Topics are listed below. Click on a topic to jump to that Q&A.
Some topics are linked to a printable report you can download if you have Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Common Household Poisons
Excessive Water Drinking
My cat seems healthy, do I need to take her to the veterinarian?
Old Cat Meets New Cat
Kids and Cats: Safety Concerns
Do we only treat cats?
Should my Cat Wear a Collar?
I can’t get my cat to lose weight. What can I do?
Q: Is it safe to give my cat Tylenol?
A: Absolutely not. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is poisonous to all cats. Even a very small amount can quickly lead to death. If you feel your cat needs pain medication, please consult with your veterinarian for a safe medication.
Q: How do I treat my cat for fleas?
A: Not all flea medications are equal. There are generally two types of flea medications: over the counter and prescription strength. The over the counter type can be purchased at most stores where pet supplies are sold. These products are not as strong, and therefore, not as effective as medications that can be purchased at a veterinary clinic. Also, the pet store brands can sometimes cause adverse reactions in cats such as tremors, salivation and seizures and in rare cases, death. The flea medications that you purchase from your veterinarian are usually very safe and extremely effective. Contact our office and we can help you decide which brand is right for you and your cat.
Whether you purchase your flea medication at a veterinarian or a pet store, you should always take the time to read the instructions and use the medication only as instructed. Cats are very sensitive to flea medications and adverse reactions do occur. Never use dog flea medicine on your cat or kitten. If you think your cat is having a reaction, bathe your cat to remove the flea medication if possible. If your cat seizures, salivates or is having tremors, call a veterinarian immediately.
Q: What are some common household poisons?
Antifreeze (ethylene glycol) – It seems unlikely that a cat would be interested in this green goo that drips out of our radiators. Surprisingly, however, this fluid is quite tasty and seems to attract animals and children. Unfortunately only a small taste of this fluid can be fatal. If you suspect your cat has ingested antifreeze, call a veterinarian immediately. Early treatment is crucial for survival. An antidote is available, but must be given before kidney damage has occurred to be effective. The best thing is to avoid exposure of this deadly liquid. Always be sure to clean up any spills, check for leaks on your car and never leave leaky bottles lying around.
Tylenol (acetaminophen) – Most people don’t even know that this very common pain medication is lethal to their cat companion. Just a small piece of one Tylenol tablet can prove fatal to a cat. It initially causes kidney failure, and it your cat survives that phase, the next phase is liver failure. There is an antidote, but the antidote must be given early to be effective.
Lily – Yes, this common houseplant is extremely toxic to cats. Just a nibble of the flower, leaf or bulb is almost always fatal. It has the same effect on cats as antifreeze. Unfortunately, there is very little hope for this problem once symptoms occur. The best solution is to avoid exposure to the plant.
Diffenbachia – This common houseplant can cause harm to your cat, but is usually not fatal. This plant can cause swelling of the throat, making it difficult for your cat to swallow and breath. The cat can have symptoms if it eats the leaves or even drinks the water that a starter plant may be soaking in. Consult your veterinarian if you cat starts drooling, having difficulty swallowing or breathing.
Mistletoe – If your cat eats even a small taste of this plant, it can prove fatal. So, be sure to keep the mistletoe where your cat cannot touch it.
De-Icer – This product can cause disorientation and severe vomiting if ingested. If you think your cat has swallowed some de-icer, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Q: Help! My cat is not using the litter box!
A: There are a few reasons why your cat might start urinating out of the box. First and foremost, you should have your cat examined by a veterinarian to be sure there are no problems with the urinary tract. This is easily accomplished with a small urine sample. If everything checks out fine with the urine, then your cat may have a behavior problem. Some reasons that a cat may choose not to use the box are pain while urinating, the litterbox is not clean or the litter is not what the cat prefers to use, or the litterbox is in a less than favorable location.
Q: My cat seems to be drinking a lot of water. Does this mean anything?
In older cats there are several common problems that will cause a cat to drink more water than usual. If your cat has had weight loss and a change in appetite in addition to increased thirst, then you should take your cat to your veterinarian for a check-up.
