Weighing Cats

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Pet scaleHaving lost a beloved cat recently, I have learned how important it is to monitor their weight on a regular basis. Cats don’t often show signs of illness until it is rather serious. However, all three of the cats we’ve lost over the years had lost a significant amount of weight since their last vet visit. It was a slow process and one that we didn’t notice.

We have two cats now. Wayne is a big cat, both in structure and in weight. He’s clocking in at 19 pounds currently. He’s up 1 lb from a few years ago, but should be a few pounds lighter. Liv is underweight at 8 pounds, which is 2 pounds lighter than her healthy weight. Now that we only have two, we’re focusing on getting Liv’s weight up and Wayne’s weight down.

I am now weighing the cats weekly and keeping a spreadsheet with their weights. Monthly is probably a fine interval. There are a couple of ways to weigh your cat.

  1. Use your bathroom scale
    This is the easiest method. Step on the scale holding your cat and record the combined weight. Set your cat down and weigh yourself. Subtract your weight and you will have your cat’s weight.
  2. Get a pet or baby scale
    I bought an infant/toddler scale and now weigh the cats on it. It’s similar to what they use at the vet’s office and the cats tolerate it well. It has a tray to hold the baby and also is a safe area for the cat to sit. They will try to walk off, but both have settled in and now sit while I record their weight.

If your cat needs to lose or gain weight, this will help you monitor the progress. If your cat is a healthy weight, this will help you if he or she starts losing weight unintentionally. You can schedule a vet visit sooner to get ahead of any health problems.

If you are trying to help your cat lose weight, work with your veterinarian. It can be dangerous for cats to lose too much weight too quickly.

Home Euthanasia

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[ Reblogged from SylviaBass.com]

Our beloved Lucian

There comes a time in every pet guardian’s life when we have to say good-bye. We don’t like to think about it, but our companion animals lives are usually shorter than our own. I’ve had to do this three times now and each time it has been painful and heart wrenching.

Our beloved cat Lucian became seriously ill on February 12th. He was diagnosed with feline pancreatitis or possibly pancreatic cancer. We were able to care for him at home by giving him pain medication, appetite stimulants, and anti-nausea medication. He responded well initially, but started to weaken. Then the pain medication stopped being effective. We were able to give it more frequently, but even that didn’t help. The cancer diagnosis became more likely.

We had agreed as a family that we didn’t want him spending his last days or weeks in a hospital. He was 14 1/2 and we loved him greatly. He was our baby and spent all his waking time with us. The thought of being without him was agony, but his comfort came before ours.

We made the difficult decision to release him from his pain. Our friends had a positive experience with home euthanasia when they had to say goodbye to their pug. We found a place called Lap of Love, a hospice veterinarian. We called them, explaining Lucian’s illness. Dr. Erin Hogan was the vet on call. She was incredibly compassionate and agreed to come to our home when we were ready.

We were able to move Lucian gently downstairs on a fleece bed and blanket. We petted him, cried, and said our goodbyes as we waited for Dr. Erin. She arrived and gently explained the procedure. She gave Lucian a sedative which let his little body relax. He had been so tensed up and in pain. When we were ready, she shaved one of his back legs and gave him the overdose that would end his pain. We were able to sit with him and let the other cats come and sniff him to also say their farewells. She wrapped his body up in fleece blankets, gently placed him in a basket and carried him to her car. We are having him cremated and having his ashes returned to us. She followed up with a card and an email to check on our well being, which was kind.

It was a gentle death that befitted our sweet baby. I miss him terribly, but I don’t regret freeing him from pain or doing this at home.

When the time comes for you say to goodbye, consider doing it at home. I was not present for my first two cats’ farewells and I regret that. I did not think I could handle it, and although it was hard, it was easier than doing it at the vet’s office. It was better for Lucian, better for our other cats and better for us.

My friend, Jill, said it best, “I would like to go that way.”

Feeding Fatty, Part 2

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In a previous post, I wrote about ways to feed cats in a multi-cat household. Inevitably, it seems one cat always eats more than his/her fair share. We’ve been struggling with this issue for as long as we’ve had more than one cat.

