Providing good health care, especially preventive health care, can allow your cats to have longer, more comfortable lives. However, this cannot happen unless they see the veterinarian for needed care. Many cats dislike going to the veterinarian, and that starts with the difficulty of getting the cat into the carrier. If we can make this step easier, the entire veterinary visit is usually less stressful. The following tips will help make veterinary visits easier for you and your cat.
Understanding Your Cat’s Behavior
• Cats are most comfortable with the familiar, and need time to adjust to the unfamiliar. The visit to the veterinarian is often difficult because the carrier, car, and the veterinary hospital are usually unfamiliar. Respect your cat’s need for time to become familiar with new situations, people and places.
• Stay calm. Cats can sense our anxiety or frustrations, which may cause them to become fearful or anxious.
• Cats do not learn from punishment or force. Give rewards to encourage positive behavior. For example, if your cat is sitting calmly in or near a carrier, give a treat. Likewise, rewards can be given to help your cat become familiar with the type of handling that may be encountered at the veterinarian (e.g. handling paws, ears and mouth). A treat is what is highly desirable to your cat, which may be in the form of food, play or affection. Be persistent and reward every time.
Helping Your Cat Become Comfortable with the Carrier
The goal is for your cat to learn to associate the carrier with positive experiences and routinely enter voluntarily.
• Make the carrier a familiar place at home by leaving it in a room where your cat spends a lot of time.
• Place familiar soft bedding inside the carrier. Bedding or clothing with your scent can make them feel more secure.
• Place treats, catnip, or toys inside the carrier to encourage the cat to enter at home. Often, you will first see that treats are removed from the carrier during the night.
• It may take days or weeks before your cat starts to trust the carrier. Remain calm, patient, and reward desired behaviors.
• If you still have trouble, you may need to assess the carrier itself.
Getting an Unwilling Cat into the Carrier
If your cat needs to go to the veterinarian right away, and is not yet accustomed to the carrier, the following may help:
• Start by putting the carrier in a small room with few hiding places. Bring the cat into the room and close the door. Move slowly and calmly. Do not chase the cat to get it into the carrier. Encourage the cat with treats or toys to walk into the carrier.
• If your cat will not walk into the carrier, and your carrier has an opening on the top, gently cradle your cat and lower it into the carrier. Another option is to remove the top half of your carrier while getting the cat to go into the bottom half, and then calmly replace the top.
• Use familiar bedding inside the carrier. Consider use of synthetic feline facial pheromone (Feliway®) spray in the carrier at least 30 minutes prior to transport to help calm the cat.
Coming Home – Keeping the Peace in a Multi-cat Household
Cats are very sensitive to smells, and unfamiliar smells can result in one cat no longer recognizing another. Aggressive behavior can occur when one cat senses another as a stranger. These suggestions can help avoid problems between cats following a veterinary visit:
• Leave the returning cat in the carrier for a few minutes to see how all of your cats react.
• If all cats appear calm and peaceful, let the returning cat out of the carrier.
• If you sense tension between the cats, or if previous home-comings have resulted in conflict, keep the cat in the carrier and take it to a separate room to avoid potential injury from an upset cat. Provide food, water, and litter box for a minimum of 24 hours while it regains the more familiar smell of home.
• A synthetic feline pheromone (Feliway®) can also help provide the sense of familiarity.
If there is still stress after this time, please contact your veterinarian for more advice.
For future visits:
–Use familiar bedding or clothing with your scent, as it retains the smell of home and helps with reintroduction.
–Use a synthetic feline pheromone (Feliway®).
– Bring both cats to the veterinary practice together. This can prevent future conflict as both cats will carry the scent of the clinic.
The most difficult part of identifying a tick is knowing what to look for. First is to recognize if the pest is a tick, then determine what group the tick belongs to. It sounds simple enough but proves difficult because ticks are small and difficult to see without the help of a magnifier. We encounter most ticks after they’ve attached and fed for some amount of time. One aspect of ticks that amazes people and leads to mis-identification is a tick can enlarge itself 20-50 times its size when engorged with blood and look nothing like itself before engorgement. It makes it hard to believe that it’s even the same pest!
The Lone Star Tick
The Lone Star tick is a common type of tick mainly found in the south central and south eastern parts of the US, although recently the species has spread across a larger area of the country. The female of the species is easily distinguishable by the white star shaped spot on its back, which acts as part of its shield. A male lone star will not have the white spot and will instead have some spotting along its back. Both the male and female species are a reddish brown color in the adult stage. When feeding, they attach themselves onto their host and use a salivary fluid in their mouth as anesthetic so that when they suck blood, the host will not feel it. This species of tick readily attach themselves and feed on dogs, other household pets and humans.
