Yes! While you may hear more often about dogs experiencing separation anxiety, cats are just as susceptible to feeling anxious when their owners leave. Learn about what causes separation anxiety in cats and how to calm an anxious cat.
Why Do Cats Get Anxious?
There’s a theory that some early life situations can make cats more likely to experience separation anxiety; for example, cats that were orphaned or kittens that weaned too early. But it’s also possible your behavior is encouraging cat anxiety. When your cat’s only source of fun, comfort, and confidence is you, it makes sense that he would worry when you’re gone. One common issue for cat owners is inadvertently rewarding needy behavior, which reinforces it instead of encouraging cats to feel confident on their own!
Does Your Cat Suffer from Separation Anxiety?
An anxious cat doesn’t suffer silently. Keep an eye out for these common signs of cat separation anxiety:
– Doing his business outside the litter box while you’re gone
– Being excessively vocal while you’re gone
– Vomiting while you’re gone
– Clawing and scratching at his surroundings while you’re gone
– Not eating while you’re gone
– Greeting you enthusiastically when you return
– Eating too fast when you’re home
– Acting distressed as you prepare to leave; for example, clinging to you or hiding
– Weight loss
– Excessive grooming
Vet Tip: It’s very common for cats with separation anxiety to eliminate outside the litter box, and sometimes they do it on your bed or clothes! This is not a sign of a spiteful cat, getting back at you for leaving. It’s his way of self-soothing by mixing his scent with yours. He’s also using his scent to help you find your way home.
8 Ways to Help a Cat with Separation Anxiety
1. Visit the Vet!
This should be your first step. Your veterinarian needs to determine whether your cat’s symptoms are truly anxiety-related. For example, elimination outside the litter box could be a sign of urinary tract disease, and excessive grooming could be due to allergies or fleas. Once your vet determines these are cat anxiety symptoms, they may prescribe medication to help, although this is usually a last resort. They’ll typically suggest behavior modification and changes to your cat’s environment before they suggest medication.
2. Practice Leaving
This is helpful if your cat is new to you or if you’re working on changing the behavior of a cat you’ve had for a while. It allows your cat to get accustomed to and become more comfortable with the process of leaving, which may be triggering his anxiety.
Step 1: Pretend to Leave
Perform a behavior associated with leaving, but don’t leave the house. For example, pick up your keys and put them down. Walk to the door, then away from it. Once you do a few of these behaviors, add them together. For example, pick up your keys and purse and walk to the door, but don’t go out.
Do this a few times a day for about a week, or as long as it takes for you to notice your cat acting more relaxed when he sees you doing them.
Step 2: Leave for a Short Time
Once you’ve done Step 1, try leaving the house but returning immediately. Slowly build up the time you’re away from a few minutes to an hour to a few hours and then to a day.
Vet Tip: If you notice that certain items trigger your cat’s anxiety, like picking up your keys or putting on your jacket, carry these items around the house for a while each day, but don’t leave. Your cat should eventually stop associating them with the act of you leaving.
3. Keep Your Cat Enriched While You’re Gone
Your cat may exhibit destructive behaviors while you’re gone because he’s bored! There are lots of things you can do to keep him busy and enriched:
– Provide a perch by a window, so he can observe the outside world.
– Give him an elevated area(s).
– Set up a hideaway.
– Leave out some toys.
– Put his food allocation into a puzzle feeder for him to work on while you’re gone.
– Turn on the radio for some ambient noise, which can be comforting.
– Turn on the television or computer – You can use this for ambient noise or as actual entertainment for your cat. YouTube has lots of videos your cat may love! Just search “videos for cats.”
– Purchase a cat tree – He can climb it, sit on it to look out a window, nap on it, and scratch it.
Encourage some of these things—playing, puzzle feeders—while you’re home, so your cat knows what to do with them. Then save certain toys and feeders as special treats for when you’re gone.
4. Play with Him!
Cats need to play to satiate their prey drive, but play also helps tire them out and should be done at least once a day. It may be especially useful to play with your cat right before you leave.
5. Don’t Get Emotional
Don’t make leaving or coming home a big deal. Say goodbye and hello casually, so your cat doesn’t pick up on heightened emotions.
6. Provide Comfort Even When You’re Gone
Besides things to keep him busy, your cat will probably appreciate a bit of you while you’re gone. Lay out a shirt or blanket that smells like you in a spot he frequents.
7. Reinforce Good Behavior
You may be encouraging cat anxiety without meaning to by petting and praising your cat when he’s being needy—meowing, sticking close by your side, following you from room to room. While this behavior is cute, it can make your cat overly dependent on you. Instead, pet, praise, and reward your cat when he behaves the way you want him to, like entertaining himself with toys or his scratching post.
8. Use Pheromones
FELIWAY® is a product that distributes cat “happiness” pheromones throughout your house. These can’t be smelled by humans, but they mimic “natural feline reassurance messages” that can help calm your cat. FELIWAY sells diffusers that you just plug into outlets around your home, as well as sprays.
Your cat loves you! It makes sense that he feels a bit anxious when you leave, especially if your routine changes and he isn’t expecting it. Encouraging healthy behaviors while you’re around and when you’re away can make a big difference, helping him feel better and behave better. If you have questions about your cat’s health or behavior, let us know! We’re available Monday through Saturday at 2519 Cinco Park Place, Katy, TX.
If you’ve noticed your cat attempting to jump up on furniture and missing or tripping over objects that are part of her everyday life, it’s time to visit the vet. These could point to impaired vision or blindness. Blindness in cats most often occurs gradually, although it can come on suddenly. Learn what causes blindness in cats, the symptoms, and what happens next for a blind cat.
What Causes Cats to Go Blind?
