Author Archives: Camille Hulen

Here We Go Again

posted January 15th, 2016 by
Coconut Oil

Here We Go Again! – A Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen
As I sit here and watch this kitten gaze into my eyes, I cannot help but think: “Here we go again!” This little girl came to me on Thanksgiving Day from a litter of three orphans. One kitten was already dead, with mama cat nowhere to be found. As spring approaches, this scenario will play out all too often. Fortunately, this girl and her brother were in good shape and readily took a bottle. Others will not be so lucky.
What can you do? Spay and neuter now before the major mating season begins!
You, the TulsaPets reader, probably think I sound like a broken record because you care about your pets. However, the Tulsa area still has a problem with pet overpopulation. Statistics for 2014 are incomplete as of this writing, but here is the depressing news for 2013 from Tulsa Animal Welfare: 3,785 cats were taken in, and 2,562 were euthanized! This doesn’t even include dogs or animals from suburbs such as Broken Arrow, Sapulpa or Owasso.
Nationally, some progress is being made on pet sterilization. I was excited to read recently in a Wall Street Journal article, “Too Many Dogs: A Simple Solution,” about a new chemical method for males which could be significantly cheaper—as low as $1 per animal. It consists of an injection of calcium chloride into the testicles and requires only a light sedative with no need for anesthesia or incisions. This method has been studied primarily on dogs but could be applicable to cats as well. An extensive study was done in India, and calcium chloride has been used on dogs on the Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota. Closer to home, an animal shelter in Lawton, Okla., has been using it since last spring.
Although the calcium chloride research goes back to the 1970s, it has not been approved by the FDA. It is such a common chemical that it cannot be patented, so drug companies have no motivation to invest the money ($10 million, according to the Wall Street Journal) for FDA approved trials. A few local veterinarians with whom I spoke seemed somewhat ambivalent.
Ruth Steinberger of SpayFirst! says her organization uses calcium chloride, but did not run blindly into the method without first conducting research. They had testosterone tests run at the endocrine lab at Colorado State University. After reading all of the already conclusive research, they still worked on this for months before feeling that they had enough data to support using it in the field. On another front, an approved sterilant called Zeuterin should be available for about $20 per animal to nonprofits.
Regarding feral cats specifically, most experts feel that sterilizing females is more effective than working on males. If a female goes into season, it doesn’t matter how many males in the colony are fixed; one from somewhere will likely find her. Neutering colony males only stops that particular male from being the father; it may not prevent a litter. But another chemical, megestrol acetate, is being tested on female cats. This is added to canned food on a weekly basis. It could be beneficial when a feral colony is being fed but cannot be captured. Apparently this method has been known about for decades, but is being ignored because there is no profit in it.
While a few dedicated researchers continue their studies in new methods, education of the public is the biggest challenge. Not everyone knows about the low-cost spay and neuter clinics available. What’s worse, not enough people care! My hope in writing this article is to bring this problem to your attention once again. When I tell people the sad story of how many cats are euthanized (I prefer the word “killed”) everyday, they are shocked. They cite rescue societies without realizing that they are always overloaded.
Locally, SpayOK is a great resource, with two locations in Tulsa, and StreetCats issues vouchers for low-cost spay/neuters. Both Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and StreetCats have traps available for loan. Please spread the word. We do not need more homeless orphans like the kitten pictured here. Let’s continue to speak out for her and others who cannot speak for themselves.

A Cat Tale

posted November 14th, 2015 by
20150115c

by Camille Hulen

 

Here We Go Again!

As I sit here and watch this kitten gaze into my eyes, I cannot help but think: “Here we go again!” This little girl came to me on Thanksgiving Day from a litter of three orphans. One kitten was already dead, with mama cat nowhere to be found. As spring approaches, this scenario will play out all too often.  Fortunately, this girl and her brother were in good shape and readily took a bottle. Others will not be so lucky.

What can you do? Spay and neuter now before the major mating season begins!

You, the TulsaPets reader, probably think I sound like a broken record because you care about your pets. However, the Tulsa area still has a problem with pet overpopulation. Statistics for 2014 are incomplete as of this writing, but here is the depressing news for 2013 from Tulsa Animal Welfare: 3,785 cats were taken in, and 2,562 were euthanized! This doesn’t even include dogs or animals from suburbs such as Broken Arrow, Sapulpa or Owasso.

