The Ugly Truth: The Litter Box Stinks

Litter-Robot

We’ve finally done it.  We seem to have a litter box in nearly every corner of our home these days, and we find ourselves working overtime to keep each of the boxes clean and smelling fresh.  With Christmas just around the corner and a houseful of company planning to descend on our home soon, we are seriously re-evaluating our litter management strategy.

Many years ago a work colleague gifted us a mostly functional top-of-the-line, automated, self cleaning Litter Robot.  At the time, this was an already well used,  semi-belligerent cat box.  Even with it’s quirks, though, we still found it to be one of the best cat boxes we have ever owned.

Web-Image-Litter-RobotStanding about 2 feet high, our Litter Robot was impressively ominous.  Constructed of a large, black sphere mounted atop a circular base, we soon found ourselves referring to it as “The Death Star”.  A stair step entry led to the cavernous interior.  There was nothing subtle about it.  Though designed to only initiate its cleaning cycle several minutes after a cat had visited the box, our second hand Robot had a mind of its own.  The Death Star would begin to rattle and shudder, whirring into action every 20 minutes or so, regardless of whether a cat had actually stopped by to do his business or not.  Occasionally, it would also kick into action with a cat still inside which always made for one very surprised kitty. And on particularly bad days it might just stop and stay upside down awhile, as if it was just too whooped to complete the entire cleaning cycle and just needed another 20 minutes to catch its breath again.

The Litter Robot though, did perform it’s job exactly as we hoped.  It gave us a (mostly) hands off  litter management system and really helped to minimize any smells.  Our cats adapted to it’s quirkiness, and even tolerated the occasional “upside down” they encountered. It was indeed a sad day in our house when our Death Star finally spun its last.

Litter-RobotWe bring this up now, because Christmas is coming and our litter boxes stink – figuratively and literally.  We are back to the manual daily scooping, sweeping and refreshing.  We hate the time it is taking to stay ahead of it, we hate the mess, and most of all we really hate the odor.  It really does stink and it’s time to finally solve our cat box problem.

I’ll be honest here, though, the Litter Robot is expensive.  Last time I checked, a new Litter Robot III was priced at $449. We’ve put off investing in another Robot because frankly, it’s been hard to justify that cost within our budget.   There is no denying that it IS time now though.  We need this for the continued sanity of our family.  Well, sanity,  and so our extended family won’t think less of us.  We are  doing this and there’s no doubt it’s going to be totally worth it.  Even our old temperamental & unpredictable Death Star was a gold star winner, so I am confident that this new one will be too.

Knowing that the Litter Robot product is an excellent one, we are sharing an offer for $25 Off a new Litter Robot if you are ready for a better solution too.

*PS This is an affiliate partner, which means if you purchase a Litter Robot for yourself, Silver Shorthairs may get something in return. Thanks.

CFA Kitten Registration in 3 Easy Steps

Your perfect little kitten has finally arrived!  As you look through all the paperwork it may be hard to know where to start, but one thing you will want to take care of right away is completing your kitten’s registrations paperwork.  You will find a CFA “Blue Slip” in the envelope attached to the crate.

CFA (which stands for Cat Fancier’s Association), is the premier cat registry in the United States.  Founded in 1906, they recognize 42 pedigreed breeds of cats, and manage the registries for hundreds of catteries across the country.  CFA works to maintain a focus on quality of breed standards, provides a platform for cat shows and exhibitor events, and is an advocate of promoting the welfare of all cats.

Here is what you need to know about getting your kitten registered.

Step 1: The Blue Slip

When your kitten was born we completed the first step by completing a Litter Registration.  Basically, that just means we notified CFA that we had a new litter of American Shorthair kittens, parented by Cat A x Cat B.  CFA then provided a “blue slip” for each kitten in the litter.  This “blue slip” is your registration application.

The “blue slip” looks something like this:Image of example CFA blue slip

Every kitten coming from Silver Shorthairs, will include TALARIAH (our registered cattery name) at the beginning of your chosen registered name.  This helps the registry and others to track breeding lines.  You will have 2 choices for your kitten’s registered name.  We recommend adding something extra to keep it personal to you.  For example, “Shadow” and “Max” are very common names for new kittens, so “Talariah Shadow” might get decined if another family has already selected that name for their kitten, but “Talariah Tennessee Shadow” or “Talariah Shadow Maker” have a much better chance of getting approved.

