Felix the cat balloon: Macy’s Thanksgiving parade

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Felix the cat balloon!

The annual 2016 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City celebrates it’s 90th anniversary. This year brings back the Felix the cat balloon, which was the first giant balloon to be part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 1927.

flex the cat Macy's Thanksgiving parade 1927

Felix the cat 1927

Felix the cat

The first-ever Macy’s Day Parade actually took place on Christmas of 1924. Macy’s employees dressed as clowns, cowboys, and other fun costumes, and traveled with Central Park zoo animals and creative floats a lengthy six miles from Herald Square to Harlem in Manhattan.
The parade was meant to draw attention to the Macy’s store in NYC, and the gimmick worked – more than 250,000 people attended the inaugural Macy’s Day Parade.It was decided that this NYC parade would become an annual NY event in Manhattan.

Macy's Thanksgiving parade, 1927

Felix the cat balloon, Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade, 1927

In 1927, Felix the Cat became the first giant balloon to ever take part in the Macy’s Day Parade. In 1928, Felix was inflated with helium, and without a plan to deflate this massive balloon, NYC parade organizers simply let Felix fly off into the sky. Unfortunately, he popped soon thereafter.

from nyctourist.com

Felix the cat balloon replica of the original 1927 balloon, made for this year’s 2016 parade

Felix the cat balloon 2016

photo by shari smith dunaif ©2016

Felix the cat balloon face 2016

photo by shari smith dunaif ©2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving to all

Indonesian short tail cat

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short tail cat

I had never seen a cat with a tail like this before, until going to Indonesia. That’s where I saw this black Indonesian short tail cat.

Indonesia curly tail cat

Indonesian short tail cat
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2015

Bali temple cat

Cat in Bali temple photo by shari smith dunaif © 2015

Seems like most cats I’ve seen in Indonesia
were typically mottled

 

 

 

 

 

But this cat was all black, and her tail is short, stubby and the tip is curled.
img_0320

Such a pretty, sweet cat.

img_0323 She looked quite healthy, which is not always the case with cats living in Indonesia. img_0307 She was very friendly and affectionate; and like many cats, she loved to be petted behind her ears.

Indonesia black cat

sweet Indonesia cat
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

why is my cat sneezing?

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is your cat sneezing?

Marnie was, a lot. Although it was kind of cute, I thought – why is my cat sneezing? She’d sneeze four or five consecutive times, every few hours. She could have allergies, but this was sudden. Maybe she’s sick, maybe she has a cold. I did some research and most sites said cats can get colds, and like humans, colds will go away on their own. There’s not much you can do to make your cat feel better and get better faster. But then, she had clear discharge from her eye, although I only saw it twice. I wiped her eye with a cotton ball dampened with warm water to clean the discharge. However, we were going out of town, and that’s why, as a precaution, we decided to bring Marnie to the vet to make sure it was only a cold and nothing worse. By then, we discovered she was doing turkey body, something cats may do if they aren’t feeling well. Turkey body is when their tail and all their paws are tucked under them, as if conserving warmth and possibly energy.

turkey body in sick cat

Marnie turkey body
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Our vet, Dr. Katz, from The Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton said that actually Marnie had a respiratory infection and required antibiotics. This is what she prescribed for Marnie:

antibiotic liquid box for cats

antibiotic liquid 
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

antibiotic liquid for cats in fridge

antibiotic in fridge
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

antibiotic drops must be kept in the refrigerator.

 

 

 

She got 1 ml by mouth, twice a day.

liquid antibiotic for cats

antibiotic dose liquid form
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

The easiest way to administer the liquid is from the side of her mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colds in cats are highly infectious – so Toby got it within days.

cat not feeling well

Toby not feeling well
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

cat has cold

Toby has a cold
photo by Monika Klein © 2016

The first symptom Toby displayed was sneezing; then he too had a clear discharge from his eye.

According to Monika (our trusty cat sitter) and Bridget (our cat medical caregiver) he wasn’t eating or drinking water, plus his eye became very irritated from him scratching it, so they wisely decided to bring him to Dr. Katz. Good thing, because turns out Toby also required medication for his eye, appetite and respiratory infection.

