Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holiday Home Prep

That look on Vixen's face says it all, doesn't it?

Holiday Home Prep

Decorating for the holidays is always a fair amount of work, but when you have cats it's just a little extra challenging. Not only do you have to keep them from climbing the tree, knocking off the ornaments to bat around, drinking the water out of the tree reservoir, chewing the light cords, and setting their tails on fire with burning candles, but getting them to hold still while you put cute costumes on them and take pictures can actually get you injured!

Here are some tips on getting your home ready for the holidays, along with suggestions on items we offer that can help you.

Holiday Safety for Cats

Many dangers for cats abound during the holidays...even for indoor kitties! Just a few of them:

  • Holiday greenery that could be toxic when nibbled
  • Water in the tree reservoir treated with chemicals to lengthen the life of the tree
  • Human food slipped to them by party guests who are unaware those hors d'oeuvres may contain something like onions that could seriously damage a cat's kidneys
  • Chewing on electrical wires...who remembers the scene in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation?
  • Cuts from broken ornaments knocked off the tree as toys
  • Slipping out a door to escape from strangers in the house for a party or a family visit
  • Escaping in a strange place while traveling for the holidays
Obviously there are more, but those are the main ones that come to mind. How do you protect your cats from such things?

Try using artificial trees; they don't smell as good, but may not be as tempting to climb or eat. And they don't require water to stay green all season!

Make sure your guests know that the cats shouldn't be given a little nibble from their plates. Feed the cats something really smelly and good (for them) shortly before guests arrive so they won't be hungry and will likely turn up their noses at anything offered.

Keep electrical wires out of their reach, and train your cats to leave them alone. Easier said than done with a teething kitten, but provide plenty of alternatives for your cats to chew on: I've even used pacifiers intended for human babies that were a good size, and the cats loved them!

Use non-breakable ornaments, especially down low where the cats will want to bat at them.

When entertaining, put the cats in a quiet room that's off-limits to guests, or put them in a crate while people are visiting. Midwest's Collapsible Cat Play Pen is a little tricky to get assembled, but I keep one up all the time in my downstairs room and use it for segregating my cats when needed. It stays open so they can go in and out of it, and as often as not I'll walk in the room and find one or more of them dozing inside it.

The Collapsible Cat Play Pen can be used with or without wheels.

If you're traveling with your cats, we offer a wide array of travel crates for all modes of transportation. Studies have shown that when traveling in the car, the safest place for your cat's carrier is on the floorboard directly behind the passenger seat. Make sure your cat is fitted with a harness you can tether to the carrier, and keep a leash in the car for exercise walks along the way.  We have several in our Collars, Harnesses and Leads section. Tip: Hook on the leash before untethering the cat from the carrier; that way you won't have a little runaway to chase!

Fun Holiday Home Items for Cat Lovers

It's getting late to enjoy anything holiday-themed this year, but think about these types of items for next year. Custom items can be made at any time, and enjoyed year-round.

Newly available again after a short break is The Gold Cat's jewelry. Their earrings and rings are especially popular, and Valentine's Day will be here before you know it! Since all of them are custom made to order, getting your order in now will beat the rush and make sure it's delivered in time.

The sterling silver Nabi Cat Ring is one of their most popular designs,
and it's also available in 14 kt gold!

Holidays are not happy times for everyone. If you know someone who has recently lost a beloved kitty, a cremation urn or a comforting book may be a thoughtful gift. Just released this year was Purr Prints of the Heart, Deborah Barnes' heart-warming story of her cat Mister Jazz, told from his own point of view.

This new style of wooden frame urn will soon be available,
but you'll find many more in our Cat Memorials & Grief Support section.

Got to run for some holiday prep of my own now, but keep us in mind as you complete your shopping!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Supplier Spotlight: K&H Manufacturing

K&H's Kitty Sill, available heated or unheated

Supplier Spotlight: K&H Manufacturing

Old Maid Cat Lady has been around for more than six years, and in that time we've acquired over sixty suppliers! This fall, we're introducing you to several of them with an in-depth look at those suppliers and their products.

This time we take a look at K&H Manufacturing, who's been one of our suppliers since our first year. While other companies have come and gone, K&H has consistently been a reliable source of high quality heated and non-heated products for cats. Despite selling a great number of products, the company is still family-owned and relatively small.

Based in Colorado, K&H has been around for more than 40 years. They're actually the originator of heated products for pets! K&H's Lectro Kennel has been on the market since the company's founding. It comes in both regular and Deluxe models. Made for cats, dogs, and even birds, each product is designed by the company's founder and president James Koskey. 

