Monday, December 19, 2011

All About Cat Breeds and Personalties

There are dozen of recognized cat breeds around the world. With so many to choose from, a prospective cat owner can find a kitten that suits any taste, living arrangement, or budget. However, it is simply not true that each and every breed has a personality that is unique and distinct from every other breed of cat. Considering the sheer number of cat breeds, there are simply not enough personality types to go around.

It would be more accurate to say that feline personalities are related to body type. If you look closely at the individual breeds and their personalities, you'll notice some similarities. For example, Siamese cats tend to be active, vocal, curious, and intelligent. But they share these traits with other breeds such as the Oriental Shorthair, Balinese, Abyssinian, and Cornish Rex. In other words, all the slim, elegant, and tubular breeds share these qualities and have similar personalities.

On the other hand, the Persian is laid back and easygoing. But so are the other stocky breeds such as the Burmese, British Shorthair, and Exotic Shorthair. And then there are the breeds that fall firmly in the middle. The pedigreed American Shorthair comes immediately to mind. This cat is a perfect middle-of-the-road personality, as are other breeds that share the same  body type.

But there are also traits that all cats share. No matter what the breed, the process of domesticating the cat retards the development of certain adult behaviors. This means that domesticated cats never really grow up, and we don't really want them to. Their kittenish behavior is a part of their charm. The adult behaviors of self-sufficiency, aggression, and marking are not at all desirable in the animals we share our homes with.

Personality is also determined by socialization. Kittens which are handled daily from three weeks old are more attached to people than those which are handled later or not at all. They are also more likely to tolerate being turned on their backs and approach humans faster and with more curiosity than nonhandled kittens. You can almost always tell which kittens have been handled daily simply from their reactions to people in general.

So the fact of the matter is that breed is only a small part of the personality of a cat. If you're looking for a certain personality in your kitten, you will have to consider more than the breed of the cat. Consider the parents, as personality often passes from generation to generation. And certainly pay attention to the way a kitten has been raised. This will help you determine whether that particular kitten has the right personality for you and your family.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Eye of a Cat: Blindness in Cats

Cats, just like people, can go blind. Blindness is defined as the loss of vision in both eyes and may arise from illness, disease, or even an accident. In cats, it is often difficult to detect the onset of blindness because they have such extraordinary and sense of smell. They often compensate so well that the cat owner does not notice at all.

However, when vision is completely lost in both eyes, there are usually signs the cat owner can watch for. If a change in environment confuses your cat, the feline may be dealing with blindness. For example, if you move your living room couch, your cat may walk into it unexpectedly. Often this leads owners to conclude that their cat has suddenly gone blind, but the reality is that the cat has probably been having vision problems for some time, but had memorized his surroundings to compensate. When the surroundings change, memory no longer serves its purpose and little things happen, such as walking into a couch, table, or open cupboard door.

The Causes of Blindness in Cats

There are several things that might cause blindness in cats. Corneal disease is one of the most common, but it's not the only cause of blindness. Cataracts, which can be diagnosed by the white opacity of the lens of the eye, can occur in older cats, though younger cats seldom suffer from this ailment. Other illness and diseases that can result in blindness include:
  • Severe anterior and/or posterior uveitis
  • Retinal inflammation or infection
  • Retinal detachment
  • Glaucoma
  • Diseases of the optic nerve, visual pathways, or the occipital cortex
If you cat has had any damage to the eyes, there is an increased chance of blindness. Scratches due to cat fights might seem like they're no big deal, but have them checked by a veterinarian anyway, just in case. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of blindness.

Symptoms of Blindness in Cats

You'll have to watch your cat carefully to detect vision loss, as cats are quite good at hiding this particular disability. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately.
  • Clumsiness, even if it's only occasional
  • Inability to locate food, water, or the litter box if any of these things are moved even a few feet
  • Excessive sleeping or chronic inattentive behavior
  • Suddenly fearful and easily startled
  • No longer plays or exhibits normal hunting behavior
  • Bumps into objects that are plainly visible but not always present
If you even suspect that your cat may be going blind, you should take your cat to the veterinarian immediately. Blindness, especially sudden-onset (acute) blindness, is not something you can treat at home, regardless of the cause.

The Eye of a Cat: Are Cats Colorblind?

I've often been asked if cats can see color. In truth, this is a difficult question to answer with certainty. Asking a cat is only likely to get you a blank stare. And in all honesty, it doesn't really matter. Cats are hunters, so brightness is more important to their vision than color. They have to be able to see movement and texture. While hunting, color is of little use.

However, an answer to the question of colorblindness and cats can be divined by studying the construction of a cat's eye. The retina is the nerve center at the back of the eye. This retina is composed of cells called cones and rods. Cones are responsible for converting light into color. Rods are responsible for black and white. In the eye of a cat, rods greatly outnumber cones, which is why cats are generally considered to be colorblind.

It's important to note, however, that a cat still has cones. So it is possible, even likely, that a cat can see color. But the number of cones is limited, so your cat probably can't see shades of red. Blues, certainly, and probably greens and yellows.

But your cat doesn't need to see very many colors. Your cat has another advantage. He can see even in the dimmest of lights. Take a look at the eyes of your cat and you'll see why. He can open his eyes wider than you can and his pupil expands to full almost the entire eye, letting as much light in as possible. So hunting in the dark is no trouble for your cat.

In scientific terms, your cat's retinas allow him to see in about one-sixth of the light you need to see clearly. Objects at night appear six times brighter to him than you do to you. And the added rods allow him to detect minute movement, which is only beneficial when hunting.

So, your cat can't see all the colors you can. But he can see some colors and his vision is sharper than yours. It's a trade-off. Less color means more visual acuity. And a cat needs all the visual acuity he can get.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Eliminating Stains and Odors Caused by Cats

When you have pets, you have the occasional stain and odor. It's to be expected. With cats, you could have anything from urine, diarrhea, vomit, and hairballs. Especially hairballs. And all of these things leave stains and odors that we all wish we could get rid of. The stains are especially frustrating, since they always seem to occur in the worse possible locations. I recently had to eliminate a vomit stain from the middle of my light-colored carpet. Not pretty, and not easy to get out.

There are several problems when  it comes to removing pet stains and the odors that accompany them. The first is time. In order to remove a pet stain completely, you have to get to it quickly. So don't wait until tomorrow to tackle that stain. The second problem is the odor. Not only is a lingering odor unpleasant, but if there is any odor left and the stain is cat urine, your cat will probably return to that same area and soil it all over again. Finally, the product you use to remove the stain and odor must be non-toxic and safe for cats. Otherwise, your cat might become ill from the cleaner.

