Why you shouldn't declaw your cat

It's illegal in many places - for good reason

 Many cat owners, faced with a cat that is scratching people or destroying the furniture, have considered declawing their cat. But  what these owners don't realize is that declawing is cruel and medically dangerous. Many vets refuse to perform the procedure, and declawing is illegal in many countries, as well as several cities in the United States.

Declawing is the equivalent of amputating at the last joint of each of your fingers. Not only is this a horrifying thought, but it throws off a cat's gait and can cause a lifetime of pain, because it forces the cat to walk on a joint - the amputated stub - that was not designed for it.

Declawed cats often have difficulty with normal clumping cat litter, because the missing toe segments allow litter to get worked farther into their toes. Declawed cats need to use special litter made from newspaper shreds or corn cobs. And needless to say, many cats don't like the transition to a new kind of cat litter.

Declawing also leaves your cat helpless if it ever does have to defend itself. Although hopefully this situation will never arise.

A better solution is to use a soft nail cap, which is harmless and painless and affordable. Your vet can show you how to apply these caps, which come in a variety of fun colors. The soft plastic prevents the cat from damaging anything, but still allows the cat to practice all of its normal behaviors.

If your cat is scratching the furniture, first of all, you must invest in a good scratching post. It should be sturdy enough for the cat to jump and climb it without knocking it over, and it should be placed somewhere central. Don't just buy a cheap little plastic post covered with carpet and stick it in the back of the laundry room! 

Some cats really like those cardboard scratchers, and others prefer sisal or rope. Experiment to find out what your cat likes. Consider it an investment in your home furnishings! It's cheaper than buying a new couch.

Once you have a solid scratching post that your cat enjoys using, train the cat to use it by rubbing it with catnip. At the same time, put double-sided tape on the edges of the furniture, and keep a squirt bottle handy to squirt kitty when the claws come out on the wrong object. Your house will be safe and sound in no time.

Bad catitudes

Is anyone else’s cat a hit-man undercover, or is it just mine?

Today, my cats are being mercifully sweet. Maybe it’s because they had their regular six-month baths last night and it calmed them down—or made them wary of my wrath, muhahaha! Or maybe their evil plots to take over the universe have stalled temporarily. Either way, I am oh so grateful, because on an average day, I am pretty sure at least two of them are assassins sent for my head.

Maybe it’s from those old days with PETA—which would be ironic, right?—or maybe simply too many emails to the president asking for change, but for some reason someone has a price on my head and these two cats are determined to do the job. Whether it’s puking in a strategic area to make me trip and bust open my cranium, pissing on my good walking shoes so my feet are regularly tortured in my back-up pair, or simply tripping me every time I move, they are definitely professionals at what they do.

Take Sky, my lovely diluted calico. She hogs the bed, pressing herself as close to me as she can, drawing her claws into my feet until I shriek in my sleep. When I kick, she doesn’t even flinch. I have a feeling this is part of a master plan to smother me.

Cute Mononoke, my fluffy black kitty, may fool you with his sweetness, but he doesn’t fool me! He is on a steadfast mission to smash me face-down into the linoleum with each figure eight woven between my wobbling feet, each meticulous mew meant to send me running to check on him and then bam, over the stairs.

As they buy their time, I consider ways out of this situation, but it’s no use. I have tried bribing my assailants with treats and even with the coveted drug of choice catnip, but alas, they remain true to their work. I can only hope they will have mercy on me and when they finally decide to end my life, it will be quickly.

If you have a hit cat in your home and you are looking for a way out, please consider conspiring with me in the comments below. I may have a plan involving some saltwater taffy, a USB cord, and two spoons. Until then, if you have any experiences or suggestions on how to survive with such criminal masterminds in peace, I am all ears.

Grooming habits that can help your feline friend look purr-fect.

Help your cat look her best all year.

Cats are clean freaks by nature. They hate dirt. Many love to be petted. Right after we pet them, they must give themselves a complete bath, as if we have germs or something. This is all part of their nature and charm. This is what makes cats unique.  However, no matter how hard they try, they need some human help to complete their grooming tasks.

First, all pet owners should comb their kitties daily. This should be done whether kitty is a long haired cat or a short haired one. The ideal time to comb a cat is between five to 10 minutes. However, this can be done in intervals and it can be done in shorter intervals as kitty learns to like this combing process.

When combing kitty, try to use a metal comb from head to tail. If kitty has long hair, you should also comb her belly and leg areas. Next, you should use a rubber brush to remove any loose hair from kitty. Both long haired kitties and short haired ones will shed. Removing the loose hair will help keep fur balls from forming and help keep your home cleaner, as well.

Should you bathe kitty? This will depend on a few issues. Is kitty’s hair oily or dirty? Does kitty smell? How well does kitty like water?

Most cats hate water. However, there are a strange few who likes water. Of course, the earlier you train a cat to bathe, the easier the act is.

You can bathe a kitty in a mild detergent or a shampoo made for cats. Wash kitty as you would any animal. Wet her fur, apply the shampoo or detergent, work the shampoo or detergent into her hair, and rinse thoroughly. You want to have another family member assist you in this task.

Nail clipping is another grooming chore that should be completed. However, this is something that not every pet owner should try to do. If you clip the nail too short, kitty will have a sore foot. If you clip into the pink area of the nail bleeding can occur. You may wish to have your vet or pet groomer do this chore for you.


Gifts you can buy your cats

Presents your cats will enjoy all year.

Whether it is Christmas, her birthday or just a dull Monday, there are many delightful things you can buy for your favorite feline friend that will start her purring. No, purchasing gifts for your cat is not silly, even if you are purchasing them for a holiday occasion.

After all, in most homes, the cat or cats are not just animals or pets, they are part of the family. As a member of the family, they deserve a little gift now and then. They also deserve a gift during the holidays.

What can you buy for your feline friend that she would consider a gift? You can start with the obvious. You can buy toys. Most cats will enjoy some type of toy. This can be something as inexpensive as those cute little jingle balls or catnip filled mice. Some cats even enjoy playing with small stuffed animals.

They will toss them up in the air, chase them and act like they are prey. If you go this route, be weary of stuffed animals with buttons or beads that can come loose with rough play. If you want to make a toy for your cat consider making something that will roll.  Of course, catnip filled toys are fun for most cats.

Most cats will also enjoy treats. You can buy a variety of these from the crunchy to the soft kind.

Cat beds may be a hit with some cats. Yet, don’t be offended if they don’t rush to the bed at once. Cats have to find their own sleeping quarters and it may take them time to become interested in that new bed. Just place it somewhere where that kitty can see it daily and with time she may decide to try it out, all on her own.

You may be tempted to buy cute collars and clothes for your feline friend. Yes, they are darling. However, most cats will agree they should be left at the pet store and should never be put on them. Of course, if you have to walk your cat on a leash, then you have a reason for the shiny collar.

Then kitty just has to deal with the annoyance. If you don’t need to walk kitty on a collar, this writer advises leaving these cute accessories at the store and consider purchasing toys as presents. After all, the present is supposed to be for kitty and to make kitty happy. 

Best flea remedies

My cat is allergic to fleas. Have any ideas?

Some friends of ours took our fifth cat when it became apparent that the other cats in the house were bullying her. They wouldn’t let her eat, and she was covered in bite marks where they would just attack her. It wasn’t just the boys, either; my “baby,” our only female left, was the worst! So we were so glad that she went to a new home.

But recently, her brother started breaking out. He has red bumps over his body and he licks himself raw to where his fur is even falling out. We called our vet but didn’t have the money to bring him in yet; she told us it was probably allergies but wasn’t sure. So imagine my surprise when our friends tell us that his sister is suffering from the same condition! It turns out that, according to their vet, it is allergies to fleas—and their cat needed steroids.

My best friend is a nurse and recommended a feline dose of Benedryl, so we may try that; she said she uses the liquid version for her dogs. However, we also need to get rid of the fleas. It’s very strange because our cats don’t go outside; we think they get their fleas from openings in the basement where bugs sometimes come in. They do bring us up regular grasshoppers and crickets, after all…

So what are the best flea remedies you know of? My friends are using Frontline products, and we have already tried shampoos and sprays in the past that we found wanting. Perhaps frontline is in our future. We have also tried flea collars and gel treatments that didn’t work, either, on previous cats that were allowed outside. 

