What is declawing?
Feline declawing is an elective and ethically controversial procedure, which is NOT medically necessary for cats in most instances. Declawing entails the amputation of a cat’s third phalanx [P3], or third ‘toe bone.’ Unlike human nails, cats’ claws are attached to the last bone in their toes. A comparison in human terms would be cutting off a person’s finger at the last joint of each finger.
It is important to understand that scratching is normal behavior for cats, and has an inherent function. Cats scratch to:
Alternatives to declawing
Provide your cat with suitable ‘scratchers’ where they can exhibit normal scratching behavior. Scratchers come in multiple styles and textures. It is important to experiment with a variety of textures and types of scratchers to determine which your cat prefers. Some examples I have come across include:
The placement of scratchers is very important.
Kittens and cats can be trained to use scratchers by rewarding use of the scratcher with the cat’s favorite treat. A spray bottle of water nearby can be useful if used with calmness and no dramatics.
Cats should always be positively reinforced and never punished.
Regular claw trimming
Regularly trimming your cat’s claws can prevent injury and damage to household items. Proper feline nail trimmers should be used to prevent splintering of the claws. The frequency of claw trimming will depend on your cat’s lifestyle. Indoor cats, kittens, and older cats will need more regular nail trims, whereas outdoor cats may naturally wear down their nails requiring less frequent trimming.
If possible, start trimming as kittens so they become comfortable with the process early on. This method of teaching early is called imprinting.
If your cat does not like claw trimmings start slow, offer breaks, and make it a familiar routine.
Ask your veterinarian for advice or a demonstration on trimming your cat’s claws.
Always trim claws in a calm environment and provide positive reinforcement.
Continued scratching by cats may be related to stress, anxiety, attention seeking, or a perceived lack of security in their environment. Anxiety can also be intensified by punishment, thus driving the cat to increase scratching behaviors in the same or other undesirable locations in the home.
Feliway® the synthetic pheromone can be bought as a bottle of liquid and plugged into your wall. The heat generated by the plug slowly evaporates the pheromone into the atmosphere. In many of my experiences Feliway has had a positive effect in decreasing anxiety and stress. The pheremone is also undetectable to human noses.
It can also help spraying Feliway® on the objects or areas in your home where your cat has exhibited undesired scratching. Remember to do this after cleaning the area with bio soap and water, to remove the communication marking scents left by your cat’s paws, otherwise the cat will only return to the same place again and again. Applying daily comforting pheromones can prevent your cat’s need to mark these areas again. Feliway® should NOT be sprayed on the desired scratcher.
Providing your cat with an environment that is enriching is vital to teaching your cat to scratch on appropriate objects. Destructive scratching can occur in cats because their needs have not been fully met. Cats need the proper resources to perform their natural behaviors and have control over their social interactions.
You can enhance your cat’s health and well-being by ensuring all their needs are met in the home.
Great sites with lots of wonderful cat information:
Shops with cat goodies:
Often in conversation about pet sitting cats, someone will mention that our feline companions need very little care, that they are independent, aloof and can very nearly look after themselves. I don’t believe this is the case, whether they are indoor or outdoor cats. (photo)
I read a heading in a blog titled “Quiet lives of Desperation”. What a sad but true heading! Cats suffer very quietly. A cat without stimulation or interaction can suffer from stress through boredom and depression. This stress will show itself through less obvious problems such as obesity, a depressed immune system leading to infections (such as a urinary), or it can show itself more obviously through behavioural changes such as aggression, over grooming and soiling outside the litter tray.
It’s important to visit your veterinarian to rule out any medical issues that could contribute to the problem. Once your cat gets a clean bill of health, you can look into ways to enrich his environment to meet his physical, emotional and social needs. Here are some suggestions.
Cats may have set ideas about how they want to interact, but, it is important to set time aside for this to happen. Each cat personality is different, so it is important to explore with your cat (without expectations), to find out what it likes.
Through our pet sitting experience we know that cats love to play hide and seek, to be groomed with a hand held hoover, hunt the string, chase the ball, they can be trained to a harness and go out for walks on top of terraces or into the wild (see this website), they can be taught to fetch a ball and more.
