Category Archives: Medical & Health Care

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.

DON’T use “free to good home” ads to place kittens or adult cats into a new home. These ads are often answered by Class “B” dealers who buy cats and dogs and sell them to laboratories where they are used in harmful experiments. “Free to good home” ads can be answered by people who may neglect, abandon, abuse or harm your adopted cat. If you must find a new home for your cat, charge a fee (of at least $50-100+), which will improve the chances that your cat’s new owner will be responsible, take their commitment seriously, care about your cat and give them a good home.

DON’T leave your cat home alone while you are away for a weekend, a vacation, or a business trip. Here are some reasons why. Instead, interview and hire a qualified, experienced pet sitter to come to your home at least once a day; or board your cat with a veterinarian (that provides overnight kennel services); or board them at a professional boarding facility.

DON’T leave unscreened windows open that your cat can jump or fall out of. Install window screens so you can leave windows open for fresh air, while keeping your cat safely inside.

DON’T ever use human medications on cats. Most are toxic to cats and pets. If you think there is a medical problem, see your veterinarian for a checkup and get proper treatment.

Some Dos

DO spay or neuter your cat. Cats can get pregnant at 5-6 months of age. By spaying or neutering, you will reduce the risk of your cat getting into a cat fight; contracting a serious or deadly disease; and getting injured from being outside. Spayed and neutered cats are healthier, happier and live much longer lives.

DO keep your cat indoors. Indoor/outdoor cats or outdoor-only cats require more medical treatment, incur more injuries and have shorter life spans. Letting your cat go outside poses many serious and deadly risks including being: poisoned; exposed to toxic and harmful substances; hit by a car; killed by a dog or wildlife (if you live in an area with coyotes, cougars, etc.); trapped by a human, shot at or tortured by neighbors who are bothered by cats; can get lost; can contract a deadly virus or disease; and can get parasites, worms and fleas much more readily.

DO make sure your cat has identification. Microchip your cat to protect them from getting lost and to increase the chances that you will be reunited with them. Be sure your contact information is up-to-date with the microchip company, especially if you adopted your cat with a microchip, so the company can reach you. If you do put a collar on your cat, make sure it is a “Quick-Release” collar with a snap opening, so your cat will avoid getting injured and caught or hung up on something.

DO know the signs of pain in your cat and when your cat is sick. Cats are good at masking pain and suffering, so often the signs can be hard to detect for us humans. Learn how to recognize the signs that your cat is in pain and is suffering. Learn how to take your cat’s vital signs, so you can quickly get your cat to the veterinarian or emergency room for treatment. And don’t wait—it can be serious, and often by the time you see the signs they have been uncomfortable for awhile.

DO provide a safe and secure home—with fresh, healthy canned (for hydration, protein and fewer carbs) food daily, clean water and a clean litter box—located in a quiet, private and convenient (for your cat) location, and remember to clean it daily.

DO provide annual health checkups with a good veterinarian, and have your cat’s teeth and gums checked annually. Dental disease can cause serious and chronic health problems. Here is some help in finding a great veterinarian.

DO make your home more comfortable for your cat by giving him a stress-free environment, with vertical spaces, indoor cat trees to climb, window ledges to look outside, cat beds in quiet spaces, cat toys like catnip, and quiet music or TV to watch while you’re away. Here are some ways to de-stress your cat and make your cat more comfortable.

DO block off any areas where your cat can become trapped and potentially injured. Keep washer and dryer doors closed or out of reach; keep cabinet and cupboard doors closed; keep all doors to the garage closed; keep fireplace screens closed; and keep the toilet seat down.

DO keep floors clean and vacuumed to avoid your cat ingesting any small objects that might be left on floors like loose threads, string, pins, clips, broken glass, sharp objects, parts of toys, tinsel, ribbon, etc. Cats are curious and playful, and ingesting anything other than food can cause choking, intestinal blockages, internal bleeding and irreparable damage to tissues. See your veterinarian or pet emergency hospital if you think your cat has swallowed something harmful, don’t wait! Keep all small objects off of floors and countertops.

