For a "purrfect" celebration of Valentine's, I thought it would be fun to write a few tips on how to take “selfies” with your fur babies. Who doesn’t want a photo taken of themselves with their true love?
A couple of weeks before Christmas my friend Pam and I met at a local park with wonderful hiking trails. Joining us was her dog, Springer. As we were walking along the creek we noticed a large boulder which was just
above the level of the trail. We both agreed it would be the perfect location for a selfie with Springer. Pam and I stood on the trail and we had Springer climb up on the boulder. Being that she is a small dog, it made perfect sense to have her at the level where our faces would be. To hold Springer’s attention we had to ask her “did you see the squirrel!” – this gets her excited! After a few takes we finally got a great shot then changed the angle by having Pam take the photo.
We both laughed that our arms were too short and that we needed a selfie stick! I’m thinking with a pet, the selfie stick may be the way to go.
The photo I took of myself with my sweet Keiko (below) was impromptu. Keiko was in a good mood, as I’d been playing with her followed by treats. I scooped her up and grabbed the red “LOVE” ornament from my Norfolk Pine (the Valentine’s Tree) as I thought this would add to the photo. Although it worked, I think if I’d used a selfie stick it would have provided for many more options.
Either way, have some fun taking selfies with your pets. If you can get your faces close together it will make for the best shots. Holding your pet, getting down to their level, or them up to yours, will help achieve this. If you have a
selfie stick try it out. If I’d had a 3rd arm, I would have used a laser pointer to get Keiko’s attention.
For a different type of Valentine's shot, position your pet with objects that say "love." That's Daisy below with my Valentine's tree. This month of love, don't forget to include your furry babies in the celebration.
I received a panicked call from Tom telling me that his cat Toby was not happy with the new dog. After asking some questions, it became apparent that the dog was brought home and immediately given the run of the house. Toby was hissing and swiping at the dog, and he was also hiding. What appeared to Tom as aggression was actually terror on the part of Toby.
I explained to Tom that the most important thing to remember is you need to gradually introduce the dog to Toby, the same as if you brought home a new cat. The dog has to be confined in a room or part of the home that the cat does not spend much time in. The cat absolutely cannot feel that his space is being taken over. This will lead to a total loss of safety and security which is why he is currently not very happy. What I always say to my clients is try seeing things from the cat’s perspective. A new dog in the home is a HUGE, UPSETTING DEAL to Toby. It would be akin to waking up one morning and a total stranger has moved in, who is from another species and doesn't speak your language, and who you are terrified of, and who will not leave no matter what you do. That’s exactly what it’s like for Toby.
Whether you are dealing with aggression or fear, or both, the first step is to stop allowing the behavior that’s causing the deterioration of the cat-dog relationship. The dog wasn’t really doing anything wrong, but puppies are a bundle of energy and tend to run around, which was scaring Toby.
Since Tom did not confine the dog from the beginning, he was going to have to start this entire process over again, the right way in order to provide Toby with a sense of safety and security in his home. I also taught Tom about interactive play. Using interactive play with a fishing pole toy and treats is a tool to help Toby feel safe and secure again in his home. Tom wanted to know how long this this take. This is really up to Toby! Once Tom sees his cat is acting normally again (and this may take days, weeks, possibly a few months) he was instructed to then utilize a baby gate and do a slow introduction with the cat never being forced to see the dog, but enticed to see the dog through play and treats on the other side of the baby gate. Use distraction through toys as needed, rewards with treats to develop a positive association with the dog, and go gradually. Follow Toby’s pace.
In the meantime, I told Tom that his home has to have lots of high resting spaces added to it. Cat trees are ideal, but you can create all kinds of vertical space for cheap using what is already in the home. Also, the litter box setup was to be completely off limits to the dog because the last thing Toby needs is to be surprised by the new dog when he is trying to eliminate in the box.
My final advice: Please try to empathize with Toby's situation and understand that you have to go much, much more slowly in introducing the animals. I know it seems unfair to the dog because he is not doing anything wrong, but in these matters we really have to go at the cat's pace. It's best that the dog does not have free roam of the house yet - don't go along with the thinking that "Toby will adjust," because he will likely be miserable for a long time and other behavior issues may arise. If you do it slowly, eventually the cat will be able to co-exist with the dog.
