Every year, I write about our old cat needs. While Karma-Kat has just reached middle age (and still acts like a kitten!), cats age at different rates. When do you consider your cat old? Is your old cat a senior kitty by age 8, or 13, or…when? For cats, what is old? Here are 8 reasons to consider adopting a senior citizen pet.
November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month. I have to admit, there’s something special about old cats. This post first appeared in 2012, and has been updated several times. Now that Seren-Kitty has gone to Rainbow Bridge, this post is in Seren’s honor and for all the golden oldie senior cats that rule our hearts (whether here or waiting for us at the Bridge.)
SEREN & OLD CATS
Seren went to the Bridge in December 2017, and would have celebrated her 22nd birthday on February 1st. I wanted to celebrate old cats and talk a bit about what is old age for cats. Some cats age more gracefully than others, and despite her longtime senior status, Seren continued to act like a youngster and keep Magical-Dawg and Karma-Kat in line, up nearly to the last week of her life. Now Karma-Kat has reached senior kitty status.
Siamese as a breed tend to live longer, and it’s not unusual for healthy cats to live into their late teens or even early twenties. Of course, Seren was a found kitten, and we’re not sure what her heritage was, but she continued to maintain clean teeth, good appetite, normal litter-ary habits, sound heart and no lumps or bumps. After her bout with the schneezles, and losing one canine (fang) tooth, she continued rockin’ and rollin’ like nothing could stop her. I thought she’d live forever. *sigh* If you have a senior kitty, here are some tips for helping to keep old pets comfortable during their golden years.
What is considered old for a cat? The question of what is old is complicated by the impact of genetics, environment, and individual characteristics. Consider human beings: one person may act, look and feel “old” at 65 while another 65-year-old remains an active athlete with a youthful attitude and appearance. The same is true for our cats.
“I think that actually varies a lot, and it’s getting older every year,” says Rhonda Schulman, DVM, an internist at the University of Illinois. “It used to be that eight was the major cutoff for the cat that was geriatric. Now we’re moving to the point that’s a prolonged middle age.” According to Guinness World Records, the oldest cat on record was Creme Puff owned by Jake Perry of Austin, Texas. Cream Puff was born August 3, 1967 and died August 6, 2005 at the age of 38 years and 3 days.
A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of their lifespan, says Sarah K. Abood, DVM a clinical nutritionist at Michigan State University. However, since we can’t predict what an individual cat’s lifespan will be, the beginning of old age is a bit arbitrary. Certain families of cats may be longer lived than others, in the same way that some human families enjoy a much greater longevity than others. The lifespan of your cat’s parents and grandparents is a good predictor of how long you can expect your cat to live. People who share their lives with pedigreed cats may be able to access this information through the cat’s breeder.
PREDICTING LONGEVITY IN OLD CATS
Longevity of unknown heritage cats is much more difficult to predict. Even when felines are “part” Siamese or Persian, for example, these felines may inherit the very worst, or the very best, from the parents. The majority of pet cats are domestic shorthair or domestic longhair kitties of mixed ancestry, and the products of unplanned breeding. That by itself points to a poorer-than-average level of health for the parents, which in turn would be passed on to the kittens. Siblings within the same litter may have different fathers, and can vary greatly in looks, behavior, and health. When all is said and done, one should expect the random-bred cat-next-door kitty to be neither more nor less healthy than their pedigreed ancestors—as long as they all receive the same level of care and attention.
“If you get a kitten, it is very likely you will have this cat for the next 15 to 20 years,” says Dr. Abood. That means the last 25 percent would be 12 to 15 years. To simplify matters, most veterinarians consider cats to be “senior citizens” starting at about seven to eight years old, and geriatric at 14 to 15.
Here’s some perspective comparing cat age to human age. “The World Health Organization says that middle-aged folks are 45 to 59 years of age and elderly is 60 to 74. They considered aged as being over 75,” says Debbie Davenport, DVM, an internist with Hill’s Pet Foods. “If you look at cats of seven years of age as being senior, a parallel in human years would be about 51 years,” she says. A geriatric cat at 10 to 12 years of age would be equivalent to a 70-year-old human.
