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.
 
 
 
 

Celebrating 20 years of Kidney Kitty, a flower essence formula for cats to support kidneys

One day, shortly before Halloween in 1996 a customer called, in tears, devastated because the veterinarian had just given her cat a few months to live from renal failure. She pleaded with us to try to create something with flower essences to help. At that time we were only formulating flower essences for emotional assistance, not health care. But we took her request very seriously and researched the Kidney Meridian according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. We poured over our collection of flower essences to see which ones would be ideal for a formula.

We sent a bottle of our first attempt to this customer to try. She received it early November 1996. Thanksgiving came and went, Christmas came and went, and we did not hear from her. Assuming it had failed we put the formula away. Shortly after New Year’s she called apologizing for not getting back in touch. We could hear excitement in her every word! Not only had the cat survived but she had grown strong again, her fur was coming back, her appetite was back, and the big shocker – this cat had taken over as alpha cat bossing around the other 4 cats. The cat lived another two years.

Kidney Kitty flower essence formula supports the kidneys of cats – and at any age. It’s not too soon to start a younger cat on the drops which support these organs which are vulnerable to shrinking and not functioning well as a cat ages! Our own cats have lived very long lives and only succumbed to kidney failure at very advanced ages. We wish the same for your cats!

 
 

Cat Faeries’ Eleven Commandments for Living with Cats

Cats really and truly want nothing more than to be loved. They want our approval and acceptance. They want us to care for them as if they are the most precious thing in our lives. Cats are highly sensitive and emotional. When they are upset or scared, or annoyed, they let us know in many ways including peeing on something. They just don’t know that this action completely freaks a person out and for good reason, the smell is horrible, and there is the worry that it was happen again and again.

We bumped into this “A Cat’s Ten Commandments” on Facebook. It’s good but we wanted to put our own spin and viewpoint on it. We hope you like it. Share it far and wide if you do like it.

Cat Faeries’ Eleven Commandments for Living with Cats

  1. My life time here on Earth will be anywhere from 8 years to over 22 years. During that time I need you to love me and care for me as best you can.
  2. Be patient with me and understand that I am an animal who is trying to live in a home. I’m trying to be well behaved. I am not a child with the perspective of a human. While my brain might be like that of a 3 or 4 year child I have the instincts and temperament of a feline. I may do things that you do not understand, but please try to. I’m my own species.
  3. Should you lose your temper with me and yell at me, hit me, kick me or throw me remember that your brain is much bigger than mine, that you weigh at least 15 times more than I do, and that you have the ability to rationalize and forgive what I did. You can walk away or calmly address it. You can open your mind and heart to see that I am different from you…
  4. I need the respect of all who enter our home, no matter their age, personality, or status. I need the respect of all who dwell in our home – without exception. They don’t have to love me, but to accept me and be kind to me at all times. Do not allow any form of abuse in our home, ever.
  5. Do not abandon me. Do not dump me on the streets or in a shelter. Do not choose me over a baby or boyfriend/husband/girlfriend/wife. I am family. I am part of your family. I add enrichment to our family.
  6. I will grow old, frail, and weak – as will you. Would you like it if someone “got rid of” you? Promise me you’ll erase the phrase “got rid of” from your vocabulary about me and other animals.
  7. Pay attention to me. Pet me, but not too much – know when I’ve had too much. Keep my nails trim, my fur brushed, my teeth looked at by a veterinarian.
  8. Food is everything to a cat. We may not be rich but please buy me or make me the best food that you can. Do not buy cheap lifeless food because it’s cheap. Do your best. Food is both my pleasure and sustenance.
  9. If you must leave me to spend hours away from home hunting for those green pieces of paper that buy cat food and pay bills, know that I worry about you. You could be pounced on by a bigger animal while you are out hunting. If your hunt means you are gone for a few days please have a kind person come to feed me and talk to me in your absence. It will help my delicate nerves and ultimately my health and well-being.
  10. Provide for me some great toys, warm soft places to sleep, and as much quiet and peace as you can create in our home. Remember, if our home is healthful and safe for me that it is healthful and safe for you too.
  11. The time will come when my body gives out and it’s time for me to go, to cross The Rainbow Bridge. Please be with me up until the end. Stroke my fur. Talk to me. Remind me of our good times together. Remind me of our love for each other. Tell me that you look forward to seeing me again when your time comes. I loved you with all of my heart.
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Hyperthyroidism and Your Cat

