Cat Advice | Paws and Effect Advice by cats, for cats and their people Sun, 26 Apr 2015 03:38:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Farewell, Sweet Siouxsie. What An Amazing Trip It’s Been. Sun, 26 Apr 2015 03:38:50 +0000 [...] ]]> I don’t even know what to say right now. My grief is so big and raw I don’t even think I can fully comprehend the scope of it.

My beloved friend, furry familiar and Top Cat and Queen Of All Western Cats, Siouxsie Mew, earned her wings today with the help of a very compassionate and kind veterinarian. She was just a week shy of celebrating her 19th birthday.

JaneA holds Siouxsie a few minutes before her euthanasia.

At the vet’s office, giving Siouxsie a hug.

I promised Siouxsie a long time ago that if she wanted help to leave her body, I would honor her wish. A couple of days ago, in the wee hours of the morning, she told me in no uncertain terms that it was time. And today, I kept my promise.

Siouxsie and her sister Sinéad adopted me in June of 1996. They were only six weeks old at the time, but they knew what they wanted. Back then I didn’t know that cats should be at least 8 weeks old before they leave their mama, but by the time I realized they could have used a couple more weeks of weaning, they’d already stolen my heart. So I bought kitten milk replacer and fed them “kibble cereal” so they could get the nutrition they needed.

Siouxsie explores the kitchen sink, 1998

Siouxsie was 2 years old when this photo was taken.

Siouxsie outlived Sinéad and two other feline housemates, Dahlia and Kissy, and became one of the most well-traveled cats I’ve met when she, Thomas and Bella made the cross-country drive with me from Maine to our new home in the Pacific Northwest.

She enjoyed robust good health until about a year and a half ago, when her senior blood panel revealed hyperthyroidism and some degree of kidney disease. The arthritis that had been a minor annoyance for her became much more severe, and she developed a couple of severe urinary tract infections.

She was a brave and strong cat, and she soldiered on. I did my best to manage her pain and treat her illnesses, and I thought things were going pretty well until just last week, when she developed such an epic urinary infection that she was losing control of her bladder. Although antibiotics got the infection taken care of, Siouxsie decided she’d had enough. One night as I was half asleep and all my “left brain” filters were down, she looked up at me and I heard, “Mama, I’m tired. I’ve had enough.”

Siouxsie on my lap, looking exhausted.

Siouxsie soldiered on, but I knew she was getting tired.

I picked her up and hugged her and said, “I hear you, I honor you, and I’ll respect your wishes. Just one thing — could you help me make sure I heard you correctly — come to me in a dream or something like that?”

Well, bless that amazing cat. She didn’t come to me in a dream, but as I lay awake in bed with her snuggled between my left arm and my body, wondering if I’d ever fall asleep, I rolled over and she peed all over me.

That was about the most concrete sign my logical mind needed.

I’m grateful to work in a place where everybody knows how important our animal companions are to us. After I called the vet during my break to make the euthanasia appointment, several of my friends noticed that I looked sad. When my friend Carmen asked how I was doing, I broke down in tears. I got so many hugs that day. My friends cried with me. My supervisor was incredibly compassionate and kind when I apologized for not being on the ball. Everyone there has been through it.

The end of this amazing and magical 18-year friendship is about the saddest damn thing I’ve ever experienced. The fact that I knew it was coming didn’t make it any easier.

Siouxsie in my lap after getting the sedative part of the euthanasia.

Siouxsie relaxed in my lap after Doctor E administered the sedative.

Everyone at the clinic, from the receptionist to the techs and assistants and the vets, was amazing. I felt so loved and supported.  Doctor E, who performed this final mercy for my beloved friend, explained what was going to happen — first the sedative, which would make her very relaxed, alive but anesthetized, followed a few minutes later with an overdose of a barbiturate anesthetic, which would stop her heart peacefully and quickly.

He hugged me as I cried and thanked him for walking through the last couple of months of Siouxsie’s journey with me.

