Sunday, April 15, 2012


OK, even though this whole issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats is devoted to cats, what does this breed of dog have to do with the lead news story of April 15, 2012? 

The lead news story of April 15, 2012 is about the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 15, 1912) and the dog in question is a...Pomeranian.  According to reliable news sources, there were 12 dogs that were included in the "passenger" manifest on the Titanic for its maiden voyage.  Only 3 of them survived and 2 of those were...Pomeranians (the 3rd was a Pekingese). 

Now, on with the "cat's meow."  Helpful Buckeye always gets a bunch of e-mails from cat owners when we run an issue that features cats.  This will actually be the first in a 3-part series that will be spread out over the next 2 months.  Our readers with cats know that their cats really do think they are special, whereas dog owners know that their dogs would like to be treated as if they were special.  There's a major difference in that statement.  In the way of an introduction, I am reminded of an old quote about cats:

"Thousands of years ago, cats were worshipped as gods.  Cats have never forgotten this."  Unknown

Cat Facts 

1: How many toes do cats have on their back paws?

A) 0
B) 2
C) 4
D) 5

2: What are female cats called?

A) queens
B) felines
C) toms
D) cats

3: The longest recorded lifespan of a cat is how many years?

A) 24
B) 29
C) 34
D) 39

4: How many hours a day does the average cat sleep?

A) 10
B) 14
C) 18
D) 20

5: For how long are female cats typically pregnant?

A) 9 months
B) 4 months
C) 2 months
D) 1 month

6: Using the length of a cat's tail as a guide, how many tail lengths high can a cat jump?

A) 5
B) 9
C) 3
D) 7

7: A cat without a tail likely lacks what?

A) balance
B) mating appeal
C) navigating ability
D) sensing ability

8: Which of the following is not another meaning of 'cat'?

A) a kind of whip
B) a handgun
C) a type of construction vehicle
D) to vomit

9: Cats have three eyelids. A cat showing this third eyelid can indicate all of the following except what?

A) it is happy
B) it is sick
C) it is scared
D) it is tired

10: Many things have been claimed about cats throughout history. Which of the following beliefs about cats has not been held by a culture...that we know of?

A) they are witches
B) they are minions of the devil
C) they are the embodiment of Gods
D) they can see the future did you do?  The answers can be found toward the end of this issue.
Adapted from:
If Your Cat Could Talk

Until about 40 years ago, the cat was thought to be an outdoor pet...but its independent nature and the relative ease of taking care of its basic needs has made the cat a much more popular pet.  In fact, recent surveys have shown there are millions more cats as pets than dogs. 

The ease of care for basic nutrition and toileting needs, as well as their independent nature, has led owners to believe that basic pet care for the cat appears to require less effort than for other pets, including dogs.

While cats may be surviving, their health concerns are often unrecognized and their needs are not being met in a lot of households.  Here are the top 5 things your cat would want you to know if it could speak with you:

1. I Need to Visit a Veterinarian. Cats are masters at hiding illness and may show only very subtle signs of sickness. Unless owners are aware of these subtle signs, they may often miss small behavior changes that can signal disease until the disease is in a more pronounced stage.

Proactive preventative health care actions like visiting your veterinarian for annual wellness visits can help with detecting disease before it becomes advanced. Cats also need to stay up-to-date with vaccinations as per AAFP Vaccine guideline recommendations. Senior cats may often need to visit the veterinarian more frequently. Visit to find a feline practitioner in your area.

2. I Need Active Play. Cats are natural hunters and need an opportunity for play that enables them to express hunting behaviors.

Environmental enrichment for indoor cats is very important because it allows them to play, express their instinctual hunting behaviors and can provide regular exercise.

Cats are greatly influenced by early experiences so socialization during this time is critical. Cats are usually most content when they can dictate the timing of interaction with their owners and other humans.

Like humans, feline obesity is a rising health care concern in the U.S. and creating an environment that allows the cat to play and exercise can improve their overall health.

3. I’m Naturally Clean and Highly Sensitive to Scent. Cats often respond negatively to new scent profiles in the home including cleaners, new furniture, visiting people, dogs or other cats. Scent marking indoors can mean the cat feels threatened or it can be a response to changes in their emotional state because of changes in their environment.

Cats need a comfortable quiet place for toileting and in a location where they can avoid contact with other cats and human traffic. They prefer at least 1.5 inches of litter in order to bury their waste. It is also recommended that there be one litter box per cat, plus one extra and in different locations distributed throughout the home environment.

4. I Need Small Frequent Meals. Cats are carnivores, unable to survive or thrive without nutritional nutrients such as taurine that is found only in meat.

Vegetarian diets are not recommended for cats because of the cat’s unique nutritional needs. Your veterinarian should always be consulted first before feeding a homemade diet.
 Cats often eat only a few mouthfuls of food at any one time and not a large meal (prey is usually small).

The feeding process for cats is not a social event and thus they prefer to eat alone. Eating meals with other cats in close proximity or placing a bowl in a corner can create stress during the feeding process.

5. I Need a Veterinary Practice That is Cat Friendly. Cats have unique needs that practices must learn in order to provide the best possible health/medical care for the cat.

The entire veterinary team must learn and incorporate feline friendly handling techniques into their practice. Cat friendly practices understand that the trip to the veterinarian can be stressful for you and your cat, and they can help provide strategies to decrease the stress associated with the visit. 
 Practices that understand the distinct needs of cats will be able to provide improved wellness care, valuable education for you the client, and be proactive about diagnosing disease early to ensure a longer, better quality of life for your cat.

Adapted from:

'In Touch' With Your Cat's Health

The Humane Society of the United States

Regular visits to the veterinarian are an essential part of keeping your cat healthy. An excellent way for you to keep tabs on him in between vet visits is to do your own nose-to-tail checkups at home.

Get in the habit of running your hands all over your cat's body whenever he's cuddling with you or you're grooming him. This is the best way to discover problems before they become serious. Call your veterinarian if you find any of these conditions.

Skin deep

While petting your cat, feel for any lumps, scratches, scabs, swelling, or any other irregularities. Dandruff, oily fur, and missing fur can indicate skin or internal problems. Part the fur to look for fleas; specks that look like black pepper are actually "flea dirt" (flea feces that contain your cat's blood and turn red when wet).

Lend an ear

The hairless part of your cat's ears should be clean and odorless. If your cat is having problems, he may shake his head a lot and scratch his ears. Check for flaking, scabs, foul odor, or discharge. If you see a black, gritty substance inside, he probably has ear mites, a parasite that causes severe itching and is contagious to other cats.

Eye spy

Look for bright, clear, evenly focused eyes. Redness, discoloration or discharge, squinting, or the emergence of the third eyelid can signal that your cat has a problem.

Open wide

Healthy gums are pink, pale or bright; red gums may mean something is wrong. Drooling and pawing at the mouth are cause for concern as well. Brown streaks and tartar build-up on the teeth may indicate a dental problem. Your cat's breath should not be so bad that you can't stand to have him near you.

 Get nosey

Cats noses should be clean, and, depending on his activity level and the ambient temperature, his nose may be cold or warm. If he paws at his nose, sneezes frequently, or there is a discharge, contact your veterinarian.

Tall tails

Look under his tail. If you see what looks like grains of rice or spaghetti, contact your veterinarian. Your cat has parasites—some of which may be spread to you or other pets.

Foot the bill

Most cats don't like to have their feet touched, but if yours doesn't mind, look for stuck-on litter, torn claws, cuts, swellings, or infections. Also, check your cat's claws regularly to see if they need to be trimmed; untrimmed claws can inadvertently scratch you, get caught on carpet and furniture, and grow into the paw.

Brush it off

If your cat likes to be brushed, finish off your exam with a nice grooming session. Brushing is good for removing loose fur, distributing oils, and stimulating blood flow. Brushing also helps prevent hairballs, which cats cough up when they've swallowed too much fur from grooming themselves or another cat in the household.
 Book smarts

All owners should have a book on cat care (recommended by a veterinarian) that includes a section on emergency first aid. You should never try to be your own veterinarian, but there are some emergency procedures that could minimize damage and keep your pet relatively comfortable on the way to the veterinarian. Familiarize yourself with these procedures before an emergency happens.

Adapted from:

Subtle Signs Of Sickness

Inappropriate Elimination Behavior

Client education about litter box care and normal elimination behavior is important for prevention and treatment of medical and behavioral problems. Clients should be aware that inappropriate urination and defecation often accompany an underlying medical condition and do not occur “to get back at the owner.”

A cat that is urinating inappropriately may have any number of conditions associated with the behavior, including lower urinary tract disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infection and diabetes mellitus. It can also be a sign of arthritis, which makes it difficult for the cat to get into the litter box.

Blockage of the urinary tract signals a veterinary emergency. A blockage is treatable, but timing is critical. Once identified, the cat must receive veterinary care as soon as possible. Otherwise, fatal complications could develop. Signs include straining in the litter box with little or no results, crying when urinating and frequent attempts to urinate.

