Tuesday, February 28, 2012

this and that

The Coons got a new toy last week. I have been wanting to get them a Turbo Scratcher for a while. While walking through Petsmart, I saw it was on sale for $10. Sold! They love their Turbo Scratcher. They take turns, pounce each other, and play with it for hours each day. What an awesome toy! I put away a couple of the older toys. I'm hoping they will will be like new when I bring them back out again. Meanwhile, the Turbo Scratcher is all they want to play with.

The Biotene products arrived. I've started using the antiseptic gel on Cali. I also put the water additive in their water dishes. That has not gone over well. Apparently none of the dogs or cats in my house read where it says it has no flavor or scent. They all immediately refused to drink. After dumping all the water out, I'm trying to get them used to it by just adding a little, rather than the full strength. The dogs are doing okay with that, but the Coons still aren't impressed. We'll see how it goes.

lazy play the kitty way

a girl needs her beauty sleep after all that playing

yeah, what?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

We have a Plan

Vet number two got back to me, and we have a treatment plan for Cali. I think I have read just about everything on the web about juvenile gingivitis and stomatitis in cats. Some vets believe that the bartonella bacteria plays a role in this problem. (This is the "cat scratch fever" bacteria.) Other vets disagree, saying that research has not proven a causal relation. The thing is, bartonella is a bacteria. There is an antibiotic that is fairly successful in treating it. The treatment is 21 days of azithromycin (Zithromax). The aspiring dental vet, after his own research, strongly recommended that we go ahead and try a course of antibiotic treatment. This seems pretty reasonable to me. If the treatment doesn't work, Cali is probably heading for caudal extractions, all the teeth behind the fangs. She could end up losing the front teeth also, eventually. In talking to Cali's breeder, she previously had a kitten in which treatment with azithromycin cured juvenile gingivitis, so I am praying it will work for Cali.

On the recommendation of a friend, and good reviews on Amazon, I've also purchased a product called Biotene to use. They make an oral antiseptic gel designed for use with severe gingivitis and stomatitis. They also make a maintenance gel and water additive to reduce plaque. I've purchased them all. Since we also have papillon dogs, who have notoriously bad teeth, I figured if it works they will all benefit and it will be well worth the cost. I'll let you know. I'm praying that this works for Cali.

Hoping to be better soon!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I know I'm very late posting today. I took Cali to the dental vet today. He told me what I already know. He asked for a day to look for the most up-to-date information. I am very happy to have all the research we can find, so that was easy to agree to.  We'll have to make decisions soon. I'll post when I know more.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Coon Care

It's been a lazy Sunday morning. I didn't make it to church. I've been watching and playing with the kitties. One of the things I do with the Coon kitties is to fit in grooming as fun time. I will generally try to keep claws trimmed about once a week. I do it when they are asleep. Okay, they start out asleep. Cali particularly likes to to chew on the toenails scissors that I use, which makes the actual trimming kind of tricky.  Brushing is also a game. They play with the brush while I try to actually get some brushing done. This does lead to pleasant associations with grooming. They think all my grooming tools are toys! Heath is willing to stand on the grooming table and let me groom him for treats. I think his new nickname is Hobbit. For his eating habits, not his size. He likes breakfast, and second breakfast, and elevens, brunch, lunch, second lunch....

Cali's dental issues are still unresolved. This situation is causing me quite a bit a stress figuring out what to do.  The breeder will take care of things if it comes to having extractions done. The problem is that I'm not at all sure the current gingivitis warrants extracting all her teeth. I've decided to have my local dental vet specialist take a look this week and give a second opinion. Meanwhile, it is obvious that dental care for both Coons needs to be a priority. Both kitties are learning to get their teeth brushed. Cali is much more tolerant of the process than Heath is! Right now I'm still trying to get them used to handling around their mouth and just letting me put some oral cleaning gel on their teeth with my finger. My vet shared some great info with me on dental issues like Cali is having. I'm just going to share these links for anyone interested in more information.

