Why looking into your cat’s eyes can be an early warning on health problems

Guest editor Alison has another great story for you! It’s about why looking into your cat’s eyes, observing changes, and seeing the vet once a year is vital to your cat’s health and well being. We think you’ll enjoy this story and learn a few new things too.


CATS DON’T WEAR SUNGLASSES

I went to the local shelter looking for a black and white male kitten, but the only one there had already been chosen. There were SO many kittens in need of homes I couldn’t just leave. I sat on a chair inside the glassed in kitten room while all the furry bundles of energy ran and played around me. Soon a small black female climbed into my lap, grabbed the metal tab and unzipped my jacket. I could hear laughter from outside the enclosure and smiled. I knew I had been chosen. Tommy Lee Jones (Cat in Black) came home with me that day.

Many kittens leave shelters either recovering from, or incubating an upper respiratory infection (URI). Of course, I took Tommy to my vet right away for a checkup and she received a clean bill of health. However, I also kept her isolated from my other cats until I felt sure she wasn’t harboring a latent infection that could harm them.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) cats are less likely than dogs to have annual physical exams. In fact, overall veterinary visits for cats decreased 13.5% from 2006 to 2011, while visits for dogs increased 9.2% during the same time period. (https://www.avma.org/news/pressroom/pages/Dog-veterinary-care.aspx) Although there are many possible explanations for the decline, a likely reason is a cat’s natural ability to hide symptoms of ill health. In fact, we may not realize our cats are sick until a disease has progressed significantly. Although there is no substitute for a thorough veterinary exam we can help cats achieve longer healthier lives by becoming more observant as we interact with our feline companions. Even subtle changes could be significant.

These include:

  1. changes in food or water consumption
  2. weight gain or loss
  3. skin flakes, itchiness and/or hair loss
  4. changes in the eyes

Who can resist marveling over the beauty of a cat’s eyes? But how often do we look for subtle signs of disease in these windows to their souls?

Over the years I started noticing some brown flecks of color in the light green iris of Tommy’s left eye. At first I thought the change was my imagination. Had the flecks always been there? Then a small amount of ocular discharge appeared. She didn’t act as if the eye was painful or irritated, but a visit to the veterinary clinic was definitely in order. Fortunately it was nothing serious. The overall condition was diagnosed as iris melanosis. If the spots had been raised, rather than flat, she might have lost an eye to cancer. He suspected that part of her problem was a herpes virus (not contagious to humans) most likely acquired from an upper respiratory infection (URI) as a young kitten. Herpes virus can remain latent until stress or illness trigger the recurrence of clinical signs.

Tommy’s eyes are now examined regularly to be sure the pigmented areas do not become raised. She is also taking an amino acid supplement, L-lysine, to reduce the likelihood of herpes flare ups and potential corneal ulcers. However, I still can’t convince her to wear sunglasses.

Alison W. Certified Veterinary Technician, Reiki Master

England’s first “cat café”

We’ve shown you “cat cafes” in Asia which you’ve loved. And many of you said that we need them here in the US. Well, it’s getting closer. Now there’s one in England!

Wouldn’t you love to have to create a cat cafe in your community? What a service this would be to the health and well being of the human visitors. It would give cats “jobs” and a safe place to live. Talk about meaningful work!

A cat café is the perfect mix of work and play, and service to cats and other people. Win-Win!

http://www.express.co.uk/news/weird/416380/Purrfect-Britain-s-first-cat-cafe-opens-in-England-s-Narnia

Sass Brown, a favorite person of Madame Cat Faerie, is the assistant Dean at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) Department of Art and Design in New York City. Currently she’s in Korea for FIT’s Summer Program.

Here she is having some feline fun and a cooling refreshment at the Cat Café in Songdo, Korea.

Eco Fashion author Sass Brown at a cat cafe in Korea


Eco Fashion author Sass Brown at a cat cafe in Korea


Sass writes extensively about Eco-Fashion on her always fascinating and very inspiring blog: http://www.ecofashiontalk.com/ – be sure to check out her upcoming book “Eco Fashion” which blasts the concept that eco fashion clothes are scratchy, sacky, and ugly. An eco-fashion outfit with splotches of cat fur here and there is green and beautiful and tells the world you love your cat!

Two California cities create resourceful programs to place unadoptable cats in businesses! Co-founder of “Cats on the Job,” Susan Wheeler tells us how YOU can do this in your community!

Cats on the Job

Cat Faeries talks to Susan Wheeler, co-founder of San Francisco’s “Cats on the Job” – a new organization which is placing cats in businesses “to work” who were previously thought to be unadoptable due to their personality traits.

