Category: cat care

Buddy ‘Declaws’ Himself

Despite having real scratchers, including the biggest-available tower scratcher sturdy enough for him to stretch out completely, Buddy likes to scratch anything and everything he can get his paws on.

The couch, area carpets, the screen door leading to the balcony, even my brand new La Z Boy desk chair.

Without fail he gets his claws stuck on things he’s not supposed to scratch, and then he mews pitifully in his kitten voice until I find him and gently lift him up to get him unstuck.

After I free him he gets all affectionate, and then he forgets all about it until the next time he decides it’s a good idea to scratch on things he’s been snagged on before.

Today the little dude was having another go at the new desk chair and got his claws stuck on the protective cover that’s there to stop him from clawing the chair in the first place.

I stood up to help him and he yanked on the cover, pulling his paw loose but dislodging something in the process.

Sure enough, when I looked on the floor, this is what I found:

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As you can see, he tore off his entire claw.

I’m surprised he didn’t give any outward indication of pain. He’s been walking around just fine without a limp. I know his instinct will be to hide the pain, like all other cats, but he doesn’t seem very good at that: Just last night he was crying for a few minutes because of an upset stomach, after he’d regurgitated his dinner. (I sat with him and scratched his head. He felt better within 10 minutes.)

I’m pretty sure the claw came from his right paw, but I haven’t had the chance to examine him yet. I’ll have to wait until he’s in a chill mood to handle his paw and take a closer look.

I don’t see anything to indicate the quick was ripped or dislodged in any way. Still, I can’t imagine it’s not bothering him.

Have any of you guys dealt with anything like this before? Is there any reason to worry?

Are Cat Fountains Worth It?

Cats need to stay hydrated to avoid serious health problems, but they don’t make it easy.

Our furry friends have low thirst drives given their long evolutionary history of obtaining much of their fluids from meat. They just don’t feel the need to slurp down water the way other animals do.

When cats live in human homes, keeping them hydrated can be even more difficult because they’re mischievous little stinkers.

Buddy’s no exception. The little dude loved to knock his water bowl over and paw at the water, so I replaced his bowl with a wide-bottom stainless-steel one that is virtually impossible for him to upend.

Then I noticed his water was sometimes dirty, or I’d find things in his bowl: hair ties, toys, the little plastic rings from drink bottles, twist ties and other things he likes to play with.

Bud was taking random things from around the house and depositing them in his water bowl, which is probably just another fun game for him. (Some theories suggest this behavior is instinctual as well, that cats are “washing the scent off” toys representing prey or simply hiding it as they would a kill.)

“Cats often put their toys away in a ‘safe’ place after playing with them, and cats look upon their food area as a secure part of their territory,” says a Q&A from Chewy. “This behavior is similar to cats in the wild who often take their prey back to their nest area to hide it from potential predators. Your cat simply might be storing his toy in a secure area to be played with later.”

As far as Buddy’s concerned, the entire apartment is his territory, but he’s especially protective of his little dining nook.

I can imagine the dialogue in Buddy’s head: “Hmmm, bottle cap. Where did I put my favorite bottle cap? Oh, right. My water bowl!”

Little dude gets two fresh wet meals per day, and at night I put out about half a bowl of good dry food as a late-night snack and something to tide him over till morning if he gets peckish overnight. (It usually prevents him from waking me up strictly for food, but he still finds his reasons to interrupt my sleep.)

I put fresh water out for him twice a day at set times, and sometimes randomly if I notice the water’s low, dirty or there’s a toy in it.

Between the wet food and the bowl he probably gets just about enough fluids, but I think we can do better, for his health first and foremost — since so many serious cat ailments, especially in males, are linked to dehydration — and to avoid costly and traumatic veterinary procedures.

Can anyone recommend some good fountains?

I’d like something non-electric, but a cat fountain that uses gravity to release stagnant water kind of seems like it defeats the purpose. I’ve also read that plastics are bad, as dirt and dust can get embedded in the surface. Finally, articles about pet fountains often suggest flat drinking surfaces are best to encourage cats to drink, as their whiskers don’t get caught or wet. I’m not sure how much difference that makes, and it’s probably different for each cat.

Do you have a fountain for your cats? What are your thoughts on how effective it is at getting them to drink more?

Why Your Cat Doesn’t Want A Hug

The Daily Mail has an amusing photo gallery of cats looking annoyed as their human servants pull them in for hugs.

Some of the cats have unmistakably disgusted looks on their faces, some use their paws to push their people away, and a few even sink their teeth into their humans when the latter prove themselves oblivious to every other form of communication.

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I’d like to think most of the people pictured aren’t experienced caretakers, because while every cat is different, as a general rule cats aren’t fond of hugs. That should be apparent almost immediately to anyone who bonds with a cat.

Why? Because cats don’t like feeling restricted, and to them, a hug is an animal 10 to 25 times their weight manhandling them and preventing them from leaving under their own power.

Cats aren’t comfortable with that for the same reason they don’t like being cornered and having their escapes blocked.

Of course we all understand the impulse to hug cats. They’re small, cute, fluffy little animals who behave a lot like furry toddlers and amuse us with their endearing quirks.

But as with petting, if you want your cat to enjoy hugs, your best bet is to allow kitty to come to you and seek affection on her own terms.

In short, treat them like the living beings they are and respect their feelings. They’re not pillows.

I try to limit my unsolicited petting to a quick chin-scratch or head rub in passing. If Bud wants more, he lets me know. By respecting his boundaries I’m also letting him know that approaching me when he does want affection will result in a stress-free experience: The little dude will climb onto my shoulder or pad up onto my chest, his entire body vibrating with his powerful purring, and nuzzle his cheek against me.

That’s his way of letting me know he’s in the mood to have his head and cheeks rubbed and his chin scratched. Often I’ll just hold out a hand at first, letting him guide my hand to the top of his head.

That builds trust so that when Bud is relaxed and lays down on my chest, I can hold him for a few minutes and rub his head as he purrs. He knows I’m not going to stifle him.

That’s how you hug a cat. Many dogs seem to enjoy getting scratches and pets any time, indefinitely. Cats don’t.

Buddy the Manly
“Back off, human, or face the wrath of my fangs and claws

Again, cats are like humans — they each have their own personalities, likes and dislikes. Learning them shouldn’t be difficult, but one thing is universal in feline-human relationships: The more trust you build, the more your cat will seek you out and want to spend time by your side.

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Cats Suffer From Human Mental Illness Too

Having Google alerts set up for cat-related new can yield some pretty awesome and unique stories as fodder for this blog, but it can also be seriously depressing, with story after story about cats getting shot with arrows, pellets and bullets, cats poisoned with antifreeze, cats abused for online fame and even cats killed by psychotic ex-boyfriends or girlfriends.

There are, unfortunately, plenty of hoarding stories as well, and they’re a reminder that cats don’t just suffer physical abuse at the hands of humans, they suffer mental abuse and neglect by mentally ill people.

That’s the case in Park Township, Michigan, where authorities acting on a tip found more than 150 cats living in “deplorable conditions”. Even protective gear couldn’t entirely filter the smell inside the home, animal control officers said.

The town declared the house unfit for human habitation and the local animal authority, St. Joseph County Animal Control, needed help from nearby animal shelters and rescues to confiscate the cats, who will be given veterinary care and rehabbed before they’re offered for adoption.

The raid was “by far” the “biggest animal seizure we’ve done,” animal control supervisor Greg Musser told the local NBC affiliate.

The cats range in age from newborn kittens to adults. Two cats were euthanized. Taking in more than 150 cats is no small task, and the shelter is asking for help with cat/kitten food, litter and other supplies.

“We have been working tirelessly to take care of all these cats on top of the normal business,” the shelter’s Facebook page reads. “We are doing our best to answer the phone and return messages. We are in need of wet and dry kitten food, litter, pee pads, laundry detergent and bleach. We are also in need of gently used baby blankets.”

In an updated story, authorities in a nearby town found similar hoarding conditions in a second property owned by the same woman, who moved some of the cats between them after a natural gas leak at the first home.

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While the number of cats is unusual, the story is not: Rescuers confiscated 50 cats and 30 raccoons from a home in Ohio on Aug. 6, following the rescue of 97 cats from another Ohio home two weeks earlier. Less than two weeks ago, the SPCA pulled more than 30 dog and cats from a Pennsylvania home in which the inside temperature exceeded 100 degrees. Authorities found 150 cats in a Toronto home last month, including several kittens who were in seriously bad shape.

Those are just a sampling pulled from the first few results on Google News. Doubtless a lot of these people mean well when they start taking in cats, and the behavior is the result of untreated mental illness. But what can be done to protect cats from these situations?

Featured image credit Chamber of Hoarders. It depicts another hoarding situation, similar to the Michigan case.

Do You Bathe Your Cat?

Julie’s comment on our last post about cat photos got me thinking: I haven’t given Buddy a bath since he was a kitten.

There are a few good reasons: Many veterinarians don’t think it’s necessary if the cat doesn’t go outdoors, doesn’t have any flea problems and doesn’t come into contact with potential toxins. A short-haired indoor cat who is healthy and flexible enough to thoroughly groom himself doesn’t need bathing, according to trusted animal organizations like the ASPCA.

Unless your cat is a rescue off the street, unable to groom herself or is one of the “hairless” breeds — like a Sphinx — caretakers should “absolutely not” bathe their cats, feline guru Jackson Galaxy agrees.

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Not a happy camper: Most domestic cats loathe baths. (Credit)

Since Buddy is young and healthy, and the little guy was always seriously distressed by taking a bath, I decided not to put him through the stress. Fear of water may seem ridiculous to us humans, but for cats it’s a big deal.

He does a good job grooming himself, I’ve never detected any odor on him, and perhaps most importantly I’d need heavy gloves, a plastic mask and a family size tube of antimicrobial ointment for the inevitable wounds in places where I’m not heavily armored.

I am, however, open to feedback. Are there good reasons why I should be bathing Bud? Have I been too eager to accept the anti-cat-bathing argument because I don’t want to get soaked and scratched by an angry cat? Am I being negligent by not bathing him?

If you do advocate bathing cats, how often do you bathe your own little buddies, and how do handle the ordeal?

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Cats may be stoic, but not when it comes to enduring baths. (Credit)