A Closer Look at Your Cat’s Hairballs

A cat stares at a hairball on the couch.

When your cat isn’t eating, sleeping, or playing, they’re probably grooming themselves. Indeed, they are an exquisite keeper of their coat and simply won’t stand for any dirty, debris, tangles or, you guessed, dead or loose hair. As a result of their fastidiousness, they swallow a great deal of hair. Most of it passes through their digestive system without incident. But sometimes, it comes back up. 

If you’ve wondered about your cat’s hairballs from time to time (and if they really are something to worry about), we’ve got the basics for you.

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We Have Arrived! Androscoggin Animal Hospital’s Top 5 Blogs of 2020

Well, that happened. 2020 will forever be remembered for oh-so-many things. But for all that hit hard and hit home, there was one undeniable silver lining: Our pets.

Whether they’ve been trusty, longtime companions or new additions to your family, our cats, dogs, guinea pigs, and all the rest not only kept us (mostly) sane and laughing, but also reaped the benefits of life slowing down and our being home more as Covid wore on.

Not surprisingly, as folks began to spend more time with their pets, they started to have more and more questions on both what they were doing and why they were doing it; and we are so grateful that you included our blogs in your pursuit of answers. And so, we offer you our top 5 most-read blogs of 2020, just in case you missed something!

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Our Top Winter Activities for Pets

Two dogs wearing knitted hats enjoying some winter activities in the snow.

Here in the Northeast, people and pets are no strangers to winter. Figuring out how to stay active during the long months of snow, ice, wind, and cold temperatures looks different for everyone. Our pets must rely on us for their daily dose of play and exercise, however, and that means coming up with creative ways to keep them busy, regardless of what’s going on outside.

The team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital has plenty of ideas for winter activities for pets that will be sure to keep your furry guy or gal happy, even if you get snowed in!

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Nosh, Nom and Nibble: Thanksgiving Pet Safety

A grey dog eyes a Thanksgiving turkey. Ensure a safe Thanksgiving for your pet.

Whether your holiday celebration is a grand gathering or an intimate affair, chances are there will be at least one or two pets on the guest list. It’s only natural that we would want to give thanks with those we are grateful for; and, let’s face it, we are certainly grateful for our pets.

Celebrating this cozy holiday with furry family members doesn’t have to be complicated, as long as you’re mindful of which Thanksgiving foods a pet can eat, and what they need to stay away from. Thanksgiving pet safety comes in many forms, and the doctors and staff at Androscoggin Animal Hospital want to share our tips with you for a pet-friendly Thanksgiving!

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Woof! Woof! What? The Meaning Behind Dog Barks

A tan dog trying to get across the meaning of his barks.
What is your barking dog trying to tell you?

Most loving dog owners are sure they know what their dog is thinking and feeling at all times. The problem is that our furry friends don’t come with a bark dictionary, so we are left wondering what each sound actually means. 

If your dog is the chatty type, we can help decipher those barks into a relatable vocabulary. The team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital is here to explain the meaning behind dog barks.

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Should You Leash Your Pet?

In Maine it is “unlawful for any dog, licensed or unlicensed, to be at large, except when used for hunting.”

Of course, “at large” refers to a dog not under the immediate control of an owner in public places. Sure, there are many dogs that don’t get into any trouble while away from home. But to ensure their own health and safety – not to mention the wellbeing of the public – it is imperative to leash your pet dog while outdoors.

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They Do What they Want, But Do Cats Want to Swim?

You may think, “When cat’s swim!” could very well be the equivalent of “When pigs fly!” 

While it is true that some cats detest water, you may be surprised that some don’t. 

Amazingly, certain breeds are not only open to the idea of exploring water but welcome opportunities to play and even swim in it. Maine Coons, Norwegian Forest Cats, Turkish Vans, Manx, and Abyssian can easily take to the water, given the chance and a proper introduction.

Just Keep Swimming?

You may be surprised to learn that cats can swim incredibly well. In addition to some breeds actually enjoying the water, all cats naturally move in ways that resemble basic survival swimming. 

But How Do I Teach a Cat to Swim?

Many cat owners have found success by positively introducing their cat to water at an early age. The more they get used to water, the better. Kittens are more apt to acclimate to water if it’s part of their overall socialization process. But, if you approach the introduction with patience and a gentle hand, a cat of any age can learn that water is a-okay. 

Keep the splashing to a minimum and never never force cats to enter the water. Likewise, be sure the water is a comfortable temperature. 

Swimming itself presents certain challenges, some of which you may not have anticipated. For example, be sure that your cat knows how to safely exit the water. Ramps or a feline-friendly ledge can work wonders, but make sure your cat understands that.

Our Amazing, Astounding Cats

If you have questions about teaching cats to swim, overall feline behavior, cat wellness, our veterinarians and staff are always here for you!

Curb Destructive Cat Scratching Before It Gets Out Of Hand

Oddly, cats like to sleep inside cardboard boxes instead of fluffy, soft beds. They like to meow for food despite their bowls not being empty. And, undeterred by well-placed scratching posts throughout the house, they like to scratch up the furniture or curtain panels.

What’s an owner supposed to do? Well, for starters, it’s important to recognize that cats aren’t doing any of this to be irritating. With patience, guidance and positive reinforcement, you can stop destructive cat scratching in its tracks.

Feline Nature

Cat scratching provides an excellent back stretch, and it feels good in the arms and toes, too. Speaking of their toes, scratching helps to remove the dead outer sheath of the claws. Perhaps more importantly, however, is that cats leave their scent on the scratching location, which also visually communicates “I was here”.

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To Understand Feline Body Language, Look No Further Than a Cat’s Tail

The magic of cat communication may be lost on people that live exclusively among dogs. Instead of actively vying for their owner’s attention with barks or whines, a cat may simply stare. Likewise, they may not wag their rears for a treat, or lick your face with abandon, but a closely bonded cat will likely greet their person with a long, meaningful blink. 

Incredibly subtle at times, feline body language has a lot to say and it does so by way of their long, fluffy, expressive tail.

The Whole Picture

Of course, cats are known for meowing at their owners to convey their interest in food, snuggling, playtime or outside access. But perhaps more important is the fact that they use feline body language signals to get what they want, or show how they’re feeling.

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When It Comes to House Training a New Pet, It’s All In the Timing

Following the adoption of a new pet, a “honeymoon period” commences. Pet owners are understandably smitten with their new addition and forgive certain transgressions, like waking up at dawn, climbing on the furniture or leaving a puddle or pile behind. 

It takes time for newbies to learn and conform to the rules of the household, and in some cases the process of house training a new pet can be painstaking. Take heart. Getting your pet to understand when and where they can relieve themselves is an investment with sizable returns. 

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