Environmental toxins in the home — how to help your cat breathe easier

By  Nancy Scanlan, DVM, CVA as seen in Animal Wellness

Our homes contain a range of environmental toxins that can affect your cat’s respiratory system. Here are the most common culprits, and what you can do to help your kitty breathe easier.

Does your cat sneeze a lot? Have you noticed irritated or runny eyes? Perhaps some coughing? Or worse, has she developed chronic bronchitis or asthma? These symptoms may have several causes, one of which could be a sensitivity to environmental toxins in the home. Such sensitivities can appear in cats of any age. This article looks at the most common culprits when it comes
to these toxins, and what you can do to help alleviate your cat’s suffering.

MANMADE CHEMICALS ABOUND

The number of environmental toxins present in our homes has increased steadily since the 1970s. From fire retardants to air fresheners, these chemicals were all originally created to makes our lives easier, safer, or more pleasant. But for some individuals, including our feline companions, they can make life more difficult. Exposure to the chemicals used in fabrics and materials for curtains, rugs, furniture and other household items has resulted in a variety of health problems in both humans and animals. The greater the number, variety, and concentration of manmade chemicals in a household, the greater the chances that your cat (or human family) will suffer from the health effects they can produce.


Food Sensitivities

Although food sensitivities caused by additives in commercial pet foods don’t typically cause respiratory symptoms, they can still contribute to the total chemical burden on your cat’s body. These sensitivities generally cause itchy skin or GI upsets such as vomiting or diarrhea. Switching to a healthier diet is just one more way to help her feel better overall.


HOW TO FIND THE CAUSE OF YOUR CAT’S DISCOMFORT

If your cat develops any of the respiratory symptoms mentioned above, the first step is to take her to the veterinarian for a checkup. Once other health problems, such as an infectious disease, are ruled out, it’s time to start looking at toxins in your home environment, such as the following:

  • Is anyone smoking or vaping indoors? The effects of second-hand smoke can be as bad for cats as they are for people. This is especially true of vaping, which was initially promoted as a “healthier” alternative to inhaling tobacco smoke. The solution is to stop smoking or vaping inside the house. This single step can make a big different in a cat’s respiratory health.
  • Toxins in the air can also come from the evaporation or “outgassing” of chemicals. Outgassing occurs when chemicals are gradually lost from materials in the home, especially those made from plastics. The result is a weakened product as well as chemicals in the air that you may be unaware of. For example, even if paint looks and feels dry, it can continue to cure or dry further, releasing low levels of toxins. Similarly, commercial floor and furniture waxes contain many compounds that can evaporate and cause sensitivities in your cat.
  • High levels of dust mites in the home are associated with an increased number and duration of asthma attacks in humans, and difficulties in breathing. Dust mites can affect cats as well.

HEPA FILTERS AND OTHER SOLUTIONS

What can you do to minimize the impact of environmental toxins in your home, and improve your cat’s health? A HEPA filter can be very helpful, especially one with a charcoal pre-filter. The charcoal absorbs certain gases that the main filter can’t. Many people notice that they, as well as their animal companions, breathe more freely and have less eye irritation after buying a HEPA filter. As a bonus, a HEPA can also help reduce the negative effects of dust mites.

In addition to purchasing a HEPA filter, start using more natural products such as household cleaners to help everyone — feline and human — breathe better. It’s true that a natural product may require a little more effort to use than chemical household cleaners. For example, when using a beeswax product rather than a chemical furniture polish, you might need to apply more pressure to get a good shine. You might need two products instead of one to clean carpets or drapes, especially if you are just starting to use more natural products. But your cat’s improved well-being (and your own) is worth it!

If your cat suffers from asthma, do not abandon conventional treatment methods. Cats can suffer uncomfortably or even die from a severe asthma attack. As you introduce more natural products into your house, however, you may notice that her attacks are less severe, and don’t happen as often. In fact, with the guidance of your veterinarian, you might even be able to decrease your cat’s medication.

Because our cats are a lot smaller than we are, and often spend more time in the house than we do, they are more likely to develop health problems in response to the many environmental toxins and chemicals found in our homes. If your cat is exhibiting any persistent respiratory symptoms – sneezing, watery eyes, nasal discharge or coughing — have her checked by the vet, and then look for ways to lower her exposure to household toxins by considering a HEPA filter and adopting a more natural lifestyle.