Taking all these things into consideration, you'll have to select the product you'd like to use to remove pet stains. You'll want to have this on hand at all times so you don't risk having a stain set or discolor the area before you can get to it. Personally, I recommend Fizzion. Fizzion is a revolutionary product, removing stains and odors completely. It even works on stains that are years old. It certainly got the old stains out of my silver carpet.

But the best thing about Fizzion is that it works on all pet stains. Vomit, urine, you name it, Fizzion can handle it. At least, it has around here. There are other products on the market as well, usually available at your local pet store. Avoid grocery store brands. They're not as good as what your pet store or vet carries.

Whichever product you choose, make sure you tackle those stains your cat left immediately and thoroughly.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tips on Selecting a Show Cat

Though some people prefer a male or female cat for a pet, either sex will make a delightful companion with enough love and attention. Those planning to breed or show cats, however, must be a little more selective. Selecting a show cat is more complicated, time consuming, and expensive than purchasing a pet kitten.

Those inexperienced with show cats sometimes believe that just because a kitten can be registered, it can be shown. This may be true, but there is a fundamental difference between purchasing a show kitten and purchasing a kitten that can be shown. Even a kitten that is said to be show-quality, and is sold at a show-quality price, may not be good enough to be shown with any degree of success.

If you are seriously interested in purchasing a show cat with the potential to win, consider a young adult or older kitten, rather than a newborn. Some breeders will show their kittens, and then later sell them, so you might be able to get a kitten with a win or two on its résumé. If you don’t mind missing the pleasure of watching your kitten grow into a cat, then an older kitten or young adult cat might be a better choice than an untried kitten. Be aware that you will likely pay more for a kitten that has shown a potential for winning in the show ring.

Whether you want a kitten or an older cat, you should wait until a kitten is more than twelve weeks old before committing to buy. Kittens can change overnight, and no breeder can guarantee anything at only three months old. Regardless of what the breeder might tell you, a kitten that is six months old is less likely to change unexpectedly.

Before purchasing a show kitten, do your research. Visit shows, talk to breeders who work with the breed you’re interested in, watch that breed being judged, and make sure to sit through several finals in order to see what the show-winning representatives of that breed look like. Consult the breed Standard, as provided by the association with whom the kitten will be registered, and take that Standard with you when looking at kittens. Ask the breeder to show you where the kitten meets that Standard, and where it might fall short.

Remember that kittens are a genetic product of their parents, and their parents before them. Ask to see the pedigree of the kitten you’re considering, then look up each ancestor. Study the titles and awards the cats have won, especially in the first two generations. Cats without titles were either not shown or did not do well. If they were not shown, make sure you know why. A kitten with no champion or ‘grand’ in its pedigree might not be the best investment.

Beware of too much inbreeding. If your kitten was inbred (as can be discovered by studying the pedigree), check out any littermates of your potential kitten. Also ask to see pictures of any previous kittens from the breeding. If any of these kittens had abnormalities, then you should probably consider another litter.

Buying a show cat takes effort and a little investigation. Buy a kitten with an impressive pedigree, a pedigree that is stronger than either of its parents’ pedigrees taken alone, and you will not only obtain a quality show kitten, but you will assist in the enhancement of the breed.

Best Cat Shampoos

Cats, like most other pets, need to be kept clean and healthy. One of the best ways to keep your cat clean is to give it a regular bath. To do this, you’ll need a pet shampoo. You can walk into most supermarkets and purchase a generic pet shampoo, but it probably won’t be the best, and it may be formulated for dogs and not intended for cats at all. Instead of purchasing whatever you find, take a moment to review three of the best cat shampoos on the market and choose one that will work for you and your cat.

Clean Cat Shampoo with Chamomile

Some cats truly hate water, which means they hate bathing. If you’re unfortunate enough to have one of these cats living in your home, you might want to try Clean Cat Shampoo. This unique blend contains several ingredients that may calm your cat, including chamomile, nettle, and just a little catnip. This can result in a more pleasurable bathing experience for your feline companion. It is also a shampoo that promotes and protects the natural oils found on cats, keeping your cat healthy and happy. In addition, its natural ingredients are perfectly safe for your cat and the environment.

Earthbath for Cats

Most cat shampoos should not be used on kittens under six months of age. Earthbath is safe for any cat over the age of six weeks, which makes it ideal for bathing your new kitten. This completely natural shampoo is biodegradable and only uses ingredients that are proven safe for both cats and kittens. Some of these ingredients include: Vitamin E, cherry essence, aloe vera, purified water, and some coconut cleansers. These ingredients help the shampoo to achieve a pH balance suitable for a cat’s delicate fur. It also lathers easily, reducing scrubbing and even the time your cat will have to spend in the bath (a plus for cats who hate water!). Earthbath is environmentally friendly and does not contain harsh chemicals.

Four Paws Organic Citrus Shampoo

For cats that have itchy skin or smell bad, try Four Paws Organic Citrus Shampoo. Its natural ingredients will help soothe skin that has been irritated by fleas, ticks, mites, or other insects. However, it is not a treatment for these things. But it can be used to treat the rashes or inflammation that results from these infestations after treatment has been administered. It is also a good treatment for dry skin, and its sweet citrus scent can leave your smelly cat with a light and delightful fragrance.

Remember to never use human or dog shampoo on your cat. A shampoo designed for cats will protect the fur and skin, promote good health, and make your cat truly shine. Proper bathing will also help your cat remain free of mats and tangles and reduce itching. However, keep in mind that you don’t have to bathe your cat every day. They are generally very clean animals, so bathing every two to three weeks is probably sufficient unless your cat tends to get dirty more often than this. Regardless of how often you bath your cat, choose the product that best suits your needs and the needs of your cat.

Best Cat Carriers for Air Travel

Travel is stressful on people and cats alike. In order to reduce this stress and ensure your feline companion is safe and comfortable, you’ll have to spend some time picking the best cat carrier for your needs. There are hundreds of different cat carriers on the market, many of which are suitable for air travel. However, before you purchase one, there are several factors to take into consideration.

Your primary consideration when selecting a carrier for air travel will always be the airlines. If you purchase the wrong carrier, you may find yourself stuck at the airport with a carrier the airline will not allow. Most airlines have similar requirements, but check your airline beforehand. Make sure the carrier you select meets their standards. And always check that the carrier has been certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Most adequate carriers will have a sticker to prove that the carrier is Live Animal Regulation recognized. If not, the manual should say so. This certification ensures that the carrier is suitable for both cabin and cargo usage.

You’ll need a carrier that is the correct size for your cat. This doesn’t mean selecting the first carrier that your cat fits into. In fact, many airlines have specific requirements when it comes to the appropriate size. A carrier that is too small will result in a cat that feels cramped and confined. Your cat may even be injured trying to move. On the other hand, a carrier that is too large will not only cost you more but endanger your cat. In the event of an accident, your cat might be injured as it is tossed around the too-large carrier.

