The Cat's Meow Rescue (TCMR) is a group of cat advocates that have come together to help the cats of the Northeast Texas shelters. Our dedicated team of fosters and rescuers work hard to give these cats a second chance. We provide a secure, temporary home for our rescues and offer all the necessary care for the cats/kittens until we are able to find them permanent, loving homes.
There are more cats than dogs in American homes and yet they visit a vet far less often than their canine counterparts.
Because our prescient pusses can sense what’s coming and both dread and detest the entire process of GETTING to the vet. Some kitties become so stressed that they vomit or defecate out of fear while others morph into hissing, spitting balls of fury.
Since annual (twice a year for seniors) wellness exams are essential for monitoring and maintaining your cat’s health, consider the following tips for making the experience as fear free and tear free as paws-ible.
1. Bring out your cat’s carrier several days before your scheduled vet appointment so that she can get used to the sight of it. Leave the door open, thereby allowing her to enter it, explore it and exit it at her leisure.
2. Place some of your cat’s favorite treats and/or some catnip inside the carrier to encourage her to associate the carrier with a pleasant and positive experience.
3. Make the carrier appear less threatening and more inviting by lining it with one of her blankets topped by several of her favorite toys.
4. Spray the interior of the carrier with a synthetic feline pheromone product reputed to decrease and even eliminate stress 30 minutes before using it, then gently put your kitty inside and softly close the door.
5. Place the carrier in your car and practice making mock trips to the vet by driving around the block. Once ... twice ... Increasing your driving time as long as she seems comfortable, and stopping immediately if she shows any signs of distress. For most cats, the only time they’re crated and inside a car – a frightening experience on its own -- is when they’re going to the vet, setting the stage for a stressful encounter once they arrive. This exercise will hopefully de-sensitize her, preparing her for “the real thing”, while rewarding her with an especially high value treat should help her associate the drive with something pleasurable.
6. If none of this helps and your kitty remains stressed both by the drive to the vet and by the visit itself, ask your vet to prescribe a sedative to calm her down for any and all future visits.
7. As a last resort, ask if your vet makes house calls. If not, ask for the name of a vet or a clinic that does. For frazzled felines who feel more confident in familiar surroundings, this may be the purr-fect solution.
Does spring announce its arrival by the unusual amount of cat hair covering your home?
As your kitty trades her heavy winter coat for a light summer one by shedding – a natural and important process -- she’s helping to remove any dead fur that causes skin irritation. On the other hand, no shedding may be a sign of poor diet or an underlying medical issue, while too much shedding that leads to bald patches or a very thin coat warrants a visit to the vet.
Although some breeds shed more -- or less -- than other breeds, their exposure to daylight also plays a part in “signaling” their bodies when it’s time for a seasonal shed. And so, if your cat spends a great deal of time outside in the sunshine or lying in direct sunlight inside, she may be more prone to shedding as the days grow longer.
Brushing your cat regularly is the best way to manage any excess hair at the source before it starts wafting through your home in tufts or emanating from kitty herself in the form of hairballs. A good indicator of how often you should brush her is the length and thickness of her coat.
If your kitty isn’t used to being brushed or quickly becomes fidgety, it’s important to make the process as stress free as possible for her. Begin with brief sessions and reward her with plenty of praise and high value treats. Once she’s more relaxed, increase the duration of the brushing sessions, and by making it a positive bonding experience between the two of you, she’ll appreciate it even more.
Always brush WITH the grain in the natural direction that her fur grows. Brushing out knots and mats can be difficult and some may need to be cut out. If your cat is severely matted, it’s advisable to see a groomer or consult your vet before trying to remove the mats yourself.
Longhaired cats are best served by starting with a long, stiff shedding rake or comb that reaches down near the skin and dislodges hair from the undercoat while leaving the outer coat almost entirely unaffected. They should then be brushed at least every two days.
For shorthaired cats, begin with a bristle brush. This loosens some of the hair trapped near the skin that causes irritation. Shorthaired cats with a double coat require less brushing than longhaired cats, while those with a single coat need even less. Whatever the length of your cat’s hair, ending each session with a slicker brush (its smaller bristles are ideal for grabbing the hair dislodged by the brushing) is
another way to keep her coat smooth, shiny and sleek.
Lint rollers are also an asset, keeping your clothes as hair free as possible when you leave your home while doing the same for anyone entering your home. Consider those around you who might be allergic to cats, and have a lint roller on hand to remove whatever vestiges of your cat’s hair are clinging to you.
To keep your environment as hair free as possible, running an air cleaner, particularly one designed to handle pet hair, can help provided you replace the filters regularly. For carpets, some cat owners use a vacuum while others prefer a rubber broom with squeegee bristles. The bristles help clump the hair together in a ball and seem to work better than vacuuming alone. For tiled or wood floors use a damp mop.
If your cat has a favorite spot on the furniture, drape it with an easily washed blanket, and if she sleeps in your bed at night, use a duvet cover that you can remove and wash.
Daylight Saving Time officially begins on March 10th at 2:00 AM.
While thankfully close to the official start of spring, many people as well as their pets can find “springing forward” and losing that hour of purr-ecious sleep both disorienting and disturbing.
Cats, like all animals, are creatures of habit, and unlike people, they don’t have to check a watch or a clock in order to schedule their day. Blessed with their own internal, biological clock, known as the circadian rhythm, they know exactly when to eat and nap, exercise and sleep.
When this rhythm is suddenly disrupted by their owners’ waking up early or returning home from work while they’re still taking their afternoon nap, they can become extremely anxious.
Consider three of the ways the start of Daylight Saving Time may affect your own feline friend.
Feeding Time: If your cat is used to being fed at the same time every day, when her food unexpectedly arrives before she’s hungry, this early meal might throw off her digestive cycle. She may act out rambunctiously, turn up her nose and stalk off or gulp down her food then meow for more out of habit when her usual feeding time comes around.
Medication Time: If your cat is diabetic and receives her medication at a certain time of day, getting it early might be a shock to her system. While an hour usually shouldn’t make much of a difference -- depending on her needs – medicating her early can cause a change in her energy level as her body adjusts to the new insulin schedule. Other medications, such as those for heart failure, can cause problems if they’re administered too early.
Together Time: Although many cats are extremely independent and easily able to amuse themselves on their own, others are far more social and rely heavily on more consistent interaction with their owners. If your cat is one of these, used to you both waking up and leaving home at a certain hour, those vital 60 minutes of “lost” together time can cause her undue anxiety.
The best way of reducing the negative effects of “springing forward” on your cat is to prepare for the time switch a few weeks early and alter your schedule by a few minutes each day. This gradual change is far less noticeable and far less disruptive than changing everything by an hour all at once.
Begin by serving your cat’s meal(s) a few minutes earlier each day. Speak with your vet about the safest way of changing the time(s) she receives any and all of her medications. Leave for work a few minutes earlier each day to acclimate her to your leaving home before the usual time. But most importantly, remain vigilant and be sensitive to any shift in her mood. If she seems anxious or nervous, some extra chin scratches and snuggles may be just what she needs!
Problems affecting a cat’s lower urinary tract may prevent the bladder from emptying correctly or may even cause a fatal blockage of the urethra, the tube that connects the bladder to the outside of the cat’s body.
All too often, the cause is Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD). Symptoms include frequent or painful urination, bloody urine and frequent licking of the urinary opening. Essential in treating FLUTD is first determining the cause of it, which may include such endocrine diseases as hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus as well as bladder stones, urinary tract blockages, infection or cancer. If the cause can’t be determined, the cat is considered to have cystitis (inflammation of the bladder).
The causes of FLUTD include: stones, crystals or accumulated debris in the bladder or urethra; a urethral plug (accumulated debris from urine); bladder inflammation or infection; incontinence from excessive water drinking or weak bladder; injury to, or tumor in the urinary tract; stress; spinal cord problems and a congenital abnormality. Rarely seen in cats younger than a year, the average age is typically four years, with males being more prone to urethral blockages due to their narrower urethras.
Signs your cat is having problems with his/her urinary tract include: the inability to urinate or passing only a small amount of urine; bloody or cloudy urine; loss of bladder control and/or dribbling urine; increased frequency of urination or visits to the litter box; straining and/or crying out in pain when attempting to pass urine; prolonged squatting in the litter box; fear/avoidance of the litter box and soiling in inappropriate places; constant licking of the urinary opening; a strong odor of ammonia in the urine; lethargy; vomiting; increased water consumption, and a hard, distended abdomen.
