All About Cats

Should I be feeding my cat dry cat food or canned cat food?
With so many options available to feed your cat, choosing a food can be very confusing. Here are a few tips that will help you sift through the products and find
something that will work well for your animal. The answer really depends on your individual cat’s nutritional needs and health status, as well as your own
convenience. The main difference between canned and dry foods is the amount of water each contain; canned foods have around 70% moisture whereas dried foods have around 10% water. The more water contained in the food, the easier it will be on your cat’s digestive system and urinary tract. Canned foods can be helpful for cats that have urinary tract disorders, as well as other conditions including diabetes mellitus. Dried food alone has not been shown to improve dental health more than canned foods, but many diets are made to specifically help your cat’s teeth. By working with your family veterinarian, you will be able to decide if what is right for your cat. Dry foods and canned foods are made with different ingredients. The majority of the calories in dry foods come from carbohydrates. For some cats this works fine, but this may create weight problems for others. A canned cat food generally has less carbohydrate and more fat calories, and in some cases more protein. This can help some cats lose excess body weight. Remember that too much fat in any food is not healthy for your animal. Dried cat foods lend themselves to free choice feeding, whereas canned foods will likely require individual meal feedings. It is believed that the higher moisture content of canned foods makes the animal’s stomach to feel fuller, and help digestion, in contrast to the smaller portions of dried foods fed at a single meal. The lower water content means that each bite has more calories and nutrients; be sure to follow portion instructions for the food you select. The take home message here is to determine, with the help of your veterinarian, your cat’s nutritional and health needs, and decide what source of calories is best for your cat. Also, consider your cats feeding habits and your own lifestyle. Then you will be able to read the labels and select a food that is best for your companion.

We just got a new kitten and now our adult cat is having accidents on a rug, what do we do?
An important first step when a cat is urinating outside the litter box is to rule out an infection or medical problem by taking it to your veterinarian. Inappropriate urination, or urinating outside the litter box, can also be a behavioral manifestation of anxiety in your adult cat due to the introduction of a new kitten. Below is a step-by-step outline to start over and help ensure a smooth re-introduction of your new kitten.

1. Initially, keep the cats separated. Place the new kitten in a room with food/water/litter box/etc. behind a closed door.
2. Allow the two cats to interact by smelling under the door and interacting through the closed door.
3. Make sure to alternate which cat is in the room and which is allowed to roam free around the house.
4. Use a small towel to rub your kitten, then rub your adult cat with the same towel, then move back to the kitten, then back to the adult cat, etc. This will allow you to mix the odors of the cats and getting them used to each other’s scent.
5. Under direct supervision, place one cat in a carrier while feeding them their favorite food and place the other cat’s favorite food in a dish in the same room.
6. Over the following days move the food dish closer and closer to the carrier. Make sure to alternate which cat is in the carrier each day. A Feliway spray or dispenser can be used in the room before bringing the cats into the room in order to decrease their anxiety and stress. As the cats become more and more comfortable with each other you can allow them to interact outside the carrier under your supervision. It is important that you make the interaction pleasurable for both the cats by playing with both of them, petting them, or giving them treats. If you are still unsuccessful in introducing your new kitten to the adult cat after following these suggestions, contact your veterinarian for a consultation with a behaviorist.

Should I have my cat vaccinated against Feline Leukemia?
It depends. Not all cats need to be vaccinated against Feline Leukemia virus since not all cats are at risk of contracting the disease. You need to vaccinate your cat if it is at high risk of prolonged contact with other infected cats. If your cat is an indoor/outdoor cat who spends most of its time indoors or a strictly
indoor cat the vaccine is not needed. Cats that are mostly outdoors or housed with Feline Leukemia Virus positive cats need to be vaccinated for their risk of prolonged contact with an infected cat is high. I recommend you approach your veterinarian with your specific case to assess the level of risk of your
cat to contract the disease. The virus is transmitted via prolonged close contact with infected cats, through the saliva. Transmission occurs when cats fight, groom each other, or come in contact with urine or feces. Other ways your cat can contract the virus is through contaminated blood transfusions. This last however is uncommon since most blood donor cats are screened for the disease. To minimize the chance of contracting Feline Leukemia your cat is best to be kept indoors and away from infected cats. To avoid introducing infected cats in your household I recommend testing every new cat before introducing it to the rest of the household cats. To decrease the chances of transmission the incoming cat should be placed in isolation in your home for a period of 3 months after the first negative test result. A second test should be performed to assure the cat is free from the virus as dormancy of the virus is not uncommon. Consult with your veterinarian if you are to introduce a new cat into your home for further instructions. Vaccinations are not 100% effective since there are many strains and vaccines vary in effectiveness depending on each animal. Consider the vaccines efficacy to be less than for other diseases. In conclusion if you cat is not at high risk you do not have to vaccinate for Feline Leukemia Virus. Follow the recommendations given in here to avoid the virus from coming into your home and to reduce the risk of your feline friend.
Sources: Nelson and Cuoto, Small Animal Internal Medicine, Mosby 2003

Our outdoor kittens have a lot of dark and crumbly dirt in their ears. Is this something we should be concerned about?
It sounds like you are experiencing a very common problem with your outdoor kittens. The debris you are describing indicates you may be having a problem with ear mites. Ear mites are small parasites that resemble tiny ticks that frequently infect the ears of dogs and cats. The most common sign that your kittens may be infected is intense itching and violent head shaking. The parasites are very irritating and may actually cause them to traumatize themselves behind the ears intense scratching with their hind paws. You will typically notice a dry, crumbly, dark brown waxy discharge which resembles coffee grounds and may be foul smelling. Ear mite infection is detrimental to the kitten’s overall health and well-being and may also be a precipitating factor for secondary bacterial or yeast infections. You should make a trip to your veterinarian as soon as possible. He or she will do an examination with a magnifying otoscope and take a sample of the debris for microscopic examination to confirm the presence of the mites. Your kittens’ ears will be cleaned out at the clinic, and you will be sent
home with some ear drop medication that you can apply at home. Antibiotics may also be prescribed for treatment of any secondary bacterial infections. Please be sure to follow your veterinarian’s instructions for application and administration of any prescribed medication. Once the infection has cleared, prevention is key especially in outdoor cats. A product called Revolution is a once a month topically applied insecticide and is used for the treatment and prevention of heartworm, fleas, and ear mites. Once a month treatment with this product is highly recommended for all of your pets regardless of indoor/outdoor status. If you have any further questions regarding ear mite infection and/or prevention, contact your veterinarian.