750 State Rd, Dartmouth, MA 02747  •  Phone: 508-996-3731 • Fax: 508-996-3750 • Email
Mon.-Fri. 8am-8pm; Sat. 8am-5pm; • Closed Sundays & Major Holidays

Transporting your cat to the vet

As any cat parent knows, a routine visit to the vet can be anything but routine. Regular examinations are the right thing to do, but try telling that to your cat. Stress levels run rampant and emotions can be on high. This can be especially true for senior cats that are showing signs of changes in their behavior. If only there was a way to help tame the entire vet experience. The following steps should help you plan and prepare the next time your senior cat is due for an appointment:

Carrier Tips

  • Be sure to always use a carrier, or substitute with another safe container for safe transport.
  • If your senior cat keeps refusing to enter the carrier, help get your cat acclimated to it by placing it among your home’s everyday environment (treats, favorite toys or blankets) inside to make it more comfortable and inviting for your cat. And be sure to keep them inside once your cat enters.
  • Top-loading carriers are less stressful for your senior cat, as they allow for easier removal. And if needed, your cat can be examined while remaining inside the carrier.

Car Ride Tips

  • Don’t limit car rides strictly for visits to the vet. Start taking your cat on regular rides in the carrier to help your cat get used to the motion and the surroundings of your vehicle.
  • Avoid feeding your cat for at least one hour before transport to keep your cat

Office Visit Tips

  • Give your cat a treat or verbal praise to reward good behavior in both the lobby and veterinarian’s office.
  • Always speak in a soft voice to help your cat remain calm.
  • Your stress will transfer to your cat. Stay calm and don’t get stressed about your cat’s behavior. Remember our veterinary staff is trained to safely handle your cat. If you have questions about what we are doing well free to ask.
  • Be sure to discuss with your veterinarian ways to make your next visit even more comfortable for both you and your cat.

Kitten Wellness

The first few months with your kitten sets the stage for a life time of joy and friendship. Kitten wellness visits aren’t just for vaccines: they are an important opportunity to ask questions of the doctors and staff about any health, training or behavioral concerns you have about your new family member.

Vaccines

Feline Distemper (FVRCP): Feline panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper) is a serious, potentially fatal, and highly contagious feline disease. The virus is shed in the feces of an infected cat and can survive in the environment for months to years, it is also resistant to most available disinfectants. Fortunately, the vaccinate vaccine for feline distemper is safe and effective. We strongly recommend all kittens be vaccinated at 8, 12 and 16 weeks. The vaccine we use also protects against feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus which are responsible for 80-90% of all upper respiratory infections in cats.


Rabies: Massachusetts State law requires all cats be vaccinated again rabies. Rabies can be spread through saliva or blood of infected animals and pets can be exposed through wildlife such as raccoons, bats, possums, and rodents. We give your kitten’s first rabies vaccine at the 16-week puppy visit.

Feline Leukemia: Feline Leukemia or FeLV is a deadly virus that is found in the saliva and nasal secretions of infected cats. It is spread through prolonged contact with infected cats, bite wounds, and from and infected mother cats to her kittens. The disease caused by FeLV is very serious and many infected cats do not survive more than 3 years. Outdoor, or indoor/outdoor cats are at the highest risk for exposure and your veterinarian will help you decide if this vaccine is right for your cat.
A negative feline leukemia test, which we can do while you wait, is required prior to vaccination. The feline leukemia vaccines are given at your kitten’s 12 and 16-week visits.


Internal Parasites

Intestinal Parasites: Kittens can be exposed to parasites which can be passed to humans, to ensure their health and safety, as well as your own, we recommend that all kittens have their stool examined. Fecal examination entails Giardia testing, and microscopic examination of a direct and flotation preparation of feces to check for worm ovum (eggs) and coccidia.

Heartworm: Heartworm is an increasingly recognized problem in cats, and just like in dogs it is transmitted by mosquitoes. Once mature, the heartworm infects the right side of the heart and the large vessels of the lungs. While cats have a lower incidence of heartworm than dogs, the prevalence of the infection is directly related to the number of infected dogs in the area. Fortunately, heartworm is preventable with a year-round treatment. Many of the products we recommend for flea and tick prevention also include a heartworm preventative.

Fleas/ticks: Fleas are the most common external parasite of cats. They are a responsible for flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in cats, which is responsible for a significant percentage of all dermatological reported to veterinarians. Ticks can be a vector for many serious infections including Lyme Disease. To provide the best protection for your cat we recommend giving your cat a flea and tick preventative year-round.

