Cat Advice | Paws and Effect Advice by cats, for cats and their people Mon, 15 Dec 2014 01:55:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How Can I Get My Cat to Take His Medicine? Mon, 15 Dec 2014 01:55:01 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My kitten is around 8-1/2 weeks old and recently he has been acting very strange. I got him from a “not so kitten loving” bloke a week and a half ago, and he claimed the kitten has been dewormed and de-flea’d already but need a little encouragement in using the litter tray. Two days after moving into the house with me and our other kitten, he started using the tray like a champ.

We feed both cats the same food at the same time, so we know when they need to do their business. Last week, the new kitten started having diarrhea so we went and got some worming tablets, which I put in his food. But whenever he smells the food (and presumably the tablet, too) he scratches around his bowl and tries to eat off the other kitten’s plate! Also, since he been having diarrhea he has begun having diarrhea in random places around the house — like under the table — instead of the litter tray.

Please help as I can see he is behaving abnormally, always dehydrated and refusing to eat anything! How do I get him to take the worming tablet?

~ Ruby

Siouxsie: Ruby, if your kitten is dehydrated, refusing to eat (whether or not this has anything to do with the worming tablet in the food) and having diarrhea, he really needs to go to the vet.

Thomas: There are a lot of things other than worms that can cause diarrhea in cats. Some of these are parasites like giardia, some are food intolerances, and some are illnesses that can be contagious to other cats — especially if those cats are sharing a litter tray.

Bella: I don’t know how it is where you live, but a lot of the dewormers sold at pet stores here in the U.S. really aren’t all that effective.

Siouxsie: Not only that, but almost all dewormers, from the vet or otherwise, are extremely bitter — and it’s no wonder your kitten doesn’t want to eat that tablet (or any of the food associated with it).

Thomas: Mama once gave me a pill in food. I knew it was there and I could smell that it tasted terrible, so I didn’t eat it. Mama realized the error of her ways pretty quickly, but I’ve refused to eat that flavor of cat food ever since.

Bella: Probably the reason the poor little guy is having accidents is that it’s really hard to stop diarrhea from coming out, and if a kitten can’t get to the litter tray right away, he’s going to go where he is.

Siouxsie: With two kittens, you really should have two, if not three, litter trays in different parts of the house. That will make it easy for kittens with small bladders and grumpy tummies to easily find an appropriate place to do their business.

Thomas: Having more than one litter tray also helps in the event that there’s a territorial dispute going on between the kittens. Territorial disputes can be focused on the litter tray because that’s a really important piece of real estate for cats.

Bella: If you have the litter trays in separate rooms, there’s no way a cat can be in two places at once to guard two litter boxes, which again, sets both kittens up for toileting success.

Siouxsie: So, Ruby, please take your new kitten to the vet, and bring a sample of his poop with you so they can check it for worms or other parasites. If your kitten does have worms, your vet may be able to give you a wormer that will be easy for you to give him without mixing it into his food. He or she will also be able to get the little guy rehydrated and make sure there’s nothing else wrong with him.

Thomas: And try feeding the kitten a different flavor of food, so he won’t refuse to eat just because he has bad memories of the worming pill.

Bella: Please don’t delay in getting that little guy to the vet because kittens get very sick, very quickly, if they don’t eat and have diarrhea.

Siouxsie: Please write back and let us know how things turned out.

Thomas: Oh, and don’t forget to have both of those kittens spayed or neutered as soon as they get old enough!

Bella: What about you other readers? How have you helped kittens who won’t eat? Share your tips in the comments.

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What Can I Do About My Cat’s Nonstop Meowing? Mon, 08 Dec 2014 01:50:24 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My year-old cat has been meowing ever since we let her take an adventure into the garage. She constantly wants to be in there, and if she can’t get her way she’ll meow more and more until we give in. I’m not sure what to do. My dad is saying if her meowing won’t stop, I’ll have to re-home her — which is NOT an option in my books. Please, help! She is my pride and joy.

~ Ashley

Siouxsie: Wow, guys, we’ve gotten a lot of letters about cats crying all the time, haven’t we?

Thomas: We really have. Maybe there’s an epidemic going around. Even Bella’s getting into the game!

Bella: You know you love my singing voice, don’t lie.

Thomas: Well, it is kind of cute, I have to admit.

Siouxsie: Can we please get back to business here? I’ve got to take a nap and you two are keeping me up.