Some problems may be treatable or at the very least, we can slow down the disease progression.
Q: My cat has bad breath! Should I brush her teeth?
A: One of the first signs of peridontal disease is “cat breath.” A clean mouth shouldn’t stink and cats are prone to periodontal disease. Beginning a maintenance program early may prevent problems later in life. Research indicates that regular dental care may actually prolong your pet’s life. Left unchecked, bacteria from the mouth can course through the cat’s bloodstream, perhaps eventually affecting its heart or kidney.
To learn more about dental care for cats, click here to read “Cats Have Teeth Too!” Note: requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.
Q: Which diet is best?
A: There is not one specific diet that is best. Today, we are fortunate to have a variety of high quality diets from which to choose. Things that you should look for when selecting a diet for your cat are the ingredients. You want high quality ingredients such as meat, natural preservatives and no by-products. Also, a diet of all canned food might be indicated if your cat has dental problems, constipation or recurrent bladder problems. If you are not sure, contact your veterinarian for help.
Q: What is safe for my cat to play with?
A: You always need to choose your cat’s toys carefully. Not all toys sold in pet stores are safe for your cat. Try to avoid toys that have long strings or small parts (such as bells) that can be swallowed. Try to choose toys that will stimulate your cat’s natural hunting instinct such as fur covered toys or toys that they can chase, pounce on or toss in the air. Remember that sacks, straws and boxes are usually favorites too!
Q: My cat is tearing up my furniture. Should I have her declawed?
A: There is no right or wrong answer to this question. First of all, there are a few non-surgical options to declawing. Regular nail-trimmings can be easily mastered, especially if you start your cat young with monthly nail trims. This will keep the nails short and less sharp allowing for less-destructive behavior. Soft Paws ® are small, plastic caps that can be glued to each nail. Covering the sharp nail allows the cat to exercise naturally without destroying furniture. These need to be replaced every 4 – 6 weeks as they fall off. Declawing should be done only in cats that are causing damage to walls or furniture. Declawing an aggressive cat could cause it to be more likely to bite. Declawing is a painful procedure, but is less painful and has a quicker recovery period in kittens. The older and larger the cat is, the more bleeding, pain and post-operative complications that occur. The Cat Hospital of Wichita does not perform declaws.
Q: How do I get my old cat to get along with my new cat?
A: Getting a new addition to your cat family can be very exciting and at the same time, very frustrating. Cats are social animals, but they are also territorial animals. Because of this, introducing a new cat into a house that already has a cat can be difficult. If the new cat is a kitten, always be sure the kitten is protected while you are away. Never let the kitten roam with the adult cat until you are absolutely sure that the adult will not harm the kitten.
A good way to introduce cats is to keep the cats separated by isolating one cat in a room and letting the other cat roam the house. Alternate which cat is put in the room each day. This allows for the new cat to investigate their new home without being attacked by a resident cat. It also allows the resident cat to become accustomed to a new cat in the territory without feeling the need to fight. Hissing and growling are all natural forms of communication between cats, but they also signal a possible fight. If the cats are hissing and growling at the door, don’t try to introduce them. Once the hissing has stopped, allow the cats to meet each other. A good rule is to reward good behavior. A reward can be a treat, food, playing with a favorite toy or simply praising and petting. So, if the two cats walk into the same room and don’t display aggression, they get a reward! If you don’t get the desired reaction, then simply separate the cats and try again on another day. Keep in mind that cats communicate with body language more than vocalization. Therefore, if you see one of the cats displaying aggressive body language, such as ears pinned back, tail swishing quickly, lowered head or staring, then stop the interaction before any further aggression has occurred. For cats, it can be much more of a threat to be stared at by another cat, than to be hissed at. This process of separation and introduction can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. At the very least, most cats can usually co-exist without fighting. However, before you know it, your cats will probably become best friends!
Q: My cat seems healthy; do I need to take her to the veterinarian?
