Tag Archives: cats

Fosters Wanted

These Foster Families Hope You’ll Join Them in the Fight to Save Adoptable Animals

by Barb Natividad

Sven MemePet-lovers often wonder what kind of people are able to foster pets who are waiting for permanent homes. The answer: people just like you.

Her kids got Stephanie Anctil, who fosters dogs, involved as a foster parent. “My children wanted another dog. I was afraid they would lose interest, and I would end up caring for a new dog. So my cousin, Nikki Senecal, who works in communications with ACDC, suggested that we try fostering dogs instead. This way, my kids could get to experience many different dogs and see how much work is involved.”

Laurie Marshall, who fosters rabbits, also began fostering at the behest of her children: in her case, her daughter had a high school community service requirement. Laurie and her family had never had pets before–and Laurie points out that fostering can be a great fit for families that are currently pet-free. “Fostering is the perfect solution for people who don’t want a permanent pet. A big concern for parents is that kids will lose interest in a pet and then the parents have to take care of it. That is far less of a problem when fostering, plus a family can get a realistic sense of what’s involved in caring for a pet. I love the flexibility of being able to take a break between foster rabbits if needed, too.”

Fostering is also a great way for kids to learn about responsibility towards animals; Laurie’s daughter now pet sits for other rabbit owners. Even four-legged family members can get involved. Stephanie’s eight-year-old dog, Jet, is an important part of her family’s fostering solution. “Jet models good behavior on walks, in the car. He will correct the puppies much like a mother dog would.”

The time commitment for fostering is less than people might expect, says Kim Butler, who fosters cats and has been doing so for thirty years (even before she joined ACDC). She fosters cats while also caring for her own pets, although she keeps her own animals separate from the fosters. It may sound like she lives in a mansion, but Kim points out “you don’t need a lot of space for cats.”

So, if anyStellaball-Memeone can be a good fosterer, what makes someone successful at it? On that, Stephanie, Laurie, and Kim all agree: a good foster parent is someone who cares about animals, wants to be involved with them, and is willing to be patient, responsible, and consistent as they work with their new pets.

And these three foster parents also agree that the satisfaction that comes from seeing them adopted into a permanent home is ample reward. As Stephanie says, “It’s very rewarding when you make a good match between owner and dog and see a great friendship begin. My children have become attached to a few of our fosters, but once they meet the loving adoptive families, the kids are excited for the dog and his new family.” And Kim agrees, “the best part of fostering is finding a new home for the animals, and getting thank you e-mails from the new adopters.”

Interested in fostering an adoptable cat, dog, or rabbit? Attend ACDC’s information session September 10, 6:30 pm at the Newtown Square Library. RSVP: info@acdc.ws

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Caring for Purrla Deen

by Nikki Senecal

Purrla Deen is ready for adoption.

Purrla Deen was in so much pain she stopped eating. Her teeth hurt, and she needed emergency dental surgery. After having six teeth pulled, she had to be syringe fed a liquid diet. Today, she is back on her special diabetic diet food, and she seems much happier. But her life has never been easy.

Purrla was found in a vacant house in Philadelphia by the new tenants. They took her to the veterinarian, for tests, got her spayed and vaccinated and tried to find her a new home without success. Ten months later, they relocated to New York but were unable to take Purrla along. Fortunately, she found her way to the Animal Coalition of Delaware County. Once there, she was diagnosed as diabetic, hence the special diet. For the better part of two years, she’s been on and off insulin while her foster care givers try to manage her blood glucose levels.

In many ways, she is a lucky cat. It is ACDC’s policy not to adopt out sick animals, but rather to treat them, getting their illnesses under control before our pets join their new homes. Of course, this takes money. If you would like to help cover the costs of surgeries like Purrla Deen’s, click here.

With her bad teeth removed, her foster mom thinks “she will start coming out of her shell a little more.” Even so, Purrla Deen tends to believe “she is the queen of everything and does not hesitate to let visitors know it.” She just got a cute lion cut and is ready for the next phase of her life, which she hopes will be uneventfully happy in a forever home.

