Thursday, August 25, 2011

Think You Can't Afford the Vet?

We all know that cats are quite adept at disguising the symptoms of illness until they're practically dead, right? So why is it that we don't take them to the vet as often as dogs?

CatChannel.com posed that very same question. You can give them your own response here. (Look on the left-hand side of the site for the poll; at this writing it was still this one.) These were the results when I took the poll:
  • 70.17% said "Not in my budget"
  • 12.88% said "Fear of the cat carrier"
  • 10.25% said "Do I need to go? I'm an indoor cat."
  • 6.70% said "Utter loathing of vet/vet's office"
The economy's been rough, so it's not hard to understand that people may have a problem affording vet fees. But catching a condition or disease early is often far cheaper than letting it develop into a much-more-expensive-to-treat situation. And vaccines not only prevent future expenses for treating the disease, but can even save your cat's life!

Costopedia, a site that gives average costs for pretty much anything, gave these figures for cat procedures at the vet:
  • Spaying: $100-$200
  • Neutering: $50-$100
  • Urinary tract reconstruction, including bladder, urethra & kidney: $1,399
  • Rectal cancer treatment (for malignant tumors within the large intestine): $1,011
  • Mast cell tumor removal: $497
  • Intestinal cancer treatment: $942
  • Hyperthyroidism radiation treatment: $920
  • Removal of ingested foreign items from stomach: $1,391
  • Fibrosarcoma (skin cancer) treatment: $780
  • Bladder stones removal: $989
  • Acute renal failure treatment: $565
Catching many of these conditions in a regular well-cat checkup at the vet is far preferable to allowing your cat to develop full-blown symptoms and enduring the full cost of treatment. If money is truly a problem the Humane Society of the United States offers a list of financial aid organizations for pet care. Every state has organizations offering free or reduced-cost spay and neuter surgeries, and usually vaccinations, as well.

Now, if you can just overcome that fear of the cat carrier, you'll be set!

Monday, August 22, 2011

It's Take Your Cat to the Vet Week!

How do you entice your cat into his carrier to go to the vet? Treats? Playing? Trickery and brute force?

Whatever method you use to get your cat in the carrier is only the first step in a dreaded series of tasks involved in getting regular veterinary checkups for your cat. After bandaging your wounds and finding the car keys, there's the yowling in the car, prying the cat out of the carrier at the vet, getting him back into it for the trip home, and the yowling on the drive home, followed by hours of sulking under the bed before things are even close to normal again...and kitty's still looking at you with suspicious glances for days afterward. Those with multiple-cat households have many times the trouble.

The American Veterinary Medical Association now recommends that cats get veterinary check-ups twice a year. This is especially true for senior cats, or those suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes, compromised kidney function, FIV, or FeLV. Yet the CATalyst Council and the American Humane Association have determined that our precious cats are taken to the vet only half as often as dogs! We only seem to take them when they're sick, not for regular preventive care. Perhaps it's all those above-mentioned hassles that deter us from going more often.

But cats tend not to show symptoms of illness until they're just about dead, so neglecting regular checkups can have dire consequences. Heartworms, severe renal failure, and advanced stages of cancer are just a few of the more serious (and expensive) ailments that can result from lack of well-cat veterinary visits.

To turn this trend around, Feline Pine founded Take Your Cat to the Vet Week in 2009. This recent USA Today article discussed how to make the visit less traumatic. Petfinder.com is commemorating the event this year with posts each day this week covering topics like:
  • How to get your cat to like his carrier
  • How to reduce the stress of traveling with your cat
  • How to keep your cat calm at the vet
  • How to get the most out of your vet appointment
  • Questions to ask at the vet
Petfinder is also posting links to the articles on their Facebook page all week. While they don't expect all of America's 30 million pet cats to get in to see the vet this week, they do hope that people will make appointments this week for a well-cat exam. How about you? Have you taken your cat to the vet recently? Maybe it's time.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

About Polish Pottery

OldMaidCatLady.com has recently added several raised cat dishes in lovely, elaborate folk-art designs. They’re a little pricey for cat dishes, and there’s a reason for that. Here’s the story behind these ultra-premium cat dishes:

Due to its plentiful natural clay deposits, the Silesia region of Poland has been known for its pottery and ceramics for centuries, with examples from the early Middle Ages having been uncovered in archaeological digs. Boleslaviec is one of the towns in which ceramic pieces have been made for over a thousand years. There, artisans hand craft pottery among the finest in the world. Potters in the town formed a guild way back in the early 17th century.

