Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Hello Interwebs.. we be da KITTIES!

The little silver boy showed up some time after I posted on Saturday about their birth. I had left after she started cleaning up after herself and was settling down. I gave her belly the once over and I didn't feel anything obvious and she wasn't having contractions, but apparently that little silver bullet was in there waiting to pop out as a surprise.

I changed out the bedding on Sunday and found we have three girls and two boys. I was thinking of calling MommaKitty Mina and naming the kittens after monsters but finding three female monster names hasn't been easy.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Natural Dry Cat Food Option by @onlynaturalpet #PawNatural #Sponsored #ad

This post is sponsored by Only Natural Pet®, and the BlogPaws Professional Pet Blogger Network. I am being compensated for helping spread the word about Only Natural Pet Feline PowerFood, but Tails from the Foster Kittens only shares information I feel is relevant to my readers. Only Natural Pet is not responsible for the content of this article.

Only Natural Pet contacted the BlogPaws network to get the word out about their new dry cat food. I hesitated a bit before signing up since I am such an advocate for species appropriate foods, but then I told myself that I willingly feed dry food to my foster kittens and I am all for 'know better, do better' approach to nutrition. I know a lot of people are still feeding dry foods for a variety of different reasons, and I think many of them would appreciate knowing there are options out there beyond the brands they can get locally.

"Only Natural Pet Feline PowerFood Dry Cat Food" (You can pre-order here, but it currently says available after May 26th, available for purchase exclusively on onlynaturalpet.com, Pet360.com, and Petfooddirect.com starting on April 1st! ) was created with the help of holistic veterinarian Dr. Jean Hofve. Dr. Hofve who is a part of the website Little Big Cat which was instrumental in getting me started down the road of proper cat nutrition. Prior to my finding that website most of the nutritional information I consumed about my cats came from my vets and I had no idea that my vets had very little nutritional training when it came to the needs of cats and I saw no need to change what I was feeding my cats even when someone I knew online mentioned she as going to try raw food for her cats. When I saw Dr. Hofve's name attached to this food, I said sign me right up! I was accepted and I was given the Poultry Dinner to test.

Only Natural Pet wants you to know that this food is grain and soy free and has no corn, wheat, oats or potatoes.. all great things and it can help make it an allergy-friendly cat food. It is also 76% animal-based ingredients. Each piece of kibble is infused with their proprietary Powerboost Blend™ which is a special coating of mussels, pumpkin, sea cucumber, probiotics, and enzymes. The first three ingredients in both the poultry and the Fish & Foul recipes are animal based. I like that they focus on protein and fat to help the cats thrive.

And of some importance.. it is made in the USA. Only Natural Pet believes in manufacturing in small batches so the food is never sitting around for long periods of time and they are taking steps to be planet friendly; from the use of 100% wind power to a zero waste initiative..

This food arrived just as I was taking on my new foster kitty, so I brought the bag of kibble down to her to give it a go. I had previously given her some Wellness kitten kibble and she wasn't that interested in it. When I offered the PowerFood, she dug in and ate some right away, which she did not do with the Wellness. Over the course of the days she has gone back to it, but she has not finished off the first bowl; she has been very picky. She has scoffed at a few of my attempts to get her to eat foods she was not interested in. Right now she is all about the kitten food, and since she is producing kittens, I'm all for feeding it to her.

I thought you might enjoy some photos of my cats checking out the food. Fortunately Jack was sleeping in front of the fireplace so I didn't have to worry about his getting any, since I'm still so paranoid about his getting any dry right now.

One nice thing about Only Natural Pet, is they are currently offering this food in one pound bags so you can give this a try without a huge commitment. They offer one pound bags for $3.99 but they are currently on sale for $1.99 and ten pound bags for $29.99 on sale for $23.99. Shipping is $6.99 but it is free if you spend $79 - which I am sure would be very easy to do since they sell a wide variety of treats and toys and holistic vitamins and supplements as well as litter and grooming supplies. Or if you are in Colorado, you can stop into their store!

And of course, you can always check them out on social media! They are on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and YouTube.

and if you are bipetual, this brand also makes a dog food.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Happy Birth Day Kittens!

I've been getting signals from MommaKitty since fairly shortly after she showed up that she was ready to give birth to kittens, but she kept not doing it.  I was hoping once again she would give birth overnight but when I showed up on Saturday morning - no kittens. She gobbled her breakfast down and nothing really seemed out of the ordinary.  Her stools were a bit soft and smelly so I grabbed a sample and took it down to the shelter.

