Looking after and caring for your cat

Enriching your kitten's environments

The positive effects of an enriched environment for your new kitten can be beneficial to her health and development for the rest of her life.

While keeping kittens indoors has significant benefits, protecting them from a large number of dangers, it does require you to pay attention to the provision of enrichment opportunities. While kittens spend a great deal of their time sleeping, their periods of wakefulness can and should be used to stimulate psychological and physical activity. The natural predatory/play behaviour of kittens is usually easy to stimulate with interactive toys, such as feathers on a string or flicking a laser dot along the floor and walls. One way to defeat the “night time crazies” is to have a pet owner engage in active, vigorous play before feeding your kitten at bedtime. This mimics the natural hunting-feeding-grooming-sleeping sequence of cats.

Kittens also can be trained. They will respond quite favourably to clicker training using a high-quality food treat as reinforcement. As with dogs, training sequences can be used to ensure that kittens are getting adequate physical and mental exercise. Many cats also benefit from social activity with other cats, especially if they were introduced to other cats early in life. Cats put a premium on managing space, so it is important that multiple-cat homes offer a variety of places to hide, sleep, and observe, using both the horizontal and vertical dimensions.

A greater challenge is providing enrichment opportunities for dogs and cats when a person or another pet is not present to interact with them. Kittens and cats will spend a great deal of time watching out windows, especially if there is a bird feeder or butterfly garden within view, so make sure to keep at least one window blind open—especially if it looks out to an area with frequent movement and activity.

Providing your kitten with enrichment opportunities helps to prevent stress and the development of abnormal behaviours. These abnormal behaviours, in turn, put a strain on the pet owner and can play a key role in eventual relinquishment. Enrichment also provides a context for physical and psychological exercise that supports the overall well-being of your kitten.

How to Maximize Your Cat's Lifespan

It’s common sense that feeding your cat a high-quality diet has its benefits. But when it comes to maximizing your cat’s lifespan, diet is only part of the equation. Read up on everything you need to do to ensure your cat lives happily for a long time to come.

Proper Diet
Let’s start with something you do every day: feed your cat. There are several healthy options to choose from, so we’ll help you zero in on the formula that’s best for your cat. It’s important to note that cats are natural carnivores. Therefore, a formula with meat as the primary ingredient is a great place to start. Meat as a protein source has certain nutrients, such as taurine, that non-meat protein sources simply do not.

Medical Maintenance
Regular visits to the veterinarian can help nip health issues in the bud. For instance, a vet will be able to tell if your cat is gaining too much weight and can recommend a diet and fitness program to get your kitty back to a healthy size.

You may even want to bring a fresh faecal sample along to your next appointment. Your vet can use this sample to search for ringworms. This tip can save you extra trips to the vet’s office in case your cat does not cooperate, so to speak, during her appointment.

Also, vets provide your cat with the vaccinations she needs to fight off diseases such as feline rabies. Some vaccinations are required annually, while others should be administered every three years. Your vet’s office can help you keep track of it all, so remember to schedule that appointment!

Overall Health
Your cat relies on you for more than just healthy food and fresh water. She needs stimulation. Sure, cats love their independence, but let’s be honest, they love getting attention. By playing with your cat for even 10 to 15 minutes a day, you are doing wonders for her lifespan. Some great games to play don’t even require fancy toys. Get a piece of string and tie it around a clean sock, then yank the string whenever your cat comes in close to investigate. Voila! Instant fun!

Cats don’t go on runs like dogs do, so keeping your cat active with games and toys is the best way to help keep her fit.

Follow these tips and your cat will be on her way to a long and happy life with you. You’re a great owner for taking the time to read this article. It shows how much you really care about her. Now step away from the computer and show your cat some attention!

How to Care for Your Cat’s Hairball Issues

How Do Hairballs Form?
Most cats spend a considerable amount of time grooming their coats. As they do so, their hair is swallowed and may build up over time in their stomach. If the hairball doesn’t pass from the stomach, the cat will attempt to eliminate it by coughing or gagging.

Many cats have a hairball at some point in their life, but some cats, such as long-haired cats and cats that groom excessively, are especially prone to hairballs. In hairball-prone cats, frequent brushing can help reduce the amount of hair that is ingested, thereby reducing the risk of hairball formation. Feeding a special diet designed to decrease the likelihood of developing a hairball may also help.

