Betsy Schwartz (betsys) Thu 31 Jan 08 09:00
My cats are indoor-only, but I adopted them as kittens. My previous cat was an indoor-outdoor cat whom I adopted when he was two, and very accustomed to his freedom. I am not convinced that he could have been converted to indoor-only and I'd be interested in hearing stories from people who have succeeded. I had to keep my old cat in for a week once following surgery, and he drove us all NUTS. His interest in the outdoors did not slack in the slightest. (It also possibly did not help that his previous owner spayed him rather late in adolescence)
Carol Willette (carolw) Thu 31 Jan 08 14:51
Thanks for that reply, Arden, and I agree with you. As a fosterer involved in rescue and placement, I've seen this issue come up with adopters a lot. One person came to adoption day wanting a "street smart" cat (she was turned down). I think some people just do not want to clean litterboxes. I've worked with rescues that allow adoption to indoor/outdoor homes, as long as they aren't in a high-traffic area. But when I see dead cats on the side of the road, and hear that someone's cat has contracted FIV or FeLV from a cat fight, or drank antifreeze, ingested poison laid out by cat-haters, or got mangled in a car's engine, I have to ask, What price "freedom"? (Not to mention much higher vet bills.) Your critter condo sounds great. I've been wanting something like that for a long time -- have to really try to finally do it this summer!
Angie (coiro) Thu 31 Jan 08 15:02
In fact, the book tackles a number of myths about cats. From my observations, one of the most harmful perceptions that leads to these myths is that cats are "wild animals". That's used to justify any number of myths - that they "need" to be allowed to reproduce*, they "need" to be outside, to eat wildlife, and on and on. Of course cats have been domesticated for countless years. They're no more wild than we are. We can both get by outside a domestic, civilized setting, but we're better off with it. *I was gobsmacked to hear from one man that his dog shouldn't be fixed because "he needs to have sex to be a real male, he's gotta enjoy that." !!???!! How much projection was going on THERE, I wonder? And I wonder how many other beliefs we hold about cats (and other pets) that are a result of our anthropomorphizing them? Thoughts on that, Arden? (Oh, and lest I come off as holier-than-thou, my two babies are in fact indoor-outdoor. I have reasons, but no excuse.)
Lisa Harris (lrph) Thu 31 Jan 08 18:18
Fascinating. I am not a cat person, but I am reading along. I am truly fascinated by the fac that there is a bad reason for outdoor cats. I didn't know. My neighbors care for 3 outdoor cats.
streaming irreverent commentary (pauli) Thu 31 Jan 08 19:30
My cats Athena and Achilles were both strays adopted fairly young and started as indoor cats once I adopted them. I had screened in my back porch for them but Athena was particularly clever and managed to figure out how to loosen the screen and the next thing I knew they had got out. Athena didn't stray far but Achilles was quite the climber and went up the big tree in the cakyard to the garage. I eventually climbed up the tree myself to get him down and just as I got up there he jumped down himself, just to taunt me I guess. We moved soon after to a place in the country and let them out until the vet we had started taking them to told us about the greater life expectancy of indoor cats. I'm sure Achilles missed climbing trees tough usually when I came home he would be in the rafters of the garage which was as high as he could get. We also started taking them out on leashes. Later we moved to another house in town and continued taking them out on a leash. But Achilles got pretty good at slipping off the harness like Houdini and would go "feral" once he was off the leash. Getting him back inside without being scratched could be a problem and he even bit me once. But at any other time he was the sweetest cat in the world. Something seemed to switch in his brain when he "escaped." But he lived till the ripe old cat age of 18 as an indoor cat.
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Thu 31 Jan 08 21:18
I have three indoor cats. The two boys try to escape every chance they get. I have about a dozen barn cats, which used to belong to my neighbor but as of October or so they belong to me. I know a woman who works for the Legislature who is a high level volunteer for the SPCA and she told me about a program that would let me capture the cats, get them fixed for free, and get them back, and after the legislative session is over I plan to start doing that because after several years of a steady population, it's starting to grow. They're feral -- I can barely touch them, and that only recently -- but they know where the food comes from, and by 4 pm or so they start looking for me. I have a friend who built a vine-covered fenced enclosure on the side of his house for his cats to get into through a basement window. They're "outside" but in a cage.
Carol (carolw) Fri 1 Feb 08 02:27
Good on ya, Sharon! There's all sorts of info on TNR (trap-neuter-return) at Alley Cat Allies: http://www.alleycat.org Paul's story reminds me to tell everyone there is what's called "Pet Grade" screening available now. Much tougher than regular window screen. I have it in my "kitty room" and it's stood up to many climbing kitties.
