The World Is Still Your Litter Box by Quasi, as typed by Steve Fisher, is a “how to” manual for cats, as dictated to Steve Fisher by Quasi, a lovable big white cat with a curious mind and a biting sense of humor. The book picks up where his first, The World Is Your Litter Box, leaves off, offering more wit and wisdom for cats on topics such as ways to annoy your human just for fun, what to do if your human puts you on a diet, and how to make sure your human keeps your litter box clean.
Quasi understands that humans, no matter how crazy they may be about cats (refer to the chapter on How to Tell if Your Human Is a True Cat Nut!), need a lot of guidance on how to truly appreciate, take care, and serve the needs of the cats who shares their lives. And who better to enlighten them then Quasi. This book will have you look at your own feline companions with greater understanding (and perhaps, a bit of trepidation, as you wonder what they’re cooking up behind those innocent looks they’re giving you…). From sharing 20 reasons why cats are smarter than humans to words and phrases that are not in a cat’s vocabulary (knowing these will save humans much time and frustration!), this book is not only the perfect gift for first time cat parents, but will have veteran cat lovers laugh out loud as they recognize their own feline companions in some of the pages.
This is a thoroughly delightful book for all cat lovers.
Quasi is a charming and intelligent 18-pound cat, white with baby blue eyes. Part Siamese, he has an extensive vocabulary and is not shy about using it to get what he wants. Although he admits to being slightly rotund, he will resoundingly hiss at anyone who calls him “fat.” Like all cats, Quasi possesses the wisdom of the ages and an overabundance of kitty cuteness. He lives in Burbank, California with his human, Steve, Steve’s female, Judy, and his recently arrived kitty compadres Bo Diddley and Piglet.
Steve Fisher, Quasi’s Co-Author and Typist, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to Southern California in 1980. At various points, he was a musician, a radio disc jockey and a record producer before finding his true path as a writer. In addition to helping Quasi with The World Is Your Litter Box and The World Is STILL Your Litter Box, Steve has written approximately 50 short stories and one yet-to-be-published novel. He “works” long hours at his computer and (according to Quasi) does not appear to have a real job. A confirmed cat nut, Steve lives in Burbank, California with his wife, Judy, and of course, Quasi, Bo Diddley and Piglet.
You can learn more about Quasi, Steve and their books on their website and their blog.
This book was sent to me for review by the author.
Many of the flea and tick treatments available today contain toxic chemicals that can be hazardous to pets and to people. Even when these products are used according to the manufacturer’s directions, these chemicals are not safe for pets or humans. The Environmental Protection Agency, in coordination with the Food and Drug Administrations Center for Veterinary Medicine, is pursuing a series of actions to increase the safety of spot-on products for pets. These actions are designed to help consumers use these pesticides safely. However, many pet owners prefer to not use these products at all and are looking for safer, more natural alternatives instead.
There are safer, natural ways to control fleas. They may require a bit more effort on your part, but isn’t that effort worth it if it’s safer for you and your pet?
Use a good flea comb with tightly spaced teeth. Comb your pet daily during flea season and drop any fleas you find into a bowl of soapy water to kill them.
Bathe your pet with a gentle shampoo such as oatmeal. You don’t need to use harsh flea shampoos – most of them have chemicals in them, which is what you’re trying to avoid by not using the pesticide spot-ons in the first place. Fleas tend to accummulate in bedding, so wash your pet’s bedding as well.
Vacuum thoroughly, including on and under furniture and in crevices and near baseboards. Discard the vacuum bag immediately after vacuuming to prevent fleas and eggs from reinfesting your home. Severe infestations may require professional steam cleaning.
Feeding a high quality, varied diet can help prevent fleas. A stronger diet leads to a stronger immune system, and it is believed that this can contribute to your pet being more resistant to fleas. Pet owners who feed raw or homemade diets have reported that their pets no longer have flea problems.
Maintain Outdoor Areas
Keep your grass mowed and keep shrubbery trimmed short in areas where your pet spends time. This will increase sunlight and dryness, which will help reduce the flea problem. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth in your yard to cut down on the flea population. Diatomaceous earth also makes a great natural pantry bug killer, it works for all insects. It’s reported to be safe around pets, but don’t sprinkle it directly on your pet. Be sure to use “food grade” diatomaceous earth only.
Natural Flea Control Products
There are numerous natural flea control products on the market, but not all of them are safe for pets. In particular, avoid using products containing essential oils such as Pennyroyal, Tea Tree or Citrus oils. None of these are safe to use around pets, especially around cats. Some manufacturers of essential oils claim that their oils are pure and safe to use around cats, but quite frankly, I wouldn’t take any chances on statements of that nature unless they’re backed up by research by an independent toxicologist.
If you’re using natural products to control fleas for your pets, please share with us what has worked for you in a comment.
Warning: Garlic is highly toxic to cats!
Editors Note: Multiple comments have suggested using garlic to prevent fleas. While it is true that fleas dislike the taste of garlic, it is highly toxic to cats. Garlic, as well as onions, shallots and chives, has been shown to cause damage to feline red blood cells which can result in hemolytic anemia and eventual death.
Cat House: My Love Affair With Cats is aptly subtitled, because the book is just that – the story of one woman’s lifelong love affair with her cats. From her first childhood cat Boots to the cats that help her through the loss of her husband and her own illness later in life, this book celebrates cats and all they bring to our lives. Dumbrava shares her cats, and her life, through stories ranging from camping trips with cats to travels to foreign countries with cats (one of her well-traveled cats, Tiger, takes Spain, and the hearts of the chamber maids at the hotel by storm, earning the nickname “El Tigrito”), to the challenges of life-changing moves with cats.
You will most likely recognize some of your own cats in these stories as the author shares her cats’ particular likes, dislikes, habits and antics. You will laugh out loud at Koala, the cat who washes her toys in the water bowl, much to the annoyance of one of her feline housemates. You will nod your head in recognition as Dumbrava tells us about favorite napping spots, bedtime rituals and her cats’ love of sunshine. You will cry as the author has to say goodbye to beloved cats. And of course I was particulary intrigued to get to know the tortie on the cover, aptly named Pinky after the pink streak on her nose.
Dumbrava wraps up this lovely collection of stories with a hearbreaking piece titled “The Shelter Cat” and a reflection on how a lifetime spent with cats has enriched her life – something that will resonate with every cat lover.
Lucille Dumbrava is a retired teacher/counselor whose love of cats and love of writing started when she was a child. Many of her stories about the cats in her life have been collected in a book entitled Cat House, now available from Amazon, Alibris , www.bookstandpublishing.com, and Northern California bookstores. You can also order directly from Lucille by e-mailing her.
This book was sent to me for review by the author.
As veterinary care for cats is becoming more and more sophisticated and as more cat guardians understand the importance of a lifetime of preventive care, cats live longer lives. But despite all of that, cats still get sick, and when they do, there are often numerous treatment options. However, some illnesses are considered terminal, and in the past, euthanasia was often the only option pet guardians would consider at that stage. An alternative to premature euthanasia that is garnering more attention in the world of pet care is hospice care.
Hospice care is about providing good quality of life
The definition of a terminal illness is an illness for which there is no cure. It is an active, progressive, irreversible illness with a fatal prognosis. Hospice care provides a loving alternative to prolonged suffering and is designed to give supportive care to cats in the final phase of a terminal illness. The goal is to keep the cat comfortable and free of pain, with a focus on quality of life and living each day as fully as possible.
The decision to stop treatment and begin hospice care can be made at any point in the progression of a terminal illness. Decisions may range from choosing to forego aggressive surgery after receiving a cancer diagnosis because of a poor prognosis, discontinuing chemotherapy or radiation because the cat is either not responding or is dealing with side-effects that are rapidly diminishing his quality of life, or discontinuing medications because medicating the cat is difficult or impossible for the cat owner. Rather than opting for euthanasia, cat owners may choose to provide hospice care for their cat.
