Cat Care Newsletter
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Vol. 1, No. 38
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Finding the right feeding dish for your kitty can make all the difference in the world to a kitty that may be inclined not to eat.
There are several components to think about:
Depth - A comfortable depth for a feeding dish is one where kitty can see out while munching, however, not too shallow so that the food is pushed up and over the edge.
Width - Some kitties are very particular about their whiskers. A comfortable width for a feeding dish is one where the whiskers do not hit the sides of the dish.
Sides - Find the perfect slope so that kitty can get the last few morsels in the corners. There's nothing worse than trying to get to the food but you just can't get to it!
Let's also look at Type of Material the Dish is made from:
Plastic is probably the most common dish because of its convenience. Number one, it doesn't break! I don't know how many times I've kicked a food dish and it's gone flying across the kitchen floor! Plastic does have a few drawbacks though. If your kitty is prone to feline acne, the plastic dish is more than likely the cause. Plastic is extremely hard to clean because of the tiny pores that you can't see. Plastic can harbor bacteria, which causes the acne. Plastic dishes should be washed in extremely hot water to release the oil residue left from the food. Some plastics can also emit odor. especially Styrofoam. These smells, even a subtle smell to you, is a much, much stronger smell to your kitty's keen sense of smell and can turn a tasty meal into a meal that is walked away from. If you can smell a plastic or chemical smell, toss the dish and find a new one. Some plastics smell worse than others.
Glass. You've all seen the advertisement where the kitty eats out of a crystal stem dish. I wonder if the kitty's teeth clink on the glass? They would for sure if it was dry food. If you use a glass dish, get your face right next to the dish while your kitty eats to see if kitty's teeth hit the glass when he or she eats. If so, this can be uncomfortable for your kitty and perhaps a dish change could be in order.
Pottery or ceramic. I hesitate to use these materials because I don't know what kind of glaze they used or what kind of clay for that matter. Could the clay have contaminants? Could the glaze have lead? What is the dish's country of origin? Not so many years back I heard that glazes in some countries still used lead.
Stainless Steel. I've heard that this is the best kind of dish. It is easy to clean and doesn't harbor bacteria. It won't break if I kick it across the room when I stumble through the kitchen in the middle of the night. I've never used it though so I need your feedback. I wonder when kitty licks the dish... does it tastes metallic? Does kitty's teeth clink on the metal like they can on glass?
The topic of dealing with proper nutrition for ailing kitties is a complex world in and of itself, and it's not something we typically pursue here. However, issues seem to hit us in "waves", and recently I've been exposed to several queries about the right food or supplement for this or that ailment, so I felt obligated to respond, at least in general terms.
First thing we need to understand is this: A normal, healthy cat's systems are a finely balanced arrangement that will respond negatively to almost any change whatsoever.with an ailing cat, you can cut that in half, or even less. Meaning? Meaning that with an ailing cat there's even less tolerance for deviation from precisely what is needed. So the onus is on us (huh?) to split hairs with controlling food ingredients, and in many cases it will be that way from here on; with some ailments, such as renal failure, the organs do not ever regenerate damaged cells.
Q: What is the best food for (pick one) ailment?
A: A food the kitty will eat, and one that enhances the treatment plan.
Q: My vet says Acme Food is best.should I follow his advice?
A: No. Consider it, but don't follow it until you've proven to yourself that it actually is the best for this situation.
Q: How does one determine what's best?
A: Through research. First of all, learn what is clinically and medically best for the condition, and then start analyzing foods for those ingredient levels. That is to say, foods specific to that ailment, and foods the kitty will eat.
There's just no magical, easy way to deal with proper nutrition for an ailing cat, but neither is it a time to give up. The downside is that every situation is unique, so logic tells us that every answer must be unique as well. The upside is that we have a vast panorama of ailment-specific foods to choose from these days, as well as supplemental techniques that have proven to be highly successful.
For those with ailing kitties, some of you may remember that I created a Nutrition Calculator some time ago. It's extremely easy to use, and it allows you to analyze foods quickly and easily.and it's still available to those who want it.
Below is a link to the AAFCO Nutrient Profiles, which show the min/max levels of most nutrients, acids, and proteins. Be careful, though: these are for healthy cats. But they're fine for ingredients not specific to a particular ailment; those will take a little research.
