Allegra’s World

I know you’re all waiting for an update from my big sister Amber on how things are going with the two of us, but Amber is feeling a little under the weather, so my new mom said I could write on this computer.  Weeee – I’m a blogging kitten!  Fun!

My new mom said she introduced me to you in her blog New Family Member.  I’ve been here exactly one month now!  Kittens can’t really tell time, but my new mom said it’s been a month, and since she’s my  mom, I believe her.  I’m just a kitten, I don’t know things like time. 

I really like it here.  At first, I wasn’t sure about anything.  My new mom seemed nice enough, but I really didn’t know her, although her energy felt very special – I did notice that from the first moment I met her.  My new big sister Amber didn’t seem too thrilled to have me come live there.  If I so much as I got within a few feet of her, she’d hiss and growl at me.  All I want to do is play – I don’t mean to harass her!  Okay, well, maybe a little….  I heard my new mom say to someone that she’d forgotten about kitten energy.  I guess that means she didn’t remember how playful, energetic, and, okay, crazy, us kittens can get.  Sometimes I just feel so much joy, I have to race through the entire house, tear around corners, jump up and down furniture, and just generally go nuts – it’s the only way I can think of to express this much joy!  I think Amber at least tolerates me now.  We do hang out in the same room together and take our naps together, but on different pieces of furniture.

There are so many things I like about my new home.  One of the best things is that there are lots of windows!  Before I came here, I lived in a cage at an animal hospital.  They were all really nice to me there, but the only way I could look out a window is if I leaned very far toward the front corner of my cage, and even then, I could only catch a glimpse of daylight, but not really see what was going on outside.  Here, I can look out of any given window and see trees.  Trees are fun, especially when the leaves are moving in the wind!  I want to chase them!  I know I could catch them!  I’m fast!  And there’s also birds, and squirrels.  Boy, I’d love to catch me a squirrel – how much fun would that be!

But there are lots of fun things for a kitten like me inside, too.  I have never seen so many toys!  They’re everywhere!  And my new mom is really fun to play with.   She tosses mousies for me to chase, and laughs when I fly across the room after them.  Weeee!  I love making my new mom laugh!  And there are so many other things to play with, but my new mom says they aren’t toys, and sometimes she takes them away from me.  Like the time I pried off the wooden screw on the stairwell.  I worked really hard at it to get it loose, and it made such a cool noise when I batted it around!  But my new mom said I couldn’t keep it to play with and took it away.  Not to worry.  I found another one and pried that loose, too.  Same thing – she took it away.  Oh well.  It’s not like I don’t have plenty of other things to play with.

My new mom is really great.  Even though there are times when she tells me I can’t do something (like when I pounce on my big sister, or go after what my new mom calls people food, or when I bite her hands when she plays with me), mostly, I can tell that she really loves me.  I love being part of a family.  I just wish my big sister would like me more.  I try so hard to make her like me.  I do all kinds of cute kitten things:  I pounce on her if she’s walking by me.  I creep up behind her so she can’t see me coming and then I jump out and startle her.  I particularly like to run after her when she’s going to the litter box and I don’t understand why my new mom gets so upset with me when I do that.  I just want to play and I want Amber to like me.

Earlier this week, though, we had a really special moment, and it felt really nice.  Amber was sitting by the screen door enjoying the spring breeze wafting in and feeling the sun on her fur.  I could sense that she wasn’t feeling well, so I exercised great restraint and just approached her very very slowly.  (I also didn’t want to get hissed at yet again!).  She gave me that look she usually gives me when I annoy her, and I froze.  But there was no hissing this time, so I got brave.  I slowly continued to inch closer, until I was right next to her, and for a while, we both looked out the window together.  It was really nice.  I just wish she’d understand that it’s really hard for me to be that quiet, and that I’d much rather she loosen up a bit and play with me!

Anyway – that’s my world.  My new mom, my big sister Amber, and my new home.  I am one happy kitten.

Adventures in Veterinary Medicine – Virginia

As those of you who read Buckley’s Story know, Buckley was my office cat at the animal hospital I managed for eight years before she came to live with Amber and I.   She wasn’t the first one, though.  Not the first tortie, and not the first office cat.  Before Buckley, and even before Amber, there was Virginia.