Set up a routine where this precious time is available to your cat
A Safe retreat
Cats need a safe place where they can snooze uninterrupted; they need to escape from the other animals, from children and strange visitors. They love to perch on high vantage points or slip into deep, dark corners where they can see you but you cant see them!
Make spaces available to them, or build little dens. See zooplus.es for some ideas. Or make beds on top of shelves where they can look out the window or feel the sun or a breeze
Captivate their senses
Cats are especially interested in scents, so consider using catnip or synthetic pheromones in your house. Or provide some pet-safe grasses for your cat to nibble on. Explore aromatherapy oils, and cats love plants.
For auditory stimulation, consider leaving the radio on or playing a CD made for cats while you’re gone. Cats love classical music and there are even DVDs with birds and other prey to keep your cat entertained. (video)
Every cat is different, so you may need to try different enrichment strategies until you find what’s best for your cat. A few small changes around the house can help make your cat happier and create more harmony when multiple cats are sharing a house.
Losing your pet causes a lot of anxiety and stress. It is hard to think calmly and be proactive. Here are some important points to remember to make your search easier.
The experiences told to me by clients
Anal Glands in Cats and Dogs
What are Anal Glands?
Anal glands are pea sized sacs found on either side of your dog or cat's anal opening, at the 8 and 4 o’clock positions. They are paired glands located just below the surface of the skin and were designed by nature to produce a thick, foul-smelling, oily liquid secreted for identification and territory-marking.
For the wild animal these glands also act as a powerful deterrent when it is in danger. The animals will voluntarily exude the goo from the glands, which causes the predator to stop, smell and re evaluate its situation. Skunks hold the prize for having the most foul smelling anal glands when in fear.
For the domestic animal on the other hand, the glands serve less of a function and they have largely lost their ability to empty their glands voluntarily.
This scent from the anal glands is used as a place marker, a communication device, and a personal ID card. This is why dogs smell other dogs bottoms to see who's who, and, why cats pay special attention to poop in the same place.
How do they work?
Passing normal firm stools puts natural pressure on the rectum walls causing the glands to squeeze out their contents and coat the stool with its distinctive and unique smell. The glands will, to some degree, also help to lubricate the anal opening in the process, making it easier for your dog or cat to poo.
Dogs empty their anal sacs involuntarily and normally when under stress. You may have experienced this when visiting the vet with your dog. In its anxiety it has let rip (literally) the fluid from its anal sacs. Not a pleasant smell or situation for all involved in the scent shower.
What are the problems?
The anal glands are one of the anatomical areas where cats have it all over dogs. It’s unusual for a cat’s anal glands to become impacted, inflamed or infected.
Dogs on the other hand are more commonly unable to fully empty their glands on their own, causing the glands to become impacted and uncomfortable. Impaction results from a blockage of the duct leading from the gland to the opening. This can be non-painful but swollen causing irritation, or painful, if an infection is involved resulting from prolonged impaction, causing the glands to build-up nasty bacteria resulting in pain, increased swelling, and sometimes a fever. A very painful condition requiring urgent veterinary treatment.
Signs that your dog or cat may have a problem with their anal glands
Anal glands fill up for a number of reasons.
What is the treatment?
Treatment is usually by expression of the gland by your veterinarian, or involves antibiotics and pain relief. The glands may need repeated flushing.
Anal glands can be flushed at home, but this process can be extremely dangerous if done incorrectly. It is always recommended to get vet advice before emptying glands yourself.
Information taken from www.vetstreet.com, vetadvice, www.marcthevet.com and my own personal pet sitting experiences.
As you walk around Barcelona you may have noticed the yellow powder that is sprinkled outside some shops or buildings. This yellow powder is Sulphur and is supposed to repel dogs from peeing in that particular spot.
In Malaga according to Sur.es, the Ayuntamiento have imposed a fine of between 75 and 500 euros if shops or residences sprinkle it outside their buildings. This new law comes into effect this month - April 2017.
