Captain's Cabin

Pirate Lord of the Platinum Coast
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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Do cats dream?


Your cat is asleep, but his tail and his whiskers are twitching, his claws extend and retract, is nose is moving, and sometimes he might even meow himself awake.

No, there's nothing wrong with Sir Pouncalot.  He's just having a dream.  Like humans, cats came move a lot in REM stage sleep when most dreams occur.  We humans spend only about 20 percent of our sleep time in REM stage, while your cat spends about 30 percent of their sleeping time there.

Just like humans, cats dream of things that have happened in their life, but often in a abstract way.  They may be hunting prey.  Perhaps in their dreams they are not looking at the birds through a window, but might actually be out there stalking them.

And they probably dream of you too.  Of playing with you, or cuddling with you, or of chasing that annoying red dot.

While movement in dreams happens in a number of species, the brain emits a substance to refrain the animal from acting out the stories in their dreams too vividly.  (Cats with damage to the locus coeruleus in the brain stem may sleepwalk or act out their dreams, stalking, looking for food or playing with toys, when they are actually sound asleep.)

Most cats average about 16 hours a day of sleep, although a good portion of that sleep time is napping, just a light doze that they can awaken from in a second.

When they are not dozing or in REM stage sleep, cats fall into a deep slumber during which their body starts repairing itself, their energy levels are replenished, their immune system is bolstered, and their muscles and bones regenerate.

While some dreams do occur in non-REM stage sleep, they are more fragmentary and less visual.

How do we know that cat's dreams are just like ours?  We can't see what they see in their mind's eye, but the hippocampus, which governs memory, is the same in all vertebrates and mammals.  So a cat, rat, dog or human all have the same hippocampus, just in different sizes.  And the electrical activity pattern in a sleeping cat's brain is remarkably similar to that of a sleeping human's brain.

If you don't catch your cat in REM sleep, don't worry, he or she is still dreaming.  In cats, especially, the most significant indication of dreaming is an utterly slack and relaxed condition.

And just like humans, cats have good dreams and bad dreams as well.  Sometimes they dream about bad events that have happened in their past.  Sometimes they dream about people they have known.

What do you suppose your cat dreams about?

Thanks for reading and make like Avengers and have a MARVELOUS #caturday!



Saturday, May 28, 2016

Food Toxicity in Cats


Garfield is a cartoon cat with a love of lasagna, but realistically lasagna is not a food you want to be feeding your cat on a regular basis.  The same goes for pizza and other other dishes that may contain amounts of garlic and onions, as both of these substances are toxic to cats.

While a trip to the emergency room is unlikely just because Sir Pounce-a-lot nibbled your pizza, it is best to keep these things well away from the feline members of your family.  Eating a clove of garlic, or a green onion will likely cause digestive upset.  Eating onions on a regular basis will lead to anemia.

Other human foods that may be hazardous to your pet include alcohol, chocolate, coffee, tea, energy drinks, dairy products, fat trimming, raw meat, eggs and fish, grapes and raisins, tuna, xylitol, and of course, bones, especially small ones that a cat can choke on.

Alcohol can cause sever liver and brain damage, and as little as a tablespoon can lead to problems.  Alcohol is for humans to enjoy, it's not for your cat.

Chocolate contains theobromine, and dark chocolate and unsweetened cooking chocolate contains excessive amounts of it.  Theobromine can cause heart problems in felines, muscle tremors, and seizures.   Cats can't taste "sweet", so they've not need for a chocolate treat.

Also, Chocolate contains caffeine as does coffee, tea, many popular sodas, and energy drinks.  Caffeine can cause more than just restlessness in your feline friend.  It could lead to rapid breathing, heart palpitations, and muscle tremors. 

While dairy products have long been associated with cats, some are lactose intolerant, and consuming dairy products can lead to vomiting and diarrhea.   "Whisker's Cat milk" or "Catsip" is available at many pet shops and it is lactose free dairy treat that most cats love.  So if you want to treat Mr. Fluffypants to a bowl of milk, be sure to make it lactose free milk.

