Years ago, my daughter, Nicole, devoted many hours towards creating the most beautiful and original birthday cake for me. This cake is the stuff of cat lovers’ dreams. Nicole created from scratch, a moist, mouth watering red velveteen cake. She painstakingly decorated it with marzipan. Enjoy the slideshow that takes you step-by-step through the process. This cat cake truly was a labor of love. Thank you for the memories, Nicole. You are the best daughter a mother could hope for.
Amy D. Shojai is a certified animal behavior consultant and the award-winning author of 23 pet care books, including “Complete Kitten Care” and “Pet Care in the New Century: Cutting-Edge Medicine for Dogs & Cats.” View more about Amy by clicking here:
Cats get the short end of the health care stick. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, cats visit the vet much less frequently than dogs. It’s not that felines are healthier (although cats do hide illness better) but many cats hate the vet so much their owners find it easier to just skip it. But even healthy cats need well exams once or twice a year.
Cats are adept at protecting themselves from stranger danger. What’s familiar is safe, while anything new or different raises kitty suspicions. A vet visit delivers a triple whammy by changing the cat’s routine, environment and exposure to strangers. Here are seven reasons cats hate the vet and how you can ease the angst.
Negative Crate Expectations. Cats learn very quickly to recognize cause and effect. The appearance of the cat carrier prompts kitty disappearing acts if used only for vet visits. Make the carrier part of the furniture and add a fuzzy bed or catnip toys inside to create a pleasant association.
Claustrophobic Car Rides. Though humans can look out windows and know what’s happening, the cat’s-eye view from the carrier offers movement without warning. Odd sounds and being in a strange environment raise cat blood pressure and might even prompt motion sickness. Covering the view with a towel over the carrier’s door helps some cats. But simply taking Kitty for many short rides around the neighborhood (and never going to the vet!) followed by treats or games can diminish nerves.
Scary Smells. Cats experience much of life through their noses. The array of unfamiliar smells found in a hospital — antiseptic, strangers, other animal’s fear — can ramp up the kitty fright factor. A pheromone product like Comfort Zone with Feliway that can be spritzed on a towel inside the carrier can help soothe environmental stress.
Strange Pets. Nothing turns felines into hiss-terical claw monsters like barking dogs or meowing cats. When confined inside a carrier, your frightened cat can’t flee, so the fight-or-flight instinct has no outlet. She may redirect her fear aggression on the nearest target — you or the vet staff. Ask to schedule your cat’s exam early in the morning or at slow times to avoid a busy waiting room. Some vet practices have separate waiting rooms and entrances for cats and dogs, so at least your cat never has to see or hear the mortal enemy.
Cold Exam Tables. Though cats may hate getting into their carriers, being dumped on a cold metal table elevates the “strangeness” of the experience significantly. After all, Kitty-Boy’s preferred lounging spots are the windowsill with a view, the soft top of the sofa, or a table underneath a warm lamp. Take along a towel or even the cat’s bed that smells like your cat to make the exam table more feline friendly. Some cat specialty practices have exam room windows with bird feeders outside or water fountains and fish tanks for kitty distraction.
Weird People Doing Weird Things. The vet and clinic staff love animals, but to your cat they’re from Mars. Maybe they wear uniforms and smell like dogs (spit!) and don’t ask permission to stroke his fur. A particular stressor is being handled by several people — the vet tech for getting a temperature or stool sample, for example, and later the veterinarian. Reducing the number of handlers may help. Scheduling enough time so the cat doesn’t feel rushed also can ease the tension.
Painful or Surprising Events. Needle sticks aren’t much fun. And a cold thermometer inserted into the nether regions is no way to make friends. It’s up to owners to offer treats or toys during and immediately after upsetting procedures to help change how cats feel about vet visits.
Cats remember discomfort, fear and bad experiences and expect them in the future. But they also remember good experiences and anticipate accordingly. Ask about taking your kitten for “fun visits” to meet and get used to the vet and staff, so he can simply play and be petted rather than examined and treated. Repeated happy visits take the scary out of the equation. Make vet visits more pleasant, and your cat will be happier — and healthier.
- Find Patrick the Cat in our CatHaven Tree, pictured below
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I have loved cats since infancy. Or so my Mom used to say. My first cat was a jet black, sleek looking cat named Ebony. There’s a faded picture of my Mom lowering Ebony into the cradle to take a better look at me. I don’t know if Ebony was that impressed, but I’m sure that I was!
Since then, after years of living with Ebonys, Taffys, Lilys, Bogeys and Chesters, with countless moments of joy and of sadness (at their eventual loss), I am still crazy about cats. I was crazy about cats long before the internet’s love affair with them. In fact, I even opened a cat shop in 1998 and appointed a newly adopted tuxedo boy named Bogey as our official shop cat. (now, you can shop at my website, MyThreeCats.com)
My heart has expanded with each cat experience. So much so, that I couldn’t help sharing the passion. Today, I serve on the Board at FosterCat, Inc., a Pittsburgh based network of foster homes and volunteers who rescue and save cats’ lives every day.
Cats are so tuned into us that they know when we are energetic, happy, stressed, sick, exhausted or grieving. How many of you have experienced the comforting feeling of a cat tending to you while you lay in bed, sick or hurting? It’s pretty special, whether they decide to catnap beside you, or tap your face with their little paw to say, OK, I’m here. (Of course, LOL, they also use techniques to wake you up.)
The daily care giving time I have invested in my cats has been rewarded many times over with their unconditional companionship and affection. Only those who have owned cats (or should I say, have experienced being owned by them) will understand this.
Anatole France made this observation: “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remained unawakened.” I wholeheartedly agree.
Dear Friends and Contestants, our sincere thanks to all of you who entered this year’s Holiday Cat Photo contest. The contest has officially ended! Our judges had a real challenge on their paws picking the top three photos! There were so many amazing, creative holiday cat photos submitted this year! Nevertheless, our panel of judges has chosen the winners, they are:
WIN (1st Prize): Custom Cat Pillow, compliments of Narrative Decor: E. Hunt, Will the Real Cat Stand Up!
PLACE (2nd Prize): $20 MyThreeCats.com Gift Certificate: J. Crouch, Poinsetta Cat!
SHOW (3rd Prize): $10 MyThreeCats.com Gift Certificate: C. Jones, Reindeer Cat!