Saturday, December 30, 2006

Cat Fleas

There are more than 2,000 species of fleas around us. Out of these, the most common one is the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis. The cat adult fleas, unlike many other fleas, remain on the host. Though it exists worldwide, it is most commonly found in the United States. Cat fleas are commonly found on both cats and dogs.

In order to reproduce, cat fleas needs fresh blood. They lay eggs at the rate of one egg per hour. Their life cycle consists of four stages of metamorphosis, namely egg, larval, pupa and adult. Depending on external environmental factors like temperature and humidity, this cycle lasts 30 to 75 days. The most common problem occurring due to flea bites is flea allergy dermatitis, the severity of which depends upon the sensitivity of the host. Pet owners in the United States spend millions of dollars each year on flea allergy remedies. Cat fleas often carry infection too, and are feared to be capable of carrying plague and typhus. They also serve as the intermediate host to the dog tapeworm, an intestinal parasite, which gets transmitted to the pest when the flea carrying the tapeworm cyst is ingested.

The only possible way to detect fleas is to observe the behavior of your pets. Early detection of the fleas enables you to control them and minimize the suffering that can be caused to you and your pets by allergies or more serious infections transmitted by them. The most important way to control the breeding of fleas is to take proper care of sanitation of your indoor and outdoor premises. Ensuring proper care of pets by washing and shampooing them regularly is also another important factor. There are varieties of shampoos available in the market for pets, which contain pesticides, and are helpful in eradication of fleas.

Only by being conscious of cleanliness can we rid ourselves of the annoyance and hazards spread by cat fleas: by preventing them from breeding in and around our homes and pets.

A Black Cat is Just a Cat

When my old cat died, I decided to pick one out of the Humane Society. They had named the first cat I saw “Batman”, and I fell in love with him on sight.

But when I brought him home, I discovered he didn’t quite have the courage of the comic book hero. I made some mistakes which resulted in a month long struggle to coax him out of his hiding place to join the family.

I renamed him Bear, and he is wonderful cat, but my guests seem a little uncomfortable when he comes into the room. After all, he is completely black.

He is a black cat and some people are afraid of Black Cats…

The Black Cat in History

Historically, black cats have been associated with omens, bad luck and, well...evil.

The poor unfortunate kitties have been used in rituals, and were supposedly the "familiars" of witches. Anarchism has used the symbol of the black cat, as has Wicca, the modern day expression of Witchcraft. Superstition has associated bad luck with having a black cat cross your path.

All-in-all, the black cat has been getting some really bad press for centuries, and all of that is not easily overcome in just a few short lines of this article.

Scaredy Cat

A very highly sensitive cat, our new black Bear was far more scared of us than we were of him, and we made a number of mistakes in the first hour of his introduction that practically destroyed our chances for introducing him to our home.

The process of first finding Bear where he had hidden in the house and gradually coaxing him out of his hiding place to join the family was long and agonizing. It took over a month, and I had almost despaired that we would ever acclimate him.

Patience won out, though…

Superstition Dispelled

Since then, Bear has been rolling around on my lap enjoying his daily pettings, sleeping in my bed, yowling at the females he sees from his perch in the kitchen window and just generally bringing a lot of joy to our lives.

He is here to dispel the notion that a black cat means bad luck. He is one of the sweetest cats you'll ever meet, and there's absolutely *nothing* scary about him. And I can tell you for a fact that no bad luck is connected with Bear. He's crossed my path innumerable times, and so far I haven't experienced anything one might think of as "bad luck".

I have to say, though, that on Halloween night he seems to be scared of his own black shadow. But I try to keep him calmed down and happy to be where he my lap purring as loud as he can!

How Can you Tell if Your Cat Really is a Maine Coon?

The Maine Coon cat has been called “the king of the domestic cat world”. The breed is visually stunning with its beautiful long ruff, bushy “raccoon like” tail and large tufty paws. The Maine Coon is the largest domesticated cat and visitors to our house are shocked to discover our 2-year old male kitten has another 2-3 years to grow before he is classed as an adult. As well as the Maine Coon’s striking physical appearance, the breed has an inquisitive, friendly and lively personality.

I’ve had many people ask the question, “ I think my cat is at least part Maine Coon…how can I tell?”

This is how the Maine Coon Breeders and Fanciers Association (MCBFA) answer the question on their website:

“The Maine Coon is America’s native longhair cat; it evolved naturally in response to the New England climate. Your cat’s ancestors might be similar to the cats that founded the Maine Coon breed. However, it’s impossible to tell from just looking at your cat if it is related to the Maine Coon or any other breed. Because the Maine Coon is a natural breed and hasn’t been bred to the extremes, there are cats all over the world that resemble the Maine Coon. The only way to tell for sure if your cat is a Maine Coon is to look at the pedigree.”

Ok, that may not help much because most people do know when they have a pedigree Maine Coon because they have papers verifying the pedigree.

So, if you don’t have papers how can you tell if you have at least a part Maine Coon?

Firstly, these cats are not normal! They have distinctive personality traits and unique Maine Coon features. If your cat has some or all of the following, you can be sure you have a cat with dominant Maine Coon breeding:

Physical Features:

1. Head: Round in shape when viewed from the front, medium in width and longish in length. The muzzle is square and can look broad in more mature male cats.

2. Ears: Set high and well apart. They are large, and well tufted tapering to a point, in common with the Bobcat and the Lynx. The tufts on the ears are one of the classic signs of a Maine Coon.

3. Eyes: Large and wide set. Slightly oblique slanting to outer base of ear.

4. Body: Full maturation can take 4 to 5 years and allowances should be made when judging size of the cat. Overall, the body is muscular and broad chested. The body is well proportioned throughout, and there are no unusual “oddities” in relation to size proportion.

