Newton’s Purrspective – Ticks and Cats, Part 2: Protect and Repel

Sir Isaac Newton is our Feline Editor At Large (just how large, he’s not saying) who writes very brainy and very well researched articles for us. Newton lives in the North East and is fond of storms, our catnip toys, a soft bed, sunbeams, and naps. He has an ongoing email flirtation with our Daphne. This is his current, and as always, very well done article.


In Part 1 I presented the perils awaiting cats outdoors – particularly those involving ticks. In Part 2 I will give you some suggestions on how to fight back to protect yourself and your beloved cats.

Scientists are discovering more diseases that can be carried by ticks. Symptoms vary widely which is one of the reasons it took so long to diagnose Lyme disease. Symptoms usually don’t show up immediately after a bite. If you find a tick on Fluffy put it in a tightly sealed glass jar and take it to your veterinarian. Live ticks can be stored in the refrigerator for 10 days. Dead ticks can be frozen. If Fluffy shows any signs she may be sick be sure to mention if she has, or may have, been exposed to ticks.




Isaac Newton

I hesitate to recommend any particular flea or tick repellant. Natural products may not be strong enough and chemicals have their own host of health hazards. The best defense is to keep Kitty inside.

But then again, staying inside is not a 100% guarantee. Humans or dogs can carry ticks into the house requiring a thorough inspection after spending time outdoors. Then there are CATios. Fleas and ticks could certainly invade them. Careful CATio construction and the local incidence of these pests are helpful. Landscaping with plants that ticks don’t like near your CATio would be helpful.

Plants with strong scents can act as flea and tick repellants. The following is a list of such plants that could be planted outside a screened CATio (note planting zones) All of these are pet safe. https://www.organiclesson.com/plants-repel-fleas-ticks/ :

Garden SageUSDA Hardiness Zone: 5 – 8

Rosemary USDA Hardiness Zone: 7 – 10

Sweet Basil USDA Hardiness Zone: 10 – 11

Thyme USDA Hardiness Zone: 4 – 9

Marigold USDA Hardiness Zone: 3 – 10

Another option is spraying the ground and vegetation with cedar oil. Perhaps you recall when cedar chips used to be a common stuffing for pet beds. If you choose to apply cedar oil around the CATio be sure to use a brand that does not contain phenolic compounds. Cats are very sensitive to phenols and they can cause severe illness and even death. In addition, do not let Kitty near the area until it has completely dried.

Checking for fleas and ticks while grooming or petting is a good idea no matter what comprises Kitty’s home environment. Better safe than sorry.

I know many of you may be squeamish about ticks and I don’t blame you. The CDC has excellent directions on how to properly remove a tick. https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/removal/index.html However, if you are uncomfortable with the process, or Kitty refuses to cooperate, do not hesitate to seek help from your veterinarian. The sooner a tick is removed the better since that decreases the likelihood of diseases being transmitted through saliva as it feeds.

Now perhaps you are wondering if ticks have any natural predators. The answer is yes! You may be surprised to learn it is the opossum. North America’s only marsupial has been given a bad reputation most likely since it is nocturnal and only encountered when you take out the trash at night. They show their teeth and hiss when surprised simply because they are afraid of you.

Despite the pointed noses and rounded ears, they are not related to rats and nor do they carry diseases harmful to humans and cats. In fact, they help prevent human disease by eating garden pests, rodents and even poisonous snakes! https://vetmed.illinois.edu/wildlife/2019/06/05/the-helpful-opossum-2/ And here’s the best part. They eat 95% of the ticks they encounter! A single opossum could eat as many as 5,000 ticks in a season. https://opossumsocietyus.org/general-opossum-information/

Attracting opossums to your yard is easy! And it produces a win-win situation. All you need to do is provide an environmentally friendly environment for them. This includes researching what the native plants are to your specific region and planting them, using only organic permaculture methods and planting a dense variety of plants which become cozy nesting places. Please never buy plants from big box chain stores as they are often treated with neonicotinoids. While this toxin has been approved by the FDA it is banned in Europe because when bees take tainted pollen to their hives it kills off their colony. https://www.hunker.com/13425595/how-to-attract-a-possum-to-my-yard

Having tick eating opossums in your garden is coexistence at its finest! If there is one thing that I learned in 2020 it is that we have to take very good care of ourselves and each other.

