Cat Tales

Indoor vs Outdoor Cats

posted July 7th, 2016 by
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Indoor vs Outdoor Cats

Indoor vs Outdoor Cats

Indoor vs Outdoor Catsby Mira Alicki

Immediately one pictures packs of lions in Africa or a lone cheetah chasing down its prey. Cats are natural born explorers and hunters and domesticated cats retain that instinct whether they are raised outdoors or not. Many cat owners come to crossroads of having to choose what environment they want to raise their feline in: outdoors or indoors. If you are unsure of which option to choose, we’ve compiled a list to help with your decision.
Health

DISEASE. The biggest concerns for outdoor cats are feral and homeless cats that may come in contact your own. The American Feral Cat Coalition estimates that there are about 60 million feral and homeless cats living in the United States alone. Many of these cats carry a number of potentially fatal or dangerous diseases such as:

• Feline leukemia (FeLV)
• Feline AIDS (FIV)
• FIP (feline infectious peritonitis)
• Feline distemper (panleukopenia)
• Upper respiratory infections (or URI).

The first two listed, FIV and FeLV, are highly contagious and fatal. If your cat is going to spending any time outside, make sure you take them to get additional health care and vaccinations to protect against these diseases.

PARASITES. In addition to diseases, many outdoors attract fleas and bring them into the home. Even with a flea collar, cats may bring in parasites from the outside depending on their environment. Some other parasites that your cat may pick up during their outdoor exploration are:

• Ticks
• Ringworm (a fungal infection)
• Ear mites
• Intestinal Worms

These parasites not only cause moderate to severe symptoms to your feline but may also be spread to you and your family. Once a parasite has hitched a ride into your home, it is often times difficult to fully eradicate them from your home.

EXERCISE. The outdoors is the optimal environment for your cat when it comes to exercise. They are free to run wild and explore on their own. This also means getting fewer toys to keep them entertained indoors and less time spent helping them get the exercise that they need. Cats that spend all of their time indoors can become:

• Dependent on their owners for simulation: this can cause a cat to become stressed when the owners are absent and unable to entertain themselves.
• Clingy when they owner is home: this can cause a cat to become less welcoming to strangers or others who enter their home and take time away from their owner.
• Destructive to furniture: even with stretching posts and proper care, indoor cats may find expensive furniture to satisfy their needs and destroy them.

If you do allow your feline to venture outside, remember to:

• Protect your feline from other cats and animals. Keep them on a leash or let them out in a confined area like your backyard, where they are less likely to run into them.
• Keep a careful watch on your cat when they’re outdoors
• Periodically visit the veterinarian to screen for parasites and diseases and keep their vaccines up-to-date.
Safety

CARS. In addition to feral and homeless cats that can attack your feline, cars cause many feline deaths. A popular and false belief is that cats have an innate instinct to avoid busy roads and cars, which is completely false. Cats are just as likely to run into the busiest road as a dog is.

ANIMAL CRUELTY. For whatever reason, there are people like to inflict abuse to wandering animals. Any roaming cat is a risk to be attacked or shot with a BB gun or arrows. Some felines end up being trapped and then abused and/or killed “for fun.”

OTHER ANIMALS. Thanks to the reputation of larger felines such as lions and cheetahs, cats are considered to be exceptional hunters. While domesticated cats also make exceptional hunters, they often find themselves being the hunted, not the hunter.

Depending on your location, domesticated cats are at risk of being hunted by:

• Loose or stray dogs
• Coyotes
• Raccoons
• Foxes
• Crocodiles

Many bites from these animals are serious and can often lead to death. While you can’t control wild animals, you can control where your cat explores. Keep an eye on your feline and keep them in a safe and confined area.

TOXINS AND POISONS. Felines often come in contact with dangerous and toxic substances that are being used to kill off other pests. Common toxins that cats can come in contact with are antifreeze or rodent poisons.

TREES. In popular culture, cats are found in stuck high up in a tree and are often saved by some hero walking by. When these cats find themselves stuck high in a tree, the will be unable or too scared to climb down and end up staying there. If not rescued quickly, the cat can become severely dehydrated and weak that they end up falling with severe to fatal injuries.