5. Legs and Feet: The legs are sturdy and substantial, and proportionate to the body. The paws are very large and well tufted. Tufts in between the toes are an essential feature for a Maine Coon. There are five toes on the front paws and four on the back.

6. Tail: This is the probably the most unmistakable feature of the Maine Coon. The tail is long and should run the length of the body when at least as long as the neck. Originally, when Maine Coons lived as farm cats, the tail would cover the whole body and act as a kind of furry sleeping bag in the winter. The fur is also thick and long. It has been said that the name “coon” comes from “racoon” because of the similarities of the tails of the two animals.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Cat Health Questions

All cat owners around the world are worried about their cat’s health. Since one cannot communicate with the animal, cat owners usually ask each other questions regarding the cat’s health. If a cat continuously purrs for no apparent reason, one may get worried, and wonder what the cat is trying to say. Loving a pet is natural, but trying to completely understand the pet is not always possible.

Questions may pertain to various aspects of a cat’s existence. There could be queries and doubts about feeding, vaccinating, grooming, spaying and neutering. Further, an owner may be assailed with doubts about how to read pet food labels, details about micro chipping cats, flea control and prevention of illnesses. The list of questions is truly endless and every cat owner would identify with the challenges of coping with these tricky questions.

Asking questions can help cat owners understand behavioral patterns and signs. A pet owner may not be aware that the cat is experiencing psychological changes. Each cat has a different temperament. While some maybe sleepy, others are active. Providing the cat with a companion or playthings might prove helpful.

Questions may be related to food habits of the cat. While some may show signs of continuous hunger, others might refuse to eat. For a cat owner, it is difficult to comprehend cat behavior at all times. The easiest way to gather information is to note every question that arises from time to time and ask questions. There are cat owners’ groups in many towns and cities where cat lovers converge to discuss these questions and educate one another. There are many online web sites dedicated to a cat owner’s needs. And veterinarians are a great source of information for cat owners, as well.

The 30 second Guide to Grooming a Maine Coon Cat

Maine Coons are a semi-longhaired breed and have a heavy thick coat. Frequent grooming is required to prevent the fur from matting and knotting.

Common places where knots can develop are around the front and back legs on the underside of the body.

Things you will need:

1. Mild cat shampoo
2. Empty bottle for mixing water with shampoo
3. Rinsing jug and/or shower spray
4. Steel comb
5. Fur brush
6. Clippers (“rounded” type)

A Maine Coon breeder shared with me her method for bathing her 7 Maine Coon cats!

Add part cat shampoo and warm water to an empty bottle (amounts according to directions on bottle) and mix thoroughly.

Run the bath, without your cat knowing it’s for him/her!

Gently lower your cat into a filled bath (2-3 inch depth of water approx), feet first and gently pour bath water over body with a jug.

Add shampoo/water mix on a section of the fur and lather steadily.

Be as flowing and speedy as you can without any sudden movements. Offer reassurance and praise throughout.

When fully lathered, rinse as thoroughly as you can. Again be gentle and try to avoid fast jets of water or too much splashing.

Place the cat in a large towel and dry as much excess water out the fur as quickly as possible.

Soon after, get the first brush onto the coat and continue to groom at regular intervals until the coat is dry. I have heard of some owners using hair dryers, although we have never used this method so can’t comment on its effectiveness.

Pay particular attention to the tail, and be careful not to catch the tailbone with the brush. This can be painful and can cause to discomfort if extra care is not taken.

TIP: You can wear gardening gloves if your Maine Coon has a tendency to scratch whilst he is being groomed. We don’t tend to wear these ourselves as Henry has been groomed since he was a kitten and is quite used to this routine. He also knows he will receive treats once the trauma is over!

Claw Clipping

If you do not feel confident with this, you may ask your vet to carry this out, or a professional groomer. However, if approached carefully, it can be done quickly and without discomfort to the cat.

The most important thing is not to cut too far down the claw into the “quick”. This looks like a pink pointed claw within the claw.

My advice when starting out with this is to just clip the points off the claws regularly, rather than leaving long periods between clipping.

The other thing to remember is not to cut “across” the claw. You must cut with the clippers facing down in the same direction as the claw is pointing.

Cat Health Problems

All cat owners should be aware of the common health problems that their cat could face. Cat health problems can be detected through behavioral changes, symptoms and sounds. Common health problems include anemia, allergies, skin infections and tapeworms caused by fleas.

Flea collars are a popular accessory for solving the cat health problem of fleas, but their effects are still being debated. Some studies show they may also cause some irritation to the cat’s skin. Another cat health issue is ear mites. Ear mites are dark, waxy microscopic parasites, which itch and can be contracted by proximity to an untreated animal. If untreated, ear mites can cause deafness. Several treatments are available to fight this ailment.

Tapeworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and coccidia are internal parasites commonly affecting cats. Symptoms vary from mild to severe diarrhea, weakness, depression, loss of appetite, weight loss, vomiting and a dull coat. A veterinarian can recommend de-worming medication based on a sample of the feces.

Toxoplasma gondii are small parasites, affecting humans with a weak immune system. These parasites can also affect a cat. Proper handling of food, and regular cleaning of litter boxes prevents the transmission of these parasites. Common symptoms include painful urination or blood in the urine.

Cats may contract upper respiratory infections causing sneezing, running nose, spotty eyes, fever and decreased appetite. Fatal if left untreated and highly contagious, prevention is the best approach. Feline infectious peritonitis is a lethal virus causing fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite. Blood tests can determine if there was exposure to the virus. There is no effective treatment and prevention using vaccines is the only hope.

Feline distemper is a contagious viral disease transmitted through contact with humans, infected cats, hair, paws and food bowls. Symptoms occur suddenly with vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea. Feline immunodeficiency virus, passed on by cat bites is fatal, causing chronic infections that don’t respond to medication, respiratory problems, loss of appetite, diarrhea and oral infections.