CF: Hi Susan, how did you get interested in creating Cats on the Job?

SW: A number of years ago I read about a program called Working Cats in Los Angeles. It was being used to place feral and difficult-to-place cats in situations where people needed rodent control. Among the places they placed cats is the LA Flower Market, police station parking lots, a church, and a number of other venues. Because of my work on behalf of cats in Italy I knew that their culture respected cats for all the help they give us in keeping down rodents populations. I thought it was a great program and should spread to the US.

CF: How would an organization like this benefit a community?

SW: We think of this as a green program. Lots of people hate rodents and resort to really terrible poisons. With our program the cats do the work. They are also great to have around.

CF: Are there other similar programs?

SW: Los Angeles of course, and I’ve heard of a few other which are mostly informal groups. A friend just gave me an article that came out recently about a cat in Richland, Washington who has become a crossing guard at the local school. There are surely working cats that we don’t know about.

CF: How long did it take to get this program off the ground in San Francisco?

SW: The Los Angeles people sent us their template. We tweaked it to meet our concerns and local conditions. We worked on it for a couple of years.

CF: How many cats have you placed, and where?

SW: A couple of cats are in a horse barn. There are cats in a taxi cab yard. There is a cat in a warehouse. There are 3 cats at SOMAarts. We have placed cats at a plant nursery. We did need to turn down a couple of requests as we thought the places were not safe for the cats.

CF: You are partnered with the San Francisco SPCA – why was this important? Can a group be independent?

SW: We are partnering with the SF-SPCA because they have a lot of visibility and they will be putting up a website for us as part of their online presence. They are also giving us some money so we can get any cat we place a health check, microchip etc. My other organization, Friends of Roman Cats, a 501 c3 nonprofit, has taken Cats on the Job as a local program. As a nonprofit we are in much better shape to deal with the SPCA than if we were just individuals. Any donations for Cats on the Job will go through Friends of Roman Cats. We have some fund raisers planned.

CF: Where can a group learn how to set this up?

SW: Anyone interested may contact us for our protocols which are written up. It’s lengthy but they will know what it takes to start up a similar program. It is one more way of placing cats that might otherwise not be adopted.

CF: If a business wants a cat or two how do they go about getting one through Cats on the Job?

SW: After they contact us we send 2 people to their location to make an assessment to see if we think the place is safe for cats. We find out what it is they want the cats to do.

We make a list of things the people need to change or fix at the location so the cats will be safe and have easy access to food and water, and litter boxes. If the people don’t respond to our requests, we politely say we don’t think they are good candidates.

CF: How are these programs funded? Tax payer money or donations?

SW: No taxpayer money! It’s all donations.

CF: What types of cats are ideal candidates for Cats on the Job?

SW: Sometimes feral cat colonies need to be relocated because they are threatened. Relocating cat colonies is extremely hard to do, so we are able to draw from the feral colonies. We can place shy and under socialized cats who have been taken to Animal Care and Control which is our city run animal shelter. Many rescuers have foster cats in their homes who might be considered if the location is safe.

CF: How many cats can be in one location?

SW: We think a pair of cats is the optimum number. Each situation is unique.

CF: What can an office expect from having an office cat?

SW: People who want an office cat might want one that may become quite friendly over time. However people must understand these are not going to start out as lap cats.

CF: What types of businesses benefit from having a cat or two around?

SW: All sorts of businesses! Bookstores, retail stores, pet stores plant nurseries are the obvious choices. We are more than happy to evaluate any business that wants working cats, in particular for rodent control. Cats aren’t allowed in places where food is sold or served. Although we wish that would change!

CF: What businesses are not ideal for having cats around?

SW: Businesses that deal with toxic substances, substances the cats can get into and places where the cats can’t be kept reasonably secure.

We make certain that everyone in the business is on board with having cats around. To help everyone with this new idea we suggest a contest for employees to come up with the best name for the new cat. A recent cat that we placed at an art exhibit space was named Georgia O’Kitty, a great play on words about the great artist Georgia O’Keefe.

CF: How is food paid for?

SW: This is like a regular adoption, so we expect the people or company to feed and care for them just like with any cat adoption.

CF: How is veterinary care paid for?

SW: The SF-SPCA gives the cat an initial health check. If the cat needs anything special Cats on the Job would consider paying or partially paying as long as we have the funds. Ultimately the cat is the new owner’s responsibility.