Newton’s Purrspective – Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease in older cats ( > 10 years). Enlarged thyroid glands produce too much hormone (T3 and T4) causing a metabolic imbalance which leads to severe health issues if untreated. Cornell Feline Health Center – Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Symptoms often include:

  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Increased water consumption and urination


Isaac Newton

 

Thyroid hormones affect nearly all the organs so these secondary problems are common:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Enlargement of the heart (and heart disease)
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Kidney disease (due to the kidneys working overtime as the blood rapidly circulates)

Diagnosis involves feeling Kitty’s throat for enlargement of the thyroid glands and a blood test for thyroid hormone levels. (Please note these symptoms could also indicate diabetes or other problems. That is why the bloodwork is so important.)

The good news is that hyperthyroid disease responds well to current medications. Medications – easier said than done, right? Compounding pharmacies now make tastier pills and chewables. A gel that is applied to the inside of Kitty’s ear has been a lifesaver for cats that hate ALL oral medications (you know who you are).

The two alternative treatments are:

  • Removal of the thyroid glands (which carries a surgical risk)
  • Treatment with radioactive iodine to destroy the abnormal tissue

The latter is quite safe and effective, but may be out of range in most cat lovers’ budgets.

Now that you know the basics about hyperthyroidism symptoms and treatments you are probably wondering how cats get it in the first place. We know that the incidence of feline thyroid disease has increased in the last 30 years. This is likely a combination of awareness and of increased longevity in general. Remember this is a disease of older cats. But can a direct cause be determined? Is it genetic? Is it environmental?

Some researchers are looking at environmental toxins that may also be incorporated into cat foods. Research is just starting to be published. http://www.chicagonow.com/steve-dales-pet-world/2016/01/could-some-cat-food-be-causing-hyperthyroid-disease/ One study found chemicals known to potentially harm humans in certain fish based cat foods. However, to date there is no demonstrated link to feline hyperthyroidism. Additional research is clearly needed.

Environmental toxins are a concern for all of us. You may remember the classic “Silent Spring” which led to banning the poison DDT. A less familiar book “Our Stolen Future” describes how chemicals can mimic hormones in the body. When we discover what causes hyperthyroidism in cats we will also better understand thyroid issues in other species, including humans. Until then our best defense is a good offense.

All cats should have regular checkups. If Kitty has any of the symptoms listed above please see your vet as soon as possible. Catching and treating thyroid problems early can minimize the damage to other organs.

 
 

How coconut oil will help your cat’s health.

If you are using coconut oil for your health and cooking then you know already know about many of its benefits for people. You’ll be happy to know that your cat will benefit from coconut oil too.

Among the reasons to add ½ to 1 teaspoon to your cat’s food every day:

  • Coconut oil provides the much needed “medium chain fatty acids.”
  • It is 90% saturated fat which is vital for brain health and can stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Coconut oil is about 40% lauric acid which has been shown to be a preventative of some cancers.
  • Improved digestion, say goodbye to constipation and finding hard cats poops on the floor.
  • Improves thyroid function
  • Antimicrobial
  • Anti bacterial
  • Anti fungal
  • Full of antioxidants
  • Helps prevent the parasite: Giardia
  • Helps the cat absorb more minerals and other nutrients from food.
  • Has been found to fight staph infection better than antibiotics.
  • Immune system boosting.
  • Prevents fur balls
  • Clear up rashes by applying it directly.
  • Heal wounds fast by applying it directly.

Adding coconut oil to cat food:

It’s easy to mix ½ to 1 teaspoon in canned cat food or homemade cat food. Start with a small amount and work up to ½ to 1 teaspoon per day. If you live in a hot climate your coconut oil is probably liquefied so spooning it out is easy. If your climate or house is cool to cold it will be solid – in that case spoon it out, put in a bowl and with your spoon press to soften, then add the food and mix. If you feed crunchies/kibble do your best to mix the two together. Most cats like the taste of coconut oil – we even have a video for you at the end of this newsletter with a cat eating coconut from the shell!

People: improve you oral health and detoxify

The humans at Cat Faeries are big users of coconut oil and in particular we love the Ayurvedic therapy of “oil pulling” or “oil swishing” for our mouths. The oil “pulls” toxins which are spat out after 15 minutes of swishing. Tartar melts away before it can harden which means better gum health and fewer trips to the dentist. It is said that medical conditions such as diabetes improve. Floss first, then swish – we can almost guarantee that a few sneaky food particles hid and will be dislodged by the oil – surprise! Daily swishing means your teeth will be whiter, your gums stronger, and your breath will be fresher. Your mouth will feel sparkling clean for hours after.