These are just a few common cat health problems. One must be attentive to the cat’s actions and behavioral changes at all times and work with veterinarians to overcome cat health concerns.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Keys To Proper Care For Your Pet Cat

Pet cats can bring joy, amusement, frustration, and unconditional love. There is certainly no denying that they brighten up your day, but do you really know how to best look after the cat in your life?

Why Cats Make Good Pets and the Most Common Pet Breeds

If you are looking for a pet that has its own mind, that is independent, but who is extremely loving at the same time, then a cat may be the perfect pet for you. They require fairly little maintenance compared to a dog, and they also provide plenty of love and affection – often following you around from room to room. Cats can be much more independent than dogs, but in both cases, both will return the affection you show them in spades.

When it comes to the large variety of breeds, you can choose from, some are definitely more common than others are and there are certain breeds that make better pets than others do. These include:

The Persian

The Persian cat is by far the most popular pet cat in America. Hardly anybody can resist its laid-back temperament and its extremely affectionate personality. Out of all of the different breeds, this one seems to form the strongest loyal bonds with its owners and despite their daily grooming needs they do make the best pets for many cat lovers.

The Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is a large cat and it has a really affectionate nature. They are extremely gentle and they love being around people. Whilst their coats are quite long, they do not require as much grooming as a Persian cat does. Overall, they are gentle giants in the cat world and they have remained the second most popular cat in America for years now.

The Exotic

This breed of cat is generally considered to be a shorthaired version of the Persian and cat lovers like them due to the fact that they are easier to groom. The breed looks particularly sweet and innocent and it is definitely a favorite amongst cat lovers.

So, those are the top three breeds within America and they are all extremely affectionate and loving. The main thing to keep in mind is that no matter which breed you decide upon, they all need some form of grooming and looking after.

Knowing the Grooming Requirements of Your Chosen Breed

All cats need some form of grooming no matter what breed you finally purchase. Obviously shorthaired cats will need less grooming than longhaired breeds so that could be a factor in your decision when purchasing your pet cat.

Longhaired breeds generally need to be groomed daily, though it is always a good idea to research your individual breed. For example, the Persian needs a lot of grooming and it definitely needs doing daily, whereas the Maine Coon, who is another breed with longer hair, needs less grooming. So, research your breed and ensure that you know what you are letting yourself in for.

Overall cats can make extremely good pets, you just have to do your research and ensure that you are purchasing the right breed for you. If you have small children living in the house, cats are pretty forgiving, but you should have a discussion with them about the fact that a cat is a live animal and could scratch or bite them if pushed too far.

Things To Prepare Before Bringing Your Pet Cat Home

Purchasing a new pet cat can be a wonderful experience, yet, it can also be a little overwhelming and worrying, too, especially if you have other animals! So just how do you go about introducing your new pet to the rest of the household and do you really know the true needs of your cat in order to look after them properly?

Introducing Your New Pet into Your Home

There are a number of factors that you will need to take into account before you introduce your pet into your home. These include:

* When to introduce The Cat

While it may be extremely tempting to just bring the cat home and put it down onto the floor to roam around freely, if you have other pets it is an extremely bad idea! You simply cannot realistically expect your other animals to get on with this new arrival instantly. It takes time and if you do not introduce the cat into the home with plenty of time, you could face daily conflicts for a long period of time!

So just how is it possible to bring a new cat home and not introduce it to the rest of your pets? Well, the simplest way to do it is to put the cat into a separate room and give it a litter tray, food, water, a bed and plenty of toys to play with. Ensure that no other animal can get into the room but allow them to be able to sniff under the door. It is extremely likely that you will hear a lot of hissing and scratching as the animals sniff each other under the door, but that will fade in time.

* How to Introduce the Cat

As well as keeping the new cat in a separate room, it is a good idea to let the animals sniff each other indirectly. This basically means wiping the new cat with a towel and letting the other animals sniff it and vice versa. All the animals should, over time, get used to the new scent and they will accept it as normal.

Another way is to switch the cat’s rooms every now and again. Let the new cat into the main house and put the other animals into the cat’s safety room in order to let them sniff around. Once you have done this a few times, you can then step it up by allowing the animals to sniff and see each other through a safety gate. Monitor their behavior and obviously remove the animals from each other if they get too nasty with each other. Over a period of time of doing this, you will notice an improvement and eventually you will be able to introduce them into the main house altogether without many problems.

Bringing a new cat home is exciting and it can be very rewarding also. However, you really do need to take certain precautions if you already have other pets. If you follow the instructions above, you should be able to introduce your new pet into your home without much hassle. It just takes time and patience but you will get there if you persevere!

9 Reasons for Adopting a Senior Cat – and 6 Reasons for Not Adopting a Kitten

He leaped out of the cage and grabbed me around the shoulders. My shock quickly turned into amazement. He hadn't sunk his claws into me! My thought was, "This cat definitely knows good manners. Somebody has worked with him." I looked at the ticket on the cage door. It read, "Morgan, male, age 14."

Age 14? I hesitated. That was pretty old. I put him back in the cage and walked around the shelter, looking the other cats over. There were many nice ones, as well as a few kittens.

But my mind kept going back to Morgan, and I realized that, in fact, I had bonded with him. Fourteen years notwithstanding, we had become buddies.


One of the saddest things you'll see in Animal Shelters is the number of older cats waiting for adoption. By and large, people are looking for kittens.

The older cats languish, many from happy homes where they were loved and cared for, but brought into the shelter for some reason known only to the owner and the cat.

Many people, who don't like older cats, like kittens. Kittens are cute, cuddly, and funny. They make pleasing pets – but lose their "playfulness" when they grow up, and with it the "love" of their owners.

Somebody said that the mark of a true cat lover is to desire to have grown cats over kittens.


