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Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Is Your Cat TOO Fat?

Tips to Help You Know!‏

They phrase "fat cat" has been around for as long as there have been cats. Generally it means wealthy and living the high life. However if your cat is fat, that wealthy life may be shortened. Being a fat cat is not a good thing!Diet and nutritional status are crucial to your cat's general health. Unfortunately, many pets are overweight - much like their owners. And - like their owners - pets are not as healthy when they are carrying too much weight. Chubby kitties often suffer from arthritis, heart disease and liver problems. If you are concerned that your pet is overweight we have listed some ways that you can evaluate your pet's body condition.* Body fat. Stand behind your cat and place your thumbs on the spine midway down the back. Fan out your fingers and spread them over the ribs. With your thumbs lightly pressing on the spine and fingers on the ribs, slide your hands gently up and down.For normal cats, you should feel a thin layer of fat. You should feel the ribs, although you won't readily see them. If your cat is overweight, you will not be able to feel the ribs, and the tissue over the ribs may feel smooth and wavy.* Appearance. Normal cats have an hourglass appearance. Fat cats have an abdomen protruding from the sides and a noticeable paunch. There may be enlarged fatty areas on either side of the tail base and over the hips. There may also be a fatty area on the neck and front of the chest. When obese cats walk, they usually have a classic waddle.If you feel that your cat is overweight, contact your veterinarian. Tests may need to be performed to eliminate underlying disease as a cause of the obesity. In addition, your veterinarian can help you improve your cat's body condition and overall health.Until next time...

Source: Pet Place

Monday, October 8, 2007


The most common signs of arthritis and joint disease in cats include stiffness, limping, or favoring a limb --particularly after sleep or resting, reluctance to jump or even climb stairs, and noticeable pain.
As in dogs, there are many causes of arthritis and joint disease in cats. These include trauma, infections, immune system disorders and developmental disorders such as hip dysplasia (yes, cats can get hip dysplasia).
In the following article we will discuss some of these causes or conditions which are more common or unique to cats. Before you read on, you may want to check out the articles Joint Anatomy and Veterinary Procedures Used to Diagnose Joint Disease for some background information. Information on how to manage cats with arthritis and other joint problems, including the use of Glucosamine and Chondroitin is discussed in Treatment of Osteoarthritis in Cats.
Progressive polyarthritis
Feline progressive polyarthritis, as the name suggests, affects multiple joints in a cat and worsens over time. There are generally two types of this disease.
In the first type of progressive polyarthritis, the cartilage is eroded from the ends of the bones making up the joint and bony spurs and bone thickening occur in bone adjacent to the joint. These kinds of changes are similar to those seen in hip dysplasia and other degenerative joint disease. The most commonly affected joints are those of the feet, the carpus (wrist) and hock.
In the second type of progressive polyarthritis, the erosion of the cartilage is severe such that the bone under the cartilage is exposed which causes severe pain. This is similar to rheumatoid arthritis in dogs and people.
Regardless of type, progressive polyarthritis in cats generally affects young and middle-aged male cats (neutering appears to make no difference). The cats show a reluctance to walk, the joints are swollen, the range of motion is reduced, and in some cases the cats experience recurring episodes of fever, loss of appetite and swollen lymph nodes.
Even with strong combinations of pain relievers, anti-inflammatories such as prednisone, and more potent medications, there is no cure for either type of progressive polyarthritis.
Arthritis caused by calicivirus infection
Calicivirus is a virus that is most well-known for the respiratory disease (usually runny eyes and nose) it causes. Calicivirus is often included in the distemper-rhinotracheitis-chlamydia vaccine which is given to kittens and cats.
In addition to respiratory disease, calicivirus can cause inflammation in the joints which results in lameness. This condition has been associated with both the field strain (the strain which generally causes disease) and, rarely, the vaccine strain. Respiratory symptoms may or may not be present along with the lameness. The cats with calicivirus-associated lameness often develop a fever and may be reluctant to eat.
It is generally a self-limiting disease, which means it usually resolves on its own. Supportive therapy such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication is sometimes given. The vast majority of cats fully recover.
Diabetes mellitus
Rarely, cats with diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) develop an unusual gait in which the hocks touch the ground when the cat walks. This is thought to be related to a disorder of the nerves, but can be mistaken for a joint problem.
Bacterial arthritis
In cats, joints most often become infected as a result of bite wounds. The joint becomes swollen, painful, warm to the touch, and the cat will often not want to bear any weight on the affected leg. The cat often has a fever and will not eat. At times the infection can spread from the joint to the bone (bone infection is termed "osteomyelitis").
Treatment involves draining the infected joint fluid from the joint, flushing the joint, and placing the cat on antibiotics. Because bacterial infections of the joint can rapidly produce permanent injury to the joint, infectious arthritis must be treated as soon as it is detected.
Other joint diseases
Several other joint conditions which are more common in dogs do occur rarely in cats. These include degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis), ruptured anterior cruciate ligament , luxating patella, hip dysplasia, (intervertebral) disc disease, and hyperparathyroidism.Article courtesy of Drs. Foster & Smith's

