Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Your Pets

Thanksgiving dog and cat

ASPCA experts offer these tips for a fulfilling Thanksgiving that your pets can enjoy, too.

Sage Advice

Sage can make your Thanksgiving stuffing taste delicious, but it and many other herbs contain essential oils and resins that can cause gastrointestinal upset and central nervous system depression to pets if eaten in large quantities. Cats are especially sensitive to the effects of certain essential oils.

No Bread Dough
Don’t spoil your pet’s holiday by giving him raw bread dough. According to ASPCA experts, when raw bread dough is ingested, an animal’s body heat causes the dough to rise in his stomach. As it expands, the pet may experience vomiting, severe abdominal pain and bloating, which could become a life-threatening emergency, requiring surgery.

Don’t Let Them Eat Cake
If you’re baking up Thanksgiving cakes, be sure your pets keep their noses out of the batter, especially if it includes raw eggs-they could contain salmonella bacteria that may lead to food poisoning.

Too Much of a Good Thing
A few small boneless pieces of cooked turkey, a taste of mashed potato or even a lick of pumpkin pie shouldn’t pose a problem. However, don’t allow your pets to overindulge, as they could wind up with a case of stomach upset, diarrhea or even worse-an inflammatory condition of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. In fact, it’s best keep pets on their regular diets during the holidays.

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure a happy and healthy Thanksgiving for all family members, human and furry!

Book Review: Animal Magnetism by Rita Mae Brown

animalmagnetismAnimal Magnetism is the first memoir by Rita Mae Brown since Rita Will – Memoir of a Literary Rabble-RouserIn sometimes funny, always heartwarming stories, Brown introduces us to the animals that have touched her life:  Franklin, a parrot with a wicked sense of humor; Suzie Q, the horse who taught her the meaning of hard work; Baby Jesus, a tough tiger cat from New York City with an attitude to match; and of course, Sneaky Pie, who needs no introduction to the legions of fans of the Sneaky Pie Brown murder mystery series.  Brown shares stories of these animals, and the lessons they taught her.  She makes no secret of the fact that she prefers the company of animals to people.  As Brown explains, “There’s no such thing as a dumb dog, but God knows there are continents filled with dumb humans.”  By observing the animals on her farm and in her life, Brown has gained insights into herself and other human beings that she shares in her inimitable prose. 

As someone who just published a book about the lessons one little cat taught me, this book resonated with me on many levels, but at times, I felt a bit lost in the author’s lengthy descriptions of fox hunting.  However, even though this is not a topic that is close to my heart, I was captivated by the passion with which Brown describes it, and I gained a better understanding of the practice in the process.  You know you’re reading a book by a great writer when they can make you keep reading about a topic you didn’t think you really cared about!

I loved these words from the book, that perfectly summarize what the book is all about: “I hope you are lifted by the love of a cat, dog, horse, even a parrot… More, I hope you recognize it and return it. … We are all in this life together.  We need one another.”

A wonderful book for all animal lovers, as well as fans of Brown’s Sneaky Pie Brown and Sister Jane novels.

Rita Mae Brown is the bestselling author of the Sister Jane novels–Outfoxed, Hotspur, Full Cry, The Hunt Ball, The Hounds and the Fury, The Tell-Tale Horse, and Hounded to Death–as well as the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries and Rubyfruit Jungle, In Her Day, Six of One, and The Sand Castle, among many others. An Emmy-nominated screenwriter and a poet, Brown lives in Afton, Virginia.

Tips to Control the Holiday Food Madness

Thanksgiving_Cats

While these kitties are dreaming of their turkey dinner, I thought this would be a good time for some helpful advice for us humans as we enter the holiday food season.  Today’s guest post gives lots of helpful  hints on how to get through the season without letting go of all of the good eating and exercise habits we’ve cultivated throughout the year.

And coming Monday on The Conscious Cat:  how to keep your pets safe from holiday foods that may not be good for them!

Guest Post by Woody McMahon

No Need to Struggle

If you are struggling with food or your weight, the next few weeks can be a bit overwhelming. This is the season for food overload with all the football games, Thanksgiving, holiday parties, Christmas and New Years all lined up in a row. Just makes your mouth water doesn’t it? This is a challenging time for even for the most health conscious individuals. So what does a reasonable minded person to do when faced with such a seemingly daunting challenge? An old saying comes to mind, “When the going gets rough, the tough get going.”  Here are some suggestions on how to be “tough.”

