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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Your cats, your pregnancy, your baby

A disproportionate amount of cats are abandoned, re-homed or given away to shelters because of human mothers becoming pregnant. Is this necessary? Here is what we will find out, and what you can do about it.

The main concerns revolve around having cats around during pregnancy, and having cats around when the baby is born.

During pregnancy
What pregnant moms, their families, and their gynaecologists, will worry about, is the toxoplasmosis risk. Toxoplasmosis is caused by the parasite toxoplasma gondii, or T.gondii. T.gondii is not visible to the naked eye. Pregnant women infected by toxoplasmosis can suffer from abortion, stillbirth or cause a central nervous system infection in the baby.

Most adults in their lifetime will have been exposed to T.gondii and developed an immunity to it. The most likely way to be infected by T.gondii is to eat raw or poorly cooked meat, and unpasteurised dairy products.

How does a human get this from cats then?

First of all, the cat must be harbouring T.gondii in its system. This is through eating live prey such as rodents, and from soil that has been contaminated by T.gondii. And, like humans, they can also get infected by T.gondii by eating raw or undercooked meat and unpasteurised dairy products.

Once infected by the T.gondii parasite, the cat will shed it in its poo. In order for a human to get infected by T.gondii from a cat, she will need to eat infected cat poo.

Since the risk of a human eating T.gondii infected cat poo is not great, it is far more likely to contract toxoplasmosis from eating raw and undercooked meats and unpasteurised dairy products.

Here are the preventive measures you can take as a pregnant mom and cat owner.
  1. Keep your cats indoors! This is to prevent him from hunting infected prey and being exposed to contaminated soil. 
  2. You and your cat should avoid raw or undercooked meats and unpasteurised dairy products. 
  3. If your cat is indoors and not on a risky diet mentioned in point 2, he is likely to be free from T.gondii. However, if you would like to play it safe, send your cat to the vet for a T.gondii lab test to confirm he is free from this parasite. You can also show the lab test results if you have a misinformed overprotective ob-gyn.
  4. Do not eat cat poop. Also, wash your hands after clearing cat litter, wash the litter scoop, wear gloves, or second someone else to do litter duties.
With these preventive measures in place, you will have a safe pregnancy with your pet cats, toxoplasmosis free.

Having a baby around with cats
There are three main concerns parents of both cats and human babies have. One, whether the baby will be allergic to cat fur. Two, whether the baby, having a weaker immune system than adults, will catch any diseases from the pet cat. Three, whether the cat will show aggression towards the arrival of a new family member, a human baby. Let's look at these issues in turn.

I would like to quote from one of our adopters, Vivien, who majored in life sciences, on the issue of allergies. "Only 10% of an entire population of people are allergic to pets, cats in this instance. And of that 10%, an even smaller proportion are babies...An early exposure to allergens creates early resistance." Because the possibility of the baby being allergic to cat fur is so small, it is unnecessary to rehome your cat before the baby even arrives. In all our experience with families adopting cats, we have not heard of a single case of babies having cat fur allergies. Your cat is your child too, do act on facts and not impulse regarding abandoning your cat for the baby.

Feline diseases that can be spread to humans are ones like toxoplasmosis, explained above. The other zoonotic diseases that can be spread are also through cat-poo-to-mouth exposure. Ensure that your baby does not eat any cat poop or litter. House cats are unlikely to get any zoonotic diseases if they are indoors, and do not eat any contaminated food or water. Maintain proper hygiene in food preparation and clearing when it comes to your cat's food. Make sure your cat does not drink water from floor traps, drains and such, and only from his water bowl. Deworm your cat on schedule. (Even without a baby in the house, these standards should already be in place.) If you want to be even more cautious, if your cat ever gets diarrhoea (the most common symptom of an infectious zoonotic disease), after the vet visit and until the diarrhoea clears up, distance baby away from your cat.

When the baby finally arrives, will kitty and baby be able to get along? Will your cat attack your baby? It is possible that your cat will get stressed when baby arrives, but this can be prevented with proper preparation before baby arrives, not when. This article by Gary Loewenthal is chockful of advice on how to integrate a new human member to the family with your cat. Before you deliver, get kitty used to all the baby paraphernalia in the house. Reduce stress in your cat with remedies such as Feliway. Allow kitty to smell baby's clothes brought back from the hospital by another family member while you are still there. Reward kitty with treats when he smells his soon-to-be new sibling's clothes. This will ease your cat's apprehension about having his home 'invaded' and thus lower any aggression response. Do read the rest of Loewenthal's article for more details on how to connect baby and cat when you come home with your new family member. The main keys are preparation, and reducing your cat's stress and thus possibility of any aggression.

