Chats with the Chatfields

Ep 23: Better Cat Care? Yep, that's possible!

February 23, 2022 Dr. Jen the vet and Dr. Jason Chatfield Season 1 Episode 23
Ep 23: Better Cat Care? Yep, that's possible!
Chats with the Chatfields
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Chats with the Chatfields
Ep 23: Better Cat Care? Yep, that's possible!
Feb 23, 2022 Season 1 Episode 23
Dr. Jen the vet and Dr. Jason Chatfield

Do you have a catio at your house?  You may have a dadio, but if you have a cat you need a catio!  Is your cat bored?  Could your cat be happier?  Join Dr. Jen the vet and Dr. Jason as they host Dr. Margie Scherk and turn the Chat room into Le chat room to talk all things feline!

Dr. Margie Scherk is a feline medicine specialist practicing in Toronto. She opened Cats Only Veterinary Clinic in Vancouver (the FIRST cat only practice in Canada!) and practiced there until 2008, publishing several clinical trials during that time. She has written a number of book chapters, is an active international speaker and enjoys teaching online courses. Dr. Scherk has served extensively in the American Association of Feline Practitioners, as well as other veterinary organizations. Her interests include all things feline, especially the study of analgesia, peculiarities of the digestive system and enabling positive interactions with cats.

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Thanks to our sponsor, FullBucket Veterinary Strength Supplements - the leader in digestive health for horses, dogs, and cats!

Share this episode with a friend who needs to hear it...or might be interested in the topic...or just to make their day brighter! :)

Show Notes Transcript

Do you have a catio at your house?  You may have a dadio, but if you have a cat you need a catio!  Is your cat bored?  Could your cat be happier?  Join Dr. Jen the vet and Dr. Jason as they host Dr. Margie Scherk and turn the Chat room into Le chat room to talk all things feline!

Dr. Margie Scherk is a feline medicine specialist practicing in Toronto. She opened Cats Only Veterinary Clinic in Vancouver (the FIRST cat only practice in Canada!) and practiced there until 2008, publishing several clinical trials during that time. She has written a number of book chapters, is an active international speaker and enjoys teaching online courses. Dr. Scherk has served extensively in the American Association of Feline Practitioners, as well as other veterinary organizations. Her interests include all things feline, especially the study of analgesia, peculiarities of the digestive system and enabling positive interactions with cats.

SUBSCRIBE to our show on Youtube or on our website:

Follow us on instagram @Chatfield_Show

Thanks to our sponsor, FullBucket Veterinary Strength Supplements - the leader in digestive health for horses, dogs, and cats!

Share this episode with a friend who needs to hear it...or might be interested in the topic...or just to make their day brighter! :)


cats, indoors, talking, people, birds, feline, litter boxes, food, eat, midge, risks, life, vet, home, hunt, lower urinary tract, creatures, dogs, called, patios


This episode is sponsored by full bucket veterinary strength supplements.


Welcome to this episode of chats with the chatfields. This is a podcast to expand your idea of what impacts veterinarians, pet owners and basically all animal lovers in the galaxy as humans. We are your hosts. I'm Dr. Jen the vet.


And I'm Dr. Jason.


And if you have not yet subscribed to our show, why not just go to And subscribe today. And if you want to reach us and you got a message full of love and positivity, you can find me at


And for all you other guys and gals that want to talk to keep it real or you can reach me at


Okay, well, we have a little bit of a new thing here friends in the chat room, we had a small hiccup with technology because that happens. And so we but we had recorded such a great interview. It was great. Wasn't it Jason? It was outstanding. It was it was I might say it was purrfect.


I would I would not put that past you to say and but never say that myself.


Okay. Well, it was.


I get it though. It was perfect.


It was perfect. And it was so paw-some that we we had to put it out. But we had to record a separate intro. So without further ado, here is our interview when Dr. Margie shirk entered the chat room. Well, I call her like a feline phone-a-friend, but she is actually a veterinarian who is board certified in feline medicine. Wow. And she is someone who's so passionate about cat care and felines in general, that I could think of no one really better than I would have in the chat room to talk to us about some some issues that cat lovers face routinely. And you know, kind of to give some tips about Gosh, how to how to be a better employee for your cat.



What Do you mean employee for your cat? I don't I don't I don't



like cats have staff.



Oh, of course I get it. All right. That's very true. It is.



So please give a warm welcome into the chat room to my friend. Dr. Margie Scherk Okay, how are you?



Very well. Thank you. How are you guys?



Oh, excellent. Fantastic. excited. Very excited.



Well, sorry. So am I I'm looking forward to having a lively discussion. Because we're going to talk about something I think, Jennifer, that is not a is that that not everybody agrees on?



Right, actually. And so I think that's a wonderful thing. So I do and maybe you find this, I don't know. But I find that when I talk about things related to cats as companion animals. There's not a lot of middle ground, like people are either over here, or they're way over there. Right and equally passionate from both sides. Because they everyone loves the cat. Right about politics.



You guys, not surprisingly, have lost me now. So are we talking about one particular issue or thought process? Or like in general, right people over here? Or they're over there? What's happening here? I feel that you guys, you're talking about something secret? But



I don't know. No, I think what we're talking we're talking about about one issue. I mean, otherwise, we're talking about if we're talking about a whole bunch of things we'd be talking about, you know, the the dogs versus cats which are better kind of thing, you know, sort of thing, which is, which is a you know, a whole different can of worms, and we're not even going to touch on that. We're going to Can I can I guess means here? Alright, so let's talk. Yeah, we're going to talk about what are the benefits? And what are the risks of keeping cat strictly indoors? What are the risks of that's something because that's not something that we generally look at, is it? You know, are we keeping them safe? Or are we keeping them stressed?



Right. And so I what I what I find fascinating about your approach to this and when we first met years ago at a meeting in Omaha, that's what I was just blown away with was you have a very different perspective than what the traditional outlook is on cats. And I love that right. So fair, like disclosure listeners. Dr. shirk and I don't always agree on everything. But here we are talking about it. And we're gonna be friends at the end of this podcast, as we were as we were friends at the beginning, because both of us are interested in the cats but I think it's an a unique up Roach when we talk about what are the risks of keeping your cats indoors? Because typically the approach is, what are the risks to keeping your cats outdoors? Right? Right? We don't We usually approach it from the other perspective. And so I think this will be really incredible. And I can't wait to talk about it.



It's a little counterintuitive if you think I'm keeping my cat indoors, and it's actually can be more risky. But if you ask any of the lay people out there, they'd be like, oh, yeah, outside is definitely more risky. Got all these external factors? I can't. Yeah. And so so that is a very unique approach to it. I think that yeah. I for one, and ready to learn. Yeah, let's, let's hit Like always, right.



Okay. All right. So um, so first, I want you to back in 2019, there was a really nice article that anybody can can access. If you're, if you're watching this live visually, rather than just listening to it. You'll see on the slide, there's a URL at the bottom,



and we'll put we'll put that in the show notes. Everyone don't ever Yeah, road, if you're listening, I know this is yeah, we'll put it up.



Please, please do not please do not be trying to watch this while you're driving. So you know, it's in it's called, it's by the International cat care, which is a really amazing group out of the United Kingdom, but it's something which I'll mention it again in just a second, but it's called indoor only, or outdoor access. And there are huge cultural differences in in the United Kingdom, for instance, you know, the majority of cats are allowed outside and to keep a cat strictly indoors is considered inhumane, because you're preventing the cat from being a cat. And if we look at most of Europe, it's, it's the same thing. Even in places like South Africa, and where, you know, there might be some serious risks to cats, and in Australia, New Zealand, where cats, where they have very, where the risks might be to the wildlife, unique wildfire, which is exactly which some very unique wildlife, where they, we want to make sure that we're not decimating the wildlife there, or anywhere else, they still think that cats should grow outside, it really is only in the United States, and in Canada, where we've got this idea of indoor is safer. And in your adjacent, you talked about some of the thoughts about why the benefits of being indoors and and what we reduce the risk from that. Yeah, keeping them safe as is means you're responsible pet parent. And those things really include some infectious diseases and being hit by a car and getting your sights with,



I just worried about people that don't like cats, like, you know, people that don't like cats, they, you know, they can do ugly things to your cat.



And they can do they can do that to your kids. And they can do that too. Yeah. And they can do that to your to your you know, they can slice your tires and stuff, too. If they're if they they're, they're anti us. So, you know, it's a question of discount. Nobody told me my time.



That's right. Okay. All right.



You know, it's just it's a question of, you know, like, we have to keep our how risk averse Are you and already maybe we're helicopter parenting these these poor, these poor cats to death. And if you think about, like, I just want to go back to the beginning of



love, isn't it? Isn't it? Isn't that what cats love? Is a human constantly hovering over them?



100% No, no, you know, when and if you think about, like with with with COVID. We've essentially all been dealing with cabin fever. And, you know, at the beginning when we were in lockdown, and the like, and you know, and this is and people kicking back and fighting back against being restricted is all about this because Cabin Fever is it you know, is it's real. It's real. It's very real. And this and the symptoms of cabin fever or lethargy, sadness or depression, difficulties concentrating, lack of patience. craving food, or alcohol.



Right. The court the quarantine 15, right. Yeah.



Or was the COVID-19 Yeah, decreased motivation, difficulties waking up frequent napping, hopelessness. And that pretty much describes indoor cats



and me, right. That's like, I'm waiting for something that I didn't have four years ago. I don't know. All right. I know exactly. But yeah. Okay. Yeah.



So this. So that is one of the risks of 100% indoor cat, right is that they're going to fall into that is that is that we're saying? We're sure it has happened fever. Yeah,



because the thing is, you know, cats normal behaviors. Do not include doo doo. are not restricted to food and safety at all.



