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11 May, 2007 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

Water, Water Everywhere

Sadly, there’s a majority of cats with a drinking problem. The problem is, they simply don’t drink enough.

The weakest part of a cat is the kidneys. To help keep kidneys nice and healthy, a cat needs to keep hydrated.

Wet food really helps out in this area. Most wet foods are made up of over 70% water. A cat who switches from dry to wet will drink less because he’s getting more.

But wet food alone is not enough. It’s very important to keep fresh, clean water available at all times.

In my own home, we have 4 dishes and 4 fountains. Upstairs I keep a CatIt and a Drinkwell and downstairs is another Drinkwell and a Bubbler. The only fountains we don’t have is the Fresh Flow, Cat Fountain, and a Le Bistro (which is dumb).

To be fair, the PetMate Bubbler isn’t really used as a fountain. None of my 4 cats have ever taken a drink from it, but Oliver is fascinated by it. My husband and I call it Bubble TV because Oliver can watch it for a long time without looking away. Thankfully it was only $20 so I consider it a pricey toy.

PetMate Bubbler = Bubble TV

I actually bought a Drinkwell back when we just had Annie and Oliver but I got rid of it when we moved from Los Angeles to Seattle because I thought it was a pain. Dust and hair was constantly dirtying it. I’ve learned this is just a part of fountain life.

Now I have one on both levels but have only ever seen Penny drink from the one downstairs. I like that it has a filter and is only sort of a pain to clean.

Drinkwell Fountain

I used to have the FreshFlow as well but got rid of that one during an even earlier move. Pixel used it (may she rest in peace). This was years ago when I kept her food near her water. I know better now. I’ve actually thought of purchasing another one of these for the current kitties. I do like that it also has a filter.

PetMate FreshFlow

The CatIt lives in the master bathroom for Stella to use as Stella lives in the master bedroom. (Her and Oliver are not compatible.) She really enjoys drinking from the dome and it’s adorable to watch. This one also has a filter plus an unusual design. It’s also quieter than the Bubbler and the Drinkwells.The mat it came with was useless though. I keep it outside Stella’s litter box. The little dish for food was lame too and I’ll get to why in a moment.

CatIt Fountain

The one fountain I have never purchased (and never will) is the PetMate LeBistro. It’s just laziness. It doesn’t have a filter or even circulate water. It’s just stale water in a plastic tub. It encourages sloth, in my humble opinion. Boo and hiss to LeBistro and its dumb name.

PetMate LeBistro

My chief complaint with all of these designs is plastic. Plastic dishes can cause acne in cats. Cats should be eating and drinking from stainless steel, stoneware, or ceramic. Besides the health factor, non-plastic dishes look nicer.

The only waterer that isn’t entirely plastic is the Cat Fountain. I don’t have one because I don’t buy bottled water but I think it’s a clever idea.

CatFountain

Coming it at $7 it’s also the cheapest. Maybe I should order one. My suggestion here would be to place a new plastic bottle in it every other day. All plastic can harbor bacteria and no one wants to ingest bacteria.

Another way to encourage cats to drink their water is to keep it far from their food. Water absorbs smell and if a cat sniffs her water and it smells like food, she may just walk on.

The 4 water dishes around the house are far from the kitchen where the kitties eat. It can be annoying sometimes to gather all the dishes, rinse them with hot water, and refill them again with filtered water from a Brita pitcher we keep in the kitchen, but my cats (and all cats) deserve the best. And in this case the best means water that doesn’t have carpet fibers, fur, dust, and the occasional toy in it.

10 May, 2007 at 5:10 pm Leave a comment

The Importance of ID

I’m a stickler for identification. I never knew I was until Oliver was big enough to wear a collar. In my quest to find a nice collar for him I was surprised by my choices: reflective, buckled, jeweled, bells, break away, etc. I had previously read that a break away collar is very important for cats. Should a cat get entangled in a tree, he can break away if his collar does.

