Kidney Compromise

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Kidney Compromise

Your cat’s kidneys do many important things, including manage fluid balance, blood pressure, stimulate the production of red blood cells, and remove waste from the blood.  Kidney compromise in your cat can therefore affect hydration status, blood pressure, energy levels and appetite. 

Causes of Kidney Compromise

Kidney compromise falls into 3 broad categories:  chronic kidney disease, inherited kidney diseases, and acute kidney disease.  The most common type of kidney compromise is chronic kidney disease (CKD).  CKD begins early in life and progresses to renal failure with age.   Early diagnosis of chronic kidney disease and good care can boost both the quality and length of your pet’s life. 

However, older cats aren’t the only ones at risk. Kittens can be born with kidney diseases.   Congenital (existing at birth), inherited or genetic kidney diseases are processes that affect the development and growth of the kidneys before or shortly after birth.  Most patients are less than 5 years of age at the time of diagnosis.  Some renal diseases in this category include:  complete absence of one or both kidneys (renal agenesis); abnormal kidney development (renal dysplasia); polycystic kidney disease, characterized by formation of multiple, variable-sized cysts throughout the kidney tissue; nephroblastoma (a congenital kidney tumor).

Acute renal failure is a set of conditions that are marked by a sudden decline in renal function, usually as a result of a toxic, infectious, or vascular insult.  The kidneys receive approximately 20-25% of blood pumped from the heart; therefore they are particularly susceptible to various types of vascular injury.  Insufficient blood flow to the kidneys as with dehydration, and toxic and infectious diseases can cause acute renal failure.  Plants in the lily family, antifreeze, Ibuprofen, Tylenol and other drugs can have a significant negative effect on kidney function.  Obstruction of urine flow by kidney stones or urethral obstruction by feline idiopathic cystitis can result in acute kidney failure.

Symptoms of Kidney Compromise:

Lack of appetite

Lack of energy

Excessive urination

Excessive thirst

Weight loss

Vomiting

Abdominal enlargement

Bloody urine

Abdominal pain

Halitosis

Weakness

Diagnosis

After discussing the background history of symptoms and any possible incidents that might have led to this condition, your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your cat.   Based on the history and physical exam, your veterinarian will most likely order a blood chemical profile, a complete blood cell count, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis. Abdominal x-rays, and/or abdominal ultrasound may be performed to identify and characterize the kidney disease your cat is suffering from. If appropriate, direct genetic tests are available for detection of specific genetic mutations, such as familial polycystic renal disease in Persian and Persian-derived breeds of cats.

Risk Factors Associated with the Development of Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease is prevalent in up to 35% of geriatric cats1.  Some risk factors for CKD in cats include increasing age, high blood pressure, thin body condition and/or weight loss, prior periodontal disease, prior anesthetic episodes, cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), and dehydration in the preceding year. Longer survival time has been documented when the diagnosis is made early on in the disease2.

Early Diagnosis of Chronic Kidney Disease

Early detection of CKD is important in successful management of the disease in slowing its progression and improving the quality of life of the affected patient.  Laboratory and clinical findings used to diagnose CKD include increased serum creatinine (sCr), decreased urine specific gravity, weight loss, halitosis, and decreased kidney size.  Unfortunately, these findings remain normal until about 75% of the kidney function is lost.  Therefore, an earlier and more accurate biomarker of kidney function is needed.  Recently, researchers have found a protein that is eliminated by the kidneys called symmetric dimethylarginine (SDMA).  This protein increased about 14-17 months earlier than sCr increased above the normal reference range.  These researchers found that increased SDMA was effective in confirming CKD in 86% of cases.  Therefore, the SDMA biomarker would be very useful in helping owners and veterinarians become more proactive in detecting and managing early CKD2, 3.

Treating a kidney compromised cat

Five steps are involved in treating kidney compromise in cats

Step 1: Rehydration

The cornerstone of therapy for kidney compromise is rehydration and maintenance of a hydrated state. Fluid therapy for rehydration may consist of intravenous (IV) fluids, but subcutaneous fluid therapy may be adequate. 

Isotonic fluid solutions are used to rehydrate and provide maintenance therapy to help prevent increases in phosphorus and decreases in potassium and balance electrolytes.   Intermittent subcutaneous fluid therapy is often prescribed for patients with chronic kidney disease and can be administered as an outpatient or at home, depending on the severity and stability of the disease.

