Female cats aggressive towards cat who just gave birth

Cat_nursing_newborn_kittens

We have five indoor cats (4 females and 1 male), all rescued as kittens, and one of them gave birth to five kittens yesterday. Now we are witnessing behavior we’ve never observed in all our previous cats, ever: Female cats aggressive towards cat who just gave birth.

Newborn_kittens
Welcome the five newest members of the family.

I tried googling this phenomenon to find out the reason behind it and hopefully get advice on how to handle the situation. But most of the information I found were about the mother cat exhibiting aggression, and not other female cats being aggressive towards the mother.

Miruku and Kamiya, the two unspayed females, are the ones who show the worst aggression. They hiss, puff their fur, and even attack with their claws when they see Paddington, the mommy of the 5 kittens. (She’s called Paddington because she was rescued from a rice ‘paddy’, and we initially thought she was a he).

female cats aggressive towards cat who just gave birth
Miruku, an unspayed female, hisses at Paddington, the cat who just gave birth.
female cats aggressive towards cat who just gave birth
Kamiya, another unspayed female, is also not happy about Paddington giving birth.

Paddington is trying to remain calm through all this. She comes up to us for cuddles, as if seeking comfort and reprieve from her tormentors.

Cocoa, the spayed female, shows no increased aggression (emphasis on no increase). She is the loner among the five, and has always acted like a total b*tch towards everybody, including her humans. But now, she’s like an angel compared to Miruku and Kamiya!

spayed female cat shows less aggression towards cat who just gave birth
Cocoa, our spayed female, is not too affected by the newborn kittens.

Ally, the neutered male, does not care at all. He’s always been the chill one, even before we had him fixed. Always been as cool as a cucumber.

Ally_male_neutered_cat
The male neutered cat Ally is the definition of calm.

I’ve read about closely related female cats taking care of each other’s kittens. So maybe the explanation for the female cats showing aggression towards the new mother is because they are not related at all.

You’ve heard of other female animals committing infanticide on the babies of another female. They do this for various reasons. In meerkats, dominant females kill the babies of subordinates so the latter can act as nurses for her own babies.  In chimpanzees, they do it due to competition for foraging areas.

Maybe the aggression of Miruku and Kamiya towards Paddington is an extension of negative feelings towards the new kittens.

Right now, we are not sure how to deal with this bad behavior from these two female cats. Have you had female cats aggressive towards cat who just gave birth? I’d love to know how you dealt with the problem.

So far though, the other cats have kept relatively distant from the area of the house where we placed the box where Paddington is nesting. We are hoping that in time, everyone will come to accept the new kittens as part of the family.

Vegetable Gardening at Home: How To Grow Bok Choy In Containers

Bok choy in containers

JULY VEGETABLE OF THE MONTH IS BOK CHOY or PECHAY

Scientific Name: Brassica rapa subsp. chinensis
Family: Brassicaceae (Cabbage family)

How to grow Bok Choy in containers is fairly easy. But before that, a little background. The word Bok Choy comes from a Chinese term that literally translates to “blue-green vegetable.” And if you stare at the dark green leaves of this vegetable, you may indeed detect a bluish hue. A mainstay in Chinese cuisine, this has very low calories (20 calories per cup!), and is full of Vitamins A, C, and K, and lots of minerals like Potassium and Calcium.

How to grow Bok Choy in containers
Bok choy can grow quite well in 1.5L soda bottles.
Tips on how to grow Bok Choy in containers

When growing Bok Choy in containers in your home garden, keep in mind the following tips:

  1. Use containers that are at least 15 cm (6 inches) deep. In my experience, 1.5 liter soda bottles seem to work fine.
  2. Well-drained, loamy soil is best. These plants hate watery soil
  3. Germinate seeds in a seedling tray.
  4. Transfer seedlings to containers when at least 2 or 3 true leaves have appeared. Make sure to keep that the center of the whorl where the new leaves appear above the soil level.
  5. Keep plants in sunny area with at least 6 hours of daylight.
  6. Never allow soil to dry up. These plants wilt easily.
  7. To avoid cabbage worms, loopers, etc., you may choose to cover plants with a net or spray with an organic pesticide.
  8. Harvest only outer large leaves to keep the supply going for a longer time.

