Monthly Newsletter of The Cat Hospital of Orlando

Veterinary Newsletter of The Cat Hospital of Orlando

Cat Hospital of Orlando Medical Services The veterinarians and staff at the The Cat Hospital of Orlando are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

Advice for Getting Your Cat into their Travel Carrier

Your cat is cuddly, friendly and charming. But when it comes times to put them in their carrier, they can sometimes turn into your worst enemy. Scratching, meowing, hissing: we all know these telltale signs that your cat would much rather be sitting in their favorite cardboard box rather than a plastic container. Who wouldn't?

Getting your cat to the veterinarian is important. Getting it done without causing your cat distress is even better. Here are a few pointers to help get your cat to and from the hospital with the least amount of conflict.

Decide on the Type of Carrier

Consider starting out with a hard-sided carrier. Many of these types of carriers have openings at both the top and the front. When it comes time to let your cat out of the carrier, it's better to have the option of picking them up from the top if they don't feel like coming out the front.

There are also soft-sided carriers which are lighter and easier to handle. Like the hard-sided carrier, they also open from the top and the front. But they're not quite as sturdy and might not be comfortable for your cat's first few trips to the vet.

Let Your Cat Get Acclimated to the Carrier Before Traveling

Putting your cat into a new environment and suddenly rushing them off in the car can be a traumatizing experience, making them come to fear their carrier and what it means getting into it. Instead of forcing your cat into their carrier, try setting it down at your home and let them explore it before it's in motion. Try putting some treats, or a favorite toy, inside, and over time they will grow to like it and when it does come time to see the veterinarian, they'll feel comfortable getting inside.

If Your Cat Refuses to Go, Try This Technique

Regardless of the amount of time or comfortability your cat has with his or her crate, there are going to be times when they just don't feel like taking a trip. If that's the case, here's one method of helping them get into the crate that's tried and tested.

• Position the carrier so that the front door is open and facing the ceiling
• Put a soft blanket in the bottom of the carrier
• Pick your cat up and gently lower him down into carrier
• Once he is positioned comfortably, shut the gate and slowly lower the carrier back down to its normal resting position

All About Your Cat's Teeth

During its lifetime, a cat has two sets of teeth, a deciduous set and a permanent set. Kittens have 26 deciduous teeth (molars are absent); adult cats have a total of 30 teeth.

Deciduous or "milk teeth", begin to appear when the kitten is about 4 weeks of age. At 6 weeks of age, all 26 deciduous teeth are present. From 11 to 30 weeks of age, kittens lose their deciduous teeth. During this time they may eat less due to sore gums.

When the deciduous teeth fall out, they are replaced by 30 permanent teeth. The permanent teeth should be in place by about 6 months of age.

A cat’s teeth are well-suited to rip and cut. Twelve tiny teeth (incisors) in the front of the mouth - six in the upper jaw, six in the lower jaw - do some scraping. They are flanked by two upper and lower canines, sometimes described as "fangs," designed to hold prey and to tear flesh. Ten sharp premolars and four molars act together to cut food.

A cat occasionally retains a deciduous tooth after the permanent tooth appears. This deciduous tooth should be removed as soon as possible to avoid displacing the permanent tooth.

Extra teeth are occasionally found in cats. They should be removed by a veterinarian if they cause crowding or injury to soft tissue or other teeth.

Flying with Your Pet

Flying may not be the ideal way to travel with your pet, but sometimes there are no other options. In fact, over two million pets and other live animals travel by air every year in the United State. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to know what the policies are regarding pet air travel as they vary from airline to airline. Furthermore, states in the U.S. and national governments impose different restrictions. Whether you're flying coast-to-coast, cross-Atlantic, or half-way across the world, there will be specific guidelines to follow before you take to the skies.

Here are a few standard regulations that are helpful to know if you’re considering flying with your pet. If you have more questions, contact your airline directly. Most times, the specific policies and procedures are listed on the airline’s website, or you can call the airline’s reservations line and speak with an agent.

Pets in the Passenger Cabin

Policies regarding animals in passenger cabin vary from airline to airline with one exception – service animals. Since service animals are not considered pets and are needed to aid those with disabilities, they are always allowed to stay in the passenger cabin. Service animals do not require health certificates to travel, nor do they need to be in a container or cage.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) allows each airline to enforce its own individual policy regarding pets in the passenger cabin, but the FAA requires:

  • The pet container must be small enough to fit underneath the seat without blocking any person’s path to the main aisle of the airplane.
  • Your pet container must be stored properly before the last passenger entry door is closed so the airplane can leave the gate.
  • The pet container must remain properly stowed the entire time the plane is moving on the tar mac, as well as during take off and landing.

