Your cat’s water bowl – do you know about biofilm?

Have you ever rubbed your fingers on the inside of your cat’s water bowl and felt a bit of goo or slime on the sides? What you are feeling is called biofilm.

Biofilm provides a cozy environment for organisms including E. coli, listeria, and legionella. When biofilm is not removed on a daily basis biofilm acts as an attractant for all kinds of bacteria and provides a nice comfy home for them to breed and multiply, and cause weakened immunity and disease. Think of biofilm as a living entity waiting to wreak havoc.

Keep biofilm out of your cat’s water and food bowls – wash them daily.

For water bowls:

Dump the left over water into a bucket for your garden along with other reusable water from the kitchen. Wash the bowl with hot water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Rinse and refill with filtered water.

For food bowls:

Even if you feed your cat dry crunchies don’t keep refilling the bowl. You must use a fresh clean bowl for each meal time because the oils from the food and saliva mix together to create a particularly nasty bio film and the oils go rancid (rancid oil is a cancer cell’s friend – cancer feeds on rancid oil and sugars). Keep a rotation of cat food bowls handy so that the time spent preparing their food is shortened for you. Soiled bowls go in the dishwasher or are washed by hand in hot soapy water.

We have 4 cats and we have 12 Pyrex bowls which we rotate at each meal. They are either washed by hand or go in the dishwasher at night.

The bowls we recommend for both food and water – clear Pyrex glass which allows you to see food particles, and they are very easy to clean. We love that they are dishwasher safe. You do not need to worry about the glass being toxic because Pyrex is made in the US.

Does your cat (or you!) have a chronic infection? Is your cat prone to bladder infection, urinary tract infections, ear infections, and other microbial / bacterial conditions? Biofilm in the water and food bowl could be the cause. By simply washing thoroughly you’ll save money on vet bills and you’ll keep your cat healthy for a long happy life with you.

More reading about biofilm:

A good definition:

About biofilm and infections:

Keeping your home biofilm free (as much as possible given that few of us are perfect little housekeepers!)

Biofilm also clings to our walls and items in our homes. Before it sounds like we are paranoid neat-freaks (which we are not, Madam Cat Faerie did not get the Martha Stewart gene) let us say that it’s good to be exposed to a certain amount of dirt and other crud. It’s good for the immunity and microbiome of any species. But we don’t’ want to be living in an environment that compromises anyone’s health.

One area of the house where we all should be concerned about is where the litter boxes are. That’s why we like keeping litter boxes in one area to create a cat-friendly litter box latrine area. The powders and dusts from cat litter can cling to the walls and other surfaces around the litter boxes. It’s important to wash down those walls. How often? If there are unhealthy people and animals in your home: weekly. Otherwise every 2 to 4 weeks will help tremendously.

Hot water and a washable terrycloth rag work wonders! They are free of cost and non-toxic.

Cats and Water (this isn’t what you think)

The theme of this week’s newsletter is all about water. We’ve dug up some information which might be surprising to you. It will certainly be interesting, and it could improve the health of all who dwell in your home.

Newton’s Purrspective – Cats in Formal Attire

Although dogs have been domesticated for 30,000 years cats took much longer to make that leap. (In fact, some researchers consider us “semi-domesticated”. Our genetic divergence from our desert dwelling ancestors is relatively recent. We joined humans a little over 9,000 years ago when agriculture fostered:

  1. a change from the previous nomadic lifestyle and
  2. a concentration of rodents!

Isaac Newton

Domestic felines are genetically close to our wild counterparts (in fact, at my house we are called “fe-lions”). Having evolved in the desert we are meant to get water with our food. Are we getting enough?

Here is a breakdown for water content of food:

  1. mice 70%
  2. canned food 78%
  3. dry food 5-10%

We should always have access to water, but with just a dry diet we need to drink more. How can you be sure Kitty will drink what she needs?

Everyone agrees that food and water should be placed as far as possible from the litter box area. That’s one even humans appreciate, aesthetically as well as to avoid bacterial contamination. However, does it make a difference if food and water are side by side? Some cats do prefer separation. Our wild relatives often capture prey at watering holes and would want clean water some distance from the kill.

Any stagnant water is likely to contain bacteria or other harmful organisms. Kitty’s attraction to running water (and hence, the popularity of cat fountains) may be instinctual.

All water is not created equal. The four basic types are:

  1. municipal tap water
  2. well water
  3. distilled water
  4. spring water

Please keep in mind that any water can be filtered to remove harmful contaminants.

Municipal water may contain chlorine by-products, fluoride, bacteria, arsenic, toxic pesticide residues, heavy metals, and even rocket fuel. (yikes!) Compared to this, the three others seem like ambrosia. However, depending on your location even well water may have contamination. The only way to know for sure is to have it tested by a reliable laboratory. (This should be a concern for the whole family.)

