Whenever I hear of changes in a kitty’s litter habits, the first advice I give our customers is to see your vet for urinalysis, blood work, and a physical exam to rule out health problems. There are many health reasons for a cat’s litter habits to change, such as obesity, impacted anal glands, diabetes, urinary tract infection, or crystals, thyroid disease, and high blood pressure.
If your vet finds no physical problem, consider litter box basics: boxes should be large, immaculately clean, far from noisy appliances, and safe from toddlers or litter box bullies. Be sure your big cat has a really big litter box, too! Older cats need low sided, easy to find litter boxes located in areas without physical barriers such as steps or tall pet doors because old joints may become stiff and painful and old bladders may not have much control. Look for my in depth tips in “Litter Box Woes.”
In some cats, anxiety can lead to Feline Idiopathic Cystitis, FIC, and even obstructions, FLUTD. Why? If another pet or child or even changes in routine frighten your kitty, kitty may respond by hiding with decreased drinking and/or holding urine which in turn may lead to discomfort urinating, crystals, or infection. We request antibiotics when no cause is found because sometimes the cat’s infection escapes detection. If antibiotics improve symptoms, there was infection, so be sure to prevent recurrence.
If your cat is straining and crying in the litter box, this is an emergency. Hours count. See your vet ASAP. Cats that are unable to pass urine for as short a time as 36 hours are in serious trouble. These cats may need surgery and will need substantial vet care to recover.
Urinary Tract Infections, UTI, cause pain and difficulty urinating. Your cat may have blood in the urine, visit the box frequently, and/or urinate in places other than the litter box including on furniture and beds. Age matters. Infections in younger cats are often resolved with antibiotics and/or change in diet and environment, while UTI in cats over 10 years with no prior history of UTI is frequently secondary to another medical condition.
Some cats will have kidney or bladder stones or crystals without a detectable infection. Your vet will analyze the sediment and prescribe suitable diet to prevent the specific crystals your cat forms. Kittentanz recommends selecting suitable canned food and then adding more water because diluting the urine also helps to dissolve crystals and prevent future problems.
Once your cat has been diagnosed with a UTI or crystals, we strongly recommend changes in your care. Switch to a canned food diet with added water to help your kitty recover and to decrease the chance of another infection. Use Pretty Litter which turns red if there is blood in the urine and blue if there is UTI https://prettylittercats.com/
Consider your cat’s physical fitness. Fat, out of shape, cats can have trouble fully emptying their bladder, which predisposes to crystals and infections. Canned food diet in controlled portions and increased playtime will help these cats flush out their bladders and reach a more healthy weight.
Starting at 7 or 8, senior cats need to be screened every year for Chronic Kidney Disease, CKD. Many vets screen geriatric cats twice a year starting at about 12. One in 3 cats over 15 has CKD. If your cat hates going to the vet, then find a vet in your area who makes house calls. A simple way to monitor your cat’s elderly cat’s kidney output at home is to use Dr Elsey’s Health monitor everyday litter.
CKD in older cats is not cured, but good vet care and proper diet may extend the length and will improve the quality of your senior cat’s life. Once again, we recommend canned food diet because maintaining higher water intake will help your older cat feel better.
Your vet can recommend suitable foods. If your cat does not like one food, ask for others. There are many, many options, and you can even order a wide variety of prescription canned and dry foods online. Here are links to several flavors of a non-prescription canned food for young cats with recurring UTI:
The personalities of Siamese and Tonkinese are special and make for unique and wonderful companions but are sometimes accused of being loud or grumpy….
Siamese and Tonkinese cats and their relatives are very affectionate and talky. Not all affectionate cats are clingy or loud, but they may be, particularly when feeling stressed. One of the major reasons of stress in a cat’s life is separation anxiety. Cats can be much stressed when they feel that their “people” are leaving them!
You can reduce separation anxiety and increase kitty’s confidence and independence using the following tips:
Leaving the radio or television on when you go out provides the illusion of company and masks frightening noises.
Don’t make a fuss when leaving, and have keys ready for a quick exit.
