Saturday, January 22, 2011

Veturday Round II

Brodie went in for his shot boosters and check-up this morning (following his siblings' visit last week). As I'd sort of suspected would be the case, he took the carrier and car ride with a lot less angst than his siblings. Even though he's the most timid around visitors to the house, he actually seems to be the bravest when it comes to things like Adventures In The Car. It's really interesting seeing how complex the siblings' personalities are in that you can't just label them as over-archingly "the brave one" or "the scaredy-cat" because they're all brave and scaredy about different sorts of things.

But I digress. Per the vet, Brodie appears to be in lovely health. No heart murmur either, hooray! The only small area of concern is that Brodie actually does appear to have some (probably genetic) susceptibility to gingivitis. He eats the same stuff as his siblings, his gums just seem more sensitive and for some reason food seems to "stick" more to his upper teeth. So in an effort to stave off further problems I am going to at least attempt to start brushing his teeth regularly. I tried it today and he wasn't entirely happy with having a little plastic thing shoved into his mouth, but he was a very good sport about it and I managed to at least touch all the relevant tooth-surfaces with the brush. Next time I might try one of the little "finger" brushes I got a while back but never really got into the habit of using on the kitties.

Oh and Brodie weighed in at a nice 13.5 pounds. Which the vet seemed totally happy with, and which looks like a good size for his overall frame (which is long and squarish but not as block-like as Shadow's).

In any case, I and the kitties are very glad to have all that vet business over with. Next up on the catblogging agenda: more pictures, and possibly some videos of the youngsters working out a new puzzle!


  1. PhysioCat has had problems with tooth decay, and has had a number of teeth pulled. It hasn't seemed to affect his quality of life at all.

  2. Cats can be so variable about hygiene. I had one kitten (the one my ex stole) who was very fixated on having her daily bath (as in she'd jump into the sink and cry if I was late), but others generally treat it like an imposition and complain. Thankfully, none have ever attacked me. :)

    I never had to brush any cat's teeth, though.

    A friend of mine had to have some of her cat's teeth pulled (said cat is about 12 now?), and it did improve his quality of life. Being able to eat without pain is a big improvement, but prevention definitely > cure in such a case, I think.

  3. CPP: Yeah, from what I've observed, if a cat is having serious dental issues their quality (and quantity) of life can go way UP if the problem teeth are removed. My SO's neighbors used to have a cat that they were convinced was dying because he stopped eating and got really weak, but he bounced right back after having a few rotten teeth removed. And Nikki seems none the worse for the wear a few months after having her broken canine tooth yanked out. The recovery wasn't fun for her but she's well over that now.

  4. Lisa Harney: o_0 wow. I've never seen a cat THAT enthusiastic about baths! At least not IRL. I've watched a number of youtube videos of cats swimming in the bathtub, though, who really seem to be enjoying themselves.

    As for toothbrushing, I've not tried the girls yet, but neither Brodie nor Shadow seemed to mind very much. Neither of the boys minds nail clipping, either...they just lie there and purr, like it's a paw massage or something. Nikki tolerates it, and Cora hateses the clippers (though the last time I did hers, I managed it by waiting until she was distracted by watching a squirrel outside).

    And yeah, being able to eat without pain = a very good thing. Bad teeth (and gums) can also lead to even worse systemic problems down the line, so definitely it's worth trying to prevent problems if at all possible rather than end up dealing with them only when they've become dangerous.

  5. Yeah - I don't remember if I mentioned her here before. She was a neighbor child's kitten, and said child abused the kitten so badly she was on the verge of death when we got her (with his mother's blessing). He'd do things like leave her under a cardboard box and unable to escape around noon in August.

    Anyway, when I got her, she was about four months old, I think Very young, very tiny, malnourished, dehydrated, and anemic due to having a flea colony covering her skin. When I first got her, she was so filthy from dirt and flea dust that I gave her a bath immediately - she had no energy to fight this, she just sort of sat in the water and let me do my thing. And I mean there was so much flea dust it was like dried blood was coming off of her in sheets (well, it technically was, but you know). Also found out that she had white fur, which was not at all apparent before her bath.

    So, I made a kind of triage decision to use flea powder on her. I mean, I knew it could kill her, but so would all those fleas, right? So the daily ritual was a bath, and the flea powder was not daily because it would knock her for a loop, but it had to be enough to kill all the fleas - which it did.

    The side effect of the bathing was we found that if she was bathed every day, my ex's allergies wouldn't be triggered at all, so I kept the bathing up, and I guess, having that as part of her routine from the first day we had her, it was a required thing for her.

    She was pretty smart, too. She'd mimic people - she'd pick up and hold pencils vertically and move them around like she was writing? And she'd pick up and drop dice like she was rolling them? She learned to use a koosh ball as surrogate whiskers (and play fetch with it). Honestly, I am still very grudgey about my ex stealing her when I left, and it was very much a naked ploy to keep a hold on me. I wish I could have kept her, but I was pretty sure the cat* wouldn't be in any danger and I would be.

    And oh yeah, on rotten teeth. The first thing I usually think of when a cat refuses to eat is "rotten teeth." Isn't this like the most common cause?

