Cat Eating Grass - PrettyLitter
Last month we talked about the common household plants that can be harmful to your fur baby. If you're a homeowner who likes to see a lot of green, be sure to check that article out. But what about the best plants for cats?
Cats are known to nibble on things – plastic bags, leaves, your toes. So if Fluffy is going to be gnawing on anything she can get her cute little mitts on, shouldn't we at least try to put healthy munchies around the house?
Thankfully, there are several plants that top the list of the best plants for cats. Here are our favorites.

Catnip, Silver Vine or Cat Thyme

Catnip Plant - PrettyLitter

Let's just put these front and center. Not only are catnip, silver vine, and cat thyme safe for your pet, but they're also healthy for your kitty. Each of these plants acts as a stimulant for your cat, which can dramatically lower stress levels and boost mood.
Catnip is the most well-known of these stimulating herbs, but not all cats respond to it. Only about two-thirds of cats have a reaction to catnip. Silver vine, on the other hand, affects about 80 percent of cats.
Still, if your cat doesn't react to catnip and you can't find silver vine, give cat thyme a try. Like catnip and silver vine, cat thyme can relax away the stress of your cat's day. However, some humans don't like its scent.
These plants are easy to grow and since they grow quite slowly, they're also easy to maintain. So grab a seed pouch to grow your own or pick up a starter plant at your local pet store or nursery. Your cat will thank you – after she's done spazzing out.

Good Grass

Cat Grass - PrettyLitter

Maybe it's the long, thin blades that appeal to cats or the satisfying crunch they get when they snap one off and munch on it like a celery stick, but all cats seem to love grass. Both lemongrass and cat grass are some of the best plants for cats.
If you go to your local pet shop, you'll likely see little trays of cat grass near the register. Cat grass is actually any form of grass that's safe for felines to rub noses with, including barley, oat, and wheat grasses.
However, many homeowners like to grow lemongrass in their homes for the subtle, refreshing smell, as well as the many cooking uses it offers. While the blades of lemongrass aren't quite as long and lean as cat grass, we thought it deserved to be included in the types of good grass your cat will appreciate.

Herbs

Cat Safe Herbs - PrettyLitter
Here's another thing you and your cat have in common: a love for herbs. If you enjoy cooking with fresh herbs like rosemary and parsley, you can start doing a happy dance – they're safe for your fur baby, too!
In fact, parsley is full of potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamins A, B, and C, which are all good things in the cat world.
Rosemary is one of the world's most favored herbs for its versatility in cooking as well as its relaxing scent. Your cat loves it because rosemary acts as a natural flea repellant, too!

Valerian

Many of the plants that are healthy for your cat are also healthy for you! In the world of us two-legged creatures, valerian is known for its sleep promoting properties. However, it'll do just the opposite for your cat.
Valerian acts as a stimulant for your cat and gives her all the good feels. In fact, if your cat is carrying around a bit of excess weight, it may be just what your cat needs to get some good, healthy exercise.
If you get a valerian plant for your home, you may see your kitty nibbling on its leaves – and that's perfectly fine. It's safe to eat and your cat will love her new source of natural energy.

Spider Plants

Cat and Spider Plant - PrettyLitter
If you're looking for something that looks more like a house plant and less like something that should be stocked in the produce aisle at your grocery store, get a spider plant.
Spider plants are vibrant green house plants that have long, thin foliage that grows from the center of the plant and falls outward in arches to form a gorgeous, symmetrical display.
Cats love the stimulant qualities, which are quite similar to catnip. Plus, those leaves are just irresistible to cats who love to bat at stringy, bouncy things.

The Best Plants for Cats, Not in Plant Form

The plant world is chock full of green things that can make your kitty feel better. However, not all of them should be kept in plant form around your house.
For instance, many herbs are best for your cat when they are brewed and concentrated down into a tincture (a concentrated extract of a specific herb or herbal blend). A tincture can then be applied topically, depending on the type and use.
Here are some of the best plants for cats when they're in tincture form:
  • Calendula – used for skin issues and excessive itching.
  • Cat's Claw – contains a natural cortisone, which is used for feline allergies and excessive itching.
  • Chamomile – used for skin issues and excessive itching.
  • Dandelion – used for feline allergies and excessive itching.
  • Echinacea – used for skin issues and excessive itching.
Always consult your veterinarian before using any tincture on your feline friend. If your vet gives you the thumbs up, these may be great alternatives to pharmaceutical medications.
Is your kitty a wanna-be-herbivore? Snap a picture of your cute kitty in the act and tag us on Instagram @PrettyLitterCats.

