Pages

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Safe Cleaning for You and Your Pets

I’m on a mission; not only for my cats’ health but for my own. I’m using as many homemade, safe and non toxic items as I can as opposed to chemicals to clean.

I stopped using sprays like Fantastic or 409 for my counter tops and Windex for my mirrors and windows. I now use a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water and if I need to disinfect something more than that, I use straight hydrogen peroxide. Because of it's acidic nature, vinegar cannot be used on natural stone counters, floors and tiles. I also don't use any dish detergents with phosphates, dyes or fragrances. But vinegar and baking soda is great to use on baked on pots and pans.

Usually I use a stove top cleaner called, Cerama Bryte cook top cleaner for my ceramic flat top stove. It says its eco friendly and biodegradable and it does not contain phosphates. However its main base is citric acid together with some other oil based liquids. I don’t know what those liquids are and citric acid can burn the skin. Seeing as how I don’t know if my cats jump on top of that surface at night when I’m asleep, (I can only imagine they do), I chose to stop using it and tried simple baking soda and vinegar. 

I sprinkled a little bit of baking soda on my stove top and sprayed it with the vinegar and water solution. I then took the same special scrub sponge I normally use with it, made especially for ceramic stove tops and voila! Clean as a whistle! I had to rinse really well though to make sure I got all the baking soda off just to be sure. But it worked like a charm, there’s no residue and it’s now safer for them. 


Next I switched from using Lysol toilet bowl cleaner to adding some baking soda and pouring a bit of straight white vinegar in the bowl. It fizzes and also works to unclog anything stopped up in the drain. I used my regular toilet brush (no chemicals on it) and it worked great! (No my cats don’t drink out of the toilet bowl but I still want to use safer cleaning items for myself).

I then took that same spray bottle with the vinegar and water solution and cleaned the rest of the toilet. For a great disinfectant fill another spray bottle with pure hydrogen peroxide and spray on the toilet seat and wipe. I also used the vinegar/water and baking soda to clean my sink and again, it worked really well; shiny, now safe for kitties to walk on it, and no toxins for me either. I did the same thing for the shower, used the baking soda and vinegar/water solution. And gone is the Scrubbing Bubbles spray bathroom cleaner.


For cleaning my floors, I use a Bissell Steam Mop but will not use the chemical laced cleaner pads that you can buy to go with them. I should have bought a Shark steam mop instead as it has a washable pad that comes with it but after spending $50 on the steam mop and liking the way it works, I’m keeping it. So instead I use some thick Swiffer dry pads and fill the tank with another 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Even works well on my laminate hardwood floors. Apparently though vinegar should never be used on natural stone of any kind whether it's the floor, counter tops or bathroom. Here is a great alternative to vinegar:
http://www.ehow.com/way_5553663_can-use-vinegar-clean-granite.html

Next is the furniture. Furniture polish contains petroleum distillates, which are highly flammable and can cause skin and lung cancer. They contain nitrobenzene, which is easily absorbed through the skin and extremely toxic. Since cats absorb everything through their skin very easily and lick it off, this was bothering me a great deal. I researched for days and found something about coconut oil. I tried it but it smears and doesn’t absorb into the wood. Then I found a recipe, non toxic, easy to make and shines like the dickens! I went the extra step and used organic apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Be aware that the organic ACV smells much stronger than regular but the smell does fade. Please do not use any fragrances, natural or not, as things like citrus of any kind and essential oils are toxic to cats. If you can, dust and polish when you’re able to open some windows for a few minutes to air the place out. Otherwise, just wait it out, the smell fades.
Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 tsp. of olive oil. The vinegar removes dirt from furniture and the olive oil shines without greasing. This homemade polish is safe for homes with kids and pets, and it's gentle enough to be used on most any surface that needs polishing. As you can see, my wood looks amazing! In fact, it hasn’t shined like this since I bought it years ago.
 
I no longer have carpets anywhere in my house but I did find these instructions and I know these ingredients are safe. Again, follow only the pet stain formula and don’t use any fragrances or essential oils:
Basic Pet Stain Formula

Try this on stains that have already set. Caution: test first on a hidden area
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
Note: You may be tempted to use a scrub brush for this treatment, but you risk splitting the carpet fibers if you work it too vigorously.

Baking Soda
White Vinegar
Liquid glycerin soap (or dish soap)
Hydrogen Peroxide
Mix equal parts of vinegar and water, and work the mixture well into the stain using a clean white towel. Blot well, and let dry. Once the area is dry, sprinkle baking soda generously over the spot. Mix together 1/4 cup peroxide with 1/2 tsp liquid soap then pour the soap mixture over the baking soda to dissolve it into the nap of the carpet. Work the paste down deep into the fibers. Blot again, and let dry. Vacuum to remove the residue. You may have to repeat this treatment on persistent stains. 
Last year we started using straight white vinegar as bug repellent around the house and yard. I couldn’t believe how well it works. You have to reapply it every so often, maybe once every couple of weeks to a month, but it does the job and you don’t have to worry about fumes or anything. We had these awful red bugs infesting our tree in the yard. They took over and multiplied like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. One year they were swarming the house and coming in everywhere. They don’t bite or anything but were an awful nuisance. I got desperate and sprayed chemicals on that tree for three straight years but it didn’t work that well and I hated handling that stuff. I decided last year to try the vinegar and I couldn’t believe how well it worked. I just dumped half a gallon jug of straight white vinegar on the tree and they were completely gone, the tree was fine.
I also take a spray bottle and go around the foundation on a nice day to get rid of anything like ants, crickets, etc. trying to get in. You can even spray it indoors as well, especially if you get ants in the kitchen area.
Vinegar is simply amazing and although it's not the greatest smell there is, the smell does wears off fast and I am very pleased with how well it cleans and how safe it is. My advice if you want to go green, get yourself a couple of gallon jugs of white distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. The uses are endless.


Monday, October 14, 2013

My Resolve

I wish I’d had Alex since she was a kitten. She traveled far and changed hands many times before coming to me. She never had a proper diet and maybe she still wouldn’t have had one even if she was with me. I didn’t learn what I did about pet food until it was too late for her.  I’d like to think maybe I would have learned about it sooner and maybe she would have had a healthier and longer life. I can do the “what ifs” all I want but it won’t change anything. I can’t get her back and I can’t erase her illnesses and how she died.

