Sunday, August 26, 2012

Help Homeless Cats Get Through the Coming Winter

Winter time can be pretty harsh. It can be quite hard against almost every living thing there is, regardless of size or age. Anyone who's gone through a winter season - especially a particularly bleak season of it - knows how difficult it could be. Maybe we're a little more used to it now, those who live here in the US where it is an annual experience, although it can be really tough sometimes. But what about the animals that also experience winter with us, are they coping just as well? In particular, how about those homeless cats who could possibly remain homeless even as winter is fast approaching, what can be done to help them?

There are organizations that are dedicated to helping homeless animals get through the tough stretch of winter season each year, and homeless cats are always among those that receive plenty of help. However, such organizations can only do so much to aid those animals. With the number of homeless cats, many are inevitably going to be left on the streets when the freezing weather hits.

Private individuals need to be aware that they can actually do something to help those homeless cats during the cold season. The things that they need to do to help are actually pretty simple once you get to know about it. Those simple things already mean a lot in terms of lifting any of the sufferings that the homeless cats could potentially suffer from during the winter.

Here are some of those things that every person could do in order to help homeless cats:

    The homeless cats should be fed often and in large quantities during the winter season. Since food and water have a tendency to freeze, this is very important. The amount of food given to the cats should be doubled, as it would not only help keep them strong and healthy, it will also help them fight off the cold. As much as possible, use only the best cat food available.

    The cats should be encouraged to use different types of shelters that would keep them from the harshness of the elements. Among the structures that they could make use of are basements, barns, doghouses, garages, and other structures that are specifically designed to meet the conditions of the weather. The cats should be kept as dry and warm as possible, so the shelters need to be insulated and provided with adequate heating.

    Little kittens should be given special attention. If they are spotted in a certain place then they should be taken into shelters or better yet, given to foster homes. When those options are not available then the people who find the kittens should coordinate with organizations that could help.

    Cats that are weak or old should also be given special care and attention. Sick ones should be taken to a vet's clinic so that they could immediately receive the medical attention that they require. After being treated, the cats should not be released immediately because the weather could make it sick again and it might survive the winter.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Beauty of Possessing Cats

Cats and more cats, how they can so easily become an obsession. I have become involved in the cat business as I'm supportive of a cattery, in touch with a cat rescuer and I help three outdoor cats. My friend has a cattery in the beautiful desert and when one visits, at least twenty cats show the traditional cat greeting by clamoring to the door and trying to steal a glance. At night, if I choose to stay, at least twenty cats take the places of the proverbial "cats who sleep with you". One undersized black guy got overly familiar and licked the inside of my ear.

In the middle of the night, aside from rumpled sheets and wadded up blankets, I endured the unexpected sensation of a cat predator at the window. A huge owl spread his wings ominously behind the shade and appeared to be the vampire who might prey upon all domestic cats. After thrashing about, I was able to settle in again and the little black boy resumed his intimate touches. In the daytime, the major challenge was to orchestrate the movements of waves of felines in order to keep them outside an off-limits room. All in all, I enjoyed being a petting partner for this large group of desert cats.

As a friend of a cat rescuer, I've had the experience of smuggling one orange guy named Reggie out of Animal Control. My friend waited outside while I crept into the Control Center and briefly signed the necessary papers to rescue a cat who had been a member of the desert cattery. Due to circumstances beyond his control, and his name is Reggie, he was held captive and labeled undesirable by the powers to be. They had found some kind of bacterial infection and confined him with a group of cats who were deemed unable to be adopted.

I hopefully placed Reggie's name on the "cat to be adopted" line of the application and briskly walked to the backroom where problem cats were being observed. One look at Reggie, an orange and white delight, and I knew I couldn't live without him. I was determined to rescue the feline, as my friend waited anxiously by the door. Indeed, Reggie was given to me with the warning that he wasn't completely well. Since then, he has become the life of the party at the cattery, and has even escaped the outdoor enclosure to enjoy the freedom and thrill of the rooftop.

And I can't forget my three outdoor cats. I possess an unusual tortoise shell female called "Chatty". "Chat" is the French word for cat, and she is also "chatty" or talkative. I'm sure she is part Maincun, which is a breed known for its various vocalizings and heavy, wiry coat. The purebreds of this breed also have hair in their ears and around their feet. Chatty has lead a most unusual life as she has spent it outdoors as a stray. She has survived more than ten years outside and is extremely intelligent, if not cunning. She will appear at exactly the time I chose to go outside the front door the previous evening. She tracks my movements and is able to gauge the expected hour. If I visit a neighbor, she will wait outside that very door for me. If I water the lawn she will stalk me about the yard, probably theorizing about the exact moment I will ascend my staircase and feed the beasties.

