Archive for the ‘Cat Care’ Category

Reiki for Cats?

November 7th, 2012

Have you ever heard of Reiki before?  Reiki creates healing energy connection between living things.  Although one of my dear friends practices Reiki, I wasn’t interested in learning more about it until my cat, Tora got a treatment from a Reiki practitioner in California.  It really helped heal and lift Tora’s spirit when he was depressed with the sudden departure of his companion sister, Mimi.  Tora started eating better and ran around more right after the Reiki session.  Naturally, I wanted to learn more about Reiki after seeing the result of it, so I drove down to San Antonio to take Reiki Level 1 class in September.

Latest Mikan

Since then, I have been practicing Reiki often with Mikan when she suffered from her bout of high fevers and terrible skin conditions.  I sat near Mikan and meditated with deep breathing.  In the beginning, it was hard to meditate for even 10 minutes, but I think I am getting used to creating, and being in, a calm place longer and longer.  It is so amazing to see Mikan purring loudly on my lap when she was ill.  On the other hand, when she has tons of energy running around, she would come lick my finger and then just keeps on running around.

I also tried practicing Reiki to the cats at my friend’s place.  Mr. J has four cats. The three cats, Marcus, Lenny, and Kiki live in one wing of the house, while the fourth cat, Mimi, lives in the other wing of the house.  Mimi is the youngest cat and was a feral cat raised by squirrels in the neighborhood, according to Mr. J.  She is a very shy kitty.  When I go cat sitting to their house, I rarely see Mimi.  She is so scared and hides from any strangers (including myself, of course).  Mimi loves Mr. J. as her Dad, and enjoys his company and affections, but she is so skittish with others.  Even Mr. J.’s wife took a long time to be able to pet Mimi.

Kiki, the Princess. Loves to be brushed!

 

I thought Reiki might be able to help Mimi, if she wants to heal whatever part that needs healing on her own accord.  It is always the animal’s choice whether they would take the healing energy or not.  We cannot push them to get it.  Reiki doesn’t work that way.  All I can do is to create the calm flow of healing energy by concentrating on my energy flow.  If the cat wants to heal herself, she might come out of wherever she is hiding to be closer to the energy source, she might start to purr where she was at, or come on to your lap, for example.

Marcus: "I can meditate on our screened-in back deck any time!"

I was creating Reiki flow through meditation for about 30 minutes in Mimi’s wing of the house without knowing where she was.  She didn’t come out to see me.  I was disappointed with a lack of “result”, but I am sure she sensed something was very different energetically in the space.  Interestingly, when I opened my eyes at about 15 minutes into the Reiki session, I saw Marcus sitting right next to the baby gate which separates the two wings of the house, looking at my direction curiously.  He was there for a while.  After 30 minutes passed, I lifted my eyes again, now I saw Kiki in the same spot where Marcus was at 15 minutes ago.  I heard her subtle purring from the distance.

I don’t know these incidents were just a coincidence or the proof that they felt healing energy.  I really wish cats could talk to us in English.  Wait a minute, the whole purpose of me learning Reiki is to make healing connection with animals energetically.  In a way, I am learning a new language that is not the “language” in a literal sense.

Cats always help me learn about myself, expand my horizon, and let me learn to trust myself to be an intelligent existence on earth just like… they are!

Focusing on Quality of Life for Cats

October 22nd, 2012

First of all, thank you so much for many friends who sent me warm support and encouragement via email and on the blog.  Mikan has been appreciating them also, and in return, she has great news to share this time!

"Do you want to join me for fun?"

Mikan is doing wonderfully well.  Since I wrote my last blog, Mikan hasn’t had a high fever at all!  She is “fever-free” for two weeks – this is a world record for her!  Mikan’s energy is much more robust and lively, and her motor skills and muscle coordination are getting coherent like a REAL cat every day.  Yaaaay!

You might wonder what we did differently in these two weeks.  We decided to focus on her wellness and quality of life rather than “treating” whatever happening on her skin (there is still no diagnosis from the vet).  I decided not to use the vet-suggested OTC skin cream (Lotrimin) for ringworm nor the enzymatic shampoo for the skin itchiness.  Instead, we let Mikan out in our cat-fenced backyard to run around for one hour every afternoon.  She LOVES that time.

At first, she was overwhelmed by the different noises of the wind, the leaves, the cars, etc., but she got used to these familiar outside sounds very fast.  I learned that UV light kills ringworm fungi, so this was perfect thing to do!  I could tell that she is taking in everything that the nature offers to heal and boost her immune system.  She is engaging every movement with 100% focus outside.  What a joy to be with her to experience that feeling together!  Although Mikan has sufficient space inside her master bathroom/closet suite, nothing is better than running around on green grass, freely under the warm sunshine.

By the way, we had a new window installed in Mikan’s suite the other day, so that she can have fresh air and natural sounds from outside.  I didn’t like the previous widow which didn’t open, so I am very happy with the new one.  It is little a silly that sometimes the house project on a list gets done quickly because of the cats, not because of our needs.

"I like to be in your lap, too."

The other two things I am doing twice daily are Colloidal Silver topical application for ringworm and also homeopathy.  Somehow, Mikan likes the homeopathy – when I show her a dropper, she would come and starts licking the tip of it!  She may know exactly what she needs.  We will re-start herbal remedy this week.  As I’m observing Mikan’s growth week by week, she is certainly gaining weight and clearly getting longer (should I say, “taller”).  I’d better go and take more pictures of her now, so that I won’t miss out capturing amazing Kodak moments.

"I AM a tiger, grrrr!!"

My Journey with Mikan

October 10th, 2012

It has been six weeks since Mikan joined our family.  I am reflecting on how each cat requires different attention for their health.  Mikan brought us a challenge in a good way.  Her weak health status helps me appreciate how healthy Tora and Mimi were when growing up!  I thought that healthy kittenhood was “normal”.  Raising Mikan for six weeks, after five high fever incidents, ringworm, earmites, staph infection, and severe side effects from medicines, I’ve learned that healthy kittenhood should not be taken for granted.

"Here I am at the vet office, again. The doctor is very gentle and nice to me."

According to the two vets I consulted with recently, it is not clear as to why Mikan keeps having fevers over and over.  Neither of them recommends antibiotics nor steroids for Mikan.  She is currently too weak for any kinds of medications.   Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa (Oops, this is Mikan’s first typing!)  I am in our master bathroom with my laptop here to be with Mikan.  She will be cooped up here until her ringworm is cleared, which is almost gone.

I have been using Colloidal Silver 500 ppm topically on her ringworm spots (it is both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial).  In my opinion, it has been working very well.  It is safe even if she licks it off from her fur.  I also used a mixture of herbs as a topical application.  I used a recipe from here.  I made a mixture of turmeric powder, neem leaf powder, coconut oil, and colloidal silver.  I applied the mixture to the ringworm spots a couple of times a day.  This worked very well with Tora.  Although he had only a few time exposures to ringworm from Mikan (15min. each time, perhaps) back in August, he got one from her.  I didn’t know Mikan had ringworm back then.

Currently, we are dealing with Mikan’s staph infection that came with the episodes of high fever.  Her soul is beautiful as always, but her face is not so pretty right now.  Mikan didn’t let me take her picture up front, but here is the one she reluctantly let me take for the blog.

"I'll be better looking soon!"

Mikan seems to enjoy the car ride to the vet.  She is always calm and relaxed in the car.  I saw her sleeping on the way back from Round Rock last week!  That is cool.  🙂

On a positive note, from Mikan’s perspective, it is just another day.  Some days, she has lots of energy.  Other days, she wants to rest.  For her, every day is a great day, just some have more playtime than others.  I’m learning to trust the natural process that she’s going through.

My husband and I have been experiencing emotional up-and-downs depending on how Mikan has been doing every day.  Our adventure and learning continue…

Welcome to Our Family – Mikan!!

September 4th, 2012

 

Last Sunday, I woke up with a very strong urge to adopt a new kitty companion in our family.  I had to act on it that day!  Jeffrey and I were out of the house heading to Austin Animal Center by 11 a.m.!!

"Hello! I am Mikan"

After three hours of having fun with lots of cats, our heart was set on a tiny, scruffy, yet so adorable, orange tabby kitten.  Jeffrey and I both had an instant attraction to that kitten.  We named her “a little tangerine” in Japanese – Mikan (Mee-Khan).

She is about ten weeks old, underweight, and FIV+ (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), which means her natural immune system is compromised.  I thought of Tora as her companion – he is a laid-back cat with a strong need for grooming other cats (and humans sometimes)…  FIV spreads to other cats through deep bite wounds, and not through grooming or daily sharing of food/water.   We made a decision – we adopted Mikan!

Since she came to our house, Mikan stopped diarrhea, gained weight (she is 2.5 lb now), and she has been playing like a professional hunter!

