Cat Care Tips: March 2009 Archives

girl_grooming_cat.jpgUsually harmless, hairballs that your cat brings up every once in a while consist of fur ingested by the animal when cleaning itself. Some hairballs cannot be dislodged by the cat which is the time it can cause problems. At this point, if non-responsive to standard treatment (usually by way of laxatives), the cat might need surgical intervention or it could possibly die.

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Since hairballs are soft masses, they don't show up on x-rays so owners need to be aware of their pet's grooming habits. If you describe your cat as one that is always licking its coat and grooming itself, you should mention this to your veterinarian if the animal seems to be lethargic, losing weight and/or is disinterested in food.

Questionable Prevention of Hairballs

In his book Amazing Kitchen Cures, Joey Green claims that using a little Alberto VO5 conditioner in your cat's coat is a hairball prevention measure. He says the conditioner is safe because it's non-toxic and natural.

However, a March 2009 report regarding baby shampoos and children's bubble baths from big brand names like Johnson's, L'Oreal, Sesame Street, Huggies and Pampers, was cited in the news recently, saying that trace amounts of formaldehyde and other chemicals have been found in them. The cancer-causing toxins have not been separately added to the products (thus are not required to be listed as ingredients) but are by-products of chemical manufacturing and product development.

Although initial findings are not calling for product recall citing that the soaps are used quickly and then rinsed off children's skin and scalps, the same cannot be said for cats. If you put even a small amount of conditioner in a cat's coat, its grooming habits are such that the product will be ingested.

First Line of Defense Against Hairballs

pictures_cat_comb.jpgThe best thing you can do for your cat to prevent hairballs is to use a steel-toothed comb or a curry brush (one with rubber nubs) and comb her with it regularly. Simple, but there it is. Many cat owners find that the de-shedding tool called The Furminator ruins the animal's top coat (although dog owners tend to swear by it). Using a regular pet brush on your cat doesn't usually touch the undercoat, but can be add a nice finishing glossy touch to her fur.

If you have a kitten, this is the time to get her used to being groomed by you. If your cat doesn't appreciate grooming, a little at a time will help with periodic trips to a groomer whenever necessary. Grooming should always start with your hands, to feel for lumps, tangles or matted hair.

Holistic and Homeopathic Approaches to Hairball Prevention

Hairballs are comprised of a lot of fat in addition to your cat's fur. By adding a teaspoon of egg-based lecithin (not soy-based) to your cat's wet food twice a week, the fat is dissolved, allowing the hairball to pass through the intestinal tract.

Indoor-only cats should have access to "cat grass". This provides natural roughage to your pet's diet and seems have a mild laxative effect, which can help eliminate the fur that is ingested by your cat when grooming.

Slippery Elm Bark (a herb that turns slimy when you mix it with water) works by coating the digestive tract, again helping your cat to expel hair balls naturally. This is another preventive measure which you can give your cat twice a week. One way to prepare slippery elm bark is to mix 2 capsules with a tablespoon of boiling water. When it cools, add it to your cat's favorite wet food.

Food Supplements That Help Avoid or Get Rid of Hairballs

Pictures_of_cats_vacuuming.jpgIf your cat enjoys a pat of butter, you can treat her twice weekly with about a half teaspoon to help lubricate her digestive system. Soft bulk is another approach to help her pass hairballs, serving a teaspoon of pureed vegetable two times a week, like canned pumpkin (natural with no additives) or squash.

Pet Store Hairball Products

Petroleum-based laxatives that have been approved by the FDA for use in veterinary medicine include brand names like Drs. Foster and Smith Hairball Remedy, Felaxin, Kat-A-Lax, Lax'aire, Laxatone, to name a few. As with the homeopathic products and some of the foods, the vaseline basically coats both the hair in the cat's stomach and intestines, helping it to pass through the animal's gastrointestinal tract, and also lubricates the colon and stool itself.

In any of the laxatives, there can be a decrease in the body's ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, & K) especially when it is used frequently and on a long term basis. Speak to your vet about vitamin supplements if you are regularly providing your cat with any hairball prevention foods, herbs or products.

Freelance writer Stephanie Olsen has been involved in animal rescue for many years. If you have questions about your cats or kittens, visit Kitten Adoption Info to read more informative articles.

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pictures_cats_litter_alternatives.jpgIndoor cats use litter boxes, and those litter boxes need to be filled with litter. I, personally, am allergic to clay litter. Since I have an indoor cat, I have to find an alternative to clay litter. I'm going to review a few of the alternative non-clay litters that I have tried, namely PaPurr Scoop, World's Best and Swheat Scoop.

