Cat Diseases

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Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

FIP is a difficult disease to diagnose and to treat. Testing for this disease is not very accurate and the clinical signs are easily confused with a number of other diseases. The disease does not appear to affect all cats exposed to it in the same way. The only certain diagnoses are made at the time of a necropsy exam (autopsy). This makes FIP one of the most frustrating diseases for veterinarians and their clients.

FIP is caused by a coronavirus. There are other coronaviruses that affect cats but that do not produce feline infectious peritonitis.The most common of these are the feline enteric coronaviruses. The antibodies produced against these other diseases are too similar to FIP virus for current tests to be able to distinguish between them. This is the difficulty in making a definite diagnosis of FIP. To make matters worse, a negative titer (no discernible antibodies) to FIP does not rule out the disease. There are several possible explanations for this but it is not uncommon for cats to have negative FIP titers when the disease is present.

Feline infectious peritonitis is probably the most common cause of unexplained fevers in cats. It can cause a number of other signs, as well. Lethargy, weight loss, eye disease, swelling of the abdomen or fluid in the chest can all occur with FIP. Many secondary problems, such as liver or kidney disease can occur with FIP. Any cat with fevers that do not respond to antibiotics should be considered as a candidate for this disease. In any chronic illness in cats for which no other cause can be found, FIP should be considered. There are two commonly recognized syndromes associated with feline infectious peritonitis. In the “classic” FIP case, fluid accumulates in the abdomen and it can become quite distended. This is known as the effusive form of FIP. The abdominal distension does not appear to be painful. The other recognized syndrome is the “dry” form of FIP, in which the symptoms of fever, weight loss and other clinical signs develop but there is no fluid accumulation. This is the more common form of the disease.

Not all cats that are exposed to the FIP coronavirus will develop the disease. In colonies of cats in which this disease is known to be present, estimates are that 8 to 20% of cats exposed to the virus will develop clinical signs of FIP. The rest of the cats may become immune to the disease or may simply not react to it. The reason that only a relatively small number of cats exposed to the virus develop the disease is unclear. It is known that the cell mediated immune response is the primary protection for the cat’s body in the case of FIP. Cats that do not have a good cell mediated response may be more susceptible to the disease. The humoral (antibody) defense system actually enhances the damage caused by FIP virus and seems to be partly the culprit in the death of affected cats.

The “war” with the FIP virus is won or lost at the places it seeks to gain access to the body. The cellular immune system consists of the white blood cells that find and destroy pathogens. If a cat has a competent cellular immune system, it has a good chance of becoming immune or of becoming a carrier of FIP with no apparent symptoms. If the white blood cells fail to find and kill the virus where it seeks to enter the body through the nasal passages and oral tissue, then the humoral (antibody) immune system takes over. Unfortunately, it appears that the complexes of antibody and virus (antigen) that develop are very harmful to the body. The immune response appears to be the cause of death in FIP cats since cats that can not mount an effective antibody response are not affected by this virus.

FIP virus itself lasts in the environment for up to 6 weeks. It is easily killed with disinfectants, so careful cleansing of a household may help prevent the spread of the disease if a cat with FIP is identified in a household with more than one cat. Due to the delay in the appearance of clinical symptoms once infection occurs, it is likely that most cats in a household have been exposed to the virus by the time it becomes evident that one of the cats is sick. Reducing stress levels by resisting overcrowding of cats in a household, providing adequate litter pans and vaccinating for other diseases may be helpful in reducing the spread of FIP as well.

Once the FIP virus gains access to the cat’s body it takes about 2 weeks for the virus to become widespread. After that, the length of time to clinical symptoms is variable but probably rarely exceeds 2 months. Most cats with FIP will die within 2 to 11 months from the damage caused by the virus, the immune system and secondary problems such as kidney or liver failure. An exception to this might be cats that are able to fight off the disease at the cellular level but never completely clear it from their bodies. It is possible that these cats are carriers of the disease and that they may be affected later in life if some immunosuppressive disease or event inhibits their ability to keep the FIP virus in check.