CHERISHING OLD SENIOR CATS
Veterinarians used to concentrate their efforts on caring for young animals. When pets began to develop age-related problems, the tendency among American owners was to just get another pet. That has changed, and today people cherish their aged furry companions and want to help them live as long as possible. Now there are many things you can do for common cat aging conditions.
Modern cats age seven and older can still live full, happy and healthy lives. Age is not a disease. Age is just age, says Sheila McCullough, DVM, an internist at University of Illinois. “There are a lot of things that come with age that can be managed successfully, or the progression delayed. Renal failure cats are classic examples.” It’s not unusual for cats suffering kidney failure to be diagnosed in their late teens or even early twenties.
“I had a woman with a 23-year-old cat who asked should she change the diet. I said, don’t mess with success!” says Dr. McCullough. These days veterinarians often see still-healthy and vital cats of a great age.
“I think if the cat lives to 25 years, I shouldn’t be doing anything but saying hello,” says Steven L. Marks, BVSc, an internist and surgeon at Louisiana State University (now at North Carolina State University). “If you’ve ever had a pet live that long, you want them all to live that long.”
What about your senior cats? Does he or she act like a senior? What age did you notice a change, if any?
Seren’s aging changes meant her dark Siamese mask turned gray, with white hairs surrounding her eyes. Arthritis made it hard for her to leap as before. Her claws thickened so she could no longer retract them, and she “clicked” while she walked on hard surfaces–I kept them trimmed for her. In her last four months, she needed extra potty spots as she couldn’t quite anticipate getting to the right place on time. But I’ll forever be grateful for the nearly 22 years we shared together.
Mosquitoes swarm these days when I work in the garden. I worry about dog heartworms with the increase of these buggy pests. Are your dogs protected? Do you know how dogs get heartworm? Read on!
I hate mosquitos not only because they’re itchy aggravation, but these nasty vampires spread deadly dog heartworms. That can make your dog sick or worse—it could kill her. Dogs are the natural host–but they also can affect cats–and heartworms have been a problem at least since 1922 when they were first discovered. Today heartworms are found all over the world.
The heartworm Dirofilaria immitis belongs to a group of parasites called filarids, and is a type of roundworm. They live in the right heart chambers and pulmonary arteries—the lungs—of infected dogs. As you can imagine, lungs and heart filled with worms can damage and interfere with normal organ function. You won’t be able to tell if your puppy has heartworms. You can’t see them the way you can fleas or ticks. And your dog won’t even act sick until she’s been infected for quite a while.
Hunting dogs that spend lots of time outdoors are at highest risk.
Despite the availability of effective and easy to use heartworm preventive options, the disease appears to be on the rise. In just two years, from 2013-2015, there was a 166 percent increase in reported positive heartworm cases, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). Additionally, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) has tracked the geographic spread of heartworm disease to all 50 states and its increased prevalence in several regions of the country.
So what’s a pet parent to do?
UPDATE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS & MOSQUITOES
A groundbreaking study by John McCall, MS, PhD addresses this concern. He investigated the effectiveness of stopping heartworm disease at the buggy transmission source. His research shows that a multi-modal approach (adding mosquito repellents and insecticides alongside standard heartworm preventive protocols), offers even better protection for our dogs.
I first reported on this study back in Fall 2016. The study, sponsored by CEVA, explored the efficacy of a new “Double Defense” protocol. John McCall is a professor emeritus in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. After fighting heartworm the same way for decades, McCall says it’s time for a new approach that includes fighting the mosquito as well as the heartworm.
