About Cats

About Cats

  • I just got a cat.  What does he/she need at the first visit? The answer to that question depends on many things, including the age and health of the cat.  Ideally we should begin seeing your kitten as soon as you get it.  Early intervention with safe and effective deworming and good nutritious foods prevents a myriad of problems before they can develop.  At the minimum, all cats and kittens should be vaccinated against rabies, should have a distemper vaccine, should be dewormed, and should be on a safe and effective flea control.  Heartworms are also a risk factor for both cats and dogs in this area of the country and prevention is bundled into a few of the better flea products we carry.   After an exam, any abnormalities or problems can be discussed with the doctor or a staff member who will try to answer any questions you may have.
  • How old is my cat in people years? There is no exact, universally accepted scale, but a good approximation can be found here.  Another more detailed age chart by the American Association of Feline Practitioners can be found on the first page of this document as well.
  • When can you spay or neuter my cat? We will spay or neuter your cat at 4 months of age, or 4 pounds, whichever comes first!  Your kitty does not need to be 6 months or older and certainly does not need to have a litter prior to being surgically sterilized.  We will need to see your cat for a pre-surgery appointment prior to making a surgery date for you so that we can examine your kitty and be sure that there are not other problems/issues which might expect to  cause problems with the surgery and to be sure that your kitty's vaccines are current.
  • Does neutering entirely eliminate spraying? Maybe.  Cats spray for a variety of reasons, only one of which is sexually related.  Also, spraying is a learned behavior.  Ideally, cats will be neutered prior to learning to spray and it will hopefully never begin.  If your cat has already started spraying, neutering is the first step in trying to correct that behavior. At least if the spraying does not stop, the odor of the urine will become less offensive after a few weeks....
  • Why do cats spray? That's a very complicated question.  The reasons can be many.  Unfortunately the cats can't communicate with us verbally and therefore there can't be  any cat psychiatrists, so to speak.   Stress, anxiety, territorial marking, medical problems, etc can all play a roll.  Unravelling that ball of yarn can be quite challenging but begins with an exam of your cat and then a consultation about your cat's life style, environment, food, changes, etc.
  • What do you do when you spay a cat? A "spay" is a complete ovariohysterectomy.  The ovaries as well as the entire uterus are surgically removed above the cervix.  No more "heats", no more kittens.
  • There is blood in my cat's urine.  Should I be worried? Would you be worried if there was blood in your urine?  There may be an inflammatory issue with the bladder, stones/crystals, infection, tumor, or the dreaded "blockage" (which is a life-threatening condition) or other possibilities.  If your cat has blood in its urine, we need to see it to try to determine the cause and get it back to health and comfort as soon as we can.
  • Do cats get cavities? Yes, but we don't call them "cavities".  We call them "feline oral resorptive lesions" or "neck lesions" for short.  They are painful and are not typically repairable with fillings, etc.  They will cause the tooth to need to be extracted when they get past the enamel and into the soft sensitive part of the tooth.
  • Do you clean cats' teeth? Yes we do!  We can also pull teeth if needed.  We carry OraVet sealant (Merial), OxyFresh and BreathaLyser water additives.  We carry cat toothbrushes and toothpastes.
  • How do you clean a cat's teeth? We use a light sedative and as-needed gas anesthetic so that we can remove tartar  from the surface of your cat's teeth and from below the gum line as quickly and painlessly as possible (and without fear of bites/scratches from un-amused cats).  After we have scaled tartar  with an ultrasonic scaler, we polish away any grooves, then we seal the gums with a waxy sealant called OraVet.   We can also extract teeth when necessary while your cat sleeps comfortably.  We give them a shot mixed with pain medicine to make them sleepy, take them a bit deeper when needed with isoflurane, and give them another shot when we are finished to wake them up.  Other than the effects of the pain medicine, your cat goes home wide awake and can usually eat within a few hours of his/her dental procedure.
  • Why should I have my cat's teeth cleaned? Just like with us, tartar and bacteria accumulates in your cat's mouth.  Unlike us, cats don't brush their own teeth.  Over time, the tartar and gingivitis can cause gum disease and  root exposure, tooth and bone infection, etc.  All this causes mouth odor and pain and eventually tooth loss.  Having problems and infection in your cat's mouth doesn't always end there either.  Mouth problems can lead to heart problems, liver and kidney disease and other very serious issues.... and that is before we even consider tooth loss and the pain associated with one or more bad teeth.  We try to assess every cat's teeth at his/her annual physical exam and make recommendations for tooth care when appropriate.  Staying ahead of the teeth with regular dentistry (and tooth-brushing if the cat will permit it) is much safer for your cat's health and much easier on your pocketbook than allowing dental issues to worsen and advance without care.
  • My cat stays indoors all the time.  Why should she be vaccinated or go to the vet? The state of NC requires all dogs, cats and ferrets over the age of 4 months to be vaccinated against rabies.  There is no provision in that law that says "...except  animals that never go outside".  Ever hear the phrase "a stitch in time saves nine"?  At least yearly veterinary visits for your younger kitty and twice yearly visits for your cat over 8 years old will hopefully prevent problems with early detection and good advice on care, feeding, etc.  Regular care, deworming and parasite control will keep your kitty healthier happier longer.  We are seeing more and more cats living into their twenties with good preventive health care and better nutrition.  It's much easier (and less expensive!) to fix and manage something that has only been going on for a short while than something that has been going on for years.