Stay Active

This is a social time of year. Sometimes you are forced to be more social than you might like. Instead of stopping what has helped you feel so good all year, integrate. If for example you have company coming to town, invite them when you go to the health club, Pilates or Yoga class. They may never have been bold enough to try it on their own or have been admiring you thinking “I wish I could develop a healthy habit like that.” What a great opportunity to do something good for yourself and set a good example while sharing some healthy time with a loved one.

Avoid Overeating

Why do you want to ruin a year’s worth of good work just to overeat right now? Overeating is a unhealthy habit; a habit that is learned and can be unlearned.  The typical party is full of distracted eating (eating while talking) and over grazing leaving you with no idea of how much you really ate. Instead of grazing all night, take a plate and put a reasonable amount of food on it. Go and sit down and enjoy your food. This is a much better way to enjoy the party and not hate yourself in the morning for being a glutton.

Adopt a Positive Attitude

Take the time to be thankful for what you have and your accomplishments. Determine what’s really important in your life and how you plan on making next year better than this one. What does this have to do with food? Well, if you are struggling with food, now is the time to tell yourself next year is going to be the year you end the struggle. Take the time to look behind your overeating. Figure out why food is all consuming and has such a hold on you. How are you going to break the bonds that are keeping you from enjoying life more? Understanding the “why” can help solve the problem and allow you to get on with enjoying life more.

Keep Stress Low

Work diligently to keep your stress low during this time of year. Reducing stress keeps overeating to a minimum. Also you don’t have to accept every single invitation to a party. You know people always invite more guests than they expect. So don’t feel bad if you can’t say “yes” to all the invitations you get. If you can’t accept an invitation from someone you really enjoy, then suggest a lunch or tea after the New Year. You’ll spend much better quality time with your friend and it will help you manage your holiday stress. Try these simple holiday strategies and start your New Year off right.

Exercise is one of three important lifestyle habits essential for good health. If you have special needs then a health and fitness expert with special training is essential as well. Contact Woody McMahon to discuss how Fresh Start can help make the most of your exercise time by building a stronger body the right way.  With his unique program, you’ll improve balance, strength, flexibility, energy and stamina while feeling and looking your best. Contact Woody McMahon at 703-464-5171 to schedule your no cost Fresh Start consultation, or email Woody@SequoiaHealth.com.

Amber’s Mewsings: Keeping Mom Organized

nap 001

I know all of my fans have probably been wondering what happened to me – it’s been so long since I wrote something here.  I’ve been busy keeping Mom organized – things have been crazy around here!  Mom’s book about my sister Buckley (and me!  I’m in the book, too!) has been really well received and is generating quite a bit of buzz around the internet.  I’m so happy for her – I love it when Mom is happy, it makes me feel happy, too.

What I don’t like quite so much is that Mom is busier now, and there seems to be a little less time for reading, cuddling and watching tv.  She always makes sure that we have time together, and I really look forward to bedtime now and snuggle next to her all night long.  It seems to be the one time when I have her undivided attention!  But I understand why she’s busy, and that it makes her happy to be this busy.  And I try to do my part.  I sleep on the perch next to her desk most of the day because I know that my presence inspires her writing (see photo above – that’s me, being Mom’s Mewse).  I help with packing up books to mail to people – I’m really good at playing with the tissue paper she wraps them in (Mom says I mess up the tissue, but what does she know!).  I also remind her when it’s time to take a break and to give me a treat or to feed me.  It’s important that humans take kitty breaks every now and then.

I know underneath all this excitement, Mom is also a little bit sad, because it’s almost a year ago now that Buckley transitioned, and it brings back a lot of memories for her.  For me, too, I do miss my sister.   I’m just better at understanding that she never really left us, she just changed forms.  I still have long conversations with her and I know that she’s hanging out here with us all the time.  I only wish Mom would feel her more often.  She’s getting better at it, and I try to help her.

That’s all for today.  It’s time for another nap.  Being Mom’s Mewse can be very tiring.

Training Cats

Guest Post by Elaine Viets

There are people who can train cats to do tricks, to walk with a leash, to use Elaine Vietsthe toilet and flush afterward. Dominique, the Key West cat man, has a whole show using his specially trained “flying house cats.” He gets them to walk on tightropes and jump through hoops.

