Cat Allergies?

As Seen in PetMD

That sneezing, wheezing, congested, itchy eye, must-escape-this-room-because-I-can’t-breathe-around-this-cat feeling can ruin even the best of days—especially if you are a cat lover.  

But now, you might be able to avoid the allergies altogether, instead of avoiding the furry feline.

You read that right. There have been some very promising scientific breakthroughs that can help alleviate the symptoms of cat allergies altogether. Breathing comfortably without red, itchy eyes could become the norm for allergy sufferers.

And we aren’t talking about allergy shots or desensitization therapy, either.

These new treatments for cat allergies aren’t for you—they’re actually administered to your cat. The goal is to help make them less likely to incite an inflammatory process in you.

Here’s everything you need to know about the potential new cat allergy treatments.

Am I Allergic to Cat Hair?

To help you understand how these new treatments would work, let me quickly break down cat allergies.

If you are amongst the 1 in 5 people worldwide who suffer a range of allergic symptoms when you’re near a cat—or even near someone who has a cat—your allergies are actually NOT caused by the animal’s fur.

This is why a short-haired cat likely invokes the same allergic response as a long-haired Persian cat.

The culprit behind your sneezing and wheezing and puffy eyes is a protein in a cat’s saliva and sebaceous glands (hair follicle glands that produce sebum, an oily secretion that waterproofs their coat and maintains skin health). That glycoprotein is called “Fel d1.”

When cats groom themselves, some hairs break loose and become airborne. The offending protein in the saliva—that Fel d1 allergen—is carried on the hairs, so they become distribution vehicles for the potent allergen that’s causing your inflammatory response.

Recent Studies for Cat Allergy Cures

For the first time ever, science is offering hope to cat-allergy sufferers everywhere. In just a few years, your options may extend beyond HEPA filters, asthma inhalers, allergy medications and avoidance.

Two studies have discovered different ways to tackle the problem at its root. The idea is to neutralize the feline allergen itself instead of trying to minimize a person’s allergic response.

HypoPet AG Vaccine Study

Scientists at a pharmaceutical company in Switzerland have announced the development of a conjugate vaccine called HypoCat (hypoallergenic cat) that binds to and neutralizes the major cat allergen, Fel d1.

According to the studies recently performed, cats who received the HypoCat vaccine according to the protocol did indeed have lower levels of Fel d1 in the blood.

Although it is somewhat more subjective, the allergic humans involved in the study did show less allergic symptoms around the vaccinated cat compared to unvaccinated cats.

Due to the encouraging results, the Swiss company is moving ahead with registration studies and discussions to bring the vaccine to market in the US and Europe.

HypoPet is hoping to have their HypoCat vaccine on the market in 2022, and they also have a HypoDog vaccine in the pipeline too.

Purina Institute Cat Allergen Diet Study

The Swiss scientists aren’t the only ones to bring a cat de-allergenator to market: Purina Pro Plan LiveClear cat foods.

Purina has taken a different approach to tackling the Fel d1 protein. They are working to neutralize the allergen through a cat’s diet.

The company recently published a study explaining how an egg product ingredient can be introduced to a cat’s diet to help neutralize the major cat allergen, Fel d1.

The concept is similar to the vaccine, with the goal being to decrease levels of active Fel d1 found in cat saliva.

While Purina’s study did not yet incorporate humans’ allergic response rates, an encouraging 86% of cats saw at least a 30% reduction from the baseline Fel d1 levels.

What This Means for Pet Parents With Cat Allergies

The reality is that many people go through extreme efforts to “manage” allergies to keep their beloved feline in their home. While a number of those people are successful, a number are forced to re-home a cat if someone new to the household has an intolerable allergy.

These two studies and potential new products offer a glimpse of hope for cat-allergy sufferers.

As this research is still ongoing, I would anticipate the efficacy of this product only to improve.

Fighting the problem at the source, instead of alleviating the symptoms—it’s so brilliant, and yet so simple. It’s one of those times that I find myself wondering, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

By: Laci Schaible, DVM

Does my Cat love me?

As seen in PetMD

It’s a common misconception that our feline friends are not affectionate creatures. Yes, it’s true that earning the love of a cat is not always easy, but when a cat begins to show trust and adoration for you, there’s often no better feeling of accomplishment.

Their furry counterparts, dogs, are much more open with their love through licking, wagging tails, constant and sometimes overbearing attention, and obvious “come play with me” body language.

Cats are much more subtle in showing their love, though that does not mean that the shared bond between cats and humans is any less than with dogs. It just means that you’ll need to work harder to understand your cat’s love language and boundaries in order to build trust.

12 Signs Your Cat Loves You

Body language is most important when understanding how a cat shows love. Here are some common signs that your cat loves you:

1. Slow Blinking

Eyes are said to be the windows to the soul. With some animal species, eye contact should be avoided, as it can be interpreted as being aggressive.

Cats, on the other hand, use eye contact with their people to show adoration, and often only directly look into the eyes of those that they trust and love.

