Tagged with " behavior"

Kittens, in their “formative weeks”

Apr 6, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior

training a kitten

Kittens are born with their eyes closed and just basically sleep and nurse, and sometimes meow loudly. The queen stimulates their elimination, and they are completely dependent upon her for their first few weeks. They will communicate with the queen vocally on day 1; and by 4 days they can clumsily walk to their preferred teat for nursing. Because olfactory sensation is working very well right at birth, it is their main sense along with the tactile stimulation of touch, especially on their face. A feral queen can teach her kittens to be afraid of anything (especially humans) as early as 2 days old. There will be differences in socialization toward humans that extend into adulthood when a kitten spends these first few days with a truly feral mom! Eyes open around 7-10 days; and, between weeks 2 and 3, the ears open (although they do hear with closed ears by day 4) and those senses now contribute in the transition to the next phase, the development of the ultimate predator. Speaking of, those needle baby teeth begin to bud between weeks 2 and 3! Poor mom…

The socialization phase is vitally important; and, it proceeds separately with each species. First and most importantly, cat on cat socialization is being learned. Kittens are responsible for all gait patterns, adult locomotion, and most body postures by weeks 6 to 7. So interacting with others begins immediately! Or it does not, based on the individual’s environment and exposure, and on a species to species basis. But remember that no experience equals a bad experience. So if a kitten is isolated early, their socialization could suffer greatly. Kittens that do not hang out with other cats at this young age will develop very little social skills for the group setting. They also learn by visual inspection, so grooming and even hunting skills (through play) are being learned as early as one month of age! Starting at 4 weeks, mom is getting sick of the nursing; but, sometimes she does not completely quit until they are 7-8 weeks of age. At the age of 2 months, most kittens are eating solid foods or prey items brought by mom. And studies have shown that the earlier they stop nursing, the more effective hunters they become! The budding stars are helping her eat her prey items by week 4, and stop nursing immediately. They will all follow the queen on her hunts by weeks 15- 18, and most kittens are self-sufficient predators by 6 months of age! Cats usually have a “specialty” or preference in what they hunt, and mom’s influence is huge in this decision.

Now it is time to leave the house, especially for the young boys. And unless resources allow for succession planning, the little queens must also leave home! The best chance of any cat having a lifelong social mate is by teaming up with a littermate. These are often same sex pairs, 2 boys or 2-3 girls, in the barn cat setting. And though some genetic tendencies, like a “boldness gene”, do contribute these first few months are vital to shaping the level of socialization in each cat’s life. If they do not meet dogs until they are 6 months, the acceptance of a dog will be limited throughout their life. If you adopt a feral kitten that has had little to no human contact at the age of 6 months, socialization with humans may be greatly limited. So lots of exposure to a variety of animals and to a variety of people results in the most favorably socialized pet cats. And this process should begin as early as possible. Interestingly enough, the little toms become sexually mature as early as 6 months of age in the pet setting, or with the breeder, but as late as 18 months in the wild. I guess they have to put it on hold until they can fight for their right to mate? Or maybe it takes about a year to find a good place? Or maybe it is just like being a freshman in high school; none of the girls pay attention that year!

A general rule of thumb in animals is that the longer time spent with their mother, the more intelligent the species. And although post-college children living at home may challenge that rule, it is generally true. So, as I often tell clients, the cat is more instinctual and predictable and intelligence is just not their game. Although some are smarter than others, the primal nature of their behavior is one of the most beautiful things they offer us as a species. They are simultaneously the perfect predator and a perfect model for meditation and yoga masters. They can be so peaceful as they rest and groom, and so seemingly vicious during a hunt. And we all know that no one consistently acts as cool as a cat. And on a pound for pound basis, they are the most powerful, the fastest and the most aggressive athlete that has ever lived… and number 2 is not even close! I am always amazed that this is all learned in 6 months, and a good chunk of it by 3 months! So enjoy kitten season and keep this information in mind during the formative weeks.

Dr Michael Ray

Dr. Ray is a Marietta Georgia native and graduate of Osborne High School. He received his bachelor of science at Georgia Southern University, and went on to graduate with his Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Florida in 1997. After graduation, Dr. Ray completed an internship in Small Animal Medicine and Surgery at Animal Specialty Group in Los Angeles.

Dr. Ray has spent most of his career working in Feline Only hospitals, and is very excited to have the opportunity to own his own cat practice. Dr. Ray has been the Medical Director of The Cat Clinic of Roswell since March 2008.

The Cat Clinic of Roswell
1002 Canton Street
Roswell, GA 30075

Phone: 770-552-PURR (7877)
Fax: 770-552-8855
Email: info@catclinicofroswell.com

Website: http://www.catclinicofroswell.com/
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My Cat is Healthy – Or is it?

