cat

Feeding Fatty

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wayne-on-stool
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
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Unusual Cat Toys

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Back in August, we attended a friend’s wedding. One of the wedding favors was a tiny bottle of bubbles that we used to congratulate the bride and groom and send them off to their new life. Bubbles are now often used in lieu of throwing rice. There is an urban myth that uncooked rice can be eaten by birds and cause them to explode. This is not true. However, people can slip on rice and it does need to be swept up afterwards, so bubbles have become a more popular and fun choice.

I’m not sure how birds feel about bubbles, but some cats really like them. We brought the bubbles home and tried using them around our cats. Liv liked to watch them. Wayne didn’t care for them and left the room. Lucian loved them. He loves to bat at the bubbles as the float past him. He liked them even more when we added some concentrated catnip tea to the bubble mixture.

Adopting A Cat, Part 3

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Pure Breed or Mixed Breed?

I have to confess, I am totally biased on this topic. Too many cats and kittens are put to death each year because there are not enough good homes. All of my cats have been mixed breed cats who were adopted from shelters or rescue organizations. They have all been wonderful, beautiful and intelligent animals that have made loving companions. The sole comfort I had when Kiggy and Michi passed away in their late teens was that I had given them a good home for as long as they lived.

In the end, it’s a personal decision. If you do have your heart set on a particular breed, check shelters and breed rescues. You may be able to get the best of both worlds and rescue a pure bred cat who needs a loving home.

Places to Adopt

Local Shelter

Girl adopting a kitten
Girl adopting a kitten

Most cities have an animal shelter where you can adopt cats, dogs, even rabbits. Some of these shelters are even lucky enough to be “no kill”. This may be a bit of a misnomer. It is my understanding that these shelters will not euthanize a healthy, adoptable animal, but will take care of them both medically and emotionally until they find a good home. I prefer the ones that encourage you to visit with the animal before adoption and that will take the animal back if it is not a good fit. Their main concern is finding a good home for the animals in their care.

The benefit of adopting from a shelter includes:

  • saving an animal from being euthanized.
  • the cat or kitten will be spayed or neutered, saving you the trouble and expense.
  • the cat or kitten will have been examined and cared for by a veterinarian. You will know of any ongoing health issues before adoption.
  • the cat will be tested for disease.
  • the cat will be vaccinated (kittens will need to continue with their booster shots).

Criteria for Adoption

Given up due to allergies
Given up due to allergies

Most well run shelters will have criteria you need to meet before they will let you adopt one of their animals. At first this may seem odd because they have so many animals in their charge. Shouldn’t they be happy that someone is willing to take one of them?

They are happy that you are there to adopt, but they care deeply about the animals in their charge and want to make sure they don’t end up back in the shelter or worse. Adopting an animal is a huge responsibility and they want to make sure prospective pet owners know what they are getting themselves into.

Things They Often Ask

  1. Do you rent or own? If you rent, do you have your landlord’s written permission?
    People often give animals up because they don’t have permission to have them in a rental or they move and can’t take them. 
  2. Do you have children? If so, how many and what ages.
    Small children do better with adult cats instead of kittens.
  3. Do you or anyone in your household have allergies or asthma?
    Cats are often given up due to allergies in the household. If you have never lived with a cat before you should spend some time with one before adopting to see if you are allergic. You may still be able to adopt with some modifications to the household and treatment with antihistamines. Check with your doctor.
  4. Do you have any other pets? If so, what types, ages, etc.
    They want to know if you have dogs or other cats who may not get along or be a threat to a cat. 
  5. Have you had other pets? What happened to them?
    They want to know if you gave up animals before or lost animals to mishap. 
  6. Do you plan to keep the cat indoors or outdoors?
    Most shelters will insist you keep your cat indoors. They are much safer indoors. 
  7. Do you have a veterinarian? If so, what is the name and address.
    If you already have animals, make sure to have your vet info handy. This is a big plus and shows that you take responsibility for your cat’s health. If this is your first cat, ask friends for vet recommendations. If you already have a cat or cats, you will want to have the cat examined by your vet before bringing him/her into your home.
  8. Do you plan to de-claw?
     They will not adopt to you if you want to de-claw. De-clawing is cruel and unnecessary with proper scratching posts. If you insist on a de-clawed cat, adopt an adult that is already de-clawed.
  9. What will happen to the animal if you move?
    You must show commitment to the cat by noting that he/she will always go with you. When I rented, I always made sure I could have my cats anyplace I moved.  

Pet Store Adoption Centers

Adopt Me?
Adopt Me?

Some of the bigger pet store chains like Petco and Petsmart now host adoption centers. This is in sharp contrast to pet stores who sell animals, often from back-yard breeders or puppy or kitten mills. Please avoid the latter. If you insist on a pure bred cat, go with a reputable breeder not one who sells their animals to a pet store.

These adoption centers are usually run by small rescue groups who foster the cats and kittens until they can find a good home. The rescue groups are often more particular about whom they will adopt to. They will ask the same questions above and may even want to visit your home before the adoption is complete.

Another good place to check is Petfinder.org. It is national database of adoptable animals in shelters and rescue groups. Through their site you can search for an animal by species, breed, age, size, gender and location. 

Classified Ads

When people can no longer take care of their cats, they often advertise in the local paper, Craigslist, or the like. This is often the easiest way to adopt a cat without meeting the adoption criteria. However, be aware that the adoption criteria for shelters and adoption centers is a good basis to decide if you are ready to adopt. If you do not meet the criteria, maybe now is not the time. Make sure you are ready to provide a forever home to a cat or kitten. It’s well worth any perceived inconvenience to share your life with one of these elegant, loving animals.

Adopting A Cat, Part 2

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Male or Female?

Michi
Michi

Before I ever shared my life with a cat, I was under the misconception that female cats were better. I’m not sure why I thought that other than opinions from friends. My first two cats, Kiggy and Michi, were female and they were great. When we decided (well, I begged and hubby relented) to adopt our third, the shelter recommended adopting a male because they said that female cats would have a harder time accepting another female.

We looked around at the shelter at all the male kittens. We decided on a kitten due to the fact that we already had two and the acceptance of a kitten should be easier. Lucian was a sweet kitten, but we had forgotten how wild they can be. He terrorized our resident queens and made all us miserable. On the recommendation from the shelter, we adopted a fourth. This time we opted for another female, Lucian’s littermate whom we named Liv Tiger. She helped divert his wild energy so that the older cats could stop hiding under the couch and hissing every time he came near.

Liv and Lucian having a cuddle
Liv and Lucian having a cuddle.

After Kiggy and Michi died a year apart from each other, the house seemed empty with only two. We jointly decided to once again add a third. This time we opted for a male because we enjoyed Lucian’s company so much. He is more affectionate than the girls, which just may be his personality. We adopted Wayne and he bonded quickly with Lucian.

Some observations

I’ve lived with 5 cats over the past 19 years. Three female and two male. They have all been wonderful cats with individual personalities. All were spayed or neutered, so behavior problems due to hormonal urges have not been an issue.

  • My male cats have been more destructive as kittens.
    Lucian used to tear and bite rolls of toilet paper or paper towels. Wayne chewed anything he could get his mouth on. We had to put cord protectors to protect both our electronics and Wayne. The girls never got into too much trouble.
  • My male cats are more affectionate than the females.
    Both Wayne and Lucian are snugglers. They follow us from room to room and want to be carried or held. The girls are loving but a little more aloof.
  • My male cats are physically larger.
    Wayne is 18 pounds and Lucian is 15. Liv is only 10 pounds. Michi was only 8 pounds and Kiggy was 10 pounds.
  • Male cats will spray to mark their territory if not neutered. They will also be more territorial and fight other males for dominance.
    My cats were all neutered before reaching sexual maturity. They have never sprayed. 
  • Aggressiveness
    I haven’t noticed any difference in aggressiveness with altered male or female cats. Lucian is somewhat aggressive. When he’s in a bad mood he’ll take it out on his sister. Liv was aggressive with Kiggy and Michi but not with the boys. Wayne is passive. Although he is the largest cat in the household, he is also the most meek. He’ll back down in any confrontation. He still tries to bulk up by bristling his fur on his back and tail to try to look bigger. He’s 34 inches in length and 18 pounds. I’m not sure he needs the illusion of extra size.

Conclusion

In the end, it’s the individual personality of the cat that makes a difference. As long as the cat has been spayed or neutered, gender will not play that big of a role.

Adopting A Cat, Part 1

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Am I Ready?

Adopting a cat is a wonderful experience, but one that should be taken very seriously. Cats can live into their late teens or even early twenties. Before adopting a cat you should ask yourself some questions.

  1. Am I willing to adjust my life and my home to accommodate a cat?
    While cats are a fairly low maintenance pet, they do need outlets for scratching, they shed, they need a litter box and do vomit on occasion. Are you willing to put the time into learning what is natural behavior and adjust accordingly?
  2. Can I afford medical care for my cat?
    Veterinary bills can be very expensive. It’s important to find a good vet for regular medical care.
  3. Who will take care of my cat when I travel?
    Do you have a friend or relative who can come by to feed and visit while you are away?
  4. What will happen to my cat if I have to move?
    Make sure that you can provide a “forever home” for your cat. He or she will become part of your family and will need to be treated as such. 
  5. Does anyone in the house have allergies or asthma?
    Cats are often given up because someone in the household has allergies or asthma that is made worse by a cat. If you are not sure, try spending some time with a friend who has cats to see how you react. 

Cat or Kitten?

Kittens

Wayne as a kitten
Wayne as a kitten

Kittens are one of the cutest things on the face of the earth. Only a hard hearted person could resist the allure of a tiny, soft little kitten.

There are many positives to adopting a kitten, including:

  • you know the kitten’s history
  • you can train the kitten
  • kittens are easier to introduce to a multi-cat household
  • they’re just so darn cute

Some things to consider before adopting a kitten, include:

  • kittens are wild and like to play all the time, often hunting you if no other ‘prey’ is available
  • kittens are small and can easily be hurt by a child or adult playing too rough
  • kittens are curious and will get into everything
  • you need to kitten proof the house, similar to baby-proofing a house for a new infant
  • you have the added expenses of vaccinations and spaying/neutering
  • kittens can be destructive by chewing on cords, running up drapes, breaking nick-nacks, etc.
  • kitten’s personalities have not developed yet

Cats

Wayne laying on his back
Wayne as a cat

You would be surprised at how quickly a kitten becomes a cat. Within one year, the kitten will be full grown. If this is your first cat or you do not have other cats at home, you may want to consider an adult cat. 

Some positives to adopting an adult cat include:

  • cats are more mellow than kittens
  • cats should already be trained to use a litterbox
  • cats personalities are more apparent
  • you may be saving a cat’s life by adopting from a shelter. most people want kittens.
Some things to consider before adopting an adult cat include: 
  • does the cat have any behavior or health problems? This shouldn’t prevent you from adopting, but you should be aware of extra training or medical costs.
  • if you have other cats, will they get along? Adult cats often see a new cat as an intruder. Introductions need to be slow.