Brushing Your Cats’ Teeth

Unless your cat is crunching through bones and tearing into muscle meat his teeth are not getting cleaned, his gums are receding and he is well on the road to gingivitis. He looses his teeth and he’s on a diet of mush.

Bijou at the home dentist

This, perhaps, is the only justification for feeding our cats dry food – kibble. It does help clean his teeth – but it is not the answer to healthy teeth and gums, the vets all tell us. Brushing is. How often? At least every other day or don’t bother at all, Martin Zucker tells us in his book on natural remedies for cats.

But how do you brush your cat’s teeth? Actually, it’s not that hard. Hold him gently but firmly and pry open his jaws.

Gently open his mouth

Use a tooth brush designed for cats – available from any vet or pet store, and a tooth paste made for cats. See the last image.

Be sure to brush the front and rear teeth (fortunately, cats don’t have a lot of teeth), both sides of his mouth.

If your cat has the beginning of gingivitis, gums will be red and raw looking), daily brushing will stop the decline and restore health to his gums and teeth. We only recently learned of all this so are on a program of getting Bijou back to good dental health.

Brushing his back teeth

At first Bijou was really resistant to having his teeth brushed but he pretty much takes it as a matter of course now.

It helps in this to reward him after the brushing with something he likes. Though not crazy about having his teeth brushed, he loves  to have his body brushed so he gets a nice vigorous brushing after his teeth brushing.

Within moments the teeth cleaning is forgotten

Below is the tooth paste and brush our vet recommended. There are others.

Chicken flavored tooth paste for cats

How To Get Your Cat To Eat Wet When He Wants Dry

It is commonly known that dry food is convenient for us, harmful for cats. It lacks freshness, vitality and protein and a diet of it can substantially contribute to feline urologic syndrome, skin disorders, arthritis, kidney failure and constipation.

Cats were originally desert animals and their kidneys are designed to be extremely efficient in conserving water. Their diet of prey contained 70 percent body fluids. In kibble there is something like 5 to 10 percent of moisture. A steady diet of kibble will substantially overwork your cat’s kidneys and his health will deteriorate.

But they really like it. It’s a lot like eating fast food – a burger and fries because of the very clever ingredients that go into dry food designed to make cats addicts to the stuff and it can be hard to ween your cat from it. But here’s a trick that works for us, at least a fair portion of the time.

Bijou getting petted before digging in

Eating is (should be) a positive emotional experience so if you can sort of wake up the emotions in your cat at feeding time he may transfer that good feeling to the wet food he is looking at though it was the dry he wanted. Set the bowl in front of your cat, then pet or brush him  – do something you know he likes. My wife gives our Bijou a vigorous petting with the wet food bowl right there and though moments before he was asking for the dry and ignoring the wet, he then digs right in and seems more than content with his meal.We are in the process of eliminating the dry, having learned what we now know but have not completed the process. It is not a good idea to abruptly change your cat’s diet. It needs to be done gradually and this technique of making your cat happy at feeding time really helps.

I tried it myself this evening. I had given Bijou a bowl of wet food about a half hour earlier and he didn’t touch it. He followed me into the kitchen from outside and kept looking up at where the box of dry is and back at me. I planted him in front of his bowl of wet food and gave him a brisk rubdown and sure enough. He is eating the wet as I type. This little technique works.

Bijou after a satisfying meal of wet food

Compare a Handmade, Ceramic Cat Fountain With The Plastic Version

Below is a comparative video demonstrating the Drinkwell Platinum Cat Fountain and  one of my handmade, ceramic cat fountains. Not mentioned in the video are all the undesirable attributes of the plastic fountains: Very hard to clean, harbor bacteria, can cause chin acne, etc…

Ceramic fountains, on the other hand, don’t scratch and don’t harbor bacteria, are easy to clean, have no undesirable effects and are much better looking.

One of the Most Popular Fountain Designs

Shown below is one the most requested fountains designs I’ve made. It can have the usual indoor fountain pump or, as this one has, a larger pump with a heavier cable and a three prong plug for outdoor use (which can be used with an adapter in a 2 prong outlet indoors).

A Very Populat Fountain Design

Water spills from three places on the inner ceramic waterflower with the most delightful sounds which you can vary by adjusting the volume of water in the fountain bowl or by adjusting the pump. (The flow level is adjustable on all the pumps I use.)

I think the reason this fountain design is so popular is because it is really good for cats – they can drink from the three streams of falling water and from the bowl and because it is really a fine piece for home decor – the sights, the sounds…All so enjoyable.