How to Slow Down a Cat Who Is Eating Too Fast

As seen in PetMD

Just about every cat owner has experienced excited meowing, the rubbing against your legs and the pleading stare—let’s face it, cats have a way of getting what they want! Unfortunately, sometimes when they get that worked up for a meal or treat, moments later, we’ll hear the familiar sound that sends us running for the paper towels. And then there’s the cleanup of the snack that now lies on the floor, looking completely undigested. How do we stop this cycle of cats eating too fast?

A Cat That’s Eating Too Fast Might Regurgitate the Meal

The good news is that there are several ways to slow down a cat that’s eating too fast. But first, what triggers the reflex that leads to regurgitation? Kitty eats too quickly—especially dry cat food—which then absorbs water, swells and sends the memo to the brain that the animal has overeaten.

The brain does the logical thing: Too much food in? Let’s get rid of some, and the regurgitation reflex is triggered. This is slightly different from the mechanism involved in cat vomiting, which can be a more concerning symptom. That being said—if your pet regurgitates frequently or shows any additional sign, such as weight loss, a trip to your veterinarian is warranted.

How to Slow Down Your Cat’s Eating

A good first step is to determine what is being regurgitated. If it is always the same brand of cat treats, for example, perhaps a switch to a different brand is in order. If it is always dry food, kitty may do better on canned, which also boasts a large number of health benefits and may be better in the long run.  However, if no diet changes are in the future, it is possible to reduce or stop the bouts of regurgitation.

Try a Nonconventional “Bowl”

The first, and often simplest option, is to not use a typical cat food bowl, but instead spread the portion out on a 9- by 13-inch baking pan. This will space the food out markedly, leaving plenty of gaps between the kibbles or the chunks of canned food. Kitty must then take a bite—move along–take another bite—move along, markedly slowing the process from the typical GULP where half the bowl is eaten! Most of the time, this can slow the process down enough to resolve the problem.

Add an Obstacle

For cats that still eat too fast, however, or for those that do better with more traditional cat bowls, adding nonedible “obstacles” to the bowl can be helpful. This should be something too large for kitty to eat, and maneuverable enough that they can push it around while trying to get at the food below it.

Common items include ping pong and golf balls. If we are adding a second layer to the 9- by 13-inch baking pan strategy, larger balls such as tennis balls can be used. They will not work well for feeders that hold a large amount of food and replenish themselves automatically.

Use Automatic Cat Feeders

There are several types of automatic cat feeders that offer a feeding strategy that might be helpful. Some of these, like the PetSafe Eatwell 5-meal automatic pet feeder, can be set to open on a schedule and feed small meals frequently—which often helps prevent the regurgitation.

However, for many reasons—including weight control and appetite monitoring—the automatic feeders that don’t have portion control are generally not recommended or appropriate for feeding most cats.

Some automatic cat feeders have an ice pack below the bowl, to keep canned food fresh all day long—perfect not only for the “gulpers” in the house but also those kitties who just like being served fresh food multiple times per day (and who doesn’t?).

Try Cat Treat Toys and Slow Feeders

You can try slow cat feeder bowls that are shaped like mazes, making the cat work around the grooves and curves to get the food. You place the food in these slow feeders so that your kitty needs to solve a puzzle to get it, like with the Trixie activity strategy game tunnel feeder cat toy or the Northmate Catch interactive feeder.

Cat treat toys are also appropriate for curbing the gulping behavior. These need to be pushed or batted around into just the right position to release some of the food contained within–like with the Pet Zone IQ treat ball toy or the PetSafe Funkitty Egg-Cersizer cat toy.

These cat interactive toy options have the additional benefit of exercise and mental stimulation on top of providing nutrition—which more accurately simulates how it would be if the cat had to “work” to get its meals as it would in the wild.

Each of these techniques are most effective if kitty is being fed an appropriately portion-restricted amount of food and being fed once or twice per day. So, if you have stepped on yet another pile of regurgitation and swear it will be the last one, never fear. There are a number of options you can choose from, and certainly, one (or more!) will work for both you and your cat! I’m sure your kitty would rather have that favorite meal or snack in her tummy rather than on the floor, as well.