They often will make eye contact with lowered eyelids and steady, slow blinks. This is considered a feline version of a kiss, and you can even try slow blinking to show love back to cats.

2. Headbutting

Your cat may bump their head against you or rub their cheeks against you to show affection. This is a social behavior that is formed in kittenhood through headbutting other kittens and their mother.

It is often an attempt to mark you with their scent to claim you as one of their own. It helps cats bond together and is offered to their humans to show love.

3. Grooming

Cats groom each other as a display of affection, and this behavior will extend to humans when trust is built. Cats will often lick their people or allow them to brush them.

Licking is similar to the grooming they would perform on their feline friends and allows for marking of each other. Grooming builds a bond between cat and human. Just be certain to watch for fast tail swishing and listen for any growling or hissing, because grooming, especially with brushing, can be overstimulating if it’s forceful or goes on for too long.

4. Kneading

Cats usually knead with their front paws. This is a behavior that begins in kittenhood and is associated with nursing on their mother. Kneading is believed to bring comfort and perhaps endorphins to the brain after nursing has ceased.

Relaxed cats that knead are showing contentment. They will often knead when you gently pet or stroke them. Sometimes cats knead to create a softer sleeping spot, which is considered an innate behavior.

5. Showing Their Belly

This is often considered the ultimate sign of trust for a cat. Cats only lie on their backs and show their bellies when they are in their most relaxed state.

This is not an invitation to pet or rub your cat’s belly, though! They are simply communicating that they feel comfortable and safe enough to reveal one of the most vulnerable parts of their body. If you go in for the belly rub, be careful, as your cat might retaliate with a bite or scratch.

6. Meowing

Cats will often give us short, quiet meows when we speak slowly and softly to them and they feel comfortable. If the meows get longer and drawn out or turn to hisses, then that is a sign that your kitty has had enough interaction.

7. Purring

Cats often purr to show contentment when they are resting near you or when you’re petting them. They may also purr when they’re nervous, but this is often paired with different body language such as laying their ears back, putting their head down, fast tail-swishing, or hiding.

8. Greeting You at the Door

Your cat is trying to show you that they missed you when they greet you at the door. This is often followed by walking in-between your legs and curling their tail around your legs. Sometimes it’s also accompanied by meowing and “rattle-tail” behavior, where your cat will shake their tail quickly.

This is your cat’s way of welcoming you home. They may also be telling you something more important, like they’re ready to eat, they need fresh water, or their litter box needs to be cleaned, so be sure to check these things.

9. Following You

Cats will often follow those that they love and trust around the home, or even outdoors if your kitty is an outdoor cat. It is similar to the greeting at your front door, where they follow behind you and keep you in sight at all times. They may also weave around your legs.

10. Tail Language

Cats often use their tails to express adoration for their owners. A content cat will often hold their tail in an upright position with a “C-shape” or hook at the very top. They may slowly wag their tail back and forth and allow it to touch you when they are lying next to you. Sometimes they will even rattle their tail while walking when they are very happy to see you.

11. Bringing You Presents

Cats are hunters at heart. A cat that is allowed outdoors will continue this hunting behavior by killing rodents and birds and bringing the remains back to their humans as a “gift.”

Though this may turn your stomach, it truly is a sign of love and pride. Your cat wants to reward you for your love. Indoor cats will often do this with toys or objects since they do not have the option to hunt live game.

12. Sleeping Near You

A cat who chooses to sleep on or close to you is showing their love and trust in you. Even if they choose to lie just out of reach for petting, this means that they feel safe and trust that you will protect them, or they will protect you if danger appears.

Cats show love in many ways. Their body language, behaviors, and vocalizations often tell us a lot about their level of trust and adoration. Acknowledging and understanding these behaviors can help build a strong, loving bond with your cat. A cat’s love is not always easy to gain, but once trust is built, there is no better relationship.

SHOULD YOU HUG YOUR CAT?

As seen in  PetMD

You’ve probably seen cats being hugged, kissed, and carried, and still looking totally content with life. And then there’s the opposite scenario—a kitty that doesn’t hesitate to take a swipe at you if you just try to pet them or walk by them too closely.

With the big difference in personalities, it’s hard to know if a particular cat likes being hugged. Do some just tolerate it? Do some actually like being hugged? Should you hug your cat?

Do Cats Like Hugs?

The truth is, many cats HATE to be hugged. They don’t like being held against their will, and especially not in a firm fashion.

If you’ve witnessed the average cat being hugged, you’ve probably seen squirming, meowing, panting, and eventually, claws. Don’t take it personally—most cats view hugging as a form of human-induced torture, pleasurable to the human part of the equation only.

However, some cats do seem to enjoy it. So what is the difference here? There are a lot of factors that help determine whether cats love or hate hugging. Here are a few.

Learning to Like Hugs in Kittenhood

Some cats may get used to being hugged in kittenhood. If you have a very young kitten and they grow up being hugged, they are more likely to enjoy (or at least tolerate!) hugging than, for example, an adult feral cat that you bring into your home. 