Thanks to our caring cat sitter Monika, and Bridget (she took care of our sweet Bear) who works at our vet’s, and Dr. Katz, from The Veterinary Clinic of East Hampton.

eco kitty litter bags

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 eco kitty litter bags

I do try to be ecological about things, so how do I use eco kitty litter bags? I clean my cats kitty litter at least once a day, sometimes twice, so I need lots of bags for used kitty litter.

OK, I love guacamole and chips. Especially the chips part. So, we always have a stash of tortilla chips at my house.

tortilla chip bags

tortilla chip bags
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Which means that there’s also plenty of empty tortilla chip bags to throw out. But why not recycle them? A great use is as eco kitty litter bags.

eco kitty litter bags

eco kitty litter bags
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Tortilla chip bags are quite strong – definitely strong enough to hold kitty litter clumps.

for more suggestions on going green kitty litter bags

cat and dog in same house

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can a dog and cat in same house

coexist? Maybe even happily? Not always.
What about these guys?

Meet Sushi the cat

grey cat Sushi

Sushi
Photo by Marisa

                 and Jezebel, a 100% pug.

pug dog Jezebel

Jezebel
photo by Marisa

Sushi lives in the same house as Jezebel.

 

cat wants to come in room

can I come in?
photo by Marisa

 

 

 

 

Sushi wants to know if Jez minds if she comes in

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

dog wonders let cat in?

Jez and Sushi
photo by Marisa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jezebel ponders.

 

cat and dog same house

Jez and Sushi hang out photo by Marisa

 

Jez and Sushi chilling’ together.

Marisa says Jezebel is the sweetest, but she’s her mom, so of course she thinks that, but Marisa also says Sushi is very sweet too.

cat and pug together

Meet Sushi and Jezebel
photo by Marisa

 

 

 

 

 

So yes, cats and dogs can coexist, happily.

cat sitting up

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Cat sitting up

First of all, this is a cat sitting up.

Second, this cat has a fabulous and unusual name: Pokeweed.

So Pokeweed the cat likes and does sit up. What a suave guy.
Keep watching – a cat mate proves that Pokeweed really is a cat sitting up – he’s not leaning on anything (like a sofa).

Keep on chillin’ Pokeweed.

how to get rid of fleas

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My cat has fleas!

ughh, what should I do? Please tell me how to get rid of fleas.

Having cats in your house makes flea infestation possible: on your cat, and then in your home. And Fleas are annoying for both cat and human. A few fleas can quickly multiply very quickly – one female flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day, which can fall off your cat inside your home. The eggs develop into larvae, which then form cocoons.
The flea hatches when it senses heat, vibrations or exhaled carbon dioxide, signaling that an animal is nearby. Then they jump onto the host and the cycle continues.
Flea infestation is not inevitable, but here’s some suggestion to help avoid having them jump on your cat and be transported into your house.

flea

Ctenocephalides felis, cat flea

Chemical flea treatments like collars, powders and other products can be dangerous, because they may contain toxic pesticides, which is not good for your cat and especially kids and pregnant women who have contact with treated cats. Applying too much topical flea product to your cat, or mixing up a dog flea preventive can be deadly if used on your cat. Even when applied properly, serious side effects can occur: skin irritation, neurological problems, gastrointestinal disorders and organ failure.

But there are other alternatives, natural ones.
A safe option is apple cider vinegar: most households already have it, and it’s cheaper and non-toxic.

Apple cider vinegar

organic apple cider vinegar
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Apple cider vinegar doesn’t kill fleas, but it may repel them because fleas dislike the smell and taste.

One of the simplest ways to use it is to make your own solution

  • equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Add the mixture to a spray bottle and spritz it on your pet before he heads outdoors
  • spray cat’s bedding.
  • Create a stronger anti-flea solution by adding aromatic oils that are safe for cats. Try:
    Geranium, lemongrass, lavender, neem and catnip oil
  • If you bathe your cat, use that opportunity to add diluted apple cider vinegar to pour over your cat (roughly 1 cup of vinegar to 1 gallon of water).

Fleas also dislike citrus, so you can use that instead of vinegar.

  • Sprinkle fresh-squeezed lemon, orange or grapefruit juice on your cat’s fur, being very careful to avoid her eyes (be aware, that lemon juice can lighten dark fur).
  • After bathing your cat, add 1 cup of lemon juice to 1 gallon of rinse water and pour over your clean kitty, carefully avoid head, massage into coat and towel dry.

