Sunday, April 27, 2014

What Are My Options for Getting My Difficult Cat a Check Up? Part 1

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

What makes it so difficult to get a cat to the vet's office?
Most cat owners often wait until right before they need to leave for their appointment to try to get their cat into the carrier.  They also tend to keep the carrier tucked away in a closet away from the cat most of the time.  More than likely, the cat will only associate the carrier with having to ride in the car and going to a vet's office.  For a cat, the carrier can be a very scary trap that they want to avoid at all costs!  How can we make it easier to get our cat to the vet's office?  Here's a list of potential challenges and their possible solutions:

1. Problem: Hides when time to get into the carrier
Solution:  Plan ahead.  Permanently or at least for a few days prior to the appointment, leave the carrier out in a small room without furniture to hide under, or a central area where the cat spends a lot of time.  On the day of the appointment, calmly close off the doors to all other rooms.  Use the sound of shaking a bag of treats or opening a can of food to bring your cat to you.  Place the cat gently in the carrier.

2. Problem: Difficult to get into carrier - can't get all 4 feet in
Solution:  Consider a different type of carrier - perhaps even a dog one!  Plastic carriers tend to be best due to their durability.  A carrier that is too small or one that does not have a way to open the top of the carrier can make loading a cat difficult.  Mesh bag carriers tend to collapse down when attempting to put a cat in it.  In addition to brand new carriers purchased online or at the pet store, you can sometimes find great deals on used carriers at yard sales or flea markets that just need some cleaning and sanitizing.

3. Problem: Difficult to get into carrier - tries to scratch or bite
Solution:  In addition to the above solutions, for weeks prior to appointment, try to acclimate the cat to the carrier through use of treats and toys.  Use feline pheromone spray to make the carrier more appealing.  If possible, work towards a daily routine where the cat enters the carrier of it's own will as part of play or a treat reward system, with the idea that on the day of the appointment, you can just close the door.  If you are unable to acclimate the cat to the carrier, consider getting a tranquilizer medication from your veterinarian to administer to your pet.

4. Problem: Flimsy carrier - cat escapes!
Solution: Again, hard plastic carriers tend to be best.  Cardboard and mesh carriers can be destroyed by a motivated cat, which can be scary if the cat escapes outside or in the car while you are driving.

5. Problem: Meows incessantly or pants in the carrier
Solution:  If the cat has become acclimated to the carrier at home using the above advice, consider placing a calming collar on your cat before putting them in the carrier.  Use a blanket with your cat's scent or one of your old t-shirts to line the bottom of the carrier.  Preheat or chill the car ahead of time so that the cat will not be too hot or too cold.  Secure the cat carrier in the car, using a seat belt if needed.  Play soft music, talk quietly, and avoid sudden stops while you drive. 

6. Problem: Urinates/Defecates/Vomits in carrier
Solution:  If the cat has become acclimated to the carrier at home using the above advice, consider fasting the cat for a period of time before your appointment.  Ask your veterinarian for guidelines based on your cat's age and health.  

You can find additional tips in a helpful brochure produced by the American Association of Feline Practitioners here

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Why is My Cat Such a Fan of Boxes?

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

Many cat owners have captured their cats in boxes of all shapes and sizes.  These "cat traps" appear to be irresistible.  Cats like to use them for sleeping, hiding, or for planning their next sneak attack. 
The box may seem way too small or large, yet not seem to be a deciding factor for the cat.  Some objects only have to be "box like" for the cats to choose them for their new lair: dresser or vanity drawers, linen shelves, baskets, sinks, etc. 

Why do they choose these areas?  Cats like the protection offered from being able to sleep in partially or totally hidden areas.  Some nooks may be particularly comfortable if there is a blanket or towel to lay upon.  Other spots may be extra snug, allowing the cat's body heat to radiate which makes it extra warm and cozy. 

New boxes with new smells help alleviate boredom and can provide entertainment for the cat in an inexpensive way.  In some cases, cats may be ill if they are spending too much time hiding in a cubby somewhere so make sure to keep track of your cats habits.  Also, be careful of accidentally enclosing your cat into places like clothes dryers!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

How to Be a Great Petsitter for Cats

by Amanda L. Maus DVM
Catalina Pet Hospital

Tucson, AZ

Previously, we have discussed how to screen a pet sitter for your own cats.  This time, we will look at how to be a great cat sitter for someone else.  Being responsible and trustworthy are the top qualities that a cat parent is looking for in a cat sitter.  They are entrusting you with a furry family member's health and well being. 

If you have not met the cat(s) before, arrange a meet and greet so that you can have an idea of the cat's personality and general appearance.  Ask the cat parent about any known health problems or odd behaviors.  Become familiar with where the food is kept, where the food and water dishes are located, where the litter boxes are, and where the cat's favorite hiding places are.  Discuss the exact dates of the trip and plan to be available for an extra day or two later in case of travel delays.  Ask if there will be a duty list provided and if not, take notes of the expected feeding schedule, etc.  Determine the frequency and method that the pet parent would like to receive updates.  Make sure you have emergency contact information for the pet parent and their veterinarian.

While pet sitting, follow the given instructions to help maintain the cat's routine which helps decrease stress.  Monitor the cat's appetite closely and only feed the food or treats in the quantity requested by the pet parent.  Allow extra time during your visits for some quality time, including petting and playing with appropriate toys.  When scooping the litter box, examine the bowel movements for consistency and the urine clump size and quantity.  Check all of the water dishes and refill with fresh water as needed.  Survey the the home daily for evidence of hairballs or vomit, as well as anything the cat may get in trouble with if they find it.  If you have any concerns, it is better to contact the pet parent than to wait.   Changes such as decreased appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, or urinating outside of the litter box may require a trip to the veterinarian. 

Following the guidelines listed above will help guarantee a successful pet sitting experience for everyone. 

PAWSitively CATS has adoptions on Saturdays at the shelter at 3432 E. Ft. Lowell Rd from 12-4 pm and at PetCo at 22nd/Harrison from 11am-3pm, or by appointment.