Easygoing Cat Breeds

Some cat breeds are said to be more mellow than the average cat, including the RagdollScottish Fold, and Sphynx.

These breeds lean more toward the easygoing side, so they are more likely to enjoy handling or hugging. That said, cats are still individuals, and you may well find that your Ragdoll cat hates hugging every bit as much as your Domestic Longhaired cat.

On the whole, however, adopting a sweet and mellow kitty from your local shelter and spending time with them on a daily basis is just as likely to yield affectionate results.

How You Hug Your Cat

How you approach your kitty may influence the response you get, too. If you swoop in like a giant predator, catch them off guard, and hoist them to the ceiling, that probably isn’t going to go over well. However, if you work up to it slowly, starting with some face scratches, then body rubs, your cat may let you hug them, too.

How Can You Tell If Your Cat Likes Hugs?

Cats are the masters of subtlety, unless they don’t like something. You will likely know quite quickly whether your cat is a fan of hugs just by observing their body language. Cats that enjoy hugs lean into them. They will often purrheadbutt you, and sometimes even drool.

On the other hand, cats that don’t like hugs try to flee, push you away, and give you signals that they are annoyed. They may lay their ears back, swish their tail, and even growl. Some cats will actually “freeze,” leading you to think that they don’t mind being hugged, but if you look at them closely, they may have dilated eyes and a stressed expression.

A safe general rule is to immediately let go of any cat that struggles or acts like they don’t want to be held, cuddled, or hugged—and be prepared to beg for forgiveness.

There are other ways to share affection with your cat, such as gentle scratches, grooming them with a cat brush, and giving them treats. The best bet is to find out what your kitty enjoys so the bonding time is pleasant for both of you.

Do My Cat’s Gums Look Normal? Here’s How to Tell

By PetWellbeing

When your cat yawns, you might get a brief glimpse at what’s going on in their mouth. After taking a peek, cat owners often ask themselves, “Are my cat’s gums normal?”

The eyes might be the window to the soul, but the gums are the window to your cat’s oral health. Cats are masters at hiding illness, so inspecting the gums is a good place to start—if they let you!

If your cat is okay with it, check their gums on a regular basis to detect potential health concerns.

Traits of healthy cat gums

Gums with the following characteristics indicate your kitty is in good health.

  • Pink color: Healthy cat gums are light pink in color. The ideal shade of pink is one that’s neither too bright nor too pale. Some cats, particularly black and orange ones, naturally have black or spotted gums. This is normal as long as the gums have been black their whole life. Double check with a vet to make sure black is a normal color for your cat’s gums.
  • Slippery and wet: When you run a finger along your cat’s gums, they should feel slippery and coated in saliva. This is a good indicator that your kitty is well hydrated.
  • Smooth texture: Healthy cat gums should feel smooth, not bumpy. Some cats develop black or brown spots that look like freckles as they get older. Pigmentation is a normal part of the aging process for some senior kitties so long as the gums still have a smooth texture.

Unhealthy gums and their diseases

Schedule a trip to the vet if you notice any of these abnormal characteristics.

  • Red or bright pink gums: Redness indicates the presence of gingivitis when it appears around teeth or along the gum line. Gingivitis can progress to periodontal disease, in which case the entire gum line will look either red or bright pink. Gums that suddenly change to these colors could mean your cat is experiencing heat stroke. Heat stroke can quickly turn fatal and requires an immediate trip to the vet.
  • Gums growing over teeth: Pet parents should be concerned if their cat’s teeth look like they’re sinking below the gum line. This is a clear sign of a dental disease called tooth resorption. Tooth resorption occurs when a tooth slowly deteriorates and gets absorbed back into the jaw bone. It’s a long, painful process that most older cats experience at some point in their life.
  • Dry or tacky gums: Your cat’s gums shouldn’t feel sticky or dry to the touch. If that’s the case, your cat might be severely dehydrated. This symptom sometimes appears along with the redness associated with heat stroke. Encourage your kitty to drink lots of water right away. If the gum’s moisture doesn’t return to normal, you’ll need to visit an emergency clinic, where vets can rehydrate your cat.
  • Blue, purple or gray gums: All of these colors are cause for immediate concern. Gums that have paled into a blue, purple or gray hue indicate your cat isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could be due to pneumonia or a blockage in the wind pipe. Don’t wait a second longer—these colors require immediate medical attention!
  • White or pale pink gums: While blue indicates a lack of oxygen, white or pale pink gums mean your kitty has poor blood circulation. It’s possible their body isn’t producing enough red blood cells, but these colors could also be a warning sign for internal bleeding. Most cats who recently sustained an injury will exhibit white or pale pink gums. Check with your vet for a proper diagnosis.
  • Bumps, craters or lesions: A bumpy gum texture usually indicates that something’s wrong. Cats develop bumps or lesions on their gums for a variety of reasons. In some cases, the bumps are malignant tumors associated with oral cancer. This is especially true if the bumps are quite painful. Gums that are pockmarked with craters or open sores could mean your kitty has a bacterial infection caused by poor dental hygiene. No matter the cause, anything other than a smooth texture warrants a trip to the vet.

