7 Tips for Introducing a New Kitten to Kids


Bringing a new kitten into your family is bound to be an exciting time, but should you be worried about introducing him to your kids? The answer is No; as long as you follow these essential tips for introducing a new kitten to kids, you’ll have a well-adjusted kitten and children who know how to respect animals.

7 Tips for Introducing a New Kitten to Kids


1. Take it Slowly

Your new kitten is likely to be overwhelmed by his new surroundings; add excitable children to this and it can be a bit too much. Your children are bound to be thrilled with their new playmate, but you should make sure that they understand that they have to take their time in getting to know him. This will obviously be more difficult the younger the children are, but instilling a respect for animals and an understanding of how to treat them when your kids are young is a great start in life.

2. Be Gentle

Being handled at a young age will help ensure your nervous kitten turns into a confident, well-socialised cat, but it has to be gentle. Young kittens are delicate, despite what you might think after seeing him racing around the house at the speed of light.

3. Get Down to His Level

Encourage your children to lie down on the floor to meet your kitten; it’s less threatening for your kitten to have everyone on his level, and he’s more likely to feel comfortable approaching you and your children.

4. Set the Ground Rules

As we all know, children can get noisy when they’re over excited, and what could be more exciting than a cute little kitten? Make sure that they know to speak in soft voices, without squealing, screeching or screaming around him, because the last thing they’ll want to do is scare him!  Other understandable ground rules should be no pulling of tails and no squeezing too hard (no matter how cute he is!).

5. Get the Kids Involved

Depending on their ages, give your children responsibility for different aspects of looking after your kitten, for example feeding time, changing litter and coming on visits to the vet. Apart from making them feel involved, it’ll also teach them about responsible pet parenting.

6. The Right Way to Play

Once kitten and kids have been properly introduced, and your kitten is more comfortable with the whole family, it’s important to teach your children the right way to play with cats. Playing rough is a bad idea, even though a little kitten’s claws won’t make much of an impact now – when he grows up and wants to carry on playing rough, it could end in tears!

7. Keep an Eye on Proceedings

Make sure that any time together is supervised until you’re absolutely certain that your children know exactly how to behave and handle the kitten.

Once your whole family is comfortable with the new kitten, you’re well on your way to having a well-socialised cat, respectful and knowledgeable children, and an all-round happy family!

Source: Pawsome Cats


Parasite makes mice fearless by hijacking immune cells

oct-2016-toxoplasmosis-cat-with-mouseThe Toxoplasma parasite is an unusually devious operator. When it infects mice, it alters their behaviour so they become fearless enough to seek out cats and get eaten. But exactly how it did this was a mystery.

Now it appears that the parasite hijacks its victim’s immune system, causing it to produce a chemical normally found in the brain. The discovery suggests that the brain and immune system might have evolved using similar processes to control their behaviour, including electrical and chemical signals now known mainly in nerves.

Toxoplasma gondii spends part of its life in a cat’s gut, then spreads to mice via cat droppings. It invades their brains and causes them to behave fearlessly towards cats – quickly returning the parasite to a cat’s gut and completing its life cycle.

The parasite can use other animals as a host, and can spread to humans via infected, uncooked meat as well as cat droppings. Acute infection can harm a fetus, so pregnant women are told to avoid cat litter boxes. A quarter of people have a lifelong Toxoplasma infection and may suffer psychological effects, including increased recklessness.

Antonio Barragan of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, has now discovered that the parasite’s mind-bending abilities could be a side effect of the way it hijacks the immune system. Invaders like Toxoplasma normally get engulfed by white blood cells called dendritic cells (DCs), a process that helps other immune cells learn to recognise them.

Cell hijack

Toxoplasma, however, hijacks DCs. It not only lives and multiplies inside them, it makes them “hypermobile”, crawling more actively through tissue and migrating faster around the body than usual. “The DCs are vehicles that transport the parasite around the body,” says Barragan.

Barragan’s team has found that the parasite does this by turning on a set of genes within DCs for producing and secreting a chemical called GABA. This was a surprise as GABA is a neurotransmitter, carrying signals in the brain from one nerve cell to another. The researchers found that DCs, like a few other non-neural cells, carry receptors for GABA.

