The “Cats and Culture Tour” of Italy’s street cats and sanctuaries, October 2010

Of course we all love cats! And we all probably love Italy and all things Italian too. Who knew that the Italians have had a love affair with cats spanning centuries? Well, they love them. Street cats are not viewed as pests like they are in the US. They are fed and cared for, often by adorable ladies who sit down on park benches, feed the cats and relax in the sunshine

Friends of Roman Cats is a US based organization which raises money for the street cats of Rome and other parts of Italy and for the cat sanctuaries. They help pay for spay/neuter, medical expenses and food. They also raise money to spay/neuter cats in San Francisco. Here’s some information about this very unique and special tour. We hope you can go! Ciao Bella!

From the Friends of Roman Cats…
Friends of Roman Cats is excited to announce another Cats and Culture Italian tour this coming October! The tour offers cat lovers and lovers of Italy a chance to see how another country treats its homeless / feral cat population. Italy is a No-Kill country where cats have been appreciated for centuries for their companionship and for keeping down rodent populations. You will meet dedicated individuals who care for some of Italy’s stray cats and learn what is working and not working with Animal Welfare in another country. The tour will be a way for people to understand Italy and Italians through the way they interact with animals The tour will start in Venice where we will meet some of the cats whose ancestors came from the Middle East to combat plague-carrying black rats. We will visit a cat colony that lives in Venice’s main public hospital and see more cats and their dedicated caretaker on Venice’s Lido Island. We will have plenty of time to visit some of Venice’s greatest artistic treasures and take in its beauty.

The tour will proceed to Florence where we will see the cats that live in a magnificent Renaissance garden, and in a picturesque cemetery that looks down on the City. Participants will have ample time to explore this beautiful city. Then we will visit a cat sanctuary in the Tuscan hills on a property donated by a beneficent Countess. We will next visit the medieval town of Arezzo and meet with an Anglo-Italian veterinarian who has created a 21st century cat shelter outside the town. We will spend the next day and night in the beautiful hill town of Siena where we will have a guided tour of the town and visit with a group that works with the Sienese municipality to spay and neuter Siena’s stray cats. We will spend our last 3 days in Rome, visiting the Forum, Coliseum, The Vatican, the Trevi Fountain and other monuments in historic Rome, and as well as some of the cat colonies that live in the midst of Roman ruins. All the cats in the shelters and sanctuaries we visit have been spayed or neutered. A good number of them are former house cats that have either been abandoned or whose owners could no longer care for them.

The tour will begin on October 7th 2010 and end on Oct.19. The price for 15 people will be $3,025 double occupancy. A single rate of $549 is available and there is a $500 deposit that will be refunded if we do not get enough people by May 1. It will include 3-star hotels or better with breakfasts, some dinners, a comfortable private bus, a one-time transfer from the Venice airport to the hotel, vaporetto tickets for 2 days in Venice, entrance fees to some museums and historical sites, local city guides and all the cats you can desire! $250 of the price is a tax-deductible donation and goes to help the shelters we will visit. Susan Wheeler, President of Friends of Roman Cats will accompany the group. For most of the tour a tour manager will also accompany the group.

 The dollar is stronger right now than it has been in several years. This price is based on current prices so the sooner people sign up, the better. People who sign up before April 1 will get a $50 discount.

Is your cat a chub muffin? Help your cat lose weight.

Is your cat a chub muffin? Help your cat lose weight.

A cat must lose weight very slowly. Rapid weight loss can cause liver failure as the liver cannot process the fat fast enough. So if your cat is tipping the scales either weigh the cat yourself (baby scales are a great investment when you have small animals) or take the cat to the vet.

Once you know the cat’s weight your vet will tell you how many calories a day the cat should eat to slowly lose weight. Since we are not veterinarians we cannot advise you on this.

When you know how many calories your cat needs a day call the cat food company and ask how many calories are in their food. They usually are more than happy to tell you. If you are feeding raw look up meat in any calorie counting book for people.

If you have just one cat it’s easy. Feed two meals a day. Half of the portion in morning, and the other half at night.

If you have more than one cat here’s how we helped Tasha lose 3 pounds about 10 years ago: We picked a room in the house with a door that shuts to be her special dining room. We put her portion of food into TWO BOWLS! Ha! We could tell by the look in her eyes what she was thinking “oh boy, two bowls, twice as much!” Her bowls went into the special dining room, we picked her up and put her in the room and shut the door. Then we fed the other cats in the regular kitty dining room. After 30 minutes we collected their food bowls and washed them out. Then we collected Tasha’s food bowls and washed them out. No more food for any of the cats until the next meal.

It took awhile for all of the cats to realize that they needed to eat when the food appeared. After a few days Tasha figured out that she ate in a special room and she’d follow us at feeding time.

