Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be Aware of Changes in Your Elderly Cat

One of the most important things we can do as pet owners is to be continually vigilant. Our cat's behaviors may become as commonplace as the carpeting, but they shouldn't be. Our awareness needs to be consistent, every single day, especially with an older animal in the home.

Older cats can have troubles with hearing, eye sight, and balance among so many older things. Like their human counterparts, these changes reflect their advancing age. But sometimes these lifestyle changes come along quickly. This can cause behavioral changes that are subtle. If we're being aware as pet parents, we can catch the changes.

Take Maui, for instance. She's deaf. How do we compensate for her deafness? We gently pat her to wake her up for food and we flick the light switches so we don't startle her. We also tap our hands on the floor when we want her to come to us. The whole family makes an effort not to scare her but rather engage her in different ways since she can't hear us. Yes, we still talk to her constantly and she sometimes talks back. More than anything, Maui needs to be engaged in her silent world.

It wasn't difficult to figure out what worked the best. We just found ways to communicate with her. She still is very vocal although we've noticed that her volume control seems to be broken :) She meows very loudly now whereas she never did before. Of course, she's talking to us. What we've found is that she says "jump" and we don't even ask how high. We just do!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Great Websites for Pet Owners

It shouldn't come as a surprise that there are so many fabulous web sites for animal lovers. But sometimes the scope of what's available just stuns me. People are so innovative. I love creativity.

While writing an article on Thursday, I hunted through the Internet for pet social networking sites. It seems there's a number of heavily trafficked sites. What exactly are pet social networking sites? Think Facebook or MySpace for your critters. Truly extraordinary.

We shower our pets with love and attention so it shouldn't surprise anyone that pet lover's would broadcast this love on the internet. Two sites, www.Catster.com and www.Dogster.com have thousands on members. Dogster has 180,000 members. Wow! Both sites allow picture posting and let your pets have "friends" for socializing.

I came across another site last week that provides a wealth of information for cat owners. www.Catchannel.com is a comprehensive site that can answer questions, provide tips and hints for behaviorial problems, and even has a feature called "ClubCat" for users to set up their very own webpage for their cat. It requires membership.

I'll be posting other links for great sites as I find them. It definitely take a village to take care of our pets too. Sharing information helps to keep our beloved animals healthy and happy.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Pet Food Recall

It totally sucks to wake up Thanksgiving morning and find that the Mars Company has instituted a recall on two brands of foods for cats and dogs.

Special Kitty and Ol' Roy products are being pulled for suspected salmonella poisoning. Please check the following comprehensive link at PetSitUSA.com for more information:

http://petsitusa.com/blog/?p=1457

There's also been a recall of Orijen cat food in Australia. The recall is confined to that country. However, it's is truly horrifying what is happening to the cats in that country. Cats who've eaten the foods have shown severe neurological symptoms after consumption. Orijen is produced by Champion Pet Foods. More info is available here:

http://petsitusa.com/blog/?p=1459

What a way to start the day :(

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving for Cats

Behold the familiar sight of your cat circling around your legs or lurking under the kitchen table as you carve your turkey this Thanksgiving and heap the table with home-cooked goodies. Beware though...your cat might end up with a belly-ache or worse if you include heaping his plate full of food too.

Many of the foods we cook just aren't good for your cat. Slipping the cat a piece of chicken or turkey might seem fine, but beware of the seasonings used to cook the food. Onions and garlic aren't good for cats and can cause anemia. The old adage that a cat can handle chicken or turkey bones just isn't true. Any animal (or human) can choke on a bone.

Older cats might still have good enough sniffers to seek out that turkey. My old kitty actually pounced on the turkey one year when we were all having dessert. Left unguarded and uncovered, the turkey was fair game for Cleo. As far as she was concerned. We thought differently.

If you must give a special meal to your kitty at Thanksgiving, why not purchase a premium brand of cat food as a treat? Plenty of brands have turkey. Better yet, buy a can of Weruva. This is basically human food in a can. My older cat loves it as do my younger cats. At $1.69 per can, they'd better.

Too many people in your home might send your old kitty racing from her favorite spot to a quiet spot under the bed. Make sure she's left alone but has access to food, water and a litter box. And of course, keep any tormenting children away from your older cats (and all pets).

