Pets and Your Health

42089792 - woman with her dog tender scene

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I don’t know how I would get through difficult days without my three wonderful cats. Tenshi, Shima, and Kazu are so special to me that I always look forward to coming home and seeing their sweet faces. Those of you who have pets to whom you are closely bonded know how comforting it is to come home to them. Animals are capable of deep, unconditional love which is unparalleled. A pet won’t care that you look all disheveled from battling a grueling day. If you are distraught, a pet will make you smile and perhaps even laugh with cute and silly antics. Pets are natural antidepressants, and create the perfect distraction when you are tempted to feel sorry for yourself or ruminate over something which is only causing you anguish.

Pets are wonderful for our well-being and spiritual health.

It turns out that owning a pet also confers physical health benefits as well. Pet owners enjoy a reduction in stress and anxiety, which has a positive impact on blood pressure. Another very striking and unexpected benefit to having pets is a decrease in a child’s chances of developing allergies to animals. The decreased chance of developing allergies to animals in small children who live with animals is as high as 30 percent, according to research conducted by pediatrician James E. Gern which was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Gern conducted a number of studies on children exposed to pets, all of which concluded that children who were exposed at an early age to animals tended to develop stronger immune systems overall, and were far less likely to develop pet-related allergies.

When I think of friends who have allergies to cats or dogs, most of them did not grow up with a pet in the house. I also did not grow up with a family pet per se, unless you count the two rabbits I had in fourth grade for about six months. My mother was so fed up with them that she sold them to a pet store, and that was that. But I spent extended periods of time petting and hanging out with numerous outdoor cats in the neighborhood, enough so that I had a regular exposure to them. I also spent weekends with my dad’s dog, or with his friends’ dogs, so the exposure was steady.

I honestly believe that early and regular exposure to pets is a boon to immune health in young children. And since there is a large body of scientific evidence to back that up, why not get a family pet for your children to love?

SureFlap Microchip Pet Feeders

http://www.sureflap.com

For the past two years, I have tried just about every tactic to train my obese European Burmese cat Kazu to eat a special diet. We put her on scheduled feedings, only giving her wet food, and tried to ban her from the dry kibble which we needed to leave out for the other two cats (both of whom are normal weight). Kazu continued to sneak dry kibble throughout each day, despite being scolded for doing so.

After all my unsuccessful efforts to get Kazu on a unique feeding schedule, I was at my wit’s end. Then a couple of people suggested that I purchase a microchip pet feeder. I looked up microchip feeders online and discovered SureFlap Microchip Pet Feeders. I almost keeled over when I saw the price of these units: $149. What’s worse is that I knew I had to purchase TWO of these feeders, since Kazu would have to be trained on one feeder, while Tenshi and Shima would be trained on the other.

I saved up so that I could buy two feeders. $365 later (I had to purchase C batteries, as well as extra RFID tags since only one tag comes with each feeder, and we have three cats), I was ready to give them a try.

The training period consists of five stages, in which the door progresses from remaining completely open (stage 1), closes a small amount (stage 2), then closes incrementally more until stage 5 when the door closes completely, only opening for the pet who is programmed to the feeder. The idea with the incremental training is that the pets will eventually understand that the closed door will open when they approach the feeder to which they are programmed.

Without going into agonizing detail, I will say that it took a good six weeks before my cats finally understood how the feeders worked. They were so afraid of the devices at first that I honestly began to doubt whether the system would work for my household. As soon as the door would move back or forward, my cats would just freak out, so we were at training level 2 (the door only moves a small amount and the chamber is very accessible) for close to 3 weeks.

I’m not sure how I feel about these things. While they are well constructed and work well, they are inaccessible to people who can’t afford the units. In addition, our household STILL hasn’t progressed beyond the training setting, because when the doors are completely closed (as they are in regular post-training mode), my cats don’t consistently understand that all they have to do is approach the feeders for the doors to open.

What this basically means is that I must have dry kibble available to all three cats in both feeders, which completely defeats the purpose of buying these devices in the first place. I purchased these feeders THREE MONTHS AGO. In addition, all three cats race into the kitchen when I enter it, and beg for wet food like starving street urchins. I relent, because I want to make sure my babies are fed.

Kazu just keeps getting fatter, while my wallet is definitely slimmer from purchasing the devices which mainly serve to startle and confuse my entire brood.

My Blue Burmese LOVES Hugs And Kisses

I never realized how few people have bonding experiences with cuddly cats. I also guess I am lucky to have had several of the most affectionate cats. My blue Burmese absolutely loves to be hugged, and he adores kisses. It is rather common for me to pepper his cute little forehead with a barrage of kisses, which I know most cats would never tolerate.

Tenshi has gotten to the point that he expects and demands hugs and kisses from his humans. If I don’t hug and kiss him hello, he gets grumpy! Check out my video of him getting kisses.

So Many Flavors For My Cat To Refuse

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Cats are known for being finicky, and this is certainly the case for both of my female cats, Shima and Kazu. Their constant fussiness is balanced out by my boy, Tenshi, who is one of the most food-motivated cats I have ever known. Tenshi will eat just about anything he can get a hold of, including asparagus, avocado, broccoli, bananas and blueberries.

Over the past month I have been trying to get Kazu to eat moist food and to avoid dry kibble, because she is about 30% over her ideal weight. It has been nothing short of exhausting, trying to figure out what she likes to eat. I have gone to the pet store twice, and have selected a bunch of different varieties and brands of food, though I have focused my purchases on the Tiki Cat brand of moist cat food because it is human-grade, the closest to human table scraps, and highly recommended by her vet.

I have purchased about eight different varieties of Tiki Cat, most of which were tuna varieties with other goodies mixed in, and also purchased B.F.F., Innova Evo, Wellness, and Evanger’s. I also purchased tuna and sardines from the grocery store. Here is the status of my experimentation with different types of food:

B.F.F. – Kazu really loved this food, probably because it was a tuna variety. She ate it pretty readily.

Innova Evo – Kazu completely ignored this stuff.

Wellness – Kazu did not like the varieties we tried (tuna chunks and turkey chunks). All she did was give the broth a couple of licks, then completely refused to have anything to do with the food.

Evanger’s – Kazu didn’t even give this food a second’s worth of interest. To be honest, when I opened the can and got a whiff of the food, I was pretty grossed out myself. As a matter of fact, I have noticed that if I find a food off-putting, Kazu will not like it either.

Tiki Cat – Kazu has liked all the tuna varieties, but she was rather indifferent when I offered her the sardine variety. I will say that I am VERY impressed by the consistency and smell of this brand of food. It is appetizing, without any strange odors. With the chicken varieties, you can see actual flakes of shredded chicken. The meats which are used in the Tiki foods are high quality and unprocessed. This has been the winning brand for Kazu, and though I want to try a couple more brands on her, this may be the standard which she will eat on a daily basis. Some varieties of Tiki Cat are priced at close to $2 for a THREE ounce can, so this stuff isn’t cheap!