At the moment there seems to be no definite evidence that Sulphur is effective in repelling dogs from peeing in certain areas. I cannot comment on whether this tactic works or not, but I do think that the sulphur makes the outside of buildings look very ugly!
Sulphur can harm your dog if ingested in large quantities, inhaled in large quatities, or if the dog's skin is exposed to it directly.
In my travels around Barcelona i have not heard of any dog being affected by the sulphur powder. It is not tasty enough!
Sulphur is a product used in horticulture to prevent plants from insect damage.
Wouldn't Sulphur cause more irritation to humans if picked up by the wind and inhaled?
Once a dog has urinated in one spot, the urine acts as a 'peemail' to other dogs, informing them of their breeding status, health and a wealth of other very useful information. These spots then attract other dogs who also want to broadcast their status.
If a dog has weed indoors then they will return to the same spot to reinforce the message that the previous smell already contains.
Do we use bleach to clean up urine stains?
Animal urine contains ammonia amongst other ingredients.
Bleach contains an ingredient that reacts with the ammonia in the urine breaking up the molecules and creating toxic gases, but, in the process this chemical reaction also strengthens the smell of the stained spot which broadcasts a stronger and more insistent message to other dogs, to come and wee in the same spot.
The same thing happens if the dog urinates indoors. It will return to the same spot to reinforce any diluting messages.
What is the best way to clean up urine stains?
Here are some suggestions
For cleaning the outside of buildings, a mixture of vinegar and water in a bucket with a good brush will suffice.
Sylvester Stallone tells it himself. His personal story about Man's Best Friend. Please click on the link, it is a great post.
This is a 6min speech i gave about Reiki to my Toastmasters Club. Toastmasters is an international group that teaches and supports its members to speak in public.
Please note there is so much more to be said about Reiki. This speech is only 7 minutes long.
How many of you in this room have heard of reiki?
How many of you believe that you have energy in your hands?
What is reiki
Reiki is a energy healing treatment that works holistically on the whole body, mind and spirit of both humans and animals. It is not a system of religious beliefs. It is simply a relaxing treatment using natural healing vibrations that are transmitted through the hands of a reiki practitioner (acting as a channel) into the body of the recipient.
How could Reiki possibly work?
Reiki works through the energy systems of the body. A human being is known to be made up of at least four levels of energy.
First the aura which is an energy field surrounding the body. In my research I found that the aura was first measured scientifically at yale school of medicine by Harold Burr in the 1930’s. (picture of aura) The aura has electromagnetic properties, like light.
Second, research by Valerie Hunt (not my sister) from the university of California has proven that there are concentrated local energy centres on particular areas of the body. These local energy centres are commonly known as Chakras. For those of you who practice yoga you may be familiar with this word. Chakras are vortexes of energy constantly moving and vibrating.
The third is a network of pathways within the body that transport energy. These pathways are called the meridians. Meridians are the basis for any acupuncture treatment. These pathways are similar to the circulatory system. WE have veins and arteries that transport blood to and from the heart, the meridians on the otherhand are pathways that transport energy.
The fourth are known as subtle energies. Albert Einstein described these energies “as known because of their effects, but, we do not have the instruments to detect them directly”. An example of a subtle energy is how the energy field responds to human intention or thought. This was directly measured by William tiller of Stanford university.
Now the palms of our hands have been recorded as transmitting an electromagnetic wave. We have a chakra in each palm of our hand. Reiki works through this chakra or electromagnetic wave adjusting the imbalances of all of the body´s energy systems. Remember imbalances of energy are known to cause illnesses so reiki travels to the cause of the illness activating the bodies natural ability to heal itself.
But in reality we know very little about Reiki. So what is the scientific community doing? Why do we know so little?
Studies require funding … and funding is more driven and directed by the pharmaceutical companies and their profit margins. They want to focus on the chemistry processes of the body and surgical proceedures rather than the positive biological responses of the body in relation to energy. If the body has the ability to heal itself using the body´s energy systems the pharmaceuticals would lose their business.
If the scientific community knows very little about reiki. Is it effective?
My reiki master healed herself from a degenerative spinal disease after 6 months of self treatment with reiki.
