In 2019, Ariel Grald, an international 5* event rider and her horse, Leamore Master Plan or “Simon,” finished in the top 10 at the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials in Stamford, United Kingdom. This finish earned the pair the distinction and recognition as the highest placed finish for Burghley first timers. They also had success in 2019 at their 5* debut at the Land Rover Kentucky Three Day Event finishing in 12th place. Ariel and Simon’s plans to return to international competition in 2020 were put on hold as the worldwide pandemic took center stage. As equestrian events and competitions cautiously and optimistically move forward in 2021, Ariel and Simon are working to successfully return to international competition.
Ariel Grald and Leamore Master Plan. Photo Credit: Britt Gillis
Q. You did very well at Burghley. Tell us about your experience.
A. Competing at Burghley was an incredible experience. It’s a massive venue. Burghley House is stunning and the estate is so scenic. But there’s a lot of terrain. Even just hacking from the stables up to the dressage and show jumping arena is a decent workout. The cross country course is pretty relentless. You’re going up and down hill a lot. You’re always riding over changes in terrain so that was very challenging. When I competed at the Kentucky 5*, I wasn’t as aware of the people watching along the ropes of the cross-country course because it was a bit more open. There are way more people at Burghley, that was the biggest thing I noticed. Some of the galloping lanes are a bit narrow and some parts are a little bit more twisty and there are spectators everywhere. They don’t have a big grandstand like at the Kentucky Horse Park, but there is stadium seating that goes all the way around all four sides of the grass arena where the dressage and show jumping is held. It’s pretty intimidating!
Q. Do you have a horse you are going to take to the Land Rover Kentucky event this year?
A. We are not going to Kentucky this year, unfortunately. With the uncertainty with Covid and everything I had made a different plan for my top horse, Simon, because I’m really trying to get him back overseas. We are aiming him for another event a little later in the spring hopefully, in Germany.
Q. Why are you pointing him towards Europe? What’s the difference?
A. It’s for his experience and for my experience and for the international scene. Just looking ahead, we are trying to make the U.S. Championship teams and you’re always going to be traveling, either to Tokyo or to the World Games that are in Italy in 2022. Anytime I can go to a new venue and deal with the stress of traveling for both of us riding in arenas that we haven’t been to, riding on cross country and show jump courses that we haven’t been to is to keep building our experience.
Q. Every industry was impacted by Covid last year. Some things implemented out of this worldwide emergency, such as Zoom and working from home, are most likely here to stay. Is there anything in the equine industry impacted by Covid that’s also here to stay?
A. After horse trials were shut down for several months at the start of the pandemic, we were fortunate to resume competitions in the summer. While major 5* events such as Burghley and Fair Hill were cancelled, I feel very lucky that we were able to finish out most of the event season. As we all hope to return to some version of normal, I think the enhanced use of technology for communication will stay. For example, show venues send out mass texts to riders, grooms, and others regarding schedule updates and other important information. Also, many professionals turned to virtual lessons to allow people in different areas to train together and I imagine this may continue in the future. Many trainers share tips and ideas on social media by uploading videos and giving educational talks. I’m impressed at how many people throughout all aspects of the sport used technology to overcome logistical issues caused by Covid.
Q. Everybody has their own riding styles, especially when you get to upper levels. You like to work with each horse as an individual. How does that make a difference in your riding?
A. I feel like I am able to really get to know all the horses that I have. I spend so much time with each individual horse that I think I end up developing a really good partnership with each one. Some like a little more rein pressure, others like little more leg pressure. I know what support they need from me and how they like to be ridden or the warm up routine for dressage. So I’m lucky that I get to spend enough time with each horse every day when we’re training at home and to really learn about their personalities. I like sort of quirkier horses. I don’t mind ones that are a little bit fresh or a little bit higher energy. I actually prefer that ride. So in having some that are a little more sensitive you really have to spend that time to get to know them.
Q. What’s your approach when competing in straight show jumping versus to the show jumping phase of eventing?
A. I like to bring my dressage saddle and I still go do flat work with the horses to get them ready at the show venue. Some of my event horses can be strong and unfocused if I go straight to jumping them. They are used to having their dressage test and then either going to cross-country or show jumping next. It’s a good time to practice different warm up strategies– which jumps I’m going to jump, how many and how high before I go in the ring. A lot of eventers take their event horses to jumper shows to work on how to best prepare them and it’s a good way to work on those technical show jumping skills. It’s useful to go to a jumper show for several days, jump multiple courses and not have the pressure of being at a horse trials.
Q. What do you like most about Banixx products for your horses’ routine care?
A. I’ve used all of them but I think we use the shampoo the most. The wound care cream and spray I use to treat particular issues of course if a horse has a cut. The wound cream we use a lot on their legs. Often if they have some irritation on their heels or anywhere on their legs we use the spray for that. So those two products I use to treat certain issues. The shampoo we use routinely. If their skin is in pretty good condition we wash their legs a couple times a week with it. We just got back from Florida where the horses are always getting leg scurf and funk. So being able to use the shampoo on their legs and do the full leg soak for 10 minutes and wash it off, that’s a really important part of daily care of the horses in those environments like Florida where it’s humid and where the horses are quite likely to get skin irritation.
Q. Why do you choose Banixx versus other products?
A. I think their products are effective and I have many horses with sensitive skin. My top horse, Simon, has four white socks. His pink skin is very easily irritated. I like that Banixx has the collagen in it and the way the formula is made it doesn’t over dry or doesn’t cause further skin irritation. It actually helps soothe their skin. My horses wear boots daily for either schooling and competition, and are often bandaged or poulticed after they gallop and jump. This means we wash their legs frequently so I have to be careful which shampoos we use. Some other products are harsh and make their skin worse and more angry. But Banixx really, really helps.
Ariel Grald is based out of Setters’ Run Farm owned by Annie Eldridge in Vass, North Carolina. For more information, visit arielgrald.com or settersrunfarm.com.
If you take a quick peek into your horse’s mouth, you’ll immediately be struck by just how different their teeth are from our own. All the typical types of teeth including incisors, premolars, and molars are there. However, just in front of the premolars you may notice there are stubbly, blunt teeth that don’t seem to have too much reason for being there.
These are known as equine wolf teeth. And, before you ask, no: they don’t have any relation to dogs, wolves, or other canines. Regardless of why they’re called wolf teeth, one question persists among horse owners: what are you supposed to do with wolf teeth? Leave them in? Pull them out at first sight?
To help settle this question, we’ve written up the following blog where we’ll explore what wolf teeth are, what problems they cause, what you should do about them, and how to ensure a safe, comfortable recovery.
What are Equine Wolf Teeth?
While “wolf teeth” might sound like some sort of horrible disfigurement or disorder, they’re actually completely natural. Wolf teeth are small, often pointed or peg-shaped teeth that grow just in front of a horse’s first premolars. Technically, they’re known as a horse’s first premolars since they erupt in the mouth between five months and twelve months of age.
Wolf teeth belong to a category of teeth known as brachydont teeth, meaning they erupt all at once and stop growing upon full eruption. This is different from the behavior of the other class of teeth, known as hypsodont teeth, which erupt gradually throughout a horse’s lifetime. A horse’s incisors, premolars, and molars are hypsodont teeth.
However, unlike their incisors, premolars, and molars, wolf teeth don’t really have any use for modern horses; they’re a vestigial structure left over from horse’s ancestors. Fossil records show that equus caballus, the much smaller, ancient precursor to the modern horse, survived on a very different diet than today’s horses, often eating low bushes and shrubs. As a result, their mouths were built to hold seven teeth in each dental arcade.
As their diets evolved to include more grass, horses grew bigger and, consequently, their teeth increased in size to provide larger surface area for chewing and grinding. When this happened, the 1st cheek tooth, known today as the wolf tooth, was no longer necessary and gradually disappeared across successive generations. However, as with humans’ wisdom teeth, many horses still develop wolf teeth to this day. While more commonly reported in male horses, they can develop in both sexes.
Additionally, while it’s more common to see wolf teeth develop on the upper jaws, they can erupt on the lower and upper jaws. A wolf tooth can erupt on a single side of the mouth or both, and they can be uni- or multi-rooted. Sometimes, wolf teeth can even fail to erupt at all (this is known as blind wolf teeth).
What Problems do Wolf Teeth Cause?
As with humans’ wisdom teeth, many horses live just fine with their wolf teeth fully intact and without the need for extraction. However, similarly with young humans, many horse parents want to disable the potential development of biting issues that may arise from leaving wolf teeth in place.
Furthermore, as horse owners want to maximize their horse’s comfort with a bit placed in their mouth, it may seem advisable to remove wolf teeth. This is because wolf teeth contain nerves and are situated in and around highly innervated gums and bone near the periodontal ligament. If the bit makes contact with the tooth, it might induce pain which may cause the horse to act up in response. In fact, any pressure that’s placed on a horse’s cheeks is capable of rubbing against these teeth and causing pain.
What Should be Done About Wolf Teeth
Because wolf teeth are both not necessary and may interfere with bit placement in performance horses, many horse trainers opt to have them removed as early as is feasible. However, according to Glennon Mays, DVM and Clinical Assistant Professor at Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVM), one should not just jump to extraction as the only viable option once wolf teeth are noted.
“Even with this reputation as a negative, unneeded component of the mouth, owners do not always remove the teeth, especially in horses that do not have erupted wolf teeth or in horses that are not used for performance purposes,” says Mays. “Removing wolf teeth is a decision you should make with your veterinarian. The procedure is not particularly dangerous, but there are risks with any surgical procedure. There is the possibility of severing or damaging the palatine artery which can cause a great deal of blood loss. Or in horses with large, curved wolf teeth, the curvature of the tooth increases the possibility for complications.”
If you and your veterinarian decide to leave your horse’s wolf teeth in, you should remember that the recovery process from extraction will become substantially harder on your horse as they age. However, if you do decide to extract the teeth, you should feel comfort in knowing that the procedure is relatively quick and easy.
What is the Extraction Process Like?
The process of removing wolf teeth is relatively simple and usually requires sedation with a local anesthetic applied to the affected area. During extraction, the mouth will first be cleansed and then flushed to lower the chance of infection. Then, the gums and ligaments around the tooth will be loosened with a tool called an elevator which allows the tooth to be removed with forceps. Due to the variety of shapes and sizes of wolf teeth, the procedure time can vary from just a few minutes to an hour.
Because of how minimally invasive most wolf teeth extraction procedures are, aftercare tends to be just as minimal. However, some reports on wolf teeth extraction advocate for not feeding hay, straw, or grain concentrates for up to twelve hours after removal. Additionally, some equine veterinarians may recommend that owners irrigate the extraction site twice daily for a few days after the teeth are pulled to maintain a clean oral environment and minimize the chance of infection. Also, it is advisable that you do not ride or train your horse for at least 24 hours after extraction to minimize their discomfort.
To ensure an easy, complication-free recovery process, make sure that your horse is up to date on their vaccinations, most specifically tetanus. Horses are highly susceptible to the toxins from the tetanus bacteria, clostridium tetani, leading to many tetanus infections in horses becoming fatal.
The types of wounds in which the anaerobic tetanus bacteria thrive are small, hidden puncture wounds where there is little to no oxygen. This means that the many small cuts or gashes that may be present after a wolf tooth extraction offer the perfect environment for this nasty infection to sprout. Adequate protection against tetanus infections includes an initial vaccination, followed by a second booster four to six weeks later, and then recurring vaccinations every two to four years.
Thankfully, the process for protecting your horse against an opportunistic infection such as tetanus is as easy. In that same vein, so is protecting your horse against a variety of fungal and bacterial infections. Just reach for Banixx Horse & Pet care products!
Banixx works to provide instantaneous sting-free, odorless relief without relying on pesky steroids or antibiotics. If your horse is suffering from Scratches, Rain rot, Thrush, White line disease, or another infection, just identify the affected area, apply Banixx twice daily, and wait. In no time at all, your horse will be trotting along, ready to be taken to the veterinarian for a more comprehensive evaluation. With Banixx, relief really is that simple.