K&H's Thermo-Kitty Bed, available in two sizes & colors

K&H: Meeting Cats' Needs

One of K&H's best sellers in winter is the Thermo Kitty Bed. Cats have a natural body temperature that is slightly higher than a human's, so a room that may seem only slightly chilly to us feels much colder to them. This bed warms to 10-15 degrees higher than the ambient air temperature. With a washable cover and orthopedic foam base, it's understandable why it's so popular! It comes in Sage (green) or Mocha (brown), both with a tan interior.

Not all kitties are lucky enough to have indoor homes in winter. One of Old Maid Cat Lady's customers ordered two of the warmers for his outdoor cats that are semi-feral, to put in some wooden shelters he'd built for them. They were so popular he ordered two more the next week! He sent us the photo below of the cats enjoying them on a chilly fall morning.

Outdoor cats enjoying a chilly night on their Lectro-Soft heated beds

K&H's Thermal Bowl was designed to hold water for outdoor animals, but requests from people who feed colonies of feral and community cats led them to develop the Thermo-Kitty Café, shown below. It's great for keeping cats' wet food from freezing in winter. Thanks to K&H, there's no need for your outdoor cats to do without their wet food in cold-weather months!

Thermo-Kitty Cafe keeps both water and wet food from freezing outdoors

K&H: Tested for Cats' Safety

One of K&H's great points of pride is how well its products are tested to be safe for our feline companions. You've likely heard of UL testing for electronic products, but K&H uses the MET Laboratories guidelines. MET was the nation's first Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory (NRTL) for product safety certification. They currently have OSHA approval to test over 180 UL standards categories, plus tests 230+ additional standards.

What does this all mean for you and your cats? Safer, longer-lasting, higher quality products than those from other companies that try to imitate K&H. Almost all of the knock-offs are untested for safety. Always check for that certification: it costs a lot for a company to get it, but K&H feels that you and your cats are worth the extra investment. They go above and beyond the minimum standards for testing.

If you'd like to know more about MET product testing, here's a guideline that more completely spells out the differences between it and UL testing.

Now that the weather's colder all over the US, when you're shopping for your cats this holiday season, why not get kitty something to warm the body as well as the heart? Click here to shop all K&H products available through Old Maid Cat Lady!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

October 29 is National Cat Day!

October 29 is National Cat Day!

Treat Yo' Kitty!

Above is pictured Miss Matilda Stormkitty, Mattie for short. She was rescued at the height of Hurricane Matthew, crying outside in the wind and rain! My original intent was to find her a home, as I already have my Golden Boys and my allergies really don't need a third cat in the house.

Then I saw The Captain playing with her, how she enlivened him as he's about the age equivalent to a human in his mid-30s. Gilly was less enthusiastic at first, but even he seems to enjoy playing with her now. Can I really take them away from each other? Or from myself? I must confess to finding delight in watching her dash around the house, hop sideways on all four feet, or stand up on her back legs to "attack" the boys, just like they used to do when they were tiny. It's an adjustment to have a cat in the house again, but we're getting along fine and the boys are teaching Mattie how to be a good cat.

Finding Homes for Cats

One of the major themes of National Cat Day is to find homes for cats. Colleen Paige, an advocate for animal welfare and an expert on pet and family lifestyles, founded the observance in 2005 to draw public attention to the number of cats who need rescuing each year. The first belief listed on the site is "...that every cat should have a forever home where they are safe, warm, loved, cherished and regarded as FAMILY."

Here come the statistics: according to the ASPCA, approximately 3.4 million cats enter U.S. shelters each year. Of those an approximate 1.4 million cats are killed. That's one million four hundred thousand cats who never make it out of a shelter alive. Every. Year. Some facilities kill more than 90% of the cats arriving there. These are not shelters in any sense of the word, at least not for cats.

I refuse to use the term "euthanized" for cats killed in shelters because euthanasia is supposed to be a humane way of ending suffering for an animal that is severely injured or ill. The vast majority of cats killed in shelters are either completely healthy, or suffering from a "kitty cold" that can be easily cured. These are loving, adoptable animals who deserve a chance. 

Or they are members of outdoor cat colonies that help control populations of disease-spreading rodents in our communities. There is an anti-cat movement seeking to destroy these colonies, many of whom may have been abandoned or lost pets. The people behind this movement commission "studies" that are biased and use flawed information-gathering techniques that skew the results to support their anti-cat arguments. For cats to kill the number of songbirds these studies claim, they'd have to do little else. And we all know how many hours a day cats spend sleeping! My personal experience with cats tells me that an outdoor cat may kill an occasional bird, but it's a rare occurrence.