By the time she came to me she was obese. I put her on a diet and fed her Iams and Science Diet. I thought I was doing better by her than her previous owners did. She did start to lose weight but she also got very sick. She began throwing up all the time which eventually led to her anorexia and fatty liver disease. No doubt she was sick before I switched foods. I certainly don’t blame it solely on the foods I gave her; but they didn’t help the situation. (These particular foods contain a large amount of grains and by-products). While she was sick I did an enormous amount of research and I found groups and vets online that explained how cats don’t eat grains in the wild; how they’re obligate carnivores. Grains can cause everything in a cat’s system from diabetes, obesity, allergies, food intolerance, to the dreaded IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Things started to make sense to me but back then it was extremely hard to find grain free cat food.

I embarked on a mission to feed her a grain free diet. She was very sickly at this point but I had to try. Unfortunately the diet change was too little too late. Her system was destroyed and she left me regardless of my efforts. In the seven years since she first got sick I’ve done more research, started my website http://www.ibdkitties.net/, and more grain free products have become available. Many kitties with GI disorders have since been stabilized on a grain free and/or raw food diet and educating others on this subject has become second nature to me. I’ve got two cats that are now five years old and have always eaten grain free since the day I adopted them. After what I went through with Alex, I wanted to start them off right.

If there ever came a day that either one of them were so sick they needed prescription food, or they refuse profusely to eat anything else but food with grains in them; of course I’ll always do what’s best for my kids. But for as long as I can and with a lot of resolve, I’ll feed them a grain free diet. Why? Because I’ve never once seen a cat run into a field to eat the corn; they run into the field to eat the mouse that ate the corn. This is my preference based on what I’ve learned, what I’ve experienced and what I see in front of me. My cats have shiny coats, lots of energy, are a good weight and so far (knock on wood) are very healthy. Will this kind of a diet completely stop illnesses? No. Will it cure any illnesses? No. But next to raw food (which is the ultimate species appropriate feline diet) a grain free diet helps keep them at a proper weight, is low carbohydrate (cats don’t need and all those carbs) and higher in protein (which is what they should be getting).

Why don’t I feed a raw food diet? I’m still trying to. I should have started them on it when they were kittens and they tore into their food. Again, I’m still learning like everyone else. Now, they are much more stubborn. And this must be done slowly and with patience. NEVER let a cat starve because they won’t eat what you want them to. You risk hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) in less than 48 hours of them not getting the proper nutrition; and its life threatening. I don’t know that my cats will ever eat a full raw diet but either way, I’ll continue to try, and in the meantime to feed them grain free. My goal is to keep their digestive tracts working properly, for them to stay at a healthy weight, and to stick around their mom for a very long time.

Aflatoxin: The Single Pet Food Ingredient to Be Especially Vigilant About

The Truth About Grains

Do Dogs and Cats Need Grains?
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2005/02/05/pets-grains.aspx

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Good Vets, Bad Vets

Do you have a good relationship with your vet? Do you trust them to take good care of your furry family member? Too many times I’ve heard from people ready to give up because their vet has prematurely given up on their pet. One person told me that their vet felt just because her kitty was elderly and had IBD, she should be put to sleep. Without trying any treatments or proper diagnostics, this vet felt the cat should be euthanized. Luckily the parent didn’t listen and the kitty is now getting the proper treatment for her condition. But this didn’t stop her in the meantime from thinking that it may be the end!

Another person I know lost her kitty because the vet out and out refused to try a different medication with her and there were no other vets around for over 100 miles. The medication is used frequently for cats with IBD and could have potentially saved her life. Maybe not, but it’s always worth trying if there's still a possible chance of recovery. He wouldn’t even consider it and there was no good explanation given as to why. This poor woman eventually lost her best friend. There are more stories like these unfortunately. But thankfully there are plenty of stories of good and even great vets as well.

I know many people with vets that truly care about them and their pets. Some have more experience with IBD and certain medications than others. But here’s the kicker; the ones who don’t…are willing to learn! They take their oaths as healers seriously and put aside any egos to actually listen to the pet parents and possibly even try new things. If you have a vet like this, you’ve won half the IBD battle. You need a vet that will be on the same side of the battle-lines with you and your sick little baby and do what it takes…together.

If you are unhappy with your current vet or you need to find another one for whatever reason, here are some things to look for:

Find a vet that has experience with IBD (or any other disease that may apply) and is willing to learn more about it. They can always do consultations with other vets and/or hospitals and consult with you in the process. They can also take a look at my website and view the case studies to see what’s working and what isn’t for different kitties. http://www.ibdkitties.net/LivingwithIBD.html.

Make sure your vet listens to your concerns about medication side effects, long term dosing and different medication options. Arm yourself with knowledge so you know what questions to ask.

Keep a diary for yourself and your vet so they know exactly what’s happening with your pet and what they’re looking for. Mention any vomiting, soft stools, diarrhea, blood in stools, inappetance and so on. It’s much easier to remember everything that’s happening and give the vet what they need to make a diagnosis. 

Make sure your vet has flexible hours and can squeeze you and your pet in if you feel something is not right. You know your pet better than anyone. If you feel something is very off or they’re sick, don’t wait to call for an appointment. Otherwise you may end up taking your kitty to the emergency.

Ask your vet’s office for a copy of your pet’s records or at the very least, an itemized receipt. This way you know exactly what they gave your pet, how much, what tests were done, etc. If you do have to take kitty to the ER for something like an adverse drug reaction, you’ll know exactly what was given to them.

Just as in your own medical care or that of your human child, be involved and ask questions. It’s you’re right as a pet parent. Any good vet won’t have a problem with that as long as you aren’t bombarding and overwhelming them.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Kitty Caretakers

I often speak about how stressful it is to care for an ailing pet; how difficult it is and how draining. But also that there is a connection made that can’t be broken. Anyone who’s has a sick kitty knows how deep this runs. But what happens when the kitties become the caretakers?

This has been a very difficult summer for me. My father became very ill quickly and we almost lost him a couple of times. I’ve spent a lot of my time going back and forth to the hospital and taking care of my elderly mom as well. I wore myself out and my kitties knew it. They could tell something was wrong and different and did all they could to show me how much they love me.

