Facts? About Cats

author Terri Cassiday        Xpressions RagaMuffins

RagaMuffin kittenOver the years I’ve learned a few things about cats and their caretakers. There is much more for the my RagaMuffins to teach me. Luckily, they are patient. Okay, maybe not patient, stuck with me.

Here’s a few of them:

Cats don’t see a glass as half empty or half full…it’s to be emptied! Buy one can of cat food and they will devour it…Buy a case of that same food and they’ll bury it!

What’s mine is theirs…What’s theirs is theirs.

Cats can magically grow extra toes when it’s time to cut their nails.

Brush a RagaMuffin and you’ll have enough fur to make another cat.

It’s impossible to keep your clothes “fur free” in the amount of time it takes from the dryer to the closet. Never wearRagaMuffin kitten pants that are black, navy, brown, white…NEVER wear pants!

No matter how large your house is… they are ALL in the same room with you. Invite a group of people to your home and your cat will choose the person that likes the cat the least to sit on…In my case their head!

There is no such thing as a clean litter box…When you finish cleaning it, they reward you by using it.

It doesn’t matter how often you vacuum, litter will be everywhere…the plus side of this is, if you go barefoot, it’s a great exfoliant. 😳

With cats you will never pick up your feet to walk…cat people have perfected the “slide glide”.

We slump when we walk because we need to look down…Heck! Cat owners had “tech neck” before it was a thing!

It will take an hour to make the bed because of their “help”….minutes before the bed bed is unmade because of their “help”.

Your RagaMuffins will appreciate that cute food mat you had to purchase…it’s fun to drag around with the once full water bowl.

As I said before, I have so much more that I’ve learned and need to learn.

Finally, I’ll leave you with one more lesson:

I’ve learned to live with much less…because they’ve taken so much more!

Rethink Supplements for Breeding Animals

author Sara Thornton DVM       iCandy RagaMuffins

Some people like to feed supplements to their breeding dogs or cats, thinking that it  is more likely to be helpful than harmful. According to Michael Peterson MS DVM, certain supplements can cause problems in both pregnant dogs and cats and should not be used.

One common example is adding calcium to the diet of an expectant mother; doing so  actually decreases fetal size and increases the incidence of problems at birth.

Increased levels of vitamin A contributes to congenital defects.

Calcium metabolism is affected by vitamin D supplementation.

B vitamins are bound when raw egg is fed.

Raspberry leaves increase the incidence of dystocia.

Feeding cottage cheese alters the Ca:P ratio which is problematic for neonates.

The bottom line is to think twice prior to adding supplement to an otherwise balanced diet.

 

The Silent Killer

RagaMuffin kitten

author Laurie Godshall                       High Country Cats

 

It is said that the only flaw in our animal companions is that they don’t live forever. Despite all of our human efforts to keep them with us as long as possible, there are some diseases that will still creep up. Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM, is one of those. This is a heart condition that causes the walls of the heart, specifically the left ventricle, to thicken. It is the most common heart disease seen in cats and also the most difficult to diagnose early, as cats rarely show clinical signs until the condition is in an advanced stage.

 

Though there is ongoing research, there is no known cause for HCM, which makes it difficult to know if we’re preventing it. HCM affects cats around the world and is seen more frequently in male cats than females, both intact or neutered.  Breeds such as Maine Coons, Ragdolls, Persians and Sphynx have shown to have a suspected genetic predisposition to HCM and are therefore more prone to developing it. It is unknown why these breeds are more likely to get HCM than others, but DNA mutations may indicate that a cat has a higher risk of developing it.

 

Most RagaMuffin breeders run a DNA test for the Ragdoll gene mutation on all of our breeding cats. However, echocardiography is the gold standard for diagnosing hypertrophic cardiomyopathy in cats, so most breeders will have this performed on their cats prior to breeding, as well.

 

Annual physical veterinary exams are important, but several studies have shown that few cats with subclinical heart disease exhibit abnormalities during a physical exam. The presence or absence of a heart murmur doesn’t indicate that a cat has or doesn’t have HCM. The presence of a murmur should be followed up with an echocardiogram. If caught in the early stages, it is possible to manage HCM with nutrition and medication.

 

You can help keep your kitties healthy and hopefully decrease the likelihood of disease with nutritional support, supplements such as Omega 3 fatty acids and annual vet visits.

 

Here’s to healthy kitties!

