Monday, March 17, 2008
As a child I remember tales of my mother's family cats, with Uncle Tom being kept in the dark that it was his sister's cat that had enjoyed his favourite bird. Cats and birds shared the house; cat in house = bird in cage; bird free in house = cat outside screen door; I don't remember any of our cats dining on our birds though mother lost several budgies by going outside forgetting they were on her shoulder.
A long preamble perhaps but when animals are an integral part of your life one tends to treat them as family. So that, as one becomes more conscious of how one lives, by respecting the planet, eating healthily, not wasting food surely the same thing applies to how we feed our pets. I guess the principles of a healthy diet for a cat would be an organic, holistic one. Cats are carnivores - observe the number of mice that one has to dispose of, usually just the liver and intestines to be fair - our cats are thorough, unless they play with them first of course, in which case its mouse eradication from underneath grandfather clocks, heavy chests of drawers and the kitchen sink. So if one has a plentiful supply of mice a lot of problems are solved - pest extermination naturally, fresh raw meat, especially bone. However most cats have managed to domesticate humans and prefer a more varied diet. Trawling through many web sites night after night the main principles of a Healthy, Organic diet for your cat is:
Feed the diet that nature intended for your carnivore - as close as possible to the form and nutritional composition that your cat would eat in a natural setting. The diet that I choose to feed is very basic. Some of the elaborate and complicated recipes found on the internet are enough to cause anyone to abandon the idea of making their own cat food and that is a shame. It does not have to be that complicated and involved. The diet of a wild cat is pretty basic - they eat whole carcass prey, often leaving the stomach and intestines behind. In the wild, your cat would be eating a high protein, high-moisture content, meat-based diet, with a moderate level of fat and with only approximately 3-5 percent of her diet consisting of carbohydrates.
Cats are designed to obtain most of their water with their diet since their normal prey contains approximately 75 percent water.
Look for a muscle meat (preferably, not an organ meat like liver) as the first ingredient. A muscle meat is "chicken," or "turkey," etc. Not "chicken by-products" or "chicken by-product meal," or "chicken broth" or "liver". "Chicken meal" is technically a muscle meat but the term "meal" denotes that it has been rendered (cooked for a long time at very high temperatures) and is lower quality than meat that has not been as heavily processed. A "meal" product is more commonly found in dry foods. By-products can include feet, intestines, feathers, egg shells, etc. and are much less nutritious than meat.
Meat from known organic sources
Table scraps only as occasional treats
- Alcoholic beverages
- Grapes & raisins
- Mouldy or spoiled food
- Onions, garlic & chives
- Poultry bones
- Salt & salty foods
- Tomato leaves, stems & unripe fruit
- Yeast dough
Don't forget, though, that cats have different nutritional needs to humans so it's the principles ones follows not the actual diet.
Written by Frank & Anne Brown
We have owned, lived with, loved and bred cats since we were both kids. The recent revelations of the horrors of the 2007 - 2008 pet food recall led us to totally re-evaluate how we cared for our pets. We now source and prepare all our own cat food. The change in both cats has been dramatic, their health, energy and sheer vitality have changed so much.
Please visit us and see how YOUR pet's health can improve with just a little effort on your part.
Written by Frank & Anne Brown.
Frank and Anne have lived with, loved and bred cats since they were both kids. Recent revelations of the horrors of the 2007 - 2008 pet food recall led Frank and Anne to totally re-evaluate how they cared for their pets. They now source and prepare all their own cat food. The change in both their cats have been dramatic, their health, energy and sheer vitality changed so much.Check out this site and fin
Saturday, March 15, 2008
GPS collars can be used to track your pet should he or she ever get away. This tracking can be exact to about one meter or three feet. The term GPS means Global Positioning System. These days, GPS chips are so small that they can be hidden in any pet collar, or even implanted underneath your pet's skin
Once activated GPS dog collars can send real-time data directly to a portable receiving station in your house or car. In fact, new technology has made it possible for GPS Collars to send information to cell phones and laptop. If your pet has gone far, you can send information about his location in real time to police or fire departments that will find him and keep him safe until you arrive.
Never lose your pet again - get a GPS Collar for him or her. It feels and looks like a regular collar, and is completely safe and harmless to your dog or cat. GPS collars can even be made for birds and specially fit ones can be put on some reptiles.