To choose the correct size, place your cat in the carrier before purchase. Your cat must be able to sit up, lie down, roll over, and turn around with no difficulty. The carrier should be just large enough to allow these movements. If it’s any larger, choose the next size down.

When selecting a carrier, purchase the best you can afford. Look for a carrier that is sturdy and durable, preferably with hard sides (tough polypropylene plastic is the best choice). Cardboard or fabric carriers are not usually allowed by the airlines, and they do nothing to ensure the safety of your cat. Some airlines will allow fabric carriers if your car carrying your cat in the cabin, but always check this with your individual airline first.

When examining the construction of your carrier, check the ventilation. Without adequate ventilation, your cat could become ill or overheat. Some cats have died on airlines due to improper air circulation, so always be sure your carrier makes the grade. There should be ventilation on three sides of the carrier, preferably four, as well as the top. Ventilation is generally provided through slits in the sides of the carrier and through the door, so make sure these slits are large enough to allow air but not large enough for your cat to stick its head into.

Check the handle before you buy, placing your cat inside the carrier and carrying the entire thing around the store for several minutes. You want to make sure that the handled won’t snap or otherwise break when you’re carrying your cat around the airport. Ensure that there is no warping of any plastic parts when the carrier is lifted. This includes examining the handle, plastic bolts, and even the sides of the carrier. If there is any warping, choose a different model.

Perhaps the most important point on your carrier is the door. Every year, countless pets escape their carriers and are lost or killed. Don’t let your cat be one of them. Examine the door carefully. The best doors will always be steel mesh, allowing for security and ventilation. Make sure the door closes snugly and that the hinge operates the way it’s designed to. You’ll also need to be confident that your cat can’t open the door. To evaluate this, take the carrier home and set it up as you would for a long plane ride. Then lock the cat in the carrier. If he gets out, take the carrier back. The last thing you need is for your cat to be escaping while locked in the cargo hold.

As a cat owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that you cat will be safe and secure during air travel. Taking the time to select the right carrier for you and your feline companion will result in a relaxed and happy plane ride.

Common Health Problems in Siberian Forest Cats

Siberian cats, also called Siberian Forest Cats, are quite popular throughout the world of cat fancy. Originally from Russia, these cats are sweet, loving, and loyal. They also make excellent pets for families with children and other animals, as they get along with almost everyone. In addition, they are low-allergen (though not truly hypoallergenic), so many people who are allergic to most cats may be able to tolerate a Siberian cat. However, the unique origins of this breed have led to some common health problems such as heart and kidney issues that the potential owner should be aware of before purchasing a Siberian Forest Cat.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Recent research has shown that FLUTD is present in most lines of Siberian cats as a heredity disease. Though there has been a call to remove cats with FLUTD from breeding programs, this has not yet been done. The good news is that FLUTD, which covers a range of problems from urinary tract infections, blockages, and kidney stones, is often not fatal. A qualified veterinarian can treat most of the problems associated with FLUTD.

Gum Disease

Over the years, many different breeds have been used to stabilize the Siberian Forest Cat, including the Persian, Maine Coon Cat, and Himalayan. Unfortunately, these breeds are all prone to gum disease, and the Siberian cat has inherited this problem. Most of the time, this disease requires the complete removal of all teeth for the comfort of the cat. However, after this has been done, the cat can lead a fairly normal life (though they’ll need soft cat food). It is only in rare cases that gum disease is fatal for Siberian cats.

Heredity Cancer

It is never easy to learn that the breed you’ve fallen in love with is prone to cancer. The good news is heredity cancer has only been documented in some lines of solid white Siberian cats in the United States. Cancer has not been reported in cats that are not white, and not all white cats have been diagnosed with cancer. In truth, there have only been a few cats in each generation who have died of cancer. But heredity cancer is still a valid concern for many breeders.

Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)

HCM, a heart muscle disease, is one of the most common problems encountered in most purebred cats, specifically the Siberian cat. Almost all Siberian cats will exhibit the symptoms of HCM at some time during their life as it seems to be heredity. Fortunately, it can be managed with the assistance of an experienced veterinarian. Before purchasing a Siberian Forest Cat, interview vets in the area to find one who can help you treat your Siberian cat. In many cases, this disease is fatal, killing cats sometimes as young as one year of age.

Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD)

A heredity condition affecting most Siberian cats, PKD does not usually begin to present until after seven years of age. It can, however, be anticipated. Cats affected by PKD will have cysts which were formed at birth or early in life and will usually have enlarged kidneys. They may even have kidney problems throughout their entire lives. At the onset of true PKD, your cat may begin to manifest symptoms such as reduced appetite, excessive thirst, and frequent urination. A quick loss of weight with no explanation may also occur immediately before diagnosis. PKD can be managed with the help of your veterinarian. However, the end of this disease is always kidney failure.

Even though Siberians are prone to several genetic diseases, they can still make excellent pets. With regular veterinary care and prompt treatment, most Siberians can lead full and healthy lives. Proper care and a healthy diet are still the best and most effective ways to manage health problems, regardless of breed.

Drugs to Avoid in Pregnant and Nursing Cats

Most cat owners are concerned with the health and well-being of their cat. This concern will naturally increase when your cat becomes pregnant or is nursing young kittens. Just as with people, a pregnant or nursing cat can pass certain substances to her kittens, either through the placenta or her breast milk. Some substances can harm or even kill the kittens. This is especially true of medications you might administer to the mother cat. Before giving your cat any drug, you should first consider the effect it may have on the kittens.

With very few exceptions, you should avoid all medication in pregnant or nursing cats. There may be instances where a medication that might prove harmful to the kittens may be necessary to save the mother, but this decision should always be made by a qualified veterinarian.

There are some drugs which must be absolutely avoided in all pregnant and nursing cats. Most of these will have adverse effects on the kittens and may also harm the mother. Some of these drugs include:
  • Albuterol
  • Amitraz
  • All antacids
  • Aspirin
  • Buspirone
  • Butorphanol
  • Carprofen
  • Cimetidine
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Diphehydramine (Benadryl)
  • Famotidine (Pepcid)
  • Natural Penicillins
  • Ranitidine (Zantac)
These are not the only medications that may harm your feline companion when she is pregnant or nursing. Even the medications your cat takes regularly may be harmful to mother or kittens. Before continuing or beginning any medication, talk to your veterinarian.

Keep in mind that many items that you may administer to your cat regularly may present a danger to your cat or her kittens. Most flea and tick medications (and collars) are actually dangerous to kittens, so talk to your vet about possible alternatives. Some creams and shampoos than cat owners use frequently also carry warnings specific to pregnant and nursing cats, so read the packages carefully, and ever be afraid to ask your vet about specific ingredients.

