Keep your pets safe during Christmas

The holidays are here again.

 

In the frenzy of decorating the house, baking cookies, shopping for presents, and all the other activities that keep us in a whirl, we often forget about our four-legged family members. They don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

Kitten under tree

People are bringing in things they have never seen before. You’ve heard the saying,”Curiosity killed the cat.” Cats are by nature curious and anything new must be cat inspected.

There are colored lights and artificial garlands strung around. Continue reading “Keep your pets safe during Christmas”

How to Handle the Stray Dog Problem

Definition of a Stray

Last week I wrote a post on feral cats as opposed to Domesticated cats. Handling the stray dog problem is entirely different from working with feral cats. For one thing, size creates a special situation. Adult cats usually weigh 10 to 12 pounds at the most. Even if one should lash out at you, the most you would get is an an angry looking Continue reading “How to Handle the Stray Dog Problem”

What Are the Differences between Feral and Domesticated Cats?

Cats are Cats

Regardless of the conditions where cats live, they are pretty much the same as far as personality and mannerisms are concerned. Cats are opinionated. Cats do what appeals to them. Cats protect their territory. You will see these characteristics in both feral and domesticated cats.

Cats love food. No matter how many times you have fed your cat, she will come back for more. Food says “home” to cats. Cats approach food in one of two ways.

cats Eating

Some cats operate on the theory that food must be devoured immediately because it may be the last meal they will be given. Other cats ration it out over a long period of time- eat some now, save the rest for later, because it may be the last meal they will be given.

Cats like to be clean. They approach cleanliness in unique ways. Nature gave them a scrub brush and located it in their mouths.They use their tongues to clean out foreign stuff in their coats, work out snags in their fur and clean between their toes.They wash their paws and then use their paws to scrub their faces.

Mother cats will groom their kittens several times a day. Grown cats that live in the same household will often groom each other.

Feral Cats vs Domesticated Cats

The word “feral” means wild, a wild animal. A true feral cat is a cat that is born into a feral colony. But, what are the differences between Feral and Domesticated cats?

Male feral cats tend to be larger than male domesticated cats. Feral males are heavy, muscular animals with scars on their faces, ears and hind legs.

Feral cats tend to collect in colonies. They are safer in groups and kittens are safer with several females to look after them. Female feral cats are devoted mothers. Feral cats are mostly nocturnal. They sleep all day and roam after nightfall. Feral cats are smart, social among themselves, and good problem solvers.

Most adult Feral cats never make good house pets. They are always on high alert and spook easily. They don’t transition well from living outside to becoming inside pets.

All cats are very protective of food. If there are several cats in the household, each one will watch the others while they are eating to make sure no one tries to grab another’s meal.

Cat with Food

Cats in the wild often rip off their portion of a kill and carry it off so they can eat while watching the others.

Some people have found a fairly docile cat among a feral colony and point to this as proof that feral cats can be tamed. More likely they probably have found a domesticated cat that was lost from or abandoned by their owners.

Strays will join a feral colony for safety, and these strays will remember their better days. Strays that are found in a feral colony will readily submit to petting and may be happy to become a house cat once again.

Turning Feral into Domesticated Cats

I just got through saying in a paragraph above that feral cats seldom make good indoor pets. But, if you see a cat you really want, and you have lots of time on your hands we can explore the possibility of turning a feral cat into a domesticated creature. Well, it is possible. But you, my friend, must have infinite patience, and you must let the cat think it is her idea.

Even though feral cats are wary of human beings, they can be coaxed with food. All cats love food and they will follow, at a safe distance, out of curiosity, to see where you’ re going with the food.

If you have one, for whatever reason, follow you home, don’t expect her to come in the house, or even come up on the porch. In fact, after you put down the food, the cat may disappear. Later, you will also notice that the food has disappeared, too. You can follow this routine for days, or weeks, before she will eat the food with you there.
cat eating

Then, one day, to your surprise, she will show up at your door. No more going out to find her and guide her to your house with the food. She has taken the next step-she now comes to you for food. She may let you sit with her while she eats.