Many people don't think through the consequences of adopting a kitten, or of taking one or two kittens from the litter a friend is trying to get rid of, or bringing into your home one left on your doorstep.

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you adopt a kitten:

1. Taking care of themselves. Kittens are pretty marginal in being able to take care of themselves, especially when it comes to using a litter box. Do you have time to house train your kitten?

2. Young children. Do you have young children in the house? A child of 2 or 3 may inadvertently kill a kitten. Older children need to be taught how to play with them and need to be closely supervised.

3. Other pets. Are you bringing a kitten home to a household with other, older pets? Make certain you have the time to spend introducing and acclimating your pets to the kitten (and vice versa)

4. House dangers. Is there anything dangerous in your house that could harm a kitten? If you are not home during the day, have you made sure your kitten is safe while unsupervised?

5. Adoptions other than from an animal shelter. .If you are adopting a kitten from a friend, or taking one from a mother cat's litter, are you prepared to neuter or spay the kitten and give her the vaccinations she needs?

6. Vaccinations. A kitten receives all of her vaccinations over a period of time. You should make sure you have the time and interest to get her the full regimen.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Cat health insurance: The facts few people know.

Few people know this, but pet insurance has actually been around for about 15-20 years.

The number of pet owners who have Pet Insurance is growing rapidly every year - especially since the plans have been getting better over the years.

Until pet insurance came along, preventative and routine care, as well as emergencies and diseases were all paid for by the pet owner - which isn't like most medical, surgical, dental, and pharmacy cases in human medicine.

Pet health policies are closely related to human insurance policies.

For example - there are annual premiums, deductibles, and different coverage plans based on what you, the pet owner chooses.

As far as the plans - they are based on your cat's age, breed, whether or not your cat goes outdoors or is strictly indoors, whether your cat is spayed/neutered, and pre-existing conditions also are considered.

So a young, healthy cat who is spayed/neutered will typically have the lowest rates.

Also note, some companies will refuse cats with current health conditions or a terminal disease - while others will allow coverage if your cat's condition is stable or controlled.

Currently, the overall average for annual deductibles is about a hundred bucks. Of course the costs of the policy vary, depending on what you choose and the factors already mentioned (age, breed, etc.)

Some of the plans are comprehensive and include annual checkups and vaccinations, routine care, preventive medications (like Heartworm preventive) and spay/neuter surgeries.

Other plans only cover accident and illness. Almost all plans offer instant coverage for accident claims, and 30 days for illness claims on new policies.

Additional pets added to the plan usually receive a discounted rate.

But what other options do you have besides pet insurance?

  • Well, you can check out a discount program, like Pet Assure. This national program offers 25% savings on all veterinary services and up to 50% on pet supplies and services.

  • Or, you can put away money in a savings account every month or with every paycheck. It's wise to keep a minimum of $1000 in the account at all times, just in case of emergencies.

  • Cat litterbox training – How to encourage faithful litterbox use

    Cats don't necessarily need to be trained to use the litter box the same way a dog needs to be housetrained or a child potty trained. It's actually a natural born instinct for them to want to bury their waste in a soft, diggable material such as litter.

    So most of the litter training is already done for you! However, the litterbox should always be the best bathroom option available – otherwise you can run into problems.

    But let's start at the beginning.

    Just because a cat naturally is driven to use the litterbox, that doesn't necessarily mean you can't litterbox train a stubborn cat or encourage appropriate elimination behavior. Whether dealing with a young kitten who hasn't learned any bathroom habits, or an older cat who's decided to stop using the litterbox – there are certainly things you can do to encourage faithful litterbox use.

    The first thing I would do, especially when dealing with a kitten, is to have scheduled feeding times throughout the day. (this way, you will know when your kitten/cat is going to need to go to potty)

    It's much easier to predict when a kitten is going to start looking for a place to go potty, because they typically need to go anywhere from 5 - 25 minutes after eating. With an older cat, bathroom time will be harder to predict but through careful and persistent observation you will be able to pick up on a pattern.

    A young cat (4 months and younger) should eat 3-4 times a day. 5-15 minutes after your kitten is done eating, gently place him or her in the litter box.

    If you see the kitten showing signs of wanting to go elsewhere (sniffing around, squatting) gently pick the kitten up and place him/her in the litter box. Yelling at or scolding a cat or kitten for inappropriate elimination will not help. In fact, it will simply make your cat fear you.

    What's more, if you scold your cat or kitten and then put them in the litterbox – this only worsens the problem as the cat starts to view the litterbox as a punishment.

    This may also cause them to be afraid of going potty in front of you – which can lead to anxiety and stress, and also be a huge problem. So make sure you always make it a pleasant and happy experience for your cat or kitten to use the litter box. During the early stages of training, I'd suggest rewarding appropriate litterbox use with loads of praise and a delicious treat. On top of that, make sure the litterbox fits the cat.

    What I mean by that is, a small kitten needs a shallow litterbox with short sides that he or she can actually climb into without help.

    While at the same time, a large cat will get frustrated by a litterbox that isn't big enough to scratch, dig and move around in.

    If you keep finding kitty surprises right next to the litterbox rather than inside it, your cat may actually be going potty inside the litterbox, but the waste doesn't land where it's supposed to because there isn't enough room.

    If you are still struggling with litterbox training your cat after following these suggestions, I'd like to invite you to visit to get more information about solving common cat behavior problems.

    Does You Cat Have Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)?

    FLUTD, also known as feline urologic syndrome or FUS, is a common term that applies to an assortment of ailments affecting a cat’s lower urinary tract such as cystitis, infection of the urinary tract, kidney stones and the formation of crystals in the urinary tract.

