Monday, September 28, 2009

being environmentally friendly while owning cats

I have never been an extremist in being environmentally-friendly but I do have some consciousness of saving energy and reducing waste. I think the environmental consciousness came about because owning pets means using more energy and generating more waste, however little.

The dilemma comes about when I consider the financial costs. Throwing things away in Singapore costs money through service and conservancy charges. Using water is expensive in Singapore. And with the current state our world is in electricity costs a bomb because of oil prices and higher temperatures. Of course the fact that we Singaporeans generate quite a lot of rubbish per capita, and the fact that we are heating up the planet with use of electricity also counts for something on my conscience.

And so I herewith include my thoughts on how to be more environmentally friendly as cat owners.

For starters, clearing the cat litter daily means generating trash or using water, or both. To reduce the impact of your litter trash, choose biodegradable cat litter for starters. This means that when the litter goes out of your house and begins its journey, it is less harmful to the environment. Cat sand is not biodegradable. Recycled paper and pine pellets are. If water cost is an issue, choose to discard the litter (even with flushable types of cat litter) instead of flushing it. Discard the litter together with your other trash so you use less plastic bags.

Another wastage I felt compelled to curb was of water used in washing my cat food and water bowls. Cats, being fastidious, don't like to use dirty bowls. Their water bowls also tend to get slimy from saliva accumulation. To save water - as well as my hands from detergents - we got our cats their water fountain. It does not use much electricity and I need to wash it less often because the filter insert helps me keep their water clean longer. If you want to save on the electricity, get a socket with a timer, so that you can limit when the fountain turns on and off, instead of leaving it on 24-hours.

As for accessories like toys, I make my own, re-using fabrics from old pillowcases and the like, cardboard boxes and inserts from packaging. Although there are so many cute toys out there I feel tempted to buy, I curb myself from doing so by telling myself that they already have a lot of toys, and I can make my own.

One wastage I haven't figured out how to curb is in tin cans from my cats' canned food. The usual folks who pick up aluminium cans to recycle don't do tin cans. Plus the fact that I use cling wrap to cover the tin after it's open - not advisable if you are keeping the food for long; sometimes I transfer the food into a tupperware. I have never used so much cling wrap before until the canned food craze started, which is obviously a wastage. To avoid using cling wrap yet save water on washing tupperwares, get something like a Popware lid. The small one should fit regular 170gm cans nicely. We don't have one but it looks nice and useful; we might get one in the future.

As for dry food, here are some ways to be more environmentally-conscious. Avoid requesting for re-packing of large bags of food - your pet shop will charge you for it, and you waste a lot of plastic. Get containers instead to store opened dry food. This way, you save on packaging. Buying a large quantity of cat food (10 or 15kg sizes) is also more economical. If you buy small quantities, look for cat food that comes in resealable packaging so you don't have to worry about storing it.

ubi kucing-kucing

To all the Ubi cats we have rescued, re-homed and loved before; a Flickr gallery just for them.




Not all the adoption cats have pictures on my computer, but I will keep adding to the gallery.

To read any of our past adoption posts, click the Cat-egories link 'adoption' on the sidebar to your right (also here).

If you have ever adopted a cat from Ubi Kuching Project before and want to share your story, email me [avalon.apart (at) gmail.com]. If you have a Flickr account you can also post your photos there and tag the pics 'ubikuchingproject' and post a backlink here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ferplast slicker brush

After surfing through tons of pet product websites for the Angels blog, I have come to the conclusion that the coolest website has got to be from Ferplast, a brand of pet accessories.The photos are nicely taken, the website is in super cool Flash (albeit slow to load), there are nice pics of pet animals, there is even a welcome video.

The only Ferplast item we have at home in our cat closet is the grooming brush:


This slicker brush was Andy's first ever purchase from Angels Pet Shop; he passed by the shop and saw the brush on sale, and promptly bought it to groom my darling Slinky. The small brush is meant for brushing the face - you can also use a toothbrush for facial fur - and the hook on the end is used to remove the fur from the brush. Slinky's fur requires at least three fur-removals off the brush per grooming.

A slicker brush like this one is quite an essential if you have cats with long or thick fur. Oriental Cats like Sayang will require much less grooming, and can benefit from merely hand-grooming which is probably what the cat and you will really enjoy anyway. There are other kinds of brushes available too but this one is probably the only one you really need as a starter.

Grooming your cat removes dead fur, helping your cat to eliminate incidences of hairballs as well as keeping your house clean of fur balls all over the place. Also, together with shampooing, you can look out for any skin and coat related problems on your cat's body, such as fleas, scratches or loss of fur, which may be masked by your cat's fur until you groom her.

We learnt a new trick from Aswat about using a slicker brush - first brush the fur the wrong way up, to remove all the dead fur, then brush it back the right way along the body. Either way, have fun stroking your cat with a brush!

Kitten or Adult?

A follow-up article from 'What kind of cat owner are you?'

Kittens take up a lot time throughout the day. He will need many, small meals, ranging from 2-hourly bottle feeding (for newborns up to 4 weeks) to 6-10 meals a day as he grows. Food costs will be higher for a kitten. He will also need a lot of your attention for play, warmth, socialisation and training. You will also need to bring him for sterilisation. The bonus is the satisfaction of watching him grow. Kittens are more entertaining because of their boundless energy. The bonding between owner and cat may be stronger when you rear him from young. You will also have more years together with him.

Adult cats are less time-consuming, and they eat less than kittens do. Their temperaments are already set, so choose wisely according to what kind of cat owner you are. Their habits, unsavoury or otherwise, will be harder to change; for example, if the cat is used to a litter box, you might not be able to change him towards peeing on the toilet floor instead if that is your preference. However, adult cats are less demanding of your time and attention. When you first meet them, what you see is pretty much what you get in terms of their character, full-grown size and physical characteristics. They will also likely already be sterilised, like Slinky was when she moved in; saved me the cost of neutering her. Any possible health problems will likely already be apparent, especially genetic disorders. Adult cats are also smaller in demand, so adopting an adult cat may very well save his life - many adults are put to sleep when they cannot be re-homed, to make space for kittens which have a higher chance of being adopted.

Cat Shopping Wishlist

We love shopping for our cats! But we need to stick to our budgets, as well as take time to find the right products at the right prices. Here is our kitty wishlist:

  • Shampoo & Conditioner
Our cats need new shampoo because ours has finished - all used on Vietnam. Also, Slinky is beginning to show signs of flaky skin, which we saw when we brushed her just now at Aswat's shop. I am looking at trying out two new shampoos and one conditioner:





Shampoo for pets usually costs from about $15. Three bottles of the stuff will mean a lot more at one go. But they will need shampoo soon for their next bath, and the Earthbath Oatmeal and Aloe Shampoo sounds like it will benefit Slinky's dry skin. Scooter's fur is rough, so a conditioner might make him seem less stray-catty. And the Aristopet shampoo is the dog & cat version of the Hobo cat one we used, which might come in handy when we next need to give a rescued dog a bath. But that one probably can wait, since our cats now don't have flea problems.

  • Strawberry open bed for Slinky

We hope to place this one on our sofa, as Slinky enjoys snoozing on it. Having a bed there will minimise the amount of surface area I need to clean off my sofa because of her fur. It also matches our decor, plus it is cute. We saw Queenie at Little Paws @ Telok Kurau sleep in one at the shop sofa and we really would want the same one for our Slinky. Here's a sketchy visualisation -



Isn't it cute and nice?

  • 1 storey cat tower with sitting area on top / cat perch
This cat furniture idea would be great for our kitchen. Our dining table has 4 chairs, but me and Andy plus the 3 pusses makes 5, which means we are 1 chair short if all of us want to gather at the kitchen together.

