Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

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Farewell Teddy Bumbledore: 13 April 2005 – 28 November 2015 … and Metacam kills cats

29 November, 2015

TeddySunshine

TEDDY BUMBLEDORE
13 April 2005 – 28 November 2015
Soulmate, Outstanding Cat, Angel in Fur Coat

Teddy Bumbledore was my first-born kitten from Ananda’s first litter.  I helped to deliver him.

When he opened his eyes, I was there.

When I slept at night, he would put his soft paw on my hand.

Teddy had to be put to sleep yesterday.

The cause of death was chronic renal failure, i.e. kidney failure.

The kidney failure was caused by Metacam, a popular pain-killer used for cats.

Read the rest of this entry ?

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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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Mythicbells’ feline Pampers solves cat pee problems

18 February, 2011

Despite the zookeepers' efforts, Leo just wouldn't keep his nappies on ... (photo from http://www.theblogofrecord.com/tag/lion-spray-warning-at-the-san-diego-zoo/)

When my queen was in heat she had this delightful habit of announcing her availability by spraying the house with her cat pee. 

A breeder I know told me how her queens had spray that could reach 4 feet high.  She found out when she heard her daughter’s screams and found out that a dress she had hung up on had been annointed.

Research indicates that an average 10 lb cat will produce approximately 3.5 oz – 6.5 oz of urine in a 24 hr period.   That’s a lot of disaster potential for furniture and furnishings.  And a lot of cleaning.

So what’s the solution? 

Isolating the cat is one.  Most breeders who have stud cats have dedicated quarters for them.   But if you want to allow your cat to roam, a far better solution is to use cat diapers (aka stud pants).

Yes, that’s right, now you can give your cat the equivalent of feline Pampers so that it can roam the house and socialise with the family and other cats.

Mythicbells Stud Pants and Princess Panties

Stud pants are not a new invention. Versions already exist for dogs. The ones for cats tend to be based on a human diaper model, with standard sizes and velcro to hold it on.  While the intention was good, cats are not engineered like humans:  Picture yourself holding down a cat with one hand.  With the other hand, you’re trying trying to work a pair of panties in the wrong direction up its tail. Picture the cat squirming.  Now see yourself repeating this twice to three times a day.  See the velcro get balled up with fur.  Yes, quite.

These issues led Molly Barr of Mythicbells Persians to hunt for a better type of stud pants.  She found a photo of a pair on the internet that used a harness instead of velcro to hold the pants on.  However, because they were no longer being made she designed her own.  And because they worked so well, she was asked to share them by other cat owners.

Demo of putting on Mythicbells Stud Pants

Mythicbells stud pants are easier to put on because they have a buckle that fastens with a snap.  The waist is adjustable via a slider.  The pants can be lined with human incontinence pads or panty liners.  They are also made-to-order by a professional seamstress in snazzy material.  They are machine washable.

Photo from Mythicbells Persians

Please note that the effectiveness of stud pants will depend on the individual cat.  If your cat is a heavy hoser, than you may wish to consult Molly about whether these pants will work.  And if your cat doesn’t use the litter box to poo, then you’ll need the cat diaper version that fastens around the tail.

If you have any questions, Molly will be happy to answer them (persians@mythicbells.com).  Please also check out her page on stud pants.

This is a labour of love!  Any money from the sales of the stud pants will go towards covering the expense of producing them, and any leftover is donated to the cat charity The Cat House on the Kings.

[NB – stud pants are available only in domestic cat size!!!]

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Bach Flower Remedy … now served with everything

17 April, 2010

 

(from the Natural and Organic Products Show 2010)

Flower Essences used to be marketed as single essences, or combinations, to heal as specific mood or emotional imbalances.  Bach’s Rescue Remedy is the most famous example. 

I myself have dabbled in using flower essences for my cats.  At the end of the day I can’t be sure they’ve worked.  But at least with flower essences there’s a feeling that they don’t have any negative side-effects.

What I’ve noticed over the past year, and increasingly, in this year’s show, is the use of flower essences as enhancements to conventional products.

This year it was the turn of fragrances.  Les Fleurs de Bach is a range that incorporates Bach’s Flower Essences into its range of perfumes and bath and body products, that is both organic and anti-stress. 

