Tag Archive for cat

Black Cats Need Your Help

Handsome house panther, George
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August 17, Black Cat Appreciation Day, is just one of several days designated to bring awareness to the plight of black cats and I am grateful for all of them. Black cats are often overlooked in shelters and rescues and many more of them are euthenized than other colors.

There are some theories about why this is:

  • People think they are unlucky
  • They are hard to photograph
  • They are not as flashy
  • They disappear into the background

The truth is, black cats are awesome. I can’t say with any certainty that it has anything to do with color but, in a group of cats of many colors, it is quite often the black ones who are the most outgoing and affectionate. I’ve only had one black cat in recent times and I can say with certainty that he was very special.

Black cats need your help - my black cat Topper

My Topper

 

As a foster for many years and now as a pet sitter, I have met many black cats. Here are two of my current favorites.

 

This is George. He is handsome and smart. I love the way he sits in the kitchen by the treat drawer when he thinks it is time for me to give him some.

My favorite panther.

A photo posted by Savvy Pet Care (@savvypetcare) on

 

How You Can Help Black Cats

You can help black cats everywhere by sharing them every day. Share this post, and all other positive posts you see about black cats, on social media. Share your own black cat stories to tell people how awesome they are. Find creative ways to help local shelters and rescues promote their black kitties. Adopt a black cat!

Remember, though, the only way to really solve the pet over-population problem is to promote spay/neuter!

BP_Wordless_wed_Hop_Logo_2014


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Pet Peeve: Pet Does Not Mean Dog

Pet Peeve: Pet Does Not Mean Dog
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Do you have pet peeves? I don’t really have anything I would call a pet peeve because if something bothers me, I try to ignore it and move on. No point in wasting energy on something I probably can’t change. However, lately, one thing is becoming a “pet” peeve for me and that thing is the way people use the word pet when they really mean dog.

Pet Peeve: Pet Does Not Mean DogDon’t get me wrong. I love dogs. I have had many over the years and am a sucker for every dog or puppy I meet. I just don’t currently have one. For me, cats fit my current lifestyle better and that’s what brings me to my pet peeve.

I recently attended the BlogPaws pet blogging conference in Chandler, AZ. I wanted to take my cat, Christy Paws (who is the star of her own blog) with me. I wanted to take her last year when the conference was in Nashville but it just didn’t work out. This year, a photo on her blog was nominated for a Nose-to-Nose Award so I thought it would be especially fun to have her there.

I decided to drive for a couple of reasons, but the main one was that I wanted to stop in Orange County to take care of some business and visit some friends. I decided to stay there two nights in each direction.

What Does Pet Friendly Mean?

I started looking for a pet friendly hotel through gopetfriendly.com. Sounds easy, right? Well, it should be. Their website is packed full of info with a great listing of hotels.

I started calling hotels in the area where I wanted to stay. Go Pet Friendly says pet policies change so to confirm with each hotel.

That’s when the fun began and this pet peeve began taking shape. One after one, even though they claimed to be “pet” friendly, said they do not accept cats. In fact, the only “pets” they accept are dogs. Then why don’t you say you are dog friendly and save those of us with other pets some phone calls? One even went so far as to say they only accept service dogs. Um, excuse me, that’s the law, that’s not even dog friendly.

Have you seen the Trivago ad about the pet friendly hotel and the rabbit convention? That really hit home for me that there are other traveling pets out there.

Pet Peeve: Just what does pet friendly mean?After a few frustrating phone calls to hotels, I contacted a friend who often travels with her cat, and asked her for a recommendation. I called both Red Roof Inn and La Quinta Inns and Suites. I wasn’t happy with the customer service from Red Roof Inn’s general manager so decided on La Quinta Inns and Suites in Santa Ana. They were over the top friendly, helpful and welcoming to all pets.

My Pet Peeve

This trend of pet means dog isn’t limited to pet friendly hotels. I’ve seen pet photo contests that were just for dogs, pet food that is dog food, and pet product suppliers that only have things for dogs.