When I got home I was tired so I went to take a nap. I asked my husband to check in on the her and if she was with kittens to let me know but if not to let me sleep. He didn't show up so I took a nap. I woke up and we watched a little tv, and I went down to give her some dinner and check on things. When I showed up she didn't come out like she normally does.  I looked around and called for her and I could hear her purring. The cat condo was way from the cabinet so I had a feeling she was in there, so I took a peek..

She didn't hop out when I found her, and I heard a squeak, so I immediately shut the door and went upstairs for my camera. I was so very glad she went into that side of the cabinet with the highly washable fitted sheets that I use on the futon as opposed to the other side which has two large hand made afghans, because she made an absolute mess.. there was blood and afterbirth everywhere.

After I pulled the sheets out I saw two kittens, one riding on the back of the other. The cabinet was a mess, so I decided to pull the two kittens out and put them in the basket I bought just for this occasion. MommaKitty followed them, and I saw a third kitten, so I took that one too and reunited the family.

I cleaned up the mess and put a towel down in case she really wanted back in the cabinet. While I was cleaning things up, MommaKitty started having contractions again. I talked softly to her and patted her head and her belly and pretty quickly a fourth kitten popped out. She jumped right in and started cleaning it.

I watched MommaKitty start to clean herself up, so I assumed she was done birthin babies.. I patted her and took a bunch of photos and then tried to clean up a bit. MommaKitty seemed to be looking at the cabinet, so I decided to try to put her babies back in there and see what happened.  I picked all four up and put them on a small towel to transport them the few feet to the cabinet. MommaKitty jumped right up and ran over to them and immediately attempted to pick one up and when she did she ran it back to the basinette.. which made me laugh, and I gave her back her other kittens and apologized for interfering and got up and gave her a can of food.

I set the dropcam up so you can get a good view into the dropcam if you want to check in and see them. There will be a whole lot of nursing for the next couple of days.. weeks probably.. One of the kittens seems a bit smaller than the others, and one seems a bit bigger. I didn't bother to look 'under the hood' to see what we have for genders, I'll do that when I change out the bedding which will be sooner rather than later.

Let the fun begin :)

Make Mine Chocolate - Rabbits at Easter

This is the fifth anniversary of my joining in and blogging about this very important cause.

I was a rabbit owner for almost fifteen years. I would still be a rabbit owner if I were still a suitable home for one. My last rabbit Bri adored my kitty Skippy; unfortunately Skippy has a recurring case of URI and he gave it to Bri. She passed away with in 12 hours of my noticing that something was wrong. Rabbits are pretty frail animals and need specialized care. They should not be given as a cute gift simply because there is a holiday.

I know we all adore the idea of giving animals, but most of us accept the reality that it can be very very hard on the animal, so giving a pet as a gift should only be done with a lot of thought and care and concern for the animal. I do believe it can be done right, but I do believe it is a lot more work than most people want to put in during a special occasion event.

If you do want a rabbit for the holiday, there are a few things you should know. Rabbits can live for 10-12 years. They are also prey animals so they are much more skittish than a cat or a dog would be. They are not 'starter' pets as they do need a lot more than just food and water. Rabbits need as much room as a cat in order to get proper exercise. They need a constant diet of fresh hay because they need to keep their digestive track moving at all times. They also need fresh greens and vegetables and some people like to treat their bunny with fruits as well. They have a very limited need for pellets, generally only when they are young, but some people continue to feed them over their life time but they need to be cautious of not overfeeding them.

Since rabbits are constantly eating, they are also constantly pooping. Fortunately rabbit pellets are very dry, if they aren't then your bunny is ill and needs a trip to the vet, and are easy to take care of. Rabbits also like to use a litter box if you provide one, which makes cleaning fairly easy. Other forms of maintenance for your bun would be trimming of the claws and making sure their teeth are constantly worn down by chewing on various chew toys because their teeth constantly grow and if are not maintained properly can cause serious problems.

Baby Bunny
If you look at the photo above, you can see the poop pellets next to the bun, and the litter box with hay in it to encourage them to sit there and eat and pee. There is also an enrichment toy of a cardboard container for them to chew on and nose around. Buns need stimulation. A lot of bun owners provide hard teething toys for buns to explore and nose around. Some like belled balls. Untreated wicker baskets are good for jumping in, for exploring, for digging and for chewing. Old phone books are also good for buns to play with.

Rabbits are wonderful pets, but they are work. They are also funny, and adorable, and sweet, and my second favorite pet in the world. So if you are not up for it, this Easter, go for the chocolate ones instead.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Enrichment for kitties using treats

Enrichment for kitties can be fun.. the lure:

Muffin! Get out of the way.. 