I first met Virginia when I went for my first interview for the hospital manager position at the Middleburg Animal Hospital.   The hospital was then owned by Drs. Jack Love and Janet McKim, a husband and wife team.  I had spoken to Janet on the phone briefly before my interview, but really didn’t know what to expect.  This was in the days before every animal hospital had a website.  I knew what I was looking for in a potential employer as far as practice philosophy, and in addition, I was looking for a clinic that had that intangible right “feel.”

As soon as I walked into the waiting room of the hospital, I knew I had found the right place.   There was an old-fashioned wooden bench, a rocking chair, and the walls were covered with photos of dogs and cats.  A large free-standing cage held several kittens.  When Janet came up to greet me, I was even more sure.  I instantly liked her.  She took me back to her office and began the interview.

After a few minutes, a beautiful tortoiseshell cat walked into the office.  “That’s Virginia,” explained Janet.  “She’s one of our two hospital cats.”  Virginia proceded to walk over to me, looked up at me, and then dug her claws into my legs and used them as a scratching post.  I wondered whether that was part of the interview – a test, perhaps, to see how I would react?  In hindsight, I realized that, of course, this was the moment she marked me as her own.  I had dressed up for the interview and was wearing a skirt and pantihose – I can honestly say it was the first and only time in my life I left an interview with runs in my pantihouse caused by kitty claws!  The interview went well, and I left feeling hopeful that I would be offered the job.

A couple of weeks later, Janet called to invite me to go out to dinner with her and Jack.  We sealed the deal over dinner, and I spent the next eight wonderful years working at the Middleburg Animal Hospital.  And the fact that Virginia was part of the deal only increased my happiness.

She was estimated to be about ten years old.  She was FIV positive.  FIV is the feline version of the aids virus.  It is contagious, but is primarily spread through bite wounds.  Casual, non-aggressive contact does not spread the virus, and it is not zoonotic, which means it cannot be spread from cat to humans.  However, Virginia’s owners were not comfortable keeping an FIV positive cat and had left her at the animal hospital for euthanasia.  Somehow, the hospital staff never got around to it, and by the time someone remembered, she had wormed her way into too many hearts for them to go through with it.

Virginia was the poster child for “tortitude” – that unique personality of tortoiseshell cats.  She had definitely read the manual.  She was feisty, independent, and set in her ways.  The only other animal she liked was Marmy, our other hospital cat, a sweet, wise old medium-haired orange cat.  You could often find Marmy in his cat bed, with Virginia curled around him, squeezed into the small bed with him.

She liked most of the staff members, but this was not always mutual.  She thought nothing of using her claws if she felt like someone wasn’t doing her bidding (ie, petting her properly, feeding her on her schedule, or committing any number of transgressions only she knew about).  None of these were exactly the kinds of  qualities you’d look for in a hospital cat!  At one point, early on during my time as manager, there was talk of sending her to a nearby sanctuary for FIV positive cats.  I was nervous about doing so, but I set an ultimatum:  if Virginia went, so would I.  Thankfully, by then Janet and Jack had come to rely on me, and took my “threat” seriously.  Virginia got to stay.

She loved me fiercely.  She would be at the door to greet me each morning.  When I took a few days off, the staff would tell me that she’d been looking for me, and when I returned to work, the look on her face made it clear that she did not appreicate being abandoned like that.  She had her routine, and it didn’t vary much from day to day.  In the morning, she’d sleep in a cat bed I had placed in front of a sunny window on my desk, next to my computer.  She’d spend most mornings napping, but she also made sure that I paid attention to her, often clawing at my “mouse hand” to get my attention.  As lunch time got closer, she would park herself on the bench in the exam room adjacent to my office, where most of the staff gathered for lunch each day.  She loved to mooch off of peoples’ lunches, with morsels of meat or cold cuts and yogurt, especially peach flavored, being favorites.