Step 2:  Diuresis

Diuresis is defined as the physiological process by which urine production in the kidneys is increased as part of the body’s maintenance of fluid balance.  This is accomplished by the administration of fluids for patients with kidney disease. Newly diagnosed patients may need to receive IV fluid therapy to correct dehydration, improve kidney perfusion, and promote diuresis. Patients in kidney failure often require more fluids than the daily maintenance rate. Many toxins are excreted, either fully or partially, via the kidneys, so fluid therapy along with other treatments is used to hasten toxin elimination. In some cases, such as with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID, i.e. Tylenol, Ibuprofen, and aspirin) toxicity and lily ingestion (cats), IV fluid therapy is recommended for 48 to 72 hours to help perfuse the kidneys and prevent acute kidney injury. The rate of administration should be 2 to 2.5 times higher than a typical maintenance rate to assure sufficient diuresis, as long as the patient’s clinical status does not contraindicate a high fluid rate.

Step 3:  Diet – Protein and restriction of dietary phosphorus

Chronic kidney disease causes increases in blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine.  One of the by-products produced when the body breaks down protein in food is BUN.  When the kidneys are compromised, animals can’t remove BUN efficiently, and your pet feels nauseous and has a poor appetite.  This can lead to muscle wasting in senior cats with CKD4.  The dietary treatment of CKD in cats typically includes less protein and less phosphorus than diets designed for normal animals.  These diets also often contain increased amounts of fish oil and moderate amounts of sodium.  Phosphorus restriction has been shown to slow the progression of CKD and adding fish oil has been shown to slow the development of pathological changes in the kidney, but the value of protein restriction in slowing progression of disease remains uncertain5, 6 Nevertheless, studies have shown that survival is prolonged more than twofold in animals with CKD, when animals are fed commercial “kidney” diets with less protein and phosphorus compared when cats are fed normal maintenance diets7, 8, 9.  Sometimes a diet change alone will help your pet feel better. Several low-protein, low phosphorus diets are available through veterinarians to slow the progression of kidney disease.   To help prevent muscle wasting in conjunction with chronic kidney disease, consider giving egg whites to your pet. This is the highest quality protein available and all the phosphorus is in the yolk!  Along with anti-nausea medication, appetite stimulants, and probiotics (discussed below) you can significantly improve your cats’ appetite while slowing the progression of CKD. 

When a significant amount of kidney function is lost and the kidneys are unable to get rid of excess phosphorus, it may be necessary prevent the absorption of phosphorus from the food and a phosphate binder medication may be indicated.  Phosphate binders—in liquid, powder, or tablet form—binds to phosphorus in food and prevents it from being absorbed into your pet’s bloodstream. Phosphate binders must be given with meals, because the medication can’t do its job without food. If you change the frequency of feeding, talk to your veterinarian about changing the phosphate binder dose so you can give it with each meal.

Step 4:  Additional therapies for anemia, nausea, anorexia.

Anemia (low red blood cell count) is common in pets with chronic kidney failure. The kidneys make a hormone called erythropoietin that tells the bone marrow to make new red blood cells to replace older cells as the older cells are removed. When kidneys fail, they stop making adequate amounts of this hormone. The anemia develops slowly, giving the pet time to adapt. When the anemia is moderate to severe, your pet may appear tired or unwilling to eat.  Human erythropoietin replacement shots and/or blood transfusions are available to treat anemia.  Vitamins with iron may be helpful.

Appetite stimulants, stomach acid reducers and anti-nausea and vomiting (occasionally with blood) drugs may be prescribed.  Famotidine (Pepcid AC) or other drugs that reduce gastric acidity reduce stomach ulcers and improve appetite.   Mirtazapine (Remeron) is effective in many cats to stimulate appetite.  Maropitant (Cerenia) is an effective anti-vomiting, anti-nausea medication that is helpful in the treatment of inappetence in cats with renal failure.   Often potassium supplements either given in fluids or orally are needed.  Your veterinarian can answer questions about the best medications and dosing schedules for your pet.

