Educational Articles

Cats + Care & Wellness

  • 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.

  • Fleas are the most common nuisance and parasite affecting cats, and an infestation can lead to serious health problems. Flea control requires a three-pronged approach; they need to be eliminated from 1) your cat, 2) any other cats and dogs that you have, 3) your home and yard. There are many flea control products available and your veterinarian can help you determine which are safest and most effective for your pets.

  • 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.

  • Genetic (DNA) testing is readily available, whether you are using it for fun to find out what breeds your pet is made up of or if you are looking into possible medical conditions. DNA samples can be collected either from a cheek swab or a blood draw. Knowing which breeds your pet is made up of can help you and your veterinarian prevent or prepare for health issues in the future.

  • 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.

  • Giving pills to cats can be a challenge, even for the most experienced veterinarian! The easiest way to give your cat a pill is to hide the pill in food. Some cats will always find the pill and spit it out, so you may need to administer it directly into your cat's mouth. This handout provides a step-by-step guide to do this, along with some other options if it is still too difficult.

  • Although health and nutrition influence the luster and texture of your cat's coat from the inside, regular grooming and skin care on the outside will help keep your cat's coat clean and free of tangles, no matter what type of hair coat she has. Brushing helps to remove loose hairs and dead skin cells, to keep the coat free of dirt, debris, and external parasites, and to distribute natural skin oils along the hair shafts. How often your particular cat needs to be bathed will vary somewhat with her age, lifestyle, and underlying health status. If your cat is arthritic or overweight, she may have difficulty grooming herself properly and you will need to help by grooming certain areas of her body.

  • Bad breath (halitosis) is caused by bacteria, plaque, tartar, decomposing food particles, or death of tissue. Treatment of halitosis in cats involves eliminating the cause(s). The teeth need to be thoroughly cleaned and polished under general anesthesia. Teeth affected by advanced periodontal disease or tooth resorption need to be extracted. Reducing the accumulation of plaque, tartar, and resulting halitosis can be achieved by using VOHC accepted products.