Why spay or neuter my kitten?

Many people wonder about the necessity of spaying their female kittens or neutering their male kittens. There are many “pros” and few “cons” to spaying or neutering kittens and cats. I’ll explain some of the most frequently asked about here.

What is spaying or neutering?

Spaying females and neutering males is basically the de-sexing of the animal. Both procedures are performed surgically under anesthesia by veterinary professionals in sterile conditions.

The spay surgery is more invasive since the female reproductive organsremoved include the ovaries, fallopian tubes and the uterus. Spay surgery can last 30 minutes and kitty will likely spend one night in kitty recovery at the vet hospital. The neutering of males involves the removal of the testicles from the scrotal sac. His sugery can be done in about a minute, not counting anesthesia and recovery, but he will still probably stay overnight to insure his safe recovery.

What are the benefits of spaying or neutering?

There are multiple benefits to spaying or neutering pets. One of the most important is to help control the overpopulation of the pets, and dumping of unwanted animals. This is an all too common side effect of irresponsible pet ownership.

A second benefit of spaying and neutering is the treatment and prevention of hormone induced diseases, which most often involve cancers of the ovaries, uterus and testicles. Another disease that can be lessened or erased is insulin resistance or diabetes, which is exacerbated by the hormone progesterone. Many veterinarians recommend spay or neuter as treatment or management for this condition.

A third benefit from spaying and neutering is the control of destructive or aggressive behaviors also caused by hormones. Females in heat can begin biting and scratching their humans and showing aggression. Males may also display aggressive behavior but it manifests in different ways, such as marking (urinating) to claim territory or scratching the furniture in places he never did before.

Are there any disadvantages to spaying or neutering?

Although the benefits far outweigh the disadvantages there are some minor downsides of which you should be made aware. Since the metabolic rate of a de-sexed animal is lower than in intact animals their caloric needs are reduced. Many owners complain that their kitties show a marked weight gain in the months and years following surgery, and some people actually use this as an excuse NOT to spay or neuter. What they don’t realize is that by continuing to feed in the same way as prior to surgery they are contributing to the problem.

If you take this fact into consideration and feed a higher quality food but in lower quantity you may actually save money in the long run, and keep you kitty in top form as well.

The only other disadvantage is the loss of breeding potential. For most people this shouldn’t even be a consideration, with so many unwanted litters being euthanized yearly.

How do I care for my kitty after surgery?

Once your kitty returns home after surgery, whether male or female, they will probably be outfitted with the “cone of shame”, or an Elizabethan collar (e collar) as shown here. This will prevent kitty from licking the incision and/or pulling out the stitches before they are ready to be removed.

 

Be sure to follow your veteranarian’s additional instructions if any are provided. There may be a follow up visit scheduled for a week to 10 days after surgery. In the meantime be aware of any changes in the incision, such as increased redness,  swelling, or discharge which may indicate an infection and would signal the need for sooner than scheduled follow up.

A normal non-infected spay incision should look like this:

 

In Conclusion…

Unless you are breeding and showing animals professionally spaying and neutering should be the common practice. If there is an medical reason why your kitty can not or should not undergo this procedure your trusted veternarian can advise you of your other available options.

Please help stop the destruction of healthy animals due to overpopulation by adopting from a local shelter or rescue organization (where the animals may have already been spayed, neutered and/or microchipped) and insuring you don’t add to the problem by spaying and neutering to prevent unwanted litters.

Thanks for reading, feel free to comment below!

KyleAnn

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How do I know my cat is in heat?

 

This is a question I have been asked many times especially by first time cat owners. How do I know if my cat is in heat? If you adopt a female kitten between the ages of 6 to 12 months or older from a shelter it is likely they will already have been spayed (if female) or neutered (if male).

What does being in heat mean?

When a female cat becomes fertile for mating this is referred to as being “in heat”. For non-spayed female cats this usually occurs between the ages of 6 to 12 months. But since we all know rules are made to be broken, in some kittens this can happen as early as 4 months of age.


It is a seasonal occurrance which most commonly happens in the spring and the fall. If the cat completes her cycle without becoming pregnant she can begin another heat cycle within a month. The cycle lasts for approximately a week, but in some cats can last 10 to 14 days.

What are the signs?

If you have never owned a cat as a pet before some of these behaviors can be a bit confusing. You may feel as though that sweet kitten you brought home has become posessed!

She may have been perfectly content being indoors and suddenly will begin to make every attempt to escape to the world outside. Or she may become overly affectionate, rubbing against you, your legs, the furniture and even the dog if one happens to be nearby! This is nature taking over her hormones, and by spreading her scent everywhere she is letting all interested male cats in the area know she is open for business.


