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

 
 
 
 

Reduce disease in cats with proper light and Circadian Rhythms

Recently Cat Faeries talked about how our modern house cats live in artificial light which causes them to shed year round. This week we will learn how to get our and our cat’s bodies to produce disease fighting melatonin using color and light.

This topic is very important to us because in 2016 we lost two dear Cat Faeries customers to cancer. Cancer among all species is on the rise and rather than talk about causes which we cannot stop or which will take serious collective effort to halt (Fukushima’s ongoing radiation spill into the oceans, and deregulation of US environmental, health and safety laws among them) we will talk about Circadian Rhythm, that 24 hour clock which signals sleep, brain alertness, and melatonin production.

If we follow nature’s rhythms which say when one should be in light, what kind of light, and even when to eat, the tools to reduce disease will be right inside every home! Dedicated to Linda and to Judy.

About Circadian Rhythms and how they affect your cats (and you)

Before the invention of artificial light and the industrial revolution, our ancestors and their animals lived in natural light centering their lives around sunrise and sunset. They got up early, were productive, ate dinner early and went to bed early – their evening light was candle light. Most did not die from cancer or other of our common modern diseases.

Researchers and doctors have told Cat Faeries that if you don’t eat and sleep as nature intended and follow the cycles of light and dark, we could be courting cancer and other illness. Our feline family members should follow the same laws of nature but they need your help as you control meal times and lighting.

What is The Circadian Rhythm?

The Circadian Rhythm is often called the “body clock” because it tells our bodies when to sleep, to rise, and to eat as well as regulating many of the body’s functions. This internal body “clock” is affected by many cues including environmental, such as sunlight and temperature. If a person’s or cat’s circadian rhythm is disrupted, eating and sleeping patterns are thrown off and chaos in the body results. Research is being done on adverse health effects to these disruptions which include heart attack, Diabetes, cancer, obesity, psychological problems like aggression, depression, bipolar disorder, psychosis, and other mental diseases.


 
 

Reducing cancer with sleep and the role of light

Our bodies need the two extremes of time spent in light and time spent in dark to be healthy and disease free.

We need the bright light of daylight hours which naturally contains all of the colors of the spectrum to give us the energy and brain power needed for the day. Our brains are awakened by this light which supports specific body functions. The light from the sun has a full color spectrum which includes blue.

In contrast, darkness contains the full color spectrum with the omission of blue. The absence of blue around us at night triggers the person’s or a cat’s body to manufacture its own melatonin which is our body’s main and natural anti oxidant – a crucial disease and rapid aging fighter. When the sun sets the darkness with its absence of the color blue activates melatonin which begins to flood the blood stream. If we turn on artificial lights which contain the daytime color spectrum, which includes blue, or we stare at computer screens, we prevent our bodies from producing cancer reducing melatonin. Blue light also causes insomnia as melatonin is a sleep hormone produced by the pineal gland in people and felines.

We need to produce melatonin, not suppress it as proven by science happens when we are surrounded by blue containing lights at night. If we compare the high rates of cancer, diabetes and other diseases of today to those of the distant past the numbers make a profound statement. Since your cat lives with you and is bound by your schedule you could be inadvertently harming your cat.

Melatonin reduces the four most common diseases affecting our modern house cats: kidney failure, hyperthyroid, cancer, and diabetes.

Don’t we all joke about how much our cats sleep? But what if we didn’t realize that our modern habits disrupt our modern house cat’s true sleep cycles to the degree that they are now not as nature intended. And what if our artificial lights at night are causing the four most common diseases in cats?

Much research and documentation is to be found about the positive healthful and even curative effects of melatonin on the four most common diseases which affect our cats. Cat Faeries feels after reading countless studies that it’s because of blue emitting artificial light at nighttime. You’ll see in this article this is very easy to correct.

We wondered about a cat’s eye which has an inner eye lid, and if it might act as a screen for blue light, but not enough tests have been done. It’s important to note that light is also absorbed through skin so our house cats could be absorbing blue light at night time when the cat isn’t sleeping with closed eyes.

