To Sleep or Not to Sleep with Your Cat

Pillows and Sleeping With Your Cat

Courtesy of John Haro

Should your beloved feline friend be allowed to crawl in bed with you or not? This certainly isn’t a new question, and how you answer really boils down to a preference. It’s a personal choice, kind of like how you choose a pillow: Do you pick one based on stuffing and size or do you want the best pillow for neck pain? One person might say stuffing and size while another says neck pain.

 

Cat Bed Pros

If you allow your cat to sleep in bed with you, you’re not alone. According to the American Pet Products Association, 62% of adult cat owners make that decision and another 13% of children snuggle up with their cats.

 

There are definitely some rewards that come from cuddling up to your kitty. Plenty of studies have proven that interaction with your pet is a de-stressing mechanism. Not only can petting your cat and hearing it purr in response help you unwind after a long, busy day, there are physical benefits, too. For example, one research study discovered that people with hypertension lowered their blood pressure when caring for pets.

 

Felines reap rewards, too. Cats continue to be convinced of their importance in your lives. Sleeping together provides that contact. It also may help cats stay warm during cold winter nights.

 

Cat Bed Cons

On the flip side, sleeping with the family cat can be anything but restful. These creatures are known to sleep up to 16 hours a day, but the term “catnap” exists for a reason. Those hours are divided up into many mini chunks. The species just isn’t programmed to snooze for eight hours at a time like us humans. Therefore, your kitty might wake during the night, fidget in bed, or even walk across your body on his or her way to a nighttime adventure.

 

According to a Mayo Clinic survey, more than half of the people who admit to catching zzzzs with their pets experience disrupted sleep, and that can affect human health, such as a lack of attentiveness during the day.

 

Also, health experts cautioned against allowing outdoor cats into your bed. These felines are more susceptible to encountering fleas and worms and then introducing them to the bed, not to mention bringing in dirt and “unexpected gifts” of kills. There is less concern for cats that remain indoors.

 

Bedtime Choices

If you choose to let your cat climb in bed with you or a family member, make sure it’s up to date on all vaccinations and flea treatments. Also, wash the sheets frequently. Not only will human inhabitants appreciate the freshness, but felines like to sleep in clean places, too.

 

And, if you like to have your cat nearby, but not in bed with you, think about putting a cat condo in the bedroom. Tip: Put the unit near a window so the cat can be entertained by the nightlife outside and not mess with your sleep.

Types of Cat Litter

 Selecting the  best cat litter for your cat is a big decision many cat owners wrestle with. Some are cheap and easy to find, but others can be very messy, and some are convenient, but others can be very expensive. Some litter boxes are designed for use by one can and others are best for multiple cats. Other systems are designed with convenience in mind and others are best for budget minded cat owners. There is a lot of information to sift through so here is a general break down of the different cat litter options that are available to you.

 Scoopablehooded litter box

The most common type of litter these are typically used in traditional pan type litter boxes. You pour the litter into the tray and as your cat uses the litter box the litter clumps, making it easier- in theory- to clean the box each day. It is easy to find and is relatively cheap. However this type of litter; has the tendency to get everywhere when your cat digs and it can be tracked around the house by your cat’s paws and fur.  Also some types of scoopable litter creates a lot of dust which can cause problems for both your cat and your family.

 Natural and Biodegradable

Some litters are made of materials that are completely biodegradable. The benefit to this type of cat litter is that it usually is very absorbent so cleaning is made easier and it is also able to be flushed down the toilet or tossed outside. He drawback is that is can be a bit on the expensive side and you will generally have to change the litter out more frequently than with standard cat litter.

automatic cat litter boxCrystal Litter Liners

Crystal Litter Liners: Newer cat litter boxes implement a new and unique system for litter. Many of these litter boxes now use specially designed liners instead of loose gradual litter. The benefits of this is that there is no litter to scoop or worry about getting scattered around the house. Also you simply have to remove the tray line and snap a new one in place. The down side is these are some of the most expensive types of litter tray options, but they are very convenient and are some of the best for odor control and easy cleaning.

 

These are three of the most common types of cat litter options that are available for you. Selecting the best cat litter can be a bit of a daunting task but there are some key factors to keep in mind. If you have several cats that use the litter box, you may be better off with a biodegradable litter or the new crystal liners.  If you have one cat and don’t mind the occasional piece of litter getting into other rooms, then regular scoopable litter is fine for your cat.  Ultimately, it is you and you cat that can decide which is the best cat litter for you both.