Environmental

HUNTERS. Cats have a reputation for having such a strong prey drive that they often hunt just for sport and “for fun.” Their prey tends to be birds or other small animals. While the impact of one domesticated cat doesn’t seem that much, it is estimated that cats kill hundreds of millions of birds every year with feral cats only killing 20% of that number.
Indoor Cats

The main concern for indoor cats is their stimulation and exercise. As they spend the majority of the life inside the house, it falls upon the owner to provide both. Here are some suggestions to keep your indoor cat from becoming too fat and lazy:

• Get a companion for your cat: whether it is another feline or a dog, a companion will keep your feline company while you’re away while also providing exercise, affection and companionship.
• Interactive food toy: instead of just dumping food into their bowl, make your feline work for it. By putting the dry food inside a toy, they have to play with the toy to get the food out forcing them to exercise for their food.
• Scratching posts: avoid having your feline destroy your furniture by buying a post where they can satisfy their natural instinct to scratch at objects.
• Create the perfect environment: by buying items for your cat as cat trees, cat perches (that face the sun), and hiding places to provide simulation and comfort to your feline companion.

-Mira Alicki is a jewelry designer and goldsmith for the past 22 years. Her passion for animals led her to create her own line of jewelry and online store to benefit charities. 40% of each purchase is donated back to the animal community. You can find Mira on Twitter (@FIMHjewelry) or Forever In My Heart.

 

Purrk Up! Cat Cafe

posted May 10th, 2016 by
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Cat with vintage ornament, silhouette

Purrk Up! Cat Cafe

Tulsa’s Original Cat Café

a Place Where Cats and Cat People Meet Over Coffee

Purrk UpPurrk Up!,Tulsa’s Original Cat Café, launches its Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign on Monday, May 16. Proceeds from the campaign will be combined with personal funds from founder, Susan Cram, to secure the cafe site near Hillcrest Medical Center and the University of Tulsa. Preparations will then continue for an opening targeted for this fall. Adoptable shelter cats from Tulsa Animal Welfare and the Tulsa SPCA will be available at Purrk Up! until each cat is placed with their forever home. The felines will thrive in the space where they can roam freely, play and be pampered to their hearts’ content. All patrons will be able to enjoy these cats – whether that’s someone who can’t have a cat in their home, someone who enjoys the therapeutic effect of cats, or someone looking for a home companion. Most importantly, this environment allows the cats to be more relaxed and ready to meet that special person who has come in specifically to adopt their next furry friend.
Local roaster, Topeca Coffee, will provide coffee beans to the cat café and several commercial sources of fresh baked goods and sandwiches are being considered as the café will most likely not start out with its own kitchen.
The design of the cat café will comply with local Health Department guidelines by separating the cat lounge from the coffee shop. Patrons will enter the coffee shop and either stay to enjoy their beverage and snack or take it with them into the lounge. No cats will be allowed in the coffee shop side. An online reservation system will ensure that the number of visitors won’t overwhelm the number of cats. However, there will likely be periods of the day when walk-ins can be accommodated as well.
The cat café concept has been wildly popular in the U.S. with approximately 40 locations in operation or close to opening. The idea isn’t new, however. Almost 20 years ago the first cat café opened in Taiwan with hundreds following across Asia with Europe following suit. While the early cat cafés in Asia primarily addressed the difficulty in having pets, the ones in the U.S. introduced adoptable cats into the picture which has resulted in increased adoptions and decreased euthanasia numbers.
If you are excited about having a cat café in Tulsa and would like to contribute to this project, time is limited to visit Purrk Up!’s Kickstarter page here

Here We Go Again

posted January 15th, 2016 by
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Coconut Oil

