Monday, September 19, 2016

Vaccinations for Cats

Well, we managed to get five of the six felines to the veterinarian this past week. Pierre, our elder statesman, goes to the vet in the spring with Shadow, the dog. The five who went this week include our three outdoor boys, Rocky or former feral feline, and Genghis Khan, our indoor-only boy.

Shy Boy in the garden


The Importance of a Rabies Vaccination

Among all the vaccines for cats available through your veterinarian, the one that should be non-negotiables is the rabies vaccine. Even if your cat is, like Genghis, an indoor-only cat, he needs a rabies vaccination.

Rabies vaccinations are likely required in your locality. Most counties require that dogs, cats and other animals are vaccinated against rabies. In our area, rabies is common - and it's scary. One bite and your pet could be infected.

Even if your cat is indoor only, he should get a rabies vaccination. You never know when a cat will accidentally slip out the door  or find a way outside. All it takes is one mistake, one accident, and you're suddenly facing the hardship of a cat who may have rabies. No one wants that!

In most states, the rabies vaccine is inexpensive - around $10. There's a new 3-year version that's fantastic. One shot and your pet is protected for three years. Ask your pet's veterinarian about rabies vaccinations or look for a local clinic offering very low-cost vaccines.

Vaccinations for Cats

The following vaccinations are available for cats:
  • Rabies: A must for all cats.
  • FBRCP: This protects against rhinotracheitis (R), calici (C), feline distemper or panleukopenia (P).
  • Feline Leukemia - FeLV. Feline leukemia is a dreadful disease. We lost our cat, Raz, to this scourge many years ago. 

There is an FIV or Feline HIV vaccines, but according to our pet's vet, it is temporarily unavailable because the company who makes the vaccine was sold and they aren't producing it yet. 

How often your pet should receive vaccines depends on what his vet says. At a minimum, your pet should go to the veterinarian once a year for a health check and basic vaccines. Preventative medicine is so important to your pet's health!

For more information on vaccines for cats, please see:


Friday, May 20, 2016

June is National Pet Preparedness Month

Sometimes I think there's a "month" for everything. Women's History, Black History, Heart Awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness...and now, Pet Preparedness.

What the heck is pet preparedness? It's making sure your beloved furry friend is taken care of in the event of a natural or man-made disaster.

Know where to find your cats quickly. Genghis hides in his "room", the bedroom we put him into at night to keep him away from the other cats because he fights with them. So I know where to look for him if he is frightened.


Back in February, we had a close call with a tornado. Tornadoes aren't usual in my part of Virginia. That day we had bad thunderstorms predicted, and my dog was hiding more than usual under my desk. She's more accurate than any meteorologist, so I knew we were in for a bad storm.

But I hadn't counted on THAT bad a storm. I'll never forget the sound of the tornado hitting the power lines on the highway nearby.

Just a few minutes before the tornado roared close by, as the storm clouds gathered and lightning sizzled the air, I called the outdoor cats inside. I quickly did a head count; all six boys were accounted for. I put Genghis into his room so we could find him easily, and made sure I knew where the rest of my boys were.

Later on, I wondered if I would have had enough time to get them all into cat carriers if I had to. We have two average sized carriers, one extra large carrier for Pierre, and a soft-sided dog crate that I use for the outdoor kitties. It might not have been enough time to make sure that everyone was safe.

With this in mind, I started thinking about an emergency preparedness plan for my animals. In the event of a bad storm, a forest fire, or something worse, will you know what to do to keep your pets safe?

When the tornado struck a local town, I had already secured my outdoor cats inside the house. I could have evacuated quickly because I knew where to find them!


The American Humane Society recommends putting together a pet emergency kit. I have my own ideas on a cat owner's emergency kit and emergency preparations.

As part of my emergency preparations, I recommend that all cat owners:


  • Know where you cat's carrier is at all times. If you don't have a cat carrier, GET ONE. In an emergency, you don't want to worry about carrying your cat with you. You want her safe. A carrier can help you lift her into cars, take her onto public transportation, and keep her safe during transit.
  • Make a file for your cat's veterinary records. Keep it someplace where you can grab it quickly if you need it. Include your cat's vaccination records and rabies certification.
  • Into that folder, put hard copies and a thumb drive with electronic copies of your cat's picture. If she gets lost, you can make flyers up no matter where you are!
  • Know where there are pet-friendly hotels or chains in your area. Print out a list. If the power goes out or cell phone service is cut and you can't access the net, you can still find the info quickly.
  • A small litter box. A smaller box that's kept empty can be quickly snatched up and put into the car with your car. Keep a small bag of her regular litter with the box.
  • Food bowl and water bowl. I keep a small plastic container filled with my cat's food in the kitchen because I store food in the closet (the feline pigs figured a way to gnaw through the bags...I have to keep the food enclosed in a closet for their own safety or they'd be 100 pounds each if they had their way.) I could easily grab the food bowl if I needed it.
I don't put collars on my cats. I know, bad cat mama. I've tried it but they grab the ends of the collars and drag each other around and I almost had a strangled cat thanks to his overly exuberant brother who got a claw snagged in the collar. If I did, however, I'd make sure that the collars had disks or tags with my name and address on them. 