The "state of the art" in medicine and surgery is always advancing, and there are some truly miraculous therapies for people and animals on the horizon. When you read articles about miracle drugs and new discoveries, though, you may wonder whether there is anything that can help patients right here and now. The good news is that we can make millions of cats' lives better in many ways with some recent advances, even though an all-powerful cure for cancer still remains elusive.
One of the most basic problems for large populations of cats around the world is parasites. External parasites like ticks and fleas make cats uncomfortable and also carry diseases that can be detrimental to cats and the people around them. Internal parasites, which may be worms that live in the intestines or the bloodstream, or single-celled organisms that invade many different organs of the body, can also cause weight loss or even fatal infections. Effective parasite preventatives and treatments, therefore, can provide enormous improvements in the quality of life for millions of cats. Many people don't realize that the days of flea powders, shampoos, and toxic collars are behind us, at least for those of us lucky enough to live in developed countries.
There are many safe and effective monthly preventatives available, in both topical (on the skin) and oral forms, that can be very effective at preventing flea infestations and killing ticks. Some products also prevent or kill certain internal parasites at the same time. New products are entering the market frequently, so you should speak to your vet about the best choice for your pet, as well as ways to watch out for imposters--older, less safe products masquerading in the same dosing forms as more modern choices. Likewise, for internal parasites, we have a number of effective treatments for worms, some of which are topical or injectable if you have trouble giving oral medications to your pet. Medications which can be given topically or by injection can be very helpful for feral cats as well, as they can be given while the cat is anesthetized for neutering and vaccines.
Another area where progress has helped improve the lives of many cats is in the area of pain medication. Recognition of the importance of pain control in animals has greatly increased over the past 20 years and has been the focus of intense research. During and after surgery, or following an injury, combinations of various types of pain medications can greatly help to make a patient more comfortable and speed recovery. These may include opioids, NSAIDs, and complementary therapies including cold laser, massage, acupuncture, and physical therapy. Even feral cats undergoing neutering in trap-neuter-return (TNR) clinics often receive one or more doses of injectable pain relief to make their experience as humane as possible.
Recently, a long-acting formulation of a popular opioid has come on the market, which allows 24-hour pain medication for cats without the need for repeated dosing. NSAIDs specifically approved for cats are also new within the past few years. For longer-term painful conditions, such as arthritis, NSAIDs can also be very helpful for maintaining comfort and mobility in older cats. These drugs must be used with extreme caution to prevent serious side effects, but guidelines for safe use have been established within the past 5 years and the benefit to quality of life in elderly cats has been wonderful.
Finally, much progress has been made recently in establishing guidelines for handling cats to minimize their stress as much as possible. This doesn't sound like a breakthrough that makes headlines and heroically saves lives, but the benefit to the quality of life of cats can be extreme. Organizations like the CATalyst Council in the US and similar organizations overseas have released guidelines and educational materials designed to educate veterinarians and the general public about low-stress ways to acclimate cats to travel in carriers, ways to make veterinary clinics more feline-friendly, and ways to handle cats in veterinary clinics in a non-adversarial manner.
Minimizing stress can save lives by allowing veterinarians to more easily and accurately diagnose and treat cats, by preventing stress-induced complications of illnesses in the hospital, and by simply making owners more likely to bring their cats in for routine and illness-related care. Veterinarians can't help cats that don't visit the hospital and wellness visits save lives by preventing serious illness and diagnosing problems before they become too severe to treat. Anything we as veterinarians and responsible pet owners can do to encourage regular veterinary care, and to help cats be cooperative with their medical care, has the potential to save more lives than any "miracle drug!"
As a cat behavior counselor, one of the more common problems I am asked to solve is about a cat who seemingly attacks out of nowhere. In order to solve the mystery of what is triggering this behavior, I need to get my clients to think like their cat. Such was the case with Ray.
I received from Ray's owner: "I adopted Ray about 8 months ago and while he is normally a wonderful, cuddly cat, he has this total split personality in which he attacks me, unprovoked. I am not sure if this is a normal behavior for cats and he is just acting it out, or if there is something I am doing that is causing this somehow."
