Kitten and Cat Care & FAQs

We have provided information about cat care and wellness that we will hope answer your commonly asked questions on kittens and cats. We know this will help build the bond between you and your animal, and we hope it will continue to be a resource for your cat’s happiness and health for years to come. Please click on the category you are interested in learning more about:

Before Getting a Cat

All You Need to Know Before Adoption

by: PetPlace Veterinarians

You have decided to adopt one of the millions of pets waiting for a home. The big concern now is how to get ready for your new arrival. Here are some tips to make the transition more enjoyable:

1. Get Your Home Ready. Pet proofing your home is important and can be life-saving. This includes making sure that there are no toxins such as rat poison, slug bait or antifreeze accessible to your new pet. Make sure trash is secure. Pick up clothing and small toys or other objects that may be accidentally ingested by the new pet. Hide exposed electrical wires to prevent injury commonly caused by chewing on the cords. Ensure other dangers are stowed way such as medications, poisonous plants and ashtrays.

2. Get Your Supplies. Make a list of things you need for your new pet. Bedding, food and water dishes, food (check what he has been eating to start with), treats, safe toys, scratching post, toothbrush and paste, collar, grooming supplies, litter, litter boxes and any pet-specific cleaners.

3. Plan for the “What If”. Prepare your medicine cabinet for an emergency. Make a first aid kit. You never know when an emergency may happen. Items should include emergency veterinary phone numbers, tweezers, gloves, gauze, tape, thermometer, hydrogen peroxide, sterile eye wash, antiseptic and antibiotic ointment. Mediations that are beneficial to have on hand include diphenyhydramine (Benadryl®), hydrogen peroxide and aspirin. Only use medication as recommended by a veterinarian. For instance, aspirin can be very toxic to cats if inappropriately dosed. Keep this emergency kit with your other emergency items.

4. Plan the Right Time. Make sure you have time to spend with your pet when he first arrives at your home. Friday is often a good day to bring your pet home – the two of you have the entire weekend to get to know each other.

5. Have a Family Discussion. Discuss how the pet will be cared for and develop general “House Rules.” Care includes feeding, grooming, and cleaning the litter box. When will this be done? Who will do it? What are the “house” rules for your pet? It is best to decide as a group upfront. Consider discussing the following questions: What and when is the pet fed? Where does he sleep? Does he get treats – if so what? If your new pet is a cat – will he or she stay inside only? Inside cats live a lot longer than ones that go outside.

6. Get His History. When you pick your new pet, obtain as much history as you can. This will come in use later if problems arise and to know what he needs. Ask questions that include:

  • How long the pet has been at the shelter?
  • Where did he come from?
  • Birthdate if known or approximate age.
  • Is anything known about the parents?
  • Has the pet had any vaccinations?
  • When is the next set of vaccines due?
  • Has the pet had any medical problems?
  • Is the pet on any medications?
  • Has the pet been tested for worms?
  • Has he received a deworming medication?
  • Will another dose be needed?
  • Has the pet been tested for feline leukemia/feline aids virus? ALL cats should be tested for the feline leukemia/feline aids virus before entering your home.
  • Has he been microchipped? If so, get the paperwork so you can register.
  • Has your pet had fleas or been treated for fleas?
  • What is the guarantee? Many agencies provide a 1 to 2 week guarantee against illness or problems.
  • Is there a mandatory vet check up within a certain time frame?
  • What has he been eating? You may want to ask for a sample or buy a bag of that food. Many pets get diarrhea from an abrupt change. There is enough changing in this pets environment that it is worth avoiding a food change as well. Gradually mix in you diet of choice and “wean” the pet over to the new food after being adjusted to your home in a couple days.

7. Home. Spend quality time with him. Notice appetite, urinations and bowel movement for abnormalities. Call your veterinarian if you have concerns.

8. Pet Introductions. Slowly and carefully introduce him or her to your other pets. Cats are often best keep separate with the new cat being placed in one room. Let them smell each other under the door. Gradually, let them see each other from the door crack and eventually let them meet. Do this supervised.

9. See Your Veterinarian. Follow-up within the next week for a check up and anything else your pet needs. Depending on the area of the country in which you live – heartworm prevention may be recommended. Follow-up with any needed vaccines and deworming. Strongly consider microchipping if your pet is not already chipped.

10. Begin Training. Even though cats are not trained like dogs, cats still need some training. If you don’t want your cat on the counter, start training him early and be consistent. With patience and persistance, your new kitty will eventually understand.

Picking the Right Cat For You

by: Anna Sadler

It’s not quite the same decision process as choosing between a Saint Bernard and a chihuahua. After all, domestic cats are all within a much narrower size range than can be found in doggiedom. Furthermore, dogs have been bred for centuries to perform specific tasks, such as herding sheep or retrieving the hunter’s prey. Cat owners can only counter with the emphatic proclamation that in all these thousands of years, no one has yet invented a better mousetrap.

In fact, for someone who didn’t know, it might be hard to explain why cats have taken over as America’s favorite pet. After all, unless a person has a barn or granary that needs protecting from rodent incursion, all that a cat can actually do is to be a pet.

Cats do seem tailor-made as a perfect fit for the human lap. Their grace and elegance is unparalleled, and their play can be a source of entertainment for young and old alike. Above all, they purr – that marvelous, soothing, calming purr. These are characteristics of all domestic cats, so how do you narrow the choices? It is purely a matter of personal taste or preference. The only “wrong” choice is a mismatch that could later lead to severing that bond, with the cat ending up in a shelter. A little thoughtful consideration beforehand can minimize that possibility.

Longhair Or Shorthair?

Perhaps the most basic choice deals with how much grooming is required. Longer hair generally means more grooming. Longhaired cat owners often say that the act of combing their pet is a soothing, satisfying activity, and actually adds to their enjoyment. Shorthaired cat owners appreciate what they believe to be their low-maintenance pet. Oddly enough, if shedding is a major concern, the longhaired cat might be preferable. All cats shed, no matter their coat length, but short hair tends to imbed in upholstery and clothing, while longer hair is easier to remove.

Pedigreed Or Random-Bred?

Certainly the sheer numbers of cats available, and the hundreds of different color and pattern combinations mean that there is a cat for anyone’s taste. Thirty-five breeds are currently recognized by The Cat Fanciers Association, Inc., five more are seeking recognition, and additional breeds are recognized by other registries. The advantage of the pedigreed cat is the predictability of size, appearance and temperament, and you can choose one that seems very likely to fit into your lifestyle by way of activity level, grooming and other factors.

The most obvious advantage of a random-bred cat is easy availability and cost. Most pet cat owners now have their pet cats neutered or spayed (87 percent according to several studies) so the number of “free kitten” advertisements and signs are disappearing rapidly. Still, shelters and rescue groups can supply the potential adopter with a nice selection. There is even the occasional pedigreed cat that can be found in shelters, or through purebred rescue groups.

Couch Potato or Whirling Dervish?

Temperament in cats is quite heritable. When choosing a pedigreed kitten, the temperament is relatively easy to predict, and the potential new owner can spend time with the parents of a kitten to determine if there is a perfect personality match. In random-bred cats, though, a general rule of thumb can help. Picture a straight line – a continuum. On one end of that line, place a heavy-boned, “cobby” cat – short-bodied and broad, such as the Persian. On the other end of that line, place a long-legged, slender, “refined” cat, such as the Siamese. All other cats with medium or moderate body traits will range along in the middle of that line from the one extreme to the other. The heavy, cobby cats will generally be the less active, more laid-back cats; the more refined the cat – the more “built for speed” – the more active and inquisitive he is likely to be.

Kitten or Adult Cat?

While a kitten can be absolutely adorable, he also requires a great deal of work, and can be destructive during that “adorable” stage, which lasts such a relatively short time. Some people insist that the early bonding with their kitten is worth the work; others prefer to meet their new pets as adults so that they can better see the mature personality.

One Cat Or More Than One?

In this question lies the key to understanding at least part of the popularity of cats. They are small enough and easy enough to care for, even in urban apartments, that a family can experience the advantages of having a pet for more than one preference. Maybe one child wants a laid-back cat that will tolerate being dressed in doll clothes, and another wants a cat that will be fully interactive in games of chase and fetch. Mom may want a quiet companion, while Dad may want a communicative cat. Behaviorists know that while cats can easily adapt to living as single pets, the “buddy system” can produce happier cats and can even reduce the “mischief” that a single bored cat can contemplate.

Should I Get a Kitten or an Adult Cat?

by: PetPlace Staff

You have decided to open your heart and your home to a cat. But should you adopt a fresh, untrained kitten or go for a stately, older cat? Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The final decision should be based on your family’s desires, lifestyles and needs.

Advantages of an Adult

There is usually very little guesswork with an adult cat. He is as large as he is going to grow, and you don’t have to guess whether he is a shorthair or longhair.

In addition, he usually comes litter-box trained and has outgrown the impulse to chew on everything. Although he may still like to play, he won’t be running in a high gear all the time. An older cat – especially one who has already shared a household or played with other pets – is more likely to meld into the existing hierarchy established by your other dogs and cats. If he is healthy, an adult cat should not need as many trips to the veterinarian as a kitten.

Advantages of a Kitten

But a kitten is a clean slate. His habits haven’t been set, and you get to teach him and watch him grow. They are also undeniably adorable and entertaining – a little ball of love that’s always on the go.

Adopting a kitten also gives you the advantage of developing a strong, priceless bond. Because he is so young, he has the potential to be part of your family longer.

Disadvantages of an Adult

There could be a reason why the adult cat was put up for adoption in the first place. He may suffer from serious behavioral problems, and he might prove to be a difficult pet.

Furthermore, you are unsure of the cat’s previous environment. The fact that they yelled at him, kept him confined in a small room or did not give the cat his needed space and privacy might be the reason he ended up in the shelter. Or, the previous owner didn’t really want a longhaired cat and would not brush him, resulting in a matted and crabby kitty. Depending on his personality and experiences, an adult cat may take longer to bond with you.

Disadvantages of a Kitten

Even with the best guess, you are not really sure of the kitten’s final hair coat length. This can cause problems if your kitten ends up with long hair, and you don’t have the time to brush him daily.

In addition, kittens are famous for their non-stop energy and desire to play – especially at night. Without another kitten to play with, you become the target. They have sharp teeth and claws, and they can play pretty rough. Kittens also can be destructive to your couch, plants, carpet and whatever else you may treasure.