    More prevalent among male cats over 12 months old FLUTD is a problem that can keep cropping up in some cats over their lifetime and is usually very painful and potentially lethal if not treated quickly. If you think your cat has FLUTD take them to the Vet as quickly as possible because in some extreme cases death can occur within a day.

    FLUTD - Potential Causes

    Since FLUTD comprises several different diseases it can be hard to isolate the exact causes but here are some commonly accepted reasons your cat can contract FLUTD:

    Most cats usually don’t drink very much water and because of this they may not urinate enough to keep their urinary tract cleansed.

    Overweight cats usually are not very active and tend to make fewer visits to the litter box so their urine sits in their bladder longer and crystals can form or infections can develop.

    Some evidence suggests that having your cat neutered might make it easier for them to get FLUTD.

    Cats that are always indoors and use a litter box have a greater chance of having urinary tract problems as opposed to cats that spend a lot of time outdoors.

    Your cat can become dehydrated if you use a dry cat food but you should know that many cat experts recommend dry cat food over moist in most cases.

    Even though it might be hard to believe stress can play a major role in a cat’s life and this is also felt to be a trigger for FLUTD.

    FLUTD - Symptoms

    It is important to make note of any change in your cat’s daily behavior as this can be a clear sign a urinary tract problem is developing:

    Is your cat urinating more frequently?

    Are there any traces of blood in your cat’s urine? If so take them to the Vet immediately.

    Does your cat strain while urinating or is unable to go at all? Do not mistake this for constipation which is the inability to have a bowel movement.

    Is your cat urinating outside the litter box or spraying doorways? This might indicate FLUTD but can also be attributed to behavioral problems.

    Does your cat have a sudden loss of appetite?

    FLUTD - Treatments

    If you think your cat might be having some type of urinary problem your Vet can do a simple urine test to check for Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease.

    The good news is that FLUTD is easily treated through medicine and changes in your cat’s diet. Be sure and follow your Vet’s advice and your cat will be healthy in no time.

    FLUTD – Prevention

    FLUTD related diseases typically go away in a week or two but you do not want to take the chance and wait to see if your cat gets better because doing so can be risky to your cat’s long term health.

    You need to make sure your cat is drinking enough fresh water and using a water fountain designed just for this purpose might help.

    If you think stress is the problem you need to find out what the stressors are and eliminate them.

    Follow your Vet’s advice to the letter.

    If there is one central theme to this article it is that you do not want to take risks with your cat’s health. If you think they have FLUTD you need to get them to your Vet quickly so a professional diagnosis can be made and the appropriate treatment prescribed. Do not disregard your cat’s sickness thinking it will go away as FLUTD can not only be very painful but lethal as well.

    Tuesday, December 26, 2006

    Dogs and Cats Need Healthy Teeth and Gums Too

    Your pet’s dental care is important; it is an integral part of your pet's health. According to a noted veterinary hospital, just as you brush your teeth every day and have them professionally cleaned by your dentist, your animals need the same or similar treatment. A common indication of dental disease in your pet is of course, bad breath. With dogs and cats, naturally, some breath odor is unavoidable at times. However, when the breath odor is really bad, this may be due to the metabolism of some of the bacteria present in the mouth when excessive plaque is present.

    Veterinary professionals state that plaque forms when there is a buildup of bacteria and other components of saliva along the teeth and/or gums. It mainly consists of bacteria and is soft at first. When plaque is soft, it can be removed easily at times by frequent brushing. After plaque hardens it is known as calculus—more commonly called tartar. Calculus can build up on your pet’s teeth. This calculus is usually below the gum line and can lead to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a major initiator of infections in the gums, which can also lead to infections throughout the body. Oftentimes the teeth become very painful and loose. Some animals may begin to lose their teeth.

    Do not allow the tartar to build up on your pet’s teeth. Built up calculus can cause severe dental disease. One of the first signs of dental disease is gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums. The gums will be sore and reddened, and the animal’s breath will have a bad odor. There may be some drooling due to the soreness. If you brush the teeth, the gums will probably bleed.

    This is where preventative maintenance comes in: The best kind of preventative care for your pet's teeth is simply regular brushing. Occasionally, dental prophylaxis at your veterinarian’s office may also be required. A dental prophylaxis (often called dental prophy) is an in-depth teeth cleaning and oral exam performed by veterinarians. In this instance, the animal will be placed under general anesthesia so that the dental prophy can be performed.

    Brushing your pet’s teeth need not be difficult. Once your pet is used to it, it should not take long to do. Brush your cat or dog’s teeth using a soft bristled toothbrush along with pet toothpaste. The toothpaste that we use as humans should not be used with our pets as it may irritate their stomachs if swallowed—which is a possibility. Get your pet used to the brushing when your pet is young; this will make is less difficult in the long run. Vets state that most pets will tolerate brushing no matter what their age. Brush your pet’s teeth gently on a regular basis. This will go a long way to reducing plaque buildup.

    Cat Care for the Sr. Cat

    How quickly time passes by! If you kitty is over 10 years old he is considered old! You may be aware of this fact but what you may not know is how to care for your aging kitty. What are the best ways to keep your older cat healthy and happy as well as active during their later years? Some questions might arise such as, should I change the food I have been using? You might wonder how to keep your cat healthy through exercise? What about medical care?

    When a cat ages, its body goes through much the same types of changes that we see in humans. Cat care becomes very important at this time. For example, there is a natural decrease in muscle mass, along with a coinciding increase of body fat. If you are not careful and take early action these changes can lead to an overweight kitty! Because the energy needs of the typical cat begins to slow around the ages of 7 to 9, changes in food intake and exercise must be made to prevent the cat from become unhealthy. Nutrition is a very critical aspect of cat health and cat care. Strolling down the cat isle at the pet store will present a vast array of cat foods for every kind of situation. The elderly cat is not left out. It is very important that you choose a food designed for your cats age. Food for older cats will contain less calories and protein and more of the vitamins and minerals an older cat needs. A quick call to your vet can help you decide if you are not sure which one to pick.