First, I needed to figure out the trigger. I asked if Ray ever bit her hand while she was playing with him. Sometimes people use their fingers as toys to entice cats to play, which sends a message that biting flesh is acceptable. Some cats also use biting to solicit playtime, so I asked if she ever threw Ray a toy after he bit her.
I advised her to be sure that all playtime involved an interactive toy. The fishing pole type toy is the best option because that would put a safe distance between the owner and Ray's teeth.
I also thought that biting may have become an effective means of communication for Ray, so we needed to figure this out. He may have been biting for a variety of reasons -- he needs more stimulation, more interactive play, he wants attention and so forth.
Another question involved redirected aggression. This one involves some detective work. This is often misdiagnosed as unprovoked aggression because it appears as if your cat is lashing out for no reason at all. This often happens when you are just walking by, which sounded like what was happening with Ray.
Redirected aggression occurs when a cat is unable to directly react and deal with the primary source of his agitation, so he lashes out at whatever is nearest. Being in such a highly reactive state, it was possible that Ray did not realize he has just attacked his closest companion. The most common occurrences of redirected aggression take place when an indoor cat is sitting at the window and spots an unfamiliar cat in the yard. The reason this type of aggression is so easily misdiagnosed is that the cat owner may not have seen the outdoor cat.
I also asked about Ray's favorite cat tree or window perch. Was it at a window where he can see a neighbor's cat? If so, I advised the owner to move those items to a neutral window. I also suggested some environmental modifications to see if that helps - cover the windows, draw the blinds etc
My last thought with Ray could be what is called "Predatory Aggression." With predatory aggression, the cat stalks you and pounces on you. Cats who display predatory aggression need more appropriate outlets for their prey drive. In this case, I would recommend at least two interactive play sessions per day with Ray. With this type of cat, it's absolutely critical that you use a fishing pole type toy and wind down the action toward the end of the game to allow Ray to relax. After the game, I advised the owner to give Ray a portion of his meal or a treat to show him that predatory behavior toward the appropriate object is filled with rewards. To help Ray engage in normal predatory behavior between interactive play sessions, I suggested puzzle feeders and tunnels, or the owner could hide toys in boxes or paper bags.
After going back and forth, it was clear that Ray had predatory aggression. I taught the owner how to use the distraction-redirection method, which goes like this: When you are in motion and you sense he is going to attack, distract him with the toy and redirect him away from you. When you distract him with the toy, you trigger his prey drive, which will shift Ray out of that aggressive mode and into the positive one of a hunter. Even though he may have been planning an attack on you, Ray would prefer to go after the prey. Then conduct an impromptu interactive play session, moving him away from where he was about to attack you and allowing him to work out his tension in a positive, rather than aggressive, way. Follow this with a special treat that you know Ray really loves. You remain safe and Ray gets to release his anxiety. The good thing about distraction and re-direction training is that it is a positive way of retraining. This method will break the negative behavior pattern and gives Ray a reason to stop attacking you because he's getting playtime, positive attention and treats when he does not attack you.
Two weeks later I received this: "Thank you so much for your help! We’re going on 2 weeks with **no** attacks! Not only have the attacks ceased, but I feel like our bond is stronger. You hit the nail on the head with his hunting instinct frustrations and deflecting his frustration onto me. I have what I consider the world's most wonderful cat now. "
With summer in full swing, some people will pack up the cat along with their clothes, beach towels, and summer novels and head off for vacation. Although few cats actually enjoy traveling, for some cats this is a mild inconvenience, while for others it is pure torture for them and for their co-travelers. Cats who yowl loudly or who experience vomiting, urination or defecation while in the car or plane are miserable and are no fun to be around!
There are some cats for whom motion sickness is the inevitable result of any form of travel, but for many others, simple preparation and conditioning can maximize their chances of a smooth and low-stress travel experience. This preparation can also make veterinary excursions much less stressful as well.
