Here are some commonly asked questions by cat owners who contact The Cat Veterinary Clinic.
Hospital Procedures, Policies, and Practices
Hospital Procedures, Policies, and Practices
When you visit The Cat Veterinary Clinic, you will be greeted by our receptionist who will check you in and let our technicians know that you have arrived for your scheduled appointment. A veterinary technician will lead you into an exam room where she will weigh your cat and take your cat's temperature. She will also ask you several questions regarding your cat's health and behavior. Then, the doctor will do a complete physical examination of your cat's ears, eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, skin and coat, heart, lungs, lymph nodes, muscles, and skeleton. The doctor will also feel the abdomen for any organ abnormalities. The patient's health history and the physical exam combined help the doctor know if your cat is healthy or if something may be wrong. If something is wrong, the doctor may suggest the use of diagnostic tests (bloodwork, x-rays, ultrasound, microscopic evaluation of cell samples, etc.) to help deterimine the cause of your cat's problem.
We encourage pet owners to visit their cat while he/she is in the hospital because seeing a familiar face can be comforting. However, sometimes, the other patients in our hospital can get too stressed with visitors coming and going. If you are wanting to visit your cat while he/she is at The Cat Veterinary Clinic, please call ahead so that we may make sure your visit will not interfere with patient care.
The Cat Veterinary Clinic does not have a billing system. Payment is due at the time of service. We accept most major credit cards, personal checks, and cash.
The Cat Veterinary Clinic is always accepting new patients and their owners! In appreciation of any referral by our current clients, we offer a token of appreciation for sending a new patient our way. If you would like to schedule an appointment, please contact us at (713) - 532 - 5171.
Most prescriptions can be filled through another pharmacy or through an online pharmacy. Generally, pharmacies can only dispense prescription medication that has been authorized by a veterinarian. They will ask you to provide the veterinarian's contact information for verification purposes. Please contact your pharmacy for specific questions or instructions. If you want to purchase preventative medications online you must fill out an Internet Pharmacy Release form at the clinic, and bring your cat in yearly.
We will sedate or anesthetize your cat if the procedure your cat needs to have may cause any significant or prolonged discomfort or if your cat's personality while he/she is under stress does not allow safe restraint for the procedure. We strive to keep the potential complications of anesthesia low by using the best drugs available and using good monitoring protocols. We also tailor the anesthetic regime to your cat's health for his/her benefit.
Vaccines are meant to prepare the immune system for potential exposure to disease. However, vaccine administration has become controversial in veterinary medicine, especially in cats, due to the association with some vaccine related sarcomas (a type of cancer). At The Cat Veterinary Clinic, we use the best vaccines available that will provide immunity to disease as well as have the lowest risk for causing a tumor. We follow the guidelines set by the American Association of Feline Practitioners.
The following link provides more information on vaccine protocols:http://www.catvets.com/professionals/guidelines/publications/?Id=176. With these guidelines in mind, we tailor our vaccine recommendation for each of our patients based their age, their health, and their risk of exposure to the various infectious diseases.
There are two core vaccines that we recommend be kept current for our healthy cats, the upper respiratory vaccine (FVRCP) and the rabies vaccine. Rabies vaccination is required by law in Texas and is for the safety of your cat and the public. For outdoor cats we recommend the non-core feline leukemia virus vaccine.
Generally, you can expect the following: Your kitten will receive a series of vaccines for the upper respiratory diseases beginning at around 8 weeks of age and repeated every 3-4 weeks for a total of 3 doses. We will booster this vaccine 1 year later and then every 3 years after that. The rabies vaccine will be given once at 12-16 weeks of age and then annually.
Just like for you and me, an occasional sneeze may be normal. If you notice your kitty sneezing frequently this may indicate a problem. Also, if there is a large amount of discharge, if the discharge is colored or bloody, if your cat seems congested, if his/her appetite is decreased, or if he/she just doesn't seem to be feeling well, we should see your pet for an exam.
In general, an average cat will produce two small fist-sized urine balls and have one bowel movement a day. This amount will vary from cat to cat. Scooping the litterbox frequently and taking a mental note on your kitty's "production" will give you the best idea of what is normal for him/her. If you notice any change in the frequency or amount of urine or fecal production, this may be an indication of a problem. If your kitty's appetite has decreased and he/she is not acting normal, scheduling an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as possible is recommended.