Hospice care is not about giving up
Hospice care is not a last resort, and is not about giving up, or about dying. It’s about finding ways to live with a terminal illness, and it may actually involve providing more care and not less. The decision to provide hospice care should be made in conjunction with your veterinarian, who will become an integral partner in the process.
What does hospice care involve?
Hospice care involves the following:
Comfort: Provide clean, soft bedding with easy access to food, litter boxes, favorite sleeping spots and interaction with family members. Handle cats gently because many terminal medical conditions create discomfort and pain.
Nutrition and Hydration: Provide easy access to food and water. You may need to experiment with special foods to tempt ill cats. In addition to feeding a high quality, grain-free canned or raw (if you cat is immunocompromised, raw food is not recommended) diet, you may need to offer foods such as meat-based baby food (make sure that there is no onion powder in the brand you buy), tuna juice or flakes of tuna spread on top of the cat’s regular food, and slightly warming the food to increase palatability. Make sure the cat always has fresh water available.
Cleanliness: Sick cats may not be able to groom themselves. Assist your cat with this by gently brushing, and keeping eyes, ears, the area around the mouth and around the rectum and genetalia clean if she can’t do it by herself anymore.
Pain Management: Cats are good at hiding pain. Watch your cat for signs of pain – subtle signs may involve hiding, avoiding contact with family members, or changes in sleeping positions. Rarely will cats vocalize when they’re in pain. Work with your veterinarian to develop an appropriate pain control program for your cat.
Holistic Therapies: There are many non-invasive, gentle holistic therapies that can provide relief to terminally ill cats. Energy therapies such as Reiki, Healing Touch, Tellington Touch and others are particularly effective.
A time of peace for cat and human
Despite the logistic and emotional challenges hospice care presents for cats and their humans, it can also be a time of great peace and increased bonding with your beloved feline companion. It also allows for a gentle preparation for the impending loss for both cat and human. Diagnosis of a terminal illness does not have to be the end – it can be the beginning of a deepening, peaceful, final phase of life for both cat and human.
8 State Hurricane Kate, an old Australian Cattle Dog, was rescued in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. I met her at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, LA, where rescued animals were taken for care and shelter, almost three weeks after Hurricane Katrina. Her paperwork said that she was rescued from a rooftop nine days after Katrina, with no known ID or address. She was lost, down for the count, and quickly running out of options, so I decided to foster her. When we had to evacuate for Hurricane Rita, I drove 1,200 miles home to Minnesota with Kate in the back seat. We traveled through eight states, which is how she got her name. I listed her on Petfinder and went to great lengths to find out where she came from. I even posted this “Do You Know This Dog?” video on YouTube. Yet now, almost 5 years after Hurricane Katrina, I still don’t know what her life was like before August 29th, 2005. Somebody must still wonder what became of her.
Kate was a dog, but her story holds valuable lessons for cats and other animals as well. All that I learned from my journey with Kate inspired me to write the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, to keep all of my dogs’ information in one place, for daily use, travel, and emergencies. This book includes important information from Noah’s Wish, a group dedicated to taking care of animals in disasters. The following tips can help keep you and your pets safer and happier.
8 Things I Learned from 8 State Kate
1. Microchip your pet. We learned after Katrina how easily lost pets can lose their collars and ID tags. A microchip implanted under the pet’s skin is the only sure way to have permanent ID and to verify ownership. A microchip is a small electronic chip with a unique ID number, in a capsule about the size of a grain of rice. Once implanted, the chip is read by a hand-held scanner and the microchip company is notified of the ID number. You need to register your contact information with the microchip company so they can use the ID number to reach you. A microchip will only reunite you with your pet if the company knows how to reach you. You may also register the microchip and your information at http://www.petlink.net/, a 24-7 registry and recovery service. Even if your pet never leaves the house, I recommend a microchip. A flood, tornado, hurricane, or even a surprise bolt out the door can separate you. A cat that carries no other ID is especially vulnerable without a microchip. Some communities now offer single-fee lifetime licensing for pets that are microchipped.