Despite differing procedures, there are a number of general policies you’ll encounter that allow for all passengers to have a comfortable flight. Some of these policies may include:

  • Restrictions on the different types of animals allowed aboard
  • A limit on the number of pets allowed in the cabin
  • A requirement that your pet is harmless to fellow passengers, including inoffensive and odorless
  • A requirement that you be able to produce a recent health certificate for your pet

Tips for Safe Air Travel with Your Pet

As a pet owner, you are responsible for the welfare of your animal while traveling. In addition to federal regulations and airline policies, here are a few things you can do to help make traveling with your pet easier and safer:

  • Before traveling, it’s best to help your pet get accustomed to its kennel. Also make sure that the door latches securely.
  • Don’t feed your pet solid food at least six hours before the flight. A moderate amount of water and a walk before and after a flight are strongly advised.
  • Ask your veterinarian if it would be best for your pet to be tranquilized for the trip. It’s also a good idea to try a test dose before travelling to gauge how your pet will react.
  • Health certificates must be issued 10 days before travel. Rabies and vaccinations certificates are also required.
  • Reserve a space for your pet in advance with the airline. Also ask about the time and location for drop-off and pick-up for your pet. Because of restrictions on the number of animals permitted, reservations are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Ideally, try to book a non-stop flight. This will help reduce stress and worry for you and your pet. If possible, avoid connections or traveling during the weekend or holidays.
  • For overseas travel, ask about any health requirements including policies pertaining to quarantine.
  • Be sure to write your name, address and phone number on your pet's carrier, and make sure your pet is wearing a tag with the same information. A temporary tag that shows your destination address and phone number is also a good idea, as is bringing a picture of your pet in case it becomes lost.
Keeping Your Indoor Cat Entertained

Most cats hold their human caretakers to high standards. As a cat lover, you're quite aware of how you can't always meet their unspoken expectations. You know the displeased feline glare better than anyone and so you understand it takes work to keep your kitty happy.

Indoor cats especially must be provided with activities to connect them with their wild ways. Otherwise, your bored ball of fur may quickly turn disruptive or worse - destructive. Luckily, kitty entertainment comes cheap and toys can even be rotated. Research has shown that old toys regain their novelty by switching them out from time to time.

Some activities sure to provide some stimulation include:

Letting them hunt – Hopefully your house isn't plagued by mice or rats, but there are still ways your cat can experience what it's like to be a hunter or huntress. Try hiding some of your cat's food throughout the house or place it in food-dispensing toys. Working for a meal will be mentally and physically engaging. You can also infuse old socks with scents or treats, create a scent trail and hide them in various places to encourage your cat to go on the prowl.

Letting them explore – If you've seen the YouTube videos, you know many cats love boxes and sometimes even shopping bags. Let your cat investigate or climb inside these objects or invest in a kitty condo. If your cat is an indoor cat, consider getting a harness and taking him or her on an adventure into the backyard. You could even build an enclosed outdoor area.

Letting them watch cat TV – Animal Planet is a good start, but there are videos made just for cats featuring close-ups of birds and mice that many cats can't seem to get enough of. Windows (especially those overlooking a bird or squirrel feeder) and aquariums can also serve as a source of visual entertainment for the more nature-inclined. Just be sure screens and tank lids are secure to prevent escape or an unfortunate catastrophe.

Letting them enjoy you – Some cats prefer toys they can toss around on their own, but many others still enjoy interactive play with their human. Feather wands, mouse-like or catnip-filled toys tend to be favorites. You can also try teaching your cat some new tricks.

Responsible Cat Ownership

Despite their reputation for being low maintenance creatures, cats are nonetheless a huge responsibility. Cats are fascinating creatures with very distinctive and instinctive behaviors. They are innately curious, mischievous and independent. They love to climb and stalk, they scratch, and they often mark their territory. They can also be very reserved and dignified. Whether your cat is a stray adopted from a shelter or a purebred, it still deserves and requires the same care and attention. Owning a cat requires you to give understanding, affection, shelter, food and general care. In return, you receive loving companionship. Modern research has shown that owning a pet can have measurable health benefits. By providing responsible and quality care for your cat, you are also giving yourself the benefit of a healthier life.

All cats are unique

Bringing Your New Cat Home

Being prepared is the name of the game. Before bringing your new playmate and companion home, you should be sure to have basic supplies set up and ready for its arrival.

Food - Because the food you select going to be your cat's sole source of nutrition, it can have a large impact on his or her health and well-being. Ask friends who own cats or speak to your veterinarian before deciding which food to choose. Often times your cat might choose for you. It is important to note what kind of food your cat was being fed previously, especially if he or she was thriving. If a food change is necessary, gradually transition to the new diet over a 7 to 10 day period by adding more of the new food and less of the old food until the transition is complete. Contrary to popular belief, cats should not drink milk. Milk may often cause diarrhea due to lactose intolerance. If you have a very young kitten who needs milk, specially formulated kitten milk replacement is available through your veterinarian.

Litter Box Materials - Purchase a litter box, cat litter and scoop. Make sure to choose a pan large enough for a full-grown cat and deep enough so your cat does not scatter litter when he or she scratches it. If you're bringing home a kitten, make sure the box is small enough so he or she can access it easily. There are a variety of litters available, so you may have to try a few different kinds to determine which one you and your cat like best. If you have more than one cat, a general rule of thumb is to provide one more litter box than the number of cats in the household. For example, if you have four cats, you should have five litter boxes. Even in a one cat household, it is a good idea to have a litter box on each floor.