Toxoplasma gondii: Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplama gondii (T. gondii). Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases and has been found in nearly all warm-blooded animals, including humans. The good news is T. gondii rarely causes significant clinical disease in cats or people (pregnant women should discuss concerns with their physician and not be involved in cleaning the litterbox, as T. gondii can be harmful to the fetus). Cats can be exposed when they hunt and kill small animals, then an infected cat can shed the parasite in their feces for 7-21 days the first time they get infected. However, T. gondii can survive for months in soil, in your garden (or in potting soil) or in your child's sandbox. Limiting your exposure to T. gondii is simple, ensure you clean cat feces out of your yard. Wear gloves and wash your hands after gardening or digging in the soil. Keep children's sandboxes covered when not in use. When cleaning the litter box put cat feces in a plastic bag and then in the trash and wash your hands thoroughly when you are through.

Feline Retroviral Testing

Feline leukemia (FELV) and feline AIDS (FIV) are 2 very serious diseases that afflict our feline companions. They are spread through contact with an infected cat’s blood, saliva or bodily fluid or directly from mother to kitten. Because these diseases are contagious and potentially fatal, we strongly recommend testing your new kitten before introducing him/her into your family. Testing requires a small blood sample and is performed at the clinic in approximately 10 minutes.

Spaying/Neutering

Spaying and neutering decreases or eliminates the risk of developing certain life-threatening or costly diseases in our beloved pets. For this reason, we recommend spaying or neutering your kitten between 4 to 6 months of age. If you have questions or concerns about this procedure please talk to the veterinarians at one of your kitten’s wellness visits to determine what is right for your individual cat and household.


Microchipping

We strongly recommend microchipping your new family member. Microchips help reunite lost pets with their owners. If you pet ever does get lost having a microchip significantly increases the likelihood of them finding their way home as most animal hospitals, shelters and animal control officers have a scanner and will be able to identify your pet. We use the AKC microchip and lifetime registration with AKC’s CAR (Companion Animal Recovery) service is included in the implantation fee. These microchips are ISO compatible which means they are good for international travel. Microchipping can be performed at any of your kitten’s wellness visits, or you can have it done at time of spaying/neutering.

Adult Feline Wellness

Yearly wellness exams are important for your adult cat, even if they appear generally healthy. Having your cat examined at least once a year allows the veterinary health care team to monitor your pet’s health and look for conditions such as obesity, arthritis and dental disease. This allows us to work with you to formulate a plan for your individual cat to treat any concerns before they become a serious issue. If our veterinary care team finds your cat has a chronic issue, we might recommend wellness visits every 6 months to ensure any problems are treated in a timely manner.


Vaccines

Feline Distemper (FVRCP): Feline panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper) is a serious, potentially fatal, and highly contagious feline disease. The virus is shed in the feces of an infected cat and can survive in the environment for months to years, it is also resistant to most available disinfectants. Fortunately, the vaccinate vaccine for feline distemper is safe and effective. The vaccine we use also protects against feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus which are responsible for 80-90% of all upper respiratory infections in cats. This vaccine can be given every 3 years.


Rabies: Massachusetts State law requires all cats be vaccinated again rabies. Rabies can be spread through saliva or blood of infected animals and pets can be exposed through wildlife such as raccoons, bats, possums, and rodents. In accordance with Massachusetts State law at your cat’s first visit we administer a 1-year rabies vaccination. After the second vaccination we can your cat to a 3-year rabies vaccination schedule. The 3-year schedule has been proven effective and reduces the number of vaccinations your pet needs to receive to be protected.

Feline Leukemia: Feline Leukemia or FeLV is a deadly virus that is found in the saliva and nasal secretions of infected cats. It is spread through prolonged contact with infected cats, bite wounds, and from and infected mother cats to her kittens. The disease caused by FeLV is very serious and many infected cats do not survive more than 3 years. Outdoor, or indoor/outdoor cats are at the highest risk for exposure and your veterinarian will help you decide if this vaccine is right for your cat.

Internal Parasites

Intestinal Parasites: Kittens can be exposed to parasites which can be passed to humans, to ensure their health and safety, as well as your own, we recommend that all puppies have their stool examined. Fecal examination entails Giardia testing, and microscopic examination of a direct and flotation preparation of feces to check for worm ovum (eggs) and coccidia.