Fleas are attracted to unhealthy cas, so keep your guy healthy – it will make him less of a target. Feed your cat a balanced, protein rich, cat appropriate diet. By the way,  tap water has fluoride and chlorine, chemicals that can have a negative affect your cat’s immune health. Some medications and vaccinations can compromise your cat’s immune system – talk to your vet.

For outdoor cats, be careful with environmental chemicals (like pesticides and lawn chemicals) because these can be detrimental to your cat. Tall grass, weeds and wood stacked against your house are inviting to both fleas and  frolicking cats.

cat comb

cat comb
photo by shari smith dunaif © 2015

Brushing your cat is a good way to check for fleas. If you do find them on your cat, don’t freak out, instead do the following:

  1. Put your cat on a light-colored towel, take a comb and dip it into soapy water and run it thru your cat’s fur
  2. repeat until the fleas stop dropping onto the towel (oh, so that’s why the towel should be light colored: – so you can see them!)
  3. it’s also a good time to add apple cider vinegar to the soapy water solution you’re dipping the comb in.

You may need to do this for several days.
In your house, frequent vacuuming of floors and furniture; plus washing your cat’s bedding, frequently, and your own sheets, linens, throw rugs and blankets will help make your home uninviting to fleas.

Fleas can transmit tapeworms, cause cat scratch disease and may even cause severe cases of anemia, especially in young animals.

white nose ARF cat

“Thank god I don’t have fleas!” photo by shari smith dunaif © 2016

Keeping your home and cats free of fleas makes everyone in your family much happier.

 

cat comforts veterans

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Tom the cat comforts veterans

This is a bittersweet story.
Meet Tom. He lives at the VA Hospital in Salem, Virginia.  His job is to comfort patients, often visiting terminally ill veterans. Apparently, he’s very good at it.

Tom the cat at vet hospital

PHOTO BY MARIAN MCCONNELL, SALEM VA

story originally by Tom Cramer, VA Staff Writer, November, 2014

     Laura Hart, a physician assistant who works on the hospice unit at the Salem VA Medical Center, said “Tom has known what to do since the first day he was here. I think there’s a little person inside him.”
Hart said family members visiting a dying Veteran do a lot of watching and waiting, so it can be a welcome diversion when a cat wanders in to visit or simply take a snooze.  “Having a cat in the room will take your mind off what’s going on. He’ll do something silly – he’ll jump in the air or something and everyone will laugh. It breaks the tension.” She has also noticed that “When the family leaves for the day and the cat’s still on the Veteran’s bed, it gives them some comfort,” Hart explained. “They don’t feel so bad about leaving. They’re sort of like, ‘OK, Tom’s here. It’s OK if I leave now.’ It makes them feel better.”

Edwin Gehlert and VA cat

Tom with Edwin Gehlert.

Surrounded by his family, World War II Veteran Edwin Gehlert lay quietly dying in a VA hospice unit in Salem, Virginia.
He took a few final, shallow breaths.
At that moment, Tom jumped onto his bed, curled up beside him and placed a furry orange paw in the Army Veteran’s open hand.
“That cat took him right to heaven,” said Elizabeth Gehlert, the Veteran’s wife of 68 years. “It was a beautiful passing and that cat is the one who made it happen.”
Vet’s daughter, Pamela Thompson, described the orange tabby as her lifeline “I kept telling daddy to let go, to go towards the light,” she said. “When Tom put his paw in daddy’s hand, it was like God was telling me he had ahold of my dad and that everything was OK. That’s how I felt. I felt a peace come over me.”

cat comforts dying veteran

Tom comforts dying veteran

“He seems to know who he needs to spend time with.” said Ms.Hart. “Tom will sometimes spend hours with a dying Veteran, but then disappears for a time after the Veteran has finally passed. Afterwards he kind of goes into hibernation for hours,” she said. “He finds some corner and goes to sleep. I guess he’s just recharging.”
Not everyone on the hospice unit is a cat lover, however.
“We’ve had a few patients who’ve said, ‘I don’t want that cat in my room,’” Hart observed. “When that happens, we put a sign outside their door that says,

No Cat Zone.’