So, my pet peeve is this: When did pet become synonymous for dog? If you look up synonyms for dog, pet is not one of them. A pet is any domestic or tamed animal or bird that is kept for companionship or pleasure — not just dogs. Using pet when you mean dog can be frustrating and confusing to pet parents of pets other than dogs. It’s OK to say dog when you mean dog.

If you own cats or other pets, have you experienced this? Am I the only one who has noticed or is frustrated by it?


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Is Lavender Toxic to Cats?

I wanted to know, is lavender toxic to cats? If it is classed as toxic to cats, what exactly does that mean? Is lavender safe to use around my cats?
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I love lavender. I love the flowers, the scent, the color. I love everything about lavender, so imagine my delight when I recently won a gift bag full of lavender scented items. There was a lovely reed diffuser, body wash, moisturizer, even some laundry detergent.

Then someone said, “I hope you don’t have cats!” Oh, but I do. I have three cats. Then I had a little flicker in the back of my mind that reminded me I heard recently lavender is toxic to cats. So I put all those treasures away and didn’t think much more about them.

Then I also remembered that I have been using lavender scented air fresheners around my cats for years. What harm might I have done?

Is lavender toxic to cats? flowers, lavender and titleIs Lavender Toxic to Cats?

The end of June, I went to the BlogPaws pet blogging conference in Chandler, Arizona. BlogPaws and the Cat Writers’ Association joined forces this year to make the conference doubly awesome. We received swag bags loaded with lots of terrific items provided by the sponsors and vendors.

Over the weekend, I finally had some time to thoroughly go through the bags to see what was in them. I needed to decide what Christy Paws would give away on her blog for her birthday/gotcha day celebration.

One of the items included was a calming collar from Sentry. And there, right on the top, it said lavender and chamomile fragrance. Sentry is part of Sergeant’s Pet Care Products and I know Sergeant’s has had issues with their flea medications so immediately a red flag went up. I knew I had to do some research on lavender. I wanted to know, is lavender toxic to cats and if so, what exactly does that mean?

What Exactly Does Toxic Mean?

As with many things on the internet, you’ll find many opinions. I wasn’t interested in opinions. I wanted some facts. Even the ASPCA lists lavender as toxic to cats so there must be some merit to the claim. (When I look at the list of plants toxic to cats, I wonder how they ever survived!) So, the first thing I wanted to know is, what exactly does toxic mean?

Webster’s Dictionary defines toxic as “containing or being poisonous material especially when capable of causing death or serious debilitation.” Is this really true of lavender? Could it kill my cat? Some seem to say yes, don’t let it anywhere near your cat. It will destroy it’s liver. On the other end of the spectrum, an article in Catster says it is safe for your cats to eat.

Does a Plant Have to be Deadly to be Classified as Toxic?

This is where the confusion and varying opinions come in to play. The answer is a resounding NO! Plants don’t have to be deadly to be classified as toxic. Toxic can mean anything from a little will kill to a whole lot will cause an upset stomach. A “toxic plant” list tells you nothing about how much is dangerous.

Lavender falls into the “a whole lot will cause an upset stomach” category. Ingesting the plant or flowers may cause a mild GI upset with nausea and vomiting, according to the ASPCA. Moderation is the key and I think most cats are good at the moderation part on their own.

Can I use

What About Lavender Lotions and Diffusers?

But back to my goodies. I wasn’t planning on feeding lavender to my cats. I don’t even have a lavender plant. I want to use my room deodorizers and reed diffuser. I want to wear the lavender scented lotion. What about those? And what about that calming collar?

Dr. Melissa Shelton, who has pioneered the use of essential oils to treat animals, has used lavender (and other oils) in diffusers for years. When she first started, she watched her kitties closely and did lots of blood work to make sure they were healthy. She continued to monitor them to make sure no abnormalities were developing. Based on this and her observation of her cats’ behavior, she went on to explore further the use of essential oils for cats.

diffuserI feel pretty comfortable that my reed diffuser is fine to use around my cats. Of course, I have made sure they can’t get to it where they might ingest the oil and they can leave the room to get away from it.

