5 reasons why you should adopt an older cat

 

By Emily Bruer

If you’re thinking about adding a new feline friend to the family, you’ve probably been tempted by the idea of getting a kitten. While kittens can be fun, they are also a Lot. Of. Work. Older cats are generally much easier to handle, and if you are considering adopting during the #CleartheShelters event this weekend, here are some great reasons to  welcome a more mature kitty into your home:

Personality

What most people don’t realize is that kittens are like babies (because they are!), and their true personalities won’t be fully developed until they reach maturity at about 2-3 years of age. When you adopt an older cat you pretty much know what you’re getting. If the cat is extremely friendly it will likely be that way the rest of its life (barring trauma or illness). 

However, it is good to keep in mind that many animals will not act themselves in the shelter environment. If a cat has lived with one family its entire life and suddenly finds itself in a loud, busy shelter, chances are they will be overwhelmed and either withdraw or lash out. Be sure to ask shelter staff about which cats they think would be the best fit for your home, and take their advice into consideration. Most staff members know the animals in their care very well and will be able to point you in the right direction.

Save a life

No matter what age the cat you adopt is, you will be saving a life. But if you adopt an older cat you know you are making a huge difference in that animal’s life. Kittens tend to get adopted quickly, while older cats are left waiting (sometimes for a year or more) for the right home to come along.

After they have been waiting a while cats tend to get depressed, and it’s a downhill battle from there for staff to keep them alive. A depressed cat will often stop eating and refuse any specialty foods offered to it. The sooner an adult cat can get out of the shelter and into a home the better.

Calm

Kittens are [adorable] maniacs. They are into everything, climbing everything they can, pouncing on your feet, and just enjoying exploring everything in the world. On the other hand, adult cats are much more laid back, and they’re more likely to sleep through the night instead of bouncing off your head like it’s a trampoline at 2am. They are more interested in napping at your feet than chasing the lights from passing cars across the room.

Better in pairs

If you are open to adopting two cats, ask shelter staff if they have any bonded pairs. Pairs of cats frequently enter the shelter together when their owners pass away or move. Pairs can be hard to adopt out together, but many of these cats will stop eating without their best friend around to keep them company. Two bonded cats are about the same amount of work as one, so you might as well go for it!

Grateful 

Adult cats tend to bond more closely with their new people than kittens. I believe this is because they are grateful to have a stable home and a loving environment. They felt the fear and uncertainty of the shelter, and when you came their life immediately improved. They will always associate you with their rescue, and will love you dearly for it.

Adopting an older cat is a great way to get an amazing kitty without all the work of kittenhood. Be sure to check around the shelters in your area to find a cat that speaks to you, and don’t be afraid to visit several times before making your final decision.

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

Introducing Kitty to Baby

Chinese Baby with Tiger Patterned Cat

By Sandie Lee

Cats are creatures of habit, so it can be very upsetting when a new schedule-changer (aka, Baby) turns its world upside down. But there are ways to soften the emotional turmoil and prepare your cat for the new family member.

Keep a consistent kitty schedule

Babies are hectic, demanding little humans, and their needs can disrupt the entire household. Before your baby arrives, make sure your cat already has a regular, predictable routine for feeding, litter box cleaning, medication (as needed), and play time.

If you feel you may have trouble keeping Kitty’s schedule, enlist the help of those around you and invest in an automatic food dispenser. Having consistent times for daily activities will help your cat be more resilient when everything else gets crazy.

Slowly introduce new sights, sounds, and smells

Humans may take for granted all the new sights, sounds, and smells a new baby brings with it. But for cats (who – let’s face it – like to have things their way), all the strange, loud stimuli can be quite overwhelming.

To help conquer this, let your cat sniff the new baby items as you bring them into your home. Let Kitty rub her face on the items (marking) so they will be just a part of the home to her. After the baby is born, bring home an item from the hospital that the baby has been in contact with and let your cat sniff and mark it. This allows your cat to become used to the smell of the new baby before he comes into the house.

Did you know there’s a CD of baby sounds? (You can also download baby sounds for pets on iTunes.) This is excellent to play in the background so your cat can become accustomed to all the odd sounds a baby makes. Play this when your cat is relaxed or you’re cuddling with her so she knows there’s nothing to be afraid of.

No extra attention

As much as we may want to pre-emptively assuage our feelings of guilt, we have to resist the temptation to heap on extra attention to Kitty before the baby arrives.