It is possible to measure antibodies against coronaviruses in cats. This is the “FIP test” that is commonly available. Unfortunately, the cross reaction with other coronavirus antibodies makes it very likely that there will be antibodies found, sometimes in high levels, whether an FIP infection is present or not. To further complicate matters, it is not unusual for cats with FIP to have negative antibody titers because of antigen/antibody interactions, exhaustion of the ability to produce antibody, or other factors. When cats have the “effusive” form of FIP in which abdominal fluid accumulation occurs, the thick, straw colored fluid has characteristics that strongly suggest FIP. It is possible to run a more specialized lab test, a polymerase chain reaction test for FIP, on this fluid. This type of testing is more accurate than FIP antibody testing but still is not definitive. Blood tests to compare the various protein levels in the blood can be very suggestive of FIP infection, as well. High immunglobulin levels are very suggestive of FIP in the presence of clinical signs. Despite all of this, there is no clear-cut way to make a sure diagnosis of FIP prior to death. There are many instances in which the clinical signs and supportive lab work make it very likely that this disease is present and it is possible to be reasonably certain that FIP is the problem in many cats. It can be very very difficult to rule out FIP, though. Cats exhibit widely varying clinical signs of this illness and lab results can be completely inconclusive. It may be impossible for your veterinarian to tell you that FIP is definitely not the problem and it is easy for a veterinarian to overlook this disease when the clinical symptoms strongly resemble another problem.

There is no treatment that has been proven to work on a consistent basis for feline infectious peritonitis. Aggressive treatment of the secondary problems and suppression of the humoral immune system with corticosteroids or other medications may be beneficial in prolonging the lifespan of cats infected with this disease. There have been reports of recovery from FIP infection in a limited number of cats. Newer anti-viral treatments have not yet proven to be successful in cats in clinical situations but work continues and there is some hope that effective treatment will one day be possible.

There are two ways to prevent FIP infection. Strict sanitation and isolation of infected cats and all susceptible kittens from each other is one approach. Vaccination is the other. Sanitation appears to be a major factor in preventing the spread of this virus. In catteries with known FIP exposure, it is possible to severely limit the spread of the disease by keeping kittens isolated from adult cats after the age of 6 weeks and following good sanitary practices. As noted previously, this virus is susceptible to most disinfectants. If kittens are not exposed to other cats in the household after six weeks of age, there is a very good chance that they can avoid infection. Once they go to a home where they are the only cat, there is little chance that they will be exposed to the virus. Vaccination for FIP is a controversial subject. Studies done at Cornell University with the new vaccine seemed to show that it was not very effective and that it may even sensitize some cats to the disease. The manufacturer of the vaccine, Pfizer, believes that the study was flawed by the severity of the viral challenge used. The increased sensitivity to FIP does not appear to occur in clinical situations, at present. The decision on whether or not to vaccinate is a difficult one. The best approach is to assess the risk of infection with FIP for an individual patient and make the decision accordingly. It is unlikely that an individual housecat will be exposed to the disease and vaccination probably does not make sense for these cats. It is much more likely that cats in a large cattery will be exposed and vaccination makes more sense in this situation. Even in this case, strict isolation of kittens from infected cats would be necessary until the entire course of the vaccine is administered, to allow the vaccine time to work effectively prior to exposure to FIP virus.

Feline infectious peritonitis must always be considered in cats with persistent fevers or vague histories of “not doing right”. In multiple cat households, it is worthwhile to confirm the presence of this problem through post-mortem examination (autopsy, necropsy) of cats that have died. Knowing for sure that it is a problem will help a great deal when mapping out a plan to eliminate it from a cattery or household. If other problems are the cause of death, knowing that will help as well.

FIP is among the most complex of diseases to understand. There will continue to be controversy surrounding the prevention, treatment and diagnosis of this disease.

