Types of Cat Litter & How to Choose the Right One

Published by Christine O’Brien

Types of Cat Litter & How to Choose the Right One

With so many types of cat litter on the market today, choosing the right one can be a confusing task. How do you know what is the best cat litter for your feline friend?

The best cat litter is the one that your cat likes and will use. However, it’s also important to choose a cat litter that works well for you, too, because you’re the cat clean-up crew. Finding the perfect cat litter involves answering questions such as, how do I know what my cat likes? Do I want clumping or non-clumping? Scented or unscented? Should I talk to my veterinarian before switching to a different cat litter? Use this guide to answer these questions and help you select a cat litter that works best for you and your cat.

Considerations to Keep in Mind

If you’re bringing home a new cat or thinking about trying a new type of litter for your current feline family member, speak with your vet beforehand to get their recommendations. Then, think about litter characteristics such as texture, absorbency and ease of use.

Texture is particularly important, noted the ASPCA, because cats are sensitive to what litter feels like on their paws. If they don’t like the feel of what’s in their litter box, they may find a different place to use as a cat bathroom (plants, carpet and sometimes even your bed).

Types of Cat Litter

The types of cat litter available on the market vary in terms of consistency, clumping ability and scent.

Consistency Choices

Clay

There are two types of cat litter made from clay: non-clumping and clumping. Clay-based non-clumping cat litter was introduced to the market in 1947, and in the 1980s, clumping cat litter was discovered. Prior to that, cat parents relied on sand (which is why cats can’t resist an uncovered children’s sandbox). Most cats prefer fine-textured clay litter over other types, said Dr. Pam Perry, a feline behaviour specialist at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. Clay granules are similar to the soft soil or sand that cats use in the wild. Both non-clumping and clumping litter can produce dust, but some clay cat litters are specifically formulated to produce less dust.

Types of Cat Litter & How to Choose the Right One

Crystal

Made of clear silica gel (just like the little packets of gel that come in a box of new shoes), crystal cat litter is more expensive than other types of cat litter. But it’s absorbent, produces less dust than other materials and actively cleans the litter box, which is good news for cats and humans, noted VetInfo. Your cat may not like the feel of the rough crystals, but smoother pearl-like options are available. Like non-clumping clay litter, crystal litter can become saturated and urine will pool in the box. And as with clumping litter, you shouldn’t use crystal litter until your cat is beyond the “eating faeces” stage of life. Silica gel can be toxic when ingested by your cat, dog or other pet that may like to play in the cat box.

Other Natural Materials

Many natural alternatives to traditional clay litter are available, including paper, pine, wheat, nutshells and corn. International Cat Care pointed out that “many of these are lightweight, biodegradable and have excellent odour-neutralising properties,” making them desirable options. For those humans and cats with environmental allergies and asthma, many natural types of cat litter, such as walnut, come in pellet form, and some natural cat litters, like those made with corn kernels, are clumping, reducing the amount of dust in the air and litter strewn about the house. However, if you or your cat have food allergies or intolerance, read the ingredient labels carefully to ensure the litter is safe to use in your home.

Clumping vs. Non-Clumping Choices

To clump or not to clump? Inquiring cat parents want to know.

Non-Clumping

Non-clumping litter is popular because it’s affordable — you can get a giant bag for not much money — and it’s great at absorbing urine and odors. With non-clumping clay litter, your cat is less likely to scatter litter around the house because its larger granules don’t cling to their paws the way other types of cat litter do. One drawback of non-clumping litter is that it requires switching out the litter completely at least once a week; otherwise, the litter becomes too saturated and urine will puddle at the bottom of the box.

Clumping

Although more expensive than the non-clumping version, clumping clay litter is a popular choice for pet parents because it’s easy to use: The litter absorbs the urine into clumps that you can easily scoop up and toss, and then you’re done. Because urine doesn’t pool in the litter box with clumping litter, cleaning out the box and replacing it with entirely new litter is more of a once-a-month chore rather than once a week.

