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Halloween Cat Costumes? Hissss-terical!

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orange cat in tiara princess dress

“Ready for my close-up!” (Image Copr. Karla Spence/Flickr)

Halloween cat costumes–I can hear the cats snickering (or screaming in horror). Do your cats “do dress up?” With Halloween just around the corner, thoughts of goblins, ghosts and get-ups begin to tease at the back of pet lover’s minds. Princess Molly in the picture seems quite happy with the frills but I suspect my Seren-Kitty wouldn’t be quite so accommodating. If you want your cats to willingly wear costumes, TODAY is not too early to introduce the notion.

In fact, knowing how to get cats to accept wear-ables may be important to kitty health. (How’s that for a teaser? :)) Read on to learn more.

cat in costume

“Snoopy’s got nuthin’ on me!” (Image Copr. Karla Spence/Flickr)

The images in today’s blog were taken by the amazing photographer Karla Spence who obviously has the cat costume thing down pat! Probably the most kitty acceptable accoutrement (especially if your cat already wears a collar) is some neck adornment like the red sash on the Sky Pilot picture, above. Whole body costumes, as below, take a bit more getting used to. Also remember that the photos here–and in advertisements–are POSED shots! Sure the cat wore the costume and looked great at the moment the shutter clicked, but thereafter may have been throwing a hissy fit. The Number One consideration for cats and costumes must be IS IT SAFE, and a close second is–how does it affect your cat emotionally?

cat in motorcycle jacket costume

“Just call me Fonzie.” (Image Copr. Karla Spence/Flickr)

Safety issues include making sure the costume fits correctly. Too tight can cut off circulation or block vision. Too loose can tangle kitty feet, slide off partially and get caught on “schtuff” that again can cause injury or even strangulation.

Check for any chew-able parts of the costume. I caught Seren gnawing the cellophane wrapper on packaging yesterday, so if the costume has “danglies” that entice paws or nibbles, remove them. Remember to SUPERVISE your costumed cat. Even laid back cats that seem to take costumes in stride shouldn’t be left unattended.

Emotional issues also can be problematic. Cats hate change so anything new tends to hiss them off. Slow and gradual introductions to the costume are vital. I have a step by step 7 tips for Halloween costumes written for puppies–but it applies to adult dogs and cats just as well. Please share with anyone you know who plans to dress up their pets for the coming season.

You might want to share it with ANY pet parent. Because as I said earlier, there are times when therapeutic wear can be very beneficial. There’s an awesome product called the Pet Therapy Jacket that has some wonderful functions. It can hold a hot or cold pack in a particular spot (over achy arthritic hips), or help keep a bandage in place on a paw. It comes in several sizes, including jumbo for the largest cats and dogs. Here’s a review of the Pet Therapy Jacket.

cat wearing pet therapy jacket

Seren accepted the Therapy Jacket immediately.

I talked about the Thundershirt in the blog before, and how much it helped Seren deal more calmly with veterinary visits. Well, a Thundershirt is a cat costume! Here’s a review of the Thundershirt, and check out Seren wearing hers below.

Does your cat dress up for the howl-idays? How does that work for you? Do you do full costumes, fancy bows and collars, or does your cat say GET THE !@#$%^! AWAY FROM ME WITH THAT THING! Do tell…

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book give aways and appearances related to my  THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Feline Friday: All Stressed Up–We Can Fix That!

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My cat Seren(dipity) hates visiting the veterinarian. Nothing against the vet, he’s marvelous and is the first practitioner who has managed to give her any semblance of a thorough exam in years! No, my little 6-pound dynamo simply prefers to stay home and in fact many cats are home-bodies that love the status quo and turn into kitty-maniacs at the first sniff of change.

But of course, all cats need veterinary check ups on a routine basis. And since Seren is now 14+ years YOUNG, it’s even more important that she receive regular health checks.

THUNDERSHIRT

A few weeks ago, I learned that Thundershirt (originally designed for thunder/noise-phobic dogs) was available for cats. In fact, the kind folks at the company offered to send me a sample to review. They asked me about my pets, and imagine my surprise when they sent not one sample but FOUR! Yes, they provided me with a small, medium and large Cat Thundershirt, and a GINORMOUS-SIZE Dog Thundershirt for the Magical-Dog (stay tuned for a review of the doggy version).

Now, Seren could care less about thunder, fireworks or other loud noises. She simply runs to the window, hurls cat curses and demands cooperation from the weather. But she DID have her next veterinary visit due and I figured that would be the purr-fect test to see if the claims for stress reduction actually held merit. I knew that similar products like TTouch wraps used gentle pressure that offered a calming influence, and in fact I’ve been using a harness for several years to mimic this effect. The harness also gives the owner something to grab when the kitty wiggles or otherwise tries to escape.

10 YEARS AGO

A little background–about 10 years ago Seren had a dentistry at the vet’s (a different clinic than the current one). She didn’t really have bad teeth but I wanted a thorough check and some baseline blood work. The tests indicated a problem so the doctor also ran a urinalysis that showed she had diabetes.

Huh? Really? This surprised (and scared me!) because the tests indicated full-blown disease and Seren had none of the signs of increased thirst or urination or weight loss. So I contacted a veterinary internist/specialist Dr. Dottie LaFlamme (awesome vet who answered me immediately!) and ended up running a home urine test that said she was normal. It was the STRESS of the vet visit that created a false positive for diabetes.