The truth is that managed outdoor cat colonies are clean, healthy, vaccinated, and an asset to their communities. Some cats do not have the temperament to live closely with people. Others can eventually be tamed and learn to happily live inside. If a cat can be homed, it should be. But for those who can't, colony living provides a humane alternative. Managed colonies are cared for by someone who uses humane traps and has the cats spayed or neutered, vaccinated, and properly vetted. They are fed and watered daily.

Enhancing Cat Care

Another of the beliefs listed on the National Cat Day site is "...that no matter where a cat comes from, being a cat parent is a precious gift and a responsibility one should not take lightly. Please make sure you can properly care for a cat before you commit to opening your heart and home."

This belief speaks to my heart! It's one of the main principles behind Old Maid Cat Lady. A retail site that was born out of my own frustration at never being able to find the things I wanted for my cats has evolved into an information center as well, where people can learn about proper cat care, normal feline behavior, and how to live more harmoniously with their kitties.

Cats are often misunderstood. People either anthropomorphize them, giving them human qualities they don't possess, or they try to treat them like dogs despite their differing needs, or they just view them as wild creatures who are "aloof" and unable to be trained. 

In fact, cats love human interaction, long for attention from their human companions, and can be trained to do almost anything with patience and the proper techniques. Understanding what motivates your cat, which you will discover if you interact frequently, is an important first step to any type of feline training.

Our kitties have unique needs. If those needs are not provided with an appropriate outlet, they will find any convenient outlet for the behavior. That may be somewhere we view as inappropriate. 

The feline need to scratch is but one of these needs. Cats scratch to mark their territory, exercise the muscles of their front legs (from the resistance of the scratching surface pulling against their claws), and slough off the dead portions of their claws. Scratching can also be a reaction to over-stimulation or a cry for attention. It is a natural cat behavior. Some cats prefer vertical surfaces for scratching, while others may prefer a horizontal surface. In the wild, cats scratch on tree bark.

To train your cats not to scratch your furniture, provide an ample assortment of cat scratchers made of differing angles, materials, and heights, around your home. If your cat begins scratching the antique sofa you inherited from Grandma, tell kitty, "No," in a calm voice, then pick up the cat and direct that scratching to the nearest cat tree or scratching post, placing their paws on the surface and praising kitty while doing so. You will have to do this several times. It often helps to treat the scratching surface with a little catnip.

Typical surfaces for cat scratchers are sisal rope, corrugated cardboard stacked with the honeycomb ends together, and carpet. But be forewarned: if you don't want your cats scratching your carpet, don't train them to scratch on a carpeted cat tree, or you'll be training them to scratch carpet!

However you choose to celebrate National Cat Day, whether it's through welcoming a new feline member to your family, volunteering to help other cats find homes, care for a community colony, or just to treat yo' kitty, we hope you enjoy the day with your cat(s)!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Coloring Books for Adults?

Coloring Books for Adults?

Yes, it's true...grownups are going crazy for coloring. Recently, as many as half of the top ten best-sellers on Amazon were adult coloring books. There have even been reports of a global pencil shortage!

Coloring books for adults have been around for about the past 50 years. But social media sites are a far more efficient way of sharing our creations than the old refrigerator-mounted masterpieces we created as children. Experts point to this as the driving force behind the current coloring craze.

Far from being confined to social media, however, coloring has spawned many real-life social gatherings. There are coloring clubs and even coloring parties being held in bars. Even fine artists are releasing coloring books. In addition to generating some extra cash, they offer a way for artists to collaborate with complete strangers and give their work new life.

And what better subject for a colorist's pencils (or crayons) than the feline?

Why Color?

Many who have taken to coloring as adults cite its ability to reduce stress. By loosing one's inner child, the cares of the adult world seem to melt away. Gone are the surly teenagers, aging parents, unpaid bills, spat with our significant other, boss yelling at us, or bumper-to-bumper traffic on the commute home.

Coloring takes us back to the simpler time of our childhood. Its rhythmic, repetitive motions within a structured environment help to calm our frazzled minds and allow us to develop better focus. For parents, it even gives them an activity they can enjoy sharing with their children.

What's more, using a coloring book with pre-printed images removes any pressure to have any actual drawing skills. We can still exercise our creativity in the colors we choose, but without having to spring for any expensive art lessons!

Older adults who participate in creative activities have been shown to improve their overall health and quality of life. But why wait? We can start those healthy activities earlier in life!

Let's not forget about that stress-reducing aspect, either. Some coloring books targeting adults come complete with meditations, Bible quotes, or other inspiring phrases. Far from being a passing fad, coloring seems to have staying power.