Source. PetEducation.com

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cats As Individuals

Written by Anne Moss

In an interview to a local newspaper, I was once asked what was the one thing I would define cat behavior by. My reply was "individuality". Each cat has his or her own particular characteristics and peculiarities.
As a cat behaviorist, the issue of cat individuality was always prominent in my mind. Whatever the "rules" for cats are, there will always be the odd cat that will break the rules and display a different behavior pattern. That said, when discussing
feline individuality, it is also crucial to avoid thinking of cats as "little humans". They are certainly not that. They are cats, with their own unique abilities and limitations. The individuality comes across in a multitude of characteristics that are all cat.
Taking into account the amazing diversity of behavioural patterns in cats, researching and classifying them into various types is a monumental task. Scientists are trying to do just that, by observing feline behavior and looking into parameters such as activity levels, playfulness, hostility towards people, aggressive behavior in general, levels of vocalization and sociability. Researchers use observations done in behavioral laboratories and feral cat colonies. Some researchers even turn to
cat owners, collecting data using questionnaires and interviews.
One question that researchers have been wondering about is to what extent
personality types are genetically inherited. In fact, with separate lines of purebred cats, and well documented ones at that, researching separate genetic groups is relatively easy. So far, findings do support the notion that purebred cats tend to display certain behavioral traits more than others. Persian cats have been shown to be more docile, while Siamese are more active. While individuality still rules, and you can certainly find active Persian cats and sleepy Siamese, researchers do believe that genetics plays a strong roll in the shaping of the individual cat's personality.
So, how does this discussion help us as cat owners? Hopefully, the understanding that our cat truly is a unique individual in its own right. It should also help us accept our cat as it is and not try to fight its innate behavioral tendencies.
We tend to expect things from our cats, hoping that they will conform to some kind of cat image that we have in our minds. But it doesn't always happen this way. You may have been dreaming of an active, playful feline rascal, but your cat may turn out to be a
couch potato; or, perhaps, you were hoping for a very friendly kitty, the kind that is always rubbing against your legs, but instead your cat is aloof and solitary by nature.
You need to accept your cat for what she or he is. Trying to fix behavior problems is one thing. Trying to make a cat change its nature to suit our own expectations, is a totally different thing that will stress your cat and could, in itself, lead to behavioral problems.

Source: The Cat Site

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Friday, October 5, 2007

Do you have a healthy cat?

Are you sure? What do you look for to be certain that your cat is as healthy as he can be? A healthy cat can be described as having bright shiny eyes, a healthy shiny hair coat, good appetite, is able to maintain an ideal body weight, is playful and generally seems "happy".However, cats can acquire a variety of diseases and conditions and the symptoms may not be extremely obvious. Cats are very good at hiding their illness just by their nature of survival. They want to appear healthy so they are less vulnerable to predators. So take a look at our list of signs to look out for in your cat. This way you can be certain that your cat is healthy!Common signs of illness include:* Lack of appetite* Less active* Weakness* Lethargy* Weight loss* Increased water consumption* Not grooming* Bad breath* Inappropriate elimination* Sleeping more* Less involved in social interaction with you or your other cats* Drooling* Vomiting* Difficulty breathing* Diarrhea* Coughing* Bloody urineA healthy cat has a good appetite and normal urinations and normal soft form bowel movements. When you run your hand across her or his body, you should feel muscles and healthy skin - not boney protuberances.Is your cat healthy? If you are not sure or you cat has some of the above symptoms, play it safe and have him or her checked out by your veterinarian.

Source: The Pet Place

Thursday, October 4, 2007

10 Signs that Your Cat is Sick‏

Your cat cannot explain his symptoms, so it's the responsibility of you and your veterinarian to keep him healthy. Cats are very good at hiding their illness so it is up to you to observe your cat for abnormalities. If you know your cat very well and also understand what to look for, recognizing illness early might save her life.Nobody wants to run to the vet over every little thing, but if you have some idea what symptoms might mean trouble, you'll know when to take your cat in just to be sure.Common indications of a "sick pet" include: lethargy, disorientation, weakness, weight loss, seizure, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, unproductive retching, straining to urinate, bloody urine, difficulty or inability to walk, bleeding, pale mucous membranes, difficulty breathing and persistent cough. You know your pet best and can often notice subtle early warning signs that someone else may not detect. If you observe any of the mentioned symptoms or other signs that concern you, call your veterinary hospital. The safest approach would be to have your pet examined.Once your pet is at the hospital, your veterinarian may ask additional questions to help localize or diagnose the problem.