We already don't let the cats go on top of the dining table. But they really do enjoy snoozing and hanging out on the dining chairs. A short perch for the cats would make a nice addition to our collection of cat furniture, like an additional chair for the dining table. Otherwise we might end up seeing something like this in our kitchen:

Which we obviously don't want. The low height of a cat perch would also still be safe for the cats, because our dining area is very near the kitchen windows.






  • UniqTag name tag for Scooter
It is about time we got him his, now that he is big enough to wear one. The girls already have theirs.

  • 'Scooter' charm for Scooter
Our cats have cute costume jewellery charms on their collars: Slinky's is of a silver fat cat, Sayang's is of a pink heart, Scooter's is of the letter 'S', because I could never find a charm of a scooter. This one would be ideal:

But it is not sold in Singapore, sadly. The search goes on.

  • Balloon sticks and feathers
...to make feather teaser toys. Slinky loves teaser type toys especially, but at the rate she destroys them, I need these toys in bulk. The solution is to buy the raw materials and make them myself. After some thinking, I reckoned that balloon sticks, feathers and some ribbons and glue will give me plenty of teaser toys to use as toys for her. I just need to get them cheap and in large quantities. I used to buy the feather teasers from Pet Lovers Centre at $1.90 each (they come in yellow or pink) but those have been phased out - I don't see them in stores anymore. My raw materials have to be cheaper than $1.90 per finished product so that it is worth it for me to purchase them.

  • Kitty stickers
I am forever on the search of nice stickers, perhaps because I completely bypassed the sticker-collection stage when I was a little girl. I want to find nice stickers to decorate all our cats' things such as their litter box and their feeding area. Don't you think it would look cute? -


And so the search continues for kitty stickers.

We'll keep searching, and shopping - prudently, but with a lot of fun. Happy shopping!

matching your local cat to a breed

I mentioned before that Scooter's characteristics match very closely to the Ocicat which is a Siamese-Abyssinian cross. He has strong hunter instincts, which also matches the personality of the Ocicat breed:
Ocicats are a very outgoing breed. They are often considered to have the spirit of a dog in a cat's body. Most can easily be trained to fetch, walk on a leash and harness, come when called, speak, sit, lie down on command and a large array of other dog-related tricks. Most are especially good at feline agility because they are very toy-driven. Some even take readily to the water. Ocicats are also very friendly. They will typically march straight up to strangers and announce that they'd like to be petted. This makes them great family pets, and most can also get along well with animals of other species, although they are likely to assert their dominance over all involved. Ocicats make excellent pets for people who want to spend a lot of time with their cat, but they do require more attention than cats who aren't so people-oriented. Given the chance, an Ocicat will climb onto your neck and shoulders, and be transported around your home and garden. They have very powerful claws, so beware of delicate fabrics.
He definitely likes playing, with Sayang, and fetch with his favourite ball. He is outgoing too, showing very little fear towards strangers - cat and human alike.

As for Sayang, she is a typical Oriental cat: skinny long tail, dainty bone structure, easy to groom, vocal and attention-seeking, agile - she can jump heights very well - very needy and affectionate with the people she knows, and very gentle despite being extremely playful.

If you have an Oriental, you definitely need cat furniture, lots of toys, and be a homebody to spend time with her more often. In fact most local cats in Singapore tend to be Orientals. Hobbes and his brother are two other classic Oriental-types - vocal, affectionate, with the same bony facial structure and thin, long bodies. Your cat may very well be just like Sayang.

As for Slinky, she has the physical characteristics of a British Shorthair or Russian Blue - thick, short coat (these breeds have Persian bloodline), large bone structure, and a laid-back temperament, the kind of cat to sit next to you and be stroked while you do your own things. British Shorthairs are also prone to swallowing their food without chewing, which is exactly like Slinky, and are therefore more prone to teeth and gum problems. Slinky matches almost every characteristic of this breed perfectly:

British Shorthairs are large and muscular, and are described as having a cobby build. The breed has a broad chest, shoulders and hips with short legs, round paws and a plush but not fluffy tail that ends in a round or blunt tip.
British Shorthairs are an easygoing breed of cat. They have a stable character and take well to being kept as indoor only cats, making them ideal for apartment living. They are not terribly demanding of attention, although they will let you know if they feel like playing and enjoy mouse type or stick style toys. They are not hyperactive or "in your face" cats, preferring to sit next to you or near you rather than on you. They will tend to supervise household activities either watching from a comfy perch or laying on the floor nearby.

British Shorthairs are wonderful cats for people who work, as they are very happy just to laze around the house while you are out. They don't get destructive or need other animals for company, though they do enjoy having another British Shorthair or a cat with similar temperament around.

They like attention and enjoy being petted. They are not a very vocal breed but will meow to communicate with their owners. For example, they might meow when they are hungry and their food is being prepared. They may also meow at their favourite toy as they play with it. They tend to scratch doors to signal they want it to be opened rather than meowing like most cats. British Shorthair cats have a tendency to follow people from room to room, as they may want to be with you and see what is going on. Some do not mind being cuddled, but most prefer to keep four paws on the ground and have you pat them rather than pick them up.


Try matching your local cat to a breed and it may help you understand him even better, it's quite fun and educational!

slinky's pedicure


Some time back we got Slinky nail caps for her front claws; well, it was more for ourselves really, so that we won't get scratched by her when we try to hug her. She hates being hugged and isn't afraid to lash out at anyone with her claws unsheathed. For a better look at what these pet nail caps look like see this website.

We bought our nail caps at Little Paws @ Telok Kurau for $18/20pcs, in smallest size. There is a variety of colours, you can mix and match. Nail glue provided.

(As usual, we were sold on this product because the resident cat at Little Paws, Queenie, has these nail caps herself and they looked great.)

We first did her pedicure just around the time Scooter arrived in our family. It was quite timely because she did give Scooter one slap, and he survived it.

We had a hard time applying her nail caps because firstly we had to trim her nails, which we had never done for her before until then; she always keeps her nails trim by stropping. Trimming was easy but Slinky hates being hugged and held, wailing in rebellion throughout the whole procedure. It took us almost an hour to get the pedicure done. The pedicure lasted about 2 months, surviving her regular stropping. We had fun watching her try to slap us and yet not hurting from it. It was also very pretty, and every time she walked there was a click-clack noise. Cute!

After the nails dropped off - they fall off naturally as the cat's nails grow - Andy and I were a tad reluctant to re-do her nails because it was so much effort. Thankfully, Aswat offered to try to do it for us as a favour, and also to try out the application of the caps himself, since he is a pet groomer anyway but had yet to try out such fancy pet-nails before. We brought her out to the shop today; Slinky was his first 'guinea pig' to try this product out.

He did it with such knack we were suitably impressed. But of course, he is a pet groomer. We are such amateurs ourselves! Andy helped to clean the shop shelves as an inadequate favour in return. (Grooming of nails at Angels is $5). If ever in future he does bring in this product to his shop, he would be great at doing this for his customers.

These nail-caps come in a variety of sizes, the cat ones being the smallest. They would work very well for dogs too, especially big doggies, because when they pounce or step on you it actually kind of hurts sometimes. For cats, owners can have their furniture not in shreds anymore, and if there are young kids around in the house, the nail caps serve as protection for better kid-cat interaction. It would do very well also for cats that are simply a bit more violent in nature, like Slinky is. For us, apart from aesthetics, we just like the idea of being closer to Slinky without getting ourselves scratched!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Successful Adoption Story - Marie and Chomel


Hello! I would like to share the story of our adopted kittens and thank Ubi Kuching Project for giving us the opportunity to adopt such lovable creatures.

Sometime back in late May 2009, we adopted two female kittens from Ubi Kuching Project. They were then a month old. We named them Marie and Chomel respectively. They have grown into such fine and beautiful young cats who constantly bring joy and laughter into our family with their funny and crazy antics. Everyday is a splendid fun-filled day with them. Adopting them was the best decision ever made!

