Kitty Klinic
4411 Lacey Blvd SE
Lacey, WA 98503
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Tips for helping your cat through a trip to the Vet

Getting your cat into the carrier
The carrier should be part of your cat's daily life. It can be used as a bed or a treat station. Pet your cat while in the carrier, close the door and carry around the house. A quick errand can serve as a practice trip. We encourage you to bring your cat to the clinic, reward it, and return home as often as you think is helpful. Comfort your pet if upset and reward positive behavior. Catnip, lavender or feline pheromone can be used. Put an article of clothing or a favorite toy in with the cat to comfort it. This item can be used for your cat to hide in once you are at the clinic. Sitting quietly in the exam room talking softly for 10 minutes before the exam can be helpful as well. If your pet really gets upset we can send home a tranquilizer. If vomiting from car sickness occurs then withhold food for two hours before the trip. Some carriers have room to add a small litter box for cats that urinate or defecate. Filling the space with absorbent material like newspaper or bed pads can help even in a small carrier. Some cats do better if closed in a space without a view out, while others prefer to see. Soft sided carriers can collapse down and while some pets like that feeling, others don't. Experiment at home and then when the time comes for a visit it won't be so scary for your cat or a fight for you. Avoid placing two pets in the same carrier. After the examination putting two upset cats back into the same carrier can easily cause a fight. Bringing a favorite toy, treat or catnip can be helpful.

At the clinic
Cats know what you are feeling, and this makes them such a special pet. Unfortunately, they also know when you are worried, anxious and upset. Try to stay calm and talk in a low pitched, soothing voice. Do not place the carrier near another cat, and do not get another cat's smell on you. Place a coat or blanket over the crate to help muffle sounds.

Holding your cat tightly, staring in its face and 'shhh' sounds may further upset your cat. Leave your cat in the crate, and we will take him/her out when ready. Physical correction, verbal scolding and holding the cat near your face should be avoided. If your cat is hissing, growling, etc. leave it be. Do not hold eye contact with an upset cat. Cats do not act like they do at home and it is important no one gets hurt. Really upset pets may need to be sedated for a proper examination. If you bring two cats the calm one should be examined first. Get only one cat out at a time so they don't upset each other. Cats which are making upset noise should be left in the car or another room to avoid winding up other pets.

Cats are not faking when they are upset and can really inflict injury. It is fear based behavior and they are ready to fight or flight. Sometimes obtaining samples, diagnostic procedures, etc. may require a general anesthetic. You can imagine how scary being confined suddenly, a car ride, and then a new person in a totally strange place doing weird things to you must be. Laying the groundwork with the carrier, transportation, and medical exam will pay off for you, your pet, and us. Call ahead if you have concerns. Working as a team with a plan makes the trip go smoother.

At home after your appointment
When at home place the carrier in the normal position and open the door. If your cat needs frequent medication, a small space like a bathroom can help prevent hiding and the counter-top or sink can be a good place for treatments. Gradually re-introduce the cat to other cats you have to prevent rejection. Rubbing the pet with a bed or towel containing its normal scent can help also. Establish a routine for giving medication and follow it up with petting or a treat. We have many suggestions and flavored preparations to help make the medicine go down. Some of the options include small tablets, trans-dermal paint-on preparations, liquid flavorings, medicine incorporated into treats and the like. Do not get into a fight with your pet. If you are having trouble call for help. Do not give up! Cats can be challenging, but it is possible to work around them and get the job done.

Cats can be taught to accept pills by using a reward like a small amount of tuna to gradually introduce the concept of opening the mouth and putting something in to be swallowed. Similar training can be used for trimming nails, brushing, cleaning ears, restraint, etc... Laying this kind of groundwork really will pay off as most cats will need medication or treatments at some time in their life.

We love cats! We want you and your special animal friend to live a long and healthy life. To accomplish this goal requires at least a yearly examination. Having a plan, preparing in small amounts by practicing, and staying calm will make your trip to the Kitty Klinic routine. You are part of our health care team. Don't be afraid to ask questions, for a demonstration, written instructions, or further information in writing or online. We are here to help!

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Fat Cats

It has been estimated that 25% to 33% of cats are overweight or obese. This is a life time issue just like it is for people. It is caused by lack of exercise, improper diet and a reward system that is food based. Sound familiar? Obesity is linked to diabetes, breakdown of joints, fatty liver disease, bladder infections, heart disease, high blood pressure, and other diseases. I believe that it shortens a cat's life and reduces their enjoyment too.

One of the reasons there are more cats than dogs kept as pets is because of their ease of care. Put down a big bowl of food and forget it, until the cat reminds you it's gone. Their food is designed to taste good, feel good to the cat and have a long shelf life. Contrast this to a natural cat. Always hunting, and always eating small amounts of protein rich foods infrequently.

Increasing activity is important to combat ovesity. There are many toys on the market, and some - like fishing toys or flashlights can be used while sitting down. There are puzzle toys designed to release food while the cat plays. Small amounts of food can be placed at several locations, so the cat can hunt for it. Love can be expressed by a massage or playtime rather than giving a treat. All members of the family should understand the weight loss goals for the cat, and all food given should be measured and recorded. The cat should lose weight slowly over many months and the weight should be measured and written down on a regular basis. If the cat isn't losing, then adjust the amounts slowly downward.

Cats are carnivores. All of their teeth are sharp, their eyes are designed for hunting, their intestines are short to process mostly protein, their play behavior is soft then moves in for the kill. They are not small humans, not matter how much they seem like our babies. Dry food contains grains because they can be mixed, molded into shape and stored. Meat in larger amounts must be dried, frozen, canned or put into a pouch for a long shelf-life. Consequently, cats eating dry food get too many carbohydrates. This may lead to overeating and diabetes.

Most canned foods have more protein of a better quality than dry foods. In addition, canned food has more water. I believe that makes them more satisfying than dry food. A study published recently showed that when cats were fed 46% of their calories from protein they lost more fat and less lean body weight than at 36%. At the Kitty Klinic some of the cat owners who had been struggling for years finally had success with a canned-only diet fed in measured amounts twice a day. We do not recommend a raw meat diet, as that can be the source of many health hazards if not handled properly.

When choosing a food, look for meat listed as the first ingredient. Grains should not be one of the first three ingredients. Some believe that rice, oats or barely are better than wheat, corn or soy. Be aware that grainfree isn't carbohydrate free. Avoid foods that contain many fruits and vegitables. Cats do not naturally eat peas, carrots, corn, potatos, cranberries, kale, etc...

Many cats prefer dry food texture to canned food. Try a transition first to twice a day feeding, then sprinkle dry food or tuna over the wet. Hand feeding and praise may also work. Be patient and you will be rewarded by a cat that is healthy and has a new enjoyment of food. Your veterinarian will love it too!

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Environmental Enrichment

Environmental Enrichment enhances the life of your cat by providing techniques that stimulate natural behaviors, leading to happier cats.

What is Environmental Enrichment?
Environmental Enrichments are various methods of increasing the amount of natural behaviors cats express. By increasing the frequency of natural behavior, it helps the cat cope with stress and generally improve cat welfare.

Play Behavior
Play behavior is directly related to cat welfare and toys stimulate play behavior. The ideal toys should be those that cats can use to recreate hunting behaviors (stalking, pouncing, capturing, and chewing on prey). Balls, toys on strings, feathers, etc. are best at allowing cats to "hunt" because the cat can capture and chew on the toy (unlike laser pointers). Scents like catnip or sounds like crinkle paper can add to the experience. Balls that dispense food or toys that can be consumed give the full reward of his/her hard work. However, it should be noted that toys should be rotated frequently as cats quickly lose interest in toys left in their environment.

Separate Spaces and Structures
Cats require separate spaces for sleeping, eating, and waste elimination (some cats even prefer separate litter boxes for urination and defecation ) and get comfort and security from areas that are off the ground since their natural behavior includes climbing and jumping. They enjoy spending time on shelves or high platforms that act as vantage points, environmental complexity, resting areas and areas of retreat. They prefer perches that are off-limits to other cats and have been known to become aggressive if not enough good spots are available. Many cats which are passive like hiding spots, but cardboard boxes, play tunnels, cat trees, window ledges and shelves can encourage active, normal behavior and produce a happier pet.