If my cats don’t like the way something I have used smells, they let me know by moving away from me or it. It is unlikely that any hand or body lotion would contain enough lavender to create any kind of a problem but, to be safe, some recommend you wait until it is completely absorbed before touching your cat. I do that with any lotion anyway.

And as for that calming collar, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, research has confirmed that lavender produces slight calming, soothing, and sedative effects when its scent is inhaled. Sentry says their collar uses “a pheromone that mimics the one mother cats produce to calm their kittens, the collars are clinically proven to reduce or eliminate stress-related behavior such as inappropriate marking, destructive behavior, clawing and anti-social behavior. Collars help alleviate problem behaviors triggered by travel, thunderstorms, fireworks and new social situations.”

The collar ingredients state pheromones (squalene) 6% and inert ingredients of 94%. There’s no mention of the lavender or chamomile so I called the company. They should be getting back to me in a day or two and I will update this post.

Once I hear from them, I might give the collar a try the next time I take Christy in the car. She doesn’t hate the car anymore but she sure doesn’t love it! If the collar could help her be more comfortable, that would be a good thing.

Please note that this post is about LAVENDER. There are other herbs, plants and oils that are detrimental and even deadly to cats. But remember, when you read that something is toxic, you really need more information than that.

Lavender bunch and oil

Why the Concern Over Essential Oils?

Treating cats with essential oils is a totally different subject for another post, but I wanted to address, without going into detail, what the concern over essential oils is.

Essential oils are 500-2,000 times stronger than the flower or plant from which they came. A cat’s liver lacks the enzymes necessary to break down and excrete certain chemicals in many essential oils as well as other substances, like aspirin, and these chemicals can build up to a lethal level.

I want to leave you with this list from Optimum Choices of oils to definitely avoid around cats.

Lemon Lime
Orange Bergamot
Tangerine Pine
Mandarin Spruce
Grapefruit Fir
Cassia (cinnamon) Thyme
Clove Savory
Oregano

I’d love to know about your experiences with lavender. Do you use it around your cats? Do you use essential oils?

 

References:

ASPCA – Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Lavender
Toxic Plants- What Does That Really Mean
University of Maryland Medical Center: Lavender
Is Lavender Poisonous to Cats?
Pet Aromatherapy And Essential Oils: What You Need To Know
JustAnswer.com Cat Veterinary
Forget Everything Bad You’ve Ever Been Told About Essential Oils for Pets

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Tabby Cats to be Celebrated on National Tabby Day

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When I heard about the first ever National Tabby Day, I knew I had to participate. A few years ago, I wrote a post called The Glorious Tabby Cat. That post continues to be my most popular post of all time so I know there are lots of people out there who love tabby cats.

National Tabby Day celebrating tabby cats - April 30th is the first National Tabby Day, a day designated to celebrate tabby cats. It was motivated by a book release and adoption event in Manhattan.

As you probably know, tabby cats are not a breed. Tabby is a coat pattern and comes in several variations. Tabbies originated from the African wild cat which has similar markings that are excellent camouflage. You can read the above post to learn more about tabby patterns, personality and myths.

Famous tabbies include Morris the Cat, spokescat for 9Lives; Garfield; Lil Bub; and Thomas O’ Malley, the tabby in the Disney movie The Aristocats. Maybe Buffy the Cat will join this list!

April 30th this year has been designated to celebrate these much-loved cats. The event was motivated by the release of the book Making the Most of all Nine Lives: The Extraordinary Life of Buffy the Cat. Buffy, of course, is a tabby cat. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, Bideawee, and Triumph Books will celebrate the day with a cat adoption event and book signing by author, Sandy Robins, at Bideawee Animal Shelter in Manhattan.

