Thursday, July 20, 2017

Trip Planning With Your Cat in Mind


 
Summer has finally arrived!   Many of us are looking forward to hitting the road for vacation. If you’re planning on traveling with your cat for the first time, being well prepared can greatly reduce the stress of a long trip for both you and your cat. Sedatives and tranquilizers are typically only appropriate in very extreme cases of travel anxiety. Check with your veterinarian to address any health concerns you have prior to traveling.

Prepare your cat for travel by introducing them to the conditions they will be experiencing during the trip. Will you be using a different litter box or feeding dishes while on the road? Be sure to introduce these items several weeks before leaving by using them in addition to regular items at home. Does your cat like their carrier? First, be sure the carrier or crate is an appropriate size. Your cat should be able to sit, stand, lie down, and turn around comfortably. Leave the crate out while still at home and offer food and treats in the crate to make it a ‘happy place’. Take your kitty for short rides around the block or through a drive through to habituate them to the motion of the car and the sounds of the road. Gradually increase the length of these short trips to build up your cat’s tolerance and comfort in the car.

Do you have a cat travel bag packed? Be sure to include vaccine records, health certificate if traveling across state lines, toys/comfort items, treats, food, and medicines. If your cat is not microchipped, be sure that they wear a collar and tags with updated contact information. Did you include pit stops in your travel time? Be sure to allow time for your cat to take breaks. This means time outside of the carrier, but still safely confined, to use the litter box and drink water every 2-3 hours. It is often best to only offer food when stopped for a prolonged period of time, such as overnight. This will help to prevent stomach upset/motion sickness.

Remember to never leave your cat alone in the car. It takes only a short amount of time for temperatures to climb to dangerous levels. In case of an emergency, before leaving, research veterinarians or emergency clinics located in your city of destination. If something happens, you don’t want to have to scramble for a contact number or address.

Planning to fly instead of drive? Check with your specific airline for guidelines and requirements of documentation of your cat’s health status and vaccines. Booking a direct flight will usually shorten travel time and be less stressful for your cat. Be sure that your airline allows for the cat/carrier to stay with you during flight. It is not recommended that your cat fly in the cargo area due to unregulated temperatures and noise level. Be prepared! Line the carrier with absorbent pads or towels that can be removed and replaced easily in case of an ‘accident’. And have a sealable bag ready for disposal of the soiled items.

Summer traveling with your cat can be fun, but planning starts weeks before you pack your own bags and jump in the car. Remember that most cats spend the large majority of their life in their home environment. New sights, sounds, smells, changes in their daily schedules, and exposing them to new people and experiences can be upsetting. With a little effort and forethought as a pet owner, your cat has the potential to become a great travel companion!
 
Kim Brewer, CVT
Fox Valley Cat Clinic LLC

 

 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Why I Rotate Food Brands

Most pet food manufacturers  buy   ingredients from inexpensive overseas suppliers.  And
almost EVERY CAT FOOD manufacturer has had at least ONE recall in the last 5 years.  That is a scary fact of the pet food industry.  The reasons for recalling food varies from lack of essential vitamins, mineral levels at 10 times the safety level, food laced with  toxic ingredients, salmonella-contaminated meat.  Recently,  Evanger  recalled  pet food that contained phenobarbital, a drug used to euthanize animals. Blue Buffalo canned food was recalled for containing pieces of metal!

Monitor all pet food recalls here:Current Pet Food Recalls

How can we protect our pets?  What can we feed that is safe?  Safety lies in ROTATION of brands.  Chose at least 3-5+ reputable pet food companies (that are not owned by the same parent company) and rotate foods.  Specifically, feed a different canned food every day.  Rotate from one SMALL bag of dry food to another BRAND.  Consider rotating in a home made diet, or balanced raw diet.   Just rotating flavors from the same company is not enough.  Most of the recalls have included a large percentage of foods from the same company.  For example,  Wellness cat food recall of 2012 included ALL their canned  cat food (for  lacking essential B vitamins) except their 2 flavors of Wellness Core.
 
What does rotation do?  It reduces the likelihood that you will be feeding an unsafe food over an extended period of time. Remember recalled food has been on pet store shelves for months.   The key is ROTATION and VARIETY.

Some people are concerned about changing foods daily, as it might upset their cat's system.   If your cat has a sensitive gut, consider a daily PROBIOTIC added into the food.  A probiotic allows the gut to remain healthy during food changes.  Food changes can be done gradually over a 2 week period, allowing the G.I. tract to better accustom to the new food, in the case of a sensitive stomach.

As always, discuss any dietary concerns with your veterinarian.  I recommend bringing the bag/or cans of food that your currently feed, with you to your next wellness exam.  That way, your pets nutrition can be evaluated during this appointment!


If you enjoy my blog, please consider joining my email list!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic

Friday, March 10, 2017

Good Cat Hunting

Cats are amazing and solitary hunters.  They stalk.  They stare, motionless.  They wait, poised.  They pounce.  They kill.  They savor.  Outdoor cats spend up to 90% of their waking hours hunting.  This is not only mentally stimulating for kitty, but healthy physical activity.

So what about our indoor cats?  We feed them from a bowl, sometimes as lib. Feeding from a bowl may be responsible for the obesity epidemic we are seeing in our cats- 60% of indoor cats in the U.S. are overweight or obese. And eating from a bowl is not too mentally stimulating.

We have taken away their physical need to hunt....but is the drive still there?  Should we consider the psychological and healthy benefits to feeding "for the hunt"?

 Dr. Elizabeth Bales has developed a No Bowl Feeding System for cats.  Food is hidden in the NoBowl device, similar to a treat ball, but mouse shaped, with a soft exterior and a tail.  Once a cat is used to retrieving food/treats from the MOUSE, then the dry kibble can be divided into 5 MICE and hidden throughout the house.  End result:  No Bowl.

In multiple cat households, this system might work really well.  Most cats are trained to eat next to each other.  But cats are solitary hunters.  Using 5 MICE per cat would allow the cats to search for their meal alone, increasing mental and physical stimulation, and perhaps reducing stress.

The No Bowl system is not the only way to feed for the hunt.  Just Google "pictures of interactive feeders for cats" and you will get many product ideas.  Something as simple as a treat ball filled with part of the daily meal would be a great place to start.  For some cats, there may be a bit of a learning curve before you achieve success! 
More information can be found here: No Bowl information

Please share this blog with your cat-loving friends and family.
Happy Hunting!
Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic