Book Review: Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats

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Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn is a leader in the rising movement of veterinarians who wish to provide homeopathic alternatives to their patients. Like any profession, there are those who follow what they've been taught in programs funded by big business and there are those who think for themselves. Fortunately for our pets, the latter category is growing rapidly.

Veterinary medicine began as a way to keep farmed animals alive long enough to make a profit off of them. There was little or no concern for the core health and well being of those animals. These days, we frequently see cats who live more than 20 years - a case unheard of in the wild. These companions need more than "feed" and antibiotics in order to thrive. Just like us humans, they need a more natural approach to health care. Yes, there are times when manufactured medicines will be needed, but more often than not, maladies can be treated naturally using natural herbs and supplements from reliable sources.

Which brings us to this wonderful book. Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats is one of the go-to resources that we use here at Kitty Help Desk on a daily basis. Its 466 pages are overflowing with great information. Most animals in the western world are over-vaccinated, over-medicated and under-nourished. Dr. Pitcairn seeks to change all that with the simplest of tools - information.

The book is divided into two sections. Part one covers all of Dr. Pitcairn's recommendations for how to care for your pets on a daily basis. From food to exercise to dealing with neighbors, he's covered all of the bases for both dogs and cats.

Part two is the quick reference section that covers a full array of maladies from identification to treatment, including treatments for chronic conditions. Of course, Dr. Pitcairn is quick to indicate when professional veterinary advice is needed.  He also gives the caregiver ammunition to use when encountering less progressive vets. For example, when diagnosing bladder crystals, many vets will refuse to examine a urine sample brought in by a caregiver because it isn't sterile. They think they're looking for bacteria when, in fact, bacteria may not be the real culprit. Crystals can still be identified under the microscope and a caregiver facing this situation would do well to know that.

The entire book is very well done, written with the tone of a knowledgeable friend. Information about relevant topics is easily found, and Dr. Pitcairn usually gives multiple alternatives for treatment along with indications for their preference. It's important that the reader understand how to use the quick reference section prior to digging in to treatment suggestions, so the first chapter of the quick reference section should not be overlooked. In addition, most treatments refer to either the Schedule For Herbal Treatment chapter or the Schedule for Homeopathic Treatment chapter. These should be referenced any time these schedules are noted. 

We highly recommend this book. If you only have one book on treating the ailments of your feline friends, this is the one. We also recommend that you follow Dr. Pitcairn's blog at https://drpitcairn.blog/.  It's no exaggeration to say that the information in this book may be a lifesaver.

Feline Personalities

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Whether you're choosing a new cat companion from the local rescue or introducing a new cat to others in your home, it can help to have a basic understanding of feline personality types. While every cat is unique, they do tend to fall into categories based on their valiance level (AKA courage) and their desire for social interaction with humans and other cats.

The ASPCA has a program that they call Feline-ality which categorizes cats into nine personality types. We've never seen a clearer, more accurate, or more helpful version of this. The program was developed to help rescues match cats with new adopters, but it can also help you to understand your cats and their interactions.

There's also a very good web page that explains their nine feline-ality types in a way that anyone can understand: ASPCA FELINEALITY PROGRAM. Be sure to check out the downloadable "poster" at the bottom of the page.

We don't always agree with the things the ASPCA chooses to do, but the Feline-ality program is a real winner!

Cat Charity Recommendations

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'Tis the season of giving once again, and many of our favorite charitable organizations are finding themselves cash poor this year. We can all help if we even give a small amount out of our holiday budgets in place of one or two gifts that we all know no one wants or needs. In our household, we buy very few gifts and the bulk of our holiday budget goes to the charities listed below.

By no means is our list an exhaustive one. It's just a list of major cat and animal charities that we've vetted and have found to be conscientious in their use of donations. If you have a favorite charity that you don't see listed here, feel free to contact us through our Facebook page and tell us about it. We may include it when we revise the list.

You may also want to consult a web site like Charity Watch or Charity Navigator to draw your own conclusions. Just be aware that those sites don't always show the entire picture. 

Now, on to the list!