With regards;
Sue


Thanks Sue for writing in! There were so many lovable photos of the girls, I couldn't fit them all here; view the pics Sue sent of Chomel and Marie here.

what kind of cat owner are you?

Andy and I believe that when it comes to owning a cat, choosing the right one boils down to four deciding factors.
  • Your Budget
  • Your Schedule
  • Your Lifestyle
  • Your Personality
Budget
Keeping a cat can cost you as little as $10 a month. As for Andy and I, we spend $100-$200 a month on our three cats, which is about $50 a cat a month. There are owners out there of course who spend a lot more, buying better food than ours, providing their cats lots of beds, furniture and accessories.

If you are on a low budget, get a cat that is very easy to care for - shorthaired, adult cat. Longhairs need a lot more grooming. Pedigrees need better food, and may be prone to genetic problems, which means higher vet costs. Kittens need a lot more food.


Schedule
A kitten needs almost round-the-clock attention: feeding, playing, cleaning, clearing the poo. You cannot leave him alone throughout the day by himself. If you have to, you will need to get him a pen to keep him safe, with food and litter tray close by. This means extra cost; refer to 'Budget' above.

An Oriental or Siamese cat will be lonely when you are out at work and she is at home by herself. She will need company, so it will have to be two cats, or lots of toys, or a 24-hour radio to keep her from being lonely.

Or you will need to get an independent type of cat, who doesn't mind being alone at home in the day by herself.


Lifestyle
If your hobbies are activities like staying at home and reading, watching telly, pottering around the house, cats are definitely more for you. However you can definitely rope your cat in to your outdoor social activities by getting a kitten - especially Siamese and Orientals - and bringing him around with you with a harness or leash. If you prefer a lot of alone-time when you are at home, you will need cats that are less active and attention-seeking, or else get them plenty of independent type of toys.


Personality
Do you like physical affection? If you like hugging and making cats purr, you will do well with cats that have that kind of affectionate personality. That should be a deciding factor when you choose your cat, not whether she has pretty fur. If you simply enjoy looking at your cat snooze next to you while you read, cats with Persian genes will do very well for you. If you enjoy making your cats pretty, then you will enjoy buying her accessories like pretty collars, cute cat beds and the like. If you like grooming your cat to make her look and smell great, you will do well with breeds like Persians which benefit the most from daily grooming. If you enjoy dinnertime with your cat, watching him eat greedily, you need to choose a greedy cat!

For to-be cat-owners, hope this helps you decide on what kind of cat personality you are, and what personality your prospective new cat should be.

Aswat's Cat Treat Recipes 1

Aswat has this ancient collection of interesting cat treat recipes which he dug up and re-typed using his old typewriter to give me a copy (he is totally un-IT). He had collected them from all over, selecting the best recipes to add to his cache of cat recipes.

Some of these recipes need to be modified a little to match the current education level we have about today's pet cats' diets. I have yet to try them out myself, but for starters I will share one here, providing healthier (as well as cheaper) alternatives to the suggested ingredients.


Stuffed Mackerel a la Pussycat!
Ingredients:
  • 2 mackerel fillets (or any other fish fillets more easily available such as salmon, tuna, red snapper or dory)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (I normally use either olive oil or canola oil)
  • 3-5 strands of long pasta e.g. angel hair, spaghetti, linguine or fettucine (you can use wholewheat pasta as a healthier alternative)
  • 100gm ham (you can also use unprocessed meat instead which you can season with herbs like rosemary or basil; alternatively soak the ham in water to reduce the salt and preservative content)
  • 2 tablespoons boiled rice (white rice is easier to cook but brown rice is healthier)
  • 1 tablespoon oats soaked in water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (note that the canned variety contains salt)

Method:
  1. Heat the oil and fry the fish fillets on all sides till golden brown colour. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the pasta strands till al dente.
  3. Cut the ham/meat into small pieces, and mix with the cooked rice, oats and tomato paste.
  4. Spread one fillet with the ham-rice mixture and set the other fillet on top, to make a 'sandwich'.
  5. Carefully tie the stuffed fillets with the pasta strands.
A note about tomatoes - some people claim that tomatoes are not entirely cat-friendly; this is true only of unripe tomatoes and tomato plant parts, not the red ripe fruit that we use for cooking. In fact, Sayang likes tomato; I have found her once sneaking up on my pasta plate left on the dinner table before Andy got round to washing it. A lot of premium cat food brands also use tomatoes as one of the ingredients, for its Vitamin A, C and antioxidants.

I don't have most of the ingredients right now, but I think I am might try this one with dory fillet, luncheon meat, and breadcrumbs to substitute the mackerel, ham and oats respectively. Unfortunately tonight I am already tired out from cooking actual human dinners for Andy and myself, so this will probably have to wait. This recipe by the way seems the easiest of all, for half-cooks like myself...

Until the next recipe, try this out if you like cooking for your cats and have these ingredients ready. Enjoy!

Edit:
I just found some energy to try my version of this recipe out.
Scooter is eating it right now... but not much of it. The rest of the cats don't like it. I put it in the bowl set outside our house for the strays like Mommy Cat and Daddy Cat. They ate it all!

The tricky part is the tying of the pasta, which didn't really work out for me in the end.

I also ate some of it, it is actually delicious.

Friday, September 25, 2009

about pet shops, small businesses, and blogging

Helping out at Angels Pet Shop - which is the re-homing and rescue central for cats in Ubi - has become very much a part of mine and Andy's daily routine. When there is no rescue or adoption work to be done, we hang out there with other pet owners in Ubi, spend time with Aswat, and help him out with his business.

There are very few pet shops in Singapore we like very much; our basic belief centres around shops with truly knowledgeable and caring staff, shops with great cat-stuff, and those that don't sell animals because we believe in adoption. Apart from Angels Pet Shop, our only other favourite pet shop is Little Paws at Telok Kurau, which is pretty much the atas version of Angels: they have resident cats Queenie and Crombie - both previously strays, the shop is cat-friendly, and Kyra is extremely compassionate towards animals. We also frequent Pet Lovers Centre at Parkway for everything else we cannot buy from small shops; they only sell small animals, the staff there are knowledgeable - one of them even tries out the pet food herself so that she knows how they fare taste-wise. But of course, being Ubi residents we try to get our cat essentials from Angels to support meaningful, small pet businesses.

Which is why I have been busy helping Angels Pet Shop set up a blog.

It is still a work in progress, as you will see if you do visit the site, and also a very amateur attempt because I am no IT-trained geek - I graduated with a very general degree in management - but it can hopefully be harnessed to market Angels Pet Shop to pet owners, share its philosophy with netizens, and re-home other animals other than cats. In fact, at present there are other animals needing adoption at Angels right now (Syrian hamsters, 3 Netherland Dwarf rabbits and one Rex guinea pig), which I do not post here because I think cat people generally only want to read cat stuff; I made the only exception with Vietnam. Currently Andy helps out in the small animal adoption work by posting on online classified sites like 88db and Mocca.

Apart from the Angels blog, we sometimes hang out at the shop to (in Andy's case, he never owned a dog before) learn how to care for dogs, help clean up the shop, make signboards and labels (that's me, because I have girly handwriting), and act as Mandarin translators and pet educators for Chinese-speaking customers since Aswat is cakap melayu. We wish we could do more, such as invest in the shop, but we are poor folks. So we help out in other ways and derive enjoyment from doing so.

In fact, now would be an apt time to thank all of you who have gone out of your way to visit Angels Pet Shop from regions beyond Ubi, be it whether to adopt cats or to buy stuff. We know you are out there, wanting to adopt cats from Angels, reading about stuff at the shop like Angels Pet Shop cat grass and calling to ask for it (Aswat still hasn't gotten round to making a new batch for sale by the way).