If your cat seems off, their gums are the first place to look. A change in color, texture or moisture can speak volumes about your kitty’s health. While unhealthy gums can indicate a problem, pet parents shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what their cats may or may not be experiencing. Abnormal gum characteristics are your cue to visit a vet clinic where the experts can accurately determine the proper next steps.

How to Curb Destructive Cat Scratching Behaviors

Reviewed and updated for accuracy on January 2, 2019 by Katie Grzyb, DVM

As seen in PetMD

Behind every cat behavior there is a reason, and understanding some basic—and natural—cat behaviors may save you a great deal of time and energy when your cat is scratching at your carpets and furniture—and your patience.

But before you start trying to deter your cat’s scratching, it is important to understand why cats scratch and why it’s such an essential part of their overall health and happiness.

Why Do Cats Need to Scratch?

Dr. Leslie Sinn, CPDT-KA, DVM, and founder of Behavior Solutions for Pets, explains it like this, “Scratching is a normal behavior for cats. They do it to physically stretch as well as maintain their claws (in preparation for hunting). Vigorous scratching helps to dislodge old nail covers, expose the new growth underneath, and is also used by cats to mark their territory.” Dr. Sinn adds that it is really only when cats are scratching our furniture do we label it destructive.

Why does this matter? Scratching is a natural and healthy behavior for cats, so you should be redirecting the behavior rather than trying to stop the behavior. Lisa Stemcosky, CCBC, CPDT-KA, SBA, founder of Pawlitically Correct, a behavior modification and training organization, is known for her work in the shelter animal community. She puts it like this, “Cats aren’t intending to be destructive when they are scratching items in the home. Scratching is an instinctive behavior for cats, they have to do it. They scratch for many reasons. They scratch to groom their claws, to mark territory both visibly and with scent, when they are excited, and when they are stressed.”

Cat scratching is imperative in keeping cats healthy and well-balanced, so it is important that we give them the things they need to do it in a productive way. You wouldn’t withhold cat food or water from your cat, so why withhold something else they need to thrive?

Stemcosky explains, “Because scratching is so important to cats, you don’t want to alter the behavior. But, you can teach cats to scratch in the appropriate places. Cats want to scratch in social areas and areas that are important to them.”

Redirecting the Behavior

Stemcosky explains, “First, you’ll want to make the areas that you don’t want them to scratch undesirable. For example, if your cat is scratching your sofa, you can put foil over the area that they are scratching. But you need to add appropriate scratching surfaces in that area for your cat. A study showed that cats prefer a tall, sturdy post covered with sisal. In addition to providing cats with an appropriate scratching substrate, you should reward them for using it, a yummy treat when you see them investigate it or scratch on it.”

Cat scratchers are great for providing your cat with an appropriate place for cat scratching. It may take some experimenting to find a cat scratcher that matches your cat’s scratching style, but here are some suggestions to get started:

  • Does your cat prefer to scratch sides of furniture or your carpets? If she is a side-of-the-couch scratcher, start with a cat scratching post or hanging cat scratcher. If she is a carpet scratcher, try something horizontal like cat scratch boxes to mimic the floor she enjoys so much.
  • Which substrate does your cat prefer? As Stemcosky explained, sisal is a popular choice among the feline community, but there are a variety of other options out there. Try something made of recycled cardboard or carpeting.
  • Once you have chosen a cat scratcher, make sure to place it in the same area where your cat likes to do their scratching. You can also add a little bit of catnip onto the new cat scratcher to entice them over to that option. You want the cat to keep scratching but scratching the appropriate cat-designated furniture.

In understanding this basic instincts of our feline housemates and how to coexist comfortably, we can create a well-balanced home for all.

The Dangers of Deterrents and Declawing

Declawing is the amputation of part of the cat’s toes, and it is illegal in most cities nationwide, with strong support from the animal community. It strips the cat of its natural ability to climb and protect itself and can even cause chronic pain and behavioral changes. In fact, many rescue facilities have a no-declaw clause in their adoption contracts. Before considering this radical procedure, speak with your veterinarian regarding safer options.

Both Dr. Sinn and Stemcosky recommend against using cat deterrent spray. Stemcosky explains, “I never recommend using [deterrents], like canned air or a spray bottle to punish a cat for doing something. It’s better to teach them what you want them to do and where. As for pheromone sprays, the studies are 50-50 on their effectiveness. Using them won’t hurt anything but you may not get the benefits that you were hoping for.”

Dr. Sinn further explains, “The problem with using deterrent sprays is that the cat often associates the spray with the owner becoming worried or scared in the owner’s presence. At best, they learn not to scratch when the owner is around but go right back to it when the owner is absent.” She goes on to say, “Indoor cats need attention and exercise, so spending at least 15 minutes of ‘me’ time with your cat will help—playing, grooming and petting.”

