Simple Energy Techniques for Happy, Healthy Cats

Did you miss yesterday’s teleseminar on Simple Energy Techniques for Happy, Healthy Cats with animal intuitive Lynn McKenzie? If so, you missed a wonderful seminar.  But not to worry! You can still listen to the seminar 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).

Simple Energy Techniques for Happy, Healthy Cats

During the call, Lynn talked about a grounding exercise for cats, and she is offering a complementary download of this exercise on her website at http://www.animalenergy.com/grounding.  

Our next teleseminar will be on Thursday, October 28 at 8pm Eastern.  Join us for another episode of  Ask the Vet.  Dr. Fern Crist, the Conscious Cat’s resident feline veterinarian, will answer your cat health questions.

Allegra’s World: Helping Mom

Hi everyone – it’s Allegra!  So, last time I wrote, I told you about my two jobs:  sheet changer assistant, and Assistant Reiki Practitioner Trainee.  Since then, I’ve gotten so much more mature that I’m now helping Mom with her chores, too!

I’m particularly good at helping her clean the house, if I do say so myself.  I help her clean the bathroom by jumping on the vanity and supervising as she wipes the mirror clean.  Then, when she’s finished, I get really close and press my nose against it to make sure she really got every little streak wiped away.  I don’t understand why she doesn’t think it’s helpful to have my noseprint on the newly cleaned mirrow as a kitten seal of approval – I think it looks rather cute!  When she’s done with the bathroom, it’s time to dust.  This is my favorite part of cleaning the house!   Mom uses this fierce-looking thing on a stick that she says is called a lambswool duster.  I jump and try to catch it as she moves it around, and when I do, boy, do I beat that beast into submission!   Wee!!!

When that’s all done, we get to the part about cleaning the house that I’m not all that crazy about.  Mom gets out “The Monster.”  There’s just no other word for it.  It’s a huge, scary looking contraption and I don’t like anything about it.  It has a long grey snake attached to it that moves around, and when I try to attack it, it doesn’t back down at all.  And it’s really loud!  Mom moves “The Monster” all over the house, and I try to be brave and stare it down, but I won’t let it get too close.  It might eat me!  It seems to eat everything else in its path.  I don’t understand why Mom needs to bring “The Monster” out once a week, I think our house looks just fine as it is.  However, it is kind of interesting how smooth the carpet looks after Mom puts “The Monster” away.  I can pounce around on it and my paws leave really fun patterns!  Wee!!!

By the way, Mom says to tell you that because of me, she uses cleaning products that are safe for me even if I do rub my nose in them like I do when I check the mirror.  I love her for always making sure things are good for me.

That’s all for today.  I hear my favorite mousie calling.

Adventures in Veterinary Medicine – Finding a New Vet

For the first time in over fifteen years, I find myself in a position of having to find a new vet for Allegra and any future feline family members, and I’m finding that it’s not an easy thing to do.  During the years I worked in veterinary hospitals, I always had an up close and personal knowledge of the vets who worked on Feebee, Amber and Buckley, from their medical skills and proficiency to their dedication and “bedside manner.”  I thought I’d never find better vets than the husband and wife team who owned the practice I managed for eight years.  Janet and Jack were the kinds of veterinarians you read about in James Herriot-style books. They were both completely dedicated to their profession. In addition to practicing exceptional, cutting edge medicine, they had elevated the art of compassionate care for their furry patients and their humans to levels that are rare even in a profession that is based on caring for animals.  There were many nights when, instead of leaving a sick pet at the practice overnight, they’d take him home and watch over him in their bedroom or bathroom.  Both of them loved their work, and they were always learning and growing in their fields.  They were a tough act to follow. 

When I left their practice to start my own business, I began looking for a new vet.  The clinic I had worked at was a forty-five minute drive from home, and neither Amber nor Buckley ever did well on the long drive.  I never thought I’d find someone as good as Janet and Jack.  And then I met Fern (some of you already know Fern from my book, from some of the articles she’s written for The Conscious Cat, and from our first Ask the Vet teleseminar).  Fern and I hit it off immediately.  Not only were her practice philosophies in synch with what I was looking for, she is the consummate cat vet, and one of the most brilliant people I ever met.  And even better, we became very good friends in a very short time.  Unfortunately, she recently had to make the difficult decision to retire, at least for the foreseeable future, from her beloved profession due to a family health problem.  While I am fortunate that she will always be available to me for advice or a second opinion, I still need to find a new vet, since she’s not currently affiliated with a hospital and can’t do much beyond basic physical exams without that affiliation.  As you might expect, with my background, my standards of what I expect in a vet are very high. 

I’ve previously written about how to tell whether your vet is cat-friendly, and how to choose the right vet for your pet.  One of the things I always stress when I talk to people about this subject is that I think it’s a good idea to make an appointment without your pet when evaluating a veterinary clinic.  By going to see potential vets without your cat, you will be more relaxed.  Ask for a tour of the hospital.  If you want to speak with a veterinarian, offer to pay for an office visit.  Most vets won’t charge you for this introductory visit, but it sets the right tone for a future relationship of mutual respect.  Come prepared with a list of questions.  Some of the questions I’ll be asking on my search are:

  • How many veterinarians are at the practice?
  • Will I always see the same vet?
  • Are there vets at the practice that specialize in working with cats, or that have a preference for working with cats?
  • Are they open to holistic modalities, even if they don’t practice them?
  • Are appointments required?
  • How are emergencies handled?
  • What is their policy for visiting hospitalized pets?
  • Are diagnostic services such as x-rays, blood work, ultrasound, EKG, endoscopy done in-house, or will they be referred to a specialist?
  • Do the veterinarians use VIN (the Veterinary Information Network)?  This is generally an indicator that they’re interested in pursuing continuing education and that they are staying on top of the latest developments in their profession.