I remember thinking reflective was crucial. The headlights of a car could pick up the reflective paw prints or even the lights of a flashlight. So I bought Oliver a reflective, break away collar. When Annie came into our lives, I got her one too. Then one for Penny and finally Stella.

All 4 of my cats are strictly indoor only, yet they wear collars. On these collars are 2 tags: their license with the county and another tag I had made which reads “PLEASE CALL” and my cell phone number.

Annie in her collar with tag and license.

I opted to for it to read “PLEASE CALL” instead of their names because I didn’t want to risk someone seeing how beautiful and friendly my cats are and decided to keep one for himself. It would be easier to bond with an animal by knowing his name. Paranoid? Maybe.

On top of wearing collars, my 4 are also microchipped. You can never be too careful. Should one of my cats get out (God forbid) and have their collar come off, I would hope that some caring stranger would take my dear lost cat to a shelter or vet where he or she would be scanned and I could be contacted.

The statistics are frightening. So few cats are returned to their owners. I think I know why.

Whenever I’m out driving or walking I always keep an eye out for cats. When I see one, I simply don’t know what to do. Questions keep swimming in my mind: Is this cat lost? Is that a stray? Does that cat have indoor and outdoor access? Was she dumped here when her family moved? Should I try to catch him? Should I borrow a humane trap from a shelter? What do I do?!

So many cats are allowed outside but so many cats are also lost. I’ve heard of cats escaping homes without meaning to, of cats falling from high rise apartment, of cats being allowed to explore outside without any identification.
What am I supposed to think when I see cats around the neighborhood?

I am in favor of indoor only cats. The only way I would ever allow mine outside is if I owned a house and installed the Purrfect Fence. And even then, they would only go outside if me or Mike was out there with them. But alas, we live in a townhouse and aren’t allowed such luxuries. Instead I keep the sliding glass door and windows open when the weather is nice, we have tall cat tress with good views, and a cat window seat in installed behind me in the office.

If there was a law to keep all cats indoors, I would be all for it. An outdoor cat’s life expectancy is less than 5 years while indoor cats can live up to twenty. Besides, it’s a scary world out there full of cruel people (including kids), mean dogs, territorial raccoons, antifreeze, poisonous flowers, and cars.

9 May, 2007 at 3:52 pm 2 comments

Requirements

Cats are obligate carnivores. That simply means that they have to eat meat. Humans, on the other hand, are not. Neither are dogs.

I would never dream of subjecting my vegetarian feeding habits on my cats. Never. I’m horrified that companies with a vegan line of cat food even exist.

Dogs, though, are different. If I had a dog, he or she would eat this recipe I found in a 1976 cookbook called Laurel’s Kitchen.

Vegetarian Diet for Dogs

The recipe for the Basic Doggie Dinner is:

* 2 tablespoons oil

* 1 cooked egg

* 2 cups cooked vegetables (blended unless very soft)

* 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

* 1 cup milk

* bread ends and leftover cereal and beans

This will most likely be the only time I ever mention dogs.

8 May, 2007 at 2:37 pm Leave a comment

10 Ways to Play With a Cat

Beth Adelman is a Certified Feline Behavior Consultant. She wrote these 10 tips (for pet sitters) and I really think they are worth passing on.

1. Talk to the Cat Face to Face

This may not seem like play, but one-on-one attention is very meaningful to the cat. This kind of nonphysical contact is especially important for cats who are reluctant to be touched, and is a way to reach out and build trust. It’s also a great way to start your visit with a cat who you are already friends with. Go to wherever the cat is and get down to her eye level, at a distance you would find comfortable for talking to a person. Look at her face and speak sweetly. It doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you speak softly and use the cat’s name often. Use your “cat voice” – cats prefer a soft, high-pitched voice. Your look should also be soft and not challenging – not a stare. Blink slowly, especially in response to the cat’s blinks. A blink is the cat’s way of saying, “I’m relaxed enough with you that I don’t have to keep constant watch.” When you blink back, you’re saying, ” Me too.” (If there’s more than one cat in the house, give each cat a few moments of this individual attention.)

