Cat Advice | Paws and Effect Advice by cats, for cats and their people Sun, 01 Mar 2015 22:44:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 OMG, My Cat Has The Worst-Smelling Poop Ever! Help! Sun, 01 Mar 2015 22:44:31 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My female kitty, Mello, who is just under a year old, has been stinking up the whole house lately. I understand that poop is in no way supposed to smell like flowers, but her poop smells so awful that it makes me gag! We have three litter boxes, two downstairs and one upstairs, and we clean them all out multiple times a day, every day. Her brothers, from the same litter, do not have this problem, and up until a month ago neither did she. There haven’t been any changes in her diet, she hasn’t gotten into the garbage, she’s not on any new medications since we got her fixed (she does take a monthly wormer and a gets a flea dip and/or treatment every three months). She’s an indoor kitty, and neither she nor her brothers have ever been outside. We don’t have any parasites or pests, and she hasn’t shown any signs of fleas since she was two months old. Any advice on what we can do for my little princess?

~ Dia

Siouxsie: Well, Dia, there are a couple of things that could be happening here.

Thomas: First, we don’t know how long it’s been since Mello was spayed, but sometimes the hormone changes and the drugs used for anesthesia and pain management can change the chemical balance of the body, which can cause the odor of pee and poop to change.

Bella: But we think the most likely culprit is food.

Siouxsie: We know you said you haven’t changed Mello’s diet, but it’s not unheard of for manufacturers to change the formula or substitute ingredients in cat foods. Some cats can tolerate this better than others.

Thomas: It may be that Mello’s brothers have tougher digestive systems and so they’re not reacting in the same way to whatever changes might have been made in the food.

Bella: Whatever the case, it’s absolutely not normal for a cat to have such horrific-smelling poop that it makes you gag and makes her want to get away from it as fast as she can!

Siouxsie: We’d recommend that you call your vet. He or she might have some insights for you, or possibly a digestive supplement that might help Mello’s good gut bacteria to flourish and minimize the smell.

Thomas: Then you might want to try a different food — maybe a limited-ingredient diet, which might help to calm down her “grumpy guts.”

Bella: For odor control, there are a number of options you have. Do not use products like spray air fresheners because cats’ noses are very sensitive and they’re so strong that they could actually keep the cats away from the litter box.

Siouxsie: Baking soda is a great natural deodorant. A number of Mama’s friends have had good experiences keeping litter box odor under control with the Critterzone Air Naturalizer, too.

Thomas: The Critterzone’s not cheap, but if it does a good job, we figure it’s well worth the cost.

Bella: UV air sanitizers can also help. Those vary tremendously in price, but Mama has other friends who have had good luck with those as well.

Siouxsie: If you just want to get a regular air purifier and plug it in near the litter boxes, that would probably help, too.

Thomas: Keep your litter boxes in well-ventilated areas so you can open the windows and let the stink out.

Bella: What about you other readers? Have you had a cat with horrible-smelling poop? How did you keep the odor under control, and what did you do to help your cat deal with whatever was going on in their body that caused their poop to reek? Share your answers in the comments, please.

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When Kitten Season Comes to You, Give #FoodShelterLove Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:00:32 +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.

Every year I talk about kitten season and the importance of spaying and neutering to stem the tide of kittens that overwhelms animal shelters every year and puts adult cats at grave risk of being killed because homes can’t be found for them. But I’ll never forget the summer when kitten season came to us.

My mother called me one sweltering July afternoon. “A very pregnant cat just showed up on my doorstep,” she said. “She looks like she’s just about to pop, but I can’t afford a mom cat and a litter of kittens and I don’t know if I’ll be able to take care of them!”

A mother cat and her litter of three kittens

This lucky cat showed up on my mother’s doorstep just before her kittens were due.

I knew I couldn’t take in more cats. I already had three, and the place where I was living was not an appropriate or safe place for a mom cat and a litter of newborn kittens.

“How about calling the town shelter and seeing if they could help you out with the costs if you agree to foster for them?” I suggested. “I’ll help where I can, too.”

And thus began my mother’s fostering adventure.

Mom and I are no strangers to kitten care, having midwifed and raised several litters produced by our own cats back in the days before spaying and neutering was a thing.

