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Being treated like royalty comes naturally to cats. Most of us have been trained by our feline family members to be their loyal servants and cater to their every whim. If there’s ever a question about who’s really in charge, cats are quick to remind us that it’s certainly not us!Continue Reading
Cats are fastidious about keeping themselves clean and it’s rare that a healthy cat emits a bad odor. A healthy cat has no distinguishable smell. If your cat demonstrates a bad odor, this may be an indicator of an illness, and should be cause for concern.Continue Reading
Cats are good for your health. The Chicago Tribune recently reported that a 10-year study at the University of Minnesota Stroke Center found that cat owners were 40 percent less likely to have heart attacks than non-cat owners. According to research discussed in this news report, people with pets save the Australian health service about $880 million per year and save Germany about $6.6 billion per year.
There is much information out there about how to live healthier on the internet, in books, and on television, but you may have one source of healthier living much closer than you think: your cat. I’m all about learning from our cats when it comes to living a conscious, happy life, so why not learn from them when it comes to our physical health?Continue Reading
Do you think you know the five most common cat diseases? The findings in Banfield Pet Hospital’s State of Pet Health 2012 Report may surprise you.
The report captured and analyzed data from nearly 430,000 cats in 43 states over a period of five years. The driving force behind the study was a commitment to preventive care and early diagnosis. In addition to collecting medical data, the report also identified pet owner perceptions. For this part of the report, Banfield polled more than 1,000 cat owners in the United States.
The report also captured date from more than 2 million dogs. This discrepancy in cat vs. dog numbers highlights the prevalent trend that dogs get far more attention when it comes to medical and health studies than cats do. According to pet journalist Steve Dale, for every dollar devoted to cat health research, five to ten dollars are devoted to feline research.
The American Veterinary Medical Association and the CATalyst Council are celebrating Happy Cat Month this September. Of course, here at the Conscious Cat, every month is Happy Cat Month – after all, that’s what we’re all about: “conscious living, health and happiness for cats and their humans!”
None of us here have to be convinced of the benefits of living with cats, but did you know that studies show that people who live with cats have a 40% less chance of having a stroke or heart attack? Of course, cats bring so much more into our lives than just health-protective benefits, and in return for making us happy, we all do everything we can to keep our cats happy.Continue Reading
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 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.
Allegra and I are getting mother daughter pedicures today. I’ll be going to my local nail salon. Allegra’s nail technician makes a house call. Yes, I admit it: despite trimming countless cats’ nails as a veterinary assistant, and educating clients on how to do it, I can’t trim Allegra’s nails without having someone help me.
Cats’ nails, especially when they’re kittens, are very sharp, and they don’t just hurt when they’re used on you, they can also damage furniture and carpet. Having plenty of scratching posts and training your cats to use them will help with that aspect, but keeping cats’ nails trimmed is important for other reasons. Cats’ nails grow very fast, and if not trimmed, can grow into the pads of the paws, which is a very painful condition that will require veterinary attention.
How to Trim Your Cat’s Nails:
1. Start when they’re young
The time to get your cat used to having her nails trimmed is when she’s a kitten. Play with her paws, squeeze the paw pads, touch the nails, but stop as soon as the kitten fights you or starts to bite at your hand. Eventually, as the kitten gets used to having her paws handled, you can start using nail trimmers especially designed for pets.
2. Use the right tools
Do not use scissors, they can split your cat’s nails. You’ll also want to have some styptic powder on hand in case you cut the nails too short and make the quicks bleed. If you don’t have styptic powder, a black (caffeinated) tea bag applied with gentle pressure works equally well.
3. Go slow
To avoid cutting the quick, clip only the tip of the nail; when in doubt, err on the side of caution and take off less than you think you can. You’re better off doing more frequent nail trims than making it a painful experience your cat will dread every time she sees you bringing out the nail clippers. You may only be able to do one or two nails at a time – always stop when the cat starts resisting or struggling.
