My Experience Adopting a Lovely Stray Cat

adopting a stray cat
While adopting a stray cat shows compassion, there may be some challenges to consider. Find some useful tips to make a stray cat feel like home, and read about my own personal experience adopting a stray cat, Pinky, here.

Tips for Adopting a Stray Cat and Making It Feel Like Home

Before adopting a stray cat, you should consider whether your home is going to be a safe and suitable environment for the cat. If you have other pets, think about their behavior and personalities. Will they welcome a new member of the family? Additionally, you should make sure the stray cat doesn’t have a human family already.

It is important to take things slowly when adopting a stray cat. Because you don’t know the cat’s background or history, you probably won’t know what he or she has experienced in the past. For instance, he or she may be very timid, aggressive, or scare easily. In order to make the transition easier, you should keep him or her in a designated area or room with food, water, and a litterbox. This room should be just for the cat, a place where he or she can rest and feel safe. While a stray kitten may accept and be accepted by others pretty easily, an adult stray cat may take longer to adjust.

If you decide to bring a stray cat into your home, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. While it may be difficult to lure him or her into a carrier, a visit to the vet is very important. Stray cats may have ear mites and fleas. They also may not be spayed, neutered, or vaccinated. In taking your stray cat to the vet, you can ensure the safety of your new pet.

1. Prepare Hiding Spots

If you’ve ever spent time with a cat, you know that they love tiny spaces. Whether it’s an empty cardboard box or a spot between two pillows, a cat will wriggle their way into the opening. Besides being super cute, having safe hiding spots for your new kitty is important for making them feel safe. In addition to cat-proofing your home, plan to have a few quiet places for your new pet to ‘hide’ as it adjusts to its new environment. All cats need their own little hideouts, but former strays especially, as they’re so used to having all the space they want.

2. Have Them Checked Out By A Vet

If you’re adopting a cat that’s spent some time without a proper home and care, you probably have no idea what their medical history is or whether they have any current health issues. As soon as you’ve decided to take a cat in, for the wellbeing of all involved, schedule a veterinary appointment. The vet will be able to check for parasites like ear mites and fleas, which often affect cats who have been living without a home. Have a vet check whether they’re spayed or neutered as well.

3. Round-Up All Supplies

Of course, once you become a cat parent, you’ll have to make sure that you have all of their necessities on hand. The top priorities are a litter box and food, Ochoa says, so grab those from the store before you welcome in the fur baby. The first thing your cat is going to want to do when they get home is to use the bathroom, so make sure that you have everything set up in a spot where they can have easy access to it. There are plenty of fun things to buy too, like toys, treats, and a collar, but food and litter cannot wait, so be sure to get those.

Dry food & wet food

Litter

Litter box or litter tray

Litter spoon

Wet wipes

Transportation box

Food and water dispenser

Scratching post

Blanket/ Bed

Cat collar

Brush

Flea ampoules

4. Budget For Their Expenses

It’s easy to want to help an adorable cat who needs a home, but it’s crucial to make sure that it’s really a possibility for you when it comes to logistics. Taking on a new pet is basically like a new child — they can be really expensive. Make sure to asses your budget so you can dedicate the time and money your new fur baby deserves. This could include anything from food to kitty litter to unexpected medical expenses, so just make sure that you’re prepared.

5. Be Patient With Them

If you’re adopting a cat, chances are you’re very excited to have them as part of your family. But it’s important to keep in mind that for them, this could be a scary time of transition. Even if they’re glad to have food, a place to sleep, and the love you can offer them, they might be very scared. Know that easing a new cat into your family will take time. It is going to be a challenging process, so patience is key. Allow the cat to get close to you on its own terms and give it lots of love.


My Experience Adopting a Stray Cat

Day 1

On the 24th of April 2020, I went to the place where we had found the stray cat colony, next to our place, and the cat I liked the most was there. I called Alejandro and ask him to come and bring the transportation box we had bought that morning with him. With some food as a bait, we managed to trap the cat and took him straight to the vet.

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The vet checked him out, but since the cat was scared, he didn’t want to sedate him or anything. He just gave me some ampoules for the fleas and that was it. He said we should put the cat in a separate room until he gets used to his new environment, and said that we need to be patient because it might take some time for that to happen. In two weeks’ time, we should take Pinky (that’s the name we chose for him) to the vet again for some blood tests.

We brought Pinky home and prepared our spare room for him, with some food, water, litter, boxes for him to hide, etc. We then sat on the floor and opened the transportation box. He was super scared and just ran out of it, and climbed the wardrobe. After a while, he came down and went hiding under the bed – that’s his favorite spot to hide ever since. I felt bad when I saw him so scared, but everyone told me it’s normal and it’s going to take some time for him to adapt.