My friend Carmen drove me to the vet’s office today. She sat with me as I reminisced. She took the photos of Siouxsie and me that you see in this post. She held me as I wept after the final injection. She listened as I told her the amazing things Siouxsie had done for me, not the least of which was saving my life by giving me a reason to live when I couldn’t find any others. She took me out for coffee and ice cream and a walk in Sunset Park.

View of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains from Sunset Park

Sunset Park provides a beautiful view of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, and being out in nature was very grounding.

When I got home, I picked up Siouxsie’s dish and hung her collar in a place of honor with Dahlia’s and Kissy’s.

I still can’t quite believe she’s gone. My heart aches and my head hurts.

I know you all have come to know and love Siouxsie over the 12 years we’ve been writing this blog together, and I know we’re all going to miss her so much. Paws and Effect will, of course, continue on with Thomas and Bella at the helm (and of course, me as their devoted secretary and slave).

If you want to do something concrete to honor Siouxsie and you have the resources to do so, please make a donation to your local shelter or your veterinarian’s compassionate assistance fund (if they have one). Advocate for black cats and work to overcome the ridiculous prejudices against them. Encourage people to adopt adult and senior cats. Spread kindness and compassion — the world needs as much of that as it can get!

A Buddha statue with three cat collars draped over it.

Siouxsie’s collar joins Dahlia’s and Kissy’s on my altar.

Blessings and love to you as one journey ends and a new one begins. There’s a new star in the heavens tonight, and her name is Siouxsie Mew.

Farewell, Siouxsie. I leave you with this mantra from the Buddhist Heart Sutra: Gaté, gaté, paragate, parasamgate — Bodhi soha! (Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone far beyond — O, what beautiful enlightenment!)

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When Disaster Strikes, Be Ready With #FoodShelterLove Wed, 22 Apr 2015 10:00:34 +0000 [...] ]]> This post is sponsored by Hill’s. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Hill’s® Food, Shelter, & Love® Program, but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Hill’s Pet Nutrition, Inc. is not responsible for the content of this article.

I live in one of the most seismically active areas of the United States. There’s an active volcano 65 miles from my home. I’ve lived through an epic ice storm that knocked out power to my family homestead for two and a half weeks. My oldest niece and her family lived in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Thomas, Bella and Siouxsie in their carriers in the back of my car

The gang is used to getting in their carriers and going for long rides in the car after our cross-country move.

With all that, disaster preparedness is common sense for me.

My disaster preparedness plans always include my cats. Here are some of the practically effortless things I do to prepare for our needs in case disaster strikes.

1. I always keep my car’s gas tank at least half full. If disaster strikes, power may go out or there may be panic at the gas pumps, so I want to be sure I have enough gas to get far away from the disaster zone.

2. I keep my cats’ carriers easily accessible and I’ve got my cats trained to let me get them into their carriers quickly and efficiently.

3. My cats are microchipped and have collars with tags that include my mobile phone number.

4. I know about pet-friendly hotels within reasonable driving distance of my home.

Thomas walks through my bags on a hotel room baed

Be prepared — find out about cat-friendly hotels within a reasonable drive of your home. And keep a cat first aid kit handy like I do.

5. I have several days’ supply of non-perishable food for them. If I have warning of a disaster — for example, if I know a hurricane or a blizzard is headed my way — I fill pots, pans and bottles with water in the event that power goes out.

But sometimes there’s no time to prepare. Tornadoes, earthquakes and landslides tend to happen with much less warning. Other emergencies like a fire in your building or your neighborhood might force you to evacuate. And sometimes even the best-prepared of us get separated from our furry family under those circumstances.

Texas SPCA member unloads food from a truckThat’s where animal shelters and rescues come in.

Animal rescue is stressful under the best of circumstances, but when there are hundreds or even thousands of displaced pets to deal with, the burden can be overwhelming.

Beyond wondering how they’re going to find space for all those displaced pets, one big question is, “What are we going to feed them?”

