Sunday, September 6, 2009

How to Choose a Cat Food

Non-cat owners don't seem to realize that the "finicky cat" thing actually exists. I've been a cat owner all my life and I've yet to run into one that eats like a dog. My cats are picky, finicky eaters and this increases as they move into their geriatric years.

You might find a portion of the cat chow your old kitty loves so much remains in the bowl when you come home. Maybe your cat doesn't come running when he hears the chow pellets hitting his metal bowl. Whether it's canned food or dry food, your cat's food needs have changed as he's moved into the senior years of his life.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

How to treat hairballs in cats

Most cats are fastidious creatures. They groom their fur, clean their toes, and wipe their faces after every meal. This grooming causes many cats to perform a disgusting little ritual of choking and coughing until the offensive hairball ends up on the carpet. Cats are just doing what's natural by expelling the ball of fur.

I'm tasked with cleaning up these lovely little "cat presents." Somewhere along the way, my wonderful family decided covering the hairballs with a paper towel was sufficient. Like a little red flag, it's my notice that the cat has done something that is just too gross for anyone but Mom to clean up.

If you're like many cat owners, cleaning up hairballs ranks pretty low on the cat care scale, right along with dumping the cat box. It's a nasty chore despite the actions of the cat being a wholly natural body response to an accumulation of hair in the stomach. Since hair itself isn't digestible, the cat's stomach reacts by emitting digestive juices that cause the cat to expel the hairball. There are many remedies, all of them relatively simple and inexpensive. Sometimes, your cat just might need a little help!

Brush your cat

Once of the best ways to prevent a hairball from even happening is to grab a pet hairbrush and brush your cat's fur. This is a ritual that so many cats love. Quality time with Mom! Regular brushing helps remove the cat's loose fur and will often reduce the incidence of hairballs. Once or twice a week if sufficient for short haired animals. Long haired cats should be brushed daily to prevent excessive hairballs.

Special foods

Some cat food manufacturers have created chow and treats to help keep things moving along kitty's digestive tract. These special foods include a lubricant and fiber to aid your cat's passing of any offensive hairballs. Some cats just love the food while others have increased vomiting or other reactions. I'm personally not a fan of hairball remedy cat chows, but then I not a fan of cat chow. There are many other choices to alleviate excessive hairballs rather than switching the animal's entire diet.

To read more about treating hairballs in your cat, click here

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

How to keep cats off countertops

One morning you enter your kitchen and see a trail of perfect little kitty paw prints lined up along yourkitchen counter top. Looks like your cat has been on your counters again, despite your repeated attempts to stop this behavior. It's time to train that kitty even though you might often feel that you're the one being trained.

Cats love to be up high; on top of cabinets, high shelves, and the highest level of a cat-climbing tree. There's a measure of safety and security in being able to look down on their world. In addition, cat's have a "bird's eye" view of their domain when perched above the rest of the world. An added benefit to this new height is that it's the perfect place to ambush unsuspecting humans or other pets in the house.

When this climbing tendency results in nasty cat paws across your counter, you're got to control the cat. Remember that consistency is the key to training your cat. Training must be fun, must be repeated, and certainly must have an adequate reward to keep kitty in the frame of mind of trying to please you. It's really quite simple. You need to re-establish who is boss in your house.

So what's on your cat's feet?

Counter surfing is great fun for a kitty. A sure way to attract immediate human attention, very few cats can resist the temptation of fun AND food all in one spot. This great form of entertainment for your cat is really just spreading germs via kitty's feet. Litter box residue (and subsequent feces and urine), dust from the floor, dirt from the flooryou name it, it's on the cat's feet.

Unless you're planning on using the floor as your dinner plate, it's frankly pretty gross to let kitty prance happily on the counter. The 5-second rule for dropped food should apply to the floor, not your counter. Has your cat decided he likes the sink better than his water dish? Well, is his water dish clean and fresh? A hundred things entice your cat to climb. Bottom line is that it's really unclean to have the cat walking on the surfaces that you cook and prepare food on. In addition, if you use any cleansers on the counters, your cat may be ingesting the residue when he cleans in paws. I shouldn't even need to mention the dangers of a hot stove!

Stop that counter-surfing!


I confess to spritzing my cat with the kitchen sink sprayer to prevent his jumping into the sink. Just a little spray and he hasn't done it since. Many folks use a squirt bottle. Make sure it's filled and the nozzle is turned to the "stream" setting. Keep it handy. Cats will almost always stop the unwanted behavior after just a few squirts. Make sure to combine the spray of the bottle with a firm "Off!"

Tin Can Rattles

Most cats will startle at loud noises. Throw some change or rocks on an empty coffee can and keep it on the counter. If kitty counter-surfs, rattle than can. It might freak them out the first few times but you can be sure that even the sight of the can will make your cat think twice about jumping on the counters. Don't forget to soothe that ruffled fur a few minutes after the rattle sounds.

