kittens

Raising Kittens to Be Happy and Healthy

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Guest post by Elizabeth Colleran, DVM

Six weeks ago, a young female cat was dropped at the backdoor of our veterinary clinic. It happens, though not often. One of the assistants picked up the box she came in and put her in our isolation ward. We are always cautious about strays; two people are always required to be present if we are going to handle them.

She was alone for a bit while the assistant awaited the arrival of another staff member. When she arrived, they opened the box containing the stranger, who was in the process of delivering kittens. In time, six of them.Continue Reading

Review and Giveaway: Too Cute Kittens: Animal Planet’s Most Impossibly Adorable Kittens

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If you watch Animal Planet, you’ve undoubtedly come across their Too Cute series, which raises cute to a whole new level. Since I’m more of a reader than a TV watcher, I was delighted to find out about the new book Too Cute Kittens: Animal Planet’s Most Impossibly Adorable Kittens.

The press release for this book came with an appropriate warning: “Some material in these books may be too cute for human consumption. Reader discretion is advised.” And the press release didn’t lie: this little book redefines cute.Continue Reading

Liberty and Justice: a tale of loss, faith, and kittens

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If you’ve read The Conscious Cat for a little while, you may remember reading about Steeler. Steeler was a tortie who belonged to my friend Bernie. Steeler had come into Bernie’s life during a time when she really needed a little angel. Her husband had become severely debilitated by Alzheimer’s, and after Bernie took in the the little stray cat sporting the colors of her favorite football team, she quickly won both of their hearts. Miraculously, Bernie’s husband, who didn’t respond to anyone else at that stage, not even to Bernie, still responded to Steeler’s presence.

After her husband was hospitalized, Steeler became a great comfort to Bernie. Sadly, fate wasn’t done providing challenges for Bernie. Bernie’s husband succumbed to his illness last December. A few weeks later, Bernie’s son Eric lost his battle with lung cancer. And four months after that, Steeler passed away after dealing with multiple health issues.

It takes a strong person to go on after so much loss in such a short period of time. Continue Reading

Could your cat benefit from Omega-3 DHA supplements?

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Guest post by Dr. Serge Martinod

Sometimes it seems like your cute little kitten is growing up in the blink of an eye. In order to ensure that your kitten grows into a happy and healthy mature cat, it is important to understand what constitutes a healthy lifestyle so your cat can get the most purring, toy chasing and ear scratches out of life.

Aging is a complex biological process that predisposes cats to chronic diseases including behavior changes, limited mobility or kidney malfunction. To help them develop properly as kittens and age gracefully into senior cats, added Omega-3 DHA is a major dietary need for all cats.

Benefits for kittens

DHA is an important building block of the brain and, kittens will experience a sharper nervous system and visual abilities when supplemented as pre-natal kittens and up until the first nine months of life. Daily supplementation of DHA is recommended for pregnant and lactating cats for proper brain and nervous system development of their offspring. Improvement in neurological development will not only better your kitten’s life, but play a significant role in enhancing the bond between the two of you.Continue Reading

Cats in charge: Phoebe’s Story

 Phoebe in charge

Guest post by Phoebe Banks

My original people – I don’t like to talk about them much – dumped me on a farm when they discovered I was pregnant, and I had my kittens in the barn. As soon as I was able to, I went out foraging for food so that I’d have enough milk for them. There was an antiques shop right next to the shop, and they hired me on the spot as their official greeter, paying me in snacks. Still, there was the daycare issue: when my kittens were old enough, I brought them with me. They trotted around after me as I showed the customers around. I think we were very good for business.

I tried very hard to keep my kittens safe, but, one by one, they disappeared – cars, coyotes, distemper. That was a very sad time for me. The women at the shop were kind to me, but it wasn’t as though I belonged to them. Or to anyone.

Then the Older Human stopped by the shop and was very taken with me. (I was, I have to admit, looking very pretty and fluffy that day, even though I had a bad case of worms.) She brought me home with her, and suddenly, I did belong to someone. I was warm, well-fed, worm-less – and spayed. The Older and Younger Humans looked after me. And I had friends. There were cats here, too, same as at the barn; but they were all fixed and didn’t have the gaunt faces or bloated bellies that the barn cats had had.

