Cat Well-being

  • A warm cat is a happy cat


    How to protect your feline friend when the mercury dips

    While South African winters are not as extreme as in other parts of the world, even with their furry exterior, our feline friends do feel the cold, and as such, it is important to ensure they are warm and comfortable during the colder months.

    Fortunately hypothermia and frostbite (two conditions fairly common in the colder climates of Europe), are unlikely in South Africa, but cats can succumb to a host of illnesses and diseases that the colder months might bring. Not to mention, a cold cat is a miserable cat. So here are a few guidelines to take note of when caring for your cat as we begin to gear up for winter:

    Continue reading

  • * Cough * Splutter * Spit * Vomit - Hairball!


    How to treat hairballs in cats

    Your alarm goes off. You push the snooze button. Begrudgingly, you swing your legs over the bed and start to make your way to the kitchen to make your morning coffee, when - squish. You step in something soft and mushy. A hairball.

    While this is a far from ideal wake-up call, not to mention an unpleasant experience for the feline too, if you own a cat, this is not an uncommon occurrence. The good news is, there are a few things you can do to prevent this unfortunate incident happening in the future.

    What is a hairball?  Continue reading

  • Why do cats wander, I wonder?


    Purry has been missing for a few hours. You begin to panic. You find her next door, happily lying on the neighbour’s patio in the sun. Is this normal?

    Although domesticated, a cat’s instinct is to roam; be it to search for a mate, an adventure or place of safety and comfort. They often don’t see your home as their home but simply a place that has food and somewhere to sleep. Having said that, cats are territorial so if they do wander off, it’s unlikely that they would have gone very far.

    How to prevent cats from wandering:

    First things first, get them neutered. This will quell the desire to go on the hunt for a mate. Secondly, make your home as comfortable as possible for them, so they wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Food and shelter are a priority, as well as providing a place of safety. Continue reading


    Should I wash my cat?

    Washing your cat – the mere thought sends you to the pharmacy to stock up on plasters and bandages. Fortunately, cats are expert self-groomers. Their sticky tongues, fastidious nature and flexibility means, in most cases, they can clean themselves better than you can. This is a good thing because, as we all know, most cats are not fans of human-type baths, which can often result in disastrous (and painful) consequences!

    However, there are times when bathing your cat is necessary:

    • If your cat has long hair which can be rather oily
    • When she needs to be dipped for fleas
    • When she is unnecessarily dirty (rubbed herself against wet paint or incurred some other unfortunate mishap)
    • Is she is a show cat and you want her to look her absolute best
    • If she can’t groom herself for whatever reason
    • If she suffers from skin allergies and requires specific treatment.

    Here are the steps to a quick and easy (and pain-free!) cat wash Continue reading

  • Common Cat Skin Conditions

    We hate to see our beloved feline friends suffering any form of discomfort, and unfortunately skin conditions are often the culprit. The condition of a cat’s skin is often an indication of his/her general well-being, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye out to see if your cat is suffering from a skin condition in any way.


    Some of the symptoms your cat might experience if suffering from a skin condition:

    • Excessive  scratching and grooming
    • Dry, flaky skin
    • Bald patches
    • Lesions or lumps
    • Blisters or pimples
    • Red, raw areas
    • Scabs that won’t heal

    Just some of the most common skin complaints seen in cats, often seen in varying degrees of severity: Continue reading

  • Why is my cat losing his hair?

    Cat hair loss

    By Dr Megan Kelly

    As with dogs, skin conditions can be extremely frustrating to solve and they often end with several visits to the vet to rule out all the different causes by doing diagnostic tests as well as seeing the response to treatment.

    Excessive itchiness often results in excessive grooming which can then result in hair loss, scabs and skin inflammation. However, it is difficult to know whether excessive grooming is due to itchiness as sometimes cats may also groom when they are stressed. The licking stimulates endorphin release, which are feel good hormones and this helps to decrease the cat’s stress. So vets need to work out is the hair loss is caused by a skin lesion or if it’s a behavioural issue. And if it is a skin lesion what the cause is so it can be treated effectively. Your vet will do a series of diagnostic tests, take a thorough history and look at the distribution of the hair loss as certain areas may be indicative of specific causes. E.g. flea allergy dermatitis is usually on the back towards the tail.