Unusual Use of Parfum

Author Randy Schmidt                  New Walden RagaMuffins

I have to share a true happening. My 2nd Great-Grandmother and my lst Great-Grandmother and my Grandmother all wore a perfume called “English Tweed” which was supported by the Queen of England originally. It was beautiful light fragrance, and I loved it on my Grandmothers as a child, so when I became a young girl, I started wearing it too. I always received multiple compliments from men and women. Well shortly after the time that Westminister Abbey caught fire in England if you remember news several years ago, I began having a hard time ordering my perfume every company I approached was running low on supply, and one after another no longer carried it. What was shipped to the US was package and sold from the Lethargic (sp) company.

I finally talked to a buyer through one of the department stores, and she gave me the story that the Queen had sold out some of the Royalty assets,and it no longer was being sold to the US. Well, I bought all that I could find. Then finally no more, so, I started some research on perfumes and since I am of Scotch, Irish, English, and Native American descent, I thought I should check out these countries fragrances.

As it turns out I came upon a 100% pure Parfum called “Green Irish Tweed. Well why not try it. There were several prices and since I was a little strapped for luxuries at that time. I chose a cheaper Essential Oils Creation that was suppose to expertly mimic the original Irish tweed.

Well all I had to do was open the bottle, and I knew I would never wear it.

Now you are asking, what does cats have to do with this perfume. Bare with me, you shall see. My stud males are housed in the office and library, with 2 double decks doors and a six foot wide window, with birdfeeder sand wildlife feeding stations visible as well as a exercise wheel, and toys. This room is separated from the rest of the great room by French glass doors. We also have cat proof the bookcases by hooking enameld mason board on the lower shelves when not in use and covering office equipment with Rubbermaid bins, so when the males spray the hit these areas and are easily wiped down with bleach.

Well, one day all three had decided to spray up the room, because of a feral cat visitation outdoors. I guess they had a contest as to who could spray the most. To make a long story short. I walked into the office in the morning and had to hold my nose. I had tried different air fresheners, etc., but nothing ever is 100%. So, I washed it all down, and was going by bathroom cabinet when I saw that ungodly bottle of perfume oil. “Hmmm, why not!” So I took this Perfume Oil Blend and put a couple of drops on each Rubbermaid bin,window and door glasses and masonite hangings and desks spots. I could not believe it. Not one of those bins or hangings or anything was sprayed. SO MAMA’S SPRAY WORKED MIRACLES. THE GUYS KNOW THAT THOSE THINGS ARE MAMA’S TERRITORY, AND SO WE NOW LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER, BUT I AM NOT CRUEL THEY HAVE ONE PLACE IN ONE CORNER THAT THEY CAN SPRAY IN CONTEST WITH ONE ANOTHER, THE TOP OF A BIN, AND TRY TO OUTMATCH ONE ANOTHER AND I CLEAN IT EVERY MORNING WITH THEIR LITTER CLEANING. BUT, YES WE LIVE much more HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Ready, Aim, Shoot! Taking Pictures of RagaMuffins, or Attempting to…..

Author Terri Cassiday                     Xpressions RagaMuffins

There is a reason why we pay big bucks to have pictures taken of our RagaMuffin cats. Some things are best left to the professionals. Taking pictures is nothing less than a comedy show. There is hours of preparation for those few short minutes that you can keep the kitties’ attention. Here are a few things that I can share with you.

Take into consideration the background colors that will best compliment your RagaMuffin. Are you trying to accentuate their eye color, coat color, pattern, or your cattery colors. I try to stay away from heavily patterned backgrounds and too many props as to not take away from the subject. Your kitty should be the star.

Take a few pictures of your set up so you can tweak things before introducing your cat. The lighting in your room is also important. A bright room but not direct sun works best for me. Know which teasers and toys are your RagaMuffin kitty’s favorites and have them close at hand. Now that the room is ready, shut the door and concentrate on getting your kitty ready.  Bathe (another blog for a later date), comb and yes, cut their nails. Uncut nails can catch and snag the photo setting taking away valuable time to set it back up. Remember you are dealing with subjects with short attention spans.

One of the most important things I’ve learned is to play with the kitten before you take the pictures and not in the room where the pictures will be taken. This is not as easy as it sounds. Kittens should play long enough to get the majority of their energy released without making them too tired to play for the photos. Finally it’s time to take pictures. With all the hours of preparation spent, you will have only minutes to get that perfect shot. Take your RagaMuffin kitty to the specially prepared room and introduce them to the area in which the photos will be taken. I let them sniff around a bit and then it’s time for the circus to begin. Place…play…shoot…place…play…shoot…place. ..Well you get the idea. Remember to keep it fun and short!