Remember, cats are routine-based animals, so if you load on the affection to make up for a later deficit, she will come to expect this every day. To help ease Kitty into the “lesser” role, introduce more toys that will have her playing on her own, but still be sure to give her some one-on-one time as per your new schedule.

Allow exploration of the baby’s room

Don’t keep the baby’s room “off limits” before the child arrives; allow your cat to investigate so she becomes familiar with the baby’s items.

Although the idea of a cat “stealing a baby’s breathe” is a myth, it’s not a good idea to let your cat sleep with a new baby as they can curl up too close and restrict an infant’s airway. Some more jealous cats have even been known to urinate inside the crib, so to prevent these unwanted incidents, use a baby crib tent to keep your infant safe while your cat can still see what’s going on.

High-up getaways

Cats love to be high up in the air, so invest in a tall scratch post that Kitty can call her own. This allows your cat to flee from a situation she may perceive as “too much” but still allows her to be a part of the goings-on of the family. Tall cat trees are also perfect perches for when baby becomes a toddler and may become too “grabby” for Kitty’s comfort.

Talk to your doctor about toxoplasmosis

One of the easiest ways to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis is to keep your cat indoors. The Centers for Disease Control state that you’re more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from raw meat or gardening than from your cat, but talk to your doctor about your concerns to be on the safe side. You can also educate yourself by reading more about the disease here and here.

Still  my baby

Cats are sensitive creatures, so even after the baby arrives be sure not to ignore or shoo away your feline pal. Up to this point, she may have been the center of attention and now she will have to get used to not getting the lion’s share of affection. Give your cat the love she craves when the baby is napping or when someone else in the household is tending to the baby.

Working out the time issues between Baby and Kitty will take some effort, but it will be well worth it when your child grows up with a loving pet that may just turn into a best friend.

********

sandie-lee-writerSandie Lee has been in the writing industry for over 20 years. She hails from a small city in Ontario, Canada where there are two seasons; winter and not winter! Her husband and two furbabies, Milo and Harry, make sure she is diligently writing each day.

 

How to toilet train your cat

cat-on-toilet

By Emily Bruer

Do you hate cleaning the litter box every day? Are you sick of finding litter all over your house? Do you have trouble masking that pervasive litter box smell? If so, it’s time for you to toilet train your cat.

While toilet training a cat may sound difficult (especially because they don’t have opposable thumbs), with the right tools your cat will be out of the box and onto the pot in no time!

1. The first step in toilet training your cat is simply moving the litter box into the bathroom. This will get your cat used to going into the bathroom to do his business and it will get him used to the noises and sounds of toilet flushing and the shower.

If your cat’s box is already in the bathroom skip to step 2. If not, wait a week before moving on.

2. Before you move to the toilet phase, you will want to get your cat transitioned to a flushable litter like a grass or corn litter. You will want to slowly transition your cat to the new litter by slowly mixing it in with the current over the course of a week. Every day take out a scoop of the old and add in a scoop of the new until only the new is in the box. 

If you were already using a flushable litter, skip to Step 3.

3. This step is the messiest, but don’t give up yet! For this step you will need either an aluminum roasting pan or a Litter Kwitter.

If you chose an aluminum roasting pan you will need to duct tape it to your toilet and cover any gaps with plastic wrap, then fill the bottom of the pan or the Litter Kwitter with the flushable litter.

It’s likely that your cat will get litter all over the place during this stage as she is jumping up and potentially trying to dig more than she needs to.

Move to step 4 after about a week.

4. Cut a small hole in the center of your roasting pan or remove the first section of the Litter Kwitter. Be sure there is still litter surrounding the new hole as having no litter will confuse your kitty.

Give her about a week to 10 days to get used to this and then move on to step 5.

5. Cut a slightly larger hole in the center of the roasting pan and remove the second section of the Litter Kwitter. You will leave it like this for about a week to 10 days, and then repeat. Continue cutting and removing pieces of the Litter Kwitter until the hole is the same size as the toilet’s opening.

Proceed to Step 6.

6. Now that there isn’t any litter left in the pan (or the Litter Kwitter), you can remove either apparatus and let your kitty use the toilet.

Keep in mind during this process that your kitty may have accidents or struggle a bit. If you find your cat is struggling don’t be afraid to go back a step or two until she is comfortable.