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Cat Eating Food

Cats can be even more unpredictable than humans in some ways, including what they will and won't eat. But even though some felines are more finicky than others about their dietary choices, they all share some basic nutritional needs – and some need specific adjustments to their diets to help them cope with health challenges. Let's take a moment to examine what you should (and shouldn't) feed your favorite four-legged friend.

Feline Nutrition 101

Cat and Meat

Cats eat meat. This fact will come as no surprise if you've ever received the surprise present of a dead mouse or bird from Kitty. But there's more to it than that. Cats have to get their nutrition from meat instead of plant matter. That's because their bodies can't manufacture several essential nutrients, from vitamins such as Vitamin A and niacin to amino acids such as arginine and taurine. (By contrast, dogs can produce these substances internally.) Your cat can also get these essential nutrients from the tissues of other animals. A high-quality cat food solves this problem by providing a fully-balanced nutritional mix.

Keep in mind that cats may need different amounts of calories, proteins, and other nutrients depending on their age and activity level. That kitten bouncing all over your house may need 3 to 4 meals a day until he starts to mature, at which point you can taper off to 2 meals. Geriatric cats may not move much at all, so you'll want to scale down their daily food intake. Sedentary cats can quickly become obese. Obesity in turn can make your cat prone to diabetes, high blood pressure, internal organ problems, arthritis and other woes.

What Not to Feed Your Cat

Cat with Plate

As you can imagine, commercial dog food isn't designed to provide that comprehensive nutrition your cat needs. Make sure your dog's food bowl and your cat's food bowl each contain food created specifically for each animal – even if your kitty prefers the taste of “puppy chow.”

Generally speaking, human food should also be crossed off of your cat's menu, no matter how much your cat may beg for it. Not only do human bodies require a totally different nutritional mix than cats, but our diet tends to include foods full of salt, sugar, fat, chemicals, and other things we probably shouldn't even be feeding ourselves. Some foods, such as garlic, onions, and chocolate, can even make your cat dangerously ill.

That said, the occasional treat of a genuinely healthy human food won't hurt your cat; in fact, it might even do him good. Sardines, for example, are packed with protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and other nutrients cats can use. (They're also lower in mercury than that other feline favorite, tuna.) But these fish also add calories, so you'll want to dial back your cat's portion sizes accordingly. You also want to stick to salt-free, water-packed sardines so your cat isn't receiving unhealthy extras along with his nutrients.

Special Diets for Special Needs

kitten eating

Even though all cats need the same basic nutrition, some food ingredients can aggravate, or at least don't do anything to improve, existing health issues. Fortunately, there are plenty of specialized products your veterinarian can recommend these days, some of which are devised to suit cats with particular diseases or disorders. For example, you can find low-carb food for cats with diabetes, low-phosphorus food for cats with kidney disease, and low-sodium food for cats with hypertension. Low-fat foods and/or reduced portions may be good for obese felines (along with exercise and other healthy responses). If your cat suffers from a painful inflammatory condition such as arthritis, ask your vet whether adding a little turmeric to his food might help him feel better.

Feeding a cat isn't as simple as you might have thought. But serve your cat high-quality food that meets his nutritional needs, and he'll thrive for years to come!

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Cat no Eating

Not eating.

It’s the cardinal sign that something is wrong – in cats and humans alike.

It can be an extremely scary thing for you as a cat parent to notice: Your usually ravenous fur baby hasn't eaten any kibble in days.

They may be displaying other signs of distress, or they may not. Either way, you’re confused, worried, and scared.

Here's what not eating could indicate, other symptoms to watch for, and what to do for your feline friend.