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My Cat Has What?

By Betsey Cichoracki

Herpes. Ever since high school health class that word has prompted “ewws” and “gross!” in the minds of many. So when our vet informed me that our cat Coal has herpes, I thought “ewww” before even learning what feline herpes really is. Turns out a herpes virus means many things among many species. Continue reading

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The Stinky Cat Chronicles: This Article Has Me Pooped!

The Tidy Cat Whisperer has finally emerged from the pile of fan mail and is ready to deliver her next article. Well, let me clarify one thing: the Tidy Cat Whisperer (TCW-that’s me) doesn’t get any fan mail-all the nice, cutesy fan mail is for the Stinky Cat, who apparently is a celebrity in his own right. The only “fan” mail TCW gets is more like the mail Dear Abby gets (“TCW, help! My cat won’t stop peeing on the bed,” “Dear TCW-how can I tell if my adolescent cat is using drugs,” “TCW, help! My cat is a catnipaholic! Is there a 12-step program,” etc).

In general, most of the mail we get is regarding cats that are peeing outside the litter box. But lately all our mail has just turned to crap-literally.  Cats having issues with Number Two is really a hot button all of a sudden. Now, as someone who grew up in a household with only one bathroom can tell you, the process of defecation is extremely important-for people and cats as we will see.  A special shout out to all those fathers who on Sunday morning take the entire newspaper into the loo for an hour while the rest of us stand with our legs crossed and the matches ready. When I bought my first house the only requirement I had was that it have two bathrooms, I really didn’t care about anything else…..

There are several medical conditions that can cause your cat to have abnormal stools, or to begin defecating outside the box. Let’s briefly look at the most common-and hopefully everyone has finished their breakfast or dinner as this is NOT an article to read while eating!

Colitis is an inflammation of the colon, and can be a cause of “litterbox issues.” From the outside, it is impossible to tell if your cat has colitis as your cat will look perfectly normal to you. The giveaway is what they leave behind in the litter box. If their stool has frequent mucous and occasional flecks of blood, then it’s time for a trip to the vet. Also watch for vomiting. If you can, try and observe your cat when they are in the process of doing “number two.” Due to the inflammation in the colon, cats with colitis may have severe pain when defecating – they may actually try and stop the defecation process, which results in constipation. There may also be diarrhea-at any rate, none of this is a normal defecation process. Your vet will most likely want to examine the stool for any signs of intestinal parasites, and may also do a rectal exam and possibly a biopsy of the colon wall. Your vet will probably prescribe a bland diet to help the colon rest and heal, and it’s possible your cat will be eating a bland, easily digestible diet for life. Antibiotics may also be prescribed to help control bacterial causes, and other medications such as prednisone may be used.

Cats can also develop a condition called Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), in which the intestine is consistently invaded by inflammatory cells. The most common symptoms of IBD are diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss. According to Dr. Jennifer F. Johnson, VMD, the type of IBD is determined by what kind of inflammatory cells are invading the intestinal tract. The different types of IBD are: lymphocytic-plasmacytic, eosinophilic, or neutrophilic. Each type is characterized by the type of cells that become inflamed  – kind of like the difference between VHS, Beta, DVD, and HD/DVD –they’re all in the same ballpark but sit in different rows.  Cats can also develop IBD which is cancerous. This type of cancer of the intestines is usually classified as a Lymphoma.  Lymphoma of the intestines will present with the same signs as a cat with non-cancerous IBD.  The good news is that the majority of cats with IBD do not have cancer.  

IBD is considered idiopathic in many cases (cause unknown). Some vets believe that IBD in cats is an autoimmune disorder.  The only way to definitively diagnose IBD is by performing surgical biopsies of the intestines. Once the diagnosis is made, and the type of IBD is known, treatment can be started. IBD is generally a chronic condition which is not cured, but managed through diet and medication. Various types of diets generally are tried in order to rule out specific food intolerance.

