Advice for long car trips with cats

This is a question and answer email exchange that we recently had with a customer. We thought we’d share it with you in the event that you might need to travel or move with cats in a car.

Teri Our Customer: You’ve been so very helpful to me and how to care for litter box problems, etc. – so I am turning to you again for some assistance. I am preparing to move and I would like to get a plan for my three cats. We will need to be in a car for 8 hours. I’m trying to get a plan in my mind so I can get supplies needed within the next several months. I need to budget for this. Would appreciate your kind suggestions and helpful hints to make this trip as easy as possible for my cats and myself.

Cat Faeries: Congratulations on a big move! Will you be the only adult human in the car? If so, when you stop to pee or eat you must keep your eye on the car at all times – we’ve heard tragic stories of cars and campers being stolen with cats inside! Be cautious at rest stops and gas stations. Cars and campers have even been stolen in parking lots with meters. If you are with another adult, one of you should remain in the car or stand outside of it while the other runs the errand.

Teri: I’ll probably be alone. What should I do when I need to use the facilities?

Cat Faeries: Check this out! http://www.go-girl.com/ We know someone who has one (she’s MAJOR phobic about public toilets) and she likes it. She sort of enjoys telling people she can pee while standing! You’ll want to practice in advance as it takes a bit of getting used to.

Teri: I have good size kennel/carriers for each cat and I saw that you have pads.

Cat Faeries: The waterproof pads are great. Pre wash them to soften them up a bit (they’ll absorb better). Double them up so that if the top layer is soiled you can quickly remove it and there’s a clean layer below. However, even if the pad has been urinated on, it should dry, and you may find that leaving the cats undisturbed in the carrier/kennels is best for all of you. The pads can be quickly and easily folded to fit inside the carrier/kennel.

Teri: Would I use the Feliway to spray my car and in the kennels?

Cat Faeries: Yes, that would be ideal. You’d spray the pads 15 minutes before you place the pads and the cats in the carriers/kennels. Give each pad 4 squirts. After a few hours, when you stop the car to freshen up you can spray it in the air towards where the cats are kenneled.

Teri: I am concerned with their peeing, etc. due to the long hours traveling.

Cat Faeries: They will pee at some point, and they may poop, although they may hold that one. Invest in a smallish litter box for each carrier/kennel. You don’t need to put as much litter in them as you do at home. We don’t want to see soiled cat litter flying around the car if you need to brake hard and fast!

Lastly, music is really important because the right music can be very calming to you and the cats. We recommend avoiding talk radio, rap, 80’s metal, and loud banging anything. If your vehicle doesn’t have a CD player or if you don’t have something like an iPod – sing! Even if you sound like a flock of crows, sing anyway. It will keep you awake and alert, and the cats will enjoy hearing your voice. Can’t remember the lyrics? Go through the alphabet and sing the name a vegetable for each letter (A = asparagus, B = broccoli etc). It’s a fun thing to do during any mundane task, like doing dishes. After you’ve done vegetables come up with old fashioned people names which you think would be cool for a cat and sing those!

Drive carefully, and let us know when you’ve arrived in your new home!

Newton’s Purr-spective – When grooming gets out of control

One of the most frustrating feline medical conditions is when our cats over groom, or self-barber. This means they are licking or biting at their fur until bald spots form, and in severe cases bleeding. We’ve tried, and failed at, creating a flower essence formula that would work for all cats who do this. Veterinarians give out drugs but from what customers tell us, they don’t work and in some cases can make it worse. And most people don’t like giving their cats drugs like this, which we understand completely.

We once had a bunny who did this. It was when we gave her less freedom and confined her to her cage more than letting her roam with the other rabbits, she stopped barbering and her fur started to grow back. I’ve never forgotten that and wondered how something like this could help cats.

Recently we received a photo from someone who wanted us to post her cat to Facebook and Pinterest. The cat was wearing a shirt and the person who submitted it said the cat wears it to help with his anxiety.

From Kelly: “This is Roger. You will usually find him wearing some sort of shirt every day. It helps him a little bit with his anxiety issues. Roger found me when he was about a year old. He was living in my neighbor’s back yard. He is now almost 9 years old.”

We assumed that the snugness of made the cat feel secure much like Holly the bunny felt so secure being in her cage rather than being free ranging and thus the self-barbering could stop.

Snugness. There are therapies for children and adults with blankets and hugging that help a variety of emotional conditions, so why not a sweater or a jacket for a cat!

This was such a fascinating theory and solution that we asked our feline friend Newton (who knows everything) to investigate. And this is what he discovered – including a jacket that you can purchase for a cat who’s going overboard with grooming.