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Fri 1 Feb 08 11:03
Carol is right - there are many ways to provide safe, outdoor access for indoor cats. In a recent issue of Catnip (I'm the editor), we did a product review on many of them. Earning "five-paw approval" was one called the Affordable Cat Fence (www.catfence.com) that can be used with chain link, wood and stone fences. Other products earning our Catnip "seal of approval" included Purr-fect Fence, a freestanding cat fence (www.purrfectfence.com), Room with a View, an expandable enclosure for windows (www.thecatsden.net), Feline Funhouse Outdoor, a one-piece enclosure that sets up instantly (www.wildwhiskers.com) and Cat Veranda, a lightweight, window-mounted observation cube for curious cats (www.cdpets.com). Learn more by visiting Catnip's website: www.tuftscatnip.com. Our monthly newsletter does not accept advertising and is subscription based and all articles are reviewed and evaluated by a team of experts from Tufts Vet School.
Angie (coiro) Fri 1 Feb 08 16:07
This has me wondering about the personality and psychology of the cat. Arden, you're with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants. What range of studies does that membership reflect? How far back does the formal study of cats' mental workings go? Is it relatively recent that pet owners have taken into consideration the cat's individual personality? (I particularly reflected on this in our discussion of those cats who just Will Not become indoor kitties.) What are some of the landmark findings in the study of cats as mentally and psychologically individual beings?
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Fri 1 Feb 08 19:13
Studying cat behavior is not new - it is just getting more attention these days. Perhaps because there are now 90 million felines purring (and okay, scratching some sofas) in American households. Yes, I am a member of the IAABC and yes, there are many studies past and present regarding cat behavior. Rather than feel like I am writing a dissertation, let me point you and the Well gang to these sites to pluck studies of your choosing on all things cat: San Fran SPCA Cat Behavior Library: http://www.sfspca.org/behavior/cat_library/ Healthy Cats Wellness site: www.healthycatsforlife.com The HSUS Cat Behavior Tip Sheet: http://www.hsus.org/pets/pet_care/our_pets_for_life_program/cat_behavior_tip_s heets/ About.com: cats http://cats.about.com/od/behaviortraining/Feline_Behavior_Issues_and_Training. htm
M (martyb) Sat 2 Feb 08 10:06
<scribbled by martyb Sat 2 Feb 08 10:12>
(martyb) Sat 2 Feb 08 10:26
I think we're getting towards the end of the interview time, so I will bring up a dog diet comment again - you can address it or not. I see that your Real Food for Dogs recipe book lists carbohydrates as necessary nutrients. This may be a casual shorthand for the book format, but in fact dogs do not have a dietary requirement for carbohydrates. It's true that dogs can use the energy from starches and sugars, and those ingredients are cheaper. People argue back and forth on whether dogs should get those carbs since their ancestry is the very low-carb diet of the wolf. IMO that argument is not resolved. But they don't need carbs. How did you come up with the recipes in the book? Are they recipes you developed and feed to your own dogs? Did you write the recipes and then run them past the vet, or did the vet give you a framework for the ingredients and then you came up with the recipes?
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Sat 2 Feb 08 14:57
Time for me to switch from being "catty" to donning my doggy chef apron for folks like Marty. I wrote Real Food for Dogs in 2001 (a new version is in the works that will be "meatier") with a top veterinary nutritionist. Some of the 50 recipes selected are ones I cook on occasion for my dogs and my friends' tail waggers. Others were provided by dog owners and some by the vet nutritionist. She analyzed all the meals and treats for safety. The recipes were intended to compliment, not replace quality commercial dog food. And, I purposely wanted many of the recipes to be edible for people, too to make this cookbook a time and money saver for people. Remember, this book is now 7 years old and we've learned a lot about canine - and feline - nutrition since then. I wish the book had listed a breakdown of calories, fats, carbs, etc. with each recipe and food portions. Hindsight is golden. I've learned a lot about pet nutrition since then and that is why one of my next books will be comprehensive and current on nutrition for dogs followed by a book for cats. As for my two dogs and two cats, they eat commercial food plus meals/recipes I prepare. There seems to be a trend toward homemade meals and "frozen" prepared raw diets these days. Perhaps the food recall played a part. Now more than ever, we need to pay greater attention to what's in the food bowl and if we do serve homemade meals for our pets, we need to work closely with nutrition-knowledgeable vets to select the right supplements to ensure a balanced diet.
(martyb) Sat 2 Feb 08 15:49
r That's great that you're doing a new version. The pet food recalls were disturbing. I haven't used the BalanceIt supplement but it sounded useful to be able to take care of the supplements with one mix, especially for people who are new to feeding homemade food. I had had questions from some of my relatives about making their dogs' food since they knew I did that, and I was hesitant to make recommendations about supplements. The BalanceIT site has a convenient food calculator that is fun to play with, although the results aren't always quite what I expect.