Next, be sure to fill out all your personal contact information so CFA will know where to send the completed registration form.

Image of example CFA blue slip pen number detailStep 2: Full registration or Limited Registration

On the right hand side of the form you will also see SECTION C.  Note the bottom red box where it says “PIN”.  If you have purchased a Pet Quality kitten, this box will be empty.  If you have purchased a Show/Breeder Quality kitten though, there will be a number written in this box.

This is how CFA will know whether your kitten has a full registration or a limited registration.  A kitten with a full registration has breeding rights.  This means that if you chose to breed your cat with another purebred American Shorthair, any resulting kittens could also be registered.  A limited registration does not include breeding rights, and thus, any produced would NOT be registerable.

Step 3: Fees and Address

Once you have completed your registration form, you will want to pop it into the mail with a check to cover the registration fee and mail it to the good ol’ folks at CFA (Address: The Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc., 260 East Main Street Alliance, Ohio 44601).   The registration fee is currently just $14.00 if you send it in within 30 days of receiving your kitten, or $19.00 if more than 30 days have passed.  We find it usually takes 2-3 weeks after mailing an application before we get the registration certificate back from CFA.

When your registration certificate comes back to you, it will look something like this:

Image of example CFA registration form

 

 

Making sense of the shorthair cats – American vs. Domestic vs. British

Web Image of Example of Domestic Shorthair red tabby
Domestic shorthair red tabby Photo: ©  http://www.glogirly.com/

Have you ever wondered, “What’s the difference between the American Shorthair (ASH), the British Shorthair (BSH), and the Domestic Shorthair (DSH) breeds?”  I know we certainly did!

When our family first began our life with purebred cats we found ourselves on a an intense ride with much to learn.

Growing up on a rural farm in the Pacific Northwest, I had once assumed that cats were pretty much all created equal.  There were shorthair cats and longhair cats of a variety of color patterns.  Black and white tuxedo cats, calicos, and garden variety tabbies were common place.  Occasionally, we would chance upon a beautiful seal point and globally identify them all as “Siamese”.

Web Image of National Winner Teddy Cat Hugo Blue British Shorthair
British Shorthair NW TEDDY-CAT HUGO Photo: ©  http://cfa.org/

My introduction to the purebred British Shorthair came many years later, about 2 years prior to acquiring our first purebred cat (an American Shorthair kitten we named Hannah).  Family friends had recently brought home a British Blue Shorthair (BSH) cat.  She was in all ways the stereotypical BSH.  A stout, compact cat, with the ever popular, dense plush blue coat.  Her broad head and wide eyes were reminiscent of Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat.  And her laid back, independent attitude was a magnet for us all.  My whole family was intrigued.

 

Web Image of Grand champion National Winner KELLOGGS ROCK N ROLL REBEL an American Shorthair classic silver tabby
American Shorthair GC, NW KELLOGGS ROCK ‘N’ ROLL REBEL Photo: ©  http://cfa.org/

As we began to research the British Shorthair breed we soon came across its distant cousin — the incredible American Shorthair Cat.  We found ourselves immediately drawn to the spectacular classic tabbies.  Knowing ourselves and our active family, we were looking for a bold, affectionate, confident and kid-friendly cat.  The “working cat” history as a well-bred mouser also appealed to us on or family farm.

Below, we’ve outline a few of the key characteristics of these commonly confused terms, “Domestic Shorthair”, “American Shorthair”, and “British Shorthair” cats.

 

  Domestic Shorthair American Shorthair British Shorthair
Abbreviation DSH ASH BSH
Pedigreed Not Purebred Purebred Purebred
Physical traits Varies, but frequently not at robust as the ASH/BSH.  Head tends to be more angular, and eyes are more almond shaped Broad head with large round eyes and robust build. Strong bodied, agile, and athletic.

 

“Teddy Bear-like” with a broad head and large round eyes.

Solidly framed body with a tendency toward obesity.

