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Managing health in a multi-cat household

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Would anyone like to discuss the health and hygene problems relating to having multi-cat (or multi-species) households without the formality of kenneling the animals? I know there is a forum for health and nutrition, but colonies of cats, both in-house and outside strays and ferels is really a very specific problem. The kind of effort you have to make with one or two cats is wildly different from what is feasible with many cats (or cats and dogs). For example, with a 3-room house (plus a tiny walkin kitchen and a tiny bathroom), I have a lot of trouble when more than one cat at a time gets sick -- unless of course ALL the cats get sick about the same time and isolation and separate feeding is no longer an option. I can isolate a single cat in my bathroom, and, in a pinch, another in my computer room. If two cats get sick with the same thing, I can put them together, unless, which happens, they are rivals for beta cats (I am the alpha), in which case they have to be kept separate. Feeding dishes, water bowls, bedding... and the parasites (fleas, ticks of several varieties, worms ... endemic and epidemic viruses and bacteria... ), sometimes it gets overwhelming. How do YOU cope? It seems to me we might share advice on this special situation.

I would also be so greatful if we could share information on some natural remedies -- nutritional, medicinal, or cleaning compounds and useful ways to keep the fleas down in more natural ways.

What do you say?

post #2 of 11
I have about 10 inside/outside cats of which 5 are still quite feral. When I feed, I feed at specific times, I do not leave food down all day for them. I wash the pans out well with a bleach/Dawn mixture everytime after I feed. I add garlic oil to their cat food, along with cod liver oil in small doses at first till they get used to them. I put apple cider vinegar in their water bowl, and the bowl gets scrubbed daily. I buy advantage for my bigger dogs and using a formula I have found on the Internet, I dose my cats with this spot-on as well. I sprinkle diacotomus earth crystals (mispelled I know) around the outside foundation of my home and in corners inside where I know the cats can't get to, but the bugs can. I also planted wild garlic alongside the house, the cats love to chew on the stems and it is a great natural parasite control. I also feed only what I consider the best dry food which is Kirkland Dry food for cats. I buy it at Costco. It is the only dry food that some of my cats can tolerate without getting sick all over the rug. I have a room set aside for the sick ones, and if more than one cat is ill, I have extra large roomy cages and put screens up between them.
post #3 of 11
We currently have 20 indoor only cats. There are some existing separations. 2 FeLV cats reside in their own area in the garage with a porch of their own. 2 cats (one of which sprays) are in one of our four bedrooms and 3 cats (2 of which are diabetic) are housed in our bedroom so that the diabetics only have access to their special food.
We feed three meals a day (5 AM, 5 PM & an evening snack). We feed DM to the diabetics and their mate, RD to the overweight ones and WD to the remainder. There are individual food dishes and multiple water dishes including some water fountains. We scoop litter (use scoopable & some litter pearls) twice a day. We use a dog 'Pet Pic' to scoop the litter pans. We have an air cleaner on the furnace and small air cleaners in almost every room. We feed PROGRAM to everybody once a month for flea control. We try to vacuum and wash cat bedding weekly (monthly at max). We've got a basement room and a guest room that are usable for any cats we truly have to quarantine and we've got 4 roomy cages (the two perch kind) that are available also. We have not been plagued to date with respiratory problems. The only cat we've needed to quarantine in the past couple of years was a FeLV cat who also had FIP. Hope this helps - it's not ideal and I'd probably change things if we had unlimited money - but we don't.
We also feed about 3 stray cats from year to year - that's where some of our 20 came from.
Cats & Dragons (or Drag ins as the case may be).
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
Dear Hissy and Cats&Dragons,

You both have great setups. More importantly, you have a lot of indoor room. I have a small house with 3 small rooms of the children's bedroom size in the States (or they are the size of the rooms when I left there in 1979. There is a tiny walk-in type kitchen and a small bathroom crammed with a tub/shower, a toilet and a wash basin. There is a small space I use for a litter box behind the door and a slightly larger space on the opposite wall that I have a plastic chest of drawers. Needless to say, when a cat has to be confined there, it is not roomy. No basement, no attic, no closed in porches, but I have an open porch and this summer I am going to buy wood and wire to make cages that will have to be outside. I am planning to back them with wood on the outside edge, because we often have fierce wind and rain storms in winter -- just sand storms in spring/summer/fall! Fortunately my house has an air-conditioner, which I bought to keep the computer from melting in the summer!