Alas, cats can’t swish oil in their mouths, but because you add it to their food they will be happy with improved digestion and to have fur worthy of flaunting! Not to mention your cat is going to feel healthier, younger, and have more bounce to their pounce – the oil will improve their joints!

Here’s one of many articles on coconut oil for swishing.

http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/oil-pulling-whiten-your-teeth-detoxify-your-body-and-prevent-cavities/

Here’s a great article about medium chain fatty acids:

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/10/22/coconut-oil-and-saturated-fats-can-make-you-healthy.aspx

When Should Your Cat See an Eye Doctor?

A cat’s eyes view the world with razor sharp detail and precision, and generally a healthy cat will have good vision for all 9 lives. But things can cause loss of vision and it’s best to know what can go wrong, how it can go wrong, and where to seek out the best help. A veterinary eye specialist who has extra diagnostic skills would be your cat’s new best friend.

Cat Faeries trusty feline friend Newton gives us the cat’s eye view of feline vision health, and the medical conditions which can affect it.


Newton’s Purrspective – When Should Your Cat See an Eye Doctor?

Have you ever taken your cat to an eye doctor?

Most people assume cats have nearly perfect vision. In reality their visual acuity is in the range of 20/100 to 20/200. This means that what a cat can see at 20 feet a person can see at 100-200 feet. Of course, we do excel at night vision, needing only 1/6 the amount of light a human would need. http://www.businessinsider.com/pictures-of-how-cats-see-the-world-2013-10 Being nearsighted is no handicap for us at all. The real problem is the eye diseases cats get, some of which can lead to permanent blindness.


Isaac Newton

The most frequently diagnosed ailment is conjunctivitis, an inflammation of the mucous membranes around the eye. It is highly contagious, but curable if treated promptly. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotic eye drops or ointment. In addition, you may wish to supplement this with a holistic remedy such as Colloidal Defense, which has many immune system benefits beyond helping eyes heal. Cats also need a calm environment to recover from any illness and to remain healthy. I have four feline siblings and I don’t know what we would do without Convivial Housecat and the Ball of Twine CD. (People enjoy this music too!)

More serious eye conditions include:

An ocular discharge or pawing at the eye are clear signs that professional help is needed as soon as possible. A scratched cornea from rough play is very painful! However, some problems have no obvious symptoms and can only be diagnosed with special instruments such as an ophthalmoscope. When Kitty has an exam your vet will evaluate both eye condition and overall health. (An eye problem can be related to other health issues.) You may then be referred to a veterinary ophthalmologist for additional diagnostics and care.

Cataracts are visible as a cloudiness in the center of the eye. Left untreated they can lead to glaucoma. http://www.veterinaryeyeinstitute.com/cataract-surgery/

Symptoms of glaucoma include pain and swelling of the eyeball. Blindness occurs rapidly if the pressure inside the eye is not reduced. Medications to relieve pain and reduce pressure will be prescribed, but in some cases surgery may be needed. http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/glaucoma-in-cats/3938

Uveitis has variable symptoms including squinting, light sensitivity, tearing and discoloration of the eye. http://animaleyecare.net/diseases/uveitis/ The cause, though often difficult to determine, is usually trauma, infection or cancer. The chosen treatment will depend on the probable cause. If glaucoma is also present this MUST be treated as well. Immune system support is vital. (Colloidal Defense helps support the immune system.)

Melanomas are the most common eye tumors in cats. Usually areas of increased pigmentation are visible. However, please note that not all increased pigmentation is pathological – discoloration is often benign. My sister, Tommy Lee Jones, has “iris freckles” in one eye. Don’t take chances with your cat’s eyes. Only a trained professional can make a diagnosis. http://veterinaryvision.com/for-veterinarians/clinical-forum/specific-disease-topics/feline-ophthalmology/

The most common diseases leading to blindness are:

  • uveitis (may be associated with infection or trauma)
  • retinal detachment (often associated with high blood pressure due to hyperthyroidism)
  • trauma (provide a safe environment and trim toenails to decrease risk)

http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/health_information/vision.cfm

An eye exam should be part of your cat’s regular veterinary checkup, as well as blood tests for hyperthyroidism in senior cats. However, if you suspect any problems with your cat’s eyes please seek professional help as soon as possible. Prompt treatment may save Kitty’s sight.