Cats FAQ

Why should I spay or neuter my cat(s)?

To prevent unwanted pregnancies. Female and male cats are neutered at around six months of age, but the surgery can be done even sooner to guard against unexpected pregnancies. Another benefit in both sexes is that the operation reduces aggressive behavior, and the “calling” of both sexes when they are in heat. Also, castration in males reduces the cat’s desire to spray urine-indoors and outdoors. Although females can be spayed when they’re pregnant, the associated surgery risks go up, so it’s best to do it before you-and she-get to that point.

What vaccinations does my cat need?

Cats should be vaccinated throughout their lifetimes for rabies, feline respiratory ailments and feline distemper. If your cat goes outside, or if it will ever have contact with another cat, you should ask your vet about the vaccination for the feline leukemia virus (FeLV), a contagious disease that can be fatal to cats who are frequently infected with it.

What are some common cat diseases and conditions?

Feline leukemia virus is a common contagious disease among cats and it’s spread via the saliva of an infected cat. Cats can be carriers of the virus and spread it without exhibiting symptoms themselves. Signs to watch for include lack of appetite, constipation/diarrhea or occasional vomiting or frequent bouts of gingivitis or upper-respiratory ailments. Feline distemper is a widespread virus among cats that is one of the species leading killers. Primary symptoms include severe vomiting and diarrhea. Rabies is another communicable virus that can be fatal. It’s usually contracted from a bite wound. Symptoms include drooling, and a change in behavior: your cat may become aggressive or friendlier.

Feline urologic syndrome (FUS) accounts for 10% of all cat hospital admissions. Symptoms associated with the disease are bloody urine, frequent urination, blockage of the urinary tract, and straining to urinate. Your cat may also become depressed or refuse to eat, or start to eliminate in inappropriate places if the disease is not diagnosed. If your cat is exhibiting any of the above symptoms, it should be evaluated by a veterinarian. The disease can be managed, may recur frequently, but if left untreated, can lead to serious health problems or death. Talk to your vet about vaccines and tests for these and other related conditions.

How can I tell if my cat is sick?

Look for signs, such as loss of appetite, eyes that are dull or have a discharge, a runny nose or skin that is losing elasticity, vomiting or diarrhea, straining at the litter box or inappropriate elimination.

Why is my cat soiling?

Cats may choose not to use the litter box for either a medical condition or a behavior pattern. If the reason is medical, the cat could be afflicted with feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). This condition is serious and veterinary intervention is necessary. Symptoms include inappropriate urination and the passing bloody urine. However, cats may also urinate or defecate outside the box for other reasons, including the location, size, or cleanliness of the litter box, the amount, texture or scent of the litter, or as reaction to a stressful situation, including the presence of another cat.

How will I know if my cat has worms or other internal parasites?

Internal parasites can live inside your cat and multiply so watch out for the warning signs of various bugs. Roundworms: loss of appetite, or a spaghetti-length worm found in fecal matter or in a pet’s vomit. Other indicators include soft stools, mucus in the stool, vomiting or diarrhea. Tapeworms: very common in cats, can be contracted from a flea. Worms appear as rice-like segments on the pet’s anus, in its fecal matter, or around areas where the animal spends a lot of time . A vet can examine your pet’s stool to verify the presence of the parasite, and the doctor can provide treatment. Ask your vet about other internal parasites.

How can I prevent hairballs?

You can’t really prevent hairballs, but there are things you can do to curtail the frequency. Groom your cat on a regular basis, and use a commerical hairball prevention product available at pet stores or through your veterinarian.

How often should I take my cat to the vet?

If you own a kitten you’ll be seeing a veterinarian a couple times initially, so that your pet can get an initial evaluation and set of shots, followed by booster vaccines and later, unless you intend to breed your cat, an operation for spaying (for females) or neutering (males). A normal adult cat should see the vet about once a year, for vaccine updates and a physical exam. If your cat is more elderly, you might want to see the vet with greater frequency (say, every three to six months), so that the cat can be evaluated for ailments that crop up with age.

What’s the best diet for my cat?

The best diet is one that’s nutritionally sound, has some variety and provides your cat with the components necessary to good health.

How can I tell if my cat is obese?

You should be able to tell by looking if your cat is overweight. But you should also have the cat weighed by a veterinarian, who can tell you exactly how much your pet weighs, as well as whether or not your animal needs to lose some weight.

Where should I place a litter box?

Keep it in a relatively private, but easily accessible location. Bear in mind that some cats will prefer an open litter box, while others enjoy the privacy of having a closed lid.

How long do cats live?

Cats can live for a long time. Cats that are 12 years old or more are classed as old.

How can I introduce a new cat to my older cat?

How long this process takes will depend upon the ages and personalities of the two cats. In some cases, the cats may have just a readily controlled tiff or two before they accept the inevitable. In other cases, it may take some time. If it looks like things are going to be problematic, take a gradual approach and pamper the resident cat so that it’s reassured of its importance in the house hierarchy. If necessary, put the new cat in a cage and introduce it to your cat in that manner until it appears that your cat is comfortable with its presence. Then you can try for a SUPERVISED face-to-face meeting, and take it from there.

What are some of the first signs of pregnancy in my cat?

The first sign that you can look for is some swelling, possible hair loss around them, and a change in the color of your queen’s nipple. These changes occur around the third or fourth week of pregnancy. The fetuses will also begin to take shape in the uterus, as round lumps, which can be felt. The queen doesn’t begin to show a bigger belly until the sixth or seventh week of pregnancy.

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