National-Tabby-Day celebrating tabby cats

Today is also National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day so it is a perfect day for the festivities. I hope they have a very successful event and lots of kitties find their forever homes.

Do you have a tabby cat? I have one tabby and two others with some tabby markings. Will you be celebrating National Tabby Day? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

#NationalTabbyDay

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How to Prevent Cat Hairballs

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If you have had a cat for any length of time, you have most likely experienced it. You are sound asleep when you are jolted awake by the sound of your cat hacking, gagging and retching. You know when you turn on the light you will be greeted by the sight of a hairball.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Hairballs, how to prevent them. Close up of cat's tongue licking paw

The tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach

Hairballs are the by-product of your cat doing what it does naturally – grooming. When cats groom, the tiny backward-slanted projections on their rough tongue send the hair down their throat into their stomach. Most of the hair passes undigested through the digestive tract in the feces, but some stays behind in the stomach and eventually forms a hairball.

An occasional hairball, once every week or two, is nothing to worry about. If your cat is refusing to eat, lethargic or has repeated episodes of unproductive retching, you should consult your veterinarian as these could be signs of something more serious.

Hairballs, a by-product of what your cat does naturally. When they groom, they ingest loose hair. Click To Tweet
Ocean grooming Echo

Some cats, like Ocean, feel the need to groom every cat in the house, making them even more susceptible to hairballs

The Best Ways to Prevent or Reduce Hairballs in Cats

Make Sure Your Cat is Getting Enough Moisture

If your cat is eating an all-dry diet, she is not getting enough water. Since cats get most of their water from their food, your cat is living in a constant state of dehydration and her digestive system is working harder than it should to process all that dry stuff. Her GI tract is less able to move the fur and other debris through than a well-hydrated cat. Consider feeding your cat a more species appropriate diet.

Add Omega-3s to Your Cat’s Diet

Essential fatty acids, especially omega-3s, is a commonly seen nutritional deficiency in cats. Commercial pet food often provides more omega-6 than they need and not enough omega-3. A healty balance of fatty acids will not only improve your cat’s coat and skin, but it will help her digestive system deal with the hair and other debris she swallows. Krill oil is the optimum source of omega-3.

Brush Your Cats OftenHairballs, how to prevent them. Photo of cat grooming.

Removing the hair before it is ingested is the best prevention of hairballs. Brush your cats at least once a week and more during shedding season, even daily. The more you brush the less time it will take each time making it more tolerable for your cat. Some cats are not fond of brushing. As with most things, the younger you start brushing your cat the better. If you have a long-haired cat, tangles can be an issue but if you brush often, these should be eliminated.

I have three cats and each takes to brushing differently. Ocean tolerates it but swishes his tail the entire time. Christy enjoys it and lays patiently while I maneuver her around to get the best angles. Echo, when he sees me brushing one of the others, comes and begs me to brush him and tries to take over the grooming spot.

The added benefit of brushing, besides preventing hairballs, is that you will have less hair floating around your house to vacuum up. Speaking of vacuuming, be sure to keep string, thread, and other materials off the floor that could become dangerous if swallowed and entwined in a hairball. I have to be especially careful of this with Echo — he is a string chewer.

Choosing a Brush or Comb

There are many types of brushes and combs on the market. You should use whatever works best for you and your cat. Some prefer one over the other. Combing is more efficient at removing loose hair but brushing is usually more soothing. When you are finished brushing or combing, rub a damp paper towel over your cat to pick up any remaining loose hair.

What I Use

When I discovered FURminator deShedding Tools a few years ago, I got rid of all my other combs and brushes. I had heard how great they were but the price kept me from getting one for a long time. I wondered if they were really worth it. I finally got one on sale and haven’t used anything else since.

FURminator claims to reduce shedding by 90% and I believe it. Your cat ingests less hair, reducing the chance of hairballs significantly. It also stimulates your pet’s natural oil production, which protects the skin and promotes healthy, shiny coats. And less loose hair means a reduction in airborne allergens.