She may become unusually vocal, emitting excessively annoying (to us) meows, yowls and other sounds you have never heard come out of her little body before. For reasons unknown to us she will be especially prone to doing this between midnight and 4 a.m.

You may notice a decrease in her appetite, and see her cleaning the area around her genitalia much more frequently. A cat’s uterus doesn’t shed its lining so there will not be any bleeding or bloody discharge to worry about. Cats are known to be fastidious about keeping themselves clean.

Another odd behavior she may exhibit will look similar to the “play” position that dogs show each other. Her front paws and front half of her body will be on the ground while her rear end and tail will be raised in the air, referred to as “assuming the position”.

 

How can I help her?

Although some veterinarians may offer synthetic hormones to help with easing some of the more annoying symptoms, most will recommend spaying. And the fact is spaying is the ONLY permanent solution to the symptoms and annoyances of having a cat in heat.

Spaying and neutering of all pets is beneficial in multiple other ways. It will prevent the territorial marking most often done by the males of the species. It will also ease aggression issues that are caused by the rise and fall of hormone levels, also more common in male animals. And in general spayed and neutered animals live longer healthier lives.

Gray tabby kitten at play

In Conclusion

It is a sad fact there are many hundreds of unwanted, abandoned and feral animals euthanized every year due to overpopulation because people are negligent about spaying or neutering their pets. That is the one thing everyone can do to help save a life. Unless one is a professional and ethical breeder who makes a living from their animal’s offspring, or has plans to keep a show animal’s bloodline recorded for future generations there are few other reasons for not spaying and neutering.

Please make this a priority in your own animal’s lives, and spread the word so that more animals lives aren’t ended needlessly.

Thank you,
Kyle Ann

 

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How to care for a senior cat

 


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Some people who are fortunate enough to have a cat companion for over 10 years may be wondering if there are any tips for caring for a senior cat.  Well, there are! And I’m going to talk about a few of those here.

How old is a senior cat?

Most cats over 10 years of age are considered seniors, although some veterinarians now say 12 to 14 years due to that fact that with improved health care our pets are living longer now than ever before. Of course this leads to  dealing with new age-related conditions. As pet guardians it’s up to us to help them develop the good habits that will take the health requirements of old age into consideration.

They may not need hearing aids, dentures or eyeglasses like we do as we age, but there are other needs we on which we need to focus our attention.

Keep your senior cat indoors!

Absolutely the easiest and most important thing we can do to extend the life of our cats is to keep them indoors…exclusively. Even older cats who may have spent a great deal of time outdoors in her youth can learn to be happy and content indoors with  minimal effort on your part. A sunny window seat with view (preferably of birds and squirrels at play) as well as a place for alone time and a clean litter box are about all that’s required.

Keep an eye on dietary needs!

Sadly over 60% of cats are reported to be overweight or obese. Just as with humans, obesity in cats can be detrimental to their health. Overweight cats can suffer added stress on joints and bones, and become more prone to diabetes and liver failure. If your cat has been on a dry kibble diet you may want to start feeding wet food, either in addition or in place of dry at least one meal a day. Cats are not thirst driven like dogs, and need the additional moisture even more as they age to help prevent kidney failure, one of the most common ailments of aging cats.

Maintain regular check ups!

It is common for people to neglect to get their cats to the vet regularly once they’ve had all their vaccinations, especially if the cat is indoors exclusively. Once your cat ages beyond 10 or 12 years it is imperative that a good health baseline exam is done, and regular check ups continued to help with early detection of any problems. This can make all the difference in disease management should something arise, and also insure your cat has the best possible quality of life.

Prevent infectious diseases!

This goes hand-in-paw with regular check ups. Your vet can inform you of the greatest disease risks in your area and  provide the appropriate vaccinations for prevention and/or management should your cat contract a disease. Your vet will also know about the regulations and legal requirements for your city, county and state concerning vaccinations.

Maintain good mental health!

Your cat may not be as active as she once was, but still needs stimulation and low level activity to keep her mentally fit. While crossword puzzles are out of the question, there are other things you can do to reduce stress on kitty and keep her mind healthy. Some common stressors include: changes in environment, introduction of a new housemate, a barren environment that can produce unwanted behaviors out of boredom such as hunting, scratching and territorial marking.

Good dental hygiene!

Regular dental cleaning should be done under the care of your vet, but between visits you can help by learning how to brush your cat’s teeth.  Ask your vet about other ways you can keep kitty’s teeth and gums clean between check ups.

Practice good grooming!