Over 200 years after the original potters’ guild in Boleslaviec, a master potter named Johann Gottlieb Altman developed a method of casting the pieces instead of throwing them on a wheel, as well as a lead-free glaze that opened the door to new designs including the repeating circles, flowers, and dots you see on the pieces available on OldMaidCatLady.com. After his innovations, larger pottery factories employing many artists arose in the town. Most of the area's factories and pottery schools were destroyed during World War II, but were enthusiastically rebuilt afterward to return to their former excellence. One of the oldest and largest factories in Boleslaviec is multi-award-winning Zaklady Ceramiczne Boleslaviec, from which our pieces originate.

The high content of feldspar and silicon, as well as the great density, of the clay in this region put it in a class by itself for making into strong, durable stoneware. Once shaped and fired at very high temperatures (2,246° Farenheit!), it becomes porous and ready for glazing. A second firing sets the glaze in place and makes the pieces watertight. In our modern world, that also makes them microwave-, freezer- and dishwasher-safe. (Although you should avoid going directly from one temperature extreme to another with them, or the glaze may crack. The factory recommends letting a piece that has been in the refrigerator or freezer warm to room temperature before heating it.)

Intricate decoration in predominant colors of cobalt blue and creamy white are one of the distinctive characteristics of today’s Polish pottery. Three artists -- Julius Paul, Hugo Reinhold and Carl Werner -- revolutionized design again around the turn of the last century by using more brilliant colors, stenciling, and different types of finishes. Recurring motifs in contemporary pieces include the classic dots and florals, windmills, speckles and the popular “peacock’s eye”. They are painted onto each piece by hand using sponge stamps and brushes. The artists' punch technique is unique to ceramics made in Boleslaviec. The style of today’s pieces draws from Polish, Czech, and German traditions and is known in German as Bunzlauer Geschirr.

In the Zaklady factory's line, there are four levels of patterns, each a little more elaborate and difficult to create than the one below it. They are "Classic", "Upper Classic" or "Upper Standard", "DU" or "Subtle", and "Artistic" or "Unikat (unique) Signature". The raised cat dishes we feature are from the first three groups. While patterns in the Unikat line are gorgeous, our supplier felt that the cost of them would be prohibitive for most people buying cat dishes, no matter how spoiled their cats are!

People collect Polish pottery all over the world, with many early pieces being shown in museums. There has been great interest among U.S. collectors lately in Polish pottery, and many pieces are created for everyday use as well as collecting. Each dish is still hand crafted, with mugs and cups selling for $20-$40 apiece. Specialty plates can sell for $500 or more! Now, don’t the pieces we have on OldMaidCatLady.com seem like a bargain?

To take a look at the Polish pottery raised cat dishes we offer, follow these links: We have eight Standard and Upper Standard designs of raised cat dishes, as well as three Subtle pattern raised cat dishes with more intricate designs. All are in limited supply, so order quickly for the best selection!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

About Cigarette Cards

One of the newest suppliers we have on OldMaidCatLady.com sells groups of reproduction cigarette cards depicting cats! You can get the cards in various groupings, depending on the amount of wall space and your d├ęcor. But what’s the story behind these little miniature pieces of art? Picture cards are actually interesting glimpses of history.

In today’s American society, it’s hard to believe that smoking was once so popular, but there was a time when virtually all men smoked, and plenty of women did so in private, as well. British and American tobacco companies began placing collectible cards in packages of cigarettes in the late 1800s. The practice was an effective marketing tactic that became popular worldwide.

The tiny cards were similar to the baseball cards kids collect from packages of bubble gum, but the subjects went way beyond sports stars. They featured military generals, thoroughbred horses, fish, songbirds, fruits, automobiles, flags, movie stars, ships, gangsters, historic homes...you name it, there was probably a series of cards depicting it! Posters in tobacco stores promoted the various series to shoppers. Collectors’ albums tying in with each theme, into which the cards could be glued, could also be ordered from the companies.

Some of the originals of the reproductions we feature were made for British company John Player & Sons, more commonly known as simply “Player’s”. This company was one of the first to offer pre-packaged tobacco. Before that time, people bought dried tobacco leaves loose from tobacconists and rolled their own cigarettes. Player’s was also one of the first companies to offer picture cards in their packs of cigarettes, generally in sets of 50 that smokers would collect one at a time.

While some cigarette cards were photographs, some were lithographs; others added a special type of ink that would give the subjects particular qualities -- for example, silver ink might be used to depict scales on fish. The cat collections are some of the rarest around, so you’re not likely to find originals for sale very often. The cat head portrait collection dated from 1936. Two other collections we feature depict full-bodied portraits of cats, some portrait style (taller than wide), and some landscape (wider than tall).

Companies stopped producing cigarette cards in the 1940s, to conserve paper during World War II. Collectible cards remained in only non-tobacco products like baking soda and chewing gum until R.J. Reynolds re-introduced some for their Doral brand of cigarettes in 2000.