Here is a general article on dental care. This Canadian vet has written many articles on dental issues and care and has a great website. This is the article my vet shared with me. For a video on teaching your cat to accept tooth brushing, Cornell University has a good site.

It's hard to get the computer away from mom so I can watch my videos!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Pics - Instagram

love the tail!

lounging like the princess she is

watching snow leopards before bed

top cat

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy moments

This morning I stopped everything to spend a few minutes watching the Coons playing together with a box. There was lots of footsies going on. This happens pretty regularly in my day. They are so cute and fun, that watching them even trumps watching whatever happens to be on the television. Unless what is on is Downton Abbey! But, hey, Downton Abbey, otherwise, why be watching TV? The kitties are much more entertaining.

Cali has some little habits that just make me melt. One is that she occasionally sits back on her haunches with her front paws spread wide when she wants to play. It is fleeting, I doubt I'll ever catch it on camera, but, oh, so cute! Another is the way she runs to see her daddy when he comes home. She stretches her front paws up his leg, just like a little kid asking to be picked up. Of course, daddy does pick her up. Then she rides around the house draped over his shoulders.

Do you have any cute habits you love about your kitties to share for Valentine's Day?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Why breeders?

Really, it's why buy from a responsible breeder? There are people out there who breed purebred cats (or dogs) simply to make money selling the offspring. Those are not the people I'm talking about, and responsible breeders go to great lengths to keep animals out of the hands of those people. I'm talking about people who breed because they love the characteristics of a particular breed of dog or cat (goat, whatever) and want to preserve and improve those characteristics. These people care very much about the health of the animals they bring into the world. They do whatever genetic testing is available, and they provide a home if an animal they bred needs it. They give guidance and education to people who buy a kitten or puppy from them. The real question is, why would you not buy a pet from such a person?

Now, I'm not against "rescuing" an animal in need and giving it a home. I'm just saying people should realize that all choices of where to buy an animal have an influence on the supply chain. And yes, you are buying a pet, wherever you get it. The price may be "free" or very low from your next door neighbor or the animal shelter, but you are making a purchase decision. Hopefully, you are also "adopting" a pet that will be a member of your family for life. Any cat costs about the same to keep, where ever it comes from.

Let's consider some of the options. I'll probably use dogs mostly as examples but I'm referring to cats also. One choice is the local humane society. The advantage here is that your purchase price will be low and you are giving a home to animal who may otherwise be in danger of euthanasia. Many people like the idea of saving an animal. The downside is that you roll the dice on what you get. Some people think "mixed breeds" are healthier than purebreds, but this is not really true. Mixed breeds carry all the same potential health issues as purebreds and no one has screened to try to reduce the likelihood of genetic problems. You also have no idea what the likely personality of a kitten or puppy will be, or possibly even the adult size. Adopting an adult can help solve this, but many people want a puppy or kitten. I think most shelter kitties turn out fine. There is a lot less variability in cats than in dogs. The biggest risk with a shelter cat is that it will have a health issue you will be stuck dealing with, but many shelter cats are healthy. We have a thirteen and a half year old domestic shorthair who has never had a health issue in her life. She has moved all over the country with us. So a humane society is not a bad choice if you're not too picky about having particular personality or appearance characteristics.

Suppose you do want something particular, a toy size dog or a longhair cat for example. Another option is a breed rescue group. Most of these pets are living in a foster home, waiting to be adopted. Typically, you will pay an "adoption fee" of  a few hundred dollars to get an animal from one of these groups. Yes, they are covering expenses, and you are "buying"your pet. You may or may not pay less than you would from a reputable breeder.  Prices tend to be tied to the age and health of the animal. Many of these groups deal with a particular breed of dog or cat, but some have multiple breeds. On the positive side, if you want to "save" an animal but you also want a purebred, this is a way to do so. On the down side, there is a reason some animals end up in rescue. They often tend to be older, you may have to wait a long time for a puppy or kitten of a particular breed. You may not, it varies. They may have health issues because they may come from situations where they have not been well-cared for. They often have emotional issues. Those rescued from "bulk breeders" don't know how to live in a home. Usually you can expect to need to do some training. Rescue dogs usually need house training. Expect to be taking on at least as much work as if you got a puppy or kitten that needs to learn to socialize and be a good member of society.

