When it comes to a change in seasons, there are always signs that herald the season much more than any date on the calendar. In autumn, we look for falling leaves and that kiss of briskness in the air. In winter, it’s the first hard frost and the quiet sleep that falls over your garden and the critters who live there. You know it’s summer by those first days of low heat that make you feel like you’re being pushed right into the sidewalk, the smell of gardens in full bloom, and the wild abandon of so many birds and wild creatures now in full flourish. But spring is more subtle.
You may’ve heard of “Lykoi” cats or maybe you haven’t. They’re sometimes called ‘wolf’ cats or even ‘werewolf’ kitties and there have been a few articles about them since the breed became recognized a few years ago. To be accurate, they aren’t really a breed, they are cats with a naturally occurring genetic mutation that began appearing in feral cat populations worldwide in the last two decades.
Many people take their car for spring and fall tune-ups, but autumn is also a great time to schedule a check-up for your furry friend, especially if they’re over the age of ten. Most veterinarians recommend annual check-ups for non-senior pets and biannual check-ups for pets considered senior.* (The age that a pet is considered older varies by species and even by breed.) I’ve found that spring and fall are great times to schedule an all around check-ups for senior pets. My “junior” pets have their check-ups each spring so that their shots will be up-to-date before summer travel and to make sure they’re ready for the challenge of summer adventures like hiking and trips to the beach.
“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”– John Steinbeck
A few weeks’ ago I lost my friend of fourteen years, Morwen. I was lucky to have had her in my life for so many years. She beat cancer (twice,) as well as a serious illness in her kittenhood, and, although I would have liked to have had more time with her, she slipped as gracefully from this world as she lived her life the afternoon of Friday, June 1. She had been fading for a few weeks despite four veterinarians and two specialists’ attempts to help her. A few days before she died, a small shadow was found in the bones of her pelvis confirming our fear that cancer had once again returned after a two year remission. We all fell apart, including the veterinary staff, even though we all had known, I think, in our hearts that this was coming and coming quickly.
My kitty took a tumble. It’s certainly not the first time she made a misstep or that she has fallen off the stairs. But a fall for a cat of fifteen is not the same as it is for a cat of five. And although at first Morwen seemed fine and hopped back up immediately and started back up the stairs swatting the offensive kitten who caused her fall, later that night I noticed she was limping on her right hind leg and stopping to rest after a few steps.
Finally, some good news for FIV (the feline immunodeficiency virus) positive kitties and those who love them: Dr. Annette L. Litster of Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine conducted a long-term study which shows that FIV+ cats can live with negative kitties without infecting them and that mothers infected with FIV do not pass their virus on to their kittens.
There’s probably nothing more frightening for a pet owner than hearing that little “humpf” from their veterinarian while they’re listening to their kitty’s heart. But just because your cat has a heart murmur doesn’t mean that something is seriously wrong with your cat. Heart murmurs are common in cats of all ages and something that vets encounter on a weekly, if not daily, basis.