In this issue:

1. News Bites

  • Purina ONE dry cat food recalled
  • Kitten survives washing machine ordeal
  • Mountain lion’s long walk ends in Connecticut
  • Cat winning as “Biggest Loser”

2. Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy and Healthy

3. Cat TV

1. News Bites

Purina ONE cat food recall: Nestlé Purina has issued a recall on Salmonella-contaminated dry cat food, specifically Purina ONE Vibrant Maturity 7+ in 3.5 an 7 lb. bags. The recall is limited to four particular lots of food (click here for details, or visit The cat food was distributed in California, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin, who may have further distributed the product to other states.

Kitten survives washing machine ordeal. Princess, an 8-week-old kitten, was accidently shut into a washing machine, but survived the 50-minute cycle. Emergency veterinarian Judy Drysdale said that “Princess arrived at the clinic on Friday night very shaken up and shivering, with a nose bleed and sore eyes…Washing machines and tumble dryers are just the type of small, dark and often warm places that cats like to hide. We would like to urge owners to be careful and ensure the doors on such machines are closed at all times, and checked thoroughly prior to loading and switching on.” Indeed, this is a tragedy that happens all too often; but few cats live to tell the tale. Dryer injuries include severe burns, trauma, and dehydration. Click here to read the complete story in the Belfast Telegraph.

Mountain lion’s long walk ends in Connecticut. A resourceful mountain lion left South Dakota one day, and–perhaps hoping to star on Broadway–made it all the way to Connecticut, but unfortunately was struck and killed by an SUV just 70 miles from New York City. Through genetic testing, the lion’s origin was identified as South Dakota. He had been spotted during his journey through Minnesota and Wisconsin, and had also been seen near Greenwich, Connecticut, before he was killed. Click here to read the fascinating report from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection,

Cat is winning as “The Biggest Loser.” Poor Otto the cat could no longer get into his litter box, so his “owners” brought him in to a New Jersey veterinary clinic to be euthanized. Clementon Animal Hospital’s staff convinced them to relinquish him instead. Since then, staff have been working to help Otto lose weight and become healthier. He’s gone from 35.8 pounds to 29.5 in six month. Thanks to a combination of diet and exercise, Otto (short for “Ottoman”) is on his way to a goal of 20 pounds. Clementon veterinarian Dr. Shashina Lyons emphasizes that there’s nothing funny about a pet as morbidly obese as Otto. “The unfortunate thing is, people think it’s cute,” Dr. Lyons said. She emphasized that fat cats “can be prone to diabetes, they can have arthritis, they can be prone to liver disease.” How could a cat possibly get so fat? Click here to read our article on Feline Obesity to learn about its causes–and cures!

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2. Keep Your Indoor Cat Happy and Healthy

Cats are smart, and they naturally know everything they need to know about being a cat. However, they do not know about things like cars, dogs, infectious diseases, and other outdoor hazards. Like young children, cats need to be protected from dangers they can’t anticipate or handle. That’s why Little Big Cat recommends that cats be kept indoors, and not allowed to roam loose outside. (See our article “Indoors or Outdoors” for more information.)

Now, many people think that this is cruel. They say that Nature intended for cats to wander (and hunt, and fight!), and this is true. But Nature is also cruel in its own way, and free-roaming outdoor cats tend to die young.  In this modern society, we all have to make many accommodations in order to live safe, healthy lives…and this goes for our cats, too.

While keeping cats indoors it is the safest choice, can create its own problems. A reader recently asked about converting a former free-roamer to an indoor lifestyle…and in a recent newsletter, I told you about “OCD” (obsessive-compulsive disorder) in indoor cats. So how can we keep our cats not only safe, but also physically, mentally, and emotionally fulfilled? It’s vital to create an indoor environment that provides mental and physical stimulation as well as social interaction, to ensure our cats’ overall health and happiness.