SEREN’S VET VISIT

Fast forward a decade, and my petite kitty still stresses during vet visits despite the halter. Also, for the past few months I noticed an increase in water intake and urine output. At first, I attributed it to her awesome new CatIt water fountain that she LOVES, and so she drinks more. But…she’s the right age for all sorts of metabolic or other issues to rear ugly-icity such as hyperthyroid disease, kidney failure and (gulp) diabetes. All can be treated and managed, but they just ain’t conducive to a happy situation.

I scheduled an exam, and a week out began introducing Seren to the Thundershirt (small size). All fasteners are with multiple strips of Velcro so are easy to fit the somewhat stretchy material. She already walks readily with either an H-harness or figure-8 harness so I didn’t expect too much of a learning curve. It’s not unusual for cats first fitted with a halter (or Thundershirt) to fall over and act PARALYZED-I CAIN’T MOVE! from the odd feeling.

Seren didn’t object to being fitted with the Thundershirt. She didn’t fall over, and actually stood still during the fitting, but loudly complained (normal for her!). The strap goes around the neck/chest, and the cape-like “shirt” drapes over the back and is wrapped snug around the tummy. But even the small size was a weeeee bit long in the body for my tiny cat, and she did a lot of plantigrade stance (back feet heel-to-floor) unless I scritched her tail area to create that elevator-butt effect. That seemed to convince her that she COULD move while wearing the thing.

Some cats would take longer to acclimate. Seren wore hers for five and then 10-minute stretches a couple of times a day for three or four days. She continued plantigrade stance up until the last day before her vet visit. And while at the vet this past Monday and wearing the Thundershirt, she was far less vocal and hissy than in the past. She even allowed the vet to look in her mouth and ears, and had the check up only required vaccinations and suchlike, it would have been a wonderful success right there.

SEREN’S TEST RESULTS

It’s amazing the noise level a 6.1-pound cat can produced when picked up and carried into the back room by the vet. Wow–wonder if they make a Thundershirt stress reliever in “owner size” category?! In any event, for the third time in her life (once for spay at 4 months of age, once 10 years ago for dental), Seren went to “kitty jail” at the vet for a full blood panel, urinalysis and thyroid function test.

The doctor told me Seren was actually quite good (huh…degrees of good-icity?) once away from “mom.” She was sedated for the blood draw. With her history of stress-induced sugar-spill I was amazed that the urinalysis came back absolutely normal! To me, that indicated some major stress reduction. Was it the Thundershirt? It’s difficult to point to a direct cause-and-effect but certainly, Seren was more willing to be handled during her time at the vet.

Her CBC and other blood panel values came back normal, too, although kidney function was “borderline” indicating she’s close to falling into very early kidney disease. I had to wait for the thyroid tests to come back from Texas A & M. I got the call this afternoon–NORMAL! Wow, my stress levels dropped accordingly.

The take away message, I think, is to pay attention to your pet’s normal behaviors and get a check on anything that seems outside the norm. As it turns out, maybe I could have waited on Seren. Kidneys are amazing organs, though, and compensate so well that by the time you see obvious signs (more drinking, more urination) up to 70% of kidney function is gone. Learn more about cat kidney disease, feline diabetes, and cat hyperthyroidism (and how to treat) in COMPLETE CARE FOR YOUR AGING CAT.

Seren will get a new diet, one that takes a bit of the strain off her kidneys to give this 14-years-YOUNG cat as many more happy, healthy years as possible. Because 14 years are not enough. And if stress reduction helps her keep kitty-calm during vet visits, the Thundershirt is an easy and practical, non-invasive option.

I am a fan. And–check out Seren-the-Model in the video, below. FYI, she always talks (from both ends…tail never stops!).

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with excerpts from the forthcoming THRILLER, LOST & FOUND, and pet book give-aways!

Feline Friday: Ask Amy-Why Cats Hate Cars

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"Nice bed...as long as it doesn't move, Mom..."

I’ve blogged about traveling with pets before. Chances are, you won’t have to worry about cat plane travel with your kitty-kids, but every pet must at least visit the veterinarian for well pet exams.  My Seren-kitty is due a vet visit this month, too, and she’ll be wearing her brand-new cat-designed Thundershirt to see if that helps calm her down (stay tuned for a review!).

P1010012

A halter and leash gives you something to grasp, other than slinky-kitty.

Kitty crate training goes a long way toward helping cats feel more comfortable about the car ride. But to date, I’ve found a number of things help keep my cat calm for the ride. I sit in the back seat with her while my husband drives to the clinic. Should we have a fender bender, the airbag from the front could crush a pet, so the fur-kids always ALWAYS stay in the back.

Meanwhile, Seren wears a halter and leash. The snug fit of the halter uses the same principle as the TTouch body wraps, which I suspect are what prompted products like Anxiety Wrap for dogs and the Thundershirt. I like having her secured with a halter, though, for something to grasp if she gets wiggly, even though she stays in her carrier.

By scheduling appointments so dogs (spit!) aren’t around when we enter the clinic, and so she’s seen immediately, Seren has less time to angst. I’ll also admit that part of choosing this clinic was they’re less than a 10 minute drive away–again, less time for the kitty to get wound up on the ride. It’s awesome, though, that our veterinarian not only takes great care of the Magical-Dawg but also has managed to get a hands-on full exam of my 7-pound devil-kitty without blood-letting.

Do your cats tolerate, love or hate the car? How do you manage the trip? Please share your tips! The Ask Amy video answers the question, but what else would you add? For those of you with kittens, now is a GREAT time to teach car-etiquette to prepare for the adult feline life (kittens tend to be clueless about such things!). You’ll find crate training tips in Complete Kitten Care.

I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly FREE PUPPY CARE newsletter, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!