Here We Go Again! – A Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen
As I sit here and watch this kitten gaze into my eyes, I cannot help but think: “Here we go again!” This little girl came to me on Thanksgiving Day from a litter of three orphans. One kitten was already dead, with mama cat nowhere to be found. As spring approaches, this scenario will play out all too often. Fortunately, this girl and her brother were in good shape and readily took a bottle. Others will not be so lucky.
What can you do? Spay and neuter now before the major mating season begins!
You, the TulsaPets reader, probably think I sound like a broken record because you care about your pets. However, the Tulsa area still has a problem with pet overpopulation. Statistics for 2014 are incomplete as of this writing, but here is the depressing news for 2013 from Tulsa Animal Welfare: 3,785 cats were taken in, and 2,562 were euthanized! This doesn’t even include dogs or animals from suburbs such as Broken Arrow, Sapulpa or Owasso.
Nationally, some progress is being made on pet sterilization. I was excited to read recently in a Wall Street Journal article, “Too Many Dogs: A Simple Solution,” about a new chemical method for males which could be significantly cheaper—as low as $1 per animal. It consists of an injection of calcium chloride into the testicles and requires only a light sedative with no need for anesthesia or incisions. This method has been studied primarily on dogs but could be applicable to cats as well. An extensive study was done in India, and calcium chloride has been used on dogs on the Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota. Closer to home, an animal shelter in Lawton, Okla., has been using it since last spring.
Although the calcium chloride research goes back to the 1970s, it has not been approved by the FDA. It is such a common chemical that it cannot be patented, so drug companies have no motivation to invest the money ($10 million, according to the Wall Street Journal) for FDA approved trials. A few local veterinarians with whom I spoke seemed somewhat ambivalent.
Ruth Steinberger of SpayFirst! says her organization uses calcium chloride, but did not run blindly into the method without first conducting research. They had testosterone tests run at the endocrine lab at Colorado State University. After reading all of the already conclusive research, they still worked on this for months before feeling that they had enough data to support using it in the field. On another front, an approved sterilant called Zeuterin should be available for about $20 per animal to nonprofits.
Regarding feral cats specifically, most experts feel that sterilizing females is more effective than working on males. If a female goes into season, it doesn’t matter how many males in the colony are fixed; one from somewhere will likely find her. Neutering colony males only stops that particular male from being the father; it may not prevent a litter. But another chemical, megestrol acetate, is being tested on female cats. This is added to canned food on a weekly basis. It could be beneficial when a feral colony is being fed but cannot be captured. Apparently this method has been known about for decades, but is being ignored because there is no profit in it.
While a few dedicated researchers continue their studies in new methods, education of the public is the biggest challenge. Not everyone knows about the low-cost spay and neuter clinics available. What’s worse, not enough people care! My hope in writing this article is to bring this problem to your attention once again. When I tell people the sad story of how many cats are euthanized (I prefer the word “killed”) everyday, they are shocked. They cite rescue societies without realizing that they are always overloaded.
Locally, SpayOK is a great resource, with two locations in Tulsa, and StreetCats issues vouchers for low-cost spay/neuters. Both Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and StreetCats have traps available for loan. Please spread the word. We do not need more homeless orphans like the kitten pictured here. Let’s continue to speak out for her and others who cannot speak for themselves.

It’s Never Too Late

posted January 7th, 2016 by
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What's in Your Dog Shampoo

It’s Never Too Late – A Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen

Asshe lay dying, and could no longer speak, my friend penciled a note to me: “Please take care of my cats.” We had discussed this before, and I knew them   well: a young, mischievous Maine Coon, a middle-aged black male, and a 15-year-old black female. She had loved all animals, and these cats had been an important part of her life. They were her family since she had no human heirs. I was honored that she trusted me with her most valued possessions.       The Maine Coon was adopted very quickly, but I knew all too well that black animals  are difficult to place. Fortunately, the black male was placed eventually, but I was afraid that April, the “old girl,” would be with me forever.

April stayed in my kennel, and, at first, was very persnickety in the way she would allow anyone to touch her. She was declawed, so her first impulse was to bite. However, she mellowed with time and grew quite attached to me. She would dash into my office at every opportunity and became very fond of hanging out in my black office chair. Many people admired her, but no one wanted a “black” cat, especially an “old black” cat!

But recently, I was surprised to receive an email from a friend who had talked with someone wanting a black cat! It seems that this person’s 90-year-old mother was mourning the recent loss of her black cat. But the son was very specific; he did not want an old cat because he had recently spent thousands of dollars on veterinary care for the other cat. Well, April would not be the cat for them, but I knew of other black cats needing homes, so I invited him to visit.

Without hesitation, the son, D.J., came to meet whatever black cats I might show him. It so happened that April was in my lap when he arrived. As he sat in the chair opposite me, April got onto the desk to see him. He looked at her and said, “That looks just like my mother’s cat!” I guess April sensed that, for she promptly went over into his lap, started purring, and gave him a kitty kiss.

As I told him more about April’s story, I mentioned how she liked to sleep in my black chair, “black on black,” and was often nearly sat upon. He exclaimed, “My mother has a black chair just like that! Our cat always slept in it!”

Then we proceeded into the kennel. The first thing he spied was my father’s WWII army trunks. “We have one of those trunks!” he said, shaking his head. “My mother was a WWII army nurse.” He viewed other cats and talked to them gently, but his mind returned to April.

We then drove to another location where there was a younger black cat needing a home. As we left my driveway, another coincidence occurred. I have a black metal cat silhouette at the end of the drive, and guess what? There’s a similar one at their home!

We arrived at our destination and looked at several other cats who responded well, but the black cat I wanted him to see remained hidden under the bed. As he had time to think without pressure, there was no question in his mind. April was the black cat for his mother! I explained he could return April if it didn’t work out, but after searching for the right cat for several months, there was no doubt in D.J.’s mind.

