cat health

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.

Trim Your Cat’s Nails the Right Way, and Nobody Gets Hurt

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.

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.  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.  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.

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?

Pain management for cats

Guest post by Lorie Huston, DVM

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
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Inability to sleep or rest comfortably
  • Soiling outside the litter box
  • Seeking solitude
  • Seeking extra attention
  • Experiencing pain when handled or held
  • Licking or chewing at the painful area
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • 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:

  • Tramadol
  • Buprenorphine
  • Butorphanol (very short acting pain relief)
  • NSAIDS (such as meloxicam) – the use of these drugs is controversial in cats
  • Gabapentin
  • Amitryptiline
  • Amantadine

Other forms of pain control that may be used in cats include:

  • Acupuncture
  • Massage
  • Laser therapy
  • Hydrotherapy

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. 

Photo by Kim Newburg, Public Domain Pictures

Book Review and Giveaway: Complete Care for Your Aging Cat by Amy Shojai

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.

Amy Shojai is a nationally known authority on pet care and behavior, and the award-winning author of nearly two dozen nonfiction pet books, including Complete Kitten Care and Complete Care for Your Aging Dog.  She can be reached at her website http://www.shojai.com

Caring for your aging cat

Guest Post by Amy Shojai

Older cats that become ill typically try to hide how they feel. They also tend to become more seriously ill more quickly, and take longer to recover. “The earlier we see these animals, the more we can do something for them,” says Sheila McCullough, DVM, an internist at the University of Illinois. It is vital to pay attention to your cat as she ages, to catch problems before they turn serious.

A good way to keep in mind the special needs of your aging cat is simply to use the acronym L.O.V.E.  That stands for Listen With Your Heart; Observe for Changes; Visit the Veterinarian; and Enrich the Environment.

Listen With Your Heart

Never discount that odd “feeling” that something’s different, not right. Listen with your heart and your cat will shout louder than words how she feels. That’s when you make the extra visit to the veterinarian and explain your concerns. “It’s more of an intuitive thing,” says Susan G. Wynn, DVM, a holistic veterinarian in private practice in Atlanta. Because of the love and close relationship you share, you have an advantage when it comes to “knowing” when something’s wrong.

A change in behavior is the number one way your cat tells you she’s feeling bad from either a physical problem or an emotional upset. Changes in behavior may be sudden and obvious, or may develop slowly and subtly over time.

Think of these changes as a feline cry for help. You need to have a good grasp of what’s normal for your cat in order to be able to recognize this shift in the status quo. That includes regularly observing your cat for changes.

Regular veterinary visits are a must. Any time you have an intuitive feeling or a more concrete observation that something’s not quite right, validate your concerns with a veterinary visit.

Finally, the environment your cat lives in impacts everything about her. When she begins to age, you have to make appropriate enrichments to her nutrition, exercise, grooming needs, and home life. Don’t forget to enrich her mind as well as her body. Follow the L.O.V.E. plan to keep her healthy and happy throughout her golden years.

Observe for Changes: Home Health Alerts

 Healthy aging cats see the veterinarian only a couple of times a year. You live with her every day, and you know your cat best. In almost all cases, you will be the first to notice when something is wrong.

Close proximity to your pet allows you to immediately notice any changes that can point to a potential health problem. The major disadvantage to this closeness is that you may overlook subtle changes, or those that have a slow, gradual onset. Veterinarians call sudden problems “acute” and those are the easiest for owners to spot. But conditions that develop slowly over a long period of time, called chronic problems, are more insidious. Changes of a chronic nature creep up on you, day by day, in such small increments that you aren’t likely to notice anything’s wrong. By the time a problem becomes obvious, the disease may have been simmering for months or even years, and the damage may be permanent.

The classic emergency I see is the 12-year-old cat that is feeling badly, and deteriorated over the last 24-48 hours,” says Steven L. Marks, BVSc, an internist and surgeon at North Carolina State University. “The assumption is that the pet has become sick in the last two days when in fact, chronic renal failure has been going on for months and maybe years. Now the body can’t compensate anymore and the pet’s suddenly sick and it’s an emergency.”

One of the best ways to stay on top of things is to create a log of your cat’s normal behaviors. A home health report card provides you with baseline measures against which to compare even the subtle changes in your cat’s health. For example, monitor how much your cat weighs. “Even a small amount of weight loss, an ounce or two, will really catch my attention in an elderly cat,” says Susan Little, DVM, a feline specialist in Ottawa, Canada. Should your cat at some point in the future be diagnosed with a particular condition, a home health report card also can help you measure how well the treatment works. That in turn helps the veterinarian make informed decisions if adjustments to the therapy are needed.

