All posts by Jennie Richards

How to Find a Great Veterinarian For Your Cat

Whether you have recently moved, adopted a new cat or kitten, or are having some concerns about your current veterinarian—finding the very best health care available for your cat is one of the most important decisions you can make for them. While there are many excellent veterinary practices out there, there are also significant differences between practices, so you want to carefully evaluate and choose a veterinarian that meets your expectations and one you can feel comfortable with. Overall, you want to look for a practice that offers the highest level of standards, medical expertise and quality of care possible in an office that offers both modern diagnostic and state-of-the-art medical equipment and technology.

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How to Afford the Cost of Veterinary Care

When you adopt a cat, you aren’t thinking about the day when your cat may become ill, or get injured, or need emergency care. But cats do get sick and sometimes do require expensive diagnostic tests and emergency care. You may be faced with veterinary expenses far beyond what you can afford, or need unexpected medical care that you didn’t anticipate and don’t know how you’re going to pay for it. Of course, you want to make the best decision for your cat, regardless of the cost, but how to pay for it? Here’s how to afford the cost of veterinary care.

I have been in this situation countless times with our many rescue cats. So often, I have needed to pony up and pay for complicated dental care, full-mouth extractions, multi-day emergency hospitalizations, or treating kidney failure to the tune of thousands of dollars—and I had no idea how we were going to pay for it.

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How to Adopt an Adult Cat

Adopting an adult cat through a foster-to-adopt arrangement is often a great option to make sure the cat is right for your home. Adult cats come with fully developed personalities and temperaments, they are mature, trained, better behaved than kittens, and know they’ve been rescued and will be forever grateful to you.

There are so many reasons to adopt an adult cat over a kitten, but in cat rescue, it’s often the kittens that get all the attention and get adopted, leaving the adults behind. But it’s the adult cats—the ones who have often been abandoned, are homeless, or have lived through loneliness, suffering, and maybe illness—that need the unconditional love of a committed home. Continue reading How to Adopt an Adult Cat

Treating My Cat’s Severe IBD and Gastrointestinal Inflammation

In July 2017, my then 17-year-old cat Romeo started presenting with symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, mild weight loss, and lethargy. Up to this point, Romeo had been a very healthy male cat with no medical issues other than a low-grade heart murmur, one eye infection, periodic dental cleanings, and routine annual checkups to maintain his health. But things were about to change for Romeo and his cat parents.

Concerned that Romeo’s diarrhea and vomiting had become more than just an isolated event, we scheduled an appointment at Four Corners Veterinary Hospital in Concord, our trusted vet who has been highly supportive and a critical partner in managing all of our cat’s health over the years. Romeo’s doctor did a full physical exam—palpating his abdomen—finding some thickening of his intestines. He took Romeo’s blood and ran a blood chemistry profile and urinalysis. Then recommended diagnostic tests—specifically an ultrasound that would rule out things like a GI tract obstruction or abdominal mass, but would provide a detailed examination of Romeo’s internal organs from all different angles, the sizes of the organs, as well as their functioning. An ultrasound evaluates the cat’s liver, spleen, kidneys, gallbladder, lymph nodes, small and large bowels, bladder and pancreas and is able to determine the size, shape and texture of each—revealing any abnormalities, enlargements, masses, fluids, stones, thickening, dilation or if any lesions are present. So we ponied up the $450 dollars (at the time) to get to the bottom of what was going on with Romeo’s gut. 

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Treating and Preventing Feline Herpes Virus Infections

In our household of multiple cats, you could say we learned the hard way about feline herpes virus infections, how they are triggered and how to prevent them. We came home from a week vacation to a serious herpes virus infection that worsened for months before improving. This is our experience treating a stubborn herpes eye infection and how to avoid an outbreak in your cat in the future.

Feline Herpes Virus is extremely common in cats, with kittens often born with the virus from their mothers. Adult cats can carry the virus for years without showing any symptoms. Feline herpes virus can lie dormant until the immune system is weakened, or the cat experiences a stressful event, or even a particular medication can trigger the infection. In our case, it was our vacation that triggered the “stressful event” that brought on a raging eye infection and stubborn corneal eye ulcer that took five months to treat, heal and overcome.

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Second-Hand Cigarette Smoke Causes Cancer in Cats

Was your New Year’s resolution this year to quit smoking? If it wasn’t and you’re a smoker, it may be time to quit smoking for your pets’ sake. An increasing number of research studies show that animals face significant health risks exposed to the toxins and carcinogens in second and third-hand smoke. And numerous research studies have revealed that cats exposed to second-hand cigarette smoke causes cancer in cats.

Toxic Chemicals in Cigarette Smoke

Cigarette smoke contains 4,000 chemicals including hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, arsenic, ammonia and urea among them. Second-hand smoke is considered the smoke that is exhaled or comes from the cigarette itself and can be inhaled by non-smokers including our pets. Third-hand smoke is the residue from smoke and smoke particles that can be found on clothing, furniture, bed linens, skin, and fur even after the air is clear of smoke. Cats get into problems with third-hand smoke when they lick smoke and particles from smoke off their fur.

