Category Archives: Pet

Black Cats and Feline Reputations

Most people in the United States have heard that if a black cat crosses your path, bad luck will follow. Most people who respond to such an event by saying something like “uh-oh” don’t follow up and blame the cat for the fact that a few days later they are, say, fired from their job or trip over the dog and sprain an ankle. But the notion persists, as do many other folk beliefs about cats-as-trouble. Most of these notions arose (in the West) during the late Middle Ages, persisting well into the seventeenth and even the eighteenth centuries. They come down to us today, happily, for the most part filtered by time and reason into paler, less scary versions. In fact, in England it is good luck if a black cat crosses your path. But Europeans in earlier times found plenty of reasons to be truly horrible to cats, especially black ones.

Black cats were not only nocturnal like all cats, skulking around in the dark as if guilty of something, and they were often indifferent to humans, even haughty, but also they had the misfortune of being black. For Europeans in early times, black was-simply-bad. It was associated with the underworld, with night (when bad things like werewolves were on the prowl), with the dark forests where dangerous spirits and crazy people bent on mayhem lurked. It was a scary world, where Satan himself was a constant threat. He and his dark minions practiced the black arts and were always looking to traduce innocent souls into evil.* The world, back in late medieval times, was also full of somewhat attenuated beliefs based on ancient times. Rome’s Diana the Huntress was associated with cats and later in her career morphed a little bit into Hecate, goddess of the underworld and given to dark doings. Also she was associated with the moon, that unreliable and protean body in the night sky. Cats were awarded these attributes.

Early on, the Catholic Church tried to dispel any such pagan notions, discouraging belief in the witchcraft that appears to have always been part of life in most preliterate societies. But late in the Middle Ages when universal satisfaction with the teachings and workings of the Church began to decay, scapegoats were needed. In 1233, Pope Gregory IX explained that black cats were satanic and suddenly the Christian world was overrun with witches and their “familiars,” which is to say the black cats that the witches sent forth to do harm to people. Indeed, witches often turned into black cats. And witches of course were agents of the devil. Thousands of people, mostly women, were burned at the stake along with their cats. Putative witches were typically tortured, and they readily admitted their guilt to stop the torture, even repeating various totally made-up incantations. Thus the virulence of witchcraft was proved, leading to a kind of mass hysteria in which yet more witches were put to the torch. Meanwhile, with such a bad rap, cats of all colors were persecuted.

In one common event, they were hung in bags that avid medieval sportsmen would attack with lances. Indeed, killing cats by one means or another was a highly popular pastime. In these exercises, there was no special emphasis on black cats-any cat would do. From this era comes the old saying “no room to swing a cat,” another sportsmen’s amusement. Possibly harking back to the Egyptian belief that cats were associated with fecundity, some medieval European farmers would bury a cat-alive- near each field they planted, to ensure the growth of the crops. In one macabre case, English archaeologists in the nineteenth century found the remains of thousands of cats buried by the adoring ancient Egyptians, and shipped them back to Albion to be ground up and used as fertilizer.

Mistreatment of cats in this era took many forms. As James Serpell of the University of Pennsylvania describes it, On feast days as a symbolic means of driving out the Devil, cats, especially black ones, were captured, tortured, thrown onto bonfires, set alight and chased through the streets, impaled on spits and roasted alive, burned at the stake, plunged into boiling water, whipped to death, and hurled from the tops of tall buildings; and all, it seems, in an atmosphere of extreme festive merriment.

Europe was not alone in the world in its distaste for all that cats stood for. Evil cats were common features of some Oriental folklore. In Japan, huge vampire cats took the form of human females and sucked the blood and strength from unwitting men. The Japanese used to cut off cats’ tails, believing the tail to be the seat of their malevolence. On the other hand, cats were looked upon with great favor in many Japanese monasteries, where bobtail cats called temple cats or kimono cats were thought to exemplify much of the wisdom passed on by the Buddha. And today, the Japanese have given the world the manekineko or beckoning cat, which can be found in many Asian restaurants and homes in this country as well as Japan and the rest of Asia.

The ceramic figure, something like a children’s illustration, recalls a cat that legendarily stood at the entrance of a famous temple beckoning a feudal lord to come inside. A lightning bolt struck where the lord had been standing and thereafter the beckoning cat was taken to be an incarnation of the goddess of mercy. It is also said to be good for businesses, beckoning customers, and for happiness and harmony-a long way from the cat vampires of old. Today in the West the association of cats with witches is memorialized in Hallowe’en costumery and iconography wherein witches on broomsticks ride across the disc of the full moon, while cartoonish black cats with malevolently arched backs spit and hiss in the foreground. On the last day of October, diminutive witches with black pointy hats will now turn up on doorsteps cheerfully calling for tricks or treats. And, of course, at least 278 zillion people have read about Harry Potter whose witch-filled world is also populated by kneazles, catlike creatures with spots and big ears, that appear to be mostly benevolent. In Islamic countries, cats are and were much admired, especially since the prophet Mohammed was particularly fond-and respectful-of cats, once cutting off his sleeve rather than awakening the cat who was sleeping on it. On the other hand, most Muslims find dogs objectionable. Dogs are eaten in many Asian restaurants, but I know of no place where cats are part of the normal diet.

The idea that a black cat crossing your path is bad luck is a southern European and Irish superstition, exported to the Americas. The English, as noted earlier, consider such an event good luck, and here and there local superstitions suggest that the appearance of a black cat in the presence of a pregnant woman assures a healthy offspring. Cats, and especially black ones, seem to have enjoyed a remarkable power: to be (in one place or another or at one time or another) all things to all people. Even at the height of cat persecution, plenty of cats lived comfortably with families who valued them for their help in vermin control. Indeed, in some places in England, if someone killed your cat, he would be forced to provide you with a pile of grain as high as the cat was long.

I myself had a black cat for several years. I did not seek him out. Instead, two women in the office where I worked at the time thought it would be funny (I suppose) or somehow fitting for them to present me with a large carton at the end of one October day-it was a few days before Hallowe’en-in which there sat a lanky young black cat with a look in his eyes of what seemed low-level outrage. The carton itself was decorated with various kinds of feline graffiti. I was unable to think of a graceful, or even ungraceful, way to refuse this gift, but the thought of schlepping the elaborately decorated carton to Grand Central Terminal in New York City and boarding a crowded train for the hour’s ride to my town, then arriving at my door and trying to explain to my then wife how we had come to have a cat and then introducing the cat to our dog while our three young daughters enthusiastically mauled it… well, it was not an auspicious beginning.

I was aware that black cats had a reputation for bringing bad luck, but as a science editor I was not going to worry about such nonsense. We found it difficult for reasons I don’t recall to come up with a name for this interloper, so finally, in a burst of paternal authority (this was the late 1960s) and stunning imagination I unilaterally named him Cat. Science or no, I was tempted to look up a few superstitions about black cats and found, of course, that I should be careful about him crossing my path, and if he did the antidote was something like walking around the point where I had seen him twelve times, then heading off backwards in my original direction. I pronounced myself grateful for my exposure to science, thinking how time-consuming it would be for me to feel I needed the antidote, what with Cat strolling though the house day in and day out. Imagine the superstitious life: you would have hardly any time for anything else.

Anyway, I came to know Cat and to be very fond of him, admiring all the things about cats that all cat people admire, though if he ever caught a mouse and dispatched it (or a bird, for that matter), I was unaware of it. I did not consider this a failing-just Cat’s amiable and, I thought, admirable approach to life. He took things easy and stayed out of trouble. Like most people, I have experienced plenty of misfortunes, mostly minor ones, but it has never occurred to me to blame any of them on Cat, who was a really good guy. One day, in his late teens, with out having shown much by way of signs of aging, he simply stopped being alive.

I have since learned that nowadays it is not always easy to obtain a black cat from an animal shelter in the days near Halloween. This is because some of the good people who devote themselves to such places do not want to run the risk of someone taking a black cat off to some horrid altar and performing lethal satanic rituals with it. This, in the twenty-first century!

It is a sad commentary to think that such a precious and complicated organ as the human brain, capable of designing a laser, or a symphony, or a democratic constitution, or of divining the common molecular basis for all of life on this planet, can still be so foully and stupidly misused.

Not all superstitions about cats that persist today are malevolent, of course; most of them are positive and harmless, if a bit silly. Upon reflection, it does seem strange for an animal whose evolutionary history is so steadfastly catlike-you have to go back many millions of years to find a cat ancestor that doesn’t look and act unmistakably like a cat-to be assigned so variegated an array of meanings. The human propensity to imagine the supernatural or the anthropocentric and pin it on perfectly innocent animals is astonishing. Snakes have, as noted, gotten an especially bad rap (aside from the fact that some are poisonous) for conning Eve, and other offenses. Most American Indian cultures believe the presence of an owl, and especially the hooting of an owl, presages a death. Who doesn’t-deep down-believe that the bluebird brings happiness? Dogs have both suffered and been esteemed in their symbolic essences. Horses come off pretty well in this regard: malevolent horses are rarely seen in human folklore or in the tribunals of people of faith.

Cats and dogs are considered either contemptible or splendid in a kaleidoscope of ways and for a host of reasons. The Church of Rome, for example, found dogs to be despicable because of their licentiousness but also heroic for their loyalty. The Church held cats in some contempt (not only were they licentious but they were noisy about it) until a papal successor to Pope Gregory IX began raising them. Then attitudes toward cats slowly changed to mostly positive. Today, in the United States, more cats are pets than dogs.

Aggression Between Cats

Litter mate aggression is very different from aggression between cats whether it is a neighbors’ cat or one you bring home. I love the idea of two cats to exercise and entertain themselves but cats tend to be very territorial and you must take several steps to identify aggressive behavior and perform proper steps to introduce the new cat in the house. First let’s define the types of aggressive behavior often demonstrated by cats.

