Cats Battle Door Stoppers

Posted April 25th, 2015 by admin

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It’s an epic, ongoing war between felines and their bitter rivals, door stoppers. Who will win? Watch and find out!

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Editor’s note: Today, April 24, is National Hairball Awareness Day, an ideal time to republish this 2014 post on how you can help your cat prevent hairballs so that you can have the information and comment on it further.

Today is National Hairball Awareness Day. If I only had a penny for every hairball my cats have produced during their lifetimes and mine, I’d be rich!

I don’t need to tell you that hairballs are nothing to celebrate, and that’s not the point of National Hairball Awareness Day. Hairballs can be symptoms of more serious health issues.

My cat Monty disliked throwing up hairballs more than I disliked cleaning them up. I always knew when he was about to hack one up because he would let out the most mournful cry and start backing up, as if to get away from the soon-to-appear hairball. Poor Monty was a long-haired cat, and even though I brushed him frequently, he was not immune to hairballs. 

If you’re quick enough, you can move your cat to the floor where it might be easier to clean up the hairball. Of course, if your floor is carpeted, it might be easier to let the cat puke on your blanket because you can throw it in the washer.

Hairballs can cause life-threatening blockages

Hackers unite. Today’s your day! Yawning cat by Shutterstock.com.

It makes perfect sense that cats get hairballs. They spend a lot of time grooming and they swallow hair in the process. Typically the hair goes in one end and comes out the other. But sometimes hair remains and collects in the stomach or small intestine and can cause a potentially life-threatening blockage in the digestive system. Don’t wait to contact your veterinarian if your cat continues to gag, retch or vomit without producing a hairball, loses his appetite, has diarrhea or constipation, or is lethargic. 

Soon after adopting my cat Toby, I brought him to the veterinarian because he kept trying to bring up a hairball — or so I thought. Guess what? He didn’t have a hairball; he had asthma and needed medication to control it. 

Tips to reducing or eliminating hairballs 

Hopefully your cat merely has hairballs — as yucky as they are. But seriously, there are things you can do to help your cat avoid hairballs.

 

If your cat’s tail wags when you’re brushing him, that’s not a good sign. Tabby being brushed by Shutterstock

Brush your cat regularly so he swallows less hair when he grooms and ask your veterinarian about giving a hairball lubricant or switching to a food formulated to reduce hairballs. If your cat grooms to the point of causing bald areas and irritation to his skin, schedule a veterinary exam. Your cat could have a skin problem, allergies, or parasites that require treatment.

Your cat could also be stressed if he’s bored or the household routine has changed. Learn more about making your cat’s world less stressful. Maybe he’ll reciprocate with fewer hairballs.

Longhaired cats groom themselves and swallow a lot of fur. Persian cat by Shutterstock.com.

And now, a song about hairballs

In honor of National Hairball Awareness Day, I’ve composed a song (sung to the tune of “Memory” from Cats).

Hairballs, he threw up a big hairball
It’s all over the sofa
It’s all over the chair
I remember a time when I could sit anywhere
Now, with hairballs, that is rare

Hairballs, you can tell when they’re coming
Your poor cats starts upchucking
And he runs here and there
I remember a time when I could walk with feet bare
Now with hairballs, I don’t dare

Chorus:

Day is dawning
Without warning
I step on something mushy
Crap, I scream, this is like a bad dream
But it’s so real and it’s gushy

Hairballs, oh to live without hairballs
I would be very happy, I would be very glad
But without my dear kitty I would be very sad
So, it’s hairballs in my pad

How you do you deal with hairballs? Have you changed your cat’s diet? Do you make up songs about them? Are you going to celebrate National Hairball Awareness Day? Let us know in the comments!

Read more about hairballs on Catster:

About the author: Nancy Peterson is a registered veterinary technician and award-winning writer. She joined The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the nation’s largest animal protection organization, in 1998 and is currently the Cat Programs Manager. She lives in Maryland with her cats Luna, adopted from a feline rescue; Toby, adopted from an animal shelter; and Jenny, a feral kitten she fostered. Check out the HSUS cat information at humanesociety.org/cats and humanesociety.org/outdoorcats.

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Davie the Pug

Posted April 25th, 2015 by admin

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Anybody who knows me knows that I learn great deal from my cats. I’ve always believed that my cats have helped me become a better person. How can such gentle, pure beings do anything but make us better?

Kali was a cat of mine who was both tough and tender. Sharing 18 years with Kali, I learned a lot about her and about myself. And I can say for a fact that, like Kali, my cats have helped me become both more tough and more tender.

Let me first say that my toughness is probably invisible to most. I don’t come off that way. Most people find me mild and gentle. My toughness, I think, is more under the surface. And my cats have had a lot to do with my getting tougher over time. We all get a little tougher, I think, the more time we spend on this earth. Life knocks us around a little, and we can’t help but toughen up or put up some defenses.

The tough and tender Kali.

Here are some ways my cats have helped me become tougher:

1. I’ve helped several cats pass

It must be my personality makeup, because the process of letting go seems never to get easier for me. It’s not something I ever look forward to, but I will say that I think I go through it in a better and more educated way each time that it happens. I’ve learned (and am still learning) to try not to let my emotions cloud me as I go through this process. Every time, it feels as if I’ve gone through a wringer, and every time, I come out of it a little stronger.

2. I’ve made difficult medical choices

We’ve all been here. The blogger Ingrid King of the Conscious Cat once said that euthanasia is the loneliest decision, but I think making medical decisions for our loved cats can also be a pretty lonely proposition. Sometimes you’re guessing, based on the evidence you have. Sometimes you don’t have all the evidence you would like. If only your cat could tell you what to do. This is a courageous responsibility.

