The Barrier Has Been Breached!

Ivy the Golden doodle puppy has managed only to go into the basement once-she has a barrier. That’s where the cat food and kitty litter boxes are. I gave her a new Bully Stick, which she chewed, and left the loft. Too quiet. I went looking for her, and there she was, on the other side of the baby gate which has the door to the basement keeping the door wide enough for the cats to get in.

Ivy ate all the cat food-that’s dinner for tonight, and diarrhea for tomorrow, but left the kitty logs alone. Ick.

My book only has one chapter to finish editing. Ivy isn’t in the book. She’s only 6 months old, and I think now a teenager. With a walk this morning, and the dog park this afternoon, she should crash shortly for the night.

Chunky kitty update

I attended the annual Colorado State University Conference for Veterinarians this weekend. It’s nice to touch base with people who know the latest trends in the profession.

Dr. Deb Lovan of Texas A & M University gave a most interesting lecture on obesity in cats. She began by asking how many of us in the audience had an obese cat. Most raised their hands. I did not. I have 45 pounds of cat, but it is divided up by three huge felids. Frank is the biggest cat by far at 16.5 pounds. I do not think he is fat. He is huge.

Many people deny that their cats are too fat. Dr. Lovan had some new ideas to share regarding feline obesity, much of which transfers to human medicine.

Of course, the bottom line of weight reduction is to expend more calories than are taken in. In our indoor kitty couch potato society, this is difficult to do. What struck home to me is that it has been proven definitively that obesity is an endocrine disorder as well as an inflammatory disorder. You don’t cure obese patients, you manage them. Wow.

The human patient has many disorders related to obesity. Obesity leads to a higher risk of stroke, heart attack, osteoarthritis and autoimmune diseases. This is because fat cells are very metabolically active. They produce a wide range of metabolic and hormonal phenomena.

After years of telling my clients that buying a can of cat food is buying a can of 80% water, Dr. Lovan recommends canned diets to increase water intake, and specific feeding time. My cats have always had dry food fed free choice.

The main factor in foods whether wet or dry is that the protein content should be equal to or greater than 50% dry matter (DM), and the carbohydrate content as low as possible. If your cat is a renal failure patient, it still needs a low protein diet.

Check out your cat food labels for dry matter content of nutrients. “As fed” is not the same content as dry matter. If you can’t find the DM content, go online and get the specific counts from the manufacturer’s website. Work with your veterinarian to find a better dietary plan for your chunky kitty.

Our feathered friends.

As you go about your winter tasks in the yard, please remember to feed the birds. It has been strangely quiet around El Rancho Pig Sty-o. Time to bring the birds back.

We have several types of feeders. The tube feeders for wild bird mix and sunflower seeds are popular with the songbirds. Hanging platform feeders so the birds can get in there and snack seem to be a hit for our feathered friends. The downy woodpeckers and marauding squirrels like suet feeders.

I dropped some bucks on new feeders when I had some gardens re-landscaped. The result was beautiful. However nothing, not even a squirrel baffle, can waylay the plans of these little thieves. They even jump off the roof to land on the feeders. They can go through one suet cake in a day. Want to know a secret? I love to watch the squirrels and their gymnastics. Back in Highland Park, where I was born and raised, there was a neighborhood squirrel my sister trained to eat out of her hand. Radcliffe was with us for many years of delight.

Feeding birds in the winter can help drive off the blues of those cold, dark winter days. Our cats are in feline heaven, chirping at the birds through the window. How nice it is to take a time out from a busy day to sit on the floor in the dining room with Matthew on my lap, noting what species came for a snack. Wish we had Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, my favorite bird. They live east of here, but I have seen one here exactly twice. Once in my yard, once up in the mountains. That was in 1980. We can but hope.

Much has been said of diseases birds can get from feeders. Start with clean feeders, disinfected then rinsed well, and there should be no problem.

Oh, about winter tasks-forgot to put straw in the rose gardens. Oops! I hope it’s not too late after a few below zero days. 

The water is frozen and I’m thirsty!

The coming of winter brings special concerns for horse owners. Access to fresh water can be difficult when the temperature begins to drop.

With the exception of oxygen, a deficiency of water produces death more rapidly than a deficiency of any other substance.

The average-sized horse needs about ten gallons of water per day. Horses at work need even more. According to Dr. Lon Lewis’ “Care and Feeding of the Horse,”  when water is readily available, increased water consumption occurs as a result of increased drinking frequency. There is a direct correlation between drinking frequency and ambient temperature, with a large increase in frequency at temperatures above 85 degrees. When water is readily available, most horses drink once for only about 30 seconds or less every few hours. If water is not readily available, more and longer drinks may be taken during a drinking bout.

Where we live, beginning around the end of October, it is necessary to keep a close eye on the water tank. We begin to heat the water about that time  so the water does not freeze. A careful eye must be kept on the water supply daily. We do not have automatic waterers, where the horse drinks and the water is refilled. We fill the tank using a garden hose.

Frozen hoses must be avoided so that access to water supply is not compromised. We do this by detaching the hose and leaving it in the sun, wound up to prevent any water remaining in the hose to freeze. If exceptionally cold, we put the hose in the house.

When the tank heater is defective,  a short in the system can occur that leads to the horse avoiding the water supply. We had this problem recently.  The electrician came out to replace the wiring so if there is change in the current such as a surge, the power shuts off. With this upgrade, the horses were still a little leery of the tank. We figured out that the heating element in the tank was defective. Since it was still under warranty, it was replaced, and the horses are drinking well. Horses can drink out of buckets, but unless they are kept filled all day long, the volume is not enough to satisfy the daily intake of water.