Why Your Cat is Throwing Up and What To Do

As seen in PetMD

In cats, it can be difficult to tell the difference between retching/vomiting, regurgitation, and coughing. These are all very different and come with different possible causes, so it is important to try and differentiate between them.

Vomiting is the active motion of ejecting contents from a cat’s stomach and small intestines out through their mouth. This is different than regurgitation, which is a passive motion where no force is needed to eject contents through the cat’s mouth. You might also mistake these for coughing if you didn’t witness anything coming out.

The best thing to do is to take a video, if possible, to show your veterinarian. They can help you determine whether it really is vomiting, and if so, why your cat is throwing up. Here’s some helpful information on cat vomiting causes and possible treatments.

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up?

Your veterinarian will ask a variety of questions to determine why your cat is vomiting. These include:

  • Have you switched your cat’s diet recently?
  • Have you started any prescribed or over-the-counter medications?
  • What diet, including all treats, is your cat on?
  • Do you have other cats in the house, and if so, are they also vomiting?
  • Is your cat indoor and/or outdoor?
  • How often is your cat vomiting, and what does the vomit look like?
  • Is your cat still eating?
  • Is your cat having other symptoms, such as diarrhea and/or weight loss?
  • How long has your cat been vomiting?

There are several possible causes of cat vomiting, and these questions will help guide your veterinarian in the right direction. Possible reasons why cats throw up can be broken into two categories—gastrointestinal causes and non-gastrointestinal causes.

Gastrointestinal Causes of Cat Vomiting

Non-Gastrointestinal Causes of Cat Vomiting

What Does Your Cat’s Vomit Look Like?

Knowing what your cat’s vomit looks like is very important, as different diseases can cause the vomit to have a more distinct appearance. Here are some examples of vomit color/consistency and possible causes for each.

Bile/Yellow

Cats will vomit bile when they have an empty stomach. This can happen if you are only feeding your cat in the morning and they go 24 hours without food, or it can happen when cats are anorexic. Food stimulates the gall bladder to contract, but when the gall bladder does not contract, the bile can back up into the small intestines and stomach.

Blood

Blood can be seen with ulcerations, or if your cat vomits several times in a row, this can cause an irritation of the stomach lining and esophagus because of the increased acid. Blood can also be present if there is a clotting abnormality, which can be seen with certain diseases and some toxins (rat poisoning, for example).

White Foam

White foam in cat vomit is oftentimes seen because the lining of the stomach and/or small intestines is inflamed from many possible causes.

Water/Clear Liquid

If your cat is vomiting clear liquid, it can be the fluid contents of the stomach, or your cat might have drunk too much water. There are many possible diseases that can cause cats to drink too much water, including diabetes mellitus and kidney disease.

Worms

The most common type of worm seen in cat vomit is roundworms. If your cat vomits a worm, it is important to bring this to your veterinarian so they can treat the issue appropriately.

Food

Cats who eat too much or too fast can vomit food, and it typically it appears in a tubular shape.  They can also vomit food if they become nauseous shortly after eating, if there is a foreign body obstructing the food from moving into the small intestines, or if they have a food allergy.

Hairballs

Cats can occasionally vomit hairballs, especially cats who overgroom or cats with long hair.

Brown Liquid

This is usually indicative of digested blood further down the intestinal tract and can be seen with ulcerations, foreign bodies, or even hairballs in the intestines.

Green Vomit

If your cat is throwing up green vomit, this usually indicates that the food or substance was brought up from the small intestines. The mixture of the vomitus with bile can turn the color green.

Mucus

Mucus is typically seen if your cat is regurgitating and not vomiting. If you see mucus, it is very important to determine if your cat is actually vomiting or if they are regurgitating.

Cat Vomiting With Other Symptoms

Oftentimes when cats do vomit, they have other symptoms, too. Describing all of your cat’s symptoms to your veterinarian will be important in determining the right diagnostics or treatments.

Your cat is vomiting and not eating. 

It is very common for cats to not want to eat if they are nauseous. You can see this with a variety of conditions, including foreign bodies, kidney and liver disease, severe diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, etc.

