Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Tip & Tricks Tuesday - Pets

So I have a new theme for Tuesdays starting today! Each Tuesday I will be sharing a small list of tips with you that make my life a little easier or that I have come across and think would be useful, although I might not yet have implemented them.

This has all started because I was astonished at Christmas the lots of little tips my mother and I exchanged. My Mum is a constant source of knowledge on everything for me (with the exception of computers, as that is apparently what I get paid to work with). I am always phoning her for little ideas and tips. If I don't know how to do something, I give her a call! Similarly, over Christmas, it was interesting that this has started going both ways now and just occasionally I have picked a little tip up that my Mum didn't know.

So now I will start sharing this love of all things nifty and helpful! Some of them are pretty obvious, but hopefully there will be something for everyone. Many items in the future may come from pinterest or other websites, so please click on any links and make sure other sensible tip-giving people get some internet traffic.

Pets and cleaning

This is a hot topic around here, with two cats, and hopefully more on the way after the imminent house move. How do you cope with pet hair? We also had a bit of a smelly cat problem over Christmas as my parents have a 16 year old who just can't clean herself anymore because of arthritis; so I came up with my dry shampoo!

1. Hair removal from fabric and carpets. To easily remove hair from fabric/carpets where otherwise the vacuum is just not getting them up, put on a rubber glove (marigold etc.) and rub over the surface. The hairs will be quickly lifted allow you to pick them up or easily vacuum them away.

2. Cat shampoo. If you have a smelly cat (such as a very old wee darling, who just isn't able to clean themselves anymore, or a little kitten who hasn't quite learnt all the rules), rather than giving them a traumatic bath, try using a dry shampoo. I use a 50:50 mix of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) and talc. The bicarb gets rid of the smell while the talk soaks up the grease and other items that may be causing the problem in the first place. Rub into the fur a little at a time (generally something they love), then use a brush to comb it out.

3. Cat food. Ever have a cat convinced that there is no food left in the bowl because they have eaten the bit in the middle? Rather than giving in and putting more food out, pick the bowl up, shake so it covers the middle of the bowl and put it back down. It works every time!

4. Tablet talk. Have a pet that doesn't like taking tablets? I think this applies to every pet I've ever had (and I had a lot growing up!). Well, responsible cat and dog owners, and possibly the owners of quite a few other pets, should regularly treat for worms, even if they are indoor pets according to my vet, as we carry things in on our shoes.....euh! Anyway, the best thing we have done with our cats, on advice from our vet, is to regularly open their mouths. We have a nightly ritual where we open their mouths and count to five, and then make a big fuss of them afterwards. They are now completely used to having their mouths open and tablets are much much less fuss. There is no wrangling the cat, climbing the curtains, or scratches up and down the arms. Oh and I've never had much luck with the whole mashing it up with the food idea. My kitties are far too suspicious for that!

To start out training your cat (or dog for that matter) to the idea of having their mouth opened, start initially by gently touching the sides of there cheeks everyday. Work up to actually opening the mouth, however briefly, before finally getting to the point where holding the mouth open for a count of 5 is not so bad from their point of view. It takes less time than you think, especially if a treat is received afterwards!

5. Preparing for the vets. On the regular treatment front, another little tip is to regularly play with the pads on your pets feet (be it dog, cat, bunny, ferret... any animal with feet really). The vet will have a good poke around at annual check up time, and in general this is something animals really don't like. Make the trip less stressful by getting them use to it before. We don't do this as often as tip 4, but it probably gets done once a week. It is also a good time to check their paws over for new scratches etc which if they are outdoor pets will inevitably occur.

6. Travelling with cats. Oh this can be a bother! As avid readers of Pass The Caffeine will know, we take our cats on holiday with us. Now this might seem odd, but it has worked out really well. The are so used to travelling now that, coupled with tips 4 and 5, they are so un-fussed about going to the vets that they purr the whole time they are there! It makes for a lot less stress in the house in the run up to vaccinations. It also helped our dear little kitty who needed an emergency operation recover faster as I'm sure she was less stressed than if she wasn't used to being in her carrier.

7. Getting cats accustomed to their cat carriers. The cat carrier comes out and all of a sudden your beloved feline is no where to be seen. Sound familiar? Even if you aren't an avid cat-holidayer, they will inevitably need to go to the vets every now and then, and possibly a cattery. Get them used to the idea of travel a week before by getting the carrier out. You may find that they start sleeping in it anyway. This way it smells of them when they are put in it on the big day and as with tip 6, it all reduces their stress levels. My vet actually recommends leaving the carriers out at all times as part of your cat furniture so they are fully accustomed to the carriers. I haven't gone that far, but have recommended it to my sister as her cats go AWOL as soon as there is a sniff of a carrier.

8. Cleaning up after accidents. However lucky you at some point there will be an accident. It might be illness, old age, kittenhood, puppies, or goodness knows what else. The one common theme is the BAD smell! Getting it out of fabric is a particular night mare of mine. Especially when it happens overnight and you only discover in the morning! NOT nice! Anyway, my failsafe now for pretty much all surfaces is a 50:50 mix of washing-up liquid (I use lemon flavoured which helps) and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda). Mix it up to a paste, apply to the surface, rubbing in thoroughly, but not so much that you damage the fabric or scratch the surface with the soda. Leave to dry then hoover up. I have occasionally needed two applications, but in general this gets rid of the smell every time. There are of course other methods out there, but please be careful what you use, not just because of your furniture, but because a lot of products aren't safe for pets. Always read the label!

9. Stop the scratch. Have cats destroying your furniture? Tape plastic carrier bags against the surface. They hate it! Yes it looks ugly but after a month they will stop being interested and you can remove the bags and have a pretty home once more!

10. Dental health. Many pet owners are now aware of dental hygiene for their pets as well as themselves. As we know there is link between gum disease and heart disease in humans (bacteria enters the blood stream via the mouth which damages the heart), it stands to reason that their may be a link in pets too! If you have kittens start brushing their teeth daily. There are great (fish) tasting enzyme based cat toothpastes, and there probably are for dogs too. We use baby toothbrushes on our cats about once a week. Just remember that a little goes a long way. If you have an older cat, learning to accept a toothbrush isn't easy. There are however some great gels that cats love to lick up which helps to clean their teeth. My parents have had great results with Logic paste which the cats just lap up like it is a treat!

Thanks for stopping by,
Let me know what you think... leave a comment or send an email to passthecaffeine {at} gmail {dot} com


  1. Hello.

    Sorry for my crappy English. I'm Spaniard and my English it's a little more than rusty.

    I'm a veterinarian and I must say these are a great tips!! Specially with cats, they are a challenge in the clinic if they are not used to manipulation and touching.

    1. I'm glad you thought they were useful! I've found many different vets prescribing different helpful tips over the years, so I thought it would be great to write them down! I certainly have happier healthier pets than I did before I started taking these tips.
      Thanks for stopping by!