Last week we talked about characteristics of different feeding dishes and how the proper feeding dish can make all the difference in the world to encourage a cat to eat. It not so much encourages a cat to eat, but if a kitty is sick and not feeling so well, a small thing like a food bowl crowding his or her whiskers can be enough irritation to cause kitty to walk away from the food bowl.
One characteristic that I didn’t think to mention last week is COLOR. All my life I have been told that cats cannot see in color. I have always argued that they must be able to see some color. Research that I have read lately indicates that kitties can indeed see color, but it’s not as vibrant as what you and I see. Also, in dim lighting, cats lose the ability to distinguish color. everything is perceived in shades of gray. I therefore think that it is very important to have food dishes that are light in color so that kitty can see the food. This is especially true for older cats and cats with impaired vision. Years ago I bought a deep purple bowl that I thought was just beautiful. One evening I walked past the dish and couldn’t see if the food had been eaten. If I couldn’t tell, how could my kitty? Look for food bowls that will provide a good contrast. For example, brown food shows up great in a white bowl.
Another food bowl characteristic is PATTERN.
Most cutesy food dishes are designed for people rather than kitties and have cartoons or painted patterns. If the food bowl has crazy patterns and the food pieces blend in with the pattern, it may prove irritating or simply uncomfortable to your cat. A solid color may be more appropriate for a feeding dish.
AND… THANK YOU to all of you who responded to my Feeding Dish Survey last week.
I picked one response to share with you this week!
In response to your survey…
For dry food I use stainless steel dishes that are about 3 inches deep and I use large ceramic plates.My cats tend to like the wider bowls and plates, 6-8 inches across. They don’t like the smaller ones that are like 4 inches across.
For canned food I use 8 inch Styrofoam plates, so that I can just throw them away after each meal.
If you would like to participate in the Feeding Dish Survey, email me at FeedBack (at) AssistFeed.com with “Feeding Dish Survey” in the subject line. I will post more responses in future issues! Thanks! -Kathy
General: Regarding cat feeding, “It isn’t just a mouth to feed, but an appetite to satisfy.”
Varying the diet: The arguments for and against this practice are sound, but they seem to be based on opinion, not research. Most of you already know I support the concept, and here’s what I’ve read (regarding dry food, semi-dry, canned, and natural prey):
“Even if your cat tends to favor one of these forms over the other, it is still best to vary their diet. This variation prevents food addictions that can lead to serious health problems if not monitored correctly.”
Cats are unlike dogs in that they will not arbitrarily eat whatever we give them, which is true, and which highlights our need to be ever-conscious in providing them not only something they like, but food that’s nutritionally balanced for cats alone.
Point of controversy: I’ve read that if we’re not sure about which is the best food, ask the vet. I agree with this only if the vet doesn’t sell cat food. Nutritional issues are another matter: yes, we should ask a vet, but be watchful for a sales pitch.
Kittens: Wwe all know that kittens will eat anything that doesn’t eat them first. That’s true, but there’s a very strong likelihood that improper nutrition is doing subtle-but-consistent organ damage that will show up later in life, and almost certainly shorten their lifespan.
Older cats: Obviously, proper nutrition is vital to cats of any age, but it’s crucial that we pay particular attention in feeding an older cat. We should focus on foods that are more easily digestible. Excellent point, and here’s another one: Good nutrition helps to keep the immune system functioning properly, and that’s something we often overlook. We don’t tend to fix things that aren’t broken, and an older cat who seems to have no visible problems may not get our attention. But it should get our attention; while an older may appear to be just fine, his/her immune system (as with our own) is steadily degenerating with age.
Are you a “list” person? I am; without my little lists for almost everything, I’d be lost. Lists aren’t for everyone, and I’m not fanatic about it myself, but little notes here and there do help to remind us. That’s what this week’s article is about: It’s a proactive checkpoint. We’ll revisit a number of pertinent issues that are (or should be) part of our proactive care program.
These are a just few of the significant proactive issues we should be monitoring along the way, but if even a single item helps to remind a single person, then the purpose has been served.
There’s a Part II to this embarrassing topic? Yes!
Last week we talked about how anal sacs can become impacted and even infected. If your cat has reoccurring problems with his or her anal sacs becoming impacted, your vet will recommend removing these scent glands.
What I want to talk about this week is obese female cats and another problem they may have, which more than likely can be corrected at the same time as the anal sac removal.
Phoebe was having trouble with her anal sacs becoming impacted and they had to be expressed several times. The fluid was thick and the vet finally recommended that they be removed. We didn’t have them removed right away because she is so overweight and there is a substantially higher risk of complications (death) due to anesthesia in overweight kitties. Phoebe’s anal sacs, however, remained a problem so I chose to go ahead and have the surgery. Phoebe came through the surgery just fine. Two rounds of antibiotics were prescribed. We got through the first bottle just fine, except that Phoebe wasn’t eating very much (strange behavior for her!) We started the second bottle of antibiotics and Phoebe started throwing up every time I gave her a dose. I called the vet and he said “This happens in about 5% of cats that take Clavamox. It may take 1-2 days for her stomach to settle. Do not give any more medications for the next 24 hours and let her eat or drink as she pleases. Do not force food on her or the vomiting will probably resume.” I let Phoebe rest for 2 days (she was eating just fine) and then started her on another antibiotic called Zeniquin and she completed that round without any problems.