One episode of vomiting may not be a problem. Many cats seem to be perfectly healthy but have their occasional once-a-month "hairball" episode. It is important to pay attention to what is normal for your cat. If your cat is vomiting more often than he/she normally does, scheduling an appointment with the veterinarian is recommended. Please seek a veterinarian's advice immediately if the vomit contains blood or foreign material, if your cat's appetite has decreased, if he/she seems to not be feeling well, if he/she has not been using the litterbox or seems to be constipated. Some cats have chronic cyclical vomiting and this may potentially be caused by an underlying condition known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD is fairly common in cats and can be caused by many different factors or allergens that stimulate the lining of the intestinal tract.
There are many things from head to toe that can cause limping in a cat. Some of the most common reasons for lameness include soft tissue injuries (sore muscles, bruises or overstretched tendons and ligaments), wounds and abcesses from cat fights, broken bones, and joint issues. We recommend the cat be evaluated by a veterinarian and he/she may want to x-ray the affect limb also.
Inappetance is an indication that your cat may not be feeling well and there may be something wrong. It is recommended that your cat see a veterinarian; he/she can deterimine if its just an upset tummy or something more serious.
Claws are a part of the feline design and they are important tools for cats that live in the wild. However, the claws of a domestic housecat can be very destructive, especially to furniture and sometimes human legs and arms. The declaw procedure is the surgical removal of the last bone of the digit. Because this is a very invasive and painful procedure that can cause early onset arthritis and other behavioral issues, we encourage owners to try behavioral modification before opting for the surgical procedure. Most cats can be trained to scratch on appropriate surfaces (scratching posts, cardboard, etc). If you are considering declawing your cat to save your furniture, please contact our office for more discussion on the pros and cons of declawing.
(713) - 532 - 5171.
Trichobezoars (the scientific name for a hairball) are a part of a cat's life and the result of their grooming habits. Most of the hair that is swallowed passes through the gastrointestinal tract uneventfully, but sometimes it gets trapped in the stomach and forms a wad. This is what you see on your white rug in the morning. Breeds with long hair or compulsive groomers are at risk for hairballs. Most cats will not need hairball medicine or special diets that are marketed to eliminate hairballs, but for those cats mentioned above, regular grooming and brushing can help. Any cat that is retching or vomiting up hairballs frequently should be seen by a veterinarian as there may be a bigger underlying issue.
It is very important to have your cat examined by a veterinarian at least once a year; older cats should be examined twice yearly. Bloodwork should also be completed to ensure that the body and organs are functioning properly. Cats are notorious for hiding illness and having regular exams and bloodwork is a good way to catch disease early. It is much easier to manage certain diseases (chronic progressive kidney disease, inflammatory bowel disease, etc) when caught early.
This is no suprise. Cats can be very hard to medicate. Here are a few tools worth mentioning: 1) treats that are made to hide pills and capsules in, 2) "pill poppers" to help avoid unnecessary bites, 3) coating the medication in butter helps it go down easy, and 4) putting several pills in an empty clear capsule so you only have to administer one time. Fortunately, we can also order many medications in a variety of forms and flavors and we can even get them compounded in the form of a treat. Please give us a call for extra tips on medicating your kitty. Our technicians will be happy to show you how to administer medication that is the least stressful for both you and your cat.
Cats are very good at hiding illness, but there are a few things you can look for to help you decide if your cat is painful. A cat that is sitting in a hunched puosture with its head hung low and sits quietly without seeking any attention may be in pain. They may not want to eat and may seek unusual hiding places. Sometimes, a painful cat will have its eyes half closed or in a slanted position. Pacing, agitation, and vocalizing can also be signs of pain. If you notice your cat breathing faster or the belly moves as with each breath, this may be an indication of pain. If you suspect that your cat is in pain, call the veterinary office immediately.
It is unlikely that you and your cats can catch the same cold because viruses (the most common cause for a cold) are species specific. This means that humans get human viruses and cats get cat viruses. If you think your kitty has a cold, or what we call an upper respiratory infection in cats, contact your veterinarian. It is important to know that upper respiratory infections are contagious in cats just like humans, so if you have more than one cat they are all at risk.