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Safety and Protection Checklist for Cats

Cats are curious animals, and because of it, they can get themselves into trouble at times. This list of dos and don’ts will help you be a more responsible guardian of your cat, and help to keep your cat safe from harm; free from unnecessary injury and accidents; free from unnecessary disease and suffering; and keep your cat as healthy and happy as possible!

Some Don’ts

DON’T leave your cat unattended in your car. NEVER leave a cat inside a car on a warm or hot day, not even for one minute.

DON’T let your cat roam free in the neighborhood.

DON’T re-home or give your cat away. Always try to keep your cat even when life requires making unexpected changes or facing unexpected challenges. If you must re-home your cat, be sure to screen and interview the potential adopters in person for their experience and history with cats; learn everything about them and meet all family members that live in the home; check their work/landlord/school/personal references; and visit their home in advance to make sure the cat will have a safe and loving environment to live. Here is a list of tips for preparing to adopt a cat.

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Signs of Dehydration in Cats

Your cat’s body is made up of 70-80% water or three-quarters of your cat’s body weight is water, so it’s critical that your cat gets enough fluids daily to maintain good health and prevent dehydration. Water is essential for cat’s urinary and kidney health, circulation, digestion, and waste removal. With hot summer days now upon us, it’s even more important that your cat has access to and drinks enough water, as dehydration can lead to a number of serious medical problems and even death. Here are the signs of dehydration in cats and why it’s so important to treat dehydration immediately.

Why Hydration is So Important

Dehydration happens when your cat loses body fluids faster than he can replace them, and it can happen when your cat is either not drinking enough water or is losing too many fluids. Fluids lost through daily urination, elimination and respiration all need to be replaced to normal levels everyday. But if your cat hasn’t been drinking enough water; has been vomiting or has diarrhea; or has been ill or had a fever; or your cat is old, then rehydration is even more critical as all of these can leave your cat severely dehydrated.

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Preventing and Treating Fleas in Cats – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Summer is a favorite season for picnics in the park, enjoying the seashore, and dining al fresco—but with warm summer temperatures also come the fleas! Fleas can wreak havoc on cats causing discomfort, severe skin conditions, allergic reactions, parasites (tape worms), anemia and even death in the worst cases, if left untreated. So it’s important to protect your cat from fleas, but it’s also important to know the dangers of some flea control products on the market today. In this article, you’ll become knowledgeable about the different flea treatment options, some of the health consequences associated with them, and you’ll learn ways to provide your cat with the safest possible flea treatments and precautions available. Here’s the good, the bad and the ugly on preventing and treating fleas in cats.

Does Your Cat Have Fleas?

To check whether your cat has fleas, you can run a flea comb through your cat’s fur pressing along the skin to check for adult fleas or flea feces and eggs. These will look like little specks of salt and pepper or tiny black and white grains in the fur. The white grains are flea eggs, and the black grains are flea feces. If you have found and removed some grains on your flea comb, rub the grains onto a piece of white paper and if the grains turn a reddish-brown color, you know you have a flea problem.

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The Diagnosis of Malignant Melanoma In My Cat 

My 15+ year old rescue cat Marcello was always the picture of perfect health. He passed his annual routine checkups with flying colors every year and only needed two dentals in the 12 years he lived with us. No sniffles, no sneezing, no coughing, no viruses, no infections. He could not have been an easier cat to care for. Until he started peeing outside the litter box. That’s when things started to change. That was a year and a half ago. 

Marcello lived with three other rescue cats upstairs on our second floor. He would have been very happy as an only-cat, but unfortunately that was not his destiny as I was in cat rescue, and was actively trapping abandoned cats in our community, bringing them home to foster, medically treat, and socialize, before putting them up for adoption with my cat rescue organization. One by one, there was always a new rescue cat that Marcello had to put up with. He hated the competition for attention and would even punish and bully each cat for stealing affection away from him. He was a one-woman cat and that had to be understood by any new resident cat who came to share his home–those were Marcello’s ground rules and he strictly enforced them.

A Tribute to My Beloved, Beautiful Cat Marcello

Marcello himself had been abandoned. Someone who owned him in his early years had left him behind and moved away, leaving him to fend for himself outdoors. Marcello survived, but he had been in his share of cat fights and had the scars and torn ears to prove it. But his real wounds were all on the inside—his trust in people had been deeply injured and his confidence in people shaken to the core. During the first two months of Marcello’s healing with us, he feared being abandoned again. Every time I came to visit him in his room, he completely let his guard down and would wrap, twist and curl his body all around me, then head-butt me over and over again, all with a big orange tail flared out like a bottle brush. But when I would get up to leave, Marcello would attack me like a police dog—and bite my ankles with a vengeance and leave me a bloody mess. That fear of abandonment slowly dissipated over time as he came to trust and realize that he was safe with us. In short order, Marcello became one of the most affectionate, loving cats I have ever come to know. He was a cuddle bug who loved nothing more than being stroked, rubbed, petted, caressed and loved every minute I could give him. 

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