Thursday, July 21, 2011

Advice for Cats who are Sneezing

Question: Hello I am a four year old cat, it seems that every now and then I get the sniffles. Nothing too bad, but it is annoying. What is the matter?
Signed All Stuffed Up and No Place to Go

Answer: Dear Stuffed Up

Hi there, it sounds like you may be suffering from seasonal allergies, these are common in people, and can be a problem for cats too.  Snow mold is a problem in the spring, and later plant pollens can be an allergy irritant. Even ragweed, which is so commonly associated with people's allergies, can be an allergy causing problem for cats. Most seasonal allergies only last a few weeks. You can also be allergic to everyday things, such as dust in the home, or chemicals used around the house.

It might be best for you to stay inside when you find you have seasonal problems, or have your owner talk to your veterinarian about getting you some medication to relieve your symptoms. If you do have allergies to such things your owner can buy special wipes to clean your fur as this will remove the pollens from your fur. If the medication does not help your symptoms you might have a reoccurring upper respiratory tract infection. It would be best if you stay inside if this is the case too, because you do not want to spread it to other cats.

photo source

Question: Help I am a young kitten. My friend is typing this because my eyes are so crusted over they are glued shut. I keep sneezing all the time, my nose is plugged, and I feel terrible, what can I do?
Signed Little Snuffles

Answer: Dear Little Snuffles

This definitely sounds like an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection, or URTI.  This can be caused by either bacteria, or virus. If it is bacterial a veterinarian can give you some medication to help clear it up.  Viruses pretty much have to pass on their own, you can help by keeping your body strong.

Your owner may try to wipe the mucous from your eyes very gently with a warm, wet, cloth. They should keep you inside, in a warm room, possibly even with a humidifier. Sick kittens need to be kept comfortably warm, and given plenty to eat and drink. Your owner should feed you a small amount of canned kitten food (chicken mush) and mix it with water, sort of like a chicken soup. This should be done at least 4 times a day, with unlimited dry kitten food.  Feeding should not be done in a plastic bowl as plastic bowls cannot be disinfected correctly.

Upper Respiratory Tract Infections, especially in kittens, should not be ignored. Sometimes called "Cat Sniffles", this can get worse (I don't want to alarm you but they can develop into pneumonia), and can spread to other cats very quickly. With a little rest your problem should pass much like a cold in people, but if you get worse, start panting like a dog, have blood in the mucous, or are lethargic and stop eating, you really should get proper veterinarian attention.

Links to Help Owners with Sick Cats

Monday, July 18, 2011

Advice for Captured Wild Born Kittens

Question: Help, my sisters and I were born wild but recently were abducted and put into a cage, the food is good, but they keep holding us even when we hiss, are we safe?

Signed Freaked out in Captivity

Answer Dear Freaked

Hopefully your abductor is a kind hearted animal welfare person who is working to rescue you and tame you so you can find a good home with plenty of good food and a warm place to sleep at night.

What will usually happen when people try to tame wild, or feral, kittens, is that they put the kittens into a cage or small area just until the kittens learn to trust them. They will probably hold you a lot so that you stop hissing so much, and eventually will start to purr and even enjoy the attention you get. Once you become more friendly to people they will hopefully either keep you out of the cage, or try to find you a new home.

Depending on how old you and your sister kittens were when first caught you might become tame in less than a week. Do not worry, it sounds like the people are feeding you and holding you, so this is a good sign.

Tips on how to Tame a Wild, or Feral Kitten

Keep the kittens in a cage, such as a large dog kennel, or rabbit cage. Give them plenty of dry food and water while in the cage, but only give them canned kitten food when you are with them. The cage should also have a litter box, blanket, and a few toys. Find many opportunities to take the kittens out of the cage and hold them, even if they hiss. Do not let children hold them when they are still nervous and frightened, if dropped this could traumatize them worse.

When the kittens are more relaxed they can be given more space, such as being allowed loose in a bathroom. They should not be outdoors until wormed, and vaccinated, or ideally, not outdoors at all.

Further Reading

Advice for Broody Hens Waiting for Eggs to Hatch

Question:  Hello I am a hen who has been sitting on eggs for a number of days now, just wondering whey they will hatch. I am very concerned because I have heard all kinds of stories that hens eggs do not always hatch.

Signed Expectant Mother

Answer: Dear Expectant Mother

If everything goes well your eggs will hatch into chicks at about 20-21 days from the day you started to sit on them. It is true that there are some things that can go wrong, and sometimes eggs do not hatch, in fact it is very likely that not all your eggs will hatch.

Let us look at some of the reason eggs do not hatch.

If you do not have a rooster the eggs are not fertile and will not hatch. They will not hatch if you did not mate with him before laying the eggs.

Some of the eggs you may have laid first might have gotten cold and died before you started to sit on the clutch of eggs and acted broody.

Sometimes there are problems with bacteria, or cracked shells. If the eggs are not cared for correctly (brooded and turned) they will not hatch. However I do not want to alarm you, there is every reason to expect that the majority of your eggs will hatch just fine.

Tips on Hatching Chicken Eggs

Hens should be encouraged to use nesting boxes that are slightly raised off the ground, and lined in straw.

Hens will lay many eggs (often 1 a day) before sitting on the clutch of eggs. When they do sit on the eggs they are said to be “broody”. Eggs will generally hatch within hours of each other at about 20 – 21 days after being brooded. Typically not all the eggs will hatch and those still not hatched should be disposed of after a few days (the hen will not sit on them much more after the other chicks hatched).

Some people take eggs and raise them in an incubator, in this case it is important that the eggs are kept warm, and turned at least twice a day, up until a few days before hatching. Even after hatching, human raised chicks, must be kept warm. Those with a hen will run under her body for protection and warmth.

Chicks need chick starter ration to aid proper growth and development.