Making the First Move

I had a great plan for how this move was going to go for the Three Irish Cats. I read articles from Cole and Marmalade and paid attention when Jackson Galaxy gave moving tips on a recent episode of “My Cat from Hell.”

The plan: Set up a “base camp” room here at the new house with the cats’ favorite and familiar things. Their cat tree, beds, and toys. A litter box with used litter. Carriers for hiding. Seamus’ Priority Mail box. (He sits on it all. The. Time.)

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The reality: It took us way longer to fill the truck the first day than we expected, and we needed that spare room for storage. The early part of the day went as planned; the cats spent the day in a vacant room at the old house with all of their favorite things. They even had a closet to hide in and a window over the driveway so they could see what the crazy humans were doing.

But they didn’t get to the new house until bedtime, and we stashed them, a litter box, their beds, and toys in the master bedroom for a little bit to chill. Before we let them out to explore, we closed the basement door to limit the places they could roam. (We let them down there after a few days and some cat-proofing.)

It wasn’t ideal, but all’s well that ends well. I think we could have eased their stress — especially Emmett’s — if they had had a less chaotic place to rest. Lucky for them, we have two more chances to get it right — we’ll be moving two more times in the next year or so!

What does each cat think of their temporary new home?


Aine: Silly us for thinking Aine would spend the first few days at the new house under the bed. Nope! Aine has been out and about, but she is more vocal than usual. She’s looking for lots of extra love, and we’re more than happy to give that to her. She loves the sliding glass doors in the basement, and Aine was the first one to spot deer in the backyard a couple of nights ago.


Emmett: Emmett didn’t understand what the heck just happened to him! He was a little more skittish and unsure of himself the first few days in the new house. It sure made him hard to catch when we need to corral the cats for various reasons as we got set up here. Now Emmett is enjoying the new views out the windows, especially the bay window at the front of the house.


Seamus: Seamus doesn’t understand why he had to be locked away with the two fraidy cats. He wants to be out and exploring! There are boxes to occupy, after all! Seamus got to wander around the empty moving truck (less exciting than he thought it would be), and he even escaped on us once and spent a few minutes sniffing the garden at the old house. We’re lucky he didn’t go far!

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Bringing Home Kitty, Part 3: Little by Little for Aine

I’m not going to lie: We didn’t do any of this when we brought the Three Irish Cats home from the shelter. And now that I know Aine a little better, I wish we would have.

You see, Aine is shy and a bit skittish, even now. She spent most of her time hiding the first few weeks that she lived with us. She came out to eat, and she would sleep with me at night. But if you moved too quickly or company came over, she was gone.

Fast forward to today. Aine is still shy around most company except the most familiar faces, and if you move too fast toward her, she darts away. But given nearly two years in her forever home – not to mention a break from foster cats – and she has come out of her shell and really started to own the place.

But, these tips shared with us by Petco are going to be invaluable when we move with Aine, Emmett, and Seamus a couple of times over the next few months. Our first move is next week, and we’re already planning how we’re going to set up a “safe room” for them to hang out in when we first get to the new rental house.

Ease Your Cat Into Their New Environment

(originally published here)

Cats are typically wary of new environments. It’s important to introduce them to your home gradually, so they feel comfortable and confident in their new surroundings.

While humans typically love to explore every inch of our new homes, cats are the opposite. The more room they have to explore, the more scared and overwhelmed they may become. Designating one room where your cat can stay for the first few days is a great way to start things off on the right paw. Keep the door of the “safe room” shut and make sure there is a litter box, food and water in the room, as well as a few toys. Your cat may hide for the first few days and that’s totally natural. Let them come out of a hiding place on their own time. Make sure to visit your cat throughout the day so they get used to you, your smell and sounds. After a few days, let your cat explore the house or apartment at their leisure. Make sure to leave the “safe” room accessible so they can return whenever they want.

