Tagged with " carnivores"

Cats, houseplants and grass – why does my cat get the munchies?

Apr 14, 2014 by     No Comments    Posted under: Behavior

Cats always seem to want what they are not supposed to have – and houseplants are no exception. Cats are carnivores- why would they want to nibble on your spider plant or the lovely flowers your significant other just gave you?

In the wild, cats eat many small meals consisting of rodents, birds, bugs, and other small creatures. Most of these prey animals have intestines full or seeds, grains, and other vegetation. Cats enjoy eating the intestinal tract (yum!!!) and consequently about 10% of their calories come from non- meat sources. So, cats can digest some plant material. Cats also need some non-digestible fiber in their diet to help with normal stool production.

Cats, like infants and toddlers, often investigate things by chewing on them. New plants or flower arrangements are loaded with intriguing new smells. Your cat will chew on them in part to get more information, and also to test them out as a food source. Cats have an interesting organ called the vomeronasal organ on the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. It is in essence a “super nose”. Cats may wrinkle their upper lips, start nibbling an item, and get interesting smells to that organ. Some cats love the texture of certain plants and will chew on them for fun. Cats that are either highly intelligent and need to check everything out, or cats that are bored and have nothing to do are more likely to chew on plants. Younger cats are also more likely to chew on both plants and other stringy items such as cell phone charger cords and ribbons.

Some people think that cats chew on grass to make themselves vomit. As far as we know, cats are not bulimic! However, cats do often vomit after chewing on grass and other fibrous plants. This may have evolved as a means of reducing parasite numbers in the intestinal tract. Cats that are feeling nauseated may be more likely to chew on fibrous plant material. Some cats do develop pica, which is eating non -food type materials. This can occur from anemia. Anemic cats are low in iron, and they may eat soil or cat litter due to their bodies attempt to get more iron to correct the anemia. Some cats need more oral stimulation and chewing on plant material fulfills that need.

Try offering safe plant materials. Commercial pots of cat grass are available such as “Kitty greens”, or home made versions can be grown using grass seed and potting soil. Spider plants are also safe for cats to nibble on.

The biggest worry we have with cats eating plants or flowers are lilies. Nibbling even a small amount of the leaves or petals can cause severe kidney failure and death in cats. Keep lilies out of your house if you have cats! If your cat does eat or have any contact with lilies, call your veterinarian immediately. Rapid medical intervention may save your cat’s life.

Many cats find potting soil a lovely form of cat litter, and may enjoy digging in and even eliminating in your houseplant pots. You can make the soil less attractive by placing screen door mesh over the soil (cut to allow room for the plant). Your cat cannot dig in the soil, but water will easily pass through. You can also use gravel on top of the potting soil to make the texture less attractive to your cat.

Don’t forget about catnip! One-half to two- thirds of cats enjoy catnip “recreationally”. Nepetalactone is the chemical that causes the rolling around, licking, drooling, and mild sedation in cats. Some cats will get hyperactive or aggressive especially if they ingest larger amounts, and some cats are not affected by the nepetalactone. Many people grow catnip for their cats as a safe option for their plant snacking cats. Bon appetit!

Dr Tammy Sadek

Dr Tammy Sadek is board certified in Feline Practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. Dr Sadek graduated at the top of her veterinary class at the University Of Minnesota College Of Veterinary Medicine. She has practiced feline medicine and surgery for over 25 years. Dr Sadek is the owner and founder of two cat hospitals in the Grand Rapids, MI area, the Kentwood Cat Clinic and the Cat Clinic North.

In addition to her cat hospitals, Dr Sadek hosts a website www.litterboxguru.com dedicated to helping cat owners prevent and correct litter box issues along with other behavioral issues with their pets.

Dr Sadek is the author of several chapters in the book Feline Internal Medicine Secrets. Her professional interests include senior cat care, internal medicine, feline behavior, and dermatology.

Dr Sadek is currently owned by 5 cats. In addition to caring for all her feline friends, Dr Sadek enjoys traveling, jewelry making, reading fantasy and science fiction, and gardening. She lives in Grand Rapids with her husband and two soon to fledge children.

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The SKINNY on FATTENING Food

Sep 22, 2012 by     15 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Obesity is the most common health problem in our pet cats. One of the reasons is the TYPE of food being fed, not necessarily the number of calories. Cats are desert creatures and are true carnivores. In nature, cats eat mice, birds, reptiles, and bugs to build a healthy diet. Dogs and people are omnivores, meat and plant eaters.

Cats are unable to properly digest carbohydrates. Most dry foods have high carbohydrate levels due to the grain that is required to form the product.

A young healthy cat should be eating a diet similar to his wild cousins – one that is high in protein, high in fats, and low in carbohydrates. A mouse is composed of about 40-45% protein, 40-45% fat, and only 3-5% carbohydrates.

High carbohydrate diets may cause obesity and health problems.

Carbohydrates cause overproduction of insulin, increased hunger, and weight gain. There are health concerns related to this weight gain, not the least of which is diabetes. A cat with a high carbohydrate diet often has a flakey coat (some owners think this is dandruff) or some may be greasy. Overweight cats often are not able to groom as well, sometimes culminating in poor bathroom grooming behaviors. Weight can affect your cat’s joints causing them to forgo jumping, or they may be less willing to play.  It is not uncommon to have an obese cat newly diagnosed with diabetes who can be converted to a non-diabetic state just by altering the diet. The key is to significantly decrease the carbohydrate content in their diet and begin a slow weight loss program.

Cats are desert creatures and in nature derive a large portion of their water from the food they eat.

Canned food has a much higher water content than dry food. Cats should be encouraged to drink fresh water daily, with the use of kitty fountains or running water taps, to properly dilute their urine.

There is little evidence to suggest that dry food plays a significant role in maintaining oral health.

The research suggesting that dry food is better for oral health was done on dogs, not cats. A cat’s jaw does not go side-to-side as a person’s would, so there can be no true chewing. Cats use their teeth in the wild to catch and tear their food, and in the process mechanically clean their teeth. The food pieces are then swallowed whole.  Commercial dry kibble is throat sized, so our domestic cats have little opportunity to rip and tear into their food!

Canned foods have much lower levels of carbohydrates because they lack the grain needed to process the dry kibble. There are many good commercial brands of canned foods available. If your cat does not like canned food, there are a few brands of dry kibble that are lower in carbohydrates.

During your cat’s physical exam pre-existing medical conditions, sex, breed, and age are evaluated to allow us to make specific diet recommendations for your cat.

MYTH BUSTERS – Canned food is NOT fattening. Most brands of dry kibble do NOT help the teeth.

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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