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The Tabby Cat is Not a Breed but a Pattern!


A lot of cat owners, including myself, will call the average domestic cat a tabby.  If you have adopted a furry feline and don’t know the breed, the tabby is sometimes used as the default name, sort of like calling a dog, a mutt.  However a Tabby is not a cat breed.  It is the pattern of a kitty's coat. And it happens to be the most common of all the feline coat patterns.

Therefore, no matter what color or markings you see on your cat, all felines possess the tabby gene. Other colors or patterns may hide those tabby markings, but they're always present.

Sammy The Best Orange Tabby Cat

This is Sammy, my favorite “tabby” cat!

Sometimes you can see those faint tabby markings on a solid-colored cat who is sitting in the bright sun. And have you ever seen a solid red or orange or cream cat without the familiar tabby markings? You won't, because the gene that makes a cat red or cream also makes the tabby markings visible.

All Tabby Cats have the common “M” on their foreheads

All tabbies have thin pencil lines on their faces, expressive markings around the eyes, and a distinct letter "M" on their foreheads. Some believe the "M" is for Mau, the word for "cat" in ancient Egypt. Others think the "M" stands for Mohammed, who loved tabbies. Still others believe it is the blessing of the Virgin Mary.  I think it stays for merriment – aren’t tabbies happy cats?

There are four distinct tabby patterns:

Although there are many variations of each, the tabby pattern falls into four basic types. A fifth includes tabby as part of another basic color pattern such as the patched tabby, which may be a calico or tortoiseshell cat with tabby patches (which is called a torbie.) Some breeds also have tabby points within their color standards. That’s why our tabbies seem omnipresent and always ready to adopt! In fact, the gene for tabby pattern can be found in all domestic cats. Look at a jet black kitty basking in the sun and you will most likely see some hidden tabby markings.

Types of Tabby Patterns

Mackerel (striped)

The Mackerel tabby pattern has vertical, gently curving stripes on the side of the body. The stripes are narrow and may be continuous or broken into bars and spots on the flanks and stomach. An "M" shape appears on the forehead along with dark lines across the cat's cheeks to the corners of its eyes. Mackerels are also called 'Fishbone tabbies' probably because they are named after the mackerel fish. Mackerel is the most common tabby pattern. Their legs and tail have dark bars as do the cat's cheeks.


The Spotted tabby is a modifier that breaks up the Mackerel tabby pattern so that the stripes appear as spots. Similarly, the stripes of the Classic tabby pattern may be broken into larger spots. Both large spot and small spot patterns can be seen in the Australian Mist, Bengal, Egyptian Mau, Maine Coon, and Ocicat breeds.

Agouti (Ticked)

Most tabby cats will have agouti hairs as part of their pattern. If you look closely, you'll see different bands of color down the length of the cat's individual hairs. Cats with an all-ticked pattern almost shimmer in the sunlight, because of the color variation.

The Classic Tabby

This pattern usually has whorls ending in a target on the side of the cat. Many American Shorthair cats demonstrate this pattern.    The Classic (also known as "Blotched" or "Marbled") tabby tends to have a pattern of dark browns, but also occurs in grey. Classic tabbies have the "M" pattern on their foreheads but the body markings have a whirled or swirled pattern (often called a "bullseye") on the cat's sides. There is also a light colored "butterfly" pattern on the shoulders and three thin stripes (the center stripe is dark) running along its spine. Like the Mackerel tabby, Classic tabbies have dark bars on the legs, tail, and cheeks.

Now that you know the type of ‘tabby’ cat pattern that your cat might have, you will probably be interested to learn about their behavior in the following article:

Click Here:  Orange Tabby Cat Behaviors


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How Can You Tell if Your Dog Has An Ear Infection?

Dog ear infections are very common and will affect most dogs at some point in their lives.  Dogs with floppy ears tend to be more susceptible.  Dogs that get frequent baths, like to swim or haven’t had their ears cleaned properly will most likely get an ear infection. However, there are ways to detect ear infections right away and treat them immediately and further prevent them from occurring.

How can a dog get an ear infection?

Ear infections in dogs are usually caused by an excess of bacteria or yeast. Ear mites, growing hair, trapped water, a tumor or foreign body in the ear canal can lead to an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast. Infections may also develop when allergies, hypothyroidism or an excessive amount of ear wax are present.

Dog Ear Infections Fixed

Below are some of the symptoms that might occur if your dog has an ear infection:

  • Ear scratching
  • Brown, yellow or bloody discharge
  • Odor in the ear
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Crusted or scabby skin on the near ear flap
  • Hair loss around the ear
  • Wiping the ear area on the floor or furniture
  • Head shaking or head tilt
  • Loss of balance

If any of the above has occurred in your dog, make sure to take your pup to the vet.