Reason For Sneezin’

tiger catsIt is normal for your feline friend to let loose an occasional sneeze or to have a little sneezing fit now and then. But if your cat is sneezing a lot, it may be time to ask your vet about possible causes and treatments. In some cases, the vet may need to take blood or saliva samples to be tested. You will also likely be asked questions about when your cat sneezes the most to see if it is being caused by a particular trigger. Viral, bacterial, or fungal infections may cause problems and it could be that your cat has an upper respiratory infection. Allergies may also be a trigger for a cat sneezing.

 Viral Infections

Viral infections that might be the cause sneezing in cats include:

Feline herpesvirus, Feline calcivirus, Feline infectious peritonitis, Feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV), Feline leukemia,Chlamydia, Bordetella and Mycoplasma.

 Maybe It’s This

If your cat is only sneezing on occasion or in certain situations or in certain rooms, or during certain events then allergies might be the underlying cause of the cat sneezing fits. The most common allergens include things like:

Cigarette Smoke

Mold or Mildew

Perfume

Carpet Shampoo

Pest Sprays

Dust

Cat Litter

Air Pollution

Cleaning agents

Candles or Incense

Pollen

Fertilizer

 

 Sneezing Fits

There are many other potential causes that might trigger cat sneezing fits. Sometimes it can be something as simple as an outside stimulus irritating your feline or other times the sneezing can be a sign of a more serious problem.  Symptoms that can cause or be associated with sneezing in cats may be the result of an infections or some other problems. These symptoms may include:

litter of kittensEye problems such as discharge, swelling, or ulcers, excessive nasal discharge, fever, drooling, fatigue or depression, decrease in normal appetite, unexplained or sudden weight loss, enlarged lymph nodes, unexplained lumps or knots, wheezing or coughing, dirty and dingy coat, trouble breathing, diarrhea or vomiting,

The occasional sneeze is nothing to worry about, especially if your cat looks and acts normal. Chances are something is irritating their noses and it will clear up in a few days. Make sure you keep your cat indoors and monitor them closely throughout the day to note any changes. It is important to call the vet if there are serious or drastic changes to how your cat is behaving when they are sneezing. Call the vet if  the sneezing is continuous or very frequent, if they sneeze blood, or if any of the symptoms mentioned above are present. They may be signs of an illness or condition that needs veterinary care.

Veterinary Care

Treatment depends on what is causing the condition that is bringing on the sneezing. Medicines and antibiotics might be prescribed, changes in diet and living environment may be needed, or in some cases surgery might be required. You will not know what is causing the cat sneezing fits unless you see your vet, so do not put it off if you are worried about your feline friend.

Cat Illnesses

Aside from the illnesses every cat owner knows about such as colds and liver failure, these are three common cat illnesses that many cat owners do not think of as often as they should. These are issues many owners will have to deal with at some point and time but ones that they might not be as ready or prepared for. These include FIV, FLV, and cancer.

white kittenFIV

Cats that are infected with FIV, feline immunodeficiency virus, may not show any obvious symptoms until many years later, and often the symptoms are noticed far too late to do much to help the cats. Although the virus is slow-acting, the cat’s immune system becomes very compromised and they become more susceptible to other infections or diseases. Many cat owners have routine FIV checks done by their vets, especially if their cat has spent any time outdoors or has gotten into fights with other cats.

Infected cats who are well taken care of and live indoors and have a stress free environment to live in can have a long happy life. In most cases, FIV is passed from cat to cat mostly through bite wounds such as those associated with outdoor cat fights. Another, less common mode of transmission for this cat illness is from a mother to her kittens. There does not seem to be any evidence that sharing food bowls and litter boxes, or other friendly interaction with cats can transfer FIV.

FLV

Though it has been around for some time, it was not until the 1960s that feline leukemia virus, FLV, was first officially discovered. It is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that attacks a cat’s immune system, much like FIV but to a different extent. It is among the leading causes of death upside down black catin domesticated house cats. Because the virus may not produce visible symptoms for some time, any sick cat should be tested for the condition. It is contagious to other cats, but not to humans or other animals species. Other cats that live with an infected cat can contract feline leukemia. It is a common cat illness that can be passed through litter boxes and shared food and water dishes.

