How to Walk Your Cat (Part 2)

If you haven't read the first part, do it now! It should take at least two weeks to get your kitty (and you!) comfortable enough to move on to part two.

By now, your cat (hopefully) should be wearing his or her harness like it's nothing. In addition, you want your cat to come running to you whenever you hold up his or her harness. This means Kitty is now associating HARNESS with HAPPINESS. Good job.

Let's work on leash training. While there are some very special cats who will happily follow you while on a leash, others won't. A cat's natural inclination is to walk and/or dash in seven different directions at once. Even worse, if they feel any pullback from their leash, they will either crouch down in misery or flail around like the ground has suddenly turned into ice, fire, or water!

Step 6: Put your cat's harness on and attach the leash. Don't go outside yet. The two of you are going to practice the art of walking straight. Hold the leash loosely in one hand and plenty of yummy treats in the other. Take one step forward and hold out a treat to get Kitty to walk forward too. Keep doing this one step at a time until you run out of treats. Eventually, progress to two or three or even more steps.

Step 7: When your cat veers to the side, don't jerk back on the leash. Just stay still and let the leash grow taut on its own. Coax Kitty back to your side with a treat without pulling on the leash. You want Kitty to learn that the leash will tighten only if he or she wanders away from you and it will slacken as long as he or she remains by your side. You want to keep working on this until Kitty gets used to being attached to a big, awkward human and will (reluctantly) follow you around the house while on leash.

Step 8: Take a deep breath. It's time to go outside. If you have a backyard, start there. Pick a time when it's quiet. Evenings are great because cats feel safer when it's darker but it's not so dark that you can't see what's happening. Get Kitty all harnessed up like usual then walk him to the door. That first step out into the big world can be really scary so go slow. You might have to spend this training session just staring through an open door, and that's perfectly fine.

Step 9: You're outside. Okay. The outside world is filled with distractions, most of which you can't even see or hear but your cat can. In the beginning, let Kitty explore to his or her heart's content but always with you holding onto the leash. If he or she starts wandering into an area you'd like to avoid, just let the leash grow taut like in Step 7. Slacken the leash as soon as Kitty switches direction. If you've got a stubborn one, pick him or her up and place back down in a more appropriate location.

Step 10: Once the novelty starts to subside and Kitty starts paying attention to you again, repeat Steps 6 and 7 while outside. Eventually, you'll be leash walking your cat around the neighborhood like a pro!

Remember: Not all cats will be able to make it to Step 10, and that's OK. Your cat will tell you when he or she has had enough. While leash training a cat requires a lot of patience, the process should ultimately be rewarding for the both of you. It's great if you can get to the point where Kitty runs to the door whenever you say, "Let's go for a walk!" but it's also great if Kitty prefers to stay inside the house. The reward is getting to spend quality time with each other. You're strengthening your bond and learning something new together. I guarantee your cat will be happier because of that—even if Kitty never sets a single paw outside.

How to Walk Your Cat (Part 1)

Happy 2017, fellow cat lovers! January is when people make healthy resolutions, but it's also National Walk Your Pet Month. That's right. You can teach your indoor-only cat to go for a leashed walk.

Note: Not all cats should be walked outside. Some don't have the temperament (or health) to do it safely. Also, take a look around your neighborhood. If you live on a busy street with a lot of noise, consider investing in a cat stroller instead. Or simply place a cat tree beside a window so Kitty can observe the great outdoors while remaining safely inside.

In 2015, research conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention stated that about 58% of cats are overweight or obese. Yikes! Too much food and not enough exercise is a bad recipe for humans and cats alike. In addition to feeding a high-quality diet and introducing more playtime into your cat's routine, consider taking him or her out for a walk.

To help make the process as stress free as possible, remember to go slow and be patient. Since January is National Walk Your Pet Month, we're releasing a two-part blog post on how to walk your cat. The second post will be published in about two weeks since it may take at least that long to get to the latter half of the training. 

