Jan 31, 2007

The year starts early - pink squirrel baby

She was brought to me as an "opossum", but turned out to be a little squirrel girl. She's been here for 2 days now and I am happy with the progress. She had a puncture wound and a larcaration which are healing nicely. I put her on antibiotics just in case the wounds were caused by a cat and the bacterias had time to settle in. Lets hope she will continue to progress as she has the past 2 days :):

Click to view full size image

Click to view full size image


She weighs 0.9 oz and eats 0.5 - 1 cc every 3 hours.

Declawing and Alternatives

Declawing is something that should only be considered in cases of EXTREME behavioral problems. Cats use their claws to exercise, play, stretch, climb, hunt and mark their territory. Although your cat might use your hands or furniture for these activities, declawing is NOT the answer and there are many other ways to guide your cat to healthy claw activity.

The declawing operation itself is the human equivalent of removing the first joint of all your fingers. Many vets feel that the lack of these joints impairs the cat's balance and can cause weakness from muscular disease. Declawing also makes a cat feel defenseless and can affect their personality, making them skittish or nervous biters. In rescue work, we see many declawed cats that have been given up by their owners. Why? Because these cats still had behavioral problems that were worsened by not having their claws. So, if you are adamant about declawing your new cat, why not consider adopting a cat which has already been declawed?

Take it from an expert. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, author of The Cat Who Cried For Help, offers this perspective on the procedure:"Declawing involves more than simply trimming a cat's nails to the quick; it actually involves amputation of the tips of the digits, bones and all. The inhumanity of the procedure is clearly demonstrated by the nature of cats' recovery from anesthesia following the surgery. Unlike routine recoveries, including recovery from neutering surgeries, which are fairly peaceful, declawing surgery results in cats bouncing off the walls of the recovery cage because of excruciating pain. Cats that are more stoic huddle in the corner of the recovery cage, immobilized in a state of helplessness, presumably by the overwhelming pain. Declawing fits the dictionary definition of mutilation to a tee. Words such as deform, disfigure, disjoint, and dismember all apply to this surgery. Partial digital amputation is so horrible that it has been employed for torture of prisoners of war, and in veterinary medicine, the clinical procedure servesas a model of severe pain for testing the efficacy of analgesic drugs. Even though analgesic drugs can be used postoperatively, they rarely are, and their effects are incomplete and transient anyway, so sooner or later the pain will emerge.

‘The operative removal of the claws, as is sometimes practiced to protect furniture and curtains, is an act of abuse and should be forbidden by law in all, not just a few countries.’(highly regarded British textbook by Turner and Bateson on the biology of cat behavior) However quickly cats forget the hideous experience of declawing, and even though they may not hold grudges, that doesn't seem sufficient justification for putting a family pet through such a repugnant experience.""

There are alternatives to declawing. Exercise and play with your cat regularly. Give him a scratching post and teach him to use it. Trim your cat's nails on a regular basis. And, of course, talk to your vet or cat-owner friends about ways to "train" your cat to exercise its natural instincts in non-destructive ways. A squirt bottle is a great way to teach a cat not to scratch on particular surfaces. It doesn't hurt them and if you are persistent, they will get the message. There is also a product called Soft Paws. This is a fake nail which is not sharp at the tip, which fits over your cats claws. It is sold in pet stores and veterinarian clinics. And if you are adamant about having a kitty without claws, why not adopt a previously declawed kitty?


Jan 28, 2007

How to Tame a Feral Cat or Kitten

How to Tame a Feral Cat or Kitten

With a little patience and time, a feral (or wild) cat can be tamed into a loving pet. Younger cats are more apt to adjust quickly: 6-to-8-week-old kittens typically take two to three weeks to adjust to a domestic environment.


* STEP 1: Enclose the cat or kitten in a small space at first - a bathroom or bed-room works best.

* STEP 2: Turn out the light if the cat is terrified; this often has a calming effect.

* STEP 3: Put a bed, a litter box, food and water in the room. If the cat is very young (6 to 12 weeks), put her in a large carrier with a grated door and small windows.

* STEP 4: Spend at least 2 to 3 hours a day with the animal. Just sitting quietly in the same room will allow the cat to learn that you are not a threat.

* STEP 5: Gently compel the cat to let you touch her. Carefully wrap a blanket around her if you have to, hold her on your lap and pet her. Stroke her coat and touch her ears, face and neck as you talk to her in soothing tones. Even if the animal doesn't seem to be enjoying the attention, she is. Hold the cat by the scruff of the neck if she attempts to leave. (The mother cat will do this to carry or train a kitten'it doesn't hurt, and it actually relaxes the animal.)

* STEP 6: Present special treats such as chicken or tuna, and leave them if the cat will not eat from your hand.

* STEP 7: Gradually allow the cat to roam about in more rooms.

* STEP 8: If the cat tries to run away from you repeatedly, enclose her in a smaller space and start again.

