Pros and Cons of Neutering Cats

Sadly, many thousands of unwanted cats and Kittens have to be put down every year, because with the queen coming into season every three or four weeks in summer, there are just not enough homes to go round.

Luckily, much is being done to halt the birth of unwanted kittens by encouraging the neutering and spaying of cats not kept for breeding.

Neutering a torn cat is doing him a kindness, for undoctored he is a compulsive fighter, vulnerable to torn ears and other wounds and, in later years, as he finds himself in combat with younger partners, his injuries could be grave. After neutering, he loses the desire to fight, does not smell anti-social and prefers the comfort of his own fireside to a night on the tiles. The operation is such a simple one that it is possible to take torn to the surgery for neutering and bring him home with you a few minutes later.

Spaying a queen (female) cat entails a bigger, but routine operation, and a few days stay at the surgery. Between three and five months is the age recommended for the operation but, as in the case of the male cat, it can be done at almost any age. The fact that a female cat has had kittens is no deterrent.

Holidays and Leaving Your Cat

One does come across folk who habitually take their pet with them for an annual holiday by the seaside, particularly if they stay in a caravan or holiday chalet. However, there is always the risk of puss getting lost, so it is safer to leave your pet at home where it can use its cat flap, and entrust a reliable neighbour with a key and feeding instructions. Or leave him at a well-run cattery.

What you mustn’t do is leave an enormous quantity of opened food in the hope that this will last puss until you return. He will eat on the first day, then starve for the rest of your holiday.

There are excellent catteries in all parts of the country. The better they are, the more likely they are to be fully booked in summertime, so do make your cat’s booking when you finalize your own holiday plans. Many catteries have outside runs adjoining each cat-house so that the cat may stroll out and enjoy the sun on a pleasant day. A proprietress I know even enlists the help of her family as ‘strokers’ so that the cats feel at home!

What you will discover is that any cattery worth its salt will insist on seeing a certificate of inoculation against infectious enteritis. This is the most deadly of cat diseases and when it appears in a neighbourhood, it spreads so quickly, and so many cats die within a few days, that people start imagining that there has been malicious poisoning. Young cats, Persians and Siamese are particularly susceptible, and the disease is most common in summer. So have your cat inoculated well in advance of your holiday – it needs a booster every two years – and don’t get uptight if you think that the kennel owner is being fussy. You wouldn’t want your puss, or anyone else’s, to die because of your negligence.

Very important, when planning your holiday, is to remember that you cannot take your cat out of Britain and bring it back again without puss facing six months quarantine in Ministry approved kennels. This is expensive for you and no fun for your cat either.

Cat Housing

Nothing annoys the knowledgeable cat lover more than hearing a fellow-owner speak of putting the cat out at night; except, that is, hearing the fable that you never feed a farm cat, the idea being to keep it hungry, so that it will need to catch mice.

It is strange how the idea of having to starve a ‘mouser’ persists. After all, in days gone by the farmer would not have expected a starving horse to pull the plough, and he himself would hardly expect to have to tackle a day’s work out of doors, without sustenance. Good farmers consider the welfare of their machinery, but many have never thought seriously of the value of the farmer’s friend, the farm cat.

The words ‘Have you put the cat out?’ are almost a music hall joke. One wishes they could be forgotten. Cats that are turned out at night are likely to be stolen, injured or killed. They may also get caught in traps or wander away and become strays. Worse, they could be picked up by some unscrupulous person whose aim is to sell cats to vivisection laboratories. Your cat is far too precious to be faced with such risks and, why after all, should he not share and enjoy the same fireside comfort as a dog companion? If introduced to the family dog from kittenhood, he is likely to want to share his pal’s basket!

Ideally, the cat should have a soft, warm, draught-free bed. His cushion, covered in washable material, may be placed either in a basket raised from the floor on a footstool or box, or it may be in a large, lidless box, turned on its side and a narrow board fixed across the lower part of the front.

