Is “Whisker Fatigue” something to worry about?

Here’s an informative article from Cat Faeries’ Feline Editor at Large, Issac Newton, who happens to know a few things about cats and their food bowls.


Newton’s Purrspective – The Importance of Dishware

Lately I’ve been seeing references to something called “Whisker Fatigue” which claims that when a cat’s whiskers touches or rubs against the sides of a food or water bowl it creates an unpleasant sensation. True, a cat’s whiskers are so sensitive that we can detect even the slightest change in air currents around objects (such as furniture). This is one of the reasons blind cats can get around so well. http://animals.howstuffworks.com/pets/question592.htm Some people believe that this ultra-sensitivity can cause sensory overload when cat whiskers brush against the sides of a food dish.

We have read that symptoms of Whisker Fatigue include refusal to eat, food scattering, feline acne and even attacks on other cats in the home. The proposed solution is a flattened dish that doesn’t rub sensitive whiskers. Could this be true, is it truly “a thing” to be concerned about?




Isaac Newton

To date I can find no scientific evidence to support Whisker Fatigue as a clinical problem. There are far more likely explanations for the symptoms. However, the choice of food dishes is important to health and happiness for you and Kitty. Things to consider include:

  • Size and age of cat
  • Type of food
  • Personality
  • Dental or other mouth problems
  • Location of food bowls

Despite the numerous internet photos of cats wedging themselves into tight places we cats prefer our food be easily accessible and located in a quiet place far from smelly litter boxes. Common sense says that the dish should be the appropriate size for the cat. For example, if you give a little kitten canned food on a large plate he will certainly walk all over it during the meal. If a bowl has high sides the kitten is likely to tip it and spill dinner all over the room.

In general the dish should have the appropriate height sides to keep the food in place. Otherwise some pieces will inevitably end up on the floor. Many cats lick, rather than bite, canned food, pushing it around and flicking it onto the floor as they eat. Whether you feed canned, homemade or kibble the angle of the sides is important. A rounded shape is better than perpendicular vertical sides that can trap food and lead to feline frustration. (They are also easier for you to clean.)

For those of us in touch with our wild side mealtime behavioral quirks can result in a less than tidy dining area. Many cats just have to “kill” their food. Some cats pick up a piece of kibble and shake it as they would if it were freshly caught. Other cats scoop food out of the bowl as if they were fishing for salmon in a stream.

If Kitty is not eating, a medical problem is more likely the reason than the wrong china pattern. Make sure your cat does not have dental conditions such as loose teeth or infected gums. Even if your cat is hungry, pain may cause food avoidance. Dropping food, especially from one side of the mouth, is a symptom of dental pain. A sore mouth is sure to lead to general grumpiness, so it’s no surprise that tempers are short particularly with other cats in the house. If you can’t look inside Kitty’s mouth at least smell her breath. Bad breath is another indicator of problems. Please see your vet if you suspect dental disease. Catching it early will prevent more serious problems later.

Older cats may have arthritis or other conditions which make it more challenging to eat from a high sided dish. They are also more likely to have lost teeth and consequently be on a diet of soft food. Senior cats tend to be less fastidious about grooming. If Kitty doesn’t clean all the food off his chin use a damp washcloth to gently remove it. Feline acne occurs when food and debris clog pores and lead to skin infections. If you think the dish shape is a problem then experiment until you find one Kitty likes. And putting a placemat underneath helps with spill cleanup.

Overall the material and cleanliness of the dish are far more important than the shape. Plastic dishes scratch easily leaving crevices that harbor bacteria. Harmful chemicals can also leach out of plastic. Plastic dishes should be avoided or at least replaced as soon as they show any sign of wear.

Ceramic bowls are popular because of the bright colors, designs and varied shapes. Although safer than plastic they can still chip or develop micro fractures where bacteria hide. You would also need to test the piece for lead – do not assume that because the maker said they used a lead free glaze, as you read in a previous article (Is that cute cat food bowl really lead safe? (maybe not!)) if the kiln is old and ever fired pieces with lead based glazes cross contamination will occur.