However, if you’re choosing cat litter for a kitten, clumping cat litter should be avoided because of the risk of ingestion. Curious kittens often eat their faeces (an unsavory truth), play in the litter box and lick litter off their paws. Clumping litter absorbs and expands when it comes into contact with liquids, and if a kitten ingests the litter, it can create an intestinal blockage. It’s best to take a “better safe than sorry” approach, recommended by Cat Health, and avoid using clumping cat litter until your fur baby’s kittenish antics decrease.

Types of Cat Litter & How to Choose the Right One

It’s a good rule of thumb to avoid clumping cat litter with cats of any age that ingest faeces. If your cat eats their faeces and/or litter, call your vet right away to determine the cause.

Scented vs. Unscented Choices

You may prefer the smell of freshly cut lavender in the litter box, but it can irritate your cat’s highly developed sense of smell. Cats have about 200 million scent sensors while humans only have about 5 million, noted PAWS Chicago, making cats much more sensitive to fragrances. Cat litters that contain baking soda or carbon don’t seem to bother cats too much. But rather than relying on scented products, eliminate odours by scooping out the litter box at least once a day (more often, if you have multiple cats) and about once a week, change out the litter and clean the box with water and baking soda or unscented dish soap. Don’t clean the litter box with chemical cleaners or disinfectants, as many of these are toxic to cats. Place a thin layer of baking soda on the base of the box, then add clean litter on top of it to help absorb odour.

A good way to try out a few litters at a time is to set up multiple trays, each with a different kind of litter, to see what is the best cat litter for your furry friend (and what works well for you, too). Because many cats are sensitive to the smell and the texture of a new litter, pay close attention to your cat’s litter box behaviour while they’re trying out the new litter. If they go outside the box, try another type of cat litter. If the behaviour continues, speak with your vet to discuss your cat’s urinary health.

Source: Hills

 

 

Your pets final walk – Euthanasia

Animals 101 – Your pets final walk  – Euthanasia

Image by Travis Patenaude

It’s inevitable that pets die before most of their owners and saying good-bye is something every pet lover faces eventually. It’s distressing to see any animal in pain — whether it’s our animal or not. We have the opportunity to put an end to their suffering. It’s a gift we can give when there’s no other alternative.

Animal euthanasia stems from a Greek word that means “good death” and is the act of putting an animal to death, humanely. Reasons for euthanasia include incurable (and especially painful) conditions or diseases, extreme trauma, old age and more.

Although modern veterinary medicine can extend a pet’s life, this isn’t always what’s best for them. Cynthia Steele (a Vet in Marin), says. “To me, it’s important to differentiate between living and existing. A dog or cat that’s unable to enjoy the things they used to, even if it’s simply the enjoyment of eating, is not truly living. The decision to euthanise is often done in a grey area, but if we wait until it’s black and white, we’re often sorry we waited too long.”

Animals 101 – Your pets final walk  – Euthanasia

Image from Dr Karen Becker

HOW TO PREPARE IN ADVANCE

When You Should Put Your Pet To Sleep

When your pet’s health is declining, before you make the decision to euthanise, you can determine your pet’s quality of life using the HHHHHMM scale. Those letters stand for hurt, hunger, hydration, hygiene, happiness, mobility, and more – good days than bad. Each factor is scored on a scale of 0 to 10. This should be done separately by you and the veterinarian because it can be very easy to rate your pet higher on some points than a medical professional would.

Prepare Yourself

  • Discuss the decision with your vet to euthanise and be sure to ask any questions you have, even if they seem trivial.
  • If at all possible, pay up front — the staff at the clinic are only human, and they don’t want to hand you a bill right after your pet has been put to sleep any more than you want to deal with paying it.
  • It’s a good idea to arrange for someone to drive you to the vet clinic.

The Procedure

  • There are various steps in the process of euthanasia. Nowadays almost all cats/dogs are euthanised by injection and it is almost always a peaceful process designed for minimal pain or distress.
  • It isn’t absolutely necessary that you stay for the procedure and a vet will never require it. Veterinarians do everything possible to ensure that animals are not so scared, but they are “strangers”, in a place most animals don’t exactly love.

