Friday, November 11, 2011

Feline Digestive Health News

"...and they're ALL empty!"

Cat Vomiting

Cats vomit. Frequently. It's a fact of living with kitties, right?

Not so fast. Cade Wilson, DVM, was quoted in a recent Veterinary Practice News article as saying, "Parasites, digestive disturbances and food allergies are the most commonly seen GI issues. But giardia and GI cancer are other conditions that require more work to treat." Dr. Wilson treats both dogs and cats at Carter County Animal Hospital in Ardmore, Oklahoma. Gastrointestinal cases can represent up to a fourth of all the patient care provided by primary care vets and those who specialize in internal medicine.

"The GI tract serves to protect the body by digesting and absorbing essential nutrients critical for health and by providing non-immunological barriers and immunological defenses against bacteria and toxins attempting to enter the body from the outside world," said Dorothy Laflamme, DVM, in the same article. Laflamme is a veterinary nutrition communication specialist at Nestlé Purina PetCare Research. Okay, so digestive upsets aren't just an annoying occurrence that make a mess you have to clean up off the floor; your cat's digestive system is critical to his overall health.

But how do you know when kitty's just hacking up a hairball, and when it could be a symptom of something more serious? According to Laflamme, the following symptoms in a cat might seem normal, but could indicate serious health problems:

  • weight loss
  • constipation
  • rumbling stomach
  • flatulence
  • depression
  • lethargy
  • abdominal pain
  • loss of appetite
  • frequent vomiting
This is especially true in cats, who mask their symptoms of weakness or disease as a natural survival instinct. And people who tend to keep cats because they're "low maintenance" may not interact closely enough with them to recognize symptoms that mean trouble.

Dr. Christopher G. Byers is an internist at MidWest Veterinary Specialty Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska. He feels that vets don't sufficiently educate pet parents about gastrointestinal health because they simply don't have the time. Even by devoting an hour to new patient consultations, Byers finds it hard to educate people as much as he'd like. So it falls to the responsible cat parent to read up and be aware of what impacts their kitty's GI tract.

A cat who vomits up his food after eating may have the problem solved by simply raising the feeding dish. If your cat suffers from megaesophagus, a condition in which the esophagus becomes enlarged and "floppy", bending down to eat can cause food to back up in his esophagus instead of passing through it to the stomach. Simply raising the dish so your cat doesn't have to bend down to reach it allows gravity to pull the food on through and can alleviate the vomiting.

Probably the most common reason cats have chronic vomiting and diarrhea is inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD. This is not really one disease, but a group of them that cause the cells of a cat's intestinal wall to become inflamed. The most common form of IBD is often brought on by injury or an infection, but can also be caused by factors like parasites, food intolerance, a fungus, or cancer that stimulate the body's immune system, irritating and weakening the intestinal lining. This causes a condition known as lymphocytic-plasmacytic enteritis, or LPE. It most often affects older cats, and can range from mild to severe intensity. But its symptoms can be mimicked by many other GI disorders.

The Basics: Proper Cat Food = Better Digestive Health

Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that they must consume meat or fish to be healthy. They need more protein than do dogs. While some cat parents try to impose vegan diets on them, these are not in a cat's best interest. If a cat does not get sufficient protein in his diet, his body will begin breaking down its own muscles to get it. A proper feline diet needs to include six essential classes of nutrients:

  1. Water, generally 2.5 times the amount of water as food
  2. Proteins, including 11 essential amino acids
  3. Fats, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
  4. Carbohydrates (this includes fiber)
  5. Vitamins
  6. Minerals, 12 of which are essential for cats.

The cat's stage of life must also be considered. Kittens need more calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals than do adult cats. And senior cats need less calories, more easily digested food with high-grade proteins, and maybe a supplement that includes essential fatty acids.

Dietary therapy is used to address a number of GI conditions. IBD can be caused by certain ingredients in the cat's food, and trying different diets is a way to pinpoint those ingredients so they can be avoided. A more easily digestible food can give the intestinal tract a chance to recover from infection or flare-ups of chronic conditions.