Territorial aggression: This occurs when a cat feels that an intruder has invaded her territory.

  • Cats can be aggressive toward one cat yet friendly and tolerant with another.
  • Aggressive behavior problems often occur when a new cat is brought home, a young kitten reaches maturity, or a cat encounters neighborhood cats outside.
  • The most typical behavioral actions are stalking, chasing, ambushing, hissing, loud meowing, swatting, and preventing access to places such as the litter box, or another room.
  • Female cats can be just as territorial as males. This I know because I have one.

Inter-male aggression: Adult male cats may threaten and sometimes fight with other males. This aggressive behavior is common with typical of feral cats or cat that have not been neutered. They may fight over a female, for a higher place on the totem pole, or to defend territory.

Cats stalk, stare, howl, and puff up their fur to back each other down. If one does back down and walk away, the aggressor, having made his point, will usually walk away as well. If no one backs down the cats may actually fight. They may roll around biting, kicking, swatting, screaming and suddenly stop, resume posturing, fight again, or walk away.

When you see signs that a fight may occur, distract them by clapping loudly, tossing a pillow nearby, or squirting them with water. These actions can also be used to break up a fight.

Defensive aggression: Defensive aggression behavior occurs when a cat tries to protect himself from an animal or human attacker he believes he can’t escape. This behavior may be in response to the following:

  • Punishment or the threat of punishment from a person
  • An attack or attempted attack from another cat
  • Any incident that makes the animal feel threatened or afraid
  • Demonstration of aggressive defensive behavior postures include:
  • Crouching with the legs and tail pulled in under the body
  • Flattening the ears against the head
  • Rolling slightly to the side

Approaching a cat in this posture is likely to cause an attack.

Redirected aggression: Cats direct this type of aggression toward another animal, or even a person, who didn’t initially provoke the behavior.

A good example of redirected aggressive behavior is when your cat sees another cat in his territory and you happen to pet him during or shortly after and the cat attacks you. The cat doesn’t even know who you are at that moment because it is so worked up about the other cat that he attacks the first thing that crosses his path.

First steps you should take with a cat that demonstrates aggressive behavior:

1. Contact your veterinarian for a thorough health examination. Cats often hide symptoms of illness until they’re seriously ill. Your aggressive cat may be feeling sick and taking out his misery on others.

2. Should your cat get a clean bill of health your cat has an emotional problem. Please consult with your vet for further steps or get a referral to an animal behavior specialist for help. A behaviorist will advise you on what can be done. You may need to start the introduction process all over again between the two cats. Also, you may have to keep the cats in separate areas of your home, or even find one of the cats a new home if the aggression is extreme and can’t be resolved.

3. Consult with your veterinarian about a short course of anti-anxiety medication for your cats while you’re working on changing their behaviors. Never attempt to medicate your cat on your own always seek professional advice.

4. This could mean keeping the cats separated from each other while you work on the problem, or at least prevent contact between them during situations likely to trigger a fight.

The behavior of one intact animal can negatively affect all of your pets. Always have your cats spayed or neutered as a first action step to curb aggressive behavior.

Actions to avoid during the reintroduction process:

    • Don’t count on the cats to “work things out.”The more they fight, the worse the problem is likely to become. To stop a fight in progress, make a loud noise such as clapping your hands, squirt the cats with water, or throw something soft at them like clothes or a pillow.

    • Don’t attempt to touch them. Your chances of personal injury from a scratch or bite are highly likely.

    • Don’t punish the cats involved.Punishment will only cause further aggression and fearful responses that will make the problem worse. You could even become a target for redirected aggression.

  • Don’t add more cats or get litter mates in the beginning. Some cats are willing to share their house and territory with multiple non litter mate cats, but the more cats sharing the same territory; the more likely it is that the cats will not get along with each other.

In summary, the aggressive behavior found in cats is usually due to introduction of another cat you brought home or from other neighborhood cats in its territory. Litter mates tend to get along better if you are inclined to have more than one pet. Some cats are just aggressive in nature regardless of other cats and a trip to the veterinarian or a cat behavioral specialist may be needed. Remember there are several types of aggressive behaviors that can be demonstrated and you should be aware of the signs.

Cat Food: Many Choices

As I began researching articles about cat food, I found many with authoritative documentation and some with personal opinions. I personally wanted to know what would be the best to feed our mature cat. He has been on dry food since birth with expensive treats and occasionally a few pieces of meat – table scraps – of cooked chicken, beef, tuna, salmon or pork. This may not have been the most correct choice.

Our cat Simba, is strictly an indoor cat. He has always had good health and has a beautiful, glossy, smooth, orange tabby coat. He has starting vomiting a little bit, which appears to be unprocessed dry food or treats, and occasionally hair balls. I will leave the hairballs for another article. In this article I will look at cat food options. I decided to find out what kind of cat food we should get for him or if a dietary change is needed.

In my opinion, it often the ‘cost’ that drives the consumer’s decision on what cat food to purchase, even though our cats are very precious to us. I am sure we want the best food we can afford to give our pet, and what is best for him. In evaluating the issue, I believe that ‘costs’ can be evaluated in two ways.

First, we can get the best from the grocery store. Much of our decision is probably based on the advertising we hear or see through the media, and occasionally from a friend. It is often that we are at the store, cat food is on our list, our selection is on sale, it says it’s ‘natural’ or some other persuasive word on the label, and we place it in our cart with little thought to read the ingredient list. At home, our cat likes it when we feed him the selected food, so we think we have made a good choice.

Second, we can do a lot of research, decide to go to a pet store or make a purchase online for a good quality, high protein cat food, and know from what we have read that it is a good choice, and ‘cost’ didn’t really become the deciding factor. Our cat’s health became the more important issue.

Some cat owners are probably a little on both sides when selecting the cat food; I know I am. Cost is important, but the quality of health our cat enjoys is also very important. We enjoy spoiling our cats, and our cats love to be pampered, so sometimes we supplement our cat’s food with cat treats. Spoiling our cats with treats may not be a good decision either. He may want more because he is not nutritionally satisfied with the cat food we give him. How do we make the right decision?

As with ourselves, we feel better when we eat better, and so will our cats. Let me briefly share with you some information I found it articles that I researched.

1. Whole meats such as chicken, beef, lamb, salmon, etc. vs. cat food with ‘meal’, ‘by-products’, ‘animal digest’, and added sugars. Analysis: Whole meat is best, as you may know. If you really want to know what goes into some inexpensive pet food, and your stomach can stand the information, take the time to read about it on the web. Many of the products put into pet foods should not be ingested by any living thing, and these are products are put into pet food by many large pet food companies.

2. Grain based vs. grain free cat food: Analysis: Cats do not need grains. Most grains are used a fillers in canned cat food and as binding agents in dry cat food. Some manufactures believe that grains will add protein content, which it does, but cats need meat protein, not grain proteins. Some cats may also develop allergies to wheat or corn when added to their food.

3. Cat food with vegetables and fruits: Analysis: Often you can observe that vegetables, such as peas or corn, go right through a cat’s digestive tract without being processed in the intestines. Cats process meat proteins, but not vegetables or fruits.

4. Dry cat food vs. Canned/moist cat food: Analysis: Dry cat food is not natural. It has carbohydrates for fillers, such as grains, to hold it together. The label may indicate that it has high protein content but most of the protein is grain or milk protein, not meat protein. Don’t, however, feel that canned cat food is the only answer because it may also contain fillers including grains, meal, by-products, milk, etc. Several articles suggested that a combination of dry and canned may be the best for your cat.

5. Raw meat vs. high-protein canned cat food: Analysis: I never felt this issue was totally resolved. It has much to do with the individual cat and his owner. Canned food is more convenient and has a longer shelf life, and should be kept refrigerated after it is open. Raw food takes more preparation and has a shorter refrigerated shelf life. You can read discussions on this subject on several cat forums.

6. Grocery store cat food vs. pet store or online high quality cat food: Analysis: I believe that we could all come to the conclusion that a high protein from meat is the better choice, and that product would probably best be purchased at a pet store (which also carry the grocery store brands), or online.

In conclusion, here are a few final thoughts.

* Even thought the cost is higher with a better quality cat food, your cat will eat less because it is a better protein and he is nutritionally satisfied. He won’t eat as much, and he will be less likely to develop liver or other diseases. You, therefore, will have less expensive vet bills, and a happier, healthier cat.

* Read the labels, do research (other than asking friends and listening to or reading ads), and become an educated consumer. Purchase the cat food you feel is best for your cat.

* Consider the age of your cat. A kitten shouldn’t eat the same cat food as your mature cat. The brands will indicate on the label which food is best for your age of cat.

* Introduce any dietary changes slowly, probably over the course of a week or so.

* Research the web, read books, or talk with your vet so you can decide which cat food is best.

All cat foods are not the same. Your cat’s taste buds may like some brands or meats better than others. Purchasing the cat food you feel is best will give you peace of mind by giving him the best cat food you can afford, and he will feel better and more satisfied as he adjusts to his new diet.

About The Sphynx Cat

Perhaps the world’s most bizarre feline, the Sphynx cat has a unique hairless look that sets it apart from other cats. But that’s not all. It’s a rather rare and unusual breed of cat, and has been described to feel like a warm suede hot water bottle. These cats need special care, but all the extra time and effort you dedicate to taking care of this cat will be well worth it. Their loving, playful and inquisitive nature makes them a wonderful cat to have around and call your own.