Thomas: Okay, okay. Ashley, the two most common reasons cats carry on and meow excessively. One, particularly with female cats, is that they’re in heat — that is, they’re ready to mate and have kittens. If your cat isn’t spayed, she may be calling out looking for suitors.

Bella: If she is spayed, then she’s probably crying and carrying on because she’s bored. She wants to go  into the garage because it’s interesting and it hasn’t been explored yet. And maybe there are even some mice for her to chase in there.

Siouxsie: The best way to deal with a bored cat is to do things that interest her and set up her environment so she has lots of places to observe life.

Thomas: We cats see territory in three dimensions, so it’s not just about the floor or the furniture, it’s all the space in the house. If you get tall cat trees or make shelves and walkways in higher places, you’ll be giving your cat more territory to explore, thus making her life more interesting.

Bella: Your cat needs toys she can play with when you’re not around. My favorite toys are little crinkle balls and wicker balls that I can kick all around the house and chase them. That’s lots of fun!

Siouxsie: If you leave dry cat food out for her all day, you’ll make eating a lot more interesting if you use a puzzle toy so she has to figure out how to get at her food. There are rolling treat balls that reward exercise and play by dropping kibble as your cat bats the toy around the house, and there are even puzzle feeders you can buy if your dad is willing to spring for the cost.

Thomas: And, of course, the most important thing is that she needs regular interactive play. That means you need to play with her every day.

Bella: There are lots of great toys, but my favorites are Da Bird and Neko Flies. You can make a super-cheap toy with a long shoestring and some rags, too. The whole idea here is that when you move a play toy like prey, you’ll get her excited and get her running around and jumping to chase the toy.

Siouxsie: Now, we cats aren’t endurance athletes. We’re designed to run really quickly and get our prey, so you don’t have to play with us for hours at a time. What we need is short bursts of really vigorous play.

Thomas: Get your cat running around and jumping until she’s panting, then reward her with a meal or a treat.

Bella: The normal cat cycle is “hunt, kill, eat, groom, sleep.” So the best time to do a big interactive play session is just before meals and just before bed. That way you’ll be honoring the way your cat is designed to live, entertaining her, keeping her healthy and fit, and hopefully putting an end to all that meowing and caterwauling!

Thomas: Playing isn’t just flinging a toy around: it’s about imitating a cat’s prey, and every cat has prey preferences. Some kitties are ground hunters and really enjoy chasing “mice,” so make your toy act like a mouse moving around and see if it gets her interested. I love hunting mice and rats and things that creep around on the ground.

Bella: I like hunting things that leap and jump into the air, so when Mama makes the toy act like a bird or a fly, I get really excited and have lots of fun playing.

Siouxsie: So, Ashley, keep trying until you find a play method that works to get your cat going. And if you don’t have cat furniture or shelves, we’d definitely recommend adding some. There’s some amazingly beautiful and stylish cat furniture available out there, and a web search will reveal lots of information on how to build cat furniture inexpensively.

Thomas: What about the rest of you? What would you do if your cat were constantly crying to go out? Share your tips in the comments.

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My Cat Had Surgery and Now She’s Not Eating. Help! Mon, 01 Dec 2014 00:28:46 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Last week my 13-year-old cat, Maisy, had an operation to remove both thyroid glands. Since she got home a few days ago, she’s been drinking but not eating. I thought she may have contracted an infection because her breathing was troublesome, so I took her to the vet yesterday. He gave me an antibiotic, which has improved her breathing, and administered mirtazapine as an appetite stimulant.

The problem is, 24 hours after the mirtazapine, she’s still not interested in food. I give her all the things she likes to eat (pouches, cooked fish, chicken, fish paste) but nothing interests her. I have just started feeding her on the thick liquids extracted from cat food pouches via a pipette, although this is hard work. Is there anything else I can do?

~ John

Siouxsie: The first thing we’d suggest is that you call your vet and tell him what’s going on. He may have some other appetite stimulants he can give Maisy and he can check to see if she’s in pain.

Thomas: If all the muscles around Maisy’s throat hurt because of the surgery, that might cause her to be less interested in eating solid food.

Bella: And if the antibiotics are making her feel pukey, she’s definitely not going to want to eat.

Siouxsie: For those of you who don’t know, surgery to remove the thyroid glands is one of three treatments for hyperthyroidism. The other two are methimazole (which I take for my hyperthyroidism) and radioactive iodine therapy (which I tried, and I guess I’m that one in a million cats who doesn’t respond to it).

Thomas: The thyroid glands are located on either side of the trachea, just below the larynx. Although the esophagus is behind the trachea, any surgery around that area can cause pain, swelling and discomfort in other parts of the throat.

