Thursday 7 April 2011

Fisher Cat Pictures

Fisher Cat - photo by Sayjack (Flickr)

Here are some fisher cat pictures. The fisher cat (commonly called simply "fisher") is not the Asian fishing cat. The fisher cat is not a cat! It is part of the of the Mustelid family, commonly referred to as the weasel family.

Fisher cat picture - Wikipedia Commons

Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.This is an animal that is similar is size to the domestic cat at 3.5 to 5 kilograms (8–11 lb). There was talk on the internet recently about the fisher attacking and eating domestic cats! This seems strange and unlikely. As the fisher's coat is dark the so called sightings may have been a case of mistaken identity as black cats at a distance might look similar.

ROLAND KAYS studied scats (feces) of fishers and concluded that they don't eat cats! They seem to prefer squirrels. Although, fishers are great climbers and could in theory attack and kill a declawed cat. A fully clawed cat would present a real risk of injury to the fisher and predators do not want to get injured as it may result in an inability to catch prey leading to starvation.

Fisher  - photo by forestgladesiwander (Flickr)

Sometime ago I wrote about the sound that the fisher makes. It is a very erie sound indeed, quite scary. You can read about it by clicking on the following link and see another fisher cat picture as well: Fisher Cat Sounds.

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Wednesday 6 April 2011

Cat Body Odor

Cats are naturally clean - Photo by ex.libris (Flickr)

Cat body odor is quite rarely talked about in my experience so I talk about it here. Most commonly people discuss the odor of cat urine because of inappropriate elimination. I am not, incidentally, writing about the general smell of cats in a cattery but the smell of individual cats. There is little about a cat's body odor in a general sense in the well known and respected: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Fully Revised and Updated.




I was prompted to write about cat body odor after reading an excellent article by Elisa Black-Taylor on cat sniffing! Yes, do you sniff your cat? If you feel frightened to bury your head into your cat's fur I would suggest that you are the wrong person to keep a cat and/or your relationship with your cat is not good enough.

The Standard Smell

I love to kiss my cats and when you do that you can smell them. My cats are both regular well cared for domestic cats. Their cat body odor could be described as very pleasant. Elisa calls it a nutty smell. I call it "clean-nutty" or "sweet-nutty".

I think, therefore, that we can describe the standard body odor of a standard well cared for domestic cat: clean-nutty. The smell of the cat tells us quite a lot about the lifestyle of the cat. It can also provided us with information about the cat's life history, believe it or not.

This is where cat sniffing becomes very interesting. Elisa is a seasoned cat sniffer and her comments are fascinating.

Cat Food

She says that some of the variations in a cat's odor comes from the food the cat eats. Urban feral cats eat waste human food. Countryside feral cats eat wild animals. This can translate into a cat body odor in the same way that if person eats spicy food you can smell it on the skin of the person. That is the theory in any case.

Illness

I find that stray cats who genuinely live outside do smell different. Despite the fact that they clean themselves as regularly as a domestic cat they invariably become dirtier and this results in a mangy type smell. Outdoor cats are more likely to become ill, be unable to groom themselves and become dirty. Some illnesses have an impact on cat body odor too, which is a diagnostic aid to a veterinarian.

Bad breath will cause the air around a cat to smell but obviously this is not to be confused with body odor. This is a fairly common cause of foul smelling cats. Bad breath can be caused by mouth disease or kidney failure (uremic breath).

And neither is the smell of the substance emitted by the anal sacs that is musky smelling. The smell of anal sacs can be an indication of an infected anal sac or abscess. See also: Diet Pills For Cats?

A cat having difficulty in grooming him or herself may acquire feces and urine on the long fur around the rear end. This will obviously cause bad body odor. The cause is most likely obesity and/or arthritis and old age. Poor grooming may result in a matted, dirty coat, which will naturally smell dirty rather than the clean-nutty smell described.

Two other illnesses that have a negative impact on cat body odor are, ear mites and ear infections and autoimmune diseases that attack the cat's skin. Skin disease, such as a bacterial skin infection, can also change the odor. (See Natural Cure For Cat Ear Infections). Seborrhea is a skin condition that can cause an oily scaly skin and which has "an unpleasant odor..."1. Stud tail is similar to acne being caused by an over secretion of the sebaceous glands. The hair at the base of the tail at the top becomes matter and greasy and smells rancid1.

