Tagged with " travel"

Should I Go? Or, Should I stay?

Jan 25, 2013 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Winter is in full swing. It is the time to think about escape. Or for those cat lovers who live in warmer climes, a change of scenery to refresh and reenergize, often beckons.  As travel plans are being made, one important question often is: would our feline friend be better with their veterinarian, at home, in a boarding kennel, or traveling with us?

Just as no two cats are alike, no option is the right one for every cat.  Some general considerations are: how long will you  be gone, how old is your cat, and is yours a single or multiple cat household?  Then there are individual traits to consider.  How does your cat handle visitors?  Is there a secretive or elusive eater in the family?  If left at home would anyone be able to monitor this cat’s food intake?  How well does your cat travel?

The most common situation is where the cat must stay at home with a cat sitter, in a boarding facility or at a veterinary hospital.  For some of our felines, the question is easy.  Cats with medical needs, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, or frail health, should stay with your veterinarian so they will be monitored by skilled professionals.  After a cat has had a day or two to adapt to the environment, boarding time offers a good opportunity to have planned lab tests performed, such as a blood glucose or blood pressure measurement.  It is  frequently the easiest time to get a urine sample, if your doctor has requested one.

When young cats ( under 7-9 mos of age) are home alone, they can  get into trouble due to pent up energy with no one  home to entertain them.  Cords and knickknacks become toys with their attendant problems.  These cats are  best left in someone else’s care, such as a boarding facility.

For adult healthy cats ( 9 mos to 15 years), with proper planning, staying at home may be the best solution.  There are several strategies for making a cat’s time at  home alone successful.  Someone should visit your cat at least daily, and preferably twice daily to feed and clean  if your trip is more than two or three days.  Additional litter boxes should be provided –  at least one more than the normal number.  Caretakers may not be as fastidious as you are.  Their cycle of visits may not match your cat’s litter box usage pattern.  An extra litter box, or even two, will decrease the likelihood of accidents occurring.  Leave clear feeding instructions describing amounts to be fed with exact measurements, as opposed to rough guidelines ( e.g. one half cup not the more inexact handful).  Leave unwashed articles of your clothing for the cat to sleep on.  Put them in the cat’s usual sleeping places.  Being able to smell you will be reassuring to your cat.  If you are planning an extended time away, make arrangements for a sitter to spend an hour or so daily in your home to interact with your cat – especially if your cat is a social cat who likes company and play time.  A  tape recording of your voice played periodically may be comforting if your cat is particularly attached to you, or is shy around strangers.  If you are hiring a cat sitter, please check their references and schedule a visit to introduce the sitter to your cat to make sure you approve of the observed interaction.  If these arrangements are difficult or impossible, then your cat would most likely be best served by staying at at boarding facility.  Use  logic for choosing a boarding facility similar to that which you would have used to choose a cat sitter.  Ask your friends or your veterinarian for recommendations.  Be sure to visit and observe the facility ahead of time.

Sometimes  the best choice is for your cat to travel with you.  No matter how you are traveling, make sure your cat has some form of permanent identification to greatly increase the likelihood of you and your cat being reunited if your cat should escape.  Microchipping is the ideal method of identification.  Speak to your veterinarian about the quick and easy procedure.  As was mentioned above, an unwashed article of your clothing placed in the carrier will offer comfort.  A towel or blanket sprayed with Feliway, a calming pheromone, placed in the carrier one hour before use with your kitty placed  in the carrier 20 minutes before leaving helps to decrease travel anxiety.  Minimize motion sickness by not feeding your cat the day of the trip.  This will also decrease the probability of your cat urinating or defecating in the carrier while traveling. When you arrive at your destination, take your cat in the carrier into the room you’ll be staying in.  Get food, water, and a litter box ready, then let him out.  Place the carrier on the floor with the door open.  Your carrier can act be a place of security during your visit.  Generally speaking it is best to keep your cat in your room for the duration of your stay.  While it may seem like a small space, remember it is much larger than a boarding cage and your cat can easily familiarize himself with the new surroundings.

