When most people think of who needs flea prevention, the family dog is at the top of the list, and often cats are forgotten or assumed to be flea free. Dogs are bathed more regularly than cats and when they scratch it’s much more obvious. Cats are very clean creatures; they groom themselves daily and often don’t show as many outward signs of a flea infestation as dogs.
While fleas are annoying and unsanitary; preventing the diseases they spread is a much more important reason for flea prevention for both the cat and for their families. Fleas feed on blood and breed very quickly and effectively. Young kittens are most at risk for developing anemia simply from being fed on by large numbers of fleas. It is important to address flea infestations early in young cats.
Fleas are the intermediate host for tapeworms and when a cat grooms, it ingests fleas and flea feces resulting in infection. The tapeworms develop into adults in the intestines. Tapeworms can cause no symptoms with very mild infestations to severe malnutrition and death with severe cases. Humans can also become infected with tapeworms through the flea.
Haemotrophic mycoplasma is a bacterial disease transmitted during the feeding process of the flea. It infects the red blood cells in cats and stimulates the cat’s own immune system to destroy those red blood cells. Infection can result in a severe and fatal anemia without treatment. Mycoplasma is most common in areas with lots of cats because the fleas transmit it cat to cat, however. Even cats that don’t socialize are at risk.
There are many flea prevention options available from your veterinarian. The most common are topical preparations applied one time monthly, however, there are other options including injections that last for months and oral medications. Some flea prevention kills adult fleas, others prevent fleas from breeding. It is important to discuss your individual cat’s options based on his or her lifestyle and needs. It is also important not to use homeopathic/ herbal preparations without first discussing them with your veterinarian.
Cats are amazing animals. They have become one of the most popular pets because of their playfulness, independent nature, daily low-maintenance lifestyle, and affectionate personalities. Enjoy these fun facts about your favorite feline.
A group of kittens is called a kindle; a group of cats is called a clowder. A female cat is called a queen, a male cat is a tom. The act of giving birth in a cat is called queening.
Just as a person has a dominant hand, a cat usually uses one front paw more than the other. This has been associated with gender in both people and felines. Most female cats are right pawed, and most males are left pawed. The percentages are different for people, but the trend is the same. Only about 10% of humans are left-handed, but most of them are male.
The eyes of a cat can detect the smallest movements, even in very low light. Cats can see images in as little as one-fifth the amount of light that people and most animals need for seeing.
A cat’s nose contains 200 million scent receptors, making it 40 times more powerful than a human’s.
The cat ‘s weakest sense is taste. People have about 10,000 taste buds on their tongue, but cats have less than 500.
Cats have very acute hearing, with the ability to hear the ultrasonic sounds made by small rodents (at 60 to 65 kilohertz), and they are able to determine the direction of the sound by using the 20 muscles in each ear to pinpoint the location.
A cat’s fur is sensitive to air movement, with the whiskers being the most perceptive to the cat’s environment. A blind cat will move its head side to side in order to use the whiskers as a blind person uses a cane.
The first known cat to be given a name, Bouhaki, appears in Egyptian drawings as early as 1950 B.C.
Cats were held in high esteem in Egypt and were treated with enormous respect. In ancient Egypt, cat owners shaved their eyebrows as a sign of mourning when one of their cats died. The crime of killing a cat was punishable by death.
In the 5th century B.C., as Persian soldiers attacked an Egyptian city, the soldiers carried live cats. The Egyptians chose to surrender rather than risk the lives of the beloved felines.
The Egyptian Mau, a short -haired spotted cat, is one of the oldest cat breeds. The word “Mau” was the ancient Egyptian word for cat, and also meant “to see” or ” to foretell”.
Cats are one of the most popular pets, as evidenced by the many YouTube videos! If you do not have a cat, maybe it’s time to consider adopting one from a local shelter!
Gagne, Tammy. “Amazing Cat Facts and Trivia.” Chartwell Books 2011
There are specific activities that can make a positive difference in your pet’s health. The difference will be enhanced health and wellness when you integrate them into your current pet maintenance program. Feeding, grooming and vaccinations are probably your top-of-mind priorities. Sometimes you can miss little changes in health or care that can have a large impact.
Care delays can be a risk. Waiting and watching for your cat’s symptoms to subside can cause undue distress. Keep a close eye on your furry friends to make sure their health conditions don’t include panting, limping or lameness, refusal to take nourishment or water, loss of weight, sneezing, urination or defecation habits that aren’t normal for your pet, grooming changes, and increased sleep needs. Diarrhea and vomiting are big deals and will result in dehydration that could be fatal without immediate attention.