Skin Complaint

A visitor commented about a musky unpleasant smell coming off his cat's coat (as the smell was transferred to the person's hand when petting). Please see the comment below. I suggested feline seborrhea. This can be a secondary or primary complaint. The treatment is an antiseborrheic shampoo and omega-3 fatty acid supplements. This cause of cat odor is just another option to be checked out by a vet.

Abandonment

It appears that people sometimes lie about the reasons for abandoning their cats to shelters. Elisa fosters shelter cats and she can tell if the former owner is lying by sniffing the cat! For example a person might bring in a cat that they say was a stray that they just picked up. The cat might smell of a stray cat or the cat might smell sweet-nutty or of cigarettes as Elisa said.

In conclusion, cat body odor informs us about a cat's life in much the same way that, for example, a man's hands might inform us about a man's working life - labourer or desk worker.

The smell is dictated by the cat's cleanliness, diet, illness and in some cases sex/neutering (Intact, unneutered, tom cats can have a smell that is described as "pungent") . Cats have a finely tuned and sensitive sense of smell. They recognise us by our smell. They recognise each other by their smell. I can give a good example of how important body odor is to cats. I used to keep a brother and sister. They knew each other intimately. The sister fell into some paint. I had to bathe her all over. This temporarily took away her body odor. Her brother hissed at her as if she was a stranger!

Note:

1. Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook page 156.

Michael Avatar

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Monday 4 April 2011

Iams Cat Food

Nothing to do with Iams Cat Food!
Photo by seanmcgrath (Flickr)
Great cat portrait

We should not buy Iams cat food because Procter and Gamble (P&C) own Iams and P&C conduct animal testing on cats and dogs in pet food research. These tests are cruel and harmful to the animals, it is said. Any animal testing even at its most benign is cruel as far as I am concerned and it should all be banned.

There is no need to animal test to improve pet food. What is extraordinary is that although I abhor animal testing of all kinds and particularly for cosmetics and pet food, I have two packets of Iams dry cat food in the kitchen that I bought online. It is a question of availability and convenience for us. The big manufacturers seem to be the ones that are most likely to be guilty of animal testing and it is their products that are the easiest to buy.

However, I am ashamed of myself. I will not buy Iams cat food again. In any case my cats are not that fond of it. They prefer Hills dry cat food. I buy Hills light for them. But do Hills animal test? Probably.

How do I know that Iams animal test? There are a number of trusted websites that have detailed information about it.

Express Story
The first is Uncaged.co.uk. This is a well known and respected website. This is the relevant page: Iams test on animals.

The other site that I would like to mention is IamsCruelty.com. Yes, this is an entire website dedicated to animal testing by Iams! This is a link: Animals suffer at Iams.

Iams cruel animal testing was reported on by the Sunday Express (journalist: Lucy Johnson).

So we have good evidence. Knowing this we really must steel ourselves and not buy Iams cat food.

Site Build It!There are many alternatives. Which pet food manufacturers do not animal test? The Iams Cruelty.com website list the companies/businesses that they are confident do not animal test. This is the link: Brands that do no test on animals.

Hills are not listed as not testing! Well, if that is the case I'll have to change. The list relates to north American brands by the way.

One of the best canned cat foods on my reckoning is Newmans. Newman’s Own Organics are a brand who don't animal test apparently. Maybe we should buy Newmans?

The best dry cat food in America on my assessment is Innova EVO Dry Cat Food. Do they animal test? As far as I can tell, Natura Pet Products are the parent company. Neither Natura nor Innova are on the list of pet food manufacturers who IamsCruely.com can say for sure do not animal test. On that basis they animal test.

This is confirmed on another site: The Natura Pet Products policy on animal testing.

They say they prefer to animal test. The company "believes strongly in the importance of nutritional testing". But they are concerned animal testers and the testing in non-invasive and they say it only includes animals eating their products.

That said, the animals are in a facility, albeit a nice facility. They live unnatural lives and are probably stressed at least at some point and their lives are unnatural which is diametrically opposite to the brand name, "Natura Pet Products" indicating "natural pet products".

It is a shame that Natura Pet Products animal test because their Innova brand dry cat food is pretty well universally acclaimed as the best.

It seems that it is not that easy to avoid buying from an animal testing company. We should make the effort, however. Don't by Iams cat food, please. You can't feed your cat knowing that another cat in a cage in a nasty research facility has been tested on and is probably frightened and possibly abused. Note: legally no wrong has been done in animal testing to improve pet food.