Many cat owners are tempted to simply switch to a homeopathic or organic medication. Do this with caution and only after consulting a qualified veterinarian. A ‘natural’ remedy may also not be safe for consumption during pregnancy, and the effects of these medications on cats may not yet be known.

It is important to take the initiative when discovering what is or is not safe for your cat and her kittens. Don’t be afraid to call the manufacture of the medication in question and ask directly about any studies that may have been done regarding pregnant or nursing cats. Your vet may do this for you, but if he doesn’t, do it yourself. The manufacturer may have information that your vet is not yet privy to, or your vet may simply be too busy to spend an hour on the phone trying to get a straight answer from the manufacturer.

The safety of your pregnant or nursing cat is ultimately your responsibility. You will have to ensure that she is safe and healthy, and this means understanding which medications or drugs might harm her or her kittens. Read labels, ask questions, and when in doubt, don’t give it to her.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: British Shorthair

The ancestors of the British Shorthair were brought to Northern Europe by Roman soldiers almost two thousands years ago. Their origins are humble enough, as street cats that bred freely with no attempt to control their bloodlines or appearance. However, during the last quarter of the 19th century, British Shorthairs suddenly appeared in great numbers at various cat shows in London. Since then they have increased in popularity to become one of the most sought after breeds, both in Europe and the rest of the world.

The Development of the British Shorthair

When longhaired cats first appeared at cat shows in England after World War II, they attracted a great deal of interest mostly because they were quite different from the norm. In the early 1900s, longhaired cats outnumbered shorthaired cats at shows by at least four-to-one. Shorthaired cats of any breed were hardly valued in England, and it seemed that the British Shorthair was the victim of neglect and ignorance as it dwindled in popularity. And things only got worse for the British Shorthair in the aftermath of both World War I and World War II.

Cat fancy, in general, suffered in England after World War II. The British Shorthair itself became almost extinct as it was ignored by most of the population of Europe. Breeders had difficulty finding suitable studs, and were reduced to outcrossing in order to maintain the breed. British Shorthairs were crossed to Persians to maintain eye color, type, and coat texture. Most cat associations refused to recognize the breed at all due to the outcrossing that was occurring.

However, the longhaired crossing seemed to enhance the beauty and form of the British Shorthair. So much so, in fact, that once accepted as a breed, judges in England began awarding hybrids for their unusual beauty. Eventually, associations in North America and England both passed regulations disallowing hybridization, but by then, so much hybridization had occurred that the ruling made no difference to the breed itself. Of course, it did make it difficult to register cats with Persian blood.

Eventually, the Persian became an allowable outcross for the British Shorthair once again, but only in England. This caused difficulties for breeders in North America, since they could not use most British Shorthairs from England in their stud programs. North American associations required at least three generations of British-to-British breedings to register a cat, and most cats from England did not meet this requirement.

North American breeders were having enough trouble getting their cats accepted as a breed by local associations throughout most of the 20th century. They didn’t have time to worry about importing cats that they could not use in their breeding programs anyway. It wasn’t until the mid-1960s that some North American breeders began importing English cats, but only those with pedigrees that would allow them to be accepted by associations in the United States

Finally, in 1970, the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) became the first American registry to recognize British Shorthairs as a distinctive breed, but only in the colors of blue and black. It took much more time for other colors to become accepted, but today, a large variety of colors are seen at shows throughout the world, but the most popular colors are still blue and black.

Some Breed Standards for the British Shorthair

The Standards for the British Shorthair, as with many other breeds, are quite strict. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: The ideal British Shorthair is compact, well balanced, and powerful. There is much depth in the body, a full chest, and strong legs. The coat is short and very dense. This breed is slow to mature, with some cats taking as long as four years to reach maturity.

Head: Round and massive, the head should be set on a thick, short neck. The forehead should be rounded, but should not slope.

Ears: The ear set of the British Shorthair is very important in competition. Ears should be medium in size, broad at the base, and rounded at the tip. They should be set far apart, fitting into the rounded contour of the head without distorting the line of the head.

Eyes: Large, well opened, and round, the eyes of the British Shorthair should be set wide apart and level.

Body: The British Shorthair should be powerful and medium to large in size. These cats have a level back and a deep, broad chest. The legs are short to medium, the paws should be round and firm.

Tail: The ideal British Shorthair has a medium length tail that is in proportion to the body. It should be thicker at the base, tapering slightly to a rounded tip.

Coat: The coat is short and very dense, well bodied, resilient, and firm to the touch. However, the coat must not be double coated or woolly.

Penalties: Any cat with a definite nose stop, weak chin, or rangy body will be assessed a penalty. Also, a overlong or soft coat will receive a penalty.

Disqualifications: There are several reasons a British Shorthair might be disqualified. These include: incorrect eye color, tail defects, long of fluffy coat, locket or button, or any evidence of poor health.

The British Shorthair is a stocky and well-formed cat. Because they developed out of strong country stock and have very strong genes, they are free of known genetic problems. They are also sweet and loving, and so make wonderful companions for many cat lovers.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: Bombay

The Bombay is a manufactured breed if there ever was one. These adorable cats actually began with Burmese breeders in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Burmese breeders recognized the need to outcross in order to produce a more compact body while retaining the dark and even coat their breed Standard required. They couldn’t use a Siamese, due to the longer body and blue eyes. Other breeds were eliminated from consideration for similar genetic issues.

The only logical candidate appeared to be the black American Shorthair. The difficulty Burmese breeders encountered was that there was no allowable outcross for the Burmese. If they wanted to introduce new blood, they had to falsify the pedigrees. This was accomplished in several ways. Brown hybrids were added to legitimate Burmese litters, and black hybrids were registered as American Shorthairs, since, at this time, there was open registration for the American Shorthair.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, there were several Burmese champions that carried the thickened, more resilient coats resulting from the Burmese-American cross. But what could the breeders of these kittens do with those that retained the all-black coats of their American Shorthair parents?

The Development of the Bombay

A breeder in Louisville, Kentucky began crossing the black kittens to black kittens only. This breeder, Nikki Shuttleworth Horner, was highly successful in creating a black Burmese with excellent conformation and a budding personality. These beautiful kittens were Burmese in every respect, with the exception of their black color. She knew that she could never get a new color added to the Burmese breed because of the strong opinion of Burmese breeders.

Horner decided on a different approach, one that didn’t involve the Burmese breeders at all. She made a request for a separate recognition for her black cats, which she called Bombays. They reminded her of the black leopards of India, near the city of Bombay, which is where the name comes from. In 1976, the Cat Fancier’s Association accepted the Bombay for competition. And so the breed was born.

Some Breed Standards for the Bombay

The Standards for the Bombay, as with many other breeds, are quite strict. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: The ideal Bombay has a unique look all its own. It should have a short, jet-black, gleaming coat, vivid copper eyes, a solid body, and sweet expression. The Bombay should also be muscular and heavy for its size. The perfect Bombay has excellent proportion and carriage.