Now is the time to make a little bed on the porch or patio, or near the back door–where ever she comes for her meal. Make a little lean to or someplace where she can get in out of the elements.This may be as far as the relationship goes. She will trust you for food and shelter and she will make a great outdoor pet.

When she trusts you enough to let you pick her up and brush and pet her make arrangements with a vet to have her neutered or spayed. I use the pronoun “she” in reference to the cat, but male or female, your life will be easier –no kittens or no male yowls. After that little operation, she may be wiling to come inside upon occasion.

Domesticating a feral cat is a long process and takes patience.

Trap-Neuter-Return

Some compassionate people that hate to see feral cat populations wiped out by rounding up and euthanizing all the adults have instituted a program called T-N-R -Trap Neuter Return. T-N-R is considered a humane approach to the feral cat overpopulation. This program takes some veterinarians, willing to give their services and volunteers willing to give their time, so that feral cats can live in their colonies without continuing to increase the population.

It’s a simple action. Volunteers round up the males primarily, and take them to a veterinarian for a simple, quick operation, that they recover from quickly. They are returned to the colony and the colony continues without a continuous increase in kittens.

Cat and volunteer

Simply put, if you feed and water outdoor cats, you have to get them fixed. Female cats can have 2 to 3 litters each year. Each litter will have 5 to 6 kittens. The female kittens from those litters can breed at 6 months of age. It doesn’t take long to be overrun with kitties. Spaying and neutering can stop the over breeding, as well as the yowling, spraying and fighting.

There are opponents to T-N-R. They say it just doesn’t work. Cats may not make as many kittens, but they are susceptible to rabies and other diseases from being on the streets. Also, volunteers get tired of feeding and watering them over the long haul. Helping strays is a long term commitment. Outdoor cats can live five to 8 years depending upon the hazards they encounter.

End-Game

The only real way the help lower the cat overpopulation is to educate humans to be responsible for their pets. Cats should be taken to the vet to be altered anytime after 6 months of age. Cats should be seen by a vet at least once a year and they should be given the necessary shots. Above all, they should be kept inside.

It may seem romantic to let the cat roam free but it isn’t. It’s irresponsible. Pets cannot take care of themselves. We have made them dependent upon us for everything.

For those who would like to read up on cats, roaming and otherwise, an English Veterinarian, James Heriot, has written a number of books on his encounters with pets and farm animals as well as their humans. The book I recommend is: All Creatures Great and Small. Any bookstore can get it for you. For information on T-N-R, check on Google.

I’m Barbara Nelson I’d like to hear from my readers. Let me know what you think.

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Traveling with a Cat in the Car

In the Beginning

Cats don’t like to travel. Ask any self-respecting cat if she would like to take a ride and you’ll get a definite answer- with a paw swipe on any part of your body she can reach. Cats are tied to their living space- a house, an apartment, the barn, etc. Unless she was born in a house trailer or a boat, she will not take easily to a moving vehicle.

That doesn’t mean that she doesn’t love you, her owner and loving friend. She just doesn’t understand why you have to be traveling around all the time. She thinks you should be as content with your home as she is.

Truth of the matter is : your cat probably suffers from motion sickness. When cats look out the window of a moving car, they see a moving world from a static place. That would make almost anyone slightly nauseous. That doesn’t mean that cats can’t travel, it means that if you’re traveling with a cat in the car you just have to work with them.

Planning for the Trip

Before we get too deep into the trip planning, I need to clarify a few things. First, Don’t plan to take your cat on your vacation trip, unless you have no other option. Cats really don’t like to travel, they prefer to say home.

Try to find someone you trust to come over once or twice a day to clean the litter box, put out fresh water and put food down. The other option is to find a good, clean boarding facility for pets. Go check it out first. Plan on boarding your cat with her own bed or favorite “blankie.” Provide enough of her favorite food for the time you will be gone.

Now, back to getting your cat ready to travel, if necessary. This is not going to be easy, but find a harness for your cat and put it on her. Allow yourself some time. If you can, have another person to help you because you can be sure kitty won’t cooperate.