Day 2

On Saturday, day 2, I started panicking because I thought Pinky was not eating or drinking water at all. At night, I laid down on the floor, next to the bed where he was hiding, and read my book for a bit.

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-25 at 13.54.19

After a while, I used an app I found online with sounds to calm down scared cats, and it worked actually! I laid there, looking at Pinky, with the music on, and saw that he was getting more and more relaxed, and even changed places twice. I think it’s good that he’s getting used to our presence in the same room. Before leaving the room, I left some treats and freshwater. I read it’s good that he associates our presence with good things.

Day 3

In the morning I was happy when I found out that Pinky had used the litter tray to pee and poop! I was so scared the previous night when I read online that some cats actually starve to death when they are scared – and that with only 3 days without water a cat can die! I found lots of proof that he had peed and pooped in the litter box, and now at least I’m not scared of that anymore. I laid on the floor again, reading, next to Pinky. Then I used another app with cat sounds, but I think some of those sounds were of angry cats, and Pinky got really agitated! It was not a good idea. However, overall, I start seeing some small improvements, he doesn’t seem so scared of us anymore.


Update: On Day 4 he stopped being afraid of us and let us pet him, and every since he’s super lovely with us, and we are super happy as a family! 🙂


Check other posts about other subjects that don’t fall under one of the main categories in the Others section of my blog

How to Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Mental Health
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. Learn more about the causes, symptoms, risk factors, tests, and preventive measures here!

What is Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person’s ability to function independently.

The early signs of the disease may be forgetting recent events or conversations. As the disease progresses, a person with Alzheimer’s disease will develop severe memory impairment and lose the ability to carry out everyday tasks.

Current Alzheimer’s disease medications may temporarily improve symptoms or slow the rate of decline. These treatments can sometimes help people with Alzheimer’s disease maximize function and maintain independence for a time. There is no treatment that cures Alzheimer’s disease or alters the disease process in the brain. In advanced stages of the disease, complications from severe loss of brain function — such as dehydration, malnutrition or infection — result in death.


Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Memory

Everyone has occasional memory lapses. It’s normal to lose track of where you put your keys or forget the name of an acquaintance. But the memory loss associated with Alzheimer’s disease persists and worsens, affecting the ability to function at work or at home.

People with Alzheimer’s may:

  • Repeat statements and questions over and over
  • Forget conversations, appointments or events, and not remember them later
  • Routinely misplace possessions, often putting them in illogical locations
  • Get lost in familiar places
  • Eventually, forget the names of family members and everyday objects
  • Have trouble finding the right words to identify objects, express thoughts or take part in conversations

Thinking and reasoning

Alzheimer’s disease causes difficulty concentrating and thinking, especially about abstract concepts such as numbers. Multitasking is especially difficult, and it may be challenging to manage finances, balance checkbooks and pay bills on time. These difficulties may progress to an inability to recognize and deal with numbers.

Making judgments and decisions

The ability to make reasonable decisions and judgments in everyday situations will decline. For example, a person may make poor or uncharacteristic choices in social interactions or wear clothes that are inappropriate for the weather. It may be more difficult to respond effectively to everyday problems, such as food burning on the stove or unexpected driving situations.

Planning and performing familiar tasks

Once-routine activities that require sequential steps, such as planning and cooking a meal or playing a favorite game, become a struggle as the disease progresses. Eventually, people with advanced Alzheimer’s may forget how to perform basic tasks such as dressing and bathing.

Changes in personality and behavior

Brain changes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease can affect moods and behaviors. Problems may include the following:

  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Social withdrawal
  • Mood swings
  • Distrust in others
  • Irritability and aggressiveness
  • Changes in sleeping habits
  • Wandering
  • Loss of inhibitions
  • Delusions, such as believing something has been stolen

Preserved skills

Many important skills are preserved for longer periods even while symptoms worsen. Preserved skills may include reading or listening to books, telling stories and reminiscing, singing, listening to music, dancing, drawing, or doing crafts. These skills may be preserved longer because they are controlled by parts of the brain affected later in the course of the disease.


Causes for Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientists believe that for most people, Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a combination of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that affect the brain over time. Less than 1 percent of the time, Alzheimer’s is caused by specific genetic changes that virtually guarantee a person will develop the disease. These rare occurrences usually result in disease onset in middle age.

The exact causes of Alzheimer’s disease aren’t fully understood, but at its core are problems with brain proteins that fail to function normally, disrupt the work of brain cells (neurons) and unleash a series of toxic events. Neurons are damaged, lose connections to each other and eventually die.

The damage most often starts in the region of the brain that controls memory, but the process begins years before the first symptoms. The loss of neurons spreads in a somewhat predictable pattern to other regions of the brain. By the late stage of the disease, the brain has shrunk significantly.