Circe, the Blue Aby, became my first friend: she was very young and really needed someone to play with. I was only a year older – I’d had my kittens very young – so this suited me perfectly. I felt as though I was getting my kittenhood back. We climbed cat trees together and chased each other around the house. Once, I got so into one of our chases, I actually reared up on my hind legs and walked on them. Just like a human. And, speaking of which, you should’ve seen the Older Human’s face. It was, as they say, enough to make a cat laugh. Well, at least this one.

I settled in pretty quickly. The other cats more or less followed Circe’s suit, and Keisha, the Chief Cat, gave me her seal of approval. I eventually adopted three abandoned kittens — Derv Jr. (Keisha had told me about the first Derv, a fine upstanding cat who had lived to be almost 20-years-old), Cheshire, and Magwitch – and got the chance to really enjoy raising them that I had never really had with my own babies. And – this touched me to the quick – the Younger Human even ran a “Phoebe for President” campaign in 2008, complete with t-shirts. Of course, I didn’t win, but I did receive a lot of the popular vote.

Then Keisha died. It was very unexpected, and she hadn’t had time to groom a successor. I was worried. Strong leadership is, you know, very important in a multi-cat household. Then I thought, wait a sec – I could do it. Not only did I have a certain amount of political know-how (I had, after all, run a very perky campaign), but I also had had a lot of Life Experience that the others hadn’t. So I took up where Keisha had left off – keeping the Siamese in line and monitoring the rivalries between various cats. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel I’m doing a pretty good job on the whole.

And one morning, while I was eating breakfast, Keisha shimmered into the room. Her eyes were free from the pain of her brief illness, and she let me know how pleased she was with the job I’d done. She was only there for a moment…a gentle, fleeting moment…but I know that the Older Human saw her, too.

Phoebe’s human is T. J. Banks, the author of A Time for Shadows, Catsong, Souleiado, and Houdini, a novel for young adults which the late writer and activist Cleveland Amory enthusiastically branded “a winner.” Catsong, a collection of her best cat stories, was the winner of the 2007 Merial Human-Animal Bond Award. A Contributing Editor to laJoie, she has received writing awards from the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA), ByLine, and The Writing Self. Her writing has been widely anthologized, and she has worked as a columnist, a stringer for the Associated Press, and an instructor for the Writer’s Digest School. She is currently writing a blog called “Sketch People,” a  series of interviews with people who have stories worth telling. You can learn more about T.J. Banks on her blog, and through this interview.

You may also enjoy reading:

Book review: Derv & Co.: A Life Among Felines by T.J. Banks

Book review: Catsong by T.J. Banks

Book review: Houdini by T.J. Banks

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June is Adopt-a-Cat month: Meet more cats looking for their forever homes

The American Humane Association has designated June as Adopt-a-Cat Month® to help raise awareness for the plight of homeless cats.  June is kitten season, and shelters and rescue groups are overflowing with cute, adorable kittens who are joining the millions of older cats.  There’s something for everyone, and all of these cats are deserving of a loving home.

Earlier this month, I introduced you to some wonderful cats who are looking for homes, and today, you’ll get to meet a few more. Some are local to my area, others are fostered with organizations readers of The Conscious Cat volunteer with. Please share this widely – let’s help find these cats their forever homes!

I’d also love to hear your story if you adopted a cat in June. E-mail me a photo of your new family member, along with a brief description of how you found your new cat and why you picked her, and I’ll feature some of the stories in a future post. 

Kitten Associates Mazie

Mazie is being fostered by by Kitten Associates founder Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair fame. Mazie was rescued before her time was up at a high kill shelter. She had just given birth to 3 kittens. Mazie is a little over a year old. She’s basically a big kitten. She’s a love bug, outgoing, chatty and has been a great mom. Her kittens are grown and Mazie’s ready to find her forever family. She’ll hug your head, jump high after toys. She is very playful, with big green eyes and a combination of both spots on her sides and tiger stripes on her legs. Some of her toes are black and some are pink. She’s got so many colors and markings, she’ll amaze you! Mazie’s daughter Polly Picklepuss is also available for adoption.

Maine Coon Rescue Alliance

This beauty named Astra is being fostered by Maine Coon Rescue Alliance in Austin, TX. She is about five years old, and is a very social and sweet cat. She gets along with everyone who comes through the door. She would do fine with small dogs (under 12 pounds) – she loves to play with them. She cannot be placed in a home with large dogs since she was attacked by one when she was young and is abolutely terrified of them. She is a great lap cat and is very affectionate. 

