Tagged with " kittens"

What to Look for When Adopting a Kitten

Oct 24, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion, Tips & Advice

The excitement surrounding the decision to bring a kitten into your household is only surpassed by the act itself. When choosing your kitten, some knowledge of kitten development or socialization will help you pick the best kitten for your family.

Socialization in kittens begins at 2-9 weeks of age. During this period gentle handling by people helps kittens build self- confidence, while learning to interact with other animals and people. This experience will carry over into other social situations throughout the cat’s life. If kittens have not been properly socialized, they are at increased risk to develop negative traits: They are more likely to be fearful of human contact and to be less able to adjust to unfamiliar situations. For example, a cat who is as gentle as a lamb at home, may become a ferocious tiger at the veterinary clinic.

When choosing a kitten, it is easy to be swayed by a beautiful coat, color or markings . It is also tempting to choose a kitten by sex. Yet, the most important trait is temperament. Here are a few guidelines to maximize a successful introduction and to prepare your newest member for a lifelong place in your family. Whether you adopt a kitten from a private family or shelter, or purchase a kitten from a pet store or breeder, it would be ideal if you could observe the kitten interact with its siblings. Kittens learn much from playing with each other.

The little mewing of “Ouch, you’re hurting me” as one kitten is chomping on another kitten’s ear, begins the feedback to learn what is too painful for play. Watch the kittens carefully: Which kittens are actively engaged in play with each other? When you meet them, who comes up to explore? If you pick up a kitten does it nuzzle into your arms, crawl up your shirt, or otherwise give indications that it is comfortable being held? These behaviors (exploration, play and a willingness to be held) indicate that the kitten has been well socialized.

Now the rest is up to you. Construct an environment in which your kitten will flourish. Teach your kitten the proper way to play. Do not use your hands as a toy. Having an eight or ten week old kitten chew on your fingers may seem harmless; the same behavior in an adult cat will be painful. Always hold something in your hand when playing, even if it is a pen, to reinforce that your body is not a plaything. Cat play is often aggressive. It is often initiated by one kitten leaping up and biting another and running away in hopes of being pursued. This is how your kitten expects you to behave when it begins a game of “ankle attack” as you walk down the hallway. Do not respond: have a toy to redirect his attention. Schedule regular play time. Keep in mind that cats are nocturnal. Many of our feline friends get what I call the “ten o’clock crazies” – just when you are ready for sleep, 15 minutes of energetic play in the late evening will help defuse potential kitten trouble and let you get a good night’s sleep.

Take your kitten for rides in the car in its carrier. This will expand his confidence by making the carrier and the car familiar parts of his routine instead of the vehicle whose only purpose is to transport him from the safety and security of home to anxiety and unfamiliarity of the veterinarian’s office. Carriers should be brought out on a regular basis to be explored with no imminent trip scheduled. Place treats in the back of the carrier, leave the door open and walk away. What a pleasant surprise as the kitten explores the “new space” and discovers it contains treasures. When the time comes for a veterinary visit, the carrier and the car will be tranquil extensions of home which will allow the kitten to arrive in a secure state of mind. These kitten visits are good times to make sure your new family member is growing well both physically and emotionally. They also offer you the opportunity to ask questions and receive professional guidance

Nevertheless, kittens or cats who have not had good early socialization, can be guided along the path to a healthy happy relationship with the humans in their lives. Those strategies will be discussed in my next blog post.

Dr Kathleen Keefe Ternes

Dr. Kathleen Keefe Ternes grew up in western Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1974; a BS degree in 1978 and a DVM in 1979 from Michigan State University. Dr. Keefe Ternes returned home to New England in April 1980. In 1984, she achieved one of her professional goals by opening The Feline Hospital in Salem, MA. . Dr. Keefe Ternes, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), initially certified as a companion animal specialist in 1990. She became certified as a feline specialist in 2000 and recertified in 2010. Dr. Keefe Ternes is a member of AAFP, the AVMA, the MVMA, and her local organization, the Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). Her involvement in organized medicine includes having been a past president of VANS and current member of the board of directors. She is also a case reviewer for the ABVP and recently joined the Feline Welfare Committee of the AAFP.