Other outdoor cats are "Gent", short for "gentleman" and "Mr Orange", a large, very noisy orange tabby. Gent likes to take his meal by himself, in my kitchen. Each night he is hopeful that I will allow this intrusion into my solitary existence. I live alone so these cats are live bodies who visit my bungalow in the remote corner of my courtyard. Few people can find me, and that works well because I like to choose moments of being alone in my snug apartment. Even so, Gent finds me and, if I remember to let him in, he pauses by my doorway to enjoy pats and pets, then casually trots to the kitchen for a private meal of wet cat food. The only problem in this routine is encountered when he arrives back at the door. Chatty shows her independence and jealousy all at the same time as she tries to strike at him as he leaves the doorway and heads down the stairs.

Mr. Orange is the noisiest cat in the neighborhood and, I'm afraid, may soon bring unwelcome comments from the neighbors. He is a large male, orange with a white belt around his middle. He doesn't come every night, so I know others are helping this supposedly homeless cat. One never knows for sure how many homes these strays have. I received a letter from a knowledgeable ferrel cat coalition and I heard about the process of TNR, which means trap, neuter and release. I only hope I will have time to do all this. Chatty will in fact be going to the cattery as I am taking a very long flight to North Carolina (I live in San Diego) to visit my son, his wife and their two children. It's time for Chatty to retire. I hope I'm right in thinking that the males have another feeding spot across the street.

I know you animal haters will, as of now, hate me when I say that everybody needs to have at least one pet, especially a cat. They are very low maintenance and there is no need for euthanasia. Let me put it this way, because of peoples' selfishness and lack of education, cats are put to sleep in great numbers. I believe as the American Indians believed, that the way we treat animals and our natural world will ultimately affect our own existence. The Bible, in Genesis, says that we are the rulers over animals and, more importantly, are the caretakers of God's creatures. I'm actually not allowed to have pets here at this apartment complex, but I have requested an exception to the rule. If everyone would due their part, Animal Control would not have the odious task of extermination. This, of course includes spaying and neutering teenage cats. I believe that a person's character can be gauged by how he/she treats animals and small children. These are the helpless of the world, and it is up to the rest of us to show compassion and kindness.

In an ideal world, every household would have at least one cat. They could leave them outside if they had to, but just feed them and give them limited care. I'm not going to say the State could allocate funds for this, but just that each household could take some responsibility. I live in a city where many animals roam free: the climate is excellent and the city areas are surrounded by uncultivated, unsettled acreage. As a result, possums, raccoons and domestic pets are in abundance. They like the weather just like our homeless population and are frequent visitors to any type of outdoor feeding bowls. I sound as if I have a regular menagerie around here, and I don't: I'm careful about just regularly feeding one cat and I have plans to relocate the males. When I could have a pet, I certainly did.

And here I'm going to sound off about the treatment of all of our wild animals. Why do we need to shoot the wolves, or round up the horses, or eliminate the buffalo (fortunately this practice has ceased). When I travel the vast plains, mountains and valleys of our country I observe more than enough land for all. Sure, bears get into peoples' garbage and scare them to death, and, in this case, something has to be done. But I see pettiness and meanness behind so much of the animal controversy. What lands do our wolves threaten? They have been re-introduced into Yellowstone but the ranchers have been yelling ever since. Isn't part of this a competition with the animals for some favorite spot some rancher took a liking to? And perhaps their pride sets in and then the argument begins that they are not going to give into an animal. We're asked to be wise stewards over our resources by biblical admonition, and this doesn't mean that we are to feel competitive with or power over our animals.

Personally, I can't stand to see an animal caged. They obviously are not meant for this type of confinement and it need not be. If they are given a decent and humane environment as in many zoo's, this is allright. Or if they are taken for regular walks and excusions outside their confines, then this is allright. No one wants to see animals threatened, yelled at and shot unless they are a direct danger to a person. It's so sad to see the efforts of animal conservationists defeated by hunters.

The days when we needed to hunt for meat are over. Then why is it such a sport to take a rifle and shoot a wild and beautiful beast such as a wolf or a bear? I recently saw a T.V. program where an animal activist was forced to take a hunter out on his rounds because he could do nothing about the hunting season. Imagine how he felt. Animals always bring out strong feelings of compassion in these activists. I'm not a fanatic. I do not want to possess tens of tens of cats. Indeed, I'm a tiny bit allergic to cat dander. But I see the feeling that can surround animals and it's the same feeling that surrounds helpless people.