Preventative care is critical to good health and wellness in family pets. Regular veterinarian visits provide opportunities for pets to receive complete visit care that rules out current disease or impending disaster. Always make sure your cat receives an annual visit. During these visits your vet will look at teeth, tongue and gums, check for parasites, provide guidance and information for exercise, proper feeding and review your pet’s current daily habits. Your vet will also check skin, nails, eyes, ears and coat.
Exercise and other habits may have changed since the last visit. Your pet may need support with aging, pregnancy or pain management. Arthritis or decaying teeth may cause discomfort in your pet. Remember that cats have a survival instinct and camouflage their pain or discomfort better than other animals.
“Some older house cats are pretty inactive and sleep a lot, so owners often just don’t notice problems,” says Adrianne Brode, DVM, CCRP. Brode sees that dogs receive more health care than cats at Houston’s Canine Health Institute.
Lack of permanent identification can put your cat at risk. Let’s face it, who would think that your furry critter sleeping happily in the carpeted sunny spot will be a sudden escapee when the neighbor, niece or nephew comes to put out fresh food and water during your vacation.
The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy advises that less than 2% of cats in animal shelters are returned home. Microchips, tattoos and tags can help identify pets that are accidentally let out or that may escape right before your very eyes. Cats have a higher chance of losing their collars than dogs typically do, and having your vet insert a microchip could be a good idea. Your cat won’t feel any pain, the chip is the size of a small grain and the process is very quick. For maximum effectiveness, you must connect with the chip’s vendor, provide your contact info and maintain an active registration for your pet. If lost, the chip can be recognized by a scanner at many animal shelters and veterinarian offices.
Uncontrolled parasites can bother your cat. Fleas are the most common and well known external parasite. Just one flea eaten by your cat can create internal tapeworms. They are common in cats, as are heartworms. Untreated heartworms can damage heart, lungs and circulatory vessels beyond repair. Other bothersome parasites may include ear mites, ticks, roundworms and hookworms, depending on the area in which you live. “Some intestinal parasites can be transmitted to people,” says Marla J. McGeorge, DVM. Adults with compromised immune systems and children have increased risks.
Cats are living longer and longer. This is due to better medical care and the fact that more cats are living only indoors. These cats commonly live up to 15 to 18 years of age, with a few living into their twenties. The oldest cat on record lived to be 38!
The two most common diseases of the geriatric cat are kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. It is said that if a cat lives long enough, they will get one or both of these problems.
Hyperthyroidism usually occurs in cats older than eight years of age. The older the cat, the more likely the disease. A tumor (97% of the time it is benign) causes too much thyroid hormone to be produced. No one knows why this tumor forms. The tumor itself doesn’t cause a problem, the symptoms are due to the excess of hormones. Common symptoms are weight loss even though the cat is ravenous, chronic vomiting, soft stools, fast heart rate, and some develop a heart murmur.
There are several treatments for hyperthyroidism. A special diet made by Hill’s Prescription Diet, Y /D, has been found to be very successful if your feline will eat it. This diet is extremely low in iodine, and it has to be fed exclusively in order to work. Other treatments are the oral drug methimazole, surgery to remove the mass, or radio-active Iodine. Surgery has fallen out of favor because often both sides of the thyroid gland are affected. Radio-active Iodine has the advantage of being a one-time treatment (at least 97% of the time it is), but it is costly and needs to be done at a specialty clinic where the cat is hospitalized for a few days.
There is an ironic phenomenon where the disease of hyperthyroidism sometimes masks kidney disease. The kidney values may look fine until the veterinarian starts to treat the thyroid disease. If both diseases are present, the Y/D diet is good as it is also low in protein and phosphorus that is needed for renal disease. But if Y/D is not an option, then a veterinarian may try methimazole next. If the kidney values are still OK even when the thyroid disease comes under control, then we know the cat is a candidate for radioactive iodine if that is desired, or the cat can be continued on a full dose of methimazole. If the kidney values start to increase as we get the thyroid under control, then we know we can’t fully treat the hyperthyroidism, we just try to reach a balance between the two.
Kidney disease is also very common. Symptoms are weight loss, vomiting, soft stools, and a poor appetite. Anemia and excess phosphorus in the blood commonly occur as secondary problems. Blood and urine tests will determine how severe the disease is, and what level of treatment is needed. A diet made for renal disease can really lengthen the time before the signs get worse. A more severe case may need hospitalization with intravenous fluids. After the cats are stabilized, some veterinarians teach their clients how to give subcutaneous fluids at home to their cats. A few cat owners have even had kidney transplants done for their beloved cats at teaching hospitals. This is very expensive, of course, and they have to adopt the donor cat.
