Cat Advice | Paws and Effect http://www.paws-and-effect.com Advice by cats, for cats and their people Tue, 07 Jul 2015 13:15:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 I Found a Homeless Kitten – Am I Doing the Right Things? http://www.paws-and-effect.com/i-found-a-homeless-kitten-am-i-doing-the-right-things/ http://www.paws-and-effect.com/i-found-a-homeless-kitten-am-i-doing-the-right-things/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 18:00:03 +0000 http://www.paws-and-effect.com/?p=4401 Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties: My boyfriend and I were driving around at 1:00am when we spotted a kitten on the roadside next to a field (no houses around). When we stopped the car I could see the kitten was very small, maybe 4 weeks old at the most, and he was eating a [...]

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Tiny kitten alone in a basket

Photo CC-BY-ND Michele Di Trani

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My boyfriend and I were driving around at 1:00am when we spotted a kitten on the roadside next to a field (no houses around). When we stopped the car I could see the kitten was very small, maybe 4 weeks old at the most, and he was eating a slug. I managed to capture the very shy and aggressive kitten, and brought him home, where I have one adult (1 year) cat. I gave the kitten a separate room and fed him, gave him a bed and plenty of water. At first he wouldn’t come out from underneath a bookshelf, but after smelling the food, he came out and ate everything and drank some water. I left him alone overnight in the room. The next morning I fed him again and introduced my cat, with some hissing from both sides at first, but now they are calm and the kitten rubs against my cat. My cat plays a little rough at times, but licks the kitten and seems to show him how to use things. The kitten follows my cat everywhere he can, and now purrs and rubs against me when I stroke him. He is eating often, drinking, and now using the litter box regularly. He is very very thin and was very dirty; I’ve given him a little wash. My problem is that he lays in bed 80% of the day even when he’s not sleeping, and I haven’t seen him play yet. Is this normal? He also licks his lips quite often. Is this enough concern for a vet visit? It’s very difficult for me to take time from work as a head chef, but I have an appointment for him in 2 weeks’ time. Do you have some advice on how to take care of such a young homeless kitten?

~ Siobhan

Thomas: First of all, thank you so much for rescuing a tiny kitten in need, Siobhan — that was an awesome thing for you and your boyfriend to do!

Bella: It sounds like you’re doing a lot of the right things in that you fed the kitten, gave him his own room and introduced him to your resident cat.

Thomas: We should point out here that we’re referring to the kitten as “him” even though Siobhan is not sure what sex he is, just to make life easier for ourselves and avoid calling a living being “it.”

Bella: We do, however, think you should take the little one to the vet as soon as you can.

Thomas: We get concerned about things like the possible spread of disease or parasites because the little guy hasn’t had his shots yet and almost every kitten has worms.

Bella: Also, it is kind of odd that the little one is sleeping so much.

Thomas: It may be that the poor little thing has been so undernourished that he just doesn’t have the energy to play yet, but it’s still a good reason to take him to the vet.

Bella: With kittens as young as the little one, we recommend adding some kitten milk replacer to his diet. This will give him the nutrients he needs because he’s probably not old enough to be weaned and should still be nursing from his mama.

Thomas: He should also get kitten food rather than adult cat food. Again, kitten food has more calories and is more nutrient-dense, which is important for a growing kitten!

Bella: Your vet will also be able to tell you how to care for him and make sure he grows up to be big and strong.

Thomas: The vet will also be able to tell you whether you have a little boy or a little girl on your hands, about how old said he is, and give you an idea when the kitten should be spayed or neutered.

Bella: Sheltermedicine.com has some great information about raising orphaned kittens, which you can find here. We recommend you check it out because you might find it helpful.

Thomas: I know we’ve got some “professional” kitten fosterers among our readers. What advice do you have for Siobhan? Please share it in the comments!

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Can Cats Get PTSD? http://www.paws-and-effect.com/can-cats-get-ptsd/ http://www.paws-and-effect.com/can-cats-get-ptsd/#comments Sun, 28 Jun 2015 18:38:29 +0000 http://www.paws-and-effect.com/?p=4392 Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties: I have a beautiful cat who was a rescue kitten that I got at 8 weeks old, she was found by a mechanic at about 4 weeks old in a car engine hiding and covered in oil. She had been kicked and was almost dead, and she was at the vet on life [...]

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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a beautiful cat who was a rescue kitten that I got at 8 weeks old, she was found by a mechanic at about 4 weeks old in a car engine hiding and covered in oil. She had been kicked and was almost dead, and she was at the vet on life support for two days. When I got her, she was terrified and stayed clinging to a chair for two whole days. Olive is now 2-1/2 years old, she has anxiety, is hypervigilant and has a high startle response, but otherwise is very playful, loving, and a very special girl. She loves my cuddles and I adore her. However, Olive will not use any litter tray. She pees on blankets, the mattress in my spare bedroom, clothes, anything that she can reach, she pees on. Even today, a blanket had been blown off my washing line and had fallen on the ground, and she chose to pee on the blanket despite having a whole garden to use. I took her to a vet who didn’t check her for a UTI — she was there as she had a cat bite on her face from a fight as she is very territorial about her house — but when I mentioned it the vet said the peeing is not a medical issue, its a behavioral one, that she has such high levels of anxiety that this could be an underlying trigger for peeing on soft items. He recommend anti-anxiety medication which I am unsure about. I wonder if she does have PTSD from early life trauma/abuse. I have two other cats who she absolutely adores; they preen each other and play together, and the other two always use the litter box. Olive doesn’t pee anywhere she sleeps or I sleep, so my bed and sofas appear to be safe. But this problem is really causing me a lot of stress too as I have the biggest pile of unending laundry and I don’t know what to do to help her or stop this behavior. Any advice would be so appreciated.

~ Hollie

Thomas: The answer to your main question, Hollie, is yes — cats can get PTSD.

Bella: Post-traumatic stress disorder causes the symptoms you’re mentioning: hypervigilance, anxiety, fighting and inappropriate elimination.

Thomas: Trauma causes real physiological changes in the brain, and even though you humans say our brains aren’t as complex as yours, we’re still mammals and we still have the same kind of brains as you.

Bella: The changes that happen in the brain are very basic and they occur in areas that are all about stress response, regulating emotional responses, and ability to differentiate past from present.

Thomas: Inappropriate urination, when not caused by medical problems, is a sign of territorial stress and emotional discomfort. Although Olive feels safe and comfortable with you, she pees on other objects because the smell of her urine gives her comfort and eases her fear.

Bella: So what can you do about it? Well, that short course of anti-anxiety medication your vet recommended will ease the PTSD-generated stress response and allow her to reprogram her mind as she realizes she’s safe.

Thomas: Mama knows a little bit about PTSD from personal experience, and she says that when she’s feeling really anxious, sometimes a little Bach Rescue Remedy helps. You can get the regular kind, preserved in alcohol, and rub a drop or two into the fur on the top of her head.

Bella: But there’s also a version just for pets that is preserved in glycerine.

Thomas: When Olive has a major episode — for example, if she gets in a fight with one of her housemates — try giving her some Rescue Remedy. It’s even better if you can give it before the fight, so if you see her revving up and getting aggressive, give the Rescue Remedy then.

Bella: Now, about the peeing. The first thing we’d recommend is that if you only have one litter box, get at least one more. Most behaviorists recommend one litter box per cat, plus one extra.

Thomas: The reason we say this is, it could be that Olive feels that she can’t use the litter box because it “belongs to” the other cats.

Bella: Even though Olive seems to be the aggressor in territorial fights, your other cats may have conveyed to her that the litter box belongs to them and them only.

Thomas: There’s a cat litter called Cat Attract that may help get her into the litter box. We’ve never tried it ourselves, but some of our cat blogging friends have had good results with it, so you may want to try that as well.

Bella: You’re also going to want to increase her confidence by playing with her in the problem areas of the house. Interactive play with a string or feather toy can do wonders to help a cat feel like she owns a space.

Thomas: Celebrity behaviorist Jackson Galaxy, star of Animal Planet’s awesome My Cat From Hell, actually dealt with Mia, a cat who had PTSD.

Bella: With another cat Xena, he used some of his Spirit Essences (flower essences) to help ease her symptoms. In conjunction with anti-anxiety medication, addition of litter boxes and confidence-building, these essences might help Olive, too.

Thomas: How about you other readers? Have you had a cat with PTSD? How did you help him or her?

Bella: Please tell us about your experiences in the comments!

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Will My Cats Be Okay If They’re Separated? http://www.paws-and-effect.com/will-my-cats-be-okay-if-theyre-separated/ http://www.paws-and-effect.com/will-my-cats-be-okay-if-theyre-separated/#comments Mon, 22 Jun 2015 00:31:08 +0000 http://www.paws-and-effect.com/?p=4385 Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties: My boyfriend and I of seven years decided to go our separate ways when our lease is up in a month. We have two cats, one is 4 years old and the other is 2. They snuggle and groom each other and play all the time. He is taking [...]