The GABA that DCs make stimulates their own receptors, causing the voltage across the cell membrane to change, just as it would in a nerve cell membrane. This somehow makes the DCs more mobile and able to spread the parasite: drugs that block GABA stopped the cells becoming hypermobile and this led to fewer parasites in the brain.

The fact that immune cells respond to a neurotransmitter raises the possibility that mechanisms thought to be unique in nerves may also operate in many other types of cell.

Intriguingly, says Barragan, as a neurotransmitter in the brain, GABA reduces fear and anxiety. A brain invaded by parasite-infested DCs churning out GABA may well become inappropriately fearless. Alternatively, the parasite might be able to invade brain cells too and turn on their GABA genes.

“It’s hard to say which came first,” says Barragan, the parasite’s ability to hijack the brain, or the immune system. Either way, it is GABA that gets the parasite where it wants to go: down a cat’s throat.

Journal reference: PLoS Pathogens, doi.org/jxk

Source: New Scientist

Intestinal Parasite (Coccidia) in Cats

Coccidiosis in Cats

Coccidiosis in Cats

Coccidiosis is a parasitic type of infection, caused by the Coccidia parasite. It most commonly causes watery, mucus based diarrhea in animals. If it is not treated, over time it can cause damage to the lining of a cat’s intestinal tract. With appropriate and prompt treatment, the prognosis is good.

Symptoms and Types
The primary symptom of a coccidial infection is watery, mucous-like diarrhea. Bloody diarrhea and an inability to control defecation will become apparent as the infection progresses, and your cat may become weak and feverish, with related vomiting and weight loss. Dehydration is a serious concern, due to the diarrhea and vomiting, and can quickly lead to serious organ complications. The nervous system may also be affected, with tremors and confusion presenting.

Types of Coccidium that infect cats:

  • Isospora felis; Isospora rivolta
  • Sarcocystis
  • Toxoplasma gondii (note that this coccidial infection has zoonotic properties)
  • Hepatozoon – transmitted by ingestion of the ‘brown dog tick’

Being in an environment with other infected animals is the most common cause of this infection. It is typically spread through fecal matter, but some types may also spread through the ingestion of intermediate hosts, such as rats, mice and birds. Still, it is most commonly contracted from a parent cat to her litter due to the proximity of feces and the tendency of kittens to eat unfamilair items and explore. The coccidiosis infection is of particular danger for kittens, since their immune systems are still underdeveloped.

A fecal examination is the most common method of diagnosis for this infection. The coccidium parasite will be readily visible under microscopic examination.

Treatment and Care
Treatment is generally outpatient. A sulfa based medication to kill the parasite will be prescribed, and is generally highly effective and fast working. Your cat will need to be rehydrated as a result of the diarrhea. If your cat is debilitated as a result of severe infection, your veterinarian may suggest observation in a medical setting. A follow up fecal examination within 1-2 weeks of the initial treatment will be needed to ensure that the parasite is no longer present in the body.

Living and Management
You will need to administer the full course of prescribed medication as directed and monitor your cat for progress. If there is a decline in its health, you will need to return to your veterinarian to ensure that there is not a more serious underlying health issue that needs treatment. Keep in mind that hygeine is also an issue. Wearing disposable gloves and disposing of feces properly is critically important.

The best prevention is to keep infected animals apart. Preemptive testing of the feces from your cat while it is pregnant, or after it has given birth, to be sure that it is not infected will help to protect newborns from infection.

New owners may wish to have their kitten’s feces tested to ensure that the coccidia parasite is not present, since this is a common issue. If you have a kitten that is infected, alert the breeder or owner to the problem so that treatment can be prescribed for their remaining animals.

Source: www.petmd.com

10 Tips For Current and Future Puppy Owners

Dog Training tips - image

General Dog Training Tips

1. Choose Wisely When Selecting Your Future Pup

Whether selecting your prospective pup from a professional breeder or from a family breeding a litter for the very first time, the criteria are the same. Look for puppies raised indoors around human companionship and influence—specifically around people who have devoted lots of time to the puppies’ education.