If this article has kicked in your “cat’s curiosity” about ticks and tick-borne diseases, you may want to peruse the book “Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons” by Kris Newby. This is not an easy read, but this is information that everyone should know about and tell others about.
 
 
 
 

Newton’s Purrspective: Ticks as a Threat to Cats – Even Indoor Cats. Part One.

Sir Isaac Newton is our Feline Editor At Large (just how large, he’s not saying) who writes very brainy and very well researched articles for us. Newton lives in the North East and is fond of storms, our catnip toys, a soft bed, sunbeams, and naps. He has an ongoing email flirtation with our Daphne. This is his current, and as always, very well done article.


Indoor only cats generally live up to three times longer than those allowed to roam at will outside. Cars, predators and various poisons are obvious dangers. Interaction with other cats may expose them to potentially fatal diseases (e.g. feline leukemia FeLV, and feline immunodeficiency virus FIV). Fleas are more than an annoyance. Itching, anemia, flea allergy dermatitis, Bartonella (a bacterial infection which may be linked to a variety of medical problems), and tapeworms are all potential consequences of a flea infestation. It is a scary world out there. But now it is becoming scarier and I am here to tell you all about it!




Isaac Newton

 
TICKS are found everywhere outdoors on trees, in tall grasses and on shrubs, but in recent years people are finding them INSIDE OF THEIR HOMES! Vigilance is vital!

In cold parts of the country sustained subfreezing temperatures in winter can help to reduce the tick and flea population. This has made some folks complacent about ticks.

Wait, you say. Don’t they die off in the winter like fleas? The answer is . . . no. Freezing temperatures slow them down, but the major cause of death is the inability to find the next host. If they are between hosts they may burrow beneath forest debris. They can also spend at least part of the time feeding on a warm deer. https://www.colonialpest.com/where-do-ticks-go-in-the-winter/

If you have never encountered ticks consider yourself lucky. However, that doesn’t mean you should let down your guard. Ticks are everywhere. Although different species are adapted to particular environments and hosts, they are expanding their ranges in the US. Unlike fleas ticks stay attached to the host until they drop off to find their next meal. Ticks have 3 life stages (larva, nymph and adult). All must feed on blood and all can transmit disease. In fact, ticks are the major vector for numerous diseases in humans, companion animals and wildlife. It can take up to three years for them to complete their entire life cycle. The best defense is to keep kitty inside. However, the second is to remove ticks before they attach to the skin. Cats are excellent groomers, but it is especially hard for them to remove ticks in the neck area. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877023/

Of course, most of us know about tick borne disease in humans. The first, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, was discovered in the late 1800s. Symptoms are severe and victims often died. Although cats are susceptible the incidence is rare. The good news is there is a cure now. The bad news is you don’t have to visit the Rocky Mountains to be bitten by a carrier tick since their range has expanded throughout the US. https://www.cdc.gov/rmsf/transmission/index.html

The most familiar sickness caused by ticks is Lyme Disease. Symptoms of Lyme were first observed in humans in the early 1970’s in Old Lyme, Connecticut. In 1981 a scientist, Willy Burgdorfer, discovered the connection between the deer tick and Lyme disease and the bacteria was subsequently named in his honor, Borrelia burgdorferi. https://www.bayarealyme.org/about-lyme/history-lyme-disease/

The good news is Lyme is susceptible to antibiotics. The bad news is 1. the bite does not always result in a red “target” shape on the skin, and 2. although it originated in CT, the disease has spread to all 50 states, being most common in the Northeast and North-Central parts of the US.

At this point there is no vaccine and no test before symptoms appear. While Lyme is rare for cats to contract there are other tick borne diseases that have been reported in felines.

Five tick borne diseases have been reported in cats.

