Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Geriatric Set: Accommodating Elderly Cats

Coming to terms with one’s own mortality is something we all have to face at one time or another during our lives. I’ve had my own share of introspective moments on life, as I have seen the decline of elderly relatives’ health, and experienced the aches and pains associated with getting on in years (and I’m only 36-years-old). The aging process forces us to make adjustments to cater to surfacing limitations, whether we like to embrace them or not.

Our pets zip through their lifecycles much faster than we do, and that point when we need to start making special concessions for them can sneak up without warning. I am currently the proud owner of three fuzzy felines, two of which are in the midst of their twilight years. Göst (15-years-old) and Betty (10-years-old) may revisit moments of their youth by the hyperactiveness that is Otis (8-months-old), but I can see the aging effects when compared to the young spitfire. About a year ago, I started doing things a bit differently to make life easier for them, but it has since spiraled into me spoiling them to the point that they have got to think they hit the kitty lottery by having me for a father.

The first step to easing them into the geriatric state was a food adjustment. I started giving them soft food twice a day, mainly for two reasons: it’s easier on the brittle teeth, and the love it, which means that it will be eaten and they will maintain their weight. Of course, none of this really applies to Otis at this point, so he gets to enjoy the benefit of having older siblings.

Lately, Göst has been getting thinner despite the fact that he is eating regularly and still has a hearty appetite (he’s the first one to come begging for the afternoon snack). Having seen the decline of a skinny cat last year, I’m not pulling any punches and giving him just about anything he wants in order to keep his weight up. This means lots of extra kitty treats and saucers of cream when the other two are not looking. He has already surpassed the 12-year life expectancy for his breed (Scottish Fold), and I’d like to keep him around a bit longer, no matter what it takes.

Betty seems to be going through some type of kitty menopause, as she has got a new fire in her belly and an attitude that rivals the most ornery teenager. She will hiss at the other two if they even look at her funny, let alone dare to walk up next to her. I know this has a lot to do with the kitten, but her hissing is getting a bit out of control. She seems to have rubbed her throat raw and tends to go into hairball-like coughing fits at least once a week. I coddle her to no end, letting her know that she is very loved, despite the fact that she thinks I brought in Otis to torture her. We have our special alone time when I watch television in my recliner chair, which I believe she looks forward to every day.

I’ve also noticed that Göst has been derelict in his self-cleaning duties. As an all-white cat, he has always been very pristine and anal about looking his best, but lately he has been a little nappy-looking. It appears that he spends more time bathing the kitten than himself (and the kitten is not so great at reciprocating the favor). I brush him regularly, and that does a good job of picking up the loose hair, but I needed a little something extra. In comes the ionizing brush my mother sent me! I won’t pretend to fully understand the mechanics (or is it physics?) of ions, but it does seem to be working well. Göst and Betty have silkier coats and totally enjoy the feeling of being groomed (Otis has not gotten to experience the new brush just yet, as he wants to chew on it any time it gets close to him).

To further cater to the needs of my kitties, I purchased a mini staircase to facilitate the processes of getting on to my bed (their favorite napping destination). I figured this was a necessity, as they were have more difficulty with the jump. A couple of years ago I got a new bed, which included a pillow-top mattress. This mattress is about an inch taller than my old one, so that presented another hurdle (no pun intended) for the elderly twosome. Throw in the bulkiness of a down comforter, and it became quite the daunting task, but they managed.

Over the past couple of months I noticed that something needed to be done to help them out. Betty would make it about three-quarters up, and then claw her way to the top as if she were scrambling for safety at the edge of a cliff – kind of funny to watch, but not fun for her to go through (nor is it good for the condition of my mattress and bedding). Göst would sit on the floor and try to gauge the trajectory and angle of the jump, contemplating whether or not he could actually get up there. It’s a pretty pathetic thing to witness, as I can see the frustration in his eyes when he thinks he cannot make it. Sometimes he makes the effort, while other times he simply walks away feeling dejected rather than repositioning himself for an attempt. They took to the stairs almost immediately, and have since grown quite accustomed to it… even Otis finds pleasure in it, though he mostly uses it as a jungle gym or a launching pad for attack.

If I had to choose one special thing I do for the cats that might be deemed to be excessive, I would probably have to say it’s that I build fires for them in the winter. When they hear me rattling around the fireplace, they come running knowing that an intense heat-absorbing nap is in store. Of course, I get the benefit of a warm apartment when I have a fire, but I mostly do it because I know the kitties love it, and it’s so damn cute to see them sprawled out in front of it, oblivious to the world around them.

Cats in the Garden

Cats and our gardens are generally a bad combination. Whether it’s our own beloved feline crushing our prized perennials or a neighbour’s cat improvising a litter box on our lawn, cats and gardens are a bad mix. However don’t lose hope, cats are intelligent and can easily be conditioned to respect our gardens. This can be applied to whether we want to create a “cat zone” in our garden for our own feline, or if we want to keep the marauding mass of neighbourhood cats away.

Of course the best and most effective solution would be to keep our cats indoors and only allow them outdoor on a leash. The primary cause of early cat mortality and development of infectious disease is from their unsupervised outdoor wanderings. While we can insure that our own cats become “leash lovers”, we cannot control the actions of others, thus we need to be aware of the variety of ways to keep cats from claiming our gardens.