Heartworm: Heartworm is an increasingly recognized problem in cats, and just like in dogs it is transmitted by mosquitoes. Once mature, the heartworm infects the right side of the heart and the large vessels of the lungs. While cats have a lower incidence of heartworm than dogs, the prevalence of the infection is directly related to the number of infected dogs in the area. Fortunately, heartworm is preventable with a year-round treatment. Many of the products we recommend for flea and tick prevention also include a heartworm preventative.

Fleas/ticks: Fleas are the most common external parasite of cats. They are a responsible for flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in cats, which is responsible for a significant percentage of all dermatological reported to veterinarians. Ticks can be a vector for many serious infections including Lyme Disease. To provide the best protection for your cat we recommend giving your cat a flea and tick preventative year-round.

Toxoplasma gondii: Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplama gondii (T. gondii). Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases and has been found in nearly all warm-blooded animals, including humans. The good news is T. gondii rarely causes significant clinical disease in cats or people (pregnant women should discuss concerns with their physician and not be involved in cleaning the litterbox, as T. gondii can be harmful to the fetus). Cats can be exposed when they hunt and kill small animals, then an infected cat can shed the parasite in their feces for 7-21 days the first time they get infected. However, T. gondii can survive for months in soil, in your garden (or in potting soil) or in your child's sandbox. Limiting your exposure to T. gondii is simple, ensure you clean cat feces out of your yard. Wear gloves and wash your hands after gardening or digging in the soil. Keep children's sandboxes covered when not in use. When cleaning the litter box put cat feces in a plastic bag and then in the trash and wash your hands thoroughly when you are through.

Feline Retroviral Testing

Feline leukemia (FELV) and feline AIDS (FIV) are 2 very serious diseases that afflict our feline companions. They are spread through contact with an infected cat’s blood, saliva or bodily fluid or directly from mother to kitten. Because these diseases are contagious and potentially fatal, we strongly recommend testing your if he/she has a history of fighting, contact with strange cats or is sick. New adult cats should be tested prior to introducing them to the rest of your family. As there is no safe, effective vaccine against FIV, cats with an at-risk lifestyle (outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats, engage in risky behavior) should be tested annually. Testing requires a small blood sample and is performed at the clinic in approximately 10 minutes.


Microchipping

We strongly recommend microchipping your new family member. Microchips help reunite lost pets with their owners. If you pet ever does get lost having a microchip significantly increases the likelihood of them finding their way home as most animal hospitals, shelters and animal control officers have a scanner and will be able to identify your pet. We use the AKC microchip and lifetime registration with AKC’s CAR (Companion Animal Recovery) service is included in the implantation fee. These microchips are ISO compatible which means they are good for international travel. Microchipping can be performed at any of your cat’s wellness visits.


Dental Care

Dental health is an important part of your cat’s overall health. Maintaining their oral health can help prevent infections and help protect their immune system. We recommend good oral hygiene for your dog and offer a complete line of at home dental care products ranging from tooth brushes and paste to rinses and treats. We examine our patients’ mouth and teeth as part of our routine yearly exams. This is a good time to discuss dental disease with your pet’s doctor and determine if any dental procedures are necessary.

Senior Feline Wellness

Senior pets require specialized care, and regular wellness exams are an important part of maintaining their health. Annual wellness exams allow the veterinary health care team to monitor your cat’s health and look for conditions such as obesity, arthritis and dental disease. This allows us to work with you to formulate a plan for your individual cat to treat any concerns before they become a serious issue. If our veterinary care team finds your cat has a chronic issue, we might recommend wellness visits every 6 months to ensure any problems are treated in a timely manner. Some patients might require laboratory testing to monitor organ function or drug levels at more frequent intervals.

Senior Health Screening

Laboratory Testing: we recommend at least yearly blood testing for senior pets. Basic screening for senior cats includes a complete blood cell count (red and white blood cells, platelets and hemoglobin), general chemistry panel (BUN, creatinine, Alk Phos, Glucose, ALT, total protein, calcium, phosphorus, albumin, amylase, total bilirubin and cholesterol), thyroid and a complete urinalysis. Regular laboratory screening allows us to diagnose diseases in your cat much earlier, which enables us to treat any underlying conditions much more successfully than waiting until your senior cat is seriously ill.

Tonometry: glaucoma is a very common eye disease that can lead to pain and blindness if not diagnosed early. As part of a comprehensive senior wellness program, we recommend regular measuring of your cat’s intra-ocular pressure. This provides us with baseline information, and if your cat’s pressure rises, it enables us to begin treating for glaucoma much earlier—before your pet is in pain or loses vision.

Blood Pressure: Hypertension is a common and sometimes underdiagnosed problem in our older cats. If your veterinarian suspects your cat may have hypertension they may recommend a screening to help determine if your feline companion needs to be on blood pressure medication.

ECG: Some cats develop cardiac arrhythmias and other heart problems with age. An electrocardiogram can be a good early screening tool to ensure your cat's heart is healthy.

Radiographs: Our older feline companions are more prone to arthritis, pulmonary issues and cancers. Sometimes routine radiographs can help rule out these serious conditions or help our doctors assess the severity of your cat's problems so appropriate treatment plans can be made.

In addition to the senior specific health screens we recommend the same course of vaccinations and parasite prevention as adult dogs.

Vaccines

Feline Distemper (FVRCP): Feline panleukopenia (also known as feline distemper) is a serious, potentially fatal, and highly contagious feline disease. The virus is shed in the feces of an infected cat and can survive in the environment for months to years, it is also resistant to most available disinfectants. Fortunately, the vaccinate vaccine for feline distemper is safe and effective. The vaccine we use also protects against feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus which are responsible for 80-90% of all upper respiratory infections in cats. This vaccine can be given every 3 years.


Rabies: Massachusetts State law requires all cats be vaccinated again rabies. Rabies can be spread through saliva or blood of infected animals and pets can be exposed through wildlife such as raccoons, bats, possums, and rodents. In accordance with Massachusetts State law at your cat’s first visit we administer a 1-year rabies vaccination. After the second vaccination we can your cat to a 3-year rabies vaccination schedule. The 3-year schedule has been proven effective and reduces the number of vaccinations your pet needs to receive to be protected.

Feline Leukemia: Feline Leukemia or FeLV is a deadly virus that is found in the saliva and nasal secretions of infected cats. It is spread through prolonged contact with infected cats, bite wounds, and from and infected mother cats to her kittens. The disease caused by FeLV is very serious and many infected cats do not survive more than 3 years. Outdoor, or indoor/outdoor cats are at the highest risk for exposure and your veterinarian will help you decide if this vaccine is right for your cat.

Internal Parasites

Intestinal Parasites: Kittens can be exposed to parasites which can be passed to humans, to ensure their health and safety, as well as your own, we recommend that all puppies have their stool examined. Fecal examination entails Giardia testing, and microscopic examination of a direct and flotation preparation of feces to check for worm ovum (eggs) and coccidia.

Heartworm: Heartworm is an increasingly recognized problem in cats, and just like in dogs it is transmitted by mosquitoes. Once mature, the heartworm infects the right side of the heart and the large vessels of the lungs. While cats have a lower incidence of heartworm than dogs, the prevalence of the infection is directly related to the number of infected dogs in the area. Fortunately, heartworm is preventable with a year-round treatment. Many of the products we recommend for flea and tick prevention also include a heartworm preventative.

Fleas/ticks: Fleas are the most common external parasite of cats. They are a responsible for flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in cats, which is responsible for a significant percentage of all dermatological reported to veterinarians. Ticks can be a vector for many serious infections including Lyme Disease. To provide the best protection for your cat we recommend giving your cat a flea and tick preventative year-round.

Toxoplasma gondii: Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a single-celled parasite called Toxoplama gondii (T. gondii). Toxoplasmosis is one of the most common parasitic diseases and has been found in nearly all warm-blooded animals, including humans. The good news is T. gondii rarely causes significant clinical disease in cats or people (pregnant women should discuss concerns with their physician and not be involved in cleaning the litterbox, as T. gondii can be harmful to the fetus). Cats can be exposed when they hunt and kill small animals, then an infected cat can shed the parasite in their feces for 7-21 days the first time they get infected. However, T. gondii can survive for months in soil, in your garden (or in potting soil) or in your child's sandbox. Limiting your exposure to T. gondii is simple, ensure you clean cat feces out of your yard. Wear gloves and wash your hands after gardening or digging in the soil. Keep children's sandboxes covered when not in use. When cleaning the litter box put cat feces in a plastic bag and then in the trash and wash your hands thoroughly when you are through.

Feline Retroviral Testing

Feline leukemia (FELV) and feline AIDS (FIV) are 2 very serious diseases that afflict our feline companions. They are spread through contact with an infected cat’s blood, saliva or bodily fluid or directly from mother to kitten. Because these diseases are contagious and potentially fatal, we strongly recommend testing your if he/she has a history of fighting, contact with strange cats or is sick. New adult cats should be tested prior to introducing them to the rest of your family. As there is no safe, effective vaccine against FIV, cats with an at-risk lifestyle (outdoor or indoor/outdoor cats, engage in risky behavior) should be tested annually. Testing requires a small blood sample and is performed at the clinic in approximately 10 minutes.


Microchipping

We strongly recommend microchipping feline family member. Microchips help reunite lost pets with their owners. If you pet ever does get lost having a microchip significantly increases the likelihood of them finding their way home as most animal hospitals, shelters and animal control officers have a scanner and will be able to identify your pet. We use the AKC microchip and lifetime registration with AKC’s CAR (Companion Animal Recovery) service is included in the implantation fee. These microchips are ISO compatible which means they are good for international travel. Microchipping can be performed at any of your cat’s wellness visits.

Dental Care

Dental health is an important part of your cat’s overall health. Maintaining their oral health can help prevent infections and help protect their immune system. We recommend good oral hygiene for your dog and offer a complete line of at home dental care products ranging from tooth brushes and paste to rinses and treats. We examine our patients’ mouth and teeth as part of our routine yearly exams. This is a good time to discuss dental disease with your pet’s doctor and determine if any dental procedures are necessary.

Helpful “Purrfect” Tips for Litterbox Training

Most cats will naturally seek out a sandy, granular place to eliminate. There are things cat parents can do, however, to encourage proper litter box use throughout a cat’s life. Find tips on how to litter train your cat, as well as the best type of litter box to get, below.

Choosing the Right Litter Box

Most people buy litter boxes that are too small for their cats, according to Sally J. Foote, DVM and International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) certified feline behavior consultant. Your cat’s litter box should be approximately one and a half times its length. Waste should be scooped out of your cat’s box every day and the box should be thoroughly cleaned once a month, said certified cat behavior consultant Marilyn Krieger.

Your cat’s preference for eliminating in an area that is clean stems from the fact that in the wild, a cat is both predator and prey. For the same reason, many cats prefer to use an uncovered box they do not like to feel trapped.

Whether or not your cat prefers a restroom with or without a roof comes down to your kitty’s personal preference, while others prefer an enclosed space. We suggest giving your cat a choice in the beginning to see what they prefer.

Finding the Right Litter

If you’re bringing a new cat into your home, the best choice of litter is the kind they used in their previous home. Keeping the litter clean is more important than what specific type you use.

Most cats prefer fine-grained litters, presumably because they have a softer feel. However, have their own individual preference when it comes to scented or unscented and clumping or non-clumping litters.

How frequently you replace the litter depends on how many cats and boxes you have and what type of litter you use. For none clumping litter it is recommended that you replace clay litter twice a week. If you do scoop the box daily, however, you might only need to change clumping litter every two to three weeks.

Where to Put the Litter Box

Litter box placement can be a critical factor in encouraging your cat to use the box. Experts recommend having at least one box for each cat in your household per level of your house (i.e. two cats in a two-story home should have a minimum of four litter boxes) and not stashing them in a closet. Again, this is because cats don’t like to feel cornered or trapped during toileting. You’ll also want to make it easy for your cat to get to the box or boxes. Just like us cats don’t want to walk a long way and through multiple rooms to get to the bathroom.

Cats also need some sort of light to see and find their boxes. If there is no ambient light where you keep the litter box consider using a nightlight.

How to Potty Train a Kitten

Luckily for pet owners, it’s a kitten’s mom who does the important work of litter training her kittens. Kittens begin to model their own elimination habits on their mother’s litter box behavior from around two or three weeks of age. However, kittens that have been raised without a mother to learn from may require help figuring out the litter box.

To help those kittens, use a kitten-sized litter box (a 13 by 9-inch pan) then graduate to a more commercial-sized box. Keep the kitten, his or her food and water, and the box in a small room with no rugs or carpet. Each time the kitten uses the box, give him or her a treat and clean the box.

Helping Older Cats Use the Litter Box

As cats age, they may have a tougher time making it to the litter box. To help, provide your cat with more litter boxes throughout the home so that he or she doesn’t have to travel too far to reach one. Age-related issues like arthritis can also make it tough for cats to step up and into litter boxes with tall sides so look for a box with a lip that’s just two to three inches high. If your cat begins eliminating outside of the litter box, speak with your veterinarian as soon as possible to rule out any underlying medical issues that may be causing the inappropriate urination.

Being aware of any physical limitations that may develop as your cat ages, knowing your cat’s unique preferences for litter and litter boxes and placing litter boxes with cats’ natural instincts in mind will help ensure litter box success throughout their lifetime.

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