Why you should adopt a rescue cat

Why you should adopt a rescue cat


Deciding to adopt a rescue cat is a life-changing decision that we hope you’re excited about! But before you do, here are 5 essential things to consider before choosing your feline.


  1. Having a pet is a life-changing commitment. What should people consider before adopting a cat? 

Before you adopt a cat, the first thing you should do is ensure you’re allowed to have a cat where you live. I’ve seen many heartbroken adopters forced to return their cats because their landlord finds out, their roommate is allergic, or their parents don’t allow it.

Next, think about your lifestyle and what type of cat would fit in best. Are you often busy outside your home? Shelters and rescues often have two adult cats who have grown up together and would be so grateful to go home together. It’s so heartwarming to see a pair of cats who are already friends get to stay together, and while you’re away, they’ll have each other for company and security. 

If you’re home often, you’ll have more time for an active kitty or kittens that need a lot of playtime. Some cats can even be trained to walk on a leash or go for stroller rides.

You also may want to consider bringing home a single cat. There are so many cats who are great with people but terrified of other cats. They don’t always make a great first impression on potential adopters if they’re in a shelter surrounded by other cats, but they’ll flourish once they’re in a home with you.   

And remember to keep an open mind — you’ll have the best odds of finding a great match by doing so. Don’t get hung up on the colour, sex, or age of a cat. Every cat has its own personality, so never discount a cat just because they aren’t male, female, young, a certain colour, or fluffy.

If you’re overwhelmed or unable to decide, talk to the staff and volunteers at the shelter about your lifestyle. Let them know if you live with others, including any pets and people or situations you encounter regularly, and let them guide you to the cats that they think would mesh well with your life.


  1. What should you consider before adopting a kitten?

Because they’re so cute, many people will be tempted to adopt a kitten. It’s hard not to succumb to that level of cuteness, but kittens require an extra level of care.  

Kittens are adorable but be aware that they’re more work than an adult cat. Kittens need to be fed more often and use the litter box more often. Single kittens need lots of positive reinforcement training to help them learn that biting and scratching are for toys. 

To help, I encourage adopters to open their homes to a pair of kittens. All cats have to bite and scratch — it’s feline instinct. A pair of kittens learn that biting and scratching is something they should do to each other during playtime and not to their humans.


  1. What questions should you ask during the adoption process?  

You can ask what cat food your new pet is currently eating, what kind of litter they use, and if they’ve found certain toys or scratchers the cat enjoys. Having familiar food, toys, and litter in your home can make your new companion’s transition easier. The shelter should let you know everything they know about your cat’s medical history, but be sure to ask if they don’t.

Keep in mind that many questions might be too difficult for the shelter to answer. For example, you can ask the shelter/rescue if the cat is good with other cats, but unless the shelter staff knows what the cat is like in a home with other cats, this will be tough for them to answer. That’s why it’s so beneficial for rescues and shelters to get cats into foster homes, it means you’ll have better answers about how your cat behaves in a home.


  1. What can people do to make their new feline’s transition from a shelter or foster environment to a forever home as smooth as possible?  

The most important thing to do is leave your cat alone for the first couple of days. As difficult as that sounds, it will help your cat feel like they have control in their new environment and will help them come out of their shell faster. Don’t worry if they aren’t very hungry or are hiding a lot. These things are very common, and if you give them time and space, they will emerge and show their true personality after a couple of weeks or months in their new home. It’s also a great idea to give your new cat a place to hide that’s not under furniture. Put out a box with a blanket in it or buy a cave-type bed so the cat doesn’t make a habit of hiding under furniture.


Additional Information

It’s important for everyone in the home, especially children, to meet your new cat so you can observe how they interact with them. Every child has their own unique energy, and every pet reacts differently to every child. It is a good idea to introduce your cat to one person at a time, so it isn’t overwhelming for them.

