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Newsletter

The veterinarians and staff at Cats & Critters are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

VIDEO: Cats Often Overlooked for Veterinary Care

From Siamese and Persians to the outdoor barn kitty, Americans love our cats! With more than 80 million felines being pampered in homes across the country, our cat friends have become the #1 pet in the nation. Since they are so popular, it would be easy to think that our cats are probably given everything that they could want or need. Unfortunately, studies show that cats are much less likely to be given proper veterinary care than our dog friends...why is this? Watch this video to learn the answers of why cats get lower care!

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Cat's Hearing

Have you ever noticed your cat stalking something you cannot see or hear? Have you ever noticed your cat turning her attention to something or looking quickly in a certain direction while you sit dumbfounded wondering what she is doing? It's possible that she hears something you do not. Of course, that must mean that when you call your cat and she turns her head as if she doesn't hear you, she is choosing not to hear you. If you are familiar with "cat-titude," then knowing about your cat's hearing can come in handy.

Inside a cat's ear

Anatomy of the Cat's Ear

It all begins with the cat's outer ear, or pinna, which sits on top of the cat's head. The outer ear is controlled by about 30 different muscles that enable the cat to independently rotate each ear 180 degrees, and position one ear or both facing any sound the cat detects. The shape of the ear is designed to funnel sound down to the middle ear, where the tympanic membrane and three small bones, called auditory ossicles, transmit vibrations into the inner ear. The middle ear also contains a canal called the Eustachian tube that helps to equalize pressure in the ear. Within the inner ear is a curved bone, known as the cochlea. This is where the actual hearing mechanism is located, called the organ of Corti. It is here that small, sensitive hairs pick up sound vibrations and send them through the auditory nerve to the brain.

Each part of the ear, working together, gives the cat superb high-frequency hearing. Since mice squeak at an extremely high frequency, cats can hear these noises. This is no coincidence. Waiting in ambush and listening closely for the slightest squeak, cats' hearing allows them to be extremely effective hunters. To put it into better perspective, humans can hear frequencies from about 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz while cats, on the other hand, can hear frequencies from about 30 hertz to 60 kilohertz. Cats also have an incredible ability to localize sounds. They can hear and differentiate sounds three feet away whose sources are only three inches apart.

Because hearing is such a large part of a cat's life, it is important to try to shield them from loud, high-pitch noises such as sirens or loud whistles. It is also important to take sound into account when playing with cats. There are several toys on the market that mimic the sound of prey species to entice cats to play with them. This has the advantage of making the toy much more interesting. However, if the volume is irritating to you then it could be harmful to your cat. So, the next time your cat is sitting nearby and does not respond to your commands, remember that she can hear you loud and clear and is probably choosing to ignore you.

Letting the Cat Out...Or Not

Thanks to the creation and marketing of cat litter in the mid 1940's, more and more cats have become indoor-only pets. As such, cats are now leading longer lives, with some living 20+ years! Our homes offer a safer, healthier environment than life on the street. The average life span of an indoor cat is 10 years, whereas the average lifespan of an outdoor cat is just 2 years. There is no doubt that indoors is safer.

They like to be outside, but the risks can be great.

Yet, when we choose to make our cats indoors-only companions, we have a responsibility to provide the stimulation that was previously provided by the great outdoors. Scratching and climbing posts become trees; interactive toys become hunted birds, bugs and field mice. A rotating array of cat playthings provides excitement, unpredictability and exercise which, in turn, gives your cat everything it needs while extending its life inside. With that said, many cat lovers still prefer to commune with nature with their feline friends. Fortunately, there are several ways to minimize the risks.

Most importantly, while vaccinations are important for indoor cats, they are absolutely critical to the health of outdoor cats. The threat of rabies, FeLV, FIV, and FIP, transmitted through altercations with wildlife, or interaction with stray, un-vaccinated cats, should be enough to have your cat immunized in order to give you peace of mind. All of these diseases can be prevented and can provide your outdoor cat with proper protection should he need it.

If you feel as though your cat deserves the fun of being outside, but want to provide a safe way to experience nature, there are alternatives to opening the door and watching him go. Harnesses and leashes (gasp!) have been developed for cats. Either cat specific or small dog accessories fit well and are relatively inexpensive. Training your cat to walk with the harness takes patience (unless you start with a kitten, in which case it could take less time), but the reward is worth it. Your cat will be able to experience the joys of being outside in a controlled environment. How far he can travel is up to you!

It may seem silly, but it's a good idea!

Outdoor enclosures are another great alternative. Since outdoor enclosures are usually homemade, they come in all shapes and sizes. For durability, chicken wire or wire hardware cloth - secured around a simple wood frame - is preferable to ordinary window screening. The most successful structures usually feature climbing and resting furniture inside. A shaded area is necessary for warm or hot weather. Whether you choose an outdoor enclosure or add cat-proof netting to the top of traditional fencing, they are safest used only when you are at home able to check on them often.

Even with the option of training or providing your cat with an enclosed outdoor adventure area, you still need to consider identification. Lost cats result in heartache that can easily be avoided. Microchip and ID tags provide easy identification and may be what reunites you with your cat should he / she get lost or scooped up by a caring, but ignorant stranger.

