Educational Resources

We’ve been around cats our entire lives and we know a thing or two about them. We believe understanding feline behavior is key to creating a strong bond and to creating a nurturing, welcoming environment for our feline friends. We hope you will find the links below informative.

ANSWERS TO YOUR TOP CAT QUESTIONS!

Why do cats purr?

​The audible vibration that we love so much, purring, is a bit of a mystery still, but most research shows that it is a result of the larynx (voice box) and diaphragm (main muscle used for breathing) working together via signals from a cat’s brain.  It is thought to originate as a soothing sound from the queen (mother) cat to her kittens.  However, cats will continue to purr in life when they are feeling affectionate or loved.  Some will purr to soothe themselves when asleep, injured, sick, or even nervous.  Just like each cat is an individual, each cat has its own characteristic purr.

We do know that purring is an intentional thing which cats, even wild ones, do on purrrrose.  So when your sweet furry friend rubs against your leg or hand or jumps in your lap, you should be flattered and charmed–and reciprocate with their favorite forms of affection that you know they love.


What are whiskers for?

Cats have about 12 whiskers, or vibrissae, on each side of their face. They are thicker than normal hairs and contain a blood and nerve supply. They are very important! Cat use their whiskers to tell their position in space and what is going on around them. They sense air currents and provide information on the cat’s body to help it land the perfect jump or balance on a narrow ledge. Cats even can change the position of their whiskers, along with their ears, eyes, and mouth, to signify different moods.


Why do cats hate water?
Cats have a reputation for hating water, however many of you may know a cat with a fascination for water.  Those likely don’t like it due to their fur, which is not made for being soaked and be very heavy when it is.  Many cats love running water and in the wild have no hesitation to fish for food.  Some domestic breeds, such as the popular Maine Coon, truly love water!

What is it about catnip?​

Nepeta cataria is an herb similar to spearmint.  It contains an oil which acts on a cat’s olfactory senses and produces a pleasurable effect.  It is not harmful, but cats can vary in their responses to it.  Some cats become overly affectionate and playful while others may get a bit aggressive.

Surprisingly, the attraction for catnip is a genetic trait, and about 50% of cats will have no interest or effect from catnip.  Most cats do not have any response until they are 3-6 months old, so if your kitten has better things to do when you present him with this treat, try again in a few months.  It can be used as a reward such as at scratching posts to encourage appropriate behaviors!


What is a group of cats called?

Many people know a group of related kittens is called a litter.  Other groups of cats are often referred to, interestingly, as a “clowder”.  This originates from a Middle English term, “clotter’, which means “to huddle together”.  Not to be confused with “clutter”….which may be a direct result of a clowder.


Why is my cat obsessed with eating grass?

Eating grass is often a way for cats to relieve stomach or intestinal upset.  It can be a sign of underlying disease (GI disease, parasites, infections), so a cat that is eating a lot of grass should definitely be seen by a veterinarian.  Another theory is  that cats crave nutrients in leafy plants, however if your cat is on a balanced cat food diet, this should not be the case.
Finally, just as is often the case with our whiskered friends, they may eat grass…just because they like it.


Why do cats knead with their paws?

Kneading (or what we often affectionately call “making muffins”), is an instinctual behavior from kittenhood.  Kittens knead their mother’s mammary glands to stimulate milk production.  They may continue to do this as an adult to settle down, show affection, or prepare an area to rest on comfortably.  Often they are simply kneading out of content and because it feels good.


How long do cats live?

There is a direct correlation between cat lifespan and level of veterinary care that they receive.  On average, it is reported that cats live around 15 years.  However, we frequently track this for our interest and at Cat Care Clinic, where our clients are diligent about regular veterinary visits (including preventative care and early treatment and management of chronic conditions).   Our patients often live comfortably up to 20+ years. Our eldest cat lived to be 28 years old.  Of course, genetics, living conditions (indoor vs outdoor) and obesity can all factor into a cat’s lifespan.  Quality of life often outweighs quantity of life, and we strive for the best of both!


FELINE DISEASE & MEDICAL CONDITIONS

 

Feline Diseases

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a fatal viral disease caused by a strain of virus called feline coronavirus (FCoV). Many cats carry this worldwide virus. FIP is much more prevalent in multi-cat households, shelters, and breeding colonies. Most cats carry the feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) which, rarely causes disease in itself. When the feline coronavirus mutates into a strain of the virus that has the ability to cause disease it is referred to as the FIP virus. It is fortunate that the mutation only occurs rarely.


Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can cause many types of illness as well as death in infected cats. However, FIV does not infect humans or other animals.

Feline immunodeficiency virus is more commonly found in male cats that are not neutered and in cats that fight with other cats. It is found less often in kittens and neutered adult cats. The virus is spread through the saliva and is usually passed to other cats by bite wounds.

In North America, about 3 to 5% of tested cats are found to be infected with FIV. In Latin America, up to 25% of tested cats are found to be infected.


Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a common infectious disease that occurs in cats. It can cause many types of illness as well as death in infected cats. However, FeLV does not infect humans or other animals.