For more information on how to keep your horse happy and healthy, be sure to visit our blog at Banixx.com!
We’ve all heard the phrase “I’m as hungry as a horse.” But we never really stop to think about what that means.
Horses eat a lot.
Like… a lot.!!
Like so much that someone came up with an idiom to make how much they eat synonymous with a ton.
Unfortunately, sometimes horses eat too much and, as a result, can wind up unable to comfortably work and even develop some seriously worrisome health issues.
Luckily, chunky horses don’t have to stay that way. There are a variety of tools at the horse owners’ disposal that can help horses shed weight without too much hassle.
Assessing Your Horse’s Body Weight
Before any treatment plan can be recommended, you must first get an accurate understanding of your horse’s weight. There are several methods available to help you determine whether or not your horse is overweight.
If any of the following methods indicate that your horse if overweight or obese, you should consult with an equine nutritionist and veterinarian to develop a weight loss program.
The gold standard for getting an accurate weight measurement of your horse is to use a scale, likely available with your nearest equine veterinarian.
Of course, we also understand that not everybody has easy access to this tool. If you’re unable to get your horse weighed on a scale, proceed with using one of the methods described below.
Girth Height Ratio
Who ever said you wouldn’t use math outside of the classroom? Okay, besides you that one time. The girth-height ratio is a reliable, easy-to-implement method of getting a quick snapshot of your horse’s weight.
To put it into practice, first take a flexible tailor’s measuring tape and measure the circumference of your horse’s girth in inches by running the tape behind both elbows and straight over their withers. Record this measurement.
Next, take a carpenter’s measuring tape or a sturdy six-foot ruler and measure the length of your horse’s torso on one side, in inches, from the point of their shoulder to the point of their hip. Record this measurement as well.
Next, you want to apply the two measurements taken to the following formula:
[(girth)2 X length] / 330 = body weight
By using this formula, you should get at least a semi-accurate picture of your horse’s current weight.
This score allows horse owners to have a reliable overview of their horse’s general health. A score of 1 would indicate that a horse is far too thin to be healthy, while a score of 9 would indicate that a horse is far too fat to be healthy. Generally speaking, a horse’s body condition score should fall between 4 and 6 to be categorized as being of normal weight.
To evaluate a horse’s body condition, start by visually assessing their ribs. If the ribs are easily seen and felt, then the score for the ribcage will be below a five and vice versa if the ribs are not easily seen or felt.
Next, look at their shoulders. A horse’s shoulder with a body condition score of greater than five will be bulging with little deposits of fat behind it. A bonier shoulder indicates a score that will likely be below five.
A visual assessment of their withers should follow. A very thin horse with a body condition score of below five will have little to no fat deposited between the top of the shoulder blade and the spinal vertebrae, making them easily discernible. A horse with a body condition score of five, however, will possess withers that are slightly rounded.
You should then spend some time looking at their loin, which is the area of the back just behind where a saddle sits. If the horse has a body condition score of five, the loin area will be relatively level with no bumps, dents, or creases along the spine. As the score begins to increase, fat will begin to build up on either side leading to the formation of visible creases.
Next on your list should be the tailhead. A horse with a very low body condition score will exhibit an easily discernible tailhead, while a horse with a body condition score of seven or greater will have a tailhead that feels soft and plush.
Finally, look at their neck. If your horse is a proper weight, the neck should blend smoothly into the rest of their body. If your horse is overweight, however, their neck will look and feel quite thick with fat deposits at the crest.
As you assess each area of their body, remember to assign them a score of 1 to 9. You can consult this chart as you assess each area to get a better understanding of what each score means.
After each area is evaluated and assigned a score, you then want to average the scores together to get a final overall body condition score. If your horse has an overall score between 4 and 6, they’re likely to be able to perform almost any activity you give them without too much trouble.
However, if your horse scores above 6, they may be less tolerant to high levels of activity. A score of 6 or above will likely require consultation with an equine nutritionist to begin contemplating ways to bring their weight down.
With the stakes set so high, it’s only natural that caring horse owners like yourself are determined to help your hooved friend get back down to their target weight. Noting that most horses gain weight the same way that all animals do (via taking in more calories than they expend), the target of any worthwhile weight loss program must be to either reduce their calorie intake without sacrificing essential nutrients and vitamins, increase their exercise levels, or both. However, caution must be used if increasing exercise is the route taken, as overweight horses can quickly become overstressed by a sudden jolt in activity levels.
Set Realistic Expectations
The first step in getting your horse to lose some weight is to set realistic expectations. Just like with humans, weight loss is a journey, and a difficult one at that. It can take many months for your horse to reach his target weight, and he may plateau or even experience a mild regression of progress along the journey.
If any of the above happens, don’t fret. Just revisit the feeding and exercise program you’ve crafted and consult with your equine nutritionist and veterinarian about whether changes ought to be made. Remember: patience and consistency are key to successful, healthy weight loss.
It’s important to remember that the average horse requires about 2% to 2.5% of their body weight in forage in order to maintain their weight. Overweight horses who are receiving this amount of forage or more can benefit from a slight reduction in the amount consumed each day. However, remember that it is critical that the amount of forage given each day makes up at least 1% of a horse’s bodyweight. With regards to what type of feed is best, it’s recommended that horses consume forage that is high in fiber and low in sugars and starches such as mature grass hay. Not only is mature grass hay high in fiber, but their thick stems require more chewing and, as a result, uses up more calories to eat.
In addition to feeding hay, you may want to consider giving your horse a daily dose of ration balancers rather than a regular horse feed.. Ration balancers deliver high concentrations of essential vitamins, minerals, and protein that are otherwise missing in most forages but, caloric “fillers” are missing from these feeds. Consequently, a ration balancer help your horse get their necessary nutrients without extra unnecessary calories being consumed.
Restrict Pasture Feeding
It may just seem as though the issue is due to all of the additional calories that we provide to our horses. Maybe the best solution is to just let them eat exclusively from the pasture, right? After all it’s all just grass… right? …Wrong! In reality, horses evolved from eating on pastures that were much less calorically dense than the lush pastures that horses often graze on today. Pastures today can provide a seemingly limitless supply of calories to especially hungry horses.
With that in mind, it may be advisable to limit your horse’s access to pasture. The best way to do this is to put your horse in a dry-lot where you can limit the amount of food your horse has access to. However, confining your horse to a dry lot presents a picture of them just standing around, a little bored, just waiting for more food. This does not help to burn off calories!. To combat this, consider pairing your horse with a younger horse who will keep the older horse mobile.
If this solution is untenable, either due to the lack of a dry lot or because dry lot placement is not working, consider fitting your horse with a grazing muzzle. Muzzling your horse will allow them to eat very little at a time, thus reducing the likelihood of them gorging themselves on all that sweet, sweet pasture..
However, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you can just muzzle a horse for a few hours and that this will solve an overeating problem. A horse who is used to having more calories and is only muzzled for four hours per day will try and find ways to make up for those lost calories in the remaining twenty hours of the day!. You must keep the muzzle on whenever they’re at pasture to see real progress. Remember: consistency is key.
Get Your Horse Moving
While you’re finagling the diet portion of your horse’s weight loss program, you need to also be thinking about ways to get your horse active. Regular exercise is the single best way to increase the total number of calories used per day. Horses who are deemed capable of exercise should work out three to four times per week for a duration of between thirty minutes and one hour.
Beneficial exercises include, but are not limited to, lunging, trail riding, walking, trotting, participating in riding lessons, and competing. However, any forms of exercise must be introduced slowly and gradually increase in intensity as the horse demonstrates greater capability. Slow increases in exercise levels will prevent the development of metabolic issues or exhaustion. Remember to never simultaneously pair an increase in exercise intensity with an increase in exercise duration, as this can quickly overwork your horse and potentially lead to injury.
While guiding your horse through weight loss may seem like an arduous, perhaps even overwhelming, task, just remember that you’re not alone! Remember to lean on the expertise of your equine nutritionist and veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about the progress your horse is making.
Simultaneously, don’t forget to be attentive to any other developments in your horse’s health. Neglecting to treat certain disorders or ailments like White Line Disease or skin infections such as Scratches can stymie your horse’s ability to comfortably proceed with any exercise regimen or dietary adjustments.
If you notice your horse is beginning to show symptoms of either of the above, reach for Banixx Horse & Pet Care! This topical antimicrobial solution delivers instant, odor-free, sting-free relief for a variety of fungal and bacterial maladies without relying on pesky steroids or antibiotics. Simply identify the affected area, apply Banixx to it twice daily, and wait for your neighing buddy to feel better. Delivering relief to your horse really can be that simple.
For more tips on how to keep your horse happy and healthy, stay up to date with our blog at Banixx.com!
There’s nothing quite as lovely and fulfilling as sharing our hearts and homes with our cats. They provide endless entertainment and even cuddles. However, it’s not like we want to share everything with our cats (though they clearly think differently, given their propensity for bringing us dead rodents).
Of the things we’d most like to not share with our feline friends is ringworm. Both highly infectious and unsightly, ringworm is a common, persistent problem among cats. Not only does this infection end up costing pet owners money, but it often steals away time that could have been spent bonding with your purr-fect buddy.
Today, we’re going to outline what ringworm is, how it’s spread, what an official diagnosis should entail, how to treat it, and answer the most pressing question pet parents have when they discover it: can I handle my cat if they have ringworm?
What is Ringworm?
First things first: the name ‘ringworm’ is misleading. Ringworm has nothing to do with worms at all. Ringworm is a common fungal infection of the superficial layers of your cat’s skin, hair, and nails. Its name comes from the circular shape of the symptomatic hair loss of the infection.
It’s caused by a specific group of fungi known as dermatophytes. Once they make a home for themselves in their host’s body, they thrive by digesting keratin, the main protein structure of hair and nails. As they feast on keratin, they begin to rapidly multiply into millions of single-cell spores that can perpetuate the infection.
Some species of dermatophytes only infect one species, while others can transfer between different species of animals or between animals and humans. Cats who are infected with ringworm are likely infected with the dermatophyte variant known as Microsporum canis. While other variants exist, they’re not nearly as common.
How do Cats Get Ringworm?
There is no shielding your cat from ringworm. Ringworm spores can live just about anywhere in the world, from soil to surfaces to the skin of animals and humans. Cats often become infected with ringworm via coming into contact with infective spores from other infected animals, contaminated surfaces, and contaminated objects.
It should be noted that the mere presence of ringworm spores on a cat’s coat isn’t sufficient enough to spark infection. Rather, there are a minimum number of spores that must be present to establish an infection. However, there is no set minimum number that applies to all cats; it varies depending on a variety of factors.
That being said, some cats are predisposed to ringworm infection, such as long-hair cats. Long-hair cats are believed to be more predisposed to ringworm because their long hairs protect the spores from being effectively groomed away. Similarly, Geriatric and young cats are also particularly susceptible to developing ringworm due to their inability to properly groom themselves. Kittens, in particular, are a target due to their immature immune system that has trouble fighting any infection.
Even still, it’s not necessarily as simple as just: minimum number of spores present = cat is infected. Cats have evolved a number of natural defense mechanisms, such as grooming and sunbathing, to protect against these sorts of nasty skin infections. But should those defenses fail, the spores will begin invading and germinating.
What are the Symptoms of Ringworm in Cats?
An especially frustrating fact about ringworm for veterinarians, pets, and pet parents alike is that it can be quite difficult to even detect in the first place. Some cats who are infected with ringworm present no clinical signs at all, while others present a cornucopia of unsightly symptoms.
The classic symptom of ringworm is the appearance of one or more areas of patchy or circular hair loss accompanied by some form of crusting. A sort of “cigarette ash” scaling in the depths of the coat may also be visible. Other cats may develop alopecia in spots where the spores have infected the hair shafts. The scale of hair loss can range from mild to dramatic, and can be symmetrical or asymmetrical depending on which sites are infected. Most areas of hair loss will also often present with varying degrees of redness.