Alternatives to Trimming Your Cats Nails the Traditional Way
If you’ve tried the desensitization approach and your cat still won’t let you trim her nails, there are several options. You can try wrapping your cat in a towel (the kitty burrito approach), exposing one leg at a time. You can get someone to help you, so one of you can restrain the cat while the other person trims the nails. Make sure that your helper knows how to properly and safely restrain a cat. And of course, you can also take your cat to your veterinary clinic for her pedicure.
An alternative to nail trims are soft nail caps that are glued onto the cat’s claws so they can’t do any damage when the cat scratches. You can do this yourself, or have it done at your veterinary clinic. I’m not a fan of these nail caps. The cat’s paws will still have to be handled to apply the caps, and nails have to be trimmed prior to application, so if you’re able to do that, then why not just trim the cat’s nails, period. Additionally, once the caps are on, cats won’t be able to retract their claws, and I can’t imagine that feels very good to them.
I tried the desensitization approach described above with Allegra when I adopted her at seven months old – with very little success. She was a play biter and touching her feet only encouraged her to bite. I was using multiple behavior modification methods to get her to stop biting, and I realized I was pushing my luck trying to get her used to nail trims until I had addressed her other issues. So for now, a friend helps me, and nail trims take 30 seconds for all four paws. There are plenty of treats afterwards (for Allegra, and for my friend, too).
How do your cats feel about having their nails trimmed?
None of us want to think that our cats might be in pain. And no responsible and caring cat owner would refuse to provide his/her cat with pain relief. However, pain is not always as easy to recognize in cats as one might think.
Recognizing Feline Pain
It makes sense, from a logical perspective, that if your cat has just had surgery or is recovering from an injury, he is likely to be painful. But how can a cat owner evaluate how much pain the cat is experiencing?
And what about chronic pain? Do you think you would easily recognize that your cat is suffering from arthritis? It is estimated that as many as 80-90% of senior cats show radiographic evidence of arthritis. However, very few cat owners recognize that their older cat may actually be painful from arthritis. Worse, many veterinarians overlook this possibility as well.
One of the problems in evaluating feline pain is that cats are so good at masking their symptoms. If your cat is experiencing a great deal of pain, it may be immediately obvious to you. However, especially in more chronic diseases like arthritis, the signs of pain may be very subtle and difficult to spot even for the most observant of cat owners.
What are the signs that you may see if your cat is painful?
Crying or vocalizing
Inability to sleep or rest comfortably
Soiling outside the litter box
Seeking extra attention
Experiencing pain when handled or held
Licking or chewing at the painful area
Lack of appetite
A sudden or gradual change in behavior
The Importance of Treating Pain in Cats – Why Is Pain Control Important?
Of course, the obvious answer is that you should manage your cat’s pain because pain hurts. However, the problem actually goes much deeper than that. Being in pain will not only cause discomfort for your cat, but it can also have a deleterious effect on your cat’s health.
Pain can adversely affect your cat’s body by causing stress and resulting in a number of physiological changes. Ultimately, pain can delay wound healing, can affect major organ systems (such as the muscles and kidneys), can alter your cat’s ability to metabolize nutrients and can inflict emotional damage on your cat.
In the worst case scenario, pain can cause a cat to become so unresponsive and so depressed that a decision to euthanize may be reached erroneously assuming that the cat’s condition is not improving and is beyond hope.
If there is any doubt about whether your cat is in pain, some form of pain management is in order.
Methods to Control Pain for Your Cat
There are many different ways to treat pain and the solution for your cat will depend on your cat’s individual situation and health.
In most cases, pain control should be multi-faceted, involving more than one form of pain medication or pain control technique. In this way, drug doses can often be reduced to safer levels and different parts of the “pain cascade” can be targeted, resulting in more effective pain control.