Step 1: Safety's first! Check in with us to make sure your cat's vaccines are up to date. Does your cat have a breakaway collar? Is he or she microchipped and fixed? We want to make sure Kitty is as safe as can be before he embarks on his great adventure.

Step 2: Invest in a harness designed for cats. You'll want one that looks more like a vest or jacket (instead of thin straps) so kitty is secure and comfortable. Avoid retractable leashes. Once you find the right one and it's sized correctly for your cat, you're ready to move on.

Step 3: Leave the harness near your cat and let him or her get used to it for several days. You can even drape the harness over his back without attaching any of the buckles. Wait until mealtime (when he or she is getting hungry) then slip the harness on. Your cat may act like you've just placed the weight of the entire world on his shoulders or he'll tear through the house in a blind panic. Stay calm. Give lots of treats. If Kitty continues to struggle and remains scared, take the harness off and try again later. You'll just have to go even slower next time.

Step 4: For the first several training session, keep the harness on for only a short while. If your cat will eat his dinner while wearing his harness, great! If not, take it off then feed immediately after. Repeat every day. Since most cats are food motivated, your job is to convince Kitty that Harness = Delicious Treats. Your goals are to: One, get your cat to comfortably walk around while wearing a harness. Two, get your cat to come running whenever you hold up the harness.

Step 5: If you're lucky enough to have a cat who takes to wearing a harness right away, try attaching the leash to acclimatize Kitty to the extra weight. Don't just drop the leash, hold it in your hand first. You can let Kitty drag the leash around but only when you're around to supervise. Just like the above steps with the harness, the point is get Kitty to start associating leash + harness with yummy treats and praise.

Remember: Training sessions should be short and positive. Keep it up for a couple of weeks until you're both comfortable with the whole process of putting on, wearing, and taking off the harness (and leash). Don't go outside just yet! Our next post will talk about how to get your cat to take his or her first step into the outside world.

 

Movember: Male Cat Health

In support of Movember, we’re raising awareness on male cat health! If you have a special little man in your life listen up! You need to know this!

Male cats are at high risk of developing urinary obstruction. Obstructions are caused from crystals, inflammatory material, mucus or small stones that travel down from the kidneys. (Female cats can also suffer from urinary issues or obstruction but it is less common.)

Because male cats have a low narrow urethra it’s easy for build up to lead to complete blockage, which can be a very serious, life-threatening condition. Complete obstruction can cause death in 3-6 days. We don’t mean to scare you, but we do want to spread awareness about the seriousness of this condition.

Signs and symptoms to look for:

  • Urinating outside the box
  • Taking frequent trips to the litter box
  • Straining to urinate

It’s important to note some cats will not show symptoms of urinary crystals forming, therefore it’s important for your kitty to get a urinalysis bi-annually once they become seniors (when they are at a higher risk).

If your kitty has had urinary issues in the past:

  • Pick up a urinary maintenance diet. (It can be difficult to change your cat’s food so we recommend changing the diet gradually.)
  • Bring your cat in for a recheck urinalysis every 6 months to make sure no crystals are present.

Additional risk factors for cats who:

  • Eat only dry food
  • Are indoor only (which is most of our San Francisco kitties!)
  • Are prone to being nervous or stressed
  • Live in a multi-cat household
  • Have a history of urinary issues

Does Hand Scaling Keep My Cat's Teeth Healthy?

Hand scaling, if recommended and done correctly, can be a useful procedure for removing plaque and tartar from your cat’s teeth, but there are some important things to keep in mind:

  1. Hand scaling is only minimally effective and can only be use for cats with mild to moderate plaque and tartar, no gingivitis and no potential extractions.
     
  2. Hand scaling is an anesthetic-free procedure, and therefore a possible alternative for elder cats who need some dental care but may have an increased risk of tolerating anesthesia.
     