(c) Michael Richards, DVM

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Improving Behavior

Kittens and cats don’t misbehave just to make trouble. Their behavior is largely based on instinct and learning. The way you react to your cat will affect her habits for life. Cats are sensitive to your tone of voice. So if you catch her acting inappropriately, clap your hands and say “NO” and that’s usually enough to stop her.

Some misbehavior occurs just because your cat wants to play and is not having her social and exploratory needs met. Be sure to provide diversions such as safe toys, a box, a crumpled piece of paper, or a plastic ball, and rotate toys often to keep them interesting. Providing a window perch or climbing tower will allow your cat to engage in normal climbing behaviors in an appropriate way. Placement near a window gives them hours of enjoyment and makes them feel less alone.

Did You Know???

If your cat prefers water from the toilet or faucet, it may be because the water in the dish tastes bad. Provide plenty of clean fresh water daily! (Filtered or bottled is best) Preferably in a ceramic or stainless steel dish. This is critical to a cat’s health.

Nighttime Woes

Since cats are nocturnal, your cat may disturb you by playing at night. You can help alter this behavior by playing with your cat in the early evening, to use up some of her excess energy. Feeding her last meal later also may help, since she’ll probably get a burst of energy shortly after eating. Do not feed her or play with her if she awakens you; this only rewards such behavior. If the cat continues to be rambunctious while you sleep, a separate, safe sleeping area for the cat might be appropriate.

Nipping

Nipping can become a habit that you might be encouraging without even realizing it. When you tickle your kitten’s stomach and allow her to wrestle with your fingers she will probably respond by nipping and scratching at your hand, just like she would any other toy or another cat. By allowing her to do this, you’re reinforcing inappropriate behavior and teaching her that hand biting is allowed.

Never encourage your cat to play aggressively. If she tries to nip or scratch your hand, teach her that his behavior is not allowed. Disengage your hand by gently pushing toward her and making a loud noise to distract her (if you try to pull away, she’ll hang on even more tightly). Giver her toys instead of your hand. Leave her alone for a few minutes. Return after she has calmed down.

Talking

Loud or constant meowing, commonly called “talking” is often used as a means of communication between you and your cat. If she is lonely, anxious or has not had her social and play needs met, your cat will “talk” to you to try and get your attention.

Answer her cry by saying “hello,” using her name, and giving her the love and attention she’s craving. Be wary of encouraging long conversations; some cats may continue to vocalize when they are alone and bother your neighbors. If you are told that she continues to “talk” while you are out, you may want to leave a radio playing when you’re gone, to keep her company. It is essential that the environment be fun and stimulation. Try rotating toys, boxes and bags to help keep her occupied.

Litter Box

Most cats and kittens are by nature clean and like to bury their urine and fecal matter. If you interfere with your cat while she’s in her litter box, she may develop an aversion to using the box, so allow privacy and quiet for elimination. Always keep the box clean, remove soiled litter daily and change the litter often, at least once a week or more often if necessary. Place the box in a quiet location that your cat can access at all times. In large homes, more than one litter box may be necessary, especially if there are multiple cats in the home.

If your cat gets into the habit of using another location instead of, or in addition to, her litter box, it may be cause the litter box is dirty, because you’ve change the type of litter or the location isn’t easy enough to access or in too high a traffic area or there are not enough boxes. If this behavior continues, talk to your veterinarian to make sure it’s not caused by a medical/emotional problem.

If you cat experiences lapses in the use of her litter box that continue for a period of time, it could be the sign of something more serious. Urinary tract disorders can cause pain, burning and a constant urge to urinate even when the bladder is not full. A cat with such a problem may be forced to pass a small amount of urine whenever and wherever the urge strikes. Such disorders should be treated by your veterinarian immediately.