There was no time or energy for playing. I came home and took naps, ate something, then went back out. I came back home, did my nightly rituals, tried to keep it together and went to bed. In between all of that I did laundry, dishes, housework, etc. etc. But something else happened that was wonderful. I got extra cuddles, extra kisses and extra love from my furry kids.

It was just what the doctor ordered as I was very scared and stressed. Finnegan and Lacey love my mom and dad and oftentimes go downstairs to their house with me to visit them. When they couldn’t go for awhile they knew something was wrong. So they gave me extra meows of comfort, they kneaded the bed longer and more often and they looked at me with eyes that said “we’re here for you mom, whenever you need us”. I don’t know what I’d do without my two nursemaids. But I’m so grateful for them.

They were so patient and understanding during this hard time, as if they knew that I needed their love more than ever. And I got it. I’m lucky to have such smart kitties, because for once I needed them more than they needed me. And honestly when we think about why we have pets in the first place, isn’t this the very reason? They are unconditional love and support during good times and bad. And there’s nothing better in this world than when your kitty kisses your tears away and purrs next to your heartbeat. That’s the best medicine there is. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ready or Not, Here I Come!

I can honestly say my babies are my life. I’d do anything for them, they’re my priority. I go without many things so my kitties can have what they need to be happy and healthy. I will admit that when I first took them in, it was no walk in the park. I had lost Alex in a very traumatic way and had convinced myself I would never again give my heart to another fur child. It was though, extremely difficult. I soon found out it was too quiet and too lonely. Although I did enjoy not having to clean so much and I was able to have things like plants again…it just wasn’t the same.

But taking in one new baby, never mind two, was a shock to my grieving process and admittedly it took a lot for me to let go of the anger, resentment and pain of losing my soul kitty. I know I felt pushed by a lot of people to get another fur child. And even though it all worked out in the end, at the time, I just wasn’t ready. But I wouldn’t trade this time with my two scampers for anything.

Finnegan came to me first and he was a handful! He climbed my curtains and wanted my attention 24/7, which is why I got Lacey. Both of them fell in love with each other immediately. However, it took me a little time to reach that point with them, I hadn’t finished grieving yet. But they tugged and tugged on my heartstrings until I couldn’t resist anymore and I gave in. I let my heart open to its full capacity and realized that Alex had sent them to me.

The shock of losing Alex the way I did though scared me to pieces. I realized there was always the chance of one of these two getting sick. After all, there are never any guarantees and eventually they will get old and get sick, and yes, die of something. It took me a good year to relax and just enjoy them. I was so scared they would develop some life threatening illness like Alex had.

Losing a fur child is without a doubt one of the hardest things we as pet lovers will ever go through. It can really mess us up! For me, I was thrust back into momma hood very quickly but it turned out to be just what I needed. I don’t think I could have done my website had I not learned to laugh again and have something to look forward to everyday. But everyone is different and we all know when it’s time to be alone and heal, or when it’s time to open our arms and hearts again.


If you’re in that position right now and aren’t sure what to do…don’t rush into anything because others are telling you to. Do it because you’re ready, you feel the situation is right and/or because you’ve fallen in love with the right little furry face.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodnight Midnight



It’s amazing how one small animal can make such a huge impact on your life. It’s true…I’m in mourning. This past weekend we lost a precious fur child to complications from inflammatory bowel disease. Midnight was one of the sweetest babies I’ve ever had the privilege of being owned by. She loved everyone and everyone loved her. It was impossible not to. She is the third fur child in five years in our family to succumb to feline IBD. After Alex, I didn’t think I’d have to deal with it again so soon. I was hoping not at all. But it was not meant to be. 

After my sister lost her husband, she moved in with us and brought her two cats, Moufasa and Midnight. Moufasa was sickly and it was not long before I recognized the symptoms of the dreaded disease I’d come to hate so much. Luckily his case was easier to handle than Midnight’s, but he did not live as long. I changed his diet to strictly raw food (Stella & Chewy’s) and it put an end to his uncontrollable diarrhea. He did very well for a long time. Sadly after almost two years, he developed a mass in his stomach and eventually we had to let him go. But with raw food, B12 injections and plenty of love, he lived a lot longer than we thought he would. 

After he passed, Midnight did very well for a few months and then began developing symptoms of her own. I was so upset and I couldn’t believe it was happening yet again. Because of all I’d learned between Alex and Moufasa, I was able to give Midnight an extra four years with us. Medications, B12, fluid therapy and diet all played a role and again, I learned so much I didn’t know before. In the end I know that’s a good thing and my knowledge can now continue to help others, as I did when Alex passed. But when it comes down to it, seeing yet another creature I love suffer is just unacceptable.


This disease is robbing us of way too many years worth of love and happiness. Yes, kitties with IBD can lead a very good quality of life but I defy you to find one pet parent that is accepting of what their babies have to go through, even in its mildest form. For me I’m left yet again to sift through the happy memories I have and try hard to remove the ones of how sick Midnight was at the end. Unfortunately it’s impossible to do completely and it hurts me terribly that she had to go through this at all. We need to push universities to further their research and make advancements into better treatments and hopefully a cure. The loss I experienced recently is one that’s happening every single day somewhere in this world and it’s leaving pet parents everywhere alone and traumatized. It has to end.

In the meantime, I’ll force the bad memories to the back of my mind and concentrate on how completely loving and affectionate she was; how she adored us and showed us every single day how big her heart was for such a little girl. She loved belly rubs, couldn’t get enough kisses and was the best patient for a sick kitty that ever lived. In all the years I had to give her pills, injections, fluids and occasionally syringe feed her, she never once fought me or made a fuss. She’d never even flinch. Until the very end where she was hurting so badly she couldn’t stand to be touched anymore and actually hid behind the bed for the first time.

