Making Veterinary Visits Less Stressful for Your Cat

 

Did you know that cats actually out number dogs as pets in the US?  Yet in spite of their greater numbers we see much less of them at the clinic than we do dogs.  Cats don’t like coming to the vet.  They don’t like the carrier, the car ride or the office visit.  The great news is that there is something we can do to make things better.  Cats can  learn to tolerate, dare we say even enjoy,  veterinary visits if we just take the time make things a little more cat friendly

 

As an owner, you can help decrease your cat’s stress by taking the time to get them used to the experiences associated with a veterinary visit ahead of time.  We have included a list below of some feline friendly recommendations based on information provided by the International Society of Feline Medicine and American Association of Feline Practitioners.

 

  • Start working with your cat at as young an age as possible.  You can retrain older pets but youngsters will always be easier.

 

  • That means getting your cat accustomed to the carrier as early as possible.
    1. Make the carrier a part of the furniture so it isn’t just the evil box that comes out for veterinary visits.  Leave it open and out in the main living area.
    2. Place toys and treats inside.  Use a familiar favorite blanket, catnip or a pheromone product such as Feliway to make it even more inviting.
    3. Try feeding your cat in the carrier. It allows you to keep track of what everyone is eating in multi-cat households and as an added bonus, makes the carrier even more inviting.

 

  • Get your cat used to riding in the car.  Again, start as early as possible.  Start with short trips or even just sitting in the car with the motor running.  Don’t be in a hurry and don’t be afraid to use treats.  Believe it or not, there actually are cats that like to go for car rides.

 

  • Once your cat is accustomed to the car, try going to the clinic for a social visit.  Have technicians and front staff give your cat loving and some treats.  Walk kitty around the clinic and then go home.

 

  • Practice doing the types of things your veterinarian will do at home.
    1. Hold and look at paws, peer into ears and gently handle your cat all over his/her body. 
    2. Try using tasty treats as a way to teach your cat to open their mouth.  This could come in handy should you ever have to medicate kitty later on.  Its helps when it’s time to introduce the tooth brush as well.

 

  • Plan ahead.  Don’t be in a rush.  Make sure you know where your cat is long before it’s time to leave. If you can, get the cat to enter the carrier on their own.  If you know that your cat gets upset in the waiting area, call ahead and make arrangements to get them in a room right away.

 

  • Make sure that there is a familiar blanket and/or toys in the carrier. The smell of home is always calming.

 

 

  • Understand how your stress and anxiety affect your cat.  Whatever you feel telegraphs straight to your pet.  Veterinarians know this but few owners realize it.

 

  • Plan for the trip home as well.  If you have more than one cat at home leave the patient in the carrier until you know whether their housemates will behave aggressively or not.  If they do, keep them in separate rooms until friendly relations have returned though the door.

 

Hopefully these suggestions will help make veterinary visits less stressful for you and your kitty if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call at 563-391-9522 or check out our website  http://www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com/index.html

Davenport, Iowa Veterinary Clinic Lists 10 Reasons People Take Pets to the Humane Society.

 

According to the ASPCA, “approximately 5 million to 7 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and approximately 3 million to 4 million are euthanized (60 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats). Shelter intakes are about evenly divided between those animals relinquished by owners and those picked up by animal control. These are national estimates; the percentage of euthanasia may vary from state to state.” 

That is a really sad statistic.  We work closely with many of our local shelters at Animal Family and are always surprised at the quality of the pets we see.  These animals are neither worthless nor dangerous.  In fact, often the opposite is true.  Many are pure bred and almost all are loving, healthy animals who through no fault of their own end up homeless.

The 10 most common reasons owners give when surrendering a pet at the Humane Society of Scott County are:

  1. The owner is moving and is not able to take their pet with them
  2. The pet is too active for the owner to handle.
  3. The owner does not have enough time to devote to pet care
  4. The owner has encountered problems with housebreaking
  5. The animal is too expensive to care for.
  6. The animal is too young, too old or has developed health issues.
  7. The owner or a family member is allergic to the pet.
  8. The pet does not get along with another animal in the household.
  9. The pet belonged to a child who no longer lives in the home.
  10. The pet has become pregnant

Do you see a common thread among many of the reasons for pet relinquishment listed above?   How many of these problems could be avoided by a little research and planning before acquiring a pet.  For all the information on specific breeds that is available, it seems that people still jump into pet ownership on impulse.

So, please, before you bring a pet into your life, do your research. Think about your lifestyle, future plans, and overall health.  How busy are you?  Can you even afford a pet at this time?  Do you have the time or interest for training, walks and general health and coat care.  Don’t pick your pet based on looks.  Don’t assume you have to have a puppy and never, ever give a pet as a gift without a thorough discussion with the prospective new owner first.