For four years, she made my office my home away from home.  She showed no symptoms of her disease.   Then, in the spring of 2002, she started to decline rapidly.  She seemed to lose energy, and her always healthy appetite started to wane.  She couldn’t make it to the litterbox in time and had frequent accidents outside the box.  She wouldn’t come to greet me at the door in the mornings.  An ultrasound showed that her heart and liver were in bad shape.

On a sunny April morning, we decided that it was time.  I spent her last morning in the office with her in her bed by my side.  When I wasn’t crying, I was calling staff members who were not on duty that day to let them know, in case they wanted to be present for her final moments.   I held her on my lap in the office, surrounded by all the people who had been a part of her world, as she took her last breath.  I don’t think there are many cats who got the kind of send off she did.

I still miss her.  The photo above was on my desk at the animal hospital until I left; now, it’s on a shelf in my office here at home.  She was my introduction to and beginning of my love affair with torties.  She still has a piece of my heart.

Free Teleseminar June 24 – Inspired and Inspiring – The Rewards and Challenges of Living with Disabled Pets

*** NEW DATE – Thursday, June 24, 8:00pm Eastern***

Join us for our free teleseminar
Inspired and Inspiring – The Rewards and Challenges
of Living with Disabled Pets
on Thursday, June 24 at 8:00pm Eastern

On Thursday, June 24, at 8pm Eastern Daylight Time, we will host authors Barbara Techel and Mary Shafer for a free teleseminar titled Inspired and Inspiring – The Rewards and Challenges of Living with Disabled Pets.

Barbara Techel is the author of the multi-award-winning book Frankie, the Walk ‘N Roll Dog. When her dachshund, Frankie, suffered a spinal injury, Techel had her custom-fitted for a wheelchair. Frankie’s strong spirit had her back into the swing of life very soon, and Techel realized the beautiful opportunity she had to share Frankie’s story. Together, they give others who may be struggling with obstacles the hope and inspiration to be the best they can be. Techel’s newest book, Frankie, the Walk ’N Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House, chronicles the twosome’s work as a therapy dog team at local hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice centers, spreading joy wherever they go.

Mary Shafer is a freelance writer, author and publisher of Word Forge Books, a small, independent publisher located near Philadelphia. She’s a member of the Cat Writers Association and is co-mom to four special needs cats. One of those cats, Idgie, is the subject of Shafer’s story in the company’s latest book, Almost Perfect: Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them.

Join us for what is sure to be an inspirational hour of discussing the challenges and rewards of living with disabled pets.  You’ll also get a chance to ask questions.

The seminar is free, but long distance phone charges may apply.  To participate in the conference, dial 1-712-432-3100.  When prompted, enter conference code 674470.  Registration is not required, but if you’d like to be entered in the drawing of an autographed copy of Barbara and Mary’s books, you’ll need to pre-register by clicking here.

What to Do When Your Cat Is Not Using the Litter Box

Guest Post by Daniela Caride

Your cat may not be using the litter box for many reasons. If you have ruled out diseases by taking your cat to the vet, you should go over this list I came up with. Your cat might be unhappy with one or some of those issues.


Too few boxes

The ideal number of litter boxes in a home is at least the number of cats + 1. If you have two cats, you should have at least 3 litter boxes.

With four cats at home, I keep five litter boxes in the house. I have one in each floor, and two in the basement, the biggest room. It works well for us, even though I would like to have one more. I just can’t seem to find the right place for it (handy for the cats and hidden from visitors).

Box is in the wrong place

The litter box should be in a quiet place — away from the furnace and any other machines that emit noises. Cats don’t like to be surprised while in the bathroom. The box should also be in a place easily accessible for your cat. If it’s too difficult to reach the box, he may not make it there on time, especially if your cat is older and arthritic.

If you have several cats, a lower-ranking cat may have trouble accessing the litter boxes. If he’s trapped by other cats on his way to the loo, he may choose to pee somewhere else, given the circumstances.

Box is hooded

Most cats don’t enjoy hooded litter boxes. They trap the pee and poop odor inside, make it darker and much more difficult or even impossible to escape if another cat blocks the door.