They basically do whatever they want, or



they investigate. You know, if you think about if you think about cats, they're incredibly inquisitive. Right? We all know that the curious thing, but, but then also the the the other other side of that is cats have nine lives. So this is, so being curious isn't necessarily all bad, yeah. But they have to be able to, they have to be able to explore, cats have to eat eight to 10 small meals a day, none of this bowl thing because when they eat, they hunt a bird, it's not big enough to share with anybody there that and it's only a essentially a snack. I mean, they snack all day long. Yeah, and, and in order to catch that bird, they have to be hunting all the time, which means they have to be strategizing to catch a bird, they have to be able to adjust their strategy on the fly, pun intended, ie tactics. So they have to, you know, they're, they're mentally extremely busy. And the rest of the time, they're trying to make sure that they don't get hunted, and get killed by anybody. So we have to be able to allow them their normal behaviors. And so the question really becomes, are we meeting their their needs when we keep them indoors? Because, you know, health is health is is it has got multiple components to it. And that is, oops, that is to in order to reduce stress, or print me I should say health is physical health. Right, right. And getting not not being hit by a car is good. Right? Not being poisoned, is good. But there's also mental, and yes, social components to that. And so we're



I mean, if you're, if you're just sitting around drooling into a cup every day, there's not a lot of mental stimulation going on. Exactly.



I mean, you could you could be in a vegetative state, you could be in solitary confinement, and having all your needs met, except you don't have any freedom you don't have.



You don't thrive, you don't arrive at the exactly right. Yeah. And I think that's a great point. Because a lot of people, I think a lot of folks get cats as companion animals, thinking that they're low maintenance. And you know, they don't really have to engage with the cat, but they can have the cat. And I think that what we were finding from from a lot of a lot of data is, that's not really true. They might be more like higher maintenance, then then then a French Bulldog. If you're gonna truly make an effort to meet their, their needs, and support them. Yeah, I think that they're complicated little creatures. So yeah,



yeah, they definitely are. And, you know, we've got all this, this, this crazy memes out there. Eight out of 10 vets agree it's a myth that cats need to roam to be happy or that keeping cats indoors is depriving them of their natural lifestyle. You know, that's, that's, this is just a meme. And it's simply, you know, not true. When we look at the increased risks from living indoors, it's significantly longer than the risks from going outside. And before you know, oftentimes people say, Yeah, well, cats quotes, you know, cats are outdoor cats don't live as long as indoor cats. And to which I want to say, we aren't comparing the same data. We're not asking the same questions because cats when you're talking about our cat with a home who goes outside, but also is vaccinated is fed is de wormed hit, you know, a cared for cat who goes outside can live absolutely just as long or maybe even longer and have fewer illnesses than a cat who is strictly indoors. A cat was that where you get these data's like that, where they really live like three years or six years or whatever, those are those who are feral. Those are unharmed cats. Right? And he



has an affair, but even if they get fed, right, even if someone immunity counts, yes, even if even if they're getting fed, they're not getting routine preventive care. They're not getting routine shelter from you know, the extreme elements as they might be, which I know, you know what extreme elements are. Dr. shirk because you're in Vancouver, and I'm in Florida. So we're at the opposite ends of the extreme views. View. So yeah, so I think that's a good point is that when, and I don't know, especially with feline stuff, when we look at like feline environmental stuff, as far as like the cats environment, and they're comparing lifestyle and, like length of life You have to make sure that you're comparing apples to apples and not apples to kiwis, right? Like that's, that's a tricky thing, but but we're going to take a very short break. And we're going to come back. And we're going to talk about what cat lovers can do to kind of begin to mitigate some of this and what should you do and should you do it tomorrow? All right, hang with us. We'll be right back. Hey, everyone, and the chat room. It's Dr. Jenn the vet. And I'm here with my friend and colleague, Dr. Keith lassen. He's got an incredibly interesting story all about full bucket health. So Dr. Key, can you share the secret backstory of full bucket



about 10 years ago, my college roommate and that school, housemate, Dr. Rob Franklin and I were collaborating on some cases, both of us were struggling with diarrhea in some of our patients, whether it was after a procedure or after, after an illness, sometimes associated with antibiotics sometimes associated with just that physiologic stress of surgery or, or, or changes in lifestyle. And and so as we were talking about things, we thought, well, well, what's the latest and greatest research for being able to support digestive health. So we created a formulation, but we didn't want to just create a formulation, we also wanted to create a movement in animal health, for being able to help animals in need through the use of bar products that we developed. And that that really has resulted in our one for one giving program, which we're really proud of, as much as we are our formulations for dogs versus cats.



And so if you want to know more about their one for when giving a whole bucket, or if you're interested in better supporting your dog, cat or horses, digestive health, head over to full bucket to learn more. And if you've got any questions, their website is chock full of all kinds of tips and how tos, and their incredible customer service team is always ready to answer any question you might have. Okay, back in the back in the cat room on this episode, see what I did there? Jason.



I I almost I almost missed it. But it's what you need to like,



laugh Yeah, or it's just the origin. It's just the French version.



Ooh, yes. Shot room. Yes. Okay. So okay, so room shots room? Yeah, I don't say it right. I don't speak the fridge shop. Lucia. Okay. Well, now now I'm multilingual. But there's anyone who's confused about that. Okay, so So we've talked about some of the downside of and some of the specific downsides to sort of creating your cat in your house. And, and what that can lead to as far as physical ailments. Yeah, so let's, let's pick it up there.