If you are traveling by air, first contact the individual airline to see what it requires to allow your cat to fly.   Ideally your cat will fly in the cabin with you.   Call the airline early to make the reservation.  Most airlines limit the number of pets that can fly in the cabin.  Your cat should wear a harness attached to a leash in the carrier. Unless the rule has been changed, cats are required to be out of their carrier during screening and a frightened cat can be difficult to restrain in your arms.  Many airlines will require a health certificate within a specific number of days prior to departure.  Most airlines require proof of  a current rabies vaccination.

If you are traveling by car, your cat should travel in a carrier and be secured in that carrier any time you exit or enter the vehicle.  If your trip is more than four hours, stop and offer water periodically and have a disposable litter box available.

There is no exact answer to the question: what is best for your cat when you travel? You know best the physical and emotional requirements of your feline family member.  Your veterinarian will be happy to consult with you about any specific questions

or concerns you might have.  Choose the option that will allow you to enjoy your vacation knowing that you have done your best to make sure your cat is healthy, happy, and safe.

Dr Kathleen Keefe Ternes

Dr. Kathleen Keefe Ternes grew up in western Massachusetts. She received an undergraduate degree from Cornell University in 1974; a BS degree in 1978 and a DVM in 1979 from Michigan State University. Dr. Keefe Ternes returned home to New England in April 1980. In 1984, she achieved one of her professional goals by opening The Feline Hospital in Salem, MA. . Dr. Keefe Ternes, a diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), initially certified as a companion animal specialist in 1990. She became certified as a feline specialist in 2000 and recertified in 2010. Dr. Keefe Ternes is a member of AAFP, the AVMA, the MVMA, and her local organization, the Veterinary Association of the North Shore (VANS). Her involvement in organized medicine includes having been a past president of VANS and current member of the board of directors. She is also a case reviewer for the ABVP and recently joined the Feline Welfare Committee of the AAFP.

Dr. Keefe Ternes lives in Salem with her husband and two college age daughters. Her two senior cats Toby and Petunia keep her on her toes medically.

The Feline Hospital
81 Webb St
Salem, MA 01970

Phone: 978-744-8020
Email: thefelinehospital@gmail.com

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On the Third Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me

Dec 27, 2012 by     No Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

Three Family Parties: How to Help your Cat Avoid the Emergency Room this Holiday (pt. 3)

If you missed out on the previous parts:

Depending on how you feel about your family, you may just want to crawl under the bed with your terrified cat when the time comes for holiday parties and family get-togethers. Depending on your cat, these parties can be fun or they can be extremely traumatic. Some cats hide for days after a party.

If you are planning a boisterous holiday party with lots of guests, you might want to consider boarding your cat during the holiday. Otherwise, to help a shy cat cope, you can prepare a sanctuary in advance – a bed, food, water and litter – in a low-traffic area, a closet or the basement where sounds will be more muffled, and plan to keep them in their sanctuary for the duration of the party. Feline pheromone spray or a diffuser and items with your kitty’s own smell on them will help create a calming scent. Show your cat this area before the big day so she will know it’s her safe place. Cats that are frightened because of large numbers of people might dash for the door, or curious cats may slip outside along with an unwary visitor. This is an excellent reason why even indoor cats benefit from being microchipped. It is also a good idea to request that family members keep their own pets at home. Cats are creatures of habit, and the holidays are stressful enough without having an interloper to deal with. In addition, the last thing that you want to be doing just before Christmas dinner is rushing your cat to the ER with a bite wound if the animals decide that they don’t want to play nicely anymore.

Other concerns about holiday parties and visitors include inappropriate elimination. Some cats will urinate or defecate outside the box when they are overly stressed or anxious – another reason to consider isolating your cat in its sanctuary or planning to board her.

If you have specific concerns, antianxiety drug therapy could be discussed with your veterinarian. There are many calming medications available, ranging from human anti-anxiety drugs to herbal and homeopathic supplements, so you and your veterinarian can discuss which option would be most effective for your cat.

If you will be traveling throughout the holidays and your cat is not going with you, the most ideal option for pet care is to have a non-traveling family member stay in the home with the cat. This allows the cat the comfort of a familiar face and surroundings to provide the least interruption of his or her normal routine. A qualified pet sitter is the next best choice – someone who is trained to recognize signs of illness. Ideally, the sitter would stay in your home with the cat, or visit a minimum of twice daily for 30 minutes or more.  The third option would be for cat owners to board their pets at a reputable feline-only boarding facility. There are a lot of holiday hazards that a cat can get into at this time of year, so cats should not be left alone unattended. Cats with medical problems and daily medications should not be without their medications at this time of high stress.

