Just Right

author Robert Hamera         Slice of Life

 

Sleeping – we all do it – we all need it – many of us don’t get enough of it.

Because sleeping is so important, it is vital that we have a comfortable spot where we can lay our weary head and get the shut-eye we all need and deserve.

We are also familiar with the story of Goldilocks.  She had to try three different beds before she found one that was “Just right.”

I am hoping that these examples of where to sleep help you pick out the perfect spot if you don’t already have one.

Sometimes you need a place that is out of the way.  A place where no one can get to you or bother you.  This spot is just right.

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Of course, you can never have too much padding at your sleeping spot.  In fact. the more padding the softer and better.  This spot is just right.

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Sometimes when you sit down to eat you may realize that a little nap is more important than food.  If that is the case, then this spot is just right.

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Have you ever just tried stretching out on the floor?  Some might think it is a bit hard, but with padding and warm rug this spot is just right.

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A comfy recliner is the perfect spot for a mid-afternoon nap.  You can see that this spot is just right.

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If you are bothered by noise and foot traffic it is important that you find a spot where you won’t in in danger of being walked on.  This spot is just right.

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This might not be to  everyone’s liking, but if you don’t mind a bony area then this spot is just right.

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Finally, when you are really tired there is no place like bed.  Don’t forget, if it’s cold remember to pull up the covers.  This spot is just right.

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Living, Breathing, Loving Works of Art

RagaMuffin cat

 

 

Author Sara Thornton     iCandy RagaMuffins

As a breeder, I have a great responsibility, no matter what life I am producing.  I have bred Quarter Horses, Labrador Retrievers and RagaMuffin cats. I believe my skills have improved over the years. It’s a learning curve for sure. The most important attribute a breeder can have is a clear goal. Every animal, every litter, should have a goal.

I believe experience has given me a more precise vision. I do believe in competition to force me to take off rose colored glasses and see my animals for what they are. That being stated, it does not mean I think the judge is necessarily always right. Competition gives me a gauge about where I need to go in my breeding program.

Breeding is an art that deals with so much more than looks. It’s complicated. The end result should be healthy, have the desired temperament AND look like the description in the breed standard and, in the case of Labradors, do what the breed was developed to do.

The breed standard is the Bible for every breeder. Each breed has a description of the ideal specimen. The aim is to come as close as possible to the ideal. The interpretation of the breed standard may vary from breeder to breeder. Since no animal is perfect, one breeder may focus on one part of the standard more than another breeder. For example, in RagaMuffins, one breeder may strive for the perfect muzzle, while another emphasizes the eyes.

Take that goal for looks, add to it proper structure and a strong immune system to allow for comfortable longevity. Add to that eliminating or at least reducing genetic diseases through DNA testing and health clearances and then top it off with a temperament that is typical for the breed. That’s a tall order. But, the holy grail of every responsible breeder is to strive for perfection.

 

I’m a Muffin Mom…….You’re a Whaaaat?

 

Chapter 2 – The Road Home

Submitted by: Lucile Gordon Press, Columbia, Maryland

 

Like any new mother, I carefully carried my precious cargo out of the show hall in Gettysburg, PA, walked to my car and put the carrier in the back seat using the seat belt to secure it. If traffic permitted, we would have about an hour and forty-five minute drive home. I managed to get to the highway before the mewing started. I turned the radio on and switched to a station playing soft music while assuring Tavi “it’s alright, we’ll be home soon”. I guess I didn’t sound very convincing because the mewing increased in frequency and volume. It wasn’t long before he worked himself up into a full wail and nothing I said sounded at all comforting to him. He kept wailing and I mean crying his little heart out. I was uncertain what to do … I can’t take him out of the carrier … what if we had an accident … I can’t stop the car on the side of the highway … I momentarily considered returning to Gettysburg because I was afraid he’d make himself sick with all this crying. I was beginning to feel like a criminal for taking him away from his familiar surroundings!

Eventually the wailing ceased but the mewing was a constant. Finally, about 10 minutes from home there was quiet. I thought he had worn himself out and had gone to sleep. Not true … he was just catching his breath for another onslaught of anguish mixed with fear of the unknown. Why wouldn’t this stranger let him out?

Let me set the stage for you here. I live in a high rise building on the ninth floor of a retirement community. The garage elevator goes to a beautiful lobby complete with koi pond and lots of little old ladies and gentleman gathered in small groups near the library, café, and security desk. There is no direct elevator access up to the ninth floor from the garage. Picture me carrying a small pet carrier into our lobby with a wailing kitten inside … you can well imagine what happened. As if I wasn’t already feeling awful I now had to assure all these well-meaning elderly folks that everything was alright. I nipped into the elevator and we rose to the floor where I live and walked down the hall to our apartment.