The American Dog Tick
The American Dog ticks are found predominantly in areas with little or no tree cover, such as grassy fields and scrub-land, as well as along walkways and trails. They feed on a variety of hosts ranging in size from mice to deer. The adult American Dog ticks commonly attack humans and can transmit diseases such as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Tularemia. American dog ticks can survive for up to 2 years at any given stage if no host is found. Females can be identified by their large off-white markings against a dark brown body. Male American Dog ticks are typically brown to reddish-brown in color with gray or silver markings on their backs.
The Deer/Black-legged Tick
The loathsome deer tick, now known as the black-legged tick, is defined more by the disease it spreads than by its own characteristics. These blood-sucking ticks were vaulted into the public consciousness in the 1970’s when it was discovered that they are the primary (and possibly only) transmitters for Lyme disease. Lyme disease is a debilitating, though rarely fatal, infection that is often misdiagnosed because early symptoms closely resemble the flu. Deer/Black-legged ticks live throughout the central and eastern United States, wherever their favorite hosts, deer and rodents, are present. Significantly smaller than the more commonly encountered American Dog tick, adult female deer ticks are about as big as a sesame seed and have reddish hind bodies with black markings. Males are slightly smaller than females and are a solid dark brown color.
How To Prevent and Repel Ticks
While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, take extra care in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active. To avoid direct contact with ticks stay away from wooded and bushy areas with high grass, leaf litter, and make sure to walk in the center of trails. When repelling ticks make sure to use insect repellents that contains 20 to 30% DEET on exposed skin and clothing for protection that lasts up to several hours. Products that contain .5% of permethrin are also helpful when preventing ticks on clothing.
How To Find and Remove Ticks From Your Body
Bathe or shower as soon as possible after coming indoors (preferably within two hours) to wash off, and more easily find ticks that are crawling on you. Conduct a full-body tick check using a hand-held or full-length mirror to view all parts of your body upon return from tick-infested areas. Parents should check their children for ticks under the arms, in and around the ears, inside the belly button, behind the knees, between the legs, around the waist, and especially in their hair. Examine your gear and pets. Ticks can ride into the home on clothing and pets, then attach to a person later, so carefully examine pets, coats, and day packs. Tumble clothes in a dryer on high heat for an hour to kill remaining ticks.
Use fine-tipped tweezers to remove a tick. If you don’t have tweezers, put on gloves or cover your hands with tissue paper, then use your fingers. Do not handle the tick with bare hands. Grab the tick as close to its mouth (the part that is stuck in your skin) as you can. The body of the tick will be above your skin. Do not grab the tick around its swollen belly. You could push infected fluid from the tick into your body if you squeeze it. Gently pull the tick straight out until its mouth lets go of your skin. Do not twist the tick. This may break off the tick’s body and leave the head in your skin. Put the tick in a dry jar or ziplock bag and save it in the freezer for later identification if necessary. After the tick has been removed, wash the area of the tick bite with a lot of warm water and soap. A mild dish washing soap, such as Ivory, works well. Be sure to wash your hands well with soap and water also. If for some reason you are unable to remove the tick call your family doctor.
Now that you know how to identify, find, and repel ticks, you should be more than ready to enjoy all your spring and summer activities!
If your pet is scratching excessively, losing patches of hair or developing scabs and hot spots, then your pet could have a significant problem with fleas. If fleas are on your pet, then they’re going to be in your house and in your yard, and probably on you. Fortunately, you can take steps using synthetic chemicals and natural products to both protect your pets and rid your home of fleas.
Treating Your Pets
First Step- Treat All Your Pets
Treat all your pets using oral or topical medications. Discuss with your veterinarian which prevention is right for you and your pet: You can use oral medications like NexGard or Comfortis, or you can use topical medications such as Revolution or Activyl to prevent fleas. All of them are reccommended, but keep in mind if your dog doesn’t do well with oral medications a topical solution should be applied. Also, if your pet has skin allergies/reactions then we would reccommend using an oral flea preventative.
- Be sure to use the correct dosage made specifically for your pet, as your pet can have a serious reaction to an overdose. Never use dog flea prevention on a cat, as a cat’s nervous system can only handle feline flea preventative.
- Give the flea preventative on the same day that you treat your house and yard for fleas for maximum effectiveness.