I have fostered a few cats that had IBD and they generally seemed to do well on a limited ingredient diet. A limited ingredient diet is just what the name implies: the ingredients are limited to a specific few which have been proven to be tolerable to the cat’s digestive system. Studies have shown that some ingredients are more likely to cause issues than others. In cats, the most common offenders are beef, lamb, seafood, corn, soy, dairy products, and wheat gluten. In a limited ingredient diet, the protein is provided by a combination of green peas and either duck, rabbit, or venison, which are rarely associated with adverse food reactions in cats. Hill’s DD or ZD diets are veterinary prescription diets and are sold exclusively at your vet’s office, as are prescription diets by other manufacturers such as Royal Canin, Purina, and Iams. If your vet approves, you may also be able to manage your cat’s diet with Natural Balance Limited Ingredient Diets, which are not prescription, a bit less expensive, and can be purchased at local pet supply stores.

Another medical reason for your cat to avoid defecating in the litter box is anal gland disease. According to Dr. Johnson, all “predators,” be they the domestic ones like cats, dogs, or wild ones like the occasional skunk in your backyard, have anal glands-they just use them differently. (We all know how skunks uses theirs!) The glands have a secretion which cats and dogs use at times to mark their territory. Every time your cat makes a “doo-doo,” the surrounding muscles should put enough pressure on the anal glands so that they discharge some of this secretion.

However, the glands can become impacted, infected, and abscessed. Affected pets may lick the anal area, ‘scoot’ along the floor, or have problems with defecation. A trip to the vet is in order. The “easy” way out: the vet will have to manually “express” the glands, everyone holds their noses and then all is hunk-dory. The “hard” way out: if there is an abscess, it may need to be lanced. In severe cases, surgery may be required. If your cat has chronic impactions of the anal glands, your vet may suggest a high-fiber diet. The added fiber or bulk in the diet should put more pressure on the anal glands and hopefully result in a more normal stool with some anal expression. Sometimes your vet might also prescribe a food additive similar to a Metamucil or other fiber product to help “move things along.”

We know it’s a stinky job but for the good of your cat’s health it is always smart to occasionally observe your cat’s bathroom habits, and any unusual behavior or “output” should be noted and reported to your veterinarian. As always, Happy Scooping!

Acknowledgements to Dr. Jennifer F. Johnson, VMD, owner of Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital for medical input, explanations and terms where noted.

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JoJo Comes Home!

Lynette and JoJo

U.S. Airways Flight Attendant Lynette Siple arrives at Philadelphia International Airport with JoJo in hand!

Earlier this month, the Animal Coalition of Delaware County (ACDC) learned that JoJo, who had been adopted through ACDC two years ago had been surrendered to Cumberland County Animal Services in Fayetteville, N.C. The shelter contacted ACDC after scanning JoJo for a microchip. The microchip’s registration had never been changed and thus, JoJo’s owner came up as ACDC.

ACDC is incredibly grateful to Danielle Dumas and all of the staff members at Cumberland County Animal Services for not only taking the time to scan JoJo, but to also contact and work with ACDC. The shelter could only keep JoJo for 10 days. ACDC wanted to ensure JoJo had a long and happy life and knew they had to do something. But what? They put an e-mail plea out to all of their supporters for help.

Enter Lynette Siple of Drexel Hill, Pa., a U.S. Airways Flight Attendant and animal lover. Lynette offered to fly JoJo home with her! On her day off last Thursday (October 7), while in-between flights, Siple picked JoJo up at the shelter in North Carolina, took him to a vet for vaccines so that he would be cleared to fly, and then boarded a U.S. Airways flight bound for Philadelphia with JoJo! JoJo even got to fly first class with Siple in some very comfy seats.

Kim Butler, ACDC’s Cat Department Director, met Siple and JoJo at the airport, where there was great celebration! Though JoJo was a little spooked from his busy day, he came through with flying colors. Butler took JoJo to Stoney Creek Veterinary Hospital, where he was given a full examination and brought up to date on his vaccinations. JoJo will soon be reunited with Karen Chaya of Drexel Hill, who was his ACDC foster mom two years ago before he was adopted. JoJo will be available for adoption in two weeks. This time, he truly hopes to find the family that will care for him forever! Thank goodness for JoJo’s many guardian angels, especially Lynette Siple, Danielle Dumas, and Cumberland County Animal Services!