New foods are now on the market to promote gastrointestinal health. Some contain probiotics. Changing a cat's diet will affect the number and type of friendly bacteria that live in the intestines to help the cat digest his food and contribute to proper immune system functioning. Probiotics replace these. Research has indicated that probiotics can help combat both stress and dietary changes in pets. Dr. Steffen Sum of the University of Georgia's veterinary medicine college says they use them regularly after antibiotics have been given, or if an animal has eaten something that causes GI upset.

In pets afflicted with diarrhea, there are many ingredients that can help. These include zeolite, a porous mineral used to combat watery stools. The substance absorbs 50% of its volume in water. "IBD often has a frustrating and prolonged regulating period balancing diet and medication," said Dr. Richard Goldstein of Cornell University in the Veterinary Practice News article. "This comes after a sometimes difficult-to-determine diagnosis."

Breed-Specific Worries

Some purebred cats are predisposed to certain types of GI problems. For example, Manx cats tend toward chronic constipation, which can lead to an extreme enlargement of the lower intestine known as megacolon. Several breeds are more likely to get chronic stomatitis, a painful inflammation of the mouth and gums that can cause them to eat insufficient amounts to stay healthy. These include the Abyssinian, Burmese, Himalayan, Siamese, and Persian breeds.

Proper nutrition can help stabilize some genetic diseases in purebred cats. Abyssinian and Somali cats, for example, tend to get a disease known as pyruvate kinase deficiency. This weakens their red blood cells, making afflicted cats anemic and sickly. A diet that includes more liver should help by providing additional iron in the diet.

Learning all you can about your purebred cat will help you address his special needs with the proper diet. While you may be tempted to jump in and buy an unusual-looking cat after seeing it at a cat show, do some research first to make sure that breed's personality fits your lifestyle and you can handle the expense and emotional toll of caring for any health problems the cat may likely experience it his lifetime. And if you've made such an investment to acquire a pedigreed cat, you certainly don't want to scrimp on his food!

Better Diagnosis of Feline GI Problems

Some new testing and diagnostic tools are becoming available that your vet can use in-house to more easily identify what's causing kitty's upset tummy. This avoids the delay (and expense) of sending tests off to a lab and waiting anxiously for the results to come back.

Endoscopy cannot reach all areas of the intestinal tract, so if your cat has a blockage beyond its reach, surgery may be necessary to determine what's causing the problem. Capsule endoscopy is currently used only by human doctors, as its newness makes it too cost-prohibitive for veterinary use. In this technique, the patient swallows a tiny wireless camera that transmits photos of its journey through the digestive system, enabling doctors to actually see inside the patient's GI tract. In time, costs for the technology will drop to a level that make it a viable diagnostic method for vets.

Ultrasound can also help vets see inside your cat's tummy. It is often used prior to surgery to pinpoint the problem area and get a better idea what the vet will be facing once inside the cat's abdomen. Many new medical tools originally designed for humans are making their way into the veterinary arena.

Digestive issues in your cat can be tricky to diagnose, but could become much more serious if not addressed early. While this post is not an exhaustive list of all the issues that can affect the feline GI system, hopefully it has made you more aware of potential issues to watch for, and the role of proper nutrition in keeping your cat healthy.

Help for Kitty's Tummy has several probiotic products to help keep your kitty's digestive tract in optimal health. These include Felinedophilus paste and Gastro Vegi-dophilus food additive. Cats short on digestive enzymes may benefit from Pancreas Booster.

We also have raised dishes, from solid-color designs to fancy Polish pottery. These work by mechanically keeping your cat's mouth higher than the stomach, so gravity won't pull food back up.

For cats recovering from a GI problem, Digestive Support helps soothe tissues and improves the absorption of nutrients. Intestinal parasites can be purged from your cat's system by WRM Clear Feline, Paraclenz, or Parasite Dr. If your cat is constipated, Natural Moves may help him return to the litter box. At the other end of the spectrum, RuniPoo can help control chronic diarrhea. Flatulence Preventer can relieve chronically gassy kitties. Several digestive issues are addressed by HomeoPet's Digestive Upsets.

