Archive for May, 2011

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Fleas (1) – the Holistic vs Conventional approach

30 May, 2011

Image taken from http://www.hanklee.org

Summer is on its way, and with the warm weather, one of our least favourite visitors:  fleas.

I hesitated to write this post because as a cat breeder, fleas are one of those things that you shouldn’t admit to having.  But in the interests of cat owners out there who’ve been plagued by fleas, hopefully my experiences will help.

I’ve prided myself on a flea-free household.  Because of that, I’d never had to use flea repellents, or flea killers and this meant I could rear cats as holistically possible, with a minimum of medication and a natural diet.  It was part of my holistic approach to rearing cats.  I’d read that the best flea repellent was to feed a raw diet.  Maybe that’s true for a lot of raw feeders, in which case I was the unlucky exception.

Many years ago, when I was grooming one of my cats, a small black speck moved in the fur on the brush and yep … to my horror, it was a flea.

I can say, hand on my heart, that it was the first flea I’d seen since my moggy, Sophie died some 5 years previously.  (After she died, I spent months steam-cleaning the house and it was flea-free when my new cats arrived. )

I knew that it probably wasn’t the only flea around.  It could have come from any number of sources: hopped in from the neighbour’s garden, from a visitor’s clothes, from a visit to the vet … who knows.

But the fact is, by the time you find one flea, it probably means the house is infested and full of fleas in various stages of egg laying and adulthood.

And to my horror … I spotted something jumping out of the carpets.  And what was that itch on my ankles …

So, how did I get rid of the fleas? 

I did a lot of research on the internet on flea eradication.  If done the holistic way, it would be through baths (the cat, not myself!), vacuuming twice a day etc. 

However, vacuuming only gets rid of existing fleas, not the eggs that hatch into more fleas that would jump onto the cats and feed then drop off and hatch again.  And you can imagine how much time vacuuming the entire house, including all the nooks and crannies would take. 

The faster way would be to medicate using Frontline or Advantage and chemical sprays.  There’s no need to tell you that these are non-holistic remedies. 

Both Frontline and Advantage work by entering the bloodstream of the cat and poisoning the fleas who drop off and die.  Frontline and Advantage are supposedly toxic to fleas, and not to mammals.  But there are many articles on the net with examples of cats which have experienced bad side-effects from these neurotoxins.

So, a quandry. 

The holistic way which would take a long time and may not work. 

Or the non-holistic way that could have long-term health consquences for my cats.

I hate having to make decisions like that.  Of course my vet recommended the latter method.  He pointed out that at least with Frontline I could be sure that any fleas landing on my cats would die.  And in the meantime, I’d have bought myself some time and could try other methods in getting those blasted fleas out of the house.

More later.

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Part 13 – So you want to be a Cat Breeder – The Birth

15 May, 2011

It’s the Big Day!

For the past few days your queen has been checking out the kitten box and pulling out all the newspaper and towels that you lovingly-prepared for her. 

If all goes well, then you’ll hopefully have a boxful of kittens nursing and a purring mum. 

However, if there are complications then you may need a visit to the vet.

(I’m sorry if I keep making it sound like a horror story, but I want you to go into cat breeding with your eyes open.)

If a queen is showing distress and can’t kitten … and it’s 3am on a Sunday morning (and it will always be in the middle of the night because that’s cats for you) … and you’ve had to rush her to the vet … and the out-of-hours vet examines her … and decides she needs a caesarian … which means general anaesthesia … then be prepared to hand him your credit card.

An out-of-hours caesarian can cost up to £2,000.  (Bye-bye holiday and new clothes for the whole family.)

And don’t forget that you may have to hand-rear the kittens if your queen is too weak from the surgery to nurse the kittens.  That means feeding every two hours on-the-hour night-and-day.  That’s why as a precaution I always took two weeks off work around the time of the birth.  Fortunately I had bosses who thought I was a mad cat lady, so that’s all right then.  Fortunately I never had to hand feed.

You’ll also have to watch your queen because she may decide to take out the stitches herself.  It happened to the mother of my Bengal cat.  Twice.  Each time she had to be rushed to the vet.  She and her husband enjoyed two sleepless weeks feeding the kittens. 

But if all goes well … a box full of warm bundles of … what looks like little blind mice, but are actually kittens.  And the promise of loads of funny moments in the weeks to come.