I leave you with this video to demonstrate that cats and babies can co-exist!

Further reading:
Cats and Babies by ASPCA
Prepare Your Pet to Welcome Your New Baby by Dr Karen Becker

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7  
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme  
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ Grateful this Christmas ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Thank you cat-angels, who gave towards our cause this year through good times and bad, through financial contributions or donations-in-kind. We could never have done it without you.

Thank you supporters, who spread the word on what we do, expanding our outreach more this year than the last, turning us into a force of nature.

Thank you adopters, who have given our rescued cats safe, loving, forever homes. You make the meaning of cat companionship real, and your lives are living examples of the maxim, "Don't buy, adopt instead."

Thank you volunteers, especially our volunteers with portfolio, Liyin - Sterilisation Volunteer and Imran - Adoptions Volunteer. May we keep growing together.

Have a Blessed Christmas 2011.

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme  
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Lockdown now fully lifted

Two weeks ago we had a lockdown because a lot of kitties fell ill with flu'. We suspected it was either bordetella or a mutated flu' viral strain. We confirmed it was a mutated flu' virus being shed by our chronic cat flu' carrier Napolean.

Since then, we began treatment of all the cats affected, disinfected the foster home, and quarantined Napolean. Only Lenny remains ill, probably because he is the youngest and his immune system the weakest. He is still undergoing medication.

Napolean was also treated to reduce his symptoms and is now no longer sneezing, which is one of the ways the flu' viruses get carried into the air.

As such, we are lifting the lockdown fully. Visitors should however avoid handling Napolean if they are going to play with the other foster cats or have cats at home, unless they bring a change of clothes (if hugs are involved). Chlorhexadine hand soap and hand sanitisers are available to prevent transmission of the viruses.

We are also accepting new rescues - 3 will be arriving tonight, story soon - as the situation is under control. This will bring our foster kitten population up to 9, with one 'ICU' case i.e. kitten needing medical care (Lenny), well within our threshold.

So, if you are intending to visit - and bring gifts from our Christmas Wishlist? Or adopt a kitty? - you are definitely more than welcome, and safe to!

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7  
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Cat-less? Consider adopting Napolean

Napolean came to us at 10 weeks old having bad flu' and diarrhoea. He and his siblings were found dumped below a HDB block in this condition. Napolean was one of the weakest, having fluid in his respiratory tract. We named Napolean, adapted from Napoleon, because though he was weak, we wanted him to become strong.

There was an incident when we nearly lost Napolean. He started going into hypothermia and showed signs of anaemia. We immediately applied first aid on him - giving him glucose, and coQ10 for his heart to function, and warmed him up. Thankfully, he didn't need IV fluids and he recovered. Since then, Napolean's attitude towards us humans even changed. He hated us at first because all we did was push pills and syringes into his mouth. But after this incident, he began to love us a lot.

We did not put Napolean up for adoption earlier than this because the boy constantly exhibited flu' symptoms from time to time - after vaccinations, after his sterilisation operation. Which was normal, until he started making other - vaccinated - kitties sick, all at the same time. He was shedding a mutated flu' virus, and we and our vet concluded that Napolean is a chronic flu' carrier and needed to be isolated. It broke our hearts to quarantine him, but we had to. The entire foster home was disinfected and we treated the sick kitties.

In order for Napolean to no longer be caged up, he needs to get adopted by a cat-less family. He will continue to shed the various flu' viruses throughout his life, so he can't have any kitty siblings. Apart from this, he is perfectly normal. Sometimes his eyes may tear a little, sometimes he may sneeze, but other than that he is a normal kitty. And no, humans can't catch cat flu'.

He loves to talk to people, and loves humans more than cats. He enjoys being carried, and purrs a lot. He is white with a few stray grey hairs on his head, has a long tail with a kink.

If you would like to give Napolean your home, see right side-bar under 'How to adopt', or read here to find out how.