Your cat is vomiting and constipated.

If your cat hasn’t defecated in a couple of days and is straining to go, they are likely constipated. This can cause a backup of contents in the small intestines and stomach, causing cats to vomit.

Your cat is vomiting and having diarrhea.

This combination of symptoms tells us that there is not only inflammation within the stomach but also within the small and/or large intestines.

Your cat is vomiting and sneezing.

If your cat has acute vomiting and sneezing, they could have contracted a virus (such as coronavirus). It is not uncommon for cats who become sick (vomiting) to also develop an upper respiratory tract infection. This is because a large portion of cats contract certain viruses, such as herpesvirus, as kittens, and can be acting normal until they are immunocompromised.

Your cat is vomiting and drinking a lot.

Cats can vomit after they drink a large amount of water. They can also have disease that cause them to drink a lot and have vomiting, such as kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, and cancer.

Your cat is vomiting and pooping on the floor.

Cats may defecate on the floor if they have constipation or have an increased urgency to go, which can be seen with intestinal inflammation and diarrhea.

Should I Call the Vet if My Cat Throws Up?

You should call your veterinarian right away if:

  • Your cat vomits more than two to three times in a row.
  • Your cat has other symptoms, such as not eating and diarrhea. If your cat is also having diarrhea, it will be difficult to keep them hydrated without seeing your veterinarian.
  • Your cat does not eat or drink for 12 hours and has vomited several times in a row.
  • Your cat has already been diagnosed with an illnesses (such as diabetes, kidney disease, and hyperthyroidism). This is an emergency, and your cat should be seen immediately, as this could mean that their disease is progressing. Early medical intervention is necessary in these patients, as they can become dehydrated very quickly.
  • Your cat has vomited a worm. You need to deworm your cat and any other animals in the household as soon as possible. It is also important to keep the environment clean and scoop the litter boxes several times a day to ensure that your pets do not get reinfected.

Can I Give My Cat Anything at Home for Vomiting?

Unfortunately, there are not many over-the-counter medications that will help cats not vomit. If your cat does start to vomit, do not give them anything by mouth (including water or food) for several hours.

When Can I Feed My Cat Again After They’ve Thrown Up?

After waiting several hours, you can try to give your cat about 25% of what you would normally feed to see if they can keep it down. Then gradually increase the amount over the next 24 hours. If your cat starts vomiting again, you will need to seek veterinary help.

How Vets Treat Cat Vomiting

It’s important to distinguish between acute vomiting and chronic vomiting. Chronic vomiting is defined as a cat who vomits more than once a week or has been vomiting on and off for more than three months. This is much different than a cat who suddenly starts to throw up (acute).

Treating Acute Vomiting in Cats

The first step in properly treating your cat for vomiting is identifying the underlying cause. First, your veterinarian will do noninvasive diagnostics. This includes:

  • A chemistry and CBC (general blood tests) to screen for diseases such as kidney disease and diabetes.
  • A fecal exam to rule out parasites.
  • Abdominal radiographs to rule out larger tumors or foreign bodies that might be causing an obstruction. 

If these tests are normal, and your cat is acutely vomiting, your veterinarian will likely recommend supportive treatments with anti-nausea medications. 

Cats that vomit from hairballs can be placed on a special high-fiber diet along with a medication to help ease the passage of hairballs.

Treating a Cat That Keeps Throwing Up (Chronic Vomiting in Cats)

If your cat continues to vomit or has a history of chronic vomiting, further testing would be indicated as described below:

  • Gastrointestinal panel: This will test the pancreas enzymes to rule out pancreatitis. It will also look at cobalamin and folate to determine if there is evidence of malabsorption in the small intestines.
  • Abdominal ultrasound: This imaging modality is very sensitive at identifying smaller foreign objects that x-rays cannot. This ultrasound looks at the pancreas and helps measure the wall of the gastrointestinal tract. It will also help rule out any enlarged lymph nodes that can sometimes be seen with cancer.
  • Chest x-rays: These may be recommended if it is not clear whether your cat is vomiting, regurgitating, or coughing. Chest x-rays are also recommended in older cats to rule out evidence of cancer.

In some cases, the diagnostics come back normal or do not provide a definitive diagnosis. This can be seen if the disease is at the cellular level of the small intestines. 