In an emergency, you want to grab and go as quickly as possible to get to a place of safety. That includes your pets, too. Having your cat's necessary items on hand can save her life. Take a few minutes now to pull together your cat's emergency kit for National Pet Preparedness month.




Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Help Cat Behavior Researchers Understand Feline Behavior Better

Researchers at PennVet, the veterinary school at Penn State University, want your help to compile research on feline behavior. They're looking for people to participate in FeBARQ - the Feline Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire.


What Is FeBARQ?

Most cats live inside people's homes. Most people own one cay, maybe two. It's hard for researchers to conduct studies on pet cats because they are spread out in individual homes. And I suspect that when the researchers arrive for their studies, armed with clipboards and smelling of Science with a capital S, the cats dive under the bed and refuse to cooperate. It's a cat-thing.

Enter FeBARQ! It's a study conducted by the Penn Vet hospital intended to help researchers and veterinary scientists uncover what makes cats tick...or the mysteries of normal cat behavior. Yeah, good luck with that one.

Seriously, the scientists have developed a 100-question assessment that asks a lot of questions about kitty behavior. It includes questions about playtime, fear of dogs, purring, trainability and much more. Their goal is to compile a large-scale research study that will help them better understand the average behaviors of cats so that veterinary professionals, trainers, animal shelters and others can better evaluate and work with cats.

Genghis participated in the study.


What the FeBARQ Is Like

I enrolled Genghis Khan kitty into the FeBARQ study because among our cats, I find him to be the most quirky. He loves people; he shows no fear among strangers. He plays with children in our home. He likes to play with the other cats, but he can be aggressive. He's got so much energy he doesn't know what to do with himself. He sounded like the perfect specimen for the study.

After answering a brief series of questions about Genghis such as his age, gender, neutering history and history in our family, the survey questions appeared. There were 100 questions which took about 15 minutes to answer. I found the questions were easy to understand and there was an option to check if the question did not apply to my cat. For instance, Genghis is an indoor-only cat, so questions about chasing dogs on the street or bringing home prey weren't applicable.

At the end of the survey, you can click a button and see how your cat stacks up to the average for his breed. I wasn't surprised at how much higher on the socialization scale he scored, but I was surprised at how he scored on aggression. I wouldn't peg him as an 'aggressive' cat but when compared to the average, he does show a higher than normal aggression level.

I enjoyed participating in the study and liked knowing a little more about my cat's personality. If you'd like to enroll in the FeBARQ study, visit PennVet. They welcome pet owners' participation for a limited time only, then the study will be open only to trainers, veterinarians, and cat rescuers.

Visit the FeBARQ study page here: FeBARQ from PennVet.





Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Petting-Induced Aggression in Cats

When petting a cat, do not activate the kill cycle,

Does your cat get overstimulated when you pet her? Mine do.

P is for petting a cat on the A to Z blogging challenge!






They look so innocent, don't they? Yet today, I'm sporting an enormous claw-gash-bruise on my leg thanks to Pierre's hind foot digging into my thigh when he got pissed off at me.

Cats never let you forget that they're still partially wild. It is said that a dog, even if raised without human companionship, can become tame, but a cat will always remain feral. I'm not sure that is true, but I do know that too much petting can turn even the friendliest cat into a shredding maniac if you're not careful.

There's actually a name for this condition: petting-induced aggression.  According to the Animal Humane Society, cats have different thresholds for permitting human touch. Some will let you pet them forever. Others lash out almost immediately.

I guess it's the same with people. Some of us don't mind hugs from others, while some people back off like you've got the plague if you want to hug or touch them.

As for our cats, we need to learn to read their body language. Cats do give you a warning sign before the attack. I didn't heed Pierre's warning signs - pinned ears, constricted pupils, even a few growls. Learn how to read your cat's body language to prevent those petting-induced aggression attacks.

Lastly, the furry belly. Ah, the furry belly. I love it when cats roll over and show you their furry belly. Some people say that this is a sign of trust. Cats are predators, and the belly is the area where an attack can be deadly. Exposing the furry belly is a sign of trust.

Others say that it is a sign of impending aggression because it frees all four claws for an attack. With Pierre, that's very true. He loves to shred you when you reach over to touch his belly. He was raised by a man, and he loves my husband John who enjoys rough-housing with him. I don't appreciate it, but I do know that to touch the belly is sudden death for your hands.

Petting-induced aggression includes biting, clawing, and growling when the cat has had enough of being petted. The real key to avoiding injuries is to learning your cat's unique vocabulary and respecting it.

Now if only we can get cats to respect humans.....

P is for petting-induced aggression. A to Z blogging challenge, of which I've been quite lax but I keep plugging away at it...


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Japan's Cat Island

My cats in the garden. We have six cats. On Japan's Cat Island, cats outnumber people six to one!


Japan has an island dedicated to cats. Yes, you read that correctly. Japan's cat island, Aoshima, is one mile long and home to hundreds of cats. Cats out number people on the island 6 to 1. The cats arrived on ships many years ago, and decided to stay. Today, the people of Aoshima feed and care for the cats who seem to thrive on the island.

