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.The goal of The Cat's Meow Rescue is to save the lives of cats, and often litters of kittens, that have been abandoned at kill shelters.
Does your cat come to you when you call her name? Does she run to the door when you arrive home and call out to her or does she simply yawn and go back to sleep?
For cat owners curious enough to see if they can train their cats to come to them when called, cat trainers offer the following tips:
Since cats respond excitedly to treats, use healthy, morsel-sized treats (“morsel” is the operative word, vital to preventing any unwanted weight gain) so that she considers training a “paws-itive” thing.
Since cats react eagerly to higher-pitched voices, use a higher than usual tone of voice when you call out her name.
Since cats are more attracted to a happy tone, make your tone upbeat and light to keep her from thinking that she’s being punished.
Since cats respond more easily to shorter names, if yours has a long one, try shortening it, turning it into more of a nickname. For example, if your kitty’s name is Vanessa, you might want to use “Nessa” when calling her. This, then, will become her training name.
Since some cats react better to sounds than to names, clap your hands or use either a bell or a whistle to begin her training. Whatever method you choose, use it ONLY for this particular exercise.
Since repetition is key, be patient and take it slowly, paw step by paw step. Start out a few feet away from your cat. Call her name/clap your hands/use the bell or whistle, and place a morsel-sized treat (or a favorite toy) on the floor several feet in front of you. The smell of the treat or the sight of the toy should attract her to it. If she responds by approaching you, lavish her with praise, and once she’s eaten the treat or played with the toy, pet her, and in your best, happy and high-pitched voice, say “good job!”
If your cat doesn’t respond, repeat the exercise. Try it several more times before stopping to give both you and kitty a rest. Then begin the process again, and keep repeating it until, hopefully, you achieve the result you want. Increase the distance between you slightly and continue practicing the same exercise at this same distance for another few days.
Keep increasing the distance between you until she’s coming to you from any part of your home. And if she’s graduated gracefully and graciously to this phase, reward her with only praise – no treat, no toy – but with an especially relaxing rubdown or extra armfuls of affection.
In short, if your cat is now running to you whenever you call her name, you’ve succeeded!
Cats with extra toes are called polydactyls, a name derived from two Greek words: “poly” meaning “many” and “daktylos” meaning “digits”. While the majority of cats have 18 toes, with five on both front paws and four on both back paws, it’s not unusual for a large number of cats to have extra toes -- some with as many as eight on a single paw.
Polydactyly is a genetic abnormality resulting in the formation of extra toes on one or more paws. Most polydactyl cats have extra toes on their front paws, although some will also have extra toes on their back paws. Passed down from parent cats through a dominant gene, there’s nothing medically wrong with a cat having extra toes, nor does it hurt. In fact, these extra digits can actually be beneficial.
Some breeds are more likely than others to have polydactyly. Historically, 40 percent of Maine Coons have had extra toes, a most useful trait in the state of Maine that receives more than 100 inches of snow a year. The extra toes assist Maine Coons’ paws by acting like snowshoes, enabling them to pad about outdoors without falling through the snow as easily.
Prized by sailors throughout the world as being symbols of good luck, they were often called “gypsy cats”, while their extra toes made them excellent at catching mice and allowed them to maintain their balance on rough waters.
Some polydactyls are called “mitten cats” because they have extra toes on the medial or “thumb” side of their paws. While these toes usually aren’t fully formed and aren’t opposable like human thumbs, some cats have learned to use them in ways similar to the ways we use ours. Many cat owners have been astounded by the ability of their “mitten cats” to open latches or windows thanks to these extra digits.
The most famous polydactyls of all are the ones known as “Hemingway Cats”. In the 1930’s, sea captain, Stanley Dexter, gave an extra-toed kitten to writer, Ernest Hemingway. Since the kitten was a descendant of Dexter’s own polydactyl cat, Snowball, Hemingway named his kitty, Snow White. Charmed and fascinated by them, he collected more than 50 cats at his home in Key West, Florida, half of whom had extra toes. He cared deeply about his cats and named each one after a famous person.
