Domestic Cats Face Dangers From Urban Coyotes

The US National Park Service recently completed a two-year study on the diet of coyotes in the Los Angeles, California area.  The results indicate that our cats could be at greater risk for being eaten by coyotes than we thought.

Researchers analyzed over 3,200 samples of coyote poop (called scat) from Los Angeles and surrounding communities.  They also compared the urban coyote samples with samples from more suburban areas that are closer to their natural habitat.

They found that the diet of urban coyotes was influenced by living so close to humans.  The coyotes routinely ate human food scraps and commercial pet food.  They also ate a lot of ornamental fruits commonly found in our gardens.

Unfortunately, free-roaming cats–and even cats allowed outside but restricted to enclosed yards–are also on the menu for urban coyotes.  Domestic cat remains were found in 20% of the scat, the third most common component after human and pet foods and ornamental fruits.

The scat of coyotes from more rural areas had only 4% of domestic cat and it also had less human and pet food and ornamental fruit remains.  Rabbits were the most common part of the non-urban coyotes’ diet.

Pet owners in areas with high numbers of coyotes should always keep their cats indoors.  Small dogs can also be at risk, so it’s important to walk your dog on leash and never leave your dog in the yard unattended.

Make sure your trash can lids are secure and avoid leaving bowls of pet food outside as well.  Experts also recommend avoiding bird feeders and ornamental fruit trees to discourage coyote visits to your back yard.

You can find a lot of helpful information on keeping your pets safe from coyotes on the Urban Coyote Initiative website HERE.

 

How to Find Quality Pet Nutrition Information Online

Pet owners commonly seek out dog and cat food information online, whether it’s product reviews, advice on alternative diets, or how to manage your pet’s weight.

But how do you know if the information you are looking at is trustworthy and accurate?

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has created two helpful guides for finding quality dog and cat nutrition information online.

 

Here are a few important tips (be sure to check out the full guides and other great pet resources on the WSAVA website):

  • Research the credentials of authors of the materials you are reading.  Advice from a certified veterinary nutritionist is more reliable than information put out by pet owners and pet food companies.
  • Be aware if a website’s address is a .com (commercial), .edu (educational), or .org (non-profit).  This can make a difference in the quality of the information.
  • Check to see if any statements or claims are backed up by legitimate sources.  Does the article link to any references, and are they quality references?  Research studies are better sources than promotional materials.

  • Make sure the information you are reading is recent and up to date, as veterinary medicine is always changing.
  • Be especially careful of any anecdotal information, such as pet owners stating that their pets were “cured” by a particular product.

  • Many articles about the “best” pet foods or ones that rate pet foods come from websites that get financial compensation if you click on a product link (such as Amazon affiliate websites).  View these sites with plenty of caution.
  • When in doubt about any information about pet nutrition you find online…ask your veterinarian for guidance and advice!

 

Pet Tornado Safety Tips

With the unusually high number of damaging tornadoes hitting the US in the past few weeks, many pet owners may be wondering how to best keep their dogs, cats, and other pets safe from harm during tornadoes and severe thunderstorms.

We’ve gathered some of the best expert advice and compiled the following tornado safety tips for pets.  (Be sure to create a disaster plan for your pets, no matter what types of natural disasters your region of the world may face.)

  • Make sure all your pets are microchipped and have up to date ID tags.
  • Your emergency supply kit for severe weather should also include items for your pets, such as food, water, bedding, and leash.

  • Keep dogs and cats indoors during any severe weather event.  During tornado warnings, bring your pets to safe locations in the house.  It’s best to keep cats crated.
  • In the event your pet escapes, make sure you have a current identifying photograph, and know the locations of all local animal shelters.
  • Small pets like guinea pigs and rabbits should be placed in carriers in a tornado-safe location in the house.

  • Birds can be especially sensitive to stress.  Monitor your bird’s health for several days after a severe weather event.  Always keep your birds caged so they don’t escape.
  • Aquariums should be moved under tables or covered with padding to keep the glass from breaking.
  • If you have advance warning that severe weather is on the way, the best plan is to evacuate with your pets until the threat is over.

 

Video: Construction Workers Rescue Stowaway Kittens from Steel Column

Five tiny kittens made big news here in San Diego recently!  Workers on a construction site were surprised to hear meows coming from a 60 foot steel column that had traveled hundreds of miles from Hayward to San Diego on a truck.

After failing to coax the kittens out with food, the workers had to tip the long tube over and slide them out.  Inside were a litter of 3 males and 2 females, just one week old!

Rescuers from the San Diego Humane Society came to the construction site and brought the kittens to SDHS’s 24 hour kitten nursery.

The kittens—named Crowbar, Rebar, Chisel, Jackhammer, and Piper—are now 4 weeks old and in foster care, where they will remain until they are ready for adoption at 8 weeks.

Check out the heartwarming video from San Diego Humane here:

 

Vets Explain Health Risks of Homemade Cat Food Diets

Researchers at the University of California–Davis have found that homemade diets for cats are often lacking in essential nutrients and could even contain potentially toxic ingredients.

The study, shared in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, evaluated over 100 published recipes and found significant problems with almost all of them.

Most of the recipes, even those written by vets, lacked three or more essential feline nutrients, such as zinc, iron, thiamine, and vitamin E.

Some of the recipes contained ingredients that are toxic to cats, including garlic, onion, and leek.  Some also included bones, which can damage the gastrointestinal system.

Many of the recipes also lacked adequate preparation and feeding instructions, forcing readers to make assumptions about how to make the food and how much to feed their cats.

Feline health experts note that the trend of homemade pet food diets, while popular for dogs, can be trickier for cats because of their unique nutritional requirements as true (or “obligate”) carnivores.

Cats require certain specific nutrients (like taurine) that are only found in animal proteins in order to survive.  The safest option for cat owners is to buy high-quality commercial cat food.

Sometimes vets will recommend a homemade diet for medical reasons, but it’s important to follow a diet that has been created by a certified veterinary nutritionist.