Researchers are focused on the role of two proteins:

  • Plaques: Beta-amyloid is a leftover fragment of a larger protein. When these fragments cluster together, they appear to have a toxic effect on neurons and to disrupt cell-to-cell communication. These clusters form larger deposits called amyloid plaques, which also include other cellular debris.
  • Tangles: Tau proteins play a part in a neuron’s internal support and transport system to carry nutrients and other essential materials. In Alzheimer’s disease, tau proteins change shape and organize themselves into structures called neurofibrillary tangles. The tangles disrupt the transport system and are toxic to cells.

Alzheimer’s Disease Risk Factors

Age

age

The biggest risk for Alzheimer’s disease is increasing age. The risk for Alzheimer’s disease doubles every five years after age 65, and the incidence is nearly one in three after age 85. One study found that annually there were 2 new diagnoses per 1,000 people ages 65-74, 11 per 1,000 people ages 75-84, and 37 per 1,000 people age 85+.

Family history and genetics

Family history

Family history is also a significant risk factor. People who have a parent or sibling with Alzheimer’s disease are at higher risk, as are those who have multiple affected family members. Most genetic mechanisms of Alzheimer’s among families remain largely unexplained, and the genetic factors are likely complex.

One better understood genetic factor is a form of the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE). A variation of the gene, APOE e4, increases the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, but not everyone with this variation of the gene develops the disease.

In my case in specific, my father suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. I did a DNA test with MyHeritage. Unfortunately, I found out that I’m likely to develop late on-set Alzheimer’s as well, as I have two copies of that gene APOE e4:

a
b

This means that I have a significantly increased risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease. While this risk is higher than of the general population, it does not necessarily mean that I’ll develop Alzheimer’s disease. Genetic risk estimates are calculated using the latest research on how common this condition is in the general population.

This is my risk, compared to the general population:

c
d
e

When two copies of a pathogenic variant are detected, like in my case, this suggests that my family members may also have an increased genetic risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

This means that it is almost certain that any children I have one day will also inherit this variant, unfortunately.

Down syndrome

Many people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s disease. This is likely related to having three copies of chromosome 21 — and subsequently three copies of the gene for the protein that leads to the creation of beta-amyloid. Signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s tend to appear 10 to 20 years earlier in people with Down syndrome than they do for the general population.

Gender

age

Women seem to have a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than men. This risk may be anywhere from 1.5 up to 3 times as high as that of men of the same age. A contributing factor to this risk may be that women generally live longer than men and therefore have greater risk as they get older.

Ethnicity

ethnicity

Latinos have a 1.5 times greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease while African American’s risk is two times that of Caucasians. The reason for this difference is not well understood but may be linked to the higher incidence of heart disease in those two ethnic groups.

Brain inactivity and trauma

Brain trauma

There appears to be a link between lower educational levels and a lack of brain stimulation and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, people who’ve had a severe head trauma have a greater risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Poor sleep patterns

Research has shown that poor sleep patterns, such as difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Lifestyle and heart health

k

Damage to the blood vessels of the brain that result from heart or vascular conditions like stroke, heart disease, and high blood pressure also seems to result in a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Some studies show that high blood pressure in middle age is strongly correlated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Research has shown that the same risk factors associated with heart disease may also increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. These include:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Obesity*
  • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Poorly controlled type 2 diabetes
obesity

*Being overweight can double the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Individuals who are considered obese may have up to three times the risk compared to those in a normal weight range.


Alzheimer’s Disease Diagnosis

A key component of a diagnostic assessment is self-reporting about symptoms, as well as the information that a close family member or friend can provide about symptoms and their impact on daily life. Additionally, a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is based on tests a doctor administers to assess memory and thinking skills.

Laboratory and imaging tests can rule out other potential causes or help the doctor better characterize the disease that’s causing dementia symptoms.

The entire set of diagnostic tools is designed to detect dementia and determine with relatively high accuracy whether Alzheimer’s disease or another condition is the cause. Alzheimer’s disease can be diagnosed with complete certainty only after death when microscopic examination of the brain reveals the characteristic plaques and tangles.