Several hairball remedies and cat grass kits are also available in our full Health Time section. But in all instances of gastric upset, make a visit to your vet to be sure the symptom isn't being caused by a more serious problem first.

Click here to read the full Veterinary Practice News article quoted in this post

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Avoiding The Four Causes of Kitty "Flu"

Four Causes of Kitty "Flu"

We're all being told to go out and get our annual flu shots about the time of year, but can our cats get the flu? Oh, yes, they can...but there are also a few feline diseases with similar symptoms. Let's take a more in-depth look at the four causes of "cat flu" and how you can avoid them:

1. Panleukopenia (Feline Distemper)

Although unrelated to the canine distemper virus, panleukopenia is often referred to by this name. It is actually related to the canine parvo virus. Its symptoms are more like a stomach flu.

Symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea that is not related to anything the cat may have eaten. You may, however, mistake them for poisoning. An infected cat will get dehydrated, appear depressed & feverish, and lose his appetite. The cat's body temperature will then drop below normal and he will show signs of pain when the stomach area is pressed. These symptoms will appear within 3-5 days after your cat becomes infected. Typically, the younger the cat, the more severe the symptoms. A kitten's stomach may bloat and he may experience seizures as he rapidly fades into shock and dies, even before the vomiting and diarrhea appear. When it does happen, in a few days, the vomit may contain bile, and the very stinky poop may be bloody or mucousy. 

Kitty's white blood cell count will fall critically low as the virus attacks the bone marrow that produces the white blood cells to fight infection. The virus also destroys the lining of the intestines, causing ulcers there that contribute to the digestive distress. It typically attacks kittens or young cats not yet vaccinated against it, making it actually more common in spring and summer than in the typical "flu season". Pneumonia may set in as a secondary infection. 

There is no treatment for this virus, but the symptoms may be treated as they occur. Hospitalization is required. Food and water are generally withheld, with IV fluids given instead to combat dehydration and rebalance electrolytes. The cat must be kept warm to counter the drop in body temperature. Medicines to control the vomiting and diarrhea can help. Antibiotics may fight any secondary bacterial infections, but sick kitties are also susceptible to secondary viral and fungal infections. In some cases a blood or plasma transfusion may be necessary. The longer a cat can survive the symptoms, the better his chance of surviving the disease.

Panleukopenia is highly contagious, and is spread through direct contact with infected cats or their bodily fluids and waste. Cats who have the virus are able to infect other cats for up to six weeks, and it can survive on surfaces for years! This includes surfaces like beds, dishes, toys, carriers/crates, and litter boxes as well as floors...essentially, anything in your home, as well as your own hands, clothing and shoes...even fleas. Thorough scrubbing with a 1:20 bleach-water solution is the only way to kill this hardy virus. Steam can help with fabrics or surfaces that cannot be bleached, but only if the steam reaches a temperature of 240-270 degrees F.

But fortunately, there is a vaccine that protects cats from this terrible virus! It's part of the vaccine that also protects against the other "kitty flu" diseases, and is considered a must-have in the vaccination department...more about that below. Most cats who get feline distemper these days are unvaccinated cats in shelters or feral colonies. Raccoons can also contract it, so if your cat goes outside, be aware of this.

Cats who survive this disease for five days and whose symptoms seem to stabilize may actually recover and be immune to panleukopenia for the rest of their lives. Sadly, about 75% of the kittens who get it will not survive, many not even lasting twelve hours after it sets in. They are most susceptible to it after 11 weeks of age, when they stop receiving natural antibodies in their mother's milk. If a pregnant queen contracts this virus, she could lose her litter. Her kittens who do survive could have severe brain damage that causes lack of coordination, tremors, and jerkiness in movements, or even blindness. Vaccination of pregnant queens could have the same effect, so it is not recommended.