- If bathing, and using a topical solution, wait one day after your pets bath before applying flea prevention.
Step Two- Wash Your Pets Bedding
Wash your pet’s bedding as well as any cloth items that have been on the floor. Washing will significantly reduce the number of flea eggs and larvae on the bedding and cloth items and will make your insecticide more effective.
- The wash cycle will not kill the fleas, but it may eject some of the eggs through the drain. On the other hand, the dry cycle, on normal for over 30 minutes, will kill the eggs and any fleas remaining on the cloth.
- Do this all at the same time, removing everything at once and wrapping it in tied-up sheets. Keep the clean items wrapped in clean sheets or garbage bags until 12 hours after you’ve treated your house and your animals to prevent fleas from crawling onto the clean items.
Step Three- Let Them Roam Your Home
Allow your pets to roam freely around your house after you’ve treated the house and treated your pets. Fleas will smell your pet and will jump onto their fur, and they will be eliminated soon after they bite your pet’s skin.
Step Four- Keep Your Pet Inside
Keep your animals inside as much as possible for 30 days. If your animal must go outside, keep it away from long grasses, fallen leaves, gravel areas or sandy patches.
- If you have a dog and you need to walk the dog, try to stick to pavement for this first month. While your dog or cat isn’t toxic to fleas jumping on them, you are trying to eliminate a nasty infestation, and you don’t want to introduce new fleas to your pet when you are trying to kill off the old ones.
- If possible, keep pets inside during the winter months, especially cats. Quarantining your animals can save you money because after your infestation is eliminated, you only need to keep up with maitenance flea prevention.
Step Five- Keep Your Pet On A Preventative
Continue to treat your pets with flea preventative every 30 days. This is considered maitenance and will help to keep the infestation from coming back.
Treat Yourself, Your House, and Your Yard
Step One- Use Mosquito Spray Containing Deet
Apply mosquito spray containing DEET to your socks, ankles and the cuffs of your pants every single day to prevent flea bites.
- If you’ve treated your pet, the fleas will be killed on contact with its blood. However, you haven’t been treated with flea preventative, so your blood will still make a tasty snack. Fleas only need a single blood meal to lay more eggs, so you want to deny them their food.
- After 30 days, you can probably stop worrying about applying the DEET mosquito repellant to your ankles. If you no longer see fleas jumping around, then you are definitely safe. However, if you still see visible fleas or have bites on your ankles, then continue spraying with mosquito spray.
Step Two- Clean Your Floors
Clean your floors thoroughly. This cleaning should include carpeted surfaces as well as smooth surfaces.
- Vacuum all carpets, rugs and upholstery. Place one entire complete flea collar in the vacuum bag. Vacuuming not only sucks up fleas, eggs and larvae, but the vibrations from the vacuum cleaner also cause fleas to hatch from their cocoons. Since insecticides can’t kill fleas in the pupa stage, getting as many of them to emerge as possible gives you a great chance of killing more fleas. Throw the vacuum bag away in an exterior garbage container after you’re done.
- Mop smooth floors. Use a cleaning agent like Pine-Sol or undiluted apple cider vinegar to cause the fleas to emerge from holes and cracks so that they are more exposed when you spray or fog your house.
Step Three- Treat Your Home
Purchase flea control spray or fogger, read instructions, and make sure you have enough to completely bomb your entire square footage of every room. You need to make sure that the product kills flea eggs, so look for a product containing an insect growth regulator.
- Spray your carpets, rugs, furniture, baseboards, along walls and on your pet’s bedding. Make sure to follow the directions on the can.
- Don’t miss door edges, corners, floors with cracks and underneath furniture and furniture cushions. Flea larvae love to hide in dark places even if your pet is too large to crawl under your furniture.
- If you use a fogger, you still need to spray the areas that the fogger can’t reach.
- Spray your house again two weeks after the first treatment. Many of the fleas in your house may still be in cocoons, or in the pupal stage, where insecticides can’t reach them. Spraying a second time ensures that you’ll catch the fleas that were in cocoons during your first spray.
Step Four- Treat Your Yard
- Remove debris like fallen leaves, grass clippings or other organic items before treating your yard. Also, mow your lawn before you spray.
- Make sure to spray all shaded or partially shaded areas. These can include inside dog houses, beneath trees, shrubbery and bushes or beneath your deck or porch.
Always consult with your veterinarian on a major flea infestation. Your veterinarian will give you detailed instructions and will tell you the best products to use to treat your pet, your home and your yard.