Photo by Daniela Caride

My litter boxes are tall, clear plastic storage containers without the lid. I bought them at Target and drilled a hole in the side of each box (This one might do the trick). This way, my cats can easily access it from a door, see if any other cat approaches and escape from the top if necessary. Since the walls are clear, my cats can see better inside (more light). The fact I don’t cover them help ventilate any scents from a previous visit to the bathroom, so the cats don’t get overwhelmed.

Box is too dirty

If you buy clumping litter, scoop the litter box at least once a day and change the whole content every couple of months. Some people rotate litter boxes every six months so one box can “breathe” (they let the pee scents dissipate) while the cat uses the other one.

If the litter you use does not clump, change to clumping litter. If you can’t, scoop at least once a day and change the litter at least every week.

Box is too clean

If you clean your cat box with harsh-smelling chemicals such as bleach, your cat may avoid the place. Cats are very sensitive to smells.

Unwanted liners

Some cats hate the feel or the crackling sounds of plastic liners — or both.

Wrong litter

Cats can be fussy about litter. Some types of pine litter don’t absorb the smell of pee, which may disgust your cat and make him look for another bathroom. Some clay litters have a strong perfume smell to please humans. But they might displease your cat. I use World’s Best Extra Strength made out of corn, and we’re all very happy (cats and humans).

Litter is not deep enough or too deep

Figure out how much litter your cat wants in the litter box. My cats hate it when I don’t pour enough litter, and they find themselves scratching the bottom of the box to cover their poop. They leave the thing uncovered and vanish. I have to put up with the perfume.

Animosity between cats in the house

If you have cats who don’t like each other, increase the number of litter boxes in your house. Again, make sure they are uncovered and made of clear plastic, so they can see when another cat approaches and can escape safely and quickly. If your cat feels unsafe in the box, he will look for another place to relieve himself.

Daniela Caride is the publisher of The Daily Tail (http://www.TheDailyTail.com), a participatory blog about pets with stories, tips, and reviews. She lives with three cats, Crosby, Gaijin and Phoenix, three dogs, Frieda, Geppetto and Lola, and her husband, Martin, in Cambridge, MA

Book Review: The Cat, the Professor and the Poison

In The Cat, the Professor and the Poison, the second book in Leann Sweeney’s Cats in Trouble series, we once again join Jillian Hart and her beloved three cats, Merlot, Chablis and Syrah.  Jillian, busy with her cat quilt making business, is settling into the small town of Grace, South Carolina, where she moved with her husband, looking forward to a long retirement.  Within a few months of moving there, John died from a sudden heart attack and Jillian found herself alone in a strange town.  But now, she has found a new best friend in Deputy Candace Carson, and once again, she gets involved in helping solve a murder.   It all begins with a missing milk cow from a friend’s farm, which leads to the discovery of fifty stray cats and a dead body – a victim of cold-blooded murder. 

As Jillian gets involved with helping to save the stray cats, even taking one calico mother and her kittens home with her, she also gets drawn ever deeper into the murder investigation.  And if that weren’t enough, in the middle of all of this, her husband’s daughter arrives for an unannounced, and apparently open-ended, visit.  A former journalist, she becomes intrigued with the mysteries hiding in the small town of Grace, and also begins to look into clues to the murder and possible suspects – and there are plenty of those.  Even the cats get in on the act!  From academic research to dysfuctional family dynamics to cat food, the investigation takes Jillian on a wild ride as she comes ever closer to helping solve the mystery.

This book will delight readers of amateur sleuth stories and cat lovers alike.  Interspersed with plenty of fascinating facts about cats, this book is a fun and entertaining read and is very hard to put down.    It’s the purrfect book for curling up with your favorite feline for an afternoon of suspense, cat trivia and small town charm.

The Cat, the Professor and the Poison will be released on May 4.