When deciding whether or not to let your cat outdoors, it is important for you to consider the alternatives. As the pet industry expands and becomes more creative, more and more indoor/outdoor products are going to become available. Of course, there is nothing better than being outside. If you can provide your cat with the proper care and protection, allowing your cat to go outdoors can be a fun and healthy existence.

Cat Whiskers

Whiskers are very important in what makes a cat a cat. In fact, they are specialized tools that have many important functions including navigating, avoiding injury, hunting and social interaction.

If you look closely at your cat's face, you can see that the whiskers on the upper part of the lip are arranged in four rows on each side. Notice the upper two rows can move independently of the bottom two rows. These whiskers develop from specialized hair follicles that assist a cat's sense of touch. The follicles also have specialized muscle attachments, allowing the cat to have some control over whisker movement.

The whisker hair has no sensation and can be cut without causing any discomfort. However, any movement or touch to the whisker causes sensation to the hair follicle's nerve supply. It's definitely best to leave the whiskers and the whisker hair alone. Whiskers are too important to take the chance of confusing your feline, or causing your cat to feel disjointed.

Whiskers are an important part of a cat's sense of touch. This is especially true in the first 10 to 14 days of a kitten's life, when their eyes are not yet open. They navigate their surroundings mainly by sense of touch.

Have you ever seen newborn kittens moving about and bobbing their heads back and forth? They are collecting data through their whiskers. Their whiskers help them find mom and hone in on dinner. Whiskers act like antennae, warning them about impending danger, as well as helping them learn about their new home and surroundings.

As they get older, whiskers help cats navigate through danger and obstacles. Although cats have excellent night vision, it is a fallacy that they can see in absolute darkness. Their whiskers are what enable them to find their way in complete darkness. Even in perfect light, whiskers help tremendously.

Different whiskers do different things - the whiskers above the eyes help them avoid eye injuries and the upper lip whiskers can even help a cat decide if an opening is large enough for its body to pass.

One of the most important functions of whiskers is assisting the cat to hunt. A cat can sense the movement of its prey through air currents on its whiskers. This enables the cat to pinpoint exactly the location of the prey.

When a cat is pouncing on its prey, the whiskers are pointed as far forward as possible. This assists the cat in accurately catching its prey. The sensitive hair follicles associated with the whiskers tell the cat when its prey is dead. The dead prey can be put down without the possibility of having it escape.

Whiskers are also used for purely social purposes. When introduced to a new cat, part of the greeting ritual is touching whiskers - on the back, on the neck and on the flanks.

Whiskers also communicate emotions; when pushed forward they indicate openness and friendliness, when pushed back against the cheek, they indicate hostility.

You can see why your cat is proud of its whiskers. Remember - NEVER trim whiskers. They are an important part of your cats' anatomy and most importantly, they add a majestic appearance to you feline friend. Watch and learn next time your cat is stalking its favorite toy or greeting another kitty.

Cat Communication: How to Read a Cat's Tail
Cats communicate with their tails

Cats have a reputation for being aloof and non-communicative, but reading their emotions may be a matter of looking at body language. Cats express emotion with their tails.

All Wrapped Up

Even when the cat is asleep, her tail reveals her mood and level of comfort. When she is all "tucked in" with her tail wrapped closely around her body, she is feeling content but wants to keep to herself at the moment. Just as humans wrap in a blanket to sleep, a cat uses its tail for warmth and comfort.

Swishing

You know when a dog wags his tail, he is excited and happy. It is just the opposite for the cat. A tail swishing rapidly from side to side is a sign that the cat is anxious and may become aggressive. It's best to leave the cat alone and let her relax before interacting. You can toss her a toy to distract her, but don't attempt to pet the cat until she calms down.

If the side-to-side motion of the tail is slower and more fluid, take a look at what is holding the cat's attention. There may be a bird on the windowsill or a squirrel in the yard. A slow swish of the tail indicates mild excitement or interest.

Puffed Up

When cats feel threatened, they puff their fur along the spine and down the tail. This is called "pilorection." A frightened cat resembles the Halloween cat in pictures: the back is arched, the tail looks fat, and fur is bristled all over the cat's body. It may be an attempt to look larger and more intimidating. Often the cat's ears will flatten against her head.

Straight Up and Quivering

When a cat holds her tail straight up, it's usually a sign that she is relaxed and happy. A slight curl at the end of the tail and a quiver means the cat is feeling friendly and may be excited to see you. If an unneutered male cat holds a quivering tail upright against objects, it may be preparing to mark its territory. A spray of urine is satisfying for the territorial tom cat, but not pleasant for the human caretaker.

Experienced cat owners can often tell what a cat is "saying" by the tone and volume of the cat's meow. It's easy to tell when a cat wants to be fed or let out, or when the cat's tail is accidentally stepped on. For deeper insight into more subtle feline emotions, look to the tail.

Have Backyard Chickens? Take Precautions!

Have Backyard Chickens? Take Precautions!

Three hundred people nation-wide have been linked to an outbreak of salmonella originating from a hatchery in Ohio. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the outbreak has stemmed from humans in contact with live chickens from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries, which supplies live chicks to stores in several states. Many of those infected raise backyard chickens.



Backyard Chickens


The CDC says that consumers who own live poultry can protect themselves against the illness by washing hands thoroughly with soap immediately after touching live poultry, keeping live poultry outside the house, and keeping living spaces for live poultry clean. The CDC offers additional information on salmonella prevention, as well as symptoms, on their website at http://www.cdc.gov.