Happy National Cat Health Month - A Tip a Day

Happy National Cat Health Month!

February is the month where we take time to celebrate our kitties and ensure they are healthy. To do just that, every day during the month of February we will share a Healthy Kitty Tip. Whether you are a cat owner or just a cat lover, please share these tips with friends to help us educate our community on how to best care for our adorable feline friends.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 28: Help your cat out as it gets older
Just like humans, your cats will need assistance as they get older to do simple tasks. Help them out! Get them some stairs to their favorite napping and resting place and get them checked by the vet more often to make sure they're okay! For some more information and tips, check out: http://cat-care.suite101.com/article.cfm/helping_a_cat_age_gracefully

And an EXTRA tip for your cat's health: Our last tip is the simplest, and yet, one of the most important: LOVE your pet! Cats are just like us---they need love, care, attention, and warmth to keep them healthy and happy! How do you love your kitty?

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 27: Protect your cat from falls
Cats are resilient and flexible but they can be severely injured from a fall. High rise falls are more common today. Many cats enjoy sitting in an open window. Take proper precautions to secure the window screen and keep your cat safe.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 26: Don't tease your cat
Playing with your cat and teasing them are two very different things! The more you tease them, the more cats may react by biting, scratching, or other destructive behavior. And please, do not pull the cat's tail - ever! It's painful for them and causes irritation to their muscles. This is something to keep a lookout for especially when it comes to young children interacting with your cat. No one likes to get their legs pulled out from behind them, so why do it to your cat?

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 25: Watch your cat's weight
It's important to keep a watchful eye on your cat's weight. Obesity is a problem with many cats today and can lead to various health problems, as it does in humans. For more tips on how to properly feed your cat, check out the following vid: http://www.monkeysee.com/play/1344-diet-for-cats

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 24: Check for bad breath
Bad breath is normal for kitties, but in adult cats, consistent bad breath is a sign of possible tooth decay. If you think their breath is a little stinky, it's best to bring them in for dental care to make sure their teeth are healthy.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 23: It's Spay Day!
Check out our spay/neuter program here at the SF/SPCA today! If you made an appointment, you can get your cat spayed (that's for the girls) or neutered (that's for the boys) for $20.10 along with free microchipping, and more! This helps cut down on overpopulation, along with helping to prevent many cancers and reducing potential aggressive behavioral issues.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 22: Look out for behavior changes
If your cat develops behavorial changes of any sort, call your vet! You never know when something as simple as not using their litterbox properly is a sign there's something wrong with their health. You want your kitty to live a long life, so keep your eyes open for any changes in the way they normally act around you.

Just a reminder that tomorrow is Spay Day at the SF/SPCA. $20.10 spays and neuters for your pet, along with free microchipping and more. Visit our page for more details: http://www.sfspca.org/support/events/february-events

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 21: Keep poisons away from cats! (#4: Metals)
Keep 'em away from heavy metal! Nope, not Metallica (we like them!), but metals commonly found through things like paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust. For more poisons to keep your pet away from, visit http://blogs.catster.com/the-cats-meow-a-cat-and-kitten-blog/top-10-pet-poisons/2010/01/15/

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 20: Keep poisons away from cats! (#3: Household Plants)
Keep your kitty away from certain household plants! Some common houseplants can be very dangerous to the health of your kitty. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are commonly found in homes. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 19: Keep poisons away from cats! (#2: Insecticides)
Keep your cat away from insecticides! We don't like those pesky insects in our homes sometimes, but this can pose a danger to our kitties. In 2009, the toxicologists from Catster (www.catster.com) fielded 29,020 calls related to insecticides. The most common issue seemed to be the misuse of flea and tick products—such as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. If you have any questions about which treatment you're using, call your vet and they can help.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 18: Keep poisons away from cats! (#1: Human medications)
For the next few days, we'll go over some of the most common poisons that cats are brought in for, that can be easily prevented. To start, let's keep human medications away from cats. That is one of the biggest reasons kitties are brought into hospitals across the nation. Keep your medications in places you know your kitty can't get into.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 17: Keep cats away from your trash
If you threw it in the trash, keep your cat away from it! If it's trash to you, it's trash to them!

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 16: Trim their toenails
It's important that your cat has its toenails clipped regularly. Trimming claws should be done often to minimize damage to furniture, as well as your arms and legs. It is best to start trimming when your cat is young so they are accustomed to it. The more relaxed the cat is about the process, the less chance you have of cutting into the quick (the cat's tissue). If you do hit the quick, have styptic powder on hand. This can be purchased at your local pet store. For some great links to help you out, check out the following:

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 15: Make sure your cat gets exercise
Just like humans, cats need exercise. Most cats are indoor creatures, which means they usually have limited activity, even with fellow cats in the home. Try to devote at least 20 minutes of playtime each day for your cat. Buy them a few cat toys (a fake mouse, etc.) and see what they like best. It's good for their heart and their mind!