If your kitty is either straining to urinate or crying out in pain, see your veterinarian immediately. This could be a medical emergency!
To diagnose a lower urinary tract problem, your vet should perform a complete physical examination that includes a urinalysis, urine culture and blood work, and if necessary, x-rays and/or an ultrasound.
Depending on the ultimate diagnosis, your vet may recommend one or more of the following courses of action: antibiotics or other medications, dietary changes, increase in water intake and urinary acidifiers; aids in expelling any small stones through the urethra; surgery to remove bladder stones or a tumor or to correct a congenital abnormality; a urinary catheter or surgery to remove a urethral blockage in male cats, and fluid therapy.
If left untreated, urinary problems can cause a partial or complete obstruction of the urethra. This, in turn, can quickly lead to kidney failure and/or rupture of the bladder, which can prove fatal.
The obvious answer to every cat owner’s question is simple: It’s fun.
Not only that, but the higher the places are the better. And yet, as amusing as it may seem – at first – this behavior can be both annoying and dangerous.
Extremely adept at using their paws when they play, cats will bat at and paw at some objects and by twisting their paws slightly, hook others and toss them into the air. Exceedingly curious and endlessly attracted to rapid movement, they are expert “fly catchers” and acrobats, even turning somersaults in the air as they try to catch the feather at the end of a fishing-pole toy.
From tables and desks to bookshelves and mantles, a cat’s joy at knocking things over may, according to some animal behaviorists, be attributed to several factors, including play-related and exploratory behaviors. Consider this: A cat paws at an object to see if it moves or how it moves and inadvertently knocks it off a desk. Once she sees the object fall, she may be attracted to its speed, the sound it makes hitting the floor or even the attention she receives from her owner.
Why the latter? Because whatever hits the floor elicits an immediate response as the owner seeks out the source of the sound. Some clever cats have learned to capture their owner’s attention in precisely this way: the louder the noise, the faster their owner’s response time. For others, simply watching the object fall and chasing after it on the floor is reward enough. But if that object is glass, she can injure her paws when she jumps to the floor and either lands on or walks through the glass shards.
To stop this behavior from disrupting your household while keeping your kitty safe, don’t leave any objects light enough to be batted around and knocked over on any surfaces accessible to her. This is especially true of fragile or irreplaceable items. If the problem is limited to a single room, try closing the door and keeping kitty out. If that’s not feasible, one option is to apply double-sided sticky tape to the surface(s) in question. When your cat jumps onto a table, e.g., her paws will stick slightly to the tape and the unpleasant sensation should deter her from jumping onto it again. But the most successful solution lies in your preventing her from jumping onto the table in the first place.
What does this entail? If you find your cat on the table, instead of shouting at her or chasing her away, make a noise to get her attention and redirect her to a more appropriate behavior such as chasing after a toy or a laser dot. You can also use clicker training to teach her tricks, thereby keeping her mentally engaged and out of trouble. Another way to redirect your cat’s attention is to give her a “job.” Use multiple puzzle toys and have her “work” for some of her food, while remembering that cats in the wild may spend between 40 and 60 percent of their time actually hunting for food.
If, however, none of these techniques work, speak to your veterinarian who may refer you to an animal behavior specialist.
While a good deal of time and patience is involved in helping semi-feral cats adjust to domesticity, nothing succeeds more than time and patience, and nothing is a more gratifying experience.
Because semi-feral cats who have acclimated well to their new lives are some of the most loving, affectionate and appreciative kitties around.
If so, consider the following five steps to help make your particular “wild child’s” adjustment to indoor living as smooth and swift as paws-ible.
1. Prepare a “dedicated” cat room: When you bring your new cat home, ensure her room has such amenities as scratching posts, some toys, food, water and a litter box. Not only should her food bowl and litter box be on opposite sides of the room, it should be quiet and, for the time being, out of bounds for other humans. It should also have some small, safe hiding places, like a cat house or a blanket draped over a chair, but nothing (a bed or sofa) that allows her to hide away from you completely, thereby removing herself from her new environment. Spend time in this room every day to get her accustomed to your presence. Read out loud to her, speak to someone on the phone or simply talk about anything and everything, allowing her to learn the sound of your voice and grow increasingly comfortable with it.
