Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Should we feed our cats the same diet day after day or provide some variety?

This may be more complicated than it appears. It's not a yes/no type of question, and is probably best answered, "It depends." Youngsters of most species are taught by their mothers, if they're lucky enough to still have them around, what foods are appropriate for their well being and are also taught the skills needed to obtain the right prey and how to eat them. In this case, predators such as cats must learn to hunt, perform the "kill bite" correctly, and how to dispatch the prey. They learn things like eating the organs first, such as the brain and stomach, to get the best nutrition. They also learn how to protect their catch from intruders who would steal their prize. (Does your cat swat at you if you get too close to her food dish while she's eating? This is why. Don't take it personally. Just respect kitty's need to eat undisturbed.)

While all this describes wild cats, these instinctive behaviors can help us understand why our sweet, gentle house-kitties still do some disturbing things, such as bringing you the mouse they just bagged, or other oddities in from outside if they have access to do so.

However, today's question probably applies most specifically to our household cats that never go outdoors. So I will forego the details of the hunt. Just realize that hunting is basic to any cat, even one that has no experience with it. However, just so you know, don't expect a tame cat to "go wild" if it gets outside and is expected to fend for itself. They do have to learn how to hunt properly and if they don't, they will not be successful and thus will not survive outdoors. The instinct exists but the skills must be learned.

So, in the interest of a housecat that never goes out, let's assume you just got a kitten. Depending on its age, you will want to feed an age-appropriate diet so it grows into the healthy cat Nature meant it to be. Kittens are in  "learn mode" so you will be the teacher. If you teach baby kitties to eat only dry kibble (or some company's so-called "kitten food"), they learn to accept it as normal and may refuse anything else, even for the rest of their lives. But a single-source commercial food can have some risks, one of the most common being kidney disease.

Meat has moisture; kibble pretty much has none, maybe 10% at most. Cats aren't known for being big drinkers, so don't expect kitty to make up for that deficiency by drinking more. Again, instinct. Given that the cat is known for evolving from its desert-dwelling ancestors, they need moisture, and Nature provides it by giving them an appetite for meat. So the first thing you could try is offering the little ones some meat. It really helps if an older cat is present to demonstrate, as kittens learn by watching the older ones.

But if they are orphans, you will have to be the one to encourage them to eat meat. If they turn it down, try offering canned food, which can be up to 80% water. You can even add more water to this food to make a "kitty soup" to help them get enough moisture in their systems to prevent stress on the kidneys.

Also keep in mind that kittens are growing fast and have a high energy level, which requires frequent refueling with high energy kinds of food. Meat fulfills this requirement better than kibble, but if that's all they have access to, they need to eat often and a lot.

If you acquire an adult cat and it only eats dry food, you probably should try to offer some variety, especially food with moisture in it. The worst canned food is better than the best dry food, according to some veterinarians who really understand feline nutrition. But if you can afford it, it's worth it to use higher quality canned foods. Look for real meat as the first item in the ingredients list on the label. Then mix things up by feeding canned food made from different meats for variety, such as chicken, beef, pork, or even venison, duck and rabbit. This allows the cat to experience different flavors and benefit from the qualities different meats offer. Chicken has a higher protein content than beef, for example.

You will need to be patient with adult cats stuck in a routine as they usually need more time to learn new habits. Transitioning a cat to a new way of eating can take quite a while, so be patient and don't give up. My kitty Frosty took more than five years to accept raw meat. She still prefers her canned food for regular meals but recently seems to have decided that meat morsels make great treats. When she first got here, she only ate kibble, so she has come a long way.

You can find more information on this subject online by searching Cornell University's Feline Health Center.

https://www2.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feeding-your-cat

Also check out this site:

https://catinfo.org/commercial-cat-foods/  (Dr. Lisa Pierson)


Saturday, October 06, 2018

Does Your Cat Meow a Lot?

Why cats meow has always intrigued people and at times has led to some unfortunate misunderstandings.

Cats rarely "talk" to each other, as they are more into using body language and other physical signs to communicate with each other. But around humans, they've learned from watching us that we not only talk a lot, but we seem to expect them to talk back! So they do. They also learn that it's a very effective way to get our attention if they need or want something. It can help our relationships with them, but there are several situations that may lead to negative responses, or even life-threatening results, if they are ignored or punished.

Here are some reasons our cats meow:
1. Not surprisingly, there could be a health issue that is causing them pain or other distress. We need to heed their plaintive cries and check it out, even if it means a trip to the vet if you can't solve it quickly. I remember one older cat surrendered at my shelter who whined a lot, which is why the owner gave her up. After looking her over myself and not finding any sore spots or wounds, and a good range of motion for all joints, I looked in her mouth, expecting perhaps a bad tooth or gum disease.