Note: These tips on how to grow bok choy in containers are based on my experience. Other gardeners sow the seeds directly in the pots. I prefer to transfer so that the hypocotyl (lower stem) can be planted below soil level (see photo below).

bok choy seedlings
Bok choy seedling showing hypocotyl. I prefer sowing before transplanting, so the lower part of the stem can be planted below soil (Photo courtesy of gardentowok).

How to grow bok choy in containers successfully may take a little bit of dedication, but it’s a rewarding experience to have readily available fresh, chemical-free Chinese greens at home. The challenge lies in keeping the cabbage worms at bay. Make sure to harvest before they proliferate in your area.

Stir fried Bok Choy
Use minimal ingredients to bring out the mild flavor of bok choy (Courtesy of Not Just Baked)
Cooking Suggestions for Bok Choy
  • Stir-fried is still the most popular. Use minimal ingredients (garlic and soy sauce) to retain the delicate flavor.
  • Boiled in soups, like the Filipino “Nilaga” or “Pochero”.
  • As ingredient in stews, like “Kare-kare”, a type of peanut stew.
  • Chopped and eaten raw with tomatoes, onions, and vinaigrette dressing.

 

Salt solution does wonders for kitten’s sore eyes

Kitten with pretty eyes

Conjunctivitis or sore eyes can be quite common in kittens since their immune systems are still not well-developed. Fortunately, we have a cure that costs almost nothing but is highly effective: salt solution!

Unfortunately, our kittens developed sore eyes, and one of them had it so bad, she could barely open her right eye. She’s one of those we rescued more than a month ago, thrown away like trash with the umbilical cord still attached.

We are currently taking care of 9 kittens of different ages in addition to 7 adult cats, so you can imagine how illnesses and infections can spread quickly.

We’re happy to say that she’s alive and well, except for the conjunctivitis. At its worst, her right eye looked much worse than the one in the photo below (I wasn’t able to take an actual photo):

Kitten_cojunctivitis
Even a kitten conjunctivitis as bad as this can be cured by salt solution. Image courtesy of merckvetmanual.com

I cleaned it up daily with a salt water solution, and it wonderfully healed after just a few days. This is what she looks like now (actual photo):

Kitten with sore eyes
This kitten’s right eye was cured with a simple salt solution. It was extremely inflamed and could barely open just a few days ago.

It still doesn’t look pretty, but believe me, it looked horrible a few days ago, I was afraid the kitten would go blind!

So how do you use salt solution to cure sore eyes? Here are some tips:

  • Use a pinch of salt dissolved in clean drinking water. Ideally it should be as salty as your tears.
  • Dip a wad of cotton in the salt water and squeeze out excess liquid.
  • Wipe the kitten’s eyes gently, but firm enough to remove the dried up tears or pus.
  • Clean the eyes and surroundings as best as you can. Leftover gunk will be the source of further infection.
  • Do this once or twice daily, depending on severity.
  • If the kitten is healthy enough, give it a bath using appropriate kitten shampoo, to disinfect the rest of its body. Avoid bathing the eyes.

If the kitten’s eyes do not improve within 3 days or so, it’s best to consult a qualified veterinarian. They will prescribe proper medication, which will probably be eye drops or ointment with antibiotics.

If you’ve had similarly wonderful experiences with the use of salt solution, you need to share them with us, don’t keep them to yourself! 🙂

Eco-Friendly Biking Event Defeats the Purpose

Biking event

Biking is a wonderful hobby that is hailed by many as a great way to reduce your carbon footprint and keep your body fit at the same time. I love biking, even though here in the Philippines, I never bike along national roads because of the unfortunate hazards and struggles that accompany the activity.