Tape or aluminum foil barriers

Imagine your totally indignant cat with a big piece of tape stuck to his paw, shaking his foot for all he's worth in an effort to dislodge it. Pretty funny mental image. Some folks try this method. In truth, I haven't although I just might because of the sure entertainment value. It seems it would work although I imagine lining the edges of all your counters with 2-sided tape might be difficult as well as inconvenient. Some folks try aluminum foil on the premise that cats don't like the feeling of the foil on their feet. These are great additional options for folks who've failed with water and the tin can rattles.

Commercial products

Commercial cat repellents are available at local pet stores and vendors. If all else fails, this might be the ticket for the most stubborn cat. It's important to remember that training a cat is never an easy proposition. Don't expect to find a simple solution in a can of spray repellent.

An important reminder

It is so very important to consider the health and well being of your animal. Never is this more important than when you are training your animal. Never smack your cat; never hit him anywhere on his body. Remember that you are trying to foster a changed behavior, not create an angry cat with issues. Positive training brings about positive change in your cat. And soon the kitty counter surfing will be a thing of the past!

Monday, January 26, 2009

An Old Cat Often Equals a Picky Eater

Elderly cats seem to develop the uncanny ability to drive us batty opening can after can of wet food in an attempt to get them to eat. I know I've opened up to 5 cans before Maui finally showed some mercy and caved in. Why are old cats such picky eaters?

Very likely, your old kitty has a reduced sense of smell. With age comes the loss of senses and frankly, we all gotta admit we like smelling good food before we eat too. With cats, this lack of smell can throw off their appetite. Putting out cans of stinky tuna blend cat foods just isn't the answer either. High smell doesn't necessarily mean a happy cat.

First, rule out any other reason for finickiness. Does your old cat have a cough or sneeze that might indicate an upper respiratory infection? If so, visit the vet. If not, move to step two. You might have created the monster. It's tempting to feed foods that are familiar and as a result, put your cat right into a feeding rut. Change up the foods frequently, using high quality, low fat foods that offer a wide variety of tastes to challenge your old kitty's palate.

A new dish can work wonders for making a kitty happy. As simple as this sounds, a stinky plastic dish being washed is still a stinky plastic dish that's been washed. Purchase a long lasting ceramic or metal dish to eliminate any smell residue that might annoy your cat. Wash it thoroughly after every feeding.

If your old cat is stuck in a confirmed feeding rut, rise to the challenge. Purchase a variety of healthy wet foods and provide a little buffet to challenge his or her taste buds. Try no more than a tablespoon of wet food each time. Let your cat choose for awhile. You're also showing him that there are other options if he'd prefer.

Cat food is expensive, especially the high end brands. Not to worry. Cover and refrigerate unused portions for the next feeding. If your cat turns up his nose at cold food, add warm water in small amounts to make some gravy to bring the food to room temperature. Make sure it's not too hot so you don't burn the cat's mouth. Never heat any pet food in the microwave.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Peanut Butter Pet Food Recalls

I know this blog focuses on elderly cat care but it's so important to reach as many people as possible with any pet food recall. The peanut butter nightmare is now affecting pet foods.

See the following for more information:

PetSmart Voluntarily Recalls Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuits
PetSmart Customer Service

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- PHOENIX, AZ, January 20, 2009 -- PetSmart is voluntarily recalling seven of its Grreat Choice® Dog Biscuit products that contain peanut paste made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). PCA is the focus of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigation into potential salmonella contamination of peanut butter and paste made at its Blakely, Georgia facility.

Although PetSmart is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to these products, it has removed these products from its store shelves and website and is conducting the recall as a precautionary measure.

The recalled products include only the following types of Grreat Choice Dog Biscuits sold between Aug. 21, 2008 and Jan. 19, 2009:

Small Assorted 32 oz., UPC 73725702900
Small/Medium Assorted 4 lb., UPC 73725700601
Small/Medium Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700605
Small/Medium Assorted 10 lb., UPC 73725702755
Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700638
Extra Large Assorted 8 lb., UPC 73725700779
Peanut Butter 4 lb., UPC 73725700766
Customers who purchased the recalled dog biscuit products should discontinue use immediately and can return the product to any PetSmart store for a complete refund or exchange. Customers can visit for more information or contact PetSmart Customer Service at 1-888-839-9638.

No other products or flavors are included in this recall.

Friday, January 16, 2009

How to Put Your Cat on a Diet

"Your cat is fat!" Those horrifying words reverberate around the vet's examining room. What you thought would be a simple visit for shots and a checkup ended up being a brash assessment of your kitty's physique. You've got a fat cat and you don't know what to do.

Cats have a metabolism, just as people do. Lazy or older cats tend to have a slower metabolism and as a result, burn the calories consumed from foods slower than more active cats. As calorie consumption increases, and with it your cats need for more and more food, kitty can pack on the pounds just like humans do on a diet of chocolate candy bars.

