29 May 2013

Peaches Gets Out!

We have been letting Peaches out of the bathroom more and more lately.  Well, that's not exactly true -- no one 'lets' her out -- she escapes!  She's fast, she's tiny, she's out of the bathroom before you have a chance to put a foot in the door.

But let's just play along with our delusion -- we've been letting her out.

And she's a hoot!  She runs (not walks) and explores everything -- fast.  The girl has only one real speed and that is much too fast for a Persian.  Throw in her jumping ability, and I'm not sure she is a Persian!  The counter is too easy to jump up to.  She jumps to the top of the cat tree (about 5 ft. high) in 2 bounds and then sits up there for like 5 seconds and off she goes!

Anyway, tonight's laugh was when she ran UNDER Langston and then jumped over in one leap both Spencer and Clancy, all to rush into the bathroom to get her supper.  In the photo at the right, you can see her head is barely to Clancy's shoulder.

And that's another thing -- the girl can eat!  She was a bit underweight when I got her, because she had been cycling, so her eating heartily is a good thing.  And talk about a fiend for dried chicken....

We are doing pretty good with the bonding, though. Once I catch her, she will sit quietly in my lap and purr as I pet her.  Grooming her is so simple -- she doesn't fight at all.  I still need to figure out some routine to keep her eyes and face clean, but the last week of school is hardly the time to start something new.  So for now, she looks like she's grumpy!

27 May 2013

The War Between Rescuers and Breeders

I was looking at various groups on Facebook the other day and became totally disenchanted with both rescue groups and breeders.  Both factions were calling for the other side to be "put to sleep" or "hung".  Both claimed they had the best interest of the animals in their decisions.

Here's examples from both sides:

Let's kill the breeders!
A lady buys a kitten from a breeder.  The kitten arrives and seems fine at first.  Then the kitten gets sick.  After a week or so, the owner takes the kitten to the vet whose diagnosis is girardia, coccidia, and ringworm.  After 2 months, the kitten is still sick so the owners give the kitten to a rescue.  The rescue publicizes the story, including the breeder's name, and the rescue supporters call for the breeder (and all breeders) to be put to sleep.

The breeder is then contacted and told about the group trashing her name and reputation.  The breeder, an older lady, decides to quit breeding.  The rescue supporters celebrate.

Interestingly, the rescue and its supporters fail to notice that the breeder had not been contacted previous to this about this sick kitten, to understand girardia, coccidia, and ringworm could have come from other cats that the owner has or from being allowed out in the garden, and to ask why the owner did not contact the breeder immediately or take the kitten to a vet upon arrival.

Let's kill the rescue groups!
A rescue takes in a sick cat -- no definite symptoms, just diarrhea and a high temperature.  The cat gets sicker and after 2 days is seen by a vet, who makes no clear diagnosis but wants to run more tests.  The tests are done and more tests are done.  The rescue finally is informed that the cat probably has FIP (feline infectious peritonitis) and the cat is put to sleep.  Some breeders then criticize the rescue for torturing the animal for a week by trying to treat it, for spending money on a lost cause, and for being idiots for not recognizing the disease at first.

What the breeders fail to understand is that when rescues get an animal in with no history, it takes time to figure out what is going on, that if a rescue doesn't try, then they will be criticized for not trying, and that FIP doesn't always come with a bloated belly of fluid.

Both sides in these little wars are myopic and irrational.  You can not try to add any rational comments or questions because you will then be the target.

And sorry, it's stupid!!!

I've done rescue.  I've got a number of breeder friends.  Perhaps because of this I can see the bigger picture.  Namely, both sides need each other.  The people supporting the rescues want specific breeds of cats for their own pets, and so they need breeders to continue to breed.  Breeders need rescue groups to take in and rehome purebreds (perhaps their own cats) which irresponsible owners dump.  What both sides should agree on is that backyard breeders and shady rescue groups are the problem, but this is too fine of distinction for most people involved in these 'discussions'.

My biggest fear is that all the good, ethical breeders will be run out of business, leaving only the backyard breeders who often abuse their animals.  This will then allow the rescue groups and animal rights groups to get passed draconian laws about keeping pets, such as the registration and inspection of all homes with pets.

