Some people trust my opinion more than they trust a veterinarian’s advice. While I certainly appreciate the trust, I do NOT know more than a veterinarian. ANY veterinarian knows more than I do.
For the record, while I’ve picked up bits and pieces of information about cat health over the years, I am 100% uninterested in offering veterinary advice, because I am 100% unqualified to do so.
Having been disappointed or even harmed by medical care, more than a few cat owners no longer believe in a hierarchy of knowledge. One person’s well-intentioned advice is the same as any other person’s well-intentioned advice. A doctor’s opinion is simply another opinion, or so they believe.
I attended the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Illinois for a year. After one year, I knew that I was not cut out to be a veterinarian. Watching students who WERE cut out to be veterinarians humbled me. They studied night after night, from dusk to dawn. They took a verbal beating from professors, and kept on going without a stumble. They watched animals suffer, knowing they couldn’t be saved, and rebounded enough to face the next day. Any veterinarian, even the worst, knows more about animal health than most of us will ever know.
Naturally, you can easily locate lazy, callous or greedy veterinarians. Veterinarians are human. Some are a mess, because humans are prone to being a mess.
Instead of saying, “I don’t trust vets,” perhaps you could say “I’m going to find the best veterinarian in New York. That veterinarian is going to become my most valuable resource. They may save my cat’s life one day.”
Your veterinarian is out there, waiting for you. Find her. Find him. Trust them. They need your trust to do their job.
How do you survive in a world of predators and prey? Hide weakness. Look normal. Act healthy. No matter what.
This is your cat’s code of survival. They don’t have to think about it. They do it automatically.
You look at your cat’s claw and see something that looks weird. You look closer. Wait . . . what? Why is the claw so fat? It’s growing into the paw pad! Oh no! Oh wow! You quickly check the other claws, heart beating. You love your cat. Your cat looked normal, nothing unusual about her behavior, and now this?! You wonder, “Is my cat in pain? This is awful.”
1. If you usually trim your cat’s claws, you can try to cut the part of the claw that is exposed. You need good lighting. If the claw is deeply embedded, there may be blood. To prevent infection, keep the claw as clean as possible. Ask your veterinarian how to care for the paw.
OR . . .
2. You can take your cat to your veterinarian.
OR . . .
3. I can trim the claw, BUT if the claw was embedded, you MUST take your cat to the veterinarian or talk to your veterinarian ASAP. I am a groomer, not a doctor. I can only care for the outside of a cat, not the inside. I am not trained to prevent or treat possible infections. Graduating from grooming school is NOT the equivalent of earning a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine, right?
1. Trim your cat’s claws at least every 4-6 weeks. If you can’t do it, we will set up a schedule. It only takes 15 minutes for a claw trimming visit, as long as the cat is relaxed. For a nervous/angry/wiggly cat, the claw trimming is the easy part. Picking up and restraining the cat is the hard part. Cats that bite or scratch may be calmer at a veterinary clinic. Some cats “freeze” in a clinic, while they try to figure out what to do next. Or not. With cats you never know. It’s worth a try if house call claw trims don’t work out.
Good luck. Ingrown claws can be found on cats owned by even the most loving people. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel guilty. Just fix it, fast.
Go cats! Taking over the U.S. of A., one furry paw and squeaky meow at a time.
“Cats are now the most common pet in the United States, with over 85 million owned cats reported in a recent survey. Approximately one third of U.S. households now have at least one cat living in them, and more than fifty percent of these homes have more than one kitty.”
Let’s say your cat really was your child. You gave birth to a furry creature instead of a bald human. Man, those claws had to hurt on the way out. Thank heavens for epidurals, right?
What would you do differently if this were true, apart from calling Ripley’s Believe It Or Not?
What humans do for their human children:
You care about a child’s development. You make sure your child has mental and physical stimulation. You send your child to school to be educated, learn social behavior, and have fun. You play with your child. Your child has toys, boatloads of them. You make sure that your child has friends. You invite friends over to meet your child, to teach her manners. You take your child to the doctor for check-ups. Things a mother won’t ever say include “She doesn’t like getting wet, so I don’t give her baths. She doesn’t like getting her hair combed, so I never comb it. You notice if your child is fat. You change the child’s diet, so she won’t get sick or be bullied by other kids. If your child acts up, you do something. Maybe you give a time out. Maybe you spank. If you let your child run wild, people look at you funny, and your child turns into a social pariah. You keep the house clean, especially the bathroom, because otherwise, ewwww.
What humans do when they say “My cat is my baby.” This is what I’ve seen more often than not.
Food. More food. Kisses and hugs. More kisses and hugs. 22 hours a day of cat sleeping, because nothing ever happens, so why stay awake?
