We’re delighted to have a feline specialist, Dr. Sherry Zenor guest blog for Vet 101 today. Our regular Vet 101 expert, Dr. Richard Goldstein is on a summer schedule and will post on alternating weeks.
Despite the massive amount of information on cats available online, in books and other resources, myths and misconceptions about cats continue. At Cat Wisdom 101, we pride ourselves on educating with a touch of levity knowing that our readers tend to be more informed, but are always open to learning more. If you have a Vet 101 question you’d like answered, please send it to Layla@laylamorganwilde.com with Vet 101 in the subject line. Thanks!
As a veterinarian I have examined thousands of cats over the years and of course had conversations with their humans. There are a lot of misconceptions out there and these can dramatically impact your cat’s health and well-being. We all want to take good care of our beloved pets, so here are some important facts to help cat lovers such as you do a better job of that!
1) “My cat urinates a lot, so his kidneys are working fine, right?”
Wrong! In feline kidney insufficiency the first sign (though often unnoticed) is the loss of ability to concentrate the urine, requiring the cat to get rid of more “water” along with the body’s wastes, resulting in a larger volume of urine. So actually, these cats’ kidneys are probably marginal, and this is a good time to have your vet check things out and initiate regular monitoring. Excess urination can also be the first sign of diabetes and early detection is critical. Some diabetes in cats can even be reversed if caught early enough.
2) “My cats seems fine & he never goes out, so he doesn’t need to see the vet.”
This is SO wrong! Cats are the ultimate hiders of illness, and subtle changes can lead a trained professional to suspect problems well before the cat is “sick”. Finding problems early so owners can manage them is our job – let us do it at least once a year. Senior cats need more frequent care, and semi-annual exams are recommended for those cats age 10 and older.
3) “But he doesn’t eat that much, …”
Unfortunately most of the cat food manufacturers are a bit behind the curve on “calorie control”, now a major problem in our indoor cats. Lots of owners like dry food because of the convenience, but there are two problems. Many dry diets just contain too many calories (anything over 450 a cup is WAY too much if a cat has a weight issue).
The second problem is one of PORTION CONTROL – I do house calls so I see the heaping bowls of food. Make sure your veterinarian is weighing your cat every time, and engage him or her in a conversation about proper weight. This is best addressed when the cat is young, before the weight is piled on over the years!
4) “He eats his food just fine so his teeth must be ok.”
Again, this is not the case. Cats are very stoic and I have seen far too many painful mouths go unnoticed by the owners. These teeth can be so painful they even react to probing under anesthetic, yet these cats have been suffering silently day in and day out. Do your cat a big favor and have your vet check the teeth and gums carefully every year – we know what signs to look for – let us do the job we were trained for!
5) “Cats are just little dogs that use a litterbox…”
As cats began becoming popular indoor pets, veterinary Schools gave very little information specifically on cats, and the general assumption was to treat them as little dogs. We now know how wrong that is, both medically and behaviorally. Make sure your veterinarian LOVES cats! There is a new “feline friendly practice” designation that you can search for, and strictly feline practices are becoming more popular.
Dr. Sherry Zenor, a Feline Exclusive Veterinarian and Angel Cat Coach –“Helping All Cats Be Angel Cats” has a private practice in Sarasota, Florida specializing in house calls. Visit her website at AngelCatCoach.com