  3. Keep in mind there are still risks involved with hand scaling. To do the procedure safely your kitty must tolerate being held while a technician scrapes their teeth with a dental instrument.
     
  4. Because hand scaling can be stressful for your pet, only a small percentage of cats are candidates.
     
  5. IMPORTANT: Hand scaling is not as thorough or effective as an ultrasonic cleaning because only the outer area of the teeth can be reached, meaning only half of each tooth is being cleaned!

We hope the above information is helpful. If you have more questions please ask us. Our number one priority at Nob Hill Cat Clinic is to make sure your kitty receives the best medical care possible, and an ultrasonic dental cleaning is by far the best and most effective dental cleaning available. It’s what we recommend and it’s what we do for our own kitties!

Top 7 Most Effective Cat Supplements

We’re excited pet supplements are becoming more popular! In addition to feeding a well-balanced diet, pet supplements can help ease joint pain, support a healthy coat, regulate the digestive system, and decrease cognitive dysfunction.

But be careful about which supplements you’re going to try. The pet supplement market is not tightly regulated, and with so many supplements on the market and many delivery formats (soft chews, pastes, gravies, powders) it’s important to know what’s helpful, what’s harmful and what’s a waste of money. Check out our list of top 7 most effective supplements to see which ones to try!

Omega-3 – Fish Oil

Fish oil can be used to decreases inflammation, ease joint pain, support a shiny coat, decrease shedding and help with brain function.

What You Need To Know:

  • Introduce fish oil slowly. Too much omega-3 won’t be toxic but it can result in some unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea.
  • Fish oil dosage is based on your cat’s weight. The recommended amount is between 20-50mg combined EPA and DHA per pound.
  • You should see results within 2 weeks if consistently giving fish oil.
  • If your cat develops fishy breath you can lower the dose to reduce the unpleasantness.
  • Before starting your cat on fish oil discuss the decision with one of our doctors. There are certain situations were fish oil should not be given.

Delivery Format:
Capsule or liquid. If you cat is okay taking pills you can give the fish oil in the capsule. Otherwise, you can use a clean safety pin or knife to open the capsule and poor the contents into your cat’s food. 

Flaxseed Oil – A Fish Oil Alternative

Flax Seed Oil is a great alternative to fish oil and is another source of Omega 3 for your cat. It promotes a healthy skin and coat and can help relieve mild allergies and arthritis.

What You Need To Know:

  • Flax seed oil should be refrigerated to prevent rancidity. Read the packaging and make sure you’re storing it correctly.
  • Too much flax seed is not toxic, but may cause side effects such as diarrhea, vomiting, gas or bloating.

Delivery Format:
Capsule or ground flax seed (both of which can be added to food) 

Probiotics – The Friendly Bacteria

There’s a delicate balance of good microbes in your cat’s guts. And stress (whether from illness or environment) can throw your cat’s digestive environment out of whack. Probiotics can help increase good bacteria and restore balance. Probiotics help with IBS, chronic diarrhea, gas, and vomiting. They also strengthen the immune system and can be especially useful for senior cats who may have difficulty retaining nutrients.

What You Need To Know:

  • Cats have their own unique strains of bacteria in the body, therefore giving your cat human probiotics is not an option.
  • Probiotics can be given as part of a daily routine or added during times of stress (boarding, traveling, moving).

Delivery Format:
Powder, liquid or chews

Our Favorite Brand:
Forti-Flora – small packets of powder you can easily sprinkle into your cat’s food. 

Glucosamine & Chondroitin – For Healthy Cartilage and Joints

Glucosamine and Chrondroitin are truly amazing supplements used to help relieve and heal joint pain. Both substances are naturally produced in your cat’s body, but as your cat ages or if there is joint damage, your cat’s body may not be able keep up with the demand.

What You Need To Know:

  • Not all Glucosamine and Chrondroitin supplements are equal and the most expensive product is not always the best. See below for products we recommend.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin work to slow the degeneration process, therefore most cats that begin these supplements will be on them for the rest for their lives.