Taking care of these ferrel cats is close to taking care of homeless people, in my mind. It is not at all the same, in that it is much more important to take care of people than animals. But the same compassion is involved in both cases. Whereas there might be some situations that require extermination in the animal world, there are none in the people world. But it is a slippery slope. How one treats animals is some indication as to how he/she treats his fellow human beings. I help feed the homeless next door at my church and I have helped my mentally ill brother through many predicaments. I feel that I can't call myself a follower of Christ, and not at least try to help my brother. I can't look God's lost and needy creatures in the face and not try to do something about it. The life that is given to critters and to people is rendered by the same hand of the Almighty, though I don't believe animals have a soul. They are placed here much like our natural surroundings, trees, bushes and flowers, to enhance our existence. They are not to be opportunities to show our pettiness, vanity or cruelty.

I'm an ecologist at heart, though my profession has been sewing and designs. I can't help getting involved in this controversy and I'm doing my small part to help the critters of this world. I'm not an extremist and I'm not going to pet a tarantula, or swim with sharks. But thinking about those cats has brought out some thoughts I've bottled up for awhile. I used to be a mean and self-centered person when I was young and I was mean to cats. I think back to those times with an intense pain. It seems as if our society is showing some regret as to how we have treated our environment; for instance, permanently scarring the land by over-mining it. Another example is creating the dust bowl of the 30's by over-farming the land. Ken Burns has a documentary coming up on that topic.

These topics are related in my mind because we are, as I have stated, suppose to rule and reign over our environment and its animals with the kind of care Our Lord would show. If you want to give me a name, you could call be a "Christian Ecologist". I just don't like to see selfishness and greed take over in this great country. I hope we can continue to take care of our stray dogs and cats, and to find the time, that important four letter word, to show kindness and care for our surrounding land and its animals. If we find the time for these basic concerns, all else will follow.

I am Donna Gordon, a graduate of the ever-political university at Berkeley. If you are an animal activist, you will enjoy this article, as I did writing it. I am a Christian activist and if you like to get involved in society's causes from a biblical point of view, read me. Please go to Kindle, Nook or Smashwords for my first published novel "The Spiritual Dreams of a Lifetime". It's about my life on the edge and in recovery from addiction. But it also includes my spiritual dreams which, by the way, include many images of nature. You can read more about my causes and motivations in the biography section of Smashwords or Authors' Den. I'm thrilled with the internet way of writing and I know this enthusiasm will rub off on you. This type of writing is a far cry from the writing marathons of the past, which involved sending off specially typed manuscripts with the proper postage etc. I'm always getting passionate about something, as most writers do. Here I am in my bungalow with no one to talk to, so you're it. You will find my novel very personal and I hope it touches your soul. I'm thrilled that we can write these letters to each other and, as the saying goes, "tear our passions to tatters". My life on the edge has included falling off a few times into uncomfortable situations, but, in so doing, my compassion quotient has risen. My favorite saying is "There's not enough compassion in the world" and that's my main reason for taking up the cause in this article, of God's little creature, the cat. He's been given a mouth, nose and ears just like us, and he can receive love.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Plants That Are Toxic To Cats

In most cases, people who love their animals also love their houseplants. Houseplants breathe life into a home just like owning a cat does. It seems both pets and houseplants go hand-in-hand, but in reality they can be a deadly combination if the owner is not aware of which plants are toxic to their furry friends.

Any cat owner who also dabbles in gardening or owns houseplants should familiarize themselves with the list below. It's a surprising list to say the least. Many very common and useful plants are on this list. Even the aloe vera plant, known for its medicinal value as a topical treatment for cuts and burns, is poisonous to cats. Even more surprising is that tomato and pea plants are toxic to cats as well. It's a scary feeling to read this list and count the number of common plants lying around the house just waiting to poison the beloved feline of the home.

House Plants Toxic to Cats:

1. Aloe Vera - Symptoms: Vomiting, tremors, diarrhea, anorexia, depression, and a change in the color of urine.

2. Asparagus Fern - Symptoms: Allergic dermatitis, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

3. Baby's Breath - Symptoms: Vomiting and diarrhea.

4. Begonia - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

5. Bird of Paradise Flower - Symptoms: Mild nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness.

6. Caladium (also known as Elephant Ears or Taro) - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

7. Cardboard Palm - Symptoms: Liver failure, excessive thirst, bruising, melena, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, vomiting, pathy, liver damage, liver failure and death.