Something that doesn't get talked about  is that much of the original source of breed rescue animals are puppy or kitten "mills". Adopting from a rescue group does provide a secondary market for these mills to continue producing. These mass producers don't care where the animals end up, and the animals are in need of homes, so you'll have to decide for yourself what you think of this conundrum. We do have a papillon from a papillon rescue group. He found us at an agility trial and let us know he was our dog! He has been very healthy, but I know he came originally from an Arkansas puppy mill. He is way oversized for a papillon (which makes him a great kids dog!) and his conformation leaves a lot to be desired. He came from a home where he was neglected, but not abused and his issues have not been too difficult. We have had to deal with marking in the house. Breed rescue is a good option for some people, just know what you are getting into.

What is wrong with buying from a reputable breeder? Nothing! If all hobby breeders quit breeding you know what would happen? Extinction. That is what happens when breeding populations get below a sustainable level. There are some very rare breeds actually facing this situation. If you happen like papillons, Australian shepherds, Maine Coons, or whatever you fancy, by all means support the survival of the best of that breed by buying from a good breeder. If only puppy mill and mixed breeds reproduce because everyone buys a rescue and spays and neuters the best quality animals then eventually only low quality animals will be available. Perhaps they won't be available at all, at least not at a price the average person can afford. Really, where should we want our pets to be produced from, the best stock, or the worst? Because here is another reality. As breeders have become stringent about placing pets on spay and neuter contracts and being very careful of placing intact animals, what do you think is the source of most rescue and humane society animals? It is not healthy, high quality breeding stock. It is what is left that indiscriminate breeders can get their hands on.

One of the biggest Maine Coon sites on the web is populated by a majority of cats that are not even Maine Coons. They are domestic longhairs. How do I know that all these rescue cats aren't "Maine Coon mixes"? Because Maine Coon breeders aren't losing track of their cats to be producing all these rescue mixes. People must want certain breeds. Sites like Petfinder.com are always listing dogs as being of a certain breed, even when the dog in question bears little resemblance to the breed named. Presumably a cat listed as a Maine Coon or Maine Coon mix is more likely to find a home than a plain domestic longhair. If you want one of these pets, you should certainly please yourself. If you prefer to know the background of your pet and want a particular model and performance, buy what you want, guilt free, knowing that you are supporting the perpetuation of the best of the breed you love.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Pics

Both kitties are doing well for the moment. Cali is on antibiotics. We'll see how she does. CatsPlay.com has offered a refund if I show proof the cat tree is donated to a rescue or humane society. That's a nice idea, but I think we have decided that we can modify it to be safer. The way customer service has gone, I'm afraid the next thing would be waiting 6 to 8 weeks for them to "process a refund".

These are not the best pictures for clarity, but the kitties are so cute that I'm sharing them anyway! Are they cats or squirrels?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Never a Dull Moment

It's not a normal day that I post, but so much is going on I thought I'd bring things up to date.

I forgot to share that Heath had a good check up on Monday. So far, his ears look good. He will have one more recheck in a couple of months.

The cat supply company didn't much like my review. I have offered to remove it if they will give me a refund AND pay return shipping. So we'll see about that. Meanwhile a friend has recommended someone local who could custom build something for the Coons. I'm hoping that works out!

The horrible news is that Cali went to the vet yesterday. I took her in hoping that what I suspected wouldn't be true and unfortunately it is. Cali is 9 months with lovely, clean teeth and horrible bright red gums. She has stomatitis. The good news is that her FeLV and FIV status were confirmed negative. This is an autoimmune issue that can be difficult treat. Basically the body is reacting to their own teeth. Many cats with this condition eventually have to have their teeth removed. Having had several papillons over the years, I am familiar with dental issues and even know how well they do without teeth. I just can't believe this cat also has problems. I'm praying better things will be in store for us soon.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sugar Kitty Gym review

I was going to write this post later, but I am so disappointed that I wanted to share this review right away. I spent a lot of time looking on the Internet for just the right kitty condo. Heath and Cali really like to be inside somewhere, so I wanted a cat tower with a least one sleeping condo. My budget was limited. It is hard to find something big enough for the Coons on a limited budget. (another day I will talk about the huge number of amazing, and expensive, cat trees available!) So when I found the Sugar Kitty Gym on CatsPlay.com I was pretty excited. I should have known better. I didn't really notice until today that they don't allow reviews on their website. That should have been a big warning. I'm sharing my review here.