Tavi’s new big brother, Levi, met us at the door and was immediately concerned about all the noise coming from the carrier. I was advised to place Tavi in a small bathroom to let him get acclimated to his new surroundings, new smells, find his new litter box, water dish, toys, new bed, so he could bond with me. I closed the door to Levi, opened the carrier and Tavi crept out keeping a wary eye on me. He stopped crying and spent some time checking things out. I sat on the floor with him and shortly he was in my lap purring. Now the noise was coming from the other side of the door! Levi was anxious to meet his little brother and make sure he was alright.

The breeder had advised me to keep them separate for about a week so I couldn’t let Levi into the bathroom. I got up and quickly left the bathroom leaving the light on. Levi would not leave the bathroom door and now he was voicing his concerns. Oh my word, what’s a mother to do? Two crying cats!!!  

Stay tuned … Chapter 3 – ‘When the Show Bug Bit’ 

Fanny Farmer Grands!

photo by Carolyn Jimenez

 

author Sara Thornton DVM      iCandy RagaMuffins

ICandy Fanny Farmer turned eight months old on February 4. This means she graduated to championship class in CFA cat shows. She was so much fun as a kitten to show, bringing the party with her every time. I was really looking forward to the next step of her career.

The first time out was at the very competitive Black Diamond/Ramapo show. She earned well over half of her points toward her Grand Championship. Even better, Fanny continued to enjoy being judged. The very next weekend was the large National Norwegian Forest Cat show. She had a good time and earned more than enough points on Saturday to be a Grand Champion.

Needless to say, I was delighted. The tradition at a cat show is to shout “New Grand” when the judge hangs the ribbon that gives the cat the final points needed. I yelled, other exhibitors cheered and I got to to give my precious kitty a treat and a hug.

Fanny was a two show grand, meaning it only took her two shows to earn the points required for the title. That’s a significant accomplishment. What makes it even better is the realization that with Felisophic Sugar Daddy and Gentlepurrs Solo Purrsuit, iCandy has titled three grand champions in three months!

Choosing a Stud Cat

My first homegrown breeding male, Fudgie

author Sara Thornton DVM     iCandy RagaMuffins

You have your precious queen and now you are ready for that special breeding. Whether you are looking to bring a foundation stud in to your cattery, adding new blood lines with an additional male in the cattery, or planning on taking your queen to an outside stud, there are three important factors to take into consideration. These three things include temperament, health, and breed type.

You want the perfect male. Well, forget it. There is no such thing. But, the goal of a responsible breeder is to search out the best match that will produce quality kittens that will be loved pets and maybe, just maybe, be a terrific show and/or breeding prospect. Having the advice and support of an experienced breed mentor is invaluable in this search. The stud cat is the most important cat in your breeding program.  He is even more important if he is your only stud.  This is true because his genes will be in all or many of your kittens.  So get the best stud you can find in terms of health, temperament and conformation to the breed standard.

An experienced breeder once told me her plan was to work on one thing that needed improvement with each litter. For instance, if eye shape is a problem in your queen, you want to find a tom that has the desirable eye shape you are seeking and, even better, has proven to produce that shape in his kittens. To do this, you must have a mental picture of your goal. You also want to consider what else the male may be bringing to the breeding. While getting the eye shape you desire, are you going to lose substance or some other important characteristic? While focusing on the desired trait, you don’t want to set yourself up to lose ground on the positive qualities your girl possesses.

I’ve been told by more than one long term breeder that the male sets the temperament for the litter. I’m not sure how science supports this allegation, but temperament is and should be a factor in any breeding.  While in any litter there will be variations in temperament, who wants a litter full of scared, shy kittens?  Easily stressed   temperaments are now accepted as a contributing agent in feline bladder disease. This is such a common problem in the cat population, breeders need to be wary of breeding cats with unstable temperaments. If you are choosing a kitten from one of your own litters, or choosing a kitten from another breeder, look for a kitten that is outgoing, affectionate and confident.

As a veterinarian, health is primary for me. Breeders should strive to produce healthy kittens in every litter, every time. To start with basics, males should have two testicles properly situated in the scrotal sacs. While a monorchid cat may well be fertile, it is not a desirable trait and those cats should not be used for breeding. Whether bringing a male into your cattery or sending your girl on a honeymoon trip, you want to be sure both testicles are present and accounted for.