Napolean is likely to have to stay with us for a long time. To help us sustain our care for him while we find him a home, consider becoming a monthly giver. This will carry up our resources to care for him and other overstayers as long as is needed.

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7  
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Everyone loves Chanel and Jaimie - give them each a home?

These siblings have finally fully rehabilitated and are ready for forever homes!

Chanel at 19 weeks old, photographed by Furry Photos

Cuddly Jaimie at 19 weeks old
Their History
These siblings are 2 of 3 kittens rescued from French Road. Their brother Marcel recovered sooner than they did and was adopted recently.

They have been having gastro-intestinal problems since day one of arrival, and recovery took a long time. Apart from their diarrhoea, they also had a yeast infection in their ears. Our usual protocol is not to re-home kittens that are undergoing treatment for sicknesses so Chanel and Jaimie here had to wait till they were certified healthy before this adoption post was written.

Their treatment was thorough. We tested and observed for various gastro-intestinal bacteria that could cause them to keep having diarrhoea. In the end we found out that they suffered from a campylobacter infection and the right treatment was given for it. After the antibiotics was given, we also put them on a herbal parasite cleansing regime - Pet Alive's Parasite Doctor which was donated by our corporate sponsor The Water Dish. They were also treated with loperamide for their diarrhoea which while it became much better, was still present because their digestive tracts were already weakened by the persistent diarrhoea. Coupled with supplements to help their systems to heal, they are now better and can finally eliminate solid poo!

Their personalities
Chanel is very affectionate and loves to be hugged, the longer the hug the better. She can be draped around a human shoulder like a purring fur shrug! Of course, she is also playful, but she obeys verbal commands responsively when she breaks a house rule. She loves playing with pillows and is very curious. Regardless of how much she wants to play though, she is always willing to get a hug. Rub her like a genie lamp and she starts purring non-stop.

Curious Chanel
Jaimie is also very affectionate - he enjoys rubbing his entire self against humans non-stop, purring all the way. He likes hugs too, as you can see from his portrait photograph. And when hugged and asked to purr, he does exactly that. He is mischievous, loves to play with books (which we disciplined him not to!) and he would rather play than eat sometimes.  He is still learning to respond to verbal commands but is not really scared of loud 'No's, and is more responsive when smacked. No love lost after being smacked though, and he does not repeat the action after a smack.

Both are very cooperative with being handled, during showering and grooming. They are like kittens who can't say no to humans. They really love humans that much!

Their bio-data
Both are 34 weeks old at the time of this post. Chanel is a spotted torbie i.e. tortoiseshell tabby. Jaimie is a red tabby with mostly mackeral and spotted markings, but with some marbling on his front flanks. Both of them have white coloured chins (in Chanel's case more cream than white). Both have long tails; Chanel's has a kink at the end. Both are local shorthairs but Chanel's fur is more double-coated, thicker and softer.

Chanel the torbie

Jaimie showing his white chin

They have been vaccinated, vet-checked, dewormed, free of fleas and mites, sterilised, litter-trained, able to eat both wet and dry food.

If you would like to adopt either Chanel or Jaimie, please see right side-bar on 'How to adopt' or read here, to find out our adoption procedure and how you can adopt them.

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7  
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Buy a Sugar Cat Skull kitty accessory to support our cause!

One of our tweeps, @itsgrimswickery. has hand-made kitty accessories to help us raise funds.

Each of these cat skull accessories retail at $10 with additional $1 for postage. $3 goes to Love Kuching per skull sold.

Wanna find out more? Visit http://itsgrimswickery.blogspot.com/2011/12/sugar-cat-skulls.html to find out the details on the size of each accessory and how you can purchase them for yourself or your cat loving friends as gifts.

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7 ]Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme  
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Wishlist - pledge a gift today!

Want to give something special towards our cause this holiday season? Here are some things that we could use!

Single-storey cat scratching post with mobile hanging toy - PLEDGED!
We actually have one of these, but it has collapsed through washing, wear and tear and no longer is able to function as a hanging mobile toy either. The kittens still use it as a 'scratching log' but it no longer works as a training tool for younger kittens to learn how to strop and bat at elevated prey on their own. We need to throw away our current one as it is beyond repair, nor can we disinfect it properly anymore. Any design, colour, brand will do.