Feeding Methods
The ideal feeding methods should mimic natural behavior (location/capturing) as much as possible. Therefore, the food should take time to consume and obtaining it should occupy a significant portion of the day. Encouraging this activity can be achieved by hiding small amounts of food in multiple locations or feeding in small amounts of food frequently, and with puzzle feeders (especially those that require the use of paws, tongue, and brain power). Puzzle feeders must be played with to get food and imitate their natural feeding schedule. These methods take pressure off of the owner as the source of food and allow better calorie control which reduces obesity and increases activity.

Other Forms of Enrichment
Adding sensory variation such as scents, fur toys, perches or food can provide interest and stimulate activity. Massage and grooming is appreciated by most cats. In order for cats to enjoy this type of handling though, it is important that they are socialized with humans from an early age - one study showed reduced cat stress by being handled at a young age by the same person for a month. Cats generally have more positive reactions to petting directed towards their heads. Sensitive areas such as the belly should be avoided as cats can have aggressive responses to being touched in those areas. Each cat is different, some like scratching, some stroking, some brushing, etc... If owners learn what their pets like best, cats will show appreciation and love for the attention in return.

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Cats and Eating

For a cat who supports itself, hunting is an activity that requires 6-8 hours a day. Over 100 daily hunting trips are needed as only 1 in 15 trips are successful. These are frequent, high energy trips of a solitary hunter resulting in a small amount of food consumed with each trip. The activity is a combination of stalking, running, pouncing, playing, climbing, etc... The hunting and eating is done alone. Kittens practice hunting in play and most adult cats play all their lives - even when they don't need to hunt.

Sleeping is also important, and even cats in the wild sleep 12 hours a day. Pet cats sleep 18 hours or more, thus replacing some high-energy hunting time with low-energy naps.

For people eating is a social activity, and a time of bonding and expressing love. Owners naturally use feeding as a time to interact with their pet and show love too. Food may be used to lure the cat so the owner can enjoy the interaction. Cats quickly learn to manipulate their owners into dispensing food and treats. Timed feeders or feeding only when the owner is home can reduce the pressure on the owner to provide the food. Because eating is not social for cats, feeding probably does not bond them to their owners. Easy tasty, high volume food with lots of naps has made obesity a common problem in pet cats.

Grooming involves up to 30% of a cat's waking hours and can involve mutual grooming between cats as a social interaction. It is also a stress relieving activity. Pet owners interacting by stroking, rubbing and brushing can make grooming a bonding experience appreciated by their cat. The pet must feel like they are in charge of the activity to feel safe. The cat must be able to initiate the social grooming, and come and go as they please.

Playing is another cat activity that can burn energy and be social for the cat. Toys should stimulate normal hunting behavior. Rapid unpredictable movement, small size, high-pitched noise, ability to be captured, and dispensing food are all attractive traits to cats. Catnip or rabbit scent is also appreciated by some cats. Toys should be rotated frequently as cats will rapidly lose interest in toys left out. Over-feeding cats will not reduce their desire to hunt. If treats are given they should always be combined with activity. Climbing, going through tunnels, scratching, jumping to elevated perches and similar activities can add extra dimension to play.

Cats will eat to reduce stress but that can be decreased by providing a constant and as predictable an environment as possible. High perches, hiding spots and good sleeping areas that provide warmth, elevation and privacy are necessary. Cats will alter their sleeping locations regularly and choose surfaces that hold body heat. They temperature-regulate by alternating their location too. They need a secure place to hide in when they feel threatened. Remember, cats need to feel in charge even when they are not.

Even a small reduction in calories in vs. calories out will result in a big change over time. Making a healthier pet and a happier owner as play, grooming and social interaction deepen the bond and share the love between cat and owner.

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Pet Disaster Preparedness Checklist

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Help a cat in need

The Kitty Klinic is accepting donations to help cats without homes or who have owners that can't provide an essential service for their pets. All of the money is placed in a special account for this purpose. Those who donate $5 or more receive a special cat charm!

Questions? Feel free to talk to the front desk for further information.

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