises in general can start a less than desired behavior in your pet, the Thundershirt has been introduced as an affordable solution. The idea of gentle constant pressure is similar to that of swaddling a cranky human baby – and it works for 80% of the pets that try it. Click here for purchasing information.

8. Treat your pet like a baby. Nothing’s happier than a fed, warm puppy. That’s the idea behind Adaptil products; you can choose a spray, diffuser or collar to distribute a synthetic copy of pheromones or mama dog hormones meant to soothe nursing puppies, the hormones released by a lactating mama dog for her puppies. Works well for adult dogs as well as puppies. Click here for more information.

9. Protect your dog’s ears. Your dog’s ears are much more sensitive than yours. Many dogs benefit from wearing specially designed Mutt Muffs that can block some levels of the noise.

10. Talk to your vet. When you’ve tried a plethora of ideas and your pet’s still a quivering bundle of nerves, talk to us about anti-anxiety medications. A fast- acting variety might be the perfect solution for one noisy night.

Call us if you’d like to discuss your pet’s case with us. Everyone at Town N Country wishes you and yours a safe, happy and courageous Fourth!

Photo Credit: Randy Son Of Robert via Compfight cc

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The Secret Life of Walter T. Kitty

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cat problemsMost cats love to wander when given the opportunity. Where do they go? What do they do? Stealthy cats can get into all sort of trouble when they wander outdoors seeking adventure. One study done by students at the University of Georgia discovered what kind of trouble by attaching kitty cams to 60 pet cats by way of break-away collars.

Their videotaped discoveries allow the rest of us a cat’s eye view of a long, hot southern night. Take a look at the risky behaviors observed:

1. Crossing roads (45%)
2. Encountering strange cats (25%)
3. Eating and drinking substances away from home (25%)
4. Exploring storm drain systems (20%)
5. Entering crawl spaces (20%)

By meandering into close quarters, behind walls and other dangerous places, cats suffer wounds ranging from bites to traffic encounters to degloving injuries. (A degloving is an avulsion or injury in which part of the body is forcibly detached. For a cat, the extremity that’s most likely to be involved is his tail. OUCH!)

Other encounters may introduce exposure to infectious diseases like feline leukemia and FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) or the annoying possibility of internal or external parasites. Eating or drinking on the run presents dangers like access to poison or simply taking in too much food which negatively affects health.

So what’s a responsible, cat-loving owner to do?

Keeping a cat inside when it’s accustomed to the great outdoors can be challenging but not impossible. Here are a few creative ideas:

1. Prepare indoor cat structures. Your cat loves closed in places and places to scratch and climb. (Take look at this one.) Or if you’re crafty, you could put something together like this one on PInterest. Even cardboard boxes stacked and taped could work for you.

2. Harness that energy. Walking your cat on a secure harness might be a solution for you both. It’s easier if you start with a kitten.

3. Prepare enclosed outdoor cat structures. These contained areas can be attached to a window or cat door so that your cat has access. Cages by Design has a huge selection of these! If you’re an avid do-it-yourselfer, take a look at this video for inspiration…

Keep in mind that indoor cats live longer than strictly outdoor or even partially outdoor cats. It’s no secret…we want to keep your cat healthy and happy, so if you have questions about the best care for your Walter T. Kitty, give us a call.

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Snakes Alive!

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snakebite and petsIt’s a gorgeous day, and you and your doggie are out enjoying your favorite walking trail. She sniffs under every bush, follows her nose along a circuitous pathway and digs up what interests her. “Hmmm.” She wonders. “What’s this curious scaly thing?….”

Or your cat is in the backyard, basking in the sun with one eye open. All of a sudden, she spots a slithering presence. “FUN!” he thinks. “A new cat toy!”

Blending into the environment is the snake’s best defense plan, but when a curious dog or a territorial cat stumbles upon a serpentine hideaway, the cornered snake’s next best defense plan is to bite the animal that got too close.

Any snake bite is an emergency. In some cases, the snake slithers away so quickly that no one can identify it to know if it’s poisonous or not. Your quick action and your vet’s treatment could save your pet’s life if he’s bitten by a venomous snake.

Here’s what to do if you see a snake bite your pet.

1. Identify the snake.
2. Administer Benadryl – 1 mg per pound of your pet’s weight.
3. Seek veterinary care immediately!

If your pet suddenly has redness, moderate to severe swelling, or dying tissue – especially on the forelimbs or muzzle – it may be a snake bite.

In North Carolina, indigenous venomous snakes are the Copperhead, the Cottonmouth (water moccasin) and three species of rattlesnakes.

How serious the bite is depends on the age and species of the snake, level of fang penetration, amount of venom injected, site of the bite and also the size of your dog. Even if the snake isn’t venomous, the bite site can be a vulnerable spot for infection if not examined or treated.

Keep in mind that the cure for a venomous snake bite can run from hundreds to thousands of dollars. Prevention on your part can help keep your pets safe. When you walk trails, keep your dog on a lead. If your property backs up to a wooded area, keep an eye on your dog or cat even in the back yard. Also, avoid evening or dusk walks near wooded areas. Many varieties of snakes are nocturnal creatures and more active at night.

Should your pet tangle with reptiles and you suspect a bite, we’re here. Follow the steps above, and your quick action could save a life.

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Who Let the Dogs Out?

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doggie daycare and boardingWho Let the Dogs Out? (WOOF, WOOF, WOOF, woof, woof)

It’s a great song – but a bad idea. Letting your dog roam the neighborhood – even if you live in a rural area – can have dangerous consequences. By keeping your dog on a lead and exercising with him, you can bypass a lot of problems.

Traffic Trauma. Your hometown or neighborhood is busier with traffic today than it was 5 years ago. Vet emergency rooms see a good number of car accident victims, and often these pets don’t survive their injuries.

Eating Disorder. A dog on the loose will eat anything she has an opportunity to: chicken bones in a neighbor’s trash can, dead or diseased wildlife or another animal’s poop. Consequences range from an upset tummy to internal blockage to life-threatening disease.

Feathers and Fur. Is your neighbor keeping a flock of chickens? Predators by nature, dogs on the run can feast on chickens and leave your neighbor hopping mad. In some states, the owner has the right to shoot an intruding dog. Other offenses may be less inflammatory but still annoying. No one wants his garden dug up or dog feces in the middle of the front lawn.

Lost or Stolen. A dog can chase a squirrel and get disoriented from finding the road home. Even if your dog consistently finds her way home from every end of the county, it’s possible that some unsavory person could steal her away.

Attack Mode. You’ve read the news reports about the dogs that attack children, adults or other animals far too often. And you can’t ignore the possibility that your dog might be the one that’s attacked by an aggressive dog. Some people who are fearful of dogs can be intimidated by the very sight of your dog trotting around the block. Do your part by keeping your dog on lead – and be a good neighbor.

It’s the Law. Laws for loose dogs vary from place to place, but there are some really stiff legal penalties for many situations. Know the law in your area.

As you can see, a loose dog can run into all sorts of problems – and create bigger problems for you. Every dog needs to be walked daily – and the best way for your pet to do that is with you. Lace up your sneaks and grab the leash. Your biggest fan awaits you by the front door.

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