2. Keep good pet records, including a current photo of you with your pet (to verify ownership) and photos of your pet’s unique identifying characteristics (markings, scars, etc.). Store your pet’s vet, food and medication records in one place (like the Not Without My Dogbook). Include information like the pet’s daily routine, words the pet knows, and other tips that would be useful to someone taking care of your pet in an emergency situation. Make sure a designated family member, friend or neighbor knows where your pet’s information is stored, in case something happens to you.
3. Make a disaster plan for your family and pets. Be aware of the most likely disasters in your area: floods, fires, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, chemical spills, etc. Be prepared to survive without outside assistance if you must stay in your home during a natural disaster. Prepare a disaster kit to meet the basic needs of your family and pets for three days or more. Store it in waterproof containers that are easily accessible. Know the local evacuation routes and where you will take your pets if you must leave your home. Do not leave your pets behind. Know how you will transport them and where you will go. Have plan A, B, and C destinations (emergency shelters for people most often do not allow pets). http://www.petswelcome.com/, and http://www.pet-friendly-hotels.net/ may provide helpful information, but remember that hotels may fill quickly in a disaster situation. Does your family, including pets, fit in one vehicle? If not, how will you transport everyone to safety? Do you have carriers, leashes, and harnesses for all of your pets?
4. Have a family communication plan in case a disaster occurs while you’re separated at work and school. Know where your family will meet if you can’t reach each other by phone. If all family members are away from home during the day, identify a neighbor or petsitter who will get to your pets quickly if they need help. It’s better to ask for help now than to be without a plan.
5. Make sure your pets are properly vaccinated and treated for fleas and ticks, and on heartworm preventative. Healthy pets are better prepared to survive anything, including possible displacement, and housing with other animals. Accepted vaccination protocols are changing and some over-the-counter flea and tick treatments are not approved by veterinarians. Do your own research and decide what is best for your pet.
6. Train and socialize your pets. A positively trained pet will be more comfortable and less likely to get lost. Socialize dogs and cats so they’ll be confident (not fearful) in different situations. Make sure your pets are comfortable riding in their carriers in the car and know how to walk on a leash/harness. Teach your pets to wait before jumping out of the car (after a pause, give them a treat). You may think that you can’t train a cat. But I used to have a cat that came when I called “Come get a fishy treat!” because I always produced a “fishy treat” when she arrived (ok, maybe she was training me!). This trick can help you find a pet that’s hiding under a foundation or lost in the neighborhood.
7. Tune in to your pets. They’re tuned in to you. Give them opportunities to do what they were bred to do. Help them relax and be confident. Appreciate them for who they are. The more connected you are to your pets, the better you will weather anything together.
8. Be resilient. An old girl who has lost everything can recover with dignity and grace, and be happy. Kate taught me this too.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is an often misunderstood condition. According to the Feline Health Center at Cornell University, the virus affects approximately 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats in the United States, with slighly higher rates in cats that are sick or at high risk for infection. FIV is a lentivirus, which means it moves very slowly, and it gradually affects a cat’s immune system. It is passed from cat to cat through blood transfusions and serious, penetrating bite wounds. FIV cannot be transmitted to humans.
There are a lot of misconceptions about this virus, and contrary to what many people believe, FIV cats can live long, healthy lives if cared for properly. My former office cat, Virginia, lived to be 14, despite her FIV positive status. This article hopes to dispel some of the myths surrounding this virus and provide a better understanding both for those who live with an FIV positive cat, but also for the many FIV positive cats in shelters and with private rescues who are looking for loving homes. The fact that a cat has the virus should not automatically eliminate her from being considered for adoption!
Myth: FIV can be spread through casual contact, such as cats sharing the same food or water bowls, or cats grooming each other.