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Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Thomas and Bella snuggling. Photo CC-BY-SA-ND-NC JaneA Kelley

Photo CC-BY-SA-NC JaneA Kelley

My boyfriend and I of seven years decided to go our separate ways when our lease is up in a month. We have two cats, one is 4 years old and the other is 2. They snuggle and groom each other and play all the time. He is taking the 4-year-old for sure because she picked him as hers years ago. The 2-year-old likes us both evenly, maybe me just the slightest bit more. Would be be traumatizing to them if he takes the 4-year-old and I take the 2-year-old? My initial reaction was not to separate them and let him take both but the more I sit here the more I want to take one. I am not thinking clearly as my father died two weeks ago and then I get this bomb dropped on me I am losing my significant other and my girls (the cats). Thank you for your honest insight.

~ Michelle

Thomas: Before we even start, Michelle, we want to extend you our condolences and compassion during this really tragic time in your life. Even one of these things would knock most people on their butts, but to have three all at once? We’re amazed you’re still even functioning!

Bella: Ultimately we think it’s going to be best if the cats stay together since they seem to be a bonded pair. But maybe you can “borrow” the 2-year-old for a few nights to help you settle into your new place.

Thomas: If you and your ex do decide to temporarily split custody of the cats, it’s important for both of you to carefully monitor each cat’s behavior. If either of the cats starts acting strange, it’s time to call off the split-custody arrangement.

Bella: When you do bring the cats back together, hopefully they’ll be as glad to see each other as they ever were and they’ll welcome each other with open paws.

Thomas: If they seem to be hesitant or start acting weirdly, you’ll want to reintroduce them using this technique from feline behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett. (Even though this article says it’s for aggressive cats, you may find this helpful if the two cats don’t recognize each other because they’ll smell different from living in different houses.)

Bella: Please be sure that wherever you move is pet-friendly, because we think it’ll be a big help for you to have a cat or two around.

Thomas: As we mentioned in an earlier post, we’d strongly encourage you to adopt adult cats — their personalities are fully formed, and they may just have gone through a breakup of their own!

Bella: The wonderful thing about cats and people is that we can help each other get through those hard times, and when we’re going through similar things, we can take strength from one another.

Thomas: Back to the temporary custody thing, Michelle — you and your ex will know within a day if it’s going to work out or if the cats are pining for each other.

Bella: If the cats aren’t doing well without each other, bring the 2-year-old back to your ex, reintroduce them, and find yourself a wonderful furry friend of your own.

Thomas: How about you other readers? Would you recommend that Michelle go with temporary custody, permanent custody of one cat, or forget even temporary custody and adopt a new cat or two of her own when she moves to her new home? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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I’m Trying a New Food Designed to #FeedThePursuit http://www.paws-and-effect.com/im-trying-a-new-food-designed-to-feedthepursuit/ http://www.paws-and-effect.com/im-trying-a-new-food-designed-to-feedthepursuit/#comments Thu, 18 Jun 2015 20:05:36 +0000 http://www.paws-and-effect.com/?p=4373 Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Natural Balance®. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Natural Balance® Wild Pursuit™ but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Natural Balance is not responsible for the content of this article. I’m trying a new food designed to feed [...]

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Natural Balance®. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Natural Balance® Wild Pursuit™ but Paws and Effect only shares information we feel is relevant to our readers. Natural Balance is not responsible for the content of this article.

I’m trying a new food designed to feed the true nature of Bella and Thomas.

When Natural Balance® Pet Foods approached me with an opportunity to test and spread the word about their new Natural Balance® Wild Pursuit™ food, I jumped at the chance. Why? Because it is a high-protein, grain-free food — a key requirement for anything I feed Thomas and Bella.

Natural Balance Wild Pursuit canned cat food

With a diabetic in remission and a senior gentleman under my care, I have to be very careful about what I feed my cats — and I wouldn’t promote a food I wouldn’t give to my own cats.

My first task was to make sure they liked the food, so I bought 20 cans — four cans of each of the five flavors — and let them try each out.

Their favorite at this point seems to be the chicken, turkey and quail formula. Each formula has a balanced blend of three protein sources including turkey, chicken and guinea fowl; trout, salmon and tuna; beef, buffalo and venison; and salmon, herring and walleye.

PE-eat-same-dish-1

They have their own dishes, but they took turns eating out of one another’s bowls.

Natural Balance says that Natural Balance Wild Pursuit will feed a cat’s true nature, and if my first experience of feeding it to Thomas and Bella is any indication, it certainly does that! They ate the food with gusto and eagerly checked one another’s dishes to try the different flavors.

Thomas and Bella eating out of Bella's dish

They went from dish to dish trying the new food.

Many cat foods are high in carbohydrates, and that can be a problem. My vet has told me that biologically, cats can’t efficiently metabolize carbohydrates, and this is one reason why she recommends a high-protein, grain-free diet for all her patients. Natural Balance Wild Pursuit has a 100% grain free formula with unique nutrient sources such as garbanzo beans and peas, which are naturally concentrated energy — certainly lower in carbohydrates than many dry or canned cat foods on the market.

