Archive | April, 2013

Saying goodbye to a furry family member

On Wednesday I said goodbye to my cat, Uly. I debated whether or not to write about it- whether or not this topic is the kind of thing readers want to read. In the end I decided to pay my respects to my furry family member that’s been with me for 18 years, not only for me and Uly, also in honor of all the wonderful family pets that have come and gone in all of our lives.

Welcome home, Uly!

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Uly, short for Ulysses, came to me via a private adoption. Back before Petfinder or craigslist it was a lot harder to privately rehome a pet.

In 1995 I worked at a nursing home in the Denver metro area. One day a woman called the facility trying to rehome her cat, asking us if we wanted a resident cat. Our facility already had a resident dog, but as it turns out I had been thinking about getting a companion for my cat, Palo.

I returned the woman’s call and she told me she needed to rehome her cat because she and her husband were taking custody of two orphaned children, one of which was allergic to cats.

I visited Uly and decided to adopt him.

Uly was the peace-keeper in the household, making sure everyone was happy and got along. Uly sensed when people were upset and immediately came over to cheer you up. When my home had more than 2 cats, Uly intervened whenever the other cats weren’t getting along. He was an easy-going, gentle kitty.

One of Uly’s favorite games was to “help” me make the bed each morning. Uly jumped up on the bed and crawled under the covers. He would lay on his back with his paws tenting the quilt, trying to “attack” my finger as I moved it along the top of the quilt.

Caring for a senior kitty

A few years ago Uly began to exhibit some health issues that come naturally with old age. His kidney function was beginning to decline and he went on a special diet. He developed high blood pressure and hyperthyroidism and we put him on appropriate medication. Last September he developed arthritis and we put him on more medication. Despite his various illnesses, his quality of life was good and his diseases were managed by the medication.

Saying goodbye

His kidney disease progressed over time and last week his kidney’s failed. I made the difficult and necessary choice to euthanize Uly, telling him I loved him as he look his last breath.

I am grieving for the loss of my sweet kitty and I am grateful he had a good, long life in which he was loved and cared for every day.

Goodbye, dear sweet Uly, thank you for bringing joy to my life!

Thank you to those who helped me care for Uly

I want to give special thanks to Dr. Susan Plaza at South Mesa Veterinary Hospital for taking such great care of Uly in his elder years. Dr. Plaza consistently went above and beyond, doing research on medication cost and options, and making Uly’s care a priority.

I want to give additional thanks to Rainbow Bridge Pet Crematorium. The staff at Rainbow Bridge is compassionate and they treat each animal with the utmost respect and care.

Honoring loss and love

To all of my readers that have lost a furry family member: I honor you for taking great care of your family. May you and your furkids enjoy the joy, love, and peace you have brought to each other. heart paw

7 Reasons We Love Dogs

Yeah, I’m a cat person but the fur doesn’t stop there- I’m a dog person, too! Dogs are great, and what’s not to love?

Colorado is undoubtedly a dog-friendly state, and Fort Collins is a dog-friendly city. Just take a stroll through Old Town in summertime and you see dogs everywhere. I’m in good company- Fort Collins loves dogs! Why- because dogs are awesome!

7 Reasons We Love Dogs

01. Dogs go where we go

Dogs are part of our families and part of our lives. They go with us just about everywhere- to the park, running errands, visiting family. Dogs are constant companions.

02. Dogs are great outdoor adventurers

Dogs love the great outdoors as much as most Coloradoans. We take our dogs hiking, camping, and exploring! I can’t think of a better buddy for outdoor fun.

03. Dogs are trainable

Good luck training your cat- cats are far more likely to train people. Dogs, on the other hand, can be trained to do amazing things!

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Image via Imgur

04. Dogs save lives

It seems like there’s a news story about a dog saving the lives of their family every few days. Just check out this story from last week about a pit bull that saved her family from a fire:

05. Dogs make good nap partners

I can always count on my dogs to snuggle up with me for naptime! Case in point, Malcolm and Maggie napping:

Maggie & Malcolm napping

06. Dogs make us laugh

"Just a Minute" Means ONE....

Image via Cheezburger

07. Dogs keep people healthy

Owning a pet, dog or cat, is good for your health! And walking your dog regularly is good for you and your dog!

7 Fun Facts About Dogs

01. More than 1 in 3 families in the US own a dog

02. Petey, the dog from the TV classic Little Rascals, was an American Bulldog, a breed often classified as a “pit bull”.

03. The US has the largest dog population in the world.

04. Dog nose prints are as unique as human fingerprints.

05. Dogs hear 10 times better than people.

06. George Washington owned 36 dogs.

07. 70% of dog owners sign their dog’s name on greeting cards.