2. Sing a Duet With the Cat

When she meows, do your best to respond with exactly the same sound. Keep echoing her as she moves from verse to verse. This is a great way to maintain contact with the cat as you go about other chores, such as scooping the litter box or preparing the meal.

3. Place a Small Treat in a Paper Cup and Put It On the Floor

Tossing a treat on the floor in front of the cat won’t do anything to stimulate her mind or her hunting instincts. Cats actually enjoy working for their food. The cat will have to either pull the treat out of the cup with her paw or knock over the cup. Either way, she’s thinking and working.

4. The Supper Olympics

Take the cat’s dry food, sit down on the floor, and toss a piece of kibble across the floor, one at a time, for the cat to chase and eat. It takes less time than you think to feed a cat a meal this way, and you have tapped into the cat’s hunting instincts and given her a good workout. If there are two cats, toss the food in opposite directions to avoid competition. You may also have to send the more dominant one farther down the hallway for each piece of food. (This is a tough game to play with just one person and more than two cats, and impossible to play with wet cat food.) Other events in the Supper Olympics include covering the food dish with a paper towel that the cat must drag off before eating (works with wet or dry), putting ping pong balls in the dish with dry food (different cats solve the problem in different ways), using a treat ball to feed dry food, sticking little bits of dry food between the coils of rope in a sisal scratching post, and feeding wet or dry food in several courses by placing it in a couple of small dishes that you set out in different rooms.

5. Put Something You Brought In From Outside On the Floor

Indoor cats crave novel experiences, and they read the outside world when they sniff something new. After sniffing may come some rubbing (scent marking), and the cat is also likely to sit on the object, if possible. These behaviors are part of the cat’s efforts to incorporate the novel object into her territory. If you crumple up a piece of junk mail, even better – you’re adding some auditory fun. Cats often locate their prey first by hearing it scurry through the grass, and the sound of crumpled paper on the floor is a good approximation that will stimulate the cat to chase and hunt. Often this can turn into a game of knock-hockey with the crumpled paper; you should definitely join in.

6. Open a Magazine or Newspaper On the Floor and Make a Cat Toy Dart Out From Under It, Then Back In

There is a temptation to move a toy towards a cat, but play should engage the cat’s prey drive and no prey animal in its right mind would approach a predator. Moving a toy under a sheet of paper is a lot like the way small prey animals dart in and out of grass, and the cat will definitely be intrigued, especially if the paper rustles a little. Don’t be discouraged if the cat doesn’t pounce; a big part of feline hunting play involves watching, waiting, and planning. As long as the cat is paying attention, she’s engaged. Make sure you let the cat catch the prey frequently.

7. Tie a Plastic Ring to a String and Pull It Under the Ottoman

The ring from the top of a milk or juice carton will do. As the prey moves and then disappears, the cat will try to stalk it and extract it from under the furniture. Keep the ring moving in and out of sight, because the constant challenge really stimulates prey drive. As with all simulated hunting games, make sure the cat has a lot of chances to catch the prey, and wind down the action rather than stopping abruptly. (Make sure you put this toy away in a secure place when you leave, because string and milk carton rings can both be dangerous if chewed or swallowed.)

8. Throw an Old Towel Over the Coffee Table

Watch how fast the cat gets under this “tent.” In fact, just being in the tent is exciting to a cat. But the game gets even better when you wiggle a cat toy under the edge of the towel (a feather works particularly well here) or ripple your fingers along it.

9. Hang Your Coat On the Back of a Chair

As with the towel over the coffee table, you’ve made the cat a tent. Cats like to hide behind something and then pop out at their prey. Hiding and waiting in a concealed position are hunting behaviors, comparable to crouching behind a rock or in a clump of tall grass and waiting to pounce.

