Tag Archives: cats

Q&A: What are the healthiest breeds of cat?

Q: What are the healthiest breeds of cats? I’ve heard some breeds inherently have more health problems than others. I do understand all breeds can develop problems also.

A: First, I want to be very upfront about the fact that I do not condone cat breeding. I don’t think most people who breed cats are bad people, but there are enough unethical and uneducated breeders, and so many cats waiting to be adopted, that it’s something I can’t personally recommend.

That said, there are a lot of natural breeds of cat (no human intervention required) that are wonderful and unique. If you want to look for one of the natural breeds in shelters in your area, I think that’s a perfectly good way to look for a cat that is a good fit for your home.

But you also have to be careful because there are breeders who breed natural breeds of cat in an unethical manner to meet demand for these cats. To quote Catster:

Sphynx and the Rex breeds arose due to a spontaneous natural mutation. However, the inbreeding that produced their unique coats and body types has resulted in serious issues. All of these breeds are very prone to heart disease, joint issues, bad teeth and severe digestive issues. Their unusual coats also leave them very susceptible to fungal infections

If you want a healthy cat, you shouldn’t buy a cat from a breeder. Adopt. But if you’re set on buying from a breeder, don’t do so until you have done a TON of research (and don’t rely on information the breeder gives you, do your own research).

What makes any cat healthy is a very large gene pool. The healthiest cats are those who are not “pure breeds.” This is especially true of cats who are bred to have features that themselves cause health issues, which is usually due to inbreeding in order to meet the demand for a specific breed.

According to Purebred Cat Rescue, Persians are “absolutely unfit to live outdoors due to physical makeup.” Their super-flat faces result in misaligned teeth, which can lead to excessive tartar buildup and decay. Many Persians’ noses are so smashed in that their nostrils are too small for them to breathe naturally and they need surgery to correct the problem. Similar problems arise in other breeds.

Now that all that is out of the way, let’s look at some healthy natural breeds:

  1. Egyptian Mau One of the few naturally spotted cat breeds, The Egyptian Mau has very few issues as far as breed is concerned, this cat makes a wonderful pet since it has fewer chances of being diagnosed with something so specific to its breed. Cats 101 video:
    http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/egyptian-mau/
  2. Maine Coon While hip dysplasia can be a problem for larger Maine Coons, they are generally hardy cats. If you have a healthy Maine Coon kitten, it will usually remain healthy throughout its life. Cats 101 video:
    http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/maine-coon/
  3. Russian Blue This striking breed is very healthy, and absolutely gorgeous. They’re also very smart. Cats 101 video:
    http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/russian-blue/
  4. Turkish Van is one of the oldest known domestic breeds on the planet (an ancient breed). They usually love water, and are good swimmers. Cats 101 video:
    http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/turkish-van/
  5. Siberian Another ancient breed, this cat has a much lower level of Fel d1, which is the protein that causes some people to have allergic reactions to cats. Cats 101 video:
    http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/cats-101/videos/siberian/
  6. Norwegian Forest Cat I have a Wegie, and she’s the best. She’s 21 years old and still very healthy.The official cat of Norway, also known as the Skogkatt, the Norwegian Forest Cat  was a companion to the Vikings. It is a large, semi-longhaired cat. Smart and discerning, these cats are perfect for those who want a more laid back companion. A few bursts of energy followed by long naps make these kitties easy to exercise. Cats 101 video:

  7. Rescued The healthiest, best cats you can find are mixed breeds, millions of which are awaiting adoption right now. So don’t hesitate to go to your local shelter and check out the cats. Ask if there are cats that maybe aren’t doing their best at the shelter, so you can spend a quiet moment with them. If you’re looking for 2 cats, ask if there are any bonded pairs. Some shelters are forced to break up cats who have bonded, and that can lead to bad outcomes for these cats, so it’s important to ask if you are able to handle 2 cats. Bonded pairs generally transition to new homes more easily. If you aren’t sure, ask about fostering the cat(s) you like to see if it will work out. Many shelters are happy to work with you.

    And NEVER rule out senior cats.

Fireworks Safety for Pets!

It’s that time of year again! There are a lot of dangers for pets around holidays, and July 4th in the U.S. is one of the worst.

More pets go missing during the 4th of July than any other day of the year.

Make sure your pets are microchipped and wearing tags with up-to-date information. If your cat is indoor-only, it’s a good idea to get them a bright orange collar like this one so that people know it’s an escapee. Cats may try to bolt out the door or even knock out a screen from an open window to get away from the noise.

If you let your cats outside, it’s important to keep them inside from the 3rd to the 5th. Even cats who would never usually run away can become scared and disoriented by the fireworks, and they can get lost very easily under these circumstances. They also may try to bolt out the door if given a chance.

If you know your cat is upset by fireworks, make a cozy place (inside a room where you will be or, if kitty likes to hide, a padded box, a closet, or other space where they will feel safe, and can ride out the worst of it in peace.

