Welcome Oliver!

I know it has been a while since I have posted, but things have been very busy in our house. I made it through college (yay!) and a day later flew back home and picked up Oliver! The man of the hour has finally arrived. Let me tell you, he is quite a character.

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“I don’t know how I ended up in this position, but it’s pretty impressive”

When I first went to visit Oliver he was very shy, he was in the stranger-danger stage of his kitten-hood, and wow is he so different now. He always has to be the center of attention and loves to hear himself talk. And his breeder was so right: he is such a cuddle bug and is a big time mama’s boy. He sleeps with me under my covers every night. It has been three weeks since we have gotten home and Oliver is totally settled in. He has even decided that he is willing to share his space with Sam, much to Sam’s excitement (he was thrilled to have a new brother, and was a bit upset when Oliver didn’t take to him right away.)

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“So sleepy”

He also has a thing about electronics. He loves to sit on my computer, whether it is on or off, and it is an ongoing battle to keep him off the keyboard when I am trying to do something. The same goes for my phone. He considers it his possession and is always knocking it out of my hands so that he can rub all over it. Actually he considers everything his, even Sam’s toys. He just goes into a room and takes over everything.

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“What do you mean you want me to get off the computer?”

His favorite toy is his feather mouse, and he will actually even play fetch with it. I was totally surprised when he started bringing me the mouse to throw for him, and just floored when he actually brought it back. I didn’t have to train him to do it or anything. The thing about him being a kitten though is that he wants to play all the time, and I am totally down for playtime, until I got to bed. Oliver doesn’t understand that he will wake me up at three AM by sitting on my head and dropping a toy on my face. He doesn’t scratch the furniture, or the scratching post… he does scratch me. We are working on that, as well as the teething on everything. One of the funniest things though is that he things going to the bathroom is a group activity. He will watch me as he uses his litter box, or try to sit on the toilet with me while I go to the bathroom.

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“I’m just going to hang out here while you finish your business.”

Overall though, he is a great cat, and will fit in with our household. I have already talked with the person who helped us train Sam, and she has given me some pointers to help Oliver get a couple steps closer to being therapy ready. I will also post some videos soon, we are trying to figure out a good camera to use to get some HD shots. So lots of videos coming up: Bathtime, playtime, outside time… or anything else good that we manage to catch on camera.

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This Little Piggy Went to Market, This Little Piggy was….. CUT OFF!

Photo Cred: Lindsey Turner

Photo Cred: Lindsey Turner

For some people declawing seems like a good option, you get the cat without the worry of scratched and tattered furniture. What could possibly be wrong with that? Well, a lot is wrong with that. Now I am going to tell you what is wrong with declawing and the problems it can lead to. That doesn’t mean that I think you are a bad person if you have gotten your cat declawed, there is obviously a good reason that you did it, or you didn’t know how extreme the surgery actually is.

Now, when most people think of declawing they think that the nail is just being removed from the cat. On humans if our nails were taken off it would hurt, yes, but we would eventually heal and our fingers would  be fully functional. Well that is not the case with declawing cats. This isn’t a matter of removing their nails from the nail beds. Declawing is a form of amputation. That is right. A doctor takes a knife and chops part of the cat’s paw off. Now, it is more technical than all that. And I will explain it all in a second. But first, let us learn a bit about how a cat works.

Cats are digitigrade, which means that they do not walk on the soles or pads of their feet, but instead walk on their toes. The whole structure of their legs, from shoulders to toes, is geared toward distributing their weight properly for this mode of walking. Now, as we all know, a cat’s claws are part of their toes. And their claws are not just for scratching you up or ripping up the furniture. Their claws are used for balancing, exercising, stretching muscles, climbing, and of course protection.

Declawing is the removal of the the last joint of the toe. This is because removing a cat’s claw is not at all the same as removing a human fingernail. A cat’s claw is part of their bone, so to remove the claw, that whole bone has to go. So just to be clear, in order to remove the claw, the bone, the nerves, the joint capsule, the collateral ligaments, and the extensor and flexor tendons must all be removed. Some vet’s will say, “No, no, no it’s just the claw I will be removing.” But the claw and the bone are so rigidly fused that there is no way to remove the claw without the bone. A good vet will inform you of this, and most will try to dissuade you from declawing your cat.

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So let’s go back to what I mentioned earlier about cat’s walking on their toes… think how difficult that must be if part of their toe is CUT OFF! That would be like us trying to walking without the balls of our feet. Pretty difficult. So, after being  declawed, the cat literally has to relearn how to walk. It was biologically designed to walk a certain way, but because of the missing bones it can no longer move that way so it has to compensate and create a new way to walk. This puts strain on joints that are being used in a way that they are not supposed to be. Beyond that a cat can no longer stretch certain muscles, it can’t climb as it normally would, and it can no longer protect itself. So if a declawed cat gets out of the house and meets a feral cat, it is out of luck. It can’t climb a tree and it can’t fight back to the same degree it would have been able to before.