Tips & Warnings

* Don't get discouraged early on; young feral cats can become very affectionate pets. Younger cats are more apt to adjust quickly: 6- to 8-week-old kittens typically take two to three weeks to adjust to a domestic environment. An older cat that has been wild for a long time is difficult and sometimes impossible to tame, and may be better left outside. If you catch one, have the animal spayed or neutered and vaccinated, and then turn the cat loose where caught, or contact a professional.

* Handle feral cats with extreme caution. Use gloves and protective clothing as required. Cat bites and scratches can result in serious health problems.

Source: http://www.ehow.com/how_6548_tame-feral-cat.html

Jan 26, 2007

If you found an orphaned Opossum

If you found an orphaned Opossum:

1. Check for injuries. Seriously injured babies should be taken to a veterinarian that day.

2. Warm the baby quickly if it feels cold

  • Heating pad: Set temperature on low. Place the heating pad half under a closed box the baby has been placed inside of along with ravel-free cloths to snuggle with.
  • Disposable plastic bottle: Use a plastic soft drink bottle or other plastic bottle. Fill it with hot water. Wrap it with a towel or other cloth. Place it inside a box with the baby. Make sure that it will not roll around possibly hurting the baby.
  • Rice sock: Fill a sock 2/3 full of rice. Microwave it on high for 2 to 2 ½ minutes. Place it in the bedding in the box with the baby.

3. Treat dehydration. Give fluids by mouth using a 1 cc syringe, eye-dropper, or pet nurser. Offer the fluids at room temperature hourly for up to 6 hours. Do not exceed 12 hours. Any of the following fluids may be used and can be purchased at the grocery or drug store :

  • Gatorade ( regular or clear flavors)
  • Pedialyte (clear, no flavor)
  • Sugar/salt water: 3 teaspoons Sugar, 1 teaspoon salt dissolved in 1 quart very warm water. Cool the water to room temperature before offering it to the baby.

4. Give it a warm box or pet carrier. Eyes closed infants and eyes open young that are in shock should be placed in a cardboard box or small/medium pet carrier with ravel-free bedding such as a few tee-shirts. Provide consistent source of warmth such as a heating pad on a low temperature setting. Place it half under the box or pet carrier.

5. Begin offering dilute formula. Make the formula as indicated in the diet section. Offer diluted formula every 2 hours using a 1 cc syringe, eye-dropper, or pet nurser. Syringes are better because there is less chance of aspiration. Give three feedings of 1 part formula / 2 parts water, then three feedings of 1 part formula/ 1 part water. If the baby does not develop diarrhea or bloat offer full strength formula at the recommended amounts and frequency for the age.

6. Provide food and housing as described below.



  • 1 part Esbilac powder
  • 1/3 part Heavy Whipping Cream,
  • 1.5 parts Water

Always begin new infants on dilute formula, and work up to full strength formula gradually. Feed 1 part full strength formula + 2 parts water every 4 hours until they can leap from the dish on their own. If at any time the infant develops diarrhea or bloating, cut back on the concentration of formula until the situation clears up. If such problems persist for more than 36 hours, seek medical advice.

How to feed:

Use a 1 cc syringe to feed formula. Wrap the baby in a cloth to keep it warm and secure. And hold it in a sitting-up position. Opossums rarely suckle a syringe but will lick from it. As soon as the babies are used to the formula, you may pour some in a shallow dish. Opossums learn to lap from a dish quickly. However, any baby not drinking well from the dish should continue to be hand fed until it is lapping from the dish and gaining weight.

Stimulating urine and feces:

This should be done for babies whose eyes are closed or just opening. Use a slightly damp cotton ball or tissue to gently stroke the genital area. The baby should produce urine within a few seconds. Babies may not urinate or produce feces every time.

Self-feeding diet: Once the opossums teeth have fully emerged begin offering the self-feeding diet. The base chow (Science Diet) should be soaked in water to make it soft and easier to eat until they reach about 12 weeks of age when it can be offered dry. Formula should be poured over the soaked chow until the babies have been weaned from formula at 10 weeks of age.

Two shallow dishes of water should be offered . One dish for drinking and one for defecating.

  1. 90% of diet: Purina puppy chow or Canine growth Science Diet (soaked in water until the opossums are older). (Pour formula over it until babies are weaned)
  2. 5% of diet: Fruits and vegetables cut in dime to nickel size pieces. Any fruit or vegetable may be used.
  3. 5% of diet: Insects such as crickets and worms, dead mice (cut up at first then left whole as babies get closer to release age).
  4. Supplements: Lightly sprinkle the food with a calcium/phosphate powder to help prevent calcium deficiencies after the baby is no longer receiving formula.

Natural foods: Add as many natural food items to the self-feeding diet as are available.

Releasing hand-raised opossums

Opossums should be ready for release at 20 to 22 weeks of age. Prior to release, your opossums should have been in a large outdoor cage for at least two weeks, preferably longer. They should be acclimated to weather changes, outdoor noises and the sights and sounds of the world. They should be properly shy of dogs, cats and humans ( EVEN YOU ). They must be familiar with their natural foods.