It is beautifully-packaged in clean white boxes, every aspect, including the French name shouts “premium” product.   The brand won the Beauty Challenger Awards at Beyong Beauty/Cosmeeting Paris in 2009.

What I’ve been keen to find out is whether or not the vibrational efficacy of Bach Flower Essences is affected by the commercial manufacturing process. 

Assuming that a company would only send experts to a trade show, I asked the representative at the stand at what stage the essences were added.  He didn’t know.  He was much better at talking about the quality of the fragrances and the product.  That’s all well and good, but for me, a holistic product is only as effective as the philosophy and the process behind it.  Based on the sales patter I received I wasn’t convinced that the product was more holistic than commercial.

Elsewhere in the show, there were other signs of flower essences being used to enhance other products.  These included  skin ointments or gels, shower gels, pet shampoos and even chewing gum.  Nelsons have a range which include Rescue Remedy pastilles.  Ainsworths already use flower remedies in their room and fragrance sprays.  Helios use Crab Apple in their pet shampoo because of its supposed effect in soothing skin irritations. 

It’s hard to gauge the efficacy of remedies that act on the vibrational level.  How can we tell how much of it is due to the feel-good factor, or the placebo effect as much of the proof is anecdotal?

Testimonials do abound on the emotional benefits people have experienced through flower remedies, so perhaps the only conclusion is that if more 2-in-1 products emerge which incorporate flower essences, and if people maintain they help them, then  it can only be a good thing.

But now that the box has been opened, what next? 

Ready-meals for dieters with flower essences to help ease the stress of dieting?  Chocolate bars and sweets that help to take away the guilt of bingeing? 

Remember … you heard it here first!

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Homeopathy for your Pets – now from Helios

17 April, 2010

Basic 18 remedy kit

 (from the Natural and Organic Products Show 2010)

I’ve long had an interest in the use of homeopathy, and visited the Helios stand because they were launching their Pet Homeopathy Kit.

Homeopathy kits for pets are not something new.  Ainsworth’s the Homeopaths have a range of veterinary speciality kits for cats, dogs  and horses.  The pillules in these kits are larger and softer than in conventional human homeopathy remedies, so that they dissolve more easily.  The Ainsworth’s kits also come in beautiful wooden boxes. 

I’ve always thought that the Ainsworth’s kits were rather pricey though at £99 for the cat and dog kit (containing approx. 28 remedies and 3 flower essences) and £150 for the horse kit.  And because I use the water-dosing method to adminster the remedies, it doesn’t matter if the pillules aren’t soft. So I’ve always preferred to save my money and use kits meant for humans as the remedies are the same.

The Helios Pet Kit retails at £32.95.  It consists of 24 remedies in 30C potency, plus one flower essence, the SOeSsence Flower Formula which is Helio’s equivalent of Bach’s Rescue Remedy.

The only remedy that seems different from their conventional human kit is Ledum, and possibly Drosera.

I was interested in the Flower Formula, but there were no samples available – I would have to buy the whole kit in order to try the flower essence.  That was disappointing.

Another disappointment was the reply that was given to my question about how to test for the efficacy of the flower essence.  I was told that it was not possible to test for the vibrational efficacy, that they (Helios) had to place its faith in the people who created the essences.

It was an honest answer, and perhaps the person I was speaking to wasn’t an expert, but I was hoping for testimonials.  For e.g. Tortue Rouge’s flower essences for pets are recommended by a homeopathic vet.  And when I spoke to Tortue Rouge (who exhibited last year) I got a very detailed and passionate explanation of how their essences were manufactured.

Another excellent addition to the Helios range is a SOeSsence Shampoo for Pets which contains essential oils of Lavender and Roman Chamomile, plant tinctures of Calendular and Urtica Urens, Sulphur and flower essence of Crab apple. 

Wow – finally, a pet shampoo WITHOUT tea tree oil which is toxic to cats.   The person I spoke to was instrumental in formulating the shampoo and in this instance was able to communicate her expertise in this matter.

(Elsewhere in the show, there was a manufacturer of pet shampoos which included tea tree oil in them – and there was a picture of a cat and dog on the bottle.  When I pointed out the toxicity of tree tree oil to cats, their cavalier reply was that then it shouldn’t be used on cats).