Other symptoms can include alterations to the color of your cat’s skin or hair, as well as the emergence of broken or stubby hair. Some unfortunate felines with ringworm may even develop a secondary condition known as onychomycosis, which is where the claws become rough and develop a scaly base. Many cats who develop ringworm will also begin grooming themselves in an excessive amount to stave off the irritating itching that may follow.
Regardless of whether your cat presents with all of these symptoms or none, any suspicion of ringworm should be immediately met with caution and a trip to the vet.
Is it Safe to Pet a Cat with Ringworm?
Answering this question is a bit tricky. Is it safe? As in, will you die if you pet a cat with the tell-tale red rings? No, probably not. But should you pet that ringworm riddled cat? No, probably not.
What you must keep in mind is that ringworm transmission occurs via direct contact with the fungal spores. While some species of ringworm are only transmittable between specific animal species, some are zoonotic and can thus infect humans. Unfortunately, it’s not like our eyes can immediately distinguish between variants of ringworm as safe or unsafe for humans.
But you shouldn’t necessarily jump to donning your hazmat suit if you suspect your cat has ringworm. Most healthy human adults are resistant to ringworm infection unless they make contact with a spore through a break in the skin like a scratch, scrape, or cut. However, as with cats, most elderly and young humans, as well as adults with weak immune systems, are susceptible to ringworm infection.
Moreover, in summary, there are a number of precautions you can take to protect yourself against infection if you suspect that your cat has ringworm.
How to Protect Yourself from Ringworm
Humans are thankfully just a tad more thorough with our hygiene than our pointy-eared buddies. For one, we have access to soap and the means to apply it whenever we want without issue. This makes the likelihood of just picking up ringworm from our cats a little bit lower than the risk they have of contracting it themselves.
However, it’s always good to be cautious, especially when you suspect one of your cats has become infected. First, remember to wear gloves, long sleeves, and an apron when handling a cat who has ringworm. Also, remember to wash your hands and clothes thoroughly each time you handle your pet if you suspect they have ringworm. If you have even the slightest abrasion or open wounds, even if it’s covered by your favorite superhero Band-Aid, minimize any contact of that spot with the infected surface.
Additionally, you’ll want to throw out all bedding, toys, supplies, and other paraphernalia that is possibly contaminated and buy new ones. (We know, it’s already expensive enough having a cat.) Some recommend simply washing all cat bedding in a good bleach solution followed by a plain water cycle in the wash machine. The regular washing and disinfecting your pet’s new bedding, toys, and dishes with a disinfectant spray can also reduce the risk of surface-to-skin transmission. Do not use Lysol, it’s not friendly to our felines. Apple cider vinegar is an excellent cleaner and its acidic nature repels fungal infections such a ringworm. You’ll also want to diligently vacuum your floors, and not just because you want to actually see your carpet again. Ringworm spores can still survive even on loose hairs, so vacuuming is an easy way to be thorough with your disinfection efforts. Follow this by disposing of the vacuum cleaner bag.
Perhaps most unfortunately, you may also want to consider isolating any infected cat during their treatment. If you have multiple cats, it’s safe to assume that they’re all infected if one is. In that case, you should aim to have each of them diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.
Nonetheless, a suspected ringworm infection necessitates that you regularly deep clean and disinfect your cats’ environment. Since spores can linger for long stretches of time, you may need to remain vigilant against possible reinfection for a long period of time, possibly up to two years after the initial infection.
How is Ringworm in Cats Diagnosed?
There are a variety of diagnostic procedures your veterinarian can deploy to uncover the presence of ringworm in your purry pal.
One of the most common tests is what’s known as a Wood’s lamp procedure. This is when affected hairs are placed on a surface known as a dermatophyte test medium. Then, the hairs are examined beneath a special ultraviolet light known as a Wood’s lamp. Hairs that begin to glow with a yellow-green or apple-green fluorescence are typically thought of as being infected by Microsporum canis.
However, the Wood’s lamp test is by no means definitive in diagnosing ringworm. Veterinarians often need to conduct what’s known as a fungal culture to completely discern whether or not an infection is present. During this procedure, scrapings of the skin and samples of the hair are taken and studied for signs of fungal growth in a laboratory.
If the technicians begin to see evidence of fungal growth consistent with Microsporum canis or other variants of ringworm, they will be able to officially diagnose the afflicted cat as suffering from the infection.
How is Ringworm in Cats Treated?
So, your cat’s got the bad news. He has ringworm. His hair is patchy, his skin is irritating, and he is just dying to get back to how things used to be, when he could cuddle up on you without you recoiling in fear.
Luckily, ringworm is by no means a fatal or even a debilitating disease. Modern veterinary science has innovated a cocktail of topical and oral treatments that are especially effective at eradicating ringworm when done in conjunction with aggressive clipping of the coat and environmental disinfection.
The first step in any effective treatment plan for feline ringworm is to determine whether the coat needs to be clipped. If your cat has long hair or lives with any humans who are immunocompromised, it’s likely they will need their coat clipped. Rest assured that this measure alone will save lots of money and time spent at the vet by reducing the chances for spores to continue spreading via shedded hairs.
After the clipping commences, your veterinarian will likely start your cat on a 1-2 treatment plan consisting of daily oral antifungal medication and twice-weekly topical therapy. Oral antifungal drugs that have been shown to be particularly effective at combating ringworm include griseofulvin, terbinafine, and itraconazole. Please keep in mind that itraconazole frequently has to be compounded into a liquid solution for administration.
There are a variety of effective topical products to choose from including medicated ointments, creams, and shampoos. If symptoms seem to encompass large parts of your cat’s body, a periodic full-body dip or rinse in whatever medicated solution is chosen may be necessary.
One topical treatment that is exceptionally effective at alleviating the discomfort of ringworm’s symptoms is Banixx Pet Care! Due to its remarkable anti-fungal properties, Banixx is capable of providing immediate, soothing relief to your kitty while delivering a damaging blow to fungal spores. While wearing disposable gloves, gently massage a cotton ball soaked in Banixx to your cat’s skin two to three times daily. Within minutes, your cat will begin feeling relief without having to rely on pesky antibiotics or steroids or some stinky, oily topical treatment.
Once your cat is feeling a bit better, you can take them to the vet and begin the process of eradicating this awful infection once and for all! In the meantime, you can learn more about how to keep your pointy-eared buddy happy and healthy through our blog!
When you first lay eyes on your kitten, it almost seems impossible to imagine that something so tiny and meek will one day grow into a beautiful, majestic cat. That same little furball with the huge blue eyes who can barely walk will one day be powerfully jumping into the air with pure terror at the sight of cucumbers. Nature really is a miracle.
But exactly how long is the timeframe between your kitten being so small it can fit in the palm of your hand and it being a fully grown cat? Should you expect a gradual shift from kitten to cat? Or will it be like with humans, where they go from small children to getting their driver’s license in the blink of an eye?
What Age Do Cats Stop Growing?
According to veterinarians, most cats will usually be considered at or near their full size by the time they reach one year of age. However, some larger breeds will continue to grow for months afterwards. In fact, some of the largest cat breeds like the Maine Coon have been reported to grow all the way up until they’re four years old!
While the exact date of maturity varies slightly by breed, your little furball will likely turn from being a kitten into a cat between ten months and eighteen months old. With that in mind, you may be sitting next to a kitten as you read this and wondering: “This looks like a cat to me, and I know Whiskers isn’t older than six months! What gives?” While your kitten might have the physical characteristics of a mature cat, it’s important that we review the milestones that kittens pass as they transition from kittenhood into…. Well, cathood!
From Months Three to Six
During this pivotal time in your feline friend’s life, a lot is going to change. They’ll begin sprouting ferociously sharp baby teeth around this time. Those teeth will start to fall out, too, so make sure the “Tooth Fairy” has some small treats for your buddy. Their eyes will change color too, shifting from a precious, baby blue color to its adult color. Your kitten’s petite frame will also begin to fill out during this time, meaning they’ll start packing on muscle and the adorable baby fat adorning their belly will likely slim out.
By six months old, your once youthful kitten will likely look more and more like their adult selves. However, this doesn’t mean they’ve reached full size. As a general rule, remember that an average-sized cat will gain one pound per month while they’re maturing. So, by six months old, your cat should weigh roughly six pounds and look like they could use a bowl or two more of food. Your cat’s body proportions may even look a bit wonky around this time, but don’t worry, they’ll easily grow into their bodies with time.
Raising your seven-month-old kitten may feel reminiscent of raising a teenager: your cat will be simultaneously excited to explore everything but oh so sleepy. As your cat works his way through his seventh month, expect him to take lots of naps. With a larger body to match their budding confidence, seven-month-old cats will also begin demonstrating how social they want to be, both with you and other animals in your household.
Months Eight and Nine
At this stage, your cat is likely nearly done growing. Notice we said nearly. Having taken the awkward first few steps towards pronouncing their personalities, your cat’s confidence will likely be at an all-time high. During this time, their paw-eye coordination will strengthen considerably, as will the muscles in their hind-legs. With this in mind, it’s important to make sure that you clear your counters (and any other high spaces, really) of materials that could be hazardous or, non-replaceable, if they were knocked off.
From Months Ten through Twelve
It’s between months ten through twelve that the average cat will reach their full adult heights and lengths. Additionally, your cat’s personality (while by no means paused forever) will likely conclude developing in these three months. This is also the time that your cat will likely have achieved sexual maturity, although we recommend getting your cat spayed or neutered well before this point. Perhaps most importantly, this is the period of time when your kitten will make the full transition from eating kitten food to eating regular cat food. After all, we are what we eat, right?
So, that’s it. Start to finish, nine months is about all it takes for the average kitten to evolve from a tiny fur ball into the slinky, loveable critters we know and love. Now, the above timeline is by no means a hard-and-fast schedule. How fast your cat grows (and how big they grow to be) can be affected by a variety of factors.
What Factors Affect How Fast Cats Grow?
It may be surprising to learn that, unlike humans, male cats actually grow more slowly than their female counterparts. This is because female cats tend to have smaller frames than male cats of the same breed, meaning they have less of a body to grow into. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, the average domestic male cat weighs approximately seven pounds, whereas female cats weigh approximately six pounds. Using this same manual, it’s found that male cats tend to be around 21 inches long while female cats are slightly shorter at 19 inches long.
Spaying or Neutering
It has long been a subject of discussion as to whether or not spaying or neutering your point-eared friend stymies or stunts their growth in some way. More specifically, it was believed that spayed and neutered cats grew larger than their unaltered counterparts. Studies have, in fact, borne this theory out to a degree. It can now be safely said that, so long as the procedure is performed before the cat reaches adulthood, their girth and length will be larger than their virile counterparts. This is because pediatric spaying and neutering results in a protracted fusion of a cat’s growth plates around their legs and arms, thus giving them more time to grow.
Of all the items on this list, this is by far the most important.
Once a kitten is weaned off milk at around two months old, they become solely reliant on their owners for nutrition. With such a heavy weight placed on your shoulders, it’s necessary to keep in mind the goals of proper kitten nutrition.
A proper diet ensures that your purry pal grows at just the right rate – not too fast, not too slowly. You want to avoid a diet that precipitates maximal growth at all costs, as this can lead to feline obesity. While the type of food you feed your kitten is undoubtedly important, you should also consider how much food you’re feeding them and how often you’re doing it.
From months two to three, kittens should be fed small meals at least four times per day. This is because their tiny stomachs can’t store the amount of food needed for proper nutrition. As they progress from three months old to six months old, you should be feeding them between ⅓ and 1 cup, volume-wise, of food at least three times per day.
Some veterinarians even recommend a practice known as “free-feeding” for kittens who are between three and six months old. Free-feeding is exactly what it sounds like: you leave food out for kittens to eat throughout the day. Regardless of whether you choose a meal-based schedule or a free-feeding style, you should be weighing your cat every week at this stage of life and consulting with your veterinarian about whether or not adjusting their food intake is necessary to maintain a healthy weight.