If you can’t commit to adoption, fostering is a great way to help a cat. Cats are much more comfortable in a home environment than in a shelter. As a foster parent, you can be their gateway to finding a great adopter. Virtual meet and greets allow cats to show their true personalities, and fosters can answer important questions potential adopters want to know, like do they get along with other cats/pets/kids.




Contributor: Samantha Bell, Cat Expert for Best Friends Animal Society

Samantha Bell has been working with shelter cats and cat behavior for over 20 years. She spent many years as the Cat Behaviour & Enrichment Lead for Best Friends Animal Society and as a national trainer for Jackson Galaxy’s Cat Pawsitive program. Currently, Samantha is the Cat Content Strategist for Best Friends and runs her own cat business at samanthabell.org.

Champion Petfoods is a corporate sponsor of Best Friends Animal Society


My cat is afraid of the new dog

You’ve just adopted a new dog and brought it home for the first time. However, as soon as your cat sees the new pup, he/she runs away scared. Most cats tend to be afraid of dogs and for good reason – many dogs are bigger than cats and will oftentimes chase or try to play with them, even if it’s simply out of curiosity and not aggression. Despite their differences, though, it is possible for most cats and dogs to get along and live peacefully together with a little bit of persistence, patience, and training.


Before bringing your new dog home, be sure you take a few things into consideration. Start by first assessing your cat’s personality. Does he/she get along well with strangers? If your cat tends to run away from people and other creatures, this may cause a dog to think they are playing and want to chase them. If you have an elderly cat or a cat with health issues, getting a young, energetic puppy might not be the best idea. It can also be helpful if the dog you’re adopting has previously lived with cats or if your cat has had some experience being around a dog.


Introducing your pets to each other 

When it comes time for you to introduce your new dog to your cat, be sure you do it at home. Bringing your cat to a new environment will just make things more stressful and difficult. Plus, when your cat is at home, he/she will be able to easily run and hide to their favourite spot if they’re feeling anxious. Your cat essentially has the home field advantage.


Figure out a good way to keep both of your pets separated when you bring your new dog home. One good idea is to start off by giving your cat free roam of the house while you keep your new dog confined to one room or space, such as a kennel, wire crate, or exercise pen. It might help your cat adjust easier if they have a high place to jump to (such as a bookshelf, a cat tree, etc.) so that they maintain a safe distance from the dog. If it’s possible in your home, it’s a good idea to keep your dog contained to one level and your cat to another, blocking the stairs with a gate or something your dog can’t jump over. Having a screen or baby gate can be a great option as this will allow your pets to see and sniff each other without fully interacting. Whichever way works best for you to separate them, just make sure that your cat has access to its litter box and that both pets have access to food and water without the other one getting into it.


Leashed introductions

The next step towards introducing your new dog to your cat is by allowing them to be in the same room or space, but keeping your dog secured on a leash. Start a good distance away from the cat, and don’t force any interactions between the two animals. Let them take things at their own pace. Your cat may hiss and run away, and this is normal! Eventually, your dog should settle down and ignore your cat, and your cat will then feel comfortable enough to go about his or her own business. However, this may take several days or weeks, so be patient and don’t rush it! If this does not go over well the first time, you may want to go back to the first step of keeping your animals in separate spaces. If things seem to be going smoothly, you can slowly begin to decrease the distance of their leashed interactions. Also be sure to keep your cat and dog separated any time you leave the house and during the night. 


It’s a good idea to keep your dog in a kennel or wire crate and let your cat have free roam over the house during the nighttime hours, especially since cats are nocturnal. As you are going through the process of introducing your new dog to your cat, be sure that you praise any positive behaviour from both of them. If you notice your cat bravely venturing out, give him or her verbal praise and treats. You can also praise your dog by giving treats when you notice him or her ignoring the cat or gently interacting with it.


One of the biggest things to remember when it comes to adjusting your cat to your new dog is that this will take time. Though it’s different with every animal and every situation, you should be prepared for introductions to take longer than you may anticipate. Some cats may take weeks or even months before they are fully adjusted to another animal living in their space. After a few days of your cat being comfortable with leashed introductions, you can take your dog off of its leash. Be sure to spend some time supervising your dog’s interactions with your cat, especially initially, and be ready to put your dog back on its leash if there is any aggression or rough play.