Well Midnight, my sweetheart, there is no more medicine! No more poking with needles and no more losing weight and feeling lousy. You are free from all of that now and as much as it hurts us and we miss you, I can only hope you are running around and playing, having shed your old, broken body. I hope we meet again someday my sweet girl and until then I’ll see you in my dreams.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Risks of Feeding Your Pet


Feeding your pet these days is a dangerous task. Never mind all the disgusting ingredients in their food but all the recalls and notices are making it very difficult to know what’s safe! The 2007 melamine pet food scare killed thousands upon thousands of pets. I can’t even be sure I didn’t feed some of it to my Alex when she was sick. I’m assuming if she did eat it, her organs would have shut down immediately and she would have died within hours. Oh wait…that’s exactly what happened! I don’t know that the food had anything to do with it in all honesty since I was at the point of feeding her ten different brands, just to make sure she ate. Her kidneys were not failing as was the case with so many of the pets that died. She was eating something grain free, but I can’t be sure there was no rice in it, which could have contained melamine. It was not one of the better brands, that’s for sure and she did go downhill extremely fast and out of the blue.

The truth is we’ll never know. I didn’t have the money for a necropsy, nor was I even given that option. I wasn’t told much of anything really and once I found out I could have done that, she had already been cremated. Also by the time I'd even heard of melamine, the food I'd fed her was gone. Thrown out or given away. I’ve always wondered if it had anything to do with the food she ate. In fact I do know a few people who have lost their kitties to possibly tainted food; one as recently as a few months ago. Come to find out in this recent instance that the food she was feeding could possibly have been mislabeled and counterfeited as the real thing. Again, this may not be the case and there’s no way to know for sure but it’s currently being investigated. It’s beyond devastating to think that something you think you’re doing right for your pet could actually harm or kill them. And although it’s not the pet parent's fault in any way, there isn’t a one of us that wouldn’t feel like it was indeed something we did wrong.

There was a time when it was mainly dry food that had recalls. Then it was wet food and in the past year it’s expanded to premade frozen raw food. Feeding a home prepared raw food diet is the healthiest for your cat but how can you be sure the food you’re getting at the grocery store is safe when there are plenty of recalls there as well? Admittedly it’s mostly prepackaged, ground meat that’s the problem but chicken is not far behind. And the U.S. government is debating importing chicken from China which I think is the most preposterous idea ever! China is where most of the problems stem from, although the U.S. does have issues of its own. But given all the food issues we have with them, the recent bird flu deaths and all the dogs dying from chicken jerky, I see this as nothing short of catastrophic.

So what are we supposed to do? What on earth do we feed our pets? Every time we think a brand of pet food is safe, there’s a problem or a recall. Not everyone has the time to make their own pet food but I think it’s coming to that. Even without all the hidden dangers I have been questioning some pet food ingredients for years now; carrageenan, spinach, avocados, corn, corn and wheat gluten, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention the chemicals found in them such as BPAs. The way I see it, pretty soon it will in fact come down to most of us making our own food. I see that as the only option if things continue this way and I see no end to the corruption in the industry. Cutting corners, using cheap fillers and raking in the money are what it’s all about. In pet food, as well as people food.

In any event, whatever way you are feeding a homemade diet, whether it’s a cooked meal or a raw food diet, the safest bet would be to go to a local or holistic market to get your ingredients. I do this for myself anyways so why wouldn’t I do it for my pets? There’s one here that I go to called Fresh Market that sells fresh, organic and locally obtained meats and other foods. I absolutely love this place! They cut the meat fresh right in front of you and you can tell the difference between that and the supermarket brands or prepackaged meats. Most everything there is locally and organically grown and obtained. This is what I prefer to do, it’s probably the safest available, and it’s only a few dollars more than the grocery brands. And of course there's always ordering from reputable companies that cater specifically to raw pet food. 

If you can’t feed a homemade diet for whatever reason I suggest researching pet food companies extensively and even calling them and talking to someone in charge to get a handle on what and where they manufacture, distribute, etc. A good company will not make excuses but will understand your concerns and work with you. Staying vigilant and taking as much control of what we feed them as much as possible is what it’s going to take to keep them healthy. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Allergy Season…Not Just for People Anymore


Allergy season is upon us again and I’m already feeling the effect of the trees blooming. I know pretty soon my kitties will also. Plus any kitty with a chronic illness can have allergy symptoms due to a suppressed immune system. Your pet is just as susceptible to pollen allergies as we humans are. Here are some simple tips to help curb those allergy attacks from your furbabies. Keep your window sills clean. Wipe them down with soap and water or a mixture of vinegar and water. Give your kitty a good wipe down with kitty wipes (I use Tropiclean allergy wipes, they have no chemicals or bad ingredients: (http://ibdkitties.net/Groomingoral.html), or even just a soft cloth with water a couple of times a week during high allergy days to get that pollen off their fur! Try using an electrostatic dust cloth like Swiffer since it will pick up pollen and dust and it has no chemicals or scents in it. It works great and you can see the yellow pollen on the cloth afterwards. I use those often to wipe down my furniture in between cleanings and can really see the pollen on them so I know they work.

Keep their ears clean and free of pollen and mites and if their eyes get red and irritated you can use pure saline to give them a little moisturizing rinse. Use a furminator to get the extra layer of fur off and brush them OFTEN. There’s a PetAlive product called the Furball Dr. that’s also on the grooming page but I don’t know how well that works I haven’t had to try it. Give them L-lysine daily in their food or at least 3-4 times per week for respiratory and eye issues. You can subscribe to a daily email of your local area’s pollen count and they’ll tell you the numbers and specifically what pollen is active at that time: www.pollen.com/allergy-weather-forecast.asp. Don’t forget this is only March and seasonal allergies last well into November! I’m suffering already so that automatically puts me into kitty pollen mode.

If respiratory/allergies and/or terrible itching of the skin are uncontrollable, ask your vet about Zyrtec. I’ve seen a lot of good things about it being used in cats, and some have managed to lower their prednisone doses because of it. The following articles are really worth reading, especially if your pet has symptoms of eosinophilic diseases. The more I read about this condition, the more I think in IBD kitties, it can be a side effect of inflammation in their intestines.

Why I Love Zyrtec for Cats
www.petmd.com/blogs/dailyvet/2010/february/zyrtec_for_cats#.T2o0UtW6-N8

Eosinophilic diseases; Skin Diseases from Allergies in Cats
http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/skin/c_ct_eosinophilic_granuloma_complex#.T2o19NW6-N8

For insect bites or stings you could use fractionally distilled clear aloe vera liquid, (I have some on the digestion page of my site). It MUST be fractionally distilled and clear. It works great as a wound cleaner and healing agent. You can also try the Flying Bassett Organics Aloe Vera Extract on the grooming page. It’s a powder that can be made into a paste for wounds as well as used internally for digestion.

