MJ Wixsom: Cats are complex creatures
I have been working with a new software to create new exam room videos. While I think the animation adds something to it, this is the text of one that I have been working on for the last few weeks.
Cats are amazing creatures and they make wonderful pets, but there are a few things about them that make them especially special.
Cats are great hunters, so you have to make sure that all of your other pets that they might eat are locked up. They cannot tell the difference between your pet hamster, your pet canary and the mouse that enters your house. Because things might enter your house that you do not want to, you need to make sure their vaccinations are up to date.
Cats do not have nine lives. The average life of a cat is about seven months. Yes, a lot of cats live to be 20 to 30 years old, but the average is seven months. That’s right! They get hit by car, they catch feline leukemia, they get feline AIDS, they have feline upper respiratory viruses, there are many, many things out there that eat them and are many other bad things that happen to them (at least from the cat’s point of view). And if you own them, probably from your point of view also.
Outdoor cats kill wildlife just for fun. Make sure you understand about song birds, chipmunks and other things before you decide your cat needs to be outside.
Cats go in heat every three weeks and they stay in heat for two weeks until they are bred. It hurts not to mate.
A cat in heat is not a good roommate. Because of being in heat all the time, there are too many kittens. Many of these are killed in shelters. Male cat urine smells so strong that you can taste it if you get anywhere near it.
Spay and neuter your cat to prevent venereal disease (STD), it prevents roaming, pyometria (pyo means pus, metria means uterus, so it is an abscessed uterus), mammary cancer, prostate and testicular cancer can all be a problem.
Plus, there are bad behaviors and of course, kittens are one of the things that happen when you have cats that are not spayed and neutered, lots and lots of kittens!
On the subject of litter boxes if they are staying inside, try as many types of litter as you can when they are a kitten. That way if you have to change later, they won’t refuse the litter box. You can try paper litter, you can try wheat litter, you can try pine litter, clumping or clay litter. Make sure that it is unscented litter, because scented litter, cedar or silicon litter can cause respiratory problems. The litter box itself should be easy to get into and out of. You should have one litter box for every cat plus one. If you have one cat, you have two litter boxes. If you have two cats, you have to have three litter boxes. If you have three cats, you have four litter boxes. If you have nine cats, you have ten litter boxes.
Some cats do very well with other cats. Some do not! All cats should have a three-week introduction phase. Put the new cat in a closed room let them play under the door and change the room every two–four days. When the old cat goes in the new cat’s room, they will smell the new cat. They will continue to do this for three weeks. So when they are finally introduced, they with think they already met each other. We also have pheromones that help with the introduction. Kittens must be quarantined until checked by a veterinarian and vaccinated.
For food: premium foods are best. Name brands are very, very good. Beware of the premium priced generic foods that spend a lot of money on marketing and no money on research to make sure that your cat has what it actually needs. You can feed canned or dry or both. Cats are nocturnal and tend to eat more at night. If you only feed once a day, I recommend feeding them in the evening. Do not feed them too much. Obesity is a major problem in cats. Hunting for food is best we have no-bowl system or slim cat balls and other things that make it easy for cats to get exercise as they eat.
In ancient Egypt, cats were worshiped, cats haven’t really forgotten that. So when you reprimand them, be careful. Sometimes a simple “no” works. Sometimes a squirt gun or bottle can be used, especially in dangerous situations like chewing on an electric cord or something like that. Anytime you can use a positive reward that is the best thing.
Vaccinations are confusing. Different cats need different vaccinations in different situations. Together we will determine what your cat needs. For fleas, there are many, many over the counter products that are dangerous for cats. Never use anything that is designed for dogs on cats. Even ones that are designed for cats kill cats in routine use. We can help. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Many over-the-counter drugs are toxic to cats. A twentieth of a Tylenol tablet is enough to kill an adult male cat. And that death does not happen in a very nice way.
To sum it up: cats are very complex. They hide signs of disease. There is much, much more than we can ever teach in a short video. Call us. Text us. Bring your cat in. We can help. We want to help.
And come see my new video!
MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566.
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