For those of you who haven't yet been to the shop - here are some nearby Ubi shops and activities you might want to try, and hopefully pop by Angels at the same time.
  • Big China (Da Zhong Guo) Mooncakes are on sale now at Blk 302! They are cheap and superb and come in really cool, retro brown paper bags.
  • Along Ubi Ave 2 there are various wholesale foodstuff stores - roast meats, kueh-kueh, which are apparently very popular, evidenced by the long car-queues.
  • For Easterners - Shop n Save at Blk 306 - the alternative to Sheng Siong @ Bedok Reservoir and Giant @ Parkway.
  • At Ubi we virtually have every shop possible, except maybe a bookshop and a pharmacy. We have at least 2 bicycle shops, 2 spectacle shops, an aquarium shop, clinics belonging to all sorts of HMOs, TCM clinics, 2 cheap toiletries shops, around 17 coffee shops (1 with soccer), 3 hardware stores that sell everything, 3 electrical appliances shops, 3 bubble tea shops (1 is pet-friendly), 2 cheap cigarettes shops (save 80c per pack), 1 florist, 4 confectioneries... the list is endless.
  • SPCA is not far from us, just 1 road - Paya Lebar Road - between Ubi and Bartley Road.
  • Do some charity work beyond animal lives: at Blk 301 we have a Touch Community Services' branch that houses intellectually disabled folks. They have a thrift shop that the residents manage themselves as a social enterprise.
  • Take a walk for good health in the east. Two good routes - take a walk in Bedok Reservoir, then head down (south?) to Ubi! Another is a route we like - walking from our house through Still Road to pass by 5 pet shops: Angels @ Ubi, Pet Tales @ Eunos (specialises in pedigree cats, though I am not their customer), Little Paws @ Telok Kurau, Benji Pet @ Telok Kurau (very cheap pet supplies) and finally Pet Lovers Centre at Parkway - 45mins in total, excluding shop visitation time. You can even head all the way to East Coast Park from Parkway after that...
  • Envious of dog owners having doggie gatherings? We have cat gatherings in Ubi very often, usually involving only kittens because they are more sociable. It is real fun interacting with other cat owners and watching the kittens play and swear at one another.
  • Of course, if you really don't want to travel, Angels actually does home delivery (evenings). Just call them up to ask.
And in case you are wondering, Andy and I don't share the profits of Angels in any way, we just really want to help a meaningful business. We get to enjoy doing it, and Aswat gives us discounts for a lot of the stuff we buy from the shop anyway. I enjoy blogging, have a natural tendency towards business, and feel fulfilled doing meaningful things.

Speaking of blogging, I still have a lot more posts I want to write here on Ubi Kuching Project. Thank you for reading, and do keep visiting!

more cat uses for vinegar

Remember I once mentioned you can use vinegar in the house as a cat-friendly alternative to detergents?

We also hear that cider vinegar is good for dogs, but what about cats?

I came across this article on various catty-uses for vinegar:
  • Use vinegar to clean out a kitty litter pan. Remove the litter, and pour in 1/2 inch of vinegar. Let the vinegar stand for 15 minutes. Pour it out, and thoroughly dry the pan. Then sprinkle it with baking soda, and add fresh kitty litter.
  • To discourage your cats from walking on, sleeping on, or scratching certain items in your home, lightly sprinkle items with vinegar. The smell will keep cats away.
  • Control general scratching by regularly wiping the ear area with a cloth dipped in vinegar.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to the water bowl to improve overall health and digestion.
  • Clean up urinary accidents in your home by drying the soiled area and then applying undiluted vinegar. The vinegar will help control the odor and keep your pet from visiting the area again.
I think I only have black vinegar and balsamic vinegar in the house, so I can't try any of these yet, but I might someday and see how it works out.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tommy and Tammy


This is Tammy, one of the neutered Ubi strays.

Her story involves one very sad birth of three kittens, which were all killed by a car accident. A previous litter of four kittens were successfully re-homed by Aswat. This was before she was neutered.

She was incredibly hard to trap, extremely human-shy and reserved. But after neutering, she became much friendlier.

She now eats at Angels Pet Shop almost daily.

This bowl belongs to Tommy, who has been the resident cat at Angels Pet Shop ever since it opened. Tommy was one of the first strays to be neutered in Ubi.



When Tammy visits, Tommy actually gives way to her to let her eat from his bowl. Which is quite unlike him! He is a spoilt cat, picky with his food and hates to be showered or cuddled - Andy has quite a few scratches from forcing cuddles on Tommy. Tommy's usual activities involve patrolling outside the shop in the day and hiding under cars in the night.

re-homing

Animals needing re-homing fall into the following categories in my opinion:
  • The animal is a stray, needing intervention because it is sick, or at risk. Examples: young kittens, animals at real risk of being culled.
  • The animal is a pet, needing intervention because the owner can no longer take care of it well. Examples: the owner is moving to a smaller house or the owner's pet is not living well in its current home.
  • The animal is a stray, recently abandoned and unable to survive as a stray. Example: cats that are abandoned because they are pregnant.
Not all strays need to be re-homed. They may actually live better as strays. Assess carefully before intervening in any way.

Some humans who intervene and choose to re-home animals according to the above criteria tend to want to foster the animals till they are re-homed. But we cannot possibly foster all the animals that need intervention; cruel fact is, there are more disadvantaged and needy animals than there is space or resources. In fact, overloading this limited foster-space may very well detriment the welfare of each fostered animal. Just think of the really terribly sick and unwell animals you may have come across in some homes or shelters with too many animals. You cannot take care of all disadvantaged animals permanently.

An example is Hobbes, who suffered multiple problems as a stray cat - car accident, liver problem. Tried as we might, we could not find him a home. We had to release him back to his stray territory and monitor his condition. We still do. Likewise, Vietnam the dog. We could not keep him because of space constraint - no space at home (our cats), no space at Angels Pet Shop (he is too big). We have to monitor their conditions as strays, and had only released them when their well-being had improved. That is the best we can do for animals like Hobbes and Vietnam given our limitations.

Does this mean that Hobbes and Vietnam are lost causes, no longer needing re-homing? I think the way to determine so, is through a means like medic's triage. If we are like a hospital, we cannot possibly ward every patient permanently. Some patients require swift attention and they can be saved for real. Some patients cannot be saved and we should not waste our resources on them (like Sayang's father). Some patients will do well with some short-term care but are able to do well if they are discharged, with continuous outpatient treatment.

Vietnam and Hobbes are like our outpatients. They still deserve help. We just can't 'ward' them permanently.

I feel bad that we cannot keep fostering animals like Nam and Hobbes till we can re-home them. But the truth is, as 'outpatients' we still have their 'medical records' 'on file' and we still have 'consultations' with them. Anyone who wants to visit them, possibly even adopt them - they are still alive and around, just as 'outpatients'. We monitor their conditions whether or not they will ever be re-homed. Is that cruel of us now, that we cannot foster them for long?

For those of you out there who also do animal rescue work, I am sure you will encounter similar scenarios. To be honest, I am disheartened that I cannot do more for animals that should be re-homed but cannot be fostered permanently. I am even more disheartened when people reject helping animals like Vietnam simply because he is now just another construction site dog.

But I guess this is the reality.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

yay more milk

We bought Cosi pet milk for our cats again, they really love it, all three of them.

Milk is good stuff, containing calcium, which is a dietary requirement for cats just like for humans.

