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Food & Nutrition
A real problem
Over half of cats in the U.S are obese. Obesity causes serious health issues in cats. High calorie and carb diets combined with lack of exercise pork up your feline. The media is saturated with images of obese cats and owners don't have a healthy view of what their cat should look like. Clue: Fat Cats are not cute! Read this blog to see the body score chart for a healthy weight cat.
A silent killer of cats, dental disease starts at just five months of age. Since over 50% of cats never see a vet, and dental care is so very costly, this is a common issue with cats. Harmful bacteria from periodontal disease enters the bloodstream and can lead to medical conditions in the heart, liver and kidneys, many of which can be fatal. Basepaws offers a Dental Health Report along with DNA testing – I highly recommend you get this. Click the image to the right for more information.
This is a non-prescription supplement used for calming anxious, shy, nervous behaviors. I would not recommend using it for aggression issues. If your cat is shy, or you're trying to get through a stressful incident such as July 4th, thunderstorms, moving, traveling to the vet, having a party, meeting new people, or new to your home, Zylkene might be just what you need. It is recommended for short term use but there is no problem with long term usage.
This is a non-prescription nutritional supplement that encourages behavior health in dogs and cats. It provides a feeling of calm and contentment during stressful events. It can also help to support modification of negative or destructive behavior caused by anxiety or phobias. It contains brewers yeast so cats typically find it tasty. One tablet per day.
When my Tabasco was struggling with cancer, I used many Chinese herb supplements and found that he rebounded for a bit when I used them. Traditional Chinese Medicine states that nervousness and anxiety are caused by an imbalance in the heart, spleen and liver meridians. The Calm blend is formulated to provide soothing support for pets that are easily frightened or experiencing chronic anxiety. It is also helpful with situational stresses like travel, storms, fireworks, fights, trips to the vet, strangers or being alone.
Only Natural Pet Chinese Herbal Blends are made with the highest quality sulfur-free and GMP-certified Chinese herbs.
Click here to shop:
My 2 go-to Supplements:
L-Lysine is an amino acid that helps treat upper respiratory infections, conjunctivitis and more. The challenge with viruses is they lay dormant for periods of time and then start reproducing, causing flare-ups. If your cat is in a stressful situation, such as a trip to the vet, these flare-ups can occur. I like the Tomlyn brand because it taste great (to cats - I haven't personally tried it yet.)
Probiotics are important for your cat to maintain a healthy digestive tract. I use the Pro Plan FortiFlora because my cat LOVES the flavor of it.
I also use FortiFlora when fostering kittens, because their intestinal tract is so susceptible to bacteria.
Use FortiFlora when your cat is in stressful situations, like changes in your environment (moving, new baby, out of town guests, etc.)
If you are preparing a homemade meal or raw for your cat, it is vital that you add taurine to the food. This is a good one that is specifically mixed for cats.
This is a phosphate binder. I use it on Tabasco's food. The white powder has no flavor that I can tell; Tabasco eats his food just fine with this on it. If you have a cat with elevated kidney levels, I highly recommend getting them on this to support the kidneys.
Sometimes your foster kittens or cats need help with healthy stool. Pumpkin acts as a digestive supplement helping with regularity and gas relief. It helps with diarrhea, constipation, anal gland discomfort, and provides stomach relief and reduces indigestion.Tabasco won't eat his food if I put canned pumpkin in it, but he likes the taste of this Organic Pumpkin Powder.
Laxatone also helps as a digestion aid and hair ball remedy.
Natural Flea Remedy + B Vitamins
These Brewer's Yeast tablets are great tasting to cats (no garlic) and will help with the reduction of fleas. If you have an outdoor cat, this by itself is probably not going to stop fleas completely, but if you have a primarily indoor cat with a concrete floor catio, then these will help.
Great for treat toss game!
This is a homeopathic stress reliever. It is flower essences and is put on food. I use 4 drops per meal on Tabasco's food - not for emotional stress, but as a support for multiple physical ailments he's going through. Very much like the Feliway Pheromone plug ins, this by itself is not a magic wand to make all your cat troubles go away. But when used in conjunction with other stress relieving strategies, it helps!
If you have to give your cat medication, these Pill Pockets are a great thing to try. It doesn't fool all cats but I have clients who swear by them.