PLEASE remember that if you have to use pesticides for any reason, remove clothing and shoes immediately when entering the house, wash yourself up very well (showering would be best, also washing your hair) and wash your clothing in the laundry. Pesticides are sometimes a necessary evil, especially when you have a horrible pest infestation that’s doing some major damage. Remember to close your windows before you spray or apply anything on your property as the wind can bring it in the house. I know I sound like a crazy, paranoid pet parent but I have learned so much about pet safety and health. They are just like our kids and their systems need protecting as much as possible. Chemicals can cause cancer and we need to be extremely careful. Don’t forget that so many of your kitties already have compromised immune systems and it doesn’t take much with a cat to tip the scales and develop additional conditions and being on steroids can help that along. It’s a good idea when you’re mowing the lawn to shut the windows until you’re completely done and again, remove your shoes, shower and wash your hair. I have to do that anyway otherwise I’m very sick afterwards, I’m severely allergic.

Think about removing the cover from your cat’s litter box as ANY cat litter contains dust, some more than others. And all that does is contribute to their allergies and respiratory problems. Since I’ve started using Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief cat litter I’ve noticed that Finnegan no longer wheezes and he hardly snores anymore either. And Lacey doesn't sneeze as much also. But they do still sneeze during pollen outbreaks so it's best I keep the house as clear of it as I can. I hope these tips will help you and your little ones have a more healthy allergy season. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's In Your Water?


Did you know that prescription medication flushed down toilets is ending up in our water supply? It’s extremely concerning and why we now have a national “take back day” issued by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. The Office of Diversion Control states that, “In the four previous Take-Back events, DEA in conjunction with our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners have collected more than 2 million pounds (1,018 tons) of prescription medications that were removed from circulation.” 
http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/

The old advice of flushing your prescription medication is not only out of date but dangerous. Waste treatment centers cannot filter out medications completely which leaves a whole lot of dangerous meds left in our water supply. Even in trace amounts these are extremely dangerous and can over time do damage to our organs. Anti-convulsants, anti-psychotics, cancer drugs, hormones, etc. are all ending up not only in our drinking water, but rivers, streams and lakes as well. Flushed medications can kill helpful bacteria in septic systems and do damage to our eco system. Some waste treatment plants test for more pharmaceuticals than others but currently there is no regulatory requirements for testing and limits of these contaminants. A cat's liver does not have the mechanism to properly filter out these contaminants and can absorb them better than a human’s. 

This could be a big reason that life threatening illnesses have been on the rise in our pets in the last 10-20 years. Now of course this is not the only possible reason, I know that. Other things factor in like bacteria (which can be acquired through tap water), genetics, age, and a proper diet still have a lot to do with it. But even those who have always fed them an organic and/or raw diet have had pets with these diseases in recent years. Something has to be contributing to it and our environment plays a huge part. Another factor in our water is hexavalent chromium. 

Chromium-6, Widespread in US Tap Water - Cancer-causing chemical found in 89 percent of cities sampled: The National Toxicology Program has concluded that hexavalent chromium (also called chromium-6) in drinking water shows “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity” in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal tumors. In September 2010, a draft toxicological review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) similarly found that hexavalent chromium in tap water is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” www.ewg.org/chromium6-in-tap-water. For those of you who saw the movie Erin Brokovich, you’ll understand why this is so important. Ms. Brokovich fought a very long time to get hexavalent chromium removed from water supplies in California and many people there died from cancer because of that chemical. It seems the public has been duped into believing the battle was won. 

On that note, please consider using an over the counter or under the counter water filter in your house. Brittas and other low cost filters do NOT remove these chemicals. Nor do they remove parasites and other chemicals such a chlorine, fluoride, lead, mercury, arsenic, etc. Bottled water is not filtered for medications, it's best to use a water filtration system of either reverse osmosis or a carbon filter system.

This is the filter that we use:
www.crystalclearsupply.com/Countertop_Water_Filter_p/ct.htm.
The initial investment is a little costly but the cartridge replacements are very inexpensive (around $20) and last at least 6 months or longer depending on your water type. This one removes cryptosporidium, giardia, lead, chlorine, among many other things and works really well. There are plenty out there so do some research and see what you can find but make sure they can remove many particles & chemicals and these particular bacteria. Again, I make no money or receive anything for mentioning this company, this is just an example.

If you’d like to read more about what’s in your water please visit this page of my site: http://www.ibdkitties.net/healthywater.html.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Little Known Bad Ingredients


Would you purposely add hormones to your pets’ food? Would you purposely add something that’s known to cause dangerous and life threatening crystals and urinary blockages? Would you purposely add an ingredient that’s scientifically proven to instigate inflammatory bowel disease? If you’re a good pet parent, of course not! But unfortunately being a good pet parent isn’t enough anymore, we need to be educated parents and we need to get good and mad; because these very things are in your pets food right now!

Soy contains compounds called phytoestrogens, which are basically estrogen hormone-like chemicals found in plants that can act like the hormone estrogen. Phytoestrogens may negatively affect cats by interfering with nutrient absorption, normal growth, thyroid function, and hormonal development. Although weaker than normal estrogen hormones, we have no idea whatsoever how these hormones will affect cats and since hyperthyroidism is extremely common in cats, soy should not be in cat food even in small amounts.

Spinach has one of the highest calcium oxalate levels of any food and cooking does NOT diminish the oxalates much at all, very minimally. The oxalates in spinach are sturdy and binding at around 600-750 content milligrams per 100 gram serving. You’d have to boil or blanch it to reduce it even 5-15% (not much) and then you’ve lost all the nutrients in it. If your cat suffers from kidney, gallbladder or thyroid issues, they should NEVER be fed any foods with high oxalate levels as it can do severe damage. Spinach can cause crystal formation in the urinary tract and kidneys in cats. Calcium oxalate stones are EXTREMELY painful and once formed in the kidneys, cannot be removed. Whether cooked or raw, spinach should be completely avoided in cats and has been shown to cause such major damage it can result in hospitalization and in some circumstances (when fed raw), death. And although it’s cooked in pet foods, as I’ve already stated it doesn’t matter.