JaneA and two foster kittens

Here I am with two of Rosie’s kittens. These guys were named Baxter and Butterfly, if I recall correctly.

Hills Food, Shelter, Love logo and Science Diet logoOne thing Mom taught me is that you can have all the shelter and love in the world, but if you don’t have food for mom-cat and her babies, things will not end well. Volunteering at an animal shelter also showed me just how much food even a small shelter goes through every single day. With that experience, I’m all about supporting any way for shelters to get the food they need to keep their feline charges healthy, so when I heard about Hills’ Food, Shelter & Love Program, I knew I wanted to spread the word.

In the case of my mother’s fostering experience, although the town animal shelter provided for vet care, they didn’t have the budget to pay for food for the mama cat (who was now named Rosabelle, or Rosie for short) and her kittens, so Mom and I took care of that. After all, proper nutrition means happier and healthier cats and kittens, which means they’re more likely to find great homes — and since we’d both fallen hard for Rosabelle and her kittens, we definitely wanted to make sure they’d have the best shot.

A black and white kitten sits next to a computer keyboard

Little Butterfly is studying how to become a world-famous feline blogger.

Our fostering story has a very happy ending. Once the kittens were old enough to find homes, all three of them found wonderful families with whom to spend their lives. As for Rosabelle? Mom couldn’t send her off to the shelter: she’d chosen Mom to be her rescuer, and Mom adored her right back. So once the kittens had found their homes, Mom signed the adoption papers and made it official: Rosie, too, had her forever home.

Hills Science Diet Healthy Development Kitten FormulaIf your shelter is interested in participating in the Food, Shelter & Love Program, learn more about the benefits of the program and how to qualify.

If you happen to feed your cats Hill’s Science Diet, you’re helping to support the Food, Shelter & Love Program, and if you’re fostering kittens, you might want to check out Hill’s Science Diet Healthy Development Kitten Formula.

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How Can I Get the Mats Out of My Cat’s Fur? Mon, 23 Feb 2015 00:10:11 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Recently we helped rescue an adult female Maine Coon mix who was living near our local river walk. She has been spotted there for about 1 month. She is now less nervous around us but still leery of much contact. She will allow me to gently brush her coat along her spine and a bit to each side of it. The undercoat on her belly and neck has areas that are very matted. What do you suggest be done with these matted areas and how do we accomplish your suggestions? Thank you for all you do.

~ Donna

Siouxsie: Funny you should mention mats. I’m rather embarrassed to say that I had a little mat of my own last week. Mama was able to get it out of my fur, but it wasn’t very pleasant.

Thomas: Long-haired cats do have a tendency to get pretty matted up, especially when they’re living as strays and they don’t have humans to look after their fur. It’s a good thing this kitty found you and you want to help her.

Bella: Probably the best and least painful thing to do would be to bring her to the vet and have them give her a “lion cut” like the one in the photo above.

Siouxsie: Of course, if you live in an area where it’s still cold and this cat is still living outdoors, now is definitely not the time to have all of her fur shaved off.

Thomas: But if you have been able to coax her indoors, we’d strongly recommend a lion cut. If you take her to the vet, they’ll be able to sedate her, which will make the process a lot less stressful.

Bella: They also don’t have to shave her right down to the skin like they did for the kitty in the photo.

Siouxsie: While the cat is sedated, they may be able to comb out other mats that are forming around her neck or in her armpits, too.

Thomas: And once you get rid of all the mats, you can slowly get her used to being brushed all over her body in order to keep the mats under control in the future.

Bella: We also recommend that you ask your vet or a groomer about the best brushes to use on a long-haired cat.

Siouxsie: On the other hand, if it’s still too cold or the cat isn’t very trusting yet, you may want to try using a mat splitter. This tool basically breaks the mat which makes it easier to comb out.

Thomas: Mama wrote some tips on grooming long-haired cats for Catster, which you can find here — complete with a video showing a groomer working on a long-haired kitty.

Bella: Remember that cats have very delicate skin, so don’t pull too hard on mats.

Siouxsie: So far, it sounds like you’re doing the right thing: getting this cat used to being touched and brushed. Keep it up, be patient, and hopefully this beautiful cat will let you take her in for a shave and a haircut.

Thomas: Please let us know how things turn out — and maybe show us a picture of this cat when she’s all nice and smooth again.