Pilling a cat can cause your cat to avoid you and the unpleasant experience. No matter what you hide the pill in, some cats will eat around it and leave the pill on the floor for you to find later. Pill Pockets is a good masking alternative and worth a try if you're struggling with pilling your cat.
Tomlyn also makes a good pill masker. The great flavor of this gooey paste will often do the trick to fool your cat.
Unlike the pill pocket above, which has a hollow center for placing the pill, the pill masker is a peanut butter textured substance that you mush around the pill.
Pet Houzz Soft Tip Pill Gun is a good tool for "shooting" the pill back into the throat of your cat. If your cat absolutely refuses to take the pill with one of the maskers above, then this might work for you. I hold tilt the cat's head back with my left hand and pry the mouth open with the pinky of my right hand, then pop the pill to the back of the throat. It is a good idea to then gently hold the cat's mouth closed and stroke the neck, or blow a little into their face, this will cause them to swallow. Some cats will sit still, looking as if the pill has gone down and as soon as you leave the room, they'll spit it out onto the floor. Kind of like I did with peas as a kid.
Cats need regular dental care but taking your cat to the vet is stressful for everyone and often cat owners simply don't go. Cats should have a tooth cleaning annually - and it's expensive! The next best thing you can do is to use this enzymatic toothpaste. It is poultry flavored. You don't have to worry about brushing, just get it on your finger and rub your finger over your cat's teeth.
Hydration just might be the single most important thing you can do for your cat - especially if you are feeding any amount of dry food. Now there is a ph-balanced, mineral free water for cats. Since cats naturally have a very low thirst drive, and consume very little water if fed a properly hydrated diet, I recommend adding it to your cat's wet food. I add it to Pico's Primal raw food. Catwater is "clinically proven to reduce minerals in the urinary tract up to 50%". Great to add to kittens' food as well!
Raw Feeding If you've listened to any of my podcasts, attended any of my seminars or consulted with me, you've heard me preach about the species appropriate benefits of feeding cats raw food. I have been buying my raw meat from a trusted source for about 15 years = Hare Today. Click their logo to the right to visit their online store.
When available, I also buy the freeze dried version of this mix. You can buy it here.
It's important you mix water and additional nutrients into the raw food and Hare Today makes that easy for you with Alnutrin supplement for Cats - buy it here.
Freeze Dried Raw Feeding If you have a compromised immune system and/or don't like the idea of handling fresh raw food, Vital Essentials makes a great, limited ingredient rabbit option for your cat. I use the Mini Patties - note, I feed a larger portion than is instructed on the package - and hydrate them with bone broth and warm water. When I'm traveling, or working away from home, and can't leave out a hydrated meal, I use the Vital Essentials Mini Nibs.
"I just wanted to send you an update on how Luka's been doing since switching his food that's in the timer (2 out of 5 meals) to the Vital Essentials rabbit mini nibs. It's only been a month since the switch, and I can't believe how big of a difference it has made. I thought his fur was soft before, but now he's even softer and SO fluffy! Amazing! I've even had friends and family notice a difference."
Rachel B., Cat Behavior Solutions Consult client and Cat Talk Radio listener
Timed Feeder is often the answer to fixing those annoying 3 a.m. cat wake up calls. Cats in the wild eat 9-10 small meals a day; when you feed your cat 2 times a day it is the equivalent of us eating every 2nd or 3rd day. It is important to feed your cat a minimum of 3 times a day. Often the span from the last feeding to the morning feeding is too much for a cat's stomach and they will attempt to wake you to get you to feed them. This timed feeder is an affordable answer to getting your cat food in the middle of the night. It comes with a cold pack to keep canned food fresh.
Click the graphic to the right for more info and to buy.
Microchip Feeders are used when one cat eats the other's food - or dogs steal the cats' food. The feeder uses your cat's microchip ID as identification to open. If your cat is not microchipped, I highly recommend you get that done asap - typically your local shelter will offer low cost microchip services. You can also buy a RFID collar tag that will work with this feeder.
Slow Feeding Mat
Is your cat scarfing up his food too quickly? Eating too fast can cause vomiting and stomach issues. A slow feeding mat will do what its name implies - slow down the feeding. This one is great because it's ceramic and cute because the humps in the feeder are fish shaped.