DO check with your veterinarian during routine checkups about preventing fleas and parasites, and use ONLY veterinary-approved medications that are considered much safer than over-the-counter products that can be very harmful, toxic and even deadly for your cat.

DO safeguard all human medications, human NSAIDs and aspirins, household products, cleaning agents, chemicals of any kind, disinfectants, garden baits and poisons, lawn and garden products, auto products, human foods that are toxic to cats, and plants and flowers that are poisonous for cats. See our list of poisonous plants, toxic household products, and top dangers for cats in the home.

DO provide a safe, dark place for your cat to hide and be quiet anytime of day or night—away from people and activity. Place one or multiple cat beds, a cathouse or blankets in a variety of places inside of a closet (keep doors cracked open) or under the bed, or in a quiet room. Provide some type of multi-level climbing platform (attached to back of door), shelving along walls or windowsills, or one or two tall cat trees where your cat can feel safe off the floor.

DO consider getting pet health insurance if you need the peace of mind and the financial security in case you receive an unexpected serious diagnosis or an emergency arises.

DO know the locations of pet emergency hospitals in your area and have their numbers handy, and posted near your phones. Keep your veterinarian’s phone number alongside it—and keep them with you at all times. Have them listed in your cell phone under “Favorites.” Identify emergency veterinary facilities outside your immediate area as well, and keep the list in a handy location, in case of disaster.

DO display a pet rescue decal on the front of your home—near your front door or on the window, so emergency first responders know there is a cat(s) inside to evacuate. If you do have to evacuate, and time permits, write “EVACUATED” across the sticker. Get stickers from your local fire department, Red Cross or ASPCA.

DO consider providing an outside pet enclosure or kennel for your cat to enjoy the outdoors safely and protected. If you have a house, you can build an enclosure in a weekend with a cat-safe door that provides access from your home to the enclosure. Make sure it is protected with a roof and screening from the sun, heat and cold.

DO screen off your deck or balcony with invisible mosquito or pigeon netting that will keep your cat from jumping or falling. You can buy netting at most hardware stores, and secure the netting from floor to ceiling. Or don’t let your cat have access to your deck or balcony, by keeping your screen door closed at all times.

DO be prepared in case of an emergency or disaster. Have a disaster kit ready for your cat that includes a pet first aid kit, routine medications, extra cat food (refresh every 6 months), large cat carrier, blankets, litter box and scooper, extra litter, and cat identification — all ready to go. Keep photos and written descriptions of your cat handy too. Have a list of friends, local pet-friendly hotels and motels, as well as nearby boarding facilities and veterinarians who may be able to shelter your animal in case of an emergency.

DO identify a neighbor (and a relative or friend) who knows your pet, and can enter your house to take care of your cat in case you have an emergency and can’t get home. A neighbor can provide immediate support and a relative or friend can provide long-term support, in case you will be away from home for a period of time. Make arrangements well in advance and provide the neighbor and friend/relative with a key and instructions for the care of your cat.

 

Credit: Photo is courtesy of Pixabay, www.pixabay.com.

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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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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Why Your Cat Needs Good Dental Care

February is dental month! Dental disease has become the number one health concern in adult cats. Your cat needs good dental care just like you do. Without it, cats are more prone to problems associated with poor dental hygiene and can get serious and painful dental diseases. Without good dental care cats can suffer from having a painful mouth and as a result, can even stop eating. Good dental hygiene is as important to cats as it is to humans and contributes to your cat’s overall well being, comfort and happiness. The good news is most periodontal disease in cats is completely preventable with good dental care and annual wellness checks.

Roughly 4 out of 5 cats develop periodontal disease. Why? Partly because dental care in cats is often overlooked and left untreated. Cats hide their pain very well though they may be silently suffering, and many cat owners don’t take their cat for regular annual wellness exams each year. Untreated gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) often progresses into gum infection, chronic disease and can even impact vital organs.

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Preventing Lower Urinary Tract Problems in Cats

Lower urinary tract problems in cats can be life threatening, are extremely painful, and need immediate attention and treatment by a veterinarian. Preventing lower urinary tract problems in cats is critical for your cat’s health.