From months six through twelve, your cat should be eating twice per day at roughly the same time each day (cats purr-fer a routine). During this period, follow recommendations from food labels and your veterinarian to determine the amount you should feed them.
However, be warned that these dietary guidelines change drastically if you neuter or spay your kitten. In general, it’s believed that removing a cat’s reproductive tract can reduce their daily caloric needs by up to 30%. The reasons for this are still being studied, but two theories have gained prominence. The first is that the process of neutering and spaying lowers a cat’s activity levels so substantially that they need to take in less food in order to account for the lack of additional calories being burned. The second is that the process of spaying and neutering alters the hormones in a cat’s bodies responsible for regulating their metabolism. Regardless of the reason why, the science is clear: if you spay or neuter your cat, give them less food during each feeding.
Now that we’ve discussed the questions of “How much?” and “How often?”, we can begin talking about the components of a proper diet for growing kittens. When crafting a diet for your kitten, there are three main nutritional components that you have to solve for: fat, protein, and calcium.
One thing to note is that, unlike dogs and humans, cats are obligate carnivores. As such, they have much higher minimum protein requirements than dogs (33g versus 21g per 100g of dry matter). That’s why kittens require that at minimum 35% and up to 50% of their dry food be composed of protein, with at least 9% of dry food coming from an animal source. The necessary amount may be higher when the kitten is weaning off milk, but, rest assured that the amount of protein they’ll need will decrease as they continue aging.
While we might try to avoid foods that are rich in fat, kittens actually need a fair bit of fat in their diet. Fats are loaded with essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins that are crucial for your cat to be in good health. Generally speaking, the fat content of your kitten’s food should be between 18% and 35% on a dry matter basis.
Another critical mineral for your kitten’s healthy development is calcium. As specified by the trade body representing the European pet food industry, a complete diet for your cat should provide 2.5g of calcium per 1000 kilocalories of food. Do not overshoot or undershoot this nutritional requirement. A study of cats who were fed a diet lacking calcium demonstrated cats that grew to develop soft-tissue calcification which led to breathing difficulties, lethargy, and stunted growth as a result of vitamin D toxicity. Meanwhile, cats who were fed too much calcium developed hypercalcaemia, which resulted in calcium deposits building in their kidneys.
In order to guarantee that your kitten gets all of these essential nutrients, we recommend following the advice of most veterinarians and getting your kitten specially formulated kitten food. More specifically, we recommend following the advice of Mindy Bough, Senior Director of Client Services for the Midwest Office of the ASPCA, stating “Don’t go with generic or store brands. Buy from a reputable company. Research has shown these kitten foods provide excellent health.”
A quality kitten food, Bough says, will have a label that specifies that it meets the nutritional requirements for kittens as established by the American Association of Feed Controls. Better yet, look out for the “Complete and balanced nutrition” label; this label signifies that any kitten eating this food will need no mineral or vitamin supplementation in order to grow healthily.
So, let’s say it’s been a year since you picked up Ole Whiskers. Well, she’s now a year old, so, it’s probably Young Whiskers. Regardless, let’s say it’s been a year and you still have moments where you can swear she looks like she’s getting bigger. How exactly are you supposed to tell when she’s done growing?
How to Tell When Your Cat is Finished Growing
While we’ve already discussed the fact that cats can indeed continue to grow after one year, it’s important to remember that their growth will slow down significantly. However, it’s natural to wonder whether or not your kitten is done blossoming into a beautiful cat! So, if you ever catch yourself just itching to know whether or not your paw-fect pal is done growing, use the tools at your disposal and measure them! For real! It’s that simple.
Just measure their length and take their weight every month for three to six months after they hit one year old. At some point, the ever-minutely-increasing measurements are likely to stop. Once they do, you’ll know for sure that you’ve got one whole cat in front of you!
We understand the want to monitor your cat’s development and check up on them constantly. So, when we check on our fur babies and find that they’re developing a skin infection or a yeast infection, we reach for Banixx Pet Care! This antimicrobial spray provides instant sting-free, odorless relief from a variety of fungal and bacterial maladies, all without relying on steroids or antibiotics. Just identify the afflicted area, apply Banixx a few times per day, and wait for your pet’s symptoms to begin waning. Relief really can be that simple.
Almost as simple as we make learning about how to keep your pet happy and healthy! Just visit our blog at Banixx.com/blog!
As our dogs begin to age, we start to notice changes, both in their behavior and appearance. Their once vibrantly-colored coats begin to take on a grey or white hue, and they move a little slower. The seemingly-endless playtime suddenly becomes a lot more finite, and you notice they’re much more in favor of just lounging around next to you.
These changes bring to mind important questions: Do I have to adjust how I care for a senior dog? Can they still go on long walks or hikes with me, like they used to? Is giving them little nibbles of cheese still okay? While the answers to these questions ultimately are going to vary from dog to dog, there are still some relatively universal rules you can abide by that will keep your graying pup around for many happy years to come.
Keep Your Dog’s Weight In Check
When we think about the national “weight problem”, we tend to think of humans who can’t help but get large-sized meals, or people who just love soda. However, the weight problem is by no means restricted to just us bipedal creatures.
By defining obesity in dogs as being 30% above their ideal body weight, it has been estimated that more than 55% of dogs can be categorized as overweight or obese. While having a bit of extra cushion isn’t likely to lead to significant issues, obesity presents significant health risks to dogs. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, dogs who are obese are at a greater risk for developing arthritis, chronic kidney disease, bladder/urinary tract disease, liver disease, low thyroid hormone production, diabetes, heart failure, high blood pressure, and cancer.
When mixed with other afflictions that already plague older dogs, obesity can compound the damage done by existing conditions to a dangerous degree. According to veterinary behaviorist Nicholas Dodman at Tufts Cumming School of Veterinary Medicine, obesity can be especially brutal on dogs with bad joints, stating: “The large weight of the dog will stress the joints further. You can get a lot of relief if you can get him down to his fighting weight.”
However, don’t just go slashing your good old boy’s food intake by half just because they’re a bit chunky. Instead, go in with a plan. Weigh them first to get an exact idea of whether they’re overweight, underweight, or just right. If you discover your dog can afford to lose a few pounds, consult with your veterinarian to devise a plan on how to effectively cut back the amount of food you give them.
While we’re on the subject of food…
Feed Them a Senior-Friendly Diet
Your four-legged friend’s been eating that same brand of dog food for the past six years, so there’s no way they’d need to switch things up once they reach their golden years, right?
Guess again!! Just as it is with humans, dogs’ dietary requirements evolve as they age. As Dr. Katie Kangas, founder of The Pet Wellness Academy, says: “[Practicing good nutrition] is literally the most important thing we can do to support and promote the health of our pets.”
But in order to fully understand how to practice “good nutrition”, we have to first discern what good nutrition is for senior dogs. One of the most important concepts to grasp is that senior dogs may require fewer calories than their spry counterparts. While that may point to the increased likelihood of your dog gaining weight, the opposite can also be true! As dogs progress from being a senior pup to an ancient dinosaur, they actually tend to start losing weight. In these cases, dogs need to have their diet monitored to ensure they’re getting enough calories rather than to make sure they’re not overeating. In any case, determining the exact right caloric intake for your dog is good conversation to have with your veterinarian.
However, discerning the optimal number of calories for your dog doesn’t help you understand what macro nutritional needs they might have developed as they age, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. As an example, many believe dogs should eat less protein as they age to minimize potential negative impacts on their kidneys. However, while chronic kidney disease is a known health issue for elderly dogs, recent research disproves the notion that protein poses any harm to kidney function. In reality, veterinary dieticians are now in consensus that elderly dogs actually need up to 50% more protein in their diet than younger dogs in order to maintain a healthy muscle mass.
Additionally, you should consider orienting your senior dog’s diet around mitigating the effects that old age is having on their bodies. For example, many older dogs begin to suffer from constipation due to a progressively impaired colon. Luckily, we can limit the harmful effects of this organ breaking down by giving our senior dogs food that is high in fiber. Diabetic dogs can also greatly benefit from a low-fat, high-fiber diet thanks to the delayed absorption of food that this diet yields. However, be warned that giving your dog a diet that is too high in fiber may decrease the uptake of essential nutrients.
However, diet alone is unlikely to solve all of an older dog’s nutritional deficiencies; that’s why many senior dog foods include supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin (two supplements that aim to prevent your dog from developing osteoarthritis). Unfortunately, the evidence that these ingredients work is limited.
On the other hand, there are a range of supplements you can give your aging furball that have been clinically proven to benefit their health. Perhaps one of the most famous examples is omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Originating from fish, krill oil, and phytoplankton, omega-3 fatty acids are not only anti-inflammatory, but can also improve your dog’s cognitive function and stabilize your dog’s heart muscle cells. Similarly, research conducted by Purina suggests that feeding your senior dog a normal diet supplemented by a mixture of antioxidants, B-vitamins, fish oil, and L-arginine led to significantly higher cognitive function.
Your dog’s heart, kidneys, and brain aren’t the only thing supplements can support. Two compounds we discussed above, glucosamine and chondroitin, can both be taken as standalone supplements to protect your dog’s joints and cartilage. Let’s not forget about the tummy, either. Human doctors are beginning to understand the importance of gut health, and veterinarians are doing the same. That’s why you see more and more dog-friendly probiotics coming to market.
All that being said, we know that diet and nutrition are only two parts of a total wellness regimen. One of the most important, and most loathed, aspects of maintaining optimal health is regular exercise and mental stimulation.
Keep Your Senior Dog Active – Physically and Mentally
Right now, you might be looking at your pup and thinking: “What? My dog? Slow down? Have you seen how fast he runs after that ball?”. And we understand completely. However, this thinking is misguided. Not only is waning mobility a common issue that senior dogs face, but some even deal with debilitating conditions like arthritis that make moving around genuinely painful.
While senior dogs might be a bit slower than they used to be, they still need to move around. Ideally, you should walk your dog at least once per day even if you think their health should prompt less movement. Your walks don’t have to be marathons in order to get tangible benefits from them, either; according to Dr. Kangas, even a short ten-minute walk once per day can help stave off the progression of arthritis.
Be sure to also tailor your dog’s exercise regimen to their own capabilities. If your dog is suffering from a particularly mobility-limiting ailment like osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia, then you’ll want to choose a physical activity that eases stress on their joints such as swimming. Also, if you notice that your dog is walking stiffly after a walk, consider adjusting the length, intensity, or surface of their workout. Really, all you need to remember is that your dog’s workout routine is meant to benefit them, not you. If you notice your dog tends to take their sweet time on a walk, let them! The whole point is to get them out and about while keeping it enjoyable for them!
It’s not like exercising only yields physical benefits, either. On the contrary: moving around and getting outdoors is a simple, effective way to keep your pup’s brain sharp. Sitting around the house all day is boring, anyway! Giving your dog novel things to see and sniff each day will keep their brain active.
Exercise is by no means the only way to keep your dog’s brain young, though. Much like how humans use brain teasers and crosswords to keep their minds sharp and snappy, dogs can use toys to stimulate their brains. Certain toys, for example, prompt your dog to try and retrieve items that are hidden or are stuffed into the toy. These force your dog to think logically about how to solve the puzzle in order to get the reward. Other toys, such as the famous KONG, reward your pup while cleaning their teeth and soothing their gums. In order to keep your old pup’s interest, consider rotating your toys on a weekly basis to keep things fresh and exciting.
And while the old saying goes “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, we think that’s a load of…. Well…you know. It may not be as easy to teach an old dog tricks, but it absolutely can be done and it pays off big in terms of keeping their mind sharp. All it takes is a little bit of patience and consistent encouragement from you!
Perhaps one of the most potent (and adorable) ways to enrich your dog’s brain is to get them a dog companion. We’ve all seen the videos of elderly dogs excitedly receiving a younger sibling, and they typically follow a formula: the elderly dog initially reacts with a bit of apprehension or is downright standoffish–followed shortly by the duo playing together. The message of these videos seems to be that a young dog can reinvigorate your old timer while the senior pup teaches the new dog social and behavioral skills. It seems like a win-win.