The food groups that contain high calcium - milk and other dairy products like cheese and yoghurt; legumes such as peas, alfafa and other kinds of beans; and bones. Pet milk, cheese, yoghurt and bean-type vegetables are easy to serve, but how about bones? We hear that you can pressure-cook fish till the bones turn soft enough for your cat to eat. Never tried it myself, but one of the cat owners in Ubi does that - pressure-cook fish bought daily from the markets, serve everything.

If you are cooking for your cats, remember that grains and meats have lower levels of calcium. In the past when there was no such thing as pet foods - just table scraps - calcium deficiencies were more common in pet animals but they are much rarer now that we are more informed. Just remember to balance your recipes.

As for the rest of us who use commercial foods, milk can be one of the ways to vary your cat's diet. Some nights, instead of kibbles or canned food for supper, you can half the amount of kibbles and serve them milk alongside their food bowl. Variety is the spice of life as they say; a gradually varied diet can add some interest to your cat's life.

Have fun lapping it up!

wth is 'ash' in my cat's food?

All pet foods contain 'ash' in their formulations. This is a term that needs to be explained, since some may think of ash in the context of fireplace residue and assume that fireplace ash has been added to perhaps bulk up the food. This, happily, is not the case.

Ash is not an additive in pet food. In fact, it is quite the reverse. Measuring existing ash content in a sample of pet food is a way of determining and describing the maximum mineral content of the food. The reason it is called ash is that, if you heat a sample of pet food to burn off all the organic components (which are combustible), you are left with the inorganic residue, which denotes the level of mineral in the sample, since minerals are the only inorganic (non-combustible) elements.

These minerals are primarily potassium and phosphorous, with smaller amounts of iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and sodium, as well as trace amounts of many other minerals.

The ash content is important to know, not only to indicate the mineral content, but the quality of the protein present in the food. A high quality protein product will produce ash content generally no higher than 3%. While a small amount of mineral content is important to good nutrition, high quality protein content is essential. Look for this balance in the ingredients list.
(I chanced upon this while trying to find out if cats can benefit from eating tripe, which is basically innards, like spleen/melts which they definitely can eat. Seems like tripe is primarily palatable only to dogs. Anyway, ash...)

To my layman understanding, I think the ash concept also relates to how much cat food ought to be 'cooked'; pedigree cat owners often feed raw meat to their felines before cat shows. There is of course an intricate balance to be maintained in how 'cooked' cat food should be - too cooked, you basically burn up the good stuff into 'ash'. Too raw, you are exposing your cat to bacteria that is typically present in raw meats, and even raw or semi-cooked eggs (FYI whole eggs should not be a daily diet as they interfere with the cat's vitamin B absorption). Palatability and the smell of their poo also may be affected with raw meats.

Raw meat however is definitely good for the cat to self-clean her teeth with. Cats who especially like to swallow their food whole without chewing (like Slinks) will be more likely to suffer from teeth and gum problems. Which is why I like to give them freeze-dried meat treats that they enjoy eating and will definitely chew.

Recently I have stopped cooking for my cats because Andy complains of the washing up he has to do after I cook. I have previously served my cats rare ground beef before but they are quite neutral towards it, not crazy like they are over their more preferred foods like fish. So I won't really know if raw meat diets will really make them healthier or not, since I am not a pedigree cat breeder. I guess we will just stick to the ash in our usual foods.

random

For some reason, there seems to be random sightings of new stray kittens in our neighbourhood. But because they seem to roam around, unsure of their new territory, they are sighted infrequently, making it hard for us to feed or manage them. Will report more when we can trace the profiles of these new kittens and cats.

On the adoption front; Angels Pet Shop will be re-opened tomorrow after the Hari Raya holiday, and will be free for boarding rescued and abandoned cats again. Right now, in Ubi there are no cat rescue cases as of yet, but at least the space is now available if any emergency arises.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

stress no more, for now

Our cats are now happily eating dinner.

Just now, we brought Vietnam down for a walk and a visit to Angels Pet Shop. We let him roam around on the grass, and somehow he finally decided to head 'home' to the construction site. We don't know if he will come back to us this time, but for now, it is peace and stress-less for us and our cats.

We will still check on Vietnam every now and then. His skin condition has already improved and he is already much better than he was when we found him over the weekend. We still hope someone will give him a permanent home so he can be safe off the streets. If he returns to our house, we will foster him. Either way, we will keep an eye on him.

stressed cats

Our cats are still stressed out over Vietnam's presence in the house, even though he is behind a closed door in our room.

They have regained part of their appetites but Scooter has taken to hiding under the sofa to nap.

I miss them! They will usually come to the room to look for me for cuddles. Now they totally cannot enter the room.

I just tried to re-introduce them again in the house, and Slinky started wailing. All Vietnam did was approach them happily, whining - this time he did not bark - and the cats totally didn't show any friendliness.

We really hope to rehome him soon.

more about Vietnam



  • His current favourite toy is a rubber shoe we got as a free gift from Pet Lovers Centre. It is now no longer a shoe.
  • He falls asleep easily when I burn some essential oils such as lavender to calm him, or tea tree oil for his itch. A spray of chamomile and orange on his towel and he is completely relaxed and snoozing.
  • He loves cats and birds and seems to want to 'herd' them, or play with them - every time we are out on his walks he stops to stare at cats and birds. His favourite outdoor activity is running through the birds roosting in the Ubi field.
  • He is a classic mongrel: does not bark much, does not do his business in the house, does not shed much fur, and is amazingly obedient, knowing his name, and when he is scolded.
  • His appetite has improved! He is now eating two meals a day. He drinks plenty of water.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Vietnam the dog

Edit: Vietnam has decided to go 'home' to his construction site. But we will still keep an eye on him to make sure he is okay, and we still hope to find him a permanent, safe and loving home.


This is Vietnam, a beautiful mongrel with short black-and-white fur, with just a bit of curly fur on the top of his back like a mane - similar to native dogs found in Vietnam.

He hails from the construction site behind our Ubi field. He had many doggie-playmates there, and we used to feed them every weekend when the site workers were off-work.

Recently, we found out that all of his family members and friends have been taken away. Perhaps by pest control, and dumped elsewhere. Perhaps by AVA, and culled. We don't know. We know for sure that they are no longer there.

Vietnam somehow managed to escape the culling. But he was skinny and in bad shape. We took him home to clean and medicate him, and are now fostering him.

He is now much better. We have showered him, used Frontline on him to clear his fur of fleas and ticks. We have also applied medicine on parts of his fur that had dermatitis and it has now improved.


He is a very happy dog, yet very obedient. He hardly barks, and does his business only when he brought for walks twice daily. He has not messed up our house in anyway - he does not shed much fur, and he is content to simply lying beside you in the room. He really makes a very good house dog indeed.

However, he cannot get along with our cats, because our cats are not used to dogs being in the house. Unlike some cats that see dogs every day of their lives, ours are terrified and have been staying outside the room where Vietnam is staying with us. This is the main reason why we need to rehome him. Even though we love him very much, we cannot provide him the best homewhere he can roam freely around the house. We also need to take care of our cats' well-being. We believe that there is a better home out there for him.


Vietnam's skin problem has improved somewhat, but as you can see from this picture he has not fully recovered - some parts of his fur is still red. We will foster him while we find him a new owner, applying his medicine daily and feeding him low-allergen food. He will do well with a veterinary check-up to de-worm him and get his vaccines, as well as get sterilised. He is otherwise very healthy. He is currently eating Acana Lamb & Apple dry food - he prefers dry food to anything else - and we are using Sulferene for his skin.


We will give him away together with his blanket, Acana food, and collar, to ensure he eases in to his new home well. He would do well in a household where there are no cats. He is however very sociable with other dogs. He is already used to being leashed and walked and will listen to basic commands.

If you would like to adopt him or visit him, call Andy at 8127 7072 or email me at avalon.apart@ gmail.com.

cats and dog

Edit: We have decided to try our best to re-home Vietnam to give him a better home, where he can roam freely instead of being confined in a room away from our cats. More of him on a later post.

