Archives for : kittens

The Top 5 Cat Breeds For Kids

cat kitten tabby kids children family friendly

Cats and children can get along famously with the right guidance

When picking out a new furry friend, it is important to make the right choice for your household. For some, the most important thing is choosing a cat that gets along with dogs; for others, a cat that is low maintenance is of utmost importance. However, if you’ve got a household with children in it, you’ll want to bring home a kitty that will do well with your children. Cats can be great companions for children of any age.

Besides their breed, there are certainly other factors that go into a cat’s willingness to tolerate and get along with children. Some of the most important factors of a cat’s behavior include:

Age: A cat’s temperament and behavior changes over time along with their age. A kitten may have no idea how to peacefully interact with adults and children alike. Many kittens can’t distinguish between play and real fighting and can end up biting or scratching harder than they intended to. On the other end, elderly cats often become senile and may behave in a similarly inappropriate manner.
Background history: For any animal, early exposure to humans is key when it comes to socialization. If you are adopting an adult cat, you may be able to get information on their background and be able to select a cat that is notable for getting along with children. Most cats can learn trust and tolerance over time, but the earlier and more exposure that any given cat has had with children, the more likely they’ll be able to get along. If you’re getting a kitten, it is important to socialize them early on and teach them desirable behaviors.
Health: One of the most common symptoms of a cat with a health problem is a change in their behavior; usually negative. If a cat has a health problem that is causing them pain, they will likely have a shorter temper and therefore be less tolerant of children and playtime.

As you can see, many factors go into a cat’s willingness to get along with children, and you can’t bank on one breed being guaranteed to get along with children. However, certain breeds have been known over time to be extra calm, outgoing, and tolerant of children. The following breeds are our suggestions for cat-friendly felines:

Maine Coon: The Maine Coon is the largest housecat in the world. These gentle giants are known to be calm, patient, and easygoing. They’ll still play and entertain your household, but would rather take a nap and hang out than explore most days. Maine Coons have long, fluffy fur and require brushing so that their hair doesn’t become matted, adding a bit more responsibility than a short-haired cat. However, this responsibility could be a great lesson for a child.

American Shorthair: American Shorthairs are the most common kind of cat found in the U.S. These cats’ personalities can vary greatly, but a well-adapted and socialized American Shorthair would be a great cat for a family. They come in every color that a cat can be, giving you lots of options for aesthetics. American Shorthairs are known to be energetic and outgoing,

Ragdoll: Ragdolls are not only adorable, but kind and silly. They get their name from the breed’s peculiar habit of flopping in a ragdoll-like manner when picked up. This is a great trait for a cat to carry, especially in a family with children who will most likely want to pick the cat up. Their ragdoll nature makes them less fussy and less likely to use their claws or teeth to get out of a situation.

Persian: Persian cats like to be the life of the party and the center of attention, which could work out well for a family with playful children. Their squishy faces and fluffy tails are endlessly entertaining to look at, and they only require a medium amount of maintenance depending on the length of their hair. Persians are usually very tolerant in nature, and would be great with kids.

Abyssinian: One reason an Abyssinian would be a great cat for a household with children is their brave nature and outgoing personality. Abyssinians are known to thrive in family situations, as they enjoy the constant energy and stimulation. They may not be lap cats, but they’re great for endless entertainment and lots of playtime.

cat kids children orange tabby

This kitty appears to be very child-friendly!

Regardless of what breed you decide to go with, kids need to know how to interact with a cat if they’re going to try to befriend one. No matter how well-socialized your cat is, or how much they’ve enjoyed kids in the past, it is important to teach your kids how to behave appropriately with a furry friend. Even the nicest cat can snap when being tickled too hard or having their tail pulled. The following are some tips to teach your children in order to keep the peace between them and your cats:

Never pull a cat’s tail, paws, ears, or other extremities: This one may seem obvious, but for a child who isn’t familiar with felines, this is rule number one.
Always let a cat sniff you when first greeting: Whether you’re greeting a cat that you’ve known for years, or meeting a new one, you should always let a cat sniff you upon first greeting. This way, you can get a sense of the cat’s mood and let them set the tone for affection.
If a cat seems agitated or annoyed, don’t push it: Sometimes it is hard to explain to kids why a cat wouldn’t want to play with them, but once they learn to be patient and let the cat come to them, the relationship can begin to form.
Be patient when meeting a new cat: Similar to leaving an agitated cat alone, it’s important to be calm when meeting a new kitty. Some cats are more outgoing than others, and a shy cat needs time to prepare to meet a stranger.
Pet the kitty shoulders to tail: For children (and adults) who aren’t familiar with cats, a simple first reaction would be to pet a cat’s soft underbelly. Unfortunately, this is the easiest way to have a bad interaction with a cat, since 90% of cats will bite or claw when their tummies are touched, even if they’re exposing them. Teaching a child to pet from the cat’s shoulders and along the back to the tail will help them get along better and quicker.
Be careful with picking a cat up: Picking a cat up requires a level of trust that takes time between a cat and a person. Help your child read the body language of your cat and let them know when your cat might let you pick them up, or if your cat is the type that never wants to be handled.

Teaching your child these rules and helping them understand kitty’s body language will result in a more peaceful home, and help protect your child against harmful bites and scratches. Cats are only barely domesticated and will always revert back to their feline ways if they’re pushed too far. When introducing a new cat into your home, you should monitor the cat and small children together at all times for the first few months. Cats can be unpredictable, and it is hard to tell if they’ll get along with children right off the bat.

As long as you keep the peace and monitor your children’s behavior with your cat and your cat’s behavior in general, you can have a happy and harmonious home. Make sure to check out our articles on how to introduce cats to each other, and how to introduce cats and dogs as well.

Do you have a cat and child that get along famously? Leave your story in the comments!

Cat Breeds 101: The Burmese

burmese sable cats kittens

These Burmese cats demonstrate the traditional sable coloring of the breed

The Burmese originates from Burma, Thailand. The first Burmese was brought to the U.S. in the 30s and has become a favored breed among cat enthusiasts ever since. They are a talkative and social breed that comes in many colors. Oddly enough, the Burmese is one of the only cat breeds with different standards in the U.S. and U.K. Here, we’re going to explore everything that makes this breed so beloved throughout the world.

Where do Burmese come from?

The first appearance of a Burmese-like breed was back in 1871 at a cat show at the Crystal Palace. Two Siamese cats were shown, and both demonstrated a build more similar to that of today’s American Burmese than that of Siamese of the time. British breeders then attempted to develop Burmese, but the program fell apart.

Fast forward to 1930: a female cat named Wong Mau was brought from Burma to the U.S. Wong Mau was bred with a Siamese to produce the first Burmese breed line. Wong Mau then bred with one of her kittens from that first litter to produce dark brown kittens- a distinct strain of Burmese kittens. These kittens were finally different enough than the Siamese so much that they were granted breed recognition by the Cat Fanciers Association. In order to extensively grow the breed, many purebred Burmese were mated with Siamese, leading to the CFA suspending the breed recognition only ten years later.

The American breeders were too stubborn to let the Burmese breed die, and by 1954, the breed was back on the CFA’s map. Across the ocean, British breeders were building their own Burmese breed standard. Still today, the American and British Burmese cats are two separate and distinct bloodlines. The CFA uses the American breed standards in most cases today.

What do Burmese look like?

The biggest difference between the British Burmese and the American Burmese is the shape of their head and body. Their size and coat are quite standard.

British: The British Burmese is slender with a long and lanky body. Their heads are wedge-shaped, topped with large pointy ears. Their muzzles are more tapered, complimented with their large almond-shaped eyes. Their long legs end with oval-shaped paws, and their tails are medium-length and taper towards the end.

American: The American Burmese head is broader and bolder. Their eyes are less almond shaped and more round. As opposed to a tapered muzzle, the American’s muzzle is flat. Their ears are wider and more bulbous. As opposed to long lanky legs, their legs are proportionate and relatively stocky, as is their tail.

