Boarding vs Petsitter

We all know that cats like it hot – cuddling under the covers, napping in toasty beds, and lounging in sunny windowsills. But with all that heat come summer concerns.

First of all, it’s good to know that cats don’t sweat the way we do and it’s its very important to watch for the signs of over exposure to heat. Cats can only sweat through the pads on their paws. This is why it is very important to make sure that in hot weather your cat has a way to stay cool. Here are some tips:

Keep your house cool by drawing the blinds during the hottest times of the day. Use fans and/or air conditioning if you are able.

Make sure your cat has a cool place to be – ventilation or moving air is very important. If the air is very still and warm use a small fan to get the air moving. Often cats will find cool places on their own – tile floors, sinks or bathtubs. Some cats will enjoy a damp towel laid over their favorite sleeping spot. You can also place an ice pack under the towel to provide a very cool spot.

Make sure if the cat is outside they have shade and cool spots in the garden. Make sure they are not able to get trapped in a hot garden shed and/or crawl into a car.

Never travel with your cat in a carrier in very hot weather. Your cat’s body temperature can rise dramatically. If you must travel with them, avoid the hottest times of the day and use the car’s air conditioning. NEVER leave them unattended.

If your cat has a very thick or long coat consider having them groomed. Have you ever seen a cat with a “lion cut”? A lion cut is a charming hair style for cats in which the fur is clipped very short except for on the paws, tail and head. Brushing your cat will also help remove thick and matted fur that traps heat.
Provide plenty of cool fresh water at all times for both indoor and outdoor cats. Add water to your cat’s food to provide extra moisture. This is important for all cats but especially important for cats living in hot and dry climates.

cat stories Boarding vs Petsitter

Do not engage your pet in play or allow them to exercise and possibly become overheated.

Seek veterinary care at once of you notice the following signs of heatstroke:

  • Nervous, distressed or agitated behavior
  • Open mouth breathing and/or heavy panting
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Unsteady walking or staggering

The very first thing you must do, though, is get the cat to a cooler, well ventilated place. If you are not able to get them to the veterinarian quickly, begin to cool them gradually. Never pour cold water over the cat or submerge it in cold water as this may make matters worse. Gently spray the cat with cool water, especially over the head (while avoiding the face.) Seek the advice of a veterinarian and stay with the cat until they are well recovered. Once the crisis has passed, please make a plan to avoid such problems in the future!

Children Reading to Shelter Cats – Everyone Wins!

An innovative program in the United States and Canada has brought together children and shelter cats in a delightful and loving manner. In Berks County, Pennsylvania, the Animal Rescue League (ARL) has begun a program they call “Book Buddies”. It’s a program that brings children together with shelter cats that need attention and socialization. Every week, about 30 children read to the cats that are waiting to find their forever homes.

Designed for children in grades 1-8, reading at any level, the program invites them to come into the shelter to read to the cats in the adoption room. Everyone benefits in this situation as for the children, especially shy children; the cats offer a safe and non-judgmental audience for practicing their reading skills. Many teachers and parents are reporting improvement in many children’s reading skills because they are reading more often. Many of the children have gone from not liking to read to really enjoying it and having more confidence in their reading skills. It’s often much easier for them to read to a cat then humans.

cat stories

As for the shelter cats, the interaction with children is a wonderful thing. They love (and need) the extra attention and seem to enjoy the sound of the children’s voices when reading. Interaction with the children is good for the cats as it keeps them well socialized to people and a chance to interact with children if they have never done so before. It also gives the shelter workers good information on the temperament of the cat. This information is helpful when they are recommending a cat to a new family that has children. Often cats are surrendered to the shelter and it is not known how they react to children and if they would be good in a family situation. Another benefit is that shelter life can be hard on cats; and this program is a wonderful addition to the hard work shelter caretakers do to keep them happy and healthy.

As for the cats, what do they enjoy listening to? Do they enjoy mystery stories, mouse stories or cat stories? “It doesn’t matter to them [the cats] what the book is about, how well the child is reading to them or anything like that,” said Kristi Rodriguez, a volunteer and program coordinator at the center. “They just love the one-on-one contact that the kids provide.”

But “Book Buddies” isn’t the only program of this kind. There are several organizations that pair children up with dogs such as Library Dogs, Reading with Rover and Tail Wagging Tales. And there is even a program where children read to horses – the Black Stallion Literacy Project!

What can be better, animals getting some much needed attention and children learning to read – it’s a win win situation for all involved!