Feeding Station
Liv (Left), Wayne (Middle) and Lucian (Right)

Our latest attempt at feeding seems to be working so far. It’s a bit unconventional and requires some handy-man/crafter skills. The basic premise is to create narrow feeding corrals so that the cats are guided into areas where they will ignore the other cats and just eat their own food. This is the prototype using soymilk cartons from Costco lined with contact paper and taped together.

Liv took to it immediately. We had already been feeding her in something similar, so it was familiar. Wayne hates it! He will eat, but only if he’s really hungry. He tends to leave as soon as he’s satiated instead of hoovering up whatever the other’s have left behind. Lucian eats well and is less apt to go smack Liv to get her out-of-the-way so he can finish hers. Read the rest of this entry »

Saying Good-bye

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The sad truth to sharing your life with anyone is that eventually there will come a time to say good-bye. Last week, two friends of mine dealt with this first-hand when their beloved cats died. Both cats had been sick and the terrible decision of whether or not to euthanize needed to be made. This choice is agonizing even though you don’t want to see your cat suffer, you also aren’t ready to let go. Some people say that you will know when the time is right. I’m not so sure.

Kiggy as a kitten
Kiggy as a kitten

When Kiggy was ill, it took me by surprise. She was 16 and was slowing down, but she seemed very healthy. At her regular vet checkup earlier that year, she came through with flying colors. I thought we still had years together, so it was a shock when I took her in for a mild cough only to find that her lungs were filled with fluid. We never knew exactly what was wrong. They initially thought cardiomyopathy, but her heart was fine. Most likely it was cancer. After two weeks of care and hoping she’d get better, we opted for euthanasia. She wasn’t eating and her breathing was increasingly labored. It was the right decision, but it was agonizing. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh, barf!

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Photo by matuzalems
Photo by matuzalems

 One thing you will quickly learn when sharing your life with a cat is that they throw up on occasion. You’re lucky if it is a rare occurrence. Generally, if it does not happen often and the cat seems fine afterwards with a healthy appetite, it’s nothing to worry about. If you cat is listless or won’t eat, don’t take a chance and take him to the vet to get checked out.

Two of the most common reasons that your cat throws up are  hair balls and eating too fast. Lucian vomits his food up when he has a hair ball that he’s having trouble passing. After a few tries, there is usually a hair ball in the mix of barely digested food. Kiggy used to throw up almost daily in the summer when I lived in apartment that got too hot during the day. There’s nothing like finding a pile of goo in stocking feet or worse bare feet. Blech! One word of advice, if your cat is vomiting don’t pick him up! I did that once with Michi to get her off the carpet. It ended up with me running with a cat who projectile vomited all over the walls. Ewwww

My husband loves the cats but he has a strong gag reflex and has a hard time cleaning up the mess. (Or at least that’s what he claims ;¬) ) His aversion to cat vomit actually helped him come up with a winning method of cleaning up the mess.

Hard Floors

  1. Cover the mess with a paper towel or two. (A nice absorbent towel like Bounty works well.)
  2. Leave it alone and let the towel soak up most of the fluid. (If you have wooden floors, you may want to clean it up sooner so that it doesn’t soak into the wood.)
  3. Grab a plastic grocery bag and place your hand inside.
  4. Scoop up the towels, barf and all and flip the bag around so that the mess is inside. This way you don’t actually have to touch the goo.
  5. Dispose in the trash.
  6. If you have hard floors, you can wipe up any remaining mess with a damp paper towel. Use a little dish soap if your floors are tile or something else that can handle it. With wooden floors you may want to try diluted vinegar. 

Cleaning Carpet

If you have carpet, you can follow steps 1 – 5 above. There will likely still be a stain left behind. Club soda works wonders for getting the stain up. Keep club soda in a clean spray bottle handy. The club soda will remain a good cleaning agent even after the carbonation has gone away.

