How music affects our cats

By Cheryl Christine (composer of the CD Mood Music for Cats (and Cat Lovers): A Ball of Twine sold on Cat Faeries)

I recently read an article by Charles Snowden, a professor of clinical psychology at UW Madison, and the lead author on a new study of the effect of music on cats. He took his music and his team to homes with cats to test their reactions to the ranges, tempos and sounds. Then he played classical music, and found the felines responded more favorably to his specialized cat music.

Snowden seemed to suggest in his article that it’s “us” humans who pick out the music for our pets and assume they are going to like it. He states most studies don’t offer any concrete evidence as to what the effects of music are on animals and hopes to close the gap with more facts through his research.

I am a professional singer, songwriter and performer for over forty years – and I love animals! I have also done a study on the effect of music on cats – at a local animal shelter. I composed music of different instruments, ranges, tempos and sounds. I played my music in the cat room where 15 to 20 cats awaited adoption. (These were abandoned, or abused cats.) I also played classical and country music to see if there was a difference in the response from the cats. The study went on almost daily over a three year period and I found the felines responded more positively toward the music I composed. They actually gathered near the speaker!

I agree with professor Snowden that more research on the effects of music on animals needs to be done. I also know this…music has profound effects on the brain which in turn affects mood and behavior. We humans place a lot of our own emotions onto our beloved pets, which is why we think they’ll love a certain kind of music when we leave the house. That’s understandable. Mood Music for Cats (and Cat Lovers) isn’t “clinical” research music, however it offers specific benefits for calming and relaxing through ranges of tones and instruments that are pleasing to the ear for both humans and felines. Sure, I use catchy song titles such as “Tuna Sonata” or “Catatonia” because I like to keep things light and fun! But the music has been tried and true and cats seem to love it!


Here’s what a Cat Faeries customer told us about the music from Mood Music for Cats (and Cat Lovers): A Ball of Twine.

Dear Cat Faeries,

I recently adopted a shelter cat who had been mistreated. My new cat had been hiding in the closet, terrified of her new surroundings. The closet is in the same room that my computer is in. I found your website and I found A Ball of Twine, and saw that I could press a key to listen to a sample. I kept hitting the key and playing the sample over and over. After a few minutes my new cat ventured out of the closet ready to explore her new home! Thank you!

Updated – Revealing crash test video shows what happens to animals being transported incorrectly

(Updated)

At one time I would put the carrier either on the front seat of the Cat Faerie Mobile (a 2006 Prius) or the back seat and thread the seat belt through the handle of the carrier and lock it thinking that if I was in an accident the cat in the carrier would be perfectly safe. I assumed that it would not jerk or fly, that it would stay in place. It seemed so logical! But was I ever wrong! In these videos and photos you’ll see what happens to the seat belt at the moment of impact! It is shocking.

One video is in German but you don’t need to understand it to see what happens in crash tests, the visuals say it all. The other is in English. Both also cover transporting dogs safely.

As you will learn the best way to transport your cat is in a carrier placed on the floor of the back seat wedged between the back seat and front seat. This video is suitable for people of all ages, there isn’t anything scary or tragic, it’s 100% crash tests with dummies and mannequins.

You can see the individual test videos for the carriers, crates, and harnesses from the above tests here.

A Remarkable Story About a Cat Victim of the Lake County Fire

You probably know that Cat Faeries is located in San Francisco and that currently in Northern California there are two major fires which are destroying thousands of acres of land, burning homes and businesses, and displacing or injuring many animals. These animals range from cats, dogs and other domestics, to horses, cattle, and wild animals. One of the two California fires is in Lake County which is about 2 hours north of us – Lake County is the poorest County in the state.

While we were looking into where we can donate items and money we heard a remarkable story from Sebastopol based photographer Heather Wakefield about a severely burnt cat who was rescued by firefighters. The cat was found in the driveway at 19554 Highway 175, in Middleton, and was taken to Wasson Memorial Hospital. When the cat first arrived it appeared that the cat might lose his eyes but with treatment and round the clock care he’s improving daily and he’s begun to purr and rub his chin for the techs and doctors.