Now, while impossibly cute, this heart-warming scenario is not guaranteed. For starters, you should honestly assess your current dog’s sociability before introducing a new puppy. The last thing you want is for your graying pup to act mean towards the baby. Additionally, you’ll want to consult with your veterinarian to make sure your elderly dog is sufficiently capable, both physically and mentally, of handling the new puppy’s high energy levels.
Shine Those Chompers
The importance of a dog’s dental hygiene to their overall health can not be overstated. Not only will diligent dental care prevent the development of oral infections or the loss of teeth, but it will also prevent the development or worsening of certain medical conditions. This is because the bacteria that is present in oral plaque can enter the bloodstream and spread throughout the body, where it does additional (lasting) damage.
What’s worse: decaying teeth and gums can exacerbate presently-existing health conditions, which can be especially perilous for senior dogs. Unfortunately, many pet owners do not heed this warning, which is why 80% of dogs have some form of oral disease by age three. Thankfully, you can prevent these sorts of negative outcomes by giving your dog’s mouth just a little bit of T-L-C.
First things first: you need to feed your dog a well-balanced, nutritious diet. This ensures that the environment of your dog’s mouth is insusceptible to the growth of harmful bacteria. Next, make sure to brush your dog’s teeth every-day with a made-for-dogs toothbrush and toothpaste.
While you’re brushing their teeth, be sure to check their mouth for evidence of redness, bleeding, inflammation, and broken or cracked teeth. You might want to also consider getting your dog’s teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian to guarantee that nothing is missed.
Make Your Home Friendly to Senior Dogs
As dogs’ muzzles begin to gray and the walks with them get a bit slower and shorter, it becomes apparent to us that they’re really getting older. And while we may adjust how often and how hard they work out, or what we put in their food dish, we tend not to spend too much time thinking about how to make their living spaces a bit friendlier to their needs. This is a mistake, and it’s one we can easily fix.
It all starts with acceptance that our dogs’ needs change as they get older. As we become more aware that our dogs are slowing down and their mobility is shrinking, we can take steps to make it easier for them to get around. An easy way to do this is to provide them with ramps so they can still go up the stairs, get on the couch, and climb into bed.
Speaking about bed, answer this question: when you’re 70+ years old, do you want to sleep on soft blankets or 20+ year-old bedsheets? We thought so. That’s why we implore you to make your senior dog’s bed as comfortable as possible! Give them soft blankets, and consider even springing for an orthopedic bed if your dog suffers from joint pain or arthritis.
Furthermore, there are other simple, low-cost ways to account for ailing joint health. One way is to account for how joint health impacts where our dogs spend their time. For example, if your kitchen has slippery flooring, an aging dog may begin to spend less time there. In order to prevent this from happening, you can install non-slip surfaces with rubber backings on any hard floors your dog walks on.
For good measure, you should also limit the frequency with which you move furniture around. As your dog ages, the strength of their senses will also begin to deteriorate. If you semi-frequently change the layout of your house, this can make navigating the home a stressful experience for a dog whose sight and smell are fading. After all, wouldn’t you be stressed if you just kept bumping into stuff in your house?
Another, unexpected way to do right by your senior pooch is to elevate their food and water bowls. This may seem contradictory to the advice we’ve given thus far; after all, wouldn’t doing this make it harder for them to get food and water? Yes, but also no!
While our natural instinct might tell us to lay the food and water bowls on the floor, or even bring the bowls to the dog, that may not be the best idea for their overall health. As explained by Connie Schulte, a certified canine rehabilitation practitioner at Blue Pearl Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center in Missouri and Kansas: “Once we start providing everything for them, they no longer have the need to get up and walk to the food or water bowl.”
With this in mind, it makes sense that we’d want to find simple ways to keep our old buddies as mobile as possible for as long as possible. Hence the suggestion to elevate the bowls off the floor. With this simple action, we end up encouraging our old dogs to get up, travel to the bowls, and remain standing while they consume. By forcing them to move around more frequently throughout the day, even in this minimal way, we end up bolstering their mobility and preventing further muscle atrophy.
Don’t Skip Those Health Check Ups
It may seem like an easy thing to do, but we strongly advise against falling into the mindset of: “I’ll wait until something is wrong before I take my pup to the vet.” This line of thinking actually goes against the consensus of most veterinarians who advise that senior dogs be examined bi-annually.
Regular, thorough physical check-ups by your veterinarian can help catch the beginnings of a variety of potentially lethal diseases and conditions including heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and more. By catching them early on, your vet can work with you to develop a treatment plan that will prevent found conditions from worsening. Remember: it is almost always easier (and cheaper) to prevent a disease than it is to treat one.
However, we know that you’re a diligent pet parent and that you’re likely to pursue solutions quickly. That’s why we know that, if your senior pupperoni ever starts displaying signs of skin infections or injuries, you’ll use Banixx Pet Care! Our antimicrobial spray offers immediate, sting-free relief from a variety of bacterial and fungal infections – all without leaving a lingering odor or relying on steroids or antibiotics. Just identify the affected area, apply Banixx once or twice daily, and watch your dog recover from anything such as an ear infection, hot spot, itchy skin, ringworm & more…Relief really can be that simple.
And so can learning ways to keep your dog happy and healthy, regardless of their age. Just visit our blog at Banixx.com/blog!
In 2020, a phenomenon took the world by storm, all while we were sitting on our couches. We’re talking, of course, about Netflix’s show Tiger King. While watching Joe Exotic get his come-uppance was certainly entertaining, it sparked a curiosity in many people about the ethics of big cat ownership. As we observed through the show, the cats’ playful and exuberant nature was contrasted by Joe Exotic’s heavy hand and blase management.
But what if you could enjoy the playful nature of these majestic animals in a more bite-sized, home-friendly body (with far less scary teeth)? You can! Enter the Toyger breed. An adorable cat of recent creation that mimics the look and gait of wild tigers, these cats are friendly, intelligent, and so beautiful that it’s unfair. If you’ve never heard of them, don’t worry! By the end of this article, we’ll have you feeling like an all-knowing Toyger King (or Queen).
History of Toyger Cats
Unlike with many cat breeds of unknown origin, we actually know the exact person who is responsible for the inception of the Toyger: Judy Dugden, daughter of Jean Mill, the original breeder of the Bengal cat species. Developed in the 1980s, the Toyger cat gets its name by crossing the words ‘toy’ and the word ‘tiger’. Sugden’s inspiration for breeding the Toyger came after noticing one of her cats had tabby markings on their temple which she believed could be used for creating a cat with circular patterns on their head, similar to a tiger.
After deciding to embark on this journey, Sugden began formulating the exact characteristics a cat would need to have in order to bring the image of a “toy tiger” to the public’s mind: a long, muscular body, a sprawling network of tabby patterns, circular head markings previously unheard of on a domestic cat, and a long face. Eventually, she was able to achieve her goal by mixing her mother’s famed Bengal breed with a Domestic Shorthair. A Kashmirian street cat was also eventually brought into the mix to get those distinct spots behind the ears, while a cat from Delhi helped give the Toyger its characteristic sheen.
Finally, after years of development and further tweaking, the International Cat Association accepted the Toyger for registration in 1993. As of today, it is now listed as a championship breed.
Characteristics of Toyger Cats
Toyger cats’ visually stunning, orange and/or tan coat is characterized by distinct, dark stripes. However, unlike the vertical stripes that characterize mackerel tabbies or the rounded rosettes of other breeds, the Toyger has broken, branched stripes and rosettes that proliferate across and around their bodies. Like their big cat cousins, each Toyger’s stripe patterns are unique to each cat, acting almost as a fingerprint. Their thick coat is also accented by a faint glow of glitter that some breeders describe as a “dusting” of gold.
Toyger cats are medium to large in size and tend to have a surprisingly muscular definition, often weighing in between seven and fifteen pounds. To accommodate their muscular stature, their long, rectangular body is slung low to the ground while their shoulders sit high on their torso, mimicking the powerful stance of wild tigers. Toyger cats are also unique in the composition of their facial markings. According to the 2008 TICA Standards, a Toyger cat’s facial markings and stripes are circularly aligned around their face and are accented by white “thumb marks” on the back of their ears.
Personality of Toyger Cats
Like the Tiger cubs they were modeled after, Toyger cats are exceptionally playful and outgoing, often yearning to play with their owners, children, and even other pets! Whether you want to play fetch or even play in the water, your Toyger will be ready to join in the fun at the drop of a hat.
Toygers are remarkably active cats, meaning they require consistent physical and mental stimulation. Luckily, their laid-back temperament and high levels of intelligence makes them easy candidates for leash training. To keep his mind busy, consider investing in toys that reward him with treats or kibble for learning how to solve puzzles. If they’re anything like Tigers, your Toyger should learn how to manipulate any puzzle you put in front of him in no time.
But don’t worry – while their name might imply that these are some sort of ferocious or cunning felines, the Toyger breed is actually one of the most loving, affectionate cat breeds around. As much as they delight in scurrying around and pleasing you by performing tricks, they’re equally happy to laze around in your lap as you watch television or read. There really is a Toyger for everyone!
Health of Toyger Cats
Unfortunately, while the name for these cuddly cats takes inspiration from one of the strongest, most resilient big cats in the world, they’re prone to developing some health issues. Like the Bengal and Domestic Shorthair, Toyger cats can be predisposed to developing heart murmurs.
The Bengal side of the Toyger may also make them a prime candidate for developing pyruvate kinase deficiency, an inherited disorder that leads to a breakdown of red blood cells and can morph into anemia. However, the newness of the Toyger breed makes determining the probability of inheriting this condition hard to discern.
Additionally, while its frequency is unknown, some Toygers are reported to suffer from a condition known as cow hocking. This painful affliction sees a cat’s hind legs turn inwards, leading their feet to point outwards which makes walking difficult.
However, the most prevalent health issue that Toygers face is one that is not limited to any single cat breed: obesity. Feline obesity, defined by Cornell’s Feline Health Center, is characterized by a body weight that is 20 percent or more above normal weight and is currently the most frequently observed nutritional disorder in domestic cats. Unfortunately, it’s also the fastest growing feline health crisis.
If left untreated, feline obesity can breed and exacerbate a variety of serious disorders including: osteoarthritis, a the erosion of cartilage in the bones; hip dysplasia, where a cat’s thigh bone will no longer fit properly into the socket of their hip; and diabetes, a condition where a cat’s pancreas can no longer regulate or produce insulin. Thankfully, there are multiple steps you can take to prevent your whiskered friend from becoming obese.
According to Carolyn McDaniel, VMD and lecturer at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, an important first step is to eliminate free feeding and switch to pre-portioned canned food. Making time in your cat’s routine for regular exercise and play are also important components of any weight management regimen (which won’t be a problem for your Toyger!). Above all, make sure that any weight loss or weight maintenance program you decide to employ is carried out under supervision of a trained veterinarian.
Grooming and Caring for Toyger Cats
Grooming a Toyger cat is a piece of cake (and much easier than grooming an actual Tiger, thank goodness.). Since their coats are relatively short, they’re not going to require constant maintenance. Most Toyger owners have found that simply brushing or combing them weekly is enough to keep them kempt. And, unless you love cat hair on the sofa, consider increasing the frequency of grooming to once per day during their shedding season.
The same ease of grooming holds true for their nails, ears, and teeth. Like all cats, Toyger cats should regularly have their nails trimmed, ears cleaned, and teeth brushed using veterinarian-approved products to ensure optimal health.
Unfortunately, doing all of the above isn’t a silver bullet to preventing the development of certain annoying maladies. Even the most attentive owners might discover that their Toyger has developed a skin infection, fungal infection, or even just gotten an owie that won’t stop irritating their purry pal. Luckily, there’s an easy fix: Banixx Pet Care! Developed without the use of pesky antibiotics or steroids, Banixx is a clinically-proven formula that provides instant, sting-free relief without leaving any lingering medicinal odor. Just identify the affected area, apply Banixx a couple of times per day, and wait for the great results.