Stainless steel is popular with veterinarians and kennels since it is unbreakable and does not harbor bacteria if cleaned with nonabrasive cleanser. However, it lacks the charm of ceramic or glass so few people use it at home for their feline friends.

Daily cleaning is essential no matter what type of dish you choose. Biofilm, sometimes referred to as slime, can accumulate even if you are only feeding dry food. The moisture comes from Kitty’s saliva and brews up a mixture that attracts nasty bacteria that could be life threatening in some situations. http://www.catfaeries.com/blog/your-cats-water-bowl-do-you-know-about-biofilm/ A second set of dishes that can be rotated daily will simplify the clean dish routine. Use a good quality nonabrasive cleanser and be sure to rinse thoroughly with hot water. Or put in the dishwasher.

You can’t be too careful when it comes to feline health. We recommend dishes made from high quality materials, always manufactured in the USA. Pyrex is always a good choice and the bowls come a huge variety of sizes suitable for food and water.

In closing since we didn’t find any medical articles to validate the term “whisker fatigue” we think it’s a good marketing ploy. Also, the bowls we found were rather expensive ($45 and beyond!) and were usually not made in the US or they wouldn’t tell us where they were made.
 
 
 
 

Circadian Clock for Cancer Reduction: What time to eat and “restricted feeding” according to The Circadian Clock.

Last week’s newsletter was all about proper nighttime lighting and how it’s reducing disease in cats and people – did you order your blue blocking eyeglasses and computer screen covers from www.lowbluelights.com yet? If you missed that article, click here. This week let’s look at mealtime, in particular dinner, your cat’s and yours and what time to dine.

The body of every animal has a circadian clock. Within each body we know that every organ has its own unique circadian clock, which means every organ is active or resting at a specific time of day or night. It has been scientifically proven that when one eats their last meal of the day at or before sunset that the body will function at its best. To support those organs and their inner clock we should follow the rules that govern when to eat at the end of the day so that those internal organ clocks will function properly and disease reduction occurs. Ideally we restrict our eating to day time and day light hours.

Eating the last meal rather early, specifically at sunset, will boost the metabolism, deepen sleep, support brain function and strengthen all of the body’s cycles in people, cats, and effectively all animals unless they are nocturnal like bats, or crepuscular like rabbits and skunks. If one consumes their nighttime meal before sunset they will be in sync with natural rythyms of light and dark. Eating after sunset, or later into the night, interferes with serotonin production because the body is busy digesting food.

Eating later than sunset upsets the circadian clock of all animals including people and cats. When mice were fed during a short window of daylight, with the last of their food at sunset, cancer rates decreased dramatically, and their internal organs functioned better than those mice who eat at night. They also produced more growth hormone which lead to an increase in muscle mass and stamina which we feel would be a strong benefit to elder cats or sickly cats – for younger cats it will set the stage for healthful aging because their internal organs are functioning optimally. Could it be that we see so much kidney failure in cats because so many of them are allowed to free-feed, including all night long?

Here’s why eating early will benefit everyone in your home:

The #1 reason that everyone can relate to – prevents obesity! And what person or cat doesn’t want to be more svelte? As the natural sunlight part of the day comes to a close your body’s functions and metabolism slow down. If you eat during this slow down phase you aren’t burning off your calories for energy and that food can turn to fat and weight goes up.

And #2 is its anti-aging. Who doesn’t want a frisky cat or to feel and look youthful themselves!

3) Eating the last meal of the day early also prevents glycation which is important to avoid for diabetics or anyone who is concerned with diabetes. Diabetes and elevated blood sugar and triglycerides are often thought of as the root of much disease so keeping blood sugar in a good range is vital for robust health for any species.