Probiotics (Azodyl, Kibow Biotics) metabolize toxins in the large intestine, sparing the compromised kidneys of this burden. Toxins normally move between the blood and the gastrointestinal tract.  As the kidney’s function slows down, wastes build up in the blood (azotemia) and diffuse into the intestinal fluid by a natural physiological process. While probiotics won’t cure renal disease, it can reduce azotemia, slowing the progression of the disease by reducing nausea, inappetance and weight loss.

-Written by Dr. Joel Stone

References

Bartges JW.  Chronic kidney disease in dogs and cats. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract 2012;42:669-692)

Greene JP, Lefebvre SL, et al. Early detection of chronic kidney disease associated with the development of chronic kidney disease in cats evaluated at primary care veterinary hospitals. J Am Vet Med Assoc. February 1, 2014: 244 (3):  320-7.

Hall JA, Yerramilli M, et al. Comparison of serum concentrations of symmetric dimethylarginine and creatine as kidney function biomarkers in cats with chronic kidney disease. J Vet Intern Med.  November 2014: 28(6): 1676-83.

Freeman LM, Cachexia and sarcopenia: emerging syndromes of importance in dogs and cats.  J Vet Intern Med. 2012 Jan-Feb: 26(1): 3-17.

Finco, DR; Brown, SA, et al. Protein and calorie effects on progression of induced chronic renal failure in cats. J Vet Research Vol 59, No 5. May 1998.

Finco DR, Brown SA, Crowell WA et al. (1994) Effects of aging and dietary protein intake on uninephrectomized geriatric dogs.  Am J Vet Res 55, 1282-1290

Ross SJ, Osborne CA, Kirk CA, et. al. Clinical evaluation of dietary modification for treatment of spontaneous chronic kidney disease in cats. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2006; 229:949-947

Plantinga EA, Everts H, Kastelein AM, et. al.  Retrospective study of the survival of cats with acquired chronic renal insufficiency offered different commercial diets.  Vet Rec 2005; 157:  185-187

Elliott J, Rawlings JM, Markwell PJ, et al.  Survival of cats with naturally occurring chronic renal failure:  effect of dietary management.  J Small Anim Pract 2000; 41:235-242

 

About the Author

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Joel D. Stone, DVM, Ph.D. – Joel is a graduate of Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine, and received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis in Comparative Pathology.  Following his veterinary medical training, Dr. Stone has worked in clinical practice, pharmaceutical companies and universities.  Currently, Dr. Stone works at the All Cat Clinic and Precious Cat in Englewood Colorado, splitting his time between clinical practice, research and writing about feline health topics.

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New Health Monitor Everyday Litter will launch in PetSmart and Independent Pet Stores in July

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Englewood, CO – April 27, 2015 – Precious Cat, Inc. announces Health Monitor™ Everyday Litter. Health Monitor™ Litter is a consistent particle sized (calibrated) scoopable litter that will help you monitor kidney function, diabetes and hyperthyroidism in your cat.

With Health Monitor™ Everyday Litter you can check your cat’s urine in a calm home environment. Increased weight of urine balls can be a sign of kidney compromise, diabetes and hyperthyroidism. There is a chart provided on the Health Monitor™ box for you to compare the weight of your cat’s urine balls. You can also download the Health Monitor™ App. to monitor your cat’s urine balls. If the weight of the urine balls is at or above the levels on the chart, your cat is urinating too much regardless of diet. Weigh your cat’s urine balls every three months. If the weight of the urine balls increases and the cat’s diet is the same, see your veterinarian. Enclosed in the Health Monitor™ box is a free digital luggage/cat scale since it is also important to monitor your cat’s weight every three months. If your cat has weight loss, see your veterinarian.

A poor diet may result in a number of health issues including compromised kidney function and diabetes. Once you determine that your cat has increased urination you can make positive changes to your cat’s diet to improve its health and longevity in some cases adding years to your cat’s life.

You can find Dr. Elsey’s Health Monitor™ Litter at PetSmart and other independent retailers. For more information call 877-311-2287 or visit our website at www.preciouscat.com.

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Inappropriate Elimination – Blog 2

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Inappropriate elimination is the number one behavioral reason cats are abandoned, surrendered to shelters and put to sleep. It can be a frustrating situation to deal with. Following is Precious Cat’s Five Step Program – to help solve the problem of cats not using the litter box.