I take still shots and videos. Videos enable you to capture a photo and then isolate it to use separately. Now you get to review your hundreds of photos and pray for a handful worthy to keep. Now that it’s over, its time to cuddle your kitty and fall asleep because both of you need your well deserved cat nap.

My hat goes off to the professionals that make this look so easy. I miss you Chanan Photography and Larry Johnson Photography!

 

And now some photo misses!

6 Great Reasons to Choose a Retired Cat

Ragamuffin cat

Yvonne with retired kitty Tessa

author Lynda Jay                  Gentlepurrs/ Serendippity RagaMuffins

 

Here are six positive reasons to consider choosing that older RagaMuffin over a kitten. Most retired show and/or breeding cats are young adults. They have many years left to be enjoyed with you.

 

Reason #1

Older cats are great for older people. An adult RagaMuffin is a much better match for a retired person. An older cat appreciates the value of companionship and is grateful to be with you and will be very loyal. They appreciate being able to retire and take life easy and being spoiled. There is less risk of an older cat out living his companion and ending up in a shelter.

 

Reason #2

You can not always be sure of a young kitten’s personality. By choosing a retired RagaMuffin, you can choose the personality you want. From a cat that likes to play with you and craves attention to a de-stressing cat that quietly curls up in your lap and purrs. With an adult cat you get no surprises, their personalities are complete.

 

Reason #3

Kitten can be very “chewy”. Like little two legged children, kittens put everything in their mouth. They will chew on electrical cords, computer cables, phone chargers, books, magazines, important papers, plastic bags, etc. Kittens are aways under foot and can cause you to trip. Adult RagaMuffins have given up that foolish behavior in favor of more passive past times, naps.

 

Reason #4

Kittens are high octane! Kittens wake up in the middle of the night and decide to play with your toes or lick your face. Kittens will break things, climb drapes, unroll tissue paper. Once the kitten discovers how to start the unrolling process, he just can’t stop until it’s all unrolled. Retired RagaMuffin cats sleep through the night, choosing beauty sleep over play.

 

Reason #5

Retired cats were chosen for their sweet docile personality and good looks as well as meeting the breed standard. It is true that breeders always keep the best for themselves. These RagaMuffin cats have both looks and personality. Many retired cats were show cats at some time so they are use to being handled by strangers and have travel experience. They will enjoy going on trips with you. A healthy cat can live into their late teens, so you’ll have many happy healthy years together.

 

Reason #6

You’ve heard “curiosity killed the cat”. Inquisitive RagaMuffin kittens are more likely to get into trouble. They will eat things they shouldn’t, fall from high places, and go where they shouldn’t, such as in dryers, drawers, cabinets, etc. Adult cats have been there, done that, and don’t put themselves into dangerous situations.

Health Clearances for RagaMuffins

author Sara Thornton DVM            iCandy RagaMuffins

As a long time breeder of Labrador Retrievers, I have been utilizing health clearances for breeding animals for many years. It is an important part of breeding. To be a conscientious breeder, one must be aware of possible health issues in any breed and work to avoid issues.

The DNA tests available today are wonderful additions to every breeding program. Utilizing these tests to give our RagaMuffins the best chance at a healthy life is imperative. It’s not difficult, not prohibitively expensive and so, so important. The main two DNA tests that should be run on every breeding animal is PKD1 for polycystic kidney disease (primarily from the Persian in the background of muffins) and HCM Ragdoll for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy  ( found in Ragdolls, a cousin to our muffins).

Another test every breeder should run is blood type. While blood type does not affect the long term health of a cat in any way, it can affect the viability of a litter of kittens. Breeding the wrong blood types together will result in the loss of an entire litter unless extreme measures are taken.

Since Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy is caused by a number of different factors, the DNA test is only one way to prevent the disease. Some breeders also choose to have echocardiograms done by a veterinary cardiologist on each of their breeding cats to ensure the parent is clear of HCM. This is something I am doing these days.

An issue that has been noticed more recently is the lack of one uterine horn that may be associated with only one kidney (about 33% of females with one uterine horn have only one kidney). All affected cats have both ovaries.  Affected cats live normal lives, however, it is not ideal for a breeding program. Since the cats appear normal, the affected cats are often discovered at the time of a spay procedure. I am now recommending that at the time of an echocardiogram, cats be checked for two kidneys. This genetic abnormality has been observed mostly in Ragdolls, but also in Persians and random bred cats.

