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Some issues which the CatLady has addressed in our Newsletters are as follows (scroll down to read full articles);
Fat Cats (2009, Spring Issue #14)
Older Cats in Shelters (2007, Summer Issue #9)
Mating Season . . . (2007, Spring Issue #8)
To read any of our past “Cat Lady” Articles please go to our archives page for the following;
· Holiday Safety for your Pets (2006, Holiday, Issue #7)
· Bad Kitties? With litter-box ISSUES (2006, Aug/Sep, Issue #5)
· Dental Health: Periodontal Disease, Gingivitis-Stomatitus (2006, Feb/March, Issue #4)
· FIV, FeLv & FIP . . . What do these really mean? (2005, Holiday, Issue #3)
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Older Cats in Shelters (2007, Summer Issue, # 9)
In our previous issue we discussed kittens . . . Let us now turn to the other end of the spectrum and discuss “older” cats. After many years of working with cats who are given to shelters, it is heart breaking when it is an older cat who comes in . . .
As much as we want to think cats are “independent” creatures who adapt easily to change, this isn’t always so. Cats are creatures of habit, they like routine, especially when they get older. Many older cats do NOT adapt easily to being at a shelter or in a cage, especially if they’ve been in a home all their life and have gotten attached to their owners. It is extremely hard trying to get an older cat adopted, most people want kittens or younger cats (under 3 years old), older cats are often looked over for many reasons. One being, that they are old enough to develop costly medical issues in their elder years, which is a realistic concern for many potential adopters. Another reason is that older cats may be set in their ways and are more difficult to train.
If you truly love your older cat, please keep in mind that giving them to a shelter, where they’ll be in a cage or a multi-cat environment, can be devastating for them to deal with emotionally and physically. Two older cats over 8 years old, were given to a shelter, their owner decided that they could no longer keep them. Both cats were in good health when they arrived, they were both confused and didn’t understand what was happening to them. After being in the shelter for awhile, an environment which was alien to them, they started to get depressed, the one cat refused to eat and lost weight, despite all attempts to force feed her, she died. The remaining cat was in grief over the loss of her companion and also began to lose weight, she was taken into another private home for intensive one-on-one care. She’s extremely thin and must be coaxed to eat. She doesn’t like the other cats in her multi-cat home and hisses at them. She seems sad like she’s giving up, but she’s a very sweet cat who would blossom and probably even gain weight, if she had an owner who would just love her and lavish her with attention.
The temperament of any cat will play a BIG role in how well they do or do not adjust. Type “A” personality cats seem to adjust slightly better than type “B” personality cats. When cats are upset they may stop eating and drinking, this is NOT a minor thing. When a cat stops eating for more than a few days they can develop “fatty liver disease” which can be fatal. Anxiety may also be expressed with inappropriate elimination or refusal to use the litter box. Diarrhea can also be another sign of stress and must be watched closely. Anyone who is considering giving up an older cat should bear in mind that the stress alone could trigger illnesses in even the healthiest cat, which could result in a life threatening situation.
So can “older” cats be successfully adopted out? YES, they can, if someone is willing to give them a chance. They can still give back as much love as they’ve got, in their remaining years left. They will be more mellow and content to sleep most of the day or just sit besides someone who’ll pet them and scratch them under their chins. It might take more patience for them to adjust to a new home and a new owner, but they normally will in time. Older cats do best in a home where they are the only cat, or there are fewer than two other cats. They don’t do so well with large multi-cat households or open shelters. Like a kitten, an older cat should be kept in a separate room for awhile, so they can adjust to the new scents of their surroundings. If possible try to obtain anything with the scent of their previous owner/home (a blanket, towel, cat bed, toys, etc), this will help to maintain some sense of security while they adjust. Above all, be patient . . . and you will be rewarded with a devoted and loving companion.
Mating Season (2007, Spring Issue, #8)
With SPRING, comes the dance of the mating season! Which will result in many unplanned kittens and puppies. A female cat alone, can go into heat several times in the year and can have several litters of kittens . . .
Some people try to get rid of unwanted litters, unaware that by doing so, this it will only cause their female to go right back into heat and get pregnant again. The only SURE and safe way to prevent unwanted litters is to get your companion pets altered. Some people say they can’t afford it, then our advise is that they should check into local “low cost” programs which assist pet owners in helping to get their companion pets altered. If these people still are unmotivated to do this, then perhaps they should reconsider owning any animals. With ownership of any animal, comes the responsibility to care for that animal’s emotional, physical and medical needs. If you can’t afford to get your pet proper medical care, then perhaps it’d be better if you didn’t have a pet.
Going into heat is a very painful process for female cats, this pain is only relieved after they’ve become pregnant. Even the process of getting pregnant so frequently takes its toll on an animal’s body. Can you imagine if humans were giving birth every 62 days?? Ouch!!!
Companion pets who’ve been altered are usually much sweeter. They no longer have the urge to go out and search for a mate and are quite content to stay home with their humans. This reduces the risk of them (especially males), getting into fights and possibly becoming infected if they should get into a fight with an FIV positive unaltered male. Even an unaltered female can get infected if an FIV positive male bites her during courtship, this sometimes gets passed on to her kittens. Unaltered males will roam for miles, looking for a female, and will spray and mark their territory with the strong scent of their urine. These males are extremely combative and aggressive, many can get seriously injured during mating or territory fights. We’ve seen males with ripped flesh, torn ears and punctured eyes. Some of these cats who are strays, usually get infections in their wounds and die a slow painful death. Lucky ones with owners, hopefully get the vet care they need for their wounds. This fighting is unnecessary, and can be avoided if the cat is neutered.
