Informative Articles

Fleas, and how to keep them off your Cat

 

Where does my cat get fleas?flea

The most common flea found on cats and dogs is the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis). Rarely rabbit fleas or hedgehog fleas are also found on cats.

The most important source of cat fleas is newly emerged adult fleas from pupae in your house or yard.  Adult fleas live and feed on our pets but the female flea lays eggs, which fall off into the environment. Under favorable conditions, these eggs develop first into larvae and then into pupae. The pupae contain adult fleas that lie in wait for a suitable animal host. Modern carpeted centrally-heated homes provide ideal conditions for the year-round development of fleas. The highest numbers of flea eggs, larvae and pupae will be found in areas of the house where pets spend the most time, such as their beds and furniture. Even though fleas may be in your house, you probably won’t see them; the eggs are too small to see without magnification and the larvae, which are just visible, migrate deep down in carpets, furniture or cracks in floors away from the light.

What effect do fleas have on my cat?

Many cats live with fleas but show minimal signs. However, the following problems can occur:flea life cycle

  • Some cats develop an allergy to flea bites,
    especially if they are repeatedly bitten. If these cats are bitten by fleas they groom or scratch excessively and develop skin disease.
  • Adult fleas live on animals and feed on blood. In kittens and debilitated animals this may cause anemia.
  • The flea acts as the intermediate host for the tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum). Tapeworm eggs, which are shed within tapeworm segments in cat feces, are eaten by flea larvae that develop into infected fleas. Cats become infested by swallowing infected fleas during grooming. Any cat with fleas is likely also to have a tapeworm infestation.

How can I get rid of fleas on my cat?

This can be a demanding task and requires a three-pronged approach. Fleas need to be eliminated from your cat, from any other cats and dogs that you have, from your ho
me and from your yard. Even this rigorous approach may not give 100% control as there are other sources of fleas that are beyond your control such as other people’s pets, wild animals and infested environments which your cat may come into contact with outside your house.

What products are available to treat my cat?

Insecticides applied to cats are designed to kill adult fleas. Many products have limited effectiveness because they only work for a few hours after application. This is particularly true of flea shampoos and powders; they kill fleas present on your cat at the time of application but have little residual effect so the day after use the cat may again have fleas. There are  new products with excellent residual activity that are available from your veterinarian. In addition to adulticides, there are several products on the market that contain insect growth regulators, which effectively sterilize the fleas and prevent flea infestations.

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL CAREFULLY – apply the product as instructed and repeat at the intervals stated.

My cat hates being sprayed. What can I do?

Many cats strongly dislike being sprayed. Consult your veterinarian, as there are several alternatives available. Flea collars are very convenient but they don’t work well or provide sufficient control for a flea allergic cat and are not generally recommended. Additionally, some flea collars, especially ones with a strong pesticide smell, may be harmful to some cats. Some cats will develop a skin reaction to collars. There are flea foams available that you brush into your cat’s coat. Topical flea preventives are highly recommended because of their efficacy and ease of application.

How can I treat my home environment?

  • A number of different products are available which will kill the stages of the flea life cycle present in your home such as:
  • Insecticide sprays for use in the house
  • Sprays containing insect growth regulators (IGRs) for use in the house
  • Insecticides applied by professional pest control operatives in your house

Sprays for use in the house should be used in places where the flea eggs, larvae and pupae are likely to be. It is recommended that you treat the entire household first and then concentrate on the hot spots – your cat’s favorite dozing spots – such as soft furniture, beds and carpets. Once they hatch from the egg, flea larvae move away from the light and burrow deep into carpets and into other nooks and crannies where it is difficult to treat. Be sure to move cushions, furniture and beds to spray underneath. Other places larvae are likely to live include baseboards and the cracks in wooden floors.

Your pet’s bedding should be regularly washed in hot water or replaced. Regular and thorough vacuuming of your carpets, floors and soft furnishings can remove a large number of flea eggs, larvae and pupae that are present in your home. You will need to throw away the vacuum bag to prevent eggs and larvae from developing inside the vacuum cleaner. Vacuuming prior to the application of a spray to the house is recommended because the vibrations will encourage newly developed fleas to emerge from pupae, which will be killed by the insecticide.

How do I choose which products to use?

A flea control program needs to be individually tailored based on the lifestyle of your cat and other pets, and your family situation. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you about safe and effective flea control products.

