1,000 Cats & Kittens Rescued – Meet Bunny

September 14th 2018 is the day the MEOW co. No-Kill Cat Shelter rescued it’s 1,000th cat since opening our doors back in January 2017. 

Not only was it an great feeling to have been a part of an amazing team that saved a thousand lives in less than Two years, but it was made even better because it’s the day I got to meet and rescue Bunny from the Kern County Animal Shelter. 

Bunny was taken in by KCAS and was housed at their kitten nursery before being transferred up to the main shelter in Bakersfield, CA.

But the kitten wasn’t your average feline. She suffers from Megaesophagus – a condition in which the esophagus is enlarged and lacks the ability to properly move food and liquid down to the stomach. 

When Bunny was rescued and taken in by our organization, she was already diagnosed with pneumonia by KCAS Veterinarian Dr. Wilson, which is believed to be a result of the Megaesophagus. *The Megaesophagus caused Bunny to aspirate her food.

Because of her condition, Bunny needs to eat in a sitting/standing position so gravity can do its thing and let the food go down to the stomach properly.

In addition to the Megaesophagus, Bunny also has Two deformed front arms and paws along with Seven toes on both of her back legs.

When she stands up on her back legs, she looks like a little bunny rabbit hence the name.

Bunny is a purrfect example of the types of felines MEOW co. rescues and cares for. Though she living at the county shelter, she wasn’t an ideal candidate for adoption due to all the medical issues she has as well as the potential risks and complications she’s vulnerable for.

Everytime she’s done eating, either myself or my husband (yes, we’re currently fostering her at our home) has to hold her in an upright position until she stops gurgling so she doesn’t aspirate.

We typically have to hold her for 10-15 minutes before we can set her back down.

And, because of the risk of food getting stuck in her esophagus, we can’t leave any of our other kitty’s food on the ground. 

Bunny pretty much needs to be monitored 24/7 so that means I get to take her with me nearly everywhere I go in a special cat carrier backpack. She loves car rides and meeting new people so she doesn’t mind the constant traveling.

Bunny may be our 1,000th rescue, but she certainly isn’t our last. Here’s to the next thousand abandoned cats & kittens rescued. 

Thank you to everyone who donates and supports our mission. If it wasn’t for people like you, we wouldn’t be able to save special needs kitties like Bunny. Save the Kitties.

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Melanie Mariano

Melanie is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the MEOW co. Cat Shelter in Bakersfield, CA.
Help us save more orphaned kittens like Bunny by donating today. Your support helps us buy food, medicine, and foster supplies.
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    KCAS Introduces LION Program for Petco Innovation Showdown

    Have you voted for Kern County Animal Services to be the third and final organization in the 2018 Innovation Showdown? If not, head over to petcofoundation.org to vote for the shelter. You have until April 9 to cast your vote.

    KCAS is up against eight other organizations who are all pitching innovative ideas on ways to save animals’ lives.

    The winner will receive $350,000 to execute their idea.

    KCAS hopes to win the money to use it for their L.I.O.N. program, which would allow inmates to care for kittens. The shelter is working with the Sheriff’s Office to make this program happen.

    Nick Cullen, the director at KCAS, says in video submission that about 1,250 kittens get put down every year at the shelter because there aren’t enough foster families and foster homes.

    Cullen says this program benefit both the shelter and the inmates in a number of ways. Not only are kittens being saved, but inmates can also learn to care for animals and learn to bond with them. The program will also teach them a skill that can land the inmates a job in the animal field when they leave prison, Cullen says.

    Saving Kittens with Artificial Intelligence


    Saving Kittens with Artificial Intelligence

    Our Research and Development team has been working on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence systems to help save orphaned kittens – They launched their beta script in March 2018.

    The program dubbed “CATbot” is an AI system that is designed to assist individuals who have no experience with caring for neonatal kittens or even what to do when they find an orphaned kitten.

    CATbot is built with a Machine Learning algorithm that learns with each new interaction – both positive and negative. The algorithm uses dialogue flows to direct the users in the right direction: i.e. “I found a Kitten. What do I do?” which, in turn will execute a particular set of commands to properly “walk” the user through the steps necessary on what to do with the given situation.

