(THE COMFY SOFA, My House, Annapolis, Maryland) August 7, 2013—Around this time of the year many of you humans are getting ready for your annual vacation. I understand this is something you bipeds look forward to, but frequently, when you leave, you are unable—or choose not to—take your cat with you.

Why anyone would choose to leave their cats behind confounds me, because I can’t imagine anything wonderful happening when a cat is not around, nor can I imagine looking forward to something that does not involve cats. But I also don’t understand why you would eat anything other than tuna if you were able to do so—to each his own, I suppose.

In the hopes that I can help you find ways to include your cats in your travel plans, I have amassed the following list of tips to help you bring your cats with you when you travel this year.

1.  Get your cat to the veterinarian—Ensure your cats are up to date on all of their vaccinations and also that they are on the appropriate preventative medications and best diets for their age, lifestyle and health status.

2.  Get your cats used to their carriers—However you are traveling, you will want to be sure your cats like their carriers.  I know some people think that this is impossible, but I love mine. It’s easy to show your cats how wonderful their carriers can be--watch this video to see how. We cats can get spooked when traveling; there are lots of new noises, smells and sights for us to take in and it can be a bit much. Your cats will be much happier if they are somewhere they feel safe and are surrounded by soft blankets or pillows that smell like home.

3.  Proper identification is important—Prior to travel, you will want to double check to be sure that the information listed on your cat’s collar tags and registered with your microchip company is up to date. If you don’t have either of those identification forms for your cat, it’s in your and your cat’s best interest to have both. Microchips have helped reunite millions of lost pets with their people and a collar with tags visually tells others that your cat has a home and belongs somewhere if it gets out when you are traveling.

4.  Find pet-friendly accommodations—More and more hotels, rentals and resorts are becoming pet friendly. Call ahead to make sure your vacation destination is somewhere that allows your feline friends to come along.

5.  Pack for your cat, too—Make your home away from home as comfortable as possible. Bring your cats’ favorite blankets and toys to ensure they feel at ease at your vacation spot. Be sure to pack enough of your cat’s food to last through the time you will be away, as sometimes it can be hard to find the same food your cats are used to and vacation is no time for upset tummies.

6.  Find the nearest emergency veterinary hospital—Make sure you know where the closest clinic and emergency hospital are located prior to leaving so you’re prepared in the event of an emergency. It’s also a good idea to pack your cat’s veterinary records so that you can be sure to give the best information to the veterinarian seeing your cat.

7.  Give your cat some time to acclimate to its new surroundings—After traveling, your cat may be a little leery of its vacation house, so just give it some time and space to get used to things. While I hate to admit it, I have been known to hide out under a bed for a couple hours after being introduced to a new location. It’s normal, and if you take time to get your cat to love its carrier, it will have a ready-made, safe and familiar place to hide out while getting used to things.

Vacation should be for the whole family, so if possible, be sure to bring your cat along.  If not, there are many options for you to ensure your cat is having a great time while you’re away. Many veterinary offices also offer boarding, so check with your veterinarian to see if they offer this service. You can also look into dedicated boarding facilities.

If I can’t go along on vacation, my next favorite option is to have a pet sitter come and take care of me in my home. Your veterinarian may be able to recommend a service, or friends or family may be able to recommend someone local. Pet Sitters International, an organization that offers a list of certified pet sitters, is another resource.

Ideally your pet sitter will also spend some time in the house, playing with your cats and giving them a good scratch behind the ears. I particularly like talking with my sitter about what I saw out the window that day as she brushes my fur. Because your pet sitter will be in your house—and caring for your most loved companion--I would recommend asking for references prior to hiring someone for the first time. Your cats will let you know what they thought of the sitter when you come home.

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s  favorite pet.  It was founded in response to  troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats.  More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.

 

 

(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) July 29, 2013—Summer is in full swing nationwide, and we’re seeing a lot of days with soaring temperatures.  In order to help your cat beat the heat, CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, has the following suggestions for keeping your cat cool when temperatures rise:

1.  Ensure your cat has access to fresh, cool water. “All animals need plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially when it is hot,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of CATalyst Council  “Dehydration can occur very quickly and can be dangerous,  leading to other complications.. You may want to put out additional water bowls for your cat so that it’s easy for them to access in various parts of the house.”

2.  Proper grooming is important. Brushing your cat can help reduce matting, which traps heat near the body and keeps the cat warmer than it would be otherwise. Grooming is also calming for many cats.  If you have long haired cats, you may want to consider getting them a new “summer do,” and having their coats clipped shorter to help keep them cool.