The theory of weight loss and gain is similar to humans. However, it is absolutely necessary to make sure your cat is getting enough food and water every day for maximum health. Any drastic change to your animal's diet can be traumatic. It makes more sense to put your cat on a diet that will encourage slow and steady weight loss. Consult your vet about the exact amount your cat should be eating every day. Ask exactly how much you should decrease the amounts of foods each week. Be as specific as possible with your questions.

Dry Food

I'm not a proponent of dry cat chow. It's packed with carbohydrates and fillers like grains and oils that your cat simply doesn't need. Cats are obligate carnivores that require meat in their diet, not grains. So consider the cat chow as kitty potato chips that are packing on the pounds and wrecking your cat's svelte figure.

If you're free feeding your fat cat dry kibble all day, it needs to be stopped. Do it gradually by feeding high quality canned cat food in place of the filled chow bowl. Reduce the chow in the bowl by one third every 2 days and add a wet food feeding. Most adult cats require one 5.5.-ounce can of wet food each day. However, some differ. If you need to add a little more wet food, then do it to keep kitty from starving as his body adjusts to less food.

Your aim is to provide your cat with 2-3 feedings per day of wet food only. By eliminating chow, you're eliminating a ton of unnecessary calories. Don't expect the change from dry chow to wet food to be easy. Be patient with the cat. We humans don't like giving up our junk foods either.

Cat chow doesn't have even a minimal amount of the moisture that a cat needs to consume on a daily basis. Many cats aren't great water drinkers so adding any to their diet is a must for kidney health. Not convinced yet that chow is bad?

Try this fact. In the wild, cats get every bit of water that they need from the prey they eat. They don't need to drink water.

Wet Food

There's simply no way to take a field mouse, chipmunk, or bird and stuff it in a can to make the perfect cat food. However, manufacturers of pet foods have added an acceptable combination of protein, vitamins and minerals to make a can of cat food a more than adequate diet for your cat. The caveat is the quality of cat food that you buy. To place an obese cat on a diet, it is simply unacceptable to feed anything from a grocery or chain pet food store. All-natural foods are the only way to go. Natural pet foods contain less filler, starches, and are generally packed with

Wet food has added bonuses too. Within a few weeks of feeding your cat a high quality wet food, you'll see a noticeable difference in the texture of his fur. It's truly amazing. Plus, wet food has an added benefit of increasing the amount of water in a cat's diet because water is used in the preparation of the food. Moisture is so important for a cat's proper kidney function. The added benefits to feeding the highest quality food that you can afford is a definitive decrease in health problems as your cat ages, translated into dollars and cents NOT spent at the vets.

Some tricks for tricking a dieting kitty

Cats hate change so expect a little pouting when the chow bowl goes empty permanently. Remember that you're trying to teach your cat to eat properly. In actuality, your cat can't understand the insulting comments made at the vets. It's up to you to translate it to a new and interesting way of feeding.

Plastic dishes retain the smell of foods. Pitch the plastic dishes and invest in ceramic coated or metal dishes. These are so much easier to clean and very likely, your fat kitty will appreciate a change. In fact, you might want to change the feeding area completely. This slight alternation may be enough to signal to the cat that change is coming.

When feeding wet foods, make sure you spread the canned food across the bottom of the dish. Use a fork to mash the food flat. Your aim is to teach your cat to eat slower. Chunks of food can be gulped down but mashed food requires the cat to lick slowly to eat his meal.

Fresh water is a must for every cat, every day. Standing water gets a film across the top of it in just one day. Kitty spit, fur, and food particles end up in the dish, often making it resemble the neighborhood pond. So wash that dish and add fresh water every day.

Make this a fun time for your cat by adding some daily exercise. There's no need to buy expensive cat toys. Grab a bottle cap and toss it across the floor. Put your hand inside an oven mitt and wrestle with the cat. Any increase in exercise will burn some calories.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Keeping things moving, so to speak

Despite my absence from updating this blog, I am here and I'm still doing 'CatMom" type things. Maui,the lovely old lady that graces the banner of the blog, had a rough go of it a few weeks ago. She had a urinary track infection that required a vet visit. She's now on antibiotics and doing wonderfully. But for a few days there, I thought I was going to lose her. Having lost 2 animals to kidney failure, I'm tuned in to the distinctive signs. It's not pretty.

During my discussion with the vet, he noticed Maui is...let's put this delicately...a little "backed up." He said that as cats age, their food processes slower so sometimes we need to help things along. Maui does her business every 2-3 days and he said it won't hurt her. However, she'd feel alot better going more frequently.

The vet recommended putting a teaspoon of vegetable oil or fish oil into her food once a day. A completely safe and fast way to make sure things are all moving well.

Maui gets very happy when she does her business. In fact, she acts like the kitten she once was racing around the house.

There's nothing so wonderful as a happy cat! Even if a potty stop is the reason!