Cancer

The prevalence and cases of feline cancer has been steadily increasing for the past decade. Advances in veterinary medicine make it easier to keep our feline friends healthier for longer and in many cases cancers are not seen in younger healthier cats. It is when they get old that cancer diagnoses seems to increase. This is paradox that may owners run into- they can have their cats live longer, free of other cat illnesses, but they are more likely to die from cancer. While the cause of most cancers remains unknown, environmental factors and genetic dispositions can make cancer more likely in some cats. Cancers can be classified as benign or malignant and while a cat may be able to live several years after a cancer diagnosis, both diagnosis can cause long term problems for the feline.

Most cat owners know to look for cat illnesses like colds and liver disease and digestion issues but these are some of the common illnesses that cat owners need to be on the lookout for.

Symptoms of Kidney Failure

It is estimated that as many as 16 out of 1,000 cats seen by a vet will have chronic renal disease.  All cats are susceptible but some breeds have a harder time with it and older cats are often the ones to develop this condition. Kidney failure in cats can take place slowly so symptoms are not noticed right away and when they finally are it may be too late for any effective treatments.

 long hair catSymptoms

Symptoms can come on gradually over months or years and they also may vary and some symptoms may be in one cat with kidney disease and may not be present with kidney failure in cats at other times. The most common symptoms are:

 

  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Blood in the urine
  • cats playingSeizures and comas
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased thirst
  • Acute blindness

Causes

Causes of kidney failure are far reaching and can vary greatly. It can include kidney disease, urinary blockage or abnormal growth, some medications, lymphoma, diabetes, and a number of genetic factors. Owners of Abyssinian or Persian cats need to pay special attention as these breeds are known for being susceptible to chronic kidney problems at all ages.

Diagnosis 

Kidney failure in cats can be treated with different methods and procedures. Your cat will likely be diagnosed by your vet and will then undergo a complete blood and urinary work up to get a full diagnosis. The vet will also likely ask you questions about the cat’s habits and behaviors to see what is out of the ordinary. X-ray or ultrasounds might also be required to get a more detailed idea of what is going on inside your cat’s body. Often, the kidneys will become abnormally small because of the chronic kidney issues. These are the sort of factors that the vet will look for.

 

meows in a rowTreatment

Long term kidney failure in cats can lead to sever dehydration and related problems so that will be addressed as part of the treatments. Dietary protein might also be restricted, since it can make the problem much worse. Although there is no cure for chronic renal failure, your vet can help you make your feline friend as comfortable as possible and still give them a good life. Maintaining hydration is critical. You must always make sure your cat has enough clean fresh water available to keep from having to use IV fluids.

 

Living and Management

Chronic kidney failure in cats is a progressive disease. Cats that have been diagnosed with this disease should be monitored constantly and have routine check ups to look for any changes. Your cat’s prognosis can be impacted on the age, breed, and lifestyle of the feline. Sometimes you will need to make adjustments to your cat’s daily life to ensure they stay safe, happy, and hea

Cat Factology

It is estimated that one out of four American households own a cat. Even if you have never owned a cat, chance are you know someone who has. Many people notice the eccentric and interesting lives that cats live. If you happen to be an ailurophile (cat lover), these interesting facts about cats are sure to amaze and surprise you!

See How Many You Don’t Know

1. There is estimated to be more than 500 million domestic cats in the world, with many different breeds recognized by professional breeders.

calico cat2. Cats “paw” or “knead” a spot to mark out their territory. Cats sweat on their paws and rub the sweat off on what they are kneading and marks it as their own. We call this action ‘making biscuits.’

3. Cat urine will glow if you shine a black light on it.

4. Another interesting fact about cats is that the print on the fleshy part of a cat’s nose has a unique pattern, much like a human finger print.

5. 25% of cat owners will blow dry their cat’s fur after a bath.

6. When your cat is rubbing against you and their tail is quivering, it is a sign your cat is happy and that they love you.

7. If your cat’s tail is thrashing back and forth violently, it is a warning signal that your cat is in a bad mood and it is best for you to stay away and give them some space.

8. Domestic cats are the only ones to hold their tails straight up when they walk. Wild cats keep it held horizontally or tucked between their legs when they walk.

