How Can We Arrange For Our Feral Cats’ Care?

What can this elderly couple do to arrange for the care of their feral cats if they have to go to a nursing home? Get our advice in this week's post.

It’s important to make arrangements for your cats’ care in the event of your death or incapacity, no matter how old or young you are. Photo via Pexels

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

When we moved to our location in the woods, we had feral cats that came to the house. We trapped them and had them fixed, got them their shots, and brought them back and turned them loose. They would come to the house and we put out dry food for them. Now we are getting very old. What do we do about the feral cats if we go to a nursing home? Thanks for any input.

~ Old Cat Person

Thomas: First of all, OCP, we really want to thank you for taking such good care of your feral cats and wanting to make sure they are taken care of if you have to go to a nursing home.

Bella: We think we’ve got some ideas for you–and for anyone else in your situation.

Tara: We suggest that you get in touch with rescue or trap-neuter-return (TNR) groups in your area. In addition to helping you arrange for their care, they may be able to provide you with food and veterinary care as needed, too.

Thomas: Alley Cat Allies has a page on its website where you can find groups in your area. This directory is only for the United States, so if you live outside the U.S., you may have to do a bit more research to find a TNR group in your area.

Bella: The TNR group may also be able to help by relocating your colony or by advising the people who live in your home after you do, about the benefits of TNR and get them involved as well.

Tara: Your local shelters also may be able to help you find resources in your area, too.

Thomas: This brings us to a very important topic–one that’s of concern for pet cats as well as for feral cats. That is that all of you humans need to have a plan in place for the care of your cats if you should die or become incapable of taking care of them.

Bella: The death or incapacity of a family member is one of the most common reasons cats are surrendered to shelters. If nobody in the family has a place for the cats, they’ll probably end up at the shelter.

Thomas: There are a couple of things you can do to arrange for your cats’ care that don’t require a will. It’s especially important to have these guidelines in place in the event of your incapacity as well.

Bella: Having a will is a good first step, but wills can take a long time to go through the probate process, so it’s important to have something in place for immediately after your death or incapacity.

Tara: First of all, find at least two responsible friends or neighbors who can take care of the cats (feral cats or domestic cats) in the event of your unexpected illness, injury or death. Those people should have copies of your house keys so they can get in and provide food, water, and affection.

Thomas: Make sure they and your relatives know how many cats you’re taking care of, and the names and contact information for the people who have agreed to be emergency caretakers. Each of the caretakers should know how to contact the others, too.

Bella: Carry an “alert card” in your wallet with the names and contact information for the emergency caregivers.

Tara: And put one of those removable “Please rescue my pet(s)” stickers on the outside of all entry doors, with the number of cats listed.

Thomas: If you can make a formal arrangement for the care of your cats, that will be really helpful in the event that you have to go to a nursing home, or you are unexpectedly incapacitated. Make sure to keep those arrangements up to date and check in with your caretaker contacts periodically to make sure they’re still okay with taking care of your cats in an emergency situation.

Bella: Mama has emergency care arrangements in place for us, and she’s had to use them a couple of times when she went to the hospital. We know the people who would be taking care of us if Mama couldn’t, and we like them very much.

Tara: If you want to be extra-safe, you can set up a power of attorney with a trusted friend or family member, and that will give them the power to take care of your cats while your will is being probated or while you’re in the hospital or rehabilitation.

Thomas: Although there are a few shelters and humane organizations that will take cats in after the death or incapacity of an owner, most really don’t have the facilities to provide long-term care for cats. Also, cats grieve too (I know this from personal experience–my first human went into a nursing home, and I never saw him again), and they often need personal attention as they process their own grief.

Bella: So, Old Cat Person, the best thing you can do is to contact TNR groups in your area and ask them for assistance. You can also make legal arrangements like a power of attorney or designating a personal representative in the event of your death or incapacity.

Tara: It’s never too early to start thinking about how you want your cats to be taken care of in the event of your illness or passing, so please, for your cats’ sake, start making arrangements now if you haven’t done so already.

Thomas: What about you other readers? Do you have a plan in place for your cats’ care if you can’t take care of them anymore? Do you have a feral cat colony you’re taking care of? If so, have you been able to plan for that colony’s care in the event if your death or illness? If you have any tips for Old Cat Person, please share them in the comments!

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Should I Bring A Bengal Kitten Into My Family?

Mo wants to know if a Bengal kitten is a good fit for his family. We'll give our advice and some tips on what to look for in a breeder.