After hearing about these feline successes, Don and I tried to train our cats. Three cats back, we adopted a young semi-Siamese named Sylvie. We’d heard that Siamese cats liked to walk with a leash and were easy to train. We bought a Chihuahua leash for her. Sylvie flopped down on the sidewalk like a passive resistor and went limp. We wound up dragging the protesting cat half a block, which caused talk in the neighborhood.

“Be patient,” the text books advised us potential cat trainers. We kept trying to use the  leash. Finally clever Sylvie learned to escape its leather confines like a hairy Houdini.

The cats quickly succeeded in training us. They started yowling every morning, and we learned to leap out of bed at seven a.m. and feed them.

It took six cats before Don succeeded in training one. Now my husband regrets his success.

We adopted Harry, a brown-and-black striped tiger, from our local vet. Some idiot had shot Harry’s family. Harry escaped with his life, but he was left with a fear of large, white males, which proved he was a sensible animal. Whenever a big, white guy loomed at our condo door, Harry hid under the couch. If it was a bill collector, I joined Harry.

It took Harry nearly six months and lots of coaxing before he would let Don pet him. After a year, Harry permitted Don to scratch his ears.

Another six months later, we had a breakthrough. At least, we thought so at the time. Harry let Don scratch the base of his tail. Don was thrilled. So was Harry.

The cat would follow Don around and jump up on chairs so Don could scratch his tail. Don thought this was hilarious.

He’d slap a chair seat and say, “Present butt!” Harry would jump up for his tail scratch. He would fold back his ears and look blissfully happy.

Harry started following Don everywhere. If Don took a nap or stretched out on the couch, Harry was there, demanding a scratch. He was polite about it, in a catlike way. He’d give Don a formal forehead bump, which is cat for “hello” or maybe, “wake up, stupid.” We weren’t sure on our cat translations.  Then Harry would turn around and present his rear end for a scratch. The cat looked like a brown-and-black watermelon. A very happy watermelon. Don obliged and scratched him.

Harry has become a scratchaholic. If Don lights anywhere for a moment or two, there’s Harry, demanding a butt scratch.

It’s ceased to be funny. Don can’t read a book or fall asleep until Harry gets his butt scratch. Now the cat has started waking up Don in the middle of the night.

“This is kind of kinky,” Don said, as he scratched the cat’s rear end at three in the morning.

“Couldn’t you train the cat to turn on the coffee maker, or dial 911 in case of an emergency?” I asked. “You did pretty good with all those dogs.”

Don has trained the neighborhood pooches to line up at their fences when he passes by on a walk. He says, “Present ear,” and the dogs get their ears scratched. It’s a much more wholesome pastime.

“Why couldn’t you have trained Harry to get his ears scratched?” I asked.

“That’s for dogs,” Don said.

I guess I should be grateful he doesn’t scratch Clydesdales.

The Fashion Hound MurdersElaine Viets writes two mystery series, The Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper series, set in her hometown of St. Louis, and the Florida-based Dead-End Job series. She has won the Agatha, Anthony and Lefty Awards for her writing.  In Elaine’s lastest release, The Fashion Hound Murders,  Mystery shopper Josie Marcus investigates a chain of doggie boutiques and discovers those fashionable pets come at a killer price.

Book Review: Catsong by T.J. Banks

catsong-cvr-2Catsong is a charming and delightful collection of stories about special cats and the impact they had on the author’s life.  T.J. Banks shares the stories of the cats that have graced her life, and the immense love, joy and comfort they have brought, each in his or her own individual and special way.  There is Alexander Czar-Cat, the magical cat of the author’s childhood.  There is Jason, a black-and-white stray whose love and affection accompany Banks through her college years and into her marriage.  There are Cricket and Tikvah, and Solstice and Kilah, cats that connect with the author on a soul level.  T.J. Banks clearly knows and understands cats, and her appreciation of and love for each individual cat shines through in her sensitive and beautiful prose.  By sharing her stories about these cats, the author makes us feel that we actually knew them, and she also shows us how truly special all the feline spirits that come and go from our lives are.  For those of us willing to listen with our hearts, cats have so much to teach us.  They enrich our lives through their simple, loving presence, bring us joy and entertainment with their endless antics, and provide quiet love and support during our dark days.  This collection of stories covers all of these aspects, and more.