How Can What a Cat Eats Help?
Diet can be important in hairball relief for several reasons. The fiber combination of powdered cellulose and beet pulp in DR HAHNZ formulas helps move hair through the digestive tract. By helping ingested hair to be passed from the digestive tract, DR HAHNZ formulas help reduce the opportunities for hairballs to form. This fiber blend also includes a moderately fermentable component to promote intestinal health. High-quality, animal-based protein and fat, found in DR HAHNZ formulas, provide important nutrients for skin and coat health. Maintaining skin and coat health may reduce the risk of excessive shedding, ingestion of hair from grooming, and, consequently, hairball formation.

What If the Cat Is Overweight or Senior?
Overweight cats have special nutritional needs in order to promote weight loss or weight management. Likewise, senior cats have special nutritional needs that are better met through a diet designed specifically for them. If an overweight or senior cat has problems with hairballs, feeding a DR HAHNZ formula is a great choice.

Should DR HAHNZ formulas be fed exclusively?
Yes. Mixing other foods with DR HAHNZ formulas may compromise the effectiveness of this diet by diluting the nutrients that help reduce the risk of hairball formation. Switching between DR HAHNZ hairball formulas and another cat food may also decrease the benefit of feeding this diet.

How to Help Your Obese Cat Lose Weight

An obese cat is not a pretty sight. Cumbersome and clumsy, he suffers a marked loss in athletic ability and appearance. His decreased flexibility keeps him from being able to thoroughly groom himself, which can cause skin problems. Obese cats are also at an increased risk for diabetes and are poor candidates for surgery and anesthesia.

Obesity results when an animal consistently eats more calories than he needs. This can come from overfeeding, inactivity, reproductive status, environment, body type, age, and genetics.

Assess Your Cat’s Body Condition
Assessing body condition is important in the overall evaluation of your cat’s nutritional well-being and can help in determining feline obesity. Take a few moments to follow the easy directions for assessing your cat’s body condition with the Cat Body Condition Chart.

Visit the Veterinarian
Weight problems are a leading issue that veterinarians deal with daily. If you suspect your cat is overweight or obese, a complete veterinarian evaluation is recommended.

Your veterinarian will probably ask you some questions about your cat, such as how much he is eating and how much physical activity he gets. Answering these questions honestly will help your veterinarian recommend some simple changes to help improve your cat’s weight. Your veterinarian may also perform some tests. A few medical conditions may contribute to obesity, and you want to rule these out before you start your cat on any weight-loss or weight-management program.

Getting Started
Your veterinarian may first suggest reducing the amount you feed your cat. If so, begin by reducing the daily portion by 25%. Continue decreasing intake by 10% increments every two to three weeks until your cat loses 1% of his starting weight. For example, if your cat weighs 15 pounds, a 1% loss would be 2-1/2 ounces.

If you feed one large meal a day, or keep food available at all times, try dividing the daily ration into several small meals (at least two meals a day) and pick up what has not been eaten 30 minutes after each meal.

Weight-Loss Diets
You will still need to control your cat’s portions, but she might be able to eat more than she does on her regular diet. A diet that replaces some fat with highly digestible carbohydrates is a good low-calorie alternative. Digestible carbohydrates contain less than half the calories of the same amount of fat and do not have the disadvantages of indigestible fiber. High-fiber foods may reduce the digestibility and absorption of many nutrients. High-fiber diets may also result in large, frequent stools and decreased skin and coat condition. A diet that contains carbohydrates, corn, and sorghum can result in lower blood sugar and insulin levels than a diet that contains rice as the primary carbohydrate source. Lower blood sugar and insulin levels can also help with maintaining a proper weight.

In addition, a diet that contains L-carnitine will help. L-carnitine is a vitamin-like compound that helps with fat metabolism.

Changing Diets
Changing diets can be stressful for pets, so if your veterinarian recommends changing diets, proceed slowly.

Begin with a daily portion that includes 25% new food with 75% of the old. The next day, increase the amount of new food by 50% and decrease the amount of the old to 50%. Continue increasing the proportions during the next few days until the food consists entirely of the new diet. This method increases the likelihood of acceptance of the new diet and decreases the occurrence of stomach upsets.