Tell me about it! Why do you love your dog? What’s the best part of sharing your home with a pup?

What to do when your cat isn’t using the litter box

It’s cats! cats! cats! at Tails of Fort Collins! From a profile of Jake, The Amazing Therapy Cat to 7 Reasons We Love Cats to today’s post addressing inappropriate urination, it’s all about cats!

Are you more of a dog person? Never fear, more dog stories are coming soon!

Let’s talk about litter box problems- an unpleasant and all too common issue cat owners face.

Having lived with one or more cats my entire life, I’ve dealt with my share of inappropriate urination. The good news is every time I had to deal with litter box problems, I was able to find a solution that did not involve giving up my beloved pet.

Reasons Your Cat Isn’t Using the Litter Box

There are many reasons for inappropriate urination and with your veterinarian’s help, and a little trail-and-error, litter box issues can usually be resolved.

The most important thing to remember is cats (and dogs and all other pets) do not act inappropriately out of spite. Animals aren’t as petty and vindictive as humans can sometimes be- isn’t that part of the reason we love our furkids? They’re much nobler creatures than we.

Health issues

Cats experiencing health issues may eliminate outside the litter box because they are in pain or incontinent.

Cleanliness

Have you ever held it in to avoid using a portable toilet? Cats do that, too! If their litter box is gross and smelly to you, it’s gross and smelly to your cat.

Negative associations

Cats may avoid using the litter box if a past experience was frightening or uncomfortable, such as experiencing pain during urination as the result of a urinary tract infection, or being ambushed by another cat, dog, or child while using the littler box.

Location, location, location

If your kitty’s litter box is located in an inaccessible, inconvenient, or noisy location then kitty may just find a more pleasant area of your house to go.

It just doesn’t feel good

Cats are influenced by how their litter and litter box feels- it’s it too rough, too smooth, too deep, too shallow? Using the litter box may not “feel” good to your cat and he’ll find someplace that feels better.

My sweet kitty, Uly (short for Ulysses)

My sweet kitty, Uly (short for Ulysses)

Resolving Litter Box Issues

I have dealt with two cats that were urinating inappropriately- seemingly out of the blue! Both cats, Uly and Palo, were previously using the litter box appropriately and suddenly started urinating outside the litter box.

In both cases the reason for inappropriate urination was not health-related. The solution came from making several changes- from changing the brand of litter, moving the location of the litter box, to getting a new litter box, and varying the amount of litter and size of the litter boxes.

Get a veterinary check-up

Always rule out health issues first.

Keep the litter box clean

Try scooping the litter box daily and sanitizing the litter box monthly. If you have multiple litter boxes you may be able to scoop ever-other-day.

Add a litter box

In a multiple cat household it’s recommended to have one litter box per cat, plus an extra litter box.

I have three cats and four litter boxes.

Vary the size and height of the litter boxes

Some cats may prefer a low-height litter box- especially older cats that have stiff limbs.  Try different litter boxes until you find one that your cat prefers.

I have found each of my cats prefers different litter boxes depending on the size and height of the box. Uly prefers the lowest-height litter box.

Change the depth of the litter

Most cats prefer to eliminate in litter that is 1″ – 2″ deep.

Just like the litter box size and height, my cats have definite preferences about the depth of the litter they prefer. One box has about 1″ of litter while another is 2″ deep. Uly’s favorite is the box with just about 1″ of litter.

Change the brand of litter

If your cat stops using the litter box, try changing the brand of litter. Different brands have different textures, scents, and ingredients.

I had always used the same brand of litter until my cat Uly stopped using the litter box. On my veterinarian’s recommendation I switched to Precious Cat and haven’t had a problem since!

Change the location

Try changing the location of the litter box, making sure it’s in a safe and comfortable area of your home. You can even try having different litter boxes in different rooms and levels of your home.

Don’t scold or punish

Scolding and punishing your cat is scary and confusing to your cat and doing so may make inappropriate elimination issues worse and strain the bond between you and your pet.

Keep trying

Many litter box problems can be resolved. Try different solutions until you find one that works for you. Partner with your veterinarian for help! Keep trying for you and your cat!

Special thanks go to Dr. Julie Smith at Friendship Hospital For Animals for troubleshooting litter box solutions with me when Uly started eliminating outside the litter box. Many of the great suggestions I’ve shared with you are the very same suggestions Dr. Smith told me. Dr. Smith is also a top-notch bunny vet!

Share your success story!

Have you found a solution for litter box problems with your cat? What did you try? What worked? What didn’t?

7 Reasons We Love Cats

My friends and classmates at Wheat Ridge High School informally elected me “most likely to become a crazy cat lady”. What can I say, I love cats! I’m even a little crazy about them! (Or maybe I’m just crazy- that, too.)

