Cats have a powerful sense of smell and a very particular palate. Instinctively, a cat knows what they need. But they don’t always know what’s not good for them. We provide a list of human foods not fit for felines that will cause them more harm than good.
In emergencies, call Australian Animal Poisons on 1300 869 738.
Dairy – anything containing lactose will upset your cat’s stomach. Try a lactose-free milk formulated for cats.
Sugar & Carbs – Cats can’t digest carbohydrates; they lack the necessary enzymes. Opt for grain-free cat food. Sugar ingestion causes vomiting, diarrhoea and discomfort or pain.
Onions – anything from the lily family, which includes chives, shallots, leeks and garlic, as well as species of the flowering lily plant.
Alcohol – effects are much more extreme on cats than humans, such as liver and brain damage.
Grapes – including raisins and sultanas. Ingestion can lead to kidney failure, particularly in cats with pre-existing renal disease. Grapes are also highly toxic for dogs.
Caffeine – coffee, tea, chocolate, coke and energy drinks. Caffeine cause harm to a cat’s heart.
Chocolate – as well as containing caffeine, chocolate also contains theobromine, which is also harmful for cats’ hearts.
Keep this list handy for quick reference. Ensure the food you choose to feed your cat is grain-free, contains taurine and inulin and consists of good animal protein and fats, and plenty of fresh, clean water.
Australian Animal Poisons Hotline 1300 869 738
Cat eyes have to be at the top of a long list of endearing cat features. As beautiful as they are, cat eyes do function as a superior visual tool, much more efficient than ours. The unmistakeable vertical shape of cats’ pupils adds to their mystique. It is little wonder we can be taken aback to find a cat intently staring at us. We take a close look at the world through a cat’s eyes.
The unmatched beauty of a cat’s eyes can mesmerise, but they are particularly powerful where ours fail.
The vertical elongated structure of a cat’s pupils allows them to adjust aperture quickly, adapting to changing light conditions with efficiency. Their pupils are super flexible and can widen almost three times larger than ours, allowing them to see in very low light.
Cats have a remarkable ability to detect and keenly focus on movement, letting other details fade away. Their eye movement is so slick, cats can adjust their eyes to track a fast moving target an astonishing 70 times per second.
The light reflection of a cat’s eyes was the inspiration behind the reflective road studs that mark out lanes on our roads. Behind the retina, cat eyes have a layer of retroreflective tissue called the tapetum lucidum. This tissue reflects and hence increases light within the eye. This is what gives cats their amazing ability to see well in low light.
Because cats are crepuscular, they are instinctively more active at dawn and dusk, when their eyes really come into their own. Smaller creatures, such as vermin, are more active at these times as they venture out of hiding. A cat’s superior low-light vision brings them success on the hunt, as well as the occasional present on our doorstep.
While their vision in low light is hard to beat, the scope of the landscape is limited in the daylight hours. Cats are not colour blind, as it was once thought. But their retinas have less photoreceptors, hindering their perception of colour. They can see different colours, but they are less saturated and defined, and more grey in tone.
Field of Vision
Cats have a 200° field of vision, slightly wider than our 180°. But the differences are more pronounced in depth of vision. Michael Landy, professor of psychology and neural science at New York University, says that as long as there is light, normal human vision is infinite. This is far from the case for cats. Luckily for them, they have no need for distance viewing. Because of their amazing ability to pick up movement, the only things they need to see are within a 6m field of vision. Beyond that, cats see with softer focus.
Cats are not so good at seeing close up, either. Anything within about 20cm is a blur. But a cat’s muzzle whiskers take over at close range. These highly sensitive receptors communicate the exact location of proximate objects. Read more about this remarkable feature in All About Cat Whiskers.