There are many reasons a cat can experience worsened sight or sight loss, ranging from disease to damage to the eyes. Common causes of blindness are:
– Trauma to the head
– Ingestion of an antibacterial medication (enrofloxacin) that damages the retina
– Chronic hypertension that causes the retina to detach
– Optic neuritis (inflammation of optic nerve)
– Nuclear sclerosis (vision loss due to old age)
Inherited causes can also occur, but they’re less common in cats than in dogs. Unfortunately, they do happen more often in purebred cats.
How Loss of Vision Is Diagnosed
Blindness Symptoms in Cats
The first signs of blindness that most cat owners notice are behavioral, and even these can be tricky. Cats are generally very good at coping with blindness. They compensate for a lack of one sense with their others. Some owners are shocked when they find out from a vet that their cat is blind in one eye!
Keep an eye out for a cat that:
– No longer attempts to jump onto furniture or high places; or if she does, she misses.
– Falls from familiar places
– Doesn’t move around the house as much as she used to
– Is more vocal – This could be because she’s calling out to you for your whereabouts, or she’s uncomfortable. (Glaucoma, for instance, can be painful because of increased pressure in the eyeball.)
– Trips over objects on the floor
– Bumps into objects or furniture that have always been there
– Won’t run if she’s startled, but instead freezes in place
But often physical symptoms are there as well. Dr. Kern, associate professor of ophthalmology at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, urges cat owners to regularly check their cats’ eyes for:
– A hazy appearance
– Trouble focusing on objects in close range
– Cloudiness or opaqueness
– A change in the color of the iris(es)
– Two pupils that don’t look like each other.
Diagnosis by a Vet
If you’re not sure how to check your cat’s eyes, ask your veterinarian. They can show you what to look out for.
If your cat is showing signs or symptoms of vision impairment, take her to the vet for an official diagnosis. They’ll also give you important information about caring for a blind cat.
To determine what’s going on, first your vet will ask about your cat’s history, then they’ll administer vision assessments.
Your Cat’s History
These are some questions you should be prepared to answer about your cat:
– Do you think she’s partially or completely blind?
– Has the change been gradual or is it sudden onset blindness?
– When did you start noticing signs of vision loss?
– If the appearance of the eyes is different, when did that happen?
– Is she on any medications?
This will help the vet understand whether the blindness might be related to an underlying condition.
There are lots of tests that help a veterinarian determine whether a cat is blind. Most are done twice—once for each eye.
– The cotton ball test – Your vet will throw cotton balls (or something else without a scent or a noise) into your cat’s field of vision to see if he flinches or reacts.
– The pupillary light reflex test – In a dim room, your vet will shine a bright light into your cat’s eyes to gauge how his pupils react.
– Blood pressure test – This can help determine if hypertension is the issue.
– Brain scans – These look for tumors.
– Blood tests – These detect diseases, like kidney disease, that can cause eye problems.
How to Care for a Blind Cat
The diagnosis of partial or full blindness is scary, but in some cases, blindness in cats can be treated. For instance, the drug amlodipine is often used to treat high blood pressure. This is why regular check-ups are so important; catching issues early can prevent blindness!
If your cat has cataracts, take her to a veterinary ophthalmologist right away. This specialist may be able to perform cataract surgery and restore some sight.
If your cat’s loss of sight is permanent, don’t panic! Blindness in cats is manageable. Cats are incredibly adaptable. With a little help from you, yours can have a very fulfilling life.
Adopt some of these changes to make your cat as comfortable and capable as possible:
– Restrict your cat to a small, familiar space at first or if she’s in a new environment.
– If you need to introduce your cat to a new space, scatter treats on the floor. She’ll use her nose to find them and move slowly, familiarizing herself with the area.
– Don’t rearrange the furniture – Your cat has a “mind map” of your house. She may even attempt to leap from the floor to that counter or bookshelf she loves, confident in her surroundings!
– Add bells or tags to yourself and other animals in the house, so your cat knows where you are.
– Keep the floor clear of small objects, so your cat doesn’t trip.
– Highlight tricky spots like the top of the stairs with a scent with strong pheromones. Keep the scent consistent, so your cat knows what to expect when she smells it.
– Speak to your cat as you enter and leave a room, so she knows where you are – You may notice your cat becomes more clingy after losing her sight; she’s using you as a guide!
– Speak before you pet your cat to avoid an aggressive startled reaction.
– Keep her food and water bowls, litter box, and bed in the same places as usual.
– If your cat has glaucoma, speak to your vet about pain management.
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*Microchip Success Story* Betty B 🐱 found herself lost in the big city of #KatyTX. Curious, she hitched a ride on a horse trailer in Conroe and traveled to the equestrian center here. Her owners had no idea where she was, but Betty B found a sweet lady that brought her into our hospital to check if she was microchipped. Thankfully, Betty B was! Her owner was thrilled to hear from us and know she was safe!!
If you think your cat is going blind, remain calm. She’s likely feeling anxious and scared, so keep your voice low and your movements predictable. Reach out to your veterinarian to schedule official vision assessments. They’ll be able to give you helpful tips as well.
And make sure to visit the vet for routine care, so they can spot and treat illness or disease before they cause blindness.
Ready to make an appointment for your kitty? Contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital today!
It may seem more likely for a dog owner to have to worry about their pet snatching a toxic food from the countertop. Human food shouldn’t make up more than 15% of the diet you feed your cat, but if you’re a cat owner, you know they can get into anything they set their minds to! This includes human foods that are unhealthy and sometimes dangerous.
Learn about several foods cats can’t eat and why.
1. Onions and Garlic
Although a meal almost always benefits from onions or garlic, your cat doesn’t. That includes scallions and shallots too! The compounds found in these foods can do damage to red blood cells and cause anemia.
If your cat consumes a food in the onion family, you’re likely to see symptoms like:
- Pale gums
- Lessened appetite
- Orange to dark red urine
While these foods are generally toxic when eaten in large amounts, be careful of concentrated foods as well, like garlic powder and onion soup mix.