She was drooling and her mouth didn't close completely. Using a flashlight, I discovered a tooth had broken off and lodged in the hinge area of her jaw, way in the back of her mouth. I reached in with some tweezers as a helper restrained her by wrapping her in a towel, and firmly grasped the tooth and slowly pulled it out. She flinched, of course, but after that, she was visibly grateful and had some cat food immediately, as if she had been starving for weeks. She probably was. She gained weight during her stay and finally was adopted to someone who was willing to pay attention to her needs.

2. Loneliness. Cats are social animals and though they adapt well to being the only pet in a household, they can and often do become lonely if their people don't pay attention to them. How would you like to live in a busy home, only to be ignored by everyone? They may be "independent" but they're not antisocial, unless they have to be. By the way, none of my cats can be called independent. I interact with them often and lovingly, and they are used to this, so they seek my attention frequently by calling me! Granted, that may annoy some people. But I have a great rapport with my kitties!

3. Plain old stress. Cats, like anybody, prefer to be comfortable, safe and free to enjoy their surroundings. If anything is disturbed or disrupted, they will adapt to it as well as they can, but not without consequences.  If someone, such as another cat, a dog, or the kids are annoying them, teasing them, or hurting them in any way, they will generally hide out. But living under the sofa or bed all the time is not exactly an enriching environment and can lead to emotional problems. They may become silent, to avoid detection, or they may become cry babies, complaining about the conditions. It's up to us to help them be comfortable in their own homes.

4. They need or want something. Just like children, our cats may come to us to get them something, such as food, a favorite toy or invitation to play, or to let them out of or into another room and the door is closed. A common hint is how they will stare at the door knob.

5. Just sayin' hi. As mentioned, cats are social animals, so they may seek our attention by simply asking for it.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Sadly, my newsletter provider service is not working this month. All efforts and attempts to create and send this month's newsletter, The Kitty Times, have failed.  Even the text-only version refused to send out to all of you on my list. I sent in several support requests but never got a response. So my only recourse is to simply publish the letter here, on my blog. This way it's also available to everyone!

 So here is the May 7 edition for you (sorry, a couple days late):

First up, here are the holidays for May:

National Pet Month. (US)
Responsible Animal Guardian Month.
Pet Cancer Awareness Month. Sponsored by Pet Cancer
        Awareness and the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research.
Chip Your Pet Month.

National Pet Week--1st week of May
Be Kind to Animals Week--1st week of May
National Professional Pet Sitters Week
1st full week: American Humane’s Be Kind to Animals Week.
      This week-long event has been celebrated since 1915. Always the first full
      week of May.
May 1-7, 2016: National Pet Week. Always held the first full week of May by the
      American Veterinary Medical Association.

May 3: National Specially Abled Pets Day
May 3: National Disabled Pets Day
Endangered Species Day - May 18, 2018 (Third Friday in May) There are big cats on that list!
May 8: National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day.

May 30 - Hug Your Cat Day! Some say May 3 others May 15.  As for me, every day is Hug Your Cat Day!

And here are a few June holidays to get you started, since the newsletter comes out on the 7th.

June 4: Another Hug Your Cat Day!
June 3-9:  Pet Appreciation Week. First full week in June.
June 9: World Pet Memorial Day.
 
FUN LINKS:

This is a very cute and very short video of an adorable kitty who makes quite
a face when she smells something interesting on her person's hand!

https://iheartcats.com/ragdoll-kitty-dramatically-reacts-to-catching-her-human-cheating/

--------------

WeRCats.com

This site is dedicated to sharing stories, videos, photos and anything
else about our fabulous furry feline friends. Feel free to explore their
many stories, share ideas and stories and ask questions about your cat.

------------------------------

Big Cats LOVE Catnip Too!

I love watching the big cats go crazy for catnip, just like our
little tigers at home!

http://blog.theanimalrescuesite.com/bigcat-catnip/

---------------------------

Pets Paint at Best Friends Animal Society

In between playtime, walks and training, animals at Best Friends
Animal Sanctuary engage in activities that enrich their lives, and
they create amazing works of art in the process. With a smattering
of animal-safe paint, they're making their world a little more beautiful,
and helping to find their forever homes in the process.