8. Carnation - Symptoms: Mild gastrointestinal signs and mild dermatitis.

9. Ceriman - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, vomiting, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

10. Charming Dieffenbachia - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, vomiting, excessive drooling, and difficulty swallowing.

11. Chinese Jade - Symptoms: Nausea and retching.

12. Chrysanthemum - Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, hyper-salivation, in-coordination, and dermatitis.

13. Coleus - Symptoms: Vomiting blood, bloody diarrhea, depression, and anorexia.

14. Corn Plant - Symptoms: Vomiting blood, depression, anorexia, hyper-salivation, and dilated pupils.

15. Cyclamen - Symptoms: Salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmia, seizure, and death.

16. Daffodil (also known as narcissus) - Symptoms: Vomiting, excessive salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmia.

17. Dahlia - Symptoms: Mild gastrointestinal signs and mild dermatitis.

18. Dieffenbachia - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

19. Everlasting Pea (also known as Sweet Pea) - Symptoms: Weakness, lethargy, pacing, head pressing, tremors, seizures, and possibly death.

20. Fig (also known as Indian Rubber Plant) - Symptoms: Dermatitis, oral irritation, excessive salivation, and vomiting.

21. Flamingo Flower - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

22. Florida Beauty - Symptoms: Dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, increased heart-rate, abdominal pain, vomiting, depression, in-coordination, weakness, and drooling.

23. Hyacinth, both Garden Hyacinth and Water Hyacinth are toxic to dogs and cats. Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, dermatitis, and allergic reactions.

24. Gladiola - Symptoms: Vomiting, drooling, lethargy, diarrhea.

25. Hellebore - Symptoms: Drooling, abdominal pain, diarrhea, colic, and depression.

26. Hosta - Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, depression.

27. Ivy is yet another botanical genre that should be avoided by pet owners. Many different species of ivy are toxic to both dogs and cats. The variations to especially watch for are the Branching Ivy, English ivy, Devil's Ivy (also known as Golden Pothos), and Sweetheart Ivy - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, excessive drooling, vomiting and difficulty swallowing.

28. Jade Plant (also known as Chinese or Japanese Rubber Plant) - Symptoms: Vomiting, depression, ataxia, and slow heart rate.

29. Kiss-me-quick - Symptoms: Tremors, seizures (for several days), diarrhea, vomiting, excessive salivation, lethargy, in-coordination, and coughing.

30. Lacy Tree Philodendron - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

31. Lily Family - Nearly all lilies are toxic to both dogs and cats. The variations to especially watch for are Amaryllis, Arum Lily, Asian Lily, Stargazer Lily, Barbados Lily, Clivia Lily, Desert Azalea, Easter Lily, Giant Dracaena (also known as the Palm Lily), Lily-Of-The-Valley, Orange Day Lily, Tiger Lily, Trumpet Lily, and Wood Lily. With so many different species of lilies that are toxic to cats and dogs alike, it's best for pet owners to simply avoid lilies altogether. Symptoms: Diarrhea, depression, vomiting, abdominal pain, hyper-salivation, anorexia, tremors, excessive drooling, irritation to oral cavity, difficulty swallowing, cardiac arrhythmia, convulsions, kidney failure, and death.

32. Mistletoe - Symptoms: Gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular collapse, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, odd behavior that would point to signs of hallucinations, vomiting, and diarrhea.

33. Nephthytis - Symptoms: Irritation and burning of the oral cavity, excessive drooling, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing.

34. Orange - Symptoms: Vomiting, diarrhea, depression, and sometimes photo-sensitivity.

35. Pencil Cactus - Symptoms: Irritation of the oral cavity and vomiting.

36. Poinsettia - Symptoms: Irritation of the oral cavity and vomiting.

37. Primrose - Symptoms: Mild vomiting.

38. Spring Parsley - Symptoms: Photo-sensitivity, ulcerative dermatitis, exudative dermatitis, and ocular toxicity.

39. Tomato Plant - Symptoms: Excessive drooling, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness, depression, confusion, bradycardia (slow heart rate), dilated pupils, weakness, and change in behavior.

40. Tulip - Symptoms: Vomiting, depression, diarrhea, and excessive drooling.

41. Yucca - Symptoms: Vomiting and diarrhea.

It should be noted that many of these plants are popular flowers used in arrangements. Even though a cat owner has taken great care to ensure their home and yard is free from these toxic plants, any flower arrangements brought into the home should also be kept out of reach of your cat.