No one wants potty time to be stressful, and if your cat is too stressed out by her new potty arrangements she could develop bad habits. If your cat is older, getting steps that lead up to the toilet can be helpful as arthritic joints may have trouble jumping up. Getting a toilet seat cover that has some texture to it can help as well. Be sure to always leave the lid up after toilet training your cat or she will likely have accidents.

While some cats take quickly to toilet training, others can take a little longer, so be patient. Toilet training in a multi-cat household can be a bit of a challenge, too, so don’t be afraid to wait a little longer between steps. If you cat is extremely skittish, she may never adjust to using the toilet. In that case, try out some of the covered or auto-cleaning litter boxes that are on the market.

With a lot of patience, a little luck, and some dedication your kitty could be the next toilet trained sensation in your neighborhood. Good luck and never give up on your feline friend.

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

A clean litter box = a happy cat

black-cat-litter-box

By Emily Bruer

For many cat owners, the litter box is the bane of cat ownership. It smells, litter goes everywhere, and cleaning it is no fun at all. However, keeping your cat’s litter box clean is extremely important to her psyche as well as her health.

In the wild, cats are very careful with their waste. When urinating and defecating, they are normally very careful to dig and bury their urine and feces. This behavior has two reasons behind it.

The first is that in the wild smaller cats are often preyed upon by larger predators such as coyotes, wolves, owls, eagles, and other large birds and mammals. In an effort to keep their presence hidden from predators, cats keep their scent hidden. Only the large-and-in-charge male cats or extremely territorial females will mark their territories by spraying – and even this marking puts them at risk.

The second reason is that cats are predators themselves. In order to keep their prey from smelling them and knowing they are in the area, they bury their excrement. This keeps cats incognito, and reduces the likelihood that their prey will smell their presence before they are close enough to pounce.

So what does a wild cat’s habits have to do with our domesticated friends?

Indoor cats retain many of the instincts they had when they were wild. Luckily for us, burying their output is one of the instincts they retained.

Now – imagine you are a cat. Would you want to go to the bathroom in a dirty litter box?

As cats dig in the box for a place to go, the last thing they want is their paw to hit a past deposit. This is why if you have a large litter box, you will find that your cat mostly fills up the top portion. She doesn’t want to dig too deep and risk hitting anything yucky.

If you let your litter box get too dirty, chances are your cat will start going either next to the litter box or in another part of your home.

While it’s easy to get mad at your cat for this, you only have yourself to blame. No one likes to use a dirty bathroom, and our meticulously clean feline friends are no different.

Imagine if you had to walk into a dirty porta-potty barefoot, and then lick your feet clean when you were done. It’s pretty gross, and that’s how your cat feels every time she has to use her dirty litter box.

If your cat has started urinating or defecating outside the litter box, the best thing you can do is clean the spot with an all natural enzyme cleaner like Nature’s Miracle. This cleaner is actually made up of good bacteria that will eat away the things that are on or in your carpet; in this case, cat urine and leftover fecal particles. This will almost completely eliminate any lingering odors, and will hopefully prevent your cat from wanting to go in the same place again.  

The good news for you if you hate cleaning the litter box is that there are several types of automatic litter boxes on the market. While they are significantly more expensive than your average litter box, they are more than worth it if scooping poop isn’t really your thing.

When choosing which one to buy, be sure to read reviews and pick one that you think your cat will like. I also suggest getting one that can use any brand of litter.

cat-on-toilet-seat

If you don’t want to get an automatic litter box or diligently clean a regular one, consider potty training her! Potty training cats can be a challenge at first, but once they get the hang of it you can say good bye to litter boxes for good.

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

How to prevent urinary tract infections in cats

Cat in Kitchen Sitting on Counter

By Mary Beth Miller

Did you know bladder infections are the number one reason cats visit the veterinarian?

In fact, feline urinary tract infections (FUTIs) affect over 3% of the feline population just in the U.S. alone, not including all the cases that are left untreated. Whether your cat has experienced bladder infections in the past or not, your cat is at a constant risk.

What is a feline urinary bladder infection? 