Fellow cats: Have you ever heard your person say, “I was so upset I was pulling my hair out”? Hmmm. It sounds rather painful and I can’t imagine it would solve any problems. But people do say strange things when they are angry or stressed. Although we don’t have the pressure of bringing home a paycheck cats get stressed too. By nature we are curious and enjoy intellectual stimulation, but we do value the comfort of basic routines in our daily lives. Change that persists longer than a visit to the vet can really upset our emotional balance.

Examples of stressful situations range from a change in kitty litter to moving across country. A new addition to the family (animal or person) or loss of a beloved companion also increase stress and anxiety.

When we are kittens our birth mom licks and cleans us and makes us feel safe. As adults we find our daily cleaning ritual soothing. It stands to reason that under stress we would groom ourselves to ease anxiety. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing can lead to hair loss as the follicles break. Licking the unprotected skin can then cause sores and infections. Since licking is our natural response to heal a wound a vicious circle starts and continues until the stress is alleviated. http://cats.about.com/od/behaviortraining/a/catover-grooming.htm

The pet parent is generally unaware of the damage Fluffy is doing to herself until it is painfully obvious. Stressed cats often hide and do their excessive grooming in private. This is one reason to do regular exams on all your cats to detect problems in their early stages. What should be done if hair loss is discovered?

1. Rule out potential health issues such as skin diseases, parasites or allergies.

2. Determine the source of the stress.

3. Modify the environment to reduce or eliminate the stress.

Well known stress relievers include Feliway® http://www.catfaeries.com/feliway.html, flower essences http://www.catfaeries.com/essences.html, calming music http://www.catfaeries.com/music-for-cats.html, and environmental enrichment.

Another nonpharmaceutical therapy (for animals and people) now widely used is touch. Here are some examples I’ve been reading about.

The Tellington TTouch® has been helping animals and people with anxiety since it was developed in the 1970’s. http://www.ttouch.com/whatisTTouch.shtml

The centuries old practice of wrapping fussy infants in swaddling cloths is still practiced today. Some say the pressure simulates the comfort of being safe in the womb.

Pressure and weighted vests help relieve anxiety in autistic people.

The ThundershirtTM, now available for dogs and cats, exerts gentle pressure to the torso to relieve anxiety. The exact therapeutic mechanism is currently unknown. However, good results have been achieved. http://www.thundershirt.com/Product/ThundershirtForCats.aspx?item_guid=04a62476-dd84-4c67-ae9b-83f2fb67db81

“Wait a minute”, you say. “A shirt on my cat? I’ve been dressing Tiger up as an elf for holiday photos for years and he is definitely NOT relaxed and smiling.”

True, the idea of using pressure to calm cats is relatively new. Many veterinary clinics use a technique called the “kitty burrito”. A nervous cat is firmly wrapped in a towel for examination of a small exposed part. Clothing a cat would wear on a frequent or daily basis is harder to imagine. Actually, the term “shirt” is a bit misleading. The ThundershirtTM looks more like a thin lifevest.

Cats are more sensitive to touch than dogs. The first time wearing the shirt they may freeze or even lie still on their sides. As with any new thing Fluffy needs a gradual period of adjustment to different sensations.

No single method is guaranteed and you may find that a combination is required. Patience and experimentation with the examples I’ve given will help you to discover what works best to reduce Fluffy’s anxiety and restore her fur coat.

You can’t know too much about Anti Icky Poo! A Q&A.

Here is an interesting Q & A between Cat Faeries and a customer which we think you’d like to read. We’ve edited it a bit here and there.

Question: For clean up, I have used vinegar with water spray. A “natural” spray cleaner from a conglomerate chain store. I’ve also used ammonia in a spray bottle.

Answer: OH NO! Ammonia is the worst! And this is why: Cat urine, in fact all urine from any species, has an ammonia like quality. Our housecats instinctively seek out the smell of ammonia, which ideally is only detected in the litter boxes. This tells the cat: “it’s ok to pee here! This is where we cats are to urinate.”

What you accidently did was spread the smell of ammonia around your home! But don’t feel bad or beat yourself up, today is a new day, we begin anew! We will conquer this problem together!

Vinegar does nothing other than in the short run it’s nice to clean up a fresh puddle. But it will not eradicate the smell or the urine proteins and gases, or that ammonia.

That’s why it’s imperative to use a product like Anti Icky Poo which does not mask the odor, but actually eats urine’s proteins and gases, thus eradicating it completely.

Q: The peeing and spraying is happening in living room, kitchen, dining area, pantry, and porch. A few spots in each room- example, the fire hearth, in front of refrigerator door, by dog treat bin in pantry, on treadmill. Since I’ve got cat urine all over my home, and I’ve probably put the smell of ammonia throughout my house too, what can I do?

A: Do you recall how in your Feliway handout we talk about using it in each room “here and there”?
You are going to do something similar with Anti Icky Poo – PLUS – use it on the spots that you know have been hit. These are methods that we created based on our many years of experience.

The reason for Here and There with Anti Icky Poo is that when we suspect that there is urine in places you don’t know about we want to cover our bases.

When a cat sprays they do one of two things:

  • They empty their tank on one surface or wall
  • They can spray little drops or a fine mist on multiple things to claim the entire house or garden as IT”S MINE! Therefore it could be worse than your nose tells you.

Go through your home with your bottle of Anti Icky Poo with the sprayer intact. Approach a variety of surfaces and objects and give a fine baby misting of Anti Icky Poo “here and there.” Do this for a few days. After a few days this should de-stink and allow you to reclaim your home!

Q: They both used the litter boxes until old cat passed, and now young female won’t always let other old male on the porch to use litter boxes.

A: When an older cat dies it’s always best to get new litter boxes. There could be lingering smells. A good example is the awful smell of impending death when an old cat is ready to pass. This can freak out any remaining animals “I could be next!” And this can be the trigger for spraying or not urinating in a litter box.

A point we always like to make about why we don’t like having multiple litter boxes throughout a house, particularly a smaller house. When boxes are scattered throughout a house the smell of ammonia is in every room that a box is in. This tells the cat it’s ok to deposit urine in multiple rooms, and the sight of litter boxes everywhere and the odor cannot be pleasant for you! Cats don’t avoid their litter box because they are too lazy to walk over to where the boxes are.

Q: The flooring of our home is completely tiled and they have urinated on it.

A: You are very lucky to have such wonderful floors! My dad was a tile setter so I grew up with tile floors. Urine can penetrate the grout especially if it’s modern grout as opposed to 1960’s grout which was indestructible. Probably a few days of treating the tile with Anti Icky Poo will eradicate any urine which may have penetrated the tiles or grout.

Q: I was confusing the flower essences for essential oils – sorry! How many drops per gallon of water? We change the water twice a day, but we need to use big water bowl because big dog drinks a lot.

A: Most people have smaller water bowls and we suggest 3 to 5 drops. For your big bowl start with 5 drops for the gallon. You may need a few more drops. In addition to adding drops to the water bowl rub some on her head, ears, back when you have the time.

Shocking Tests Reveal Toxins in Cat & Dog Food

For several months we’ve been on pins and needles awaiting the results of the findings from 12 very well known brands of cat and dog foods, including a few so-called prescription foods. These are all brands you’ve heard of, and some of them are brands many assume are the good ones for our cats.

The testing was sponsored by and paid for by the members of the Association for Truth in Pet Food (ATPF), in other words, concerned consumers like you and me who donated money to fund this project. ATPF was founded by pet food advocate Susan Thixton.

The qualifications of the people running the tests include: veterinary nutritionists and forensic scientists.

Does the word “Mycotoxin” scare you? Us too! The foods tested had varying levels of Mycotoxins in them.

Have you heard of group of bacteria called Acinetobacter? We learned that this bacteria is responsible for approximately 500 human deaths a year. You will see that this bacteria was found in 8 of the 12 pet foods tested! And it gets worse: for humans Acinetobacter is 63% multi drug resistant. We are going to wonder out loud for a moment: could some of these human deaths be linked to the handling or eating tainted cat/dog food?

If it’s a threat to human health then why are these toxins ending up in cat and dog food?

Read more:

http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/8/1254.full

http://www.cdc.gov/HAI/organisms/acinetobacter.html

We are paying the FDA and state department of agriculture One Billion Dollars annually nationwide to conduct testing yet they claim they don’t have enough money to test for toxins in cat and dog food!

Susan Thixton from ATPF will attempt to meet with the FDA in a week to challenge them on these topics and more. If she’s successful we’ll report back to you with the outcome.

Angry? Here’s what you can do today. Call and write to your Congresspersons. Call and write to officials at the local level. If we do not demand change, insist that laws be put in place, and force better enforcement of those laws nothing will improve. Don’t just contact the manufacturers – they may only change if laws which make this illegal are in place.

The test results which you are going to see should embarrass the regulatory officials because it proves that they are not doing their jobs.

This link will take you the very lengthy and disturbing test results.

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/the-pet-food-test-results/

Avoid these indoor holiday plants that are potentially lethal to cats!

Poinsettias, mistletoe and lilies – these are but a few of the indoor house plants that are toxic to cats! Here’s a complete list of cat-unfriendly houseplants.

http://user.xmission.com/~emailbox/plants.htm

Bringing flowers to a home with cats? Roses are a good choice BUT they should be grown locally, and better yet, they should be grown organically!

Why is organic important? Most roses sold in the U.S. come from Colombia or Ecuador where they are grown in greenhouses which use a shocking amount of pesticides.

Read more about the toxins in Colombian and Ecuadoran roses here:

http://www.organicbouquet.com/i_504/msnbc-article-roses.html

Where to find organic or fair trade flowers:

Newton’s purr-spective on pilling a cat

Two weeks ago we wrote a story about alternatives to pilling our cats. If you missed that article, here is it is – Non-pill medication for cats from Koshland Pharm, the compounding pharmacy we endorse.

Our contributor, Newton, is a very smart cat and always has something to say. This is a topic near and dear to his kitty-heart! Here’s what Newton has to say about medication.



Newton’s Purr-spective – Medications



Let’s start this column with a quick survey for you cats. Here’s the situation. You go to the vet and the doctor prescribes medication. Choose from the following:

A. a pill
B. a capsule
C. a liquid
D. an injection
E. something else please!!!

I know you all skipped to E, and I don’t blame you. In fact, I’m a huge fan of “something else” – compounding pharmacies that make medicine easier to take. I know I look very cool, but I do stress out when it comes to pills. Cat Faeries recently posted an excellent article which includes the benefits of compounded medication plus a guide to choosing the right compounding pharmacy. http://www.catfaeries.com/blog/non-pill-medication-for-cats-from-koshland-pharm-the-compounding-pharmacy-we-endorse/
Although the list of available medications is growing, not all prescriptions can, or should be compounded. http://www.catfaeries.com/images/newsletter/2014-11-18/Veterinary-Transdermal-Medications-IJPC.pdf

I can testify that my flavored medication is quite tasty. But there are still those of us who are, and will remain, Finicky Felines. This group will likely face the first 4 options.

A. There are many jokes about “how to pill a cat” (usually pages long), but it is truly not a laughing matter. No matter what technique a pet parent uses there is one simple rule. The key to getting the pill into the cat is getting it on the back of the tongue so Kitty swallows, rather than spitting it out. Some people find that a “pill popper” is helpful, especially if they have large fingers. A subsequent dropper of water (plastic only!) will prevent the dry pill from getting stuck. Wrapping Kitty in a towel (aka the kitty burrito) can be calming and reduce injuries.

B. If a medication is particularly bad tasting it may come in a capsule. Here correct positioning on the tongue is even more important than with a pill. Muffin, a friend of mine, accidentally bit into a gelatin capsule of bitter medicine. To make matters worse, it got stuck on her tooth! Needless to say, this was a most unpleasant experience for all.

C. After a bad experience cats demonstrate that they have jaws of steel which will open for nothing. Pet parents may then choose liquid medication. The important requirement is to get the dropper inside the cat’s cheek and administer slowly enough to give Kitty time to swallow. However, can someone please tell me who decided cats are partial to banana or bubblegum flavored antibiotics? My older brother, Indiana Jones, would gag just at the sight of the bottle! Right now I only know of one common cat friendly antibiotic liquid available directly from your veterinarian.

D. There is one injectable antibiotic popular for hard to medicate cats. OK, it involves a small needle – BUT – the shot lasts a full 2 weeks. It isn’t safe for everyone. The manufacturer cautions against use in patients with allergies to penicillins or cephalosporins. https://www.zoetisus.com/products/convenia/pages/convenia.aspx However, clinical trials documented the safety of Convenia in the general cat population. https://www.zoetisus.com/products/convenia/documents/convenia_pi.pdf Any drug has the possibility of causing adverse effects. Once the shot is given you can’t “take it back”. so this method should not be used without careful evaluation of alternatives.

What you choose will depend on availability and on the dosing frequency required. For example, deworming medication may be given only once (with a followup dose in 7-10 days), while antibiotics generally require a full 10-14 day regime. A single dose may be relatively easy to administer. But even a compliant cat may become weary after a week of twice a day medication. Life saving medication for chronic diseases (e.g. hyperthyroidism) involves other considerations. Transdermal methimazole for hyperthyroid cats is often the preferred treatment option.

Remember, the most important thing is your cat’s health. Work with your veterinarian to find the best method available for making sure Kitty gets the full benefit of prescribed medication.