Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday Medical issues: Antifreeze

Yesterday I went outside to find my husband tackling a radiator. Jury’s out on who won that round – him or the radiator – but in the act of replacing it, copious amounts of antifreeze were unloaded into a big round pan.

And I’d just let Allie out to help me dig holes in the garden! EEK!

I scooped that pan up so fast (okay, not so fast that any of it sloshed out!) and stuck it high up on a shelf where no cat or dog could access it.

The reason for my panic is that antifreeze is deadly to pets. If a cat were to simply walk through it and lick the antifreeze off its paws – that’s enough to kill. And a mere 5 tablespoons of the stuff is fatal to a medium sized dog.

Sadly, both dogs and cats – and children, too! – appear to be drawn to antifreeze. I’m not sure what makes it seem so tasty to them, but if allowed, they’ll drink it.

Antifreeze contains Ethylene (or Diethylene) Glycol, which breaks down into toxic substances once processed through the liver. These toxic substances will then cause kidney failure if not treated immediately – or faster than that! – since absorption can occur so quickly.

Once Ethylene Glycol is ingested, it is rapidly absorbed into the liver from the intestines, and you can begin to see symptoms as soon as 30 minutes after your pet has been exposed. If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested antifreeze, urgently seek emergency help.

If caught quickly enough a vet can administer a drug that temporarily suspends liver function, allowing the antifreeze to pass through the system without breaking down into its toxic components.

They will most probably induce vomiting to expel any remaining antifreeze in the stomach before it hits the intestines, as well as feeding your pet charcoal to bind to any remaining antifreeze.

The charcoal will prevent the intestines from absorbing the antifreeze and sending it on to the liver.

The odds that all antifreeze will be caught before metabolizing are very slim, though, but an emergency vet can also place your pet on dialysis to flush the kidneys and help mitigate the damaging effects of the antifreeze. Hopefully with swift action, the kidneys will be hit with a small enough amount of poison and they will be able to repair themselves.

The best thing you can do, though, is to practice prevention.

Please don’t underestimate the extreme hazard of this substance – to dogs, cats and children. Keep such harmful toxins stored safely out of reach – and if spills occur, immediately saturate the surface with water to dilute and disperse.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Study in Blues

This is our entry in this week's Saturday Photohunt: Textures

A Study in Blues

Starting with a Blue Point Boy....

We're participating in Weekend Cat Blogging - today it's (sorta) hosted according to Pam at Sidewalk Shoes!

Friday, April 27, 2012

What questions would you like to ask?

Momma's writing a review for Jackson Galaxy's soon to be released book, "Cat Daddy".

*swoooon!* Oooooh Jackson! He's my Hero!

Oh look. Allie fainted again.


I'll be interviewing Jackson this weekend - and the cats of A Tonk's Tail want your help:  what would you like to know about Jackson? What questions would you like us to ask?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A whole lot of Meow to meow about

Yesterday afternoon, Jackson Galaxy popped online to ask us cat bloggers to spread the word about Meow.

So we're preempting our Wordless Wednesday for this story. (But just for a day. Faraday designated tomorrow "Belated Wordless Wednesday".)

Meow recently found himself in the care of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter & Humane Society, in Santa Fe, New Mexico after his 87-year-old human could no longer care for him.

On the surface, Meow's story sounds like one of the typical tales we hear in shelters the world over.  It's his condition that makes this situation different - and what captured Jackson's heart when he asked us for help to rehome this big guy.

And when I say big, I mean over 39 pounds of kitty... on a 12-pound kitty frame.

If you do the math, that's the equivalent of a man with an average build who should normally weigh 175 pounds topping the scales at 570.

Meow is in desperate need of a seasoned cat lover who will give this two year old boy a home and help him shed the pounds -- safely! -- so he can live a long, healthy, active life.

Did I mention the word 'safely'? This is going to be a critical life-or-death part of the equation. Weight loss in obese cats can trigger hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease -- almost always fatal to cats.

You can read about it in more detail in the above link, but basically the best way for Meow to shed the pounds is to be on a 'Catkins Diet'. Since cats are obligate carnivores, they need protein and lots of it. No grains, no starch - both of which are found in the kinds of cat food that frequent grocery store shelves.

If you know anyone in the Santa Fe area who understands the special needs of an overweight kitty and who might have a place in their heart for Meow, please contact the Santa Fe Animal Shelter and Humane Society at (505)983-4309.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oh My Cat! Our Own Infographic!

Thanks to BlogPaws, we've discovered's new infographic tool.

Just by logging into your twitter account at's Twitter Infographic Page, you, too, can have your own! (Or you can face-off with another tweep fun!)