Regardless of being American or British, the Burmese breed is always a small/medium breed, weighing 8-10lbs. They should look lightweight and docile, but have a nice hefty weight to them when picked up. Their coats are short and glossy; full yet fine. The color of a Burmese should be uniform and only lighter in the underparts. Green and gold are the breed standard color of eyes for the Burmese.

burmese cats kittens cat

Burmese cats can come in a variety of colors

The original breed color is a rich dark brown, often referred to as sable, brown, or seal. They get their distinct color from the Burmese gene, a gene that causes a reduction in pigment. This gene causes any black to turn brown, and all other colors to pale. This gene is related to albinism and also causes the colorpoint pattern that is often observed. Today, Burmese can be many colors, including brown, chocolate, blue, lilac, cream, red, and tortoiseshell. The Cat Fanciers Association recognizes sable, blue, champagne, and platinum as well.

What do Burmese act like?

Burmese take after their Siamese heritage (link), but only to an extent. They are notorious for being human-oriented, making them great cats for families. They are dog-like and ready to learn to play games like fetch and tag. Like their Siamese relatives, they are very talkative, but have been observed to possess a softer and sweeter voice, unlike their shrill relatives.

The Burmese breed is notoriously needy, and not the best choice for people who aren’t home often. Cats are known to be a self-reliant species, but certain breeds need more attention than others. Burmese are prone to becoming depressed (link) if left alone for extended periods of time. This depression can manifest as starvation, destruction of property, and changes in sleep patterns.

A cat’s behavior has everything to do with their upbringing, regardless of their breed. Many of these traits may be common for Burmese cats, but it is important for any cat to be socialized as a kitten.

What is the health of a Burmese like?

The Burmese breed has an extremely low genetic diversity rating, only second to the Singapura. Because of this lack of genetic diversity, they are prone to a variety of health problems including:

Diabetes mellitus: Type 2 diabetes; manifests as high blood sugar
Hypokalaemia: A recessive gene that causes low levels of serum potassium
Teething issues: Burmese kittens have problems with painful teething that often causes them to scratch at their faces. This does not cause oral problems; only cosmetic issues from scarring from the scratches.
Feline hyperaesthesia syndrome: This causes increased sensitivity to touch and can make small gestures feel very painful to the cat
Glaucoma: An eye condition that can result in blindness
Calcium oxalate urolithiasis: Painful bladder stones
Agenesis of the nares: Incomplete development of the nostrils

With any cat, there is no guarantee that they will or will not have these problems. Many health problems can be tested for, which is why it is a good idea with any breed to have a relationship with your veterinarian and report any changes in behavior.

If you are interested in bringing a Burmese into your family, there are a few ways to go about adopting one. It is certainly possible to keep an eye out at your local shelter for a Burmese, but you’ll more likely come across one at a dedicated Burmese rescue. These rescues often rehome Burmese who’s owners have unexpectedly passed away or can no longer care for their pets. Burmese rescues go out of their way to find Burmese cats and kittens and work to find great homes for cats of all ages.

If you do decide to purchase from a breeder, you are looking to spend $400-700 for a Burmese kitten. If you are going to purchase from a breeder, make sure that they practice responsible breeding and are open and honest throughout the process. Bringing a Burmese into your home will bring your household great entertainment and a new furry friend for years to come.

How To Help Feral Cats

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats roam the streets their whole life

Feral cats are a huge issue throughout the world. Most people know a few feral cats in their neighborhood, and some areas are infested with ferals. Feral cats are cats that grew up on the street and live their lives in the great outdoors. They provide problems for a variety of communities, including people, birds, and other cats. Luckily, there are many ways that people can help with the feral population in a humane and loving way. Here, we’re going to tell you everything there is to know about feral cats and how you can help.

Are feral cats different than strays?

In a short answer, yes. Feral cats are cats that have lived their whole lives outside or in the wild. Stray cats are cats that were living in a home at one time or another but were lost or abandoned. Stray cats and feral cats behave very differently due to their previous experiences of exposure with humans. A stray cat may come up to you and beg for food, while a feral cat would wait in the background until you left the area. Feral cats rarely make any noise, where a stray cat has learned to meow around humans. Stray cats openly depend on humans while feral cats barely acknowledge them.