Examples of melatonin’s effects on people and animals:

  • At Washington University rats with tumors were injected with melatonin rich blood. The tumors shrunk.
  • A group of nurses were studied for 20 years. Half of them worked daytime shifts, and the other half worked the night shifts. Far more of the graveyard shift nurses got breast and other cancers than the nurses who worked day because the night shift nurses body’s could not produce the protective melatonin they others did.

Blocking the color blue at LowBlueLights.com

Dr. Vilnis E. Kubulins is a “light physicist” at John Carroll University in Ohio, who with his associates highly decorated scientists Richard Hansler, Ph.D. and Edward Carome, Ph.D., founded LowBlueLights.com which manufactures computer screen covers, mobile device covers, and special eye glasses to block out blue light. Dr. Kubulins discussed the role of beneficial blue light in daytime hours and how that same light is harming us in nighttime hours.

Dr. Kubulins tells Cat Faeries: “All standard light bulbs, computer monitors, cell phones and TV screens emit blue light which halts nighttime melatonin production. Orange is opposite blue on the color spectrum, so orange neutralizes blue.”

LowBlueLights.com produces special blue light filters for laptop and computer screens, and mobile devices. They make special orange color eye glasses which you simply wear at night to block the blue, and they have developed blue-free LED light bulbs. The screens attach and detach easily, the eyeglasses can fit over prescription glasses, and each clean up quickly with soap and water.

Each of their items have been thoroughly tested and proven to completely block blue which is why we endorse these doctors for their extremely high standards and who have the same ethics that Cat Faeries has.

When it’s time to turn out the lights and remove the glasses you need to sleep in a completely dark room with heavy drapery as street lights emit blue and can disturb sleep.

Will everything be orange when I wear my blue-blocking glasses at night?

Dr. Vilnis told us that all of the colors of the spectrum come through the lenses except blue. Yellow will look yellow, red will look red, but the blue will look black or gray because you’ve blocked it out. Interestingly white will look amber because white contains all of the colors, but now it won’t contain blue. You’ll quickly get used to this just like you got used to sunglasses during the day.

Wouldn’t it be easier for me and my cat to pop a melatonin pill?

You could and your veterinarian can provide the dosage for your cat, but the tablets will not do the same as allowing your body or your cat’s body to produce melatonin imprinted with its own DNA which is far more effective and curative than a pill. It is unknown how long the melatonin from a pill would stay active in the body, but it is known that you and your cat will continually produce melatonin as long as you are not exposed to blue light at night. Your body and your cat’s body know exactly how much melatonin to produce – free of charge!

 
 
 
 

Is that cute cat food bowl really lead safe? (maybe not!)

Recently Madam Cat Faerie began to see a Naturopathic doctor who ordered all kinds of detailed tests to delve very deeply for root causes of various conditions that regular doctors either don’t know about, or don’t put much thought into, or even think are not needed. One test panel was for heavy metals which revealed that my blood has a high level of lead, in fact, the highest level this doctor has seen in any of her patients. How on green-earth did this happen to someone who’s been obsessively organic, and really careful about everything, and for decades? I asked Dr. Diane Angela Fong what she thought the top culprits might be and she narrowed her eyes at me and said “red lipstick is notorious.” GASP! I’m notorious for wearing it and thought I was buying the lead free brands! But more on that later in this article. Let’s talk about ceramics.

I spent the entire drive home thinking about possible lead exposures. Topping my list of potential trouble was my collection of vintage restaurant ware dishes. I wondered about my “good china” which was made years after it was mandated the glazes be lead free.

Well guess what dear readers; what we learned about “lead free glazes” will have your head spinning.

3M makes a kit called LeadCheck which is an accurate way to test for lead at home; in fact it’s actually a product that professionals use. Each package contains special “swabs.” They come 2 to a package or 8 to a package. They are expensive ranging from $4 to $6 per swab, but are easy to find in paint stores and hardware stores. There’s another brand called First Alert but we didn’t use those. We bought 3 packages of 8 swabs giving me 24 swabs to test with. Party time – nothing was safe for my test swabs! On a rainy Saturday afternoon of lead testing I was both relieved and horrified by the results.