Despite my efforts to get spinach removed from various pet foods, it remains an ingredient that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. I’ve provided pet food companies with information regarding the dangers of including spinach in their foods and got pooh-poohed and ignored. One company said they understood but still wouldn’t change the recipe and one company did promise to remove it but that was well over a year ago and it still remains in the food. I’ve even gotten help from Dr. Lisa Pierson of catinfo.org with explaining the dangers to pet food companies and still there's no consideration as to what this is doing to them. NEVER feed raw spinach to your pet, whether they are ill or healthy! www.ibdkitties.net/January2012.html

Carrageenan has been known for awhile to be a problem. Used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in foods, carrageenans are highly flexible molecules produced by different types of seaweed. The thickness of the agent depends on which seaweed is used to make the finished product. Scientific studies have shown that carrageenan can induce inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in both humans and animals. Unfortunately carrageenan is used in just about every commercial pet food available.

We have to start thinking about our pets’ long term health, just like we do with ourselves and our human kids. Toxins accumulate in the body and a cat’s liver is not equipped to filter some of the things that a human liver can. Educate yourself as a pet parent, read labels and if you can, voice your concerns to the pet food companies. It took many years to get grain free foods to the point where it is now, a top priority on many pet food shelves. We’ll hear many “no’s” before we get a yes to remove certain ingredients but it can be done. We have to keep trying, for our furchildrens’ sakes.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Perils of Cat Litter


The views stated in this blog entry are just that...my opinions based on my research. 

Last summer my friend Judy picked up a bag of lavender scented World’s Best Cat Litter. I expressed my concern with how they apply the scent so she called the company and this is what Judy told me: “I called World's Best Cat Litter in Iowa and had a nice conversation with a gal there named Debbie. She said the company has done extensive research and that the lavender oil is mixed with several other natural oils with a vegetable oil base and is perfectly safe in the amounts combined. I thought it smelled a bit strong when I first opened the bag.” 

Apparently Debbie doesn’t realize that essential oils are toxic even in very tiny amounts!
www.ibdkitties.net/Toxicunsafe.html. We also don’t know what the other “natural oils” are. This information about essential oils is everywhere on the internet and if aromatherapist know better than to use them with cats, then shouldn’t WBCL or any other pet product company? Also I will no longer use any corn or wheat based cat litter as they have the potential to contain alfatoxins. I realize the risk is very low but I’m not willing to take that chance. Especially with them breathing it in. Speaking of essential oils; any cat litter such as cedar will also have oils in it which is also toxic. It’s too bad because I do love the smell but it’s no safer than the lavender oil is. www.worldsbestcatlitter.com/about/contact-us.php.

Purr & Simple All-Natural Kwik Klump Cat Litter was brought to my attention by Kelli and what I don’t like about this is that it’s made from nutshells. Nuts of any kind are harmful but walnuts and macadamia nuts are especially toxic. Pets can start to develop symptoms such as an inability to stand or walk, vomiting, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), weakness, and an elevated heart rate within 12 hours of eating nuts. So what kinds of nuts are specifically used for this product? It doesn’t say…only that they are from northern California and the level of nut protein is small, 14 ppm, (parts per million). But again, when licked off of their paws and body, over time how does this affect their health? Long term use plays a part in everything! 
www.purrandsimple.com/faqs.html. And btw, nuts can also contain alfatoxins! There are now all kinds of new cat litters with nuts in them including the new Blue Naturally Fresh Cat Litter. These nut shell cat litters are extremely dusty and your cat is breathing in tons of dust and possible alfatoxins every time they go in their box and scratch the litter!

Aflatoxins are common and widespread in nature. They can colonize and contaminate grain (such as corn and wheat) before harvest or during storage. The native habitat of Aspergillus is in soil, decaying vegetation, hay, and grains; undergoing microbiological deterioration and it invades all types of organic substrates whenever conditions are favorable for its growth. Favorable conditions include high moisture content (at least 7%) and high temperature.

http://taildom.com/blog/reviews/the-best-cat-litter/

Aflatoxins are extremely durable under most conditions of storage, handling and processing of seeds or in foods or feeds made from contaminated seeds. It is very heat stable and will withstand temperatures up to boiling. Toxin levels in corn may decline in storage, but may still be present after 7 years.
http://aes.missouri.edu/delta/croppest/aflacorn.stm
www.ansci.cornell.edu/plants/toxicagents/aflatoxin/aflatoxin.html
www.wellvet.com/aflatoxins.html

I will repeat the statement I’ve made over and over in the past couple of years. Just because a company says their product is safe, it doesn’t mean squat. We’ve all learned this by now and some of us the hard way. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS read every single ingredient in a product and not just the active ingredients but the INACTIVE ingredients as well. If you can’t find the ingredients on the website you’re buying the product from, Google that product and include “ingredients for…” and you’ll find it. A company that makes it extremely hard to find their ingredients worries me. A company with mystery ingredients frightens me.

In my quest to find a good cat litter I’ve tried many different ones. I tried Cat’s Pride and holy moly what a mess! It’s mainly sand, sticks to them like paste and my cats left huge paw prints of wet cat litter all over the floor. Judy introduced me to Green Tea Leaves cat litter. Some sites are selling it for a ridiculous price but if you Google it you can find it for under $10 a bag. I added a quarter of the bag to their regular litter and although I love the absorbency and the smell is great…it is chunky, makes a mess as it tracks everywhere and Finnegan loves the taste! He thinks it’s a treat when it’s on the floor. So that one is a no go for us. Yes, I’ve tried the bigger brands like Arm & Hammer, Tidy Cat, Fresh Step, etc. and all were extremely dusty and strong scented. They also contain sodium bentonite clay - also toxic. www.ehow.com/about_6741583_sodium-bentonite-dangers.html. I can’t try the paper ones as Finney loves to eat paper and I’m worried about the ink as well. I worked for newspapers for a very long time and ink comes off easy!