Bed - From the beginning, you should determine where you would like your cat to sleep. It can be very difficult to break the habit of sharing your bed once the habit is formed, especially for the cat. Generally, cats like small, quiet places to curl up and snooze. For warmth, try lining a cardboard box, with sides high enough to block a draft, with an old cushion or any soft, washable material. To encourage your cat to use the bed, put an old item of your clothing in the bed to help him or her feel secure. Often times, cats will choose their own beds, such as laundry baskets full of laundry, so it is wise to establish where your cat can and cannot sleep before finding cat hair all over your clothes.

Carrier - These come in various styles and materials. You should select one that is large enough so your cat can comfortably stand up and turn around when he or she is full-grown. It should be well ventilated, secure and easy to clean.

Scratching Post - Scratching is one of the most innate cat behaviors. Scratching helps cats clean away dead scales from their nails and allows them to mark their territory (both visually and with their scent). Having a scratching post in the house provides your cat with an acceptable target for his or her scratching, as opposed to your new couch. The post should be sturdy and tall enough so your adult cat can stretch out to full length. There are a number of colors, styles and materials for scratching posts, so it should be very easy to find one that suits your home. If you notice your cat snagging or getting stuck to the scratching post (or your clothes), it might be time to trim his or her nails. Ask your veterinarian to demonstrate the proper technique and to give you tips on proper nail care.

Have your cat scratch a post, not the couch

I.D./Collar - Even an indoor cat should wear a collar with an up-to-date identification tag in the event that he or she escapes outdoors. Make sure the collar is made of flexible or breakaway material to lessen the likelihood of choking if it becomes entangled in something. You may also want to explore another, more reliable identification option with your veterinarian, such as microchip identification.

Grooming Tools - Cats are notoriously clean and spend many hours a day grooming themselves. It is still important; however, that you regularly groom your cat to help remove excess hair and dander. This helps lessen the likelihood of hairballs. Establishing grooming as part of your cat's routine and rewarding him or her after each "session" makes it a pleasant experience for both you and the cat.

Toys - Cats play with ANYTHING that moves, rustles, rolls or sways. Many of these "toys" are safe household items such as empty plastic thread spools, unshelled walnuts, cardboard toilet paper tubes or waxed paper balls. Cat nip toys, as well as feathers or something with bells, work well, too. Although cats tend to enjoy playing with string, yarn or tinsel, ingesting any of these could cause severe gastrointestinal problems.

Socialization of Your New Cat

When bringing your cat or kitten home, make sure the house is quiet and allow your cat to settle in and explore without too much interference. Keep your new cat or kitten confined to a particular part of the house or a particular room and definitely keep him or her indoors for the first few weeks. Once your cat has settled into its new home, the socialization process should begin. Introduce him or her to neighbors and visitors, allowing time for the cat to get acquainted with all the normal household noises and activities. Other pets should be introduced to him or her slowly and only under close supervision. It may take some time for a pet to get used to the new arrival "invading" the house and realize that the new cat is staying!

Regular Health Care

Establishing regular health care is an important element of your cat's well being. Regardless of your cat's age or where he or she was acquired, regular veterinary exams are crucial. These visits generally include vaccinations, inspection of the eyes, ears, mouth, abdomen and coat, as well as heart and breathing patterns. It is during these examinations that questions about your cat's health can be answered, even if it is a minor issue.

Dental exams are also an important part of your cat's routine health care. Plaque buildup is the most common dental problem in cats and can lead to deposits of hardened calculus on the tooth surface. If plaque is left unchecked, it can cause inflammation of the gums. This condition can worsen until the teeth eventually loosen and fall out. To prevent this, talk to your veterinarian about regular dental care for your cat.

Unless you have a pet that you intend to use for breeding, it is very important to have your cat spayed or neutered. Check with your veterinarian to determine the best time for the procedure. This helps prevent unwanted litters, manage pet overpopulation, prevent undesirable behaviors (urinating or "spraying") and may improve your cat's overall disposition. Spaying also eliminates the risk of uterine infections, lessens the chance of hormonal imbalances and reduces the risk of mammary cancer. Neutering lessens the likelihood of testicular cancer and unwanted behaviors such as aggression and "roaming."

Holiday Time

If you are traveling, you need to consider how best to care for your cat while you are away. Cats can be safely left at home alone for up to two or three days, provided they are left with enough food and fresh water and have access to a clean litter box. If you decide to leave your cat home alone, it's a good idea to have a neighbor or pet sitter check in on him or her daily. If traveling for a long period of time, consider hiring a pet sitter or board your cat at a pet boarding facility. Ask your veterinarian to recommend a respected place to board your cat and be sure to ask for a tour of the facility. It is important to see where your cat is going to be living while you are away.

Ultimately, as you get to know your cat and form a lasting bond and friendship, you will become the best judge of what's best for him or her. Providing a caring and loving home will help to ensure the health and well-being of your cat, which will, in turn, benefit your health and well-being. If a question regarding the care of your cat arises, never hesitate to call your veterinarian for advice.