While some prefer to “acquaint” unwelcome cats with a quick and unexpected squirt from their garden hose, this method can traumatize the poor animal and only works if you guard your property militantly for weeks until they have associated your property with “water attacks”. A more subtle, yet effective method would be to plant Rue throughout your garden wherever your “guests” frequent. Cats find the strong odour of Rue to be extremely offensive. Other “odourifous” methods include: Scattering cayenne pepper after every rainfall in your garden, spreading crushed hot peppers, and pouring a mixture of grapefruit and lemon rind throughout the garden.

Another possible solution is to spray your property with predatory urine. Cats mark their personal territories through the process of spraying their “turf”. Individuals can purchase “urine” sprays for their garden that in effect “mark” their lawn, signifying a dominant cat has already claimed the garden. You can even go so far as to order Coyote urine to mark your property (just don’t tell the neighbours what you are spraying or they will think you are insane). Another possibility is the “Get off my Garden” crystals from Australia. These clear crystals ward off neighbouring cats through an intense odour (unnoticeable to humans). They actually become more effective after each rainfall. Finally, there are the American electronic-fright devices such as Scat Cat and Scarecrow. Both apply the same method of unexpected movement, flashing lights and surprise.

On the other hand, creating a “Cat Garden” within your existing garden can be both enjoyable for yourself and your beloved pet. By creating a “room of their own” in the garden, you not only increase their stimulation, but also deter them from approaching or damaging other areas of your garden.

Of course the plant to begin with is Nepeta Cataria, otherwise known as Catnip. This lush, beautiful plant with its scattering of pale blossoms will not only amuse your cat, it will be a beautiful addition to your garden. Just remember to put it into the mid or back section of your “Cat garden”, as it will take a fair amount of abuse from your feline. Other plants to include in your cat’s garden are: Catmint (Nepeta mussinii), an elegant hardy plant with attractive silver leaves that your cat will enjoy rolling in. Cat thyme (Teucrium marum) a member of the mint family, will provide hours of enjoyment with its subtle and intoxicating aroma. Silver Vine (Actinidia plygama), Valerian (Valeriana officianalis) and Cat grass, will all create a sense of ecstatic frenzy in your cat. Their intoxicating aromas and enjoyable texture will amuse your cat for hours. In addition, all of these plants are visually stunning and will help you to create a beautiful and dramatic design.

To truly create a Garden of Eden for your cat you will also need to have a secluded (hidden) area of litter for your cat, just remember to use the non-clumping formula.

Through a mixture of these methods our furry felines and we can live not only in harmony, but appreciate the wonders of nature together.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Cats Won't Work for Nazis

Dogs Will Work for Nazis

During the night, I often wake just enough to feel the gentle pressure of Little Neal, one of my cats, snuggling his back against my calves, my thighs, or my butt.

It’s an extremely comforting feeling.

It tells me that everything in my house is as it should be, peaceful and calm. Were there a door ajar, a strange cat prowling, or an intruder, every cat in the house would be investigating. They would all be sniffing, peering and craning to see what was going on. But, if my little grey Burmese is snuggling against me, everything is fine.

The subtle pressure of his body is a great compliment. This extraordinary, still wild creature has chosen me to lay down with. A cat will not lay down with just anybody. A cat’s love and trust is earned and earned again every day. A cat will not easily allow himself to be taken for granted.

"But, a cat won’t shake hands, or sit up." Remarked my doctor the other day during a telephone conversation.

"Well of course not." I thought, but didn’t bother saying.

I didn’t bother saying it because it was preposterous on its face, the idea of a cat performing cheap tricks for a morsel of food.

No, you’ll never see a self respecting cat wearing a jester’s collar, performing for the entertainment of inferior beings who for some reason are amused by such foolishness. But, then again, you will never see a cat on a leash, snapping at the heels of wretched Jews in box cars.

Dogs will work for Nazi’s. Cats will not.

Cats have never been the pet of choice for people who find themselves drawn to subservience and obedience. Cats have a kind of stiff-necked pride that I think appeals more to women than to men. Men are, as a general rule, team players, ruled by the dominance hierarchy. Women are far more subversive, as Western civilization has recognized for eons. Women are very much like cats. They will, in the end, generally follow their own internal dictates and would rather starve themselves than compromise their ideals.

Women, like cats, are survivors. Smaller and lighter than their competitors, they have learned to run and fight only when cornered. Once cornered, however, they come out with teeth and nails flashing in a rush of fury that can scare the be-Jesus out of the bravest man.

Needless to say, as a woman, I live my life surrounded by cats and with a man who admires them almost as much as I do. I find this an admirable quality. My husband was, in fact, accepted into the family by one of my cats who climbed up on his chest before I had even decided to admit him into the fold. But, I get ahead of myself. That is a story for later.

Cats Are Very Lovable Creatures

“Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o' fur?”- An Irish saying about cats, perhaps best describes what pleasure-giving creatures cats can be.

Jean Burden, beautifully defines the feline beauty. “A dog, I have always said, is prose; a cat is a poem.” Cats for many people, are really very lovable - remember ‘Snowbell’ - the cat of “Stuart Little”.

Cats are rather delicate creatures and they are subject to many ailments. Cat grooming is a very important part of keeping a cat as a healthy pet. Cat supplies can be defined as important things that can be purchased for cat grooming, and maintaining general good cat health.

Cat supplies is a general term that covers a variety of important cat care products. These topics could be used when undertaking an online Internet search for good value cat supply products for your pets - cat-grooming supplies, cat pet supplies, cat training supplies and discount cat supplies.

