Motion Sickness in CatsMay 31, 2017
Motion sickness in cats is a common problem. Unlike many dogs that can be “trained” to comfortably ride in cars, cats prove much more challenging to overcome their anxiety.
Most motion sickness cases in cats are caused primarily by the stress and anxiety associated with travel. Cats that travel only once or twice a year (typically when visiting the veterinarian) aren’t used to car rides and often associate the car ride with the stressful experience that follows. This reaction can result in motion sickness.
How can I tell if my cat is getting motion sickness?
Signs your cat may be experiencing motion sickness include:
• Excessive vocalization (loud meowing or howling)
• Pacing and restlessness
• Excessive drooling
• Lethargy or inactivity
How can I prevent motion sickness in my cat?
Desensitizing or counter-conditioning cats to car travel may take some work, but it can be accomplished. Helping your cat overcome the stress and anxiety of travel will mean that your cat can accompany you on trips more frequently and will allow you to spend more time together.The first step in reducing your cat’s stress and anxiety associated with car travel is to make it more comfortable in its carrier. Start by teaching your cat that the carrier is a “safe place” in your home. This can be done by offering food and treats in the carrier. You can also place the carrier in your cat’s favorite sleeping area with its preferred bedding. Placing the carrier on the cat’s favorite chair or even bed can help your cat become more comfortable with going in and around the carrier. Using Feliway (a feline facial hormone) inside the carrier before travel or training can also reduce stress.
Offering special toys that your cat only associates with the carrier is another great way to make your pet more comfortable when traveling. The distraction of an interesting toy combined with feline facial hormone can help many cats during travel.
The best method for easing your cat’s travel anxiety is by taking several short trips before embarking on a long haul. Once your cat is comfortable inside the carrier in your home, it’s time to take it to the car. Start by simply placing your cat in its carrier inside your car, starting the motor, and sitting there without moving for a few minutes. The next day, repeat this process, but back out of your driveway and then return. Be sure to praise your cat and offer a food reward inside the carrier for good behavior once you’re back inside your home. Next, try a trip around the block. Gradually work your way up to riding comfortably for 20 to 30 minutes.
Conditioning your cat to ride comfortably in the car may require several days or even weeks. Be sure to gradually expose your nervous pet to more and more challenging stimuli. You can’t force your cat to “get over” or “deal with” its anxiety. Travelling in a confined space in a motor vehicle can be frightening for a cat and requires time to adjust. Make sure you maintain a calm and cool attitude, and don’t scold your cat if it begins to howl or whine. Visible anxiety is a sign to stop the current training and start again another day. Continuing to expose your cat to a stressful situation will only cause it to further associate the car with displeasure and fear and cause setbacks in your training. Car rides in a carrier can also be good practice for travelling in an aircraft or train.
Here are additional tips to make your cat’s travel more enjoyable and reduce motion sickness:
• Withhold food 12 hours before travel – An empty stomach will help reduce nausea and the need for frequent potty breaks that are often unwelcome, especially during long car rides or airplane or train travel. Be sure to provide access to fresh water whenever possible. Water bottles that hang on the carrier’s door are a good option for many pets. If your travel time is over 6 or 8 hours, have litter available for your cat.
• Use a carrier – Anxious cats can both hurt themselves and cause accidents. A carrier is often viewed as a “safe place” for many cats.
• Keep the car cool and quiet – Play soft classical music, and keep the temperature cool.
• Include the sweet smell of home – Add a t-shirt or blanket with your scent to your cat’s carrier. In addition to smelling like home, nothing’s cozier than mom or dad’s shirt.
• Special toys – Offering cool toys your cat only gets to play with when it travels can help your cat associate travel with fun.
If your cat seems to need a little more help to stay calm during travel, talk to your veterinarian about using one of the following remedies:
• Feliway – These pheromones can calm a tense traveler. Add this to your cat’s carrier and bedding before a trip or training to help calm its fears.
• Calming herbs – Natural remedies, including Bach flower (Rescue Remedy), kava, valerian, passionflower, ginger, and skullcap, have been used for decades to ease anxiety and motion sickness.
