information DOES NOT replace professional veterinary care. It is
intended solely for educational purposes. Your pet's medical condition
should be evaluated by a veterinarian before implementation of any
medical or husbandry changes. If there is a potentially life-threatening
emergency involving your pet, take your pet to a veterinarian or
veterinary facility IMMEDIATELY.
are some Easter Safety Tips for my Kitties?
On Easter morning, your curious kitty may be prowling around the
Easter basket, but it may not be the marshmallow chickies that she
has her eye on! To many cats, the plastic “grass” in
the basket looks good enough to eat. Unfortunately this stuff is
simply not digestible and once swallowed it can cause dangerous
obstruction of the cat’s digestive tract – usually requiring
surgery to remove it. The damage to the intestines can be very serious
or even fatal. Sometimes the strands of plastic become caught around
the base of the cat’s tongue making the cat gag and causing
damage to the esophagus. The best way to avoid this hazard is to
not use plastic “grass”. If the Easter bunny will be
visiting your house please ask him to use a safer alternative such
as green tissue paper or even a colorful bandanna to line the Easter
from plastic grass, real plants are even more enticing for cats
to nibble on. Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum), and other members
of the family Liliaceae, are a very serious source of danger for
cats and other pets. Cats that ingest any part of a lily –
the leaves, stem, flower or even the pollen – can be poisoned.
Even a very small amount is considered dangerous. The exact mechanism
by which this poisoning takes place is not known but symptoms such
as vomiting can appear within hours of eating the plant and progress
to fatal kidney failure within a few days. If treatment is begun
immediately – within a few hours of ingestion - it may be
possible to prevent or mitigate the damage to the kidneys. For those
cats surviving the acute phase of lily intoxication a prolonged
stay in the hospital and possibly dialysis treatment may be required
to allow the kidneys to have a chance of recovering.
If someone gives you a lily this year, why not donate it to a hospital,
nursing home (check to be sure they don’t have a feline resident!)
or church. In that way, other people can enjoy the flower’s
beauty without risking the health of your cat.
can I get my feline more fit?
Fat cats weigh heavily on my mind. Just like people, cats who are
overweight are prone to a variety of health problems – orthopedic
injuries, heart problems, diabetes and more. Many tubby tabbies
also have problems with personal hygiene - it gets hard to reach
some spots for grooming – others give up on grooming entirely.
owners don’t seem to realize that their cats are overweight.
So right now, I want you to examine your cat objectively –
I know he or she is sitting on your desk helping you with the computer.
Can you feel the ribs without having to dig your fingertips in?
Does he/she have a waistline behind the ribs? When viewed from above
is the abdomen the same width or a little narrower than the chest?
If you answered “No” to any of these questions your
cat may have a weight problem.
first step in anyone’s weight management plan is a visit to
the doctor to rule out any underlying health problems and to design
a weight loss program suited to the individual.
The most important part of feline weight loss is that it be very
gradual – cats who lose weight too quickly can experience
is the main component in any weight management program. Both portion
size and the type of food fed are important. Cats who are only mildly
overweight might be managed with strict portion control alone. However,
for cats with significant weight problems it is not appropriate
to simply decrease the amount of regular food being fed because
this may result in nutritional deficiencies. For these cats veterinarians
often suggest prescription diets formulated to allow weight loss
while ensuring adequate levels of vital nutrients. Diet foods for
cats fall into two categories – some provide a higher fiber
content to help the cat feel “full” while providing
fewer calories, other diets have an increased ratio of fat and protein
relative to carbohydrates, more closely mimicking the diet of hunting
cat. Your veterinarian will decide if one of these protocols is
appropriate for your cat.
exercise for indoor cats is also helpful. Nothing can replace the
energy expenditure of hunting for a living, but indoor toys and
games can help get those armchair mousers moving. Just like any
out of shape athlete, your cat will need to get into training gradually
to avoid injury.
only your cat’s veterinarian can advise you on what is best
for your cat and he or she can help your kitty with a safe plan
to achieve a healthy weight.
the best way to introduce a new cat to a home which has a cat?
Introducing a new cat or kitten to a home already occupied by a
feline family member can be a delicate matter. Cats are territorial
and almost all cats will feel that the new kitty is an invader.
With human patience and some environmental adjustments most introductions
can be accomplished with a minimum of stress.
All new cats and kittens should have a veterinary check-up and be
tested for Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency
Virus (FIV) and parasites before being brought home. The timing
of these tests depends on the cat’s prior exposure history
and should be discussed with your veterinarian. Cats or kittens
with uncertain health histories (such as: strays, cats adopted from
shelters or rescue groups or purchased in pet stores) should be
strictly quarantined for two weeks to help avoid contagion in case
they are incubating an infectious disease. Even apparently healthy
cats can suffer a stress induced relapse of an upper respiratory
infection that can be contagious to other cats.
The new cat can be quarantined in one room, allowing the current
resident feline to still have the run of most of the house. During
the quarantine period there should be no direct contact between
the cats and people should wash their hands after handling the new
cat. Nonetheless, the cats will know about each other’s presence
because of their acute senses of smell and hearing. As the end of
the quarantine period approaches begin placing the cats’ food
dishes closer and closer to the opposite sides of the closed door
so that they associate the reward of food with proximity to their
new housemate. Allow each cat to explore the other one’s “territory”
by himself/herself first and then with the other cat present. Always
supervise the interactions of the cats and go back to a lower level
of contact if there is conflict. Make sure that there are ample
hiding places and escape routes to avoid forced confrontation. Make
food, water bowls and litterboxes (rule of thumb is one more box
than the number of cats!) easily accessible and in more than one
location to avoid one cat “guarding” these resources.
Most introductions go smoothly but some cats are less sociable than
others – if things aren’t going well talk to your veterinarian
for advice specific to your situation.
vs Canned Cat Food?
Feline diet formulation is the subject of much debate and
recommendations about the best type of food to feed are constantly
changing as we learn more about the health of our feline friends.
Veterinarians may prescribe specific types of food for cats with
health problems but for normal cats, the pros and cons of both diet
types must be considered.
foods are convenient, they are easy to carry and store and do not
spoil quickly when served. Dry foods are formulated to provide complete
and balanced nutrition but they are often high in carbohydrates
that may predispose cats to obesity and diabetes. Some people believe
that constant “snacking” on dry food interferes with
the cat’s metabolism and if the cat never eats enough to feel
satiated then he or she may continue to snack – this promotes
a vicious circle. A few dry foods have been specifically formulated
to promote dental health but even so, if avoiding the dentist were
that easy we would probably all be happily munching cat food!
foods may cost more per portion and fresh food must be offered at
each mealtime, which may be difficult depending on the owner’s
schedule. A lot of kitties find the aroma of canned food to be enticing,
but the humans in the house don’t always agree! Many canned
foods have a higher protein and fat content relative to carbohydrates
and so mimic more closely the diet of a hunting cat but high fat
foods are also high in calories. Overfeeding canned food can be
fattening too! The higher water content of canned food can help
induce a feeling of satiation and can also be beneficial for cats
with urinary bladder problems.
is no one correct answer in the canned vs. dry question. Many people
choose to feed both canned and dry foods for variety and convenience.
The particular health benefits of each type of diet need to be considered
on an individual basis for each cat. As always, your cat’s veterinarian can advise you on what is best for your cat.