While most feline infectious diseases affecct only cats, it is important to be aware that some of these diseases, called zoonotic diseases, can be transmitted between cats and humans. Most zoonotic disease pose minimal threat, however, humans with immature or weakened immune systems are more susceptible to these disease. Simple precautions, common sense, good hygiene, careful handling of litterboxes, and treating cats with fleas and other parasites can reduce the risk of zoonotic disease. Transmission of a zoonotic disease can potentially occur when a person comes into direct contact with secretions or excretions such as saliva or feces from an infected cat. Others can be transmitted through fleas or ticks. Here a few common zoonotic diseases that you should be aware of:
Cat-scratch disease, also called bartonellosis, is by far the most common zoonotic disease associated with cats. Cat-scratch disease can occur when a person is bitten or scratched by an infected cat. Fleas may also play a role in the transmission of infection. People with cat-scratch disease usually have swollen lymph nodes, especially around the head, neck, and upper limbs. They may also experience fever, headache, sore muscles and joints, fatigue, and poor appetite. Some healthy cats are continuously or intermittently infected with cat-scratch disease bacteria. Avoiding scratches and bites, controlling fleas, and keeping cats indoors all reduce the risk of cat-scratch disease.
Fleas are the most common external parasite of cats. While fleas cannot thrive on humans, their bites can cause itching and inflammation. Fleas may also serve as vectors for cat-scratch and other zoonotic diseases. Flea-infested cats may become infected with tapeworms from fleas ingested while grooming. Children can also become infected with tapeworms from inadvertently ingesting fleas.
Some feline intestinal parasites, including roundworms and hookworms, can also cause disease in people. Children are particularly at risk due to their higher likelihood of contact with contaminated soil. Visceral larva migrans, a potentially serious disease that can affect the eyes and other organs, results from inadvertent consumption of roundworm eggs (e.g. when soiled fingers are placed in the mouth). Cutaneous larva migrans, an itchy skin disease, is caused by contact with hookworm-contaminated soil. Proper hygiene, including washing hands before meals, cleaning soil from vegetables, and reducing exposure to cat feces (e.g., by covering children's sandboxes when not in use) can prevent infection. Anti-parasite medications for kittens and annual fecal exams for adult cats can reduce environmental contamination and the risk of human infection.
Ringworm is a skin infection caused by a group of fungi. Infected cats most often come from environments housing large numbers of animals. In cats, ringworm appears as a dry, gray, scaly patch on the skin. In humans, ringworm often appears as a round, red, itchy lesion with a ring of scale around the edge. Ringworm is transmitted by contact with an infected animal's skin or fur, either directly or from a contaminated environment. Infected cats continuously drop fungal spores from their skin and fur; these spores, which remain capable of causing infection for many months, are difficult to eradicate from a household. To reduce environmental contamination, confine infected cats to one room until they are free of infection; then thoroughly clean and disinfect the household.
Protozoans are single-celled organisms. The three most common protozoal diseases in cats and humans are cryptosporidiosis, giardiasis, and toxoplasmosis. Cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis can cause diarrhea in both cats and people, who usually become infected by a common source-for example, contaminated water-not by each other. To prevent the spread of infection, schedule annual fecal examinations for your cats, and medicate infected cats as directed by your veterinarian.
Toxoplasmosis is caused by the parasitic protozoan Toxolasma gondii. People with weakened immune systems, or infants whose mothers are infected during pregnancy, can develop severe illness. People commonly become infected by eating undercooked or raw meat, or by inadvertently consuming contaminated soil on unwashed or undercooked vegetables. Unfortunately, pregnant women or immunosuppressed individuals are often mistakenly advised to remove cats from the household to reduce the risk of toxoplasmosis. However, people are highly unlikely to become infected from direct contact with their cats.
Basic hygiene can prevent toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidium and giardia. Wear gloves when handling potentially contaminated material (for example, when gardening or handling raw meat), and be sure to wash your hands afterwards. Avoid eating undercooked meat, and thoroughly wash fruit and vegetables before eating. Surface water should be boiled or filtered prior to drinking, and children's sandboxes should be covered when not in use to prevent wandering cats from defecating in them. Scoop litter boxes daily while wearing gloves, and wash your hands afterwards. Pregnant women or immunosuppressed individuals are safest when other household members clean the litter box.
Most viruses infect only their natural host species. However, one virus that can be passed from cats to humans is rabies, a viral disease resulting from the bite of an infected animal. Cats are highly susceptible to rabies, which attacks the central nervous system, causing a variety of signs. Rabies is almost always fatal. In people, rabies infections usually occur when an infected animal bites a person. In order to protect human health, rabies vaccination of cats is required by law in many areas. Even if your cat is kept indoors, it is important to keep rabies vaccines current because cats occasionally escape outdoors, and because rabid animals such as bats and raccoons occasionally enter houses. To further reduce your risk of rabies, avoid contact with wildlife and stray animals. See a doctor immediately if you have been bitten by an animal.
