Friday, October 28, 2011

10 things you may not know about cats

1. The nose tells all.
Nose-to-nose greetings between strange cats don't happen, as it puts both in a vulnerable position. However, cats who know each other  but have been apart for a while feel safe enough to do this to confirm visual recognition and gain information about where he has been and what he has been doing.

2. Purring means...
Purring usually indicates contentment, however, a deep purr can also indicate pain or stress. If you know your cat well you will be able to tell the difference in his demeanor

3. Cats Prefer Baby Talk
Cats appear to retain their kitten vocal signals to communicate with their owners, but they use an adult repertoire of sound with other cats.

4. Cats and Lilies Don't Mix
The flower, the leaf and the bulb of ALL lilies are toxic to the cats kidneys.  Watch those inexpensive fresh floral bouquets, they almost all contain lilies.

5. Cat Naps
Cats like to nap rather than sleep but if relaxed enough to enter a deeper sleep, they produce the same brain wave patterns that we do when we dream.

6. Cats Don't  See Eye to Eye
Cats blink and narrow their eyes when they accidentally make eye contact. Eye contact can actually be quite threatening to any animal.   To make friends with an unfamiliar cat, blink and look away when you catch his eyes.

7.  Cats require Positive Reinforcement for Good Behavior
Cats cannot understand punishment as humans do, they must be praised and rewarded for desired behaviour instead.  Consistency is the key.

8. Cats Can Clean Their Teeth with Meat
Giving your cat a strip of raw meat everyday to chew on will help keep his gums and teeth in good condition. Suitable meats include poultry, rabbit, or beef that has been deboned.  This is how cats in the wild maintain healthy teeth and gums.

9.  Kittens learn litter habits from Mom
Kittens as early as 3-4 weeks of age develop litter substrate preferences depending on what is available in their environment, and also by watching to see what  their mother prefers to use.

10. Cats Purring Remains a Mystery
Scientist do not know exactly how the purring sound is made, although some believe that it originates in the cardiovascular system rather than the throat.

The idea for this list, and some of the information I did take from the Reader's website -but I modified several of the items, and made some of the facts a little bit more accurate.  Enjoy!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Friday, October 7, 2011

Why Squeak LOVES her carrier...

The truth is that my cat Squeak does not HATE the carrier.  I do not struggle with her and she is not afraid of the carrier.   Here is how I accomplish this magic with my own cats.

I plan ahead.  I start the day before by preparing the carrier with a favorite fleece blanket that smells like her and her favorite cat toys.  I leave the carrier in the garage so she can neither see it or hear it or smell it.  I cover it with a towel in preparation for the next day.

After Squeak and I have gone  to bed, my husband takes over.  His job is to noiselessly transer the covered carrier from the garage to the bathroom.

My AM plan of attack:  Every AM Squeak and I have a routine.  While I get ready for work, she eats her breakfast,  and gets personal "mom" time in the bathroom with me.  The bathroom door is usually shut, and she is used to this. 
SO (and this is really important) I do not change my routine at all.  The only difference is that the towel covered carrier has magically appeared in the bathroom overnight -but up on the counter where she does not usually look or go.  The door closes.  Breakfast is served and eaten.  Mom attention is given.  The carrier is  then quietly lowered to the floor against the wall( so it does not move/scare the cat).  I sit on the floor, speak encouraging words as  I gently pick her up and persuade her inside and shut the door.

Yes, Squeak is 15 years old, so she knows the routine.  But I have never trained her to HATE the carrier.  I have never chased her around the house or pulled her from under the bed .  I have never put her into her carrier when she is scared.  In her mind the carrier does not equal fear.

So, the bottom line to accomplish this magic yourself is to plan ahead, work with the cats daily routine, confine them to a small room (with no hiding places) before putting them into the carrier, move quietly, speak encouraging words so they have no reason to be afraid .  Top-loading carriers are great.  Zippered bag carriers are even better.  Remember, we can all out-smart our cats, and train them at the same time - if we just plan ahead.
The cat needs a big hug after this!!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Monday, October 3, 2011

Muffin Can't Breathe!

Muffin lives indoors.  She is a normal very frisky young girl cat , but since the hot, humid, muggy weather of August, she has been less active and very wheezy.  She now stops playing to cough.  She arches her neck out to catch her breath.  She literally can't breathe!   Muffin's owners were preparing their home for sale:  painting walls, cleaning floors and cabinets, deoderizing carpets.  They had even put scented deoderizing crystals into each room to make things smell nice.  Remember that a cats sense of smell is 14 times that of a humans.  What may smell nice to us may be offensive or irritating to our cats!   Remember too that our home is only part of our overall environment, but for our indoor cats, it is their ONLY environment.

Air quality affects the respiratory tract.  Aerosol sprays should not be used unless the cat is put out of the room (including hairspray, deoderant, perfume) .  Be aware of the cleaning products, paint fumes, scented cat litter, potpourris, plug-ins, carpet fresheners, spray cleaners, fabreeze-type sprays.  Particulate matter (dust) comes from furnaces with dirty air filters, pollens and molds, wood stoves, dust-laden forced air vents, cigarette smoke. 

Any and all of these items can cause your cat (and you) to cough, wheeze, have a runny sore nose, or irritated eyes.  If you use  these products often , your cat could even  develop asthma symptoms: chronic coughing spells and shortness of breath, decreased energy, decreased appetite .   If your cat is coughing, please contact your veterinarian. 

This story has a happy ending!  After removing all the scented products, cleaning smells and deoderizing crystals from the house, and airing it out well, Muffin is now back to her young frisky cat behavior.  Now we can all take a deep breath....and hug the cat :) !
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic