Looking ahead to the upcoming kitten season, it’s important to take action to help stray and feral cats. Taking steps to contain a nomadic cat may help reunite a lost cat with his family, alert a cat’s owner that didn’t know the animal’s roaming tendencies, or prevent a stray from birthing kittens in a backyard.

Besides worms and fleas, the urban drifter faces many hazards outdoors. When people see an injured homeless cat, it is important to call a cat rescue for help. Common injuries for an outdoor cat’s lifestyle include, being hit by traffic or mauled by dogs after tight-roping a neighbor’s fence.

Without receiving veterinary treatment after an incident, injuries could escalate and lead to an untimely death. Medical care costs can detour most any ?rescue hearted person? or an animal charity’s budget without the pubic pledging to replenishing their donations.

At the Community Animal Network (Newport Beach, California), I witnessed far too many injured outdoor cats. Their x-ray images, riddled with BB pellets, indicate that many cats are living with metal objects encapsulated under their skin after being shot. Decades of calls received by the rescue, prove that outdoor cats have been deemed a nuisance. Many cats have been deliberately poisoned with anti-freeze, which is a particularly cruel death.

If you can help a cat, your neighborhood could avoid the many pitfalls some housing communities face. To stop your area from becoming a birthing ground for feral cats, those untouched by loving human hands, animal lovers must act. Sadly, feral adult cats have little chance of finding rescue, and death often awaits them at municipal shelters across America.

The following are good reasons to help a stray cat:

1) A single, unaltered stray cat bears an average of five kittens in a litter and females can have three pregnancies a year.

At four months of age, a teenage male is capable of impregnating females in heat- even his siblings or mother. Females are fertile at five months old and have a gestation period of only 65 days.

2) When tenants move from apartment communities and leave unaltered cats, there can be sleepless nights ahead for the remaining tenants. Cats in heat are noisy and howl to attract males. In the still of the night screeching of dominant males can be heard as they fight over females ?in season?.

3) Cats communicate by spraying; fences, parked cars, and even some indoor areas to mark territory and communicate with females their availability. Some cat haters poison and use inhumane tactics to irradiate the problem.

4) Property values drop in areas that reveal high volumes of stray and feral cats! Rising populations of feral cats and kittens, coupled with the smell of cat spray, drives housing prices down and can cause tenants to move.

5) As the population of birthing females rises, rescue organizations? funds become depleted more quickly. Financial restraints are not the only limitation for a rescue, as volunteers are always in short supply.

TNR is a term that rescue groups use for humanely handling an escalating cat overpopulation problem. The term means, “Trap, Neuter and Return” not “Trap, Neuter and Remove”, which is what is often expected.

According to statistics, eighty percent of all cats entering the U.S. shelter system are feral. California animal control and shelters spend fifty million dollars a year handling cat related expenses. There are just three outcomes for a cat entering a municipal shelter; be reunited with its owner, adopted, or euthanized.

Getting involved with homeless cats in your community will help manage populations and prevent unnecessary deaths. TNR is known to humanely control the birthing of feral cats in apartment communities, industrial areas, and in neighborhoods before it becomes unmanageable and is highly recommended by cat rescue organizations as the best solution.

There is often a need for a safe relocation of feral cats, although there are not always options of anywhere to move them. Trapping and releasing cats other than in familiar territory is not humane or advisable, and may not be legal without preparation of managed feeding stations.

Properly relocating stray and feral cats requires purchasing property and coordinating people that will care and feed the animals at a greater cost than many local rescues can provide.

In California, The Cat House on The Kings is well recognized for accepting feral cats and charges a relinquishing fee of $5,000 per animal. Helping just one stray cat saves many lives before there is a rising cat population in your area.

Appeared in poundwishes.com Holiday 2017 Issue


The tradition of New Year’s Resolutions goes back through history in both the western and eastern hemisphere and is found in religious origins dating back to the time of the Babylonians vowing to change to please their Gods. I believe making New Year’s resolutions is a great tradition! The New Year is a good time to wipe the slate clean and encourage ourselves to be better and to explore new ways to do things.

Did you know that people having the greatest success with resolutions are those that make them? Everyone is filled with such extraordinary potential and yet most of us just need a little push from time to time; using a deadline, encouragement from a coach, the discipline learned from a parent, or a brisk encounter from the boss to motivate an action.

Over the last twenty years living with hundreds and hundreds of rescued cats, I have needed to find solutions for many problem behaviors. I have learned what makes cats happy and healthy, and learned to make choices that have allowed for Community Animal Network’s donor dollars to be used more efficiently.

