Month: September 2010

Two Special Adoptable Cats

Petfinder and BlogPaws have joined paws to designate the week of September 19 through 25 as “Adopt-a-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week. ”  There are so many factors that can make a pet harder to adopt:  age, disability, special medical needs, even coat color (black dogs and cats are known to be more difficult to adopt out than other coat colors).  Be The Change for Pets, a movement created by the passionate BlogPaws community, issued a challenge to pet bloggers to champion some less adoptable pets this week.   I don’t particularly care for the term “less adoptable pet,” I think it does these wonderful animals a disservice to be labeled in this way.  I much prefer to call these pets “special adoptable pets.”

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Coco Chanel and Dakota (aka Cody).  Both are being fostered through Fancy Cats Rescue Team, a Herndon, Virginia based leader in the Washington DC area animal rescue community for twenty years.  Fancy Cat Rescue Team’s mission is to end needless euthanasia at shelters in the National Capital area by rescuing and finding suitable lifetime homes for our cats, promoting spaying and neutering, and educating the public on responsible pet ownership.   Coco Chanel and Dakota are fostered by one of the many dedicated FCRT volunteers.

Coco Chanel is a beautiful, sweet (maybe a little misunderstood) 10 year old, brown tabby, with dazzling emerald eyes.  She is white- mitted and bibbed and has a purr motor that she revs up for you when you sit on the couch with her.  When her foster family gets home from work, she is the first one meowing her greetings and asking for some love and attention. She loves to have her neck scratched, and likes to place her two front paws on your lap while you coo and talk to her, telling her about your day.  When she is really happy and wants attention, she will bury her head in your arm or leg.  She loves to play with her favorite toy (Da Bird).

She loves to lie around and will frequently strike the most adorable poses.  She is a true creature of habit and is extremely easy to care for.  All she longs for is some love and attention, maybe a little play time every now and then, and someone who is willing to be just a little patient.  She has been with Fancy Cat Rescue Team for over two years and in her current foster home for nearly a year.  She is a sweet girl who keeps getting passed over.  Since she gets easily stressed, she isn’t able to attend adoption fairs.  She needs someone willing to earn her trust and meet her on her terms.

She has a history of urinary infections but has never displayed any inappropriate litter habits.  She is on a special diet to ensure there are no more flare ups.   She has only one canine tooth but it doesn’t affect her eating habits.   She needs to be an only cat – unfortunately she doesn’t tolerate sharing you with any other furry companions.  Her foster family suspects she may also have stress related asthma and may start coughing when she is put into a really stressful situation. She would do well in a nice, quiet, adults-only home.  You can find Coco Chanel on Petfinder here.

Dakota (aka Cody) is a stunningly handsome gray and white, declawed 8-year-old male Norwegian Forest Cat mix. Upon first meeting him, he might be just a little shy and reserved, but he warms up quickly. He was given up by his previous owners when their child developed allergies.  He and his brother Sunny (recently adopted) were sequestered to a part of the house away from the child.   Cody became very sad and missed his constant human companionship.

Cody was recently diagnosed with diabetes and has been started on a regular schedule of insulin injections. He has taken to them extremely well and has already fallen into a routine:  after eating, he promptly gets on his foster mom’s lap and begins to knead while he is given his treatment.

He is an extremely loving boy.  When he is really happy you can catch him doing the cutest “making bread dance” where he begins to knead with all four of his paws.  He likes to explore, but mostly just wants to be near you.  He likes to perch up in high places and to watch the action below. If you are looking for a snuggle buddy in bed, he is your guy.  He has been very tidy in the litter box.  He is just a little underweight, but has started to gain weight and should reach his ideal weight soon. As with all medium and long haired cats it is very important that he be brushed.  He actually loves being brushed so much he frequently even drools a little in delight from the attention.  He hasn’t been with any other cats except for his recently adopted brother, but if he is introduced slowly and properly he may get along with other cats just fine.  He is an extra sweet boy who is looking for his forever home.  You can find Cody on Petfinder here.

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Feline Pancreatitis

Guest post by Julio Lopez, DVM

Cats can be affected by inflammation of the pancreas known as pancreatitis. The pancreas is an organ in the abdomen located very close to the stomach, intestines and liver. The pancreas has multiple jobs that are very important to every day life. It produces insulin which is necessary for keeping the body’s blood sugar stable and it also produces important products necessary to properly digest food. When the pancreas becomes inflamed, the products that it makes to help digest food in the intestines are activated within the pancreas and the pancreas basically begins to “eat/dissolve” itself.

Usually the cause of pancreatitis in cats is not found. Some causes are believed to include trauma, infection and some medications. Chronic pancreatitis is more common in cats; the acute form occurs more commonly in dogs. Signs of pancreatitis are very nonspecific and can be hard to notice. 80-100% of cats have decreased energy/actvity, 87-97% stop eating and 54% are dehydrated. In contrast to dogs and humans, vomiting (35%) and abdominal pain (25%) are not common signs in cats. Other conditions that occur with pancreatitis include hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD-inflammation of the intestines), diabetes and inflammation/infection of the bile tract and liver.