When April arrived at her new home, she went immediately to sit in her new mom’s lap. She stayed with her all evening, except for a brief supper, which she ate heartily. No adjustment period necessary. And at bedtime, of course, she went to bed with Mom. April was home.

As of this writing, Mom and April are passing their days happily. April wakes her faithfully at 6 a.m., demands breakfast, and they then sit contentedly together by the window to watch the birds.  April frequently runs through the house like a kitten, enjoying one of her toy mice, and has her own special ottoman where she can nap peacefully if she gets bored with Mom’s game of solitaire. What could be a better match? A 19-year-old cat for a 90-year-old woman!

Coincidentally, on the very day that April found her new home, another friend forwarded me an email.  I had not yet shared April’s good news with her. The story was about a 102-year-old lady in Texas who had adopted a senior cat because she was lonely. The picture showed her hugging her new “furrever” friend. Yes, it’s never too late for love!

A Cat Tale

posted October 24th, 2015 by
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20150115c

by Camille Hulen

 

Here We Go Again!

As I sit here and watch this kitten gaze into my eyes, I cannot help but think: “Here we go again!” This little girl came to me on Thanksgiving Day from a litter of three orphans. One kitten was already dead, with mama cat nowhere to be found. As spring approaches, this scenario will play out all too often.  Fortunately, this girl and her brother were in good shape and readily took a bottle. Others will not be so lucky.

What can you do? Spay and neuter now before the major mating season begins!

You, the TulsaPets reader, probably think I sound like a broken record because you care about your pets. However, the Tulsa area still has a problem with pet overpopulation. Statistics for 2014 are incomplete as of this writing, but here is the depressing news for 2013 from Tulsa Animal Welfare: 3,785 cats were taken in, and 2,562 were euthanized! This doesn’t even include dogs or animals from suburbs such as Broken Arrow, Sapulpa or Owasso.

Nationally, some progress is being made on pet sterilization. I was excited to read recently in a Wall Street Journal article, “Too  Many Dogs: A Simple Solution,” about a new chemical method for males which could be significantly cheaper—as low as $1 per animal. It consists of an injection of calcium chloride into the testicles and requires only a light sedative with  no need for anesthesia or incisions. This method has been studied primarily on dogs but could be applicable to cats as well. An extensive study was done in India, and calcium chloride has been used on dogs on the Sioux Indian reservation in South Dakota. Closer to home, an animal shelter in Lawton, Okla., has been using it since last spring.

Although the calcium chloride research goes back to the 1970s, it has not been approved by the FDA. It is such a common chemical that it cannot be patented, so drug companies have no motivation to invest the money ($10 million, according to the Wall Street Journal) for FDA approved trials. A few local veterinarians with whom I spoke seemed somewhat ambivalent.

Ruth Steinberger of SpayFirst! says her organization uses calcium chloride, but did not run blindly into the method without first conducting research. They had testosterone tests run at the endocrine lab at Colorado State University.  After reading all of the already conclusive research, they    still worked on this for months before feeling that they had enough data to support using      it in the field. On another front, an approved sterilant called Zeuterin should be available for about $20 per animal to nonprofits.

Regarding feral cats specifically, most experts feel that sterilizing females is more effective than working on males. If a female goes into season, it doesn’t matter how many males in the colony are fixed; one from somewhere will likely find her. Neutering colony males only stops that particular male from being the father; it may not prevent a litter. But another chemical, megestrol acetate, is being tested on female cats. This is added to canned food on a weekly basis. It could be beneficial when a feral colony is being  fed but cannot be captured. Apparently this method has been known about for decades, but is being ignored because there is no profit in it.

While a few dedicated researchers continue their studies in new methods, education of the public is the biggest challenge. Not everyone knows about the low-cost spay and neuter clinics available. What’s worse, not enough people care! My hope in writing this article is to bring   this problem  to your attention once again.  When I tell people the sad story of how many cats are euthanized (I prefer the word “killed”) everyday, they are shocked. They cite rescue societies without realizing that they are always overloaded.

Locally, SpayOK is a great resource, with two locations in Tulsa, and StreetCats issues vouchers for low-cost spay/neuters. Both Oklahoma Alliance for Animals and StreetCats have traps available for loan. Please spread the word. We do not need more homeless orphans like the kitten pictured here. Let’s continue to speak out  for her and others who cannot speak for themselves.

A Cat Tale

posted September 12th, 2015 by
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20141115c

A Cat Tale

by Camille Hulen

 

A Tale of Two Kitties

 

~ Introductions ~

So you think you want a cat. There’s so much to consider. How do you find the right cat? How do you introduce yourself? How do you introduce a new cat into your home? Every cat and every situation is different as the following stories illustrate.