PREVENTING VS TREATING HEARTWORMS
Preventives that address heartworms are one important part of canine health care. But until recently, preventing the vector (mosquito) hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, according to Byron Blagburn, MS, PhD, DAVCM, a professor of parasitology,, researcher, and author of the mosquito control guidelines.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) included more information on how to control mosquitoes, adding science-based evidence to these guidelines on mosquito control. New recommendations include choosing heartworm and parasite prevention products that also address the mosquito menace. Several canine products are available, and you should consult with your veterinarian for the best choices for your individual dogs and circumstances.
According to the Heartworm Incidence Survey from the American Heartworm Society, the average number of dogs diagnosed per clinic in 2016 rose by 21.7 percent over 2013 numbers (date of the last survey). AHS president and veterinarian Dr. Christopher Rehm says that the distribution of cases hasn’t dramatically changed, 24% of respondents said the average number of positive dogs has increased since 2013.
2021 Heartworm Predictions–Keep Dogs Safe!
LEARN MORE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS
Please ask YOUR veterinarian about how you can best protect your dogs from mosquitoes and dog heartworms. Learn more about Dr. McCall’s CEVA-funded study in this short video.
Several years ago, I interviewed Dr. Wallace Graham about prevention, treatment and more in my Pet Peeves radio show. Much of this information is still valid, so find out more about how to keep cats and dogs safe from heartworm disease in PET PEEVES, HEART-TO-HEART ABOUT HEARTWORMS.
Kitten litter box training tops the list for frequently asked questions from new kitten owners. Planning ahead can save cat lovers lots of heartache by preventing litter box problems before they happen with kitten potty training..
Whenever new kittens come to your home, it’s important to figure out what they know, plus help them learn the new rules of the house. When you have other cats (after proper cat introductions, of course!) the older felines can help teach the youngsters the rules. How to train cats to the litter box usually comes naturally, but these tips can help with potty training your cat.
How to Potty Train Cats with Kitten Litter Box Training
Congratulations on your new kitten adoption! Most cats come pre-programmed to use the potty but you’ll need help if the baby is very young. Felines are great imitators and simply “copy cat” their mother’s behavior when they watch and follow her to the litter box. Most kittens and cats will already know what a litter box is for and how to use it by the time you adopt them.
But if you hand-raise an orphan or adopt a kitten younger than 8 to 10 weeks, you’ll need to do the job of the mother cat. Transitioning outdoor cats to an indoor lifestyle also may mean re-training bathroom etiquette from “going” among the flowers to aiming for the litter box. Check out the Ask Amy video below, and you’ll find more of the basics here.
Kitten Litter Box Training Preparation
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Felines are naturally clean creatures and dislike eliminating where they sleep or eat. They also appreciate privacy when (ahem) doing their duty. Build allegiance to the litter box by positioning it correctly, in a low-traffic area away from the cat’s bed and food bowls. Also remember that kittens may not have the physical capacity to “hold it” long enough to run clear across the house or down the stairs. Provide a box on each end of the house, or one per floor.
SIZE MATTERS. A regular size box may be too large for new kittens to climb in and out. A disposable cookie sheet works until he’s bigger. Average size adult cats do well with standard commercial litter pans, but jumbo-size cats (Maine Coon kitties come to mind!) may need larger toilets or risk hanging over the sides when they pose. Translucent plastic storage bins with a cat-size hole cut in one side may be ideal.
FILLER ‘ER UP WITH…WHAT? A variety of cat box fillers are available, from plain clay to pine pellets and recycled wheat or corn crumbles. The ideal material absorbs moisture, contains waste and odor, and most important of all, suits the cat. Fine textures such as the “clumping” clay litters seem to be the feline favorite. Fill the box an inch or so deep with the filler. Learn about the history of litter here.
If you’re transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor box, do a bit of research and follow him to find out his preferred substrate. Changing litter too fast can prompt hit or miss potty behavior. Dusting a bit of plain garden dirt, or a layer of grass or leaves over top of the commercial litter may help give him the idea of what you have in mind. Give your cat what he wants and kitten litter box training will be a breeze! And if you already have other pets, you may want to invest in a pet gate or pet door to control the space in your house.