Feline leukemia virus infection is more commonly spread among cats that live together. The virus can also be spread from mother to kittens, and among cats that fight. It is mainly spread through saliva when cats groom each other, and when food and water bowls are shared.

In North America, about 4% of tested cats are found to be infected with FeLV. In Latin America, up to 42% of tested cats are found to be infected.


Feline Chronic Renal Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) describes the gradual loss of kidney function over time. The kidneys normally filter waste products out of the blood. The waste is then excreted, or released, in the urine. Cats with CKD have kidneys that are not functioning properly. So, the waste products accumulate in their bloodstream and they suffer from symptoms of this illness. CKD occurs over a period of time, and can be deadly for cats


Feline Heartworm Disease

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) describes the gradual loss of kidney function over time. The kidneys normally filter waste products out of the blood. The waste is then excreted, or released, in the urine. Cats with CKD have kidneys that are not functioning properly. So, the waste products accumulate in their bloodstream and they suffer from symptoms of this illness. CKD occurs over a period of time, and can be deadly for cats.


Feline Hyperthyroid Disease

Feline hyperthyroidism is the most common endocrine disorder in middle-aged and older cats. It occurs in about 10% of cats over 10 years of age. Hyperthyroidism is a disease caused by an overactive thyroid gland that secretes excess thyroid hormone. Cats typically have two thyroid glands, one gland on each side of the neck. One or both glands may be affected. The excess thyroid hormone causes an overactive metabolism that stresses the heart, digestive tract, and many other organ systems.

If your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with hyperthyroidism, your cat should receive some form of treatment to control the symptoms. Many cats who are diagnosed early can be treated successfully. When hyperthyroidism is left untreated, symptoms will progress leading to marked weight loss and serious complications due to damage to the cat’s heart, kidneys, and other organ systems.


Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

Lower urinary tract diseases are a group of conditions that can affect your cat’s ability to urinate or use the litter box normally. Your veterinarian might refer to this as FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases), or LUTS (Lower Urinary Tract Signs). You might see some or all of the lower urinary tract signs listed below regardless of your cat’s urinary tract disease.

diseases-rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including cats and humans. The virus is transmissible between from living animals to people, so it is considered a “zoonotic disease.” The virus is generally carried by groups of wild animals that vary based on the geographic region and can include skunks, bats, raccoons, foxes, along with feral cats and dogs.


Zoonotic Disease

Zoonotic diseases (zoonoses) are illnesses that sometimes develop after being exposed to infectious organisms that are passed between animals and people. You can take precautions to minimize your risk of getting a zoonotic disease. Please note that your cat can be carrying an infectious organism but not show any visible signs of sickness. Also, in some situations, people can be a source of infection for cats (reverse zoonoses).


Feline Medical Conditions

Feline diabetes, known as diabetes mellitus, has become an increasingly common condition in cats. It often occurs in cats that are overweight and/or older. As in humans, cats have a pancreas that should produce insulin to regulate the sugar (glucose) in their bodies from their diet. Diabetes occurs when a cat’s body is not able to properly balance out the sugar in their bloodstream.

If your veterinarian diagnoses your cat with diabetes, you will need to work together to create a plan to manage this disease. You are an important part in creating a treatment plan for your cat. When diabetes goes untreated, you may notice increased signs and symptoms (listed below) which can progress leading to pain, nerve damage, muscle weakness, other diseases or conditions, or even death.


Obesity

Is your cat overweight? Do you know what a healthy body weight is for your cat?

The images of fat cats made popular in comic strips and internet memes has changed people’s ideas of a cat’s ideal or normal body weight. It’s quite possible your feline friend is carrying around a little (or a lot) of extra weight.

Your veterinarian can help you figure out a healthy weight for your cat.


CARING FOR CATS

As a member of the family, your cat deserves the very best possible care. One of the best ways to ensure your cat stays healthy is by making sure they have an annual preventive care check-up, or more frequently for senior cats and those with chronic conditions.

During the check-up, your veterinarian will review your cat’s nutrition, lifestyle, environmental enrichment (key resources such as food, water, litter box, scratching areas, play areas, resting areas, etc.), disease and parasite prevention, and behavior. This is also the perfect time for you to ask questions and share any changes in your cat’s behavior. Even very minor changes could be a sign of a medical issue.

With a thorough physical exam plus the information you share, you and your veterinarian can create a plan to meet the individualized needs of your cat. Regular check-ups are key to a healthy and happy cat.


Environmental Needs of Cats

Like humans, cats have needs in order to make them feel happy and secure. To help understand the “core resources” your cat needs, think about when you move to a new apartment/house.

What do you do to feel comfortable and make this new place your home? Typically we clean, stock the bathroom and kitchen, make up our bed with our own sheets and pillows, and then decorate with curtains, pictures, and personal items.

Your cat’s needs are similar and you want to make sure you have an environment that makes your cat feel comfortable.


