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 preventative care for cats are available in topical and pill forms, which should be given once a month. Injectable medication may also be available through your veterinarian. These need to be administered every six months.
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 preventative measures, 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.
While the curiosity of cats can be endearing, sometimes it means they get into things they definitely shouldn’t. Some items around your house could be poisonous to your pet, so prevention is key. Fortunately, many symptoms of cat poisoning are very noticeable. Here’s what you need to know!
What Is Poisonous to a Cat?
There are many things in the average household that may be safe for humans but are poisonous to cats. Most cat owners know of the dangers of antifreeze, for example, but there are other items inside and outside to keep out of reach of your furry friend. A few of the most common poisons include:
- Insecticides, like dog flea medication and lawn and garden products
- Cleaners and chemicals, like toilet bowl cleaner and bleach (which can cause respiratory issues)
- Plants, like some types of ribbon plants, daffodils (which cause stomach problems or damage to the heart), and lily of the valley
- Human medications, like antidepressants and aspirin
- Some human food, like chocolate, onions and garlic (which can cause extensive damage to red blood cells), and candy
These are only a few examples of what can be dangerous for your cat. Before bringing a new item into your home, adding a plant to your garden if you have an outdoor cat, or giving your pet scraps from the table, always double-check if it’s safe for them. Animals, such as some types of snakes and black widows, can also be dangerous if your cat gets bitten.
Signs of Poisoning in Cats
Although movies may portray “poisoning” as something that happens instantly, in real life it’s usually an effect that displays symptoms before becoming fatal. Time is important, however! The sooner you notice the symptoms of poisoning in your cat, the more likely your pet will not suffer any lasting effects.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take your cat to the vet immediately:
- Not eating
- Off-colored gums
- Excessive thirst
- Hyper behavior
Cats are experts at hiding their symptoms—or even hiding themselves—from their owners, so keep a keen eye out for changes in your cat’s behavior.
What to Do If Your Cat Is Poisoned
If you notice anything strange or unusual in your cat’s behavior or health, or you witness him eat a poisonous item, it’s best to visit your vet or go to a veterinary ER hospital. Don’t wait for symptoms. Catching a problem early can help prevent it from becoming something bigger.
You may want to consider calling an Animal Poison Control hotline. Describing the item and/or symptoms to an expert can help you determine what to do if your pet was poisoned, even after normal veterinarian hours.
It’s a good idea to bring along a sample to the vet of whatever your furry friend ate, as it can help your vet create a treatment plan—unless your cat was bitten by a venomous animal. Don’t bring the animal in if it’s still alive. Attempting to catch it could put your health or life at risk. If the animal is dead, carefully bring it in with your cat, so your veterinarian can determine the correct antidote.
Put your veterinarian, emergency vet, and even perhaps Animal Poison Control in your contact list in case of an emergency. Keep your pet’s ID, medical records, and microchip info near the front door in case you have to make a quick trip to the vet due to poisoning or another problem.
What Happens When You Get to the Vet with a Poisoned Cat
Your veterinarian will create a treatment plan for your cat, depending on what he ate or came in contact with and the symptoms he is displaying. Your vet may induce vomiting, provide an antidote or other medications, or give your cat fluids. Never induce vomiting on your own nor try any at-home medications on your cat unless specifically advised to do so by a professional. Administering them incorrectly could do more harm.
Your cat’s doctor will most likely want you to come in for follow-up visits to monitor your cat’s progress and health. If, after treatment, the symptoms of poisoning return, bring your cat back to the vet immediately.
How to Prevent Poisoning in Your Cat
Many new parents baby-proof their homes when bringing home a newborn. The best way to prevent poisoning in your cat is to approach his safety the same way. Whether you already have a cat or are welcoming a new kitten, these steps can keep your cat curious, but out of harm’s way:
- Keep all known poisons out of reach or locked away.
- Keep medications in child-proof containers in closets or other safe locations.
- Research any human food before giving it to your cat (or don’t give it to him at all, especially if you don’t know all the ingredients).
- Clean up immediately after eating or cooking.
- Investigate all new plants that you bring into your home or plant in the garden.