After learning about the positive and negative aspects of kittens and adult cats, step back and take a look at your life. Do you have the time and patience it takes to raise a kitten? If so, you will have a loving pet that can fit perfectly into your family. If you are willing to adopt an older cat, even with minor flaws, you will have a greatly, devoted companion.

Should I Get a Purebred Cat?

by: Kitty Angell

You’ve made the decision. You want to share your life with a cat. Not just any cat, but a beautiful, purebred cat. According to the Cat Fanciers’ Association, Inc. (CFA), the world’s largest cat registry, there are more than 35 breeds of purebred cat from which you can choose your “perfect cat.”

Do you want a cat to curl up beside you as you sit quietly reading a book before a blazing fireplace? Do you want an energetic, vocal buddy that will learn to retrieve toys that you throw? Different breeds of cat meet the needs of different types of people.

Purebred cats tend to fall into various categories. Like humans, however, all cats are individuals. Their temperament in many ways depends on how they were bred and how they were handled prior to your arrival. Every once in a while, you might find a frisky, roustabout Ragdoll or even a quiet, lethargic Siamese. But this is the exception to the rule, not the norm for both breeds.

35 Breeds of Cats

These are the “general” characteristics of CFA’s 35 recognized breeds of cat:

  1. Abyssinian. The Aby is a shorthaired, medium sized cat. The breed is very active, mildly vocal and loves to cuddle and stay close to their owner.
  2. American Curl. With longhaired and shorthaired varieties, this cat is medium to large in size but slender in build. The American curl is active and non-vocal with a gentle, even disposition.
  3. American Shorthair. The American shorthair is a medium to large sized cat. The breed tends to be laid-back and mildly vocal. They love to cuddle. This cat has the look of a strongly built, “macho” cat.
  4. American Wirehair. The American wirehair is a shorthaired, medium to large sized cat. The breed is active and mildly vocal with a loving disposition. The coat has the same wirey look as a wirehair dog.
  5. Balinese. This exotic cat has semi-long hair with a head and body style similar to the Siamese. The breed is medium sized with tapering lines. Typically active and vocal, the Balinese also likes to cuddle.
  6. Birman. The Birman is a longhaired, medium to large sized cat. They are semi-active and mildly vocal but extremely affectionate. The silky consistency of the coat doesn’t mat as easily as other longhairs.
  7. Bombay. The Bombay is a shorthaired, medium sized cat. The breed is vocal and somewhat active but generally friendly. This cat has the look of a small black panther.
  8. British Shorthair. A shorthaired and large cat, the British shorthair is a laid-back, non-vocal breed.
  9. Burmese. The Burmese is a shorthaired, small to medium sized cat. The breed is vocal, somewhat active and loves to cuddle.
  10. Chartreux. The Chartreux is a shorthaired, large cat. The breed is mildly vocal, laid-back and very affectionate.
  11. Colorpoint Shorthair. This breed is shorthaired and medium in size. The breed looks like a Siamese with different point colors. The colorpoint shorthair is vocal, active and cuddly.
  12. Cornish Rex. The Cornish rex is a shorthaired, small to medium cat with a very slender build. The breed is active, vocal and cuddly.
  13. Devon Rex. As with the Cornish rex, the Devon is shorthaired and small to medium in size. Active and vocal, this cat has an elfin look and wavy hair.
  14. Egyptian Mau. With the look of a spotted, exotic wildcat, the Egyptian Mau is shorthaired and medium in size. The breed is active and vocal.
  15. Exotic. This breed is shorthaired and large with the head and body style of a Persian. The exotic is non-vocal, laid-back, very cuddly and affectionate.
  16. Havana Brown. This uncommon breed is shorthaired and medium in size. An active and mildly vocal breed, this cat has the look of an exotic cat.
  17. Japanese Bobtail. The Japanese bobtail can have either longhair or shorthair. The breed is medium in size and slender. An active, vocal cat, this breed is easily identified by his pompom tail.
  18. Javanese. This cat is a semi-longhaired version of the colorpoint shorthair. Active and vocal, the Javanese has a quasi-wildcat look.
  19. Korat. The korat is a shorthaired, medium sized cat. Active and vocal, this breed has a silver blue coat.
  20. Maine Coon. The Maine coon is a longhaired, large cat. Active and non-vocal, the Maine coon has an amiable disposition.
  21. Manx. The manx is a medium sized, mildly vocal cat. This breed is very intelligent and loving, with a noticeable lack of a tail.
  22. Norwegian Forest. This large, longhaired cat is laid-back and mildly vocal and always affectionate.
  23. Ocicat. This large, shorthaired cat is athletic and active. Mildly vocal, the ocicat looks like a spotted wildcat.
  24. Oriental. The Oriental looks like a Siamese with full body color. A medium sized cat, the breed is lithe, active and vocal.
  25. Persian. The Persian is a large sized, longhaired cat. The breed is laid-back, non-vocal and cuddly.
  26. Ragdoll. The ragdoll is a large, longhaired cat. Laid-back and non-vocal, the ragdoll loves to cuddle.
  27. Russian Blue. The Russian blue is an affectionate, shorthaired, medium sized cat. The breed is active and mildly vocal.
  28. Scottish Fold. Known for his folded ears, the Scottish fold is a medium sized, laid-back and non-vocal cat.
  29. Selkirk Rex. This uncommon breed is large and active. Mildly vocal, this breed is a curly haired sweetheart.
  30. Siamese. The Siamese is one of the more vocal breeds. Shorthaired and svelte, this breed is both active and very affectionate.
  31. Singapura. The Singura is a shorthaired, small sized cat. Active and vocal, this breed looks exotic but loves to cuddle.
  32. Somali. The Somali looks like a semi-longhaired version of the Abyssinian. The breed is medium in size, active and vocal.
  33. Tonkinese. The Tonkineses is another active, vocal and cuddly breed. This breed’s short haircoat requires little care.
  34. Turkish Angora. This small to medium sized slender cat appears very graceful. Active and vocal, this semi-longhaired breed is also very affectionate.
  35. Turkish Van. The Turkish van is an uncommon breed with semi-long hair. Large and strong, this breed is somewhat active, vocal and quite affectionate.
Should I Get Another Cat?

by: Karen Commings

You have a cat companion, but you’re gone all day and think he’s bored and lonely. You think, wouldn’t he like a feline friend. Or, perhaps you just love cats and would like to add another one to your household. Determining whether to add another cat is a complex issue, but one you can solve with a little forethought and planning.

To a degree, cats are independent and naturally self-sufficient. “Cats are quite capable of being an only cat, provided there is enough stimulation and interaction with the owner,” says Kate Gamble, who provides animal behavior consulting through her company, Cat Behavior By Kate in Auburn, Calif. “However, adding a cat to the home can be diverting to a resident cat and help break up the day while the owner is away.”

Unfortunately, your cat can’t tell you if he’d like company, and no barometer exists to take a reading of his preferences. “There is really no test to know if your cat would like another cat,” says Gamble. “If you are gone a great deal and your cat seems very needy, bored or unhappy, another cat might be just the ticket to perk up your resident cat.”

A bored cat may be lethargic and prone to obsessive/compulsive behavior such as pulling out his hair or self-mutilation such as biting his tail. His appetite may be poor, and he may sleep more than normal. Conversely, he may climb your curtains, attack your ankles for attention when you come home or overindulge at meal times. If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, have him checked by a veterinarian first to determine that nothing is medically wrong before assuming he needs company.

Mix and Match

The younger your cat is, the more easily he will adapt to a new feline companion. In fact, kittens adjust more easily to the addition of a second cat than adults. If you’re just getting your first cat, think about getting two littermates at the same time to ensure the most successful arrangement.

Provided the cats are neutered, any combination of sexes should work, although some behaviorists feel that pairing two cats of the opposite sex is more promising than two of the same sex.

Try to match the newcomer’s disposition with that of your resident cat. “A second feline should be similar in terms of energy level and personality type,” says Gamble. “It would be disastrous to add a high energy cat to a home with a shy, quiet resident cat and vice versa.”

If you have a purebred cat, adopt another cat whose temperament is similar. For example, a laid-back Himalayan might appreciate the easy-going temperament of a Manx or British shorthair rather than the spirited antics of a Siamese or Abyssinian.

If you are adopting from a shelter, ask the staff if they know the background of any cat that interest you. Previously owned cats may have come from homes that had other pets. Shelters that keep cats in communal areas rather than in separate cages will have adoptable cats accustomed to living with other felines. Observe their interactions and try to find one with a personality similar to your resident cat.

Practical Considerations

Besides what your cat may want, you must consider the financial and spatial resources required to care for a second cat. A new cat will require medical care, food, an extra litter box or two and extra litter. You may be able to save money by obtaining a multi-pet discount from your veterinarian or by buying economy sizes of products. And, you may not have to warm up the wet food left over in the can because your resident cat can’t eat it all in one sitting. If you live in a small apartment, you will need to make use of vertical space to give both cats room to move around and get away from one another if the need arises.

Before allowing another cat to meet your resident, have her tested to make sure she has no contagious diseases.

Making It Work

If you do get a second cat, you will have a better chance of the relationship working if you introduce the cats slowly. “Take time for them to get used to each other in separate rooms for a week or two, then brief face to face encounters,” says Gamble. “Slow introductions are much less stressful on both cats.”

Bringing Your Cat Home

Cat-Proof Your Home

by: Karen Commings

Cats are curious critters, and, once you bring your cat home, she will want to explore every inch of your house. Like a small child, your cat will get into things she shouldn’t unless you keep potentially harmful objects out of reach. Like child-proofing for a toddler, cat-proofing your home is vital to your cat’s safety and well being.

Household Hazards:

Furniture. Certain types of furniture are potentially dangerous to cats. Reclining chairs can trap a cat that crawls inside, so check for your cat’s presence under the leg rest or inside the recliner before returning it to an upright position. Rocking chairs can roll on a cat’s tail or foot, so make sure your cat isn’t sitting near the rocker when you decide to take a break.

Ironing boards. Irons left standing can topple over and injure your cat, so put them away when you are finished. Don’t leave hot irons unattended.

Clothes dryers. Because cats love to snuggle in small, warm spaces, they often crawl into clothes dryers if the dryer door is left open. Many cats have perished when their owners turn the dryer on without realizing the cat is inside. Close the dryer door after you remove a load of clothing to keep your cat from taking a nap in a potentially dangerous location.