Cats are wonderful pets, but they are very good at hiding their symptoms. It is important to have an annual exam and laboratory tests to catch these diseases early when it is easier to get them under control.
Cats are generally regarded as “self-grooming” pets, though they do need their humans for some grooming activities. One grooming technique cats are unable to perform on their own is trimming their front nails. While some indoor-only cats are de-clawed in the front (this means their claws have been removed by a veterinarian) rear claws are always left for cats. Cat claws will require trimming. Specialty cat nail trimmers are available in pet stores with the grooming tools.
Trimming cat nails is easier when the cat learns about nail cutting as a kitten. If you have your cat as a kitten, make a point to touch your kittens paws often, making them comfortable with the act of having their paws touched. Even adult cats can learn to let you touch their paws and clip their nails if you spend time just stroking their legs and paws before trying to clip them.
To trim the nails, you should hold the cat close to you. Some cats that are not used to having their nails clipped can be wrapped in a towel and held by one person while a second person clips the nails. If your cat is relaxed, you can let them sit on a table or floor while you clip their nails.
Take the paw you intend to clip in your hand. Push up on the bottom of the paw gently to spread the paw digits wide and expose the nail. Take the specially made cat clippers in your dominant hand and clip the nail. Take off only the white part of the nail, staying away from the pink part of the nail which is the “quick.”
If you do cut the quick, it will bleed. It may also cause pain for your cat because not only is there a blood vessel in the quick, but a nerve ending as well. The bleeding should stop within a minute. If not, you should use styptic sticks to stop the bleeding. These are available in most pet stores. By trimming the nails often you will train the quick in the nail to recede. By training the quick to recede, you will have less of a chance of making your cat bleed.
The nails on the front paws may require trimming as much as twice as often as the rear claws. This is because rear claws are worn down when a cat reaches up to scratch themselves or cover their excrement in a litter box or dirt outside. In addition, cats can reach their back paws up to their mouth where they can chew on the nails and keep them short.
It is normal for cats to groom themselves throughout the day. In fact, cats may spend up to one half of each day grooming themselves. For this reason, you may not even notice if your cat starts to groom himself or herself excessively. Nonetheless, if your cat constantly licks himself or herself or is pulling out his or her fur, the behavior must be addressed and you should consult with your feline veterinarian.
What Constitutes Excessive Grooming?
Excessive grooming includes constant licking as well as pulling out tufts of hair. It can be caused by a medical problem or may be a compulsive disorder known as psychogenic alopecia.
Why Does My Cat Groom Excessively?
Cats groom excessively for a variety of reasons. For instance, intra-dermal skin tests and dermatological observation by a feline veterinarian may reveal skin parasites, fleas, food sensitivities, cystitis or other conditions that can be easily treated. Treatment may include prescribed or over-the-counter medications, natural remedies or an alteration in your cat’s environment. Sometimes a change in diet may be all that is required.
Another reason your cat may groom excessively is that he or she has internal parasites, an endocrine imbalance or other serious medical issues. Your veterinarian may perform a blood test to determine whether your cat is suffering from an internal parasite or other medical condition.
In addition, your veterinarian might ask you questions regarding your cat’s other behaviors, especially those that have recently changed. Certain changes in your cat’s behaviors, such as repetitive licking in one area, known as fur mowing, can be indicative of pain in the area and can be caused by anal sac impaction or injury. Knowing whether your cat is engaging in activities such howling at night, regurgitating, hiding, twitching, sneezing, coughing or wheezing or destroying things will help your veterinarian diagnose the cause of any excessive grooming habits.
Other Potential Causes of Excessive Grooming
Over-grooming due to medical reasons should be ruled out before concluding that your cat is exhibiting a compulsive disorder. If there is no evidence of a medical issue, excessive grooming may be psychogenic in nature.
Psychogenic alopecia can be caused by certain conditions, such as age-related cognitive difficulty, anxiety or boredom. Cats with age-related cognitive difficulty may start to groom excessively as a reaction to neurological changes that can occur with age.
Perhaps your cat is seeking attention due to a change in or addition to his or her environment. For example, introducing a new baby or pet into your home may be too much of a disruption to your cat’s routine, causing him or her to over-groom.
Another possibility is that your cat is experiencing anxiety because you’re working more hours away from home or because you’re exhibiting stressful behavior yourself.
Your cat may also simply be bored. Keeping him or her better entertained can solve many behavioral issues, including excessive grooming.
Your feline veterinarian can help determine the underlying reason for your cat’s over-grooming and ascertain the best course of treatment to solve the problem.