You might wonder why one of the places we are donating to is a for-profit vet hospital. Wasson Memorial is a very unique. They will not let the extreme poverty level keep locals from getting their animal’s medical care. They don’t turn away people who can’t pay; they believe that it can be worked out somehow. Dr. Cannon and Dr. Holmes are deeply committed to their community and created a special fund for the animals at their local Animal Control. You can read about the fund here: http://www.wassonmemorialvetclinic.com/donationfunds.html

We are very impressed that Wasson Memorial is boarding cats who have lost their homes from the fire or who have been found wandering, and they are doing this free of charge. They know that the people in their community who had very little to begin with now have nothing, including their homes which could mean they will never be with their beloved animals again. We are donating to Wasson Memorial because we believe that compassion before cash deserves to be supported.

As of today the fire is only 15% contained. Over 65,000 acres have burnt in that one fire alone. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed leaving thousands of people and their animal homeless. The town of Middleton is completely gone, every structure burnt to the ground.

If you have any information about the owners of this cat call 707-263-5380.

At Cat Faeries we feel very blessed – we’ve got the best customers! And we believe in philanthropy. We are in the process of getting more supplies to help cats and other animals (and people too!) where they are needed most – this is why you shop with Cat Faeries: 1% of our sales go to rescue efforts. In time of disasters like the two fires we order and pay for various supplies to feed and care for cats and other animals.

We’ve hidden the photos of one burnt cat behind this link to the Wasson Memorial Facebook page so that our readers who are children or very sensitive adults won’t have to see them unless they choose too. The photos are dramatic, but the good news is that the cat is getting better every day.

Your cat’s water bowl – do you know about biofilm?

Have you ever rubbed your fingers on the inside of your cat’s water bowl and felt a bit of goo or slime on the sides? What you are feeling is called biofilm.

Biofilm provides a cozy environment for organisms including E. coli, listeria, and legionella. When biofilm is not removed on a daily basis biofilm acts as an attractant for all kinds of bacteria and provides a nice comfy home for them to breed and multiply, and cause weakened immunity and disease. Think of biofilm as a living entity waiting to wreak havoc.

Keep biofilm out of your cat’s water and food bowls – wash them daily.

For water bowls:

Dump the left over water into a bucket for your garden along with other reusable water from the kitchen. Wash the bowl with hot water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Rinse and refill with filtered water.

For food bowls:

Even if you feed your cat dry crunchies don’t keep refilling the bowl. You must use a fresh clean bowl for each meal time because the oils from the food and saliva mix together to create a particularly nasty bio film and the oils go rancid (rancid oil is a cancer cell’s friend – cancer feeds on rancid oil and sugars). Keep a rotation of cat food bowls handy so that the time spent preparing their food is shortened for you. Soiled bowls go in the dishwasher or are washed by hand in hot soapy water.

We have 4 cats and we have 12 Pyrex bowls which we rotate at each meal. They are either washed by hand or go in the dishwasher at night.

The bowls we recommend for both food and water – clear Pyrex glass which allows you to see food particles, and they are very easy to clean. We love that they are dishwasher safe. You do not need to worry about the glass being toxic because Pyrex is made in the US.

Does your cat (or you!) have a chronic infection? Is your cat prone to bladder infection, urinary tract infections, ear infections, and other microbial / bacterial conditions? Biofilm in the water and food bowl could be the cause. By simply washing thoroughly you’ll save money on vet bills and you’ll keep your cat healthy for a long happy life with you.

More reading about biofilm:

A good definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biofilm

About biofilm and infections: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23635385

Keeping your home biofilm free (as much as possible given that few of us are perfect little housekeepers!)