Electrical cords. To keep your cat from accidentally electrocuting herself, tie up loose electrical cords or conceal them in hard plastic or rubber runners purchased at the hardware store. If your cat hogs the heat from heating vents in the winter, fit her with an elastic or break-away collar so she can pull away if her identification tags become caught in the grate.

Small objects. Small objects, such as coins, pins, needles, rubber bands, paper clips, staples, nails, screws, yarn, thread, dental floss, earrings and other small jewelry, bells and small balls, left lying around can lodge in your cat’s digestive tract if swallowed. Keep them safely out of your cat’s reach.

Windows. To keep your cat from accidentally falling or escaping through an open window, fasten window screens securely.

Toilets. The toilet can be a popular watering hole for a cat. A small kitten could fall in and drown or a cat could become poisoned if the toilet contains an automatic toilet bowl cleaner. Keeping the toilet lid down may prevent a feline tragedy.

Plants. Many common household plants are poisonous to cats. They range from lily-of-the-valley and daffodils to rhododendron and hydrangea. Eating them causes symptoms ranging from stomach upset to convulsions or death. For more information about poisonous plants see the related article “Plants Your Cat Shouldn’t Eat.”

You can also contact the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s National Animal Poison Control Center, 1717 South Philo Road, Suite #36, Urbana, Ill. 61802 for a copy of their publication listing toxic, potentially toxic, and non-toxic plants. Enclose a check for $15 payable to NAPCC.

If your cat enjoys eating greens, try supplying her with a pot of grass to satisfy her cravings.

Chemicals. Chemical cleaning products are poisonous if your cat ingests them. If using chemical cleaners concerns you, substitute safe cleaning products such as vinegar/water mixtures or baking soda. Cats are fastidious, so if you do use chemical cleaning products, wash away the residue so your cat will not get it on her feet or hair. To keep your cat from opening the cupboards where you store cleaning products, attach safety latches to the cupboard doors.

Ovens. When cleaning the oven, close the door to prevent your cat from walking on the chemical oven cleaner, and always be sure to close the hot oven door to keep your cat from burning her paws if she jumps on it.

Antifreeze. All antifreeze is poisonous to cats. Even antifreeze made of propylene glycol is toxic if your cat ingests enough of it, so thoroughly clean antifreeze spills immediately.

Drugs. Common anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are extremely toxic to cats as well as analgesics such as aceteminophen (Tylenol). (For more information, see the related article Acetaminophen Toxicity.) If your cat ingests only two regular strength Tylenol tablets within a 24-hour period, it may be lethal. Keep all medicines out of your cat’s reach and immediately dispose of any pills that have fallen to the floor.

No house is 100 percent safe, but you can reduce the risk to your cat and create a cat-friendly environment by vigilantly keeping potential hazards at a minimum.

Identification

It is absolutely crucial that your pet has identification so he can be returned if he gets lost. Here are three popular methods you may wish to consider:

  • Collar tags. The most common and visible form of I.D., simply attach the tag to your cat’s collar with your cat’s name and phone number. For this to work, your pet must wear his collar at all times, and there is always the risk of the tags becoming detached.
  • Tattoos. Tattoos are more permanent than a tag.
  • Microchips. Another permanent form of I.D., a microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is painlessly implanted under the cat’s skin (no anesthesia or surgery is required.) The microchip contains an alphanumeric code that can be read by animal shelters equipped with a hand scanner. The shelter then notifies the chip manufacturer that the pet has been found, and the manufacturer contacts the owner. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we would be glad to microchip your animal to ensure a permanent form of identification for your pet. Because a tattoo or microchip can go undetected, it is best to make sure your cat also has a collar with tags.
Meeting Children and Introducing Other Pets

Meeting Children

You’ll want to encourage your children to play with the new cat, but make sure to supervise the first interactions between the cat and your children. Also, setting play-time limits is a good idea. Try 15-20 minutes two to three times a day at first. Here are some basic ground rules to explain:No rough teasing or playing. Tell your kids that forms of teasing, such as tail-pulling, is not appropriate.Be gentle. Kids should never shout at the cat, even if he does something wrong. Explain to your children that cats can be startled by loud noises.

Introducing Other Pets

To help your animal meet your other resident animals, you’ll want to:

  • Do it gradually. Keep them separated for the first few days.
  • Keep him safely in his crate as you supervise their first meeting.
  • After several days of sniffing each other out, let your resident pet enter the den while your new cat is out of the crate.
Supplies You’ll Need
Before bringing your cat home with you, you’ll want to have these supplies on hand: 
  • Premium kitten food (if he is under one year) or premium adult cat food. Talk to your veterinarian about a good food choice for your cat
  • Stainless-steel or ceramic food and water bowls
  • I.D. tags with both contact information for yourself and your veterinarian
  • An airline approved home and travel crate (large enough to transport him as he grows)
  • Litterbox and litter
  • Cleanup supplies such as carpet stain remover, paper towels, deodorizing spray
  • Safe toys (with no sharp edges, swallowable parts or loose strings)
  • Scratching post

Taking Care of Your Cat

Avid Friend Chip

Until your pet learns to use the phone, AVID will help him find his way home. Now you can easily protect your loved ones before it’s too late. Ask Dublin Animal Hospital about the Avid Friend Chip today and visit Avid’s website for more information as well.Advanced micro-electronic technology has enabled AVID to develop a system that provides precise, secure and permanent animal identification. The AVID Animal Identification System utilizes its own unique and patented* technique, based on radiowave communications, to identify animals on demand. The AVID Animal Identification System is comprised of the following two components:

HomeAgain Microchip

Object shown not actual size. 

  • PASSIVE No power supply to replace or cause harm to animals.
  • SMALL About the size of a grain of rice.
  • SIMPLE Standard injection procedure implants the identity tag quickly and safely. No anesthesia is required or recommended.
  • SAFE The micro-electronic device is encapsulated within a proven bio-compatible glass.
  • RELlABLE Accident or injury to the animal will not prevent the reading of the identity tag.
  • UNIQUE Each identity tag is manufactured and programmed under computer control to insure against duplication of I.D. codes. No two animals would have the same number.
  • UNALTERABLE Once implanted, the identity tag is virtually impossible to retrieve. Surgical removal, using the most advanced radiograph techniques available, is extremely difficult. The number can never be altered.

Microchip Reader

  • Generates a low energy radio signal that energizes the identity tag to transmit its unique number.
  • The received number is displayed on a Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) in an easy to read format.
  • Reading time is measured in “Milliseconds”.
  • Can transmit via a standard RS-232 interface to a computer supporting custom applications.*
  • Manual, Remote or Computer controlled operational capability.*
  • Battery powered. Standard 9V or rechargable.*
  • Compact and lightweight. Total unit weighs less than two pounds. AVlD’s intelligent and thoughtful design has produced an identity tag reader that is practical for use in both field and clinic environment.
Meeting Children and Introducing Other Pets

Meeting Children

You’ll want to encourage your children to play with the new cat, but make sure to supervise the first interactions between the cat and your children. Also, setting play-time limits is a good idea. Try 15-20 minutes two to three times a day at first. Here are some basic ground rules to explain:No rough teasing or playing. Tell your kids that forms of teasing, such as tail-pulling, is not appropriate.Be gentle. Kids should never shout at the cat, even if he does something wrong. Explain to your children that cats can be startled by loud noises.

Introducing Other Pets

To help your animal meet your other resident animals, you’ll want to:

  • Do it gradually. Keep them separated for the first few days.
  • Keep him safely in his crate as you supervise their first meeting.
  • After several days of sniffing each other out, let your resident pet enter the den while your new cat is out of the crate.
Identification

It is absolutely crucial that your pet has identification so he can be returned if he gets lost. Here are three popular methods you may wish to consider:

  • Collar tags. The most common and visible form of I.D., simply attach the tag to your cat’s collar with your cat’s name and phone number. For this to work, your pet must wear his collar at all times, and there is always the risk of the tags becoming detached.
  • Tattoos. Tattoos are more permanent than a tag.
  • Microchips. Another permanent form of I.D., a microchip is about the size of a grain of rice. It is painlessly implanted under the cat’s skin (no anesthesia or surgery is required.) The microchip contains an alphanumeric code that can be read by animal shelters equipped with a hand scanner. The shelter then notifies the chip manufacturer that the pet has been found, and the manufacturer contacts the owner. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we would be glad to microchip your animal to ensure a permanent form of identification for your pet. Because a tattoo or microchip can go undetected, it is best to make sure your cat also has a collar with tags.
Cat-Proof Your Home

by: Karen Commings

Cats are curious critters, and, once you bring your cat home, she will want to explore every inch of your house. Like a small child, your cat will get into things she shouldn’t unless you keep potentially harmful objects out of reach. Like child-proofing for a toddler, cat-proofing your home is vital to your cat’s safety and well being.

Household Hazards:

Furniture. Certain types of furniture are potentially dangerous to cats. Reclining chairs can trap a cat that crawls inside, so check for your cat’s presence under the leg rest or inside the recliner before returning it to an upright position. Rocking chairs can roll on a cat’s tail or foot, so make sure your cat isn’t sitting near the rocker when you decide to take a break.

Ironing boards. Irons left standing can topple over and injure your cat, so put them away when you are finished. Don’t leave hot irons unattended.

Clothes dryers. Because cats love to snuggle in small, warm spaces, they often crawl into clothes dryers if the dryer door is left open. Many cats have perished when their owners turn the dryer on without realizing the cat is inside. Close the dryer door after you remove a load of clothing to keep your cat from taking a nap in a potentially dangerous location.

Electrical cords. To keep your cat from accidentally electrocuting herself, tie up loose electrical cords or conceal them in hard plastic or rubber runners purchased at the hardware store. If your cat hogs the heat from heating vents in the winter, fit her with an elastic or break-away collar so she can pull away if her identification tags become caught in the grate.

Small objects. Small objects, such as coins, pins, needles, rubber bands, paper clips, staples, nails, screws, yarn, thread, dental floss, earrings and other small jewelry, bells and small balls, left lying around can lodge in your cat’s digestive tract if swallowed. Keep them safely out of your cat’s reach.

Windows. To keep your cat from accidentally falling or escaping through an open window, fasten window screens securely.