How Are Ear Infections Treated?

Many ear infections can be treated with a professional cleaning followed by regular cleaning and medication given at home. Your veterinarian may prescribe topical and/or oral medicine. For severe or chronic cases, anesthesia and ear flushing may be necessary.

You can prevent ear infections from occurring by doing the following:

Check your dog’s ears regularly for discharge, odor, swelling and other symptoms of infection.

If your dog’s ear canal appears dirty, clean with a cotton ball dampened with a solution suggested by your vet—but don’t clean so often or deeply that you cause irritation.  (below will explain good cleaning methods).

After baths and swimming, be sure to dry your dog’s ears as thoroughly and carefully as you can.

If your dog is prone to infections, ask your vet if canine ear-drying solution would be beneficial.

If your dog grows hair in or around the opening of his ear canals, periodically tweeze it away (if your dog tolerates it) or ask your groomer to do so.   Inner-ear skin is delicate, so ask your vet to show you the proper method for maintaining your dog’s ear health.

Tips to cleaning your dog’s ears

First get a recommendation of a good ear cleaner from your vet. Ear cleaners should be slightly acidic but should NOT sting your pup.

Place a few drops in your dog’s ear canals (read directions) and then massage the base of the ear for 20-30 seconds to soften and release the debris. Wipe out the loose debris and excess fluid with a cotton ball. Repeat this procedure until you see no more debris. Let your dog shake his head to remove any excess fluid.

When you are through, wipe your dog's ear flap and area below the ear gently with a towel. Depending on your dog's ear condition, you may have to start out cleaning the ears twice a day.

Cotton applicator swabs can be used to clean the inside of the earflap and the part of the ear canal you can see. They should NOT be used farther down in the ear canal since that tends to pack debris in the ear canal, rather than help to remove it.

And, of course, follow the cleaning with your dog’s favorite treat or toy for good behavior!

 Homeopathic Remedies

 Hepar Sulph can be useful for irritable dogs who don’t like to have their inflamed ears touched.

Sulphur is often recommended for long term, stubborn skin conditions and also has some success in ear infection treatment. Excessive scratching or pawing at the ears may be an indicator for sulphur.

Silica is worth considering to help ‘push out’ a excess debros or other foreign object from the ears.

Phosphorus is a good option for those dogs who suffer with cuts or hematomas to the pinna; it’s an excellent remedy for many types of bleeding.

The key to your dog’s healthy ears is to keep them clean. Check your dog's ears weekly. A slight amount of waxy buildup may be present in normal ears. If your dog swims a lot, has pendulous ears, or a history of ear disease, routine cleaning (often once to three times per week) is recommended.

Remember, if your dog is showing severe discomfort, the ears have a bad smell, or the ear canals look very abnormal, take your dog to your vet immediately. If your dog has a ruptured or weakened eardrum, some ear cleansers and medications could do more harm than good so make sure you get the correct treatment.

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Cleaning Your Cats’ Ears- Easy to Do and Important

Our cats are amazing self groomers and tend to keep themselves clean on their own.  However, they can’t reach their inner ears and it’s up to us, their pet parents, to monitor and help them.  Have you looked inside your cat’s ears lately?  If you haven’t, today is the day!  If you see a lot of dirt or a build up of wax, it’s time to clean your cat’s ears.  And, unlike nail clipping, most cats aren’t too averse to that area.

Let’s start with how the outer ear shoud look:

A healthy kitty’s outer ear has a layer of hair on its outer surface with no bald spots, and its inner surface is clean and light pink. If you see any discharge, redness or swelling, your cat’s ears should be checked by your veterinarian.

Cleaning Your Cats Ears

Have you checked my ears lately?

Inner ear exam

You should bring your kitty cat into a quiet room where there are no other pets. Gently fold back each outer ear and look down into the canal. Healthy outer ears will be pale pink in color, carry no debris or odor, and will have minimal or no visible earwax. If you find that your cat’s ears appear to have excessive amounts of wax, have dark colored debris, or you detect an odor, your cat should be examined by your veterinarian.

How to clean your kitty’s ears

Place a little bit of liquid ear cleaner onto a clean cotton ball or piece of gauze. If you are unsure of what to use, ask your verterianrian for a recommendation.  Next, fold your cat’s ear back gently and wipe away any debris or earwax that you see on the inside of the outer ear. Lift away the dirt and wax rather than rubbing it into the ear.  Do not attempt to clean the ear canal-probing inside of your cat’s ear can cause trauma or infection and is best done by a veterinary professional.  And, of course, reward your cat with a treat for good behavior!