Summer Tips for Cats

We all know that cats like it hot – cuddling under the covers, napping in toasty beds, and lounging in sunny windowsills. But with all that heat come summer concerns.

silver persian

First of all, it’s good to know that cats don’t sweat the way we do and it’s its very important to watch for the signs of over exposure to heat. Cats can only sweat through the pads on their paws. This is why it is very important to make sure that in hot weather your cat has a way to stay cool. Here are some tips:

  • Keep your house cool by drawing the blinds during the hottest times of the day. Use fans and/or air conditioning if you are able.
  • Make sure your cat has a cool place to be – ventilation or moving air is very important. If the air is very still and warm use a small fan to get the air moving. Often cats will find cool places on their own – tile floors, sinks or bathtubs. Some cats will enjoy a damp towel laid over their favorite sleeping spot. You can also place an ice pack under the towel to provide a very cool spot.
  • Make sure if the cat is outside they have shade and cool spots in the garden. Make sure they are not able to get trapped in a hot garden shed and/or crawl into a car.
  • Never travel with your cat in a carrier in very hot weather. Your cat’s body temperature can rise dramatically. If you must travel with them, avoid the hottest times of the day and use the car’s air conditioning. NEVER leave them unattended.
  • If your cat has a very thick or long coat consider having them groomed. Have you ever seen a cat with a “lion cut”? A lion cut is a charming hair style for cats in which the fur is clipped very short except for on the paws, tail and head. Brushing your cat will also help remove thick and matted fur that traps heat.
  • Provide plenty of cool fresh water at all times for both indoor and outdoor cats. Add water to your cat’s food to provide extra moisture. This is important for all cats but especially important for cats living in hot and dry climates.
  • Do not engage your pet in play or allow them to exercise and possibly become overheated.

Seek veterinary care at once of you notice the following signs of heatstroke:

  • Nervous, distressed or agitated behavior
  • Open mouth breathing and/or heavy panting
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Unsteady walking or staggering

The very first thing you must do, though, is get the cat to a cooler, well ventilated place. If you are not able to get them to the veterinarian quickly, begin to cool them gradually. Never pour cold water over the cat or submerge it in cold water as this may make matters worse. Gently spray the cat with cool water, especially over the head (while avoiding the face.) Seek the advice of a veterinarian and stay with the cat until they are well recovered. Once the crisis has passed, please make a plan to avoid such problems in the future!

Old Cat Care

Many cats lead long and happy lives due to good nutrition, health care and loving kindness but there are many physical changes that occur in their body as they age. This is why veterinary visits and periodic bloodwork are very important. It is also a good idea to watch for symptoms of common illnesses that affect cats such as increased drinking and urinating, weight loss and frequent vomiting.

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Some of the changes that happen in a cat’s body are:

  • A cat’s ability to regulate its body temperature diminishes. Cold weather is very difficult on them. Precautions should be made for cats left outside and provide cozy sleeping places inside. Many cats love a heated bed!
  • Circulation worsens and causes the skin cells to not receive as much oxygen. The skin may be damaged more easily. Frequent brushing and keeping the haircoat shorter helps cats stay cleaner. Check your cat’s paws to make sure nails are not growing into the pad, as this can be very painful.
  • Smell and taste are duller in an older cat and there are fewer taste buds. This may cause a lack of appetite. In addition, dental problems can make eating difficult. You may need to tempt your pet with warmed foods and find healthy treats to stimulate appetite.
  • Eyesight worsens as thickening of the lenses and even cataracts may appear. This can be very serious for cats left on their own outside. Even for the indoor cat, this may be a reason the kitty is not making it to the litterbox in the middle of the night. Provide lighting at night.
  • Hearing worsens and wax may also build up dulling sounds that can get through. Your vet can examine your pet’s ears to make sure there is not a medical problem causing hearing loss. Be careful to not startle a sleeping pet that may not hear you and with outdoor pets when starting up and moving cars.
  • The digestive system becomes less efficient and may not be able to absorb large meals. Smaller, more frequent meals may be better for your pet.
  • Muscle tone and volume diminishes, making the cat move more slowly and with less agility. Cats can suffer from arthritis. Provide ramps or stairs so they will have an easier time getting on the couch or bed. Cut down the side of the litterbox to make it easier for them to step into.
  • The urinary system becomes less efficient. This can cause more infections and accidents. Pay close attention to litterbox hygiene.
  • The nervous system is slowing down, making cats slower to react or learn. This may cause behavioral changes. Many cats may wander or become lost. Keep identification on them and keep them safely contained and away from steps or dangerous places they may wander.