Be sure the harness is snug and your protesting cat can’t wiggle her head or a couple of legs out. She will be lying down with all this activity and she is determined not to get up and stand on her four feet, or walk for that matter. You patiently stand her up and gently pull on the leash to get her to walk. She will immediately flop down on her side while you end up dragging her across the floor.

You will be doing this activity for quite some time. Several days, or several weeks, depending upon how stubborn your cat is. Some cats will never tolerate a harness. In that case she will have to travel in a carrier. Get a carrier that is roomy enough for your cat to turn around in.

Take your cat for short rides in the car. Put her harness on or put her in her carrier and take some short rides. See if she will eventually learn to ride without panic. Make a trip to the veterinarian with your cat. Make sure she is in good health and all her vaccinations are current. The vet can also suggest medication that will keep your cat calm while traveling.

Ready for Travel

Now that you have done everything for travel with the cat, it is now time to get the rest of the family ready for the trip. On the day of departure, pack the cat in the car first. Feed your cat several hours before you put her in the car. Now you can pack out everything else that is needed without trying to keep track of the cat. Keep kitty confined in the back seat of the car in her harness or carrier while the car is moving.

If you were able to teach her to tolerate a harness, you can let her move around in the back seat. Be sure a leash is hooked to her harness, so you can control where she roams. Other things you will need for your cat include a litter box, a bowl for water, a food dish, litter, and her favorite food.

When you pull into a rest stop, let your harnessed cat out. Stay right with her and stay near the car. She is not a dog. You’re not going to take her for a walk.

Show your cat the litter box and a bowl of water. She will probably refuse both and will immediately want back into the safety of the car. If your cat is in a carrier, let her move around loose in the car until you are ready to resume traveling.

Do not be surprised if your cat refuses to use her litter box or drink or eat until you have stopped for the day. Let her get used to her new surroundings before offering her food. Show her where her litter box and water bowl are.

If you are taking your cat on your trip- make it a short trip. Cats just don’t travel well. Now if you must travel because of a job change, preparation for travel is much the same. A lot will depend upon how much time you have to get ready or where you are going. If you are going to a totally different climate, you need to be aware what your cat will need to acclimate herself.

In fact, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to do some advance shopping for the whole family. Find out what grocery stores, what department stores and pharmacies are available. Take extra medications with you that any of the family regularly takes.

If you are going to be on the road for a couple of nights, make reservations at a good motel for the family. Let them know that you have a cat, so that you won’t be turned away.

At the End of the Day

When you reach your destination at the end of each day, take the cat in first. You may want to confine her to an inside room or the bathroom while you unpack the car. When you are in for good, let your cat out to inspect her new digs. She will go over the place with great care. When she finally settles down, feed her and let her settle wherever she wants.

I would love to hear from you. Did I miss anything? Do you have an experience traveling with a cat?  you might notice I always refer to cats as of the female gender. It’s because they seem more female in character and actions.

My-Pet-Toys-And-Stuff: Do Show Dogs Influence our Pet Choices?

Introduction

Everybody loves a movie about a courageous Dog. TV shows and contests about pets hold us captive. A Collie named Lassie was a must see for 19 years (1954 -1973) on Television and in movies. Rudd Weatherwax was trainer and owner of Pal, the first Lassie.

He eventually acquired the name and trademark. Pal and his descendants played Lassie for the whole 19 years.

 

 

 

The movie, 101 Dalmatians, inspired a lot of families to adopt one for a pet.

The 143rd Westminster Dog Show held dog lovers hostage in front of the TV set just a few weeks ago when “King” the wire-haired Fox Terrier from Brazil was selected as Best in Show.

Fox Terrier

But are movies, TV shows and Contests the best avenues to decide on a pet for our households? Do we get an accurate background of knowledge to make an educated decision on a particular animal?

The Valiant Collie

Lassie, the canine star of the long-running TV show of the same name, was played by several dogs. The first dog to portray the female star Lassie was actually a male, named Pal. Pal was an excellent actor, doing most of the stunts on the first take. Pal’s son, Pal Junior came next. Subsequent offspring of Pal; – Spook, Baby, Mire and Hey Hey played the heroine for the whole series.

The Collie is a beautiful dog with an open, bright-eyed facial expression and a long flowing coat. She is a gentle dog and is very good with children. The Collie is an- all-around exceptional dog for a family.