Cat Grooming:

Cat grooming is in fact a long program of cat health care that covers the entire life span a cat. It includes feline care, feline health care, feline diabetes care etc. It also includes practices like kitten care, giving a hygiene bath, general cleaning, combing, brushing, checking ears, paws, teeth and underside, nail trimming, removing cat fleas and insects and fixing regular meetings with a professional veterinary. Cat owners should follow a regular schedule of grooming sessions.

Like children, infant cats, known as kittens, require some extra special attention. A kitten is delicate and should be handled with care. It also needs to be groomed properly, fed carefully, and bedded properly.

Cat Grooming Supplies:

Cat grooming supplies play a key role in the process of maintaining a happy and healthy cat. Supplies for your pet may include a special cat home or house, cat doors, cat furniture, cat carrier, cat beds, heated cat beds, cat toys, cat collars, designer cat collars, jeweled or jingling cat collars, cat odor removers, cat clothes, special cat jewelry, cat food, cat tonics & supplements and cat medication.

Cat Beds:

A cat bed is a bed specially designed for the sleeping comfort of a cat. It should be the most pleasurable place for a cat where it retires to take sweet dreams. Good cat beds are actually quite important for maintaining good cat health. An improper sleep may very much affect the general health of your cat - thus the masters of cats should be very careful when buying cat beds. A cat bed and cat bedding should include a cat bed mattress, cat bed sheet, cat pillows, cat throw pillows, cat blankets and cat quilt or duvets.

Cat beds are available in numerous styles and include designer cat beds, heated cat beds, luxury cat beds, wicker cat beds, leather cat beds, etc.

There are number of designer cat pet beds available on the market for purchase, both in physical pet stores, and also online. Many pet bed manufacturers now sell their cat beds online, through their official company websites.

The Temperament Of Cats

First of all, a domestic cat is a highly intelligent and fiercely independent creature. It can never be placed on a leash the way dogs are. Cats do things they want to do and when they want to do it. They will demand the things they want, such as food and play. And they will also make it clear when they want to be left alone. Thus, the owner of a cat cannot expect his pet to do “work” for him.

Different breeds of cats have different personalities. Some cats are quiet while others like to meow all the time. Can you tolerate a cat who meows almost every hour? Some cats are fussy and choosy about the food you give them while others will eat just about anything. Can you afford the kind of food that your cat prefers? Some cats don’t mind being surrounded and petted by strange people while others will wield their claws if they face a person they haven’t met before. Does your house accept many strangers or are you alone most of the time? And some cats love to climb and curl on the lap of their masters. But others prefer to be left alone, watching the TV or listening to the radio. Are you a cat owner who likes to cuddle all the time?

You will know when your cat is trying to get your attention. It will endlessly meow at you or it will follow you around or it will rub its body against your leg. You will also know if your cat is comfortable or scared by lifting up your cat. If the body is loose, then your cat is relaxed. If the body is tight, then something is scaring the daylights out of it.

Cats like to sleep. And the specific personality and breed of the cat will determine where the cat chooses to sleep. Some like to be in secluded places where no one can disturb them. They like to lie in high cupboards and similar places. Other breeds of cats like to sleep in places where everyone is converging. These cats like to be noticed. So they sleep at the center of the foyer, in the middle of the stairs and even on the couch, especially when there are guests.

Cats like to sharpen their claws. It is their nature, similar to wild cats such as lions, tigers, panthers, and cheetahs. This may irritate the owner, especially if the cat chooses to sharpen its claws on the couch. The owner may consider giving the cat a scratching post. The cat can be taught to scratch its claws on this post.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

All Cats are Not Human

As most of you know my son is a veterinarian. Therefore he has a lot of critters roaming around his house (thirteen of which are kids). That includes about a dozen cats, some plain, and some exotic. My grandkids can be seen cuddling the critters as can my daughter-in-law. I never cuddle cats because I’m allergic to most of them. I give them a little tickle on the nose except for the one man-eater whose name may be “Tabby” they have over there.

The most feared cat is the man-eating tiger. That’s in India and there about. Fishermen in India wear masks on the back of their heads so that tigers won’t attack them from behind.

That trick worked for a day or two according to those who know such things.

Then the tigers got wise to the ploy and again invited the fisherman “over for dinner.”

I learned all of this by carefully studying television.

In Arizona it’s the bobcat that is feared, especially the one with rabies. My friend there had one attack him on his front porch. He shot it after missing the first six times.

It had rabies.

My Arizona friend shot at rattlesnakes too whenever they scared him as much as that bobcat did.

One of these days he’s going to shoot off his foot.

That will be okay though. He is a podiatrist and I watched him treat a man one time that had shot his foot on purpose. For what reason, I know not.

In my outfit in Korea, a G.I. shot himself in the foot one morning with an M-1 rifle. That made the Baker Company Commander as angry as a badger.

The reason given by the injured man was that he wanted to go home.

I could have spit on him.

I’d rather face a hundred charging Chinese teenagers than shoot myself in the foot for any reason whatsoever.

Korea is too much of a diversion for this article but I want to keep it in. Therefore I will tell you again that one night a Siberian Tiger, the most beautiful animal in the world in my opinion, ventured up in front of one of our thirty caliber machineguns. He was probably looking or a couple of dead Chinese teenagers he could chew on.