Kitten Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Cats
Get all the MUST KNOWS for your new kitten in the book!
Kittens and cats new to your home won’t know where the box is, even if they know what it’s for. Place the kitty on top of the clean litter and scratch around with your fingers to prompt imitation. Even if the cat doesn’t need to “go,” a pristine box often tempts them to dig a bit, which may lead to the first deposit.
When he’s creative in the box, reward your cat with verbal praise, a toy, or even a tasty treat reserved only for training. Don’t pick your new kitty up out of the box. Let him make his own way out of the box and the room, so he’ll better remember how to get back there the next time nature calls.
For tiny kittens, leave one recent deposit in the box after he’s been productive. The scent is a reminder of where the box is, and what he’s supposed to do once he’s there. But remember to keep the box clean or the cat will avoid the dirty toilet and find a better spot—such as under your bed.
Until you’re sure the kitty consistently uses the box, make a point of scheduling potty times. Kittens need to eliminate more frequently than adults do. Take the baby for a pit stop after each nap, meal, and play period. Playtime is fun for kittens–and you! Learn more about how pets play here.
Teaching basic bathroom allegiance from the beginning ensures your kitten gets off on the right paw—and saves your carpet. You’ll find even more of kitten “must knows” in the book Complete Kitten Care. Have you ever had problems training kittens to “go” in the right spot? How did you manage?
Some of y’all know that my *virtual HIDE AND SEEK book tour* ran during June and July, and I had a wonderful time visiting various blogs and sharing about my writer-ly journey. All the links to various blogs can be found on my website here.
But now I’ve been tagged for another virtual tour, a way for my Sweet Peeps to find out about other paw-some writers and their work. My author-friend, Angie Baily, invited me to join The Writing Process Blog Tour. Be sure to check out Angie’s blog and find out all about her works-in-progress. If you love quirky humor and love cats, you’ll find a treasure there!
The Writing Process Blog Tour is a way for bloggers to share their own writing process and current projects with readers, as well as introduce them to a couple of fabulous authors they might not be reading … which they should. I’m supposed to answer these four questions–so hang on tight, and I’ll try to be concise.
*snicker* Yeah, THAT’s gonna happen!
What am I working on?
Wow, probably too many projects to list. Here’s the short list at the top of my to-do’s:
I’m awaiting the return of final edits on my next nonfiction book COMPLETE PUPPY CARE, due to release later this month. This book will be the companion title to mirror my best selling COMPLETE KITTEN CARE book. Hey, I have to give equal time to the fur-kids!
Writing the next book in my suspense/thriller series, titled SHOW AND TELL. The books feature an animal behaviorist, September Day. She lives with a trained Maine Coon cat and suffers from PTSD which is helped by her German Shepherd service dog named Shadow. Shadow is a favorite character because he has his own viewpoint chapters, character arc and storyline (but no, he DOESN’T talk).
Preparing for the debut of STRAYS, THE MUSICAL, a full-length play co-written with Frank Steele. We’ve got a workshop scheduled to teach folks some of the music and introduce to the script, auditions scheduled, and performance taking place November 6-7-8, 2014. This show is very close to my heart, as it incorporates my love of cats and dogs with music and theater (all characters are cats or dogs). You can expect some blog posts in the future detailing this STRAYS journey!
In the planning stages for a writers’ guide “how-I-did-it” short book, hopefully this fall, to provide a one stop place to answer many of the writing and publishing questions I receive. It will be based on the several conference talks and webinars I offer.
SUPER-SECRET-SOON-TO-BE-REVEALED PROJECTS that I can’t yet announce, but will be PAW-some for cats, dogs and pet parents. Yes, it has to do with great health and behavior information, and some opportunities for bloggers to get involved, too. Stay tuned!
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
Some of my work is very similar to my colleague’s, in that I strive to provide great actionable information that helps pet parents and the cats and dogs they love. It differs in that many of the venues or platforms are outside the box, and that I try not to limit myself to one avenue to reach my audience.