Feb 21, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

Cat owners know their cats better than anyone, and as a cat owner, you are in a position to hugely impact the health and happiness of your cat. Here are a few hints to help you recognize if there is a problem early on.

Cats are fascinating creatures and are important family members. But they are not small dogs and they are not small people! They differ from people and dogs in that they have needed to survive on their own for approximately 10,000 years.1,2 Being solitary survivors, they have adapted to appear strong and healthy when they may not be.2 They also may not like another cat in the household, but they will rarely fight.3,4 These behaviors all work to prevent injury by their prey or another cat. Even though many now live in wonderful homes, they still maintain these behaviors.2

Fortunately, you know your cat better than anyone, and can pick up problems with these tips:

If your cat shows a change in its normal routines or behaviors, it is time for a check-up. An example is Herman who always loved to jump and climb, and raced up and down the stairs faster than the fastest Olympic skier (well maybe). His behavior changed, and although he still climbed the steps pretty quickly, he was much slower going down. He also didn’t go to his high perches anymore. His owner saw him looking at a perch and hesitating as to whether he should jump. Although the owner wasn’t sure whether he was just getting old, she brought him in for a checkup. Herman was diagnosed with severe arthritis in his knees and shoulders, and treatment was started after making sure he was otherwise healthy. His owner called me the other day to say that Herman is back up on his favorite high spots, and everyone moves aside when the “zoom-cat” goes up and down the stairs! Herman’s family was so happy to have the Herman that they loved and knew so well back.

Here is a list of changes in a cat’s normal patterns or behaviors, as well as abnormal behaviors, that can indicate that there is pain or sickness.5,6,7,8,9 The important word here is changes:

Changes in normal behaviors:

  • Appetite – decrease or increase
  • Grooming – overgrooming in one or more areas or not grooming so that matts are forming
  • Sleep – sleeping more or not as well
  • Activity – decrease or increase
  • Vocalizing – yowling and keeping you up at night when they never did; not meowing for treats or food as usual
  • Play – decreased

Abnormal behaviors:

  • Accidents outside the litter box – either over the edge or in another place. This can be either or both urine and stool, but usually it is one or the other
  • Aggressive with you or another pet – This may occur with touching or handling or at any time.
  • Getting on counters to get people food when they didn’t previously
  • Destroying furniture

One other tip – put a picture of your cat on the refrigerator or elsewhere where you can see it frequently. Each year, put another picture up. When you see a difference, contact your veterinarian. Years go by and we don’t notice the subtle changes – unless they hit us in the face. Please note the pictures of my Watson, who I adored and did everything for, but only put the pictures together after his death. In this case, I was giving 9 medications a day, so it was a matter of making a difficult decision that I would have made earlier if I had noticed the changes in the pictures.

Please contact your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs. Usually these can be avoided with routine preventive check-ups, which can identify other problems, such as hidden kidney or thyroid disease or dental disease before any signs occur. However, the combination of veterinary care and your detective work ensures the best for your cat. Herman’s family is happy they can keep him comfortable for much longer.

– Ilona Rodan
In memory of my friend, Jim, and Watson: Old age is not a disease.

 


References:

  1. Driscoll CA, Menotti-Raymond M, RocaAL et a l.: The Near Eastern origin of cat domestication, Science 317:519, 2007.
  2. Bradshaw JWS, Casey RA, and Brown SL, The Behaviour of the Domestic Cat, 2nd edition, CABI Publ, 2012.
  3. Griffin B, Hume KR: Recognition and management of stress in housed cats, in August J (ed): Consultations in Feline Internal Medicine, vol 5. St. Louis, Elsevier, pp 717-734, 2006.
  4. Notari L:Stress in veterinary behavioural medicine, in Horwitz D, Mills D (eds): BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Behavioural Medicine, ed 2. Gloucester, British Small Animal Veterinary Association, pp 136-145, 2009.
  5. Sparkes AH, et al., ISFM and AAFP Consensus Guidelines: Long-term Use of NSAIDs in Cats, J Fel Med & Surg, 2010 (12)521-538.
  6. Robertson SA, Lascelles BDX, Long-Term Pain in Cats: How Much Do We Know about This Important Welfare Issue? J Fel Med & Surg, 2010 (12) 188-189.
  7. Benito J, Gruen ME, et al., Owner-assessed indices of quality of life in cats and the relationship to the presence of degenerative joint disease, J Fel Med & Surg, 2012 (14) 863-870.
  8. Lascelles BDX, et al. Evaluation of a digitally integrated accelerometer-based activity monitor for the measurement of activity in cats, Vet Anaesth Analg, 2008 (35) 173-183.
  9. Bennett D, Osteoarthritis in the Cat: 1. How common is it and how easy to recognize, J Fel Med & Surg, 2012, (14) 65-75.