However, many biking events that aim to promote this delightful hobby make the huge mistake of holding it within highly urbanized and heavy traffic-prone areas. Take for example the recently-concluded CalamBikeFest 2016, a segment of which was witnessed by my mom and I last Saturday on our way to the Makiling Botanic Gardens in UPLB. We were going to attend a tree walk with the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society, and we decided to take public transportation instead of driving there.

Calambikefest facebook cover
Image from the Calambikefest facebook page

We live in General Trias City, Cavite, and during one leg of the trip, the jeepney ride from Calamba to UP College, we were stuck for several minutes in one spot, longer than what we hoped (we anticipated traffic, but not that heavy!). We later discovered that it was due to all the bicycles passing through the intersection, which the traffic police blocked for the safety of the bikers.

One of the passengers in the jeep audibly complained, “Pahamak itong mga bikers na ‘to” (These bikers are such a nuisance). Which made me feel sad, because biking is such an awesome hobby that everyone should take up if they have even a little time and resource for it.

The event caused a massive buildup of vehicles in the area around SM City Calamba, which has always been prone to heavy traffic in the first place. If you calculate the amount of man-hours wasted and carbon emissions produced due to the traffic jam, whatever benefit the event gave had been outweighed by the damages it caused.

I advocate biking 100%, but large bike events, or any other big occasions for that matter, need to be planned carefully and organized in such a way that other people not involved will not suffer from its consequences. Maybe they should study the traffic flow, and identify the day of the week and time of day when their event would have the least impact. Or hold it in a less busy part of the city.

Otherwise, not only are its objectives of being eco-friendly or promoting heroism (in the case of CalamBikeFest) defeated, they also provoke the ire of the people in the community.

What a Vegetarian Eats in Philippine Restaurants

Vegetarian Hors d'oeuvres

I often make the mistake of not specifying a vegetarian meal when booking flights. There was one time when I meekly asked a flight stewardess on a plane bound for Hong Kong for a vegetarian alternative to the usual “Beef or Chicken?” options. She said they had nothing, so all I was given were I think crackers and a drink.

It was by a lucky coincidence that the woman sitting right next to me was actually a Filipina stewardess on vacation who worked for the same airline, and she told me that there are always vegetarian choices on board! She then kindly proceeded to ask the cabin crew to give me something, so I happily got a selection of fresh fruits (it was my first time to taste non-preserved plums that day, oh yeah!). Bless that woman!

I have since then become more assertive about my food requirements as a lacto-ovo-vegetarian (I still eat eggs and dairy products, but no, I don’t eat even fish or seafood). I now will usually insist on getting the meat-free version of a dish in a restaurant (“Waiter, can you please replace the wonton toppings with more vegetables?). But any vegetarian or vegan laments the fact that lack of vegetarian options anywhere we go is still the greatest challenge that we face.

Salad in a bowl
Go green or go home. (Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com)

Vegans have it much worse, as they don’t eat even eggs or dairy. A big reason why I haven’t yet made the successful transition to veganism is the difficulty in finding 100% animal-free food. Heck, even the ubiquitous Magic Sarap food flavouring lists chicken fat as one of the ingredients. Food with animal traces in them is just almost unavoidable.

So what does a vegetarian like me eat when we go out? Here’s a list of my most commonly ordered food items in non-vegetarian restaurants.

1. Vegetable Staples

Surprise! The Number 1 on the list of vegetarian food are vegetables! Kidding aside, finding a restaurant with even a single vegetable dish can often prove to be a challenge. Dear restaurant owners: beef & broccoli, beef ampalaya, spinach lechon kawali, or eggplant stuffed with pork, are not vegetarian dishes. *Sigh*

So I end up ordering pinakbet (vegetable stew) or lumpiang gulay (spring rolls) to eat with my rice, but both dishes often still have bits of meat in them. All I can do is meticulously remove those bits before I eat my lunch. My mom refers to the process as panghihinguto, an allusion to its similarity to picking kuto (lice) from someone’s head (eww).