Once you have your list and a benchmark description of “normal,” review the home health report card on a monthly basis to check for any behavior or physical changes. If your cat has been diagnosed with a disease for which she’s receiving treatment, a weekly or even daily check to monitor changes may be better. 

Behavior Cues

Generate a list of as many of your cat’s normal behaviors as possible. The categories will vary somewhat from cat to cat. Be as specific as possible. Examples of categories follow, but don’t limit yourself to my suggestions. If your cat gets in the sink every day, for example, or enjoys chasing the dog, include that as a category and describe her routine. Any changes to routine might indicate a health concern that needs attention. For instance, if she wakes you every single day at five and then suddenly lets you oversleep, perhaps her joints hurt too much from arthritis to jump onto the bed.

  • Favorite Activity (games, how often, duration)
  • Vocabulary (reaction to known words)
  • Vocalization (increase/decrease)
  • Interactions/Personality
  • Sleep Cycles
  • Habits/Routines

Body Warnings

Generate a list of your cat’s normal body functions. Be as specific as possible. Examples of categories follow, but don’t limit yourself to my suggestions. “I’d rather see a case that doesn’t need to be seen as an emergency than not see one that needed to be,” says Dr. Marks.

  • Appetite
  • Weight Loss/Gain
  • Water Intake
  • Urination and Defecation (color, increase/decrease, “accidents”)
  • Skin, Fur And Claws (dandruff, sores, shiny fur, mats, etc.)
  • Eyes (clear, watery, squinting)
  • Ears (clean, smell, scratching)
  • Nose
  • Respiration
  • Gait/Movement 

This post is an excerpt from Amy Shojai’s Complete Cate for Your Aging Cat, winner of the Cat Writers’ Association HARTZ Award (for best entry on aging cats) and MERIAL Human-Animal Bond Award. The updated, revised 2010 edition is now available in paperback, and Amazon Kindle Edition with “hot links” to the experts cited in the book.

Amy Shojai, CABC is the award-winning author of 23 dog and cat care and behavior books, and can be reached at her website http://www.shojai.com

Coming Soon

A chance to win an autographed copy or e-book version of
Complete Care for Your Aging Cat
here on The Conscious Cat!

If You Don’t Talk to Your Cat About Catnip, Who Will?

catnip

Catnip has been called kitty crack and cat cocaine because of the way some cats react to its intoxicating scent or after ingesting the leaves.  However, only about 50% of cats are affected by catnip, and not all cats react the same.

What causes the catnip “high?”

Catnip is a member of the mint family, and is also a distant relative of the marijuana plant.  Scientists haven’t been able to figure out how or why catnip affects cats the way it does, but they have identified the part of the plant that causes the euphoric reaction.  The plant contains a non-poisonous chemical called nepetalactone. Nepetalactone is an aromatic oil found in the stem and leaves of the plant. It’s the smell of the leaves rather than the taste that sets cats off.  It is believed that cats eat the leaves because chewing on them releases more of the oils.

Catnip can be given to cats fresh, or in its dried form.  Some cats will eat the leaves, and this is perfectly safe for most cats.  However, some cats with extremely sensitive stomachs may vomit or get diarrhea after eating catnip leaves.

Look for quality catnip

Reactions from cats will vary based on the strength and quality of the product.  Cats who like catnip usually respond by rolling around in it, jumping around, rubbing their face in it, salivating, and purring.  Typically, a catnip “high” last about ten or fifteen minutes, and aftewards, kitty will most likely be very relaxed and ready for a nap.  Whether or not cats respond to catnip appears to be genetically determined.  Kittens are not affected until they’re about two months old (if they fall into the category of cats that do respond).  Chances are that if your kitten hasn’t reacted to catnip by the time she’s six month’s old, she falls into the non-responsive category.

Use catnip to train cats

For cats who respond to catnip, it can be used for training purposes.  Sprinkle catnip on scratching posts to attract kitty’s attention.  Sprinkle it on cat beds or mats where you want your cat to sleep.   If your cat reacts by becoming relaxed and mellow after use, use it before car rides, trips to the vet, or other stressful situations.

Catnip cautions

Some cats react to catnip with aggression.  They become so stimulated by the herb that they may release their excess energy by picking fights with other cats in the household, or by attacking their humans.  Unfortunately, Allegra appears to fall into this category.  She recently was given a catnip banana, and while she had a ton of fun with it, after a few minutes of playing with it, she play-attacked my leg and sunk her teeth into my ankle.  I put the toy away for a couple of days and then tried again, with the same results.  I think we’ll be taking catnip toys off the list for her, at least for now.