For years I wrote very prescriptive nonfiction books and articles–and I still love sharing that information. But now I work to “edu-tain” readers who perhaps aren’t specifically looking for pet care advice or information. Reading a book told through “dog voice” opens a window into how and why dogs behave certain ways. Watching a play in which cats and dogs offer insight into their world and it’s all from their purr-spective may offer some ah-ha moments for pet parents. Using a variety of publishing platforms, from the Internet and blogs to Ebooks, traditional print and even audio books or songs, increases the chance more folks will benefit from the work.
Why do you write what you do?
I was put on this earth to be a voice for the voiceless–I truly believe that. Writing about cats and dogs gives me great pleasure, and it’s fun! How neat to wake up every morning excited to go to work and–basically–play with cats and dogs for a living. I am truly blessed!
How does your writing process work?
Hmnn. Often, I get ideas from readers asking questions, or from news stories that make me go “wow…what if?” Typically I work 6-7 days a week, although I try to take at least half a day off on Sunday. My world would go off the tracks without to-do lists. I love putting together lists, and crossing off each item once completed! My calendars (several, both paper and online) are highlighted and color coded to keep track of various projects, and often look like a peacock exploded.
For book-length projects, I do my best to meet a daily word count, and calendar progress toward the deadline. Otherwise, with so many things to juggle, something’s liable to go SPLAT when it’s dropped. Once a book-length draft is finished, I work on a different project for a time and come back to edits with fresh eyes. Books generally go through several rewrites and drafts before going to beta readers and later to my editor, so it’s an involved process. Shorter work like articles can be turned around much more quickly. Blogs (like this one) often are written in one sitting.
Now it’s time to tag two more wonderful writer friends. Please head on over to their blogs/websites and check out their work. I promise, you’ll be glad you did!
JaneA Kelly is a contributing author to Caster.com and is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, an award-winning cat advice blog written by her cats, for cats and their people. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, and has been a speaker at the BlogPaws and Cat Writers’ Association conferences. In addition to blogging about cats, JaneA writes contemporary urban fantasy, and whatever else strikes her fancy.
Carol Shenold has been a nurse for forty years, and a writer/artist almost as long. She writes the Tali Cates mysteries, as well as urban fantasies with weirdly wonderful characters (“The Monster under the bed…is real!”), and nursing textbooks. She also writes nonfiction in general interest, technical magazines, newspaper columns and more. You can find Carol at her website and her blog–when she’s not busy painting pictures of her cat or dogs or grandkids.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered–post in the comments. Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my THRILLERS WITH BITE!
Some of y’all know that my debut thriller LOST AND FOUND will be published this fall. Last night I sent back edits to my publisher and now we’re working on cover design. It’s a challenge because–well–it has to be right!
Why do I talk about thriller fiction in a Woof Wednesday blog? Because a main character in the book is Shadow, a nine-month-old German shepherd being trained as a service dog for a young boy. Like most authors, I truly KNOW what my characters look like, how they talk and act, and what they feel.
Even Shadow, the dog. Especially Shadow. He is, in fact, one of my viewpoint characters. At a recent writer’s seminar on pitching (a shorthand way of describing the book) I described the book like this:
“In LOST AND FOUND an animal behaviorist and service dog must find an autistic child lost in a blizzard in this adult thriller with the medical tension of Robin Cook and the heart of The Art of Racing In the Rain.”
Hey, I can dream that readers will agree!
Meanwhile, tomorrow I have a photo shoot with a potential cover-dog model for the book. You see, many of the stock photos available of German shepherds either aren’t the right color (black) or the wrong age. And nope, Magical-Dawg is too big/mature for the right look (shhhh, don’t say that out loud or you’ll hurt his doggy feelings!) but one of his relatives might have the right look. Get a load of this gorgeous GSD, already with a tracking dog title at 6 months old, wow!
My blog followers, Facebook friends, nonfiction book readers and pet writing colleagues have been so much a part of this fiction journey, I want to include YOU in the book, too. Shadow is already a main character in the story. But there is a second tracking dog featured, as well several other “relatives” of that canine that are mentioned.
I’d like to give y’all the opportunity to name those dog characters–name them after YOUR furry wonder, for instance, or a beloved pet that has passed on, or a friend’s dog or even a human relative–your choice. Many of y’all already subscribe to my Pet Peeves newsletter, which hasn’t gone out in a while due to other deadlines 🙂 . I’ll post a reminder in the next several blogs about this to subscribe to the newsletter for your chance to NAME THAT DOG in the forthcoming Lost And Found thriller.
Those who win the naming opportunity will also receive a free copy of the book, and a mention in the acknowledgements. Oh, and let me know in the comments–have you ever won a similar “naming” contest? How’d that work out? I know that the Thrillerfest folks auction off naming characters as ways to raise funds for charity but this time around, I want it to be free–and fun for you, too. How should I pick the winner? Please weigh in with your thoughts.
Here’s how I’ve decided to choose the winner(s). Depending on the response, I will select (random drawing) 10-15 dog names and 10-15 cat names, and YOU WILL VOTE (get your friends to campaign for you!) to select the final names to appear in the book.
Those who win the naming will not only get furry bragging rights, and an ADVANCE FREE COPY of the book, but also an acknowledgement in the book itself with a tidbit about your pet who shares that name. Sound good? Be sure to post your suggested name asap–I’ll need to send final edits to my editor probably by the end of July!
It’s the back-to-school time of year, and that conjures up a mixed bag of memories. I loved being a student–yeah, I was a school nerd, and classes were pretty easy for me maybe cuz I took the “artsy” classes like writing, singing, and suchlike. I had mixed feelings about my parents being teachers, though. And lots of angst when for a short time I actually became a high school teacher. On Facebook my relationship with school would be “it’s complicated.”
Part of that is disappointment, I think. After study of music and acting I had every intention to take Broadway by storm. Ha! Then life happened. I met someone special, we fell in love, got married, and my “dream life” was no longer practical. That empty spot inside begged to be filled up with some kind of creativity. So I “made do” with writing. *snort*
[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”448″ caption=”My in-house editor, Seren, never holds back her opinion.”
Yep, I’m an accidental writer who actually made a career out of making do. I wonder how many of us end up with accidental careers?
The dreams we have early in life evolve as we grow and have obstacles and hard choices thrown in the path. Have you ever regretted a choice you made? Would you go back in time for a “do-over” if you had the chance? Are you satisfied with your life today? All those choices along the way–the doors opened or slammed shut, the “mistakes” that lead to other opportunities–for good or ill, they get us to this spot–HERE, NOW, where we are at this moment. A different choice 10 years ago, or even last week surely could lead to a different reality but who’s to say it would be better?
Today I head back over to the Denison High School–where I taught for that brief wonderful-awful-glorious-crazy period of time–for a rehearsal. I’ve been invited to perform in a fund-raiser “talent show” for the theater department this Saturday night. So what better choice than an original song from the new musical dramedy KURVES written with my co-author Frank Steele. Oh, it’s cast and will be presented in full in early February, stay tuned…
Wait a minute, what happened there? Yes, after all these years that drama-dream resurrected with a detour into accidental script/music writing. That’s some scary crappiocca, I gotta say! And guess what? The 8 characters angst over missed opportunities and whether to risk what they have for a do-over new chance at happiness.
Sort of gotz me a theme going, ya think?
A couple of decades ago I could have turned down that marriage proposal, headed to Noo Yawk and who knows what would have happened? I do know what would NOT have happened: 23 books, pet writing and behavior consults, teaching music, Seren-Kitty and Magical-Dawg, moving to Texas, meeting y’all–none of that would have happened.
So what about you? What do-over would you wish for? If you had a chance for a “do-over” would you take it?
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!
