The Sundance Kid
Hello everyone! My name is The Sundance Kid and I am a 4 yo Red Tabby DSH. I used to be a stray or “ferel” but then I found this great house to hang at for most of my time. It was a little bit of a rough start I must admit! I used to just show up here and get some yummy canned food and then go on about my day. Then once, my new person set a trap! I was caught in the trap because I could not resist the Friskies Oceanfish. I was FURIOUS! I then went to this place called The Cat Clinic of Roswell. I was neutered, viral tested and then vaccinated and dewormed. Sounds like a lot and it was a very tough day. Turns out that my new person, sometimes called Daddy and sometimes called Dr. Ray when he is at this Cat Clinic place, works with cats for a living. I stayed there for a week or two to just get used to people, or to “socialize” was the term I heard. They were actually pretty nice to me overall, and had GREAT food that was always free and plentiful. Everyone was very attentive to all my needs and I stayed in the hidebox most of the time.
That was December 2010, and now I can reflect a little more clearly two years later. We might have mild winters here in Georgia, but it is still really cold for a cat. As we enter late Fall and early Winter, I am really glad to have a place to stay where they love me. We have brokered a deal where I get to go outside whenever I want but can always come in and get warm, on my fleece beds I should add! So in retrospect, I have constructed a list of reasons to live with humans. Some of the humans even know how to meow and interpret cat body language. Pick one of those people if at all possible!
Here is my list:
1. Shelter. We all know that our ancestor was a desert cat from Northern Africa. Cats prefer temperatures between 86-100, so these North American winters are completely unacceptable without a human in your life.
2. The food! I never have to work for a meal anymore… I am fed canned food 2-3 times daily and more on the weekends. I also have this dry crunchy food always available. It is unlike anything I ever found on my own but pretty darn tasty I must admit. I still do eat chipmunks and birds because that’s how I roll!
3. Vaccinations. When I was at The Cat Clinic of Roswell, I was given a Rabies vaccine. Rabies is a very serious disease that we can catch from another animal (raccoons, skunks and bats are to be avoided if possible). You may also want to be careful with cats that refuse to live with people, as they might not be vaccinated. There is no treatment if you catch Rabies, SCARRY STUFF! I also had a vaccine called FVRCP or a respiratory 3 in 1, which protects me against the Rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus) Calici virus, and against Panleukopenia, a Parvo virus. Herpes and Calici are respiratory viruses and Panleukopenia can adversely affect many body systems, our blood cells, GI tract and even our neurologic system. After I was tested negative, I also got a Feline Leukemia vaccine. This is a cat only virus that we outdoor access guys are at risk of contracting through contact with other cats. If we all get tested and vaccinated, we can reduce the incidence of this nasty viral disease. Check out kittytest.com to see the viral and heartworm disease prevalence in your area!
4. Parasitic treatment and prevention. Before I lived with my family, I had this really gross thing happening called tapeworm infestation! I was just grooming and ate a flea, and the flea gave me a parasite! The darn things came out of my bottom moving! Once my Dad found out, he treated me topically with Profender and the tapeworms were gone! I was so thankful. He also gives me this great product called Advantage Multi every month at home. It is user friendly with only one application monthly and I am protected against fleas, intestinal parasites and the dreaded heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is transmitted by the mosquito and very common in the southeast, where we live. Check out knowheartworms.org for feline only information on this preventable disease.
5. Viral testing. I briefly mention this with my vaccination statement but knowing your viral status is crucial, especially with outdoor access. All cats should be tested for Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Hopefully you are negative, because these are serious viruses that can cause significant problems. Because they are viruses, they can also make an entire population sick! We have to get more of us tested to minimize these disease. There is a vaccine for FIV but most clinics do not recommend it because it will make you test positive. If you have time, get you people to check out catvets.com and review viral testing and vaccination guidelines. I also found out that my dad, Dr. Ray, is actually on the American Association of Feline Practitioners Guidelines committee! He can now influence care for cats all over our country!
6. Neutering (and they call it a Spay for all the beautiful queens out there). Now I have flipped sides on this issue. When I first heard of neutering (actually called a castration for us toms), it sounded like a horrible idea! But I have since noticed that I rome less, fight less and am generally more content with my new pet life. I used to go crazy when the queens went in heat and I was all over the neighborhood. Of course other toms were there too, and bad things happened. I was also made aware of an urban phenomenon called “pet overpopulation”. Apparently, many cats are not spayed and neutered, and we breed like wildfire when left to our own devices. It results in too many cats for too little homes. The facts are scary! Many cats are euthanized every year because the shelters cannot keep up with the numbers. You may need to look up euthanasia, but it is bad…
7. Companionship. At first, I did not let my people pet me. I had always been taught to avoid people by my mother. But over time, I realized that they always fed me, did not challenge me to accept them before I was ready, and always talked nicely to me. I even got this great name from my dad. He recommends that all new cat owners read TS Eliot poem, “The Naming of Cats” before they embark on this very important task. Once you have people on your side, you realize that life can be pretty easy. Plus, you can get them trained in no time! My people know when to feed me and appreciate my meow reminders when they are running behind. They always keep my indoor facilities (a litterbox) clean, and I continually sleep on comfy couches, chairs and even fleece blankets! Once you give in, the petting is kinda cool too. I especially like when they rub my head and will even occasionally let them rub my belly!
8. Dental Care. Many of you would not like to admit it, but all of us need this maintenance. Any many of us have dental disease that needs to be addressed. Bad Breath means you have an infection! Now that I am 4, I will likely get a Professional Dental Cleaning this year. Most cats will need their first dental cleaning by the age of 3-5, so I’m ready. I will need to be anesthetized, like when I was neutered, and will get a dental cleaning just like the people experience at their dentist. After the cleaning, my teeth will be assessed for disease. The two most common problems in cats are resorptive lesions and classic periodontal disease. The primary factor here is genetics but your level of preventative care is crucial. Dental problems are painful and can also lead to disease in other areas of the body.
9. Geriatric Care. Even though this does not apply to me right now, my dad is always working with these older cats. He really tries to make their current life a lot more like when they were young. Older cats seem lame to me but my dad loves them, and loves helping them live better lives. Upstairs, he has two grouchy old ladies that are 18 and 19, you believe that?? Everytime those chicks see me outside a window they hiss and behave poorly. They would never let me come in the main house! But they have to go to the Cat Clinic a lot more often than I do! They get biannual exams and frequent lab samples to stay on top of their health. Good to know that as I age, dad will look after me just as closely. And maybe by then, the main house will be mine!
10. Anytime you get sick, you want a person on your side! If you are ill without a person, you just have to walk it off… I know we have 9 lives but we still run into problems sometimes. Even though it is tough to realize at the time, places like the Cat Clinic of Roswell can help you out with various problems. Some things I have heard dad talk about include allergic skin and ears (especially in Georgia), wounds form various sources, painful legs or joints from trauma or even from our genetics, and GI disorders (or nausea, diarrhea) are all very common. If at all possible, go to a Cat only clinic. They seem to know a little more about kittys and definitely have a more pleasant environment to tolerate. Although I live with and dominate 2 dogs, I cannot handle their barking when I am stressed with the vet visit already! Have some respect you drooling monsters! And keep in mind that if we battle pound for pound, the dog is going down!!
But I prefer to avoid conflict for the most part. I like this new life with people and highly recommend it. I hope that helps your debate, especially as we get into wintertime! Do not spend another winter alone. Just show up and meow and rub on things, they will love you once you pick the right house. If they do not think you’re cute right away, MOVE ON! Someone will eventually recognize your royalty and those that don’t, cannot be worked with…..
The Sundance Kid