We were able to trim Garrus’ nails ourselves today with a towel over his face, a stress reducer to calm him, and patience! (He normally gets his nails trimmed at the vet’s office.) The stress reducer also made him more chilled out and affectionate (!) so he forgave us quickly and repeatedly asked for visits from both of us. He even started talking outside my office door when I was trying to do schoolwork, at which point I took a break and he came in for a desk visit. We were able to pick him up and have lap time with him – and he even purred in my lap! Such huge progress for our Gentleman Cat!
Earlier this week Garrus had his follow-up to check his response to his steroid therapy. Dr. R was very pleased to report that his stomatitis had significantly decreased and only a very small amount of inflammation remained in the back right side of his mouth. Dr R wants to keep him on a low dose of steroids every other day for the next few weeks to continue treating his stomatitis.
“Excuse me. Could you please let me out?” Garrus was exceptionally well-behaved in the carrier to and from the vet.
He gained 0.6 lbs in three weeks and needs to gain 0.5-1 lb to be at a healthy weight. We’ve been able to give him, on average, at least one can of wet food a day. If he’s a particularly hungry Garrus, he will eat up to two cans in a day. Like Boudicca, he’s a little persnickety about how his food is presented (because it’s easier to eat): he likes it well chopped, fluffed, and room temperature. We indulge him because we want him to eat, be healthy, and be a happy cat.
For the last month we also gave a dose of Zylkene in his food. We had suspected that he had developed food anxiety as a result of being bullied for food by his previous housemates, and dealing with dental pain from stomatitis exacerbated this. We noticed that the boys acted a bit uneasy after Boudicca passed away, and Dr R explained that this was due to the social hierarchical dynamic shifting. By nature, Garrus tends to be a submissive cat; Charlie, while not a dominant (“bossy”) cat per se, is the most intense cat in the household now. Dr R suggested that we try Zylkene for a month or so to help both cats settle and relax. In our experience, it helped. Garrus in particular became more affectionate and faffed about less at meal times.
Garrus enjoys claiming Aaron’s pants as a bed and gives me side-eye when I take a photo.
Wherever Garrus is, Charlie often follows, sometimes bringing a toy with him. Here he claimed a towel as his lounging spot and slow-blinked at me, purring.
Did you know that animals, such as dogs and cats, can experience asthma and allergies just like humans do? For that reason, the National Asthma and Allergy Foundation designated May, a peak time for allergy symptoms, as National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. While this campaign is directed at humans, conscientious pet owners should be able to recognize the way their pets may present symptoms of asthma and allergies.
Common Asthma Triggers in Pets
- Pollens (grass, trees)
- Air pollution, such as vehicle exhaust
- Smoke (fireplaces, tobacco products)
- Household sprays and chemical solutions, such as hair spray, flea spray, air fresheners, household fragrances, and personal perfumes
- Cat litter dust
Common Asthma Symptoms
- Coughing and sneezing
- Breathing difficulties (i.e. wheezing, labored breath, shallow breath)
- Poor appetite
- Weakness or fatigue
- Weight loss
- Pale or blue gums* [If you spot this, go to your vet immediately.)
When we took in Garrus and Charlie, we noticed that Garrus occasionally wheezed. We had not seen this behavior in previous cats, so we brought it up with our vet. Dr R thought he might have a mild case of asthma and suggested we make a log of how often he wheezed and if we noticed other symptoms. If his wheezing episodes became more frequent or more severe, we would investigate the issue further.
At the same time, we transitioned the boys from using regular litter boxes, which they used while in foster care, to Cat Genies after they fully integrated into the household. One of the things we like most about Cat Genies is there is no dust from cat litter! Aaron discovered that safflower seeds are excellent, environmentally-friendly substitutes for the plastic granules that a Cat Genie uses. We have since noticed that Garrus wheezes infrequently now, and Dr R was most pleased by this report. Dr R remarked that she had another feline patient that displayed asthma symptoms but these decreased after her owner switched to a litter that produced much less dust. She thought the same thing had happened with Garrus.