Some aging cats have a more difficult time with their grooming. They may have kept themselves fastidiously clean in their youth, but stiff joints could prevent them from bending and reaching all the places they once had no problem with. You may need to increase brushing your kitty, especially if she is long haired. There are also special wet wipes for their bottoms if you notice that area becoming unkempt.

Keep your senior cat moving but comfortable!

There are toys that may have been her favorite as a kitten, and now she completely ignores them. Attempt to find new and different toys that might catch her attention at this later stage of life. Try to determine what catches her fancy…

  • catnip or care less?
  • textured (rough) or soft (plush)?
  • crinkly (foil/plastic) or quiet (balled up paper)?
  • bags or boxes?

Anything that catches her attention is a good choice, except for string or yarn, which can be swallowed and cause serious problems in an older cat while a young kitty could have easily passed it.

Also consider providing a tower. If her favorite window seat requires a short jump or climb it will give her a reason to continue that activity. One thing you don’t want to make her work for is getting into the litter box. An older cat may need a box with at lease one low side for easier access.

You can also research methods of therapeutic massage and other complementary treatments, as well as anti-inflammatory or pain relief medicines that me be helpful.

Thanks for reading, I welcome all questions and comments!

Kyle Ann

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How to Recognize Most Common Cat Illnesses

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This article will detail how to recognize symptoms of the most common cat illnesses, how to treat them and how to avoid them if possible. When a beloved pet becomes sick it can be a scary event for the whole fanily. Hopefully these tips will help you know what to look for, recognize what you are seeing and understand what type of treatment to seek.

Cancer                                                     

ILLNESS: As with humans cancer is a leading cause of illness and death in cats. Also like humans cats are susceptible to several different types of cancer such as skin, stomach, and kidney.

SYMPTOMS: One of the main indications that something is wrong is if you notice a lump somewhere on your cat’s body, or a skn lesion that doesn’t seem to heal. Symptoms of internal cancers can include changes in behavior, weight loss, lethargy, loss of appetite, suddden lameness, diarrhea or vomiting. Though cancer can occur in cats at any age, it is most prevalent in cats over 8 years of age. There is no known prevention for internal cancers, though some studies suggest feeding the highest quality nutrition available will help lengthen a cats lifespan.

Skin cancer occurs most frequently in cats with white or light colored heads and ears. Ask you vet if your cat may be at risk. If so, keeping your cat indoors is the best prevention for this type of cancer.

TREATMENTS: For a visible lump or lesion the first thing to do is get a biopsy to confirm a cancer diagnosis. After that other tests can determine if the cancer has spread. Some cancers can be cured, but if your cat’s cancer is not curable you can certainly take measures to make her life as comfortable and pain-free as possible.

Diabetes

ILLNESS: Diabetes is a very complex disease in cats. As in humans it is either a lack of the hormone insulin, or inability of the cat’s body to process and use it normally. This results in a condition known as “hyperglycemia” or extremely high levels of sugar in the blood system. For some reason male cats are more prone to this disease than female cats.

SYMPTOMS: If you notice you cat’s water or food bowls are being emptied faster than usual, or your cat is urinating more frequently this could be a sign that glucose levels are going unregulated. Excess glucose in the bloodstream will make a cat thirsty when they are not usually thirst driven. A siimple blood test at the vet can confirm a diagnosis of diabetes.

TREATMENT: Although there is no cure for diabetes it can be controlled with injections and pills to control glucose, and dietary changes. Some cats, particularly overweight cats who successfully lose weight, can stimulate their pancreas to begin functioning normally again and overcome the need for continued medication. This is the best possible outcome, and the cat can continue to live a long,healthy and happy life.

 

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)            

ILLNESS: A cat with this virus can live symptom free for years, but once the illness takes hold it can create many different health problems even before reaching the chronic stages. Once symptoms begin to develop they can continually worsen.

SYMPTOMS: Some of the most common signs to look for are: enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss, fever, dull messy coat, diarrhea, discharge from eyes or nose, wounds that don’t heal, or any other significant behavior change.

PREVENTION: Since this disease is mainly transmitted from cat to cat through deep bite wounds during fights, usually over territory or during mating (another good reason to keep kitty indoors)! It doesn’t seem to be transmitted through the sharing of food bowls or litterboxes. The most susceptible cats are free-roaming intact males. Cats which are kept indoors are the least likely candidates for infection.

TREATMENT: Unfortunately there is no standard protocol for treatment of FIV. There are things that can be done to help an infected cat stay healthy and live as long and as comfortably as possible. There are medications for secondary infections, healthy diets, fluid replacement therapy, and immune system enhancing drugs. And you definitely want to spay or neuter and keep an infected cat indoors only.