It’s impossible to pick one story over another – they’re all wonderful and special in their own way.  But for me, the title story, Catsong, touched me  most deeply.  This is the story of Kilah, the seventeen-year-old tortoiseshell cat who helps her human through personal tragedy and countless animal crises – and whose loving spirit continues to bring comfort even after passing into the non-physical dimension.

This book is a treasure for any cat lover and makes a wonderful holiday gift.   The author has a limited number of autographed copies available for sale.   E-mail T.J. Banks at dawntreader27@earthlink.net for more information and to order. 

T.J. Banks is the author of Souleiado and Houdini, a novel for young adults that Cleveland Amory has enthusiastically branded a “winner.”  Her work has appeared in numberous anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Single Parent’s Soul and A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love.  She lives with her daughter Marissa and their cats and rabbits in a sometimes peaceable, but always interesting kingdom in Connecticut.

Benefits of Probiotics for Cats and Dogs

Probiotics for Cats and Dogs

Source:  Holistic Pet Info

Many of us think of bacteria as harmful, or even deadly, but did you know that certain bacteria are not only desirable, but necessary for your pet’s good health?

“Friendly” bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Bifido-bacterium bifidum, and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are just a few of the helpful microorganisms that can reside in your dog or cat’s intestinal tract where they play an important role in defending his body against disease and illness. These kinds of bacteria are referred to as “friendly” because, rather than causing illness and disease, they serve to defend your pet from harmful organisms which can invade his body from time to time.  

Keeping this complex ecosystem of microorganisms in balance, however, is not always easy.  In this ongoing “tug of war” between friendly and harmful bacteria, sometimes the friendly bacteria get outnumbered due to a number of causes:  

  • The use of prescription drugs
  • The aging process
  • An inadequate diet
  • A compromised immune system
  • Fertilizers, pesticides and chemical pollutants
  • Stress 

Probiotics and Antibiotics

One of the most common ways that the ratio of friendly-to-harmful bacteria gets nudged out of balance is through the use of antibiotics. Of course, the use of these drugs is not always avoidable, especially if your dog or cat is fighting a serious infection.

Unfortunately, antibiotics are not able to distinguish between friendly and harmful bacteria, so when eradicating the harmful bacteria (the source of many serious infections), they also kill off a large number of friendly bacteria. This leaves your pet with even less of a defense the next time he is exposed to harmful microorganisms.  

Chemicals in the water supply and soil can have much the same effect. They do eliminate many of the harmful bacteria your pet is exposed to; but they also upset the balance between good and harmful bacteria. In this way, chemicals can also have a negative impact on your pet’s health.  

Even a natural event such as aging can affect the balance of good and harmful bacteria in your pet’s intestinal tract. Regardless of the cause, if your pet shows any of the signs of an unhealthy intestinal tract, this should serve as a red flag: It’s time to intervene and help your pet get his intestinal ecosystem back on the right track. Some of the most common symptoms of an unhealthy digestive tract are the following:  

  • flatulence
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • sluggishness
  • skin problems
  • irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
    Irritable Bowel Syndrom (IBS)    

Probiotic Supplements for Dogs and Cats

One of the simplest and most effective remedies for poor digestion is to administer probiotics to your pet. Probiotics are  supplements comprised of different kinds of friendly bacteria. The ingredients in them may vary from brand to brand, as do the methods of delivery. For instance, probiotics may come in capsule, paste, liquid, or tablet form. They may even be included in some brands of commercial pet food, although this is not considered the best source since, according to some studies, certain brands do not contain the amount or even the kind of probiotics that are stated on the labels. For this reason, supplements are considered the more effective way to go.  

The Right Formula

So what should you look for when shopping around for probiotics? Above all, you want a formula that is comprised of quality ingredients that will help restore the balance of microflora in your pet’s intestinal tract. A formula that contains a 1:1:1 ratio of Lactobacillus Casei, Bifidobacterium Thermophilum, Enterococcus Faecium should address this need.

If you are looking for information on how to manage your pet’s health with holistic or natural pet care products like nutritional supplements, vitamins, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines, Holistic Pet Info is the place for you.  They carry more than 100 natural pet products including vitamins and nutritional supplements, nutraceuticals and other natural medicines.  The site also offers a wide range of well-written and researched articles and other information on animal health issues.