I finally settled on Dr. Elsey’s Respiratory Relief. It has safe herbs in it, not oils. My cats like it; it doesn’t leave any funky smell or stick to their butts and lasts a long time! Two and a half bags will last me a month, even with twice daily scooping. And they’ve stopped sneezing! With other litters they sneezed up a storm and were covered in dust. Whereas this one does not kick up dust and yes, it tracks but not as bad as some others. I defy anyone to find a litter that doesn’t track, it’s impossible. This litter is my preference, and I have absolutely no ties to the company at all. Mainly I feel this is the safest and best litter brand out there. As I stated, this is just my 
opinion. Please don't take offense if you use any of these products, I wanted to re-address some of the issues I’ve seen lately with cat litters and keep your cat as healthy as possible. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Winter Blahs


Freezing temperatures, gray days, no wildlife outside to watch; does your cat have the winter blahs? If you live in an area that gets snow, ice, freezing rain, etc. chances are they do. It’s tough keeping them entertained when you can’t open the windows, there aren’t many birds outside at the feeders, and all anybody wants to do is hibernate. When they’re kittens it’s so much easier because it doesn’t take much to get them going. They’ll play with anything, anytime, anywhere. But as they get older it can be a challenge to get them off their butts, just like with us.

Lately we’ve bounced between having a snowstorm of 21 inches to temps in the mid to high 40’s where everything is melting. I’ve been able to open the windows and let some fresh air inside. This has jump started the nut brigade of running from window to window, room to room. Nothing fills me with more pleasure than seeing the furs flying past me at warp speed. When they’re bored, I’m bored and vice versa. It seems to rub off. I’ve tried to get them to chase some of their toys, such as “da bird”, to no avail. They just stare at me and are probably laughing inside for all I know. I think sometimes they’d much rather see me playing with their toys and be content to watch me run around like a nut with a feather toy trying to get them to move even an inch. Their eyes say so much. “Look at mom! What a dope!” LOL.

Then there are the times when I’m doing nothing at all and somehow, some way, BAM! The sliding across the floor starts and I can hear them smashing into the furniture sideways. From downstairs it sounds as if they’re actually rearranging my furniture. Perhaps that’s what they’re trying to do. Who knows how they really feel about my set-up. Is it conducive to their “flight path”? What is their trajectory? Do they like the rooms the way they are or would they love it better if I just moved everything out of their way? I wouldn’t go that far but sometimes I feel like I need to do whatever it takes to get them moving and as fellow pet parents I’m sure you have done just as much. I do have these little nylon tunnels I set up in each room and they seem to love to go flying inside them (or into them) as they’re chasing each other. I’ve even put paper bags in the kitchen as a sort of obstacle path.


I’ve had to anchor their towers to the walls in fear of them falling over when they go up one side and down the other. Finney is a big boy and I think it wouldn’t take much, no matter how sturdy the towers are. As I type this it’s 49 degrees and the sun is shining bright. Still not many birds outside just yet and I’m looking forward to the day when they all come back and taunt my kits at the windows. The birds have a habit of sitting on the back stairwell right in front of the window where the kitties sit watching them. They seem to know there’s a plate of glass there separating them and there are no worries of any teeth coming closer. So they take that opportunity to sit on the railings right smack in front of the windows and preen themselves. Drives my cats nuts! 

Such a simple thing can get a cat’s engine revved up for at least 30 minutes of horseplay. Those are the days I love, when it doesn’t take much for them to get their exercise. I guess it sort of pushes me also to go out and get mine. Spring is near! The birds will be back, the windows will be open more often and I’ll see flashes of fur flying by me again in no time. Until then, I’ll have to put up with the long stares, the pathetic looks of “Mom! I’m bored!” just like a human child. And with another snowstorm coming this weekend, I’m guessing that’ll be a constant.

Tell me how you entertain your pets during the long winter months!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

When a Cat Stops Eating


There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a cat walk up to their food, sniff it or barely taste it and walk away. Cats can be extremely picky but there’s a fine line between picky and sick. Just like humans there’s a certain amount of calories a cat must have each day to function properly. But the difference is that a cat can easily develop hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) if they’ve gone longer than 48 hours without food. For some it takes less than 48 hours and it’s a matter of not having enough calories even though they’ve been picking at their food from time to time. In order to determine how many calories your cat should be getting, it almost always states the daily caloric intake for your cat’s weight on the back of the can or bag of food you’re feeding.

Healthy cats will once in awhile become picky and not eat that much. For instance, in the summer a cat will not burn off that many calories as it’s too hot for playing or exerting itself. And it won’t eat as much as it normally does, but it will still eat. Or cats can even develop a 48 hour illness just like people do and may not eat as much because their stomach needs to rest. But if you have an already sick kitty, let’s say with a condition like chronic kidney disease, and they suddenly become overly picky or stop eating altogether, it’s time to take matters into your own hands and quickly. With diseases such as CKD nausea and even vomiting often play a big role in not eating so ask your vet about using something like Pepcid A/C or even Cerenia.

Some kitties are put on prednisone or prednisolone and that usually jump starts their hunger pretty well along with working on any inflammation going on in the body. Sometimes pred is not enough and an appetite stimulant is a must. There are two kinds; one is cyproheptadine which is an antihistamine but also has the side effect in cats of making them hungry. The other is mirtazapine which is an anti-depressant and usually makes them ravenous, but can also cause hyperactivity and restlessness. Cypro acts the opposite and can be rather sedating. If none of these things are working it’s time to learn to syringe feed your cat. It’s fairly easy and can literally save your cat’s life.

Syringing can not only get the right amount of calories in them but can also turn on that hunger switch. You may need to do it several times a day or for several days but for some kitties it doesn’t take long to realize that eating is a good thing and they’ll start eating on their own again. If they are still barely picking but are showing an interest in food, keep up the syringe feeding until they look like they are getting back into their usual eating mode. Don’t stop giving the appetite stimulants even though you’re syringe feeding because once that switch turns on for them, it’ll still help them eat on their own.

Always contact your vet when your cat stops eating and take them in if need be. A kitty never stops eating without a reason and you need to figure out what’s going on in their bodies that made them stop in the first place.