The old folklore that a cat has 9 lives is not necessarily true; the number of lives a cat has actually varies with many environmental factors. An indoor cat that lives in a safe, cozy house with bountiful tasty meals has an average life span of about 12-15 years. Spaying and neutering a cat along with regular health check-ups and vaccinations can increase thier life span too! We regularly see 18 and 19 year old patients at The Cat Veterinary Clinic. In contrast, a cat that lives outdoors experiences a lot of stress in terms of decreased food supply, potential predators, traffic, lack of shelters, and exposure to infectious diseases. The outdoor cat's life span on average is about 2-5 years.
Cats mature very quickly during their early years, reaching their maximum growth at about 2 years of age. You will observe the most noticeable growth of your kitten during the first 6 months of his/her life. Kittens usually gain a pound each month! By one year of age, a cat has mostly reached his/her full size, but his/her skeleton will continue to mature for at least another year. Some cats, such as Maine Coons, do not reach full development until 3 or 4 years of age. To understand your cat's age and development a little better by comparing it to human years, follow this guideline:
At one year of age, your cat is comparable to a 15 year old human.
At age two, your cat is about 24 in human years.
For each subsequent year of your cats life, add 4 human years. For example, a 4 year old cat would be 32 in human years.
Scientifically, a cat makes a purring sound when nerves within the voice box are activated, the vocal cords are stimulated to vibrate by the nerves, and the diagphragm pushes air across the virbrating vocal cords. A cat often purrs when it is content and happy. However, a cat may also purr when it is sick. Nobody has a clear answer to why cats purr when they feel sick. Some scientists have speculated that the vibrating is soothing to them and can aid in healing.
The theory that a dry or a wet nose indicates how a cat is feeling is a bit of a tall tale. We have met several healthy cat's whose nose is slightly moist. We have met several healthy cats whose nose is dry. We have also seen very dehydrated cats that still have a moist nose. The degree of wetness of your cat's nose is most likely a combination of genetics and environmental influences, just take a mental note of what is normal for your cat. If your cat's nose has changed suddenly in the degree of moisture and you also notice other changes in your cats attitude or behavior (decreased appetite, changes in drinking, sneezing, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, etc.) it is important to have your cat evaluated by a veterinarian.
Cats respond differently to catnip; some love it and some could care less. Those who do like it will often roll on it, lick it, or just sniff it. Sometimes cats react by running around and acting crazy! If your cat is one that does not respond to catnip, there is nothing to worry about. About 20% do not have an affinity for it. Researchers believe that cats are reacting to a chemical within the plant called Nepetalactone. It stimulates the cats senses. It is important to know that catnip is safe for your cat and has not been proven to be addictive. However, a good thing is always best in moderation!
Just like you and me, a kitty likes to "do their business" in a clean environment. Ideally, a litterbox should be cleaned every time after it is soiled. Most cats will tolerate their box being cleaned one to two times daily. Long term litterbox maintanence is important too. The entirety of the litter should be changed and the box should be washed with mild detergent and water once every couple of weeks. Cats have very sensitive noses and you can create litterbox aversions if you don't clean often enough or if you use a harsh chemical cleaner on the box. A new litterbox should be purchased annually. Some people opt for an automatic litterbox to do the dirty work, but not every cat will accept a noisy machine for a bathroom.
Weaining is the period time when kittens are transitioning from their mother's milk to solid food. Momma cats usually start weaning their kittens at about 4-6 weeks old and finish by the time the kittens are about 8-10 weeks old. If you happen to have a kitten that has been separated from it's mother at young age and/or you are fostering a litter without a momma cat's help, the weaning process is up to you. Generally speaking, when a kitten has its eyes open and is steady on its feet, you can begin introducing solid food to his/her diet. The diet change should be a slow transition for the kitten. For more tips on weaning a kitten, our technicians and doctors at The Cat Veterinary Clinic will be happy to assist you (713-523-5171). The ASPCA also has some great tips at http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/weaning.aspx.
A kitten's eyes open at 7-10 days old.
It is good to be aware of your cat's waistline, however, weight is not as important as body condition. The ideal body condition, regardless of weight, is when the cat's ribs can be felt with slight fat covering them, the cat has a visible waist when viewed from above, and the cat has minimal fat around its abdomen. At the Cat Veterinary Clinic, we assign a body condition score at every visit so we can monitor how the cat's body condition changes.
The visit to the veterinary clinic is often difficult because the carrier, car, and vet hospital is unfamiliar. Cats hate the unfamiliar. To make your cat more comfortable with the carrier, make the carrier a familiar place at home by leaving it in a room where your cat spends a lot of time. Place your pets bedding or something with your scent inside the carrier to help make them feel more secure. Encourage your cat to enter the carrier at home by putting treats, catnip or toys in it. This may take days or weeks for your cat to like his or her carrier. Remain calm and be patient. Consider using synthetic feline facial pheromone (Feliway) spray to help create a calming environment. To get your cat comfortable with the car and the vet clinic, make several trips to the vet office and have play time when you get there...no poking, no proding, just a fun visit with lots of petting and treats. Make sure to give rewards for all positive behaviors! It is always easier to start these types of processes at a young age during kittenhood so they learn to like the carrier, car, and clinic rather than fear them.
In general, cats do not like being taken out of their comfort zone and being put into a moving vehicle. They become anxious and nauseous! This makes traveling with a cat very stressful for both you and your kitty. To lessen the stress, make sure you have a nice carrier to keep your cat contained during travel. Letting a cat out of the carrier can be more stressful for them; cats generally like the security of being inside their carrier. Also, a loose cat in the car can be dangerous because the cat can crawl on the floorboards by the pedals and perhaps escape when the door is opened. Keep the carrier buckled in too. Occasionally, a calm kitty will sit in the passenger seat and enjoy the ride, but this is definitely the exception. Second, contact the veterinarian for advice on medications to give before travel. They can prescribe something that will relieve the anxiety and decrease the effects of motion-sickness. Make sure to call a couple weeks prior to travel so there is time to do some "trial runs" in order to find the most effective dose for your kitty.
With the right precautions, your cat can fly! Cats generally do not like changes in routine and with traveling they often become anxious and nauseous! This makes traveling with a cat very stressful for both you and your kitty. If possible, make sure your kitty is allowed to be in the cabin with you. Most airlines will require a certain carrier size so that it fits under the seat. A lot of airlines also require a health certificate. This document is provided by your veterinarian and states that your cat is healthy enough to be transported to another state or country. When you are at the veterinary office obtaining a health certificate, he or she can also prescribe medication for your cat that will help reduce anxiety and prevent motion-sickness that is associated with traveling. Please contact your airline for other specifications they may have for taking animals on board.
Cats do not like change. They live harmoniously according to their daily routine. Because of this, moving can be very upsetting. Consider yourself lucky if you have a cat that enjoys all the moving boxes and the exiting new hiding places! Before the move, try to stick to your cat's daily routine as close as possible. When the mover's are coming in and out of the house, confine your cat to his or her carrier or a small room so their is no chance for escaping. Upon arrival to the new house, your cat will probably snoop and sniff around alot, vocalize, and have a decreased appetite for a couple of days. Most cats adjust to their new surroundings within a week. Having familiar objects, bedding, food bowls, and litterboxes around will help your cat adjust more quickly.
We can clip your cats nails at The Cat Veterinary Clinic and we would be happy to show you how. If you are in for a doctor's appointment, just ask us and we can do this while your kitty is here. You can always set up a technician appointment anytime for just a nail trim. If your cat is undergoing an anesthetic procedure, we will automatically trim his/her's nails at no charge. (Please advise us if you would not like to have your cat's nails trimmed.) If you would like to start trimming your cat's nails at home, our technicians would be happy to show you how to accomplish this task and advise you on the best tools to use.
The Cat Veterinary Clinic is not your typical groomer, however our technicians are well trained in performing some of the more common cuts, including "lion cuts," belly shaves, mat comb outs, and "sanitation trims." We can do these procedures at the clinic if your cat requires sedation. Otherwise, we will be happy to refer you to a local groomer.
In general, cats do a pretty good job of bathing themselves and giving them baths is not necessary. Ask your veterinarian if your cat needs to be bathed. Cat do not usually like being bathed, so we don't recommend bathing your cat unless its absolutely necessary. If your cat is in the hospital for an appointment and gets soiled or needs to have a bath for medical reasons, we will gladly give your cat a bath. Otherwise, we would be happy to instruct you how to bathe your cat at home or refer you to a local groomer.