Too much fat is not good for any animal, but in the case of cats, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea and lead to a painful condition called pancreatitis.  As for raw eggs, raw meat and raw fish...while cats do eat these in nature, they carry a risk of Salmonella or E. Coli, and it is much, much better to serve your pet properly prepared food and save yourself the heartache, and the vet bills.  Tuna can carry methylmercury, a known neurotoxin.   In small doses it does not pose a threat to humans, but cats are much smaller than humans, so the dose can build up much quicker.  While I know some people will give their cats a bit of tuna sandwich or tuna from a can for treat, it should not be fed on a regular basis.

Cats will rarely eat grapes or raisins. However they can lead to acute kidney failure, and it's best not to risk your cat's health.  Ditto with Xyliotl.  This is an artificial sweetener that is used in sugar-free food.  While the jury is still out on how great a risk it poses to cats, it can cause a sever drop in blood sugar in dogs, leading to seizures, convulsions, or even death following liver failure.  Check to make sure that foods Do NOT contain this ingredient before sharing them with puss.

You should, for the most part, only feed cat food to your cat.  Human food, if given, should be fed in small bits and ONLY as a treat.  Personally, I don't give mine table scraps at all, for treats they get Temptations.  While this doesn't stop them from trying to wheedle table food out of me, it does give me peace of mind, and keeps my cats healthy (if not entirely happy).

On a side note, processed fish of all kinds contains a high level of ash.  If your cat is at risk for Urinary Tract Disease, you should eliminate all fish from their diet.  High ash is one of the main reasons for urinary tract blockage.  (I also recommend getting rid of "clumping" cat litters and going with clay or a natural solution, like the original Feline Pine litter.)

if you suspect your cat many have ingested a toxic food, make a note of what and how much and contact your vet.  In some cases, care must be immediate.  For more information on pet toxins, visit www.petpoisonhelpline.com

As always, thanks for reading and have a marvelous #Caturday !

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why Cats and Water Doen't Mix

Mr Fix It


Why do cats hate water so? As with everything cat related, it can be a bit complicated. Part of the reason is nature and part of it is nurture.

All domestic cats are descended from the African Wildcat, which looks a great deal like a leggy tabby. The African Wildcat is a desert dwelling creature and has little contact with water, and certainly not with large bodies of water. As a result they did not develop the oils and protective undercoat that helps dogs and other animals shed water quickly. When a cat gets wet, he stays wet.

All that water in their coats slows the animal down and for a creature that is programed for a flight or fight response, you don't wanted to be weighed down with a bunch of water. Plus sitting around in a wet coat feels very much to the cat like it would feel to you if you were sitting around in water logged cloths that you couldn't take off.

Not at all pleasant.

The nurture part comes in when a cat's first impression of water is a negative one. If they are given a flea bath, are caught in a downpour or if sprayed water is used as a punishment measure in your home, then your cat will have an aversion response toward water.

My @Diamond Emerald-Eyes, for example, was living as a feral cat during Hurricane Charlie in 2003, and she's terrified beyond belief of water. And I don't blame her. That was a very wet, miserable summer to have to live through outside in the wild.

But not all cats hate water. There is a whole breed of cats - the Turkish Vans - known as the swimming cats that just adore water. This is a natural breed of domestic cat (as opposed to man-made breed) that developed along the Van Lake in Turkey. The cats would swim out to meet the returning fishing fleet, thereby granting those who braved the water the largest portion of food. Eventually evolution helped them with changes to their coats, which helps them shed water for effectively.

Most cats are in fact, fascinated by water. The noise it makes and the way the light plays off the surface triggers their hunting responses. And cats can swim as well as any dogs. Just remember that if you do happen to lure your cat into the swimming pool to enjoy a pool party, that they need a secure sunny spot to lay down, dry off in and groom themselves to perfection afterwards.

Thanks for reading and have yourselves a wonderful #caturday!