A urinary tract infection occurs when environmental bacteria enters the urinary system. Bacteria live and grow in warm, damp places, which explains why these bacteria thrive inside the hollow organ that is the bladder. Although commonly referred to as a bladder infection, the infection can take place inside any of the three parts that make up the urinary tract—the bladder, ureters, and urethra. Symptoms of a FUTI include:

  • polyuria (excessive urination)
  • pain during urination
  • fever
  • straining or inability to urinate
  • vocalization during urination
  • abdominal pain
  • bloody urine
  • increased water intake
Causes of cat bladder infections

A cat can develop an infection of the bladder for many reasons, including:

Improper hygiene – Cats often develop a urinary tract infection due to feces entering the reproductive organ. Close proximity between vagina and anus in female cats can cause fecal matter to enter the urinary system while defecating.

Decreased water intake – The process of urination allows the body to eliminate waste and toxic materials, but this process can only occur with the presence of water. The less water a feline drinks, the greater the chance of developing an infection.

Reproduction activities – Intact females often develop urinary tract infections because the breeding process moves bacteria into the body.

Medical ailments – Medical problems such as cystitis (inflammation of the bladder) often result in secondary bladder infections.

Stress – Stress triggers hormone levels in the body to rise and causes the bladder pH level to become imbalanced, which allows bacteria and yeast to form within the bladder.

How to prevent a feline urinary tract infection

There are several ways to help prevent FUTIs.

Clean your cat’s litter box daily – The less fecal and urinary matter your cat is exposed to, the lesser chance they have of contaminating themselves with bacteria.

Provide an appropriate number of litter boxes in the household – The general rule for litter boxes is having a box for each cat, plus one extra. Cats tend to assign themselves a litter box that they use regularly. A litter box for each cat can also make it easier for you, the owner, to identify health problems. For example, if one litter box is fuller than the other, you can assume that cat is using it more often and should be monitored.

Provide clean, fresh water every day and wash the water bowl – The probability of a cat developing problems within the bladder is increased when he or she is not drinking enough water.  A cat is more likely to drink water when it is clean and fresh.

Decrease stress in the home – Stress triggers hormone levels in the body to rise and can cause imbalances in your cat’s bladder pH levels, which in turn can cause recurring infections.

Closely monitor for higher risk factors – Cats over the age of 10 and those allowed to reproduce are at higher risk for developing bladder infections.

To help prevent future infections, your vet may prescribe D-Mannose, a non-metabolizing sugar to which bacteria attaches for subsequent excretion in the urine. D-Mannose is not a drug, but is highly effective in cats with recurrent bladder infections.

If your cat has had a bladder infection in the past, or is showing any of the above symptoms, always consult your veterinarian. Only an animal medical professional can diagnose your cat’s condition and make an appropriate treatment plan.

******

mary-beth-miller-pawedinMary Beth Miller is a registered veterinary technician from southeast Iowa. She works in a large/small animal veterinary clinic and also volunteers at the local Humane Society, Emergency Animal Care Center, as well as the Iowa Parrot Rescue. Her passion lies in helping save the lives of animals.

 

Top tips for selling a home with a pet in the house

mo-sofa

By Jason Feldman, Chicago Pet Friendly Real Estate

Selling a home can be complicated… and even more so when you have a pet. People have asked me questions like:

  • What should I do about the hairy mess my cat leaves on the sofa?
  • My dog usually urinates from being overly excited when there are strangers in the home. What do I do with my dog when there are showings?
  • My dog has a pee pad. Can I leave that in the closet?
  • My bird has a foul mouth. How do I keep him from cussing out visitors?

Here is our checklist for selling your home with a pet in the house:

Whenever possible, remove your pet from the house during showings and open houses. If they have to be there, then make sure they are in a secured, locked cage or room. Put a sign on the room door that alerts visitors to the presence of the pet so that nobody freaks out.

Clean and remove stains, giant tumbleweed cat hairballs, and unpleasant odors.

Remove dog and cat toys so nobody trips on a squeaky ball.

Move food and water bowls if they are a tripping hazard, they smell, or are just plain ugly.

Make sure your realtor highlights any special elements that incorporate a hidden dog feeding area or cat litter box. Other animal lovers will be attracted to these features.

Remember to remove excrement pads and clean the cat litter before all showings. No exceptions here! Walking into a kitchen with a cat *ahem* “gift” on the floor is not the prettiest element of a kitchen.

Repair or replace any damage like scratches on the back of doors (yes, you CAN see how your dog misses you while you are away). Consider refinishing the floors if there are visible scuff marks.

Make sure your realtor screens all buyers before they view your property (condos) to make sure their type of pet, size, and quantity will be allowed. This will help avoid wasting your time.