First of all, cats must be in a carrier to travel safely, but the carrier should not be relegated to the basement or garage for most of the year. Your cat's carrier should spend most of its time in a quiet corner of your house and contain a comfortable towel or blanket. Hopefully your cat will come to see the carrier as a cozy den where he can curl up for a nap occasionally. Throw some treats in from time to time to increase his chances of seeing it as a familiar, positive place. Once in awhile, close the door while he's in there, pick up the carrier and take him for a walk around the house. If he stays calm, graduate to taking him for short car rides around the block. Your chances of having a calm traveler are even higher if you start this process when your cats are kittens and get them used to traveling at an early age.
For any crate travel, make sure your cat has an absorbent and comfortable layer at the bottom of the crate, such as a towel or fleece. It can be helpful to use 2 layers, as long as they don't take up too much space, so that if the top later gets soiled, you can pull it out and discard while leaving your cat another layer to lay on. Feliway spray or wipes can also help to calm your cat while he is in the carrier. Feliway is a synthetic cat pheromone, which is a chemical scent marker that cats leave behind when they rub their faces on objects that belong to them to reassure themselves. This product is readily available in pet stores and online. Some cats do best when they can see where they are going, but many cats are quieter and calmer if you cover the carrier with a towel or blanket. Cats like to hide, and being in a dark covered space makes them feel safer.
For those who need to take a cat on an airplane ride, it is even more important that your cat be used to his crate or soft-sided carrier since they will spend a long time inside. It is always safest to travel with your cat in the cabin of the airplane, but if you have to bring multiple cats or you are traveling internationally this will not be possible. Always check with your airline before traveling to make sure your carrier meets their specifications and about which documents, such as health and rabies certificates, they require. This will help avoid a last-minute trip to the vet for health verification or an overdue vaccine.
If your cat will be with you in the cabin, you will need to take him out of the carrier at the security area so that his carrier can go through the x-ray machine. It can be nerve-wracking to hold on to a frightened, possibly struggling cat in a crowded place. Some people find it beneficial to get the cat used to wearing a harness prior to travel, which will gives an extra "handle" to hold on to while trying to restrain the cat.
If you are traveling internationally, make sure you thoroughly research your destination country's requirements for animal importation. These can be complicated and may involve placing a microchip, making sure that his rabies vaccine falls within a certain time period, having a rabies antibody titer checked, and last-minute deworming and flea/tick treatments within 24 hours of travel. You may need to start the process as much as 6 months in advance, so make sure you do your homework. In many cases, using the services of a company that specializes in transporting animals internationally can save you many headaches, as they are experts at navigating the paperwork and customs requirements.
We rarely recommend drugs to make travel easier, but you can talk to your veterinarian about options if your cat is extremely fearful or carsick. Some options your vet may offer include antihistamines to make your cat drowsy, a mild sedative, or an anti-nausea drug.
With preparation, you can travel with your cat without both of you becoming frazzled and frantic. Happy trails!
Many people know how perilous it can be to navigate the streets in Italian towns with cars and motorcycles darting out of nowhere and zipping around bends at high speed. This is everyday life for Sicilian cats and parked cars are where they prefer to dodge the madness.
We came to realize the trick is to keep moving and don't settle in any one place for too long.
And those that prayed hard enough deed indeed find la dolce vita. It's a sure bet that resort cats are at the top of the social ladder and the envy of all the others. Hats off to the lucky few. But remember that most of them are like you and me, taking life one day at a time.
We’re very excited to finally launch the Purrfect Travels photo contest this month. Here are a few suggestions as you prepare to take fun pictures of cats and dogs this summer.
Animals are best photographed in their natural environment so walk around to find your subjects. Always be aware of your surroundings. Look up and you may find a cat sleeping in a sunny window. Look down and search for food or water bowls in gardens, near the door, etc.
When I was in Italy with family, we were crossing a bridge on foot. We looked down into a creek and happened to see an orange tabby cat capturing a fish! And I didn’t get a decent shot of him - of all people who should know better, I didn’t have my equipment on that outing with me. Don’t let shots get away. If you can’t reach for your camera in time, use your smart phone.
If your subject isn’t about to flee, observe him or her for a while before actually taking any photos. Sometimes you just have to wait for that right moment. Food may persuade some animals to stick around or come closer. Be prepared to do a bit of moving around yourself. It’s best to shoot several photos when working with animals. I take 10-20+ photos of a cat or dog and sometimes end up choosing the last to be my favorite.
