Springtime Flowers That Are Toxic to Cats: Beyond Banish the Bulbs!

We are so in love with this time of year! The wildflowers and flowers at the farmers market make us so happy. It really annoys me when I ask a flower vendor if they know if a plant or flower is toxic to cats and they say they have no idea. I think if you sell something you should know about it. But that said, here’s a list of many of the flowers to avoid bringing home this time of year, as well as their effects on cats.

  • Azalea – heart failure and death
  • Clematis – vomiting, diarrhea, mouth ulcers
  • Crocus – severe vomiting and diarrhea, liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure, seizures
  • Daffodils – any part of the flower, stem, leaves can cause vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea
  • Delphinium – death
  • Easter Cactus – vomiting and diarrhea
  • Foxglove – vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac failure, death
  • Gladiolas – vomiting, diarrhea
  • Hyacinths – heart problems, tremors, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty
  • Larkspur – constipation, drooling, convulsions
  • Lilies – All of them, any time of the year, absolutely all of them can kill your cat! Seizures are just the start!
  • Narcissus – shivering, convulsions, tremors, cardiac arrhythmia and heart failure
  • Rhododendron – Vomiting, diarrhea, coma, cardiovascular failure, death
  • Tulips – heart problems, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, breathing difficulty
  • Wisteria – vomiting, diarrhea, could be fatal

At our house about the only flowers you’ll ever see are fair trade roses. You cannot go wrong with a nice bunch of roses! But make sure they are organic and fair trade – many roses are sprayed heavily with pesticides. Demand organic roses. We love Lilacs which are safe. We adore lilacs during their all too short season. Other cat-safe flowers include: African violets, Alyssum, Calendula, Bachelor’s Buttons, Begonias, Columbine, Coneflowers, Gerber Daisies, Hollyhocks, Impatiens, Nasturtium, Orchids, Petunias, Snapdragons, Sunflowers, Violets, Zinnias.

If you are like me and love flowering herbs these make very sweet little rustic bouquets, darling in Mason jars: Basil, Bee Balm, Cilantro or Coriander, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lovage, All of the Mints, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme.

This page will give you a pretty good overview of plants and flowers to avoid year round:

http://www.1stinflowers.com/articles/poisonous-plants-for-cats.html

 
 

Hyperthyroidism and Your Cat

Newton’s Purrspective – Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease in older cats ( > 10 years). Enlarged thyroid glands produce too much hormone (T3 and T4) causing a metabolic imbalance which leads to severe health issues if untreated. Cornell Feline Health Center – Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Symptoms often include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased water consumption and urination


Isaac Newton

 

Thyroid hormones affect nearly all the organs so these secondary problems are common:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Enlargement of the heart (and heart disease)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Kidney disease (due to the kidneys working overtime as the blood rapidly circulates)

Diagnosis involves feeling Kitty’s throat for enlargement of the thyroid glands and a blood test for thyroid hormone levels. (Please note these symptoms could also indicate diabetes or other problems. That is why the bloodwork is so important.)

The good news is that hyperthyroid disease responds well to current medications. Medications – easier said than done, right? Compounding pharmacies now make tastier pills and chewables. A gel that is applied to the inside of Kitty’s ear has been a lifesaver for cats that hate ALL oral medications (you know who you are).

The two alternative treatments are:

  • Removal of the thyroid glands (which carries a surgical risk)
  • Treatment with radioactive iodine to destroy the abnormal tissue

The latter is quite safe and effective, but may be out of range in most cat lovers’ budgets.

Now that you know the basics about hyperthyroidism symptoms and treatments you are probably wondering how cats get it in the first place. We know that the incidence of feline thyroid disease has increased in the last 30 years. This is likely a combination of awareness and of increased longevity in general. Remember this is a disease of older cats. But can a direct cause be determined? Is it genetic? Is it environmental?

Some researchers are looking at environmental toxins that may also be incorporated into cat foods. Research is just starting to be published. http://www.chicagonow.com/steve-dales-pet-world/2016/01/could-some-cat-food-be-causing-hyperthyroid-disease/ One study found chemicals known to potentially harm humans in certain fish based cat foods. However, to date there is no demonstrated link to feline hyperthyroidism. Additional research is clearly needed.

Environmental toxins are a concern for all of us. You may remember the classic “Silent Spring” which led to banning the poison DDT. A less familiar book “Our Stolen Future” describes how chemicals can mimic hormones in the body. When we discover what causes hyperthyroidism in cats we will also better understand thyroid issues in other species, including humans. Until then our best defense is a good offense.

All cats should have regular checkups. If Kitty has any of the symptoms listed above please see your vet as soon as possible. Catching and treating thyroid problems early can minimize the damage to other organs.

 
 

Healthy Feline Weight and How to Achieve It

Newton’s Purrspective – Healthy Feline Weight

People often complain that they put on extra pounds during the winter. Indoor cats may have the same problem – too many treats and not enough exercise. Although we do not have any incentive to prepare for swimsuit season, being overweight is a problem and can be a serious health concern. Feline obesity can lead to:

  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Joint disease
  • Skin problems
  • Shorter life


Isaac Newton

 

The demands of increased body mass may exceed the body’s ability to produce insulin. Obese cats are 2-4 times more likely to develop diabetes.

