Animal Care and Educational Information

Please be careful what your dog eats this holiday season




Some of the food items that are safe to feed your cat and

some that can be harmful.


Do you just refill your fur baby’s water or food bowl? If so, you could make them very sick.

The National Sanitation Foundation International, a public health organization, rated pet food and water bowls as the fourth dirtiest spot in our homes!

Bowls that don’t get washed can be teaming with dangerous bacteria and fungus. Bowls should be cleaned DAILY (preferably with hot water and nontoxic soap and/or run thru a dishwasher). Wash the inside AND outside—my dog regularly licks the sides of her bowl.

Did you know? Animals will often shy away from dirty water bowls and seek out other water sources, like puddles which can be equally filthy.

A WORD ON BOWLS: Dump the Plastic! tests pet products for lead, chlorine, arsenic, and other toxic substances. Lots of plastic contains a known carcinogen called BPA which leaches into water and food. Some plastic bowls that are BPA free contain lead. Plastic also absorbs odors and scratches up easily, those scratches are teaming with bacteria that you cannot get rid of by cleaning.

Invest in a sturdy glass bowl or quality stainless steel (some bowls imported from China have tested positive for toxic substances, like lead).

You may prefer a fun ceramic bowl—make sure it has a lead-free food-grade glaze. Get rid of chipped, cracked, scratched bowls—all those nooks and crannies harbor germs.

Care for your fur baby bowls like you do your own dishes—pets are family and depend on us to provide a healthy, clean bowl for every meal.

Article courtesy of Red and Howling


Vertical Space is Good Enrichment for Cats

A study by Emma Desforges (Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition) et al finds that adding a vertical screen is good enrichment for cats. And while the study used cats that live at the Waltham research centre, the results suggest pet cats could benefit too.

The scientists took an Ikea bookcase called Kallax in which the shelves are subdivided. They put half the backing on one side and half on the other, so that some shelves faced one way and the rest the other way (8 spaces arranged 2 x 4 per side). Then they put it in the middle of a room.

If you’re thinking crazy cat lady organizer, you’re not far off, but this version is taller.

They observed the cats for set time intervals for two days before the screen was added, four days while it was there, and two days after it was removed.

Cats used the screen and spent more time off the ground when it was there, even though they already had some shelves around the walls of the room. The spaces allowed them to get away from other cats if they wanted.

There were some effects of time of day, but in general the cats showed fewer unfriendly behaviours when the screen was there.

When the screen was taken away, unfriendly behaviours increased.

And although the screen gave cats the chance to hide from each other, they still engaged in the same number of friendly behaviours before and during the screen phase.

The scientists write,

“In summary, exploiting the unused vertical space by the addition of stand-alone shelving should be considered a valuable resource for the cat by increasing useable space and reducing agonistic interactions, with the caveat that the shelving remains a permanent fixture or for rolling replacement of enrichment objects with alternative forms of similar value.”

In other words, once you’ve given them some shelves, don’t take them away without having a replacement because they will miss them.

29 cats took part in the study. They live in four different groups at the Waltham pet nutrition centre. Enrichment is especially important for captive cats like this.

But indoor cats could benefit too. These days, many people keep their cats indoors because of concerns about the risks of being outside (coyotes and cars, for example). Using vertical height, as in this study, is one way to adapt the indoor environment for cats.

This study suggests it would be particularly important in a multi-cat household, but individual cats will also benefit from the opportunities to use vertical space and have nice vantage points from which to survey the room.

You do not have to rush out to Ikea, although the Kallax shelving does look like it’s designed to provide cubby holes for cats. Perhaps you already have some bookshelves and can clear space on them so your cats can use the shelves. Other options include shelves mounted on the walls, vertical scratching posts affixed to walls with a shelf at the top for cats to climb up to, or tall cat trees for cats to perch in.

If you’re feeling creative, Ikeahackers have lots of suggestions for re-modelling Ikea furniture for cats.

The full paper is open access.