National Hairball Awareness DayTo celebrate Hairball Awareness Day on April 29th, I’m hosting a giveaway for a FURminator. I have not been compensated for this post in any way. I just love FURminator and want to share one with one of my readers. The FURminator in the giveaway is designated for long hair; however, I have both long and short-haired cats and use the long-haired version on both. It works great!

The giveaway will end May 2, 2016 at 12:00 am. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only who are 18+ years old. The winner will be contacted by email to confirm shipping address. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen. Good luck!

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If you can’t wait to see if you win, you can purchase a FURminator now!


 

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Does Your Pet Have a Protein Intolerance?

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When I first started feeding my cats a homemade raw diet, I used Dr. Lisa Pierson’s chicken recipe from catinfo.org. Once I had my grinder, the recipe was pretty easy, especially the more I made it.

This website doesn’t talk about rotating proteins so my cats ate chicken for probably three years or more. Even though I thought about giving them something different for variety, I didn’t have any other recipes and didn’t know how to make sure another protein was properly balanced.

Avoid a Protein Intolerance

As I did more research on raw feeding, I learned that feeding theTitle image - Protein Intolerance: How to Avoid It - photo of raw chicken in a bowl same protein over and over can cause allergies or at least an intolerance to that protein. So, several months ago, I started rotating their proteins.

Now, my cats eat a way better variety of meat than I do. Some of them I’d love to have for myself but they aren’t available or are too expensive. They have had rabbit, venison, turkey, duck, pork, bison and beef. I buy rabbit, duck, venison and bison from my local raw food supplier, Excel K9. I buy frozen ground turkey in bulk (5 lbs.) at the grocery store. I buy large, whole beef or pork roasts and grind them myself.

Shortly before I started rotating proteins, Christy started throwing up several times a week but I didn’t think that much of it. She’s the reason I started feeding raw since she has always had a sensitive digestive system. I didn’t give it anymore thought since she stopped when I changed her food and all seemed well.

When it was time for chicken again, I made my usual batch. Right away, Christy started throwing up again, this time pretty much every meal. I conducted a little test. I gave her canned tuna and it stayed down. I gave her pork and it stayed down. Another meal of chicken and up it came. This could all be coincidence but it seems she has probably developed an intolerance. And, of course, I have 40 pounds of chicken thighs in my freezer! That’s okay, though. No more chicken for Christy. At least not for a long time.

I want to make it clear that this is not just a raw food issue. Feeding the same protein over and over in any form; canned, dry or raw, can cause allergies or an intolerance. It is important to rotate the proteins and even the brands in your pets diet.

Have you had an experience with a protein intolerance or allergy? How have you dealt with it?


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Feline Chin Acne: Does Your Cat Have It?

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As a foster for hundreds of cats and kittens over a period of more than five years, I learned a great deal about a lot of diseases and ailments. One I had not heard of prior to fostering was feline chin acne.

I was fostering my now adopted cat, Ocean, who was frequently scratching at his chin. When I looked closely, it seemed very dirty so I tried to clean it with a wet paper towel. I thought it was dried on food. A few specks came off but most of the black spots remained. Some even started to bleed a little. The area seemed greasy. I told the medical director for the rescue about it and was told it was probably chin acne, also called feline acne or kitty acne.

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can effect any cat regardless of age, sex, or breed. Learn the symptoms and treatment.

What is Feline Chin Acne?

Feline chin acne is a fairly common condition in cats. It can be a one time occurrence, come and go, or be a chronic, difficult to treat condition. It can effect either sex of any breed at any age, although some sources say it is more common between 2-4 years of age due to hormones.

The chin of a cat has lots of sebaceous (oil) glands that connect to the hair follicles. These glands get plugged up with oil and form blackheads. In some cases, the blackheads can turn to pimples and eventually abscesses that rupture. Secondary bacterial infections are common at that point.

What Causes Chin Acne?