  1. Remove the bulk of the vomit using the steps above
  2. Spray club soda on the carpet 
  3. Blot the stain with a clean white towel. (Old towels or shop towels work well for this purpose. They don’t need to be white, but it helps to see the stain transferred to the towel.)
  4. Keep spraying and blotting until the stain is gone. You should see the carpet get clean and the towel get dirty. 
  5. Let the carpet dry. It should only be damp so it shouldn’t take long. The club soda will not leave a residue like other carpet cleaners that seem to attract new stains in the future.
  6. Give your cat some hair ball remedy and remind him how lucky he is to have you to clean up after him.


Photo by Ocean Yamaha
Photo by Ocean Yamaha

Hairball Prevention 

I’m sure you’ve heard the proverb, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. The best way to not have to clean up cat vomit is to prevent the hairball formation. Cats are great groomers and generally keep themselves very clean. Cats clean themselves by licking their fur. Some of that fur ends up in the cat’s stomach. If your cat has long hair this makes the hairball issue more of a problem. Regular brushing of your cat’s coat will help him shed less and help prevent hairball formation.

You Want To Do What With That Brush?

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It may seem strange to brush a cat’s teeth. They don’t have dental care in the wild. So why would they need good dental hygiene as pets?

A pet cat’s diet is vastly different from a cat who hunts for his food. Eating dry kibble and moist canned food is not the same as crunching little mice bones. While cats do not get cavities, they do develop gingivitis and gum disease on a frequent basis. Your veterinarian can clean the tarter off of your cat’s teeth, but this usually requires that the cat be sedated which has some risks and is expensive.

Not all cats will take to a toothbrush with grace. Most likely, he will wonder why you’ve gone mad and will run away, swat and/or bite. I’ve had good luck with my three, but they are generally good about letting me brush them and trim their claws.

There are special toothbrushes for cats and special toothpaste that they actually like. It is usually flavored with chicken or fish, not minty-fresh like ours. While you can use a child’s toothbrush, never use human toothpaste.

There are some great videos online that will help you get started. Patience, a sense of humor and lots of treats are a must.


This video shows a veterinarian giving instructions on how to brush a cat’s teeth. We use the same cat toothbrush. It works very well.

Cornell Cat Health Videos

Cornell University has a series of videos showing you how to ease you cat into brushing.

Feeding Fatty

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Wayne waiting for food

If you live in a multi-cat household, you likely have one or more cats who are gluttons when it comes to meal time. We had this problem when we only had two. Kiggy would eat her dinner and then saunter over, push Michi out of the way and finish hers too. At that time, we had a fairly simple solution. We put Michi’s food up on a shelf. Kiggy had trouble jumping up on anything higher than the couch or bed.

When we adopted Liv and Lucian, they could easily jump up and finish Michi’s food for her. We started feeding Michi on the enclosed patio until a raccoon decided to join in. Poor Michi, she was always low kitty on the totem pole.

Now that we have Liv, Lucian and Wayne, it’s now Liv who is the one who gets pushed aside. Lucian usually eats some of his, pushes Wayne out of the way, who then makes a beeline to Liv and finishes her dinner. Unless we stand vigilant or feed her in a separate room, the boys get more than their fair share.

Wayne is a big cat, but he’s also rapidly becoming a fat cat. Feline obesity is a serious problem worldwide. The current consensus is that a dry food diet coupled with a sedentary lifestyle is causing our cats to become chubby. We’ve started feeding them more canned food and switched the dry to a low carb version. The theory is that a cat’s natural diet consists of hunting live food that consists mainly of protein and little carbohydrates. It’s been nicknamed the Catkins diet. It makes sense and seems to be helping.

Cat Feeder with too much food!
Cat Feeder with too much food!

We also realized that they beg for food all through the day when we’re home. We work long hours on most days and they go for a long stretch with no food. We purchased an automatic feeder that has six compartments that rotates at programmed times. Now, while we are gone they get a little dry food at regular intervals. Wayne has lost a little weight and he no longer waits by the door howling to be fed the moment we enter.

Here’s the formula that seems to be working:

  • Canned food (has more protein and water)
  • Low-carbohydrate dry food
  • Feed small portions at more frequent intervals