Are insecticides safe for my cat and my family?

Insecticides for flea control should be safe both for pets and humans provided the manufacturer’s instructions are carefully followed. One should be particularly careful to avoid combining insecticides with similar modes of action. Always seek your veterinarian’s advice if you are unsure about this and always tell your veterinarian about any flea control products you may be using other than those which he has prescribed.

Certain types of pets (e.g. fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates) may be particularly susceptible to some products. Do not use any flea control products in the room in which these pets are kept without first consulting your veterinarian for advice.

I have not seen any fleas on my cat. Why has my veterinarian advised flea control?

Fleas are easy to find if a cat is heavily infested. If fleas are present in smaller numbers, it can be harder to see them and fleas move fast!  Try looking on the cat’s stomach, around the tail base and around the neck. Sometimes adult fleas cannot be found but “flea dirt” can be seen. This is fecal matter from the flea that contains partially digested blood and is a good indicator of the presence of fleas. Flea dirt is seen as small black specks or coiled structures; when placed on damp white tissue, they dissolve, leaving a reddish brown stain. Flea dirt may be found in cat’s bedding even when fleas cannot be found on the cat.

In cats that develop an allergy to fleas one of the symptoms is excessive grooming. Cats are very efficient at removing debris from their coat’s using their tongues and may succeed in removing all evidence of flea infestation such as adult fleas and flea dirt. One of the most common causes of feline allergic skin disease is flea allergy dermatitis. To investigate this possibility your veterinarian may advise rigorous flea control even though no fleas can be found. If the cat’s skin problem improves with flea control then it suggests that flea allergy is involved.

I noticed my cat had fleas after his return from boarding. Did he get fleas there?

Not necessarily. Newly hatched adult fleas can survive for up to 140 days within the pupa. When you and your pets are absent from home for extended periods of time these adult fleas remain in the pupae because no host is available. As soon as you or your pet returns home, these fleas will emerge in large numbers and jump onto cats, dogs and even people in the search for a blood meal.

Despite treating my cat for fleas he still has them. Is there a “super flea”?

There is no evidence of fleas developing resistant to insecticides, especially the newer once-a-month topical flea preventives. Apparent failure of treatment almost always results from improper application of the preventive, inadequate treatment of the home or exposure to other infested pets or environments. Consider treating sheds, cars and any outdoor sleeping spots. Bear in mind that your cat may be going into other people’s houses. Most of these problems can be overcome by using an effective product on the cat to kill adult fleas in addition to treating your home.

  This client information sheet is based on material written by Ernest Ward, DVM
© Copyright 2005 Lifelearn Inc. Used with permission under license. August 23, 2016
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Cat Bite abscesses are on the rise for outdoor felines during the summer months

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Over 90% of septic wounds in cats result from cat bites sustained during a cat fight. Dog, rat and other rodent bites can occur but they are much less common.

Why do cats fight?

Cats are instinctively very territorial. They fight with other cats to protect their territory or to acquire more territory. As a result, fight wounds are common in cats. Fight wounds frequently result in infection that can make cats quite ill, especially if left untreated. Fight wounds are more common in male cats than females and are most frequent in un-neutered males.

My male cat has been neutered. Why does he still fight?

Un-neutered male cats are very territorial; they will defend an area around their home but continually try to expand the borders of their territory. The desire for more territory and the need to keep intruders out of their existing territory means that they are constantly fighting with other cats. In contrast, neutered male cats defend a smaller area of territory around their home. If this territory is breached by another cat they will defend it by fighting. The frequency of fighting will depend on the number of cats in the neighborhood and particularly the presence of un-neutered male cats. Female cats will also defend their territory by fighting with other cats.

What can I do to stop my cat from being bitten?

Neutering is recommended but this may not completely eliminate fighting. Confining the cat to your house, particularly at night when cat fights are most common, will reduce the number of bites your cat sustains.

What happens after a cat has been bitten?

When a cat bites, its teeth readily puncture the skin, leaving small wounds in the skin which rapidly seal over, trapping bacteria from the cat’s mouth under the skin of the victim. The bacteria multiply under the skin. For several days there may be no sign of infection but then swelling and pain at the puncture sight are noticed. The cat may also have a fever. If the site of the bite is covered by loose skin, a pocket of pus will develop forming an abscess. In areas where the skin is not loose such as on the foot or the tail the infection spreads through the tissues and causes cellulitis.