Yeah, sure. And I mean, like we're talking, we're not just talking about obesity out of boredom about the fact that in some event can result in diabetes that can exacerbate joint problems. We're also talking about lower urinary tract disorders and idiopathic cystitis, which is the main main main main cause of lower urinary tract problems and calves. We're talking about things like hyperthyroidism, we're talking about dental lesions, we're talking about, you know, behavior problems and problem behaviors. Those two things being quite different skin problems, trauma, you know, some of the things that we're trying to protect them from outside like poisons. Where do you think the majority of the poisons are in our homes



underneath the scene in my house?



And what about what about you know, what about falling and, and, and, and getting, you know, falling off a trauma, you know, falling off a bookshelf, blind you know, blind courts from your you know, opening and closing your blinds, electrocution, secondhand smoke, deadly for tax, you know, real problem, all of the lovely things that we burn for aromatherapy, a lot of those in particular, like the volatile or the essential oils, essential oils really problematic for cats. And they have no way of getting away from this stuff. You know, we're we're essentially just asking them to be mini me's rather than let them be cats. And do cat things. Yeah. Yeah. Well, I don't



disagree with that either. You know, and but I do think it's, it's, it's, it's interesting and worth noting that cat cats are i and maybe see if you would agree with this, you guys. I think cats are the most adaptable creatures on the earth. Now I'm not saying we need to ask them to adapt to like incense burning 24/7 and a house. But But I just wonder too about how well do they adapt or not the because it's sounding a little bit like, they don't all adapt well, yeah.



Because, you know, I mean, they're masters of disguise, they appear to be adapting. But internally, they're having immunological, neurological, all kinds of issues that are making them sick. So you think about these cats with inflammatory bowel disease, which I've talked about lower urinary tract disease, and asthma, and you know, just that those are stress, aggravated conditions. Yeah, and those are, so that can really be a problem. So the cats like to be safe. So it's this real dichotomy they like to, because they are small prey, who are also predators, they're really kind of like meat, they like to feel in control. And so they, they, you know, they, they want to have decreased stress in their lives, but at the same time, they want variety. So they have to have an enriched environment, which is where we, as pet parents really can step in, if we're going to keep our cats indoors. Okay, good. To see.



I was wondering about that, because, you know, I live in Florida, and every freshwater every bit of freshwater might have gators in it, every bit of space that's not freshwater might have gators in it. And so I worry about that for cats. And then the last two cats I had came to me because they needed a home and I had a home and they had been altered by their previous owners, right? In kind of, like a little bit odd ways, but And so people said, oh, you can't put them outside. Well, I mean, what like so they're just doomed or is there a way that things I can do as an owner if I'm in a situation where my cat really shouldn't go outside for reasons other than my opinion, right? What am I going to do about that? How do I make sure my cats Okay?



Absolutely. I mean, what we want to do then is you know, give them the best of worlds worlds you know, how can cats have the natural stimulation of being outside while enjoying the security of inside and we can do that by teaching them to you know, walk on on a walk wearing a harness you know collars don't work cats can slip out of those they need to be you know, there's there's good there are some good and less good harnesses out there. And you know, we they can have window boxes, patios, so cat secure fencing, they should definitely have doors where they can come in and out of their own will even into those patios, because they may all right, well do they may be frightened or whatever,



you're you're on a roll and I'm sorry to interrupt but I think maybe that's one way I can get it on this right because you can show passionate with this cat stuff. Listen, do I see a picture of a cat being walked on a on a on a leash with a harness that that's that actually it's a thing give my ignorance right that actually can work?



It actually can work if it's if it's done right. And it probably doesn't work for all cats. But you know, there's the



it doesn't work for all dogs either.



You know, a lot of people who carry their dogs around to I mean, it's some cats are okay with being in a backpack? Me? Oh, gosh, there's all kinds of adventure cats. That's a whole nother great thing. Right. But the British Columbia SPCA has got a really good video on how to teach your cat to walk on a leash. So you know. That's so that's something you can you can check out at some on the timeline. But again, I will definitely continue your cat for a drag.



That's exactly right. That's That's what I'm thinking. And I'm worried that's a lot. I know. What are you talking about putting a cat that's my cat would never go on a lease blah, blah, blah. Right. And so I think there are I think I think you might be fighting a whole bunch of misconceptions as I'm sure that you're used to or been there done. Now. You're not telling me I knew. All right. So,



okay, so I have to tell you, when I was in vet school, I had a friend of vet school, sissy Burnside. If you're listening, this is your life. Right now. She had two cats. She had the Midge who was a Persian, and oh my god, what was the giant cat? She had another really large kitty. And she would she walked them one harnesses but not together, even though they live together. But she's like, she's like, Oh, no, that's a train wreck. You don't want to see that. And so she would walk each of them. The bear was the bear the image of the bear,



and name for a huge, huge cat, isn't it? Yeah. And it



wasn't fat. He was just big boned. Like, he was just a big thick lady. And she would be like, no, no, I'm running late because I'm still walking the Midge. Yeah, she was walking her cats because she lived in a little apartment. She didn't Want them out? Supervised? You were in



vet school? So like, this is like a very, very long time ago, right? Oh, God way before ahead of the curve, right? Yeah.