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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How Many Social Groups Live in Your House?

Sep 18, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Last week, I helped with an interview for Cat Fancy Magazine about litterbox matters. It is always good to remind everyone of the principals of a clean bathroom for our housecats. A bigger question arises from that though and that is, “do you know how many social groups live in your house?” This question is central to solving many issues that create stress in a household in which more than one unrelated cat lives.

In my home, there are two house cats. The first one to move in with us is Bodaishin. He was a six year old intact male when we rescued him two years ago. As many people do, my husband and I live very busy lives and are often out of the house for long periods of time. I concluded that Bo was not getting as much of a lively life as I thought he should have. I contacted the breeder from whom I acquired Bo about another cat. (The story of his life and why he needed to come to us is another story)

There was an 18 month old intact male who wasn’t a very good example of his breed so, like Bo, he was living by himself in a small enclosure. Perfect, a youngster who needed a new life. Oddly, his breeder dropped him off at my practice and departed before we could meet and talk about “Andy”.

He was a freaked out, unsocialized kid who thought we were going to kill him. It took weeks before he calmed down. During that time, we had, not a two cat household, but a “one plus one” household. Neither we nor Bo could get near him and Bo seemed none too pleased at the home invasion by this interloper.

We had a room for Andy which contained a cat tree, a big 28 quart clothing storage box for a litterbox, food and water bowls and toys. Every day, we sat quietly in the room waiting for him to approach. Bo was not allowed into the room. After a time, he learned that he was safe and began to allow petting and slowly but surely we began to integrate him into the rest of the house. Bo was very interested in him as time went on.

Six months later, both cat trees are in the living room. The two litterboxes remain, as well as the separate food and water spots. We assumed that we would continue to be a “one plus one” household. Much to our surprise, and quite slowly Bo and Andy began to play together, shooting through the house and wrestling. Even more slowly and surprisingly, they began to groom one another, sleep in the same bad curled up like yin and yang, and rub each other entwining tails in passing. It may have helped that Bodaishin is Andy’s grandfather, a fact I found out much later.

So now we are a “two cat” household with one big social group that includes my husband and me. The key to knowing which is which are the three behaviors:

  • Sleeping entwined,
  • Grooming each other often, and
  • Rubbing each other willingly in passing.

It isn’t important to the cats whether we humans engage in these behaviors, but it might not be a bad idea!

Dr Elizabeth Colleran

Diplomate ABVP Specialty in Feline Practice

Dr Colleran attained both her Masters (in Animals and Public Policy) and Doctorate from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Chico Hospital for Cats in 1998 and the Cat Hospital of Portland in 2003. In 2011, she became President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Dr Colleran is a member with: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitionesr.

Chico Hospital for Cats
548 W East Ave,
Chico, CA

Phone: 530-892-2287‎

Website: http://chicocats.com/
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Cat Hospital of Portland
8065 SE 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-235-7005
Fax: 503-234-0042

Website: http://portlandcats.net/
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Why Cats Pee on Your Stuff – A Veterinarian’s Perspective

Sep 5, 2013 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Behavior, Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

In a recent blog contribution, Dr. Ray recommended trying to evaluate a cat’s litter box from a cat’s perspective.  Boy, was his article timely!  I just had one of the more frustrating conversations I have had with a client about their cats that were not reliably using their boxes and feel really badly for this owner’s cats, because the owner was not willing to listen to what I had to say about making the litter boxes desirable for the cats, not him.  I get that we want cats to easily integrate into our homes and that one of their more desirable characteristics is that they are supposed to be clean and low maintenance, but the reality is that though cats have been domesticated, they remain guided mostly by their instincts.

For more than two decades now, people have recognized that for most cats it is not safe for them to roam freely outdoors.  Cats have become cherished family members rather than utilitarian mousers that were almost considered by some to be disposable.  I absolutely celebrate this fact, but am disturbed that a lot of cat owners don’t take the time to learn about cat care and how to create the optimum environment for one or more cats when they bring home a cat.  Most people wouldn’t think about getting a reptile or another exotic pet without making sure they insured the pet would have the right habitat, but lots of people with take home a kitten and assume providing food and water and a litter box is all they will need.