Iams Cat Food -- Associated Pages:

Michael Avatar

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Note: the rational for publishing the picture of the Sunday Times under fair use is that it is very small and has no impact on the commerce of the Sunday Express, indeed it promotes it.

Sunday 3 April 2011

Ragdoll Cats Do Go Limp

Ragdoll cat
My lovely Ragdoll cat :) He's 1 year old - by Mah² (Flickr)
My friend, Ian, has the most friendly and true to his breed cat named Bear. Bear is about 27 pounds, a hefty cat with stunningly clear blue eyes. The first time I ever picked up bear he immediately went limp.

Ian just nonchalantly told me "Yeah all of them did that when we had kittens, even his mom did that when we got her at the shelter."

Bear is my favorite cat, he is so fuzzy and such a Ragdoll cat that he has changed me forever, I am now a cat person...Britteny (Pheonix, USA)

Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.





Thanks Britteny for your contribution based on personal experience. The myth surrounding the Ragdoll cat is immense. It was created by Ann Baker the founder. Or was it all true?

Your first hand experiences of a Ragdoll cat that you know at least confirms that this cat breed can be limp and laid back, fitting in nicely with the usual description of this cat breed's character.

Note: the Ragdoll in the photo is not the Ragdoll described in the text.

See Ragdoll cats for more.

Michael Avatar

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Friday 1 April 2011

Cat Travel Tips

Cat Travel Tips! - Photo by katepc (Flickr)

These cat travel tips relate to car and air travel. Air travel is often international travel so you have to be aware of the rules pertaining to the importation of animals into the country concerned. For me this is where is gets a bit hazy because to be honest it is complicated. This is because the rules are fragmented and hard to understand and they depend largely on which countries are rabies free and which are not. Rabies is a major factor in animal air travel because as mentioned below it is transferable from animal to human and invariably fatal. You will need to look at the whole journey. Are you traveling from or to (or in transit) a country where there is rabies and which is not a participating country of PETS (see below)?

Air Travel

In broad brush terms, pet travel within the European Union (EU) requires a pet passport (Pet Travel Scheme - "PETS") and for certain countries (Ireland, Sweden, Malta or the United Kingdom) a test that confirms that the rabies vaccination has been effective. This would seem to be in addition to the actual rabies vaccination. For other countries in the EU the simple fact that a rabies vaccination has been administered is sufficient. The test is "a neutralising antibody titration at least equal to 0,5 IU/ml carried out on a sample taken by an authorised veterinarian at least 30 days after vaccination and three months before being moved..." if that helps!

Pet Passport

The pet passport is a EU document and does not relate to pets traveling from countries outside the EU except for certain non-EU countries who participate. Pet passports should be applied for well in advance and and rabies jabs administered well in advance (check with vet). I am talking 6 months and more. The purpose of PETS is to keep the member states free from rabies and other diseases. PETS applies to cats, dogs and ferrets traveling between certain countries and these animals can only travel on certain routes. These animals arriving at the UK from non PETS participating countries must be placed in quarantine for six months. There is a limit to five pets please note. These are the qualifying European Union (EU) countries and territories:

Austria Estonia Hungary Netherlands
Azores Faroe Islands Ireland 3 Poland
Balearic Islands Finland Italy Portugal
Belgium France Latvia Reunion
Bulgaria French Guiana Lithuania Romania
Canary Islands Germany Luxembourg Slovakia
Ceuta Gibraltar Madeira Slovenia
Cyprus 1 Greece Malta Spain
Czech Republic Greenland Martinique Sweden
Denmark Guadeloupe 2 Melilla

Below are the qualifying non-EU countries and territories:

Andorra Fiji Russian Federation (2)
Antigua & Barbuda French Polynesia St Helena
Argentina Guam St Kitts & Nevis
Aruba Hawaii St Pierre & Miquelon
Ascension Island Hong Kong St Vincent & The Grenadines
Australia Iceland San Marino
Bahrain Jamaica (1) Switzerland
Barbados Japan Taiwan
Belarus Malaysia (3) Trinidad and Tobago
Bermuda Mauritius United Arab Emirates (4)
BES Islands (Bonair, Saint Eustatius and Saba) (5) Mayotte USA (mainland)
Bosnia-Herzegovina Mexico Vanuatu
British Virgin Islands Monaco Vatican
Canada Montserrat Wallis & Futuna
Cayman Islands Saint Maarten (5)
Chile Singapore
Croatia St Lucia
Curacao (5) New Caledonia
Falkland Islands New Zealand
Liechtenstein Norway

The above come from the DEFRA website (government website so excellent authority)

Site Build It!The major concern would seem to be rabies. In the UK it is extinct if that is the correct word. But is the USA for example it is not. Rabies is zoonotic (transferable from animal to human) and invariably kills both animal and human, hence the strict rules on importation of animals into the UK.

