Category Archives: feline health

How to Know When Your Cat is Sick

By Julia Williams

Early detection is always best for any illness. Catching a disease before it becomes advanced increases the chance that it can be treated successfully. What makes this problematic for cat owners is that felines are hard-wired to hide signs of illness. Their wild ancestors did this as a means to survival, and it’s instinctual for a feline to conceal the appearance of sickness, even if they lead the life of a very spoiled housecat.

Your best course of action is threefold: 1) take your cat to the vet for wellness checkups at least once a year; 2) know your cat well enough that you can immediately recognize any changes in their normal behavior; 3) know the subtle signs of a sick kitty. Here are some things to watch out for:

Appetite Changes

Both an increase and a decrease in a cat’s food intake can signify illness. If a cat begins to eat ravenously and always seems to want more, diabetes or hyperthyroidism could be the culprit. Eating less could mean dental problems or something more serious such as kidney disease or cancer. It’s important to be aware that cats who stop eating can quickly develop a potentially fatal liver disease called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat won’t eat anything for more than a day, get to the vet ASAP.

Water Consumption

As with food, both an increase and a decrease in water intake can indicate health issues. Excessive thirst can be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

Bad Breath

“Cat food breath” is one thing – all felines have that to some degree. However, if your cat opens his mouth and the smell just about knocks you over, that’s definitely cause for concern. Stinky breath can indicate dental disease, infection, digestive issues or kidney problems; a sweet, fruit-like smell can be a sign of diabetes.

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Zinc Poisoning in Dogs and Cats

By Linda Cole

Zinc is an essential trace element that humans, dogs, cats and other animals need for good health, but only in small amounts. It’s common to find zinc around the house in different products we use, in pet carriers, coins and a host of other sources. Zinc poisoning can occur when we ingest too much of this element, and it can cause serious health issues. The severity depends on how much was consumed, what form the zinc is in, and the size of the person or pet.

Zinc occurs naturally in the environment in soil, rocks, water air, and in the food we eat. It’s the second most common trace metal found naturally in our bodies (iron is the most common). In humans and animals, zinc helps boost the immune system, regulate appetite and heal wounds, and is essential for proper growth and development. It is possible for humans, pets, and other animals to have a zinc deficiency, but before reaching for supplements talk to your doctor or vet first. Most pets who eat a balanced diet don’t need additional zinc, which is why feeding them a quality food like CANIDAE is important.

In the home, zinc can be found in common things like the nuts and bolts in pet carriers, batteries, paint, nails, screws, tacks, staples, automotive parts, board game pieces, some toys, fertilizers, zippers, jewelry, creams or lotions that contain zinc oxide, some prescription medications, herbal supplements, multivitamins, deodorants, fungicides, shampoos, calamine lotion, suppositories, antiseptics, cold lozenges, U.S .pennies minted after 1982 (97.5% zinc) and Canadian pennies minted between 1997 and 2001 (96% zinc).

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Common Cat Injuries, and What to Do About Them

By Langley Cornwell

There is a lot of information circulating about acute and chronic feline illnesses, which is helpful when you need details about a particular situation or condition. However, there are a handful of common injuries that befall cats on a fairly regular basis, and some of these injuries can be treated at home. A responsible pet owner would do well to have a standard working knowledge of common cat health issues and know what steps to take to help their feline friend. In other words, it’s important to know when you need to make a mad dash to the emergency veterinary clinic versus when you can calmly assess the problem and either treat it yourself or make a convenient appointment with your regular veterinarian.

Here are some of the most common cat injuries.

Animal Bites and Puncture Wounds

Among the most common injuries with cats are puncture/bite wounds, usually the result of a cat fight. With a bite wound or a puncture wound from a sharp, pointed object, you must clean the area thoroughly and try to flush out the wound so you can inspect it. A note of caution: be careful when inspecting your cat’s injury; a wounded animal can be unpredictable and aggressive.

If the wound looks superficial, after cleaning the area apply an antibiotic ointment and keep a close watch on it for signs of infection. Continue to keep the area clean and dressed with the ointment as it heals. Deeper wounds may require stitches and oral antibiotics, so it’s best to head to the veterinarian’s office. Also, cat-on-cat fights can be especially harmful because the bite from another cat can easily abscess. If you know that the puncture wound is a cat bite, go see your veterinarian. A snake bite is an entirely different thing; go straight to the nearest animal hospital.