But she said because she the Midge had some behavior issues, right, the middle of the a Persian and had some behavior issues. And if the Midge didn't get walked then there would be pee in the house where shouldn't be? Yeah, but but she didn't want to let them unsupervised. Because like I said, she was in an apartment complex. Yeah, so she was just afraid of the neighbors doing something or really, were okay. In her mind. She was like, nobody's gonna steal the Midge. But somebody might pick up the bear and take them home. And so she walked DME which I think is, I just find it fascinating. So yeah, okay, so that's the thing.



It's, it absolutely is the thing. And you know, the other the other thing too is I mentioned patios, and there's definitely a thing in fact, again, the there's all kinds of plans you can get and and the like to build great, you know, really simple or really elaborate patios. And, you know, you can this is, you know, I'm just showing a bunch of pictures. And yeah, I mean, you can do some pretty, pretty cool, fun and funky things, just even putting some wire, bending some wire over over the top, over the top of a fence, you know, kind of thing and like by putting a board over the fence so that it's wider. And, you know, this is so that you cats can still get outside but be completely protected. Yeah. But uh, you know, I mean, even if you're in the apartment, like your, like your classmate was, you can there's still you can you there's still things you can do.



Well, but see, that's what I think is interesting. So, you know, there's a little bit of a stigma associated with, if you if you go to these links for your cat, then then you know, there's something wrong with that. But people do that all the time for dogs, because you should have a yard for your dog. And if you don't, we automatically presume that you're going to walk that dog at least once every day. Right? So they get



outside way more than once a day. Well, I



know. But that's like, yeah, assumption. And so what is wrong with the expectation being that you're going to create kind of this Shangri La for your cat? Similar to the yard for your, for your dog? So I think I think that's really, that's why I say like, don't get a cat because you think they're low maintenance?



No, they take somebody's art, because if you're going to keep them indoors, you know, there's a really great resource on the American Association of feline practitioners website, which is Cat, you know, cat And it's on that, that if you go to the guidelines, and you go to environmental needs, you know, it lists sort of the five pillars of the of environmental needs and keeping a cat indoors takes work. If you want to keep that cat mentally and physically healthy. It's not as simple. Here's some food, here's litter, here's water, right? I've gone for the weekend. Yeah, oh, my gosh, no, absolutely not. And the cats, you know, you have to have multiple, you have to have duplicates, or more than two bowls, you'd have to have multiple, multiple water stations, you have to have multiple litter boxes. So they have to be cleaned. At least once, you know, at least once a day, right? Just like that's I mean, who wants to go into you know, if you go to a movie theater, remember, remember those? I don't remember the movie theater for so long. Thanks. You go to a movie theater or public place and you and you walk into the bathroom. And if you open the door to the cubicle, and it's not been flushed? What do you do?



Go to the next one? Exactly.



way of doing it rather than watching it really goofy because our sense of smell is only about one 200 Plus good as a cat. We don't go in there in our bare feet and then lick our feet afterwards.



No, no. Well, I don't know.



Well, maybe



judge We don't judge here in the chat room.



We do if you're doing that we are doing



we might but no, because that was such a great point about the litter boxes because I struggle with clients all the time, because they'll come in with a behavior issue with their cat and like the number one behavior she would cats is their urinating inappropriately, right? Like not in their box. So we call it inappropriate. But really, the cat's telling you something, right? So if we rule out any any medical problem, and then I say to them I'm like, Well, you know, what is it what's the rule you should have two and a half litter boxes for each cat. And they should be big and when I say that to people, they're like No, no, I got a big one. And I'm like, does it have a lid? Because if it has a lid it's not big enough, right? Like because those ones they sell with the lids and like never put a lid but get those things that go under the bed for storage. Are those flat things



or letterbox gift wrapped box letterbox Yeah, get wrapped boxes and clear and colorless so that the cat can see an exit. And if you've getting like a great big storage one, you should cut down the sides so that it's so that it's low enough that they can get in and out easily think about traditional litter box is about five or six inch tall edge, which is about that that's all the way up to a cat's belly. Just imagine if every time you wanted to go to the to the bathroom, you had to climb a fence that went up, right up to your groin. Yeah, you know, it just there's so many things litter box cut so many things that are available in pet stores are designed for people. They're not designed for the creature, right that they are. Who's going to use them and what



litter boxes like oh, like just dreadful. 100%? Like because the whole like enclosed thing? Tear. No, that's like a porta potty for a person. And how often do we like to go into a porta potty? Never like never. Right? And so so for the cat. So that's like, the first thing I do is that people don't have enough litter boxes, the litter boxes are too small, and they're not as good as the kid is cleaning. Today, the teenagers cleaning them once a week at most, let alone taking all the litter out, you know more frequently than they ought to once a month. No, right but Scoop it. And then once a week dump the litter put at least these are my recommendations when your cat is trying to tell you something.



Also, you know, there's all these goofy types of litter out there. What Oh, yeah, nature, sand and sand. And why are we using anything other than those? Oil? You know, and I got it on the 21st floor of an apartment building and you don't want to hold all this stuff downstairs? Or maybe you know, maybe you're not allowed to put it in the garbage or something, you know, with then just double bag it. But it's flushable that flushable do not work for many, many No, no, you for some. But they you know, you think about when you walk a few steps on a piece of some of these litters in the middle of the night. Like stepping on a piece of Lego right?