What to Feed a Cat for Weight Gain

by Liz Bales DVM

When veterinarians talk about a cat’s weight, it’s usually focused on feline obesity.

While obesity is a prominent health issue among cats, many cats are also struggling with being underweight. And similar to losing weight, gaining weight gain can also be a tricky issue for cats. It’s not just about changing food portions.

First, you’ll need to find out why your cat is losing weight. Then you can determine a plan of action that includes a diet that will safely help your cat return to a healthy weight.

Create a Plan of Action for Your Cat

Once you and your veterinarian have a plan for treating the underlying disease, you can get to the hard work of weight gain. Your veterinarian will likely have specific suggestions for your cat based on their age and medical needs.

A diet that is customized to your cat’s specific medical condition is likely to result in the best outcome. Your vet will also identify your cat’s ideal weight, and can do regular weigh-ins to make sure that your plan is effective and that your cat does not exceed his/her ideal weight.

For sick cats, returning to a healthy weight is about more than just calories. Diets for specific conditions are customized to have the right macronutrients and micronutrients to provide weight gain while addressing the unique disease-related concerns.

What to Feed a Cat to Help Them Gain Weight

If your cat’s medical problem is under control—parasites are treated or painful teeth are pulled—correcting the calorie deficit may be the only treatment necessary.

Here’s what your veterinarian will look for in a healthy cat food for weight gain.

Find a Type of Food That Fits Your Cat’s Preferences

The most important first step is to find a food that your cat enjoys eating but that doesn’t cause stomach upset. You want a food that fits their dietary requirements but is also highly palatable so they will want to eat it.

It’s not unusual for a cat to have a strong preference for a specific flavor, type (canned/dry) or even texture of food. The same goes for a cat being repulsed by one or more of these factors.

Navigating your cat’s preferences is the first, and most important, step of getting your cat to eat well.

Make Sure the Food Fits Their Nutritional Needs

Cats are obligate carnivores. This means that cats need to get the essential nutrients for their health from animal products.

The natural prey for cats, such as small rodents, are estimated to contain around 55% protein, 45% fat and 1–2% carbohydrate on a dry matter basis.

Although the macronutrient breakdown of prey is only 1-2% carbohydrate, most cats can use up to 40% of their diet in the form of carbohydrates as a good source of energy.

In general, dry food contains more carbohydrates than wet food.

Cat Food Options for Weight Gain

Good quality kitten food is an excellent choice for weight gain in healthy cats. And most cats enjoy eating kitten food.

Royal Canin Feline Health nutrition dry cat food for young kittens is nutrient- and calorie-dense and tends to be highly palatable to most cats.

Your veterinarian can also prescribe high-calorie cat foods like Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Recovery RS canned cat food or Hill’s Prescription Diet a/d Urgent Care canned cat food.

These formulations are highly digestible and provide the extra calories your cat needs to gain weight.

Calculate How Much to Feed Your Cat

Once you have found a food that fits your cat’s needs and also gets them excited about mealtime, it’s time to work out the right portion sizes.

Math is our friend here. In general, for gradual and healthy weight gain, it’s best to assess your cat’s resting metabolic needs and then to feed this amount of calories plus 20% more.

Your vet can help you translate this into the correct amount of the food to feed.

Tips for Helping a Cat Gain Weight

Addressing the underlying health issues, selecting the right food and figuring out how much to feed are vital for success.

But that’s just the starting point. Once you have that sorted, you will need to establish a feeding routine.

Here are a few tips for getting your cat to eat reliably and gain weight safely.

Feed Small, Frequent Meals

A cat’s stomach is only about the size of a ping-pong ball. So it’s normal that your cat won’t eat a lot all at once.

Whether your cat prefers wet food, dry food or both, try feeding one tablespoon of food every few hours.

These small, regular meals are better tolerated than large meals and can reduce the risk of vomiting after a meal.

Try Warming Up Your Cat’s Wet Food

Cats are stimulated to eat by the smell of their food. Warming up wet food can help make the food more aromatic and enticing to your cat.

To heat your cat’s food, put their food in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave it for a few seconds.

The optimal temperature for most cats is at, or near, their body temperature—38.5°C (101.5°F).

Offer the Right Snacks Between Meals

Healthy snacks between meals can aid in putting weight on your cat.

Try tempting your cat with a few high-protein, simple bites of freeze-dried chicken, like PureBites chicken breast freeze-dried raw cat treats, between each meal.

Decrease Your Cat’s Anxiety

A calm cat is a happy cat, and happy cats are more likely to have a good appetite.

Cats are solitary hunters and solitary eaters. That means that they prefer to eat their meals without being bothered.

When your cat has been unwell, it’s normal to want to hover over them. But your cat will likely eat better if you give them some space.

Talk to Your Vet About Appetite-Stimulating Medicine

There are a few medicines available from your veterinarian that can help stimulate your cat’s appetite.