Consider your composition. If you have your camera in a vertical position, turn it into horizontal position to see if that would look more visually interesting. Move yourself around, get in closer or move further back. Get lower or climb up higher and look down. I find getting lower and even crawling on the ground at an animal’s level often makes for better photos.
Early morning or late afternoon just before sunset offer some of the best natural light. But don’t be too picky. Shoot to capture the moment even if it’s raining. It’s better to take the photo than not at all!
Be aware of the background which could be just right or too busy. Keep your eyes out for things such as trees “coming out of heads.” Move slowly to one side (don’t startle the animal) to get a totally different look.
The Purrfect Travels 2015 international photo contest is almost here and the summer travel season is not far behind. We want to see your best travel cat and dog photos so we're sharing some of our favorites with you.
When we first saw Hans Silvester's Cats in the Sun collection, we just had to visit the Greek Isles and take it in for ourselves -- the beauty of the islands and the kitties melting into the wonderful landscape. Cameras in hand, we wandered the twisting streets of Mykonos and found treasure. These are two of our earliest photos.
While in Havana on a people to people cultural trip, we couldn't help but notice the dog population basking in the sun and following tourists for a chance to taste leftovers from meals we had just finished in the paladars (privately owned restaurants). The faces were precious and the tails furiously wagging.
No matter where you plan to roam this year, enjoy safe and purrfect travels, don't forget your cameras, and send us your photo entries at email@example.com.
Starting later in May, follow the best photo entries at www.Facebook.com/purrfecttravels and on Twitter @PurrfectTravels. These could be one of yours!
Just like people, cats are living longer these days due to advances in nutrition, preventive care, and medical and surgical treatments. This means that our cats get to enjoy longer lives and we get to enjoy their company for longer, but it also means that we should pay attention to making sure they possess the best quality of life possible as they go through their senior years.
There is no direct correlation between "human years" and "animal years," so experts on pet aging have recommended that we consider the maximum expected life span for a particular species or breed, and then consider any animal that has reached 75% of that maximum a senior. If we think about 100 years as the maximum age that all but the most exceptional humans can attain, then we could choose 20 years as a similar benchmark for cats. Ninety years for people and eighteen years for cats is probably a more realistic benchmark for most, though, so cats over about thirteen years can be considered seniors.
We generally think of cats between eight and twelve as middle-aged, and this is when we start to watch them more carefully for diseases involving the kidneys and thyroid glands, as well as checking them for cancer. One of the most important things you can do for your cat is bring them in for their wellness checkups annually when they are younger, and every six months once they reach senior territory. Your veterinarian will check them for unexpected weight loss or gain, palpate the thyroid glands and abdominal organs for enlargement or masses, and make sure the heart and lungs sound healthy. He or she may also recommend screening blood and urine tests, especially if your cat has lost weight and isn't on a diet.
Dental disease is also more common as cats get older and it can severely impede your cat's ability to enjoy his golden years. Oral pain and infection can lead to a decreased appetite, chronic discomfort, and even serious consequences such as a bacterial infection spreading to the heart valves, liver, or kidneys. Cats are very stoic about oral pain and won't necessarily show symptoms until it becomes severe, but even before then it can cause serious pain or pose a danger to their overall health. Your veterinarian should check your cat's teeth and oral cavity for dental tartar, gingivitis or periodontal infection, and oral cancer at every visit. If your cat develops bad breath, drooling, or seems to "chatter" his teeth while eating, bring him in immediately for a checkup.
Another affliction that is common to older cats and people alike is degenerative joint disease, or arthritis. Once again, cats are very stoic about pain and try not to show obvious limping until discomfort is severe, but this disease can greatly impair the quality of life for an older cat. Many cat owners write off early signs of arthritis as the cat "slowing down" as he gets older, but decreased activity level, play, and jumping ability may be due to joint pain rather than aging or laziness. Ask your veterinarian to check your senior cat's joints for swelling and crepitus (creaking or crunching noises when the joints are flexed). Muscle atrophy in a region of the body can also be caused by decreased range of motion in affected joints. Your veterinarian may recommend an x-ray to check for new bone growth around certain joints or decreased joint space, which can point to a loss of the cartilage and fluid that cushions each joint. Although nothing can make arthritis go away, your veterinarian can discuss treatments to help minimize the pain, such as weight loss for heavier cats, oral and injectable joint supplements, pain medication, and physical therapy. You may also want to consider re-arranging furniture to provide ways for your cat to step on and off his favorite perches, rather than having to jump.