Toilets. The toilet can be a popular watering hole for a cat. A small kitten could fall in and drown or a cat could become poisoned if the toilet contains an automatic toilet bowl cleaner. Keeping the toilet lid down may prevent a feline tragedy.

Plants. Many common household plants are poisonous to cats. They range from lily-of-the-valley and daffodils to rhododendron and hydrangea. Eating them causes symptoms ranging from stomach upset to convulsions or death. For more information about poisonous plants see the related article “Plants Your Cat Shouldn’t Eat.”

You can also contact the American Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s National Animal Poison Control Center, 1717 South Philo Road, Suite #36, Urbana, Ill. 61802 for a copy of their publication listing toxic, potentially toxic, and non-toxic plants. Enclose a check for $15 payable to NAPCC.

If your cat enjoys eating greens, try supplying her with a pot of grass to satisfy her cravings.

Chemicals. Chemical cleaning products are poisonous if your cat ingests them. If using chemical cleaners concerns you, substitute safe cleaning products such as vinegar/water mixtures or baking soda. Cats are fastidious, so if you do use chemical cleaning products, wash away the residue so your cat will not get it on her feet or hair. To keep your cat from opening the cupboards where you store cleaning products, attach safety latches to the cupboard doors.

Ovens. When cleaning the oven, close the door to prevent your cat from walking on the chemical oven cleaner, and always be sure to close the hot oven door to keep your cat from burning her paws if she jumps on it.

Antifreeze. All antifreeze is poisonous to cats. Even antifreeze made of propylene glycol is toxic if your cat ingests enough of it, so thoroughly clean antifreeze spills immediately.

Drugs. Common anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen are extremely toxic to cats as well as analgesics such as aceteminophen (Tylenol). (For more information, see the related article Acetaminophen Toxicity.) If your cat ingests only two regular strength Tylenol tablets within a 24-hour period, it may be lethal. Keep all medicines out of your cat’s reach and immediately dispose of any pills that have fallen to the floor.

No house is 100 percent safe, but you can reduce the risk to your cat and create a cat-friendly environment by vigilantly keeping potential hazards at a minimum.

Caring For Your Cat’s Teeth

by: PetPlace Veterinarians

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 70 percent of cats show oral disease by age 3, and it is the most common health problem treated in small animal health clinics today. The buildup of bacteria in your cat’s mouth may cause more than just bad breath; according to research presented at a recent conference on Companion Animal Oral Health, bacteria are also the cause of oral disease and diseases in other organs of the body like the heart, liver and kidneys.

Just like humans, cats teeth are prone to plaque buildup, and when allowed to combine with saliva and residual food between the tooth and gum, plaque turns to tartar. If plaque and tartar are not removed routinely by your veterinarian, they may cause periodontal disease.

Gingivitis This is an inflammation of the gums most commonly caused by the accumulation of food particles in the crevices between the gums and the teeth. The main symptom is bleeding, although you may also notice redness, pain and difficulty chewing. If gingivitis is not treated, it may lead to periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a serious infection that spreads to the tissues and bone in which the teeth are rooted causing loss of the teeth. Unfortunately, this disease is irreversible and may lead to other problems.

What To Look For:

The most common signs of oral disease are:

  • Yellow and brown tartar buildup
  • Bleeding
  • Bad breath
  • Red inflamed gums
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Change in eating habits
  • Pawing at the mouth

Veterinary Care

Fortunately, veterinary dental knowledge has grown exponentially in the last few years. Dental technology has also exploded, allowing your pet virtually all of the dental care that you receive, including: dental implants, braces (to enable a comfortable bite), ultrasonic scaling controlled with microchips, root canals and bonding and brightening.

Veterinary care should include periodic dental exams, which are important in order to maintain good oral health. The frequency with which dental examinations should be performed depends on your pet’s age.

Kittens. The mouth should be examined by your veterinarian immediately upon acquiring your new pet and at every vaccination appointment up to four months of age. A dental exam should be performed again at six months of age. It is important to assess your pet’s bite as well as his/her overall oral health. Bite abnormalities can sometimes be corrected by orthodontics before six months of age.

One to three years. At this age, unless you notice problems or your veterinarian has developed a custom exam program due to special circumstances, dental exams should be done annually.

Four to six years. If your pet has perfect teeth and you brush them daily, annual exams may suffice, but many cats in this age range require exams every six months. It is better to have more frequent examinations done and get a clean report card as opposed to finding potentially painful problems later. Toothaches are painful for animals, just like humans, but your pet won’t be able to tell you that it hurts.

Seven years and up. Dental examinations should be performed every six months when your pet is seven years of age or older.

The Dental Exam

Your veterinarian can examine your cat’s teeth in the exam room if your pet is cooperative and does not have severe dental problems.

Full mouth X-rays are usually required because 70 percent of the tooth structure is beneath the gum line and thus is invisible to the naked eye.

Your veterinarian may use a periodontal probe (a blunt probe that is used to check the gum/tooth interface) to search for gum pockets and other problems. He may use it sparingly in cooperative patients; however, a thorough exam may require sedation or anesthesia. He will examine all soft tissues.

If anesthesia is required, new injectable anesthetics are available which are short-acting (a few minutes), and relatively safe. Additionally, new anesthetic monitors are available to help ensure that the anesthesia is as safe as possible.

Home Care

Your cat needs preventive dental care just like you. AVDS recommends using a three-part dental care regimen to include:

  • Routine physical exams by your veterinarian
  • Regular dental care at home: Tooth brushing is the single most important part of oral care and cannot be over-emphasized. If your pet will allow it, you should brush her teeth daily. It is best to start early since most cats will allow brushing if you start when they are kittens. Use a special toothpaste formulated for your pet; human toothpaste may upset your cat’s stomach.
  • Regular follow-up care: You can ask about specially formulated foods, such as pet foods that have been developed to enhance oral care by their abrasive action. Scientific studies have proven that these special diets are beneficial in maintaining oral health.

There are also numerous chew products available that may be helpful. Use common sense and caution when choosing these products; (ask your veterinarian for help). It is usually best to stay with softer products.

Recommended Products:

  • Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d®
  • Various tooth brushes with a soft rating
Declawing Your Cat

by: PetPlace Staff
Deciding whether to declaw your cat may be one of the most important choices you make as a cat owner. And for many feline lovers, it’s a thorny issue.

Why Cats Scratch

Cats scratch to smooth out the rims of their claws, which gradually get frayed. Scratching is also an instinctive method of marking territory. Each scratch leaves secretions from glands in a cat’s feet, a scent that gets other cats’ attention.The cat’s retractable claws are also used for defense and add to the animal’s grace and acrobatic ability. But those claws can also rake a new sofa to shreds and lash a small child’s cheek during a playful encounter. According to Dr. Debra Primovic, a veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic in St. Louis and a consultant for PetPlace.com, the dividing line between declawing and not declawing usually involves where cats are kept: indoors such as the city, vs. areas where cats are more apt to move freely between inside and outside, like the suburbs or country. City dwellers usually declaw their cats because the animals will be staying indoors, but people who live in the country want their cats armed to defend themselves if they roam around outside or escape, Primovic says. Keep in mind that cats can get out accidentally in the city and if they are declawed they will be nearly defenseless against other cats who might try to pick a fight.The cat’s age is another consideration. Primovic says she declawed her own kitten at 11 or 12 weeks, and the animal bounced back quickly, but older cats need more time to heal.Sometimes declawing is all that will keep peace in the family. “I’ve had people actually hit their cat for scratching the furniture. Even though declawing is not the ideal alternative, maybe it’s better to declaw a cat so that he can’t claw up the sofa,’’ she says. “This way, he’s less likely to get scolded.”

How Declawing is Done

Declawing– also called onychectomy – is a surgical procedure in which the nail and last bone are removed from all the toes of the cat’s front feet. The cat is usually under general anesthesia for the procedure. Some veterinarians now use laser surgery, which some think can lessen pain and post-operative bleeding. Either way, your cat’s toes will be bandaged, and it may take a couple weeks for your cat to walk normally. Some cats bounce back very quickly, especially kittens. Shredded paper should be used in the litter box for this period because litter pieces are uncomfortable and can get stuck in the cats surgery site causing an infection.

What Are the Risks?

Problems are uncommon when correctly done on a young cat. Potential problems include an incorrectly positioned cut, which can remove too much of the toe, taking with it part of the toe’s pad. This can cause pain. If the whole claw is not removed, misshapen claws can grow back. In addition, if a bone fragment is left at the surgery site, it may become a source of infection. Post-surgical blood loss is another concern, but great care is taken so that the bandages are placed to control bleeding.

What Else Can You Do?

While declawing may be necessary to live harmoniously with an indoor-only cat, there are other excellent alternatives:Buy or make a scratching post. Make sure it is strong enough not to wobble and tall enough to accommodate a cat at full stretch. Sisal and corrugated cardboard make good scratching post surfaces. Avoid carpeting as it is easy to tear up and looks terrible once it is broken in. Also, the cat will have a hard time differentiating between “good” carpet to scratch (the post) and “bad” carpet to scratch (your living room rug) so you may create a new problem.Praise your cat when she uses the post. Make the post a fun place to be by placing toys on or around it, or rubbing it with catnip. Make sure to put it in an accessible area. If you’re trying to discourage the cat from scratching a particular piece of furniture, try placing the post in front of it, gradually moving the post aside as the cat begins to use it regularly. In addition, make the piece of furniture not much fun to scratch. Try covering it with a sheet, making it wobbly or covering it with double-sided tape (make sure it won’t hurt the surface first). You can also place a cottonball of scented bath oil on or near it. Again, make sure it won’t hurt the furniture’s surface.Train with a dual approach. Encourage the cat to claw the right things, and discourage her from clawing the wrong things. Each time you bring the cat to the scratching post or she goes on her own, praise her, pet her and spend a minute playing at the post. If the cat begins to scratch where she isn’t supposed to, call her by name, firmly telling her “no,” and move her to the scratching post. Put her front legs up on the post and make scratching motions with them. Dangle a toy in front of the post so as she goes for the toy she’ll touch the post. Most likely, she’ll enjoy the feeling and continue using it afterwards. You can also “use” the post so that your scent will be on it and entice your cat to mark the territory herself.Some owners use a spray bottle filled with plain water handy and squirt the cat on the back when she claws the furnishings. The only problem here is that you run the risk of the cat simply being afraid of you and the bottle and will still scratch when you are not around. Try tempting her with a more suitable scratching surface first. If you do use the bottle, make sure to never spray her in the face.Keep your cat’s nails trimmed. Cutting the nails regularly may help a cat from scratching furnishings, or at least reduce the damage done by her scratching. Get your kitten used to having her feet handled and her nails clipped while she’s young. With an older cat, it may help to begin by handling the cat’s feet under pleasurable circumstances. Then introduce the clipping procedure by approaching the cat while she’s relaxed (or even napping) and clip only one nail per session. Praise your cat while you clip the nail, and reward her with a treat. If you are in doubt about the proper nail length, let your veterinarian instruct you.The only equipment necessary is a good pair of nail clippers. Never use scissors, since they can tear the nail. Slide the blade onto the nail you will be trimming. Before cutting, look for the pink “quick” that runs down the center of the nail. The clipper blade should be placed about an eighth of an inch forward of the quick, and the nail clipped with one smooth squeezing action of the clippers.Be extremely careful not to cut into the quick. If this happens, the cat will experience pain, and bleeding is likely. The bleeding may stop without assistance or you may need to hold a soft cloth on the nail or apply a little styptic powder. If you trim a small amount of nail every couple of weeks, the quick will tend to recede.