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Introduce New Pets Slowly

Bringing a new pet into the home can be extremely stressful for the new pet as well as any resident animals. First off, make sure new pets visit the veterinarian and are up-to-date with vaccinations before exposing them to other family pets. Then give them time to get used to each other before allowing full access to one another. (This is another reason why giving your new cat a room of their own for a few days is important.)

For homes with other pets, put a baby or pet gate at the entrance of the safe room and open the door periodically so pets can see and smell each other at a safe distance before they are allowed full access.

Experts like Pam Johnson-Bennett, behaviorist and author of Catwise, helps clients introduce cats by exchanging the pheromones using her Sock Exchange method. For an easy transition, pet parents can rub each cat’s scent on a sock and introduce the sock to the other cat, helping both pets grow accustomed to each other’s scents.

Regardless of the method used, it’s important to take cues from your pets to determine how quickly you will let them interact with other pets. If you notice any problems, you may need to take some time before everyone can roam freely throughout the house together.

Conclusion

Cats make wonderful pets. But while they may have a reputation for being relatively low maintenance, it’s important to set yourselves up for success. Shop for the right supplies, give your pet time to transition to their new home and take your time introducing other pets. Soon, it will seem like your cat has been part of the family forever.

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Bringing Home Kitty, Part 2: The Reason We Don’t Have Plants

I often joke that Aine, Emmett, and Seamus are the reason we can’t have nice things, but the reality is they’re well-behaved cats, and I have no reason to complain. What they do like to do, though, is chew on plants. They don’t care if they’re real or fake. If it has a leaf, they want to nom on it.

I don’t have a green thumb, so not being able to keep plants indoors doesn’t really bother me, but occasionally, I’d like to bring fresh flowers into the house. That’s a no-go for me; we plant outside instead.

But if you can keep plants and cats in your house, stay away from these blooms. This graphic courtesy of Petco highlights some of the most dangerous flowers for cats – as well as some other ways our feline friends might get themselves into trouble.

How to Cat Proof Your Home

(originally published here)

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Cats can get into all kinds of trouble. It’s up to pet parents to make sure their homes are as safe as possible. Cats like to chew and play with many things, some of which may surprise you.

  • Close the toilet lid
    Some cats—especially curious kittens—can slip into a toilet and drown. Make sure to close the toilet lid after each use.
  • Latch cabinets and cupboards
    Cats can get into unlocked cupboards if they put their minds to it. They also like to knock things over. Use child safety locks on cabinets where you store medicine or cleaning supplies. Keep dangerous items out of reach so your cat doesn’t ingest anything except food or treats, or walk through a puddle of something and lick it off their paws.
  • Be diligent about string and yarn
    Most cats love playing with these. Unfortunately, some cats will ingest string and yarn, which can lead to organ damage. Dispose of or store these items out of reach.
  • Keep rubber bands and hair ties out of reach
    Similar to yarn and string, cats can ingest rubber bands and hair ties.
  • Secure windows and screens
    Keep windows closed and screens closed and/or locked. Cats love sitting in windows, and a loose screen can become a safety hazard if your cat pushes against it and falls out. Keep dangling cords from blinds secured safely as well.
  • Unplug or secure electrical cords
    Your cat may be tempted to chew on these dangling hazards. Either unplug cords that are not in use, or secure them along window or floor trim. Alternatively, you can wrap cords in plastic tubing (found at hardware stores) or spray them with pet-safe, natural deterrents such as citrus or apple bitters.
  • Remove fragile objects
    Do your cat and yourself a favor by anticipating accidents and removing breakable items from the tops of dressers, counters or cat-accessible shelving. The slip of a paw or tail can send these valuables crashing to the floor.
  • Check the washer and dryer before you use them
    Curious cats and kittens can crawl inside these appliances and be seriously injured.

Watch your new cat carefully to understand how your cat gets into trouble and which hazards you should safeguard.

Friday: Preparing Your Home for a New Cat

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Bringing Home Kitty, Part 1: The Three Irish Cats’ First Days at Home

We adopted the Three Irish Cats over Labor Day Weekend in 2015. It’s hard to believe we’ve had them almost two years!