• Anti-nausea medication – Anti-nausea medication can prevent vomiting in a stressed pet. Keep in mind that these drugs only helps with motion sickness, not anxiety. Talk to your cat’s veterinarian about what is appropriate for your cat’s specific needs.
• Anti-anxiety medication – For use in extremely stressed pets only. Prescription medications given the night before travel and repeated 12 hours later can relax even the most anxious pet traveler. Many veterinarians will recommend you give a second dose about 2 hours before you embark on your trip. Keep in mind that some prescription medications need to be started several days to a couple of weeks before travel to be most effective. Always follow instructions from your veterinarian carefully.
Do Cats Like to Be Alone?May 30, 2017
Do Cats Like to Be Alone?
Chances are your cat likes to stay to him or herself most of the time, so you might think they don’t even notice your absence each day after you head to work. Actually, you’d be surprised at how much they do notice.
If you’re a cat person, it might appear pretty easy to set things up for your cat while you’re away, and in general, for a lot of cats, it is pretty easy. However, there are special considerations to keep in mind if you leave your cat every day to go to work or school, or plan to head out of town for a few days. Sure, your cat is pretty self-sufficient in most ways, but that litter box won’t clean itself.
Here are some things you need to know before you leave your cat alone, whether for a day or a week.
Remember to Scoop the Litter Box
No matter how long you’ll be gone, cats need a clean litter box. If the litter box has not been cleaned, you won’t like the results.
They will often go just outside the box to let you know that it needs cleaned, or they’ll find some out-of-the-way place in the house to use. Sometimes cats will go outside of their litter box when they’re feeling unwell, too. Before you get frustrated, it’s a good idea to look into all of the possibilities, especially if your feline’s usually good about using the litter box. Unless the cause your cat’s “accidents” is obvious, make an appointment for a health evaluation.
Cats Need Stimulation Even While You’re Gone
People think cats can be left alone because they sleep so much and tend to be independent, but they need interaction and enrichment, too. This will help your cat to alleviate any boredom issues, and the behavior problems that can develop as a result.
Create a little fun for the cat before you go off to work. There are so many simple ways to create activity and entertainment for a home-alone kitty. Puzzle feeders, a cat tree, cat perch, empty cardboard boxes, open paper bags (handles removed), interesting and safe toys, and even a cozy bed near a sunny window can make a difference to a cat who spends the day alone.
If a pet sitter will be caring for you furry friend while you are away, be sure to leave out all your kitties favorite toys so the caregiver can provide the mental stimulation they may be lacking and keep them from getting too bored. This will also allow your cat to “forget” that you are gone for a little while.
Cats Get Lonely, Too
You enjoy spending time with your cat, whether you’re playing or just cuddling up on the couch. But sometimes you have no choice but to leave your cat alone—especially if you work outside of your home. Even if your cat is used to you leaving daily, they can get lonely and you should know the signs that there might be a problem.
Because cats appear very stoic, it can be easy to miss signs indicating that all is not happy in kitty’s world. Changes in behavior, appetite, litter box habits, or grooming could be signs that a cat is having trouble with too much time spent alone.
Try to Ease Your Cat’s Anxiety
If you discover that your cat doesn’t do well when you leave even for short periods, there are things that can help their anxiety. The veterinarians at The Cat Doctor suggest using a pheromone plug-in, such as Feliway for cats, which uses artificial pheromones to help your cat to stay calm. Consider having some background noise, such as a TV or classical music, might help with anxiety, too.
Cats (Probably) Notice That You’re Gone
Even if your cat isn’t the most loving creature, rest assured that he or she will eventually realize you’re not home. You are the source of their food, after all.
My own seven cats’ reactions to me going on vacation range from glad to see me again to, ‘Oh, were you gone? I hadn’t noticed!’ to ‘Who are you and where have you been?’.
Your Cat Might Need a Friend
Sometimes lonely cats just need a friend—a feline friend, that is. If you leave your cat alone every day, consider whether you have the time and energy to give to your cat. If the answer is in the negatives and your cat clearly needs more interaction, another cat can fill that need.
