Friday, March 15, 2019

In defense of using goat milk for bottle feeding kittens

A while back I did some research to show that goat milk has enough taurine to properly nourish nursing kittens to debunk a myth that keeps popping up.

Now I am running into people who love to tout that goats are herbivores and cats are carnivores so "obviously" the milk is not enough for a carnivore. They also like to trot out the "Milk Compostion - Species Table" (sic) to prove it

So, if you only look at this, I can understand why you might be fearful of using goat milk for neonatal kittens. Mother's milk is 10.9% fat and goat is only 3.5%.  Sounds dramatic doesn't it?

But since we have no source of actual cat milk that we can obtain (other than a lactating mother cat and if you can get one of these this post is mute) comparing goat milk to cat milk doesn't really get us the information we need.  Most people who are feeding kittens are using a commercial milk replacer. In general, most people in the US are using KMR (yes there are others, but KMR is what is you often hear as a recommendation)

So, what is the calorie content of KMR. According to the PetAg website, KMR has 11 kcal/Tbs and crude fat is (min) 4.5%.  This is dramatically less than the 10.9% of cat milk, yet this is the standard for commercial milk replacers that so many people swear by..

Goat milk? One Tbs is 0.5 fl oz. and goat milk has 21 calories per ounce, so it is pretty much equivalent calorie wise. Since goat milk is 3.5% fat and KMR is 4.5% fat, we are still in that same range.. especially when you consider that a lot of kittens become constipated on KMR and the first thing people recommend to combat that is to dilute the formula, so they have fewer grams of fat and fewer calories per ounce. Kittens might need to eat a little more goat milk vs KMR reconstituted as directed, but that doesn't mean it is bad or lacking. And if you are diluting KMR with three to one instead of the two to one, ounce per ounce goat milk wins calorically and on fat content (but again, you just feed the kitten a little more and they get what they need)

Lastly, I really want you to know what you are feeding when you are feeding a commercial milk replacer, so take a look at the ingredient list of KMR.

If you look at the other popular milk replacer in the US, Breeder's Edge, their % are also not in line with the milk composition chart of cat milk. This one has much higher percentages.

Both products uses cow milk as a base despite people who save kittens being immediately warned to not feed cow milk because the lactose is hard on kittens. Goat milk naturally has lower levels of lactose than cow's milk (10% less) and it has smaller fat globules as well as higher levels of medium chain fatty acids.  The smaller globules mean easier digestion. Goat milk also has 89% less Alpha A1 Casein*  which is notoriously hard for humans to digest; is this important in cats? Well, I honestly do not know, but when you feed cow milk the cats react to it and have diarrhea and left untreated can lead to dehydrated kittens that are under nourished.  When you feed goat milk you generally get well formed stools (unless the kitten has parasites) and they thrive. They are very fat and happy..

I have heard, in defense of commercial products using cow milk, that overly processing the milk makes it easier for the kittens to digest. The fact that there are so many cats out there that owe their lives to KMR bears that out. My thoughts on that is that the health communities for every species are touting that fresh is more nutritious and overly processed food is hard on the body.

As for the idea that "no vet recommends it" that many detractors will say, I have talked to people who have said their vet does recommend it. Is second or third hand knowledge enough to "prove" anything, no, but then again hearing that "no vet recommends goat milk" is just as useless because chances are no one has talked to all of the vets. You will hear that "no vet recommends raw food" but we know that is not true as several vets have websites out there talking about recommending raw food. Then there is the consideration of liability. If a vet recommends that you use KMR and the product fails your kitten, KMR takes on that liability. If a vet recommends goat milk, the vet takes on the liability. There is no "goat milk for kittens" company who has done the research to share with vets that commercial companies do, nor is there a "big goat milk company" who is willing to step up and take that on.  Does this mean there is risk? There is always risk, but I do not believe more than any other product. Every cat is different and there is no doubt that some kittens might fail to thrive on goat milk just as some kittens fail to thrive on commercial milk and some kittens fail to thrive on their mother's milk.