    Sometimes you may not be sure if your kitty is officially a Sr yet. There are some signs that you will want to keep an eye on. When a couple of these traits begin to be apparent you know its time to make some changes. Is your cat moving slower than the past, does he sleep more than years past, is your cat unable to jump up on things that use to be easy for him? These can all be signs of an aging cat. You may want to consider things that can make life a little easier for him at this time of his life. Pet steps can help a cat get up on a bed that is too high to jump on now. A comfortable, plush cat tree with a cat house can make for restful naps and a place to hide out in.

    Arthritis in older cats is a big issue because as cats age the absorption rate of calcium into their bones becomes inadequate. A general rule of cat care is that arthritis becomes an issue for cats at about the age of 12, even earlier if the cat happens to be obese. If your veterinarian diagnosis your cat with the painful illness of arthritis, there are some steps that can be taken to minimize its effect on the cat. For example, this can often be treated with a combination of weight loss and medication. Sometimes its just a fact of growing old and the only thing we can do is make things a little easier for our old friend.

    As your cats age progresses, cat care becomes even more crucial. When a cat becomes very old, it can suffer loss of sight and hearing, just like humans. And, just as with older humans, cat care becomes a little harder at this age. Care needs to be taken to make sure the cat is as comfortable as possible. The teeth of you cat can present cat care challenges as he gets older. As with all of us, the older we get the more dental problems we have. Be sure you are doing all you can to keep your cat's teeth healthy. See our cat care article on cat teeth. One good way to help a cat keep healthy teeth is by feeding him hard cat food most of the time.

    Animal Afterlife - The Souls of Animals

    At some point in our lives, we have all lost precious and dear pets, or at least know someone who has. Their passing is often as painful to us as when we lose human loved ones, sometimes even more so. When they leave us, we like to think that there is a place for them in eternity. It is important that we feel that somehow, someway, provision has been made for them.

    Unfortunately, when we seek validation for these hopes from those we look to in spiritual matters, we frequently find that they hold to the view that animals are for this world only and that they do not possess eternal souls. We are told that when they pass, that is the end of the road for them. This only deepens our sorrow and pain.

    I do not subscribe to this view. In fact, I find it to be both presumptuous and theologically immature. Presumptuous, because the Bible is clear that God valued the creatures he formed with his own hands and called them "very good" after creating them, indicating that their existence pleased him.

    Further, the Bible gives indisputable record that God, motivated by his pleasure and love for his creation, personally and purposely protects and provides for his creatures from Eden past through Millennium future. We are told that he clothes the animals and provides sustenance for them. He directs their migrations to ensure their safety from the environment. He even gives instructions on how domestic animals should be treated. In short, he expresses and employs unending care for his creatures.

    This should come as no surprise to anyone as it is in keeping with his original plan in Eden, which was that animals (like humans) would live forever. His immutability precludes variance from that plan; irrespective of the temporary setback caused by the fall of mankind. It would be presumptuous to think that God would change his mind on this matter, for his thoughts and plans are perfect and never in need of correction, change or update.

    Continuing, I find the idea that animals have no souls, theologically immature and lacking. The evidence found in scripture overwhelmingly supports that animals do indeed have souls, much like people. I say "much like" because there is a distinct difference. Animals are innocent creatures that are not in need of reconciliation and regeneration. Nevertheless, with this one exception, their souls are very similar to, if not exactly like our own.

    In perhaps the oldest book of the Bible, the Book of Job, verse 10 of chapter 12 tells us "In whose hand is the soul of every living thing". This is a very profound passage. The initial, face-value perception is that God is speaking of all creatures, human and animal. The considered, in-depth study of the statement supports the initial perception.

    The word "soul" is used in over twenty different ways in the Bible. Invariably, when people come across this word in scripture, they automatically associate it with redemption, so much so that in no matter what context it appears, the connection to reconciliation and salvation is always present in their minds and unconsciously applied to the interpretation.

    In most cases, this is right and acceptable to the rules of exegesis, but there are times when it is not. Clearly, the gospel message is not for animals. It is exclusively for people. It is a reconciliatory outreach from God to people. However, to allow this truth to cause one to draw the conclusion that animals therefore cannot have a soul, is to visit a gross injustice on scripture.

    The Hebrew word "nephesh" (soul), appears many times in scripture and is used interchangeably to describe both the essence of man and animals. It does not make a distinction between the two and it does not delve into salvation in its application. Rather, it addresses the consciousness of the soul.

    This passage in Job is a good example of this. The word soul is not used in relation to redemption, but rather addresses providential care. A clearer meaning of this verse would be "in whose hand is the life or essence of every living thing…". God is speaking of that part of humans and animals that contains or houses the "life" he has given to them, that part that departs the body when the body expires.

    When we mesh this thought in Job with Romans chapter 8 and Revelation 5:9-13, to name a few corresponding passages, the meaning is clear. The life or essence of every living thing is in the eternal care of the one who created that life.

    However, this word in Job indicates an even deeper thought for us to consider. We often refer to man (or woman) as a flesh and blood body with a soul. This is not so. In keeping with the absolute intent of this word, man is a soul that has been placed in a flesh and blood body. The distinction is subtle, but it is immense in effect. This is our essence, that we are a soul, not a body. The body is temporal, but the soul eternal.

    This truth applies to animals as well. They are not creatures with souls, but are eternal souls given temporary bodies. The same word is used to describe their essence as it is ours. So when we refer to their soul, we are merely acknowledging that animals have essence and that this essence is eternal in nature. They are innocent creatures whose souls are safe in the hand of their creator.

    Monday, December 25, 2006

    Putting Your Pet Out to Pasture

    Don't let the title fool you. This is not an article about your pet getting old. The title is just a "hook" to encourage you to read on. Hopefully, when you do, you will find this a very informative article relating to your pet's health, or at least your understanding of some aspects of it.

    I actually want to talk to you about grass. That's right…grass. More specifically, I want to talk to you about why dogs and cats eat grass.

    I think we would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has not witnessed this peculiarity of domestic animals at one time or another. When it is our pet, however, it can cause us concern and, if we let our imaginations go unchecked, it can cause us alarm.

    It has been my experience that on occasion, that alarm can lead to unnecessary expense as we panic and rush our best friend off to the nearest veterinarian, only to hear him tell us with a chuckle "he's okay, it's normal for him to eat grass. How embarrassing is that!

    Why is it normal for our pets to consume grass? They all do it if they are allowed access to it. Are they not getting the right nourishment? Are they ill? These are all unsettling, but reasonable questions.

    More unsettling is that invariably shortly after ingesting the grass, perhaps 20 minutes later, they regurgitate it back up in a kind of green gooey mess (sorry to be so graphic). Why would they do this? Why would they do something that appears to be so hard on their system, or maybe even harmful to them? Should I be alarmed?

    The short answer is "no, don't panic". As I mentioned earlier, any veterinarian will tell you that this is normal behavior. The very fact that all pets do it should suggest to you that it is not a bad thing.

    The long or more detailed answer is that the outdoors is an animal's natural world and grass is part of that world. You and I can turn on the radio or television and be kept up to date on what is happening in our world. For dogs and cats, the ground is their primary source of connection with their world.

    The ground is like a giant newspaper for them. They interpret the odors and conditions to discover what other dogs have been visiting their turf and what they did there. They "read" the yard to know what is happening in the world outside the house. With their heightened senses, they perceive when another dog or cat has been on their turf, whether it rained the night before, that so and so is in heat, or that the season is changing.

    Additionally, the role the ground plays in our pet's lives does not end at bringing them the news. Through their own "contributions", they communicate to future visitors of that site who the yard belongs to, who they are and what they are about. Sometimes the deposit is meant as a welcome, other times a warning. It just depends on what the news is for that day.

    But in keeping with the primary theme of this article, the ground is also the local canine and feline drug store. Perhaps it could more accurately be called the local natural herb store.

    I don't know how many times I have heard someone ignorantly say "look at that stupid dog eating grass". The truth is, they are not stupid at all, but are rather quite savvy natural pharmacists. I think most people would be surprised to learn that animals know a whole lot more about herbs than we do. I concede it may be more of an instinctive knowledge than cognitive understanding, but it is knowledge nonetheless.

    In fact, their understanding of herbal remedies is awesome. Have you ever noticed that they don't eat just any grass…they sniff around until they find exactly what they are looking for? Like the aisles in a drug store, each section of the outdoors holds different remedies.

    For instance, certain grasses and sprouts are sought out and taken as internal cleansers. They cause vomiting; something we have all witnessed. This vomiting is the expected result for your pet. They know when they eat it that it will cause this reaction, yet they do it willingly and with purpose.

    They instinctively know that it will cleanse their body of bile and other items that are not digestible. Anyone who loves and keeps animals knows that there are a lot of items that qualify in this category, from shoes to yarn to hair to some of the most extraordinary items.

    While it is unsettling to know that they are not smart enough to figure out that swallowing a sock is not a good thing, it is comforting that they are usually savvy enough to know how to extricate it from their system before it becomes a problem or threat. This only emphasizes the importance of their having access to the outdoors on a regular basis.

    Continuing, there is more to their natural pharmacy than just cleansers. Other grasses and herbs help evict or terminate worms and other parasites in their system. Still others provide needed minerals and nutrients and enhance digestive enzymes and acids. Uncannily, they all seem to know what remedy is needed for exactly whatever ails them at the moment.

    Then, perhaps the biggest benefit to them is the presence of chlorophyll in most grasses. Chlorophyll helps to fight infection, enrich the coat and even relieves pain such as joint aches. It can also enhance cartilage soundness and offers a host of other benefits.

    I know all this sounds a bit simplistic, but it really is not that complicated. The truth is that animals appear to know more about these things than you and I do and certainly more than we would think they should know. I am not sure "how" they know, but it is enough to accept that they do know, without having to know the "why".

    Modern medicine has actually taken a step backwards to develop more primitive remedies as a result of a closer study of this savvy in animals. Science is now recognizing that many of the grass roots (pardon the pun) remedies nature provides for our pets are as good as, if not better than synthetic drugs.

    In fact, people are learning how to cultivate and produce certain herbs and grasses to help their pets, even freezing summer crops for winter dispensing when grasses are not in season. This can be especially helpful to cats and other mammals who are not allowed to venture outdoors, but who still need to ingest some of the natural cleansing agents found there.

    Sunday, December 24, 2006

    Help, My Pet Has Diarrhea!

    One of the most common reasons pet owners seek the help of a veterinarian is because their pet has diarrhea. Whether it is a regular occurrence for a pet with an over sensitive digestive system or a one off event, it always signifies that something is not right and requires action to firm those stools up again. This article explains in simple terms some of the more common causes of diarrhea in dogs and cats, and how best to deal with the problem.

    OK, so you have noticed your pet has diarrhea. The first question to ask yourself is to describe the nature of the feces. The consistency, color and even smell of the feces gives the veterinarian vital clues as to the cause. Here are some questions to ask yourself, so that you are well prepared to answer any questions your veterinarian might ask if you end up seeking his/her advice.

    1. How long has your pet had diarrhea for? Has your pet suffered from episodes of diarrhea in the past? If yes, there may be a dietary intolerance to deal with and therefore specific foods to avoid.

