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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Winter Hazards

We're joining The Cat on My Head again for Sunday Selfies although this might be titled Easy Like Sunday Morning.
Jabberwoky Glitter and B.W. Huckleberry
 Our weather took a turn toward winter this weekend. Saturday we had our first hard freeze. I bring this up because it reminds us all to be sure we have our pets prepared for winter hazards. Even if your dog is “indoor only” he will be going outside a few times a day to tend to business and maybe go for walks.

First remember that some breeds relish winter weather but even they aren’t prepared for the worst that winter can throw at us. My late American Eskimo dog, Blizzard, loved to run outside after his baths to roll around in the snow – he was still wet! But even he knew that once the temperature hit below zero, inside was a much better place for him.
Two-y when he decided to be an indoor cat

Walks are another story. Think about all the things your dog’s paws touch during your walks. Remember he’s barefooted. He could be walking through salt or other thawing agents from the roads or sidewalks. There might even be anti-freeze mixing in there. And imagine all the ice that could be packing in his paws. That builds up and hurts his paws. Two possibilities can help. First, be sure to clean your dog’s feet off as soon as you get back to your house. Second, consider getting some boots for him. Pet supply stores usually carry them so you can try them on before buying.

Then there are the times when you might be transporting your pet somewhere. Be sure to line the carrier with something warm and cuddly. Also consider a cover for the carrier. I made a couple for my carriers when I was showing my cats. They are made of fleece and sewn to fit the carriers. I used Velcro on the front flap to make it easy to open. You might also put sweaters on your cats or shorthair dogs to help keep them warm.

This cold spell may only be temporary but winter is coming. Let’s all prepare for it now.

How do you protect your pets from winter hazards? Do you have some that I’ve left out?

Monday, October 7, 2019

A Cat Show and More

Maine Coons playing it cool

I’m sorry I’m so late with my Sunday Selfies hosted by Cat On My Head post but I spent the weekend at a local cat show. The weekend started out with a horrible thunderstorm. Of course I drove through the worst of it. I thought it was like God emptying his buckets of water on me. Then he added scary lightning bolts to accentuate the storm. Eventually I made it to the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines. We have a guest selfie today. He'll appear at the end.

Have you ever been to a cat show? Regardless of the association that backs them, cat shows serve many purposes. First of all they help to promote the pedigreed cat. It’s a great place to learn about the many different breeds. You might have a chance to visit with the breeders themselves to learn about the breed and any kittens they have available for purchase. I was surprised to see two new breeds, the Toybob and the Kurilian Bobtail.
Kurilian Bobtail and a Maine Coon

Then there are the vendors. You might find just about anything related to cats at a show. At this show, the annual Cat-n-Around Cat Club show (an American Cat Fancier's Association club), vendors included cat supplies (toys galore, beds, show tents, grooming tools, bowls and more toys!), a booth with bows, collars and leashes, a cat furniture booth, a cleaning products booth and my sister’s booth of amazing artwork that features . . . cats!


Many clubs also have a raffle to help raise money. In most cases, if they make a profit, the money is donated to a needy cat-related organization. Cat shows help to raise awareness of cat issues. At this show a local rescue, Happy Tails Ranch and Rescue, had a booth where they sold baskets to raise money and had some adoptable kittens for people to fawn over. They didn’t adopt them out at the show but rather took applications for possible rescues. That way they can check references before adopting out any animals.

And my favorite part of the show is the Household Pet class where mixed breed cats and pedigreed cats that don’t qualify for the championship classes can compete for the highest honors. At this show one particular cat stood out to me. His name was Sunshine. He was a bright light on a dreary weekend.

Sunshine originally came from a Missouri rescue. He’d had a virus that took his eyesight. Yes, he was totally blind but still qualified for the Household Pet class because he was a friendly guy, well groomed and otherwise healthy. That’s all we ask of our Household Pet competitors. Oh, and the judges have to like them. I don’t know how well Sunshine did overall but in the one ring I was able to watch he took the Best Cat award. He made me smile and he wasn’t even my cat!