Like all my fountains, the pump can be replaced (by removing the plug, loosening the nut on the feedthrough and pulling out the cable), yet the cord passes through the base of the fountain, not over the rim.

For whatever reason I hadn’t made any of this design for quite a while, in spite of the demand for them. Got caught up in other designs and design attempts I guess. But I do have several in the works which should be ready soon. Check my cat fountains shop to see when they are available.

Giving Culture To Your Cat

Want a novel way to please, entertain and add culture to your cats’ life? Give them music. Cats, in fact, love music and are very attuned to quality of sound. The composers, Henri Sauguet, Ravel, Rossini, Reynaldo Hahn and many others have noted this quality in cats.

Kitten excited by the sounds coming from an old phonograph

In the nineteenth certury, the famous harpist, Mlle Dupuy, felt she owed a fair portion of her success to her cat. When she played a piece her cat was familiar with the cat either purred or cried, according to the quality of her playing.  She altered her playing accordingly.

Recognizing how much she owed to her cat, when she died she bequeathed her cat a house in town and another in the country and left a substantial income to several personal friends so they would willing look after her most singular heir.

From my own experience, whenever I used to pick up the guitar my beloved dog would leave the room (and I play fairly well). Canines, unlike felines, hate music, as Jack London has so well demonstrated in his various novels. Our cat, Tiffany, on the other hand, came and sat at my me side, purred  and clearly, deeply enjoyed the playing. She became my biggest fan.

Recently I began playing with a Celtic harp and was amazed to watch my orange tabby, Bijou go into what I can only call throes of ecstasy.   He melted. He writhed in pleasure and abandon with every stroke I played. I wasn’t even particularly good at the instrument but for him I was some kind of pleasure god.

Yes, cats love music, but make it good music. Try some of the classics. Try Bach and you won’t go wrong. But don’t eschew other quality music in any other genre, so long as the musicianship is good and the melodies harmonious.

Some of the information and the image for this post was taken from “The Life, History and Magic of The Cat”

Why Cats Prefer Moving Water (Excerpted from Darla Rewers, DVM)

Running faucets, a slow drip in the bathtub, fountains, and rain puddles are often more enticing than water in bowls. The sound and movement of running water is more attractive to cats and  easier to identify. Otherwise, some cats will pat at water in a dish or submerge their whiskers to assess where the water level is. Some cats will not drink out of dishes near their food bowls. The primary reason for this is simple. In nature, standing water is far more likely to harbor parasites and harmful bacteria than is moving water.

The CatTap Fountain - Your cats' personal, always on faucet fountain

It is very important to have enticing drinking sources for your cats. This is especially true if your cat has a substantial diet of dry food.  With the very common diagnoses of kidney failure and kidney deficiency, this becomes a very important issue. In addition, periodontal disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma, and allergies could all be potentially prevented or minimized by increasing the amount of water your cat drinks.

Many commercial plastic pet fountains exist, however handmade ceramic fountains are available, which are much more chic, green, and won’t create skin break outs in cats sensitive to plastics. Check out http://www.catfountains.etsy.com.

Relaxed Cats & Stress Management

It has been found that some cat personalities handle stress really well while those more timid cats which never seem totally relaxed freak out in stressful or challenging situations. Those which handle stress, which can take and even seek out challenging experiences are super relaxed at other, non stressful times. This would appear to be the case with this Orange Tabby.

A Relaxed Cat Seeks Excitement

Maybe that is why Bijou is so readily attracted to a spray of water. You might think that a cat would be turned away from a spray of water, preferring something a little more under control, but not so. This video is of Bijou enjoying drinking from a spray fountain. In fact, this is the cat who began the whole creation of ceramic cat fountains by showing such an avid interest in the indoor fountains I placed around my home. I don’t know yet if other cats would as readily go for such a cat drinking fountain. I have some coming up so we will soon know.

Would Your Cat Benefit From Chiropractic Treatment?

Taken in part from Martin Zucker’s book The Veterinarians’ Guide To Natural Remedies For Cats.

How to tell if your cat could benefit from chiropractic  treatment

  • If you encounter sensitivity when you stroke him or he seems untypically lackluster and low in vitality
  • The head is cocked to one side
  • He is reluctant or unable to raise the head or flex the neck without crying
  • There is sudden behavioral change, particularly after teeth cleaning or other procedures
  • There is shaking of the head or scratching of the face or ear, particularly on one side
  • The mouth is sore when you try to open it
  • The cat seems distressed or acts depressed.
  • The cat walks almost on tiptoes
  • If  he cries out when you lift him with your hands under the chest
  • The cat walks with humped back
  • She cries when she sits
  • The cat sits off to one side

If you are sensitive to your cat you can see pain by looking in his eyes.

