09 Oct

How To Groom A Cat That Hates It

I literally stole this article title “how to groom a cat that hates it” off a Google search for basic cat grooming. It made me laugh. I wasn’t sure if people searching for this information were looking for ideas in how to wrestle a cat into submission, armour themselves for a battle, or attempt bribery and distraction.
Grooming is an act of love between individuals. It should be enjoyable and a wonderful bonding experience. Although this may be true, how does it become so unpleasant between some individuals? We need to step back and get the background story.

Here are nine reasons cat grooming goes awry:

1. “What’s in it for me?” First, take a look at grooming from the cat’s perspective. Is it enjoyable? Rewarding? Trusting humans is a delicate thread. With no bred-in desire to please like a dog, you have to give the cat a reason to want to do this. 

2. The cat wasn’t handled and groomed while young. Obviously it’s a crucial opportunity missed. If started young, any pet learns that grooming is just part of the scenery. It’s a normal activity, no biggie, and it’s quality time spent with the guardian.

3. You didn’t start grooming until there was a problem. Aren’t cats supposed to “groom themselves”? For the most part, not  all cats have ideal hair, weight, and overall health to make self-care a breeze. The guardian goes from oversight to suddenly being all over the issue pestering the cat. Rightfully, the cat  believes you are Jekyll and Hyde. Problem areas are usually painful, uncomfortable, or difficult to get to. Grooming becomes a contest of wills, not a bonding experience.

4. You are using the wrong grooming tools. There is a lot of bad information on the web about appropriate cat grooming tools. There are training tools, and work tools. For example, use a “feel good” tool for training and reward, and an aluminum comb to do the actual grooming work somewhere in the midst of a grooming session. Be sure to use all grooming tools on yourself first to have a good idea of how it actually works and feels. If the tool is uncomfortable, or you would never use it on your own (8x coarser) hair and scalp, don’t use it on your cat.

5. Doing too much at once. If you haven’t been practicing previously, you can’t subsequently expect a cat to have patience for a grooming session more than a minute or two long. It takes time for a cat to build up trust and patience with you. First start with the good enjoyable stuff, and then sneak in one hard-to-get-to spot, and finish on a positive. Finally, keep sessions short enough so that you quit before the cat does. Short and frequent grooming trumps intermittent and arduous. Build on the good stuff.

6. Wrong time, wrong place. For instance, never be in a rush or attempt cat grooming during rush hours in your home. Find a quiet time and place. No interruptions, no distractions. It’s quality time for both of you.

7. Former traumatic experience. Formerly, has your cat had a fear inducing experience? It could be something like bathing or falling in the tub. Maybe a shavedown that pushed the cat too far with multiple people holding it down. Possibly declawing. What ever it may have been, your cat is caught in a fear-based defensive feedback loop anytime it is handled by a person. Only slow, patient rehabilitation using empathic strategies will overcome a PTSD-like fear, or hatred of cat grooming.

8. Level the playing field. Cats are armed with sharp claws and teeth. You’ve just got your wits. In this case wear long sleeves and pants. Groom in your lap with a towel wrap for shy or nervous cats, or on a slippery surface to reduce traction and leverage for the runaways or swatters. In case you are worried about being bitten, use an elizabethan collar, or welding gloves. Surprising, most cats quit arguing when you’ve proven you can ignore and thwart their offence.

9. You are not the original owner. Kudos to you for giving a cat a new home! Undoubtedly you can build trust following all the other recommendations above.

I haven’t told you how to groom a cat that hates it. Instead I have given you direction and mindfulness strategies you need to start over. The goal is, with time and patience, the cat will come to at least tolerate basic grooming, and learn to enjoy it. Every cat and custodian relationship and history is different. If the cat’s grooming needs are beyond what you’re capable of, seek a certified professional cat groomer to get you back on track. Thereafter, work on maintaining the reboot, and go for professional seasonal tune-ups.


28 Oct

Should You Bathe A Cat?

Yes, you should bathe a cat. How often depends on the health, age, and habits of your cat.   People with animal allergies react to the proteins in the skin dander. However, more people are allergic to cats because they also cover themselves with saliva which also has proteins.
 