    Users can ask it a variety of questions using natural speech as well as use prompts given by CATbot incase it doesn’t understand that you’re asking it to do. If you ask it something and it doesn’t answer correctly, it’ll try and learn it and get add it to it’s database. It’ll also prompt the developers to teach it more information centered around what users have asked and it failed to answer.

    CATbot is still in beta testing but is available to the public. A few things it can assist you with range from How to Bottle Feed a Kitten, how to Make Emergency Formula, and has an array of “signs & symptoms” on kitten illness and diseases. Though it’s still in beta, I highly recommend everyone to go and try it out. Ask it questions, and play around. The more interaction it gets the better it gets. And the more it learns, the better service it can provide to assist in saving abandoned kittens.

    I’m really excited and proud to have been a part of this the development of this project, and look forward to the impact it has on saving the lives of abandoned kittens. CATbot’s framework is currently built for Orphaned Kittens, but is in development to include adult cats protocols, feral, TNR, and  general feline information.

    If you’d like to help CATbot learn new information and save more orphaned kittens, visit the link below and start a conversation within CATbot’s Facebook Messenger.

    ➡ Chat with CATbot Meow ⬅

    How Long Do Cats Live? And How to Help Your Cat Live Longer

    If you’re a cat owner, particularly a new cat owner, it’s natural to wonder how long your feline friend will be with you. Just how long does the average cat live?

    With advances in medicine and nutrition, cats are living longer than ever before. It’s not unusual today to see a cat live well into its 20s. As a health care provider, that’s encouraging and heartening. The cats that currently live with me are only now starting to approach their early teens. However, several of the cats that I’ve shared my life with lived into their late teens, with one approaching 23 years old before he passed.

    Indoor Versus Outdoor Cats

    It’s difficult to discuss average life span for a pet cat without first discussing the differences between a pet cat that lives indoors and a cat that lives or spends a great deal of time outdoors unsupervised. For these cats, the life span can be much shorter. An outdoor life exposes your cat to a number of dangers that a cat living indoors simply doesn’t face. These risks include infectious diseases, poisons, exposure to the elements, and injuries from vehicles, dogs, wild animals, or even people. Cats living outdoors are also prey to some of the wild animals that now live even in our more urban communities.

    Buy Quality Cat Food

    Providing a high-quality, balanced, and complete diet is one of the most important things you can do to keep your cat healthy and ensure a long life. The diet should also be appropriate for your cat’s life stage and lifestyle. For instance, a kitten should be consuming a diet that supports growth while an older cat may require fewer calories or even have health issues that require dietary restrictions or additions. The nutritional needs of each cat are different. In addition, it is important to avoid overfeeding your cat. Your veterinarian can help you choose a diet appropriate for your individual cat based on his age, reproductive status (i.e., neutered or spayed), health, and other factors.

    Water Consumption is Important, Too!

    You may not have thought of this before, but many cats do not consume adequate amounts of water without encouragement. Encourage water consumption for your cat through the use of canned foods (which have a higher moisture content than kibble), water fountains, dripping faucets, or by adding water to the dry cat food.

    Don’t Forget to Exercise

    Keeping your cat lean and fit is another contributing factor to giving your cat a long and healthy life. Overweight cats are prone to a number of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, skin disease, respiratory disease, and more. Put aside time each day to encourage your cat to exercise through interactive play. You can also encourage exercise through the use of food puzzles.

    Unsure if your cat is overweight? Try out petMD’s Healthy Weight tool.

    Considering Spaying/Neutering Your Cat (if You Haven’t Already)

    Spaying and neutering increases the life span of cats, according to the 2013 Banfield Pet Hospital Report. An added benefit for cats that are spayed or neutered is a lower tendency for developing annoying or even intolerable behavioral issues such as marking or spraying.

    Provide Environmental Enrichment for Your Cat

    Environmental enrichment is a must for all cats, especially indoor cats. Living indoors, though safer than living outside, can also contribute to boredom for your cat. Enrichment includes scratching posts, perches, toys, and other things that stimulate your cat’s mind and alleviate boredom.