Abdominal ultrasound is considered more useful than x-rays for the diagnosis of pancreatitis, and should be the next test performed if x-rays of the abdomen do not provide a definitive diagnosis. A recent new blood test (fPLI-feline serum pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity) is being used to identify cats with pancreatitis. The only way to definitively diagnose pancreatitis is via biopsy, but this procedure is expensive and requires general anesthesia in patients that may be at higher risk complications. By using a combination of clinical signs, blood tests and ultrasound, a strong suspicion that pancreatitis is affecting your cat can be attained.

If a cause for the pancreatitis is found, that cause must be treated. Other treatments are not directly targeted at the pancreatitis but more at helping the cat feel more comfortable and assist in balancing any secondary complications. This consists of providing intravenous fluids via a catheter to provide adequate hydration, electrolytes and blood flow to the pancreas. Medications that provide relief of nausea and vomiting as well as pain medications are given. In severe cases, protein levels drop and blood clots may form which require transfusions of plasma. Cats that have not been eating for a few days and do not begin to eat shortly after treatment is started may require a temporary feeding tube to be able to provide adequate nutrition. Cats that have inflammatory conditions of the liver/gallbladder (cholangiohepatitis) or intestines (IBD) may require steroids to decrease the inflammation. If infection of the liver or gallbladder is suspected antibiotics may be administered.

The prognosis is very variable, as some cases are more severe than others. Because pancreatitis in cats is usually chronic, other bouts of pancreatitis will most likely occur at some point in time. If enough pancreatic tissue is  damaged, secondary complications can occur. One is diabetes, as the insulin producing cells are damaged, and the second is exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, as the cells that make products that assist in digesting food are damaged. Sometimes the inflammation of the pancreas is so severe that the bile duct becomes obstructed.

Because cats hide disease so well, by the time they are showing signs they may already be very sick. It is important to remember that if you notice any non-specific signs such as lethargy or loss of appetite which do not improve after a day or two make sure you see your veterinarian. Pancreatitis may be only one of many possible diseases making your cat sick.

Dr. Julio Lopez practices at the world renowned California Animal Hospital Veterinary Specialty Group in West Los Angeles. He is a graduate of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.  You can learn more about Dr. Lopez on his blog, ExpertVet.

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Book Review: Careers for Your Cat by Ann Dziemianowicz

careers

Have you ever wished that your feline companions would get off the couch and contribute to your household budget?  Careers for Your Cat explores what might happen if your feline charges were to join the workforce.  Help your kitty take the Meowers-Briggs Personality Quiz, which is designed to provide an accurate self-assessment of your cat’s personality type.   Is she friendly or reserved?  Whimsical or serious?  Self-effacing or self-confident?   Knowing the answers to those questions will help your cat find a career path which will help him utilize his full potential.  Dziemianowics describes thirty-four career choices ranging from opera singer to landscape architect to marine biologist.  The book includes a section of tips for acing that all important job interview, highlighting such important hints as “keep your tail high,” “do not sit in your interviewer’s lap,” and “do not play with objects on the interviewer’s desk.”

Illustrated with utterly charming drawings by Ann Boyajian that made me smile and occasionally laugh out loud, this little book is a delightful, tongue-in-cheek fantasy of what the world would look like if cats were to head out into the nine to five world and leave their humans at home to relax and take those well-deserved cat naps.

Ann Dziemianowicz is a writer and feline career counselor who is dedicated to helping cats land their dream jobs. She lives with her husband in New Jersey.

Ann Boyajian is a former rock musician turned church choir director and book illustrator. She and her husband support two kitties in Massachusetts.

This book was sent to me by the publisher for review.

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Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Diet

Far too many cat parents accept occasional, or even chronic, vomiting and diarrhea as a fact of life with cats.  Cats just do that sometimes, don’t they?  Well, no.  Healthy cats don’t vomit on a regular basis, nor do they have diarrhea.  Chronic vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, and, if left untreated, can become life threatening.

The most common cause of gastrointestinal problems for cats is Inflammatory Bowel Disease.   Although cats of all ages can be affected, it is typically seen in middle-aged or older cats.  The term IBD is used for a number of chronic gastrointestinal disorders.  Physiologically, it is characterized by an infiltration of inflammatory cells into the lining of the digestive tract.   The location of the inflammation can help determine the specific type of IBD.

Symptoms of IBD

Symptoms most typically include chronic vomiting and diarrhea, but sometimes, constipation can also be a problem.  Some cats present with weight loss as the only clinical sign.

Diagnosis of IBD

To rule out other causes of gastrointestinal problems, your veterinarian will perform diagnostic tests that may include complete blood cell counts, blood chemistry, thyroid function tests, urinalysis, fecal analysis, abdominal x-rays, and ultrasound.  The most definitive way to diagnose IBD is through biopsies of small samples of the intestinal lining.  These samples can be obtained through endoscopy or abdominal surgery.  These procedures require general anesthesia.

Medical Treatment

IBD is usually treated with a combination of medical and dietary therapy.  Corticosteroids are used for their anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant properties, and they can also serve as an appetite stimulant.  However, steroid therapy carries serious longterm side-effects.