Adopting a Cat/Kitten

Congratulations on considering to adopt a new cat or kitten! Bringing a newly adopted cat into your home is very exciting, but it can also be stressful. Our feline veterinarians have created some helpful information and important tips regarding adoption which can help you provide a smooth transition of your new cat into your family.


Setting up Adoption Success

The “3 P’s” Patience, Planning, and Preparation — are critical to the success of introducing a new cat. Sadly, approximately 50% of newly adopted cats are surrendered because of lack of planning or realizing the commitment of adopting a cat. By taking the following steps you can greatly improve the success of this adoption and bond with your new cat:


Introducing a Cat/Kitten

When you already have cats as part of your family, introducing your newly adopted cat can seem like an overwhelming task. Patience is key–the transition can take several weeks, but by planning ahead you can reduce some stress, allow for an easier transition, and build a positive relationship between your feline companions.


Dental Care for Cats

Maybe you’ve never really thought about it before, but proper dental care is just as important for your cat’s health as your dental care is to your overall health.


Signs and Symptoms

If you notice changes in your cat’s behavior or general condition, you should call your veterinarian right away. There could be a medical issue that needs to be tended to immediately.


Senior Care

There isn’t one specific age that classifies a cat as senior. Like people, some cats age faster than others. Generally speaking, however, older cats can be placed into one of three groups:

  • Mature or middle-aged: 7–10 years (44-56 years for humans)
  • Senior: 11–14 years (60-72 years for humans)
  • Geriatric: 15+ years (76+ years for humans)

Feline Toxins and Poisons

With a keen sense of curiosity and dedication to cleanliness, your cat can get into trouble if he makes contact with a toxic substance. In 2014, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) answered more than 167,000 phone calls about pets exposed to poisonous substances.


Parasite Prevention

Parasite control is an integral part of your cat’s wellness program and year-round preventive care is essential. Parasites affect your cat’s health and some, referred to as “zoonotic parasites,” are transmissible to people as well.

For example, flea infestation prevention for your cat can protect the entire family from “cat scratch disease,” caused by the Bartonella bacteria, which is carried by fleas. Another important zoonotic parasite to be aware of is roundworm, which can cause vision impairment and blindness in people. An annual control plan for both external and internal parasites not only protects your cat, but you and your family members as well.


​Cat Owner Videos

Below is a list of videos that have been created to help cat owners understand the importance of routine veterinary care and how Cat Friendly Practices® (CFP) can help their cats. The series offers a glimpse into how CFPs are able to provide the highest quality-of-care while showing owners a commitment to address the distinct health needs and special considerations of feline patients. To view the entire YouTube playlist, click here.


 

FELINE BEHAVIOR AND CARE TIPS

 

Providing your cat with good health care, especially preventive health care, can allow her to live a longer, more comfortable life. However, this cannot happen unless you take your cat to see the veterinarian routinely. Many cats dislike going to the veterinarian, and that usually starts with the difficulty of getting your cat into the carrier. Once you’ve mastered how to get your cat into their carrier, the entire veterinary visit is usually less stressful.


Claw Trimming

Regularly trimming your cat’s nails can prevent injury and damage to household items. Make sure you have proper feline nail trimmers so your cat’s nails don’t splinter. The frequency of nail trimming will depend on your cat’s lifestyle. Indoor cats, kittens, and older cats will need more regular nail trims. Outdoor cats may naturally wear down their nails requiring less frequent trimming.


Alternatives to Declawing

You can live harmoniously alongside your cat with claws and still maintain nice furniture by understanding a bit more about your cat’s natural behaviors, and enriching your home with items your cat can scratch. Let’s learn more about your cat’s amazing body.


Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

Congratulations on deciding to brush your cat’s teeth! Below are step-by-step instructions to assist you. Please read through them all first, as well as the tips on how to teach your cat to accept you brushing her teeth, before you try it for the first time.

Remember to take your time and take a break if you feel you or your cat becoming stressed.


Medicating Your Cat

Giving medication to your cat can be an intimidating task, but with some patience and proper instruction you can learn how to it. Here are a few tips and tricks that can help you:

  1. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to give your cat the medication.
  2. Do your best to remain calm. Your cat can pick-up on your stress, so take a deep breath and move slowly and confidently.
  3. Be prepared! Make sure you have the medication and any dropper ready and within arm’s reach.
  4. Tip your cat’s head back so her nose is straight up.
  5. If you are giving your cat a pill, make sure you place it back far on your cat’s tongue. It is easier for her to swallow and she is less likely to spit it out.
  6. Gently massage your cat’s throat to help her swallow the pill.

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine’s videos provide step-by-step instructions for administering both liquid and pill form medication.


Teaching Kids About Cats

A family cat can bring endless joy to your household, but it is important to teach children of all ages how to appropriately interact with their furry friend.

With older children, you can have a simple conversation. The younger children may have a harder time grasping how to properly handle and play with your cat. Younger children are more likely to unintentionally play rough and take their frustrations out on pets. If your children are too young to understand spoken instructions on “playing nice” then your best bet is to lead by example.