6 Tips for Caring for Senior Cats

6 Tips for Caring for Senior Cats

As seen in PetMD and Reviewed for accuracy on November 18, 2019, by Dr. Liz Bales, VMD

With good care—and good luck—our cats can live well into their late teens, and even their twenties. But as cats age, their physical and behavioral needs change.  

While these changes are obvious as your kitten matures into an adult cat, the changes when your cat transitions from an adult to a senior—starting at 11 years old—can be harder to spot. 

Here are the top six ways to care for aging cats.

1. Pay Extra Attention to Your Senior Cat’s Diet

Senior cats have unique dietary and behavioral needs. It is more important than ever for your cat to be a healthy weight to maintain optimum health. 

Talk to your veterinarian about how and when to transition your cat to a senior food. 

Your veterinarian will help you asses your cat’s optimum weight and can recommend a senior food to help maintain, lose or gain weight.

A cat’s digestion is also improved by feeding them small, frequent meals throughout the day and night. Measure your cat’s daily food and distribute it in small portions.

You can use tools like hunting feeders, like Doc & Phoebe’s Cat Co. Indoor Cat Feeder Kit, and puzzle toys that promote physical and mental engagement at mealtime.

2. Increase Your Cat’s Access to Water

As cats age, they are prone to constipation and kidney disease, especially if they are not staying hydrated enough.

Increase your senior cat’s water intake by providing canned food and more options for drinking water.

As your cat gets older, they might not be able to jump up on to counters or access the usual water dish. Add more water stations around the house with plenty of bowls and/or pet water fountains to entice your senior cat to drink more.

3. Know and Keep an Eye Out for the Subtle Signs of Pain in Cats

Cats are masters at hiding their pain. As many as nine out of 10 senior cats show evidence of arthritis when X-rayed, yet most of us with senior cats have no idea.

The most important thing you can do to prevent the pain from arthritis is to keep your cat at healthy weight. As little as a pound or two of excess weight can significantly increase the pain of sore joints. 

Your veterinarian can help you with a long-term plan to help control your cat’s pain with medicine, supplements and alternative treatments, like acupuncture, physical therapy and laser treatments

4. Don’t Neglect Your Cat’s Dental Health

Dental disease is very common in aging cats. Cats can get painful holes in their teeth, broken teeth, gum disease and oral tumors that significantly affect their quality of life.

Infections in the mouth enter the bloodstream and can slowly affect the liver, kidneys and heart. So paying attention to your cat’s dental health is essential to caring for them during their senior years.

Often, there is no clear sign of dental disease. Cat parents see weight loss and a poor hair coat as the vague signs of aging, not an indication of a potential problem.

A thorough veterinary exam and routine dental care can drastically improve your cat’s quality of life, and can even extend their lifespan. 

5. Give Senior Cats Daily Exercise and Mental Stimulation

Environmental enrichment is an essential part of your cat’s quality of life.

All cats need places to climb, places to hide, things to scratch, and ways to hunt and play. All of these things will help your cat stay physically and mentally stimulated as well as healthy.

However, as your cat ages, providing these things may require some extra thought. Your cat’s mobility may become more limited, so you will need to make your home more accessible so that it’s easier on their older joints.

For example, a carpeted cat ramp can act as a scratching post as well as a climbing aid for cats with arthritis. A covered cat bed can give aging cats a cozy, warm place to hide that also helps to soothe sore joints and muscles. You can move their food and water bowls to more accessible locations on the ground instead of on tables or counters.

6. Don’t Skimp on Biannual Vet Visits

Finally, and most importantly, maintaining a good relationship with your veterinarian is critical when discussing care and quality of life for your cat in their senior years. Ideally, cats over 11 years of age should see the veterinarian every six months.

Blood work done during these visits can detect the onset of health issues—like kidney disease—while there’s still time to make medical changes that will improve and extend your cat’s life.

Weighing your cat twice a year will also show trends in weight loss or gain that can be valuable clues to overall health changes. And oral exams will detect dental disease before it negatively impacts your cat’s health.

Cat Constipated???

Cat Constipated???

By Dr. Karen Becker

 

Just like us, our feline friends can suffer from constipation. In some kitties it happens just once in a while; for others it can become a persistent problem.

When stool stays in the colon too long, it becomes dry, hard, and difficult to pass. Left untreated, chronic constipation can lead to megacolon, a terrible condition in which the large intestine stretches so much it can no longer do its job effectively.

How to Tell if Your Cat Is Constipated

Your kitty should poop at least once every day because it’s an important part of the body’s natural detoxification process.

Your cat is constipated when he either has difficulty pooping (and the stool he produces is dry and hard), or he isn’t pooping at all. This is why it’s so important to keep an eye on kitty’s daily “output.” The quantity, color, texture, and smell, along with the presence of mucus or blood, are all indicators of his general well-being.

Often, what passes from (or in the case of constipation, doesn’t pass from) your pet’s body is the first sign of a health problem, so you should regularly monitor your cats litterbox and familiarize yourself with what “normal” looks like for your kitty.

Your cat’s stools should be brown, formed, and soft enough that litter sticks to them. If your kitty isn’t going daily or his stools are so hard and dry that litter doesn’t stick to them, he could be constipated. And keep in mind most constipated cats will never show overt signs of a problem. In fact, some suffer their entire lives and their humans don’t realize it because they aren’t aware of the more subtle signs of chronic constipation.

Left untreated, a constipated cat may begin to vomit intermittently, lose his appetite, and start dropping weight. He may seem lethargic. Don’t let the problem progress to this point before you take action.

Potential Causes of Feline Constipation

Often, constipation in cats is simply the result of inadequate water consumption or lack of dietary fiber. But sometimes the situation is more complicated, involving an obstruction inside the colon or a problem in the pelvic cavity, such as a tumor that interferes with bowel function.

If you actually saw your cat swallow something that could cause an obstruction, get veterinary help right away as this situation can rapidly progress to a very serious and even fatal problem.

Intact males, especially if they’re older, can develop enlarged prostates that compress the bowel, creating very thin stools or even an obstruction. This problem can usually be resolved by having your male cat neutered.

Hernias in the rectum are another obstruction that can cause constipation. The hernia bulges into the rectum, closing off passage of stool. Hernias usually require surgery to repair.

Constipation can also be the result of a neuromuscular problem or a disease like hypothyroidism or hypercalcemia. Some kitties have insufficient muscle tone or neuromuscular disorders that impede the body’s ability to efficiently move waste through the colon.

Other causes of constipation can include infected or cancerous anal glands, or a hip or pelvic injury that makes pooping painful, the effects of surgery, certain medications, iron supplements, and stress.

Hands Down, the Most Common Reason for Kitty Constipation

With all the above said, when it comes to constipation in cats, by far the most common cause is inadequate fluid intake. Your kitty’s natural prey (e.g., mice) contains 70% to 75% water, and felines are designed to get most of the water their bodies need from their diet.

Cats fed exclusively kibble are getting only a very small amount (10% to 12%) of the moisture their bodies need, and unlike dogs and other animals, they won’t make up the difference at the water bowl due to their “underactive” thirst drive. So, these cats are chronically dehydrated, which causes constipation.