Fortunately, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has stepped up to that challenge by establishing the Hill’s Disaster Relief Network. This is an extension of its Food, Shelter & Love® program, and in its first year of operations the network delivered free pet food to 50 shelters and vet clinics across the U.S. in response to 11 major disasters including one close to home for me — the mudslide in Oso, Washington.

Hills Food, Shelter & Love campaign logo, and Hill's Science Diet Optimal Care Adult Cat FoodHill’s Disaster Relief Network is poised and ready to help shelters and rescuers at a moment’s notice so that they can ensure that all of the animals, though stressed and upset, have proper nutrition to keep them healthy until they can be reunited with their owners.

FEMA National Pet Disaster Preparedness Day is May 9. Do yourself and your cats a favor and get prepared. It’s better to have a plan and not need it than the other way around! Here are some tips from PetMD on how to be pet-prepared for an emergency.

What other advice would you add? Sound off in the comments!

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Our Cat Is Really Fat. Please Help Us Help Her Lose Weight! Sun, 19 Apr 2015 21:44:51 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Our beloved cat, known as Kitty, is fat. I mean really fat — 19.3 pounds. How did we get here? Well, she was a shelter cat and was about 10 pounds when she came into life. Over the last 5 years she has grown in size. She has to have steroid injections for her severe allergies, which are better than they used to be since putting her on Orijen, which she loves.

But here we are and she won’t be physically active without catnip and she is such a picky eater she won’t touch weight loss food from vet. And we are worried, concerned parents that our furry child is spiraling into serious medical issues. She has always eaten dry food, but we got her eat baby food- meat flavored, once. Otherwise she won’t touch the wet stuff. Any suggestions for more activities or how to get her active and any tips on food? We give her less than 1/2 cup a day! Many thanks!

~ Amanda

Siouxsie: Well, Amanda, it’s awesome that you really want to help Kitty lose weight. You’re absolutely right that obesity can lead to a host of health problems, and by helping her get the weight off now, you’ll help her go into her old age healthy and happy.

Thomas: Steroids are infamous for causing weight gain, so I’m sure that’s contributing to Kitty’s hefty size. It would be a really good idea to talk to your vet about gradually decreasing Kitty’s steroid dosage, especially if she’s responding well to the food you’re giving her now and her allergies are more under control. Reducing the steroids could help Kitty with her weight loss.

Bella: Of course, the fact that she’s a “dry food addict,” so to speak, certainly makes it hard to get her on more nutritious and less allergenic food, but don’t despair — Dr. Lisa Pierson has a great way to get dry food addicts to enjoy canned (or even raw, if you want to go all the way there) food, which you can find here at her website,

Whole Life freeze-dried chicken treats

Our favorite kitty treats!

Siouxsie: Another thing we might recommend is to see if she enjoys treats like freeze-dried chicken or shrimp. These are safe and healthy and contain nothing but the meat. They’re tasty and less calorie-dense than a lot of crunchy kitty treats.

Thomas: Now, about getting Kitty to enjoy exercise … our first tip would be to make her work for her food!

Bella: You can do this by buying some rolling treat balls and filling them with small pieces of freeze dried chicken treats. She’ll have to bat the ball around to get the treats to fall out and eat them.

Siouxsie: The rolling treat ball can be a good solution if you’re not ready to get her off kibble just yet because you can put her daily portion in the treat ball.

Thomas: We don’t know what kinds of toys you’ve tried with Kitty, but some cats have very strong preferences about the types of play they enjoy. Some cats are “ground hunters” and like toys that move like mice and snakes, and others are “air hunters” and like toys that fly around.

Bella: I personally love Da Bird and Neko Flies, and I could jump and chase those things all day!

Thomas: And I’m more of a mouse-chasing guy.

Siouxsie: When I was younger, I liked to chase toys that jumped around, but I never flipped end over end in the air like Bella does! These days I’m more of a sleeper, although I do sometimes carry my favorite toy around and meow and meow like I’ve got a delicious treat for the kittens I never had.

Thomas: Aww, it’s okay, Siouxsie — you know there are more kittens in the world than we’ll ever need. Besides, the way you reacted when Dahlia came home …

Siouxsie: It’s different when they’re your own.

