Remember how fun it was to spook your friends or siblings as a kid and call them "scared-y cats?" As entertaining as that was - or still is - an actual anxious cat is no laughing matter. Helping your cat deal with stress is essential to his well-being. There are many natural ways - such as cat calming spray - to treat your fur baby's anxiety. Read More
cat at vet
Polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is one of those rare conditions that occurs in several different species, including humans, dogs, and cats. Unfortunately, because cats are so much better than other species at hiding their discomfort, PKD in cats often goes unnoticed until it's too late.
Find out what PKD is, how to recognize it, and what you can do to help your kitty before it's too late.

What Is PKD in Cats?

cat vet
Polycystic kidney disease – otherwise known as PKD – in cats occurs when small sacs develop in the kidney and fill with liquid. Overtime, these sacs – called cysts – multiply and eventually begin to disrupt the normal functioning of an otherwise healthy kidney.
If left untreated, PKD can lead to kidney failure, which can be fatal.
Unfortunately, there is no external cause that pet parents can control for, such as environment, diet, or level of exercise. Rather, PKD in cats is caused by a genetic anomaly. Some cats are more likely to suffer from this genetic marker, particularly Persians, Himalayans, and British Shorthairs.
Because its cause is genetic, kittens are born with the condition and the cysts are present from birth. However, it usually takes several months for the condition to develop and be diagnosed.

Signs & Symptoms

sad cat
Because PKD in cats affects the function of the kidneys, it often looks like other forms of feline kidney disease. Symptoms of PKD in cats include:
  • Increased thirst and drinking far more water than usual
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Decreased appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
In the most advanced stages, "it’s possible for the sacs to become so large and numerous that you can actually see the kidney’s outline when an affected cat is lying on its back," says Richard Goldstein, DVM, associate professor of small animal medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
PKD in cats develops at widely different rates. While some cats may begin to show symptoms early in life, other cats may be senior citizens before they ever show signs.
That's why it's incredibly important to get your little one screened for PKD if you suspect she may be at risk.

Diagnosis, Treatment & Maintenance

cat at vet scan
PKD in cats is caused by a genetic abnormality, so getting your cat tested can help you determine if your cat is predisposed to this lethal health problem.
Screening
Thankfully, pet DNA test kits are becoming increasingly popular, which also makes the more affordable.
For example, Basepaws' CatKit offers DNA testing for cats that includes a PKD screening for $95 (and they often run sales! At the time of this writing, their CatKit is on sale for $75). Many companies also offer lifetime updates, which means anytime they develop new tests, they'll retest your kitty for free and update your online profile with the results.

Diagnosis

person holding cat
However, if you cat's DNA test results do come back as positive for PKD, the results won't be able to tell you the severity of your cat's condition or how it's progressing. For that, you'll need to see your veterinarian for an ultrasound exam.
Treatment & Maintenance
Sadly, there is no cure or specific treatment for PKD in cats. Rather, treatment plans are usually designed around monitoring the condition and managing the symptoms to make your kitty as comfortable and happy as possible.
If your cat does have PKD, there are several things you can do to monitor and manage your fur baby's condition:
  1. Talk with your vet and put together a care plan. This usually includes scheduled visits to keep tabs on how the cysts are developing and adjustments to other management techniques.
  2. Diet changes. Many veterinarians recommend a specific diet for cats with PKD and other kidney disorders.
  3. Fluid therapy. Potassium supplements or IV fluids may help your cat's kidneys do their jobs a bit better.
  4. Medication. While there is no specific treatment for PDK, your vet may prescribe certain medications to help treat the symptoms of the disorder.
  5. Use PrettyLitter. If your PrettyLitter changes color, it may be a sign that your cat's kidneys are not working as they're supposed to, which means it's time to visit the vet – stat!
  6. Surgical draining. In some cases, your vet may suggest surgically draining the cysts of fluid to help relieve the strain on the kidneys. However, this is a temporary solution as the cysts will eventually fill back up.
Have more questions about PKD in cats or other health conditions? Let us know in the comments below and we'll do our best to find you answers.

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cat in present box
During the holidays, it can be oh so tempting to sneak a cute little kitten into a box and give it to your loved one. However, giving a pet as a gift isn't like giving a basket of bath salts or a gift card to the mall. If you're looking for gifts for cat lovers, you might not want to give an actual cat.
Reports from January 2017 showed that "more than half of the pets given as gifts end up being returned." But who would want to return a sweet little kitten after bonding with her on the holliest, jolliest of days?
The sad reality is many people are unaware of the time commitment involved in being a pet parent. Parents who give pets as gifts to their children often find that once the New Year rolls around and the excitement wears off, they are the ones caring for the fluffy new addition – and often they simply don't have the time.
Newlywed couples and first-time homeowners are also common recipients of these well-meaning, adorable gifts. However, it's difficult enough to adjust to a major life change; when you add becoming a new pet parent to the mix, many gifted pets end up being re-homed or returned, which is extremely stressful for both the pets and the gift recipients.
If you're thinking about giving a pet as a gift this holiday season, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Pet-Giving Checklist

cat in christmas present box
Giving a pet as a gift can be a wonderful, thoughtful gesture, or a traumatizing experience. To ensure it's always the former, make sure your gift recipient can keep the pet and is well equipped to provide a great forever home.
Before giving live animals as gifts for cat lovers, run through this checklist to determine if it's a good idea or if the recipient on your list may be better off with something of the inanimate variety.
Ask Yourself...
  1. Has the person expressed a desire for a new pet on more than one occasion? You should only consider giving a pet as a gift to someone who has been seriously considering the new addition.
  2. Does the person have the space for a new pet? Kittens may be small, but their big personalities and needs take up quite a bit of space.
  3. Does the person have the financial resources to provide care for a cat? We're not saying you have to go over their tax returns, but cats cost money and you'll need to use your best judgement. As a friend or family member, you likely know if your planned-gift-recipient has the resources to care for a pet.
  4. Is anyone in his or her life allergic? Pet allergies can be a source of serious heartbreak. If an important person in the cat lover's life is allergic, he or she may be forced to decide between the feline and the friend.
  5. Does the person travel a lot or will they be home enough to care for a cat? While cats are masters of solitude, they also require attention and affection. Make sure the person who will be caring for the cat is able to be at home enough to feed, water, play with, and clean up after a pet.
  6. Does the person have young children? While it's not a deal-breaker, many parents are uneasy about having a new pet in the same home as an infant or small child. Discuss this with the person casually before deciding to give a pet as a gift.

No Surprises

Lastly, giving a pet as a gift may be one of those rare times when you don't want the gift to be a surprise. Talk to the person or someone close to them to figure out if a live pet is the right move or if you should go with one of these other gifts for cat lovers.

Gifts for Cat Lovers

gifts for cat lovers

If you've come to the conclusion that maybe giving an actual cat isn't the right move for the cat lover on your holiday shopping list, there are some great alternatives.
If the cat fanatic in your life already has a menagerie of kitties, then the best gift may be something he or she can use everyday, like some fun cat toys or a few months of health-monitoring kitty litter.
Of course, if you really want to give the best gifts for cat lovers, there's nothing more rewarding and beneficial than gifting a donation in someone's name to a great cat charity.
How about you? What's the best cat-themed gift you've ever received? Tell us in the comments below or post a purrfect holiday pic on Instagram and tag us @PrettyLitterCats.

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cat and plant
If you love cats (like we do), you probably enjoy having other living things around your home (like we do!).
Other than an adorable kitty, nothing quite brightens up a home like a handful of plants.
While you might think that anything leafy and green can only be good for you and your feline roommate, there are some plants that are toxic to cats.
Before you visit the garden section of your favorite home goods store, check the list below to make sure none of your new additions are toxic to your furry friend.

Lilies

lilies
The first of many plants toxic to cats, lilies come in a variety of danger levels. Some are harmless, while others can cause minor irritations, and still others can be deadly.
Calla, Peace, and Peruvian lilies each contain oxalate crystals that can cause minor issues for your furry friend. For example, if your cat nibbles on one of these lilies, he may develop irritations in his mouth, on his tongue, and throughout his pharynx and esophagus, which can cause him to drool or exhibit other odd mouth behaviors.
At the worst end of the spectrum, there are lilies that are extremely toxic to cats, including:
  • Asiatic
  • Day
  • Easter
  • Japanese Snow
  • Tiger
Even nibbling on a couple petals or leaves of these plants can cause kidney failure.
Lilies of the Valley are another plant toxic to cats. However, this member of the lily family contains cardiac glycosides, which - if ingested by your kitty - can cause diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmia, lowered heart rate, vomiting, and even seizures.