Salad on a plate
Contrary to popular belief, vegetarians don’t eat only salad. (Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com)

Unlike what many non-vegetarians think, I don’t eat green salad as a main dish. Vegetarians are stereotyped as salad-munchers, but the fact is, I rarely eat fresh salad. But thank you for placing that on the menu as an afterthought, and please hold the bacon bits.

2. Noodles (including Pasta)

Oh yes, whether it’s stir-fried or in soup, noodles are often my go-to order, because there just usually is no other choice. As mentioned, many restaurants here in the Philippines will have no vegetable dish on the menu, but few will not have at least one noodle item on offer. However, it often has some meat or seafood bits mixed in it (think pancit canton or wonton noodle soup), so if I can’t order it meat-free, I just practice panghihinguto before I eat it.

Pasta Marinara
The elusive meat-free pasta. (Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com)

Meat-free pasta is hard to find, but Sbarro’s saves the day with their baked ziti, which can be topped with a choice of meat-free tomato or Alfredo sauces. I count myself lucky when marinara, pesto, or aglio e olio pasta are on offer in Italian-themed restaurants, but usually they are not.

3. Vegetarian or Cheese Pizza

Meat-free pizzas can be usually had from any self-respecting pizza place. Papa John’s is a winner, and I am in love with their garden special pizza. I hope they open up a branch here in Cavite province (please make it Dasma or Gen. Trias, please…).

Garlic Tomato Pizza
People of the Philippines, where can I find pizza like this? (Photo courtesy of https://unsplash.com)

4. Sandwiches

We need more Subway branches in this country! I don’t particularly like fresh salad, but I love salad sandwiches. Luckily, there’s this sandwich place that recently opened in Dasma, the one with the hexagonal bread, what’s it called again? Please comment below if you know what I’m talking about. In any case, they have a tofu steak sandwich, which weirdly enough was probably the very first of its kind that I have ever eaten. I enjoyed it, although I think the tofu slice was just a tad too thick. I just have not had many chances when it comes to trying out new restaurants, and I am probably missing out on all the nice sandwich places out there.

Vegetarian Sandwich
Vegetarian sandwiches are so easy to make and so delectable, so why don’t they offer these in many restaurants?

Which brings me to the next food item…

5. Tofu

God bless the person who invented tofu, as this is practically the only accessible meat analogue (although strictly speaking, it’s not really an imitation of any kind of meat) here in the country. This is the reason why, given a choice of fast food restaurants, I always go to Chowking, because they have plain tofu on the menu.

Max's Sizzling Tofu
Oh my, Max’s sizzling tofu is so delish! (Photo courtesy of jenryv2 http://www.foodspotting.com)

Tokyo Tokyo in SM City Dasmariñas has always been nice for always accommodating my special request of replacing the sauce on their tofu steak donburi with a meat-free version. Other Japanese-themed restos will also typically have tofu furai (tofu fry or fried tofu), like what they have in Karate Kid. But for the ultimate tofu experience, Max’s sizzling tofu is still unbeatable for me.

6. Side Dishes

The only things most other fast food restaurants have that I can consume are the side dishes. This is where vegetarians can be creative, as pairing two or more side dishes can make a complete meal. I am particularly thankful to KFC for having coleslaw, which I order large and pair with a large serving of French fries. I also would like to thank Kenny Rogers for their side sampler. Wendy’s is also great for their baked potatoes.

French Fries
Side dishes, when there’s nothing else.

I think I am officially craving for a tasty meal right now. Vegetarian choices in Philippine restaurants may still have a long way to go before becoming comparable to what meat-eaters have, but they are definitely out there! Being a vegetarian in a mostly-omnivore world has its challenges, but these are small problems compared to the countless good things that a vegetarian lifestyle does to ourselves, the animals, and the planet. Go green!