    * I never named her. For some reason I have trouble actually naming my pets and tend to think of them in terms of what they look like, even after I name them. I probably should be better about calling them by name, but I prefer trying to mimic cat sounds to communicate.

  6. Lisa Harney: Oh wow, that's awful that the kitty in your story was treated so badly. :( At least the mom had the sense to figure the cat was better off with someone other than her kid, but still. Hopefully your ex treats her well, even if it didn't work out between the humans.

    But in any case, the bath thing makes a lot more sense with that background story. I have definitely noticed cats like their routines, only what ends up becoming an important routine varies from cat to cat. And re. allergies, I used to give my Siamese cat Tim baths when I was a teenager because he'd actually acclimated to them and it did cut down on the fur-and-dander quotient. I'd love to be able to give Nikki baths seeing as she is the most incredible shedder I've ever met, but she's really just not a fan so I try to make due with Furmination and the occasional damp cloth wipe-down.

  7. Oh yeah and I'm also weird about names. Matt actually picked the names for all three younger cats, which I was glad of because they all ended up being perfect (Matt is really good with names). I can get accustomed to names but it always makes me feel strangely self-conscious (or something similar) to USE them at first, especially aloud. Almost like "who am I to decide what to call them?" I get over it eventually but I can definitely understand having trouble picking and using names.

  8. She'd be 15 years old now. My ex either would have treated her well or given her away, but I think she would have been careful as to how she managed that. She was ridiculously awful with people but seemed okay with cats.

    And yeah, I've definitely noticed cats love their routines, and love things to remain the same. I had one cat get so frustrated at me moving her favorite scratching post that she tried to jump on the now-gone scratching post, which obviously made her even more frustrated. Poor cat. I was moving elsewhere, or it wouldn't have been moved at all.

    I'm weird about people's names, too. If I meet them the first time face to face, it can take a few meetings before the name sticks to the person in my brain. I sometimes remember who they are, but not by name.

    But my cats, yeah, I just wouldn't name them because they and I know who they are. :D

  9. i came across your site as i was trying to find out why the cats i have 'adopted' all jump on one little tabby and bite the back of her neck. Anyway i forgot about why i was 'surfing' and was really enjoying your posts about your cats . I can relate as I have Leo (indoor cat, tabby) and Salem (indoor fluffy black cat). They look very similar to your two indoor cats. Then I have five out door cats that live under the house. 'Mr Thomas' turned up one day with four little kittens in tow and they decided to stay. We have 'snowball' (black cat) ; 'spookie' (black cat); Cleo (fluffy tabby) and 'KC' (fluffy tabby) .. Since I have been feeding them they have become so friendly, biting my toes and wanting lots of attention. I even managed to brush 'snowball' yesterday. I can pick them up for a second but gently put them down as soon as they start feeling threatened. They understand the words 'its ok'. I would like to take them to get spayed and neutured. I cant afford to pay for it so this new system of trapping and bringing back to the colony would be wonderful. 'Mr Thomas' i think needs to be done first .. he seems to get into fights and i was wondering if he were neutered , would that stop him fighting ?

  10. Louise: Hello and welcome! Yes, you should definitely get the outside cats spayed and neutered. They will live longer and much less stressful lives.

    And if you are seeing the *outside* cats jump on the little tabby and bite her neck and NONE of them are fixed...well, you could be in for a lot more kittens soon. And as wonderful as kittens are, there are so many that need homes you can do a lot more good by helping reduce the amount of reproduction that goes on.

    Neutering male kitties will also definitely cut way down on fighting, since they won't be fighting over the ladies anymore. Tomcat fights are pretty serious business...lots of abscesses and torn ears and eye injuries. Plus un-neutered males will roam for miles looking for a girlfriend, which makes them more susceptible to getting hit by cars or eaten by larger predators (e.g., coyotes). Neutered males stick closer to home.

    Depending on where you live they might even have a free or low-cost program for ferals at a local clinic or Humane Society. You can also ask your vet if she/he knows of anything like that nearby. And if you need to borrow traps (most places require feral cats to be in humane box-type traps) you can often rent or borrow those from shelters or even pet stores.

    Anyway, good luck, and wonderful to hear you are thinking about helping the outdoor kitties!

  11. Louise: Oh, and also, I forgot to say in my last comment that the neck-biting is not necessarily ALWAYS a mating thing. Young kittens and neutered adult cats sometimes bite each other's necks while playing, or when one is trying to assert dominance ("I am the boss of you!") over the other.

    But again, it's important to get the kitties fixed regardless of why they're doing the neck-biting. Cats past puberty are VERY motivated in the reproductive department, and it's pretty much a guarantee that someone is going to get pregnant really soon if they're not all neutered in short order. Female cats are what is called "induced ovulators", which basically means they're in heat (receptive to male advances) constantly until they manage to get pregnant, and in cats, mating even once almost always leads to pregnancy.