An hour or so after talking the medicine, your cat will feel the urge to eat. You can even ask if your vet can get the medicine in a transdermal form (patch or gel for the skin or gums), so that you can avoid having to give a pill.

Causes of Bad Odors in Cats

By Jennifer Coates, DVM

When you think of smelly pets, cats aren’t the first species that come to mind. Cleanliness is one of their biggest draws, after all. So, if you start to detect a bad odor emanating from your cat, you need to take notice. In most cases, foul feline smells are a sign that something is seriously wrong.

The best way for pet parents to start to determine what could be making their cats smell bad is to focus on the exact nature of the odor and where on the body it’s coming from.

Mouth Odor

A healthy feline mouth doesn’t stink, but a lot can go wrong to change that. Dental disease is the most common cause of unpleasant cat odors. Plaque and tartar accumulating on the teeth, gums becoming inflamed and separating from their underlying structures, and loose teeth all provide the perfect environment for bad breath. Food lodges in abnormal gum pockets and rots there, and bacterial infections that produce foul odors can proliferate in the unhealthy environment. Bad smells may also develop as a result of foreign material getting lodged in the mouth, trauma to oral tissues, and oral tumors.

Sometimes systemic diseases will cause abnormal smelling breath. Most notably, kidney disease can lead to a urine or ammonia-like odor coming from the mouth. Diabetes mellitus may produce a sweet or “fruity” smell or, when a cat’s condition has worsened, an odor similar to nail polish. Cats with severe liver disease or an intestinal blockage may have breath that smells like feces.

Skin Odor

The skin is another relatively common source of bad odors in cats. Skin infections often develop as a result of other, underlying health problems such as wounds, allergies, parasites, cancer, immune disorders… basically anything that disrupts the skin’s normal protective mechanisms.

Bacterial infections usually have a putrid odor, but depending on the type of organism involved you may even notice a sweet smell. Yeast infections are typically described as smelling “musty.”

If your cat develops an abscess, oftentimes due to bite wound from another cat, and that abscess ruptures, you’ll probably notice a very foul odor associated with the pus as it drains.

Regular self-grooming is one of the reasons that cats tend to have little odor associated with their skin. When cats are sick or aren’t flexible because of arthritis or obesity, they can’t groom themselves well and may develop a greasy, unkempt coat that has a slightly “funky” odor.

Ear Odor

Most feline ear infections also have odors associated with them. Musty smelling yeast infections sometimes develop when a cat has an allergy or other condition that alters the environment within the ear in a way that promotes the growth of yeast.

Bacterial infections can have a no obvious underling cause or be related to allergies, polyps, tumors, foreign bodies, etc., and they tend to smell fetid or somewhat sweet, depending on the specific type of bacteria involved.

When cats have an ear mite infestation, their ears typically contain a dark material that looks a little bit like coffee grounds, which may have a foul odor associated with it. 

Rear End Odor

Healthy cats are such fastidious self-groomers that you rarely catch a whiff of urine or feces emanating from their back ends… unless they’ve just emerged from the cat litter box. But when cats can’t groom themselves normally, typically because of arthritisobesity, or systemic illness, that might change.

Cats, particularly long-haired cats, with diarrhea can accumulate fecal material in the fur around their hind end, and a urinary tract infection might be to blame if you become aware of an unusually strong smell of urine from the rear end of your cat.

Cats have two anal glands, one on either side of the anus, that produce a musky or fishy smelling material. Under normal circumstances, pet parents are barely aware that these glands exist, but if your cat becomes scared or excited, he or she may release their contents. The smell can be truly overwhelming but as long as it only happens intermittently, it is usually normal.

Infections, tumors, and other conditions that affect the anal glands’ functioning can result in more persistent odors.

Getting Rid of Bad Smells in Cats

Of course, cats will sometimes smell for perfectly obvious and relatively commonplace reasons, like after eating a can of super stinky cat food or wandering outside and investigating the garbage, but unless you can easily identify a benign source of your cat’s odor, make an appointment with your veterinarian. The doctor will start with a complete health history and a physical examination (including a close look at your cat’s mouth, skin, ears, and hind end) and then should be able to tell you where the smell is coming from and what needs to be done next to diagnose and treat it.

What Do Cats Recognize and Respond To?

As a veterinarian who has listened to my clients’ perspectives over the past 30 years and a person who has been “owned by cats” since I was 17 years old, I definitely have my thoughts on the answer—and it seems to be very selective.

An interesting article from 2013 affirms that cats do recognize human voices and respond primarily by ear and head movements. They further found that using harmonics and broad pitch were more effective in eliciting that response. They concluded that cats recognize their owners voice specifically by using the voices of three strangers followed by the owner and then another stranger.

Another interesting study from 2017 discussed how we talk to our pets compared to babies using high-pitched voice, simple content and harmonics. The study used “kitten directed speech” that was simple, higher pitched and musical or harmonic. They found that a cat’s hearing range had a wide scale and pitch and that cats may be attentive to human utterances with more variation.

