Tuesday, September 20, 2011

It's Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week!

Did you know that black cats have a much lower likelihood of being adopted from shelters? It's true! Those beautiful "house panthers" are often overlooked by people who think they're evil or bad luck. The same holds true for cats who are seniors, amputees, diabetic, FIV+, blind, deaf, or with other disabilities.

My first cat was a black cat. He was a delightful and loving boy who died of kidney failure at age 11. Now I live with a geriatric tortie, age 23, whose gentleness and wisdom also bring me much joy. We had another cat who died from FIP, but his love and exuberance for life gave us so much pleasure in the five years or so he lived with us. Is there extra time and care required with these special cats? Of course, but when you make the commitment to an animal, you do it. Those cats have all been my family, and I'm a better person for having shared my life with them.

Older cats are actually very nice companions. They're less rambunctious than kittens or younger cats, wiser and more dignified. They have their little quirks, but don't we all! And while checking a diabetic cat's blood sugar and dispensing insulin shots can be a chore, it's actually easier than trying to give any cat a pill.

Cats with disabilities can usually live their lives just as normally as unimpaired cats. Those missing a leg can climb and run just like normal. There was even a story on Alan Thicke's "Animal Miracles" show of a cat who drove a burglar out of the house while her owners slept...and she was completely blind! So there's no reason for these "less-adoptable" cats to be euthanized by the thousands just because someone has to make a judgement call on which cats are more likely to find homes. And yet, they are.

So Petfinder.com has dubbed this week, September 17-25, as Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week. (Yes, that's actually nine days, but there are a lot of "less adoptable" animals in shelters.) They want to draw people's attention to all the overlooked, the less-than-perfect, the mistakenly maligned in our shelters, and ask you to take another look at them. Look beyond the flaws, and see the soul inside. That's where you'll find the real beauty in any animal.

For more information on Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable Pet Week, go to Petfinder's web page on it. You'll find promos there you can share on your websites and blogs. And make a trip to your local shelter to see who's waiting for you there.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Watching the Weight...Both Ways

Watching the Weight...
Both Ways

With feline obesity at record levels (as my late Frankie here illustrated in showing off his big belly), we're all pretty much aware that we need to be concerned if our cats are getting too fat. But what if they're getting too skinny?

Weight loss in cats can be due to a number of health issues that are also causes for concern. If your cat seems noticeably lighter when you pick her up for a cuddle, it could be due to:
  • parasites
  • hyperthyroidism
  • diabetes
  • food allergy
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • an intestinal tumor
  • periodontal disease
  • feline leukemia
  • feline AIDS
My own little Vixen started losing weight, despite wanting to eat all the time and being fed multiple times throughout the day. At her advanced age (23!), a hyperactive thyroid is the likely culprit. She's been on a kidney diet for years, so her kidneys are already compromised. But her teeth aren't good any more, either, so perhaps that's it. An exam and blood tests at the vet are the only way to be sure. But cats as old as mine are still rare, so she gets a little of the dismissive treatment my mother also experienced toward the end of her life. The unspoken message is, "You've lived a long life, so congratulations! We don't know how to treat someone your age, and can't be bothered with trying to find the source of your discomfort, knowing that you may not live much longer anyway." Hopefully, as cats living into their 20s become more commonplace, more research will be done on geriatric cat conditions and more vets will specialize in geriatric veterinary medicine.

A recent article by veterinarian and radio talk-show host Dr. Heidi Bassler discussed sudden weight loss in cats. Dr. Bassler wrote:

Remember that cats are small creatures, so small weight changes are important. Ounces are significant, and pounds are alarming. A 15-pound cat that loses only 1.5 pounds has lost 10 percent of his body weight.
Cats make their own rules, and they are masters of disguise.
Unexplained weight loss may be the only obvious sign that Fluffy is in the early stages of serious illness. Very often, these cats are still playful, interactive, eating and drinking. But inside their bodies, something is changing so that they are not able to process food for energy as they have in the past.

Obviously, if your cat is losing weight, a trip to the veterinarian is the first step. Once your vet has determined the cause of kitty's sudden new svelteness, a visit to Old Maid Cat Lady's Health Time page may be in order. We carry natural and homeopathic remedies for a variety of ailments, as well as products to help cats gain weight, as well as lose it. Most importantly, don't ignore unexplained weight loss. It could be serious.