GPS Collars have other uses as well - for example, when driving or hiking with your dog, the collar can help both of you know where you are. You can put the small GPS cat collar in your pocket and use it to know where you are even without your pet present.
There are too many stories about dogs wandering off into dangerous areas, or cats getting out and fighting with animals much bigger than them. Slowly these stories are being replaced by tales of dogs and cats wearing GPS collars and being rescued before they get in harm's way. Add your pet to the list of animals who were saved by a GPS dog collar or GPS cat collar.
Learn what farmers already know in order to track expensive cattle, and what many parents have learned in order to track their kids, use GPS technology for piece of mind!
GPS chips can provide a pet owner with a sense of security and comfort, but they should never take the place of all other preventative actions one would take to ensure their pet's safety. These GPS chips might augment what you already do, but they should never take the place of your current methods of watching over and protecting your pet.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
When you hear about somebody who wants to find a pet online, what is the first thing that you think about? For some people, the idea of pets and the virtual world online may never cross paths in the same thought. For others, they may have grown up in this new technological era and regularly search the Internet for almost anything that they have ever wanted to purchase. Whether you know it or not, finding pets online and pet classified ads online are not only very common, but actually a beneficial and much improved method when searching for the perfect pet.
When you are searching for pets online, you can discover a lot of information that may otherwise be unavailable to you just by going to your local pet shop or library. Information about pets that would take you days or even weeks to track down in the "real world" can be found in mere moments online. The huge volume of pet information that is available online can be used to help you discover the perfect pet for you or for someone you love.
Many types of pets have special needs and it is important to get as much information as you can before you invest a significant amount of money in a pet that you may have to find another owner because you were not prepared to meet it's needs once you found your ideal pet. For example, somebody who lived in the tropics would probably not have an ideal environment for many pets like Alaskan Malamutes or other animals that live in colder environments.
Many animals, especially among the more exotic pets, may be very fascinating and even very beautiful in their own way but you must be certain that you have the necessary environment to raise your pets properly. All of your efforts will be in vain unless you can take care of your pets once you bring them home. In the case of many exotic pets and global or national championship stock animals, this could be a very expensive loss that is unnecessary with preparation, research and planning for your pets.
Additionally, searching for pets online will allow you to get to know the people who actually sell the pets and in many instances, the animal breeders themselves. Finding a reputable pet shop, dealer or a breeder can be difficult if you do not know where to look. Often times, breeders do not go out of their way to advertise their services. If you are not currently involved in the showcasing of certain breeds or you are not actively involved in the social communities that come with some pets, it may be nearly impossible to find a pet without the Internet.
Whether you are searching for dogs and cats online or looking for a pet that is more exotic in nature, you can find a pet online that will meet all of your needs and furthermore, one that can comfortably adjust to your personal environment as well. Next time you think about getting a pet, think about how to find a pet online and you will likely be very pleased with the improved results.
Despite their status as the most popular pet in America, cats can still be difficult. With their sometimes aloof attitudes and unwillingness to tell us what they want, figuring out your cat can be tough.
When your cat, whether it's an Abyssinian or a Turkish Van, starts misbehaving, it can cause serious damage. From ripped curtains to urine-stained bed sheets, a cat on the rampage is hard to handle. Unfortunately, many owners give up on cats with behavior problems, but there are steps you can take to help your cat grow through or out of them.
To learn how to stop your cat from misbehaving, keep reading for 4 key tips on how to understand your cat.
1. Take your cat to the vet for a complete physical.
Sometimes a behavior problem can actually be a physical problem. For example, a cat that's urinating in strange places may be suffering from an illness or an infection.
Your vet can also offer suggestions and advice for problems that are behavioral.
2. Check the house for environmental factors.
Sometimes the solution is simpler than you think so check around the house for environmental factors that could be wreaking havoc on your cat's disposition.
For example, litter box problems are typically the source of rampant or improper urination. First, check where you're keeping the litter box - is it next to a loud appliance or in a heavily trafficked area of the house? Just like you, your cat wants a private and quiet place to do its business. You can also try a covered litter box, which most cats, particularly longhaired cat breeds, tend to prefer.
Next, try switching out the litter that you're using. If you're using scented, try unscented and if you're using non-clumping, try clumping. Some cats are just picky about their litter.