    Keep Your Cat’s Teeth Clean

    Oral care is frequently overlooked, particularly for cats. However, it is extremely important to look after your cat’s teeth and mouth. The majority of cats over the age of three already have some degree of dental disease. Dental disease can be painful and may even prevent your cat from eating normally.

    Proper oral care involves both home care as well as regular veterinary care. It’s likely your veterinarian will need to anesthetize your cat in order to do a thorough oral examination and properly clean your cat’s teeth. Cats can have dental problems that occur under the gum line and cause pain, which may go unnoticed as cats tend to hide the fact that they are in pain. Without anesthesia, it is impossible for your veterinarian to find these problems and treat them to relieve any dental pain your cat may be experiencing. Your veterinarian can also help you establish a home care routine for your cat. This may include brushing the teeth, oral wipes, oral rinses, and other options.

    Regular Veterinary Visits Are Necessary

    All cats require regular veterinary visits, not only for dental examinations but for a thorough examination of your cat from nose to tail. Cats are masters of disguise when it comes to disease. Even the most observant cat owner may be unable to spot the early signs of illness. However, your veterinarian is trained to look for these signs. Your veterinarian also has the advantage of being able to perform blood, urine, fecal, and other testing that you cannot do at home for your cat. Help your cat live longer and schedule annual veterinary checkups.

    5 Dangerous Foods for Cats

    While we may consider cats to be members of our family, treating them as such at mealtimes can cause more injury to them than just spoiling their dinners. Here’s a look at the five most dangerous foods for your cat, how they affect their bodies, and what to do in case of an emergency.

    1. Onions/Garlic

    Onions and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells and lead to anemia in cats, Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center says. “Cats tend to be much pickier eaters as opposed to dogs, but we’ve seen cats eat an entire cup of caramelized onions.”

    Although the size of the dose determines the level of poisoning, lethargy and a reduced appetite can be symptoms of a toxic reaction. The sooner you diagnose potential poisoning in cats the better, so if they’re acting strangely don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.

    2. Raw Eggs

    Similarly to people, consumption of raw eggs can lead to salmonella in cats, according to Dr. Wismer. Symptoms of the disease will vary but can include vomiting, diarrhea and lethargy. Salmonella can also be transmitted to humans from animals, making it even more important to keep your cat away from eggs and to properly wash your hands after baking or cooking with raw eggs.

    3. Alcohol

    Cats tend to be attracted to drinks with milk or cream in them, Dr. Wismer says, making your holiday White Russian a potentially toxic substance if consumed by your pet. Cocktails aside, alcohol can also be found in desserts and can be created in your cat’s stomach if they ingest homemade or store bought yeast dough used in making bread, rolls, and pizza. Even small amount of alcohol (both ingested through alcoholic beverages and produced in the stomach) can be life threatening, making it important to call your vet before you notice any serious poisoning symptoms like seizures.

    4. Raw Fish

    Like raw eggs, raw meat and fish can cause food poisoning in cats. Additionally, raw fish contains a compound that breaks down thiamine, an important B1 vitamin for cats that, when missing, can cause serious neurological problems in your cat, Dr. Wismer says.

    “Pets aren’t just small, fluffy humans,” says Dr. Wismer. “They have different dietary requirements and metabolize things differently [than people]. Talk to your vet about the things you should or shouldn’t feed your pets.”

    5. Tuna

    A diet rich in tuna can not only cause mercury poisoning in your cat (just like people) but can also leave them malnourished because it doesn’t contain all of the important vitamins and minerals your cat needs, Dr. Wismer says. A bite now and then won’t hurt them, but it’s best to steer clear of tuna as a main source of your cat’s diet.

    If you believe you pet has ingested a toxic substance, call the ASPCA animal poison control center at 888-426-4435 or the Pet Poison Hotline at 855-213-6680. Both phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    obama and cat

    Cat Hair Traces Back to Mailing Explosive to Obama

    In a surprising turn of events, cat hair led to the arrest of a Texas woman who was accused of mailing homemade bombs to then-President Barack Obama and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in 2016.