Cats are creatures of habit and if, in late evening, you let puss out and call him in again a few minutes later, perhaps by banging a spoon on a saucer, he will quickly develop a lifetime habit of coming in and settling down for the night. Investing in a cat flap is sound advice. Then your cat can rise and retire when it wishes. Also, unlike that inviting open window, it is not a temptation to burglars.

Kitten care

Cats live for many years, so do not offer a home to one unless you are prepared to love and care for it all its days. Kittens, like babies, need plenty of sleep. They should have their own cardboard box, or basket, with a piece of blanket inside where they can sleep in peace, well away from draughts, and they should not be picked up too often. Nor should they be squeezed, for their bones are very soft and easily damaged. And never try to pick them up by the back of the neck; only their mother does this, when they are very tiny. Also, for both kittens, and cats it is most important to remove all bones from chicken and rabbit, as these sharp bones can cause great suffering and death by piercing the intestines, or catching in the throat.

Above: Love, and the opportunity to play, are essential to all young creatures. Observe the antics of kittens and you will see the preliminaries of hunting, fighting and sexual behaviour.

The kitten’s happy future

Cats are probably one of the most popular companions for the elderly, and have the added advantage that they are self-exercising – an important point for invalids or those with infirmities. In any case, the keeping of a pet often motivates the senior members of the community to go out to shop for food, thereby also encouraging them to eat, and to make provision for adequate heating at home, thus lessening the all-too-frequent risk of hypothermia. For those who fear that they might pre-decease their pet, or are concerned that a stay in hospital would be an insoluble problem, charitable schemes are run in most areas of the country to deal with this problem. Speak to your vet if you have any fears, or a representative of the Cats’ Protection League in your area. You’d be surprised how many people love cats!

Owning a Pedigree Cat

To many people, part of the pleasure of owning a pedigree cat is the opportunity it provides to take part in cat shows. There is obviously a great deal of know-how to be learnt before success is likely. At the same time, a cat that falls below the standard of its own particular class is unlikely to be a potential winner. In most countries where pedigree cats are bred and shown as a hobby, there are governing bodies responsible for administration, both of the registration of pedigrees and the organization of shows. In America, as in Australia, there are several governing bodies covering these matters but in Britain everything is controlled by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy. There are many clubs in Europe, some but not all of which are affiliated to the Federa-tion Internationale Feline de l’Europe (F.I.F.E.). South Africa has a Governing Council of the Associated Cat Clubs of South Africa, while in New Zealand there is a body similar to that of Britain, namely the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy of New Zealand.

Apart from the European Federation there is no international body coordinating the cat fancy worldwide. The advantages of such a body would be considerable as it would enable the standardization of points for the different breeds and the actual breed numbers given.

European cats’ interests are controlled by individual clubs which register their own cats. In Britain, the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy is responsible for the registration of all pedigree cats and the administration of rules under which pedigree cats may be entered in shows.

It is reasonable to assume that if a cat has been born into a pedigree litter, the breeder will have registered it as a pedigree kitten and its registered name and number should appear on the pedigree form which the breeder should supply with the kitten when it is purchased. This name and number will be unique to the kitten, and must be used if the kitten is entered for a show.

A kitten’s pedigree, which shows thirty-two parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents, should give some indication as to its qualities. If in its ancestry there are a number of champion cats, it is reasonable to assume that the kitten has the potential to be a winner. Of course, much depends upon how closely the kitten resembles its championship ancestors in conformation, coat colour and weight of bone, for a string of champions in the pedigree is no guarantee that your own kitten will be a perfect specimen.

The Cat Breeding Cycle

Most cats become sexually mature during their first year of life, and it is not unusual for a female who is little more than a kitten herself to give birth. Once sexual maturity has been reached, the female (queen) can produce a litter of one to ten kittens once a year, although some foreign breeds can give birth every seven to ten months. This means therefore that a queen is potentially capable of raising one hundred kittens in her lifetime.

Oestrus, being on heat or in season, denotes the female’s receptivity to reproduction, which signals to male cats that she is ready to mate.