Lastly, make sure your realtor knows all of the pet-friendly features in your building and neighborhood, such as dog spas, dog runs, nearby parks, walking services, and more.

All of these should help make selling your home easier and faster, and make the experience better for your pet, too. Good luck!

********

jason-feldman-croppedJason Feldman is a Realtor specializing in helping people with pets buy and sell homes in the Chicago area. His website is Chicago Pet Friendly Real Estate, and be sure to check out his Facebook page for more great tips on buying and selling a home!

Spring is here – get out and volunteer!

 

kittens-555822_960_720

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

I find it a lot easier to contemplate new projects when the weather starts warming up. Maybe it’s the longer days. Maybe it’s the rising sap. Whatever it is, every year around this time I feel like doing a wholesale purge of all the stuff I’ve accumulated over the winter and starting something new.

Lots of shelters and rescues get busy in the spring, too, and many see an uptick in adoptions as the weather gets better. With the increased activity, many of these organizations find themselves short-handed and scrambling to take care of the potential adopters as well as the animals. The start of kitten season also puts additional stress on limited resources.

If you’re interested in doing volunteer work with animals but don’t know exactly what you want to do, check out the opportunities at one your local shelters. The larger shelters generally have a range of volunteer opportunities available, and most will allow cross-training into different programs. These shelters tend to have a wait list, so if you want to sign up be prepared to wait a bit for an open orientation date.

Almost all shelters and rescues need foster volunteers, so if you can have pets in your home this is a great way to help without committing to a certain number of hours at an outside facility. Many rescues are foster-based, which means they can’t bring an animal into their program without already having a foster home lined up for it.  A foster pet’s expenses (food, medicine, vet visits, equipment) are covered while in your care, so it’s a great way to be involved for very little cost.

You can also volunteer with your own animals, through programs like Pet Partners. Opportunities for animal-assisted therapy range from educational programs with at-risk youth to hospital or care home visits to de-stressing sessions with college students. Some organizations even allow human-animal teams to include pets other than dogs and cats, such as birds, horses, miniature pigs, and llamas.

In addition to all of the other benefits, volunteering is a great way to build or fill in gaps on a resume. Beyond taking care of the animals, most places will have volunteer opportunities available for people with social media, marketing, photography, clinic, and special event experience; and, if you don’t have the experience but want to get some, it’s a great way to get started.

Where are your favorite places to volunteer? We’d love to hear from you!

********

Did you know that you can post your volunteer opportunities on our job board? Register for a profile here or contact us at hello@fetchfind.com for more details!

 

 

10 common yard items that can be dangerous for pets

 

dog garden flowers

By Rebecca Paciorek

Spring is finally here, and the weather is getting better every day! You’ve planted flowers to make your yard look nice, you’ve built a swing set for the kids and a fence for the dog, and you’re thrilled to have that cute new shed to store things in. But have you taken a good look around to suss out the possible dangers to your furry friends?

Every year many animals are injured because of hidden yard dangers. Of considerable importance are various plants that may be beautiful to look at, but can be very toxic when ingested.

Lilies – Not all lilies are toxic, but the more dangerous ones are the “true” lilies, including the Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter, and Japanese Show lilies. While toxic to dogs, they are HIGHLY toxic to cats. Just a couple petals can be very dangerous, so keep an eye on those Easter gifts, inside or outside of the home.

Hydrangeas – Hydrangeas can cause serious gastrointestinal issues when ingested (the leaves and flowers contain the highest concentrations of toxins). Symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea.

Daffodils – The flowers and leaves are toxic, but the bulbs are particularly dangerous; they can cause vomiting, extreme salivation, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, and cardiac arrhythmias.

Oleanders – Oleanders can cause colic, diarrhea, drooling, vomiting, tremors, seizures, respiratory distress, and cardiac failure. Oleanders are dangerous to multiple species (cats, dogs, horses, cattle, and humans) so it’s best to keep all of your animals far away.

Azaleas – In addition to the usual gastrointestinal symptoms, azaleas may cause confusion, lack of coordination, or even paralysis.

For a more comprehensive list of plants that can be dangerous for your pets, click here. 

Other common yard items that can pose a danger to pets include:

Fertilizers – If you have pets, it’s best to avoid fertilizing your lawn if at all possible. If you must fertilize, keep them inside while any sprays are being put down so that they don’t get anything on their paws to lick later.

