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.

 
 

What is a “Foster Failure?” Might you be such a failure? (hee hee!)

“Foster Failure” sure sounds like someone who fostered a cat and didn’t do a good job of it, doesn’t it! January 2016 is all about celebrating the shelter cats which our customers and friends have adopted – every day we post a photo and a story to Facebook. Early in the month we noticed that a few people called themselves a foster failure. We thought we’d heard everything, but not this so we had to ask! It’s not that they did a bad job, in fact, they did a great job! They just fell in love and kept the cat! What was to have been “temporary” housing and care turned into a forever home.

 
 

Cats and Vitamin D

We’ve all read articles that we modern people are deficient in disease preventing Vitamin D. Mostly because we just don’t get out and enjoy the outdoors like we used to allowing sunshine and it’s Vitamin D to enter our bodies through our skin and eyes, especially during the early morning. Could it be that our modern housecats are deficient as well? We asked Issac Newton, feline journalist and cat about town who knows everything to chime in! Read the article, then have a quick 10 minute sunshine bath, outside, glasses off, no sleeves!


Newton’s Purrspective – Cats and Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps regulate mineral metabolism, including calcium balance, making it essential for strong bones and teeth. It is called the “sunshine vitamin” because ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ You may ask, “Is this why my cat enjoys sleeping in the sun so much?” Actually, no. We just love being warm. (purr purr) Because of our beautiful fur we are not designed to process Vitamin D this way. We need to get it from our food.


Isaac Newton
 
 

In the wild our natural prey provides all the nutrients we need. Housecats must rely on a balanced diet provided by humans, and a good quality commercial food is often all we need. Vitamin D deficiency is extremely rare in cats. However, since Vitamin D is stored in body fat excessive consumption could lead to toxicity. Surprisingly, the most common source of toxicity is a chemical used to kill rodents. http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/toxicity/c_ct_vitamin_d_toxicity High levels of Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)) increase the calcium circulating in blood to toxic levels.

Clinical signs include:

One last meow on commercial cat food. If you are feeding dry food alone be sure Kitty has plenty of fresh water. Fatty acids are added to the food, but may not be sufficient to maintain healthy skin and fur. Choose a high quality supplement such as Cat Faeries’ ProNova Fish Oil which is free of environmental toxins.

 
 

Cat and Dog-Safe Ways to Keep Your Christmas Tree Fresh

Commercial Christmas tree preservatives which are added to the water in a tree stand can be toxic to a cat or dog who might drink the water. We found a lot of DIY recipes for preservatives but they aren’t much better – you do not want your cat drinking sugar and bleach, or water that has copper pennies in it.

Penn State College of Agriculture has this to say about keeping your Christmas tree fresh – they tell us what works and what doesn’t.
http://ento.psu.edu/extension/christmas-trees/cultural-information/caring-for-your-cut-christmas-tree

 
 

Sick Abandoned Kitten Becomes Big Handsome Fluff Ball!

See what happens to a kitten that was injured, abandoned and a mess… see what good food and love and care can do? The formerly skinny and sickly kitten is now a big fluff ball!

You can read more here…

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3344557/Sick-scrawny-kitten-abandoned-road-rescued-Florida-family-remarkable-recovery-earns-online-fame.html

His Instagram page is here… https://www.instagram.com/sir_silas_kitty/

Silas was found by a Florida family by the side of the road. He was sick, starving and homeless. They nursed him back to health. Look at the handsome boy he became because of their love and care!

 
 

Cats Go Bionic with Prosthetics

Newton’s Purrspective – Bionic Cats

Although it was before my time, some of you humans may remember the $6 Million Dollar Man (Steve Austin) and the Bionic Woman (Jaime Sommers) on TV. Both these characters had serious injuries and science turned them into super heroes. In the real world, however, people who lose arms or legs may get prosthetics which, at most, restore their independence. Until recently cats have not been so lucky. If we lose one leg in an accident we can still get by quite well with three. The loss of two legs is much more challenging, but some cats do adapt to wheelchairs. http://www.lifewithcats.tv/tag/wheeled-cart/

Cats have a terrific sense of balance so kittens born without front or even back legs can adapt to the disability. But could their lives be improved by prosthetic limbs?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/pets/11635624/How-an-adorable-bunny-cat-with-only-two-legs-became-an-Instagram-celebrity.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GZw3nugUJU


Isaac Newton

Learning to use a prosthetic is not easy for a person, so imagine trying to explain to Kitty why you are strapping on a set of mechanical legs. When Oscar the cat lost both back feet in a 2009 farming accident his family feared there was no hope for him. Fortunately, a vet in England was willing to try a pioneering surgery. Oscar became famous as the first animal in the world to receive surgically implanted prosthetic feet. Titanium rods were inserted into his bones and are kept in place by the tissue growing around them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqUEraHGHvI The feet can be detached (they wear out since he is very active) and over the years have been modified to achieve more natural mobility. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LUhOKRKksCU

More recently a similar surgery was done on a cat in Iowa. Vincent, who was likely born without complete hind legs, was rescued by a shelter worker. Staff at Iowa State University Veterinary Hospital did implant surgery similar to Oscar’s. http://amestrib.com/news/cat-walking-prosthetic-legs-after-isu-veterinary-hospital-treatment Despite the risk of infection inherent in the surgery his prognosis is good.

The procedure is still uncommon, partially due to the cost. However, the success with animals is paving the way for US approval of bone anchored prosthetics for humans.

And this brings me back to the TV science fiction bionics. Did you know there was a bionic dog on the show? His experimental bionic surgery was the basis for using the techniques on Steve and Jaime! When Max becomes ill Jaime saves his life and adopts him. I love happy endings, don’t you?