    Evidence that helped authorities connect Julia Poff to the explosive devices included “cat hair found under an address label,” which was on a package sent to Obama, the Associated Press reported. (Other key items in tracking Poff were an “obliterated shipping label” with her address and a cigarette box she had purchased to make the device.)

    According to court filings from a Nov. 17 detention hearing, an FBI crime lab found the cat hair on the package to be “microscopically consistent” with the hair of one of Poff’s cats, the AP reported.

    Animal hairs, including cat hair, “can link a suspect or location to a crime of violence,” according to material on the FBI’s website. (Take, for instance, the 1994 murder of Shirley Duguay, a crime that was solved thanks to cat hairs found in the killer’s jacket lining.)

    “When an animal hair is found, it is identified to a particular type of animal and microscopically compared with a known hair sample from either an animal hair reference collection or a specific animal,” the FBI site notes. “If the questioned hair exhibits the same microscopic characteristics as the known hairs, it is concluded that the hair is consistent with originating from that animal.”

    Poff—who has been indicted by a grand jury on six counts, including mailing injurious articles and transporting explosives with the intent to kill and injure—reportedly “didn’t like” Obama.

    At the hearing, a federal agent testified that Poff was angry with Abbott because she did not receive support from her ex-husband when Abbott served as Texas Attorney General, the AP reported. Of the three packages Poff sent (the third was sent to the Social Security Administration near Baltimore), only Abbott opened his, the article stated. Luckily it did not detonate because “he did not open it as designed,” court records stated.

    Poff is currently being held at a Houston federal detention center, and a pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for early 2018.

    StressedCat

    5 Things That Are Stressing Out Your Kitty

    Sounds and smells we may enjoy or don’t think twice about can make our feline family members miserable. Cats have a heightened sense of smell and hearing that serves their wild counterparts well. But our homes are not the wild.

    Nobody can say precisely why your cat reacts to a certain stimulus, mostly because there’s not a lot of scientific research available on this subject. Still, experts agree it’s beneficial to identify sounds and smells that stress out your cat, and make necessary adjustments to your environment. The following are some of the most common irritants for cats.

    Thunderstorms and Fireworks

    Unexpected loud noises and sudden changes in air pressure likely alert cats to be on guard, says Lauren Demos, president of the American Association of Feline Practitioners. “They can warn of impending situations that may require the cat to fight or take flight.”

    A cat’s reaction to loud and abrupt noises is an evolutionary response, says Dr. Bruce Kornreich, associate director of the Cornell Feline Health Center at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. While humans also get startled by sounds, we can easily figure out that the noise won’t harm us, unlike cats. Cats may also equate loud noises with negative experiences, Kornreich says. And sometimes, there’s just no logical explanation for their reaction.

    While you can’t control every noise, you can pre-plan for certain situations, such as fireworks and thunderstorms. “I recommend confining your cat to a room where she feels comfortable and away from the noise,” says Adi Hovav, senior feline behavior counselor at the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York. “However, if she’s already found a hiding spot, consider leaving her there, as moving her to another spot may increase her stress.” If you do set up a quiet “sanctuary” room for your cat, make sure she has access to a litter box, Hovav adds.

    A white noise machine to mask the sound may be useful, too. “Or, offer her some quiet attention in the form of yummy treats or gentle petting,” Hovav says. “Not all cats are going to be comforted by being held if they are frightened or stressed, even if they enjoy being held under normal circumstances, so don’t force your cat if she’s not accepting of this type of attention.”

    Compression shirts designed for cats can also be helpful for short periods, as can synthetic pheromone sprays, collars, or diffusers, Demos suggests.

    High-Frequency Sounds

    Loud and startling thumps, bangs, and clanks aren’t the only noises that can stress cats. High-frequency sounds such as whistling tea kettles and even the sound of our voices can cause anxiety, says Dr. Jill Sackman, head of behavioral medicine service at Blue Pearl Veterinary Partners in various locations in Michigan.