Finally, make sure the litter box is being cleaned frequently enough. Just as you wouldn't want to use a dirty toilet, your cat also wants a clean litter box. Also, make sure there is at least one litter box per cat as cats prefer to have their own.
3. Look to your other pets.
Sometimes problems with other animals in the house, like an aggressive older cat or a constantly chasing dog can lead to behavioral problems. Much like the child who acts out after being bullied, your cat may be dealing with those issues in the same way.
Always introduce new animals into the house slowly, keeping them separated from one another, but still able to smell and hear each other. Once they've gotten acquainted, let them co-mingle. If you're trying to deal with an existing problem, try using baby gates to keep your cats or pets separate from one another for a few days. This separation can help reduce anxiety.
4. Consult a professional.
Expensive and sometimes a last resort for many pet-owners, a pet behavior specialist may be able to help you and your cat work through your problems. According to the listings provided by the Association of Companion Animal Behavior Counselors (ACABC), a private behavior 1-hour consultation can cost anywhere from about $50 to $500, but most hover around the $70-$100 range.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Whether you're looking to purchase a new pet or advertise pets for sale, the Internet is perfect for seeking out information, reputable breeders and potential pet-buyers. However, with the convenience and vast selection that on-line pet classifieds provide, there also comes the need to check references and ask lots of questions. Keep reading for great tips on how to get the most out of advertising pets for sale or purchasing a pet online.
1. Ask for references
Always ask for references. As a pet buyer, you want to make sure that the breeder from whom you're purchasing is reputable and known for placing their animals in good homes. Actually call up the references and ask about the breeder's follow-up, their health screening and the conditions of their breeding business.
If you're a breeder and posting a "pets for sale" online classified, then you also want to make sure that your prospective buyer is the kind of person that will love and properly care for the animal. Feel free to ask them for character references or a veterinary reference if they own other animals.
2. Access the online pet/breed community
The Internet offers animal researchers a wealth of animal information, including access to pet communities with forums, image galleries and lots of breed information.
If you're looking to purchase a new animal (dog, cat, horse, bird, etc) through an online classified ad, try locating an Internet based pet community and joining. Once you're a member, ask questions, request referrals for quality breeders and solicit advice on your particular breed or species. It's like a neighborhood meeting, but specifically tailored to your pet questions.
A good pet classifieds site will also include information about different breeds and animals, as well as access to these valuable communities. For example, FindaPetonline.com is a pet classified site that also hosts a user-based web community and breed profiles.
3. Ask for a picture
If you're trying to buy a dog online (or cat, horse, or bird), always ask for pictures or video. Many quality breeders will be happy to provide remote buyers with short video footage of the prospective puppy playing and interacting with his brood.
If the animal is being sold as a purebred or as having been born from registered parents, ask for scans of the parental registration along with all the paperwork. Feel free to phone up the appropriate club or registration association to confirm the information.
4. Ask questions
If you're trying to sell an animal online through pet classifieds, don't be afraid to ask the prospective buyer questions. You want to make sure your prized horse, puppy, bird or kitten is going to a good home, so don't hesitate to ask about yard size or living conditions.
Buyers, the person selling you the animal should also be willing and ready to answer questions about everything from specific breed requirements to feed suggestions to how they house and care for their animals.
Remember, the Internet is a great opportunity to get in touch with qualified breeders and buyers all over the world, but with that potential comes a certain amount of responsibility. So, get documentation, ask questions, get references and access your online pet community.
CS Swarens is the president of Find a Pet Online. 800 998-7065
Every pet owner is faced with the prospect of having to travel with their dog, cat or bird at some point. Whether it is a few days or a few weeks, there are steps and products you can employ to make this a comfortable - if not fun - time for your pet!
When traveling, the most important thing to do is to take frequent breaks. Always buckle your pet in with a harness if you are not using a crate while driving. The safest and most comfortable place for your pet during car travel is in the back seat. When you have your pet in the back seat, always have some sort of bar barrier between the front and back seat -such as the 10 Bar Euro Auto Pet Barrier - or use a hammock-style barrier. This keeps your pet out of the way when you're driving.
A great option for keeping your pet occupied during travel is some sort of cushioned booster seat, which are available for dogs up to 30 lbs. These booster seats are calming for animals that stress easily during travel. Your dog or cat will be able to watch the surroundings, and be cushioned for comfort. Some great booster seats are the Lookout I or II. An option for cat traveling is the Kittywalk Cozy Cabin. All have a seat belt harness for added safety.
