Category Archives: Julia Williams

6 Things Kids Need to Know About Living with Cats

kids and cats TinaBy Julia Williams

Children can form a loving relationship with the family cat that will enrich their lives in so many ways. A close bond between cat and child won’t happen by accident though. As the parent and responsible pet owner, you need to do your part to make sure your children know what to expect when living with a cat. You also need to be sure that the home environment is both kid-safe and cat-safe. Here are six important things children need to know about living with cats.

Cats are Not Toys

In a child’s eyes, a cute, fluffy cat may resemble that stuffed animal she plays with and takes to bed at night. They need to be taught that cats are not inanimate toys but living beings with daily needs that need to be met, including food, water, grooming and cleaning up after them. Children also need to understand that animals experience pain, fear, love and many other emotions, and need to be treated kindly at all times. Your kids might think it’s fun to put doll clothes on the cat and lug her around like a baby, but not all cats will like this. Forcing a cat to do things it finds frightening or objectionable will hinder bonding and may even lead to your cat avoiding the child at all costs.

Learn to Read the Cat’s Body Language

Understanding what the cat is trying to convey through body language is such an important thing for children to learn. As individual beings, cats have different likes and dislikes, and varying degrees of tolerance. What all cats have in common, however, is that they will give off warning signals before resorting to biting or scratching to get away when they’ve had enough petting or don’t want further interaction with you. Kids – and parents – just need to know what that tail, eyes, ears, whiskers and legs are “saying.” My article, How to Read the Body Language of Cats, will give you detailed information.
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Tooth Resorption in Cats and Dogs

tooth resorption makiaBy Julia Williams

A few months ago I took my cat, Annabelle, in for a routine checkup. After a thorough exam, my vet told me that Annabelle had a painful condition called tooth resorption. This came as a complete surprise, as Annabelle had been acting her normal happy self, she was eating well and seemed to be in perfect health.

I hadn’t noticed any abnormal behavior, and Annabelle did not act like she was in any discomfort when she was scarfing her CANIDAE wet food or her treats. My vet explained that even though tooth resorption is known to be quite painful, in most cases our pets don’t show outward signs until it’s become extremely uncomfortable. This is a largely a survival instinct, since an animal in the wild who showed weakness would be vulnerable to a predator.

What is Tooth Resorption?

Although tooth resorption is similar in appearance to the cavities humans get in their teeth, there is a difference. Cavities are caused by bacterial decay which begins at the tooth’s hard outer surface (the enamel) and progresses toward the interior of the tooth. With tooth resorption, the damage begins inside the tooth with “resorptive lesions” which are caused by cells eating away at the tooth. A tooth that is affected by resorptive lesions will erode and eventually disappear entirely as it is absorbed back into the animal’s body. As a tooth disintegrates, the dentin (inner part of the tooth) and nerve are exposed, causing extreme sensitivity and a great deal of pain.tooth resorption rick

Tooth resorption occurs primarily in cats, but dogs can get it too, as can larger cats such as tigers, lions, cheetahs and leopards. Tooth resorption in domestic housecats is a common condition that affects as many as 50% of cats over three years old.

What Causes Tooth Resorption?

Some studies suggest that an excess of vitamin D in the diet may play a role in tooth resorption; other theories support that it’s an autoimmune response. However, at the present time there is no definitive answer as to what causes the resorptive lesions. What is known is that once an animal develops one resorptive lesion, it’s highly likely that other teeth will also be affected.

Is Tooth Resorption Preventable?

Unfortunately, until it’s understood what causes the resorptive lesions to occur, there is no way to prevent them. Pets that have resorptive lesions in one tooth often have them in other teeth.

How is Tooth Resorption Diagnosed?

Some things to watch for include excessive salivation, bleeding in the mouth and difficulty eating. (You might notice, for example, that your pet appears to only be chewing on one side of her mouth). As I mentioned earlier, however, some pets with tooth resorption may exhibit no outward signs; in this case, the condition will be discovered when your vet examines your pet’s mouth.

Some resorptive lesions can be seen, while others are hidden below the gum. If a lesion is suspected, your vet may use a probe such as a cotton swab. When the lesion is touched by the probe, it causes pain resulting in chattering and jaw spasms. tooth resorption danielleRadiographs (x-rays) are extremely helpful not only in making a definitive diagnosis, especially for the hidden resorptive lesions, but also for treatment planning.

How is Tooth Resorption Treated?

Tooth resorptions can be seen on radiographs in many different stages, depending upon how long the tooth has been affected and how fast it is resorbing. Unfortunately, there is no reliable treatment and extraction of the affected tooth (or teeth) is usually recommended. If the disease has significantly progressed and the resorbing tooth has already fused to the jawbone, the veterinary surgeon may recommend amputation of the tooth instead of extraction. Radiographs while under general anesthesia will help your vet determine which procedure is best.

