Educational Articles

Cats + Care & Wellness

  • Hospice is supportive care provided to individuals in the final phases of terminal disease so that they may live as fully and comfortably as possible. Hospice care, by definition and as practiced, recognizes that death is a part of life and focuses on maximizing the quality of life for the patient during whatever time remains. The veterinarian coordinates and oversees medical procedures, medication prescription and delivery, and comfort care, but the day-to-day hospice care happens in the home. With planning, forethought, and honest communication, it is possible to provide a dying pet with very reasonable and acceptable quality of life as the end of life approaches.

  • Open, honest, and direct communication with your pet's veterinarian and members of the veterinary healthcare team throughout your pet's life lays the necessary foundation for effective communication as the end of life approaches. As soon as a life-limiting disease is diagnosed, it is time to open a dialogue about treatment options and how the approaching end of life will be handled. Delivery of hospice care is as individual as the pet and the family. Applying hospice and palliative care principles to our pets as they approach the end of their lives can be an emotionally rich and satisfying experience.

  • Many people think that because cats are finicky eaters they are poisoned less often than dogs. However, with their curiosity and fastidious grooming, intoxication is, unfortunately, not uncommon. Several factors predispose cats to becoming ill once they have been exposed to even a small amount of a poisonous substance.

  • Learning to eliminate in the chosen area is a crucial skill for pet kittens and cats. Most cats prefer unscented, fine grit clumping style litter, a deep box with at least 3” of digging material, a large area inside the box, and boxes located in quiet areas that are easily accessible. Provide lower-sided litter boxes for kittens and senior cats and multiple litter boxes for multi-cat homes. Doing our best to keep the litter clean and appealing to cats is one of the most important factors in maintaining good elimination habits in our pets. If you find a mistake after the fact, calmly and quietly clean the area, and resolve to better supervise the kitten in the future. Do not punish your kitten or cat for making a mistake. If your cat is ever seen frequently going to and from the litter box, standing or squatting in the litter for prolonged periods, posturing or standing in the litter box and vocalizing, these are all urgent concerns and require immediate veterinary attention.

  • Since cats are living longer and longer, they are also experiencing the deterioration and debilitation that goes along with aging. This includes the development of osteoarthritis. No one is in a better position to identify the subtle changes in behavior that may signal pain than human family members. You may observe changes in the following: vocalization, daily activities, daily habits, facial expressions, or posture. Your cat may show uncharacteristic behavior to other pets or family members. If you notice any of these changes, contact your veterinarian.

  • Medicated shampoos may be prescribed for a variety of skin conditions. These baths should be performed in an area that is comfortably warm, using lukewarm water. Medicated shampoo should be applied to a clean, wet coat, so start out by thoroughly rinsing your cat with lukewarm water. Shampoo should be worked into the coat thoroughly and allowed to sit for 10 minutes prior to rinsing, unless directed otherwise by your veterinarian.

  • Pain is very difficult to detect in older cats. It is important for cat owners to monitor their cats for subtle clues including changes in grooming, litter box behavior, and degree of activity. If changes in these behaviors are observed, your cat should be evaluated by your veterinarian and a pain management plan devised.

  • It may take several weeks to build up to performing a full nail trim and that is perfectly normal and acceptable. The goal is to make nail trims and positive and stress-free as possible for your cat. Taking the time to desensitize your cat to handling and nail trims will pay off in the long run, by making all of your cat’s future nail trims more pleasant.

  • Vaccinations are important to prevent serious illness in cats. Even cats that spend 100% of their time indoors should be vaccinated. Some viruses can be carried into your home on inanimate objects such as shoes and clothing, therefore infecting your cat without her coming into contact with another animal. Rabies is deadly for both cats and humans and can be transmitted by a rabid bat that makes its way into your home. Your veterinarian is your most important resource in determining what vaccinations need to be given to your cat to keep her protected.

  • Ear cleaning is not usually necessary in cats. Most cats are fine without it, but for those who are prone to wax build-up and/or ear infections, ear cleaning is a very important part of your cat's hygiene needs. Cleaning your dog's ears does not require any special equipment. Your veterinarian can help you decide how often your dog's ears should be cleaned.

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