The lack of moisture causes stool in the colon to turn dry, hard and painful to pass; it also causes the kidneys to become stressed. If your cat happens to be overweight and not getting enough exercise, the problem is exacerbated. Physical activity stimulates rhythmic muscle contractions (peristalsis) in the colon, which helps move things through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.

Unfortunately, many housecats have lifestyles that involve eating too much of the wrong type of food and moving too little. Swallowing fur during grooming can further slow the transit time of waste through the colon, especially in cats fed dry diets who are also not getting adequate exercise.

How to Help a Constipated Cat

Assuming your kitty is in otherwise good health, there are several things you can do to help solve her constipation issues.

  1. If you’re feeding kibble, I strongly encourage you to switch to a moisture-rich, nutritionally optimal, species-specific diet. It’s always the first thing I recommend, especially for cats with any sort of digestive issue. At a minimum, transition from dry food to canned food, which will automatically increase the moisture in your cat’s system.
  2. If you make your own food, be absolutely sure your kitty’s diet is nutritionally balanced. Many of the homemade recipes I’ve analyzed have two to three times the upper safe limits of calcium levels recommended for pets, which will lead to constipation, among many other things. Recipes to try.
  3. Make sure your cat has access to clean, fresh, filtered drinking water at all times. Place a few stainless steel or Pyrex glass bowls around the house in areas she frequents. Avoid plastic water bowls, which can make the water taste unpleasant. You might also want to consider purchasing a pet water fountain to replace your cat’s water bowl, since many kitties will drink more from a moving water source. If she still isn’t drinking enough, consider adding bone broth to her food to increase the moisture content in her diet.
  4. Offer bone broth, in addition to water. Broths are an excellent way to entice cats to drink more. Add a bowl of warm broth beside her regular food on a daily basis. Here’s a recipe for homemade bone broth.
  5. Cats need to move their bodies through play and exercise. Movement also helps stool move through the colon. Regular physical activity can help prevent or remedy constipation.
  6. Add digestive enzymes and probiotics to your pet’s meals. Both these supplements will help with maldigestion, which is often the cause of both occasional constipation and diarrhea.
  7. If your cat lived in the wild, his natural prey would provide ample fiber in the form of fur, feathers and predigested gut contents. Needless to say, domesticated pets don’t get a lot of these things in their meals! Good replacement options for your feline companion include:
Psyllium husk powder — 1/2 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight 1-2 times daily on food Ground dark green leafy veggies — 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight 1-2 times daily with food
Coconut oil — 1/2 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight 1-2 times daily Canned 100 percent pumpkin — 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight 1-2 times daily on food
Aloe juice (not the topical gel) — 1/4 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight 1-2 times daily on food Acacia fiber — 1/8 teaspoon per 10 pounds of body weight 1-2 times daily as prebiotic fiber
  1. Chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage can also be very beneficial in helping to alleviate chronic constipation in pets.

Please note these recommendations are for cats experiencing a minor, temporary bout of constipation. If your kitty’s condition is not resolving or seems chronic, or if you aren’t sure of the cause, make an appointment with your veterinarian.

 

Products to Clean Cat Urine Messes

Several products can help neutralize cat pee odor, including vinegar or baking soda and enzymatic cleaners. Here are some options to help you get rid of the cat pee smell.

 

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Vinegar, while a bit smelly itself, works to remove the lasting odor of sprayed cat urine because vinegar is an acid that neutralizes the alkaline salts that form in dried urine stains.

A solution of one part water and one part vinegar can be used to clean walls and floors. Proponents say that the vinegar smell subsides after a few days, taking the urine smell with it.

Enzyme-Based Cleaners

For odor elimination in carpets, couch cushions, mattresses, and linens, you can try an enzyme-based cleaner. The enzymes in these products actually break down the acid in cat urine, helping to get rid of the smell at the same time. The natural enzymes and helpful bacteria help get rid of the bad bacteria that’s causing the unpleasant odors.

When cleaning any surface, it’s important to get to the point where not only can you not smell the urine, but your cat can’t smell it, either. “When a cat can smell a previous urine spot (from themselves or another cat), that area is likely to be used again,” Dr. George says.

Avoid Products That Contain Ammonia

Most importantly, avoid any cleaning products that contain ammonia. “Ammonia is one component of cat urine, and if cats smell that, they’re more likely to go there,” Dr. Kornreich says.

In addition, ammonia and other chemical cleaners can often set the stain—the opposite of what you’re trying to do.

How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Carpet

Here’s what you should do to help eliminate the smell of cat pee from a surface.

1. Blot the Spot to Absorb the Urine

Find the stain as soon as possible and blot up as much of the urine as you can with a clean cloth.

2. Rinse and Vacuum the Area

Next, rinse the area with clean water and remove the liquid with a wet/dry vacuum. “You don’t want to use a steam cleaner, as the heat can set the stain,” Roberts said.

3. Soak the Spot in Enzyme Cleaner

While enzyme cleaners come in a spray bottle, spraying a light coat over the stain won’t do much. Instead, remove the sprayer and douse the spot liberally.

4. Let It Sit Before Blotting With a Clean Cloth

Let the cleaner sit for 10-15 minutes and blot up as much of it as possible with a clean cloth.

5. Prevent Your Cat From Returning to the Spot

To keep your cat from returning to the spot during the cleaning process, place a piece of aluminum foil or an aluminum baking sheet over the area, or cover it with an upside-down laundry basket.

6. Reapply the Cleaner if Necessary

You may need to reapply the cleaner and let it dry again for older or particularly smelly stains.

Removing Cat Urine Smells From the Subflooring

Urine can often soak through the carpet and into the subflooring, leaving a stain and a stench that can’t be lifted with carpet cleaner and elbow grease.

If you have pet odor that will not go away despite your best carpet-cleaning efforts, neutralize the scent by using an oil-based, stain-blocking primer on the subfloor beneath the carpeting. Replace the padding as well as that area of carpet.

How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Cushions

Here a few easy steps you can take to remove the cat pee smell from a cushion.

1. Soak the Area in Water

Soak the affected area of the cushion with water. Blot up as much of the cat urine as possible with a towel.

2. Soak the Area With an Enzyme Cleaner

Then soak the cushion by very slowly, pouring the enzyme cleaner on and around the affected area.

3. Let It Sit Before Blotting With Towels

Let it sit for 15 minutes, then squish out as much of the excess enzyme cleaner as possible before blotting with towels.

4. Let the Cushion Dry

If possible, leave the cushion outside as long as possible while it dries. Since cushions take days to dry, lay aluminum foil down before putting the cushion back, then put a second layer of foil over the top of the cushion to discourage your cat from peeing on the cushion again.

How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of a Mattress

Mattresses require almost the same process as cushions.

1. Soak the Area in Water

Soak the affected area of the mattress with water. Blot up as much of the cat urine as possible with a towel.

2. Soak the Area With Enzyme Cleaner

Then soak the mattress by very slowly pouring the enzyme cleaner on and around the affected area.

3. Let It Sit Before Blotting With Towels

Let the enzymatic cleaner sit for 15 minutes and then blot it up. Place several layers of clean towels over the mattress and then make the bed.

4. Let the Mattress Dry

Swap out the towels each day until the mattress completely dries. To discourage peeing on the spot while the mattress dries, cover the bed with a large plastic sheet or tarp when you’re not using it. You can also get a waterproof mattress cover to protect it from future incidents.

5. Reapply If Needed

Mattresses may require several applications to completely remove the cat urine.

How to Get Cat Urine Smell Out of Linens and Clothing

One important rule with linens and clothing is: NEVER use bleach—when mixed with ammonia and cat urine, it can cause harmful gases.

1. Rinse the Spot With Cool Water

If your bed linens and clothing are machine washable, first rinse the spot in a sink with cool water.

2. Wash With Detergent and Baking Soda or Cider Vinegar

Add the items to the washing machine with detergent plus a cup of baking soda OR a quarter cup of cider vinegar.

3. Add Enzyme Cleaner If the Smell Persists

If you can still smell the urine after the cycle is complete, add enzyme cleaner to the load (following instructions on the package) and run the cycle again.

4. Air-Dry After Washing

Always air-dry linens, as the heat of the dryer may lock in the smell before it’s completely gone.

5. Rewash

You may need to rewash one or more times until the scent is completely gone.

Keep Your Cat From Urinating in That Spot in the Future

Once you’ve cleaned a particular area, prevent a recurrence by changing the significance of that area to your cat. In other words, since cats prefer to eat and eliminate in separate areas, place food bowls and treats in previously soiled areas, or play with your cat in that space and leave toys there.

By Michelle Shapiro 

 

Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Symptoms and Treatment

Hyperthyroidism in Cats: Symptoms and Treatment

by: Dr. Lorie Huston as seen in PetMD 

 Reviewed and updated on March 18, 2020, by Jennifer S. Fryer, DVM

 

Hyperthyroidism in cats is a disease that’s usually caused by a benign tumor within the thyroid gland. This tumor causes an overproduction of the thyroid hormone called thyroxine. One of the primary functions of this thyroid hormone is to regulate an animal’s metabolism

Cats with too much thyroid hormone have a greatly increased metabolic rate, which leads them to lose weight despite having a ravenous appetite. Other symptoms can include anxiety, vomiting, diarrhea, and increased thirst and urination.

These excessive hormone levels push a cat’s body into constant overdrive, which frequently leads to high blood pressure and a type of heart disease called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy

Here’s everything you should know about hyperthyroidism in cats so you can spot the signs and get your cat on a treatment plan as soon as possible.

How Common Is Hyperthyroidism in Cats? 

There is no known genetic predisposition for hyperthyroidism, but it is quite common in cats. 

In fact, hyperthyroidism is the most common hormonal (endocrine) disease in the cat population, often seen in late middle-aged and older cats. 

The average age of diagnosis is approximately 13 years. The possible age range is 4-20 years, although seeing young hyperthyroid cats is very rare.

What Does the Thyroid Gland Do?

In cats, the thyroid gland has two parts, with one on each side of the trachea (windpipe), just below the larynx (voice box).

The thyroid gland makes several different hormones (mostly thyroxine, or T4). These thyroid hormones affect many of your cat’s body processes:

·         Regulation of body temperature

·         Metabolism of fats and carbohydrates

·         Weight gain and loss

·         Heart rate and cardiac output

·         Nervous system function

·         Growth and brain development in young animals

·         Reproduction

·         Muscle tone

·         Skin condition

Symptoms of Hyperthyroidism in Cats

Here are the major symptoms of hyperthyroidism that you should look for in your cat:

·         Weight loss

·         Increased appetite (ravenous)

·         Unkempt appearance

·         Poor body condition

·         Vomiting

·         Diarrhea

·         Drinking more than usual (polydipsia)

·         Peeing more than usual (polyuria)

·         Rapid breathing (tachypnea)

·         Difficulty breathing (dyspnea)

·         Heart murmur; rapid heart rate; an abnormal heartbeat known as a “gallop rhythm”

·         Hyperactivity/restlessness

·         Aggression

·         Enlarged thyroid gland, which feels like a lump on the neck

·         Thickened nails

Less than 10% of cats suffering from hyperthyroidism exhibit atypical signs such as poor appetite, loss of appetite, depression, and weakness.

What Causes Cats to Be Hyperthyroid?

Hyperfunctioning thyroid nodules (where the thyroid nodules produce excess thyroid hormones outside of the control of the pituitary gland) cause hyperthyroidism. But what causes the thyroid to go haywire?

 

There are several theories about what causes cats to become hyperthyroid:

·         Rarely, thyroid cancer

·         Some reports have linked hyperthyroidism in cats to some fish-flavored canned food diets

·         Research has pointed to flame-retardant chemicals (PBDEs) that are used in some furniture and carpeting and circulated in house dust

·         Advancing age increases risk

How Do Vets Test for Feline Hyperthyroidism?

In most cases, diagnosing hyperthyroidism is straightforward: high levels of thyroid hormone in the bloodstream (total T4 or TT4) along with the typical signs. 

In some cases, however, your cat’s T4 levels may be in the normal range, making a diagnosis of hyperthyroidism more difficult. This is especially true in the early stages of this disease. 

If your cat is showing the symptoms of hyperthyroidism but the blood tests are not conclusive, you will need to return to your veterinarian for further blood tests or for a referral for a thyroid scan.

The signs of feline hyperthyroidism can also overlap with those of chronic renal failurediabetes mellitus, chronic hepatic disease, and cancer (especially intestinal lymphoma). 

These diseases can be excluded on the basis of routine laboratory findings and thyroid function tests. Your veterinarian will conduct a battery of tests to zero in on a reliable diagnosis.

Kidney disease is commonly diagnosed along with hyperthyroidism in cats. Cats suffering from both diseases may need treatment for both, and the diagnosis of kidney disease in a cat with hyperthyroidism can affect the cat’s prognosis

Treatment for Hyperthyroid Cats

The gold standard therapy is radioiodine (I131) treatment, which can cure the hyperthyroidism in most cases. Daily medication (methimazole) or feeding a low-iodine diet are good options when radioiodine therapy is not an option due to financial considerations or the cat’s overall health.

Radioiodine Therapy (Radioactive Iodine Treatment)

Radioiodine therapy, or I131 treatment, uses radioactive iodine to kill the diseased tissue in the thyroid gland. Most cats undergoing I131 treatment are cured of the disease with one treatment.  

The cat’s thyroid levels are monitored after treatment. Rare cases require a second treatment. Hypothyroidism is not common after treatment, but it can occur, and it can be managed with a daily thyroid medication.

The use of radioiodine is restricted to a confined medical facility, since the treatment itself is radioactive. Depending on the state you live in and the guidelines in place, your cat will need to be hospitalized from several days to a few weeks after being treated with radioactive medicine, to allow the radioactive material to leave your cat’s body before coming home.

Precautions will still need to be taken after bringing your cat home. Your veterinarian will give you specific instructions to reduce your risk of exposure to the radioactive material, which will probably include storing your cat’s used litter in a sealed container for a period of time before disposing of it in the garbage.