What failed my swab tests:

A cute new lead-free tea cup

A new casserole (it has the bare clay areas where the lid meets the pot which were tainted during firing in an old kiln)

My French made enamel Dutch oven

“The good china” which was made 5 years after laws for lead free glazes went into effect

A cute new treat dish for the furry ones

Lead free glazes – why you can’t assume it’s all ok.

I called one of the largest glaze companies in the US the one that most potters and ceramists buy from. They gave me the usual song and dance that the glazes come to them with a guarantee. When I asked if they randomly check just to make sure about the lead, they got hissy and said “No, not anymore, we used to test but stopped, we trust our supplier.” I didn’t like that answer and they didn’t like that I pressed harder and that I wanted to know why they just accepted what they were told without randomly testing.

This conversation did not end well, but before they hung up on me, I did learn something very scary:

If the kiln is an old one and if that kiln ever fired pieces with leaded glazes the lead remains and will cross contaminate anything fired in the future.

Interestingly, when this glaze company did test for lead they used the 3M swabs.

As our long time readers have read in the past our cats have always had their food and water in clear glass Pyrex but for fun we have a few “cute” treat bowls for the cats and bunnies. One of them tested positive for lead.

Red Lipstick

A few years ago Mother Jones printed a very shocking article about lead in lipstick. I read it with horror that one of the top offenders was Nars which for years had been my “gluten free” lipstick of choice and the redder the better. I was so angry that I reprinted the article in Cat Faeries newsletter since many of you wear make-up, and who among us does not kiss their cat on the head? Dr. Fong tells me that very often the colorants that make lipstick red are lead based. Want to know if yours is safe?

Rub some lipstick on the back of your hand. Take a piece of gold jewelry, a ring is ideal, that is at least 14 karat gold (have it tested even if it’s marked 14K as it may be a much lower percentage of gold) and rub it into the lipstick. If it turns black – it’s got lead.

Here’s the Mother Jones article: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/05/study-lead-metals-lipstick-top-20

I hope that your take away is that we cannot be too cautious or trusting. Testing for potential lead in your cat’s food, water, and treat bowls as well as your own dishes is something to consider. Getting the lead of my body is going to be long and unpleasant. I hope that Cat Faeries has spared you and your cats from a toxic lead load. You can’t go wrong with American made clear glass Pyrex!
 
 
 

How to De-Skunk a Cat (or You) with Anti Icky Poo

Recently a customer wrote to ask if Anti Icky Poo would remove skunk musk from her cat’s fur. The cat probably wasn’t actually sprayed by the skunk, instead kitty probably rubbed up against a plant or bush that the skunk sprayed during a mating ritual to mark territory (sound familiar?) or to appear sexy. We at Cat Faeries adore skunks, in particular we love Skunkie who lives below ground in our front garden! And as you might expect every night we leave food and water for our gorgeous fluffy friend – did you know they are fond of cat food? Skunks are not particularly fussy eaters (cats, take note and learn from this!) however our dear Skunkie does not like rice but enjoys everything else we set out. We often see Skunkie and an outside cat sitting near each other in complete harmony. More on that below.

Since we are FOS (friends of skunks) we wanted to give our customer and you the best answer and solutions to this smelly problem.

But before we tell you how to de-skunk cat fur, dog fur, or you and you clothes let us tell you a few things about skunks. They are shy and very passive, and like cats, they are curious. They don’t seek to spray anyone and only do so when provoked or frightened – this is truly a last resort and if they fear they might be killed. They are solitary animals who would prefer peacefully keeping your garden free of small rodents, and harmful insects, worms and grub worms which might be in your soil eating away your greens and vegetables. Skunks are a healthy garden’s friend who come out to visit and hunt at dawn and dusk. If you are lucky you might see a mama skunk with babies in Spring. After the baby skunks are grown they leave their mother to strike out on their own, again, as solitary animals. Baby skunks are called kits… baby cats are called kittens… the similarities continue!