Breed History
Although it gets its name from the ancient Great Sphinx of Giza, Sphynx cats are a relatively new breed. There have been a number of occurrences of these hairless cats being born throughout history. But the Sphnyx cat first came to be well-recognized in the year 1966 in Canada when a domestic cat in Toronto gave birth to a hairless kitten. This was considered to be the result of a natural genetic mutation. From there, cats with the mutation were bred to give rise to the Sphynx breed. In 1970 the line became extinct due to the belief that the mutation caused health issues and breathing difficulties in the cats. But this did not spell the end to this breed. Before long, in 1975, a cat in Minnesota, named Jezebel, gave birth to a hairless kitten. The kitten was sold to a local breeder who revived the Sphynx breed by expanding and strengthening the gene pool. After many years of careful breeding, now Sphynx cats are a varied and genetically sound breed, though still rare. In 2002, the Cat Fancier’s Association accepted the cat breed for competition in the Championship Class.

Physical Characteristics
The most obvious feature of the Sphynx cat is its lack of hair. Although they are known as the “hairless” cats, they actually have warm peach fuzz fur on their bodies, especially on their nose, toes and tail. They may or may not have whiskers and eyebrows. They have long, lean bodies and a rounded abdomen. They possess characteristically large triangular ears, large paw pads and their tail is long and slender. The skin of a Sphynx cat is wrinkled, and they come in a variety of colors and patterns, including Siamese point patterns. An adult Sphynx cat normally weighs around 8 to 15 pounds, and male cats can be up to 25% bigger than their female counterparts.

Personality & Temperament
Sphynx cats are an inquisitive breed that likes to be the center of attention and love being handled and cuddled. They are intelligent cats that are agile, playful and sweet-tempered. They have a sense of adventure and mischief that make them fun to be around. They love human companionship, and will follow humans around the house. Sphynx cats are not for people who want a quiet, docile cat. They fit in well in homes with children, dogs or other cats. Oh, and these extroverts like to show off with their acrobatic tricks as well. So it’s probably a good thing that these cheeky felines are kept indoors for the most part.

Common Medical Problems
Sphynx cats have few health or genetic problems, and have a normal lifespan. They are generally considered to be a very robust breed. But they do still face some problems unique to their physical nature, most of which have to do with their hairlessness. During their 1st few weeks of life, Sphynx kittens are susceptible to respiratory infections. Sphynx cat breeders usually don’t allow kittens to move to new homes until they are at least 12 weeks old so they’re ready to handle a new environment. These hairless cats are also prone to sunburn and skin cancer, so it’s important that their sun exposure is limited. They are also susceptible to the cold, so care needs to be taken to keep this indoor cat nice and warm.

Sphynx cats also have sensitive digestive systems, particularly in that they are small. They can develop severe diarrhea after using medication or being fed diets that contain less than 80% protein. They can also acquire common feline illnesses, and are immunized just as other cat breeds are.

Hereditary myopathy (spasticity) and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) are two genetic conditions that are found in this breed, with the latter being more common. HCM refers to a thickening of the left ventricle of the heart, and may not cause outward symptoms. Sphynx breeders are trying to eliminate this condition from the breed by scanning yearly and removing positive cats from their breeding program.

Special Care & Maintenance
Because they lack the protection of a fur coat, a hairless Sphynx cat requires special care. It’s recommended that you give them a weekly bath to remove the buildup of oil and dust on their skin. Their hair follicles give off oil, but unlike other cats, they have no hair to absorb the oil, and so their skin can easily become greasy. Because they have sensitive skin that burns easily, a very hot bath should be avoided. A sphynx cat’s eyes and ears should also be cleaned weekly to remove any eye discharge or earwax. As they lack hair around their ears, it’s easy for dirt to enter.

Sphynx cats are vulnerable to the sun and cold, and are meant to be indoor cats. So exposure to the outdoors should be limited. They may be taken outside on occasion if they are heavily supervised and the weather is right for them. Generally, the temperature inside your house should be kept around 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Consider the Sphynx cat to be “naked” – if you would be cold naked, chances are that your cat is going to be too. You may need to clothe them during the winter.

Also, as their bodies are constantly working to keep themselves warm, their metabolism is higher than other cats so they need to be fed more food at meal times. Always place dry food out for your cat and add one or two servings of wet food each day. They need to be fed high quality food with a good balance of fat and protein.

So if you think the intelligent and companionable Sphynx cat is for you, then you can purchase them from Sphynx cat breeders. Expect to pay more for a hairless Sphynx cat than you would for another cat breed. Sphynx cat adoption is also available, and costs less than buying a newborn kitten.

Dogs Vs Cats As Pets

A Pet Dog or Cat, Which Is For Me? Learn The Positives and Negatives.

Pet dogs or pet cats, both of these animals are popular pet choices available for us to choose from, but which pet is right for you? Cats and dogs are pretty much polar opposites of each other, from the personalities they carry, to the mannerisms they outwardly display, and if you want to identify what pet is right for you, then we need to learn more information about these amazing animals.

I’ve lived with dogs and cats for a long time, helping to raise them from a young age and eventually into full grown adults, so I understand the pros and cons each one of them holds. For your benefit, I’m going to list those positives and negatives from my personal experience, which will hopefully allow you to answer the question: “Is a dog or cat the right pet for me?”

Behavior – How Loving Are These Two?

Pros for Dogs: Dogs always appear to be happy, no matter what the circumstance. As long as you bought a puppy at a young age and gave them plenty of love as they grew up, then the dog’s attitude should be a fun and loving one, and that’s exactly what owners want. Dogs are loving, loyal, and are simply entertaining to just be around. In fact, I don’t think it’s possible for dogs to feel another emotion besides joy! Well, they also feel guilt when they do something wrong, but besides that, dogs are constantly brimming with positivity and it is absolutely infectious at times. Imagine a tiresome day at work, coming home and plopping down on the couch, and then being greeted by your happy animal companion who wants nothing more than to cheer you up. Aw, how nice of them!

Cons for Dogs: However, dogs sometimes can get too needy for your attention. Maybe after that long day of work, you instead want to go home and rest without any interruption, but a dog may still attempt to smother you for a pat on the back. Dogs also have the tendency to get jealous over other pets who are being given any form of attention, and may exact revenge if you don’t provide the same amount of love towards them. I had a Poodle that would pee in undesirable locations knowing it was bad, but did it anyways because she got angry or jealous. That was one bad dog. Not all dogs have such an obnoxious characteristic, however.

Pros for Cats: Unlike dogs, cats have more than one emotion! They are also far more independent and conservative. Cats will always have a fondness for their owners, but they choose to show it only when they are in the mood. A cat might wake up after a brief rest, and spontaneously think: “Well, I feel like getting some attention now,” and they’ll walk over to you and start rubbing up against your legs while purring. That’s when you know the cat is in a good mood, when they sound like miniature car motors.

Then there are other times when you will try to pet them, and the cat will just be like: “Yeah, whatever, thanks I guess.” Or the cat is in an extremely lazy mood and will refuse to respond to anything you do. Nobody ever knows how a cat will react, their behavior is random. You kinda have to “earn” their respect and attention, but hey, nothings wrong with that. Plus, cats won’t always be a bother when you’re busy.

Cons for Cats: The problem with a cat’s attitude is that it’s inconsistent, or arbitrary. There are occasions when you just want a friendly pet to come lay down on top of your lap or next to you, and cats will certainly do that, just not whenever you want. What I’m trying to articulate here is cats are not as loyal or willing to comply as easily as dogs.

Here’s an example: Once a dog learns his name, he’ll respond without hesitation when you call him. A cat, however, even when he hears you calling, will choose to either listen or completely ignore you. The cat will even raise it’s head towards you, acknowledging that he’s heard your call, and then close his eyes and go right back to sleep. How rude! Cats will listen every now and then; it’s just if they are in the mood.

Conclusion: The personality is a preference thing. People like loyal and loving pets, but they also enjoy pets who show can show some restraint.

Messiness – How Clean Or Messy Are Dogs and Cats?

Pros for Dogs: Uh, well, you know, um… Okay dogs are not really the cleanest animals around. The good thing is you can potty train them, and training them to go to the bathroom outside is both convenient and a whole lot less smelly for your home. That’s really all I have to say for the positive side. Dogs will take care of themselves most often, but you will probably need to give a bath from time to time to help keep them clean.

Cons for Dogs: First off, if you haven’t potty trained your dog yet, you should! Otherwise, the dog will pee or poop wherever they please, and that’s just gross. On top of that immense problem, dogs are known to chew on wires, shoes, or anything else accessible on the ground. Wires that have been chewed through will render whatever appliance it was powering to be fully useless. Depending on what the appliance was, it may need to be replaced, and means spending money. The same goes for the shoes.

To remedy this problem, you can buy cord covers to cover any vulnerable cords laying around. Make sure the covers are hard enough to prevent any chewing. As for the shoes, put them away in a closet somewhere. Also, consider having a few chew toys available for your dog to satisfy their chomping urges; it’ll save you money in the end.

Pros for Cats: Cats, to match their independent behavior, clean themselves many times. It’s part of a cat’s daily routine. They even have tongues that have a sandpaper like texture to help clean and groom their hair. Due to a cat’s frequent cleaning, they rarely need to be bathed, which is great. I mean, have you tried bathing a cat before? It’s a nightmarish experience for sure.

Most cats are already potty trained, all you have to do is have a few litter boxes scattered throughout the house, the rest can be left up to them. How convenient is that? You can even let a cat outside and they’ll take care of business, even burying it after they’ve finished. Cats are very clean animals.

Cons for Cats: Until they throw up a nasty hairball, that is. A major downside for cats is the perpetual vomiting. Some cats do it more often than others, but at some point, the cat is going to get a hairball from their constant cleaning, and you will have to clean it up! It’s kinda gross, but you’ll get used to it eventually.

Additionally, it’s important to spay or neuter a cat as soon as possible. It’ll prevent them from spraying your home with urine. Seriously, the earlier the better. You don’t want a cat to develop a spraying habit, it’s the worst.