Dr. Keefe Ternes lives in Salem with her husband and two college age daughters. Her two senior cats Toby and Petunia keep her on her toes medically.

The Feline Hospital
81 Webb St
Salem, MA 01970

Phone: 978-744-8020
Email: thefelinehospital@gmail.com

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Boycott Mother’s Day!

May 12, 2013 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion

This weekend is one of the most sacred holidays in the world – Mother’s Day. Everyone has a mother, and most of us celebrate all the things they’ve done to help us become the people we are. We shop for the card with just the right sentiment, order her favorite flowers, select the age and taste-appropriate candy of cocoa bean origin (milk chocolate is my own mother’s self-admitted favorite food!), or perhaps celebrate her memory with a visit to her resting place. It’s a great time for the free-enterprise economy, too. Florists are busier than accountants in April, and Hallmark heralds May as a month with highest single category sales (greeting cards) than any other month including Christmas (verification withheld to make my point).

So why would we even consider boycotting Mother’s Day? Well, if you’re a cat, since you don’t really care about cards or flowers (though both seem tasty to some cats with intestinal problems), it’s all about the numbers. And while owned pet cats outnumber dogs as pets in the US- 74 million to 70 million according to the American Veterinary Medical Association- there are many cats without homes that are brought to shelters across the country. And more keep coming. There are untold millions of community cats which may or may not be owned or cared for- including being spayed or neutered. Therein lies the problem- left to their own devices, like most other species, cats will reproduce again and again! That may sound shocking to some, and when environmental conditions are favorable, unspayed female cats can have three litters a year! Let’s say those “intact” females have an average of 4 kittens/ litter- that would be twelve more cats from just one in twelve months! If only financial institutions could have such feline fecundity with our funds…

While many shelters are able to find homes for all their healthy adoptable cats, nationwide the numbers don’t balance. Thankfully, many feral cat colonies are cared for by dedicated people who’ve had them spayed and neutered so the colony population stays stable (and healthier!) But in countless communities, because there’s an oversupply and not enough demand (some people have not yet experienced the fun of owning a cat), the all-too-often sad result is that many cats are euthanized.

If you’re a cat, would you rather go home to a family that feeds you, plays with you, cleans your bathrooms and takes you to the veterinarian at least once a year for a checkup, or live “on the streets” like a homeless person, foraging through trash cans and hoping that the soup kitchen is open? That’s why cats boycott Mother’s Day- there’s just no reason to honor having more feline families!

This Sunday I’ll be with my mother! I’ve already sent two Mother’s Day cards and her roses arrived yesterday. I’d still like to get her one more “sweet” gift, though, and I have the perfect one in mind. We’ll take a drive out to the county animal control and check out the cats up for adoption. There’s a good chance we’ll find a beautiful brown tabby with its signature cocoa-colored “M” on her forehead. Maybe I can persuade my mother to call her Lady Godiva…

Dr Jane Brunt

Dr. Jane Brunt, founder of Cat Hospital at Towson (CHAT), is the pioneer of feline exclusive practice in Maryland. She received her DVM from Kansas State University (go, Cats!), and since 1984 has advocated the necessity of an outstanding facility and staff dedicated to practicing the highest quality of cats only care and medicine at CHAT.

She is a Past-President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association. In 1997, Dr. Brunt was named one of Baltimore’s “Top Vets” and featured on the cover of Baltimore Magazine, and in 1998 she served as Chair of the Host Committee for the AVMA Annual Convention in Baltimore (attended by a record 8,000 veterinary professionals and supporters), receiving several awards and accolades. A national advisor on feline medicine, she is also an active supporter of local, state, and national feline organizations, especially of the new generation of veterinary professionals.

Building on her clinical cat commitments and organizational passions, she serves as the Executive Director of CATalyst Council, a not-for-profit coalition of organizations and individuals committed to changing the way society cares for cats, “Promoting the Power of Purr…” across veterinary, sheltering, and public/civic communities. She owns a wayward standard poodle named Luka and three hilarious, keyboard-keen cats- Paddy, Freddie and CAT Stanley!