Food Puzzle Cats in the wild spend 6 hours a day hunting and when we feed them meals they don't have to work for, pent-up energy builds, which can result in behavior changes. Food puzzles are one of the best mental stimulators you can provide for your cat. We sell a couple in the Behavior Boutique and there are more complex ones like this Catit Digger and Food Tree.
I use these to deliver high value treats to cats in shelters. They work great for you at home if you have a particularly shy cat who is hiding from you. Simply deliver some shaved chicken with these. Hold about 2" from the cat's nose and wait for her to move toward you. If she doesn't, drop the shaved chicken and allow her to eat it when you leave. If done multiple times a day, she will connect you to something yummy and wonderful, which will begin to build trust.
Treats for Training!
I use these in my shelter work, and when training my own cats. They are universally palatable to cats, ow in calories and easy to dispense. Kitty will come running for Lick 'n' Lap! I say I'm going to change the name to Lick 'n' Lap Smack!
Pet Insurance vs Veterinary Discount Plan
To insure or not to insure...that is the question. Pet insurance programs work a lot like human insurance. There are deductibles to meet and after you have met your deductible, if the medical service is a "covered instance" they will pay 70%-90%. The fine print on these policies often limits or excludes hundreds of services. In their public disclosure to state insurance regulators, insurance companies report that for every dollar they receive in premiums they actually only pay out to their policyholders about 50¢.
A veterinary discount plan is a pet insurance alternative with no deductibles and no exclusions. With a vet discount plan you enroll your pet (easy to do), get an insurance ID card that you take with you to your local network veterinarian and the vet gives you instant discounts on all in-house medical services, which average about 25% savings. Pet insurance rarely covers pregnancy, hereditary or pre-existing conditions, conditions that occur within the initial waiting period after you sign up for the insurance policy and can limit or deny coverage for a variety of other reasons. With discount plans, you will still save on these medical instances.
You CAN use the veterinary discount plan along with pet insurance, often to help fill gaps your insurance won't cover.
I recommend Pet Assure Veterinary Discount Plan which works like this:
For most Pet Assure families, Pet Assure saves much more than it costs. As stated by Consumer Reports, the lifetime cost of a pet insurance policy is typically much higher than what the policy pays out to the pet owner.
Premiums - Insurance premiums are typically $400 - $1200 per year for each pet. The most expensive Pet Assure plan is less than $10 a month for each pet.
Deductibles - Most pet insurance plans have deductibles of $100 - $500. That means that you would need to pay the amount of your deductible before insurance would start to pay for your coverage. With Pet Assure, you get savings from your first visit and on every visit; there is no deductible.
Pre-existing conditions – If an insurance company decides that your pet contracted an illness or condition before you purchased the policy, they deem it "pre-existing" and will not reimburse you for the associated costs. In addition, even if your pet develops a condition after you purchase the policy, the insurance company may refuse to renew the policy after the policy expires at the end of its year. Pet Assure covers pre-existing conditions, without exceptions.
Waiting Period - Most insurance plans have a 7-day to 30-day waiting period during which any illness is not covered, and particular illnesses and conditions can have much longer waiting periods. If your pet contracts an illness during the waiting period, it will not qualify for insurance coverage and, now that the illness is a "pre-existing condition," the illness will not be covered even after the waiting period. When you enroll in Pet Assure, you will get an email with a link to print a card that you can use immediately – no waiting period!
Exclusions - Insurance policies can have as many as 200 exclusions for illnesses common to the breed, hereditary conditions, etc. Many pet owners have discovered, after paying insurance premiums for years, that their first big claim is being denied because it "is inherent or prevalent in the breed."
Wellness Visits – Most pet insurance plans either don't cover wellness visits or cover it only if you buy an extra insurance rider. Wellness visits are included in the standard Pet Assure policy.
Payout Limits - Insurance policies usually have pre-defined payouts for common ailments, plus they have yearly and lifetime payout limits. Pet Assure usage is unlimited, you can use it as many times as you need to, regardless of the treatment costs.
Claim forms – With insurance, you first need to pay your vet in full, then file the claim with insurance, and then wait to be reimbursed. With Pet Assure, the veterinarian provides the discount right at the time of service!