Allow me to share with you cat lovers some ideas that can make your cat happy, healthy, and save you money throughout this New Year, too.

Individual Kitty Plates for Canned Food

If you have a multi-cat household and feed canned food in addition to dry kibble on one plate to share, individual pet dishes could be a welcomed change for your kitty family members. I shop at thrift stores for ceramic saucers missing their coffee cup mates. I believe each kitty should have their own individual plate for a canned food meal.

Feeding canned food on individual plates can help calm “frantic” eaters that may tend to over eat in the presence of other kitties. A kitty having its own plate need not worry there won’t be enough of the good stuff!

It is possible that a kitty that eats too fast and throws up may just need to “de-stress” the eating experience. Feeding a seemingly always hungry cat away from others may encourage a slower pace of eating, or another idea is to offer more frequent smaller meals.

If your kitty still exhibits “frantic” eating habits after changing feeding protocols to feed canned food on separate plates and destressing the eating experience by feeding the cat separately. Your cat may need to be seen by a veterinarian for a blood test and to rule out symptoms of disease.

Food and Grumpy Cats

I have consulted with the pet-parents of many “grumpy” kitties living in multi-cat households that have reacted negatively to other kitty family members and just don’t seem to mingle happily.

One consideration is that the current diet isn’t providing enough protein; similar to humans “snapping” at a friend or a loved one when we haven’t had enough sleep, or a meal.

Because cats are known predators and meat eaters, increasing the protein in the diet may help a cat feel more satisfied from its meal. I suggest you compare your kibble brands protein level with other brands and consider changing to the brand that has the higher protein. However, feeding canned food to a “grumpy” cat sometimes can be the solution for a cat feeling satisfied.

Dry Kibble Diet

While kibble is convenient, economical, and may meet the nutritional needs of our pets, most are higher in grain carbohydrates. If kibble is not proportioned a cat can gain weight and be at risk for diabetes.

To learn about better cat nutrition, I recommend that you take a tour of the products at a specialty pet food store in person, or on-line. If then, you consider changing brands, mix the old with the new food and slowly increase the percentage of the new product over several weeks to avoid upsetting a kitty tummy. In general, grocery store brands have less protein than premium and specialty brand foods and therefore changing the protein level and the brand abruptly can cause diarrhea, and or vomiting that could lead to an unnecessary vet visit.

Canned Food Diet

A well-balanced diet for a healthy cat of protein & fat is found in a meat based diet which is recommended by most experts on cat nutrition. On paper, dry kibble can offer healthy percentages of what a cat needs, but in general offers more carbs.

In my opinion, fat cats that have no medical basis for being obese should not eat dry kibble and be allowed to graze. I prefer to feed what I jokingly call the “Catkins” diet, in other words, canned food only.

Finding a canned food meal these days without a mixture of several meats that also include seafood is disappointing to me. The pet-parenting classes I teach have become more complicated since corporations have purchased up almost all of the companies that I used to recommend.

It had been common for me to share in my feline pet-parenting classes that when buying canned food to stick to purchasing cat food specific to the bird family, (chicken, turkey and duck), and avoid buying seafood flavors. Everyone always wanted to know why I suggested not buying cat food with fish? This is why; the term referring to fish in cat food by nutritional experts is “dead protein”. Adding fish to any cat food makes pet food more profitable for the companies that manufacture the foods. The parts of the fish used in pet food you may not recognize as the quality you would choose to pay the price for.

Older cats and those with age related diseases such as kidney disease have an inability to digest fat and protein, thus may need a diet recommended by a veterinarian.

Make a Vet Appointment with a Feline Specialist

Community Animal Network rescue cats have been seeing a board certified feline specialist since 2001. I highly recommend you experience a feline only practice this year and I believe you will discover they have a better knowledge of handling cats and enhanced diagnostic abilities.

Feline specialty vet hospitals are popping up all over the United States. To find a board certified feline practitioner in your area log on to www.catvets.com.

Odor Repellent Cat Litter

There are many choices of cat litters today. Some types of cat litter can be costly, dusty, track a mess, or just make the whole house smell!

Some cat-people seek to find an effective odor repellent brand simply because they don’t have time to keep up with scooping the waste. What the television commercials don’t tell you about buying pungent smelling cat litter that covers odor is that many cats will avoid strong scents and will eliminate far away from their box.

If you are spending a lot of your waking hours commuting to work, what could be your answer is to have several litter boxes for your cat to choose from.
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Litterbox Etiquette – Ideas to Help You Keep a Clean Litter Box

No person would want to use a bathroom where the plumbing was backed up! I could describe it in cinematic detail, but I believe you readers get the picture.

If a box is deemed to be disgusting by a fastidious feline some cats will potty elsewhere and it can be very difficult to stop them once it begins. To help avoid inappropriate elimination, never change litter brands abruptly and always keep the litter box clean. Here’s how…

There are both, “Yeahs And Ney’s” on a product called “LitterMaid”; a self-cleaning litter box available at stores everywhere. However, it isn’t the product of choice for those that have a cat with soft stools I’m told by those that gifted LitterMaid’s to Community Animal Network.

For those in need of an extra set of hands with the unpleasantries of the litterbox, help is just a click away with Nextdoor. It’s a great way to connect with those in your neighborhood who are looking for odd jobs. The site was founded in 2011 and promotes itself as a free private social network. You can connect with the neighbors in your immediate area, register in your community, and post an ad.

The Rise of Natural Cat Litters

All-natural cat litters over the years have been gaining momentum in the marketplace. Cat litters are more eco-friendly and bio-degradable than ever when made from corn, wheat, grass, walnut shells, and pine. Corn clumps naturally from the starches, wheat clumps mildly with its’ enzymes and better with the help from some potato starch. Natural kitty litters are also safe for use with baby kittens.

Isn’t it surprising the costs of some of the natural clumping cat litters? What is a cat lover, or an animal organization to do?

Why Choose a Top Premium Brand Litter When There’s a Better Choice

“World’s Best Cat Litter” in my opinion is named appropriately, but, is “World’s Best Cat Litter” worth its premium cost? The brand is biodegradable and clumps on contact with urine and the box is easier to clean than with manufactured litters that are sold with a clumping additive. Although, what is “Worlds’ Best Cat Litter”? It is in fact ground corn and it is also used and sold as chicken food!

Wouldn’t you want to know why ground corn sold as a cat litter is so costly? Hmm…ground corn found at a feed store isn’t expensive at all! In my pet-parenting classes for felines I recommend ground corn “known to be chicken food” to be used as cat litter! The industry term for the product is called, “Lay Crumble”. It is sold in 25 and 50lb bags. Fifty pounds of the stuff is just $22.99 in my coastal California town and it may be much less in inland rural areas!

The visible difference is that the brand is finer and the corn product looks more like the brand of cereal Grapenuts. Both can be flushed or composted. The only drawback I see to the corn product “Lay Crumble” is if not stored properly in a cool place, rising temperatures could cause grain weevils to appear.

Just like kitchen grain products, if products for baking are not stored properly over time bugs will appear. Many of you may wish you never knew this, but, larvae lay inside grain kernels and feed. The brand must use a process to kill the weevil larvae; freezing or a microwave would do the trick. But, proper storage in an air tight container in a cool room will also work.

To avoid weevils birthing in the feed store product known as “Lay Crumble”, I suggest bringing the natural food product indoors and pouring the whole bag in a large container with an air tight lid. In my bedroom I hide fifty pounds inside a white tub that fits inside a huge basket and on top I place a comfy pet bed.

Buying the product rather than the brand will give you the qualities of a premium brand at the cost of an economy litter.

Economy Cat Litters

Clay litters have been cat approved since 1948 and are the cheapest and available even at grocery stores. The problem is they smell!

In my opinion, pine pellet cat litter is the most cost effective. It controls odors well, it’s affordable, and needs less scooping than a clumping litter, and is pretty much dust free of all the biodegradable chemical free litters. I highly recommend it to rescue people who cage cats upon arrival.

Rescue people with lots of free-roaming cats that use pine pellet litter have been known to use food service gloves and a bucket to hand-pick the feces from the box and toss the buckets remains in the toilet. All that is left is the urine soaked sawdust to dump in the trash another time.

With some people more sensitive to the smell of the used pine’s sawdust, I recommend in Community Animal Network’s multi-cat rescue houses to use a six inch kitchen frying tool called a skimmer. It works well to sift to separate the unused pine pellets from the urine soaked sawdust to toss out to keep a home from selling like a cattery.

Now, some cats can resist the strange feel of the pine pellets on their pads in the beginning. People choosing a pine litter should slowly transition the animal over to use it exclusively by placing a few cups of the dirty used cat litter with the animals’ scent on top of the pellets and gradually increase the pine pellets. Another idea is to have two litterboxes next to each other and give cats a choice.

Roomy Jumbo Litter Boxes Needed

Did you know that every kitty has a little different posture in a litter box? Some cats prefer to have their front paws on the edge and rear down and some kitties get creative in a small box and straddle the box with their front paws outside. Oppositely, some bottoms just go right to the edge and the urine can splash over the side!

To accommodate all sizes of cats and their comfort keep an eye out for large roomy litter boxes. What I see in common with cats that inappropriately eliminate in a home is that the box is too small and not scooped regularly. So, why not search for a roomy new kitty box this year? But, don’t forget to scoop!

Don’t have a place for a large box you say? Consider angling a piece of furniture in a corner and hiding the litterbox behind, under a side table, or purchase a pretty room divider and hide the visually ghastly thing.

Protecting Your Pet

Last but not least, microchipping is a simple and permanent identification system. A microchip is the size of a tiny pencil lead and is implanted under the skin between the shoulders of an animal. If your cat ever goes missing and is taken to an animal shelter, is found injured or sick by a Good Samaritan and is admitted to a vet hospital, or rescued off the street, a scan for a microchip can help your pet find its way back home to you!

To prove the point, just recently a kitty adopted from Community Animal Network in 2005 was found after having been missing for three years. It found its way back to us when the owners’ phone numbers were found to be disconnected. A life was saved by this life-saving implant!

According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy, less than 2% of the cats gone missing are returned to their owners as compared to 15- 20 percent of dogs because they lack identification.

Microchipping is for both dogs and cats and even for “indoor only” cats, too! Why not make an appointment today with a veterinarian to get all of your pet family member’s microchipped, because life is full of uncertainties!

But, don’t just walk out of the vets office with all the microchip papers and file them away, there’s one more step that too many people forget…. There’s a fee to register your contact information with the chip’s national recovery database. Make sure you remember to keep the chip numbers with your veterinarians’ records and keep the registry contact information current.

In Closing..

Coming home to a pet is like having an unopened gift so don’t forget to take the time to pet and play with your kitty!

I wish you a very Happy “Mew” Year!

Appeared in poundwishes.com Holiday 2016 Issue


Cats have often been the pet of choice for many people who are called away on business with short notice and those that want the freedom for short weekend travel. The key is to prepare in advance and always look for new ways to keep your cats “staycation” fun with things that bring out a cats natural curiosity.

There will always be differences of opinion on the subject of leaving cats home alone and for how long it is acceptable. Since knowing so many worst case scenarios, I have become an expert on the tragedies that can occur. I’ve become a little bit like an ambulance driver through experience with people seeking funds for the sometimes avoidable incidents that have occurred while people are away. But, I’d like to help you create an environment that will provide safety and can stimulate your cat’s inquisitive senses; with just an added precaution to leave your pets’ veterinarians’ number.

To depart on your next trip with confidence, allow me to share some of my knowledge of the hazards and tips that are things that I believe every pet-parent should remember and know before leaving their cat(s) home alone.

Because routine provides continuity and a feeling of security for most all beings, ask a neighbor if they would look in on your cat and offer a canned food breakfast and dinner meal that brings the pleasure of that, “Oh, so familiar sound” of a popping can of cat food.

While you are gone, automatic lights can mimic the ambiance of a lived in home and make your home less appealing to burglars. In addition, leaving soft or classical music on for your cat can cut the sound of silence. Or, why not investigate the latest research in “cat targeted music”.

If there’s still time for a holiday surprise, why not buy a new cat tree or incorporate the installation for some added enjoyment with cat climbing shelves. This is one element of interior design for pets that will make all cats happy for their “staycation”.

Use the following tips to make your cats happy when leaving your feline companion(s).


A bird feeder hanging outside a window is an inexpensive way to provide great kitty T.V!

Wadded-up paper balls, rubber balls and any balls without bells or small objects inside.

When you’re away some cats can become terribly destructive without more action to fill their day. Petmate’s cat circle is definitely a boredom-buster and a great interactive toy! It’s simply a ball that will never become lost enclosed in a plastic circle. I recommend this product in all my feline pet-parenting classes.

Cardboard cat scratchers that come with catnip to rub in the grooves for just $6.99 are the best value and are available at Trader Joes in many states across the U.S.. When one side of the scratcher is destroyed it can be pried up and flipped to get more use.

The more boxes the merrier! Cats love to claim ownership of boxes and rub their scent glands in their cheeks against them. Make boxes even that much more enticing by placing a small amount of catnip inside the cardboard boxes that your cat(s) can roll in.