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My criteria for a good litter are:

- Dust-free (or as dust free as litter can get)

- Good odor control

- As little tracking as possible

- Good clumping for easy removal

- Smells good

With that, let me get on with the review of each.

PaPurr Scoop Review

First off, let me

review PaPurr Scoop.

PaPurr Scoop litter is a clumping litter made out of recycled paper. It is lightly scented with a somewhat floral scent. This litter does not have much dust since it is made out of recycled paper. What I like about this litter is that it feels just like clay with the little round particles. It feels good to the touch, so I would imagine it would feel good to a cat's paws as well.

My cat is really good with his litter box habits and so he will use whatever I put in his box. Which works great for me as I don't have to worry when switching litters for testing purposes. When I first put this litter into his box, he came over and sniffed it. He used it, but he didn't really like the smell of it. It made him sneeze. It made me sneeze too after it was sitting there for a while. It was the fragrance they put in it.

It didn't work out . . .

Moving on to World's Best Cat Litter . . .

World's Best Cat Litter Review

World's Best Cat Litter is made from corn. I know some cats and some people are allergic to corn, so caution needs to be exercised in this regard.

pictures_cats_clay_alternatives_litter.jpgThe litter is lightweight and so it does track quite a bit, unfortunately. This litter IS dusty. I ended up with a fine layer of corn dust everywhere my cat stepped. And my cat, whose feet are white, ended up with yellow feet a few weeks into using this litter . . . It was kinda funny . . . and if you happen to own a yellow cat, then this wouldn't be a problem . . .

Clumping-wise, World's Best does clump well. The clumps are rather loose though. My cat would end up playing with the clumps to the point of breaking it into many little clumps which would end up not getting scooped since they were so little . . . Not good.

World's Best is good at controlling odor though. The bag states that you can use this littler up a month, but I was only able to use it for about two weeks before it started smelling foul. This is probably due to my cat breaking apart his clumps . . . (I scoop twice daily.) And another note, a rather interesting one at that. This corn litter attracts moths, a lot of moths. It took me a few days to realize where they came from . . .

Next, we have Swheat Scoop.

Swheat Scoop Review

And thus, my trials took me to Swheat Scoop, my current favorite.

Swheat Scoop is truly a dust free litter. But again, this litter is not for those with wheat allergies.

Swheat Scoop has small granules that are denser than World's Best and so it tracks a bit less than World's Best.

It's odor control is great. I like the light scent of the wheat as well. My cat isn't bothered by the smell of it either. Out of these three litters, this is the only one that does not make him sneeze.

The clumps are hard and I haven't seen any broken clumps since I started using this product.

One word of caution, the bag states to keep at least 3 inches of litter in the box. This is a necessity! If you keep less, then you will end up with a mushy pile of litter at the bottom of the box. Not very pleasant to clean up . . . I currently keep about 4 inches of it in my jumbo size box (I have a big cat). It works great!

Thanks for reading! And I hope this helps in your search for a good alternative to clay cat litter.

Article by Amy Yang. Read more of Amy Yang's reviews at her blog, Best Cat Care Products.

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Just like in real estate where location is crucial, so it is for your cat's litter boxes.

Here's some ideas and tips on how to effectively locate them for good cat litter box habits.

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Pictures_cats_litter_box_location.jpgWhen you think about cat litter box placement, imagine if it's a place where you'd like to do your business. We humans generally cherish a quiet and private location. Your cat isn't much different. She'd like her cat litter boxes placed where she can feel safe while voiding. When animals eliminate, this is a vulnerable time for them, and if your cat doesn't feel safe and comfortable, she'll find her own location to fulfill this need.

Depending upon the cat's age and mobility, an ideal litter box location is someplace where humans don't tread constantly. Take a look around your house and think about this as you ponder locations. Some ideal places are your basement, rarely-used bathrooms, and larger closets.

If you have a room that doesn't get much traffic and won't let the odors waft all through the house, then set up a litter box in that location.

If a family member's bedroom will work (assuming that person won't be jarred awake at 3 AM when kitty is busy digging a hole to China to bury her output!), use that as well.

Many cats prefer to have a cat litter box near their favorite "hang outs." This way, they don't have to go far when nature calls.

The most desirable location will be quiet, somewhat secluded, and afford kitty the luxury of time and the feeling of safety to properly eliminate in her cat litter box.

Sometimes your cat will decide a location for you. In my home, my kitty Scout prefers the cat litter box in the exercise room in lieu of the one in the basement (which would be my first choice) and another in a nook off the kitchen.