Azaleas & Rhododendrons

Azaleas & Rhododendrons
These plants are members of the same family and neither are friends to felines. If your cat gets her mitts on even just a couple leaves of either of these plants, she could be in serious danger.
Azaleas and rhododendrons are plants toxic to cats that can potentially cause death if the symptoms aren't treated quickly. Symptoms of toxicity from these two plants include excessive drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, and coma.

Oleander

Oleander
If your cat is an outdoor adventurer, beware. The oleander plant is a common shrub that grows outside and is popular in many neighborhoods. Yet, despite their lovely looks, both the leaves and the flowers of the oleander plant are toxic to cats.
Keep an eye out for oleander plants in your neighborhood – or even in your own yard – and watch out for signs of oleander toxicity, which include severe vomiting and slowed heart rate. Left untreated, this plant can cause death in some cats.

Tulip & Hyacinth Bulbs

Tulip & Hyacinth Bulbs
Both of these plants toxic to cats produce gorgeous blooms, which makes them extremely popular in outdoor gardens. Both contain similar properties that are dangerous to our feline friends.
In tulips, it's the Tulipalin A and B lactones and in hyacinth, it's the alkaloids. These natural compounds are found in the highest concentration in the bulb of the plant, but the flowers and leaves can be toxic, too.
Signs of poisoning from tulip and hyacinth plants includes diarrhea (which may include blood), vomiting, depression, drooling, and tremors.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum
Another common household decoration and bouquet feature is the chrysanthemum. This lovely, delicate flower is toxic to cats, dogs, and even horses! Throughout the plant are several toxins, including lactones, pyrethrins, sesquiterpene, and other irritants that can cause diarrhea, dermatitis, vomiting, drooling, and lack of coordination.

English Ivy

English Ivy
Commonly used to cover the soil of potted plants and arrangements, English ivy contains triterpenoid saponins, an organic compound that's also found in other types of ivy.
The leaves of the English ivy are more commonly used for decoration than the berries the plant produces, and, unfortunately, the leaves are the most toxic to cats. Signs of toxicity include abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and drooling.

Sago Palm

Sago Palm
While many of the plants on our list grow outdoors, the sago palm is often kept in small containers indoors and is popular in tropical regions, such as Hawaii and Florida. Both the leaves and the seeds can cause internal bleeding, damage to the stomach lining, vomiting, liver failure, and - in severe cases or if left untreated - death.

Marijuana

Marijuana
With the growing popularity of legalizing marijuana around the country, more and more pet parents are finding out the hard way that marijuana is not safe for kitties (no matter what Bob Marley says).

Daffodils

Daffodils
Yes, daffodils, too. Daffodils, which come from narcissus bulbs, are another of the many plants toxic to cats because they contain lycorine, which causes severe vomiting if ingested. The substance is in the bulbs, leaves, and flowers of daffodils and will cause some serious abdominal discomfort for your little one if ingested.
Signs of lycorine intoxication include slowed breathing, abdominal pain, cardiac arrhythmia, vomiting, and diarrhea.
I know what you're thinking: How can all the most gorgeous plants in your garden be so dangerous to your fur baby? Unfortunately, cats and plants are not the best of friends in the natural world.

Other Plants Toxic to Cats

The reality is eating any plant matter could upset your cat's digestive tract, especially if it's a new thing she's nibbling on. There are several more plants that are toxic to cats, so be sure to check out your new favorite foliage before adding it to a space your kitty calls home.
If you think your fur baby may have been exposed to one of these plants toxic to cats, call your vet or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 right away. If you can, bring the plant in with you to the vet so your vet can prescribe the precise treatment for the specific plant your cat has ingested.
Now, on a more cheerful note, we'd love to see a snapshot of your fur baby getting along with the many non-toxic plant varieties! Snap a gorgeous #floraandfauna pic and tag us on Instagram @PrettyLitterCats.