Does that mean distilled water is the answer? Absolutely not! It is so pure it is tasteless and contains none of the molecules and particles needed for health. Drinking only distilled water can lead to deficiencies in sodium, potassium and vital trace minerals. People who drink distilled water exclusively may suffer from high blood pressure and irregular heartbeats.

The best option, for cats and their people) is spring water, assuming it is from a good quality natural spring. (Some bottled water is known to be simply tap water in a bottle.)

Water is good and necessary for life. However, too much or too little are signs of potential illness requiring veterinary advice. A dehydrated cat will lose skin elasticity (noticeable at the scruff on the back of the neck). Drinking excessive water (is Kitty always at the water bowl?) may be an indication of problems such as kidney disease, hyperthyroidism or diabetes.

August is Tuxedo cat month at Cat Faeries and smart cat Issac Newton wants to tell you about them

All dressed up with everywhere to go is the gorgeous tuxedo cat. Many of them have white spats, slippers, socks, or little shoes on their feet (even after Labor Day!). They have a wide variety of patterns on their bodies and faces, always with a lot of white with black, or gray, or other colors to create a very regal, elegant formal looking feline!

Some people feel their temperaments are particularly pleasing – would you agree?

We asked our good friend Sir Issac Newton, who’s one smart cat and always has a very unique purrrspective, to tell us about the origins of these delightfully marked cats.

Newton’s Purrspective – Cats in Formal Attire

Who are all these cats dressed in tuxedos and where are they going? They go everywhere, of course! “Tuxedo” describes a particular color pattern in a bi-colored cat that gives them the appearance of dressing for a black tie event. Although feline color genetics are sometimes a mystery we do know that the gene for white spotting is dominant. It masks the cat’s true color in the areas where white occurs. So a tuxedo cat has one gene for solid color and one gene for white spotting. If the white spotting gene wasn’t there the cat would be one solid color.

Isaac Newton

Traditionally, Tuxedos are mostly black with white trim on the face, chest and feet. But let’s not be stuffy! Some of us are fashion trend setters and wear grey or orange tuxes. Although it is not obvious in my photo, I have the white bib and feet, but I also have stripes. So I like to think of myself as the “cat in the pinstripe suit”.

Virtually any breed can wear a tuxedo since it is a color pattern, not a breed characteristic. Although there is no scientific evidence linking Tuxies with personality traits, I think they all know they possess a certain elegance.

People seem to agree. Some of the most famous cat characters are tuxedos. For example:

  1. Felix the cat (cartoon from the silent film era)
  2. Sylvester (Looney Tunes cartoon)
  3. The Magical Mr. Mistoffeles from the musical “Cats”

It is said that Shakespeare and Beethoven both had tuxedo cats – always dressed for the theater, no doubt.

The Hidden Cancer Danger in Cat Vaccination

For the past 25 years or so there has been a lot talk about how vaccinations are causing cancer in cats. As you would imagine this is quite a hot topic with many opinions. We thought we’d ask our favorite feline expert in all things cat-ish, Newton, to shed light (but not fur!) on this topic. People often ask us if we vaccinate our cats who are 100% indoor cats – we do not.

Newton’s Purrspective – The Hidden Danger in Vaccination

A veterinarian recently posted this on his Facebook page.

“Saw another fibrosarcoma induced by vaccination in a cat. That makes 13 in my career. Three in Florida all caused by other practices. None caused by Merial’s Purevax vaccines. Cat owners, I can’t warn you enough about learning what kind of vaccinations your veterinarian is using. ALL KILLED vaccines contain adjuvant. These are chemicals that sit in the area of the vaccine and cause chronic irritation and these tumors in low but significant numbers of cats. Ask what kind of vaccine is used. Ask to see the label before it is given. The type of vaccine is written on the label. If they won’t discuss it, run away. If they won’t show you the label, run away. Killed vaccines are cheap. If they use them they care more about keeping their costs down than the safety of your cat.” Peter Veling DVM

Isaac Newton

In the late 1980’s veterinarians in the northeastern part of the US started noticing cancerous tumors (fibrosarcomas) in young cats. This was surprising in itself, but these tumors were also occurring at sites where vaccinations are normally injected.

Why did this happen in the northeast? Well, there had been outbreaks of rabies in raccoons as well as feline leukemia in this part of the country. So without any scientific reason I can see many cats were getting these vaccinations yearly. Although the tumor is rare, a greater number of vaccinations administered increased the chance of a cat developing cancer.

Why did the tumors appear at vaccination sites? The tumors are not caused by the antigen (e.g. rabies virus) itself. Killed viruses are often used, but to increase the immune response an adjuvant is added. This adjuvant also causes inflammation and sets the stage for a potential tumor.

I could find no evidence that trauma from the needle itself was related to cancer. However, your veterinarian should use the smallest needle (25 g) to make the injection as painless as possible for Kitty.

If caught early this soft tissue tumor can be removed surgically. However, it is extremely aggressive so the surgical excision must go far beyond the apparent boundaries of the tumor.