When the great beast rattled the bobbed wire, the crew cut loose with machinegun fire.

The poor tiger didn’t have a chance to jump and scoot out of there.

Of course our crew didn’t know it was a tiger until the next morning.

This story is true of course and there are other stories about tigers approaching the line in Korea. War is hell on flora and fauna including tigers.

Back to Bobcats

I saw only two bobcats the six years I lived in Arizona. They were a very dark-complexioned pair, one as large as a cougar.

In the early days of Arizona, bobcats use to come into the tents of travelers at night which scared the lovatat out of the ladies. Lovatat is a new word I invented for this article. Make it sound more like “loaf” than “love.” Tat rhymes with cat. Loaf-a-tat. Got it?

In Payson, Arizona where I lived, in the early days the town blacksmith was having a brew in the local bar. A bobcat jumped through the window and landed on the back of the blacksmith who quickly grabbed the bobcat by the neck and through him right out the same window.

I guess the bobcat was too young to drink or forgot his I.D.

Incidentally, the tree under which the blacksmith use to work is still there. They use to chain jailbirds to that tree, having no jail.

There is a nice photo of a bobcat at They don’t look all that ornery.

In Africa, it’s the man-eating lion that folks fear. That is all but the Masai who love to hunt lions with their spears.

Personally I would choose a high-powered rifle with a scope if I were so inclined.

There is a great pic of lions that you can use as a screensaver at

The African lions do not like bridge builders. Therefore don’t try to build a bridge in Africa. The lions will eat you up. I learned that too on television.

The Masai are known as pastoral warriors. If you go to Kenya where they live you should study the Masai language. To get you started it is “classified in the Eastern Sudanic subfamily of the Chari-Nile family of the Nilo-Saharan language stock.”

That should get you started. You should find it in there somewhere.

Learn all about the Masai at

In Colorado what is feared is the mountain lion, puma, cougar or whatever you want to call it in Colorado. It picks on children.

You must look “big” to a mountain lion to make it go away.

This also fails to work on bears.

I suggest pepper spray, the larger size that you strap the canister on your back. Keep the hose under your arm with your hand on the spray release nozzle at all times.

You must not let your kids go wondering around in the Mountain West by them selves. This also applies to the city of Vancouver and there about where mountain lions roam over large territories day and night.

If you see a lion in Vancouver dial LION on our cell phone. If anyone answers tell them to come and gather the critter up in one of their cages and haul him off to the Northwest Territory. (Actually, I made this up. Maybe dialing LION won't work.)

If a mountain lion comes close to you, I suggest that you say in a loud voice, “BOOO” or “BEWWW.” It should sound like “brew.”

Back away.

Don’t run.

Look for a big stick.

Diabetes in Cats

Its scary when you first know your cat has diabetis but once you start understanding the disease and get more used to the monitoring it becomes easier for you and your kitty.

Informing yourself of the disease is crucial, its not the same as human diabetis and its a complex disease that you need to inform yourself about.Don't feel overwhelemed by the amount of information. Get all the info printed and make it a point to read them every night until you basically have learned the info by heart.

First of all, Feline diabetes is extremely difficult to regulate. Feline metabolism is simply not designed to be diabetes friendly. By "regulate," we mean finding the correct insulin dosage for steady, healthy blood sugar levels.Feline metabolism is built specifically for short, fast bursts of power and speed, not long chases, unlike dogs. It can take a very long time to find the right dose of insulin, and the "right" dose can change on you with little or no notice. Stress, even things that don't appear to us to be stressful, can set off sugar spikes in cats.

Thus, you MUST monitor your cat at all times. At any sign of trouble,at least call your vet. You'll get better over time at recognizing what needs immediate attention.

Signs of trouble (over-insulin) include:

Balance loss, unsteady walking (they'll act drunk ...)

Head shaking

Sudden craziness - this is different from the regular feline nightly run around and be active craziness. Sometimes, the cat might let out a horrible witchy yowl at top voice, spin madly around chasing its own tail 4-5 times, jump in the air, fall on the sides, pant and ultimately even lose consciousness.

So, in such instances have a light corn syrup handy. If you over-insulin (which is all too easily done) you will need to get come easy sugar into your cat FAST.

The insulin is given subcutaneaously, that is, directly under the top layer of skin, and NOT into the blood. What you'll do is lift your cat's skin somewhere around the scruff or near that area, just as you would do to check hydration (something you'll want to do daily, by the way ...) You'll then have a little tent of skin lifted off from the body. You'll insert the the needle along the long line of the tent (think of a long pole supporting the tent like a roof line) rather than from side to side of the tent. Inject and you're done. You'll get to where you can do it easily.

Never give another shot if you think you missed the shot (sometimes you can make a mistake and give the shot to the fur.. which isn't helpful at all!) but its always best for your kitty to skip a dose than have a double shot.

Eating is crucial - and it is equally crucial that your cat eats something immediately before or after the insulin shot (just like human diabetics). This can be difficult, as cats often don't eat when they don't feel well, so start finding all the creative treats you can find that will entice your cat.You can probably try home-made (no salt or spices) chicken broth, which gels when cold; baby food (all meat, NO spices, particularly onion powder, which is poisonous to cats); wet food (from the vet, particularly made for kidney problems); TUNA (the special favorite.) Experiment, but don't go overboard, and remember that however 'underboard' is more dangerous.