9. One female cat can have more than 100 kittens during her productive lifespan.

10. A little known fact about cats is that Sir Isaac Newton invented the cat door.

11. If you take time to talk to your cat, chances are they will start talking back to you.

12. Kittens will start to dream as young as one week old.

13.  A male cat is called a “tom,” a female cat is called a “molly” or “queen”.

14. Cats spend a great deal of time taking care of themselves, as much as 30% of each day is dedicated to personal grooming.

15. More than four billion dollars is spent in America on cat food each year, even more than what is spent each year on baby food.

16. One interesting fact about cats is that they have the ability to make over 100 vocal sounds, and the average dog can only make 10 different sounds.

grey kitten sleeping17. In the late 1800′s in Belgium cats were used to deliver mail to villages, but it was soon abandoned because it turned out the cats were too easily distracted.

18. The average house cat, during their lifespan, will spend approximately 11,000 hours purring.

19. A cat’s jaws cannot move sideways, only up and down in a chewing motion.

20. Cats rarely meow at other cats, they are usually reserved for their owners or for unfamiliar objects.

Common Cat Skin Problems

Many cat owners, at some point and time, will  encounter some form of skin issue with their furry feline. Some cases may be mild and easily resolved and others may take more work and even a visit to the vet to find a solution. Here are some of the most common cat skin problems you may encounter.

cat scratching himself Food Allergies

Food Allergy Dermatitis: Sometimes food allergies can manifest themselves as skin allergies. Rashes, hives, dry skin and other skin issues can be the result of something your cat eats. Sometimes it is something like an ingredient in the food or the hormones and additives some cat foods add in. To help treat food allergy cat skin problems, you can change the food and try to use only natural ingredients and see if there is any improvements. If not, your vet may need to give your cat steroid shots to help them get over the initial allergic reaction and then they can offer advice on how to avoid future flare ups.

 

Psychogenic Alopecia: This is a condition that involves the thinning of the fur, usually in a single stripe along the spin and back or on the abdomen. Psychogenic Alopecia is usually caused by compulsive self-grooming. This behavior is often a symptom of stress or other factors that are affecting the cat’s health. It could be an underlying skin irritation causing the excessive grooming where Psychogenic Alopecia is the secondary condition. Your vet can help determine the underlying cause of the excessive grooming and offer ideas on how to prevent it.

 

Ringworm: This fungal infection is very common in cats and is highly contagious to other cats and humans as well. Symptoms of ringworm include round patches of hair loss with red rings around the outside areas. In some cats, it may be shown as broken and brittle hairs on the face and ears. Ringworm requires veterinary treatment and good cleaning and sterilization to prevent its spread. It is one of the most common cat skin problems and if caught early and treated quickly, it is one of the easiest to treat.

A Sunburn

Sunburn: Cats that have very light-colored fur or the hairless breeds are very prone to sunburn. They really should be kept indoors at all times and even inside their exposure to direct sun should be avoided between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunburn in cats manifests itself the slong hair cat skin problemsame way it does in humans- red painful and peeling skin. Prolonged sun exposure and repeated sunburn in these sensitive breeds can lead to cancer and other cat skin problems in later years.
Feline Acne: Like teenage humans, cats of all ages can get acne. And like human cases, it involves painful pumps and pussy welts that form under the skin. These can be itchy and painful, causing your cat to lick and scratch repeatedly. The constant irritation can lead to the acne spots getting infected. For mile cases, keeping your cat bathed can be enough to help relieve symptoms. In more sever cases or if an infection has occurred you will need to get special medical ointments from your vet.

 

Flea Allergy Dermatitis

This condition is often mistaken for feline acne as it looks much the same but the pumps are usually more painful and almost always become infected. When a flea bites your cat it causes an allergic reaction- just as it does in humans. For some cats though the reaction is much more severe and will require special treatments. This condition is very common and most cats will have some form of this cat skin problem at some point in their lives.

Cat Cold Treatments

Do cats get colds like humans do?  While it is not the same cold strain that attacks humans, cat with a coldcats do get colds and have many of the same symptoms as we do during colds. What should you do when your cat has a cold or an upper respiratory infection? It can be scary for a cat owners to experience their beloved feline friend suffering from a cold for the first time.