Do you have a beautiful cat? Let us know in the comments!

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two kittens in laundry basket

Each cat ages differently. Rewind 20 years. I was in elementary school when our cat Otis died. My mom had gotten Otis from a great-aunt when he was a year old. She loved the way he hunted all day in the yard, purred like an engine when he sat down, and took a siesta on the sunlit limestone table in our garden. So, it took six months, maybe a year, until she was ready to get another cat. This time, she picked two. They were both girls. In the animal shelter, the pen in which we found them was swarming with kittens fighting, dashing, rolling around, swatting each other’s heads. My mom picked out a pretty black kitten who sat in the corner giving herself a bath. Then she lifted up a tabby who had been curled up while other kittens stepped on her head in the course of their play.

The black cat we named Zelda. The tabby, Hazel. For the first few weeks, Zelda and Hazel slept together in the basement bathroom, in a shoebox that we cushioned with a towel. They were so small that they could stand upright in the palm of our hand. They were both calm, which is the reason my mom picked them out, but their personalities were distinct from the get-go.

two cats laying by the window

When they grew up, Hazel became dominant, even though Zelda was more athletic. She was a natural hunter and practically lived outside – roaming the garden beds and stalking voles in the summer, bedding under the leafless shrubs in the winter. Whenever she explored the maze of alleys behind our house, she might be gone for a few days before trotting back to our patio. Hazel occasionally propped her paws on the windowsill and stared outside. Otherwise, she never left the house. She slept in the screened-in porch on fall evenings, and in the winter, she slept some more on a towel rolled out next to the hall radiator. (She wasn't exactly mouser material)

As they got older, they aged differently, too. Zelda had never made much noise, but when she was about 15, she went totally silent. Then she stopped ranging so far in the neighborhood. On cold nights, we’d lift her out from under the garden shrubs and bring her indoors. Soon her world narrowed to a 30-foot circumference between the back door (where her food and water bowls were set out) to the patio (where she used to hunt). One spring morning we found her in the garden, under a patch of hydrangea bushes. She had died that night from old age.

Zelda seemed to get sweeter and calmer as she got older. Not Hazel. She was brassy and pushy where Zelda was graceful and alluring, but she was also consummately competent. She knew where the litter box was and gave herself a bath every two hours, it seemed, but, when she got to be about 15, her mood soured. The noise she made had always resembled a yap rather than a meow, but in her final years, it turned into a full-on bray. She weighed less than 5 pounds, so it was jarring to hear her emit a noise that erupted through the house like a foghorn. In the last weeks of her life, those moans turned to sad, pained squeaks. The vet told my mom that her organs were failing. We had to put her down at the age of 17.

two cats cuddling in bed

My mom had loved Otis, but she said it pained her, even more, to watch Hazel and Zelda become frail and age, each in their own way. She misses them so much that she says they'll be her last pets.

If you're scrolling through our site, chances are, you've got a cat story, too. Care to share? Leave your thoughts at the end of this article on the different ways that your own cats have aged.

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cat litter cabinet

We know that there are many things for pet owners to consider when raising a feline, and a cat litter cabinet is one investment that can make your home and your cat life even more enjoyable! Cats make wonderful companions but sometimes it's tricky to find a great way to deal with the odor and mess of their litter box. Cats are just like the rest of us - they need to go and they need a place to go! Litter boxes don't have to be smelly, unsightly messes. Here are some of the benefits of having a cat litter cabinet in your home.

What Is a Cat Litter Cabinet

A cat litter cabinet is like a small house for your litter box. Instead of just being a flat box with litter in it, it is designed with a top or is a standalone cabinet with an opening for the cat to crawl in and out of and a door that opens to allow you to remove the box for easy litter scooping and changing. You can think of it like a dog house but a place where the kitty doesn't hang out or sleep - just a place to use the bathroom!

Conceal the Mess

inside cat litter box

The number one benefit of a cat litter cabinet is to hide the mess of the litter box! Many people have clever spots to tuck away the litter box, like a bathroom or laundry room, but sometimes there is not enough room or no convenient space to hide it away. There's no reason you have to have a big box of cat litter out in the open in any room. A cat litter cabinet lets you keep the litter box behind closed doors so it doesn't look messy.