2. Caffeine and Chocolate
You’ve heard that dogs shouldn’t eat chocolate, but did you know it’s dangerous for cats too? That’s because it contains theobromine, a methylxanthine. Theobromine is found in cacao seeds, and while it’s easy for humans to digest, it isn’t for cats.
Symptoms of chocolate toxicity include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Muscle tremors
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Unusual heart rhythm
Caffeine is another methylxanthine and just as bad for your cat. She should never have tea, coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverages or items. If your cat ingests caffeine, she’s likely to show the same symptoms as she would if she ate chocolate.
It may be tempting to let your feline friend nibble from your piece of candy, but there are better ways to share! Many candies, gums, and baked goods contain xylitol, an ingredient that can be toxic to cats. It’s a sweetener often used in sugar-free candies, but it also shows up in products like vitamins, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
Vets report seeing fewer cases of xylitol poisoning in cats than they do in dogs. This could be because cats are pickier about what they eat. (They also can’t taste sweet!) But the definitive answer is not yet known.
Symptoms of xylitol ingestion include:
- Lack of coordination
Alcohol in any form is dangerous to cats. But alcohol isn’t just limited to your after-dinner drink. It can be found in many other items, like syrups and rum-soaked cakes.
Your cat is much smaller than you. Even a tiny amount of alcohol can lead to quick intoxication.
If you think your cat accidentally consumed alcohol, look for these symptoms:
- Muscle tremors
- Difficulty breathing
If it’s not caught right away, alcohol ingestion in cats can lead to death. Should you need to take your cat to the vet, try your best to tell them how much your cat consumed and the strength of what she had.
5. Raisins and Grapes
Grapes and raisins are fun for people to snack on, but they can cause rapid kidney failure in cats. It’s not known why grapes and raisins are foods that are dangerous, but it’s not worth the risk of having them around!
If your cat experiences kidney failure as a result of consuming grapes or raisins, it can cause vomiting within 12 hours. Within 24 hours, she may exhibit:
- Abdominal pain
- Reduced appetite
- Decreased urination
Kidney failure is not something to wait on. Bring your cat to the vet immediately if she shows signs of having it or if you know she’s eaten grapes or raisins.
6. Raw Dough
Raw yeast dough—like bread dough—is dangerous for cats because it contains alcohol. It creates alcohol in a cat’s stomach, causing the stomach to expand.
7. Raw Meat, Raw Eggs, and Bones
Raw eggs, meat, and bones all have one hazardous thing in common: the risk of salmonella and E. coli. While cats are carnivores and need meat to thrive, it’s best to cook it. The possibility of E. coli and salmonella is too risky to take the change that it harms your cat or you, as it could pass through your cat and remain in the excrement you clean out of her litter box.
Symptoms of these bacteria include:
Raw eggs and bones carry additional risks:
- Raw eggs – They carry an enzyme that can cause problems with your cat’s coat and skin.
- Bones – Besides being a choking hazard, a hard bone can harm your cat’s teeth, and a sharp bone can damage her digestive tract.
Vet Note: Dairy
Many people think dairy is dangerous for cats. You should avoid feeding your cat dairy products because it is most likely lactose intolerant, and products like milk, cheese, and butter can cause her digestive upset (vomiting and diarrhea). While most cats become lactose intolerant as they mature, some cats can still enjoy dairy in small quantities. If you feed your cat a dairy product, keep an eye on her afterwards to see if it made her sick or uncomfortable.
If you think your cat has eaten one of these items, take her to a veterinarian right away. Note a couple of important things:
- What she ate
- How much she ate
- When she ate it
You don’t have to answer all of these questions! Even a little information can help your vet craft a plan of action for your cat’s health.
You should also bring your feline friend to the vet if she’s showing any of the common signs of poisoning, even if you aren’t sure of what she ate. Those signs include:
- Decreased appetite
Learn more about cat poisoning here.
Prevention is best! Avoid feeding your cat these foods. And keep foods that are dangerous out of reach of your furry friend’s mischievous paws. Always clean up after making a meal.
Do you believe your cat ate a toxic substance? Don’t wait! Bring her to an experienced veterinarian, like those at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital, right away. Ask a question about poisonous food or let us know you’re coming by giving us a call at 281-693-7387.
You find your feline friend on the countertop or the dining room table, lapping up milk at the bottom of a cereal bowl or tasting cake batter. Is that okay? If you’ve wondered, “What human foods can cats eat?”, keep reading. We’ve compiled a list of six common food groups it’s okay for cats to try.
Vet Tip: Cats generally get all the nutrients they need from commercial cat food, so any people food should be given in moderation unless you get veterinary advice first. If you suspect your kitty is nutrient-deficient, make an appointment with a vet, who can run tests to ensure he’s healthy.
A Key to Nutrients
Under each food in our list, you’ll see the nutrients it provides. Here’s a key to help you understand how each helps your cat:
Antioxidants – Protects your cat’s cells from damage caused by free radicals (molecules that can harm cell membranes, enzymes, and DNA)
Calcium – Helps blood clot and supports teeth and bone health
Fiber – Maintains a healthy microbiome in the gut and helps food move through the digestive system
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Keep the coat shiny and healthy and support the immune system
Protein – Helps repair and build tissue and muscles and contributes to healthy hair and skin, a strong heart, good vision, and a healthy reproductive system
Vitamin B – Maintains the digestive system and promotes good blood circulation
Cats are carnivores. They need meat to thrive! A little extra cooked and unseasoned meat in your cat’s diet can be a great addition. Trim off the fat, as it can be hard for cats to digest and can result in diarrhea. Turkey can be especially high in fat.
The most common image of a cat enjoying people food is a happy feline lapping from a bowl of milk. The second most common is a happy cat enjoying tuna! Tuna fish and other cooked or canned fish is healthy for cats, and they love it.