Rarely there may be more serious consequences such as a septic arthritis (infection of a joint space), osteomyelitis (infection of bone) or pyothorax (the chest cavity becomes filled with pus).

What should I do if I know my cat has just been bitten?

If you know that your cat has bite wounds, notify your veterinarian immediately. Antibiotics given within twenty-four hours will usually stop the spread of infection and may prevent the development of an abscess. If several days have elapsed since the fight, an abscess will usually form, requiring more involved medical treatment.

How will I know that my cat has a fight wound if I can’t find any bite marks?

Puncture wounds heal very quickly so there is often nothing to see or feel. The most common sites of bites are on the head, forelimbs or at the base of the tail. If cats have been bitten on a limb, the leg is usually painful and lameness is seen. It may be possible to feel heat and swelling in the area of the bite. Some cats may just be lethargic and have a fever. Many cats will excessively groom the injured area.

 What should I do if my cat gets an abscess or infected bite wound?

You should take your cat to your veterinarian. If an abscess is present, your veterinarian will drain and flush the injured site. This may be done by removing the scabs over the original bite wounds or more commonly by lancing the skin over the abscess. It may be necessary to sedate or anesthetize your cat for this. If cellulitis occurs, drainage is not possible.

 Antibiotics will be given either by injection or tablets. If your veterinarian prescribes antibiotic tablets for you to give to your cat, it is very important that you give all the tablets as directed.

How should I manage the wound after my veterinarian has treated it?

After your veterinarian has drained an abscess, a large wound may be left. This may be deliberately left open to allow for drainage. It is advisable to clean the wound twice a day for two to three days to keep it open. This is best done with cotton balls, gauze or washcloth and warm water. Use only disinfectants recommended by your veterinarian. Never use disinfectants containing phenols (e.g. TCP) because these are toxic to cats.

With large abscesses, your veterinarian may recommend a technique called debridement, in which all the infected tissue is removed, including any inflamed tissues that have walled off the abscess from the rest of the body. The resulting “clean: wound will be closed with sutures. In some situations, your veterinarian may also place a drainage tube in the wound, to allow any discharges to escape. You will be instructed to clean the drainage holes twice a day for two to five days, after which the drain will be removed.   Once the tissues have completely healed, in about two weeks, the remaining sutures will be removed.

 How long will it take for the bite wound to heal?

With appropriate treatment most abscesses should heal within five days. The swelling associated with cellulitis may take longer. If you feel the wound is not healing normally you should ask your veterinarian to examine it.

If you do not have your cat treated, there is a danger that the abscess will burst and only partially drain before healing begins. Similar consequences may follow if courses of antibiotics are not completed or adequate drainage is not maintained.

If an infected wound does not heal within a few days, your veterinarian may want to do further tests to see if there is an underlying cause. Certain viruses such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) suppress the immune system and may complicate the cat’s recovery from infection. Blood tests can be performed to diagnose these viral infections. A persistent draining wound may indicate that a foreign body such as a broken tooth, a claw or some soil is left in the wound and may require surgical exploration. Alternatively, it may indicate the presence of an unusual infectious agent requiring biopsies for culture and other tests.

Why does my cat keep getting abscesses in the same place?

This may reflect inadequate treatment as discussed in the question above where the abscess never completely resolves. Alternatively, it may reflect an individual cat’s method of fighting; the cat that runs away will tend always to get bitten on the tail base whereas the aggressive attacking cat will tend always to be bitten on the head or forelimbs.

Are there any other possible problems associated with fight wound infections?

Bite wounds are considered to be the main route of transmission of some important feline infections, most notably, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Blood tests should be performed after any bite wounds to diagnose these infections.

 

How to give your cat medication

We know how difficult it can be to administer medication to your cat. The following article outlines how to administer pills, injections, ear and eye drops as well as liquid medication.

How to give your cat a pill

The easiest way to give your cat a pill is to hide the pill in food. This usually works best if the pill is hidden in a small amount of tuna, salmon or cream cheese. To ensure that the pill is swallowed, it is best to place the pill in a small amount of food that the cat is certain to eat rather than a large portion that the cat may not complete. Some cats may spit out the pill, so it is important to monitor this activity. If your cat persists in spitting out the pills or if dietary restrictions prevent you from hiding the pills in an appealing food or treat, you will need to administer the pill directly into the cat’s mouth.