Just for fun I put together a little infographic comparing professional cat grooming with old fashion spit and tongue.

If I licked myself all over would you hug me?

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06 Sep

The Importance of Regular Cat Grooming: A Key to Cat Health

Regular cat grooming is essential for maintaining your feline companion’s health and avoiding expensive grooming issues. Neglecting maintenance can lead to problems such as mats, imbedded nails, fecal buildup, excessive shedding, allergies, parasites, dandruff, hairballs, and ear and eye infections. By addressing these issues through a consistent grooming routine, you can prevent costly grooming visits and ensure your cat’s happiness and well-being.

Proactive maintenance prevents expensive repairs

Why is regular maintenance vital? Much like a well-maintained car or a proactive approach to personal health, prioritizing cat grooming repairs helps minimize the risk of unexpected issues and expenses. Neglecting grooming needs can result in expensive stressful situations and a higher likelihood of expensive veterinary bills.

When it comes to grooming repairs, prevention is key. Regular maintenance visits are tailored to your cat’s specific needs. This is based on factors such as coat type, age, lifestyle, and your at-home grooming routine. Tailoring the maintenance schedule to your cat’s individual needs ensures health and cost-effective care.

For instance, if you have a young, active, short-haired cat and engage in regular at-home combing, your cat may only need professional grooming once a season. This helps control shedding and eliminates saliva and dander buildup. Regular bathing at least every twelve weeks also promotes hygiene, ensuring a clean living space for both you and your pet. However, if shedding, odour, dandruff or matting become persistent issues, more frequent maintenance visits are necessary.

On the other hand, if you have an older, long-haired cat with medical conditions or weight issues and are unable to manage regular at-home grooming, your cat may require professional grooming as often as every four weeks. Some cats require more frequent grooming to manage health issues and ensure hey are comfortable and happy.

The cost of grooming repairs increases when grooming has been neglected. More extensive repairs take longer, requiring additional time for bathing, drying, combing, and de-matting. A cat in poor condition is often stressed, uncomfortable, and upset, requiring extra effort and time, leading to increased costs. Considering these factors, prioritizing regular maintenance visits is not only proactive for your cat’s well-being but also a cost-effective choice.

One visit isn’t enough to prevent future grooming issues

While some clients dismiss the importance of regular maintenance. They assume a single visit can fix all grooming issues. It’s important to remember that cats, their hair, skin, health, and their environment is dynamic and constantly changing. To encourage awareness of preventable chronic problems, it may be necessary to highlight the financial impact. By understanding that neglecting maintenance leads to increased grooming expenses, clients are more likely to prioritize regular scheduled visits.

To our loyal clients who already embrace regular cat maintenance, we genuinely appreciate your commitment to your cat’s well-being. We express our gratitude for your trust.

To new clients, we welcome you! We are eager to guide you on the right path after your first, and hopefully only, “kitty repair” session.

For sporadic clients, we apologize. You will be charged appropriately due to irregular visits.

Remember, by prioritizing regular cat grooming, you not only promote your cat’s physical health but also save your cat from unnecessary discomfort. Investing in preventive maintenance to ensure your cat remains healthy, happy, and free from preventable grooming issues.

 
 

 

 

29 Jun

To Trim or Not to Trim: Understanding Cat Paw Hair

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In the pet grooming world, it’s a dog-centric world out there. So while it is the norm to trim the hair on the paws of a dog, is it o.k. for cats?

 

Do you need to trim cat paw hair?

In the world of pet grooming, the focus has been primarily on dogs, leading to a lack of understanding when it comes to cat grooming practices. One common question is whether it’s ok to trim the hair on a cat’s paws. In this article, we will explore the considerations of tradition and practicality when it comes to cat paw hair care.


Tradition and Practicality: Differences Between Dogs and Cats

Traditionally, the hair around a dog’s paws is trimmed due to practical working reasons. Dogs accumulate more dirt and debris between their toes because they are heavier with larger, deep pads, In contrast, cats, with shallow pads and lighter step, do not collect the same volume of debris unless their pads or litter-box are exceptionally dirty. Think of the accumulative difference of snow or mud between cat and dog paws and you get the picture.