  1. Lyme (the tick must be attached for 48 hours to transmit the disease so rapid removal can prevent infection)
  2. Haemobartonella (Feline Infectious Anemia) is transmitted by both ticks and fleas
  3. Tularemia (also known as Rabbit Fever)
  4. Babesiosis (most common in Southeast US)
  5. Cytauxzoonosis (with early diagnosis and improved treatment protocols cats can survive this serious disease – most common in southern states)

Now if all this isn’t scary enough, let’s talk about climate change. People love to argue about the precise cause of climate change or even the existence of climate crisis . . . but numbers don’t lie, and global temperatures are increasing. Scientists have now linked these warmer temperatures with range expansion of four tick species known to be health concerns. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1911661

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5877023/

If this article has kicked in your “cat’s curiosity” about ticks and tick borne diseases you may want to peruse the book “Bitten: The Secret History of Lyme Disease and Biological Weapons” by Kris Newby. This is not an easy read, but this is information that everyone should know about and tell others about.

Dearest Friends of Cat Faeries, I have more to tell you so stay tuned as Cat Faeries and Newton continue next time with Part Two.

Love,

Isaac Newton, feline genius who loves a good long nap after hours of research and playtime with Legendary Cat Toys from Cat Faeries.

 
 
 
 

Anti Icky Poo to de-skunk your cat, you, or your dog. Cats and skunks – learn about their many similarities.

Anti Icky Poo never ceases to amaze us with its many inventive uses. It’s Spring and this time of year our skunk friends are very active, and animals and people can get sprayed. As FOS: Friends of Skunks – we want to help you get skunk spray out of cat fur, clothing, and make you understand and love skunks as much as we do who happen to have interesting commonalities with cats.

Removing Skunk musk with Anti Icky Poo to de-skunk cats, dogs, people, clothing and outdoor objects

The cat might not have actually been sprayed by the skunk because these two species tend to get along very well. Cats are usually too smart to provoke a skunk. Instead, kitty probably rubbed up against a plant or bush that the skunk sprayed during a mating ritual to appear sexy and to mark territory (sound familiar?).

  1. Soaking a cat or dog in tomato juice is outdated and it will not work… you’ll have a cat that smells of rotting tomatoes and skunk spray. Also, DO NOT PRE-RINSE THE CAT with water! Rinsing with water spreads the oily skunk spray deeper into fur. You need something to de-grease and that’s where Anti Icky Poo comes in.
  2. Drench/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. Our unscented Anti Icky Poo is perfect because 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 at least a ½ cup of Anti Icky Poo mixed with 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. Repeat if needed. You can wash your hair with Anti Icky Poo or add some to shampoo.
  4. If there is skunk scent on outdoor planters etc. spray the object every few hours over the course of a day. Repeat the next day as needed.

How do you know if you are about to be “skunked?”

The skunk will turn its back towards you and simultaneously turn his head to look over his shoulder so he can see you (for good aim!) You might see red anal scent glands depending upon how light it is. This is how they warn you and if the threat doesn’t halt immediately, with excellent aim and propulsion of up to 10 feet – BAM! – you’ve been skunked!

Cats and Skunks have a lot in common but also have some big differences

  • Skunks are very shy and very passive. Like cats, they are curious.
  • They don’t seek to spray anyone and only do so when provoked or frightened and as truly a last resort if they fear they will be killed. Heed their warning and back off.
  • As solitary animals they prefer peacefully going about the business which is keeping your garden free of small rodents – some cats are like this.
  • Baby skunks are called kits or kittens. Baby cats are called kittens.
  • Both species give birth to 4 – 6 kittens.
  • Both species are very curious.
  • Both species have excellent hygiene.
  • 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?
  • Skunks are insectivores. Cats are carnivores. Skunks prefer insects but will eat small rodents.
  • Both species can suffer from kidney failure from too much protein in the form of animal protein (don’t leave cat food outside!)
  • Skunk fur feels like dog fur or of a few long-haired cats with dense fur.
  • Cats have excellent vision. Skunks do not, they are near sighted. But both see better at night than we do.
  • Skunks and cats get along well. They can often be seen sharing a food bowl. They are often spotted resting next to each other or roaming together.
  • Mating season is February and March for both species. During those months skunks give off mate attracting scent and cats make a lot of noise!
  • Skunk kits are born in Spring the same as feline kitten season.
  • Skunks eat worms and grub worms in your soil they very same insects which eat 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 kits are grown, they leave their mother to strike out on their own, again, as solitary animals establishing their own territory.
  • If you are kind and well known to your neighborhood skunk you might be rewarded with her showing off to you her latest brood of kits in Spring! My neighborhood skunk, known as Skunkie, has introduced us to many generations of her babies. She has proudly come down our driveway or stood in front of the house and shown them to us!