Serve canned or fully cooked fish to avoid parasites. Raw fish also has too much thiaminase, which breaks down thiamine, an essential vitamin for your cat.
Vet Note: Carnivorous fish (swordfish, tuna, salmon) tend to have higher levels of mercury than flounder, halibut, and cod. Tuna has high levels of polyunsaturated fats, which can deplete your cat’s vitamin E. If you love to feed your cat fish, do so in moderation, and choose a variety of types!
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Wild cats commonly raid nests to eat eggs. Your cat is just as likely to enjoy eggs in his diet, but be sure they’re cooked, not raw. The risk of E. coli and salmonella is too high in raw eggs. And while your cat might successfully pass salmonella or E. coli, it could remain in his excrement, which you clean up.
Scrambled eggs are a quick, easy way to deliver nutrients like:
- Vitamin B
Dairy can be a confusing subject for cat owners. You’ve probably seen images of cats drinking from bowls of milk. But you may also have heard that milk is bad for cats. Which is true?
Lots of adult cats are lactose intolerant. They can digest milk as kittens but lose that ability as they age. You can know if your cat is lactose intolerant if he vomits and/or has diarrhea after he eats a dairy food.
Most cats—even cats that are lactose intolerant—enjoy dairy, even if it causes them stomach upset. And dairy is a source of protein, although it’s not as beneficial a source as meat, fish, and eggs. If you struggle to give your cat medicine, it can be very effective to grind up the pill and put it in cheese or butter. This should only be done in very small amounts of dairy.
- Cottage cheese
- Sour cream
Vegetables (and Fruit)
Cats are carnivores, but they do like greens and need them in their diets. The main benefit of greens is fiber; otherwise, they don’t provide many nutrients.
- Winter squash
- Green beans
- Baked carrots
- Fresh cucumber
- Steamed broccoli
- Steamed asparagus
- Water content
Remove the cores and seeds of the fruits and vegetables you serve your cat to prevent choking.
Vet Tip: If you notice your furry friend chomping on grass or trying to chew a houseplant, he might be lacking fiber, and you can take it as a sign that he may like his diet supplemented with greens.
Whole grains can be an excellent source of soluble fiber, which helps keep your cat’s bowel movements regular. Make sure any grains you serve are cooked and maybe mashed, so your cat can digest them. Don’t add sugar or any other flavoring.
Avoid feeding your cat bread. It’s full of carbohydrates and calories without providing much nutritional value.
- Brown rice
- Soluble fiber
Feeding your cat new foods can be fun! It’s interesting to learn what they like and what they don’t. And it’s nice to know that these foods aren’t just delicious; they can benefit your cat too! If you have questions about nutrient deficiencies or you’re wondering if a food listed above is safe for cats, ask one of our vets or vet techs at Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital. We’re always here to help!
Cancer is one of the top disease-related killers of pets, including cats. As cats age, they can be more susceptible to health issues, including cancer, but they’re also excellent at hiding problems. Any change in behavior in your cat should be taken seriously. To help him live a long and healthy life, keep an eye out for these 14 signs of cancer in cats.
If your cat has an unusual bump, an odd smell coming from his mouth, or has taken to hiding in odd places, it’s time to visit the vet. These can all be symptoms of cancer. Get in touch with Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.
Sign #1: Unusual Lumps and Bumps
Lumps and bumps can be obvious signs of a cat with cancer. If you notice a large bump, a lump that continues to grow, or a swollen spot that changes shape with time, you should absolutely schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. These can be a sign of mast cell tumors or another form of cancer.
Sign #2: A Bad Smell Coming from the Mouth
A bad smell emitting from the mouth of your cat could be a sign of oral cancer, or squamous cell carcinoma. This disease is often attributed to secondhand smoke, but oral problems can also result from dental issues. If your cat is suffering from this form of cancer, you may also notice a change in the color of his gums.
Sign #3: Difficulty Eating or Swallowing
Problems eating or swallowing can also be a symptom of oral cancer in cats, or even neck cancer. Just like a foul smell coming from his mouth, problems swallowing or eating could point to a dental issue. If you notice your cat is trying to chew with only one side of his mouth, an appointment with your vet is in order.
Sign #4: Loss of Appetite
A cat that refuses to eat anything may be suffering from a major illness like cancer, or he could have a foreign body trapped somewhere in his GI tract. If your cat has simply stopped eating, don’t wait to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Sign #5: Sores That Won’t Heal
Wounds, lesions, or sores that won’t heal on your cat, even after he’s given oral medication or ointments, deserve a second look from a professional. They can be signs of cancer, an infection, or skin disease.
Sign #6: Hiding
One of the major signs of something wrong with a cat is excessive hiding. If your cat is suddenly spending a lot of time under the bed or in his favorite hiding spot, it could be a sign that something is wrong, especially if he won’t even come out for food or treats. This behavior doesn’t always mean cancer, but a vet can give you more information.
Sign #7: Nosebleeds
Nosebleeds are not normal in cats. Blood or pus coming out of your cat’s nose could indicate cancer, especially in older cats. In younger cats, it could mean something is stuck up there.
Sign #8: Abnormal Discharges
If you notice blood or pus in your cat’s mouth or anus, these can be signs of cancer, specifically oral or GI tract cancer.
Sign #9: Vomiting or Diarrhea
Vomiting and diarrhea can be red flags for a multitude of problems, including stuck foreign bodies, hairballs, and other illnesses. They are also common symptoms of cancer found in cats, specifically gastrointestinal lymphoma.
Sign #10: Changes in Bathroom Habits
Difficulty peeing and blood in the urine could be signs and symptoms of:
- A urinary tract infection (UTI)
- Bladder crystals
- Urinary cancer
Excessive litterbox use can also point to a problem, as can straining to defecate or blood in the stool.