Two other serious feline viruses can produce flu-like symptoms in cats, as well, so read on!

2. Feline Calicivirus (FCV)

This begins with an upper respiratory infection with symptoms like a head cold. It has a long incubation period; symptoms will start appearing about two weeks after your cat's initial exposure to it. Your cat will have a runny nose and eyes, drooling from excessive salivation, and labored breathing. There is usually no sneezing. The mouth becomes inflamed and mouth ulcers will erupt, causing kitty to lose his appetite as eating becomes painful. Loss of his sense of smell will also make food unappealing. Kitty's eyes will be become red and swollen, and there will likely be fever. Similar to the aches and pains we get with the flu, the cat may develop aches in several joints.

There is a variation of the disease known as VS-FCV (virulent systemic feline calicivirus), which is much more contagious and severe. Up to 2/3 of all cats who contract it will not survive, and it kills more adult cats than kittens. The above symptoms may be accompanied by vomiting and lethargy and a high fever. As the disease progresses, your cat may have swelling in the legs and face that causes him to limp. Blood vessels in the kidneys swell and can cause renal failure This will be followed by jaundice as significant damage from the virus causes major organ failure. Ulcers can appear on the face, nose, ears, and paw pads. Pneumonia may set in, as well.

While antibiotics can be used to treat secondary infections that may attack your cat while its immune system is trying to fight off FCV, there is no treatment for the virus itself. Encourage plenty of water drinking, and feed very aromatic food to keep the body nourished. Cats may need to be hospitalized and given fluids, especially if they are vomiting or not drinking enough water to stay hydrated. A humidifier or vaporizer and oxygen support will help with breathing. Keep the room warm, but ventilated and minimize drafts. You may use a saline spray in the nose to clear the nasal passages. Mouth ulcers and lesions can be treated topically to reduce pain, and swelling in the limbs is addressed with anti-inflammatory drugs.

After a cat recovers from this virus, he is likely to become a lifetime carrier of it who will always be shedding the virus in his bodily secretions and could infect other cats. In stressful situations, the cat may once again display some of the symptoms of the disease. A qualitative PCR test can be done by your vet once your cat has recovered from the initial outbreak to determine if this is the case. If it is, you should minimize stress in that cat's environment as much as possible, or perhaps use a calming product such as Feliway's scent diffuser or a soothing supplement like HomeoPet's Anxiety Relief or Natural Pet Stress Control.

The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids, or on surfaces such as dishes, litter boxes, bedding, carriers, etc., so complete isolation is a good idea while kitty is sick. Wash dishes with a bleach and hot water solution after every meal. The virus is usually being shed for about two weeks around this time, and can live on surfaces outside the cat's body for 8-10 days. Be careful of spreading it yourself from petting or brushing your cat. Always wash your hands afterward and sterilize any toys, combs, brushes, etc. that have come in contact with the infected cat. If your cat is in the hospital, that's a good time for a thorough house cleaning. Use the same bleach-water solution described above. Regular household disinfectants do not eliminate the virus. And if your cat is a lifelong carrier, it's a good idea to repeat this sterilization every so often, especially if you plan to bring additional cats into your home.

Luckily, there is a vaccine to protect cats from FCV, described below. While there are risks with the vaccination, they are far lower than without it. After age three, most cats who do contract FCV experience milder symptoms. However, kittens are definitely at risk. While the vaccine will not absolutely ensure that your cat won't get FCV, it will lessen the symptoms and improve the chance of recovery. 

Upper respiratory infections in cats who contract FCV may be complicated by co-infection with the next kitty flu-causing virus...

3. Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR)

This infection is caused by the feline herpes virus type 1, and is sometimes referred to as feline influenza. This virus is responsible for about half the upper respiratory tract infections in cats. It is more dangerous in kittens and older cats, and may possibly even be fatal. The symptoms are similar to FCV, with runny nose and eyes, fever up to 106 degrees F, depression, and lack of appetite. Main difference: there is also sneezing with this. These symptoms may go away within 2-4 weeks, but secondary infections stemming from an overloaded immune system could cause them to linger long afterward. More severe outbreaks could last up to six weeks.

Some cats with a variation known as FHV-1 may develop ulcers around the eyes and nose or on the skin. The eyes may either produce a great quantity of tears or become very dry, and will appear bloodshot. FHV-1 can cause permanent damage to tissues in both the nose and sinuses, leading to chronic bacterial upper respiratory infections. Pregnant queens may lose their litters if infected with it during pregnancy.

The feline herpes virus is spread by contact with the infected cat's saliva, tears, and nasal mucous, as well as on surfaces such as bowls, litter boxes, bedding, etc. What's more, the cat will continue to shed the virus following infection. Once infected, the virus remains in the cat's nerve cells in a dormant phase and can infect other cats for the rest of his life. Even though the cat exhibits no symptoms, he will still be shedding the virus. And stress may bring on another outbreak of it.

As with FCV, antibiotics can be used to treat secondary infections in cats afflicted with FVR or FHV-1, but there is no treatment for the virus itself. You may have to encourage eating to keep the body properly nourished for recovery. The amino acid L-lysine has been used to lessen its severity, as well as minimize future outbreaks. There is a paste form of it specifically for veterinary use that has been flavored to appeal to cats. More seriously affected cats may need fluids, oxygen support or feeding support. These can be given at home to a point, although hospitalization may be necessary if the outbreak is severe.

Obviously, prevention is better than trying to treat a cat with these symptoms. While there is no vaccine for FVR, there is one for FHV-1, and it is highly recommended. It will lessen the severity and reduce shedding of the virus. As for disinfecting surfaces touched by the infected cat, most household disinfectants do the trick with this one. But if you're already using the bleach-water solution necessary to kill the other two, it'll also work on this virus.

4. Human Cats?

There has never been a documented case of cats transmitting any of the above diseases to humans. But just because we can't catch the flu from our cats doesn't mean that the opposite is true. Your cat can actually catch the H1N1 strain of influenza from you. Cats can also contract H5N1, the "bird flu", from eating uncooked poultry or wild birds infected with it.

If you get the flu, use traditional hygiene practices to keep from spreading it to kitty, including hand washing, covering your mouth during sneezes and coughs, and quarantining yourself away from your cat. This may not please Puff, but it's better than trying to treat a sick cat when you're still under the weather yourself!

Obviously, if your cat exhibits the symptoms described above for any of these diseases, a trip to the vet is essential. This will help identify exactly what your cat is facing and determine the course of treatment.

An Ounce of Prevention

The vaccine for all three of the above viruses is known as FVRCP, which stands for the three diseases it covers. They are available via injection or intranasal spray. Make sure your cat gets this vaccine at an early age. The first inoculation can be given at 6-8 weeks, with follow-ups every three weeks until 12 weeks of age. Do this, and you'll hopefully avoid all the nastiness described above. The vaccine will last for at least three years. Keep newly vaccinated cats isolated from possibly sick cats or carriers for two weeks after vaccination. A booster can be given every three years, but immunity to panleukopenia is generally lifetime once the cat has been vaccinated or has survived the disease.

Upper respiratory infection is also the symptom of the first stage of the "wet" version of feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), an always-fatal disease with no vaccine, treatment, or method of diagnosis. So be aware of that and read up on FIP so you can watch for the later stages. We did an entry about FIP here.

Some of the products we offer on may help with the symptoms if your cat contracts the flu. They include FCV Protect, FeliSafe, and ProsPet Drops. For sanitizing the floors in your home after illness, try the Euroflex Monster Floor Steamer. But be aware that these are supportive treatments only, and none of them are a substitute for a visit the veterinarian if your cat is sick. Keeping your cat healthy through a proper diet and regular well-vet checkups and vaccinations is the surest path to avoiding kitty flu.