As the diabetes progresses, be on the watch for other complications; Joint problems , need for heat, blindness. You'll need to make environmental changes to accommodate such things as they develop. Some cats can come down with renal failure as a secondary condition to the diabetes. These are all treatable, but it will add to the adjustments you and your cat will need to make.

Find out where your nearest emergency animal hospital/clinic is NOW before you need that information. Because you will need it.Unless you are extremely blessed, there will be at least once or twice that you will need to rush your cat for immediate care, because he goes into diabetic coma (the warnings I mentioned above.) Keep the number someplace where you can find it at a moment's notice.

Towels are your friend. They can be used to wrap a cat who struggles when given shots; they can be used to put under a cat who is retching to catch the vomit (towels, unlike rugs and floors, are easily thrown into a washing machine!);they can make emergency beds as the cat's ability to navigate the environment changes. They can be used with plastic to catch extraneous urine around the litterbox (again - washable!).

Periodically ,talk to your vet about cat's diet. He may already be on lower-protein food. If not, it may be time to introduce it. Kidney problems necessitate lower protein foods than normal

This can be a harsh statement, but to be realistic, Diabetes in cats is fatal -- you may have weeks or years, depending on how well your cat's blood levels regulate. Now is the time for the two of you to come to an agreement about what constitutes a quality-of-life threshold. Only you and your cat can decide when that is for the two of you. But it is a conversation you should start, now,while you can still enjoy yourselves together as you have it.

Do Cats Bond With Humans?

There are expert opinions that state that cats are entirely independent animals that have chosen to associate themselves with man strictly as a "survival strategy". There is probably some truth to this opinion (it's held particularly by people who don't like cats).

But any veteran cat owner will tell you that cats *do* "bond" with humans, but only particular humans, and will actually "choose" a person in the household to bond with. For example, the kitty you picked out for yourself might bond with your roommate instead of you. You'll find this out when you are sitting in the room and want your cat to jump up on your lap and instead discover that your kitty has snuggled up to your roommate instead.

There's no real explanation for why a cat chooses a particular person to bond to ... sometimes it's their voice, their mannerisms ... or perhaps it's just the way they "handle" the cat. It could be that the person is more gentle, or maybe a little more forceful (sometimes older male cats will "take" to men and not women, and vice versa for females).

Then there's the interesting notion that cats are psychic ... that they bond to a particular individual because the person gives off a psychic "aura" that is compatible with the cat. And, vice versa, the cat will avoid a person who gives off "bad vibes".

There are many people who have owned cats that will attest to this.

Whatever the theory, there's no real data to prove that cats attach themselves to humans for reasons beyond physical survival, but cat owners know...cats do form affection for individual humans, and sometimes for reasons that just aren't explainable in human terms.

For the novice cat owner, a knowledge of your cat's motivations and psychology is of enormous help in introducing your new cat to your home environment. I've tried to help with my new book "Your New Cat's First 24 Hours."

My name is John Young and I've been a cat owner for around 55 years. In that time I've had the opportunity to introduce a wide variety of cats to my home environment, and I thought I'd put together my experiences in a new ebook "Your New Cat's First 24 Hours". I hope it will help other people avoid some of the mistakes I've made. In addition, I've given some cat care tips you'll need to keep your new kitty safe and happy after she's made the transition.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Tips on Taking Care of Cats

Cats can be extremely good companions. They are sensitive, private creatures, and they do not need constant attention from their owners in order to be happy. Cats do not require much supervised exercise and, consequently, they are excellent pets for the elderly and for people with busy lives.

Although cats are friendly and emotional by nature, they are noted for being unfaithful. Many cats have two or more homes and may develop a routine where they spend part of each day with different people. It is common for a cat to breakfast at one houses, lunch at a second and dine at a third; this can lead to obesity on what appears to be a normal diet.

Taking care of your cat means providing it with the lifestyle that suits its needs. Ideally, cats should be allowed to roam freely outdoors. This enables they get adequate exercise, and can satisfy their natural curiosity and develop their hunting instincts all at the same time. In urban areas, if you live in an apartment, it may be safer to house your cat indoors permanently. In this case, you will need to provide plenty of opportunity for play. Cats become bored easily, and a lack of stimulation may encourage the onset of listlessness and ill health.

In the household the cat will need a place of its own to rest and sleep,its own food and water, and a litter tray for hygiene purposes. If you want the cat to be house-trained, you will also need to make sure it can get in and out of the building easily. This may mean installing a cat flap.

While the financial outlay for cat equipment is low, the cost of the cat itself can vary from "free to a good home" to a substantial amount for a pedigree animal.Ongoing costs include feeding and vets' fees. You may decide to put your cat in a cattery when you go on holiday, which will add to the cost of the trip.

The Cats Who Saw Mary

Bella-Quisha showed up on our doorstep one day, and our family immediately fell in love with her. She was a beautifully marked Tabby with the distinguishing markings that race of cats always have: stripes from head to tail.

Everybody had a different name for her. My wife called her “Bella”, which means “beautiful” in Spanish (though my wife is not Spanish), and my daughter called her “Quisha”, which as far as I know, has no meaning at all. Nobody could agree on what her name should be, so we just gave her both names, hyphenated.

Her “meows” had a plaintive quality to them, so I named her “Poor Baby”. Every time she cried I automatically said the words “poor baby”, and I think she eventually came to the conclusion that “poor baby” was indeed her name.