We finally introduced two cats yesterday after five days separating the two (it required patience on our part because we were so excited for two to meet!!).  Tora knew something was going on in the guest bedroom, but he had never seen her.  Jeffrey opened the door casually, and invited Tora to come in to the Mikan’s room.  Well, the result was…SUCCESS!  Tora immediately approached and started licking his new sister, and the sister took it as if that was from her real cat Mom.

"Hey sister, you're little dirty. Let me clean you!"

Mikan was more eager to be close to Tora – she walked toward Tora more often than Tora did to Mikan.  At some point, Tora stepped back realizing what he was doing (grooming her), kept space from her.  No hissing or growling.  He was staring at Mikan from a distance as if he was trying to make sense out of this whole encounter.  “Who is she?”  “She doesn’t look like Mimi…”  “Can I trust her?”  It was surely interesting behavior to me.  We will be increasing time of their encounters more and more, day by day.

I am sure that Mimi is purring for our happiness from cat heaven…

 

 

"Wanna play?"

What Do You Do to Relax Your Cat?

May 24th, 2012

"Don't like!" Paws Down...

As a cat owner, we all know that cats are finicky creatures.  Even in their familiar environment, they might jump up in the air with all fours with a sudden noise, thunder, or even simply a new stuff on the floor!!

I got to say, “Calm down kitty…” just yesterday, when I bought a bunch of crinkly gift tissue papers for Mimi to play with.  She loves tissue paper – I thought she would have more fun with more crisp, better quality papers (in my opinion).  I laid the “super crinkly” new tissue paper on the carpet just in time when she came inside through the cat door.  She immediately stopped and detected a new paper five feet away from her, she lowered her tail down. (Fear degree #1).  Then, she slowly approached the paper (I’m proud of her!)  She sniffed it.  Nothing is happening.  Then, she put her right paw on it.  “CRINK!!”  Mimi FLIPPED OUT, jumping straight up in the air with all fours!!!  What a finicky cat…  Here I have another waste of toys that didn’t work.  Oh, wait, I can still use it for the gift wrapping for humans!   Whew.

I am still learning about how to effectively relax cats in general, but here are some techniques that I know work for many cats (it may not work for ALL cats).

1)    Relax YOURSELF – When you’re anxious, panicky, or anxious, your cat is totally “in-tune” with it.

2)    Communicate with a Cat – Talk gently to your cat about what’s going on, and that it is just a temporary situation (whatever it is happening).  Then, send your cat an image of calm and peace, ensuring that everything will be the same as usual soon.  According to my animal communication teacher, animals communicate with images!  Meow.

3)    Play Sessions – It might sound counter-intuitive, but cats are craving for “intelligent things” to do.  Playing that consists of chasing and hunting something moving is totally stimulating to them, and that’s what they are hard-wired in their biology.  Believe or not, the play relaxes them.  I have seen many shelter cats who were so nervous and fearful they were sitting in back of their cage box; they came out of the box to play within 10-15 min. of our volunteers’ patient encouragement.

4)    Flower Essences – Natural vibrational energy in the flower water soften and re-balance cat’s emotional state.  I will talk more in-depth about it in a future blog!

5)    Lavender Hydrosol Spray – This is a new addition to my practice.  I tested it with a handful of my clients.  Their cats like it.  Spray it on the cat’s bedding, inside of a cat carrier, and any areas that a cat needs calming effect (i.e., inside the car).  Do NOT use essential oils because they are toxic to cats.

6)    Giving Treats – It’s best given when a cat already calmed down.  Please remember to praise them verbally, too!

Every cat I encounter in the shelter, through cat sitting, and consultations teaches me a lot about how he/she wants to be treated.  I do my best to use my abilities to interpret their messages as correctly as possible.  Will I ever learn “purr-fect” techniques?  No cat has given me the answer yet.

Have You Heard about Cat Cafés?

April 29th, 2012

"Testing my catnip tea!"

A Cat Café is not for cats to have a wonderful afternoon tea time – it is a café for human cat lovers to enjoy a relaxing space with cats.  What a wild idea!  I had heard about a Cat Café in Japan a couple years ago.  I had no idea this cat café phenomena swept all over Japan in past two years…  Today, I looked it up and found that there are over 20 cat café in Tokyo alone, and there are 76 all across Japan.

It was an American TV station which got this “scoop” when I watched it for the first time.   Now you can watch the UK version of this – click HERE.

I researched a bit online about cat cafés in Japan (my Japanese language skills became handy, finally).  There are some varieties among cat cafés.  Some cat cafés work with non-profit animal rescue organizations exclusively and take in sick or abandoned cats just like many animal shelters do here in U.S.  (Like!)  Others work with breeders, and not with rescue cats (Not a big fan!).  All of the cat cafés I checked online arrange adoptions.  Some are wheelchair-accessible and encourage elderlies and handicapped people to visit, focusing on felines’ therapeutic aspect.