For more information on fatty liver disease, see this page of my site: http://www.ibdkitties.net/fattyliver.html.
For instructions on syringe feeding see this page: http://www.ibdkitties.net/syringefeeding.html.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Next Step

After four years of doing the website and newsletter, juggling Facebook, guest blogs and now my own, it's time to think about the next step for IBDKitties. I've been asked quite a lot lately "when am I going to write a book". For awhile I hesitated because it'll not only be a lot of work but I already have so much information on my website, I really didn't see what else I could contribute. But after speaking with several friends in the business I'm now giving it some serious thought. 

What I am going to do is ask for opinions on what you all would like to see added in the book. Based on my discussions with others, the book will be a lot more on the personal side and somewhat less on the technical and medical. I'm still not sure I'll be doing this but I'm putting out some feelers to see if it'll be worth the time and effort. 

So with that in mind, please give me some of your ideas and what you'd like to see in the book. Would you like more stories of other IBDKitties? Would you like more in depth writing about me and my Alex and our relationship? I've also thought about taking some of the information I've used in my newsletters over the years and adding the most important items that I feel people really need to learn about. Please let me know what you all think and if you have any ideas. I'd greatly appreciate it! Thank you all for sticking with me these last four years and to all the newcomers whom I've already grown to love and admire for your dedication to your fur children. Let's see if we can take the next step together to help others not only with the ever growing epidemic of IBD and other GI disorders but for the care and health of all of our furry families. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Do You Deserve Your Pet?


Sometimes I hear or read comments from pet owners that just floor me. “It’s just a cat”, “they don’t deserve any better than what I get”, or “I’m not going out of my way to help a dumb animal”. I can’t get over it, it makes me incredibly angry and it’s really difficult to hold my tongue sometimes. For the most part people I’m in contact with are very loving pet parents who would do anything for their fur children. But if you belong to any forums or know someone personally who’s ever said one of those phrases, I’m sure you’ve had your own choice words for them.

I can’t for the life of me, understand why people take pets into their homes and lives when they don’t seem to have any love for them, and they certainly don’t have any respect. Why is it such a luxury to give a household pet a good diet, good health care, and proper love and respect? Why don’t they deserve that just as much as we do? Personally I think their reasoning for having a pet says a lot about them as a human. Do they treat their spouses that way? Do they treat their human kids that way? I am an animal advocate and lover, period! I do not want to hear or read that anyone treats their pet horribly either by abuse or neglect. Amazing to me how some pet owners think neglecting their medical needs is perfectly okay, and not because of lack of money but because they think they don’t really need medical attention.

Some of the things that I read and hear from pet owners disgusts me to the point that I’ve broken off a few friendships because of it. Unfortunately when it’s a relative, we’re stuck with them but a couple of times recently I lit into a few people and told them I was “the absolute wrong person to be making remarks like that to.” When I made that announcement they knew I meant business by the daggers  shooting out of my eyes. Needless to say this past holiday season I quieted the dinner table very quickly at one point. Just yesterday I was in a sandwich shop ordering lunch and talking with a friend who works there. We were talking about our pets when I commented that I can’t have a Christmas tree because my cats would take it down. One of her co-workers chimed in immediately that I should just get rid of my cats. My immediate look of disgust surprised her as I stated as politely as I could that “my cats are my kids and something material like a Christmas tree was not nearly as important to me.” That shut her up.

In the same shop a very broad shouldered and large man making the subs spoke up about his tortoise and how much he loved him. This was perfect and reiterated what I’d just said. He too loved his pet more than anything and hearing that made up for the insult to my cats I’d heard right before that. You never truly know by the looks of someone how they feel about animals. Sometimes we’re repulsed by their comments and sometimes we’re very pleasantly surprised. I always love talking with other animal lovers and appreciate the love they have for all kinds of pets.

This blog entry is basically me venting as I’ve heard quite enough of this lately and I need to talk about it with others who understand my frustration. I can ask anyone if they deserve the love and devotion of their pets but I know for a fact my readers definitely do. I know your pets are all your kids as well and they are lucky to have you as I know you feel lucky to have them. Thanks for listening! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Equal Rights


Don’t get me wrong, I love all animals and I especially love dogs. I was in Petsmart just the other day and saw a puppy that made me lose my ability to speak like an adult. But cats are my life and I still feel like they are not getting the attention that dogs are. If you walk into a store like Petsmart you’ll see about 10-15 aisles dedicated to dogs as opposed to 4 or 5 for cats. There are many more brands of dog food on the market than cat food and don’t even get me started on cat toys. Yet if you go on any forum there are hundreds of thousands of cat lovers complaining of these very things. So why hasn’t the pet industry gotten a clue? There are now cat only veterinary practices due to their special needs; needs that are not being met by the pet food industry by the way.

I’d love to see some specialty foods out there that do not have to be obtained via prescription. I understand there are certain conditions where it would be too dangerous to feed those certain foods without a script from a vet. But unfortunately there are food companies that have that market cornered and it has more to do with money than proper ingredients. There are so many issues with gastrointestinal disorders I really think it should not be such a big deal to obtain foods made specifically for IBD kitties or cats with colitis, megacolon, constipation, etc. And there should be foods available that are ingredient specific to those conditions but actually appeal to a cat’s taste buds. No one likes to see those little noses turned up when they are so sick and need to eat.

Thank goodness we’re entering an age where more men are admitting their devotion to felines. Perhaps this will entice companies to make some cat safe toys they actually want to play with. Though I have yet to see anyone in my area actually walking their cat on a harness, and I can’t see there ever being a “cat park”. The whole territorial thing would send the fur flying! Although I don’t know which is easier to take care of, a cat or a dog, they both come with a long list of pros, cons and questions. Which one experiences more separation anxiety? Cats are more independent but have plenty of other anxiety issues. Cats don’t need to be walked but can easily have litter box issues. You don’t have to play with cats as much or as long as dogs. Cats love it as long as they can stare at you making a fool of yourself for some 30 minutes or so while you try to get them to play. Cats don’t take up as much room; not true as they will spread themselves out all over the house and so will all of their stuff.

Truth is that pets are a lot of work no matter if it’s a dog or a cat. But as a cat owner I’d like to see the industry step up and realize that cats have a huge role in our families and they deserve equal time. They deserve fun, safe and affordable toys, decent and species appropriate food (again, affordable), and better advances in their healthcare, especially as they get older. They deserve everything we can give them as a family just as much as any other pet who would be so kind as to own us.