How do feral cats live without humans?

The life of a feral cat is not an easy one. For starters, they have no medical care and are therefore extremely susceptible to disease, infection, and parasites. Feral cats also have to deal with inclement weather; from rain, to snowstorms, to overwhelming heat waves. They are at risk of animal abuse simply from being outside, and have to avoid animal poison and traps. Finding food is a constant task, and fighting over territory with other cats is always a threat. For all of these reasons, the average lifespan of a feral cat is less than two years. This isn’t including the fact that approximately half of feral kittens born die in the first week.

Did you know: October 15th is National Feral Cat Day

 

What are some ways to help with feral cats?

There two main ways that a person can help the feral cat population. Both are aimed at keeping the feral population down in a humane way, as well as relieving communities from the harmful effects of untouched feral colonies. Feral cats that haven’t been spayed/neutered are more likely to spray, fight, and of course, remain on the streets for the rest of their lives. The ways that you can help keep the feral cat population down, and increase the quality of life of the feral cats in your community:

Participate in trap-neuter-release: Trap-neuter-release, or TNR, is the single most effective way of humanely keeping down the population of feral cats. In TNR, participants will set out humane traps to catch the feral cats to later pick up and bring to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will then spay/neuter the cat and likely vaccinate them against rabies. Then, the cat will be released back in the area that they were trapped from. This way, the cat can no longer produce more feral kittens, or transmit rabies to another animal. This is the most cost-effective, humane, and efficient way to keep the feral cat population down. Many veterinarians and animal hospitals provide free spay/neuter services for feral cats, or at a discounted rate.

Become a colony caretaker: Colony caretakers will take it upon themselves to TNR a particular colony in the neighborhood, as well as a few other responsibilities. If a cat needs surgery, the colony caretaker will trap and drive the cat to the appointment, and then offer their home for aftercare. They may also step in and foster feral kittens so that they can be housecats and help to adopt them out. If you are interested in becoming a colony caretaker, Alley Cat Allies has a great guide for the whole process.

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Feral cat colonies like this one can pop up anywhere

Is relocation an option?

It may sound simple: “Why don’t we just move the feral cats somewhere else?” Well, unfortunately, cats are very territorial creatures and will simply make it their goal to return to the same area that they’ve been hanging out in all along; Not to mention the fact that it would be difficult to transport and then find an area for the entire colony of cats to live in.

Can I bring a feral cat to the shelter for adoption?

Unfortunately, feral cats are often past the point of being adoptable. If a cat is truly feral, their behavior around humans is not desirable for almost any cat owner. They don’t know how to interact with humans and won’t learn any time soon. However, if the cat living in your back yard seems friendly and eager to come inside, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat, and might be a great candidate for adoption.

Can I adopt a feral cat?

Again, feral cats are not the same as housecats. A feral cat and a housecat are great examples of the nature vs. nurture argument. Although both cats are cut from the same cloth, their upbringing severely changes the way that they interact with humans. Even if you had two kittens from the same litter, one left to the wild and one brought into the home, they would grow up to act completely different. Early socialization is the best way for a cat to learn to behave with humans. Bringing a feral cat into your home is a danger for your entire household, since feral cats may have any number of diseases, infections, and parasites, and may behave violently towards humans.

Can I adopt feral kittens?

Feral kittens can become housecats if they're exposed to humans early enough

Feral kittens can become housecats if they’re exposed to humans early enough

Yes! As long as the kittens are at least four weeks old, the minimum age required for kittens to nurse from their mothers, they can be safely brought into the home. Make sure to take the kittens to the veterinarian for their shots and spay/neuter procedures, and socialize them as much as possible. Kittens generally shouldn’t be up for adoption until they are at least 8 weeks old; at that point, you can adopt them out yourself, submit them to a no-kill shelter, or decide to keep them yourself. If feral kittens are brought into a home early enough, they can end up just like any other happy human-friendly kitty.

What should I do if I find a cat on the street?