First, replace your current litter with Cat or Kitten Attract. Cat and Kitten Attract were designed to be texture friendly to cat’s paws. Cats are very texture driven that is why some textures of litter just don’t appeal to them. The texture of the litter can be an issue as to why cats will not use the litter box. Both of these litters also have the natural herbal attractant added to them so they do draw the cats to the litter box by smell.

Second, clean up your litter box. You should replace your litter boxes often they can become scratched and then it is difficult to eliminate the urine odor after washing. We recommend using the giant open litter pans or storage containers – I have attached a picture for you to view. You need to cut a hole or door way in the storage container for easy access for your cats. Remove feces and urine clumps a couple of times a day from the box and wash your box thoroughly with a mild soap and water. Don’t use any harsh chemicals to clean out your box – cats do not like the smell and this may discourage them from using the box. Also, make sure you have one box for each cat plus one and do not place the boxes side by side.

Thirdly, clean up all old odors so your cat will not have a tendency to go back and use those areas again. I can not stress how important it is to clean all the old odors it is a major step in getting your cat to use the box again. In our litter box solutions booklet starting on page 17 we discuss in detail how to clean up cat urine. The booklet is also available on line for your use. Each type of surface is discussed and how step by step it should be cleaned. After the cleaning process is complete it is important to cover the area to keep the cat from the trigger point until it has dried and the odor is gone. The things that I like the best are plastic carpet runner – spike side up and a food bowl. A cat typically will not urinate or defecate where they eat.

Fourth, again the type of litter box and where it is located can be a key to getting your cat back to using the box again. We recommend not using boxes with hoods – they trap odors and many cats feel trapped in a hooded box and refuse to use it. The large open litter boxes or storage boxes as discussed earlier are the best. Your cat should be able to step in and out of the box with ease and be able to turn around in the box. Remember that senior cats can have litter box issues simply because it is difficult for them to step in and out of the box if the sides are too high. Location of the litter box is important as well – don’t place your cat’s litter box in a loud laundry room or cold basement. Placing the box in a warm dry quiet place is key. We recommend one box per cat plus one and if you have a multi-level home place one box on each level or your house.

Last but not least stress is a major factor in a cat not using the litter box. Try to find out what might be causing the stress and minimize it. A good way to reduce stress is through enrichment. Play with your cat at least 15 minutes a day – a tired cat is a good cat. Provide perches and cat poles so your cat can see outside it also provides a get away spot from other cats in the household. If you have multiple cats which most of us do make sure you zone their litter boxes and food bowls providing separate areas for each of your cats. This will help with territory problems if they should arise. My cats love any feather on a wand they will play and chase the feather as long as someone will play with them. Just remember to pick up the toy and put it away when you are done to avoid your cat eating the feather. Take it for the voice of experience my girl cat Chyna Girl ate a piece of what we suspected to be a feather from a toy after a long hospital visit she finally passed it without having surgery.

I hope these suggestions help give you some insight into inappropriate elimination behavior. That’s it for this time please let us hear from you and do remember to hug your cat.

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Precious Cat Senior Litter

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I have received a number of questions and or comments about the Precious Cat Senior litter. In light of these questions, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss how to use the Senior litter and the benefits of using the litter.

The Senior litter was invented to be used with senior, overweight and pregnant cats but can be used for any age of cat. The reason for the above classification is that this particular group of cats sometimes has a problem with soiling their genital area and if this occurs there is a likelihood of a retrograde urinary tract infection. Senior cats are 45 times more likely to have a urinary tract infection as a result of not being able to keep their genital area clean and having more diluted urine. The litter grows no bacteria and it does not stick to the coat of the cat. Its small particle size and dust fines coat and dehydrate cat feces to reduce odor and prevent bacterial growth of E-Coli, E-Coli bacteria grows on feces and along with reduced natural body defenses can lead to kidney failure, urinary and uterine infections. Most cats will take right to the litter since the litter is fine and soft and pleasing to cat’s paws. Precious Cat Senior is made from amorphous silica gel. It is safe if inhaled or ingested and does not cause silicosis because it has no crystalline silica. The Senior litter and also our Long Hair litter are green products and they are both biodegradable.