A Mystery Author and Her Cats – Guest Post by Lorna Barrett

CoriWhen my editor told me he wanted the protagonist in my Booktown Mysteries to have a store cat, it seemed like a no brainer.  I’d just model the cat after one of my own.  After all, I’d been proudly owned by cats since the age of six.  Surely one of my current- or ex-feline friends would fit the bill.

And it didn’t take long for me to figure out which of my brood would be the ideal cat for my protagonists co-worker at the Haven’t Got a Clue mystery bookstore:  Cori, my delicate, long-haired gray cat was placid, yet always interested in her surroundings.  She was playful, but loved nothing more than to nap on a windowsill or a patch of sunlight.  And because of her gray fur, the name of Tricia Miles’s cat came almost immediately:  Miss Marple.  (You can find not only Cori’s story, but that of all my cats on my Lorraine Bartlett website.  Miss Marple has been stealing scenes since the very beginning.  I’ve had readers write and tell me that they love the way her character has grown since the first book.  (Although I’m not really sure what they meant by that.)  Stationed on her perch behind the cash desk, she takes an interest in the running of Tricia’s bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, will keep customers company as they browse the shelves, and likes to nap in the front display window or on one of the chairs in the reader’s nook.  She always has an opinion, but doesn’t always get her way.

ChesterCloseUpI wish I could say that about my real cats, who seem to have both my husband and me wrapped around their little paws.  Two of the cats like to help me work.  By that I mean, they like to sit on my lap and prevent me from working.  Chester likes to rest his head on my right hand, and while he’s nice and warm (and my office does get cold), it’s not so easy to type or use the mouse.  When he’s not sitting on me, he’ll plunk down on the other chair in my office–just to keep me company.  Betsy likes to jump up on my lap (gouging me with her back claws first) and then turn around six or seven times until she’s comfy, and stay there until some part of my anatomy is deprived of blood flow.  The other two cats usually have other things to do during the day, which is good because then I have at least an hour or two where I can actually get some work done.

That said, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  My cats are members of my family.  They’re always there, and they rarely complain.  (Okay, Bonnie does sometimes walk off in a huff if dinner is not to her liking.)  When I’m sad, they comfort me.  And when I’m happy, they want to sit on me and purr, just to show their support. 

Yup, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Bookplate_Special.sm2New York Times bestselling author Lorna Barrett writes the Booktown Mysteries.  Bookplate Special, her third in the series, is now available.  For more information on Lorna and her books, please visit her web site:  http://www.lornabarrett.com/, or catch her on her blog, Dazed and Confused: http://www.lornabarrett.blogspot.com/

 

To read my review of Bookplate Special, click here.

H1N1 Confirmed in Cat in Iowa

swineflu

The news about a confirmed case of H1N1 in a 13-year-old cat in Iowa broke yesterday, and is causing concern among pet owners and veterinarians.  Previously, the H1N1 strain was thought to affect only humans, birds and pigs.

In the case of the Iowa cat, the cat’s owner had been experiencing fly like symptoms, and it’s believed that the cat contracted the virus from the humans.  The cat’s symptoms included lethargy, difficulty breathing, and loss of appetite.  The cat has fully recovered, as have the humans in the household.

The AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) issued a public statement on its website yesterday:

A cat in Iowa has tested positive for the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus, state officials confirmed this morning, marking the first time a cat has been diagnosed with this strain of influenza.

The cat, which has recovered, is believed to have caught the virus from someone in the household who was sick with H1N1. There are no indications that the cat passed the virus on to any other animals or people.

Prior to this diagnosis, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus had been found in humans, pigs, birds and ferrets.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) are reminding pet owners that some viruses can pass between people and animals, so this was not an altogether unexpected event. Pet owners should monitor their pets’ health very closely, no matter what type of animal, and visit a veterinarian if there are any signs of illness.

The AVMA is actively tracking all instances of H1N1 in animals and posting updates on our Web site at http://www.avma.org/public_health/influenza/new_virus.