They are doing this project as a fundraiser, too, and you can purchase
some of the artwork. However, some of it is available for a free download
also. I picked up some new wallpaper of kitty pawprints for my screen

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=58&v=xMW-X8sjIqw

==================

HEALTH AND BEHAVIOR LINKS:

Do you know the signs of stress in your cat? Most cat people recognize
when their beloved pet is under stress, but many do not. Share the
information in this article with friends and others you know who may
not be offering the best care to their cats simply because they don't
realize their cat is under stress. Too many cats are punished for behavior
they can't help because their owners don't know the signs or how to help
them. There is good info on this site for dogs, too.

https://www.de-stressyourpet.com/

---------------------------

A warning about bobcat fever!

http://fox17.com/news/local/nashville-area-womans-cat-dies-from-bobcat-fever

--------------------------------------------------
 PET FOOD

https://www.petful.com/recall-lists/cat-food-recalls/

Worried about pet food safety? Report Problems to the FDA!
http://catcentric.org/2015/09/22/want-safer-cat-food-it-takes-just-two-clicks-to-report-problems-to-the-fda/

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/

http://1.usa.gov/1q7Vi0c

http://www.petsadviser.com/pet-food-recalls/

http://www.littlebigcat.com/nutrition/why-dry-food-is-bad-for-cats-and-dogs/


Shelter feed links:
http://bit.ly/Food4Animals
http://www.freekibblekat.com/

------------------------------------
Helpful Links:

Share the #TruthAboutCats with your friends:
www.alleycat.org/TruthAboutCats

Disaster preparedness tips.
My disaster preparedness page for animals and people: ccadrt.1hwy.com
I just added more new links for the hurricane season.

Need help with your vet bills? This site offers some good information.
https://www.youcaring.com/blog/2016/need-help-with-vet-bills

-------------------------------------------

Past issues are stored at this link, if you would like to see them, and hope it works. 

http://ymlp.com/archive_gqbyjegjgu.php

My email links:
hipaws @ hotmail.com
felinehelpline @ live.com
catsgalore4 @ hotmail.com

Just as a side note, I've also obtained a new domain, just in case something
weird happens to my old stand-by, the problemcat.com. Anything is possible
right now as I am in the process of reorganizing everything since my husband
passed away just before Christmas. We were partners in all the business ventures
we had going on the internet and now I must change the names and settings on
the many accounts we had set up.
The new site is called MyProblemCat.com
For now, it redirects to TheProblemCat.com, but I hope to relaunch it this
coming year with a new look.

See you next month!

RJ Peters, the Cat Lady

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Getting Creative With Crates

Guest post by Rosalie Schultz

There has been a lot of criticism recently of people who allow cats to roam outdoors. Books such as Peter Marra's Cat Wars: The Devastating Consequences of a Cuddly Killer do make a point. Roaming cats are clearly responsible for the deaths of many birds and members of other valuable wildlife species.

This new emphasis on the harm done by outdoor cats flies in the face of a lot of trap/neuter/release programs that have been started around the U.S. as a way of putting feral cats to work controlling rodent populations. I myself was the guardian of a feral colony in Chicago. When my neighbor complained about the presence of roaming cats in her yard, I oriented several of the cats to greater domesticity. But it's very hard to re-condition alley cats to be satisfied staying indoors all the time. My cats still use a pet door to spend some time in my yard almost every day. Attempts at blocking off that pet door led to ferocious clawing, squalls, bad temper, and persistent, destructive efforts at escape.

However, I have felt a little less guilty about allowing my cats to continue some roaming behavior after I read an excerpt from Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species. In an early chapter of that 1859 ground-breaking work, Darwin says:

The murder of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests... Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, on the number of cats; and Mr. Newman says, “Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice.” Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district! (Darwin and others of that era referred to bumblebees as “humble-bees.”)

Researching this matter a little further, I found a lot of people in the Victorian era had made a similar association between the presence of sufficient numbers of roaming cats and the flourishing of their gardens. In the rather sexist terms of that era, people would lament the scarcity of “old maids.” That's because old maids were famous for keeping cats. No old maids, no cats. No roaming cats and the rodent population exploded. An exploding rodent population meant the destruction of bees' nests and therefore a failure of flowers and crops to be sufficiently cross-pollinated.

I don't seriously think that an insufficiency of feral cats is behind the collapse of bee populations around the world. However, in helping to control rodent populations, feral cats might at least play a small role in helping bees survive to do their vital work.

Incidentally, my cats DO control the rodent population. They kill not only mice, but large rats. People have doubted that cats will tackle hefty rats, but I can attest that my cats are lethal to even the biggest neighborhood rats.

However, after having had my conscience salved a little by reading Darwin's affirmation of the need for roaming cats, I was still left with the fact that my cats were killing as many as 3-4 birds a week that they caught around my bird-feeders. But I might have finally come up with an effective way of greatly reducing the risk to birds.

Nothing I commonly saw recommended worked. No bell collars, colorful clown collars, or typical fences, prevented my cats from catching birds unaware. But – Eureka! I have found an answer that seems to have cut down bird fatalities at my bird-feeders by about 90%. The answer is milk crates!