Now for how to use the litter – we recommend putting about an inch to an inch and a half of litter in the box. Of course if you have more than one cat we do recommend one box for each cat plus one. You would take out the feces on a daily basis and then rake the litter around to refresh it. The litter looks like it clumps at first and then will flatten out – the Senior litter does not clump so by raking the litter around you are using the litter in the box to absorb the urine. After about 2 weeks you would simply dump the entire contents of the box and start over again. This however is not a hard and fast rule it will vary by urine output of your cat. Transitioning into using the Senior litter can be done one of two ways. Either top your existing litter with the Senior litter slowly removing your existing litter and adding more Senior litter or by placing an additional box with the Senior litter and giving your cat a choice.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the Senior litter and its use. Until next time please hug your cat.

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Defecation Issues with Cats

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I receive many emails from clients that want to know why their cats are defecating outside the litter box. Defecation issues can be difficult to sort out and it can be frustrating to try to stop the behavior. Hopefully this entry will give you some insight to try to get to the bottom of this difficult problem.

First of all, it is important to look at all the simple solutions first – the type of litter, location of the litter box, does the box have a hood or not? Typically we don’t recommend having a hood on a cat litter box – cats feel trapped and a hooded box can trap odors that are offensive to a cat. As we have talked in past entries cats are very texture driven so if they decide they don’t like the texture of the litter they may avoid the litter box. Also, we recommend at least two boxes for cats that are not using the litter box to defecate. One box for defecation and one box for urination and do not place the boxes side by side. If the boxes are side by side the cats perceive the boxes as one box – even if you place them in the same room you need to give them some separation. Our Cat Attract and Kitten Attract are very texture friendly and they do contain a natural herbal attractant that draws the cats to the box by smell.

Another issue with cats not using the box often times is some sort of bowel issue like constipation or a loose stool. If a cat is experiencing any of these issues they may avoid the litter box since they can associate the box with something unpleasant. It is important to watch your cat’s stool and consult with your veterinarian if you notice anything different. Along those lines another thing to keep in mind is that cats take a different stance to defecate than they do to urinate. Older cats and overweight cats then may have difficulty standing in deep litter to defecate. Cats hid pain very well so they may have some discomfort in their lower spine or legs that may hinder them from being able to stand in the litter box. We do have the Senior litter that was discussed in the last blog which does address this issue in overweight, pregnant and senior cats.

Although there is no hard research to back this up long haired cats often have more issues with using the box to defecate than short haired cats. One notion is that they don’t like getting litter and feces on their pant fur and litter in between their toes so they will avoid the litter box to defecate. We always recommend that you have your vet shave the hair around the rear area – it is called a hygiene clip and also clip the hair in between the toes if the hair is really long. This will sometimes solve the problem with a long haired cat. Our Precious Cat Long Hair litter can also be a solution for this problem in that you keep it low in the box like the Senior litter and it does not stick to the cat’s coat.

If it is truly a behavioral issue than the Feliway plug ins may help with the stress the cat is experiencing and or talking to your veterinarian about using anti-anxiety drugs.

One other idea I would like to mention that has worked well for some clients. If your cat is defecating right outside the box place a mud tray in front of the box like an extension of the box if you cat begins to go on the tray make is smaller and smaller until the behavior transfers to the box.

Defecation issues an be tough to get a handle on but I hope this information has helped answer some questions. Until next time take care and please remember to hug your cat.

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How To Clean Up Cat Urine

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Another frequent email or call I receive is “what the best way to clean up cat urine”. As you are aware a cat’s sense of smell is 1000 times stronger than ours so even though you may think you removed the urine odor your cat may still smell the odor and use that area again. If you do not remove all the urine odor there will be a tendency for your cat to continue to urinate in those areas over and over. Cleaning up old urine odors is essential for getting a cat to use the litter box again. In our Litter Box Solution Booklet starting on page 17 we go through each surface step by step and discuss how to clean each surface. You can down load the booklet on the website www.preciouscat.com or it is attached to our Cat Attract litter products and additive.