Sometimes it is not that we choose our pets, but that our pets choose us. This is how Slinky became my cat, and also how Vietnam has now become our dog.

We usually go visit Vietnam and his friends and family on weekends. But this weekend, when we went, it turns out that all his doggy friends are no longer around. Perhaps they have been culled. To make sure, we even went twice. They were indeed all missing.

Vietnam himself was in bad shape: lonely, skinny, and showing signs of dermatitis on his fur. He had very little appetite, and was extremely dirty.

We brought him home to give him a bath, hoping that in future if he knew where we lived he could find us for food.

He never left after that.

We tried to bring him 'home' to the construction site many times after that bath and flea treatment. He always came back to our house.

Our cats are terrified. I hope this will improve with time, because right now they cannot enter our room where Vietnam is staying with us. Eventually, I hope things will improve. I don't think putting him back at the construction site will work anymore. If our cats and Vietnam cannot get along eventually, I guess we will have to rehome him.

For now, he is living in our house. We apply skin medicine for him twice daily, and feed him proper dog food (Acana Lamb & Apple) and clean water. He sleeps in our room, and we bring him down for walks and daily business twice a day. Tomorrow when work days start again, Andy will have to bring him for walks before and after work.

Vietnam is not my first dog, but it is different this time for me because we now live in a flat; my old dogs had plenty of room to play and run in my parents' place.

Plus I have never kept both dogs and cats in the same house before. I spend time with the cats in the kitchen now, feeding them canned food more so that they will eat - cats lose their appetites when a stranger is around in the house. I am worried about Slinky because her toilet is in our room - I will have to bring her in for her toilette when Vietnam is out for walks with Andy. Vietnam has lived with cats before but he seems to see cats in general as playmates - i.e. to run and play catching with. He hardly barks, which helps, but he is so big compared to them.

Now, time for me to go give some TLC to the cats in the kitchen. Vietnam has Andy in the room with him, and it seems, to him that is more than enough.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

miao miao!

Seeds Miao Miao 170gm food has arrived at Angels Pet Shop! Now we have a good value-for-money canned food choice just in our neighbourhood.

We just tried the Tuna with Shrimp flavour tonight for Scooter's supper. Slinky lapped up the leftovers.



Seeds Miao Miao / Cat Diary canned food is available at Angels Pet Shop for $1.30 per 170gm can.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Goodbye

Sayang's father, a stray black and white un-neutered male, was seriously injured in a car accident, and has been put to sleep.



He was a friendly cat, affectionate towards familiar people, vocal, which is probably where Sayang got her temperament from. I am just glad my cats are safe away from traffic in our home.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

repellent

Remember I once wrote my thoughts about aromatherapy for cats? Here's more.

You may know about a product in the market known as Ssscat, which when used, prevents cats from jumping on or clawing sofas and countertops, perhaps even window grilles. This is among other ways you can get your cat to avoid these surfaces, apart from some simple housekeeping and cat training.

Many cats are allergic to citrus scents. The only citrus scent I have in my aromatherapy collection is satsuma, or Japanese sweet orange. Recently my tenant gave me a gift, which was an aroma diffuser, and it was lemongrass, which belongs to the citrus family as well. It turns out that I myself am allergic to lemongrass, and so is Slinky, because I saw her eye tearing the next day after I used it in the house, just like mine did. (An unfortunate accident also caused my lemongrass oil to spill on my rosemary plant, thereby almost killing it, but that is another story.)

There are other scents that also belong to the citrus family, such as citronella (the 'mosquito' plant) which is used in Ssscat together with lemongrass, and lemon oil.

I decided to make my own cat repellent by adding a few drops of satsuma oil to my glass detergent, to see if the cats will now totally avoid the coffee table top after I clean it. So far so good, no cat is present on that table!

You can try making your own cat repellent too. Add a few drops of essential oil (lemongrass, orange, lemon, citronella) into your usual detergent used for cleaning your counter tops or table tops. If you don't have any citrus oils, take some orange or lemon peel and add it into water. Then spray on the sofa or whichever.

Remember for use on fabrics to always test your product on a small swatch to make sure it doesn't stain; this is applicable to anything you buy for your own house use.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

human visitors

Our three cats have different personalities when it comes to human strangers.

Slinky is extremely hospitable, often being the first the greet the visitors at the doorstep, and willing to hang out in the same room as us, allowing visitors to take her picture - she is very good at posing for pictures.

Sayang is extremely shy around strangers, and the only one she lovingly enjoys hugs from is Aswat, whom she knows as her rescuer. She usually hides in some 'safe' place in the house until the strangers are gone. She is especially afraid of children.

Scooter acts like as if nothing is happening, and he is like this even when he is in someone else's house. He goes around doing his usual routine and is daring enough to go up to a visitor to sniff them out. We brought him to visit Aswat at his house with his five cats and he was totally at ease with them, just sitting there in the open and unafraid. He has never been afraid of other cats and I guess it is because he comes from a big family.

pilling

I just read the funniest post about giving pills to cats, here.

As for our cats, I find small pills easy to feed to Scooter, which I sneak into his food. He swallows in huge bites so he doesn't realise there is hidden medicine. For pastes and liquid medicines any spills will be licked by the cat, so it is still ingested. Another way I use is to pound the pill into powder and administer with water (glucose optional) using a syringe.

The best way of course is to open the cat's mouth, insert the pill, close his mouth and stroke his throat. But 'ware the spit-out pill, if it happens, re-pill as said in the article!

Always end the pilling with a treat to take the medicine taste away and to help them swallow the pill fully.

There are also pill administers or whatever you call them, which is like a syringe, probably available from vets.

The main pills we have on hand are:
  • Danzen, an anti-inflammatory / pain killer
  • Loperamide, an anti-diarrhoeal
  • Chlorpheniramine. an anti-histamine
You will note that these are also human medicines which, in lower doses, are used for veterinary purposes. Never give a cat Panadol as it is toxic to them.

Monday, September 14, 2009

wellness chicken

For some reason, the Wellness chicken flavour we got for our cats is giving Scooter and Sayang a tinge of diarrhoea. At first I thought it was because Scooter was due for his last dose of deworming but it has not changed his poo much until I gave him some anti-diarrhoeal medicine.

I think we probably won't buy Wellness anymore, Natural Balance is still the best, albeit costlier, alternative. We will alternate this with our Seeds canned food to balance out our budget.

glossy coats

Ever since Slinky first became my cat, her fur became nicer and deliciously smooth to stroke, which was one of the visible benefits of her diet; prior to that she was basically eating regular stray cat food.

Apart from grooming them once a week (or fortnightly if we are busy) we try to stroke them often, as shorthair cats benefit from what is called 'hand grooming'. This removes dead fur as well as buffs the coat, much the way our leather wallets get more shiny with use. We don't bathe our cats too often, perhaps once in a month on average, since they don't get very dirty.

Our two main shampoos are Avoderm and Hobo.

Avoderm Natural Skin and Coat Shampoo for both cats and dogs



AvoDerm Natural Skin & Coat Shampoo for dogs and cats is a penetrating therapeutic shampoo formulated to help relieve scratching and itching caused by dry skin. AvoDerm Natural Skin & Coat Shampoo is formulated with real avocado oil, nature's own remedy for dry irritated skin. AvoDerm Natural Skin & Coat Shampoo helps renew the oils your dog's coat needs to stay shiny and healthy year-round.

I actually bought this in a pinch because there was no cat shampoo in the shop I passed by (along Upper East Coast Road near Siglap) so this one was the only one I could get at the time.

I like the fact that it contains avocado oil; oils are good for coat health and shine. It smells like regular shampoo, nothing exceptionally fragrant.