Hide the Smell

Another benefit of a cat litter box is that it keeps the smell of the litter under wraps. If you scoop litter regularly, which we all should, litter boxes shouldn't smell too bad, but it's also never pleasant to have anyone's toilet right out in the middle of a room! Investing in a cat litter box is a good way to prevent the smell of the box from permeating the whole room.

Extra Decor

different versions of cat cabinet

Cat litter boxes can also make wonderful decor in any room. They come in all kinds of cool and funky designs that make interesting additions to any rooms, including living rooms, family rooms, bathrooms or bedrooms - wherever is convenient for you to keep it. Some double as side tables or bathroom stands and you can pick a color and style that match whatever room you choose.

Privacy for Your Cat

Cats like a litter box that is in a quiet space and gives them a little privacy. However, they don't like to be boxed in completely. Having a cat litter cabinet means a space where a cat can retreat to in peace but also be able to see out through the opening to be able to see and hear other people or animals and not feel trapped.

Cats, like the rest of us, need a good place to go when they have to go! You have to keep a litter box in your home somewhere so a cat litter box is a great way to make sure it is both attractive and hides the sight and smell of the litter. It also gives your cat a cozy and private place to go to the bathroom! Do you use a cat litter cabinet in your home?

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cat itching

When cats get bit by fleas, it can cause them to be very uncomfortable because their skin can become irritated and very itchy. It’s best to do everything that you can to treat flea bites as quickly as you can and prevent them if at all possible. The following guide walks you through a few tips and tricks to use to keep your cat as comfortable as possible when it comes to fleas.

Make Flea Prevention Treats

Preventing the fleas from biting your pets at all is the best way to keep their skin from becoming irritated. A great way to keep your cat from being bit is to make flea prevention treats for them to have once a day. Mix 1/4 cup of brewer’s yeast with ¾ cup of melted coconut oil in a blender. Pour the mixture into a small square dish with a flat bottom. Put the dish into the refrigerator and allow it to harden. Cut the mixture into even sections and store in a zippered bag in the refrigerator. Give one to your cat a day to keep fleas at bay.

Feed Your Pet the Right Food

cat eating food

In order to prevent fleas from biting your pet, try to keep them as healthy as possible. Feeding them healthy food that isn’t filled with fillers or chemicals can make them less tempting to fleas and make their skin less sensitive if fleas bite them. Read the labels on the bag and see if the first ingredient is corn or wheat. The first ingredient is the one that is used the most and it should be a meat or protein, rather than a filler like corn or wheat.

Create a Flea Spray

Another great way to keep fleas at bay is to spray your cat daily with a preventative flea spray. Mix ½ tsp of baking soda with ½ a teaspoon of salt. Mix ½ cup of apple cider vinegar with ¼ cup warm water. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture so that the reaction that occurs when you mix vinegar and baking soda can be kept to a minimal. Transfer the mixture into a spray bottle and spray your cat daily to avoid a flea infestation.

Create a Smoothing Shampoo

cat in shower

If your cat has been infested with fleas, mix ½ cup of mild dish soap, ½ cup of white vinegar and 2 cups of water together to create a shampoo. Wet the cat slightly and lather him or her with the shampoo. Let the lather sit for five minutes and then rinse the cat thoroughly. The mixture will suffocate the fleas and soothe your cat's skin at the same time.

Create a Skin Balm

Flea bites can irritate the skin. Mix ¼ cup coconut oil, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup beeswax, with 8 drops of lavender essential oil and peppermint essential oil and microwave for thirty seconds. Stir everything together, place the mixture in a container, and allow to harden in the refrigerator. Rub some of the balms on affected areas of your cat's skin and within a few days, the tenderness should subside.

If you notice that you aren’t able to prevent fleas or able to treat bites your cat has, you may want to take him or her to the vet. A veterinarian can provide medicated treatments that can soothe the issue quickly and easily.

 

Do you have a holistic natural way to treat fleas? Maybe we missed one of your go tos? Sound off in the comments below! We would love to hear from you!