Not only are the sounds scary, they can be dangerous. As we explained in our previous article, Of Cats and Crinkle Noises, high-pitched noises can cause seizures in cats. We learned this sad truth 3 years ago, when our precious hero, Kagetora, had a seizure after a rapid-fire succession of fireworks went off. I snapped this photo a few seconds after the seizure.

Kagetora Post-Seizure

Thankfully, he suffered no lasting effects, but we will be playing whale song or one of the nature documentaries they like to watch with us to drown out the noise of fireworks. We recommend that you play something that will be soothing to your cats so that you minimize seizure risks and just make them more comfortable so they can listen to something other than the loud pops, whistles, and booms.

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Plastic Bags: The Deadly Danger Lurking in Your Home

You might remember from our discussion of why cats enjoy crinkle noises that many cats enjoy playing with plastic bags. A number of cats even enjoy chewing on plastic bags and other bags (chips and other snack bags, cat food bags, etc.) . There are 3 deadly dangers associated with these seemingly innocent bags: suffocation, choking, and bowel obstruction.

I have been guilty of putting away the plastic bags to save in case I need to clean up some kitty puke, a stray turd kicked out of the litter box, and other little messes. But that all ended when Stiles was less than a year old, and opened the cabinet where we keep the kitty treats, catnip, and other things. He loves plastic. What if he saw where I kept the bags? He really is too smart for his own good.

It’s like hiding the Tide Pods, that you know your toddler tries to eat every chance s/he gets, in a cabinet they can get to with very little effort. You’re taking a huge risk for no reason. Stop keeping the pods in your house. Buy the bottle of detergent.

So the same is true for any bag that is airtight, like shopping bags, snack bags, etc. Get reusable canvas bags for shopping or choose paper and remove the handles, and get some plastic storage containers that you pour chips and other things that come in bags in when you get home from the store. Cut up and throw away the bags. Get trash cans with lids. They come in all sizes. This way, your cat can’t get into the bag.

One of Stiles’s sisters had to have emergency surgery because she also loves to chew plastic, and had a bowel obstruction. They didn’t think she’d make it. But she did. She was amazingly lucky.

Unfortunately, deaths from suffocation in cats and dogs are all too common. Learn pet CPR (watch video below), keep dangerous objects away from pets just like you would with a toddler. NEVER assume this can’t happen to your pet. Because it can.

More info:

http://preventpetsuffocation.com

https://www.today.com/pets/pet-owners-warn-dog-suffocation-danger-snack-bags-t124069 

 

RCRS: The World’s Only Feline Astronaut

Real Cats, Real Stories is back with a blast from the past. Did you know that a cat went to space? Félicette, a beautiful black and white stray, underwent training along with 13 other cats in France.

In the late 50s and early 60s, the space race was starting to heat up. And although we often think of this as a competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, there were other players in the race.

After the Soviets sent Laika, a dog, into space on November 3, 1957 aboard Sputnik 2 (poor Laika did not survive), NASA sent Enos, a chimpanzee, into space on November 29, 1961. Enos landed safely after orbiting the Earth for one hour and 28 minutes. Many other animals were sent to space during this time, but showing that you could send an animal to space and safely retrieve it was the first big step toward human spaceflight.

Following on the heels of NASA’s success, France’s  Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherches de Médecine Aéronautique (CERMA) was training 14 cats for similar missions. As you might remember from this article on cat’s brains, they are similar to ours in structure and function. They also have a highly sensitive vestibular system.

They finally narrowed down the pool to one cat, Félicette, to be the first cat in space. On the 18th of October, 1963, the cat, safely secured inside a special capsule on top of a French Véronique AG1 rocket, and launched from the Colomb Bacar rocket base at Hammaguir in the Algerian Sahara desert.

She didn’t go into orbit, but in a flight lasting altogether less than 15 minutes travelled some 100 miles (160 km) into space, where the capsule separated from the rocket and descended by parachute.

Throughout the flight the electrodes implanted in her brain transmitted neurological impulses back to Earth, and the French CERMA, which directed these flights, stated afterwards that the cat had made a valuable contribution to research. The capsule and cat were safely recovered and she was photographed with the team afterwards.

The British press of the time called her the ‘Astrocat’; but at some point and from an unknown source — possibly journalists — she gained the name Félicette.

QQ: Night Vision and Kitty Winks

This week we have a few questions about cats’ eyes and vision!

Q: How can cats see so well without much light?

A: Cats can see in 6x less light than we can. Cats have a wider field of view of 200 degrees, and they have a greater range of peripheral vision, which helps with hunting and avoiding threats.

Cats are crepuscular, meaning they are active at dawn and dusk. There are many creatures, not all benign, that are also active at that time. Their eyes have 6–8x more rod cells than we do, which are more sensitive to light and motion. So, if something is slithering toward them in the gloaming, they will be able to jump out of the way before it strikes.

In addition, cats’ elliptical eye shape, larger corneas, and tapetum, a layer of tissue that may reflect light back to the retina, help gather more light as well. The tapetum may also shift the wavelengths of light that cats see, making prey or other objects silhouetted against a night sky more prominent.

 Anatomy of the Eye

Here’s an image of what a nighttime landscape might look to us (top) vs. how it looks to a cat (bottom).