2. Future Problems Result from Early, Non-Corrected Problems

Digging, barking, and escaping are usually secondary problems of unhousetrained adolescent dogs which have been relegated to a life of solitary confinement and boredom in the yard. Housetrain your dog, and then you may leave him indoors. Magically, the digging and escaping problems will disappear.

3. Train Your Dog to Stop Barking by Teaching Him to Bark on Request

One of the best ways to reduce excessive barking is to teach your puppy to speak on cue. Training your pup to bark on request facilitates teaching him to shush on request, since you may now shush-train the pup at your convenience. Instead of trying to quieten your puppy when he is excitedly barking, you may request your pup to bark and so teach shush at times when the pup is calm and focused.

4. The Clock to Train Your Puppy Starts from Day 1

As soon as your puppy comes home, the clock is running. Within just three months, your puppy will need to meet six crucial developmental deadlines. If your puppy fails to meet any of these deadlines, he is unlikely to achieve his full potential. In terms of your dog’s behavior and temperament, you will probably be playing catch-up for the rest of your dog’s life. Most important of all, you simply cannot afford to neglect the socialization and bite inhibition deadlines.

Dog Training Development Tips

There are six crucial developmental deadlines that you have to keep in mind

1. Your Doggy Education (before searching)

Before you look for your perfect puppy, you need to know what sort of dog to look for, where to get it, and when to get it. An educated choice is generally far better than an impulsive puppy purchase. Additionally, you need to thoroughly familiarize yourself with the developmental deadlines; they become urgent and crucial the day you select your puppy.

2. Evaluating Puppy’s Progress (before selection)

Before you select your puppy (usually at eight weeks of age), you need to know how to select a good breeder and how to select a good puppy. Specifically, you need to know how to assess your puppy’s behavioral development. By eight weeks of age, your puppy must have become thoroughly accustomed to a home physical environment, especially to all sorts of potentially scary noises; your puppy should already have been handled by many people, especially men, children, and strangers; your puppy’s errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training should be underway; and your puppy should already have a rudimentary understanding of basic manners.

3. Errorless Housetraining (before homecoming)

You need to ensure that an errorless housetraining and chewtoy-training program is instituted the very first day your puppy comes home. This is so important during the first week, when puppies characteristically learn good or bad habits that set the precedent for weeks, months, and sometimes years to come.

4. Socialization with People (by 12 weeks of age)

The Critical Period of Socialization ends by three months of age! This is the crucial developmental stage during which puppies learn to accept and enjoy the company of other dogs and people. Thus your puppy needs to be socialized to people by the time he is twelve weeks old. As a rule of thumb, your puppy needs to have met at least a hundred different people before he is eight weeks old and then meet an additional hundred people during his first month at home.

5. Bite Inhibition (by 18 weeks of age)

Bite inhibition is the single most important lesson a dog must learn. Adult dogs have teeth and jaws that can hurt and harm. All animals must learn to inhibit use of their weapons against their own kind, but domestic animals must learn to be gentle with all animals, especially people. Domestic dogs must learn to inhibit their biting toward all animals, especially toward other dogs and people. The narrow time window for developing a “soft mouth” begins to close at four-and-a-half months of age, about the time when the adult canine teeth first show.

6. Preventing Adolescent Problems (by five months)

To ensure that your well-rounded and well-schooled puppy remains a mannerly, well-socialized, and friendly dog throughout adulthood, your dog needs to meet unfamiliar people and unfamiliar dogs on a regular basis. In other words, your dog needs to be walked at least once a day. Your puppy may be taken for rides in the car and to visit friends’ houses as early as you like. Start walking your puppy as soon as your veterinarian says it’s safe to do so. If you already have a puppy and feel that you are behind, do not throw in the towel. You must acknowledge, however, that you are well behind and that your puppy’s socialization and education are now a dire emergency. Immediately do your best to catch up. Call a pet dog trainer at once. To locate a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT) in your area contact the Association of Pet Dog Trainers at 1-800-PETDOGS or www.apdt.com. Take this online video course for a more in-depth look at how to properly train a puppy. https://www.udemy.com/complete-dunbar-collection/

Dr. Ian Dunbar

Source: www.dogstardaily.com