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I had a cat named Frisky who was 6 years old and who started deteriorating rapidly when I had a friend watch her at her apartment while I was out of town.  She wouldn’t eat, hid everywhere possible, barely drank water, and wouldn’t have much interaction with my friend at all.  When I returned, she had lost a lot of weight and was still in freak mode.  I took her to the vet, we did some tests, and it turned out she had liver disease which was more than likely caused by not eating. She was referred to a special hospital for severely ill animals.  She was there for 2 weeks – and it was terribly expensive.  Did I have the money?  No – it was put on a credit card. And then there were still follow-up visits, special food, and medication – of which I begged my fiance for the money.

Twenty-four hours after not eating, the liver starts to break down and the cat feels the effects of it.  Not feeling well, the cat continues to not eat and the liver goes into shock and breaks down further.  Frisky was deathly ill and the only hope we had, which was slim to none, was to intubate her with a feeding tube and provide antibiotics, and feed her through the port in her stomach.  She had to be fed every 4 hours and watched constantly.  I tried doing this while working and running home during my lunch hour to baby her, love and feed her.  Then rush back to work, not being able to concentrate because of my concern for her.  Time to leave work, rush home and repeat the process again.  Set my alarm for every four hours, all through the night, and continue the process.

She eventually started responding to treatment and got much better – but from that point on, I would have to constantly watch her and make sure she was eating because she could relapse at any time.  I feared for her life, and my fiance kept claiming he was allergic to cats.  Frisky had become very fond of the certain veterinary hospital employee who wanted to be a veterinarian and had enrolled in school down in College Station, TX.  So with a very heavy heart and total resentment toward my fiance, I asked the hospital worker if she would be willing to take Frisky as her own.  My thoughts and hope were that if she started declining again, the veterinarian-to-be would be able to take better care of her with little to no cost.  She accepted, and I took Frisky to her with all of her belongings.  I cried and wailed as she left, because she was so precious to me and I couldn’t stand giving her away — and my resentment towards my fiance grew deeper.

While Frisky recovered completely and turned out to be very happy in her new home, I have had a huge hole in my heart that can never be replaced.  If I would have had pet insurance, I would have been able to afford the high risk medical treatment she was receiving, and would have been able to keep her – my fiance’s allergies be damned.  And hopefully, at age 23, she would still be here with me today and I wouldn’t hold the resentment toward my fiance.

Needless to say, I am now a big believer in pet insurance.  I didn’t know there was such a thing when I had Frisky. I have seen firsthand how it can help owners handle the medical expenses if their cat needs treatment. Some pets (actually a lot of them) are put to sleep when their owners cannot afford to treat what’s wrong. Pet insurance could change that. Take a minute to get a no-obligation quote from Embrace Pet Insurance and see if it is right for you.  Whether you use Embrace Pet Insurance or another company such as Petplan, please get your pet insured.  Don’t go through the heartbreak that I did.

**A cat window seat is wonderful for your cat.  It gives them hours of enjoyment looking out the window and being up high.

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13 Sep

Illness – Part 1

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

Sometimes illness strikes without any warning signs, but quite often there ARE signs along the way that something is wrong. If your cat has a health problem and you know what to look for, you will be able to recognize the symptoms and get help must faster. This is really important because the sooner you begin treatment, the better the chances of recovery.

There are certain symptoms that you should always be on the lookout for – and they should never be ignored. If you were to call your local emergency clinic and report these symptoms, they would most likely tell you that it was an emergency situation and recommend that you bring your cat in as soon as possible.

Remember that a symptom is a sign of a disease, not a disease in itself. Oftentimes the same symptom can be a sign of multiple illnesses. Take breathing difficulty for example. Trouble breathing is a very significant symptom and can be a sign of heart failure, lung diseases such as pneumonia, bleeding into the chest cavity, trauma, and more. Listed below are some of these “symptoms you can’t ignore”.

1. Not eating or loss of appetite – Anorexia is a term used to describe a lack of eating due to disappearing appetite or inability to eat. Many things can cause a cat to lose his appetite, and often it is the first indication that your cat has a serious illness. Regardless of cause, loss of appetite that lasts 24 hours or more can have a serious impact on an animal’s health.

2. Trouble urinating – This term can include straining to urinate, frequent attempts at urination, spending more time in the litter box, urinating outside of the litter box, and evidence of discomfort when urinating. Discomfort may be demonstrated by crying out during urination, excessive licking at the urogenital region, or focused attention in that area. Underlying causes include urinary obstruction, which can be life-threatening. Some causes, if left untreated, can result in death in as little as 36 hours.