CF: Let’s say a cat is placed in a warehouse – is there one employee in charge of the cat? Someone to feed the cat, tend to the litter boxes, and notice if the cat is ill? Or would someone from the organization do this?

SW: We make certain there is a trained primary person at the business where we place the cats. This person will take responsibility for them and set up a team to feed them, particularly on weekends and during vacation times. We are on call to give advice and we will come by and make an assessment if the business feels they are having a problem.

CF: We love the name “Cats on the Job.” Can anyone use it? Would you want them to also use their city name, for example:
Cats on the Job: Cleveland, Ohio.

SW: Yes, that’s how we’d like them to use it, with their city name attached. Or better yet – get creative and come up with your own name! Originally we were using Working Cats assuming that the Los Angeles group would be flattered and see it as for the greater good, but they told us to stop using it.

Interested in starting a similar program in your community? Contact Susan Wheeler at rappwheel@aol.com

A Sweet Lady and Her Refuge Where Cats Run Free

300 cats? YES! Crazy Cat Lady? NO! Meet 72 year old Siglinda Scarpa of North Carolina who runs Goathouse Refuge, a sanctuary for cats and other animals.

Here’s a wonderful article about her in the New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/10/garden/300-cats-and-counting.html?_r=1&

The article contains a slide show of 16 pictures.

A Story from a Customer About Her Senior Cat and Hyperthyroidism

THE SENIOR CAT

Written by: Alison W. Certified Veterinary Technician, Reiki Master

Zaichik the Magnificent came into my life while I was working in Moscow, Russia. I grew up in Connecticut but lived all over the US (personal choice – not military) before visiting a friend who was working in Moscow. I’m a country girl and never thought I’d live in a city (let alone one with a population of over 8 million!) – but I got a job working for US Agency for International Development. I managed environmental contracts and as part of my work travelled over the entire country. (That is a book in itself.) I will never forget seeing Siberian Tiger tracks in the Russian Far East.

Zaichik is a Japanese Bobtail and “Zaichik” [z-eye-chik] means “little rabbit” in Russian. “The Magnificent” part was his own idea. Valentina told me he was a very special kitten, and incidentally the grandson of the Japanese Ambassador’s cat. She insisted that I must have him! How could I resist?



Zaichik the Magnificent in my Moscow flat 1996

Veterinary clinics as we know them did not exist in Russia. Vets made “house calls” for everything, including surgery. Fortunately Zaichik was healthy and his only veterinary encounters were for vaccinations and neutering. I got him an international health certificate and passport and was thrilled when I could bring him to the US in 1997.

In the US cats are far less likely than dogs to have annual examinations. Indoor cats aren’t often exposed to contagious diseases, but they are not immune to other potentially life threatening conditions. This is particularly true as cats age.

Among the most common problems in older cats are:

– Kidney disease
– Diabetes
– Hyperthyroidism

When diagnosed in the early stages by your veterinarian these can all be treated. Prompt care will prolong and enhance the quality of your cat’s life. Symptoms to watch for include:

– Increased thirst (generally paired with increased urination)
– Weight loss
– Behavioral changes



Zaichik the Magnificent in NH 2006

Three years ago I noticed a marked increase in the amount of water Zaichik was consuming. He had also lost weight. My first thought was that he might be diabetic. However, blood tests revealed he was hyperthyroid.

Hyperthyroidism can be treated with a daily pill. Note – I did not use the adverb “easily” in the previous sentence. Does the thought of giving your cat a pill strike terror in your heart? The best medicine in the world is worthless if you can’t get your cat to take it. Fear not! Simply ask your vet to prescribe one of the new transdermal gels that are applied to the skin inside the ear – decreased anxiety for people and cats!

Zaichik’s advice for a long and happy life is “see your vet regularly and just say no to stress”. =^..^=



Zaichik the Magnificent in FL 2013



More from Cat Faeries regard hyperthyroid and medication:

1) When applying the transdermal gels you MUST wear either a vinyl glove or a finger cot because you will absorb the medication and this will affect your own thyroid. Gloves and finger cots can be bought at your local drug store.

2) Veterinary Pharmacy of America can take your cat’s prescription and turn it into a tasty treat. Most cats will gobble their medication in the form of a treat right up!

The treats come in these flavors: beef, chicken, liver, and venison.

We favor the venison because it’s gluten free which is something Cat Faeries feels is important. Wheat gluten causes many health problems and we feel cats and people should eliminate it to maintain health. When your venison flavored treats arrive they must be refrigerated right away.

VPA is located in Texas and can be reached by phone at 877-838-7979 or fax 877 329 7979.

