Shedding and the Indoor Cat (updated)

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.

This is part one of our study about how to being indoors all of the time can be healthier and more in sync with nature. And this isn’t just for your cats, but for you too! This week we talk about feline shedding. Stay tuned for upcoming newsletters when we talk about Circadian Rhythm, light and lighting, and intermittent fasting. This could be the healthiest year for your cats and you yet!


The outdoors can be a scary place for a cat. Sure, it seems like fun running around (in nice weather) living the ancestral dream of being a Saber-Toothed Tiger. Housecats have retained the predatory instinct but, I have to admit, we’re a lot smaller than those tigers. This limits our prey to rodents, birds, small reptiles and insects. Natural foods provide nutrients that are often not found in commercial diets and catching our own food provides good exercise as well as entertainment.




Isaac Newton

But let’s look at the importance of keeping kitty safe. Although some outdoor cats live long lives (perhaps using up all 9 of them), in general “indoor only” cats live 3-4 times longer.

Outdoor cats have a much higher risk of disease and parasites. They are also at the mercy of the environment, particularly predators and cars. Cats just don’t understand that they could become prey themselves.

A kitten kept inside from day one easily adapts to the indoors, especially if the environment is enriched with Cat Faeries toys and lots of places to explore and hide. Catios are also becoming popular as a safe way to let kitty have a bit of fresh air without worry.

Unfortunately, there is a downside to living totally indoors. Some indoor cats don’t get enough exercise and can become dangerously overweight. Measuring food and having a playmate can help. I have 3 siblings including a new kitten for me to keep in line and we all still play like kittens.

Living inside can lead to another problem. The controlled environment (constant temperature and artificial light beyond normal daylight hours) could disrupt the natural shedding cycle. Instead of seasonal shedding we are in CONSTANT fur dispersal mode. And it doesn’t just end up on your furniture!

Cats are “self-cleaning” so we ingest a lot of this fur when grooming. Those little barbs on a cat’s tongue face backwards, so once the fur attaches we have no choice but to swallow it. In small amounts the fur passes through the digestive system without problems. However, when a lot of fur is present in the stomach it rolls up into a ball which we cough back up – voila – the “hairball”.

What can be done to prevent excess fur in the tummy?

  1. Brush or comb kitty daily*
  2. Make it easier for the ingested hair to pass through freely
    • Make fiber available – Cats are obligate carnivores so they are unlikely to crave a salad. However, they do tend to nibble on plant material if they are experiencing hairball problems. Having something safe like wheatgrass accessible could help.
    • Increase hydration – Drinking adequate water is important for proper functioning of the digestive system and is also good for kidney health. Always provide clean fresh water, preferably in a glass bowl. Believe it or not, some ceramic bowls still contain lead. Yikes! Many cats prefer running water, so a cat fountain could also be helpful.
    • • Add a fish oil supplement such as ProNova Fish Oil, which is free of mercury and other toxic metals. In addition to aiding digestion it can reduce flaky skin and brittle fur.

Anyone who shares their home with a cat knows that felines actively seek out the sunny spots – all the better if it happens to be in a favorite chair or a comfy Cat Faerie bed. We don’t know if cats suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the dark months. However, full spectrum lighting (which mimics natural sunlight) is known to decrease cortisol (a stress hormone), increase serotonin (a mood stabilizer), and regulate circadian rhythms (the sleep cycle). Its effect on shedding is not known, but providing full spectrum lighting can make kitty, and you, more relaxed and happy.

* I would be remiss if I failed to mention that brushing a cat is far more challenging than brushing a dog. We tend to be very sensitive and although brushing may feel good initially it can lead to over stimulation. Everything seems fine until suddenly we are in touch with our inner tiger. So start slowly and learn how much kitty can tolerate. Several short sessions may be the best option. Grooming is also a bonding ritual between cats. Why not use it to show kitty how much you care and strengthen your bond?
 
 
 
 

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
 
 

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!