The breed originated in Scotland and Northern England and was used as a herd dog. The Collie is a strong, active, responsive dog, very intelligent, mild-mannered, and easy to train. Daily care includes lots of exercise and a daily brushing.

If you decided to get a Collie for the family pet based on the series, “Lassie” you would have probably made a good choice, considering temperament and ease of learning. But do not expect your collie to perform the gallant rescues that the TV Collie was specially trained to do.

101 Dalmatians, the movie

The movie was released in 1966 and immediately captured everybody’s heart. The story is pretty simple. The evil Cruella deVil is captivated by the dalmatian puppies and devises a way to get enough spotted puppies in order to make her a spotted fur coat. Of course the puppies owners thwart Cruella’s every move and she doesn’t get her coat and the puppies are saved.

Real puppies weren’t trained for this movie. Animatronics were used to create the puppy antics. Nevertheless, people fell in love with the adorable puppies and after the movie release, sales of Dalmatians shot up. Families were not prepared to handle adult Dalmatians and many were given up to pounds and shelters, which led to many of the dogs being euthanized.

Dalmatians, the Dog

The Dalmatian is a medium to large dog, reaching 48 to 55 pounds and has a life span of 13 to 16 years. The origin of the breed is unknown. The name comes from Dalmatia, now called Croatia, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea.

“Born to Run,” the Dalmatian started out as a coach dog- a hunting dog- a fire house dog and a circus performer. The Dalmatian can act from gallant to goofy. He is affectionate and good with kids, friendly with other dogs, but not a dog for apartment living.

Dalmatians shed and need daily grooming. They have a high energy level and daily exercise is a must. This is a dog that was bred to run for miles and miles. In the days of horse drawn carriages, the landed gentry had Dalmatians run alongside the coaches for miles, and perhaps more than once a day.

These dogs have an endless capacity for exercise. They are intelligent animals and need rigorous training. Their owners need training too, on how to manage them. Finally, there is a possibility of deafness that runs in the breed. These are beautiful dogs, but can be more difficult to care for than most families can manage.

143rd Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show

February 11 and 12, Dog lovers were glued to their TV sets waiting to see if their favorite breed would make “Best of Show” this season. Some were happy and no doubt, some were not so happy when the Best in Show, “King,” a wire- hair Fox Terrier won the title.

The Fox Terrier is a medium size dog.The male reaches 14 to 16 inches in height and will  weigh 15 to 20 pounds. Females will reach 13 to 15 inches in height and will weigh 13 to 18 pounds.

The coat is dense with twisted hairs. The hair grows thick and close together, so thick that when you try to part it, you cannot see the skin underneath. Wire hairs have an undercoat that is soft, smooth and short.

Fox Terriers are usually white with black and brown markings.The life span is around 15 years. Like most smaller dogs they present a bold, brave front. They are cheerful, lovable, enthusiastic and playful. They get along well with children and are devoted to family.They will get along with other dogs, if they have been properly socialized.

Terriers are intelligent and can be taught to do tricks. They do have a dominant streak and are very energetic – which means that they need lots of exercise, both mental and physical.

The dog’s owner must be 100 percent, all the time, firmly, his pack leader. Terriers need consistent rules to follow, with limits on what and what not to do. They are fine living in an apartment, as long as they have a vigorous walk or jog each day.

Wire Hair Terriers were originally bred to hunt, coming from a mix of Daschund, English Hound, Fox Hound and Beagle. Farmers used them to stalk and kill small prey.They are one of the oldest Terrier types, dating back to the 17th Century.

Up until 1984, all Fox Terriers were considered one breed, with two coat types: smooth and wire-hair. In 1985, the AKC recognized them as two distinct breeds.

Wire Hair terriers can make good family pets. They are willing companions for that morning jog and that evening constitutional. They do not shed,which makes them wonderful pets for allergy sufferers They need to be brushed once a day and only bathed when necessary.

Wrap Up

The human being likes a certain amount of drama in his/her life. An activity that makes the heart race a little, the breathing come faster. It can be personal activity or the senses triggered by something we see. Action movies can give us a rush of excitement. We love movies where animals are pitted against what seem to be impossible situations, prevail and live happily ever after.