Do I need professional help?

If you notice ongoing aggression or behaviours such as snapping or growling, you may want to seek professional help. You don’t want either of your pets injuring each other, and you also don’t want to have to deal with all of this by yourself! A professional animal behaviourist will be able to help you out and give you advice for your specific situation. You also want to be sure that your cat is still eating and using their litter box regularly. If they aren’t, they may be under a lot of stress due to this significant change in their home, and you will want to seek out some advice from a professional. After all, you want both of your pets to be happy and healthy!


Having a dog and cat living in the same home may not be easy at first, but most times, both of your pets will be able to adjust and live peacefully together! Start slow and stay patient and kind towards both of your animals. They’ll be getting along with each other in no time!


Written by Petmate – www.petmate.com

Petmate exercise pen with door panel
Petmate basic hooded litter pan
ACANA Dog, Hubs

Nutrition guide for small breed dogs and puppies

ACANA Dog, Hubs

All dogs have the same physiology and their bodies are meant to consume protein-rich, primarily meat-based diets. However, small breed dogs and puppies do have additional requirements to support their specific needs that large breed dogs simply don’t.


Why do small breed dogs and puppies require different nutrition?


Small dogs generally have a higher metabolic rate than large dogs, meaning they use up the energy that food provides much quicker. This is why a dog food diet high in fat and protein is appropriate for a small breed, but not for a large breed that would require more time to burn through those calories. Smaller dogs, proportionally, have a shorter large intestinal tract than large dogs do, so their food should be crafted to be higher in protein and calories because they get a reduced chance to digest and utilize nutrients. Small breed dogs, especially mini or toy breeds, also have smaller mouths, which can make typical dry kibble difficult to crunch into smaller bite-sized pieces before swallowing—remember, dogs don’t “chew” their food the same way humans do. Kibble that is sized appropriately for small breeds is an important factor to take into consideration when selecting a food for a small dog.


Puppies, like small breed dogs, thrive on a diet that’s high in fat and protein to support the huge growth they experience in their first year of life. Large breed puppies specifically require a diet that contains an appropriate amount of minerals, like calcium and phosphorus, that will promote a slow and steady growth. In contrast, small breed puppies mature faster and they also have a lower bone mineral density compared to larger dogs so they need a different calcium phosphorus ratio than a large breed puppy.


What to look for in small breed and puppy diets


Pay close attention to the ingredients listed on the ingredient panel of the dog food you are considering. The first few ingredients are what makes up much of the food, so look for dog food where animal ingredients are listed first. ACANA® pet foods always feature premium animal sources in at least the first two ingredients of every bag.


Also pay attention to the protein content of your dog’s food. Some pet foods claim to be high-protein, but it’s the quality of the protein that really matters, so make sure the food is high in animal-derived protein, which is the most appropriate type for dogs.


Lastly, look for signs on the packaging that the food is formulated for the life stage or size of the dog. Formulas specifically aimed at puppies, like ACANA® Puppy will typically feature a higher fat content to support appropriate and healthy growth, and small breed formulas like ACANA® Adult Small Breed will usually have the added benefit of a smaller kibble size.


By following these tips and feeding a complete and balanced diet according to their life stage and size, you’re supporting a long, happy and healthy life for your small breed dog or puppy.


Dr. Darcia Kostiuk is the senior veterinarian behind ACANA pet foods. She has over 20 years of veterinary experience and is the proud pet parent of Max, Ruby, Jinxi and Ember.

West Paw Qwizl – The introduction of a great new challenge for dogs

Dogs’ brains need to be stimulated to support a happy life. If dogs get the chance they will sniff around and explore the whole day. It helps to develop their brains and also makes them more creative in finding solutions in daily life. 