Nationally, some progress is being made on pet sterilization. I was excited to read recently in a Wall Street Journal article, “Too  Many Dogs: A Simple Solution,” about a new chemical method for males which could be significantly cheaper—as low as $1 per animal. It consists of an injection of calcium chloride into the testicles and requires only a light sedative with  no need for anesthesia or incisions. This method has been studied primarily on dogs but could be applicable to cats as well. An extensive study was done in India, and calcium chloride has been used on dogs on the Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota. Closer to home, an animal shelter in Lawton, Okla., has been using it since last spring.

Although the calcium chloride research goes back to the 1970s, it has not been approved by the FDA. It is such a common chemical that it cannot be patented, so drug companies have no motivation to invest the money ($10 million, according to the Wall Street Journal) for FDA approved trials. A few local veterinarians with whom I spoke seemed somewhat ambivalent.

Ruth Steinberger of SpayFirst! says her organization uses calcium chloride, but did not run blindly into the method without first conducting research. They had testosterone tests run at the endocrine lab at Colorado State University.  After reading all of the already conclusive research, they    still worked on this for months before feeling that they had enough data to support using      it in the field. On another front, an approved sterilant called Zeuterin should be available for about $20 per animal to nonprofits.

Regarding feral cats specifically, most experts feel that sterilizing females is more effective than working on males. If a female goes into season, it doesn’t matter how many males in the colony are fixed; one from somewhere will likely find her. Neutering colony males only stops that particular male from being the father; it may not prevent a litter. But another chemical, megestrol acetate, is being tested on female cats. This is added to canned food on a weekly basis. It could be beneficial when a feral colony is being  fed but cannot be captured. Apparently this method has been known about for decades, but is being ignored because there is no profit in it.

While a few dedicated researchers continue their studies in new methods, education of the public is the biggest challenge. Not everyone knows about the low-cost spay and neuter clinics available. What’s worse, not enough people care! My hope in writing this article is to bring   this problem  to your attention once again.  When I tell people the sad story of how many cats are euthanized (I prefer the word “killed”) everyday, they are shocked. They cite rescue societies without realizing that they are always overloaded.

Locally, SpayOK is a great resource, with two locations in Tulsa, and StreetCats issues vouchers for low-cost spay/neuters. Both Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and StreetCats have traps available for loan. Please spread the word. We do not need more homeless orphans like the kitten pictured here. Let’s continue to speak out  for her and others who cannot speak for themselves.

A Cat Tale

posted September 12th, 2015 by
20141115c

A Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen

 

A Tale of Two Kitties

 

 

~ Introductions ~

So you think you want a cat. There’s so much to consider. How do you find the right cat? How do you introduce yourself? How do you introduce a new cat into your home? Every cat and every situation is different as the following stories illustrate.

Duke and Thunder were litter mates. Although both would romp and play with other kittens, they behaved distinctly differently toward humans. Duke loved everyone, and his curiosity brought him to every stranger. Thunder, on the other hand, was fixated on his foster mom. He followed her everywhere, demanding attention but would run whenever a stranger came into the room.

Duke had no problem adjusting to his new home when he was adopted. Yes, he hid under the bed and was shy at first, but by the second day he was out and playing, claiming a blanket and empty boxes as his own.

Thunder was another story. Most potential adopters would simply look at Thunder and admire his beauty but then move on, saying, “He doesn’t like me.” One visitor, however, would not give up on Thunder. Although Thunder sought the highest shelf, almost out of reach, Rita followed him around, speaking to him softly. She showed him toys and offered him treats. Eventually, Thunder relented and let her touch him, so she filled out adoption papers and gave him a chance at a new home.

At first, Thunder hid under the bed in the guest room designated as his and refused to come out when his new human came near. However, when left alone, he would come out to eat and use the litter box, and they could hear him rummaging around at night. Throughout this time, Rita went into the room regularly to talk to him so that he would learn her voice. Then, after about three days, she found him on top of the bed! Progress!

From the guest room, Thunder moved into the office but would still seek the highest shelf, just out of reach. He would venture out when no one was looking and “steal” things to take to his hiding place. He was moving in and claiming territory. Next he would do “run-bys” trying to check out the humans, and sometimes sit within 3 feet of them, just observing. At other times he would follow Rita around to get a closer look. Fortunately, the new owners were amused by his behavior and did not get frustrated. Finally, one night he came to Rita as she was having a midnight snack and begged for food.  More progress!

