Snake Invasion Training

A couple years ago, we had two actual snakes invade our house. Ever since then, Pierre has been training for the next snake invasion.

Today, we have a sneak peek into his training regimen.

Pierre: First, you have to bring the training snake out for the training exercise.

gray tabby cat carries green worm toy

Hmm, this smells like it was stored next to the catnip. Clearly a diversionary tactic to prevent me from doing my anti-snake infiltration training.

gray tabby cat sniffs green worm toy

Okay, back to the training exercise. The next step is to grab the snake and show it who’s the boss.

gray tabby cat attacks gray worm toy

Give that snake a good bite to break its neck.


gray tabby cat bites green worm toy

Do you give up, snake? Do you?

gray tabby cat looks upside down at green worm toy

Snake? Are you still alive? I hope so. Newton hasn’t had a turn with you yet. 

gray tabby cat reaches for green worm toy

That concludes our snake invasion training for today. Are you prepared for a snake invasion at your house?

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Lysine for Feline Herpesvirus: Does it Help?

Often when someone says their cat has an upper respiratory infection, they are advised by friends who have had cats for years that they should sprinkle some lysine on the sick kitty’s food. However, a look over the body of research available indicates that lysine supplementation does not help cats with Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1).

What is Feline Herpesvirus?

Feline Herpesvirus (FHV-1) is one of the main causes of upper respiratory infections in cats, and it is directly or indirectly accounts for over 90% of feline eye diseases. The virus is very common, and many cats are exposed to it as kittens by an infected mother caring for them.

sick tortoiseshell kitten, cc image courtesy flickr/pmarkham

The virus transmits between cats through:

  • Direct contact through saliva or through nasal or eye secretions
  • Inhaling sneeze droplets of an infected cat
  • Sharing food bowls and litter boxes
  • Sharing contaminated bedding or grooming aids

FHV-1 Infection Symptoms

At the time the cat is infected, the main symptom of FHV-1 is an upper respiratory infection, including discharge from the eyes and nose, sneezing, fever, lethargy, and sometimes coughing.

sick siamese kitten, cc image courtesy flickr/kayveeinc

After the upper respiratory symptoms are gone, the virus remains in an inactive status in the nerve cells of most cats. A little under half of those cats will have the virus reactivate at some time later during their life. The FHV-1 virus reactivates when the cat is under stress, including emotional or physical stress. Additionally, some drugs like corticosteroids are likely to reactivate latent FHV-1 in a cat.

When the virus reactivates in a cat, the cat might show upper respiratory symptoms mentioned above, or the kitty might instead only shed the virus, becoming contagious to other cats without appearing sick.

Less commonly, cats with chronic FHV infections have inflamed corneas (the clear covering of the eye) that can lead to ulcers in the eye.

Why Do People Expect Lysine Would Help with FHV-1?

Dr. Andrew Weil, an integrative physician for humans, recommends that people with the viruses that cause herpes in humans, HSV-1 and HSV-2, reduce the amount of the amino acid arginine in the diet and increase their intake of the amino acid lysine to reduce symptoms. There is mixed evidence about this, practice, but it is frequently repeated advice both around the internet and through veterinarians.


The theory behind this is that lysine interferes with the replication of the virus by blocking the body’s uptake of arginine, which can worsen herpes outbreaks. Human bodies create arginine naturally but require dietary lysine, so dietary modifications and/or supplementation are suggested.

Cats, Lysine and Arginine

Cats and humans aren’t the same. An overview of all of the previous research done on lysine and FHV-1 showed that lysine does not inhibit arginine in cats. This means that there isn’t really a purpose behind supplementing cats with lysine.

cat holding beakers, image credit: depositphotos/funny_cats

Unlike with humans, cats don’t create arginine. Finding ways to reduce arginine in their diet isn’t necessarily beneficial because arginine deficiency can result in excess ammonia in the blood, a condition that can be fatal.

The evidence found that orally supplementing cats with lysine was not effective and in some cases can enhance FHV-1 viral replication, making infection worse.

Belief Perseverance

When this research first came out last year, internet discussions about it tended to say, “I have seen kittens get better when supplementing them with lysine, so I will continue to give it to sick kittens.” Comments on articles dismissed the research instead of looking more closely at it to see if maybe their perceptions of it had been flawed.

red tabby cat at computer keyboard, image credit: depositphotos/belchonock

Maintaining beliefs and theories against explicit conflicting evidence isn’t unusual. The psychological phenomenon actually has a name: belief perseverance. Behaviors we think are beneficial are especially hard to break, but over time, this may change in the face of the evidence that cat physiology doesn’t work like human physiology.

Do you think that one day, giving cats with upper respiratory infections lysine will be like feeding cats milk is today: a practice that used to be common and is now considered old-fashioned?

Research and further reading

Bio Med Central, Lysine supplementation is not effective for the prevention or treatment of feline herpesvirus 1 infection in cats: a systematic review
International Cat Care, Feline herpesvirus (FHV) infection
Michigan Veterinary Medical Association conference proceedings, FHV-1, Can One Virus Cause All Those Diseases?
Journal of Nutrition, Excess Dietary Lysine Does Not Cause Lysine-Arginine Antagonism in Adult Cats

Image credits

Creative commons images courtesy flickr/pmarkham, kayveein
depositphotos/designer491, funny_cats, belchonock

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What to do about Hairball Awareness Day

Ashton: Did you know that today is Hairball Awareness Day? With it being springtime and cats shedding their winter coats, some of your humans may have become aware of hairballs by stepping on them recently.

one-eyed brown tabby cat

So today I wanted to show you how I keep from leaving hairballs around for my humans to step on. I get groomed! It’s not that I don’t do a good job grooming myself. But this time of year, it’s easy to swallow a lot of hair while you’re going about your daily beauty routines, and that can lead to an upset stomach or even require a trip to the vet if you can’t bring the hairball back up.

The main thing about being groomed is to find a brush or other grooming tool that works for you. I like being groomed with the Furminator. It feels good, and it helps to pull out a lot of my undercoat. You can see some of the hair it has pulled out collecting next to me in this photo.

one-eyed brown tabby cat inspects grooming tool

The same kind of grooming tools don’t work for every cat. Pierre has a thinner coat, and the Furminator irritates his sensitive skin. He does better with a brush that has little plastic balls at the end of each tine to protect his skin. The important thing is that your humans find a brush that works for you, and that they use it to get the extra hair off of you so you don’t have to do it yourself.

It’s also important to inspect your human’s work, because you never know whether it will be good enough or not. Good help is so hard to find.

one-eyed brown tabby cat gets brushed

So check it out, this is the hair that came off of me during today’s grooming session. 

hair removed from cat during grooming

Do you think I can make it into a cat shape and scare Pierre and Newton with it?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we get a small commission for our cat treat fund if you purchase after clicking the link on this page.

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Newton’s Stealth

Ashton: He’s behind me, isn’t he? I don’t even like being on the same piece of furniture as Newton. I don’t trust him!

orange tabby cat lurks behind one-eyed brown tabby cat on bed

Ashton: What’s he doing back there? It’s making me nervous.

one-eyed tabby cat looks back

Newton: She’s onto me!

one-eyed brown tabby cat looks apprehensive that orange tabby cat is behind her

Newton: ZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

Orange tabby cat sleeps on bed

Ashton: Whew, I thought for sure he was back there looking at me, about to pounce.

one-eyed brown tabby cat on bed

Newton: It worked! I think I fooled her. Do you sneak up on other cats or humans and then pretend you aren’t doing it?

orange tabby cat on bed

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