cat care

Guidelines for Responsible Cat Care

black_and_white_cat

The American Veterinary Medical Association recently issued a set of Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership, stating that “owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations.” I think the AVMA is a bit behind the times with still using the term “owner” when it comes to pets. Most of us consider our cats part of the family, which is why I prefer the term “guardian” or even “pet parent.” But they do raise some interesting points in their guidelines. I won’t list all of them – you can read them for yourself if you’re interested – but I thought I’d highlight the ones I consider most important, especially for cats.

Commit to the relationship for the life of the cat

This one should be obvious, but sadly, it’s not. Cats are creatures of routine, and any change is traumatic for them. If circumstances don’t allow you to commit for the life of the pet, you may want to consider fostering instead.Continue Reading

What to Look For in a Cat Sitter

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Cats have a reputation for being independent, which often leads people to believe that they’ll do just fine on their own when their guardians have to go away for a few days. As long as someone comes in and leaves fresh food and water, that’s all they need, right? Nothing could be further from the truth.

Accidents happen. Your cat could stop eating while you’re gone, or become ill. Having a cat sitter visit at least once a day can avoid disaster. In addition to caring for your cat’s physical needs while you’re gone, a good cat sitter will also spend time playing with and petting your cat. This is especially important for only cats. You may think your cat is used to you being at work all day, but when you’re away, she won’t even have your company in the evenings and overnight, and you end up with a very lonely cat.

If you have a trusted friend who knows your cat well, and who doesn’t mind going to your house at least once a day during your absence, that may be a perfect solution. But if you don’t, or don’t want to impose on your friends, then a professional cat sitter is your best solution.Continue Reading

Review and giveaway: Your Cat: The Owner’s Manual by Dr. Marty Becker

Your_Cat_The_Owner's_Manual_Dr._Marty_Becker

When I look at cat care guides, I typically review them to see if they are something I would recommend to other cat owners. I’ve spent almost three decades either caring for cats, working with cats, or writing about cats. I spend a good part of each day educating myself about the lastest in cat health and cat care. I love to learn about cats, and I learn something new every day –  but I don’t expect to learn much I haven’t read or heard about before from a basic cat care book.

At the same time, I knew that Your Cat: The Owner’s Manual: Hundreds of Secrets, Surprises, and Solutions for Raising a Happy, Healthy Cat wouldn’t be just another cat care book. After all, it was written by America’s veterinarian, Dr. Marty Becker, the veterinary contributor to ABC’s Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show, and his writing partner, Gina Spadafori, a veteran journalist who has been writing about pet care for decades.Continue Reading

Pet Trusts: A Love Letter to Your Cat

pet-trust

Nobody wants to think about the unthinkable: something happens to us, and our cat won’t be taken care of. As responsible cat parents, we owe it to our cats to think ahead and make arrangments for our cats care in case of an emergency or death.

I am currently going through the process of updating my will, which includes a pet trust. A pet trust allows you to control how your cat will be cared for in the event of your death. You can name a guardian for your cat so she won’t end up at a shelter, and leave money for her care. Laws for pet trusts vary from state to state. As of 2012, 46 states have enacted pet trust laws. Be sure to consult with an attorney in your state once you’ve finalized arrangements.Continue Reading

Book review: Natural Flea Control for Cats by Liz Eastwood

 natural_flea_control_for_cats

Liz Eastwood is a writer, certified nutritionist, and the publisher of the Natural Cat Care Blog. Liz and I share the same views on a lot of things when it comes to cat care, which is why I was delighted when she told me that she had put together a small e-book titled Natural Flea Control for Cats Made Simple. I expected it to contain solid, well-researched information, and I wasn’t disappointed.

If you’re still using chemical flea products on your cat, please educate yourself about the dangers of these products, and about how to control fleas without chemicals.

Liz’s book offers a simple and safe method to keep these pesky parasites away from your cat. In her book, Liz will tell you how to

The Conscious Cat wins Certificate of Excellence

cat writers association

The Conscious Cat won a Certificate of Excellence in the Cat Writers’ Association’s annual contest! The contest showcases the very best in the feline field of professional writers, broadcasters, photographers and graphic artists. The Conscious Cat won in the “Website” category.