Interesting catnip facts

Some interesting, not cat-related facts about catnip:  it is ten times more effective at repelling mosqitoes than DEET; it has a sedative effect on humans and can be used to settle an upset stomach (as a tea); it can heal cuts (damp leaves applied to a fresh cut).

How does your cat respond to catnip?

Photo is of Amber on a catnip high after I gave her fresh catnip for the first time.

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.

New from The Conscious Cat – Teleseminar Series

Amber and I are excited to announce
The Conscious Cat Teleseminar Series!

Join us for monthly teleseminars on a variety of topics!   You’ll be able to learn more about your favorite cat writers and get a chance to ask them questions.  You’ll learn about cat health, cat nutrition, how to keep your cat’s environment safe and toxin-free, and how to care for a sick cat.  We’ll offer help in coping with pet loss and the devastating grief that follows.  We’ll be adding more topics, and we’d love to hear your suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered. 

Our first Teleseminar will take place on Tuesday, March 30 at 8pm Eastern.  We’ll be talking with Clea Simon, author of several cat themed mysteries, including the brand new Dulcie Schwartz mysteries as well as the Theda Krakow mysteries.  Clea is also the author of The Feline Mystique:  On the Mysterious Connection Between Women and Cats, and several other non-fiction books.  Clea will talk about her latest release, Grey Matters, her fictional and her real cats, and more.  She’ll also answer questions from listeners.  If you’ve always wanted to ask a mystery writer about her work, here’s your opportunity! 

On Thursday, April 22 at 8pm Eastern, we’ll have our first Ask the Cat Vet Teleseminar with Dr. Fern Crist.  You already know Dr. Crist from the pages of Buckley’s Story and from some of Amber’s Mewsings – this will be your chance to get to know her better and get your cat health questions answered.  Dr. Crist has ben practicing veterinary medicine since 1982, and has been working exclusively with cats since 1993.  She served on the board of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.  Dr. Crist is married with five children, two of which are not fuzzy.

The seminars are free, but long distance phone charges may apply.  To participate in the conference, dial 1-712-432-3100.  When prompted, enter conference code 674470. 

We’re looking forward to having you join us for the seminars!  If you have suggestions for future topics, please leave them in a comment.

And don’t forget – we’re celebrating our blog anniversary all week long.  Don’t forget to enter our fantastic anniversary giveaway!

Senior Feline Care Guidelines

2008seniorcover1

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has completed an updated version of the Senior Care Guidelines.  The guidelines will be published in the September issue of The Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery.  They address a broad range of issues including medical, behavioral and lifestyle considerations and will help veterinarians deliver consistent high quality care for older cats.  I’ll be sharing some of the highlights from these guidelines over the next weeks to help you make informed decisions about care for your own cats.

While there is no specific age at which a cat becomes a “senior” since individual animals age at different rates, the AAFP uses the following definitions:  “mature or middle-aged” (7-10 years), “senior” (11-14 years), and “geriatric” (15+ years).  The guidelines use the term “senior” to include all of these age groups.

The guidelines address the recommended frequency of wellness visits, the minimum database of lab values such as bloodwork and urinalysis that should be obtained at each visit, routine wellness care, nutrition and weight management, dental care, anesthesia and the special needs of the older cat, and monitoring and managing specific diseases.

The guidelines are dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jim Richards, the famed “kitty doctor” and former director of the Cornell Feline Health Center, who died in a motorcycle accident in 2007.  Two of his favorite quotes were “Cats are masters at hiding illness” and “Age is not a disease.”

Look for more information on the Senior Care Guidelines in future posts.

Abnormal Love of Cats?

white cat

Those of us who love our cats sometimes wonder whether “normal” people might consider us a bit, shall we say, eccentric?  The following are some definite signs that you’re a cat lover:

  • You cut your after-work activities short just so you can get home to see your cat.
  • You dare not move a muscle when you cat falls asleep at your feet, even if you need to get up to go use the bathroom.
  • You sleep in the oddest positions, just so you can accommodate your cat, even if she chooses to plonk herself in the middle of your bed.
  • You take your cat’s name as your online name. 
  • When you’re telling a friend about having to take the cat to the V-E-T, you whisper and your eyes dart furtively around the room to make sure your cat isn’t within earshot.
  • You feel naked if your clothes aren’t covered in cat hair.
  • If you own more than one cat, you can tell which cat threw up just by looking at the pile.

Of course, none of us cat lovers consider any of these things abnormal!

Photo: morguefile.com