 
 
 
 

Cats and Winter – Fast Facts

Cats can get seasonal depression or mood changes similar that that of we humans. Here’s what you can do to help, which will help you too:

  • Run the heater at a temperature you can afford to pay for
  • Place the cat’s bed near a heater vent
  • Move cat beds from anywhere drafty. The window with sunbeams in Summer can be chilly this time of year
  • Take a look at where litter boxes are – is it drafty there? Try to block the breezes with heavy tarps, a drape, or a rolled up “draft dodger”
  • When you are away leave a light on. Even though cats can see very well in the dark a bit of bright LED light will chase away the blues
  • Watch how your older cats walk for signs of arthritis. Note if your cat isn’t jumping on top of the sofa or the bed – another sign of stiff joints.

Believe it or not, cats do not sleep more in the Winter! Healthy cats sleep the same amount of hours year-round which is 15 to 20 hours a day! Cats do not hibernate.

Cats need a few extra calories in Winter so provide an extra bit of food. A nice thing to do for your cat is warm up food in the oven for a few minutes. Even a vegetable steamer for a minute is nice. Food from the fridge is very unpleasant for anyone, including your cat. In Winter even room temperature food is nicer warmed up just a bit. It also mimics the warm body of recently caught prey!

Is the food bowl in a sunny or bright place? Open the curtain and let as much brightness come in as the weather provides.

 
 
 
 

Why October is a great time to take your cat for a checkup! 13 Things You Can Do to Make Veterinary Visits Better for Everyone! (updated)

With the holidays rapidly approaching which is a busy time for everyone, we thought that we might urge you to take your cats to the see the veterinarian this month for a checkup because it’s the calm before the holiday storm and we want to make sure our cats are healthy and will sail through this season feeling good!

Dealing with emergencies in November and December create additional stress for everyone during an already chaotic time of year.  Statistics tell us the emergency room trips increase on holidays for a variety of reasons.  Let’s prepare now and hopefully emergencies won’t happen.

This article will help you organize and plan before you get to the check up appointment.

The bottom line is that once you are at the vet clinic double check and question everything – we’ve seen doctors get the name of a medication  or the dosage wrong – you have the right to go over every detail without getting push back from either the veterinarian or the front desk.  Do not let them rush you!

  1. Accustom your cat to a carrier and to traveling in the car.
  2. If your veterinarian doesn’t already have your cat’s medical record on file, bring it with you or have your previous veterinary hospital send or fax the records. Also bring your own notes on your cat’s health and medical history.  Don’t send your cat with a person who doesn’t have details about your cat, but if you must do this, thoroughly document your cat’s current condition on paper and make sure you’re available by phone to answer questions that may come up.
  3. Arrive on time or a few minutes early for your appointment.
  4. Unless children can sit quietly without distracting you or interfering with the veterinary team’s ability to examine and treat your cat, or talk to you about your cat, consider leaving your children with a babysitter while you take your cat to the veterinarian.
  5. Your cell phone can be your friend – take a photo of medications/instructions or video something the vet has shown you – a good example is how to give Sub Q fluids.
  6. Know what medications and supplements your cat is receiving, dosage, how often you give it and for long it’s been given.  Better yet, bring them with you.
  7. Don’t be shy about sharing your observations and concerns with your veterinarian – no one knows your cat and subtle nuances better than you.
  8. Ask questions. Ask until you understand the answers.  Often vets forget that we don’t have a medical degree.
  9. Take notes because you can’t  expect to remember everything. While you are taking your notes, you may think of additional questions which you should write down and ask before you leave.
  10. Ask for handouts and brochures. Ask if there are reputable online sources of information about your cat’s condition and any medications.
  11. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations. They’re given for one very important reason – to keep your cat healthy.
  12. Arrange for a follow-up phone call to review how the cat is doing or go over blood work results.
  13. And our Lucky 13 thing to do: Check the name or names of medication. Check the dosage and instructions on the bottle/s of medication and compare them to what the veterinarian wrote down. Show it to the office manager to verify. Mistakes can happen and in the case of drugs such mistakes can be fatal. Never take anything for granted, never assume that those people are doing a perfect job of taking care of your cat.  A cat-parent cannot be too fussy!

Giving your cat a few drops of Calm and Serene the morning of the appointment will help settle Kitty’s nerves.  Give the carrier pads a spray or two of Convivial House Cat which is also calming.