Many cats who spend time alone may actually benefit from having a feline companion. But never get another cat solely for the benefit of your current one. You must be fully committed to your new pet and to working through any issues that might develop between your pets. Not to mention, you must be sure you can financially manage a multi-cat household.
Cats Crave Routine
A pet sitter or friend should always be called if you’re going to leave your pet for a long period of time. Cats should never be left for more than 24 hours without having someone check on their well-being. In addition to helping with unexpected illness or injury, the caregiver will help keep your cat on a routine, which is important because “cats are creatures of habit”.
It will be less stressful for your cat if a normal routine is maintained in terms of having the litter box scooped regularly, food served at the normal times, and some degree of normal activity in the home. The sitter should check the food and water bowls and refill accordingly. The sitter should also administer any medications, scoop out the litter box, and spend a good 15 to 30 minutes either interacting with the cat or simply being present in the home.
Keep Feeding Routines Regular
You’d never leave your cat without food and water, of course, but when they get that food is very important. Because cats like routine, any friend or pet sitter should visit your cat at least as often as the times you give your cat meals. If the cat is normally fed on a schedule, you would want to keep as close to that schedule as possible to reduce stress.
Try to be mindful that your cat is a feeling and emotional creature that needs stimulation and has emotional needs, just like us humans. Always try to view the world through the eyes of your special feline companion. By doing this, it just may change your perspective of the world your cat lives in.
Five Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Pet Insurance…
1. Don’t put it off! The number one reason people site for not purchasing a pet insurance policy is that “didn’t get around to it.” Oftentimes, pet parents will wait until their pet is already injured or ailing before looking into pet insurance. The truth is, the best time to protect your pet is now. For young, healthy pets, insuring them before any problems arise ensures that any accidents, illnesses and injuries will be covered, with no concern about pre-existing conditions (not to mention, young pets are statistically 2.5 times more likely to have an unexpected visit to the vet, according to claims data from Petplan pet insurance).
2. Lowest premium doesn’t mean best value. While some plans may have a lower monthly premium than others, make sure that the coverage it affords you is as extensive as your pet may need. Will it cover chronic conditions for the life of your pet, or only for the first year? Will it cover any diagnostics or treatments your vet recommends, like MRIs, chemotherapy or hip replacement surgery? You might be paying less each month, but you could also be left high and dry when faced with a big bill.
3. Beware of policies that don’t offer full coverage as standard. Some companies may claim to cover things like hereditary conditions or cancer, but when you read the fine print, you find that they are not included in your standard plan. In many cases, you’ll need to purchase additional coverage, often after a certain waiting period. When comparing pet insurance providers, make sure that your monthly premium includes full coverage for hereditary conditions as standard – otherwise, you could be lacking in coverage you may need later.
4. Read your Terms and Conditions. The Terms and Conditions are your user’s guide to your pet insurance policy. They clearly lay out what is and is not covered by your policy, explain any waiting periods, and define certain terms such as “pre-existing condition.” Some pet insurers, like Petplan Pet Insurance, offer complimentary underwriting during the first 30 days of the policy, helping customers know exactly what will and will not be covered under the policy at the point of claim.
5. Our wellness plan is not insurance. While we offer a wellness plan to help with the costs for regular, known veterinary expenses like checkup visits, vaccines and monthly preventatives, it doesn’t cover unexpected vet visit for things such as chronic and acute conditions that can quickly add up to thousands of dollars in vet bills. Pet insurance is an excellent complement to our wellness plan to pick up coverage for new illnesses, accidents and injuries. We strongly suggest you look into pet insurance so that your pet is covered from nose to toes—in sickness and in health!
Did you know that The Cat Doctor has been nominated by Petplan Pet Insurance
plan for their 2018 Petplan veterinary awards “Practice of the Year”? Our very own Monique Manns was nominated for “Practice Manager of the Year” as well!
Please follow the link and vote for us today!