As of this writing, after three weeks, Thunder is not yet a lap cat, but he is loved. I have no doubt that, in time, he will reciprocate with his love and purrs.

These stories illustrate the introductions of two different cats to their new homes, but here are some general tips for introducing a feline into a new environment/home:

  1. When you meet any cat, do not force yourself upon it. Speak quietly and touch it gently on the back of the neck or scratch it behind the ears. Do not attempt to pet it “head-on,” and give it an opportunity to bite. You cannot “pat” a cat like a dog.
  2. Do not attempt to pick up a strange cat! Above all, do not try to cuddle it to your face; this can be dangerous. It does not know you, and you cannot expect it to react like your own cat does. When you do pick it up, confine its front paws and hold it at your hip. Yes, you can scruff a cat by holding the skin at the back of its neck, but this takes practice, and it is not the best way to endear yourself to it.
  3. When you take the new kitty home, keep it in a confined space. A small bathroom is probably best because there are fewer places to hide. Provide water, a soft place to sleep and a litter box.
  4. Spend time in the room with the cat. Rather than leave food in the room, offer food while you are there, then take the food away when you leave. This way, the cat quickly identifies you as its food source. And, by all means, talk to the kitty and call it by name.
  5. Don’t panic. The cat may not eat for the first day because it is scared but continue to offer food at regular intervals. Play with it. For example, tease it with a toy on a string.
  6. When the cat is comfortable with you, release it into the rest of the house. Note: it’s probably better to keep bedroom doors closed at first unless you enjoy crawling on hands and knees, searching under beds.
  7. Relax and let the cat explore at its own pace. Continue to offer food in a designated place but do not keep food available all the time.
  8. If there are multiple cats in the house-hold, the idea of keeping the newcomer separate in its own room is even more important. Keep it in the room until it is comfortable and curious enough to come out. The resident cats will probably become curious as well and maintain a vigil by the door. Curiosity in a cat is a good thing!
  9. Exchange spaces for the cats. Allow the new cat to explore the house while the resident cats check out the smells where the new cat has been confined.
  10. When introducing cats, let them introduce themselves to each other. Do not force one upon the other. Chances are, they will hiss and growl at each other, then retreat and observe each other from a safe distance.
  11. If a scuffle develops, clap your hands and speak sternly. Do not yell and panic to protect your favorite. If necessary, a squirt from a spray water bottle works wonders.
  12. Mutual play with a toy on a string is a good icebreaker, as is a laser light. When the cats focus on the toy or “prey,” they tend to forget about each other.
  13. If you are uncomfortable leaving the cats alone with each other, continue to confine the newcomer in a separate room when you are not home. Eventually, the cats will find their own spaces. They may not become buddies but will usually learn to coexist.

Yes, when you adopt a cat, it finds its own space, both in your home and within your heart. And, I might add, the virtue any cat most assuredly teaches us is patience.

Bentley – A Cat Tale

posted January 11th, 2015 by
20140715c

Bentley

Bentley

A Main Coon with Purr’sonality

 

By Camille Hulen

 

It was love at first sight when Jean saw the picture of the Maine Coon with his quizzical face. Then, as soon as Bentley met Jean, he began talking to her, and she fell further in love.

He had such a unique way of expressing himself, not with purrs but with squeaks and grunts.

 

“He has issues,” the counselor warned her as she filled out the adoption papers. (It seems that Bentley had been adopted twice before and returned.) However, Jean felt that every cat deserves a loving home, and this cat was special.

Bentley investigated every corner of his new home immediately. Soon he became very active, tearing from one end of the house to the other. “Don’t you think I’m adorable?” he seemed to say, as he jumped from chair to sofa to bookcase. “Who said you should walk on the floor?  It’s much more fun up here!” And then he would come and whisper to his new owner, endearing himself further, “You didn’t really like that antique vase, did you?”

A week later when the adoption center called, they did so with trepidation, afraid that he would be coming back again. They breathed a sigh of relief when they learned he finally had a permanent home.

