Archive for the ‘Cat’ Category

3May

After bringing the 39-lb. cat, Meow, to the stage on “Anderson,” veterinarian Dr. Jennifer Stekettee gave some tips to help slim down your overweight pet. Stekettee said pets are like people, as far as dieting is concerned, and need a high-protein, low-carb diet.

22Mar

You love dogs, right? And you wish you could help the abandoned, sad and neglected sweeties that you see on Petfinder or in your local newspaper’s Adopt-A-Pet section, but you already have a dog. Maybe even two, and a cat or two to boot. No room at the inn, but a heart that overflows with desire to help? No problem! Perhaps you can’t adopt another shelter dog right now, but you might be able to save lives and have a truly profound impact by donating money to the shelter. Dog food costs, utilities, veterinary services, staff… shelters struggle to make ends meet and times are tougher than ever.

If you have a large pack at home and maybe even some kids, you are likely strapped for cash as well. Fund raising, of course! And if you do it right, it will become a ton of fun as well!

From Funds to Fun: A Few Ideas to Get You Started:
The tried and true ideas first
• A car wash,
• Sponsorship weekend at Barnes and Nobles or other stores willing to donate a percentage to your effort,
• Ink jet cartridge collection,
• Dog-walking day at the park,
• An eBay charity auction (get businesses to donate items to be auctioned off on eBay)
• Register with an online charity organization like iGive that allow customers to shop online at “regular” stores but collect a percentage of sales as donations

Are you ready to go deeper? Need some creative inspiration to get your local community excited and ready to support your efforts? Here are a few ideas that will make you laugh, smile or say “yes! That could work for my shelter!”

Kiss a Pig/Llama/Iguana!
Find a public figure in your community who is ready to pitch in. The mayor, superintendent of schools, coach for the high school football team or police chief are all great possibilities. Think you will have difficulty nabbing one of them? They love (and depending on how close it is to election or other strategic timing) and need the positive publicity. Now find a community member who owns an unusual pet. Arrange for a public kiss, and really talk it up ahead of time: send out press releases, use social networking sites, and pull out all the stops to get some media attention. To get the most “bang for your buck,” this may work best as part of a festival or other event so that you can piggyback on the existing crowd and publicity. Arrange for the kiss if your fund-raising goal is met!

Wild, Racy and Wet!
Would a slightly racy idea go over well in your community? How about a “topless” car wash? Arrange for the traditional car wash with a twist. Have shelter staff present with adoptable dogs, just like at any other adoption day event. Here’s the twist: the dogs are topless! Dress the dogs in shorts (with holes cut out for their tails, of course) and make sure once again that press releases go out ahead of time and tons of photographs get taken for follow up press.

Caged for the Critters
“Caged for the critters” events have been very successful in many locations around the US. The Shelter Director and/or the President of the Board are placed in dog crates out in the local McDonalds parking lot or equally large location that gets lots of car and foot traffic, with the promise that they will be let out when the fund-raising goal is reached. This is another event that would do well if a festival style day were organized, so that foot traffic and publicity could be shared among events. This would be a fun effort to pair with the Kiss a Pig event!

Going, Going, Gone!
Upscaling things a bit, how about an art exhibit and auction? The catch: all the “artists” are shelter dogs, and the artworks are all paintings made by pawprints. Be sure to check that the paints are non-toxic, and enlist the help of children with the paw-painting part. Use standard size pre-stretched canvases and try hard to have a local store or a “big box” crafts emporium donate frames. Once you have your artwork, create an event: classical music, elegant hors d’oeuvres, and minimum opening bids will help your event be a success!

Bring Your Dog to Work Day
If handled properly, this could be great fun and raise a nice chunk of cash. Of course you will need to get the boss’s and possibly Human Resources’ permission first. But the idea here is to bring your dog to work and let people know they too can adopt an equally adorable and loving dog or sponsor a dog who has yet to be adopted. To garner the most attention ahead of time, see if you can send all staff members an email announcing your plans. Then hold an “all staff meeting” somewhere on the company grounds and parade your best friend around and let people know what you are doing. Hey, you never know. You may be able to get your company’s CEO/president and other staff members to participate.