 

FeLV (Feline Leukemia)                                 

ILLNESS: Feline Leukemia can be difficult to distinguish due to the widely varied symptoms that can be displayed. These can include loss of appetite, poor coat condition, uneven pupils, infections of the skin and respiratory tract, weight loss, litter box avoidance, and recurrance of other viral ailments. Some cats can be asymtomatic carriers and have no symptoms of disease, sometimes for years.

Feline Leukemia is passed from cat to cat through close contact with infected saliva and mucus through biting or even grooming.

The infection rates are much higher in stray city dwelling cats than in rural cats simply due to the increased contact they have with each other.

PREVENTION: There are now vaccines available in both the U.S. and Europe to aid in the prevention of Feline Leukemia, although none is considered 100% effective. Serious side effects have also been reported as a result of the vaccine in a small number of cats, the worst being the development of an aggressive tumor at the injection site. More often than not your veterinarian will still recommend the annual vaccination.

TREATMENT:  For the past 8 years in the U.S. and Europe there has been an injectible treatment aid available which can reduce the mortality rate from approximately 50% to around 20%. It can only be administered to cats over 9 weeks of age in non-terminal stages of the disease.

 

IN CONCLUSION: While the possiblilty of a beloved cat contracting one of these serious illnesses may be worrisome, it is far better to be educated and aware of the possibility than to ignore it altogether. With the help of a trusted veterinarian most of these common diseases can be prevented, or at the very least treated with an early diagnosis. We do it for ourselves and for our children, we should do the same for our furry companions.

If you have questions about how to prepare you cat for a trip to the vet check out the tips here:

https://play4cats.com/how-to-take-your-cat-to-the-vet/

Let me know your thoughts, comments and discussion are always welcome!

Kyle Ann

 

*Information courtesy PetMD and Wikipedia  *photos courtesy Pexels

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What are the smallest cat breeds

 

 

Today I’m going to answer a question I was asked about the smallest cat breeds. These breeds are ideal for people who live in smaller homes or apartments and are just as lovable as their larger counterparts.

Singapura

Singapura

The Singapura is said to have originated on the streets of the city/state of Singapore, (previously Singapura). They range in size from a mere 5 to 7 pounds fully grown. Their coat is unusual in that every hair is 2 colors, lighter ivory at the base darkening to a fawn color at the tip. A Singapura is known for her large eyes and ears, and also for her quiet intelligence. This breed is recognized by the Guinness Book of records as the world’s smallest cat breed.

MunchkinMunchkin

No matter what you’ve heard the Munchkin is NOT a cross between a Dachshund and a cat! Just because her legs are short and her body long that has been a popular comparison. This is a breed that occurred from a natural genetic mutation. These short legs turned out to be a dominant inheritance pattern and the breed was recognized by the International Cat Association in 2003, although not yet recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association. Just because her legs are short doesn’t mean she’s not active and full of fun!

Devon RexDevon Rex

The Devon Rex is a popular cat breed from the United Kingdom known for her high cheekbones, long legs, and slender body, and stubby or no whiskers. In other words, she’s the high fashion model of the cat world! The Devon is popular for several reasons. She is highly affectionate when her people are around but will stay out of trouble when they’re gone. With a unique semi curly coat that sheds only minimally, the Devon is also recommended for people with allergies and won’t force you to drag out the vacuum too often!


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 Siamese
Siamese

The Siamese is a sleek beauty originally from Thailand. Though these cats come in different color variations the body is always a lighter tone with darker colored extremities, referred to as points, on the face, ears, paws, and tail. Another striking feature of the Siamese is their beautiful baby blue eyes. They are very intelligent and known to be quite vocal, so if you want a cat who can have daily conversations with you this is the one.

Cornish RexCornish Rex

As the name implies this Rex breed also originated in the UK and first made an appearance about 10 years earlier than her cousin the Devon. The Cornish has a coat that is shorter and curlier with a narrow more pointed face. They are known for being inquisitive and friendly, and not extremely active. The Cornish Rex is recognized by all major cat registries.

OrientalOriental

The Oriental has a build similar to the Siamese, long and svelte, and likely has Siamese genes in her background. She is a natural athlete, very active and into everything. Orientals will want to supervise all family activities and give her opinion on how things should be done! Because of her high energy level, she will need regular play activity if you intend on getting a good night’s sleep.

American CurlAmerican Curl

This breed is named not for a curly coat but for her unusual ears, which curl backward and toward each other forming a crescent moon shape. The Curl has a slender build which is often hidden by her long silky coat. The coat feels very fine due to having no undercoat. This is a recent breed, only in existence since the 1980’s.

