Pooh had been diagnosed with kidney disease a few weeks ago when he went for his yearly checkup. We hoped to manage it with fluids and medication. Tuesday he returned to the vet because he was not eating and obviously doing worse. His blood values were worse, phosphorus so high the meter could not measure. He also had a secondary infection. IV antibiotics etc were started. 2 days later his blood values were much worse instead of improved. Pooh had the look, he had enough. I held him as he returned to his maker. The vet felt he was approx. 14 years old. We were blessed to have him with us for 6 years.
Sweet Earnest is an FELV+ cat from Georgia. He will joining the FELV cats in a few weeks.
He is very sweet. He is also a Hemmingway polydactyl. You can read about polydactyl's blow :)
Toes, Paws and Claws, Oh My!
by Jill Anne Sparapany
Cat’s paws! You know your cat is unique, but do you know how uniquely specialized Fluffy’s paws are? They are a very important part of feline anatomy adapted to silent walking, climbing and jumping with strong protractable claws used for hunting and self-defense.
Cats are digitigrades, meaning they stand and walk on their toes (digits). They can move more quickly and more quietly compared to other walking animals.
There are five toes in the front paws and four toes in the hind paws. The innermost toe of the front paw functions in grasping, similar to the human thumb. Some cats have a congenital genetic mutation resulting in polydactylism or extra toes.
Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize in Literature winner for the novel, “The Old Man and the Sea” and American author of the classic novel, “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, Ernest Hemingway is well known for his love of cats. He lived in the heart of Old Town Key West, Florida, surrounded by the island’s beautiful turquoise waters. Hemingway was given a white six-toed cat, named Snowball, by a ship’s captain and he was very fond of the cat. Visited by thousands from around the world, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum is home to approximately 60 cats, about half of which are polydactyl (six toed) cats. All the cats enjoy the estate’s lush grounds and gardens year round. Some of the polydactyl cats who live on the museum grounds are descendants of original Snowball. Hemingway named all of his cats after famous people, a tradition that continues today at his Home and Museum. Half the cats at the museum have the physical polydactyl trait but all carry the polydactyl gene in their DNA, so the all the cats can still produce six-toed kittens.Many polydactyl cats are called “Hemingway Cats” referring to his love for these special felines.
Paws are adapted for survival and highly developed hunting skills unique to the cat’s environment.
The Snow Leopard lives in cold mountainous areas of Asia. They have tails as long as their body for balance and speed when chasing prey down steep rocky inclines. Their paws are very wide for distributing their weight on snow and the furry underside increases traction on the unstable rock shale.
The Sand Cat lives in hot deserts, like the Sahara and Arabian Deserts. Its paws are covered with long fur to protect them from hot sands. They have excellent digging skills, used in digging burrows to escape the heat of the sun.
The paw’s tough-skin pads protect when walking through rough terrain and improve traction on slippery surfaces. Paw pads have numerous nerves and are very sensitive, allowing the cat to feel the texture of the terrain.
The pads can crack, become inflamed or infected. Cracks may look like fine lines or flaking skin. Some cats with allergies get itchy feet and will lick, bite or chew at their feet to relieve the itch. This requires a vet visit ASAP to treat the allergy, ease pain and prevent infection. If not treated, infection risks your cats health and may necessitate amputation of the foot or leg. Any injury to the paw or paw pad warrants a trip to the vet.
Some illnesses present as paw pad problems, including immune system or liver disease and zinc deficiency.
Obese cats have so much pressure on their paws and the pads, they can become sore with every day activities. Fat cats are not extra ‘cute and huggable’ and the extra weight is not healthy for the cat. Obesity can lead to diabetes and other health problems.
Cats have sweat glands in their paw pads that help regulate their body temperature. Many cats will exhibit ‘sweaty paws’ during a vet visit. Between the foot pads, the paws have sebaceous glands, which secrete a scented oil only detectable by other cats and keeps the paws moisturized. Scratching paws on trees leaves the scent for other cats to say “My home!”
Claws are normally retracted in a skin sheath under the toe pads, which prevents wearing down of the claw. This allows for soft and silent walking while stalking prey. The claws are made of protein, called keratin, and grow continuously. They will scratch to keep claws sharp and ready for hunting, climbing, pouncing, and defending themselves. The scratching is normal self-maintenance of the claw and also lets the cat stretch and tone their back and shoulder muscles.
Many cats will scratch on anything desirable in the home and yelling or getting angry with your cat confuses him because he is doing what comes naturally! You must redirect the cat at the time of the ‘crime.’ Delay of a few minutes will not help your cat understand why he is being rebuked and the lesson is lost. NEVER use physical punishment, hitting or shaking your cat because that only teaches you are a bigger bully and may lead to worse behavior in the future.
To get kitty to scratch on appropriate furniture, you need to give him/her their own furniture! Encourage and reward desirable behavior and discourage undesirable behavior. Consistency and repetition are crucial in any re-training program.
NEVER, repeat NEVER, declaw your cat! Declawing would be the same as amputation of the tips of your fingers! Do not get rid of your cat for inappropriate scratching! There are several options to remedy problem scratching.
The most obvious solution is to provide appropriate furniture for your cat! The scratching post should be tall enough for full vertical stretching and scratching, sturdy for the cat’s full weight and covered with rough material, such as sisal.
Personal Note: I have two 3-ft tall scratchers and several 2-ft scratches scattered throughout my home. My cats have always used their scratchers instead of my furniture. They prefer sisal over sofa fabric because it gives their claws the work out they desire. I have always believed this is their home too and they need their own furniture.
You can encourage scratching post use with catnip appeal, playing with your cat by scratching the post yourself and teaching your kittens or newly adopted cats how to use the post. Reward good behavior.
Trimming claws does not stop clawing furniture but does make the tiny weapons less deadly. Your vet can show you proper claw trimming. If you are not able to trim them, vets will trim claws for minimal fee. You should know how much to trim, avoiding the quick and what to do in case you trim too much and the claw begins to bleed. It is best to get kittens used to claw trimming early. If your cat does not hold still very long for trimming, try to trim one paw at a time. They may feel more secure if they are wrapped in a towel, but do not chase the cat to get him into the towel or corner them to catch them for claw trimming. They will associate this with claw trimming as a bad experience. If you are anxious, the cat will sense this and become anxious too. Do their claw trimming when you are calm and not rushed for time. Praise and rewards for trimming cooperation will help increase your cat’s tolerance.
There are plastic nail caps placed over the claws, that are available in four sizes, natural and ‘fashion’ colors. Application is fairly easy once you and kitty get the hang of it. They may be purchased from some vets and at pet supply stores.