Humidifier aromatherapy diffuser -PLEDGED!
Currently we are diffusing essential oils as an alternative remedy using a tealight candle-lit ceramic burner. Which works well. However, in our recent research into home care for cat flu', we found out that humidity aids recovery. The various strains of cat flu' are one of the biggest illnesses we have to rehabilitate in sick kittens, next to gastro-intestinal problems like diarrhoea. For now we give steam inhalation to kittens that are having more serious symptoms of cat flu', which is a 10 minute exposure to hot water and essential oils placed outside a carrier, covered with a towel. But we can't provide a better humidity level for all kittens having cat flu', round the clock. This device can be placed near specific pens housing cat flu' kittens, or in the foster lounge if we have an outbreak (like now). The aromatherapy diffusing element is optional, but the humidifier needs to be portable and small. Any brand will do and it can be found at any electrical appliance store.

2 stainless steel bowls on a stand (shown here Ferplast Desco Stand)
The free-roaming foster kittens - certified healthy and old enough to roam without getting stuck in places - share food and water with our own 4 cats. Sometimes this causes a bit of a skirmish. Having two bowls would be good. We also like the idea of this elevated stand because elevation of cat food bowls causes less regurgitation of food - less cat puke to clean up around the house. The kitten pens have elevated bowls too (hooked to the pen grilles) but the free-roaming cats don't. This would be a great addition to our feeding station to prevent skirmishes and food aggression, as well as for better health. Stainless steel too, less bacteria! If you wish to purchase this from The Water Dish for us, contact Maxine at enquiries@thewaterdish.com.sg / 9685 3929

Weighing scale that can weigh as accurately as 100gm and up to 5kg - PLEDGED!
We have been guessing weights of kittens when we need to medicate them, unless we have already weighed them at the vet. Why we need to know the weight of kittens is because veterinary medicine dosages is prescribed as mg per kg body weight. For example, bromhexine for cats is 1mg/1kg b.w. and we usually estimate the doses based on how heavy the kittens feel. A weighing scale will help us be more accurate in dosing kittens their medications. Shown here are two models, it doesn't matter which type, as long as we can weigh both a 300gm kitten and a 3.5kg kitten with it, for instance. It also does not need to be digital.

Measuring spoons of volume 1/4 teaspoon and 1/8 teaspoon
A lot of the supplements we give are in powder form, such as colostrum, vitamin C. Because these are human supplements we need to downscale the doses for kittens, and that sometimes means having to give 1/8th of a teaspoon worth of lysine powder, for example. We are running out of spoons that can give us an accurate callibration of doses and sometimes do guesswork on how much to give (kind of like cooking by intuition and not by recipe). 1/8th teaspoons are especially hard to find - a stirrer is usually about that volume but the handle is too long to place inside the supplement bottles. A couple of these teaspoons would help us in preparing our therapeutic diets for the foster kittens.

Treats - PLEDGED!
We found that the foster kittens all love Vitakraft Cat Sticks, and our cats' Angel Salmon Sashimi treats. We use treats to encourage the kitties to interact with human visitors when they hand the treats out. This reinforces the mentality in kitties that visitors are a good thing, instead of having them hide in corners and cower away from people (and thus become difficult to get adopted). Vitakraft cat sticks are loved, really really loved, by all the foster kittens we have fed it too. Our cats don't like it that much but the kittens somehow do! They are inexpensive, and though the ingredients aren't completely wholesome, help teething kittens as well. Angel Salmon treats are healthier but they are more expensive. Either treats will do, and any quantity. If you wish to purchase this from The Water Dish for us, contact Maxine at enquiries@thewaterdish.com.sg / 9685 3929

Bonito flakes
This. We use to garnish older kittens' canned food with supplements meals, making a whole lot of difference. (We only use it on older kittens because it is harder for younger kittens to digest fish based food). It helps make the meal more appetising to them so they will consume more and thus imbibe more of their supplements. It is the best garnish we have used so far in terms of taste-tests on the kitties and cost-effectiveness. You can buy bonito flakes from any Japanese supermarket such as Isetan's, or like we do, from the one at the basement of Parkway Parade. Small packs are also available at places like Daiso.