Leann Sweeney was born and raised in Niagara Falls and educated at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Lemoyne College in Syracuse, NY. She also has a degree from the University of Houston in behavioral science and worked for many years in psychiatry. Currently a school nurse, she began writing about fifteen years ago, fulfilling her lifelong dream. After perfecting her writing skills with classes and a small fortune in writing books, she joined MWA and Sisters in Crime. Her short fiction won many awards and several mysteries were published in small market mystery magazines. One novel and another mystery novella went straight to audio. Leann is married with two fabulous grown children, a wonderful son-in-law and a beautiful daughter-in-law. She has lived in Texas for almost thirty years and resides in Friendswood, Texas with husband Mike and her three cats.  You can learn more about Leann and her books at http://www.leannsweeney.com.

FTC full disclosure:  I received an ARC copy of this book from the author.

Giveaway – FURminator Deshedding Tool for Cats

Tomorrow is National Hairball Awareness Day, and we’ve teamed up with Romeo the Cat and FURminator, Inc. to shed some light on this issue that plagues so many cats.

As we learned from Dr. Crist’s article Some Startling New Thoughts on Cats and Hairballs yesterday, hairballs actually have very little do with the fur that cats naturally ingest when grooming, but there are still numerous benefits from grooming your cat on a regular basis:

  • A grooming session can be a relaxing bonding time for you and your cat.   If your cat is not immediately receptive to grooming, start slow, and gradually increase the time you spend grooming.  Eventually, the calming, repetitive motion of brushing will have a relaxing effect on your cat (and you!).
  • More grooming means less shedding, and less cat hair around the house.
  • Grooming increases circulation – it’s like a mini-massage with some of the same health benefits as a massage.
  • A grooming session is an ideal time for you to run your hands and eyes over every inch of your cat’s body.  This may help with early detection of diseases such as lumps and bumps, skin issues, or parasites.

I’m giving away one FURminator Deshedding Tool for Cats.  If you’d like to win, leave a comment on this post and let me know why you would like one for your cat(s).  For an extra chance to win, tweet about the giveaway or share on Facebook and post the link in a separate comment.  This giveway is open until Sunday, May 16.

Some Startling New Thoughts on Cats and Hairballs

Guest post by Fern Slack, DVM

It is always the case that we vets deal with the same problems at home that we counsel our clients about.  And not always terribly well.  I’m certainly no exception.  Years ago, I had a long-haired cat who threw up hairballs frequently, but unlike most hairball-barfing cats, she did not just hack up the offending wad and then go about her business as though nothing had happened.  Nope, she would obviously feel ill for minutes to hours afterward.  And probably beforehand, too, had I had the vision to see it.

I tried all the time-honored remedies that I prescribed every day for my patients.  I dosed her with various brands of flavored petroleum jelly.  I fed her diets purporting to help with hairballs by the inclusion of extra fiber.  I brushed her constantly, which fortunately she loved.  None of these things helped.  Eventually I shaved her, leaving the adorable puffs on her legs and tail that made her look like a fat little old lady in tight leotard and legwarmers.  As long as I did this three or four times a year, there were no more hairballs.  Oddly enough, however, she continued to have vomiting episodes, albeit less frequently, and minus the hair.  Diagnostics revealed inflammatory bowel disease, and eventually my poor sweet girl succumbed to intestinal lymphoma.

While rooming with a brilliant feline practitioner at a medical conference shortly after, still grieving, I confessed my frustration with the seemingly insignificant problem of hairballs.  Her answer blew me away.  There is no such thing as “just a hairball,” she says to me.  Think about it.  Cats developed stringent grooming behaviors in the course of evolution because grooming is a positive survival factor, probably through  controlling parasitism  and other diseases.  So they are going to ingest a lot of hair.  Does vomiting as a daily method for expelling this hair seem evolutionarily sound?  Stomach acid hurts the esophagus and teeth, and frequent vomiting upsets the electrolyte balance.    While vomiting as an emergency mechanism to rid oneself of the occasional nastiness seems reasonable, it seems unlikely that the daily vomiting of hairballs is the “normal” thing that the medical community has assumed it to be.

I’m hooked.  Go on, I say.  She continues.