Now, I’ve had at least one cat with me since I was four years old – around 57 years ago. In short, I have had a lot of cats, and I’ve become accustomed to the “personality” of cat, which varies from cat to cat but not as much as does the personality of dogs.

There was something, however, that was very different about Bella – some quality that one could only be defined as “wisdom”. Bella seemed to have some sort of basic understanding or “insight”. When you looked into her eyes, you could see that unlike most cats, she was looking back.

She seemed to know, and understand, who you were and what you were about.

I took her to our family veterinarian for her shots and made a comment on this unusual quality I perceived in her

“Of course she’s different,” Dr. Martin said. “Look at her forehead.”

What’s the point in that? I thought. I’d been looking at her forehead for quite some time and had seen nothing particularly unusual. But I went ahead and took another look.

“What do you see?” Dr. Martin said.

“Stripes. She’s got a lot of striped markings across her forehead, like all Tabbies.” I still couldn’t see anything unusual about her.

“Look again. The stripes are in the shape of an ‘M’.”

I took a closer look, and suddenly it jumped out at me. The pattern on her forehead was indeed in the shape of an ‘M’!

“She is a descendant of the cats who were in the stable the night the Christ Child was born. They were witnesses to that event, and for that reason they were given greater enlightenment that other cats. They bear the mark of His Mother. She put it on their foreheads, and they’ve born it ever since.

“They are the cats who saw Mary.”

An ‘M’, I thought. It was displayed very clearly. An ‘M’ for Mary.

I took Bella home, thinking that that was one of the strangest experiences I’d ever had. I’m not a Catholic, and I’d always had a basic instinctual aversion for such things. But I couldn’t help but think there was definitely something to what the doctor had said.

The cat was different; there was no question about it. And, she had a very clearly defined mark.

I lost my job. In the days and weeks that followed the stress of being out of work and my wife’s grieving over our “empty nest” wasn’t easy to cope with. Through all this trouble, however, Bella comforted us in some basic way. Bella seemed to know our grief, and she was there for both of us – with a definite, though indefinable, comfort.

After awhile, though, I noticed that she seemed to be gaining too much weight. She was crying more than usual, especially when I picked her up, and I quit responding to her cries with the words, “Poor baby” because they came so frequently.

She seemed to be in some sort of pain.

Finally I took her to the vet for her booster shots, and while waiting for my appointment, bragged to a lady on the other side of the waiting room about Bella, telling her how smart she was and what insight she seemed to have.

Then I was called into the examination room.

“Oh, you have a dead cat here,” Dr. Martin said.

“What do you mean?”

“She has a tumor; it won’t be long before it takes her.”

I was shocked beyond words. My pride and elation suddenly vanished, and I felt as if I’d been dropped into a pit.

“Isn’t there… Isn’t there something you can do?” I stammered.

“No, it’s too advanced. I can’t operate without killing her. She is in a lot of pain, and to be kind you should put her out of her misery.”

I was forced to leave her there to be euthanized. There was nothing else I could do. I gave the lady in the waiting room a miserable look as I left empty handed, my wonderful kitty suddenly gone. When I told my wife, her legs went out from under her and she sank to the floor, her eyes closed.

We had lost our comfort. Anger flooded me, but when I finally got over it, I asked the question, “Why did she have to die? She was such a comfort to us, and we loved her!”

And I did get an answer, “Because Mary wanted her.”

It took awhile, but I finally came to an agreement with that. God had given Bella to us, and if Mary wanted her back, she was in good hands.

Interesting Facts About Cats

Cats are kept as domestic pets and the species has been living with us for thousands of years. There are many breeds of cat, including ones without hair and tails. They are capable of hunting many different types of species and are highly intelligent. Because they are so intelligent, it is possible to train them to do the most unlikely of tasks, such as opening doors (although obviously not with a key of course).

How Do Cats Communicate?

They purr, miaow and hiss. They also use body language and use a combination of these things when communicating with 'fellow felines'. They are still capable of living in the wild.

Defining Terms

A male cat is known as a tom. A female, believe it or not, is called a queen. The cute young variety are known as kittens. If the cat in question has registered ancestry, then it is referred to as a pedigree cat. Purebred cats constitute only one tenth of the total cat population.

How Long Do They Live?

If kept at home as domesticated pets, cats live a very long time. The average is fourteen to twenty years. The oldest cat in recorded history lived to the grand age of thirty six. Generally speaking, cats that don't venture outside tend to live longer because they don't get into fights or risk injury from accidents.

How Much Sleep Do They Need?

Cats sleep… a lot ! The older they get, the more sleep they need, but the average is between thirteen and fourteen hours a day. Some cats though, will sleep the majority of the day ( upto twenty hours ). If only the average working person could enjoy such sleeping luxury.

Reading A Cats Body Language

If a cat is angry it will twitch the end of its tail. A tail held high in the air means your cat is happy, whereas a tail pointing down will usually indicate it is not happy. If you encounter a surprised cat, or one that is in fear, the hair on its back may become raised, along with its tail.

When a cat is being friendly with another, it will tend to touch the others nose. If a cat is happy and sitting on your lap, it may paw you. They will often use this in combination with purring as a display of affection towards their owner.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Siamese Cats

So you are thinking of adding a cat to your family? Have you thought about which breed of cat is right for you? Each breed of cat is different. In this article I will be telling you about the Siamese Cat, the most popular cat in the world.