Night Vision

Image Credit: Nickolay Lamm and Space.com Feline Vision: How Cats See the World Click to see the original, larger image.

More images showing how cats see the world: This Is How Cats See the World

Q: Did my cat just wink at me?

A: Cats have a third eyelid, called a nictitating membrane (AKA haw or, more formally called the palpebra tertia). It is translucent, and moves diagonally from the inner corner of the eye up across the eye to keep it moist and this membrane can also cover the eye and allow them to still see since it is semi-transparent.

Nictitating Membrane

The membrane moves so fast that we rarely catch them blinking with the third eyelid. However, one eye may become drier than the other, or may get a strand of fur or something in it, and that is when they will blink with their regular eyelids. Since this usually only happens in one eye, it appears as if they are winking at us.

So, yes, it’s normal for a cat to blink one eye at a time, but it is not the same as what we think of as winking.

Want to know more? This article at Scientific American has all the details you’d ever want to know about the nictitating membrane.

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Cat vs. Gravity

Stiles is almost 2 years old now, and he still has so much energy. Living with 4 cats in a tiny house has its struggles, and one of them is how to get out all that kitty energy when it’s too cold to go on a walk. Here we demonstrate one of the fastest ways we get our little guy the exercise he needs with a fun game that he loves.

I’m still trying to work on my post about him, although it’s difficult to keep under novella length. He’s just such an amazing little guy.

Cat Safety Tips

We here at Little Cat Diaries want you and your pets to have a great holiday season. There are special hazards that the holidays bring, and some that are always present. It’s important to know them all. This video from Cole & Marmalade’s human, Chris, is a great one that touches most of the bases.

Remember that some darn fools insist on shooting off fireworks on New Year’s, and just the sound of fireworks poses a risk to cats, particularly older kitties (though Kagetora was only 6 when he had his first seizure due to fireworks).

And make sure to check out the ASPCA’s list of plants, foods, and household products that are toxic to your furry family members. They even have a mobile app that you can download and take with you when you’re out shopping! And if your cat ever consumes something that you aren’t sure about, you can call the ASPCA’s Poison Control line at (888) 426-4435.

Q&A: Are Cats Usually Afraid of Water?

Q: My sister’s cat takes showers with her. I think this is weird. Aren’t cats afraid of water?

A:  Nope. In fact, a lot of cats are fascinated by water and like to play with water. The number of times people have asked me what to do about their cat’s fascination with toppling water bowls, drinking out of their bedside water glass, playing in the bathtub, etc. is too numerous for me to even put a number on.

Many cats don’t like getting wet unexpectedly, and some are very sensitive about water getting on their fur. They just don’t like the feel of it, but it doesn’t mean they are afraid of it.

Our little guy (Stiles, 21 months old) likes to knock over any container of fluid that he can. We have water fountains in every room so he can’t knock them over. We give him play time in the bath tub where he can perform his experiments in fluid dynamics to his little heart’s content. He used to do it every day. Now he asks to play about every 2 or 3 days, and the play sessions last about 20–30 minutes each.

Our Norwegian Forest Cat (Kagome) likes to dip her huge furry paw in the water and lick it off rather than drinking directly from the bowl. Maine Coons often do this as well.

Some cats love water so much that they enjoy swimming. Breeds that tend to enjoy a dip in the pool, bath, or even hop in the shower with their humans—just like your sister’s cat—include, but are not limited to:

  • Abyssinian
  • Manx
  • Japanese Bobtail
  • Turkish Van
  • Turkish Angora
  • Savannah
  • Bengal
  • American Bobtail

Here are some of my favorite videos of cats enjoying water:

 

Q&A: Why does my cat want me to watch her eat?

Q: My cat won’t eat unless I sit there with her and watch her eat. Why does she do this?

A: Eating is a time when cats are vulnerable. They are focused on eating, so they are less aware of their surroundings. Skittish cats are particularly prone to wanting their human to be near when they are in this vulnerable position. Kitty trusts you to have their back.

This is why those idiotic cucumber videos make me so angry. The cat is eating, totally focused on their food while a human (who is supposed to be a trusted ally) places a large green cucumber behind them. When the cat looks back, it is startled. This may look amusing, but it is among the cruelest things you can do without physically hurting the cat.

Cats don’t get practical jokes. The cat isn’t going to yuck it up with you later. The cat will be terrified in a place that it thought it was safe, and this can cause all kinds of psychological problems, and may lead to things like spraying the house with pee and other territorial issues.

Sorry about my tangent, but it does illustrate just how much trust cats put in us.

Stiles always has to have a person or one of the other cats next to him to eat more than a bite. He’s been this way since he was a tiny little guy, drinking kitten formula out of a saucer. He especially loves eating with Kiki near, partly because she won’t eat his wet food like Kagetora, but I think it’s also because she would often lay in my lap while I was syringe feeding him. I’d set him next to her in my lap, and that always got him to eat, even when he was feeling bad and didn’t want to.

He isn’t skittish at all. I think he just built a connection between eating and being with the people and cats he trusts and loves.