And of course, cats have the tendency to claw furniture! There are scratching posts one can buy to discourage this type of behavior. Placing the posts next to the piece of furniture is most effective.

Conclusion: Cats are cleaner than dogs, but have the potential to be messier, especially if they are not spayed at the right time. But self-cleaning and instinctive potty training are two very convenient hygienic qualities to have in a pet.

Fun – Are Dogs or Cats More Fun To Play With?

Pros For Dogs: Because of a dog’s willingness to listen, to put it simply: it allows you to do more fun activities with them, and that can be way more fun for certain people. You can teach a dog new tricks, like sitting, rolling over and playing dead; all of which are entertaining for you and your family to see. Dogs also love to go for walks in the parks for some healthy exercise, or play an exciting game of fetch. Undoubtedly, dogs are very amusing animals and most of the fun comes from the owner interacting with their pet, unlike cats. I’ll explain below.

Cons For Dogs: Fun stems from an energetic and friendly attitude, which is precisely where dogs excel. If you are looking for a fun pet then, dogs will rarely disappoint. No real cons come to mind in this department.

Pros for Cats: Cats, despite their supposed sophisticated demeanor, are captivated by the simplest of things. If you’ve raised a kitten before, the first thing that stands out is their ability to entertain themselves with absolutely anything. It’s a cat’s self-entertainment that is so enthralling and fun to watch.

My cats will attack innocent rugs, rolling themselves up inside and clawing at the furry mat as if it were alive. They’ll also chase their own tails around in circles until they get dizzy, in which case they’ll stop for a few seconds, and do it all over again! Cats will stalk bugs in the house, hiding behind cover and methodically pacing themselves towards the unsuspecting insect, then they crouch down, shake their behinds back and forth until finally ending with a vicious pounce. It’s hilarious to see, and you would be surprised at how effective cats are at eliminating bugs.

If you want to participate in on the fun and interact with a cat, you can. All you need is a single piece of string. Seriously, cats cannot resist the opportunity to play with a piece of string. Even if you were to wake a cat up in the middle of the night, and they see a string wiggling vigorously in front of them, they’ll instantly become wide awake and start playing around with it.

Cons for Cats: While cats will amuse themselves with simple things, you’ll have a hard time getting them to learn any tricks. Or going for walks. Or playing with things that are not strings or string equivalents. Oh well!

Conclusion: Two different styles of fun are at work here. Dogs are more willing to learn and play with their owner, and that’s fun. Cats on the other-hand, are more willing to amuse themselves, which is fun for the owner to watch.

Cost – How Much Will These Pet Dogs and Cats Cost Me?

Dogs: The average cost of a dog varies and is usually dependent on their size. Bigger dogs such as German Shepherds will require more food to eat, while smaller puppies like a Maltipoo need much less. The more food you buy, the costlier it becomes. Other dog expenses might include flea medications, chewing toys, cord covers to protect electrical wiring, and a new shiny pair of shoes if they get chewed up! If your dog is not potty trained for the outdoors, pee pads can cost money as well.

Cats: Cat expenses include dry food, flea medications, litter boxes plus litter (unless you let the cat outside all the time), and possibly hairball medication if they struggle getting a hairball up. Cats most often than not don’t have trouble with hairballs because dry foods have a specific ingredient to help lubricate the hair. Also, don’t forget scratching posts for the cats to scratch, the posts cost substantially less than the furniture!

Conclusion: Both cats and dogs require money to take care of, is anyone surprised? Dogs may cost more if you get a bigger breed.

There you go! Those are the positives and negatives for owning a pet dog or cat. They each come with their own unique set of problems, but if you are able to look past them and pick a pet that has a personality that closely matches your own, I think it’s a decision you won’t regret making.

When Cats Saved Mankind

Cats and mankind have been living in harmony for many years but that has not always been the case. There have been times when cats have been nearly wiped out in the name of God. And what happened the Black Death reigned supreme for a lot longer than it should. So we will go back to the beginnings of recorded history to the time of the pharaohs of Egypt. Here cats were revered as Gods and many were mummified to last for eternity. Because the cats guarded the grain warehouses and killed the rats and mice that fed on the grain. Therefore reducing famines, that were the curse of Egypt. It was illegal to kill cats in those days, like cows in India today.

Then the nine lives of the humble cat who only wanted to help mankind by killing rodents that carried disease took a serious turn for the worse during the middle ages. Where witch hunts and burning at the stake were the norm. Someone who didn’t like cats somehow connected them to witches and they were burnt at the stake with there owners. How they made that connection I’ll never know. It started off with Pope Gregory IX in the 1232 who deemed the common house cat as diabolical. Then to make matters worse in1484 along came the greatest cat killer of all time, Pope Innocent VIII, who decreed something along the lines of all cats came from hell and should returned to the fires of hell by fire. Cats were mercilessly prosecuted and were burnt so they would return to the fires of hell. It is amazing any survived because if you were caught with a cat you were burnt together. I still go to church and sometimes I just wonder why. And of course the Black Death was in the background surviving and thriving because there were no cats to kill the rats that carried the fleas that caused the disease. Then along came the cat’s savior King Louis XIII of France, who in the 1630s repealed the law and cats once again started to live. But they were still hated and killed for many centuries after that. I don’t know if the Black Death subsided but cats once again protected mankind against the diseases carried by rodents. And the famines brought on by mice plagues.

Cats actually carry a few parasites, a few fleas and some diseases and a few can turn serious but not many. If cats were causing too much sickness they would not have invaded our lives as well as they have. But there are still people out there who do not like cats. When I first went to China about 20 years ago there were very few cats living with people and very few wild cats. I was amazed because I’ve had cats all my life and I never thought people didn’t like cats. But then in China the people said cats carried disease and that was it. I think that might have something to do with that cat sick you get in your eye. Not serious just a slight problem for a week And if you were pregnant you had to keep away from cats. I think they were referring to toxoplasmosis, but if you get that when you are a kid it should not affect your baby. They also said cats were dirty but I don’t think so. I think cats are one of the cleanest pets you can have. I think that came from the cats killing the rats and mice. Because rats are very dirty animals then because the cats killed and ate them they will also be dirty. A dirty by connection type of thing. Also there were some big sewer rats running round during the day. Once I saw a rat and a cat face off each other and the cat wasn’t much bigger than the rat. They were about a foot apart staring each other out and the cat ran away. I’m not surprised the rat’s teeth were bigger that the cats.

I think one of the reasons there were not many cats around is because they used to eat them. And every now and then the restaurant cat catches would pick up an cat they could find and take them back to the restaurant. I remember seeing cats in glass displays out the front of the restaurants. But somewhere between then and now they banned eating cats. So cats are now not on the menu and now there are cats everywhere. Most of them started off in someone’s house and got thrown away, as most are very friendly. Also they have this thing about stomach worms. And in those days China was not as modern as now so stomach worms would have been a problem. Fleas are not really a problem because they have tile floors and wooden furniture.

If this attitude towards cats goes back generations then one can understand why historians say the Black Death started in China. Where there are rats and no cats then the rats dominate and that would have been a precursor for the disease to get close to people. Now when I go back to China there are still rats running around but not so many in the housing estates. There are many down by the river. Also they have a very efficient rubbish clean up system that keeps the cities very clean. Where I stay the rubbish is collected everyday. That would also keep the rat population down. And with so many discarded cats running around the rats don’t have much of a chance. I’ve never seen this but I suspect the government picks up a lot of cats. There used to be colonies of stray cats living in some places but now I don’t see them any more.

Now cats have once more retained the spot on the sofa and any mouse or rat that comes inside better beware. Well I hope so except our cat was rubbing noses with a rat once. I thought he was going to get his nose bitten but he didn’t. I think just the smell of the cat keeps most rodent away. There are diseases out there that are carried by rodents and some are very deadly like the hanta virus and the plague or black death. If any of these deadly diseases turn the cat into a host then it will be goodbye cats and possibly goodbye us. But until that happens we should keep on loving our cats. And if there is ever a population explosion of the rodents who carry the hanta virus then humble cat might be our last hope. There is no vaccine and no cure for the hanta virus.

Miracle Mussi, the Cat, Survives Two Months Locked

Mussi, my beloved tabby from South Chicago, did not return from his nightly outing! At first, I thought he was just extending his nightly trip for a few hours, but Mussi remained gone until after midnight. I started searching the neighborhood over and over, calling his name. After hours of fruitless search activities, I gave up and went to bed. I tossed and turned restlessly until the following morning. Early in the morning, I got up and combed the neighborhood again. I extended the search area a few blocks, puzzled at the situation. I kept calling his name “Muuussssiiii!” Nothing! Where could he be?

On no occasion had Mussi ventured far from the house in the past. In seven years, he’d never disappeared like this. Our silent agreement entailed him checking in with me every 30 minutes or so. He had always been sticking to it. So, what happened all of a sudden? My mind played out the worst horror scenarios. Was he locked in some dark basement? Kidnapped? Run over? Chased away by other cats, or worse, dogs? I felt so desperate that I could not think straight. I was way too depressed and anxious.

I alarmed my family and friends, who were at a loss for words. Everyone loved Mussi and knew him as the most intuitive, smart, gentle tiger from Chicago. They felt sorry for me, as I was still reeling from pain due to another crisis and certainly had enough sorrows. After many more searches, I decided to get help. I asked my sister to contact a woman she calls “witch”, her intuitive friend, healer and animal communicator for advice. This woman tuned in and felt that Mussi was slightly injured and hiding in a basement somewhere. She did not feel that he was locked in, but simply hiding out. She said that she would send him energy and guide him home.