The exact cause of chin acne in cats is unknown but some of the factors may include:

  • hyperactive sebaceous glands
  • poor grooming habits
  • sensitivity to food or chemicals in the diet
  • compromised immune system
  • stress
  • contact or atopic dermatitis (allergies)
  • hormone imbalances

How is Feline Chin Acne Treated?

There are some conditions like mange, yeast infections and ringworm that look similar to feline chin acne. Skin scrapings may be necessary to rule these conditions out.

Mild cases of blackheads may only need to be disinfected with Betadine or cleaned with a gentle soap. My veterinarian also told me the area could be dabbed with witch hazel or hydrogen peroxide once a week or so.

You need to keep an eye on the blackheads to make sure the condition is not progressing to a more serious stage when bacterial infection becomes a concern. Severe cases might require antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and other medications.

Speaking of bacterial infection, it was once thought that plastic food dishes could be a cause of chin acne. However, it is now thought that the bacteria on the plastic dishes is the culprit and not the plastic itself. Since it is porous, plastic is very hard to disinfect so glass or stainless steel feeding dishes are a better choice.

Does a Dish Really Make a Difference?

A while back, I received a Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief to try out. Christy Paws told you all about whisker fatigue and reviewed the bowl on her blog.

Since we only had one bowl (and three cats) and Ocean had the chin acne issue, I decided it would be his bowl to see if it made any difference for him. Since we received the bowl in January, he has been eating from it exclusively. I stopped cleaning and disinfecting the area to be able to test only the bowl. After 7 or 8 weeks, I do see a definite reduction in the number of blackheads.

Although I can’t be sure the bowl is responsible for the improvement for Ocean, I know he does eat from it differently than his old bowl. He kind of shoveled the food out of his old bowl with his chin. He doesn’t do that with the Dr. Catsby’s bowl.

Dr. Catsby’s Food Bowl for Whisker Relief (Misc.)


List Price: $19.99 USD
New From: $19.99 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

Ocean only has blackheads and no open lesions. I believe using a glass or stainless bowl is very important for cats with this more severe condition to help avoid infection.

Ocean's improved chin

When I told the folks at Dr. Catsby that I wanted to write about the results of this little experiment, they offered to give me a bowl to give away to one lucky reader. If you don’t know about whisker fatigue, which is a whole different subject, and Dr. Catsby’s Bowl, click on the link above to read about whisker fatigue and Christy’s review.

Ocean with Dr. Catsby's Bowl for Whisher Fatigue

The giveaway will end March 28, 2016 at 12:00 am. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents only who are 18+ years old. The winner will be contacted by email to confirm shipping address. Winner will have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is chosen.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclaimer: I received a Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Fatigue to try and review. This review was posted on Christy Paws. I have received no compensation for this post. I only review products I have tried or use and feel might be of value to my readers. All opinions are my own.

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If My Cats Had a Bucket List

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Ocean and Christy watching the bird feeder - environmental enrichmentI recently read a post on GoPetFriendly.com that really got me thinking. The author mentioned the stories you may have seen recently about people who took their dogs on great adventures after learning their dogs were terminally ill. The post was really about living life to the fullest every moment–starting right NOW. After dealing with a life-threatening illness, surgery and chemo therapy, this post really struck a chord with me.

As part of my healing, I retired early and moved to a beautiful place with few pressures left in my life. I’m doing what I love, spending time with animals, my own and my pet sitting clients’ pets.

What that post really got me thinking about was my cats. Are their lives as full and rich as they could be? Dogs, to me, are easy. They are gregarious animals that love going on adventures with their humans. But what about cats? If my cats had a bucket list, what would be on it?

So I started thinking about what cats like: eating, sleeping, hunting, climbing, and hiding. These were the main things that came to mind. I started assessing how I am doing in each area and how I could improve it — what I could add to their bucket list.

Eating

I feed a homemade raw diet. I am constantly researching to make sure I’m feeding a nutritionally balanced diet that is the best it can be. I rotate the proteins I feed. They eat better and more exotic than I do! I know they would like me to add more treats to their list. OK, maybe.

