Ringworms

Ringworm

Ringworm (dermatophytosis) is a fungal infection that can affect the hair, skin or nails of cats, dogs and humans. It is the most common contagious skin infection in cats. In humans, the infection often causes classic ring-like lesions, but these are seen less commonly in cats and dogs. In most patients, ringworm is self-limiting; that is, it will self cure over time. However, because this infection can be transmitted from cats and dogs to other animals and also to people, every pet owner should be aware of the symptoms, transmission and treatment of ringworm.

Where is the fungus found? 
Several different fungi found throughout the world can cause ringworm, however, the vast majority of cases in cats and dogs are caused by Microsporum canis, Microsporum gypseum, or Trichophyton species. The fungus is most commonly found either on an infected animal or in the living quarters of infected animals. Spores from infected animals can be shed into the environment and live for up to 24 months. Humid, warm environments encourage growth of the fungus. Spores can be on brushes, bedding, furniture, or anything that has been in contact with an infected animal or the animal’s hair. Cats can be asymptomatic carriers and harbor and shed the organism without showing signs of infection. Animals thought to be chronic carriers can be routinely cultured to determine if they are actual carriers.

How is ringworm transmitted? 
Ringworm can be transmitted by direct contact with fungal spores. These spores can be found on a infected animal, on infected grooming equipment or brushes, in a contaminated boarding facility or cattery, or in the environment where an infected animal has visited. Because ringworm spores can survive for long periods in the environment your cat can contract ringworm from just about anywhere other dogs or cats have been. Fortunately, most healthy adult cats have some natural resistance to ringworm and never develop symptoms from the fungus. Young cats under a year old are most often infected. Cats with a suppressed immune system from diseases or overuse of steroids are also more susceptible to contracting the disease. Senior cats, free-roaming cats, and those who are under stress, malnourished or have other diseases such as parasites or viral infections also appear to be at increased risk. In addition, genetic factors may play a role, as Persians appear to be more susceptible to ringworm.

What are the signs of ringworm? 
Cats with ringworm may have skin lesions which can appear different depending on where they occur and how long they have been present. The classic symptom is a small round lesion that is devoid of hair. The lesion will often have scaly skin in the center. Small are often found in the lesion. The lesion may start as a small spot and continue to grow in size. The lesion may or may not be irritated and itchy. Lesions are most common on the head, ears, and tail. In some infections, the fungus will not be in a circle and can spread across the face, lips, chin, or nose and look like an autoimmune disease or other generalized skin disease. Occasionally, the infection will occur over the entire body and create a generalized scaly or greasy skin condition. Hair loss may be mild or severe. In some cases the first sign may be excessive shedding, and hairballs may occur when large parts of the body are affected. Scratching at the ears is also common. Ringworm can also occur in the nails, often causing them to grow malformed.

How is ringworm diagnosed?
Ringworm cannot be diagnosed by simply looking at a lesion, but at least one of several testing methods must be used. One method is through the use of a specialized black light called a Wood’s lamp. Several species of the ringworm fungus will glow a fluorescent color when exposed to a Wood’s lamp. However, it is estimated that up to half of the most common species of M. canis do not fluoresce under a Wood’s lamp, and T. mentagrophytes does not fluoresce. Other substances may fluoresce and cause a false positive reading. In addition, a healthy animal may have spores on his coat but may not have an active infection. So, this is not the most accurate method.

Another method for identifying ringworm is to pluck hairs from the periphery of the lesion and examine them under the microscope. Between 40% and 70% of the infections can be diagnosed this way.

The most reliable way to identify a ringworm infection is by collecting scales and crust from the skin and coat and performing a fungalculture. Your veterinarian will commonly use a toothbrush to collect the sample of hair and scales from the cat to culture. There are special culture mediums designed specifically for identifying ringworm infections. Your local veterinarian can easily perform this routine culture.

Cats with ringworm should always be evaluated for underlying disease(s) that may have made them more at risk for this fungal infection.

How is ringworm treated?
In healthy shorthaired kittens and cats with small isolated lesions, the lesion is often treated with a topical cream containing an antifungal such as miconazole or thiabendazole. In addition, it is important to treat any underlying conditions, provide good nutrition, and prevent the spread to other animals and humans.