If the below is occurring, it could be indicative of an inner ear problem:

  • Persistent scratching and pawing of the ear or surrounding area
  • Sensitivity to touch around the ears
  • Head tilt
  • Frequent shaking of the head
  • Loss of balance and disorientation
  • Redness or swelling of the outer ear or ear canal
  • Unpleasant odor
  • Black or brown wax
  • Hearing loss

Below are some common ear disorders:

Ear mites: Ear mites are common parasites that are contagious among pets. Telltale signs include excessive itching of the ears and debris that resembles coffee grounds.

Ear infections:  Ear infections are usually caused by bacteria or yeasts. Treatment should be administered promptly as ear infections can cause considerable discomfort. Allergies in cats can be a predisposing factor in developing ear infections (so, of course, call your vet).

Ear Hematoma:  An ear hematoma is a collection of blood and serum between the cartilage and skin of the outer ear. They’re often caused by infection, ear mites, fleas or trapped debris that causes your cat to scratch her ears or shake her head excessively. They can occur in association with frequent head shaking in association with ear infections, ear mites, or allergies.

How to give your kitty ear drops:

If your veterinarian has recommended ear drops or ointment for your cat, he or she will usually give you directions on how many times a day and how to administer them.  Below are some basic tips to help.

  1. If there is debris or excessive wax in the outer ear or visible ear canal gently clean the external ear with a cotton ball or gauze moistened with a veterinary recommended ear cleaning solution (see above instructions).
  1. Gently pull your kitty’s ear flap back, squeeze out the correct amount of solution or ointment into the outermost earl canal.  Then you can gently massage the base of your kitty’s ear(s) to help work the medication deeper into the canal. 
  1. Administer the medication according to the label directions given by your veterinarian. Make sure to finish the entire course for recommended treatment to make sure the infection or illness is resolved entirely.
  1. As always, reward your cat with love and a treat afterward.

If you make sure to check your kitty’s ears on a weekly basis, you will be rewarded with a healthy and happy cat!

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Feline Leukemia Virus – Contagious, Dangerous and Needs to be Tested!

Feline Leukemia Virus (FLV) is a horrible disease for our kittens that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats, second to trauma.The virus commonly causes anemia or lymphoma, but because it suppresses the immune system, it can also predispose cats to deadly infections.  Therefore, it is very important to have your kitty or cat tested for FLV before you bring your cat home.  Most shelters and/or rescue groups will test for FLV before you bring your kitty home.

How Do Cats Get FLV?

The FLV virus is shed in many bodily fluids, including saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces and blood. FLV is most commonly transmitted through direct contact, mutual grooming and through sharing litter boxes, food and water bowls. It can also be passed in utero or through mother’s milk. Outdoor cats who get into fights with other cats can transmit the disease through bites and scratches.  However, healthy cats over three months old and vaccinated for FLV are highly unlikely to contract the virus from another cat.

How Feline Leukemia Virus Is Transmitted

Feline leukemia is a disease that only affects cats; it cannot be transmitted to people, dogs, or other animals. FLV is passed from one cat to another through saliva, blood, and to some extent, urine and feces. The virus does not live long outside the cat’s body. Grooming and fighting (since it involves interaction) seem to be the most common way for infection to spread. Kittens can contract the disease in through an infected mother’s milk. The disease is often spread by apparently healthy cats, so even if a cat appears healthy, he or she might be infected and able to transmit the virus.

Your Cat’s Risk Factors

Exposure to infected cats raises your cat’s risk of contracting FLV, especially for kittens and young adult cats. Older cats are less likely to contract the infection, because resistance seems to increase with age. For indoor-only cats, the risk of contracting FLV is very low. Cats in multi-cat households or in catteries are more at risk, especially if they share water and food dishes and litter boxes.


We hate FLV!

Only about 3% of cats in single-cat households have the virus, but for cats that spend time outdoors, the rate is much higher. Still, the prevalence of FLV has decreased over the last 25 years because of vaccines and reliable tests.

The below are the symptoms of FLV:

Loss of appetite and weight loss, pale or inflamed gums, poor coat condition, fever, upper respiratory infections, diarrhea and vomiting, seizures, behavioral changes, vision problems, swollen lymph nodes, reproductive issues in female cats, jaundice, respiratory issues, and lethargy.

How is FLV Diagnosed?

There are several types of tests available to diagnose FLV. Most veterinarians and shelters use the ELISA enzyme-linked test, which detects antigen to the FELV virus in the bloodstream.

How can you help your cat with FLV?

Feed your cat a nutritionally balanced diet, one free of raw meat, eggs and unpasteurized dairy products, which can harbor bacteria and parasites and lead to infection.  It is also recommended to make a quiet place for your cat to rest indoors and away from other cats who could promote disease.  You should also bring your cat to the vet every six months for a checkup and blood tests.

Is FLV contagious?