Our cats all came from the Humane Society of Charles County, and they already knew each other. Aine and Emmett – then named Pantha and OJ — shared a cage, and Seamus (then called Rascal) lived next door. When the cages were open in the free-roaming cat room, staff told us, Seamus would hang out with the kittens next door.

Aine, Emmett, and Seamus came into a house with no pets. Our cat Aoife had died a few months before, and all of her toys and furniture had been put away. To prepare for the Three Irish Cats’ arrival, my husband and son made run to Petco for the litter boxes, food, and other supplies we’d need for our new family members. They got everything set up at home while I volunteered at an event at the shelter.

Our cats’ transition was fairly easy, though Aine hid for several weeks, only coming out to eat. Cats are different, and they can be finicky creatures when it comes to moving to a new home. Our friends at Petco have shared this helpful infographic that can help you welcome your new cat home.

This is the first of three infographics we’ll share this week about welcoming a new kitty into your home:

Part 1: Gathering supplies

Part 2: Cat proofing your home

Part 3: Preparing your home for a cat

Bringing Your Cat Home: How to Prepare for an Easy Transition

(originally published here)

Adding a new cat to your family? Congratulations! Your new friend will be a wonderful and beloved companion, but there are a few things you should know before you bring your kitty home. Read on to learn how to create a harmonious and happy home for your new pet and your family.

Gather Supplies

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Before you bring your cat home, stock up on supplies. That way you can focus on getting to know them and making sure they’re comfortable. Here are some important items to help you care for your cat and make them as happy as possible during the first few days in a new environment.

Cat food

If possible, find out what kind of food your cat has been eating. Continue feeding the same food initially; if you’d like to change to another food, make a slow transition. A sudden change in diet can cause stomach upset or diarrhea. Add the new food to the old food in small but increasing amounts each day over a 14-day period. For more information, read How to Transition Your Dog or Cat to a New Food.

Food and water bowls

Pick up a couple sets of food and water bowls so you can rotate them for cleaning and always have a clean pair on hand. Consider buying several water bowls to place around the house and/or a water fountain too so your cat always has access to fresh, clean water.

Treats

Treats can go a long way toward making friends with your new cat, or reinforcing good behavior.

Collar and ID tag

Even if your cat is microchipped, it’s still a good idea for your pet to wear a collar and ID tag in case they escape your home. Choose a breakaway collar so they don’t get hurt if their collar gets caught on something. Pets in new environments can get scared and bolt; a combination of a microchip and ID tag can help ensure your pet returns home quickly and safely.

Bed

Make two separate cozy and inviting spaces for your new pet to cuddle up. Put one bed in a quiet, isolated place and another where the family spends most of their time. This way, your cat can choose where they want to be.

Toys

Cats vary in the types of toys that entice them. Try a couple of different kinds to find out what your cat enjoys. There are more types of toys for cats now than ever. Choose from balls, teasers, tunnels, scratchers, toys that chirp or squeak, interactive/puzzle toys, teethers for kittens, plush toys, treat-dispensing toys and more. If you have a kitten, catnip-filled toys may not be enticing until he is about one year old. Remember: Your pet may not feel like playing with toys at first. Allow some time and you will soon see a playful side emerge once your cat feels more comfortable. Never leave toys with strings unattended (some cats may accidentally ingest the string).

Grooming supplies

Grooming is a great way to bond with your new cat and help them maintain a healthy coat and skin. Choose grooming tools that are appropriate for your cat’s coat, including a brush, comb and nail clippers. Remember that a soft touch is key; a cat’s skin is extremely sensitive and you want grooming to be a pleasant experience. Try getting your cat used to nail trims at home from the start.

Litter box

A good rule of thumb is to have one litter box for each cat in the household, plus one extra. Put the litter box in a convenient yet private place that’s away from high-traffic areas. Aim for a large box for an adult cat and a smaller box if you’re bringing home a kitten.