Bella: I’m glad I’m spayed! I’ve got too much work to do to mind a litter of kittens!

Thomas: Anyhow, another thing you can do is to make Kitty climb for her food. Get her a nice, big cat tree if you don’t already have one, and encourage her to climb the cat tree by putting treats on the different levels or playing with interactive toys on the different levels.

Siouxsie: The idea is to take the things she regularly does and turn them into mental stimulation and exercise. Considering that Kitty weighs twice as much as she should, you probably should start with milder exercise at first, and as she slims down, she’ll get more interested in exercise and probably start doing it herself.

Thomas: How about you other readers? Have you been able to help a really obese cat shed those extra pounds or convert a dry food addict into a canned food eater? Please share your tips in the comments.

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Why Do Cats Bond to One Person? Mon, 13 Apr 2015 00:33:32 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Almost a year ago, my mom got my sister a cat for Chirstmas and for some reason the cat kinda just bonded to me. She doesn’t go to anyone else in the house to be petted or even listen to them, but she will listen to me and come to me while I am watching TV or on my Kindle and just start purring and wanting me to pet her. She generally only trusts me to get her food. I love cats and tend to act like a cat, just kinda doing my own thing, and she’s bonded with me so much she won’t even leave my room when I’m not home. I don’t mind it, I’m just hoping for insight about this.

~ Joseph

Siouxsie: Well, Joseph, we cats have our own ideas about who our people are. I’m sure your mother thought she was getting that cat for your sister, but once she met you, she decided you were hers!

Thomas: It sounds like you’re just that cat’s kind of person. I personally am glad I adopted Mama because she’s also quiet and easygoing, and she likes to read and do other things that make for good lap time.

Bella: Maybe your sister’s more outgoing or high-energy? Or maybe your sister had another cat in mind and when this cat came along she didn’t strike your sister’s fancy? Who knows?

Siouxsie: A long time ago, Mama had an experience a lot like yours, Joseph. Her mama brought a cat home, mostly because that cat wasn’t getting along where she was.

Thomas: Mama’s mama (our grammie) is a soft-hearted person and probably the main reason why Mama loves cats so much. Hi, Grammie!

Bella: Anyway, as soon as Grammie let that cat out of the carrier, she ran under the couch and wouldn’t come out when anyone was in the living room.

Siouxsie: But one day, Mama coaxed that cat out with some stinky canned cat food, and from that day forward, Mama was the only person she would be around. The cat snuggled with Mama in bed, sat next to her when she was reading, and only left Mama’s room when it was time to eat or use the litter box.

Thomas: I decided Mama was my human the minute I met her. She came to visit me in the shelter and I was so sick I could barely breathe. I was in the isolation room and I was so lonely! But then Mama came along and I felt like my long, lonely days were over! I was still really sick and I had a pretty rough go of it there for a while, but once I was better, she came to take me home.

Bella: And, of course, I also decided Mama was mine when I first met her. I was really sad when she left the shelter that day, but she promised me she was going to come back — and she did!

Siouxsie: I kind of grudgingly accepted Mama at first. I only came along because my sister Sinéad ran out of the carrier and curled up on her lap without even checking for danger. Somebody had to protect that foolish little cat! *sniffle*

Thomas: Ultimately, Joseph, the reasons why cats bond to specific people more than others has a lot to do with the kind of energy they put out. Most cats tend to prefer quieter people because we ourselves are pretty quiet creatures.

Bella: But some cats are really outgoing and love to be in homes full of action and energy. It really depends on the cat.

Siouxsie: It’s kind of like why you become friends with some people and not others: sometimes it’s shared interests, sometimes it’s similar lifestyles, and sometimes it’s just because a person may just rub you the wrong way for no obvious reason.

Thomas: We cats are choosy about our friends, and it sounds like your cat made a very good choice with you!

Bella: What about you other readers? Have you found a cat that wasn’t meant to be “yours” bonding with you rather than the person for whom the cat was intended? Do you have any ideas about why? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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