Head: Pleasingly round, with no sharp angles, and the face should be full and sweet. In profile, there should be a visible nose break, but it should not present a ‘pugged’ or ‘snubbed’ look.

Ears: The ears of the Bombay should be medium in size and set well apart, alert, and tilting slightly forward. They should be broad at the base, with slightly rounded tips.

Eyes: The eyes should be set far apart with a rounded aperture. The color can range from gold to copper, but the greater the depth and brilliance the better.

Body: The Bombay should be medium in size, muscular, and neither compact nor rangy. They are slightly longer than their Burmese cousins, but not by much. The legs should be in proportion to the body, the paws should be rounded.

Tail: The ideal Bombay has a straight tail, medium in length, and neither short nor ‘whippy.’

Coat: All Bombays must be jet-black, with short, fine, satin-like texture of the coat. It should be close lying, with a shimmering sheen.

Penalties: Any cat found to be excessively cobby or rangy will be penalized.

Disqualifications: There are several reasons a Bombay might be disqualified. These include: kinked or abnormal tail, lockets or spots, incorrect number of toes, nose leather or paw pads that are not black, or green eyes.

The Bombay has a sweet disposition and a wonderfully sleek look. They make excellent pets and companions for many people, and are generally a mild tempered breed.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Itchy Cats: Fleas and How to Control Them

Itching is a common problem in cats and has many different causes. Your cat may have a skin infection, irritation, allergies, or even a parasite. However, one of the most common causes of itching in cats is the presence of fleas. An itchy cat is an uncomfortable cat. Your feline may scratch, bite, or even rub his or her own fur off on cement or concrete in an attempt to relieve the itching. Keep your cat healthy and happy by taking steps to prevent fleas to begin with.

Left untreated, fleas can lead to serious health issues for your cat including Feline Allergy Dermatitis (FAD). FAD is characterized by severe itching and little red bumps that look a lot like pimples. This condition can result in permanent hair loss and even infection. The best way to prevent FAD is to deal with fleas immediately.

Your best option for dealing with fleas is to use a good flea control medication. I like Advantage II, but you should consult your veterinarian for a recommendation regarding which medication is best for your feline. It is in your cat's best interest to be on a flea control medication. A single flea can more than 400 times in one day and they multiply like you wouldn't believe. Fleas can infest your home in just a few days, so prevent an infestation by taking precautions for all your feline friends.

If you already have an infestation, contact a qualified exterminator, treat your furry family members for fleas with the assistance of your veterinarian, and take steps to prevent another occurance.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: Birman

The Birman is a fabled breed that is shrouded in mystery and legend. This cat, often referred to as the Sacred Cat of Burma, was honored in Burma because the people there believed that the souls of their departed priests returned in the form of these stunning cats. The greatest legend surrounding this breed comes out of the temple of Lao-Tsun, located in western Burma.

A priest named Mun-Ha lived here, and each night, as he prayed, his sacred cat Sinh was at his side. One dark night, the temple was raided and Mun-Ha was killed. Sinh stood with his paws on his dead master, facing the sacred statue of Tsun-Kyan-Kse, the goddess of the transmutation of souls. Sinh began to transform. His coat, once white, glowed gold. His eyes turned blue, and his legs took on the color of brown velvet. His feet, however, remained a sparkling white, a symbol of the purity of Mun-Ha’s soul.

By morning, all other cats in the temple had completed this same transformation. For seven days, Sinh remained with his master. Finally, on the seventh day, Sinh died, carrying with him the soul of Mun-Ha.

While such a tale is certainly worthy of the Birman, it does nothing to illuminate the true origins of the breed. It is unlikely that anyone will ever discover the true beginnings of this illustrious cat.

The Development of the Birman

The introduction of the Sacred Cat of Burma to Western Europe is also surrounded in doubt. It is likely, however, that a pregnant female was shipped from Burma to France in 1919. Though no one seems to know what became of that cat, or why she was sent to France, it seems reasonable to assume that her kittens, including a beautiful female named Poupee, were the foundation used to establish the breed in France.

By 1925, the Sacred Cat of Burma was established well enough in France to take part in various competitions. The arrival of World War II, however, was hard on the breed. There was a point just after the war when there was only a single pair of these cats left. Concerned breeders used outcrossing to reestablish the breed as best they could.

In 1955, the Sacred Cat of Burma was firmly reestablished in France. Four years later, a breeding pair was imported into the United States. By the mid-1960s, the breed was accepted for competition in North America and England. Around this same time, the name was changed to Burman, and eventually to Birman.

Some Breed Standards for the Birman

The standards for the Birman, as with many other breeds, are quite strict. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: The Birman is a colorpointed cat with long, silky hair and four pure white feet. The head is distinctive, and the eyes are a bright blue.

Head: The head of the Birman should be strong, broad, and rounded. There should be a slight flat spot just in front of the ears. The Birman has full cheeks and heavy jaws.

Ears: Medium in length, the ears are almost as wide at the base as they are tall.

Eyes: The eyes of the Birman should be round and convey a sweet expression. The eyes should be blue in color, and the deeper blue, the better.

Body: The body should be long and stocky. Females tend to be smaller than males. Legs are medium in length and heavy, paws must be large, round, and firm.

Tail: The tail of a Birman is beautiful and pleasing in proportion to the body. It should be medium in length.

Coat: The Birman has a medium long to long coat, and is silken in texture. There should be a heavy ruff around the neck, and slight curl on the stomach. The color of the body should be fairly even, with subtle shading allowed. The points should be clearly defined, and the gloves should be clean and obvious.

Penalties: Uneven gloves, delicate bone structure, or white shading on chest or stomach are all causes for penalties.

Disqualifications: Any cat lacking full gloves will be disqualified. Other grounds for disqualification include: kinked or abnormal tail, crossed eyes, incorrect number of toes, white on the back legs beyond the hock.

The Birman is a sweet and gentle breed. Its lovely disposition and beautiful coat make it a delightful addition to any household.

Where Can I Find Wellness Cat Food Coupons?

Wellness cat food has risen in popularity recently. This brand of cat food is delicious, balanced and natural. It also is high quality and very nutritious. However, as one of the better cat foods on the market, it is not cheap. For many families, Wellness cat food is too expensive to purchase without the use of coupons. For these people, locating Wellness cat food coupons is necessary in order to provide their feline companions with a high quality meal. Fortunately, these coupons are not that difficult to locate.

The Wellness Pet Food Website

Wellness, like many companies, has their own website. Using this website, individuals can join the Naturally Well Pet Community. Members receive many benefits, including notices of discounts and special offers. You can even sign up for special Wellness contests and giveaways. In addition, coupons will occasionally be sent to established members, both through e-mail and regular mail.