Here's how we stack up:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Medical Issues: Bobcat Fever

One of the "joys" of living in the middle of the country (or in warmer climes to the south) are the bugs. And the fact we had such a mild winter guessed it - more bugs!

Some of those bugs can cause some serious health problems with your pets. Thankfully, an ounce (or less) of prevention on the back of the neck once a month saves a lot of headaches. And in some cases, heartaches.

The culprit: Lone Star Tick
As you know, I'm talking about flea/tick/heartworm prevention products such as Advantage or Revolution.

And the reason I mention heartaches is because two of those little bugs buggers can be fatal. This week, we're talking ticks.

Ticks transmit a disease called Bobcat Fever that - up until this year - was almost always fatal to domestic housecats. There is no way to trace the disease, and symptoms are usually very vague - at least in early stage. Lethargy, fever.

But internally, this disease is wreaking havoc, clogging arteries and causing a cascade of irreversible organ failure. In one vet's words, a terrible way to die.

Areas with the most Bobcat Fever cases
Summertime brings a lot of cases to the midwest and southern United States. In rural areas south of Kansas City, it's not unheard of for veterinarians to see three cases or more a week during tick season. But now, for an infected housecat, there's hope. And it's home grown, too.

Dr. Leah Cohn, professor of veterinary internal medicine at the University of Missouri, along with Adam Birkenheuer of North Carolina State University, have come up with a treatment to combat Bobcat Fever. We won't go into the nitty gritty, except to say that the disease is in the same family as malaria and is favorably responding to a cocktail of malaria-type drugs and antibiotics.

In their study, 60% of the infected cats survived after receiving Cohn's new treatment. it's not perfect, but 6 out of 10 cats will now have a chance thanks to Drs. Cohn & Birhenheuer!

Bobcat photo: ucumari. Published via Creative Commons.

One vet who's been dealing with the devastation of Bobcat Fever is Ellen Ratcliff, who practices in the Springfield, MO area. She said that since she graduated vet school 11 years ago, pretty much every cat that contracted the disease died from it. Last summer, with the new medications onboard, almost all of the 25 infected cats she treated were released.

Of course, one almost foolproof way to save yourself a lot of vet expense and heart-stopping worry is to keep your cats indoors. As bobcat fever is transmitted exclusively through ticks or transfusion of infected blood, an indoors-only cat is most probably safe.

But as our vet is fond of saying, it only takes one bite, from one bug.

Just ask Zac March, director of eLearning at MU. His cat rarely went outside, yet was bittten by a tick and infected last year. She was one of the few who did not respond to the treatment - and sadly, they lost her.

Another thing, if you're like me and you have a kitty with clever paws (yes, I'm looking at you, Maxwell!) then you may have the occasional escape artist on your hands. So we happily pay $15/month and apply flea, tick & heartworm prevention.

Please read labels carefully when applying medication - drugs intended for dogs can kill cats!

Source: The Columbia Missourian.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

We're guest starring this week!

We're sooooo exited, we just had to share the news:
Oskar & Pam over at Pet Blogs United made us this week's Featured Blogger!

If you haven't ever met Oskar or Pam, please go over there and browse for a bit. They're pawesome peeps and great animal advocates and pals. (Oskar might even give you one of his famous nubbin wiggles too!)

Thanks, guys, for thinking of us!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Saturday PhotoHunt: Reflect


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Thankful Thursday

We're thankful that 2 years ago today, a sweet little (deaf) blue point Siamese baby was born.

We love you Maxie!

Maxie: road-trippin'
Our "Gentle Soul"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

Allie: oooh! Our Silvervine Pillows came from Nip and Bones!

This pink one is *just* what a girl needs!

Faraday: Allie, I'm worried about you. I really am.

What magical property is in silvervine? It seems more 'addictive" than even catnip! (At least for Allie...)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Monday Medical Issues: Choking Hazards

A while ago, I spent a few hours with another volunteer at Wayside Waifs going through a rather large box of donated cat toys. Sadly, about half had to be thrown out because they were deemed to be unsafe for cats to play with - at least while unsupervised.

Many of these were still in their packages - purchased, no doubt, in a store's pet department or even in a specialty pet store. It's probably a bit surprising and certainly a bit of a disconnect to think that products made for cats and dogs aren't safe for them. Yet that is often the case.


Why would products made for pets be unsafe? Many pose a choking hazard. Thankfully, this is an easy problem to fix.

When purchasing a new toy, examine it for small attachments that are of a size that could be swallowed, or are small enough for them to choke on: mice might have small plastic eyes attached, wand toys might have bells. Balls might be wound with yard that can come unraveled and ingested.

