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Win FREE Lightweight Litter!

gladetoughodorsolutions_MAs a Tidy Cats Insider I get an exclusive first look at new products, which I can then pass onto you! In fact, Tidy Cats and I are teaming up to give a free sample of their newest product to TEN lucky Dear Nora readers! Read on to find out how you can enter to win…

Last week, my friends from Tidy Cats sent me a sample of their newest innovation: Tidy Cats Lightweight Litter with Glade Tough Odors Solutions. I gotta admit, I was skeptical that it could be the solution to MY tough odors! But I was impressed! I used the litter box right after my mom filled it with this new litter (typical) and the Glade kept the odors in check without overpowering our home with an artificial perfume.

Not only that, but Tidy Cats Lightweight with Glade is 50% lighter than traditional clumping litters, makes tight clumps for easy scooping, and comes in a jug that is both resealable and recyclable with two handles for easy carrying and pouring! What could be better?!

To enter for a chance to win a FREE sample of this exciting new product, leave a comment about what you love most about your cat. That’s right, just brag about your kitty and you could be one of TEN lucky readers to have Tidy Cats Lightweight with Glade shipped right to your home! Act fast, ten lucky winners will be chosen at midnight on Saturday, August 1st.

Check out this video for more information about this new product!

5 Things Your Cat Sitter Should Absolutely Know

Photo from pixabay.com
Photo from pixabay.com

‘Summertime’ means vacations and weekend getaways to many people. Unfortunately, most cats don’t appreciate the newness and unpredictability of travel and would much rather stay home where things are more mundane. Here’s a great article about the information you should relay to your cat sitter to ensure a safe and healthy stay-cation for your cat while you are away.

Click here to read 5 Things Your Cat Sitter Should Absolutely Know

What Foods Are Toxic to My Cat?

Q: Dear Nora,
I’ll be hosting a cookout at my home for the 4th of July. My cat is very clever and sneaky, and I’m worried that she’ll eat some foods she shouldn’t be eating. What average cookout foods are toxic or dangerous to my cat? I can be more proactive about keeping food away from her if I know what to look for.

A: Thanks for reminding our readers that fireworks aren’t the only holiday threats to animals. Many human foods can be dangerous to your cat. Here are some items that make an appearance at your 4th of July party that you should keep away from her:

  • Alcohol – can cause coma or death
  • Bones – choking hazzards
  • Chocolate – can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or a heart attack
  • Onions – toxic
  • Garlic – toxic

Find a more comprehensive list here at www.peteducation.com.

As you may know, cats also just have very sensitive digestive systems and are prone to vomiting and diarrhea even with the most simple diet changes. For that reason, it would be smart to keep your cat away from human food always, toxic or not.

If you suspect that your cat has eaten something toxic, call the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661.

How Can I Keep My Cat Calm on the 4th of July?

Q: Dear Nora,
I adopted a great new cat a few months ago. His only issue is that he’s a bit skittish around loud noises. How can I keep him from being scared out of his mind on the 4th of July when things are exploding all around us?

A: Fireworks can make even the bravest cats skittish, so I feel for your cat. You can help your cat by creating a safe space for him in your home. Here’s how:

  • Choose a room in your home that doesn’t get much foot traffic, and preferably has a door that can close for your cat’s privacy and security.
  • Make sure the room has all of his basic essentials, including a clean litter box, food, and fresh water.
  • Add some comforts too, like his favorite bed, toys, and a few items of clothing that smell like you.
  • Turn on a television or radio to help drown out the loud bangs.
  • Consider using a Feliway spray or plug-in to help calm his nerves.
  • Keep the party out of your house. If you want to celebrate at home, consider planning a small gathering with family or a small group of close friends.

Finally, be aware that the 4th of July– with all of the fear and disorientation it can cause– is the number one day of the year that pets go missing in the United States. Make sure that the room you create for your cat is secure and that your cat has ways of being identified (tag, microchip, PetHub ID, etc.) before it’s too late.

Is It Normal For My Cat to Shed Whiskers?

Q: Dear Nora,
Sometimes I find whiskers on the floor. Should I be concerned about my cat losing whiskers? Is this normal?

A: It’s totally normal for a cat to lose whiskers. Just like our fur, our whiskers continuously fall out and are re-grown. Whiskers play such a big part in how we explore the world that we like to keep them new and fresh.