It should go without saying, any stud cat should have a current FeLV and FIV test. If a stud is used in an open cattery, retesting on a regular schedule is an important part of health management. It would also be prudent to require a very recent FeLV and FIV test on the visiting cat. Parasite control is imperative, both for internal and external parasites. Common worms that are easily transmitted like round worms and hook worms can be transmitted to kittens through the queen. Ear mites and fleas can and will  spread through a cattery. The dreaded  ringworm can be transmitted from a boy that has no lesions and cause havoc in the cattery. Last, but not least, any cat with chronic or recurrent diarrhea should be suspect of Tritrichomonas Foetus until proven otherwise. The overall health of your cattery is at stake, so be sure to make a check list that includes these items and evaluate the male with this list in mind.

Testing any breeding cat for problems known in the breed is an important part of being a quality breeder. Genetic testing is improving every day. Testing for PKD in an individual or having lines that are tested clear is an imperative part of a responsible breeding program. Other breeds may have different  valuable genetic testing available, such as  the HCM gene in Ragdolls. In Selkirks,  breeders are currently recommending an echocardiogram  to check for HCM prior to breeding.  Remember, you want healthy kittens.

For foundation stock, you may want to consider blood typing. While breeding a type B stud to a type A or B queen will not present problems, down the road if you have a type B queen, you will need to take precautions if you want to breed to a type A boy.

You will also want to examine the pedigree of any stud you are considering to make sure that he is compatible with your queens and that there will be sufficient genetic diversity in the offspring produced by the prospective stud and your queens. This is when a breeder learns about COI!

Any cat used for breeding should have the overall appearance of a healthy, vigorous cat. A cat prone to illness is never a good choice as our goal as breeders is to produce healthy, thriving kittens that will live a long life. Good eaters, with bright, alert attitudes are what we all strive for. The boy you choose is half of the equation to meet that goal.

RagaMuffin in a Commercial

RagaMuffin catauthor Sara Thornton DVM       iCandy RagaMuffins

What is it with cats and Roombas? A few years ago RagaMuffin Nougat was hired to shoot a commercial for the device. The animal talent agent had a call for a mellow long haired cat. Nougat’s photos were submitted and they picked him, assuming he was OK with a Roomba. They shipped one to me so I could send an audition video. And, no, I didn’t get to keep it.

Nougat had no problems with the Roomba. I sent a few test videos in for the agent to look at. By the next morning, I got the news that Nougat had the job. So, we packed up the cat suitcase and tent (otherwise known as Nougat’s dressing room) and headed for a shoot in the New York City area. It was a location shoot, meaning a home was rented for the day by the company making the commercial. I didn’t have trouble telling which house in the neighborhood was the correct one. It had equipment all over yard, at least three sizable trucks and people EVERYWHERE!.

The animal talent agent met me when I drove up. She told me she had already dealt with one issue that had cropped up; they wanted to film Nougat in the garage with the door open. Uh, no. I’m not going to lose my cat in the suburbs of NYC when one of the million people running around drops a huge piece of equipment.  After I got there, they asked if they could put a net across the door to keep Nougat in for the shoot. The net was four feet high. The answer was no, cats can climb and jump. So, lighting was set up in the garage for Nougat to look his best.

It took about an hour to set up the lights. They had already laid down a floor that the Roomba was going to clean. Nougat’s job was to sit or casually walk across the floor while the Roomba was running. The device was remote controlled by a crew member so it would not run over the cat’s tail. Nougat walked across the floor several times at different angles. Each time he was released by the talent agent and I called him to me. Then, we were done! They had told me it would take four to five hours and I was leaving in only two!.

The large crew was very nice. While I did not get to meet many of them, they were very respectful of Nougat’s needs. There had been a couple of dogs there earlier in the day and I crossed paths with a couple of actors. It was a busy set. I didn’t get to try out the catering area. It was too far away from where Nougat was set up and I didn’t let him out of my sight. I did find out why the cat had to be filmed in the garage. Apparently, the home owner did not know there was a cat coming until that morning and was allergic to cats, so the cat wasn’t allowed in the house.

We got home late from the trip. Nougat played a bit of mousie before bed time. His ego was still in check, although I think he may have trash talked some of his cat show buddies.

The Kittens are Coming!

 

author Sara Thornton DVM                      iCandy Ragamuffins

 

The excitement grows as the queen’s belly expands. Normal pregnancy in cats averages 65 days.  Larger litters tend to have a bit shorter gestations, while extremes can be from 54 to 74 days.

As the kittens grow in the uterus, fetal cortisol increases to a threshold which triggers a cascade of events including a decrease in progesterone. The decrease in progesterone to a median of 3.18 ng/ml, leads to the stimulation of myometrial contractions, the beginning of labor.