On the Internet : AAFCO Nutrient Profile
For those of us with healthy kitties, how about doing some of that research before we need it? Pick a common ailment and see what foods are required and what's available.maybe even try a small can to see if they'll eat it. Do some of that technical research now, take notes, and pray that you'll never need them. But if you do, you're at least somewhat prepared.
Young bull: "Hey, let's run up that hillside and be romantic with a few of those pretty cows!"
Old bull: "I say we walk, so we'll have enough energy to be romantic with all of 'em!"
A very old joke with a very true story behind it.the young learn from the old. Sometimes, not always. We had a big Hornet loose in the house yesterday. Clark spotted it first, and watched it with form a safe distance with seeming disinterest. Impetuous Wilbur finally caught the action, and decided the bee needed to be eaten. The bee didn't agree, and Wilbur got nailed! I called the vet-shop, who told me to watch for swelling or convulsive behavior, but it's fairly common and the results are rarely disastrous. His eyes were a bit puffy for a while, and he swatted at his nose for a couple of hours, but eventually things were back normal. (Oh, what a fibber I am.normal life around Wilbur?)
But this is all part of the learning process, and it's something we need to respect. Clark, in his own way, had told Wilbur to leave the bee alone, but Wilbur knew better. Cats most certainly do communicate, and they do transfer learned knowledge from old to young. It's part of a natural lifecycle, and it's imperative that we as caregivers don't fiddle with something that works. I have a confession to make: During Wilbur's early days here, many of you told me to "Leave those two boys alone; Clark will teach Wilbur what he needs to know". I didn't believe you. But I was wrong, and you were right. Having brought Wilbur aboard as a teeny kitten, I have observed, first hand, the process of life and learning, and it's as amazing as watching a birth. I was determined that I had to make it all perfect. I felt that I was obligated to "save" Clark from Wilbur's explosive youth, and in fact Wilbur still does get exiled to the kitchen during his most uncontrolled moments, but essentially it's unnecessary, and probably does more harm than good.Clark is beside himself whenever I have to (have to?) scold Wilbur.
Clark actually does teach Wilbur, and it's something to see. Eating habits, for example: For a time, Wilbur attacked food like it would be his last ever. I've watched Clark swat his head right down into the food, several times, until Wilbur got the picture and slowed up, and now he eats like a gentleman all the time. Playing: Clark's most favorite plaything is a pair of shoelaces that I drag around.he loves to chase it! Of course Wilbur wants into this action too, and there are times when Clark will sit back a few feet and watch Wilbur play. And there are other times that a low growl tells Wilbur to sit back a few feet. Same growl we've all heard a million times, but that one meant something different, and Wilbur caught it.
This teaching/learning process isn't unique to my two, but it points out a crucial issue that we, as caregivers, need to recognize: When to intervene, and when to leave nature alone. Our cats are more complex than even the smartest minds could imagine, and I see proof of that every day. Truth is, Clark has raised Wilbur quite well.
Hummm. Ok. Here we go...
Have you ever seen a cat or dog "scootch" across the floor? More than likely this embarrassing event happened in front of company right?
Don't worry, your pet probably doesn't have worms like most people say. it's probably because his or her anal sacs are full and uncomfortable.
Anal sacs are scent glands that are located to the left and right of the anus. The glands produce a thick, odorous liquid and many experts disagree on the exact need for these glands. The glands empty their contents when the cat poops. Normally the glands are not an issue, however, if the glands fail to empty, the liquid can become too thick. like very thick oil. sludge-like and kitty can no longer empty the glands and they fill up. When this occurs, they are said to be "impacted" and they will have to be "expressed." The gland is located just under the skin and an impacted gland will feel very firm. Your vet will locate the gland and then squeeze it and you will see the thick material ooze out. Your cat won't be too happy about this procedure. It's humiliating and can be painful. You can be taught how to express the glands yourself, but this procedure can be difficult to do. The question should be raised with your vet about why this material is not coming out on it's own. There could be diet issues such as food that produces too loose of a stool, preventing the glands from being able to empty, or other age or health related reasons.