Traveling with a bird can sometimes prove precarious. The best way to prepare your feathered friend is to acclimate your bird to a travel cage a few weeks prior to actually traveling. If you are using a crate, and your bird is calm around it, you can acclimate them to the crate. We recommend a travel cage when traveling by car. It allows your bird to look out and see you at the same time. This will provide comfort to your bird during the stress of travel. Some birds actually end up enjoying traveling - they get to look out the car window and see a whole new collection of sights!
Another thing to remember while traveling with your bird is environmental control. NEVER leave any animal in a car without environment control, regardless of the weather outside.
Unfortunately, when traveling with exotic birds such as parrots, theft is common. Never leave your windows rolled down or your doors unlocked when you have to leave a bird in your car. Get a few duplicate car keys and wear one around your neck while traveling. If you make a pit stop and you have to leave your car out of your sight with your bird inside, lock the doors with the car still running (for environmental control), and use your extra key to open the door when you get back. Only be gone for a minute or two at the most, and always cover your bird when you leave him behind in your car to deter theft.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The sun conure is only about twelve inches long from head to tail. They have a large head and beak with very striking colors. They usually have lots of yellow, orange and green on them. Their beak is black and their feet are gray. This bird originates from the eastern parts of South America, mostly by the Amazon River. It isn't found in as many places as it used to be found because people came and took the birds to sell them. They used to be found in Southeast Venezuela, Northeast Brazil, Northern Amazon, Guyana, Surinam and French Guiana.
One of the best things about this bird besides its beauty is how affectionate it is. They are extremely social and absolutely love to interact with their owners. They will just sit on your shoulder for hours and even like to be held! If you get this bird you will have to spend plenty of time with it. This definitely isn't a shy bird.
Because of how smart this bird is, it is even capable of doing tricks! Some can even be potty trained. They do have the capability to talk but they use a somewhat squeaky voice. The sun conure loves to perform for people and play. They also love to take baths so you should provide a bathing dish. If you don't put a bathing dish in their cage then they will splash around in their water bowl. You can also mist them with a water bottle because they truly enjoy this.
The minimum cage size for this bird is 20 inches long by 20 inches wide by 24 inches tall. You should put several perches in the cage of various sizes. Sun conures also love toys so make sure you get some for their cage. Try to get lots of toys so they will have something to do. They even like to play with things like toilet paper rolls!
You should feed your sun conure a base diet of pellet formula. You can also feed fortified parrot seed. These birds will need to be fed fruits and vegetables in addition to this base diet. You can't just feed them seeds and expect them to be healthy. Also, don't leave any fresh foods in their cage for more than a few hours though. Also make sure they have fresh water at all times. Make sure you never feed your bird avocado, cabbage, parsley and iceberg lettuce.
Sun conures do make really fun, fascinating pets, but you should be aware that they can be very noisy birds. They usually will start to scream in the mornings and evenings. It is an extremely loud scream. You have to be prepared for this. You also have to remember that they require lots of attention. If you take good care of your bird it can live to be about thirty years old.
If you're considering sharing your home with a pet canary, it's probably because you've heard so much about their nearly constant, bubbly singing. Join the club! Since the seventeenth century, pet owners the world over have kept canaries for nothing more than the sheer pleasure of birdsong filling their homes. A canary is not merely a feathered music box, though, and pet canary care is so much more than the gilded cage of old. A canary is a living thing, dependent on you for food, shelter, and love, and canary care, while not rocket science, involves a certain level of avian expertise. Ready to become an expert? Study hard!
Thanks to selective breeding, there's quite possibly a canary out there to suit every personality and desire. Some canaries are bred for their coloration, some are bred for their shape, and some, of course, are bred to produce a very specific song pattern. What kind of canary you purchase will depend on what canary resources are available near you. If you can find a reputable canary breeder, that will be your best option. Many pet stores now, however, commit to purchasing healthy birds only from reputable breeders, but check first to make sure that your canary was not wild caught or raised in less-than-desirable conditions. If the pet store manager can not account for where your potential canary came from, don't buy a canary from that store! Oh, and be sure that the canary you purchase is a male, if it's a strong singer you're after. The females are incapable of producing the characteristic long trills and melodies that made canaries famous.