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Thinking “Inside” The Box…Which Litter box Is Right For Your Cat?

 By Kim Butler and her cat….

“Hey folks, Stinky Cat here: The Tidy Cat Whisperer (TCW) is exhausted from scooping and is taking a nap right now, so I’m going to write this blog post for her. I know the topic very well since I’m the one who uses the stinkin’ thing. I just wish people would ask us cats first before they start messing with our stuff.  I mean, let’s get real: I’m the cat and I’m the one who has to sit in it, so in the future could ya just ask us for OUR opinion first before you design these things?”

In a previous post, TCW mentioned the fact that there are more litter box designs now than Imelda Marcos had shoes (or was it Michelle Obama’s sleeveless dresses? Whatever). Anyway, let’s start at the beginning. Litter boxes have come a long way in the past 50-60 years. Back in the “day” (circa 1930-1940 era), many cats were indoor/outdoor cats, and simply did their “business” outside. Along the way, some kind soul thought that providing a container for cats to relieve themselves indoors was a great idea-especially when living in Minnesota where the temperature is below freezing more often than not. Many of these containers were homemade, certainly not fancy, and filled with sand or ash from recently burnt wood so that cats could “cover up the evidence,” as is their natural instinct. Cleaning a litter box filled with sand or ash however was quite a messy adventure, and as a result not many cats were strictly indoor cats-until the advent of “kitty litter” in 1947.

With the invention of “kitty litter,” cats moved indoors and their popularity soared. And, as a result, a whole new opportunity opened up for entrepreneurs: the design and manufacturing of litter boxes. Nowadays, it’s just not enough to present your cat with a plastic rectangular tray filled with litter-no sirree, we now have an entire section of the store devoted to nothing but litter boxes. It’s like ordering take out from a Chinese restaurant: there are just too many items to pick from. Well, TCW has done some of the legwork for you, and once she wakes up-ooh, well there she is, “well Good Morning Tidy Cat Whisperer, do you have any words of wisdom on litter box choices for us? While you were napping I took the liberty of filling the masses in on the history of the litter box as we know it….”

“Thanks, Stinky Cat I think I can take it from here.”

 Yes, we have an enormous selection of boxes in so many shapes and sizes. Some boxes look like furniture. Some look like plastic igloos (“Nanook of the Litter Scoop”). Some boxes look like a Rube Goldberg invention with so many twists and turns you wonder how the cat will ever extricate itself. I do have a few I can recommend, having personal experience with them.  The most important factor is: if the cat is happy and is using it. All the other factors (is the owner happy) are secondary.

The most basic litterbox may be the one my cats are the most happiest with. It is made by Rubbermaid, is not covered, and has a high back and sidewalls to keep litter from flying everywhere. And it’s inexpensive, at around $17. My 3-legged cat especially loves it, as it has a scooped out entry way making it easy for her to get in and out of. I have six of these currently in use. They are easy to clean and manage and worth every penny.

I have also tried the “Booda Clean-Step” (The one that looks like the Igloo). At $34, it’s getting up there in price. While the concept is nice (keeping the litter from being tracked/kicked all over), the reality is that it is difficult to clean and manage, especially the “stairway”.  The lid is especially hard to clean, and when the urine gets in the crevices, it will smell no matter what you clean it with. Unless you like to work extra hard, I would stay away from this one.

The other litter box that gets the most use in my house is the Clevercat. I have a couple of cats that like to get in the litter box, then not bother to turn around and urinate towards the back of the box like normal cats do-they prefer to urinate towards the front of the box-which means it sprays out of the box.  With The Clevercat, it’s a top entry box-they climb on top of it then climb down into the box where they can do their business in total privacy-and WITH NO MESS. It’s easy to clean-and the lid doubles as a mat! Everyone in my house loves it-my 17-year-old cat uses it, even my three-legged cat uses it with no trouble at all. It’s around $34, which is up there-but trust me, if your guys like to make a mess, it’s well worth it. I have four of these.