    So what causes excessive grooming?

    Continue reading

  • What is my cat trying to tell me?

    Cat hair loss

    Communication is second nature to us humans and often we forget that our feline friends also have their way of communicating with each other and with us. If it’s the first time you’re a cat owner, the expressionless face and meows you hear from them, will be very confusing to decipher or understand. But do not worry, you can better understand your furry friend by paying attention to her vocalisations, body postures, and daily routines. Your cat’s vocabulary may seem limited, but you can learn to associate the sounds he/she makes with certain moods or desires. Take into consideration the following 3 types of sounds:

    • The most common sort of meow is just a simple cry for attention
    • If the meowing happens when you've arrived home, your cat is probably happy to see you and wants to be cuddled or picked up
    • A female cat in heat will meow constantly to advertise her availability to males (also sounds like wailing, sometimes all day and night.) Continue reading
  • Help! My cat’s going bald!

    Cats spend most of their waking life grooming themselves, so you can be forgiven if you don’t notice excessive grooming right away. In fact, you might only notice it when she starts pulling chunks of fur out, and bald patches start appearing. This often results in a vicious cycle as the raw, exposed skin can lead to infection, which in turn, leads to more licking – and so it goes on. So what does one do when you notice your cat’s got a problem?


    Firstly, you need to identify the cause of the problem. It could be either medical where often a veterinarian should be consulted, or emotional, in which case you need to get to the root of the problem in order to rectify it.

    Causes of over-grooming & how to deal with it

    Continue reading

  • Dealing with aggressive cats.

    It is in a feline’s DNA to display some sort of aggression, be it in the form of predation, social interaction or simply rough play. The level of aggression displayed will most often be according to breed or background, but can result in scratching, biting or clawing. No fun if you’re an innocent bystander! The good news is that most of the time your cat will provide plenty of warning before acting aggressively. If he displays any of the below, back away and leave him be. Chances are, he will calm down and go about his business, with no harm done.






    Signs of pending aggression:

    • Growling
    • Hissing/spitting
    • Flattening  of ears
    • Hairs on his neck (hackles) up
    • Twitching tail
    • Tense body
    • Staring straight ahead/pupils dilated
    • Crouching body

    What follows are some simple and typical types of aggressive behaviour and how you can deal with each one individually:

    1. Rough play

    Rough play most often starts as kittens and is often encouraged by humans who find it cute to “rough-house” with their kittens. That is until they get bigger and the teeth and claws become a whole lot more painful!

    Solution: Try not to encourage aggressive play. If your ankles are constantly under attack, get a toy and quickly throw the toy for the cat to play with in anticipation of their next pounce. Distraction, as well as the entire family’s buy-in is key! Continue reading

  • What’s That Smell? The Lowdown On Feline Spraying

    Cat spraying

    It’s never pleasant to come home to find puddles of cat urine throughout the house. Why do cats feel the need to urinate outside of the litter box and what can be done about it? Firstly, you need to identify if your cat is spraying (also known as marking), as opposed to simply urinating inappropriately. When a cat sprays, he will usually urinate on a vertical surface (a wall, couch, door etc), with his tail erect, sometimes twitching his entire body, depositing a fairly small amount of foul smelling urine.

    Why does a cat spray?

    Unlike dogs, cats lack social skills, and spraying is a form of communication; their way of sending messages without actually having to confront one another.

    • Marking territory: The most common understanding as to why cats spray is they are marking their territory. By leaving his mark on the door, his message is clear; “This is my home – do not enter.”
    • Announcing availability: Spraying is common during mating season. The pheromones in the urine communicate ones availability. “Ladies, I’m ready and willing to have your babies!”
    • Anxiety:  Cats thrive on routine and familiarity – they don’t like change. Any change to his environment, such as a new baby, new pet or even new furniture, can cause stress which can result in spraying. “What’s that thing that has come into my home, cries all the time and smells odd? I don’t like it.”

    How to stop the behaviour

    Continue reading

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