Some of the drugs commonly used in controlling pain in cats are:
Butorphanol (very short acting pain relief)
NSAIDS (such as meloxicam) – the use of these drugs is controversial in cats
Other forms of pain control that may be used in cats include:
These forms of pain control can be coupled with pain medications to provide more complete pain relief. In addition, pain medications can often be used in tandem also. For instance, buprenorphine may be combined with an NSAID to assure adequate pain control.
A note about aspirin and acetaminophen is warranted here. These drugs are not generally used for pain control in cats and should never be given unless advised by your veterinarian to do so. Aspirin does have some uses in cats but the dosage strength and dosing interval is much different in cats than in people. Acetaminophen and aspirin both have the potential to be toxic to cats. Both of these drugs can cause fatal toxicities.
By recognizing that cats suffer pain in much the same way humans do and being able to recognize the signs of pain in your cat, you will be better prepared to determine if your cat requires pain control. Providing adequate and complete pain control will not only make your cat more comfortable, but it will also help your cat heal faster and keep him healthier.
Lorie Huston has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 20 years. Besides a successful career in a busy small animal hospital in Providence, RI, Lorie is also a successful freelance writer specializing in pet care and pet health topics.
Cats are living longer than ever before. More cats are being kept exclusively indoors, thus avoiding many of the health risks encountered by outdoor cats. More and more cat owners are understanding the importance of a healthy, species-appropriate diet as a foundation for good health. Advances in veterinary medicine now allow cat owners to pursue sophisticated treatments for diseases that would have been a death sentence in the past. But older cats (most commonly defined as cats age seven and older) have special needs when it comes to maintaining their health.
Amy Shojai’s Complete Care for Your Aging Cat was first published in 2003 and quickly became the “old cat bible.” However, seven years is a long time when you’re talking about health related topics. This newly released edition has been updated to reflect changes in veterinary medicine and includes a wealth of resources about treatment options, products and research, complete with links to websites when appropriate. The e-book version of the book includes hotlinks to relevant information.
This book is an invaluable resource for cat owners. Shojai covers basic information on how age affects your cat’s body in great detail. She explains how to look for changes that might signal health problems in older cats (for an excerpt, read Amy’s guest post Caring for Your Older Cat). She discusses home nursing care to help older cats through various health issues, and presents advanced care options and how to make informed choices, including a section on making end of life decisions which is presented with great sensitivity, yet covers all the facts a cat owner needs to know when faced with this difficult choice.
The most valuable section of the book is the extensive and comprehensive listing of feline health conditions, ranging from arthritis to heart disease to kidney failures. Each section provides information on symptoms, reducing risk, and treatment options. I read a lot of cat health books,and I have yet to find another one that is as well organized and easy to use as a reference guide as this one.
But it’s not all hard facts and information. Each section of the book contains a “Golden Moments” segment, which contains heartwarming stories of real cat owners who share their lives with older cats and are continuing to enjoy life while dealing with typical issues common for senior cats. These touching, and often inspirational stories make this book more than just a reference guide.
I loved almost everything about this book. The one area that didn’t resonate with me was the author’s take on nutrition. Pet nutrition is a controversial subject. While the material is as well-researched and well-documented as the rest of the book, Shojai’s recommendations focus on senior diets and prescription diets. I’ve written extensively about feline nutrition and won’t belabor the issue here. You can read more about why I don’t believe these diets are the best choice for cats of any age here.
Even though I disagree with the author’s recommendations in this one area, I nevetheless highly recommend this book to all cat owners, regardless of how old your cat may be. This is a must read for anyone who wants to keep their cats happy and healthy well into their golden years.
Amy Shojai has generously offered to give away one copy of this book to one lucky winner. If you’d like a chance to win the book, please share your story of your senior cat, or a friend’s senior cat in a comment. The contest will run until Friday, December 10. Share the contest on Facebook and Twitter and include the link in a separate comment for an extra chance to win. Winners will be able to choose between an autographed hard copy of the book, or an e-book.