Cat Tales

Indoor vs Outdoor Cats

posted July 7th, 2016 by
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Beat the Heat

Indoor vs Outdoor Cats

by Mira Alicki

Indoor vs Outdoor CatsImmediately one pictures packs of lions in Africa or a lone cheetah chasing down its prey. Cats are natural born explorers and hunters and domesticated cats retain that instinct whether they are raised outdoors or not. Many cat owners come to crossroads of having to choose what environment they want to raise their feline in: outdoors or indoors. If you are unsure of which option to choose, we’ve compiled a list to help with your decision.
Health

DISEASE. The biggest concerns for outdoor cats are feral and homeless cats that may come in contact your own. The American Feral Cat Coalition estimates that there are about 60 million feral and homeless cats living in the United States alone. Many of these cats carry a number of potentially fatal or dangerous diseases such as:

• Feline leukemia (FeLV)
• Feline AIDS (FIV)
• FIP (feline infectious peritonitis)
• Feline distemper (panleukopenia)
• Upper respiratory infections (or URI).

The first two listed, FIV and FeLV, are highly contagious and fatal. If your cat is going to spending any time outside, make sure you take them to get additional health care and vaccinations to protect against these diseases.

PARASITES. In addition to diseases, many outdoors attract fleas and bring them into the home. Even with a flea collar, cats may bring in parasites from the outside depending on their environment. Some other parasites that your cat may pick up during their outdoor exploration are:

• Ticks
• Ringworm (a fungal infection)
• Ear mites
• Intestinal Worms

These parasites not only cause moderate to severe symptoms to your feline but may also be spread to you and your family. Once a parasite has hitched a ride into your home, it is often times difficult to fully eradicate them from your home.

EXERCISE. The outdoors is the optimal environment for your cat when it comes to exercise. They are free to run wild and explore on their own. This also means getting fewer toys to keep them entertained indoors and less time spent helping them get the exercise that they need. Cats that spend all of their time indoors can become:

• Dependent on their owners for simulation: this can cause a cat to become stressed when the owners are absent and unable to entertain themselves.
• Clingy when they owner is home: this can cause a cat to become less welcoming to strangers or others who enter their home and take time away from their owner.
• Destructive to furniture: even with stretching posts and proper care, indoor cats may find expensive furniture to satisfy their needs and destroy them.

If you do allow your feline to venture outside, remember to:

• Protect your feline from other cats and animals. Keep them on a leash or let them out in a confined area like your backyard, where they are less likely to run into them.
• Keep a careful watch on your cat when they’re outdoors
• Periodically visit the veterinarian to screen for parasites and diseases and keep their vaccines up-to-date.
Safety

CARS. In addition to feral and homeless cats that can attack your feline, cars cause many feline deaths. A popular and false belief is that cats have an innate instinct to avoid busy roads and cars, which is completely false. Cats are just as likely to run into the busiest road as a dog is.

ANIMAL CRUELTY. For whatever reason, there are people like to inflict abuse to wandering animals. Any roaming cat is a risk to be attacked or shot with a BB gun or arrows. Some felines end up being trapped and then abused and/or killed “for fun.”

OTHER ANIMALS. Thanks to the reputation of larger felines such as lions and cheetahs, cats are considered to be exceptional hunters. While domesticated cats also make exceptional hunters, they often find themselves being the hunted, not the hunter.

Depending on your location, domesticated cats are at risk of being hunted by:

• Loose or stray dogs
• Coyotes
• Raccoons
• Foxes
• Crocodiles

Many bites from these animals are serious and can often lead to death. While you can’t control wild animals, you can control where your cat explores. Keep an eye on your feline and keep them in a safe and confined area.

TOXINS AND POISONS. Felines often come in contact with dangerous and toxic substances that are being used to kill off other pests. Common toxins that cats can come in contact with are antifreeze or rodent poisons.

TREES. In popular culture, cats are found in stuck high up in a tree and are often saved by some hero walking by. When these cats find themselves stuck high in a tree, the will be unable or too scared to climb down and end up staying there. If not rescued quickly, the cat can become severely dehydrated and weak that they end up falling with severe to fatal injuries.

Environmental

HUNTERS. Cats have a reputation for having such a strong prey drive that they often hunt just for sport and “for fun.” Their prey tends to be birds or other small animals. While the impact of one domesticated cat doesn’t seem that much, it is estimated that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds every year with feral cats only killing 20% of that number.
Indoor Cats

The main concern for indoor cats is their stimulation and exercise. As they spend the majority of the life inside the house, it falls upon the owner to provide both. Here are some suggestions to keep your indoor cat from becoming too fat and lazy:

• Get a companion for your cat: whether it is another feline or a dog, a companion will keep your feline company while you’re away while also providing exercise, affection and companionship.
• Interactive food toy: instead of just dumping food into their bowl, make your feline work for it. By putting the dry food inside a toy, they have to play with the toy to get the food out forcing them to exercise for their food.
• Scratching posts: avoid having your feline destroy your furniture by buying a post where they can satisfy their natural instinct to scratch at objects.
• Create the perfect environment: by buying items for your cat as cat trees, cat perches (that face the sun), and hiding places to provide simulation and comfort to your feline companion.

