Sunday, May 26, 2013

Tabby Twin Habitat

Odin on the top shelf!

Odin (L) and Adian (R) enjoy the warmth of the cement
Odin's log
Wondering what the tabby twins are up to these days? They turn four years old next month and have a fabulous enclosure they are enjoying! The walls and ceiling are polypropylene netting that's supposed to be quite resilient over time given our weather. It's not inexpensive but is much easier to work with than chicken wire and doesn't pose any sharp edges. The shelves the kitties perch on and scratch are cedar. There's even a long walk way across the top so they can be up as high as possible. If you were to build on a non-paved surface you'd want to create an "apron" along the bottom to prevent wildlife from digging in; not keeping any food outside overnight also helps prevent unwanted visitors. I like that the boys are less available to fleas since it's not a grassy patch. (I frequently grow pots of oat or wheat grass for them to munch on if they like.) Odin and Adian are such loving kitties and as you can see, very happy with life.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Vaccination Debate

Here's a short blog entry about vaccinations from a vet regularly featured in my Pet Sitters International magazine. The frequency of vaccinations is finally being discussed amongst conventional vets and companion animal guardians; holistic vets have long questioned this practice. However, just yesterday I was looking at a website for a popular dog and cat veterinary practice in Seattle and checked out their vaccine protocol recommendations. I was surprised that they list nearly every vaccine every year for cats, even strictly indoor cats! Dogs are much more active within their community, either at a dog park or with neighbor dogs they meet regularly on walks than most cats so I can understand a greater need to vaccinate canines.

My personal experience is with feline health and I believe that vaccinating senior cats or cats who have current chronic health issues can be dangerous to their overall wellness. I know that some feline boarding facilities request recent vaccinations before accepting new clients; one of my clients refused to vaccinate her 16 YO kitty and we worked on finding a different place for her kitty to stay. I've heard plenty of stories of both cats and dogs who developed tremors, twitching, vomiting, and lethargy after being vaccinated. Cancer at vaccine sites is well documented. Of course rabies could be a very serious concern for animals who spend a lot of time outdoors and obviously vaccinating feral cats at the time of their spay or neuter surgery is a good idea (the Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Project offers these services for free for community cats). FIV and FeLV are mainly spread via puncture wounds or sexual intercourse with unaltered cats at greatest risk. But outside of a shelter setting (which commonly harbors upper respiratory infections), consider your kitty's actual exposure to the illnesses vaccinations address within your own home. People have told me of instances where their cats were medicated in a non-emergency setting or vaccinated without the guardian's consent, which is completely unacceptable. As with all veterinary healthcare issues, you need to feel comfortable with the staff and doctors you patronize. Fortunately here in Seattle we have a multitude of highly skilled vets to choose from and a variety of specialists and alternative providors as well.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Looking for a BF

I love Best Friends in Kanab, Utah and was fortunate to visit for a day two winters ago with my mom. It's a magical place where lucky animals of all kinds end up, some move onto adoptive homes and others call BF their home for life. Read the lovely story above about an adorable kitty who needed not only a little expert medical care but some cat savvy folks to understood he isn't limited by his physical disabilities.

I actually contacted BF today to see if they might be able to take in a kitty I've become involved with from Spokane. A friend of mine noticed this long-haired Siamese boy in his neighborhood months ago and wasn't sure if the cat belonged to someone or not. His coat was becoming increasingly matted and then my friend noticed the kitty was declawed! The "owners" had abandoned him months prior and even though other neighbors left out food for him, they never let him inside or took him to be neutered. My friend decided to take this cat in and made an appointment with his local vet. I suggested he have the kitty tested for FIV/FeLV (leukemia) since any shelter or potential adopter would want this information. Sadly, the kitty has tested positive for feline leukemia. 

Feline leukemia is contagious via saliva such as a bite wound (Tom cats fight and this is likely how he contracted the disease) but also could potentially be spread through shared food bowls or litter boxes, so it's essential that this kitty be strictly inside and an only cat. The virus does not jump to other species and is not spread on a person's clothing like feline upper respiratory virus can be. This kitty's not showing any signs of illness at this time and it could be several years before he develops cancer or becomes obviously sick. He is eating well and very affectionate. After the lousy hand he's been dealt I feel like he deserves to enjoy the time he does have left. Of course my friend and I both have cats and don't have the room to give him his own living quarters, like most everyone I know. Whoever takes him in will do so knowing that their bond may come to an end sooner than if they adopted a young, healthy cat and that they will likely have to make that fateful decision we make when our companion animals are truly suffering. But this kitty won't be counting the days or worrying about his hidden virus; he will be living in the present. The one shelter in WA that does have a "leuki land" sanctuary space is at capacity. I know BF receives hundreds of requests every single day from people searching for a place for an animal they are wanting to help, but I am holding out hope that BF or some kind person will offer him a space in their heart and their home.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Community Cats get a new website!

Photo credit: Kaye Counce, a Seattle feral colony

Check out Alley Cat Allies' new website designed to counter the damage done by junk science reporting from the Smithsonian several months ago. It's full of awesome graphics and easy to understand points for those people you may work with or live next door to who are stuck in the "feral cats=dead birds" mentality.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013