Mo wants to know if a Bengal kitten is a good fit for his family. We’ll give our advice and some tips on what to look for in a breeder. Photo via Pixabay

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I have a kitten question. We are looking to adopt a kitten to our family and we like a Bengal kitten for allergy reasons. We went to a breeder who is TICA registered, and she has five kittens that are 8 weeks old. When she brought them to us, they all ran away to different directions and hid under the couch or table. When we brought the cat toys out, they came to us and played but every time we tried to pick one up, we had to chase him, and when we picked him up, he would try to escape. Is this normal behavior for a little kitten? The breeder insists that they’re behaving this way because they are young and will adapt to the new family soon. I don’t know much about kittens and I thought they would easily let us touch and pick them up. Please let me know if I am making the right choice to adopt one of these kittens.

~ Mo

Thomas: First of all, we know that a lot of you have very strong feelings about buying purebred cats as opposed to adopting from a shelter. Please keep in mind that we believe there are legitimate reasons to buy a purebred cat, and allergy concerns are chief among those. Although we’ve never heard of Bengal cats being allergy-friendly (that’s more often the case with Siberians, because they have lower levels of a a certain protein, Fel D 1, in their saliva), we suppose it’s possible that the breeder could have bred her cats to be low in allergenic properties, too.

Bella: Regarding your question about whether it’s normal for kittens to not want to be picked up, well–that really depends on the kitten. Good breeders typically raise their kittens “underfoot,” by which we mean, the kittens aren’t in cages or closed-off rooms; they have the run of the house and get socialized by dealing with other animals and people.

Tara: Did you have the breeder show you around her home? Did you see where the kittens were raised? If they were raised separate from people, they may not have been as well socialized as they could have been. If, on the other hand, they were raised underfoot, they probably will adapt to a new family pretty quickly.

Thomas: Now, we think the fact that the kittens are interested in playing is a good sign. They are socialized to that degree. As to whether they’d get used to being picked up and held, some cats never do. I personally don’t like to be picked up, and I’ve been that way for 16 years now, but that doesn’t mean I’m poorly socialized. It’s just that I like what I like!

Bella: The one thing we do know about Bengals is that they’re very high-energy cats. If you bring one into your family, be ready to do lots and lots of play to keep your kitten entertained and make sure he doesn’t use up his extra energy doing things you don’t want him to do.

Tara: If you have the chance to sit quietly with the kittens and see if they approach you when you’re not reaching for them, we’d recommend you do that. Sometimes cats just don’t like being grabbed and picked up.

Thomas: While we’re talking about purebred cats, let’s talk about what to look for in a breeder. Whether you’re interested in a Bengal, Siberian, Persian, or whatever kind of cat, here are some things you should to to make sure you get a healthy and well-socialized cat.

Bella: First of all, do not buy a purebred kitten from a pet store! We’re sure you know about puppy mills and how horrible they are, but did you know that kitten mills exist, too? Mill kittens are often poorly bred, not well socialized, and can have serious health problems because of poor breeding and housing conditions and having had little to no vet care.

Tara: When you find a purebred kitten that interests you, be prepared to ask the breeder some questions. For example, you’ll want to know if the kittens were raised underfoot. We’d also recommend asking the breeder if you can see the mother and, if possible, the father. That will give you a better idea of what your kitten’s going to look like and how they’ll behave as adults.

Thomas: Ask if the breeder will provide a health guarantee and can give you veterinary records for your kitten once you have made your purchase.

Bella: If the breeder is registered in an association like the Cat Fanciers’ Association (CFA), TICA, or other breeding registration body, contact that registration and ask for information about the breeder before you commit.

Tara: Ask the breeder for references. If she has the names and phone numbers of people who have adopted kittens from her, contact those people and see how their experience has been.

Thomas: A good breeder will also ask you questions. Expect to be asked for veterinarian references and, if you rent, possibly contact information for your landlord or building manager, so she can determine whether you’re allowed to have cats.

Bella: A good breeder will also ask you about other pets you have in your home and what your lifestyle is like, in order to see if you’ll be a good match for the breed of cat you want.

Tara: The breeder will also want to make sure you know about special concerns related to the breed of cat–for example, if you want a Bengal, are you ready to give him lots of intellectual stimulation and play time? If you want a Persian, are you ready to brush him every day to keep his fur from matting?

Thomas: A good breeder will also want to know how you feel about spaying and neutering (this is often a requirement if you purchase a purebred cat), declawing, and keeping your cat indoors only.

Bella: Don’t be surprised if the breeder wants to keep the kittens in her home for 12 to 16 weeks. This is crucial for the kittens’ socialization and for developing their immune systems. Reputable breeders will not let kittens go at 6 or 8 weeks.

Tara: This post from PetPlace goes into a lot of detail about all the things to expect when you’re buying a purebred kitten. We highly recommend that anyone looking to bring a purebred cat into their lives read over that article and take it to heart.

Thomas: And here’s some great information about Bengal cats from Vetstreet and from the TICA website.

Bella: What about you other readers? Do you have Bengal cats? Can you tell Mo more about them and what they’re like as they get older? If you’re a breeder or you’ve bought a purebred cat, do you have some more tips about looking for reputable breeders? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

The post Should I Bring A Bengal Kitten Into My Family? appeared first on Cat Advice | Paws and Effect.

