Understanding a cat’s body Language

Intro

My last post concentrated on the sounds and voices that cats use to communicate with each other and their humans. After finishing that post, I decided that I needed to go further and point out actual body language that cats use in conjunction with their voices.

Cats are complex creatures. There is nothing simple about cats. That most likely comes from cats being meat eaters and therefore predators by  Continue reading “Understanding a cat’s body Language”

Why Do Cats Act Weird?

INTRO: Why do cats act weird?

Fill my bowl, please

If you own a cat, and happen to have a friend that also owns a cat, the two of you may often start a conversation about the crazy things your cat does.

When human beings progressed to the point of raising animals for meat, fur and hides; they also discovered that dogs made good herding animals.

Humans also found that dogs would stay with them for food and a place to get in out of the weather. They discovered that dogs could be trained to herd animals and bark to warn for predators. Dogs could even be taught to attack certain animals and not others. Continue reading “Why Do Cats Act Weird?”

How to train dogs and cats to get along

How many families own both a cat and a dog?

Americans appear to be pet loving creatures. According to a recent Harris Poll, 62% of households own at least one pet. Of those households, 69% owned a dog and 51 % owned a cat. Yahoo reported that generally 2 out of 5 households owned both a cat and a dog. Continue reading “How to train dogs and cats to get along”

Choosing the Right Food for your Cat

Introduction

It’s rather easy to obtain a pet. Sometimes a cat or a dog will simply show up at your doorstep. And you, being a soft touch for those big begging eyes, open the door and let the creature in–to your house and your heart.

The other way to obtain a pet is to first decide what you want — cat or dog– and then go looking at the local shelters for that certain creature that will share your living space for ten to 15 years.

That is where I found my two cats. They are litter mates and I adopted them in 2007. They were about two years old and according to the shelter people their owner could no longer care for them. We went home and began the process of settling in.

Julie, a tuxedo(Black and white), ate whatever came her way, and turned the hallway between living room and bedroom into a runway. Janie, a tortoise shell was a willing accomplice to whatever Julie decided to get into.

It wasn’t long until I realized that Janie had food problems.

Julie and Janie in my big chair

She literally could not digest most food I set out for her. That bit of knowledge started a thirteen year battle with food–what could she eat ? what would she keep down? I have read dozens of food labels, numerous articles on food; we have visited vets, studied food allergies.etc.

I found out so much about cat foods, the best ingredients, raw foods, home cooked foods, specialty foods, cheap foods, expensive foods, brand name foods.  There are certain ingredients in foods that cats need for good health, good coats and long life. I began to realize that choosing the right food for your cat, and my cat, is more than price and advertising.

Choosing the right food for your cat- meat eaters

Simply put, cats are carnivores, more to the point, obligate carnivores-that is meat eaters. Originally, cats were tolerated  around the farm and in the barns because they were death to the mice.  Cats could live on small rodents and birds as their sole food before humans began to invent such things as mouse traps and poisons to kill rodents.

Years ago. I remember walking by the isles of foods with my mother and there was one all purpose food for cats and dogs labled Ideal dog and cat food. Mother bought several cans every week for our cat and dog.  A daily treat was milk. In addition, the pets got trimmings off chicken and beefs cuts.

Today, the dog and cat sections are separate, with all kinds of branded foods. Foods  of all kinds and flavors designed to take care of any and all kinds of special problems that your cat might have. We have all spent so much time time reading labels, so as to be sure we are getting the right thing for our beloved pet.

Reading labels-Selecting Brands

There are so many brand labels that it takes an expert to choose the right food for your cat. It takes a while to figure out what is inside the can. Two label sections that must be read carefully in order to learn what is inside the mystery can are the Ingredients and Guaranteed analysis.

Labels and ingredients on food cans

Ingredients:   Lists water, meats, veggies, vitamins and minerals in each serving. Ingredients are listed in reverse order of amount in each can. For instance, if water is listed first, then water(sufficient for processing) is the largest ingredient, then next largest amount is pork,then chicken,etc all the way down to supplements to trace minerals.

