24

Notes from Snoops and Kommando Kitty

Greetings from Snoops and Kommando Kitty. It’s been a while since we’ve written a post ourselves, so we thought we’d share some thoughts. It’s been really hot here, and the house doesn’t have air conditioning, so there won’t be anything too exciting.

Our human brother finished our catio a few weeks ago. We were just getting used to it when the heat set in. Mom has refused to install a fan, so it’s a little humid at the moment. Now we need to get them to reroute the traffic. It’s pretty quiet most of the time, but there’s something called “rush hour” when cars use the road.

Cat TV hasn’t been as interesting as we hoped. Mom doesn’t have a bird feeder in the summer because she can’t keep the squirrels out long enough for the birds to get to the food. We don’t really understand why she can’t just feed the squirrels. They’re fun to watch too. We have seen a couple of hummingbirds. Maybe we could get her a book on how to attract really interesting stuff. Perhaps a wildebeest.

Mom seems to be a little on edge lately. We’ve been trying to help her watch videos to relax, but she has really bad taste (they’re all about humans). Then she gets upset when we stop the video or stand in front of it to keep her from seeing what is going on. Maybe we should get our own Netflix account. That way we could find the good stuff for her.

Our human nephew is getting bigger – and louder. We’ve never been around small humans before and hope that Mom doesn’t intend to make any permanent additions to the household. There doesn’t seem to be a mute button on him the way there is on the computer and television.

We’re rather disappointed. We keep hearing about cicadas, but still haven’t seen any. The ants that have gotten into the house are boring. The humans saw recipes online, so they must be good for snacking. They don’t let any other insects in here to chase, but there’s supposed to be a lot of cicadas so maybe a few can sneak in.

Our human brother has been cleaning out the pantry. He says he’s going to make it easier for Snoops to catch any mice that get in there. We’re looking forward to whatever he comes up with. In the meantime, he’s unearthed some treats that got buried. We’ve decided that he can be pretty useful, and we should keep him around.

 

Have you guys been shedding extra this year? We got rid of our winter fur a few weeks ago, but the heat wave seems to have released a new bunch. We don’t really mind, but Mom says that fur in her face is more annoying in the humidity than the rest of the year. Like we said, she’s seemed a little grumpy lately. (Probably the heat.)

That’s it for us. Hope everyone’s having a good summer so far. Purrs and head rubs.

 

17

Tummy Time with Thunder K. Katt

Greetings! Welcome to Tummy Time with Thunder! In today’s blog, I’m going to educate our humans on feline tummy facts- from digestion to fur, it’ll all be here! Before we get started, I must make a disclaimer for any kitties who’s humans have a human kitten- humans have a very weird idea of “tummy time”. It is not, in fact, a time where you place your human kitten on their tummy so they learn to crawl. I’m not pawsitive how this misconception became widespread, but I’ve had to break my humans of this habit- so I thought I’d let everyone else know prior to developing weird ideas. With that being said, let’s jump in so we can learn more wonderful facts about us already beautiful creatures!

First thing first: all cats love eating. My purrsonal motto is eat, nap, play. However, as with any creature, there are good things to feed your kitty, and foods that could harm us. Some treats to give us include fish (tuna needs to be given in limited quantities); chicken; beef; liver (in limited quantities); eggs; berries; bananas; melons; apples (make sure there are no seeds on the apple); sweet potatoes; carrots; lettuce; squash (including pumpkin); green beans; and zucchini. Foods you want to avoid giving your feline friend are lactose based foods (kittens being the exception; kittens need milk for the first three weeks of their lives); raw fish; bones; alcohol; stone fruits (such as peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines, or plums); caffeine; citrus; grapes and raisins; garlic; onion; chocolate; potatoes; raw bread dough; macadamia nuts; mushrooms; fat trimmings; and xylitol (a sweetener found in some peanut butters, gums, and sodas). If you want to give your kitty a dairy like treat, opt for dairy flavored cat treats, or cat milk. Most cats do not have taste buds that can comprehend the sweet flavor, so don’t feel obligated to provide sweet foods for your cat unless they’ve established a liking for them. 

Cats are obligate carnivores, and should not fast (if anyone tries to get their cat to fast, that just seems evil. Mom let our dry food run out for a whole work shift one time, and we almost starved to death). Although cats can have some veggies and grains, their diets should consist primarily of meat. 