Bella stretched out in a sun puddle

Bella relaxes after a delicious meal.

Both Bella and Thomas seem to meow in agreement that Natural Balance Wild Pursuit is worthy of their most exalted (and perhaps just a bit silly) character! They like the taste and the variety of flavors, and I like the fact that it’s complete and balanced nutrition formulated by expert nutritionists.

Thomas plays with a catnip toy

It doesn’t take much to bring out Thomas’s wild nature!

If you’re interested in trying Natural Balance Wild Pursuit, it’s available at independent pet stores as well as at Petco and online outlets including Chewy.com, Pet360.com and Petflow.com.

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Share the Love: Bring Home an Adult Cat … Or Two! http://www.paws-and-effect.com/share-the-love-adopt-a-cat-month-adult-cat/ http://www.paws-and-effect.com/share-the-love-adopt-a-cat-month-adult-cat/#comments Sun, 14 Jun 2015 19:51:17 +0000 http://www.paws-and-effect.com/?p=4360 June is Adopt-A-Cat Month. Would you consider adopting an older cat? We both remember the day we got to go home. It was the best day of our lives! Even though we cried all the way there, in our hearts we were purring and purring because we knew somebody loved us as much as we [...]

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June is Adopt-A-Cat Month. Would you consider adopting an older cat?

We both remember the day we got to go home. It was the best day of our lives! Even though we cried all the way there, in our hearts we were purring and purring because we knew somebody loved us as much as we loved them.

And even though we were adopted separately, many years apart, we both love each other right to pieces, too.

Close-up of a black cat and a tabby cat snuggled together in a bed.

We love to snuggle! Photo CC-BY-SA JaneA Kelley

We know kitten season is in full swing, and it’s so hard to resist the temptations of those cute little babies with their tiny squeaks and purrs bigger than their bodies. But we have a special Adopt-A-Cat Month request for you: Please visit the adult cats first! You’d be amazed how much love a grown-up or special needs cat can give.

Here are some great reasons to adopt an adult cat:

1. Their personalities are fully formed

You never know quite what you’re going to get when you bring home a kitten. All the environmental enrichment and training in the world may not bring you the lap cat you were yearning for, or the independent spirit that can do well even if you spend long hours away from home.

2. You’ll still have lots of years together

Youth is no guarantee of a long relationship. After two of our sisters died tragically at young ages, we know that. A well cared-for cat can live at least 15 years, so even if you adopt an older adult, you’re still likely to enjoy a long and love-filled life together.

Thomas and Bella in silhouette

Relaxing after a grooming session. Photo CC-BY-SA JaneA Kelley

3. They’re extra grateful

Adult cats usually spend a lot longer at the shelter than kittens do. If the shelter is open-admission, adults, especially older adults, are the first to be put down to make space for “more adoptable” cats. Often, adult cats have had homes and were surrendered to the shelter for reasons ranging from the legitimate (Thomas’s first human had to go to a nursing home) to the absolutely shocking (the cat didn’t match the new furniture — yes, we actually have heard that one before). When an adult kitty finally does find a home, you’ll find that after they settle in, the love and gratitude in their eyes may overwhelm you.

4. Adult cats are calmer

Adult cats aren’t crazy curtain-climbers. They don’t need to be trained not to bite or scratch or use your body as a climbing post.

5. On the other hand, they’re still quite capable of kittenish antics

Even though older cats are more sedate, they can surprise you with their vigor when chasing a toy or running up the kitty condo. Three-year-old Bella isn’t quite as hyper as she used to be, but she still loves to go running through the house playing soccer with her favorite toy.

Thomas sticks his tongue out at Bella

Pthbbbbt! Photo CC-BY-SA JaneA Kelley

Adult cats can be plenty of fun, too. They’re excellent bed warmers on cold nights and wonderful lap snugglers when it’s movie time.

If you’re an older person and you’re concerned that your cat might outlive you, please consider adopting a senior cat. Some shelters have “seniors for seniors” programs, where senior cats are adopted to human senior citizens free of charge or for a drastically reduced adoption fees.

If you’re concerned about your ability to pay for veterinary care, some shelters offer permanent foster programs, in which you provide a loving home for a senior or special needs cat and the shelter pays for all that cat’s medical care, from routine screenings to the cost of treating a chronic illness.

If you can’t adopt, Petfinder has a list of 10 great ways you can support Adopt-A-Cat Month. Check it out and if you can do one or more of these things, please do.

Have you adopted an adult, senior or special-needs cat? Have you participated in a permanent foster or “pawspice” program and helped a cat that way? Please share your adoption story in the comments!

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