To become infected, a cat must live in an area that has infected dogs, and with mosquitoes that have a taste for both dog blood and cat blood. Wildlife also serves as a reservoir for the disease so coyotes and raccoons could put your pets at risk. Heck, the coyotes come up onto my back patio! Even though Magical-Dawg is negative for the disease and takes preventative, Seren-kitty could get heartworm from a single mosquito biting a coyote and nailing her before I could swat the sucker.
That’s right, I said it. A cat doesn’t have to go outside to be exposed. Exclusively indoor cats also get heartworm disease. They may even be more susceptible, yikes!
HOW CAT HEARTWORMS ARE TRANSMITTED
Mosquitoes ingest baby heartworms (microfilariae) when taking a blood meal from an already infected animal. The immature parasites spend about three weeks developing inside the mosquito and migrate to the mouthparts of the insect. When the mosquito again takes a blood meal, larvae are deposited upon the skin and gain entrance to the new host’s body through the bite wound left by the mosquito. Once inside the body, the immature heartworm undergoes many more molts and development stages.
CAT HEARTWORMS SYMPTOMS ARE H.A.R.D.
Outdoor cats exposed to mosquitoes increase risk of contracting heartworm disease–but even indoor kitties can get infected.
The larvae are carried by the blood through the heart to the cat’s pulmonary arteries which almost immediately become enlarged and inflamed. They usually die in cats in about 9 months (they can live 5 years in dogs!) and cause severe inflammatory respiratory problems when they die. This has been described as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).
Feline airways become thickened, stiff, and inflamed. Cats with asthma symptoms—open-mouth breathing with blue gums—may in fact be suffering from heartworm disease. Frequent vomiting also can be a sign of feline heartworm disease. “The third unfortunate sign we see is the cat is fine this morning, and dead this afternoon,” says Dr. Graham.
CAT HEARTWORMS TESTS
Current tests don’t detect all feline heartworm cases. Antigen tests identify the presence of adult female worms. That means cats could have immature worms present, or an adult male, and appear to be safe. Antibody tests can detect very early infections by immature worms–fantastic for our dogs!–but half of all cats that have worms don’t have antibodies against them. Additional chest radiographs and echocardiograms may be needed when heartworm infection is suspected.
A single heartworm can kill the cat, and there’s no cure or treatment for feline heartworms. Instead, veterinarians suppress the inflammation in the lungs and make it easier to breathe using such drugs as prednisone, bronchodilators, and doxycycline. Infected cats usually are put on heartworm preventive so they don’t get any new worms that further complicate their care.
Preventing Feline Heartworms
While diagnosis is difficult and treatment virtually impossible, there are preventive products for cats. The American Heartworm Society provides guidelines and the latest research on its site. They recommend all cats should be on preventative, year round. Start kittens at 6 to 8 weeks of age–there are products that not only prevent heartworms but also control other parasites like fleas so you’re multi-tasking and keeping kitty safe. It costs pennies a day to protect my dog and cat, compared to the expense of treating an infection.
Losing Shadow-Pup or Karma-Kat to heartworms is not a price I’m willing to pay.
How about you? What sorts of preventatives to you give your fur-kids? Fleas and tick stuff? Heartworm prevention? Do you prefer the “natural” route or have suggestions how to get the cats to accept “what’s good for them?” There are liquid alternatives and spot ons for some of these preventions. What works best for your pets?
No, really–don’t let the sparkle-icity fool you. This lady am-stuck-in-a-rut. I can’t remember the last time my husband and I took a vacation together, other than to visit family. We have responsibilities. Two fur-kids that don’t do well left alone. Property that needs attention. And work deadlines that refuse to recognize the term “vacation.” The whole concept of R&R gives me an eye twitch when I think of all the work not yet done.
Am I beyond redemption?
Each year for the past dozen, my writers group makes a trek to the mountains of Colorado sometime during the heat of Texas summer. This year we’ve postponed that week-long outing until September. Because our various WORK schedules simply won’t allow us that leeway until later, if then.