Yes, I think it was a good weekend spent with friends and cats. Much better than a weekend mowing my lawn. And my Iowa State Cyclones won!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Finding Your Veterinarian

We are joining Cat on my Head for the Sunday Selfies blog hop
Gooseberry barely awake for his selfie
While Gooseberry is a ham for the camera, others are quite shy:
Mulberry Spot saying "No, you can't see my black nose!"

I’ve been lucky when it comes to finding a veterinarian. My first excursion in hunting for a veterinarian started when I was a sophomore in high school. I needed to do some volunteer work for a school project. Because I wanted to go to vet school I decided to volunteer at a local veterinary hospital. The closest one was Eastown Animal Hospital in Des Moines. Dr. Denhart had just bought the hospital and was still getting set-up so he needed help. He offered to show me the ropes in exchange for my help cleaning kennels.

I believe the first animal I took in to see him was my pet goose, Cornelius, who was limping. An X-ray showed nothing wrong so we had to assume it was just a sprain. Eventually I was hired (for $1.90 an hour) and took my animals to him for three years. Later I would work in several different clinics with many wonderful veterinarians. My latest veterinarian was a friend first. When my previous veterinarian decided to retire, I switched to this clinic. So you see, I was lucky.

However, if I wasn’t so lucky I hope I would have gone through these steps to finding a veterinarian:

1.     Do your research. Ask friends whom they recommend. If you have a cat, look for a cat-only clinic. Check to see if any clinics are AAHA approved, and Fear Free Certified. These certifications should give you the assurance that you are visiting a modern, progressive facility. However, to be AAHA certified, clinics must adhere to some pretty strict guidelines. Even without that certification some clinics may be pretty good depending, of course, upon the veterinarian and staff.
2.     Make an appointment. Once you’ve found a clinic you think you’d want to go to, offer to pay an examination fee so that you can tour the clinic and visit with the staff. It wouldn’t take long, just 15 minutes or so until you feel comfortable. Find out if the clinic is clean and organized. Are the kennels for cats separate from those of the dogs? What about the waiting areas – are they comfortable? Do they have separate dog and cat areas? Do the receptionists greet you immediately when you enter? Were they friendly on the phone?
3.     Take your pet. If you feel this clinic has passed your inspection make an appointment to take in your pet. Maybe it is only for a good physical or maybe your pet is due for vaccinations or a geriatric panel. This will give you a chance to visit with the veterinarian and see how he/she treats your pet.
4.     Visit another clinic. Maybe the first clinic is the one you go to or maybe you need to visit more than one to find the right one. It will be worth it in the end. You won’t have to worry about where to go in an emergency.

As I wrote last week, having a primary veterinarian has its perks. You’ll know what to expect and they will know you and your pet. If you have a primary veterinarian already how did you find them?

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Primary veterinarians

We are joining the Cat on my Head Sunday Selfies today and Jabberwoky Glitter is our model. 

Who do you see when your pet needs vaccinations? What about in an emergency? Would it be the same veterinarian for both situations?

Jabberwoky Glitter won't look at the camera!
Do you have a primary veterinarian? Having a primary veterinarian is important not only in emergencies but also during routine visits. Even if you only go once a year, your primary veterinarian knows your pet and has a record of him. If you don’t see a veterinarian regularly, how would they notice if something has changed?

My veterinarian takes photographs of anything abnormal or just a little different so that we can compare it on our next visit. That applies to little things like a discoloration or a wound, not just alarming things like lumps and bumps. Your primary veterinarian keeps up on the latest in veterinary medicine and can inform you if anything applies to your pet’s situation.
B.W. Huckleberry wanted in on this too

If you don’t see a veterinarian regularly what do you do when an issue arises? Do you head for whatever clinic is closest, or do you begrudgingly drag your pet to a specialty or emergency referral clinic? Neither of these options gives you personalized service because they don’t know you or your pet. At a new clinic they will immediately ask for your pet’s vaccination records. If the vaccinations are not up-to-date they may decide to give them or wait until the issue is alleviated first.