In the end, I'm not telling you that you should not use KMR or Breeders Edge. If that is what you are comfortable with, by all means, I will support you fully in that. I will absolutely be your champion for feeding a hungry kitten. I just want to defend the choice of using goat milk for motherless kittens and address some of the misinformation I have heard out there.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Best Wishes Darcy

If all goes according to plan, Darcy will be leaving today for her new home. From what I have heard she will have quite a few people to give her the attention she craves.

She is doing amazingly well coming out of her shell. We painted the room this weekend and I feared it would cause huge setbacks and she would cower in the corner the whole time, but she was out and interested in what was going on. She wasn't keen on when my husband was standing to paint, but the minute he sat down she was out and exploring.  It got to the point where I had to confine her to the bathroom so she wouldn't get into the paint.  When we were done I opened the door to comfort her, expecting to find her cowering near the toilet, but she was at the door waiting and walked right back out!  She wandered around and looked at all the things that were in the "wrong" spot and got used to everything again; very much like a normal well-socialized cat.

She still hides at "weird" things, but she comes right back out once she adjusts to it. She loves to play, playing by herself if need be. She loves snuggling and will lay on my chest for kisses. She likes having her back end scratched, and I will always love the curly Q her tail makes when you do.

I will miss her, but I will be glad to be able to do some more things to that room to make it 'home' for me. I want to buy some new lighting, put up some climbing shelves and a few other things.. hopefully, in the next few weeks it will be all said and done and ready for kittens when they show up, but (and yes, I'm talking to you Universe) I will take kittens whenever they show up!!

I am out of here!

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Skippy

Skippy came to me in June of 09, which makes him almost ten years old.  Goodness, gracious where does the time go??

Skippy was turned into the shelter as a possible abuse case. He had a urinary infection and was not doing well when he arrived. By the time I got him he was doing much better and was very high energy. I tried to bring a friend home to him but he would not leave the kitten alone and I ended up returning her to the shelter.

I brought Skippy to the shelter to be adopted when he hit weight. I was sad to see him go but I thought he wanted more attention than we could provide for him with seven cats. I met and talked to the people who adopted him and told him about his urinary infection and the likelihood that he might get another and they totally dismissed what I had to say and went off with him. I looked forward to my next set of fosters and was going about my life when I heard he was returned for coming down with a cold. I don't think I've stopped rolling my eyes over that one.

I brought him back to the house and got him over the sneezing and the discharge and he went back up for adoption but he quickly came down with it again so I brought him back and got him healthy again. At this point, he was a long gangly teenager and there were a plethora of kittens available. He was also very high energy so he needed a home that would play with him regularly to drain that off or he was going to be a pain. After weeks of visiting him at the shelter on a regular basis, I gave in and adopted him.

Other than sneezing out wads of snot from time to time he has been very healthy. He did have a little OCD of over grooming that started when we started packing back in Maine. I am fairly certain it is over now, but I still check in with him from time to time to make sure it doesn't recur.

Skippy still loves to cuddle. He often pins himself to one of us and will lay there for hours on end until we kick him off. When I'm in bed sick he never leaves. He loves to wrestle with Fleurp at dinner time and he still likes playing and running around the house and climbing cat trees. It feels like he is four or five, not ten.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Fleurp

Fleurp was a foster in October of 08 making her ten and a half. I went to the shelter one day to get food for my current fosters and saw her and absolutely had to foster her. She wasn't ready to go into foster so I left her there and then left work when they contacted me to tell me she was ready.

She spent the first few days in my bathtub because I was afraid of URI and I couldn't put her in the kitten room and I was afraid of her giving URI to my cats because of the gap under the bathroom door.

Turns out her eye looked like that because she was bitten. It never healed fully and for a while she had some depth perception issues but she adjusted pretty well by the time we adopted her. Her ears were also packed with ear mite debris, to the point that it looked like earplugs.

