Archive for August, 2012

Cat Diagnosed With Diabetes? Don’t Panic!

insulin needle

This is an insulin needle. See how small it is? Photo by Sarah G at flickr.com

When one of my cats was diagnosed with diabetes, I panicked. When I found out he could get insulin and it wasn’t a death sentence, I relaxed a little. When I learned that I would have to give him shots of insulin, I panicked again. The thought of giving shots made me weak in the knees.

You have to understand that I am a wimp when it comes to medical stuff…I hate it and am not good at dealing with it. I also have had a lifelong fear of needles. Just seeing someone get a shot on TV would make me turn my head and feel shaky. So when I realized I would have to give Fluffy (I know, I couldn’t believe I named him that either!) shots of insulin, it was a terrifying moment.

My mom always said, “You do what you have to.” To be honest, I never really grasped what she was saying until this happened with Fluffy. So, I learned how to draw up the insulin and how to give the shots. I would do anything necessary for my babies and this was the “I have to do this” moment.

GIVING THE SHOTS

The vet instructed me to pinch some of Fluffy’s skin between my fingers and then stick the needle in there. Right. I ended up sticking myself more times than him. I found a wonderful method in a book I had that shows you how to grasp the skin and gently pull up, making a tent of sorts and then sticking the needle in that tented area. I also learned to gently pull the skin up and down a little while I was doing it. It worked beautifully and my fingers were protected too.

When I first started I would shake so uncontrollably while pulling up the insulin into the needle that I could hardly do it. Sounds silly, but that’s how nervous I was. I knew, however, that when I went into the room to give him his shot, I had to be very calm, for his sake. This is where you learn to “do what you have to.” Not sure how I did it, but I would take a deep breath and walk into that room as calm as a cucumber. Later it became so routine that it didn’t bother me at all.

giving a cat an insulin shot

Giving Honey an insulin shot.

VERY SMALL NEEDLES

One thing that helps is that the needles used for this are very small and very thin. I later had to give the same cat subcutaneous injections every day, but that’s another story (or post) entirely. Because of the size of the needle, I honestly don’t think he even felt it most of the time. Another tip is to put down some treats while giving the shot. They are distracted by eating and don’t notice as much. Another tip is to pull the skin toward the needle, while pushing the needle into the skin…sort of a dual action that makes it better than just poking the needle into the skin.

DON’T PANIC…YOU CAN DO IT!

While not everyone is as afraid of doing this as I was, I hope this helps anyone who is! Believe me, you can do it and it will become second nature to both you and your cat. Funny how life works. As a result of this I am not as queasy about needles anymore. I still don’t like being stuck by one, but I can see a needle on TV and not feel faint, a big accomplishment for me! Thank goodness we can control diabetes in our animals and it’s not an incurable disease. So if your cat is diagnosed, don’t panic…you will “do what you have to do” and it won’t be as hard as you think.

 

Dangerous Foods for Your Cat!

danger signI had heard not to give a cat chocolate, tuna that’s for humans, and aspirin. While I’ve always been careful what I fed them, I had no idea, until recently, how many “human” foods there were that are very dangerous for them.These can make them extremely sick and many can be fatal. One of my cats loved cantaloupe, avocado, artichokes and asparagus. I use to feed him all these things.

After reading several lists, I know I probably still don’t know all the bad foods, as each list has new ones the other list didn’t. So,  in my mind, it’s best to keep them on cat treats that are made especially for them. As my dear mom used to say, “Better safe than sorry.”

So here’s a  list of foods NOT to give them:

Tuna prepared for humans

Onions and garlic (also chives)

Milk

Grapes and raisins

Raw eggs

Dog food (and don’t let your dog eat cat food)

Yeast dough

Mushrooms

Raw meat and fish

Liver

Anything with the sweetener xylitol in it (found in many foods, including candies, baked goods and even toothpastes)

Caffeine (remember to think of all the sources of caffeine…tea, coffee, chocolate, soda pops)

Also, please don’t give your animal alcohol, marijuana or any human medications. I use baby food sometimes, but be sure to get the plain meat kind and check the ingredients. The other varieties usually have onion powder in them. Another note on human medications: some are alright for your cat, but ALWAYS check with your vet first before using them.