    Scientists say cats hear a broad range of sounds, including high-pitched ones. This means cats can hear a lot of sounds we can’t, Kornreich says, such as “ambient sounds like fluorescent light bulbs, video computer monitors, dimmers on light switches, and whistling tea kettles.” (If you put your ear close enough to an LCD screen, you may be able to hear the buzzing.)

    Cats develop their super-sonic hearing at an early age. “Responses to sound are seen by 10 days of age, so cats are very in tune with the sounds happening around them,” says Dr. Amy Learn, a veterinarian with the Veterinary Referral Center in northern Virginia. Having acute hearing is essential for survival in the wild. “Those large, funnel-shaped ears are mobile and allow them to hear in ‘surround sound,’” she says. Since animals that cats prey on, like mice, communicate in high frequency, this makes sense.

    But what works well in the wild doesn’t necessarily translate well to domestic life. Unlike in the wild, cats have few places for escape. “Being bombarded by noises makes cats feel vulnerable,” Kornreich says.

    One important way to reduce potential stress associated with high-pitched (and low-pitched) sounds is to be mindful of where you place your cat’s litter box, Demos advises. “Try to locate the litter boxes away from the furnace or water softener, which can produce noises at unpredictable times, and in addition to being an auditory stressor, can have the potential to lead to litter box aversion.”

    Strong Scents

    We may find the aroma of peppermint invigorating, but it’s a strong scent, so your cat may not share your enthusiasm. “A cat’s sense of smell is roughly 14 times that of a human,” says Learn, who specializes in behavior medicine. Cats display a well-developed sense of smell at birth (as with their hearing), and by adulthood it eclipses ours.

    Nobody knows for sure why cats are sensitive to citrus, but Learn has a theory. “Cats have to eat meat,” she says. “There is no need to eat citrus or carbohydrates. Their sense of smell helps them to hunt, and preferentially leads them toward what they want to eat and away from things they don’t need.”

    Given kitty’s strong sense of smell, it may also be that the aroma is just too overwhelming. “Sweetness from the juice, sourness from the aroma, and bitterness from the peel mixed together and intensified…I know I would get a headache,” Learn says.

    And some citrus may even be toxic, she says. Provided your cat will even want to eat a piece of citrus fruit, first check to make sure what you’re offering is safe for cats. For example, the fruit of the orange is edible, but the skin and plant material can cause issues, according to the ASPCA.

    Be careful with non-food items, too. “Avoid using citrus-scented sprays or cleaners on their bedding, food bowls, and litter boxes,” Hovav advises.

    If a scent can’t be avoided, you can still work to reduce the stress it may cause to your cat. “For strong smells, minimizing indoor pollution by taking those activities outside is one option,” Demos says.

    Cleaning Agents and Essential Oils

    Cats are highly sensitive to aerosols, Learn says. “They have sensitive respiratory systems, and when they breathe these types of chemicals in, they can cause a reaction and even lead to an asthma attack or chronic bronchitis.”

    Cleaning agents heavily-scented with pine or bleach are also unpleasant, Hovav says. “It’s best not to use these types of cleaners, especially for the litter box. Instead, opt for a mild, pet-friendly cleaner, preferably one that is unscented. Look for enzymatic cleaners to help neutralize any unwanted pet odors.”

    Use caution with essential oils around your cat, too. They may be more than just a source of unpleasantness for your cat—some are also toxic. Examples include lemon oil and orange oil, the ASPCA warns.

    Dogs, Predatory Animals, and Other Cats

    Dogs top the list as the biggest source of anxiety-causing scents and sounds for cats, says Dr. Elyse Kent, owner of Elite Cat Care in Los Angeles. “It’s one of the big reasons I had a cat-only practice for so many years.”

    Second on Kent’s list is the smell of other cats’ urine. “Smell is how cats communicate with each other. When a cat smells another cat’s urine, it’s as if their privacy has been invaded.”

    Scents from dogs, predatory animals, and even other stressed or frightened cats can put kitty on edge. “Many of these smells likely come in the form of pheromones, which are chemical messengers cats detect through a specialized organ called the vomeronasal organ,” Demos says.

