Educational Articles

Cats + Care & Wellness

  • While most of the time cats will land on their feet, they can still sustain serious injuries after a fall, including sprains, broken bones, head trauma, and chest or abdominal injuries. If you see your cat fall, monitor her for at least 3-5 days for anything abnormal that may develop. Serious injuries need to be evaluated immediately by your veterinarian, but there are steps you can take at home to prepare your pet to be transported to your veterinary hospital.

  • Insect stings or bites can cause mild signs of swelling, pain, and itching or can be more severe causing hives, anaphylactic reactions, difficulty breathing, vomiting, diarrhea, or seizures. If the bite or sting has been observed, look for the insect or spider to allow identification. Look for a stinger and remove it carefully without squeezing more venom out of the venom sac. Depending on the severity of the reaction, first aid including cool packing the area, dosing with oral antihistamine, and prevention of self-trauma may be all that is needed; however, in more severe cases emergency veterinary attention is required to stabilize the cat, screen for organ dysfunction, and provide supportive care.

  • Lameness occurs due to the injury or debilitation of one or more parts of the leg; bones, muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, or skin. Depending on the cause of the limp, immediate veterinary care may be needed. If your dog is in severe pain, carefully transport your dog to your veterinary hospital or emergency hospital immediately. For non-emergency limps, you may be able to determine the cause of the limp and provide home care. If the lameness persists for more than 24 hours, seek veterinary care. Medication or surgery may be necessary to help your cat heal and reduce pain.

  • Tail injuries are common and can sometimes be managed with home first aid but some cases require veterinary care. Abrasions are mild scrapes that can be treated with daily cleaning and application of antibiotic ointment. Lacerations are more serious cuts that may expose underlying muscle and bone requiring stitches and often antibiotics. Tail fractures can heal well if they occur near the tip of the tail but if bones are severely damaged then amputation may be required. Nerve damage can occur from fractures, crushing injuries or severe tail pulls causing stretching or tearing of the nerves and can result in loss of fecal and urinary continence and can also result in a limp tail.

  • If your cat limps, or licks at her pads, she may have a foot pad that is torn, punctured, or burned. Minor injuries may be treated at home, but deeper or complicated wounds require veterinary attention. Clean the wound and remove small debris if possible. If larger foreign or deeply seated objects are discovered, or if the wound is deep and does not stop bleeding after 10-15 minutes, seek immediate veterinary care. Control bleeding and apply gauze as a bandage, wrapping the affected paw including the ankle or wrist. Keep the wound clean and bandaged and if any changes are noticed, seek veterinary care. Try to avoid foot injuries in your cat by surveying the areas where your cat plays and walks.

  • Flea and tick prevention consists of a variety of products used to control flea and/or tick infestations on your pet and to prevent infestations inside the home. Fleas and ticks can be found worldwide. Fleas can live in many climate zones, but they prefer humid and shady areas, such as under leaf litter. Ticks can also live in many climate zones, and prefer humid and shady environments, especially areas with woods, shrubs, weeds, and tall grasses. Prevention is key to avoid infestations in your home, severe allergic reactions (in both pets and people), and to prevent disease. Many flea and tick preventives are available. Your veterinarian will help you find an appropriate product that works best for your and your pet.

  • Adverse food reactions in cats are either caused by food allergy – an immune response to something ingested or food intolerance – a non-immunological response to something ingested. Signs of food intolerance are generally digestive in nature only. Food intolerance will generally occur on the initial exposure to the food or food additive in contrast to food allergy which requires repeated exposures to develop. Different causes of food intolerance include food poisoning, or inappropriate ingestion of an irritant, reaction to food additives, histamine reactions, lactose intolerance and dietary indiscretion such as eating fat or bones. A dietary history is important in diagnosing these conditions.

  • Fractured teeth in cats can result from fights, car accidents, and chewing on hard objects. There are five classifications of tooth fractures and each needs treatment to avoid tooth sensitivity and pain. Because cats have thin enamel, even a small chip fracture can cause pain and needs veterinary care. Clinical signs include chewing on one side of the mouth, excessive drooling, pawing at the mouth, and facial swelling.

  • Certain medical conditions can be controlled by the use of drugs that are only available in an injectable format. In many cases, cat owners are willing and able to administer these medications at home. Most cats do not seem to mind routine injections which are given in the subcutaneous tissue. This handout provides step by step instructions. Dispose of the used needles and syringes properly.

  • The easiest way to give your cat liquid medication is to mix it in with some canned food. In some cases, this is not possible, and you will have to administer the medication directly into the cat's mouth using a syringe. Before starting, make sure you prepare the syringe with the correct amount of medication. If the medication was refrigerated, you may want to warm it up by holding the syringe tightly in your hand for a minute or two. It may be helpful to have someone assist you the first few times you administer the medication. Try wrapping your cat in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. Detailed directions for administering the medication are provided in this handout. Make sure you give your cat plenty of praise throughout the procedure and offer a special treat after giving the medication.

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