Yeah. Yeah, thank you cool with a



hooded litter boxes, because it's something I'm also pretty passionate about. Some cats are cool with it. But the issue I have with litter boxes is clients forget about stupid. Because they they you know, because they're not having to see or smell what's in it. Yeah. Yeah, I



agree. I totally agree. So so so if you're going to have your cat, whether it's by choice, or by obligation, that you're going to have them indoors, and I advocate for indoors, but I advocate for indoors in this way, right. Like don't just have a cat in your house, make sure that cats going to be super happy and never never necessarily looking to leave. Although they are right. Like even my fatty my last cat I had, she didn't like to go out and the neighbor I lived in but she would go sit on the front porch. And she could leave if she wanted there was there was no like screened in thing because she would just go sit out there and she take a little cat bath for a half hour. And then she'd come back to the door and meow she went back in that's That was her big adventure that when we moved to the farm, I said I don't want to do litter boxes anymore. And so but the farm was fenced so she couldn't get out other cats couldn't get in. And she became a new cat. She was the police. Because whenever you're doing something on the farm, there was the fat one right there and looking at you no matter where it was. And it was



10 of your greatest supervising. Yeah. And criticizing. You know, you're not you're not doing that, right. But the other the I mean, do be aware too, that when cats are outside, birds of prey can pick them off as well. So it's you know, this is a this is something which you know, takes me to the next point, which is the concern about cats and decimating wildlife, not just in Australia and New Zealand where they have you know, Australia where they have all these amazing creatures that are don't exist anywhere else, but in our in our own backyards and to that.



So do you think that's true? Do you think that's true?



Which what like do you think? Yeah. This isn't this is an interesting thing. There wasn't really a Let's go. Let's go with the let's go with that. There was a really neat study done by National Geographic looking at which you may or may not be aware of this was from on George George's Jekyll Island because Oh, yeah, Jekyll Island is a is a migratory pathway for birds. So it's very important that birds be able to land there safely, you know, refuel and then move on rather than get wiped out. And so they were looking at the island's feral cat population and they put cameras on these on these cats. The ones that weren't totally wild, but the ones that were, you know, community cats. And what they found with the kitty cams is that, in fact, the cats couldn't be bothered with the birds because of course, they're much more work they fly away to work, right. Yeah, exactly. They are far more likely to go after after that, that the mice the rodents and and to go after the lizards and frogs and you know, the things that scamper, which again, we are complete and utter hypocrites because we go, you go when, you know, Kitty when it's when it's a road and we say,



Okay, we'll get some more. Right, right.



But I will say like when when the when the fat one was here and out at the farm, I didn't even really because you don't notice what's absent, right. And there had not been cancer before. And so I didn't I didn't even notice but the fat when the fat one passed on, right? She She went to see Jesus for dinner of her own accord. She had a great life. I think I extended her life by actually moving to the farm and having her be running around like a fool outside. But after a couple of years, I noticed we were inundated with with lizards. The birdhouses that were here from the previous owners actually started having Tweety birds go to them. And so I thought that's totally anecdotal. Right? There's, I'm like, That's not I didn't do data collection. But I thought I hadn't even noticed that. You know, we we didn't have those lizards. We didn't have the little frogs didn't have all this stuff. And so, so I'm not sure about that. I don't.



Yeah, this is it. Because we don't we you know, it wasn't just there will be other things that changed as well, during that time period. You were just aware of the one thing that changed. Yeah, yeah, multifactorial, for sure. But the but a group out of Australia created these birds be safe colors that kind of look like clown colors. So let's be electric. They're just, they're very brightly colored. There's always you know, red and orange in them, because that's what birds birds can see. And they put these on, it's kind of like a big scrunchie that you put on over the breakaway collar that your cat looks like as a scar. Or if it's really it really is, what it what it is and what they found in like two two studies. And I will tell you, again, anecdotally from my home, that these suckers work like crazy. My cat like the cats can still catch rodents, but they can't their their ability to catch birds is markedly reduced. Because the birds, we all know the bells don't work. Right, right, put a bow on a cat's collar doesn't work. Right. And that's because birds, that's not how birds you sound. Yeah, birds use color, then, you know, respond to movement. And so when they see the color that attracts them as or that warns them rather in that way. So that's a really, that's a really big deal.



Now, and again, like I would say, again, we're not talking about 150 cats that are you know, cats that are living behind McDonald's, right? We're talking about your pet cat, that you're that's going for an adventure. So again, it's getting the preventive care it's getting it has the collar on and that that's not talking about.



