Category Archives: cat health

Litter Getter Review

Cats make a house a home but litter box smell can make home life nothing but strife. Litter box issues can spring from a variety of issues. If your vet has ruled out physical or emotional problems and the box is kept clean and accessible, Litter Getter might help attract your cat to the box — and not the carpet or bed.

blog_buy_lg_now_-e1412825715335Sprinkle some Litter Getter on top of the litter and the scent promises to attract cats to the box. This can be particularly helpful for blind or elderly cats. The all-natural ingredients include herbs mixed with soy oil and rosemary extract.

According to the company’s website, they were inspired by Jackson, a blind cat. Jackson’s progressive loss of sight made it difficult for him to find the litter box. So his family eventually created a product that helped not only Jackson — but cats everywhere. We were intrigued, so we wanted to try Litter Getter with Stanni and Lennie.

First off, the granules had a vaguely grassy scent that blended nicely with the pine litter.  We did consider the very detailed directions a bit of overkill. Just open the container and add a dusting on top of the litter and lightly mix it in.

Now, the real test. What would Stanni and Lennie do? Stanni picked up the scent immediately. She marched over to the box, sniffed intently and walked away. Maybe she was simply processing the smell but 2 minutes later she was in the box. She didn’t seem to love it or hate it but Litter Getter got her attention. She had the same reaction on Day 2. So by that standard, Litter Getter works.

Lennie seemed to react like a typical young male. The scent attracted him pretty quickly but his first reaction was to sniff, dig and kick litter all over the bathroom. He seemed quite proud of himself. It neither attracted him nor repelled him from the box.

Our take: Litter Getter can be an effective way to draw elderly or sick cats to the box and we endorse any product that helps seniors. The ingredients are natural but check with your vet to make sure your cat doesn’t have any issues with any ingredient.

Watch the video below to see Litter Getter in action as Aries the cat gives his review.

Remember, daily litter maintenance is a must to keep your cat — and you — happy. Petfinder.com offers the following tips for keeping cat box odor at bay:

1. Scoop the box daily or more.

2. Replace the litter twice a week.

3. Replace the litter box once a year.

4. Try litter deodorizers.

5. Find a brand of litter that smells best to you (and your cat).

6. Keep the litter box in a well-ventilated area.

We would like to add our own thoughts to No. 5. Heavily-scented clay litters can aggravate breathing issues for your or your cat. While we believe the cat always wins when it comes to choosing the litter, always consider natural products such as pine or wheat-based litter. Better for your cat; better for everyone’s health and environment.

Please leave a comment if you have used Litter Getter or any “litter training” product. We’d love to know what you think.

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And the Winner is…..

Hana didn’t need a contest to be a star. For 16-and-a-half years, this lovely girl brought happiness to her family. Unfortunately, time catches up with all of us, and on November 15, 2010, Hana crossed the Rainbow Bridge. A death in the family is always hard and you never really get over it. Meantime, it was nice to see how the OCR community appreciated Hana’s beauty and sweet soul. She won the contest — and our heart.

Our condolences go out to Hana’s family. It is a bittersweet way to end OCR’s second Cutest Senior Cat Contest on Facebook. Nevertheless, it is a reminder of how precious time and our cats are and the importance of savoring every moment.

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Pet Insurance: Should You Buy It?

By Heather Green
OldCatsRule

No one has to tell you that there are tons of products being marketed for pets that are completely unnecessary and wasteful of your time, money, and effort. Seriously, who needs a designer Snuggie for dogs? Sometimes it’s fun to buy novelty items for pets, but the upshot of it is that we know when we’re buying stuff we don’t need for our furry friends. If only it were so easy to decide whether or not to buy pet insurance – but with the following discussion of benefits and caveats, you should be able to figure out why insurance is worth it (or not) for you and your pet.

The Benefits of Pet Insurance

  • If you have an older pet, the good news is that insurance can help you save on increasing health care costs, compensating for the more frequent and extensive health issues that often afflict older pets. With new technological developments, treatment prices are going up steadily. For example, when pets are found to have cancer, chemotherapy and radiation treatments are now available and can cost you thousands of dollars if your pet is uninsured.
  • Once you’ve met your deductible, your insurance company will take care of the rest. Often, these deductibles are priced from $50 to $200, but more at-risk pets may require higher ones.
  • Monthly payments are pretty low, ranging from about $17 to $50. Older pets and those who have been consistently ill are likely to require payments at the higher end of the spectrum, but if you ever need to pay bills for chemotherapy, broken bones, ingestion of foreign objects, vehicular accidents, or other extreme cases, you’ll be glad you chose to pay each month.
  • Most insurance plans cover a wide variety of potential mishaps and illnesses. For example, car accidents, dog attacks, accidental poison or foreign object ingestion, X-rays, surgeries, cancer, diabetes, heartworm issues, allergies, arthritis, other illnesses, and even preventative care are all covered. You won’t have to pay for your annual checkups, dental cleaning, or vaccinations when you purchase pet insurance.
  • You can choose any vet you’d like to use.
  • Depending on which insurance company you select, you may be able to enjoy benefits like discounts on food, boarding, and training in addition to vet bills.