Delivery Formats:
Powder, Liquid, or Chews

Our Favorite Brands:
Cosequin and Dasuquin

Lysine – Relieving Feline Herpes

Lysine is an extremely effect dietary supplement for reducing, relieving and lessening the severity and number of flare ups caused from feline herpes. Feline herpes is a lifelong disease which causes upper respiratory flare ups in cats, including runny eyes and nose and congested breathing.

What You Need To Know:

  • It’s over the counter. And your kitty will be much happier. Some of our clients have told us their cat hasn’t had a flare up since.

Delivery Formats:
Chewables, Paste, Powder

Our Favorite Brand:
Vetroquinol – they make treats, a powder formula and a paste

Multivitamins – To Boost the Immune System

Multivitamins are usually short term supplements to boost the immune system. They are recommended for cats who have gone through a surgery or illness.

What You Need To Know:

  • Most well-balanced cat foods have all the essential vitamins your kitty needs.
  • Before starting you cat on a multivitamin talk with one of our doctors. There are certain situation where additional vitamins should not be given.

Delivery Format:
Tablets or Liquid

Our Favorite Brand:
Liqui-tinic

Nutri-Cal – An Energy Supplement

Nutri-Cal high calorie dietary supplement used to provide nutrition to cats who are finicky eaters or who have become uninterested in their food. It is especially helpful for senior cats, cats suffering from illness or cats recovering from surgery. It can also provide your kitty with extra energy. Yipee!

What You Need To Know:

  • This supplement is a great option to help your kitty get nutrients, but keep in mind, an aversion to food or even a slight decrease in appetite may indicate something more serious is going on. If your cats stops enjoying his or her regular food, please bring your kitty in for a check-up!
  • Nutri-cal is designed to be delicious. Many cats enjoy the taste of the gel and will readily lick it from your fingers or right out of the tube.
  • If your kitty is nervous about trying new things you can get them interested by dabbing a tiny bit onto their nose. In the process of cleaning it off they’ll get a taste of it and hopefully realize how delicious it is!

Delivery Format:
Gel

Our Favorite Brand:
Vetoquinol NutriCal

Is High-Protein Cat Food the Answer?

Cut the carbs and pack on the protein — it’s the new craze in both human and feline nutrition. High protein diets are showing up everywhere! Protein is a well known important building block of feline nutrition, but does more protein for your cat mean better health? Should every cat be getting a high protein diet? Can your cat get too much protein?

Put down that protein shake, take a break from pumping iron and let’s get to the bottom of this protein craze.

Breaking Protein Diets Down By CATegory (get it?)

Kittens (0-1yr): Kittens are mean, lean growing machines, and because of their high energy output they have a higher requirement for protein, amino acids, minerals and vitamins. Kittens should be getting 30-40% of their energy from protein and the best way to handle this is feed formulated kitten food for the first year.

Adults (1-6yr): Most adult cats need 35-40% protein. In general wet food has a higher protein content than dry food, but regardless of what your kitty eats there’s a quick trick to see if your cat’s food is meeting the protein requirement. Sub par food is going to come up short at 20-35%, while most well balanced diets will end up in the 35-45% range. High protein diets usually calculate out to 50-58%. Ok time to calculate your kitty’s protein! Get out a pencil and paper, there’s going to be some math!

Now is it possible for your cat to get too much protein? General Rule: “If the food your cat is eating leads to a shiny soft coat, an alert comfortable cat, normal body weight, normal stool and skin, then the food is probably fine.” A healthy adult cat can handle excessive protein, which will be excreted in the urine or converted into fuel or fat. At your kitty’s next wellness check up talk with the doctor about your kitty’s eating habits and weight. If your cat is always hungry a high protein diet may help curb his or her appetite. High protein diets can help cats loose weight, although keep in mind, high-protein does not mean low-calorie and weight loss is all about the portion control.