HOWEVER, after the Zeniquin was finished, Phoebe started “attacking” her rear end. TRYING TO. I should say since she can’t reach it because of her weight! Her rear must have really hurt. or did it itch? I took Phoebe back to the vet and they took a skin scraping since her skin look flaky. It turned out that she had a staph infection! More antibiotics would clear that up, however the vet said that she Phoebe had “Perivulvar skin fold pyoderma” and the only way to prevent reoccurring bacterial infections in this dark, moist area, would be to have the skin fold surgically reduced.
I was outraged that he didn’t notice this problem when the anal sacs were being removed! I mean he was right there! The fatty skin folds were nothing new.
Phoebe had not healed from her anal sac removal and the vet was suggesting more surgery for this obese cat!
So. if your female obese cat is scheduled for anal sac removal, ask your vet to closely examine the more commonly called “vaginal folds” to see if they are fatty and if they are harboring any infection (a painless skin scraping or swab may be necessary). If infection is found, ask your vet if he or she is skilled in the perivulvar skin reduction. not all vets are skilled in this surgery. If a bacterial infection is present AND the skin folds are fatty and large, it may be wise to have a little skin tuck at the same time as the anal sacs are removed. Consult with your vet about the length of time the surgery will take for both procedures and if it’s better to have one surgery rather than two. If your vet is not skilled in this surgery, find a vet that is and he or she will more than likely be able to do the anal sac removal as well (i.e. one surgery for both problems).
Note: The skin fold infection may be because the anal sacs are infected and removing the anal sacs may reduce the likelihood of any further skin fold infections. It is important to discuss this topic thoroughly with your vet to decide the best course of action for your cat.
After the girls stated clearly last week that they were not at all behind my plans to write about the subject of medicating a cat, I will have to win them over by writing some articles that they approve. Consequently, for the next three or four articles, I will do my best to choose articles that they approve of, so that I can get their help, although grudgingly, when I ultimately do the articles on medicating cats.
There are so many cat toys out there, much to the girl’s delight, that we will have to choose only a few of them to talk about. This week, we are going to talk about their top three favorites, and we expect that they will be popular with many other cats also. We don’t expect that they will be every cat’s favorite, being that we all have different likes and dislikes, but we do think that most will feel the same way as we do. The next article will be a continuation of this one, which will cover most of their favorites.
The first toy that we will talk about is not a toy at all, but gets the most attention, being batted around on the floor, on a bed, or practically any surface at all. It is a common plastic drinking straw that stands up to a considerable amount of abuse and does not easily shred into fragments when bitten. Their favorite surface to play with the straws is a linoleum or tile floor, but I find them all over the house, even on the bed! My girls prefer the type that has a flexible neck to it, and before I put a new one on the floor, I bend it at about a 30-degree angle before putting it on the floor and letting the girls go at it. They are readily available at any supermarket at a price that everyone will love.
CAUTION: They may not be appropriate for those cats that have a tendency to chew it to the extent that it will actually shred into pieces, as the fragments could be harmful if ingested.
The next is one that I categorize as the “fishing pole” variety, that is, some type of toy that dangles from the end of a flexible rod. Their favorite of this type has a rotating cluster of feathers at the end of it. You will find many varieties of these types out there, but look for the kind where the feathers are mounted on a swivel so that the feather cluster rotates when it travels through the air. It is a fun way to exercise for both you and your cat! I use it for playing with them, and luring them from their hiding places when it is time to go to bed. When my Angel Mandy was here with me, both she and Melissa would always know when it was bedtime, and entered the bedroom on their own. However, Amanda is Amanda, and she never lets me forget that she is the boss and rarely will go into the bedroom on her own, and this toy is the best for luring her out of where she is and into the bedroom. After she enters the bedroom, I do use it to play with her for several minutes as a reward.
The last and one of the most popular is one that they lost a long time ago, and one that I can only describe, as I cannot find anywhere where I can buy a replacement. It is a toy that I purchased at a cat show a few years ago, and would appreciate it if anyone can help me find out who sells it anymore or even if he or she recognizes it from my following description. It is a ball shaped toy not much more than an inch in diameter and made of a soft rubber material, and very resistant to damage from chewing. What makes it unique is the texture of it on its outside surface, which makes it difficult to describe. On the entire outside surface are small cylindrical protrusions, each with a small knob at the end. The effect of this design gives the “ball” a bouncy and wiggly nature that keeps the cats playing for hours. It was the toy that was quickest to get lost being that it got the most use. If anyone knows what I am talking about and knows where this toy can be purchased, please let me know. I will then place a photo of this fascinating toy in a future article and the girls will be forever grateful. Email me at: FeedBack (at) AssistFeed.com
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.