Yearly Archives: 2016

Is Christmas Shopping Going To The Dogs?

So, what’s your cat getting for Christmas this year? If you’re like most cat people, you’re looking for toys, and you’re buying them online.

The most reviewed cat toy on Amazon: The Catit Design Senses Play Circuit, a long “peek-boo-track” with a colorful ball inside.

Going To The Dogs

This year, holiday shoppers are expected to spend an average of $62 each on Christmas gifts for their animal companions, according to a study by SLI Systems, a provider of e-commerce solutions and services for mid-size to large Internet retailers.
But a big chunk of the money, the company found, is going to the dogs. SLI looked at 3.5 million searches on eight pet products websites. Searches containing the word “dog” were 2.5 times more popular than searches for cat items. 
Dog beds were the most common search, edging out collars and even toys. But while dogs might sleep the holidays away, cats will be up and running. Most of the people shopping for cats were looking for toys and scratching items.
Maybe because dog beds can be expensive, searches that included the word “sale” were 16 percent more common among dog owners than they were among people who were looking for gifts for cats. 

Amazon’s Top Ten 

If you’re still looking for gift ideas for your cats, these are the top 10 best sellers on Amazon.

Tip For Christmas Shopping For Cats

I have to admit I’m one of those millions of Amazon Christmas shoppers. That’s where I find the most interesting gifts for my cats. They love Hot Cats, and I can’t find them locally.
No matter what your cats love to play with, here are some things to keep in mind when you’re Christmas shopping for cats.
  • Make sure the toys are big enough for adult cats. Many toys, especially the bat and swat toys that you put on the floor for the cats to play with themselves, are designed for kittens, not adults.
  • Cats don’t care whether their play mice have eyes and bells, and sewn-on eyes and bells can be a choking hazard. 
  • Look for toys that are durable and well-made. There’s nothing more frustrating than catching a “mouse” and having it fall apart at the seams. 
  • Avoid toys that are filled with nutshells, beans or polystyrene beads. These, too, could be a choking hazard if the toy falls apart.
And here’s one more holiday tip. Save those cartons your online purchases come in for your cats. A big box with crunchy packing paper inside could be the best Christmas gift of all for a cat! 

NoBowl Cat Feeding System – Because Every Cat Hunts

NoBowl Cat Feeding System
A “skin” holds the NoBowl cat

food container.

So you’re thinking your cat’s sort of fat and lazy. Here’s something that might get him up off the couch and slim him down.

The NoBowl Feeding System provides portion-controlled dry food meals in little plastic containers that fit inside “skins.” The skins look and sort of feel like mice.

The idea is to hide the “mice” around the house, so your cat has to hunt for his food.

When he finds it, he can swat the mouse around until all the food falls out, and then he gets to enjoy a small meal.

How Cats Like To Eat

Instinct tells cats to eat several small meals a day. Outside, they might hunt and eat what they catch as many as 20 times in a 24-hour period. And Mother Nature doesn’t present their food in plastic bowls or on cute ceramic dishes.

Their mealtime ritual is to watch, pounce, shred their prey with their teeth and then eat it off the ground. No dinnerware needed.

Veterinarian Susan Bales, who developed the NoBowl system, says “food is only half of the mealtime equation.” Hunting, she says is just as important. And when we deliver our cats’ food to them in bowls, we’re “denying them the ability to fulfill this instinct.”

Looks Like A Mouse, Feels Like A Mouse… Sort Of

The soft fabric skin of the NoBowl Feeding System is intended to simulate prey. Cats can grip it with their claws to pick it up and push it around like they would with a real mouse. Bales says its shape is designed to move and roll like a mouse would.
The plastic dishes holding the dry food fit inside the skin and are secured with a drawstring. 

Sounds Great, But…

The question is, will cats hunt for dry food? If they can’t smell it from a few feet away, will they even bother looking for it? If the “mouse” doesn’t move and squeak like a real one does, is the thrill of the hunt missing from the equation?

And cats love routine and predictability almost as much as they love catching things. Cats who live outside and spend their days hunting still appreciate finding a bowl of food delivered to the same place at the same time every day, although they’d probably be just as happy with only the food and no bowl.

I envision very hungry, grouchy house cats if they have to spend their days tracking down motionless, almost-odorless bits of cereal, which is what dry food really is.

My cats don’t eat dry food because it’s so bad for them in so many ways. And we don’t have plastic dishes. But if we did this, I think I’d use the mice to replace the bottomless bowl of dry food and leave them in places that were easy to find. Then, the cats would have the fun and stimulation of “killing” their food, even if they didn’t have to hunt for it. They’d still get their wet food in bowls, in the same place, twice a day.

If you want to try the NoBowl Feeding system, you can buy it online on Bales’s website.  And if you do try it, I’d love to know what your cats think. You can tell us in the comments section below.

Certified Humane Cat Food

Open Farm dry cat food is Certified Humane.

Open Farm, a Canadian pet food company, recently introduced its Certified Humane dry cat food in the US market.

To be certified humane, food must come from farms where animals can express such natural behaviors as flapping wings and moving around freely in their environments.