For the past few years, Fleurp has become anemic every spring. No one can figure out why. The best guess I have is that she loses so much fur in her spring shed that it inhibits her ability to make red blood cells. Why? I have no flippin clue. We generally treat her with prednisolone and liqui-tinic  We shaved her last year and her anemia was minimal. I am going to do it again this year - even more so - possibly even a lion cut - and we'll see what happens.

This past December we had a scare and I thought Fleurp had eaten something she shouldn't have and she had surgery to remove it from her intestine, but when the vet got in there they didn't find anything. She recovered well and is doing very well. She is enjoying all the extra food I'm slipping Muffin because she gets to clean up the extras most days.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Twee

Tweedle was born in July of 04 which makes her *calculates* ugh, way too old..  14.5ish. She still has the mindset of a kitten. She has always been "touched" in the head but she is incredibly sweet and an amazing hunter. She loves playing with fishing pole toys and always grabs the toy and holds on to it for dear life.

For those of you new to the blog, Twee recently ended up in emergency care for hepatic lipidosis. She stopped eating after Jack died. We noticed it initially but she hadn't lost any weight and I was feeling a bit paranoid so I didn't check in with her again until it was almost too late. I tried force feeding her, and while that went well enough, her personality disappeared and she seemed to be getting worse so we made the appointment to euthanize her. At the appointment, my husband couldn't go through it without throwing a hail mary, so we brought her to an emergency clinic out of state for a few days of care and several thousand dollars later she's doing much better.  She was slow to eat when she came home. She has never ever been food motivated so I was fearful that I wouldn't get her to eat well without more medical help. As a last ditch attempt, I offered her some dry food and she ate it! I'm telling you, that stuff is addicting..

After recovering her weight and getting a clean bill of health, she's been a bit of a pain in the tushie. She can't seem to stop harassing Eli which bothers me but I can't seem to break her of it. It is not every day, but it is enough that I feel bad for Eli. I don't know why he doesn't stand up to her.

Twee is still very much my husband's kitty, always hanging out with him or is cuddled up to him. I'll do if he isn't around, but she misses him when he goes away and greets him happily when he comes home.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Eli

Eli, littermate to Muffin, was a foster back in 2002 so he is also sixteen and a half years old. He had a major issue with URI as a kitten so he has scared tear ducts so his face is always a mess. As he has gotten older it has gotten better. I am not sure if it is because his body has compensated or he gets someone to clean his face regularly.

Because of the URI and the months of medication, he has always had a very healthy suspicion of us. For the first ten years of his life, he ran away from us every time he saw us. With some Rescue Remedy, we broke him of the association of fear so he would stop running. A while after that he realized how much he loves static and would come to us for attention in the winter months. And then, he voluntarily touched me. It was an incredible day for me.. (much like when Darcy climbed up on me the other day) Since then I have given him some CBD and it has helped his paranoia and fear quite a bit.  We have had company and workmen in the house multiple times since I started and he has been out for all of them.  Was it because of the CBD or because he mellowed in his old age? I'm going with the CBD, because he's still pretty high strung.

Eli also started losing weight recently. He dropped half a pound in less than two weeks and I started flipping out. I realized it when I went to give him a kiss and realized he had a sickly smell to him - something I recognized from fostering kittens. It wasn't strong, but it was there. I was about to run him to the vet but he was willing to eat so I decided to give it a couple of days to see exactly what was going on.  I even started giving him.. dry food

I also decided to deworm him, because why not.. and he is doing well, regaining the weight, and demanding dry food on a regular basis - which I am unwilling to do because of his 16.5-year-old kidneys.  He is incredibly spry and still regularly runs around the house like his tail is on fire - often because Twee is harassing him. He still demands attention when we have gone to bed where he gets in between us and I get to rub his belly. He still has several lipomas on his body, but like Muff's cyst, I am unwilling to put him through a surgery to remove them.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Casa de Gato updates - Muffin

Muffin was originally a foster at the end of 2002, which makes her about sixteen and a half years old. She has been incredibly healthy most of her life - save for an inflamed eye as a kitten