Dr Steven Bailey

Dr. Steven J. Bailey founded Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital in 1992. He obtained his Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in June of 1986. After graduation, Dr. Bailey practiced emergency medicine for 8 years prior to establishing Exclusively Cats. Dr. Bailey is one of two veterinarians in the state of Michigan and the only veterinarian in Southeastern Michigan that has been board certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners as a Feline Specialist (ABVP). His special interests include complicated medical/surgical cases as well as critical care, advanced dentistry, and behavioral medicine. Dr. Bailey is an active member of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP), American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), he is a current council member of the Southeastern Michigan Veterinary Medical Association (SEMVMA). He is also an Associate Editor of the Feline Internal Medicine Board on the Veterinary Information Network (VIN), invited member of VMG #18 (The only feline exclusive Veterinary Management Group) and MOM’s group (Macomb/Oakland Management Group). In his free time, Dr. Bailey is an avid kayaker (some may even call him “obsessed”) and an instructor in both canoe and kayaking sports. He also enjoys running and spending time with his family. Dr. Bailey and his wife Liz have 2 adult children, Christopher and Kayla, 3 cats, Tic Tic, Sapphire and Lacey, and one dog, Charlotte.

Exclusively Cats Veterinary Hospital

6650 Highland Road

Waterford, MI 48327

Phone: 248-666-5287

Fax ‎206-333-1135

ecvh@exclusivelycats.com

Website: http://www.exclusivelycats.com

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Take Me Along

Oct 5, 2012 by     2 Comments    Posted under: Tips & Advice

I love traveling with my cats, but my Sphynx cat, affectionately referred to as “Naked”, gets car sick within minutes of starting a car ride. I thought I’d share what I do to try to keep Velvet from vomiting and almost always defecating during the trip.

  1. I try my best to make sure she hasn’t eaten for 6 -8 hours prior to her being placed in her cat carrier.
  2. About 30 minutes before she goes in her carrier I give her ½ of a .25mg alprazolam tablet along with ¼ of a tablet of Cerenia. The alprazolam is to keep her calm and the Cerenia is to stop nausea. I always make sure I follow the medication with a little water to help make sure the medication reaches her stomach quickly and doesn’t irritate her esophagus as she is swallowing.

If this doesn’t work for a cat of yours that gets motion sickness, consider having your veterinarian prescribe acepromazine. It is also given about 30 minutes before traveling and is a great sedative. Your cat’s third eyelid will likely show and your cat might look pretty loopy, so don’t be surprised when your notice an unfamiliar facial expression on your cat when the medication is in your cat’s system.

Another option is to give Dramamine which you can purchase at your local pharmacy. A typical 10 pound cat should get ¼ – ½ of a 50mg tablet. It should also make you cat drowsy. Meclizine (Bonine) is another over the counter motion sickness medication that is doses at 12.5mg per 10 pound cat. For really severe car sickness you can add in a little Cerenia.

Try these medications when you have an opportunity to take a short car ride so you can test dosing and drug combinations. Your veterinarian is your best source when deciding which drugs to use since he or she will know your cat best.

Whichever drugs you use, make sure you are prepared when traveling with a cat that gets motion sickness. I always keep a harness on my cat when she is in her carrier in case a clean-up is needed. I attach a leash before she is allowed out or her carrier that is always lined with an absorbable puppy pad before my trip commences. I have waterless soap for me and even keep disposable exam gloves in my car. Disposable wipes like Clorox wipes work well to clean the carrier and of course, I keep plastic bags in the car as well for storing soiled puppy pads and used wipes until I find an available trash can.

Yes, it takes preparation and patience if you decide to travel with a cat that gets sick in the car, but it is well worth it when you reach your destination and your trip is made that much more enjoyable by having your cat along!

Dr Diane Eigner

Diane Eigner graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1980. Dr. Eigner established her exclusively feline practice, The Cat Doctor, in Philadelphia in 1983, and began offering house call services at the Jersey Shore in 1991. She is a past president of the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School Alumni Society, a Past President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners and is a member of the advisory board of Harcum Junior College’s Veterinary Technical School. Diane has been the consulting veterinarian for the Morris Animal Refuge since 1983. Doctor Eigner’s column “Ask The Cat Doctor” appeared in the Cat Fancier’s Almanac from 1996-2000. Diane joined the Catalyst Council’s board as the American Association of Feline Practitioner’s representative in 2009. She is now serving as the immediate past-chair of the Catalyst Council.