Enter cats!

We all know the stress-reducing ability of our feline companions. Stroking a cat's silky coat can help lower blood pressure. And a cat's purr actually has healing powers. Surely some of that carries over into coloring pictures of cats, right?

One of the best-selling cat coloring book titles over the past year is Creative Cats with artwork by Marjorie Sarnat. It features over 30 intricate designs of cats in fancy backgrounds that could take you plenty of time to color. Newer titles on the market include A Million Cats by Lulu Mayo and Cats and Kittens for Comfort and Creativity by Flora Chang. These and many more are currently available on Old Maid Cat Lady.

If you also love to travel, you might try Cats in Paris by Won-Sun Jang, or raid your child's toy box for Cat and Dog See the World by Adrienne Trafford. Yes...there are still coloring books for children...and some feature cats!

As the coloring craze perseveres and our feline overlords continue to dominate the internet, we'll be adding new kitty coloring book titles to Old Maid Cat Lady. You'll find the adult versions in our Craft & Hobby Books section, and the children's versions in the Toys, Electronics & Sporting Goods area, as well as in the Children's Books sections for the ages they target.

Happy (cat) coloring!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

May 3 is Specially Abled Pets Day!

Happy Specially Abled Pets Day!

Way back in 2006, a lady named Colleen Paige decided we needed a day to celebrate pets who may have birth flaws or injuries that make them "different" from normal.

Why Specially Abled Pets?

Originally named Disabled Pets Day, as the holiday gained international acclaim, Colleen decided that the name didn't fit any more because these pets are not really "disabled" but in fact very able! Just as with humans, the challenges they face make their other senses much keener.

The observance encourages people to adopt animals with special abilities. Some refer to cats with disabilities as "handicats."

Types of Disabilities

Cats with special needs may be blind, missing an eye, or may have lost the use of one or more of their legs. They may have a brain disorder such as cerebellar hypoplasia that causes them to wobble. They may have lost limbs to amputation. They may have been injured by accident or abuse. Or they may have a disease that limits their lifespan and abilities. Some shelters consider cats who are FIV-positive to be disabled.

Whatever the case, cats with disabilities typically get overlooked at shelters. They may sink into depression over this and become even less appealing to people. Some are even put down immediately upon arrival, deemed "unadoptable." And yet, these precious kitties have enormous amounts of love to give.

Some cats with a disability can make excellent companions for people with similar disabilities. This is especially true for children. They can also make excellent companions for older adults who may have mobility issues of their own.

What to Know About Adopting a Specially Abled Cat

While many cats with disabilities can live life as a normal kitty, some will need special care and consideration. This depends on their type of disability.

Cats with three legs can typically get around just as well as if they have all four. When it gets tricky is when both legs in either front or back have been amputated. They may need some help with grooming, if they're unable to reach areas they'd normally keep clean. Watch the growth of claws on any paralyzed legs and make sure to keep them trimmed so they don't grow down into kitty's pads.

Weight control is also important, so a pudgy puddy doesn't overtax the remaining legs. Jumping up onto things may be easy for these cats, but not as much jumping down if the forelegs are compromised. Ramps or steps can help them. You can find a few options for those in Old Maid Cat Lady's Senior Cats section. Cats without use of their forelegs may also benefit from a raised food dish if they like to eat sitting up on their hind legs.

If a cat has lost the use of the back legs, a wheelchair may help. There are several places that sell custom-made wheelchairs for pets; a few are listed in the sources at the end of this post. You'll need to keep an eye on wheelchair-bound cats and help them up and down stairs. They will likely only use their wheels during certain times, not always.

Cats with incontinence may still use a litter box to poop, but may pee wherever they are when they need to. Keep some good cleaning supplies on hand to control the urine odor. You may be able to get some of these kitties to wear a diaper. Once the cat gets used to that, it's only a matter of keeping it changed when it becomes soiled.

Cats with hypoplasia appear wobbly and uncoordinated, as though their body is not getting the correct signals from their brain on how to move. If they stumble, these cats may use their claws to grasp onto the surface. Because of this they walk best on carpeted floors, not tile or hardwood. They may benefit from a carpeted ramp or steps to help them get up onto beds, sofas, or other perches where they can see out the windows.

Some cats with hypoplasia may not want to be up off the floor, especially if they suffer from vertigo. Placing heavily padded rugs or cushions under favorite perches to pad kitty's falls may be advisable. A higher-sided litter box not only prevents overspray, but can provide something for kitty to lean on while in the potty. Some of these cats need closer monitoring than their fully abled feline counterparts, while others get along just fine. They should remain indoors, going outside only on a leash and harness, or in an enclosure to protect them from harm.