Teaching a Cat to Respond to Voice Commands

One of the strongest variables I see in how responsive cats are to their owner’s voice is whether they are hungry or not. It is well-known among animal trainers that food is a powerful motivator to respond to verbal or audible cues. Common sense says that food, coupled with the owner’s voice, should result in a response at least some of the time.

If you think about cats only really having only two modes, predator or prey, their responses are typically in line with those modes, to seek food or hide. If we can erase any fear of us, the owner, and use food as a reward, they should come to us for food using an audible cue—or even a clicker.

Training a cat to respond to a verbal cue, such as their name, from a young age is very important. Because kittens have a very early human association period that can begin at 17 days old, it is important that kittens are handled and get used to human voice and touch to make sure there is absolutely no fear and they associate us with attention, love and food.

By starting as a kitten, using a harmonic pitch and variation, and possibly a multi-syllable name in association with food rewards, we should get a better response from our beloved felines (which could be anything from an ear twitch to running to us). As cat lovers we know, we simply need to accept graciously whatever they choose to do!

Now, Diane, as an animal communicator, has found that many cats do indeed respond to their names when called.  Her own cat Milo came to her when he was called and when she talked to one client, the cat told her that his owner comes home at night  from work and yells LEEEEOOOOO  when she wants him. (obviously his name is Leo).  It was so cute they way he imitated his owner.

Do cats know their names or recognize our voice in some other way? Although we’ve spent over 10,000 years sharing our time with cats, there’s very little research to determine the answer to this question.

Fortunately, things do seem to be changing a bit as we share even more time and experiences with our favorite felines, and there are a few interesting recent research pieces that says there is evidence that cats may indeed know their names.

By: Ken Lambrecht, DVM comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Spoil Your Senior Pet with These Fun and Frugal Ideas

Spoil Your Senior Pet with These Fun and Frugal Ideas

by Cindy Aldridge

 

Seeing your pet age may not be easy, but you can still show your furry friend that you care with some special pampering. Older pets can still enjoy love, attention, and bonding with their humans. But there are other ways to treat your favorite friend without going beyond your budget. To ensure your senior pet is especially spoiled, try these frugal yet fun ideas.

Host a Senior Pet Spa Day

Grooming sessions at the puppy salon can add up quickly. A budget-friendly fix is to bring the doggie spa home instead. Everything from bathing and brushing to hair and nail trimming can happen at home.

Make sure to keep the right supplies on hand — like pup-friendly shampoo and conditioner, a waterproof collar for security, and treats for afterward. Investing in a pet-specific comb and some extra towels can help, too.

Not only is the DIY spa method cheaper for you, but it may also be less stressful for your senior pup. Older pets with vision, hearing, or mobility challenges may feel scared at the groomer’s, so staying home means more security and more fun in the bath.

Invest in Must-Haves for Aging Pets

When it comes to making your pet comfortable, you may want to spend whatever it takes. But with a narrow budget, you’ll need to make each purchase count.

Items like a soothing heated bed, raised food dishes, snacks to hide medications in, and older-pet food blends are practically necessities for your pet’s comfort and overall health. Fortunately, you can find a Chewy promo code to help make these must-haves more affordable.

Some senior pet products do lend themselves to DIY, such as steps to make your dog’s climb into bed easier, or you might make a simple ramp to help your aging pet navigate stairs more safely. Think about the biggest challenge to your pet’s mobility and brainstorm ways to make daily living easier.

Bake Special (Nutritious) Snacks

Store-bought snacks can be an excellent treat on occasion. But since many older pets have unique dietary needs, making critter snacks at home could become a regular routine in your household. From minty snacks that help freshen your pet’s breath to pumpkin-flavored bites, there are all types of treats you can bake at home.

Since you’re controlling the oven and ingredients, you can also make softer treats that are gentler on senior teeth — not to mention, kinder on the budget. Once you find the perfect recipe, baking could become both you and your senior pet’s new favorite hobby.

Make Tasty Diet Tweaks

Senior dogs have unique nutritional requirements, says the AKC, including a need for more protein, less sodium, and possibly even more fat. Each pet is different, but older animals, in general, do well with diets rich in L-carnitine, which is present in red meat, chicken, fish, and dairy.

Though you can purchase affordable supplements for your older pet, changing up their diet to feature tasty staples is also a great and more cost-effective idea. Many of the foods that are healthy for humans are great for animals, too. Foods like peas, carrots, sweet potatoes, and bananas are all great snacks to offer your senior pet, notes Whole Dog Journal. Bonus points if the tidbits come from your plate — everyone knows pets love to be treated like one of the family.

Even if they’re slowing down a bit, senior pets love pampering and special treats just as much as younger animals. With these frugal ideas, you don’t have to shell out a ton of cash to keep your pet comfortable and cared for. Need more ideas on showing your furry friend some TLC?

Laser pointers and Cats!