Online Auction Sites

Sites that specialize in online auctions, such as eBay, often have coupons for auction. Sometimes these sites will have Wellness cat food coupons available in bulk for a very good price. Many sellers will even offer these coupons as “Buy It Now” items, so you won’t even have to wait for an auction to end. You can simply order your coupons as you would any other Internet item. When using online auction sites to purchase coupons, ensure the coupons are legitimate. Look carefully at each listing and ask the seller questions regarding their items. Remember that photocopies are not accepted by most retailers, so make sure you know they are original cat food coupons before you commit to buy.

Online Coupon Sites

Internet sites exist that allow you to select coupons and either print them yourself or have them mailed to you. Most retailers will accept online coupons provided they are from a legitimate site such as, or Check these sites frequently, as the offers are subject to change. Keep in mind, however, that most of these sites limit how many times per month you can order coupons. It is best to order all your coupons together to take greater advantage of the available offers.

Local Sources for Wellness Cat Food Coupons

Don’t underestimate your local newspapers and flyers as sources for coupons. Local pet supply stores are also a good place to look. They may offer free samples or coupons to return customers. They may even have a program for a free bag of food once you’ve purchased a certain number of bags at regular price.

Take the time to ask the salespersons about any promotions Wellness might be having in the near future. They may know of a booth or event Wellness may be hosting in your area. You can usually obtain free samples and a great many coupons simply by making a point of visiting certain locations on certain days.

Before you throw out your used food bags or tins, check the packaging for coupons. Sometimes these coupons will be on the back of the bag, the label of the tin or even hidden inside the bag wrapped in plastic. Check all packaging carefully before you discard it.

One of the best ways to save money with coupons is to keep them until your local grocery or pet store has a sale. Most of the time, retailers will let you use your coupons on top of the sale price, reducing the money you’ll have to pay for the cat food significantly. Some stores will even allow you to stack your coupons. But check to make sure your local store allows this, at it is a rare practice.

By using Wellness cat food coupons you can obtain a premium, healthy cat food at a fraction of the cost you might normally pay. Check local newspapers and flyers, old packaging and online to find these coupons and you’ll soon find yourself becoming a thrifty cat food shopper. If any brand of cat food will do, look for deals on Whiskas, Iams or Friskies cat food.

Cat Breed Facts: Balinese

The Balinese is the result of a concerted effort in the 1930s and 1940s to produce a longhaired, pointed cat. This breeding strategy was eventually successful. The Balinese, considered to be a cousin of the Siamese, is known for its grace and poise, and are often called the ‘Bali dancer of the cat world’ which is the source of the exotic name. Their strong personalities make them wonderful pets and loving companions.

The Development of the Balinese

Even before there was an effort to develop a longhaired version of the Siamese, there were occasionally kittens born to Siamese parents that had semi-long hair. Most breeders of Siamese kittens ignored or discarded these kittens, but some thought they were desirable enough to make a breed out of them. And so began the effort to create the Balinese.

Whether the longhaired Siamese is a result of hybridization of mutation is not entirely clear. Regardless, Siamese breeders took exception to the label ‘longhaired Siamese’, and so a woman by the name of Helen Smith proposed the name Balinese, since the graceful cats reminded her of Bali dancers she had once seen. The name was quickly accepted by the Cat Fanciers’ Federation in 1963.

Though continued outcrosses with the Siamese have led to a shortening of the Balinese coat, they are still and will continue to be a distinct and recognized breed.

Some Breed Standards for the Balinese

The standards for the Balinese, as with many other breeds, are quite strict. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: The Balinese is a svelte cat with a long, lithe, strong, and muscular body. The Balinese must be neither flabby nor bony, and must have clear eyes.

Head: The head should be a long and tapering wedge, medium-sized and in proportion to the body. The wedge of the head begins at the nose and flares out to the ears, creating a triangle, with no break at the whiskers.

Ears: Strikingly large and pointed, the ears of the Balinese are wide at the base and slightly pricked forward, as if listening.

Eyes: Should be almond shaped and medium in size. Uncrossed eyes are desirable, and they should be slanted towards the nose. Eyes must be blue in color.

Body: The Balinese should have a long and dainty body, with a combination of fine bones and firm muscles. Hips must not be wider than the shoulders, and the abdomen should be tight. The neck should be long and slender, the legs long and slim, and the toes dainty, small, and oval.

Tail: The tail of the Balinese should be long, thin, and tapering to a fine point. Tail hair should spread out like a plume.

Coat: The coat of the Balinese is long, fine, and silky, but with no apparent undercoat. Acceptable colors include chocolate point, seal point, and lilac point; some associations accept other colors and patterns. There must be no ticking or white hairs in the points.

Penalties: Crossed eyes warrant a penalty for all Balinese cats. Also, any cat with a lack of pigment in the nose leather or paw pads in part or in total will be assessed a penalty.

Disqualifications: Any sign of illness or poor health is grounds for disqualification. Also, nasal obstruction or occlusion, kink in the tail, or eye color other than blue will result in a cat being disqualified.

The Balinese is a slender and beautiful breed. Their unique temperament and stunning physical appearance combines to make them a delightful companion for all cat lovers.

Characteristics of the Siamese Cat

In the world of cat breeds, Siamese are interesting. They can be docile one moment, and racing around the house like a mad-cat the next. Typically, people either love Siamese or hate them. They are generally acknowledged to be a unique breed, even by those people with no interest in cats.

The Siamese is thought to have originated in Siam, which is called Thailand today. This is just a theory, however, with no real proof to support it. Though they likely originated in and around this area of the world, no one knows for sure.

The Siamese has a cream-colored coat with dark tips on the ears, feet, face, and tail. Kittens, however, are born without these points, which begin to show at approximately four weeks of age. There are several color variations available for the Siamese, including lilac point, seal point, chocolate point, and blue point. Some cat associations even recognize additional colors, such as lynx point, particolor point, and solid point, but these are considered ‘new’ colors for the Siamese. All Siamese should have bright blue eyes.

Despite their reputation, the Siamese is actually less dependent than most other breeds of cat, and so they tend to become very attached to their owners. If you want a cat who enjoys cuddling, this might be the breed for you. They are highly intelligent and easily trained, but they can also be incredibly stubborn, and they definately have their own minds.

The coat of the Siamese is short and smooth, and so doesn’t require much grooming. However, it is a good idea to run a brush over their coat approximately once a week, as this will help remove any excess hair. In this way, you might be able to reduce the shedding associated with the Siamese, and it will help with the hairballs all cats are prone to as well.

One of the most unique and entertaining traits of the Siamese is their voice. They are very talkative creatures, sometimes to the point of being annoying. Some people compare the mewling of a Siamese to the cry of a baby, and when a Siamese wants to make itself heard, it will. The voice of a Siamese can reach a similar decibel level as an ambulance siren. For Siamese lovers, this only makes the cats more endearing.

