Monthly Archives: April 2013

Tips for a Happy and Healthy Kitten

Blissfully-cute-baby-animals-cat-kitten-4

Getting a new kitten is one of the best things in the world. They’re cute, soft as down, and as cuddly as, well, kittens. Nearly irresistible, kittens melt even the toughest of hearts; even Attila the Hun was thought to have several dozen kittens around at any given time (never verified, but he was a soft-on-the-inside kind of guy, so who’s to say?).

It’s good to get things started off on the right paw, and the food and care you choose can make all the difference in the health and happiness of your growing kitten. Here are 10 starter tips for you and your “mew” companion.

1. Continue feeding your kitten its “normal” diet, but slowly introduce high quality kitten food (i.e., high in protein and taurine, and low in fillers and carbs) into the mix; consult your veterinarian as to what best serves your cat. After it has adjusted, feed it the high quality food exclusively.

2. Feed your kitten at least three times a day from a shallow plate. Remember, they’re tiny things and so they need easy access to their food. Snacks, especially during the growing stage, should also be included. Small amounts of high-protein foods like cooked egg yolk, boneless fish, and cooked or raw liver will be a great treat, and will help build strong bones.

3. That said, it’s alright to feed your kitten frequently while it is growing (under six months old), even several times a day. If your kitten prefers grazing or eats modestly, keep a small amount of dry kibble available in a dish for it throughout the day.

4. Dry or Wet? Many owners find a happy balance between the two. Perhaps wet food in the evening and dry in the day.

5. Always have fresh water available and check it throughout the day for cleanliness. Keep in mind that water is enough, no other liquid needs to be given. In fact, cow milk can cause quite a tummy ache and should be avoided. Yes, cats like the taste of milk and will drink it if you give it to them in a bowl. But that’s not saying much, seeing as they also like the taste of antifreeze. Leave cow milk to small calves — and people.

6. When you first bring your kitten home, it’s a good idea to keep your kitten in the same room with the litter box for a few days so that it may get used to it. Kittens don’t need much in the way of training. Often, just knowing where the box is is enough of an incentive to use it; cats naturally prefer to bury their waste.

7. Keep a close eye on your kitten. They’re small, curious, and can get into trouble. It is all too easy for a small animal to get
caught between furniture and appliances, fall into a toilet, or be stepped on. Until it learns self safety, you will be your kitten’s best line of defense.

8. Take your kitten for a checkup and all appropriate immunizations.

9. Getting your kitten spayed or neutered makes for a healthier and happier cat, and thus a happier you. Fixed cats don’t go into heat or get pregnant and are less likely to get into fights or spray urine. Neutering is usually done around six months, but most younger kittens handle this small surgery very well, and can have it done anytime after two months, but your vet will be the best judge of this. Make the appointment in advance, based on your vet’s advice.

10. Play with your kitten. A piece of string, crumpled paper, or a toy from pet store – almost anything can be a toy. Kittens (and cats) love to play. The bond you begin now, through play and unconditional love, will be unshakable for many years to come.

Love your kitten and treat it well. Soon, your kitten will grow into a beautiful, faithful, and loving cat.

Heartworm Myths

Image

There’s No Effective Natural Prevention

According to Dr. Gerald Wessner of the Holistic Veterinary Clinic in Summerfield, FL, holistic pet parents do have an alternative to traditional heartworm preventive drugs. He has documented success over an 8-year period using heartworm nosodes (a homeopathic vaccine) in conjunction with Paratox (a multi-remedy of homeopathics) and including diatomaceous earth in pets’ food.

People Can Get Heartworms from their Pets

Again, the only way to get heartworms is to be bitten by an infected mosquito. The parasite only affects dogs, cats, ferrets, and other mammals. According to the American Heartworm Society, humans can be infected (by mosquitoes) in very rare cases, but the heartworm cannot complete its life cycle in humans and only causes a benign lesion in the lung.