The reality is that though most cats are low maintenance, the environment from their perspective (read not ours) is super important for the cat to thrive and to be healthy.  It is paramount that all cat owners understand the concept of resource availability as a cat sees it.  Resources for a cat refers to their ability to procure food, water, a comfortable place to rest and access to their litter pan without feeling threatened. Keep in mind that what a cat is threatened by can be very different than what a person is threatened by.  Just like people’s personalities and anxiety levels vary, cats are not all wired the same.  And just because a cat is a cat and another cat is a cat, it doesn’t mean they will like each other any more than two strangers will like one another.  Think about it – would you meet a stranger on the street and within minutes ask that person to come home to live with you?  That is sort of what most of us do when we acquire cats and decide to get them a cat buddy.  We bring the buddy cat home and tell the original cat to enjoy their new friend.  What if they don’t have any “chemistry” together?

So, let’s continue to celebrate cats and protect them from the various threats they can encounter outdoors, but let’s all try real hard to remember to periodically evaluate the home we offer our cat or cats from a cat’s perspective.  Those of us who want to share our home with a cat, need to remember that is what we are doing. We are sharing, so it can’t be all on our terms!

Dr Diane Eigner

Diane Eigner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1980. Dr. Eigner established her exclusively feline practice, The Cat Doctor, in Philadelphia in 1983, and began offering house call services at the Jersey Shore in 1991. She is a past president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School Alumni Society, a Past President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and is a member of the advisory board of Harcum Junior College’s Veterinary Technical School. Diane has been the consulting veterinarian for the Morris Animal Refuge since 1983. Doctor Eigner’s column “Ask The Cat Doctor” appeared in the Cat Fancier’s Almanac from 1996-2000. Diane joined the Catalyst Council’s board as the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s representative in 2009. She is now serving as the immediate past-chair of the Catalyst Council.

An avid Sailor, Diane loves nothing better than to be at the Jersey shore where she keeps her sailboat, Purrfect, and where she has a second home. Since meeting her husband, Fred Turoff, Temple University’s Men’s gymnastics team head coach, her family life has been dominated by men’s gymnastics. Her son Evan is a level ten gymnast that competes nationally and will join her husband’s division I men’s gymnastics team in the fall.. Diane also shares her life with three very entertaining cats. Though she shouldn’t have a favorite, her Sphynx cat, Velvet, which she rescued at the shelter where she consults, is the cat love of her life. Her integrated home also includes a Welsh Corgi named Twinks, two Cornish Rex cats, Naui and Padi and a Russian Tortoise.

The Cat Doctor
535 North 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Phone: (215) 561-7668
Fax: (215) 561-3616
Email: meow@thecatdr.com

Website: http://www.thecatdr.com
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Purr Power!

Aug 29, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior, Tips & Advice

What’s not to love about a purring cat on your lap?  We know it’s a great feeling, and now it seems that there might be some extra and unexpected benefits to our physical health—would you believe a cat purr can strengthen our bones and reduce our risk of heart disease?

Just another reason people should live with cats!

No one is really sure why cats purr.  We know they purr when they’re happy and content, and when they’re trying to be calm, and sometimes when they’re really, really sick.  Little kittens have incredibly loud purrs.  Some cats have subtle purrs, and some cats come with “insta-purr,” where one touch turns on the motor.  Other cats, such as a British cat named Smokey, come with a volume that competes with the noise of a subway train.

I’ve seen many sick cats in my practice who are purring, even though they were clearly not well.  We’ve often thought that this kind of purring was a cat’s way of helping themselves feel less fearful and more relaxed.  But what if that purr was actually helping to relieve very real physical signs of disease or distress?

Most cats come with a purr that vibrates between 20-140 Hertz, which is a sound wave range that might have a therapeutic effect on people and other animals, not unlike that of a therapeutic laser.  This vibration range has been shown to relieve swelling and its associated pain, and also to promote healing in bones and soft tissues.

Truth or science fiction?  When I was a vet student studying bone diseases, our professors would tell us that cat broken bones would almost always heal, regardless of any medical or surgical intervention.  In fact, they would even joke that a treatment for a dog with a broken bone would be to put it in the vicinity of a cat, because cats were so good at healing.  Why was there such a distinct difference in how these species responded to an injury?  Could the cat’s purr be a piece of the puzzle?

The use of therapeutic or cold laser devices in medicine has been somewhat controversial, with proponents touting the use of lasers as a treatment for everything from back pain to gum inflammation.  What these lasers do is emit a low-level wave frequency in a therapeutic range that lowers the components that make up an inflammatory response.  Advocates say laser use can dramatically lessen the symptoms associated with conditions such as a sprained ankle or chronic arthritis.  Frequently, these laser therapies are layered with vibration therapies to complement the effects of the light waves.  The vibration modality is postulated to increase nerve activity and stimulate muscle and bone strength and resilience.