An anal sac can also become infected. One year Bubba and I were visiting friends in Maryland. It was the summer and the weather was very hot and humid. Bubba began licking the area to the left of his anus and the area was inflamed. I took Bubba to a local vet and the vet said it was just heat allergies. I agreed the weather was oppressive, but I didn't think it was the cause. The vet gave me some antibiotic ointment and sent me home. I immediately called our vet back home, described the situation and the vet said Bubba had a anal sac abscess that needed to be lanced! My vet recommended that I keep a hot compress on it for several hours to see if it would burst on it's own. if not, I would have to take Bubba back to the unknowing local vet. Yes, I applied warm compresses to Bubba's butt for the rest of the afternoon and sure enough, it burst a few hours later. Poor Bubba, but at least the infection could now get out. When I finally arrived back home, the vet examined Bubba's wound, which healed perfectly. Several months later, Bubba's anal gland was again impacted and the vet expressed the fluid. It was so incredibly thick that it curled as it squeezed out. It was very painful as well. The vet didn't know why this was occurring in Bubba, except that Bubba was very obese and the vet felt it was due to his weight problem and recommended that the glands be surgically removed. We had the surgery and Bubba was fine thankgoodness. One of the clinical signs that I for some reason ignored was that there were little brown spots on my comforter about the size of a chickpea. I didn't realize that these were bloody oozings from Bubba's infected anal gland.
A Few Clinical Signs
Are there Alternative Solutions rather than Having Surgery?
I had been planning for some time on writing two back-to-back articles on administering medication to cats, stressing the points that most of the published information on this subject omits. Typical procedure here is that the girls actively help me with the research or serve as consultants, but when I approached them about the subject of the upcoming articles, they wanted no part of it and nearly stopped speaking to me. Realizing that they ultimately would get the upper hand (paw), and knowing what's good for me, I was forced to compromise. I will not write the articles now, but in the future and only with modifications that they agree with. At this time, I would write an article on how to medicate a cat in a manner that both parties will not object to, and that is by means of imbedding the medication in a treat! Amanda suggested the title of this article, remembering that it is getting close to Halloween.
Imbedding (sounds better than hiding!) medication in a treat is not appropriate for all medication, but in many cases it is, and this method should be used whenever possible. Many may say that they tried this method before and it didn't work, but there are little things that many may consider insignificant that may determine whether the attempt will succeed or fail. This method works best when one splits the dose, usually a fraction of a tablet, into two smaller pieces, which each piece imbedded in a separate treat.
Your first task is to choose an appropriate treat with a moist texture that is easily shaped and retains its form. We cannot mention product names here, but only one that is widely available with the proper texture and it also comes in many flavors. We are sure that you will not have a problem identifying it. All flavors are easy to form, but you will note that the chicken and turkey flavors are a bit drier, but still easily formed.
In sum, the method that has the best chance of kitty eating the treat without discovering the pill and spitting out is to administer a "blank", two "loaded" pieces, and finally another "blank" as a chaser. The purpose of the "blank" is to gain kitty's trust, so that the "loaded" pieces are gulped down without taking the time to examine it for the presence of a pill (sneaky devils, aren't we!). It is also best to keep the pieces as small as possible so that kitty doesn't have to chew it into several pieces in order to swallow it, and make is less likely that the medication will be discovered. The photo in this paragraph shows two pieces of a treat and a pill fragment, prior to assembling them. To the left is a treat that had not been split, and to the right is the first one to be given that does not contain any medication. The two pieces of treat are formed into a ball with the medication in the center. The treat given first without any medication (the "blank") should also be shaped into a ball.
If the tablet pieces aren't too large, even medicines that have a bitter taste may be given without the cat tasting them. If the medicine you give is bitter and the cat salivates after he eats the "treat", then he had obviously tasted it and the pieces may just be too large. The best method to deliver a larger dose of bitter tasting medicine is by means of a gel cap via conventional means. This method will not work for all cats and in all cases, but when the amount of medicine to be given is not a large amount, it will in the majority of cases. Finally, there are no hard and fast rules here, so feel free to experiment as you see fit, but remember that this method has the most chance of success if the first piece given does not contain any medication and you keep the pieces small enough to minimize chewing. Watch this column in the weeks ahead for hints on pilling a cat via conventional means.
Typos? Please email me at Kathy (at) AssistFeed.com
Copyright © 2003-2013 by Kathy Fatheree. All rights reserved.
Disclaimer: Kathy Fatheree is not at all a medical expert. Contents of this web site are a collection of Kathy's assist feeding experiences as well as the experiences of other cat owners who have assist fed their cats. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, Kathy Fatheree or anyone associated with this web site cannot be held responsible for anything that may happen as a result of using the information on this site.