Forever Home Feline Ranch

Max is a special needs kitty – he has feline leukemia. He currently lives at Forever Home Feline Ranch in Rochester, IL. He is a very affectionate, playful boy who loves people. Kept in a cage for the last 3+ years, he didn’t get to experience a normal kitty’s life like looking out a window, walking around a house, sitting on a couch, meeting people, pets, loves and cuddles. He can’t wait to see what he was missing and is looking for either a permanent or foster home.

Fancy Cats Rescue Team

These three babies are named Java, Mocha and Kona, and are fostered through Fancy Cats Rescue Team in Herndon, VA. They’re tiny balls of energy who zoom around the room, tumbling and playing. Their antics will keep you amused all day. Java is a boy, and Mocha and Kona are his sisters. Java has little white socks, and the girls are all brown tabby. We don’t know if they are actually related; they came from an overcrowded shelter with some other kittens of roughly the same age. But they’ve been together in their foster home for awhile now, and they all play together wonderfully.

Lost Dog and Cat Rescue

You knew there’d be at least one tortie in this group! Robin is fostered by Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation in  Northern Virginia. Robin is  is an outgoing, fun cat who loves everybody. She especially enjoys playing with her sister Jackie. Robin is a spunky kitty who you will fall in love with!

All of these groups have plenty of other beautiful cats looking for homes. If you’re looking for a new feline companion, please visit their websites, and look around.

Kitten Associates – the new breed of cat rescue

 
In the year’s first post on this site, 7 tips for a healthy, happy new year for cats and their humans, item 7 is “do something for less fortunate cats.”  One of the ways I’m going to do that here on The Conscious Cat is by periodically featuring cat rescue groups.  I hope that by introducing you to these organizations and the dedicated individuals behind them, I’ll give you ideas on how you, too, can help – whether it’s fostering a cat, volunteering to help at adoption events, going to a shelter to give the cats some love and attention, or making a monetary contribution.  And who knows, by giving these organizations some publicity, some lucky cats and kittens might also find their forever homes.
The first group I’d like to introduce you to is Kitten Associates.  I first met founder Robin Olson at the 2009 Cat Writers Association conference.  Even in a room full of cat lovers, Robin’s exceptional dedication to the welfare of all cats, not to mention her huge heart, came through in just the few conversations we had at the meeting.  After the conference I began to follow Robin’s blog, Covered in Cat Hair, where she’s been writing “mostly true stories of a life spent with cats” for the past five years.  Then Robin became aware of the plight of cats in the Southern United States, where euthanasia rates are alarmingly high compared to other parts of the country.   Shelters are overloaded, and shelter staff who spend their days euthanizing healthy cats instead of saving them are pushed to their emotional limits.

In a series of blog posts titled Not on My Watch, Robin began to share stories about these cats.  By sharing these stories, and with help from a solid social media presence, she was able to raise funds for cats that needed life-saving surgery, rescue cats from high kill shelters by working with private rescue groups in those areas, and find homes for these cats.

But it wasn’t enough.  In 2010, in the middle of one of the worst economic crisis our country has ever experienced, and with animal rescue groups suffering lack of funding and shelters closing everywhere, Robin decided to start her own non-profit rescue, Kitten Associates.

Based in Connecticut, Kitten Associates is a new breed of rescue.  According to their mission statement, Kitten Associates is dedicated to saving the lives of cats (and dogs, too!), supporting animal rescue organizations with powerful online marketing tools, and championing legislation for spay/neuter programs to end pet overpopulation.   

In addition to rescuing cats in need, Kitten Associates builds and delivers management and communications tools to struggling, small rescue groups and shelters, to help them be more effective in promoting their available animals, raising donations and attracting more volunteers. Both Robin and her fiancé, Sam Moore, draw on many years of experience with corporate management and marketing communications, and they plan to deliver web sites, databases, communications strategies and other technical and marketing support tools that can help rescue organizations make the most of their limited personnel and resources.  They are able to do this for no or very low cost because they get their funding from grants and corporate and private donors. 

One of their first websites just went live, illustrating why there is such a need for this aspect of their mission.  Heard County Critters is a small group of folks who partner with Heard County Animal Control Center in Georgia. Oddly enough, none the volunteers for the group even live in Georgia. They just saw a need and decided to help out. The animals get 72 hours before they get euthanized.  Sometimes they get a few more days, but not often. Since the municipal shelter doesn’t have a web site or the ability to accept donation using PayPal (they still use Western Union!), Kitten Associates created a web site that links to their Petfinder pages, shows which cat or dog is “urgent” (meaning, his or her time is close to running out), and makes it simple for folks to adopt or sponsor the animals.