Play Ball!
Another way to help your cat lose weight is to increase her activity. Provide cat “trees” for climbing, or teach your cat to play fetch. Buy or create your own toys that encourage exercise. Many cats enjoy chasing lights from pointers or flashlights. One ingenious owner throws her cat’s dry food ration a piece at a time! Many cats enjoy learning to walk on a leash. You also can use your cat’s natural hunting instinct to help her lose weight. Hide several small portions of her daily food ration around the house. If you have a multi-level home, make your cat use the stairs. Use your imagination, but be cautious. Don’t let a fat cat get exhausted, overheated, or out of breath. Also, keep in mind that an old cat may not be able to exercise vigorously.

Use playtime, grooming, stroking, or conversation as rewards instead of food treats. If you cannot resist the fat cat who begs for food at the dinner table, remove the cat during dinnertime. If you have a multi-cat household, the consistent winner of the food competition sweepstakes is often obese. If this is the case, separate the cats at mealtimes if at all possible.

Patience
Obesity is easier to prevent than to cure, but it is never too late to reverse it—though it requires long-term patience and commitment. Helping cats lose weight is a slow process. If the amount they eat is severely restricted, the cat risks other health problems.

Increased activity, behaviour modification (for both you and your cat), and calorie restriction are your weapons against feline obesity. However, with all of these things, it is important to expect a few setbacks and plateaus. It will take at least four months for an obese cat to lose 15% of her starting weight. At that point, have another look at your cat’s body condition and go on from there.
Tips for Starting a Weight-Management Program

  • Always check with your veterinarian first.
  • Eliminate all food treats.
  • Divide the daily food portion into several smaller meals.
  • Feed a diet formulated specifically for weight loss.
  • Weigh your cat every two weeks.
  • Cats should not lose more than 1% to 1.5% of initial weight per week.
  • Be patient and consistent!

Food

Feeding Tips for the First 6 Months

The timeline for feeding your newborn kitten changes rapidly during the first six months. The following is a broad overview of the key development milestones your kitten will experience to help you learn what and how you should be feeding the newest member of your family.

Why Is It Important to Know Milestones for Kitten Development?

Due to breed differences and animal individuality, it is impossible to predict exact dates for growth and development milestones for kittens. However, by using the milestones as a guide for healthy growth, developmental problems can be spotted and possibly prevented early on.

What Are Some Common Milestones for Kitten Development?

Age Milestone
7 to 10 days old Kittens begin to urinate and defecate on their own.
10 to 18 days old Kittens attempt to stand.
Kittens double their birth weight at about day 14.
Kittens’ eyes begin to open.
Kittens’ ears begin to open.
18 to 21 days old Kittens hear and respond to noises.
Kittens begin to walk.
3 weeks old Kittens begin responsive vocalization.
Begin weaning process for orphaned kittens.
Deciduous (baby) teeth will begin erupting.
4 weeks old Begin weaning process for mother-fed kittens.
3 to 6 months old Kittens’ adult teeth erupt.

How to Wean Kittens with DR HAHNZ

  1. Start introducing a small amount of water in a shallow dish at about 4 weeks of age. Most kittens will play in the water; however, within four or five days, they begin to develop drinking skills. Some kittens may require longer periods for training, so don’t be discouraged if they resist bowl training.
  2. Begin mixing DR HAHNZ Kitten food with water. Be sure to also provide a separate dish for fresh water.
  3. Gradually increase the amount of soft food while decreasing the amount of water in the mixture until the kitten is eating soft food only.
  4. Repeat the process, mixing the appropriate dry DR HAHNZ kitten food with the soft food, then increasing the solid food while decreasing the soft food until the transition is complete.
  5. It is recommended to even add DR HAHNZ adult wet food into kitten dry food for amazing results.

The entire process should take approximately three weeks.

Tips for Feeding Your Adult Cat

At about 12 months, your cat no longer requires the high levels of minerals, protein, and energy needed while he was a quickly growing kitten. So switch him to a high-quality food, such as DR HAHNZ dry chicken, duck, turkey and even include the wet food, which is specifically balanced for the nutritional needs of adult cats. When choosing food, follow these steps.

  • Read the nutritional claims on food packages: Check the label to make sure the food is appropriate for the stage of your cat’s life (kitten, adult, or senior). Also, look for a statement saying that the food meets the requirements of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). If your cat’s food doesn’t have the AAFCO’s nutritional claim on its label, there is no guarantee that your cat will get a complete and balanced diet.
  • Choose premium food: Premium cat foods, which generally use higher-quality, more easily digestible ingredients, are more nutrient-dense than the less expensive brands. So, your cat will get the calories he needs by eating less food. As a result, the difference in actual cost of feeding him premium food instead of generic may be only a couple of cents a day.