**A cat scratching post is useful because your cat naturally will attempt to sharpen and remove dead sheaths from their claws every chance they get.  If you do not have a good, functional scratching post, your furniture and carpet will suffer.  The cat scratching post should be about 36″ tall.  This is because cats like to stretch when they are working their claws.  Anything smaller will just be a waste of money.  The post should be made of wood and wrapped in sisal rope.  Sisal rope is extremely strong, has a scent the cats like, and withstands the test of time.

 

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Changing jobs can be stressful for you as a person – especially if you are changing shifts.  Any change in your cats schedule can affect them and cause stress. When your schedule changes, your cats schedule changes as well. It is important to try to keep their routine as consistent as possible. Make sure you feed them in the same spots; same food, same amounts and you keep the litter boxes clean. Find time to play and interact with them. You may need to change the times you feed them depending on your work schedule. If you can, spend extra time with them and give them some extra playtime.

**A cat pod is another name for a cat condo.  A cat condo provides a closed in area for your pet to sleep in, and an area on top for your cat to perch.
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11 Sep

Zoonoses

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

Zoonoses is the scientific name given to diseases that can be passed from animals to humans.  A few potential owners may be put off having a cat or enjoying a close physical relationship with it becauwe of worries about disease.  In fact, there is very little to worry about.  Rabies is a potential horror, but one we do not hav to consider in this country.  Worms can be caught from cat feces, but the problem can easily be dealt with by worming the cat regularly.  Ringworm is not actually a worm, but a fungal skin condition which can be caught from many animals,not just cats, and can be treated successfully.  It is not comon among pet cats but many be present in colonies of feral or farm cats.

Toxoplasmosis is a less visible problem.  It is caused by a tiny organism which can be excreted in the cat’s feces.  Affected cats show little or no sign of infection and most people who become infected suffer flu-like symptoms at worst.  In fact, the organism is more likely to be contracted by eating uncooked or partially cooked meat than from contact with cats.  Pregnant women should be especially careful to wash their hands after touching cats, and get someone else to clean the litter box, as the disease is a risk to the unborn baby.  There is really negligible risk of catching diseases from our cats if we keep them wormed and undertake the usual hygiene precautions.  The health benefits of pet-keeping are well known, and the small risk of catching a disease far outweighs the years of fun and companionship a cat will undoubtedly bring.

**A cat perch provides hours of use and play for your cat.  It gives him height, which he craves, in order to look down around its surroundings.

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10 Sep

Yelling – Part 3

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

A cat’s behavior pattern varies according to the seasons, the weather, weekends or family activity.  As the pet gets older, it will tend to sleep more at those times when it would have been out hunting and generally coordinate its time in the home with the presence of the owners.  Even if it doesn’t interact socially with them as much as it used to, the important thing is that they are there, providing security and available for social contact if the older cat feels the need for some affection.  The older the animal becomes, the more likely it is that it will look to its owners when disturbed or startled, or if it simply wakes up and finds itself alone, which after all, is most likely to occur at night.

So, if your old cat suddenly becomes a nocturnal yeller and disturbs your sleep, it may be time to let it sleep in the bedroom and derive comfort from your immediate presence if it happens to wake in the night.  But if you don’t want to do this, try to ignore the cries for a while.  If you get up, remember that you are simply rewarding the cat’s lack of confidence and ensuring that it can rely on you even when there is no real need.  The longer the cries fail to pay off, the longer the cat will perhaps stay confident and independent and you will get a decent night’s sleep again.

**Cat litter box furniture is very stylish and versatile, many holding all of your pet’s supplies including the litterbox.  The litter box furniture can be placed anywhere in your home.

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9 Sep

Yelling – Part 2

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

The second major event is that the clever cat has now trained its owners to respond to its demands.  It has realized that with one pitiful cry, its owners will leap to its side at any time of the day, but especially at night, to supply heaps of reassuring comfort.  So, facing up to making a major decision, such as ‘shall I lie next to the radiator or in m favorite sun spot?, it will utter the same cry.  Now the clever cat is assured that its owners will coke and help it make up its mind by finding the most comfortable bed or offering the better option of a good cuddle and then being put where it will be most content.

Age brings its own rewards for the cat, especially once it has learned how to use its voice to full effect, when it can no longer physically attract its owners’ attention by either jumping on them or rubbing around their legs.  As for the nighttime problem, some owners place the cat basket next to the bed and deal with waking without having to get out from the warm covers.  Others get a heated pad for the cat to sleep on; and others, realizing there is nothing physically wrong with the cat, have closed their ears, put their heads under the pillows and tried to hold out so that the cat does not learn to do this every night by being rewarded by their presence – but they will tell you however, just how persistent cats can be!

**A cat litter box cover is very stylish and functional, and keeps the litter contained within the cover for easy cleanup.