By Jennifer Coates, DVM

We’ve all done it … flashed a laser pointer across the floor (and up the wall and onto the ceiling) to see at what lengths our cats will go to catch that little dot of light. But why are cats so obsessed with laser pointers? Let’s look at the science involved to find out why cats love laser pointers and whether or not they’re actually an appropriate toy for our feline friends.
How Cats’ Eyes Differ from Ours
The retina is the structure at the back of the eye that converts light energy into nerve impulses that are sent to the brain to be turned into images of our world. Two types of retinal cells – cones and rods – are found in both human and feline retinas. Broadly speaking, cones are involved with color vision and the ability to focus on and appreciate fine detail while rods are responsible for vision under low light conditions and for the detection of movement.
Humans have more cones than cats do, while cats have more rods than humans do. Therefore, cat eyes are great at picking up movement, even if it is quite dark, but they don’t see details or colors very well. The opposite is true for us (for a neat comparison, check out All Eyes on Paris). In other words, the feline retina (and other parts of the eye as well) is perfectly designed to maximize the chances of catching quickly moving prey at dusk and dawn when cats most like to hunt.
What does this mean with regards to cats and laser pointers? First of all, because of their relatively poor color vision, the color of the laser pointer shouldn’t matter to your cat. This is particularly true since the contrast of the bright laser against the comparatively dark background is so intense.
Stimulating a Predatory Response
Though the color of the laser pointer doesn’t matter, what is alluring to your cat is the way that you make that bright dot of light move. When it darts here, then pauses, and then dashes over there, you are mimicking the actions of prey animals, which cats find hard to ignore. This type of movement stimulates the predatory sequence – stalk, pounce, kill and eat – that is hardwired into our cats even though their survival no longer depends on a successful hunt.
Did you notice that laser pointers only satisfy the first two steps in the predatory sequence – stalk and pounce – while leaving the desire to kill and eat unfulfilled? For some cats, this isn’t a problem. They’ll happily chase that little dot of light around for a while and then walk away unperturbed, but other cats seem to get agitated after taking the laser pointer on for a round or two. The inability to ever truly be successful is probably why.
If you are worried that your cat is frustrated by chasing a laser pointer, try switching to a different type of game that allows your cat act out more of the predatory sequence. Kitty fishing poles that that let you flick a stuffed mouse or feathers across the floor, into the air and onto the couch will provide your cat with the opportunity to stalk, pounce and eventually kill (or at least bite and claw) their “prey.” Toss out a few treats at the end of the game or give your cat a food dispensing ball to chase around for a while, and playtime should end on a satisfying note for everyone.

We’ve all done it … flashed a laser pointer across the floor (and up the wall and onto the ceiling) to see at what lengths our cats will go to catch that little dot of light. But why are cats so obsessed with laser pointers? Let’s look at the science involved to find out why cats love laser pointers and whether or not they’re actually an appropriate toy for our feline friends.
How Cats’ Eyes Differ from Ours
The retina is the structure at the back of the eye that converts light energy into nerve impulses that are sent to the brain to be turned into images of our world. Two types of retinal cells – cones and rods – are found in both human and feline retinas. Broadly speaking, cones are involved with color vision and the ability to focus on and appreciate fine detail while rods are responsible for vision under low light conditions and for the detection of movement.
Humans have more cones than cats do, while cats have more rods than humans do. Therefore, cat eyes are great at picking up movement, even if it is quite dark, but they don’t see details or colors very well. The opposite is true for us (for a neat comparison, check out All Eyes on Paris). In other words, the feline retina (and other parts of the eye as well) is perfectly designed to maximize the chances of catching quickly moving prey at dusk and dawn when cats most like to hunt.
What does this mean with regards to cats and laser pointers? First of all, because of their relatively poor color vision, the color of the laser pointer shouldn’t matter to your cat. This is particularly true since the contrast of the bright laser against the comparatively dark background is so intense.
Stimulating a Predatory Response
Though the color of the laser pointer doesn’t matter, what is alluring to your cat is the way that you make that bright dot of light move. When it darts here, then pauses, and then dashes over there, you are mimicking the actions of prey animals, which cats find hard to ignore. This type of movement stimulates the predatory sequence – stalk, pounce, kill and eat – that is hardwired into our cats even though their survival no longer depends on a successful hunt.
Did you notice that laser pointers only satisfy the first two steps in the predatory sequence – stalk and pounce – while leaving the desire to kill and eat unfulfilled? For some cats, this isn’t a problem. They’ll happily chase that little dot of light around for a while and then walk away unperturbed, but other cats seem to get agitated after taking the laser pointer on for a round or two. The inability to ever truly be successful is probably why.
If you are worried that your cat is frustrated by chasing a laser pointer, try switching to a different type of game that allows your cat act out more of the predatory sequence. Kitty fishing poles that that let you flick a stuffed mouse or feathers across the floor, into the air and onto the couch will provide your cat with the opportunity to stalk, pounce and eventually kill (or at least bite and claw) their “prey.” Toss out a few treats at the end of the game or give your cat a food dispensing ball to chase around for a while, and playtime should end on a satisfying note for everyone.