What is the bottom line? Talk it up, write your press releases, do your homework about your community and what might get folks to leave their house and open their wallets. At minimum you will help your canine community members by raising not only cash but awareness and you never know, you may end up having a blast doing so!

23Jan

One of the most delightful things about having a cat is the way he or she has of surprising us with demonstrations of intelligent behavior. This is not to suggest we are surprised by their intelligence. Far from it – rather, it is their specific demonstrations of intelligent behavior that open our eyes.

One of the strongest indicators of intelligence in any animal – two-legged as well as four – is the possession of a personality. If you think about it, you realize that personality would not be possible unless there were a range of possible reactions to various stimuli by individual members of an animal species. A reptile or amphibian, for example, will react to external provocations in predictable and entirely species-specific ways, with no diversity based on individual identity because they lack any intelligence beyond simple instinct. And the range of personalities in mammals or birds cannot be explained by environmental differences, because even pets who come to maturity and live out their days in the same households will have completely unique personalities, as any experienced pet owner can tell you.

Cats have personalities that are as diverse as can be found anywhere in the animal kingdom. What is really interesting about cats, however, is that their intelligence and their personalities are each a reflection of the other – intelligence makes personality possible, and personality then becomes a vehicle through which intelligence is manifested. The curious cat, for example, will teach himself how to open doors or cabinets with his paws. The outdoorsy cat, on the other hand, will teach himself how to open a screen door with his paws or body so he can escape into the backyard. The cleverness of the individual cat is directly connected to his own unique personalized desires, and this is why they are able to surprise us with the things they do. What we are watching at those moments is our cat’s individualized intelligence and distinct personality both unveiling themselves at the same time, doubling our sense of excitement at the new things we discover about our beloved feline companions.

The intelligence of cats is often compared unfavorably to that of dogs, based on greater brain size and performance on some tests that are supposedly able to measure relative brainpower. However, it must be noted that dogs are more social in their nature than cats, and a large part of the dog’s brain is connected to their social nature, which does not really have much to do with pure intelligence. Also, dogs throughout history have been selectively bred to emphasize certain characteristics or behavioral traits that are considered useful to humans. Therefore, it is perhaps not surprising that dogs might perform somewhat better on intelligence tests developed by human scientists who may share those same biases about which characteristics in animals are most important or useful to measure.

The intelligence of the cat, on the other hand, is generalized, adaptable to many different circumstances and situations. This gives the cat a flexibility that is often missing from dogs or any other animal that has been subject to extensive breeding at the hands of people. Most likely, cats would never have stood for such treatment, and would have abandoned humanity and returned to the wild long ago if such a thing had been attempted. But because the cat has maintained her generalized, personality-specific style of intelligence, the cat has more ability to surprise us with her individual behavior than any other animal that we keep close to us. So in the end, if you want to know how smart cats are, the only real way to find out is to go to someone who lives with one and ask him or her. No one knows more about the intelligence of cats than those who live with them; because only they can explain the specific circumstances in which that intelligence reveals itself, through each and every individual feline personality.

21Dec

Cats are marvelous creatures, aren’t they? Aloof, lovable, regal, haughty, adorable, graceful, funny and then some. Truly, cats, like humans (and you must bear in mind that cats aren’t human, and can’t be treated as such, even if you ‘do’ consider them part of the family), are highly varied in their personalities. Some have a marvelous sense of humor, others are grumpy and spiteful. Still others seem a perpetual kitten, even when they’re showing their age at 16.

Similar to dog breeds, where you live can play a big part in how and where your cat lives. Outdoor cats tend to lead rather different lives from indoor cats, requiring different strategies for their care and happiness. A busy urban environment, such as a Manhattan walk up, differs greatly from say, a mountain farm on a few acres, where your nearest neighbor may be miles away, and traffic is naught but a rare sight. No environment is without its potential dangerous, and although kitty really wants to go outside, sometimes you must set the limit to keep him or her safe. However, if you do live on a farm or in the country, kitty can run around with relative safety from predators and cars. You still want to follow some steps first.

Cat On A Hot Tin Roof
That’s not to say that your outdoor kitty will suffer the tribulations of Magaret (Maggie the Cat) from the Tennessee Williams play. But if you are planning to keep, or already do keep your kitty outdoors, here are some things to keep in mind.