In all my *cough* 38 *cough* years, I’ve never lived without a cat in my home. My very first tattoo was the paw print of my Lynx Point Siamese cat, Siki.

I have three lovable kitties in my home today. I’d even adopt another but the husband won’t go for it- silly husband!

As much as I love my dogs, cats will always have a special place in my heart and I’m not alone. According to a 2009 article in Scientific American, cats are the most popular in the world.

One could even argue cats rule the internet, with sites like I Can Has Cheezburger dominating popular culture.

Look, I maded a lol!

Look, I maded a lol!

Dogs certainly get a lot of attention in Northern Colorado, and there’s no doubt Fort Collins is a dog-friendly city, but cats outnumber dogs in our community.

Let’s face it- cats are awesome! Yep, it’s true. Okay, so I might be a little biased, and possibly even a crazy cat lady if not for the husband, but I stand by my opinion! Who’s with me?!

7 Reasons We Love Cats

01. Cats are great conversationalists

I have great conversations with my cats. They tell me about their day, or sometimes just what’s on their mind. I may not know what they are saying, but they sure do tell me all about it!

(It’s not all in my head, really. Not living down the title of crazy cat lady any time soon, am I?)

02. Cats are hilarious!

Cats are quirky, independent, and quite frequently hilarious!

Photographic and videographic evidence of cat hilarity can be found all over the internet. Just take a look at this video of a cat that loves to be vacuumed!

03. Cats are self-cleaning

Healthy cats aren’t smelly or dirty- they clean themselves! While long haired cats require brushing, for the most part cats are a low maintenance pet.

04. Cats are great apartment pets

Cats are allowed in many apartments and don’t require significant space to enjoy a healthy, happy life! They also don’t need to go outside.

05. Cats are family pets

Cats are an excellent choice as a family pet for just about any family! No matter your activity level, number or combination of family members, or location of your home- cats are a great addition to most families.

06. Cats purr

Is there any sound more amazing than a cat’s purr? Purrs are calming to cat and human and create a special bond between the two.

07. Cats reduce stress

Did you know owing a cat reduces stress? Having a cat in your life is good for your health!

Want more cat awesomeness? I’ve got it for you!

7 Fun Facts About Cats

01. Cats can see in the dark.

02. President Abraham Lincoln was a cat lover and kept four cats at the White House.

03. Cats have 32 muscles in each ear.

04. Cats can make over 100 vocal sounds.

05. Cats can usually jump 7 times the length of their tail.

06. Cats purr at the same rate as an idling diesel engine.

07. Cats can run up to 30 miles per hour.

Are you a cat person or a dog person? Or maybe, like me, you love both!

Meet Jake, The Amazing Therapy Cat!

Meet Jake, the coolest cat in town! Jake is a certified therapist for the Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay/Neuter Clinic (FCCRSNC) and his job is to provide comfort, education, and love to people in Fort Collins.

FCCR Jake working for hugsPhoto courtesy of FCCRSNC

Jake is a handsome cat of the Korat breed, with a heart-shaped face and silver-tipped blue coat that gives him a halo effect. Indeed, Jake is an angel to many members of our community!

Jake wasn’t always considered an angel. Early in his life Jake was surrendered to Larimer Humane Society for inappropriate urination. A friendly cat with a great personality, he was transferred from Larimer Humane Society to the FCCRSNC to address his litterbox challenges.

Jake was adopted from Fort Collins Cat Rescue & Spay Neuter Clinic and returned twice- always for the same reason- inappropriate urination. Despite this challenge, his outstanding personality continued to shine through.

As it turns out, Jake was a wonderful candidate to become a registered therapy pet. Jake successfully passed training through The Delta Society in partnership with the Larimer Animal People Partnership.

While dogs remain a popular choice for therapy animals, almost any animal can become a therapy pet. You can find therapy dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, and horses!

Today Jake lives at the shelter, attended by about 6 volunteer handlers that accompany Jake on his community visits spreading love and education throughout Fort Collins and Loveland, including Columbine Health and Rehabilitation, Crossroads Safehouse, Poudre River Public Libraries, Barnes and Noble, and area schools.

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Jake and his handler visiting a patient at Columbine Health and Rehabilitation Center

Photo courtesy of FCCRSNC

Jake is somewhat of a celebrity with adoring fans fawning over him while attending many FCCRSNC events like the Whiskers & Wags Jubilee.

Jake’s celebrity doesn’t stop there, he was also featured on Animal Planet’s TV show, Cats 101, on the episode about Korats!

Jake even has his very own Facebook page!

Jake truly is an inspiring feline member of our community. I believe we can all take Jake’s example to heart and make the most of our talents, despite our shortcomings.  Thanks, Jake!