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Dear Heather,

Last month was dental health month, and in Ruby's case, this turned out to be the focus of her month: Ruby had major dental surgery. Thankfully, she recovered quickly, and feels much better now that her dental problems have been addressed. I wrote a four-part series about her experience, click here to read all about it.


In this issue

A Cat Guardian's Bill of Rights for Vet Visits

I’ve previously discussed ways to make vet visits less stressful for cats, but one aspect I haven’t written about is that vet visits can often be intimidating for the cat’s guardian. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the information presented? Maybe you’re unsure of what’s normal and what’s not acceptable when it comes to how your cat is treated? I’m offering the bill of rights below to give you a better understanding of what you should expect during a vet visit.

Cats and Drums: How Cats Became an Important Part of Drummer Jeff Plate's Life

Jeff Plate is one of the most accomplished and hardest working drummers in rock and roll. Best known for his work with Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Jeff is also the drummer for heavy metal icons Metal Church. I caught up with Jeff and his wife Cathy to chat about life with two cats and a dog.

Wishing you health, happiness and purrs,

Ingrid.

 
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A Cat Guardian's Bill of Rights for Vet Visits

cat-vet-visit

America’s cats are not receiving the health care they deserve. The findings of a feline health study conducted by Bayer Health Care found that 52% of America’s 74 million cats are not receiving regular veterinary care. The actual number is probably much higher, since this study only captured data from cat guardians who do seek some veterinary care, not those who never take their cat to the vet. The study also showed that cat guardians are not willing to spend as much money on healthcare for their feline charges as dog guardians. Ironically, while spending on veterinary care is declining, spending on pet products is increasing steadily each year.


Why feline veterinary visits are declining


There are two problems with declining veterinary visits for cats. One is the perception among many cat guardians that cats are self-sufficient. And while cats may be more independent than dogs, they’re also masters at hiding signs of illness, which is why regular veterinary exams are so important. By the time a cat shows symptoms, the disease may already be in the advanced stages, requiring more extensive, and expensive, care. The second problem is that taking a cat to the vet is stressful for most cats and their guardians.

I’ve previously discussed ways to make vet visits less stressful for cats, but one aspect I haven’t written about is that vet visits can often be intimidating for the cat’s guardian. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the information presented? Maybe you’re unsure of what’s normal and what’s not acceptable when it comes to how your cat is treated? I’m offering the following bill of rights to give you a better understanding of what you should expect during a vet visit.


Cat guardian’s bill of rights


1. You have the right to expect that staff at the vet clinic is trained to minimize stress for cats and their humans. Look for a feline-only practice, or a practice with the “cat-friendly” designation awarded by the AAFP.

2. You have the right to expect a clean facility – this begins with the waiting areas, exam rooms and extends to the treatment room and surgical facilities. It is not unreasonable to assume that a clinic with dust bunnies in the waiting room will not take care with keeping other areas clean and sterile as needed.

3. You have the right to expect a thorough and detailed explanation of any treatments recommended for your cats. It is up to the vet clinic to schedule appointments that are long enough to allow time to address all of your questions. You should never be made to feel that a vet or staff member doesn’t have time to answer your questions.

4. You have the right to a cost estimate prior to any treatments or procedures. If finances are an issue, your vet should discuss options with you that allow your cat to receive the care she needs while not putting undue strain on your budget.

5. You have the right to be present with your cat for any procedures that do not require anesthesia or exposure to radiation (x-rays). Unless you prefer to not be with your cat during treatments, or experience extreme anxiety at the thought of these procedures, there is no reason why your cat needs to be whisked off to “the back” for blood draws, nail clips, etc. Most cats are less fearful and more comfortable if their “person” is nearby during these events.

6. You have the right for frequent updates about your cat’s condition, should your cat need to be hospitalized. Veterinary staff know that you’re anxious, and they want to keep you informed how your cat is doing. Ask how frequently you can call for updates, and ask about the best times to call.

7. You have the right to copies of your cat’s vet record. In an emergency, quick access to your cat’s record for the treating ER vet could save your cat’s life. This is especially important for cats with chronic health issues or senior cats.
 

Cats and Drums: How Cats Became an Important Part of Drummer Jeff Plate's Life

Jeff-Plate-drummer

Jeff Plate is one of the most accomplished and hardest working drummers in rock and roll. The New York State native began taking drum lessons at the age of 12, after a sports injury ended his dream of becoming a pitcher for the New York Yankees. Best known for his work with Trans-Siberian Orchestra (Jeff has performed on every TSO release since the band’s inception in 1996 and has been part of every TSO winter and spring tour,) he has been the drummer for Heavy Metal icons Metal Church since 2006, and has also worked with Savatage, TSO guitarist Chris Caffery, and former TSO violinist Mark Wood’s Electrify Your Strings program. Jeff shares his rural New York state home with wife Cathy, two cats and a dog. I had a chance to catch up with Jeff and Cathy after Jeff just finished the hugely successful 2016 TSO tour.