How to Find Toyger Breeders
Due to the fact that Toyger cats are a relatively new breed, finding a reputable breeder can be a bit of a challenge. That being said, we have some tips to make this process go a heck of a lot smoother and ensure you won’t give your money to any sketchy breeders.
The first thing to remember is that any reputable breeder will proudly abide by a code of ethics that forbids them from selling to pet stores and wholesalers. This code of ethics will also outline the breeder’s responsibilities, both to their cats and to the buyers – like you. Additionally, any worthwhile breeder will be forward with the results of all necessary health certifications that screen for genetic disorders. Along those same lines, make sure to get as much information on the physical conditions of the breeding operation as possible; consider even going to check the facility yourself! Remember: any breeder worth their salt will be happy to show you around. You’ll want to make sure that the cats are being raised in sanitary conditions and that there are no sick cats to be found.
Also, be sure to ask about how the breeder is socializing the kittens. While it may not seem consequential, you’ll want to avoid buying kittens from breeders who raise kittens in isolation since kittens who aren’t raised in the home might become difficult to socialize later in life.
If the breeders that you’ve selected have websites, then keep this handy list of red flags close by to weed out potentially unreputable candidates. First, never buy a kitten from a breeder who claims there are always kittens available. Many reputable breeders will have wait periods from a few months to up to a year in advance, so a facility who always has kittens available may not be treating their cats ethically. Along those same lines, make sure to only pick from breeders who are giving the kittens at least twelve to sixteen weeks with their mothers. Any less than that and you run the risk of picking a kitten that wasn’t allowed to properly develop.
Also, if your breeder has multiple litters on the premises at once, make sure to ask them why and really probe how they’re ensuring the cats’ health and safety. Unfortunately, you’re unlikely to get a satisfying answer to these questions, as having multiple litters or (worse) multiple breeds on-site is often indicative of kitten farming. While the process of question asking might sound arduous or even uncomfortable, it’s important to ensure you don’t end up with a sick or otherwise troublesome kitten.
In fact, it’s advised to approach any potential transaction with a breeder with a list of pertinent questions in-hand to avoid any potential mishaps. Some things you may want to ask them include how long they’ve been a breeder, how many cats they raise in any given year, and any information they know about the genetic defects specific to this breed. If the breeder you’re interacting with sputters or tries to dodge these questions: run. Any reputable breeder should have quick, verifiable answers to these basic questions.
Of course, you can take the guesswork out of finding a reputable breeder by leaning on certain resources available. Your veterinarian is likely to have the contact information for local breeders who they’ve verified as passing the sniff test. And, if they don’t (which may well be the case for Toygers), they’ll likely be happy to connect you with someone who does have that information. Plus, there are a growing number of Toyger-specific rescue groups that will be able to help you find your fur-ever friend. However, take note that some of these groups have limited availability and may not have what you’re looking for.
But, in between searching for breeders or rescue groups, be sure to visit our blog at https://banixx.com/blog/for-cats/ to learn more about how to keep your Toyger (and other pointy-eared buddies) happy and healthy!
Kissing spine syndrome is a back disorder in horses that causes pain, stiffness and soreness. It’s often complex to diagnose and a challenge to treat because it affects horses in different ways.
Courtney Cooper, a five-star eventer and breeder who is proudly sponsored by Banixx, describes her mare’s “very, very bad kissing spines” in a recent YouTube interview:
“I have a homebred mare and she got to the point where, we could get on her, we could tack her and I could get on her on the mounting block, but when I went to close my leg, she wouldn’t go anywhere with the rider on her back. She was violent about it,” says Cooper.
Kissing spines may invoke behavioral changes as Cooper mentioned, or increase sensitivity to touch or routine care. Horses may have reactions such as:
reluctance to jump or move forward
resistance to training
stiffness and soreness
unwillingness to be groomed
How Is Kissing Spines Diagnosed?
The medical term for “kissing spines” is overriding dorsal spinous processes (ORDSP). These are bony projections at the top of each vertebrae along the horse’s spine that overlap or touch (hence “kissing”) rather than being spaced evenly. This can cause inflammation, pain or soreness where the bones rub together. Most horses have 54 vertebrae along the spinal column; however this can vary by breed from 51 to 58 vertebrae. Vertebrae that are commonly affected are between (T) 13 and 18, with (T) 15 the most affected. This one is located directly under the saddle and the rider’s seat.
An estimated 40% of horses have the condition but it is more common in Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Warmbloods and dressage horses.
Interestingly, these horses often continue to perform and compete at high levels with the condition. The underlying cause for this syndrome is not known. The role of heredity is unclear or if certain horses are predisposed to the condition. It may be related to external factors such as poor saddle fit or improper training or problems with the rider; however, the research remains inconclusive and there are no known ways to prevent it.
Dr. James M. Hamilton, DVM, an equine sports medicine veterinarian, diagnoses about 50 cases of kissing spines annually at Southern Pines Equine Associates in Southern Pines, North Carolina. He says that some horses are prone to kissing spines due to having a long back and short vertical pelvis which can cause the vertebral column beneath the horse’s topline to take unnecessary stress.
“It is prudent to make as strong an effort as you can to get a specific diagnosis. There are many cost-effective ways of doing appropriate diagnostics that give a clear source of the lameness, how best to treat it, and some sense of prognosis,” says Dr. Hamilton.
To diagnose kissing spines, your horse’s veterinarian will most likely obtain X-rays or radiographs, an ultrasound, bone scan or magnetic resonance image (MRI) to get a complete picture of the severity of the condition. The difficulty with the diagnosis is that some horses do not show any outward clinical signs for kissing spines, while others exhibit behaviors that may be attributed to other health problems unrelated to back pain.
“The radiographic findings are not necessarily indicative of how the horse reacts,” adds Cooper, who operates C Square Farm, a horse sales program and training operations based in Pennsylvania and South Carolina. “And so you can have horses that radiograph poorly but will never have a problem with it. And you can have horses that radiograph well and will have a problem with it. And so I think it really comes down to does the horse show palpable sensitivity and then how do you manage it?”
Effectively Treating and Managing Kissing Spines
The first line of treatment for your horse is to make her feel comfortable. One of the best ways to treat or potentially cure kissing spines is to give your horse an extended rest for a minimum of three to nine months and to incorporate other approaches to maximize comfort and manage kissing spines syndrome in the long term. These medical and therapeutic interventions may include:
acupuncture, chiropractic, massage and physical therapies.
bisphosphonate drugs, which prevent loss of bone density in horses four years or older.
extracorporeal shockwave therapy, a noninvasive, nonsurgical approach for chronic and painful orthopedic problems.
mesotherapy which stimulates the middle layer of the skin on the horse’s back that can help stop the pain and spasms.
steroidal injections at regular intervals to reduce inflammation.
surgical methods such as:
inter-spinous ligament desmotomy (ISLD) which relieves pressure and increases space in the affected areas.
bone shaving, trimming or removal of the problematic areas to allow for more room and movement.
In addition, you may need to add to these initial and ongoing treatments to support your horse with massage blankets, tack fit to ensure that the saddle, girth and pads are fitting properly and a daily physical therapy routine.
Courtney Cooper and Rock Star. Photo by Amy Dragoo.
At one time, kissing spine syndrome was considered a career ending condition. But great strides have been made in digital imaging and surgical and medical treatments. Cooper’s horse had surgery, underwent rehabilitation and made a full recovery. The mare resumed her career, competing at the two-star level. Cooper says horse owners can feel confident about doing a good job finding effective treatment and managing the condition.
“You know there are always extreme cases, it’s sort of like anything. But for the most part I think people have gotten to the point where they can manage and it’s inspiring them to do massage or riding work or mesotherapy, or injections, or shock wave or surgery. I don’t think it is like it used to be,” Cooper says.
Different treatment modalities with ongoing maintenance may take time and persistence until you find the right regimen for your horse. It is estimated that 85% of performance horses that are treated for this condition recover and continue on with successful careers. It is important to remain patient and try different methods until you find what works for your horse.
Your horse will be free from pain — and she just might kiss you for it!
https://ceh.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/kissing-spines; Young, Amy (2019, July 29). What are kissing spines? UC Davis Veterinary Medicine Center for Equine Health.
https://thehorse.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/FactSheet_KissingSpines_2019.pdf; Oke, Stacey (2019, April); reviewed by Contino, Erin; Fact Sheet – Kissing Spines. TheHorse.com – Your Guide to Equine Health Care.
https://news.vet.tufts.edu/2019/09/surgical-management-of-kissing-spines/; Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. (2019, September 4); Surgical management of kissing spines. Cummings School News Center.
https://thehorse.com/148184/kissing-spines-horses-back-pain/; Hill, Jackie (2018, February 14) Kissing spines in horses: More than back pain. TheHorse.com – Your Guide to Equine Health Care.
https://thehorse.com/148184/kissing-spines-horses-back-pain/; Hill, Jackie (2018, February 14) Kissing spines in horses: More than back pain. TheHorse.com – Your Guide to Equine Health Care.
https://news.vet.tufts.edu/2019/09/surgical-management-of-kissing-spines/;Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. (2019, September 4); Surgical management of kissing spines. Cummings School News Center.
It’s pretty easy to tell if a cat is smart. Most intelligent cats can remember their name when called, greet their owners upon arrival, survive a couple of hours independently, learn basic tricks, and effectively emote their moods. While we may have this mental image of cats only being concerned with sunning themselves on the windowsill or occasionally climbing a cat tree, some want more from their lives. It may strike you as strange to imagine your cat playing fetch or walking by your side on a leash, but you’d be surprised how many cats love doing these things.
Many people point to the Abyssinians’ resemblance to paintings and sculptures of cats found in Ancient Egypt as evidence that they’re among the oldest cat breeds in existence. However, this royal history is often disputed and it is believed that the modern iteration of the breed comes from Great Britain (so still potentially royal!).
Regardless of whether they’re the purry pals of Ramses II or Queen Victoria, one thing is for sure: these are some wickedly smart cats. Abyssinians are among some of the most naturally curious and independent cats out there. Once they’ve decided to pursue something that’s piqued their interest, there’s no stopping them. This same intense inquisitiveness can also lead to them making a fool of themselves in front of you, which can be highly entertaining.
If you’re going to own an Aby, you’ll want to keep their highly active brains and bodies stimulated, or else risk them getting restless. Pairing them with another Abyssinian or giving them lots of puzzle toys to play with are easy ways to keep their minds busy. But don’t worry – your Aby isn’t going to be too busy thinking to give you some love. In reality, they’re some of the cuddliest cats around, too!
Perhaps best known for its exotic, almost Jaguar-esque coat, this breed wishes it got more props for its brain! Originally bred as the result of crossing a domestic cat with a wild Asian leopard cat, the Bengal breed is a highly active, curious, and social cat. They love the high energy that children bring and revel in any amount of playtime you give it. However, be warned that their love of play and boundless excitement can also lead to a few broken items if you’re not careful.
Bengals’ high degree of intelligence also makes them highly trainable, with some Bengal owners reporting that they’ve been able to teach their cats basic commands including “sit” and “stay”. This can also be a double-edged sword, as some Bengals have even been reported to learn how to open doorknobs or turn on the faucet just by watching their humans do those things. However, these kinds of annoying behaviors aren’t something you have to worry about so long as you keep their brains occupied.
Another area where Bengals like to flex their superior IQ is hunting. Due to their wild backgrounds, Bengals are extraordinarily efficient at both hunting small creatures and fishing. This may be a behavior that you want to tamp down on quickly, as this is not a behavior that your Bengal will easily unlearn. In order to curb this behavior, try introducing your Bengal to small animals and fish frequently while they’re still kittens.
Unusual to the eye but surprisingly elegant in their silhouette, the Cornish Rex breed is known for being an active cat that loves being around its family members. These fun-loving cats are known for an easy-going temperament which makes them exceptionally trainable, with some learning to wave, shake, sit, and even play fetch! That last one is par for the course for this breed, as they love physical exercise.