They must also live free of cages and gestation crates and be raised without antibiotics, growth hormones and animal by-products.

To find out where to buy Open Farm cat food in the US, visit Certified Humane’s Where to Shop page.

Let Them Eat Chicken

If cats could prepare their own food, most would choose chicken, the best selling cat food flavor
© Rasulov –

Americans spent $13 billion in the pet specialty market in 2015, and most of that money went to chicken-flavored food.

We’ll never know for sure whether cats actually love chicken or whether their humans love it for them, but chicken-flavored wet and dry cat food and treats outsold all other competing protein sources, including fish. And we always thought fish was our cats’ favorite.
Now that I think about it, my cats really do prefer chicken.

Except for Sizzle. He’ll eat anything I put in front of him, although he’s not crazy about beef. 

And Now We Have Prescription Treats

Royal Canin introduces prescription cat treats.
As if prescription food wasn’t enough, Royal Canine has introduced prescription treats. I didn’t check the ingredients (and really don’t want to), but if your cat is on prescription food, you can now get matching urinary treats, gastrointestinal treats, hydrolyzed protein treats for cats with food sensitivities, and satiety treats for cats who are on weight-loss food.

All of these are available only from your veterinarian, of course.

Most vets love prescription food because it’s an easy source of steady income. After all, cats have to eat!
But if you’re willing to do some research, you can find food that meets your cat’s special needs on most pet supply retailers’ shelves.

For instance, several cat food manufacturers make wet food with novel proteins for cats with food sensitivities. And the best diet for cats with bladder stones and crystals is all wet food and no dry, even if the wet food is something as simple as Fancy Feast.

New Prescription Food For Cats With Kidney Disease

Blue has introduced new food for cats with kidney disease
© Olga Sapegina |
So your vet wants your cat with kidney disease to eat prescription food, and Royal Canin’s and Hills’ kidney diets both got an unequivocal paws down. Enter Blue Buffalo, a newcomer to the prescription cat and dog food market.
Blue’s KM Kidney + Mobility Support for cats is grain- and gluten-free and comes in both wet and dry food formulas.
The food has controlled levels of protein, phosphorous and sodium. Available only from veterinarians, it was introduced earlier this month.
The company launched its BLUE Natural Natural Veterinary Diets in 2015. Other products in its prescription cat food line include BLUE GI Gastrointestinal Support for Cats and BLUE WU Weight Management and Urinary Care for Cats. 

A Cure For FIP? Clinical Trials Are Underway

Scientists are working on a cure for FIP.

Of all the awful diseases that can affect our cats, FIP is the absolute worst. It’s a cruel disease, and it’s almost always fatal. But that could be changing.

The first phase of clinical trials for a drug that could cure FIP ended this fall.

In a study published in the March issue of PLOS, researchers at Kansas State University treated eight cats who were sick from FIP with the antiviral protease inhibitor, GC376. Sadly, two of the cats became so sick they were euthanized. But the other six recovered and were still doing well eight months later. And that was just the beginning.

Last winter, in collaboration with the Kansas State Researchers, UC Davis veterinarian Niels Pedersen began the first phase of clinical trials of GC376 with 13 “owned” cats.

FIP Explained

FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis) is caused by a coronavirus that infects almost all kittens. It causes mild diarrhea, and then pretty much disappears. But in some cats, it goes rogue and mutates into the deadly disease we call FIP.
While most FIP victims are kittens, the virus can remain dormant in some cats’ bodies for years and doesn’t make them sick until they’re well into adulthood or even old age. 
Signs of FIP can include abdominal swelling, weight loss, an unkempt coat and mental dullness. Once a cat gets sick, there’s not much to do but provide palliative care. 

The Cure For FIP Is Still A Long Way Off

In the first phase of the clinical trials, Pedersen and his team looked at optimal doses and what forms of FIP and the length of illness were most responsive to treatment with GC376.

They learned that treatment requires at least 12 weeks and will cause a rapid reversal of FIP in some, but not all, cats.

One of the questions that remains to be answered is how long the remission will last.

But even after the researchers have finished gathering information, it could be a long time before GC376 is available to veterinarians.

First, Pedersen said in an interview with Catster, they’ll need to find a pharmaceutical company that’s willing to take GC376 through the long and expensive Federal Drug Administration testing and approval process.

Since “a company may not find it economically viable to spend the money necessary to gain FDA approval for a disease for a single animal species such as FIP,” he added, “I would not want to speculate on if and when this particular drug may become commercially available for use by veterinarians.”

Help For Cats With FIP Now

While GC376 may still be a long way from your vet’s office, there are things to do for cats with FIP now.

Prednisone, interferons and some supplements and antioxidants can extend the length of life and improve the quality of life for cats with FIP.

To learn about treatments, take a look at leading FIP researcher Diane Addie’s handout for veterinarians. And join the Support and Info for Owners of FIP cats email list on Yahoo Groups or the group’s FIP Fighters Facebook page. You’ll find all the information and support you need if you’re caring for an FIP cat.