But of course, that’s the room Tom wants to go into all the time. He’s like, ‘I need to be in there. I’ll change their mind.’”cat at VA hospital
There’s no doubt Tom regards the entire hospice unit as his personal domain.
“He’s interested in everything that goes on here,” Hart said. “He even comes to our team meetings, which we have twice a week. Sometimes the door to the meeting room will be shut, and we’ll hear Tom scratching at the door. He’ll scratch until we let him in.”
Dorothy Rizzo, palliative care coordinator on the hospice unit, described Tom as a much-needed normalizing factor in an otherwise somber environment. “There’s something about the presence of an animal that has a calming effect,” she said. “Watching the cat or petting him takes you out of the sad moment you’re in. Animals, like babies, are life-affirming in a way. “It’s not that Tom’s an especially cuddly cat,” she added. “He’s not into cuddling, but he’ll curl up right beside you.”

Vet and cat napping

Salem VA Medical Center
Tom and vet napping

Tom holds no grudges against staff or family members who are simply not ‘cat’ people. He’ll never fail to use his special talents to assist you in your time of need, even if you don’t like him all that much.
“We had a Veteran here whose daughter did not like cats,” Rizzo said, “so when Tom came into the room she’d ignore him or shoo him away. One night she was here with her dad and stepped out of his room for a few minutes to take a break. Tom went out there after her, wrapped himself around her legs and meowed at her. That made her think she should maybe go back to her dad’s room and check on him, which she did just in time. Her father died moments later.”

Air Force Veteran Skip Wyman, who has been on the hospice unit for several weeks, eagerly looks forward to his daily visit from Tom.
“He was in my room yesterday for about two hours,” he beamed. “Then he walked out. I don’t know where he went. I haven’t seen him this morning yet. He’s around here somewhere.”

Dying vet with cat

Tom and his friend, Air Force Veteran Erwin ‘Skip’ Wyman, share a quiet moment together. PHOTO BY LAURA HART, SALEM VA

Wyman said Tom reminds him of a feline buddy he once hung around with.
“I call him Knothead because he reminds me of a cat I had when I was a younger man,” said the 79-year-old. “He’s the perfect picture of Knothead. They look just alike. And Knothead would sleep on my bed with me, just like Tom.”
One evening, after spending some time sleeping on Wyman’s bed, Tom abruptly jumped to the floor and headed for the door – he clearly had business to attend to elsewhere on the unit.
Wyman called after him. “I said, ‘Tom, are you going to bed?’ And he just kept walking out the door. So then I said, ‘Knothead, are you going to bed?’ And darned if that cat didn’t stop and just look at me.”
“He hasn’t been here to see me today yet,” he added. “I’m going to get the nurse to go look for him.”
Betty Gillespie, a psychologist who works on the hospice unit, said family members seem to need Tom more than the Veterans who are dying. “A lot of these Veterans are very stoic,” she observed. “These are men who fought in WW II, Korea and Vietnam. But the families often feel helpless,” she continued. “You’re watching your loved one die and you know you can’t save them. Sometimes you can’t even talk to them, or wake them up. All you can do is watch and wait. But Tom provides you with some comfort; he’s something for you to focus on. Because when a tabby cat casually walks into the room, it sends a message that everything is OK, everything is as it should be. Tom’s like a good piece of music,” she added. “He instantly connects with everyone in the room.”

keep up the good work, Tom.

Can cats get diabetes?

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Humans get diabetes, can cats?

The exact cause of feline diabetes isn’t known,  but when it comes to diabetes, cats aren’t that different from people. So, can cats get diabetes?
The disease affects insulin — a hormone that helps the body move sugar (glucose) from the bloodstream into the cells. Feline diabetes tends to closely resemble type 2 diabetes that humans get: the body makes insulin but becomes less sensitive to the hormone. Sugar builds up in the bloodstream, leading to symptoms like increased urination and thirst. According to Richard W. Nelson, DVM, DACVIM, professor of internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine, cats aren’t designed to break down carbohydrates, like people are. That’s significant because cats in the wild are designed to hunt and eat meat, not carbs. However, domestic cats are fed less protein and more carbohydrates.