Prepare a safe place to handle your cat. Have the pill ready and in a place where it will be easily accessible.

If you are administering the medication on your own, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. You may need to have someone assist you in restraining your cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only the head exposed.

Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the dosing instructions. Lubricate or “grease” the pill with a very small amount of margarine or butter so it doesn’t stick in your cat’s mouth or throat and will be easier to swallow. This is very helpful with the administration of capsules.

  • Hold the pill between your thumb and index finger.
  • Gently grasp your cat’s head from above with your other hand, by placing your thumb on one side of the upper jaw and your fingers on the other. Tilt the cat’s head back over its shoulder so that its nose points to the ceiling. The jaw should drop open slightly.
  • With your pilling hand, use your little finger and ring finger to open the cat’s mouth further by gently putting pressure on the lower lip and front teeth.
  • Quickly place the pill as far back over the tongue as possible. Try to place it on the back one-third of the tongue to stimulate an automatic swallowing reflex.
  • Close the cat’s mouth and hold it closed while you return the head to a normal position.
  • Gently rub the cat’s nose or throat, or blow lightly on the nose. This should also help stimulate swallowing.
  • If you have trouble with this method of opening the mouth, try placing the cat on an elevated table. Hold the cat by the scruff of the neck and lift the front paws off of the table. The mouth will drop open. Quickly place the pill as far back on the tongue as possible, as in the previous method.
  • If you continue to experience difficulty, you may want to purchase a “pet piller” device or inquire if the medication can be compounded into a liquid. Most medications can be made into liquids with appealing flavors such as tuna, chicken, or salmon.

How to give your cat injections

There are certain conditions or diseases that may require you to administer injections to your cat at home. Routine injections are necessary for the treatment of diabetes using insulin and for the control of skin allergies using allergenic extract injections. Your veterinarian will review the specific administration technique but the following questions and answers may be of help.

Will the injection hurt my pet?

Most pets don’t seem to mind routine injections. Disposable single-use needles ensure that a very sharp needle is used each time. Your veterinarian will prescribe appropriate needles and syringes based on your pet’s needs.

What happens if my cat moves when I give the injection?

Ideally have someone assist you while you give the injection, especially when you are just learning how to do it. Try offering the pet a special food or treat as a distraction while you administer the injection. By injecting quickly, you can minimize the chance that your pet will move. Most pet owners find that their pet is very cooperative once a routine is established.

Is there any danger if he doesn’t keep still?

Most owners are concerned that they may break the needle off in the skin but this is extremely unlikely to occur. The needle may bend but it is much more likely that the injection will end up outside the pet rather than inside. If you are unsure that your pet received the full amount of the injection, contact the hospital for instructions. As a general rule, if you’re unsure how much you injected, do not administer more unless directed by your veterinarian.

Can you explain the exact technique of giving an injection?

Subcutaneous injections are placed just beneath the skin, which is considerably looser in the cat than in humans. Start by pinching some loose skin between your thumb and forefinger. Hold the syringe like a pencil with the other hand. Insert the needle swiftly into the fold of skin, keeping the barrel roughly level with the fold but with the needle angled downwards at a thirty- to forty-five-degree angle. Most injections are given in syringes small enough to allow the plunger to be depressed with the palm of the same hand once the needle has been positioned underneath the skin. Administer the contents of the syringe quickly. Once the injection has been completed, remove the needle and massage the area. Having someone assist you will make the procedure easier. With a little practice, however, most pet owners find that they have no problems administering routine injections to their pet without assistance.

Administering Ear Drops to your Cat

If the medication is refrigerated, you may warm the medication by placing the bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. Be sure to ask your veterinarian if this is acceptable before warming any medication.

Hold the cat securely in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain the cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. The first few times, it may be helpful to have someone else hold the wrapped cat while you apply the drops.

Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the dosing instructions and the amount of liquid you are to instill into the ear.

  • Draw up the liquid into the dropper, if necessary. Hold the applicator or bottle between the thumb and forefinger of your dominant hand.
  • Use the last two fingers of the hand holding the dropper or bottle to hold the tip of the ear.
  • Place your remaining hand under the cat’s jaw to support the head.
  • Apply a small amount of medication into the ear canal. Be sure to place the tip as far into the ear canal as possible, unless the condition is confined to the outer portion of the ear.
  • Gently massage the base of the ear in a circular motion. Be cautious and gentle. The cat may not allow you to do this.
  •  Release the ear and let your cat shake its head. If the medication contains a wax solvent, debris will be dissolved so it can be shaken out.
  •  REMEMBER THAT THE EAR MAY BE VERY PAINFUL AND THAT THE CAT MAY RESPOND BY SCRATCHING OR BITING.