I envy you your space. It would make things so much easier. On the other hand, I have around half an acre fenced in -- the cats can get out if they insist, but dogs can't get in (except the 4 that I own). In some ways it is a great place for the cats -- good trees to climb and some planks up across the strongest branches for them to lie on when they get tired of teasing the dogs. But in terms of disease control, it is a disaster.

I like the homeopathic approach of garlic and apple cider vinegar. In fact, while I take plenty of garlic myself -- it goes with Mediterranean cooking -- I confess I had forgotten the old New England cure-all of apple cider vinegar. Until recently, you could only buy it at very high prices from a health food shop in Beer-Sheva (the nearest real city -- the only one in the Negev, actually, except for Arad, which is over near the Dead Sea), but recently one of the local companies started to make it (or perhaps they import it from Europe and rebottle). It is much cheaper, not made from organic apples, but it is nice and full-bodied.

I must try some of the other things, Hissy. You remind me that I have not been paying attention to my life-style roots. The special cat foods can be got here at a price, often from the vet in Beer-Sheva.

I am very grateful for the advice from people more experienced than I in this rescue business. And especially glad to find out about some homeopathic methods.

post #5 of 11
Hissy, I thought I read that garlic was toxic to cats. Am I misremembering? (I wouldn't be too surprised if I am mixed up and it was something else, like onions, that you shouldn't give to cats.)
post #6 of 11
Garlic is great for killing fleas! But I have found its more easier for the cats to tolerate if you go to the health food store and buy garlic *oil*...I was also suprised that no one mentioned eucalyptus leaves...thats one of the most effective, natural flea-deterrent there is. You get some eucalyptus sprigs from any flower shop and place them behind sofas, under cushins, under the edges of carpet - tuck pieces anywhere out of site and especially sround where kitties sleep. Fleas not only hate that stuff with a passion, but it makes your house smell nice and fresh, too because it over-rides litterbox odors...
Of course, if you can afford it i a multi-cat family, Advantage is always the best, but I agree 'natural' is the best way to go.

Just an idea.

post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Eucalyptus trees grow all over Israel and are often used to act as windbreaks along roadsides. I think I will stop somewhere and vandalize one of the public trees and see if my fleas hate the smell. If it works, I am for sure going to plant one or two trees in my yard. Thank you for the suggestion. I love the smell of eucalyptus.
post #8 of 11
catspride, I wanted to pm this to you, but couldn't attach it by the pm. So I'm attaching it here.. It's from a book that I have, called "Heal Your Cat The Natural Way" written by Richard Allport , a UK veterinerian...

Hope it's OK to scan a page of the book though
post #9 of 11
something got wrong..this time will do...
post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Dear Dodo -- I thank you for this latest source. In December I am seriously going to the government nursery to see if I can get a eucalyptus tree for my own. I think it is important to use as few chemicals as possible. I am not a purist, but I just don't see using a lot of potentially bad things if there are less dangerous kinds of control. But I don't make the mistake of thinking that "natural" is less dangerous than chemical. For example, bay leaf and nutmeg are cooking flavorings, but in a larger amount than usually used in cooking, they can make you either very sick or actually kill you. Oleander is poisonous in every one of its parts, and it is very natural.

So I like to find out about what is safe for me, and particularly what is safe for cats, who seem to react very badly to some things that don't bother me at all!
post #11 of 11
These are all great ideas! I'd like to try them. I was wondering if they are also safe for young kittens.
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