This is a developing story, and there is much about this virus that is not known at this point.  That being said, it’s important to not overreact until we have more information.  Keep the following things in mind:

  • Stay calm.  The good news is that both the cat and the human family members all fully recovered from their bout with H1N1.
  • In this instance, the virus passed from human to cat, not from cat to human.  There is, as yet, no evidence that the virus can pass from cats to humans.
  • This doesn’t change the basic good advice about how to protect yourself from getting sick that has been circulating for quite some time:  wash your hands frequently, keep your immune system healthy and strong.
  • If you do get sick with H1N1, the AVMA recommends that you avoid close contact with your cat.  If your cat shows respiratory symptoms, seek immediate veterinary care.

With a developing story like this one, it will probably be a challenge to separate the facts from the inevitable panic this kind of news can cause.  Know your sources when it come to health information, and don’t overreact to every snippet of news you see come across the internet or your tv screen.

An Interview with the Founder and Editor of Moderncat

photo credit:  www.giuliosciorio.com

I previously introduced Moderncat in my post Unique Cat Products With a Modern Twist  because I loved the site so much.  It is my pleasure today to introduce you to Kate Benjamin.  Kate is the founder and editor of Moderncat, a resource for cat owners with a modern style. She seeks out the newest products for living with cats in a modern home. She tries to identify not only products that fit a modern aesthetic, but also items that are truly innovative and that make living with cats a more enjoyable experience. Moderncat combines product reviews with other useful information for cat owners in a clear and concise format.

Welcome to The Conscious Cat, Kate.

 

Tell us a little bit about Moderncat.  How did you come up with the idea?

Thanks so much for giving me the chance to share my story with your readers! I started Moderncat because I was a cat owner myself looking for a single online resource for well-designed cat products. I was finding individual companies and products, but I couldn’t find a place where I could view everything all in one place. I had learned a little bit about blogging in my job as the Director of Marketing at a children’s product development company, so I decided to start my own blog. Apparently, other people were looking for the same thing because the readership started to grow and today Moderncat has a wonderful international audience of design-conscious cat lovers.

Moderncat became hugely successful in the two years since you started the project.  How do you explain its popularity and success?

I think the success of Moderncat is due mostly to the fact that there is nothing else really like it, but also that I’ve been very active in all kinds of different online communities, helping to spread the word about the blog and attract more readers. It didn’t happen overnight, I’ve worked at it slowly and steadily for over two years now. It has been a pleasure getting to know my readers through the comments and emails.

Is Moderncat a full time job for you?

Yes, it is now my full-time job and I absolutely love it! I ran the blog for two years on the side, and then I was recently able to go out on my own so I could focus on writing Moderncat and working on other cat–related projects, including volunteering with local animal rescues whenever I can.

Where do you find the products and giveaways you feature on your site?

I read consumer and trade magazines in the cat/pet industry, plus I try to attend one or two of the big pet industry trade shows each year to stay up-to-date on the latest products. I do a lot of online research, plus most of the cat product manufacturers keep me updated on their new offerings. I also get lots of tips from readers. That is where some of the most interesting information comes from!

How do you decide whether a product is a good fit for Moderncat?

First, the company behind the product has to have a good reputation. It’s important to me to only promote products and businesses that are ethical and provide quality products and services. I like to work with smaller companies, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t cover products from larger companies if I think they are good. Also, it’s important that the manufacturer considered both the cat and the owner when designing a product. That will make a successful product. Most things on Moderncat have a more modern, or streamlined design. I consider both the function of the product as well as the aesthetic design.

A lot of the products you feature, in addition to being aesthetically beautiful, are also what I would consider high end products.  Do you find that there’s a good market for these products among cat lovers?

Yes, I do feature a lot of products that are quite expensive. This is usually because the products are handmade using high-quality or sustainable materials, and they are often made in small quantities. I think there are some people who can afford these high-end products, others who save up for that one special item, and still others who can’t afford these things, but hopefully they will be inspired by the ideas to create something similar themselves. It’s really all about inspiration and creativity. You don’t have to spend a lot to make a wonderful home environment for you and your cats. There is a whole DIY (do-it-yourself) section on Moderncat where you can see photos of projects readers have completed, often with instructions and tips.

In addition to being a blogger, you are also a designer.  Tell us a little bit about the things you design.

I have a craft studio in downtown Phoenix where I’m working with a team of designers to develop some cat products that will be available soon on Etsy. The collaborations are a lot of fun! I have a lot of friends who are architects and designers and also cat owners. Stay tuned for more details!

You have six Moderncats of your own.  Tell us about them.