 

Surgically Removing the Thyroid Gland

Surgical removal of the diseased thyroid gland is another potential treatment. Like I131 treatment, surgical treatment is curative, but these cats also must be monitored afterward for hypothyroidism.

Surgical removal of the thyroid gland is best performed when only one thyroid gland is affected, as removal of both can possibly lead to hypothyroidism. Another complication that can occur after surgical removal of the affected thyroid gland is the successive hyperactivity of the remaining thyroid gland.

Methimazole Medication

Giving your cat a medication called methimazole is probably the most common treatment choice. It’s administered by mouth in pill form, or it can be formulated by a compounding pharmacy into a transdermal gel that can be applied to your cat’s ear. Methimazole is often given before radioiodine treatment or surgery to stabilize your cat’s clinical signs.  

Methimazole is effective in controlling the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. However, it does not cure the disease—your cat will need to receive the medication for the rest of his life. If a cat is younger at diagnosis (under 10 years old) and does not have underlying diseases, the cost of methimazole for a lifetime may exceed surgery or radioiodine. 

Methimazole has rare but significant side effects in some cats, so make sure to make and keep regular monitoring appointments with your veterinarian. 

Iodine-Restricted Diet

 

Feeding a diet that restricts iodine is a newer alternative for treatment of feline hyperthyroidism. Like methimazole treatment, this alternative is not curative, and your cat will require lifelong treatment. 

This diet must be given exclusively. The hyperthyroid cat on this diet must not have access to or be given any treats, other cat food, or human food. Other cats in the household may eat this food, but they must be supplemented with an appropriate cat food for their age and health in order to provide adequate iodine. 

Follow-Up Care for Hyperthyroid Cats

Once treatment has begun, your veterinarian will need to reexamine your cat every two to three weeks for the initial three months of treatment, with a complete blood count to check their T4. Treatment will be adjusted based on the results, such as changing methimazole dosage to maintain T4 concentration in the low-normal range.

If your cat has had surgery, particularly removal of the thyroid gland, your veterinarian will want to closely observe your cat’s physical recovery. Development of low blood-calcium levels and/or paralysis of the voice box during the initial postoperative period are complications that will need to be watched for and treated, should they occur. 

Your doctor will also measure your cat’s thyroid hormone levels in the first week after surgery and every three to six months thereafter, to check for recurrence of thyroid gland overactivity. 

By: Dr. Lorie Huston, DVM, Dr. Jennifer Coates, DVM, Dr. Jennifer S. Fryer, DVM

 

Cat Got Hot Ears? Here’s why…..

Cat Got Hot Ears?  Here’s why…..

By Melvin Pena as seen in Catster’s magazine

 

Ever thought something along the lines of, “My cat’s ears are hot — is he sick?” Anthropocentric creatures that we are, humans tend to assume, regardless of context, that our own baseline experience of the world is some kind of universal standard, and that any deviation from it is strange, problematic or worrisome. For example, in an idle moment of couch-sitting, you’re petting your beloved cat and start mindlessly fondling the cat’s ears. Suddenly, you’re thinking, “Man, my cat’s ears are hot!” You’ve never really noticed that before, and now those hot cat ears are all you can think about.

Cats are warm creatures. No cat owner or fan of cats would dare to deny it. A cat’s natural body temperature is several degrees hotter than any human’s. Anything up to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit (39.2 degrees Celsius) is considered normal. When playing with cat ears, you are bound to make note of the contrast between what you consider normal and what is typical for the cat. So, if you’re sitting here wondering, “My cat’s ears are hot — is it an issue?” let’s take a closer look.

Facts on cat ears and temperature

The first thing to know when thinking, “My cat’s ears are hot” — the temperatures of cat ears fluctuate based on the animal’s surroundings, which is perfectly normal. Unlike most of the surface area of a cat’s body, cat ears tend to be thin and exposed, protected by neither a great deal of fur nor by body fat. Their noses are also notoriously changeable.

During warmer times of the year, vasodilation increases blood flow to these areas, the better to release excess heat from the body. During colder periods, vasoconstriction does the opposite to conserve heat. You may think that indoor cats are subject only to the whims of the thermostat, but any cat perched near a window in the daytime is going experience a temporary hike in both ear and nose temperature.

If we look to colorpoint breeds like the Siamese, we can see that our baseline perception of warmth is very different to that of our cats. For these breeds especially, their experience of heat is written on the body. You may know that the unique coat markings of color-pointed cats are expressions of a form of partial albinism, and that all specimens of these breeds are born with white coats. The patches of color develop as these cats mature, and are darkest at the coolest parts of its body, typically the ears, nose and tail.

Do those warm cat ears mean your cat has a fever?

Some humans might immediately think, “My cat’s ears are hot — does my cat have a fever?” Are cat ears reliable gauges for a cat’s general health? In cats, even a standard fever, from 103.5 degrees Fahrenheit (39.7 degrees Celsius) and upwards, is usually nothing to worry about in the short term. The heat increase experienced during a fever is the body’s natural way of fighting infective agents, like viruses or bacteria, and kickstarts the immune system into action. A cat with a “normal” fever will seek to isolate herself in a cool place — unlikely to be your lap — and remain still with her body splayed out rather than curled up.

If a cat’s ear temperature is a source of concern, feel the stomach and underarms. If they, too, are hot to the touch, the cat may have a fever, since a cat with a true fever will experience increased temperature across the entire body. Seek veterinary attention if you observe extreme total body heat for more than two days consecutively. If this describes your cat’s current conditions, you’ll probably have noticed a number of related signs and symptoms, any of which will be more telling than ear temperature alone.

Related: 4 Cat Ear Problems and How to Treat Them

Most cat owners spend enough time with their cats to be familiar with their routines. Is the cat eating less, or not finishing her food with her normal alacrity? Does her heartbeat seem quicker than usual? Is she not only hot, but also shivering? Any combination of these symptoms points more conclusively to a potentially dangerous health issue.

Hot cat ears and fevers of unknown origin

Fevers caused by viral infections in cats may subside as quickly as they arise. Fevers caused by secondary bacterial infections are usually accompanied by wounds that you can easily observe or can be indicated by unnatural areas of swelling if they are internal.

If your cat has experienced feverish conditions four or more times over the course of two weeks, the cat may have what is referred to as a fever of unknown origin. Make careful note of any and all changes — behavioral, physical and otherwise, including the first time you noticed hot cat ears. That way your vet can begin the difficult process of identifying the problem.

Can temperature signal other cat ear problems?

Wondering, “My cat’s ears are hot — does he have any sort of ear problem?” Where cat ear health is concerned, there are always more obvious signs of disorder and disease than hot cat ears. The most common cat ear issue is otitis externa, or an infection of the outer ear. Cat ear infections are most frequently traced to two sources, ear mites and yeast infections, with mites being the problem in the majority of reported cases.

Ear infections may present with ears that are warmer than normal. But this can be attributed to the cat paying them more attention than usual. Abnormal amounts of scratching at an ear with paws, or intently rubbing them against furniture, will necessarily raise their temperature and cause reddening. Whether the source of the infection is mites or yeast, these microscopic organisms wreak havoc only when conditions are optimal.