For cats who still enjoy their time outdoors, including colonies of feral cats who prefer to stay outside of human dwellings all the time, increasing age can lead to some considerations during extremes of weather. In the winter, it's extra-important to make sure senior cats don't stay outside or without shelter from the cold and wind for too long. In the summer, senior cats may get overheated more easily and require more shelter from the sun. Older cats are more susceptible to dehydration in both scenarios, so plenty of clean, fresh, and non-frozen (in winter) water is a must. Also, older cats may have a decreased ability to fight off infections and parasites, so keeping up with fecal testing for internal parasites is important, as is flea and tick prevention.
Just like human seniors, older cats require a little extra consideration and care to make sure their golden years are enjoyable. With proper precautions, many cats are enjoying life to twenty and beyond!
I never force cats to do something they don't want to do. You know cats. They don't want to be told what to do.
Capturing them in their natural habitat doing their own thing is your best option. Some ideas are while they are napping, bathing, playing, or watching a bird through the window. In the case of my cat Moxie, I followed him all over my yard.
Patience is the next step. Watch them closely from afar, then approach them slowly with your camera in your hands or by your side. If possible, use a telephoto (zoom) lens so you don't have to move in too close. You can zoom with your smartphone too. If your cat doesn't cooperate, she may mellow after a snack. Otherwise, take a break and come back later.
To get the best angle, get down low to their level. I crawled along my brick sidewalk in an old pair of jeans to get the shots above. My knees were killing me but it was worth it!
Capturing cats in natural light such as when napping in a window, or on a sunny path in early morning or late afternoon, or outside on an overcast day, will give you the best pictures. Using a flash may or may not startle your cat. I choose not to use my flash.
We love travel and pets. But sometimes those two loves are at odds.
Our 17-year-old cat has a hefty medical record and is most miserable in winter despite our cranking up the heat in our New England home. Before we hit the road, we carefully prepare for his care to ensure he'll be protected from unforeseen situations -- and that we experience a worry-free vacation (well, as close to worry-free as we can make it). Here are just a few precautions we take before leaving our furry guy in charge at home.
Book our pet sitter in advance. We want to make sure the same person looks in on our cat during our travels so we reserve the sitter as soon as we know our travel dates. Our cat is not a social guy so he's likely to hide under the bed unless he knows the person coming to feed him.
Leave a summary of his medical conditions. If it's necessary to take the cat to the vet emergency room, especially during off hours, we rest easy knowing the treating vet will have a list of his meds and allergies.
Provide instructions about house temperature and what to do during a power outage. The power goes out frequently in our area in snow and wind storms and isn't generally restored right away. Our guy has a very thin coat of hair and gets cold and miserable if the temperature dips below 68 degrees F.
Identify the location of the pet carrier. If evacuation is called for, it's essential to provide a safe enclosure to remove a cat from the house.
Last Thanksgiving, we lost power in our house for 24 hours or so. We were away and worried about our old boy. Luckily, our sitter went above and beyond to keep him warm and safe by staying with him as it wasn't an option to relocate him.
What advice can you share to safeguard pets at home so that you can have a worry-free and "purrfect travel" experience?
Cats and food present a constant puzzle. Many cats are prone to obesity and their food intake must be regulated to prevent them from becoming larger and larger every year. Other cats are born finicky and it is a challenge to keep them at a healthy weight. And many cats have less robust appetites as they age and develop health problems, which can lead us to shift our focus over the years from keeping their weight down to keeping their weight up.