But deciding on a pet based on the tricks the movie animal does is not the right way to go. Those animals are especially trained by professional animal handlers. You can’t expect your pet to perform like a movie star. Do your own research and select the pet that suits you and your family.

Thanks to: Dog Breed Info; Dog Time.com; Wikipedia;  Pet M.D..com; Westminster Dog Show; Pixa-Bay for information on this Post.

Color and Breed Influences Cat and Dog Personalities Part 2: Cats

Introduction

When I started this project, I had no idea it would expand to two articles. But when I began to put it together, I realized I had much too much material for just one article. So, both Cats and Dogs will get equal time. Personality wise, the dogs wouldn’t care or take offense, but the cats would expect equal time as their right.

A cat’s coat color can tell us something about her personality. I didn’t just make that statement up. As early as 1872 people have tried to link certain cat colors and patterns with certain personality types. We heard such descriptions as, “Temperamental Torties,” “Placid Tabbies,” or “White Mousers.”

Today’s domestic cats descended from one small group of African wildcats, who domesticated themselves about 10,000 years ago. They were all gray tabby cats resembling today’s African Wildcats- which would indicate that this color gene is dominant and carries through from generation to generation. Feral cats in rural areas in Europe and the USA usually have the same fur patterns.

You will notice that the rise of domestication in cats started much later than in dogs. Might be one reason our sweet little furry kitties sometimes act like crazy wild things. If you are a serious cat watcher, you might also see that every cat, no matter the color, or the circumstances of their lifestyle, believes that Royal blood courses through their veins.

Cat Colorization

We are going to start with the cats that have coats of many colors: The Tortoiseshell and Calico. Torties have no white in their black, red, cream coats, while calicoes have a generous smattering of white mixed with black, red and cream. Torties and Calicoes are usually female; it is rare to find a male calico. Torties are vocal about everything. Calico’s are lively and loving. In Japan, Calico’s are thought to bring good luck.

Orange cats- are more likely to be male- about one female to every five males is the ratio. These cats are lovable, but also assertive and aggressive. These male cats can also reach a good size–about ten to fifteen or more pounds and husky in build.

Red or Ginger colored cats are sweet, sassy and unpredictable. They may have the tabby markings as well.

Gray cats are the sophisticates of the cat world-secretly they like to be let loose to let the wild side out.

Tabby -these are lovers of the good life. They can be various shades of gray and black with the true lines and circles that label them tabbies. They are good-natured and friendly.

Tuxedo cats- They are always dressed for any party occasion-Black with white vest, four white feet, and some times a little white on the face, or white whiskers.They lovable, but independent creatures. If let out, they will roam far from home.

Black cats– their personality traits are closely related to their wild ancestors. Black cats were first seen in the wild. They are unpredictable and can roam far from home.

Chocolate Cats- are intelligent, playful, friendly and vocal.

White cats– are timid cats-they are at risk of congenital deafness. In

fact, many white cats are born deaf. Some white cats are born with blue eyes, or one blue and one green eye. They may also have poor vision. For these reasons white cats are usually home body’s, electing to stay close to their owner and close to home.

 

Siamese cats– Color Point and Seal Point- These cats are usually sleek in build, with long legs. They are assertive and vocal, to the point of driving you crazy.

 

 

 

The muted colors, blue, cream, gray and lilac are usually the Persian cats. These cats are playful, mischievous,and curious. They will run from one end of the house to the other, chasing invisible prey.

 

A couple of traits that are usually consistent in all cat color variations are the eyes and the white in almost all coats. Cats usually have green eyes or yellow eyes. The exceptions are the Siamese and  the white cats with blue eyes, or one blue eye and one green eye.

As to major colors, almost all cats have some white in their coats. Most usually the white occurs around the under side of the cat and the paws. Sort of looks like each cat stood at attention while someone poured paint over their backs, and as the color ran down their sides, it left the underside white, and missed the paws.

Now after singling out these color coded cats, those of us who own cats know that there are as many color combinations as there are cats.