The other shampoo we use whenever we need to safeguard against fleas - for any of our cats that come into contact with stray cats, or for stray cats that we sometimes shower when they are dirty: Hobo Flea and Tick Shampoo for all cats.

It uses pyrethrins, which is a herbal insecticide harvested from a particular breed of chrysanthemum flowers. I like the fact that it is organic and it does not use chemicals, meaning it is safe for your hands when you are showering your cats. For intensive flea treatments we soak our cats in a tub of water filled with the shampoo. After that when we drain the tub we will find the dead fleas and scabs in the water. It is not as effective as Frontline for flea treatment but it is a good in-between treatment since Frontline is an intensive, and expensive, treatment for fleas and ticks.

Besides shampooing and brushing their coats, I have also been thinking about other ways to buff their lovely coats into shiny glossy salon standards. Apart from buying a conditioner for them, there are other homemade solutions for buffing short haired cats, using items you can find around the house or bought from various non-pet-shop stores.
  • Leather
  • Silk cloth
  • Coconut husks
  • Olive oil
  • Baby oil
So far, the only item I have tried on them is olive oil, which I already have in the house for cooking. It really makes their coats shine and it is non-toxic. I used a few drops of olive oil, rubbed it between my hands and stroked their backs, and then tissued off excess. I probably won't use it too often though, to prevent oily paw prints around the house.

Our Avoderm is finishing soon, we will probably need to shop for another shampoo after the cats' next shower. The pets at Angels Pet Shop use mainly Earthbath, which smells really good - and they also have a creme conditioner. That will probably be our next buy.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

fetch!

For some reason Scooter likes to play 'fetch' with his favourite toy, one of Slinky's old rubber balls.



He seems to realise that whenever he brings the ball near us we will throw it again for him to play again. He was a little unwieldy at first, sometimes unable to grab hold of the ball fast enough with his little kitten mouth, but had soon mastered the technique. He's a real cat-dog!

Friday, September 11, 2009

treats

Featuring our regular favourite cat treats!



Our all-time favourite is Vitakraft Malt Crossys, which retails at Pet Lovers Centre for $3.90 after discount.

We like this treat because:
  • It is affordable.
  • Our cats generally like it.
  • It stops them from coughing and vomitting hairballs.
I started buying this cat treat ever since Slinky was the only cat. I figured she would like this because she likes nibbling on my digestive biscuits which is very similar in texture and flavour to Vitakraft. I also like this treat because whenever Slinky or Scooter starts coughing (they shed more) I feed this to them and they usually stop coughing, and will not vomit. Scooter vomitted once recently when our Vitakraft had ran out, and we went to replenish our stock today.

Our second favourite treat is Shiloh and Lester Salmon Treats. We bought it because Queenie the cat at Little Paws @ Telok Kurau did a demonstration for us to show us how palatable it was. We bought it immediately. It is however rather expensive, about $7, and it finishes really fast in our house. Which probably means it really is very delicious!



Today we bought two other meat-type treats: Angel's Treats; both lamb and salmon flavours. I opened the lamb flavoured one for the cats; Sayang and Slinky enjoyed it very much! It has apples, which is why Sayang likes it I guess, she likes fruits and veggies. I like the texture of the treat, it's raw dried meat, which means it is very good for keeping their teeth clean. And it is huge, which means I don't have to keep feeding them, one or two a day is more than enough.



We bought our Angel's Treats at Pet Lovers Centre for $6.64 after discount.

dawn and dusk

Every night Scooter and Sayang like to sleep with us in our bedroom, and sometimes Slinky too. But Scooter has the annoyingly endearing habit of waking us up in the early morning because he wants to be fed.

His waking method is to climb atop one of us near our face, kissing and purring and walking around our heads. This can take place as early as 4 a.m. This despite his supper only a mere 4 hours ago at midnight or so. Pushing him away does not help, he is very persistent. Placing their breakfasts in their feeding area the night before helps only if he wasn't in our room the night before. But he enjoys sleeping in the room at night with us; in fact, last night I remember closing the room door with him outside but he had managed to push the door open anyway to come in and sleep.

Our two other cats are more patient, waiting for us to wake up instead. Slinky usually waits for us either at the foot of the bed or at our doorstep. Sayang who is usually not hungry just sleeps until we wake up. She only likes us to be awake so she can talk with us and cuddle her, more than she is happy for us to feed her, she hardly eats breakfast. If we sleep for too long, she is likely to greet us with a 'good morning' meow.

Cats, especially those with a very strong hunting instinct - big ears, black eye liner stains - are prone to being active at dawn and dusk, because this is when prey is visible enough yet vulnerable due to the dim light in which cats are excellent in navigating around.

Which explains why I am awake at 6.30 in the morning even though I only need to wake up in the late morning today. Cats, our natural alarm clock...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

house-cleaning and cats

I hear that some cats are allergic to the use of some kinds of household detergents. Symptoms include red paws and itching. My house cats don't have this problem, thankfully. Some cats get stressed out when too much detergent is used in the house, resulting in them defecating around the house. In fact, they resort to this right after the house is cleaned, which can be frustrating for some owners. This is because cats get stressed when their scent-marking around the house - through rubbing and stropping - is overridden by the scent of the detergents.

As alternatives to usual household detergents, you can consider using white vinegar instead to clean your house with. It removes smells and is non-toxic to animals. For washing of pet bowls, you can use detergents used in pet stores, or food-grade detergents meant for washing baby utensils (look in the baby items section in your supermarket), or salt solution.

In my house, I clean using a mixture of commercial detergents with Dettol, the non-fragrance kind. Pine is generally non-toxic, but do try not to go overboard with the Dettol or detergents.

When I am actually cleaning, my three cats have varied responses - Scooter is scared of the Magiclean mop, Sayang tries to chase it, and Slinky just sits there as a roadblock, and I need to clean around her instead of trying to get her to move. I try to distract the younger two away from my daily cleaning by throwing a toy away from the area, like into the next room. If we vacuum (which is usually done by Andy) both Sayang and Scooter usually scurry to hide because they hate the noise. Aswat's cats enjoy the vacuum in his house; one of his cats even lies there so he can vacuum her fur along the way! As for cleaning of other surfaces, my cats try to sneak on top of the living room table (Slinky) or kitchen stove (Scooter) after it is nice and clean even though they are not supposed to. Slinky especially loves clean; she uses her toilet right after I clean it. Cats really are clean; read more about how to have a clean and tidy house with your cats here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

me want to sleep together!

Even though we have 3 cats we only have 2 baskets for them to sleep in; they share the two among themselves as they already have the cat condo's hammock and igloo portion to snooze in, as well as our chairs and bed.

Scooter however likes to share his sleeping space, and here is a pic of him sleeping with Sayang!



He seems to be occupying a larger area than his big sister is, and is totally oblivious too...

homed!

Today we went to visit our little mouse-cat at the shop. Turns out that there was already a family who wanted to adopt her!

We cleaned her up and got her used to some cuddling. When the family arrived from their home in Bedok, the little kitty warmed up to her new owner! They fell in love and the family took her home immediately.

Great news!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

weight management for cats

Among our three cats, Slinky is prone to being overweight because she is very greedy, and very sedentary, being already at least 4 years old. Sayang is prone to being underweight because she is so picky she hardly eats, plus she is very active and burns a lot of energy. Scooter is picky when it comes to food too, although he has a better appetite than Sayang; he also needs a lot of food because he is extremely active as a male kitten.

To manage the weight of our cats, we have some measures in place so that all our cats can be healthy. First off, you know a cat is too skinny if you can see the ribs on her body, and can feel only very little fats. Cats have a lot of loose skin around their tummy and sides of their face, skinny cats will not have this. Cats that are too fat will look round in their profile when they are standing on four legs; their sides should look straight, not oval, conforming to the width of their shoulders and hips. Your vet will be able to advise you on how healthy your cat's weight is.