Sign #11: Changes in Weight
Older cats can be skinnier than their younger companions, but drastic changes in weight—a gain or loss—can mean your pet is suffering from an illness. Weight loss is the number-one symptom of cat cancer, usually pointing to a gastrointestinal tumor.
Weight gain can also be a sign of a gastrointestinal tumor, as can bloating.
Sign #12: Seizures
Unless your cat has a previously diagnosed issue with them, seizures are never a good sign for any pet and should be taken very seriously. A seizure usually appears as an uncontrolled burst in energy. You may see your cat jerking, chewing, or foaming at their mouth.
If your cat has a seizure, take him to the vet immediately. Seizures be caused by brain tumors, especially in older cats.
Sign #13: Difficulty Breathing
If you find your cat is having trouble breathing or is coughing, a trip to a doctor is in order. This could be a sign of fluid in the lungs or inflammation. In addition to cancer, problems breathing could be caused by heart or lung disease.
Sign #14: Lameness, Lethargy, Weakness, or Obvious Pain
Just like hiding, a sudden, massive change in behavior is a serious indicator that something is wrong in cats; it could be cancer. Cats go to great lengths to hide discomfort or pain because of an instinct to avoid becoming prey. If you notice your furry friend is depressed, lethargic, weak, limping, or in pain and crying out, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with your vet.
An owner who catches the signs of cat cancer early gives a cat his best chance at survival. Knowing what to look out for, especially as your cat ages, can help you maintain his quality of life. Annual wellness exams with your veterinarian can help. If you notice any of the signs or health problems above, don’t wait to go to the vet. Schedule an appointment immediately.
If you are in or near Katy, TX, contact Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital for a checkup or referral to a specialist. Call 281-693-7387 to make an appointment.
Ear infections in cats aren’t extremely common, but they do happen! If you believe your cat is suffering from one, here’s what you need to know about the signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention of cat ear infections.
What Causes Ear Infections in Cats?
Ear infections are common in people, especially children. Ear infections in cats, however, are rare. If your cat does get one, it will most likely happen in the outer ear (otitis externa) rather than the inner ear (otitis media).
A cat’s ear infection can be caused by a few different things, including:
Mites are a common cause: They’re responsible for approximately 50% of all ear infection cases in felines. The parasite is most often found in kittens, but it’s highly contagious among cats, meaning mites can quickly get around in animal shelters. This is one reason getting your new cat checked out as quickly as possible after adopting is a good idea. Another reason is that mites are so small you won’t be able to see them with the naked eye, and a vet can identify them.
An abscess caused by a bite, scratch, or other injury could result in an infection.
It may surprise you, but cats can have allergies just like humans. An allergic reaction resulting in an ear infection can be caused by food, pollen, enviornmental irritants, or another source.
There are quite a few other, less common reasons your cat could be suffering from an ear infection:
- Foreign bodies (like a blade of grass)
- Growth in the ear canal – This could be a tumor or polyp
- Buildup of wax
- Trapped water
- Reaction to medication
- Improper cleaning
- Other underlying medical conditions, such as: diabetes, autoimmune diseases (FIV), ruptured eardrum
Signs and Symptoms of Ear Infections in Cats
There are several signs of a potential ear infection in cats. The most obvious being constant head shaking, scratching, or pawing at the ear. But you should also be on the lookout for:
- A strong odor
- Hearing loss
- Loss of balance
- Discharge that could be black, yellow, or resemble coffee grounds (ear mites)
- Tilting her head
- Redness around the ear
- Uneven pupil size
- Discomfort when you scratch around her ears
- Injury due to constant scratching of her ear
If you notice your cat is shaking her head a lot, has a head tilt, paws at her ears, or causes wounds due to constant scratching, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
How Are Ear Infections in Cats Treated?
If you notice the signs of a potential ear infection in your cat, contact a veterinarian right away. Left untreated, an ear infection could lead to consequences for your pet’s hearing or even require surgery to correct.
Treatment for a feline ear infection depends on the cause of the problem. Your vet may recommend:
- A combination of these
These remedies are available as:
- Ear drops
- Oral medication
Your vet may trim some of the fur around your cat’s ear to help ensure water isn’t being trapped inside and the ear is easier to clean.
In severe cases, where your cat is suffering from chronic infections, the vet may recommend surgery. This will either remove swollen tissue that’s causing the infection or open a closed ear canal. If the veterinarian finds your cat has an inner ear infection, fluid therapy, medications, and a thorough ear cleaning that may require anesthesia might be suggested.
If the underlying cause of the infection was ear mites, and you have other felines at home, ask your veterinarian about prevention for your other cats.
Can You Prevent Ear Infections?
The best preventive care for ear infections is regularly checking the ears. Investigate for redness, discharge, and odors. A healthy ear will have minimal ear wax and appear as a pale pink. If you notice any signs of an ear infection, bring your feline friend to the veterinarian as soon as possible to get treatment before it worsens.
If your cat struggles to clean her ears, you might want to discuss options with the vet. Never use a cleaning solution or cleaning product (such as a cotton swab) on your cat without first talking to a vet.
Ear infections in cats aren’t very common, but you should still be vigilant about your cat’s ears and overall health. Mites, allergies, and other underlying conditions can cause ear problems as well as infections and discomfort for your pet. If you believe your cat has an ear infection, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible.
If you notice an odor or discharge coming from your cat’s ears, it’s time to call a veterinarian. We can help get to the bottom of the ear infection in a safe and comfortable environment, and offer treatment options. To schedule an appointment, call 281-693-7387.
Did you recently adopt a kitten? Congratulations! One of the most important things about new pet ownership is scheduling their first vet visit. If your kitten is new to your household, here’s what you should expect when you bring him to the vet for the first time.
When Should You Bring Your Kitten In for a Check-Up?