In this instance, the next step would be obtaining biopsies of your cat’s gastrointestinal tract to differentiate between inflammatory bowel disease, food hypersensitivity, and gastrointestinal lymphoma. Your veterinarian may try a new diet prior to obtaining biopsies in the event that this is related to a food allergy.

8 Surprising Ways to Say “I Love You” in Cat Language

As seen in PetMD

Reviewed and updated for accuracy on June 15, 2018, by Katie Grzyb, DVM.

Most cat lovers don’t need to be told that a steady supply of cuddles and cat treats will keep their feline friends happy. But what are some methods to show your cat signs of affection that go a little deeper? By learning more about innate cat behavior, you can enhance the bond you share. Here are eight fun ways to show your cat love—in cat language.

1. Gaze Softly Into Your Cat’s Eyes

Did you know that you can show your cat affection simply by looking at her? It just takes some finesse. “When you look at your cat, always use a soft gaze and never a hard stare,” says Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC, and best-selling author of “CatWise.” “In the animal world, a direct stare is viewed as a threat.”

“If you really want to amp up the affection factor,” Johnson-Bennett adds, “offer a slow eye blink as well.” In cat language, blinking slowly signals that you’re relaxed and mean no harm. If your cat feels the love, too, she might blink back. “This is commonly referred to as a cat kiss,” Johnson-Bennett says.

2. Respect Petting Preferences

Has your cat ever come to you for cuddles, only to wriggle out of your arms seconds later? If so, you may need to modify your petting style. “The cat’s body is very sensitive, and when you stroke certain areas, you want to get a positive reaction and not a defensive one,” Johnson-Bennett says. For instance, some cats enjoy a good chin-scratching, but others prefer long strokes from head to toe. “Observe how your cat reacts when you stroke various areas of the body so you’ll know what creates a calm, enjoyable reaction,” says Johnson-Bennett.

And while many cat lovers could probably pet kitties for hours on end, it’s important to know when to stop. “You always want to end the session on a positive note,” Johnson-Bennett says, “so watch for signals that kitty is getting tired of the physical contact.” Learning how your cat communicates with their body can help you figure out when your cat is ready for their petting session to end.

3. Enrich Your Cat’s Environment

Cats spend a lot of time at home, so it’s essential that their environment be a safe and stimulating one. “All the hugging, petting, toys, sweet talk and other forms of affection won’t matter if the cat doesn’t feel safe or is stressed,” says Johnson-Bennett. Make sure your cat feels secure and has convenient access to resources like food, water and a cat litter box. “It doesn’t take much to tweak the environment to be more cat-friendly,” Johnson-Bennett says. “It just takes looking at things from the cat’s point of view.”

There are many more ways to enrich your cat’s environment beyond the basics. Mikel Delgado, a certified applied animal behaviorist and co-founder of Feline Minds, recommends items like cat scratchers, window perches and cat trees, which help cats feel safer and let them watch over their territory. She also can’t overstate the value of a heated bed. “All cats enjoy being warmer than humans like,” she says. “And it’s especially great for older cats who may have some creaky joints.”

4. Nurture Your Cat’s Inner Predator

Cats are natural predators, but those chewed-up mouse toys behind the couch don’t make very challenging prey. “I think one of the best ways to show love for your cat is to engage them with interactive playtime every day,” says Delgado. “Interactive play means you move a toy—such as a feather wand or Cat Dancer toys—like prey, so your cat can let loose as the predator they are built to be.” Not only does this activity nurture innate cat behavior, but it provides a stress-reducing workout, too. “It’s a great way to bond,” Delgado says, “especially when your cat isn’t the cuddly type.”

5. Use Food Puzzle Toys

You probably wouldn’t want to have to solve a puzzle cube before every meal. However, giving your cat a food puzzle is a great way to appeal to her inner hunter and give her a mental workout. “I’m a big fan of foraging toys or puzzles that require your cat to manipulate a ball or other object to get food out,” says Delgado. Start your cat out with a simpler cat food dispensing toy that allows her to see the cat food or cat treats inside, like the Catit treat ball toy or the Petsafe Funkitty Egg-cersizer cat toy. Then introduce more difficult puzzle toys over time, like the Trixie activity fun board cat toy or the KONG Active cat treat ball toy. Crafty cat lovers may enjoy making DIY food puzzles at home.