Japanese BobtailJapanese Bobtail

This cat is known as fun-loving and is also said to bring good luck to everyone who lives with her. At least that’s what they say in her homeland of Japan. And no one can argue, this happy playful cat will make friends with everyone. The Bobtails’s coat can be short or long and comes in many colors and patterns, but she always sports the short bobbed tail. The Bobtail was the model for the traditional ceramic cat statue which has graced the entry of Japanese homes and brought good luck for centuries.

In Conclusion

So there you have it, the answer to the question “What are the smallest cat breeds”? If you’re in the market for the addition of a cat to your family I hope you may find an idea here.

I’d love to know what you think, all questions and comments are welcome below!

Kyle Ann


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How to take your cat to the vet

Taking your cat to the vet can be a scary experience for you and your cat! Here are some tips on how to take your cat to the vet and take the stress out of the trip for both of you.

Understanding your cat’s behavior

Cat’s are most comfortable with the familiar and need time to adjust to the unfamiliar. A visit to the vet can be stressful because the carrier, the car ride, and the vet’s office are all unfamiliar. They are also very attuned to their human’s frustration and anxiety, so the more you can remain calm the more you will be helping your cat.

It begins with training. Cats do not learn from punishment or force, they learn from rewards to encourage positive behavior. They want to please you, therefore, you must let them know when they’ve done so.

Begin with handling

You should begin (and begin early) by handling your cat in all the ways she may be handled at the veterinarian’s office. This should continue as often as possible, and in the beginning may only last a minute or two. When your cat is calmly in your lap, touch her paws, her ears and open her mouth to have a look at her teeth.

Each time she allows you to touch one of these sensitive areas reward her with food, play or affection. Only you know what best motivates your cat.  Be persistent and reward every time she complies.

Cat, meet carrier!

The goal here is for your cat to learn to associate the carrier with a positive experience and eventually enter voluntarily on a routine basis.

Once again this training should start early on by leaving the carrier out in a place where your cat spends a lot of time. Initially, you can place an item of your own bedding or clothing with your scent inside the carrier to make kitty feel more secure. You can also place a few treats, catnip, or toys inside the encourage your cat to enter the carrier at home. You may notice the treats go missing during the night. Continue to replace them and eventually you will catch her inspecting the carrier in your presence. Reward immediately!

This process could take days, weeks or even months. Be patient and calm with your cat and always reward desired behavior. If you still have trouble getting her used to the carrier you may need to re-evaluate the carrier itself.

What type carriers are best?

Choose a carrier that is sturdy and secure for the cat, as well as easy to carry for yourself.

Carriers should be seat-belted in the car to keep kitty safe and reduce as much of the bumpiness of the ride as possible.

Some cats like to see out when traveling, while others may be less anxious when the carrier is covered with a blanket or towel to prevent them from being exposed to unfamiliar sights.

The best carriers are hard-sided carriers that can open from both the front and the top. It is especially helpful if it can also be taken apart in the middle, leaving the bottom half open. This way a cat who is anxious or fearful can remain in the bottom half of the carrier. The vet can often perform the exam without removing the cat at all, which helps reduce stress.

What if my cat is unwilling?

Getting an unwilling cat into the carrier can be a challenge, but the following may help:

  • Put the carrier in a small room with few places for kitty to hide
  • Move slowly and calmly, do not attempt to chase the cat into the carrier
  • If kitty just will NOT walk into the carrier and the carrier has an opening in the top, gently cradle the cat and lower her into the carrier.
  • Use familiar bedding in the carrier, such as a piece of your own clothing
  • Consider the use of calming feline pheromone spray in the carrier about 30 minutes prior to transport

Coming home-keeping the peace

Cats are VERY sensitive to smells, and unfamiliar scents can result in one cat no longer recognizing another if it smells like a stranger. If you’re bringing a cat home from the vet into a multi-cat household these suggestions can help avoid problems between cats following a veterinary visit:

  • Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all the other cats react
  • When everyone appears calm and peaceful let the returning cat out of the carrier
  • If you sense any tension take the carrier into a separate room to let the returning cat out. Provide a treat and spend some time petting her and letting her roam to regain the more familiar smell of home
  • The use of a synthetic feline pheromone spray can help provide a sense of familiarity

Final thoughts

I hope you find these suggestions on how to ease stress for you and your cat during a visit to the veterinarian helpful. If you have other suggestions of your own I would love to hear about them. Please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Thanks! Have a paws-atively wonderful day!

Kyle Ann

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