2. Win her over with food: Food is key to gaining your new cat’s trust and earning her eventual affection. When you begin, it’s vital to adhere to a regular feeding schedule so that she learns you’re consistently and without fail the sole source of her delicious food supply. Once she’s relaxed enough to eat, start sitting in the room without interfering with either her or the food. This will assure her that she’s safe with you. Special foods such as “chicken in gravy” baby food is also an excellent way to “seduce” her into attempting new things as she acclimatizes herself to her new, domesticated life.
3. Avoid direct eye contact: If you find your cat staring at you, do NOT engage. To feral cats, eye contact is considered aggressive. But should you inadvertently find yourself in a “staring contest”, the best thing to do is calmly blink, keeping your eyes closed for a few seconds, and turn your head away. This shows your cat that you hadn’t meant to threaten her, and are taking a submissive role, which, in turn, reinforces her feeling of safety and security.
4. Don’t force physical contact: Your cat will come to you once she feels truly safe, something that can be encouraged and enhanced by using that “high value” baby food. Put some on your finger and have her lick it off. This both initiates contact between the two of you and allows her to form a positive association with you. Repeat this over and over until all hesitation on her part ceases. The next step is to try petting her. Start by extending a closed fist while looking away. Allow her to approach you and initiate whatever form of contact feels most comfortable to her.
5. Be patient: According to an old axiom, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” And so it is when welcoming an outdoor cat into your home and heart. All felines are famously guarded; semi-ferals even more so. And although your kitty’s adaptation to indoor life may take longer than you may want, once you’ve succeeded – as a team -- yours will be a love unlike any other.
Walking your indoor cat on a leash not only allows her safe access to the outdoors, but it also provides her with physical exercise and mental stimulation. Whereas some indoor cats much prefer to remain where they are, still others are “hot to trot.”
If your indoor cat is curious and confident, enthusiastic and energetic, she may be a purr-ect candidate for a leashed walk. Before you begin, however, make certain that she’s current on all shots, flea and tick treatments. Ensure that she’s micro-chipped and that your contact information is up to date. Buy her a collar with an ID tag that clearly states she’s an indoor cat and that if she gets lost she should be returned home when found.
Next comes the harness. A harness is exceptionally secure and will keep your kitty safe and close to you even if she attempts to dart about or, worse, run away. Due to the increased popularity of cats being walked on leashes, there is now an ever-increasing assortment of styles, colors and patterns from which to choose.
Even better and, best of all, more comfortable than a harness, is a specially designed walking vest. Durable, adjustable and easy to put on, it’s an especially good choice for regular walkers and/or stronger, more motivated and determined cats.
Last but not least is a lightweight cat leash. Avoid both dog leashes and retractable leashes since they’re too heavy for cats. While many cat harnesses already come with a leash, other options are bungee leashes that will give your cat a little more range once you’re outside and at ease.
Now begins the process of training your cat. Begin by allowing her to get used to wearing a harness inside – a big step since indoor cats don’t normally wear collars AND harnesses. Start slowly, leaving the harness out on the floor with some treats on it to create a positive association for her and entice her to take the treats while smelling the harness itself.
After a few days, put the harness on your cat and promptly provide her with soothing pets and more of those treats. If she’s visibly uncomfortable, however, take the harness off immediately. Then, slowly and patiently, day by day, increase the amount of time she spends in the harness until she no longer minds it. And always remember to highlight the experience by petting her, playing with her, and providing her with treats to ensure that she associates “harness time” with happy times.
Once the harness has been well worn in, attach the leash to it and repeat the same process as above. Then as soon as your cat’s comfortable, bring her outside to a safe space -- a patio, deck or any enclosed area where she’s protected from other people and/or other animals. Slowly venture further afield, remembering to continually reward her with loving pets and tasty treats to assure her of the fun that awaits her once she’s well and truly outside. Remember too that any negative experience can set the entire process back, so pay close attention to your surroundings and to any unanticipated threat that may either spook or harm your cat.
Cat walks aren’t like dog walks. You will, in all likelihood, stay close to home, and your walk will (unless your kitty is particularly athletic and adventurous) be more of a meander. A chance for your purr-ecious puss to slowly and satisfyingly explore all of the various sights and smells previously unknown to her. A chance for you to watch the world through her eyes while seeing it through your own in an entirely new way. A chance for the two of you to bond more closely and more deeply. What could paws-ibly be better than that?