Stage one of labor is the longest stage where the cervix dilates and contractions begin. At this time, the contractions are generally not visible to an observer. A queen in this stage of parturition may display panting, nesting behavior and restlessness. She may also be anorexic and/or nauseous. The first stage may be as short as a few hours or as long as a day.

Stage two begins when active contractions are noticeable. Once these contractions begin, the first kitten should be delivered within four hours, but is usually closer to one hour. Stages two and three occur at the same time since kittens and placenta are expelled at the same time or relatively close together.

The interval between delivery of kittens may vary. Birth of a kitten may take only a few minutes. Kittens can be expected every thirty to sixty minutes, but may come much faster. If a queen is in active labor for more than two hours and no kitten is produced, veterinary intervention may be needed.

In some cases, queens appear to take a break from delivery, nurse kittens and rest comfortably. Labor then resumes with visible contractions. In some cases, parturition may last as long as two days when the female pauses. Queens should always be observed during labor, but kept in a quiet and stress free environment to help prevent interruption.

One third of kittens are born breech, while the other two thirds are born head and front feet first. Both presentations are normal. Most kittens are born in the amniotic sac. Knowledgeable queens will bite the sac as well as the umbilical cord and energetically lick the newborn to stimulate respiration. Inexperienced mothers may need assistance with this procedure. Some queens will eat the placenta when it is expelled.

If a cat needs assistance after delivery, the observer must intervene, by breaking the amniotic sac, cleaning fluid out of the mouth and vigorously dry the kitten to encourage breathing. The umbilical cord may be clamped and ligated about an inch from the kitten.

Dystocia, or difficult birthing, may occur in 3-6% of queens. This condition may be difficult to determine in a cat when the interval between kittens varies dramatically. Ideally, fetal heart rate can be monitored to detect problems. Less than 160 beats per minute in a fetus is an indication of severe stress. Some reproductive veterinarians prefer to see feline fetal heart rates stay at 200 or above.

The most common reason dystocia takes place is primary uterine inertia. Primary inertia may have a hereditary component or be due to hypocalcemia. Secondary uterine inertia is usually due to an obstruction by a kitten that is too large to pass through the birth canal or is not in the proper position to pass, such as when the head is turned sideways.

If assistance is required to pass a kitten whose head and front legs or rear legs and tail are visible, a rubber catheter may be used to infuse sterile lubricant in to the birth canal around the kitten. The lubricant may be sufficient to help the kitten pass. Manual manipulation of a kitten may lead to significant injury.

According to Dr Susan Little, there are times when veterinary intervention should be considered. A queen crying and biting at her vulva is clear indication of distress. In addition, a kitten or membranes visible at the vulva with no advancement for more than fifteen minutes, means veterinary care is indicated. Professional services should be sought if no kitten is produced within sixty minutes of strong contractions or if labor is not completed within thirty-six hours.

Oxytocin should not be used until after a radiograph shows that the kitten is of normal size and presentation. If this is the case, up to three doses of oxytocin may be administered approximately thirty minutes apart. In these cases, intravenous calcium is also likely to be needed. If no progress is made, a Caesarian section must be considered.

While only a small percentage of queens have difficulty having their kittens, it is vital that a birthing queen have an alert observer during the process. Being prepared to assist or seek professional help can save both kittens and queen.

 

Monty’s Great Adventure

author Linda Druck

 

I was asked to do a blog about my move with my boys.  I struggled with what to say, as I am not sure I did the correct things or not.  I guess the fact that we all survived the journey is a testament to the fact that I must have done something correct.

 

After a lifetime of living in New Jersey, I decide to move to Florida. This was a huge undertaking, as I have never made such a big long-distance move.  I am also handicapped, so everything was a lot harder to do.  Besides all the stress of selling a home and buying another one, I had to figure out how to get my cats down with me.  I looked into the Auto Train and was told that unless they were true service animals, that they were not allowed.  My friend ended up talking the journey with me to help with the cats and hauling all of their paraphernalia as well as mine.  Traveling with cats is like traveling with babies. You have to take a lot of stuff such as food, crates and litter.  You have to make prior arrangements for pet friendly hotels and make sure they are safe and kept cool during rest stops.  My friend helped me by taking turns staying with them for rest and lunch stops.  RagaMuffin Monty was traveling with his sibling Reggie and although Monty was my most seasoned traveler, due to going to cat shows, he was the worst for being the most vocal.  He has never liked staying at hotels but was better on this trip because Reggie had to be confined at all times. Reggie is extremely anxious and would be too hard to catch if loose.  Monty is extremely friendly and comes when called.  However, I still did not want to take any chances of him escaping if something were to frighten him.  I had, of course, taken them both to the vet for shots to be sure they were in good health to deal with the trip.  I had asked for sedatives in case they were needed and also medication for diarrhea, should it become an issue from to stress.  I was lucky and never needed either medication.  Monty who was loose in the hotel room in the evenings, was a good brother and often slept close to Reggie’s play pen to comfort and help relax him.

 

I had asked for advice on how to transport them, since originally, I was going to use Monty’s show crate for the both of them to be together.  But my concern was Reggie, who is always so anxious, would dart out and I knew that I would never get him back. I was also worried Monty could dart out, while I was grabbing for Reggie and get lost or hit in a parking lot.  So, I ended up just using their individual crates keeping them confined at all times and planning shorter distances to get from one hotel to another.  Sometimes I was anxious myself because times took longer, due to traffic or other holdups. However, they seemed to manage ok.  They were also better each new day of traveling, as they got used to the ride.  I also played relaxing music to keep them calm in the car.  I had their favorite toys in with them and sprayed their crates with a cat travel calming spray.

 

I had researched pet friendly hotels. However, I still ran across one that had charged me their regular fee upon the reservation and did not tell me that I had another fee upon registration, which was astronomical but too late to change.  I would advise anyone to double check any extra fees that can be added before traveling so there are no surprises in transit.  I Used AAA to map out my route and distances from one location to another which worked out perfectly.   My friend also made life so much easier by always having someone with the boys at all times to reduce their stress and mine.  I did have issues with requesting pet friendly rooms as well as Disabled and had to opt for the Pet Friendly over my own safety.  I would research that better next time.

 

Due to complications of losing my original home in Florida, after already having a closing date in New Jersey, I ended up having to get a long-term pet friendly place in addition to finding a permanent home situation.  Therefore, the cat’s lives were disrupted for a longer period of time than anticipated.  Finally, everything worked out and the boys adapted very quickly to their new home.  They love Florida, enjoy the lizards and all the low windows to look outside.  They have a huge screened in porch, that lets them enjoy the greater outdoors safely now, and they are no worse for the wear.  I was nervous about that as I had been told they can develop all kinds of bad behaviors when their environment changes. But I lucked out big time and we are all finally happy with the move and survived the “Great

Playing Mr.Potato Head

RagaMuffin

author Terri Cassiday              Xpressions RagaMuffins

Remember playing Mr Potato Head as a child? You didn’t like his eyes, ears, etc. so you changed them. That simple. Wouldn’t it be great if we could do that as breeders?

Of course, if it was that simple, we would all have perfect cats. Instead, we assess our cats strengths and weaknesses. Next we find a suitable mate that will “fix” the undesirable traits. Voila!….all done!…perfection! A litter of perfection. What? It didn’t “fix” all of the kittens? To make it worse, now there are different things to “fix”. Welcome to the world of breeding.

It’s a blend of science and art with a little luck sprinkled into the mix. It’s a balance of passing on to the litter things that you wish to improve upon from the parents without losing the parents attributes. It’s rewarding and it’s frustrating. It’s breeding.

So what happens when you aren’t achieving what you set out to do? You reevaluate and you try again. After all, even if they aren’t “perfect”, they are “perfectly” sweet RagaMuffins.

Playing Mr. Potato head isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. You do remember where the pieces were stored, don’t you?

Sugar Daddy Had An Echo

RagaMuffin cat

 

 

author Sara Thornton DVM                          iCandy RagaMuffins

Recently, I took Grand Champion Felisophic Sugar Daddy for a trip in his carrier. This time, it was not to a cat show. This time it was for an echocardiogram.  You see, an echocardiogram is the definitive way to ensure a cat does not have Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM). While RagaMuffin Sugar Daddy had a DNA test to rule out the gene that causes HCM in Ragdolls, I still want to dot the i’s and cross the t’s in order to make sure the breeding parents are as healthy as possible.

Sugar Daddy was a little nervous for the procedure, but purred and was amiable throughout. None of my cats have ever been problematic for this. It requires that a kitty lay on his or her side with front limbs outstretched. Sometimes they wiggle a bit as it gets uncomfortable for sure. Sugar Daddy needed a short break one time.

Generally the hair is wet down with alcohol. A gel is then used to help the transmission to the base unit via the ultrasound probe. It doesn’t hurt at all. No funny noises. The room is kept a bit dark to allow the doctor to better see the screen.

The bottom line is, the valves are checked along with measuring the thickness of the heart walls. Fortunately, Sugar Daddy was perfectly normal.