Yeah, it is nonetheless, because cats have their drive to hunt is permanently turned on. Yeah, if they even if they're well fed, you know, they will, they will will will still kill if because because it's because they eat small meals and because they have that that the oil into it, they've got the drive the drive to hunt. But you can also there was a really recent paper actually February of 2021 that shows that play is a successful non restrictive way to limit hunting by cat so you can if you play with them for that they if you play with them for five to 10 minutes of a day and preferably, you know, over you know multiple periods but five to 10 minutes a day resulted in in 25% reduction of prey animals brought home not just like the birds be safe color helps with the birds, but with respect to the other the creatures the land limited creatures. So that that that will really drop



so they were they were tired of hunting because if that had been simulated,



well it's this is and this is one of the five pillars that the environmental needs guidelines on refers to is that you have to give them predatory the opportunity for predatory play. And that it and and so not your hands. Please



bye bye. Talk about an ego talk about an ego you have to give the cat the opportunity to feel superior and hunt successfully. So what Do you think about those, those those, like feeding things like the not puzzle feeders, because that's for dogs, but you know those? What do you think about those? Okay, she's getting something so no puzzle



puzzle feeders. Oh, yeah. Yeah. And so you're referring to in particular the I think, the one by Dr. Liz bales, which is Doc and Phoebe are for the indoor hunting. Yeah,



I mean, I wasn't but yeah, exactly. That's exactly. Yeah, what I'm talking about is Yeah, duck, duck bales has that one. But are so those are those effective for the behavior that you're talking about? Like, Oh,



for sure. And I mean, any kind of, you know, homemade or whatever puzzle Yeah, lots of different things, to make it to make them it to have no free lunch to make them work for their food, because that's how they're wired. Instead of having, instead of having bowls around that they can, it's just an endless buffet, they don't appreciate it, if they didn't have to work for it, they actually have to work for and they can eat when they want to. But the quantities that are out and this is really important are very, very small. For instance, like that up for for this, this may be a piece of information that? Well, I'll just ask you, how many given that given that the majority of dry food, I mean, there's certainly variation in the caloric density, how many calories a piece of dry food as varies a little bit from food to food, but in general, it's two to three calories per piece. Okay? How many pieces of dry food is equivalent to a mouse?



Oh, God, I have no idea.



10 to 15?



Not very, not very many. If I had to based on what my cats eat, like, I think no judging right in this in this no judging. There's a safe space. So I actually what would matter, but they get a bowl of food, right? And several, several different roles. But one of them is like, Hey, make sure they have something to eat, and it's much of dry food, but when you watch them go eat, so they don't eat that much like two or three bites, right? And then like, I'm done with this, right? And you know, and so I would have guessed, you know, not not nearly as many as you would think so, yep, that's



yeah, spot on recently. So you know, it's really not much it's 10 to 15. And when it can just keep eating and eating, eating or eats too frequently, or eats too long. That's another sign of strength. They get names like, rest



if they get Yeah, then like, just like so everyone knows the fat one was not actually fat. She was fat when I got her but she wasn't really fat. She was just a stocky little thing. So yes, sorry. But that was her name, because her name was Angel when I got her and I said, we're that's not it. She was not. Yeah, so. Okay, so I want to ask well, I have one more question. So we're coming, because we're coming to the end of our time. But, but I wanted to ask you, because I see this all the time, the the fluted, right, feline lower urinary tract disorder, and the relationship with that to sort of chronic stress and chronic dehydration. So how can we support that if we don't have opportunity to let our cats go drink from a puddle? Or if we don't think that's safe? Or we don't want to do that? How are we addressing that inside? Because I mean, I can't make them drink? Right?



Well, okay, so a couple of things. The role of dehydration in lower urinary tract is the majority of lower urinary tract disorders and cats are from stress period. Okay, that's 65% of storing across all ages. And when we're talking about the role of dehydration in I mean, overall, in health, it's bad, but when specifically, dehydration plays a role in crystal formation. And that's only that's only about 15% of the cases of all the cases of lower urinary tract disorder. Okay, the way to nonetheless, water is life and Hydration is key across all at for everything, not just for Crystal crystals or stones, urinary tracts. First off canned food, you can't be canned food canned food is about is about 85% water, which is the same as a bird or a mouse. Okay, so that is that that is really good. Secondly, plus it's more animal protein. Secondly, we want to have multiple fresh water sources around the house in safe locations or locations where a cat feel safe or there's not a lot of traffic. There's there's no appliance that makes a sudden noises. There's no children running by or a dog, you know at it. And thirdly, you can use this stuff called nutrient enriched water. Yeah. Is is it's called hydro care. And if that's You don't add it to the water you offer that on itself yeah not instead of but on its own so to be water there should be nutrients in which water and then all of your different food puzzles for food and and multiple times a day canned food which you can use food puzzles for it but anyway so it's this nutrient rich water in in the one you know a couple of studies have been done it's not they've been doing that they were done in healthy cats not in cats with chronic kidney disease or something but they found that those cats ate 50 or drank pardon me in 50% More took in 50% more liquid than cats with water on their own the clean water thing is incredibly important the I like really like using like salad bowl sized bowls you know like big wow big goal okay and they get you know what washing them out regularly freshening the you know not refreshing the water completely changed dumping it in a place like Florida I want to have add ice to the water some cats love circulating water fountains Yeah, that and that's great. There's also there's also you know if you if you want it there's also a an intelligent bowl which will help you measure how much water Oh, yeah. Is drinking. What's that? Aqua fellow Aqua



falafel. Yeah, that's new. That's yeah, that's



and that's, that's really fun and funky.






lots of uses. So lots of different things there. Yeah,



I also found there was a company when I was at the Global Pet Expo. Well, two years ago. Thanks COVID. And there was a company that was launching this bottled water for your cat. And it was that nutrient enriched I guess or or electrolyte enriched? Anyway, they'd studied to see and I was like, that's one bridge too far for me. You know, but, but I'm not sure that that's significantly different than the approach of that Hydra.