Blind cats often have an uncanny ability to get around within a familiar environment. They learn quickly where things are and have heightened senses of hearing and smell. Some have even attacked and fended off burglars who have entered their homes! Cats whose blindness or partial blindness may not have been diagnosed can exhibit behaviors deemed anti-social. Geriatric cats may have impaired vision due to cataracts or cumulative light damage, just like people.

To help a blind cat navigate your home, keep things in the same place, and don't rearrange the furniture or placement of the litter box and food/water dishes. If you introduce a new item, call your cat over to it and introduce it so kitty knows where it is. Use toys with a bell or crinkly sound to help kitty find them. Talk to your cat as you approach, so as not to startle kitty. Take extra care to make sure a blind kitty doesn't get outside without being on a harness and leash or inside a fully enclosed "catio."

Deaf cats may also be misdiagnosed as "anti-social" because they don't respond to aural stimuli. Some older cats can lose their hearing. They may become more dependent on their owners and seem more aggressive because they're constantly being surprised by possibly hostile stimuli. White cats with two blue eyes are often (but not always!) deaf.

Helping your deaf kitty is a little easier than with blind cats; make sure the cat stays indoors and wears a collar to tell people kitty is deaf...just in case. Deafness is not as obvious as blindness to someone who may find your deaf cat. They can feel vibrations, such as your footsteps or loud noises.

Cats who are both blind and deaf will rely more on their nose and whiskers for feedback about their environment. While these cats may need some adaptations on our part, they are like most specially abled cats in that they have a certain sense of ego and do not like to be babied too much! Let them do things for themselves as much as they can and resist the temptation to become a helicopter cat-parent.

Some shelters consider cats with diabetes or arthritis to be disabled. Diabetes requires careful management and frequent visits to the vet. You'll need to monitor kitty's blood sugar with blood testing and perhaps give insulin injections. Most diabetic cats need to be on a special diet. Be prepared to do these things if you adopt a diabetic cat.

Arthritis often occurs in older or geriatric cats. They may need help grooming and often benefit from raised dishes, lower-sided litter boxes so they don't have to step up, and ramps or steps to access perches off the ground. Be careful when handling these cats, to avoid causing pain in the affected joints.

With any disabled cat, it's advisable to have a microchip implanted and keep your contact information updated. This will help kitty find his way home to you, and may also alert any veterinarian or shelter to the cat's disability or medical condition.

Where to Find Specially Abled Cats

Many of the sources listed below have listings of disabled cats available for adoption. You can also check with your local shelter or humane society to let them know of your interest. If they don't have any special-needs cats available at the moment, ask if they can contact you when they get one. You may save that kitty's life!

To learn more about living with a specially abled cat, there are a few books you can read:

Adopting a cat with "special abilities" does require a little extra care and likely involves some expense. But if you are prepared to invest a little time and money in the endeavor, your payback will be immeasurable.

Sources: Pets with; "Living With a Disabled Cat" by Sarah Hartwell,;  "Adopting a Disabled Cat",; "I Am Still a Cat: I Photograph Disabled Cats To Show They're Still Awesome" by Monika Malek,; "Animals With Special Needs", HEART Animal Rescue & Adoption Team Inc.; Special Needs; National Specially Abled Pets Day's Facebook page.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Cancer in Cats: Holistic Prevention and Treatment

Cancer in Cats: Holistic Prevention and Treatment

Cancer is a diagnosis that faces an increasing number of cat owners. Our environment is filled with toxins, and who can begin to guess what's in most of the food we feed our kitties? But there are far more factors that impact our cats than most of us realize.

When cancer affects our own cats or those of our friends, we gain a heightened awareness of the causes and treatments available. Pictured above is adorable little Petie, a friend's cat who recently got the dreaded diagnosis. (More on him at the end of this post.)

Since it's National Cat Health Month, it's a good time to explore all modes of treatment available today. This includes the holistic approach, which is one I personally embrace. What luck to find an amazingly thorough new article on pet cancer by Dr. Jean Hofve!

Dr. Hofve addresses both the prevention and treatment of cancer from the standpoint of diet, water, vaccinations, environmental pollutants, electromagnetic radiation, flea control, stress, and exercise. Let's take a closer look at each:

Preventing Cancer Through Your Cat's Diet

While it's certainly easier to feed your cat a commercial cat food, these are far from optimal in safeguarding their health. Dr. Hofve recommends a "balanced, home-prepared diet of fresh, preferably organic, whole foods." Cats are obligate carnivores, and must have a meat-based diet to be healthy.

