Tito’s Guide to Cats: Drinking water

MeeMEE! I just learned something about my fellow kitties. We really know how to maximize physics when we drink water.

From the Washington Post

While a dog curls its tongue like a ladle to collect the water and then pull up what it can, a cat curves its tongue under and slightly back, leaving the top surface of the tip of the tongue to lightly touch the liquid. The cat then raises its tongue rapidly, creating an upward mini-stream of water. The cat snaps its mouth shut and the water is captured before the countervailing force of gravity pulls it down.
An average house cat, the team found, can make four of these mini-streams per second.

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Tito’s Guide to Cats: Art and neighbors

MeeMom and dad have lived in our apartment for 8 years. Most of that time, they had the same neighbors. The neighbors were very nice. Whenever they had a party they would bring food. The food was great. Earlier this year they bought their own home. We miss them a lot, but mom and dad go visit them. On one of the visits, their granddaughter drew a couple pics of me and my brother. Mom keeps them on the refrigerator. I thought I would share them with you today.

Cat art by Jasmine
More cat art by Jasmine

Tito’s Guide to Cats: Disabilities


Today, I want to talk about disabilities. I want you to understand that if your pet becomes blind, deaf, or can’t walk anymore, that it doesn’t have to mean euthanasia. Veterinary medicine has come a long way. If surgery is not an option for a pet that can’t walk, there are carts and wheelchairs available. Don’t give up before trying.

You see, humans don’t give up on other humans. Please don’t give up on us. Cats and dogs love their people whether or not they are  disabled. You should love them just the same. Some people say it’s cruel to put a cat or dog in a wheelchair. I say pppptttthhhhhhrrrrppppp! If we aren’t in pain or hungry and we have someone to love us, then we’re happy.

Did you know that an incontinent dog or cat can wear a diaper if you cut a hole for their tail? If you only knew how many animals were abandoned at shelters because of that problem. It’s usually a death sentence as they are the first ones euthanized. If you have a special needs dog or cat, try to explore ALL the options before making a decision. Pets don’t feel sorry for themselves. They just want to be loved and taken care of.

If you are creative, you can make your own. Here are a couple of kitty wheels.

Kitty and the pvc cart. This cat did not completely lose the use of his hind legs. This cart helped him get around and behaved like therapy. He slowly regained the use of his legs. I’m not sure this cart would be good for a kitty with absolutely no use in his/her hind legs.

Scooter, was injured as a kitten and suffered a broken vertebrae and paralysis of his hind quarters. His human is veterinarian, Betsy Kinnon and she saved him after he was rushed in to the vet hospital in shock. This is his first cart. It is made of a plastic box and a part of a three-wheeled planter.

HandicappedPets.com has more ideas for DIY doggie carts. They can be adapted for cats too. You can see them here.

As for Scooter, the clients at the pet hospital donated the money to get him a brand new custom made cart. In addition, Scooter is now a therapy kitty at the local rehab hospital. He has a good life because someone didn’t give up on him and gave him a chance to shine. I know my family would do the same for me. Here’s Scooter in his brand new wheels.  As you can see, he’s wearing a diaper to prevent accidents.

I feel that if you adopt a pet, you are promising to take care of that pet and do what is right. If you can’t do the right thing and take care of them, then don’t adopt. If you find yourself suddenly dealing with a pet disability and you are disabled or going through hard times, then look for help. Many times, a shelter or vet can help place an animal. It’s better than just dumping them at a shelter. There’s a vast amount of resources on the internet, so put it to use. HandicappedPets.com has a lot to offer. They also have free classifies.

One more site to mention is Pets with Disabilities.  This is a small, non profit rescue shelter for disabled pets. They do wonderful work. In addition to listing their own rescues that need adopting, they also permit courtesy listings for disabled dogs and courtesy listings for disabled cats. As this site is non-profit, do give to them if you can.

Mee! That’s all for today. For now, go give your pet some scritchies and think about how much they mean to you.

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Tito’s Guide to Cats

MeeMee! Communicating with your cat

House cats are almost never vocal with each other. They do talk to their humans though as humans aren’t as good at reading body language and scents. We talk to our people when we want something. We have lots of different sounds we can make.