Female cats begin their reproductive life when they first come into oestrus – the biological term for the behaviour we recognise as a cat ‘in heat’. This initial phase of the breeding cycle signals to toms (and owners) that the queen is ready to mate. The onset of oestrus itself is signalled by changes in behaviour, including calling, rolling and frequent rubbing. This period is followed by oestrus proper, during which the queen makes piercing calls and is restless to find a mate.

CONCEPTION AND AFTER

Unlike human females, queens do not ovulate (produce an egg) prior to mating. The egg is only released from the ovary during the act of mating. If mating is successful, the period of gestation (pregnancy) begins. If it is not successful, then the female will come into oestrus again in about three weeks time.

GESTATION AND BIRTH

Gestation in cats lasts between 58 and 72 days, with an average length of 65 days – just over two months. Some two weeks before the birth the queen will actively seek out and choose a place where she will have her litter. This will be somewhere that she feels is safe and quiet. Following the birth the kittens will suckle their mother’s milk for six to eight weeks. Oestrus will resume two to three weeks after the kittens have been weaned, and the whole cycle will begin again.

  • The head of the male’s penis is covered with horny spines. These stimulate the release of an egg from the ovaries (ovulation) during copulation.
  • Cats can breed throughout their lives, but queens should not be mated after 7 years old.
  • Queens may mate several times with different toms during oestrus, and as a consequence may give birth to kittens that have different fathers.

Q. I was told that female cats can be put on the pill. Is this true and is it advisable?

Yes, it is true, but it is only really recommended in special circumstances, as it can have serious side effects when given long term. Owners who want to avoid pregnancy are better advised to have their queens spayed.

Q. How long does cat oestrus usually last?

It usually lasts for about 10 days, but if the queen is mated and ovulates, it is more like 4 to 6 days.

Q. When does a cat become sexually mature?

In some breeds, sexual maturity can occur as early as 3 months, but the more usual onset is between 7 to 12 months for a queen, and from 10 to 14 months for a tom. Feral cats generally take longer to reach sexual maturity, at between 15 and 18 months.

Cat Spraying

A cat may spray with urine in order to mark its territory. This is much more likely in unneutered males, though, it is not unknown for neutered cats of either sex to spray if Feeling particularly threatened – for example, when a newcomer is introduced into the home. This is one of the reasons that it is recommended that toms which are not going to be used for breeding should be neutered early in life.

Q. How can I tell if a cat has sprayed rather than urinating normally?

The cat stands up to spray, rather than crouching, so small drops of urine will be found a few centimetres from the ground – against the wall, say, or perhaps on your valuable chair.

Q. I have an entire male cat, which sprays all over the place. Will it stop if I have it neutered?

Cat SprayingOne of the reasons for neutering toms which are not intended for breeding is to prevent spraying. If they are neutered late in life, though, this may not stop them spraying, though it will not smell quite as bad! Is there anything the vet can do to stop a cat spraying? He may be able to recommend a treatment with hormones, for either neutered or entire cats.

Tile problem of a cat marking its territory by spraying urine is most common in an entire male cat. Spraying is not totally unknown, though, in neutered cats of either sex, particularly if they feel anxious or threatened. It is more common, too, in a household where there is more than one cat. Entire female cats are more likely to spray in the breeding season.

CLEANING UP

If the cat has sprayed in the house, you must clean the area thoroughly. Quite apart from dealing with the unpleasant smell (and a tomcat’s urine is the most pungent of all!), leaving it will only encourage the cat to do it again to reinforce its scent. A strong solution of biological detergent in hot water should deal with the smell, followed by alcohol or vinegar.

  • There is no known deterrent for spraying, but you can try to feed the cat as near as possible to the sprayed area because cats rarely soil close to their feeding area. You
  • might also try aversion therapy, using a water pistol. The only sure way, though, is to shut the cat out of the room until it has stopped.
  • Rubbing a cat’s nose in its sprayed urine will only encourage it to do it again.
  • An unneutered tom may spray in dozens of different places all around his territory. This is as natural to him as sneezing, and there’s nothing you can do to prevent him.
  • Tomcats get into a lot of fights, so keen are they to service all the local females and protect their territory. This can mean a lot of torn ears for the cat and vets’ bills for you.