One of the main culprits in commercial cat foods is carbohydrates. Dr. Hofve cites them as a preferred feeder for cancer cells like lymphoma. Even many grain-free foods are loaded with carbs from sources such as potatoes or peas. Think about a cat in the wild: would potatoes or peas be natural foods a cat would seek? Of course not! Mainly protein, low-carb, and higher fat diets are typically recommended for cats with cancer.

If your cat is fighting cancer - or if you want to prevent it - stop feeding your cat dry food (kibble) at all. Can't stomach preparing a raw diet that includes organ meats at home? There are an increasing number of frozen raw cat foods available from your local pet store. Canned food is also preferable to dry. 

When buying canned cat foods, take a close look at the carbohydrate level, if it's present on the label: many of the high-gravy foods are loaded with carbs. An optimal diet for cats should contain no more than 10% carbohydrates. High-carb ingredients to avoid include grains (corn, wheat, oats), potatoes, and peas. Here's a link to a site that discusses cat food ingredients in more detail.

The Importance of Water in Preventing Feline Cancer

We all know that it's important for our cats to drink water for the health of their urinary tract. But the type of water you give your cat can also have an impact on cancer. How's the tap water in your area? Do you use a water softener or filter (or both) for your drinking water? Your cat should get the same.

According to Dr. Hofve, cats fighting cancer may benefit from receiving filtered or distilled water. In the wild, cats rarely drink water, receiving the moisture they need from bodily fluids of the prey they eat. A prey animal's body tends to contain 70% to 75% water. But our indoor cats always need fresh, clean water available. Flowing water from a fountain is a good way to encourage proper hydration.

Vaccinations' Role in Feline Cancer

I've previously written about the role of adjuvanted vaccinations in certain types of cancer. Dr. Hofve's article explains the dangers of over-vaccination. While many communities require an annual rabies vaccine, most other boosters are not needed. 

You can have your vet run a titer test (pronounced like "tighter") on your cat to see if any vaccinations need boosting instead of simply giving the entire spectrum of annual boosters. Always opt for the one-year rabies vaccine instead of the three-year. And the risk of an untreatable Vaccine-Associated Sarcoma (VAS) can be minimized by giving the injection in a hind leg. If a sarcoma develops, amputation of the leg can prevent the cancer from spreading, and most cats can live quite comfortably with only three legs. Don't want to risk it? Opt for the titer test.

Environmental Pollutants: Feline Carcinogens?

We're surrounded with chemicals in our modern world. Think about taking a large bucket and pouring all the cleaning products you use in your house into it, all mixed together. Would you dare? Not likely! The fumes and probable explosion would kill you and your cats, too. So why are you using these things?

Think about your cat's everyday activities. There may be some rolling around on the carpet, sitting in the windowsill to look out, plenty of walking around on floors...and lots of grooming. If your home is coated in the chemical residues of cleaners on all those surfaces, they get ingested by your cat during grooming. There are many cat-safe cleaners on the market you can use instead. If you're interested in even more, click here to email me and find out about buying directly from a company that makes all-natural cleaning and personal care products.

Do you use those plug-in air fresheners to make your home smell nice? Dr. Hofve reminds us that they're loaded with petrochemicals. Those aren't good for you or your kitties to be inhaling! Opt for a natural air cleaner such as the Critterzone. These actually remove odors from the air instead of covering them up, and ionize the air to freshen it like a rainstorm does.

If your cat goes out in the yard, consider the dangers from lawn chemicals. Try to use organic gardening methods. Here's an article that explains why and how.

There are also plants such as lilies that can be toxic when ingested. Here's a blog post that lists several cat-friendly plants and features for your garden. Try to keep your cat away from areas where cars are parked, in case any engine coolant leaks out; antifreeze is tempting to lick up, but deadly for any kitty who does.

Protecting Your Cats From Electromagnetic Radiation

This is a danger we seldom think about, but it does pose a danger to ourselves and our cats. In today's world we're surrounded by electronic devices. Each of them emit some radiation. Dr. Hofve reminds us that cats seek out warm places to sleep and may be drawn to the warmth of them.

We get more radiation if we're often near power lines, cell phone towers, utility cables, and even the electrical wiring in our homes. But who can live off the grid and completely without electrical power in today's society?

The light emitted by all our electronic devices can also interfere with normal sleep patterns. Since the body does a lot of healing during sleep, this could inhibit your cat's ability to fight off the cancer. Try to keep the room where your cats sleep as dark as possible to give kitty's body a chance to heal.