The release site should be outside the metropolitan area, on land with appropriate shelter, a constant water source and abundant natural food resources. There should be other opossums in the release area but it should not be overcrowded with them.

Since opossums are nocturnal (active by night), it is best to release them in the late afternoon to early evening. Release when good weather is forecast for at least 4-5 days and the last chance of freezing temperatures has passed. Ideally, their nestbox should be left at the release site, under some bushes, and back-up food provided for 4-5 days until they have located their natural food sources.

Keeping Babies Wild So They Can Go Back To The Wild

A great many baby opossums are orphaned every year. As babies, they are cute in an awkward way and will respond to their caregiver with affection. They are still wild animals though. Individuals raising orphaned babies must not treat them as pets. A baby opossum should be raised with at least one other opossum of similar age. This will aid in helping it revert to its true wild nature after being weaned. You must obtain permission from your county game warden to legally possess any wild animal even for a short period of time.

Use good hygiene. Wash your hands after handling the babies and cleaning the cage. Wash bedding and dishes separate from your own. Disinfect bedding and dishes using 1 part bleach to 30 parts water. Allow bedding and dishes to soak for at least 15 minutes then rinse. The information in this paper is brief and intended for raising healthy orphans.

Opossum Facts

  • North America's only marsupial (female has a pouch) mammal. The female carries and nurses her young in her marsupium until they are about 2 to 3 months old; then they are carried on her back another 1 to 2 months whenever they are away from the den.
  • Size of a cat; grey to black fur; black eyes; pink nose, feet and tail; black ears; and pointed nose.
  • Solitary and nocturnal: usually slow moving; when frightened and unable to flee may fall into an involuntary shock-like state, "playing 'possum".
  • Hiss or growl and show their 50 sharp teeth when frightened; but, in reality, they are gentle and placid— they prefer to avoid all confrontations and wish to be left alone.
  • Omnivorous: eats insects, snails, rodents, berries, over-ripe fruit, grasses, leaves, and carrion; occasionally will eat snakes, ground eggs, corn or other vegetables.
  • Adaptable; able to live wherever water, food, and shelter exist. At home in trees; uses its prehensile tail to help stabilize position when climbing— it does not, however, hang by its tail.
  • Few live beyond the age of 1 year in the environment; rare reports of living 5 to 10 years in captivity. Killed by many predators: humans (and cars), dogs, cats, owls, and larger wildlife.
  • Opossums are solitary nocturnal animals, but may become diurnal in cold weather. They build the nests in tree hollows and spend most of their time there. Opossums don't hibernate, but remain inactive during severe frosts. Without nests Opossums are unable to survive.
Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas
Opossum feeding
Sometimes they choose garages and attics as their temporary quarters because they are pushed out of their natural habitat and forced into closer proximity to people. In the wild Opossums have many predators: dogs, cats, owls, foxes, and other larger wildlife, but mostly Opossums suffer from humans and cars. In danger Opossums can feign death or drool heavily for a predator to think the Opossum is sick and unappetizing. Or they hiss and growl, showing sharp teeth, but it's only a bluff. These gentle and placid animals prefer to avoid confrontations.
Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas

Opossums have several ways of picking things up. Their back feet have opposable toes like the man's thumb. They can wrap the tail around things or hang on the tail, like monkeys do. They can also use their front feet for picking up things although they don't have opposable thumbs. Opossums don't have their own territory, but they are always on the move in search for food. Females stay in smaller areas while they can care for the youth. Opossums make clicking sounds during mating season or hiss and growl if threatened.

Opossums resting

Opossum habitat
Opossums - Habitat

Opossums inhabit the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, Central America, and Pacific coastal North America. The Virginia Opossum is the only marsupial found in the North America. In South America and Australia there are about 80 species of Opossums. Opossums lived during the era of dinosaurs - fossil remains have been found from 70 million years ago.

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas

Opossums - Reproduction

The breeding season for Opossums begins in December and may continue through October with most of the infants born between February and June. Like all marsupials, Opossum females have a well-developed pouch. They produce an average of 7 young, once or twice a year (litters of 17 kids have been reported). At birth, the infants are hairless, embryonic-looking, and weigh about 0.1 grams because the period of gestation is 12-13 days and because they are born at a very early stage in their development.

Opossum diet

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas
Opossum reproduction
Young Opossums have to make a long and difficult journey from the birth canal into the pouch and latch onto a teat. The mother helps by licking the hair leading into the pouch. There are only 13 teats in the pouch and not all may be functional, so the excess infants will not survive. The young open the eyes at around 60-70 days and are weaned at about 100 days of age. Then they are often carried as they cling onto the mother's back. After separation from the mother, littermates may share common dens for some time. Very few young Opossums survive to become adults.
Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas

Opossums are considered to be furbearers, but they are not taken in large numbers because their pelt has little value. Opossums are nature's sanitation engineers; they eat road-kill, carrion, rotting fruits, and pests. Also Opossums are of great interest for scientists since they are the only marsupials in America, while Australian marsupials are driven to extinction by more modern mammals.