This video shows us a mama skunk and her adorable kittens 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. Turn up the sound so you can hear their adorable squeaks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WINFNvPjbG4
 
 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome and your cat – a potential easy fix

While we are not veterinarians and never pretend to be, we’d like to share something that one of our veterinarians told us about for this rather common problem known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Our dear cat Madeline was flip flopping between the two conditions. Her digestion was never good, possibly from having been an abused young cat before she found us. When she was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome our vet told us about Psyllium Husk Powder which has been a miracle. Whatever the cause of your cat’s pooping woes Organic Psyllium Husk Powder may help your cat as it did for our Madeline.

About Psylliium Husk Powder and why it works so well for that flip flop between Constipation and Diarrhea (and yes, for you too!)

Psyllium husk powder is a form of fiber which comes from the Plantago ovata plant. It is actually the husk from the plant’s seed. Interestingly it’s a bulk-forming laxative so it can correct or stabilize both conditions. As a soluble fiber it helps soak up water in the gut to improve regularity and make bowel movements easier, faster, and much more gentle. Many cats with IBS or any other digestive disorders are often seen straining in the litter box. For constipation episodes your cat might “scoot” their butt across the floor to remove a stuck piece.

Giving a cat a small amount of psyllium husk powder on a twice daily basis, mixed into canned or homemade cat food, can help improve overall digestion. Our veterinarian recommended we start Madeline with ¼ teaspoon twice a day and build up to ½ teaspoon twice a day. This took about 2 weeks.

For fun and to satisfy a curious science-y brain put a ½ teaspoon of Organic Psyllium Husk Powder in a bowl and add a few drops of water and watch the gel-magic appear right before your eyes! The liquid from canned or homemade cat food will create this healing gel.

The Great Benefits of Psyllium Husk Powder

Promotes easy regularity because it relieves both constipation and diarrhea so your cat can eliminate daily without discomfort. It improves digestion so that nutrients are properly absorbed and therefore your cat’s health and fur condition will dramatically improve. If your cat is pooping outside of the box, the cause could be IBS or discomfort while pooping and correcting the problem should stop these incidents.

Lipid levels improve for cats who might be prone to Diabetes or have it already. Check with your veterinarian first.

Weight loss because psyllium absorbs liquid in your gut, it can help give your cat (or you) the feeling of being full. This can help control the amount of food one wants to eat which can aid in weight loss.

Taste is quite bland. Your cat probably won’t notice it or may even like it.

Easily available in bulk at your local independent health organic food store. We also like the brand NOW which comes in a recyclable jar.

 
 
 
 

Longevity (create it) and Boredom (fix it) and your cat.

I’ve been feeling like a housecat all these months since March with a shrinking territory! Being housebound makes me wonder if our housecats are ever bored. Every day before I arise, I think of how during the day I will alleviate my boredom and anxiety which is important for robust health. I ask myself “What am I looking forward to today.” Then I think about new, enriching, and interesting acts of love for myself, my husband, my cats and bunnies, and for Cat Faeries. I think of how I can create beauty, excitement and happiness. All these ideas and daily plans circle back to me which give me plenty to do allaying any boredom and which benefits others, including our 4 cats. By thinking about and planning thoughtful gestures I elevate good health and longevity for all of us!

Let me be your Feline Party Planner with easy and cheap things to do for boredom and to keep it interesting for them and for you.

Shut doors for a few hours then open them. Could there be a Surprise? Something new to explore and chin-mark?
Having your cat spirited away in a room with the door shut for a few hours peeks a cat’s curiosity. They wonder: “What’s going on beyond the door!” When you finally open the door, the cat will likely race out to see what wonderful things there are to explore or what might be new and different. Even if you didn’t change one thing, the cat will be curious and will check it out. An adventure!