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cat in prettylitter
Did you realize that you can easily sign up for a monthly cat litter subscription?

That's right, every month - new fresh cat litter is waiting at your front door. And it only gets better from there...

But first - if you own a cat, you need good cat litter. 

That's a no-brainer.
 
But, you also need cat litter which is good quality, will last a long time, and won't keep putting out a terrible smell.
 
These should be no-brainers as well, but every cat owner has been let down at some stage.
 
Plus, is there anything more annoying than having to buy cat litter?

Shopping for cat litter is pretty boring. Lifting and carrying heavy bags is not fun.

Don't carry the weight. Let it come to you.

delivery man

Does this sound familiar? You're at the supermarket with a full shopping cart when your brain decides to chime in with: “...oh, by the way, don't forget to grab that gigantic 40-pound bag of the cat's special toilet sand!
 
There should be a better way. Cat litter that never runs out. Cat litter which completely absorbs all the bad smells, and doesn't need changing all the time. Cat litter that can even tell you when your cat is sick – wouldn't that be a life changer?
 

Well, luckily for you, we happen to be in the business of changing lives.

(for humans and cats)
 
We'll deliver a very small bag of cat litter right to your front door

Once a month. Every month.
It's as easy as that.

How does it work you say? Well, it's ridiculously simple...

First, tell us how many cats you have. Then tell us the address where the cats live.

That's it.

…no really, that's it.

Then once a month, every month, a fresh new bag of PrettyLitter will arrive at your front door. A tiny bag too; it's only 4-pounds per cat – and then all you need to do is fill your kitty litter box at the start of the month.

 

Thanks to a very clever formula, PrettyLitter doesn't clump - but rather it completely absorbs moisture and odor. This means you won't even need to change your kitty litter box as the month goes on.

Cat Litter That Also Keeps An Eye On Your Cat's Health

prettylitter

Is this the world's best cat litter? Well, that's not for us to say.
 
But yes, yes it is.
 
Cats are clever, private little creatures. One of their hallmarks is that they are notorious for hiding illness and pain – which goes back to their days from living in the wild.
 
The last thing any cat owner wants is for their little fur baby to be hiding a medical problem. PrettyLitter actually changes color to help identify common illnesses, such as kidney or bladder infections. This is great news for your furry friends, and can also take the stress out of worrying about your cat's health.

People love PrettyLitter almost as much as cats love naps.

Almost.

Cat owners don't say things like: “This is the best cat litter I've ever used” lightly, but luckily this is something that we're getting used to hearing:
 
I love this product. I have never found another litter that works so well and gives me peace of mind also.”
 
I’ve been using the litter for 3 days now and I truly love it! I cannot smell either of my litter boxes anymore!”
 
I like the convenience of having litter delivered & I also like that this litter absorbs the liquids, so it makes cleaning the litter box easy!”
 
Well, by now, we're sure you know all about PrettyLitter and how our monthly subscription works.
 
Are you ready to try the world's best cat litter? All you need to do is click here to get started.

You can sign up within minutes, and before you know it your first bag will be sitting at the front door.

 Questions? Just click here to get in touch with us and we'll be happy to help.

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person holding tiny kitten

It’s hard to think of anything else quite as cute as a kitten.

With their big eyes, tiny necks, and perky ears, a new kitten looks just like a living bobblehead doll.

Add a kitten’s awkward gait and uncontrollable curiosity to the mix, and you have a sure-fire recipe for heart-melting cuteness.

Sadly, there are thousands of kittens living in animal rescue shelters waiting for good homes. Until they find their forever homes, they’re left to learn the ways of the world from inside a cubicle surrounded by chaos.

While animal rescue professionals do their best to care for kittens and give them as much socialization time as possible, nothing beats raising a kitten in a home with a human family.

By being a cat foster parent, you can help foster kittens become properly socialized, minimize feline anxiety and the numerous health issues that stress can cause, and prepare that kitten to be accepted into a forever home.

If you’re considering being a cat foster parent, here’s what you need to know to earn that “#1 Foster Mom” coffee mug.

Helping Kittens Learn the Ropes

tiny kitten by window

canna-pet.com

As a cat foster parent, your job is to help your foster kitten learn how to live with humans and adapt to changes in a healthy way.