Loss of Appetite

The first thing to realize when you notice something – anything – is wrong with your fur baby is that cats and all animals can feel under the weather just like us. A lack of appetite may be caused by something small, like a headache or a queasy stomach, so it’s important not to jump to worst-case-scenario conclusions.

Stay positive and be there for your little one. Cats are extremely perceptive creatures and, like you’ve probably noticed if you’ve been a cat parent for a while, they can pick up on your mood. Remain calm, positive, and nurturing to keep your cat’s stress as low as possible while you work together to figure out what’s up.

Adults

adult cat not eating

Like green-, blue-, or red-colored PrettyLitter, your cat’s loss of appetite is a clear sign that something may be wrong. Unfortunately, it could be any number of things.

For example, if your cat recently got her vaccinations, she may simply be feeling a bit woozy while her body works through the treatment. Typically, loss of appetite from vaccinations is temporary and resolves itself pretty quickly.

On the other hand, the problem could be more serious. Dental problems are known to cause cats to avoid the food bowl. If you notice that your cat is struggling to eat food, is only chewing on one side of her mouth, is drinking far more or far less water than usual, or seems to avoid doing anything with her mouth, she may have a dental problem and need to see the vet.

Another common cause of changes in appetite in cats is stress. Have you moved recently? Added a new member to the family? Changed your routine? Purchased a new food for your cat? If so, your cat may simply be stressing about it. Luckily, there are ways to help your cat unwind.

If you’ve ruled out all of these options, your cat could be suffering from a serious medical condition. There are several feline illnesses that could cause your cat to stop eating, such as:

  • Cancer
  • Infection
  • Intestinal problems
  • Kidney failure
  • Pancreatitis

Pay attention to any other signs of feline illness, such as:

  • Prolonged seclusion
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Drooling
  • Pale gums
  • Coughing
  • Bad breath

If you notice any combination of symptoms, it’s time for a vet visit.

Kittens

Kitten with food

Oh kittens.... the fuzzy little awkward things that make our hearts skip a beat. During their first few weeks of life, kittens are fragile. They’re growing from tiny little puffs of adorableness into slightly larger kings and queens of the castle – and that takes a lot of energy.

If your kitten is not eating, it’s serious cause for concern. In their developing state, kittens are burning through crazy amounts of energy, which means they shouldn’t go more than 24 hours (often less!) without eating.

To get your kitten to eat, you may need to try force-feeding milk or kitten formula with a plastic syringe. As uncomfortable as this may be, it’s often what it takes to get kittens to realize that they need to start consuming nutrients on their own now that they’re out of the womb.

Kittens rely heavily on their sense of smell in early age while their eyes are developing. Many cat parents and breeders have found that introducing a strong-smelling wet food to kittens is all it takes to get them to start nibbling.

If you still can’t get your wee one to eat, you should take her in to see the vet straight away.

Beyond Being A “Picky Eater”

Before you rush Fluffy off to the vet, consider all of the easy-to-fix options first. For example, some cats are simply picky eaters.

While some cats drool at the sound of a wet-food can being opened, others will turn their cute little noses up at the wet stuff and demand dry kibble. Some love fish-flavored food, while others will only eat the highest quality bits of bison.

Meanwhile, other cats have issues with the size of their food bowls. If your cat’s bowl is too small, for instance, it may touch her whiskers when she goes in for a bite, which can be irritating to some cats.

Still others refuse to eat unless they’re home alone, or their human is in the room, or it’s morning, or it’s nighttime. Cats are odd little beasts – which is why we love them – and part of your job as a cat parent is to figure out the puzzle of your cat’s eating habits.

Time to Call the Vet

Cat at Vet

Changes in eating patterns can indicate so many different things, which is why we recommend doing your due diligence to rule out all of the simplest causes before taking Kitty in for a potentially stressful visit to the vet.

However, you shouldn’t wait too long. Do your best to work quickly through the possible causes we mentioned above. Then, if it’s been a couple days without your cat resuming her normal nom nom nom, take her in to see the doc.

In particular, watch out for rapid weight loss. This is a sign that your cat needs to see the vet stat!

