Cat Project Archives for April 4-8,
4, 2015 - "A cat is a puzzle for which there is no
solution." - Hazel Nicholson
Gratuitous Kute Kittiness: "I heart my Totoro."
Mewvie: The drum-off.
Street Art: "Sick Kitten" by Marion Peck
by Dr. Michael Watts
Q: Is my cat at risk for heartworm infection?
A: Most cat owners remain unaware that this potentially fatal parasite
can be a danger to their beloved pets. While the incidence is lower than
for canine heartworm disease, feline infections often go undiagnosed.
A heartworm infection in a cat is sometimes only a single worm. Typical
heartworm tests only detect female worms. That means, at best, 50 percent
of single worm infections would never show up on traditional antigen
tests. In reality, we have an even lower detection rate, since a single
worm frequently doesn’t shed enough protein to be picked up. In
other words, it takes an infection of several female worms to test positive — and
that’s unusual in a cat.
Veterinarians also rely on testing for antibodies cats make when they
are exposed to heartworms. Many cats will test positive, demonstrating
heartworm larvae were injected into the cat by a mosquito bite. However,
some of these “positive” cats will never get sick because
their immune system kills the worm or the parasite ends up in an anatomic
location that does not cause harm.
We do know that cats infected with feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency
virus have a higher risk of infection. One study surveyed cats along
the Gulf Coast and found 10 percent having live worms and 26 percent
showing signs of heartworm infection at some point in their lives. This
study indicates heartworms in cats is probably more prevalent than most
cat owners (and veterinarians) assume.
Another study looking at the relative risk of indoor cats and outdoor
cats found that indoor cats were actually more likely to contract heartworm
disease. Fully 25 percent of heartworm infections occur in exclusively
indoor cats! That finding is certainly counterintuitive. An indoor only
animal should have less exposure to mosquitoes, so there must be something
else at play. It has been proposed that there may be some “inoculation” benefit
to regular exposure to heartworms in cats that get more mosquito bites.
Perhaps the outdoor cats build up a natural immunity while an indoor
cat remains immune-naïve until bitten by an infected mosquito. More
research is needed before detailed conclusions can be drawn.
However, both these studies suggest that cat owners are significantly
under utilizing heartworm prevention products. In fact, the American
Heartworm Society reports that only around 5 percent of cat owners administer
Symptoms of heartworm in cats can vary from asthma-like signs to sudden
death. The most common form is a syndrome called heartworm associated
respiratory disease, or H.A.R.D. In the past, many cats were misdiagnosed
with asthma or chronic bronchitis. Veterinarians often wondered why some
cats with asthma would suddenly do better after years of requiring treatment.
Now we know that many of these cases were really heartworm infections
in the lung. Cats with H.A.R.D. may experience shortness of breath, wheezing,
coughing, weight loss or collapse.
In addition to typical H.A.R.D. symptoms, degrading dead worms can incite
a severe inflammatory process and migrating worms can block blood flow
to the heart or brain. An infected cat can literally go from showing
no symptoms to being dead within an hour!
Unlike in dogs, there is no way to rid a cat of heartworms once they
are infected. At that point, the best we can do is manage symptoms and
hope for the best. In my opinion, that makes prevention even more important
than in dogs! We have a disease that is sufficiently common, potentially
fatal, difficult to detect, impossible to cure and easy to prevent. If
your cat is not on a heartworm prevention program, please ask your veterinarian
for a recommendation.
5, 2015 - "A cat pours his body on the floor like
water. It is restful just to see him."
- William Lyon Phelps
Gratuitous Kittiness: Furry foot-warmers.
Mewvie: Feline police unit.
Feline Art: "Toast
Cat" by Cindy Yuen.
6, 2015 - "A cat is a puzzle for which there is no
solution." - Hazel Nicholson
Gratuitous Kittiness: The lap of luxury.
Mewvie: Cat mind blown.
Art: Artist unknown.
rejected by 30,000 adopters.
by Solon Kelleher
So much has changed since 1995, but for one stray cat who arrived at
a shelter that year, not much has changed at all — for over two
She's now 24 years old, but Tilly was only 3 when she and her babies
were admitted into West Midlands Animal Welfare (WMAW), a rescue and
sanctuary for cats in England.Caters News Agency
Joyce Clark, owner of WMAW, recalls the story of how Tilly came to the
sanctuary. "When Tilly was found, she had given birth to kittens
in a coal bunker in somebody's garden. She had probably been abandoned," she
told Caters News Agency.
Over the years, cats have come and gone at WMAW, but Tilly has stayed.
"Tilly's personality could be a bit difficult, so I can see why she didn't
get re-homed, but she is so good with the other cats in the shelter and has looked
after a few of them herself," Clark continued.
She's even helped comfort blind and paralyzed cats who've come to the
sanctuary to live out the rest of their lives.
"At 24 years old now, she's definitely Britain's oldest rescue cat," Clarke
asserted. "I certainly have never heard of one that is older in all the
years that I have been running an animal sanctuary."
That age may also give her another title: the most rejected cat in Britain.
Over the years that we have had Tilly at the sanctuary, she has been
passed over by more than 30,000 different people looking for a cat — they
want a cat that will come over for a cuddle and she didn't fit the bill.
While she's never found a human who wants to take her home, she's not
going anywhere. WMAW has made a lifetime commitment to the cats who enter
the sanctuary. Even if somebody did want to adopt Tilly, at this point,
it would probably do more harm than good. Clark says that moving her
at this age "could even be bad for her health."
As old as Tilly may be, she may have more years in her to come. According
to Clark, "She can be a bit grumpy but she is in good health."