Cats that I have owned

I have owned a number of cats during my adult years. My first cat was a calico- female. She was a loving cat–to me. She wouldn’t tolerate anyone else.  She barely tolerated my son and my husband. The vet got the spit and yowl treatment.

My in-laws lived on a farm in the state of Kansas. Now, there are usually cats around the farm and my father-in-law’s farm was no different. There were plenty of cats around. Most stayed in the barn, to get fresh milk at milking time, and to keep the mouse population down. However, once in a while a cat ,or cats would catch my father-in-law’s eye, and they were promoted to life in the house.

One summer when we were visiting, I noticed two orange and white cats up at the house that were unusual. They had almost exact color markings.  One had a white blaze down his forehead and the other one was a boxer-that is he would stand on his hind feet and box with his front feet. I fell in love.  My in-laws let us bring them home to St. Louis. My mother-in-law said she was sending them off to college. We named the one “Blaze” and the boxer-what else?-Ali. Blaze died from a kidney problem at three; Ali lived to thirteen.

Jake came to live with me a few years later. Jake’s owner said she was allergic to him. I think she was scared of him. He weighed in at 16+pounds. He was gorgeous. All white long hair with a flowing black tail and a couple of black spots on his ears made up this cat from hell.

He had been declawed  and then let outside to fend for himself. He wanted to be petted and loved but I never knew when he would turn on me and scratch me with his hind claws. Finally, he figured out that it was just me and him and  I wasn’t afraid of him, so we settled in together. Jake lived to be 16, and I’ll never forget him.

The two cats I have now are sisters. Janie is a Tortoiseshell and Julie is a Tuxedo. I adopted them when they were about 2 years old. They are now 13. Janie is allergic to all kinds of foods that cats would normally eat. The only way she can keep food down is to take prednisolone every day. I keep a vaporizer going all day and night to keep her from sneezing her head off.

Julie is smaller than her sister, but she actually rules the household. She plays all the time and runs through the house like a maniac She also is a nurse to Janie. Julie grooms Janie every day and sleeps next to her to keep her warm. It is amazing to see the level of devotion the little tuxedo has for her ailing sister.

Conclusion

Our pets can teach us something about living from day to day and in the moment. That is what they do. Each day to them is the only day to be concerned about. Forget about yesterday and tomorrow isn’t here yet. The only day we have any control over is today. Live in the now.

I would love to hear from my readers. Let me know what you liked and what I missed.

Information for this article came from:  Cattime.com; The Thought Co.; Dog time.com; Dog Reflections, May 2008 by Dan; Pet Wellbeing; Pixabay.com.

My-Pet-Toys-and-Stuff:The Cat Litter Box and Litter

Introduction

Every indoor cat needs a box with litter in it. It is an absolute necessity. However, it is usually the very last thing a new cat owner buys. You’ve got the cat, feeding dishes, water bowl, flea collar, sleeping bed, comb, brush, food- wet and dry. You’re on your way home when suddenly you panic. You don’t have a litter box or any Litter. Well how hard can that  be? A cat box  and Litter? 

How Many Kinds Can there Be?

You stop at a pet store  and are suddenly overwhelmed by all kinds of boxes: small ones, large ones, corner boxes, boxes with lids, self-cleaning boxes, all in  variety of colors. Well, you make a selection, anything will do for now. You walk over to the Litter section and are  shocked by the number and kinds of Litter. Clumping, non-clumping, scent controlled,  low-tracking, no dust, low -dust, a variety of Litters now made from plants, and a litter that changes color so you can see whether your cat has an infection or not. You grab a bag, the cheapest, pay for your purchases and head home.

Which Box Is Best?

What kind of box to get and where do you put it in the house? These are the main questions you have to answer before you go shopping. Cats want a box that is large enough to turn around in and do some serious digging and covering. They don’t care what color it is.That is your concern.

Where will you put the box? Cats like a secluded area, away from household traffic. Also, cats need to find the box, and have an uncluttered path to it. If you put it in the basement, be sure the door is always open, or cut  a cat door in the basement door  so your cat can go through.