To find a veterinary chiropractor contact the American Veterinary Chiropratic Association (309-658-2920, or, The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (410-569-0795)

Cats and Chiropracty

In recent years chiropracty has been found to be an effective treatment for cats when traditional methods were not or where no cause could be found for obvious symptoms of pain, discomfort and general dis-ease. Chiropractic treatments are aimed at relieving misalignments causing stress and restricting energy and blood flow to affected areas.

Skeleton of a Cat

Such misalignments can occur from injury, chronic disease, malnutrition, toxicity and from general wear and tear, Martin Zucker tells us in his book The Veterinarians’ Guide To Natural Remedies For Cats.

Most commonly, he says, chiropractic treatments are used to treat musculoskeletal problems stemming from arthritis and injury. In addition, older cats often develop stiff joints and spine problems as a result of their natural activities which over the years take their toll and chiropractic treatments can be helpful in relieving their pain.

Zucker goes on to say that many behavioral problems which do not respond to other treatments can be resolved with chiropracty by treating misalignments in the neck, and even of the skull bones.

“Roger DeHaan, DMV has found such misalignments in more than a third of the chronic behavioral cases he treats. “There is a jamming or pinching of the cranial plates, which can lead to headaches, irritability, hyperactivity or depression,” he says.” Sometimes one treatment can resolve an issue no other kind of treatment could.”

Coming soon – how to tell if your cat can benefit from chiropractic treatment.

Feline Hydration

We tend to think that given a bowl of  water a cat will drink all he needs. Turns out this is not at all the case. That’s why a cat water fountain can be a genuine life saver.

Cats Love Moving Water

In the wild cats got most of the water they needed from their natural food sources – primarily small rodents. The great majority of house cats are deprived of that source.

Canned food helps the situation but many cats don’t get wet food, or enough wet food and even those which do still need additional hydration. Add to this the fact that cats are not attracted to standing water (in the wild, standing water is rarely fresh and often filled with countless harmful bacteria – animals seek moving water whenever possible) – and you have the situation as it is today. Renal failure is the number one cause if death in pet cats and insufficient hydration is a major contributor to kidney failure.

For a cat, drinking plenty of water helps to ensure an overall healthy constitution – soft fur, moist gums and eyes and helps prevent constipation. Regular periodic urination greatly reduces incidences of bladder infections and the build up of crystals in the urinary tract, which can lead to blockages and many other negative consequences.

Drinking water is the primary way of flushing out waste material from the body. Without sufficient water, there can be a  buildup of waste,  preventing toxins from leaving the body. Should this happen, the kidneys will be damaged, leading to fatal renal failure – all of which can be avoided by a simple cat water fountain.

Now, I’ve written about this before but it seems there are still many individuals who do not realize that plastic fountains can be harmful – in fact are said to definitely be by many veterinarians. This is well documented and is the result of the plastic itself, which contains harmful chemicals, and from harmful bacteria that grow in the inevitable scratches to which a plastic cat water fountain is subject.

Ceramic cat water fountains, on the other hand have  several positive attributes and no negatives. Ceramic does not scratch so there is no harmful bacteria buildup. Ceramics cat water fountains, especially stoneware with certified food-safe glazes keep the water fresh, cool and well oxygenated.

Even more to the point, cats are attracted to the spout of water from the bubble-up cat fountains and the falling water from those with a waterleaf or spout so they drink more – which is actually, apart from making sure the water is cool and healthful – the whole point.

In terms of value, some plastic cat water fountains are cheaper than my ceramic fountains (and some are not) but when you consider longevity, mine are by far the greater value. The pumps in my fountains are very long lasting and replaceable (and the cost is minimal), while the fountain bowls will last a lifetime with reasonable care. (No throwing, dropping on hard surfaces…)

One last point – might not be of interest to your cat but will certainly be to you – ceramic cat water fountains are infinitely better looking and make no unpleasant noise, which most if not all plastic cat water fountains do. In addition, there is no cord draping over the side of the fountain bowl, as is the case with some of the manufactured, even manufactured ceramic cat water fountains.

So it seems pretty cut and dry to me. If you are looking for the best and best looking, longest lasting and all round most satisfying cat water fountain, go to my Catfountains.