I collected a number of milk crates, the kind that have the open lattice-work bases. I kept in place the low wire fence I had put around the area under my bird-feeders. But inside that “compound,” I upended a dozen or more milk crates. The wire fence by itself did almost nothing to slow down my cats' attacks. But the cats absolutely cannot negotiate on top of or around the massed milk crates. However, the birds can easily perch on top of the plastic cross-pieces on these crate bottoms. And they can easily forage between the crates for dropped birdseed. These crates can be moved in seconds so that I can gain access to the bird-feeders to regularly re-fill and clean them.

Below is a picture of the crates I've positioned under my feeder. Given a little more time, I can collect or buy a more attractive array of crates, possibly even creating a tiered, multi-colored effect with them. Without getting too kitschy, I might also use the crates' plastic lattice-work as supports for real or artificial flowers. By decorating the crates with flowers, I would be making it even more difficult for the cats to negotiate their surfaces, and I'd be making a colorful display that would attract more birds and make the arrangement more visually appealing to neighbors. A person could exercise no end of creativity grouping milk crates into attractive landscape structures.




Saturday, November 26, 2016

Shop For Cat T-shirts!

With the holiday shopping season upon us, you may want to send some cool cat shirts to people on your list! Or, you can get one or more for yourself to show the world of your love for cats. 

Then, if you need some ideas for gift-giving throughout the year, be sure to visit the T-shirt page anytime:

 http://loveablecat.blogspot.com/p/t-shirts-for-cat-lovers.html

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Busy year!

This has been a busy year here... busier than usual. I have to attribute that to the fact that I have an aging population of cats I've rescued and that did not get adopted. I would have to say, there is a "sweet spot" for adopting cats and once it's gone, those cats seldom find new homes. In general, if a cat is considered "too old" by potential adopters, the cat will be passed over.

Too old isn't the only reason, either. The black cats tend to be passed over as well. At one point, I had more than 10 black cats and an equal number of "tuxedo" cats. I still have some of them.

Many shelters simply remove "unadoptables" from their care to make room for the new ones that always come in. Yes, I'm referring to euthanasia, a sad but often inevitable fate in most animal facilities. I don't do that. Granted, it has left me to care for older pets with nowhere to go, and no room for newcomers. But they deserve nothing less than to enjoy and finish the life they were meant to have.

This summer I lost a number of older cats as they reached their lifespan limits, and it was sad to see them go. I will never forget them, as we became pretty close. Contrary to what a lot of people think, cats can become very bonded with and devoted to their humans and it has little to do with food. I have feline friends who are more loyal and loving than some people I know. If you have a cat like that, you know what I mean. Feel free to send me your story if you'd like. I can put it in here, or we can just share our experiences. My sweet girl, Holly, was the most recent loss, just a few weeks ago. She was 27.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Cat Whiskers Are Too Important to Mess With!

Have you ever heard of "Whisker Stress?" Cats have amazing ways to see and feel things in their environment, and whiskers are part of the many sensitivities they use to gather information. When whiskers are lost, for any reason, or are interfered with, it can result in a form of stress, called Whisker Stress.

Have you ever known anyone who wanted to cut off a cat's whiskers to see what effect it would have on them? Some people do that, and it's more cruel than they can imagine. There is no need to do it! If you are actually curious, and not being mean on purpose, here is a better way to learn what a cat's whiskers mean to them.

One thing I did as a kid that instantly gave me a better understanding and appreciation of their "feelers" was to "try them on." Anyone who has cats knows they shed hair, and whiskers are shed, too, as they are a specialized type of hair. When you find one somewhere, save it, and the next one, though this works with only one if you're anxious to start.

Rinse it or them off in water or alcohol if you're concerned about germs or something, then put one lightly into each corner of your mouth, root end first. Now close your eyes and just feel your surroundings. You can feel subtle air currents, anything that comes close to you, and definitely if anything touches one. In fact, just touch one yourself. Try different weights of touch, from just barely to pretty strongly. Imagine if they are attached. You would not enjoy having them pulled on or out.

Look at the whisker, Note that it is tapered. The thicker end is attached by its follicle to the extraordinarily sensitive lip area, and it narrows to almost nothing at the outer end. Feel it. It's fairly thick at the base and very thin at the end. Try bending it. Brush one against your skin, your lips, your face.

Once you see and feel all the things that whiskers do, just imagine how much your cat depends on them.My blind cat kept hers pointed forward anytime she was on the move, as they served her much like a blind person's white cane.

Why would anyone want to take this special, often crucial, sense away from an animal?

For more information, read about Whisker Stress at PerPETuallyspeaking.blogspot.com.