In more severe cases, a combination of oral and topical treatments is generally used. Often the lesions are clipped so the topical treatment can reach the skin. Many veterinary dermatologists feel that all longhaired cats must be shaved completely to achieve any success with ringworm treatment. Care should be taken not to irritate the skin when clipping, as this may cause the infection to spread. Also, realize that the clipped hair, clippers, and any grooming instruments that come into contact with an infected animal will harbor the spores and must be heat or chemically sterilized before being used on any other animal. The recommended topical treatment is lime sulfur dips. These dips have a bad odor and can temporarily turn the coat a yellowish color, but they are extremely effective and should be used if recommended by your veterinarian.

Alternatives to lime sulfur dips include miconazole shampoos and rinses, and enilconazole (available in some countries). Oral antifungal agents are generally recommended for any cat with severe generalized lesions, for longhaired cats, and in cases where the nails are infected. Oral antifungal agents may also be recommended when there is no response to topical therapy after 2-4 weeks of treatment. Itraconazole is the preferred drug of choice, and terbafine may also be used. Griseofulvin is another alternative, but has a higher risk of adverse effects.

Treatment is generally continued until there have been two negative cultures a week apart.

Some veterinarians have recommended using Program® (the once-a-month flea pill) at a higher dose to treat ringworm in cats, but it has been shown to be ineffective against ringworm.

How can ringworm be controlled in the environment?
Because the ringworm fungus can survive for such long periods in the environment, it is critical that an effective cleaning plan be used in all infections. Spores are very light and are carried in the air, so wherever there is dust and hair, there may be spores. Whenever cleaning, avoid sweeping and other types of cleaning that may actually spread spores through the air. Vacuuming, damp mopping and using a Swifter-type mop are generally recommended. Carpets should be steam cleaned and disinfected. Heating and cooling ducts and furnaces should be professionally vacuumed and filters replaced if a culture from the ducts comes back positive. Furniture and drapes should be vacuumed and the vacuum cleaner bags should be disposed of promptly. Housing units that contain wood or rusty metal should be re-painted. After vacuuming or mopping, clean with water and a detergent solution. Then, use bleach diluted to 1:10 with water and left on for at least 10 minutes to kill most of the organisms. All grooming tools, bedding, kennels, cat carriers, and cages should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with bleach, as well.

How can ringworm be controlled in catteries?
Some of the most difficult cases of ringworm come from catteries or small breeders, particularly those with Persian or Himalayans. Eliminating ringworm from these units can take months to years of diligent treatment. Remember that it will take a complete commitment to properly eliminate ringworm from a cattery. The owner must be willing to devote a large amount of time and make some difficult decisions if success in treatment is to be achieved.

There are several different approaches to controlling and eliminating ringworm in a cattery. The first approach includes total depopulation of the cattery, decontamination of the facility, and repopulating with only animals that test negative on three consecutive cultures performed at two-week intervals. The second approach is to treat the entire colony and facilities with appropriate topical medications, systemic therapy, and environmental cleanup. The colony is isolated and breeding and showing are interrupted. The third option would be to treat only infected kittens. This third option is only suitable for a breeder that produces kittens for the pet cat market and usually is not recommended for most breeders. Breeders will need to work very closely with their veterinarian to develop the best program for their facility.

Cultures should be performed on new cats coming into the cattery or returning from a show or a breeding. They should be quarantined and dipped once with lime sulfur. Since dogs and humans can carry ringworm into a cattery, both human and canine visitors should be kept at a minimum.

How is ringworm prevented?
Ringworm is a disease where an ounce of prevention is truly worth more than a pound of cure. If you have cats in your home, be very careful about bringing a new kitten into your household. Cat shows, kennels, and grooming facilities can also be a source of infection and caution should be used when exposing your cat to these places. Breeders of Persians and Himalayans need to be especially cautious about bringing any new animal that has not been cultured into their facility. If any sign of ringworm is seen, make sure you isolate the infected cat and seek prompt veterinary attention.

Is ringworm transmissible to people?
Yes. Ringworm can be transmitted between cats and people. Persons with suppressed immune systems, such as those with HIV infections or AIDS, and those undergoing chemotherapy may be especially vulnerable. Persons should wear gloves when handling affected animals and wash hands well afterwards. If you contract ringworm, treat with an OTC anti-fungal, such as Lotrimin.

Plants Poisonous to Cats

Poisonous Plants

Provided by The Animal Planet

Some plants are more toxic than others, so we suggest that you be particularly aware of the dangers associated with these common houseplants.

  • Lillies (Lilium spp). Although the toxin involved has not been identified, one bite of a leaf or a taste of the pollen from a plant in the lily family can cause lethargy and vomiting within 12 hours of ingestion. If not treated, your cat may go into kidney failure.
  • Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta). Once exclusively an outdoor plant, the sago palm has recently begun making an appearance on windowsills and coffee tables. The entire plant is poisonous to cats, but the seed pod, sometimes called the nut, contains the greatest amount of toxin. Just a few nibbles can cause vomiting, diarrhea and even seizures. If left untreated, cats can experience liver failure.
  • Calcium Oxalate plants. These include dieffenbachia, philodendrons and Chinese evergreens to name just a few. Insoluble calcium oxalate, microscopic crystals that look like needles, is present throughout these plants. One bite and the needle-like crystals shoot into a cat’s gums and tongue. Symptoms include drooling and vomiting. To reduce irritation, give your cat goat milk or other calcium-containing substances, such as yogurt. If enough mouth swelling occurs, breathing could become difficult, but this is rare.
  • Dracaena. Over 40 species are included in this family of popular houseplants, including the red-edged Dracaena, the dragon plant, and the Dracaena Janet Craig. Cats that eat the long, skinny fronds that are typical in the Dracaena plant family will vomit, sometimes with blood, become depressed and lose their appetites. Kittens can get a little wobbly and appear to be drunk. Luckily, these plants are not usually lethal and symptoms should disappear in 12 to 24 hours.
  • If your cat decides a houseplant is put to much better use as food than as decoration, your first step should be to call your vet. She will want to know what plant ended up in your cat’s stomach. Use a smartphone or digital camera to take a close-up picture of the plant and email it to your veterinarian for identification. If you’re not sure which plant your cat has gotten into, get your pet to your vet as quickly as possible so that the vet can observe any symptoms for clues.

    If the plant is toxic, your vet may suggest inducing vomiting at home or giving your cat activated charcoal capsules. Activated charcoal, which can be purchased at a pharmacy, binds to toxins while still in the stomach, preventing absorption into the blood stream.

    It’s a good idea to have activated charcoal on hand for emergencies, but you should never attempt any home remedy without contacting your veterinarian first. Making a cat vomit or swallow pills can be tricky, and activated charcoal capsules are not as concentrated as the liquid version used by veterinarians. Getting to the vet should be your priority. If something as toxic as a lily is ingested, expect your cat to be placed on intravenous fluids for a couple of days to flush out the toxins.

    The ASPCA’s Web site has a comprehensive list of toxic and non-toxic plants. The center is also staffed with veterinarians available to answer questions if you suspect your cat has ingested a poisonous substance. The 24-hour emergency poison hotline number is 1-888-426-4435. A fee is required but may be well worth it for your peace of mind or your cat’s life.

     

    Nail Trimming 101

    Nail Trimming 101

    Provided by ASPCA

    Make manicures enjoyable and easy for both you and your cat
    Does your kitty disappear when the clippers come out? Do you have to wrap her in a towel to give her a manicure? According to our behavior experts, calm, enjoyable nail-trimming sessions are not only possible—that’s how they should always be! Check out the following tips for getting kitty to relax while you trim, turning nail-clipping sessions into enjoyable together time.

    Setting the Mood
    Ideally you should introduce your cat to nail clipping when she’s a kitten. Choose a chair in a quiet room where you can comfortably sit your cat on your lap. Get her when she’s relaxed and even sleepy, like in her groggy, after-meal state. Take care that she isn’t able to spy any birds, wild animals or action outside nearby windows—and make sure no other pets are around.

    Make Friends with the Paw
    Gently take one of your cat’s paws between your fingers and massage for no longer than the count of three. If your cat pulls her paw away, don’t squeeze or pinch, just follow her gesture, keeping in gentle contact. When she’s still again, give her pad a little press so that the nail extends out, then release her paw and immediately give her a treat. Do this every other day on a different toe until you’ve gotten to know all ten.

    Get Acquainted with the Clipper
    Your cat should be at ease with the sound of the clippers before you attempt to trim her nails. Sit her on your lap, put a piece of uncooked spaghetti into the clippers and hold them near your cat. (If she sniffs the clippers, set a treat on top of them for her to eat.) Next, while massaging one of your cat’s toes, gently press her toe pad. When the nail extends, clip the spaghetti with the clippers while still holding your cat’s paw gently. Now release her toe and quickly give her a treat.

    Never Cut to the Quick 
    The pink part of a cat’s nail, called the quick, is where the nerves and blood vessels are. Do NOT cut this sensitive area. Snip only the white part of the claw. It’s better to be cautious and cut less of the nail rather than risk cutting this area. If you do accidentally cut the quick, any bleeding can be stopped with a styptic powder or stick. It’s a good idea to keep it nearby while you trim.

    Time to Clip
    With your cat in your lap facing away from you, take one of her toes in your hand, massage and press the pad until the nail extends. Check to see how much of a trim her nails need and notice where the quick begins. Now trim only the sharp tip of one nail, release your cat’s toe and quickly give her a treat. If your cat didn’t notice, clip another nail, but don’t trim more than two claws in one sitting until your cat is comfortable. Be sure to reward her with a special treat afterward. Please note, you may want to do just one paw at a time for the first couple of sessions.

    Clipping Schedule
    A nail-trimming every ten days to two weeks is a nice routine to settle into. If your cat refuses to let you clip her claws, ask your vet or a groomer for help.

    What Not to Do

  • If your cat resists, don’t raise your voice or punish her.
  • Never attempt a clipping when your cat is agitated or you’re upset. And don’t rush—you may cut into the quick.
  • Don’t try to trim all of your cat’s claws at one time.
  • Do NOT declaw. This surgery involves amputating the end of a cat’s toes and is highly discouraged by SNAP Cats. Instead, trim regularly, provide your cat with appropriate scratching posts and ask your veterinarian about soft plastic covers for your cat’s claws.
  • Feeding Your Cat

    Feeding Your Cat

    Provided by the Cornell Feline Health Center, Cornell University

    Because nutrition is one of the most important keys to your cat’s health and longevity, one of your most important responsibilities as a cat owner is to provide your cat with the necessary nutrients required for its growth and maintenance. To do this, it is first necessary to understand what cats need in their diet.

    Obligate Carnivores’ Nutritional Requirements
    Cats are obligate carnivores and are very different from dogs – and people – in their nutritional needs. What does it mean to be an obligate carnivore? It means that cats are strict carnivores that rely on nutrients in animal tissue to meet their specific nutritional requirements. In their natural habitat, cats are hunters that consume prey high in protein with moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates. Cats also require more than a dozen nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids. These nutrients are the building blocks of various structural body tissues; are essential for chemical reactions (metabolism, catabolism); transport substances into, around, and out of the body; supply energy for growth and maintenance; and provide palatability.

    The important thing to remember about nutrients, particularly vitamins and minerals, is that your cat needs the correct amount-but no more. It is possible to have “too much of a good thing” when it comes to vitamins and minerals; the use of supplements not only is unnecessary but also can be potentially dangerous to your pet’s health. A key point to remember is that cats are neither small dogs nor people. Because of cats’ unique metabolism, what might be good for you might be detrimental to your cat. A high-quality cat food assures an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals in your cat’s diet; supplements should never be added without a veterinarian’s approval. Another important nutrient with respect to overall health is water. Water helps regulate body temperature, digest food, eliminate waste, lubricate tissue, and allow salt and other electrolytes to pass through the body. You should provide your cat with clean, fresh water at all times.

    What Types of Commercial Cat Food are Available?
    Commercial cat foods are formulated as dry, semi-moist, and canned. These products differ in water content, protein level, caloric density, palatability, and digestibility. The differences are primarily attributable to the processing methods used by pet food manufacturers.

    Dry Food
    Dry food contains 6 to 10 percent moisture. Depending on the specific formulation, meats or meat byproducts, poultry or poultry byproducts, grain, grain byproducts, fish meal, fiber sources, milk products, and vitamin and mineral supplements are combined, extruded, and dried into bite-sized pieces. The pieces are then covered with flavor enhancers, such as animal fat, which give them increased palatability. The primary advantages of dry cat food are lower cost and convenience in allowing “free choice” feeding. However, dry food may be less palatable to a cat, and, depending on the types and quality of the ingredients, may also be less digestible than moist food. If you do use dry food, it is important to store unused portions in a cool, dry location, and not to use the food after its expiration date (which is printed on the container). Often owners buy large amounts of dry food that can sometimes last for 3 to 6 months; therefore, checking the expiration date before feeding it to your cat is very important. Lengthy storage decreases the activity and potency of many vitamins and increases the likelihood that fats have become rancid. Storing dry cat food in an airtight container can help prevent nutrient deterioration and help maintain palatability.

    Semi-Moist Food
    Semi-moist food contains approximately 35 percent moisture and often resembles ground- or whole meat tidbits. Meat and meat byproducts are the primary ingredients. They are combined with soybean meal, cereals, grain byproducts, and preservatives. The cost is generally mid-range, and these foods may be more appealing than dry cat food to some cats. Semi-moist food can also be fed free choice. However, after the package is opened, palatability decreases and spoilage increases because of dehydration.

    Canned Food
    Canned cat food has a moisture content of at least 75 percent, making it a good dietary source of water. It is generally the most expensive type of cat food, but it also is highly palatable to most cats, and different varieties are plentiful, which can be helpful if your cat is a finicky eater. Canned food has the longest shelf life when unopened, but any unused portion of opened canned cat food should be refrigerated to maintain quality and prevent spoilage. Gourmet canned cat foods generally feature meats, such as kidney or liver, and whole meat byproducts as primary food ingredients. Some brands, however, may be nutritionally incomplete, and it is important to read the nutrition labels carefully on such specialty cat-food items to ensure that they have a nutritional guarantee.

    How Do I Choose a Food for My Cat?
    High-quality commercially prepared cat foods have been scientifically developed to give your cat the correct balance of nutrients and calories. Basic minimum nutritional requirements for cats have been established by the Feline Nutrition Expert (FNE) Subcommittee of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO), and pet-food manufacturers use these standards in producing cat foods.

    When you’re shopping for a healthy food for your cat, reading the nutrition label on the packages is the best way to compare foods. Pet-food manufacturers are required to supply certain nutrition information on the package. Labeling regulations are established by the AAFCO (www.aafco.org) and the United States Food and Drug Administration. All pet foods that carry an AAFCO approved nutritional guarantee, often referred to as the “AAFCO statement,” are considered to be complete and balanced. These standards were formulated in the early 1990s by panels of experts on canine and feline nutrition. A food may be certified in two ways: (1) by meeting AAFCO’s published standards for content, or (2) by passing feeding tests or trials. Most researchers agree that feeding tests are superior in assessing the nutritional adequacy of a food.

    Throughout a cat’s life, there are stages in which the cat requires different nutrients. These stages include kittenhood, adulthood, pregnancy, and lactation. The nutritional claim on the cat-food label should state the stage of a cat’s life cycle for which the food is a complete and balanced product. It should also state that it meets the requirements of the AAFCO. Feeding a cat a product that does not have a nutritional claim on the label cannot guarantee a complete and balanced diet for the animal. Often owners will find products that say they have been formulated for “all life stages,” which simplifies things for owners with multiple cats of different ages or circumstances.

    In choosing a cat food, it is also important to read the ingredients list. This names all items used in the product, including flavor enhancers, artificial colors, and preservatives. The items are listed in order of decreasing proportional weight. Meat, meat byproducts, or seafood should be listed among the first few ingredients, because that indicates that the food probably contains enough animal-source ingredients to supply essential amino acids and essential fatty acids. Nonetheless, addition of some nutrients (e.g., the amino acid taurine, and B vitamins, including thiamine and niacin) may be necessary to offset the fiber content of the diet or degradation of nutrients that occurs during the manufacturing process.

    Once you have determined that a food is complete and balanced, choosing between the types of food may be a matter of what your cat prefers. Some cats like canned food, some like dry food, and some like a combination of the two. Today’s market offers many well-formulated foods for cats at all life stages, so you can choose the ones that work best for your cat.

    What About Homemade Diets?
    Formulating your own cat food is a difficult and time-consuming process. Also, the nutrients in the formula may not be available in the right quantities and proportions to be beneficial to your cat. It is usually recommended that cat owners use a commercial nutritionally balanced product, unless a veterinarian recommends a home-formulated recipe for medical purposes. Often these recipes come from published sources and are created by veterinarians certified in animal nutrition.

    Can I Give My Cat Treats?
    Giving your cat a treat from time to time isn’t going to do any harm, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Treats should only be fed occasionally. They should not be a steady diet for your cat, because they lack the proper proportion of basic nutrients a cat requires to maintain its health. A rule of thumb is not to let treats exceed 10 to 15 percent of the cat’s daily diet. Also, some foods should be avoided entirely. Although raw meat is an excellent source of many nutrients, it is not recommended as a food or a treat for cats, because it is a potential vehicle for toxoplasmosis and other infectious diseases. Some cats that have consumed canned fish products meant for humans have developed deadly neurological disorders. Also, milk is not generally recommended as a treat for cats. Adult cats fed a nutritious diet don’t need milk, and many cats are lactose-intolerant, which means that the lactose in milk and milk products can cause stomach upset.

    What Else Do I Need to Consider?
    Environmental conditions can affect a cat’s eating habits. For example, heavy-traffic areas, noise, the presence of other animals, dirty food containers, or nearby litter boxes can deter a cat from eating. Try to be sensitive to your cat’s eating behavior, and make necessary adjustments to provide optimum feeding conditions.

    Also remember that cats vary greatly in characteristics such as the amount of food they need to consume to ensure optimal weight and health maintenance. Be careful not to overfeed your cat. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which is the most common nutrition-related problem in cats. An overweight cat is prone to other health problems such as diabetes and arthritis. Commercial pet foods formulated to help cats lose weight are available. Ask your veterinarian to help you determine the ideal body weight for your cat, and follow your veterinarian’s suggestions on how to adjust your cat’s diet to attain and maintain that weight.

    Although many cats are content to eat a single product, some cats may develop finicky eating habits and become very selective about what foods they’ll accept. Feeding your cat two or three different cat foods provides flavor variety, and may prevent your cat from developing an exclusive preference for a single food, so that if a medical condition dictates a change in diet, your cat may have an easier time adjusting.

    Also remember that not eating can lead to serious medical problems in cats. This is true for sick cats that lack an appetite, for cats on a diet, and for the finicky cat that refuses to eat. A veterinarian should examine any cat that refuses to eat and is losing weight.

    Diets for Obese Cats

    Diet Tips for Obese Cats
    One of the major concerns for all cat owners to watch out for is their cat gaining too much weight. Obesity in pets is becoming more visible and as a good cat owner you want to take care of your cat’s health. This article will provide some tips for obese cats.

    You may be asking why I should be concerned about my cat being overweight. For starters, you may not know which foods are best to feed your cat and how many treats you should give your pet during training sessions. Diet tips for obese cats will provide you with this information so you can have a healthier pet.

    The following topics will be covered: why is obesity dangerous for pets, how can I know if my cat is overweight, facts about feeding cats, establish a regular feeding time, and how are treats different from normal cat food.

    Why Is Obesity Dangerous For Cats?
    Just as obesity is dangerous for humans, it is also for cats. The extra pounds can weight in on their cardiovascular and respiratory systems, exacerbating existing conditions and may cause new ones. Fat pets are prone to injury, more at risk in surgery, and open to other conditions such as diabetes. A list of additional problems is; decreased stamina, diminished immune function, and digestive disorders are consequences of an overweight cat.

    If your cat is severely overweight it can diminish your pet’s quality of life. It is important that you, as the owner, control your pet’s intake of food and treats.