-Mira Alicki is a jewelry designer and goldsmith for the past 22 years. Her passion for animals led her to create her own line of jewelry and online store to benefit charities. 40% of each purchase is donated back to the animal community. You can find Mira on Twitter (@FIMHjewelry) or Forever In My Heart.

Here We Go Again

posted January 15th, 2016 by
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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
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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
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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
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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!”

A Cat Tale – Livin’ the Good Life

posted September 30th, 2014 by
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Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen

 

 

“Hi there! It’s Rio here. That’s me in the first picture, basking under the sunlamp in my ‘beach house’.  At least that’s what Mom calls it. You see, I moved here with my roommate, Oso, last winter when it was very cold outside. Mom set up double adjoining crates on a table in the barn and furnished them with nice, warm beds and heating pads. Sure is lots better than life on the street!”

 

 

“I was found in a shed at an apartment complex where people moved away and left me. I was a pregnant teenage mom when some nice lady found me. She took care of me and found homes for my babies, then got me ‘fixed’ so that wouldn’t happen again.”

 

 

“Oso tells me that another nice lady helped her even more because her situation was worse. She was found with four babies behind a vacant house and was so young that she didn’t know how to care for them. The lady helped feed them and gave her assurance; so much, in fact, that she was able to nurse another orphan.”

 

Unfortunately, this happens all too often. People get a cute little kitten, but care little about it when the novelty wears off. Then circumstances change, so they simply move away and leave it because they cannot afford the pet deposit at the new apartment. Every apartment manager could repeat this story verbatim.

 

Others fail to get veterinary care and let their cat outside because it is crying to get out. Chances are that the cat wants outside because it is a female “in heat.” Many do not realize that a female cat can become pregnant as young as four months of age. Since they didn’t care properly for one cat, they certainly do not care for a litter of kittens either. Hence they are abandoned.

Now back to our story. Rio and Oso were found in different neighborhoods but under similar circumstances. Their plights became known through a network of emails. (Email through personal contacts is the most effective way to rehome rescue cats because shelters are usually full.) Ideally, all of these cats would be placed in loving indoor homes. However, many now prefer life outside, and therefore, make ideal barn cats.

It so happened that Nancy, one person in this network, was looking for barn cats to control the mice in her husband’s shop. She had barn cats in other outbuildings on the ranch, but the cat guardian of this building had died recently. She sought two cats, so they could have the companionship of each other. Rio and Oso should fill the bill.

“Hi! Oso speaking now. I’m the sleek, black little girl with big eyes. The lady who found me called me ‘Hooter’ because my eyes were as big as an owl’s, but Nancy renamed me the minute she saw me. She said that I was ‘oh, so beautiful.’ Hence my name became ‘Oso.’

“I met Rio, formerly called ‘Stripes,’ at Camille’s Cathouse where we were introduced. We were both recovering from our spaying and bunked together in a double cage. I wasn’t sure about Rio at first because she seemed a little rowdy. However, we decided that we were now starting our lives anew, so we might as well be friends. Nancy came to visit us regularly and spoke to us gently, using our new names. Plus, she brought us treats!

“When we first came to our home in the shop, we stayed in our cage (aka: beach house). After we were here for a couple of weeks, Nancy opened the cages at night, so we could explore. What fun!  There are lots of nooks and crannies for mice. Rio is the best hunter, but I help her; we usually bring our prizes to show the people. Mom still feeds us morning and evening, ’cause the cat food has a lot more nutrients than just mice.

“Rio has told you a little about life here. Let me tell you more. When Mom Nancy introduced us to her husband, he talked to us and petted us, and then he went to work. Oh, the noise! He ran these big machines that made a lot of noise, but we knew we were safe. Sometimes he stops work and fires up the grill. Yummy! It has become a tradition to share his lunch with us. Now we just hang out during the day up high, away from the noise, but always come when called.”

This illustrates several things:

 

1. When cats are introduced to the barn, they must be confined in order to learn that this is their new home;

 

2. Give them a comfortable bed to keep them warm;

 

3. Introduce yourself to them gently;

 

4.  Feed them daily, so they know that you are their food source. Cats cannot live healthy lives by mice alone;

 

5. Give them food in small quantities, so they look forward to your next visit;

 

6. Call them by name, so they learn to come when called.

 

“It’s spring now, and Mom opens the door to let us outside during the day. The sun is glorious!  We really don’t need the sunlamps now, but still appreciate our nice soft beds. We stay close to the shop, ’cause that’s our home, but we have gotten to meet some other cats and even horses and dogs.

“We have a special cat door up off the ground that only we can access, so we can come and go during the day, but Mom locks us in at night after she feeds us to keep us safe from all the wild things. Yes, we’re livin’ the good life as barn cats!”

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