How do veterinarians decrease your cat’s risk? Feline vaccinations are now done subcutaneously (under the skin) so any lumps can be detected earlier than if they are deep in the muscle. They are also injected as far down the leg as possible. (They are no longer given in the back of the neck.) If a cat does develop cancer amputation of the leg increases chances of survival. Tail vaccination (developed at the University of Florida) is a new alternative.

Vaccination protocols are under constant review and are revised by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP). All kittens should be vaccinated since maternal antibodies only provide temporary protection. Adult cats should be examined yearly and only vaccinated if they are high risk based on their age and lifestyle. Antibody titers (obtained from a blood sample) can determine if your cat has adequate immunity.

Feline vaccines are also administered in locations according to AVMA/AAFP recommendations:

  • left rear leg – feline leukemia (FeLV)
  • right rear leg – rabies
  • right front leg – distemper/upper respiratory (FVRCP)
  • left front leg – reserved for any other needed vaccine

This aids researchers in determining correlations between tumors and certain vaccines.

What can you do to decrease your cat’s risk? Discuss the need for any vaccinations with your veterinarian. Please note that, despite human health concerns, feline rabies vaccination in NOT required in all states. If you do not wish to vaccinate adult cats you can ask for an immunity titer. If you do vaccinate insist on vaccines that DO NOT CONTAIN ADJUVANT.

Did the presence of leukemia disappear in these “miracle cats”?

Newton’s Purrspective – The Texas “Miracle Cats”

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is the most common cause of cancer in cats. It can also lead to a variety of blood disorders and/or immune deficiency. FeLV is transmitted through bodily fluids and kittens may even be infected in utero. Although a vaccine is available it is not 100% effective and there is no known cure.

FeLV positive cats are routinely euthanized in most shelters. A small number of shelters provide separate housing, keeping them forever, or only adopt them out to homes without other cats. I recently watched the video about “the ‘miracle’ cats at Shadow Cats in Round Rock, Texas. No one knows how or why, but after years of living under the cloud of the Feline Leukemia Virus, they’ve managed to clear the deadly virus from their bodies.”

How could this happen?

Isaac Newton

According to the video 10 cats who had tested positive for FeLV were negative when retested later. This is almost 50% of their usual FeLV positive population. Exact time frames and type of test used are not given, so I have to make some educated guesses regarding what happened.

There are two stages of the disease:

  • Primary viremia – during this stage some cats can effectively fight off the disease and eliminate the virus
  • Secondary viremia – at this point the virus is in the bone marrow and cannot be eliminated

There are two types of blood tests used to diagnose FeLV:

  • ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) performed on site
  • IFA (indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay) sent out to a diagnostic laboratory

ELISA detects both primary and secondary viremia, but cannot differentiate between the two. IFA detects only the secondary stage.
If the ELISA was positive on a pet cat a blood sample would be sent for IFA to provide an accurate diagnosis. However, shelters typically use only the cheaper in house tests. A positive test means the cat will be euthanized or housed solely with other FeLV positive cats.

So what happened at the Shadow Cats shelter?

  1. ELISA can give false positive results so some of the cats might never have had FeLV.
  2. Some of the cats may have had only primary viremia.
  3. Although reversal of primary viremia is not common, it can occur.

IMPORTANT! I do need to clarify something. The narrator used the term “shed” several times when describing cats who no longer tested positive. He does not understand and is misusing an important medical term. Not understanding what “shed” or “shedding” really means could have fatal consequences.

Shedding means that the cat is releasing the virus – much like that period of time when one human is contagious and can transmit a nasty cold to another human. When a cat is shedding a virus this is a period of time when the virus would likely infect other cats in the environment. What he should have said is that the cats no longer had the virus in their bodies so they were not carriers any longer. This is why it was safe to move them out of the isolation area.

I do wonder what prompted them to retest the first FeLV positive cat. Prior to the surprising negative result they had no protocol for retesting. The cats in the video certainly looked healthy and well cared for. Their environment appeared to have minimal stress – something that is critical both for preventing and for curing disease.

So, here is what I think.

  • Either the miracle cats never had FeLV, or they had the stage that is reversible.
  • A nurturing environment helped the FeLV positive cats to fight off the disease while it was still in the early stage.
  • It certainly makes a case for retesting FeLV positive cats, both after the initial positive results (to rule out false positives), and after being housed away from non-infected cats for some time (to see if cats in the primary stage had fought off the virus successfully).

Meet a cat who travels the world on a boat!

Ahoy mates! Have you ever dreamed about saying bye-bye to all that binds and holds us back and saying to hello to a life of total freedom and adventure? And with your cat?

What better way to continue the 4th of July celebration freedom than by meeting Matt and Jessica Johnson who quit their jobs, sold everything and in August of 2011 they set sail around the world. A year later they adopted a cat named Georgie who not only loves living on the boat, but loves a good swim! Inspiring story. Great photos!