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.
  • Hypoallergenic Cats: The Best Cats for People with Allergies

    Hypoallergenic Cats
    Best Cats for People with Allergies

    Provided by Pet MD

    Want to adopt a cat, but suffer from allergies? Some feline breeds are considered “hypoallergenic,” which means they produce fewer allergens than others. Cats do produce pet dander, a common allergen, but the culprit for the estimated 10 percent of the population who are allergic to cats may be a protein, Fel d 1, that is present in cat saliva.

    Technically, there is no such thing as a 100 percent hypoallergenic domestic cat (or dog). If your allergy is not severe, these breeds should come pretty close. The following is a guideline which petMD recommends for people who want to adopt a feline, yet feel their options are limited due to allergies.

    DEVON REX
    Just independent enough to be an ideal cat for working families, the Devon Rex will shower its people with love and attention when they are around, and stay out of trouble when they are not. And, because it sheds very little, it does not shower the home in hair.

    CORNISH REX
    The Cornish Rex is a strikingly unusual cat; small to medium in size with an egg-shaped head, long legs, and large ears. Affectionate and attention-seeking, the Cornish Rex is a high energy cat that bonds well with its human family.

    JAVANESE
    The Javanese possesses a high degree of intelligence and seems to understand when spoken to. It will look a person straight in the eye and answer with a meow. In fact, the cat is well-recognized for its excellent communication skills. Javanese are also loyal to a fault and can be easily trained.

    SPHYNX CAT
    Though they appear to be hairless, many Sphynxes are actually covered with a fine gossamery down which can only barely be felt or seen. Because of its fineness, the skin of the Sphynx is often compared to warm suede. It is often heavily wrinkled around the shoulders, between the ears, and around the muzzle. A well-behaved, high energy cat, the Sphynx is a true extrovert who loves human attention and will show off to keep it.

    BALINESE
    The coat on the Balinese is of a silky texture and single coated, with only minimal shedding. In fact, the Balinese is noted for its lack of shedding amongst long coated cats. Speaking and interacting with humans is what it is most fond of. This breed is ranked as one of the most intelligent of cat breeds, and is also remarkable for its good humor, good nature, and high energy. Getting along well with both animals and people is one of the strongest qualities the Balinese possesses.

    ORIENTAL SHORTHAIR
    The Oriental Shorthair is long and slender, with large ears and piercing almond-shaped eyes. It is a member of the Siamese family. However, unlike the Siamese, the Oriental Shorthair comes in over 300 colors and patterns. It is also less “talkative” than the Siamese, but is still fond of chatting and is never too tired to strike up a “conversation.” This is a cat that needs to be the center of attraction. Lavish an Oriental with love and it will return it in full measure.

    RUSSIAN BLUE
    The Russian Blue was named for its coat, which is lavender at the base (root), darkening along the shaft up to the tips of the guard hairs, which are tipped in shimmering silver. One of the more curious and amusing features of the Russian Blue is its “smile.” It has a slightly upturned mouth, which is frequently compared to the enigmatic Mona Lisa smile. The Russian Blue can spend hours amusing itself and does not mind an awful lot if it is left at home alone for the day, but it will be very happy to see you when you do arrive. Elegant, and reserved, this cat is also very playful, and loves to chase after toys and sunbeams.

    BENGAL
    Though it is not a lap cat, the Bengal does enjoy human company and will often stay close to its family members. The Bengal particularly enjoys the company of children, since its energetic nature makes it very fond of playing games.

    COLORPOINT SHORTHAIR
    The Colorpoint Shorthair is a first-cousin of the Siamese, and like its cousin it is a born extrovert, making friends easily, chattering persistently, and showering its owner with love. The Colorpoint is also remarkably sensitive to moods. If someone is moved to tears while watching a tragic movie, this cat will try to bring them comfort.

    SIBERIAN
    The Siberian does not blend easily into the background. It is a large cat, with a lush double coat. This may seem counter intuitive at first, but remember that it is not the hair that makes a cat allergenic. The Siberian is notable for having a low level of the Fel d 1 protein in its saliva, so people with relatively mild allergies will often be able to tolerate living with this affectionate breed.

    PROBLEM SOLVED?
    Now that you know which cat breeds are least likely to set off your allergies, before you go out and search for one to bring home, you may want to check in with your own doctor first. Remember that hypoallergenic does not mean 100% dander or Fel d 1 free. Depending on the severity of your allergy, or if you have asthma, a companion animal may not be a good choice. Also, even for mild allergies, it is best to keep the bedrooms cat-free zones, vaccuum the furniture and floors often, and wash hands always after petting the cat.

    To learn more about pet allergies, visit the American Lung Association.

    FVRCP Vaccine

    FVRCP Vaccine

    What Does FVRCP Stand For?
    Cats are susceptible to many contagious diseases, most of which are caused by viruses. Fortunately, we have vaccines to prevent our feline friends from succumbing to several of the worst ones. A series of four FVRCP injections (three weeks apart) is given to kittens. The vaccine series is usually started at six to eight weeks of age. It is then given as an annual booster for the remainder of the cat’s life. There are three preventive agents in the FVRCP vaccine. The following is an explanation of each of those agents.

    FVR Stands For Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis
    Rhinotracheitis is a severe upper respiratory infection caused by a feline type 1, herpes-virus. It is most severe in young kittens and older cats, and is one of the most serious upper respiratory diseases seen in the feline species. The virus is airborne and very contagious in susceptible animals.

    Cats with this infection are lethargic, and show signs of respiratory involvement with much sneezing and coughing. There is usually a discharge from the nostrils and the eyes, and a high temperature may be present. Some cats develop pneumonia and occasionally ulcerations in the eyes. Infested cats do not want to eat or drink because the nostrils are plugged and the throat is sore. Dehydration and weight loss are common.

    The disease is debilitating and chronic. Many cats require hospitalization, intravenous fluids and intensive care to help them get over the infection. Antibiotics are given to treat secondary bacterial infections. Some cats suffer permanent damage to the eyes and the respiratory system. Fortunately, the vaccine is an effective preventive agent.

    C Stands For Calicivirus Infection
    There are several strains of caliciviruses that affect the cat. They can cause a range of diseases, from a mild almost asymptomatic infection, to life-threatening pneumonia. Most cases show only evidence of problems in the mouth, nasal passages and the conjunctiva (mucus membranes) of the eyes.

    Early signs are loss of appetite, elevated temperature and lethargy. Later, sneezing, oral ulcers and discharge from the eyes are seen. The course of the disease in uncomplicated cases is short, and recovery may be expected in seven to ten days. Some of the more virulent strains can cause severe symptoms. They may cause rapid death in young kittens and older cats.

    The disease is transmitted by direct contact with an infected cat or object (bowl, cage, brush, blanket, etc.) that harbors the virus. The virus can survive eight to ten days in the environment. Carrier cats can pass the virus into the environment for up to one year.

    P Stands For Panleukopenia
    Panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper and infectious feline enteritis) is a highly contagious disease characterized by a short course and high mortality rate. The disease is caused by a parvovirus similar to the parvovirus seen in dogs. It is very resistant and may remain infectious in the environment for up to a year.

    The disease is most severe in young kittens, but can affect cats of all ages. The first symptom is loss of appetite, followed by vomiting and diarrhea. A blood count usually shows a lowered number of white blood cells, a fact which helps in diagnosing the infection.

    Infected cats usually must be hospitalized with intensive treatment such as intravenous fluids, antibiotic and supportive care. Mortality rate may reach 90% in young kittens under six months, and may approach 50% in older animals. The vaccine is very effective in preventing the disease.

    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.