The Diet Connection

There are commercially manufactured diets available for the treatment of IBD, most of them containing so-called “novel proteins,” ie., proteins that the cat may not have been exposed to before such as rabbit, venison, and duck.  (We used to call them the “Disney diets” when I still worked at a veterinary clinic – Thumper, Bambi and Donald…).

However, increasingly, holistically oriented veterinarians are seeing a connection between diet and IBD.  These vets believe that commercial pet foods, especially dry foods, are a contributing factor to the large numbers of cats with chronic IBD.  They also discovered that many cats improve by simply changing their diets to a balanced grain-free raw meat diet.  Similar results may be achieved with a grain-free canned diet, but a raw diet seems to lead to quicker and better results.

Vomiting and diarrhea are not something you, and your cat, should learn to live with.  Take your cat to a veterinarian for a thorough physical exam.  After ruling out other conditions or diseases as causes, the solution might just be something as simple as changing your cat’s diet.

Photo by Kim Newberg, Public Domain Pictures

 

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Book Review: Murder Past Due by Miranda James

Murder Past Due is the first in the new A Cat in the Stacks series by Miranda James.  Set in Athena, Mississippi, it features librarian Charlie Harris and a very unique rescued Maine Coon cat named Diesel who, among other things, walks on a leash.

When bestselling crime fiction author and former classmate of Charlie’s, Godfrey Priest, returns to Athena to promote his latest book and make a bequest to his school library, Charlie is less than thrilled.  He remembers Priest as being an arrogant, manipulative jerk, and he’s not the only one.  Priest’s homecoming causes quite a stir in the small Southern town:  by lunchtime, Priest has put a man in the hospital, and by dinnertime, he is dead.  Since it seems as though every last one of Charlie’s friends and coworkers was connected to the murder victim, Charlie gets involved in the investigation into Priest’s murder.

I was drawn to this book by the irresistible cover, and I wasn’t disappointed.  This was an entertaining, well-crafted mystery with a likeable hero and interesting secondary characters, but what really makes this book is Diesel.  I feel in love with the big cat from the beginning.  What’s not to love!  Diesel is friendly, loves attention, walks on a leash, and warbles and chirps rather than meows.  And best of all, Diesel is all cat. He doesn’t talk, he doesn’t help solve the murder, he’s just a thoroughly lovable feline who is central to the story.  I’m looking forward to the next in this series.

Miranda James is a pseudonym for author Dean James, who also writes under the names of Honor Hartman and Jimmie Ruth Evans.

About the author

Book Review: Cleo – The Cat Who Mended a Family by Helen Brown

The cats’ day has finally come when it comes to pet memoirs.  A genre that used to be almost exclusively ruled by dogs has finally seen a number of wonderful cat memoirs.  It began with Dewey, the library cat.  Then came Homer’s Odyssey.  And there are many more, you can find several of them reviewed here.  And of course, there’s my own Buckley’s Story.  And now, there’s Cleo.  Helen Brown’s international bestseller, first published in New Zealand, Australia and the UK, was released in the US on August 31 by Citadel Press. 

From the publisher:

“We’re just going to look.”  Helen Brown had no intention of adopting a pet when she brought her sons, Sam and Rob, to visit a friend’s new kittens.  But the runt of the litter was irreristible, with her overlarge ears and dainty chin.  When Cleo was delivered three weeks later, Brown’s family had just been hit by a tragedy:  the loss of her young son, Sam.  Helen was sure she couldn’t keep Cleo at a time like this – until she saw something that she thought had vanished from the earth forever:  her son Rob’s smile.  The reckless, rambunctious kitten stayed.

What follows is a sweeping memoir of heartbreak, changes, new beginnings, and ultimately, happiness.   Cleo is the connecting thread through it all, holding Brown’s family together through devastating grief, illness, moves across continents, and other challenges life throws at them.  It will come as no surprise to cat lovers that one small cat is capable of what Cleo managed to do for the Brown family – she not only healed their hearts, but helped them find a way to integrate Sam’s loss into their lives in ways that honored his memory, but also allowed them to move on with their lives.  Brown’s writing is vividly descriptive and sometimes almost lyrical and poetic.  She transports us to the beauty of New Zealand as easily as she makes us fall in love with the small kitten with the big ears.  She makes us feel the unbearable pain of loss, and lets us breathe easier right along with her as her family begins to mend.

In addition to being a wonderful cat book, a beautiful memoir, and a spell-binding read that was hard to put down, it’s also a book about loss and grief, and how to cope with the almost unimaginable – the death of a child.  By sharing her own experience with great openness and sensitivity, Brown gives hope to others who are trying to cope  with life after loss.

This book goes on my list of best cat books ever – for me, it’s right up there with such classics as A Snowflake in My Hands and The Cat Who Came for Christmas.  Don’t miss this one.

Helen Brown was born and brought up in New Zealand, where she first worked as a journalist, TV presenter, and scriptwriter.  Now living in Melbourne, Australia, with her family, Helen continues to write columns for the New Zealand media.  You can find more information about Helen on her website.

Look for an interview with Helen Brown on The Conscious Cat on Wednesday.

I received an ARC copy of this book from the publisher.

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