Kitten Associates reflects their founder’s passion and values in every aspect of the organization.  They don’t just want to rescue cats, they want to ensure that the cats they rescued will continue to lead happy, healthy lives in their new, hopefully forever, homes.  Adopters are required to feed a grain-free and/or raw meat diet and may not feed dry kibble.  Declawing is not allowed under any circumstance. Kitten Associates guarantees their adoptions for the life of the pet.  One very unique aspect of their post adoption support includes on-call availability, should adopters have a question regarding health or behavior issues.  

In its first year (which was really only four months long), Kitten Associates rescued 60 cats and kittens – a remarkable feat for any rescue group, but especially for a brand new, essentially three-person operation.

Kitten Associates’ focus for this year is on basic fundraising to obtain a solid financial base so they can stop the constant worry about all the bills Robin currently pays out-of-pocket.  They need foster homes.  They need volunteers.  They need creative folks who can help with event planning and fundraising.  They need experienced cat rescuers, a vet tech or a vet who are willing to be on call for questions after business hours, should the need arise

Kitten Associates have a lot on their plate, and they have a big vision.  Knowing Robin, there is no doubt in my mind that they will achieve their vision, and more.  And more importantly, I know that thanks to Robin and Kitten Associates, cats and kittens that otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance at life will find their forever homes.

You can learn more about Kitten Associates on their website, and more about Robin on her blog, Covered in Cat Hair. 

All photos © Robin Olson, used with permission.

You may also enjoy reading:

A visit to a very special cat sanctuary

Happy Mother’s Day 2009

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Happy Mother’s Day from the Conscious Cat!

If you’re fortunate enough to still have your mom in your life, be sure to tell her that you love her today, and every day.  My mother passed away 15 years ago, and I still miss her.  Even after all these years, I still feel a pang when I see Mother’s Day cards appear in stores.

But I also celebrate Mother’s Day as Amber’s Mom.  Amber was a mommy herself when I first met her, so I thought I’d share her story here with you today.

In the spring of 2000, Amber and her five kittens were brought to the animal hospital I managed by a client who had found the little family in her barn.  Despite being emaciated and scrawny-looking, Amber’s eventual beauty was evident even then.  Her kittens found new homes in fairly rapid succession.

However, nobody was interested in the beautiful mommy cat.  She spent her days in the big adoption cage in the hospital’s waiting area, but with the constant inflow of homeless kittens that is typical for spring and summer, nobody wanted to adopt an adult cat.  I had recently lost my almost sixteen-year-old soul mate cat Feebee, and the grief over his loss was still very fresh.  I did not think I was ready for another cat, but coming home to an empty house was becoming increasingly difficult.

One weekend in July, I decided to take Amber home, “just for the weekend”.  I wanted to give her a break from the abandoned feral kitten we had placed with her after her own kittens had all found homes.  The kitten was a rambunctious six-week old grey tabby, and Amber was becoming increasingly exasperated with his constant need for attention.  As far as she was concerned, she had done her mommy duty with her own kittens.

After living in a cage for all these months, Amber was initially a little overwhelmed by having access to an entire house, and she spent most of that first weekend near or under my bed.  By Sunday evening, she began to  relax a little and started exploring her new environment.  I liked having her gentle and peaceful energy around the house, and I decided that she could stay a little longer.  Not quite ready to acknowledge that she was home with me to stay, I told everyone that I was “just fostering her”. Somehow, the flyers advertising that she was available for adoption never got distributed, and she only returned to the animal hospital for regular check ups.

Amber is a gentle, loving cat with a wise old soul.  For the past nine years, her peaceful and solid presence, not to mention her almost constant purr, have been bringing love and affection into my life every day.  She enjoys sleeping in our sunny living room, curling up with me when I sit down to read or to watch television, and watching the birds at the feeder on our deck.

She is a teacher to the core of her being, and she is my writing muse.  There are days when I sit down in front of the computer and stare at the blank screen with no idea of what I’m going to be writing about, but as soon as she comes into the room and curls up on the window perch next to my desk for a long nap, I feel inspired, and the words start flowing.

Animals come into our lives for many reasons.  Some very special animals touch our souls and change us forever.  Amber is one of these special animals.

Amber
Amber