Saturday 2 June 2012

The Advantages Of Adopting A Shelter Or Rescue Cat

By Elisa Black-Taylor (USA)

It is the American Humane Association ADOPT-A-CAT MONTH® so I thought I'd write about something about which I have lots of experience. They say if you're thinking about adopting from a shelter, adopt two! Great idea. But get yourself ready.

The advantages of adopting a shelter or rescue cat are threefold. By this I mean there are at least three primary reasons it's in a cat lovers best interest to adopt here rather than answer a freebie add or adopt from a breeder.

Florida and her kittens were euthanized - Photo by Andrea Sams

First of all there's the reality of what you're doing. You're saving a cat who likely would have been euthanized because of the ratio between cats available and people wanting to give them homes. The shelters are full, especially this time of year with it now being kitten season. I watch the death lists every week and see hundreds of mother kittens and their little ones killed because no one offered them a home.

These cats are grateful when you bring them home and love on them. I don't know whether or not cats can be proven "psychic," but I'm convinced shelter and rescue cats know you saved them from euthanasia. They prove their love to you daily by laying in your lap, sleeping on your bed, and basically turning you into a human servant for their needs and comfort.

The second advantage of adopting a shelter or rescue cat is the pre-adoption care given a cat before it's placed up for adoption. The majority of cats are spay/neutered and all are tested for FeLV, FIV and heartworms. They've been given their first vaccines or whatever vaccines the shelter or rescue knows the cat should have to stay healthy. Many are even micro-chipped in case they become lost. Your cost will usually run under $100 regardless of which adoption method you decide on between the two. This is what you'd pay for spay/neuter alone should you decide to go the freebie route.

The third advantage is the one most people don't even think about. When you adopt from a shelter or a rescue, you're creating a spot for another cat. This is important because often euthanasia schedules are determined by how many cages a shelter has available.

This is important even in areas where the local Humane Society or adoption center is a no-kill facility. Many pick from death row, but if the cats available for adoption in a separate facility just sit in a cage waiting and hoping for a home, it often means a cat on death row is euthanised because time ran out before a cage opening became available.

The same holds true when adopting from a rescue. Rescues typically pull cats from death row. When you adopt one of their cats, this gives the rescue an opening to save another cat.

This is the time of year for the best selection of cats available. Purebreds are being turned into the shelter along with their litters because their family didn't have the mother spayed. You may not have the paperwork to prove it, but it's very easy to find everything from Maine Coons to Siamese available along with mixed breed cats.

Many shelters as well as rescues can be found at weekend adoption events at Petco or Petsmart. If not, contact your local shelter and ask them what time is good to come in an meet their available cats.

I hope a few of the readers here will share their shelter or rescue adoption stories. These cats were thrown away by their owners for one reason or another. It does not mean they're not deserving of a good home and someone to love them.

Take it from someone who's pulled more than 50 cats off of death row in the past year and a half. Shelter cats are the best!

NOTE: The above photo shows a Maine Coon named Florida. She was euthanized along with her kittens because no one chose her at the shelter before her time ran out. Please support your local shelters and rescues.

Friday 1 June 2012

People Get Salmonella Poisoning From Contaminated Pet Food

I had not fully realised this but there is a risk that people who are feeding their cats or dogs pet food that is believed to be contaminated with salmonella, can become infected and poisoned by the salmonella bacteria themselves. The risk is not high, it seems, and precautionary measures can be taken.

In fact, regarding the last pet food recall that I referred to on this site, it is reported that although there have been no cases of dogs showing symptoms of a salmonella infection, there have been 16 cases of humans being infected across nine US states and Canada [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)].

Salmonella is a type of bacteria and salmonella infections are zoonotic. This means the infection can be transmitted from animal to human and vice versa.

In respect of the current dry dog food recall (Diamond Pet Foods), a person can become infected if their hands have come into contact with the contaminated product and their hands are subsequently used to handle human food before being thoroughly washed. The same applies to surfaces exposed to the product.

The symptoms can be quite nasty:  diarrhea, abdominal cramping and fever, nausea, vomiting. Children under 5 years of age are at a higher risk.

There is also an extension of the original Diamond Pet Food recall which people probably already know about. In case it has been overlooked, this page of the FDA website deals with it. It concerns Diamond Naturals Small Breed Adult Dog Lamb and Rice Formula 6 pound & 18 pound bags and samples that were manufactured on 26th August 2011.

Are People Less Allergic To Raw Fed Cats?

by Elisa Black-Taylor (USA)

Are people less allergic to raw fed cats? I'm not an expert on the subject of raw fed cats, but the question has come up a few times on the raw fed cat forums I subscribe to. I hope at the end of this article those of you who have more experience with this will comment.