Tell us about your pets.

Jeff-Plate-dog-cats

Snickers is a 20 something-year-old Tiger, and Bodi is a 5-year-old Polydactyl grey and black Mackerel Tabby. He has seven toes on each of his front paws and six on the back. At 17.5 pounds he’s a big boy, the coolest cat I’ve ever known. Lucy is a yellow Labrador Retriever. She will be 9 years old next month. She was originally owned by our nephews, but due to their schedules and lack of time to spend with her, she first went to my father’s, then decided she was going to stay with us and has been here for 3 years. We literally live next to each other so it wasn’t a huge change for anyone. She is very smart, very friendly and very protective. A great dog.

Cathy, how many cats did you have when you and Jeff started dating, and were you worried that your cats might not accept him? How did the first meeting go?

Bodi, Snickers, Angel, Coco

I had three cats at the time: Angel, a white (a couple of spots) short hair; Coco, a black haired medium hair, and Snickers. Jeff rarely saw Snickers or Coco as they were always in hiding when I still lived in Ohio. As soon as we moved, it all changed, and they really became different cats. We wonder if it was just being in a new home and they just made it theirs - we're not sure, but they all got along and never hid from Jeff again!

Jeff, you weren’t really a cat person until you met Cathy. Tell us what it was like to get to know her cats. I’ve honestly always been good with cats. I didn’t have a pet for years because of my travel schedule. Angel was a little cranky and territorial, but we got along fine. As Cathy said, Snickers and Coco were always hiding and I probably saw them a total of 30 minutes a piece over the course of 2 years.

Jeff, Cathy moved to your home in New York state from Ohio with her cats when you got married. How did the cats handle the change, and what was the most surprising thing for you about living with cats? Jeff: Surprisingly it was an easy transition. We had all of the cats in carriers for the trip. When we arrived at our new home, I took Snickers out of the carrier and held tight to him and walked him around the house, through every room upstairs and downstairs. I think it was the first time I even touched him, let alone held him. After that he was my best buddy and followed me around everywhere. Coco took off and hid under the bed. Angel calmly walked around and checked things out. They seemed to really like their new home. They were friendlier and more social right from the start. Once they figured where to hide when I was drumming, we fell into a routine.

Cathy: As Jeff said, things were really easy. I think we were both really surprised and thrilled at just how much friendlier Snickers and Coco were!

Jeff-Plate-cats-dog

Do all the animals get along?

Yes, they all really do. Snickers is getting old, and it’s funny, there are times he’ll just jump on Bodi like he’s still a kitten and ready to play!

Jeff, you spend a good part of the year touring with TSO and Metal Church. It must be hard being away from your pets. How do you cope?

cat-suitcase
"This happens every time I leave," says Jeff

Of course I miss them. For all intents and purposes they are my kids. They are part of my daily life when I’m home, but I know they are in good hands. They all get a little depressed when they see the suitcase come out, and Cathy says they are all in a funk for awhile. I think Lucy understands me not being there and the length of time that I’m gone, but I’m not sure if the cats understand that. They are always happy to see me again, but for all I know they may just think I went to the store.

I would imagine that your cats are used to hearing music all the time, but not all cats like loud noises. How do your cats react to your drumming?

At first they ran for cover like they were under attack. Now they go to their favorite spot and sleep.

Do they have a favorite genre or band?

Mainly bands with animal names. Three Dog Night, Steel Panther, White Lion, Whitesnake, Def Leppard, The Eagles… they have a wide range of tastes. Speaking of tastes, The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is truly their favorite. They are well aware of what brings them their favorite foods and treats. Oddly enough, their favorite sports teams also all have animal names. Go figure… The only teams we all root for together are the Buffalo Sabres and the Buffalo Bills. Otherwise we are usually rooting against each other.

Two question for both of you: Best part about living with cats? Hardest part about living with cats?

Jeff: We’re very lucky in that these cats both have great personalities. Bodi, at 17 pounds, still acts like a kitten half of the time, so he’s a lot of fun. He's the only cat I’ve ever known who plays fetch. And even though Snickers is 20+ years old, he’s still playful and very well behaved. The hardest things are cleaning litter and sweeping up hair, but that’s nothing.

Cathy: Yes, we’ve been very lucky with all our cats. I love how they love us…. They know they are taken care of and show it. It’s not really hard, but the hair of three animals and basically an all black wardrobe…… you get it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add, Jeff?

If I could, I’d probably have a house full of cats….. they just make me happy and really are easy, very lovable pets!

You can learn more about Jeff on his website and Facebook page.
 
Upcoming Events
 

March 11 and 12, 2017
Cat Camp NYC
New York, NY

March 21, 2017
Orlando Cat Cafe
Clermont, FL


March 22-24, 2017
Global Pet Expo
Orlando, FL


Please visit the Events Page on my website for more information.

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