A customer welcomes two new cats after Hurricane Sandy!

Do you recall reading the wonderful story from our customer Judy about her cats Casper and Marshmellow ? If you missed it, read it here – http://www.catfaeries.com/blog/a-beautiful-story-of-two-beloved-cats-written-by-a-cat-faeries-customer/

Judy writes to us again about surviving the storm and opening up their home and hearts to two shelter cats. Here’s the story:


My Cat Faerie,

Our family is embarrassingly well through Superstorm Sandy. Many of my friends and neighbors didn’t. We’re pulling together as a community, helping in whatever ways we can. It is gratifying but can be quite depressing. Since Georgie Girl went home to her family when they came back from the Galapagos a week prior to the storm, we realized how empty our home was without kitties. The aftermath of Sandy only made it more dreary. So, we decided to go to our town animal shelter and see if they had anyone who wanted to join our (I am a firm believer that kitties choose us, not the other way around).

Right away, Simon (his name was Raffe at the time but we didn’t like it) picked my hubby. His paw reached out from between the bars, tapping Sam. Karen said that she was hoping that we’d find an orange kitty to join us. I told her not to go in there with prefromed ideas and to be open to everyone at the shelter…but there was Simon, a redhead reaching out to us as we walked in. He is about 3 years old (they think) and was there since April. He had a tag “SCC” on his cage. I didn’t ask what it meant. The animal shelter is a low-kill shelter and I know that places like this often use codes for the animals that are there regarding how much time they have left to get a family. When we expressed an interest in Simon, the staff told us that SCC meant he was due to go to Suffolk Community College on Monday. They have a veteranary program there and he would be used in the phlebotemy class, a life of having students practice extracting blood on him. I asked if we could have him instead. She asked a supervisor and said “OF COURSE!” and the only reason why he was being sent there was because his whole 6 months there, nobody even looked at him, let alone expressed that they wanted to take him home. This was a way of sparing his life. Sometimes the students take a liking to the kitties and wind up adopting them from there. He would have a much more stable and happy life with us.

Karen had her heart set on getting a kitten, too. I was ambivelent about that because kittens get adopted so much sooner than older cats. But, this was something she felt very strong about, raising a kitty from baby to senior citizen. Then I saw how many kittens were at the shelter waiting for forever homes and I felt better about a kitten joining us, too. None of the kittens are given the luxury of names. She was “9 w/o female b/w tiger.” She and Karen fell in love instantly and her name is now Pepper. Before we left the shelter, we placed Pepper in the cage with Simon to see how they got along. It wasn’t love at first sight, but they seemed to like one another.

Today is a week since Simon and Pepper joined our family. With the exception of one diarhea incident, Pepper has adapted vey well to her new home. She is a bouncy, curious little kitten. Pepper has in INCREDIBLE appetite and she is very attached to Karen so we are convinced that at least a part of Marshmellow’s soul in inside her. Simon is still a bit cautious. He has a favorite hiding spot in the living room and comes out with less and less coaxing. He even comes out on his own more and more. He is only letting me get a couple of brush strokes in at a time on him before he retreats and I am terrified to clip his nails (but i need to get to them very soon for his own safety) but I’m confident he’ll come around. I think he might have a piece of my precious Casper in him, too.

All Pepper wants to do is follow Simon around. She is literally up his butt at times. He is never angry or annoyed but I think he is a little spooked by her enthusiasm at times. I saw Simon cleaning Pepper a few times and Karen got a picture of both of them cuddling in Simon’s “safe place.” In the early morning and at night they chase eachother around and at times do this odd and adorable leap-frog type thing.

I am very bittersweet about these new additions. I love them. Simon and Pepper are family. But since they joined our home, my heart has been aching more than it has in recent times for Casper and Marshmellow. I pray to their souls that I hope they understand that they are not being replaced by these two. I know they do. I know that they are happy that just like we did for them, we saved these two kitties from life in the shelter (or worse) and gave them a good loving home. It just still hurts not having them around.

I’ll be placing an order with you for more Feliway spray and difuser refills soon. Casper and Marshmellow were declawed. Simon and Pepper are not. Clipping Casper and Marshmellow’s back claws were not an issue to clip because they were so mellow. Between having to contend with front claws now, Pepper being so naturally wiggly and Simon being so naturally frightened, I will need your recommendation on a good, safe set of clippers.

Thank you for always being a good friend and a great Cat Faerie. Talk to you soon.

Hugs,

Judy
(and Simon and Pepper…and Sam, and Karen, too)