So far it seems that skunks and cats are compatible, or least they can co-exist well. We are told that skunks and outside cats will share a food bowl! We’ve observed Skunkie and a lovely pastel tortoiseshell cat sitting about 7 feet apart in the evening. Here’s a video of a cat and skunk caught on surveillance camera with infra-red. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFz7Na_G9Pw

Skunks are most active at dusk and dawn. Is it coincidence that your cat wants to eat at dusk and dawn too and run around like a crazy person?

How do you know if you are about to be “skunked?” Simultaneously the skunk’s back will be towards you and his head turned looking over his shoulder so he can see you (for good aim!) You might see red anal scent glands depending upon how light it is. With excellent aim and propulsion of up to 10 feet – BAM! – you’ve been skunked!

Here is how to de-skunk using Anti Icky Poo:

1) DO NOT PRE RINSE THE CAT! This spreads the oily skunk spray. Tomato juice will not work… you’ll have a cat that smells of tomatoes and skunk spray

2) Soak a large rag with Anti Icky Poo so that it’s very wet. Wipe down the cat (or dog) and allow to dry. Of you could take the cat’s brush which you’ve soaked in Anti Icky Poo then brush it through the fur. With either method you’ll re-apply in 2 hours. This should take care of it, if not, apply a third time. Rinse with another water soaked rag or a fresh brush to finish the treatment. Discard the rags and brushes. Please only use the unscented version as the fragrance can be irritating to skin, lungs, and eyes.

3) If it’s you who got skunked, soak your clothes in the washing machine with ½ cup of Anti Icky Poo and cold or warm water for a few hours or overnight. After you soak and rinse, wash the clothes with clothe soap and ¼ cup more of Anti Icky Poo. You could even wash your hair with Anti Icky Poo if you wish.

Here you can see a mama skunk and her adorable progeny approaching a man who stopped his bicycle to watch and video them. He’s perfectly respectful and quiet therefore there is no spraying of skunk musk proving that skunks would rather not spray. Also, aren’t their squeaks beyond cute? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WINFNvPjbG4

 
 
 

Another great use for Anti Icky Poo! Removing Ring Around the Collar!

Who’s old enough to remember those catchy commercials from the 1970’s? And who of us teased co-workers, parents, teachers, and class mates for their rings around their collars? And who is plagued with ring around the collar today? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3N_skYSGoY

Madam Cat Faerie for one! She’s one of those unfortunate people who makes a vivid ring on her collars even minutes after putting one on and on a stone-cold day no less! The oils of the ring become one with the fabric which nothing seems to remove completely – always remaining are streaks of yellow or traces. Madam Cat Faerie is also not willing to use toxic methods to clean up anything.

Recently I bought a divine long soft cotton button down white shirt and wore it Saturday. And of course it grew quite a ring despite having exfoliated my neck to a pink glow earlier! I would never use a potentially toxic cleaning agent like bleach (which doesn’t work anyway) so the bright idea of a soak in Anti Icky Poo was worth an experiment. We’ve told you that Anti Icky Poo removes oils from clothing (found this out when I spilled olive oil on a cotton dress). Mr. Cat Faerie, a car hobbyist, does similar soaks to remove auto grease from his clothes.

How to do it: Put ½ cup of unscented Anti Icky Poo in a tub with another ½ cup of cold or cool water. Place the soiled shirt with the collar going into the soaking solution first, then allow the rest of the garment to rest on top – all of it will get a nice stain removing soak. The first 24 hours removed most of it, but not enough, so the soaking went for 32 hours. SUCCESS! Every speck of yellow was gone baby gone! The shirt went into the machine for a quick wash in Seventh Generation – Free and Clear liquid clothes soap to remove the Anti Icky Poo. After drying overnight I’ll fearlessly wear that shirt over and over!