Feline Health

How to Get Your Cat Used to the Carrier

cat-in-carrier

A cat carrier is an important part of your cat’s life. For most cats, the only time they’re in a carrier is when they have to go to the veterinarian, so the association with carriers is often a negative and stressful one. But carriers can be vital in an emergency, and it’s a good idea to get your cats used to the carrier so that they can associate it with a positive experience.

Pick the right carrier

Carriers come in all shapes and sizes, from hard-sided crates to soft-sided carrying cases,and it comes down to your preference and your cat’s as to which one you choose. Make sure that the carrier is large enough for your cat to be able to stand and turn around in it comfortably. If you plan to travel with your cat, a larger carrier that can accommodate a small litter box may be a good choice.Continue Reading

Signs of Illness in Cats

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Cats are masters at hiding signs of illness, which is why regular veterinary exams are so important. All cats should get annual exams, and cats seven or older should be seen by a veterinarian twice a year. However, the most important person in keeping your cats healthy is you! You know your cat better than anyone, and it’s up to you to watch for any changes in your cat’s normal routine, behavior and attiude. They could be the first indicator that something is wrong.

Many pet guradians don’t realize that problems often develop slowly and cats especially don’t show symptoms until a disease is already advanced. If you can detect things early, you have a much better chance of addressing a problem successfully, and you’ll also save yourself money by avoiding costly veterinary fees for treating an advanced illness.

Look for Subtle Signs of Illness

Most signs start with a subtle change in your cat’s behavior, routine or attitude.Continue Reading

Feline Hyperthyroidism and Cat Food: Exploring a Possible Connection

cat_eating

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats.  It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck.  Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart and kidney disease. There has been much speculation about what causes hyperthyrodism in cats. One of the culprits may be your cat’s food.

University of Georgia study looks at whether cat food ingredients play a role in disease development

Researchers at the University of Georgia are examining whether cat food ingredients play a role in disease development. In a study funded by the Morris Animal Foundation, researchers treated feline thyroid cell cultures with various cat food ingredients to determine whether these ingredients stimulate normal thyroid cells. From the foundation website:

Researchers learnedContinue Reading

The Importance of Playtime for Cats

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Cats have a reputation for being low maintenance, which is probably one of the many reasons why they have surpassed dogs as the most popular pet in America. Unfortunately, because of this reputation, many people think cats don’t need as much attention as dogs do. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Play is vitally important to a cat’s mental and physical health, and it’s especially important for indoor cats. Even though cats may sleep up to 16 hours a day, when they’re awake, they need stimulation, and the best way to accomplish this is with play. In the wild, when lions, tigers and other wild cats aren’t sleeping, they’re either hunting, or teaching their young to hunt. And play is nothing more than channelling your domestic tiger’s hunting instinct into play.

Benefits of Play

  • Exercise. Obesity is the number one health problem in cats. According to a recent survey, 55% of America’s cats are overweight or obese. In addition to feeding a species-appropriate raw or canned diet, exercise is the best way to keep your feline charges fit and trim.
  • Relief of boredom. Continue Reading

Feline Hyperthyroidism: What You Need to Know

 feline_hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is a common disease that typically affects middle-aged and older cats.  It is caused by an excess production of thyroid hormones, which are produced by the thyroid gland, located inside the cat’s neck. Thyroid hormones affect nearly all organs, which is why thyroid disease can sometimes cause secondary problems such as hypertension, heart and kidney disease.

Causes, Symptoms, and Diagnosis

For a comprehensive overview on what causes hyperthyroidism, what the symptoms are, and how it is diagnosed and treated, read Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Treatment Options

Currently, there are three treatment options for hyperthyroidism in cats:Continue Reading

Making Health Care Decisions for Your Cat in a Crisis

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Today marks the third anniversary of the day I had to let Amber go. She died after a sudden, brief illness, most likely a virulent strain of the calici virus, complicated by an underlying heart condition we weren’t aware of at the time.