The new Zogoflex toy “Qwizl” will help to stimulate dogs’ brains and it is also very durable. The perfect combination. The Qwizl can be filled with all kinds of treats and will result in long lasting fun. So your expensive dog treats will have a longer life as well and the dog has much more fun combining playing with treats. 


Be creative with your treats. If you always use the same treat, the dog won’t be challenged anymore, so vary with your treats. You can use dental sticks, bully sticks, sausages, pieces of Salmon, cheese spread or ACANA treats. 


Because the Qwizl is easy to fix between the dogs’ paws they keep motivated to get the food out of it. And therefore it is a perfect toy for all ages:


  • Young puppies (3 – 4 months) can train their mobility, are stimulated to use their nose and learn how to chew.
  • Juniors can learn to temper their energy, but still get very tired because they use their brains. 
  • Adult dogs still get motivated to play the game and like the challenge. 
  • For senior dogs that aren’t so flexible anymore it is a great toy, because they easily keep the Qwizl between their paws and don’t need to move so often. Older dogs with signs of dementia will also be triggered to use their brains. Food is a 1st necessity of life, so normally they won’t forget this.  
  • Injured dogs who are not allowed to walk a lot still need to get rid of their energy and get very often frustrated. Give them a Qwizl with food and they will be happy again.


Searching games / mentally stimulated dog toys makes dogs tired. Using their brains tires them more  than walking for an hour in the park. Therefore don’t make it too difficult and too long for puppies and very old senior dogs. Just once a day for these ages would be enough.


The Qwizl can also be perfectly used in scary or insecure situations for a dog (thunder, fireworks, strange people). As long as the dog is interested in food, they will work on the Qwizl and forget what is around. They get a positive experience with something they were afraid of. 


How to start with the Qwizl:

As with all mentally stimulating toys, always start easy for dogs to keep them motivated. Especially for puppies, dogs who have never done this and also real senior dogs, keep it simple. So fill it for instance with a few kibbles (small ones that won’t get stuck) in the Qwizl and give it to the dog. It will fall out easily if the dog moves the Qwizl and this motivates the dog to continue. Also use something that smells.


If this is easy, then add a thin stick that is still easy to fall out, but they need to be more active and to use other skills. Through the open part in the middle, the smell helps to motivate and if they start licking there the treat is getting softer. Step by step you can make it more difficult with thicker sticks. It will be harder to get the treat out of the Qwizl, but as long as they can smell it and taste it they will continue. 


See how your dog enjoys his daily treat in the Qwizl.

The Merits of a Fish-Based Diet for Pets

Authored by Dr Natanya Smit, ACANA Technical Sales Representative BSc, BVSc. 


Everyone enjoys variety in their diet – this also rings true for when it comes to selecting an appropriate diet for your furry companion. Due to its rich nutritional value, cats and dogs can also enjoy fish as a source of meat protein in their diets which also add variety. We’ve jotted down a few ideas to encourage you to consider fish as part of a meat-rich diet for your beloved pet.


Fish is a great source of protein
Your pet needs protein. Protein is the body’s building blocks. While plant and meat ingredients can contribute protein in the diet, protein derived from meat ingredients are generally more digestible and contain all the essential amino acids that your pets need. Fish as a meat ingredient is a great source of protein, containing all of the essential amino acids that your pets need in their diets to remain in tip-top health.


A fish-rich diet provides a solid source of omega-3 fatty acids
Fish based diets are a great source of animal-based omega-3 fatty acids, which have important health benefits for cats and dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties, which makes diets rich in these fatty acids a great food option for dogs and cats suffering from inflammatory conditions, such as skin allergies and joint disease. It is also good for brain health and can be included as part of a patient’s cancer treatment.


When making a food purchase for your pet, choose diets with high levels of EPA and DHA to ensure that your pet is getting all the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in their diets. These details should be disclosed on the packaging of pet foods, if it’s not, they might not be included in the diet.


Provides for rotational feeding options and variety
Rotational feeding refers to a diet rotation which provides pets with regular dietary changes. Not only does this keep them interested in their meals, by rotational feeding you add diversity to their nutrition. By exposing them to different protein sources you can help decrease the chances of your pets developing food sensitivities, this is particularly impactful when rotational feeding is introduced at a young age.


Provides an alternative protein source for dogs with food sensitivities
Dogs with food sensitivities might itch or show gastrointestinal signs such as diarrhoea and vomiting. In these instances, you might limit the reaction by feeding a limited ingredient diet with a ‘novel’ meat protein, or one your dog hasn’t had exposure to. Look out for credible vet-based brands which offer at least 50% in fish ingredients and ones which don’t contain poultry or grains as these have often been linked to food-related allergic reactions in dogs.


A brand readily available to the South African pet lover is ACANA. Their Pacifica and Wild Coast options meet this criterion and provide a suitable sustainably sourced option.


With these points in mind, now you can make an informed and bold choice in a suitable meaty, fish-based diet for your pet next time you’re filling up your shopping cart.

Women on the Frontlines in the Conservation Battle

Women are known for never taking a backseat when it comes to conservation.  The world has been graced with many fearless stalwarts who have led in the way of wildlife conservation. Every day, these heroes put it all on the line in a concerted effort to battle wildlife trafficking, poaching, and the destruction of the habitat of at-risk species, preventing the decimation of our wildlife populations.  


A few of these women include the iconic zoologist Dian Fossey, primatologist Dame Jane Goodall, or South Africa’s very own Ann van Dyk, who is known for her care for our cheetah population. Undoubtedly, women the world over, are tenacious and unrelenting in their efforts to safeguard nature. 


Three other notably heroic women are Esther Matthew, specialist conservation officer at the Endangered Wildlife Trust’s Drylands Conservation Programme, Southern African Wildlife College’s chief executive officer, Theresa Sowry and Vicki Hudson, conservation intelligence manager at the CapeNature Conservation Detection Dog project.


This field of ‘canine conservation detection’ is highly specialised and is a novel approach locally. In fact, the CapeNature Conservation Detection Dog project is one of the first live target conservation detection programmes operational in South Africa. This means these clever and unique hounds are trained to help track living endangered species to ensure their future population growth in a safe and secure environment unaffected by human activities.


Leading the way as a fearless female and trusty canine


Esther and her trusty female partner Jessie, a Border Collie and scent detection dog, are on a mission to save some of South Africa’s critically endangered species. Their Drylands programme operates in the vast Karoo, and they work collaboratively with landowners and communities to promote, sustain, secure and restore the ecological integrity of this area’s biodiversity. 


Trained by Esther to assist the team, Jessie, has been instrumental in locating rare African Giant Bullfrogs underground, and the critically endangered Riverine Rabbit, helping to ensure their long-term survival. 


Commenting on challenges in her field, Esther believes that one of the biggest challenges women face in this field is being underestimated. There is a perception that women are not tough enough for the fieldwork required to do conservation work. However, Esther believes that the best way to overcome this is to change others’ perceptions by proving them wrong and taking up challenges when some say it can’t be done!


Providing the fuel to help keep the pioneering pooches in shape 


ORIJEN sponsors the Drylands initiative’s detection dogs with its Biologically Appropriate dog food, featuring an unmatched 85% meat content. This meat-based diet provides everything these valiant scent detection dogs need to thrive and do a sterling job in identifying and saving vulnerable species.


Another project which is supported by ORIJEN pet food through the sponsorship of nutritious food, is the Southern African Wildlife College (SAWC)’s counter-poaching K9 unit, which sees these furry heroes being used in the fight against rhino poaching. The College’s free tracking (off-leash) dogs have to date, in conjunction with the on-lead dogs,  saved approximately 47 rhinos which have in turn, led to 152 poacher arrests and 65 rifles recovered since the project’s inception in February last year. “The free-tracking hounds have been the game changer. The hounds’ “noses”, speed and stamina allow them to track much faster than a human or on-leash dog can, often  across rough terrain,” said Theresa Sowry. In her role as CEO, she is a stand-out conservationist and businesswoman leading efforts to save our rhinos, securing great global support and funding for her efforts.