A: Health problems can occur at any age. Even young cats can be victims of illness, and annual examinations can detect problems early. Even something as simple as fleas or being overweight can cause serious health problems. We try to encourage the cat owner to not wait for problems to escalate out of control before calling for help. Early intervention on most health problems can make all the difference in the quality of your cat’s life. An ounce of prevention…
Q: Kids and Cats: what are the safety concerns?
A: Cats can usually be quite happy and comfortable around children. However, it does require work if you want to have a safe relationship between your children and your cat. First of all, cats will usually run away if they do not want to be bothered. If you can teach your child to not chase the cat this will be a big first step. If possible, provide a “safe-haven” for your cat to go to if it needs to get away. A baby-gate or elevated perch usually will do the trick.
Teach your child about cat language. No, we don’t expect you to teach your child how to meow and purr, but to understand cat body language. Teach your child to leave kitty alone when the ears are pinned back, the tail is thumping or the head is lowered. Teach your child to not pick up the cat – this can frighten and even injure your cat. Teach your child how to “pet nice”. Most cats hate to be petted against the lay of the hair, and they definitely don’t like to be patted roughly or have their coat tugged at. Also, be sure to teach your child to stay away from the litter box. Those little presents in the box are not really Tootsie Rolls! Even very young children can quickly learn the proper way to interact with a cat, so start early. If your child can learn these techniques, you will find that the child and the kitty can have a great relationship.
Q: Do you only treat Cats?
A: Cats are our only patients (most veterinarians that treat both dogs and cats spend 65%-75% of their time with dogs). The Cat Hospital of Wichita has been designed specifically for cats – and owner’s – comfort and convenience.
Q: Should my cat wear a collar?
A: The City of Wichita does not require that cats wear identification tags. However, if your cat goes outdoors, it might be wise to provide the kitty with some sort of identification so that neighbors know the cat is not a stray. Microchip placement is a safe and permanent way to identify your cat. The chip is implanted under your cat’s skin and has a unique number identifying your cat. If you have a collar on a young kitten, be sure to check the collar frequently. Kittens grow extremely fast, and their collar can get too tight very quickly. To check for proper fit, you should be able to easily slide two fingers under the collar. Also, when selecting a collar for your cat, be sure to use a “break-away” collar. These collars are specially designed for cats to “break-away” or release if the cat gets hung up on something. This safety design has saved countless cats from strangulation. Stop in today to color coordinate your collar to your kitty!
Q: My cat is overweight and I can’t seem to get her to lose weight? What can I do?
A: Getting a cat to lose weight is just as challenging as it is for us to lose weight. They have to eat right and exercise. Fortunately, we can usually control what our cats eat. This can be achieved by measuring the food and providing a quality diet. Sometimes a low carbohydrate, high fiber diet is recommended, while other times a high protein diet is recommended. It is always recommended that you measure the food and feed several small meals per day. If you have a busy schedule, you might consider using a time-controlled bowl that can be purchased on-line. These bowls usually have four compartments that open every 6 hours. The cat’s 24 hour ration can be divided into the four compartments and can be fed at the appointed time even if you are not at home. Another devise is a Neko feeder which uses a magnetic collar for the cat to gain access to the feeder. This feeder is useful if you have multiple cats in the house and only one needs to be on the diet.
The other aspect in weight loss for cats is exercise, and this can be problematic for most cats. Overweight cats are usually quite sedentary and getting them to exercise is difficult. Keep in mind that they are overweight and out of shape. They are not going to be agile or have much stamina at first. They may appear disinterested. This is probably due to the fact that they just don’t have the desire to move. Be patient and persistent. Vary the games that you try to play with them and realize that initially they may only be able to play for a few minutes. Just like a person that hasn’t exercised for several months, they won’t be able to run a long distance the first time out. The goal for exercise should be to achieve increased respiratory rate to the point of panting. Once this is achieved, you can stop play.
Be patient with weight loss for cats. Losing weight too fast can be harmful to the liver and can cause illness. Most cats lose weight very slowly and can frustrate owners. If you can stop further weight gain on your cat, that can be an achievement. Regular weight checks with your veterinarian can also help keep a record of the weight and make any adjustments to the plan.