- Do not use insecticides in the house.
- Refrain from using garden products if you have an outdoor or indoor-outdoor cat.
- Keep garbage out of reach.
- Carefully follow the instructions on pet medications to avoid overdosing or poisoning from incorrect skin contact.
If your cat is displaying the symptoms of poisoning, or you suspect he ate something poisonous or dangerous, time is of the essence. It’s vital that you get him to a vet or contact a professional as soon as possible. Fast treatment can reduce the chance of lasting effects on your pet’s health.
Do you suspect your cat may be poisoned? Is he displaying the symptoms of poisoning in cats? Visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas, or give us a call at 281-693-7387 for advice or assistance. If we are closed, we’ll refer you to a nearby veterinary emergency center.
If you’ve just brought a cat into your family, congratulations! He’s yours to cuddle and play with. But part of kitten care is keeping him safe and healthy, and that means getting him the vaccines he needs to start life right. Your furry friend needs a range of vaccinations and boosters to give him the best chance at a healthy future.
Find out which shots are important for your cat’s health, why, and when you should schedule them.
Rabies is a serious disease, and the vaccine is one of the most important shots for your cat. It’s required by law in many cities and towns across the United States.
Rabies can affect a wide range of animals, including humans, and it’s a fatal disease.
Signs of rabies in cats include:
- Sudden change in behavior (usually aggressive)
- Inability to swallow
- Trouble breathing
- Change in voice
- Sudden death
There is no cure for rabies, so vaccination is essential.
When Your Kitten Should Get the Rabies Shot
Many veterinarians suggest getting the rabies shot at about 12 weeks, but you can schedule it at 8 weeks. Your cat should receive a rabies booster shot a year later and, at most, every three years after that.
After your cat receives his vaccination, keep the paperwork on hand for easy reference.
Feline Rhinotracheitis Vaccine
Feline rhinotracheitis, also known as the feline herpesvirus infection or feline herpes, is taken care of as part of the FVRCP combination vaccine. Herpes in cats is one of the main causes of upper respiratory infections and can also lead to conjunctivitis.
This virus appears 2 to 5 days after infection, lasts for up to 20 days, and can reactivate during stressful periods during your cat’s life. When symptoms are apparent, your cat can infect other cats.
The signs of feline herpes include:
- Ulcers on the eyes
- Eye discharge
- Nasal discharge
- Eating less
When Your Kitten Should Get the Feline Herpes Shot
Feline rhinotracheitis is particularly dangerous for kittens, but it’s unpleasant for adult cats as well and can put other felines at risk as well. The FVRCP vaccine is a three-part shot that can be administered at six weeks, though eight weeks is the recommended age. After the initial shot, your kitten will receive an additional shot every 3 to 4 weeks until he’s about 16 weeks old. He should get a booster at about one year.
Feline Calicivirus Vaccine
The ‘C’ in the FVRCP vaccine stands for feline calicivirus, also known as FVC. Another common cause of upper respiratory disease, this is an infection often found in shelters. Kittens are most likely to catch calicivirus, so vaccination is essential.
Common symptoms of this virus include:
- Mouth ulcers
- Red and watering eyes
- Lack of appetite
- Runny nose
The calicivirus is resilient, so it can spread easily. It can be very dangerous to cats and may result in pneumonia, so care is essential if your cat catches this virus.
When Your Kitten Should Get the FVC Shot
Kittens should follow the FVRCP schedule for this disease.
Feline Panleukopenia Vaccine
The third part of the FVRCP vaccine is for feline panleukopenia, which is also known as “feline distemper” or “feline parvo.” In prior years, this virus was extremely dangerous to cats and proved fatal to many. Today it is an uncommon disease, thanks largely to the vaccine.
FP acts by attacking cells in the bone marrow, lymph nodes, and intestines (or fetus in the case of a pregnant cat). More common (and deadly) to young cats, symptoms of panleukopenia include:
- Lack of energy
- Lack of appetite
- Low white blood cell counts
If your cat catches this virus, he’ll need intensive care.
