Alternatives to Pilling a Cat

Many pets require daily medication—often in the form of pills—for chronic health problems.  While it’s easy for most pet owners to sneak a pill into a dog’s food and treats, pilling a cat can be more of a challenge.

There are some interesting alternatives to pills if you need to medicate your cat on a daily basis.  Of course, you should always talk to your veterinarian about the pros and cons of pill alternatives before deciding.

Many compounding pharmacies make veterinary medications for pets in a variety of forms.  The two most common are in the form of flavored treats and transdermal medicine that gets absorbed through the skin.

Treat meds are usually soft and chewy and come in a variety of flavors such as fish, chicken, beef, and even butter.  Most pharmacies will recommend that you store them in their original sealed packaging in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

Transdermal meds are compounded into a gel form that you can rub into the inner part of a cat’s ear where there is little hair.  Vets call this area the pinna.

Be careful to use rubber gloves or finger cots if you apply the medication by hand.  You can also get it in the form of a pen that twists to dispense the drug onto a sponge tip that you apply to the ear.  Most vets will recommend that you alternate ears if you medicate your cat every day.

Here’s a YouTube video that shows how to apply transdermal medication to a cat’s ear:

 

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Saturday August 18th is Clear the Shelters Day

Thinking about adding a new dog, cat, rabbit, or other companion animal to your family?  Mark your calendar for the annual Clear the Shelters Day on Saturday August 18, 2018.

Many local shelters will be waiving adoption fees on this day. Be sure to check with the shelters in your area to see if they are participating in this nationwide pet adoption drive.

Check out this promotional video for the event:

 

Image:  “Dog in a Shelter” by Liana Aghajanian on Flickr.

 

Dental Problems in Flat-Faced Cat Breeds

There’s a lot of information out there about the health problems associated with flat muzzles (called brachycephaly) in certain dog breeds such as the Bulldog, Pug, and Shih Tzu.  But did you know that flat-faced cats, especially the Persian and the Exotic Shorthair, also suffer from health problems tied to brachycephaly?

Brachycephalic animals can suffer from a wide range of problems, including obstructed airways and reduced oxygen to the lungs, protruding eyes that are vulnerable to injury, heat stroke, gastrointestinal problems, and exercise induced collapse.

Another common health problem associated with brachycephaly in dogs and cats is dental disease caused by the physical structure of head and face.

A new study of dental problems in brachycephalic cat breeds found that they are prone to a wide range of issues.  Here’s a quick rundown of the findings:

Two of the most common problems are malocclusion (misalignment) of the canine teeth (found in 72% of cats in the study) and overcrowding of the incisor teeth (50% of the cats).

Other problems include crowding of the molars and premolars and having at least one tooth with some sort of positional change, such as orientation, rotation, or impaction.  Anther anomaly seen in these cats is hypodontia (absent teeth).

What about gum disease in brachycephalic cats?  The researchers found that 88% of the cats in the study had some degree of periodontal disease.  Many also had inflammatory tooth resorption.

Do you have a Persian or Exotic Shorthair cat?  Make sure regular tooth brushings and dental checkups at the veterinarian’s office are part of your cat care routine.

 

The 6 Cat Life Stages

The American Association of Feline Practitioners has outlined the 6 distinct cat life stages, and what cat owners can do to provide the best care for their cats at each stage of life, from kittenhood to geriatrics.

Here’s a quick overview, and be sure to visit the AAFP website for the full details, and for lots of other useful cat care information as well!

Kitten (0-6 months):  This is the easiest stage to introduce your kitten to children and other pets.  It’s also the best time to establish a regular routine for nail trimming and tooth and coat brushing.  Teach your kitten to become comfortable with the carrier and rides in the car.

Junior (6 months-2 years):  Cats become sexually mature as young as 6 months of age, so be sure to have your cat spayed or neutered by this stage to avoid unwanted litters and improve your cat’s behavior.

Prime (3-6 years):  While cats are often at their healthiest at this stage, it’s still important to bring your cat to the veterinarian for regular wellness checkups and preventive care like dental cleanings.

Mature (7-10 years):  Some cats become more sedentary and less playful at this stage.  Be sure to keep your cat at a healthy weight to avoid the health problems associated with feline obesity, a common problem in older cats.

Senior (11-14 years):  Cats at this stage are roughly equivalent to human seniors in the 70+ age range.  Consider increasing vet visits to once every 6 months at this stage of your cat’s life.

Geriatric (15 years and over):  While the average cat lifespan is around 15 years, many cats can live well beyond their teens and into their 20s.  Monitor your older cat for health and behavior changes and talk to your vet about managing chronic health issues.

 

What Kinds of Litter Do Cats Like Best?

Litter box issues, such as going outside of the box, are one of the most common cat behavior problems experienced by owners.  Sometimes these problems are solved with an easy fix, like adding extra boxes in a multi-cat household, cleaning the box more often, or placing the box in a quiet, isolated area.

Another major factor that contributes to litter box problems?  The type of litter you are using may be bothering your cat.  A recent study published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior examined litter box filler preferences among a group of 18 cats.

The researchers gave the cats a choice of clay granules, silica granules, silica microgranules, and wood pellets.  The cats demonstrated a significant preference for clay and silica (both sizes) over the wood.

A second phase of the study gave 12 cats a choice between clay and silica.  The researchers found that the cats showed a significant preference for eliminating in the clay litter over the silica.

If your cat is not happy about that fancy new litter you bought, consider switching back to good old-fashioned clay and see if that makes a difference in your cat’s litter box habits!

Still having problems?  Check out this guide to solving litter box issues.