On a question as to what was the most difficult part of his job, a vet answered without hesitation, that for him it is the fact that 90 % of owners don’t want to be in a room with a dying animal. People leave so that they don’t see their pet leave, but they don’t realize that it’s in these last moments of life that their pet needs them most.

There are valid arguments for and against being present, although the most commonly reported negative of not being there, is a sense of regret for having abandoned the pet in their final moments.

What To Do With the Pet’s Remains

  • The options are the same as with humans — burial or cremation, but organ donation for research or transplantation is also becoming more common.
  • Some people request euthanasia at their home, so that the pet can be in a familiar place.
  • When you do schedule the procedure, ask your vet if you can make it the last appointment of the day, as neither one of you will feel like going back to work afterwards.

What To Do After They Are Put to Sleep

Don’t immediately run out and get another pet. You won’t be in the right emotional state and will be bringing the new pet into a place with weak, negative energy and which still smells strongly of another pet.

Give yourself the time and tools to go through the grieving process.  If you don’t have other pets, but think that you will adopt again eventually, donate your pet’s bedding, toys, bowls, leash, and so on to a shelter. This will help with the grieving process by not being constantly reminded, as well as allow you to start fresh if and when you adopt another pet. Many people do keep their pet’s collar and tags or a favourite toy.

Once you’re done with the grieving and back in a positive place, the best tribute you can pay to a pet that has passed is to give another pet a second chance by adopting from a reputable organisation. 

Remember

  • Your grief is valid.
  • Your grief is individual.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out for support.
  • Ensure all your family members are supported.
  • A physical memorial can provide comfort.
  • Other people, especially those without pets, don’t realize that the experience can be just as traumatic as losing a parent or child.

Read more to understand this emotional experience and difficult decision for rescuer organisations or rescue veterinarians, when rescue animals take their final walk.

Never let the animal suffer because you do not have the funds to euthanise them. This is considered cruelty which is a crime. Contact your local SPCA or rescue organisation and discuss your situation with them.  They might be able to help.

Our thoughts are with those that have to make this decision in the near future. Read this beautiful poem The Last Battle, by an unknown author.

Source: Animal 101

 

Celebrate your fur babies this month of love with Love Your Pet Day

Celebrate your fur babies this month of love with Love Your Pet Day

It’s the month of love and what better way to show your love than to celebrate your fur baby. Marycke Ackhurst, pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition says that 20th February is Love Your Pet Day and even though Hill’s Pet Nutrition celebrates pets every day, it is wonderful to have a day dedicated to our special family members and to be “given permission” to spoil them a little extra. 

Ackhurst says that there are lots of ways to shower our pets with love and affection.  “Many of us do this with a treat and, while the odd treat may not be detrimental to your pet’s health, over time food treats can become an unhealthy habit.” She provides the following options for showing your dog or cat some extra love and hopefully putting in place some healthy habits for the entire year:

Quality time – spending quality time together can never be overestimated. So, why not curl up on the couch together and watch some of those tear-jerking animal movies and shows together? – A Dog For Life on Netflix, Marley and Me, A Dog’s Purpose, and Secret Life of Pets are just some suggestions.   

Retail therapy – there is no doubt that retail therapy makes us feel good. So, what about a new leash or collar? A trendy bandanna? A shiny new ball? A new toy mouse or some catnip? 

Look good, feel good – There is nothing like having your hair done to put a snap in your step, and your pet feels the same. Treat them to a day of grooming at the parlour; there they’ll bath him, dry him, brush him, and trim his nails. While most cats won’t take as kindly to a spa day, a nice, relaxing brush at home will not go unappreciated. 

Walks and runs in the park – One of the best ways to spend time with your dog is playing and exercising together.  Commit to going for a regular walk or playing catch.  Cats love playing games too; any feathery toys, scratch posts, or catnip, will bring out the kitten in them and expend any pent-up energy. 

Choosing the right food – make mealtime a treat by choosing the right food for your pet, whether your dog is suffering from mobility issues or your cat’s urinary problems. Hill’s Pet Nutrition is scientifically formulated to help address these and many other issues your pet may have while improving their quality of life.

Get social – There is no doubt as to why Petfluencers’ are popular across social media.  Join in and post pictures of you and your pet this month of love – guaranteed to make you and your followers feel happy.  