Opossum Babies

Opossum weight
Weight: 9-13 lbs (4-6 kg). Some species reach only 300 gr.
Length: 15-20 inches (38-50 cm). Some species are 10-12 inches.
Life Span: 1-2 years in the wild, up to 10 years in captivity.
Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas

Opossums - Conservation

In the wild Opossums are closely linked with the ecology of the forests. Devastating fires destroy nest-sites and cause great declines in Opossums populations. Tall, straight trees favored by wild Opossums are highly valued for the production of timber. The technique of tree removing is very detrimental for all animals, including Opossums. The population crash has already begun and extinction of some species of Opossums in the South America and Australia is possible.

Opossum Juvenile

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas

Opossum Babies

Opossums - Diet

Opossums don't have any methods for storing food or energy so they need stable food sources and that's why their diet is so varied. Opossums feed mostly on carrion. Other food sources for the Opossum include garbage, grass, leaves, insects, frogs, small birds and rodents, snakes, and earthworms. Opossums like to treat themselves with berries, seeds, flowers, and fruits and their favorites are persimmons, apples, and corn.

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas
Opossum Babies
Opossum Babies
Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas

Opossum Babies

Opossum Babies

Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas
Opossum Young
Opossum Baby
Rainbow Wildlife Rescue, Texas
Crippled Opossum Dwarf Opossum Opossum Release
Opossum with 3 legs, birth defect Dwarf Opossum with big 3-legged sister 6 Opossums a minute before release


  • 1. Fowler, Murray E. Zoo and Wild Animal Medicine, 2nd Edition. W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, PA. 1986.
  • 2. Harrison, Kit and George. America's Favorite Backyard Wildlife. Simon and Schuster, Inc. New York. 1985.
  • 3.Martin, Alexander C., Zim, Herbert, Nelson, Arnold L. American Wildlife and Plants: A Guide to Wildlife Food Habits. Dover Publications, Inc. New York. 1951.
  • 4. Marcum, Debbie. Substitute Milk Formulas for Opossum. Wildwood Farm 14206 FM2769. Leander, Tx. 78641-9109. 1988.
  • 5. Marcum, Debbie. Stages of Development in Pouch Young of the Virginia Opossum. Wildwood Farm 14206 FM2769. Leander, Tx. 78641-9109. 1983.
  • 6. Whitaker, John O. Jr. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mammals. Alfred A. Knopf Publishing. NY. 1980.
  • 7. White, Jan. Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation. International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. Walnut Creek, CA 1988

Body Language of a Cat

Cats twitch the tips of their tails when hunting or angry, while larger twitching indicates displeasure. A tail held high is usually a sign of happiness. A half-raised shows less pleasure, and unhappiness is indicated with a tail held low. A scared or surprised cat may puff up its tail and the hair along its back and turn its body sideways to a threat in order to increase its apparent size. Cats with no tail, such as the Manx, who possess only a small stub of a tail move the stub around as though they possessed a full tail, though it is not nearly as communicative as that of a fully tailed cat. Touching noses is a friendly greeting for cats, while a lowered head is a sign of submission.

Happy cats are known to paw their owners, or that on which they sit, with a kneading motion. Cats often use this action alongside purring to show contentment and affection for their owners. It is instinctive to cats, and cats use it when they are young to stimulate the mother cat's nipple to release milk during nursing. As a result, cats that are hand-raised by humans may lack this reflex. Also, pawing is a way for cats to mark their territory. The scent glands on the underside of their paws release small amounts of scent onto the person or object being pawed, marking it as "theirs" in the same way they would urinate to mark their territory.


Jan 24, 2007

Amazing facts about cats!

Amazing facts about cats!

Did you know...

Ailurophilia is the "love of cats."

The nose pad of a cat is ridged in a pattern that is unique, just like the fingerprint of a human.

There are more than 500 million domestic cats in the world, with 33 different breeds.

The American cat population reached nearly 68 million in 1996. American Demographics magazine estimates that's about 200 million kitty yawns per hour and a whopping 425 million catnaps each day!

A cat's heart beats twice as fast as a human heart, at 110 to 140 beats per minute.

25% of cat owners blow dry their cats hair after a bath.

The largest cat breed is the Ragdoll. Males weigh twelve to twenty pounds, with females weighing ten to fifteen pounds. The smallest cat breed is the Singapura. Males weigh about six pounds while females weigh about four pounds.

Calico cats are almost always female.

If your cat is near you, and her tail is quivering, this is the greatest expression of love your cat can give you. If her tail starts thrashing, her mood has changed --- Time to distance yourself from her.

Cats wag their tails when it is in a stage of conflict. The cat wants to do two things at once, but each impulse blocks the other. For example: If your cat is in the doorway wanting to go outside, and you open the door to find it raining, the cat's tail will wag because of internal conflict. The cat wants to go outside, but doesn't want to go into the rain. Once the cat makes a decision and either returns to the house or leaves into the rain, the tail will immediately stop wagging.