There are a couple of exceptional dog breeds that require the hair on the paws NOT to be trimmed at shows. The Pekingese and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel were strictly indoor and formerly “palace” breeds whose paw slippers are traditionally adored.

Unique Features of Cat Paw Hair

Most people are unaware that cats have tactile hairs on more than just their head. Commonly known as whiskers, they are also along the back ridge of their limbs and between their pads. These whiskers provide sensory feedback from vibrations in their environment. If you’re uncomfortable about the notion of cutting your cat’s facial whiskers, then don’t trim their other sensory whiskers.

Cat Breed Standards and Toe Tuffs

Purebred cat breed standards highly prize toe tuffs. Cat fanciers actually fluff and accentuate the hair on the paws for cat shows. As a pet owner, it is worth considering trimming the toe tuffs if they are causing any problems, such as spreading litter box debris. All that’s needed to prevent this issue is regular bathing to remove sticky residue from the pads. Another consideration for paw trimming may be for elderly cats, or those lacking mobility or traction. However, be aware that trimming the toe hair will result in raw blunt whisker ends, rather than the natural supple tapered point.

Grooming Practices: Dog Groomers vs. Certified Cat Groomers

Although dog groomers automatically trim pet paws, a knowledgeable certified cat groomer will not trim toe tuffs unless specifically requested.

When it comes to cat paw hair care, there are considerations of tradition and practicality to keep in mind. Unlike dogs, cats do not usually need the hair on their paws to be trimmed. The presence of tactile hairs (whiskers) and passion for toe tuffs in cat breed standards further highlight the beauty of cat paw hair. In case practical problems such as litter box debris or lack of traction, trimming the paw hair may be necessary. Understand that this results in blunt raw tactile ends. When seeking grooming services, it is advisable to consult a certified cat groomer who understands the specific needs of feline grooming.

06 Jun

Why Cat Hair May Not Grow Back: The Dangers of Shaving or Trimming Cat Hair

Post-clipping alopecia, the condition where hair fails to regrow after shaving or trimming, is a common concern among cat owners. While this situation is well-known in dogs, it is less discussed regarding cats. To understand why hair may not grow back after trimming, it is crucial to understand the cat hair growth cycle.

Understanding the Hair Cycle

Hair follicles, which are pockets within the skin, are present in cats from birth. Hair consists of specialized skin cells that require stimulation to grow. The exact mechanisms behind this stimulation are not yet fully understood.

In a normal hair cycle, follicles form, grow to a predetermined length, and then sheds. The cycle repeats continuously. Hair length varies depending on genetics and the location of growth.

The hair growth cycle consists of four stages:

  1. Anagen: The growth stage
  2. Catagen: The end of active growth
  3. Telogen: The resting phase
  4. Exogen: The shedding stage

How long each stage of the hair growth cycle lasts is influenced by factors such as health, age, gender, location, and breed. Additionally, neighboring hair follicles may be in different stages of growth. Consequently, regrowth after trimming can be delayed depending on what phase the majority of hair was in.

Other Factors to Consider

Certain cat breeds such as Rexes already have unique hair structure making them the most vulnerable to halted hair regrowth. Several other underlying factors can impact hair regrowth, including general health, hormones, seasonal changes, nutrition, temperature, and daylight hours. Illness and stress can trigger a premature shift into the exogen phase of the hair cycle, while dry and brittle hair may indicate poor nutrition. Veterinary advice is advisable in such cases.

For a normal, healthy cat, regrowing a full coat can take anywhere from 3 to 18 months, depending on breed and hair length. Hair regrowth may stop after clipping because the skin follicles may be predominately in a catagen or telogen phase. In such instances, it may take cats 6 months to 2 years to regrow their hair fully.

Disrupting Nature’s Design

Cat hair is not the same as human hair. Humans have continuously growing guard hair that is 8x coarser in texture which emerges from a single follicle. Our average active growth phase is around 7 years. Cats comparatively possess a double coat comprised of finer guard hairs and a downy undercoat. Their average active growth cycle is 6 to 18 months, and a single cat hair follicle can produce 5-7 awl hairs and one guard hair.

Cat guard hair acts as protective weatherproofing, similar to shingles on a roof. Guard hair has a crisp texture due to a tight melanin structure and smooth cuticles. The downy awl hair is softer with rougher cuticles and provides insulation.