A few years ago her kidney values started to rise, so at this point, we are giving her fluids two or three times a week. She has also been losing weight, which was really freaking me out. The vet was pleased she was a "more normal" weight, but having spent a good deal of her life at 14 lbs, anything under 12 to me was just really concerning.  I've been running blood work on her and nothing really showed up and then I remembered what a vet told me when I brought Emmy in for a second opinion when she was dealing with cancer. She told me that roundworm eggs can embed in the muscle and hatch years later during times of stress or weight loss. Since everyone stopped eating after we lost Jack, she lost a little weight and then lost more. She was interested in food, but when I would give her a can of food she would barely eat half of it.  I thought "what the heck" and got some dewormer and she started eating better and started gaining weight again. *phew* Not to say things are perfect, but right now I'm feeling a bit more comfortable. Unfortunately, she isn't eating the raw food consistently, so we are "slipping" her canned food in the master bathroom, which we affectionately call "bathroom food"

She's also got an incredibly large cyst behind one of her ears. I hate it and want it removed in the worst way but I've been told they often come back and at her age, I don't want to put her through a surgery simply because I have issues.

She has some arthritis that prevents her from jumping up on the bed, so we have brought out the set of stairs we made for Emmy all those years ago and that Ollie used when he was dealing with vaccine-associated sarcoma.  I am giving her cosequin and CBD and some days she feels good enough to climb up on to windowsills or the cat tree. It always makes me smile when she does.

But she is still my girl, my major source of cuddles. She is generally the first thing I see in the morning and more often than not the last thing I see before I go to sleep.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The winner for the longest and most improve foster kitty goes to Darcy

Two-year-old Darcy arrived at Casa de Gato on October 8th, 2018 pregnant and scared and with absolutely no use for human beings what so ever.

She gave birth and raised three beautiful babies and then when the kittens got too big to be contained in the bathroom I was fostering them in she took Onyx's kittens under her wing as well. In time, Onyx came to accept other kitties and Darcy showed just how much she loved other cats. She has excellent manners and is very respectful of cats who aren't used to her.  People were still intimidating.  Despite the obvious fact that she was fearful of us, she never lashed out. She had a slight incident when we tried to vaccinate her, but that only resulted in our having to clean up some urine and poop.

Then we brought Butters in and Darcy wanted to be friends with her in the worst way. Butters was not interested though. I don't know if it was because she was intact or she wasn't used to other kitties but Darcy was still very respectful and kind with Butters and kept trying to win her over.

Now that Butter has also moved on, Darcy is in the kitten room all by herself and she is starting to come around to getting attention from those weird humans. As long as we go and sit on the couch she comes right over and asks for attention. She loves to lay down next to me and have her ears scratched and her belly rubbed and is content to hang out with me for quite some time. Most recently she has started doing this..

Yes, that is Darcy on my chest. yes, she climbed up there all on her own.

Darcy also LOVES to play. I have a fishing pole toy that I am going to send along with her to her new people because she loves it so much. It is always a favorite with kittens, but I will feel better knowing her new people will be able to engage her in something she loves. Other than running and hiding when people come into the room she is almost a completely normal house cat now. Even to the point of deciding she wanted to investigate the rest of the basement just now.

So, if you know anyone in the market for a kitty that likes other kitties and won't get underfoot and trip them and has a quiet house could you please share her with them? She is the kind of kitty who likes to snuggle up with you as you watch tv, who will play with you, and who is very neat and tidy and who hasn't shown a moment of being destructive.

If you are interested you can fill out an application here

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Butters has a new Valentine

Last weekend Butters went back to the shelter to be neutered.  With some pretty heavy networking on my end, I was able to connect to a woman who took one look at Butters and was smitten.

I'm not exactly sure when Butters is going to her new home, but she has one and I am sure it is going to be great.

Best wishes little girl. While I'm personally sad you didn't have kittens with me, I'm glad that I got to know you and you are going to have a wonderful life.  Thank you Kelly for adopting her!