Now, I’m going to talk about the actual digestive system and process of us cats. Though our process is undoubtedly superior to humans, there are some intricacies that everyone should be aware of that I’ll highlight here. 

The digestive system of a cat consists of seven parts: the mouth; esophagus; stomach; duodenum (which is a fancy way of saying gallbladder, pancreas, and liver); small intestine; large intestine; and rectum. The duodenum absorbs what can not be digested through the stomach and intestines, including bacteria, fats, sugars, and proteins. These components are either stored and converted into insulin, or discarded as waste. The average time a cat takes to digest a meal is around 20 hours.

Cats don’t chew in a sense typical to humans; though our jaws can open much wider than a human jaw, it cannot move from side to side, an essential part to how humans chew. Instead, cats grab chunks of food with their tongues, and use their tongue and saliva to shred the chunks of food. Once the shredded food is in our tummies, our stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve bones; therefore, we mostly digest liquid. 

Cats are unable to synthesize certain required nutrients, including fatty acids, taurine, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Because of this, cats require a higher level of protein in their diets, because proteins break down into 11 essential amino acids, including taurine. A lack of taurine can lead to retinal degeneration and heart issues. 

Cats don’t have the ability to store carbohydrates like humans do. Because of this, crude fats, fatty acids, and fibers are vital to moving the digestive process along, including nutrient distribution. 

Cats are hunters, not scavengers. This means we prefer fresh foods, and why we turn our noses up at aged offerings. Additionally, cats are experts at knowing what nutrients their bodies need, and we will select or reject food based off of these needs. We’re not being finicky- we’re being healthy! 

The last (and best) part of my blog is going to be focusing on our beautiful tummies and furs! If a cat shows you their tummy, this means they trust you completely. The highest degree of this compliment is if we fall asleep tummy side up- this means we are so comfortable around you and our environment, that we trust you to keep us safe from any dangers- including protecting the vital organs that lay just beneath the surface of our tummy skins. Please keep in mind, even if a cat shows you their tummy, this does not mean they want tummy rubs! If you’re heart set on rubbing that furry tummy, please come in from the side, as a direct swoop down can mimic an attack to cats. 

You may have noticed a low hanging furry pouch from your cat’s tummy, near their hind legs. This isn’t a result of too many treats- this is called a primordial pouch. This pouch is made of excess skin and fat, and is used to not only store food, but can also provide extra protection, and facilitate stretching and movement. Breeds more likely to have these pouches are cats used to cold weather, and Pixie Bobs, Egyptian Maus, Persians, Japanese Bobtails, and Bengals. 

Like humans, cats can have different textures and lengths of furs on our tummies (as well as the rest of our body). Some cats have curly furs, while others have straight. Breed and length of fur contribute to whether or not your tummy furs curl or not; the longer the fur, the more likely you are to curl. Heat and humidity also contribute to this. 

The only time you should notice your cat losing tummy fur is if it’s excessively hot, if your cat is pregnant or lactating, or if your cat is aging (this typically happens between 10-15 years of age). If you notice fur loss outside of these reasons, or if your cat is losing fur rapidly or in patches, get your cat to a vet. You should never notice a bald or thin spot on your cat’s tummy. 

This concludes Tummy Time with Thunder! Hopefully you learned a little about our tummies, both the inside and out! And remember, if your cat doesn’t like tummy rubs, feel free to swing by Michigan; my sister, Gypsy, and I happen to love tummy rubs, and will take all you can give! 

Furs and purrs,

Thunder K. Katt.

17

Cat Forum: Fur, Beautiful Fur

 

Darlin’ give me a body with fur, long beautiful fur

Shining, gleaming, streaming, flaxen, waxen

Fur, fur. Fur, fur, fur, fur, fur, fur

Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my fur.

Fur, fur, fur, fur, fur, fur, fur, fur

Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my fur.

Fur, fur, fur, fur, fur, fur, fur, fur

Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my fur.

Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my fur.

Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my fur.

Flow it, show it, long as I can grow it, my fur.

With apologies to “Hair”. You can hear the original Broadway version here.

Image result for furry cats

Kommando: Why does it say “Apologies to Hair?” It’s about fur.

Snoops: It was originally about human hair.

Kommando: Why would anyone write a song about that? It’s disgusting.

Snoops: They wrote a whole play about it according to Mom.

Kommando: Humans are so weird. It’s not like it even covers their whole bodies. You have to look at all that disgusting skin.