Ask yourself whether her litter box lapses may be caused by stress. Try to find out what is causing the problem: is it a new baby in the house, a new type of cat litter, a new litter box or a change in diet? To make her feel more secure, allow quiet time, create special times for play and social interaction daily.  If the problem persists, discuss the situation with your veterinarian.

Scratching

A common misconception is that cats “scratch” to sharpen their claws; however, they are merely satisfying the instinct to stretch and “clean” their claws. Another reason cats “scratch” is to mark their territory. They do this by leaving a visible sign and their scent, which is released from glands between their toes. Your cat will try to satisfy this biological urge regularly and if her scratching post is convenient and in the proper location, she’ll leave your furniture alone. If you’re having trouble getting your cat to use the post, try placing it in a more prominent location and rubbing catnip on it to make it more appealing.

When she starts to scratch something that’s off limits, clap your hands sharply and say “NO” in a stern voice. Then pick her up, take her to the scratching post and play with her there with her favorite toy, encouraging her to climb and scratch. Stimulate her urge to stretch by petting her with firm strokes down the neck and back. Always reward her with gentle petting and praise when she uses her post properly. If you have a large house, you may want to have two or more posts – one near her bed and one near a couch or chair that seems particularly appealing to her. An easy way to prevent your cat from damaging furniture is to apply double-faced tape to the areas where she is most likely to scratch, or keep her in a cat-proofed room when she cannot be supervised. If a scratching post simply isn’t curbing your cats need to scratch; consider trimming her nails. Your local groomer can provide this service, or you can purchase a cat nail trimmer at your local pet store. In addition, you may consider “caps” for your cat’s claws. These usually rubber like caps are glued onto your cat’s claws and generally stay on for 2 – 4 weeks. If you’re considering de-clawing your cat, please consider reading our tip sheet on de-clawing for further information. Declawing should be a last resort and isn’t necessary for all cats.

Did You Know?

Cats don’t use a scratching post to sharpen their claws. They scratch to satisfy the instinct to stretch and clean their claws, in addition to marking their territory!

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Your Cats Health

Monitoring

While forming a good relationship with your cat’s veterinarian is important, getting to know what is normal for your cat is crucial. Just like a parent with a child, you will know what is an abnormal behavior for your cat and you might be able to help your veterinarian discover the source of any problem that may arise before it is life threatening. Early detection saves lives.

 

Veterinarian Visits

It is highly recommended a wellness check be performed on your cat at least once a year. During your visit, the veterinarian will check the condition of your cat’s eyes and ears; listen to the sounds of her heart and breathing; feel her abdomen and coat; and inspect her mouth for disease or tooth tartar. They may require tests such as examination of a stool sample for internal parasites and blood tests to uncover disease. Regular tests and vaccinations are especially important during a kitten’s first year.

 

All cats, even indoor pets, need to be vaccinated. Some viruses travel through the air or may be brought into your house on people’s clothing or shoes. There is also the risk that an indoor cat may get out or that a disease-carrying cat may wonder into your yard or house.  Your veterinarian will provide routine vaccinations for feline distemper and upper respiratory disease. In addition, ask your veterinarian if your cat should be vaccinated against Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). Remember, some vaccines must be given as a series over a period of time, and many may require boosters. Your cat’s initial rabies vaccination is essential and should be given sometime between 3 – 4 months of age. Through various tests and vaccines, modern veterinary science can provide a degree of protection from many feline diseases.

Symptoms of Illness

Even with good care, your cat may not always be in the best of health. She may have a flurry of sneezes or a coughing spell. She may vomit occasionally, even if she is not seriously ill. But if these symptoms persist, don’t ignore them. Take her to the veterinarian right away. A change in behavior is often the first sign of illness. Other signs to watch for, which indicate that your cat may need veterinary attention include:

Diarrhea which persists for more than 24 hours or accompanies other signs of illness. * Constipation which persists for more than 24 hours. *Persistent vomiting of a greenish-yellow bile; or vomiting blood which colors the vomit dark red, brown or black. * Labored breathing or panting. * Straining to urinate or blood in the urine. * Acute swelling of small body lumps which gradually increase in size. * Lameness or pain.* Loss of appetite for several days in a row. * Sudden loss of weight or weight gain. * A dull, patchy coat which sheds heavily. * Red, watery eyes or nasal discharge. * Lying or crouching listlessly. * Failure to wash herself. * Failure to use the litter box, or using and inappropriate location. * Hiding in dark places. * Resents or resists handling. * Scratching or biting by a normally even-tempered kitten or cat. * Other unusual symptoms.