Today, visitors to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum can view the colony of between 40 and 50 cats, some of whom are directly descended from Snow White. Half of them still have extra toes. They receive regular veterinary care, including vaccinations and treatments for fleas and other pests, and staying true to the tradition of the writer himself, they are all still named after famous people.
What do ailing people and ailing animals often have in common? The need for life-saving blood transfusions.
And when it comes to pet transfusions, it can be particularly difficult to find donors. This is why an increasing number of veterinary clinics are calling on caring cat owners to consider registering their kitties as blood donors. It’s why most veterinary colleges have a blood donor program, with some even having their own resident donors. It’s also why many of these colleges are looking for cats (and their humans) willing to participate in a donor program as well.
Unlike dogs who have more than fourteen blood types, cats have only three: A, B and AB. And unlike humans, there are no universal donors or universal recipients when it comes to feline blood types. If a cat receives a transfusion of the wrong type of blood, it could prove fatal.
In cats, type A is the most common, type B is uncommon, and type AB is very rare. For your own cat’s protection and your peace of mind, consult with your vet, who will either type her blood for you or refer you to a lab to perform the test.
And if you’re thinking of registering your cat as a much needed and most appreciated blood donor, she must meet certain requirements. One is that she be an indoor-only cat. Those allowed to roam free outside are considered too high-risk to be donors.
She must be healthy and up-to-date on her vaccinations. If she’s taking any regular medication(s) other than flea, tick and heartworm preventatives, she won’t be eligible to donate. Most blood banks have certain age (2 to 6 years old) and weight requirements (above 10 pounds but NOT overweight) for donors. They also prefer cats who are fairly friendly and are comfortable with being handled -- to prevent undue stress on both the staff and the animals.
If your kitty meets all of the requirements and is ready to donate, you’ll have to ensure that she’s properly prepared beforehand. To keep her comfortable and calm, she’ll be lightly sedated during the procedure, which means she can’t eat preceding it, but she can be fed the night before. You may, however, make water available to her right up until the donation itself. In fact, the better hydrated she is, the smoother the process is likely to be.
Collecting your cat’s blood (usually two ounces) will take only about 10-15 minutes, but because of the sedation, recovery and aftercare, the entire process may take several hours. Many pet parents drop off their cats, along with a favorite toy or blanket, and return for them later. In most cases, your kitty will be fed at the donation center shortly after the procedure.
Like human blood donors, cat blood donors can be lifesaving heroes for other cats in urgent need of transfusions. And if your kitty becomes just such a donor, both of you will have the heartfelt gratitude of emergency vets and anxious pet owners throughout your community.
Salmonella is the bacterium behind enteritis or salmonellosis in cats and lodges itself in their intestinal tracts. Cats typically contract the infection from the saliva or feces of other infected animals, or from ingesting contaminated meat or foods.
Rarely seen in cats and seldom causing complications, most cats will simply remain carriers of the bacteria without exhibiting any clinical signs. However, kittens and cats with weaker immune systems are more likely to present symptoms, while the infection itself can be shed, thereby INFECTING other pets and people.
The incubation period is between two and four days with symptoms appearing AFTER this time. These symptoms include chronic vomiting, chronic diarrhea (the feces may become very liquid and kitty may eliminate in unusual places, not in her litter box), swelling of the lymph nodes, elevated fever, lack of appetite and weight loss, a general state of weakness, lethargy, enlarged liver (only in advanced infections), and abortion in pregnant cats.
Only bacterial cultures and rectal swabs taken by your vet can determine whether your cat’s symptoms are indicative of salmonella or another type of bacterial infection altogether. Once the precise source is identified, antibiotic treatment will be started immediately, while in kittens or severely dehydrated cats, IV fluids may also be added. Following the treatment, your cat MUST be tested to see if she’s shedding the bacteria – either through her saliva or feces.
Because the salmonella bacteria can be so easily transmitted to humans, and because most cats are asymptomatic carriers, it’s essential that cat guardians avoid direct contact with their cat’s feces and saliva. Since bleach has the power to kill the bacteria, keep her environment scrupulously clean by using it weekly on such items as her litter box and tray, her food and water bowls, and the toys that she chews on. Always rinse them thoroughly in soapy water and dry them before allowing her access to them again.
Soft furnishings like cat beds and blankets should be put into the washing machine on the hot cycle, then either air dried in full, direct sunlight or misted with a safe disinfectant from a spray bottle, and permitted to dry before your cat uses them again.
And since the salmonella bacteria can also be present in certain meat and fowl, proper cooking by conscientious cat owners at elevated temperatures is essential in order to kill it.
The best way for your kitty to live all nine of her lives, happily and healthily, is through the prevention of needless accidents.
Being hit by a car: Even if yours is an independent outdoor cat, there are steps you can take to ensure she stays safe. If financially feasible, and you live in a home, have your yard fitted with an invisible fence, slip on her custom computer collar receiver, and have the fence’s parameters stop well before the street. If such a fence is not an option or if you rent your home, create an enclosed, outdoor space for your cat to play in. Failing that, consider placing a reflective “Cat Crossing” sign at the end of your street to alert motorists that they should drive with caution in your area. But most importantly, whether you live in a home or an apartment, have your outdoor cat micro-chipped so that you can be contacted promptly in case of an accident.
Poisoning: There are countless items -- from cleaning and beauty products to insecticides, pesticides and anti-freeze, from non-flowering plants to flowering plants and flowers, from chocolates and alcohol, fruits and vegetables to artificial sweeteners and over-the-counter medications -- that can either sicken or kill your cat. Educate yourself fully about all things toxic and eliminate them from your home or store them securely in places out of your cat’s curious reach.
String, string everywhere: While photos of kittens playing with fuzzy balls of yarn are both adorable and alluring, in reality, thin, pliable items like yarn, string and thread are too easily ingested, often requiring surgery to untangle and remove them. Opt instead for toys designed specifically – and safely -- for cats.
Turning on the dryer with kitty inside: Cats love warm, cozy places, and enclosed ones like dryers, which are especially tempting, can easily kill them. This type of tragedy typically occurs when warm, dry clothes are already in the dryer, damp ones are added, and the machine is turned on again. To keep this from happening to your cat, limit her access to your laundry facilities and check both the washer and dryer before turning either one on.
Pet on pet aggression: If you have two (or more) cats and they begin fighting, their long, sharp and pointy teeth can cause serious harm in the form of puncture wounds. And these deep wounds can easily lead to abscesses and infection. For multiple cat households, always use initial training methods to lessen the chances of their fighting. If, however, they appear “heated” for some reason, quickly separate them, and keep them separated until they’ve settled down.
Pest-borne illnesses: While simply aggravating more often than not, they can sometimes prove fatal. If your cat’s bitten by an infected tick, she could be exposed to such deadly illnesses as Cytauxzoonosis (caused by a lethal parasite) and Tularemia (a fever that can lead to severe infection and sometimes death), as well as to other serious pathogens. While rare and requiring the right circumstances, even indoor cats can bring nuisances like ticks, mites or fleas into your home. A monthly preventative medication is a simple but highly effective manner of keeping pest-borne illnesses at bay.
With the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes, commonly called E-cigs, comes an increased risk of toxicity to cats whose owners use them.
Marketed as smoke-free substitutes for traditional cigarettes, they’re shaped like a long cigarette, battery operated, and filled with a replaceable cartridge of E-liquid that contains a mixture of ingredients such as nicotine, flavorings, glycerin and propylene glycol. An atomizer heats the liquid, turning it into a vapor that is then inhaled while creating a cloud that resembles cigarette smoke (a practice colloquially referred to as “vaping”).
Although their safety for humans hasn’t yet been determined, each E-cigarette cartridge contains 6 to 24 mg of nicotine, the equivalent of one to two regular cigarettes, while their enhanced flavoring and aroma make them highly attractive to cats.
The dangers of ingesting E-liquids include gastrointestinal obstruction and nicotine toxicity, while chewing on the sharp plastic can cause oral trauma. According to petpoisonhelpline.com, “the ingestion of a single cartridge can result in clinical signs and potentially death for a dog less than 10 pounds.” The same level of toxicity would also apply to a cat.
While many cats will vomit naturally after ingesting E-liquids, the signs of toxicity are dose-dependent and usually begin within 15 minutes to one hour of ingestion. When large amounts are consumed, the effects can be life threatening, but even small amounts can induce symptoms. Without treatment, nicotine toxicity can cause paralysis of the breathing muscles and cats may die, sometimes within hours.
If you’re a “vaper”, contact your vet immediately if your cat exhibits any of the following symptoms: tremors, weakness, stumbling and/or loss of coordination, depression, hyperactivity, lethargy, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, drooling, dilated pupils, diarrhea, seizures, collapse, slow or fast heart rate and/or cardiac arrhythmias.
Of primary importance is reducing the amount of nicotine in her stomach while keeping her alive until her body breaks it down. You may be instructed to induce vomiting if you saw your cat ingest the E-liquid and she’s alert. Do NOT use antacids as the stomach acid helps decrease the absorption of the nicotine. If her exposure was dermal (her paws or fur came in contact with any spilled liquid), bathe her promptly using a mild dishwashing soap.
If however, her symptoms are severe, bring her to your vet or to the nearest emergency clinic where her stomach may be pumped (gastric lavage) and repeated doses of activated charcoal or intravenous fluids used to reduce further nicotine absorption and enhance its elimination. A ventilator may also be used to assist with her breathing until the toxins are cleared from her system. If needed, other supportive care may include oxygen and seizure control medications such as diazepam (valium.
It’s said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you’re a pet parent who “vapes”, paw-lease do so responsibly. Besides cartridges, there are also E-juice bottles, and while childproof, your cat’s needle-sharp teeth can pierce the packing. To prevent any mishaps, when not in use, all supplies and accessories MUST be locked safely away and out of reach. It’s also best to “vape” in another room or in one that’s properly ventilated – for your sake as well as hers.
For years, certain essential oils were considered safe for cats and were often recommended for use in treating everything from stress and ear mite infestations to upper respiratory problems.
But recently, some studies have shown that essential oils can be toxic to cats, whether taken internally, applied to their skin or simply inhaled. The liver is the organ most negatively affected, and unlike ours, cats’ livers lack the ability to properly metabolize the various compounds found in essential oils.
Toxicity in cats can either occur very quickly, following a single internal or external application or over a longer period of time -- through repeated or continuous inhalation of the essential oils. Either way, it can cause serious damage to the liver and, and in some instances, even lead to death.
Although using essential oils on cats is now generally discouraged, they may, however, still be used – if diluted -- to treat certain ailments under the close supervision of a veterinarian.
A partial list of the essential oils to be avoided include peppermint oil, lemon oil, lavender oil, melaleuca oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon bark oil, wintergreen oil, thyme oil, birch oil, and any oil containing phenol. If ingested or applied directly to the skin, these essential oils can damage your cat’s skin and even induce seizures. Should yours accidentally ingest ANY oil, rush her to the vet immediately.
Aside from their toxic effects, the concentrated scent of essential oils can be very irritating, even overwhelming, to cats because of their extremely sensitive noses. If you’re a cat owner who diffuses essential oils throughout your home, ensure there’s good ventilation – for your sake and the sake of your cat -- that you only diffuse small amounts for limited periods of time, and that kitty can retreat to a “scent-free” zone if the smell becomes overpowering.
Hydrosols, also known as “flower waters”, are often promoted as a more natural and safer alternative to essential oils. Less saturated or concentrated than essential oils, hydrosols are basically what remain after steam-distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers or herbs in water. With properties similar to essential oils, their aromas are often softer and subtler.
While hydrosols may be safer for use on human skin, they are still dangerous for cats as the water can retain residual plant matter that can prove toxic if ingested or even inhaled. While some cats can tolerate hydrosols, others are more sensitive to them. To be on the safe side, limit your cat’s access or exposure to them to minimize the risk of any health issues arising.
Even if your cat is an indoor pet, it still needs exercise and stimulation. Not only do they keep your kitty healthy through ample movement, it also makes it happy. Cats love to hunt and to be challenged, and by introducing the right activities at home, you can continue to stimulate these instincts.
The great news is, you do not need a huge place or a lot of money to keep your cat entertained. Kitties love the attention and are happy when their humans play with them. They are not picky about toys and will play with anything they see around the house. Here are some tips to make sure that you are keeping your cat stimulated and active the whole day.
Invest In Cat Toys
There are toys specifically designed for kitties, like feathers on a stick or balls they can chase around. You can also keep your cat very happy by using a scratching post. These are great because they can also sharpen their claws there instead of in your furniture. Buying ones with a place to sit on the top are something your kitty will love as well.
You do not need to invest in a lot of toys. A good idea is to rotate what you have, hiding some that your kitty is bored with and giving them back after a few weeks.
Let Your Cat Search for Food
Wild cats survived by foraging for their own food. You can keep your kitty active and stimulated by hiding some treats or dry food all over the house and let your pet search for it. Moreover, it is good because your cat will not eat too much at once, and instead, eat a few times during the day.
Stimulate the Senses
Cats have a wonderful sense of smell. They love pacing around the house and smelling around. You can stimulate this by spreading old socks with various scents all over the house. Simply dab a drop of perfume, extract, spice, or other aromatic things. Scatter them all over the house and your pet will have interesting things to smell as it walks around. You can also do a scent trail using some cheese and having a real piece of cheese to eat at the end as a treat.
Watch the Outside World
Cats love having a place in the window pane or somewhere beside the window to observe the world outside. Make it comfortable by putting a soft pillow or blanket and your kitty will enjoy hours of watching. You can also put a bird feeder outside the window so that birds will come and your feline friend has lots to see. Just make sure the window is closed to keep your cat from unexpectedly jumping out.
Recycle Old Cardboard
It is common knowledge that cats go crazy over old boxes, preferring them over the toys actually inside them. One cheap and easy way to keep your kitty occupied is to recycle old boxes. You can even connect them together with tape and design tunnels or mazes. You can also hang toys inside the boxes for some additional fun. If you have a cat, you will find yourself never throwing away any cardboard ever again.
There are many simple and very cheap ways to keep your cat stimulated at home. Hiding things or letting your kitty chase things will also give it the exercise it needs so it stays healthy. By installing some of these things you can keep your cat happy and avoid loneliness especially when you are at work. Moreover, these activities will trigger its instincts so that even if it is an indoor pet, it can still chase and hunt.
Imagine your cherished cat in a tree and you on the ground looking up!
Who ya’ gonna call? The fire department? Not anymore.
Most fire departments no longer rescue cats. Understandably, they’re unwilling to commit their resources to pets in trees when human lives may be at stake elsewhere. Pet owners finding themselves in this predicament are advised instead to check the web for a listing of experienced cat rescuers, arborists or tree care companies in their area. This is one of the safest and most reliable options, and well worth the cost.
If however, none exists, is temporarily unavailable, or if you’d prefer trying to rescue your cat on your own, remember that she’s most likely frightened, apt to act out and resist all attempts to catch her, or worse still, climb even higher in the tree. And so, before you pull out your trusty ladder, it’s best to wear protective gear that includes such items as goggles, a helmet, thick gloves, and some form of padded clothing.
Climbing a ladder to get your kitty is, in itself, unsafe, and requires steadiness, balance and calm. If you’re fortunate enough to reach your fearful feline easily, some experts suggest grasping her firmly by the scruff of the neck to avoid her claws during your descent. As this may be difficult with thick gloves on, only the strongest and most experienced at using a ladder should attempt this form of rescue.
Rather than using you hands, some suggest using a laundry basket instead. Your cat may be willing to climb into the basket if it contains an article of her bedding, some catnip or her favorite treats. You can then carry her, slowly and, hopefully, safely down the ladder. But be warned: this will only work if you’re very strong and your kitty is fairly lightweight.
An alternative is to tie a rope securely between the handles of the laundry basket and toss the end of the rope over the branch your cat’s on. Nearly impossible to accomplish when the branch in question is high, if it’s a low one, once you’ve established this makeshift pulley system, hoist the basket filled with her “goodies” up to the branch. Paws crossed that she climbs into it, after which you can safely lower it and her to the ground.
Another suggestion is smearing the bark with strong, scented foods to lure kitty out of the tree. You can also sprinkle dry cat or dog food on the ground or -- as unappealing as it sounds and as unattractive as it looks -- her own soiled litter, whose familiar smell may coax her back down to earth. While these suggestions are safer than attempting to retrieve her yourself, their disadvantage lies in attracting unwanted feline attention from neighboring properties!
While difficult for some anxious cat owners to accept, felines, adept as they are at climbing, are apt to come down on their own when they’re either hungry enough or tired of their “adventure.” When you consider the dangers involved in rescuing a treed kitty yourself, exercising patience is a reasonable option before attempting more drastic measures.
Fur-get kitties’ funny quirks! Pussycat parents may unwittingly be rubbing their own feline friends the wrong way. How? Consider the following:
Taking them on car rides: As opposed to their canine counterparts, cats do NOT enjoy spontaneous rides in the car. Being highly territorial and passionate about routine, they dislike abrupt changes in their environment. They’re also prone to motion sickness, and coupled with anxiety, the results can be rather unpleasant. Cars should be reserved for vet visits or meticulously prepared road trips.
Bringing them on play dates: Unlike dogs and their dog parks, felines, unless especially friendly, prefer to remain in their own cozy realms rather than visit unfamiliar felines in unfamiliar surroundings. Cats don’t enjoy meeting new cats or smelling strange cats’ scents. Nor do they like seeing themselves in mirrors.
Giving them baths: Most cats are superb at self-grooming, and accomplish with their tongues what we humans accomplish with soap and water. On the rare occasion that a bath is absolutely necessary, wary cats should be approached with caution, patience and a plan.
Neglecting their litter boxes: Although kitties always cover up their urine and feces, their litter boxes should be cleaned at least once a day. Their sense of smell is 14 times stronger than ours is, and if they begin eliminating OUTSIDE the box instead of in it, their message is more than clear!
Petting them too much: Cats can become over-stimulated very easily and with very little warning, shifting from purring contentedly one minute to hissing or scratching the next. To avoid over-stimulating your kitty, study her personality, learn her likes and dislikes, and respect her limitations.
Making too much noise: Whether it’s door bells or roaring traffic, slamming doors or thunderstorms, many cats are very sensitive to and scared of loud sounds. Because of this, conscientious cat owners are conscious of their own tone of voice, the volume on their TV and stereo, and all other sources of potentially frightening noise.
Serving stale or cold food: Leaving wet food out not only allows it to get stale, but allows dangerous bacteria to grow, often within the space of a single day. To prevent this, mete out smaller, more frequent portions. And because some cats dislike cold food, allow any refrigerated, canned leftovers to “thaw” to room temperature before serving it.
Ignoring them: While felines fend well for themselves, they don’t appreciate being alone or ignored. The solution is to create regularly scheduled play times with them every day particularly before bedtime to burn off their pent-up energy and strengthen the bonds of love and trust between you.
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