    This is obviously a good thing in harsh, wild environments when kitten mortality is very high (meaning in order to pass on genes, reproduction has to happen often and prolifically) but in situations like suburban back yards (where food and shelter are plentiful) it's really TOO robust of a system, and the population can get out of hand REALLY fast. And since kitties don't seem inclined to start their own family planning clinics or give their kittens "the talk", it's up to us humans to manage that stuff for them.

  12. thankyou for welcoming me .. yes .. i was under the impression that maybe they might be playing as both of my male cats do the same thing to each other .. and Leo will definately do that the Salem if they are racing each other to get in the house first !!!!! . I think i will , this week go over to our humane society and borrow a couple of traps .. even though the kittens are pretty friendly , i could probably just pick them up and put them in a pet carrier . I was just thinking .. what would happen if im too late for the females ? .. if i took them into be spayed and they were already pregnant .. would the vet have to wait until the kittens were born ??? Im pretty sure none are pregnant yet .. but just in case ..

  13. Louise: Oh yeah, my (fixed, indoor) kitties definitely neck-bite each other while playing. Or at least the younger three do...Nikki will be 10 this year and I doubt she'd let any of the others get near enough to her for anything like that! The others are nearly 2 years old now but that's still very young for cats, so they have tons of energy. They play very vigorously and quite noisily, chasing each other and leaping across furniture all over the house! But unlike in real fighting, nobody actually gets hurt. It just looks and sounds impressive and dramatic.

    Re. putting the kittens in a carrier, you'll need to check with whatever clinic you plan on going to, to see if that is okay. I wish it WERE okay because it often seems really strange to me to need an entire big trap for one little kitten, but some clinics have strict regulations about cats classified as "ferals", no matter how friendly they might actually be.

    Of course they will still spay/neuter any friendly-enough-to-handle cats brought in in carriers, but they will likely charge you the regular amount rather than the "reduced feral rate". Which is annoying but I guess they are trying to make sure people don't use up the free/reduced-rate clinic spots getting their indoor/fully-socialized cats fixed.

    Also be aware that cats fixed as ferals will usually have the very tip (pointy bit) of one ear snipped while under anaesthesia for neutering...this is called ear tipping (and you can read more about it by clicking the link). It's for identification purposes, so the kitties aren't inadvertently trapped a second time by people who don't know whether they're fixed or not. It also marks them as cats who are being fed/cared for by someone, as opposed to abandoned or "lost" cats. I don't know how much it hurts but my guess is probably less than the neuter surgery, and I know many ear-tipped cats who don't appear to care that they're slightly asymmetrical afterward. :P

    (Suzie is an ear-tipped cat in the local you can see, it's not super dramatic or anything, just enough to be noticeable.)

  14. Louise: Regarding pregnant cats and spaying...some clinics will spay ANY cat regardless of pregnancy (or being in heat), but some won't. It depends on the doctor's and/or client's comfort level with such things, and on the doctor's experience and skill level.

    If the cat was in such an early stage of pregnancy that you couldn't even tell she was pregnant, personally I would be inclined to go ahead with the spay. It would be less physically taxing for the cat than childbirth, at the very least (pregnancy is actually VERY hard on cats, and young mothers are especially vulnerable to complications, etc.).

    But if it gets to the point where MomCat is looking huge and starting to do the waddle-walk, I would (again, personally) prefer to let her have the kittens and then just make sure and get mom fixed ASAP after they are born. Incidentally, mother cats CAN be safely spayed when nursing, and most shelters will now spay/neuter kittens as young as two months old (and/or who weigh at least two pounds).

    In any case, though, again it's going to be up to what you and/or the doctor are comfortable with. Definitely call ahead and ask so there aren't any surprises.

  15. Anne .. thankyou so much for all your advice and support .. I can really understand what you are saying about the traps. I tried calling the Humane Society to ask questions but the answerphone for questions was full up so i am going to have try again another day . I might just drive over there and pick up a couple of traps . I was thinking , after the operation .. I could keep the cats in my bathroom for 24 hours before letting them back outside .. what do you think ? .. or should i return them back out back as soon as they get home ?

  16. Louise: Hi again, sorry for the delay in replying...have been very busy this week, partly due to lots of the very stuff you are writing about!

    Regarding keeping the cats after the operation: they do need some time in a safe place to fully recover from the anaesthesia. The medication can leave them disoriented for at least a few hours after surgery, and it's not safe for them to be outside until they're back to looking and acting alert.

    As for how long to keep them, different groups/clinics seem to have differing advice on that. But most commonly I see the recommendation to keep them at least overnight after surgery, then let them go in the morning. Mind you, some female cats may benefit from a somewhat longer recovery time, seeing as spaying is a lot more complex of an operation than neutering. My little guys didn't even have stitches after they were neutered, and you could barely see the incisions even when they were fresh. So as long as they're looking perky, the boys can probably go back out a bit earlier.

    With females it varies; younger ones will "bounce back" faster and can go out sooner than older ones, generally speaking.

    Lots of places seem to recommend keeping the girls in recovery for 48 hours but unless there seems to be a clear medical need for 2 days of confinement I wouldn't be inclined to keep them that long myself -- unless I had somewhere to let them rest safely OUTSIDE the trap, where they'd have access to a litterbox and whatnot.


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