The liver is a vital organ that supports nearly every other organ in the body. Excess fat stored in the liver (hepatic lipidosis) decreases liver function and can be life threatening.

Of course, excess weight puts stress on joints. If movement is painful Kitty is even less likely to play and burn off calories.

Overweight cats cannot groom themselves properly. The extra weight makes us less flexible and we just can’t reach all the places that need attention. Consequently we may have dry flaky skin and dull fur, even if we have a high quality diet.

Before starting a weight loss program Kitty should have a complete exam. Weight needs to be taken off slowly and should be done through a combination of diet and exercise. The body can’t cope with rapid release of toxins and certain vitamins stored in fat.

FUN FACT – Did you know that, unlike people, cats must get all their vitamin D from food? It is stored in fat, and blood concentrations of vitamin D can be a predictor of feline health.

Your vet may suggest a special weight loss diet or simply smaller portions of Kitty’s regular high protein food. (Obesity in Cats… and What to do About an Overweight Cat – PetMD) Cats are obligate carnivores. We just don’t have the ability to digest carbohydrates the way people and dogs do. We need protein. Under natural conditions our meals would be small and unpredictable.

In fact – one mouse is the perfect meal for an average sized cat! A typical mouse is made of 20 percent protein, 9 percent fat and lots of moisture.

This is a difficult concept for many humans. Food is equated with love and cats have a way of looking “so hungry” we must need at least a small treat. Free feeding (leaving a full food dish out all day) is the human equivalent of sitting next to a large bag of snack food. Kitty may be eating more due to boredom than because she is hungry. Feeding small meals throughout the day has an added advantage of showing exactly how much is eaten (or not).

Follow your vet’s recommendations for portions and number of feedings per day. Weight should be checked at monthly intervals. Toys are a great way to increase activity — everyone in my family loves Cat Faeries toys. But some cats just aren’t interested in catnip. (It is genetically determined and does not mean anything is wrong.) In that case interactive toys (e.g. feathers on a wand), cat furniture for climbing, or even a playmate may help.

Once Kitty has reached a healthy weight follow your vet’s recommendations for maintenance. (Remember, being too thin is also unhealthy. If your cat is losing weight despite eating normally or has stopped eating do not delay in seeking professional help.) Maintaining a healthy weight is one of the ways to increase the chance of a long and happy life for your cat.


Some advice from your Cat Faerie – how to help a chubby cat in a multi cat household lose weight.

First, free feeding is never a good idea. To prevent over eating cats should have two meals a day. Breakfast and dinner. Each cat should have their own food bowl spread out to allow for space between the cats.

Tell your vet how much the plump cat weighs. Ask what the ideal weight for that particular cat is. Ask the vet how many calories a day the cat needs to slowly (and we do mean slowly, quick weight loss leads to liver failure in cats) drop the weight. Ask your vet for a realistic time frame for the weight to come off safely. Call the cat food company and ask how many calories are in the food, so you know exactly how much to measure.

For a chubby cat who needs to lose a few pounds we’ve created a very successful method ~ you will feed that cat in a room separately from the other cats with the door shut. To make this even better – split that cat’s food portion into TWO BOWLS! The cat will be overjoyed first because of the special room but also thinking it’s twice as much food because it’s in two bowls! Allow 20 minutes for all of the cats to eat. Collect the food bowls of the cats in the kitchen first, then the bowl of the cat who’s behind a closed door and let the cat out. Wash in hot soapy water to remove food bits and bio film.

 
 
 

Cat Video: Clever Commercial About Cats and Second Hand Smoke

This could be the best cat video ever because it’s ultra-creative and has a very powerful message. It’s hard to believe that people still smoke cigarettes. Stinky poo! And it’s hurting cats! If you smoke around your cats please stop – save the money you spend for cat toys and supporting cat shelters! Cats everywhere will thank you!

Over two million views!

 
 

Scented kitty litter: Possible cause of litter box avoidance, obesity, and feline diabetes.

If you use scented cat litter do you notice that your cat is in and out of the box with lightening speed, often not sticking around long enough to bury?

Cats hate artificial smells in litter especially if the litter box has a hood which holds in all smells creating a hostile peeing/pooping environment! We know from our customers that many of their cats refuse to use scented litters and will do their business outside of the box. Naughty Kitty? Or is your cat telling you something? Perhaps something like this: “Fake fragrance stinks, it’s not a bed of roses and it’s not good for my health or yours!” Smart Kitty!

Since we began Cat Faeries in 1993 we have been on a crusade to not only better the lives of cats, but for all, and that includes our crusade against toxic “parfum” and “fragrance.” Artificial fragrance is not a single ingredient, rather it’s a brew of often hundreds of chemicals, the names of which are not required by law to be listed by the manufacturer. Many of the man-made chemicals used in fragrance or perfume are known carcinogens.

Most perfumes hawked by celebrities and cosmetic companies do not contain any real flower aromas and probably have not since the 1920’s, when chemists figured out how to mimic the scent of flowers synthetically. Your brain is tricked into thinking these chemicals smell pretty. Or if you are like a growing number of people who are so chemical intolerant that rather than smell a pretty scent they, like me, only smell the chemicals. Your cat also smells just the chemicals.

Do perfumes give you a headache? Make your lips and tongue swell? Leave a bad taste in your mouth that takes hours to go away? Burn your eyes or make eyes water? Do you experience brain fog? Does perfume make you cough? Trigger asthma? Does your cat have a persistent cough or asthma? Does your cat sneeze after a trip to the litter box? Does your cat steer clear of scented candles and plug-ins that give off fragrance? If your cat has breathing difficulties it’s very possible that the root cause is at least partly from fragrance.

Some of the diseases or conditions linked to fragrance:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Autism in humans
  • Hormone disruption
  • Obesity
  • Brain fog
  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Asthma
  • And it’s downright dictatorial – why should anyone be subjected to inhaling and smelling something they didn’t ask for or that they don’t like?

“Stink! The Movie!”

Video on Demand beginning today, February 16, 2016

When former virtual reality techie turned filmmaker Jon J. Whelan brought home new pajamas for his kids and noticed they smelled weird he began to investigate what the smell was and why it was there. You might say that when he asked questions he smelled a rat! His digging and frustration lead to “Stink! The Movie,” his award winning expose’ about fragrance and the complex insidiously scented rabbit hole chemical companies created. And that the government allows us to be exposed to.

Watch the trailer here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICN52Uzoo0I

This will take you to the director’s blog for some really good articles.

https://stinkmovie.com/news/

This will take you to his Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/StinkMovie/

Perfume – The New Second Hand Smoke

About 20 years ago we began hearing people say that fragrance is the new second hand smoke and that like cigarettes perfume should be banned in all work places and public places. This may seem extreme, but it really isn’t when you become aware of how it affects you, your cat, and other people. Here blogger Danny Seo discusses this topic.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-seo/is-perfume-the-new-second_b_503114.html

Can I find a safe or natural perfume?

Sure, if you look hard enough you can find natural perfumers. You can go to France and buy perfumes that might be closer to nature. But even these scents can cause illness or other reactions to other people (and your cats, they just can’t tell you). It’s hard for anyone to know just how “natural” is natural. Remember when great great grandma put a drop of vanilla extract behind her ears? Not a bad idea! Smelling like a cookie is far better than smelling like chemicals!

What is Cat Faeries favorite kitty litter?

We currently use OKO Cat clumping wood based cat litter. Our 4 cats love it. We love it because it does not have toxic chemical smell, and it holds in the smells of cat urine quite nicely. It’s easy to scoop too.

Your local independent cat supply shop can order it for you. Read about it here: https://www.healthy-pet.com/okocat

 
 

Petting shelter cats might be better than therapy!

Many years ago I decided it might be fun and rewarding to volunteer at a local shelter as a “cat socializer.” The job of a cat socializer is to spend time with a cat one-on-one. Sometimes the cats just sleep when you sit with them. Some of them try to hide. Sometimes your visit prompts them to groom or eat. Some cats want to be brushed, some don’t. Some cats love being petted and some need you to back off and let them come to you. Some of those cats don’t trust humans so this quiet and gentle time is vital and allows them to overcome fear, adapt to people, heal from emotional abuse, and become friendly towards people. I saw most of the cats come out of their shell and shine.

During our orientation the leader said that working with cats can be like therapy. She related a story of a lonely and mistreated teenage girl who reported that she could tell the cats all of her problems and worries. She could cry into their fur. They’d look her in the eye and give love right back to her. Eventually she felt that everything would be ok and she overcame her past. She was as much a therapist for the cats as they were for her.

Being a cat socializer was truly rewarding, and certainly more fun than therapy! Just stroking them, talking to them about nothing in particular, feeling protective of them, and watching them blossom was doing me as much good as I was doing for the cats. It was almost meditative and Zen like sitting on the floor while letting a cat take all the time needed to approach me. They’d slowly check me out, sniff at my shoes, purr at me, meow at me, rub against me, all those darling things that cats do. There were no rules about how much time I could spend with each cat and I loved that. The quiet time was priceless for me. I found that hanging out and being silent was very meditative and problem solving. I left floating on air, my troubles dissolved, and I was ready to face anything.

When you look for a shelter talk to other volunteers and ask if the shelter’s paid staff treat their volunteers like the pieces of gold that they are, or if they are treated like they are a dime a dozen. Sadly I found that many of the volunteers, myself included, seemed to threaten the status quo with our enthusiasm and new ideas. This shelter was highly political with much game playing, back stabbing, and broken promises. They had a total disregard for the volunteer’s enthusiasm and time.

But don’t let that stop you because great shelters are there, and they want and need you. Once you find the right one dive right in. The time and effort that you generously give will come back to you in the form of peace and courage, as well as a deep satisfaction. You’ll see cat after cat find a good home. I still remember the names and faces of my favorite shelter cats just as I remember some of the beautiful people who adopted them.

Pet cats. Feel good. Get perspective on your troubles and cares. Let the love inside of you flow to the lucky felines who get to have you in their presence. They’ll become your feline therapists.