Factors to Give You Pause

  • Because monthly insurance payments depend on your pet’s age, breed, and location, the insurance you need for older pets is often much more expensive. However, if you buy insurance while your pet is still young, you’ll have a better chance of having a more reasonable monthly payment once your pet begins to age.
  • Hereditary problems, genetic conditions, and predisposition to issues like hip dysplasia often are not covered or require an additional monthly charge.
  • Declawing is not covered.
  • If your annual vet bills total less than the amount you spend on insurance, you’re wasting money.

Making Your Decision

Even if you end up paying more for insurance than you would for vet bills, pet insurance might be the right choice for you if you want the peace of mind that comes with it. You won’t have to worry about any surprise charges, expenses, or decisions about treatment based on price ranges. It’s impossible to tell whether or not your pet will ever need insurance, but some animals are more predisposed to illness or other health conditions than others. For these types of pets in particular, insurance tends to be a popular option, but premiums are higher in these situations. In the end, it’s up to you as you decide how much of a strain your budget can take, whether or not you can afford another monthly bill, and how important your pet’s health is.

Heather Green is former veterinarian tech, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice on online nursing colleges

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The Daily Cat: Nutrition Help for Aging Cats

From the Editors of The Daily Cat

As a cat ages, changes occur in the way its body functions, so it makes sense that what it eats might also need to change. The following list of health issues may be more common in aging pets.

  • Decreased immune system function
  • More frequent intestinal problems
  • Decreased mobility
  • Dental issues

For mature cats with health issues, you can help by providing special nutrition for their special needs.  Here’s how.

Decreased Immune System Function
Throughout a cat’s life, a process called peroxidation occurs. Peroxidation is a normal process that the body uses to destroy cells that outlive their usefulness and kill germs, parasites, etc. but also can destroy or damage healthy cells. As a cat ages, the damage caused by peroxidation accumulates which, in turn, increases the risk of certain problems, such as infections.

Antioxidants are naturally occurring nutrients that help maintain overall health by neutralizing the peroxidation process of cellular molecules. Some antioxidants, such as vitamin E, beta-carotene, and lutein, are naturally occurring nutrients.

Recent research has found that dogs and cats fed a diet rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, lutein, or beta-carotene had improved immune responses and vaccine recognition. This may be especially important for aging cats, because studies have found that as cats age, immune responses can decrease.

More Frequent Intestinal Problems
Older cats may have higher numbers of unfavorable bacteria and lower numbers of beneficial bacteria in their intestines, which can result in clinical signs of gastrointestinal problems (e.g., diarrhea).

Feeding a diet containing fructooligosaccharides (FOS) — a unique fiber source that helps nutritionally maintain healthy intestinal bacterial populations — promotes growth of beneficial bacteria. Beet pulp, a moderately fermentable fiber source, also helps maintain intestinal health by providing energy for the cells lining the intestine and promoting small, firm stools.

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The Daily Cat: Host a Playdate

From the Editors of The Daily Cat

When best friends Carolyn Miller and Jennifer Cohen adopted kittens around the same time, they decided it would be fun for their cats to become playmates. The reality of the situation was that one cat spent an hour terrorizing the other cat, causing worry about the cat’s safety. They agreed that would be the first and last playdate.

The right preparation can make cat playdates not only safe, but cat-tastic too. “Cats are social animals and can have one or more select friends,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, a Maryland-based, cat-exclusive veterinarian. “Cats that are properly socialized tend to be happier and enjoy their environment more.” Brunt offers her top five tips for helping your furry friend make friends of its own.

Tip No. 1: Start young.
“Kittens aged 7 to 12 weeks are the most suitable since this is the critical time to shape positive behavior,” says Brunt. “Many veterinarians recommend kitten socialization classes, like Kitten Kindergarten, where kittens are allowed to interact with each other.” During these classes, kittens are also introduced to handling, grooming and transport. Food rewards are given to reinforce positive actions and reactions.

Adult cats can also be socialized — they simply must be introduced to their new cat friends more slowly (see below).

Tip No. 2: Identify your cat’s personality type.
According to the American Association of Feline Practitioners, cats may be loosely classified into four categories: bold and active, easy and affable, withdrawn and timid, and assertive. Your cat may be easier or harder to socialize depending on its personality.