Cat litter

Cats can be finicky about the litter they prefer, so it’s a good idea to find out which cat litter your cat has been using and stick with that brand at first. If you wish to change the litter you use, slowly transition by mixing the old brand with the new a little at a time until the box is full of the new brand type.

Cat trees

You may consider a cat tree (you can even find a cat tree/scratcher combo) to give your cat an elevated spot from which to survey their new domain. Cat trees provide a secure observation tower that’s safely away from whatever’s happening on the ground.

Scratching post

Scratching is a natural behavior for cats. Make sure to have a scratching post on hand for when your new friend feels the need to get his claws in shape. Learn more about why cats scratch.

Wednesday: How to Cat Proof Your Home

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A TNR Newbie’s Basic Toolkit

I am by no means an expert cat trapper, but I have learned a lot in the last 18 months or so that I have been trapping neighborhood cats in my yard. One important thing I have learned is the value of having all of your equipment and tools handy so you’re ready when a cat steps into the trap.

Here are the things I keep handy when I trap.

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Trap: I love my “Fat Cat” Tru Catch trap. It’s bigger than a typical cat-size trap, so there’s a little extra space for kitty while he or she is recovering in the garage after surgery.

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Fork: To go with the trap, I have a Tru Catch fork. I use the fork to keep kitty to one end of the trap while I clean or put in fresh water and food. It allows me to take better care of the cat while it’s in my trap, and it keeps us both safe (and kitty in the trap!).

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Leather gloves: I’m vegan and have refused to buy leather gloves for myself for years. I don’t wear leather clothing or shoes. But, I get the safety reasons for leather gloves. Sharp teeth and claws can’t get through the leather and to my skin; other fabrics and materials just don’t provide that coverage. My husband gave me these gloves last Christmas with a pair of Kevlar knitted gloves that go most of the way up my arm. I’m not 100 percent comfortable with it, but I understand that I need to be safe. If I get sick or hurt, I may not be able to help as many cats (or worse). It’s a balancing act for me.

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Carabiner: It’s a small thing, but this carabiner gives me a lot of peace of mind. It keeps the sliding door of my trap closed. I know it’s unlikely a cat will open it and escape, but I feel more comfortable with the door latched. Cats are smart!

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Blankets, Sheets, and Towels: As soon as you get a cat in the trap, you should cover it. This relaxes the cat and stops it from thrashing around in the cage. I leave the trap covered with a blanket or sheet the entire time the cat is recovering in my garage. I use the towels under the trap in the garage so that the cat isn’t sitting directly on the cold floor. The towels are also helpful for catching urine and feces. It makes it easier to keep the trap clean.

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Newspaper: Since it’s tricky to get a blanket or towel into the trap (and in my experience, the cats are going to spill water and food in the trap anyway), I use newspaper over the bottom of the trap. This catches waste and makes it a little more comfortable (hopefully) than sitting on the wire bottom of the trap. When the trap is set, the newspaper helps cover the trip plate.

Bowls and food: I have a separate set of bowls and food for outdoor cats. I feed my outdoor cats a middle-quality food; it’s better than cheap store brand food that is full of fillers, but it is not as expensive as the grain-free food we give Aine, Emmett, and Seamus. I try to strike a balance between quality food and my budget; I need to be able to afford to keep feeding the outdoor cats.

An expert on speed dial: Whether it’s a fellow trapper, rescue group or TNR-friendly vet or vet tech, have someone you can call when you have questions or run into difficulties. Most times, the process will go seamlessly, but every so often, you’ll hit a snag. I’ve been grateful for my friends at Rescue Angels of Southern Maryland who answer my calls and texts when I have TNR questions.

What else would you add to a beginner’s TNR kit?

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So, We Tried That #CatSquare Thing …

A few weeks ago, a friend texted me this link: “People Have Discovered the Perfect Way to Mess with Your Cat.”

Once I knew it didn’t involve terrifying your poor cat with a cucumber, I was all in. Here’s the gist:

You make a square on the floor out of tape. You turn away, and BAM! There’s a cat in the square.