Cat purrs obviously do not emit light.  But there is speculation that the vibration associated with the purr creates its own similar “force field” effect.  Chiropractors have been using vibration therapy for years to help break down scar tissue, relieve pain, increase blood flow and enhance mobility.  Vibration therapy has been used to decrease swelling in injured tissues and drain lymphatic fluids.  Researchers have more recently identified full body vibration therapy as a means to increase bone strength and aid mobility in people born with cerebral palsy, a progressively debilitating neuromuscular disorder.

Vibration therapy in the 90 Hz range is also used to help astronauts combat the bone loss effects of being in a zero gravity environment and has been used successfully in the space program for years.

What else can that feline purr accomplish?  Well, we know how soothing being around a purring cat can be, but there also seem to be even more tangible health benefits for us humans.  Cats lower our blood pressure and relieve stress—all pets do this but cats are the undisputed champs.  Cats have even been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases—if people do not own cats, they are an astonishingly 40% more likely to have heart disease or strokes, based on a paper presented at a 2008 meeting of the American Stroke Association.

What could be next for our amazing felines?  Perhaps the day is not far off when we see doctors writing prescriptions for cat ownership, and astronauts will set off for outer space with Kitty in the co-pilot seat.

Dogs can only drool with envy!

Dr Cathy Lund

Cathy Lund, DVM, owns and operates City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats, a cat practice located in Providence, RI. She is also the board president and founder of the Companion Animal Foundation, a statewide, veterinary-based nonprofit organization that helps low-income pet owners afford essential veterinary care. She lives in Providence, and serves on several architectural and preservation commissions in the city, and is on the board of directors of WRNI, RI’s own NPR station. But her favorite activity is to promote the countless virtues of the “purr-fect” pet, the cat!

City Kitty
18 Imperial Pl # 1B
Providence, RI 02903-4642

Phone: (401) 831-6369
Email: email@city-kitty.com

Website: http://www.city-kitty.com/
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Cast a Spell on Me – Is the Cat a God or the Devil? (Part 1 of 2)

Jun 20, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion

Sinister, malevolent, mysterious, spooky—these are all adjectives used to describe the cat.  That image of the self-sufficient, inscrutable feline has been the persistent stereotype, and has led to the tangled history we humans have with America’s favorite pet.

The relationship people have with their dogs is much more straightforward…but there is something about a cat that defies easy acceptance, and that ambivalence can be traced back to when cats and humans first began to interact.

Cats were domesticated more than 10,000 years ago, when wild cats in the Nile Delta and Mesopotamian marshlands began frequenting human encampments and villages, attracted to the easy supply of rodents that were seeking out the humans’ grain stores.  These cats grew more and more habituated to people, and soon began to, as every cat lover knows, domesticate themselves.  These friendlier cats eventually became part of normal village life.  We know they were intimately associated with humans back then thanks to the discovery of a cat skeleton buried with a human in a 12,000-year-old archeological gravesite.

Because cats had a very distinct role in this relationship—consuming mice—and that trait also came naturally to cats, the typical exploitation of certain behaviors did not occur as it normally would during the domestication process.  Most domesticated species go through different steps of fine-tuning a trait that humans found desirable.  Cats, however, have come through the years basically unchanged.

They were looking for food, not friendship, although the friendlier and less fearful cats were able to capitalize on their increased comfort with humans by having greater access to food and shelter.

It’s basically a thousand-year-old variation on that timeless theme of humans doing the bidding of cats and not vice versa.  First we provided an easy supply of mice, now we’re opening those cans of cat food.  This ambivalence cats have about pleasing people has caused our wildly up and down feelings about our favorite species.

In ancient Egypt, cats might have hit their own personal high on the human interaction scale when they were worshipped as gods.  Over time, the cat’s image evolved from the warlike deification of justice and execution into the more feminine deity representing protection, motherhood and fertility.  The respect for cats was so extreme that many were mummified after death, just like their human supplicants.  In fact, there was a discovery in Egypt of more than 300,000 cat mummies, all located in one cemetery devoted exclusively to cats.  Cats were so revered that if a person was convicted of killing a cat, even accidentally, it often meant a death sentence.

When a cat died, Egyptian households would go into mourning just like when a human relative had died, and they’d mark their grief by the same tradition of shaving their eyebrows.

Those were certainly heady days for the cat!  Ancient Romans also held the cat in great reverence.  Cats in the Roman Empire were seen as symbols of liberty.  The Roman army traveled with cats, which were originally imported from Egypt.  In the Far East, cats were once again valued for their mousing skills, rather than being worshipped as gods, but here the value was less for the protection of grain stores but more from stopping rodents from burrowing into the pages of treasured manuscripts.

Fast forward now into the Middle Ages, when cats suffered a serious decline in status and became demonized throughout Europe.  The belief was that cats were in an alliance with witches and the devil.  Cats were enthusiastically hunted and killed in an attempt to ward off the evil that they were believed to embody.

Ironically, many scholars believe that eliminating cats helped to spread the plague, or the Black Death, since the fleas that transmitted the pathogen had many more hosts in the escalating rat population.  This was one more instance where cat’s rodent hunting had a directly positive benefit on the health of humans, just like what happened when cats protected the human grain stores and manuscripts from marauding mice.

And let’s not forget witches and paganism and the pivotal role that black cats, the classical witch’s familiar, played.  A familiar was an animal traditionally given to witches by the devil.  Familiars were small demons that were sent out to do the witch’s bidding.  Many cats—and other animals—were killed during the witch trials because of this association.  Witches were said to be able to shape-change into a cat no more than nine times, and this is probably where the saying that a cat has nine lives came from.

Cats were believed to be clairvoyant, and their body parts, particularly their tails, were used in potions to give humans those powers.  Cats were also thought to be able to forecast and affect the weather.  A sneezing cat meant rain was on the way and a cat who sharpened its claws on furniture meant that the weather was going to change.  Throwing a cat overboard from a boat was believed to cause storms.  There are also quite a few nautical superstitions involving cats, and boating expressions that use “cat” are numerous and range from cat-o-nine tails, catboats and the catwalk.

Public opinion didn’t begin to shift back in favor of the cat until the 1600s, but Old Wives’ Tales about cats were commonplace and consistently anti-cat.  We’ll look at a selection of those next month and see where the truth lies!

Dr Cathy Lund

Cathy Lund, DVM, owns and operates City Kitty Veterinary Care for Cats, a cat practice located in Providence, RI. She is also the board president and founder of the Companion Animal Foundation, a statewide, veterinary-based nonprofit organization that helps low-income pet owners afford essential veterinary care. She lives in Providence, and serves on several architectural and preservation commissions in the city, and is on the board of directors of WRNI, RI’s own NPR station. But her favorite activity is to promote the countless virtues of the “purr-fect” pet, the cat!

City Kitty
18 Imperial Pl # 1B
Providence, RI 02903-4642

Phone: (401) 831-6369
Email: email@city-kitty.com

Website: http://www.city-kitty.com/
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How to Properly Restrain a Cat

May 5, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

I was describing “respectful” feline handling to a group of people.  The most common question was, “What?! You are not suppose to scruff cats? That’s how their mother’s disciplined them when they were kittens”

Great place to start.  Mother cats do carry their kitten by the scruff.  They do not discipline them in this manner.

With some cats, this restraining manner can have the opposite desired effect.  There are other more respectful methods and scruffing should be a last resort.  Having your body weight dangled does not make good common sense.

Most of us do not need to restrain their cats at home. Occasionally it is necessary for medical care or nail trimming.  Towels are an excellent method of restraining.  When we use this at the clinic we call it a “purrito.”

There were also questions about how to “punish” a cat for “bad” behavior. Cats on a whole respond better to leaning with positive reinforcement.  Yelling and punishment teach your cat nothing and may be counter productive.

Most of the “bad” cat behaviors that occur at home are normal for cats. Unfortunately the cat’s human companions are not always appreciative of these behaviors.

One of the most important aspects of working with your cat is for you to go outside your human box and think like a cat.  Not easy, but not impossible.  You will be amazed at how more enriched your life and relationship with your cat will become.

Resources:

Dr Marcus Brown

Dr. Brown, founder of the NOVA Cat Clinic and co-founder of the NOVA Cat Clinic, received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree in 1986 from the University of Illinois. Currently the medical director for Alley Cat Allies and is an active supporter in local, state and national feline organizations such as: American Veterinary Dental Society, American Association of Feline Practitioners, American Veterinary Medical Association and American Animal Hospital Association. Dr. Brown also contributed the creation of the Association of Feline Practitioners’ 2009 Wellness Guidelines for Feline Practitioners.

Dr. Brown enjoys continuing education and regularly attends seminars and conferences across the country focusing on the advancement in feline veterinary care. Dr. Brown also utilizes on-line discussion groups and veterinary networks to assist the clinic in maintaining the highest level of care and providing the newest treatments available in feline medicine.