Duke and Thunder were litter mates. Although both would romp and play with other kittens, they behaved distinctly differently toward humans. Duke loved everyone, and his curiosity brought him to every stranger. Thunder, on the other hand, was fixated on his foster mom. He followed her everywhere, demanding attention but would run whenever a stranger came into the room.

Duke had no problem adjusting to his new home when he was adopted. Yes, he hid under the bed and was shy at first, but by the second day he was out and playing, claiming a blanket and empty boxes as his own.

Thunder was another story. Most potential adopters would simply look at Thunder and admire his beauty but then move on, saying, “He doesn’t like me.” One visitor, however, would not give up on Thunder. Although Thunder sought the highest shelf, almost out of reach, Rita followed him around, speaking to him softly. She showed him toys and offered him treats. Eventually, Thunder relented and let her touch him, so she filled out adoption papers and gave him a chance at a new home.

At first, Thunder hid under the bed in the guest room designated as his and refused to come out when his new human came near. However, when left alone, he would come out to eat and use the litter box, and they could hear him rummaging around at night. Throughout this time, Rita went into the room regularly to talk to him so that he would learn her voice. Then, after about three days, she found him on top of the bed! Progress!

From the guest room, Thunder moved into the office but would still seek the highest shelf, just out of reach. He would venture out when no one was looking and “steal” things to take to his hiding place. He was moving in and claiming territory. Next he would do “run-bys” trying to check out the humans, and sometimes sit within 3 feet of them, just observing. At other times he would follow Rita around to get a closer look. Fortunately, the new owners were amused by his behavior and did not get frustrated. Finally, one night he came to Rita as she was having a midnight snack and begged for food.  More progress!

As of this writing, after three weeks, Thunder is not yet a lap cat, but he is loved. I have no doubt that, in time, he will reciprocate with his love and purrs.

These stories illustrate the introductions of two different cats to their new homes, but here are some general tips for introducing a feline into a new environment/home:

  1. When you meet any cat, do not force yourself upon it. Speak quietly and touch it gently on the back of the neck or scratch it behind the ears. Do not attempt to pet it “head-on,” and give it an opportunity to bite. You cannot “pat” a cat like a dog.
  2. Do not attempt to pick up a strange cat! Above all, do not try to cuddle it to your face; this can be dangerous. It does not know you, and you cannot expect it to react like your own cat does. When you do pick it up, confine its front paws and hold it at your hip. Yes, you can scruff a cat by holding the skin at the back of its neck, but this takes practice, and it is not the best way to endear yourself to it.
  3. When you take the new kitty home, keep it in a confined space. A small bathroom is probably best because there are fewer places to hide. Provide water, a soft place to sleep and a litter box.
  4. Spend time in the room with the cat. Rather than leave food in the room, offer food while you are there, then take the food away when you leave. This way, the cat quickly identifies you as its food source. And, by all means, talk to the kitty and call it by name.
  5. Don’t panic. The cat may not eat for the first day because it is scared but continue to offer food at regular intervals. Play with it. For example, tease it with a toy on a string.
  6. When the cat is comfortable with you, release it into the rest of the house. Note: it’s probably better to keep bedroom doors closed at first unless you enjoy crawling on hands and knees, searching under beds.
  7. Relax and let the cat explore at its own pace. Continue to offer food in a designated place but do not keep food available all the time.
  8. If there are multiple cats in the house-hold, the idea of keeping the newcomer separate in its own room is even more important. Keep it in the room until it is comfortable and curious enough to come out. The resident cats will probably become curious as well and maintain a vigil by the door. Curiosity in a cat is a good thing!
  9. Exchange spaces for the cats. Allow the new cat to explore the house while the resident cats check out the smells where the new cat has been confined.
  10. When introducing cats, let them introduce themselves to each other. Do not force one upon the other. Chances are, they will hiss and growl at each other, then retreat and observe each other from a safe distance.
  11. If a scuffle develops, clap your hands and speak sternly. Do not yell and panic to protect your favorite. If necessary, a squirt from a spray water bottle works wonders.
  12. Mutual play with a toy on a string is a good icebreaker, as is a laser light. When the cats focus on the toy or “prey,” they tend to forget about each other.
  13. If you are uncomfortable leaving the cats alone with each other, continue to confine the newcomer in a separate room when you are not home. Eventually, the cats will find their own spaces. They may not become buddies but will usually learn to coexist.

Yes, when you adopt a cat, it finds its own space, both in your home and within your heart. And, I might add, the virtue any cat most assuredly teaches us is patience.

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