Volunteer at your local shelter – You don’t have to have a pet to love pets. Why not celebrate the month of love by visiting a nearby animal shelter? Spend time with the dogs and cats looking for their forever home. It will make you, and them, feel good.

For more information visit the Hill’s website

Source: Hills

SA pet care company invited to represent at Expo2020 in Dubai

SA pet care company invited to represent at Expo2020 in Dubai

Montego Pet Nutrition, South Africa’s largest privately owned pet care manufacturer, has been invited by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to represent the South African Private Sector at Expo 2020 in Dubai.

Expo2020 in Dubai is a World Expo that seeks to inspire new business by showcasing the best innovations from countries all around the world. It is one of the biggest and longest-running global events with over 190 nations now participating.

This expo is an opportunity for businesses to rebuild the industries which took a knock during the pandemic, as well as further leveraging opportunities for growth and collaboration at an event where exhibitors from every corner of the globe will come together to showcase what they can offer.

“We are proud of the pioneering work that we’ve been doing in the industry from a local and global perspective, and we are honoured to present our innovative brands and product offering on this prestigious stage”, says Johan van Jaarsveld, Managing Director of Montego Pet Nutrition.

Montego will be stationed at the South African Pavilion from 14 – 18 February 2022.  Karlien Delport Botha, Montego’s International Marketing Specialist and Sakkie Luther, International Business Developer for Montego will be present to interact with exhibitors, represent the South African private sector, and share Montego’s product offering.

SA pet care company invited to represent at Expo2020 in Dubai

Source: Montego

TEARS Animal Rescue – Donating to support vulnerable pets can reduce your tax bill

 TEARS Animal Rescue - Donating to support vulnerable pets can reduce your tax bill

Bernie

Since the start of 2022 TEARS Animal Rescue has recorded an increase in the number of animals that need rescue and emergency veterinary treatment.  The Charity is appealing to individuals and especially corporate donors to consider making a tax-free donation to the TEARS Veterinary Outreach and Mobile Clinic Fund before the end of the financial year, entitling donors to enjoy a reduction on their income tax bill.

Says TEARS Head of Fundraising, Lara Van Rensburg. “ Most people think of TEARS as a Kennel and Cattery but by far the most critical service of TEARS, and the beating heart of its’ outreach and animal welfare operation, are the TEARS Mobile Clinic and TEARS Veterinary Hospital which together are responsible for the rescue and treatment of up to 100 animals every month. We spend just over R6,18M on veterinary treatment and community outreach per annum. Without the financial support we receive from individuals, Trusts and Foundations, corporates, and via Bequests, TEARS would not have survived the lean times or the impact of COVID-19 on its ability to fundraise or generate income to support the hardest hit and the most vulnerable in impoverished communities. As a recognised Level 1 B-BBEE contributor and Public Beneficiary Organisation all donations to TEARS are tax deductible, with donors receiving a Section 18A tax receipt, allowing them to claim the applicable tax relief.”

The TEARS Veterinary Clinic operates with three veterinarians and support staff including Animal Welfare Assistants and orderlies, and sees an average of 50-60 patients per day, which include sterilisations, scheduled and emergency surgeries and a variety of assessments and tests that range from blood work, X-rays and ultra-sounds. The number of cases the TEARS Mobile Clinic and Hospital is processing on a weekly and monthly basis has escalated significantly since the onset of Lockdown, as a direct consequence of the rising unemployment levels and resulting deprivation and hardship that is being experienced by people and pets.

 TEARS Animal Rescue - Donating to support vulnerable pets can reduce your tax bill

Tracker with his rescuer recovering well

‘Bernie Mack’, as he’s affectionately known, is a 5-year old Terrier-Cross who came to TEARS earlier this month after a child allegedly threw boiling water over the dog. By the time the TEARS Mobile Clinic was called out to attend to him, it was five days after the incident had taken place and Bernie had sustained second degree burns over half of his body. Thanks to the TEARS Veterinary team, he received emergency wound and burn treatment together with pain relief medication before going into a high-care environment where he is rehabilitating well and being exposed to lots of TLC from the TEARS Kennel team.