If you don’t plan on homing your foster kitten through adulthood, your foster kitten will be adopted by another individual or family when the time is right. That sort of drastic change can be difficult on a cat, so teaching your kitten how to cope with change is crucial.

The best time to socialize a kitten is between the ages of three and nine weeks. Hopefully, your kitten will still have access to her mom during this time, but many rescue kittens do not.

However, don’t let that window deter you from being a cat foster parent to an older kitten. All kittens need love and guidance and are capable of learning new social cues.

Positive Reinforcement, Not Punishment

little girl kissing cat

In the early stages of kittenhood, your adorable little friend is taking in every bit of information from her environment that she can. With you being one of – if not the only – other living things to learn from, she’s going to take your reactions to her behavior very seriously.

Start by finding a cat treat that your kitten loves. Then, use that treat and positive attention to reward her whenever she does something or encounters a new situation that you want her to repeat.

For example, a great foster kitten will know how to travel in a cat carrier like a champ. Practice with your foster kitten by encouraging her to walk into her cat carrier on her own and giving her a treat. Close the door, give a treat. Sit with her with the door closed, give a treat. Pick the carrier up, give a treat. Place the carrier in your car, give a treat. Drive around the block and return home, give a treat.

While that may seem like a lot of treats, what you’re actually doing is making sure your foster kitten associates things that often stress out other cats – like traveling – with positive feelings.

You can use the same technique to take your kitten in to visit the vet, even if it’s just for a quick exam without any shots, to introduce her to a new family member or another pet,

Meeting New People

cat sniffing persons hand

One of the most difficult things for many cats – kittens and adults – to overcome is the fear of meeting new people.

However, if you teach your kitten at an early age that new people are not to be feared, you can dramatically reduce your fur baby’s anxiety and help her transition to a new home smoothly.

Recruit a few friends to help you get your foster kitten used to new encounters. Start by having one friend come over and ply your foster kitten with treats, positive attention, behind-the-ear scratches, and toys.

A week or so later, have two people come over. The next week, invite three. If your kitten seems spooked by more people, continue the process until she comes around. Sometimes it takes a shy kitten a few opportunities to make friends before she’s willing to come out of her shell.

Foster-Parenting Must-Have Supplies

kitten in blanket

If you plan on being a repeat foster parent, first of all, good for you! It’s not easy to part ways with a dear feline friend when she’s ready to move on to her forever home, but remember that you’re doing your foster kitten and her new family an incredibly selfless service that will bring joy to them both for years to come.

As a cat lover, you probably know that cats are incredibly territorial. Just the smell of another cat can cause your foster kitten anxiety, especially if she is young and separated from her mother. Therefore, it’s important to use supplies that won’t carry the scent of one foster kitten to the next.

If you can’t afford to purchase a new litter box for each foster kitten, use strong litter box liners (we like these) as a barrier to prevent smells from permeating as much as possible.

Use laser pointers and edible treats as toys rather than plush toys that can easily absorb oils and saliva.

Have a “one kitten, one blanket” policy. Each kitten gets her own new blanket to lay on in her favorite perch. Not only will this help your kitten feel at home in her own space, but also it will provide some consistency when your kitten goes to her new home and gets to take her blanket with her.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to completely eradicate the subtle smells left behind by a previous foster kitten, but these supplies will help you make a significant improvement for your next little one.

If you’re a cat foster parent or thinking about providing a home to a foster kitten in need, we commend you. Have questions? Post them in the comments below!

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happy cat
When you bring a new cat into your home, you're taking on a commitment that will most likely span several years. In addition to giving your kitty love and attention, you'll also need to be prepared to provide medical care. We all get sick from time to time, and cats are no exception. Here are a few of the most common ailments cats acquire, beginning with:

Obesity

fat cat
Just like us, our pets are prone to obesity too, and for many of the same reasons: lack of exercise and over-reliance on cheap, processed food full of sugar and extra calories.
Guess what most of today's dry cat food is made from? That's right: fillers and the feline equivalent of junk food. Combined with the fact our pampered pets don't have to hunt for their food anymore and instead spend most of their time snoozing, that's the perfect recipe for weight gain that can put unnecessary and dangerous stress on your cat's bones and organs.
You can help your kitty maintain a healthy weight by encouraging lots of play time, feeding her a nutritious meat-based diet, and limiting treats and carbohydrates.