If a parent only did that much, they’d be in all sorts of trouble. The school teachers, social workers and neighbors would be giving them looks, gossiping about how they don’t take much care of their child, yada yada yada.
You call yourself a pet parent, that’s fine. No one’s going to stop you saying that if it makes you happy, but you’ve got to hold yourself to some standard of parenting. If you don’t, your cat might decide to join the Navy and ship out to foreign lands.
“World War II Cat Veteran Turns 15
This photo accompanied this profile of Pooli in the July 4, 1959, L.A. Times:
A World War II veteran cat today celebrates her 15th birthday.
And she can still get into her old uniform with its three service ribbons and four battle stars.
The cat, Pooli, short for Princess Papule, was born July 4, 1944, in the Navy yard at Pearl Harbor, her present owner, Benjamin H. Kirk, said.
Kirk explained that Pooli was taken aboard the attack transport USS Fremont that day by his nephew, James I. Lynch, now a specialist in administrative services for the Board of Education.
Pooli saw action at the Marianas, the Palau group, the Philippines and Iwo Jima. And she became a shellback when the ship crossed the equator.
Kirk revealed that when battle stations rang, Pooli would head for the mail room and curl up in a mail sack.”
First off, this is a SERIOUS behavior & family relationship issue. Nowadays, pets are part of the family. They used to be employees who did a job. They were in charge of mouse-eradication. They lived in barns, getting on the nerves of birds and rabbits, even killing a few of them every so often.
Now they’re permanent children. You know what happens when children sit around without anything to do? They get themselves into trouble. They set ants on fire and pull the ears of the family dog. We all need something to do, even your cat.
Whether cats are workers or children, biting people isn’t SUPPOSED to be part of the deal. You can say, “Cats are like that,” or “She’s a rescue cat,” or “She’s nervous”, but it doesn’t change a thing. Your cat shouldn’t be biting you. You shouldn’t be thinking that’s normal or okay. Sympathy for an animal can make us accept behavior that isn’t in the cat’s best interests.
The above is my opinion. Below are some suggestions if you agree with my opinion. The goal is to stimulate your cat. Get your cat stimulated, then tire your cat out with exercise. Another goal is to give your cat something to bite BESIDES you.
1. Buy your cat some stuff. Toys, toys, toys. Try all different types of toys. Try a little catnip. Try all different types of scratching posts. Try different types of treats, but break the treat into pieces so it’s really a treat, not a meal. If you can’t buy too much, make toys. A shoelace or a bottle cap or a box can be a ton of fun.
2. PLAY with your cat. Those wand toys work great for playing. You have to wiggle it in a certain way, hide the feather behind furniture, then whip it out. Don’t just dangle the wand. That’s not going to be any fun for your cat. Make the wand move like it’s a tiny mouse, darting in and out of sight.
3. Touch your cat for short periods. Don’t overdo it. If your cat starts to look twitchy, let your cat go. When cats feel like they need to bite in order to be freed from a cuddle, that sets up a destructive pattern of biting as part of cuddling.
4. Keep the house peaceful. I’ve been to homes where the humans yell. They’re not angry. They’re just yellers. Even when they’re happy, they’re loud. If you have a loud home, give the cat a place to get some peace and quiet. A tree house or their own comfy bed can be a refuge. If their nerves are on edge, they’re more likely to relieve the pressure by biting.
5. Touch their paws every so often. Touch their tail. Give them a nice, short massage. Give them a nibble of a treat when you do it. Make the touching a quick, fun experience for them.
6. Stay calm and positive. Think happy thoughts. If you get all riled up, they’ll get riled up too.
7. Don’t use your fingers or toes as a toy. If you do, you’re asking to be bitten.
Aim for a bite-free home. THAT is normal and okay. THAT is how cats become permanent, loved, contented family members.
Your cat’s a biter. Will I trim the claws?
I’m a groomer, not a lion tamer. If your cat bites you, most likely they’ll bite me too. That means I need to wear protective gear and hold your cat like I mean business. Grooming a biting cat isn’t a pretty sight. There’s nothing cute about scruffing an animal while it tries to puncture an arm. If you ask me to cut your cat’s claws, and your cat has a history of biting, know that my priority is making sure I don’t get bitten. Cat bites lead to hospitalization more often than dog bites. I’ve had some people ask me to groom their cat and when the cat attacks me before I’ve even started grooming, they feel sorry for the cat. That’s just crazy. Would you feel sorry for a dog who bit you?
There’s a heap of denial among cat-loving humans who have skinny, old cats.
Is a cute-looking haircut and less fur on the sofa worth blood and stitches? If you say HECK YEAH! then go to it. Fire up that clipper.
I’m of the opinion that the answer is HECK NO. I won’t do a lion cut if the cat is likely to be nicked during the shaving process.