Safest Flea Control for Preventing Cancer

While traditional spot-on flea control products are highly effective, they are also filled with chemical pesticides. Over the years, toxins from them can build up in your cat's system. Dr. Hofve tells us that this "can contribute to the toxic sludge build-up in the extracellular matrix." Such a buildup can lead to illness or death.

But you don't want itchy fleas spreading disease on your cats, either, so what can you do? Fortunately many natural flea-control products are now available. A few we carry include Flea Away diatomaceous earth (DE) that can be sprinkled around your house, put on your cats, and even mixed into their food. Deadly to insects, it's harmless for your cats. Flea Away also makes a chewable pill form of DE.

Natural flea and tick control shampoos include those from EcoPure Naturals and Natural Chemistry. EcoPure Naturals also makes a spray form of flea and tick control. And there's the old tried-and-true flea comb, which may work fine if your cats stay indoors and are not around any other cats.

Can Stress Give Your Cat Cancer?

Many things can stress your kitty - any change in the household environment, introduction of a new family member (whether human or animal), outdoor animals prowling the cat's territory at night, loud noises in the neighborhood...and even your own stress. If you're feeling anxious, your cat knows that and internalizes it.

Can this lead to cancer? Absolutely! And not just in our cats, but also in ourselves. Prolonged stress is very harmful to the body. Doing some relaxation exercises, whether through meditation, prayer, yoga, tai chi, or other methods, may actually help your cat to relax.

Dr. Hofve also recommends relaxing your cat through energy therapies such as Reiki, the Tellington Ttouch method, massage, or flower essences. We feature many cat calming and soothing remedies in the Old Maid Cat Lady store. Another of her recommendations is for environmental enrichment products that stimulate your cat's intellect.

Feline Exercise and Cancer Prevention

Every cat needs some play time daily, and playing with you is high up on their list of joys. While playing on their own or with a companion is helpful, play time together helps you both in calming stress. Use some interactive toys to play with your cat daily. It cements the bond between you and builds trust.

Give your cat some ways to climb and get up off the floor. This is good exercise and healthy for the cat's mind, as well. There are cat trees that can do this, or if your floor space is limited, wall-mounted cat perches, shelves, and climbing systems can be constructed in almost any dwelling.

If your cat likes to go outside, try walking kitty on a harness and leash. This skill will take some time and patience to develop, but can be quite beneficial for you both. Walking a cat is not usually like walking a dog; they like to stand and sniff a lot more, so you'll find yourself with plenty of time to think and reflect on life. 

If you live in a neighborhood with too many dogs for this, a stroller may be a viable option. Some cats stress over going outside, but if you start them out young and take them out frequently, they may just start looking forward to it!

Holistic Cancer Treatments for Cats

Dr. Hofve's article covers many treatment modalities for feline cancer, in the event that your kitty does get this dreaded diagnosis. Whether you choose traditional (allopathic) medicine or an alternative approach, supplementing these treatments with a holistic treatment system using the methods described above can only improve your cat's chances for overcoming cancer. 

Old Maid Cat Lady offers numerous naturopathic, homeopathic, and other alternative remedies that may be helpful for your cat. Consult with your veterinarian before using anything, as some of them may interact with other treatments and their use should be managed in the overall approach to your cat's cancer.

More on Petie

Petie's veterinarian thinks he has either lymphoma or thymoma, leaning toward the latter. This is a rare type of cancer in cats that is treated with surgery. More testing is required before they will know for sure. 

While a cancer diagnosis is certainly scary, it's also quite expensive. Petie's mom has spent almost $4,000 so far on testing alone, and more will be required, in addition to the surgery, before her Petie is well. A fundraiser has been set up to help her cover these costs on Indiegogo, if you'd like to contribute.

Here's wishing Petie and all the other kitties out there who are fighting cancer a speedy recovery to optimal health. Try a holistic approach to your own cat's care to minimize risks of getting the dreaded diagnosis.

AN UPDATE: Little Petie has crossed the rainbow bridge. Sympathies and purrs of peace to his mama and fur siblings.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Moving With Cats

Moving With Cats

This has been an emotional time for me. I'm saying goodbye to what's been my family's home for 50 years. It's been my home since I was eight. Even during the years when I didn't live here, my parents did, so it's always been a "backup" address for me. Not so after February 22, when movers are coming to take all my things away after I sold the house to some of the developers among many who are transforming this small beach community into its next phase.

Moving is not fun anyway, but when you have cats involved, it ups the ante a little. We'll be moving into a friend's already-furnished condo for a few months while I find a new house and get it bought and prepped for us to move into. My furniture is going into storage until then. The Golden Boys, AKA Captain Roughy and Gilligan, have always been indoor cats since someone brought them to my local shelter and turned them in as strays when they were only four weeks old. This is really the only home they've known. How will they take to a new place?