Giving kitty a favorite toy or treat before you leave distracts kitty and associates your departure with treat time.
When returning home, ignore kitty for a few minutes, especially if kitty is demanding. Give attention only after kitty is calm.
Providing a hideaway such as kitty condo, carrier, or box with a door gives kitty a safe retreat when alone and anxious. Add a piece of your clothing that has your comforting scent.
Consider adopting a second kitty, but handle introductions properly.
To help needy cats become more confident and independent:
Engage in interactive play rather than cuddling.
Ignore demanding behavior. Set times for affection such before eating breakfast & evening during TV, and stick to your routines.
If kitty begins to knead or suck on your clothing or earlobes, gently remove kitty from your lap, get up, and leave the room.
Calming products such as Feliway help some kitties.
Is needy kitty bored? Provide an enriched environment with plenty of toys, a cat tree, and a bird feeder view. Consider taking kitty with you on a leash to do fun things. This might help kitty relax when traveling to the vet.
Siamese and Tonkinese are very social and “dog like.” This means that, like dogs, they can be upset when their owners are gone unexpectedly. So, if your kitty is stressed about your leaving, try to use these tips above and try to use positive reinforcement to help your kitty to be “The Best Cat, Ever!.”
I often must defend my choice to feed Purina to my cats, yet my customers and friends are usually surprised to hear that one third of my actively breeding cats are technically senior or geriatric cats. Furthermore, our vet has just examined these older cats and found no diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, heart disease, etc. We do select our cats from lines that are long lived and healthy with superb temperament and good teeth, but there is more to our healthy cats than just good genes.
Kittens and cats will only reach their full potential if they eat great, fresh food. The analysis on pet food labels is a calculated estimate. Only feeding trials really establish that a food is suitable. Your cats require specific nutrients, not particular ingredients or a certain percent dietary protein or fat.
We will be adding links to purchasing these foods to our Shopping Page soon!
We feed Purina because Purina carefully sources and stores their ingredients, maintains a cat colony for real world food testing, does cutting edge research, and has control over their manufacturing process. In contrast, many so called premium brands actually are produced by another manufacturer whose profit depends only on fast production. This leads to poor quality and recalls in spite of premium sounding ingredients.
Purina offers many choices to match your cat with just the right food for life stages and special concerns. I will touch on some of these over a few weeks starting today with life stages.
We feed Purina Cat Chow Complete to our kittens, young cats up to 6 years old, and pregnant or nursing queens. This is great food that is widely available and offers excellent value. We buy ours at Sams, but here is a link to get it online.
Purina research clearly demonstrates that feeding cats a high quality diet including antioxidants, prebiotics, and poly unsaturated fatty acids both extended life span by a year and maintained better health throughout this longer life. Kittentanz feeds our breeding seniors aged 7 to 10 Purina One Vibrant Maturity adult premium dry cat food 7+ and our breeding geriatric cats 11 and more years old Purina Proplan Focus 11+ chicken and rice formula. Our alteredretired geriatric cat, Tango, eats Purina Pro Plan focus 11+ indoor care turkey and rice in controlled portions as he is overweight. We order these products online.
We also feed to maintain healthy weight, manage hairballs, urinary problems, etc . I will cover those topics soon.
I know a lot of my customers want to plant their gardens soon and why not plan a few plant for your kitty?
Here are some ideas for planting some window box plants ( for city or strictly indoor cats) or some more open-air ideas for more free ranging feline friends.
Wheat or Oat Grass: (Grow to Height: 1 foot) What cat people call ‘cat grass’ is actually either wheat grass or oat grass, and sometimes, a combination of the two. While wheat and oat grasses could eventually grow to be 5 feet tall if grown outdoors and left to seed, the grains grown by both plants are toxic to cats and so they must be kept short – either by feline “mowers” or by human hand clippers.