Many behavioral problems may be medical in origin and undesirable reactions from our pets may be in response to pain. Addressing and treating these issues are very important in keeping your older cat happy and comfortable.

Helping Stray Cats in Your Neighborhood

Stray cats are a problem in every community. Many are born out of doors to wild mothers, become lost or have been abandoned. Many people recognize this as a problem but don’t know how to help. But there are many things that you can do!

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  • Spay and neuter your own cats! If not, they could be contributing to the problem.
  • Keep identification on your own cat, if it goes outside. Microchipping is a permanent way to identify your cat. Collars with tags that have your name and telephone number on them are a must. Identification is your pet’s ticket back home.
  • Consider having an indoor only pet. Many become displaced when left to roam outside and then become stray themselves.
  • Communicate! When a new cat shows up, ask your neighbors if this is their pet. Getting to know your neighborhood pets builds community and keeps you on the alert for any animals that have gotten into trouble. Knowing who belongs where can keep an animal from becoming permanently lost..
  • Place signs and ads when an animal is found. Post signs in supermarkets, post offices, community centers, pet stores and veterinary hospitals, etc. Put a brief description of the animal, location where it was found and your telephone number. Leave out details. If someone calls have them give you identifying features of the animal (crooked tail, spot on forehead, etc) so you know they are not out to get a free cat.
  • When adopting a stray cat, be sure it doesn’t belong to someone! Often cats wander for several days at a time and this is normal for them. Some people will not consider a cat lost until they are gone a week or two. Make every effort to locate an owner first.
  • Feeding stray cats is not enough. Instead of only investing in cat food, invest in having them spayed or neutered.
  • Involve your neighbors! Every neighborhood has a “Momcat” who has litter after litter. She reproduces and her kittens then do. Your neighborhood may also have a resident “Tomcat” who is the father of many and a troublemaker. Neutering him helps stop his breeding and spreading of disease. You and your neighbors can chip in $5.00 to have them fixed. You can even have a bake or yard sale to raise money! The costs of spaying and neutering, veterinary care and food are much less when shared. Another benefit is that no one person feels they are shouldering the burden. Many communities have colonies of healthy feral cats. The responsibility of maintaining these colonies is shared among several caretakers.
  • If you cannot find a home for every stray cat, make it a healthy cat in the meantime. Have them spayed or neutered and provide shelter, food, water, socialization and medical care on a consistent basis. These will greatly help the life of an outdoor animal.
  • Never ignore a cat in trouble. YOU may be the cat’s only chance at being helped.
  • Volunteer with a group that helps cats or start one. You many be surprised that others are doing the same thing as you. This is an invaluable way to share resources and knowledge.

 

Cassidy -The Cat Who Saved His Own Life

One busy morning, a client rushed into a veterinary hospital where I was working with an injured cat. He had seen the cat in the neighborhood for weeks and had tried unsuccessfully to befriend it. Following a trail of blood he found the injured and scared cat under his house. He carefully rescued and rushed him into the hospital. We assumed the cat was feral.

He was very thin, dirty, flea ridden and had a badly broken leg. Because he was in such terrible physical shape the decision was made to euthanize him. His rescuer and veterinary staff felt that it wouldn’t be fair to amputate the leg and release him to fend for himself. It was a sad moment and I was thinking about the horrible fate of homeless animals. I had just given Cassidy a tranquilizer and sat by his cage talking to him. Although we hardly knew him, it was important that he not leave this world unloved.Then he purred and licked my hand, hardly the actions of a feral cat.

Cassidy2This cat needed a second chance. I began to think that if he was euthanized, it might be the end of the story – that he would die a nameless stray cat, a victim of animal cruelty. Animals need us to be their advocates and that is why I decided to speak up on his behalf. I asked the doctors if they could reconsider, this was not a feral cat, but a loving and sweet cat and that deserved a second chance. We tested him for FeLV/FIV and Xrayed his leg. He had been shot several times.

When stable, the cat now known as Cassidy, had his leg amputated. The surgery was uneventful but afterwards Cassidy began to have seizures. Following the seizures, he was unable to hold his head up and had severe neurological issues. Round the clock monitoring was needed to make sure he got his medications, ate well and was kept clean. This was a project that the entire staff helped with. Often he could be found in the arms of staff members who just wanted to hold and love him. Slowly he began to have more control of his head and limbs and could eat without assistance, but he was still unable to walk. A remarkable cat, Cassidy remained cheerful and sweet throughout his ordeal, purring loudly. I decided to take him home to do physical therapy. In the weeks of rehabilitation at my home, we fell more in love and I decided to adopt him.