The one I was surprised to find was a cat café run by a veterinary hospital and Little Cats (non-profit animal protective advocacy group) together.  With the collaboration of the two, this particular cat café, called Hakobuneko, achieves the greatest from both worlds!  Veterinarians provide all the vaccinations, surgeries, and medications necessary for stray cats, whereas Little Cats offer quality adoptions due to their dedication for the animals.  Hakobuneko cat café encourages both foster and adoption programs.  They charge a customer for $8 for 30 min. (with soft drinks) spending with the cats, and $3 for every 30 min. thereafter.

Assuming that cats are well taken care of and not stressed by the experience, any way to improve cat and human relations seems like a good idea to me!

White Teeth: Give Me Smile Kitties!

April 19th, 2012

"Gosh, here it comes...."

It has been a year since I started brushing my cats’ teeth.  Yep, I do it every night.  Both cats don’t like it, but they learned to tolerate it in order to please me (I wish).  In fact, I bribe them.  They know that I give them three to five bits of crunchy-bad-for-you treats before the brushing.

As you might have already known, I feed them raw meat mix as their regular food twice a day.  According to my animal communicator, Tora missed the crunchies so much that all he talked to her about food was “give me crunchies” (the kibbles I fed for his first four years of his life).  I gave in a little after that conversation.  Oh well, I give myself a bag of potato chips as a treat, so why not to my beloved cats?  It is only fair to Tora.

I use a human-baby tooth brush for the cats’ teeth.  The bristles are softer than the toothbrush made for cats.  Instead of toothpaste, I use a few drops of much diluted colloidal silver which has antibacterial quality in it.  I used to add Peelu natural dental fibers (powder) to the colloidal silver, but it was too much to deal with for me and the cats.

"Mom! Gentle, please!!"

The great news is that Tora didn’t need to have any teeth extractions last year at all.  He had eight teeth already taken out in recent years, and I didn’t want him to go through it again if it can be avoided.  The vet told me that Tora seems to have genetically weak teeth and gums.  He had a regular teeth cleaning only at the vet, and Mimi didn’t even need the cleaning!  I saved a lot of money as a result of brushing.

I plan to celebrate this memorable, one year anniversary tonight…by taking one day off from the routine – NOT brushing their teeth, and not feeling guilty about it!!  I’m sure Tora and Mimi don’t mind giving me a night off from it, and they may even be smiling behind my back…

"Yikes, brother! I gotta run!!"

Finally, A Hairball Solution!

April 6th, 2012

Mimi: "I'm so pretty!"

As your cat might have shown you a tube of hairball right in front of you in the kitchen floor, hairball season is here.  Some cats have no problem with hairballs – they just eliminate hairballs with their poops, but other cats suffer from their fur “clogged” in their system.

My cat, Tora didn’t have hairball issues at all until Mimi joined our family.  This might sound ridiculous to some of you, but Tora takes his appearance seriously.  He likes to be pretty and clean.  He wants his sister to be the same.  That’s where the problem starts.  Tora loves grooming Mimi who has much (much) finer hair than his own.  Mimi’s hair doesn’t pass through his system, and actually, completely clogs his digestive system.  It became worse this year – the food doesn’t get through at all once the hairball has been collected in his digestive system.  He has to throw up all the food he just ate.

I have given him both petroleum-based hairball remover (yuk!), and non-petroleum-based Vet’s Best Hairball Relief (that Tora doesn’t want to eat).  It was time to research something better than the two.  I found an answer in one of the feline holistic forum groups that I belong to.  I have tried this with Tora, and after about four weeks now, he hasn’t coughed up single hairball yet!!  It works!  Do you want to know what I used?

Pumpkin, Lecithin, and Ghee

1)    Canned organic pureed pumpkin (NOT the pie fillings) – 1/4 teaspoon mixed in to cat’s wet food or raw food.  It is a good quality fiber.

2)    Lecithin capsule (Nature’s Plus 600mg caps – not soy based) – 1/3 of a capsule mixed in to cat’s wet food or raw food.  It helps “emulsify” a hairball for better digestion.

3)    Ghee (clarified butter) – 1/8 teaspoon to up to 1/4 teaspoon per day per cat.  I give ghee as is, putting on their crunchy treats, or mixed in their food.  It really fatten up your cats, so be watchful for the amount.  Regular unsalted butter will do the same, but it contains lactose.  So, for the cats that are intolerant of lactose, it is better to use ghee.  I use ghee on my morning toast every morning though I don’t have hairball issues myself!  Yum.