Lemongrass: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Both cats and people love the smell of the aptly named lemongrass. In fact, some people even say their cat prefers lemongrass to any other plant! The plant itself is quite healthful offering a host of benefits. It has antibacterial, antifungal, antiparasitic, antiseptic, diuretic, sedative, and digestion-improving properties! Lemon grass can grow as tall as 3 feet and given room to spread, may span as far as 8 feet over time.
Catnip: (Maximum Height: 4 feet) A member of the mint family, named for its most enthused appreciator, catnip interestingly has opposite effects for people and cats. While many “sleepytime” and relaxation tea blends contain catnip to soothe and sedate us, its scent gives many of our adult feline friends a frisky burst of energy. (Though not all adult cats react to catnip, and kittens never do.) It’s thought that this works by mimicking feline “happy” pheromones. When cats eat catnip however, it has an effect very similar to that in humans. Cats mellow and become calmer.
Mint: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Catnip’s not the only member of the mint family kitties like. In fact, you can plant any one of the hundreds of mint varieties out there for both you and your cat enjoy! One particular favorite of mine which I grow in my own garden is a chocolate mint plant that truly tastes like a grasshopper ( the delicious cookie kind – not the insect)! Other great options are apple mint, lemon mint, and of course, the classics – peppermint and spearmint. ( A word of caution with this one however – EXCESSIVE intake of peppermint can cause digestive upset in cats. For this reason, it’s important you monitor your cats, especially when first introducing the plant. A leaf here and there is fine, a salad bowl portion is not. Fortunately, most cats only nibble, preferring to smell and rub against peppermint plants rather than eating them, so this isn’t likely to be a problem.)
Parsley: (Maximum Height: 2 feet) Says LA Times writer, Julie Davis in her own article on cat garden growing “Parsley is a favorite that provides vitamins A, B, C and beta carotene, potassium and other minerals…” And of course, like many of the plants here actually, parsley is dual-purpose – a yummy dietary addition for both you and your favorite feline.
Zinnias: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) While your kitty may not necessarily prefer these to some of the other plants in this list, zinnias are safe for feline nibbling, and even considered among the edible flower options for people. Besides – they add a nice flash of bright color to an otherwise green-on-green kitty garden!
Marigolds: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Marigolds give of a wonderful fresh, almost minty scent and as an added bonus help deter unwanted garden pests. They are also completely safe for cats and once again, add a nice splash of color to a cat garden. Like zinnias, marigold petals are also sometimes used for culinary purposes.
Johnny-Jump Ups: (Maximum Height: 10 inches) A variety of violets growing an abundance of little delicate flowers adds more color variety and visual interest to a feline garden. While most commonly coming in variations of purple, yellow, and white, these edible flowers are available in a wide assortment of color options.
Thyme: (Maximum Height: 1 foot) While there is a specific variety of thyme – cat thyme – which is a favorite of felines (be warned, says petMD – cat thyme has a particularly strong and some say, unpleasant, odor to us humans), any sort of thyme will appeal and be safe to grow in your kitty garden. “Cat thyme has the same soothing effects as catnip, with the attendant feelings of contentment…” says petMD. Bonus – thyme adds a yummy burst of flavor to roasted meat and vegetables!
Rosemary: (Maximum Height: 5 feet) As a bush-growing herb, rosemary is a fun contrast among the grasses and typically low-growing herbs and flowers. As a safe choice for cats (and a yummy choice for your meat and potatoes!), rosemary adds a wonderful pine-like fragrance to the home and boasts the added benefit of repelling fleas in your kitties.
Carrots: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) While your cats aren’t likely to go digging in the dirt for delicious root we love, carrot tops are a healthful herb they may enjoy. As a matter of fact, their lack of interest in a carrots below-the-soil offerings can make things really easy and inexpensive for you. Simply save and plant your left-over carrot tops. They won’t regrow their roots, but they will readily offer up a bunch of pretty lacy greens.
