Pet food storage and scratching posts

Scratching serves many purposes for the cat, including grooming their claws, stretching and also marking their territory.
Scratching serves many purposes for the cat, including grooming their claws, stretching and also marking their territory.

Controlling food storage mites

Storage mites are tiny bugs that can live in food. Storage mites were first found in grain silos, but can also be found in dry foodstuff, like cereal, grains and cat and dog food. People and animals can develop a hypersensitivity to these mites resulting in non- seasonal allergies.

Symptoms of storage mite hypersensitivity can include itchiness, red skin, hair loss and recurrent ear infections. (Ear infections in dogs and cats are most commonly skin infections of the outer ear canal and are usually allergy-related).

Storage mite allergies are not uncommon in dogs and cats, so it is important to store cat and dog food properly to prevent the mites from propagating.

Here are some tips for preventing food storage mites:

  • Don’t buy cat and dog food in bulk. Only purchase enough for 30 days at a time.
  • Keep most of the food in the freezer, and only have a portion of the food out and easily accessible.
  • Food that is stored at room temperature should be kept in an airtight container.This container should be washed frequently with detergent and hot (130 F) water.
  • Check food bags for tears before purchasing.
  • Dispose of pet food bags immediately outside of the house. (Transfer some food into Ziploc bags to keep in the freezer and the rest into a readily accessible airtight container).

New study evaluates what type of scratching post cats prefer

Providing a scratching post that your cat enjoys is an important part of cat husbandry and also helps to prevent damage to your home.

The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery recently published a study aimed at deter- mining cats’ scratching post preferences. This study showed that younger cats (9 years and under) preferred cat trees with two or more levels as their first choice. For this population of cats, their second choice was a simple vertical post that was more than 3 feet tall.

For older cats, this preference was flipped. Cats 10 years and above preferred the simple vertical post first, followed by the multi-level cat tree. Presumptively, older cats had a harder time jumping up onto the different levels of the cat trees.

Across the board, the scratching areas that cats liked least were those hung on the wall or placed horizontal on the floor.

Cats’ number-one preference for material was rope (like sisal scratching posts). The second preferred substrate was carpet. Hardly any cats would use a plain wood scratching post.

This seems counterintuitive, as many cats like to claw the doorjamb of the house. It is important to note, however, that scratching serves many purposes for the cat, including grooming their claws, stretching and also marking their territory. Entryways can be an important area for cats to mark.

Veterinarians have traditionally tried to encourage cat owners to place the scratching post near the area that the cat is clawing inappropriately. However, this study showed that didn’t deter inappropriate clawing. Furthermore, punishment (like a verbal reprimand or physically moving the cat from the offending area) also didn’t work.

What did seem to work to influence the cat’s selection of clawing sites was positive reward for scratching in the appropriate area. Praise, petting and food treats helped to train cats to choose the post over other undesirable areas. (To stop the clawing of inappropriate areas of the house, I recommend using the product Sticky Paws. These large, double- sided tape sheets will make an area unpleasant to claw on).

In summary, to help prevent inappropriate clawing, this article showed that choosing a rope scratching post that is greater than 3 feet tall and has more than one level is optimum. Also, praising your cat for using the post will help deter unwanted scratching of other things in your house.

Each cat is different, however, so if you provide your kitty with one type of post and he or she won’t use it, try offering a variety of post styles to see which one your kitty prefers.

Dr. Teresa Hershey is a veterinarian at Westgate Pet Clinic in Linden Hills. Email her your pet questions at [email protected] westgatepetclinicmn com.