Nail Covers

A few years ago an excellent product was introduced to reduce damage from furniture scratching humanely. “Soft Paws”™ (or Soft Claws®) are plastic nail caps that can be super-glued to a cat’s claws following a preliminary nail trim. The results are often spectacular, with damage to furniture practically non-existent while the nail caps remain in place. The manufacturers recommend a complete replacement every month or so, but replacing lost nails individually as they fall off also works (and involves far less work).

Emergency Care

Learn where you can obtain animal emergency care before you need emergency care! Make sure to call ahead before you go for emergency care.

Emergency Transport: Do not try to approach or handle an injured animal in a hurried manner. Any injured animal may bite without warning! If you suspect serious injuries, gently slide your pet onto a board, blanket or makeshift stretcher for transport.

Burns: Most burns require a veterinarian’s attention. If a burn is mild, apply cold water or ice. Cover serious burns with fabric and take your pet to a veterinarian. Do not apply ointments or other home remedies.

Choking: Be careful to avoid being bitten. Hold your pet upside down. Apply pressure to the chest of a cat or just behind the ribs of a dog to attempt to dislodge the object. If pet is unconscious, attempt to remove any visible objects from the throat with a blunt instrument. If these methods fail, rush your pet to the veterinarian.

Fractures: Control any serious bleeding by applying pressure. Never use a tourniquet. Keep any wounds clean. Do not try to set the bone. Restrict your pet’s movements and go to your veterinarian.

Poisoning: Call your veterinarian. Be able to describe the signs your pet is showing and what Poseidon was contacted. Follow the doctor’s advice on whether or not to induce vomiting. Proceed to your veterinarian for continued care, if needed.

Grooming Your Cat

by: Kitty Angell

Believe it or not, most cats need a little help with their grooming – and owners should pay attention to their cats’ eyes, ears and coat.

Whether purebred or mixed breed, a key to good grooming lies in the length of a cat’s coat. A cat with a very short, single coat similar to the Siamese, Burmese and Cornish rex needs very little grooming. The dense-coated shorthaired cats like American shorthairs, British shorthairs and Scottish folds require a monthly grooming session. Semi-longhaired cats resembling Maine coons should be combed and bathed even more regularly. Cats with long, flowing coats resembling the Persian should be combed and have their faces cleaned at least every other day, and they should be bathed weekly or bi-weekly. Their ears should also be cleaned.

Combing and Brushing Your Cat

The coat is the biggest grooming hurdle and can fall prey to shedding, a greasy consistency and mats (clumps of matted hair that are anchored to your cat’s coat). Remember to comb gently from front-to-back and reassure your cat with a soothing voice. Do this as much as needed to keep shedding and knots to a minimum. The proper combs and brushes can help.

Belgian greyhound combs are the best to use with longhaired cats, although they have become very hard to find. Sometimes vendors at cat shows carry them. Peak Pro Tech combs can be ordered from veterinary catalogs and are comparable to the greyhound comb. The best size to use with longhaired cats and cats with dense coats is a 7.5-inch-by-1-inch comb that has both coarse and fine teeth. Combs that are 4.5 inches by one inch are good for all breeds. Those come in “fine/fine,” “coarse/coarse” and “coarse/fine” teeth.

Pin brushes are good for longhaired coats, as are boar’s hair bristle brushes. Boar’s hair bristle brushes work well with dense-coated shorthaired cats also. The type of brush used depends on how well it does with the individual coat. A rubber curry brush is best for single, close-coated cats.

Taking Care of Mats

The dreaded mat can form on even the most well-groomed cats, especially during seasonal shedding. If you find these clumps of dried, tangled hair in your cat’s fur, never try to cut them out because you could slip and cut your cat’s skin. It is better to work out a mat with a grooming comb.

With one hand, try to hold the hair as close to its base as possible without pulling directly on the cat’s skin. Hold the grooming comb in your other hand and use the tip to pick at the mat gently until it begins to loosen up. As it starts to break apart from the coat, it can easily be combed out. Repeat as necessary.

Cleaning Your Cats Eyes

Eye matter can be a problem in big-eyed, short-nosed cats – breeds like the Persian that have that “mushed-in” look to their faces. The large eye openings and the small distance from the tear ducts to the nose in these cats create an area for more tearing to occur than usual. Rather than pooling into tear ducts, the tears spill over the lower eyelids. Once the tears come in contact with air, they are “oxidized” and turn brown, staining the area below the eyes and creating a glue-like substance that needs to be cleaned out to keep the area healthy and the cat comfortable.

To clean the eyes use a soft washcloth or a cotton square dipped in tepid water. Hold your cat’s head and wipe the damp cloth gently across her lower eyelid. Be careful not to rub the eyeball directly. Let the moisture soften the eye matter and then go back and wipe again. Make sure you use a fresh section of the cloth each time.

Bathing Your Cat

Sometimes greasy coats, allergies and plain old dirt require a cat to have a good bath. This can be tricky because cats usually don’t like water. It is best to introduce a cat to bathing as a kitten so that baths become less stressful with time.

The process requires a medicated baby shampoo and a good animal shampoo manufactured by a company such as Lambert-Kay, Ring 5, Tomlyn or Vita-coat. Experiment with various brands to see what works best for your kitty. It is also a good idea to buy mild eye drops or ointments from your veterinarian to guard against soap getting into your cat’s eyes. You may also need a wetting agent, a de-greaser and a conditioner to release the tangles in your cat’s coat. Use a sprayer attachment for rinsing and keep towels nearby. To bathe and dry your cat, follow these steps:

  • Apply mild eye drops or ointment to the eyes to protect them from soap.
  • Fill the sink with tepid water and, if possible, add around three capfuls of a wetting agent like Shaklee’s Basic H (which is non-toxic). Place your cat in the water. Using a plastic cup, pour this water mixture over the cat’s body until the hair starts to part and the hair shaft becomes wet all the way to the skin. Do not get water in your cat’s ears and never pour water over the head.
  • Drain the water from the sink. To cleanse kitty’s head, use a mild tearless baby shampoo only. Put a small amount on a wet washcloth and gently wash around the eyes, mouth, cheeks and forehead. Then rinse the cloth and go over the face to remove the soap.
  • If your cat has an extremely greasy coat, this is the time to apply a de-greaser. Fast Orange is a non-toxic de-greaser that can be found in supermarkets. Spread it liberally throughout the coat and then rinse it out.
  • Choose the shampoo that works the best for your cat’s coat and apply and rinse off at least two or three times.
  • Rinsing is extremely important. Fill the wash basin with 2 or 3 inches of water until the bottom part of the cat’s fur starts to float in the water. Keep rinsing until there is no residue. Use a cup to scoop the basin water over the cat’s body and keep doing it until the coat is free of shampoo. Empty the soapy water from the sink and refill with clear water as needed.
  • If the cat’s coat needs a conditioner, this is the time to apply it. Then rinse with water again.
  • A final rinse of a half cup vinegar to two quarts water will remove any traces of soap residue.
  • Rinse with tepid water a final time.
  • Clean the ears with a soft Q-tip dipped in otic solution, which you can purchase from vet catalogs.
  • Blot the fur with a dry towel. A single-coated or dense shorthaired cat can be towel dried and placed in a warm bathroom until he is completely dried.
  • The longer the coat, the more important it is to use combs and brushes at this point.
  • Dryers are a matter of preference, but it is nice to have one for a longhaired cat. Oster makes a table dryer that many breeders use. A Superduck Dryer is a little less costly and works well.
  • Dry the upper body by blow-drying backward against the lay of the hair. Work along the sides, forward to the front legs and up the neck. Each section should be totally dry before moving on or the hair will curl. The tail, belly and back legs should be done last because cats tend to have a lower tolerance in these areas. This way, if there is going to be a disagreement, it will come at the end of the grooming session.
Immunization

Many feline diseases can now be prevented through vaccination. A vaccination schedule prepared by your veterinarian can thus greatly contribute to good health and a longer life span for your cat. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we emphasize the importance of a vaccination schedule for your feline. Below are the most important diseases for which vaccines are currently available:

  • Rabies, one of the world’s most publicized and feared diseases, is almost always fatal . Rabies virus attacks the brain and central nervous system, and is transmitted to humans chiefly through the bite of an infected animal. In 1981-82, for the first time, more cats than dogs were reported to have rabies. This situation has led many authorities to recommend rabies vaccination for all cats.
  • Feline panleukopenia (feline distemper) is among the most widespread of all cat diseases, and is extremely contagious. Characterized by fever, loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea, feline panleukopenia causes high death loss, particularly among kittens.
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) is a highly contagious respiratory disease characterized by sneezing, loss of appetite, fever, and eye inflammation. As the disease progresses, a discharge is noticeable from both nose and eyes.
  • Feline calicivirus (FCV) is another serious feline respiratory infection. Often occurring simultaneously with feline viral rhinotraceitis. Signs of infection are similar to FVR  (fever, loss of appetite, nasal discharge), but calicivirus-infected cats may also have ulcers on the tongue.
  • Feline pneumonitis, is caused by the organism of Chlamydia psittaci. Signs of pneumonitis are similar to those of FVR and FVC (sneezing, fever, loss of appetite, nasal discharge, inflamed eyes).
  • Feline leukemia is a viral disease which can take several forms. Some cats have transient infections with few ill effects. Others have persistent infections varying in severity, some if which may be fatal over time. Extensive scientific research has shown o relationship between feline leukemia and human leukemia.
  • FIP is a complex disease of cats caused by feline infectious peritonitis virus. The most commonly diagnosed clinical manifestation is accumulation of fluid within the peritoneal cavity.