The only time to be concerned is if you notice a big jump in the amount of whiskers your cat is losing, which may be an indication of illness. If this is the case, you will probably also notice other symptoms, such as your cat being lethargic or losing weight. Lethargy and weight loss are two very good reasons to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Feline Diabetes

Our dear friend, Pippi, died one year ago today after a two-year tussle with diabetes. Pip lived to the grand old age of 17 and had a pretty great life right up til the end, when she passed away curled up in her mom’s lap, surrounded by friends and family, thanks to the help of Sarah Nolan at Capital District Mobile Veterinary Services.

Before she was diagnosed, we didn’t know anything about feline diabetes. But, it’s amazing how fast you learn things when someone you love is counting on you to make the best decisions for them. Here’s what we learned through Pippi’s experience:

The Symptoms

  • Frequent urination. When Pippi became ill, she started peeing a lot. When I say “a lot”, I mean we had to completely change the litter every single day because she had soaked it straight through. Because of her need to pee more frequently, she also started occasionally peeing in other rooms when she couldn’t make it to the box. My mom learned pretty quick to add more boxes in more rooms to make it easier for Pip to find one.
  • Always thirsty. The amount of water she was consuming was one of the biggest tip-offs that something wasn’t right. Her water bowl, which would normally only be 1/4 empty by the time it was freshened each morning was suddenly bone dry within just a couple hours.
  • Big appetite with weight loss. Pippi was hungry for the entirety of the two years she was diabetic. But no matter how much she ate, she lost weight.
  • Lethargy. Granted, Pip was 15 years old when she was diagnosed, so she wasn’t the most active and spry cat around. Still, there was a distinct change in her behavior that let us know she wasn’t feeling so hot.

The Veterinarian Visits and Lab Results

I have to admit, we Googled Pippi’s symptoms before our vet appointment. It’s hard not to, when information is just a few clicks away. As you probably know, this almost always goes badly. When we showed up at the vet, we were convinced that one or more of her vital organs were failing her. So, when our vet suggested that she may be diabetic and explained how treatable feline diabetes is, we rejoiced!

He weighed her and took samples of her urine and blood to send to the lab. The lab results confirmed his suspicion of diabetes and we met with him a few days later to discuss our options. At that meeting, we learned how to successfully administer an insulin injection and asked all of the questions we could think of.

Never hesitate to ask your vet to explain anything you don’t understand. Sometimes medical professionals get into a habit of speaking in ways that are too wordy or complicated for the average person to understand. Don’t feel bad about asking them to back up and make it simpler. They want you to understand because they know it’s the best way to keep your animals healthy. Let them know if you need more info! Remember: they work for you!

The Treatment

Each cat is different and the treatment plan will be tailored to the cat’s particular situation. When Pippi first got diagnosed, she was a Type II diabetic. That meant that her body was still producing insulin, just not very efficiently. Our veterinarian prescribed a twice-daily insulin regimen and a diet change. He suspected that a high-protein, low-carb diet (which he called the Catkins Diet) could eventually stabilize her blood sugar and wean her off of the insulin altogether. He was right! Within a couple of months we were able to taper her insulin doses until she didn’t require insulin anymore. A year later, however, she switched to a Type I diabetic. Her body stopped producing its own insulin and she became insulin-dependent for the rest of her life.

As I said, each diabetic cat will have a different plan that will work best for them. Some will require insulin injections, some may be able to take an oral hypoglycemic medication, and some will simply need a change in diet. Your vet can help you choose the right plan.

We spent a lot of time at the vet during the last two years of her life. Her condition required regular checkups to make sure her sugar levels were stable and to keep an eye on her weight. It wasn’t easy (or cheap!), but I really do believe that our persistence, our great relationship with our veterinarian, and our confidence to ask for answers and clarity helped Pippi live a happy, comfortable, and relatively healthy life after her diagnosis.

Additional Resources:
The Pet Fund – A non-profit that provides financial assistance for veterinary care.
FelineDiabetes.com – A comprehensive website about feline diabetes.

Why Is My Cat Eating My Plants?

Q: Dear Nora,
I keep finding my cat munching on my houseplants. I make sure not to bring poisonous ones into my home, but it’s still aggravating. Why does she love eating my plants so much? And how can I make her stop?

A: It’s great that you’re careful to not bring plants into your home that may be toxic to your cat. Other readers who aren’t already so conscious can find a list of common toxic plants on our Resources page.

It’s very common for cats to eat plants and there are a few reasons she may be doing this.

  • Cats like things that dangle and flutter in the wind. If you have viney plants or plants that wiggle when the wind blows through the window, the plant may simply be poking at your cat’s natural instinct to hunt.
  • If you cause a big fuss every time you catch your cat nibbling, she may have learned that this is a great way to get your attention.
  • Eating plants can help with digestion, cause vomiting, and even act as a laxative. Eating your plants may be your cat’s way of trying to solve belly discomfort.