    Cats are both a prey and a predatory species, she explains. “Their nervous system has evolved to produce an appropriate physiological stress response to situations that might require action for self-preservation.”

    If your cat has an especially tough time with the smell of dogs, Demos says finding a feline-only veterinarian, or an AAFP certified Cat Friendly Practice that has separate waiting and exam areas for cats, can help lessen the stress.

    Cats Could Prevent Asthma In New-Borns

    The gene types that normally double the risk of asthma are neutralized when families with new-borns have a cat. This is the result of a study from the Danish Pediatric Asthma Center conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, Herlev-Gentofte Hospital and Næstved Hospital. The study has been published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

    The time just before and after a child is brought into the world is vital to whether the child will develop asthma – and possibly other diseases. This is the result of research conducted by the Danish Pediatric Asthma Center, COPSAC, which is a collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and Herlev-Gentofte Hospital, among others, and headed by Clinical Professor Hans Bisgaard. More precisely, having a cat in the house can be a deciding factor as to whether your child could develop asthma.

    Hans Bisgaard is excited by the result. Not because the result can be translated into concrete treatment right away, but because the study shows that a disease gene in the human body is turned on and off depending on the immediate surroundings.

    The results show that cats remove the increased risk of asthma among children with a specific variant of the 17q21 gene. The gene variant is the strongest known factor for whether a child will develop asthma. In addition, profound analyses of the researchers’ material show that cats do not just protect against asthma, but also against pneumonia and bronchitis among toddlers and children with this gene variant. This is linked up with the fact that the 17q21 gene is known to be involved in all three conditions.

    Together with the Næstved Hospital, a team of researchers from the Danish Pediatric Asthma Center have examined data from 377 Danish children of mothers suffering from asthma.

    The researchers have mapped the children’s genes and gathered data on the children’s surroundings throughout their childhood, among other things by taking samples from the children’s homes and by interviewing the parents.

    ‘What’s special about the results is that they document the interaction between genetics and the environment – how a disease gene in the body can be turned on and off depending on the immediate surroundings’, says Stokholm, Jakob – the principal author of the article published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

    Almost every third child in the study has the gene variant, just as many children of mothers with asthma have it.

    Using Dogs Doesn’t Work. One of the most interesting finds of the study also shows that only cats can prevent the development of asthma. Having a dog in the household doesn’t affect the child’s genes.

    ‘We still do not know why cats may be able to prevent asthma among this group of children, while dogs do not. Perhaps cats bring home different bacteria than dogs, and these bacteria affect the immune system. Perhaps cats affect the bacteria communities in the body, e.g. in the bowels, which many research results link to our health’, says Stokholm, J.

    ‘Also we do not know how much cat is required – or whether it has to be a particular type of cat’, Stokholm continues.

    Though this research sounds amazing and may have you ready to get a kitty for the baby, much more research is required before it makes sense to recommend getting a cat for asthma prevention. Having a cat may also have health-related drawbacks as well as risks.

    ‘It will be interesting to take this research further. If we are able to explain why cats can affect the genes, it may in the long run enable us to show how we can prevent asthma among these high-risk children’, says Stokholm.

    One of the next steps of the researchers at the Danish Pediatric Asthma Center is to study the children’s intestinal bacteria to look for more explanations or causes there.

    Always consult with your physician before introducing/exposing your new-born child to any pet. Don’t forget to have any new pet examined by a veterinarian as well being that some animals come with unknown medical histories.

    Read the article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

    Source via HealthSciences

    Whisker Fatigue in Cats: What it is and how you can help

    While “whisker fatigue” might sound like something you get from kissing a man who hasn’t shaved in awhile, it’s actually a condition that can affect you cats, causing them a good deal of stress. So what is whisker fatigue? Keep reading to learn more about the condition as well as find out how cool your kitty’s whiskers really are.

    WHY DO CATS HAVE WHISKERS?

    “Cat whiskers are extraordinary sensing hairs that give them almost extrasensory powers,” says Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut. Despite their evolution, whiskers (which scientists call tactile hairs or vibrissae), have remained as features on most mammals in some basic form.