If you find a cat on the street and they come up to you, they are likely a stray cat, not a feral cat. You can proceed by contacting your neighbors, bringing the cat to a veterinary clinic to be scanned for a microchip, and contacting all local shelters to add the cat to their lost-and-found bulletin. You can also see what resources for lost cats are online for your area. Fostering the cat and helping by posting “found” ads yourself will probably end better than a shelter, since most shelters are kill shelters and will only hold onto strays for a few days before euthanizing them.

How do I trap a cat?

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

Trapping a feral cat for TNR may be saving its life

You’ll need to purchase a humane cat-sized trap, for starters. You can find these at most hardware stores or online for less than $50 each. Remember that you can use this trap more than once, so it is a worthy investment, especially if you live near a colony. Resist the urge to feed the cats for two days before trapping so that they’ll be extra hungry and will risk entering the trap for a treat. Place wet cat food in the trap behind the trip plate, and wait for the cat to be caught. Then, you can take the trapped cat to your veterinarian as soon as they’re securely in the cage. The veterinarian will do the procedure, and then likely ear-tip them. Ear tipping is a way to tick the cat’s ear so that humans will know that they are TNR’d.

By participating in TNR, you are helping keep the feral cat population down, as well as helping the feral cats in your area have a greater quality of life. Feral cats didn’t choose the street life, the street life chose them, so you can think of them as your housecat’s weird cousin. Happy TNRing!

Do you have a feral cat colony in your area? Let us know in the comments!

11 Everyday Ways To Elongate Your Cat’s Life

Happy CatWe all want the same thing for our pets; to have a happy and comfortable living situation with a great quality of life. What many pet owners aren’t aware of, however, is that there are simple everyday ways to help keep your cat healthy and happy. It is always better to work on preventative measures ahead of time rather than having to attend to a problem later on. Here, we’re going to help you out with xx simple ways to elongate your cat’s life and keep their health in tip-top shape.

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Cat Breeds 101: The Devon Rex

This Devon Rex kitten shows off the breed's signature big ears and pixie-like appearance

This Devon Rex kitten shows off the breed’s signature big ears and pixie-like appearance

Also known as the “pixie cat,” the “alien cat,” or the “poodle cat,” the Devon Rex certainly lives up to its many names. The wavy-coated breeds hails from England, first gaining attention in the early 1960s. They are a well-liked breed, due to their innocent looks, intelligent nature, and likelihood of producing less allergens than other breeds. Here, we’re going to learn all about The Devon Rex including their history, looks, behavior, and health status.

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Dear Green Gato #16 – Kitty Dreams

What do kitties dream about when they take a little kitty snooze?

What do kitties dream about when they take a little kitty snooze?

Dear Green Gato,

I have a big boy tabby cat named Louis. Louis is huge on naps, just like most cats are. He naps in the morning, in the evening, and anytime in between. I’ve noticed that while he’s napping, he sometimes makes odd movements and twitches. His eyes will bat, his feet will twitch, and he will have little spasms all over his body. Sometimes his tongue ends up sticking out. Why does my cat twitch while he’s asleep? Is he dreaming? Is he okay?

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Calculating Your Cat’s Age

Portrait of bengal cat close-upMany people wonder how to tell a cat’s age, and since a cat can’t just up and tell you their birthday, this feat becomes a guessing game for many cat owners. Many times, veterinarians are able to take an educated guess at the age of a cat, but this isn’t necessarily always right. There are a few ways to predict the age of your cat, whether they’re a young kitten or an older cat. Here, we’re going to give you some tips and tricks to figure out the age of your cat, and understanding what you can expect from that age.

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5 Fun Ways To Exercise Your Cat

Having a cat as a pet is a low-maintenance job, only requiring a few routine practices to keep your furbaby happy and healthy. Between feeding, grooming, taking care of the litter box, and other small tasks that are required of a cat owner, many cat owners forget one of the most important things that they need to do; exercise their kitty! Cats are very close to their wild ancestors, and are therefore built to run, leap, and stalk every day. Did you know that the biggest health problem for domestic cats is obesity? Here, we’re going to discuss some easy and hassle-free ways to introduce more exercise into your feline’s day.