Valerian: (Maximum Height: 4 feet) As mentioned earlier, not all cats respond to catnip as a stimulant. However, if your cat is among this crowd of indifferents and that’s a little disappointing to you, you may find valerian is the trick! Like catnip, valerian is actually a sedative in humans – in fact, I keep a box of valerian tea and supplements around in case I’m feeling stressed. In kitties however, the effect is just the opposite and it’s suggested that even if cats don’t care about catnip, they will take to it. In fact, says Herbal Cat Care author, veterinarian Dr. Randy Kidd, “Some cats go even crazier for valerian.”
Lavender: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) Unlike other human sedative herbs, lavender has the same tranquilizing effect in our cats as it does on us, and both people and feline friends appreciate it’s sweet, soothing scent (the leaves are fragrant as well by the way, so you won’t need to wait for blooms to enjoy it). Lavender makes an interesting addition to a cat garden, a yummy addition to your food such as in the classic French spice blend Herbs de Provence (savory + marjoram+ rosemary + oregano+ lavender leaves or flowers) and a luxurious addition to a warm bath.
Spider Plants: (Maximum Height: 3 feet) But wait. Wasn’t I just complaining about my poor spider plant earlier? Yes, and it turns out there’s a good reason my cats were so interested! Says Ruth Amick for the SFGate, “It has grassy leaves, which may be one of the reasons many cats love it. It also contains compounds related to opium, which may explain why so many cats just can’t leave it alone.” As it turns out also, spider plants are safe for cats to nibble on, so if you have a plant you don’t mind sharing with your kitties, you’re good to go. Actually, the tendril “baby” growths from which spider plants get their name, come already equipped with a little root system of their own so it’s really easy to propagate several new spider plants from a large mature one.
Silver Vine: (Maximum Height: 15 feet) This is one I had never heard of, but sounds quite interesting. Like catnip, valerian – and maybe spider plants, as it turns out – silver vine has a harmless, but intoxicating effect on cats that’s said to be greater than that of catnip. Note that this is the “Actinidia polygama” type of silver vine I’m talking about and not the common vine pothos plants sometimes called silver vine. Pothos plants, while not poisonous will cause a burning sensation in your cats mouth and often vomiting as well should they try and eat them. For this reason, they are not recommended in the homes of cat owners. Actinidia polygama is an entirely different plant related to kiwi and in fact, produces fruit with a pleasant sweet/tart strawberry-like flavor and more vitamin C than oranges (or so I’m told by the internet). As they are climbers, most advice regarding its growth deals with an outdoor setup near a fence or trellis.
Keeping your kitty out of mischief is a daily duty, but owners have to be extra vigilant during the summer, when threats to your cat’s well-being generally rise with the temperature, says Michael Stone, a veterinarian who specializes in small animal care at Cummings School. He points out a few of the hazards and offers up some remedies:
Accidental poisonings. Fleas and ticks are abundant in the warmer months, and cats can get very ill when they’re exposed to antitick and antiflea products developed specifically for dogs. Cat owners should talk with their veterinarian about the safest preventive measures, especially if there are other animals in the home. Never apply a product that isn’t labeled safe for cats.
Antifreeze, a sweet-smelling liquid that’s very attractive to cats, tends to leak out of overheated automobiles during hot weather and puddle on driveways and garage floors. If your cat laps up ethylene glycol, the main ingredient in many antifreezes, it can cause serious damage to the kidneys, and if untreated, lead to kidney failure within 24 hours. Protect your cat by cleaning up spills immediately and fixing coolant leaks in your car right away.
Falls. A cat can sustain serious injury or be killed by leaping or accidentally tumbling from an open window or balcony. Make sure that all upper-story windows in your home are properly screened—and double-check that the screens are tightly fitted and closed.
Encounters with cars and other animals. Of all the warm weather threats to cats, none is more potentially fatal than being hit by a car. Also, bite injuries sustained in fights with other animals are a portal through which bacteria can enter and then multiply and cause a serious infection. Fatal diseases, such as feline leukemia, can be contracted through bite wounds. So play it safe and keep your cat indoors at all times.
If I might add another danger.. Heatstroke! Please be aware that cats do not sweat. So, it might not be apparent that your kitten is getting overheated. Please see the following graphic for more information: