Linda's Feline CRF Hints
Odds & Ends
Sometimes it seems that the vet doesn't want to listen to us, but often the vet is simply too busy. Many vets have E-Mail -- use it to communicate with your vet. Use "short" e-mails to keep your vet up-to-date with your cat's progress. Send in questions before an appointment. It might be good to call the front desk and tell them you've sent an E-Mail (vets get busy and forget to check.) If the vet is not on-line, try to drop off a list of questions or comments
before an appointment. Give your vet a chance to hear from you when he/she has time.
Our fat Mittens (not CRF) has trouble jumping, so we have created "steps" (thanks to Rubbermaid). Rubbermaid stools come in two heights -- 7 inches and 12 inches. The 10 gallon totes are about 12 inches high, the 14 gallon about 16 inches high, and the 18 gallon about 20 inches. The stools are fine for steps to couches and chairs. To get to the bed and other higher places, stools and totes can be combined to create a series of steps (and you can store stuff in the totes).
For litter boxes, we use those Rubbermaid "totes". They are large rectangular boxes made of heavy plastic. We started with the 10-gallon size, but a few cats "aimed" too high, so we went to the 14-gallon size. The only difference is in height.
HINTS I RECEIVED FROM OTHERS
Drugstores and medical supply places sell 'chux', also known as incontinence pads -- really useful if your cat has this problem, as some CRF kitties do. Waterproof mattress pads work well, too. Baby wipes are great for cleaning up the hindquarters if the cat gets soil on them.
Cats with mobility problems may benefit from cutting a 'doorway' into the litter box if the sides of the box are high. Yes, litter gets spilled. Put the litter box inside a large, shallow box and most of the litter will be contained and the cat can get in and out of it more easily.
Cats who are thin feel the cold more than others. CRF kitties often lose weight, so this is an issue. A heating pad, set on 'low' and wrapped in a couple of thick bath towels, makes a great heated cat bed for these situations. [Please don't leave the heating pad on when you are not around.]
As most of us know, CRF cats sometimes throw up water and white foam due to the toxins. Naturally they always aim for the oriental rug. A cleaning tip that works great is your basic Baking Soda. Sprinkle it thick on the wet area and leave for ten minutes or longer until the
water is absorbed and the fine powder cakes together and is moist. Then just vacuum. Any odors are obsorbed at the same time.
One of those very small shop vacs are good to have around. I believe they cost about $20-25 and only take up about a square foot of space (not counting the 4 foot hose and cord). You can clean up the bulk of the mess as you currently do, and then just pour plain water over the spot, work the water in a bit, vacuum, and repeat. As long as you got to the spot within about 12 hours, it should come clean.
Of course you could add backing soda, or whatever other treatment you're used to using, but I found just plain water worked fine. One advantage to just using plain water is that the spot you clean doesn't get a whole lot cleaner than the rest of your carpet. We put off shampooing the carpet while Spike was alive (he threw up a lot even before CRF) and actually just cleaned it this weekend. Prior to this recent cleaning, there were no dark
spots from Spike or light spots from cleaning spots--the carpet was just uniformly dirty.
Just remember to clean out the vacuum right away, because if you wait it will get pretty ripe inside the vacuum.
Susan is a part-time professional cat sitter, and offers a few tips on finding a sitter.
There are several ways to find good sitters. Ask your vet for recommendations; sitters and vets typically get to know each other well as they jointly care for their client's pets. Sometimes the vet techs moonlight as sitters. Ask your friends and other cat people for referrals. Look at the web sites of organizations like Pet Sitters International
(www.petsit.com). Check the Yellow Pages under Dog & Cat-Pet Sitters or similar headings
The site www.petsit.com has a good checklist to help you evaluate a sitter's credentials and decide which services you need. Ask for references and CHECK them---references should be available for the company and for the sitter that will be taking care of your pets. You'd be surprise how few people ask for references, much less check them, before handing over the keys to their house and the responsibility for their cats' well-being.
My initial meeting with a client takes about 45 minutes and costs $20. During that meeting I meet the cats, learn their needs, preferences and routine, arrange for emergency medical care if necessary and discuss the house-sitting duties and security issues. I try to get a clear picture of the owner's requirements and expectations to make sure that everyone's happy in the end.
Rates vary widely by area and by the services offered. Our base rate is $18 for visits averaging 30 to 45 minutes. There are additional charges for medical services (pilling, fluids, etc.), households with more than 3 cats, extra household chores and the like. Remember that the "employees" of cat-sitting companies are generally independent contractors who earn a percentage of the fee for each sit. They are not paid for travel and time to and from sits, so if someone offers to care for your animals for $8, think hard about the quality of service you will be getting. And if you would like the sitter to spend extra time playing or just being with your cats, ask if can be done for an additional fee. Remember that not all sitters are willing or qualified to deal with special medical needs like crf or diabetes.