Your kitten’s first vet visit should happen as soon as possible. It’s recommended that you schedule an appointment two to three days after adopting. Many shelters and breeders require you to visit a veterinarian after adopting and give you a window of seven days or fewer.
If your cat is showing signs of illness, however, an even earlier appointment may be needed. Keep an eye out for:
- Watery eyes
- Refusing to eat
- Difficulty breathing
Getting Your Kitten Ready for His First Vet Visit
There are a few things you’ll need as you get ready for your kitten’s trip to the vet!
A Cat Carrier
We never recommend carrying your cat into our office in your arms, as the waiting room often has other animals, such as dogs, that can scare or threaten your pet. Kittens can be very slippery!
Instead, choose a hard case carrier or a soft carrier. A bigger one that your cat can grow into is fine.
Whether you adopted your kitten from a shelter or a breeder, your cat most likely came with some paperwork. This usually includes:
- Any vaccinations he received
- Whether your cat was spayed or neutered
- Notes about his age
- Information about prior health issues
A Stool Sample
Some vets request that you bring a stool sample with your kitten. This may not always be required, so ask your veterinarian before you scoop some up and bring it in a sealed baggie.
Some kittens take to the vet a bit easier than others. Even if your little one is brave, cat treats can do wonders. They can help your new pet associate the vet with good things and make him less likely to become uncomfortable on later visits.
How much your kitten’s first vet visit will cost depends on what has already been completed by the shelter, store, or breeder. A checkup regularly runs about $20 to $40, but if your cat’s being tested for anything, he needs medication, or he’s getting vaccinations, the cost can be more.
If you’re curious how much a checkup for your kitten will cost, contact us for a more accurate quote.
Your Kitten’s First Exam: What to Expect
Once you’ve scheduled your kitten’s first vet appointment and have the supplies you need to get him to the office, it’s time to actually meet the vet! Your vet will perform a physical exam and tests. Here are some of the things you can expect your vet to do at your kitten’s appointment:
Take His Vitals
The first portion of the physical exam includes weighing your kitten and taking his temperature. Your vet will let you know if your cat is under or overweight and give you nutritional advice.
The normal temperature range for kittens is 101° F to 103° F. Anything outside of that range could point to a problem.
Check His Entire Body
The vet will then look over the kitten’s entire body. This includes an inspection of the:
They will feel the stomach for any abnormalities and listen to the lungs and heart.
Look for Parasites
Parasites can be a problem for kittens and cats that come from a shelter, so your vet will definitely inspect your new pet for them. Mites like to make a home within the ears, for instance, while fleas stick to the fur. Fleas often leave behind flea eggs and flea dirt (flea poop), so your vet will inspect your kitten for these signs in addition to keeping an eye out for adult fleas.
Perform a Fecal Analysis
If your vet requested that you bring in a stool sample, they’ll do a fecal analysis. This allows them to check for worms as well as other intestinal problems. If something abnormal is found, they can start treating your kitten right away.
If your cat is older than nine weeks, it’s important that your veterinarian perform blood tests to check for FeLV and FIV. FeLV is feline leukemia virus, and it’s a serious problem that negatively affects a cat’s immune system. Signs are not always obvious, so testing your new cat is a must.
FIV and FeLV are often confused for one another, but FIV is feline immunodeficiency virus. Care is important to keep your cat comfortable, so blood tests can help you know what to expect regarding your cat’s health. With proper steps, a kitten with FIV can live a normal life.
Your Kitten May Need Vaccinations
If your kitten is old enough, he may be able to get his first shots during his first vet visit! The first rabies shot, for example, can be given between 8 and 12 weeks old. If your cat is not quite ready for his vaccinations, it’s important to schedule appointments for later dates for:
- Feline rhinotracheitis
- Feline calicivirus
- Feline panleukopenia
- Feline leukemia
- Chlamydophilia felis
Not all kittens need all the above shots, so talk to your veterinarian to work out a vaccination schedule based on their recommendations. Vaccinations can help keep serious diseases at bay.
Schedule a Follow-Up Visit
It’s always a good idea to schedule a follow-up visit for your kitten after he’s completed his first visit to the vet, especially if your little one needs vaccinations or to be spayed or neutered. After the initial visits, your new family member should see the veterinarian at least once a year to ensure his health is in good shape.
A kitten’s first trip to the vet doesn’t have to be scary! Having the right materials on hand can make the trip comfortable for both you and your new pet. If you have adopted a new kitten, never skip the first vet appointment. It’s a vital step in ensuring your little family member lives a long and healthy life.
Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital looks forward to meeting the two of you! To schedule an appointment, call 281-693-7387.
While heartworm is more common in dogs than cats, cat owners should still be vigilant about this parasite. It’s often mistaken for other ailments, so knowing what to be aware of can get your cat much needed treatment before she gets sick. Here’s what you need to know about heartworm in cats, the signs and symptoms, and what you should do if you believe your cat has heartworms.
What Are Heartworms?
Heartworms, also known as dirofilaria immitis, are parasites. When an animal is affected, heartworms tend to make their home in the heart and lungs. They can grow to be a foot long. A heartworm’s favorite host is the dog and similar animals like the fox, coyote, and wolf. But they don’t just stick to canines. It is possible for cats to be infected by this parasite as well.
Thankfully, most heartworms don’t make it to adulthood in cats. Felines are more resistant to the parasite, so heartworms have a hard time surviving. If parasites manage to live into adulthood, there will probably only be one to three at a time in the cat’s heart or lungs, compared to a dog, which can host hundreds.
Unfortunately, fewer worms make the issue more difficult to diagnose. More likely causes of health issues in cats get investigated first. That’s a problem because even immature worms can cause severe health issues for infected cats, including heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).
What Causes Heartworm Disease in Cats?
