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Recent Blog Posts

Why do cats kick with their hind legs?

Does your cat kick with his hind legs? Bunny kicking can be both a sign of play and aggression. Here’s how to tell the difference. Why do cats kick with their hind legs? Cats sometimes “bunny kick” with their hind legs during play, but this can also be an aggressive or defensive behavior. Here are a few ways to tell the difference between your companion’s playful kicking and fighting moves. For those unfamiliar with the term “bunny kick,” it refers to the movement cats make when they are lying on their backs or sides and begin kicking with their hind legs. Often, pets direct these kicks at a toy during play wrestling, but in some cases, cats can also kick their owners’ hands, feet or legs. Even though it is a playful act, bunny kicking can leave us with scratches due to our lack of protective fur. It is important, then, to let your cat know you are not a play object from the start of the behavior. When he tries to kick your arm or hand, replace it with one of your cat’s toys immediately. This will teach him what is and is not an acceptable play thing, and help you avoid some unwanted scratches down the road. Though bunny kicks are often a part of feline play, they can also be an aggressive act. Kittens use play to develop skills they will need as adults, and this includes behavior necessary in fights. Though it may initially seem counterintuitive for a cat to roll onto his back during an attack, the position allows him to use all four sets of claws and his teeth at the same time, inflicting maximum damage on his opponent. In this posture, he can grab his adversary with his front paws, using his hind legs to kick at the exposed stomach of the other cat. Cats intended to deal a swift blow with this technique, ending the fight quickly. It may seem easy to tell the difference between play kicking and aggressive behavior, but it can require some careful observation on your part. If your cat bunny kicks when you go to pet him, it may mean he is trying to play. However, cats use this same behavior when feeling defensive or they want to be left alone. To tell the difference, it is important to watch your companion’s other body language. If his ears are pinned back, pupils are dilated, and tail is twitching, he is likely agitated and in need of some space. In this case, it is best to leave your cat alone for some time to calm down. If, on the other hand, Kitty seems relaxed, he is likely engaging in playful behavior and showing he is comfortable around you by exposing his vulnerable stomach. Do not take advantage of this display of comfort by reaching for a belly rub, however. Instead, give him a pat along his chin or some other, less vulnerable spot.

When do I need to trim my cat’s claws?

It sounds ludicrous, but trimming your cat’s nails is possible. If your pet is shredding your furniture, it’s time to consider this option. When do I need to trim my cat’s claws? Trimming yours cat’s claws sounds like an agonizing experience, but with some patience, can actually save you stress by preventing Kitty from sharping his nails on household furniture. While not generally necessary, you may want to consider investing in nail trimmers if you’ve tried everything and your pet is still shredding your favorite couch. A cat’s claws are made of two parts: an outer keratinized section composed of nails that your pet cannot feel, and the nail pulp in the center, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Cats naturally sharpen and shed their outer nails, which can sometimes lead to unwanted scratching of household items. If you are hesitant to clip your cat’s claws, try using a repellent spray on your sofa, chair, or other item your pet is clawing first. Nail caps are also available to top Kitty’s claws and preventing him from scratching and damaging furniture. If you have tried all of the above with scratching post to no avail, however, it is time to consider trimming your cat’s claws. Similar to cutting a dog’s nails, clipping your Kitty’s claws involves cutting the hard, sensationless outer layer without cutting too far into the sensitive nail pulp. Cats control whether their nails are extended using tendons and ligaments, however, so you will have to do some extra legwork when trimming Kitty’s claws. To ease your pet into nail trimming, ensure you are in a quiet room and that your pet is in a relaxed state, such as after a meal. Place your cat on your lap and take his paw into your hand to massage it for a few seconds. If he pulls away, follow his gesture, but do not squeeze or pull his paw. Once he is still, press into the pad of his foot so the nail extends out, then immediately release his foot and reward him with a treat. Keep practicing this on different toes until you and your cat are both comfortable with the exercise. Once your cat allows you to manipulate his paws, you can introduce a pair of nail clippers designed specifically for pets.  Let him get accustomed to the sight and sound of the clippers before you try to use them, using treats to make this a positive experience. When you are ready to try trimming, clip only the end of Kitty’s claw, being careful not to cut too far and nick the vein that extends into the center of each nail. Reward your pet with treats and practice patience, as you may only be able to trim one or two nails each sitting when you first begin    It is best to start nail trimming when your cat is young, so he gets used to the process from an early age, but even older cats can learn to have their nails trimmed. Whatever your solution to unwanted clawing, however, remember that outdoor cats need their nails for climbing and self-defense, so do not trim or cap your pet’s nails unless he is a full-time house cat.

Why do cats have a third eyelid and what does it mean if it’s showing?

Many pet parents don’t know their cats have a third eyelid. That’s because when it’s visible, it’s often a sign something’s wrong. Why do cats have a third eyelid and what does it mean if it’s showing? If you’re like most cat parents, you’ve seen your pet wake from a deep slumber and noticed a translucent layer over his eye. Though this milky membrane disappears after a few quick blinks, you are not imagining it: Cats, and many other mammals, have a third eyelid. Officially called a nictitating membrane, our pets’ third eyelids serve as an extra layer of protection when they run through tall grass or during a fight with another animal. This membrane also helps moisten to eye and swipe away particles such as pollen that can cause irritation. Many other mammals, including dogs, have this third eyelid, and scientists theorize that humans once had it, too. You may be wondering why you don’t see it more often, but this is a good thing: Other than brief moments after sleep, spotting Kitty’s extra eyelid can be a sign something is wrong. The membrane may become visible due to an infection, such as pink eye, or trauma to the eye, such as a scratch on the surface of the cornea. Dental disease or abscesses may affect the nerve connected to your cat’s eye and can also cause a visible third eyelid, too. Oral infections can be in the back of your pet’s mouth, where they are not visible, so it is important to seek a veterinarian’s help if you’re noticing your pet’s third eyelid. Other causes behind a visible third eyelid include Haw’s Syndrome, a protrusion of both eyelids without an identifiable cause, and called Horner’s Syndrome, caused when the nerve connected to the eye is impacted. If you can see part of your pet’s third eyelid, bring him to the veterinarian to diagnose the problem. If only one membrane is visible, the problem is likely related to that eye, ruling out some illnesses and systemic issues. If both are showing, however, it could be a sign your cat is sick. Do not delay visiting the vet any longer than needed, as cat’s with a visible third eyelid are often in discomfort or pain. Your veterinarian can check for the above ailments through a comprehensive exam to diagnose Kitty’s problem and prescribe a cure. Cats’ third eyelids are a functional part of their anatomy that help clean and protect their eyes. If you notice just a small sliver of this membrane on close examination, do not fret. However, if your cat’s third eyelid suddenly becomes visible, it is important to take Kitty to the vet to diagnose the problem and treat the source of his pain.  
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