And as far as getting rid of the fleas, my friend mentioned bombing the house. How safe is that? She mentioned that the treatments they are using are expensive, but we are on a severely limited budget right now and won’t be able to do something like that until February. Are there any good natural treatments anyone could recommend? I know from experience that many natural treatments for ants do not work, so I am a bit wary; however, I do trust some herbs and would be willing to give it a shot!

I am guessing we need to treat both the cats and the house. Does anyone out there with experience have some really good ideas to share?

Is catnip good for your cat?

Why you should give catnip toys and treats to your cat

You love seeing your cat happy? You want your cat to be healthy? Could catnip toys and treats make her healthy and happy? What are the benefits of catnip and is it good for your cat?

If you ever bought catnip for your kitty, you may have noticed that she goes crazy every time she sees or smells it? Some people may even think that it makes their kitty seem as they are drunk. For this reason, they may think it works like a drug and is bad for their kitty.

However, catnip is not a drug. It is an herb, a beneficial herb. Some vets have referred to this herb as a cocktail for cats. It makes cats happy. It can help relieve stress. It can even help them reduce nervousness and some bad habits such as scratching. However, just as a human has to limit their intake of cocktails, a cat should be limited on their intake of catnip. This should be given on once a day.

Catnip is a minty herb. It is sometimes referred to as cat mint. About 50 percent of the cats who are given catnip will show a response to it. This can include such changes in behavior as: excitement, intoxicated appearance, euphoria, drooling, hyperactivity and an increase in meowing.

No, catnip is not harmful. The changes in the cat’s behavior will soon vanish. Catnip is also non-toxic and non-addictive. It comes in many forms such as: dried catnip, catnip oil and catnip toys. It can be purchased at most pet stores, department stores, or some drug stores.

Should you give your cat catnip? This is entirely up to you. However, if the changes in your cat scare you when you give it to her, simply don’t give it to her, again. It is as simple as that.



Help, my kitty has bad breath

What to do if kitty has bad breath

You love having kitty close to you. You love snuggling around her. You may even like having her lie next to you in bed. But suddenly you realize that kitty’s breath has begun to smell strange. No, kitty never did have minty fresh breath. But now kitty actually has bad breath.  What could be causing it and what should you do?

Kitty could have what is known as halitosis. Halitosis occurs when kitty has bad breath or a strong, fetid type odor coming from her mouth. What causes this halitosis?

Halitosis or bad kitty breath can be caused from something as normal as a buildup of bacteria in kitty’s mouth. Yes, kitty can get bacteria and germs in her mouth, just as humans can.  These bacteria can even cause dental and gum problems, as well as diseases. For this reason, you can begin by trying to look inside kitty’s mouth. If she doesn’t allow this, try to sneak a peek while she is yawning or playing.  Look for brown or yellowing on her teeth. You should also look to see if her gums look red. Of course, your vet can examine her teeth better. This means you may want to take kitty in for a visit.

If the vet rules out a dental problem, she may wonder if kitty is suffering from some heath issues. These health issues can include diabetes. Another sign of diabetes is that kitty’s breath may smell sweeter and fruity and actually bad. You may also notice that she has been drinking and urinating more than usual.

Another health issue is kidney disease. An indicator of this is that kitty’s bad breath may have a urine type smell to it.

How will your vet treat the bad breath? The treatment will vary, depending on the root cause. If a disease is found, it will be treated. If a dental problem is found, it should be addressed the best way possible. This can include adding hard food to your cat’s diet to help fight plague. 

Make a winter feral cat box

Help your local feral cats stay safe this season.

The other day I ran across a really cool idea on Facebook that I thought I would pass around. Many of us have lots of feral cats in our neighborhoods that we might try to catch to bring in to a shelter that just can’t be caught. Cats are clever creatures, after all. Sometimes it’s also simply not safe to catch them. So how else can we help?

Some people set out food for ferals, but I hadn’t heard of setting up a shelter for them until I saw this photo. You can make a really easy insulated shelter for cats during the winter months with some Styrofoam with these simple steps. My family and I make bat and bird houses, but the most we’ve ever done for ferals—aside from catching a few and finding them homes—is keep our shed open to allow them safe passage during the cold months. Still, our shed isn’t insulated—this box is.