You get a pet passport from your veterinarian. He or she should know what to do regarding travel in the EU. I think microchipping is obligatory under the pet passport scheme. For the technically minded this is: "For the purposes of Article 4(1), the standard electronic identification system shall be a read-only passive radio frequency identification device (‘transponder’).." if your vet is unsure about pet passports, I would contact the airline. I would do this anyway as they all have different processes.

Read this page from Defra on PETS for more detail.

Rabies - importation from outside EU

Movement between Member States (of the EU) or from a territory listed in section 2 of Part B of Annex II of animals of the species listed in part C of Annex I shall not be subject to any requirement with regard to rabies (see list below).

Section 2 of Part B of Annex II

Section 2
  • AD Andorra 
  • CH Switzerland
  • HR Croatia
  • IS Iceland
  • LI Liechtenstein
  • MC Monaco 
  • NO Norway 
  • SM San Marino 
  • VA Vatican City State
Prevention is the best medicine for your pet's health.The rules relating to importation from other countries is almost unintelligible. It has been drafted in the most horrible way so I can't safely tell you what they are or mean. I would check with your vet. Rabies will be the determining factor but I know that rabies vaccinations are routine in the USA so I would not foresee a problem for cat travel from the USA to the EU provided the rules are complied with. The situation is probably similar in many other countries.

For those of you brave enough the rules on pet importation from outside the EU to the EU can be seen in this document: RULES!

Airline Requirements

These seem to vary from airline to airline as mentioned.  The cat travel tip is common sense: contact the airline concerned. This page from About.com has a list of links to phone numbers.

Air Canada, as one example, allow pets in the cabin provided they can fit under the seat in a cat carrier (note: this I believe applies to embarkation from Canada only - see how confusing it is). There is not much space under the seat! This has to be a small cat...For Air Canada these are the in cabin specs:

Max weight: 10 kg (22 lb) (pet and carrier combined)

Carrier size:

Hard-sided
Height: 23 cm (9 in)
Width: 40 cm (15.5 in)
Length: 55 cm (21.5 in)

Soft-sided
Height: 27 cm (10.5 in)
Width: 40 cm (15.5 in)
Length: 55 cm (21.5 in)

See here for more.

If they can't go under the seat they obviously go in the hold. This means a non-spill water dispenser and cat food in a nice carrier. At check-in with Air Canada in London the check-in person asks for the weights of the cat and carrier separately. A third person will take the cat and carrier to the luggage loading facility. As far as I am aware cats cannot go into the cabin from London, Heathrow.

Car Travel

What about car travel? Well most cat caretakers have travelled short distances with their cat and all that requires is a good cat carrier and a a bit of rescue remedy (for us!) as it is quite stressful driving with a cat as a passenger unless your cat likes it (rare).

I have travelled a long distance in my car with two cats. I went on holiday to Ireland from London! It worked out well, in fact. I even took them on the ferry and smuggled them on the boat in a large briefcase!

Anyway back to serious cat travel tips. On short distances the cat will remain in the carrier and that is all you need.

On a long trip the cat should be free to roam the car, in my opinion. This causes potential hazards (getting under your feet). But in practice a cat will quickly settle down on the back ledge at the rear of the car, on the dashboard or back seat etc.

What you need then is all the basics that are available at home: cat litter, cat food (I'd recommend a good dry food), something to clean up and perhaps some enzyme urine cleaner - sorry to be so negative. A cat first aid kit would come in handy too.  Cat toys and your cat's medical records and pet passport should be brought too.

I don't think there is any requirement to stop and let the cats out for a break. I would be against this unless the cat is on a leash. Cats disturbed and confused by a new environment may panic and run. That would cause chaos.

Cat Carriers

You'll need a good one. Here is a nice selection from Amazon.com (north America market).



See also cat stroller.

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