Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Catnip Garden for Outdoor Cats



Many feral, neighborhood and stray cats are attracted to my yard due to the catnip garden.  We encourage the cats to come to our yard for safety and for shelter. The cats will spend the entire day in the garden and this is an effective way to keep them off the neighborhood streets.

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a plant that cats are attracted to.  When the cat rubs on the plant it will emit a fragrance.  This fragrance will trigger specific cat behaviors; rolling, pawing, licking chewing on the plant, they may also rub the side of their head or their chin on the plant.  

Cats that do not get along will become friendly with other cats provided they are able to pleasure themselves with catnip. 

Here are a few photos of Tuxedo cat and catnip. 
The catnip in this particular garden is grown with Black-eyed Susan flowers:







The catnip that grows in my yard was planted from seed.  You do not need special soil as it is not fussy except that the soil should be well drained.   Many people report that the catnip reseeds itself and that it can take over the garden.  I don’t have this problem due to the cats that frequent my yard. I plant catnip every year.

In late winter I will start seed by growing it indoors six to eight weeks before the last spring frost. I will grow indoors next to a sunny window and will transplant outdoors after the threat of frost has past in spring.  I find that plants with several leaves do better when they are transplanted on a warm day.   

You can also sow the seed into a prepared garden.  Choose a garden area that has full sun.  Cover the seeds with 1/8 inch of soil and water.  Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet.  Mature plants do not require as much water.  I water the plants an inch of water per week.  A deep watering will hydrate the roots and is better than watering catnip a little each day.  

Since cats are in my yard I must protect the seeds and the transplants.  In the spring I will keep the cats away from the catnip garden with chicken wire fencing.  The fence does not come down until the plants are mature.  Mature plants will grow up to three feet tall so choose a catnip garden site that provides the plants with ample room to grow.

For indoor cats you would harvest catnip before the plant flowers bloom.  Remove the leaves from the stem then air dry the leaves. When the leaves are completely dried you would crumble them and then you can store the catnip in an air tight jar. Fill your cats cloth toys with the catnip and you will provide kitty with hours of fun.

You can grow catnip in a container for your indoor cats. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Symptoms and Treatments for Feline Conjunctivitis



Feline Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the inner eyelid.  Squinting, tearing and red eyes are symptoms that occur when the cat’s eye is inflamed. Conjunctivitis is uncomfortable and causes the cat to feel pain. 
Squinting and tearing eyes: Feline Conjunctivits
Squinting and tearing eyes: Feline Conjunctivits

Every cat that I have trapped or rescued has shown symptoms of conjunctivitis when they became stressed due to the trap.   

To care for these cats they were taken to in for wellness exam by a veterinarian. All cats were tested for the feline herpes virus.  This virus is generally the cause for feline conjunctivitis.

The veterinarian will determine the seriousness of the eye inflammation and may treat the cat with antibiotics or antiviral medication.  If this is the case follow the health tips provided by your veterinarian and administer the cat’s medication at the same time daily.
Cats that have mild feline conjunctivitis are treated with oral L-lysine an amino acid.  Sometimes I mix the lysine powder with canned food or I will give the cats a lysine chew on top of their food.  The L-lysine is not a cure however it does effectively control the symptoms.  

Cats that have feline herpes can be adopted and live with other cats provided that the healthy cats have been vaccinated for the prevention of feline herpes, otherwise they will be infected with the virus. 

Feral cats if trapped young enough can be socialized and adopted into a home where they will live indoors for the rest of their lives.  Otherwise the feral cat should be released to a controlled colony where the feeders and caregivers will watch them and supplement their food with oral L-lysine. 

Tips:

  1. Prevent feline conjunctivitis by vaccinating your cat and keep them indoors. 
  2. Provide your cat with a stress free life and this will prevent conjunctivitis symptoms.
  3. Feed the cat a high protein cat food that will boost their immune system. 
  4. It is helpful to supplement diet with antioxidants and cat grasses.   As long as your cat does not feel anxious then the immune system will not be suppressed and the herpes virus will be controlled.