Homeless 7-year old German Shepard Cross, ‘Tracker’ was rescued by TEARS with limited odds of surviving. After being run over by a train on 14 January, which amputated his left hind leg, tail and both testes, most people would have judged his chances of recovering as something akin to a miracle. Thanks to his rescuers and TEARS and Noordhoek Veterinarian Dr Tracy Dicks, who consults to TEARS, Tracker’s will to live paid off and he’s recovering well in a loving home-environment with TEARS Kennel Manager, Luke Kruyt, until he can be fully rehabilitated and adopted into a forever home.

Says TEARS Operations Manager, Mandy Store, “TEARS is symbolic of second chance stories like Bernie’s and Tracker’s. The TEARS Veterinary Hospital treats a variety of lethal and non-lethal animal-borne diseases including skin diseases, erhlichiasis, distemper, canine parvovirus, feline herpes virus, as well as bite and stab wounds, burns, and blunt force trauma that many pets sustain as a result of motor vehicle accidents (hit and runs) or being beaten or trodden on! It costs TEARS approximately R 515,000 per month to operate our Hospital and Mobile Clinic and provide the welfare and rescue services we do across the Southern Cape Peninsula.”

For the 2020/21 period, TEARS rescued 727 pets; vaccinated 3 314 animals; sterilised 6 091 animals, plus another 3 314 feral and community cats, which were sterilised, treated and released; and treated 6 720 injured and sick animals at the TEARS Veterinary Hospital, which included 3 432 vet  consultations. 

TEARS Animal Rescue - Donating to support vulnerable pets can reduce your tax bill

TEARS Veterinary Clinic

Please donate to the TEARS Veterinary Outreach and Mobile Clinic Fund today or visit www.tears.org.za/basic-animal-health-care/ for more information.

An investment in TEARS will ensures that its’ rescue, treatment, rehabilitation and rehoming teams can continue to operate, and give more animals like Bernie and Tracker the “second chances” they deserve.

Source: TEARS

#BeMyValentine – Homeless pets offering love

#BeMyValentine – Homeless pets offering love

Photos: Angel, Poppy, Speedy

If you’re feeling out of love this Valentine’s month, head over to Mdzananda’s website, Facebook page or Instagram feed to meet their tail wagging bachelors and sassy bachelorettes which you can sponsor.

There are a variety of sponsoring options including:

R50 – Get rid of those nasty fleas and ticks – we want cuddles instead
R100 – Have your Valentine vaccinated to keep them healthy and strong
R200 – Spoil your Love with delicious food for two weeks
R450 – Give your valentine great meals for a whole month
R500 – Spay or neuter your Valentine – love is enough, no babies needed

Donations made to your chosen Valentine dog will help the organisation to care for them until they are able to find permanent homes.

“The dogs up for adoption have been at our clinic’s shelter facility for weeks or months. Some have gone through a lot in their lives and need extra love,” says du Plessis. “Clyde, for example, is a Pit Bull who was handed over with his sibling six months ago. His sibling has gone to a foster home but no one has shown interest in adopting him. It is quite heartbreaking. He is so desperate for love that he jumps and climbs all over you when you visit him, trying to lap up any attention. He’s waiting for a home that can love him forever and where he can be an only dog and have a big garden to play in.”

#BeMyValentine – Homeless pets offering love

If you would like to sponsor a pet for Valentine’s Day visit www.mdzananda.co.za to see all the pets needing sponsorship, contact marcelle@mdzananda.co.za or make a donation to Mdzananda Animal Clinic, Standard Bank, Account number: 075595710, Branch: Rondebosch, Branch Code: 025009, Reference: Pet’sName +YourName. All pets are also up for adoption.

If you have a human Valentine of your own, you can also sponsor a pet in their name, and we will send them a special e-card letting them know. Send your name, valentine’s name and email address, the pet you have sponsored and donation proof to marcelle@mdzananda.co.za.

About Mdzananda Animal Clinic (www.mdzananda.co.za)

The Mdzananda Animal Clinic is a permanent, veterinary council registered, NPO animal clinic in Khayelitsha, a township just outside of Cape Town, South Africa, home to 400 000 people (2011 census) and their pets. The clinic serves an average of 1000 animals per month through consultations, hospitalisation, general and orthopaedic surgeries, continuous sterilisations, mobile clinics, an animal ambulance and a homeless pet shelter. Mdzananda has a strong focus on community empowerment and education to ensure responsible pet ownership into the future.

Source: Mdzananda Animal Clinic

Animals 101 – Found a Bat?

Animals 101 - Found a Bat?

Image from Craig View Veterinary Clinic (Facebook)

Many people come across young, injured or grounded bats and wonder what to do with them. Care and caution should be exercised and such cases should be referred to the nearest bat interest group, rehabilitation centre or the SPCA.

Urban development causes fewer suitable roost sites for bats, such as caves, dead trees and natural cavities, thus forcing bats to seek alternative roosting sites making roofs and ceilings the next optimal site for many bat species. They are quiet animals, so you won’t even know they are there.

A bat found indoors is most likely to be a crevice-dwelling species. These bats are often lost youngster or babies that cannot fly since we are in bat breeding season which runs from October up until late February.

SOME BAT FACTS

  • Bats are clean animals and South African bats are odourless and appear to not carry rabies as we know it.
  • Bats are the only true flying mammal, with over 1,400 species in the world and more are still being discovered. 
  • Bats usually only have one baby a year and can live for up to 30 years.
  • Bats play a crucial role in our ecosystem.
  • Some plants depend partly or wholly on bats to pollinate their flowers or spread their seeds.
  • Insectivorous bats provide natural pest control.  A tiny pipistrelle can eat up to 3,000 insects in a night.
  • Other species play a vital role in pollinating agricultural crops and indigenous vegetation, being of great value to the agricultural sector – thanks to bats we get bay adapted plants – which include dates, vanilla, bananas, breadfruit, guavas, Iroko timber, balsa wood, sisal, Tequila and chewing gum!
  • Some bats are ‘indicator species’, because changes to these bat populations can indicate changes in aspects of biodiversity. Bats might suffer when there are problems with insect populations.
  • You can’t relocate bats, you might be able to exclude (“lock out”) them from the house, but it isn’t advised as you can never be certain that all the babies are out too! Thus, trapping them inside and their parents out which leads to starvation. 

WHEN YOU FIND A BABY BAT (PUP)

The young babies do not have fur yet and have a “rubber” appearance. They are called pinky’s. For the first few weeks, the pups can’t fly yet and still drink from their mom.

  1. Collect them in a soft cloth and try not to touch them with your hands.
  2. Secure them in a box or ice-cream tub (with air holes) which can seal properly as they are escape artists.
  3. Any bat found, should be kept warm because they might be in shock. Pups can’t regulate their body temperature yet (no fur) and therefore won’t necessarily move away from the heat and can burn themselves.  Warm tap water in a bottle, covered with a towel/cloth is best.
  4. Call a rehabilitator as you might not be equipped to feed them, release them or see whether they are injured. Rehabilitators will ask for photos and videos.

We do not recommend placing bat pups back into roosts (controversy):

  • The mother bat may be dead.
  • Several species of bat may roost in the same roof, placing the pup in the wrong roost can get it killed.
  • The mother bat may have twins or triplets and has chosen to abandon one as resources may not enable her to raise all the babies.

REUNITE WITH MOM

Mom is what is best for them, so reuniting them, with the guidance of a rehabilitator, is ideal! Do this as close as possible to where you found them.  Some use ladders with the open container (secured to the ladder) on top, with a cloth and warm water bottle in the bottom and then the pup under another cloth, without the lid. Mom needs to be able to land on a firm surface that is rough enough like a towel thrown over a wall, balcony railing or ladder. 

You can try it for one or maybe two consecutive nights and for an hour or two at dusk, depending on the weather. If it didn’t happen the first night, chances are low for the second night. The pup needs to be warm or it won’t call for its mom.

Please watch the pup collection site, so that predators (like cats or owls) don’t come and collect the pup.

Bats can’t take off from the ground, they need to “drop” from a height (around 1.5m). As they’re falling, they get the wind under their wings to fly.