Don't pick a kitten or a cat up by the scruff of its neck; only mother cats can do this safely, and only with their kittens.

Cats knead with their paws when they're happy.

Your cat loves you and can "read" your moods. If you're sad or under stress, you may also notice a difference in your cat's behavior.

The domestic cat is the only cat species able to hold its tail vertically while walking. All wild cats hold their tails horizontally or tucked between their legs while walking.

An average cat has 1-8 kittens per litter, and 2-3 litters per year.

During her productive life, one female cat could have more than 100 kittens.

In 1952, a Texas Tabby named Dusty set the record by having more than 420 kittens before having her last litter at age 18.

The largest known litter (with all surviving) was that of a Persian in South Africa named Bluebell. Bluebell gave birth to 14 kittens in one litter!

A single pair of cats and their kittens can produce as many as 420,000 kittens in just 7 years.

More than 35,000 kittens are born in the U.S. each year. Spay or neuter your cat.

Cats have 290 bones in their bodies, and 517 muscles.

A cat has five more vertebrae in her spinal column than her human does.

There are three body types for a cat. Cobby type is a compact body, deep chest, short legs and broad head. The eyes are large and round. Muscular type is a sturdy body and round, full-cheeked head. Foreign type is a slender body, with long legs and a long tail. The head is wedge-shaped, with tall ears and slanting eyes.

Sir Isaac Newton, discoverer of the principles of gravity, also invented the cat door.

A cat will amost never "meow" at another cat. This sound is reserved for humans.

Know how old your cat really is. If your cat is 3, your cat is 21 in human years. If your cat is 8, your cat is 40 in human years. If your cat is 14, your cat is 70 in human years.

The average age for an indoor cat is 15 years, while the average age for an outdoor cat is only 3 to 5 years.

The oldest cat on record was Puss, from England, who died in 1939 just one day after her 36th birthday. (We wish we could have them all that long!)

The weirdest cat on record was a female called Mincho who went up a tree in Argentina and didn't come down again until she died six years later. While treed, she managed to have three litters with equally ambitious dads.

A cat's normal body temperature is 101.5 degrees. This is slightly warmer than a humans.

People who own pets live longer, have less stress, and have fewer heart attacks.

Cats love to chew on grass, catnip, parsley or sage. Become a green thumb and plant an indoor garden for your cat! But be careful -- many plants are toxic to your cat!

There are two species of wild cats in African and Europe that still hunt. These two species both resemble the domestic tabbies.

The behaviors shown by most house cats have a parallel in the wild.

A cat will kill it's prey based on movement, but may not necessarily recognize that prey as food. Realizing that prey is food is a learned behavior.

The greatest number of mice killed by one cat? 28,899! Towser, a tortoise-shell tabby in charge of rodent control in Scotland, killed 28,899 mice in her 21 years. This is about four mice per day, every day, for 21 years. Towser died in 1987.

The first cat show was held in 1895 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York.

A falling cat will always right itself in a precise order. First the head will rotate, then the spine will twist and the rear legs will align, then the cat will arch its back to lessen the impact of the landing.

"Sociable" cats will follow you from room to room to monitor your activities throughout the day.

What kind of "mood" is kitty in? Her eyes, whiskers and ears will tell you. Learn to read the signs she gives you.

The most popular names for female cats in the U.S. are Missy, Misty, Muffin, Patches, Fluffy, Tabitha, Tigger, Pumpkin and Samantha.

Give your cat a quality scratching post to deter her from scratching your furniture. Still scratching? Try putting lemon scent or orange scent on the area. Cats hate these smells.

Try hanging an orange or lemon scented air freshener in the inner branches of your Christmas tree, if your cat is a seasonal "climber."

In English, cat is "cat." In French, cat is "Chat." In German, your cat is "katze." The Spanish word for cat is "gato," and the Italian word is "gatto." Japanese prefer "neko" and Arabic countries call a cat a "kitte."

Cats get their sense of security from your voice. Talk to your cats! And be mindful of your tone of voice. Cats know when you're yelling at them (though they may not care).

The more cats are spoken to, the more they will speak to you.

The richest cat in the Guinness Book of World Records is a pair of cats who inherited $415,000 in the early '60s. The richest single cat is a white alley cat who inherited $250,000. (Now that will buy a lot of catnip!)

The Giraffe, Camel and Cat are the only animals that walk by moving both their left feet, then both their right feet, when walking. This method of walking ensures speed, agility and silence.

It is believed that a white cat sitting on your doorstep just before your wedding is a sign of lasting happiness. White cats are a symbol of good luck in America, while black cats are a sign of bad luck.

Cats can see in color!

Cats are partially color blind. They have the equivalency of human red/green color blindness. (Reds appear green and greens appear red; or shades thereof.)

Cats don't see "detail" very well. To them, their person may appear hazy when standing in front of them.

Cats need 1/6th the amount of light that humans do to see. Their night vision is amazing!