It is good to find ways to mentally stimulate your kitties and if your kitty is food motivated - like six out of the seven cats I own - using a toy to hide food in so they have to forage for it is a good way to get their brains working.

The puzzle:

Every time I so much as touch this toy I immediately get a lot of interest because they are pretty sure that my just touching it makes it issue forth yummy goodness.

Yes, this is relevant to our interests.. 
Muffin and Jack, quality control experts
Muffin Kit and Fleurp checking out the puzzle
I'm just going to wait for them to do all the work ~Queen Diva Muffin
Fleurp is no fool, she runs off with hers once she digs it out
Kit's Turn.. 
And Muffin swoops in for the steal.
I gave Kit her own piece, she decided to mark it before eating it
(not sure that would prevent the others from stealing it though)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Mirror Affirmations with Mirror Jack..

I see the beauty in everything and everyone, always..

well except maybe Fleurp when she ruins my special time with my favorite kitty ever..

(yes, my cats decided to play with the crinkle ball toys I bought them while they were still on the cardboard hangcard.  I know I should pick it up and take them off but it was just so amusing to watch them do it I can't bring myself to do it just yet)

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet the Momma Kitty

Well as of 10 PM last night we still do not have kittens, and she was eating up a storm so if we have kittens in the morning I'll be horribly shocked.

Yes, she is heavily pregnant, yes, she has double toes (and dewclaws in the back) and a little something something going on over her right eye. She won't let me get a good look at it, and even balked pretty badly when I went to wipe the eye goobers out of her eyes last night, so I don't know what it is. Considering how long her nails were when she got here (she clicked when she walked) it very well could be she tagged herself when attempting to scratch her ear.

I was able to clip her nails, which is good because she really really needed it. She wasn't happy about it though and I think I might have missed one or two on one of her back feet. I didn't want to stress her out by forcing the issue..  She is also have some 'back end' issues, mostly because she can not reach to clean herself. She has been pooping up a storm (mostly because I don't think there is any room for it in there so once it is formed it is pushed right out) and not all of it comes off so she has been boot scooting when she comes out of the litter box. Fortunately she doesn't mind if I take a wash cloth and wipe her down.

Yesterday she gave me all kinds of indications that she was about to pop, including checking out every cubby and crevice where she could give birth and giving them the once over..

I really hope she chooses the basket in the last photo to give birth since I bought it from the shelter yard sale with the sole purpose to be used by a pregnant or nursing mother. I suppose if she doesn't give birth in it, we can eventually move them into it and see how it goes..  The basket wasn't in the best of shape when I bought it so I bought some suede cord and wrapped it around the edge.. that was NOT an easy task and it took me four or five hours since it is one continuous piece and there were five spots where the edge was broken so I had to use a skewer to hold the wrapping in place. I think it came out beautifully though and it was totally worth the effort.

Anyway, after checking everything out she came back for some more belly rubbin. Her nipples are all coated with dead skin and probably milk residue because they were kinda gross. I found out she also has a false nipple under one of her lower nipples.. (her head is below the image and her tail is above it)

I find this fascinating. I do think I will keep an extra eye on it in case there is any milk production to it. If there is and there is no draining of that milk we could run into a case of mastitis.. but we will cross that bridge if and when we come to it.

Pregnant mothers are always so affectionate.. they have got to be super uncomfortable and seriously who doesn't love a good massage when they are uncomfortable? This one hugs my hand though I mean how cute is this??

No names have popped up yet. I was thinking Talulah, but it hasn't seemed to work out. I was also thinking of trying to do a non-human name set, but coming up with sets of names isn't easy when you don't know how many and of what gender you are working with.  I suppose I could just go with soda names and it won't matter if it is male or female *wink*

So, anyone want to make any guesses as to when and how many??

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

What I know - a look at not neutering pets

As a raw-feeding, alternative-medicine-loving cat person, I belong (or belonged in some cases) to several holistic forums for pets and for cats in specific. I have gathered a lot of very helpful information from these boards like supplements that are helpful to treat urinary crystals to herbs that are good for URI. One thing that started popping up over the last couple of years has been a discussion about NOT neutering your cats for their long term over all health.

Photo of Muta the Cat in all his glory © Liz Oliver
I have been hearing the rumors for years about how it might be better for your large breed dogs to hold off on being neutered. I was a little surprised that people were starting to make the leap from some small studies in dogs, and in most instances specific breeds of large dogs, and applying it to cats since cats are not little dogs.