Sleeping

There’s lots of sleeping going on here and there are beds all over the house. I think we are good there. In spite of all the beds, they prefer to cuddle with me, at least when it is cold, so there will continue to be lots of that.

Environmental Enrichment

The things that are left, hunting, climbing and hiding, all fall in the category of environmental enrichment and where I feel I fall a little short. Here’s where I could add some great things to their bucket list.

I rarely make New Year’s resolutions because I don’t like setting myself up for failure. One thing I did decide at the beginning of the year, though, was that I would play with my cats more. I know they don’t get enough exercise. They rarely play on their own but come to life when the wand or laser toys are brought out. I’m already falling down on that since the first of the year so I need to work harder at it.

They have a lot of small toys for play on their own but there are things I could do to make them more fun. I could put toys in a box with a small hole or in a bag to shake around. There are lots of great toys on the market aimed at this play drive.

They have multiple cat trees and window shelves, including one that is heated. I have put a couple of shelves on the wall to give them even more vertical space. I have two more shelves that have been sitting around since last summer and a remodel I want to do on a large cat tree. Sounds like a good project for this rainy weather we’ve been having.

I’ve put bird feeders at several windows and hummingbird feeders on the deck. I find it interesting that these feeders don’t see much action in the winter. When the birds are scarce, I could try one of the cat entertainment DVDs that showcase prey.

They have boxes and cubes that they can hide in and there’s always the furniture to hide under in a pinch or for an ambush. Mine aren’t into hiding that much. I’ll usually find them in one of the boxes when it is chilly and they are trying to keep warm while they are sleeping. I do want to cover and decorate one of their boxes that is just a cardboard box they love.

I think one of the best things I can do for my cats is to get them outdoors. I have big plans for a catio in the spring and I hope they love it. In the meantime, I bring the outdoors in by growing grass (not often enough) and occasionally giving them leaves to play with.

Ocean eating grass, Echo watching - environmental enrichment

Keeping cats mentally stimulated reduces stress, depression and aggression. Click To Tweet

My Cats’ Bucket List

So here’s what I think my cats would like to see on their bucket list. I’ll evaluate it periodically to see how I’m doing and what else I can add to it.

My Cats' Bucket List with lots of things for environmental enrichment

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Pine Pellet Litter and a DIY Litter Box

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Pine (Wood) Pellet Litter and a DIY Litter BoxAs a pet sitter, I see and experience lots of different pet products, from food and treats to toys and even litter. Yes, litter.

I try to go green whenever possible so I prefer biodegradable litter which is available in pine pellets, recycled newspaper pellets, and litter based on corn, wheat, walnut shells and safflower seeds. The litter I personally have been using for almost a year is corn based and you can buy it here. A 9-pound bag easily lasts as long as 30-pounds of clay litter and, in my opinion, controls odor much better.

Biodegradable Litter

  • Comes from a renewable, sustainable source
  • Virtually dust free
  • Weighs about half as much as clumping clay litter
  • Superior odor control
  • No silica dust so healthier for your cat
  • Safe if ingested during grooming

Biodegradable litters can be composted if you are so inclined. I wrote about that, well, actually my cat wrote about that, here. Even if you use biodegradable litter, it still stays in the landfill pretty much forever if you dispose of it in a plastic bag.

Clay Litter

  • Strip-mined
  • Non-renewable
  • Non-biodegradable (it sits in a landfill forever)
  • Heavy
  • Contains silica dust which can cause health problems for your cat when inhaled
  • Dust gets all over everything
  • Doesn’t control odor very well
  • Can build up in your cat’s digestive system

Pine Pellet Litter

Recently, I began caring for some cats who use pine pellet litter. I am always glad when I find a client using biodegradable litter.