Seniors (7+ years): This is when things can get tricky. Senior cats are at risk of developing Chronic Kidney Disease, which is extremely common in older cats. For cats with kidney disease high protein diets can damage the kidneys further. On the other hand, too low of protein can cause muscle mass loss. So what’s the best things to do?

  1. Get senior diagnostics done bi-annually to see how your senior cat’s kidneys are functioning. This is very important! Once the kidneys are damaged there’s no going back. Even if your kitty is in the very beginning stages of kidney disease it’s a good idea to start finding a low protein diet he or she will eat. Most cats hate change so if you’re having difficulty switching them over let us know, we’ve got all sorts of tricks up our sleeves!
     
  2. Focus on quality of protein instead of quantity. This means looking on the ingredient list. The ingredient list is ordered by weight so if the first ingredient is chicken, lamb or another protein we can assume it’s good quality protein.

How to Pick a Cat Food

When it comes to picking a cat food how do you decide? Do you get the most expensive one? The freshest one? The most popular? Or the one your cat likes the best? The pet food industry is huge, and it keeps growing! With the overflow of information and marketing it’s no surprise you’re left going whaaaa???

To make matters even more complicated there’s no ONE perfect food. Many factors come in to play when considering nutrition — health, age, body condition, allergies, and eating habits.

This month we’ll be focusing on nutrition. We’ll discuss the new trends that are emerging, break down cat food labeling, and help you pick the right diet for your kitty.

Is Grain-Free Food Superior?

From a manufacturer’s point of view labeling their food ‘grain free’ is a quick and effective way to stand out in the crowded marketplace. Grain free has become popular in human consumption, and the trend has spread into the pet food sector. But is it really a superior diet? Grain free diets can provide excellent nutrition, but don’t necessarily provide superior nutrition. Here are some things you need to know before jumping on the grain-free wagon.

Grains Aren’t Empty Calories. Some manufacturers of grain free diets suggest grains are empty calories, “cheap filler” if you will, but that’s not the case. The truth is, grains actually contain protein and many important vitamins and minerals, which provide nutritional value for your cat. Manufacturers can say whatever they want, but you can’t argue with science.

Grain Free Doesn’t Mean Low Carb. Many grain free foods replace grains with other carbohydrates such a potatoes. And that’s okay! According to the American College of Veterinary Medicine (ACVIM) cats can effectively digest, absorb and utilize dietary carbohydrates.

Grains Do Not Lead To Obesity. The main cause of obesity in cats is excessive calories, regardless of the source (protein, grains, carbs) and we’ve found many of the highest calorie diets are grain free. It also should be noted, many diets that contain more meat and less grain tend to be much higher in fats (and fats contain two times the amount of calories!) If you’re going to be feeding high calorie formulas you’ll need to pay extra attention to portion control. Keep in mind, while the product may say “Grain-Free” & “Low-Carb” on the label they may be conveniently leaving out the ‘High In Fat’ piece of the pie.

Grain Intolerances Are Uncommon In Cats. The most commonly reported food allergies in cats are beef, dairy and fish. In the rare event your cat is allergic to grains it will only be from one specific kind of grain, not from grains in general. For example, in the uncommon situation where your cat has a wheat allergy, he or she should have no problem eating oats or rice.

Is Raw Food Safe?

The Raw Diet is based on what a cat would eat in the wild. Wild cats who catch and eat their prey eat muscle meat, organ meat, some bone, and the stomach contents of its prey. We agree that sounds natural and healthy, but we also know there are a lot of things we do in the modern world to improve our domesticated cat’s lives, and feeding a well balanced dry or wet food diet may be one of them. But if you’re going to feed a raw diet there are a couple of things to keep in mind:

Raw Food Can Contain Dangerous Microbes. E.coli, salmonella and a handful of other bacterias are commonly present in raw meat. These bacterias can make cats sick. Kittens, elder cats and cats with previous conditions are at highest risk. A raw diet must be stored and prepared in the correct way. Improper storage can lead to an increase in bacterial numbers, which can be dangerous for your pet, as most pathogens are dose-dependent. Humans are also at risk of contracting these disease causing organisms. Keep this in mind when preparing raw foods for your cat and when cleaning the litter box.