How adept are you at reading your kitty’s signals?
Let’s start with her eyes. In a standoff between two opposing cats, the defender’s pupils will be dilated to widen her peripheral vision, giving her an advantage in anticipating an attack. On the other hand, the aggressor’s pupils will narrow to allow her better depth perception -- an advantage in judging where to attack. Aside from indicating fear, a cat’s pupils will also dilate in dim surroundings to allow as much light as possible to enter her eyes.
Perhaps the most wonderful signal, most often missed by even the most observant cat owner, is the sweetly seductive slow eye blink. Slow eye blinking is a very powerful and reassuring signal commonly used between cats when they’re sitting or lying in a hunched-up, sphinx-like position. It’s also a technique used by animal behaviorists to relax both house cats and feral cats by allowing them to interpret this human’s signal as: “I’m not a threat to you.” And for cat-crazy cat owners, it’s the ideal way to say, “I love you”, to their own favorite feline(s).
A continuous stare, however, has the opposite effect on cats. It’s threatening and unsettling and is used effectively as a way of maintaining their territorial distance. This is why a cat, upon entering a roomful of strangers -- all but one of them committed cat lovers – will approach the “non-cat lover”, the only person not staring at her.
Next, consider her ears. Again, in a standoff between two opposing cats, the defender’s ears will lie down flat against her head for protection. The one whose ears are lying flat -- with a twist, so that the tips of the backs of both ears are visible from the front -- is the aggressor. Confident and curious cats’ ears point forward as a way of listening for sounds in front of them. Cats either hunting prey or playing will also keep their ears pointing forward to collect as much auditory information as possible in order to execute a successful “pounce.”
Last is her tail. When a cat’s tail is erect along its entire length, it’s a gesture of greeting to another cat or an invitation to a friendly human for some quality “contact” rubbing. When her tail is vertical in the air with the inevitable “question mark”, it indicates that she’s happy and relaxed in her environment. It can also be a silent signal for food. When a seated cat’s tail flicks back and forth, it often shows her irritation and/or insecurity about what’s going to happen next.
A tail held down while her rump is elevated belongs to an aggressive cat standing sideways near another cat. An arched, fluffed-up tail and an arched back (this pose is familiarly called the “Halloween cat”) shows that she’s torn between being aggressive or defensive. A fluffed tail positioned either straight out or straight down indicates she’s chosen to move towards aggression. Ironically, all of these tail positions can be observed when two kittens engage in play fighting.
The nose knows! And so it is with cats who rely on their noses to more fully comprehend the world around them. They detect smells as well as sense pheromones (chemicals produced and released by other cats) through their olfactory systems. For indoor cats in particular, understanding and appreciating the importance of their highly developed sense of smell can greatly enrich their environment, which, in turn, makes them happier cats.
Catnip has long been considered the “go to” plant of choice of household cats, attracted as they are to its odor – more than its taste -- to both improve their welfare and make their lives more “interesting.” They typically respond to catnip by sniffing, licking and biting it, shaking or rubbing their heads, chins or cheeks against it, rolling over in it, drooling, and even kicking at the fabric enclosing it with their hind feet. This so-called “catnip response” has often been described by those witnessing it as euphoric.
And yet, catnip isn’t the only plant favored by felines. Some are also attracted to silver vine, Tatarian honeysuckle and Valerian root – all available in various forms. This is fortunate because one in three domestic cats do NOT respond to catnip. Some even appear to be genetically incapable of “sensing” it, and although the allure of catnip has been well documented, one recent study involving 100 cats investigated their responses to catnip and these three less familiar plants.
Of the 100 cats studied, 94 percent showed a “catnip response” to at least one of the four plants. Seventy-nine percent responded to silver vine, 68 percent responded to catnip, 53 percent responded to Tatarian honeysuckle, and 47 percent responded to Valerian root. Even more interesting was the fact that 24 percent of the cats responded to all four plants.
And so, despite the popular reputation of catnip, more cats – at least in this study – gave a resounding “paws up” to silver vine instead. This response held true for female and male cats, friendly and shy cats, and cats of all ages, although the response to catnip was milder among older cats. In fact, the older cats’ response to silver vine was far more intense than their response to catnip.