• If kitty hasn’t been spayed or neutered yet, make sure you get this done. It will cut down on your cat wandering around in search of Amore!
• Make sure your pet has all his or her shots and vaccinations. This won’t prevent injury, but should it get into a fight or become injured, it will help curb infection.
• If you live in an urban area, especially one where traffic is heavy, make sure and bring your cat indoors after dark. Also, be sure to do so when there won’t be anyone at home. In such an environment, there’s always a chance the cat could be hit by an unwary driver, and suffering until you’ve realized what has happened or returned home. To entice your feline friend to come in at night, try bribing it with a tasty tidbit, like his or her favorite treat. If you have roommates, make sure they know the rules about the cat as well. If the weather turns bad, try to bring the cat in during rain and snow storms. You don’t like being soaked to the bone, or frozen and we’re pretty sure the cat doesn’t either.
• For the love of all that is sacred, do not declaw your cat. Some owners erroneously go this route to keep their cat from shredding things in the house. Not only is this cruel and unusual punishment to kitty (you try walking around with the tops of your toes cut off), but if he is living out-of-doors, it will make it impossible to defend himself.
• Be consistant in your training, making sure the cat only comes and goes through one access point, preferrably to the backyard, or a more secure area. The average fence won’t stop a cat for long, but provides a modicum of safety – certainly more than he would have in the front yard and potentially the street.
• If you live in a rural area, such as the aforementioned farm, it can arguably be safer to have your cats roam free (barring natural predators that are bigger than they). Cats can be marvelous mousers so don’t be surprised to see ‘love notes’ at your doorstep each morning.
• If you do live in an urban area, or at least an area that poses a greater danger to your cat, you would do well to consider installing a cat door so your friend can come and go as he or she pleases, but also an enclosure. You can easily make one from wood and chicken wire. This lets kitty see, smell and hear all that he or she might want to, while keeping her safe from predators or careless humans. Don’t forget to put toys in the enclosure, or make your kitty her own outdoor cat tree on which to climb or to curl up for a nap. This allows you to keep things interesting.

Ultimately, how and where you keep your cat depends on your environment and your willingness to let the furry beastie out of your sight. With a little common sense, forethought and a modicum of effort on your part, you can indulge his love of outdoors and ensure his or her safety.

23Aug

Malignant Melanoma is a very dangerous form of skin cancer and it’s one that cats can contract under myriad circumstances, many of which you have a great deal of control over. Malignant Melanoma in cats is rare because there’s not much skin exposed to the sunlight or anything else that causes the problem. However Malignant Melanoma can be found in the ears or in the eyelids where the skin of even the furriest cats is exposed. Cats with this form of skin cancer have tiny black bumps on the skin where the cancer is set to spread from.

Although Malignant Melanoma can be both benign and malignant, in cats, it tends towards malignancy, so it’s very important to have it diagnosed and taken care of as quickly as possible. Malignant Melanoma will spread very quickly through the body of a cat and will kill it if it’s not taken care of in a swift and decisive manner. Although Malignant Melanoma is rare in cats, there are some instances where it’s more common. For example, Malignant Melanoma is more common in cats of middle age (six to fourteen years of age). If you have a white cat, there is an increased chance of your pet contracting Malignant Melanoma.

There is a very simple reason why white cats have a higher chance of contracting Malignant Melanoma; they reflect the sunlight and leave the skin exposed to the UV rays that cause the cancer. This does not mean that you should stay away from white cats altogether, but you should be careful about letting your cat outside in bright sunlight and make sure to check up on vulnerable areas periodically. However, any cat can find themselves struck down with this disease, so don’t think that if you adopt a black cat, you’ll never have to worry about it again.

Malignant Melanoma in cats has to first be diagnosed as either malignant (cancerous) or benign (not cancerous). This is best done by taking your cat to the vet; only a vet will be able to correctly diagnose the problem. You can self diagnose up to a certain point: if your cat has a skin lump, bleeding sores, bleeding ulcers, loss of fur, and itchiness and redness, these may all be signs of cancer. However, since these are the symptoms of many skin problems, you’ll need to talk to a vet and order blood work or a biopsy done to confirm the presence of cancerous cells.