When Your Kitten Should Get the Feline Parvo Shot
Kittens should follow the FVRCP schedule for this disease.
Feline Leukemia Vaccine
The feline leukemia (FeLV) vaccine is often recommended by veterinarians, but it’s not required. Indoor only cats are less likely to catch FeLV, but indoor-outdoor cats or outdoor cats can be highly susceptible. The virus is passed from cat to cat by bodily fluids, so grooming and fighting are common ways for cats to catch it.
The symptoms of feline leukemia virus include:
- Inflamed gums
- Lack of appetite and energy
- Weight loss
When Your Kitten Should Get the Feline Leukemia Shot
Although this vaccine is not considered a core shot, many vets highly recommend it. Most cats that catch FeLV pass away within three years. Your kitten should receive this vaccination around 8 to 12 weeks and receive a booster about a month later.
Other Kitten Vaccinations
There may be other vaccinations for your kitten that your veterinarian recommends—or are required by some boarding facilities—based on his environment and his health history.
Veterinarians generally only recommend the FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) vaccine for cats at high risk. Many cats can live with FIV for years with proper care, but critical signs of the disease include:
- Weight loss
- Lack of appetite
- Wounds that don’t heal
If your vet suggests this vaccination, your kitten will receive his first shot at about eight weeks old and then two booster shots in the next six weeks.
The chlamydophila felis shot is another vaccine that may be recommended by your vet if your new kitten lives in an area where the infection already exists. It can cause upper respiratory problems, as well as limping or a reduced appetite. The first shot can be received at nine weeks or older and requires a booster about a month later.
Bordetella is an extremely common bacteria found in kennels, so the vaccine is often required by boarding facilities. Kittens are most susceptible and will display severe symptoms, but any cat can catch this disease.
- Loss of appetite
- Breathing problems
- Swollen lymph nodes
Talk to your veterinarian about this vaccine and whether or not they believe it is for your cat. If your cat requires it, he’ll need a booster shot every year.
Your kitten’s core vaccinations are essential to his health and wellness. Young cats are especially susceptible to many viruses and bacterial infections, so it’s important to talk to your vet about vaccination schedules and recommendations.
We can help you create a shot and booster schedule to make sure your furry friend gets the preventive care he needs. We’d love to meet your new family member! To schedule his first checkup or a booster shot, give Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital a call at 281-693-7387.
Cats are known as curious for a reason! Sometimes get into things they’re not supposed to. While many of these items are harmless to your furry friend and/or pass through her digestive system without a problem, other items can cause intestinal blockages. But intestinal obstructions in cats aren’t only caused by foreign bodies. Sometimes they point to a larger health problem.
Educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of an intestinal blockage in your cat, so you can be the best advocate for their health and safety and know exactly what to do if you suspect one.
What Causes Intestinal Blockages in Cats?
She Ate Something Odd
A common cause of intestinal blockages in cats is foreign bodies. Sometimes a cat eats something she absolutely shouldn’t—like tin foil. But other times, she might have swallowed part of her toy by accident.
Here are some things you’ll want to keep out of reach of your kitty:
- Paper clips
- Rubber bands
- Dental floss
- Tin foil
- Needles and thread
She Has a Medical Condition
Blockages aren’t only caused by foreign bodies. They could be the result of another medical problem including:
- Narrowing of the intestine or stomach
- Another issue that involves the digestive system, stomach, or intestines
What Are the Signs of an Intestinal Blockage?
In many cases, if your cat ate a foreign object, it will pass on its own, and you will never notice there was a problem. In other cases, whether the cause is a foreign body or another medical issue, the signs of an intestinal blockage are clear, but may also be evidence of another problem.
Here’s what you should look out for:
- Straining to go to the bathroom
- Not eating or not eating much
- Behavioral changes
- Doesn’t want to be picked up
- Abdominal swelling
- Abdominal pain
Sometimes the type of symptom your cat has will point to the severity of the issue. For example, constant vomiting can indicate a complete obstruction in the digestive track, while intermittent vomiting is a sign of a partial blockage. Diarrhea can happen when there is a partial block, but constipation points to a complete intestinal blockage.