Declawing is like any other surgery and it carries risks, it is always risky to put your pet (of any kind) under sedation, but there is also the risk of infection as well, which can lead to all sorts of problems that could be fatal to your cat. Declawing can actually lead to cats being more aggressive. As they become more aware of the fact that they can’t defend themselves with their claws they begin to feel helpless, which is never a good situation for a cat to be in, and they can start acting out. But (though it shouldn’t be) this is one thing that I think bothers people the most. Declawing can make your cat go potty OUTSIDE the litter box. This isn’t revenge, it simply comes down to the fact that for a lot of declawed cats, litter hurts their feet.  Declawing can leave chronic pain in a cat’s paws and the rough litter can really irritate that, they can’t dig into the litter and so rather than risk the pain they will go outside the litter box instead. Now, there are finer litter formulas that can be used if your cat is experiencing this, but wouldn’t you just rather spare them the pain and not get them declawed at all?

Now there are alternatives to declawing!

1. Soft Paws-  https://www.softpaws.com/

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Soft Paws are a good alternative to declawing, your cat gets to keep its toes and your furniture is safe. these are not toxic and you just use the adhesive to stick them right one. Some cats will chew on these, but most will ignore them. And how long they last depends on wear and tear, how often your cat scratches.

2. Nail Clippers

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These clippers can really do wonders. Give your cats nails a trim every 10 days to 2 weeks, and a lot of scratching grief can be avoided.

3. Scratching Posts!

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There are so many different styles of scratching posts, and there are really cute affordable cardboard ones now! Put these where your cat likes to scratch and redirect their attention to it, and they will learn to scratch the post instead and will feel happy warm feelings towards you for giving them a place to scratch.

There are so many different ways that you can redirect scratching behavior and not have to resort to declawing. If your cat has to be declawed for a medical reason, that is one thing, but if you care more about the appearance of your furniture than the health of your cat, then maybe you need to rethink being a cat owner.

For more information you can go to: http://www.declawing.com

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The Sphynx Cat

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“Hairless” cats can occur in any breed just by chance and genetic mutation, but the Sphynx cat is a breed that has cultivated these hairless genes in order to get a naked cat. And thus an entire breed of hairless cats was created.

Now, the Sphynx cats are not actually bald, most of them have a soft fuz on their bodies (leading them to be described as feeling like suede), and depending on the season and the individual cat, some might even grow fur on their tails and ears. They can also grow and shed fur throughout different times in their lives. Some are particularly hairless, and these are called “sticky” bald, but even they can grow fur on their faces, ears, and tails. Because of this lack of traditional fur, the cat has no hair to absorb the oils that its skin produces and so must be bathed more frequently than most cats or the furniture could end up with oil marks. As for colors, these kitties can be pretty much every color and pattern under the sun, except instead of it showing up on fur it shows up on their skin, makes you wonder what your tabby would look like if you shaved him, huh? And the wrinkles! The Sphynx wrinkles are one of their stand out features and are an extremely prized characteristic for a cat of this breed to have.

As for personality, as with every animal, they will all have individual personalities, but the breed over all is known for being extremely outgoing and friendly. They are often referred to as being a very “dog-like” cat who are very playful and usually not very graceful. They love the people in their lives, and thrive on the attention of their owners and are extremely affectionate, which can lead to anxiety if they have to be separated from their owners for long periods of time. But they are considered a breed of cat that forms a strong bond with their family.

In the beginning there was a lot of inbreeding just to make sure that the hairless gene was passed on, but this created health problems, especially heart problems, within the breed and so now responsible breeders use something called out crossing, which means that they will breed a Sphynx with a furry cat (usually a short haired cat) and then breed any hairless babies that come from that litter to another Sphynx with no genetic relation. They do this to bring diverse genes into the breeds gene pool.

Personally, I think that they are crazy cute. Obviously, I mean, Oliver is one, but some people think they are ugly, or look like aliens, and so on. But does it really matter what he looks like as long as I love him and he loves me and is happy and healthy?

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Photo cred: Vidar Skauen, Animal Photography

Benefits of Pets

While not all of us have had the experience of working with a therapy pet, most of us know that having a pet has many benefits. But did you know there there are actually physical and mental health benefits to owning a pet? Spending time with your furry (or scaled/feathered) friend can effect you in a positive way. Here are some ways that you pet helps your body:

  • Those who own pets have over all lower blood pressure
  • Pet owners have lower Triglyceride and cholesterol which is a sign of better heart health
  • Pets trigger the release of endorphins (elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine which can lead to a calm relaxed state
  • They help diminish physical pain

Bet that was more than you expected, huh? We do a lot for our pets, and though they can speak to us they do a lot for us in return. Pets don’t just help us physically they also help our emotional and mental health.

  • They can help relieve depression
  • They can decrease feelings of isolation
  • They provide comfort (I think we all know this)
  • Pets can help increase socialization
  • Help reduce boredom
  • Pets help lower anxiety (this is a big one for me, and they totally do help me with my anxiety, more than I can say.)
  • They reduce lonliness
  • Promote a sense of responsibility

A big reason that pets can be beneficial is that (excluding fish, who actually can help reduce muscle tension) they fill a human’s innate need for physical contact. They calm and soothe us when we are stressed, they will always listen to what we have to say without judgement, and they will provide us with unconditional love. There are so many animals out there that are just waiting for their chance to help and with the right one, whether it be from a breeder or a shelter, they can improve the quality of your life, and be the friend that will always be there for you.

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