Cats can see up to 120 feet away. Their peripheral vision is about 285 degrees.

Cats eyes come in three shapes: round, slanted and almond.

The color of a kitten's eyes will change as it grows older.

At birth, kittens can't see or hear. Cats open their eyes after five days and begin to develop their eyesight and hearing at approximately 2 weeks. They begin to walk at 20 days.

Kittens begin dreaming at just over one week old.

A cat's ear pivots 180 degrees. They have 30 muscles in each ear, and use twelve or more muscles to control their ear movement.

A group of kittens is called a "kindle."

A group of grown cats is called a "clowder."

Cats rub up against other cats, and people, in an attempt to "mark" them with their scent glands. They most often use the scent glands between their eye and ear (near the temple area) or their scent glands near the base of their tail.

Have you ever tried to feed your cat food that was just taken out of the refrigerator? Most cats prefer their food at room temperature, and will boldly REFUSE any food that is too cold or too hot.

Many experts report that cats will purr when feeling any intense emotion (pleasure or pain).

Give your cat fresh water at least once a day. If your cat refuses your tap water, it may be sensing (with it's superior sense of smell) the chlorine or other minerals in your water. Many finicky felines demand bottled water, just like their human counterparts.

Don't put your cat on an all-vegetarian diet. Cats need protein to survive.

Never feed your cat dog food. Cats need five times more protein than dogs do.

If your cat misses one meal, a trip to the vet may be necessary.

Cats are the sleepiest of all mammals. They spend 16 hours of each day sleeping. With that in mind, a seven year old cat has only been awake for two years of its life!

Cats are more active during the evening hours.

Cats spend 30% of their waking hours grooming themselves.

95% of all cat owners admit they talk to their cats.

Backward-pointing spikes on a cat's tongue aid in their grooming.

The average cat weighs 12 pounds.

If you can't feel your cat's ribs, she's too heavy.

If an overweight cat's "sides" stick out further than her whiskers, she will lose her sense of perception and stability. Don't be surprised if she starts to squeeze into an opening that the rest of her can't fit into, only to back herself back out quickly!

According to the Guiness Book of World Records, the heaviest cat on record was Himmy, an Australian cat, who weighed 46 pounds, 15.25 ounces in 1986. Himmy's waist was 33 inches! The previous record-holder had been Spice, a ginger-and-white tom cat from Connecticut, who weighed 43 pounds when he died in 1977.

The tiniest cat on record was Tinker Toy from Illinois. A male Himalayan-Persian, he weighed 1 pound, 8 ounces fully grown and was 7.25" long and 2.75" tall!

Your cat is probably either a "righty" or a "lefty." Only 40% of cats are ambidextrous while another 40% are either right-pawed or left-pawed.

Cats love high places. They share this love with leopards and jaguars, who sleep in trees. If a cat begins to fall, his inner ear canal (which controls balance) will help him right himself and land on his feet.

Domestic cats are essentially loners. When placed in a group, they develop their own hierarchy. As long as there is plenty of food on hand, a cat can learn to share it's domain with other cats.

Cats are more aggressive when they are not neutered or spayed.

21% of U.S. households have at least one cat.

The number of pet-owning households is expected to grow nearly 12% between 1993 and 2000, and another 5% between 2000 and 2010.

34% of cat-owning households have incomes of $60,000 or more.

32% of those who own their own home, also own at least one cat.

"Pair bonds" can develop between two cats who live together, or between a cat and a person.

A cat that bites you after you have rubbed his stomach, is probably biting out of pleasure, not anger.

An adult cat has 32 teeth.

Never leave your cat in a vehicle alone. On summer days, temperatures in an automobile can reach 160 degrees in just minutes, even with the windows cracked.

"PSI trailings" attempt to explain a cat's ability to travel a long distance to return to their home. It is said they use the earth's gravity to determine "their place" in the world, and to develop the ability to return there when necessary.

According to myth, a cat sleeping with all four paws tucked under means cold weather is coming.

Each year Americans spend four billion dollars on cat food. That's one billion dollars more than they spend on baby food!

Expect to spend an average of $80 per year on vet bills, for the lifetime of each cat you own.

It costs $7000 to care for one household cat over its lifetime. This covers only the necessities; the pampered pet will carry a higher price.

In an average year, American cat owners spend $2.15 billion on cat food and $295 million on kitty litter.

There have been three different cats who have played the famed "Morris the Cat." The first Morris was adopted from a shelter in 1968. In 1969 he landed the role of Morris the Cat in the famous 9 Lives Cat Food commercials...and was an overnight success! The first Morris died in 1978 and was subsequently replaced by two more cats who played "Morris." All three of the "Morris the Cat" cats were rescued from shelters.

Choose your cat toys carefully. Choose light toys (for tossing), soft toys (for teeth and claws) and toys large enough that they can't be swallowed.

A flashlight makes a great cat toy! Turn the flashlight on in a dark room, and watch your feline "chase" the beam of light!

