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.


There Are How Many Types of Toothpaste??

Generally speaking, my husband does the grocery shopping and I do birthday/holiday/special event shopping.  It works out well since I’m an impulse shopper when I grocery shop and much more disciplined in other types of stores. I know it’s weird. However, for a variety of reasons, I have been forced to do some grocery shopping for my mother in the recent past. I am ready to retreat back to the cheese.

My mother told me that she needed some toothpaste. I asked what kind. She said she didn’t care. How hard could it be – I bought ours once in a while. Focused shopping for picking up “our” toothpaste did not prepare me for the full shelf of options I confronted. I do watch some TV so I knew that there was whitening toothpaste and freshening toothpaste, however, I did not understand the mathematical implications of it. Once you understand that toothpastes aim to be anti-cavity, anti-gingivitis, anti-plaque, anti-tartar, for sensitive teeth (those going through a painful break-up with your gums maybe?), breath freshening, and whitening and/or some combination of these, you start to get the idea. Additionally, there are special types with baking soda, peroxide, and mouthwash in them. There are also various strengths of whitening (we probably wouldn’t need that if Starbucks didn’t exist). Of course there are also multiple brands with multiple goals, and multiple brands which specialize in specific goals. After reading labels and comparing benefits (prices are surprisingly similar across all options), I finally came to a decision. I bought “our” toothpaste for my mother. Impulse shopping is dead in the toothpaste department.

Next she wanted “TV dinners”. The rest of the world is now calling this food frozen dinners, and there are two rows of freezers holding them. We don’t eat frozen food except vegetables and ice cream, so there was no “our” type. I’m not sure if Swanson exists anymore, but it certainly has generated an amazing array of spawn. There are “regular”, low-carb, low-fat, gluten-free sections. You can get meals, entrees alone, or rice bowls. You can get spicy or various types of seasoned entrees. You can get “individual”, regular, or “hardy” portions. There are at least ten different brands (although I suspect most of them are owned by two or three large conglomerates like all other food).  You can bake, microwave or steam (which is also done in the microwave). You can get chicken, turkey, beef, pasta, shrimp, or fish. I go back and forth, back and forth. Ten minutes later, I have made a few selections.

On to dairy. I know what type of milk she drinks (between no-fat, 1/2%, 1%, 2%, and regular, lactose-free, soy, almond, and whatever else I avoided looking at). Yogurt was another issue. I really haven’t bought any since I was pregnant and was totally unprepared. Greek or barbarian? (I have no idea what non-Greek yogurt is called.) No fat, low fat, full fat? Chunks of fruit or blended? Then I looked further down the line – apple pie, chocolate eclair, Boston creme pie, espresso. Wherever it started, yogurt has made its complete transformation to being an American food – you can buy it in a form that is in no way related to the way it was originally made or tasted. I took a deep breath, bought 0% fat Greek yogurt in berry flavors, and hoped for the best. I also bought coconut for myself (they didn’t have that flavor when I was pregnant) – it was yummy.

OK – 1/2 hour in and I’ve only checked off four things. This is not optimal, as Bucky Katt (Darby Conley’s extremely perceptive cartoon feline) would say. Oh good, I see the next few things are in produce. I just need to decide between organic and “regular”. I had not realized how negative the word ‘regular’ had become in food until this trip. Things are going well until I get to the lettuce. I refuse to buy iceberg lettuce. Mixed with other greens, I really like the crunchiness, but it doesn’t have any flavor to me. So I decide to go to the lettuce section (I didn’t realize there was a lettuce section before this trip). There was romaine, red leaf, green leaf, locally grown (on some corporate farm, no doubt) red and green, and living (it came in a plastic clamshell and you could extend its life by watering the base). I’m sure there were some others, but my brain stopped processing. I picked something that looked fresh and escaped.

I now understand why they are called ‘super’ markets. I also understand why my husband finds a food we like and sticks with it. I spent an hour shopping for ten items. I hope my mother likes them.


You Call THAT Food?

I know that I am getting old when I am surprised by some of what is available at the store:

Chicken and Waffle-flavored potato chips – people are really upset because they really taste like syrup. When did chicken and waffles become condiments rather than main dishes?

Spray cooking oil that contains flour – are there really that many people out there baking who don’t have enough spare flour on hand to coat the pan?

Pancake batter in a spray can – I guess it goes along with the pre-cooked bacon for those mornings you want a home-cooked breakfast but only have 15 minutes to get out the door.

Instant potatoes in a carton – all you do is add water, shake the carton, and pour the potatoes into the pan. Is that really an improvement over putting the flakes and water into a pan and cooking them? Does your dishwasher care that it has one fewer spoon in it?

Pre-made cheesecake filling – it says just pour it in a crust and you’re done. I’ve never tasted it, but I’m told it tastes fake. What a surprise for something that has virtually no natural ingredients in it.

Pre-cubed and cracker-cut cheese – unless you’re having a major party, it is going to be fresher (and cheaper) if you cut it yourself – but it won’t be as “cute” (just the word I look for in food)

Velveeta has become an industry – At one point in time, it’s claim to fame was that it melted smoother than cheddar. Apparently it didn’t melt fast enough, because they introduced Velveeta shreds. Then pre-melted Velveeta in foil that you just squeeze onto the food. All this for a product that is trying to convince us that it’s “real” cheese.

Imitation process cheese – process cheese is the step-child of cheese which lasts longer and melts more easily – imitation takes it one more step and removes the cheese entirely – really

No-fat, lactose free milk – it begs the question – once you’ve taken out the fat and the lactose is it still milk? Would any self-respecting cow still feed it to her child? There are all sorts of alternatives that are low-fat and lactose-free: soy, almond, coconut. Why not go for something with flavor and that you can’t see though if you hold it up to the light?

Phyllo dough has become filo dough – apparently we’re too dumbed-down to recognize it unless it’s spelled phonetically. Some people stick with “puff pastry”.

Neopolitan oreos – I thought it was wrong when they made mint oreos, but this is too far – there is no need for three types of filling in a cookie that most people could eat in two bites (and according to the commercials, only part of us take off the top to look at the creme anyway). Put it back where it belongs – in ice cream.

Girl-scout cookie flavored coffee creamer (with no cream) – I guess that coffee has gone from being something people wanted to drink because they like the taste to something that needs to be covered in sweetness so we can gag it down for the energy.

Pre-made iced tea – no not the stuff Lipton has been putting out since they figured out preservatives. Now you can get gallons of the stuff. I suppose it’s more important to save five minutes (and avoid digging out the pitcher) than to make than to flavor it to the tastes of the guests.

All of this ranting comes to you courtesy of the two people in one week who asked me to point out the “real” cheddar cheese. I thought they meant non-processed cheese product. No, they didn’t want sharp cheddar, they wanted real cheddar, the mild kind. It’s a good thing they weren’t around a while back, before “real” cheddar was invented.