Administering Eye Drops to your Cat

Make sure that you wash your hands before and after administering the medication to prevent the spread of infection. Gently clean the cat’s eyes with warm water and a washcloth prior to administering the eye drops.

If you are administering the medication on your own, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain the cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. The first few times, or if your cat’s eye is painful, it may be helpful to have someone else hold the wrapped cat while you apply the drops.

Make sure you have carefully read the label and understand the instructions.

  • Hold the bottle using the thumb and index finger of your dominant hand with the tip pointed downwards. Be sure to keep the tip clean and do not allow it to contact the cat, the eye or any other surface. If this occurs, clean the tip by wiping it off with a clean cloth or ask your veterinarian for specific cleaning instructions.
  • Use the last two fingers of the same hand to pull back the upper eyelid. Place your remaining fingers under the cat’s jaw to support the head. The lower eyelid will act as a pouch to receive the drops.
  • Hold the bottle close to the eye but ensure you DO NOT touch the eye’s surface.
  • Squeeze the prescribed number of drops onto the eyeball, aiming for the center of the eye, and then release the head.

The cat will blink, spreading the medication over the surface of the eye. It is normal for your cat to blink or paw at the eye after administering the drops. If this persists or if the eye appears more inflamed or red after administration of the medication, consult with your veterinarian.

Giving your Cat liquid medication

The easiest way to give your cat liquid medication is to mix it in with some canned food. To ensure that all of the medication is ingested, it is best to give a small amount of food that the cat is certain to eat rather than a large portion that the cat may not complete. Some cats may be unwilling to eat the food or may have dietary restrictions that prevent you from using this technique. If this is the case, you will need to administer the medication directly into the cat’s mouth.

Prepare an area where you can safely handle your cat. Have the medication ready and in a place where it will be easily accessible. If you are administering the medication by yourself, you may find it easiest to place your cat in your lap. It may be advisable to restrain the cat by wrapping it in a blanket or towel with only its head exposed. The first few times, it may be helpful to have someone else hold the wrapped cat while you administer the medication. Make sure you have carefully read the prescription label and understand the dosing instructions. Verify that you are administering the correct drug and amount. Shake the medication gently if required prior to drawing the medication into the syringe or dropper.

  • Hold the syringe or dropper containing the medication with your dominant hand.
  • First, allow the cat to lick the medication from the tip of the syringe as you slowly depress the plunger. The cat may accept the medication more readily if it is warmed to room temperature.
  • If your cat is not interested in licking the liquid, gently take the cat by the scruff of the neck and pull the head back. The mouth will then open slightly.
  • Place the tip of the syringe in the side of the mouth, just behind one of the canine (“fang”) teeth.
  • Advance the syringe so it is placed in the mouth just inside of the teeth. Be sure to angle the syringe slightly to the side. You do not want to forcefully inject the liquid straight into the back of the throat. This can increase the risk of the cat inhaling or aspirating the liquid.
  • Slowly squeeze the syringe to dispense the liquid medication. Make sure you do this slowly so the cat has time to swallow the liquid and breathe.
  • Most cats will spit out some of the medication. DO NOT re-medicate unless you are certain that NONE of the medication was taken.
  • Rinse the syringe thoroughly with water and refrigerate the medication if necessary.

June was Weight Awareness Month!

Weight Awareness Month
At the Guildcrest Cat Hospital, we believe that obesity plays a major role in feline illness! This is why we dedicate an entire month to making sure we spread awareness and educate our clients to the best of our abilities with the latest data and trending diet plans.  And that’s where you come in! If you are interested in helping your cat reach his/her goal weight, all you have to do is book a free weight consultation, bring your pal along and we will take it from there!

Why is weight awareness important?
Weight awareness is important for your cat because obesity is a major cause of the following illnesses in cats:
  • Diabetes
  • Fatty Liver Disease
  • Heart Failure
  • Arthritis
  • Urinary Tract Infections
  • Shorter Life Expectancy