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 14: Keep their litter box clean
It's important to clean your cat's litter box on a regular basis. It helps your cat associate its litter box as a comfortable place where it can do its "business." And regular cleanings of their litters helps keep bacteria exposure to a minimum. For a great video on how to keep it clean, click on the following link:

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 13: Prevent worms!
Best way to keep your cat from getting those pesky little tapeworms is to keep them free of fleas. If they happen to come down with worms (usually you will see them around their anus or in their feces), bring them to a vet ASAP for proper antibiotics. While worms may not be severely dangerous in the beginning, they can become a serious problem over time. Here's a great vid to help you check for fleas on your kitty:

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 12: Keep your cat indoors
SF/SPCA recommends keeping your cat indoors at all times. Cats are very curious creatures and will poke, prod, and scratch things of interest to them, including potentially poisonous or harmful things. It's best to keep your kitty close to you, so you know where they are and can take care of them.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 11: Microchip Your Cat
Make sure to microchip your cat. SF/SPCA pets are already microchipped, but if yours isn't, it's important to have it done. You never know when your little kitty is gonna get curious and scamper away. If someone turns him or her in, microchips help pet facilities contact the owner. We will be having free microchipping for your pet on Spay Day, February 23rd. Call us to make an appointment: 415-554-3030

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 10: An Ounce of Prevention... Get Preventative Care
Just like people, cats have the potential to suffer unforeseen medical problems at any given time. It's important to have cat health insurance including preventative care. You can check out 24PetWatch's website for more details: http://www.24petwatch.com/petinsurance/index.asp

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 9: Provide Dental Care
Dental care can become a serious issue for cats as they get older. To help prevent potential damage and loss of their teeth, help brush their teeth. Here's a terrific instructional video! http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/Brushing-Your-Cats-Teeth/Entire-Video

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 8: Hairballs
Most hairballs do not cause serious problems and are more of a nuisance than anything else. Hairballs are dark in color, usually tubular in shape and are made of hair. Brushing your cat daily with Slicker Brush can help prevent hairballs. Sometimes cats will vomit hairballs, which is normal, but keep a lookout if they are doing it often or struggling when they cough up. Call your vet if you are concerned!

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 7: Control Fleas
An important part of keeping your cat healthy is to ensure flea control. We suggest once-a-month flea treatment from trusted brands like Advantage and Frontline. NOTE: It's important to look out for adverse or allergic reactions from your cat for any flea treatment such as not eating, not sleeping, not properly going in their litter box or behavioral issues. If you see something of concern, call your vet!

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 6: Get First Aid training for your cat
A great tool to help ensure your kitty is healthy is to take some first aid training for your pet! There's some terrific organizations in San Francisco that offer classes, check out the following link for one that may be close to you: http://www.pettech.net/directory_california_north.html

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 5: Learn to health check your cat
Cats tend to be proud and independent and may not show signs of health issues until its critical. Some quick good tips to go by:

  1. Watch for "sick fur" (their coat losing its gloss and sticking up in layers and tufts) - this may be a sign of a stuck hairball or potential heart issue which means they need to see a vet right away.
  2. Invest in a thermometer and learn how to take their temperature. Normal temperature ranges from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything outside of this, especially if their temperature is below 99 or 104 and above, call a vet immediately.
  3. Watch out for signs of panting, fast, or shallow breathing.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 4: Be a responsible pet owner by having your cat spayed or neutered
February 23rd is Spay Day USA. To celebrate, the SF/SPCA will be offering spay/neuters on Feb. 23rd for $20.10. While our adopted pets already come spayed and neutered, maybe you have a friend who hasn't spayed or neutered their pet. Have 'em bring their cat or dog to the SF/SPCA! Spaying and neutering your pet helps with overpopulation and your pet's overall health. Call 415 554 3030 to make an appointment.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 3: Check for allergy sufferers
You never know if someone in your home may be allergic to cats. Make sure you know ahead of time if your family member, roommate or close friend might be allergic to cats before you make your adoption decision!

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 2: Nutrition
Proper nutrition is important for your cat and no one knows it better than Purina, whose Purina One Tour for Heroes stops at the SF/SPCA tomorrow between 1 and 7 pm. Come out and join us! Here are some terrific tips on how to feed your cat:

  1. Buy the very best pet food your budget allows. Premium brands usually offer the best nutrition.
  2. Avoid generic brands if possible.
  3. Stick to basic foods and avoid novelty products that have flavor “enhancers” and other additives.
  4. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s specific needs. There are premium foods formulated for all stages of an animal’s life (for example, kitties need to be fed more often than adult cats).
  5. Set a feeding schedule that works for you and your pet, and be consistent. For cats, do not leave food out between scheduled feedings.
  6. Provide your pet with fresh water at all times.
  7. Do not give milk to your kitten or cat.

Healthy Kitty Tip, Feb. 1: Decide as a family what pet will be best for everyone

A cat's personality, breed, activity level, size, temperament, special needs and background should all be taken into consideration when choosing the right pet for your family. At the SF/SPCA, a qualified trainer can help you to determine the best choice.