Cat Health Care Articles and Items of General Interest
It is impossible for a lover of cats to banish these alert, gentle, and discriminating friends who give us just enough of their regard and complaisance to make us hunger for more.
--Agnes Repplier (1855-1950)
Pet Sitter List of Recommended Readings . . . Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Cat
What to Feed Your Diabetic Cat
CatAdvice.co.uk General Cat Care Advice
Declawing! What You Need to Know
Animal and Pet Videos . . . The Purrfect Pet (The HSUS)
A. Some foods which are edible for humans, and even dogs, can pose hazards for cats because of their different metabolism. Some may cause only mild digestive upsets, whereas others can cause severe illness, and even death. The following common food items should not be fed (intentionally or unintentionally) to cats. This list is, of course, incomplete because we can not possibly list everything your cat should not eat.
|Alcoholic beverages||Can cause intoxication, coma, and death.|
|Baby food||Can contain onion powder which can be toxic to cats fed baby food for an extended period of time. (Please see onion below.) Can also result in nutritional deficiencies if fed in large amounts.|
|Bones from fish, poultry, or other meat sources||Can cause obstruction or laceration of the digestive system.|
|Canned tuna (for human consumption)||Large amounts can cause malnutrition, since it lacks proper levels of vitamins and minerals. It can also lead to thiamine deficiency (see 'Fish' below).|
|Chocolate, coffee, tea, and other caffeine||Contain caffeine, theobromine, or theophylline which can cause vomiting and diarrhea and be toxic to the heart and nervous system.|
|Citrus oil extracts||Can cause vomiting.|
|Dog food||If accidental ingestion, will not cause a problem; if fed repeatedly, may result in malnutrition and diseases affecting the heart.|
|Fat trimmings||Can cause pancreatitis.|
|Fish (raw, canned or cooked)||If fed exclusively or in high amounts can result in a thiamine (a B vitamin) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death.|
|Grapes, raisins and currants||Contain an unknown toxin which can damage the kidneys.|
|Human vitamin supplements containing iron||Can damage the lining of the digestive system and be toxic to the other organs, including the liver and kidneys.|
|Macadamia nuts||Contain an unknown toxin which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscle.|
|Marijuana||Can depress the nervous system, cause vomiting and changes in the heart rate.|
|Milk and other dairy products||Some adult cats and dogs may develop diarrhea if given large amounts of dairy products.|
|Moldy or spoiled food, garbage||Can contain multiple toxins causing vomiting and diarrhea and can also affect other organs.|
|Mushrooms||Can contain toxins which may affect multiple systems in the body, cause shock, and result in death.|
|Onions and garlic (raw, cooked, or powder)||Contain sulfoxides and disulfides which can damage red blood cells and cause anemia. Cats are more susceptible than dogs. Garlic is less toxic than onions.|
Seeds can cause intestinal obstruction and enteritis.
|Raw eggs||Contain an enzyme called avidin which decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin). This can lead to skin and hair coat problems. Raw eggs may also contain Salmonella.|
|Raw meat||May contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli which can cause vomiting and diarrhea.|
|Rhubarb leaves||Contain oxalates which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems.|
|Salt||If eaten in large quantities it may lead to electrolyte imbalances.|
|String||Can become trapped in the digestive system; called a "string foreign body."|
|Sugary foods||Can lead to obesity, dental problems, and possibly diabetes mellitus.|
|Table scraps (in large amounts)||Table scraps are not nutritionally balanced. They should never be more than 10% of the diet. Fat should be trimmed from meat; bones should not be fed.|
|Tobacco||Contains nicotine which affects the digestive and nervous systems. Can result in rapid heart beat, collapse, coma, and death.|
|Yeast dough||Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.|
© 2010 Drs. Foster and Smith, Inc. This article was reprinted as a courtesy and with permission from PetEducation.com (http://www.PetEducation.com/). Visit our online store at http://www.DrsFosterSmith.com/. Call to receive a free pet supply catalog: 1-800-323-4208.
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Feeding a cat the correct diet can help with this health condition.
Cats are by nature carnivores. A true carnivore is an animal that lives on a diet consisting only of meat. Cats may consume other products presented to them, but these products are not essential for good health and can actually cause damage to their health. True carnivores have difficulty digesting vegetable matter.
The food you feed your cat should be appropriate for the cat's overall health and should come pretty close to what the animal would normally eat in the wild. In the wild cats would be eating rabbits, squirrels, and mice (that is, meat). They would not go to a cornfield or a rice paddy to find a meal of grain.