Not only are these persistent canines tracking poachers and our famous larger mammals, the CapeNature Conservation Detection Dog project sees dogs being trained to find no less than five species of tortoises, each of which have their own unique scent. Vicki Hudson in her role at CapeNature, sees to it that their four-legged conservation heroes locate cryptic and camouflaged species of conservation concern such as the critically endangered Rose’s Mountain Toadlet. 


Together with their fearless female human companions, the dogs have participated in numerous search and rescue operations, salvaging tortoises from death by fire, lack of food and water from the drought and even bulldozers when a piece of land they live on is being developed.


ORIJEN salutes the work being done by these remarkable two and four-legged conservation heroes.  “South Africa’s natural heritage and remarkable wildlife is being saved while endangered species are preserved for generations to come. We are grateful that we are able to support these remarkable efforts and salute these female conservationists during Women’s Month.”

Benefits of a Meat-Based Diet

Is your pet eating enough meat?


As a pet owner, did you know that biologically, your furry companion depends on drawing the bulk of their nutrition from a meat-based diet in order to remain in good health?  Here are a few reasons why: 


Dogs and cats are naturally carnivorous.  A clear indication of this is made by observing their teeth – long, pointy canines show that these animals were designed to tear up and consume meat as their main nutritional source.  Cats are obligate carnivores; meaning that they must eat the tissues of other animals in order to thrive.  Dogs share more than 99% of their DNA with the modern-day grey wolf and they too should be fed a diet rich in meat.


There are countless benefits to embracing a meat-based diet for your pet.  It provides for a great protein source which is important for building strength, healthy bodies and shiny coats.  It also helps your pet maintain an ideal body condition and gives them a satisfying feeling of ‘fullness’ after a meal. 


Puppies & kittens especially benefit from animal proteins which provide all the amino acid building blocks a growing canine and feline need. Animal fat is a great source of energy and it is important to note that fatty acids are used by the body to promote better brain and nerve development. Meat also provides essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorus which are important for developing the bones and joints of young pups and kittens.


It is possible to feed a plant-based diet with supplements to a carnivore like a dog but, this isn’t necessarily the best source of these nutrients. Plant-based diets contain plant proteins which are not nutritionally complete and require supplementation and also contain high levels of carbohydrates for which dogs and cats have no need. It may be cheaper to feed your pet a plant-based diet, but what is the true cost in terms of overall health and well being? A meat-based diet contains all the nutrients that dogs and cats need naturally with little or no need for supplementation.  


Choosing a meat-based diet: 

Not all meat-based diets are created equal.  Be sure to read the label before making a pet food purchase.  Here are key points which will help guide you in making the best decision for your pet:


  1. Look out for products that contain no less than 50% meat content in the list of ingredients.
  2. Consider whole prey meat inclusions with organ meat (in the correct ratios) for your pet’s diet, which is a great way to introduce concentrated and natural sources of virtually every nutrient your dog needs to thrive, as these include all essential vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, and vital amino acids. Densely packed with nearly every nutrient, including heavy doses of B vitamins, organ meats such as kidney, liver and tripe are loaded with the minerals phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, and iodine.
  3. Meatier diets offer more variety when feeding at mealtime. Rotational feeding of different protein sources such as lamb, poultry, pork and fish will help keep your pet interested in their meal and decrease the chances of them developing sensitivities. 
  4. Consider more sustainable choices by selecting brands that use free-run poultry, nest-laid eggs and wild-caught fish to minimise your pet’s environmental impact.


We hope that this inspired you to make more discerning food choices for your pets next time you’re out picking up a bag of food.  If you’re not doing so already, maybe trial them on a meat-based diet and see the positive differences for yourself.