Third Eyelid and Blinking
It isn’t normally visible, so this may come as a shock. Cats possess a third eyelid, otherwise known as the nictitating membrane. In fact, almost all vertebrates have a third eyelid of some form. It exists to protect the eyes from low lying scrub. And because blinking isn’t conducive to hunting, the third eyelid cleans and moistens the eyes, all but eliminating the need to blink – which only adds to the mystery of the cat, don’t you think?
A visible nictitating membrane in a cat is unusual, and may indicate injury, irritation or infection. They need immediate veterinary care.
Body language is telling in the cat world, and eyes are a significant cat communication tool. When a cat is in a relaxed, friendly state, notice their eyes. The eyelids are marginally open, if at all. When a cat is hyper alert – upon detection of movement or perceived danger – their eyes are wide open. To communicate your love and friendly intentions, follow suit: narrow your eyes and blink slowly.
You glance over at your cat and find they’re giving you a long, hard stare. You double take, and wonder why they are silently eyeballing you. Are they judging you, or planning an attack?
In a staring competition, a cat would win. Not that many of us would enter into such a reckless game. Some of us are too fearful, others know they would lose. And some know that although cats can stare at us, they do not like to be stared at.
Cats stare at their guardians for a few reasons. If you are within their hunting precinct – the room – they are keeping tabs on your activity, zoning in on your every move. They may also stare to assert dominance over their territory.
But more than likely, your cat is staring at you out of affection and a desire for your attention. Far from being the fluffy stuff of fairy tails and love songs, their affection is borne out of loyalty to their family – that includes you. Cats aren’t silly; it is in their best interests to know where you are, the giver of food, generator of warmth, provider of protection and factory of cuddles.
So the next time you find yourself lost in your cat’s beautiful eyes (with your eyelids narrowed of course), you will have a greater appreciation for how truly remarkable they are. These deep pools of splendour have miraculous seeing power in low light, added protection for the hunt, and the ability to communicate to us without words. And isn’t that what we all crave, to know the thoughts and feelings of our precious feline companions? After all, they surely know how we feel about them.
Resource: Live Science, Images: See the World from a Cat’s Eyes
While most animals possess a set of them, no creature is better known for their whiskers than the domestic cat. We take a closer look at this curious feature synonymous with the feline kingdom, and why they really are the cat’s whiskers.
What Are Whiskers?
In essence, whiskers are very thick hairs, otherwise known as vibrissae. Whiskers are deep rooted, three times deeper than a cat’s regular fur. An abundant supply of nerve endings surround each whisker making them super sensitive, and a dedicated network of muscle fibres control every whisker in the muzzle. Cats have 24 whiskers in the muzzle area, and more above their eyes, under their ears, the chin and above their ankles.
How Cats Use Whiskers
Cats are skilful hunting animals, initially domesticated to rid us of vermin. Cats have a superior ability to zone in on movement, letting details like colour and pattern fall by the wayside. Because cats are crepuscular, meaning they instinctively hunt at dawn and dusk, this visual capability was vital for the survival of their wild ancestors.
But cats are generally long sighted, and can therefore not see detail closer than about 30cm. That’s where whiskers take over.
Cats have an amazing capability known as ‘whisking’. Whisking is a cat’s ability to manoeuvre muzzle whiskers forward, toward their prey. Their whiskers register the slightest touch or shift in the surrounding air, conveying the exact whereabouts of another creature, such as a mouse. Cats have it covered; where their eyes are not at their strongest, their whiskers take over.
John Bradshaw is Director of the Anthrozoology Institute at the University of Bristol and author of New York Times Best Seller Cat Sense. He has studied the super responsive whisker control of the cat. The whisking reflex kicks in once a cat is too close to focus on their target. That flexing movement of a cat’s whiskers happens so fast, Bradshaw says, that ‘the mouse doesn’t have a chance.’
At night, their whiskers help them to navigate. Because cats are crepuscular, they use all of their whiskers to help them ‘see’ in dim light.