To fatten a cat, here are some tips:
  • Add more protein to your cat's food. This can be done by serving higher protein dry diets - we used Taste of the Wild to fatten Sayang up - as well as serving canned food which is mainly protein. You can also cook meat and eggs to add to their diet, and serve them cat milk (our favourite is Cosi) which is mostly protein and fats.
  • If your cat is fussy, try out different types of food to increase her appetite. Canned food is usually extremely palatable for cats. Try different brands till you find out which ones she likes. For dry food, ask your pet shop for samples to try out as treats for your cat to see if she enjoys eating it. Consider alternatives from chicken and fish such as turkey, venison, lamb, beef.
  • Vary your cat's diet to increase her appetite. Cats that are fussy may be easily bored with the same old food. Consider alternating between serving canned food and homecooked food with her dry diet. Serve cat milk alongside some meals. Add some cat treats to her dry diet to make her food interesting. Bear in mind that any changes should be gradual to avoid your cat getting diarrhoea.
  • If your cat does not enjoy eating dry food, evenly mix up one or two spoonfuls of canned food into her dry food to coat the kibbles so that she will eat more.
  • Play with your cat. Exercise increases appetite as cats burn up energy. She will also gain muscle weight through exercise.
Remember to check your cat's collar for fit as she puts on weight. You should be able to comfortably place two fingers under the collar, otherwise it is too tight for her and will cause chafing.

For cats like Slinky who are prone to becoming overweight, watching her diet is key.
  • Neutered adult cats that are around 4kg need only 185gm of food per day. This includes treats.
  • Break up your cat's daily ration into one or two meals a day instead of allowing her free choice. This way you can monitor how much she eats daily.
  • Check your cat food ingredients and nutritional levels to make sure your cat is not eating too much carbohydrates. Carbohydrates serve very little nutritional benefit for your cat as they get most of their energy from protein. Excessive carbohydrates are converted to fats on your cat; protein converts to muscle weight. For fibre needs, fruit and vegetable ingredients are just as ideal as grains, so there should be a balance between the food groups. Look at the first five ingredients on your cat's food ingredient list. (For more reading on protein, carbo and fibre in your cat's diet, read here.)
  • There are cat diets available that are meant to slim your cat down using more non-meat ingredients such as apples and sweet potatoes.
  • Play with your cat more. Encourage your cat to exercise by finding toys for her that she will enjoy playing with. Toys include wand toys (Slinky's favourite), toy mice and birds, toys with catnip, toys which treats can be inserted within, hanging toys and cat towers.
  • Some owners like to hide their cat's daily food around the house to encourage their cat to exercise through 'hunting' for their food. I personally don't like this idea as I like my house to be clean, but you can give it a try if you have areas in the house you don't mind your cat eating off from.
  • Get your cat a companion - a kitten in the household adds activity and interest to your cat's life; this way your cat's life will be less sedentary.

trapped

Yesterday night, a fellow customer of Angels Pet Shop who owns hamsters and dogs, brought a rescued kitten to the shop.


This kitten was found in a rat trap set up by the management of her work place at Turf City.


Thankfully, she was not injured by the trap in any way.

The kitten's mother was nowhere to be found, which explains why the kitten looks weepy and dirty from a lack of cleaning and feeding. The kitten is now roughly about 6 weeks old.

Her workplace management had already called in AVA to remove (i.e. kill) the kitten, but this nice lady managed to intervene and rescue this cat in time. There are also other cats where she works, and she feeds them regularly, but those are all adult cats who can fend for themselves better than a kitten can.

The kitten is now boarding at Angels Pet Shop while she recuperates. During her stay there we will be helping to clean her and socialise her with humans, as well as fatten her up a bit, so that she will make a better house pet when she is re-homed. So far she has no symptoms of any illness or injuries.

I will try to take better pictures of her when she is better; meanwhile if you are interested in providing this disadvantaged kitten a new home, please contact Aswat @ 9337 8211.

Monday, September 7, 2009

catnip pillow


Seems like although Slinky does not like to eat catnip, she likes the smell of it in her environment. Here she is lying in her basket on the catnip pillow I made for her. I guess she is also lying on the pillow because her basket's bedding is currently in the laundry.

The pillow is made of two parts: an insert, sewn using recycled soft paper (the kind used to wrap flowers), stuffed with catnip and some cotton wool; the outer cover is a pillow case I sewed using a piece of cloth my friend bought for me from Cambodia.

She has totally fallen asleep on the pillow, oblivious to even Scooter's noisy movements near her...

aromatherapy for cats?

I have been researching on the use of essential oils for both us as humans and for our cats, and here are my conclusions on the use of aromatherapy for cats.

Firstly, essential oils should never be applied topically to the cat's body. Undiluted essential oils, no matter how natural they are, can cause adverse physiological reactions, not just to their skin and fur, but also because cats metabolise the topical application into their bodies. They should also not be ingested by cats.

For topical use of essential oils, always get pet products that are diluted with water and other carriers, and have been veterinarian tested. Some pet products that include essential oils can be used for calming cats that are prone to stress or are travelling to a new place. Other products use essential oil properties in their flea sprays. Some pet fragrances also use essential oils. Remember that none of these products should be sprayed into the face of your cat, or in sensitive regions like their stomach and inner limbs.

Essential oils can be used safely in vaporisers and burners without harm to your cat (bearing in mind to keep candles away from cat's reach). Cats will not react adversely to such use of aromatherapy. It is good to note however that some cats are allergic to citrus scents.

Personally, I use aromatherapy in burners for my room, as well as in pillow sprays and massage oils. The oils I use include bergamot, vanilla, chamomile, lavender and tea tree. My cats have no reaction to the smells, and since they live relatively stress-free lives they sleep well anyway with or without the aid of aromatherapy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

pet farm excursion; never again

Today we had, in my opinion, a controversial animal excursion: we visited the pet farms at Pasir Ris Farmway.

It is a controversial visit to me because, firstly, I do not enjoy patronising shops that sell dogs and cats. The animals for sale are also in very poor condition, having been fed expired food with rice as their staple diets. It is also very obvious that some of the shops there are more intent on making money than sharing their love for animals. I also felt very disgusted by the customers who visit these low-repute places to 'buy' animals, and I felt sorry for myself to be have been seen in the same place as such humans.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience going there, and I mean it literally: I will never go there again.

At Pet M------, there was a Chihuahua for sale who was already handicapped; one of his legs was deformed. He was going at a price of $88. Just yesterday they were selling large Chihuahuas at $18 each, because they had too many bitches in season a few months ago. At what value is an animal when the motivation to own one is the price?

Most of the animals in the shops looked sad. They were either skinny, lonely in showcages with no toys, or cramped together with their siblings in small spaces. In some of the cages the water and food was inaccessible for the puppies.

The queens and bitches that were visible (though not accessible) to public looked worn out. The breeding animals are often coerced into mating at these farms, it is no wonder they looked tired.

There were cats too, pedigrees, at E------- Pet Farm, and these looked much better than the dogs, possibly because there is a larger demand for dogs hence the 'production' standard. This particular farm however did not give me a good feeling; too many sales-people who don't seem to be involved in the care of the animals at all. In fact I rather question if these people even like animals.

There was only one animal that I took a liking to among all; a great Dane dog, who was absolutely beautiful. She is however an abandoned dog among the few animal shelters that are also located at the Farmway. The animal shelters redeemed the day somewhat, knowing that there was a place where disadvantaged animals could live safely and possibly find new homes.

I came home happily to my loving three cats, all Ubi strays that needed a better life in a warm and caring home. I am just happy that I can provide this for them.

Pawprints