3.  Think twice before leaving your cat in your car. A study from Stanford University found that 80 percent of temperature rise in cars occurs within the first 30 minutes of leaving the car, and that even in cooler temperatures  cars can quickly become very hot. For instance, at a 72 degree outdoor temperature, the interior of the car could become as hot as 117 degrees. The study also found that cracking the windows did very little to slow the temperature increase within the car. So, if you need to bring your cat with you while you are out and about, think twice before you leave it unattended in your car for even a brief period of time.

4.  Keep your cat indoors. Not only will your cat enjoy an extended nap on the sofa, it will also enjoy having a cooler environment while still enjoying the sunbeams. Keeping cats indoors also keeps them safe from predators, cars, parasites --which tend to be worse during warmer months-- and other dangers.

“If you suspect that your cat is suffering from a heat-related illness, go see your veterinarian immediately,” adds Dr. Brunt.  Signs your cat may be overheated include panting, confusion, glazed eyes, agitation, vomiting or drooling, or staggering. Any of these signs should be treated as an emergency situation, and you should see your veterinarian immediately.

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s  favorite pet.  It was founded in response to  troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats.  More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.

 

(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) May 31, 2013—June is Adopt a Cat Month, and the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, is encouraging Americans to visit their local shelters during June and adopt a cat – or even better, two.

 

“Having a dedicated month encouraging the adoption of cats is a really great way to help remind people that their local shelters and rescues have lots of friendly, loving cats from which to choose,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of the Catalyst Council. “From cute and active kittens to mellow and mature seniors, there are all different kinds of cats at your local shelter. The great thing about going to a shelter or a rescue group is that the staff has likely become acquainted with the cats staying there and can guide you to one whose personality will fit in with your family.”

 

Ensuring that the cat’s personality meshes well with your own is an important step in adopting a cat.  Other things potential adopters should consider prior to adopting a cat include:

1. Knowing which veterinarian you will take your cat to after it’s adopted. Potential owners should schedule a visit with their chosen veterinarian within a few days of adoption so that the veterinary team can get to know the cat as early as possible. During this visit, your veterinarian will recommend the best food and preventive medications and provide tips to help ensure your cat’s health. In addition, this early trip can also help acclimate your cat to the process of visiting the veterinarian.

2. Familiarize yourself with the costs associated with owning a cat. Before bringing a cat home, ensure that your budget has enough room to handle the expenses that come with caring for a pet. This goes beyond food and litter and includes toys and other environmental enrichment tools, as well as annual veterinary exams and potential emergency visits. Many people choose pet health insurance to help in case an unexpected illness or other problem arises.

3. Knowing everyone in your family is ready for a cat. Talk to your family to ensure they are all excited about bringing home a furry family member, and that they’re ready to help care for it.

 

“Cats make wonderful companions, and we want to see the adoption rate go up in June,” says Dr. Brunt. “There are so many wonderful cats that need lifetime homes and deserve to get adopted and be a part of a family.”

 

 

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s  favorite pet.  It was founded in response to  troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats.  More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.

(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) April 1, 2013—To mark the start of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, is urging animal lovers to take action and help raise awareness in their communities. The month, championed by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, aims to raise awareness of the plight of animals that are being treated cruelly across the country.

“During this month, we are imploring people to take steps, even if they are small ones, to help prevent cruelty and neglect in their own local communities,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of the CATalyst Council. “Whether you have time to volunteer at your local shelter, donate items they might need or simply post information on your social media page, do something to help raise awareness. And cats represent an overwhelming need in most communities.”

 

The ASPCA offers tips on what you can do to help fight cruelty to animals, like getting to know the animals in your neighborhood, helping to advocate for stronger anti-cruelty laws in your state and teaching your children how to treat animals with respect and kindness. If you have an incident or situation that appears to be cruelty to animals or animal neglect, often the best place to start is by contacting your local law enforcement agency. They will be able to direct you to the agency or organization in your community that investigates these cases.

 

In addition, knowing the signs of abuse is important to ensuring you know when to alert local enforcement agents to a situation where an animal is being abused. These signs can range from an animal having an untreated or ongoing medical problem that the owner does not seem to be addressing to actually seeing an animal being mistreated by its owner.

 

“We need members of communities to be alert to the plight of animals in their area so that we can help those who need help,” says Dr. Brunt. “Ensuring that all pets get the love, respect and proper medical attention they deserve is just one way to make our neighborhoods better places for all creatures.”

 

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.

CATalyst Council Offers 10 Tips on Making Your Cat Happy

 

(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) September 10, 2012—September is Happy Cat Month, dedicated to finding ways to keep our feline friends happy, healthy and purring all year long.

 

In honor of Happy Cat Month, the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, has released a list of the top 10 ways cat owners can keep their pets happy:

 

1. Provide toys. One of the easiest ways to make a cat happy is with a new toy. Every cat has a preference as to what type of toy it likes best, and experimenting with different kinds will be fun for both you and your cat.