If you’re looking for a natural hairball solution, here it is.  It worked with my kitty!  Oh, by the way, most importantly, please remember to brush your cat every day!!  Meooow.

A Doghouse for A Cat? Why Not?

March 29th, 2012

Cat doghouse being constructed

My two cats can enjoy the backyard whenever they want.  We have a cat door leading to the backyard where there is a cat fence all around our backyard for their safety (keeping them inside the yard).  It is great to see the cats just “being cats” outside.  They love chasing small creatures such as geckos in summer months, just sitting outside under the bush, and snoozing on the chair.

What I didn’t know until my husband put up the cat fence four years ago was that the cats started doing their “business” outside.  By the end of every summer, there were a couple dozen “very green patches” in our backyard.  They help fertilizing the grass – I say, “Thank you, kids!”

The downside of having them use backyard as a giant litterbox is that I cannot keep track of their health status by watching their daily specimens.  So, I decided to put a litterbox again on the back porch.  I placed a high-sided big litterbox without a cover there a few weeks ago.  Both cats now actually use it regularly and I am so happy and excited to see their “products” every morning!

However, there is one problem.  Although our back porch has a roof, rain often hit the litter directly and it gets messy.  It doesn’t seem pleasant to the cats’ precious paws.  Well, I would not go in there if I were a cat!!  The solution – getting a doghouse that is big enough to put the litterbox inside.  For the record, I googled “cathouse”, but there were no hits.

Tora - "I want to hang out in here"

So here it is.  Doesn’t it look cute?  My husband is not quite a handyman, but he is willing to do anything for our kitties.  He is so sweet.  Tora is a curious kitty, and he was the first one to check it out.  We placed the litterbox inside of the doghouse.  In order to have them get used to a doghouse-cat-litterbox, I partially open the roof part of the doghouse, so that the transition would be gradual.

Oh, by the way, I recently switched their litter from clumping type to pine pellets to be eco-friendly and all natural to cats.  I have been using a corn-based clumping litter inside the house, but it gets moldy outside.

Mimi - "What is this thing?"

Maybe I should buy another doghouse for the cats to just hang out in…  Then, I might as well get two doghouses for each cat, so that they don’t get fight over it…  My crazy momma syndrome continues…

Start the New Year with a Healthy Diet for Your Cats – Where Did I Start?

January 3rd, 2012

Once "obese" kitty, Mimi - now she is slim and athletic - the hunter of the house!

What is the “healthy diet” for cats? I had never asked this question to myself until my own cats started suffering from obesity and a food allergy. I blindly assumed that the animal staff at the shelter knew what she was talking about eight years ago when I got my first cat, Tora in Portland, OR. She said to me, “Yep, you can just feed the cat dry food of his choice”. I wish I knew better then. I could have started the healthy diet much earlier than three years of age.(Read my personal story here.)

What do cats eat in the wild nature? That was the first thing came up to my mind. I researched feline diet on-line and through books, and found out that cats are hunters, that raw meat is their natural diet that the Mother Nature created for cats. I later found out that dry food for cats was originally designed and manufactured following the “dog dry food” model. Dogs were domesticated earlier than cats, so the commercial food was created for convenient feeding for dog owners much earlier than for cats. The big difference and mistake here is dogs are omnivores, and cats are carnivores!

After transitioning my cats to raw food, and witnessed amazing shifts in their energy level, health, and their figures (slender and pretty coat!), I was a convert to raw meat feeding for cats. I’ve met with many cat owners who are curious about raw food for their cats. For the starters, I recommend start your cats with some canned food.  For finicky eaters, you might want to transition from dry to wet (canned) slowly over several weeks.

Free-endless feeding dry food is the worst thing you can do for your cats because they can eat as much as they want. You would think that your cat can “regulate” the amount they eat, and some cats do pretty well. Often though, cats eat food out of boredom and depression from their boring indoor life style. It is natural and healthy to feel hunger. If you haven’t done so, please measure appropriate amount of dry food for your cat’s body weight per day, and feed them in two meals (or whatever works with your schedule) and don’t give them more than that per day. Treats? No, unless you give less dry food on that day to compensate calories from the treats. Generally speaking, the crunchy treats contain too much carbohydrate that cats don’t need nutritionally.

In following weeks, I will talk about the benefits of good quality canned food and raw food, and how I feed my cats with raw food.  Stay tuned…