Tagged with " litter box"

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

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I am Marcus and I Have Arthritis.

Nov 8, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

September, 2012

Hi, my name is Marcus. I am 13 years old, and the grumpy old man of my household. I used to be the baby of the house, but now I have 3 younger sibling cats “ the brats”. They annoy me tremendously.  As I have gotten older, my joints ache. I am a lot stiffer. It is hard to get up and down the stairs. It is also harder to jump up to my favorite place by the window on the sofa back. I spend most of my time hanging out under the chairs and in the closet where the younger cats don’t bother me. If they do find me I usually hiss at them and if they really bug me I will take a swat at them. When the weather is cold, or pressure changes occur, I hurt more. I am NOT going to show anyone especially my 3 younger nemeses that I am painful because they will harass me more. If I went outside some bigger predator would catch me and eat me.

I am not usually going to limp. I am just not going to move around very much. When I am really uncomfortable I will sometimes pee or poop outside the box. I have a hard time squatting low enough to keep everything inside the box so sometimes I go over the edge. It is also hard for me to get down to the basement to the litter box. I hate the clay gravelly litter my people give me because it hurts my arthritic feet. It is also hard for me to get into the small hooded box. Sometimes I don’t even go down to the box because I don’t want to go by the ratty younger cats. Then I go in a corner. I don’t groom myself much and sometimes get mats or greasy fur because I can’t turn around very well or reach my belly and back end.  I even get a little cranky when my mom picks me up because it hurts my back. She just told me she is taking me to the vet because I am 13 and need a tune up. I think the vet was nagging her too.

November, 2012

I am king of my home again! I have to admit; I really am not too keen on the whole vet visit. I have got to admit, though, that my vet does tell me how great I am. She really has helped my mom help me feel better!  I know I am not alone with my arthritis- the vet said 92% of older cats have some arthritis. My mom gives me a new food called J/D that over the last couple months has made me almost as flexible as when I was a young cat about town. It tastes pretty good, and it also makes my coat look great. The vet said it is because of the really high levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the food. On the days when my joints are the most painful, my mom also gives me prescription pain medication (aspirin and acetaminophen are poisonous to all cats). I know that if I start losing ground and become more painful, my mom is going to start me on a glucosamine oral supplement in my canned food as well. If I don’t like it, she said I would get Adequan injections at home as well. Adequan helps cartilage heal itself. I also love the fact that my mom put a litter box with soft unscented clumping litter upstairs for me as well so I don’t have to go up and down the stairs. (The brats like it too). She put a heated pet bed where I like to sleep too. Now I feel good enough to sleep on my mom’s bed again. I even play with those young cats (they are a little bratty though). I can hear then coming since my mom put break away belled collars on them.  Most important, I feel good! Old cats rule, young ones drool!

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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Law of survival – Why Cat’s Don’t Cry in Pain

Sep 30, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Pain is a basic sensation, an indicator of physical distress. To a small animal in the wild, the exhibition of pain can be life threatening-an indication of weakness which could make it the target of a predator. This pain-hiding survival skill remains even though most of our beloved cats have moved inside. As a result, it is not easy to answer the question, “Is my cat in pain?”

For example, an owner may be surprised when an oral exam reveals significant dental disease, even though their cat is still eating well and has not lost weight . Nevertheless, when the doctor gently touches a tooth with an explorer, the kitty’s teeth begin to chatter, indicating pain. Owners wonder how could they have not known. Two components of feline behavior make pain assessment subtle.

Your cat lives in the present- another survival skill. In a cat’s mind: This is how I am today. This the norm. Your cat does not know that this is a new situation. It accepts the present and moves on. It does not remember less pain one month or one year ago. In addition, your cat more commonly shows pain via behavioral changes and less frequently by crying out. If it hurts to do something, your cat will try to stop doing that activity.

As your cat ages, arthritis may develop. The subsequent loss of mobility and stiffness build gradually. Your cat adapts by changing its lifestyle. You might interpret the changes as benign effects of old age, but they may be caused by pain.

To judge if your cat is in pain, look for behavioral changes such as the following:

  • decreased grooming behavior which could be due to a loose tooth or other mouth discomfort, or due to difficulty bending to groom along its back;
  • defecation outside the box which may be due to discomfort in hips and knees when trying to maintain the defecation posture or feeling unstable on a smooth litter box surface;
  • getting cranky or snapping during your grooming or petting sessions which may be due to inadvertently increasing pressure over tender joints or sore teeth;
  • increased time sleeping on the bed which may be due to general discomfort; and
  • becoming a loner as a new behavior which may be the result of the instinct to withdraw to avoid both physical pain and predation.

Chronic pain is neither something that a cat must learn to accept, nor is it only found in older cats. Dental disease can occur at any age. A previous injury or congenital abnormality may cause arthritis to develop early in a your cat’s life. A thorough examination by your veterinarian will reveal any physical signs of pain. These findings in conjunction with your observations regarding behavioral changes will help the doctor to fully assess the situation and make treatment recommendations. Oral pain can usually be resolved with professional dental care and follow-up home treatment. Arthritis can be managed in many ways. Your doctor can tailor a pain management program that will be best for your cat. It is possible to minimize pain in your cat’s life.

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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