Many of the original cards are traded on sites like eBay. They’ve become quite popular collectibles, and are graded for value by several collectors’ organizations. While a lot of them are very affordable, rare cards sell for much more. The most expensive cigarette card (so far) sold for $2.8 million in 2007! Many collectors keep them in specially made plastic sheets that fit into three-ring binders or individually in semi-rigid plastic savers. There are even magazines called The Wrapper and Non-Sport Update where collectors can read all about their cards and network with other collectors to buy and sell.

The cards we’re featuring are reproductions of these old collectibles, but are every bit as beautiful. They’ll also hold up better than the originals, and are mounted in acid-free mattes to help preserve them. They arrive ready for you to frame to your taste. You’ll love to add them to the walls of your home’s den, library or living room!

See our collections of cats on reproduction cigarette cards here. The cards come in sets of 6, 9, 12, and 20, mounted, matted & ready for framing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Horror of Rabies


The Horror of Rabies

Most of us remember seeing horror movies with rabid dogs chasing frightened villagers, or perhaps the heartbreaking scene in Old Yeller when the family dog must be shot after contracting rabies. But dogs aren't the only pets who can get rabies; your cats, and even you, can get it! Here's what you need to know to stay safe.

What is Rabies?

Rabies is caused by a virus in the Lyssavirus genus that can attack all mammals. It's most often transmitted by the bite of an animal who has contracted it. Wild mammals like raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes represent the vast majority of cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control each year, mainly because these animals haven't been vaccinated against it. Interestingly, small rodents, including squirrels, rats and mice, almost never contract rabies.

This disease has been with us for a long time, too. Instructions for rabies prevention, along with fines imposed for the owners of rabid dogs who bit other humans, are found in the Codex of Eshnunna in Mesopotamia around 1930 BC. Rabies was a particular problem in 1800s Europe, where more people were living closely with dogs. Primitive attempts at inoculation were made by "branding" dogs with a special object after cauterizing a bite wound with it proved effective in preventing the disease in one dog.

After an animal has been bitten by another with rabies, the virus travels to the brain through the peripheral nerves. Mild flu-like symptoms may occur. After a short incubation period, the central nervous system becomes infected. The virus rapidly replicates itself in the brain, where the blood-brain barrier prevents anti-viral immune cells from entering to stop it. The brain and spinal cord swell with the disease (encephalitis) and the animal will die from it, usually within a few days.

Symptoms of rabies, once it has incubated, include cerebral dysfunction, growing anxiety, confusion, abnormal behavior and fear. These behavioral changes take place over a one- to three-day period known as the prodromal stage.

In the second "excitative" stage, the animal will become more aggressive, hallucinating and overreacting to any stimuli. This is when the danger of biting is most severe. From the central nervous system, the virus travels into all the other organs, and can be found in high concentrations in the salivary glands. This leads to the foaming of the mouth so associated with rabies, and is one of the reasons for transmission through bites. The virus also causes the tear ducts in the eyes to overproduce tears.

By the third, paralytic, stage, partial paralysis sets in as the motor neurons of the body become damaged by the virus. Rear leg paralysis will cause the animal to stagger and stumble. Drooling and difficulty swallowing result from paralysis of muscles in the face and throat. Unless euthanized first, the animal will die when the respiratory muscles become paralyzed and it can no longer breathe.

Rabies Prevention

Luckily, this horrible disease is completely preventable. The vaccine for it was invented in 1885 by Louis Pasteur and Emile Roux. Most cities require that pets be vaccinated annually for rabies, and some are even using a recombinant vaccine successfully to inoculate wildlife by putting it in baits. And yet, there are still one or two people every year who die from rabies in the United States. Most deaths from rabies worldwide occur in Asia and Africa.

Some veterinarians are encouraging their patients to get a newer rabies vaccine that lasts for three years instead of the traditional one year. However, this vaccine has been linked to an increased incidence of cancerous tumors at the injection site, and is no longer recommended by veterinary experts.

If you or your cat are bitten or scratched by an animal suspected to have rabies, it is critical that the wound be thoroughly washed as quickly as possible with a solution of water, soap, and povidone iodine to kill as much of the virus as possible. The suspected animal should be safely captured and held for rabies testing. If you are the one bitten, you should seek immediate vaccination or administration of rabies immunoglobulin to kill any of the virus in your system. The incubation period for a human can be up to a year, so you're not necessarily safe if you don't develop symptoms within a few days. Better safe than sorry!

To protect your cats from exposure to rabies, don't let them roam outdoors, where they will encounter other animals (domestic or wild). Get them vaccinated for rabies annually, whether or not your city requires it. And if they do get outside, get any wounds cleansed as soon as you find them to minimize all types of infection, not just rabies.

With rabies so well controlled for more than a generation, it's easy to forget that it was once a serious threat to public health, as well as animal welfare, in our country. But the virus still exists. All it takes is getting too comfortable and neglecting proper precautionary measures to allow it to regain a foothold. Don't let your cat become a rabies statistic!