 

What To Do

The first thing that you are going to have to do is to assess if your cat is able to eat, drink, and breathe normally. There may be discharge from your cat’s eyes and nose and if this is clear and your cat seems to be eating and drinking normally and is still active, then it is likely not a bad case and will clear up in a day or two on its own. If your cat is not eating, is having trouble breathing, or is not acting normally, then you will want to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Cats live by their sense of smell and a cat that cannot smell well often times will not eat as well.

Humidity

For mild colds you can try to help your kitty breathe easier by putting him in a humid bathroom for a few minutes or using a humidifier – just make make sure it someplace where your feline friend cannot get to it easily. Never give a cat any human over the counter cold medications because they will have high doses of aspirin or acetaminophen and can be deadly to cats.

cat not well cat coldDon’t Do

There are several types of antiviral herbs that people can take when they have colds or upper respiratory infections such as elderberry. However, you must be very careful when it comes to giving these herbal treatments to your cat and make sure you talk to your vet before giving any of these to your cat. Most health food stores will have a section dedicated to herbal treatments for pets and these have been tested and approved for proper administration to pets. Echinacea can be given to cats in small doses for a short period of time. Other similar herbal remedied are available but make sure you check with your vet before giving anything to your cat. Your vet will have other medications that they can give to your cat that work much like human cold and allergy pills. Some may make your cat drowsy so do not be too concerned if your kitty companion sleeps a lot until they start to feel better.

 Eating and Drinking

During the duration of the cold, regardless of what treatments you are using, your cat will need to eat some and drink as much as they can. If your cat does not seem interested in food, offer them a bland diet or try to encourage them to eat some by sticking their favorite treats into their food bowl. They will go after the treats and get some of the food in the process. Make sure they always have fresh cool, water available. If your cat will not eat for more than 2 days and goes more than a day without drinking it is time to see the vet.

Do cats get colds? In most cases they do and the colds are mild enough to fade quickly without much intervention. However, in some cases more care is required. So it is important to always keep an eye on your feline companions and make sure they are healthy.

Care of Newborn Kittens

During the first few weeks of life, kittens’ time is dedicated to getting fed, staying warm, and interacting with their mother and litter mates. Usually, humans are simply observers to the process as mom is able to take care of her newborn kittens just fine. However, if the mother cannot care of them or if they have been separated from mom, you are the one responsible for taking care of them.

 newborn kittensHow do I feed a kitten?

The best milk for a newborn kitten is the milk it gets from its mother. It is best to try and place kittens with a foster mother so that they can get the proper care. If you cannot find a foster mother, you will need to talk to your vet to make sure you find the best milk replacement for your kitten. Do not give cow’s milk to the kittens as it is hard to digest can cause diarrhea and other stomach issues which can be deadly to newborn kittens.

Do kittens eat things other than milk?

Once your newborn kitten is about four weeks old, you can start offering the milk replacement in a shallow bowl, and start adding some moistened canned kitten food. Serve it in a shallow bowl and offer a small amount of it to your kitten a few times each day. By five weeks old, they should be able to eat the moist food with less and less milk replacement added. By six to seven weeks of age they should be able to chew hard dry cat food. If by eight weeks of age they still have trouble with the food you will want to talk to your vet.

newborn kittens in basketHow often should newborn kittens eat?

The following is a general eating schedule for new kittens:

  • Newborn kittens will nurse from their mothers every1-2 hours sot he same schedule is needed when feeding abandoned or orphaned kittens.
  • At about three to four weeks old, the kittens can be fed the milk replacement and moist food mixture and they will still want to eat four to six times a day, whether it is the milk or the moist food mixture.
  • Kittens from six to 12 weeks old will need to eat four times a day and be gradually weaned off of the milk replacement and put more on a a solid cat food diet.
  • Kittens from three to six months old will need to be fed at least three time each day.

How do new kittens stay warm?

If your newborn kittens have no mother to take care of them, you must ensure that they are kept warm. Please consult your veterinarian for tips on how to care for your kitten and what the best methods of keeping them warm may be depending on your situation.

 

Can I hold the kittens?

If the newborn kittens have a mother taking care of them it is best not to handle them at all the first few weeks unless necessary. As they get older, you can handle them very carefully and once they start moving around on their own, socialization and human interaction is an important part of their growth and development too!