Cat Hospital at Towson
6701 York Road
Baltimore, MD 21212

Phone: (410) 377-7900
Email: cathospital@catdoc.com

Website: http://www.catdoc.com/
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On the Fourth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Jan 3, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Personal Opinion

4 kittens

Four Mewling Kittens: How to Help Your Cat Avoid the Animal Shelter this Holiday

If you missed out on the previous parts:

While this part of the holiday hazard series is not about emergencies, it does address another serious holiday pet topic. As pet ownership is a huge commitment, giving a kitten as a gift should be considered with great caution.  For one thing, cost is a huge consideration – not of the cat itself (depending on the breed), but of the financial commitment that is involved in the cat’s day-to-day care in addition to veterinary costs. If you Google “yearly cost of owning a cat” you’ll get hundreds of results, ranging from $100/month to over $1000/month for food, litter, veterinary care and toys. These estimates do not take into account medical emergencies (hopefully no holiday-related problems, since you’ve read this blog! J) or chronic health issues. The first year of life also tends to be quite a bit more expensive because kittens receive a series of vaccines, and will need to be spayed or neutered (this will cut down on medical costs later in life by preventing unwanted pregnancies, reduces the risk of certain types of cancer, and prevents unwanted behavioral problems for which many cats end up unwanted in shelters). Whatever the cost per month, you should be certain that the recipient of the cat is aware of the ongoing cost and prepared to give the cat the financial investment to keep it healthy. Often, especially in this time economic slump, many pets end up in shelters or on the streets because people are no longer able to provide care and shelter for their pets.

Also, consider the effect on other pets and people in the household. Are you giving a kitten to a teenager who will be going off to college in a few months and possibly be unable to house the cat in the dorm with them? Is anyone in the household allergic to cats? Do you own a large, hostile dog or a boa constrictor that might find a tiny kitten to be a great snack?

Kittens are hard to come by at Christmas time because cats tend to breed during the summer months, so also consider that, if a feline friend is welcome as a gift, maybe an older cat would be a good choice. It may be best to plan to visit the shelter or rescue* together to pick out the new cat, to make sure that the person receiving the cat is getting a cat that they feel a connection with.

If forethought is put into the decision to make a gift of a cat, then the gift can be up to 20 years or more of valuable companionship, but it is not a gift to be given lightly.

*While many people choose purebred cats, remember that only about 20-30% of shelter cats ever get adopted. Consider adopting a rescued pet. Petfinder.com can even help you locate purebred cats that need adoption at local shelters and rescues, if only a purebred will do.

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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What Do Kittens Need?

May 12, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

Kittens learn from each other and their Mom and need them to develop their normal behaviors. They need social and physical contact to gain confidence. As they grow older, they will need each other less but remain interested in social interaction. The presence of the Mom with the litter also increases confidence. Kittens feel safe clustered around their Mom and can show interest in novel people or situations. If the Mom is confident around people the kittens will quickly learn to be sociable with humans. If she is hostile, they will learn to be too.

The first important relationship with a kitten is with his Mom. They are entirely dependent upon her for their survival. Before two weeks of age, they don’t move around much, have not developed many abilities that they will later and have poor eye sight.  She anticipates everything they need from nutrition to cleaning to toileting. By licking their abdomen, she stimulates the passing of urine and feces that she can then consume.

All social contact is limited to the litter and Mom. The family is matriarchal and independent. Related females in a colony will help with child rearing. They may help with nursing or moving the kittens. There is a lot of safety in numbers. Related Moms will guard kittens remaining behind if they have to be moved. Alone, a mother cat exposes the kittens left behind to dangers as she moves them one by one.

As kittens get older, they begin to move around more and begin to develop more independent behavior. In the early stages of these changes, they remain very dependent upon Mom for all their needs. As they begin to play with each other, they learn to communicate effectively with other cats and begin to develop the predatory skills they will need as adults.

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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