It should never be assumed that a cat will instinctively leave a toxic plant alone. Thousands of cats are taken to the veterinarian each year on an emergency basis due to ingestion of a toxic houseplant. By becoming familiar with this list, a cat owner can rest assured their home is a safe environment for their beloved feline.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cat Care Tips - Info on Cat Enteritis

Enteritis is a very serious disease for cats. It's often referred to as distemper, which is a disease that dogs commonly get. However, cat enteritis isn't the same. A common other name for the condition is panleukopenia.

This disease normally strikes kittens younger than six months old. However, older cats also have a relatively increased risk of developing it. Older cats may be strong enough to fight off the affliction, but kittens can easily succumb to it.

Cat enteritis is caused by a virus. Wild animals such as cats and raccoons can harbor the highly contagious virus. Infected animals can pass it to your cat by coming into direct contact with him. If your cat comes into contact with nasal or oral secretions, he can get infected too.

Owners should also know that the virus that causes enteritis can also contaminate items such as bedding, litter boxes, and food dishes. Owners can also pass the virus along to their cats because it's capable of contaminating human hands.

After being infected with cat enteritis, your cat may not show any symptoms for up to ten days. Common signs include high fever and loss of appetite. Cats may also vomit frequently, producing yellow-tinted bile in the process. If you touch your cat in the abdominal region, he may cry out in pain. It is also common for cats to have diarrhea and produce stool that also has a yellow color, although it may appear to have blood in it instead.

As mentioned, enteritis is quite serious. That's why it is important that you get your cat checked out and diagnosed with the condition as soon as possible. The chances of your cat surviving a bout with this virus rise considerably the earlier that treatment is started.

There is no way to battle the virus that causes cat enteritis directly. The vet will simply need to provide supportive measures to help your cat make it through the disease. Antibiotics will likely be given to stave off any bacterial infections. IV fluids and nutrition therapy may also be necessary.

It is very easy to prevent this disease. Simply have your feline vaccinated. The virus can live virtually anywhere in your home, so your kitten would be at risk if left unvaccinated. Using a standard disinfectant won't be enough to kill the virus either.

If your cat survives an episode of cat enteritis, then you should be aware that he will continue to shed the virus for a few weeks. Other cats in the household can easily be infected. The good news is that cats that survive an infection from the virus will be relatively safe from reinfection since their immune system will be boosted.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cats Health Care - Natural Is Best!

Cats health care is complex, but simple at the same time. This seemingly contradictory statement stems from how humans view the world. All humans have a belief system set up, that is personal and based on their upbringing, their culture, their environment, their education, their religion, etc. When any of this is challenged, it can feel very uncomfortable, unsafe even.

Cats health care is complex because every aspect of your cat's life needs to be examined. No stone can be left unturned. This is regardless of what you feel is good for your cat or not. Your preconceptions must not get in the way. You need to be very open minded.

So when you feel that you cannot examine an aspect that perhaps you need to, that may be necessary to get to the route of the problem your cat may be suffering with, you may be challenging your current belief system. Scary stuff indeed!

Cats health care is simple, because when you look at the whole picture, in its entirety, it can be easy to see where and why your cat may have a health issue.

Let's first look at how cats in the wild live. This is how they evolved. This is why cats are so successful today.

At least three things spring to mind immediately - diet, freedom and health care.

Let's deal with the last one first, as most people would be asking 'where is health care in the wild'?

Animals seek out medicinal plants and herbs, to cure a variety of problems. They know which ones are good for any given ailment. They are far more savvy than the average human. Grass is a good example - cats use it to clear a digestive problem.

Animals also know that rest and sleep can cure a large number of problems. Field doctors in a war zone discovered this too. They found that the patients they were unable to help immediately, fared far better than those they got to first.

There is a magic to life that most humans know little about. Self healing is very strong in every living being.

The second item, freedom, may not be optional for many cats for safety reasons. However, cats are free spirited and do suffer without some freedom. It is well known that cats confined indoors all the time are less healthy and life shorter lives, than those who have free access outside.

How you go about addressing this depends on where you live. Securing a safe back yard may be an option for you. Some breeds take well to walking on a lead. Just making a closed run where they can feel the grass and the sun, may make all the difference to their lives.

Probably diet is the most important aspect of everyone's health care. Yet diet is dismissed by many as being irrelevant to health. That's a bit like saying that the type of fuel you put in your car is immaterial to how it performs.

The fact is that the typical commercial cat foods fed to most cats is the cause of most of their health issues. It also means that by changing the diet of your cat to a natural one, it is highly likely that they will improve or even recover from their health problem.