Why is Dental Health So Important?May 19, 2017
Dental disease can be very painful for a kitty to endure, but that is not the only reason it is important to address periodontal disease in a timely manner. When your cat’s mouth is inflamed, bacteria from his oral cavity can become systemic, invading other organs such as his heart, liver, and kidneys. Over time, this can cause damage to the major organ systems and the cat’s immune system. Because cats tend to mask illness, oral exams are necessary to determine the health of your cat’s mouth. If your cat has periodontal disease, a dental cleaning and potential extractions will be necessary to restore her oral health.
Although your cat can’t tell you if she has a toothache, there are five signs that can clue you in to the fact that her mouth may be bothering her.
1. Bad breath
It’s not normal for a cat’s breath to smell fishy or rotten. If you need to turn your head away when your cat breathes on you, or if your skin stinks after she licks you, that’s a good sign that your cat is having dental troubles.
2. Eating funny
If your cat seems to chew with only one side of her mouth, or if she’s dropping her food when she eats, that may mean that she’s having oral pain.
3. Decreased interest in food
If your cat approaches the food bowl and acts like she’s hungry, but then seems reluctant to eat, her mouth is probably bothering her.
4. Reluctance to be touched around the mouth
If your cat used to enjoy having the sides of her face petted and no longer does, it may be because her mouth hurts.
5. Excessive drooling
If your cat is salivating more than usual — especially if the saliva contains blood — that’s a sign of dental disease. Cats may also paw at their mouths or shake their heads because of the pain.
If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, lift her lip by her molars, if she’ll let you. If you see yellow-brown gunk on her teeth, that’s tartar buildup. If your cat’s gums are red, that’s gingivitis, or inflammation of the gum tissue.
Severe oral disease can result in bleeding gums, broken teeth, and a host of other painful problems. If you see gingivitis or tartar buildup, or if your cat is showing the signs above but won’t let you touch her mouth, call The Cat Doctor and schedule an appointment.
Feline periodontal disease occurs when plaque accumulates on tooth enamel, causing inflammation of the gingival tissue. Cats might not exhibit any symptoms, though some will paw at their mouths, refuse food, have bad breath, or stop grooming. If your cat shows any of these signs, contact your veterinarian immediately. A dental cleaning and extraction of any effected teeth will be necessary to restore your kitty’s oral health.
What is are Feline Resportive Lesions?
Resorptive lesions are areas in which the tooth
enamel is eaten away by a type of cells called odondoclasts. The areas where the enamel has eroded fill in with painful red lesions. These lesions can occur on the tooth root or crown, and if left untreated can event
ually destroy the entire tooth. If the lesions occuron the root below the gumline, they can often only be detected on radiographs. We do not know the exact cause of resorptive lesions, but we do know that they are very prevalent, occurring in over 60% of cats over six years of age. Resorptive lesions are extremely painful; cats will react to a dental probe touching them even when under general anesthesia. Extraction is the treatment of choice for resorptive lesions.
What is involved in a dental procedure?
Dental care in cats involves scaling and polishing, as well as extraction of any teeth that are unhealthy. The gold standard for veterinary dental care involves radiographs to determine the health of the teeth below the gumline, though not all facilities have dental radiographs at their disposal. The Cat Doctor knows that radiographs are a vital piece of equipment to have in order to get the full picture of the disease process under the gumline. Because we can’t simply ask a cat to sit still while we use the ultrasonic scaler to clean her teeth, this is all done under general anesthesia. (To see what is involved in a dental procedure here at The Cat Doctor, please visit our Dentistry page!) After the dental cleaning, an at-home regimen will be recommended to prevent future dental issues.
What can I do at home to prevent dental disease?
Brushing your cat’s teeth multiple times each week is the best way to maintain a healthy mouth, but not all cats will tolerate this. We find that very few cat owners (veterinary professionals included!) actually brush their cats’ teeth. Fortunately, there are other ways to keep Fluffy’s mouth healthy. There are a number of foods that have been formulated to promote oral health and are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Despite the long-held theory to the contrary, feeding regular kibble does not seem to have any effect on oral health versus feeding a canned diet. There are also water additives and treats approved by the VOHC if you cannot feed a dental-specific diet. Above all else, it is important to have your cat’s mouth examined regularly to catch any dental disease early.
Keeping your cat’s mouth healthy will keep your cat healthy and allow you to enjoy many happy years together.