Archive for September, 2006


Kitten time vs Blog time

27 September, 2006

I haven’t had time to write recently. I’ve decided that it’s more important for me to spend time with the kittens than writing the blog because I want them to be happy kittens who’ll settle in quickly with their new owners.

I feel guilty writing when I should be playing with them. Their little soft kitten eyes plead with me to dangle their favourite cat toy. They purr when I pick them up and cuddle them. How can I resist?

So … sorry if I haven’t had much to report of late.

Besides … I wonder if people would be interested in an analysis on the effectiveness of Lotus Thirst Pocket kitchen towels vs Bounty kitchen towels in cleaning litter trays … or the best and fastest way to wash and dry 8 litter trays …

Interesting that in the word “analysis” is “anal” and that’s something I’ve got to guard against … in posting minutiae that only I find fascinating.

The kittens are doing well, by the way. Pictures have been posted to their flickr album.

Anyway, the kittens are calling …


The tale of Teddy’s tail

17 September, 2006

Teddy has a greasy tail. It used to be like a bushy pennant when he held it up, the epitome of what a Maine Coon’s tail should be, but some months ago, the fur on it started going lanky and getting matted.

I thought at first it was stud tail, which is a condition that affects both un-neutered and neutered cats (both male and female). In stud tail, sebaceous glands located at the base of the tail go into overdrive (possibly due to hormones) and produce waxy secretions. These secretions are used to mark their territory. Sometimes stud tail secretions can clog up the hair follicles, giving the cat a case of blackheads … on the tail!

I did peek, but I could see nothing waxy about Teddy’s tail. Nor were there any blackheads. It was just oily.

I managed to cut off some of the mats, and I did try washing his tail with a bit of dishwashing liquid and water on a kitchen towel, but got as far as rubbing it on the oily spot before calling it a day: Teddy is very proud of his tail and was prepared to defend it with tooth-and-claw. Hey, I would be protective of my rear end too if some human sidled up to me with a hand behind her and grabbed my bum.

I thought I would ignore the problem, hoping it would go away. Needless to say, the oily patch spread, down the tail and next thing I knew, Teddy must have overgroomed and pulled hanks out.

Something would have to be done. I’d read about a product from the US, called “Goop” which was a stain remover and hand-cleanser. Breeders swear by it as the no.1 product for greasy coats and STUD TAIL. So I bought some.

Today, the sun was shining, and the BBC said that it was 25 degrees C outside. Ah … the perfect day to wash a cat’s tail.

I volunteered hubby to help out. It would be quick, I told him. And he had the easy job. All he had to do was hold Teddy in the bath while I covered his tail with Goop, and then rinse it off. Five minutes max.

As usual, the plan looked better on paper.

Teddy went trustingly into my husband’s arms and he purred at us while we talked soothingly to him.

Then he saw the bathtub and the look on his face! Quickly, hubby put Teddy down on the towel at the bottom of the bathtub and caught hold of Teddy’s scruff but Teddy started getting out. In the end, hubby had to hold Teddy’s front paws while I held on to his scruff. At the same time, by some feat of prestidigitation I managed to smear a huge dollop of Goop into his tail and started working it in. I turned on the water and started to rinse, but Teddy tucked his tail under him, so I ended up washing most of his rear end.

I think the part that got to both hubby and me was when Teddy started howling. Yes, cats can howl too. “Ahroooooo … ahrooooo” is the closest I can come to describing it, delivered on an ascending scale, amplified by the amazing concert-hall acoustics of the bathroom. After that I couldn’t finish washing him fast enough.

Teddy only managed to scratch hubby once. In case you’re thinking hubby was a bit of a wimp, Teddy weighs about 13 lbs and is large and powerful, the size of a small dog.

“Armour” and “next time you take charge of the end with the teeth” were heard muttered as I dried Teddy, or attempted to.

goop1 Hubby is now recovering on the sofa, exhausted. Teddy has been given a catnip cigar and is similarly zonked out. I’m writing this as a substitute G&T.


Playing tag

17 September, 2006

My blog fairy godmother has had a gentle word with me … my use of categories was running amok. I was placing posts in categories which they had no bearing on. It made precise searching for posts difficult.

I fessed up – it was true. I was using categories as meta tags, the bits which search engines use to find web-sites. I thought that the more categories/tags I attached to my posts, the better the chance of someone stumbling onto a post. So if someone was looking for litter training tips they come across one on kittens for sale, say. Yes, it was a cheap ploy. And unfair on those of you who select the litter training category and are met with a flurry of unrelated posts. Probably the equivalent of pop-up advertising.

Anyway, I’ve since been through all my posts and re-categorised them, in each case trying to allot a single category to them. And creating sub-categories. Hopefully it’s a leaner, meaner tag machine, and easier for you to find specific posts.

If you think there are posts which shouldn’t belong in certain categories, or can see a clearer structure, please let me know. I do appreciate your comments and do reply to all of them.

And … I also just wanted to say a thank-you for putting up with my woolly tagging. And thanks for carrying on reading!


Kittens – Litter Training 6 – If at first you don’t succeed …

8 September, 2006

OK … so here I was writing like I was some sort of expert in litter training and patting myself on the back for having put in place all the suggested techniques and equipment.

And I probably gave you all the impression that my kittens took to their litter trays instantly, and that my house was perfectly clean, without any accidental puddles or unexplainable smells or squishy things on the bottoms of shoes.

Hollow laugh.

Despite having 5 litter trays in the living room and 3 in the hallway, I kept finding damp patches on the carpet. I looked behind the bookshelves in the hallway and found little rolls of a dark substance that looked like … you’ve guessed it, kitten poo. I caught one of the boys peeing on the carpet, even though the litter tray was next to it. There was a suspicious wet patch on the duvet (I keep the local dry cleaner in business). Before my very eyes, one of the boys squatted on the kitchen floor and innocently lifted his tail. The list goes on.