Bella: And if she’s developed an infection at the surgery site, that would make it hurt even more.

Siouxsie: On the other hand, her respiratory infection may be harming her appetite. If her nose is stuffed up, she’s not going to be able to smell her food, and the sense of smell is the biggest appetite stimulant for a kitty.

Thomas: You can make soft food smellier by heating it in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds. That might make Maisy more interested in eating.

Bella: We also think you’re on the right track with the liquids. Not only will they keep her nourished, they’ll keep her hydrated, too. You could mix the thick liquid with some water to make it a bit thinner and get more of it into her.

Siouxsie: But it’s very important that you get Maisy eating again. Cats that stop eating can develop a life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis, which requires pretty extensive veterinary treatment to manage.

Thomas: What about you other readers? What tricks do you use when your cat won’t eat solid foods? Please share your tips in the comments.

Bella: And please, John, let us know how it goes. We hope Maisy’s made a full recovery.

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A Good Diet Is Health Insurance for Your Cat Fri, 28 Nov 2014 18:33:23 +0000 [...] ]]> A long-haired cat sitting by a food dish

Photo CC-BY Lena Adams

In order to celebrate #PetHealthAwareness Month, I want to talk about a very important topic: what you’re feeding your cat. There are lots of very strong opinions about food — if you ever post on a cat-related forum, you’ll discover that in approximately five seconds.

I’m not here to be self-righteous and tell you that you have to feed that $10 a can ultra-premium cat food in order to be a “good cat parent.” The reason you read this blog is because you love your cats and you want to do the best you can for them, so I’m going to give you a simple and cost-effective way you can keep your cat healthy just by making a few different choices when you go shopping for your kitties’ meals.

Nutrition-wise, there are a couple of things you should know about cats: First of all, as creatures evolved from desert animals, cats have a very low thirst drive. That is to say, they are designed to get the water they need through the food they eat.

Secondly, cats are obligate carnivores. Their digestive systems are not designed to handle carbohydrates well, and a cat that gets fed a lot of carbohydrates runs the risk of becoming obese because they can’t properly metabolize those carbs. Even “grain-free” dry foods have a lot of substitute carbs, including things like peas, sweet potatoes and tapioca.

With those two things in mind, here’s what I do for my cats: I feed them exclusively wet food. No kibble at all. That wet food in my house consists primarily of freeze-dried or frozen raw with occasional treats of low-carb, grain-free canned food.

I have solid health-related reasons for sticking to this low-carb, grain-free diet. Bella has a history of diabetes, and in order to properly manage this disease, carbohydrates must be eliminated because they cause huge blood-sugar spikes (carbs are converted to sugars once they enter the digestive system). Thomas had digestive problems that resolved overnight once I eliminated dry food and carbohydrates from his diet. And 18-year-old Siouxsie is missing six teeth, so eating dry food is difficult for her.

But even if you don’t have special-needs cats, feeding a species-appropriate, wet-food diet will go a long way to maintaining their health well into their old age.

“But JaneA,” you might say, “my vet says dry food helps keep my cat’s teeth clean!”

Well, there’s been a huge change in thinking among vets regarding this issue of the dental benefits of dry food. Veterinarian Dr. Eric Barchas sums it up in a post he wrote for Catster. Even simple observation could make a lie out of this. Most cats swallow kibble whole. Also, cats’ molars don’t have flat surfaces to crush and grind food like ours are. Their back teeth are designed to shear meat off bones because they are carnivores.

I also strongly recommend against free-feeding — leaving food out all day for your cat. I’ve seen that lead to obesity because, like humans, cats will eat out of boredom.

So what do you do? You can’t afford the super-premium-deluxe canned food, and the idea of feeding a raw diet grosses you out, but you really want to give your cat good food.

Well, don’t despair: There are lots of brands of canned cat food that meet the low-carb, grain-free criteria, including some that you can even buy at your grocery store on sale. At the animal shelter where I volunteered, we fed our diabetic cats Fancy Feast Classic: all of these flavors have between 1 and 5 percent carbohydrates. You can check out Dr. Lisa Pierson’s cat food composition chart to find out what brands and formulas meet that guideline.

What have you readers done to make sure your cats are eating a healthy, species-appropriate diet? Please share your ideas in the comments.


This post is sponsored by BlogPaws. I am being compensated to support Pet Health Awareness Month with an educational post, but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. BlogPaws is not responsible for the content of this article.

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