Is It OK For Me To Feed My Cat Canned Food?

Is a diet of canned food healthy for cats? Janet's vet said it isn't, but she wants the Paws and Effect Gang's take on that.

Our vet says cats are obligate carnivores, so they do better on canned food than dry. Photo via Pixabay

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I saw your website and I love it, very interesting and a good source of information. My question is in regards to my 8-month-old female kitten, Snickers. She is a tortie and is very picky about food; I had a hard time getting her to eat kibble and I added a little warm water to the kibble and she now eats about 1/3 a cup twice a day. She weighs 6 pounds. I was feeding her wet kitten food as she loves that, but my vet told me that cats that have a diet of canned food solely, usually end up with pancreatitis. I just wondered what your take is on this. I would have a much happier kitty if she could eat canned all the time. The only diet restriction she is supposed to have is that she not gain too much weight–she had an FHO due to a car accident–I adopted her from a shelter after they did the surgery. Thanks in advance!

~ Janet

Thomas: Thank you so much for the compliment, Janet! We hope we can help you with your question, too.

Bella: This is the first time we’ve heard of a vet saying that a diet of canned food could cause a cat to develop pancreatitis!

Tara: In fact, our vet, who works at a cat-only clinic, says that because cats are obligate carnivores, they do better on canned food than on dry.

Thomas: For those of you asking “what is an obligate carnivore?” here’s the answer: A carnivore is a creature that eats meat, and obligate means they need something. Thus, an obligate carnivore is a creature that relies on meat to provide the proper nutrition to be healthy.

Bella: While dry food does have some meat and meat by-products in it, canned food is higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than dry food.

Tara: Cats also have a very low thirst drive because their bodies are designed to get the water they need from eating their prey. So canned food not only gives them the protein they need, but it also gives them the moisture they need.

Thomas: But don’t just take our word for it. The Cornell Feline Health Center says, “In their natural habitat, cats are hunters that consume prey high in protein with moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates.”

Bella: And Tree House Humane Society says, “Cats usually rely on their diet for moisture and don’t drink as much water as they might need. Canned foods have significantly more moisture than dry or ‘semi-moist’ foods. Canned foods also are lower in carbohydrates and can be especially beneficial for cats with urinary issues, diabetes, and other illnesses, as well as in the prevention and treatment of feline obesity.”

Tara: Both of these sources recommend feeding meals instead of free feeding, because when you feed meals, you can control the amount of food Snickers is eating.

Thomas: We’re in the “feed meals, don’t let them graze” camp, too. Mama feeds us a diet of commercially prepared, nutritionally complete raw food–with our vet’s blessing, mind you–and she gives it to us in two meals a day.

Bella: Vets used to say that dry food was better for dental health because chewing would help dislodge tartar. But that advice is going by the wayside, too. After all, most cats swallow kibbles whole and don’t chew them.

Tara: Keep in mind here that we’re not veterinarians! We have a dedicated slave who does her best to research the latest and greatest information about cats, and provide links to reliable sources for that information, but we are not medical professionals.

Thomas: Regardless, we can tell you that lots and lots of cats stay healthy on a diet of canned cat food only, and we’ve never heard of a vet telling someone that a cat fed exclusively canned food would develop pancreatitis!

Bella: We would recommend that after she’s about a year old, you stop feeding her kitten food. The reason for this is that kitten food has more calories and fat to help kittens grow big and strong. But when they reach adulthood, cats can start putting on too much weight if they eat kitten food.

Tara: And if you do make the switch to canned food, we recommend that you follow the feeding guidelines on the can. Sometimes people feed too much, but most cats can get by on a third to half of a 5.5-ounce can of cat food, twice a day.

Thomas: We’d recommend that the next time you see your vet, you have a conversation with him or her about canned versus dry food. Don’t be snooty about it, but let your vet know that you’ve seen information from reliable sources like the Cornell Feline Health Center that lead you to believe that canned food is a healthy diet for cats.

Bella: A lot of vets can’t stand “I read it on the internet,” and for good reason. There’s a lot of bad and misleading information out there, and vets get to hear all kinds of it from their clients. But if you can point out that you’ve used reputable sources, your vet might be more willing to hear you out.

Tara: So, Janet, we hope this helps a bit. We’d recommend trying Snickers out on canned food–and watching her weight while you do so. As Mama’s vets have said before, “You can’t argue with good health.”

Thomas: What about you other readers? Have you ever heard of a vet saying cats can get pancreatitis from living on canned food only? This is a first for us!

Bella: We know that people get very passionate about food and nutrition, so we request that when you do comment, you be courteous and respectful, not just to our reader but to her vet (even if you disagree with that vet’s recommendations). If you can provide links to other reliable and reputable sources that Janet can read, please share those in the comments, too.

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