The Siamese Cat is a mysterious looking breed that originated in Siam, hence the name, Siamese Cat. Siam, which is now Thailand calls them Wichian Maat. There are many breeds of cat that are offshoots of the Siamese Cat. The Burmese, Balinese, Colorpoint Shorthair, Ocicat, Tonkinese, Himalayan, Javanese, and the Oriental Sorthair and Loanghair are all derived from the Siamese Cat.

For cat shows there are certain standards for Siamese Cats. Balance is the first thing to look for in a Siamese Cat you intend to show. Long, slender, and tall are features that every Siamese Cat that you wish to show must have.

The head of your Siamese Cat should be long and balanced. The points at the ears down to the muzzle should be aligned symmetrically. The muzzle should be straight. They should not have an uneven bite and a strong chin is a plus.

Their expression should be alert and their eyes should be a piercing blue color. The eyes of your Siamese Cat should be oriental in shape but there should be space between them and the nose. Deepset eyes are not a sign of a good show cat for the Siamese breed. The haw should not cover more than just the corner of the eye. Their ears should be large and wedge shaped. (Large at the base tapering up to the tip).

The hind legs of your Siamese Cat should be slightly longer or higher than the front legs. The feet should be oval shaped and not too large. The overall length and shape of your Siamese Cat should be well-balanced. A long tapering tail is also desired. Any kinks in the tail will likely mean your Siamese Cat should not participate in shows or at least you should not expect to win.

The mask should be complete unless you are showing Siamese Kittens. All points should be clearly defined, a clear contrast between the points and the color of the body. All points should be the same basic color as well.

Your Siamese Cat’s coat should be short, have a fine texture and should be glossy. Proper care and feeding of your Siamese Cat will help you achieve this.

Even if you are not planning to participate in cat shows, a Siamese Cat is a wonderful pet and the guidelines above will help you determine the value of the cat you choose to adopt.

One thing you should know about owning a Siamese Cat is that they can be as loud as a siren with a voice that sounds like a crying baby. They demand your attention and will do whatever it takes to get it. They are playful, fun-loving pets that you will come to love. Their dependence on you for attention is a sign of love you will be more than happy to return.

Maine Coon Cats

We love our pets don’t we? Choosing the right family pet is a serious project. The pet you choose will be part of the family for years to come and will likely always be remembered. For children, a pet is an important part of their life. They learn a lot from pet ownership, including responsibility, caring for others, relationship skills, and more.

Whatever pet you choose, keep in mind the impact a pet has on every member of your family. If you are planning to add a cat to your family, you should consider a Maine Coon Cat (often incorrectly spelt Mancoon cat). They are one of the oldest breeds of cats in the United States and make a great addition to any family.

Next to the Siamese cat, the Maine Coon Cat is the most popular breed of cat there is. These cats were the only cat breed native to the United States, but now there are Maine Coon Cat in every corner of the world. Harsh winters in the Northeastern part of the US caused this cat to evolve as a breed that can withstand the cold.

There is a myth about the origins of the Maine Coon Cat. It’s bushy tail has led people to believe that it was originally the result of a cat mated with a raccoon. The Maine Coon Cat’s coloring also adds to the myth. That’s how it got the name Maine Coon first, then Maine Coon Cat afterwards.

Amateur historians have their own myth about the Maine Coon Cat. They say the cat originated from pets that Marie Antoinette sent to the US. That story says a Captain Clough rescued her long-haired cats and was preparing to rescue her from the guillotine as well, but was only able to save the cats.

Real historians have their own theory. They say Maine Coon Cats are likely a cross breed between short-haired cats here and long-haired cats from overseas that were brought here by the Vikings or New England seamen.

Whatever the origin of the Maine Coon Cat, it is one of the most loved breeds in the US and beyond. Why else would there be so many legends behind this breed? People love their Maine Coon Cats and help add to their mystique through speculating on their origins.

The breed almost disappeared in the early 1900’s after being very popular in the 1800’s. In the first part of the 20th century Persian, Angora, and Siamese Cats, along with other exotic imported cats became all the rage and the Maine Coon Cat was only popular among a few breeders.

You will recognize a Maine Coon Cat when you see one, but especially if you get the chance to pet one. Their coat of hair is water-resistant and thick and has a feel like no other cat’s coat. The Maine Coon Cat is built for survival in harsh climates. It’s hair is longer on the undersides while shorter on the top of the neck and back to keep them from getting tangled in bushes.

Maine Coon Cats tend to be long, broad and muscular with larger bones than other cats. Their large round paws enable them to walk on snow similar to a human with snowshoes. The Maine Coon Cat’s tail is as long as his or her body and bushy. To keep warm they wrap their tail completely around themselves like a fur coat.

These huge cats are very loyal to the family that adopts them and they have a personality that belies their great size. They are good-natured and fun-loving pets that are good around children. The voice of the Maine Coon Cat is something you will have to get used to. It’s a high-pitched squeak that doesn’t seem to fit such a large cat.

I hope this article has helped you to learn more about Maine Coon Cats and that it will encourage you to adopt one as part of your family.

Avian Flu Can Spread Among Cats

‘In February a 2-year old male cat was having lunch. It was an unusual treat of a pigeon that had died. Five days later the cat began to show a discharge from his nose, run a temperature, panting, and appeared to be depressed. This quickly worsened to convulsions and ataxia and died two days after the initial symptoms appeared.’ This article appeared in the Sep 3, 2004 CIDRAP [Center for Infectious Disease Research].