Excessive buildup of ear wax reduces ventilation and raises the internal temperature of the ear canal. The pinna, or the outer part of the ear that you see and touch, may become warmer as well, but it is the heat inside that permits mites and fungi to flourish. Symptoms of an ear infection more alarming than warmth include dark-colored discharge and a strange, pungent smell.

Bottom line: Don’t be stressed if you’re thinking, “My cat’s ears are hot!”

Cat ears are fascinating organs. Heavily muscled in spite of their delicate appearance, each is capable of moving and turning independently of the other. Subject to the vicissitudes of their environment, the external temperature of the pinnae varies wildly. A cat can have warm ears one hour and cool ones the next.

If the heat emanating from one or both cat ears is a cause for concern, don’t panic. Look to the whole cat before you call the vet. Discoloration in and around the ear canal can alert you to serious issues, along with marked shifts in behavior and unusual odors.

 

Is Your Cat’s Diarrhea a Cause for Concern?

By Dr. Karen Becker

 

Generally speaking, when it comes to digestive upsets in pets, dogs tend to have lower gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and diarrhea, while cats are more prone to upper GI tract issues and vomiting. However, as anyone who has ever scooped unformed poop from a litterbox can attest — kitties can and do develop diarrhea sometimes.

Types of Diarrhea in Cats

When veterinarians set out to diagnose a feline patient with diarrhea, they generally put the problem into one of two categories based on where in the intestinal tract the loose stool is originating — either the small bowel or the large bowel.

If the problem is with the small bowel, the diarrhea is often large in volume, watery, and occurs with increased frequency. When a kitty’s diarrhea originates in the large bowel, it will more typically be small in volume, semi-formed, and may contain mucus. There’s often also increased frequency and straining to go.

Some feline diseases with diarrhea as a symptom involve both the small and large bowel, and in addition, a cat can start out with small bowel diarrhea that subsequently causes secondary irritation of the large bowel.

Blood in the stool can be a feature of both types of diarrhea. Dark, tarry stools indicate the presence of digested blood from the stomach or small intestine. Fresh streaks of blood in or on the stool are usually a sign of a large bowel problem. Vomiting along with diarrhea is more often seen in diseases of the small bowel but can also occur with a large bowel problem.

Causes of Diarrhea

The causes of loose stools in cats are numerous and varied, and include:

Dietary indiscretion; ingestion of foreign bodies Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) Pancreatitis
Sudden change in diet Giardia and other parasites Immune-mediated disease
Food allergies Viral and bacterial infections Megacolon
Stress colitis Hyperthyroidism Cancer

If your cat has a one-and-done bout of loose stools that resolves within a day or two, chances are she ate something that disagreed with her (or you gave her milk, which is a common culprit in feline digestive issues) and there’s nothing to worry about.

However, since there are many serious feline diseases that have diarrhea as a symptom, if your kitty is experiencing chronic or recurrent diarrhea, it’s time to make an appointment with your veterinarian.

Dehydration is an immediate and potentially life-threatening concern, especially for kittens, petite adult cats, and kitties who are seniors or geriatric, or have a chronic illness. Also, if the diarrhea is accompanied by other signs of illness such as blood in the stool, vomiting, loss of appetite, and/or fever, it’s definitely a sign your pet is ill, and you should seek veterinary care.

I recommend you collect a quarter-size bit of poop on, for example, a stiff piece of cardboard, and slip it into a plastic baggie. Otherwise, your veterinarian may have to manually extract a sample, which will make your already uncomfortable kitty that much more so.

Your vet will probably do bloodwork in addition to evaluating the stool to determine if there’s infection present. He or she should also treat your pet for dehydration if necessary, with IV (intravenous) or SQ (subcutaneous) fluids.

Two fecal tests should be performed. One checks for parasite antigens and/or eggs, and the other checks for bacterial or viral agents that cause diarrhea.

A Too-Fast Dietary Change Is Often the Culprit

In otherwise healthy cats, often it’s a sudden change in diet that triggers a bout of diarrhea, and this is especially true for kitties who eat the same food every day. If you feed your cat the same diet every day for months or years and then suddenly switch to a new food, a case of diarrhea is almost guaranteed.

There’s nothing wrong with the new food, it’s just that kitty’s gut is conditioned to expect only one type of food, which is not ideal, nutritionally or physiologically. Cats fed a varied diet have stronger, more resilient GI tracts and can typically eat different foods regularly without a problem.

After your pet’s stools have returned to normal (I’ll discuss treating diarrhea at home shortly), I recommend you begin varying his diet to include a range of foods with different nutrient contents. This will promote a diversified gut microbiome and make his digestive system strong and resilient.

However, you need to make the transition very slowly, as in, over a period of weeks to months. I recommend starting with 10% new food blended with 90% old food for several days. Watch your cat’s stool and if all seems well, move to 20% new/80% old. Keep watching for stool changes and if none occur, move to 30% new food and 70% old, and so on, until you’re feeding only the new diet.

The process should be slow enough that no bowel changes occur. During the transition period, it’s very important to insure your kitty is eating every day, as cats can’t go without food for long or they risk developing fatty liver disease.

For tips on how to make the transition (especially if kitty is giving you a hard time about the new food), take a look at my videos titled Getting Your Cat to Eat Healthier Food, part 1 and part 2.

Treating Diarrhea at Home

If your cat is otherwise healthy and his behavior is normal, my recommendation is to withhold food — not water, just food — for 12 hours. A short-term fast gives the GI tract a chance for some R&R. Tissues can only heal when they’re resting.

Follow the 12-hour food fast with a bland diet. I recommend cooked, fat-free ground turkey and 100% canned pumpkin. Try starting with an 85-90% turkey/10-15% pumpkin blend. If canned pumpkin isn’t available, you can use fresh, steamed pumpkin or cooked sweet potato. This diet can also be pureed and syringe-fed to kitties that may not feel like eating.

Skip the outdated advice to feed ground beef and rice and go with my recommendation instead. Even lean ground beef is high in fat, which can exacerbate kitty’s tummy troubles, and rice is a starchy, pro-inflammatory carbohydrate that often provides zero nutrition or calories for animals with digestive issues.

Canned 100% pumpkin provides about 80 calories and 7 grams of soluble fiber per cup, compared to 1.2 grams of fiber in a cup of cooked white rice. The soluble fiber in pumpkin coats and soothes the GI tract, and also delays gastric emptying.

When animals have diarrhea, they can lose important electrolytes, including potassium, which puts them at risk of dehydration. Hypokalemia, or low potassium levels, can result in cramping, fatigue, weakness and heart rate irregularities.

Pumpkin happens to be an excellent source of potassium, with 505 milligrams of naturally occurring potassium per cup. Pumpkin is also safer for diabetic pets than rice. And most animals love it, including cats. Feed the bland diet to your pet until the diarrhea resolves. If it doesn’t clear up in about three days, it’s time to call your veterinarian. If at any point your cat becomes lethargic or anorexic, seek medical care immediately.