Repeatedly trimming the hair weakens the guard hair shaft as it attempts to continue growing. Frequent shaving can ultimately lead to the complete stall of guard hair growth. Without guard hairs to protect the body from the elements, the thickened downy awl hair becomes the dominant growth, leaving the cat with only its fuzzy undercoat. This undercoat attracts and absorbs more dirt, leading to matting issues. The end result is an unnatural and damaged hair environment.

While there can be valid reasons to consider hair trimming, it is essential to recognize the possible long-term effects of disrupting the natural hair cycle.

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09 Mar

Cat Bites During Grooming: How to Treat and Prevent Infections

When the Cat Bites

Cat bites can have serious implications, and it is crucial to understand their potential risks and proper treatment methods. Unlike dog bites that may appear visibly bruised and messy, cat bites are deceptive and can lead to severe infections. In fact, according to medical professionals, even seemingly minor cat bites can result in infection in 80% of cases. As professional cat groomers, we encounter cats with varying temperaments and understand the importance of minimizing risks for both the felines and groomers. In this article, we will explore the best practices for treating cat bites and preventing infections during grooming sessions.

Cats often resort to biting as a defensive reaction rooted in fear. They bite and run. Grooming sessions may require intensive handling, sometimes invading on personal feline spaces to address specific grooming issues. As professional cat groomers, our main goal is to reduce these fears and make the grooming process less overwhelming. It is crucial to recognize and respect a cat’s comfort zone, as handling a fractious cat beyond its limits can lead to bites.

Cats possess remarkable agility, speed, and eighteen sharp claws, along with their fangs. Each cat has its own tolerance for handling and level of trust in humans. It is essential not to underestimate the potential danger and falsely assume that protective gloves or cat muzzles will keep you safe against cat bites. Cats can easily penetrate these defenses, as their teeth are designed to puncture skin, deposit bacteria, which then festers deep within the tissues.

A Cat’s Mouth Harbours Many Infectious Bacterias

A cat’s mouth harbors various bacteria that can cause infections. One of the most common pathogens is Pasteurella multocida, known for its high pathogenicity. Infected bite wounds typically exhibit redness, swelling, and pain within a few hours. If left untreated, the infection can spread through the surrounding tissues, leading to cellulitis. In more severe cases, the infection can enter the bloodstream, causing septicemia, commonly known as blood poisoning. Infected individuals may experience symptoms such as fever, flu-like symptoms, tissue loss, and in rare instances, death, particularly among the elderly, children, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

Several cases within the grooming industry have demonstrated the gravity of cat bites. What may initially appear as a small puncture wound on the hand can escalate into a severe infection that spreads through the bloodstream and up the arm. Treatment often can require weeks of intravenous antibiotic transfusions at the hospital to halt the infection and prevent further tissue damage. Some individuals may need physiotherapy to regain lost hand strength. Others may even require emergency surgery to reduce tissue damage. Ignoring a cat bite can result in prolonged work absences or even the end of a grooming career.

What to Do When You Have Been Bitten By A Cat

If you find yourself on the receiving end of a cat bite, it is crucial to take immediate action:

  1. Rinse, rinse, rinse the wound thoroughly with flowing water for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the blood to flow. Diluting the bacteria is the first step in preventing infection.
  2. Use an antiseptic cleaner such as iodine or Dettol and refrain from bandaging the wound. Let it drain.
  3. Seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY. Do not wait to see if an infection develops, as it can spread rapidly, causing tissue damage or enter the bloodstream. Although wait times in the physician’s office can be lengthy, prompt medical assessment is vital, especially within the first 24 hours.
  4. Consider tracking the spread of infection by marking the inflamed area with a pen every two hours. Monitoring the speed of infection can provide valuable information during the initial critical period.

Refrain from treating a puncture wound with hydrogen peroxide or antibiotic creams. It is essential to note that while antiseptics can reduce surface microorganisms, internal tissue infections require antibiotics for effective treatment.

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21 Dec

The Dirty Truth About Indoor Cats

Dirty? Yes, contrary to what most people believe about the indoor lifestyle, in my professional cat groomer experience, the indoor cats are dirtier than the indoor/outdoor cats. Before you pou pou my statement in disbelief, read further.