Why would we think that “lubrication” of the gut with petroleum products would help?  A cat is not a car.  And in no way could a cat have naturally evolved to require the dosing with “lubricants” to survive or to thrive.  Likewise, cats in the wild would never eat a “high-fiber” diet, and so would seem unlikely to benefit from one.  On the contrary, it would appear logical that a cat would thrive better on what a cat has been evolved to eat – namely a mouse or a reasonable facsimile thereof – and that feeding a cat something wildly different from the diet it has evolved on is more likely to result in harm than in good.

No, she says, I think it likely that a “hairball,” far from normal, is probably a common early symptom of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  Impaired motility of the gut would account for the balling up of hair that should pass right through, if stomach-emptying time is the 0.2 – 2 hours it is reported to be in a normal cat.  A cat shouldn’t be able to swallow enough hair fast enough to outrace normal stomach emptying time.

This is making sense to me.  Particularly as I just lost my own cat to this.  And as I think back, I realize that “hairballs” have been in the histories of a disproportionate number of the patients I’ve treated with IBD and lymphoma.

She tells me that she’s been changing her patients over to low-fiber diets (grain-free and low carbohydrate) for a while now, and she’s seeing a precipitous drop in the whole “hairball” thing.  I can see the long-term implications of this line of reasoning:  if cat food containing an unnaturally high level of fiber and carbohydrates is associated with an increased incidence of  impaired GI motility and vomiting, and if cats fed this way are at higher risk to develop IBD and lymphoma, then a drop in hairball vomiting might mean that a cat has a lower risk of these two nasty diseases.  Sounds as though a grain-free diet might be a better way to go.

This all made sense to me.  No science to it back then, but neither was there any to support the idea that hairballs are normal.  No one had at that time asked if a carbohydrate-based diet could possibly have long-term negative consequences for cats.

Well, they have now.   Every day, there’s more scientific evidence that these “mere” hairballs we see so often may respond, not to grease and not to fiber, not to brushing and not to shaving, but to feeding a diet that looks like what a cat was evolved to eat.

In the intervening years, I’ve changed my own cats over to grain-free, low-carb canned foods, and I’ve seen nary a hairball from anyone for a very long time.   In my esteemed colleague’s footsteps, I’ve been changing my patients over to these same diets.   I hear about fewer hairballs, and my patients  are slimmer, fitter, and healthier in many ways.  Is this a panacea?  Of course not.  There’s no one cure for everything.  But I now have serious trouble believing that a feline diet in which the calories are derived primarily from carbohydrates, which are much cheaper than proteins, is beneficial to anything other than the manufacturer’s bottom line.

So next time someone tells you that malt-flavored grease, fiber additives, brushing or shaving are the only ways to help with those annoying hairballs, think again.  Hairballs may be more than just a stinky mess for you to clean up.  They might well be a sign that your cat has a real health problem, and should see the veterinarian.  And your cat might be telling you that her gut would be happier with “mouse” than with breakfast cereal.

Dr. Slack graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia, and has been working exclusively with cats since 1993. She is the owner of Uniquely Cats Veterinary Center in Boulder, CO.

How to Care for Your Older Cat

Peaches and Peonies by B.E. Kazmarski

In honor of Peaches, animal artist Bernadette Kazmarski’s cat who is turning 20 years old on May 1, a number of blogs are participating in the birthday celebration by posting articles about living with and caring for older cats.

Cats are living longer and healthier lives, thanks to improved veterinary care, better nutrition, and the fact that most pet cats are indoor cats; but even at that, not many live to the ripe old age of 20.   The definition of an older cat is usually preceded by the term “senior” or “geriatric.”  Cats are considered senior between the ages of 11 and 14, and geriatric over the age of 15.  The following provides some pointers to help you keep your older cat happy and healthy.

Regular veterinary care

This is important at any age, but becomes particularly important as cats age.   Typically, veterinarians recommend annual visits for healthy cats up to age 6 or 7, and bi-annual visits after that.  I explained in a previous post  what a senior cat wellness visit entails and why it’s so important.

Behavior and environment

Environmental needs may change as cats age.  Cats often loose some mobility as osteoarthritis, a common ailment in older cats, begins to set in.  It becomes important to make sure that they have easy access to the litter box.  Some litter boxes may be too high for older cats to get in and out of comfortably.  Make sure that beds are easy to access – if kitty can no longer jump up on beds or other favorite sleeping spots, consider getting a ramp or steps to make it easier for her.