You see, his new owner was willing to work with him, in spite of his “issues.” She had made a commitment, and it was for life. Besides, Bentley made her laugh!

Every day held new surprises. Sometimes Bentley would make a mad dash across the room, climb the door jamb then slide down like a fireman on a pole. Over and over just for fun, of course! The other cat in the household just watched in amazement at this unruly fellow.

One never knew where he might turn up. One day he was lost for hours. Where was Bentley? Aha, in the cupboard over the refrigerator. Of course, when feeding time came, he was in the refrigerator. Bentley was always hungry—a cat with this much energy needed lots of food. He was not at all fat; he burned off the calories with all of his antics.

At home, Bentley could watch his food being prepared, but when he went to board at the kennel, it was done in an adjacent room. When he heard action in the food prep area, he would repeatedly bounce 3 feet in the air, as if on a pogo stick to look through the window. The other cats waited patiently, but not Bentley.

At the kennel, he refused to be caged. He would first trash the cage and then manipulate the latch until he got out. This is not unusual behavior for a Maine Coon, but Bentley was better at it than most. Next, Bentley deftly demonstrated how to open the screen door, separating two sections of the kennel, earning the nickname Houdini.

When the owners adopted a black Lab who showed up on their doorstep, this was more entertainment for Bentley: another animal to tease. Why not deposit cat toys in front of the dog, let him eat them, and then watch him throw up? Why not sit on top of the dog’s crate and drop things on him? Why not shred papers for the dog to eat? (Bentley had already been outlawed from the office for unnecessary paper-shredding.)

As you can see, there is never a dull moment with Bentley around. So how does one describe Bentley?

Words from “The Sound of Music” come to mind. Like Maria, Bentley makes you laugh. As the song says, he truly is “a flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!”

Free Kittens – A Cat Tale

posted May 27th, 2013 by

by Camille Hulen

“Kittens, free to good home.” It’s spring! The newspaper classified pages and Craigslist abound with ads for free kittens. In addition, kittens are peddled from the back of pick-ups in parking lots or on street corners, where a few sellers will ask a nominal amount for them.

The child sees them: “Oh, aren’t they cute?” Then Mom relents and takes one home. We won’t talk about the unsold ones dumped in the country or drowned in the river. The following is the story of one kitten purchased under such circumstances.

Two friends of mine were driving through a neighborhood when they spied a beautiful Siamese loose in the middle of the street, anxiously trotting along to follow a woman who was paying no attention.

When they stopped to inquire, the woman admitted that this was her cat. However, she no longer wanted it. “I got this kitten for my little boy, but he’s gonna kill it, so I turned it loose.” She then proceeded to tote her case of beer toward the apartment.

My compassionate friends, of course, followed up. “How did you get this kitten? Has it had its vaccinations?”

“Well, I gave $150 for this cat and just put it in my pocket and brought it home. What vaccinations? I don’t know about that stuff,” the lady replied.

The lady agreed to relinquish ownership of the cat, and my friend Linda then made arrangements to pick up the kitten from her the next day.

When Linda arrived, there the kitten presented a pitiful picture sitting alone outside the door with all of its belongings: a kitty condo, a litter box and food. The kitten was immediately taken to a veterinarian, and spayed and vaccinated at the expense of some Good Samaritans.

Fortunately for this kitten, our Internet network was able to find a loving home with owners whose cat had died recently. Kitty is now well cared for and will lead a wonderful life.

How many other kittens are not so lucky as this one because their owners have no idea of what responsible pet ownership entails? They think buying a big bag of cat food monthly, along with a toy at Christmas, is sufficient.

This is the reason that rescue organizations ask so many questions to screen applicants carefully. Reputable agencies will also be sure the cat is already spayed or neutered and must charge a fee to cover this expense. How many “free” kittens are abandoned when the novelty wears off? We see them every day: former pets, unspayed and forming feral colonies with their offspring, or taken to the shelter and euthanized.

Adoption is a commitment to a lifetime relationship—a cat will live close to 20 years. ASPCA estimates a first year cost of cat ownership to be approximately $1,000, and at least $670 per year thereafter. Kiplinger agrees, putting the cost between $500 and $1,000 per year.

What are some of the costs? To begin with, a sizable pet deposit is generally required of tenants with pets. Some estimates of recurring annual costs are: food, $115; litter, $165; treatment for flea prevention, $144; annual medical exams and vaccinations, $160.