Top photo by Makia Minich/Flickr
Middle photo by Rick Wasser/Flickr
Bottom photo by Danielle Kellogg/Flickr

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5 Tips for Litter Box Training a Kitten

cat box abbamouseBy Julia Williams

Teaching a young kitten to use its litter box is generally not a long or complicated process. For starters, learning to use the box is largely instinctive for a feline. Further, if the kitten lived indoors with Mom for its first few weeks, it may have already been “shown the ropes” and will adjust to a new box in a new home almost immediately.

That being said, there are some things you can do to make the process go as smoothly as possible. Make no mistake, proper litter box training is very important, because establishing good habits early on is the best way to avoid future issues.

The Box

Most litter boxes are made from heavy duty plastic, which is easy to clean and very durable. I recently also came across a disposable litter box made from recycled paper. It was on the small side and had a low entrance, which is perfect for a little kitten to be able to enter and exit comfortably. A small cat box is fine for a kitten, but just be aware that they will outgrow it and you’ll eventually need to get a larger one for your adult cat. The cat box will need to be big enough for your cat to turn around in and scratch around in it comfortably.

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10 Pet-Friendly Companies

pet friendly JeremyBy Julia Williams

I’ve long thought that one of the best things about working from my home office (other than no commute) is that I get to be with my feline friends every day. I love taking “kitty cuddle” breaks, and it’s just nice to have some company while I write. Were I to ever hang up my freelance hat for a job outside the home, I think this transition would be difficult for me. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but I believe the cats wouldn’t like it much either.

Dog lovers who work outside the home face a similar situation. True, they do have Take Your Dog to Work Day which is a nice idea, but it’s just one day in June. What if there were companies that let dog lovers bring their canine best friend to their workplace on a regular basis … maybe even every single day? Wouldn’t that be cool? Well, it turns out there are lots of dog-friendly companies where you can do just that!

According to The American Pet Product Manufacturers Association (APPMA), nearly one in five American companies allows pets in the workplace. Many pet-friendly companies also have perks like discounted pet insurance and organized dog walks. Some even allow cats in the workplace, although I’m not sure how many kitties would think that’s a good idea.

If you’re in the market for a new job and think taking Fido to work with you would be pawsome, the website lists dog-friendly employers in every state; you can see what pet-friendly companies are in your state here. Below, in alphabetical order, are just a few of the companies known to have pet friendly policies.

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Choosing Healthy Treats for Your Dog or Cat

pet treats MartinBy Julia Williams

We have a bedtime ritual here that my three cats look forward to (I know, because if I forget, they are quick to remind me!). The ritual is simple: first, I give the cat treat bag a few shakes and voila – kitties appear instantly, as if by magic. I then dole out their individual allotment of the treats, and watch as they scarf up every last crumb. My cats like this ritual because they get yummy treats, and I like it because it lets me do a quick head count before I say my goodnights.

My cats love the CANIDAE PURE Taste cat treats. They dance around the kitchen in feverish excitement, and their loud meows and purrs let me know they think these grain free treats are the bomb. Dutiful Cat Servant that I am, my job is to give my feline friends what they want … BUT only if it’s good for them. So I enjoy the ritual because I know I’m giving them treats that not only taste great (so I’ve heard, haven’t eaten any myself) and make them happy, but they’re healthy for them too. June Cleaver would approve of these treats, I’m sure!

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7 Tips on Caring for Senior Cats

Senior Cat MickeyBy Julia Williams

One of my cats is 16 now, and the other two are 12. As such, I have been researching the topic of senior cat care quite a bit in recent years. I love my cats like family, and I want to do everything in my power to keep them healthy and happy for many more years. Though there may be some things outside of my control, there are steps I can take now and in the future that will positively impact the longevity of my beloved fur babies. I’ll cover some of them briefly in this post.

When Does a Cat Reach “Senior” Age?

The funny thing about this question is that the answer depends upon who you ask. Some cat experts put the senior age as low at 7, while others say it’s more like 10 or 11. There is no “absolute” age that classifies a cat as senior. This is due in part because, like humans, some cats age faster than others. If your cat is 10 years or older – about the equivalent of a 56-60 year old human – you can safely assume they are a senior.

Vet Checkups

As a cat ages, health issues are bound to arise. The best way to help ensure longevity is to catch problems as early as possible. Early detection of age-related conditions and illnesses will enable you and your veterinarian treat them more successfully. Many health issues can be delayed and/or managed provided they are caught in the beginning stages. Since cats are quite good at hiding illness and may not appear unwell to you even when there is an underlying issue, a wellness check every six months is recommended. For a senior cat, six months is about the same as you seeing your doctor every two years, which is certainly long enough for health changes to occur.

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