Is your cat’s curiosity on over drive? Is your cat the first to check out a new piece of furniture? Don’t shop, just move something!
Not all cats like fresh and new and in fact bringing in a new piece of furniture or rearranging what you have can be stressful to a minority of cats. But if your cat is one who’s curiosity is off the charts then start moving stuff around to create the feeling and flow of new and different. It can be the most simple thing like moving a chair or two. And you will bask in the refreshing newness yourself. Just like bringing in a fresh bouquet of flowers which I also highly recommend for YOU!

Bring the outdoors in
This is so simple, and it will have major sensory and entertaining impact for cats of all ages! Just a branch from a tree or a bush placed on the floor with a towel or mat under it can give your cat something new to sniff, chin mark and explore. You cat might even take a snooze under it or near (like they often do with a Christmas tree). This entertainment powerhouse didn’t cost you a penny. Keep it there until the cat becomes bored with it or it sheds leaves. Thank it for its service and in the compost or your city’s green bin.

An edible treasure hunt
Our prey animal friends love to forage and to a good hunt. Put a treat or a snack in a dish and hide it. Good choices are things that smell strong to lure your cat to find the smelly treasure. It could be the water from a can of tuna fish (a rare treat ONLY), a small piece of boneless cooked chicken or other meat, a spoonful of pumpkin/squash, or chicken baby food, bonito fish flakes.

Let’s take the edible treasure hunt further
Measure your cat’s allotted meal portion and divide it up into several dishes, then hide them in easy to find places! Let the cat prowl, hunt, and eat like a cat in the wild! A sprinkle of bonita fish flakes or nutritional yeast helps boost the scent. You can also spray our Catnip Meow Mist on the food for the ultimate in feline aromatherapy. And it’s good for their digestion and immunity!

Hide a toy or a few toys which you sprayed with our Catnip Meow Mist
Another great hunting expedition is when you cat sniffs out a fresh blast of their favorite scent – catnip. Any favorite toy sprayed with our Catnip Meow Mist hydrosol and hidden behind a chair or in a corner will entire kitty to find it and play with it.

Create an art gallery for your cats
Affix photos of birds, mice, and your cat’s baby pictures placed at feline eye level on the wall at the food bowl area!
 
 
 
 

Does Your Cat Sploot?

Recently I learned a new word! I love words and wonder how I ever missed this one after multiple decades on this planet collecting words! It’s never too late to learn about “splooting” which is when a cat or another animal sploots!

The Definition of a Sploot or Splooting:

Splooting is an adorable posture when a cat or any animal rests on their belly with their back legs extended out backwards and their front legs are extended straight forward like they are flying. You might think of a frog. They do it for several reasons, including that the stretch feels good and this position on a hot day is very cooling. On a hot day a cat will sploot on hardwood, tile, cement/concrete or the kitchen floor by the water bowl. Kittens and young cats can sploot easily, while older cats with stiffer joints might do a modified sploot.

I discovered this pose on an Instagram page that I follow called The Daily James. It features photos and videos of one man’s wildlife oasis in Los Angeles, where James and Margaret the crows co-mingle with Mildred the Magnificent. Countless hawks and owls are seen frolicking in the bird baths while other wild animals visit, including squirrely friends and champion splooters Dramatic Darlene and her offspring Crazy Baby. They who love to sploot on a hot LA day to cool off. Their photo is below.

Photo from The Daily James, with permission.
Follow them on Instagram and Facebook!

After becoming a follower of The Daily James on both Instagram (www.instagram.com/thedailyjames/) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/thedailyjameswildlife/ – I can’t get enough!) I discovered humorist Amy Sedaris (www.facebook.com/AmySedarisOfficial/) is equally obsessed with squirrel and bunny splooting, which led me to singer Aimee Mann’s Instagram (www.instagram.com/realaimeemann/), who also loves squirrels and cats, and splooting. Feeling I may not be alone in being late to the splooting-party I had to share this fabulous and fun word with you, my dear readers!