Finally, Helios were also offering a SOeSsence Balm for Pets for minor wounds, abrasions, sore paws and skin irritations.  Again, all the ingredients were designed so that the pet could lick the balm, and not suffer any ill-effects.

What the Helios products offer is peace-of-mind.  Pet owners can use the products knowing that there are no nasties that can make their pets ill.  A much-needed step in the right direction in an industry which often doesn’t take the needs of different species into account in formulating its products.

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Natural and Organic Products Show 2010 – Part 1 – Natracare the Hero of the Show

17 April, 2010

Once again I made my annual pilgrimage to the Natural and Organic Products Show which was held this year on 11-12 April at the Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre.

 It’s one of my favourite shows because natural products is one of my passions.  It also keeps me at the cutting-edge of what’s new in the natural and health food industry. 

It’s a fantastic opportunity to sample the products.  But more importantly it gives me a chance for a face-to-face chat with the people behind the products.  Their answers tell me just how genuinely committed they are to making a difference to the world in a holistic way, or whether it’s just lip-service and they are just riding on the natural products and organic bandwagon.

HERO OF THE SHOW

For me, the hero of the show (this year and in previous years) is Natracare.

Natracare is a company that manufactures feminine hygiene products (e.g. sanitary napkins and tampons) using certified organic, 100% cotton with totally chlorine-free, plastic free biodegradable materials.

Why is this important?

If you’re a woman you probably use these products.  And if you’ve ever suffered from reactions or allergies from these products, then please try Natracare products.

A friend of mine told me how she used Always sanitary napkins and experienced severe itching in her nether regions.  It got so bad that they became minor sores.

Out of desperation, she tried Natracare, and with the help of regular washing, her allergy cleared up.  Some months later, she returned to Always and the allergy recurred.

So why should Natracare be a more suitable alternative?  Always and other proprietary sanitary napkins use synthetics in the cover and in the stuffing.  The effect is the same as placing a plastic bag in your knickers and letting it stew – the resulting environment is perfect for causing irritation.

Susie Hewson, the founder of Natracare, was there manning the product stand. 

Speaking with her was a revelation.  Here was someone who has put her money where her mouth is:  she has developed a product that really meets the need of women but without sacrificing standards of care to the environment. 

For example, all the cotton used in Natracare products is 100% organic and GM-free.  What this means is that the cotton comes from India and Eastern Europe.  Not from the US where it is difficult to guarantee that cotton is 100% organic or GM-free.

People may scoff at the organic and GM-free labels, maintaining that they are anti-science. 

The fact remains that organic farming respects the balance of the environment and the health of the farmer. 

And the problem with cross-contamination of GM crops has led to the development of superweeds, thereby requiring ever-heavier levels of herbicides in GM farming.

All of these nasties affect the land, the insects and also the people who farm the land.

Susie told me of a friend of hers who worked briefly on a farm in which pesticides were used.  Two years later, that friend developed cancer and died.  It was lung cancer, and she was a non-smoker.

Natracare is not just a feel-good product though.  Quoting from the Natracare web site, here’s what the scientists and doctors have to say: 

“studies revealed that up to a third of women with symptoms of vaginal itching, soreness and/or discharge may be experiencing the symptoms of Vulval Dermatitis or Intimate Irritation, further research has shown that 75% of UK gynaecologists believe that conventional sanitary protection could be the cause of intimate irritation.

… nearly 4 out of 5 questioned felt that their patients, suffering with intimate irritation, were experiencing sensitivity to synthetic fabrics, sanitary protection and toiletries, and 50% then recommend the use of natural, chemical-free sanitary protection to help alleviate the symptoms.”

That’s why in terms of ethics, quality, and year-on-year commitment to standards, Natracare deserves the award for being the hero of the show.

Natracare is available from most health-food stores, independent pharmacies and Waitrose.

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Great Cat Breeder’s Blog – Mythicbells Persian Cats and Kittens

13 February, 2010

I’m so please to be able to tell you about a great cat breeder’s blog:  Mythicbells Persian Cats and Kittens, written by Molly Barr.

Molly breeds (as you’ve guessed!) Persians, and also feeds raw.   She’s not just a cat breeder, she’s also an artist.

So do check out her site for some great information about raw feeding, cat health, and photos of breathtakingly beautiful Persians!