There are on the market, cat boxes that have covers over them, presumably to give Kitty cat privacy. I don’t think your cat cares. Some will like the cover, some will not. Personally, I don’t fiddle with the extra lids. I think it is just that, something extra. You should consider, however, a box with high sides. Some cats like to scratch a lot, and the high sides will keep the litter inside the box.  A corner box? That is personal decision. As long as the cat has full access, I doubt it will make a difference.

You want a box large enough to accommodate a fair amount of litter and give the cat room to maneuver.

What Kind of Litter?

There are many different kinds of litter, supposedly to cover many different kinds of problems. Basically, your cat just wants something to plant her business in, and proceed to hide it by covering it up .By the way, do you know why cats are so meticulous about covering? It ‘s a carry over from the wild. Cats cover, so that other cats and predators can’t track them.

You want to pick out a clumping litter, it’s easier to clean out the box and Kitty doesn’t care. Don’t buy a scented litter. Some cats will refuse to use it. And you don’t want to deal with a cat that is not happy with her litter box.

Be sure to get a low-dust litter. The dust from some litters can aggravate allergies for cats and for people.

Litter can become a big expense. And obviously, you are always throwing it out, and getting more. So do some price shopping and buy the least expensive litter that has all the additives you need, and buy in large quantities. One company even has a refill program that helps the pocket book.

You want to buy a clumping, low-dust, non-scented litter.  Scoop out the litter box every day, at least once, and completely replace litter once a week. Wash the litter box with clear warm water, dry and refill. That way, you’ll never have cat box odors in your house or apartment. You also will have a happy cat that always uses her box.

Why Cats Refuse to use Litter Box

Every year, a few cats are returned to shelters,or given up to the Humane Society, or turned out of the house because of Litter Box problems. These problems stem from misunderstandings between cat and owner, and needs to be cleared up for the good of both.

First of all,take a good look around the Litter box area. Is it kept clean? Is there anything that could upset your cat? An open window with outside noises, or a curtain flapping? Do you have another animal in the house, or small children ? These sound like crazy questions, but distractions will discourage your cat from using her box.

A stray cat outside can upset your cat inside. If everything is clean and quiet around the Litter box area, then make an appointment with the vet for a checkup for your cat. She may have a urinary infection and, in her mind, the box may be causing her the discomfort.

If that is ruled out, try a different litter. Be sure to clean the soiled area very carefully and put something over the area, so she can’t use it again. After checking all the above situations, you and your cat very likely have found the solution to the problem.

Whatever you do, don’t resort to the old punishment of grabbing the cat, rubbing her nose in the soiled area  and whipping her with your hand or a newspaper. That will only strike fear in your cat and it will do no good. She doesn’t equate the punishment with the mishap. Besides, it is cruel.

All is well

It has been about a week now since you brought home your new beautiful, furry cat, and everybody seems to be settling into a routine.Your cat knows where everything in the house is located. She has picked out her sleeping place–not the lovely cat bed you bought her–at the foot of your bed. All is well. You have a loyal pet to keep you company for a good ten or more years.

Some of you may think that this topic is a strange one to write about but everybody wants a 

healthy cat, and the whole digestive system is the secret to good health.

Tell me what you think. Would love to hear from my readers.  Barbara  

My-Pet-Toys-and-Stuff:What Makes My Cat Sneeze?

INTRO

We humans sneeze from time to time. We usually blame it on allergies, a cold, or “something in the air.” But have you ever thought about whether animals sneeze? Well, it seems they do, and often for the same reasons that we do. To discuss the sneeze problems of all animals would be a mind boggling task, so I’m narrowing the discussion down to one pet that can develop sneeze problems.

Cats and Sneezing

What makes my cat sneeze? You’ve taken your cat to the veterinarian because your cat sneezes from time to time, and you are worried that your cat might have a cold or something worse. The vet checks her over, asks you a bunch of questions, and makes a diagnosis based on the information he has obtained from you and the cat.”Nothing serious,”he says.” She probably has a mild allergy to dust, cigarette smoke, or something else in the air.”

“Cats sneeze randomly, depending upon what is in the air. Occasional sneezing with no discharge, is nothing to worry about,” concluded the Vet.