Protect your cat from infectious diseases by keeping vaccinations up to date. Vaccinations stimulate your cat’s system to develop immunity. Because they prevent disease but do not cure disease, they must be administered before your cat is exposed and infected. Your cat’s vaccination schedule depends on several factors: the age and health of your cat, and conditions in your cat’s environment. At Dublin Animal Hospital, we would be happy to help you plan a vaccination schedule so that your cat’s vaccinations are up to date.

Kittens should receive their first vaccinations between six and ten weeks of age. They also need to have additional vaccinations about three weeks after the first set. Kitten shots are not effective for life, so it is important to keep up with vaccinations throughout your cat’s life.

Adult cats need to receive booster vaccinations every year.

IV Fluids

In the aging process, the ability for the kidneys to perform their necessary functions gradually declines. IV fluids during anesthetized procedures increases blood flow to the kidneys and helps support their functions. This improves your pets tolerance of the anesthetic agents and procedures performed. The Dublin Animal Hospital highly recommends IV fluids for cats over 10 years and dogs over 9 years of age.

Nutrition

Just like you, your cat has specific nutritional requirements: protein for growth and tissue repair; carbohydrates for energy; vitamins and minerals for general health. Young kittens should be fed 3-4 times daily. At 6 months of age this can be reduced to twice a day, ands mature cats need only be fed once a day.For your cat, nothing is more important than proper nutrition. Here are some tips on picking the proper foods for your cat:While inexpensive pet foods may appear to be a bargain, they don’t provide the high-premium quality nutrition your cat needs. Ask your veterinarian what quality food they recommend for your cat, because when your cat feels as good on the inside as he looks on the outside, it shows every day. Here are some signs that your cat is benefitting from the nutrition of premium food:

  • Exceptional muscle tone
  • Healthy bones and teeth
  • A luxurious, shiny coat
  • Clear, bright eyes
  • Small and firm stools
  • A happy, healthy, playful attitude

Reading labels is a great way to analyze any cat food you are interested in. The five sections of the cat-food label can reveal information that will be crucial in your purchase decision.

  1. The name of the food gives clues about how much of an ingredient is actually present. For example, foods that include a protein source in the product name (“Beef Formula”) must contain at least 25% of the named ingredient; words “with” or “flavor” (“with beef”, “beef flavor”) could mean there’s as little as 3% of this ingredient.
  2. The ingredient panel lists all food sources in the product in descending order by precooked weight. For dry food, make sure the first ingredient is a source of high-quality protein, such as chicken or lamb.
  3. The guaranteed analysis gives the precentage breakdown of the basic nutrients in the formula- protein, fiber and moisture content, for example.
  4. The nuritional adequacy statement should say that the company conducted “animal feeding tests using AAFCO procedures,” which indicate that the food was actually fed to dogs and found to be adequate.
  5. The manufacturer phone number should be included. The words “packed for” or “distributed by” in this area, however, may indicate that the food was processed by a third-party manufacturer.

The label also recommends how much to feed your cat each day. Use these recommendations as a starting point to determine feeding amounts.When it comes to treats, don’t supplement your cat’s premium food with human food.The following items are dangerous, and can possibly be fatal for your cat. You definitely want to avoid:

  • Chocolate
  • Onion Powder
  • Cow’s Milk
  • Raw Eggs
  • Tuna
Parasite Control

Like most other animals, cats are plagued by a wide variety of internal and external parasites. Unfortunately, many of these parasites have complex life cycles which enable them to survive even in the best-kept households.At Dublin Animal Hospital, we know how to monitor and control feline parasites through regular examinations and proper treatment. Initial deworming may be necessary at 4-6 weeks of age, followed by several treatments during the first year of life. Where heartworms are a problem, regular medication for prevention of heartworm infection should start prior to the mosquito season. It is unwise to attempt to deworm a cat yourself: under certain conditions, you could cause physical damage or even death to the animal.

Fighting the Flea

Types of commercial products available for flea control include flea collars, shampoos, sprays, powders and dips. Other, newer, products include oral and systemic spot-on insecticides.In the past, topical insecticide sprays, powders and dips were the most popular. However, the effect was often temporary. Battling infestations requires attacking areas where the eggs, larvae, pupae and adults all congregate. Because some stages of a flea’s life can persist for months, chemicals with residual action are needed and should be repeated periodically. Sprays or foggers, which require leaving the house for several hours, should be used twice in 2-week intervals and then every two months during the flea season.Treating animals and their living areas thoroughly and at the same time is vital; otherwise some fleas will survive and re-infest your pet. You may even need to treat your yard or kennel with an insecticide, if the infestation is severe enough.The vacuum cleaner can be a real aid in removing flea eggs and immature forms. Give special attention to cracks and corners. At the end of vacuuming, either vacuum up some flea powder into your vacuum bag, or throw the bag out. Otherwise, the cleaner will only serve as an incubator, releasing more fleas into the environment as they hatch. In some cases, you may want to obtain the services of a licensed pest control company. These professionals have access to a variety of insecticides and they know what combinations work best in your area.The choice of flea control should depend on your pet’s life-style and potential for exposure. Through faithful use of these systemic monthly flea products, the total flea burden on your pet and in the immediate environment can be dramatically reduced. Keeping your pet on monthly flea treatments, especially in areas of high flea risk, is an excellent preventive method of flea control. These products often eliminate the need for routine home insecticidal use, especially in the long run. Although it may still be prudent in heavy flea environments to treat the premises initially, the advent of these newer systemic flea products has dramatically simplified, and made flea control safer and more effective. Talk to your veterinarian about flea prevention.

Heartworm Prevention Guidelines for Cats

by: PetPlace VeterinariansCats that are indoors may actually be at higher risk than cats that go out. In fact, up to 33 percent of reported cases are in cats who are described by their owners as “strictly indoors.”Feline heartworm disease is a serious parasitic disease caused by a long, thin worm, Dirofilaria immitis, that lives in the blood vessels and heart of infected cats.The disease is spread from dog to cat by mosquitoes. The mosquito bites a dog with heartworm infection, collects some of the microscopic heartworm offspring, and then after a couple of weeks, passes these on to another dog or to a cat. Inside the cat, the microscopic heartworm can grow into a parasite exceeding a foot in length. The life cycle is somewhat complicated. The important thing is to prevent worm development using safe and effective preventative drugs.Heartworms are present (endemic) in most parts of the United States and in many parts of North America. Mosquitoes are the key – without them the disease cannot spread. The highest rate of infections are found in subtropical climates like those of the southeastern United States, the Gulf States and Hawaii. However, heartworms are also found throughout the central and eastern United States, particularly near oceans, lakes and rivers. When compared to dogs, cats are naturally resistant to heartworm disease (estimated at about one-fifth as likely to become seriously infected as dogs in the same region); however, heartworm disease in cats is often more severe than in dogs. The presence of even a single adult heartworm in a cat can result in very serious consequences.Heartworm disease injures the lungs, the arteries within the lungs and the heart. Symptoms include tiring, coughing, vomiting, weight loss, difficult breathing and even sudden death. Heartworm infection in cats can be difficult to diagnose. Blood tests are available, but the results may sometimes be misleading.

Recommendations

Owners of all cats living in areas endemic for heartworms should discuss the pros and cons of preventative care with their veterinarian.If dogs in the area receive heartworm prevention, it is likely that cats also may benefit from this protection. Heartgard for cats® and Revolution for cats® are both safe and effective products for cats only. Do NOT use your canine heartworm medicine in your cat! The drug dosing is very different between species.Speak to your veterinarian about the need for preventative therapy, administration guidelines and when to start and stop prevention treatments. Some recommend that before beginning heartworm prevention, any cat over 7 months of age should first have a heartworm blood test.

Tick Removal

Many methods have been tried to remove ticks, many of which are not recommended. Applying a recently extinguished match or even a still lit match to the body of the tick will NOT cause the tick to back out and fall off. The mouthparts only let go when the tick has completed the meal. Also, applying fingernail polish will suffocate the tick but will not cause the tick to fall off.The best recommendation to remove a tick is to use a tweezers or commercially available tick removal device and pull the tick off. Do not touch the tick since diseases can be transmitted. Consider wearing gloves when removing a tick.With a tweezers or tick removal device, grab the tick as close to the head as possible. With steady, gentle pressure, pull the tick out of the skin. Frequently, pieces of skin may come off with the tick.If the head of the tick remains in the skin, try to grab it and remove as much as possible. If you are unable to remove the entire head, don’t fret. This is not life threatening. Your pet’s immune system will try to dislodge the head by creating a site of infection or even a small abscess.Usually no additional therapy is needed, but if you are concerned, contact your family veterinarian. There are surgical instruments that can be used to remove the remaining part of the tick.

Tick Control and Prevention

Control and prevention of ticks is extremely important in reducing the risk of disease associated with ticks. This includes removing the ticks as soon as possible and trying to prevent attachment.Tick avoidance requires avoiding environments that harbor them. Extra care should be taken in the woods and areas with tall grass or low brushes. When traveling, be aware that certain areas of the country have a much higher incidence of ticks (i.e. the northeast). In addition, since they can be carried unknowingly from one place to another on clothing or the body, it is always possible for an individual or animal to come into contact with a tick.Ticks may be killed by spraying, dipping, bathing, or powdering, or applying topical medications to affected individuals with appropriate tick-killing products. Tick collars or products applied topically may act to prevent attachment of new ticks and to promote detachment of ticks already attached.There are many products on the market that control ticks. Some are over the counter; others are prescription, only available through your veterinarian. Whether one purchases an over the counter or prescription product, it is a good idea to consult your veterinarian first.Some of the safest and most effective products that your veterinarian may recommend include topical spot-on products and certain tick collars. Topical spot-on products are generally applied on the skin between your pet’s shoulders once a month. Some are effective against other parasites as well (i.e. fleas, internal parasites).Tick products for dogs should NEVER be used on cats because severe toxicity and death may occur.