That’s where “Environmental Enrichment” comes in. This term originally described the need to provide something besides a barren wire crate for highly intelligent primates housed in experimental laboratories, but it’s equally applicable to any confined animal, including stabled horses, zoo animals and, nowadays, pets that are housed primarly indoors. The Ohio State University is a pioneer of indoor enrichment for cats in particular; and they have recently expanded the concept to include dogs that spend most of their time inside.

Indoor enrichment has many facets that address the many needs and natural behaviors of cats. Besides the fundamental necessities of food, water, bed, and litterbox, cats need to satisfy their sense of territory, social impulses, and perhaps most importantly, their hunter instincts.

Territory. For a cat, territory encompasses not only the square footage of your home, but the vertical dimension as well. Many cats like to climb; a high vantage point makes them feel safe. Cat furniture that provides shelves and climbing opportunities doubles as a visual and scent marker for the cat to scratch (and protects furniture from the same behavioral drives). Window shelves also allow the cat to watch the great outdoors without being exposed to its dangers.

Safe Access. A secure outdoor enclosure is a good way to give your cat access to fresh air and sunshine without the dangers of roaming free. Click here to read about outdoor safety for indoor cats.

Hunting. Cats live to hunt. It  is a hard-wired instinct that must be satisfied for our cats to be mentally healthy. The playful stalking and pouncing that so delights us in kittens is actually preparing them for survival as adults. Indoor cats don’t need to hunt to eat, but they still need to express those instincts.

Summary of Indoor Enrichment Tools

  • Play and treat balls (SlimCat, Deli Dome)
  • Cat grass
  • Play Therapy
  • Other exercise (prey facsimiles, rotate toys, walks)
  • Clicker training
  • Cat furniture
  • Climbing frames (KatWallksCrazy Cat Wall)
  • Bird feeders, fish tanks, cat videos
  • Outdoor enclosures (Habicats, Catios)

Click here to download The Ohio State University’s comprehensive guide to indoor cat care.

Now available for Amazon Kindle: Dr. Jean’s ebooks, What Cats Should Eat: How to Keep Your Cat Healthy with Good Food and Feline Diabetes: The comprehensive guide from a holistic veterinarian! You can also still get them as PDF files in the Little Big Cat Bookstore. We’re working hard on getting more titles for Kindle, as well as versions for Barnes and Noble Nook. (Note: Please order Kindle versions directly from Amazon.)

3. Cat TV

If you’re a regular reader, you already know about Jackson Galaxy’s fabulous show on Animal Planet, My Cat from Hell. Jackson is absolutely brilliant at solving the most annoying and perplexing feline behavior problems. (The show has been renewed and they are currently casting for the new season–if you’re in Southern California, click here to apply!)

But Jackson’s not alone…and our blogging buddy ExclusivelyCats just posted a great review of the current array of cat-related TV shows . Of course, we’re all delighted to finally see cats get a little more attention! She reviews Must Love Cats, Housecat Housecall, Cats 101, Too Cute! Kittens, and Confessions: Animal Hoarding. I agree with her assessments of these shows; most are pretty lightweight (except Hoarding, which can be very disturbing), but you can glean an occasional nugget of good sense here and there.

To that list I would also add two recent specials:

The Lady with 700 Cats is a profile of Lynea Lattanzio and the Cat House on the Kings, a remarkable 12-acre cat sanctuary in Central California. I watched it last night, and it was terrific! I did go through a few tissues, with both sad and happy tears, as well as bouts of sympathetic rage at the thoughtless cruelty of the cowards that leave boxes of kittens at the gate in the middle of the night, and the many clueless callers that Lynea deals with in her brutally honest style. May Lynea live long and prosper, because the cats desperately need her!

Help! I’m Becoming a Cat Lady! is sort of “What Not to Wear meets,” It’s cute, but I found it a tad annoying for painting cat devotees as ineptly antisocial. Sure, a few cat ladies are over-the-top, but the vast majority that I know (and as a feline veterinarian, I know quite a few!) are normal people–women, men, divorcees, widows, determined singles, straight, gay, and every other variable–who have simply made a conscious choice to share their homes with cats rather than deal with the complexity of human partners. Can’t say as I blame them! Depending on response to this show, it could become a series.