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Cat-Proof Your Home

Kittens and cats are lively and curious, which can lead them into serious trouble unless you take preventative measures!

It’s practically impossible to totally cat-proof your home against accidents, but for your cat’s safety, here are some suggestions. And remember, that your cat has a lower vantage point than your own – like a baby who has begun to crawl – and may be attracted to things you do not see when you are standing.

·         Securely screen all windows to help prevent falls. Keep your cat off balconies, upper porches and high decks.

 

·         Securely store poisonous materials. Keep these in tightly closed areas where your cat cannot gain access.  Remember, cats are handy little creatures and have been known to open cabinets and doors. Some common materials that are posonous to cats include: Antifreeze * Cleaning Supplies * Disinfectants * Fertilizer * Laundry Detergent & Bleach * Medications * Rodent/Ant/Inscet Poison * Paint & Paint Thinnner * Mothballs * Pesticides

 

·         Remove  poisonous houseplants or place them in hanging baskets completely out of your cat’s reach. Ask your veterinarian or university agricultrual extension service for a complete lis of dangerous plants. Some of the more common plants which are poisonous to cats are include here on the left.

 

·         Keep toilet lids down. Cats may play in the water and the lid could close and trap them. Also, residual toilet bowl cleanser left in the bowl is harmful if swallowed.

 

·         Store plastic bags away from your cats reach. Your cat could get trapped inside and suffocate, or she might chew and swallow bits of plastic, which could be harmful to her.

 

·         Keep exposed electrical & telephone cords as short as possible, or secure them against a baseboard so your cat can’t play with or chew them. Cord covers are also available.

Keeping your cat indoors provides the ultimate safety. Cats who go outdoors are exposed to disease, fights with other animals, automobiles and the possibility of becoming lost. Indoor cats tend to live longer, healthier lives!

Common

Houseplants Poisonous to Cats

Philodendron

Ivy

Mistletoe

Rubber Plant

Iris

Clematis

Azalea

Lillies

Poinsettia

Corn Plant

Rhododendron

Morning Glory

Oleander

Amaryllis

Daffodil

Dumb Cane

Holly

Narcissus

Buckeye

Iris

Yew

Castor Bean

Cyclamen

Daphne

Foxglove

Precatory Bean

 

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Spaying & Neutering

Neutering (for males) or spaying (for females) is a responsible way to prevent the birth of unwanted litters. It may also improve your kitten’s disposition and prevent many undesirable behaviors such as urinating, or “spraying,” around the house. Spaying and neutering are so widely recommended, many shelters and humane societies require this procedure before the cat can be adopted so that more unwanted kittens don’t come into the world.

Spaying is the surgical removal of the female cat’s uterus and ovaries. After spaying, she will not experience heat cycles or become pregnant. Most veterinarians feel that five to six months of age is the ideal time for spaying, before you cat has her first heat. When a cat is in heat, she becomes restless, nervous and tense. She may roll on the floor frequently and appear more demanding. Her voice may also become more piercing and she may attempt to get outdoors to find a mate.

Since your cat has been spayed, her disposition should only change for the better. She’ll probably be more relaxed, playful and affectionate and may become less nervous and noisy. Spaying a female cat also helps reduce the risk of uterine infections, tumors of the reproduction system, false pregnancies and conditions related to hormonal imbalances.