Raw Diets May Not Provide Cats With Complete Nutrition. Because raw diets are relatively new to the market the debate is still out whether raw diets provide complete nutrition for cats. Some cats on the raw diet come in with diarrhea and urinary issues because the raw diet isn’t providing them with the correct nutrition. If you are going to be feeding a raw diet, make sure you’re extra careful about getting wellness checkups and diagnostics to make sure your cat is getting balanced nutrition.

The Raw Diet Isn’t Necessarily Fresh. When a wild cat catches its prey it consumes the animal right away. This is different from the frozen raw food at the store. Frozen raw food is not necessarily fresh food. Plus freezing cannot be expected to have a significant impact of decreasing or eliminating bacterial contamination. For example, you would never pull a raw chicken breast out of the freezer and feel it was safe to consume.

Are Gourmet Foods Worth the Cost?

It’s tempting to want to feed your cat the best, most expensive brand out there. What do you think of ‘Tender Turkey Tuscany with Long Grain Rice and Garden Greens in a Savory Sauce?” MmMmmmm sounds delicious. But stay strong! Don’t get distracted by fancy names or beautifully designed packaging. When it comes to cat food the most important thing is not the entree name or even the ingredient list, it’s the nutrients within the food.

Specialty Gourmet Food Is Okay As a Treat. Gourmet food is a great treat for your kitty when used as a supplement, but not as an every day diet. Many gourmet canned foods are not nutritionally balanced and can lead to health problems if over fed.

Gourmet Foods Are Expensive. Over time high end specialty foods can add up. So take a look at your cat heath care budget. A well balanced diet is important, but make sure your cat’s gourmet diet isn’t taking funds away from checkups and diagnostics because those things are important!

My Cat is Coughing

When you bring your kitty in for a check-up you’ll notice one of the first things we ask is “have you noticed your cat coughing at all?” Many people answer the question with “Hmmm I’m not sure – what does a cat cough sound like?”

A cat that is coughing may sound like he or she is gagging, or has something stuck in the throat. It’s easy to confuse sneezing with coughing, but unlike sneezing, where the mouth stays shut, a cat who is coughing will have his or her mouth open.

Some of the most common conditions that cause cats to cough:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Foreign bodies in the respiratory tract
  • Parasites (roundworms, hookworms, heart worms)
  • Respiratory infection
  • Bronchitis
  • HAIR BALLS!

So how can you tell if your cat is passing a hairball or if the cough is caused by something more serious? The good news is, if your cat’s coughing fit is from a hairball, the hairball should eventually come up! The bad news is, you may wake up in the morning and step on it barefooted on the way to the kitchen. (Ew!) The whole process of passing a hairball may take several minutes, and it usually produces a tube-shaped, wet, hairy clump.

If the coughing fits are not producing a hairball it’s important to bring your cat in to see one of our veterinarians. You should be especially concerned, and bring your cat in immediately if the cough is accompanied by:

  • Discharge from the mouth, nose or eyes
  • Labored breathing or wheezing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • If each coughing spell is lasting more than a few minutes

Some questions to think about before your appointment:

  • How often is your cat coughing?
  • Do you notice a pattern with the coughing?
  • Is the cough productive (meaning fluids or mucous is expelled from the airway) or non-productive (a dry cough where no material is coming up)?

Why Don’t We Know When Our Kitties are Hurting?

Both in human and veterinary medicine, we’ve come a long way in our understanding of pain, and pain management. We now know that besides just plain hurting, chronic pain can suppress the immune system making animals more susceptible to viruses and infections.