Disease Transmission

Ticks are considered excellent carriers and transmitters of various diseases. Ticks within the Ixodidae (hard tick) family transmit the majority of disease. The brown dog tick and the American dog tick are the most common carriers of disease. This includes cytauxzoon, ehrlichia and Lyme disease.Although all ticks have the potential to transmit disease, the vast majority of tick bites are disease-free. Still it is a good idea to check your pet frequently for any signs of ticks, after he or she comes back from a potential tick infested area, even if using tick prevention medications. Finding these pests and quickly removing them are important methods of controlling potential disease. The sooner ticks are removed from your pet, the less likely any disease transmission will occur.The best method of controlling disease transmission is through a combination of tick avoidance and using tick preventative medications.Your veterinarian can decide the best method of tick control for your pet, based on his or her risk factors (potential exposure, life-style, geographic location), and the need for any additional parasite control coverage. The advent of the many tick control medications has made tick control and prevention of disease easier and safer than ever.

Intestinal Parasites

Among the important gastrointestinal parasites of cats are roundworms (Toxocara species), hookworms (Ancylostoma tubaeforme, Ancylostoma braziliense and Uncinaria stenocephala), stomach worms (Physaloptera spp.), tapeworms (Diplylidium caninum, Taenia taeniaeformis) and microscopic parasites Coccidia, Giardia and Strongyloides species.

How Parasites Are Acquired

  • Ingestion of eggs. Most infections are acquired by ingestion of microscopic eggs. This occurs when a cat licks areas where other cats have defecated, like yards, parks or grass.
  • At birth. Many kittens are born with intestinal parasites (usually roundworms) that have been passed from the mother, where the parasite was in an encysted, quiet state.
  • From intermediate host. Tapeworms are transmitted by an intermediate host when a cat swallows a flea or eats a rabbit.

It should be emphasized that some parasites – especially roundworms and hookworms – can also affect people, especially children. For that reason, it is essential to prevent intestinal parasites in our pets and to treat any resultant infection.Parasitic diseases range from trivial to fatal disease. Parasites can cause severe disease in immature kittens, sick or debilitated pets, or in pets with a suppressed immune system. Younger pets often get acute disease (vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration and anemia) whereas older pets get chronic disease such as intermittent diarrhea.

What to Watch For:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Skin lesions
  • Diagnosis

Because parasitism is easily confused with other debilitating conditions, diagnosis depends on the following:

  • Medical history and physical examination, including observations of worms in the stool or vomitus.
  • Fecal examination for microscopic eggs or larvae. This is the most common approach to diagnosis as most pets do not appear ill.
  • CBC – Complete blood count if anemia is suspected (as with a hookworm infection) or if the pet is showing symptoms of illness.
  • Other blood tests may reveal concurrent problems.

Treatment

Treatments for intestinal parasites may include one or more of the following:Routine deworming in kittens – This is the ideal approach. All immature pets should treated at the first veterinary examination and regularly dewormed during the first year. In general, every cat less than one year of age should be given an anthelmintic (anti-parasite drug) for ascarids regardless of fecal results. This is in part to protect the environment from contamination with microscopic eggs that might infect children.A yearly fecal check and treatment is recommended for adult pets, especially if they are not taking heartworm preventatives that would prevent development of intestinal worms.Other treatments may include fluid therapy for debilitated pets or blood transfusion and iron supplementation (if necessary for severe blood loss as with hookworm infections).

Home Care and Prevention

At home, administer any prescribed medications and follow-up with your veterinarian for examinations and repeated fecal (stool) tests as needed.Some microscopic eggs can live in the environment (such as the yard) for weeks to months and cause re-infection. Clean up yard weekly and minimize roaming of pets in places like parks where exposure and infection are possible.Many health care specialists recommend a fecal sample from all adult animals at least yearly, a sample at each kitten vaccination visit, and a follow up sample at the appropriate interval after the last deworming medication has been given.With primarily outdoor cats, it may be advisable to evaluate stool samples every three to six months if risk of infection is high. One may also consider heartworm preventatives that also prevent intestinal parasites.Intestinal parasites are a common cause of vomiting and diarrhea in cats; however, other medical problems can lead to similar symptoms.One must exclude disorders such as viral infection, ingestion of spoiled or toxic food, ingestion of irritating or toxic substances, or bacterial infections, before establishing a definite diagnosis of disease from parasite infection.

Pre-anesthetic Testing

At Dublin Animal Hospital, we highly recommend pre-anesthetic testing for your animal. Testing helps us determine your pet’s health status, therefor enabling us to make the best medical decisions for your pet. Although performing pre-anesthetic tests cannot guarantee that complications will not occur, it can greatly reduce the risk to your pet and provide you with important peace of mind.Regardless of age, physical examination and medical history of your pet, we recommend pre-anesthetic testing. Anesthesia is extremely safe for healthy pets. But, if your pet is not healthy, (and sometimes it’s hard to tell without testing) it makes us aware of it so we can minimize potential risk.

 Top 4 Reasons to Test Your Pet Before Anesthesia

  • You deserve peace of mind. Testing can significantly reduce the medical risk and ensure you pet’s health and safety.
  • Pet’s can’t tell us when they don’t feel well. A healthy-appearing pet may   be hiding symptoms of a disease or ailment. For example, a pet can lose up to 75% of kidney function before showing any signs of illness. Testing helps us evaluate the health of your pet’s liver and kidneys, so we can avoid problems related to anesthesia.
  • Testing can reduce risks. If results of the pre-anesthetic test are within normal ranges, we can proceed with confidence, knowing the anesthetic risk is minimized. On the other hand, if results are not within normal ranges, we alter the anesthetic procedure to safeguard your pet’s health.
  • Testing can help protect your pet’s future health. These tests provide baseline levels for your pet and become part of his or her medical chart for future reference.
Spaying and Neutering

Cats and dogs are being allowed to breed with little regard for the availability of homes for their offspring, and a large problem exists because of it. Every year in the United States, between four and six million companion animals end up in animal shelters. Many of these animals are then euthanized.At Dublin Animal Hospital, we emphasize the importance in getting your animal spayed or neutered. Research has shown that spayed or neutered pets live longer, and it also reduces the risk of certain types of cancer and other health problems. To help your dog live a happier, longer, and healthier life, spaying or neutering is important.Your veterinarian will recommend the appropriate age, which is generally around 6 months; before a female goes into heat. We encourage you to have your pet spayed or neutered early in life in order to help address the problem of pet population and ensure that cats and dogs in the United States aren’t treated as if they are disposable. Talk to your veterinarian about the spaying or neutering procedure, and make plans to do it today.

The First Vet Appointment

Scheduling regular visits to the veterinarian is key to ensuring your cat’s health and happiness. You can introduce your cat to his new veterinarian by scheduling an orientation-only visit. Let the staff pet him and offer some treats. By projecting a calm and upbeat attitude, your cat will likely remain calm as well. Some experts recommend scheduling “drop-in” visits on a regular basis.

At the first appointment, you’ll be asked basic information, and a staff member will weigh your pet. Keeping track of your cat’s weight can help identify any problems associated with weight gain or loss. Afterwards, you’ll meet your veterinarian and be asked about your cat’s diet and lifestyle. The vet will examine him and may administer his first vaccinations.

Your relationship with your veterinarian is very important, because he or she is your best source of information regarding your pet. However, knowing what is healthy and normal can help you report any abnormalities to your vet as soon as possible. Here are some guidelines as to what’s normal:

Eyes: should be bright and clear. Any discharge in the corners should be removed gently with a cotton ball soaked in warm water, wiping away from the eye.

Ears: should be clean and free of discharge and odor. Ear problems are painful and can cause hearing loss if not treated.

Nose: should be moist and clean, without discharge or sores.

Mouth: gums should be pink and healthy. Teeth need to be clean and tartar-free. Bad breath is indicative of poor dental health. Also check the lips for sores.

Coat: your cat’s coat should be shiny and clean.

Weight: Do a rib check- with your hands facing down, thumbs on your cat’s spine, run your hand along its sides. Can’t easily feel his ribs? If not, your pet is overweight and is at risk for serious health problems. Consult your veterinarian for nutritional advice.

Trimming Your Cat’s Claws

by: PetPlace Staff

It’s that time again – time to trim your kitty’s toenails. But while some cats don’t seem to mind when you’re trimming their nails, others just plain don’t like it. And they are not at all shy about letting you know how they feel – by squirming and scratching. Following these suggestions for a proper nail trim might help you give your cat a not-so-arduous manicure:

  • Start young. The earlier you start clipping your kitty’s claws, the better used to it she will be. Frequent trims when your cat is young will help diminish any fear. Have your veterinarian show you how to do it the first time.
  • Learn the anatomy. Within the center of each toenail is the blood and nerve supply for the nail called the quick. Most cats have light colored nails so you can see the quick, a pinkish area in the middle of the nail. Cutting into the quick will result in pain and bleeding.
  • Use the proper instruments. There are a variety of nail trimmers available at pet stores or your veterinarian’s office. Human nail trimmers generally do not work – unless your pet is a young kitten with soft clear nails.

A Clip or an Overhaul

Before you start clipping, determine how much needs to be trimmed. The basic rule of thumb is that the nail, which curls downward, should be even with the paw pad. Whatever hangs over must be clipped.

Procedure:

  • Hold your cat firmly or have someone else help, and if your kitty is not used to getting her nails clipped, be ready for her to squirm.
  • Gently squeeze down on your cat’s toe knuckles so that the nails are spread out and exposed. Place the trimmer in your dominant hand.
  • Eyeball the quick and aim a few millimeters below it. If you cut into the quick, referred to as “quicking,” it will hurt your cat and the nail will bleed.
  • Place the trimmer flush with the pad, place the nail in the trimmer and remove the excess nail. For cats, removing just the sharp pointed tip is often enough.
  • Although you will take great care not to hurt your pet, sometimes accidents happen and you will cut into the quick. Have silver nitrate products on hand – you can get them at your veterinarian’s office or pet store. You can also use flour or cornstarch to stop the bleeding. If that doesn’t work, apply a light bandage for about 15 minutes. It the bleeding continues, call your veterinarian.