Changes In Interaction

Cats are social animals, they enjoy interaction with their human family and often with other pets. Changes in those may signal problems such as disease, fear or anxiety. They may also signal pain, which can cause aggression. For example, a cat may attack an individual who causes it pain, such as a person combing over a cat’s arthritic hips or brushing a diseased tooth.

 Changes In Activity

A decrease or increase in activity can be a sign of a medical of condition. As cats age, there is increased risk for arthritis. Discomfort from systemic illnesses can also lead to a decrease in activity. It's important to understand cats don't usually slow down just because they are old. More activity is often caused by hyperthyroidism. Changes in activity warrant a visit to your veterinarian.

Changes In Sleeping Habits

The key to differentiating abnormal lethargy from normal napping is knowing your cat's sleeping patterns. The average adult cat may spend 16 to 18 hours per day sleeping. This is normal, but much of that sleeping is “catnapping.” The cat should respond quickly to usual stimuli, such as the owner walking into the room or cat food being prepared. If your cat is sleeping more than usual or has discomfort laying down and getting up, this may be a sign of underlying disease.

 Changes In Food Or Water Consumption

Contrary to popular belief, most cats are not "finicky" eaters. Look for changes, such as a decrease or an increase in consumption and how the cat chews its food. Decreased food intake can be a sign of several disorders, ranging from poor dental health to cancer. Increased food consumption can be caused by diabetes mellitus, hyperthyroidism or other health problems.
 Changes in water consumption may be more difficult to observe, especially in cats that spend time outdoors or drink from toilets and sinks. Increased water intake can be an early indicator of thyroid problems, kidney disease, diabetes or other conditions.
If food and water intake is questionable, clients can measure the food and water given, and then measure what remains after 24 hours to get a more accurate picture of actual consumption.

Unexplained Weight Loss Or Gain

A change in weight does not necessarily correlate with a change in appetite. Cats with hyperthyroidism or diabetes mellitus can lose weight despite good appetites. Many other diseases cause both appetite and weight loss. If your cat goes to the food dish and then backs away from it without eating, nausea may be the source.

Weight changes often go unnoticed because of a cat's thick coat. You can assess body condition by feeling gently along the ribs. The ribs should be easily felt but not prominent.

On the other hand, obesity has become a serious health concern in cats, with increased risk of diabetes mellitus, joint disease and other problems. Cat owners can purchase small pet scales to chart weight at home. Take the cat to the veterinarian if there are any unplanned changes in weight.

Changes In Grooming

Typically, cats are fastidious groomers. Note whether your cat's coat is clean and free of mats. Patches of hair loss or a greasy or matted appearance can signal an underlying disease. Also watch to see if your cat has difficulty grooming. A decrease in grooming behavior can indicate fear, anxiety, obesity or other illnesses. An increase in grooming may be a sign of a skin problem.

 Signs Of Stress

Yes, your cat can be stressed despite having an “easy” life. Boredom and sudden lifestyle changes are common causes of stress in cats. Stressed cats may spend less time grooming and interacting, or they may spend more time awake and scanning their environment, hide more, withdraw and exhibit signs of depression. They could also change their eating patterns. These same signs may indicate a medical condition. It is important to rule out medical problems first and then address the stress. Because the social organization of cats is different from that of people and dogs, changes in the family, such as adding a new pet, should be done gradually. Please contact your veterinary hospital for information on how to successfully make changes in your household.

Changes In Vocalization

An increase in vocalization or howling is more common in older cats and is often seen with some underlying condition such as hyperthyroidism or high blood pressure. Many cats also vocalize more if they are in pain or anxious. If you note a change in vocalization, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out medical problems and to obtain suggestions for minimizing or eliminating the behavior.

Bad breath

Studies show 70 percent of cats have gum disease as early as age 3. It is important to have your cat's teeth checked every six months to help prevent dental disease or to start treatment of problems. One of the early indicators of an oral problem is bad breath. Regular home teeth brushing and veterinary dental care prevent bad breath, pain, tooth loss and spread of infection to other organs.

Adapted from:

The answers to the quiz are: C, A, C, B, C, D, A, B, C, D

The LA Dodgers have opened this season with a 9-1 record, the best in the Major Leagues.  Granted, it's still very early in the season...but, I feel our players are playing with a comfort level that could only come from knowing that they are out from under the pressurized atmosphere of having an owner who didn't have the team's best interests at heart.  We had to turn a triple play in the 9th inning to win today's game but that's what winning teams do...they find a way to win the game.

Desperado and Helpful Buckeye lost a canine friend this week back in Richmond, VA.  Our good friends Barbara and Don, told us that their Scottish Terrier, Megan, had reached the end of her life.

This is the appropriate time to use a quote I've been memory of Megan:

"We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made."—M. FACKLAM

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

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