Once you’ve selected a food, establish healthy feeding habits.

  • Always measure the food you feed your cat: Start with the portion recommended on the package, even though the serving size may not be ideal to keep your cat healthy. If he doesn’t eat all of the food or starts to gain too much weight, cut back the portions; if he begins to look thin, increase the amount until he’s maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Create a cat feeding schedule: Nutritionally, one meal a day is OK for adult cats. If your cat seems hungry more often, try multiple smaller meals at established times. Remember, more mealtimes shouldn’t mean more food. Split up the recommended serving size to create several meals.
  • Consider free-feeding for fit and trim pets: Leaving dry food available all day so your cat can nibble whenever he likes will work if he’s at a healthy weight. If he’s overweight or overeats, or you can’t gauge how much he’s eating because other pets share his food, it’s best not to leave food out.
  • Ban table scraps and limit treats: Not only are they high in fat and calories, but they also can interfere with the correct—and complete—nutrition your cat is getting from his food.
  • Introduce new food gradually: Whenever you want to begin your cat on a new food, mix it in with the old. Start with a small amount of new food and increase the percentage over several days. Cats are more likely to accept change if it happens slowly, and their digestive systems are less likely to be upset.
  • Keep fresh water in a clean bowl available at all times: Cats need water to help regulate their body temperature, digest their food, and eliminate waste, among other things. Providing plenty of fresh water is especially important if your cat eats only dry food or is prone to urinary tract blockages.

Feeding Guidelines for Your Cat

How Often Should I Feed My Cat?
A practical guideline is that kittens should be fed three times a day from weaning (3 to 6 weeks) to 4 months of age. After 4 months, they should be fed twice a day. Most cats should continue to be fed twice a day throughout their life, although some pets do well with one feeding.

How Much Should I Give My Cat to Eat?
The amount to feed depends on the age, size, and activity level of the cat. Feeding guidelines, which list the daily recommended portion, are included on all DR HAHNZ packages. Start feeding with this amount and adjust according to your pet’s needs. Remember to divide the portion accordingly if you feed more than once a day.

What Is the Best Way to Introduce a New Diet to My Cat?
It’s important when changing a cat’s diet to introduce the new food slowly. Start by offering the cat’s daily portion in a ratio of 25% new food to 75% old food. During the next three days, gradually increase the amount of new food and decrease the amount of old.

Is It Necessary to Feed Both Wet and Dry Food?
Wet food is an excellent treat that can be fed by itself or mixed with dry food. Although our wet cat foods are nutritionally complete and balanced, it is not necessary to offer wet food at every feeding. Our dry foods are formulated with high-quality protein sources such as chicken, lamb, or fish and contain all of the essential nutrients pets need. The crunchy texture of dry food also promotes healthy teeth and gums, and provides overall good oral hygiene.

Will My Cat Be Bored Eating the Same Food All the Time?
No—boredom with food is a human trait. Cats are creatures of habit and usually are happy with just one food. Cats generally eat to meet their energy or nutritional needs. They have very short digestive systems, and, if their diet is abruptly or constantly changed, digestive disturbances can occur. Also, constant changes can make your pet a finicky eater.

Is It OK to Moisten Dry Food?
Adding water will not change the nutritional value of dry cat food. However, once moisture is added the food should be eaten relatively soon, and any uneaten portion should be discarded to avoid spoilage. Dry feeding our cat foods is usually encouraged because of the benefit to the cat’s dental health.

Will It Hurt Cats or Dogs If They Eat Each Other’s Food?
Cats and dogs have different nutritional requirements and really should not eat each other’s food. For example, cats require a much higher level of taurine in their diet. An occasional venture into each other’s bowls will not be harmful but is not recommended on a regular basis.

Can I Supplement Your Pet Foods with Vitamins, Minerals, Oils, Etc.?
Our foods are nutritionally complete and balanced. Adding vitamins, minerals, or oils can offset the balance the food provides. One of the benefits of feeding a high-quality product is that it has been carefully balanced in proper ratios to provide optimal nutrition so nothing needs to be added.