NOVA Cat Clinic
923 N. Kenmore St.
Arlington VA 22201

Phone: 703-525-1955
Fax: 703-525-1957
Email: novacatclinic@gmail.com

Website: http://novacatclinic.com/
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Lost Cat Behavior

Jan 31, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

We recently adopted a young adult cat, Andy, for our seven year cat, Bodaishin. Bo had thoroughly enjoyed the two cats who came with our house sitter for two weeks and we realized he could use the company. Andy was still nervous with us as Thanksgiving approached but seemed to be settling down.

For Thanksgiving there would be nine for dinner with the centerpiece an outdoor old fashioned bread oven that served as our oven and warm place for conversation. People were in and out all day. At some point, Andy, who is dark chocolate brown disappeared. He had never been outdoors.

As nervous as he was, we thought he might be hiding in the house. After searching every cupboard and inch of the house we realized he had gotten outside. For the next day we scoured the property and surrounding area. Nothing.

We assumed he was terrified and would not approach us for awhile. Naturally, he was microchipped, but someone would have to find him first. In our attached garage, we set his cat tree, a heated bed he liked, his litter box, food and water with a light on a timer set for dusk. The door to the outdoors was propped open.

Twice a day, one of us drove 30 miles from the hospital to our home to check for “Andy sign”. The litter box was used early on and some food gone, but he was nowhere to be found. Finally, after two days, he was in the garage and in his bed.  The search over, I shut the door to the outside, opened the door to the house. With plenty of food and water for the rest of the day, I quietly drove away. Later that day, he was in the house and in one of his many beds.

By providing a safe familiar environment with all the necessary amenities, Andy calmed down enough to return to the things he knew better than the strange environment that he had encountered outdoors. His fear of this wild place in which he landed likely caused him to hide and stay quiet for the time, early on, when we searched for him. Cats respond to threats by fleeing first and fighting last. His instinct was to flee and hide. We had to wait long enough for him to feel safe enough to explore his way home.

By understanding our mistakes in allowing this to happen we have made some changes to our behavior around doors. We also needed to understand how a cat experiences an abrupt change in circumstances and how he would react. By providing the time for him to recover and the resources he knew well, we  made it possible for him to come home.

Dr Elizabeth Colleran

Diplomate ABVP Specialty in Feline Practice

Dr Colleran attained both her Masters (in Animals and Public Policy) and Doctorate from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. She opened Chico Hospital for Cats in 1998 and the Cat Hospital of Portland in 2003. In 2011, she became President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners.

Dr Colleran is a member with: American Veterinary Medical Association, American Animal Hospital Association, and American Association of Feline Practitionesr.

Chico Hospital for Cats
548 W East Ave,
Chico, CA

Phone: 530-892-2287‎

Website: http://chicocats.com/
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Cat Hospital of Portland
8065 SE 13th Ave
Portland, OR 97202

Phone: 503-235-7005
Fax: 503-234-0042

Website: http://portlandcats.net/
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10 Things Your Cat Wants You to Know

Jan 20, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

  1. I like fleece more than any other bedding material. And there is research to prove that cats prefer fleece over towels and other bedding material.
  2. Even if I hate the other cats in our home, I usually won’t get into a cat fight with them. Instead I will try to avoid them, even if it means that I need to pee on the carpet instead of passing them to get to the litter box. That’s because I need to keep myself protected and healthy just as my wild ancestors did because I am a great hunter.
  3. If I pee on your carpet, clothes, or bed, please, please, please don’t get rid of me at least until you have taken me to the vet to make sure I am not sick. If I am not sick, please talk to a vet who knows a lot about cat behavior or a behaviorist about what kind of litter and litter boxes I want, and how to give me space away from that other cat you love and I hate, or whatever else is upsetting me.
  4. If I am like most cats, I get bored and pudgy (58% of cats in the US are overweight or obese!) if I don’t work for my food. I am a great hunter, and I like to chase my kibbles, find hidden kibbles, and eat canned food. You might think canned food is like a treat, but it really is closer to what my wild ancestors ate (I am trying not to gross you out, but that is mice), and is much lower in calories because it is 70-80% water. I may act like I want to eat all the time, but that is because in the wild, I spent most of my time hunting and a much smaller time eating. If you take my hunting away – chasing food, finding it in hidden places, frequent and small meals a day – I eat more, and I may beg for more, but really I want more hunt, which can also be called play. Please don’t make me pudgy – you may think I look cute, but it makes me sluggish, and I don’t want to be diabetic. There has been a 16% increase in diabetes in cats between 2006 and 2010 because we have become so pudgy. Cat vets – and many others – know about safe weight loss (losing weight quickly can make cats so sick that it can be deadly). Please help me!
  5. If I lick to groom another cat or they lick me, or if we cuddle or sleep together, we are bonded and like each other. However, even best buds nead their space, and approximately 50% of the time, I like to be alone. And I often don’t want to sleep with my buddy in the hot summer – yuck! One fur coat is enough!
  6. I absolutely hate it when you say I am old! There are people who are healthy in mind and body into the 90s and 100s even! If I am slowing down, I am in pain from arthritis or something else, or I am sick. Please take me to the vet no matter how hard I resist. And if they can’t help, find a vet that can!
  7. My favorite toy is a USED hair ‘scrunchy’ or pony tail holder. Don’t worry if you are a guy, bald, or with very short hair. Just rub it on your head and get your scent on it and voila – it is a used scrunchy! Please note that if I like to eat things other than food that the scrunchy should be tied onto a string and only used when you help me play with it.
  8. I don’t cough up hairballs on a routine basis – see Why does my Cat Vomit? and Hairballs. It may happen once a month or two (don’t laugh, my hairless Sphynx friends!), but more frequently than that and there is something wrong. If it is right after eating, I eat too fast, and all you need to do is spread my food out on a flat plate so that I don’t mow it down too fast. But if I continue or it isn’t related to that, it’s likely that I have a health problem, and need a vet to help.
  9. As a cat, I am supposed to appear healthy to protect myself from dangers, including bigger hunters than me. So even though I act like I don’t want to go to the vet, it is because I hate change – unless I instigate it! – and I am scared (and I may act tough because I don’t want anyone else to know it!). I want to be with you forever or at least as long as possible and always be comfortable and happy, so please take me to the vet to learn how to prevent the health problems that I don’t need to have including those awful bugs and worms, and to control health problems that I may get, and make sure I am never in pain. I am purrfect and don’t deserve to ever be in pain.
  10. I love you when you do what I love, and because you are awesome!

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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Pleasant Pet Visits

Jun 6, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

How can I get my cat into the carrier and to the vet?

Fear is the primary cause of misbehavior. Knowing this can help prevent problematic veterinary visits.

GETTING YOUR CAT INTO THE CARRIER

  1. Keep the carrier out in the home. Put treats inside. Train cats to view the carrier as a safe haven and “home away from home.” A quick response is crucial in case of disaster or emergency.
  2. Carriers that have both a top and a front opening are best. Top-loading carriers allow for stress-free placement and removal of the cat. A removable carrier top enables cats to be examined while remaining in the bottom half of the carrier. Do not “dump” a cat out of the carrier.

ADJUSTING TO CAR RIDES

  1. Always put the cat in a carrier or other safe container.
  2. Take the cat for regular car rides, beginning with very short ones, to places other than the veterinary hospital.
  3. To prevent car sickness, do not feed before traveling.
  4. Reward verbally, with positive attention, and with treats.

VETERINARY VISITS

  1. Bring along the cat’s favorite treats, toys, and blanket.
  2. Perform regular home maintenance procedures, including grooming, nail trimming, teeth brushing.
  3. ”Play vet” procedures that mimic temperature taking, ear cleaning, and pilling can help cats better adjust to the veterinary hospital and to future home care when necessary.
  4. Regular trips to the veterinary hospital for “fun” visits involving no examinations or procedures provide owners and staff with the opportunity to reward the cat with praise and food treats.

Dr Elyse Kent

Dr. Elyse Kent graduated from Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1980 and completed an Internship at West Los Angeles Veterinary Medical Group in 1981.

In her early years in practice, Dr. Kent began to see a need for a separate medical facility just for cats, where fear and stress would be reduced for feline patients. In 1985, in a former home in Santa Monica, Dr. Kent opened the only exclusively feline veterinary clinic in Los Angeles, Westside Hospital for Cats (WHFC). Along with other forward-thinking feline practitioners from across North America, Dr. Kent founded the Academy of Feline Medicine in 1991. Through the efforts of these practitioners, feline medicine and surgery became a certifiable species specialty through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). Dr. Kent became board certified in Feline Practice in the first group to sit for the Feline exam in 1995. She certified for an additional ten (10) years in 2005. There are now 78 feline specialists in the world. Dr. Kent served as the Feline Regent and Officer on the Council of Regents for 9 years. She is currently the immediate Past President of the ABVP, which certifies all species specialists. She also heads up a task force joining certain efforts of the ABVP with The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). She currently serves as a Director on the Executive Board of The American Association of Feline Practitioners.

The present day WHFC facility opened in 2000. It was the fulfillment of a vision for a spacious, delightful, state of the art, full service cat medical center that Dr. Kent had dreamed of and planned for over many years.

Westside Hospital for Cats
2317 Cotner Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Phone: 310-479-2428

Website: http://www.westsidehospitalforcats.com/
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