The Colorado trek used to be a respite from work, a place to indulge in aspirational endeavors–that novel idea burning a hole in my brain, copper-foiling stained glass pieces, shopping for sparkles, drinking beverage, fine conversation until late in the night, wildlife visitation–deer, birds, squirrels, bear, raccoons, turkeys, hummers and more–and LAUGHTER. Lots of laughter, a few tears, and support without bounds. This was a place of few phone calls. That rare and MIRACULOUS call from editors or agents with neato-torpedo news was cause for more beverage and celebration.
This same core group of talented wannabe writers and authors transformed each other into established professionals. We are family, community, friends and sisters who champion each others success. Our local face-to-face meetings have become few and far between with some members moving away but staying connected via Internet and phone. Our annual Colorado trek renews us emotionally, physically and spiritually and has become that “golden carrot” that sustains us through the angst of day-to-day crappiocca.
It’s changed a bit since laptops and WIFI arrived. Leaving work behind takes extra effort. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be able to check email and stay connected to put out emergencies. But there’s only so much one can do from the mountaintop. That feeling of soul-soothing renewal comes so rarely and must last another 12 months, it hurts my heart and almost feels like blasphemy to interrupt with such things as . . .
Maybe this year I’ll turn off the WIFI.
Do you have a “golden carrot” place, real or virtual? How do you reward your hard work and diffuse the normal crappiocca? Here at home in hotter-than-hell Texas, I spend one-on-one time with the fur-kids, read my Kindle, play my cello, write music. What are your leisure joys? How do you feed your soul?
I missed posting Tuesday Tips, the next in the Kindle-ization series, and I’m HISSED OFF! You see, I have most all of that series done, and ready to go. They’re all on my laptop.
The laptop that DIED this week. Thpbpbpbpbpbpb! (that’s a virtual raspberry)
Actually, we suspect the battery ran dry–and it won’t run on just the plug. I’ve ordered a new battery, and hope for the best–but prepare for the worst. I guess the old laptop served well–letters on the keyboard had worn off and a couple of books were written on it including all the updates to the newly Kindle-ized titles. Come to think of it, that’s where I kept the final versions of the updated manuscripts.
I’m the person who always arrives early for meetings and circles the block until it’s not embarrassing to show up. With few exceptions, I meet or beat deadlines. And I angst and grow gray hairs and sprout crow’s feet lines when I can’t cross off each item as finished. These days, though, with 5-10 blogs a week plus two weekly columns and the puppies.About.com stuff–oh, and a co-written musical play to produce, fiction WIP, acting gigs– keeping all the eggs in the air without scrambling them on impact takes a toll.
So my blog schedule and backing up files fell to the bottom of the to-do list. Often I can get a few done early on weekends, but–well, over Memorial Day I actually shut off work and played with the Magical-Dawg and Seren-kitty! So I planned to post Tuesday’s blog on Tuesday morning (instead of days or at least the night before). Fortunately I had edited and uploaded the Ask Amy youtube videos for this week so yesterday’s Woof Wednesday and tomorrow’s Feline Friday are ready.
Just a week or so ago, one of my colleagues lamented the crash of her entire computer and loss of files. That was a wake-up call. I nearly subscribed to an online backup service but was instead convinced by my tech-guy husband to use thumb drives. So nearly all of the work on the !@#$%^&! laptop had been saved just a few days ago–but not the Ebooks and not the blog notes and content.
I can re-created it but at the moment the pity-party-whine-fest is much more satisfying. Oh, I quick-like-a-bunny bought a new laptop with higher speed, larger storage, and updated software. And I’ll get a few more of those thumb-drives and put it on my schedule for backups with more religious fervor.
How do you procrastinate? Has it ever bitten you in the ass-ets? What are your top reasons to THPBPBPB? Don’t be shy–vent away. And bookmark this blog to remind you what crappiocca can happen to derail even A-type go-go-go plan-ahead people like you and me!
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