Bella: What about you other readers? Do you have tips for grooming long-haired cats, especially if they’re kind of skittish about being groomed? Please share them in the comments. Purrrs!

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How Long Does It Take for Ovaban to Prevent Pregnancy? Sun, 15 Feb 2015 23:36:26 +0000 [...] ]]> Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

A brown tabby cat sits in a window

Photo CC-BY-SA JaneA Kelley

I have an unspayed female housecat. I had to bring a badly injured tomcat inside for treatment. I am keeping the two separated, but he is getting restless and it is getting harder to keep him restricted to the small room he is confined in, but he is not well yet and it is too cold to put him back outside. I have started my cat on 4mg of Ovaban twice a week. She has only had one dose so far; how many doses will it take before she cannot get pregnant if she accidentally meets up with the tom? Thank you so much for your help

~ Vicki

Thomas: First of all, Ovaban (megestrol acetate) is not actually designed to prevent pregnancy. It’s designed to delay the onset of estrus — that is, to keep a cat from going into heat.

Bella: It does this in the same way a lot of human birth control pills work. It’s similar to the natural hormone progesterone, which, to put it in a very basic way, makes the body think it’s pregnant. Hey, Siouxsie, where are you? Siooouuuuux-sie … it’s time to write this week’s post!

Siouxsie: Mrff … urmph … what? Oh, yeah, this week’s post. *yaaawn* What were we talking about?

Bella: Ovaban and pregnancy and girl and boy cats!

Siouxsie: Oh, okay. Um…

Thomas: It’s okay, Siouxsie, we’ll give you a chance to catch up. So, Vicky, Ovaban is not going to stop your cat from getting pregnant; it’s just going to keep her from going into heat. And it’s only available through veterinarians or by prescription from a veterinarian.

Bella: That said, Ovaban should not be used as a long-term contraceptive because there are some fairly significant potential health risks. We don’t know if your vet talked to you about these, but we hope she did.

Siouxsie: According to the fine folks at PetPlace, one of the most serious risks arising from the use of Ovaban is that it increases the risk of uterine infection. This infection, often referred to as pyometra, can be fatal.

Thomas: Because Ovaban has steroid-like effects that can weaken the adrenal glands to the point where the body fails to produce necessary hormones, it can lead to symptoms of Addison’s disease. These symptoms include lethargy, lack of appetite, shaking, low body temperature, vomiting, weight loss, blood in the stools, hair loss, and excessive urination and thirst. Those symptoms can start just a few weeks after beginning treatment with Ovaban!

Bella: And because of the steroid-like effects, it can produce transient diabetes as well. And let me tell you, diabetes is no fun!

Siouxsie: Our biggest question is, what prompted you to try Ovaban rather than having your cat spayed? Even if you don’t have an intact tomcat in the house and your cat never manages to escape when she’s in heat, leaving a female cat intact dramatically increases the risk of cancers of the uterus, ovaries and mammary glands.

Thomas: Also, recurring episodes of estrus can lead to behavioral problems including inappropriate urine marking and stress-based behaviors like hunting, scratching and biting.

Bella: And when an unspayed female cat doesn’t get bred, the cycles of heat get closer and closer together until the cat is almost constantly in heat. That’s a truly miserable experience for both you and the cat!

Siouxsie: Having an unspayed female in the house is also going to provoke the tomcat into spraying, which is also miserable and stinky.

Thomas: We’re not sure why you would choose to pay for medications but not for a spay. Trust me, Mama works at a pet health insurance company and she knows how much it costs to treat diabetes and Addison’s disease. Just one vial of insulin can cost more than $200.00, and the ongoing need for supplies and blood tests will add up very quickly. Having your cat spayed at a low-cost clinic is chump change compared to the treatment of chronic diseases.

Bella: If you are concerned about the cost, though, SpayUSA has a huge listing of free and low-cost spay/neuter resources all across the U.S.

Siouxsie: So while we can’t tell you for sure how long it’s going to take for the Ovaban to be completely effective, we’d very much encourage you to do some more research about the potential issues with long-term use, and please have your kitty spayed (and the tomcat neutered before he goes back outside).

Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you ever used Ovaban for your cats? Do you know more about the length of time before it becomes effective in pregnancy prevention? Please share your tips in the comments.

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