Heartworms are Contagious

Fortunately, this is untrue. The only way your pet can get heartworms is if he is bitten by an infected mosquito. Although that same mosquito can go on to bite another pet, it couldn’t transmit the heartworm from one animal to another. The incubation period of the heartworm in the mosquito makes it a one-bite deal.

Heartworm Disease is Rarely Fatal

Fact: Heartworm disease is a serious, life-threatening illness that mandates preventive measures and aggressive treatment. If left unchecked and untreated, heartworms can multiply to 50 or even 100 in severe infections, and can block blood flow and oxygen availability. Your pet cannot live without adequate blood supply and oxygen to breathe.

Pets Aren’t at Risk During the Winter

Although mosquitoes, like other insects, tend to die off in very cold weather, warm periods with rain can occur during the winter — even in northern states. Also, mosquito seasons can vary depending on the area and according to how much water is present. Don’t take the risk; get your pet year-round protection.

Mosquito Season Occurs the Same Time Every Year

According to the American Heartworm Society’s latest survey of veterinarians, unseasonably mild winters combined with early springs bring the perfect conditions for an early start to mosquito season. With the unpredictability of the weather in recent years, no particular months or seasons are guaranteed to be mosquito-free.

Know When to Change Your Pet’s Food

Image

Choosing the proper diet is one of the most important ways owners can ensure their pet’s long term health, but it’s no substitute for medical care. If you suspect your pet may have a medical condition that would benefit from a new diet, be sure to have a checkup with your vet to make sure you’re on the right path before making any changes! Good food and good choices lead to a long, healthy, happy life.

Dull, Flaky Coat

Diets rich in essential fatty acids are a key component in keeping a pet’s skin healty, and therefore his or her coat, in tip top shape. Many pet foods are designed with skin and coat improvement in mind. Look for a diet containing both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids to make your pet’s coat shiny and bright in no time.

Lethargy/Weakness

If your pet had recently undergone a stressful event, illness, or surgery, he may understandably be a little worn out. Diets with high levels of antioxidants can help boost the immune response to accelerate your pet’s recovery and get them back on their feet in no time. Remember: a pet who is suddenly acting lethargic and weak should be evaluated by a veterinarian before making dietary changes.

‘Senioritis’

Depending on the size of the animal, pets are considered middle-aged to senior around 5-7 years. And as our pets age, their nutrient requirements change too. Senior diets, for example, are generally lower in calories but higher in fiber, and often have supplements specific to this lifestage such as joint support and antioxidants. AAFCO does not have requirements for senior pets, however, so look for a food labeled for “adult maintenance.” This is because an “all life stage” food is formulated with kittens and puppies in mind. It will also deliver too much fat and nutrients your senior pet does not require. In fact, the pet food could even be harmful to a senior pet.

Hefty Midsection

It doesn’t take much for a pet to wind up with some extra weight on their frame — and this is particularly noticeable with small pets. If your pet needs to lose a few inches, a diet specifically designated for weight loss will ensure that they still have the proper amount of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals while ingesting fewer calories. These diets take advantage of the latest research in pet weight management to ensure your pet is on their way to a healthier weight in no time! If your pet is extremely overweight or obese, however, it’s best that you consult with your veterinarian for a therapeutic nutritional solution.

GI Disturbances

Chronic flatulence, loose stool, or rumbly stomachs can be the result of food intolerance or the low quality of food that you’re feeding your pet. Some pets simply don’t tolerate certain diets or ingredients as well as other ones. GI upset is an inconvenience to owners as well as being uncomfortable for your pet. If this is an ongoing problem for you, ask your health care professional to diagnose the problem. The solution may be as easy as switching to premium food or a sensitive stomach diet that’s right for your pet.

An Itch that Won’t Quit

Allergies are common in pets, and food is just one of several possible causes. Regardless of the cause, though, allergic pets may benefit from a low-allergen diet that reduces the amount of potential allergens they are exposed to. Your veterinarian can recommend either a prescription diet or an over the counter sensitive skin diet, depending on your pet’s particular needs.