So please don’t add to the already over-population of pets in shelters everywhere. Give your pet a safe and happy life. If you adopt a kitten or cat (puppy or dog), please be sure to get them altered.
If you have the opportunity and time, try to volunteer your services at your local animal shelter, so you can see what many of these animals go through. Even young adults who volunteer at local animal shelters, will find that it helps to teach them more respect for their companion pets and how to become responsible pet owners. Life is not always kind to these animals who end up in shelters, but we can all open our hearts and try to help those who cannot help themselves.
Fat Cats (2009, Spring Issue, # 14)
Fat Cats– okay, I know that it’s hard to admit that “kitty” might weigh slightly more than they ought to. Some folks think pudgy pets are adorable, but the reality is that kitty’s extra weight may be harmful, life threatening and downright unhealthy . . . Plus, kitty’s extra weight mad add to unnecessary additional vet bills and force your kitty to be on medication for heart, liver or kidney issues for the rest of their life . . .
A life of leisure combined with other factors such as age can lead to unhealthy weight gain and obesity, putting housecats at risk for serious health complications. Unfortunately, the statistics show that 25% of cats are considered obese and a whooping 60% are overweight! The extra weight on kitty, can create a host of health problems;
· Shorter life expectancy
· High blood pressure which can lead to heart problems
· Breathing problems (such as asthma)
· Diabetes—overweight cats are three times more likely to develop this disease
· Skin problems—overweight cats also have difficulty grooming themselves properly
· Urinary tract infections (caused by straining to urinate)
· Arthritis & joint damage
While it’s true that a number of factors contribute to weight gain, the biggest factor is kitty’s lifestyle. Many housecats aren’t overly active, sleep 22 hrs a day and eat more than they need. As cats grow older their metabolic rate slows down.
If your cat needs to lose weight, speak with your vet FIRST! Your vet will determine how much weight your cat needs to loose and the best way to accomplish that goal. Your vet may prescribe a special prescription diet food that cannot be found in pet food stores. It is NOT safe for pets to loose too much weight, too fast. Cats can suffer from a dangerous liver condition called hepatic lipidosis if they lose weight too quickly, so PLEASE avoid crash diets.
Use low calorie food, preferably one containing few carbohydrates or a vet prescribed weight control food. Provide plenty of fresh CLEAN water at all times. Minimize kitty treats, cut back or eliminate table scraps. Treats should constitute no more than 10% of a cats daily diet. Pet food manufacturers now formulate foods with better nutrition, by adding treats or people food to your cat’s diet you are just adding extra calories they don’t need. A low calorie dry and canned food combo can be helpful. Instead of filling an empty dish, or leaving food out all the time, try feeding your cat smaller measured portions several times a day, or put food down for only certain times then pick it up.
One pet owner of a multi-cat house hold of five cats (three of these are over-weight), in the morning feeds one small can of Fancy Feast and divides it FIVE ways, waits 20 or 30 minutes then puts down some dry (vet prescription) kibble before she goes to work in the morning. When her husband leaves for work two hours later, he picks the food up and puts it away. Whatever spouse arrives home from work first will feed the cats one (sometimes two) can(s) of Fancy Feast divided 5 ways, wait 20 to 30 minutes then put down the dry kibble, by 9pm at night the dry food is picked up. Only fresh water remains available for her cats at all times. Her cats have lost weight slowly, over a 3 year period her once 27 lb large boned Siamese mix cat is now at 23 lbs. Her vet said this cat’s ideal weight would be 17 lbs or even 20 lbs would be good. Trying to control weight in a multi-cat household is very difficult, but as this pet owner showed with thought and careful planning it CAN be done.
Next, try to increase your cat’s activity level, increase play time. Play with your cat using interactive toys, such as catnip balls and wand toys. Many cats are intrigued with red laser pointer lights. You can toss small bits of your cat’s kibble across the floor for them to chase, running after their kibble will be a rewarding experience (they’ll get something to eat too). You can move your cat’s dish of food to different locations in your home and make them “hunt” for it. Place the food on top of something your cat can jump on so they must actively find or jump to get to their meal. In addition to helping your cat burn off the extra calories with these methods, it will also create a stronger bond between the two of you.
As with people, diet alone won’t solve the problems of being overweight. It has to be a combination of diet and exercise together. You could consider an “active” companion for your cat (if it’s an only pet). Interacting thru play with another pet is one way for pet’s to burn calories and get exercise, plus, it’ll be good company when you are not home. Purchase toys which stimulate the action of escaping prey, which will get your cat moving and arouse their natural hunting instincts.
There are some things you must keep in mind when trying to exercise your cat. Start SLOW to help your cat build up endurance. Don’t cut their food intact drastically or change their diet abruptly as this can lead to gastrointestinal upset. Always, make sure your cat has immediate access to fresh clean water to prevent dehydration during exercise. Most importantly exercise your cat BEFORE, not after meals. Stop exercise if you notice your cat sitting down or looking worn out. Use cat SAFE toys (stay away from sting, yarn, thread or small objects that can be swallowed easily), that will not cause choking or strangulation hazards.
With this in mind you now can keep your cat fit & trim. Your cat will thank you for it with a long healthy life and plenty of love and companionship.