When to Bring Your Cat to the Vet for an Intestinal Blockage
If you notice any of the above signs or symptoms, bring your cat to the vet as soon as possible. Delaying could cause more serious problems.
If you see your cat eat something she’s not supposed to or suspect that she did, take her to your veterinarian right away. In many cases, it can be easier to get the foreign body out if it’s still in her stomach.
You may notice the foreign body in your cat’s mouth or throat, or coming out of her rectum. Do not pull on it. Items such as string might be wrapped around your cat’s tongue or intestines. Removing it incorrectly could cause harm to your cat.
How Is a Cat’s Intestinal Blockage Treated?
The treatment for your cat’s intestinal blockage depends on the cause, but also the location. First, your veterinarian will do X-rays and ultrasounds, sometimes using dye to locate the item and determine what it is. Many vets also complete blood tests and collect urine samples to ensure no other organs are affected. These tests can help you rule out other causes of blockages, like infections.
A gastric endoscopy is another tool your veterinarian may use. A small camera is directed through your cat’s digestive track. If the cause is a small foreign body, tools used in a gastric endoscopy can even allow the vet to retrieve the item without invasive surgery.
The next step is determined by the discoveries made by the X-rays, ultrasound, and endoscopy. If the item is a foreign body and found in the stomach, your vet may induce vomiting. Never try this on your cat at home. Doing it incorrectly can harm her. If the foreign object is located elsewhere in your cat’s digestive tract, your vet may want to see if it passes on its own or may suggest surgery.
If the item or problem can’t be located, exploratory surgery may be recommended to determine the exact cause. With anesthesia, your vet can find the obstruction.
If your cat’s intestinal obstruction isn’t caused by a foreign body, your vet may suggest the following:
- Torsion – The vet will untwist the intestine and attach it to the side of the stomach to prevent the issue from reoccurring.
- Dead or deteriorating bowels – Your vet will remove the dead or deteriorating sections and reattach the intestines that are in good condition.
- Heartworms – Deworming medication is safe and simple.
For obstructions caused by cancer or other medical issues such as gastritis, your veterinarian will outline a specific treatment plan or other options available to you and your cat. The doctor may also have suggestions regarding diet after treatment.
How to Prevent Intestinal Blockages in Cats
Not all intestinal blockages in cats are preventable, as health issues such as cancer and torsion can happen at any time in a cat’s life. Other causes can be prevented!
Keep Objects Out of Reach
There are some items your cat will be very interested in, such as string. Put these items away out of reach when you are done using them.
Carefully Select Toys
Not all toys labeled as “cat toys” are safe for your furry friend. Ribbons and bells can easily detach and be swallowed. Carefully research toys and read reviews before purchasing them. Some objects may be safe for cats, such as dangling wands, but only under supervision. When not using these toys, keep them out of reach.
Keep Garbage Out of Reach
If your cat has a habit of getting into the garbage, try keeping it away from her, like in a closet or under lock to ensure she doesn’t go exploring for something she shouldn’t hve, even after you’ve thrown it away.
Keep a Clean Environment
Homes with roaches or mice put your cat’s health at risk. These animals’ waste products can provide a source for roundworm infection. Roundworm eggs can also be passed from cat to cat through their stool. Keeping a clean home and litterbox are essential to your pet’s health.
If you notice the signs of an intestinal blockage in your cat or pet, take her to your veterinarian immediately. Left untreated, it could lead to more health problems. Try to keep foreign items out of reach to reduce the chance of an intestinal obstruction, but also monitor your cats’ health and behavior for sudden changes.
Do you suspect your cat ate something she wasn’t supposed to? Is your cat having trouble going to the bathroom, or has she stopped eating? It’s time to visit your veterinarian. We offer a wide range of services to find the exact cause of the problem and have the expertise to recommend the proper treatment for your cat.
To schedule an appointment or to bring your cat in for an emergency visit, please call us at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas.
As your cat gets older, it’s important to keep an eye on him. Cats are masters of disguise, and a slight change in behavior could point to an underlying problem in an older cat.