Animals 101 - Found a Bat?

Screenshot from a video on setting up a ladder to reunite mom & pup.

A BAT IN YOUR HOME (NSPCA)

  • Close any doors you can to contain the bat in a single room or space.
  • Open all the doors and windows as wide as you can in that area.
  • Turn any outside lights on.
  • Turn off the lights in the room.
  • Stay in the room, sit down, relax, and watch the bat. If you don’t, you will not know if it actually left or has landed and is resting somewhere.
  • Do not try to guide the bat with a broom, tennis racket etc. It does not want to get in your hair!
  • The bat, if allowed to, will navigate its way out using the light outside and the draft created by the open window or door.
  • This may take 20 minutes.

GROUNDED BATS

Adult bats should also be handled with care (no bare hands) and kept warm.  If the bat has landed somewhere and is in good health, it may be captured and released outside after sunset as close as possible to where they were found. Approach your visitor very slowly and quietly. Gently place a can or box over the bat, slide cardboard underneath and release your visitor outside at dusk, placing it on a high surface where it will be able to take off.

If bitten by your cat or dog there is a danger of infection and death, even if they flew off.  You can add a bell to your cat’s collar or keep them inside around sunset hours to prevent this. Call a rehabilitator or wildlife vet to treat the injured bat.

DON’T FEED THEM (without a rehabilitator’s guidance)

It is our natural instinct to want to feed them and with good intent, however in general, we don’t advise giving food or water until you spoke to a rehabilitator. 

Although small, bats have a large body surface due to their wingspan and can easily dehydrate. When they are dehydrated, they can’t digest food properly. They have tiny mouths and can easily choke or aspirate, especially when in shock.  If you are inexperienced with liquid therapy and feeding, you can potentially kill them.

Depending on the size, the rehabilitator will guide you on what kind of food. This can range from kitty milk(for tiny pups) with a syringe, mealworms, bananas etc. If you have to give water to a bat who can drink themselves already, a shallow jam jar lid can work.

Animals 101 - Found a Bat?

Image from Johannesburg Wildlife Vet (Facebook)

REMEMBER

  • Never disturb a roost.
  • It’s illegal to harm them.
  • Don’t poison or kill them – they might be the last of their specie!
  • Never wake bats found during hibernations as waking requires a huge amount of energy which may be more than the bat can afford to survive.
  • Don’t fear them.

Call these bat-specific rehabilitators:

Vicky 073 174 9775 / SAWRC 073 112 1131

Sharron from BatMadGP 082 553 5258   

Please help us change the way people see bats and try to live with them as they are sentient beings and important to the ecosystem.

Source: The Bulletin

Animals 101 – child-friendly pets will be found in pet-friendly homes

Animals 101 - child-friendly pets will be found in pet-friendly homes

Image shared by Belinda Thomas (Dog trainer & mom)

ANIMALS 101 – LEARNING TO SPOT THE SIGNS AND TEACHING SAFETY IS IMPORTANT WHEN IT COMES TO INTERACTIONS BETWEEN DOGS & CHILDREN.

Research shows that pets can contribute to a child’s development physically by strengthening their immune system, emotionally by creating an irreplaceable relationship and teaching responsibility by including them in pet care activities. It is however crucial to educate children and parents about dog behavior and to teach kids how to interact with dogs safely for both the animal and the child’s sake.

One of the top reasons why animals are surrendered to shelters is behavior.  This includes “aggression” because they bit someone. Some people even kill those animals.  There is no such thing as a ‘child safe breed’.  Every dog has the capacity to bite, some can just do more damage. When children get bitten by a dog, this doesn’t necessarily mean a dog is ‘aggressive’.

Dog body language can be quite intricate and it is easy for parents and kids to miss the subtle warning signals. We often hear the phrase “there was absolutely no warning, the dog just bit out of the blue.” The truth is that there were plenty of warnings, but they were either missed or ignored and the child pushed the dog to their breaking point.

Some statistics show that almost 50% of children will be bitten by a dog before their 12th birthday and more than half of those will be under the age of 5 years. Bites usually occur on the face or neck and are most often inflicted by the family or family friend’s dog, in their own home, with parents present, because parents are less likely to intervene when they know the dog.