Today I want to discuss removing the odor from carpet which seems to be the most frequent problem. We recommend a three step program – first beginning with cleaning the area with a mild dish detergent and water. Saturate the area with this solution and let it sit on the area for an hour or two. Blot the area with tap water to rinse do not rub your carpet as to preserve the natural carpet texture. Then soak the area with club soda for ten minutes and then blot up the club soda with fresh paper towels or a fresh towel over the area. Weigh down the towels with something heavy and let it dry overnight. The next day apply Dr. Elsey’s Urine Removal Program. You mix the Urine Removal Program one part solution to seven parts distilled water. Then you saturate the area with the Urine Removal Program do not blot up just allow the solution to remain in the carpet to dry. To keep your cat away from the area you can use carpet runner spike side up to provide a boarder for the carpet area – your cat will not walk on the spikes. If the carpet continues to smell despite cleaning you may need to treat both sides of the carpet with the Urine Removal Program and replace the pad and seal your sub floor. This often times is the only way to get rid of the odor which often hides out in the carpet pad.

I know this seems like a rigorous process but it is a good way to be assured you are removing the odor the first time around.

Until next time – take care and please remember to hug your cat.

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Precious Cat Litters

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I have been receiving a number of phone calls and emails about the different types of litter that we offer. In this blog I would like to outline some of our different litters.

Cat Attract™

Cat Attract was designed for cats with inappropriate elimination issues. It is a clumping clay litter that is texture friendly to a cat’s paws and is blended with a natural herbal attractant that cats are attracted to. It is hard clumping litter with superior odor control and is 99% dust free. Keep at least 2.5 to 3 inches of litter in your box and remove the feces and clumps of urine a couple of times a day. We recommend changing the box every 3-4 weeks.

Kitten Attract™

Kitten Attract is for kittens 8 weeks to one year of age. Kitten Attract is a clumping clay litter with a granule size and texture that is pleasing to a kitten’s tender paws. It is blended with a natural herbal attractant that piques a kitten’s curiosity to use the litter box. The Kitten Attract is 99% dust free. Keep at least 2.5 to 3 inches of litter in your box and remove the feces and clumps of urine a couple of times a day. We recommend changing the box every 3-4 weeks.

Precious Cat Senior

Precious Cat Senior was invented for senior cats in that senior cats are 45 times more likely to develop a urinary tract infection than a younger cat. Precious Cat Senior has a small particle size that cats prefer. The litter absorbs urine on contact and traps it inside the crystal to prevent bacterial growth, thus helping to prevent urinary tract infections. The Precious Cat Senior is an amorphous silica gel that is safe if inhaled or ingested and the Cat Attract litter additive is hydrolyzed in the Precious Cat Senior. This litter is biodegradable. Since this is a silica gel litter it does not clump you just simply remove the feces daily and then rake the litter around with a scoop to refresh it. One application which is about an inch and half of litter in the box will last around 2 weeks depending on urine output. If you notice that the crystals are no longer absorbing the urine then it is time to dump the litter and start over again.

Precious Cat Long Hair

Precious Cat Long Hair litter is an amorphous silica gel that is safe if inhaled or ingested. The particle size is much smaller than other silica gels on the market which makes it more pleasing to a cat’s paws. It is biodegradable and will not stick to a long hair cat’s coat. Precious Cat Long Hair litter is infused with hydrolyzed herbs to draw a cat to the litter box. Since this is a silica gel litter it does not clump you just simply remove the feces daily and then rake the litter around with a scoop to refresh it. One application which is about an inch and half of litter in the box will last around 2 weeks depending on urine output. If you notice that the crystals are no longer absorbing the urine then it is time to dump the litter and start over again.

Precious Cat Ultra

Precious Cat Ultra litter combines heavy non tracking granules with smaller granules. The result is an excellent clumping clay litter that prevents moisture from reaching the bottom of the box, while providing a clump that will not break up. Great for multi-cat families it provides superior odor control without any use of deodorants, additives, or chemicals. It is hypo-allergenic in that it contains no plant protein and 99.9% dust free so it is an ideal litter for cats with allergies or asthma. Keep at least 2.5 to 3 inches of litter in your box and remove the feces and clumps of urine a couple of times a day. We recommend changing the box every 3-4 weeks.

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Litter Additive

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There seems to be a number of questions as to why you can not use the Cat Attract litter additive in alternative litters such as wheat, corn, pine, paper, cedar etc. The paramount reason is that the additive works on a smell premise. Alternative litters have a particular odor about them because of their composition. In other words the corn smells like corn, the wheat smells like wheat and so on so these litters will mask the scent of the additive providing no benefit in drawing the cat to the box. There are no problems with using it with any kind of litter since it contains non toxic natural herbs – if just won’t be effective. The second part of this equation is that you need to use it with litter that is clumping so it will become part of the litter and mix in well.