No cat appeared. I checked the basements I could get access to and informed the neighbors to do the same. My frustration grew with every passing hour. I scanned the entire area, again and again. Where could this cat be? A neighbor and I checked two buildings’ ground floors and garages for a cat sign, to no avail. Instead, she introduced me to her cats, who I greeted suspiciously. They looked guilty and could have been involved in chasing Mussi away. Everyone was a suspect at this point. Even the other two black cats from the neighbor straight across seemed to paw around shiftily. I clearly needed sleep!

I started tagging the entire district and beyond with “Desperately Seeking Mussi” posters. The initial batch I put up two days after Mussi’s disappearance, covering several blocks. The densely populated area did not make the choices for flyer placement and neighbor conversations any easier. There were simply too many places where Mussi could be hiding, it was making me dizzy. So, I put flyers on any suitable spot; on buildings, doors, lamp posts, garage doors, garbage bins, you name it – Mussi posters went up! Within days, everyone in the area knew my cat was missing.

As the desperation grew, I decided to talk to one of my friends in LA about an animal communicator she had used years back when her cat was missing. She could not remember the name of the lady in Seattle, so I googled on my own. I found her and sent an emergency request. I guess the animal psychic grasped the severity of the situation. She called me back the same day, after I transferred a bit over a hundred bucks to her PayPal. The information she apparently obtained from Mussi was that he went down an alley way, across a field and then crawled into a hole. He seemed to find the inside of the new territory interesting and decided to hang out for a while. This sounded totally unlike Mussi. She claimed that he wasn’t locked in and could potentially get out on his own. She further mentioned that the building was near my house and that we would be reunited one day.

I continued to put more posters up in the neighborhood and ask around. A guy called from a few blocks away, claiming that he had spotted Mussi in his yard. I drove down there instantly, but the cat, of course, was gone. I checked the area, but there was no hint of Mussi.

I expanded the poster and search area a few more blocks. I tagged the post office, the outside of stores, pretty much all lamp posts in the area, bus and train stations. It was cold out. Deep winter had arrived. It did not make Mussi’s survival or my search any easier. Many ol’ nights I froze my fingers off, posting flyers. I did not want to imagine what the cold spell meant for Mussi, wherever he was. I could not bear the thought of Mussi freezing to death somewhere out there in midwinter.

My phone really starting ringing now. I received calls from numerous people, claiming they spotted Mussi in the cemetery, close to a bus station and sitting on a trail and under a car. However, none was able to either snap a picture or catch the cat. As I was at work, it was not always feasible for me to drop everything and follow vague leads.

Then, one Saturday, I got a call from a French lady who found and held a grey tabby captive. She snapped a picture and sent it. I was on a horse when I got the call, about an hour away. I hurried back as the somewhat blurry picture could have been Mussi. An hour later, I found the French lady in the described area, with four children and a cat gathered around her. Deeply impressed at her determination and persistence, I thanked her immensely for trying to help. Unfortunately, the captured cat was not Mussi and could get released.

It had been way over a week now and still no cat. He was my precious baby, who moved from Chicago to Zurich with me, three and a half years ago. He loved Switzerland as he could venture outside, which was not feasible downtown Chicago. All my life I’ve had cats, but none as special as Mussi. I was deeply connected to him and loved him from the bottom of my heart. Mussi to me resembled a cat embodiment of Mother Teresa. I knew he was alive, but I simply was unable to fathom where. I missed his cuddling up to me every night, his comfort when I was not feeling well and the many different faces and sounds of Mussi.

Where was he? I knew he would have never left on his own. Increasingly, I started to suspect he was abducted. Or did he attempt to go back to his old house where we lived until a few months prior, and got lost on the way there? I had alerted the ex-neighbors and skimmed the area. Nobody had seen Mussi there. The old neighbors, who used to watch Mussi, were on constant lookout for him. I knew they’d do a great job, but I tagged the entire area with Mussi flyers.

I got a call from an energy healer who lived near my old house. She said she spotted my flyer and just a few minutes after spotted a cat that looked like a spitting image of Mussi. She swore it was him. Her intuition, she said, never lied. So, I drove down there to see if I could still see traces of my cat, but there was nothing.

Despite all the Mussi search activities that had been ongoing for two weeks, I decided to go snowboarding for a couple of days. I needed to get away. I was going insane. On my way home Sunday night from the mountains, I got a call from my cosmetologist who lived near my old house. Her voice was frantic as she screeched something about having caught my cat and that I should show up right away to pick him up. I drove down to her house, still dressed in snowboard pants. Indeed, she was sitting in front of a tabby, but it wasn’t Mussi. However, that cat was clearly lost and confused and looking for his home. A beautiful kitty this guy was and I felt sorry for him. Adrienne said, “Just take him instead or yours!” Sorry, but there was no quick replacement for Mussi! It broke my heart to see this cat hysterically searching for his home. So, I told Adrienne that if nobody else takes him in the coming days, I would, temporarily anyway! Luckily, a neighbor was kind enough to give him shelter a few days later.

I had also reported Mussi missing with petlink.com, the chip company, hoping that a finder would take him to a vet or hospital where he would get scanned and reported to me. Further, I advised animal clinics and vets in the area about the missing Mussi. Online, I had posted missing Mussi ads on various lost pet sites.

I started receiving emails from people who identified with my pain and tried to give advice. Some mentioned to intensify the search after midnight, others insisted I should not give up hope as they had lost their cats for up to a year and then got reunited. One person even offered to come help search at night or in the wee hours.

A lady from about five blocks away called saying “Don’t tell anyone, but I feed the foxes at night.” I said that I would not utter a word and that she should continue. It seems that the past few nights, a cat had shared the fox’s chicken leg she dropped outside her window. In fact, the cat was faster than the fox and got its share early on. The lady insisted that the fox food thief was my cat. I agreed to check up on it. She promised to call the same night right after dropping the chicken outside. She did. I immediately left my house to see the scene for myself. And really, a cat showed up just five minutes after the chicken was out to feast on it. But it wasn’t my kitty – again! But now I was an insider of the fox feeding conspiracy!

I contacted another animal communicator somewhere in Nevada. She tuned in and dowsed the map of my surrounding area. She claimed a neighbor was holding Mussi hostage and that I should launch an attack on that house. She was sure. I got binoculars, sat myself in a bush at night and ogled the area. No cat. I even put fliers in all mailboxes belonging to that building, rang a few doorbells and asked, but nothing.

More calls were coming my way. A clerk who worked in a nearby company reported “Oh, your tomcat has been visiting us here for weeks. I will send you a picture.” I did receive the photo. A nice, totally happy tabby stretched out on his desk. While he looked similar, it was not Mussi. I thanked him and felt he was glad that the long tiger wasn’t my cat. He seemed to love this tabby visiting him in the afternoon for playtime.

I decided to push my luck and contacted Joseph McMoneagle, a super famous remote viewer, who worked for the US Army for twenty years, remote viewing and finding top secret military buildings, equipment and people. After his stint in the Army, he became famous remote viewing for corporations or live on Japanese TV. Joe had written several bestsellers on the topic and was the rock star in the field of “psychic spy” work. I met Joe a few times in Virginia and decided to ask for help. A regular session with him usually cost thousands of dollars, but he was kind enough to supply a drawing with indications about the cat’s whereabouts. I surveyed the specified area, but could not find anything that looked like Mussi. I put up more flyers in the pointed out area, which led to a few calls of cat sightings, but nothing serious. A cat as a target appears a lot harder than a human or a machine.

The cat who stretched out on the clerk’s desk got reported to me again by a local football club member. He called and said “I found your cat and am holding him in our clubhouse.” I ran down there and saw the same tabby stretched out on the floor, watching football with the dudes. What a funny sight it was. This cat seriously got around. I thanked them for the effort and left, dejected. It had been almost four weeks now and I started to lose hope.

That famous tabby got reported a third time by a nice woman about a mile away from my house. He had invaded her balcony and gave sinister stares at her indoor kitty.

But where in the world was my tabby?

Then, I got a call from many blocks away in the middle of the night one Friday. A couple had captured a tabby, sent a blurry picture that left too much room for interpretation. So, again, I drove down there to check and of course, it wasn’t Mussi. But I had to follow these leads just to make sure.

Another neighbor, an old lady, called me twice to pledge allegiance and promised to turn over every rock in the neighborhood. She had spotted tabbies and just needed a color picture to confirm which one was mine. I happily supplied her with a picture. The lady was retired and had all day to skim the vicinity. Unfortunately, she never reported the “right” tabby.

By now, the entire neighborhood was involved in the search and people really got talking. The community became a real community again because of Mussi. Everyone was on a mission to recover the sweet little furry creature.

I hired another highly recommended animal communicator. What did I have to lose? His results left me unimpressed. He pointed out a tree-covered park-like area and insisted the cat was hiding there. The homes right behind that area appeared to be another target for him. Long ago, I had tagged flyers all over that area. However, I ventured down there again to check and found Mussi-like fur on a field. It looked like a cat-fox fight had taken place. My heart sank to the ground. I thought, of course, the fox took and devoured him. My mom agreed with my suspicion. But who really knew? Sure thing was – this animal communicator made another 175USD of me – for nothing.

Another “pet detective” from Los Angeles, who works on a donation basis, suggested Mussi to be near that same area. As she apparently combines her common cat search sense with psychic intuition, she recommended to sit near that area with a book, as cats supposedly come out when one is quiet and reading. While this may work for other cats, I knew Mussi would come immediately if he did spot me. She further recommended to put out “fish trails” from various directions to my house. Supposedly, a few of her clients got their missing cats back with this tactic. As I left no stone unturned, I mixed up cat food with fish sauce and trailed it from numerous directions to my deck. After a while, I spotted several confused cats sitting on or near the trail and enjoyed quite a few cat visitors on my deck. The perplexed cats stared at me in disbelief. They seemed to ask, “Are you insane?” Well, was I? I started to believe myself that I’d gone over the edge.