FLV is contagious to other cats, but not to humans or other species. Other cats in the house can acquire the virus from an infected cat. Though the virus doesn’t live long outside of the body, and is easily inactivated with common disinfectants, it can be passed through shared food and water as well as common litter boxes.

Is there a treatment for FLV?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for FLV, and it is estimated that less than twenty percent of clinically infected cats survive more than three years of active infection. In the case of those cats who develop cancer, chemotherapy can help prolong life, but treatment often focuses on providing the best quality of life.

Can you prevent FLV from occurring?

There is a vaccine available for cats who are at risk of contracting FLV. Like all vaccines, there are risks involved in vaccination, and the vaccine is not a 100-percent guarantee against infection. Your veterinarian can best evaluate whether this vaccine is right for your cat.

As with any infectious disease, the best prevention is eliminating sources of exposure. Routine FLV testing and keeping your cat indoors and away from cats whose FLV status is the best way to prevent your cat from becoming infected. 

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Is Your Cat A Finicky Eater?

Cats have the reputation for being finicky about their food with good reason!  While some cats are inherently good eaters, other cats might suddenly turn away from a favorite food or ignore new choices offered that are healthier or just different.  However, if your cat suddenly decides not to eat, there’s usually a reason. The food may just not taste or smell fresh or your cat might have underlying health problems that affect his appetite.   

If you go to the vet and rule out any medical condition, then your cat is just a finicky eater.  Below are some tips to help combat the picky eating:

Many cats become finicky eaters from eating the same food over the long term

Many cats who have been fed a very enticing single food long-term can develop a food preference for that specific kind of food. While your kitty might enjoy it year after year, it can become problematic if the food’s formulation changes (which they often do) or if your cat needs to be placed on a prescription diet for a medical issue. It’s always recommended to vary your cat’s diet by offering various flavors, textures, shapes and types of food.

Finikki Eater

I like this food better!

Cats love a food with a strong scent

It’s the scent, not the flavor that draws cats to food. Those intensely fish-meat-poultry aromas wafting from cat food bring felines running at the first hint of the pop-top can. The smell of chicken or beef broth is especially enticing to the finicky feline. Try spooning some broth over dry food to gives your kitty an appetizing meal. Few cats can resist a taste of freshly cooked chicken, liver or beef. You can offer this in small quantities as a special treat along with his regular cat food or put a little drop on the top of your kitties’ food.

Cats love food with the right temperature and freshness

If you feed your cat food directly from a cold refrigerator, the food can become unappealing. If your cat food is cold, it could indicate to the cat that it’s not very fresh. Cold food also releases less aroma so there’s a decreased scent appeal. Wet food should be served at body temperature or slightly warmer. Dry food should be room temperature.

Try doctoring up your cat food

In order to get your finicky kitty to eat, you might try mixing in some goodies such as chicken, tuna or some other tasty morsels. However, you want to do this moderately as you might have now increased your cat’s taste expectations and he or she will be less likely to eat your regular food without the added treats. Unless your veterinarian has instructed you to supplement the diet, don’t try to trick your cat into eating her normal food by adding table scraps.  As mentioned above, a little change of flavor, or a broth is good for your kitty and might just do the trick.

Below are some other treats you can try to add to entice your finicky kitty:

  1. Sprinkle freeze dried chicken or salmon on top.
  2. Drizzle a little bit of tuna or clam juice drizzled over the food
  3. Add small pieces of cooked meat
  4. Spread a spoonful of meat-based baby food (make sure it doesn’t contain onion or garlic powder) on top of the meal
  5. Add chicken or beef broth to your food
  6. Sprinkle nutritional yeast over the food
  7. Canned parmesan cheese can be spread over the food
  8. FortiFlora (a probiotic) is enticing to some cats. Sprinkle just 1/4 or less of a package on top of a meal.


Establish a feeding schedule for your kitty

If your cat has been eating free-choice (or whenever he or she wants to), try feeding your kitty two meals a day. Most cats are hungry after not eating for twelve hours. They should dive into the first thing you put down after a twelve-hour fast, which should be a small portion of healthy canned cat food. Real hunger is a stimulant and your kitty will probably devour your food on sight!

If you change your cat food, it needs to be done slowly

When it comes to most things in their lives, cats don’t like change. When your cat goes to her food bowl at mealtime, she can become totally thrown off by the aroma, texture and taste of a completely unfamiliar food. Further, abrupt food changes can also cause intestinal upset. New foods should be introduced gradually to your kitty’s current food to avoid an upset stomach.

The key to transition your cat to any new food is to go slowly and be patient. And you may need a few tricks up your sleeve. For some cats, it may take several months while others will adjust easily and quickly.   With time, patience and experimentation, you can get your kitty to eat on a regular basis and be less finicky!

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