Neutering is the surgical removal of the male cat’s testicles through two small incisions in the scrotum. If not neutered, your male ca may exhibit an uncontrollable urge to roam by the time he turns one year old. As he grows older, he may develop the habit of spraying walls and furniture with streams of urine as a way to claiming territory. Once sprayed, furniture may be impossible to deodorize.

Ideally, a male kitten should be neutered between 6 – 8 months, before he acquires the “spraying” habit. However, neutering an older cat is still definitely worthwhile, since it should weaken, if not eliminate, those unpleasant tomcat traits.

Did you know?

Over 25,000 cats and kittens are killed in metro shelters alone because they were born!

Altering does not make your pet fat or lazy. It does NOT spoil the animals personality. Fixed cats still kill mice and Spayed females are still loving.

Altered cats are more relaxed pets because they are not driven to mate and less inclined to defend territory. They are less apt to fight with other animals.

 

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Bringing Home Your New Cat

Congratulations! You have just begun a relationship that’s bound to be filled with fun and affection. Let’s get you starting off on the right foot!

Before She Comes Home…

Cats are territorial, and coming into a new home leaves them feeling really uneasy. There’s all that unexplored space, and who knows what lurks there! Provide a small area to call her own for the first week or so. A bathroom or laundry room works well. Furnish the room with cat food, water, a litter box and a cat bed or blankets to lay on.

The litter box should be filled with approximately 2 inches of litter.

Cats love to get away from it all in small places. You can provide one for your new cat as her own little safe haven. If she came home in a cat carrier, that might be a good choice. You can also make one by

cutting a doorway for her in the end of a box. If you prefer, you can buy a covered cat bed at a pet supply store as well.

A cat’s claws need to be worn down, and they do this by scratching on things. Since you prefer that it not be your chairs and sofa, provide your cat with a socially acceptable scratching place. Some types are made of corrugated cardboard and lie on the floor; others are posts which have to be tall enough so that the cat can extend herself upward to scratch.  You can encourage your cat to use the post by sprinkling it with catnip or dangling a toy from the top.

 

First Days                                                

Preferably, bring her home in a cat carrier. It will feel safer to her. She has seen a lot of excitement, so taker her directly to her new room. Sit on the floor and let her come to you. Don’t force her. Just let her get acquainted on her own time. If she doesn’t approach, leave her alone and try again later. Some cats are particularly frightened, and she may retreat to her hidey hole and only come out when you’re not around at all. She may only come out at night when the house is quiet. Giver her time. Your newly adopted cat may not eat much or at all at first. It’s best to give your cat the same food she had at her foster home, at least at first. Keeping some things familiar will make her feel more secure. Be sure to change her water frequently and make sure that she is drinking. If your cat hasn’t eaten for a few days, call your vet to ask for advice.

 

Following Days….

It may take your cat a week or two to adjust. Be Patient!

As your cat adjusts, she’ll show signs that she wants to explore outside her safe haven. Make sure other pets or family members won’t startle her while she gradually expands her territory. She may be ready to play, so you can furnish some toys. Many cats like feather wands, noisy balls or fabric mice.

If the cat is openly soliciting affection, eating and not hiding, you can open the door and give her one more room. Do this slowly until you have introduced the cat to all the rooms in her new home. Remember to let the cat set the pace. Be patient. It may take weeks for the cat to comprehend that this foreign turf is her new territory! You want her to feel safe in her safe haven and have developed a bond with you before extending her space to multiple rooms in your

home. You want her to be slowly introduced to other pets in the home and to return your kitty to her safe haven anytime you are not home or unable to supervise them

with other pets until you are sure that they will be fine together.

 

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Declawing

Declawing

Claws Are Important To A Cat

A cat’s remarkable grace and agility and its faultless sense of balance are due to a great extent to its retractable claws, which allow it to establish footing for walking, running, springing, climbing, or stretching. A cat’s claws are also its best defense mechanism.