We do recommend that it be used with our Precious Cat Ultra litter since this litter is non scented clumping clay litter. However, it can be mixed with any clumping clay litter as long as the litter has no additives like baking soda, perfumes, chemicals and deodorants.

Thanks and until next time – please remember to hug your cat.

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Holiday Hazards for Cats

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The Holiday season is upon us so I thought it would be good time to discuss some holiday hazards to avoid for cats. As you know, I have had cats since I was three so I have really never had life BC (before cats) that I can remember anyway. Many of my friends refer to the holiday season BC and how they have had to adjust their decorating life to accommodate their cats.

Plants are popular around the holiday season and some of these plants can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Some plants that need to be keep away from cats are poinsettia, mistletoe, and holly. I like to always air on the side of caution – so I don’t allow these plants in my house – if you do please keep them away from your cat’s reach and if your cat does come in contact with them, it is good idea to have your veterinarian check your cat right away.

Christmas trees can be another source of frustration when you have a cat. I have extreme allergies to trees and so does one of my cats, so I don’t have a live Christmas tree – if you do don’t allow your cat to drink the water under the tree. There may be a fertilizer added to the water that may be poisonous so it is good idea to always keep the water covered well with a heavy tree skirt. The Christmas tree itself can be a problem for many cats. One night I walked into the living room to catch my Lilac Point Siamese “Makeeta” surfing the tree down onto my glass table. Thankfully the cat, tree and table survived with no great harm but cats will climb trees so it is good idea to make sure the tree is anchored well and away from things like glass tables. The same boy cat liked to chew the artificial tree as well and this can cause some serious problems if some of the materials become stuck in the cat’s intestines.

Along those lines, ribbons and tinsel can also become foreign bodies in the cat’s intestine and may require surgery. So, I avoid tinsel on the tree and I don’t put any packages around the tree with ribbon until they are opened under close supervision and away from my cats.

The holiday season is also a time for a lot of good food. Be careful not to over do it with giving your cat’s different food that may cause digestive upset. I cook a turkey breast about once a week for my cats so they are use to having turkey on their canned cat food but you need to go slow and be careful how much food you are giving them. Also, don’t allow them to eat sweet foods like chocolate, which can be hazardous for cats.

Last but not least, the holiday season is a busy time and cats do get stressed and they don’t like change. This type of stressful activity can cause a cat to have inappropriate elimination issues. It is a good idea if you have a lot of people over to place your cats in a quiet room with a radio playing softly. Make sure to put their litter boxes, food, water bowls and toys in their room so they feel safe and secure. It will also help avoid them escaping with people coming and going. It is always a good idea to minimize the stress in the household as much as possible especially during the busy holiday season.

Wishing you and your cats a safe and happy holiday and please remember to give your cats a hug.

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Territorial Marking

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Territorial marking is natural behavior for cats, a form of communication not unlike the big cat in the wild that marks his territory to communicate to other cats that – this area is mine. However, in an inside environment we don’t want cats marking with urine.

Territorial marking or marking with urine is a different behavior than sitting to urinate. With territorial marking you will see small amounts of urine on walls, furniture, against the base boards and even on the owner’s clothes or bedding. After the cat has marked it will simply walk away and not sniff and paw at the area as is the case with sitting to urinate.

Often times cats will mark with urine if they are under stress from other cats in the household or even seeing other cats outside that may be invading what the cat perceives as their territory. If this is the case, it is important to try to keep stray cats away from your house. For the cats inside it is a good idea to zone the litter boxes and food bowls so each cat has their own space in theory. Giving cats their own zone will help with any territory issues that may arise between cats in the household. Also making sure that your cats have several elevated perches to hide from the other cats if the need arises. Feliway, which is a synthetic feline pheromone, can also be added to mix to create “friendly zones” to help diminish your cat’s need to spray urine.

Research has indicated that many cats will not stop urine marking unless they are placed on anti anxiety drugs. In any situation if your cat is urinating outside the box it is a good idea to have your veterinarian do an exam to rule out any medical issues. Your veterinarian will also be able to discuss and suggest an anti anxiety drug that will be suitable for your cat. Remember they will need to be on the drug at least 30 days and then depending upon results 120 days to life.

Happy New Year and until next time please remember to hug your cat.

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