It took about a year for Tasha to lose the 3 pounds. Her vet was very pleased, and we could tell she felt a lot better. She continued to eat separately for a few more years until we felt that she no longer wanted to pig out on food.

One last thought: Before separating her from the others, Tasha used to gulp down her food, then clean up everyone else’s food bowls. But by putting her portion into 2 bowls after awhile she’d leave a few bits behind. Also, not having the competition in the kitty dining room was very relaxing to her she no longer gulped, she ate slowly.

When you have multiple cats each cat needs their own food bowl. Set them at least 3 feet apart for privacy and to minimize food competition.

Tips for giving a cat Sub Q fluids

If the day comes that your vet tells you that it’s time for your cat to start getting fluids don’t despair, it’s not an automatic death sentence. Many cats live and thrive for many years because of the fluids. You’ve seen photos of our own Three Little Olde Ladies: they get their fluids, they enjoy this ritual, and they amaze their vets with how healthy and happy they are!

When you notice your aging cat isn’t grooming or looks a bit greasy, especially near the tail, or you see dandruff, weight loss, and a bit of lethargy, get your kitty into the vet for testing. Because the kidneys are not functioning at 100% and toxins are building up – the cat feels “hung over” which is not a nice feeling.

Sub Q fluids will make your cat feel so good that most cats begin to associate the fluids with feeling better and won’t fight you (or your house call vet tech).

Think of it as The Daily Love Ritual: The time you spend with your cat giving fluids can be looked at as a time to express love. Pet and massage your cat. Lots of kisses and kind words. A ritual where you hang up the bag, insert a fresh needle, adjust the line, insert the needle, release the brake on the line to let the fluid flow. Stroke the cat, talk pretty to the cat. It can be a relaxing experience for you and the cat.

Finding a vet tech: Not everyone wants to administer the fluids themselves which is completely understandable, don’t feel like you must do this. Call every vet hospital around and ask for referrals and interview all of them. Select the one who’s got the most experience but who is also the kindest and has a gentle manner – this is very important. You cat needs to like this person a lot and gentle and loving is imperative. Our vet tech is practically family now!

Fluids, lines and needles: The costs of these necessary items can add up fast. Our favorite and least spendy sources are: Brico Medical Supply ( and Stat Medical Supplies ( You’ll need to fax them a copy of the prescription from your vet. Their prices for cases of fluids is very low, but shipping a case of fluids is costly due to weight, so for you East Coast people use Brico, West Coast people use Stat.

Needles: Most needles are now made in China (you know how we feel about that) and the quality can be iffy. The sharpness of the point can vary, and a dull needle causes pain. The only needles we use are Terumo brand. This is a Japanese brand of needle which has an ultra sharp point so that insertion is as painless as possible (our cats don’t flinch at all). We use 19 gauge which is usually just the right size for a cat – not to big, and not too small.

Warm up the fluid bag!: Warming up the fluid bag in a bowl of hot water will warm the liquid which makes the experience so much more comfortable for the cat. We do not recommend microwaving your fluid bags (or anything else). Usually the bag of fluid is a nice warm temperature after about 10 minutes.

 Administering the fluids: We find that picking up the cat and moving kitty to a place that’s convenient for our vet tech stresses the cat. Our vet tech goes to where the cat is (usually in a cat bed on the floor or on top of a people-bed). The fluids are suspended from a coat hanger which can then be hung from a window or door frame, bed post, top of a dresser (be creative!). You’ll see in the photo that we bent the ends of the coat hanger, this keeps the bag centered and balanced.

Love and Kindness: Kisses and chin scratches while the needle is in and fluids are flowing make all the difference. Gently massage the cat for relaxation and well being really help too (stay tuned for upcoming articles about acupressure massage for cats). The more you pour on the love the more the cat will learn to enjoy getting their fluids. Our’s purr!

Diet: Ok, this is going to be a hot potato of controversy. Most vets are saying that cats in any stage of renal failure must have low protein cat food. But our wholistic vets disagree. They say that our carnivorous friends need protein for brain function and to support all other body systems and functions. We were confused too, and therefore we bounced around feeding our cats low protein cat food, then not, and back again. Finally we opted for “what makes them happy and gives quality of life” and that’s protein. But this is purely subjective, ultimately it’s your decision. Do the research, there is a lot of it online.

Alternative Support: If you are fortunate enough to have a skilled veterinary acupuncturist in your area your cat will really benefit from treatments. Our cats get acupuncture, homeopathy, and herbs. Our vet is Dr. Cheryl Schwartz who’s book “Four Paws, Five Directions: Traditional Chinese Medicine for Cats and Dogs” is a MUST HAVE! You will learn how to do acupressure massage which you cat will love the feel of, and which will boost health exponentially. Cheryl does not do phone consultations nor does she reply to emails with questions. But if you email us or become a Facebook fan with very brief questions we will save them and in future newsletters publish her replies.