Canaries can be quite delicate, so a primary part of learning to care for a pet canary is to realize that prevention is key. If there's a number one rule of pet canary care, it's that you absolutely must keep your canary away from drafts at all times. A drafty room can kill a canary without any warning whatsoever, and even a slight draft can prevent your canary from warbling. If a lit candle flickers when held outside your canary's cage, then you've picked a spot that's too drafty for your new feathered friend! As far as cages go, your canary doesn't require anything too spectacular-just enough room to hop about and stretch his wings. Make sure you purchase a cage that is at least two feet wide and three or four feet tall. Get a cage with a tray in the bottom to make for easy cleaning, and make sure that the bars of the cage are not coated with toxic paint or other chemical sealants. You should clean your canary's cage thoroughly at least once a week, washing perches, food and water containers, and toys in a mild bleach solution, and washing down the rest of the cage with dish soap and warm water.
While they can't stand drafts, canaries do love indirect sunlight. A good supply of natural light will keep your canary singing, and will also interest him in breeding should a female be present. If a draft will kill a canary the fastest, a second runner up is dehydration. Because of their speedy metabolisms, canaries require a lot of water and may die if they go as little as a day without it. Change your canary's water daily and never leave for more than a day without asking someone to water your canary for you. As for food, seed is the mainstay of a canary's diet, and there are many good commercially available seed mixes made specifically for canaries. You should supplement your canary's seed with a little fresh fruit and boiled egg every day. An apple slice and a fourth of a hard boiled egg is enough. You should also provide your canary with a cuttlebone, as he will gnaw on this to attain necessary calcium.
With these basic rules and supplies of pet canary care well in hand, you're ready to seek out the perfect canary for you. Will you choose a rosy red colorbred canary, an exotic Persian Singer, or something in between? Whatever your decision, your canary will thank you exuberantly for the next ten to fifteen years the best way he knows how-by singing his heart out.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Though you may move heaven and earth for your pet, you may find that other people don’t feel the same way. There will always be neighbors complaining about your dog’s bark in the middle of the night. If you’re renting an apartment, landlords often have aversions to pets and you may find yourself in a position of having to give up either your flat or your pet. Of course, animal lover that you are, there’s no doubt that you’ll choose the latter. But unless you can find a new home quickly, you and your furry friend may find yourselves out on the streets.
And They Lived Happily Ever After
Consider having a place of your own where you and your pet can have plenty of room to frolic and where no pesky landlord can rain on your parade. Wouldn’t that be nice? With this in mind, it’s time to have a talk with a home loan mortgage lender. Not only can a home loan mortgage lender help you become an owner and not a renter, you can also be sure that you and your furry companion will live a long and happy life together.
Almost The Vet
When you have finally established a relationship with a home loan mortgage lender, it’s time to think of the more meaningful relationship you have with your pet. Consider his or her needs as well as your own. Does your Labrador retriever have a lot of pent up energy just waiting to be released? Choose a house with a lot of space and a backyard where he or she can spend time chasing birds. Is your cat overweight and can’t move around very much? Choose a one-storey bungalow so he or she won’t have to climb up stairs.
Whatever your pet needs, your home loan mortgage lender can provide it. Well, probably not rawhide bones or neutering. That’s a job for the vet, not the home loan mortgage lender.
As Always, There’s Room For More
When you and your furry buddy finally move into your new home, it might be a shame not to share all the space that you now have. It may be time to find a companion for your companion. After all, who’s going to keep him or her company when you’re at work, slaving away to pay off your home loan mortgage lender? As they say, the more, the merrier, and that is indeed true with pets.
There’s nothing like a house filled with happy little puppies or kittens. It will be utter chaos! But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? After all, you can never have too much company.
One of the most important things you can do to make sure your Pug has all the tools he needs to stay safe is to give him obedience training. A dog that is not properly trained will be a nuisance to others, while one that has the appropriate obedience training is a pleasure to be around. Many a dog has been considered a “bad” dog when all he really needed was the owner to take the time out to train him properly.
If you train your dog properly, not only will he have some cool tricks to show off, but it will also add to his safety. If your dog is properly trained, then you will be able to call him back to you should he be heading towards a dangerous situation. A well trained Pug Will be well behaved around strangers and the family – an obedient companion. Plus the training process can help define you as the master and act as a bonding experience for you and your pet.