2. Train together. Cats are smart and can be trained to do fun tricks--the mental and physical stimulation is great for felines. Teaching your cat to sit, for example, is easy, and training your cat to sit on stools instead of counters will make you and your cat much happier. An added bonus is that training will strengthen the bond between you and your feline buddy.

3. Work for food. Feline obesity is a huge problem in this country (not to make a pun), and one way to combat it is to make cats work for their food. Food toys are available to channel a cat’s natural hunting instincts. The toy releases kibble in small amounts. Another option is to hide a cat’s food in different places so that they have to find it. Working for food makes a cat happy because it’s great physical and mental exercise.

4. Get your cat acclimated to the carrier. Many cat owners find that the worst part about taking their cat anywhere is getting it into the carrier. The time to work with your cat on making their carrier seem like a safe, secure and inviting place to be is prior to veterinary visits or family vacations – not when you’re ready to get into the car. Visit www.catalystcouncil.org to view Cats and Carriers: Friends not Foes for tips on how to get cats to love their carriers.

5. Visit the veterinarian. Healthy cats are happy cats. While some owners may dread a trip to the veterinarian with their cat, many veterinary practices are cat friendly or have doctors who specialize in cats and will gladly show leery owners how pleasant a trip to the veterinarian can be. The American Association of Feline Practitioners has a list of veterinary practices that have earned a “cat friendly” designation. There is likely one near you.

6. Microchip your cat. In addition to a collar and identification tag, owners should ask their veterinarian about microchipping their feline friend. If a cat ever escapes or gets lost, having this type of permanent ID will make a reunion between you and your pet much more likely.

7. Go outside (appropriately). Yes! There are ways owners can safely take their cats outside to allow them to broaden their horizons. Cats can be walked on a leash with a harness or confined in a special outdoor area—always under supervision, of course—so they can periodically and safely experience the world outside their window.

8. Scratch the surface. Cats should have places they are allowed to stretch and care for their claws. Scratching is an important aspect of feline behavior. Providing a long and sturdy scratching post in a vertical, horizontal or angled position is a good way to keep your cat happy … and your sofa, too!

9. Provide preventive medications. No one likes fleas, ticks, mites or heartworms, especially your cat. Even if your cat is kept strictly indoors, they can still be attacked by these little creepy creatures. Talk with your veterinarian about the best preventive plan for your cat. A parasite-free cat is a happy cat—and preventive care will keep your family healthier, too.

10. Think about getting another cat. Cats are social animals, so you might want to consider visiting the shelter and adopting a best buddy for your current kitty. Cats love to play, and a playmate will make them happy—provided they are properly introduced and have the right places to eat, hide, play and go the bathroom. Visit your community animal shelter and see what feline friends they have to offer.

 

“Studies have shown that having a cat live with you can have many benefits for your health, both physical and mental, so why not give a little back to your favorite furry friend during Happy Cat Month,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, executive director of CATalyst Council. “Most cats just want a home with a comfy couch they can stretch out on and a loving owner to scratch them behind their ears. During Happy Cat Month, CATalyst Council encourages people without a cat to consider adopting one from their local shelter. If you already have one, how about adding a play mate? Too many wonderful cats are sitting in shelters all over the country waiting for someone to give them a forever home. And last but not least, use some of these 10 tips to spoil your cat a little more than usual during this special month.”

 

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.

Plan for Your Whole Family

 

(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) July 13, 2012—Sunday is National Pet Fire Safety Day and to mark it, CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, urges cat owners to have a plan in place to protect their cat in case of a house fire.

The American Red Cross reports that house fires are the most common disaster, and the American Fire Administration estimates that 500,000 pets are affected by a house fire each year.

The first step in protecting your cat from a house fire is to ensure that it doesn’t cause one—especially while you are out of the house. One common source of house fires is overturned candles. If you use candles, switch to flameless candles so that, if your cat inadvertently knocks one over, it doesn’t start a fire.

Another common source of house fires is stove burners. Ensure that the area around your stove is clear of materials that could be knocked over onto a hot burner, and never leave a hot burner-even one that is cooling after you’ve finished cooking-unattended.

The next step in protecting your cat is to ensure that it is always has some form of identification. In a fire, your cat will be frightened and, if possible, it will find a way to get out. To help en sure that you can be reunited with your cat in an emergency, your cat should always wear a cat collar with tags, and you should consider permanent identification such as a microchip or tattoo. With proper, up to date identification, your cat is more likely to be reunited with you.

Having a decal on or near your front door with the number and type of pets in the household noted along with an "In Case of Emergency" contact may save your pet's life.