Tips on Cat Ownership

Cat Travel Tips
  • Be certain your cat is in good health. Some states and all foreign countries require current rabies and health certificates. Arrange with your veterinarian for a physical examination and necessary vaccinations and certificates.
  • Starting a week or more before a car trip, take a few short rides with your cat to acquaint it with travel.
  • Plan to keep control of your cat at all times, using a leash if possible. (A harness is better than a collar for a cat.) Keep car windows closed far enough to prevent cat from jumping out.
  • Never leave your cat unattended in a closed car during hot weather. Heat builds up rapidly in an enclosed space, resulting in heat stroke and death within a relatively short period of time.
  • If motion sickness has been a problem, medication is available to prevent it and calm the cat. Always restrict food and water before traveling.
  • Many motels and hotels welcome pets, but you should check to make sure when making reservations. You may want to carry a covered litter box in the trunk of your car.
  • Upon arrival, give food and water sparingly and offer plenty of understanding and affection.
Holiday Hazards

From the Veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

AGENT
TYPICAL SPECIES EXPOSED AND AFFECTED
COMMONLY OBSERVED SIGNS

Yeast Dough
Dogs
Drunken appearance, abdominal pain, respiratory depression, cardiac arrest

Macadamia Nuts
Dogs
Weakness, vomiting, incoordination, tremors

Raisins and grapes
Dogs, possibly other species
Vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy, kidney failure

Avocado
Dogs, cats, rabbits, goats, cattle, horses, birds
Vomiting, diarrhea, inflammation of the mammary glands in some species, heart and respiratory problems in some species

Coffee
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures

Alcoholic Beverages
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Drunken appearance, vomiting, lethargy, respiratory depression

Antifreeze
Dogs, cats, other small mammals, horses, birds, reptiles, livestock
Vomiting, drunken appearance, excessive drinking and urinating, seizures, kidney failure

Liquid Potpourris
Dogs, cats, small mammals, birds
Oral and esophageal burns

Ice Melts
Dogs, cats, small mammals, birds, horses
Vomiting, diarrhea, disorientation, electrolyte imbalances

Electrical Cords
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Shock or electrocution

Holiday Decorations
Dogs, cats, small mammals
Injury to the mouth or gastrointestinal tract, foreign body obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract

Batteries
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Foreign body obstruction, corrosive injury to the mouth and gastrointestinal tract

Human cough/cold/flu medicines
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
May affect one or more body systems, life-threatening conditions possible

Poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Mild gastrointestinal upset

Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Gastrointestinal upset

Mistletoe (Phoradendron serotinum)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Gastrointestinal upset, lowered blood pressure, cardiovascualr collapse, other variable signs

American Holly (llex opaca)
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Gastrointestinal upset, depression

Christmas tree preservative
Dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, reptiles
Mild gastrointestinal upset

Acorns
Dogs, horses, cattle
Gastrointestinal upset, foreign body obstruction, kidney failure

Indoor or Outdoor Cat?

by: Dr. Nicholas Dodman

The decision of whether to allow your cat outdoors may depend on your cat, your environment, and other personal factors.

Most U.S. cat experts – the Cat Fanciers Association, humane organizations and others – are continually trying to reach the public with the message that keeping cats indoors protects them from disease and all manner of dangers. Risks of outdoor life include exposure to infectious diseases, such as feline leukemia, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline infectious peritonitis, and rabies; injury or death occurring on busy roads; and attacks by predators. Not only does keeping cats indoors protect their health, it also protects the lives of countless birds that they would otherwise kill. In some areas, cats have severely reduced the populations of certain songbirds – almost to the point of extinction.

However, cat behaviorists in Great Britain believe that keeping cats indoors may contribute to behavior problems, such as house soiling. They claim that indoor cats are not allowed to express their natural behaviors and suffer as a consequence. Let’s consider the facts.

What Has Changed and Why

Many things have changed since the days when most cats ran wild and caught mice for a living. Here are but a few of them:

  • Cat owners today view their cats as family members and cats have become incorporated into many aspects of their owners’ lives. No longer are cats simply kept as ratters to protect the grain supply.
  • House cats of today are often given the very best of medical attention – and, sometimes, at quite an expense for their owners. Because of this and because they are fed better, cats now live longer, healthier lives than ever before.
  • The average life span of indoor cats is about 14 years – though this is reduced to 4 years in cats that are allowed to roam free, exposing themselves to the hazards of outdoor life.
  • Family structure has changed so that both owners often work, spending long hours away from the home. Cats are viewed as independent and able to cope better than dogs in this situation.
  • The population of pet cats has rapidly increased so that there are now some 73 million cats in the United States.
  • We have progressively become a nation of city dwellers. Country life is becoming a thing of the past. With cities come roads, traffic, and increased density of human and animal life. Dangers abound for free-ranging pets and diseases thrive better in crowded urban environments. Not all can be fully protected against with vaccines and no vaccine is 100 percent effective.

Letting Your Cat Out: The Cons

If lifespan were the only factor due for consideration, no one in his right mind would let a cat outside – ever. It just doesn’t make sense to risk your cat’s health, even life, in a world fraught with ever increasing danger. If you live on busy streets, which most of us do, letting your cat out subjects him to the risk of being injured or killed by passing traffic.

Besides traffic, there are risks posed by exposure to other cats. The #1 disease of outdoor cats is an abscess resulting from a bite wound. Bite wounds usually become infected, causing large volumes of pus to accumulate beneath the cat’s skin, sending the cat’s temperature soaring and making it feel out of sorts. Antibiotics and sometimes surgery are often necessary to help resolve the problem.

Highly infectious viral diseases, like feline AIDS and distemper, are transmitted between unvaccinated cats. And there’s the risk of rabies (again more so in unvaccinated cats) and predation posed by wildlife. The most recent wildlife threat comes from coyotes – that can tear a cat to pieces in very short order. Coyotes have migrated into highly urbanized areas, such as Manhattan, and should be considered a hazard for outdoor cats almost everywhere in the United States.

Some people are a threat to cats, too. Irresponsible, cruel children have been known to do heinous things to cats – in the name of having fun. Cat-hating adults may also harm cats and many outdoor cats harbor the telltale signs, air gun slugs or BB pellets seen on X-ray. Finally, inclement weather in northern climes can be a death sentence for cats.

Viewing things from another perspective, when cats are allowed outside it’s bad news for the small wild animals on which they prey. While no one really seems to mind when cats catch mice and other small rodents, when cats’ predatory instincts are directed toward beautiful songbirds, bird lovers naturally become enraged.

Keeping cats inside can avoid all of the above risks and disasters.

Letting Cats Out: The Pros

There really isn’t too much of a case here, unless you are a cat – and a particular type of cat at that. Confident cats, particularly those with prior outdoor experience, may well vote for freedom and its attendant risk over the alternative – a long, but boring, healthy life of incarceration. For cats of such persuasion, it seems that the New Hampshire state motto – “Live Free or Die” – might easily apply

Some indoor cats develop neurotic habits, such as wool sucking and psychogenic alopecia, while others become reclusive. Behavior problems of this type are rare in households, indeed in countries, where cats are regularly allowed out of the house. The highest incidence of neurotic behaviors in cats is in the United States where keeping cats inside is the most prevalent style of ownership (greater than 50 percent keep cats inside).

Conclusion:

The answer to the question about whether to keep cats inside or allow them outside on occasion, is not black or white but rather a shade of gray. If forced to vote one way or the other (which we are, on an individual basis), the answer would have to be to keep cats indoors. This is a far more healthful situation for the cat. But with great care, certain cats under certain circumstances, might be permitted brief, well-supervised excursions outside, perhaps on a harness and long lead.

For those cats that must remain indoors all the time, or even most of the time, it is an owner’s duty to make sure that his cat has copious daily opportunities for exercise, games, fun and interaction with family members. To this end, it is imperative to design the indoor cat’s environment to be cat-friendly and biologically appropriate.

Environmental Enrichment for Indoor Cats:
  • Company for your cat (another cat, or two, as long as they all get along well)
  • A rotation of well-designed toys for the cat’s entertainment and to dissipate predatory energies (moving toys are best)
  • Food puzzles – e.g. Busta cube for cats, pieces of meat or fish frozen in a block of ice, kibble-filled, cardboard toilet roll with holes punched in it and the ends sealed, to allow slow disbursement of the kibble, etc.
  • A three-dimensional environment (provide climbing frames and panoramic viewing stations)
  • Fish tanks (lids firmly in place), window bird feeders and even videos. There are some videos, featuring rodents running in wheels or fish swimming in place, that are specially made for cats.
  • The idea is to create an environment in which the cat is happy and gainfully occupied. If this can be done, and the cat does not constantly pine for the outside world, indoors is definitely a safer place. Even for a chronic complainer, it is best to keep working to distract and entertain him than give in to the pressure and allow him outside for what might be a short and unhealthful life outdoors.
Top 8 Litter Box Training Tips

These proven tips will help you train your new kitten or cat to use her litter box. (If you adopt an adult cat that doesn’t seem to be litter box trained, you may need to train her as if she were a kitten.)

  1. Make sure the box sides are short enough to allow her easy access (no taller than 4 inches). Consider a box with a top cover to contain odors and provide privacy.
  2. Remove solid waste daily.
  3. Choose an appropriate litter. Clay litter should be replaced weekly to keep odors and bacteria under control. Clumping or scoopable litters are recommended primarily for adult cats: their main advantage is that liquid clumps also can be removed daily, leaving the rest of the litter fresh. Organic litters are plant-based products that are often made with recycled, biodegradable materials. Whichever you choose, remember that many kittens prefer unscented litter. Once you and your feline friend find a type and brand you both like, stick with it-cats are creatures of habit.
  4. Put the box in a quiet comfortable spot that will give your cat privacy, away from her sleeping and feeding areas. Avoid sources of distracting noise such as an automatic washer. If you have more than one cat, each pet should have her own litter box in a separate location. Even single cat owners sometimes find advantageous to keep a second litter box in another area.
  5. Start to train. After showing your cat the location of her litter box (or boxes), begin by gently placing her in a box once every hour. Although she may scurry out, praise her whenever she uses the box. Also place her in her box whenever you notice her digging in a corner or pawing at newspaper-signs that she may have to go.
  6. Clean the litter box regularly. Thoroughly clean the box weekly to keep odors under control. Use warm soapy water-not scented disinfectants that your kitten may dislike.
  7. Protect plants. To discourage a new cat from making your potted plants her litter box, cover the soil surface with rocks or pinecones.
  8. Lavish the praise whenever your cat successfully uses her litter box, and never scold her when she doesn’t.