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Q: My cat is strictly an indoor cat so I don’t see why he needs any shots.
A: Indoor cats are still at risk for diseases. Also, you can never be 100% certain your indoor kitty won’t escape outside or the cat you adopted is not harboring a disease that can be transmitted to other cats. And while indoor cats may be exposed to fewer diseases, indoor cats may be exposed to many disease pathogens. We recommend vaccinations and parasite control measures for all cats regardless of where they spend their time. Prevention is always better and less expensive than treatment.
Q: My cat gets the three-year shots, so doesn’t this mean I just take her for an exam every three years, instead of every year?
A: Vaccinations are just one component of the wellness visit. Annual wellness exams are critical to keeping your cat in optimum health, regardless how often vaccines are administered. We recommend more frequent exams for senior and geriatric patients or those cats with medical or behavioral conditions.
Q: It seems like my cats have to get a lot of vaccinations. Do they really need all of them?
A: We determine the vaccinations your cats need based on the results of their health histories, ages and lifestyles at their annual wellness exams. The important thing to remember is serious infectious feline diseases are still prevalent and if your cats are not vaccinated against them, they’re at risk.
Q: I adopted a cat from the shelter. He’s been neutered, and my veterinarian thinks he’s about two years old. My problem is I want him to stay inside and be a housecat, but he keeps crying until I let him out. What can I do?
A: Your cat was probably allowed outside before you adopted him. However, if you continue to let him outside, he’s not going to make the transition to becoming an indoor cat. Practice a little tough love and do your best to keep him inside. After all, it’s in his best interest because he will likely live a much longer, healthier life indoors. Try making the indoors more stimulating by having play sessions, cat toys and providing a window perch where he can safely enjoy the outside. Over time he will probably adapt and become the indoor kitty you want.
Q: My 15-year-old cat used to lick his hair and keep himself very neat and clean. Lately, I’ve found some mats on him, and he doesn’t seem to spend as much time taking care of himself. Should I be concerned?
A: There are often changes in grooming behavior as cats get older. It’s not uncommon for cats to put on a little weight as they age, and he may not be able to reach certain parts of his body. At his age, he may also have some arthritis limiting his mobility and making the grooming process painful. Any cat that stops grooming himself may be showing signs of illness and should have a veterinary exam.
Q: My cat has always been great about using his litter box, and he never has an accident. Lately, however, he has started going outside the litter box, not in it. Why is he doing this, and what can I do about it?
A: An abrupt change in your cat’s litter box behavior suggests there’s something going on with your cat. It is important to keep the litter box clean and to consider recent changes in location or type of litter used. There are several medical conditions associated with his change in behavior, including lower urinary tract disease, kidney disease, urinary tract infection and diabetes mellitus. It could also be a sign of arthritis, which makes it difficult for him to get into the litter box. Make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible to uncover any medical conditions that could be affecting his elimination behavior.
Q: I recently got a new kitten from the shelter and my older cat is having trouble adjusting. He is hiding behind the couch, and bites and scratches me when I pick him up. Will this change eventually, and is there something I should do about it?
A: It takes most cats a while to adjust to a new household pet. Some cats may be fearful and show it by becoming a bit aggressive, some hide out and some just ignore the whole thing. Overall, all cats are somewhat stressed at any change in their environment. The veterinary professionals at your clinic are skilled in helping you work through behavior issues, just as they are experts in addressing medical problems. They can suggest some strategies that can keep everyone in the household happier.