All animals appreciate being clean. It’s vital to their long term health. In a natural environment, on their own time, cats will seek out light rainy days, roll in snow,  sit under downspouts, and are not adverse to the occasional swim. They do this to rinse away impurities and simply because it feels good. So the old myth about cats grooming themselves was largely helped by the fact that they seeked bathing themselves regularly, and didn’t reply just on spit. Unless a indoor/outdoor cat has mishaps with unnatural products, like motor oil, or has extra long hair, they can stay in relatively decent condition during their prime years, needing a bath only occasionally.

An indoor cat does not get the opportunity to rinse away the layers of food, or litterbox debris. In fact the natural oils in the hair plus salvia can just keep building up until dirt and loose hair get stuck together creating mats. The indoor environment also means indoor lighting and thus, shedding year round. Your feline roommate is also slathering themselves daily with saliva which has five known allergens. Would you live with someone who never properly bathed? This is why so many cats are attracted to water dripping from sinks. They want to be clean. The trend to keep cats indoors puts the onus on us to regularly have them properly groomed and bathed so they can be as clean as they naturally like to be.

Keeping cats indoors is a prudent decision because the indoor/outdoor lifestyle is fraught with dangers like feline viruses, vehicles, predators, getting lost, and malicious humans. “Catios” are a great, safe alternative for the cats who love the outdoors. Indoor cats live an average of three times longer. As a responsible pet lover, I wouldn’t let a dog roam free, and neither would I let a cat. My pets are bathed regularly because they share my living space, they stay clean and healthy, and I can enjoy cuddling them anytime!

04 Dec

Company’s Coming! A Hairy Christmas is not A-Mewsing

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During the hustle and bustle of Christmas, we often forget our cats need to receive guests too. We include our dogs in the festivities but not our cats. Why is that? While many cats prefer to hide during holiday home invasions of their territory, their presence is still felt and known by your guests.

With one quarter of your guests allergic to cats it makes sense to wash away the offending dander before they arrive. You want your guests to be comfortable, enjoy their stay, and not be in allergenic misery the whole visit. You just know that when the lights are out, to a-mews itself, your cat will visit the most allergic person while they are sleeping, or curl up in their luggage. Washing also gets rid of any tiny particles of litter box debris they spread anywhere they stroll…like the kitchen counters or tables.

Your guests may not be aware of the favorite cat chair until they are covered with the hair left behind, or your guests may unwittingly collect swirls of cat hair on their telltale dark socks. A hairy Christmas just shouldn’t be on the menu. A cleansing bath, de-shed treatment and professional blow dry can take care of that. You may even consider a hair trim for the holidays.

Holiday wear and decorations with it’s sparkles and textures can be very enchanting for your cat’s curiousity,
but beware the damage that can be wrought with untrimmed nails. A nail trim or nail caps can take of that problem especially in festive holiday colours!

If your cat is a socialite and loves to join the party, a soft, clean and fluffy-fresh cat is a joy to behold
. Your cat will not be well received if it is smelly, greasy, or decorated with  dandruff, or offending mats of hair. A clean cat is also a happier, more social cat.

Use common sense and protect your cat concerning open doors, alluring tinsel, poisonous plants, electrical cords, and decadent food over the holidays. Wishing everyone a safe and festive holiday season!


04 Nov

The Unsavory, Often Forgotten, Topic of Cat Anal Glands

Feline anal glands is a rather gross subject, but it is necessary to beware of the signs of a potential problem before it becomes a trip to the vet.

Anal gland problems are more often associated with dogs, but cats can have problems too. All predators have oil sacs located at 4 and 8 o’clock around the anus. Skunks use them in chemical warfare, while dogs and cats use them to identify one another. Each time a stool passes a small amount of the oil is deposited on the stool leaving an individual signature unique to that animal. This is why cats and dogs will smell each other’s rear ends in greeting.

Sometimes these glands get clogged up creating an impaction. This can happen because a lack sufficient fiber in the diet, dehydration, poor fitness, or genetic predisposition. The symptoms of a problem can be “scooting” which is rubbing the bottom along the ground to try and release the pressure. This is accompanied by a smear with a super smelly deposit on carpeting. Other symptoms include a pungent “fishy” smell, biting or licking at the anus, and frequent trips to the litterbox with no apparent relief.