Carol (carolw) Sat 2 Feb 08 16:29
I believe Dr. Pitcairn has recipes in his book "Natural Health for Dogs and Cats" for cat food that have a lot of grains in them. He even argues that it's more environmentally sound to feed a proportion of grain to cats. But cats don't care about the environment! They are obligate carnivores and more than a very small amount of grains makes them ill eventually. I think this is what sets cats apart from dogs, but Dr. Pitcairn seems to lump them both together. And of course the pet food industry wants us to feed our cats corn, wheat and soy. (This reminds me of what Big Ag is doing to the meat we eat -- trying to "evolve" cows in factory farms to go from grass, which is what they're set up to handle, to corn and soy, which makes them sick. So they give them the antibiotics to keep them healthy enough to reach slaughter weight, which is why our antibiotics have stopped working...ok I'm ranting.) Arden, do you know any nutrition-knowledgable vets? From what I've seen and heard, most allopathic vets are still pushing Hill's Science Diet and their "prescription" foods, all very low-quality. And people take what their vets say as gospel. When it comes to nutrition, IMHO vets are way behind.
(martyb) Sat 2 Feb 08 16:52
(carolw, I was amazed to come upon a research study on feeding cartons of outdated chewing gum to cows - carton, packaging, metal wrappers and gum, all ground up together. I don't know if any cows outside the study were ever fed that way though.)
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Sat 2 Feb 08 18:24
Two of the most knowledgeable nutritional vets I know who are not connected to commercial pet food companies are Rebecca Remilliard, who operates the www.petdiets.com site and Tony Buffington, a top vet expert on food at Ohio State. In addition, Sally Perea is the newest adviser for Catnip newsletter and she is a consultant with DVM Consulting in the Davis, CA area. I will argue that there are some very talented and knowledgeable vet nutritionists who do work at pet food companies. The pet food recall was not only sad for pet owners whose beloved companions got sick or died, but it also impact the industry as well. I am noting that more and more companies are stepping up their quality control and more are offering healthier versions of dog and cat food. Carol is right - cats are not dogs and I am starting to see more efforts to provide food fit for felines on the commercial shelves. Advances in veterinary medicine AND nutrition are two big reasons why this generation of cats and dogs are living, on average, longer and healthier lives than those born one or two decades ago.
(martyb) Sat 2 Feb 08 21:40
There have been things that Dr. Remillard has written that put me off for one reason or another (speaking as a pet owner who chooses to make a home- prepared diet). I do think she's knowledgable.
Carol (carolw) Sun 3 Feb 08 03:14
Marty -- CHEWING GUM CARTONS??! Ack!!! Yes, that whole tainted food fiasco was sickening, wasn't it? I felt lucky that it didn't affect me. Some people pointed out that some of the most common cheaper foods -- Friskies, etc. -- weren't involved in the recall. And here we were thinking we were providing superior nutrition by paying more...
Arden Moore (arden-moore) Sun 3 Feb 08 08:32
Just like great wine, price does not always equate to quality pet food. That's why I always encourage people to read the label and not decide by price alone. Carol is right that some "lower priced" cat food did not land on the pet food recall list. Remember, especially for cats, the first ingredient must be a real protein - beef, chicken, lamb, fish - not "meat byproducts" or worse, "corn or wheat." Dogs also deserve chow where meat is No. 1. I also realize that there is a trend among making nutritious homemade meals -as Marty B does - it does a committment, but when done right, pets benefit with good health. As for Dr. Remillard, she does know her stuff. She is DVM, PhD and two-time president of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutritionists. She gives lots of presentations at vet conferences and participates in a lot of peer-reviewed studies. You may not always agree with her, but she takes a stand backed by her research.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 3 Feb 08 12:45
The chewing gum wrappers remind me of a story about cows being fed plastic scrubbies--the little hand-sized plastic netting things used to clean dishes--in order to provide some "fiber" to their guts, so they could tolerate a virtually fiberless diet of some leftover from industrial food processing. Just utterly bizarre. I am still feeding Miss Emily kibble, because it works for us, and she loves anything hard and crunchy, but have switched brands to find one with the meals and by products farthest down the list of ingredients. But she herself is not a determined carnivore--she spends just as much energy or more trying to steal tortilla chips as she does a pat of butter.
Carol (carolw) Sun 3 Feb 08 16:00
Funny girl! Well I have to say, after looking at the petdiets.com website, that I do not agree with Dr. Remillard on cat diets. Not to be discounting her credentials, but I would love for her to tell me why she thinks cats should have carbs in a ratio of 2:1 to meat. Her rationale is that although cats have been carb-free the whole of their existence and prefer to eat rodents, birds and insects, they do not always know what's best for themselves. !!! Also disagree with her assertion that pet food must be cooked to avoid food-borne pathogens. I know many experts that would also disagree.
paralyzed by a question like that (debunix) Sun 3 Feb 08 17:21
Don't know about the carb:protein ratio, but the idea that all of their food must be cooked just seems wrong--we eat steak tartare and sushi and salads. There is certainly a risk with raw foods, but with careful selection it should not be insurmountable. Does she only eat cooked foods herself?
M (martyb) Sun 3 Feb 08 17:35
<scribbled by martyb Sat 19 Apr 08 23:01>
(martyb) Sun 3 Feb 08 17:53
(condescending being my interpretation of her words, but that could be a mis-reading.)
Members: Enter the conference to participate