The Product: I had looked all over the Internet for a condo big enough for my Maine Coons. I was excited to find this one.  Sadly, it has a number of issues that make it not nearly as good as I had hoped. For starters, the dimensions don’t match the specs listed. The exterior of the bottom condo measures 19” x 19”. With the support braces around the inside, the inside measures about 16” x 16”.  It’s just barely useable by my moderately sized Coons. The top condo measures 16”x16” on the outside, leaving barely 14”x14” on the inside. It is too small for the Coons, assuming they could actually get into it.

Which brings us to the second major problem. The Sugar Kitty gym is almost impossible in its design for cats to actually use and climb. There is almost no step up effect from level to level. It is a 19” stretch with 3” of clearance to get from the top of the bottom condo to the door of the middle condo. My Maine Coon girl stretched up to stick her head in, and then gave up the idea. It’s too small, and too difficult to get into. By the way, my Maine Coons are active 9 month- old kittens. The female did manage to climb onto the top shelf. Getting down is tricky. The first time she launched the 5 + feet down to the floor. Ouch! The second time, she banked off the middle condo (it’s not big enough or far enough out to step on to) and dropped to the floor. Still ouch. The only way for my bigger male (he’s 13 pounds) to climb up at all is to use the piano next to the kitty gym. The scratching posts are also poorly placed. There is no way for a cat to stretch out to use them. On the bottom, only the middle post is sisal covered, and it can’t be reached from ground level, so cats have only 15 ½ inches of clearance to use it. Overall, this is a pretty useless piece of cat furniture. If you have a small cat, there are many other options in this price range. If you have a big cat, save up for something better.

Customer Service: I will shop elsewhere in the future. When shipping was delayed, this was not updated on my order status page. The only way to communicate with the company is by email, and my first email inquiry about why my order had not shipped on time went unanswered. My second email was answered, and when they say emails will be answered within a business day, they mean you can expect to wait about 24 hours to hear from them (if you hear from them). If you track down the phone number and call, you will hear a recording telling you to email. My product arrived with no assembly hardware and no instructions on how to put it together. As it turns out, it doesn’t need any hardware. Some instructions to that effect would really have prevented aggravation in figuring that out. I guess you get what you pay for. I’ll start saving up again to get something better.

They are excited to check out the new cat furniture.

Not much room for scratching here.

If all else fails, bite your sister's tail.

Heath contemplates if there is any way up to the top shelf.

And gives up to go back to sleeping in his Sherpa bag. 

Cali squeezes on for a nap. 

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Coon games

Today I'm back to talking about favorite kitty toys that are basically free. My cats agree that pencils and pens are excellent toys. They usually help themselves to what the kids leave laying around. One of these days I'm going have to clean under the fridge to retrieve all the writing implements under there. Boxes are also always popular. We have a perfect cat size box that has been living in the family room since Christmas because the Coons regularly play with it. (It makes a good chew toy, too.) Hands down, both Heath and Cali agree that their favorite toy of all is a crumpled up piece of paper. It's a bonus if the paper ball is in the bathtub. Heath loves paper ball hockey so much I've sometimes thought we should have named him Gretzky. I've tried several times to capture video of the acrobatics that they do playing in the bathtub, but they always stop as soon as I start filming!

Heath goes back to the surgeon for a check up tomorrow. Fingers crossed for a clean bill of health!

Don't move, mom wants to film us!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Friday Pics- Playtime

I love watching the Coons play. What do your kitties like to play with?