My first suggestion would be to make your plants inaccessible to you cat. Put them up on high shelves that she can’t access by jumping, hang dangling plants from the ceiling, or put them in a room she doesn’t have access to. Second, add a pot or two of cat grass to your home so she has a more appropriate way to fill her need to chomp on greens. You can buy pre-grown grasses or start them yourself from seed. You may even be able to find locally grown cat grass at your local health food store or farmer’s market. If you have a Bergan Turbo Scratcher (my favorite), you can even get an insert that will grow grass in the middle of it! Make sure to place the grass in areas that are easy for her to reach and close to parts of your home where she already spends a lot of time (for instance, near her favorite perch).

Are Shelter Cats Defective?

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Guest Columnist: Ida

Ida Mae lived the first three years of her life in shelters and foster homes before she was adopted into Nora’s family in 2014. Now that she has found her Furever Home, Ida spends her days napping on window sills, wrestling with Nora, and eating all of the food all of the time.

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Q: Dear Ida,
I’m ready to adopt a new cat into my family, but I don’t know where to go. I’ve heard bad things about my local breeders, plus they’re expensive. I’ve been considering adopting from a shelter but I’m having a hard time getting over the stigma that shelter cats may be defective somehow. I mean, how else would they end up there? Help!

A: It’s a tragedy that shelter animals are assumed to be defective. I met some of my best friends while I lived at Whiskers Animal Benevolent League. Cats end up at shelters for all sorts of reasons, and usually those reasons have nothing to do with the personality or behavior of the cat. In my time at the shelter I met cats who had been rescued as strays or ferals, who were learning to love and trust humans. I met cats who had been surrendered after their human caretakers had passed away or moved out of the country. And even I was surrendered because my family couldn’t afford an extensive dental surgery that I needed. I can say with confidence that shelters are overflowing with healthy and happy cats that deserve a chance to show you how great they are.

I encourage you to contact your local animal shelter/rescue and ask to meet some of their adoptable cats. The shelter volunteers, who have spent countless hours working with the cats, will be familiar with each cat’s individual temperament and story. They will even have medical records on hand. Just go there with an open mind and see who you meet. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the experience, and maybe even find the new addition you’ve been looking for.

Should I Microchip My Indoor Cat?

Q: Dear Nora,
I found a young cat in a parking lot last week and I’m going to keep her. She has an appointment to get spayed next week and my veterinarian has suggested that I get her microchipped at the same time, while she is already under anesthesia. She’s going to be an indoor-only cat so I don’t know if microchipping is necessary. What are your thoughts on microchipping indoor-only animals?

A: Microchipping is a great idea, whether or not you ever intend for your cat to be outside. If this is your first cat you may not know this yet but… cats are really sneaky. We slip unnoticed through open doors, we push out the screens from windows, we convince your unsuspecting houseguests that we are outside cats so they feel like they’re doing a good deed when they hold the door open for us. If we want to get out, we will. It’s just a matter of time. If or when your cat does find her way outside, a microchip will identify her if she is found and taken to a shelter or veterinarian’s office. A microchipped cat is MUCH more likely to find her way back home.

Your veterinarian’s suggestion of doing the procedure while your cat is already under anesthesia for spaying is also a great idea. Your cat won’t even know it happened!

How Can I Keep My Cat From Eating So Fast?

Q: Dear Nora,
My cat is a rescue who was denied food for a portion of his life before he came to me. As a result, he’s a bit wild about food. At mealtimes he scarfs it all up immediately, then sometimes vomits before he even has a chance to digest it. How can I help him slow down so he’s benefiting from his meals (plus, you know, help me not clean up cat vomit a couple times a week)?

A: This behavior is pretty common in cats who have come from similar situations. As you can guess, he’s got some emotional issues that make him believe that if he doesn’t eat the food as quickly as possible it’ll disappear. And he has no trust that he’ll have a chance to eat again tomorrow. Eventually, as he learns and trusts that you will consistently feed him every day, he may ease up on the scarfing (But don’t be alarmed or offended if he is a lifelong scarfer. These issues can be very deeply rooted). While you work on helping him understand that you will always feed him, you can add food puzzles to his meals. A food puzzle like the Stimulo will make it impossible for your cat too eat quickly, making it easier for him to digest his whole meal. As an added bonus, it’ll help stimulate his hunter instincts and keep him alert.