The Siamese, if kept indoors and with standard veterinary care, can live for fourteen years or more. They are not a commitment to be made lightly. For those who take the time to get to know them, however, they can be among the greatest companions and most loving of felines.

How to Adopt a Maine Coon Cat

Maine Coon Cats make lovely companions for people of all ages. They have long, silky hair and large, bright eyes. They are sweet tempered and loving, among the smartest of breeds, and would make a great addition to any home. However, before searching out breeders and purchasing a kitten, consider adopting a Maine Coon Cat who might not have anywhere else to go. Adopting a Maine Coon Cat, either an adult or a kitten, can be an enjoyable experience, but it important to know something about the breed first.

Maine Coon Cats are a naturally occurring breed whose origins are shrouded in mystery. However, in its modern incarnation, it can be considered to be a native of the state of Maine in the United States. There are some who believe that the Maine Coon Cat is a cross between raccoons and the cats first brought to Maine by European settlers, but this belief is entirely mistaken. Another common belief is that Maine Coon Cats come in only brown, and no other colors. In truth, there are many color variations available, each just as lovely as the next. If you are considering adopting a Maine Coon Cat, be aware that a variation in color does not mean that the cat in question isn't a Maine Coon Cat.

Since these cats are considered to be the largest of the domestic cats, a prospective owner of one of these beauties should expect that a Maine Coon Cat will stand quite tall compared to other domestic breeds. Their long coat will mat if they are totally neglected, but it does remain generally mat-free with minimal effort. A quick brushing once or twice a week is sufficient for most Maine Coon Cats. Their beautiful tails form a plume, and the ears are tufted and unique. Any cat without a full and lush tail may have been the victim of neglect or abuse. However, it is important to realize that kittens sometimes lack a full coat, as it can take up to three years for these cats to reach maturity.

There are Maine Coon rescue organizations all over the world, most notably in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. These can sometimes be found in your local paper, but are easier to locate with a quick internet search. Visit these rescue orgnanizations before you adopt a cat or kitten, and if you have to travel with your new companion, ensure you are complying with all regulations. Importing a cat into another country can be especially problematic, so check everything out before you attempt to board a plane wth your new friend, or you might find your cat thrown into quarantine or even confiscated.

Consider consulting Maine Coon Adoptions, which is a division of Preventing Euthanasia Through Rescue (PET Rescue). They specialize in the adoption of Maine Coon Cats, and have assisted many people in the purchase of their new best friend. Some cats here have registration papers, some do not, but they would all make loving companions. Though they do not ship their cats out of the state of California, they can provide much needed information for those wishing to adopt a Maine Coon Cat.

You can also check out your local animal shelter, but be wary and know what you’re looking for. Many animal shelters will label any large tabby as a Maine Coon Cat with no reason to do so. In fact, a Maine Coon Cat can be of many colors, including solids, tabbies, and particolors. Most shelter employees do not know the difference between any large cat and a Maine Coon, so check each cat out carefully before you consider adopting one which may not be a Maine Coon Cat.

Sometimes, breeders will have older cats or kittens that can be adopted at a reduced cost. Usually, these are cats who are too old to breed or kittens that have been returned for a variety of reasons. Regardless of where you find the Maine Coon Cat, you will want to ask many questions regarding its past, and certainly ask why that particular cat was returned to the breeder or brought to the adoption agency. The answers to these questions might influence your decision to adopt, and will certainly prove useful in getting to know your new family member.

When you do eventually find the right Maine Coon Cat for you, you’ll need to take it home. The cat should be transported in a carrier large enough for it to turn around and stand up. Purely for safety reasons. It’s never a good idea to transport a new cat, regardless of breed, without a carrier, because you simply do not know how the cat will react to the car. Remember that Maine Coon Cats are larger than other breeds, and so generally require a carrier designed for dogs, as cat carriers tend to be too small for Maine Coon Cats.

Once home, you should introduce the cat to its new surroundings gradually, as Maine Coon Cats can be rather shy. However, with a little patience, you will find that your new family member can bring you years of joy and happiness.

Cat Breed Facts: American Wirehair

The American Wirehair grew out of a spontaneous mutation. This unique breed has a vastly different coat than any other type of cat. Every hair is crimped, coiled, and springy, even the whiskers. These cats, related to the American Shorthair, make delightful companions.

The Development of the American Wirehair

In 1966, a litter of kittens was born in Verona, New York. One of these kittens, a red-and-white male, had sparse, wiry hair. This kitten, named Adam, was bred to a calico cat. This mating produced four kittens, two of which were wirehaired females.

This wirehaired coat was tested to determine if it was related to either of the Rex mutations. It was discovered that all three types of hairs — down, awn, and guard — were twisted, and the awn hairs were hooked at the tip. This was unlike either the Cornish or Devon Rex. Eventually, a great variance among Wirehaired coats developed. Some were sparse, some close lying and tight. However, the most desirable Wirehaired coat was thick and springy. This is still true today.

The breed was accepted into the CFA for registration in 1967. In 1978, the first American Wirehair achieved championship status. Though closely related to the American Shorthair, from which the original coat mutation sprang, American Wirehairs are registered as a separate and distinct breed. The American Shorthair is still an allowable outcross breed for the American Wirehair.

The wirehair mutation is a dominant gene. However, it is entirely possible to breed a Wirehair to a Wirehair and end up with a litter of all straight-coated kittens. This can be disheartening to the novice breeder, and all breeders of American Wirehairs must be prepared for this eventuality.

Some Breed Standards for the American Wirehair

The standards for the American Wirehair, as with many other breeds, are quite strict. It is quite easy to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: The American Wirehair is the result of a spontaneous mutation. The coat is springy, dense, and resilient, and also hard and coarse to the touch. These cats are agile and have a keen interest in their surroundings.

Head: The head should be in proportion to the body, and the underlying bone structure should be round with a well-developed muzzle and chin. A slight whisker break is allowed.

Ears: Medium sized and slightly rounded at the tips. The ears should be set wide and not unduly open at the base.

Eyes: Should be medium to large, bright, and clear. The eyes should be set well apart.

Body: The American Wirehair should have a medium to large body, with males larger than females. The torso should be well rounded and in proportion. Legs should be well muscled, paws should be oval and compact.

Tail: The tail of the American Wirehair should be in proportion to the body. It should be slightly tapering, but neither blunt nor pointed.

Coat: The coat of the American Wirehair is springy, tight, and medium in length. Each hair should be crimped, hooked, or bent in some fashion, including the hair inside the ears. The overall appearance of the coat is more important than the crimping of each individual hair. The most desirable coat is dense, resilient, crimped, and very coarse.

Penalties: Any cat displaying a deep nose break or long and fluffy fur will be assessed a penalty.