Kate's Modern cats

Simba was the first cat that I’ve owned as an adult. I’ve had her for 6 years now and she is 10 years old. She is a cream tabby and apparently female cream tabbies are pretty rare.

Next came Mackenzie. He is a big beautiful brown tabby Maine Coon who is 7 years old and the sweetest thing ever!

Then Ando showed up as a 5 month old kitten. He’s my baby! A shiny black panther-like cat with a bit of Siamese in him. He is in charge.

Then I adopted Sophie. Not sure how old she is, but she is quite old and has diabetes, but she is a great cat and just wants to have her head scratched.

Two years ago, my boyfriend and I got involved with The Great Kitty Rescue through Best Friends Animal Society. This was a cat rescue where Best Friends was called in to help with an institutional hoarding situation in Nevada where they rescued 800 cats. My next two cats, Flora and Dazzler, both came from this rescue. They are both torties. Flora is tiny and has plenty of tortitude, and Dazzler (we call her Dee) has no tortitude at all, and she is completely and hopelessly in love with Ando.

Do they get to test products before you post them on your site?

Yes they do! Not everything, only the things that I’m really excited about. My condo isn’t big enough for everything!

Do they have any favorites?

The top faves have to be the Hepper Pod (Dee is in there EVERY day) and the Sweet Lounge from Marmalade Pet Care. They also love the wall-mounted scratcher from Moderncritter as well as the Curve perches from Urban Pet Haus. They really like the Caboodle and the tall cat condo from Modern Cat Designs. The latest faves are the Cat Eye Bed from Precision Pet and the pulp scratch lounger from Bergan. The Sleepypod is the best carrier ever, plus it converts to a bed. If I leave it out, someone can be found lounging in there. I really like the Smart Cat Box for a great natural litter alternative. Favorite toys include DaBird and the Cat Dancer.

Thanks for joining us on The Conscious Cat, Kate, and we wish you much continued success with Moderncat.

The Importance of Good Dental Health for Your Pets

cat dental health

Dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets.  Dogs and cats are particularly prone to tooth and gum diseases.  An astounding 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society.

Normal teeth in both cats and dogs should be white or just a little yellow.  Gums should be light pink and smooth (except in breeds with pigmented gums). 

Oral disease begins with a build up of plaque and tartar in your pet’s mouth.  Without proper preventive and therapeutic care, plaque and tartar buildup leads to periodontal disease, which manifests in red and/or swollen and tender gums, bad breath, and bleeding.  When the gums are swollen, they can be painful – a good rule of thumb is that if it looks like it might be painful, it probably is. Pets are masters at masking pain – when in doubt, assume that your pet is experiencing at least some discomfort.

The inflammation and infection associated with periodontal disease can lead to damage to other organs such as the heart, kidney and liver, and lead to other serious health problems.  Dental disease can also be an indicator of immune system disorders, particulary in cats.

Common indicators of oral disease in dogs include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth and depression.  If you notice any of these, don’t wait until your dog’s next annual check up, take him to the veterinarian for a thorough exam.

Cats rarely show any symptoms at all unless the situation is literally life-threatening.  They will eat even when their level of chronic mouth pain would send a person to the emergency room.  They almost never paw at their face, even with loose or abscessed teeth.  They get pretty smelly breath from eating cat food, so it’s tough to tell by smelling the breath whether your cat has dental disease or just had breakfast.  But even though they don’t show us much in the way of outward symptoms, chronic dental/periodontal disease can cause severe and often irreversible damage to internal organs.  So it’s important to get regular veterinary exams at least once a year, and twice a year for cats six and older or for cats with a known history of dental problems. 

Since our pets won’t just sit still and open their mouths to have their teeth cleaned like humans, dental procedures for pets require general anesthesia, something that makes many pet owners nervous.  While there are always risks with anesthesia, they can be minimized with a thorough pre-anesthetic check up, including bloodwork to assess kidney and liver function and rule out other underlying health issues.  This will allow your veterinarian to customize the anesthesia to your pet’s health status and potential special needs.  Keep in mind that leaving dental disease untreated may present a far greater risk than anesthesia.

For more information on anesthesia for pets, read this guest post by Dr. Louise Murray about Safe Anesthesia for Pets.

A special thank you goes to Dr. Fern Crist of the Cat Hospital of Fairfax for her contribution to this article.

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