But she doesn't like those locations as well, so it's critical that I keep that cat litter box up to her standards - clean, no deposits left over from her brother JJ, and leaving the door open - even when I'm using the exercise bike or the cross trainer! If I forget any of these things, she lets me in the most direct way possible - by not using a litter box when she needs to eliminate.

If there was ever a case where cats have staffers and hired help, I'm living proof! So take a hint from your cat...try to accomodate her preferred location for successful, consistent cat litter box usage.

Article by Nancy Wigel who solved the cat urine odor problem in her home, and kept the cat that caused it. Read "18 Ways to Stop Cat Urine Odor Problems" to discover your solution.

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Cat_litter_box.jpgAutomatic litter boxes live to do one thing - clean up after your kitty's visits to the box. Around the clock, they scoop and clean the litter bed removing waste and leaving the pan fresh for the next call of nature. The most obvious benefit of a self cleaning box is in the time saved, but you might not realize that these boxes can actually be healthier for your kitty and you. Read on to learn how this new technology can protect the health your pet and your family.

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It's no secret that cat boxes develop an odor rather quickly. This is in part due to the fact that they hold kitty's waste. It is also partly due to the fact that bacteria can develop in the box, creating an odor and a health hazard.

Bacteria thrives in warm moist areas, just like the bottom of your litter pan. The longer waste sits, the more likely it is that bacteria will grow and thrive. The result is odor. Worse still, every time your pet visits the box they can get that bacteria on their paws and track it on to furniture, laps, and everywhere else they go. This spread of bacteria increases the chance of your pet becoming ill and possibly members of your family as well.

The solution? Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of your kitty's litter pan. Ideally, you should scoop after every visit as this will prevent the waste from sitting and the bacteria from developing. Realistically, no one has the time to constantly monitor their pets litter box. Fortunately, there are many options available in the way of automatic litter boxes.

Most self cleaning litter boxes work around the clock to clean up waste after your pet. Every model also has some type of storage for waste material so that it doesn't sit where it can develop a smell or come in contact with your pet. Maintaining one of these litter boxes is as easy as emptying out the waste compartment. There is even one type that cleans and disinfects it's self using a cleaning solution.

If you would like help choosing the right automatic litter box for you and your kitty's, be sure to check out my site for a number of litter box reviews. On my site you will find feedback from other cat owners on the variety of self cleaning cat boxes on the market and learn which ones work best and which ones are better avoided.

Article By A.J. Lowery

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Pictures_cats_kitten.jpgSpring is here, and with it lots of kittens. If you have an animal shelter near you, perhaps you want to consider asking if they send mother cats and kittens to foster homes and opening up your home to foster a family of kittens.

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Many shelters have found that sending the mother cat and her kittens to a foster home is a great way to save shelter money and a great way to keep the kittens away from diseases that are found at animal shelters.

Offering your home as a foster home for kittens is a great way to help the animal shelters, and a great way to be involved in helping your community. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

First, if you already have cats, be sure to get them vaccinated for the most common cat diseases. The kittens and their mother that you take in could be carrying diseases such as feline leukemia and Feline Infection Peritonitis.

You will also want to make sure your cats do not have anything that could be harmful to the mother and her kittens. Having your cats tested for worms and given a health exam would be helpful in keeping the kittens healthy while they are at your home.

Another thing you want to consider is the responsibility. During the weeks you have them, until they are old enough to be altered and adopted out, you will be responsible for their care. If they get sick, the shelter will probably cover the expense, but you will be the one administering the medicine.

You will also be responsible for taking care of the mother and keeping the kittens safe. With a mother cat and her kittens visiting your home you will not be as free to go away, especially not on any overnight trips.

Those are the difficulties of being a foster home for kittens. What are the benefits?

pictures_cats_Queen_kittens.jpgFirst, the enjoyment you get from helping these little creatures. Many kittens kept at shelters do not survive because of disease. It is not the fault of the shelter, but with all the animals coming and going there is little chance kittens won't get ill. Depending on how weak or strong they are, these diseases can kill them or weaken them for the rest of their life.

Second, you will enjoy watching these kittens as they get old enough to play with each other. Kittens are so cute, and you will get to enjoy them at their cutest until they are old enough to be adopted out (which in some areas is at about three months).

Third, if you want to get one or two kittens (or more) this is a great way to get to know their character before making any decision. And if you do keep any, you will have the pleasure of having known them since they were very tiny, which is a lot of fun.

All these are great reasons to host a homeless cat and her kittens if you are a cat lover.

Visit Carol Stack's blog, Cat Lovers Portal

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