They know something's up with all the boxes and my activities in packing to move. And they undoubtedly have been picking up on my heightened emotions, as well. They've remained close to me at all times. I'll occasionally see a concerned look on one of their faces as I'm trying to work out another of the challenges of moving while also keeping the retail site operational. As usual, when facing a new situation involving my cats, I'm taking it as an opportunity to write about the process in the hope that my experiences will help others facing the same thing.

Past Moves With Cats

When it comes to moving with my feline companions, this is not my first go-around. The first two cats I moved with went locally from one apartment to another, and then from Jacksonville to Atlanta with me and back a few years later. One, my little Vixen, was a dream to travel with. She was quiet in the car, seemed to enjoy being up high enough to look out the windows at the view, and would look to me for explanation and reassurance whenever we stopped.

My black kitty, however, was not an ideal traveler. He yowled the entire time - not too bad on a move from one neighborhood to another, but on the six-hour drive it got a bit monotonous. For the final 45 minutes of the drive he fell asleep, exhausted, in my lap with his head on my arm that was holding the steering wheel. "Please, God," I prayed through frazzled nerves, "don't let me have to turn this steering wheel and wake up this damned cat!"

Once in Atlanta, those two had a difficult adjustment period, with a couple months they had to live in the bathroom of a cousin's condo we were cleaning out for us to move into. My formerly beautiful house panther licked out most of the fur on his tummy and threw it up all over the bathroom. But once they had run of the whole place, they were fine. His tummy-fur grew back in and everything was just as it had been before.

Preparing For A New Housemate

But acclimating to a new location is not the only adjustment the Golden Boys will have to make. My friend has a mostly outdoor cat named Roz who comes inside to eat. Roz has a tipped ear, indicating that she's been part of a Trap-Neuter-Return colony at some point. With both of my friend's indoor cats now passed on, she's been reluctant to bring Miss Roz inside permanently. I've been feeding Roz whenever my friend has been out of town, just as she comes over and feeds the Golden Boys when I travel. So I know Roz and she's comfortable with me.

Roz, however, is also a bit skittish; I was visiting my friend, who's also packing to move herself, and the mere act of my ringing the doorbell freaked out the poor kitty so that she bolted for the door to get back outside. I'm hoping to be able to transition her to an indoor kitty so that my friend can eventually move Roz to her new home with her; she'd like to do that, but is afraid poor frightened Roz will try to get back to the area around the condos where she lives now. That happens a lot when cats are relocated against their will. And with multiple busy highways and the Intracoastal Waterway between the two locations, that would not likely end well for little Roz.

My boys are the cutest things ever when they groom each other and curl up together, but they're littermates who have been together every day of their lives. How will they react to a stranger who's suddenly in their living environment? Or, more accurately, when they're in hers? They can play rough, and they can be hostile when frightened, so I'm afraid they will try to chase poor Miss Roz out of her home, traumatized beyond the point of ever returning.

To prepare the Golden Boys, I've been talking to them and picturing Roz, telling them all about how nice she is, how we'll soon be living with her temporarily, and how they should be little gentlemen kitties to her. I picture them playing and even curled up in a bed together, all three of them. They don't seem to be listening, but I'm counting on repetition and my positive mindset when doing this to eventually get through.

We're also exchanging items that contain our cats' scents so that the others can get accustomed to them. I'm taking the rug out of my hallway, where the boys love to burrow and play, and a Cat Crib that's under a chair in my bedroom. A week from today, I'll be moving the boys' furniture and taking them over to the condo, so they'll have a week before the actual move to familiarize themselves with the other cats' scents.

If things get ugly, I also have their tall crate I can assemble in one of the condo's bedrooms and keep it up as a place of safe refuge - or forced separation - for them. Roz would be able to eat in peace, spend a little time inside, and perhaps even approach the boys when she's ready, on her own terms. I'm hoping that in the few months we're in the condo, her comfort level with the boys will rise. It would be delightful to see them all frolicking and playing together, with Roz content to live indoors all the time. That's the vision I've been sending to my boys.

As the process continues, I'll post more about what it's like in this move with my cats. We'll see how they do, and how they and Roz adjust to their brief period of cohabitation.

Oh, and another thing I've discovered: empty cat litter buckets make great containers for moving things like toiletries, cleaning supplies, and other small items! They hold a fair amount of weight, are waterproof, have a nice carrying handle and a lid that snaps shut. And they stack up quite nicely in the warehouse, with a sticker on the side telling me exactly what's in each of them. Makes me glad I had so many of them stacked up in the garage!