Cheat Sheet

Cats For Dummies

From Cats for Dummies, 2nd Edition by Gina Spadafori, Paul D. Pion

Caring for a cat requires both emotional and physical tools. The emotional is the love you lavish on your feline friend; the physical requires stocking your home with things you need to care for your cat. Stock a kitty medicine chest, practice preventive care, and get your cat to the vet when she needs emergency care.

Preventive Healthcare for Your Cat

Preventive care for your cat — just like for you — is more cost-effective than crisis care, and easier on both your pet and your bank account in the long run. The following lists give you some preventive-care guidelines.

Talk to your veterinarian to find out what is best for your pet.

Kitten veterinary care

  • Initial exam and feline leukemia test within 48 hours of adoption and prior to introduction to other cats.

  • Three combination vaccinations at three- to four-week intervals, starting at the age of six to nine weeks. Feline leukemia vaccination after initial testing, two vaccinations three to four weeks apart. Rabies vaccination at 16 weeks, or as required by law.

  • Wormings as prescribed by your veterinarian, at two- to three-week intervals or until fecal test is clear.

  • Spaying or neutering, as early as eight weeks as recommended by your veterinarian.

Adult veterinary care

  • Annual examination, which may include chemical profile and urinalysis, especially for older pets and prior to procedures requiring anesthesia.

  • Combination vaccination, annually, as recommended by your veterinarian. Rabies vaccination as recommended by your veterinarian or as required by local law.

  • Dental cleaning and scaling under anesthesia, as recommended by your veterinarian.

Adult home care

  • Brush teeth three times weekly.

  • Trim nails monthly.

  • Regular grooming; bathing as required.

  • Weekly home exam, including checking for lumps, bumps, injuries, and weight loss.

A Start-Up Kit for Kittens and Adult Cats

Whether you’re adopting a playful kitten or a full-grown cat, you want to welcome your new feline friend to his or her new home by having all the essentials already in place. The following list contains the basic items you need to have on hand before you bring kitty home. (Any extra treats or toys will surely be appreciated.)

Brush and comb High-quality food, as recommended by breed or veterinarian
Toys Nail trimmer and Kwik Stop powder
Dishwasher-safe bowls, one for water, one for food Litter box, litter, scoop
Enzyme cleaner for pet stains Travel crate for car trips
Soft cat collar (with elastic insert for safety) and an ID tag Scratching post or cat tree

Signs Your Cat Needs Immediate Veterinary Attention

If your cat gets injured or becomes ill, you may need to make a quick trip to the vet or to the emergency care facility. Following is a list of some symptoms that require your cat to see a veterinarian now:

  • Seizure, fainting, or collapse.

  • Eye injury, no matter how mild.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea — anything more than two or three times within an hour or so.

  • Allergic reactions, such as swelling around the face, or hives, most easily seen on the belly.

  • Any suspected poisoning, including antifreeze, rodent or snail bait, or human medication. Cats are also especially sensitive to insecticides (such as flea-control medication for dogs) and petroleum-based products.

  • Snake or venomous spider bite.

  • Thermal stress — from being either too cold or too hot — even if the cat seems to have recovered. (The internal story could be quite different.)

  • Any wound or laceration that’s open and bleeding, or any animal bite.

  • Trauma, such as being hit by a car, even if the cat seems fine.

  • Any respiratory problem: chronic coughing, trouble breathing, or near drowning.

  • Straining to urinate or defecate.

When in doubt, day or night, don’t wait: Call a veterinarian!

Medical Supplies for Your Cat

Home care can be extremely difficult when a cat is frightened, leading to injuries for both owner and cat. But if you give your cat medical treatment at home, make sure that you have the first-aid supplies in the following list on hand:

Adhesive tape Kwik Stop powder
Benadryl antihistamine Scissors
Betadine antiseptic Sterile gauze, both rolls and pads
Cat restraint bag Syringe with the needle removed, for giving liquid medication
Cotton swabs, balls, and rolls Syrup of Ipecac
Eye wash Thermometer
Forceps or tweezers Triple antibiotic cream or ointment
Hydrogen peroxide Water-based lubricating jelly, such as K-Y

If your cat is injured and in pain, it may be easier to put him or her into a carrier and head to the veterinarian.

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