Snoops: Seriously. Those pores and bumps. And those marks when they fall down.

Kommando: Yeah. And when they bleed. Ugh. Revolting.

Snoops: That’s why we’re talking about fur today.

Kommando: Pawsome!

Image result for peterbald cats

First, we are identified by the type of coat we have. There are hairless, short-haired, and long-haired.

Hairless – Hairless cats are not hairless (but they are cats). They are covered with very fine hair that feels like suede. Hairless cats are actually quite a bit of work. They have to be bathed regularly to remove some of the oil from their skin (the rest of us have fur to do it). Also, these cats shouldn’t be outside in cold weather (no coat). And they sunburn (Don’t put aloe on it; it’s poison to cats). Examples include the Sphynx and Peterbald.

Image result for bengal cats

Short-haired – These cats are low-maintenance. The fur is no more than 1.5 inches long and requires very little brushing. Examples are the British Shorthair, the Burmese, the Manx, the Bengal, and the Savannah.

Image result for maine coon cats

Long-haired – These cats are furballs with feet. Their fur is longer than 1.5 inches, but it can grow up to 5 inches long. They require a lot of brushing, and they shed year-round. They are also prone to coughing up hairballs. Examples are the Maine Coon, the Ragdoll, and the Persian.

Now we move on to colors and patterns. As many varieties of patterns there are, cats are limited to 8 colors: white, black, red/ginger, bluish/gray, cream, brown, cinnamon, fawn. If cats were good at math, we’d tell you how many combinations that is; we’re not, so it’s lots.

Image result for solid color cats

Solid/Self Color – These cats are easy to spot, if you can find one. If there are furs of other color (any furs), they are not a solid.

Image result for bi-color cats

Bi-Color – a base of white with patches of color. There are many variations: random, random with colored tail, colored head and back, and between the ears and a colored tail.

Image result for tabby cats

Tabby – the most common patter in domestic cats; they are striped or marbled. The markings trace back to the ancestral wild cats. There are four sub-groups:

Striped or Mackerel – vertical stripes running from spine to belly.

Classic or Blotched – no distinct stripes, but a marbled effect.

Spotted – Spots instead of stripes.

Ticked – Each hair is more than one color, often with striped legs and tail.

Image result for tortoiseshell cats

Tortoiseshell – they come in a variety of shades. The most common is gingery-red and black; the lightest is blue-grey and cream (diluted). Sometimes the colors are mixed/brindled and sometimes they are in patches.

Image result for torbie cats

Torbie – a mixture of tabby and tortie. The markings are a mix a blend of tabby and tortoiseshell.

Image result for calico cats

Tri-Color/Calico – a mixture of gingery red, black, and white in any variation. They dilute down to grey, cream and white.

Image result for color point cats

Color Point – one color, but darker on the face, paws, and tail; the parts that are the coolest.

Kommando: Gee. I had no idea that fur was so complicated. Imagine if we each got to pick out our own coat. The line would go on forever while cats looked at samples.

Snoops: That is a very strange idea. Even from you. But there’s more. Some cats only have a top coat. That’s the longer guard hair. Others have that and an undercoat. The undercoat is very fine and cottony; excellent insulation. Those are the cats that don’t mind being outside in the winter.

Image result for double coated cats

Kommando: We have double coats, and we don’t like cold weather.

Snoops: Good point. I guess fur is only part of it.

Kommando: These cats are all beautiful. I guess that’s the advantage of being a cat.

Snoops: Very true. We’re all gorgeous.

Kommando: Of course, the best looking are the bi-color with random black spots.

Snoops: Not even close. It’s the classic calico.

Kommando: Bi-color!

Snoops: Tri-color!

Kommando & Snoops: Mom! We need you!

Image result for cats playing

 

Pictures courtesy of Google Images.

3

How Do You Vacuum a Cat?

I really hate what aging is doing to my body. Particularly my sinuses. Probably not the part you were expecting, but I don’t know you well enough to be any more intimate.

When I was in high school, my best friend had allergies. It seemed like she was miserable all the time. Mainly it was the usual suspects: ragweed, pollen, goldenrod. She was also allergic to dogs and cats. One of her concerns was that she really wanted an Old English Sheepdog, but she couldn’t breathe around them. I think the breathing finally won out. Just as well. I read that those dogs have to be brushed daily, preferably at least twice a day. If they’re talking about using a utensil, that’s as much as I brush mine.