Cats provide a particular challenge in the area of identifying and diagnosing chronic pain. A study at Texas A&M found that 90 percent of cats who presented for other issues showed x-ray evidence of painful arthritis, even though they showed know signs to their owners.

So why don’t we know when our kitties are hurting? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

First, cats instinctively mask, or hide, outward signs of pain or illness. In the wild, animals who appear vulnerable are in danger of becoming someone’s dinner. Cats still have that protective instinct.

Second, cats are motivated to behave how they normally behave. Cats prefer routines and stick to their habits as much as they possibly can. This makes it easy for cat owners to miss pain, or other health problems, in the early stages.

As cat owners it’s important to understand that signs of chronic pain in cats are almost exclusively behavioral. Watch for changes in behavior: A cat may stop jumping to her favorite high perch. Changes in appearance can mean a cat isn’t grooming properly because it hurts. Changes in litter box habits could indicate difficulty getting in and out of the box, or up and down stairs.

Personality changes can be another sign. Keep your eye out for the friendly cat who is now aloof or the aloof cat who is suddenly clingy.

Here are some ways to help a cat in chronic pain:

Make an appointment with your veterinarian! No animal needs to suffer with chronic pain. Once it is identified, we can help to manage pain with medications and/or dietary supplements.

Weight reduction is a priority for any overweight cat in chronic pain. Excess weight puts pressure on already painful joints. We also now know that fat secretes inflammatory hormones which contribute to the pain. Cats with chronic arthritis pain are not equipped to be outside on their own. They can easily injure themselves or get into fights that they can not win.

Give your kitty a nice warm bed to snuggle into. You may want to look into a pet-safe heated bed. Re-arrange the furniture a little so kitty has “stepping stones” to get to her favorite perches. Place a litter box on every level of the house.

Never give your cat over-the-counter pain medications. Aspirin, Ibuprofen, and Acetaminophen can all be deadly to cats.

Watch your cat closely for any changes in behavior, weight, grooming, eating or drinking habits. These are our best clues to catch health problems in their early stages. Also, try to get your kitties in to see us at Nob Hill Cat Clinic at least once a year, bi-annually for senior cats

What Stresses Cats Out?

It’s hard to believe that an animal who spends most of their day sleeping can be stressed out, but our cat companions are more sensitive than we may realize. Cats are natural predators and function on high-alert. They often sleep sitting up, react quickly to noises, and generally keep close tabs on their surroundings.

Why is this important? A recent study published in the Applied Animal Behavior Science Journal showed that stressed out felines are more susceptible to disease, while more relaxed cats tend to have better immune systems.

How can you tell if your cat is stressed out?

Look for changes in:

  • Grooming patterns
  • Litter box use
  • Sleeping
  • Energy
  • Appetite
  • Hiding
  • Meowing/Crying
  • Aggressiveness

Step 1: Rule out a Medical Issue
Changes in behavior can also indicate health issues. If you notice any of the above schedule a visit with one of our doctors. Your kitty may be trying to tell you something!

Step 2: Once the problem is deemed behavioral, how do we find the source of the anxiety? Here are some areas to consider: Is there something or someone new in the house? Are there enough hiding spots? Cats need places to go where they feel secure. Some cats like to find a “hidey-hole”, others prefer to perch up high. Are there enough food dishes and litter boxes? Cats prefer not to share.

Loud noises or new smells can be very stressful to a cat’s sensitive ears and nose. Is there construction close by, or a new cat hanging around? Is someone gone from home, who used to be there? Some cats will grieve the loss of a companion. This can even be an issue when routines change with school and work schedules.

Too much attention can be a bad thing. Some cats get overwhelmed by too much affection. Some issues can be dealt with easily, while others take time and patience. We enjoy being a resource for our clients, so please don’t hesitate to call for suggestions if you think your cat is having issues.