“Cats that are fearful and easily aroused will require more patience and time using positive rewards for tiny improvements in calm behavior,” says Brunt. The other three types will have an easier time in general. If possible, try to bring at least one easy and affable cat into each playdate pair. Avoid introducing a timid cat to a bold or assertive one.

Tip No. 3: Find a neutral territory.
“A neutral territory is a place neither cat has been,” explains Brunt. When neither cat has claimed a place as its own, you can expect less territorial and adversarial behaviors.

If a neutral territory is not a possibility, Brunt suggests choosing one room in your home. “Any room can serve as a playground, as long as you’re there.”

Tip No. 4: Make slow introductions.
“Always go slow!” emphasizes Brunt. Relaxed owners should introduce cats gradually — over a period of days or weeks. Begin with complete separation, which means the cats are occupying different rooms in the same house. Then allow the cats to make visual contact.

From there you can move to free exploration of the same room, but only when the cats are supervised. “All cats should be ‘chaperoned,’ preferably by at least two different people,” says Brunt.

Tip No. 5: Know your cat’s signals.
Your cat’s body language speaks loudly. “A ‘Halloween cat,’ standing with its back arched and tail up, is exhibiting an aggressive stance and should not be further aroused, as it may exhibit extreme aggression,” says Brunt.

Owners who are familiar with their cat’s communication can watch for signs that the animal is uncomfortable or unhappy, and can extricate the pet from the situation. Recognizing signs of contentment and positive energy is important as well. Brunt encourages rewarding an animal with treats for “speaking” appropriate body language.


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The Daily Cat: Nutrition Now Cat Food for Seniors

From the Editors of The Daily Cat

One of my cats, Sweetie Pie, is now over 20 years old. According to age conversion charts, that means she’s at least 96 in human years. The black-and-white-furred wonder is far from slowing down, however. She still loves to play and flirt with my elderly male cat. She wakes me up each morning by energetically jumping on my head and butting me in the nose.

But Sweetie has slowed down since her middle-aged years. For advice on what foods are best for senior cats like my Sweetie, I recently consulted Dayton, Ohio-based veterinarian Amy Dicke, DVM, who has been a member of teams consisting of nutritionists, researchers and fellow veterinarians.

Cats Are Senior at 7 Years of Age
“The cat may look youthful on the outside, but aging changes are occurring on the inside,” explains Dr. Dicke. If your cat is at or over the age of 7, you should transition to a “maturity” food formulated for senior cats.

Ingredients Should Satisfy Nutritional Requirements
Cat food for felines of any age should be 100 percent nutritionally complete, with no fillers or artificial preservatives. Beyond that, Dr. Dicke says these three food components gain added importance for senior kitties:

  • Antioxidants Substances that neutralize the peroxidation process are called antioxidants. Peroxidation is a normal function during which the body destroys cells that outlive their usefulness, but it can also damage healthy cells. Antioxidants like vitamin E come to the rescue by combating this damage. They also improve immune responses, which decrease as a pet ages.
  • Prebiotics Nondigestible food ingredients like soluble fibers, which can stimulate the growth or activity of good gastrointestinal bacteria, are referred to as prebiotics. They’re especially important for aging felines.
    “Older cats tend to have a higher number of undesirable bacteria and a lower number of beneficial bacteria in their intestines, which can result in digestive upset,” says Dr. Dicke. “Prebiotics, such as fructooligosaccarhides (FOS) can nutritionally promote the growth of desirable bacteria and help bring the digestive tract back into balance.”
  • Protein All cats are protein-craving carnivores. Protein, the building block of muscle tissue, merits extra attention for senior kitties, though. “A diet for a healthy older pet should maintain a higher protein level to preserve muscle and [to allow the cat to] continue to be physically active,” says Dr. Dicke.

Feed a Low-fat Diet
Mammals experience reduced energy expenditures and lowered metabolic rates as the years tick on. Exercise helps, so continue to play with your mature cat but be sensitive to your pet’s limitations and when rest time is needed. In terms of food, diets reduced in fat levels with lower caloric density than adult maintenance foods are beneficial to the majority of older cats. In addition, high-quality manufactured foods often include healthier fats, like fish oil, which contain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies indicate that these acids support heart, brain, joint and digestive functions.

Pay More Attention to Dental Issues
Some creatures, like sharks, can regenerate teeth if they lose them. Unfortunately, cats can’t perform this natural tooth-replacement trick. Once a tooth is lost, it’s gone for good, and kitty dentures aren’t yet available. Another problem, according to Tiffany Margolin, DVM, is that older cats can develop cavity-like “gum erosions,” which can practically dissolve the teeth. If you cannot brush your cat’s teeth on your own, take it to your veterinarian for annual professional cleanings. Also, seek out dry cat foods formulated to reduce tartar buildup. 

