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My cat is nearly impossible to give pills or liquids by mouth. How can I administer medication prescribed for my cat?

We have an experienced team at The Cat Hospital of Fairfax, Inc. that is knowledgeable about other routes of administration such as transdermal gels (these are applied to bare skin such as the ear flap), flavored treats, medi-melts, mini-tabs, pill pockets of all flavors and consistencies, long–acting treatment injections under the skin, prescribed daily injections under the skin that we teach owners to give, transdermal patches, and techniques for making medication administration a more positive interaction with the owner. We have an array of compounding pharmacists to choose from to fill prescriptions tailored to the individual cat preferences. Flavorings can include chicken liver treats, beef chews, triple tuna flavor suspensions, and vanilla melts. Other items to utilize are butter, low salt chicken or beef broth, cream cheese, salmon flavored cream cheese, Kraft squeeze cheese, half-n-half, liver pate, ham cubes, greenie pill pockets, meat wraps, cantaloupe flavor, honey flavor, meat baby foods (all prescribed cautiously with any allergies in mind).

Is there pet health insurance for veterinary healthcare?

Yes. One of the largest and most complete providers of veterinary pet insurance is VPI (Veterinary Pet Insurance) by Nationwide Insurance. Another company that has emerged as an excellent provider is Trupanion. Additional providers include FIGO Pet Insurance and EMBRACE Pet Insurance.

Is there financing available as an option for veterinary treatments and diagnostic tests that my veterinarian recommends for my cat’s best healthcare?

Yes, there is an option for veterinary treatment care fees called Care Credit. This is a medical, dental, and veterinary medical financing service that has great options including interest-free financing for a specified number of months. It is very easy to sign up for and utilize for acute and ongoing care.

Do you have weekend and night time hours?

Unfortunately, Dr. Ellison is unable to provide 24/7 veterinary care. She works over 70 hours a week on patient care, patient records, practice maintenance needs, and continuing feline medicine education. So, the veterinarian time that can be devoted to patient care has limits in availability to be able to maintain sharp, focused individualized care. Some of the patient needs do require the expertise of veterinary specialist in acute care medicine therefore the emergency centers in the area provide the best treatment care for these individuals.

My cat is nervous coming to the vet. How can I make this easier for me and my cat?

Utilizing pheromone calming wipes or sprays in the carrier such as Feliway, and using a carrier cover or towel over the top helps greatly. Using a carrier that opens up on the top as well as the side, and a carrier that is small so that the cat can have a snug, non-weaving ride in the car, is always helpful. Carriers that have a top portion that unlocks and comes off is greatly helpful. Cats should have access to the carrier at other times at home to sleep in or eat treats, or smell catnip inside. One should plan how to pick up your cat the day of the trip to the vet without allowing him/her to start a fearful run-and-hide situation. The Cat Hospital uses Feliway diffusers in the rooms to release calming pheromones.

Are vaccinations really necessary for my indoor cat?

Yes. The basic FVRCP (“feline distemper combo”) is vital to protecting kittens and adults from specific serious viruses and keeping up their immunity to reduce degree of illness, especially with the common cold virus strains that infect cats. One extremely common cold virus among cats, feline rhinotracheitis (in the herpes virus family) is carried dormantly for life, and a stress event can cause it to start replication and re-emerge. Immunization at proper intervals helps keep this virus from overtaking a cat and causing chronic uncomfortable symptoms or more serious events such as loss of an eye. Rabies vaccination of pet cats is a protective practice required by law because Rabies Virus infection is a fatal disease. Animal bites including cat bites to a human or other pet causes risk for Rabies; other serious infections result from cat bites to humans and are a reportable condition to the health department. Quarantine of a pet is issued by the health department with no exceptions. Fairfax City, Fairfax County, and the Commonwealth of Virginia all require rabies vaccination by law. All these jurisdictions have reported Rabies cases (Virginia Epidemiology information) every month in cats, raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats or other species. All mammals can be infected with Rabies.

Are flea/heartworm/multi-parasite preventive monthly prescriptions really necessary for my cat?

The CDC, the CAPC (Council on Parasite Control), the American Heartworm Society, and other epidemiology agencies report that indoor cats have about the same exposure to mosquitoes as outdoor cats, and Virginia has a Heartworm infection rate of 2.2%. That is 1 in 49 cats. Flea eggs and larvae live in the soil, wood piles, mulch, and are carried indoors easily. Visiting dogs and cats that are infected drop off flea eggs everywhere they go. Flea eggs, larvae, and pupal cocoons can remain dormant for over a year in a house and molt and emerge when conditions change. The prevalence of roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms, continues to be high in our pet cats and all are infectious to both humans and cats (and dogs, and other species). With the climate changing and the global movement of people and pets, these infections are no longer limited to the warmest and southernmost areas of the United States. For example, in the state of New York, Heartworm infections in cat is 2.6%.

What should I feed my cat?

The choice of cat foods that meet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) feeding recipe standards for stages of life and also that have AAFCO feeding control trials and appropriate health testing and digestibility studies include, for example, Royal Canin, Iams, Purina, and Science Diet. There is much more to making a balanced cat food than formulating a recipe on paper and selling it. It must be nutritious and digested appropriately and proven scientifically. If a pet food company does not have these standards with all the science behind them, then the purchaser is assuming more risk of an unbalanced diet. Both the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) and the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommend against feeding raw foods and frozen raw food, particularly proteins, that are undercooked because of significant risk to public health. They may contain harmful bacteria including Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter, Listeria, Toxoplasma, and other parasites. Regardless of what you feed your pet, the diet should be free of pathogens that can sicken you, your pet, and your family.

My cat urinates/defecates outside the litter box. What could be causing this?

Many times an illness associated with discomfort in the litter box may be occurring such as constipation, diarrhea, urinary pain, or difficulty squatting due to arthritis. Other times, the box is too small, too dirty, or located in an unattractive site (laundry room washer and dryer noise or water pipes gushing, or a cold distant dark room with cement floors). Sometimes the cat prefers a different substrate for litter and most cats do not like to smell their own excrement when in a covered litter box. Sometimes in a multi-cat household the cat is worried about another more dominant cat that may be around the corner or has had a spat with him/her near the litter box. Medical problems are common and it is best to have these issues ruled out by the veterinarian first.

I never see my young cat drinking water much. Is there something wrong with my cat?

Cats are sort of desert-like creatures, and their kidneys tend to be good at filtering out and excreting the body wastes without a lot of water going out with them in the urine. A young cat’s kidneys can save the water and put it back into the bloodstream. Therefore, owners may not see their cats at the water bowl much during regular day activity. Cats need about 22 ml (this is about a tablespoon and a half) of water per pound of body weight a day for basic maintenance needs. Part of their water needs are ingested with a canned food diet. Canned food is about 78 to 85% water (which is a good thing!). A small part is also ingested in dry foods (they do contain some moisture). Water bowls should be cleaned daily and rinsed well because of the build-up of organisms (that pinkish line/stain that accumulates in/on certain water containing areas in your house is Serratia sp. !!) Fresh cool water in several sites in the house encourages water drinking. Mature and Older cats commonly have medical conditions that cause increased urine output and increased water drinking, so veterinary advice is best.