I also recommend keeping some slippery elm on hand. Slippery elm is a neutral fiber source that works really well to ease episodes of diarrhea. I call it “nature’s Pepto-Bismol” because it reduces GI inflammation and acts as a non-irritating source of fiber to bulk up the stool and slow down GI transit time.

Give your cat about a half a teaspoon or a capsule for each 10 pounds of body weight with every bland meal. I also recommend adding in a good-quality probiotic once the stool starts to firm up.

In addition to slippery elm and probiotics, many pet owners have good luck with herbs such as peppermint, fennel or chamomile. These are especially helpful for the cramping and other uncomfortable GI symptoms that come with diarrhea. Activated charcoal can also help firm the stool if dietary indiscretion is suspected.

There are also several homeopathic remedies that can be very beneficial for intermittent diarrhea depending on your pet’s specific symptoms, including nux vomica, veratrum, podophyllum, arsenicum album and china.

 

 

A First-Timer’s Guide to Caring for a Cat

A First-Timer’s Guide to Caring for a Cat

By Cindy Aldridge

 

As it was once so succinctly put, “Everybody wants to be a cat, because a cat’s the only cat who knows where it’s at.” Although being a cat may be out of our reach, having one might just be the next best thing. If you’re preparing for your first cat, you’re in for an exciting journey. Cats are curious creatures, and they’ll spark plenty of joy and laughter for years to come. Here are some tips for getting your first cat and making it feel at home.

 

Choosing a Cat

 

Your first step is figuring out what kind of cat you want to adopt. A first-time cat owner might be tempted to pick up a kitten, but that’s probably not the best call. Kittens are cute, but they’re also very high energy and tons of work. Moreover, it’s pretty impossible to tell what a kitten’s adult personality will be like, so a young cat is more of a gamble.

 

An adult cat, however, is more mature and settled. When you meet them, you can get a good sense of how cuddly or distant they’ll be, what kind of play they’ll like, and generally what you can expect from them. This will help you find a cat that suits your lifestyle. Cat personalities run the gamut from high-energy hunters to lazy lumps, from lap cats to the look-don’t-touch variety. Spend some time with different cats in the shelter to get a sense for who you click with best.

 

Gearing Up

 

You’ll need some supplies to help your cat feel at home. In addition to the basics — food, bowls, litter box, etc. — you’ll want to get some extras for your new pal. Cats love to go into small, cozy spaces, especially when they’re in an unfamiliar environment. A cat bed, from fancy self-warming models to the old-fashioned types, will give them a safe space to chill out while they adjust, and to nap once they’ve settled in.

 

Another great gift you can give your cat is a cat tree. These are tall structures with lots of levels of seating, usually made of a nice, scratch-safe material. Think of these as kitty jungle gyms. They’ll give your cat the chance to climb, jump, scratch, and lounge.

 

Finally, get plenty of different toys to ensure you’re satisfying your cat’s hunting instincts. Even the laziest cat will need playtime. Not only does this keep them physically healthy, it also helps reduce feline anxiety and aggression. Without playtime to work out energy and instincts, cats can be prone to biting, poor litter box etiquette, and other destructive behaviors.

 

Your New Roommate

 

It’s important to have the right expectations when you bring your new pet home. Cats have instincts of both predator and prey creatures, and they tend to be skittish in new environments. Many people barely see their cats for the first few days or even weeks after they’ve brought them home. This is okay! Your kitty needs time to adjust and feel safe around you.

 

The best thing you can do during this period is to give your cat distance and let them come to you. It may take some time, but being patient will pay off. By following your cat’s cues and allowing them to define the relationship, you send off signals that say “I’m safe!” Earning your cat’s trust will allow a positive relationship to blossom. Before you know it, you’ll be getting plenty of head boops and slow blinks — sure signs that your cat is in love.

 

Cats are great pets. When you get your first one, it may take you a little while to understand their style of communication and learn their personality. Once you do, however, you’ll see why so many people are obsessed with these wonderful creatures.

 

5 Questions to Ask Before Saying ‘Yes’ to Expensive Surgery

5 Questions to Ask Before Saying ‘Yes’ to Expensive Surgery

By Dr. Karen Becker and comments by Diane Weinmann

Some of the most difficult decisions we make as pet parents involve the treatment and ongoing care of an animal companion who is seriously ill or incapacitated.

Veterinary medicine is evolving in terms of new treatments, but just because a treatment is available doesn’t mean it’s appropriate in every situation. In fact, sometimes, refusing treatment is actually the best decision a person can make for their pet’s quality of life.

Asking the Right Questions

Receiving the news that a dog or cat is seriously ill or injured is extremely upsetting for most pet parents, but it’s important to keep your wits about you so that you can formulate the right questions to ask your veterinarian.

At a minimum, you need to know what’s wrong with your pet, the extent of the illness or injury, what treatment options are available and associated costs, and the best-case and worst-case scenarios for each type of treatment.

Armed with this information, I recommend you take a day or two to think things over and write down any additional questions or concerns that arise. This is also a good time to consider a second opinion, perhaps with a specialist such as a veterinary cardiologist, oncologist, or surgeon, depending on what’s wrong with your pet. Questions to ask yourself as you contemplate your pet’s treatment options:

  • What is in the overall best interests of my pet? This is a gut check to ensure it’s your pet’s interests and not your own that remain your primary focus.
  • How difficult will treatment be for my pet? If, for example, your cat is stressed out by car rides and veterinary visits, a course of treatment that requires lots of both will add to her discomfort and anxiety.
  • Will the recommended tests and treatments change my pet’s outcome? Unfortunately, sometimes “doing everything possible” in terms of diagnostic tests and treatments delivers no benefit whatsoever beyond helping pet parents feel they “did everything possible.”
  • Will the treatment offer my pet an improved quality of life? This is arguably the most important consideration.
  • What can I realistically afford in terms of financial and time commitments?

Planning Ahead

Preparation is priceless. I recommend establishing treatment boundaries before you find yourself in a situation in which your emotions are running high and you’re more apt to make decisions you may later regret. Some of the situations below are extremely difficult to contemplate, but whenever possible, it’s best to do so with a clear head. Things to consider:

  1. How will I pay for my pet’s treatment? You can find information on pet health insurance, other options to pay for pet care, and preventive care tips in my article One of the Most Neglected Aspects of Pet Ownership.
  2. How far will I go with treatment for my pet? Generally speaking, it makes little sense to put an elderly pet through a course of treatment (e.g., an amputation, back surgery, or removal of a major organ) that probably won’t improve and may even detract from his quality of life.
  3. How many invasive procedures will I allow my pet to undergo? Set an “invasiveness tolerance level” for your animal based on your own feelings and beliefs — your wise inner voice. For example, an ultrasound is a three-dimensional image taken with an external device that is entirely non-invasive but could be stressful for your pet.

Exploratory surgery, on the other hand, is the definition of invasive. Your pet will be put under general anesthesia, opened up, and her internal organs explored. If you’re unwilling to put your pet under the knife but you’re okay with an ultrasound, write it down so you know in advance how you feel about invasive procedures.