    For cats, whiskers are much more than facial adornments that add to their cuteness, Marrinan says. They act as high-powered antennae that pull signals into their brain and nervous system. The ultra-sensitive sensory organs at the base of the whiskers, called proprioceptors, tell your cat a lot about her world. They provide your cat with information regarding her own orientation in space and the what and where of her environment. In these ways, he says, whiskers help your cat move around furniture in a dark room, hunt fast-moving prey (by sensing changes in air currents) and help to determine if she can squeeze into that incredibly tight spot between the bookcase and the wall.

    WHAT IS WHISKER FATIGUE?

    While cats can voluntarily “turn on” the sensory focus of their whiskers exactly where they want, Marrinan says, whisker receptors mostly respond to a cat’s autonomic system — the sympathetic and parasympathetic nerves that respond to the internal and external environment without conscious control (pupils constricting in response to bright light, for example).

    You can think of whisker fatigue as an information overload that stresses out your cat. Because whisker hairs are so sensitive, every time your cat comes into contact with an object or detects movement, even a small change in air current or a slight brush against her face, messages are transmitted from those sensory organs at the base of her whiskers to her brain, Marrinan says. That barrage of “messages” could stress out your cat, eventually causing what some people call whisker fatigue.

    However, Marrinan suggests that “fatigue” may not be the best description of the condition, since what your cat is feeling is probably more like distaste or aversion than soreness or actual fatigue. In fact, whisker stress is another term some people use for the condition.

    Not all feline vets think whisker fatigue is a real condition or cause for concern. Dr. Cathy Lund of City Kitty, a feline-only veterinary practice in Providence, R.I, questions the validity of whisker fatigue. While a cat’s whiskers do serve as very sensitive tactile sensors, she does not believe contact between whiskers and objects causes stress in cats. That said, stress, for whatever reason, is a real issue of concern for cat owners and vets, Lund says.

    WHAT CAUSES WHISKER FATIGUE?

    While your cat relies on her fetching facial antennae to navigate the world, she can’t tune out unnecessary messages the way we filter out background noise, Marrinan says. She inadvertently finds stimulation in the most common and ever-present situations, like at her food or water bowl. If her whiskers touch the sides of the bowl every time she dips her head to sip or eat, this can cause whisker fatigue, the theory suggests.

    Your cat’s behavior at her food and water bowl will tip you off that she is stressed, Marrinan says. Some signs to watch for include pacing in front of the bowls, being reluctant to eat but appearing to be hungry, pawing at food and knocking it to the floor before eating or acting aggressive toward other animals around food. Of course these behaviors can also be related to potentially serious health conditions like dental disease, oral tumors, gastrointestinal diseases, behavioral problems and more, so if you have any concerns about your cat’s well-being, you should make an appointment with your veterinarian.

    Marrinan says many vets, regardless of their opinions on whisker fatigue, agree that cats often find eating out of a bowl unappealing in general and providing a flat surface for meals is preferable.

    Whisker fatigue is not a disease (and is not caused by or related to any type of illness) and appears to manifest primarily with the repeated daily contact with food and water bowls, Marrinan says. However, a cat who is stressed is not happy, and if she avoids eating and drinking, she might become malnourished and/or dehydrated.

    HOW CAN WHISKER FATIGUE BE PREVENTED?

    Luckily, preventing or stopping stress related to whisker fatigue at feeding time is as easy as replacing your cat’s food and water bowls. At meal time, provide a flat surface or a wide-enough bowl for food so that her whiskers don’t touch the sides of the bowl, Marrinan says. In a pinch, a paper plate can serve as a suitable food dish, he adds.

    Most cats prefer a lip-less, large flowing water source, for drinking, he says. Ideally, cat parents should provide an automatic, fresh water source, which cats prefer “to an icky, stale bowl of water that might as well be from an old tire.”

    Some cat parents believe another solution is to trim their cats’ whiskers, but this is a no-no. “Trimming whiskers mutes their expression, dims their perceptions, and in general, discombobulates cats and annoys them,” Marrinan says. “I do not recommend trimming cat whiskers.”

    Source: PetMD.com