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4 Sep

Yelling – Part 1

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

The most common behavior problem in older cats is that of the nocturnal yeller.  Many owners will report that their cat started to call out to them for attention and affection since it became an older member of the feline community – and many such calls occur at night.  Owners find themselves woken in the night by cries from their pet.  On the first occasion, they leap out of bed to see what has upset their much-loved cat – a sudden illness or affliction of age.  When they find that cat, however, it is often just outside the bedroom door or pacing around downstairs, but looking the same picture of elderly health as it did at bedtime.

Usually owners find that the cat is not in any physical distress at all, and does not even seem to want anything in particular, such as to be fed or let out.  Once they have stroked it and asked it what the matter is in a concerned voice, it settles down quietly and goes back to sleep.  All it wanted was a little physical reassurance and protection in the lonely silence of the night and to be ‘tucked in’ again.

However, for the cat, two major events have occurred.  First, the aging animal has conceded to itself that after years of being independent and perhaps rather aloof, the time has come when it values their owners’ presence.  Through feeling lonely or a little insecure, the older cat has now accepted that some of that warm human contact could make everything right.  If it can get its owners to be present, the cat can leave all vital decision making to them for a while.

**A cat jungle gym is another name for an elaborate cat tree.

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28 Aug

Fear of Strange People – Part 3

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

The final stage of treatment is to dispense with the cage and restrain the cat on a harness or collar and lead when guests arrive.  Ask the guest to offer food as before, then hold the cat firmly but gently and take him towards a single known and accepted visitor.  This should be done slowly so that the cat doesn’t panic.  The advance should be slowed down further or halted if the cat starts to look alarmed or struggles.  Once beside him, guests can start to gradually stroke him.  During all contact, guests’ hands should initially either approach unseen from the side of the cat or very slowly from directly in front of the cat so that they can be seen and accepted.  Since the cat may regard the advancing hand as very much like a threatening paw, it should be offered very gently.  The process is complete when you yourself have stopped petting him and he is being stroked only by the guest.  It may even be a good idea for the visitor to approach the cat at cat level rather than intimidating him unnecessarily by bending over him.

A cat hideout is basically a cat condo.  The condo has a closed in space for the cat to sleep, and usually has a perch or area on top of the closed in space for the cat to lounge a little higher.

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27 Aug

Fear of Strange People – Part 2

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

The next stage of treatment is a little more invasive.  Now guests are asked to sit progressively closer to the cat’s cage to habituate him further to their presence.  This stage can only proceed as fast as the cat can tolerate and guests should certainly not attempt to touch him or even talk to him until he seems confident about their presence.  Then the issue can be forced a little.  Though it sounds a little unfair, the cat should be starved for up to twelve hours so that he is hungry when pressed into sharing space with his next visitor.  The visitor, sitting close by his cage rather than bending down over it which would alarm him, gently proffers a small tidbit or tasty portion of a favorite food through the bars of the cage.   Food cements relations far quicker than gentle voices, though the visitor and owner should encourage proceedings by talking gently to the cat while offering food.  After that, the cat should be fed frequent short meals for the length of the visitor’s stay (or patience) and as many guests as possible, as well as the family, should take part in the process.   This steadily brings an increase in the cat’s confidence and helps him view all guests as potential providers of food and later, affection.

**Cat furniture can be a cat tree, cat condo, or bench.

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26 Aug

Fear of Strange People – Part 1

Author: Tammy Wolfe 0 comments

Xenophobia is the fear of strange people.  Some cats which are otherwise untroubled by changes within the house are thrown into turmoil by the arrival of visitors.  The problem could have been caused by a lack of interaction with visitors in their kitten days, or it could also be brought about by a single unfortunate experience with a particularly noisy, frightening or unkind guest who unwittingly taught the cat to aviod all risk of repetition in the future by running away early.  Wolfman is afraid of visitors, and won’t come down until they are gone – unless the visitors are grandchildren.

The first aim of treatment is to block the cat’s attempts to escape or avoid exposure to the challenge.  This is required if you hope to get the cat to be around anyone other than yourselves.  The cat is denied the opportunity to avoid visitors either by being restrained on a leash, if he is comfortable wearing a collar or harness, or by being kept in a traveling cat carrier for short periods when he is to receive guests.  The basket should be placed in the area where guests are invited to relax – usually the living room – before they arrive.  The cat should first receive ‘guests’ that he knows, such as members of the family.  They ring the doorbell instead of using the key.  The cat’s first reaction is the usual one of alarm and an attempt to escape, but this is prevented by the carrier.  Then the ‘guest’ enters and the cat, seeing that it is a member of the family, quickly calms down.  Repetition should help the cat to begin to associate the doorbell with non-threatening arrivals.

**Get a cat flap pet door so your cat can go outside when he or she wants.  You could also install one in the bathroom door to the litter box to keep the door shut.

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