While I was cleaning the litter box, I remembered that I had tried pine pellet litter once many years ago and quit using it because it is so hard to scoop. Unlike other types of litter where you scoop out the clumps, the pine litter falls apart as it absorbs liquids. The litter needs to be sifted rather than scooped and this is very time consuming in a traditional litter box.

Special sifting litter boxes are intended to remedy this. These double boxes allow the wet litter to fall through an insert which holds the intact pellets. I tried one of these, too, many years ago and found them somewhat unsatisfactory. Mostly, they were just plain too small and the sides were too low, which is the case with litter boxes in general.

DIY Pine Pellet Litter Box

What actually prompted me to write this post is a pin I saw on Pinterest. The blogger at Meow Lifestyle created her own wood pellet litter box. She used plastic storage boxes, similar to the ones I’ve used for my litter boxes for years, so I really like the project. The boxes are large and the sides are high which gives your cat plenty of room and keeps more litter in the box. Click on the link for complete instructions.

Pine Pellet Litter and a DIY Wood Pellet Litter Box

Photo courtesy Meow Lifestyle

 

What type of litter do you use? If you use biodegradable, do you compost it? If you try this project, let me know how it works for you.

If you are not up for making your own box, here are a few suggestions.

 

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The 2 Most Dangerous Things About Dry Food

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Tabby cat - 2 most dangerous things about dry foodIf you feed your cats dry food, the best thing you can do for their health is to STOP. I know it is convenient. I know it is less expensive. I know your cat loves it. But it is not good for your cat. Here are, in my opinion, the two most dangerous things about dry food.

Too Little Moisture

The ancestors of our domestic house cats were desert-dwelling wild cats of the Middle East. These ancestors passed down to our pets super-efficient kidneys designed to extract the maximum amount of water possible from their prey. Cats have a low thirst drive and usually don’t drink until they are about 3% dehydrated. This may not sound that bad but it is a level at which many veterinarians would consider giving supplemental fluids.

A cat’s natural prey, the mouse, is about 65-75% water. Dry food is less than 10% water. When all sources of fluid intake are added together, what’s in their food and what they drink, cats eating a dry food diet consume less than half the water of a cat on a canned or raw diet. On a dry food diet, minerals from the kibble and metabolism build up in the bladder because of the reduced frequency of urination, producing hyper-concentrated, over-saturated urine leading finally to blockage. In addition to urinary crystals and stones, this chronic dehydration is responsible for or contributes to many other health issues including bladder infections, constipation, and kidney disease.

Too Many Carbohydrates

Dry foods, no matter how premium or even prescription, are mostly grain-based (or now, other inappropriate carbohydrate sources like potato and pea flour) and contain about 25 to 50% carbohydrates. Cats have no nutritional requirement for carbohydrates and feeding them a diet high in carbohydrates is detrimental to their health.

Pet manufacturers may tell you their pet food contains carbohydrates for energy. Humans use carbohydrates for energy but cats use protein and fat and have little ability to digest carbohydrates. When cats process carbohydrates, they are turned directly to fat which promotes obesity. Obesity leads to many other health issues like high blood pressure, pancreatitis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and so much more.

Carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels higher and faster than other nutrients and trigger the release of insulin. When cats have dry food available all the time, they nibble multiple times a day causing multiple sharp swings in blood sugar and the release of insulin. Over secretion of insulin causes cells to become insulin resistant. That’s just one reason dry food is a major contributor to feline diabetes.

Give Your Cat the Gift of Health

So, no matter how healthy your cat may seem on a dry food diet, consider what it may doing in the long term. If your cat is a dry food addict, there are many articles on the internet to help you transition your cat to a wet or raw food diet. It might take a good amount of time but don’t give up. Your cat’s health depends on it.

 

Additional reading:

Live Science: House Cats’ Wild Ancestor Found

Little Big Cat: 10 Reasons Why Dry Food is Bad for Cats & Dogs

Feline Nutrition Foundation: What Dry Food Does to Your Cat’s Pee

 

Keep your pets hydrated and active!

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