Cat Health: August 2008 Archives
I happened to see it come out. He was in the garden outside on his harness and his back was facing me. All I saw was him squatting with his tail up and out of the way and out dropped a red uninflated balloon. It was very funny and shocking at first!
Yes, I know, compared to other topics I've blogged about before, the contents of Neo's poop doesn't seem that important. But when you think about it, a balloon coming out of your cat means at some point he ate it, which I think is very news worthy.
Because of their playful nature, cats can get themselves into some trouble, every cat owner can relate to this. But that makes it even more important to take stock of the things in your house that might be a potential danger.
We had a birthday party here about a month ago and I thought we had rounded up and accounted for every balloon, but I was wrong. There must have been one under the sofa or in some small space that only Neo knows about.
Balloons, string, small toys, elastic bands, thread, long hair are all potential hazards for cats and here's why. Cats have barbed tongues and the barbs are called papillae. Papillae are little curved hooks aligned in such a way to pull things into a cat's mouth. It's a very clever design for cats in the wild, because they need those papillae to bring water into their mouths to drink or to clean off bones and drink blood of their prey.
But in a house, those papillae just pull unwanted things into your cat's body. Balloons, string, small toys, elastic bands, thread, long hair are all things your cat can't spit out.
So take a look at your house from your cat's perspective. Really get down on your knees and look into every crevice and hiding spot and see if there is anything that would be dangerous for your cat if he swallowed it. Even some cat toys are dangerous so be very cautious. I was lucky that the balloon simply came out the other end, but it could have been a lot worse. It could have stuck in his digestive track and caused him to vomit or have a bloody stool.
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I blogged about keeping your cats indoors while you celebrate, and about cats being terrorized by a coyote in Orlando, and also about how outdoor cats die young, but I just wanted to bring it up one more time in light of the fact that several outdoor cats have been shot in Pittsburgh lately.
Even if shooting cats isn't an issue in your neighborhood, you might want to consider keeping your cat indoors. I let Neo out on a harness and long leash whenever I go outside or if I can't go out with him I stay beside an open window so I can see and hear him while he plays outside. He has been on the leash since I brought him home as a kitten and he is used to it. Of course he doesn't like it so when I am outside and he is just lounging in the grass, I take it off of him and let him roll around, but he never roams freely.
There is a lot of construction going on and the last thing I want is for him to fall into a water filled pit that will become someone's basement and drown or not be able to get out so he starves to death while he hears my calls. I shudder to think about it. So besides construction and shooting here are 7 more reasons to keep your cat indoors:
1. Car accidents - I do not want Neo becoming road kill. Cars are big, fast and usually driven by people who are in a rush or not paying attention. They may be upset if they hit your cat, but they aren't going to care about your cat the way you do.
2. Cats are prey for larger animals like Coyotes and wolves and foxes. Most urban cats don't have to worry about these larger animals, or do they? In Orlando, that's what they used to think until a coyote cleaned out the cat population in their urban community.
3. Cats get lost or carried away. My childhood cat, Jungle cat, fell asleep in the neighbor's car while they were packing it up for a road trip, when they got to their destination they heard him meowing. They were kind enough to drive him all the way back and then start their road trip again. But not everyone will do that. Trust me, these are particularly nice people. Most people will let the cat go to find his way home. The best you can hope for is they take care of the cat and bring him home with them. But you can't depend on that. Or your cat could wander off, get chased into unfamiliar territory, picked up by animal control and destroyed, all before you are even aware he was gone!
4. Cats kill millions of birds every year and the sad part is, they don't always kill the birds they just maim them and they certainly don't eat them. So the bird is left to die a slow painful death. If the bird happens to have a nest full of eggs, they die too.
5. Toxins - antifreeze, fertilizers, pesticides and even some plants are poisonous to cats. The allure is that all things things taste good to cats, so they eat or drink it and then come home. You don't know what they've been eating so you go to bed or go to work thinking everything is fine, but suddenly, your cat is lethargic, vomiting, or dead. Not exactly what cat owners want.
6. Infectious diseases such as panleukopenia and rabies. Both diseases cause irreparable damage to your cat, vaccines help, but still it is always best to limit your cat's exposure to such dangerous diseases.
Bonus reason: Injury. There are other cats they can get into a fight with and get seriously hurt. A cat I knew had to have her tail amputated because of a bite that got infected.
Just think about it, your cat may not like it, but he'll certainly be safer indoors with only brief stints outside.
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