6. Create a Treasure Hunt

Hunting and foraging are natural cat behaviors, but it’s understandable if your cat isn’t doing much of either in your living room. You can change that by creating a food treasure hunt for cats. “Place food and treats on cat trees, shelves, in puzzle toys and boxes and other spots for the cat to search for,” says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant known as The Cat Coach and author of “Naughty No More.” The hunt should start easy, with food placed where your cat can see it. You can increase the difficulty by putting food in harder to reach places like cat trees, but don’t make it too hard, says Krieger. “The game should be challenging, not frustrating.”

7. Reward Good Behavior

The same techniques that help deal with unwanted cat behavior can also strengthen bonds with humans, explains Krieger. Clicker training, a positive reinforcement training method, uses a consistent sound, such as a click from a clicker, to communicate to the cat when she is doing a desired behavior. Cat clicker training is fun for cats and also makes their home environment more comfortable. “It’s effective for socializing cats and helping them feel more secure around their people,” says Krieger.

8. Show Your Cat Signs of Affection Every Day

Even if your feline is fairly low-maintenance, show your cat love daily. As Krieger says, “It is mandatory that cat lovers schedule that special petting, cuddling, stroking time with their cats—that is, for cats who like to be stroked and cuddled.” And for those cats who don’t, you’ve hopefully discovered a few new ways to enjoy that quality time.

By Jackie Lam

11 ways to manage pain in dogs and cats

By Deana Cappucci, BS, LVT, CCRVN, CCMT, VTS (Physical Rehabilitation) as seen in Animal Wellness Magazine

When it comes to managing pain in dogs and cats, these alternative modalities have a lot to offer. Consider trying one of these options before reaching for the pain meds.

Animals experience pain just like we do. But because dogs and cats are so stoic, most people don’t realize their animals are suffering. In nature, animals that show signs of pain or weakness are targets for prey, so they have adapted to hide their pain in order to survive. Learning how to recognize pain in your dog or cat is the first step, along with getting the problem properly diagnosed by your veterinarian. And there are many ways to manage pain besides medication. This article explores some alternative modalities for pain management in dogs and cats.

Recognizing pain in your companion animal

In dogs and cats, pain presents as a change in behavior or mobility (see sidebar). For instance, a dog experiencing pain from arthritis may not want to perform daily activities, such as going for long walks, or may have a hard time getting in and out of the car. Cats in pain may hesitate or avoid jumping onto higher surfaces, may hide more often, or experience a decreased appetite.

If you notice these signs in your own dog or cat, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup. Pain can arise from many different conditions and it’s important to find out which one is bothering your own animal so he can be properly treated.

Pain management – 11 alternative solutions

Fortunately, there are many ways you and your animal’s healthcare team can help manage pain and extend his quality of life.

1. Physical rehabilitation

Physical therapy is a service often used in human medicine to help patients recover from surgery or restore tissue function after an injury. Likewise, many modalities used in animal physical rehabilitation help reduce pain and inflammation to improve an animal’s comfort.

2. Laser therapy

3. Thermal therapy

Thermal therapies such as heat and cryotherapy are often used to improve circulation or decrease inflammation and swelling. Ice is added after surgical procedures to help reduce pain and swelling, whereas heat can be applied to sore muscles or stiff joints to provide circulation to the tissues and joints.

4. Therapeutic ultrasound

Therapeutic ultrasound uses low energy sound waves to warm up the tissue. It improves flexibility and promotes healing while decreasing pain and inflammation. It’s often used for animals with soft tissue trauma, such as muscle and tendon strains or sprains.

5. Extracorporeal shockwave therapy

This device uses high energy sound waves to stimulate the tissue, causing a physiologic response that leads to endorphin release for pain management, and promotes tissue healing. Animals that benefit from shockwave therapy include those suffering from arthritis, muscle and tendon injuries, or bone fractures that are not healing as expected. There are many different types of shockwave therapy, some of which may require light sedation due to the loud sound and intensity of the shocks.