Fact: FIV is transmitted primarily through deep, penetrating bite wounds. Casual, non-aggressive contact of cats living in the same household does not spread the virus. On rare occasions, the virus is transmitted from the mother cat to her kittens, usually during passage of the kittens through the birth canal, or when they ingest infected milk.
Myth: Cats infected with FIV show symptoms immediately.
Fact: Infected cats may appear normal for years. The only way to diagnose FIV is through a blood test. A positive test indicates the presence of antibodies. Since there is the possibility of false positives, veterinarians often recommend retesting, using a test with a different format. In kittens born to an FIV positive nursing mother, antibody tests will most likely show positive results for several months, although these kittens are unlikely to be infected. The kittens should be retested every two months until they’re six months old.
An infected cat may not show any symptoms at all, or his health may either deteriorate progressively,or show a pattern of recurring illness followed by long periods of good health. Once FIV positive cats become symptomatic, you will typically see poor coat condition, loss of appetite, fever, inflammation of the gums and mouth (gingivitis or stomatitis), chronic and recurring infections of various organ systems, persistent diarrhea, slow weight loss, and various cancers and blood diseases. Since all of these symptoms can be indicative of any number of other conditions, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian if you have an FIV positive cat. A case of “just not doing right” in a healthy cat that may resolve on its own in a day or two could be a precursor to a more serious condition in a cat with a compromised immune system.
Myth: There is no treatment for FIV.
Fact: While there is no cure for FIV, the disease can be managed by keeping FIV positive cats indoors, providing a healthy, balanced diet (due to the compromised immune system in these cats, raw feeding is not recommended), and regular, at least bi-annual veterinary check ups. Vigilance and close monitoring of health and behavior is even more important in these cats than it is in other, healthy cats.
Myth: Cats with FIV don’t live very long.
Fact: Many cats with FIV live well into their teens if they are receiving proper care and monitoring throughout their lives.
There is a vaccine available that is supposed to protect cats against contracting FIV, but the effectiveness is poorly supported by current research, and there is also a small risk of the cat developing sarcomas at the injection site. Additionally, cats will always test positive for FIV after receiving the vaccine, so if they become ill later in life, there will be no way to eliminate FIV from the diagnosis.
An FIV infection does not have to be a death sentence, and it is not necessary to get rid of a cat who tests positive. It also shouldn’t preclude adoption of an FIV positive cat.
As much as I love cat themed books, books about cats, and books by cats, it’s rare to come across one that I absolutely cannot put down. I started Allan Goldstein’s The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie expecting to be entertained. What I didn’t expect was that for the two days it took me to read it, I didn’t get much of anything else accomplished, so be forewarned – don’t start this book unless you know you’ll have a good chunk of uniterrupted time ahead of you!
Written from the perspective of an orange long-haired cat named DooDoo, The Confessions of a Catnip Junkie is the account of DooDoo’s six thousand mile journey across America. A self-confessed catnip addict, DooDoo lived with two much adored humans after having been abandoned by his mother in the backyard jungle of San Francisco. However, DooDoo has an adventurous streak. One day, a sudden impulse sends him into the wilds of San Francisco and beyond. After the initial thrill dissipates, he realizes that he is lost, and he wants to find his way home again. Never in his wildest dreams would he have imagined that it would take him a year, and that along the way he would encounter a subway cat named Rass who becomes his new best friend, help a homeless drunk find his way home, a minor league baseball player and a smalltown TV reporter find the big time, and a widowed pilot find peace.
DooDoo’s adventures will touch your heart while keeping you on the edge of your seat. Goldstein has an amazing ability to present DooDoo’s breathtaking adventures from a cat’s point of view, and at times as you may recognize your own tamed tiger’s antics in the pages. You will be routing for DooDoo and his sidekick, Rass, as they encounter one challenge after another. At times, I got so caught up in the action, I had to actually skip some sections to make sure that DooDoo and Rass were going to be okay and then go back to catch up on the missed details – I just couldn’t bear the suspense!
This is a wonderful, entertaining, touching and well-written book. If you’re looking for a fun, engaging summer read, you won’t regret picking this one up.