The breed is also renowned for its affability with both children and other pets, making them great family pets. However, Cornish Rex cats aren’t going to be happy if they feel like they’re just a pick of the litter housecat; they crave one-on-one time with their humans. So, if you intend on getting one, make sure you’re giving them plenty of space to run, jump, and climb as well as plenty of cuddles to enjoy.
Can you guess where these cats hail from? That’s right: Singapore! Currently the world’s smallest domestic cat breed, these frisky little critters are balls of fun and companionship. Thriving on attention and always looking for more, the Singapura loves to bound up, down, and around, playing whenever and wherever possible (so make sure to provide ample vertical space for them!).
Sometimes referred to as “little lions of love”, the Singapura often wants to be in the middle of whatever it is their family is doing – every activity is an opportunity to play, after all. Additionally, every new item that comes across their saucer-like eyes is an item that’s ripe for keen inspection…and playing with. That means any unimportant objects you might use once in a blue moon, such as pens, a computer keyboard, your shoelaces, or kitchen utensils are all fair game for them to become intrigued by and tamper with.
With their insatiable curiosity evident, consider keeping your Singapura’s little head busy by teaching them tricks or providing them with puzzle toys that reward them for each successful attempt.
This isn’t just another blue cat. Beneath their striking silver coloration is a cat that’s uniquely emotive and intelligent. While they share a similar lineage to the Siamese breed, they’re not nearly as talkative as their Siamese cousins are. However, this doesn’t mean that they won’t let you know what’s up. Ask any Korat owner and they’ll tell you that you can tell what a Korat’s thinking just by looking at them. What’s more surprising is that an equal proportion of Korat owners will tell you their cat seems equally aware of what their owner is thinking.
This is probably because Korat’s are especially observant cats, often employing a “watch, then do” approach to everything. So, don’t be surprised if you come home to find your Korat opening containers or trying to unlock a door! However, Korats’ fondness for closeness also means that they’re not very keen on being left alone. In fact, their observational nature lets them quickly pick up which tactics gain them the most attention for the longest amount of time. Once they have your attention, they’ll also jump at any opportunity to play and express great interest in whatever toys are in front of them. So, we’re not saying that Korats are master manipulators, but they sure do know what tricks keep us wrapped around their little paws!
Known by some as the “dog of cats” due to the strong bonds they form with their owners and enjoyment of various games like fetch, Burmese cats thrive on attention from their owners. Their shared ancestry with Siamese cats makes them an especially vocal breed, albeit with softer and sweeter voices.
If you’re looking for a cat with the most adorable ears you’ve ever laid your eyes on, then the Scottish Fold is the cat for you. Though most of their popularity comes from their distinctive folded ears (and from the YouTube-famous Maru), Scottish Folds have become famous among cat lovers for their extraordinarily gentle and intelligent nature.
Scottish Folds love being as close to the action as possible, often closely following behind their humans as they walk around the house. Unlike many breeds, Scottish Folds are uniquely adaptable to changes in their environment, making them well-suited to homes that are planning to introduce other cats or young children to the house. The Scottish Fold also loves to learn tricks that will keep its humans entertained and amused, such as opening doors or playing fetch.Don’t worry about them becoming pests for attention, either – Scottish Folds are still cats, and they enjoy regularly exercising their independence. However, once they’ve decided to come back after an afternoon of sleuthing, they’ll be all over you. Enjoy!
Quick: what’s black, white, and blue all over and doesn’t stop talking? A Siamese cat! Characterized by their stunningly blue eyes and their tendency to chat up everyone about everything, these cats are known for their cunning wits and their affectionate, playful nature. When they’re not curling up on their human’s lap or carefully watching their every move, you might find them playing with their housemates including other cats, dogs, and children.
They are also quick to boredom, which can lead to unwanted destruction if you’re not careful. Luckily, you can avoid having them come up with their own entertainment by training them or providing puzzle toys to keep their minds busy. Getting them a companion (like another Siamese cat) is also a good way to keep them from feeling bored or, worse, lonely. Siamese cats are especially social creatures, so you don’t want to leave them alone for too long or else they can quickly become distressed. If left alone for too long, you may come back to find your faucet running, your cabinets swung wide open, or your toilet roll cut to pieces!
“Well, that’s great,” you might say to yourself, “but cat isn’t any of these breeds! Is she just destined to be my little dope forever? Or can I train her to be more intelligent?”
How To Train Your Cat’s Brain
As any animal ages, their brain functions begin to naturally decline. This process is accelerated when the animal lives in an environment that isn’t mentally and physically stimulating. As cats reach old age, they can develop a disorder known as feline cognitive dysfunction (FCD): a cat version of Alzheimer’s disease. Cats with FCD can begin displaying a variety of troubling symptoms, including acting disoriented, missing the litter box, and even rejecting affection.
Unfortunately, once FCD strikes there’s no curing it. That’s why it’s critically important to begin focusing on amping up your kitty’s brain health long before FCD has its chance. With that in mind, here are just a few ways you can help keep your cat’s brain sharp.
Give Them a Puzzle
It’s been shown that having pets complete problem-solving activities has dramatically slowed down mental decay. Luckily, there are toys on the market that both enrich your cat’s brain while filling their bellies: food puzzles. The idea behind these toys is that they force your pet to use their brains in order to access the reward inside.
Food puzzle toys are available for purchase in a whole assortment of shapes and sizes. A common example of a food puzzle is The Kong, which is a rubber shape that has a hollowed out cavity where you can stuff food into. You can also turn every mealtime into a puzzle by buying a puzzle feeder. Popular among dogs and cats who are ravenous while they feed, these bowls and dishes often have raised obstacles on their feeding surface in order to force the pet to tease out bits of kibble. If you’d rather keep things low-cost, you can even create a puzzle for your cat by simply dispersing their kibble in the grass! This achieves the same goal as the puzzle feeders while also getting your cat outdoors and mobile!
Play With Them
Like dogs, cats love to play with their owners. They’re just as easily perplexed by simple, everyday items as their canine counterparts and they’re just as antsy to start toying with anything that intrigues them.
For example, while most of us have probably used the dangling feather toy to laugh at our cat, these toys are actually incredibly useful for stimulating their brain. Not only will they expend some calories trying to catch the feather, but they’ll also have to figure out how to actually catch the feather. It helps their minds and body stay active, all while strengthening their innate hunting instincts. Sounds like a win to us!
Speaking of stimulating their hunting instincts, have you ever considered letting your cat hunt you? Okay, maybe not the best wording, but have you ever thought about how mentally taxing a game of hide and seek is? Well, your cat sure knows! In order to find their prey in the wild, cats would have to think about where their prey might hide and then carefully scope out those locations without alerting anyone.
There’s no reason they can’t replicate this experience in the comfort of their own home, so consider incorporating short games of hide and seek into your play routine. However, remember that you have to remind your cat it’s a game and that you haven’t actually disappeared. Make sure to continue calling out to them so they can hear your voice, and eventually they’ll get the hang of it.
Also, we know that it’s a common belief that cats mix with water about as well as oil does, but this isn’t a universal rule by any means. In fact, some cat breeds tend to love playing in and with water. If your cat loves splishing and splashing around, here’s a fun game for you to try: fill up a large bowl with colorful marbles and then place some ping pong balls on the top of the water. Your cat may become fascinated by the shiny balls at the bottom and will work to fish them out without getting too wet.
However you choose to play, it’s important to remember that the most important thing is to keep playing as part of your cat’s normal routine in order to keep them active into their later years.
Keep Their Bodies Active
The science is clear: there are clear mental benefits gained by keeping physically active, and there’s no reason to believe that’s exclusive to humans. Keep your cat active by installing cat trees in your house. These fun additions will incentivize your cat to climb to the top of their perches. Or, you could build one yourself by assembling a collection of empty boxes, cheap ramps, old wooden planks, and tons of other component parts! You may also want to encourage climbing by placing their food dishes at the top of stairs or on top of these cat trees. Not only will this keep their physique in check, but it will also facilitate problem solving.
Finally, you may even want to explore taking your cat for a walk! Some cats are going to be more enthusiastic about donning a leash than others, but there’s nothing to worry about. If your cat simply refuses to step foot outside in that thing and you have a backyard, get them to come out in the yard with you! Even just leading them around by dropping treats behind you for 15 minutes everyday can do wonders for keeping them active.
We know that most cats are pretty particular about their behavior, but we promise that the tips above should capture their attention without too much trouble. So, next time you’re thinking about just letting Whiskers hang out all day for the 117th day in a row, consider spending just a little time engaging them and their brains. In the end, you’ll be rewarded with a cat whose mind has aged wonderfully and who’s just as willing and capable of chasing the feather as they were when they were younger.
Whether your cat is the Feline Einstein or they forget their own name, we know that you love them dearly and would do anything to keep them and their brain happy and healthy. That’s why we can’t wait to see you back on our blog at Banixx.com!
As part of our growing, global society, it’s natural to become curious about how we can incorporate other cultures into our everyday lives. We might take up yoga, listen to Chinese pipa music in the morning, or take up a new cuisine that uses ingredients we are unfamiliar with.
One fun way that we can gain perspective onto different cultures is by observing and respectfully adopting their names for things, including our beloved pets! Nowhere is this more evident than by the wide array of available cat names that come from Japan.
Once revered for the supposed luck they bring and now beloved for their cuddliness, cats are the dominant pet of choice in Japan. As a result, there are so many Japanese names for cats that us Westerners can look to for inspiration when trying to name our own kitties.
Cats in Japanese History and Folklore
Cats have an undoubtedly special place in Japanese culture, with an interesting history to boot. In the modern world of cat cafes, Hello Kitty and ‘cat islands’ (islands where there are more cats than people…infinite cuddles, anyone?), it can be surprising to learn that cats were not always a part of Japanese society. In fact, cats aren’t even native to the island nation.
Rather, they (along with Buddhism) were imported by way of China in the mid-sixth century. On the voyage from China to Japan, Buddhist monks and traders would bring their cats as a means of protecting important scriptures and wares from being destroyed by rodents. But almost as soon as they arrived, cats were absorbed into the cultural fabric of Japan, soon becoming the subjects of art, literature, folklore, and Japanese Buddhist tradition itself.
We find the first definite mention of a domestic cat in the diary of Emperor Uda, who described that he kept a black cat which was brought from China in 884. In his diary, Emperor Uda writes:
“On the 6th Day of the 2nd Month of the First Year of the Kampo era. Taking a moment of my free time, I wish to express my joy of the cat. It arrived by boat as a gift to the late Emperor, received from the hands of Minamoto no Kuwashi.
The color of the fur is peerless. None could find the words to describe it, although one said it was reminiscent of the deepest ink. It has an air about it, similar to Kanno. Its length is 5 sun, and its height is 6 sun. I affixed a bow about its neck, but it did not remain for long.
In rebellion, it narrows its eyes and extends its needles. It shows its back.”
Clearly, cat owners have not changed in a millenia. Like Emperor Uda, we understand that it can be hard to not talk about your cat (even when they’re exposing their….needles).
We can see this adoration of these fuzzy felines continue throughout Japanese history. During the Edo Period (1603-1868), for example, cats were the subject of multiple works of art from some of Japan’s most esteemed authors and illustrators. Utagawa Kuniyoshi, a prodigy illustrator, famously depicted cats taking the place of kabuki actors during a time of artistic censorship.
During the later Meiji period (1868 – 1912), the famous author Soseki Natsume wrote the popular fiction novel “I Am a Cat.”Decades later, Hiro Arikawa would build off of the success of Natsume’s story by authoring “The Travelling Cat Chronicles”.
Perhaps one of the most famous cats of Japanese culture is maneki-neko, or the beckoning cat. Commonly seen waving his golden hand back and forth in storefronts, this ubiquitous cat has its origins in two tales from Japanese folklore. The first tells the story of a brave, lucky cat that saved the life of a samurai during a lightning storm. The other tells of a poor, elderly woman whose cat came to her in a dream and instructed her to craft a clay sculpture of a cat to sell at the market. Following the advice of her cat (as one does), the woman eventually sold more and more statues until she finally retired rich. While these stories are obviously fiction, that doesn’t stop the sales of thousands of these waving cats from rolling in, year after year.