Monday, February 4, 2019

An Ultimate Cat Scratching Post for the kitten room #artofpaws

I was on FaceBook the other day when I saw an ad for Art of Paws offering their new scratcher for a steep discount so they could get some reviews on their Amazon account and I immediately signed up. If you have been around this blog for a while you know I have their heated pet bed and my cats love it

As you can see, Fleurp was none too happy that this wasn't for her. I might have to buy another one to make her happy..

I put the scratcher together this weekend. I was dealing with a pretty severe case of bronchitis and I was moving pretty slowly so I was a bit daunted by all of the pieces initially

But, despite my infirmity, I was able to put it together in slightly over five minutes. The most difficult part was getting the two bottom pieces together and screwing the post on at the same time. A third hand would have been nice, but it wasn't necessary.

It was an immediate hit with both kitties.

It is nice and sturdy and as you can see the cats can hang off it no problem. Actually, at one point both cats were hanging off of it, but that didn't last long, as they aren't really friends.

And look, it comes with a really cool box.

If you are looking for a nice sturdy scratcher, you should check out the Ultimate Cat Scratching Post by Art of Paws

Friday, January 18, 2019

Darcy needs a home

Darcy is still with us. She came to us in October, scared and pregnant.

She was frozen with fear. She was okay to explore the room when I was not around (thank you web cameras for sharing that with me) but when I would visit her she made herself as small as possible and hid in the smallest cracks hoping I wouldn't find her.  Little did she know that was my mission in life.. to find her and pull her out of her shell.

She gave birth here and raised three beautiful healthy happy kittens who were anything but fearful.

She never lashed out, not once. Not when I initially touched her, not when I picked her up for the first time, not when I would weigh her kittens or changed out her bedding. Never. She bides her time and waits for her chance to leave and then does so at the first chance. I spent a lot of time reaching into where she was hiding and patting her hoping to help her understand that humans are good. I would get her to purr and several times I got her to roll over so I could massage her belly but each time I left I went back to being very frightening.

I was fostering another cat at the time and she was quite friendly. I was hoping that introducing them would bring Darcy out of her shell. Unfortunately she was very protective of her kittens and the integration of the two families took a very long time. Fortunately Darcy was totally willing to sit in her cage and tend to any kitten who showed up. Over time, Darcy made a friend.

She was willing to come out of hiding when I was around. I was able to pull her out with play as well. She loves to "hunt"

Then her friend found a home and we were alone again. We did a lot of playing and I did my best to show her that people were not bad. My husband would visit her in the mornings and she would come out and give him a sniff. I would pull her out of hiding and pet her and give her scritches behind her ears that she loved so much and I was able to get her to purr.

I then had another friend for her. Darcy wanted to be friends. She was very kind and went very slowly allowing her new roommate to get used to her, but this kitty wasn't interested in being friends. Darcy keeps trying so I know she would integrate well into a cat friendly cat household. She will not be a lap cat immediately, but because she likes to have her neck scratched I am sure in time in a quiet household with other cats to show her life with people is a good thing she would become your friend.

If you know anyone who might have room in their life for a very sweet and kind kitty, who either lives near NH or wouldn't mind traveling to get her, please let me know.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Behold, the power of Happy Bear.. or not

I know that many people have been waiting for the joy that is a kitty on Happy Bear again. I would like to say this happened because I worked my magic and Happy Bear worked his and encouraged Darcy out of her hiding hole for some love, but that was absolutely not the reason.. so what was?

Poor Butters has been stuck in the bathroom since mid December because I am a pretty strict isolationist when it comes to kitties and I don't like mingling different litters (I know I know, I just did, didn't I - hey, I said pretty strict, not an absolutionist)

I was hoping that either Darcy or Butters would have moved on by now, but at this point I haven't heard anything about either one of them moving on. Butters is starting to show signs that the bathroom is simply not enough room for her so I thought I would open up the door and see what happened.