Heartworms are transferred from animal to animal through mosquitoes. After feeding on an infected animal, a mosquito carries the larvae in its body, where it develops over a two-week period. When it’s ready, the larvae enters an animal through the bite of the infected mosquito, where it is left to start its six-month cycle to adult heartworm. It’s important to note that heartworms are not contagious and can’t be passed from cat to cat or from dog to cat.
The parasite can be found throughout the United States and is much more common in an area that is home to a lot of mosquitoes. It used to be the case that heartworm wasn’t found in all 50 states, but due to urbanization and irrigation, this is no longer true. If you have seen mosquitoes, your pets can be susceptible to catching the parasite.
What Are the Symptoms of a Heartworm Infection?
In cats, symptoms of heartworm aren’t always obvious. There could be no signs, or there could be several. It depends on the cat as well as the stages and locations of the worms.
Here are some signs of heartworm to be on the lookout for:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Difficulty walking
- Fluid in abdomen
- Difficulty breathing
Sadly, in some cases, there will be no signs until a cat collapses or dies from the parasite.
How Can Heartworms in Cats Be Treated?
Your vet can test for heartworm in your cat by taking a blood sample and use a combination of heartworm antibody and antigen tests. If heartworm proteins are found, they will request more tests, such as complete blood counts, X-rays, and ultrasounds.
There is no straightforward treatment for heartworm in cats and no standard cure. The medications used to cure heartworm disease in dogs can be fatal to cats, so should never be used. Instead, veterinarians often take a monitoring approach, with support.
The first step after a heartworm diagnosis is to stabilize your cat. Often, heartworm in a feline clears up on its own with proper care and nursing. Damage can be left behind when they’re gone, so monitoring is important. If worms were found in your cat’s lungs, your vet will most likely suggest regular chest x-rays.
Other treatment options include:
- Prednisolone (medication to reduce inflammation)
- Cardiovascular drugs
- Oxygen therapy
It can take two to three years for the worms to complete their lifespan. Regular checkups and medication can help minimize symptoms during this time period. If heartworms are resolved, your veterinarian will probably recommend that your cat come in for continued checkups. This is to keep an eye on any damage the parasite might have done to her heart or lungs.
Heartworms Can Be Prevented
Since there is no standard cure for heartworms in cats, prevention is absolutely necessary. Even indoor cats can come in contact with mosquitoes.
Monthly heartworm preventive medications are a great way to keep the worms at bay. Even if your cat was previously diagnosed with the parasite, these medications can prevent a new infection. Heartworm preventive care for cats are available in topical and pill forms, which should be given once a month.
If you give your cat heartworm prevention medication, timing is essential. Missing a dose or administering one late could leave your pet open to infection. Kittens can be started on heartworm preventative as early as eight weeks, though dosage will change with their body weight.
Both indoor and outdoor cats can get heartworm! If you think your cat contracted the parasite or you would like to talk about Revolution®, the preventive medicine we recommend and offer, don’t hesitate to get in contact with us. Give us a call at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy TX.
Traveling can be exhausting when you’re on your own, but traveling with a cat can be a bit more stressful. But sometimes you need—or want—to fly with your furry friend! Here’s how to get to your destination, stress-free.
General Rules for Flying with Cats
Each airline is different when it comes to pet requirements, so planning ahead is the first step to reducing stress when flying with a cat. These are some general rules of flying with pets:
- Many airlines do not allow pets if you are making a connection.
- Most airlines restrict your flights to 12 hours or less if you are bringing a cat.
- Some airlines don’t allow you to fly internationally.
- Snub-nosed cats, such as the Persian, are generally not allowed to fly.
- Kittens should be about 8 to 12 weeks old, but some airlines ask that they be older.
- Each airline has restrictions on kennel size.
- You may be allowed to bring two cats in one carrier as carry-on luggage.
- Some destinations bar pets or have very specific guidelines about bringing them in. Check with your destination to ensure everything is in order before you fly.
Checking In with Your Airline
Although airlines all have the same job, they don’t all have the same rules, especially when it comes to pets. If you’re looking to fly with your cat, carefully review all airline pet policies before purchasing tickets. This list provides links to the major airline companies in the United States and their individual pet policies:
It’s always important to notify the airline as soon as you know you’ll be traveling with your cat. Many planes restrict the total number of animals that can fly on a single flight, so you want to book your spot before the flight fills up. Fees and documentation may be required by the airline.
If your flight isn’t on one of the airlines above, you can find their pet policies by Googling the name of the company along with the phrase “pet policies.” If you can’t locate the information online, call their customer service directly.
What to Bring on a Flight with Your Cat
Have these on hand when you’re getting ready to check in:
Documentation and Vet Records
It’s always a good idea to have your cat’s vet records when you travel with him, especially a record of his rabies vaccination. In some cases, this documentation is required by the airline or your final destination. It may also come in handy if your cat has a medical emergency during your trip.
A proper kennel is absolutely required to bring your cat with you on a trip. In addition to being properly ventilated, the kennel must meet the size requirements of the airline and allow your cat to move comfortably inside it. If you’re planning on bringing your feline friend as carry-on luggage, his carrier has to be able to fit under the seat in front of you.
Each airline’s kennel size requirements are different, so it’s important to review its pet policy to determine what you need. In the case of Delta and JetBlue, you can buy properly sized kennels straight from the airline.
In addition to size restrictions, there may also be weight restrictions. For cats, you won’t run into this issue often, but it’s good to double-check. If you have a particularly heavy cat, you may have trouble with American Airlines, which requires the kennel and pet to weigh less than 20 pounds.
To determine kennel size, first consider if you will be bringing your cat as carry-on or checking him.
Food, Water, and Treats
It’s likely your cat will get hungry on his trip, so food, water, and treats are a must. Pack enough for both before your flight and when you land.
Vet Tip: Cats should be fed within four hours of check-in, but not within four hours of take-off to help avoid kennel accidents.