I do make an exception for old cats who are so matted that they are uncomfortable. Their comfort is important, so it’s worth the risk.
Long-haired old cats stay dirtier and can’t deal with their own fur. Their tongue is worn out, I guess, not to mention the arthritis. They’re like that uncle who drinks too much and can’t remember to comb his hair . . . . you know, the uncle with the shirts covered with stains? You won’t do his laundry because who knows what he’s gotten into?
Cat skin is as thick as your eyelid. Think about that. You want me to come over and shave your eyelid?
The technical, boring discussion is below. You can skip it, unless you’re deeply interested in shaving cat’s privates.
1. Cat clippers work best on a flat plane. They zip along a flat surface and get every last hair off quickly and safely.
2. Cat clippers on an angle aim the blade at tender skin. The blade isn’t parallel to the skin. It’s going INTO the skin. DANGER ZONES: clipping the fur in the underarms or between the rear legs. “I can’t believe what I’m seeing” thin skin combined with peaks and valleys. DANGER.
3. The thinner the cat, the more peaks and valleys, and the harder it is to shave safely. Shaving a fat cat is like shaving a balloon. It’s much easier to shave a fat cat than a skinny cat.
4. The older the cat, the thinner and looser the skin.
Comb your cat every day, gently work on the mats with a comb, or maybe a round-tip scissor. If you’re a butterfingers be patient. Spend some money on my services if you can’t do it yourself.
I’m going to lay it out straight, because I get too many calls from really sweet, really smart people who didn’t get the memo that the animal you adopted BECAUSE IT IS SOFT AND FLUFFY is an animal that is covered in fur. You want the kitty but no fur? There are cats for that.
If you didn’t get one, don’t blame the cat, don’t get frustrated, just figure out a way to live without a haze of cat fur. It can be done. Don’t fight reality. Work with reality.
I know a lot of you are much, much smarter than I am, so if I can figure out a way to deal with fur, you should be able to do it while you’re sleeping.
In short, since this is a LIVE animal, not a stuffed animal, that furs got to come off, so suck it up. Literally. Suck that stuff up with a slicker brush and a fully functional vacuum. Take pride in your tools, ladies and gents. Make common sense furniture/bedding purchases. See below for details.
Cats shed year-round. Shedding increases when days get longer. Shedding relates to light, not temperature. No artificial light, less shedding.
Apart from living like Abe Lincoln in darkness from the moment the sun goes down to the moment the sun goes up, how do you decrease shedding?
You don’t decrease shedding. They just keep on shedding. What you do is get better at scooping up the dead fur.
1. Run a metal comb through your cat’s fur a few times a week. Use a cheap metal comb. (Furminator shmurminator, I hate that thing. Costs too much, does too little.) Takes all of 2 minutes. Give your cat a treat while you’re doing it. Eat some potato chips while you do it. You’ll both be better for the experience. Fatter, but better. If your cat wiggles, hold on to the cat. You can do it. You’re a New Yorker! You ride the 6 train during rush hour! This is nothing compared to that.
2. Use a slicker brush, gently brushing your cat’s surface once a day. Takes all of a minute. Do it while you’re watching cat videos. You know you watch those videos, don’t even try to hide it. I’ll check your laptop history next time I visit, and all will be revealed.
3. Get yourself a quality vacuum, and keep that thing clean and functional. Don’t show me some sad-looking vacuum with fur and dust jamming it up every which way. That’s not a tool. That’s an embarrassment. Take pride in your tools!
4. Buy smart. You know you’re going to be crazy over fur if you buy yourself one of those suede-type couches that are so popular. Fur magnets is what they are. Don’t buy a fuzzy bed cover. Get one with a slick surface that can be shaken to get dead fur off, or else just put a cute sheet over your bed in the morning before you run out the door.
5. Give your cat his own furniture, which your cat will be perfectly happy to hang out on and adorn with shedding fur. Cat shelves, cat tree houses, cat beds on window sills. Lots of possibilities. Order them online. Spend a few dollars. If it doesn’t work out, that’s okay. Try something else. You probably spent that much money on fancy drinks last week without thinking twice.
6. Put your clothes in a closet. If you have a white cat, think about your all-black wardrobe. You should have thought about that before you bought a white cat, so now you either switch it up and buy some light-colored clothes or keep a pail of sticky brushes by the door. Or you can dye the cat black. No, not really.
Have me come over every so often to do a complete comb-out, bath, drying. You’ll still have fur left over that sheds, because I’m a groomer, not a magician, BUT that fur will be clean, won’t be greasy, and there’ll be less of it.76y76 (Those last letters were typed by my black cat, Emma. She’s a professional writer.)
Go on now. You can do it. If you can’t, make regular grooming appointments and off-load the work to me.