The Need To Scratch
When a cat scratches, it pulls off the old outer nail sheath and exposes sharp, smooth claws. Scratching is also a way of fulfilling the cat’s strong instinctive need to mark its territory. Not only does a cat mark an object visibly by scratching it, but the scratching deposits secretions from glands in the feet that can be smelled by other cats. Scratching may also serve psychological and physiological needs by providing comfort and expression by kneading and allowing valuable stretching and foot-muscle exercise.

Declawing Operation
The standard declawing procedure calls for the removal of the claw, and the last bone of the toe. The operation is usually performed on the front feet. It is actually an amputation comparable to the removal of the fingers of the human hand at the last knuckle. The cat experiences considerable pain in the recovery and healing process.

 

THE RISKS

Medical: As with any surgical procedure that requires general anesthesia there are risks. Complications from anesthesia and/or the surgical procedure are possible. The use of advanced anesthetics, proper monitoring of the anesthetized patient and surgery performed by a qualified veterinarian should limit the risks substantially.

Behavioral: Although no definitive studies have been conducted on the effects of declawing, owners and veterinarians have noticed personality changes in some declawed cats. Formerly lively, friendly animals have become withdrawn and introverted. Others, deprived of their primary form of defense, become nervous, fearful, and/or aggressive, often using their only remaining defense, their teeth. The constant state of stress caused by a feeling of defenselessness may make some declawed cats more prone to disease or to inappropriate elimination outside the litter box. Never declaw all four paws. This will almost guarantee behavioral issues.

Safety: A declawed cat must never be allowed outdoors; its ability to defend itself or escape from danger has been seriously impaired. Even indoors, a cat without claws faces dangers. One physical effect of declawing is a gradual weakening of the muscles of the legs, shoulders and back; balance is impaired. This, combined with the fact that despite its grace, a cat’s surefootedness depends on its ability to grasp quickly with its claws, means that a declawed animal can more easily be injured in a fall.

INSTEAD OF DECLAWING

Introduce A Scratching Post: Buy or make a scratching post that is tall enough so the cat can stretch completely when scratching, and stable enough so it won’t wobble when being used. It should be covered with a heavy, rough fiber like sisal or the back side of carpeting. Place the post in an accessible area. If you are trying to discourage the cat from scratching a particular piece of furniture, try placing the post in front of it, gradually moving the post aside as the cat begins to use it regularly.               Train with a dual approach: discourage the cat from clawing the wrong things, encourage the cat to claw the right things. If the cat begins to scratch the furniture, call him by name, firmly telling him “no”, and entice him over to the scratching post with a ribbon or fresh catnip. Each time he goes on his own, praise him, pet him, and spend a minute playing at the post. Make it a fun place to be. At the same time, the favorite furniture scratching area can be made less attractive by contact paper sticky side out (held on with upholstery screws). Put inexpensive cardboard scratch pads or posts near all the cat’s favorite furniture.

Keep The Cat’s Nails Trimmed: cutting the nails regularly may help a cat from scratching the furniture, or at least reduce the damage done by his scratching. Get your kitten used to having his nails clipped while he’s young. With an older cat, it may help to begin by handling the cat’s feet under pleasurable circumstances. Then begin to introduce the clipping procedure by approaching the cat while he’s relaxed or even napping and clip only a few nails per session. Praise your cat while you clip the nail and reward him with a treat.

If you’re in doubt about what the proper nail length looks like, have your veterinarian trim the nails once. The only equipment necessary is a good pair of feline nail scissors. Before cutting, look for the pink “quick” that runs down the center of the nail. The scissors should cut about an eighth of an inch forward of the quick. Be extremely careful not to cut into the quick. If this happens, the cat will experience pain, and bleeding is likely. The bleeding may stop without assistance, or you may need to hold a soft cloth on the nail or apply a little styptic powder. If you trim a small amount of nail on a regular basis, the quick will actually tend to recede.

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