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Recognizing Stress in Dogs and Cats

By Linda Cole

A few summers ago, a young raccoon in the neighborhood apparently decided my dogs were interesting to watch. I don’t know if he was lonely or thought the dogs were funny looking, but he’d show up almost every day when they were outside in their pen. He’d climb one of the trees overlooking the pen to sit and watch them. The dogs knew he was in the tree, and it frustrated them to no end. The raccoon forced us to change our nighttime routine to keep the dogs from waking up the neighborhood with their excited barking. He eventually moved on, but his presence definitely stressed out the dogs. We don’t always stop to consider how anxiety in a dog or cat’s life affects them, or what even causes it, but too much stress can lead to health issues and behavior problems.

What Causes Stress for Pets?

Shelter animals deal with stress on a daily basis. They live in a noisy environment with no way to escape or hide. Sensitive pets have a hard time dealing with shelter life. Stray and lost pets have to contend with a host of issues that can put their health at risk. Stress in dogs and cats is caused by environmental, emotional or physical issues.

Environmental stress is caused by moving to a new home, a change in routine, holidays, loss of a family member (human or animal), other pets, trips to the vet and other issues dealing with their environment.

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Are Foxtail Plants Hazardous to Dogs and Cats?

By Linda Cole

Foxtail is a grass named for its resemblance to a fox tail; it grows in every state expect Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Hawaii. It’s also widespread in Canada and some parts of Mexico. Foxtail is a generic name used to describe several different species of grasses, but it’s associated mainly with wild barley or Canadian Rye. Many pet owners have no idea how dangerous this innocent-looking, fuzzy grass can be to dogs and cats. Foxtail can cause serious injury, and can be life-threatening.

What makes foxtail grass so dangerous are the tiny barbed awns that allows it to attach to dogs, cats, your socks or other clothing. Grass seed is enclosed inside a sheath at the top of the plant and the awn is part of that. The purpose of the awn is to burrow the seed into the ground, but it’s also a means of transporting seeds to other areas. When hunting dogs, hiking canines and even cats go racing through grasses containing dried seeds, the awns get stuck to their coats, between their toes and pads, inhaled through the nose, or ingested. The wind can blow them onto your pet, as well.

Once on a dog or cat, these dagger-like awns move through their coat and can become embedded in the skin. Awns can move through the body to the lungs, colon, urethra, digestive tract, and any other part of the body. Left untreated, these nasty barbed spikes can cause serious infections and internal abscesses, and can turn deadly for some pets.

Because the awns are like tiny fish hooks, they move in just one direction through the body and can be difficult to remove once they’ve become embedded. They’re usually found in the nose, ears, paws, hind end and underbelly, but can be anywhere on your pet. Once an awn has gotten under the skin or entered the body, it’s powerful enough to penetrate the ear drum, work its way through a paw into a leg, or find its way into the lungs, other organs or the brain. The movement of the pet causes the awn to work through the coat and into the skin.

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It’s National Hairball Awareness Day! Yay?

By Julia Williams

It’s pretty much a given that if you have a cat, you don’t need a special day in April to make you aware of hairballs. Cat owners are, unfortunately, all too familiar with those awful things. I don’t think there’s any sound more wretched than the gagging noise a cat makes that signals a hairball is about to be deposited on your carpet.

That our cats never do the hairball hack on the linoleum is surely proof that they’ve all been carefully trained by someone other than us. (And you thought cats couldn’t be trained. Ha!). Ah yes, there it is…right there in chapter one of the Cat’s Handbook on How to Annoy Your Human.

Now, you might think it’s funny that, some years back, some unknown person declared the last Friday in April to be National Hairball Awareness Day. I would chuckle right along with you, except that hairballs are really no laughing matter. Aside from the carpet cleanup and the likelihood that sooner or later, you’re going to “find” a hairball with your bare foot, frequent hairballs could be a sign of trouble with your cat’s digestive system.

How frequent is too frequent? That depends upon who you ask. Some say even one hairball is one too many. For me, more than one every few months per cat would cause me to take a much more proactive approach. While I’m not sure you can ever completely eliminate hairballs, there are some things you can do to greatly minimize them (more on that later).

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