Cats love to hide! If yours comes up "missing," be sure to check in the bathtub, in your closet, in the dresser drawers, under a blanket or rug...or anywhere else you can possibly think of!

A collar and tag can help your cat find his way home should he ever be lost. Better yet -- outfit your cat with an electronic identification chip.

To make sure your cat's collar fits properly, make sure you can slip two fingers under the collar, between the collar and your cat's neck.

The easiest way to pick up cat hair? Spray an anti-static spray on the area you want to clean. Wait one minute, then wipe up the hair with a six inch brush.

Egyptians shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning when they lost a beloved cat.

Hebrew folklore believes that cats came about because Noah was afraid that rats might eat all the food on the ark. He prayed to God for help. God responded by making the lion sneeze a giant sneeze -- and out came a little cat!

Stings to the mouth can be very dangerous to cats. If your cat is stung, or ever experiences any type of sting to the mouth, take her to the vet immediately. As her mouth swells from the sting, she may be unable to breath. Stings require urgent medical care.

Redecorating your home? Let your cat explore after the decorating is done. Paints, wallpaper pastes and paint thinners can be toxic to cats. Play it safe!

Pet-proof your house by looking for items that may be dangerous to them. These include cleaners, antifreeze, automobile coolant, and rat poison.

The fumes from moth balls destroy a cat's liver cells. Use cedar in your closet instead.

Know which plants are poisonous to your cats, and which ones are safe.

There are many items in your household with are poisonous to cats! Be careful with the following items:

acetaminophen (Tylenol) fungicides paint
antifreeze furniture polish paint remover
aspirin gasoline permanent-wave lotion
bleach hair coloring photographic developers
boric acid herbicides pine-oil disinfectants
brake fluid insecticides rubbing alcohol
carburetor cleaner kerosene de-icers for melting snow
dandruff shampoo laxatives shoe polish
deodorizers lye snail or bug bait
diet pills matches suntan lotion with cocoa butter
disinfectants metal polish
drain cleaner mineral sprits turpentine
dry-cleaning fluid mothballs windshield-washer fluid
dye nail polish wood preservatives
fire-extinguisher foam nail-polish remover

Source: http://www.catscans.com/facts.htm

Why and how Cats purr

Cats can produce a purring noise that typically indicates that the cat is happy. Less typically it can also can mean that it feels distress. Cats purr among other cats—for example, when a mother meets her kittens.

There were many competing theories to explain how cats purr, including vibration of the cat's false vocal cords when inhaling and exhaling, the sound of blood hitting the aorta, vibration of the hyoid apparatus, or resonation directly in the lungs. But currently, it is believed that purring is a result of rhythmic impulses to the cat's larynx.

Purring may also be a way for the cat to calm itself down. For example, some cats have been known to purr when hurt. Though not proven, research has suggested that the frequency of the vibration produced by purring may promote healing of bones and organs in cats, explaining why cats may purr when hurt.

General Cat Care

What you’ll need to know to keep your companion feline happy and healthy.

Cats were domesticated sometime between 4,000 and 8,000 years ago, in Africa and the Middle East. Small wild cats started hanging out where humans stored their grain. When humans saw cats up close and personal, they began to admire felines for their beauty and grace.

There are many different breeds of cats--from the hairless Sphynx and the fluffy Persian to the silvery spotted Egyptian mau. But the most popular felines of all are non-pedigree—that includes brown tabbies, black-and-orange tortoiseshells, all-black cats with long hair, striped cats with white socks and everything in between.

When you first get your cat, you’ll need to spend about $25 for a litter box, $10 for a collar, and $30 for a carrier. Food runs about $170 a year, plus $50 annually for toys and treats, $175 annually for litter and an average of $150 for veterinary care every year. The best place to get a cat? Your local shelter! Please visit our shelter directory to find shelters and rescue groups in your area.

Note: Make sure you have all your supplies (see our checklist) before you bring your new pet home.

Basic Care

- An adult cat should be fed one large or two or three smaller meals each day.
Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks must eat four times a day.
Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day.

You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes, or keep dry food available at all times. We recommend a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food; avoid generic brands. You will need to provide fresh, clean water at all times, and wash and refill water bowls daily.

Although cat owners of old were told to give their pets a saucer of milk, cats do not easily digest cow’s milk, which can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Treats are yummy for cats, but don't go overboard. Most packaged treats contain lots of sugar and fat, which can pack on the pounds. Some cats like fresh fruits and vegetables, like broccoli, corn or cantaloupe. You can offer these once in awhile.

If your kitten is refusing food or isn’t eating enough, try soaking her kitten food in warm water. If that doesn’t work, kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with her regular food.

Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but you should brush or comb your cat regularly. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat's coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs.

To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck or by the front legs.

Your pet should have her own clean, dry place in your home to sleep and rest. Line your cat's bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. Cats who are allowed outdoors can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, or get into fights with other free-roaming cats and dogs. Also, cats may prey on native wildlife.

If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat must wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. And if your pet is indoors-only, an ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.

Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat's box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day.

Keep in mind that cats won't use a messy, smelly litter box, so scoop solid wastes out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent and refill at least once a week; you can do this less frequently if using clumping litter. Don't use ammonia, deodorants or scents, especially lemon, when cleaning the litter box.

Behavior Information

Cats delight in stalking imaginary prey. The best toys are those that can be made to jump and dance around and look alive. Your cat can safely act out her role as a predator by pouncing on toys instead of people's ankles. Please don't use your hands or fingers as play objects with kittens. This type of rough play may cause biting and scratching behaviors to develop as your kitten matures.

Cats need to scratch! When a cat scratches, the old outer nail sheath is pulled off and the sharp, smooth claws underneath are exposed. Cutting your cat’s nails every two to three weeks will keep them relatively blunt and less likely to harm the arms of both humans and furniture.

Provide your cat with a sturdy scratching post, at least three feet high, which will allow her to stretch completely when scratching. The post should also be stable enough that it won't wobble during use, and should be covered with rough material such as sisal, burlap or tree bark. Many cats also like scratching pads. A sprinkle of catnip once or twice a month will keep your cat interested in her post or pad.

Your cat should see the veterinarian at least once a year for an examination and annual shots, and immediately if she is sick or injured.

Ear Mites
These tiny parasites are a common problem that can be transmitted from cat to cat. If your cat is constantly scratching at his ears or shaking his head, he may be infested with ear mites. You will need to call your vet, as your cat's ears will need to be thoroughly cleaned before medication is dispensed.

Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS)
Both males and females can develop this lower urinary inflammation, also called Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Signs of FUS include frequent trips to the litter box, blood in the urine and crying out or straining when urinating. If your male cat looks "constipated," he may have a urethral obstruction and can’t urinate. This can be fatal if not treated quickly. Urethral blockages are rare in females. About five percent of cats are affected with FUS. Special diets may help prevent this condition.

Fleas and Ticks
Flea infestation should be taken seriously. These tiny parasites feed off of your pet, transmit tapeworms and irritate the skin. Carefully check your cat once a week for fleas and ticks. If there are fleas on your cat, there will be fleas in your house. You may need to use flea bombs or premise-control sprays, and be sure to treat all animals in your house. Take care that any sprays, powders or shampoos you use are safe for cats, and that all products are compatible when used together. Cats die every year from improper treatment with flea and tick control products. Please contact your veterinarian for the most effective flea control program for your pet.

Medicines and Poisons
Never give your cat medication that has not been prescribed by a veterinarian. For example, did you know that acetominophin and aspirin can be FATAL to a cat?! Keep rat poison or other rodenticides away from your cat. If you suspect that your animal has ingested a poisonous substance, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for 24-hour animal poison information at (888) 426- 4435.

Spaying and Neutering
Female cats should be spayed and male cats neutered by six months of age. Neutering a male (removing the testicles) can prevent urine spraying, decrease the urge to escape outside and look for a mate, and reduce fighting between males. Spaying a female (removing the ovaries and uterus) helps prevent breast cancer, which is usually fatal, and pyometra (uterus infection), a very serious problem in older females that must be treated with surgery and intensive medical care. Since cats can breed up to three times per year, it is vital that your female feline be spayed to prevent her from having unwanted litters.

* Kittens should be vaccinated with a combination vaccine (called a “3 in 1”) at 2, 3 and 4 months of age, and then annually. This vaccine protects cats from panleukopenia (also called feline distemper), calicivirus and rhinotracheitis. If you have an unvaccinated cat older than four months of age, he will need a series of two vaccinations given 2 to 3 weeks apart, followed by yearly vaccinations.

* There is a vaccine available for feline leukemia virus (FeLV). This is one of the two immune system viruses (retroviruses) that infect cats. The other is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). There is no vaccine available for FIV. Cats can be infected with either virus for months, even years, without any indication that they are carrying a fatal virus. All cats should be tested for these viruses.

FeLV and FIV can be transmitted at birth from the mother or through the bite of an infected cat. Neither virus can infect humans. Many outdoor and stray cats and kittens carry this infection. Because of the fatal nature of these diseases, you should not expose cats already living in your home by taking in untested cats or kittens. To be safe, keep your cat indoors—but if your cat does go outside, he should be vaccinated against the feline leukemia virus. Remember, no vaccine is 100-percent effective.

Please note, if your companion cat gets sick because he is not properly vaccinated, the vaccinations should be given after your pet has recovered.

Kittens and cats can be infected with several types of worms. The key to treatment is correct diagnosis. This will ensure that the medication is effective against the parasite your pet has. A dewormer that eliminates roundworms, for example, will not kill tapeworms. Your veterinarian can best determine the culprit—and prescribe the appropriate medication.

Cat Supply Checklist
Premium-brand cat food
Food dish
Water bowl
Interactive toys
Safety cat collar with ID tag
Scratching post or scratching pad
Litter box
Cat carrier
- Cat bed or box with warm blanket or towel