However, cats are not exclusively the subject of adoration in Japan. While their “kawaii” (cuteness) cannot be overstated, cats in Japan have also been viewed for centuries as potentially magic creatures. Their physical characteristics don’t help this skepticism – if you learned of the existence of an animal that could dilate the pupils of their glowing eyes, stretch out to very long lengths, walk without making sounds, and seemingly understand and respond to human language, you’d probably be pretty spooked. The fact that cats are not native to Japan and came from “the outside world” only further fueled this skepticism.
The first reported instance of supernatural cats in Japan dates back to the 12th century, when farmers and woodsmen reported that a massive, two-tailed cat had begun snatching up locals and eating them. Tales of supernatural cats continued to flourish during the Edo Period, when stories of shape-shifting bake-neko (monster cat) emerged. According to these new legends, cats could transform into anything you could think of; including human shapes.
The lore goes on to say that cats who live long lives (how about nine of them?) would go on to kill their owners and assume their place. Eventually, these legends morphed into stories about cats who lived entirely alternative, humanistic lives at night, including activities such as acting, playing games, drinking sake, smoking tobacco, etc, before slinking back home at dawn. It’s not so hard to see how a musical like Cats came to be now, is it?
The catlore of Japan is as fascinating as it is detailed, and we’ve only just begun nibbling on the surface kibble here in this article. With such a rich (and fantastical) history behind them, it’s no wonder why Japanese people have so many unique names for these adorable little critters.
Japanese Cat Name Conventions
There aren’t really any hard and fast rules one should follow when picking a Japanese name for their cat, aside from remembering to be respectful of Japanese culture. Much like Westerners, Japanese people often take inspiration from their cat’s physical appearance, objects, names in popular culture, and various other sources when deciding on a name for their little furball.
Additionally, the Japanese names of other animals and plants can serve as inspiration for naming your pointy-eared pal. For example, the Japanese word for tiger, ‘Tora’ (虎) is a solid name for male cats. Meanwhile, plenty of female Japanese cats are named after flowers such as the names ‘Hana’ (flower, 花) and ‘Ume’ (plum, 梅).
Speaking of food, there’s plenty of food-based names you can pick from! Although, since we’re talking about Japanese names, you may want to use the names of foods that are commonly consumed in Japan such as ‘Matcha’ (green tea, 抹茶), Saba (mackerel, サバ), ‘Katsuo’ (bonito flakes, 鰹) and others for a more authentic name. However, tailoring the name to Japanese-specific dishes isn’t really necessary! The Japanese word for apple, ‘Ringo’ (林檎), is a common name for male and female cats alike. Similarly, the word for bean, ‘Mame’ (豆) is commonly used as a diminutive to describe cats who are small.
Plus, there are plenty of names from Japanese pop culture that can be lifted for naming your furry friend. One of the most famous cats in Japanese pop culture was the subject of a hit manga series titled ‘What’s Michael?’. The cat’s name? Michael. Drawing from the deep well that is anime and manga, there are a dowry of character names from multiple movies, television shows, and comics that you can pick from. Some might include Jiji (from Kiki’s Delivery Service) or Mello (from Death Note).
In the end, the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a Japanese cat name is to have fun with it! After all, we’re talking about naming creatures that get scared when they see cucumbers – it only makes sense that they might end up with a silly or tongue-in-cheek name!
Male Japanese Cat Names
Aki – Born in autumn
Akihiro – Great brightness
Akio – Bright boy
Arata – New
Asahi – Morning sunlight
Atsushi – Kindness
Banzan – Indestructible mountain
Bassui – High above average
Bento – Boxed lunch
Bishamon – Buddist god of war and fortune
Botan – Peony
Byakuya – White night
Chimon – Wisdom gate
Chotan – Deep pool
Dai-In – Hidden greatness
Daichi – Great land
Daijiro – Great second son
Daiki – Shining
Daisuke – Great helper
Doryo – Generosity
Dosei – Saturn
Ebisu – Shinto god of luck, wealth, and prosperity
Eiji – Eternity
Endo – Roadside
Enkai – Deep sea
Eryu – Dragon wisdom
Fuji – Unsurpassed
Fujin – Shinto wind god
Fuku – Lucky
Fumihiro – Large sentence
Fumio – Scholarly hero
Genkei – Honored
Giichi – One rule
Goku – Aware of emptiness
Goro – Fifth son
Hajime – Beginning
Haruto – Soar to heaven
Haya – Falcon
Hiroki – Vast timber trees
Hiroshi – Prosperous
Hiroto – Big flight
Hisa – Long life
Hisoka – Secret
Hitoshi – Motivated person
Homura – Fire
Honcho – Leader
Inoue – Above the well
Isamu – Vigorous
Ishii – Stone well
Issey – First-born son
Itachi – Weasel
Ito – String
Iwai – Celebration
Izanagi – First male, the god of creation
Jikai – Ocean of compassion
Jiro – Second son
Joben – Enjoys cleanliness
Judo – A martial art form
Junichi – Obedient first son
Juro – Tenth son
Kage – Shadow
Kaito – Between pear trees
Kakashi – Scarecrow
Kaname – Vital point
Kane – Gold
Kangiten – Buddist god of bliss
Katsu – Victory
Kazan – Fiery volcano
Kenichi – Strong, healthy first son
Kenshin – Modest
Kenta – Thick
Kichiro – Lucky son
Kitsune – A fox spirit
Kiyoshi – Purity
Koji – Little one
Kotaro – Plump
Kouta – Great peace
Kuebiko – Shinto god of knowledge and agriculture
Kunio – Countryman
Mamoru – Earth
Manzo – Third-born son
Masaru – Victory
Matsui – Pine
Michio – Man on a journey
Mitsuo – Shining hero
Mokusei – Jupiter
Mugen – Infinity
Myojo – Venus
Naoki – Tree of truth
Naruto – Maelstrom
Natsuo – Birth of summer
Nintendo – Leave luck to heaven
Nobu – Faith
Oki – Blue water
Osamu – Discipline
Raiden – Shinto thunder god
Reo – Wise gentleman
Riku – Clever tiger
Rikuto – Person of land
Ringo – Apple
Rokuro – Sixth son
Ryota – Great refreshment
Ryouichi – Clear one
Ryuunosuke – Noble herald
Sake – An alcoholic drink made from rice
Sanji – Praise
Sanjiro – Admired
Satoshi – Fast learner
Seiji – Lawful
Shimizu – Pure water
Shiro – White
Sho – To fly
Suijin – Shinto god of water
Sushi – A bite-sized Japanese food
Susumo – Advance
Tajimamori – Shinto god of sweets
Takeo – Strong as bamboo
Takumi – Artisan
Taro – Big boy
Tatsuo – Dragon Man
Tenjin – Shinto god of scholarship
Tetsu – Iron
Toshiro – Talented
Touma – Mountain top
Tousen – Otherworldly
Tsukikage – Moonbeam
Tsukiya – White moon
Umi – Sea
Unkan – Cloud valley
Usaku – Moonlit
Usui – Mortar well
Washi – Eagle
Wataru – Navigation
Yamaha – Mountain Leaf
Yamato – Old Japan
Yami – Darkness
Yasu – Peace
Yoshi – Silent
Youta – Great sunlight
Yuji – Courageous second son
Yukio – Snow boy
Yuma – Calm truth
Yuuto – Gentle person
Zinan – Second-born son
Female Japanese Cat Names
Ahmya – Black rain
Ai – Love
Aika – Love song
Aiko – Little love)
Aimi – Beloved
Airi – Jasmine flower
Aiya – Beautiful silk
Akane – Brilliant red
Akemi – Beautiful Sunrise
Akina – Spring flower
Akira – Bright and clear dawn
Amabie – A type of mermaid in Japanese mythology
Amaterasu – Shinto sun goddess
Amaya – Night rain
Ameonna – A female spirit that makes rain
Aneko – Older sister
Anzu – Apricot
Asami – Morning beauty
Asayo – Generation of the morning
Asuka– Fragrance or beautiful perfume
Aya – Colorful
Ayame – Iris
Azume – Safe space
Bankei – Ten thousand blessings
Bashira – Joyful
Benten – Buddist goddess of everything that flows
Bunko – Literary child
Ceiko – A splendid creature
Chia – Thousand loves
Chibi – Tiny
Chie – Wisdom
Chihiro – Thousand questions
Chika – Scattered flowers
Chinshu – Calm place
Chiyo – Thousand generations
Chizu – One thousand storks
Cho – Butterfly
Chorei – Transparent spirituality
Dai – Great
Eiko – Eternal child
Emi – Blessed with beauty
Ena – Gift from God
Eri – Blessed gift
Eshima – True intention
Etsuko – Child of joy
Fumiko – Child of treasured beauty
Fuyuko – Winter child
Gen – Spring
Gina – Silvery
Gyo Shin – Heart of dawn
Haiku – A form of Japanese poetry
Hana – Flower
Hannya – A female demon
Hayami – Rare beauty
Hekima – Wisdom
Hikari – Radiance
Himari – Ball of light
Hina – Good vegetables
Hiromi –Abundant beauty
Hoshi – Star
Hotaru – Firefly
Ichika – One thousand flowers
Ima – Present
Ino – Wild boar
Iva – Yew tree
Iwa – Rock
Izanami – Shinto goddess of creation and death
Japana – Ambitious
Jin – Tenderness
Junko – Pure child
Kabuki – Japanese dance/drama
Kaiyo – Forgiveness
Kannon – Goddess of mercy
Kaori – Perfume
Kasumi – Mist
Keiko – Adored one
Kichi – Lucky
Kiko – Hope
Kimi – Righteous
Kohana – Small flower
Koko – Here
Koto – Beautiful harp
Kukurihime – Shinto goddess of meditation and negotiation
Kumi – Nine seas
Kura – House of treasure
Kyoko – Mirror
Mai – Brightness
Maiya – Rice valley
Mana – Affection
Megumi – Blessing
Midori – Green
Miki – Flower stem
Minako – Beautiful baby
Mio – Waterway
Momo – Peach
Nami – Surf
Nana – Green vegetables
Nara – Flower from heaven
Nari – Thunder
Nishi – West
Noriko – Child of law
Nozomi – Hope
Ohara – Small field
Orino – Worker’s field
Rei – Spirit
Reiko – Thankful child
Rini – Little bunny
Risa – Growing flowers at home
Ruri – Semi-precious stone
Ryoko – Bright child
Ryuji – Dragon child
Ryuk – Gift from God
Sachi – Blessed
Sachiko – Child of bliss
Sai – Intelligent
Sakura – Cherry blossom
Sango – Coral
Sara – Music
Sato – Sugar
Satome – Beautiful
Sen – Fairy of wood
Shinju – Pearl
Shion – Aster
Shiori – Poem
Suki – Beloved
Sunako – Dark side
Suzu – Bell
Suzume – Sparrow
Takara – Treasure
Takashi – Noble
Taki – Waterfall
Tamayo – Generation jewel
Taru – Barrel
Tatsu – Dragon
Tennin – An angelic being in Japanese Buddhism
Tora – Thunder
Tori – Bird
Tsuki – Moon
Ukemochi – Shinto goddess of food
Umeko – Plum blossom child
Umiko – Child of the sea
Utano – Field of songs
Wakana – Harmony
Wakumi – Spring of water
Yasuko – Child of peace
Yoko – Positive
Yori – Public servant
Yoru – Dark
Yōsei – A fairy
Yuka – Friendly blossom
Yukari – Destiny
Yumi – Archery bow
Yuri – Lily
Yuriko – Lily child
Yuuna – Gentle
Zakuro – Pomegranate
Zen – Peace
We know that you’re the type of pet owner who goes above and beyond to make sure that your cat has everything they need to remain happy and healthy (and cultured, clearly). That’s why we hope you’ll keep coming back to Banixx.com to learn more about how to best care for your cat!