Watch for subtle behavior changes such as increased vocalization, problems with elimination, or changes in routine.  They may be indicators of medical problems and may require veterinary attention.

Diet

As cats become older, they’re typically less playful and less mobile, and weight gain can become a problem.   Don’t turn to senior diets – while they are marketed as “light” and lower in calories, they are high in carbohydrates and contraindicated for cats, who are obligate carnivores.   I previously wrote about weight management for senior cats.  There is no reason to change a cat’s diet as she gets older.  If you feed a healthy raw or grain-free canned diet, only minor adjustments in quantity should be required to keep your cat healthy through her senior and geriatric years.

Oral health

Bi-annual vet exams should include a thorough examination of your cat’s teeth and mouth.  Good dental health is one of the most important health issues for cats, especially as they get older.  Dental disease not only causes pain and decreases quality of life, but it can result in damage to other organs such as kidneys and heart.

Parasites

Depending on your cat’s lifestyle (indoor vs. outdoor), regular fecal examinations are recommended.  Discuss parasite control with your veterinarian, but be aware that many of the leading flea and tick control products are pesticides.  Look for natural alternatives instead.

Vaccinations

Work in partnership with your veterinarian to evaluate risk, and determine whether there is a need for continued vaccinations.   Consider blood tests in lieu of vaccinations to determine protection levels.  For a comprehensive overview of feline vaccinations, click here.

Life with an older cat is a joy that is to be savored, and following these guidelines should help you keep your feline companion happy and healthy well into her golden years.

Happy Birthday, Peaches!

Ask the Vet with Fern Crist, DVM

Did you miss last night’s Ask the Vet teleseminar with Dr. Fern Crist?  If so, you missed a fantastic hour packed with information every cat parent should know.  Dr. Crist answered questions about dental health, feline nutrition, anesthesia, and how to get your cat to loose weight.  But not to worry!  You can still listen to the interview by clicking on the link below.   You can also save the recording to disk so you can listen to it on the media player of your choice by right clicking on the link, and then selecting “save target as” (for PC’s) or “save link as” (for Mac’s).

Thanks to everyone who joined us on the call, and for asking such great questions!

Ask the Vet with Fern Crist, DVM

Book Review: Almost Perfect, Edited by Mary A. Shafer

Almost Perfect – Disabled Pets and the People Who Love Them, an anthology of eleven stories of animals with special needs edited by Mary A. Shafer, is more than just a collection of heartwarming pet stories.   I’ve always believed that animals come into our lives to teach us, and the lessons from these wonderful animals with often seemingly insurmountable challenges and their compassionate human caretakers are truly inspirational.   You will learn about courage from a blind Huskie mix who trades the horrible life of a puppy mill for living on a farm.  You will be inspired by the grace with which a paralyzed tuxedo cat finds moments of joy each and every day.  You will be amazed by a Labrador-Doberman mix with a devastating muscle wasting disease who gives new meaning to the term “roll with the punches.” 

These wonderful stories will remain with you long after you’ve read them.  They will delight and inspire you.  You will laugh, and you will cry, and you will get a better understanding of why caring for a disabled pet can be immensely rewarding.

The Conscious Cat is delighted to present  a teleseminar titled Inspired and Inspiring – The Rewards and Challenges of Living with Disabled Pets.  On Tuesday, May 11 at 8pm Eastern,  Mary Shafer will join Barbara Techel, the author of Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Dog and Frankie the Walk ‘n Roll Therapy Dog Visits Libby’s House to share how their disabled pets have enriched their lives in ways they never could have imagined.  You will get an opportunity to ask questions or share your own stories.  The seminars are free, but long distance phone charges may apply.  To participate in the conference, simply dial 1-712-432-3100.  When prompted, enter conference code 674470

Mary and Barbara are offering autographed copies of their books to one lucky winner each.  If you’d like to be entered into the drawing for the books, you will need to register for the seminar here.

FTC full disclosure:  this book was sent to me by the publisher.

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