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Our favorite feral cat charity is Alley Cat Allies. They've proven themselves to be tireless defenders of feral cats and the community caregivers who help them to survive. They've been instrumental in helping to forge new laws that protect ferals from the inevitable hatred that is bred by misunderstandings of how community cats can be controlled, and they educate the public about the use of Trap Neuter Return instead of euthanization.


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Our favorite special needs cat charity is Blind Cat Rescue Sanctuary. Located in North Carolina, BCR doesn't put it's feline friends up for adoption, but instead houses them and cares for them as long as they live. Blind cats are quite capable, but caregivers often need special training in order to understand their unique needs. BCR helps cat lovers to understand these needs and also serves as a reference for blind cats that are available for adoption throughout the US.


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Our favorite nature charity is the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. While it isn't a cat charity, Sea Shepherd's work impacts us all--even cats. They police the world's oceans to stop illegal fishing, pollution, and other activities that endanger ocean ecosystems. As SSCS founder Paul Watson is fond of saying, "If the oceans die, we die." Ocean conservation is on the front line of ecological conservation for all animals.


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We feel very strongly that each of these charitable organizations is worthy of your donations, but we would be remiss if we didn't tell you to begin by looking for a small rescue in your own backyard to support. Local rescues like Tiny Kittens or Stray Cat Alliance often receive very little in the way of donations, so your money can have a greater impact. Over the holidays, watch for matching challenges that can even double your donation for these needy groups!

REVIEW: Winged Chase Cat Toy

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Motorized toys are often hit-or-miss with cats. With our older feline friends, they're usually more miss. Winged Chase is no exception.

The toy is well made, with a plastic base that houses the batteries (3 X AA) and the motor that runs the toy. The butterflies are on the end of stiff pieces of wire than can be bent to create different types of movement. We have no problem whatsoever with the design of the toy and its components. In fact, we thought this might be the one motorized toy that would be a hit due to the unique way the butterflies flutter and move.

When we initially set it up, there was a great deal of curiosity about it. Upon initial power up, the curious examination of the toy continued for a few minutes, and then...

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Curiosity was sated and the toy got no more attention. Even days later, when we'd turn it on, no one expressed interest. This isn't any indication as to whether or not your cat will enjoy Winged Chase. It could be an instant hit with some cats, particularly kittens. Older cats like ours are more likely to take a been there, done that attitude.

The fact is that most cats can identify mechanical patterns quite quickly. They're usually much happier with a human-controlled toy that skips and skitters with random movements. Using a toy you control also means that you get more bonding time with your feline friend. You also get to monitor the condition of the toys so your cat doesn't end up swallowing bits of it when they play.

Winged Chase was purchased at Petco on sale for $13.99.

REVIEW: Love My Cat Corrugated Scratcher

Whether it's a post, a tree, or your favorite sofa, every cat is going to scratch something. They have a physical need to scratch. It helps them to shed the outer sheaths of their nails while also acting as a territorial marker. There are lots of choices for good scratchers out there and some cats respond more to some than to others. Your best bet is to try several types until you find the one your felines like best.

Today, we're looking at a horizontal scratcher made from corrugated cardboard. This one, made by Love My Cat, has a few design features that distinguish it from the crowd. First off, it's inexpensive. As of this writing, the scratcher is selling for $12.95 on Amazon. That's much less than some comparable scratchers.

The best plus, and one we haven't seen on other scratchers of this type, is the convoluted surface. This actually helps cats gain purchase with their claws when using this scratcher, making it very appealing to most of our test kitties.

In addition, the scratcher can be flipped over, offering a flat surface if your cat prefers that, or if the convoluted surface wears out. Yes, this type of scratcher will eventually wear out. The cardboard rips a little with each use and some cats can produce a pile of debris in very little time. This isn't due to any problem with the scratcher. Instead, it just shows how appealing it can be to felines who like to get a good horizontal stretch when sharpening their claws.

In the odd responses department, we must add that one of our cats is intrigued by the feline silhouette on the side panel of the scratcher. But that hasn't stopped her from using the surface for its intended purpose.

We highly recommend the Love My Cat scratcher. Happy scratching!