3. I’ve faced fear, over and over again

We don’t want to always face fear — many times, we’d rather run from it. But being responsible for these little lives brings up fear over and over, when the stakes are high. I can’t run. I have to deal with it and toughen up. I have to do what’s best for the cat, even when there are times that I’d rather pull a quilt over my head and hide.

Kieran is a quiet guy, and can get lost in the shuffle if I don’t consciously remember to give him his share of love!

4. I’ve learned not to care about the opinions of others

I have six cats. Some people think that is very strange, and they don’t mind telling me so. I’ve gotten stronger over the years about not caring about the judgements of others. If the animals (cats or otherwise) are receiving care to the best of the guardian’s ability, who cares about the opinions of others? Would I judge someone for having six kids? No, although it wouldn’t be my choice. I try to let such judgements go, without any resentment of my own. I don’t want to create more bad energy that I don’t need, so why add to it?

And now, to flip the issue, here are some ways my cats have helped me become more tender:

1. I’ve learned to love and serve my cats

This may not sound like a big deal, but it is a big deal if you have ever wondered whether you had it in you to love anything. Cats have taught me a great deal about how to love unconditionally. Anything that helps me learn to love better, in my opinion, contributes to an improved human being!

Curious and funny cat by Shutterstock.com

2. I’ve learned tolerance and love for different cat personalities

No cat is entirely the same. Kieran’s gentle, spaced-out personality might not be as obvious or attention getting as Zorro’s constant cuteness, but they both need love. Norton is the nosiest, smartest cat in the world, and he reminds me that he needs stimulation for his happiness. Jamie Bluebell has her usual fits of calico twitchiness and exuberance. I love them all.

3. I’ve learned to take action for cats

I have a long way to go, but I have acted and rescued cats who would have otherwise likely died. I have adopted cats who were less adoptable than others, or who had special needs that scared other people off. My life has been richer with every single cat that I’ve cared for, and I think they’ve given me as much, or more, than I could ever give them.

If I had to emulate an amazing cat, Kali is certainly a memorable choice. This cat had been through abandonment and abuse, and yet, she loved humans unconditionally. But she also suffered no fools, and she had an attitude that meant business. I never forget her.

Have your cats helped you be a better person? How so? Tell us in the comments!

More by Catherine Holm:

About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of The Great Purr, the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of two short story collections. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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Abby the Pink Piggy

Posted April 17th, 2015 by admin

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Editor’s note: April is Pet First Aid Awareness Month, an appropriate time to republish this item from 2013 so you can get the information and comment on it further.

You’re sitting quietly at home, watching some TV or reading a book after a long day at the office. Suddenly, your cat starts coughing and wheezing. Her chest heaves as she struggles to get air into her lungs. She looks at you with a terrified expression, and then collapses. What do you do?

If you don’t know, you’d better learn. Do the following ahead of time, and in an emergency you’ll be ready to get your cat to life-saving aid as quickly as possible.

1. Take a pet first-aid and CPR course

The American Red Cross and a number of other organizations offer one-day classes that teach you how to recognize an emergency and move an injured cat safely, and how to perform basic first aid that can save your feline friend’s life.

2. Have a pet first-aid kit

Find out what your cat’s first-aid kit should have in it (the Red Cross has a good list here, and Catster has one here) and make sure you put it together. You can buy the items one by one and put them in a bag or toolbox, or you can buy a pre-made first-aid kit and customize it as needed.

3. Have emergency phone numbers on hand

If you have a cell phone, program the numbers of your regular vet and the nearest animal emergency clinic into your contact list. If you use a landline at home, be sure to post those numbers near your phone.

Cat x-rays by Shutterstock

4. Know how to get to the nearest emergency vet

Find out where the emergency clinic is located and practice driving there at different times of day. This will give you an idea how long it takes to get there and where those tricky turns are — emergencies always seem to happen at night, and every landmark looks different in the dark. Alternately, if you have a GPS, program the clinic’s address into your GPS device ahead of time.

5. Keep your cat’s vet records handy

If your cat has to go to the emergency clinic, up-to-date health information about your feline friend will be a huge help to the staff. If your cat’s carrier has a pocket in it, put her records there; if not, tape an envelope onto the carrier to store the information.

6. Get pet health insurance

If you can afford it and your cats are insurable (they’re not too old and they don’t have pre-existing health conditions), pet insurance can be a blessing in the event of an emergency. With most pet insurance plans, you’ll have to pay for the services up front, but the insurance company will reimburse you once you submit a claim.

7. Have emergency money and/or credit available

Emergency vet bills can stack up very fast, as I found out when one night at the emergency clinic for my beloved Dahlia cost me $1,500 and change. If you have some money set aside, the financial aspect of your cat’s emergency won’t seem quite as horrifying.

Dahlia, after she came back from her overnight stay at Chez Emergency Vet.

8. Make transportation arrangements in advance

If you don’t drive, don’t wait until disaster strikes to find out whether you can get a ride to the clinic. Buses don’t run all day and night in most places, and a taxi can take 20 minutes or more just to arrive at your home, depending on how busy they are. A cat-loving neighbor or friend willing to drive you to the emergency clinic can be crucial when time is of the essence. That friend can also provide emotional support for you, which is just as important!

What other tips would you give readers who want to be prepared for a feline medical emergency? Please share your advice in the comments!

Read more on being prepared in case of a cat emergency:

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