  1. How far will I let my pet be pushed? This involves assessing your pet’s individual stress tolerance level. If you must pack your elderly housecat off to an emergency clinic with dozens of barking dogs, bright lights, odd smells and strange people, it can be overwhelmingly stressful for her.

In such a case, you may decide not to put her through certain procedures — even if they’re warranted and you’d prefer they be done — because you know she’ll very likely have an emotional meltdown simply from the stress of the situation. Identify your pet’s stress threshold and make a decision ahead of time not to go beyond it.

  1. How do I feel about resuscitation and other end-stage issues? If your beloved pet slips into a coma at an emergency animal hospital, do you want the staff to perform CPR, or are you prepared let him go? If you want your pet saved at all costs, will you be able to manage a critically ill animal, perhaps on life support?
  2. How do I feel about euthanasia? Sort out your thoughts and feelings about euthanasia. Think about whether you agree in principle with it. If you must euthanize your pet, would you want it done at home? Which family members would be involved? How about your children, if you have any, and other pets?
  3. How do you want your pet’s remains handled upon death? Do you want to take her home for burial? Would you like her cremated and the ashes returned to you? Or would you prefer to leave the remains at the clinic for disposal? Try to give the situation some thought before the time arrives. Only you know what’s best for your pet, and for you and your family.

Taking Care of Yourself While You Care for Your Pet

Sharing your life with a pet brings immeasurable amounts of joy and unconditional love, but when your pet becomes ill, caring for him can take a toll on your mental health. Researchers assessed what they called “caregiver burden” in 238 owners of a dog or a cat.

It’s well known that caregivers of human patients facing a chronic or terminal illness experience heightened levels of stress, depression and anxiety, so the researchers set out to determine if the same held true for pet caregivers.

As you might suspect, the answer is yes. Compared to owners of healthy animals, the results showed greater burden, stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as poorer quality of life, in owners of pets with chronic or terminal disease.1 In turn, the feeling of higher burden was linked to reduced psychosocial functioning.

It’s important to remember that you can’t care for your pet unless you care for yourself first. Practice positive self-care, from eating right to getting enough sleep, and reach out for support when you need it.

For many, the emotional toll is the hardest part of caring for a sick pet, which is why expressing your thoughts and feelings is crucial.

You needn’t keep your emotions bottled up; what you’re feeling — perhaps failure, frustration, inadequacy or guilt — is valid and by sharing your thoughts — in a journal, with a friend or in a support group — you can ultimately move past them and let them go. The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) states:2

“We encourage you to reach out to like-minded individuals in your community and online who have experienced similar situations, and ‘get it.’ Look to your local animal shelters, veterinary association, and pet funeral homes for pet loss support groups. Human hospice programs in your community offer grief and bereavement services to the public (interview them for their views on pet hospice first).”

In addition, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with decisions and information regarding your pet’s illness, ask for explanations from your veterinarian, and realize that you don’t have to shoulder the burden alone. If you need a moment to regroup, ask a close friend or family member to care for your pet so you can focus on stress relief.

“[T]he ability to think clearly will directly affect how effective you can be in your care for your animal companion,” IAAHPC notes. “Respite, or some time away from caregiving, can be important to your continued well-being.”

Despite the stress and, oftentimes, uncertainty, there can be great solace in being there for your pet when he needs you most. Sometimes, if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed the best thing you can do is to simply sit and be with your pet in the present moment.

As an alternative, consulting with an animal communicator, like Diane Weinmann, to obtain the wishes of your pet, along with signs that they will display if they are ready to transition into spirit and if they want assistance with that journey can also take the uncertainty of the situation away.

Take some deep breaths, practice mindfulness or meditation, and your calmness will likely be felt by your pet as well.

 

Why Cats Aren’t Wired to Live Together

By Dr. Karen Becker DVM comments by Diane Weinmann

 

Many pet owners make the mistake of assuming cats are just small dogs, when in reality, the two species don’t have much in common outside their roles as family pets. More than a few cat guardians have learned the hard way that it’s almost never as easy to add a second feline to the family as it is to welcome another dog.

In fact, it’s actually more likely than not that two unfamiliar adult cats, suddenly expected to coexist under the same roof, will not get along — at least initially.

Solitary Versus Social

According to U.K. veterinarian Dr. Sarah Heath, a certified clinical animal behaviorist, in an article for veterinary journal dvm360:

“Introducing cats to each other abruptly can be very stressful if they are not socially compatible. While physical confrontation may not be seen, passive signs of social tension, such as social and physical withdrawal, are likely to occur.

This may result in owners considering that there has been no problem with the introduction since there is no fur flying or blood being shed.

However cats that are expected to live close to cats with whom they are not socially compatible can suffer from chronic stress, and this can have physical health implications as well as behavioral ones.”1

Unlike dogs, cats aren’t naturally social beings. Heath calls them “solitary survivors.” Even domesticated kitties aren’t wired to seek out interactions with other animals (including humans), especially strangers. If they do choose to socialize, it’s usually with close relatives (e.g., siblings), cats they’ve grown up with, or their preferred humans.

When two unfamiliar cats are placed together in the same household, they usually don’t come with the skills necessary to cohabitate peacefully. The problem is exacerbated because often they are forced to live in close physical proximity to each other and must share food bowls, litterboxes, bedding, cat perches, etc.

Felines in the wild can easily avoid cats they don’t like. But inside your house, your kitties have limited options for steering clear of each other. This can set the stage for feline friction, which often takes the form of one cat stalking, chasing and showing aggression toward another cat.

Cats Don’t Require the Company of Other Cats

Since cats don’t need other cats around to be happy, if you already have a feline companion, don’t assume another cat will become your current cat’s BFF. It’s very likely cat #1 will not automatically welcome cat #2 simply because they’re the same species.

In fact, cat #1 will not initially view the new kitty as part of his social group. He may at some point … or he may not. As Heath explains:

“Anyone taking on a new cat should realize that the newcomer will be a single cat within the already existing household, like another tenant moving into a house of multiple occupancy.

The cats may tolerate each other’s presence if they are introduced gradually and their need for separate core territories is respected, but wanting the resident cat to have a friend is not a valid reason for taking on a second cat.”2

Even cats who have been friendly for years, including siblings, can lose their relationship.

“Natural feline social behavior leaves little capacity for reconciliation,” says Heath, “and the fragility of feline social relationships can be distressing for owners.”3

Seemingly minor bumps in the road from a human’s perspective can permanently damage the bond between cats. For example, a cat who has been hospitalized returns home smelling not like herself, but like the veterinary clinic she just left. In response, her feline housemate no longer views his long-time friend as part of his social group.

Setting the Scene for Success

The ideal way to create a harmonious multi-cat household is to bring home kitten siblings or unrelated young kittens who can establish a bond in their first few months of life. Getting cats are under the same roof at a young age is key, because by the time they reach social maturity at 2 to 3 years of age, they are naturally less open to interacting with new cats.

No matter the circumstances of who comes home when, it’s important to take steps to ensure a new kitty doesn’t present a perceived threat to the existing cat’s territory.

• Heath and other feline behavior experts recommend that cats who are cohabitating for the first time not be allowed to see each other for a few days or even a few weeks, to help cat #1 get used to the new cat’s scent in what he considers his territory before they actually meet.