Feral cats vary so widely that you never really know how much help you can be to them. My husband and I have kept ferals as pets before—which can be, and has been, dangerous; do not take in a feral as a pet if you do not know you can handle it or that it is safe!—and we have captured some ferals and taken them to either shelters (adults) or to families who then adopted them (as kittens).

In fact, my mother, sister, and her sister-in-law all have kittens who were born in our shed from a feral mother. If you are afraid to help trap the cats humanely and take them to a safe place, this is a good option to still help them without endangering yourself or your family. If you are crafty or have the materials for a bigger, more long-term shelter, click here for directions.

Here are a few other ways to help feral cats:

Set up feeding and watering stations for the feral cats where you live. Though cats are good hunters, they do remain a domesticated species—and food is hard to come by during the winter months. Providing food and fresh water can help them survive the cold.

Capture cats to have them spayed or neutered, then released back into the wild. If a cat cannot be adopted, at least he or she will not make more feral babies this way. This is a particularly good idea for people who like to keep ferals for hunting mice in their barns or other property.

Removing the smell of cat urine

Eliminate the smell of cat urine from your home and life

The one thing that may keep many people from owning a cat is the fear of having their homes smelling like cat urine. However, there are simple methods that can keep this from occurring. Of course, the most important thing is that kitty must be littered trained and the litter box must be cleaned properly daily.

Some litter boxes may even need to be cleaned more than once a day, especially if there is more than one kitty in the household. What other steps can keep the home clean smelling and what can be done about the urine smell if it does occur?

First, think twice about getting a litter box that has a cover or applying a cover to the litter box. This can cause the smell to become trapped. This will make it more noticeable to you, to guests and to kitty. Once the smell becomes noticeable to kitty, she may decide to go potty somewhere else. 

Stop and think about it. Would you want to go potty somewhere that stinks? This is the number one reason that litter trained cats will have so called accidents away from the litter boxes. Another reason may be that the cat doesn’t believe she is getting enough privacy. Yes, cats like to have their privacy during some parts of their lives, too. Plus, kitty may not like sharing the box with other kitties.

When kitty does go outside her box, there are steps you can take to clean up the mess and avoid the urine smell to stay in your home forever. First, soak up as much as the urine as you can with paper towels or a rag.  If you have a carpet steamer on hand, especially a hand one, you may wish to use this to soak up the urine.

Next, consider the cleaner you want to use. You can use a commercial product or a homemade one. If you choose the home remedy route, you might want to try a mixture of 1/3 cup vinegar and 2/3 of water and a little bit of baking soda. Apply the mixture to the area. Allow it to set for twenty-four hours and then soak up as much as the mixture as you can. Another home remedy that you may want to try is applying a small amount of peroxide on the area. Allow the peroxide to dry and then blot the area. However, be warned that the peroxide could cause some things to lose their color, including some carpets.


Can the television ease your cat?

Is it a good idea to leave the television or radio on for your kitty while you are gone?

You have to go to work? You have to run errands. It is certain that there are times that kitty will be alone in the house. Will turning on the television set or the radio help ease kitty’s loneliness? Will the noise help or calm her?

When you are at home watching the television, your cat seems to adore it. Kitty does her dance to certain music. She will watch when she sees someone dance on the television set, when someone is chasing a ball like during a football game or when she sees another animal on the screen.

These are moments when you are sure kitty likes the television. She even seems to adore some of the music you listen to on the radio. These are all reasons why you think she may like to listen to the same things when you are gone from the house. In fact, it seems reasonable to think these sounds would occupy her mind and make her feel less lonely.

Now stop and think about some of the sudden noises that may appear on that television or radio. There are alerts including those timed ones in which both the radio and the television will suddenly begin blaring an alarm for 30 seconds. This is their way to test their emergency system. Sometimes there will be commercials that will show ambulances.

There are gun shots in various programs. These same noises can be heard in some music today. All of this can be noises that may suddenly show up on a television or radio. If you are not there to monitor the sound level, these noises could frighten your cat. These are reasons why the television or radio may not be good things to play while your cat is alone.

Is there an alternative? You could play a CD and place it on repeat. It could be a CD of relaxing sounds or music that you have previously listened to and know is sound safe. You can even upload a CD onto a digital device if this is easier for you to play.