Although Tilly's not available for adoption, there are many other senior
cats who would love to be welcomed into your home. Visit Adopt-a-Pet.com
to find a pet in your area.
7, 2015 - "The cat is mighty dignified until the dog
comes by." - Unknown
Gratuitous Kittiness: "Here, let me fix that for ya."
Mewvie: Happy sphinx cat.
Feline Art: "Catortionist" by Don Pendleton.
8, 2015 - "In the middle of a world that had always
been a bit mad, the cat walks with confidence." -
Gratuitous Kittiness: "You gonna eat dat?"
Mewvie: At long last, another Simon's Cat.
Art: "Amanda" by Mark Ryden.
your cat keeps you awake at night.
by Rita Reimers
We don’t get enough sleep for many reasons: We work too much, stay
out too late, watch too much television, our cats keep us awake. … Wait,
what?! Cats can cause sleep deprivation? I get letters all the time from
people telling me they can’t sleep through the night because their
cats routinely wake them up. In fact, a recent client told me she gets
up at 4 a.m. every day to feed her cat and then goes back to bed. She
confided that she is very tired all the time.
Why cats are active at night
It’s a myth that cats are most active at night (nocturnal). Cats
are most active at dusk and dawn (crepuscular) when they are likely to
be hunting for food. If your cat is keeping you awake at night, here
are some common reasons why:
Boredom: Cats who sleep all day are ready for action when you get home
from work. But we’re usually so busy that we finally relax only
when it’s time to go to bed. That makes us “sitting targets” for
kitty. (This is also why cats often come to you for attention while you’re
in the bathroom.)
Hunger: Cats have a set rhythm and routine by which they live: wake,
hunt, eat, groom, sleep. If they get hungry in the middle of the night,
they will wake you up so they can “hunt” with you for food.
Batting at your toes or jumping on your head are your cat’s way
of telling you it’s time to forage for food.
Habit: My friend, Iris, is guilty of this one. Her cats have gotten her
into the habit of giving them attention in the middle of the night when
they wake her by nudging her and forcing her to pet them. They don’t
understand time of day; to them, it’s just their time to get mom’s
attention. They have trained Iris to give them what they want, at the
expense of her getting a good night’s sleep, and she reinforces
their behavior by giving in.
Illness: Many illnesses can keep a cat awake at night. These include
pain from arthritis or inflamed gums, and illnesses such as thyroid problems
that cause restlessness, hyperactivity, and increased hunger. If your
cat is in pain or discomfort, you’re likely to notice his reaction
to it when the rest of the house is quiet. If you suspect your cat is
in pain, it’s time for a vet visit.
Reproduction: Cats who are not spayed or neutered might exhibit increased
nocturnal activity. Queens who come into heat often yowl in the night
to let male cats know they are ready to mate. Unaltered males get restless
at night if there are females in estrus nearby. This also is why outdoor
unaltered male cats tend to roam.
Getting your cat to let you sleep
Okay, you’re guilty: You’ve made the mistake of giving in
to your cat’s nighttime shenanigans, and you believe you’ll
never get a good night’s sleep again. Well, it’s not too
late to fix this. With a few tweaks to your cat’s routine, you
(eventually) will be able to sleep through the night again.
Schedule kitty time: Schedule daily playtime with your cats. It will
be the best 10 to 15 minutes of your day, because you will bond with
your cats and help them use up their pent-up energy. Get out that feather
toy or that ball (my Sonny loves to play fetch) and wear them out to
the point where they lie down and stop wanting to play. Keep in mind
your cat’s natural cycle (wake, hunt, eat, groom, sleep). This
play activity mimics your cat’s hunting instincts, so doing this
just before mealtime is most effective.
Regulate mealtime: Hand in hand with scheduling playtime is regulating
meals by having a set time for breakfast and dinner. Cats love predictability
and routine, so if you get them used to the “play then eat” routine
and feed them just before bedtime, they will be more likely to sleep
through the night. I know a lot of people free feed; I do, too, but only
with dry food.
My cats get wet food at a set time of morning and evening, after “hunting” for
it. By timing, I don’t mean time by the clock. There was a time
my kitties would routinely wake me at 5 a.m. for food. So I taught them
that they don’t get food until we have our pre-breakfast play/hunt
session. It’s not so much the time of day as it is the actions
we do in the morning and evening that set their expectations.
Ignore the behavior: It can be difficult to do, but if your cats are
in the habit of waking you up, and even the “play then eat” routine
has not stopped it, then the other option is to simply ignore the behavior.
Don’t react at all, not even to scold them; cats also will accept
negative attention as payoff for their behavior. Breaking the pattern
by ignoring the unwanted behavior is the only way to get it to stop.
Once there is no reward from the behavior, it will stop. Provided, of
course, this is truly a behavioral issue.
Vet checkup: My 17-year-old Sweet Pea has hyperthyroidism as well as
stomatitis, a mouth condition that causes intense pain and discomfort.
Together, these conditions were causing her to pace and cry in the middle
of the night. Once our veterinarian got everything under control, Sweet
Pea’s nighttime restless antics stopped, and we now both sleep
peacefully through the night. Get your cats to the vet to rule out any
medical conditions that could be the cause of nighttime activity. Don’t
simply assume it is behavioral in origin.
Spay and neuter: One of the best things you can do is to spay and neuter
your cats. Not only does it help control the animal population, but it
also will curb the nighttime activities associated with unaltered cats.
Females will no longer experience the hormonal surges of being in heat,
and males will no longer wish to roam about and yowl looking for females
in estrous. Early spaying and neutering also heads off aggressive behaviors
and prevents various cancers associated with the reproductive systems
of both males and females.
Give these changes a good couple of weeks to take hold, and you will
find yourself purring like a kitten all night long.