Animal Care Services

Cat Care

Cleaning your cat's ears

You will need cotton balls, a bottle of ear cleaner, a large bath towel, and ear medications if indicated by your veterinarian. You can restrain your cat by wrapping the large bath towel around him.

  • Hold on to the earflap and insert the tip of the bottle of ear cleaner into the ear canal and gently squeeze the fluid into the ear. For difficult cats, you may try holding the tips of both ears together.
  • Quickly fold the earflap over and gently massage the ear canal, moving the ear canal up and down to encourage the waxy debris to work out of the ear.
  • Place a towel over your cat’s head to catch the excess fluid when he shakes his head.
  • Wipe the excess fluid and debris out of the ear canal using the cotton balls. It is safe to clean visible crevasses with a Q-tip if needed.
  • Wait several hours after cleaning before using prescribed ear medications.
  • Praise your cat and reward him or her for good behavior with a favorite treat.

Cats and Litter boxes

Cats will instinctually use litter boxes and kittens typically litter train themselves. That being said, litter box training is not without its challenges, so here are a few suggestions to help make it easier:

  • Clean your litter boxes every day; cats are extremely clean animals and will not use a dirty box.
  • If your cat seems hesitant, try different types of unscented, clumpable litter, plain clay litter and different depths of litter in multiple boxes.
  • The rule of thumb is to have one more litter box than the number of cats in your home.
  • Senior cats may need a litter box on each floor if they have access to multiple floors.

When your cat suddenly stops using the litter box

Have your cat checked by a veterinarian right away if your cat stops using the litter box or seems to be missing the box, as this can indicate a medical or behavioral problem. Bring a stool sample for testing. If your veterinarian requests a urine sample, try the following method:

  • Empty a litter box and clean with hot, soapy water; dry it with a paper towel.
  • Fill a zip baggie with about 1 cup of litter and seal it; place it in the empty litter box.
  • Confine your cat and the litter box in a small room, such as a bathroom so that she must use this litter box.
  • Once she has used the litter box you should be able to pour the urine into a clean container for transport to your vet.

The litter in the baggie looks, sounds and feels like the litter your cat is accustomed to, however, it still may take time to get a urine sample. Cats have been known to hold their urine up to 24 hours if they are uncertain about their litter box. If you are still unable to get a urine sample, you may consider bringing your cat to the office with a full bladder.

Training your cat after an “accident”

  • Clean soiled areas with an odor neutralizer designed for cat accidents.
  • Ban your cat from previously soiled areas or place aluminum foil or an opened bar of Irish Spring soap over the spot for several weeks.
  • If your cat continues to avoid the litter box, you may need to confine her to a small room or a large dog crate with her bed, food, and litter box so she is forced to use the box.
  • Consider experimenting with litter types, scents and depth of the litter.
  • Consider adding an additional litter box to your house.
  • Be sure to clean all litter boxes daily.

Pilling your cat

Whenever possible, give your cats medication by hiding it in food they like to eat. You may crush the pill and hide it in a small amount of canned food or tuna juice and offer this to your cat at mealtime. For cats that are free fed, remove their regular food a few hours before offering the medicated food.

If your cat will not eat the food mixed with medicine, place the pill directly in your cat’s mouth by following these steps:

  • Restrain your cat by wrapping her in a big bath towel.
  • Grasp the top of her head with one hand by placing your fingers around the cheekbones.
  • Pull her nose upwards, causing her mouth to open slightly.
  • Hold the pill between the thumb and index finger of your other hand and use your ring finger and pinkie to gently push down on the lower jaw.
  • Place the pill at the back of your cat’s mouth and close it; gently stroke her throat or blow on her face to stimulate swallowing.
  • If you have a liquid medication, grasp your cat’s head the same way and place the filled eyedropper or syringe behind the canine teeth; slowly dribble the liquid into your cat’s mouth until she swallows.
  • Praise and reward your cat after giving any medication.

Cat Vaccines

Kittens will typically begin receiving vaccinations at six to eight weeks and then at continuing intervals as recommended by your veterinarian until one year to 16 months. Adult cats receive needed vaccinations annually at their well check. The rabies vaccination is required by law in Ohio, as this virus is fatal to all mammals, including humans.

Essential vaccinations

  • Rabies – Given at 3 to 6 months; booster at 1 year, then every 3 years.
  • Feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (FVRCP) – Given at about 8 weeks and boostered three times at one-month intervals, then given annually.

May be recommended

  • Chlamydia – A bacterial infection that causes conjunctivitis; may be given as part of the FVRCP (FVRCP-C).
  • Feline leukemia – A fatal viral infection transmitted through close contact; essential for cats that go outdoors.
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus – Viral infection transmitted through close contact; recommended for outdoor cats.
  • Bordetella – A contagious upper respiratory infection; vaccine recommended for cats that frequent boarding kennels or groomers.

Feline Idiopathic/Interstitial Cystitis

Idiopathic Cystitis or Interstitial Cystitis is one of many medical issues that fall under feline lower urinary tract diseases. Veterinarians encourage cat owners to be vigilant when it comes to their pets’ litter box habits, as cats are extremely susceptible to urinary problems.

Idiopathic Cystitis actually references an inflammation of the bladder with unknown origin. Symptoms include:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Painful or frequent urination
  • Straining to urinate or crying in the litter box
  • Urinating outside the litter box, especially on flat, cool surfaces such as tile or linoleum
  • Inability to urinate–male cats are more susceptible to blockage

If your cat exhibits any of these symptoms, he should be checked by a veterinarian immediately. In cases of more severe symptoms, your vet will rule out such conditions as infection, tumors, kidney disease and bladder stones before giving a diagnosis of Idiopathic Cystitis. Once diagnosed, it’s important to watch your cat carefully, as many will seem better for a time, then have the condition recur. Cats with inflammatory bladder also may develop crystals, which will obstruct or plug the urethra and prevent your cat from urinating. If this occurs, see your vet immediately.

Experts believe that anxiety may be a contributor to a cat’s susceptibility to bladder inflammation. This can include anything from introducing a new cat to a household to dirty litter boxes to a sudden diet change. Whether your cat suffers from Idiopathic Cystitis or not, the following suggestions are likely to keep your cat healthier and happier.

  • Maintain a consistent diet of a quality cat food; use a prescription formula for urinary tract health if your cat exhibits symptoms of inflammatory bladder.
  • Clean litter boxes daily and maintain a sufficient number for the number of cats in your house.
  • Playful exercise may reduce stress.
  • Keep food, water, and litter boxes in a quiet, well-ventilated room where noises are not likely to startle your cat.
  • Keep fresh water accessible at all times; encourage your cat to drink by using a pet fountain.
  • Choose canned food, which has greater water content than dry, if your cat can tolerate it.
  • Do not punish your cat for accidents, as this only increases his stress level.

While symptoms of Feline Idiopathic Cystitis will usually resolve without treatment in five to seven days, gauging your cat’s level of discomfort and possibility of blockage is key in his or her recovery. Veterinarians also understand that it is difficult to wait if your cat seems uncomfortable. We encourage you to have your cat checked if you are concerned and we can discuss treatment options that may help manage your cat’s symptoms and improve stress levels in his environment.

Introducing a New Cat Into The Household

Introducing a new pet to your current pets can be stressful for all. It is especially difficult for cats, who can be finicky about companions, environment, sound and smells. We suggest the following steps to help in the transition.

The first two weeks

  • If you do not know the history of your new cat, quarantine her to one room with food, water, and a litter box to protect your other pets from disease. Two weeks is the incubation period for most contagious viruses.
  • If possible, keep the new cat on the same diet she was eating at her previous home. Changes to a cat’s diet should be done gradually, over seven to 10 days, to reduce stress.
  • Use of a pheromone spray such as Comfort Zone or Feliway may reduce stress for all cats in the household.
  • As soon as possible, bring your new cat to a veterinarian for a general health check and testing for intestinal worms, Feline Leukemia, Feline Aids, fleas and ear mites.

Day 15 and beyond

  • Once a day confine your pets to one room and let the new cat out to explore the house. This allows the cats to adjust to each other’s scents before they meet face to face. Continue this for a few days or until none of the cats hiss or growl after encountering the new scents. It should take no more than two weeks for them to adjust.
  • The first face to face meeting should be brief. Put the new cat in a cage or a carrier to protect her and place the carrier where all the cats can see each other. There will likely be some hissing and growling. Continue this a few times a day until they accept it calmly.
  • Outside of the face to face meetings, take time to hold the new cat a few times a day to allow your other cats to get used to her scent on you.
  • The next step is placing all the cats in the same room together while supervised. Include food (at opposite ends of the room) and catnip to make this a positive and happy experience. End the visit if they growl at each other. Initial visits will likely be very brief.
  • The new cat will need to be confined to her room any time the cats are left alone or unsupervised until all the cats are consistently getting along well.

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