Biofilm also clings to our walls and items in our homes. Before it sounds like we are paranoid neat-freaks (which we are not, Madam Cat Faerie did not get the Martha Stewart gene) let us say that it’s good to be exposed to a certain amount of dirt and other crud. It’s good for the immunity and microbiome of any species. But we don’t’ want to be living in an environment that compromises anyone’s health.

One area of the house where we all should be concerned about is where the litter boxes are. That’s why we like keeping litter boxes in one area to create a cat-friendly litter box latrine area. The powders and dusts from cat litter can cling to the walls and other surfaces around the litter boxes. It’s important to wash down those walls. How often? If there are unhealthy people and animals in your home: weekly. Otherwise every 2 to 4 weeks will help tremendously.

Hot water and a washable terrycloth rag work wonders! They are free of cost and non-toxic.

Cats and Water (this isn’t what you think)

The theme of this week’s newsletter is all about water. We’ve dug up some information which might be surprising to you. It will certainly be interesting, and it could improve the health of all who dwell in your home.


Newton’s Purrspective – Cats in Formal Attire

Although dogs have been domesticated for 30,000 years cats took much longer to make that leap. (In fact, some researchers consider us “semi-domesticated”. Our genetic divergence from our desert dwelling ancestors is relatively recent. http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/genome-comparison-shows-how-wildcats-became-housecats) We joined humans a little over 9,000 years ago when agriculture fostered:

  1. a change from the previous nomadic lifestyle and
  2. a concentration of rodents! http://www.livescience.com/7299-house-cats-wild-ancestor.html


Isaac Newton

Domestic felines are genetically close to our wild counterparts (in fact, at my house we are called “fe-lions”). Having evolved in the desert we are meant to get water with our food. Are we getting enough? http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/mistakes-people-make-feeding-cats?page=2

Here is a breakdown for water content of food:

  1. mice 70%
  2. canned food 78%
  3. dry food 5-10%

We should always have access to water, but with just a dry diet we need to drink more. How can you be sure Kitty will drink what she needs?

Everyone agrees that food and water should be placed as far as possible from the litter box area. That’s one even humans appreciate, aesthetically as well as to avoid bacterial contamination. However, does it make a difference if food and water are side by side? Some cats do prefer separation. Our wild relatives often capture prey at watering holes and would want clean water some distance from the kill.

Any stagnant water is likely to contain bacteria or other harmful organisms. Kitty’s attraction to running water (and hence, the popularity of cat fountains) may be instinctual.

All water is not created equal. The four basic types are:

  1. municipal tap water
  2. well water
  3. distilled water
  4. spring water

Please keep in mind that any water can be filtered to remove harmful contaminants.

Municipal water may contain chlorine by-products, fluoride, bacteria, arsenic, toxic pesticide residues, heavy metals, and even rocket fuel. (yikes!) http://www.littlebigcat.com/health/water-water-everywhere-but-whats-a-cat-to-drink/ Compared to this, the three others seem like ambrosia. However, depending on your location even well water may have contamination. The only way to know for sure is to have it tested by a reliable laboratory. (This should be a concern for the whole family.)

Does that mean distilled water is the answer? Absolutely not! It is so pure it is tasteless and contains none of the molecules and particles needed for health. Drinking only distilled water can lead to deficiencies in sodium, potassium and vital trace minerals. People who drink distilled water exclusively may suffer from high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.

The best option, for cats and their people) is spring water, assuming it is from a good quality natural spring. (Some bottled water is known to be simply tap water in a bottle.)

Water is good and necessary for life. However, too much or too little are signs of potential illness requiring veterinary advice. A dehydrated cat will lose skin elasticity (noticeable at the scruff on the back of the neck). Drinking excessive water (is Kitty always at the water bowl?) may be an indication of problems such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism or diabetes.

The Hidden Cancer Danger in Cat Vaccination

For the past 25 years or so there has been a lot talk about how vaccinations are causing cancer in cats. As you would imagine this is quite a hot topic with many opinions. We thought we’d ask our favorite feline expert in all things cat-ish, Newton, to shed light (but not fur!) on this topic. People often ask us if we vaccinate our cats who are 100% indoor cats – we do not.


Newton’s Purrspective – The Hidden Danger in Vaccination

A veterinarian recently posted this on his Facebook page.

“Saw another fibrosarcoma induced by vaccination in a cat. That makes 13 in my career. Three in Florida all caused by other practices. None caused by Merial’s Purevax vaccines. Cat owners, I can’t warn you enough about learning what kind of vaccinations your veterinarian is using. ALL KILLED vaccines contain adjuvant. These are chemicals that sit in the area of the vaccine and cause chronic irritation and these tumors in low but significant numbers of cats. Ask what kind of vaccine is used. Ask to see the label before it is given. The type of vaccine is written on the label. If they won’t discuss it, run away. If they won’t show you the label, run away. Killed vaccines are cheap. If they use them they care more about keeping their costs down than the safety of your cat.” Peter Veling DVM


Isaac Newton

In the late 1980’s veterinarians in the northeastern part of the US started noticing cancerous tumors (fibrosarcomas) in young cats. This was surprising in itself, but these tumors were also occurring at sites where vaccinations are normally injected.

Why did this happen in the northeast? Well, there had been outbreaks of rabies in raccoons as well as feline leukemia in this part of the country. So without any scientific reason I can see many cats were getting these vaccinations yearly. Although the tumor is rare, a greater number of vaccinations administered increased the chance of a cat developing cancer. http://www.2ndchance.info/fibrosarcoma.htm

Why did the tumors appear at vaccination sites? The tumors are not caused by the antigen (e.g. rabies virus) itself. Killed viruses are often used, but to increase the immune response an adjuvant is added. This adjuvant also causes inflammation and sets the stage for a potential tumor.

I could find no evidence that trauma from the needle itself was related to cancer. However, your veterinarian should use the smallest needle (25 g) to make the injection as painless as possible for Kitty.

If caught early this soft tissue tumor can be removed surgically. However, it is extremely aggressive so the surgical excision must go far beyond the apparent boundaries of the tumor. http://theveterinarycancercenter.com/resource-center/vaccine-associated-fibrosarcomas-cats

How do veterinarians decrease your cat’s risk? Feline vaccinations are now done subcutaneously (under the skin) so any lumps can be detected earlier than if they are deep in the muscle. They are also injected as far down the leg as possible. (They are no longer given in the back of the neck.) If a cat does develop cancer amputation of the leg increases chances of survival. Tail vaccination (developed at the University of Florida) is a new alternative. http://sheltermedicine.vetmed.ufl.edu/education/research-studies/current-studies/tail-vaccinations-in-cats/

Vaccination protocols are under constant review and are revised by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). http://jfm.sagepub.com/content/15/9/785.full.pdf+html All kittens should be vaccinated since maternal antibodies only provide temporary protection. Adult cats should be examined yearly and only vaccinated if they are high risk based on their age and lifestyle. Antibody titers (obtained from a blood sample) can determine if your cat has adequate immunity.

Feline vaccines are also administered in locations according to AVMA/AAFP recommendations:

  • left rear leg – feline leukemia (FeLV)
  • right rear leg – rabies
  • right front leg – distemper/upper respiratory (FVRCP)
  • left front leg – reserved for any other needed vaccine

This aids researchers in determining correlations between tumors and certain vaccines. http://jfm.sagepub.com/content/15/9/785.full.pdf+html

What can you do to decrease your cat’s risk? Discuss the need for any vaccinations with your veterinarian. Please note that, despite human health concerns, feline rabies vaccination in NOT required in all states. https://www.animallaw.info/topic/table-state-rabies-laws-concerning-cats If you do not wish to vaccinate adult cats you can ask for an immunity titer. If you do vaccinate insist on vaccines that DO NOT CONTAIN ADJUVANT.