I’ve narrowed my own search down to two hospitals – one of them a feline-only practice, which is what I would prefer, but it is further from home than I would like (about a half hour’s drive), the other a small animal practice with a terrific reputation much closer to home.  I’ll let you know which one I pick when it’s time for Allegra’s first check up.

Picture shows Allegra on the day I first met her, on an exam table at the veterinary clinic I adopted her from.

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.

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.

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.

Free Teleseminar: Simple Energy Techniques for Happy, Healthy Cats

Free Teleseminar
Tuesday, September 28 at 8:00pm Eastern
Simple Energy Techniques for Happy, Healthy Cats

Join us on Tuesday, September 28, at 8pm Eastern Daylight Time for a free teleseminar with Lynn McKenzie, an animal intuitive and founder of AnimalEnergy.com.  Lynn is a world leader in the field of teaching animal communication and animal energy healing. 

This is your opportunity to learn how you can do more for your beloved feline companions to help them through times of stress, discomfort and dis-ease. This teleseminar will teach you some very simple, and easy to do, energy techniques and healing modalities, that you can use to help your feline companions lead happier, healthier lives. It will include techniques that are designed to help with a variety of issues including behavioral, illness, and even emergency situations. You will be surprised at how simple some of these are, yet they yield such powerful results. This class is not intended to replace veterinary care.

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.

Allegra’s World

I want to thank everyone for the birthday wishes – I didn’t know I had so many friends out there! 

Things are changing around here now that I’m a big girl!  I have a lot of responsibilities now.  It’s not all play for me anymore! 

One of my newest jobs is to help Mom with changing the sheets.  I’m really good at it!  I help Mom take the old sheets off the bed by jumping from one corner to the other.  Then, when she throws them on the floor, I take a flying leap into the pile and rearrange it so it will be easier for Mom to pick up to take to the laundry room.  Before Mom puts the new sheets on, I jump back up on the bed and sit in the center of the mattress.  I try my best to get under the fitted sheet, but for some reason, Mom won’t let me.  So instead, I help make sure that it’s put on properly by pouncing on any wrinkles.  Trust me, it really helps to smooth them out.  I’m also a big help when Mom gets ready to put the pillowcases on.  I attack the case and beat it into submission so that it’s good and ready to be put on the pillow.  I know Mom really appreciates that.  I always look forward to when Mom gets ready to put on what she calls the duvet cover.  Looks like just a giant pillow cover to me, but I’ve come to understand that humans like to call things by fancy names even when a simple one would work just as well.  I try to get in between the comforter and the cover.  I don’t understand why Mom doesn’t think this is helpful – I’m just trying to make sure she does it right!  I love it when Mom gives the comforter a big shake, it sends me flying off the bed with some extra velocity – wee!!!  The very bestest part is when we’re done, and I just sort of sit on top of the comforter surveying the results of our hard work.  Mom pretends the bed monster has come to visit, and makes the comforter wiggle from underneath, and I pounce on the wiggly parts.  I let her think I really believe that it’s a monster, and not just her hand under the covers.  Sometimes it’s best to just humor humans.

My other, more important job is Assistant Reiki Practitioner Trainee!  Mom sees (human) clients in her Reiki room in our house.  (Oh, I love calling it “our house!”) She says  Buckley, who lived here long before I came, helped her with her Reiki sessions, and I want to help, too, but Mom says I’m not mature enough yet.  What’s this mature?  I’m one year old!  I’m a big girl!  Anyway, she says we have to start slowly.  She says I’m too rambunctious to be in the room during a Reiki session (there’s those big words again!), but I’m allowed to greet clients when they arrive, and they all love it!  Because I’m so cute, they all pet me and sometimes even pick me up and hug me when they first arrive.  I’m giving them kitty therapy!  After being exposed to my cuteness, they feel better right then and there, and they probably don’t even need the Reiki Mom does, but Mom takes them to the Reiki room anyway.  I don’t like that Mom then closes the door on me.  I would just sit quietly and watch if she let me in the room.  Okay, maybe I would start playing with the client’s purses.  Or pounce on their feet.  But what would the problem with that be?  So, I wait patiently right outside the door until the session is over.  Then Mom finally lets me in the room!  I love that!  The energy in the room always feels really good, and I get to rub up against the client and get more pets.  I love being Assistant Reiki Practitioner Trainee!

That’s all for today.  Between blogging, making beds, learning to be Assistant Reiki Practitioner, playing, and keeping an eye on things in our yard, I’m a busy busy girl, and it’s time for a nap!

The Conscious Cat Has a New Look!

The Conscious Cat got a facelift!  We’ve updated our look with a fresh new header that now includes Allegra and Buckley as well as Amber (seen above glaring at my laptop), who was the inspiration for The Conscious Cat.  We’ve changed things around a little, added a second sidebar, and increased the font to make it easier to read.

Let us know how you like our new look!

We’d like to thank our fabulous web designer, Nathan Landis, for creating this new look.

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.

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