Let's look at what causes people to be allergic to cats. Usually it's cat dander. Dander is dead skin or bits of dead hair. This dander can remain in the air for hours after being shed by a cat. Cat dander has even been found in office buildings and schools where no cats are present. This is because it may remain on a person's clothes after they pet their cat, then go about their day without changing clothes.

Making raw cat food
Making raw cat food. Photo in the public domain.

Raw fed cats tend to have more moisture in their skin. Their coats are shinier and their hide (for lack of a better word) isn't as dry. So it's understandable that more moisture means less dander, which means less shedding. This could mean less allergies for those who suffer.

These cats not only shed fewer allergens, their flea problems are also dramatically reduced. Perhaps the skin toughens up to the extent the fleas don't find it a favorable environment. Or do fleas tend to prefer shedding dander and once this has been eliminated, they move on or die from lack of 'nourishment?'

These are all things to consider for those who want a cat but are allergic or who may be thinking of turning their cat into the shelter system because of cat allergies.

Although no official studies have been done showing raw fed cats cause less allergies, it has been shown these cats shed 75% less than cats fed a traditional commercial diet.

I've used raw chicken as treats for my cats and my vet has been very surprised at how white their teeth are. Our Furby has a movie star smile! Their fur is also extremely soft. This goes away after awhile if I don't continue to offer the raw chicken as a treat.

Have any of you experienced a reduction in cat allergies when feeding raw? We may not have an official study going on here, but I'm curious. I'd like your opinion on the subject.

Associated: Hypoallergenic Cat Breeds and Hypoallergenic Cat Food (this is food for a cat that is allergic to some types of food).

Our Munchkins - Arlow, Lowla and Kilow

by Sherrie (Florida, USA)

Nine years ago my sister-in-law moved to Panama.  At the time she owned a Munchkin cat that she couldn't take with her.  So Arlow joined us.  He was our only cat.  He can run and jump and accomplish any feat a full size cat can.  He is now 11 years old and has had no health problems. 

They do not develop the back problems like Dachshunds do.  When he turned 10, we decided to bring another munchkin into our family.  We drove over a 1,000 miles to get Lowla.  She does not jump as high as Arlow can, but she can jump longer distances.  While Arlow tends to be shy, Lowla is just the opposite - she loves having company! 

This year, we learned of a backyard breeder whose kittens were being removed and placed by a couple of reputable breeders.  That's how Kilow joined our family.  She's still a youngster - 6 months old, just over 3 pounds.  She's a fiesty little thing and the other cats welcomed her into our family.  She is a high jumper like Arlow.  Even though she is only 4 inches high, she can jump up on the bed and climbs our cat tower all the way to the 6 foot platform with ease.

Munchkins are a naturally occurring genetic mutation.  There are dwarf kittens and regular size kittens born in the same litters.  Lowla is a Siamese Munchkin mixed with a calico regular cat.  She has beautiful blue eyes.  Kilow, is a chocolate spotted tabby - I believe she is a Bengal/munchkin cross.  Arlow is a lilac tabby and just too handsome.

They don't know they are little.  They all play as normal cats and have no health problems.  Since we have had munchkins for so long, I believe we are qualified to testify to that.

See more: Dwarf cats and Miniature Cats.

Cat Smarter Than Some People?

I think it is fair to say that this cat is smarter in some ways than some of the people who comment on her trick of walking down the side of a fridge.

A lot of the comments to the video on YouTube refer to "suction feet" and "spider cat" and that sort of stuff. They haven't figured out how she does this but she has and she does it instinctively.

It is clear from the beginning that Piggy is using the wall adjacent to the fridge to good advantage. She places her back against the wall as soon as she starts to descend.

She uses her strong legs to press her back hard against the wall. This creates a tension throughout her body and puts pressure on her paws that are in contact with the fridge.

This allows her to walk down the fridge and even stop half way and have a chat. You can see the same technique used by mountaineers climbing steep rock faces. They sometimes use indentations that are in the shape of a column of rock to shimmy up the mountain.

Here is the video:

For me this confirms what I already know. Cats are pretty smart. They can understand a bit of simple physics. I can think of a similar sort of thought process with my cat Charlie. He has three legs so he has to figure out how to do things that other cats take for granted.

One of the difficulties that he has is jumping down because his single front leg can't take the pressure on landing. He twists his body as he jumping down and lands on all three legs simultaneously. Neat solution. I have also seen him jump from a wall onto a sloping tree and then to the ground to get off the wall. He used the tree in an elegant way as a staging post in the jump down. These things come instinctively to him which makes me think that there is some pretty sharp thought processes going on.

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