Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cat Dental Health Notes

Like humans, cats can have problems with dental health, often related to poor diet and lack of care. When we keep cats as pets, it's our responsibility to provide the proper foods and veterinary attention. Cats in the wild usually don't have these problems if their habitats remain natural. But even that may not be the case and wildlife experts sometimes have to intervene with remedial treatments.

To prevent problems with our pets, the best actions we can take include a diet of sufficient quality to prevent the buildup of tartar and the subsequent development of certain oral diseases or conditions, notably gingivitis, an inflammation of the gum tissue.

Gingivitis, and later actual tooth decay, account for tooth loss, pain, difficulty eating, and bad breath. This requires veterinary care before it affects the cat's immune system, as it can lead to more serious health problems, such as heart disease or other organ involvements, as well as premature aging.

Your cat should be seen for annual tooth cleaning and to check for other health issues. Keep in mind, a dental procedure, such as "scaling" (or scraping) to remove the tartar buildup, will require your cat to be anesthetized. You may wish to have your vet show you how to care for your cat's teeth at home, too, to prevent things from becoming advanced.

Most vets will recommend tooth care either daily, or at least twice a week. Use a soft toothbrush with a small head, or perhaps a bit of gauze wrapped around a finger to gently rub the teeth. It's important not to upset the cat if you want cooperation, so don't try to do too much when you first start.  If you only brush a few teeth at a time, that's better than nothing.

Start slowly and let the cat sniff the brush. Be sure to use toothpaste made for pets. Never use human toothpaste, especially if it contains fluoride! It can kill your cat.

End each session with petting or cuddling to help your cat relax.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Fleas on Cats - A Case Study

Here's an interesting question I received about fleas on cats:

Dear Ms. Kitty,

My poor Xander is suffering with an itch from fleas! He has these horrible bumps all over him and he just can't relax. His fur is always "crawling" and he can't sit still for looking around as though he's thinking about scratching! We just gave him a squeeze-on flea treatment (which didn't seem to work!). He has an appetite but isn't as playful as he could be. All he does all day is sleep (which I know cats do a lot of!) but I feel like he's doing it just so he won't have to deal with the itch! I hope I'm wrong but I know his "happy-healthy" behavior and this isn't it!

I thought I might use a solution of water and peroxide to wash him with.

I'm not sure he'd be okay with a bath...if that's an option!! I'd have quite a fight on my hands! But I will do whatever is necessary!

I love the little guy.

Thanks for your help,

Skip Purvis


Dear Skip,

I think a bath is a good idea... fleas can be drowned, but it's not easy. They will migrate toward his head if his body is immersed, so you'd want to have something on his neck to kill or deter them as they arrive. Maybe a temporary flea collar. Or start the flea shampoo at the neck first, them bathe the rest of him and the fleas will jump off as they crawl to the top to get out of the water. Just be careful not to get any soap or water in his eyes or ears.

If you have any fleas in the house, sprinkle some DE (diatomaceous earth) around the perimeter of the room and under his bedding, and especially under the couch cushions, etc.

You can sprinkle it on him, too. It's like talcum powder, so you can sprinkle it on then rub it in. If he licks it, it's safe, and might even help "clean out the pipes" if he has swallowed any of the little buggers.

Just be sure the DE is the safe kind..."food grade," not for gardening or yards. I'm glad to know that your Xander is an inside kitty, so picking them up by being outside won't be an issue. But it's no guarantee. Fleas are perfectly capable of hopping into your house on their own!

Not sure the peroxide would do anything. Probably get better results with a good flea shampoo, as that clogs up the respiratory spiracles of the fleas. Ask your vet which one is best.

Here's a link to a book about flea control from a friend who knows more about it than I do:

Flea Control Secrets

Here's another link with free info:

When I have to bathe a cat, I use a bucket. It seems to help with keeping them under control. Not so easy to jump out and those hind legs are contained. Still have to watch for the front claws, though!

You can also try brushing him often with a stiff bristle brush to help with the itching and removing particles and loose fur.

If he's having a skin reaction, he may be allergic to the fleas.

Here are some remedies for the "hot spots" on his skin:

First, be sure his itchy spots are clean. You may have to shave or clip his hair down to the skin at those locations. Wash with a gentle, unscented, pure soap, and rinse well.

Tea: Brew a cup of strong tea and dissolve an aspirin in it. Soak a small cloth or cotton ball and place that on the itchy, sore spots for several minutes, 4 times a day.

Vinegar: Soak a cloth or cotton ball and place on the itchy spots as above, 4 times a day. Use apple cider vinegar. It's also safe to drink, so don't worry if your cat licks it off. It might even help "detox" him, too.

Good luck!


Dear Ms. Kitty,

Y'know, I really wasn't expecting much from the whole apple cider vinegar thing but I'm here to tell ya...Awesome! On his first day of application (spraying it on his brush and brushing him), he already seems more comfortable!!

I'm just so happy! Hard to believe that we'd see such "immediate" results. And maybe it's just wishful thinking, but he really seems more comfortable. He's not twitching constantly...AND his coat is soft and smooth!! However, he is getting wise to my "put it on his brush" trick and it's getting harder to corner him for the brushing...the odor is quite intense, but he's been tolerating it!

Finally this evening he's become more like his ol' self! More playful, eating more and generally BETTER!

Thanks again for the tip! How exciting! Just had to let you know right away. I know you understand having a "sick"'s like your own child sick! When we finally find how to love them, it's real! I love this little guy so much! When he hurts, I hurt and when he feels better...
Anyway, YAHOO!!! He's been laying on my chest loving on me since he started feeling more comfortable feels so nice.


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