10. Chase the Cat From Room to Room

Chasing is a form of kitten play that many cats continue to love as adults. Often they will solicit the game by standing at the end of a long hallway and looking back at you repeatedly as they take a few steps. Many cats also have specific rules about how the game of chase should be played and how far around the room or down the hall they should be chased. They will look back at you or verbally complain if you don’t follow the rules of the game. Two things to remember about chase: the cat’s tail should be up while she’s running as a sign that she’s enjoying the game (a lowered tail can mean she’s running because of fear). And while chase is great exercise (for both of you), the cat also needs a form of play that will engage her mind and her hunting instincts.

7 May, 2007 at 5:01 pm 1 comment

Elegantly Sick

You may have seen Fancy Feast’s new line of “gourmet” cat food: Elegant Medleys.

Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys

I nearly cried when I saw these. It’s bad enough Fancy Feast pretends to be nutritious and wholesome, but “tempting” and “elegant?” Gag me!

Fancy Feast Elegant Medleys Ingredient List

I’m not a fan of what I’m reading here. Poultry broth is no good because it’s vague, vague is never good. Wheat gluten is worse. Meat by-products are bad for2 reason (it doesn’t list what animal it comes from and by-products are beaks, eyeballs, and feet). Salt shouldn’t be added. Color shouldn’t be added either – I have yet to meet a cat who cared what color his food was. Soy protein concentrate is bad too.

So Fancy Feast added spinach to their line of foods and they think they’re doing the world a favor. I can’t stand Purina!

They have the power to feed so many animals yet they feed animals literal garbage. I can’t believe it’s legal.

2 May, 2007 at 5:42 pm Leave a comment

Voluntary Recall

All these horrible recalls. I’m so glad my 4 are safe from this. I’m so glad everyone I know with pets is safe from this. The latest reports are saying that over 2,000 cats and dogs have died from the poison found in the tainted pet foods.

When news first broke that the contaminant was aminopterin, a rat poison, Mike said, “Well, obviously it was rats in the food.” (Seriously, read Foods Pets Die For.) I agreed with him. Now, the contaminant is thought to be melamine which is used to made plastics, foam, and fertilizers.

Either way, wheat gluten was to blame. How come no one is asking what wheat gluten was doing in these foods to begin with? The high quality foods I’ve mentioned don’t contain wheat gluten. The foods I praise are all privately-owned as well. The idea of one lousy company, Menu Foods, making products for so many labels seems off-putting to me.

Personally I love that Wellness is made in Canada, Merrick in Texas, Addiction and Ziwi Peak in New Zealand, Evanger’s in Illinois, and Halo in  Florida.

Speaking of Halo I received an email from them:

“Our Spot’s Stew for Dogs and Cats are made in a USDA Kitchen – every batch! Our commitment has always been to use the highest quality, human-grade ingredients in all of our products. WE NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL USE WHEAT GLUTEN IN OUR FOOD.

” To help you achieve optimum health for your pets, please accept our offer of 20% OFF with a minimum order of $39.99.

“You may order through our website Halo Pets and use the coupon code of 03MF07.”

I love Halo. I love all companies that clearly have a cats’ health and well being in mind.

I remember thinking back when it was only wet food affected that people were surely never going to feed their animals wet food ever again and cats and dogs would be doomed to eat meat crackers until the end of their days.

Then dry food was added to the list. Then treats.

My heart breaks for people who have lost animal members of their family. I know I’d be beside myself with grief and rage, cherry bombing Eukanuba’s corporate office and filling the gas tank of every car I saw in the Nutro parking lot with sugar.

What really upsets me though is the phrasing, Voluntary Recall. It makes it seem that companies are pulling their poisoned products off of shelves out of the kindness of their heart.

I can only hope that people will open their eyes and read labels. I hope independent pet stores that only carry by-product free food get more business than ever thought possible. I hope Menu Foods goes under and is never heard from again.

I hope Purina, Fancy Feast, and other other disgusting companies learn from this and start producing only human grade meals for pets.

Let’s all cross our fingers.



	

4 April, 2007 at 2:57 pm Leave a comment

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