The Pug is a very sociable dog as well as being extremely smart and quite stubborn. They are sensitive so yelling at him will not help you in training. Since Pugs are very smart they will train easily but can get bored with the same old lessons so you must always be showing them new tricks.
Also important for the health of your Pug is to provide your dog with excellent veterinary care. He should have a checkup every year and please make sure all vaccinations are up to date. Anytime you notice a difference in your Pugs behavior, schedule a vet appointment right away. Even a subtle change could be a sign of trouble and it’s better to be safe than sorry. Have your Pug neutered or spayed - they WILL be much happier.
Providing a safe environment for your Pug especially when he is a puppy, can help eliminate unfortunate accidents. Make sure every room your dog has free access too is “dog proofed” and there are no sharp objects or small pieces laying around that he could step on or eat. When guests come over, or if the kids are running in and out, make sure they know not to leave the door open so the dog can get out. Refrain from feeding your Pug food from the table as some of it can be harmful.
Grooming your Pug can help your pet look and feel his best. Cleaning his ears, brushing his fur, trimming his nails – these all contribute to the overall health and happiness of your pooch. Proper dental care is the most important grooming task you can do for your Pug. Without regular brusing, bacteria can build up in your dogs mouth. This bacteria can break away and cause serious health problems for your dog. Make sure you brush at least a couple of times a week and have a dental check up every year!
Hopefully you’ll never need to act on it, but you should have a plan for the dog in case of emergency. Your dog may be helpless in an emergency such as a fire or gas leak, so you need to plan on someone in the family being the one who is responsible for getting the dog out. Also, it is a good idea to make sure you have a “babysitter” you feel safe leaving your dog with in case an emergency takes you out of town suddenly.
Welcoming a Pug into your home as a pet, you are making a lifetime commitment to provide everything he needs for a healthy and happy life. Some Pugs can live for 15 years with good care – hopefully yours will live at least that long and the rewards you get from the loyal companionship of your pet will far outweigh the commitment you make to his health.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
The precise origin of Siamese cats is unknown. The breed may have descended from sacred temple cats in Siam, now known as Thailand. Siamese cats are distinguished by a creamy coat and unique dark “points” on the ears, face, tail and legs. These marks are not present from birth, because they are the result of an enzyme in the Siamese cats’ fur. The enzyme is not activated at normal body temperature, so the dark points appear on their extremities where temperatures are cooler. The points usually develop by the time the kitten is four weeks old.
For decades, the show standard for Siamese cats allowed only very dark brown, or seal colored, points. However, cross breeding produced cats with many pattern variations, including chocolate, lilac, blue and red points. Today, seal, chocolate, lilac and blue points are permissible for showing in the United States. As the cat ages, its creamy fur may turn to a pale shade of its point color. This is especially true of Siamese cats with seal colored points.
Originally, many Siamese cats had crooked tails and crossed eyes. The crossed eyes were caused by an overproduction of the enzyme that produces color points on the extremities. These traits are considered flaws in the show ring, so breeders work to eliminate them. Siamese cats are also known for their striking, bright blue eyes.
Siamese cats have as much in common with dogs as they do with other cats. They do not have the archetypal feline independent streak and can become extremely attached to their owners. Siamese cats are exceptionally intelligent; this intelligence makes them easy to train. Some even learn typically canine tricks, such as fetching and walking on a leash.
The Siamese cat has short, smooth hair that requires little extra grooming. A good brushing with remove extra hair and reduce shedding, and the cat may enjoy the gentle massage. However, this is not necessary, because they are as meticulous in grooming themselves as most cat breeds.
Neutering will usually prevent a male cat from spraying. This procedure can be done before the male cat is six months old. Those considering adopting a Siamese cat should be advised that females may go into heat as early as five months of age but should not be spayed until they have reached six months.
Siamese cats also have a very distinctive voice, which is often compared to a human baby’s cry. It can reach decibel levels as high as those of emergency sirens.
After my teens and my last pet had died, I wasn't in a position to take on another pet for many years. Then, eleven years ago, a friend of a cousin was looking for a home for their last remaining kitten. And so it was that Kira came into my life. This was a cat with attitude (and still is!) and we bonded pretty much immediately. While she was still a kitten, I'd put her in the kitchen overnight with a little cat bed to sleep in and the litter box close by.