Malignant Melanoma is most commonly seen as a skin cancer, but it can also be found as a kind of optic cancer in older cats. It can be seen as a change in eye color and redness in the eye.

Malignant Melanoma in any cat is serious, regardless which form it takes; it can spread very quickly and can be fatal if not dealt with quickly. Although it’s rare, in some cats it’s more common, especially in white cats who don’t even have much in the way of fur to protect them. By this token, hairless cats are also more susceptible to this disease, given that they lack the second and third layers of fur that the majority of cats are born with. An advantage to having a hairless cat, such as a Devon or Cornish Rex, you’ll be able to see the skin problem a little faster, than in those with lots of fur.

If your cat is diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma, then there are some treatment options available to you. Surgery is the most common one; your cat will have the tumor or tumors removed surgically. Some people have opted to treat cancer, both in humans and animals, homeopathically. This is, as you can imagine, quite controversial and although an option, it’s best to do your research first to determine its efficacy. Something as serious as cancer deserves an educated and well-informed decision.

Remember, as with anything, it can’t be stressed enough that if you suspect any abnormality with you furry friend, having your vet look at it, if only to reassure you that all is well, is recommended.

29Jun

Although this might be mistaken for a joke, one that ends up with you in the hospital or at minimum, with scratches up and down your arms, this is actually meant to be a helpful guide to medicate your cat.

If you currently are “owned” by a cat, you know that unless you got “Rocky” as a baby – meaning under 3 months when he learned socialization, you already know that unlike dogs, he dislikes being handled, loathes being bathed and the thought of being force fed anything, whether in dropper or pill form is enough to make the claws come out. If you own a dog as well, you know all you need do is wrap the pill in peanut butter and watch him chow down.

Rest assured, you will be able to rid him of whatever ailment is plaguing the poor thing. At this juncture, it’s appropriate to point out that if you live through this experience, it is going to be comical.

This technique is best achieved with two people. Assuming this the first time you’re attempting this, unless you possess four arms, a harness and the reflexes of a cornered cat, you may wish to enlist the aid of a friend, your spouse, a sibling or even the letter carrier.

The first thing is to make sure both your partner and you are wearing long pants and long sleeves. This minimizes the pain considerably. Next is to have all the pills or droppers lined up in a towel and ready to go. This means you’ve already crushed, measured, filled the dropper and all that’s left is the execution, um, so to speak!

Before resulting to the “towel technique” try first to win Rocky over with your charm. Without scaring him, see if you can pick Rocky up and place him on your lap facing away from you. It’s best if the one Rocky trusts the most be the one to hold him. He will hate both of you, but you a little less than the one who’s agreed to spare his life for you.

Hold Rocky’s forearms and bear down on him. A scared cat has an uncanny way of developing super human strength in these situations.

Your partner, already having the meds in her hand, will force Rocky’s mouth open using one hand – she will need the other to administer – indeed Rocky will have developed the jaws of a pit bull by this point. If it’s a pill, your partner must shove it as far into the throat as possible, not to induce gagging but if it’s resting on the tongue, your cunning Rocky will spit it out and laugh at you. If it’s a dropper, do the same.

If another dose is necessary, do encourage her to hurry, as you must surely feel you are wrestling a mountain lion. It’s advisable that you not allow Rocky the opportunity to stretch. It’s a ploy, one that will surely result in the loss of your partner’s eye or ear.

Confirm that your partner is done. Don’t assume anything. The pill may have fallen on the floor or Rocky may have spit up half the dropper. Once you let Rocky go, it will be hours before you can re-catch him, now that he’s on to you. If after all this Rocky is still talking to you and hasn’t opened up the classified section in search of a new roommate, make sure you praise him profusely and pay your partner handsomely.

17Mar

Kittens are extremely cute animals. When you first get your kitten, chances are you will never let it out of your sight, showing it off to friends and family as it stumbles around your home.

But cats, like all animals, have the potential to catch and carry diseases. Even if your cat is an indoor cat, it is at risk for commonly spread viruses and diseases that can harm your cat’s health. When your kitten is young it is important to make sure that it is properly vaccinated in order to ensure that your cat stays safe.