Allan Goldstein lives in San Francisco with his wife, Jordan, and a minimum of two cats. You can learn more about Allan on his website, allangoldstein.com. Doo Doo cat lived in San Francisco with the above family. He wants you to know he was as beautiful, loving and wild as described in these pages, and continues to be so in the eternity beyond. He considers Mr. Goldstein to be his faithful literary executor and will expect his cut of the royalties when they meet again.
Buckley was diagnosed with heart disease in February of 2007 and succumbed to the disease in November of 2008, so this is a topic close to my heart. A check up prior to dental surgery revealed a heart murmur, and a subsequent cardiac ultrasound showed that she had restrictive cardiomyopathy. As a result, I’ve experienced the challenges of caring for a cat with heart disease firsthand.
Feline heart disease is far more common than most cat owners realize, and it can strike any breed of cat at any age. What makes feline heart disease very challenging is the fact that cats rarely show the warning signs that are typical for heart disease, such as shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, coughing or weakness) until the disease is quite advanced.
For many cat owners, the first time they even learn that their cat has heart disease is during a regular check up, when their veterinarian may discover a heart murmur. Not every murmur is an indicator of heart disease, but it definitely requires further diagnostics, such as an ECG, or electrocardiogram, chest x-rays, and a cardiac ultrasound. These tests will show changes to the size and shape of the heart, whether there is fluid present in the chest, and abnormalities of the heart valves. A cardiac ultrasound can actually determine the degree of heart disease, not just the presence of it.
There are three types of feline heart disease.
HCM is the most common form of feline heart disease. The walls of the heart are thickened, reducing the amount of blood pumped out with each beat. As a result, the heart has to work harder. These changes in the heart can lead to leakage at the valves and development of a murmur. As the disease progresses, the heart can become so thickened that it cannot pump blood adequately. This usually results in fluid accumulation in the lungs. Typically, the age of onset is young adulthood, although it has been diagnosed in cats as young as six months old. It is most common in middle-aged male cats, but can be seen in either gender. There appears to be a genetic component as some breeds, especially Maine Coons, Ragdolls, Persians and American Shorthairs, seem to be predisposed to this condition. HCM is the most treatable form of heart disease.
DCM presents with an enlarged heart chamber and thinned heart walls, which means that the weakened heart cannot pump efficiently. This can cause fluid accumulation in the lungs and/or chest (similar to congestive heart failure in humans). This form of heart disease has become less common, because research a few years ago showed that a deficiency of taurine in feline diets was one of the main causes. Since then, most commercially manufactured diets for cats have been formulated with taurine.
RCM is a less common type of heart disease in cats. It is more difficult to detect, as many cats will have near normal echocardiograms, but their heart walls seem hardened and sometimes even form scar tissue. As a result, the heart becomes less efficient at pumping blood. This form of heart disease has a very poor prognosis.
Treatment of feline heart disease depends on the type of disease diagnosed and the severity of the condition. Therapy is geared toward supporting the strength of heart contraction and reducing fluid build up. Many of the medications used to treat feline heart disease, such as betablockers, diuretics, calcium channel blockers and vasodilators are the same medications used in the management of human heart disease. Dietary management may be part of the treatment.
Blood clots are a potentially deadly complication of heart disease. These clots can form when changes in the shape of the heart walls cause blood to move through the heart in an abnormal flow pattern, leaving stagnant spots were coagulation can occur. The vast majority of these clots lodge at the very end of the aorta, the biggest artery in the body, where it branches off to supply the rear legs and tail. When this happens, the affected cat will be literally fine one second and paralyzed the next. The pain is excruciating. This is a life-threatening crisis with a very poor prognosis for survival. It is a frightening scenario for any cat owner to contemplate. Medications such as aspirin or Plavix can help thin the blood to prevent clotting, but are not without side effects.
The outlook for a cat suffering from heart disease depends on many factors: age, form and severity of the disease, other health issues, and more. As with most diseases, early detection and intervention can be key.