Tests

A diagnostic work-up would likely include the following tests:

  • Physical and neurological exam: to assess overall neurological health by testing the reflexes, muscle tone and strength, ability to get up from a chair and walk across the room, sense of sight and hearing, coordination, and balance.
  • Lab tests: blood tests done to rule out other potential causes of memory loss and confusion, such as a thyroid disorder or vitamin deficiencies.
  • Mental status and neuropsychological tests: to assess memory and other thinking skills. These tests are also important for establishing a starting point to track the progression of symptoms in the future.
  • Brain imaging tests: images of the brain to pinpoint visible abnormalities related to conditions other than Alzheimer’s disease — such as strokes, trauma or tumors — that may cause cognitive change. New imaging applications — currently used primarily in major medical centers or in clinical trials — may enable doctors to detect specific brain changes caused by Alzheimer’s. Imaging of brain structures include the following:
    • Magnetic resonance image (MRI) scans, that are used to rule out other conditions;
    • Computerized Tomography (CT) scans, to check the ‘slices’ of your brain and rule out tumors, strokes, and head injuries;
    • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scans, where a low-level radioactive tracer is injected into the blood to reveal a particular feature in the brain. There are several types of PET scans. Fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET scans show areas of the brain in which nutrients are poorly metabolized. Identifying patterns of degeneration — areas of low metabolism — can help distinguish between Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. Amyloid PET can measure the burden of amyloid deposits in the brain. This imaging is primarily used in research but may be used if a person has an unusual or very early onset of dementia symptoms. Tau PET, which measures the burden of neurofibrillary tangles in the brain, and is only used in research;
    • In special circumstances, such as rapidly progressive dementia or very early onset dementia, other tests may be used to measure abnormal beta-amyloid or tau in the cerebrospinal fluid.
  • Future diagnostic tests: researchers are working on tests that can measure the biological evidence of disease processes in the brain. These tests may improve the accuracy of diagnoses and enable earlier diagnosis before the onset of symptoms.

Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention and Treatment

Alzheimer’s disease is not a preventable condition. However, a number of lifestyle risk factors for Alzheimer’s can be modified. Evidence suggests that changes in diet, exercise and habits — steps to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease — may also lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders that cause dementia. Heart-healthy lifestyle choices that may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s include the following:

  • Exercise regularly: activities such as a daily walk can help improve mood and maintain the health of joints, muscles and the heart. Exercise can also promote restful sleep and prevent constipation;
  • Eat a diet of fresh produce, healthy oils and foods low in saturated fat: changing some habits can to some degree alter your risk. For example, having a healthy low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. Drinking lots of water every day is also very important. Avoid beverages with caffeine, which can increase restlessness, interfere with sleep and trigger a frequent need to urinate;
  • Follow treatment guidelines to manage high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol;
  • If you smoke, ask your doctor for help to quit smoking;
  • Studies have shown that certain activities can help reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and support the skills that are preserved, like participating in social events, reading, dancing, playing board games, creating art, gardening, or playing an instrument.

Drugs

Current Alzheimer’s medications can help for a time with memory symptoms and other cognitive changes. Two types of drugs are currently used to treat cognitive symptoms:

  • Cholinesterase Inhibitors: These drugs work by boosting levels of cell-to-cell communication by preserving a chemical messenger that is depleted in the brain by Alzheimer’s disease. The improvement is modest. Cholinesterase inhibitors may also improve neuropsychiatric symptoms, such as agitation or depression. Commonly prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors include the following (however, the main side effects of these drugs include diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite and sleep disturbances, and for people with cardiac conduction disorders, serious side effects may include cardiac arrhythmia):
    • Donepezil (Aricept);
    • Galantamine (Razadyne);
    • Rivastigmine (Exelon).
  • Memantine (Namenda): This drug works in another brain cell communication network and slows the progression of symptoms with moderate to severe Alzheimer’s disease. It’s sometimes used in combination with a cholinesterase inhibitor. Relatively rare side effects include dizziness and confusion.

Sometimes other medications such as antidepressants may be prescribed to help control the behavioral symptoms associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Mayo Clinic does clinical trials, testing new treatments, interventions and tests as a means to prevent, detect, treat or manage this disease.


Alternative medicine

Various herbal remedies, vitamins and other supplements are widely promoted as preparations that may support cognitive health or prevent or delay Alzheimer’s. Clinical trials have produced mixed results with little evidence to support them as effective treatments.

Some of the treatments that have been studied recently include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids in fish or from supplements may lower the risk of developing dementia, but clinical studies have shown no benefit for treating Alzheimer’s disease symptoms;
1
  • Curcumin: This herb comes from turmeric and has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that might affect chemical processes in the brain. So far, clinical trials have found no benefit for treating Alzheimer’s disease;
2
  • Ginkgo: Ginkgo is a plant extract containing several medicinal properties. A large study funded by the National Institutes of Health found no effect in preventing or delaying Alzheimer’s disease;
3
  • Vitamin E: Although vitamin E isn’t effective for preventing Alzheimer’s, taking 2,000 international units daily may help delay the progression in people who already have the disease.
4

However, study results have been mixed, with only some showing this benefit. Further research into the safety of 2,000 international units daily of Vitamin E in a dementia population will be needed before it can be routinely recommended.


Check other posts about other subjects that don’t fit under one of the main categories in the Others section of my blog