Author Archive

5 Ways to Fundraise for Felines

When it comes to advocating for cats at The Cat Network, we think the more creative, the better! We’ve listed five pet-friendly ways to raise money for the felines we care for. 

  1. Pet Photo Day: Become a photographer for the day, and set up a “studio” at your location of choice! Bring in some props for the photos–yarn, toys (the options are endless!) and charge per photo. Charge for photos, but consider offering printed merchandise as well! Who wouldn’t want a t-shirt or coffee mug with their cat’s face on it?
  2. Pet Bake Sale: Not only do we love sweet treats, but our feline friends do too! Research online homemade cat treats and bake away! Host a local “pet bakery” and donate the proceeds.
  3. Pet Walkathon: Walkathons have become an extremely popular fundraiser style for charitable organizations. Make yours animal-friendly by encouraging people to bring their leashed cats (dogs too!) along for the fun. Set up water stations along the way to keep our four-legged companions hydrated.
  4. Pet Friendly Dinner Party: Organize a dinner party– and invite your pets! Sell tickets to the event for guests and their pets, utilizing ticket funds for donations. Set up a kitty-approved menu of courses that your guests and pets will love, even the after-dinner treat!
  5. Pet Yoga: With the rising popularity in goat yoga, why not get our cats involved? Find a yoga instructor in your area to host the event, and sell tickets. Your attendees will be ecstatic to “Namaste” with their furry friend!

Ready to host your own fundraiser for The Cat Network? Create your event through this online nonprofit registration tool– it’s a great way to plan your event, grow awareness and manage donations!

Medical Issues May Be the Reason Your Cat is Not Using the Litter Box

This article is the second in a 3 part series from Cat Network member Cindy Hewitt.  She shares her tips for determining why your cat is not using the litter box and how to solve the problem.

If your cat is not using the litter box, there is usually a reason. In my last article, I discussed reasons why the litter box is unattractive to your cat.

Other reasons cats avoid litter boxes, include medical issues and behavioral issues.

Let’s explore medical issues a cat may be experiencing if he or she is avoiding the litter box.

“Knowledge regarding feline urinary tract issues is evolving in terms of diagnostics, causes and treatments, and this can be both confusing and controversial. The current thinking is that the majority of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) cases has no clear cause and is lumped into idiopathic cystitis or interstitial cystitis (borrowed from human medicine).  Since the exact cause is unknown, the perfect therapy eludes us.  To make matters worse, this syndrome of idiopathic cystitis can produce urinalysis results that sometimes yield either bacteria or crystals, obscuring the true process initially.  This frustrates owners and vets alike.  Often, idiopathic cystitis is finally diagnosed once a trend or repeated pattern is detected” explains Dr. Jim Dugan of Pinecrest Veterinary Hospital.

Cats frequently attempt to get our attention and let us know they are having problems by eliminating outside the litter box.  When this occurs, cats should be examined by a veterinarian to insure there is no medical basis for the issue. A urinalysis should be performed to determine Ph and specific gravity, and to look for crystals, bacteria and blood in your cat’s urine.  If there are no significant findings in the urinalysis, but this is a repeat or chronic issue, a radiograph should be performed. If there are still no findings, an Ultrasound is helpful in more thoroughly visualizing the bladder and bladder wall to evaluate for possible calculi.  If US isn’t available, a radiograph with contrast (usually air is used to inflate the bladder) may be useful.

If a cat is going in and out of the litter box, or appears to be straining but not producing urine, it is CRITICAL to monitor carefully and if the cat cannot urinate, it is a medical EMERGENCY.  A blocked urethra can be fatal and must be treated immediately.  If you are unsure, segregate the cat with a clean litterbox and observe carefully to determine if it is actually urinating.

Some studies have shown that in cats under 10 years of age, the vast majority of urinary tract infections (UTI) have no bacterial component, so treatment with antibiotics may not be necessary.  If there is blood in the urine, most veterinarians prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection.  In addition, studies have shown that most UTIs in young cats clear in 3-5 days, with or without antibiotics, fluid therapy, both or nothing.  Providing COMFORT to the cat by using medication to relieve pain and/or reduce inflammation should be discussed with your veterinarian.

Diet appears to play a role in many cases.

If the cat is producing crystals, modifying the Ph of the urine (with diet or drugs) can help prevent formation and even dissolve some existing crystals.  Fluid intake also makes a difference, as larger fluid intake can help flush out any small crystals that may form.  Providing a fresh flowing fountain, or giving your cat very low-sodium chicken broth (such as Pacific low sodium, free range, organic broth with about 70mg sodium/8 oz) can help increase fluid intake.

Many cats improve if fed a prescription diet such as Hill’s Rx CD Multicare, Royal Canin Urinary SO and Purina UR.  If the cat improves on a prescription diet, then dietary modification is probably appropriate.  If the cat improves and is stable on a prescription diet for an extended period of time, but cost is a factor, ask your vet if you can try an over-the-counter (OTC) urinary formula food such as Purina Pro Plan Urinary Formula.  If your vet approves, slowly add in the OTC urinary formula food (no more than 10% at a time) over several weeks, and if the cat does well both from a digestive and urinary perspective, see if you can maintain him on the OTC urinary formula.