Whiskers generally span the width of a cat’s body. Acting as measuring tape, they help a cat to judge whether they will fit through small spaces and narrow crevices, and avoid putting their body on the line. An additional reason to not let your cat become a tubby tabby – they may find themselves caught in a tight squeeze.
Because their whiskers are so sensitive and designed as a threat alarm, cats are vulnerable to ‘whisker distress’.
All cats have unique characters, and may react mildly to the touch of their food bowl against their whiskers. But others may be more sensitive about a bowl with high sides that come up against their whiskers. A cat will either refuse food or water, or use their paws to pull their food out. If you are the guardian of such a cat, fear not. The solution is simple: change their food bowl to a flatter plate-style dish and try a water bowl wide enough that the sides won’t touch their whiskers.
We can add whiskers to a cat’s catalogue of body language communicators; their ears, eyes, tail and body. A cat’s ability to manoeuvre their whiskers can tell us about their mood, giving us a window into how they are feeling.
If a cat’s whiskers are relaxed, it means they are relaxed. If their whiskers are flexed forward in the hunt position, take care; they are angry and ready to swipe. According to Dr. Leonie Richards, Associate Professor of Veterinary Clinical Sciences at the University of Melbourne, ‘If the whiskers are pinned back up against its face it can mean they’re quite fearful’.
Dr. Richards also advises against the trimming of whiskers for any reason other than medical. It can make them feel ‘quite disoriented … and even a little frightened’. Read more about avoiding cat misery in Quick Tips Guide For Cat Lovers!.
Whiskers are an exceptional asset of our feline friends. As well as an aesthetic enhancement of their beautiful features, they serve as a means of navigation, a hunting tool, a warning system and a communication device. It gives a deeper meaning to the expression ‘the cat’s whiskers’; exceptional, superior and better than everyone else. A bit like a cat, really.
How much should you feed your cat?
If you’re a first-time cat owner, “How much should I feed my cat?” is likely to be one of your first questions when you bring your cat home? Even if you’ve owned cats for years, you may sometimes wonder whether your cats are getting too little food or too much. Let’s go through a few factors to consider when answering “How much should I feed my cat”?
The amount and frequency of meals depends on your cat’s age, health and preference.
Check the pet food aisle at your local supermarket, and you’ll find dozens of varieties of food to entice your cat. Feed your cat too little or the wrong kind of food, and he won’t maintain good health. Feed him too much, and he’ll get fat.
The answer to this question is based on many variables, including your cats weight and age, whether you’re feeding wet cat food or dry food (or a combination of both) and whether or not she is pregnant or nursing.
Many cat owners allow their cat’s free access to dry food, and supplement with wet food once or twice a day. It is important to note that if your cat is only eating dry food, you should encourage them to drink lots of water to compensate for what she is not getting in wet food.
Different cats have different nutritional needs based on their size, life stage and more. Here are some factors to consider when deciding how much food your cat should eat.
Age: Kittens have different nutritional needs and will require more regular feedings throughout the day to assist in healthy growth. Pregnant and nursing cats will also need more fuel and senior cats benefit from a diet tailored to their aging body.
Weight: Cats with a tendency to gain weight may benefit from more structured feeds, and it may be best to take away the ‘unlimited’ dry food bowl, instead feeding them 2 portion controlled meals a day with access to lots of clean drinking water.
Activity Levels: Cats who are active and playful throughout the day may need more food than those who prefer to spend their time napping. The same goes for those cuddly couch potato cats, they may need less food.
Indoor vs. Outdoor: Indoor cats may not get as much exercise as an outdoor cat would, so they need fewer calories. Outdoor (or indoor/outdoor) cats living in regions with cold winters may need more food in the cold months.
Exactly how much should I feed my cat?
There is no cemented answer to this question as it all comes down to your cats needs as listed above. The best way to gauge how much food they should eat is by reading the feeding recommendations on the back of your cat’s food. These charts will often give you an idea based on their age and weight. It is also advised that you speak with your vet if you have any questions or concerns regarding your cats eating habits.