 

Size Varies Medium to large build Slightly smaller & more compact than the ASH
Weight Varies – 8-12 pounds 11-16 pounds 7-18 pounds
Coat Short Coat Short, Thick, Lustrous, Soft Coat Short, Dense, Plush Coat
Color Varies – all Silver Tabby (most common), also red, brown, blue & smoke tabbies, shaded silvers, black, cameo and tortoiseshell, with or without white Blue (most common) also black, white, lilac, silver tabby, shaded silver, tortoiseshell and chocolate, with or without white
Personality Varies Active, curious, easygoing, playful, confident, adaptable, affectionate

Often get along well with other animals, including dogs

Easygoing, gentle, loyal, patient, poised, shy, affectionate, but often do not like to be picked up
Web Image of GC BWC NW CAT LIFE MOONFACE American Shorthair silver and white tabby
American Shorthair GC, BWC, NW CAT LIFE MOONFACE Photo: ©  http://cfa.org/

We’d be the first to agree that ALL cats are fantastic, incredible creatures, regardless of their breeding, lineage, or availability of a pedigree.  Having a pedigree will certainly not make one cat more suitable than another to be a loving and faithful companion.  One of my dearest pets was a regular old, every day, “moggie” barn cat.  But the pedigrees do allow breeders to continue to develop and showcase the beautifully unique characteristics of these magnificent felines we love.

 

Photo Compraison: Domestic Shorthair vs. British Shorthair

Web Image of Example of Domestic Shorthair tuxedo cat
Domestic Shorthair Photo: ©  http://www.petguide.com/
Web Image of China NW Snowdance Melan British Shorthair Cat
British Shorthair CHINA NW SNOWDANCE MELAN Photo: ©  http://cfa.org/

Photo Compraison: British Shorthair vs. American Shorthair

Web Image of Bagira Lovely Panther CZ British Shorthair Silver Tabby
British Shorthair BAGIRA LOVELY PANTHER *CZ Photo: ©  http://www.nodemetra.lv/
Web-Image-American-Shorthair-Silver-Tabby
American Shorthair Silver Tabby Photo: © http://www.pets-of-the-realm.com/

Photo Compraison: Domestic Shorthair vs. American Shorthair

Web-Image-DomesticShorthair-Tabby
Domestic shorthair brown tabby Photo: © http://www.coolcattreehouse.com
Image of American shorthair brown tabby round eyes broad head face
American shorthair brown tabby Photo: © http://www.silvershorthairs.com

 

Let’s Talk Tabby: Identifying Cat Coat Patterns

A tabby cat is a cat of any breeding that displays a coat pattern featuring stripes, swirls, dots and rings.  The tabby pattern is determined by the agouti gene which controls the distribution of pigment within each hair of the cat.

Web-Image-Agouti-Hair-Diagram
Diagram of Agouti color banding on individual hairs Image: © http://www.catterypatchwork.nl

While the tabby pattern is common in many breeds, it is not a breed in and of itself.  Both longhair and shorthair coated cats may exhibit a tabby pattern. You will find tabby cats in a vast array of coat colors as well, ranging including cream, cameo, lilac, seal, gray, silver, red, brown, golden, cinnamon, chocolate, blue and black smoke.

 

There are 4 distinct tabby patterns:  Classic Tabby, Mackerel Tabby, Spotted Tabby and the Ticked Tabby.

Let’s take a look at the key features of each here:


The Classic Tabby Pattern

This tabby pattern is characterized by broad bands of dark striping against a lighter background.  On the forehead between the eyes there is a characteristic “M”, on each side of the cat you will see a concentric swirl called the “bullseye”, on the back between the shoulders there is a lighter area knowns as the “butterfly”, and 3 dark stripes follow along the spine.  Additionally, many classic tabbies will have spotted bellies and striped bands around the neck and down the legs. These striped markings are known as necklaces and bracelets.


The Mackerel Tabby Pattern

Like the Classic tabby, the Mackerel tabby also sports a characteristic “M” on its brow.  The stripes of the mackerel tabby tend to be narrower though, and run vertically across the body of the cat.


The Spotted Tabby Pattern

The spotted tabby pattern is most frequently seen in the Australian Mist, Bengal, Egyptian Mau, Maine Coon, and Ocicat breeds. This tabby pattern is generated by a color modifier that interrupts the stripes of the Classic or Mackerel tabby patterns and creates the appearance of spots instead. In some cases you will note three distinct coat colors within the spotted tabby pattern: a dark ring surrounding a lighter “spot”, both of which rest on a lighter still base coat color (see photo examples below).


The Ticked Tabby Pattern

Unlike the previous tabby patterns, ticked tabbies may show few visible stripes across their bodies.  The striping instead occurs on each individual hair within the cat’s coat, as determined by the agouti gene.  Many ticked tabbies will display barring or “ghost striping”  on the legs and tail, and may also show a darker line down the spine.