Diabetes

sad cat
Often related to the obesity problem is the growing incidence of feline diabetes. An estimated 0.5% to 2% of cats suffer from diabetes mellitus, a condition in which the body can't produce or use the insulin needed to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Left untreated, it can lead to malnutrition, organ damage, coma, and even death.
As in humans, diabetes may have a genetic component, and cats with certain attributes may be at higher risk of developing the illness. Obese, elderly, and/or physically inactive cats are especially at risk, but so are cats who are male, neutered, and/or undergoing steroid therapy. Burmese cats in particular are at a higher risk than other breeds as well.
Again, just like in humans, the first signs of diabetes are weight loss accompanied by increased appetite and excessive thirst and urination. If you notice these symptoms, have your cat checked by his veterinarian. The vet will likely order a blood test to confirm the diagnosis, and then she or he will develop a treatment plan with you that could include dietary changes with special food, exercise regimens, insulin therapy, and more.
The good news is that with proper management, your kitty can live a long and happy life.

Kidney Failure

cat at the vet
Kidney failure is one of the leading causes of death in cats. While it is sometimes sudden and unpredictable, there are some risk factors to keep in mind and some ways you can help prevent kidney disease or slow its progression.
In both acute and chronic kidney failure, symptoms to watch out for include increased thirst and/or urination, weight loss, vomiting, and bad breath. The earlier these symptoms are spotted and addressed, the better the outlook for your kitty's long-term health.
Pet parents should limit their cat's exposure to toxic substances, which includes things like antifreeze and household cleaners, human and veterinary medication, and certain plants, especially lilies, as all parts of the plant are highly toxic to cats.
Some breeds are more genetically prone to developing kidney disease, such as Abyssinians and Persians. However, all cats are at risk, so regular checkups are critical, most of all for senior cats who might have other conditions like diabetes that put them at higher risk for developing kidney disease.

Hyperthyroidism

cat getting shot
An overactive thyroid gland can dump too much of the thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, a condition known as hyperthyroidism. This ailment is most common in elderly cats around 13 years of age or older. Symptoms can mimic a host of other conditions, including diabetes and kidney disease, so only a veterinarian can make a proper diagnosis. Some signs to watch for include:
  • weight loss
  • increased appetite, thirst, and urination
  • dull coat
  • increased vomiting
  • weakness or depression
Diagnosis is made through a blood test, though sometimes a nuclear medicine test is ordered that will require hospitalization while the radioactive compound administered leaves the cat's body.
Your vet will go over treatment options with you, which include dietary therapy, surgery, medication, and radioactive iodine therapy. If your cat is otherwise healthy, the prognosis is usually good with appropriate treatment.

Parasites

cat itching
Fleas, ticks, and ear mites are some of the most common pests cats and cat owners have to face. Fleas and ticks are parasites that live on the animal and ingest its blood to survive, while eat mites are microscopic bugs that live on and in the cat's ear. Fleas and ticks can transmit dangerous diseases through blood contamination, and ear mites can cause damage to the ear drum and affect the cat's hearing and sense of balance. In all cases, these pests can cause discomfort and chronic itching, and when the cat bites and scratches at these spots, they can scratch their skin and leave themselves open to possible infections.
The best way to avoid such parasites is to limit your cat's exposure to the outdoors and to other cats. If you bring a new cat into the home, be sure to check it thoroughly for parasites. If you find any, try to keep that cat quarantined as much as possible. If you suspect a flea or mite outbreak, treat all of your cats and the places they like to hang out at the same time, as the bugs are highly contagious and can spread quickly.
Check your pets regularly for signs of fleas and other unwanted guests, and tackle any potential problems immediately to help ward off a full-blown infestation. If you live in an area where these nasty critters are common, or if your cat insists on going outside, speak with your vet about a monthly topical or pill treatment to kill off any parasites before they can cause too much damage.
Do you have any tips for managing these or other common cat health problems? Let us know in the comments down below.

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