J is for Japan's Cat Island on today's A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Check out this video of Cat Island. I think I want to move there.




Monday, April 11, 2016

Best Information Websites for Cat Owners

If you're a cat owner, these websites are great to have handy. I is for information on the A to Z blog challenge and today I am sharing with you my favorite cat information sites!

Pierre would like you to note these websites.

Best Cat Information Websites


  • The Cat Site: A huge website dedicate just to cats! The Cat Site contains fun stuff like forums and funny pictures but also informative articles on health, grooming, behavior and more.
  • Web MD Pets: Web MD is my go-to source for health information. Well, there's a pet companion site with a sub-category just for cats. It's written and reviewed by veterinarians and presents all things health-related for our pets.
  • Cornell Veterinary: Cornell's website was the first place I turned when I needed information on feline leukemia when our cat, Raz, was diagnosed. It is written by one of the top veterinarian schools in the nation. It includes very up to date information on many issues pertaining to the health and well-being of cats.
  • Cats at About.com:  So I'm a little biased; Franny Syufy, site writer and moderator, featured Monsieur Pierre as her cat of the week in March. But putting that side, it's a terrific website for cat owners lovingly curated by a cat fancier just like myself. She has a friendly, informative writing style that's easy to read yet always interested. Recommended!

So what's your favorite website for cat info? Is it on the list? What should I add? 

I is for INFORMATION on the A to Z blog challenge.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Common Health Problems in Cats

Cats suffer from many different health problems, and it would be impossible to try to write one comprehensive blog post about all of the potential health problems cats can suffer. But knowing which health problems are the most common for cats can help a concerned pet owner understand what's going on with her pet. Please talk to your cat's veterinarian for specific diagnosis and treatment recommendations.



Three Common Health Problems in Cats


  1. Feline lower urinary tract disease: (FLUTD): I wish I understood why cats are prone to urinary problems. I thought it was merely a problem with boy cats, but other research I've done seems to indicate that both male and female cats can get urinary problems. Males tend to be prone to FLUTD, especially neutered cats. One of the veterinarians who treats our cats recommended leaving the males intact as long as possible before neutering; he speculated that a smaller, less developed urinary system might make passage of crystals more difficult. He did say it was pure speculation and anecdotal evidence, but we tried to wait until our boys were at least 8 months old before neutering. Anyway, what is FLUTD? It's a constellation of urinary diseases among cats that can cause them to have difficult urinary, form blood in the urine, or at worst case, make them unable to urinate at all. Anytime your cat has blood in the urine or can't urinate, call your vet immediately. It's an emergency. A burst bladder can be fatal, and cats can be in agony before they show signs of problems. Most problems are caused by crystals forming in the urine. These mineral crystals irritate the lining of the bladder and the ureter and can cause bloody urine. Bladder and kidney stones can also form, causing difficult urinating for cats. 
  2. Vomiting: Cats vomit. A lot. At least my cats do. Most of the time it is harmless. Cats have a short digestive tract from the mouth to the stomach, and because it is horizontal while they eat, the food can regurgitate if they eat too quickly or drink rapidly after eating. (This is what happens to our Pierre, so we have to give him smaller portions than the other kitties to keep him from being a glutton and throwing it all back up.) Cats will also vomit up hairballs, grass, and foreign substances they eat, not to mention bones, feathers and indigestible parts of prey they've caught if you have an outdoor cat. So when should you call the vet? Because vomiting can also be a sign of diabetes, urinary infections, or ingesting something poisonous, it's a good idea to call the vet when your cat vomits a lot or you see other symptoms. Whenever you aren't sure, bring your cat to the vet. Drooling, lethargy, hiding and other symptoms mean something is wrong beyond the usual hairballs and calls for a vet visit.
  3. Parasites: Cats who spend time outdoors often contract parasites. It's nasty, and no one wants to think about parasites, but tapeworms and hook worms are two of the most common parasites in cats. Tapeworms are transmitted from fleas, so if you treat your cats for fleas you can prevent tapeworms. To tell if your cat has a tapeworm, look for signs such as weight loss and vomiting. Small grains of what looks like rice may be in the feces or near the anus; these are segments from active tapeworms. Your best recourse if you suspect a tapeworm is to take a fecal sample to your vet for a reading, and have your vet treat any parasites you find. Your vet will also know more about local parasite problems and will help plan a proactive treatment for your pets. For example, in our part of Virginia, ticks and fleas are an awful menace, especially ticks. Tapeworms and hook worms are also prevalent. He checks for these parasites and proactively worms our cats at each visit. We also use a topical treatment to kill fleas and ticks, which greatly reduces their chance of getting these parasites and tapeworms. It's all part of good cat ownership and keeping your cats healthy.
Pierre and Whitey outside


Remember, to keep your cat healthy, make your pet's veterinarian your partner. Talk to your cat's vet if you have any problems, questions or concerns about your cat's health.


H is for Health and Common Health Problems in Cats on the A to Z blog challenge!