Additionally, if the cat has experienced painful elimination (such as with a bladder infection), it may associate this pain with the litterbox and be hesitant to use the box again.  If your cat had an infection which has been successfully treated and is still hesitant to use the box, try a different type of box in a different location in an attempt to break the association.

Cat Professionals, Ltd. has produced a great booklet on FLUTD, which thoroughly outlines the diverse things that can impact your cat.  It is available in print or download formats.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Dugan of Pinecrest Veterinary Hospital for contributing to this article.

In part one of this article series, Cindy shares 6 reasons why your cat may be avoiding the litter box.  In part three of the series, she explains the behavioral problems that cause cats to avoid the litter box.

6 Reasons Why Your Cat May Be Avoiding the Litter Box

This article is the first in a 3 part series from Cat Network member Cindy Hewitt.  She shares her tips for determining why your cat is not using the litter box and how to solve the problem.

Inappropriate elimination is the leading cause when cats are relinquished to shelters, and urinary issues are one of the most common health problems for which cat guardians seek veterinary assistance.

Cats naturally seek somewhere to eliminate that will allow them to bury their waste.  When cats don’t use the litter box, there is usually a reason:

  • For some reason the litter box is unattractive.
  • There is a medical issue.
  • There is a behavioral issue.

6 Reasons a Cat May Find a Litter Box Unattractive

Cats can be very particular, and a variety of issues affect their willingness to use a litter box.

1. Location: should be in a quiet, peaceful location away from noise and traffic.

2. Type of box: some cats are hesitant to use a hooded litter box; other cats prefer the privacy.

3. Type of litter:

  • Most cats prefer a small grain litter such as scoopable litter. Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract Litter is formulated to encourage cats to use the litter box, and may be helpful in retraining your cat.
  • Scented litters can be very offensive to cats.  Try an unscented plain clay or scoopable litter.
  • Dust from litter may bother the animal; use a low dust brand.
  • Try different types of litter (scoopable, clay, etc.) in different boxes (open vs. hooded) at the same time, preferably in the same location, to control for all variables. If your cat has a preference for one type of litter, use that litter in different boxes and locations to further understand your cat’s needs.

4. Litter box liners: some cats dislike liners; when they dig their claws get caught, and they don’t like the feel of the plastic.

5. Number of boxes vs. number of cats: most animal behaviorists recommend at least one box per cat plus a spare; if there are litter box problems, they recommend two boxes per cat because some cats won’t urinate and defecate in the same location.

6. Frequency of cleaning: cats don’t want to step into a landmine (theirs or another animal’s).  If the box is dirty, they will seek another location.  Clean boxes at least once daily, more often if possible.

Hint: make cleaning litter boxes as convenient as possible.  If using flushable litter, place in bathroom near toilet.  Consider having an old-fashioned diaper pail for easy disposal of waste, and containment of odor.  There are automatic boxes that will keep at least one box clean even if you aren’t home.

In part two of this article series, Cindy covers medical issues in cats that cause them to avoid the litter box.  In part three of the series, she explains the behavioral problems that cause cats to avoid the litter box.

Thanks to Dr. Jim Dugan of Pinecrest Veterinary Hospital for contributing to this article.

Photo credit: eviltomthai

Book Review: They Had Me at Meow, Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow

They Had Me at Meow: Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow, by Rosie Sorenson

From the first page of Rosie Sorenson’s book, “They Had Me at Meow: Tails of Love from the Homeless Cats of Buster Hollow”, I knew I was going to enjoy it and I was never disappointed. The charming and humorous stories of the unique cats of Buster Hollow reflect the deep love Rosie has for all her cats, and especially for Turtleman, the wonderful cat that found his way into the hearts of Rosie and her companion, Steve. After they rescued and adopted him, he spent his days as a happy, pampered, very much loved cat, and gave them all his love in return. These stories, together with the many photos throughout the book depicting the cats’ playful activities, reflect how caring for them over the years helped Rosie get through some rough times in her own life and gave her the support she needed. The unconditional love they returned to her was and continues to be one of life’s truly rewarding experiences.

Along with writing about the cats of Buster Hollow, Rosie has succeeded in informing readers of the far reaching advantages of practicing the concept of TNR or Trap-Neuter-Return, along with the growing acceptance of issues surrounding TNR, the only positive and humane control of feral cat populations everywhere. I found They Had Me at Meow to be educational and informative in this regard, along with the many resources Rosie lists at the end of the book.

It is Rosie’s hope that people will learn the responsibilities of caring for homeless cats from her book, focusing on neutering and spaying in order to decrease and eventually stop the large numbers of stray and feral cats from breeding and at the same time find happiness by helping these wonderful cats. I can certainly recommend this enjoyable book for anyone who is involved with and loves cats.

Sandy Cox, member of
The Cat Network, Inc., a So. Florida
humane cat rescue organization

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