We can purr, meow, or chirrup. I say MEE! and chirrup and purr. My brother says a lot more. He also makes a clacking sound when he sees birds outside. He says Hmrao a lot. He also yells and says mazuzu whang? I think that is his new name.

There are some forms of body language that are important to know. If we are walking with our tail held high, we are happy. If our pupils are dilated, it means we’re angry or want to play. If you are petting us and our pupils dilate, it’s time to stop.

Our body language says a lot. You can tell if we’re happy or if we’re not happy. Since humans aren’t good at body language, we’ve learned to make the sounds necessary to get what we want. Even the doggies are better at reading our body language than most humans.

Yawning cat

Did you know that if I look at you, close my eyes, and yawn, that I’m NOT bored? It’s a sign of contentment. If you look at me, close your eyes and yawn, I’ll probably come to you right away. Also, I’m sure you noticed that we always run to the one human in the room that doesn’t like cats. That’s because they don’t stare at us. Staring is considered rude in cat society and is frowned upon. For us, staring is a sign of aggression.

Our body and voice language vary from human to human. One meow may sound totally different to another. We vary our language because we have to learn what each human reacts to. Our way of saying “I’m hungry” may sound one way for you and totally different for someone else. You have to pay attention and watch us in order to learn. 

We’re not as indifferent as some people think we are. People think that we ignore and disdain them. It’s not true. Sure, we don’t always get lovey on command, but when we love our humans, we love them.

I’m not a lap kitty. I love my humans, but I’m too nervous to stay on a lap for more than a few seconds. It’s ok. My humans know that for me, sitting on the floor works best. When they do that, I get very lovey.

My last comment is that I’m terrified of shoes. I don’t know why. My humans brought me home from the shelter when I was a kitten and they have NEVER treated me badly or kicked me. When they come home from shopping, I hide under the futon until they change and take their shoes off. Only then do I come out of hiding. My humans understand and take their shoes off right away. They have figured out a lot of my body language. They had to. I don’t say much other than MEE!

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Tito’s Guide to Cats

MeeMee! Introducing your new cat to your home

We kitties don’t like change. Change is very scary to us.

When you bring home your new cat, put them in a quiet room with food, water, litterbox, toys and scratching post. This room should have a door that closes. The safe room gives your cat time to adjust to the change of location and makes them feel much more safe. Make sure to spend a lot of time with them. It may take a couple of days before they come out of hiding.

This is especially important if you have another cat in the house. If you already have a cat, this change is as scary for them as for the new kitty. With the new cat in the safe room, the original kitty can sniff at the door. You may see and hear a lot of hissing and whatnot. It’s normal. Follow the guidelines I discuss below and it should be ok. If it doesn’t work the first time, just start over again.

The Boober and Tito

When mom and dad brought me home, they put me in a safe room. It’s a good thing as I’m a very nervous kitty. I have a few phobias as a result. Anyhow, The Boober, who already lived there wasn’t happy and he hissed at me at lot. It was good to have a door in between us. It took about 3 days before he quit hissing and I wasn’t as scared. After that, mom took me out to the other room in the carrier to spend a bit more time with everyone. The Boober hissed a bit more. After two days of that, he quit hissing and was friendly. Mom and dad turned me loose in the apartment after that and The Boober and I became the bestest friends. I miss him.
After The Boober passed away, my folks brought Kitsy home. They knew I was lonesome without a brother. Like me, he had a safe room. He only spent one night there. I wasn’t upset to have a new cat in the apartment and Kitsy wasn’t scared. I was a bit wary, but I wasn’t scared or angry. Within a day, we were good friends.

Tito and Kitsune

In conclusion, my biggest advice is to have patience. Patience will mean having a much better adjusted cat (or cats). Otherwise, sudden changes can lead to behavior problems and that’s no fun at all.

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Tito’s Guide to Cats

MeeMee! Prepping for the arrival of your new cat.

Now that you have cat/kitten proofed your home, it’s time to think about other things.

If you already have a kitty and are adding another, you’ll want to use the same food you have now. Just remember to find out what your new cat has been eating in the shelter or cattery. You will want some of it so that you can change the food gradually. A sudden change can cause tummy aches and diarrhea.