Cassidy’s loving and calm nature has made him many friends. He was inducted into the Oregon Animal Hall of Fame, an award given by the Oregon Veterinary Medical Association for his bravery and contributions to society. Later that year Cassidy was awarded a Diamond Collar award by the Oregon Humane Society! When not spreading joy in the community, Cassidy can be found snoozing happily with his human and cat family who clearly adore him!

 

Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats-What are the risks?

A subject of much controversy is whether to let cats roam free outside. For now, let’s focus on the welfare of the cats themselves. Of course cats are safer inside a home but I believe they live healthier lives having the benefit of fresh air and exercise. Because of this I have built an enclosure for my cats to safely enjoy the outdoors but I have one cat, Chuck, who cannot, for many reasons, be kept inside at all times. I know that I am taking a risk letting him outside, although he is not allowed out after dark. If you are thinking of letting your cat go outside or feel guilty when your cat wants to go outside, please know the risks.

cat stories

  • Lifespan: Free roaming cats generally live 2-3 years; cats kept inside can live up to 16 years or longer.
  • Cars: Cars are the number 1 killer of cats. Approximately 50% of all free roaming cats are killed in car accidents. 80% of all major traumas seen at emergency clinics are the result of being hit by cars. In addition, in cold weather cats will crawl under the hood of cars to stay warm. Severe injury results when someone not knowing the cat is in there turns on the car.
  • Disease: Cats outside are exposed to many diseases, many of which may be fatal; among them; FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus), FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis. All of these diseases are transmitted from cat to cat.
  • Poisons: Cats can get into poisonous chemicals. Bait used to kill rodents; treated lawns and anti-freeze are commonly used in all neighborhoods. Cats are especially attracted to the taste of anti-freeze and only a few licks are enough to kill a cat.
  • Other animals: Raccoons, other cats, dogs, skunks and coyotes, etc. are all animals that will attack cats. This may even happen on your own property!
  • Parasites: Some of the parasites that cats can contract from being outdoors are: Fleas, tapeworms, ear mites, roundworms as well as other internal parasites. Many cats suffer from allergies and skin irritations due to these parasites. While treatments are available for these, they can be costly, involve chemicals and be unpleasant to your cat.
  • Injury: Free roaming cats can suffer from ear and eye injuries, abscesses, broken bones and many other injuries. Many cats are not able to make it back home and may die on their own. Cats can caught in deadly steel leg hold traps and perish from this.
  • Human abuse: Sadly cats may suffer abuse, may be used in dogfights or hurt by other methods. Neighbors who are not cat lovers may be annoyed by them and take matters into their own hands. People have been known to trap cats and take them to another location.

It’s not a perfect world and we need to do the best we can to keep our cats safe. Feel free to contact me for suggestions on keeping your cat happy inside or building a safe, open air cattery. Your cat will thank you!

 

Nail and Foot Care for Cats

I just got 3 beautiful foster kittens to take care of and the second thing I noticed (after seeing their gorgeous faces) was the size of their paws! The largest kitten who I am calling Mittchell because he has such large mitts – has 7 toes on each of his front paws – 3 thumbs – and an extra toe on each of his back feet. He has 24 toes instead of the normal 18 toes and is what is called a polydactyl cat. This is a natural mutation that occurs in many cats. Many sailors thought that polydactyl cats were extra good luck but mostly people love them because they are so adorable!

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The polydactyl kitten or cat needs extra attention paid to those nails to make sure they do not grow into the pad. Healthy mobile animals will naturally wear down their nails; although many will need an occasional nail trim. Depending on your pet, trimming nails may be done at home by you, by a groomer or by a vet tech in your vet’s office. Go slow and be gentle as some animals may be very sensitive to having their feet handled for a number of reasons so give treats afterwards as a reward. Here’s some advice on healthy foot care for your cat:

 

 

Pay attention to:

  • The length of all nails. Some nails are hidden and easily forgotten about but when overgrown and growing into the pad, can be the source of much pain. Take action to keep nails trimmed and well away from growing onto the pad. If you are not comfortable doing this, ask for assistance or request lesson on how to do this. Going slow at first and only doing a few nails at a time is a good way to get both you and your kitten or cat used to this procedure.
  • The base of the nails. Is there infection, dirt or fungus present? Is there a bad smell? Healthy feet should not smell bad! Consult with your veterinarian if any of the above are present.
  • The pads of the feet. Are they dry and cracked, or red and painful? Cats with very furry feet that stay constantly damp from going outside in wet weather are more at risk for infections. Sometimes simply keeping the hair trimmed and the feet dry will help alleviate problems. If you live in a snowy area make sure your cat’s feet are free from ice that can collect between the toes.