Yah, so breeders and rescuers, please just keep fighting so we all lose.

26 May 2013

Cats: Feline Acne

In one cat group I belong to, there has been some recent discussion about feline acne and how to treat it.  The problem I see is most of cat owners and some vets don't distinguish between a cat with a dirty chin (henceforth called 'chin crud') and true feline acne.  The treatments are similar but not identical.

So, what are the differences?

Chin crud is often the build up bacteria and food particles on the hair of the chin.  A cat eats, gets a bit of food on the chin, and because the chin is hard to clean, the dirt allows bacteria to grow.  Over time, the bacteria creates blackish residue on the hair.  But, and this is key, the black crud is on the hair, above the skin, and not in the skin.

Since it's on the hair, this black crud can be washed off, usually with just water in a minute or two.  If there is

more fat in the food, a bit of isopropyl alcohol and/or soap will help quickly remove it.  Because it is bits of food and moisture mixed in with saliva to create black crud, it may stain white hair.

Wendy has this because her tongue hangs out, soaking her chin in saliva.  I use a flea comb to comb off the bigger pieces and then a cosmetic pad with saline for contacts to wash it.  Then I use EyeEnvy liquid and powder on the area.  If I do this ever 2-3 days, her chin will be spotless.  (Unfortunately, I often skip it during the week because I have such limited time.)

Feline acne is like human acne -- it is an infection in the skin.  The skin usually develops blackheads first.  The black areas are in the upper layer of the skin, as in the photo at the right.  Over time, some of these blackheads lead to pimples (or zits of pustules of infection -- which ever is your favorite term) which erupt from the skin. The chin feels lumpy when rubbed. Interestingly, the 3 cats I have had with feline acne had perfectly clean chin hair, as can be seen in the photo at the right and the one below.

Clearing up feline acne may take weeks to months.  Vets will often 'express' the pimples, which one can do at home and is rather disgusting.  But if the pimples are not intentionally popped, they will pop when you scratch the chin or when the cat rubs against objects.  The open 'wounds' do bleed freely and will create a mess. (On a side note, the expression seems in most cases not to cause the cat much discomfort.)  Once the infections are removed, the vet normally prescribes an antibacterial soap or medicine.

When James, Clancy, and Tolstoy developed this, I would express the pimples and then wash the chin with a dilute mixture of goldenseal extract.  The goldenseal has a natural antibiotic property, but it also stains the hair yellow.  (I could live with yellow chinned cats.)  Once I figured out the source of the problem, it took about 3 weeks for it to clear up.

So why is there a confusion?  Basically it comes down to careful observation and lack of distinction.  Most owners and some vets see the black crud and immediately call it feline acne.  They don't stop and determine it the problem is above or in the skin.  Then they treat it with antibacterial soap and it clears up -- not because it was acne, but because the soap killed the bacteria on the hair.

To some, this is splitting hairs.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)  The problem is once the owner stops the using the antibacterial soap and the crud comes back, often the vet then uses antibiotics.  I'm not a fan of antibiotics in general, and in this case, they usually won't work, so then the vet tries either stronger antibiotics or suggests steroids.  It comes down to treating a cat with some serious drugs for a problem the cat really doesn't have!

So where does chin crud and feline acne come from?  The most commonly sited explanation is plastic bowls.  And this is true, but not true.  The chemical nature of plastic itself has nothing to do with acne or chin crud.  The problem with plastic is it scratches.  Those tiny grooves allow bacteria to build up.  So for many owners, switching from plastic to ceramic helps.

In my case, my cats already have ceramic plates and stainless steal bowls.  With Wendy, the crud is a byproduct of her malformed jaw.  While I can help keep it clean (and cleaning her teeth will also help by decreasing the bacteria in her saliva), I will not be able to prevent it.

With James, Tolstoy, and Clancy, it was the food.  They got it in period where I was teaching full-time and going to college full-time, so I had little time to make food.  I would often mix canned food with my raw food to extend it.  Once I removed the canned food, the problem began to resolve itself.