Your Cat At Christmas

Christmas is a season of much merriment and celebration for all the family, but your cat may be of a different opinion. For the household cat, it can be a time of great disruption and upheaval, with plenty of visitors coming and going and a lot of loud and unwelcome noises. However, there are a number of things you can do to make sure that your cat’s Christmas is just as enjoyable as everyone else’s.

Make sure that your cat’s Christmas is as happy as that of everyone else in the family. Your cat doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about, so a little thought and sensitivity is needed on your part.

cat at christmasIf Christmas Day in your house is as quiet as any other day of the year, your cat won’t have much to complain about. But if you’re planning one long party, with an endless stream of guests popping in and out and invading the cat’s territory – at least, that’s how the cat will see it – and a lot of noise, your cat might prefer it if you were to count him out of all the celebrations. Forget that silly present that you bought for the cat and tied with an extravagant bow under the Christmas tree – what he really wants is a bit of peace and quiet.

PARTY NOISE

If you’re having a party and there are likely to be a lot of sudden loud noises – champagne corks popping and Christmas crackers, for example – your cat is not likely to enjoy this. Cats are social animals and they enjoy the company of people whom they know and trust, but they prefer their social interchange on a quiet, one-to-one basis and they’re not usually keen on strangers. It would therefore probably be better in this case to shut him securely in another room, where he will feel safe and out of the way of any loud and intrusive festivities.

  • Give your cat plenty of reassurance: you don’t want him to think that this new atmosphere is a permanent state of affairs, especially if you are partying at the New Year as well.
  • You should also keep your cat away from the decorations, as they may seem particularly tempting.
  • According to myth, a mother cat gave birth to her kittens in the manger where the infant Christ was lying.
  • If you’re planning any indoor fireworks at your Christmas party, remember that your cat might be alarmed by them so make sure he’s out of the room when you light them.

Many children will beg their parents for a kitten as a Christmas present. If you are going to grant their wish, think again about the timing as Christmas is not the best time to introduce a new pet to the household. It can be a very noisy and chaotic time, and this will not help the kitten feel safe and able to settle in.

Q. Is it ok to let my cat out in the snow?

Some cats enjoy snow and find it fun trying to catch snowflakes. But if your cat is old and sensitive to the cold, he may be reluctant to go out. In this case, provide a litter tray until the snow has cleared.

Q. Next Christmas will be the first in our home for a new cat. How will he react to the tree?

Some cats will try to climb the tree or play with the baubles. Exercise a little patience, even if some of the decorations get broken. Christmas should be fun for the cat too, so don’t lose your temper. Pine needles can hurt a cat’s paws, so clear them off the floor regularly.

Q. Is it alright to give my cat turkey as a treat?

Yes, but make sure you do not give any bones, which splinter easily.

Cat Claw Problems – How to Clip Cat Nails

how to clip cat claws

The claws of cats are sharp and help them to climb and to catch their prey. On occasions however, the claws can prove to be a handicap, particularly if they become overgrown, so it is advisable that you learn how to clip cat claws to avoid further cat claw problems. There is a risk that the cat can injure itself by tearing a claw which will be very painful. So it is important to check your cat’s claws regularly, to ensure that they remain in trim. Check your cat’s claws by gripping paw so the claws extend. Avoid cutting claws too short. Your pet Cutting the claws is not a very difficult procedure, but it may be better to leave this task to your vet.

  • Vets are experienced at restraining and clipping at the same time.
  • You may prefer to get someone to help.
  • Guillotine clippers make the task much easier.

The claws are formed of tough keratin, the same material which makes up our fingernails. In the cat’s case, the blood supply to the living tissue extends a variable distance down each claw, usually being visible here as a thin pinkish streak. In the case of an overgrown claw, it is important to know where the blood supply is because if this area of the claw is cut, then it will bleed profusely.

Correct Cat Claw Clippers

If you have never cut a cat’s claws before, seek advice from your vet, to ensure that they really do need to be trimmed back. It is also important to have proper tools for the task. Scissors are not suitable, simply because they will tend to split the claw, rather than cutting through it cleanly. This can be damaging. Special guillotine clippers of the type sold for use with small dogs are generally the best choice for cats as well.