Urinary crystals can quickly turn into kidney stones, and kidney stones are deadly in a short period of time, so never wait or postpone seeing your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Your vet will determine if there are underlying medical conditions causing the symptoms through conducting a urinalysis, culture and cystoscopy and a complete medical review. If your cat is visiting the litter box repeatedly in a short period of time, straining in the box and sitting in the box trying to urinate, or urinating outside the litter box, it’s time to visit your vet.

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

We love what spring represents—new life, animals reawakening from their slumber, plants bursting with new buds, and warmer weather—but with spring 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 and the options available.

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Don’t Ignore the Signs of Dental Disease in Cats

Cats Need Dental CareFebruary is Dental Awareness Month, so it’s a perfect time to start the year off right by providing good dental care for your cat. Dental or periodontal disease can lead to many serious health and medical issues if left untreated. And untreated dental disease can be very painful for your cat and can even cause them to stop eating. The key to good dental care and managing dental disease is prevention.

Dental disease and oral tumors can start in cats as young as 1-2 years old so it’s important to have your cat’s mouth, gums and teeth evaluated starting when they are young. Gum disease is an infection that results from a build-up of dental plaque or bacteria on the surfaces of the teeth around the gum line. If plaque is allowed to accumulate it can lead to infection in the bone surrounding the teeth. The gums will then become inflamed causing bleeding and oral pain. Inflammation can progress affecting both soft and bony tissues causing gum disease, bone loss, and periodontal damage. When severe periodontal disease is present bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and damage the kidneys, heart and liver.

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The Importance of Annual Physical Exams for Cats

Maybe you adopted a new cat or have had your cat for years now—in either case annual physical exams are highly recommended for maintaining the optimal health of your cat. Your cat may be low-maintenance, but that’s no reason not to take them for a wellness exam every year. This article will highlight the reasons why annual physical exams for cats are so important.

Cats mask when they are sick or feel bad—they can hide suffering and pain very well, it’s an evolutionary trait—so you may not know that they’re suffering. And just because your cat lives indoors doesn’t mean they can’t get sick, or don’t have a congenital or chronic disease, bacterial or viral infection, severe tooth decay or gum disease, inflammation causing health issues, or a possible stress-related illness. All of these are possible for indoor-only cats.

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The Dreaded “H” Word – Treating Hyperthyroid Disease in Cats

Hyperthyroid disease in cats is very treatable and manageable, and though I had always feared being told one of my cats has “hyperthyroid disease,” I have found that it isn’t the dreaded word or disease that I thought it would be.

Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Beautiful, blind Godiva

Godiva was our first cat diagnosed with hyperthyroidism.  She’s a beautiful blind chocolate Persian who as a kitten, was taken to our local animal shelter where she was adopted by a volunteer. But at five years old she was given up again, and found her way to our rescue group where we became her foster parents. When Godiva was never adopted, we adopted her ourselves and have found her to be a courageous, determined blind girl that navigates our house beautifully, despite her blindness and many cat “obstacles.”

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Probiotics for Cats Helps Build a Healthy Digestive System

Probiotics are the “friendly” desirable bacteria that boost digestion, build a healthy digestive/intestinal and immune system, and reduce the harmful bacteria and organisms that can invade the body and cause infections and disease. Probiotics work to enhance the right balance of GI bacteria.

I have learned through my two cats with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), that probiotics given daily in their food really helps to strengthen and build their intestinal tract and reduce the symptoms and suffering caused by IBD. In cats, IBD is caused by intestinal disorders that increase inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract. Food sensitivities and allergies can contribute to IBD, and chronic diarrhea and/or vomiting are typical symptoms that result in the inflammation and scar tissue in the lining of the intestines.

Who Needs Probiotics?

Not all cats need probiotics, but if your cat has loose or smelly stools, chronic diarrhea, lots of gas, is taking steroids for prolonged periods of time for a chronic medical issue, or is on antibiotics for an infection—probiotics can help get their intestinal and digestive system health back on track and ease any suffering they might feel.

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