Check out this link for information on keeping your cat safe this Thanksgiving:

http://www.catchannel.com/news/2008/11/26/animal-groups-talk-turkey-for-cats.aspx

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hydrating your elderly cat

I'm a big advocate of water - for humans AND cats. Especially older cats. Having seen the damage done by food contaminants in my older cats and the incredible benefits of immediate fluids, it doesn't take a rocket scientists to put 2 and 2 together.

So I feed wet food, have plenty of water available, and encourage my cats to play in their water, generally making for a fun kitty time. Kidney health is so important in older animals.

Many older cats already have some reduced kidney function. For that reason, diet and water consumption should be a pet parent's focus. Tied to this issue is also bowel movements. Hydration plays a very important part in keeping your cat's entire intestinal system working properly.

For a comprehensive article and a case study on colon issues caused from possible dehydration from the SunHerald.com, visit this link:

http://www.sunherald.com/pets/story/964579.html

It shouldn't take much to convince anyone. But this does it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

8 Ways to Improve your Old Cat's Health Right Now

Want to have immediate impact on your elderly kitty's health immediately? Try the following:

1. Feed a high quality wet food. Forget the grocery store brands. Choose a brand that lists meats in the ingredients first. And limit the cat chow intake too.

2. Add a little water to the wet food with every feeding to make gravy. Some cats are notoriously finicky water drinkers. Boosting their water intake is always a bonus, especially for kidney function.

3. Pitch those plastic cat dishes. Plastic retains the smell of all the food you've put in the bowl. Get a glass dish or bowl and use that instead.

4. Spruce up that water bowl with a cat fountain. Cats fountains encourage kitties to drink and play in the water. Models start at $35.

5. Give kitty a good grooming with a wide comb and brush. Older cats aren't as flexible and sometimes, it's just too much to reach all those spots on the body. Your cat will love the attention as much as you love showering him or her with attention.

6. Clip those claws carefully.

7. Break out the toys for some playtime. Why not give your old kitty a little exercise with a laser light or even a string?

8. Have yourself a good snuggle session with your cat. As kitties age, the might be shy or less inclined to seek you out for attention. A few pats and strokes will remind you both of why you have each other.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Abandoned animals are victims of economy too

Abandoned cats and dogs are filling shelters as families struggle to pay mortgages and bills and simply don't have enough left over to care for the family pet. A sad state of affairs.

Here's an article of what's happening at a Boston shelter: http://www.boston.com/lifestyle/articles/2008/11/16/shelters_crammed_with_abandoned_cats/

The reasons might be eviction or foreclosure. The result is a heartbroken animal needing a new home. And a heartbroken family having to give their beloved animal to the shelter.

This shelter has waived the $75 adoption fee in the hopes of having some of the hundreds of cats adopted quickly. Such a sad situation that's being repeated across this country.

And I truly can't help wondering about the real commitment we make to our animals as soon as they enter our lives. It's not an obligation we can take lightly. What a painful double-edged sword for owners and pets.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month

How about that?

November is Adopt a Senior Pet Month. What better way to brighten your own home, lift your spirits, and the life of an animal than by choosing to adopt an already trained, older companion animal?

Did you know that cats are considered senior at 7 years old? And dogs at 5? Pretty amazing but then older animals dietary and physical activity needs change early so it's important for pet parents to be attentive to any little changes in their lives, including the addition of birthdays.

I adopted 2 cats this year as carefully chosen companions for Maui. She was so terribly lonely with the loss of her brother. She's deaf and howled herself and us right up the wall. After contacting a wonderful rescue organization called Friends of Montgomery County Animals, I found O'Malley, a gentle orange tabby who was recovering from being hit by a car. My handsome orange boy did the trick. He became her fast four-legged friend who checked on her, tried to get her drawn into rather undignified playtime, and generally gave her incentive to get out of bed in the morning. A few months later, we adopted Clyde (2 y.o. ragdoll) to help O'Malley shower attention on Maui and be a romping playmate for O'Malley.

Maui is in cat Heaven now. She's got Clyde who she can snuggle up to at the storm door as they gaze out at the world and he piles into her cat bed to keep her warm. He cleans her face, rubs on her, and pays attention to her (including stealing her food!) Another kitty to give Maui reason to get moving each day.