As she grew older, I started letting her sleep in the bedroom. It's surprising how relaxing a cat's purring can be in wee small hours.
A little over a year later, when down with the vet getting some supplies, I heard that there was a kitten that needed a home or it would have to be put to sleep. And so, Fritz came home with me that day.
Unfortuately, Kira was less than impressed with this interloper and I had to keep the two separated for several days before an uneasy truce ensued.
They're an odd pair - Kira has attitude, Fritz is much more companionable; what you'd call a "gentle soul". She's still the Queen around the house and occasionally puts Fritz in his place with a right-hook to the face when she feels the need to assert her authority.
As Fritz matured, he also was allowed into the bedroom. Both he and Kira would sleep there during the day and night, as was their want.
We all know that cats are the greatest creature-comfort-seeking animals on the planet and a comfy place to catnap is one of their major concerns. But the place your cat chooses to snooze may not be your first choice. While I didn't mind the cats sleeping on the bed, I did take exception to Fritz's tendency to charge in from the garden and sleep in a basket of warm, freshly dried laundry straight from the dryer.
The Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine recently conducted a poll of pet-owners on the sleeping habits of their pets and found that 60% of them sleep in bed with one of the family. Where cats are concerned, there are two potential problems here: one is that, somehow, they manage to take up 90% of the bed and the other has to do with allergies.
I found I had a mild cat allergy when I started producing weird wheezing noises any time I was doing something strenuous. Coughing eased it for a few minutes but it would always return. I figured I’d developed a mild form of asthma, probably due to bad air quality and pollution, so I went to the doctor to have it checked out. After listening to my lungs he asked me one question: "Do you have a cat?"
Well, yes, I did. Two in fact.
"You’re allergic to your cats", he intoned.
Then he asked if the cats slept in the bedroom. Of course they did.
"There’s your real problem", he said. "What you’re allergic to is the dander produced by your cats. When a cat sleeps on your bed, the dander ends up in the sheets and the duvet and you breathe it in deeply at night when you’re asleep. Not good. That’s what causes your wheeziness. Stop the cats sleeping in your bedroom for two or three weeks and see if that eases your symptoms. If not, you’ll probably need to use an inhaler for the rest of your life."
Ok, that last sentence kinda hit me between the eyes. Much as I love my two furballs, I didn’t want to suffer a long-lasting health problem that could possibly be avoided.
So why is dander such a problem? It's the layer of dead skin that's rich in animal protein, which is continuously shed by animals. Sebaceous (oil producing) glands in the skin also produce these protein allergens. Male cats have, on average, greater amounts of sebaceous secretions and therefore are more allergenic than female or neutered male cats. This is a result of testosterone hormone effects on sebaceous glands.
So, with that information and the prospect of an enduring health problem, I banned my cats from the bedroom, threw out the duvet (on the advice of the doctor), bought a new one and changed everything on the bed (including getting new pillows). I didn’t get too much sleep the first few nights with the cats meowing and scratching on the door to get in but they got used to the idea, finally. After three weeks in a cat free bedroom, my wheeziness had all but disappeared. The cats haven’t been allowed back in since.
Should you find yourself with a similar cat allergy problem, banning the cat from your bedroom is one possible course of action. Alternatively, you can get your cat his own cat bed and put that somewhere out of harm's way (yours and the cat's).
Since finding out I was mildly allergic to my cats, I've spoken to other cat owners about it and quite a number also suffer some mild form of allergic reaction - sneezing, wheezing, watering eyes, blocked sinuses and so on. Owners appear to become at least somewhat immune to their own cats insofar as the symptoms are not as pronounced as they become when they're around other people's cats.
But, having said that, none of us would ever part with our feline companions and would exhort others to adopt a cat as a pet, as the benefits far outweigh any minor inconveniences.
Animal dander allergy can significantly contribute to respiratory problems involving the sinuses, nasal passages, and eyes, as well as causing upper respiratory tract problems that can result in asthma (as in my case). These problems can significantly diminish your quality of life despite various medical treatments. For some people, it can be even more serious, leading to recurrent acute asthmatic attacks that can be life threatening, requiring emergency room visits and hospitalizations. The good news is that most people who are allergic to their pets can keep their symptoms under control if they know the facts.
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