4) Promotes good, deep, uninterrupted sleep because your serotonin will because your serotonin will be at an optimum level, and you won’t feel like you are lying on a bloated ball (your tummy!) because your food isn’t digesting properly. Slow and sluggish digestion will stimulate your brain making sleep elusive. It will fill your bladder which means many trips to the bathroom. Eating late could cause heart burn, acid reflux or coughing. And, if you drank water, tea, wine/beer late at night you’ll wake up often to urinate and it can be tricky to fall back to sleep.

5) If you and your cats eat before sunset your organs can revitalize because the body is not busy with late night digestion. Revitalizing all our organs allows them to do their job and function properly preventing illness and disease – including cancer.

6) You’ll be smarter and more productive during the day because you’ll wake up feeling fresh as a daisy from a biological clock that has been re-programmed based on sunrise and sunset patterns. Your body’s systems will work as they were meant to work, your cells will be repairing and cleaning. You won’t be tired or lethargic and you’ll likely become a perky morning person who’s not dependent on coffee.

Since sunset and sunrise occur at different times during the year but our work schedules don’t change accordingly at Cat Faeries we have found that eating around 5pm year round is easiest. If you can’t be home that early consider having your big meal at midday, and a light easy to digest meal when you get home. Your cats should be on a similar schedule. Before you wash your evening dishes collect the cat food bowls and wash them for the next day.

Get yourself on a good dinner schedule and change the evening lighting in your home. Cat Faeries wants you and your cats to be healthy so please consider: no more free feeding cats into the night and no more late night snacks for you. If you continue to free feed your cats during the day simply collect the food bowls at sunset and replace them when you get up in the morning. At night, after dinner be sure to switch off the computers etc. and wear the orange eye wear from www.lowbluelights.com. Also replace full spectrum light bulbs with blue blocking bulbs. Sorry, but as cute as we imagine them to be, there no such glasses for cats so it’s important to swap out the lights plus block the blues coming from your TV and computer so your furry friends can produce their own melatonin to fight disease and serotonin for good sleep!

Do you want to know more? We love the work of Satchin Panda, Ph.D. which you’ll find in abundance online. Here’s a podcast that we like:

https://www.acast.com/foundmyfitness/dr-satchin-panda-on-time-restricted-feeding-and-its-effects-on-obesity-muscle-mass-heart-health

 
 
 
 

The Importance of the Food Bowl to Your Cat

 
 

The above video was intended to be funny. It sort of is (sort of) but for us at Cat Faeries we are all about harmonizing multi cat households and we know that each cat needs their own food bowl to keep fighting and stress levels down. Food bowls should also be as far apart as possible for privacy because most cats need the feeling of safety and knowing that others can’t steal their food.

Carnivores don’t like sharing food. It’s upsetting to them and goes against their nature. Stresses like this in the home can lead cats to fighting, spraying, and peeing outside of the box. And you know how unpleasant that is, for everyone!

If you have a cat or two that are particularly territorial or if you have hissing and swatting in the designated dining area consider feeding a cat separately in a bed room with the door closed. Allow the cats enough time to finish their meal before you collect and wash the bowls – usually 30 minutes is more than enough time.

If you do feed a cat in another room it should not have a litter box present. We’ve all heard the expression that “animals don’t eat where they poop.” Would you like eating by the toilet? I didn’t think so!

A bonus to feeding cats is separate rooms is that this is a great way to help a chubby cat lose a few ounces! No sneaking food from other food bowls! In fact to trick the cat into thinking they are getting extra food – divide the portion into two dishes! The cat will feel special because of the illusion that it’s twice as much!

Lastly, food bowls or dishes should be several things: 1) Wide enough for the cat’s face, 2) Made from a safe material and that means NEVER plastic or lead based ceramic: we like clear Pyrex glass bowls. 3) Washed thoroughly with soapy water or in the dish washer each time the cat has eaten to prevent biofilm from accumulating.

What is biofilm you ask? Here’s an article we wrote about it from last year: Your cat’s water bowl – do you know about biofilm?

 
 

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.

 
 
 

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.

 
 

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.