This adoption story has a purpose. These 2 cats aren't old but they didn't have homes. We took them in, retrained, and enjoy them immensely. We've remedied a situation with Maui that was truly heartwrenching. She's a happy girl again. Our animals are literally the center of this household. Hey, they can't open cat food cans for themselves, can they? Must be that opposible thumb thing :)

Here's a link for elderly cat and dog care products that looks really comprehensive: http://www.seniorpetproducts.com/ Pretty easy name - won't be easy to forget.

And here's a link to an article about November being Adopt A Senior Pet Month: http://www.nwsource.com/shopping/pet-stuff/blog/november-adopt-senior-pet-month?cmpid=2342

Cheers!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Heartwarming story of a older cat reunited with his family

Did you ever choose to microchip your pet? Here's when it pays off in spades.

George the cat went missing for 13 years. He was finally reunited with his owners when a caring individual took the lost cat to a vet and scanned for a microchip.

He's an older cat now but seems to readjusting to being home well.

Link: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ukpress/article/ALeqM5h0n43GfpPsj8nDMemArm_Wf8LqLQ

Send me your old cat pictures!!

In honor of the start up of this blog, I'd love to post pictures of your old kitties in action. Please include your animal's name, age, and make and model :) and crazy and interesting things that your cat does.

Picture links can be left in the comment field.

We love all cat's here so if you have a younger kitty who just demands to be in the public eye, we'll post those pics too.

Cheers,
Sharon

Caring for Elderly Cats

There's nothing quite so sad as watching your beloved older pet reach their twilight years. Your playful kitten that attacked your ankles from under the sofa now reclines on the cushions, barely waking from a nap when you enter a room. It's tough watching your cat age. Making them comfortable and happy should be your primary goal.

Caring for an elderly cat can be demanding. I know, I have one 17-year old kitty. I'm lucky because I'm home all day. At times, they are more demanding than my children. She meows loudly for no reason, demands copious amounts of food, and beg like a dog for table scraps. While I know these are symptoms of aging, I worry like a mother hen over my old girl Maui. Here are some suggestions for what you can do to ease their lives and your own worry.

Vet Visits

Regular vet visits are important for older cats. Take your elderly cat twice a year for a checkup. Older cats can develop diabetes, hyper thyroid, or any number of diseases without showing outward symptoms. A regular vet visit will help catch illnesses early.

Vitamins

Purchase a tube of vitamins from your vet and mix with the cat's wet food. Just as with humans, an elderly cat's body needs additional vitamins and minerals. Elderly cats experience more hairballs. The soft vitamins keep things moving in their digestive tract.

Water

Make sure there is fresh water available ALL THE TIME. I purchased a cat water fountain and I have to admit, they drink much more often now. And stick their paws and heads under the water too, just for my entertainment.

Food

Mealtime has now become their main activity. Adjusting their diet to include more soft food might be necessary if your cats have lost teeth or if you've noticed a decrease in appetite.

Sleep

Elderly cats spend most days lazily snoozing away on the sofa or on a sunny spot on the carpet. Make sure their snuggle spot is comfy and warm. And don't be surprised if your kitty sleeps the whole day away.

Grooming

Your elderly cat's fur might be looking a little lackluster. Many older cats stop grooming themselves as they age. It's your job to take over with a comb and brush. Most cats love to be brushed. They'll appreciate this special time with your undivided attention as long as your are careful and don't pull too much at matted fur.

Claws

Trim those kitty nails. Your older kitty isn't nearly as active. You've probably noticed your furniture isn't taking the beating it once did from scratching. Clip kitty's claws carefully once a month.

Playtime

Yes, it's still necessary to older kitties. You may have noticed that the evening crazies are long gone but your older cat still has some spunk left in him. Break out the strings and soft toys and try to get kitty to play. Some older kitties like chasing a little laser flashlight that can be purchased at any pet store.

Other Considerations

Older cats loose their acute senses too, just like people. Their sense of taste, smell, sight, and hearing will all lessen as they age. Pay attention to these things as they might cause an appetite change, litter box accidents, or unexplained cat howling. Soft pats and snuggles when they are agitated can help comfort them as they adjust to this loss.

The hardest part of being a pet owner is knowing when it's time to let go. Somehow, someway, most of us are lucky enough to have that sixth sense tell us it's time. Making this decision is heart wrenching. Say goodbye to your dear friend, grieve for your companion animal, and be patient with yourself as you move step by step through the grieving process.

Cat, Cats or LOLcats