Cancer patients in the pittsburg university hospital reported significant improvements in sleep, attitude, appetitie, decrease in stress, lonliness and anxiety
A friend of mine with a bleeding head wound used reiki to stop the bleeding. When he got to the doctor the doctor was amazed as the wound had pulled together and did not need stitches
Reiki is being used by millions of people to heal themselves It is also being used in thousands of hospitals all over the world, incuding 2 here in Barcelona, Hosptial Llobregat and Hospital Clinic.
So what can we say about reiki?
In English we have a saying “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. In spanish this means para saber los efectos del reiki tienes que probarlo. So ... try it!
Anyone can have reiki in their hands. I have it and it has changed my life. Let it change yours.
Pet-sitting is different from boarders (residencias), or doggie daycares, since by definition, it involves caring for a pet in its own home. Choosing a good pet sitter can be an anxious process as, not only do you need someone who is going to genuinely care for your beloved furry or feathery family member, but this person will also need to have a set of your house keys, so that they can come and go from your home while you are away.
Petsitting is a professional job that deserves respect, if done well. It requires people with all the virtues, and, virtues are not something that you can pick out from a carefully worded CV.
We need (and are expected to be) responsible, flexible, trustworthy, reliable, organised, good communicators, committed, compassionate, hardworking and passionate about animals. We need to create a strong bond with the human guardians as well as with their animals. Many people say that they prefer animals to humans, but, .................. really ............... animals and humans need the same things. They need to know they can trust you and that you will care.
Pet sitting is also a job that takes place over holidays , during lunch hours, breakfast time and at bedtimes, once, twice or three times a day. As a professional pet sitting organisation i have pledged to offer quality pet sitting services for 365 days of the year. This is a huge commitment and requires a lot of forward planning, thought, care and hardwork. On Christmas Day this year we were caring for over 30 animals!
To help me with this pledge, i need the right people, as i am physically unable to work everyday of my life for long hours. I am very, very lucky in that i have a great team. I did not find them, they found me, and i want to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I am very grateful for their flexability and willingness to work with me.
As pet sitters we also need to be sensitive enough to pick up on any physical or behavioral changes in our pets.
To help us do that i try to keep each animal with the same carer. This not only creates a strong bond between pet and carer but helps the carer notice changes in the animals health.
JC (Jean Claude) was a big, chatty and very handsome ginger cat, full of character and very much an integral part of his family. He liked to sit on the dining room table to look out the window and observe the world outside.
One night he fell off from this table, landed on the floor below it, and died very quickly.
Sudden death in cats is not uncommon and there can be many reasons for it. Possible causes include trauma, exposure to toxins, urinary obstruction, and feline asthma but two of the most common reasons are heart disease called Feline cardiomyopathy or “heart muscle disease” and feline heartworm. However heart disease is the most frequent.
When humans think about heart disease, they imagine a lifestyle-related problem. Too many beers, too many sausages, too many cigarettes, too much time in front of the TV, and too little exercise over the course of a lifetime are the recipe for a human heart attack.
Heart disease is different in cats. The most common form of heart disease, cardiomyopathy, is not lifestyle related. That’s a good thing, since cats are natural couch potatoes. Cardiomyopathy is an organic disease that appears to have a strong hereditary component.
Cardiomyopathy can affect any age of cat ranging from 6 months upward. It often strikes young, seemingly healthy cats. And, shockingly, the first symptom is often sudden death. (Other possible symptoms include breathing difficulties, exercise intolerance, or blood clots passing into the legs.)
Cardiomyopathy often cannot be detected during routine physical examinations. Veterinarians listen to cats’ hearts during exams, but the hearts of cats with the disease often sound normal. The cats often will be symptom-free at home.
How to prevent Cardiomyopathy
Even though the disease is not easily picked up by a vet, it is a good idea to have your cat’s health checked on a regular basis.
If you are concerned, talk to your vet. He or she can discuss your cat’s risk and determine whether diagnostics should be performed.
Owners of cats who suddenly and unexpectedly pass away may want to talk to their vets about an autopsy to determine the cause, especially if related cats also live in the house.
RIP dear JC. You were, and still are, very loved.