Sources for this story included WebMD,,,,,,,,,,, and

Thursday, November 3, 2011

8 Tips To Keep Your Cat From Being the Next "Jack"

Welcome Back, Jack!

It was fantastic news that Jack, the cat who got lost in transit at JFK Airport in New York, was finally found! At this writing, Jack was still receiving veterinary care for fatty liver disease and muscle wasting from not eating for so long, but he survived his ordeal and will soon be reunited with his doting momma, Karen, who has been updating his fans via Jack's Facebook page.

Sadly, not all pets who fly are as lucky as Jack. 39 of them died in transit on U.S. airlines last year, up from only 23 the year before. While those numbers aren't staggering in light of the thousands of animals who fly each year, if yours was one of the animals who died, they most certainly become so. And in light of the hefty fees airlines charge for transporting animals, that kitty arrives alive should be a minimal expectation.

Problems with Air Travel for Cats

The trauma of flying affects all the animals transported, even those who make it to their destinations apparently unharmed. Unless otherwise arranged prior to flight, animals in carriers travel in the plane's luggage area. While it is supposed to be heated and ventilated, sound insulation there is not as great as in the passenger cabin, and temperatures can plummet if the heating is not turned on or not working properly. Short-nosed breeds like Persians and Exotics may have trouble breathing. And prior to being loaded onto the plane, animal carriers can sit for hours on luggage transport carts or the tarmac in heat or cold if there's a flight delay. There are even stories of some cruel airline baggage handlers taunting pets in containers for their own amusement.

Noises and smells of strange people, places and jet exhaust, especially while separated from his owner, can be highly disturbing to a cat who doesn't understand what this is all about. Such upsets can cause the cat to vomit up any food he eats or water he drinks, which can present a choking hazard at worst, and an uncomfortable environment for the rest of the trip at best. If your cat's carrier is damaged or comes apart from all the jostling about, your frightened cat could escape and hide, which is what happened to Jack, or run away to someplace that puts his life in danger from traffic, weather, or heavy machinery. No wonder kitty's scared!