If bacteria gets into the gland, the area can become swollen, red and sore. Cats will often start avoiding the litterbox because of the association of straining with the pain of the infection. Often cats that are suspected of having a urinary problem because of not using the litterbox, turn out to have an anal gland problem.

If the infection continues undiagnosed it can become a very painful abscess. At this point the gland has swollen to the maximum with pus and has bust through the posterior wall surrounding the anus. You can only imagine how unhappy any creature with an infection or abscess around the anus could be. 

An accredited cat groomer will check the anal glands from the exterior during the bath to ensure everything is functioning as it should. Should there be signs of swelling or the glands do not drain easily, the cat will be referred to a veterinary for an interior expression of the glands. Excessive force by an amateur can damage or increase the potential for infection. Cats that are diagnosed with an infection or abscess will have their glands drained by a veterinary and then given a course of antibiotics. Cats with a chronic problem may have their glands removed through surgery.

Thanks for wadding through a pungent but important topic about your cat’s health, and be thankful I didn’t include pictures. 🙂

08 Oct

6 Steps To Break The Cycle of Matting In Cats

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Some cats seem to get shaven repetitively  without ever having the opportunity to look and feel their finest. Here’s how you can set a new precedent for your cat and improve the quality of life for both of you.

The first thing we have to realize is what exactly causes mats? It’s a simple equation: 

Moisture + Loose hair + Dirt/grease = Mats

Take one of those ingredients out of the equations, and you are unlikely to have mats. 

The other thing you must realize is that mats are very painful. It causes bruising and sores, and every step can become painful. It can turn a sweet cat into a miserable angry creature. Turning a blind eye to mats is willful neglect and completely inhumane.

Moisture is unavoidable with cats, because they lick spit all over themselves for about 40% of their active time. Not only does cat spit have five known allergens, when it dries it leaves flakes floating along the surface of the hair. So what you may have assumed was dry skin, is actually dried salvia. 
Loose hair is particularly a problem for long-haired, overweight, elderly, or depressed/stressed cats. They just can’t effectively address the removal of all the dead hair as it sheds out. Skin sheds too. That’s the larger greeny yellow greasy flakes floating on the surface of the hair.  
Dirt/Grease build-up is a no-brainer. Cats are naturally greasy to be weatherproof. Would you want to live with a room-mate that didn’t shower for months?

1. Become aware of the condition of your cat’s fur. This means regularly caressing and checking for excessive dirt or grease, dandruff, shedding, and the first tell-tale thick areas that are just about to fuse into mats.

2. Take ownership of your own set actions and attitude. Not all cats are great self-groomers. Admit there is a problem and help is needed. Either get out the comb and step up your home grooming regularly, or get professional help to find the right right maintenance schedule to keep your cat in healthy condition.

3. Purposely observe by looking for changes in behaviour and health. How often are they self-grooming? A healthy cat grooms 40% of their wake time. Has the condition of their skin and hair changed due to aging or stress? Can they reach everywhere they need to? Do they have poor quality hair?

4. Evaluate your present routine. Do you feed grocery or premium brands? When is the last time your cat had a check-up? Do you truly know whether your cat is healthy or do you just assume so? Cats are exceptional at hiding illness. Allergies, yeast infections, thyroid, diabetes, obesity, hormones, all can be possible  contributors to a chronic matting problem

5. Seek professional help from a Certified Feline Master Groomer who can help you determine the best cycle of grooming care for your specific cat. Ask questions, and educate yourself on the needs of your cat. It will mean a better quality of life for both of you. With regular professional grooming, felines are happier, healthier, improved quality of life, and look, smell, and feel gorgeous. 

6. Be honest about your ability to take good care of your companion. You choose to include this cat in your life. It is your responsibility and duty to ensure all its needs are properly taken care of and that it should never have to suffer due to your neglect. With all this new-found knowledge, if you are not willing to make a change and break the cycle of oscillating between matted shave-downs, you are committing willful neglect. The right thing to do is find a better home for your cat. 


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