Of all the litter boxes I have tried, the two I most recommend are the Rubbermaid and the Clevercat. In my book, everything else would be a waste of money. And that’s it from The Tidy Cat Whisperer. Happy Scooping!

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Does the Fourth of July cause your pet to panic?

By Nikki Senecal

When I was growing up, we had a 125-pound Doberman Pinscher. Many people were scared of Humphrey, but there was only one thing he was frightened by: thunder. At the first sign of a summer storm, he would huddle under the dining room table shaking pathetically. It made you want to crawl under the table to hug and reassure him.

That, it turns out, is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Animals who are frightened by loud noises—like thunder or 4th of July fireworks–shouldn’t be babied; that can reinforce the fearful behavior. Nor should you punish an animal for his fears.

Finding A Place to Feel Safe
Letting your dog or cat find a place where they feel safe, however, is one of the many things you can do to help ease phonophobia, whether the cause is thunderstorms, fireworks, or the vacuum cleaner. Allow your cat to hide out under the bed or in a small space. Perhaps put a bed in a closet and let them know it is there. Leave your dog’s crate open—and throw a blanket over it to create a more cave-like space. Rabbits and guinea pigs should be given extra bedding, so they can burrow for comfort.  Wherever your pet finds comfort, don’t try to lure them out; it could increase their stress.

When you know loud noises will occur, like the upcoming 4th of July holiday, your pets should be inside. Make sure the doors and windows are closed, in case the stress causes your pet to attempt an escape. To prepare for this possibility, make sure Fluffy and Fido’s tags are attached and up-to-date.

You could try turning on a radio or television loudly to drown out the outdoor sounds. Your pet is used to having strange sounds come from these devices.

Training
Desensitization training may work for your dog. This technique involves exposing your dog to low levels of the anxiety producing noise while performing positive activities, like obedience training or playing games. However, trainers usually recommend starting this training before you need the dog to behave. Dogs who are afraid of fireworks, should be trained during the winter, for example.

Find a recording of the noise that your pet is afraid of. While playing the sounds at a barely audible volume, engage your pet in an activity like obedience or trick training. Give food or other rewards during the activity when the pet accomplishes what he is supposed to. If your dog shows signs of fear, stop and try again later, playing the recording at an even lower level. It is important that you don’t reward your pup while he is fearful or anxious. Sessions should last about five to 10 minutes.

As training progresses, gradually increase the volume for each session. Because dogs aren’t good at generalizing, you should repeat the exercise in various rooms. When your pup does not show fear when the recording is played at a loud volume, you may want to try playing the recording when you are away from the house for a short time. When Fido appears to have lost his fear, the sessions can be reduced to one per week. These sessions may need to be repeated at regular intervals over the course of your time together. Finally, during a storm or the Fourth of July, use the same activities and rewards you used in the training sessions.

Medication

  • Appeasing pheromones are available for both dogs (DAP) and cats (Feliway). These chemicals mimic the pheromones produced by lactating mothers that give puppies and kittens a sense of well-being. The result is a calmer, less stressed animal.
  • Melatonin can be used in both dogs and cats. Several articles published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medicine Association show that melatonin has a sedative effect. One trainer I know uses it for her German Shepherds who are afraid of thunderstorms.
  • Other medications, like xanax, can be prescribed by your veterinarian if your pet has more severe anxiety.

Although some of these treatments are available without a prescription, you should discuss all of these options with your vet.

Alternative Therapies
Anxiety Wrap – According to some experts, pressure applied to large areas of the body can be comforting. Although no scientific studies have been done on this therapy, T-Touch and Temple Grandin’s “Hug Machine” are both examples of this theory put in practice. There are a number of “maintained pressure” jackets available on the market.

Whatever you do, project a calm attitude. Your pet looks to you for guidance. If you show no fear, it may be calming for your rabbit, guinea pig, dog, or cat. Have a safe and happy Fourth of July!

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