Next week, we will go over what you need to think about before you add a new pet to your family.

Ways to Recognise Illness in Your Cat From Davenport, Iowa Veterinarian

The decrease in feline veterinary visits has us worried.   We love our cats but do not provide them with the same level of care that we do our dogs.  It’s true that cats are great at masking illness.  However,  by putting off a veterinary visit until your cat is seriously ill,  we  only make for greater expense for us and stress for our pet.  We all need to learn how to better recognise the signs of illness in cats, so this week we have decided to reprint a great article  from Pet Docs on Call covering  just this subject.

 

By Dr. Jen Mathis, Certified Veterinary Journalist and member of the Veterinary News Network received veterinary care in the past year.hadn’t”There are 82 million pet cats in the U.S., compared with 72 million dogs, making cats the most popular pet.  Yet studies show the number of feline veterinary visits is declining steadily each year. A 2007 industry survey revealed that compared with dogs, almost three times as many cats

Though there are many myths about cat health, the truth is, cats need regular veterinary care, including annual exams and vaccinations, just like dogs do. More importantly, because they are naturally adept at hiding signs of illness, annual exams can result in early diagnosis of health problems. Early diagnosis often results in longer quality life at less cost.

Boehringer Ingelheim is trying to help cat health by teaching about the 10 subtle signs of sickness in cats:

1. INAPPROPRIATE URINATION – At least 80% of the time this is a medical problem often associated with conditions ranging from kidney disease to arthritis. Behavior is the least likely cause.

2. CHANGES IN INTERACTION – Cats are social animals. Changes in their interaction often signal pain or anxiety.

3. CHANGES IN ACTIVITY – Medical conditions such as arthritis can produce a decrease in activity while an increase can signal a condition such as hyperthyroidism.

4. CHANGES IN SLEEPING HABITS – While cats sleep 16 to 18 hours a day, they usually should be quick to respond to someone walking into a room. Difficulty lying or rising is also a problem.

5. CHANGES IN FOOD AND WATER CONSUMPTION – Eating or drinking more or less can be signs of a range of underlying medical conditions.

6. WEIGHT LOSS OR GAIN – Weight changes in cats often go unnoticed because of their thick coats. It is not an expected part of aging, but rather a medical problem.

7. CHANGES IN GROOMING – A poor hair coat is a common sign of many medical conditions in cats.

8. SIGNS OF STRESS – Sudden lifestyle changes can cause stress in cats, resulting in symptoms such as decreased grooming to eating more frequently. These are also signs of illness, so sickness should be ruled out before stress issues are addressed.

9. CHANGES IN VOCALIZATION – An increase in crying or howling is common with older cats and can be caused by high blood pressure (leading cause of blindness), kidney problems, thyroid issues, stress or pain.

10. BAD BREATH– 70 percent of cats have gum disease as early as age 3. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath as it usually means infection. Since 2/3 of the tooth is under the gum-line, many cats have problems that can’t be seen without x rays. Dental problems cause kidney problems.

“Have we seen your cat lately?” If not, an exam may be just what your cat needs to help live a longer quality life! For more information, please check with your veterinarian!”


Davenport, Iowa veterinarian Reaches Out to Cat Owners

Have We Seen Your Cat Lately?

We love our cats in the United States.  Unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into appropriate veterinary care. Yes there are plenty of owners who do everything for their cats – exams, vaccines, spay/neuter and dental care – whatever they need.  However they may not be in the majority. Too many neglect health issues until their cat becomes seriously ill.

One scenario may be for a feline patient to come in for kitten vaccines, spay or neuter surgery and then not be seen again until they are sick. Other owners will keep up on rabies vaccines but little else.  Too many of us don’t provide our cats with the same level of care that we do their canine counterparts.

Cats can be difficult to transport.  They don’t like their carriers. They don’t like the clinic. Then again, many think because their cat is indoors, no vaccines are required. We tell ourselves cats are hardy survivors. They don’t need as much veterinary care.

Wrong.  Cats need all the same care that other animals do.  According to Scott Bernick at Animal Family, “This has been a disturbing trend in veterinary medicine.  Unfortunately we are seeing more cats come in with severe illness, leaving the owners with fewer options and increased expenses.”

Cats need to be vaccinated just as much as other pets.  Core vaccines are those recommended for all cats. These are diseases that are commonly found in the environment. That means there is a realistic risk of exposure, infection and development of a disease.  This is particularly the case with kittens.  In the case of Rabies, it is mandated by law for the protection of public as well as animal health.