I tried to be sympathetic, but it was useless. I had no idea what it was like to be that miserable just because the weather changed. So I did the typical teenage thing. I congratulated myself on not needing to carry what seemed like a whole box of tissues in my purse. And finding somewhere to dispose of them.

A few years after college, I got severe headaches, and the doctors couldn’t figure out why. If I were a doctor, I’d want to be a dermatologist – no emergencies and the problem is right there, sitting on the skin.

I finally went to an allergist. She did that obnoxious test were they turn your back into a chess board and use a tiny needle to inject certain allergens. Turns out there were no major problems, but I did react to some trees, grasses, mold – and cats.

That day, when I got home, my husband had a surprise for me. The cutest little (4 weeks old) kitten. She lived with us for twenty-two years with no problems. Hah! Shows what that test was worth.

As the years went by, I had more and more trouble breathing around mold. We have an old house and the basement has leaked around the foundation off and on. Seems to be some grumpy gremlin around the base of the house. At first, I only noticed the problem when I used the treadmill. Now I can feel it just going down there. Is that a great excuse for not using the treadmill or what?

Then it was cut grass. Then other things growing around me. I am still no where near my friend’s level of discomfort. Lucky for you – otherwise, you would have heard me whining about it a long time ago.

But it was still pretty obnoxious a couple of years ago when they started putting cut flowers in the cheese cooler before big flower holidays (Easter, Mother’s Day). When I opened the cooler this week and saw them (they had slunk in the night before), I groaned. Sure enough, my eyes watered and got swollen and my nose ran for hours. They’d been storing up their nasty little histamines all night to get me.

But the absolute worst happened a few weeks ago. I was wearing a fleece jacket and it was getting more and more uncomfortable to breathe. I looked down and it was covered with cat hair. That can’t be it – I’m not allergic to cats. I took off the jacket and could breathe again. Oh no, I thought, not the kitties.

It was shedding season. Kommando Kitty (who has adopted me as her main human) is a cross between a Siamese and something Siberian, I’m sure. She has medium short hair that molds against her body. And more of it than I have seen on any cat except my parents’ Norwegian Forest cat. She even has fur between her toes. And it’s really fine fur – sticks to everything.

I would brush her whenever we sat together. Did wonders for her coat; not so much for my sinuses. As you might imagine, I was distraught. It was the first time I had a problem around any animal and it was mine! She cuddles in my arms every night before she goes to the foot of the bed. She watches TV on my lap.

My family laughed at me because it was “my” cat who was giving me problems. The calico seemed to be hypo-allergenic. Until I brushed her and got the fur all over me.

All you cat people probably know that cats are at their friendliest during shedding season. The loose fur itches and they want to get rid of it, preferably all over you. You skirtch them and get handfuls of fur. You brush them and empty the brush multiple times before it comes back fur-free.

We had a cat that I would brush downstairs before going to bed. We’d go upstairs and when I scratched her back, I still got handfuls of fur. This would go on for days. Then magically stop. The biggest problem was the amount of fur in the trash. It looked like we were trying to grow a new cat.

I was still totally traumatized by my new affliction when I realized it had stopped. Kommando continues to rub her face against me, but my sinuses are clear. That’s weird – everyone knows that allergies to cats are caused by their dander, not the furs themselves.

But as you know, I’m a little unique. Apparently the allergy is not very severe. It only activates when I look like a yeti in cat fur. I’ll wait until fall to test my theory. The cats shed the summer fur in the fall to get in their winter furs, so it’s not as severe. If I’m OK between now and then but start to react, I’ll know I’m right.

If that’s the problem, I have a choice between shaving them and vacuuming them during shedding season. Obviously, cleaning my clothes after brushing is not an option. That is a lot of work. Bathing isn’t an option. I’d have to do it daily for two weeks. I need my blood.

Same issue with shaving. Both the cat and I would need a transfusion at the end. Me from her teeth and claws. Her from me trying to shave her. Besides, it took Kommando several months to grow back her fur after she was fixed. Guess it’s hard to get all those furs through the skin at the same time. She’d just get furry in time to get shaved again. And she’d look funny.

So vacuuming it is. It may be a little tricky. They both hate the vacuum cleaner. Maybe I can use the little ones they have  for computers. Probably not, I think those blow air not suck it in.

Hmmmm. Think I’ll stick with the theory that they just spent too much time in the basement with the mold this spring.