Guaranteed Analysis: lists protein, fat, fiber, moisture, ash, and other items depending upon what category the prepared food is designed for such as weight management, sensitive skin, digestive system, urinary tract, etc.

Somewhere on the label you should find that this food meets nutritional standards of AAFCO cat food nutrient profile. You will also find the manufacturer’s name and address. Look them up online for more details.

When shopping for cat food, protein should be the highest percentage. Fiber and fat should be lesser percentages and ash should be small percentage such as 1 to 2.5, 2.8% or at most 3.2 %. It is believed that  a smaller percentage of ash is better for keeping the urinary tract healthy.

If your kitty is a healthy, happy cat, that plays a lot, eats well, and gets a good health review from her vet, you should not have too much difficulty finding good healthy food for your furry buddy.  Grocery stores usually carry two or three brand name canned and dry foods.

You can usually find, for a moderate price, Friskies, Purina, Blue Buffalo, and other brands in your grocery stores. You have the information on the labels to help you select good food for your cat. You will also have the choice of dry or canned food.

Your cat may have a preference.   A lot of working people like the convenience of dry food. It can be left out all day and your cat can eat at will. Be sure you have a water bowl close by. Cats need to drink lots of water with dry food.

Pet stores carry more brands of cat food than all purpose grocery stores. Some carry their own brand which is a little less expensive than specialty brands. You will find a full line of Purina, Blue Buffalo, Hills, Royal Canin, and several others.

Of all the  brands you will find, my preference are the brands I have mentioned. I have always been able to find good nutritional food that my cats like with these brands.

But what about Janie and her special food problem?

Specialty Foods, Prescription Diet Foods

Choosing the right foods for my cat turned out to be a life-long search. I had an excellent Veterinary service in my town, and we went through numerous tests and trials of different foods. Nothing stayed down. It got to the point that I wanted to scream when I heard that retching sound that came shortly after she ate.

She was losing weight. Through tests we eliminated everything but the possibility of IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease). Finally the vet suggested that we do an Endoscopy to see if anything was growing in the digestive area or a malfunction.

I left her overnight and came back for her the next afternoon. By process of elimination, the diagnosis was IBD. The vet suggested Hill’s prescription diet food.

I have to tell you, Janie is a fighter. She is a normal sized adult female cat with a normal weight of 8 to 10 pounds. She weighed just a lttle over 4 pounds when I took her home after her endoscopy. I made a bed for her on the foot of my bed. She stayed there for 3 days-only getting down to go use the litter box- then back up to the bed.

Hill’s Prescription Diet didn’t help and I decided I needed a different Vet with some different solutions.I found a Holistic vet that uses both natural remedies with latest trends.

First we did a check of food allergies-found out Janie was allergic to almost all foods normal cats eat! Beef, Duck,Lamb, potatoes, milk, oats, plus some additional items with very small allergic reactions. She wasn’t allergic to eggs, fish,chicken, turkey, rice, venison, peas.

That’s when I learned to read ingredients. The surprise for me was how many processed cat foods have potatoes as a base that holds foods together. We put her on venison- in fact Julie ate venison too- for a long time and Janie gained her normal weight back (10 lbs). I no longer heard that awful retching sound.

Janie did well for several years with Venison and other “wild” meats that I could get through my Veterinarian. We also had her on a probiotic and an Omega-3 fish oil. She began to build up an intolerance to the food that had worked so well and she was back to being unable to hold anything down.

By now Janie was 10 or 11 years old. My vet put her on prednisolone.

Janie curled around her water bowl

That is where she is today. The only thing that keeps her from vomiting everything she eats is the prednisolone. She is 15.

Choosing the right food for your cat- many choices for many situations

Some owners today want to tailor their pet’s diet for special nutritional needs:breed, size, health conditions and other defining traits. Personalized pet food is beginning to emerge as the latest trend in specialized diets.Big-brand names are looking at developing foods that address certain diseases that haven’t been included before.

Special grain-friendly foods are being developed to minimize allergies  and skin disorders. The food industry is also looking at special food formulas that will calm anxiety issues.