If you see such attachments, clip them off and you should be good to go.

In addition to choking hazards, some "classics" can cause major medical issues if ingested.

Who hasn't heard of the classic 'cat playing with a ball of yarn'? Unfortunately, yarn, string, twine, rubber bands, thread and other such items can cause intestinal blockage or perforation - both of which are life-threatening issues.

I know this firsthand. Years ago I'd left my sewing machine out, along with a dress I was mending. Ryker's older brother, Caleb, decided to munch on the spool that was threaded through the machine. I didn't notice - and three days later when he became listless and stopped eating, the vet discovered the thread had perforated his intestines in almost a dozen places. He would have died without emergency surgery. Needless to say, I am extremely cautious now when doing that rare bit of sewing or knitting (since I'm not that crafty a person Faraday, Max and Allie are fortunately pretty safe around here!).

If you ever do see a bit of yarn or string coming out the back end of your pet, please don't pull on it - that might cause intestinal damage as well. Best to have it checked out by your vet to ensure it's properly removed without harm to your dog or cat.

Feathers can cause intestinal trouble if ingested too. So as dearly as Faraday loves his wand toys - and as much as they love Da Bird - once playtime is over, those items get put back in the drawer.

If that seems a bit extreme, consider this: not only can feathers be ingested and cause intestinal problems, but some cats like Faraday are extremely enthusiastic in their play and will run madly through the house holding a wand toy by its feathers and completely ignoring the 2 feet of stiff plastic handle protruding out from it.

There have been times we were afraid he would impale himself on the wand part of the toy if he was unsupervised - he's just that fast and energetic!

We don't mean to scare you away from playtime - it's a critical element in your pet's health and can provide both physical and mental stimulation.  We're just suggesting you might want to use caution when choosing the toys that you'll leave out while at work or when going out of town.

We personally can't think of another single toy that has caused more excitement around our house (and burned more kitty calories, too!) than feather wand toys. No, we don't leave them out unsupervised, but we get them out every day. And if we forget, either Faraday or Maxwell can be found camped out on the counter right above the drawer where they reside. Usually looking at us plaintively until we cave and drag out Da Bird for 30 minutes of non-stop romping.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Be The Change: "Kitten Season"

Blog the Change

We are proud to participate in Be The Change For Animal's quarterly Blog The Change event.

Please go to BTC4A's website and be sure to read all the great posts by bloggers who are participating as we are!

Kitten Season

Kittens will begin to inundate shelters as early as March, ushering in what shelter workers have labeled "Kitten Season." Shelter volunteers dread this time of year, particularly in high-kill shelters where the presence of a cute kitten often sounds the death knell for adult cats who are invariably passed over as people opt for the cuddly "baby package" instead.

Photo via Creative Commons 2.0, courtesy Or Hiltch 

This is a battle volunteers and rescue workers fight year after year - and the battle cry is "Spay! Spay! Spay!"

Here's why:

The first time a cat will go into heat is somewhere around the age of 5 to 12 months. Until they are spayed - or become pregnant - the cycle will repeat every 4 to 6 weeks thereafter.

A single unspayed female cat over the course of 12 years can generate over 3,000 offspring.

The folks over at the Cat Fanciers' Association did the math for you:

"The average stray female will have 5.25 litters in her lifetime, encompassing 22.3 kittens. At age two months there should be 12.9 survivors, roughly six females and seven males (at maturity, roughly 2/3 of the stray cat population is male,(6) due to the high mortality of females during first pregnancy and birth), which will decrease to four females over time. These six females will go on to have their 22 surviving kittens each.

Realistically, over 12 years one unspayed female with all her unspayed female offspring can reasonably be expected to be responsible for over 3200 kittens if there is no human intervention."

Photo courtesy em...ily via Creative Commons 2.0

Because of this, organizations nationwide are beginning to organize events such as "Beat the Heat" spay clinics.

Thanks to PetSmart Charities, 65 clinics in 31 states received funding to offer spay/neuter surgeries at discounted prices.

Specifically this February, these clinics spayed hundreds of female cats for only $20 each.

As a result, they were able to keep over 17,000 kitties from ever going into heat again, preventing many of the unplanned litters that populate so many shelters across the U.S. each spring.

What you can do

  1. Encourage your local shelters to participate in next year's "Beat the Heat" campaign and actively work with local TNR communities to rally the community behind it. A successful "Beat the Heat" campaign can help keep feral cat colony populations under control as well.
  2.  Invest in TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) in your community. TNR works - it's as simple as that. For more information on TNR, please visit Alley Cat Allies' website.
    And if you want to experience how TNR works through the eyes of a first-time participant, please go to Okey's Promise blog and read along as artist BZ TAT experiences firsthand the rewards of helping to trap, vaccinate, "fix" and release a feral cat colony near Canton, Ohio.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our Five Fave Tweets: April 2012

Since most of you only know us through blogging...
And since this blog sprang from our presence in the twitterverse...