You can give your cat his best life through the years if you know the signs of aging in cats and the problems that can arise from the simple passage of time.
All cats should get regular check-ups with their vet, but it’s extremely important for aging cats. Your veterinarian can help catch issues early, especially if your senior is good at hiding them. Feel free to call Cinco Ranch Veterinary at 281-693-7387 to schedule your cat’s next check-up.
Sign #1: Your Cat Is Having Trouble Eating
As your cat ages, his teeth are more prone to dental disease, which can make eating difficult. Signs of a dental issue include:
- Bad breath
- Loss of appetite
- Pawing at his face
- Losing teeth
How You Can Help Your Cat
Like other injuries and illnesses, cats can hide dental issues from their owners, so it’s important to regularly check your cat’s teeth or have it done by a vet, even when he’s young. It’s best to catch a dental problem before it progresses into something more serious that could require surgery or tooth removal. Brushing and specialized diets can also help prevent problems.
If your cat is already missing teeth or having other mouth issues, either from aging or dental disease, your vet may recommend a specific diet to make it easier for him to eat.
Sign #2: Your Cat Isn’t Coming When You Call
Cats, just like humans, are prone to changes in hearing. Becoming hard of hearing is an extremely common sign of aging in cats. Over time, your cat may experience damage to his ear or nerves, resulting in hearing loss.
Signs your senior may be going deaf include:
- Not coming when you call him
- Meowing louder than usual
- Being harder to wake up
- Getting startled when you approach him
How You Can Help Your Cat
If your cat is going deaf or just not hearing as well as he used to, try not to sneak up or startle him. If your cat is an outdoor cat, consider keeping him inside instead, as he won’t be able to hear cars and other dangers. To keep your cat safe should he wander off, give him a microchip.
Sign #3: Your Cat Is Running into Things
Deteriorating sight is also a sign of an aging cat. Haziness and cloudiness is common in older cats and, in most cases, doesn’t affect their ability to see, but other issues like cataracts and high blood pressure should be given extra attention.
Cataracts are not extremely common in cats, even in seniors, but can occur. Look out for whitish pupils. High blood pressure, just like in humans, can lead to blindness in your cat. Unlike cataracts, it’s extremely common in cats.
How You Can Help Your Cat
One of the first things you should do if you have a cat who is blind or losing his sight is avoid adding hazards to his environment. He’s probably already comfortable in your home, so don’t move things he’ll remember the placement of, like furniture. Cats rely more on their hearing and smell than their sight, so the loss of it doesn’t mean your cat can’t live a full life; however, you should never let a blind cat outside.
If you notice your cat is having trouble seeing in the dark, take him to a vet as soon as possible. This could be a sign of high blood pressure and may be able to be treated before it worsens.
Sign #4: Your Cat Isn’t as Energetic as Before
As any pet ages, they tend to lose energy. Your cat will sleep more and play less, and that’s completely normal. If your cat becomes lethargic, however, make an appointment with your vet.
How You Can Help Your Cat
The best thing you can do for any senior cat keep them out of stressful situations. This includes big changes, new pets, and new situations. When stressed, cats can lash out at other animals, cease using the litter box, or become more aggressive overall. Ask your vet about reducing stress.
Sign #5: Your Cat Isn’t Moving Like He Used to
Aging cats are extremely prone to arthritis. The smallest of physical changes could point to this problem, so if you notice your cat limping or grooming himself differently as he ages, take him to the vet for a check-up.
Other signs of trouble moving include no longer jumping on your bed and other furniture and simply not being able to climb into his litter box.
How You Can Help Your Cat
The symptoms of arthritis can absolutely be treated by a vet and will reduce pain and discomfort. Your veterinarian may recommend a different diet, weight loss, or medication.
Your cat may have difficulty reaching specific spots on his body when he grooms himself. Grooming your cat will prevent problems like matting.
Rearranging your home slightly will also help your feline friend. Make access to his water and food bowls, litter box(es), toys, and favorite places a little easier to reach. He’ll also appreciate a little help if they are looking to get into bed with you.
Other Signs of Aging in Cats
There are several other signs that your cat is aging that are not cause for alarm, like brittle claws and changes to his coat texture or color. If you’re concerned about a particular change, ask your vet!
Just like humans, cats change as they age. Unlike humans, cats are expert at hiding symptoms, discomfort, and pain. So you need to be the lookout! If you notice alterations in your aging cat’s behavior or physical appearance, keep an eye on them for other changes to prevent problems. If you suspect something is wrong, contact your vet.
One of the best things you can do for your aging cat is to get regular check-ups. This can help set your mind at ease and ensure your senior is getting the best care, nutrition, and attention possible as he gets older. If it’s time for your senior’s check-up or you suspect a problem, call us at 281-693-7387.
“Don’t eat that!” How many times a day is that question directed at your cat?
There’s no doubt cats love string and yarn (and anything that looks remotely like string or yarn). As fun as it can be for them to play with, string and material like it can be quite dangerous to their health. Here’s what you need to know if your cat swallows it!
How to Tell If Your Cat Ate String
If you didn’t witness your cat chomping on string during playtime, you might not know right away that she swallowed something she wasn’t supposed to. In some cases, you may never know it occurred because your cat can pass it on her own.
When it doesn’t pass on its own, there can be serious consequences, but you will see signs of an obstruction (bunching up in the intestines). Look out for:
- Problems going to the bathroom
- Not eating
- Not wanting you to touch her stomach
What If You See the String?
You may be able to see the string in your cat’s mouth or later, coming out of your cat’s anus when she attempts to pass it. Never try to take the string out of your cat’s mouth. It could cause serious damage to her digestive tract, as you don’t know how long it is and whether it’s wrapped around something internally.
If you see string hanging out of your cat’s back end, don’t pull on it. The best solution is to carefully trim it and contact your veterinarian. Even trying to gently pull it out could cause damage to your cat’s intestines.
Your Cat Ate String: What to Do Now
If you notice any of the symptoms above, whether you know your cat ate string or just suspect it, go to the vet. Their care will ensure the string doesn’t cause more serious issues.
What Can the Vet Do?
If the string is wrapped around your cat’s tongue, it can be removed by your veterinarian.
If the string was swallowed completely, your veterinarian may order X-rays, blood tests, extra fluids, medication, or an endoscopy. They may also induce your cat to vomit, but this only works if the string has not passed further into your kitty’s digestive tract.
In more serious cases, your cat may require surgery.
You should never attempt any of these solutions at home.
Cats, just like dogs, can sometimes get into things they’re not supposed to. Just like string, these are items you’ll want to keep out of their reach:
- Rubber bands
- Dangling toys (With supervision, these are generally fine!)
- Paper clips
- Dental floss
It’s important to use judgment when giving your cats new toys. If you’re not sure about a toy’s safety, check the reviews and ask your veterinarian. It’s a good idea to avoid toys:
- That have dangling strings or other items
- That have eyes that can be easily removed
- That are extremely small and can be easily swallowed
Sometimes food and plants looks like fun to a cat! Here are some things that definitely aren’t cat food:
- Insect bait
- Chicken bones
This is a short list of the things that can have negative consequences for your cat. If you suspect she ate a poisonous or dangerous item, contact your vet immediately. You can also call Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435.
Safe Toys for Your Cat
While there are items that are not safe for your cat, there are plenty of great playthings! And they don’t always have to be labeled as “cat toys!” Here are some great toys, homemade or store bought, your kitty can enjoy.
- Shower curtain rings
- Colorful springs
- Wands (with supervision)
- Laser toys
- Cardboard boxes
- Paper bags (without handles)
- Ping pong balls
- Cat tree
- Food maze
String—and material like it—is never a good idea for cats, dogs, or any other pet, but if your cat ate something she wasn’t supposed to—or you suspect she did—it’s time to visit your veterinarian. The sooner the item is discovered, the easier it may be to get out.
If your cat swallows string or eats another foreign object, please give us a call at 281-693-7397, or bring your pet to our hospital located at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, especially if your cat is already displaying symptoms. If it’s an emergency, we can assist over the phone and at the office, even if you don’t have an appointment.