Swing sets – Wooden play sets produced prior to 2003 may be constructed of arsenic-treated wood, which is toxic to both people and animals. You will want to keep all swing sets in good repair to prevent splintering. The splinters can be dangerous should your pet swallow or step on them. Also, wooden play sets are vey attractive to bees and wasps; ask your local exterminator for tips on keeping stinging insects at bay.

Ticks and mosquitoes – Mosquitoes can carry heartworm and the West Nile virus; they like to breed in still water, such as decorative ponds or other areas of stagnant or standing water in your yard (think rain barrels or clogged gutters).

Ticks are typically found around tree-filled areas, but they can be anywhere. In addition to Lyme disease, ticks can also carry ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever (among other things). To see what kind of ticks are prevalent in your area, check out the Tick Activity Map on the Tick Encounter Resource Center website.

Garages and sheds – Though it’s handy to have a shed or garage in your backyard, there are many things typically stored there that could prove dangerous to your pets, such as fertilizers and insecticides. Fluids that contain ethylene glycol (which has a sweet taste) are also very dangerous; these include antifreeze, windshield de-icing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, photo developing solutions, paints, solvents, etc. Ethylene glycol poisoning can be fatal unless treated immediately.

Fences – While it’s great to have a fence for your pet, if it is not in good shape it can prove dangerous. If Fido sees a squirrel on the other side, he may try to squeeze through a small hole or slide underneath. This behavior can lead to injury from metal fence parts that are sticking out. Walk the perimeter of your fence from time to to keep an eye out for any holes and or other dangers.  If you have a wooden fence, periodically inspect the slats and crosspieces for stinging insects.

What to do in an emergency

If you notice symptoms like lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, etc., the first thing to do is consult your vet. They will most likely ask you about your yard and home and potential dangers your pet may have encountered. If you know what your pet has ingested, or have a range of potential culprits, bring the plants or containers to the vet if possible so they can develop the most effective treatment plan.

Resources

 

********

rebecca-paciorek-pawedinRebecca Paciorek is an avid animal lover, particularly dogs, and loves volunteering for animal shelter events. Her degree is in Communications from Miami University and she specializes in digital media. Rebecca, her husband and their son are “foster failures” of a shelter dog named Lucy. Lucy needs a friend but Rebecca is hesitant because she’s not sure she can spoil another dog quite as much.

 

 

Why are most calico cats female?

calico-cat

By Emily Bruer

Calico cats have arguably one of the most beautiful coats in all of cat-dom.

Many people believe that “Calico” is used to describe a breed, but it is actually a coat color that can be found in many different breeds. This coat pattern is entirely unique and you will never find two calicos with the exact same markings.

A common myth is that all calico cats are female. While the large majority of calicos are female, one in 3,000 are male. The reason for this is completely genetic: the orange/non-orange coat color is carried on the X chromosome. Each parent contributes one chromosome to the baby. Females have XX and males have XY. This means that the father of the kittens determines the gender.

However, to get a calico coat the kitten must have both an orange and a non-orange X chromosome, which one would assume means that all calicos are female. In some rare cases, however, faulty cell division can cause an extra X chromosome. This extra X would be reproduced in all the cells, and if one of the Xs has the orange gene and one has the non-orange, the resulting kitten could be a male calico.

The XXY gene sequence can cause health conditions such as weak muscles, slow growth, and hormone imbalances and is referred to as Klinefelter’s syndrome.

If you are one of the few people who ends up with a male calico, there are a few things you should know. The first is that almost all male calicos are sterile.

1 in 10,000 male calicos are able to reproduce, but their genetic materials can be problematic due to their extra chromosomes. For a male calico to be able to reproduce they would have to have two double cells XXYY, which, as you can imagine, is very rare.

Another way that a male cat can be a calico is through two fetuses merging in the mother’s womb. This is referred to a chimera: during the merge one of the DNA strands can determine the coat color, while the other determines the reproductive organs. This is extremely rare, but it has occurred.

When choosing your new cat, be sure to base your choice on more than coat color. Let the adoption staff know about your home, activity level, and other pets, as many staff members will know the cats in their care exceptionally well.

Keep in mind that the shelter is a terrifying place for most animals, and some may act completely shut down or aggressive in the shelter when they are amazingly sweet, affectionate and outgoing in a home. While the staff may not be able to tell you exactly how a cat will act in your home, they may be able to guide you toward a cat they think will be a great fit.