Since a cat's body is not made to consume a high carbohydrate diet of grains or vegetables, feeding a diabetic cat a high carbohydrate diet is the same as trying to put out a fire with gasoline. Carbohydrates are long chains of sugar molecules linked together. Your cat's normal digestive process breaks up these chains into individual sugar molecules that pass through the intestinal wall and load up the blood stream with sugar.
It is not recommended for any cat, much less a diabetic cat, to eat any foods whose main ingredients are corn (meal), wheat, barley, rye, oats, or rice. This also means no potatoes, carrots, beets, soy, peas, yams, or beans. Feeding your cat foods like these is little different than just pouring straight sugar into your cat's bowl.
There is nothing magical about a diabetes-management diet for your cat. Find foods that are low in carbohydrates and products that are lower in carbohydrates than the majority of cat food products on the market.
Bob Held is the founder and president of the Wellness Support Network, Inc. The Wellness Support Network's mission is to help pets with health challenges such as diabetes. This includes providing a diabetic medical food to lower blood sugar and reduce the causes of high blood sugar. Learn how "to control and improve the quality of your cat's life" at http://www.petremedy.com/. The company also addresses neuropathy which can be a side effect of the diabetic condition.
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Since cats have keener senses than humans, they suffer even more than humans. Many pain killing drugs, including aspirin, do not agree with cats and can cause illness or even death. Anyone who has had surgery will appreciate the problem that can be created by the inability to take pain-relieving medication. It is also possible for the claws to grow back but often not in the normal manner. They may grow through the top or bottom of the paw creating a bloody, painful sore. An Atlanta news station had a story of a declawing followed by infection so severe that the cat's foot had to be amputated.
The cat's body is especially well designed. The skeleton is better jointed and more elastic than most other animals and the muscles governing the lithe body are highly developed. This gives the cat great climbing power. The sharp claws can be whipped out for business or tucked neatly away. The elastic tendon holds the claw in its own sheath. The claw is flat on each side so it will slide in and out better. When the cat pulls his claw down with the use of the big tendon that lies along the under part of the toe, the ligament stretches like a fresh rubber band. It is hooked on the end for hanging on.
Cats like to keep their claws sharp and clean (and remove the outer sheath of the nail) by working on the scratching post you provide. Equipping your cat with the proper scratching post and taking the time to train him to use it will help preserve your furniture and carpets. Scratching posts made of soft carpeting teach your cat that soft fabrics, i.e. your sofa and rugs, are proper for scratching. Here is a better idea. Get posts made of sisal rope or carpet turned inside out. This encourages your cat to scratch on hard, coarse surfaces. Training your cat to use this post takes some effort on your part. If you see him attempting to scratch on furniture or carpet, clap your hands sharply, say no! then pick him up gently and place him on the sisal post. (If stronger measures are needed, you might also want to keep a squirt bottle with plain water handy.) If your cat seems to prefer a particular area, try covering it with aluminum foil for a while. Catnip-treated cardboard scratchers, best used lying flat, are also effective. Most cats are pretty smart and after a short time, and much praise, they will get the idea. It is also essential to properly clip your cat's claws with a well-made cat claw scissors. The sharp hook must be clipped off without injuring the pink quick. Cutting into the quick will hurt the cat and you will have a difficult time holding him quiet the next time.
Besides the physical mutilation, consider what declawing may do to the cat's emotions, the personality changes that may occur. Knowing he has not the means to defend himself, some cats follow the precept of the best defense is a good offense and will bite at the least provocation (and it may truly be the least provocation). Others become depressed and lose the loving personality that made you choose them to start with.
The Learning Channel had a series of documentaries about cats in January, 1993 and again in July, 1995 and several of their comments were appropriate to this flyer. In one segment a cat owner spoke to a pet psychologist about her biting cat. It was no surprise to me when she admitted that the cat was declawed. Another segment showed a kitten being declawed. The commentator said that declawing was an American procedure and, in fact, most veterinarians in other countries refuse to do the operation.
I have heard about another nasty piece of business that some veterinarians are advocating as an "alternative" to Declawing: Tendonectomy--the cutting of the tendons themselves to prevent the claws from being extended. This is as bad if not worse than declawing itself. The claws continue to grow and constant maintenance of trimming must be done for the rest of the cat's life. (The same trimming procedure that if done anyway will keep your cat's intact claws shortened, blunted and less damaging to your furniture.) Failure to trim claws in this situation will result in additional veterinary attention throughout the cat's life as the claws will grow around and into the paw pad of the foot. You can imagine how much daily pain a cat would have to go through in this condition.
If you really love your cat, you will want him to lead a long, happy life giving and receiving love and affection. If you really love him and care about him, don't declaw him.
Northern Kentucky Pet Sitters wish to thank and give credit to the All States Burmese Society, a CFA club, from whom the bulk of this information was gathered.
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