Why Your Cats May “Act Up” When It’s Spring

Dear Auntie Cat Faerie,

For some reason my little “darlings” are picking on each other again. Looks like a job for Comfort Zone! Plus a couple of new toys should help.

Thank you !

Mary


Hi Mary,

Sorry to hear that the little dears are acting up. This isn’t an unusual occurrence in Spring as there are some outside cats who aren’t fixed and this is when they go into heat or start popping out kittens. Unaltered cats prowl around outside looking to mate and to mark territory they spray hormone filled urine on our plants, bushes, trees, patio furniture, cars – and the worst: our doors! The smell of hormone spiked urine smells really strong, and it can be threatening to an indoor cat. On top of that there is sound – our spayed/neutered indoor cats hear the unaltered cats caterwaul in a high pitched sound that can scare them, put them on edge, and sound like a territory threat.

The sounds and smells of such outdoor cats upset many indoor cats which causes them to fight among each other, or the worst: they might retaliate and pee outside of the box or spray urine in the house. Even when cats are spayed or neutered, like yours are, they seem to go into a phantom heat of sorts also which heightens their sensitivity and causes some fighting or territory battles among a family of cats. It really seems that mating and territory impulses can run deep in the DNA! Cats being cats, they are very sensitive to all sounds and smells as these two senses are part of how cats communicate.

Cats like people have unique personalities, likes and dislikes, tolerances and intolerances. Some house cats care greatly about these smelly noisy intruders, yet other indoor cats don’t care one bit!

Thank you, as always Mary it’s a delight to hear from you, and I hope the “darlings” have calmed down from the Convivial House Cat and Comfort Zone and that they are enjoying their new toys!

Auntie Cat Faerie
 
 
 
 

All About 3-Legged Cats

One of our favorite customers, Kelleen (Kelly) has a feline-family of 4 “tripod” cats a clever name for cats who have only 3 legs. She was delighted to share their story and photos with our customers and readers. Here’s her story about her tripod cats!

Read more:



 
From Kelly: Elixir

 
 

Tripod cats have a special place in my heart, and a big place in our family. Between myself and my daughter, we now have four three-legged cats – as well as one four-legger!

In our minds and theirs, our tripods are just cats – active, curious, playful, and loving. Missing body parts or no, these resilient little beings are amazing, gorgeous animals, each with their own distinct personality, deserving of love and pleased to give it in return. They don’t have any pain related to their missing limbs, and are not bothered at all by their differences, still approaching everything with a cat’s “can-do” attitude.

Living with tripod cats is not much different from living with their 4-legged counterparts, except they are perhaps a bit noisier as they thump around the house and scrabble to climb things. There are a few factors to consider, though, when deciding to adopt one (or if your cat is injured and loses a limb). For example:

  • Litter boxes need to be larger because they can lose their balance and go outside the box – but at the same time, the sides can’t be too high because they need easier access.
  • It’s important not to overfeed tripods, as too much body weight will make it much more difficult for them to remain active and navigate their surroundings on 3 legs.
  • It is more difficult for three-leggers to run or climb to get away from predators, so it’s best for them to be indoor-only cats. I built a fully enclosed catio outside my back door so my four can spend time in the sun being cats – chasing snakes and voles, watching birds, climbing tree limbs, and relaxing in the grass – while they remain safe from our resident eagles, raccoons and neighborhood dogs.
  • Some toys are better – for example, all three of mine, who are each missing a rear leg, love the Kitty Kicker-style toys that they grab with their front legs and kick at with that extra-strong back leg of theirs. They love ground-level scurrying toys they can “catch and kill” also. Toys that dangle in the air are not so enjoyable because with only one rear leg tripods can’t stand up and swat or jump up to bat them out of the air.

Not all tripod cats are the same, of course, or have the same needs. Cats missing a front leg are sometimes more likely to hide or to use their teeth – just as cats who have been declawed may – because they feel they can’t protect themselves or communicate their displeasure with their claws. Cats missing rear legs have a harder time climbing, balancing on narrow walkways, and “landing” gracefully when they jump. There are also differences between those who lost limbs as adults and those who grew up already missing a limb. Our three who lost limbs as adults sometimes still try to jump/climb on things that they can’t handle because they seem to forget that the leg is missing!

The wonderful characters of our quartet of tripods and the enjoyment they have brought into our lives make it well worth the bit of extra thought and work involved in creating a fun, healthy, safe environment for them. They may be missing some parts, but they make our family whole!


Here is some background on our tripod family:

Our family’s very first cat was a tripod who lived in a home with too many animals that bullied and terrorized the little 3-legger who couldn’t get away or fend the others off from his food. My daughter, who has always had a soft spot for the underdog (or undercat, as it were), asked the family if she could have him, and brought him home so he would have a loving, quiet home where he would be protected and cherished. Although I had always been a “dog person” (who liked cats but had no particular interest in having one as a pet), I soon fell in love with little Prince Arcane and was on my way to becoming a “cat person” as well!


 
Arcane

 
 

Because Arcane was officially my daughter’s cat, I adopted a lovely little silver tuxedo girl of my own (who still has the use of all four of her legs), but Juju was not a very feline-social cat and wanted little to do with Arcane, who always wanted to play with her. I watched him trying to play, and her rebuffing him and simply removing herself to someplace he couldn’t get to, and I always felt badly for him. When I saw a feisty young male flame-point come in to the shelter who needed to have his back leg amputated (it had been broken in multiple places and the previous owners had tried to set the leg themselves instead of taking him to a veterinarian), I thought how perfect it would be for both of the tripod boys to have someone to play with, so Ozymandias joined our family. The two boys became fast friends and wrestling partners, thumping around the house after each other and taking each other down with WWE-like body slams.


 
Juju

 
 


 
Ozymandias

 
 

Since then, my daughter moved out with a roommate, taking Arcane with her. I knew Ozzie would drive Juju crazy chasing her around wanting to play, and wanted a playmate for him. Since I already had the house catified and the catio designed for the needs of 3-legged cats, it was a given that I might take in another tripod if the right one happened along. Coincidentally, a litter of 4-month-old kittens had been brought in from a local feral colony a couple of months before. The entire litter was ear-tipped and placed into the shelter’s barn cat program, but one was found to have an injured leg that would not heal and had to undergo amputation. Although she was still very skittish, she could not go to a barn home due to her missing leg, so one of our cattery volunteers, knowing my setup at home, suggested I meet her. Though my plan had been to get an adult male cat as a companion for Ozzie, I could not pass on little Alchemy once I met her. She came home with me, and after an extended introduction period she and Ozymandias are the playmates and bosom buddies I had hoped they would be!


 
Alchemy

 
 

My daughter noticed that Arcane seemed at a loss alone at their new home, and her roommate had always wanted a cat of his own, so when just a few months later another laid-back young black male cat had to undergo an amputation of a shattered rear leg, I immediately offered to help the kids adopt him. Elixir is now comfortably ensconced in his new home and gradually becoming friends and playmates with his “brother from another mother.”
 
 


 
Elixir

 
 

 

 

Are You Overloaded by Internet Cat Information?

Newton’s Purrspective – Information Overload!

I enjoy clicking a mouse as much as any other cat. However, when I am looking for answers the vast amount of information available on the internet is overwhelming. How can one possibly sort it all out? Internet content is rarely regulated or reviewed for accuracy and credibility. For example, a search for solutions to elimination outside the litter box could lead you to everything from scientific studies by well-known cat behaviorists to a blog by someone who may never have shared a home with a cat.




Isaac Newton

Of course, most of us are not qualified to read and interpret the results of studies published in specialized scientific journals. We must trust others to do that for us. Let’s look at the litterbox question. You may come across a blog that claims to know all the answers. Perhaps they say “if you notice that Kitty has peed outside the box rub her nose in it while repeating ‘bad! bad!’” Another blog may discuss cat litter or appropriate cat box size and location. The first answer seems cruel and demeaning to Kitty, while the second suggests some environmental factors under the person’s control. Please don’t stop with one blog. Read on and read critically. Just because it is on the internet does not mean it is true.

Behaviorists have long known that litterbox issues can be complex, particularly in multi cat households. Punishment will not solve the problem and will almost certainly result in other undesirable behaviors. If there is no medical problem, such as a bladder infection, then other causes must be investigated. Products such as Anti Icky Poo, Convivial House Cat, Cat Faeries Flower Essences, and Feliway could be part of the solution.

So, as you continue your search, how can you tell if a website should be trusted? Credentials are important. The Cornell University Feline Health Center is a recognized authority. However, it is not the only source of reliable information. Veterinarians may write blogs in the interest of public education. Organizations dedicated to cat welfare also offer advice based on sound veterinary practices.

In addition to credentials I always want to know:

  • Why certain advice is offered (motive)
  • The source of information (e.g. references to persons or studies)
  • Comments from customers (if it is a retail site)

 

Motive could be something as simple as the desire to educate the public about cat health. On the other hand, a site’s purpose may be difficult to determine. If it is not immediately obvious I quickly move on. I don’t want to waste my nine lives trying to figure out what they want and why.

A reputable site does not proclaim “THIS is the answer!” without telling you why they believe so. This backup may be their own research, studies done by others, or extensive client feedback.

The internet has been called the information super highway. Drive carefully.
 
 
 
 

Tax Time Deductions for Fostering Cats!

While we cannot claim our cats for a tax deduction the Tax Men will allow expenditures for fostering cats. This will be great news for many of you for this year, and something to consider for next year.


Newton’s Purrspective – Tax Time

Yes, my friends – once again it is that time of year. Spring is in the air, but now people are stressed out over tax time. If only they could relax with some Cat Faeries toys and chill out in a Cat Faeries bed. Perhaps there is a human equivalent for “Calm and Serene Flower Essence”?

I know many wonder (only half in jest) if they can use Fluffy as a deduction. After all, you provide food, housing, and medical care (though there is little need for clothing or a college fund). And cats are family! Sadly, the IRS only accepts humans as deductions.




Isaac Newton

However, there is good news for cat foster parents. http://catingtonpost.com/if-you-foster-a-cat-you-can-claim-it-on-your-taxes/ You may be able to deduct expenses incurred fostering cats. Of course, there are a few rules you must follow.

Here are the two most important ones.

  • First, you must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions.
  • Second, the organization you foster for must be recognized by the IRS 501(c)(3) designation as a Not-for-Profit organization.

You may already know that you can deduct contributions to a qualified not-for-profit if you receive no services or merchandise in return. For example, donating money or a bag of cat food can be deducted. But, if you donate the same things and receive a t shirt in return you can no longer use the deduction. You bought the t shirt so it has become a business transaction.

You will need to keep your receipts and have documentation from the not-for-profit if your contribution is greater than $250.00. To avoid misunderstandings and other problems I recommend checking the IRS rules https://www.irs.gov/uac/top-eight-tax-tips-about-deducting-charitable-contributions and consulting with a tax expert. Sure, you can tell them (the tax experts, not the IRS) that a cat sent you.

Here is the basic situation. Let’s say you are fostering kittens for a properly registered not-for-profit shelter. Let’s also assume they do not provide any money or supplies.

You may be able to deduct the cost of carriers, food, kitty litter, veterinary bills etc. If you have a special area of your house used only for foster kittens you might even be able to deduct a portion of utilities. I know there are many good hearted people spending their own money to take care of kittens and cats in a home environment. Kittens, especially, are vulnerable to life threatening diseases when in stressful environments like shelters. As a former shelter kitten I want to thank all the foster parents out there. Your foster felines appreciate your efforts and we all hope you can get a little credit from the IRS.

 
 
 

Feline Toxoplasmosis and human babies – blasting the lies, myths, and unfounded fears

Don’t you just cringe when you hear “I’m pregnant and my doctor told me to get rid of my cats to protect my baby’s brain.” Haven’t you wondered if the fear of brain damage from exposure to toxoplasmosis was a bunch of hooey from doctors who feel they need to dish out caution to nervous expectant mothers to make themselves look smart? Us too! We found some statistics that shoot that antiquated theory out of the sky and asked our Feline Contributing Editor At Large, Sir Isaac Newton, to chime in with the facts and figures to spill the beans on this situation. Spoiler alert: the studies were seriously flawed, babies are safe!

Speaking of babies – in a few weeks Auntie Cat Faerie will be visiting the ASPCA in New York City to see, in particular, their stellar Kitten Rehab. It’s where abandoned kittens, kitten literally found on the streets, hundreds of them per year, are bottle fed and taught proper toilet habits by loving and caring saintly humans. They are willing to keep these kitten’s cute baby butts nice and clean while they grow and learn to do it themselves. Stay tuned for the story!


Newton’s Purrspective – Toxoplasmosis

Cats have not always been popular house pets. Perhaps you’ve heard the old wives’ tale that cats smother babies or suck the air out of their lungs. Today few believe in this witchery. It is far more likely that cats in a baby’s crib are seeking warmth or are attracted to the scent of milk. However, some doctors still tell expectant mothers that they should get rid of their beloved pets as a health precaution. The fear today is not focused on a devilish feline behavior, but on a single celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii (the cause of Toxoplasmosis) carried by cats.




Isaac Newton

But cats are not alone. Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases, affecting nearly all warm blooded animals, including humans. The CDC estimates that as many as 60 million Americans carry this parasite, but few show signs of clinical disease. A healthy immune system is able to prevent illness due to the presence of Toxoplasma.

Most people who are infected are unaware. Some may have flu like symptoms such as swollen lymph glands accompanied by muscle aches. Severe Toxoplasmosis (usually found only in people with immune deficiency) can cause damage to the eyes or brain. Treatment is available and is patient specific.
https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/faqs.html

Early in the 1950’s scientists started looking at the potential relationship between Toxoplasmosis and psychotic symptoms such as those seen in schizophrenia. They hypothesized that owning a cat could increase the risk of mental disorders. We now know that the early studies were flawed. Controls were inadequate and alternate explanations were not considered. Although in rare cases Toxoplasmosis can damage the brain, current investigations reveal no higher risk of psychosis for those who share their homes with cats. http://www.livescience.com/57978-cats-psychosis.html

Cats are singled out because they are the only definitive hosts for Toxoplasma gondii. The parasite completes its life cycle inside a cat’s intestines and eggs are shed in the feces for up to two weeks. Most cats will not show symptoms unless their immune system is compromised due to age or diseases such as Feline Leukemia or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Cats are not routinely tested for Toxoplasmosis and the only prevention is to avoid ingesting the parasite. http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/Health_Information/brochure_toxo.cfm

Toxoplasma must be ingested or transferred directly. It cannot be absorbed through intact skin or inhaled. According to the CDC there are a number of ways for this to occur in humans.

  • Eating undercooked meat (especially pork, lamb, and venison) contaminated with Toxoplasma.
  • Not thoroughly washing hands after contact with infected meat and accidentally ingesting the parasite.
  • Eating food contaminated by utensils, etc. have been in contact with raw, contaminated meat.
  • Drinking water contaminated with Toxoplasma.
  • Accidental ingestion due to not thoroughly washing hands after:
    • cleaning a litter box used by a cat that has shed Toxoplasma
    • gardening without wearing gloves
  • Eating unwashed garden fruits or vegetables
  • Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/toxoplasmosis/gen_info/faqs.html

Pregnant women, or people with weak immune systems need not worry that they will be forced to part with their beloved cats. Indoor only cats pose a smaller risk since they are less likely to come in contact with Toxoplasma. However, use common sense and avoid cleaning the litter box or, if you must, wear gloves. Always wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

There is actually a benefit to keeping Kitty when you are pregnant. Cats can improve health in young children. The chief of the allergic mechanisms section at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Marshall Plaut, MD says “high pet exposure early in life appears to protect against not only pet allergy but also other types of common allergies, such as allergy to dust mites, ragweed, and grass.” http://mentalfloss.com/article/51154/10-scientific-benefits-being-cat-owner

 
 
 
 

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