An avid Sailor, Diane loves nothing better than to be at the Jersey shore where she keeps her sailboat, Purrfect, and where she has a second home. Since meeting her husband, Fred Turoff, Temple University’s Men’s gymnastics team head coach, her family life has been dominated by men’s gymnastics. Her son Evan is a level ten gymnast that competes nationally and will join her husband’s division I men’s gymnastics team in the fall.. Diane also shares her life with three very entertaining cats. Though she shouldn’t have a favorite, her Sphynx cat, Velvet, which she rescued at the shelter where she consults, is the cat love of her life. Her integrated home also includes a Welsh Corgi named Twinks, two Cornish Rex cats, Naui and Padi and a Russian Tortoise.

The Cat Doctor
535 North 22nd Street
Philadelphia, PA 19130

Phone: (215) 561-7668
Fax: (215) 561-3616
Email: meow@thecatdr.com

Website: http://www.thecatdr.com
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So Why Not the Carrier?!? Part 3 of 3

Jul 18, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Tips & Advice

You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

To overcoming barriers to taking cats to the veterinary clinic, we need to better understand the cat and why they react as they do, reduce the stress of transporting the cat, and making the cat and the client more comfortable at the clinic.  The benefits include increased cat visits and client compliance, increased job satisfaction and safety, and a financially more successful practice.  It’s not enough anymore to have excellent surgical and medical knowledge – our clients don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care – for them and their cats.

UNDERSTANDING THE CAT:

Cats have retained many behaviors of their wild ancestors. They are excellent hunters, with a strong ability to sense and avoid danger. In order to protect themselves, cats don’t display pain and illness as dogs and humans do.

Cats don’t like change – unless it is something they choose to do. Trips to the veterinary hospital, the hospital environment, and handling by unfamiliar people are huge changes for cats.

Cats are social animals, though their social structure is different from humans and dogs. If sufficient food resources, cats choose to live in social or colonies. Females live together cooperatively, nursing and raising the young. Cats choose affiliates with whom they are social.

The cat’s perceives its world through its senses, most of which are highly sensitive compared with ours.  Cats also communicate with their senses, providing scent marking, visual and auditory cues. The primary goal of cat communication is to prevent altercations; cats fight only as a last resort, when other communications have failed.

Sarah Heath:  One of the important feline coping strategies in terms of social stress is to hide and in many modern multi- cat households this is often not possible due to the human preference for floor to ceiling furniture and open plan rooms! Lack of access to retreats can result in cats feeling exposed and vulnerable and when coupled with insufficient supply of other vital resources, such as food and water, the result can be chronic stress which leads to self directed behaviours such as over grooming.

Let’s now develop a plan for one of the more challenging situations that you as cat owners have – getting your cat to the veterinary hospital.  We know that veterinary care is tremendously important for your cat, but how do we make the visits more familiar and allow the cat to have control?  It’s actually not that hard if we remember to follow the Happy Cat Rules, and break our plan down into steps to help our cats have what they need to cope.  And the underlying concepts can be used with any care at home, and when introducing your cat to new situations or people.

The absolutely most important step is to bring your carrier out of the basement, garage, or closet, and move it permanently to a room where your cat likes to be.  For example, the cats that “own” my husband and me hang out in the kitchen when we are home, and their carriers are in the kitchen.  Place a fleece jacket – or other soft piece of clothing that has your scent on it, or a blanket or soft cat bed that your cat loves to sleep on, into the carrier.  This provides a comfortable place for your cat to rest, and a safe haven – cats feel more secure if they have a hiding place in unfamiliar situations.

It may take awhile for your cat to get used to the carrier because of previous negative experiences associated with it.  Remain calm, and toss some favorite treats – either dry kibble or food treats that your cat likes, or catnip – into the carrier every day.  If you need to use treats, use the most favorite ones, and only for the carrier experience, at least until your cat comfortably rests or sleeps in the carrier on its own.