If your kitty has recently been turning up her nose and turning tail at the sight and the scent of catnip, consider substituting one of the other materials in its place, starting with silver vine. The most effective way to determine which scent truly tickles her feline fancy is by simply “asking” her. How?
After first checking with your vet as to the safety of silver vine, Tatarian honeysuckle and Valerian root, begin by placing a stick of silver vine inside a closed sock, leave it out where she can easily find it, supervise her closely, and monitor her response carefully. (This is especially important if yours is a multiple-cat household).
Be aware of the fact that this new scent has the potential to make your cat more excited and excitable for a more extended period of time. If she seems to be enjoying it, give her plenty of room and don’t try petting, stroking or playing with her until she seems sated, happily tired and perfectly relaxed. Eureka! Success! You’ve struck kitty gold.
Since a cat’s interest in even the most satisfying of scents fades over time, remove any samples she’s played with as soon as you sense her growing bored, and offer them again to her at a later date. But if the bloom is already off the so-called rose, there are those two remaining scents in your cat-contenting arsenal – Tatarian honeysuckle and Valerian root.
Then there’s another scenario altogether. Your cat may be totally unaffected – or worse – repelled by the scent of the silver vine, in which case, it should be removed quickly, and a day or two allowed to pass before moving on to the Tatarian honeysuckle in the hope of achieving a better result. If not, try once more, this time with the Valerian root. But if the result is the same, and the “scent” sampling only stresses her out, stop the sampling process immediately.
For reasons yet unknown, some cats simply aren’t interested in scents – no matter the source. If yours is one of those finicky felines, fret not, there are many other avenues to explore until she finally finds one that sets her purr-o-meter humming.
Held on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this inspired and inspirational global movement both celebrates philanthropy worldwide and jumpstarts the joyous season of GIVING.
November 27th marks the 7th anniversary of #GivingTuesday’s inception, and you, our supporters, can honor its intent to encourage and amplify small acts of kindness by making a tax-deductible donation to TCMR.
Your contribution, whatever the amount, will allow us to continue providing for the kittens and cats currently in our care, allow us to be adequately prepared for any unforeseen emergencies, and allow us to accept even more needy kitties in the year ahead.
In support of #GivingTuesday, Facebook is partnering with PayPal to match up to $7 million in those donations made through Facebook beginning at 7 AM CT and continuing UNTIL THE FUNDS RUN OUT.
To have the chance of seeing YOUR donation doubled, please donate as early as paws-ible by clicking the Donate button on our Facebook page (directly below the cover photo).
With our extremely high vet bills, unforeseen emergencies, and the costs of the medications we administer, many of them on an ongoing basis, we spent close to $10,000 on medical care alone in 2017. And by the end of 2018, our expenses will be even higher!
Because the life of each kitty is purr-ecious to us, no obstacle is too great, no price to steep as we work to ensure each one has the best outcome possible – good health and a loving adoptive home.
Consider little Jake Sully. At a mere 4 weeks, he survived a savage attack by a group of dogs, while two of his littermates perished. His injuries were severe enough to cause temporary paralysis, but with steroids and various medications, physical therapy and good old fashioned TLC, he made, what we considered a miraculous recovery in an astoundingly brief time, and was soon adopted into the most wonderful home.
While most of those we rescue DO live out our dream for them, others do not. Thankfully, however, our happy tails far surpass our sad ones. And where others may give up on the chronically sick, the physically and the neurologically impaired, we never do. They remain in our care always if necessary, as special needs and sanctuary cats, nurtured, protected, and above all, loved.
Consider Ariel, who is blind and has epilepsy, and requires two medications daily to help control her seizures. Consider Aurora, who is FIV positive and requires two injections every six weeks to help control chronic infections and inflammation in her mouth. Consider Codi, who is FIV positive and has heart disease, and requires two medications daily as well as prescription food. Consider Joey, who is FeLV positive and requires medication twice daily to help prevent the development of crystals in his urine.
Consider the ones we have yet to meet and the “tails” still to be told.
Then please consider helping us raise $6,000 to ease our already strained finances so that we may be better equipped to face the challenges ahead.