Revolution Pink and Blue
We need to always have Revolution handy in case of any mite or flea risk or presence in our foster home - this way all the kittens can be protected. We need both Revolution Pink and Blue because at this current moment we have 4 kittens that are above 2.5kg in body weight and will need Blue, not Pink. A mixture of both Revolution Pink and Blue in our cache will be handy in case of emergencies. The lowest price to purchase Revolution is from our corporate sponsor The Water Dish - contact Maxine at enquiries@thewaterdish.com.sg / 9685 3929 to find out how much if you wish to buy through them.

Premium food for the holidays
We are currently feeding Solid Gold Indigo Moon and Addiction Brushtail, both choices the most value-for-money grain-free premium foods. But the foster kittens go wild when we feed even better food than this! We would like to give the foster kittens a treat this holiday season with food that is even more premium than our current offering, both dry and canned foods. For dry foods, better foods include Taste of the Wild, Wellness CORE, Acana, Orijen. For canned foods, Wellness CORE, Addiction's 5.5oz range. You can contact Maxine at enquiries@thewaterdish.com.sg / 9685 3929 if you wish to buy any of these premium foods for us through The Water Dish.

Unromatic essentials
  • Huggies or Kodomo baby wipes
  • Non-sterile gauze (small)
  • Alcohol swabs
  • Paper towels
  • Dishwashing liquid refill packs - Ligent or UIC brand
  • Jeypine hospital grade disinfectant 5L size
  • Generic bleach
  • Chlorhexadine hand soap - PLEDGED!
  • Hospital blue sheets / pee pads - PLEDGED!
  • Printer ink - Canon MP145

If you are pledging to give any of these items on our wishlist, do drop Elaine an SMS at 90880675 or a tweet @luvkuching, as some of these items - we need only one of, so we will cross it off our wishlist once a pledge to give the item is made.

Any questions about the items on our wishlist? Email Elaine at elaine@lovekuchingproject.org or tweet us @luvkuching.

Thank you in advance for making it a great holiday at Love Kuching!

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7  
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our #Caturday adoptions

Marcel was due to go up on Adoption Alert last week because he was officially cleared of sickness. But before he went up on the internet, he got adopted, with Winky! One of our long-term shelter kittens! Winky has had a string of bad luck, somehow she never met the right adopter, till Saturday came along!

Bena and Sonia with Marcel and Winky
Bena and Sonia already have one kitty at home, also adopted, called Rosie. Rosie has been a bit lonely so her parents wanted to get a friend for her. Which turned out to be two friends! They liked Marcel and Winky because both are not overly aggressive - Rosie is a very sweet-tempered cat.

Winky was at the time on medication for feline asthma, triggered by the cold and humid weather. We passed Sonia her medication to continue her treatment at her new home. They also see the same vet as we do so they can better understand her condition.

We are so happy for the family!

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme  
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish 

Monday, December 5, 2011


Our own cats have suddenly developed flu' symptoms at the same time even though they are vaccinated, mainly Slinky and Sayang. Normally, if only one cat shows symptoms of cat flu', it is considered normal because vaccinations are not 100% effective. However because two of our cats got flu' symptoms at the same time, we investigated because this is not likely a coincidence.

After researching and consulting with our vets there are two possible scenarios. One, is that they caught a strain of cat flu' known as bordetella, which is not covered under the core vaccinations. Vaccination covers three strains of cat flu': herpes virus, calici virus and chlamydia virus. The second possibility that our vets is that this flu' outbreak is a mutated strain of either herpes, calici or chlamydia.

In any case, this calls for a lockdown so we can contain whatever virus strain it is.

In the meantime, we are treating Slinky with antibiotics (she is suffering worse than Sayang is). Bordetella is easily eradicated with antibiotics (Vibravet i.e. doxycycline).

And as in all 'epidemics' who is Patient Zero?

Napolean, whom we suspected is a chronic flu' carrier. If it is bordetella or a mutation, it might mean he isn't a chronic carrier and can remain flu' free for much of his life.

Breaking out lots of detergent, bleach, antiseptic solution and suchlike during lockdown. Keep your thoughts with us!

Give financially to our cause by depositing to our bank account POSB savings 188-52652-7
Sponsor a foster kitten's vaccination through our Sponsor-A-LoveKuching-Cat Scheme  
Give food at charity rates through our corporate sponsor The Water Dish