Even if you followed the food and water rule, you may run into an accident with your cat mid-flight. If he happens to go to the bathroom or throw up in his kennel, having paper towels on hand will allow you to clean it up right away.
Lowering Your Cat’s Stress
Cats can be naturally anxious and skittish, so flying can be a bit much for them. Preparation can help ease their fears, so take these important steps before you get in the air.
Try to Take Your Cat Onboard as Carry-On
In most cases, as long as you book your cat’s spot early enough, you should have no problem bringing him as carry-on luggage. This allows him to be by your feet for the duration of the flight. This method of flying is less stressful on cats than flying cargo.
Gather the Items You and Your Cat Need
If your cat is wary of his kennel, take it out a few days before take-off, so he has a chance to become more accustomed to it. Keep the door open, and place treats inside to make it a little more enticing.
Gather your documentation, your cat’s ticket, his food, and other supplies, so you’re not scrambling with them and a potentially frightened cat when it’s time to head out the door.
Visit the Vet
It’s always a good idea for a cat to get a checkup well before his flight. While you may want to fly with your feline, it’s important to know when it’s not a good idea. For severely anxious kitties, the flight may be too much, causing stress-related reactions, including vomiting. Cats with health issues or trouble breathing should also stay on the ground. Your vet can make a final recommendation.
Some airlines and destinations also require recent vet records.
The first step to flying stress-free with your cat is preparation. Never skip a visit to the vet’s office. Your veterinarian can clear your cat to fly while also giving you documents that may be required by the airline or your final destination.
If your cat needs to stay home, consider boarding him in a comfortable, reliable facility or leaving him with a family member.
Ready to make an appointment for a pre-flight checkup? Call Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387.
When most people think of mosquitoes, they imagine the itchy bumps left on their skin and the diseases they carry that can affect humans. Have you thought about whether mosquitoes can affect your pet? Can your dog get West Nile virus?
There are a few illnesses mosquitoes can carry that you should know about if you’re a dog or cat owner. Then you can help protect and care for your pet when you’re out and about during mosquito season!
1. West Nile Virus
One question we hear is: Can my dog or cat get West Nile virus?
While your pet can catch this disease from mosquitoes, it isn’t one owners generally need to worry about. A study conducted on pets and West Nile found that both dogs and cats are very resistant to the disease. Dogs that were infected had such low measurable quantities of the virus that it would be very unlikely they would transmit it to another mosquito if they were bitten again.
Very few pets die from West Nile virus infection. In a study from 1999, 5% to 11% of dogs had the virus, but none of their owners reported signs of their pets being sick.
When symptoms do (rarely) occur, they can include:
- Muscle weakness
- Neurological problems
If your pet is displaying these symptoms, your veterinarian will check for more likely causes first, as they’re rarely caused by West Nile virus.
Heartworm is one disease that all pet owners should be proactive about. It’s the most common disease transferred by mosquitoes to cats and dogs and can prove painful to your pet and expensive for you if you haven’t taken precautionary measures.
Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs
Symptoms of heartworm in dogs often don’t show up until seven months after an infected mosquito infects your animal. Once mature, the heartworms will begin to reproduce in your dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. If not treated, heartworm can be fatal.
- Lack of energy
- Reluctance to exercise
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
- Abnormal lung sounds
The best way to prevent heartworm disease in dogs is to use heartworm medication regularly. Your vet can prescribe it to you.
Heartworm Symptoms in Cats
For most cats, heartworm does not reach the adult stage, but even immature worms can cause issues, such as heartworm-associated respiratory disease.
Prevention is a must, as tests may not discover the immature worms, and in cases of infection, many cat owners don’t realize until it is too late.
There is no heartworm medication for cats. If your cat displays these symptoms, take him to the veterinarian immediately:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Fluid in abdomen
- Coordination issues
3. Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Dog and cat owners generally don’t need to worry about eastern equine encephalitis (EEE), as they’re usually resistant to health effects. EEE most often affects horses. If your pet does display symptoms, he will most likely make a full recovery. In the worst-case scenario, he’ll need supportive treatment.
You should contact your vet if you notice these symptoms in your dog or cat:
- Neurological issues
How Do You Know If Your Pet Has Been Bitten by a Mosquito?
Dogs and cats often display the same signs as humans when they’re bitten by mosquitoes! Constant scratching and irritation are most common, along with the red welts people are used to. They may also rub their ears or noses to find relief.
How to Prevent Mosquito Bites
You can help prevent the spread of West Nile virus, heartworm, and EEE to your dog or cat by doing a few simple things:
- Use dog- and cat-friendly insect repellent – Never use insect repellent designed for humans on your pets; it can be toxic. If you do, contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Get rid of standing water in your yard, such as bird baths, untreated pools, and collected rain water.
- Don’t walk your dog during peak mosquito times: dawn and dusk.
- Use window screens, and replace or repair any tears.
- Administer preventative heartworm medication – It’s an inexpensive, monthly treatment. Always give your dog his heartworm medication on time and correctly. Missing a dose or administering it late can leave your pet open to infection.
- Have your dog tested for heartworm – This can be done annually by your vet to ensure your dog is not infected. While heartworm medicine is highly effective, it’s not 100%.
While you don’t have to worry too much about your dog or cat contracting West Nile virus or EEE from mosquitoes, preventative measures should still be taken to reduce the chances of contracting more severe illnesses, like heartworm. Medication and steps to remove mosquito habitats from your property go a long way in pet care, but if yours displays symptoms of West Nile virus, EEE, or heartworms, get him to a veterinarian quickly. Early detection is key to ensuring your pet stays in good health.
Whether your dog or cat is showing symptoms of one of these three infections, you would like to start your pet on preventative measures, or you need prescription refills, visit Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital in Katy, Texas. To book an appointment or bring your pet in for an emergency, give us a call at 281-693-7387.