What if My Cat With Stay Indoors?
Even if you expect your cat to be an indoor cat for most of its life, it is still a good idea to get your cat immunized for diseases. There are several reasons that vaccinations are advised:
• Your cat can escape, causing it to be at severe risk for disease as it roams the outdoors.
• You can bring in some of these diseases on your clothes or shoes.
• Your cat may someday need to be an outdoor cat, and immunizing your cat as a kitten makes it more likely that the immunization will work effectively.
Though a true indoor cat that never leaves your home is not at great risk for diseases or illness, there is still too great a risk that your cat can get sick to avoid getting the immunizations. It is safer for your cat, and since most of the shots are inexpensive, safer for your wallet as well.

Shots for Cats
If you are going to raise an outdoor cat, your vet may recommend more than just the basic kitten vaccines. Still, here are several of the potential vaccinations that your kitten should receive early in life.
• Distemper/Panleukopenia
Distemper is a widely spread disease throughout the feline community. Any contact with any secretion from another cat that has the disease can cause the illness to be spread. Distemper can cause vomiting, diarrhea and severe fluid loss. Immunizations for distemper have been shown to be highly effective and are recommended for all cats both indoor and outdoor.
• Calcivirus
A respiratory illness, Calcivirus is also extremely contagious and can quickly spread from cat to cat. The illness can also be caused by other infections that weaken the immune system. Like Distemper, Calcivirus shots have been shown to be highly effective.
• Rhinotracheitis
Rhinotracheitis is similar to Calcivirus, except that it is does not often show up with other infections. It is also spread through sneezing and affects cats of all ages. Immunizing your kitten is the best way to reduce the effects of this disease.
• Leukemia
Unlike the disease in humans, Feline Leukemia is a virus that can spread through bites or shared saliva, such as two cats eating the same meal. Feline Leukemia is very dangerous and painful for you cat.
• Feline Chlamydia
It is also important that your cat gets immunized for feline Chlamydia. Unlike many of the other diseases, this type of disease can spread to humans, because it is caused by aggressive bacteria.
• Bordetella
If you ever want to bring your cat to a kennel, you will need to get it immunized for Bordetella. This illness is not often fatal, but does spread EXTREMELY quickly, especially with cats in close quarters.
• Rabies

Cats are always at risk for rabies, especially outdoor cats. Simply coming in contact with the saliva from a rabid animal can spread it to your cat. Since rabies can spread to humans, getting your cat immunized for rabies is as important for you as it is for your pet.

Additional Vaccines
There are also additional vaccines available. Giardia and FIP are a few examples. Talk to your vet about what immunizations are best for your kitten. The cost of these vaccines is not very high, but the medical costs of a cat that catches these diseases, as well as the risk of spreading the disease to other cats is so high that it is highly recommended that you get your kitten vaccinated, even if you are planning on keeping your cat indoors all of its life.

24Sep

By Dr. Jan Bellows

As animal lovers, we naturally want our pets to enjoy all of the things that we enjoy. Many of us remember giving our dog a little bit of leftover food under the table, or wanting to cook a homemade meal for the family pet. However, unlike human beings, most animals are not able to eat any food that is given to them. Few animal stomachs are as adaptive to new foods as ours are, and so there are several foods that you must avoid in order to reduce the risk of your animals getting illness.

Toxic Foods to Cats

Cats are notorious for eating some particularly disgusting things from garbage cans and dumpsters. Yet cats have a variety of very common foods that they cannot eat without risking serious illness. Below are a variety of different foods that can be toxic to your cat.

  • Onions

Perhaps one of the most well known toxic foods, onions contain a chemical known as N-propyl disulphide, which can destroy your cat’s red blood cell count. This can cause serious health problems including causing your cat to become dangerously anemic. Keep your cat away from onions, as well as garlic and other types of root vegetables that contain the chemical.

  • Chocolate

We may love chocolate, but a cat’s stomach finds it highly toxic. Cats are very prone to the toxic effects of Theobromine, which is highly present in darker chocolate, moderately present in milk chocolate, and almost non-existent in white chocolate. Still, it is best to keep your cat away from all chocolate treats.

  • Raw Potatoes and Tomatoes

Many different types of cat foods contain ripened versions of both potatoes and tomatoes, and these are perfectly acceptable for your pet’s stomach. However, the unripened (green) versions of these vegetables can cause terrible gastrointestinal problems. The main toxin is known as Glycoalkaloid Solanine, and the effects of the toxic ingredient can be fairly devastating.