Cats are hyper-carnivores in the wild, which means that they only eat meat as their natural diet. Over the many thousands of years as their evolution as a species, this has caused shifts in their metabolism that have made them dependent on a high protein level in their diet. Cats have largely lost the ability to eat carbohydrates and directly turn them into energy for immediate activity, so starches and sugars tend to be stored as fat. Recent research on feline nutrition supports a high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet for most cats, except those in the late stages of kidney or liver failure. High protein diets help to keep cats leaner and less prone to diabetes, and they support the maintenance of muscle mass in thin or elderly cats. Canned food, which is high in protein, also has the benefit of containing a lot of water, which helps to support adequate hydration.
Table food containing protein, like chicken, fish, or lean beef or pork, can be used as a treat or to tempt finicky cats to eat. For sick cats, plain meat or baby food can be a valuable tool to stimulate appetite and can replace their normal diet for a short period of time. Plain meat does not contain the minerals and vitamins that are supplemented in commercial diets, though, and so these foods can only be used for a few weeks at most before a cat returns to a regular cat food. In some cases, owners may prefer to prepare their own cat food at home, but this can be tricky because it is difficult to formulate a balanced diet without the commercial nutrient analysis that cat food manufacturers depend on. If you elect to prepare a home-cooked diet, make sure the recipe comes from a reputable source, like a veterinary nutritionist, and be sure to consult with your veterinarian first.
As the holidays approach, be sure to keep an eye on your holiday foods and your guests, to make sure your cat isn't sneaking a taste of people food and to make sure your guests aren't feeding your cat from the table. Cats are rarely drawn to chocolate, but it is toxic and you should consult a veterinarian immediately if your cat eats an item containing chocolate or cocoa powder. Cats may also choke or suffer intestinal perforation if they steal meat with bones. Onions and garlic are toxic for cats, so avoid letting them eat foods or broths that contain these vegetables. Holiday decorations are also a risk, as cats will often eat tinsel or small decorative items, which can cause an intestinal blockage. Poinsettias are not very toxic for cats, but lilies are extremely dangerous as they cause fatal kidney damage. If someone brings you a lily plant or flower bouquet with lilies, consider keeping it outside since even a dropped leaf or petal might be eaten by your cat. The exception are peace lilies and Calla lilies, because these are not "true lilies" and are in a different family of plants. If your cat eats a holiday decoration, plant, or food and you are not sure if it is harmful, be sure to check with your veterinarian right away.
With the upcoming holidays, many of you would like to include your pets somehow in your Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or New Year’s greeting cards. They are certainly a part of our family! Although Terry and I have two homes (a city house and a country house), we have 6 cats between the two of us!
Last Christmas, Terry and I had 7 cats at the time (sadly we lost Smokey this past summer) so it was virtually impossible to photograph all of them together, not to mention 3 living at one house and four at the other. So I came up with the idea of photographing each cat individually and then editing in Photoshop. I resized them and made a banner in layers to fit across the inside of our 2013 Christmas card shown below.
Many of you don’t have the software or Photoshop skills, but there are ways around this. Online greeting card companies and your local photo labs offer cards with multiple openings for photographs. Our 2012 Christmas card is an example of that style.
And if you are really lucky and have multiple pets, you may get them to sit still together! Cats are certainly more challenging than dogs, although you don’t know my niece’s dog, Sunny. She is a complete goofball!
Our travels this month didn't take us very far but we found a feline worthy of some attention. Freida, the throwaway kitty, recovered from being cast away in a roadside ditch in rural Maine earlier this year. She's receiving good care now and made a purrsonal appearance at the Pet Expo in Wilmington, Massachusetts, where we met her all dressed up for Halloween.
Freida has amassed quite a wardrobe. Sweaters, dresses, you name it. It all started as an attempt to hide her loss of fur due to surgeries. Now she's the best dressed Yankee cat. Take a look at one of her many international PR stories: http://www.catster.com/the-scoop/freida-cat-photos-rescue-left-to-die-ditch-maine-sweaters
Strolling through Estonia's quaint Old Town this summer led us to the conclusion that this must be a cat-loving country. In shops and the town's open-air market, we found cat crafts of all media and sizes. Cats were represented in paintings sold as souvenirs, strung up as displays to entice shoppers to the market stalls, and more.
No stray cats spotted on its cobblestoned streets. Can we conclude that cats are well taken care of here?
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