I also won Certificates of Excellence for three individual articles in the category of “Online Article – Health and General Care.” The winning articles are:Continue Reading

Book review and giveaway: Cat Calls by Jeanne Adlon and Susan Logan

Cat Calls Susan Logan Jeanne Adlon

Cat Calls: Wonderful Stories and Practical Advice from a Veteran Cat Sitter combines two of my favorite things in one book: cats, and New York City. Jeanne Adlon has been a cat sitter in Manhattan for thirty-five years, and has cared for hundreds of cats. I looked forward to reading her stories, which range from keeping cats kosher and feeding pampered felines out of Waterford goblets to wrestling a determined cat for the Thanksgiving turkey and playing ghost with a psychic cat. There’s even a story about the time John Lennon came into the pet shop Jeanne ran at the time to purchase the big cat tree out of the front window.Continue Reading

Book review: The Complete Cat’s Meow by Darlene Arden

The Complete Cat's Meow Darlene Arden

When I look at cat care guides, I typically review them to see if they are something I would recommend to other cat owners. After almost three decades of either caring for cats, working with cats, or writing about cats, I don’t expect to find much that I haven’t read or heard about before. And yet, I bought The Complete Cat’s Meow: Everything You Need to Know About Caring for Your Cat, because I knew that a cat care guide written by Darlene Arden would be special. I wasn’t disappointed.

Darlene’s wealth of knowledge, thorough research, and engaging writing style come through on every page. But even more than that, it’s Darlene’s love for cats that makes this book special, beginning with the introduction’s closing phrase “The Complete Cat’s Meow will…help your feline companions live longer, healthier, happier lives. In return, you will reap a boundless bounty of love and affection” to passages such as “open your heart and your home to a kitty and watch the love flourish.” One only has to look at the photo of Darlene with her cat Aimee on the back cover to know that Darlene isn’t just an expert on all things cat, she truly loves cats.

Reading this book is like a conversation with a good friend who loves cats as much as you do, but knows more about them than you do. The book covers newborn kittens, how to choose the right cat for you, how to prepare your home for your new kitty, understanding cat behavior, nutrition and health care. Darlene presents an extensive list of feline health concerns ranging from urinary tract disease to cancer to dealing with emergencies and surgeries. The book also includes a listing of popular breeds with detailed descriptions of their appearance and personality.

The two sections that really stood out for me are the ones on new kittens, and on how to choose the right cat for you. In the kitten section, Arden goes into great detail on how a responsible breeder raises kittens. At fist, I was a little skeptical about the emphasis on breeders in this section, because I’m not someone who would ever purchase a kitten, (nor does the author advocate this as the only way to bring a kitten into your life). I quickly realized that the author uses the example of how a responsible breeder raises a litter of kittens to illustrate how kittens are raised in ideal circumstances, such as being handled and socialized from a very early age, and not being separated from their mother until they’re at least 12 weeks old. In the section on how to determine which cat is right for you, the author carefully reviews all aspects that should be considered, from age to breed to coat length. I have not seen these two aspects of cat care covered this thoroughly in any other cat care guide I’ve read, and I read a lot of them!

This is not to say that the other sections aren’t covered with the same level of depth and attention to detail. Every section in this book provides excellent information. In addition, the book is beautifully illustrated throughout with black and white photos and some absolutely stunning full color photographs in the middle. It also features an exceptional resource guide.

If you’re only going to buy one cat guide, this is the one to get. The Complete Cat’s Meow is not only a great book for those who are new to sharing their lives with cats, it really belongs in every cat owners library.

Darlene Arden with cat AimeeDarlene Arden is an award-winning writer, lecturer and Certified Animal Behavior Consultant. She is the author of numerous books on pet care and  hundreds of articles and columns for all of the major cat and dog publications, as well as for newspapers and general interest publications. Darlene is passionate about helping animals live longer and better lives. For more information about Darlene, please visit her website.


I purchased this book.

Giveaway: Furminator Deshedding Tool

Of all the brushes and grooming tools I’ve tried, the Furminator Deshedding Tool still wins hands down when it comes to controlling shedding in cats.  In fact, it removes so much hair that I remember being a little worried I might wind up with a bald cat the first time I used it on Amber a few years ago.