    How Can I Know If My Cat Is Overweight?
    Here is an interesting fact, between 25 to 40 percent of cats are obese or are likely to become obese. So, what can I do about it? Good question. So, here is how you can take action now:

    Monitor your cat’s weight. They don’t get overweight overnight. Keep a close eye on them. Be sure to have your pet exercise daily. Failure to keep your pets weight under control may cause your cat to be a higher risk for diabetes, arthritis and other health related conditions.

    Here is how you can know if your pet is overweight when you gently press down as you are petting her. If you are not able to feel her ribs, consider taking her to the veterinarian for an exam. When any underlying medical causes are ruled out, your veterinarian can help you develop a proper nutrition and exercise program to remove the excess weight.

    Facts About Feeding Cats
    Just as humans require a healthy balanced diet, so do cats. As a cat owner, you can provide your pet with the best quality cat food that has all of the nutrients your pet requires together with a high level of palatability. Do not add any human food to your cat’s diet. Doing so may upset the nutrients of a balanced diet.

    Milk. Here is a little known fact; milk is not a substitute for water. As a food, it’s incomplete and does not provide a balanced diet. Milk contains lactose and requires lactase to break it down in the pet’s intestine. Too much milk can cause diarrhea.

    Raw eggs. Repeatedly giving your cat raw eggs can cause a deficiency of the vitamin biotin which can cause a loss of hair, dermatitis, and poor growth. Restrict this item in your pet’s diet.

    Raw fish. Some raw fish can cause a deficiency of the vitamin thiamine. Signs of this vitamin deficiency include anorexia, abnormal posture, weakness, seizures, and even death.

    Raw meats. Most cat owners think that giving your cat meat is good for them. Usually raw meat does not contain all of the nutrients for a balanced diet. This must be added. Also, raw meat may contain parasites, and cooked meats can be high in fat and do not contain a proper balanced diet. I would stay away from giving your pet raw meat to eat.

    Raw liver. Raw liver fed in large quantities, can cause vitamin A toxicity in cats. Small soft bones, pork chop and chicken bones, should never be given to cats. They may lodge in the cat’s mouth or throat.

    Table scraps. Table scraps will not provide your pet with the proper nutrition your pet requires. Best advice is never to feed your cat table scraps. Once you start, it is very difficult to stop. So, don’t start.

    Supplements. Supplements are not required when a normal healthy cat is being fed a complete and balanced diet. A balanced diet can be found in the pet food you are feeding your cat. The same is true for additional minerals. You can find this with high quality cat food. Be a good shopper and provide your pet with the best quality cat food so you don’t have to purchase supplements.

    Establish a Regular Feeding Time
    This is important for your pet’s digestive health and regular bowel movements. The first step is to determine the correct quantity of food required to maintain a healthy weight. Next, is to establish a regular routine time for feeding your pet. Knowing when your cat will be hungry will assist you when you plan training sessions. Part of your pet’s meal will include treats or rewards.

    How Are Treats Different From Normal Cat Food?
    Everyone one likes to have a treat once in a while. So does your pet. But, what is the difference between a treat and dry cat food? Cat food is higher in nutrition than treats. However, if you want to reward your kitty with a different flavor or texture, than a treat is the ticket. They are like desserts and should be given sparingly.

    Cat food is higher in protein and should make up the bulk of your pet’s diet. Some treats can be nutritional, so read the labels before making your selection. If you offer tidbits that are different from their meals, it will add to your cat’s pleasure, making training more successful. This will also help build a strong bond between owner and pet.

    Treats should not be more than 10% of your cat’s total diet for the day. You will need to watch out here because giving your pet too much treats can be a cause for obesity.

    By following the above diet tips for obese cats will help your pet to stay healthy and have a longer life.

    Bringing Home a New Kitten

    Bringing Home A New Kitty

    Going to a new home is one of the most stressful and frightening experiences in a cat’s or kitten’s life. It’s compared to the stress we would experience if our home burned down, we were forced from our jobs, and our friends and family disappeared – all in the same day. Some cats adapt readily to their new homes and are contentedly purring away in their new owners’ laps in a few hours, while others takes days or weeks. Regardless of whether your new pet comes from a shelter or a loving foster home, it will find you and your home strange and frightening. You can minimize the stress your new kitty experiences if you follow a few simple rules:

    1. Your new kitty should spend at least its first day and night in its own room (and at least a week if you have other cats/dogs. See #4 below). This can be any quiet room in your home – a bedroom or bathroom with a closed window is ideal. It should also be a room that you can spend a lot of time in to help the kitty transition. Being in its own room will allow the kitty to become accustomed to the sounds and smells in your home without the additional stress of confronting a complex physical environment. Place a litter box, bed, scratching post, food and water in this room. And make sure there is a place for the kitty to hide, i.e. under a bed, behind a chair, etc. And make sure the room is clean and void of anything the kitty could hurt itself on/with. Have all of this set up before bringing in your new kitty. Bring in the carrier containing your kitty, close the door to the room, and open the carrier. Allow the kitty to come out of the carrier on its own. DO NOT force the kitty out. If the kitty doesn’t want to come out when you’re in the room, leave the room for a while, then come back in to see if the kitty has left the carrier. If not, leave the kitty in the carrier with the carrier door open.

    This room is where the new kitty will stay until it’s ready to meet the rest of your home. You play with it in this room, introduce other family members to it in this room, and never take it out of this room for any reason. And never let other pets into this room while the new kitty is acclimating to it room.

    2. When left alone the kitty may cry anxiously. You can comfort it by talking to it quietly, petting it gently, and if it doesn’t seem too frightened, picking it up and holding it in you lap.

    3. If you have small children, it’s especially important that they leave the kitty alone during this time. Because small children make sudden loud noises and movements, they’re particularly terrifying to cats. Introduce children gradually. Ideally these visits should occur when the child is in a quiet, attentive mood. Tell the child, “We’re going to visit the new kitty now. We have to be very quiet and gentle, and move very slowly, so that the kitty will learn to trust us.”

    4. How soon you let the kitty out to see the rest of your home depends on the kitty and whether or not you have other pets. If you have no other pets, your new kitty is ready to come out of its room when you walk into the room and it’s no longer fearful of you, i.e. comes up to you to be pet, held, etc. If you have another cat, your new kitty should remain in its room for at least five-to-seven days, so they can get acquainted with each other by smelling each other under the door. The room will smell like the new kitty, and your other cat will treat the room as the newcomer’s territory. Your new kitty will thus have refuge when you finally open the door and let the cats meet face-to-face for the first time. If you have a dog, never leave the new kitty alone with the dog unsupervised. We have more information about introducing a new kitty to your dog.

    5. Once your kitty is ready to come out of its room, simply open the door and let it explore outside on it’s own pace. Never pick it up and carry it out. Never force it out. Let you new kitty explore on its own. And, once the kitty is out of the room exploring, NEVER close the door to the room behind it. If the kitty gets scared or startled, it’ll run back into the room to hide. If it can’t get back into its room it’ll scare the kitty even more.

    6. Once you observe that your new kitty only goes back into its room to eat, drink and use the litter box, you can then move its food and box to a permanent location. Make sure that your kitty knows where you moved its food and box. This can simply be done by picking your new kitty up and placing it next to the food/water and box. Never place your kitty in the litter box. This will scare it.

    7. Other tips:

    a. If you plan on feeding your new kitty a different type of food than it was previously eating, make the transition after the new kitty has acclimated to it’s room. It doesn’t need anymore stress in the first few days.
    b. If you plan to let your new kitty outside (not recommended unless you have a lot of property), don’t let it out for at least a month after bringing it home and/or it’s six months old. You want to make sure that your new kitty understands that your home is its new home. If it doesn’t understand this, once let outside, it’ll try to find the place from which you adopted it. And at six months old, your new kitty will be big enough to handle itself outside with other animals/cats.

    The confinement technique described here will avoid many problems such as failure of your kitty to find the litter box, running out the front door before the kitty recognizes you and your home as its new home, and hiding in places where you might not want it to (like under the washer). Your patience will be rewarded, and your new kitty who cowered under your bed for a week will become a loving family member who greets you at the door, brings you gifts (a catnip mouse, perhaps), and generally repays you tenfold with love and companionship.

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