Naturally, we had to give this a try.

So, Sunday afternoon, we laid the trap. My son put down the square at 4:26 p.m.

We waited. A cat got into an empty laundry basket near the square at 4:48 p.m., but the square remained empty.

We kept waiting. Cats walked by the square. Aine even sniffed at the tape.

Aine took a nap at 7:51 p.m. Seamus was napping next to me.

At 8:46 p.m., Seamus was asleep again, becoming one with the sofa.

Aine and Emmett chased (and ate) a bug. That was 8:31 p.m.

Finally – finally! – at 10:22 p.m., Seamus sat in the square to take a bath.

Not bad guys — that only took SIX HOURS.

On the other hand, yesterday I set down a box of groceries from the wholesale club. I turned away, and when I turned back …

Have you had any luck with the #CatSquare? I’d love to hear about it!

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Breakfast with the Three Irish Cats

When our first cat, Fiona, was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), my husband did a lot of research on cat nutrition and the best ways to feed a cat. That research still informs our cat food decisions, even though Fiona has been gone since 2005.

Aine, Emmett, and Seamus eat a mostly wet food diet — they get a wet food meal for breakfast and dinner, and I put out a small amount of dry food at lunchtime that they snack on for the afternoon.

It’s taken some trial and error to find what they like. For example, I bought a pate recently that all three like when it is fresh out of the can, but only Aine will eat it cold from the fridge. Microwaving it makes all three happy. The similar flavor in a chunky form? They’ll eat it hot or cold.

The folks at Petco shared this article with us about how to choose the best wet food for your cat. We hope it helps you find the purrfect food for your finicky feline!

How to Choose the Best Wet Food for Your Cat

(originally published here)

Selecting the best wet food for your cat is an important decision. Because there are many options, it can be hard to determine what’s going to be best for your cat. Not only does taste matter, but so do size, shape, smell and texture. Beyond palatability, it’s important to take nutritional profile, ingredients, brand trust and the ability to meet your cat’s needs into account when selecting a food. While cats can be finicky about food, the good news is that there are a wide variety of options to suit every palate.

It may take some trial and error to determine your cat’s preferred formula. Don’t be afraid to experiment to find out just what your kitty craves. Most cat food brands offer a variety of consistencies, so experimenting within one brand can also help pinpoint a favorite. (A word of caution: Continually switching foods even within the same brand can lead to GI upset. Allow plenty of time for cats to try new food. Here’s how to transition your pet to a new food.) Read on to learn about different wet food options.

From Broths to Patés: Different Types of Wet Food

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Wet food typically comes in a smooth formula like a paté, or in pieces of meat in a thick liquid, such as gravy or gelée (which is similar to gravy but has more of a jelly-like consistency). Keep in mind that many wet food options feature processed meat shaped into strips or chunks while others do in fact contain whole pieces of meat.

Some of the more popular wet cat food textures include:

Paté
Paté has a smooth, mostly uniform consistency. Some patés come in “soft” form, which is creamier with more liquid. Other paté formulas are firmer, while others have soft, large chunks.

Shredded
Shredded formulas typically contain long, thin pieces of meat mixed in gravy or gelée.

Cubed
Just as the name sounds, a cubed formula is cat food chopped into small, distinctive cubes. The cubes are typically mixed in gravy or gelée.

Flaked
Flaked cat food offers small, flat, thin pieces of meat mixed in a gravy or gelée.

Minced
Minced cat food is chopped into very small pieces and mixed together. Minced is chunkier than paté but smoother than other textures that have larger pieces of meat.

Morsels
Morsels can describe almost any type of shape or form—they can be chunks or bits of varying sizes; they are mixed in gravy or gelée.

Sliced
Sliced textures are typically thin, flat pieces of meat contained in gravy or gelée.

Stews
Cat food stews typically contain a chunky mixture of meats and vegetables—though the chunks are typically processed, not pure meat pieces.