Three Major Causes of Diabetes in Cats

fact cat sits

  • usually affects overweight cats, because obesity makes the cat’s body less sensitive to the effects of insulin.
  • Diabetes is also more common in older cats.
  • Diseases like chronic pancreatitis and hyperthyroidism may make cats prone to developing diabetes
  • medications like corticosteroids may also make cats prone to develop diabetes.

The majority of cats in the U.S. are fed a caloric, high carbohydrate diet. Dry food is especially inappropriate nutrition for cats because it’s so high in carbs and deficient in high-quality protein. Cats don’t need grains like corn, wheat, rice, soy, millet or quinoa, (although there is dispute about the health benefits of grains). Meanwhile, turns out that grain-free dry foods also contribute to the obesity and diabetes epidemics in cats. Grain-free diets are not only high in calories but also contain high glycemic foods like potatoes, chickpeas, peas, or tapioca, which require a substantial insulin release from the body.

    Instead, try giving your cat portion controlled, moisture-rich, balanced, and species-appropriate diet consisting of high quality protein sources and healthy fats, and specific nutritional supplements as necessary: taurine, for example.
Cats need excercise

cats need excercise
photo by shari smith dunaif  © 2016

Cats, especially those who have an indoor lifestyle, often lead sedentary lives. If your cat lies around the house all day, his heart rate isn’t being elevated for the 20 minutes per day he needs to achieve good cardiovascular conditioning. Often cats exert anaerobic — short bursts of energy followed by long periods of rest. Anaerobic exercise won’t condition your cat’s heart or muscles, and doesn’t burn the calories he consumes.

A minimum of 20 minutes of daily aerobic exercise for your cat is highly recommended. Be creative with your cats: play with pingpong balls, feather wands or my guys love it when I hide little toy mice in our shoes or toss them. Play with your cats and you both can have fun.

Research connects autoimmune disorders to Type II diabetes in dogs, although currently there are few if any similar studies in cats, It’s reasonable to assume the same is true for cats. If your Cat has had any vaccines in the past, it’s very likely her immunity to those diseases will last a lifetime. Each time a fully immunized pet receives repetitive vaccines, it increases the risk of overstimulating the immune system. To find out If your cat has antibodies, find a veterinarian who does titer tests to measure antibody response from previous vaccinations. Titer results will tell you whether vaccination is necessary, and for which specific diseases.

Early diagnosis is always best, but often difficult with cats. If it’s diagnosed early and everyone in the cat’s life is committed to bringing the disease under control, it’s possible to normalize blood glucose levels and put the diabetes into remission — which means your kitty will no longer need to be on insulin or other medications. However, if your cat as been diabetic for a while, they may require insulin in addition to diet and lifestyle adjustments. What can happened to cats who have been diabetic for a long time is that the cells in the pancreas may be worn out and become unable to secrete insulin. In this case, your cat may require lifelong insulin therapy. If it’s left untreated, eventually diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications.

photo by shari smith dunaif 2014

photo by shari smith dunaif 2014

Frequent vet visits, and the cost of checkups, tests, medical procedures and insulin therapy add up fast. Pet insurance provider Trupanion reports that treatment for diabetes, including regular blood work and long-term medication, can cost in excess of $10,000 over the life of the cat.

    Dr. Tara Koble veterinary at The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital, in Boise, Idaho, says “The two best things any cat parent can help do to protect their cat from diabetes, would be to feed the highest quality canned, low-carb or raw diet that is possible. The second critical thing is to get your cat moving.”

With exercise, good nutrition, a healthy weight, and periodic visits to your vet, most cats, and people, can avoid diabetes. Oh, except the cat goes to the vet and the cat parent should go to a doctor. Meow.

pets.webmd.com

Cat TV song

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Joff Wilson performs Cat TV song

Cats do like TV, however, they’re very selective. Recently in New York City, Joff Wilson was giving Steve a guitar lesson, and somehow cat TV came up. Steve explained what cat TV is according to observations by My Kitty Care, then Joff spontaneously burst into “Cat TV” Steve joined in strumming – and that’s how Joff Wilson’s cat tv song happened.
so here’s the cat tv song, a catchy kitty tune inspired by cat tv and improvised by Joff.

“Cat TV” played by Joff and Steve: “Cat TV” on My Kitty Care youtube channel.

 

cat watching cat TV - cat tv song

cat watching Cat TV                                                                                                                                     photo by shari smith dunaif ©2016