A young woman named Kerstin contacted me (she saw my posters) and insisted she’d help me in my search. So, one Sunday she came to my house and we once again, scanned the entire area. Once more, we came back empty-handed. She volunteered to print colored Mussi pictures and hand them out in the neighborhood (my flyers were black and white). She further offered to help me further in my quest and stayed in touch. I really appreciated the help and got more and more amazed about the community and the remarkable people in it.

Mussi had been missing for a month and a half now and my hope for successful recovery sank to rock-bottom levels. Which cat would survive for this long out there in the cold or locked in somewhere?

While I was still getting calls from people who spotted tigers under cars, crossing the road or invading their balconies, I knew none of these were Mussi. He was elsewhere. Perhaps, he was far away, locked in a prison or dead. I had a bleak picture in front of my eyes. Yet, somehow, I still felt him alive, but barely.

Beginning of April, I felt the need to get away from it all and joined a four-day Tibetan Buddhist meditation up in the Alps. The theme fittingly was “Purification” – just what the doctor ordered. I bathed in the marvelous energy and was able to get really deep into meditation and cleanse quite a few impurities out of my system. I felt like a load was lifted off my shoulders after four days and with renewed energy I went home. Before I left there, a friend mentioned “Now, Susanne, I would be surprised if your cat reappeared as your karma has completely changed.”

She was right. Before midnight, less than week after the meditation, on April 11, 2013, I received an email from petlink, reporting Mussi had been found. I thought it was a joke. I contacted them immediately and got information where and who to contact for further data. He got scanned by the animal hospital in Zurich! I was amazed at this outstanding service. At the same time, I got a call from a neighbor, very early on that infamous Friday morning, telling me about a half-dead cat she found that night.

The nice woman, named Nathalie, breathlessly told a story about how she found Mussi, who appeared to be paralyzed, totally starved and dropped in front of her garage. Someone must have put him there and set some milk in a bowl next to him. She said she did not know what to do at first, but immediately googled for options on cat rescue services. She called one of the numbers she found and within an hour, the animal rescue service “Tierrettungsdienst” showed up to take the seriously emaciated cat to the animal hospital. Before they came, Nathalie walked up to one of my flyers to get Mussi’s name. She then went back to him and called him “Mussi.” He responded with a weak, desperate “meow.” She had never seen an animal in such bad shape before, unable to coordinate his limbs, yet still alive. She stayed and talked to him for over an hour until the rescuers showed up to take him to the animal hospital in Zurich (Tierspital Zurich).

All I could do after I heard this story is cry and frantically make my way to the hospital. The grim description of my cat’s condition left me with little hope to find him alive. Tears gushed down my cheeks, I was unable to control any of it. I called my family to share the news. They could not grasp that Mussi was alive. They were in complete and utter shock. At the hospital, Mussi was reported as a “homeless cat”, but not for long. I both dreaded and longed to see him. I was expecting the worst. Then they brought him in. He had spent the night at the ICU and just got released. Here he was. Just a bag of bones, unable to coordinate any movements, totally emaciated, still panicked – a heart wrenching sight. My heart ached. I cried relentlessly. But Mussi recognized me. He meowed and tried to lift his head. The fact that he was released from the ICU meant that he would most likely live as an assistant “illegally” told me! The vets, however, were careful in giving me complete reassurance, but mentioned the chances for his survival were good. I could not believe it – he would live!

Thanks to a nice neighbor, petlink.com, the animal rescue service, my 200 flyers that I posted, and the animal hospital, Mussi was alive and we were reunited.

But immediately, questions creeped into my head. What would his future look like? And where had he been? Could he recover from this?

According to Nathalie, who found Mussi, a locked in, meowing cat would have been detected in her building. People passed the storage areas in the basement on their way up to the apartments. Frightened meows would have been heard. Was Mussi locked inside another building? Did he crawl to this garage with his last strength after finally having been released? Perhaps, we will never know.

Nevertheless, he must have got water from somewhere, as otherwise, survival would have been impossible. Perhaps, he licked dew or rainwater was able to enter his prison? For certain, he’d had no food for two months, judging by his gaunt state. Two months!!

His legs were bandaged up, an IV fed fluids and much needed vitamins into his veins. I sat there stunned, staring at not even half the cat Mussi used to be. I still could not believe he was back and alive. It took me a few days to grasp that. For quite a while I suffered from nightmares about the starvation camp he was locked in. Although, I was overjoyed about his return, the pictures of his prison took a while to fade.

The vets and staff at the university animal hospital in Zurich gave Mussi the best care! They were fantastic! Mussi even received daily physical therapy to get his muscles and nerves working again. And he wanted to live! That was the most important ingredient. And he was loved and received healings from many friends and family on a daily basis.

The worst problem was his severe deficiency in Thiamine, an essential B vitamin for cats. Depletion of such causes ataxia (loss or coordination), seizures, inability to raise the head and twitching. Mussi suffered from all the above. B1 or Thiamine is not stored in a cat’s body and is quickly depleted. Two months of starvation led to severe B1 deficiency. The drip would help, but it took time.

Vets and staff shook their heads in disbelief about Mussi’s survival. They were stunned at the strength and willpower of this cat. They had to admit that they had never seen a case like him before.

I visited the American patient every day in the hospital. For five days, he was too apathetic and exhausted to notice much around him. He just slept. Any efforts on his part to try and move resulted in seizure-like attacks, which left him frustrated.

Many, many friends, energy and Pranic healers, Reiki masters kept sending Mussi healing energy and in doing so sped up his recovery. These remarkable people had helped in the search for Mussi all along. Perhaps, it is these miracle workers who helped Mussi survive for two months in a dark basement? May be the Pranic energy kept him alive as we kept sending it all that time he was missing too. I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped and supported the search and recovery, in spirit, mentally, physically or energetically.

After one week, Mussi’s lethargy lifted a bit, and so did his head. He was able to bend the head from side to side and his eyes followed me slowly but curiously. Another day after, Mussi got up on his shaven (to insert the IV), skinny legs and pressed his behind against my scratching hand. “Wow!” I cried out in amazement. Mussi was back!

Before Getting a New Kitten

Before getting a new kitten or cat, one of the things to ask yourself is: Can I properly care for a cat and provide a stable, safe home for its lifetime which is typically about 15 – 20 years? Many statistics show that as much as 50 percent of all cats change owners at least once in their lifetime. This is an appalling and alarming statistic.

Can I Afford A Cat?

The initial purchase price (or adoption fee) of a cat is not the most expensive cost as there will be many other costs over the cat’s lifetime. Those costs include food, litter pans, litter, toys, scratching posts and/or cat trees, and veterinary care. Veterinary care (without taking into consideration any catastrophic health problems) will run about $100 – $300 per year. Preventive and consistent care is vitally important to any cat’s overall health. If an owner cannot afford veterinary care, it is probably a good idea not to get a cat. Additionally, depending on where an owner lives, there will be a one-time fee of anywhere from $70 – $500 for the cost of getting the cat spay or neutered. Even if the cat is an indoor only cat, it recommended that it have all of its vaccinations, including rabies (a rabies vaccination are legally required in many cities and/or states for cats and dogs), and depending on where you live, there may be other medications that are strongly recommended by the veterinarian on a yearly basis (such as a heartworm preventative medicine). Many people believe that because their cat is an indoor cat, it does not need a rabies vaccination. However, consider what would happen to you and/or your cat if it bit someone while they were in your home? First of all, the authorities will most likely remove the cat from your home and quarantine it for a period of time (at cost to you for boarding and care); if on the off chance your cat shows signs of rabies it will be destroyed. It is highly recommended that a potential owner check with their veterinarian to find out what vaccinations are required by law.

What Breed of Cat?

All kittens are cute and most people fall in love with a cat or kitten because of its look (the cuddlebility factor). Some people prefer a pedigreed cat because of certain breed characteristics while others prefer a mixed breed cat. If desiring a pedigreed cat, careful consideration should be given as to the breed characteristics of that breed. For example: how much grooming will the cat require, how much will it shed, how playful or active is the breed, how big will the cat get? Are you looking for a cat that gets along well with small children or elderly people? Do you need a cat that gets along with your dog? Do you desire a cat that is calm and loves to cuddle and will sleep with you at night? These are just a few of the things to consider before bringing a cat home.

Should You Get a Kitten or an Adult Cat?

Many people, when considering whether or not to get a cat, will only consider getting a kitten. Here are a few reasons why an adult cat may be desirable:

  • An adult cat has already developed its personality so you will know exactly what you are getting;
  • An adult cat is already litter box trained;
  • An adult cat should only need yearly examinations and vaccinations (instead of a series of vaccinations that a kitten will require in the first 6 months);
  • An adult cat has already gone through its “teenager” phase;
  • An adult cat can “bond” just as well as a kitten with a new owner.

Where to Get a Cat?

Animal Shelters – While many shelters are no-kill, most are not. Getting a cat or kitten from an animal shelter may well save it from being put to death. Typically, you should look for a cat that looks clean, healthy, with a shiny coat and clear eyes. Ask to visit with the kitten or cat in a private area to see how it will interact with you. How friendly is it? If the kitten or cat appears lethargic, it may be best to look at another one as this one may be sick. Ask the actual caregivers of the cat or kitten for any information they may have on it. Ask why the cat was surrendered to the shelter. Keep in mind that many people do not always tell the truth to shelter personnel when they surrender their pet. So, sometimes the shelter may not be aware that this cat or kitten may have undesirable behavioral traits (i.e., not using its litter box) or have some type of major health concern which may shortly require a very high veterinarian bill. Many shelters will have already spayed or neutered the cat or kitten prior to its going to a new home. If not, they will generally require that you do so within a certain time period. Do not over-look the adult cats.