To keep those nails healthy and to promote good scratching habits, always offer your kitten or cat an appropriate place to scratch. Cat scratchers made from sisal, cardboard or even a log from outside will keep your kitten or cat from using things such as furniture and/or carpet.

Start training your kitten or cat from an early age and redirect them to something more appropriate when they chose something you do not wish them to scratch on. Now go and enjoy the cuteness of those precious little cat feet!

 

What Anyone Taking Care of your Pet Should Know and Have

Going away on vacation or holiday this summer? Want to make sure your pet is properly cared for in the case of an emergency and you have to leave home quickly? Giving important information to the person caring for your cat or kitten can mean peace of mind for you and a safe and enjoyable time for your pet. Take time to fill out the checklist below and give a copy to your pet’s caretaker. You might also give another copy to a trusted neighbor and/or friend in the event your pet’s caretaker has an emergency or is unable to come as scheduled.

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What Anyone Taking Care of your Pet Should Know and Have:

  • A written description of your instructions with the most important information first. Pictures are very helpful if there are multiple pets. (Also if your pet becomes missing this will be helpful for making up flyers.) Household instructions should be written on another sheet.
  • An emergency phone number where you can be reached at all times. If you are unable
  • to be contacted is there someone else who can make decisions?
  • Does anyone else have a key to your home and will they be coming in?
  • What are your pet’s normal habits? Do they occasionally vomit? Miss a meal?
  • What foods can they be tempted with if they are not eating?
  • Where are their favorite hiding places? Do they ever sneak outside?
  • Who is your regular veterinarian?
  • Who provides medical emergency or after hours care?
  • What arrangements are in place for emergency care?
  • What are the financial arrangements for paying for emergency care?
  • Is there a monetary limit?
  • What are specific instructions as to what is to be done with your pet?
  • Do you want to be contacted if your pet passes away?

It is also a good idea to contact your veterinarian and let them know who will be caring for and possibly bringing your pet into the hospital. This is also a time to discuss financial arrangements and concerns older pet or one with health problems.

Now fly away, have a great time and imagine the wonderful reunion awaiting you when you return home!

Keeping Your Cat Hydrated

Throughout its life and especially as cats age, it is important that your cat stay well hydrated. Offering fresh water and feeding fresh and canned foods will help avoid dehydration and will encourage a healthy urinary system.

Ways of getting more moisture into your cat are:

  • Canned food or a balanced raw food diet
  • Cooked chicken or turkey breast with broth
  • Low fat plain yogurt
  • Organ meats such as heart, liver or kidneys given on occasion
  • Gizzards given on occasion
  • Steamed vegetables such as squash or broccoli. Grinding helps break down cellulose and make them more digestible.
  • Encouraging water consumption.

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To encourage your cat to drink more water, provide plenty of cool fresh water at all times and drinking stations through out the house and outside. Many like to drink fresh running water and there are several different types of water fountains for cats on the market. Some can be suspicious of new things; so make sure you know they are drinking out of the fountain before removing the other water bowls. Filtered or spring water is a good idea to use as it may taste fresher. Do not use distilled water as it may actually flush needed minerals out of the body.

When possible, cater to your cats wishes for drinking (except out of the toilet.) Try different types of bowls; some prefer a really wide bowl or have a preference for glass, ceramic or stainless steel. Many will appreciate their own glass of water on the night table. (Use caution and/or plastic cups, as some cats have been known to knock over the glass in the middle of the night!)

One friend got her cat to drink more by floating his favorite treats in the water bowl. Another puts a few inches of clean water in her bathroom sink every morning. Think out of the bowl and provide your cat with plenty of opportunities to get more fluids!

Adding warm water or broth to your cat’s food is another good idea. Low sodium beef, chicken, vegetable broth or tuna water can be offered to supplement your cat’s fresh water. If you want to serve your cat low sodium soup, read the list of ingredients carefully, and do not serve it if the soup contains onion powder as this can harm red blood cells and can cause illness or even death.

At some point, your vet may recommend giving subcutaneous (SC) injections of sterile saline solution under the skin to support hydration and keep the kidneys flushed. Low potassium levels can be an issue and some vets will add potassium to the fluid bag for additional benefit. Vitamin B may also be added in case the cat may be deficient in this vitamin (due to poor appetite) and to help stimulate appetite. A trained veterinary technician can show you how to administer the fluids if you chose to do this at home.