  • Macadamia Nuts

The toxins in macadamia nuts are not quite well known, but they have been known to cause harm to a cat’s digestive system. While research continues to be conducted, it is best to avoid these nuts altogether for safety.

  • Raw Meats (especially pork)

Your cat may eat raw meat in the wild, but in general you will want to avoid feeding them any type of raw foods, especially mean like pork. These meats are notorious for containing high levels of bacteria that may cause significant health problems for your cat. Cooked meats tend not to share this problem, so if you are going to make your cat a meaty dish, make sure it is cooked thoroughly as if you were feeding it to your own family.

All Foods Can Be Dangerous

One thing to note is that cats require a very balanced diet in order to enjoy greater health. All human foods – regardless of toxicity – are not going to be balanced for your cat’s specific dietary needs. While you may want to make food for your cat, the reality is that your pets do not need to enjoy the safe foods you enjoy to be happy, and the cat foods that are available on the market today have been specifically designed to be the most beneficial for your cat’s specific dietary needs.

However, if you would like to make your cat a treat on rare occasion, proceed with caution, and fully research all of the foods that may be toxic to your cat. Most foods should be able to pass through your cat’s stomach unharmed, but you would not want to cause your cat illness just because you wanted your cat to enjoy a special treat.

By Doctor Jan Bellows

22Sep

Unlike most other pets, cats are notorious for being able to clean themselves regularly without the need of your assistance. With bodies that can bend all of the way backward in order to lick even the most private of areas, cats can generally groom themselves on a regular basis without any assistance from you. In fact, cats not only can groom themselves on their own – it may be more beneficial for them as well.

A cat’s tongue is designed to help groom itself. As a result, it actually has many benefits for your cat’s overall health, including:

  • Removing dead skin cells gently.
  • Easily removing fallen/stuck hairs.
  • Improving your cat’s blood circulation.
  • Helping to tone your cat’s muscles.

A cat’s tongue is quite clean and designed for this purpose, which is why most cats can get along just fine on their own even if they are never groomed by their owners.

However, some grooming can be beneficial for your cats. There are areas of your cat that tend to get less attention, and if you are able to groom them correctly, your cat will be cleaner, and likely healthier as well.

Tips for Cat Grooming

Obviously it is a good idea to give your cat a light brushing and a bath now and then. Cats are not fond of water, but on rare occasion these baths can help clear away any dirty and debris that your cat may have missed. But beyond that there are a few additional tips for grooming your cats that you should use whenever you decide to clean your pet.

1)      Cleaning the Inside of Your Cat’s Ears

One of the places your cat is unable to reach is inside their own ears. Inside of their sensitive ears can be a variety of different pieces of dirt, bacteria and mites that may result in at worst health problems, and at best annoying irritations for your pet. That is why whenever you choose to groom your cat you should always check inside their ears and possibly use a cat ear cleaning solution in order to remove any particles and living things that may have built up in there over time.

2)      Make Grooming Rewarding

Another tip for the cat groomer is to make sure that the entire process of grooming is a rewarding experience. Provide your cat with a variety of tasty treats as you are grooming in order to have your cat looking forward to you handling it. Cats can be grouchy at times if you try to groom them without their permission. But when you give your cat a treat before and during the grooming process, you are able to keep your cat’s attention away from the grooming and make the entire experience extremely rewarding.

3)      Cut Your Cat’s Claws

You have no doubt watched as your cat has attempted to scratch up your furniture (or hopefully a scratching post). Often times cats will scratch items a great deal, especially if their claws grow longer. While you cannot stop scratching behavior, you can reduce the damage that your cats do to your furniture by cutting your cat’s claws regularly to make them shorter and less painful. Not only will this reduce damage, but when your cats jump on your lap you will not have any painful accidents.

Cat Grooming

Some cat owners believe that you need to be grooming your cat all the time. In general, however, your cat can keep itself clean on its own, and does not require much work on your part – especially if you are raising an indoor cat. However, on occasion you are going to want to give your cat a nice grooming in order to reduce the likelihood of skin and hair irritation. Follow these tips and gentle grooming practices, and your cat should appreciate you  for them.