Source: Pet Place

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Breaking up Cat Fights

Written by Mary Anne Miller

In a mulit-cat household, skirmishes tend to erupt. One cat establishes himself as the Alpha cat. The Alpha cat is the cat that automatically seeks the highest spot in the house, demands to be fed first and will at times spray his mark (urine) on the home.
As the other cats grow and mature, their own alpha tendencies come into play. Gradually they challenge the alpha attempting to take over. The Alpha cat will engage any other cat that challenges even kittens. Kittens learn early from mom cat and littermates how to wrestle and roll together, rabbit -kicking each other as instinct kicks into gear and the survival mode engages.
You should never step in between two cats that are fighting. They are not focused on you. Their stress pheromones are at maximum level. You stand a good chance of getting scratched or bit. Even after the cats separate, you should leave them alone for a few hours. Never pick up a cat that has been fighting!
Use a broom to guide one cat into a room, and shut the door. Go in later; ignoring the cat leaving food, water and litter pan. Then leave, because your cat is still in the moment of the battle fully aroused and angry. You will know it is safe to approach your cat once he begins to start grooming or eating.
Here are some tips to stop cat fights:
Spay and neuter! Spaying and neutering goes a long way to stopping aggression.
Keep claws trimmed.
Don’t have to many cats. Cats need their individual space. If you have multiple cats, be sure you have places where these cats can get away from the others.
Startle them out of their behavior by taking a heavy
blanket and tossing it over them.
Use a wooden kitchen chair and gently set it between the two cats without hurting the cats. This takes patience and a gentle touch. But it will startle the two cats and they will back away. Use a broom to guide one cat into another room for a break. Remember to close the door, isolating the cat temporarily.
Turn on the
vacuum cleaner.
Spray bottles do not work to stop fighting cats. The cats are so engrossed in their battle, that a tiny stream of water will not even bother them.
Yelling and screaming to break up a cat fight is not recommended. Cats react to our stress level. If you are upset and anxious, making a lot of noise, look for the cat fight to accelerate not diminish. Staying calm tends to work the best.
That can of compressed air by your computer? Spray it near the fighting cats, but NOT at them.
Most battles between cats are mock battles. You can tell the mock battles from the real conflicts by learning about the body language of cats. Your key points to watch are the tail, the ears and the eyes and where the body is in relation to the ground. Understanding the true body language of cats goes a long way toward knowing when cats are playing and when they are fighting

Source: The Cat Site

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

How to Discourage Your Cat

from Jumping on Counters

Written by Anne Moss

If you have been reading a bit about
feline behavior, then you should know by now that cats and discipline don't mix; in other words, you should never punish your cat. Cats are not dogs and you simply can't take your cat to obedience class… That said, sometimes you need to lay down some rules in the house and get an educational point across to your cat. While I still hold that punishment, in the human ethical and moral sense of the word, does not work with cats, I wish to show you how to employ behavioral techniques based on negative reinforcement to teach your cat to stay away from certain places. This article will teach you how to discourage your cat from jumping on kitchen counters and any other high surfaces.
Before you even begin teaching your cat to stay away from certain places, let's look at the causes for this type of behavior. Cats require a sufficient amount of
living space, including enough vertical space. Before restricting your cat from accessing some areas, make sure that your kitty has plenty of roaming and climbing space within your home. Invest in cat trees, cat gyms and designated cat shelves. This stage is crucial! Not allowing your cat almost any climbing space will result in a stressed and frustrated kitty and even more behavioral issues down the road.
Once you've made sure that your cat has enough space (vertical space included), it's time to learn how to teach your cat right from wrong and "explain" to her which surfaces are off-limits. Since we are trying to prevent a certain type of behavior, rather than encourage one, we'll have to use Negative Reinforcement. We are trying to create a certain connection in the cat's mind, associating the type of behavior which we're trying to prevent with a negative outcome. Before I review the various methods for achieving this, there are three principles to keep in mind whenever attempting any kind of negative reinforcement with your cat –
Keep the human out of the loop - We want to make sure that the cat associates the negative result directly with the action we want to prevent – never with you, the
cat owner.
Keep the reinforcement consistent – This is true of any behavioral learning process and is crucial when it comes to negative reinforcement. It means the cat has to receive a negative reaction every single time it attempts the behavior which we wish to discourage.
Keep stress levels down – Remember that cats are individuals and may have different reactions to sudden sounds, or any other type of sensory stimulation you may opt to use. You aim at making the unwanted behavior result in something unpleasant, but make sure it's not too frightening and doesn't cause your cat unnecessary stress.
So, now that we know our principles, let's review the commonly used negative reinforcement techniques and see which ones are best suitable for you and your cat.
The Water Squirter/Can Shaking
This is probably one of the best-known techniques of negative reinforcement. The idea here is for the cat owner to always be on guard, ready with a squirt bottle, an empty soda can with some coins in it, or even a compressed air can. As soon as the cat performs the forbidden act, you're supposed to apply the instrument of choice and either spray the cat with some water (never directly on its face), or simply "blow the horn" and create some loud sudden noise, hopefully without kitty seeing it was you who operated the nasty thing.
While this method can be very effective with some cats, I usually don't recommend using it, for several reasons. First, it could possibly associate you, the cat owner, with the punishment. Ideally, anyone using this method should try to attract as little attention to herself or himself as possible, and make the squirt bottle or "noise can" as disassociated from themselves as possible. In reality, this is extremely difficult to achieve, as most owners project their own nervousness and agitation into the process. Secondly, in terms of consistency, this method is far from perfect. It's difficult to be on the alert at all times, or even to be around at all times, and you end up with having a non-consistent pattern. Thirdly, and not less important, the water spray and loud noises can be too stressful for some cats.

Source: TheCat Site

Monday, October 1, 2007