Daily Support: Cat Faeries Kidney Kitty helps support the kidney function and kidney meridian with Cat Faeries Kidney Kitty. Our own cats get it every day in their water bowl, even the youngest one who’s 3. Our oldest is 22. Kidney Kitty + Sub Q fluids has our oldest ones feeling pretty darned good and youthful.

Free stickers for your day planner or wall calendar – easy reminders to change your refills

Free with your order of Comfort Zone with Feliway Diffusers or Refills! Exclusively from Cat Faeries for our customers: Cute and handy monthly refill reminder stickers for your 2010 wall calendar or day planner. You’ll get 12 self-adhesive stickers – each is 1″ diameter (shown a bit larger in the picture).

Remembering when to change the refills for your Comfort Zone with Feliway diffusers isn’t easy. We hear from people all the time who will remember the first few months then they start to forget. Even we forget!

Now you’ll know exactly when to swap out an empty refill bottle and replace it with a new one. They even have our website address on them.

Happy New Year! You’ll just love how organized you are going to be this year.

Can San Francisco BAN cat declawing?

UPDATE:  November 10, 2009 – we did it!  The Board of Supervisors VOTED TO BAN DECLAWING IN SF!

Here’s our first blog post:

The citizens of the city named after St Francis are trying to convince the Board of Supervisors to ban the de-clawing of cats.  Can we do it?   Cat Faeries certainly hopes so!

At present only one city in the US has successfully banned the procedure which declaws cats.   Several years ago West Hollywood banned the cruel, painful, and unncessary amputation of a cat’s joints.

Santa Monica is “considering” a ban.   What’s up with the good people of this country?  Nearly every European nation has banned this horrible operation!   Why are we lagging behind?

Tragically, the San Francisco SPCA is no longer the cutting edge shelter it once was when it lead the way for the No Kill movement under the guidance of Richard Avanzino.  Under the direction of controversial Jan McHugh Smith they are refusing to support the ban!     Heck, with her at the helm, they are not even a No Kill shelter any longer!

People just do not realize that de-clawing a cat can cause the cat to be in life long pain.  De-clawed cats can be more prone to biting.  A cat without claws is defenseless.  De-clawed cats are often more inclined to not use their litter boxes.

Martha Stewart once had an episode of her TV show inside one of her homes.  The camera went to one of her sofas to reveal that the arms of the sofa had been shredded by her cats.  Martha chuckled and said something like “when you live with cats, you live with this.”  Now really folks, if Martha Stewart can live with a few shreds so can we mere mortals!

But what if you can’t live with a shredded sofa arm?  Trim the cat’s nails!  It’s beyond easy once you get the hang of it.  Your veterinarian or a vet tech can show you how.  In a matter of minutes you’ll be as good at it as they are.

You can purchase professional cat nail clippers or use the straight edge toe clippers you probably already own!   Trim your cat’s nails every 10-14 days and everyone is happy!

San Francisco is where Cat Faeries lives and works.  We are actively getting petitions signed, and we will make a formal statement before the Board of Supervisors.  And we will keep you posted about the ban.  Please see if you can be a pioneer  and get de-clawing banned in your community!

Are you a San Francisco resident who wants a petition?  Email us and we’ll send you one as an attachment.  We need it mailed back to our PO Box by October 15, 2009.  Not a resident?  Send us a letter and we’ll include it with the petitions?   Cat Faeries, PO Box 31885, San Francisco, CA 94131.

Why you need a Purrsonal Assistant on standby!

No one expects to get sick or injured. And when it happens often we cannot do more than stay in bed until it passes. But we have our daily obligations, in particular we are obligated to care for our cats, and perhaps other animals.

But who will help you with your daily obligations, like feeding the cats and scooping litter boxes when you can barely get out of bed? Who will help you get the medication for yourself from the drug store, or supplements from the health food store? Who will cook for you? Who will do those little things or errands while you are sick or recovering?

If there are no family members close by or you can’t ask or trust neighbors you need a “personal assistant” or a “personal concierge.”

In the past few years people who are burnt out on soul sucking corporate America have gotten creative about making an income, and they have become personal assistants who you can call upon when you need help.

Generally they charge by the hour. These resourceful folks will do the stuff you are not able to do.

Even if your not sick, but you are super swamped and crazy busy, they can pitch in and run errands, tend to your animals, keep food in the fridge, and so much more.

Before you get sick, or before you need to leave for a trip, start looking for professional cat sitters or/and professional personal assistants. Find out their rates. Find out what they are willing to do, as well as what they are not willing to do. You’ll find a person who’s just right for you and your needs.

Do the research now so that the next time you are sick in bed and cannot tend to your cats or yourself, help is just a phone call away.