If your cat is afraid of the carrier because of previous negative experiences, start by tossing the favored treats in front of the carrier.  Then walk away.  Let the cat choose to go into the carrier itself.  He or she may start at night, when they know that you cannot close them into the carrier – that is a success!  It may take 2 weeks, but if done calmly on your part, it can lead to a calmer and more content kitty in our busy households, and less stressful travel and veterinary visits for your cat – and you!

Once your cat is routinely going into the carrier, calmly close the door and give a treat.  After several days of this, close the door and move the carrier to another room.  Reward.  Eventually, get your cat comfortable with car rides, and “friendly” visits to the vet, where your cat can get treats and go home.  It’s best to call before you come to schedule a time when it isn’t too busy so that it will be easier on your cat.

Bring favorite treats and toys whenever you bring your cat to the veterinary hospital.  Again this helps with familiarity.  Also it allows you to calmly distract your cat from other things happening at the vet.

Make sure to separate your cat from unfamiliar cats while at the clinic.  Although cats are social animals, with some more outgoing than others (like people!), even the most curious and outgoing cat is likely to be frightened by others in an unfamiliar environment such as the veterinary hospital, where there are unfamiliar smells, sounds, and sights of unknown cats and people.

Try to remain calm yourself to help keep your cat calm.  Cats are intuitive, and they pick up on our fear and anxiety.   Also, watch your cat’s body language for signs of fear – ears back, even if slightly; pupils dilated; body tense, fur standing up, or crouching position – and calmly cover the carrier to allow your cat a comfortable and familiar hiding place.

If your cat is still anxious during car rides or veterinary visits, talk to your veterinarian about Feli-way, a synthetic feline cheek pheromone, which helps calm most cats and makes the an environment more familiar.  There are also anti-anxiety medications that can be prescribed, or anti-nausea for the car sick kitty.

Dr Ilona Rodan

Dr. Ilona Rodan, ABVP Certified in Feline Practice
Medical Director and Owner, Cat Care Clinic, Madison, WI
Feline Behavior Consultant

Dr. Ilona Rodan has been a leader in the field of feline medicine for more than 25 years. She started the Cat Care Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin in 1987 to provide the best feline health care individualized to each patient in a compassionate environment that is more comfortable for cats and cat lovers, and where cats are better understood and handled in a respectful manner. With her extensive knowledge of feline behavior, she also understands the cats’ needs at home, and strives to enhance and prolong the relationship between cats and the people who love them. Our clients frequently tell us that our knowledge and caring has increased their cat’s length of life, often by several years.

When Dr. Rodan is not practicing and teaching at the clinic, she lectures internationally
and writes about feline-friendly hospitals, cat behavior and prevention of behavior problems, and recognizing and treating pain in cats. She has been active in the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) since 1982, and has served in every office, including President. She is most proud of her accomplishments in helping to establish guidelines for feline medicine, which include retrovirus testing, vaccinations, senior care, feline life stages, behavior, pain management, and feline handling guidelines (the latter published in 2011). Dr. Rodan was also an ambassador in the development of a specialist category in feline medicine.

In 1995, she became one of the first board-certified feline practitioners. Her hospital is an AAHA-Accredited Feline Specialty Hospital. She and her team are involved in community service, including free spays and neuters for Friends of Ferals. Dr. Rodan also lectures to the public and staff members of the local shelter, Dane County Humane Society.

Dr. Rodan received the national Friskie’s award for outstanding accomplishments in feline medicine in 1998. In 2005, she was chosen from 70,000 veterinarians to receive the most prestigious award given to a veterinarian, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Welfare Award, This award was given to Dr. Rodan for her work locally and nationally to enhance the welfare of cats through medical and behavioral advancements, and her contributions to community and society. Dr. Rodan’s passion and desire to help both cats and their people is unwavering.

Dr. Rodan continues to be well trained by the two feline family members she lives with, their predecessors, and the cats she has treated for more than 30 years. They have taught her how to respectfully handle and work with cats, to understand that the needs of cat’s in their home is an important part of their healthcare, and to ensure that they have the best quality and length of life.

Cat Care Clinic
322 Junction Road
Madison, WI 53717

Phone: (608) 833-9750
Fax: (608) 829-0345
Email: catcare@catcareclinic.net

Website: http://www.catcareclinic.net/
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