We're happy to present to you a new monthly series:

Our Five Fave Tweets!

*drum roll pleeeez*

FaRADaY: (to friend) *deep breath* Happy BIIIIIRFDAY TOOOO YOUUUUUWWWWWWWL --
Maxwell: *slaps paw over F's mouth* Good thing I'm partially deaf. Hey look, the window cracked.

OOH Mother! Where'd you hide your credit ca-- I mean... I'm sure it's been a long day for you. Here, let me help you put away your purse *innocent look* 

FaRADaY: FYI the condition of the toilet paper roll in the bathroom this morning has nothing to do with the fact that I have claws.

I totally don't unnerstand why sushi's SO expensive. It's not like they have to use energy to COOK it or anything. Sounds fishy to me.

So explain to me again, Daddy, exactly WHY is you was LAFFING when I told you I accepts American Express & Discover gift cards for my birfday????

Friday, April 13, 2012

PetSmart Charities' TNR Infographic

Mommy loves infographics - they can convey a lot of information in a compelling way.
She especially loves this one, courtesy of PetSmart Charities. We hope you do too.
(comment moderation turned on for this post, due to spamming of previous posts on this topic)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Kitty, Interrupted

"a girl can never be too clean..."

Oh Bother.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Monday Medical Issues: Sunburn

Mondays this April are dedicated to a miniseries on medical issues. We missed Pet Poison Prevention Week (March 18 -24), so today's post is our belated submission.

As many of us know, pets can get sunburns too. Light colored and hairless breeds may be more susceptible, but any pink nose or eartip is susceptible to the sun's rays. I was surprised to learn that commercial sunscreens are toxic to cats!

 The active ingredient in sunscreen - the thing that chemically blocks harmful UV rays - is Octyl Salicylate (or variants of it such as Homosalate and Ethylhexyl Salicylate). When ingested, it breaks down into salycilic acid, also known as aspirin.

 Aspirin is very toxic to a cat. Even one extra-strength aspirin can have fatal consequences!

That's because cats can't metabolize them. And the reason why they can't is because the are obligate carnivores, or "hypercarnivores," meaning that at least 70% of their diet comes from meat. So what's a sun-loving kitty to do if he wants to catch some outdoor time on the deck?

 There are some products on the market that are marketed as "physical" sunblocks (as opposed to the chemical ones we mentioned above). These contain Titanium Dioxide which physically coat a surface and block out most of the sun's rays. There is probably not much risk in using a product with Titanium Dioxide as the main ingredient because not that much is going to be absorbed through the skin, and it's inert if ingested.

But... be sure to read the label carefully because sunscreens with Titanium Dioxide are often paired with substances that are toxic to cats, such as PABA and Propylene Glycol and Zinc Oxide. PABA is only mildly toxic and will most likely only cause stomach irritation.

But Propylene Glycol is the additive in the "safer" anti-freeze and can cause liver or kidney dysfunction if ingested. There are a surprising number of sunscreens marketed for pets that contain these ingredients, so please be cautious when buying! Often it's safer to look toward baby products than pet products in cases like this.

Or you could always make up your own. Here's a recipe posted by Teri T, the blogger at Curlz & Swirlz:

Recipe for cat safe sunscreen lotion:
6 tbsp. almond oil or (3 tbsp. avocado oil and 3 tbsp. almond oil)
3 tbsp shea butter or (1 tbsp. shea butter and 2 tbsp. cocoa butter)
1 tsp. beeswax
1 tsp. soya-lecithin
2 tbsp. aloevera gel
2 tbsp. rose water
3-5 drops coconut oil (optional, for fragrance)

Melt the oils, butters and beeswax in a double boiler over low heat only until melted. Add the soya-lecithin, then stir till mixed. Remove from heat. Warm the aloe-vera gel and rose water.

While still warm, put water mix over ice, then drizzle in the oil mixture while stirring rapidly with a small whisk. It should creme quickly. Add coconut fragrance oil if desired.

Mix well. Store in a clean, airtight jar.

Here's to many safe and sunny summer snoozes!

(P.S. Did you know some skim milks contain Titanium Dioxide? They do it to make the milk look more 'milky white". I think I'm sticking with 2 percent. Ick! source: Journal of Dairy Science Vol. 80, No. 11, 199 )