• Forcing an introduction is an absolute no-no, as is offering food or treats as an enticement to get the cats physically closer to each other. Remember, kitties prefer to dine alone. To your cats, eating with another cat in close proximity is stressful.

• Provide the new kitty with her own food and water bowls separate from the existing cat’s. The new arrival should also have her own litterbox away from the existing one, and her own napping spot. Often the easiest way to do this is to set up a spare bedroom or bathroom for the new kitty with all the essentials.

• Consider using natural products like those from Bach Flower Remedies or Holistic Solutions to help your cats manage stressful feelings and events in their lives. Also talk to your integrative veterinarian about homeopathic remedies that fit each cat’s personality and symptom pattern to help reduce emotional responses. Diane has a “get along” bach flower remedy treatment that really works with most situations where pet cannot get along with each other!  Contact her at dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com to learn more.

Also consider using Feliway, a pheromone product, to reduce stress levels and ease tensions between your cats. This product has been of huge benefit in assisting my two cats (who grew up together but don’t get along), in terms of reducing inter-cat aggression.

Keep in mind your goal in introducing the cats is to simply help them learn to live peacefully together. If they wind up friends, that’s wonderful, but if it happens it will be on their terms.

Additionally an animal communicator can sometimes explain the situation to each pet and provide expectations for getting along in harmony with each family member be it human or animal.  Sometimes all the pets need is a good talking to …explaining the reasoning for an additional pet and how they can coexist together for the good of the entire family.  If you have this situation and want an animal communicator to step in so to speak and discuss the reasoning with your pets email dianefortheloveofanimals@yahoo.com for information on her communication policy and fees.

Environmental Enrichment To-Do List

There are a number of things you can do to prevent and relieve stress for the feline members of your family:

• Make sure each cat has an individual, out-of-the-way resting spot. It could be the top of a cat tree, or a crate (with the door left open), or a little comfy spot on a closet shelf. If you notice one of your cats likes to hide or nap in a certain spot, consider adding a soft cat bed or blanket. It’s extremely important that each of your kitties has at least one private area he can retreat to.

• Offer plenty of scratching surface — one for each cat at a minimum. Cats scratch not only to sharpen their claws, but also to stretch, and to mark territory. There should be both vertical and horizontal surfaces, since cats often prefer one or the other. Also consider experimenting with different textured surfaces that offer a bit of variety.

• Provide lots an ample supply of toys that appeal to your cats’ prey instinct, including indoor hunting feeders, and also offer interactive toys that you can play with, with your cat. Also consider building or investing in a catio, which is an outdoor enclosure that allows kitties to get all the benefits of being outdoors, while keeping them safe from harm.

• Consider providing multiple perches at eye level or higher. Many cats are drawn to high roosts because they feel safe from predators and can keep an eye on activities and intruders at ground level.

You can provide access to high spaces in your home such as high closet shelves or plant ledges. Alternatively, you can buy traditional cat furniture like cat trees, or you can get creative and design your own custom kitty perches. Try to put at least a perch or two near windows so your cats can bird watch and keep an eye on neighborhood activities.

• Offer a multitude of litterboxes (one per cat, plus a spare, at a minimum), several water bowls and a food dish for each cat (that can be placed in different rooms so the cats can eat alone).

Finally, offer your kitties a fresh, nutritionally optimal, species-specific diet, and make sure they get adequate exercise. Many housecats today don’t get the physical activity they need to be optimally healthy. Under-exercised, under-stimulated cats can accumulate pent-up energy that takes the form of hostility toward other felines in the household.

 

 

DO CATS LOSE THEIR TEETH??

DO CATS LOSE THEIR TEETH??

By: Laci Schaible, DVM, CVJ as seen in PetMD

 

Should you worry if your cat loses a tooth? Is it normal?

 

It depends on whether you’re talking about a kitten or an adult cat. Here’s a closer look at kitten and cat teeth so you’ll know when tooth loss is normal and when you need to visit the vet.

 

Do Kittens Lose Their Baby Teeth?

 

Like humans and all other domestic animals, cats do go through two sets of teeth throughout their lives—kitten teeth and adult cat teeth.

 

Kitten Teeth

 

At only a few weeks of age, kittens will begin to get their baby teeth, which are also called “milk teeth” or deciduous teeth.

 

The incisors—the small front teeth—are the first to erupt at 2-4 weeks of age. The premolars—larger teeth towards the back of the mouth—are the last to appear at 5-6 weeks of age, for a total of 26 baby teeth.

 

Kitten Teeth
Type of Tooth # Upper Teeth # Lower Teeth Age of Eruption

(weeks)

Function
Incisors 6 6 3-4 Grasping
Canines 2 2 3-4 Tearing
Premolars 6 4 5-6 Grinding
Molars 0 0 —- Grinding

 

Adult Cat Teeth

 

Around 4-7 months of age, permanent (adult) teeth will start replacing the baby teeth.

 

You may never even see the teeth as your kitten loses them, as they are often lost during mealtime or through play.

 

Long before their first birthday, your growing kitten should have 30 permanent teeth. Barring injury or oral disease, these should keep your kitty chewing into old age.

 

Adult Cat Teeth
Type of Tooth # Upper Teeth # Lower Teeth Age of Eruption

(months)

Function
Incisors 6 6 3.5-4.5 Grasping
Canines 2 2 5 Tearing
Premolars 6 4 4.5-6 Grinding
Molars 2 2 4-5 Grinding

 

What If Kittens Don’t Lose Their Baby Teeth?

 

The most commonly encountered tooth problem in kittens is the retention of baby teeth.

 

If the baby teeth are not lost when the corresponding permanent teeth are coming in, it can result in abnormal tooth position and bite, tartar and plaque buildup, and even abscesses.

 

But there are typically no complications if retained baby teeth are removed promptly by a veterinarian.

 

Is It Normal for Adult Cats to Lose Teeth?

 

It’s not normal for adult cats to lose any teeth.

 

In adult cats, dental disease can start to escalate, and tooth loss can occur in cats suffering from severe dental issues.

 

Dental Disease and Tooth Loss in Adult Cats

 

While cats do not develop cavities like humans do, this does not make them exempt from dental disease and tooth loss.

 

In fact, dental disease is such a common feline ailment that approximately two-thirds of cats over 3 years of age have some degree of dental disease. Of course, not all tooth loss is caused by dental disease, and not all dental disease results in tooth loss.

 

As with humans, cats accumulate bacterial plaque on the surface of their teeth. If the plaque is not removed quickly, it becomes mineralized to form tartar and calculus.

 

If dental disease is caught at an early stage, a thorough dental scaling and polishing may be able to save most of your cat’s teeth.

 

However, if gingivitis is allowed to persist untreated, then irreversible damage to the bone and ligaments that support the tooth will lead to excessive tooth mobility and eventual tooth loss.

 

If you notice that your adult cat is missing a tooth, or you find a cat tooth around your house, please seek veterinary care, as this is a major sign of painful dental disease.

 

 

By: Laci Schaible, DVM, CVJ