There is no end to specialized foods that are tailored for life stages and genetics.There are also plenty of dry foods available for pets , but some  owners are opting for fresh,human grade diets.

Most of these personalized food choices are for dogs at this point, but the demand for similar specialties for cats is in the wings. One company  —Smalls, out of New York,is offering fresh, freeze-dried,and kibble cat food subscriptions.

As long as we have cute little kittens and puppies that are looking for a home and people who fall in love with these adorable little fur balls, we will have companies working on foods that will appeal to the palates of these delightful babies, and also appeal to their owners.

I hope that the information in this article is helpful for people who have pets with dietary problems, as well as pets who just like to eat and entertain their owners. Keep reading those labels.

I’m Barbara Nelson and I would love to hear from my readers, Janie and Julie would love to hear from you, too.

Dog and Cat Years Compared to Human Years

Pet Care Trends

How old is your cat or dog, really?

When people start talking about their pets, the topic usually gets around to deciding how old your pet is based upon your age.  Inevitably someone will come up with the age old answer,”Well they say that a dog ages about 7 years for every one of people years.” Then everybody begins to calculate how old “Fido” is  by multiplying his real years by seven. Read more: Continue reading “Dog and Cat Years Compared to Human Years”

Relief for Pets with Arthritis

Cats and Dogs and Arthritis

If you suffer from arthritis, and most of us dodo, who have reached the grand old age of 45 and up,  find it hard to believe that our beloved pets either have or will have some form of arthritis.

Case in point: I have two cats, both around 14 or 15. Both are females, both are spayed and so have never had a litter of kittens. Both have lived indoors in the very lap (mine) of luxury. One of them is crippled with arthritis in the spine and hind legs; the other one has a touch of arthritis in a front leg. Continue reading “Relief for Pets with Arthritis”

Litter and Litter Boxes–A Review

General overview

If you have a cat, you have a  litter box(es) with litter in it(them).  There are as many litter boxes and kinds of litter as there are cats–or it seems that way. Walk into any  full size pet store and you will find a full wall of litter products and varieties of boxes to hold the litter.

Store litter section

If you have one cat, you will certainly have one litter box, or perhaps two, if you listen to the experts. Experts say that for every cat in the household, you should have one litter box per cat plus one. Translation: If you have 2 cats, you should have 3 boxes. Realistically: one cat, one box; two cats, two boxes etc.

A Review of Litter Boxes

Since there are not quite as many box designs as there are litter varieties, I am going to  review boxes first. Go into any pet store and you will find:

  •   Self-cleaning boxes that drop down the solids for easy extraction
  • Throw away boxes made of a heavy cardboard that can be discarded with the litter – designed for a short term stay
  • Plastic boxes designed for corner areas
  • Small boxes with low sides- designed for small areas- and small kitties.
  • Boxes with high sides-designed to keep litter in the box and not on the floor outside the box
  • High sided boxes with low cut entrance for easy access by kitty
  • Robot boxes  that you apparently never have to touch
  •  Closed top boxes for Kitty privacy

Prices run any where from $10 to $40. A lot depends on where you intend to put the box and how much you feel like spending. Remember it needs to be scooped at least once a day. The box needs to be completely cleaned once a week– that is– old litter dumped, box washed out with plain water, dried and refilled with fresh litter.

Unless you are totally into the latest high tech items on the market, I recommend keeping things simple. Your cat wants a place to go when nature demands it. If you have a large cat(10+lbs.) get a large box–regular rectangular, or high- sided( if your cat is young and agile and you don’t want to sweep litter everyday). Remember, one cat-one litter box; two cats- two litter boxes.

Litter box station

Litter boxes should be placed well away from the feeding area and in a low traffic area. Cats like privacy. If you live in a small, one-bedroom apartment as I do with no enclosed porch, your bathroom becomes the cats’ bathroom as well.

A review of what goes in the box

Again, I’m going to list the kinds of litter, by that I mean, the additives that go into the litter for review.  But first a little history.  Before World War II, most cats were outside animals, mostly because of the bathroom situation.

Cats traditionally dig a hole in loose sand or dirt, do their business and then cover it up. It’s tidy, but not for indoor living. People who really wanted to keep their cats indoors were relegated to using sand or dirt and ashes.  This led to an everyday major cleaning job.

An enterprising gentleman by the name of Ed Lowe was introducing  “Fullers Earth” or Kiln dried clay to people with chickens  and wondered if it would answer the cat problem. In 1947 he filled 5 lb. sacks with his clay and marked it “Kitty Litter “and charged 69 cents.

It sold. That was the beginning of the company Tidy Cat. Many companies with special reasons why you should buy their litter have come on the market since then.

Besides clay litter, there are other products on the market for Kitty’s use: wheat litter, wood chips litter, that all tout a cleaner way to take care of your cat’s bathroom chores.

The first litter was just that: litter. No additives, no clumping, no deodorant. Just plain litter. You put it in a pan and set it on the floor, in a corner. You could scoop out the solids, but you stirred the rest to let the litter dry out.

When the smell got to be too much, you took the pan outside and dumped the smelly litter somewhere in the weeds or in the bushes.

Then someone invented a way to make litter clump. When the cat urinates in the litter box an additive causes the wet litter to clump into a firm ball. It’s a simple non odorous way to scoop up the clump and the solids and toss into the garbage.

Kinds of Litter

  • Non -clumping Litter
  • Clumping Litter
  • Flushable Litter

Clumping litter is the most popular type of litter, so I’m saving that to explore last.

Non-Clumping Litter is usually clay with no clumping additive.  It can also be made with paper, pine sawdust, even grass. The trouble with non-clumping litter is that urine can pool under the litter  and cause a bad smell.

Litter can also be made from crystals that change color if your cat has a kidney or bladder infection.  For cats prone to this problem, a litter that can give you an early signal that something is wrong, is worth using.

Flushable Litter is a great environmentally friendly choice. Flushable litters are made from corn, wood, or wheat, or walnut shells. When your cat uses the litter box, just flush the mess down the toilet and forget it.

Clumping Litters are probably most used. Litter is mostly made of clay, but can be made of wheat or walnut -shells. You have a large list of additives to choose from:

  • Dust-free
  • Scent-free
  • odor-free
  • Hypo-allergenic
  • fresh scent
  • Multi-cat
  • Lightweight
  • Ultra attractant

Some of these are self explanatory. We will talk about those in a minute. Some may not be so clear. Most cats know what a litter box is and how and when to use it. Some cats have a little trouble learning to use a litter box so some litters have an attractant ( a smell that tells them this is the place).

If you are having trouble litter-box training your kitten, you will definitely want a litter with an Ultra Attractant added .

Some companies have come up with a litter that will clump better, be more odor free and whatever else you want a litter to do when there are several cats in the house. These are labeled Multi-Cat.

Lightweight--Let’s face it, litter is heavy, so at least one company has come up with a lightweight version of  a ten or 15 lb. container of litter. Supposed to work as well as the heavyweight kind. You might use more, which means that you might be buying it more often.

Cats are peculiar about scents. Some will accept a scent added to the litter, others will absolutely not. You will have to work that out with the cat.

Litter Recommendations for Cat Households

The cost of a container of litter varies, depending on what you want the litter to do. Clay litters are less expensive than the environmentally friendly ones. Containers come in a variety of sizes: 10, 12, 15, 20 lbs.

I recommend that you get a dust-free, good clumping, scent-free litter.  That is the minimum that you will want to use for your cats.

Store Refill Station

There is one other choice of a dust-free, clumping, scent-free litter that is easy on the pocketbook and it is offered at a well-known pet chain. All you have to do is to return to the store with your container and refill it. You can buy a 16lb or 32lb container of litter. You get a dollar off for a refill. You can do this as long as you have cats. I currently pay $6 for a 16lb container once a week. I have two cats.

Scent-free, dust-free and good clumping litter is good for most cat households. I recommend a litter with these three  components, nothing less, to be the necessary elements to look for in any litter. Other additives will depend on any special needs you may have for your household.

Thanks for stopping by. Please let me know what you think of my litter review. Leave your comments below. Barbara Nelson

————————————————-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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”