The following vaccines are considered core:

  • Feline Panleukopenia:      All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks and then at 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age.  All kittens should receive a 1 year booster.  Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart.  Annual vaccination is not recommended in all adult cats.  At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years.
  • Feline Rhinotracheitis:     All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age and then in 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age.  All kittens should receive a 1 year booster.  Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3- weeks apart.  Annual vaccination is not recommended in all adult cats.  At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years
  • Feline Calicivirus:  All kittens should receive this vaccine as early as 6 weeks of age and then in 3-4 week intervals until 16 weeks of age.  All kittens should receive a 1 year booster.  Non vaccinated adults should receive 2 doses 3-4 weeks apart.  Annual vaccination is not recommended in adult cats.  At Animal Family we vaccinate every 2 years
  • Rabies:         State statutes determine how often Rabies vaccines are administered. In Iowa a single dose is required as early as 12 weeks of age. All kittens should receive a 1 year booster.  Non vaccinated adults receive 1 vaccine and a booster 12 months later.  Thereafter adults can receive Rabies vaccination in 3 year intervals provided it is given on schedule.  Otherwise another 1 year booster will be required.

The following vaccines are considered noncore:

  • Feline Leukemia:    Feline Leukemia testing and vaccination is strongly recommended for all kittens and for individuals whose health is compromised.  Kittens test negative for the virus prior to vaccination.  Two doses are administered as early as 8 weeks of age and 3-4 weeks later.  Only cats that are at risk (such as those who go outdoors) should be vaccinated at yearly intervals thereafter.           
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus:            This vaccine is only recommended for only for cats with high risk of exposure.  Because the vaccination  itself can cause a positive result on antibody testing, there is some controversy surrounding its use

 

  • FIP:    Generally not recommended due to concern about whether the vaccine is effective or not.
  • Feline Chlamydophila and Bordatella are only recommended when the diseases are present in multi-cat environments.

We are participating in a nationwide National awareness program aimed at reminding people of the importance of regular veterinary care for their cats.  During the months of April, May and June   Animal Family will provide dental exams, weight checks and body assessment scores free of charge.  It would be a great time to update vaccines and get a wellness check up for your cat as well.

Animal Family’s Guide to Pilling Your Pet

A while back there was a particularly funny e-mail circulating about pilling a cat.  What made us laugh was the large kernel of truth within the wit.  Many of us have experienced the frustrations of trying to get a pill inside our cat first hand…  It  can  be a daunting task.

The easiest and most time honored way to give a pill remains hiding it in something else.  If you can get your pet to take a pill this way and he/she is not on any food restriction this is still the best method.  One of our favorites at Animal Family is Pill Pockets made by Greenies.  They are a meat flavored soft treat that molds around the pill.  A large number of both dogs and cats will happily take their medications in a Pill Pocket.  Other choices are peanut butter, cheese, yogurt and canned food.  Just make sure your pet doesn’t spit the medication out.

If your pet either won’t eat a hidden pill or eats around it, you may have to do it the old fashioned way.  Even then, it is possible to make the process easier.

  • Make sure your pet is in a safe area.  For bigger dogs we recommend having their butt in a corner where they can’t back away.  Small dogs and cats should be placed on a counter or other raised surface.
  • Stand to the side of your pet.  Cats and small dogs should be placed in the crook of your elbow.  Don’t approach your pet from the front. 
  • Coating the pill with butter will give it a slippery and yummy tasting coating.
  • Tilt your pets head back.  For large dogs you may just place your fingers behind the canines and pull upward.  A gentle squeeze at the corner of the jaws works best for smaller pets.
  • Once their mouth is open you will need to get the pill far back in the mouth.  This is the scary part for most owners so we recommend that you use a pet piller.  This can literally take the bite out of pilling.
  • In one smooth motion, place the piller so the tip is at the back of the mouth and depress the plunger to release the medication.  Please be careful of your pet’s mouth.  This is a sensitive area and you don’t want to cause injury.
  • Leaving the head tilted backwards, immediately close your pet’s mouth and blow into their nose.  Return the head to a normal position and gently rub the throat until you see swallowing…  Be careful not to get in your pet’s face.  Make sure you are above and to the side or back of the pet’s mouth when you blow.  If your pet is aggressive…don’t get close to his/her face.
  • Make sure your pet has swallowed before releasing him/her.  Look for swallowing or licking of the lips.

What happens if your pet is like the cat in the funny e-mail?  If you absolutely can’t get pills down your pet there is another option…Compounding.  Most medications can be compounded into taste tabs, liquid suspensions or topical gels.  It may involve some additional cost but can be a life saver with a non-cooperative animal.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian especially is your pet is on maintenance medications

Remember, if you don’t feel confident, please don’t attempt this without help from your veterinarian.