And now, Furminator has gone “deluxe” – redesigned with a new, sleek ergonomic handle and a  FURjector button that will release fur from the blade, but retaining all the same functionality of the original, it still removes undercoat and loose hair like nothing else on the market. 

I’m giving away one Furminator for Cats to one lucky winner.  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 Saturday, May 14.

Thanks to the folks at Furminator, Inc. for making this giveaway possible as part of National Hairball Awareness Day. For more information on the cat product, click here. Winner will be asked to specify size of cat and whether they want the tool for long or short-haired cats.

You may also enjoy reading:

There’s no such thing as “just a hairball”

Some startling new thoughts on cats and hairballs

Who Will Care For Your Cat If You Can’t?

grey cat

Nobody wants to think about becoming ill, incapacitated, or dying, but as responsible cat parents, we owe it to our cats to think ahead and make arrangements for their care when we can’t be there to take care of them anymore. There are a number things you can do to ensure peace of mind not just for yourself, but for family and friends who may not know what to do in the event of your death or any other emergency.

Designate a caretaker

Find one or two responsible friends or relatives who will agree to take care of your cat if something unexpected happens to you. Ideally, these will be people who know your cat, and who your cat is familiar with. Provide them with keys to your home, and make sure they know your cat’s basic routine when it comes to feeding and care. Make sure they have your veterinarian’s contact information.  Another option for this may be your trusted cat sitter, but be sure to make arrangements for their fees to get paid out of your estate.

Discuss your expectations

When choosing a caregiver for your cat, thoroughly discuss your expectations with that person. Do you expect them to give your cat a permanent home, or do you want their help to care for your cat temporarily while they find a new home for her? Remember that this person will have complete control over your cat’s care, including making decisions about veterinary care, so make sure that you choose someone you trust to make the same or similar decisions to what you would choose. Always have an alternate caregiver, and stay in touch with both the primary and alternate caregiver periodically to ensure that the arrangements you made are still valid. Peoples’ lives change, and while someone may have been the ideal caregiver at one point, circumstances may prohibit them from being available if and when the time comes.

Consider a humane organization

If you can’t find an individual to help, you can consider a humane organization, but be aware that most organizations do not have the room or the funds to care for your cat, and they certainly can’t guarantee that your pet will find a new home. There are a few organizations that specialize in caring for pets of deceased owners, but it’s probably never an ideal situation. Your cat was used to living in a home, with all the love and attention that comes with that, and ending up even with the best of these types of organizations will most likely be extremely stressful for most cats.

Legalize the arrangement

Once you have found one or two potential caregivers, legalize the arrangement. There are a number of options, including wills and trusts, and which is right for you will depend on your situation. Requirements will vary by state. Trusts are  becoming more popular because they allow you more control over how your pet will be cared for. The goal is to end up with a legal document that provides for continued care for your cat either on a permanent basis or until a new home is found for him. The arrangements should include authorizing sufficient funds from your estate to care for your cat temporarily, as well as cover costs to look for a new home. Keep in mind that it can take weeks or even months to find an appropriate new home for cats, especially if they are older or have special needs, so be sure to allocate sufficient funds.

Your best bet is to consult with an attorney about the legal aspects of the arrangement. There are also numerous online services available that provide low-cost help to set up standard legal documents. I used LegalZoom for a number of documents such as my will, power-of-attorney, medical directive, and more, and I’ve been pleased with their services.

If you already have legal documents in place to care for your cat, remember to review them periodically to ensure that they will still meet your cat’s needs.

Additional considerations

There are a few other things you can do to ensure continued care for your cats in the event that something happens to you:

  • Carry a wallet alert card with contact information for your emergency care givers.
  • Make sure that emergency care givers know how to contact each other.
  • Post emergency contact notices inside your front door. Include favorite hiding places for your cats on this listing – depending on your cat’s temperament, he may be scared when a stranger enters your house.

This is the kind of thing that none of us want to deal with, but once you’ve put these arrangements in place, you won’t have to worry about your cats ending up at a shelter, or worse, euthanized, because there were no other options.