Kitsy and I have a bowl of dry food available and we’re free-feeders. Mom doesn’t have to measure because we’re not over eaters. Some kitties will over eat though, so watch out for that. Mom measured my food when she and dad first brought me home. When they realized that I was ok with free-feeding, they just kept a bowl full of food.

Cats are obligate carnivores.  Please do not put them on a vegetarian diet.  Be sure to look for a food that does NOT have grains listed as one of the first three ingredients.  These a just empty carbs that are not processed well by the kitty.

You will also want to think about litter boxes and litter. My brother, Kitsy, isn’t always coordinated with his box when he poops and misses sometimes. They got us a covered box and it helps a lot. A covered box is good, but requires constant cleaning as it holds in the smell. It’s also a good rule to have at least one box per kitty. The best is 3 boxes for two cats, but we do fine with just two.

Warning! If your kitty begins peeing outside the box in an inappropriate place, it may not be bad behavior.   Many times, it’s a urinary tract infection.  If this happens, take kitty to the vet right away.  Many cats are given back to shelters because of this, when simple treatment for UTI will cure it.   Spaying and neutering also helps prevent this problem.

Never flush your cat litter. Squidoo has a page with good info on why it’s bad to flush cat litter.

According to Squidoo

Did you know that cat crap can give sea otters a potentially deadly disease if it is not disposed of properly? This is a major issue for sea otters along the California coast as well as river otters, but one that most people have never heard about.

Let’s talk about why cat crap stinks.  There’s pretty solid evidence that Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite that attacks the brains of sea otters, is transmitted through cat feces. (This is the same parasite that can cause birth defects in humans, so pregnant women should stay away from poopy kitty litter boxes too!).

When feces is flushed down the toilet, it goes to the sewage treatment plant with all the other feces in the sewer system. You would think that this parasite would be killed as the waste water is treated, but it survives! Toxoplasma gondii is one tough hombre and isn’t affected by sewage treatment process.

I know this doesn’t matter to a lot of you who don’t live near the sea, but it’s still good knowledge to have.  In addition, flushing the scoopable litter can wind up plugging up your pipes, especially if they’re old.

Mom and dad use scoopable litter, but they don’t flush it.  We live in San Francisco and there have been lots of sick sea otters here.  We don’t want to add to the problem.

I do hope all you moms to be saw the bit about staying away from the litterbox.  No litterbox cleaning until AFTER the baby.  Be safe please.  Ask your partner to take care of it.

I have one more litter suggestion.  It’s not the cheapest litter, but it’s one of the best.  It’s called Feline Pine . The scoopable is messy. The pellets are very good. All you do is put in the litter and then put a one inch layer of the old litter on top until the kitties start using it. They won’t, otherwise. The pellets turn to sawdust as they collect the urine. We use a sifting litter box. This litter is great as there was NO ammonia smell from the urine. There is also no clay dust.

Oops, I have a disclaimer. I won’t recommend ANYTHING unless I really like it. Right now, no one is sending us samples or anything. If they do, it will have to be with the knowledge that if I don’t like it, I will say so. I will also donate anything (if possible) to local shelters.

Well, that’s it for now.

MEE! I’ll have more later..!

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Tito’s Guide to Cats

MeeMEE! My first column was about where to find your new cat.

Today, I’ll talk about things you need to do before you get your kitty. I’m hoping that you plan to keep your cat indoors. Outside is full of dangers for them.

If you are thinking of declawing your kitty, then don’t adopt one please. Just imagine having your fingers cut off at the first knuckle. It can cause permanent problems and leaves your cat defenseless. Kitsy and I have our claws. We use our scratching post, though once in a while we’re naughty and scratch the futon.  Mom makes sure she keeps our nails clipped.

There are a great many things in a home that can be dangerous to cats. A lot of houseplants are poisonous. For a complete list of poisonous plants for dogs and cats, visit the ASPCA for a toxic plant list.

While most people know that chocolate is bad for pets, not as many realize that there is a far more dangerous food ingredient. Xylitol is the main ingredient in sugar-free foods. It can be deadly, so keep all food with this ingredient out of reach of all cats and dogs. You can find out about Xylitol and more at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

Now for the rest of the cat-proofing.