Common Allergies in Pets
- Contact: Medication or detergent found in flea collar (example)
- Flea Allergy Dermatitis: Allergic to flea saliva
- Food Allergies: Some pets don’t tolerate certain ingredients well such as beef, chicken, soy, and wheat.
- Inhalant: Indoor or outdoor environmental factors (smoke, pollen, etc.)
Common Allergy Signs in Pets
- Excessive grooming
- Excessive itching
- Paw chewing
- Skin inflammation
- Ear infection
If you want to learn more about pet allergies and asthma, check out Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic, Pet MD for Canine Asthma, Pet MD Dog Allergy Center, Pet MD for Feline Asthma, 7 Common Cat Allergies (Pet MD), Pet Partners,and Canna Pet. If you think your pet may have asthma, allergies, bronchitis, respiratory issues, or other health concerns, please contact your veterinarian!
Like many months throughout the year, May is a bonanza of pet-related awareness campaigns. Among others, May is Chip Your Pet Month!
Having current information on your pet’s ID tag is vitally important should ever your pet get loose or lost. However, collars can easily slip off, especially if your pet is clever enough to take it off by themselves. With a microchip implanted beneath your pet’s skin, you don’t have to worry about that occurring. If your lost pet is found and taken to a veterinary clinic or animal shelter, the microchip can be scanned, revealing a registration and contact number. Through this registry the pet owner will be contacted and be able to recover their pet.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
Check out Positively Woof for a video, Merck Animal Health, and One Fur All to learn more information about the benefits of microchipping, where to get them, and frequently asked questions.
When we adopted Garrus and Charlie, the shelter provided and implanted microchips along with their shots. The cost of these procedures is covered by the adoption fee. In our case, the adoption fee was waived because we fostered them during the Clear the Shelter event, wherein adoptable pets were free! The shelter had the microchips already registered; we simply provided our contact information and updated the cats’ names when we changed them from Aristotle and Tink to Garrus and Charlie. It was a super easy and worthwhile process. While my cats are strictly indoors, if they ever were to get out, I’d have peace of mind knowing that they had more than one method of identification and would be returned to us via that information.
The animal welfare organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) established May as Responsible Animal Guardian Month. The campaign’s goal is to encourage people to treat animals with respect and fulfill their obligation to care for those they have taken in as pets. For this reason, IDA uses the term “guardian” instead of “owner”.
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Broadly speaking, responsible pet guardians are concerned with the physical, emotional, and cognitive health of their pet(s). By being solicitous about their pet’s overall well-being, said guardians are more likely to develop strong bonds with their pets. Here are ways you can be a responsible pet guardian and give the best possible pet care:
- Daily care. This involves providing shelter, healthy and nutritious food, appropriate regular exercise, grooming, behavior training, and at least annual vet visits for vaccines and wellness exams.
- Ethics. Adopting only through responsible shelters, rescues, or breeders. Always treat pets with love, compassion, and respect. Report suspected abuse or neglect.
- Safety. Microchip and ensure that your pet has current ID tags. Pet-proof your home. Take measures to prevent your pet from getting loose and lost. Teach others how to interact with pets safely, appropriately, and respectfully.
- Well-Being. Teach your pet house manners. Apply rules consistently and invest in proper behavior training. Opportunities to socialize your pet with other people and pets. Provide regular play and bonding time. Establish and provide mutual trust, respect, and abundant love between you and your pet.
Photo courtesy of Pexels
Want to learn more about being a responsible pet guardianship? The American Veterinary Medical Association provides a useful list and set of guidelines detailing the multi-faceted responsibilities of a pet guardian. In my personal opinion, being a responsible pet guardian is an important aspect of good citizenship and community involvement. Humans and animals alike benefit from the acts of responsible animal guardians. It’s a way you can use your powers for good.