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Dear Green Gato #14 – Baby Mama Drama

Cat nursing her kittensDear Green Gato,

Hello! I’m coming to you with an odd question. I just adopted a beautiful calico cat named Grenda from our local animal shelter a few weeks ago. I was told that Grenda was spayed, and allowed her to go outdoors once we got back to the house. Well, turns out that she hadn’t been spayed, as she came home pregnant within the first two weeks of being a member of our household. We live in the country, and have many friends who can always use a good barn cat, so we decided that it would be fine if she had the babies. The surprise, and the purpose of my writing to you, has to do with the appearance of Grenda’s five babies.

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Cat Breeds 101: The Ragdoll

Purebred Ragdoll CatIf you’ve ever met a Ragdoll cat or kitten, you’ll likely have noticed their adorable markings, their cute and playful temperament, and their patient way with people. Ragdolls are popular throughout the United Kingdom and the United States and are regularly shown in cat shows, in commercials, and on television. After learning all about the Ragdoll, you might just find yourself wanting to add one to your family!

Where do Ragdolls come from?

Ragdolls originated in the U.S. in the early 1960s. A white domestic longhaired Persian cat named Josephine mated with a male Birman cat, producing a kitten with point coloration. This was the first known kitten to have the Ragdoll look of a fluffy cat with blue eyes and dark spots on their ears, muzzle, and paws.

Ann Baker, an American breeder, purchased kittens from one of Josephine’s next litters, in the hopes that she would produce a new breed of cats. She began to breed these self-named “Ragdoll” kittens, trademarked the name, and set up her own registry called the International Ragdoll Cat Association. The breed was eventually accepted by most major U.S. cat registries, and stuck to its strict breed standards until 2005, when the trademark “Ragdoll” wasn’t renewed. To this day, around 45% of the genes in the ragdoll breed come from the original pair produced by Ann Baker, which is why so many are prone to genetic health problems.

What do they look like?

The look of a Ragdoll is very distinct. These cats are large and sturdy, as opposed to being slender and sleek. Adult females will range between 8-15lbs, while males weigh between 12-20lbs. The most noticeable trait that overcomes all Ragdolls is their striking blue eyes. These blue eyes come along with the breed’s point coloration. Point coloration refers to animals that have a light-colored torso with darker extremities. This means that the color comes in on the cat’s tail, ears, face, and paws.

Closeup Kitten FaceThe reason that these areas are darker-colored than the rest of the cat has to do with temperature. Point coloration is a form of albinism, meaning that the cat’s melanin production is different than that of most cats. The dark colors are the result of cooler areas on the cat. On that note, it is worthwhile to point out all the color variations that Ragdolls come in. They can be red, seal, chocolate, blue, lilac, cream, and tortoiseshell. The most recognizable colors of a ragdoll are white with dark brown color points.

What do they act like?

These cats aren’t called Ragdolls for nothing. They have a tendency to go limp when picked up, much like a ragdoll or a baby. Their docile-ness has been a key trait of the breed, going so far as to have certain breeders question whether or not the trait helps or harms the breed. They are so snuggly and trusting that some breeders fear that they may have lost the ability to detect danger or pain. However, as long as a Ragdoll is in good hands, there is simply no reason to stray away from this sweet breed.

If you have a Ragdoll, or more than one, you’ll notice that they will infamously flop all over what is around them. This could mean sleeping right on top of each other, or in other silly locations. This flopping puts them up at the top of the list to be a lap cat. They are intelligent and relaxed and ready to hang out in a calm environment. They enjoy playing and being playful, but their most famous personality traits are their dog-like loyalty and calmness.

What is their general health like?

Unfortunately, Ragdolls aren’t known for being the healthiest cat breed. This is due to inbreeding as an attempt to keep the breed going. Since the breed is relatively new and has so many distinct aspects to the look and behavior, as many as 40% of Ragdolls are inbred. This means that their parents were very close in relation; either stemming from the same litter or parents.

It is estimated that only 63% of Ragdolls live past the age of 10, which is a high early mortality rate for a cat. They are prone to Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a painful heart disease that shows up in many felines. It is important for breeders to only breed parents that lack the gene so common in Ragdolls in order to ensure that it is not passed on.