So where did I go wrong?

Well, I assumed that just because they were using their litter trays in the living room, that they were litter trained. Not. As soon as I let them out of the living room they ran around the house, and just did it where it pleased them.

So I had to start from the beginning again:

— the kittens are now only allowed the run of the house when I’m around to supervise.
— during the day they spend 90% of their time in the living room.
— I scrubbed and scrubbed the carpet with biological detergent.
— kittens are not allowed in the bedroom.
— I checked in the hidden corners of the living room to see if any messes have been made. Sometimes I leave a tray where a mess has been made so that the kitten will do it in the tray instead.

So, moral of the story: don’t give kittens the run of the house until they are fully litter-trained.

And oh yes … accidents do happen. Kittens have small bladders and when they get excited, and need to pee/poo, they will do it where they can. If you don’t succeed at first, just keep at it.


The vexing question – Killed vaccines vs Live vaccines

8 September, 2006

1. To vaccinate or not?

The kittens are coming up to nine weeks, and according to veterinary protoccol, they should be vaccinated at nine weeks and a secondary vaccine at twelve weeks.

I’m not entirely happy about this. From a holistic perspective, vaccines stress/alter the immune system, they do not confer immunity – their merely ameliorate the symptoms of the illnesses being vaccinated for. There is even a school of thought that believes that because certain illnesses have been “eliminated” through vaccination, it’s given rise to other illnesses. Furthermore, kittens get immunity from their mother’s milk up to the age of 14 weeks – surely that would cancel the vaccination out?

However, I’ve heard of cases of cats dying from illnesses because they haven’t been vaccinated. So: the jury is still out on not vaccinating, and I will vaccinate because it’s the cat association’s guidelines and I still haven’t the guts to put my foot down and be 100% holistic, because of “what ifs”.

2. 3-in-1 vaccine or 5-in1 vaccine?

The core vaccinations are for feline infectious enteritis (panleucopaenia) virus, feline rhinotracheitis virus and feline calicivirus, i.e. 3-in-1 vaccines. Some pharmaceutical companies have come up with 5-in-1, with the addition of chlamydia and feline leukaemia.

I think a young kitten’s immune system is too immature to cope with a 5-in-1.

FeLV is a serious, often fatal illness. It’s transmitted via blood or saliva or sexual intercourse. It’s something to consider if cats wander the streets.

My cats do not wander the streets and meet other cats – they are kept in a confined garden. My mother cat has been tested negative for FeLV.

Recently I’ve heard rumours of severe reactions to 5-in-1 vaccines – a kitten was permanently blinded after such a vaccine.

So: 3-in-1 vaccine.

3. Killed vaccines or live vaccines?

My vet has given me a choice: Norbivac Tricat which is a live attenuated (i.e. modified) virus, and Fevaxyn iCHP which is a killed (i.e. inactivated) virus.

There are arguments both for and against live vs. killed vaccines.

Modified live vaccines typically stimulate broader immune response.They are sufficiently weakened (attenuated) to avoid causing disease. However, modified live vaccines are considered the most dangerous by experts in immunology. They have the ability to replicate and then mutate in the body and are banned in Scandanavian countries. In multi-cat households, there is the risk of the virus being shed and causing illness in other cats.

So, a killed virus should be safer, right? Unfortunately, killed vaccines take longer to stimulate an immune response. In most killed vaccines, adjuvants (chemicals) are added to stimulate the immune system. Although adjuvants improve the effectiveness they also increase the risk of reactions, e.g. swelling near the injection site, and sometimes tumours. I’ve read that in the US, vets are advised to vaccinate on a limb of the pet so that if a tumour does develop, the limb can be amputated. Sheesh … what are we doing to our pets?

Last year I vaccinated using a killed 3-in-1 vaccine. So maybe I’ll stop dithering and use the same.


9/3/09 – Further thoughts on vaccination based on the comments that have been left on this post.

— There is always a risk in vaccinating young kittens.  I still haven’t resolved this dilemma yet.

— Don’t try to do too much at once, i.e. vaccinate, plus de-worm plus de-flea at the same time.  Young kittens’ systems can’t cope with this much chemical overload.

— I usually de-worm at least a week before vaccination because I’ve read somewhere that worm die-off and toxicity can make a kitten’s body more vulnerable to vaccinations.


Catswhiskers prefix approved by TICA

8 September, 2006

Very happy. Got approval recently to have Catswhiskers as my cattery/breeding prefix, by The International Cat Association (TICA).

Now I can register the litter of kittens and have them carry the name Catswhiskers.

If I’d registered with the GCCF, my prefix application wouldn’t have been approved for months and I wouldn’t have been able to use the prefix for litters born before the prefix was granted. The mind boggles … . Instead, I would have had to use their annual administrative prefix. But I wanted my kittens to have the best, I wanted them to have an identity of their own so I went the TICA route instead.

Now the question is: do I apply for the same prefix with GCCF, if it’s already been taken what should I do?


Society of Feline Artists – exhibition in London from 4 September

4 September, 2006

SOFA cat art exhibition (London) 

If you’re in London and love paintings of cats, this is your chance to see the works of the some of the finest cat artists in England: 

The Society Of Feline Artists (yes – SOFA – it’s deliberate!) London show starts on September the 4th and runs for three weeks at the Llewellyn Alexander gallery at Waterloo in London.

Here’s the address:

124 -126 The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1 8LN UK 
(Opposite the Old Vic Theatre)
Tel: 020 7620 1322/1324 Fax: 020 7928 9469