Blends
A growing trend in wet cat food is a combination of textures, such as paté on the bottom and stew on the top. There are a variety of names for these types of blends including duos, medleys, duels and more. Blends may come packaged with multiple textures together, or in one package with separate containers.

Broths
Typically a food labeled “broth” is mostly liquid with chunks of meat. Be sure to check the nutrition information on the label as broths may not be designed to be a complete and balanced diet and may be better as a treat or a topper to entice picky cats to eat a regular meal.

Wet Food Feeding Guidelines

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Feeding wet food from cans, pouches, cups, trays and more is different than feeding dry kibble. For example, while kibble can be left out for longer periods, wet food should not stay out for very long because it can spoil quickly. Wet food should be fed at a specific time; uneaten food should be refrigerated or discarded.

Open containers of cat food should be stored in the refrigerator and used within three days.

Along with a variety of textures, consistencies and options, wet cat food offers an important benefit: hydration. In fact, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center, wet cat food is approximately 75% water, compared to the 6 to 10% found in dry kibble.

It’s important for cats to stay hydrated specifically for digestive, circulative and urinary health. An adult cat should consume about the same amount of water (in milliliters) as the number of calories they eat per day. For example, if a 10-pound cat eats 200 calories every day, he or she should also consume 200 milliliters of water.

To determine how much wet food a cat should eat per day, follow the feeding guidelines on the back of the package, visit the pet food manufacturer’s website or discuss proper caloric amounts with your veterinarian. Optimal feeding amounts may depend on a specific cat’s age, weight, activity level and overall health.

Hydration is Key

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In the summer months, enticing an outdoor cat to drink more water is even more important. You should do all you can to encourage your cat to drink more water. Here are some ideas:

Monitor and know your cat’s normal water intake

First of all, it’s important to take note of how much a resident cat is drinking. Understanding a cat’s typical behavior helps pet parents know whether they need to do more to encourage their cat to drink. While the goal is to get cats to drink more, a cat who drinks excessively could have an underlying medical issue. Make an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice an uptick in thirst.

Incorporate wet food into a cat’s diet

Because wet food contains so much moisture, it’s a great way to help a cat stay hydrated. Some cats, including cats with urinary issues, diabetes, kidney disorders, cancer or hyperthyroidism—as well as nursing cats and senior cats—are especially prone to dehydration. Your veterinarian may recommend a mostly wet food diet to cats with these or other health issues.

Add water to wet food

Some cat parents add extra water to wet food. This creates a soupy consistency that some cats like. When wet food is refrigerated, it may be too cold for your cat’s liking. Adding a small amount of warm water changes the consistency and can increase palatability. Your cat may also enjoy wet food that has been warmed in the microwave. Be sure to test with your finger to make sure it’s not too hot before serving and mix well so the cat does not just lick out the liquid.

Have more than one water bowl

Offering plenty of water bowls throughout the house is a great way to encourage cats to drink whenever they’re thirsty. Try bowls of different materials and sizes since some cats are more apt to drink from a particular type of bowl. Place near cat’s favorite napping/lounging location.

Clean water bowls frequently

Many cats turn their noses up at dirty water bowls. Regularly wash bowls and replace water at least once a day. Standing water can develop contaminants. Many bowls for cats are dishwasher-safe.

Consider water fountains

Lots of cats enjoy water fountains, presumably because of the movement and fresh taste of filtered water. While running water helps prevent bacteria from growing quickly, fountains still need to be completely washed out once a week (sometimes more regularly if needed). It’s a good idea to use filtered or bottled water to keep working parts of the fountain operational.

Try bottled water

Some super sensitive cats prefer bottled or filtered water because they can detect the taste of chlorine in tap water.

Conclusion

Wet cat food offers many benefits, including the ability to meet each individual cat’s particular needs and find a flavor and consistency they enjoy. Including wet food (which has the added benefit of extra hydration, in your cat’s diet) can be a win-win for your cat and you.

Find the original post here: https://community.petco.com/t5/Blog/How-to-Choose-the-Best-Wet-Food-for-Your-Cat/ba-p/73257

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