Doing every test possible is not a guarantee of a perfect kitten. What it DOES guarantee is that the breeder has utilized the tools available to produce the healthiest animal possible. Pet buyers should not be afraid to ask about what  testing has been performed and even ask for documentation.

Houdini, the Adored RagaMuffin

author Lisa Rowe                       Heavenly Muffins

RagaMuffin kittenOver the 21+ years of breeding I have had several special needs cats.  One cat that I currently have is Houdini.  Houdini was born in August 2016.  He has a sister Wini that has no issues and went on to have beautiful babies for another breeder.  Houdini was born with a condition called cerebellar hypoplasia.  Some people may refer to this as wobbly cat syndrome.  Cerebellar hypoplasia is a non-life threatening condition that occurs when the cerebellum does not fully develop in kittens while in utero. The cerebellum is the portion of the cat’s brain responsible for fine motor skills and can affect the cat’s ability to walk, jump, run, or accomplish other tasks involving coordination. Cerebellar hypoplasia is generally not a well-known condition and can therefore be mistaken for other diseases by veterinarians who have not previously encountered the condition.   My vet knew about this condition but only from reading about it in vet school many years ago.  He had actually never seen a CH animal in his practice until Houdini.

 

When Houdini was born it was a tough delivery and we had to go to the vet.  The vet knew right away what the issue was or suspected it.  His condition was listed as guarded and he told me that he may not make it if he could not nurse.   Houdini’s sister would not let him nurse and kept stealing his nipple.  Since he had a head tilt and was smaller than his sister he could not nurse on his own.  He started to lose weight.  He also would not take a bottle or syringe.  Since I did not feel comfortable tubing feeding him I did the only thing I could.  I held him up to a nipple every two hours and let him nurse as long as he wanted.  I slept beside him and kept an alarm going so I could get up and let him nurse.  As he got bigger I could go to every 3 hours.  It was a long 4 weeks.  At 4 weeks old I decided to see if he would take KMR mixed with some kitten food.  I had to hold him up to the bowl but he started eating and drinking.  At that time mom stopped letting him nurse and I switched him to KMR and wet kitten food.  During this time he could not sit up without falling over or stand and walk.  I started doing physical therapy with him to help strengthen his back legs.  One thing about this disorder symptoms do not worsen or progress over time, but may diminish as a cat learns to compensate.  So I knew if I could strength his muscles as he grew he had the possibility of being able to walk and do things on his own.  As he grew he got stronger and compensated for his uneven gait.  His sister helped him learn how to walk, run, play and use the litter box.  By 6 weeks he was walking by himself and eating and drinking on his own.  By 8 weeks he was wrestling and playing with his sister and running super-fast.  By 12 weeks he was using the litter box.  He made such great progress when I took him in for his first shots the vet was amazed at how well he was doing.  He continued to improve and do well.  He cannot jump or climb but he walks, plays and still runs super-fast.  He can use the litter box on his own and eat and drink just fine.  He loves to cuddle and if he wants up in bed with me he just meows and I pick him up and cuddle with him.  He was neutered just fine.  Ketamine is a big no to be used for CH kitties because it causes them to have even more balance problems after surgery until it is completely out of the system, so no ketamine was used on Houdini and he seemed like nothing happened.  He will be 4 in August and has gotten so much stronger and better at walking and keeping his balance.  CH kitties really do learn to compensate for any balance issues.  He has two flat scratching posts that he uses all the time, not to mention tons of cat nip toys he loves.  He is one spoiled, happy, healthy kitty.

 

A little more about Cerebellar hypoplasia.  This affects more than just cats.  It can affect dogs and other animals even livestock, any animal that has a cerebellum.  In humans it would be considered cerebral palsy.  Cerebellar hypoplasia is typically caused by some type of trauma (caused from a fall or other similar incident while the mom is pregnant) or infection (usually panleukopenia in cats and parvo in dogs) that occurred while the mother was pregnant. This can be caused from malnutrition (this is seen typically in stray cats).  This can be congenital as well.  It also usually does not affect the entire litter (but can if it is an infection and each can be affected to different degrees).  This is not hereditary, so cannot be passed down by the parents to offspring.

 

There are many different levels to this condition.  It ranges from mild to severe.   Mild usually has a slight wobble or unsteady gait, moderate usually have trouble climbing and jumping, severe usually falls over while walking/standing or some cannot not walk at all.  Many of the severe ones that cannot walk have little walkers made for them to help them get around or strengthen their muscles.  Houdini is considered moderate to severe only because he cannot jump or climb and at times will tip over if he walks too slow,  but the older he has gotten the less he tips over because his muscles have strengthened enough that he can keep his balance now.