Responsible Breeders – If you are looking for a purebred/pedigreed cat or kitten, it is best to locate a responsible breeder. To find such a person:

  • Visit a local cat show which is a great way to see the different breeds of cats, meet breeders, and ask questions.
  • The Cat Fanciers Association (“CFA”) has an on-line breeder referral list which can be searched by breed, location, and other search options. (Please Note: the CFA does not endorse or recommend any particular breeder or cattery on the list.)
  • Nowadays, there are many show breeders, as well as hobby breeders, that have web sites. To locate a breeder in a particular area via the internet, use a search engine (i.e., yahoo, Google, etc.) and type in the particular cat breed and the state you reside to get results for breeders in your particular state or locale. Some breeders advertise in Cat Fancy or other such publications.

Responsible breeders will have (at a bare minimum) a written health/genetic guarantee, provide a starter kit that goes home with the kitten or cat (containing the type of food it has been eating, feeding instructions, breed information), have some provision for (or already had it performed) the spay/neuter of the kitten or cat, provide documentation of pedigree, parentage, and vaccination records. When interviewing a breeder, listen to your intuition; if anything feels “off” about a breeder, do NOT get one of their kittens. If this happens, it is recommended that you seek out and interview another breeder. Remember, a responsible breeder will want to interview you and get to know you as a potential owner as much as you may want to interview them.

Pet Stores – A responsible breeder would not allow their kittens to be sold in a pet store or other re-sale outlet where they could not personally interview the buyer to make sure they are aware of the responsibility of caring for an animal. Most responsible breeders belong to breed clubs and sign a breeder’s code of ethics which prohibits them from selling to retail outlets (pet stores). More often than not, the puppies and kittens for sale in a retail outlet are from commercial, “puppy” mill type operations. Some stores (i.e., Petco, etc.) do have cats for adoption through a local animal shelter but are not actively involved in the resale of cats and dogs. If getting a shelter pet through this type of adoption process, make sure that the adoption procedures comply with that shelter’s normal adoption process.

Private Sources – Sometimes, if an owner can no longer keep their adult cat, they may place an ad through a local newspaper, grocery store bulletin board or veterinarian’s office. As long as you can meet the person, observe the cat in its home environment, and make sure the cat is healthy, there is no reason not to get a cat this way. If it is a kitten, make sure it is at least 12 weeks of age, is properly litter box trained, had age-appropriate vaccinations/wormings, and appears healthy. (Warning: responsible breeders would not advertise this way nor use Craigslist or something similar).

Getting a cat is a lifelong commitment of not only an owner’s time, but their money in order to keep them in food, toys, and proper health. If the on-going cost of keeping a cat beyond the initial cost of it (i.e., veterinarian, vaccinations, cost of spay/neuter, unforeseen health issues/costs and more), then perhaps it is not the time to get a pet.

Why We Love Cats

Dr. Murray Bowen invented what has come to be known as “Bowen Theory” or Family Systems Theory. Dr. Rabbi Friedman put Bowen’s theory to work for rabbis, pastors and other religious professions in Generation to Generation and his posthumous work Failure of Nerve.

This theory of family behavior is based on several key concepts about why people act like they do in groups, not based on mechanistic roles but on how people in groups act emotionally. This theory thinks in terms of emotional processes and not in hierarchies or intellectual terms.

This article examines why most people love cats as a means to explain several of the main ideas in Murray Bowen’s theory of Family and Societal Systems.

We irrationally love cats–those of us who do. Those who hate cats hate them irrationally. Why all the emotions about cats? Because they expose the truth about human emotional systems by introducing catlike emotional behavior!

The cat, any cat, introduced into the human emotional system, will cause the human emotional system to rearrange. Not because the cat does anything but because of how the cat is emotionally.

1. Cats Tend to Be Emotionally Self-Differentiated

Self-differentiation is the goal and high water mark of maturity for the Bowen Theory. Cats have it.

They know what they like. They know who they like. They know what they will and will not do and refuse to be trained. They have no desire to win approval but seek emotional support (petting) when they want it and from whom they want it.

Most humans call this independence or detachment. It is really the position of self-differentiation to which we all aspire. We admire cats for being able to be aloof and standoffish. What we truly admire is their ability to shamelessly self-differentiate.

Those who hate cats most likely are uncomfortable with others who refuse to participate in emotional hubbub in the human system too.

2. Cats Do Not Accept Anxiety from Others

When there is “drama” between humans, cats usually run off or keep out of the fray by hissing and going into fend-off defensive mode until they can escape. Cats refuse to accept anxiety from others.

They may choose to purr around you when you are upset, but that, we all know, is pure coincidence. Cats take care of their own emotional distress. They do not ask for help. They fight their own fights and never seek to recruit the “gang” or “herd” effect as humans do.

3. Cats Have Learned a Perfect Balance Between Closeness and Distance

Cats never become so attached that they cannot do without you but never so distant they don’t look for you after you have been gone a while.

They have found the perfect balance of distance and closeness that humans rarely find. Most humans become so close to each other they fuse either by loving or fighting. Or humans distance from each other in response to anxiety thus keeping the fusion on a distance level.

Not cats.

If you are gone a year or an hour it makes no difference. They will react the same to your return in predictable patterns. The longer you are gone the less they may react upon your return.

Most humans respect the boundaries of a cat much more than the emotional boundaries of other humans!

4. Cats Are Distant but Connected

They never “leave” the system. They do their own thing and then, suddenly, it seems, they will arrive into the emotional system with purring and a desire to be petted on their own terms. Try to coax them and you will only get disdain and disinterest. Try to stop them when they WANT strokes and you will have to get out a broom.

5. Cats Learn This Behavior From Parents

While kittens, they show no self-differentiation except when they will pitilessly shove the runt out of the way to get the last suck of milk even though the runt may be starving to death.

Cats are social animals like humans, but even the mother is self-differentiated. She feeds when she feels like it and defends the litter if she is in the mood.

Humans are fascinated by this closeness/distance balance but we admire it too.

The kittens learn it from their parents. The father stands off to the side as a sometimes protector of the litter and the mother attends the little ones without asking a thing more from the father.

If a kitten acts up, the mother never threatens the kittens with the return or retribution of the father: she does the swatting herself.

6. Cats May Feel Anxiety During Times of Change but They Handle Their Own – They Do Not Triangle

In Bowen’s theory, humans always triangle. We cannot handle the common anxieties of life and so we seek out someone to share our anxiety. The anxiety producer–whether it is a situation or a person or a pressure–is always the third person in the triangle.

Cats do NOT do this. They handle their own anxiety like the elder leader of a lion Pride. When the young lion challenges the Pride leader the leader may put up a ceremonial fight but handles the anxiety. He does not seek to share the anxiety with anyone. He goes off into the distance and watches the Pride move on without him.

Humans admire this and fear it at the same time. Someone who is self-differentiated is frightening to those who are not. The reason for this is because humans tend to be a herding species, especially when there is change or upset in the “normal” way anxiety is handled in the system.

7. Cats Feed on Herds They Never Form Herds

Cats eat from panicked herds. They do not form herds. They form Prides. Even the name suggests independence and positive attributes.

When humans experience anxiety, they tend to herd together to expel the anxiety by attacking it or running from it instead of dealing with it.

For instance, think of the distasteful images on the television documentaries of lions eating water buffalo or gazelles. Notice, if the herd suddenly turned on the cats, the cats would lose. Even if several, maybe just a handful, of the thousands-of-pounds beasts turned on the cats, the limber but vulnerable-to-stomping cats would flee in panic.

Herds “group think” and panic. They run from anxiety or mindlessly attack each other trying to find the panic-making culprit, but they rarely attack the real predator which has been stalking them for days.

They fail to see the real danger: the cat in the room.

8. Cats Can Switch Prides Based on Their Own Self-Interest

Cats can go from owner to owner, Pride to Pride, without loss of self-differentiation. Give a cat away and it will adapt immediately to the new situation because it was not emotionally fused with the last one!

Humans may experience this as selfishness on the part of the cat or self-absorption. In fact, it is adroit emotional adaptation. Some cats will leave one household and adopt another with seemingly no regrets if the new situation is in the best interest of the cat. And the cat knows.

Selfishness and self-differentiation are not the same and cats seem to understand this. Cats are not selfish. They share when they decide to share. They show affection when they want to and not when they ought to.

They don’t NEED humans. They can hunt if they have to. If they do choose to hunt, they generally bring the poor beast to their humans to supplement the foodstuffs the humans gather from God knows where.

9. Cats Can Act Like Kittens if They Feel Like It

Cats can, delightfully, from time to time suddenly act like a kitten! –Playing with balls and dancing after laser lights moving from a human penlight. Cats can regress when they feel playful or curious.

This ability to regress is not emotional weakness but the willingness to be emotionally open when they feel like it. There is the key: when they feel like it.

Their unpredictability is delightful to most humans. Some humans hate cats. They aren’t needy enough. They don’t fuse. They are worthless anxiety receptors. An angry human may kick a dog and the dog will cower. Kick a cat and see what happens. They will not share your anxiety.

Conclusion:

These are only a few reasons why humans love cats. They reflect the emotional health described in Bowen’s Family System Theory and this causes a great division among humans.

Some hate cats for the same reason some people dislike self-differentiated people. Like a cat, a self-differentiated person cannot be emotionally manipulated, does not fall easily into triangulation, and seems uncaring and selfish to someone who is begging for a partner in anxiety.

Some humans hate this.

They want herd members who will feel sorry for them, spread the anxiety, start a panic and head off in attack or flight from an unseen and unknown enemy.

The sad truth is that self-differentiated people tend to hang together and watch from a distance the weird behaviors of the herds below. Emotionally non-self-differentiated people tend to hang together too. They tend to herd together, serve the anxieties of the weakest members of the herd, and seek togetherness and agreement over anything else.

