Pet Care Articles

Welcome to our Award Winning Pet Care Library. Featuring more than 500 pages of essential need-to-knows, in-depth investigations and species/breed databases. Select a topic from the menu or browse this week’s featured articles.

Feline Old Age Through to Bereavement – Knowing When to Let Go

Unfortunately, there may come a time when the kindest and most caring thing you can do for him is provide a gentle exit from the increasing ravages of age. Ultimately it is not fair to prolong his life any longer. Degenerative changes are too far gone, a terminal illness has reached its distressing final stages or his behavior and habits are now unmanageable.

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Feline Old Age Through to Bereavement – Euthanasia and Getting Another Cat

Your vet will usually ask you to sign a consent form giving permission for your cat to be euthanized (put to sleep). This is a legality required to show that you consented and that the vet did not act against your wishes.

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White Cats and Deafness

There is an established link between the white coat color, blue eyes and deafness. The deafness is linked to the gene for blue-eye(s) and not to odd-eyed cats. Not all blue-eyed whites will be deaf since there are several different genes causing the same physical attributes (whiteness, blue-eyedness) so it all depends on the cat’s genotype (its genetic make-up) not its phenotype (its physical appearance).

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Guide to Cat Coat Colors and Patterns

Some breeds are based on their colors or patterns e.g. Siamese while others exclude certain colors. Some colors occur through careful selection, others appear out of the blue e.g. Lilac (Lavender) appeared in normally blue (gray) Korats due to mutation or recessive (hidden) genes. There are hundreds of possible color permutations; some are not allowed in pedigree cats but you may well see them in random-bred (moggy) cats. Some colors are rarely found in the moggy population as they only show up in selectively bred cats.

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Disabled Cats: Caring for a 3-Legged Cat or Amputee

The loss of a limb sounds catastrophic but 3 legged cats adapt well and are usually as agile and active as 4 legged cats. The loss of a limb would be catastrophic to humans, but our limbs are more specialized (2 for walking, 2 for manipulating things) while a cat’s limbs are all used for walking.

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Disabled Cats: Caring for a Blind Cat

Cats that keep bumping into things either can’t co-ordinate their limbs or can’t see. A blind eye is often cloudy or the pupil remains dilated even in bright light. Some cats are born without eyes (anopthalmia) or with very small eyes (micropthalmia) which may not function. Others lose their sight either permanently or temporarily as a result of illness, physical injury, brain damage or poisoning (including extreme reaction to anesthesia) and conditions such as glaucoma, cataracts or scarring caused by untreated entropion (in turned eyelashes).

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Disabled Cats: Caring for a Deaf Cat

Some cats, e.g. some blue-eyed whites, are born deaf. Many other cats are thought to be ‘grumpy’ by owners who don’t realize that their cat can’t hear. Deafness can be congenital or related to age, illness or physical injury. Many cats lose their hearing gradually as they age (as do many humans), sudden loss of hearing is normally the result of illness or injury and may be temporary or permanent.

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Disabled Cats: Caring for a Blind-Deaf Cat

Despite a dark silent existence, deaf-blind cats can enjoy life since they rely on their keen sense of smell and their sense of touch through whiskers on the face and also on the lower leg. Cats which have been blind throughout much of their lives may eventually suffer the additional problem of age-related deafness. Most of the considerations noted for blind cats and for deaf cats apply.

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Disabled Cats: Caring for a Spastic Cat

The term ‘spastic’ may be considered politically incorrect, however cats have no concept of political correctness and this colloquial term (defined in my dictionary as "suffering from spasms") covers several conditions with similar symptoms. I apologize to anyone who objects to the term, but I would point out that the term is used in the UK to describe cats with disabilities of co-ordination, muscular spasms and muscular tremor. To avoid confusion among American readers, the term "spastic" is not used in the sense of a cat whose muscles lock rigid e.g. during a fit.

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Disabled Cats: Caring for a Twisty Cat

Some people who see a cat with Radial Hypoplasia (RH) for the first time either think it has both front legs broken or notice that it sits up like a rabbit. They walk in a shuffling or scrabbling motion. There are varying degrees of the condition, these tips take a worst case scenario. Mildly affected cats may get along just fine, but have a peculiar bobbing gait.

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Moving House with a Cat

Moving home can be a traumatic experience for a cat. A frightened cat, unused to upheavals or disoriented by a house move, risks straying during or after a move. Every year, thousands of cats become strays when their owners move house. Make sure your cat isn’t one of them.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens

Information presented here has been provided by human foster mothers, veterinary staff and cat shelter workers. Many hand-rearing articles are aimed at breeders or contain veterinary terms. My own experience is related to cat rescue/shelter work where I have helped in supplementary feeding or emergency care of kittens.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Cleft Palate

Cleft palate means that the hard and/or soft palate failed to fuse during uterine development. Essentially there is a hole in the roof of the mouth connecting the mouth and nose.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Colic

A general term for abdominal pain. Classic colic in infants is usually caused by an accumulation of gas in the stomach which causes the abdomen to swell.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Constipation

This is fairly common in hand reared kittens. A mother cat stimulates a kitten’s anal region frequently. A human surrogate may only stimulate it two or three times a day. Kittens should be stimulated to pass a bowel motion after every 3 feeds otherwise faeces accumulates in the rectum and colon.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Eye Problems

Kittens’ eyes usually open within 1-2 weeks. Gummy eyes are most often due to infection. Failure to treat the infection can lead to blindness. If the closed eyelids become swollen or matted with pus seek veterinary treatment.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Fading Kitten Syndrome

FKS is a general term used for kittens which fade away for no apparent reason within a few days of birth or sometimes at several weeks old despite earlier good progress. Various viruses and bacteria have been implicated. A mismatch between the mother’s blood type and the kitten’s blood type leads to maternal antibodies (in colostrum) breaking down the kitten’s blood and leading to rapid fading.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Fleas and Ticks

Flea infestation of kittens is especially serious because they have a low volume of blood and a heavy flea burden causes anemia which can lead to debility or even death.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Hypothermia

This is a frequent cause of neonatal death. Kittens have no control of their body temperature at first. Their small size means they quickly lose heat. Their inability to store glucose for long means they run out of metabolic fuel which would generate internal heat (hypoglycaemia). Hypothermic kittens feel cold and limp. Their blood pressure drops, their circulation slows and their paws, abdomen, tongue and gums become pale (then bluish) due to reduced oxygen supply. The vital organs and digestive system cannot function at low temperatures or with reduced circulation. The kitten will become comatose if not treated promptly.

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Hand-Rearing Kittens: Hypoglycemia (Low Blood Sugar)

Caused by inadequate or infrequent feeding; also when abandoned kittens are found and have not been able to nurse for some time (e.g. mother killed or driven away). Kittens up to two weeks old can store very little glucose in their bodies. Small kittens are also at risk. Kittens with a septic infection need glucose in order to fight the infection; they will need feeding every 2 hours day and night. In general, feeding every 2 hours prevents hypoglycaemia.

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