  • Make sure all dangling wires and cords are out of reach. If necessary, get some Bitter Apple at the pet store. You can wipe the electrical cords with it. It prevents chewing. Yes, cats will chew.
  • Make sure all meds and make-ups are in a cupboard away from kitty.
  • Check all the nooks where a vacuum can’t reach for bits of string or rubber-bands. These can block the intestine if swallowed.

  • Put all breakable knick-knacks away for a while so that they don’t get broken.
  • Recliners and rocking chairs can be dangerous for a cat. My mom’s rocker sits in the corner and has stuffed animals on it. That way no one can sit on it and rock over a tail. Ouchie. We sleep on it.

  • When doing laundry, always check the dryer before starting and keep the lid to the washer closed at all times.
  • Make sure that you have a scratching post available before you bring your kitty home. It will help protect your furniture.
  • If you have expensive furniture, consider a good cover for them. The scratching post will help, but even so, kitty claws can be bad for them. Merely jumping on the furniture can be a problem.

These are just a few suggestions.  Look around and I’m sure you’ll see other things to do.

Next time I’ll tell you how to introduce your new kitty to your home.

MEE!  Goodbye for now.

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Tito’s Guide to cats

MeeMee! You want to get a kitty huh?

Before I say anything else, please-please-please never buy a cat or dog from a pet store. No reputable breeder will ever sell to a pet store. Only the puppy and kitten mills do that. Mills are horrifyingly bad places for dogs and cats. Don’t support them. Around here, pet stores are not allowed to sell cats and dogs.

If you already have one, you know the drill. If you don’t, then you need to do a bit of research. Do you want a kitten? Is a full grown cat better for you? Are you away from home a lot of the time? Cats are as varied as people. Some need more company than others. Some are more independent. Some are outgoing and some are timid. You have to match a kitty to your personality and home.

Kittens are wonderful and cute, but there are a great many adult cats who need a good home. The shelter is a very good place to look. If it’s a purebred you want, the shelter is still a good place to look. There are also purebred rescue groups. Granted, the kitty will be spayed or neutered, but unless you plan on breeding it’s for the best. My brother and I are both neutered. We have less health and behavioral issues that way. We’re good kitties. Well, Kitsy isn’t: he’ll steal your food when you aren’t looking.

I came from the San Francisco SPCA

This is my baby picture

Tito baby pic

Dad found my picture at the SFSPCA’s website. He sent the pic to mom. Then they came to meet me. It was love at first sight.

I was a bit scared when I first got home

Tito scared

Now I’m all grown up. I’m not much of a talker. I say MEE! sometimes, but I’m fairly quiet most of the time unlike my naked brother. He yells all the time. I’m also a nervous kitty. If you wear shoes in the apartment, I hide. If you move furniture, I hide. My mom and dad love me anyway.

I’m a good example of why shelters are such great places.

If you truly feel the need to get a purebred and can’t find one at a rescue group, then you need to research catteries.

A good cattery will be located in the breeders home. You should be able to go and meet your kitty and the breeders. Never pay for a cat you haven’t met yet, unless it’s a deposit on kitten not yet born. A really good breeder will want to meet you and see how you are with the kitties. You will also want to meet the breeders to be sure that reputable and loving when it comes to breeding their cats. Right now, with the economy in such a mess, a lot of catteries have stopped breeding and closed.

The Cat Fancier’s Association glossary describes a cattery this way.

CATTERY – A name registered by a breeder to identify their line of breeding. A registered cattery name always appears as a prefix to the name of the cat bred by that cattery/breeder.

CATTERY REPORT – A listing of all individually registered cats bred by a particular cattery/breeder. The computerized print-out gives cat names, numbers, litter numbers, birthdates, CH/GR points, and owner names. The list is guaranteed complete only with those cats that were registered after 1978, and is available only to the registered cattery owner.

Well, well, well, I guess that’s my advice for the day.

Oops, I almost forgot something. Kitties do better in pairs. If you have room for one, please consider two. They keep each other company and the playtime keeps them exercised.


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