Trying to find information on the benefits of not neutering or the harm caused to pets by neutering them is not easy. The JAVMA released one study about 759 Golden Retrievers. This study, while very very small, claim to show a statistical difference in neutered animals vs intact ones.  The differences are 2-10%,  I have to wonder if these statistical differences would hold up when viewing larger populations. Another study on 119 (or 305 depending on how you crunch the numbers) Rottweilers appears to show an increased longevity for intact Rotties, but the dogs were hand picked for the study, looking specifically at dogs that lived to 13 when the general population usually only makes it to nine.  The data supports the claim that female Rotties neutered after the age of 6 were "4.6 times as likely to reach 13 years of age as were Rottweilers that were spayed at a younger age"*.  Once again the data sample is very small; only 119 dogs that made it to 13. I can not find information on that study about how many were male and how many were female... nor does it tell us how many were intact and how many were neutered. Apparently the research is ongoing and they are now up to 230 dogs that lived to 13, I think it should also be noted that the study was done in regards to learning more about human longevity and health issues. I still can not find any of the original statistical data, just the reported information that they lived longer 

I can not find any such studies in cats. Lack of scientific evidence does not mean that something is or is not true, it simply means that no one is studying it. There was a pediatric neuter study done that showed there was very little statistical difference between cats that were pediatric neutered and ones that were neutered at the standard recommended time. One statistical difference is that the cats that were neutered young had longer legs. This difference holds true for dogs as well which is probably why there are more cruciate tears and hip dysplasia among larger dogs. Why longer legs? I am guessing that the removing the sex hormones from the body removes the first initial sign to the pituitary gland that the animal has reached maturity and it doesn't send the signal to the growth plates at the time that it normally would.

Lack of studies aside, even if we could directly correlate these differences in these specific large breed dogs to cats, and we could see these small or even medium sized statistical differences in our cats post vs pre neutering, is this a valid reason to hold off?

Help control the pet ... Have your pets spayed or neutered
We have all been told that we should be neutering our cats, but why exactly do we do this? Most people would say that we do it to prevent unwanted litters of kittens. This is very very true. Despite the message having been out there for decades we are still burdened with an overabundance of companion animals; Bob Barker has been telling the general population to neuter since the 80s, and several other TV personalities have also taken up the cause. Six to eight million animals are surrendered to shelters each year and this is by no means all of the unwanted animals. Millions roam free and are never caught.

However, unwanted offspring is not the only reason. Cats that have their hormones intact are driven by those hormones.

Intact males suffer from 'testosterone poisoning' that causes them to want to expand their territory, defend it, and to mate with any female anywhere near them. Male cats can smell a female cat in heat up to a mile away and will do what ever is necessary to get to her, including fighting other males, crossing busy roads, and cross paths with other animals that want to do your cat harm. Then there is the act of mating itself which is not loving or gentle and the fights that can ensue can cause injury.

Intact females also defend their territory with marking and spraying and fighting if they feel threatened and if you have never seen a cat in heat, count yourself lucky. Both males and females, who are being driven by their hormones, are far less affectionate and tend to be restless and driven with one goal.  My sister had three indoor only cats all of whom were intact and all three became pregnant with out a male in the home.

Image taken from page 111 of 'Woodland Romances; or, Fables and Fancies'
and found on Flikr

Once you remove the sex hormones, cats settle down and get busy with the business of being pampered little rules of their domain.

There are people who prefer their animals intact for purposes of showing or breeding, but they do not undertake this decision lightly. They know they have to work with the nature of the hormones and be ready for it. It can be done by the average cat owner, but why would you want to? For a small statistical chance that your cat might not get a particular type of cancer? I am not sure that is worth the much larger risk of the cancers and illnesses that are removed by neutering. The risk of urine / ovarian / testicular cancer and pyometra is reduced to zero since these organs are removed. Risk of mammary cancer is reduced by 80% if the cat is neutered before her first heat cycle.

It is important that we have these types of conversations. If I were a Rottie lover or an owner of a Golden or other large breed dog, I might consider living with the inconvenience of an intact dog for a few years to try to ward off some potential health issues since I think dogs are a bit easier to deal with when they are intact because of their pack mentality and their drive to please their owners. Maybe one day a conversation like this will spur someone to actually do the studies and see if maybe there is some long term health benefit to keeping a cat intact, but even if they do, you still have to weigh those benefits against the risks of other diseases, unwanted behavioral issues and the risk of littering.

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