6. Electrotherapy

Also known as E-Stim or TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation), electrotherapy uses an electrical current that is applied to a painful area to inhibit the sensory response to pain. Electrical stimulation can help in cases involving arthritis, post-surgical recovery, or soft tissue injuries or trauma.

7. Pulsed electromagnetic field therapy

8. Acupuncture

Acupuncture uses small needles inserted into specific points on the body, causing a physiologic response. Acupuncture releases the body’s natural endorphins, which help control pain. It also stimulates nerves, which is beneficial for animals experiencing neurologic dysfunction like IVDD or degenerative myelopathy. Arthritis and soft tissue injuries also benefit from acupuncture.

9. Therapeutic exercise

Therapeutic exercise is used in animal rehabilitation to help strengthen weakened muscles that may be associated with an injury or post-operative recovery. Arthritis causes pain in the joints leading to weakness in the muscles. Therapeutic exercises help improve strength and mobility in arthritic animals, and those recovering from surgery or injury.

10. Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy, such as swimming in warm circulating water, or walking on an underwater treadmill, provides buoyancy while reducing pain on injured joints. The warm water causes vasodilation and increases blood flow to the tissue, which helps decrease pain in the muscles and joints. The hydrostatic pressure of the water provides body awareness that is helpful in older dogs, or those suffering from neurologic disease. The resistance of the water also improves strength as the animal swims or walks against the water.

11. Massage

Last but not least, massage and manual therapies alleviate taut muscles and increase circulation to the tissues. Massage brings blood flow to the tissue, providing oxygen and nutrients to the area. It can reduce pain by decreasing muscle spasms and improving the flexibility of joints. Massage can also decrease stress and anxiety, which can exaggerate pain. Most animals – and their humans – would benefit from a massage!

Ask your veterinarian if he or she offers any of these pain-relieving modalities, or seek out a veterinary rehabilitation center in your area. It is important to understand that although these modalities have therapeutic effects for managing pain and discomfort, other medical interventions may be added to your dog or cat’s regimen to provide the best pain relief and improve overall comfort. It is also important to know that not all animals are candidates for every modality, and that a consultation with a trained veterinary professional is necessary to discuss the best options for your own dog or cat.

Which Flowers and Plants Are Safe for Cats?

Reviewed on March 19, 2020, by Dr. Jennifer Grota, DVM as seen in PetMD

Did you know that certain plants and flowers can actually be dangerous for your cat? 

“While any plant material can cause mild stomach upset, some plants are much more dangerous,” says Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

It’s also important for cat parents to know that some plants and flowers that are relatively safe for dogs can be deadly for cats. “Members of the Lilium (true lilies) or Hemerocallis (day lilies) can cause kidney failure in cats, but only mild stomach upset in dogs,” says Wismer.

If you’re considering an eco-conscious revamp of your home décor, check this list to find out which flowers and houseplants are safe for cats.

Flowers That Are Safe for Cats 

Avoid bringing dangerous flowers into your home with this list of safe flowers for cats:

  • Alstroemeria
  • Asters
  • Freesia
  • Gerber Daisies
  • Liatris
  • Lisianthus
  • Orchid
  • Roses
  • Snapdragon
  • Statice
  • Sunflowers
  • Wax Flower (Madagascar Jasmine)

Air-Purifying Plants That Are Safe for Cats

Houseplants cleanse the air we breathe from toxins found in many household products—formaldehyde, benzene, and carbon monoxide, just to name a few. 

Here are some air-purifying plants that are also safe for cats:

  • Areca Palm
  • Bamboo
  • Basil
  • Boston Fern
  • Cilantro
  • Dill
  • Dwarf Date Palm
  • Friendship Plant
  • Hens and Chicks
  • Lady Palm
  • Lemon Balm
  • Old Man Cactus
  • Painted Lady
  • Reed Palm
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Shrimp Cactus
  • Spider Plant (Spider Ivy)
  • Venus Flytrap
  • Zebra Haworthia

Even Safe Plants Can Pose Dangers to Cats

Wismer suggests that you keep these plants and flowers out of reach of curious cats even though they are considered safe, because there are other dangers to watch out for. 