Finally, make sure your cat is a part of your evacuation plan. Keeping its carrier out and open all the time will help in case of an emergency for two reasons. The first is that your cat will be more accustomed to its carrier if it is out and open. Just as importantly, you will know exactly where the carrier is if you need to find it quickly. Before any emergency, have a list of pet friendly hotels in the area or speak with family and friends about the possibility of providing temporary shelter to your cat(s). Taking the time to put in place a comprehensive evacuation plan prior to an emergency will help to ensure you and your cat remain safe and together.

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.

 

(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) June 18, 2012—During Adopt a Cat Month, the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, encourages potential adopters to consider adopting an older cat.

 

While kittens may be fun and have seemingly boundless energy, you may find that having a more mellow older cat is a better fit for your family and your lifestyle. Older cats also tend to stay in shelters longer than younger ones, which means that shelter staff have gotten to know them better and can recommend one that would be perfect for you.

 

“Adult cats are just big kittens with developed personalities,” says Jan McHugh Smith, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region. “They come in all shapes, sizes and colors; you can adopt a cool cat, a lap cat, a fat cat. Just adopt.”

 

“Many people overlook older cats in shelters because they worry about the amount of time the cat has left, but many cats live to be well into their late teens, so adopting a 6-year-old cat could mean that you still have over a decade to enjoy each other’s company,” says Dr. Jane Brunt, CATalyst Council’s executive director. “The most important thing to remember when adopting any cat is that proper veterinary care is necessary to help your new friend enjoy a long, happy, healthy life.”

 

A cat as young as 3 years old has a harder time finding a new home than a kitten does, and generally around 60 percent of cats taken in at shelters are adults.

 

“Adult cats can become a member of your family just as easily as a kitten, generally know how to use a litter box and are typically mellower than their younger counterparts,” says Bob Rohde, president and CEO of the Dumb Friends League in Denver. “Older cats have just as much love to give and seem to be more grateful for getting that second chance at happiness.”

 

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.

 

Friday Is National Hairball Awareness Day

 

(ANNAPOLIS, MD) April 25, 2012—Friday is National Hairball Awareness Day and the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, is using this observation to inform cat owners about some misconceptions they may have about hairballs.

 

“I tell cat owners that more than one or two hairballs a year is not normal,” said Dr. Jane Brunt, CATalyst Council’s executive director and a feline veterinarian. “Frequently, when a cat vomits there is hair mixed in, so owners often assume that it was just a hairball—something they think is a normal occurrence. In fact, there may be something else going on with the cat medically.”

 

Hairballs are formed when a cat ingests fur through grooming itself or other cats and the fur builds up in the stomach. Most of the time fur passes through the intestinal tract without any problem, but if there is a problem with the gastrointestinal tract, such as inflammation or how the intestines move their contents through the cat's system, the fur can build up and the cat will need to regurgitate it.

 

“What's important for owners to know is that hairballs are not normal,” said Dr. Brunt. “The cat has developed a digestive tract that, when it is healthy and working correctly, can handle normal amounts of fur without problem. Even long haired cats should not develop more than one or two hairballs a year.”

 

Owners can help their cats avoid hairballs through frequent and regular brushing. This helps remove excess fur from cats before they ingest it while grooming. Brushing is also a great way to bond with your cat and can be used as a reward. “Brushing as a reward has two positive outcomes, said Dr. Brunt. “First, your cat will have a lovely coat when properly brushed, and second, you may prevent your cat from becoming overweight if you are using brushing as a reward rather than treats.”

 

An owner should take their cat to the veterinarian if their cat vomits on a regular basis, has frequent hairballs or is repeatedly coughing (often interpreted as a "hairball"). Also, an owner should take their cat to the veterinarian if it is producing more than a few hairballs a year because this may be an indication of an intestinal disorder or a skin disorder or allergy. Finally, even with no obvious signs of problems, regular veterinary visits for your cats at least once a year are the best way to keep them healthy and hairball-free.

 

For more information on hairballs, listen to Dr. Brunt’s AVMA Animal Tracks podcast on the subject here (http://www.avmamedia.org/display.asp?sid=443&NAME=Hairballs:_The_Podcast). The AVMA also has a kids’ video on hairballs here (http://youtu.be/iKyrdJ94P6c).

###

The CATalyst Council is a national organization which includes a wide variety of animal health and welfare organizations as well as corporate members of the animal health industry that are working together to improve the health and welfare of America’s favorite pet. It was founded in response to troubling statistics released by the American Veterinary Medical Association that indicate an increase in our nation’s pet cat population coupled with a decline in veterinary care for those cats. More information about the CATalyst Council is available at www.catalystcouncil.org.