If you don’t currently have a cat, consider adopting a bonded pair of adult cats. Bonded pairs have a hard time getting adopted, but they have twice the amount of love to give. They can keep each other company as well as help each other stay fit and exercised.

The only thing better than one calico cat is two!

********

Looking for your new calico pal(s)?  Check out the listings on a national adoption databases like Petfinder or Adopt-a-pet, or through a local rescue or shelter. 

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years, she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.

 

 

Feline monsters!

by Emily Bruer

Do you know about the Norwegian Forest Cat, the Siberian Forest Cat, or the Maine Coon?Each of these breeds is larger than life and full of personality!

Norwegian Forest Cat

This majestic feline has a history shrouded in myth and mystery. It’s said that the Norwegian traveled on ships with the Vikings and even appeared in Norse mythology and legends.

Other names you may hear in reference to these Viking cats are Skogkatt or Norsk Skogkatt. This beloved cat was even made the official cat of Norway by King Olaf in the 1970s.

norwegian-forest-cat

Early in the 20th century the Norwegian was facing possible extinction. Special breeding programs were founded with the intent of preserving the breed, but WWI and WWII halted their progress. The program started back up in the 1970s and is still going strong today.

The first breeding pair of Norwegians was imported to the U.S. in 1979 and it was granted championship status with The International Cat Association (TICA) in 1984. The breed has grown to be very popular in the states and with fanciers across the globe.  

The Norwegian has a beautiful thick coat that it developed during the harsh winters in Norway. Its undercoat is dense and topcoat is water resistant. Grooming is surprisingly easy, as it only requires brushing once or twice a week.

Also notable is the Norwegian’s stocky, yet athletic body. These cats are very athletic and capable hunters that can adapt to almost any situation with ease.

Most fanciers would describe the Forest cat as mild mannered and loving. They enjoy cuddling with their owners, but like to maintain their independence. They are very intelligent and are great at learning tricks and playing games. They are great around other pets and children, and make great additions to just about any cat loving home.

Siberian Forest Cat

The origin of this ancient breed predates written records, though the earliest references to them were made in 1000AD. Russian fanciers began keeping records of the breed in 1980, and it was officially recognized by TICA in 1992.

The Siberian is a large cat with heavy bones and powerful muscles. His back legs are slightly longer than his front, making him a powerful jumper.  

siberian-forest-cat

In the winter, these fancy felines have a dense triple layer coat, but in the summer it sheds for one much lighter and easier to manage. Daily brushings are required year round to keep their gorgeous coats tangle free and beautiful.

With a personality as big as they are, the Siberian is known for her loving personality and dedication to her owner. She loves playing games and is intelligent enough to learn just about anything you want to teach her.

If you are looking for the perfect family cat, the Siberian is as perfect as it gets.  She does well with children and other animals and bonds closely to her family. Be ready for her to greet you with chirps when you walk through the door after a day away from the house.

Maine Coon Cat

This legendary cat breed has a mysterious background, with one myth even stating that it is a mix between raccoons and feral cats. While this is biologically impossible, the actual origins are unknown.

Though many believe they are descendants of cats brought to the states by the Vikings —most likely Norwegian Forest Cats — that mixed with the native cats of the land.

maine-coon

These felines have a thick coat that is water resistant and heavy. It is easy to maintain, requiring only weekly brushings. They come in all colors and patterns, with the most prominent being the brown tabby. Their tails are bushy and long, and are a great indicator of their moods.

Maine Coons are extremely people-oriented and intelligent. They love nothing more than accompanying their owners through the house and curling up with them for snuggle time. These kitties are great with kids and other pets and are a relatively quiet cat breed.

The Maine Coon, Siberian, and Norwegian are all highly intelligent cats that pick up on toilet training and other endeavors rather quickly. If you’d like to adopt a cat that needs a home, check out the listings on a national adoption databases like Petfinder or Adopt-a-pet, or breed-specific rescue websites or social media groups. 

********

emily-bruer-pawedinEmily Bruer has been penning the adventures of her imagination since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Working at animal shelters for the last five years, she learned an incredible amount about animal care and behavior. She is currently employed at a vet clinic where she continues her animal education. Emily’s love of animals is evident when you step into her home, which she shares with six dogs and six cats, all of whom were rescues.