The Tiger On Your Lap

Are you aware that besides the difference in size, the markings of the fur and the sounds they make, a wild tiger, (the largest member of the cat family) and your pet cat is the same animal in many ways? Biologically, the tiger shares 95.6% of its DNA with the domestic cat, but let's talk about similar behavior because that's more fun. And by understanding your cat's actions that are instinctually rooted in its "wild cat" heritage, you can learn things to do with your cat to live in greater harmony and comfort.

Let's start with similarities. A 500 lb Bengal tiger and your  8 lb. tabby, stalks prey just the same. Of course, the prey your cat may be hunting is the toy mouse or aluminum foil ball on your floor. Wild cats in play spend a good deal of time practicing their hunting skills. Participating in and encouraging playtime with your cat is just as important – by making sure she is practicing her hunting skills, it keeps her muscles and heart strong as well as maintaining good mental health.   

Somalian cat and computer mouseFor both animals, its coloration and markings act as camouflage, allowing the cat to blend into its surroundings. A new born tiger cub already has its markings and stripes and each striped pattern is as different and permanent as our fingerprints. Speaking of that, your cat's nose print is just as unique to the individual as your human fingerprint.

Back to camo, a light underbelly on a cat helps it fade into shadows and the stripes break up the contour of the body.  In domestic cats, with all the breeding, we've introduced colors not found in the wild, however, if your cat's fur has stripes, is marbled or patchy you may have seen it disappear into the background while outside.    iStock_000003738250XSmallbengalcamo

Both animals are true carnivores and must eat meat to survive. Even though tigers do like to be in water more than many of our pet cats do, they do not drink a lot of water, obtaining the moisture they need from the prey animals they eat.  If your cat was fending for itself and hunting for dinner, the average prey animal would be a mouse, lizard or small bird, whose bodies contains approximately 75 percent water. The average percentage of water in dry kibble is much less. This is why we at NutriSource, also recommend feeding your cat canned food. It has more moisture. You may love the convenience and cost of dry food, but at least, try to feed a combination of dry (adding water to it) and some wetter, canned food. This can help with the common problem of dehydration in cats.

In all of our lines, NutriSource, Pure Vita and Natural Planet Organics, we've got some great, grain free, canned cat food flavors. Ask your local, independent, family owned, pet supply stores for them.

So, as your cute kitty is somewhat a tiger in miniature, a wild tiger can act just like your pet feline. They are not only the powerful and aggressive hunters we think they are, they can also be extremely playful when interacting with each other,  will roll around on the ground, sleep in the same silly positions as your cat and do some of the same comical things.

Bengal cat on white backgroundAmur Tiger (Panthera tigris altaica) Rolls in the Snow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tiger mothers teach their cubs what is acceptable behavior and what is not. No matter if you are a man, woman or child, being a better "mother" to your cat can make a big difference for living happily together.  Next blog – Find out how.

End of Winter. Let’s Get Ready!

Nothing like romping outside with your dog on a warm spring/summer day. Going for car rides together, doing those errands together…… whoops. Wait, stop right there, the best way to run car errands with a dog – is to NOT. Doesn't matter if you crack open those car windows, if it's hot outside, leave your dog home, or do what I do.

shutterstock_171589748My dog Rosy travels with me a fair amount and if I must stop somewhere for a few minutes, I always have an extra set of car keys so I can leave the car on, locked, with the air conditioning running. 

Here's what you may not know. When you leave your dog in a shut off car on a hot day – it may seem fine upon your return, you may notice some heavy panting but still you think, it is okay.  The reality is on a warm/hot day the inside of a car acts like an oven and the temperature can increase to 150 º F within 15 minutes and this can result in permanent brain or organ damage that you may not know about until it's too late. Your dog might not survive or could require lifelong treatment. It's just not worth it!  When a dog is exposed to high temperatures, inside or outside, heat stroke can result.  

Here are the signs of heat stroke.

Uncontrollable, vigorous panting.

Tongue and gums initially bright red and then as pet gets worse becoming progressively blue or gray.

Rapid heart beat.

Foaming at the mouth.

Tacky or dry gums.

Lying down and unwilling/or unable to get up.

Vomiting, dizziness or disorientation.

Increased rectal temperature.

A dog's normal body temperature is 100.4º – 102.5º.  In hot weather, a dog's temperature that reads 103 – 105 and above can be a sign of heat stroke, so taking its temp is the fastest, surefire method to determine if your dog may be experiencing heat stroke.

Learn how to take your dog's temperature if you don't already know.  Now, don't be squeamish. It's easy to do and really doesn't bother your dog. Get a digital thermometer and some lubricant, like vaseline. You just need a little on the end, hold onto your dog – not too tight, ( I kneel to the side of Rosy, wrap my arm around her rib cage to keep her still) and insert the thermometer in its anus just about an inch. It just takes a moment to register. (By the way, a rule about these thermometers, "Once a rectal, thermometer, always a rectal thermometer". Make sure you label it with your pet's name.)

You also need to be mindful of overexposure to the heat when you are playing or walking your dog when it's really hot outside. Certain types of dogs such as obese ones or short nosed breeds like, Pugs, Bulldogs and Pekinese are more sensitive to heat. My dog Rosy, (none of those breeds), gets hot very fast, but luckily she self monitors and leads me single-mindedly to the closest shady place she can find to lie down until she is cooled off and ready to carry on. I'm glad she does this.   

317443418What to do if you suspect heat stroke:

1. Move dog out of the heat away from sun right away.

2. Begin cooling dog by placing cool, wet rags, washcloths or towels on the body, especially the foot pads and around the head.

3. DO NOT use ice or very cold water. Extreme cold can cause the blood vessels to constrict, preventing the body's core from cooling and actually causing the internal temperature to further rise. Making it worse!

4. Offer your dog some cool water – but do not force it into its mouth.

5. Call or visit your vet right away – even if your dog seems better. Remember, internal damage may have happened and may not be obvious to the naked eye.

To protect your furry family member in summer weather, do these things. Carry that extra set of car keys and have a digital thermometer for your pet at home and keep one in the car's glove compartment.

If caught early, some dogs can recover fully from heat stroke. Don't assume that just because your dog keeps playing fetch non stop in 90 º F. that it's fine and the heat can't hurt her, It can. You must be the keeper of caution for your beloved canine in hot weather.