Hydra care, I think. Yeah, I think I think it is. But it nonetheless. I mean, again, it's not it certainly isn't for everybody. And you know, when I was sent some samples, my cats all went yuck. Not touching this game. I pass the samples on and, and the people I pass them on to my cat loves it. And it's and it's great. So yeah, it's it's another option. Yeah. One other thing is, you know, what we call deadly Duo's, if you have those bulls in you may think your cat is fine with it. If you've got the walls where it's like the food and The Waterboy kind of thing, you may think your cat is fine with it, because they're using it. It doesn't mean they're fine with it, it means that that it is a those are essential resources, food and water are essential resources, and therefore they will use it. But it's still stressing them out. Cats don't drink anywhere near where they eat in nature. So you know, water bowls should be their own separate thing. multiple places throughout the house. food bowls should be their own separate thing. multiple places throughout the house. Multiple and separated resources.



Interesting. Interesting. All right.



Should be nowhere near water



that goes without saying because that's just yucky. That's just yucky. For sure. But



I mean, if you think about if you think about your room, we'd like having a ensuite bathroom. We'd like having our computer right there. We like having art in other words



or toys, but I don't. I don't eat next. Like I don't sit on the toilet to eat.



Absolutely not. But so I would hope not. No, just be gross. Yes. And that's



what I'm saying. Like for the cat. I can just see cats sticking their nose up and be like, Well, my choice is starve to death. Or go eat over there. You know? So, Jason, like what? Like you got you got a question? Or like anything?



No, I don't have a question I revamped. I was loving the I was loving to wet cat food is 99% She said, If anyone has opened a can of cat of canned cat food would say you're wrong. It's at least 130% water because you get your hands open. It's gross. But yeah, never thought about that. Hey, that's actually a great thing to be wet. Yeah, and to help them with their



big deal. I'm gonna up my I usually tell people to 70% So I like Clearly I've stand corrected yet again. And I'm going to up that estimate. I'm gonna tell them well, it's 80 to 80 to 85% Water folks. So, yeah, so that's,



you've never opened one because I have only one 40% And I



do think that we could talk with Dr. shirk forever about this. But I think already if you're making a list, you should you probably already have 18 things that you're doing that you can improve for your cat or cats to improve their daily life and quality of life. But can we like Dr. Shark Do you think that You could, is there? Is there one thing that you wish that everyone knew about? cats as pets? Is there one thing? Hmm. I know there's



cats cats choose to be with us. And we need to respect that rather than they don't need us they refuse to be what about.



I think that's very I think that's very appropriate.



Yeah. It doesn't, doesn't know that and, you know, goes and has a cat now for the first time. Realize that very quickly. Right. So yeah, he's gonna let you know that. Which is 100 People do what do you live with any



cats, too.



I used to have three, two. And they're very different cats. They share their different personalities. Of course, one, one of them was was altered as we say, again, usually is the only one that absolutely loves to go outside. She's also like, 600 years old. Right? So she's she goes out. So she's living a fantastic cat life. Right? Yeah. And the other one was like, I am never going outside, I'll just stare at the door, open it, whatever. They're just cats are. They're very interesting creatures. Right? Yeah. And I love this podcast, because it really, you know, I may go back and listen to because there's so many different things that can actually help humans, right, we can be creative and how we help our cats it can be stimulating for us, us as well. Some of those categories are really fantastic. So



for sure, it gives you a chance to be creative and do some building and whatever can be really fun. And I think we need to think try and imagine what life is like from the perspective of of being a cat with having complete living in a in a different skin bag, rather than a hands in bag living in a cat skin bag and how they see and how they hear and how they smelt so differently and their abilities to you know, jump in the light, you know, 10 times their height and all these sorts of things. Yeah, you know, we're viewing, you know, we're trying to we are trying to, you know, for heaven's sakes, get some shelves on your walls that the cats can climb and you know, rather than just having you know, because to make your home work for your cat rather than at to fit into your home.



Yes, I think that's, I think that's excellent. And I think we we are so much more accepting of people who do that for dogs. And I'm not sure why that is then people who do that for cats. And and I think I think it's it's we should we should fix that. So yeah, so hey, cat lovers. Let it out. Let people know that you love your cat and and you know make make your home right for them as well. So I think that's all we have today. But we I Gosh, will you come back? We'd like to chat room.



Chat Room.



Yes, I was shot. I



mean, jeez, really? You've got you says it all right there and your name. field the field of shop. People don't shop



and love it. I love it. Thank you so much, Dr. Margie shirk for joining us and enlightening us



about this. Doctors got fields



about how we can live our cats even more than we do. Now. So yeah, so I guess that's it. So I'm Dr. Jenn the vet and we'll see you guys on the next episode.



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