Meet Janie

Eleven years ago, I adopted two sister cats Janie, a Tortoise Shell, and Julie, a Tuxedo. They were estimated to be around two years old. If that is right, that makes them thirteen now. I asked my vet recently, how old they were in people years and she said they were maybe around 75.

We’re going to leave Julie for now and concentrate on Janie. Janie is a sneezer. I have counted up to 19 sneezes, in rapid succession, in one of her episodes. She can have up to half a dozen of these episodes in a day. Then comes another bout.

I’ve about given up on finding the cause. She has had clear discharges sometimes, and on other episodes, what I call, indelicately, a snotty nose.We have tried several medicines to no avail. Since I suffer from sinusitis, I decided to try a humidifier. Amazing! My head stays clear, and Janie’s sneezing has nearly stopped. I should report that on these sneezing episodes, there never seemed to be a common cause. Sometimes she would be eating, other times she would wake up sneezing.

Various causes of Sneezing, natural or man-made

1. A tiny bit of dust or an irritant from a chemical can cause an occasional sneeze.

2. A respiratory infection–most often caused by a virus, most often a viral infection- can cause a common cold.

Other virus infections such as herpes virus, and others and

Bacterial infections may be accompanied by a cough and a discharge from the eyes.

3. Chemical irritants- from various solvents can cause inflammation of the membranes inside the nose

and the sinuses. A sneeze, or several, is the body’s way of getting rid of the irritant.

Some cats are sensitive to tobacco smoke, some perfumes, or chemicals used around the house as cleaning agents. You may have to become a sleuth to find out just what is causing all the sneezing. Some cats are allergic to the chemicals used in cat litter. You may have to change litter several times to find which litter your cat can tolerate. Your best bet is to use litter that has no additives. Frequent sneezes-one after another-as well as sudden bouts of sneezing- may be a signal that your cat is allergic to something or several things.

Outside Allergies

You don’t let your cat outside do you? You shouldn’t. There are so many things in the out of doors that are harmful to cats, and may shorten their lives. If you want to make sure she gets fresh air every day-keep a window open -make sure the window is tightly screened.

A screened -in porch is ideal for your cat. If you have an open porch or patio, get a large screened -in run for your cat, so she can enjoy the out-of-doors and still be safe. You will still have to monitor her activity, because cats can climb screens, or figure a way to get free from the enclosure.

Some cats are allergic to flea bites, and the powders that you may use to rid her of fleas. Certain grasses and pollen in the air can cause a sudden fit of sneezing. If your cat is in contact with the out of doors and she starts sneezing, she may be allergic to the outside pollen.

Other problems that can cause cats to sneeze

Cats can become infected with the herpes virus. Many kittens come into this world with the virus, having been infected by their mothers.during the birth cycle. Cats can also get the viral infection from other cats. It is also true that many cats carry the herpes virus all their lives and never have an infectious outbreak. Stress can trigger the virus.

One very important point I need to make about the herpes virus cats may carry: human beings cannot be infected by any cat that carries the virus. The cat virus is completely different from the human virus. Once again: You can’t get herpes from a cat.

When to take your cat to the vet

If your cat is a sneezer, watch her and if she exhibits the following symptoms it’s time to take her to the vet:

Runny eyes; a cough; fever; lethargic; green/yellow nose discharge;no appetite.

It your cat sits on her haunches, in a little ball with her fur spiked, it’s a sure sign she is not feeling well.

Final thoughts

Cat breeds that have “pushed in” faces, like the beautiful Persian may have more respiratory problems than other breeds.

If you find that your cat has allergies, but you are not sure exactly what she is allergic to, there are some things you can do to make her life – and yours- easier. Clean your house or apartment thoroughly; change to a low dust, no additive litter; and use a vaporizer or humidifier. Also, if you smoke, you may want to stop, it will be healthier for both of you. Finally, don’t use heavy perfumes and high-powered cleaning supplies.

Information for this article came from: Pet Health Network, Mike Paul, DVM; Leo’s Pet Care Indianapolis Blog, and my cat, Janie, chronic sneezer.

I would like to hear from my readers. Please e-mail me, and tell me what I missed, or if you liked the article.