Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to Keep a Cat Alive for Longer

Mimi is a seventeen year old cat. Had he been a human, he would have been around ninety years old. That is quite an accomplish for a cat to live for such a long time.

The key to Mimi's longevity? Water. Mimi drinks an astonishing amount of water very day--a huge bowlful. That has helped prevent him from the common urinary diseases and kidney failure that plague most cats as they grow older.

Moreover, Mimi has been mostly an indoor cat for most of this life. That means he is not exposed to harmful dangers that could cut his life short, such as getting run over by a car, expose to FIV, etc.

Unfortunately, Mimi is overweight and since he is old, not prone to exercising or running about. That makes him prone to diabetes, arthritis, etc. I been trying to feed him less--despite his vigorous meowful protests.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Cost of Keeping a Cat

When Anton and I adopted Lexy, we had to fill out a questionnaire asking how much money were we willing to spend per year on a cat. We wrote $1000 expecting the figure to be way above the norm. It turns out that it IS the norm. Most people typically spend between $600 and $1000 per year on their cat. That is a lot of money. However, cats are great companions and provide health benefits such as reduction in blood pressure, etc. Here are some tips to help
cat owners cope with the high costs:

1) Adopt from a shelter. Initially, I wanted to buy a purebreed Russian Siberian cat. The breeder I contacted told me that they start at $800. My cat Lexy, from the anticruelty society, was $55 including all shots and neuter.

2) Do not feed your cat cheap cat food--it will cause more problems in the long run

3) Take your cat to a vet school--they are often cheaper and a vet will always help/supervise the student

4) Buy qualities in bulk from sam's club or costcos

5) Your cat do not need any expensive accessories such as pet costumes. You can easily make cat toys by attached a feather on a stick.

6) Shop for deals--I once got 100 cans of free cat food from someone that posted on craigslist

7) Save for a rainy day

8) Offer to catsit for money. We are getting $50 per month on top of food and litter that helps in the cost of taking care of our cat. It is not that much more work to take care of one more cat.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Which Litter Box?


When we first got Lexy, Anton and I bought the $40 Omega Paw and Roll Cleaner. It was significantly more expensive than the $5 traditional litter box. However, we justified the high price by telling ourselves that it will be significantly easier and faster to clean the litter.

We never have a basis of comparison until we got Mimi who uses the traditional, cheaper litter box. Although it is slightly faster and easier to clean the litter using the Omega Paw and Roll, the cats seem to prefer the traditional litter box. Lexy has now almost completely stopped using her old litter box and has been using Mimi's litter box for the past two weeks. However, a significant disadvantage of the traditional litter box is that the litter flies everywhere as the cats cover up the evidence of usage. It's not that the litter does not escape from the Omega Paw and Roll Cleaner, but a lot less does escape. It's not a lot harder or slower to clean up the traditional litter box, but it is annoying to have to vacuum around the litter box every day.

Verdict: The traditional litter box because the cats seem to prefer it and it is not very hard to clean.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Awwwwwwwww Momment

The aww moment for me is when the cats touch noses to signal a friendly greeting. For the past week, Lexy and Mimi have been three centimeters away from touching noses with each other. As they stand there, face to face, staring at each other, I silently urge them to touch noses and become friends. Alas, after many false alarms, they still have no done so. Every single time, one of the cats would meow or growl and instead of touching noses with each other, they will have a hissing session. They have done many variations of the aww moment--from lying close to each other to Lexy sniffing the butt of Mimi, but not touching noses.

I thought Mimi and Lexy would be friends fairly quickly. After all, it took Lexy and another (female) cat that we were cat-sitting for only four days to touch noses. Since Mimi is male, doesn't hormones and evolution makes them want to be friends? Perhaps, it is the age difference? Although they have developed slightly better tolerance for each other, friendship still eludes them. Maybe, next week, they will touch noses and have the aw moment.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Mimi Crying All Night Long

We had Mimi for about a week now. Predictably, every night between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., he will meow his head off. That has caused quite a bit of sleep deprivation for Anton (my fiance) and I. Poor Mimi, moving to a new home after almost seventeen years must be rough for any cat. I feel that he is depressed and must be lonely for his previous home/owners. So I don't blame the cat for meowing. Still, my mood is not helped by the constant sleep deprivation and I been feeling just as cranky as the old cat.

Most experts recommend simply ignoring the cat and letting it meow all night long and soon the behavior will (hopefully) stop. Anton and I have been doing just that--mostly because none of us have the energy to get up at 3:00 a.m. to see why the cat is meowing so loudly. Other experts have also advised us to lock it in the bathroom. However, Anton and I do not have the heart to do so. It seems so cruel to lock a poor, elderly cat into a bathroom throughout the night. I wonder how long it will take before it can adjust and learn to be friends with my cat and us.

I am also quite worried about Mimi--he quite old for a cat and could very realistically die on us. I want her last moments to be pleasurable for him. I want him to explore the apartment and play with the cat tree, not hiding under the bed growling at anything alive near him. Hopefully with some more time, he will come out of his shell.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lexy and Mimi

My fiance e-mailed me one morning telling me that one of his professors is going to Switzerland for one year and needed someone to cat sit his cat for a year. The next thing I know, we are stuck with Mimi, a frail sixteen going on seventeen cat.

My own cat, whom I thought could use a friend, now acts like I ruined her life with the presence of another cat. We agree with our cat--our lives are also ruined due to constant sleep deprivation as the two cats hiss and growl at each other all night long.

I have one year to try to get the cats to become friends and try to keep the older cat alive.

Tips on introducing cats to one another (from

  • Set up a comfortable "safe room" for New Cat. Put her food, water, litter box (not near the food), scratching post, toys, and bed or other sleeping mat there.
  • Expect a great deal of "hissy-spitty" behavior through the closed door from both cats. This is natural and normal; they are just starting to explore their "pecking order."
  • Scent is very important for cats. Let each of them smell the other indirectly, by rubbing a towel on one and letting the other smell it. They will soon accept the scent as a normal part of the house.
  • Once or twice, switch roles. Put New Cat in the normal living quarters, and let your resident cat sniff out the new cat's Safe Room.
  • After a day or so, let the two cats sniff each other through a baby-gate or through a barely-opened door. Gauge the rate at which they seem to be acclimating to each other.
  • When you think they're ready, let them mingle under your supervision. Ignore hissing and growling, but you may have to intervene if a physical battle breaks out. Again, take this step slowly, depending on how quickly they get along. If they do seem to tolerate each other, even begrudgingly, praise both of them profusely.
  • Make their first activities together enjoyable ones so they will learn to associate pleasure with the presence of the other cat. Feeding (with their own separate dishes), playing, and petting. Keep up with the praise.
  • If things start going badly, separate them again, and then start where you left off. If one cat seems to consistently be the aggressor, give her some "time out," then try again a little bit later.

I think that the most important thing is time and patience. I am still in the stage of supervised mingling--I feel like such a cat mommy.