It was the first time I had lost a cat so suddenly. The cats that went before her had long illnesses – Feebee had lymphoma, Buckley had heart disease – so I not only had time to prepare myself for their eventual passing, I also didn’t have to make medical decisions under pressure. Thankfully, my years of experience in veterinary medicine made the decision making process somewhat easier for me than it might have been for the average cat parent, but it was still incredibly challenging to separate out my emotions and my fear of losing Amber, and to make the best possible decisions for her care.Continue Reading

Best Interactive Cat Toys

Allegra with Neko Flies Kattipede

Interactive toys are a great way to keep your cats stimulated both mentally and physically, and a great way for both you and your cats to get in on the fun.

Interactive toys fall into two categories: toys that your cats can play with on their own, and toys that are designed for joint play for cat and human. I introduced you to Interactive Puzzle Toys for Smart Cats a couple of months ago.

Interactive toys provide fun for cat and human

Toys such as feather teasers,wand toys or fishing pole type toys can provide hours of fun for you and for kitty. Playing with your cat is not only fun, it also increases the bond between the two of you. Here are some of my, and Allegra and Ruby’s, favorites:Continue Reading

Chronic Diarrhea in Cats

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Chronic diarrhea is probably one of the most frustrating conditions, both for the affected cat, and for her guardian. Diarrhea is considered chronic if symptoms persist for longer than three weeks, but any time your cat has diarrhea for more than a day or two, a visit to your veterinarian is indicated, especially if your cat is not eating or drinking water and/or is vomiting as well. Chronic vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration, and, if left untreated, can become life threatening.

Common causes of chronic gastrointestinal disease

Causes for chronic intestinal disease can vary, and include

Guidelines for Responsible Cat Care

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The American Veterinary Medical Association recently issued a set of Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership, stating that “owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations.” I think the AVMA is a bit behind the times with still using the term “owner” when it comes to pets. Most of us consider our cats part of the family, which is why I prefer the term “guardian” or even “pet parent.” But they do raise some interesting points in their guidelines. I won’t list all of them – you can read them for yourself if you’re interested – but I thought I’d highlight the ones I consider most important, especially for cats.

Commit to the relationship for the life of the cat

This one should be obvious, but sadly, it’s not. Cats are creatures of routine, and any change is traumatic for them. If circumstances don’t allow you to commit for the life of the pet, you may want to consider fostering instead.Continue Reading

National Hairball Awareness Day 2013

hairball

Today is National Hairball Awareness Day, and you’ll see a lot of information about hairballs, hairball remedies, and so-called hairball diets online. Hairballs are often the  topic of jokes and cartoons, but there is nothing funny about a cat who gets frequent hairballs. While the occasional, isolated hairball may be nothing to worry about, there really is no such thing as “just a hairball.”

I’d like to offer some information on hairballs that you may find startling, and to shed some light on why some of the conventional remedies may not work, or worse, mask a more serious problem.

In Some Startling New Thoughts on Cats and Hairballs, feline veterinarian Fern Crist offers a different look at how cats get hairballs, what they mean, and what you can do to prevent them.

In When Hairballs are More Than Just Hairballs, I explain why conventional remedies such as Petromalt or Laxatone should not be given to cats, Continue Reading

RenAvast: A Solution for Chronic Renal Failure in Cats?

RenAvast_kidney_function

During a recent visit to my vet’s home to do a Reiki session for 17-year-old Fifi, who is in renal failure, my vet mentioned that she is giving Fifi a new supplement called RenAvast™, and that she was really pleased with the results. I wanted to find out more about this supplement. What I learned impressed me enough to introduce you to it.

Physiology of Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure in cats is a physiological condition in which the kidneys have lost some degree of functional capacity. The kidneys’ ability to filter and remove waste products from the blood, and to regulate electrolytes is compromised. By the time symptoms appear (such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst and urination, dry haircoat), two-thirds to three-quarters of the total functioning kidney tissue may already be lost.

Management of Chronic Renal Failure

Management of chronic renal failure involves managing symptomsContinue Reading