This does not include miscellaneous things such as grooming expenses and care while you are on vacation. There should also be savings available for emergency veterinary care in case of illness or accidents.

So, the next time a person asks, “How much is that kitty (doggie) in the window?” The answer is, “There is no such thing as a free cat.” However, the love of a cat is priceless.

A Different Breed of Cat

posted March 9th, 2013 by

by Camille Hulen

When you think of a baby kitten, playful balls of fur come to mind. In contrast to that image and the fuzzy kitten on this issue’s cover, consider the hairless Sphynx. This breed did not originate in Egypt, as one might think, but rather in Canada as a result of a spontaneous mutation, born to a black and white domestic cat.

The Sphynx does, in fact, have a very short downy coat, which can be seen only with difficulty; to the touch, it feels like suede or chamois cloth. Their skin may be a variety of colors and patterns similar to other cats (Tabby, Torti, etc.). In addition, the Sphynx has an unusual body type— long, thin and muscular with no whiskers and huge ears.

In cats with normal coats, the hair helps to regulate body temperature, so the Sphynx requires special care. It is subject to sunburn and sensitive to cold. This, of course, allows the doting owner to acquire an extensive wardrobe for the cat! Some Sphynx are real “clothes hounds” and wear them proudly, while others resist.

Some might think that the lack of hair would make the Sphynx the ideal pet for allergy suff erers. however, this is not the case because allergies to cats are triggered by a protein called Fel d1, not cat hair itself. Fel d1 is a tiny, sticky protein primarily found in cat saliva and sebaceous glands. Those with cat allergies may actually react worse to direct contact with Sphynx cats than other breeds!

While Sphynx cats lack a coat to shed or groom, they are not maintenance free. Body oils, which would normally be absorbed by the hair, tend to build up on the skin. As a result, regular weekly baths become necessary, along with ear cleaning and nail clipping. Now, instead of cleaning cat hair off of the furniture, you must remove oil stains.

With regard to personality, some references say Sphynx are loners, resist cuddling and prefer to be an “only child.” My friend Terry (who has been owned and trained by several cats) agrees with other reports, saying that they are very social, demand attention and are real purr machines. This confirms my experience that every cat is an individual, regardless of breed, and we must appreciate their idiosyncrasies.

Now meet Flora, Terry and husband Donald’s newest family member, who was adopted from Sphynx rescue alliance in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Incidentally, if you are considering a purebred cat of any type, please rescue rather than support breeding.) rescue organizations for all breeds are accessible via the internet; one is Specialty purebred cat rescue in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Flora’s name is particularly fitting, because she was born in the spring eight years ago and has indeed blossomed since coming to live in her new home one year ago. Most recently, Flora was named Sphynx of the Week by Facebook group Naked Nonsense. Flora, herself, perhaps gives the best endorsement for the Sphynx breed; excerpts from her interview follow.

Q: What is your favorite food?

A: I will eat anything I find to steal! They never feed me. (Sphynx have notorious appetites in order to maintain their body temperature.)

Q: Favorite toy or activity?

A: I have a rubber chew toy that I carried with me everywhere until I had my dental surgery. I no longer need to chew to make my mouth feel better, so I have no favorite toys right now. I prefer chasing my siblings around the house when the spirit moves me.

Q: Greatest talent?

A: Waking the dead. Since I had bi-lateral ear ablation surgeries, I can hear only muffled sounds. I want to make sure everyone hears me when I want attention or food (‘cause they never feed me).

Q: Naughtiest moment?

A: Stealing food from my brothers and sisters (‘cause they never feed me) and biting brother Skynard’s ears when he won’t sit still while I’m bathing him.

Q: Most embarrassing moment?

A: probably the way I looked after my ear surgery. One eye was completely closed; one eye was half open; my head tilted, and I had to wear one of those embarrassing collars!

Q: Your secret love?

A: “My Skynard” and it’s no secret. We are inseparable. He grooms me; I groom him, and we sleep together all the time. We went together to OSU last year to check our hearts, since Momma says that Sphynx are prone to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). I have a heart murmur, but Skynard is perfect (which I already knew).

Conclusion: These Sphynx cats, in spite of the extra care required, are loved dearly!

Page 1 of 6123456