Right Environment to Clip Cat Claws

Try not to stress your cat more than necessary when cutting its claws. Place your pet on a table or at a similarly convenient height, in an area of a room where good lighting is available. This is important so that you can see what you are doing. The task will be easier if you have someone to assist you, by gently restraining the cat and holding out each of its paws in turn so that you can concentrate on dealing with the claws.

  • Cat’s claws are sometimes found lying in the home. This happens when the cat has nibbled through the longer outer covering, exposing a new nail beneath. Claws are not shed in their entirety like hairs.
  • Older cats are more likely to suffer from overgrown claws because their level of activity declines with age.
  • The cat’s dew claws — on the inside of the front legs, raised off the ground — are most likely to become overgrown because they do not come into contact with the ground. If left, the nail will curl round into the fleshy pad behind, which will be exceedingly painful for your pet.
  • Take care cutting the claws of black cats. You will not be able to see the quick easily, because it is masked by the dark pigmentation of the claw.

Is cat claw clipping painful?

It should be no more distressing than cutting your own fingernails, although some cats may resent being restrained for this procedure. Only if you cut into the quick of the nail will it actually hurt your cat.

Can I do anything to prevent the cat claws from becoming too long?

Cats which wander outdoors are far less likely to suffer from overgrown claws, because they will wear them down naturally, by walking and climbing. A scratching post will help for cats housed indoors.

What should I do if the claw starts to bleed?

To help the clotting process, apply a styptic pencil (as sold for shaving nicks) to the bleeding end of the claw, or press there for a few moments.

Cat Teeth and Cat Dental Care

Cat Dental Care

Cat teeth are like people’s who have two sets of teeth during their lives. If they lose any of their first — or deciduous teeth — or should any of the teeth be broken or end up being removed from the jaw, then these will not regrow. The only way to replace lost teeth later in life in through Cat Dental Care.

The various teeth present in the cat’s jaws reflect its lifestyle as a hunter. There are small incisors at the front of the mouth which help to grasp prey, while the long, pointed canines at the corners of its mouth are used for killing purposes, to sever the spinal cord in the neck. Behind these are the so-called cheek teeth, in the form of premolars and molars, which help the cat in tearing food apart so that it can be swallowed easily.

Cat Dental Care

Domestic cats tend to have far less wear on their teeth compared with feral or wild cats, simply because their food is provided for them. Even so, they should become accustomed to having their mouths inspected and their teeth cleaned as necessary from an early age. Otherwise, teeth may become loosened by erosion of the gum line, caused by an accumulation of tartar. If any of your cat’s teeth need to be removed by your vet, this will require a general anaesthetic. The gum will heal rapidly, although antibiotic treatment may be required to prevent any infection. Domestic cats adapt quite easily to loss of teeth, but you may have to be prepared to change their diet, from dry to canned food, so that it will be easier for them to swallow.

  • On rare occasions, the incisor teeth may not be shed. Instead, the permanent teeth erupt in a second line, usually behind them. The first set will then have to be removed.
  • Broken canines can spell death for cats in the wild, because they are then unlikely to be able to kill their prey effectively. This leaves them facing starvation, or at risk of serious injury if they tackle large quarry.
  • In the case of an imminent fight, cats will open their mouths and draw back their lips to reveal their teeth, in the hope of intimidating a rival.

Are kittens born with teeth in their jaws?

The teeth are below the gum line at birth, and only emerge as the time for weaning approaches. The presence of teeth then makes it painful for the mother cat to suckle her offspring, and so her milk starts to dry up.

My kitten seems keen to bite my hand now that he appears to be teething. Is this normal?

Teething can be a painful and irritating process. Your cat may start chewing other items around the home, such as chair legs. Try not to allow him to bite your hand — provide a meaty dog chew instead.

Why do kittens have fewer teeth?

Their jaws are small at first, and only as these grow do they have room for more teeth.