Disqualifications: The most common reason for disqualification for American Wirehairs is an incorrect coat. Also, a kinked or abnormal tail, the incorrect number of toes, or any evidence of hybridization will result in a cat being disqualified from competition.

The American Wirehair is a unique and loving breed. It is also one of the few breeds that is truly native to North America. Its sweet and open disposition makes it a wonderful pet for any cat-lover.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Cats and Spider Bites: The Black Widow Spider Bite

Anyone who knows me knows that my cat Magick gets himself into a lot of trouble. This past summer was no exception. He stuck his head into the BBQ and has no whiskers (and is missing a fair bit of hair). He fell off the roof and fractured a couple ribs (no, he hasn't figured out how to land on all fours). And he got himself bit by a black widow spider.

Black widows are black spiders with a red hourglass on the belly ranging from 1/2 inch to 1 inch long. They tend to like the warmer areas of North America, but they can be found as far north as Canada (unfortunately, at least for my poor Magick). They like to make their homes in dark crevice-like holes such as woodpiles, which is where Magick found one. They are not aggressive, but they will bite when threatened, or when an unsuspecting cat steps into a nest. As a result, a cat is more likely to be bitted on the leg than anywhere else. And the black widow spider has a poisonous bite.

So, what do you do if your cat has been bitten by a black widow spider? To start with, don't think you can treat it yourself. Keep the cat quiet and calm and head to your veterinarian immediately. Do not place a tourniquet above the bite. Doing this will not prevent the vemon from spreading and you may cut off necessary circulation to the affected area.

There is currently no blood test to detect the venom of the black widow spider, so your vet will make an assessment based on symptoms. Some of the signs to look for will include:
  • Extreme pain in the area around the bite
  • Nausea or vomitting
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Muscule tremors
  • Rigid muscles
  • Paralysis
  • Spasms
  • Difficulty breathing
The bite of a black widow can kill, usually by paralysing the muscles that control your cat's ability to breathe. Luckily, your vet can administer medication that can relax the muscles and allow the cat to breathe, just as my own vet did for Magick. Your vet may also want to give your cat IV fluids and keep him or her for observation. While there is an antidote available for humans, it is very expensive, so expensive that most people cannot afford to have their vet obtain a dose suitable for a cat.

I was lucky. Magick survived his bite, though a full recovery took quite some time. Many cats do not fare so well, even with treatment. Their small size makes them more likely to die from a black widow bite than a large dog.

Your best bet is to prevent a bite in the first place. Examine your yard for any evidence of black widow spiders. If you find any, hire an exterminator to eliminate them. You can take care of the problem yourself, but be careful. Remember that black widow vemon is toxic to humans as well.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cat Breed Facts: American Shorthair

The American Shorthair is a breed with a somewhat shaded past. Though not always treated kindly in cat championships, this breed has been used to make valuable contributions to many other popular breeds, including the Colorpoint Shorthair and the Bombay. With its gentle temperament and sweet disposition, this cat makes a wonderful companion to many people throughout the world.

Shorthaired cats arrived in North American with settlers as early as the 1600s. By the 1900s, domestic cats had begun to attract some attention, but this was minimal, and was more directed toward the Maine Coon Cat and other exotic breeds. Given the lack of interest in the domestic cat, it is not surprising that the first of the breed to be registered in the United States was from Great Britain. This cat, an orange tabby male, was imported into the US in 1901.

The orange tabby was registered simply as a ‘Shorthair’. Sometime later, when American-born cats were incorporated into the breeding programs, the term ‘Domestic’ was added to the breed’s designation. For many years there were few requirements for registering Domestic Shorthairs. Many times, these cats were simply household pets. Once breeders began to realize that they could develop unusual colors and patterns by selective breeding, they became more careful with their breeding programs.

In 1966, breeders voted to change the breed’s name to American Shorthair, and soon after, with two different silver tabbies earning titles and awards, the breed achieved the respect and status it had thus far been denied. Since then, the open registration of the American Shorthair has been an on-again-off-again practice. This means that at certain points in time, a person can register any shorthair cat as an American Shorthair. Breeders often use this as an opportunity to introduce new colors and patters, or to add to the vigor of the breed. Usually, this comes from street cats or farm cats with exceptional qualities.

Other breeders will cross American Shorthairs with Persians or Burmese to add substance to the body of the American Shorthair. It is almost certain that were it not for outcrosses with chinchilla Persians, the silver tabbies that are so acclaimed by cat fanciers would not exist today. However, outcrossing is still frowned upon my most associations, so most breeders who follow this practice do not advertise this fact.

American Shorthairs contribute to other breeds as well. They have been used to introduce new colors into the Colorpoint Shorthair and Persians or to add vigor to the Burmese. Crosses between American Shorthairs and Persians resulted in the Exotic Shorthair. They were the foundation of the Ocicat, Snowshoe, and Scottish Fold. Their adaptability, strength, and vigor, has kept then as an allowable outcross for the American Wirehair, Bombay, and Scottish Fold.

Some Breed Standards for the American Shorthair

The standards for the American Shorthair in shows are not quite as strict as with some other breeds. However, it is still not too difficult to have a cat that is penalized or even disqualified, so those picking a show or breeding kitten should do so with care.

General: No part of the body should be exaggerated enough to foster weakness. The American Shorthair should be strongly built, well balanced, and symmetrical, with power, endurance, and agility.

Head: The head should be large, full-cheeked, and have a sweet and open expression. Viewed from the front, there should be no dome between the ears.

Ears: Medium sized and slightly rounded at the tips. The distance between the ears should be twice the distance between the eyes.

Eyes: Should be medium to large with at least the width of one eye between the eyes. Eyes should be bright, clear, and alert. Acceptable eye colors are dependant upon coat color and pattern.

Body: The American Shorthair should have a sturdy, solidly built, powerful, and muscular body with well-developed shoulders, chest, and hindquarters. A broad back and slightly sloped profile are also desired.

Tail: Medium long and heavy at the base, it should taper to an abrupt end.

Coat: The coat of the American Shorthair should be short, thick, even and hard in texture. There is some variation in coat thickness allowed to accommodate seasonal and regional variations, but it needs to be dense enough to protect from moisture, cold, and skin injuries. Many colors and patterns are allowed in most associations.

Penalties: Any cat displaying excessive cobbiness or ranginess will be penalized. A very short tale is also ground for penalties to be assessed.

Disqualifications: If a cat appears to be a hybridization with any other breed, it will be disqualified. This includes long or fluffy fur, deep nose break, brow ridge, or bulging eye socket. Kinked or abnormal tails, or the incorrect number of toes, will also result in disqualification.

The American Shorthair is a gentle and loving breed that makes a delightful companion for many cat-lovers. Their sweet and open appearance makes then a wonderful addition to countless households around the world.