Most cut flowers come with a powdered flower food to keep them fresh, and this can be toxic to cats. Even the vases could pose a problem. “Cats especially like to drink from vases, so make sure the cat cannot overturn heavy vases and hurt themselves,” Wismer adds. “Breakable vases can also be a hazard for your pets…and you, when you have to pick up the pieces.”

Karen Lawrence, director of The CFA Foundation and manager of the Feline Historical Museum, suggests using hanging planters as a way to keep plants out of the reach of your pets.

What to Do If Your Cat Eats a Plant That Might Be Poisonous

If your cat nibbled on a flower or plant, and you are unsure whether it may be toxic, call your emergency vet, or the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-764-7661, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

You should call even if you just suspect that your cat might have eaten part of a plant or flower. 

By: Cheryl Lock

Balancing Your New Business with a New Pet

By Ryan Goodchild

Well, it’s finally happened: the stars have aligned and you’re about to start your own business. But you’re also committed to getting a pet — a desire underscored by the many remarkable benefits of owning a pet as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

You worry, however, about being able to supply the time and energy that each requires. Luckily, these tips from HOPE: Helping Our Pets Everyday can put your mind at ease and see to it that both commitments get the attention they deserve.

The Pets that Suit Your Life

Even if you start and run your business from home, a pet is a lifelong commitment. Consider what happens if your business outgrows your home office and you move to a larger space with employees. It may be nice to have the option of taking your pet with you. While most well-trained pets are good office companions, a pet rabbit can be one of few distractions. In addition to being characteristically quiet, their tendencies to take afternoon siestas allow for hours of work productivity. It’s also fairly easy to create a bunny living space within the office.

Cats, fish, and some birds are also good pet options that can transfer well to an office environment. Dogs can also be good choices, although they tend to be more active and demanding, which may be limiting to you in either a home or office workspace.

Be sure to factor in the need for self-care for both you and your pet. Taking care of yourself by getting in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and taking in a bit of nature will help you stay focused and productive. As for your office companion, there are many resorts that allow pets. Plus, you could treat your furry family member to a spa day of their own while you enjoy one, too.

The Structure that Fits Your Business

You should also carefully consider the proper business structure for your new venture. Simply remaining a sole proprietor has its advantages: it’s easy and inexpensive to set up, can offer certain tax advantages, and allows you to retain 100% control. However, the price you pay for this simplicity is in the liabilities you might also absorb. It can also be more difficult for you to get investment back or other financing, which you may need for startup costs and expansion.

The drawbacks of the sole proprietorship structure are why many entrepreneurs opt for a corporate structure. “C” and “S” corporations are two corporate structures that offer some distinct tax advantages and disadvantages. They can also curtail the flexibility you need to remain nimble. That’s why many in your shoes opt for the limited liability company, or LLC, structure. It retains much of the flexibility of a sole proprietorship, with the limited liability and tax advantages of a corporation. While it’s fairly easy to set up, each state has different laws that govern a business structure, so you’ll need to carefully check your specific requirements and get step-by-step guidelines for your state.

Get started right away with quality business programs to keep track of your money. You can choose invoicing software online, but look for a program that fits your budget and your needs. Custom invoices and online payment reminders are great features to look for before you commit.

Bringing the Two Together

Now, you have to make the two work. For your business, rather than take the time to hunt down state guidelines and do the filing yourself or take on the burden of additional attorney fees so soon in your business’s life, consider signing up with a formation service. They know how to comply with all of your state’s laws and save you thousands on attorney fees.

The Next Scoop explains that other cost savings can be found in marketing your business. For example, when you need to create business cards, you can use free online templates to design professional-looking and unique cards to hand out to customers, clients, and at networking events. You can also use the digitized version of your business card to post on your website and social media channels.

For your pet, take advantage of the current proliferation of apps — there is one for almost anything. From scheduling to training to co-op pet care with other owners, you can find an app that eases you and your new family member into your life as both an entrepreneur and pet owner.

It may seem like too much at first, starting your own business and introducing a pet into your life. However, with a little research and preparation, it’s possible to realize both dreams at once. In fact, you may even be surprised by how easily your new pet adapts to your routine. And it never hurts to have a friendly furry face around for when you need a much-deserved break.Diane with HOPE believes there is a deep connection between humans and animals. Visit her website for information.

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.