Understanding Your Cat’s Food Diet

The Essential Guide to Cat Food diets: What you need to know

When admiring our serenely sleeping cats curled up cosily at the end of the bed it’s hard to rationalise that these beautiful elegant creatures who have become affectionate companions and confidants over the years are in reality lean, mean killing machines when it comes to their eating habits.

For most cat owners, the fact that we are actually harbouring a skilled assassin is something we would rather turn a blind eye to. However, the impressive features of a natural born predator are hard to deny; strong agile bodies with lightning reflexes, stealthy silent gait, razor sharp claws, long canine teeth, excellent night vision, highly attuned hearing and a superior sense of smell.

Acknowledging the glaringly obvious truth about these unique creatures we share our lives with is fundamental to understanding all aspects of their healthcare. So why does this often get forgotten when it comes to the most essential of topics – cat food nutrition!

What are you feeding your cat?

Vet’s Klinic Clinical Director and veterinary practitioner, Jenny Philip BVMS MRCVS, knows the importance of giving your cat a science based natural balanced diet, which gives them the nutrients they need to thrive knows first-hand how deficient some commercially prepared cat food brands can be from a nutritional point of view.

Currently 70% of UK cat owners feed a commercially prepared diet to their cat, of which half feed a mix of wet and dry cat food; the other 30% of owners feed table scraps, raw meat based diets or allow their cats to eat live prey.

Raw and live prey animal cat food diets are potentially very biologically appropriate. However, at home prepared diets are notoriously difficult to balance correctly and can be time consuming and inconvenient for most. Worryingly, a recent study in the US found 84% of these home prepared diets are deficient in multiple nutrients.

Even so, some commercially prepared cat food diet recipes are just as inappropriate; they may well balance better on paper but it only takes a glance at the back of a packet of some of these commercial cat foods to highlight their inadequacies.

For example, take the two best market leading dry cat food brands; the analytical constituents (this is the ingredients in the cat food) read 30-32% protein, 10% fat and 7.5-8.5% ash. What the manufacturer doesn’t need to declare is the carbohydrate content. Most of these dry diets are over 40% carbohydrate and rely on the carbohydrate to create the kibble structure. So why is a high carbohydrate content in a cats diet a concern?

Are Cats Carnivore or Omnivore?

Cats do not need a high carbohydrate diet, in fact it goes against their biological makeup

Cats are biologically different to us; they are classified as obligate carnivores. If you are a ‘Carnivore’ you derive your energy and nutrients from a diet exclusively or mainly from animal tissue. If you are an ‘Obligate Carnivore’ you depend solely on animal tissue as opposed to a facultative carnivore that, in the absence of meat, can choose to use non-animal sources for their nutritional requirements. In contrast, humans are classed as omnivores, deriving their energy from a variety of food sources, and dogs are a topic of controversy and can be classified as either omnivore or facultative carnivores.

The domestic cat’s natural diet consists of small rodents and mammals. On average a prey item is 62% animal derived protein, 10% fat with 14% ash, which is mainly mineral content from bone (see the table below).

Prey Species – Crude Protein% – Fat% – Ash%

  • Mouse – 62 – 11 – 13
  • Rat – 63 – 9 – 14
  • Small Bird – 62 – 9 – 15

This protein rich diet has caused obligate carnivores to evolve with completely different biochemical pathways for processing food and metabolising nutrients when compared to other species we are familiar with such as dogs or ourselves.

Cats Need Protein for Energy, Not Carbohydrates!

The universal source of energy to all cells in any creature is glucose. For humans and dogs glucose is readily available from breaking down the carbohydrate in our diets. However, for carnivores their diet of fat and protein requires them to obtain glucose in a different way. Hence cats have well developed pathways to convert the building blocks of protein, amino acids, into a source of glucose. These pathways exist in humans and dogs but they are part of a collection of pathways to create energy that can be altered dependent on the type of food ingested. For cats, even when a cat has not consumed any protein, their body cells still demand a source of amino acids for energy and, in the absence of dietary protein, they have to start utilising existing body protein, i.e. muscle mass, to maintain normal cell function.

Cats naturally in the wild would consume a high amount of protein in their diet, 62% if they consume a mouse. Comparing this with the commercial diet at 30% it doesn’t take an expert nutritionist to identify a massive discrepancy within their diet!

Don’t All Commercial Cat Foods Contain Protein?

Technically, commercially prepared cat food products do contain protein, but not all protein is created equal. The other important question that needs to be considered is where the protein originates from. Protein in a diet can come from animal tissue but is also found in many vegetables and grains. The only way of determining the source of protein is by analysing the composition (ingredient) list on the back of the packet. The list is ordered by weight in descending order, so to satisfy a cat’s biological requirements, a source of meat-based protein should be first on the list. For the two diets in our example the first three ingredients read: cereals, animal and meat derivatives (10%), vegetable protein extracts. Therefore, the protein declared in these diets is largely derived from non-animal sources. Other than the obvious fact that we have never witnessed a cat with a desire to stalk vegetables, why does this matter?

Cats Need Animal Protein for Health Reasons.

It matters because, cats require specific amino acids and vitamins in their diet, which are essential for normal cell function; some of these can only be obtained naturally from animal tissue. Arginine, Taurine, Cysteine and Methionine are amino acids used in lots of important processes in mammals but cats have to rely on a dietary source making them essential; this is not the case in dogs and humans as they can synthesis these molecules from others. For cats this process is not efficient and their daily requirements are much higher, consequently they utilise them faster than they can be created. Deficiencies can cause serious disease, for example taurine deficiency can cause heart disease and blindness. Commercial diets have to follow strict guidelines to ensure that these molecules are present in adequate amounts and in cases where levels are inadequate, the cat will need to take an artificial supplement to ensure they receive the right level of thee important vitamins and minerals. Surely the more logical and natural approach is simply to feed what the cat naturally requires- meat based protein!

How many of us have seen a black cat that has a reddish brown tinge to their coat?

This is something that many of us may have observed in passing without realising but is a classic example of the effects that a diet deficient in meat can have. Tyrosine is an amino acid only found in animal tissue that cats can’t synthesise themselves. However, it is not a necessity for body function and therefore is not a regulated requirement to be supplemented in commercial diets. Tyrosine is a key component of the pathway that creates melanin, the black pigments responsible for their coat colour; so in a deficient state a black cat turns brown.

Where is your cat’s protein coming from?

Even when animal protein is included in a diet the majority comes from rendered sources. Rendered meat or more commonly named ‘meal’ comes from animal tissue that has been heated for a prolonged time at extreme temperatures and pressures to remove the fat. Rendered meat is on average only 75% digestible. This means that for every 10g of rendered meat consumed only 7.5g can be utilised by the body. When you compare this to some of the new technologies using fresh meat as an ingredient, with 96% digestibility, this protein source certainly looks to be a more favourable ingredient. Furthermore, the carbohydrate content in commercially prepared cat food diets affects digestibility; the higher the carbohydrate content the less digestible the protein. There are several factors contributing to this but predominately carbohydrates accelerate gut transit hence reducing the time available to digest protein in the diet.

More importantly on this topic, as illustrated by the figures above, a cats natural diet does not contain large amounts of carbohydrate, therefore cats have evolved with a reduced ability to process and utilise carbohydrates.

Too many carbohydrates in commercial cat food can cause obesity in cats.

Specific molecules called enzymes carry out the process of breaking down food. Different enzymes are responsible for breaking down different types of food. Amylase is an enzyme responsible for carbohydrate breakdown; this is present in saliva and is then also secreted by the pancreas gland in both dogs and humans. Cats possess no salivary amylase and have very limited levels of pancreatic amylase so have reduced capacity to deal with this type of food.

Cats can process carbohydrate to some extent and once broken down they can use simple sugars very efficiently, however, they have limited ability to store them for future use. In a dog or human excess sugar is stored in the liver as a large chain of sugars in a molecule called glycogen; this can be readily broken down if the animal suddenly needs a source of energy. A cat’s biochemical pathways are not efficient at storing sugars in this way, instead any excess sugars are stored by converting them directly to fat which in turn predisposes cats to weight gain. This process is slower and can lead to prolonged periods of hyperglycaemia after eating. Both obesity and prolonged hyperglycaemia are key factors thought to contribute to the development of cat diabetes. Obesity itself is one of the greatest and growing health issues we face with our domestic felines; it is now estimated to affect 30% of the cat population. We all have a responsibility to reduce this growing health concern and this starts with diet awareness.

Although feeding high carbohydrate and vegetable based diets is not going to cause cats any direct short term harm, it is hardly promoting better health and may well be predisposing them to problems long term. Nonetheless, commercially prepared dry cat food diets do provide a convenient way of feeding our cats and beneficially reduce tartar formation and the subsequent development of periodontal disease. Dental disease in cats is another key health problem in the feline population and one of the greatest risk factors of developing problems is feeding commercial wet food. Therefore dry diets should continue to play a role in feeding our feline companions.

Choosing the best diet for your cat.

Armed with the knowledge of a cat’s unique biochemistry we can select diets that are more aligned to their physiological needs by being savvy. Assessing food for its ingredients and nutritional break-down, rather than selecting one based on the most appealing cat on the pack, will help your cat’s long-term health and wellbeing. So when you’re next in the supermarket or pet store aisle considering what to buy, take the packet off the shelf and compare the backs of packs. Look for diets which have the first ingredient listed as a good animal based protein, ideally from a natural cat food that provides a fresh meat source, and compare the amount of protein, fat and ash.

We have focused here on dry diets as an example as they are easier to compare. Wet diets have large amounts of moisture in them, which varies between brands and makes comparison more challenging. The take home messages though are still the same; consider the quality of the ingredients and the sources of protein.

There are some great wheatfree cat food products available in the market and on online that provide a great source of protein and also ensure your cat has the essential nutrients they need to be healthy in the long-term.