Fasting or not eating while ill is normal for animals. When cats don’t eat, their bodies turn to their stored fat for energy. This is perfectly fine and is exactly what fat stores are for. Ideally, your fur baby’s immune system will work through whatever bug has made her feel unwell and she’ll be back to normal in a day or two.

In severe cases, though, cats who go without eating can deplete their stores of protein, which your cat’s liver needs to break down stored fat into energy. With protein levels exhausted, your cat’s liver can’t process fat and your cat may experience hepatic lipidosis, which is a dangerous and potentially deadly condition.

Rapid or dramatic weight loss is a sure sign that your cat is approaching this danger zone and needs to see the veterinarian.

Has your cat struggled with appetite in the past? Currently? Tell us about your experience in the comments below. We’ll do our best to help.

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Grey Cat Eating

All cats, from tabbies to tigers, are obligate carnivores, meaning they must consume meat to function. Because cats are apex predators and evolved to be hunters, they must eat animal meat to thrive. Read on to see how this translates into your feline friend's ideal diet.

Calorie Needs

There are many different cat breeds, so individual needs differ greatly. Accordingly, your cat's exact needs depend not just on breed, but also on her size, age, and usual activity level. You'll need to ask your vet for guidance about your cat's specific requirements.
Generally speaking, fully grown adult cats require between 24 and 35 calories per pound per day to maintain a healthy weight. Neutered or spayed cats also require fewer calories than their intact counterparts. The Animal Medical Center of Chicago has a useful chart for quick reference here.
Kittens have special nutritional needs because they double their weight every week for their first several weeks of life. After they have been weaned from their mother and moved to cat food, they require about twice as many calories as adult cats until they too reach adulthood.

Why Cats Need Meat

Cat and Meat
Cats in the wild exclusively eat meat. They need certain vitamins and minerals their bodies don't produce naturally, and they also lack the mechanisms humans have that allow us to get protein from plant sources. Some of these needs include Vitamin A, niacin (an essential B vitamin), arginine, taurine, and arachidonic acid.
Arginine is an amino acid critical in eliminating protein waste buildup. If this waste is not broken down and cleared away, it can lead to disastrous health effects. For cats, the only source of usable dietary arginine is in animal tissue.
Taurine is another amino acid only produced in body tissue. It keeps the heart and retinas working properly, and it also aids in the creation of bile necessary for digestion and waste management. Cats lack the ability to produce taurine themselves, so they can only get it by eating other animals.
Arachidonic acid is an essential fatty acid for fat storage and energy production. Cats lack the liver enzyme to produce the chemical themselves, so they must obtain arachidonic acid by eating animal fat.

Proteins, Fats, and Water

Like most animals, cats need special nutrients to keep their bodies healthy. The most important of these is protein, which is needed for "the manufacture of antibodies, enzymes, hormones, and tissues and for proper pH balance," according to Feline-Nutrition.org. While humans and other animals can get protein from grain and vegetables sources, cats can't process these same sources well. As a result, they must get it from other animals.
Fats are critical for the proper digestion, storage, and utilization of nutrients that power every part of the body. Essential fatty acids (meaning they cannot be produced in the body and must be obtained through food) are especially important. Though humans and other animals can get these acids from multiple sources, cats can't convert as much as they need from plant material. They must eat animals which have already converted this chemical for them.
Water is a vital component for all living things. However, cats evolved in desert climates, so they don't tend to drink as much water as other animals. While you should always make sure your cat has access to as much clean, fresh drinking water as it wants, be aware that cats in the wild get most of their water through moist animal meat.

What About Carbohydrates?

Kittens Eating Dinner
Simply put, cats have no dietary need for carbohydrates. They evolved to rely on fat and protein for energy. Their bodies are not very good at processing carbs, which is why cats fed a strict diet of grain-heavy dry food can be prone to obesity.
This doesn't mean you have to ban kibble completely. Many cats like the crunch of dry food, and your cat might be resistant to change if you try to take away her dry food she's eaten since she was a kitten. Try increasing wet food intake while decreasing access to dry food, or restrict kibble to treats to satisfy kitty's desire for crunchiness.
Have any questions about cat nutrition? Ask us in the comments below! We'll do our best to help!

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cat wuth bad breath

We humans brush our pearly whites every day for the sake of good breath and a glistening smile.

Sadly, your cat isn’t as good at keeping up with oral hygiene as you are.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a big yawn or exhale from your furry friend, you’ve likely picked up on this fact: cats don’t have the greatest smelling breath.

However, there’s a difference between “that’s not very nice” and “Phew! That’s rancid!”

If your cat has knock-out-a-buffalo breath, here are a few potential causes and what you can do about them.

Causes of Cat Bad Breath

As you’ve likely noticed, your cat uses her mouth for everything - eating, drinking, carrying things around the house, grooming, and chatting you up at 4:30 in the morning. That little mouth gets quite the workout, so it’s no wonder that things can go awry from time to time.

Cat bad breath can be caused by a number of things. To sleuth out the source of your cat’s halitosis, rule out the following possibilities.

Stuck Food

While your cat may not get spinach stuck in her teeth like we do, she can get other bits of goodies trapped between those pearly whites. Check your cat’s mouth to see if she has a piece of kibble or critter (pardon the crudeness, but cat’s are natural hunters) wedged between her teeth.

Simply dislodging it and letting her mouth return to a clean state can be all you need to do to solve the cat breath issue.

Injury

Given how much use your cat’s mouth gets, it’s common for her to suffer an occasional oral injury. Take a peek inside the jaws of the beast and look for any red or swollen areas. If you notice an injury and there is pus or discharge, take your cat to the vet. She may need help beating back that infection.

Plaque Build Up

This one should sound familiar - it’s what we hear about any time we go to the human dentist!

Cats can get plaque build up, too, and it can cause some serious feline halitosis (that’s a real condition, by the way).

If you or your vet notice significant plaque build up around your cat’s gum line, it may be time to start brushing Fluffy’s teeth.

Trouble Troubleshooting?

If neither of these two issues is present, it’s possible there’s an underlying cause to your cat’s stinky breath that you can’t see.

Other causes of bad cat breath include:

  • Allergies - your cat may be allergic to something in her food.
  • Trapped baby teeth - if your cat is on the younger side, she may be having an issue with a kittenhood tooth.
  • Periodontal disease - the most common problem associated with bad breath, according to veterinarians at Cornell University.
  • Gingivitis - inflammation of the gums.
  • Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORLs) or Tooth Resorption - 28-67% of cats will suffer from tooth resorption and bad breath can be a clear indicator that something’s wrong in your cat’s mouth.
  • Chewing mishaps - if your cat chews on an electrical cord or something else harmful, it can cause serious oral issues.
  • Diabetes - a sweet smell on your cat’s breath could indicate diabetes.
  • Gastrointestinal problems - your cat’s diet and digestion play a major role in the odors emanating from Fluffy’s mouth.
  • Organ malfunction - dysfunction of the liver, kidneys, and even respiratory system can contribute to bad breath.

To find out which of these many issues are truly to blame for Kitty’s bad breath, see your vet right way. Many conditions can be treated or even cured if they’re caught early.

Cat Breath Solutions

cat breath solutions

The most common cause of cat bad breath is periodontal disease – inflammation of the tooth, which can spread throughout your cat’s mouth.

To prevent periodontal disease and several other bad-breath-causing conditions, it’s critical to monitor your cat’s oral hygiene.

Start by making sure your cat always has plenty of water to drink. A healthy, hydrated cat with a moist mouth is better able to fight off infection and prevent the growth of bad bacteria.

Next, check with your veterinarian to make sure the food and treats you’re giving your cat aren’t causing gastrointestinal distress or an allergic reaction.

With proper hydration and diet checked off the list, it’s time to focus on maintaining a clean mouth.

Get in the habit of brushing your cat’s teeth once per week. It may take time to build up to this frequency, but it will be well worth it to avoid needless pain and suffering for your cat and expensive vet bills for you.

Does your cat have a winning smile? Snap a pic and tag us on Instagram with #PrettyLitterCats!

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