Dog bites to children are not accidents, they are preventable!

Contrary to popular belief, dogs don’t have an innate desire to protect or care for children and can find the body language and eye contact of young children unnerving. Dogs generally don’t like their space being invaded, arms around their neck or having children lean or sit on them. At best they will tolerate it…..for a while.

Not one of the photos in this poster below is cute.  Missing from this group of pictures is a picture of a dog covered in marker pen drawings. Pictures like this make my blood run cold.  

There are certain behaviors, called calming signals, that dogs show when they are stressed. These serve two purposes; firstly, they are an attempt on the dog’s part at self-soothing, and secondly, they are a message to others that the dog is not comfortable and would like the situation to defuse. If parents are aware of these SIGNALS, they can step in when they see their dog showing any of these behaviors:

  • Lip licking (contexts is important)
  • Tongue flicks
  • Stress yawns
  • Eye blinks
  • Ears back/flat
  • Whale eye (seeing the whites of the eyes)
  • Closed/tense mouth
  • Averting gaze / turning the head away
  • Shifting weight
  • Lifting paws
  • Freezing – WATCH OUT! Freezing is one step past a calming signal. It’s very often a last-ditch attempt to tell you to back off. Dogs will typically freeze right before they snap.

Watch this video by Dog Sense Training and Behavior and see if you can pick up on the cues mentioned.

Animals 101 - child-friendly pets will be found in pet-friendly homes

Animals 101 - child-friendly pets will be found in pet-friendly homes

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE!

TEACH YOUR KIDS

  • Provide feedback to children by pointing out signs that the animal is uncomfortable or scared. This helps develop a child’s understanding of body language and maintains safety.
  • Be an example for your kids of compassion, kindness, respect and responsibility towards animals.
  • Encourage your child to be gentle when touching pets – never allow children to pull tails, ears or roughhouse with any animal.
  • Pets don’t like to be hugged, so never encourage hugs.
  • Chairs are for sitting on, not dogs.
  • Don’t disturb pets when they are sleeping.
  • Dogs are not canvas or paper, so don’t draw/paint the dog.
  • Don’t take bones, food or toys from animals.
  • Don’t chase them nor tease them.
  • They hear sound much louder than humans so do not scream around them.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

  • Safety needs to be the primary goal when mixing children and animals.
  • When introducing a new born baby to a pet, first start by letting the pet sniff your baby’s blankets and clothes. Later allow the pet to sniff your baby’s foot or hand while you hold the baby securely. Never offer a head to be sniffed.
  • Never leave a baby or young child alone with an animal, for any reason. Any dog can bite; any cat can scratch.
  • Closely supervise child-animal interactions.
  • Never allow a child to approach or run towards an unknown animal, especially alone.
  • NEVER PUNISH A GROWL as it is a dogs warning system and a way of communicating that they feel uncomfortable. If you punish a growl they will learn to go straight to snap/bite without warning.
  • No-touch, no-talk, no-eye contact principle when meeting a pet.

LEARN ABOUT & TEACH CHILDREN TO READ BODY LANGUAGE

  • Learn more about body language and calming signals.
  • Look at T-E-M-P signs:

T – Tail, E – Eyes & Ears, M – Mouth, P – Posture

ALWAYS ASK PERMISSION

  • When you are near an unknown dog/pet, ask the animal’s guardian if they are child-friendly, and then instead of approaching further, call the animal into your space for physical contact. If the animal does not approach, leave them alone.  
  • When touching rather hold out your hand instead of going for their head from above and let them come to you.
  • Consent to touch an animal by any person should be clear, voluntary and with ongoing permission from the pet.

Read more on choosing pets for your child.

The way you allow your child to treat animals can be unintentional cruelty, but still cruelty, which is a crime. Do not let your child be the reason that this animal doesn’t trust children/humans. We also do not want your child to fear animals for the rest of their life, because of a bite incident.

It is not your dog’s job to know how to interact with your kids. You need to teach your kids how to interact with your dog.

Source: The Bulletin