Surprise your cat(s) with some furry toy mice inside some cardboard boxes. But, please don’t forget to remove the eyes and any feathers as they pose a health risk, too! Your cat(s) can find hours of long-lasting play inside and outside the box.

Sheets of tissue paper placed on the floor make for great play for cats like summer fun on a Slip ‘N Slide toy.
Crumpled Up Paper – Kitties just love office work!
Paper Towel Cardboard Inserts – Even kitchen supplies can be fun!
Toilet Paper is no surprise to most cat owners that try to discourage their cat from make a tremendous mess unrolling the T.P. most of the time. “Oh, what fun!” “But, why not… it’s Christmas time!”


Just to be safe leave a bowl of water in the bathtub with a very “infrequent” drip.

The dangers are if the batteries run out! So, please have someone look in on your pet.

Why not look into buying a Catit puzzle feeder toy and a Food Tree by Catit found on Amazon or Chewy.com

Keep the seat down and leave untreated water in the toilet. The disinfecting toilet solutions are deadly poison.

Tempting and deadly are the cords. Adult cats and especially kittens could get caught and if not hanging themselves have a frightening experience becoming tangled.

Of course most cat owners know that paper bags make fun places to hide. But, the dangers some people don’t know is if the paper handles aren’t cut off.
Many cat lovers have discovered this terrifying cat experience themselves after a curious cat gets its head stuck and runs the house with groceries exploding from the sack as it slams into furniture.
Fun Tip: After trimming brown bag handles, they can be tied together to make a great paper toy that adds hours of fun to a tile or linoleum floor.

Plastic bags whether with handles or not are never a good idea to have within reach of a cat to crawl in as they could suffocate.

Wand toys with feather teasers are in all the stores, but, quite frankly pose a risk and can’t expect a cat to ignore. Put your pets feather wand toys away because unsupervised play poses a choking risk.

String or yarn is the most commonly known choking and intestinal blockage risk for a cat. But, has anyone considered how dangerous dental floss is?

Chewing on an electric cord could cause any pet serious injury or electrocution. Cord covering products like Chewsafe and CritterCords cover lamp cords, computer cord covers are sold on Amazon.com and ready for you to investigate.

Lastly, when you arrive home make time for a scheduled bout of playtime with your kitty cat(s)!

Appeared in poundwishes.com Holiday 2016 Issue


Our beloved pets are more likely to visit an emergency center over the holiday season than any other time of the year. There’s just a fascination and an irresistible urge for pets to amuse themselves with the many seasonal objects that can mesmerize, cause blockages and even poison our cherished cats and dogs.

If tradition insists on a holiday with all the trimmings, becoming knowledgeable of toxic foods, plants, and pet-proofing your holiday decorating can help to eliminate costly veterinary visits and save your animal from deadly play, or lethal ingestion.

Trouble Under the Tree

Dogs may be tempted to drink from the bacteria laden water beneath the Christmas tree causing squirty-poops and nausea. However, if an additive, bleach or alcohol were added to keep the tree green then a quick lap could prove deadly!

The Risk of Timeless Trimmings

Be cautious and aware that artificial Christmas trees become increasingly flammable with age and spew toxic carcinogenic dust tainted with lead that is harmful to people and animals to breathe. So, why not consider restricting the pets’ entry using a pet gate, or maybe just close a door.

Scaling New Heights

Most kitty family members will yearn to climb any tower and “oh how enticing” is a twinkling tree. So, may I suggest securing the tree base with plywood, duct-taping the electric cords and hide the bulk with a festive tree-skirt.

Tempting Treats

For your pet’s added protection hang the mistletoe high, eliminate lilies from the shopping list and use Poinsettias only to decorate outside the front door. And, please don’t be tempted to pour gravy on your pet’s kibble, let it lick the eggnog, or give any champagne, too. Skip gifting the deadly chocolates a pet could find wrapped under the tree and remember to remove the red berries from Holly that is toxic to both humans and pets.

Festive and Safe For the Whole Family

As always, I’ll skip attracting a cat’s playful eye to a tree dangling with teasers, like tinsel, by lavishly decorating the mirror over the fireplace with garland and bows. This will become the focal point of my pet-safe holiday home. The flickering of artificial candles only adds to my safe ambient home.

So, please excuse me for sounding a little bit like Scrooge, but may I suggest you have the national Pet Poison Hotline number handy, (855-764-7661), and know the veterinary emergency center near you.

Wishing You And Your Pets A Healthy Happy Holiday!

Appeared in poundwishes.com Holiday 2016 Issue