I guess as tempting as it is to give them a taste of your dinner when they’re begging for some of it, it’s best to keep some cat treats there to give them instead. I was shocked at some of these foods that I would never have thought could cause them harm and so I just play it safe now. As I said, there may be others I don’t know about.

If your cat does eat something bad, call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

The Great Debate: Canned vs. Dry

canned cat food

Photo by sskennel at Flickr.com I'm not pushing Fancy Feast, although that's what I feed my cats, I just liked the picture!

I can remember for years I was told by vets to feed my cats only dry food. Canned food would make them fat, wasn’t good for their teeth…whatever. I have always fed my cats both types of food. I felt guilty for years that I gave them canned food. Now, the tides have turned. It turns out that canned food is important to make sure they get enough fluids.

Cats, for some reason I’ve never figured out or heard explained, are not big water drinkers. If they are, it usually means they are sick. If your cat is drinking tons of water you need to have him checked out by your vet. They normally don’t drink that much, so they are prone to urinary problems.

Eating only dry food doesn’t help this problem and so canned has become a good way to make sure they are getting enough water. What a relief to finally stop feeling like the worst cat mama in the world every time I opened up that can. I always thought that we should all have different textures of food. It would be like if we only ate dry cereal and other dry foods…I just can’t imagine this would be good for you or your digestive system! I thought this must be true for cats too. Turned out maybe I was right!

It is just common sense to me, but I have found too often that the medical world doesn’t seem to factor common sense into things. That’s not to say that they don’t know best most of the time, but I also trust my own instincts and often they are right on.  So, go ahead and open those cans…you’ll be helping your cats get the water they need.

I have to say here that, obviously, if your cat has a particular problem that would make canned food bad for them, then ask your vet first.

 

Cat Furniture: Your Cats Own Playground

You get your kids a swing set for the yard with a slide and other fun things to play on. I think of cat furniture…cat trees, cat towers, cat condos…they have all  kinds of names, as your cat’s own playground.  Cat furniture has come a long way. There are so many different sizes and styles to choose from and they have added some great additions, from scratching posts to baskets. I can remember when all you could get was something very small and basic and the colors were absolutely horrible! The ones they have now are actually an attractive addition to your home.

I think it’s important for your cat to have something that’s totally his. A safe place that he can go to when scared or a place to take a nap. The larger and taller cat trees are perfect, especially if you have more than one cat. What cat doesn’t like to sit way up high and stare down at you? I know mine do!

Most of them have sisal scratching posts now, which I can’t recommend enough. They love the sisal and this has cut way down on them scratching the furniture.

Another huge benefit is that it keeps them active and helps with weight loss. I noticed this when one of  my cats was overweight and I bought a large cat tree. I noticed she was losing weight and I hadn’t really changed her diet. Call me stupid, but it took me awhile to realize that all the climbing and playing she was doing on the cat tree was what was helping her lose the weight. They also help them keep limber and agile.

Cat furniture is a win-win situation. I have found the best place to buy it is from Amazon or Wayfair. I will have links to both below. I have to tell you that these are affiliate sites of mine, meaning that if you click on them and buy something, I get a small commission. You have my word that I will never send you to a site that I haven’t either used myself or that I don’t have a high regard for. The reason I say to buy them here is that you can find some great prices. The pet stores are so high priced for these items that I eventually started hunting online and that’s how I came to use Amazon and Wayfair.

There are many more places online to buy cat furniture from too, these just happen to be my favorites. Wherever you buy it, be sure to get something big enough to give them plenty of room to play on. And remember, if you have a kitten, they will grow fast and so a larger one will be money saved down the road.

Your cat will have a ball and so will you…watching them play is a joy! Also remember that cats take awhile to check things out, so if they don’t immediately take to it, give it time. Another trick is to sprinkle a little catnip on it. They will use it when they have decided it’s “safe”…cats are so cautious! One more tip: put it in an out of the way spot so they will feel secure and cozy!

These are just a few from Amazon: Just click on the pic to get all the details!

 

 

Wayfair has some great prices and great products! Again, click on the banner to check out what they have to offer!