Tips for Traveling Safely With Your Cat

The upcoming holidays mean that more people will be traveling with their pets. While most of us leave cats at home in the care of sitters, some may take them along. If you have to transport your cat by air, here are some tips to make the trip as incident-free as possible:
  • Check with your airline prior to the trip to see if you can keep your cat in the cabin with you. Most cats will fit in a carrier that fits under the seat, and if you can do this, at least your cat will have you nearby to comfort him. Airlines limit the number of animals that can be kept in the cabin on any particular flight to minimize the impact on allergy sufferers, so booking this space ahead of time will not only ensure that you can keep your cat with you, but will even save you a little on kitty's airfare. Ask about any vaccinations or documentation you'll need to arrange for beforehand, too, so you can have all that done in time. Confirm this arrangement with the airline 24-48 hours before your flight.
  • Make sure your cat's carrier is sturdy enough for airline flight. Our Travel Time department has many carriers, some with wheels, that are approved for airline transport. Double-check the dimensions of the carrier to make sure it meets your airline's regulations for the size of bags that will fit underneath the seat. Leave the carrier open in the house, with some of kitty's toys inside to get him used to being in it and thinking of it as a safe place that belongs to him. If you were not able to book passage in the cabin for your cat, get a carrier sturdy and large enough for him to be safe and comfortable for the duration of the trip. And make sure it meets your airline's requirements for markings, food & water dishes, and dimensions.
  • Make sure your cat can be identified in case he does get separated from you. Microchipping is the best way to do this. But if you're reluctant to do that, make sure your cat has identification on both the carrier and on a harness from which he can't easily escape. Safety collars are too easily lost, and a collar that wouldn't release your cat if it gets caught could choke him. A harness is a much more secure item of catwear to use in transit. And if you need to take your cat out of the carrier, you can attach a leash to the harness to walk him, if necessary. The identification should contain your flight number, name, cell phone number, and your cat's name. Don't have a harness? We offer several styles in our Cat Collars, Harnesses & Leads section.
  • If you can, take your cat out of the house in his carrier a few times in the weeks prior to your trip to get him used to the noises and smells of unfamiliar places. Think about it from his point of view: if the only time he goes in a carrier is when he's going to the vet to be poked and prodded, why would he be interested in it? When he sees that nothing terrible is going to happen while he's out with you in his carrier, he may grow more comfortable with travel, and may even start to enjoy seeing a few different sights.
  • Sit quietly with your cat and explain to him what is going to happen on your trip, and why you're going on it. You don't need to use words for this; imagine the sights you will see, the sounds you will hear, and the smells you will encounter, and reassure him that it's all going to be okay. Picture in your mind the two of you peacefully riding along together, without incident. Imagine the pressure that builds up in your ears as the cabin is pressurized, and yawn to relieve it. Cats communicate in images and feelings. If you treat them with respect and try to help them understand why it's necessary for you to travel together, they will take it all more in stride. Kitty may not like it, or fully understand, but you'll find that he's much calmer if you've reassured him and given him some idea what to expect. You may want to have some of these silent "talks" with him as you take him out in his carrier. To those around you, you'll just look like someone who's lost in thought, not a crazy lady talking to her cat!
  • The day before the trip, give kitty some extra exercise so he'll be a little more tired. Yes, it's a hectic time trying to remember to pack everything, but if you plan for this time in your schedule, it'll make it easier on you when the time comes. Feed your cat for the last time several hours before the trip, as a full tummy could lead to vomiting, which can be dangerous in transit. Avoid using a sedative for flying, as this can be fatal at high altitudes. Trim or file his claws a few days beforehand so he doesn't latch onto someone and cause injury out of fear.
  • To comfort your cat, make sure you put his favorite blanket or toy in the carrier. Leave it unwashed, so it'll have his familiar scent on it. Feliway Comfort Zone spray may also be helpful. Since kitty will hopefully be with you in the cabin, you'll be able to reassure him with your own scent by putting a foot or a hand up next to the carrier's window so he knows you're with him. He may enjoy a little head scratch and a few soft words of comfort during scarier times. And you can continue to have your silent image conversations with him during the trip to explain everything that's going on around him.
  • Be prepared. Carry with you your cat's medical records as required by your airline, a recent photo of him, his health insurance card, a first aid kit, and any medication he needs to take regularly. If kitty gets nervous and has an accident in the carrier, a clean-up kit with a few paper towels and a plastic baggie that zips to seal will be something you (and your fellow travelers) will be thankful you've packed. A small sample-size bag of his food or treats and a bottle of water may also come in handy. Just as you do, kitty needs to stay properly hydrated when flying. If there's any delay in your flight, which is more common in winter, you don't want to be caught without what he needs. But be careful of feeding him too much in transit, or you'll need that clean-up kit! has an even more complete list of things to do when you're flying with your cat, along with a chart of the requirements and costs for transporting your cat on various airlines. They've really thought of everything. Safe travels, for you and kitty!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wanna Be a Reality TV Star?

You and Your Cat(s) Can Be on TV!

If you're between the ages of 15-28 and can answer "yes" to these questions:
  • Is your cat ruling your life?
  • Is it hard to tell who's in control any more?
  • Have you tried anything and everything to control kitty's behavior, but nothing seems to work?
  • Has your cat been a nut right from the start, or have you spoiled him and are now seeing the repercussions?
  • Is your cat causing problems with your relationships with friends or loved ones?
  • Are you considering giving your cat away for the sake of your sanity, or is that thought unbearable to you?
MTV may want to talk to you! Send your story to them at, including your name, phone number, location, a photo, and a brief explanation of how your cat is controlling your life. You may be cast in an episode of their new documentary series, True Life.

I'm guessing they were thinking of out-of-control dogs when they wrote those, because we all know that pretty much any cat parent could answer "yes" to at least some of those questions!

Good luck with your entry!