Note Behavioral Changes
When I recently celebrated a birthday, Sweetie Pie and I looked at each other as if to sing a mental chorus of Stevie Nicks’ Landslide: “I’m getting older too.” Sometimes it takes a birthday or other milestone in life to wake us up to physical changes. Dr. Dicke advises that cat owners “can improve the quality of life for senior cats by recognizing their changing physical capabilities — such as a declining ability to jump up or a difficulty in climbing into the litter box — and make efforts to aid their feline companion in these everyday activities.” The lowered litter box and maturity cat food in my pantry remind me that Sweetie is a bit past her prime. But I treasure every moment with her and hope she continues to go off the cat age chart.

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The Daily Cat: Special Purr Allows Cats to Manipulate Humans

From the Editors of The Daily Cat

At 5 a.m., my cats want two things: breakfast and attention. Their Plan A is to meow louder than an alarm clock, which usually works. If I take longer than usual to respond, they resort to their no-fail Plan B: climbing on top of my head, butting my chin and purring with hypnotic desperation directly into my ear.

Perhaps you’ve also heard this special purr? Scientists have just named it “solicitation purring,” otherwise known as the purr we humans cannot ignore.

What Is Solicitation Purring?
Karen McComb, a cat owner herself, led the recent study on purring, published in the journal Current Biology. After she and her colleagues analyzed the acoustic structure of recorded cat purrs, they determined one particular type contains an embedded, high-pitched cry. “The high-frequency voiced cry occurs at a low level in cats’ normal purring, but we think that cats dramatically exaggerate it when it proves effective in generating a response from humans,” explains the University of Sussex behavioral ecologist.

The cry, much to a cat’s benefit, is very similar to that of a wailing human infant. “Cats have about the right size of vocal folds to produce a cry that is similar to a baby’s, so there is a coincidental element,” says Dr. McComb. In fact, she believes this cry component of a solicitation purr can sound remarkably like a crying child, and that is particularly effective with humans.

How It Works
If your cat sees you stirring from sleep at all in the early morning, it will immediately switch into giving this solicitation purring and position itself next to your head so you get the full impact. Sound familiar? Here’s what’s really taking place:

First Your cat gets a craving for food, water, attention, playtime or something else. Being relatively small, furry and unable to get to such things alone in your home, your pet sets a strategy in motion.

Second Your cat approaches you while vibrating its vocal folds, or cords, in its larynx. “This is not a normal vocal production mechanism [in the animal kingdom],” says Dr. McComb. “Usually in mammals, the vocal folds are just moved into the airstream and then are blown open and snap shut at their own natural frequency of vibration.” The resulting vibrating low fundamental frequency results in a purr.

Third Your cat doesn’t just continue to purr as usual. It voices a cry, “probably with the inner edges of the vocal folds,” believes Dr. McComb. The cry is superimposed on the regular purr.

Fourth You hear the solicitation purr and instinct kicks in. Studies show that most primates are driven to respond to the sound of an infant in distress, so your brain on some level perceives your cat as though it were an actual human baby, even though you consciously know it’s your needy feline.

Last If you are like most owners, you give in to what your cat desires. Considering cats cannot use actual words, the system is surprisingly effective. Nicolas Nicastro, who studied cat vocalizations at Cornell University, says that although they lack language, cats have become very skilled at managing humans to get what they want — food, shelter and a little human affection.

Have Cats Domesticated Humans?
Cats are domesticated animals that have learned to pull the right levers and make the right sounds to manage our emotions. And when we respond, we too are domesticated animals.

However, don’t confuse cats for little people. “Felines cannot say, ‘Take a can of food out of the cupboard, run the can opener and fill my bowl immediately,’” says Nicastro. They’ve evolved a different, yet no less effective, method of communicating with us.

Four Types of Purrs
Dr. McComb and Georgia Mason, a professor at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, suggest cats might purr in at least four ways:

  • Contentment purr This is “the relaxing one,” says Dr. Mason. It’s the common low frequency rumbling we both hear and feel.
  • Silent purr Purrs can occur as silent forms that we humans feel but not hear. Kitten purrs are particularly easy to feel, probably because of a kitten’s ability to communicate “all is well” to its natural mother.
  • Solicitation purr This is the newly identified purr with the embedded baby-like cry. “It’s amazing the way certain cries are recognized by humans as needy, even by non-cat owners,” says Dr. Mason.
  • Pain purr Cats also sometimes purr when they’re extremely ill. No one is certain why, but some experts have speculated the felines are attempting to comfort themselves.

If you have heard the solicitation purr, consider yourself lucky. “Not all cats use this solicitation purring,” explains Dr. McComb. “It seems to most often develop in cats that have a one-on-one with their owners.”

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