This story is not meant to scare you, it is meant to INFORM you. Based on the recent news release I don’t believe any cases of this magnitude have shown up in the United States. But just because it isn’t here ... yet, doesn’t mean that we should ignore the possibility. When the above case was reported the World Health Organization said “cats had not previously been considered naturally susceptible to flu viruses”. This is the first study to report entire H5N1 genome sequences in a naturally infected domestic cat. Cats are companion animals and may live in very close contact with humans. Although no direct transmission of H5N1 from cats to humans has been reported, it is possible.

‘At the end of February, 2006 a variation of the H5N1 virus was detected in a domestic cat found dead on the northern island of Ruegen, Germany. Serological studies in several Asian countries suggest that dogs may also contract the H5N1 infection. Countries in Europe have advised owners of pets living near H5N1 wild bird foci to keep cats indoors and dogs on a leash when taken for a walk.’

Now we come back to the ‘here/now ‘! We must accept the fact that there is a threat! It is going to be more difficult on some of us cat owners than others. My two cats, for example, are declawed and do not go outside at all - so I am reasonably sure they are safe. But for those of you that allow your cat free access to the outside to roam and play (and chase those birds) you might want to exercise some extra caution for a time until this threat passes. It may have seemed cute in the past when your ‘alpha cat’ decided to bring home the bacon in the form of a dead bird and lay it in front of your favorite chair - that time has past. Now we must take some extra caution. Of course, in any circumstances of questionable behavior or possible illness, the vet is the best bet. Even a phone call to discuss the current circumstances would help rule out any possibility of a worse case scenario.

American Bobtail Cats

The American Bobtail Cat is the only breed of cat I know of that has a really cool story as to its origins. Well, maybe. Actually the origin of the American Bobtail Cat seems to be in dispute. Depending on who you ask, it may or may not even be American at all.

According to some sources, there was a feral brown tabby kitten found on an Arizona Indian Reservation with a bobbed tail in the 1960’s. The cat got the name Yodie. Even though this was not by any means the first bobbed tail cat, many had been around and seen by the early settlers and Indians as well. But when Yodie was bred to a Siamese Cat, the standard for the American Bobtail Cat was born.

Other experts say that the American Bobtail Cat was brought here to the US from Europe as they came here to settle in the New World, making the American Bobtail Cat not so American. says, “According to legend, bobtails are the result of a crossbreeding between a domestic tabby cat and a bobcat. Although this IS genetically possible, the unusual tail is actually the result of a random genetic mutation. The breed was recognized by the International Cat Association in 1989.”

According to Wikipedia, the American Bobtail Cat is not related to the Japanese Bobtail Cat in any way. They came from different genetic lines even though both have similar builds and colorings.

The appearance of the American Bobtail Cat, the wild look, the fuzz on the cheeks and tips of the ears, and it’s feral roots, lead some to believe that it could be related to the Bobcat or the Lynx. DNA tests have not been able to reach a conclusion that links the American Bobtail Cat to either of the two wild cat breeds.

Further confusion is due to the inability to narrow down the genes that cause the tail to be short in the first place. American Bobtail Cats have tails of varying lengths and shapes, so the standard is currently loosely defined as breeders try to isolate a way to breed toward a standard tail length and shape.

The variations include “Rumpies”, “Risers”, and “Half-Length Tails. Rumpies are American Bobtail Cats with no tail, while Risers are short stubby tails.

American Bobtail Cats are very loving and expect to be petted and loved in return. But watching your American Bobtail Cat go after prey or even imaginary prey, you would have a hard time associating it with the cat that was just purring in your lap minutes before.

They tend to be very muscular, have large feet, and have hindquarters that are higher than their shoulders, giving them the predator look. They can naturally survive in rough conditions and fend for themselves in the wild, yet are perfectly willing to let you care for and feed them.

If you want a cat that will be playful and loyal, yet tough and independent, a American Bobtail Cat might be the one for you.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Ragdoll Cats - An Unusual Cat Breed

The Ragdoll cat breed has an unusual history. According to one story, aliens brought this cat here; a cat that gets its name from the way it goes limp like a Ragdoll when you pick one up.

The Ragdoll cat breed originated in Riverside, California in the 1960s; the breed was founded by an eccentric woman named Ann Baker. The very first Ragdoll cat was a Persian-Birman mix named Josephine. Ragdoll cats come in a variety of colors today, including blue, bicolor, color point, torte, mink, and lynx.

The Ragdoll cat is the largest breed of domestic cat; males can weigh in over twenty pounds when fully mature. Ragdolls are registered by all of the major cat associations and recognized as a purebred cat.

Ragdoll cats are easy going and best known for their characteristic limpness when held. They have medium longhair coats and shed very little for having coats of this length. Ragdolls are very low maintenance cats; they have silky rabbit like fur and do most of their grooming themselves. Because of their size, Ragdoll cats tend to be slightly clumsy; these cats do not typically make good mousers, they are just too laid back to care about mice. Many Ragdoll cats exhibit dog-like behaviors; for example, this breed will run to the door to greet you upon returning home.

Part of what makes this cat so unusual are the stories Ann Baker told about its origins. On one account Ann Baker claimed here new breed of cat was brought here by aliens; another account states the breed was genetically engineered by the government.

Alien or government conspiracy aside, the Ragdoll has quickly become one of the most popular breeds of cat available today.

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