 

While many shelters choose to euthanize cats that suffer from cerebellar hypoplasia, it is important to note that the disease is not a death Ragamuffin catsentence and affected cats can make excellent and loving companions for those willing to provide an appropriate level of physical support.

 

I did a lot of research and joined groups and learned all I could to help him do well.  I had a long discussion with my vet about this condition and the prognosis for a good quality of life.  I am glad that I did my homework and did not give up on him.  He has no clue he is different than the other cats and does well.  He seems very happy and at almost 4 is healthy and loves to play. The key to helping any cat with special needs or an injury is to do your research, get second opinions if needed and decide if they will have a good quality of life when all is said and done.  Luckily he is in no pain and compensated well for his lack of coordination and has no other medical conditions.  Never be afraid to take a special needs cat as long as you know your limits on what help you can and are willing to provide them to give them a great life.

 

If you want to follow Houdini on Facebook and keep up to date on how he is doing you can go to https://www.facebook.com/HoudinitheCHkitten/

 

 

 

Cat Moms

RagaMuffin queen and kitten

 

author Laurie Godshall     High Country Cats

You might think you know cat behavior and assume that cat mothering is a level playing field. I know that’s how I felt, before I started breeding RagaMuffins (I thought I knew a lot about cats before I started breeding, but that’s another blog!)

Here’s what I’ve learned over the years about cat moms. There are good cat moms, where you’ll have to keep an eye on them, maybe assist sometimes.  There are fantastic cat moms, the ones we wish all our females were, the ones who have an abundance of milk, they’re gentle and attentive to the kittens’ every need and no human intervention is needed.  There are the not -great- but -you’ll -do cat moms, where you wonder if they even know what is going on. You’re certain she can hear those babies crying, but why isn’t she alarmed and racing to be with them??  How does she not know she is laying on them?? These kittens generally need a little more supportive care.

Then there are the ones who shouldn’t be moms. These are the one where we must take over and give it all we’ve got in hopes that the RagaMuffin kittens survive. This is a whole other blog!

Unfortunately, we don’t know what kind of moms they’ll be until they are one. It would sure benefit some of them if they had a RagaMuffin version of ‘What To Expect When You’re Expecting’, but they only have what nature has given them in the instinct department. What we hope for is that if our breeding females had great moms, then the chances are greater that they will also be great moms. While this is often the case, sometimes the genes just don’t get passed on. Sometimes, it takes a less than ideal first litter experience for them to grow into fantastic mothers the next time around. But what if they aren’t? It’s a little like Russian Roulette.

I currently have a first time mom that falls into the ‘not-great-but-it’ll-do’ category. It’s stressful. I’m sleep deprived. A lot of the time, it seems that I am the only one who hears the kittens cry and I worry daily that they’re not getting enough to eat. They are gaining weight and healthy, so she must be doing something right! I am thankful that at least they’ve gotten too big to not be noticed if she accidently lays on one and they’re strong enough to escape. Oh, Lord, please get us to the day when we can start on solid food!

 

Will she have a 2nd litter? Undecided.

The Great Hunters

 

author Christine Santa                 SantaCats RagaMuffins

 

We all know that cats are great hunters. The largest wild cats to the smallest domesticated cats will relish in the chase of anything that moves. Usually, in our house, it’s a feather toy on a long pole being swung back and forth to leaping happy feline hunters. When the RagaMuffin cats are really lucky, they will find a bug—a stinkbug, an occasional bee, or the most yummy insect, a fly! Can you imagine the surprise and shear shock and joy–when they found a HUGE flying target in our house? I assure you, I was not joyful at this discovery. A BAT! It was soaring through the air in our living room. We have cat shelves and climbing structures all over the room. They raced to the highest spot in competition over who would get to catch this prize, swiping and chirping all along the way. Unfortunately, no one was able to catch it…fast forward to 1:00am. I’ve been sound asleep for hours (early to bed, early to rise), suddenly I heard flapping and running that sounded like elephants, then thud! I foggily started remembering that we never caught and removed the bat and leapt out of bed, all the while thinking “please don’t let me step on a bat in the middle of the night.” As I turned on the light, the bat fluttered into my bedroom close to the ground. The RagaMuffins had trapped him at the base of my dresser! My husband wrapped it in a towel and released it into the back yard.

While I certainly do not hate bats, in fact I am fond of them for many reasons, I really don’t want them in my house. So, once again, the cats saved the day…or night. My hunters, my protectors.