Darcy wanted to be friends in the WORST way. She was kind and gentle and did everything right. She meowed when Butters' back was turned to her so she wouldn't 'sneak up' on her, she walked low to the ground so as not to be threatening, she held back and waited and waited, following when Butters got too far away..

It was and is an absolutely beautiful thing to watch. I'm kinda loving Darcy all that much more for this. Butters, after investigating everything, tends to hang out with me on the couch (she likes playing with the hair scrunchies I've been using - which I'm not a huge fan of) and so Darcy has taken to coming up on the couch to be near her but not too near her.

Butters accepts that Darcy isn't going to go after her, but she is still not ready to be near her. This was as close as they were willing to get to one another without hissing. Darcy respects that and was waiting for Butters to check her out.  I was able to reach over and pet Darcy and we had a nice few minutes hanging out together.

Butters is completely unsure about all of this, and shortly after this photo she hissed and lashed out at Darcy so I decided it was time to end this. I do not leave them out together when I'm not around. I keep telling Butters that Darcy is good people and she needs to relax, but she doesn't believe me.. yet.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Darcy is still with us

Darcy is still here. She still enjoys eating my food and pooping in the litter box I clean for her, but she is still not a fan of me. I pull her out of hiding each time I visit and hold her until she calms and I scratch her neck and flank which she seems to like.

Some times I ignore her to see if she'll come out on her own. Sometimes she will, most of the time she won't. She enjoys playing so that will always pull her out. The other day she came out, walked toward me and hid in the box near the couch (see photo), which I took as a sign that while she still doesn't trust me, I've been promoted to benefit of the doubt.

And then last night...

She stays with me because I gently restrain her and redirect her when she starts to leave. After I've held her for a while, I stop redirecting and if she wants to leave I let it happen. Shortly after the above video, I had hoped she was happy enough to stay but she left just as soon as I gave her that option. It hurt a little that I couldn't convince her to stay, but I have to remind myself that not all cats are lap cats.

As much as I enjoy her here, it is beyond time for her to go. I hope her people show up soon

Monday, January 7, 2019

Meet Butters

Meet Butters. I was originally going to name her Berries, but when I tried to call her that I said Butters instead of Berries and it just kinda stuck. I was going with Sweet Cream Butter Milk but that was an obnoxiously long name.. Then I thought of Cream or some sort of Ice Cream, but I kept coming back to Butters.. so, as I said, Meet Butters!

Getting a good photo of her is not easy. She is extremely affectionate and wants to be in my lap or in my face or sticking her nose in my armpit or my cleavage. She likes to give what we have affectionately started calling "full Smedleys" although I haven't been in a spot where she could rub her entire body all over my face but I have the feeling she would if she could.

I received her mid-December. I didn't introduce her because there was the speculation that she might be pregnant. The vet thought she felt an enlarged uterus so I took her in and started feeding her well in hopes of kittens.

She eats well, very well, exceptionally well, downing four 3oz cans in a day if I would let her. And I did initially, hoping that she might be eating for six. She can eat a can of food and lick the bowl clean in under three minutes.

Turns out she is Fakey McFakerson.. (actually, she never said she was pregnant, so I suppose that is kind of a mean thing to call her) and we have no babies. I am fairly certain she went into heat for a couple of hours the other day, doing the rear foot shuffle and the 'broken tail' stance when I touched her behind - which she is not doing now.

She is an absolute love, I mean a "some people might return her to the shelter because she is too affectionate" absolute love.. I mean her name should probably be Bacon kinda love.. 😼

Not sure how much longer she will be with me as she should have no issue finding a home as she is very young and quite affectionate. Darcy has had a couple of inquiries but she is still here at the moment. Hopefully, she will be moving on soon and I can start contemplating paint colors for the kitten room. The yellow that is in there is nice but it makes it hard to get good photos. I'm considering a gray or mossy green. I'm also contemplating doing different colors so I can have options when taking photos. I have some climbing shelves to put up and a cabinet to put together for storage.

but you know I'd rather have kittens..
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