    2. Is your dog/cat bright and well or depressed and lethargic? If the latter is true, more urgent diagnostics and treatment may be necessary.

    3. How is your pets appetite? If your pet is still eating it is a good sign that the cause of the diarrhea is a simple one that is easy to fix.

    4. Is the diarrhea watery or just slightly loose? If it is very watery then it suggests fluid is being actively secreted into the intestines, and there is more of a danger from your pet suffering from dehydration due to fluid loss.

    5. Has there been any vomiting at all? If your pet has been vomiting too then the disease is affecting the front end of the digestive tract (esophagus, stomach and small intestine) in addition to the back end (small intestine and large intestine). This could be due to something your pet has eaten, or due to toxins in the bloodstream that make the animal feel nauseous.

    6. Is there any blood in the diarrhea? Blood can take on two forms; bleeding into the small intestine results in black feces as the blood is partly digested by the time it reaches the anus. Bleeding into the large intestine or rectum leads to reddish feces, with more fresh looking blood. The nature of the blood and the color of the stool tells us the location of the problem. Puppies and kittens commonly have streaks of blood in their feces; this is often no major cause of concern. Copious blood in the feces however is a huge worry and needs immediate veterinary investigation to check for nasties such as anticoagulant toxicity, severe infections and tumors.

    7. Which of these two descriptions best fits the diarrhea:

    A) your pet is producing huge amounts of explosive diarrhea a couple of times a day at most, or

    B) your pet is straining to defecate and passing small amounts of mucus covered diarrhea 4 or more times during the day. If the answer is A, the small intestine is the source of the problem whereas if the answer is B, the large intestine is where the disease is. This is also important in how the diarrhea is treated. 8. Could your pet have swallowed an object that is lodged somewhere? This is far more common in dogs, particularly those that play with sticks and toys, or those that are given bones to chew. However it does happen to cats occasionally, with things such as elastic, string or cotton. If your pet has swallowed something that is stuck it will usually be vomiting first and foremost, and off its food. An object stuck in the intestine somewhere will often cause diarrhea though, which can lead to rapid dehydration. This scenario requires urgent veterinary attention, for xrays and possible surgery.

    Common causes of diarrhea in dogs and cats

    1. Intestinal parasites. Make sure your dog/cat is wormed with a licensed veterinary product every 3 months to prevent an infestation building up and causing diarrhea and weight loss.

    2. Bacterial infections. Arguably the most common cause of diarrhea in pets. Many animals are by nature scavengers and will gobble up things they find lying around outside, some of which might be harbouring nasty bacteria that cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. Certain bacteria are worse than others; the 3 ones to worry about are E. coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter as these can be passed to humans. However, bacterial infections are usually easily treated by a course of antibiotics. Veterinarians usually prescribe a non specific broad spectrum antibiotic to start with, and if the stools do not firm up then a swab is taken to determine the species of bacteria involved and which antibiotics it is sensitive to.

    3. Viral infections. Though quite rare nowadays in the USA and UK due to widespread vaccination, viral infections are often more deadly than their bacterial counterparts. One of the better known and most deadly ones in dogs is Parvovirus, which causes an explosive foul smelling bloody diarrhea, usually with vomiting, and severe dehydration. Since antiviral drugs are seldom used in veterinary practice, treatment usually focuses on keeping the dog hydrated via an intravenous drip, and treating any secondary bacterial infections with antibiotics.

    4. Dietary intolerance. Also widely known as food allergy, this is a hypersensitivity reaction to certain ingredients in a pets diet. Certain breeds are more prone to it than others, and it can occur in pets that have been fed the same diet for years but suddenly develop an allergy to one of its ingredients. The symptoms can either be diarrhea, though the animal usually remains bright with a good appetite throughout, or itchiness, in particular licking at the paws. Diagnosis is either via a blood test sent to a specialised laboratory to measure antibodies to different ingredients, or by conducting a strict dietary trial and feeding nothing but chicken and rice for 6 weeks, with no treats at all. Long term resolution is identifying the ingredient responsible and eliminating it from the diet.

    5. Inflammatory bowel disease. This is an inflammation of the wall of the intestines, usually due to a defective immune system. It is characterised by a long history of intermittent or constant diarrhea that is non responsive to antibiotics or a dietary trial. Diagnosis is best achieved by taking biopsies of the intestines and having the tissue samples examined by a pathologist. The disease cannot be cured and is often managed with low dose steroids and/or a prescription diet.

    6. Liver disease. This tends to occur more in older animals and is easily diagnosed via simple blood tests. There are medications to lessen the symptoms, and a low protein, high fibre diet is advised.

    7. Hormonal imbalances. Disease of the adrenal or thyroid glands can cause diarrhea. These can be diagnosed via blood tests and treated appropriately.

    8. Cancer. This is unlikely to occur in young animals. There are a number of different types of cancer that can cause diarrhea, all of which have different prognoses. Early identification and surgical removal of some types may be curative, but if they have already spread via the lymphatic system the outcome is poor.

    What you should do

    If your pet has recently developed diarrhea (and/or vomiting) and seems depressed, lethargic or flat, contact your veterinarian immediately.

    If your pet is off his/her food completely, or is unable to hold down water, contact your veterinarian immediately.

    If your pets diarrhea (or vomit) contains a large amount of blood or is very dark looking, contact your veterinarian immediately.

    If you suspect your pet has a high temperature or is dehydrated, contact your veterinarian immediately.

    If none of the above apply, first of all starve your pet for 24 hours. Make sure plenty of water is available during this period (not too cold), but no food at all. Once your pet has been starved for 24 hours, offer him/her a small amount of chicken and rice. If it is eaten, continue feeding small amounts of chicken and rice 3 times a day for the next 5 days. This bland diet will be gentle on the digestive system as your pet recovers. The majority of cases of sudden onset diarrhea will respond to this protocol.

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