Not all communities have referral clinics and/or emergency facilities for pets so your primary veterinarian is your only choice in emergencies. But if you had a choice who would you choose? If the emergency is after regular hours will they agree to come in for someone they don’t know – you?

No, the time to pick a veterinarian is before your pet has an emergent condition. Pick one, scope out the clinic/hospital and determine if they can meet your needs for your pet. Next week I’ll write about how to find a veterinarian.

Sunday, September 15, 2019


       I attended a veterinary conference this week and learned a lot about euthanasia. You might be thinking that’s a strange thing to study but it is an art, as our speaker pointed out. But that’s the veterinary side. It can be art on your side of the table as well.
     Have you ever thought about euthanasia? I mean, at a time when you aren’t facing that ultimate decision. There was a time when I didn’t believe in euthanasia. When my beloved cat, Gabrielle’s Galaxy was screaming in pain I changed my mind. Further, I believe we should be better informed caretakers of our pets and be prepared to make crucial decisions on their behalf. 

Thai Tsunami Toy and Gabrielle's Galaxy

     First be familiar with the Quality of Life Scale and be able to interpret your pet’s condition. Is she having more bad days than good days? Is she struggling to catch a breath? Has she stopped eating no matter what you offer her? Only you know when it’s time to help her out and end the suffering, although your veterinarian can help you tell. 
     One thing I learned from this speaker was that really, you want to elect euthanasia BEFORE the suffering begins. That’s one of my downfalls. I nearly always wait too long before choosing euthanasia. I just want to hang on to a cat or dog who really wants to leave. I have a hard time letting go. 

Ineffable "Effie"
     What about you, have you been able to find the right time to let your precious ones go? Did you go through a particularly hard choice at the end of your pet’s life? I know it’s a tough subject but one we all need to think about ahead of time. 
      We are joining The Cat On My Head Sunday Selfies today.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Mast cell tumors in cats

   (Sorry for the bad photo. It was pre-digital)
  Twenty years ago last month I lost my Maine Coon-like cat, Lando Calrissian to mast cell tumors (MCT). He was 19 years old. I find this ironic because that’s exactly what Gooseberry’s tumor is.

 (Gooseberry-left-and brother Strawberry-right)
    Lando was one in a litter of six kittens. Three of his brothers developed muscular dystrophy but he remained robust. At age ten I found the first MCT, a tiny little bump on his cheek and a few smaller ones around his ear but we had them removed anyway. The pathologist named them MCTs and told me that if he didn’t have another one in the next year he should be okay. 
     Just one year later I found another tiny bump. Once again it was a MCT and once again I received the same directive, if he had another one within a year he would probably continue to have more. I sometimes wonder if the fact that his first ones were multiples should have been a clue that he would have more. 
     Lando continued to have more tumors show up. But finally it all caught up with him. We found mast cells in his blood and tumors on his liver. We started him on chemotherapy. Though he finally died of MCT he had lived to the ripe old age of 19 so that’s not bad. 
     Lando’s brother Zeit Geist also had a MCT when he was about 12 years old but that was it. He never had another one. That’s what I’m hoping for Gooseberry. His MCT didn’t show up until he was 11 years old so maybe that’s a good sign. I can always hope. 
     Have any of your cats had MCTs? If so, what did you do? 
      This is a Sunday Selfies blog hop. Our host is

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Ginger Cat Selfies

Gooseberry is joining the Sunday Selfie Blog Hop again this week even though he was too busy trying to see his nose freckles to take a selfie himself. This is an old one. 

This week he is doing so much better. He is getting used to or at least tolerating his collar and the staples are still in. Hopefully we’ll hear soon what the biopsy shows. 

Gooseberry’s brother, Strawberry, is a ginger cat (or red tabby in the show world) as well but I couldn’t find my photos of him. He’s extremely hard to photograph but I’ll keep trying 😀 

Here's a link to our host The Cat on My Head